The unity and fullness of the body of Christ can never be fully expressed in the local congregation. It is but one member of the body of Christ. Nevertheless, it is in and through the local body that our participation in the body of Christ is enjoyed. Against the modern notion that church membership is an outdated, restrictive practice, one cannot legitimately claim to be a part of Christ’s body unless he is a recognized part of a local congregation that makes up his body. Imagine an eye claiming to be part of the human body while rolling down the sidewalk, occasionally jumping into an
Think of your most precious possession. It might be a book or a painting, a piece of jewelry that belonged to your grandmother, or a tool used by your grandfather. Perhaps it is a picture album, a pressed flower from your first bouquet, or an athletic trophy. Whether the value is intrinsic or sentimental, its worth pales in comparison to time. Time is the one possession we are constantly losing, consuming, poorly or wisely. We cannot save it, recover it, or duplicate it. We may have a significant amount left on our personal clock, or very little. We check our bank accounts; we cannot
After a full day of preaching and ministering to lost souls, Jesus and his disciples boarded a boat at Capernaum to make a night crossing of the Sea of Tiberias. In the midst of the passage, a tempest arose, with peels of thunder and bolts of lightning. Threatening a watery grave, the turbulent wind pushed the sea into the small vessel. Panic stricken, the disciples searched the boat for Jesus. They found him asleep, weary from his work, gathering strength for the day ahead, unmindful of the howling wind and perilous surge.
Each day, an encyclopedia of misery is written with the ink of human suffering, tears, and blood. Children starve, endure neglect, and are prostituted. Husbands beat their wives. Young men die in war. Hospital wards are full of the diseased and dying. Mothers pine away for children lost to the world. Nursing homes smell of death and disinfectant. A family’s lone breadwinner loses his job. Hungry men, women, and children scrounge dumps for any morsel of refuse to satisfy their gnawing, bloated stomachs. Crops fail. Currencies are debased. Homes burn, collapse, or flood.
Survivalists finally have their day in the sun. For decades, their advice on everything from hoarding gold to canning food has been viewed as kook-dom. I suspect that many people now wish they had taken their warnings a little more seriously. Perhaps their timing was a bit off in the seventies; it may still be. Yet, it is certainly hitting closer to home, for the mask of statist promises of prosperity through economic regulation and manipulation are now exposed as self-serving and self-enriching demagoguery, elitist arrogance, and hopeless futility.
I can hear the snickers the first time a Roman believer said to his next door neighbor: "You know, there is another King, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for our sins and rose from the dead to make us righteous in the sight of God. He is now ruling at God’s right hand until all his enemies are made a footstool for his feet." His neighbor waits. No punch line. No drawing back of the gospel sword.
Satan’s malicious war against the children of Christian parents is intensifying. When I survey all the evidence, I can come to no other conclusion. Over the last several years, we have seen five covenant children in our congregation repudiate their church membership vows, rebel against God-constituted authority, and trample underfoot the Son of God by denying the most fundamental commandment of the second table of the law and the foundational law of every lawful and just society: “Honor your father and mother.” Evidence of Satan’s war is not limited to our congregation.
In his thought-provoking book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, the late Neil Postman concludes with a rather disturbing observation about American culture. It has become a burlesque. We are not as familiar with this term today. Synonyms are parody, lampoon, skit, or even travesty. Can-can dancers of Western lore come to mind, or Al Jolson of the silent film era. At least, however, everyone knew this was burlesque. It was not taken seriously or as a serious form of communication.
Unbelieving men are held in the grip of an ineradicable fear. This fear has one source: the anticipation of divine judgment of which Paul speaks in Romans 1. God, the true God, has inescapably revealed himself to all men, in nature and in each man’s heart. When men refuse to worship and serve him, when they worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator, guilty fear gnaws away at the soul. Man cannot live with this fear, and he tirelessly attempts to insulate himself from the specter of approaching doom.
It seems to me that the church has missed the boat on the seeker-friendly movement. The world is not seeking the church; to affirm this turns the Bible’s theology and anthropology upside down and denies the explicit teaching of our Savior. God is the only seeker of the lost; none seek him - him, the true God, not a God of man’s imagination, feeling, or longing. And man’s seeking of the idols of his heart is not a stepping stone to seeking the true God.