When I was in high school, I would often go with my parents to a small, rural Baptist church. I wasn’t too interested in the traditional, country style of the worship service. My least favorite part of the service was the “fellowship time.” Every week, the song leader would sing the same chorus as people walked around the room shaking hands with everyone. You may have heard the familiar saying, “Familiarity brings contempt.” That’s what happened for me with the song we would always sing during the fellowship time. It didn’t take long to get on my nerves.
But as I began to reflect recently on the topic of our adoption into God’s family, the song popped into my head. It’s called “The Family of God.” Here’s the chorus:
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod For I’m part of the family, the family of God
I hate writing songs. The reason is simple: for me, songs come from pain. I haven’t written a song lately, but I know that writing is one of the cathartic gifts God has given me. So, since I didn’t bring a guitar with me to the hospital, I’ll go with a blog post this time.
Carmen has been admitted to the hospital three times and has been to the ER three times all in the last seven weeks. We never saw it coming.
At my church, we have been going through the book of Exodus on Sunday mornings. I’m excited to introduce a song that I’ve known for some time now because it fits perfectly with the message of the Torah. Check out Jude Doxology by Ghost Ship.
I remember her trembling voice, her tear-filled eyes, and I can still quote what would come next. Occasionally, I would push my mother to the limit with my bad behavior. In those moments, she would recite Philippians 2:12. I came to dread hearing the words: “You need to ‘work out your salvation with fear and trembling!’” She meant well. She was worried for me. I had exasperated her. But what my mom didn’t realize was that she had missed the point of the verse.
There are many who make the argument that church membership is unbiblical because it is not specifically detailed or explicitly mentioned in the Bible. We believe this understanding to be shortsighted. Although it is true that explicit instruction for receiving members into local churches is absent from the biblical text, the concept of church membership can be clearly seen through both descriptive and prescriptive biblical texts.
Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.
I remember calling a close friend a few years ago around Christmastime. He is a fellow preacher and I was looking for some advice on a sermon introduction. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but what I do remember helped me broaden my perspective on the Christmas season. He said something like this: “For you, Christmas is a happy season because you had a wonderful family growing up. For me, Christmas brings a lot of painful memories because I come from a broken family.” His comment helped me realize (shockingly) for the first time that some people are hurting during this happy season.
Imagine how a widow feels during Christmas. I would wager that many widows struggle this time of year with feelings of sadness, grief, and loneliness. That makes December a perfect time for us to take action and begin to practically love the widowed members of your faith family.
I remember a sermon my dad used to preach when we were on furlough from the mission field. He would ask a simple question, “Why were you born in the United States?” He would explain the responsibility that the fortunate have to bless and minister to the unfortunate. His argument was simple but profound: those who can bless others should.
I preached from Deuteronomy 10:12–22on Sunday. In the text, we saw the compassionate concern God exercises for the orphan, the widow, and the sojourner. We also saw that God commands His people to mimic His compassion for the positionless and marginalized. During the sermon, I suggested some practical ways to serve orphans, widows, and sojourners. I presented five categories for engagement: we can pray, give, support, serve, and/or go.
I don’t celebrate Halloween. Never have. There are lots of reasons why, none of which I would want to legislate on someone else. Here are the top three:
1. Halloween was absolutely restricted in my house growing up, so I have no nostalgia attached to this dark “holiday.”
2. I’m not into spooky stuff. It’s not my thing. Never has been. Never will be. I don’t like horror movies for the same reason I don’t like super spicy foods: when I’m trying to enjoy myself, I don’t want to be uncomfortable.
3. My wife grew up the same way, so we have no interest in celebrating Halloween as a holiday.
To be sure, there are other, more personal reasons. But despite my ambivalence toward Halloween, I still get really excited about October 31st. Why, you ask? Because it’s Reformation Day!