Do you ever wonder if you make a difference? Do you ever have the thought, “I’m just one person...how can anything I do change anything?”
I saw a story about a deputy sheriff who stopped a man who was out walking around 2:30 one morning. The man was obviously homeless.
They talked for a while and the deputy learned that both of the man’s parents and a sister had passed away around the same time. This had plunged the man into the abuse of drugs and alcohol. This, in turn, had estranged him from his living brother and sister.
As they talked, the deputy asked if the man needed anything. The man asked for a Bible. The deputy normally kept a couple of “give away” Bibles in the trunk of his squad car, but found the only Bible he had was his personal Bible.
After a few moments of thought, the deputy decided to give the man the Bible. The man was also hungry, so the deputy made a quick run to a fast food place and bought the man some food. When the man pulled out a couple of crumpled up dollars, the deputy refused to take them and just said, “This one’s on me.”
Six months later a 911 dispatcher received a phone call. It was the man...wanting to thank the deputy for “saving his life that night.” Because of the deputy’s kindness, the man checked himself into rehab and had reconciled with his brother and sister and was now living with his brother (as opposed to being homeless).
How many times do we see folks with needs and ignore them? How many times do we rationalize that they may “swindle” us if we help them? How many times do we think that if we help them once they’ll keep coming back over and over again?
Jesus tells us that whatever you do for others you do for Him and that whatever you do not do for others, you do not do for Him (see Matthew 25:31-46).
While I don’t believe Jesus wants us to “doormats” or an ATM machine for people with needs (either as individuals or as a congregation) I do believe that if we can help others we should. Who knows, just one act of kindness can change one person’s whole world!
Have you ever heard something and wondered if it was right or wrong? This probably happens to most of us daily. Someone says something and we don’t know if we should believe them or not.
Perhaps you have even asked that question about spiritual matters. Maybe you are talking to someone and they make a spiritually themed statement and you wonder if they are right or wrong. It could even be that you heard a preacher say something and had the same thought.
On Sunday morning, April 3, 2016 we’re going to start answering “Right or Wrong?” questions. In order for this to be as effective a series of lessons as possible, I need your help: I need you to ask me “Right or Wrong” questions.
The length of the series will be determined by the number of questions submitted. I will try to answer each (serious) question asked, although I may combine similar questions into one lesson or address multiple unrelated questions in a single lesson.
What do I mean by “serious” questions? Questions that can be answered from the Bible, i.e. not personal preference questions. For example, don’t ask me: “Right or Wrong: (insert politician’s name here) would be a good President of the US?” Or if they would doom the US, etc.
So what am I looking for? Well, here are five questions that will be addressed in the series:
Right or Wrong: Do all roads lead to heaven?
Right or Wrong: Do I have to get baptized?
Right or Wrong: Once saved, always saved?
Right or Wrong: Do I need to speak in tongues?
Right or Wrong: Do I have to attend every service?
Where the series goes from there is totally up to you. If you have ever heard someone say something about the Bible and wondered if it is “Right or Wrong?” (no matter how “stupid” the question may seem), don’t be afraid to ask it.
Oh, and don’t worry, I (probably) will not use any names.
As you are probably aware (or maybe not) October 16, 2016 is the date for the 2016 NWA churches of Christ area-wide worship service. It will again be at the Springdale Performing Arts Center. It will again start at 5:30 PM. It will again be followed by sessions on Monday and Tuesday night at a yet to be determined location.
So why am I telling you about an event that is seven months away? Well, while a lot of what will happen is the same, there are a couple of differences...and they are HUGE!
This year we want to answer questions submitted by anyone in the greater Northwest Arkansas area. The way that it works is thus:
1. Go to the website www.12questionsnwa.org.
2. Answer the following question: “If you could ask Jesus one question, what would it be?”
3. The most asked question will be answered on Sunday night, October 16, 2016 at the NWA area-wide worship service.
4. The second and third most asked questions will be answered on Monday and Tuesday night, respectively.
5. The fourth most asked question will be the topic for the Wednesday night preacher exchange.
6. Questions 5-12 will be recorded by area preachers. These recordings will be posted on the 12 questions website.
Another difference concerns Monday and Tuesday night. There will be a special session for our teens with the 12 most asked questions by teens. Questions 1 & 2 will be answered Monday and Tuesday, then questions 3-12 will be recorded by area youth ministers and posted to the website.
In the near future, there will be various ways to promote this event to your friends. There will be some business cards you can pass out, we will also have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages set up. This is the extent of our advertising. The success of this event depends on YOU!
Oh, and to answer the inevitable question: questions DO NOT have to be submitted by members of the church. Actually, that is the purpose behind this idea: to answer “others” questions.
This event has incredible outreach potential. Questions must be submitted by the start of May (to enable us to secure the best possible speakers to answer the questions). So start today to encourage your friends to visit:
Recently, one of the men who was serving communion approached me after the Sunday morning service. He told me he was distressed because while communion was being served, he noticed several of our members were “playing” on their phones or tablets.
Please understand, he was very deliberate in his choice of words. He also was in a position where he could see what was on the screens of the folks in question...it was NOT a Bible App they were looking at. It was text messages, games, etc.
And it wasn’t just the one week, either. He had seen the same people doing the same thing at the same time for several weeks. And it’s also not just the kids and teens…adults were doing this too. He said with some people it seemed to be a pattern.
He then asked me if I would preach a sermon on how we should behave during the worship service. My response was that, unfortunately, the same people who were playing during communion also play during the sermon, so they would not hear anyway.
I am not anti-technology, but I am pro-God. If we cannot make it through an entire worship service without checking our e-mail, text messages, or how an online game we are playing is progressing…spiritually we may be dying.
I found this picture online a few weeks ago. A couple of the indicators mentioned are appropriate to this discussion.
In particular, I want to call your attention to the one at the top: “The story of the cross no longer moves you.” Please think about that for a moment.
It is distracting when people are playing on their phones during the sermon and other times during the worship assembly (both to those around them and to the one leading). And some would even say it is disrespectful to the ones who are leading us in worship.
But even worse is that it is disrespectful to God, who sacrificed so much for us in sending Jesus to die on the cross. And to do this during the time set aside to remember the death, burial and resurrection comes painfully close to, in the words of the author of Hebrews, “…crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace” (Hebrews 6:6).
Consider also what Paul says about this time in the worship service in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29:
"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself."
When we (anyone, male or female) allow anything (electronic device or not) to take our focus off of our relationship with Jesus and what He did for us on Calvary during this time, we “eat and drink judgment on (ourselves).” And, what’s worse, we put others who we distract in the same situation.
My purpose has not been to get anyone mad or upset (though I probably have). Others, besides this particular brother, have told me in the past how distracting it is when people are playing games on their phones, etc. during the service (again: NOT Bible apps, games).
My purpose is to gently remind us that God has done, and is doing, and will do so much for us. My purpose is to encourage us to “wake up” before it is too late. My purpose is to warn us, lest we eat and drink judgment on ourselves. My purpose is to prevent us from dying spiritually.
Is it too much for us to turn our phones and other devices off (not just “silent”) for a little while so we can put our total focus on Him for about an hour or two? After all, 2000 years ago when He came, YOU were HIS total focus...for about six hours one day as He hung on the cross!