Our society seems to be lacking a lot of things. But one rather large, very noticeable thing it lacks is unity. It seems like people are looking for reasons to divide, rather than reasons to unite. If you do something I don’t like, then, well, you must be a (insert deregulatory term of your choice here) and we just can’t be friends anymore because I’m not going to be friends with a __________.
Unfortunately this can be seen in the church as well. One person says, “’Brother So-and-So’ said something bad about (or did something bad to) ‘Brother Such-and-Such’. Why, now they aren’t even speaking! What are your thoughts? Whose side are you on?” And if the hearer doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the speaker…
What is really important when we come together as a church? What is really important as we seek to set a united example to the world? Jesus prayed in John 17:20-21 for all who would believe in Him through the testimony of His disciples that they would all be “one”. This oneness is not just something that we share for three or four hours a week while we are inside the same building. It impacts every aspect of our lives.
Just a little while before He prayed this prayer, Jesus told His disciples, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
On Sunday night, October 8, Dr. Bruce McClarty, President of Harding University, will be speaking on the subject of “Unity in Our Fellowship” at the area-wide worship assembly. The singing starts at 5:30 at the Springdale Performing Arts Center at Springdale High School. You really should plan to attend!
Then on Wednesday night, October 11, the annual Preachers Exchange will focus on “Unity in a World of Division.” I would suggest you plan to be here, well, every Wednesday night, but make special plans to be here on October 11.
But what does unity really look like? How can we really display the love of Christ…especially in our community? Let me share an example with you.
This past Sunday something terrible happened in a southeastern suburb of Nashville, TN. A man arrived just as services were dismissing and shot and killed one lady and wounded seven others at the Burnet Chapel church of Christ in Antioch, TN.
Caleb Engle, a 22 year old man who was serving as an usher on Sunday, is hailed as a hero…praise that he quickly redirects towards others…for confronting and restraining the shooter until the authorities arrived. Following the tragic events, he “tweeted”:
“I ask everyone to pray for the victims, family members of the victims, our church community. Please pray for healing. Also, please pray for the shooter, the shooter’s family and friends. They are hurting as well.
I pray that through all of this that people will come to know Christ and I ask our nation to reflect on Romans 8:31, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?'”
Did you catch his words: he asked for prayers for victims, their families, their church, and for the perpetrator of this crime and his family and friends. That is one way to show the love of Christ to a lost, dying, and divided world…especially to a wounded community.
As Christians, if we are united in the love of Christ, we will be united everyday and everywhere we go. Then there will be no stopping us because God will be working through us and God will be working for us and “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
If you are on FaceBook, I would really encourage you to search for the page “Radically Christian” and then follow it. I do not know Wes McAdams personally, but he has been blessed with a wonderful gift of being able to delicately stomp all over my toes. Here is his post from September 20, 2017...
If you know me and my family personally, you probably know my nine-year-old son loves baseball. He watches nearly every Texas Rangers’ game on television (or lies in bed listening to them on the radio), he pitches for his Little League team, he could sit and talk about baseball for hours on end, and it’s a rare occasion that he does not have some sort of ball in his hand (even in the house). But I strongly believe Christian families need to exercise caution when their children have athletic talent and passion.
The Idolatry of Sports
I believe anything can become an idol and I think a good definition of idolatry is, “Feeling about some thing the way you should only feel about God.” Idolatry is believing, deep down in your heart, that you cannot be whole without this thing in your life. In other words, this thing makes life worth living. So, it’s not hard to see how Americans idolize sports:
· Are the gigantic stadiums we construct really very different from ancient temples?
· Aren’t professional athletes sort of like priests, who intercede with the sport on our behalf?
· Don’t Americans watch, listen to, and read about sports religiously?
· Doesn’t our favorite team playing seem to trump everything else in our lives?
· Isn’t our emotional state dependent on the performance of our team?
· Don’t many Americans believe sports make life worth living?
I don’t want my son to idolize baseball. I don’t want him to think baseball makes life worth living. I don’t want him to believe he can’t be whole without baseball. I want him to know baseball could disappear overnight and everything would be just fine.
Don’t get me wrong. I want him to play baseball and enjoy it as long as he wants to; but at the end of the day, I want him to remember that it is a game…not a god.
The Priority of Jesus
When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me, “You can only have one priority.” There can only be one thing that’s most important in your life. There can only be one thing that takes precedence over everything else. As a father, I am determined that baseball will NOT be our family’s priority.
In Matthew 10:37-39, Jesus said this about being His follower:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
If Jesus was talking to us today, wouldn’t He say, “Whoever loves baseball or soccer more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves football or basketball more than me is not worthy of me”? Jesus and His kingdom must be our priority. Everything else must be considered “rubbish” in comparison (Philippians 3:8).
Every Christian family must decide how they will go about making sure sports never become idols in their homes. We all must make sure that in our own hearts, and in the hearts of our children, some mascot does not sit on the throne where Christ should be seated. We must not allow sports to rule over our lives, dictating our schedules and determining our emotional state. We are going to have to turn off some games and verbally declare, “Sports are not an ultimate thing in our home.”
We are going to have to be incredibly intentional to spend far more time, money, and energy on the things of Jesus Christ than we do on sports. Children intuitively understand what is most important in your home. They pick up on the verbal, and non-verbal, cues about what takes precedence. They can tell if games and practices are more important to us than worship, Bible study, evangelism, and service to others. It isn’t just the sermons we preach with our mouths, but the sermons we preach with our wallets and our calendars.
As my boys grow, I have to constantly ask myself the rhetorical question, “Am I raising athletes or Christians?”
The original article can be seen here: http://www.radicallychristian.com/are-we-raising-athletes-or-christians
Within the past few weeks, two hurricanes have devastated two coastlines of the United States. There are wildfires burning out of control in the western part of our country. There are also tornados, earthquakes, floods, and other types of natural disasters that seem to occur all to frequently.
Inevitably when something tragic happens, we wonder what we can do to help...or we should. Perhaps we contemplate what it might be like if a disaster happened right here in Siloam Springs. What would we want/need? Where would we turn?
For a number of years now, our congregation has been sending a monthly contribution to an organization called “Churches of Christ Disaster Relief” in Nashville, Tennessee. And what do they do, exactly? I will let their website answer:
Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort immediately responds to any major disaster in the continental United States. We contact the leadership of local Churches of Christ in or near a major disaster area. If the leadership says their local congregation wants to help, we send and turn over to that congregation truckloads of emergency food, personal hygiene, infant care, water, cleaning supplies, and pallets of additional basic needs, for them to distribute to the disaster victims. These supplies are to be given to anyone affected by the disaster, regardless of race, creed, origin, gender, or religious preference.
Again, we (as a congregation) contribute monthly to this effort, so that when disaster strikes, they can respond. To date, 23 tractor trailers have been sent to aid those impacted by hurricane Harvey. As soon as it is safe to travel, trailers will be on the way to assist those impacted by hurricane Irma (they probably already are).
Yet with two significant hurricanes in such a short time, the needs are great. So the elders have decided that Eastgate will send some additional monies to further assist this incredible ministry.
In the near future, we will be given the opportunity to help Churches of Christ Disaster Relief. Please begin now to prayerfully consider how you might be able to help. Not only will you be helping with physical needs, you may just be partly responsible for helping to meet a spiritual need. Just imagine the ETERNAL difference you could make for someone!
One of the “perks,” if you will, of my job is that I get to read the bulletins of several area congregations. A few weeks ago, the Center Street Bulletin had something interesting in it and I thought I would share it with you. It is originally from “Sermon Fodder.”
Everything I needed to know in life I learned from a jigsaw puzzle
1. Don’t force a fit. If something is meant to be, it will come together naturally.
2. When things aren’t going so well, take a break. Everything will look different when you return.
3. Be sure to look at the big picture. Getting hung up on the little pieces leads to frustration.
4. Perseverance pays off. Every important puzzle went together bit by bit, piece by piece.
5. When one spot stops working, move to another. But be sure to come back later (see #4).
6. The creator of the puzzle gave you the picture as a guidebook.
7. Variety is the spice of life. It’s the different colors and patterns that make the puzzle interesting.
8. Establish the border first. Boundaries give a sense of security and order.
9. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations. Some matches are surprising.
10. Take time often to celebrate your successes, even little ones.
11. Anything worth doing takes time and effort. A great puzzle can’t be rushed.
So, when life throws a puzzle your way, remember these guidelines and you’ll soon see what a beautiful picture God has placed before you!