Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Learning a Lesson from a Strange Place

I don't have time for much TV watching during the day, but once in a while when I have laundry to fold, or I don't feel good, I'll fire up Netflix and see what I can find.  With a small daughter at home, I have to be doubly careful what I choose.  Yesterday, I found a show called "The Paradise," and decided to give it a try.  It's a BBC show, so I kept one hand on the remote, expecting to have to turn it off any moment.  What I got instead was a lesson on loving your enemy that beat any sermon I've heard in church about the topic. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

13 Tips for a Visitor Friendly Church

"Thou shalt greet visitors."

Okay, so this one didn't make it to the Ten Commandments, but being kind and welcoming to guests in our congregations is very important, and not so we can keep our pews filled.  Every visitor who comes through our doors has the potential to be a seeker, an unbeliever who has questions about Jesus and the church.  If we are an unwelcoming, insular group of people, then that visitor may never come back to our church or any other.  More than losing a warm body, we may be losing a soul.  So how can we be more welcoming to the new faces who walk through our doors?  We have a few tips today that we challenge you to read and follow in the weeks to come. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Honoring our Parents

One of the first verses I had my children memorize was Ephesians 6:1: Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  I liked having a verse that specifically applied to children, and if they obeyed the verse, it helped me out!  However, the mandate to honor and obey parents is not limited to people under 18.  In the lists of sinful activities in Romans 1 and 2 Timothy 3 have "disobedient to parents" among such sins as murder and malicious gossip. Serious stuff.  How can we as adult children make sure that we are not falling into sin as regards the people who raised us? Once again, we must turn to the example of Jesus.  As an adult, he showed us how to respect our parents by the way he treated his own mother.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

After Acts: A Book Review

All of the apostles except John were martyred.  Peter was crucified upside down because he refused to be killed in the same way Christ was.  Paul went to Spain, and Matthew evangelized cannibals.  

I've heard these statements all my life, and although I knew they weren't recorded in the Bible, I assumed that the stories were based on reliable historical fact.  When I read After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles, by Bryan Litfin, I was surprised to find out that "early church tradition" isn't as reliable (or as early!) as I had thought. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Letters of Encouragement

Mail boxes
On today's Make a Difference Monday, I'd like to share with you something our congregation does to fulfill the command to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11,14; Hebrews 3:13, 10:25).  We have a long list of people who could use encouragement on a long term basis.  About half are prisoners in our prison ministry, and the other half are the chronically sick, missionaries, college students, soldiers, and anyone else who needs to be built up on a regular basis.  Our congregation is divided into four "teams." Each week, one team leader writes a letter of encouragement and makes enough copies for each person on our encouragement list.  Then the members of the team sign the letters, hopefully leaving a short personal note as well. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Sins of Un-

We often think of sin as "the bad things we do" or even the "the bad things we think."  More rarely someone understands that even the bad things we feel, for example hatred or covetousness are wrong and should have been submitted to Christ.   This is a "positive" view of sin.  In other words, this way of thinking understands sin as "The things we do, think, or feel that we should not."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jessie's Girl

One of the things that bugged me about living abroad was how terribly out of touch I felt.  As a nerd of the first caliber, I have never been caught up on pop culture but I'm not usually an ENTIRE decade behind.  Once in a while I still have to say, "Sorry, I must have missed that while I was gone," but these days we are LESS lost. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Cure for Greed

Hello, my name is Melissa, and I am idolater.  It's been one day since I've been greedy.  Sometimes it seems like I don't know how to stop worshiping money.  The sad thing is that sometimes I don't even know what I'm doing.  Then an extra expense comes up, and I feel that little knot of anxiety.  I see an opportunity to give, and I pass it by because we just don't have it this week.  But we have it.  Extra giving just isn't in the budget this week, and I'm sure God understands that I need a grand in my emergency fund.  When I begin to question if we can afford what we have budgeted to give, I finally see the greed for what it is.  I've put God behind money.  Again.  I look back and see all the signs, and I regret it.  Then it creeps up on me again. How can I break out of this cycle?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lovers of Money

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.  For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. Colossians 3:5-7

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Purer in Heart

Heather Pryor, from Pryor Convictions publishing, has just published a book that stands out in two aspects.  Purer in Heart is designed to be as useful for a girl of 13 as it is a woman of 63.  And although it does lean towards application in a woman's life, it covers a wide variety of Biblical topics.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Generation Gap

If you've ever looked closely at the New Testament you might notice the conspicuous absence of youth ministers, youth groups, and youth rallies.  Not to say that these things are somehow against the teaching of the New Testament, just that they aren't there.  Like many other things, including song books and church buildings, they are simply a convenient way to fulfill the commands of the Lord.