Monday, January 28, 2008

The Manner of Some

A very well-known, often-used verse of the Bible is Hebrews 10:25 - "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." This verse has been especially associated with absentee Christians. There are many members of the church who consider it necessary to come only once a week on Sunday.

This is there custom. The word "manner" in the Greek is "ethos" and pertains to that which is a usual or customary manner of behavior. It may also be defined as a habit. Thayer explains that many of these customs have their original prescription from the law.

When you see this word in other sections of the New Testament, it is mostly identified as an accepted custom of a group of people. It was customary for the Jews to assemble in Jerusalem for the Passover feast (Luke 2:42). It was a custom for the Jews to be circumcised, therefore they struggled with accepting the uncircumcised Gentiles (Acts 15:1). Jesus was buried according to the accepted manner of the Jews (John 19:40).

Perhaps the most significant word in Hebrews 10:25 is the word "some."This word means only certain ones. Some is not all, and yet some is also more than none. The implication of these two ideas together is that there are a few who have made it their custom to be different than the rest. The problem is that this custom is not according to a commandment or law, but rather is disobedient to the command to assemble when the saints have gathered together.

Habits are hard to break. I have come to understand that there is no sermon, no Scripture, and no approach that will break the manner of some. But my prayer is that each one will love the Lord and His church enough to assemble at every opportunity with the body of Christ.

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord.'" ~ Psalm 122:1

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Don't Blame DVR and TiVo

Superbowl time means Superbowl parties. I know that I love to watch the Superbowl and I usually get together with friends to watch it. (I could care less about half-time and I am glad I wasn't watching Janet a few years ago). I know there are many Superbowl parties across the nation. I am thankful that mine is with Christian friends and I don't have to worry about drinking, smoking, designated drivers and all the other worldly norms.

But there is still one thing about the Superbowl that Christians are having a problem with. It is putting a game before the Lord. Churches are having "Super Sundays" and other gimmick-type events. They change their times of worship because they don't want to miss any of the game and they think that others won't come on Sunday night when the Superbowl is on.

Growing up I lived on the west coast. The pacific time zone meant I never saw the end of any Superbowl. I was at church services for these occasions. My parents taught me that no secular event ever takes precendence over the assembly of God's people. There were no exceptions. I thank God for their example and the blessing it has been to me in my spiritual life. And guess what? Not watching wasn't the end of the world.

I am thankful for DVR and TiVo, and any of these new programs that allow us to watch things when we want to. Last year, one of our members had several people over after evening worship and we watched the entire Superbowl with no interruptions. But what if these services were not available now? Would we miss the assembly? Would we figure God would overlook this one time because of other faithful moments? Would the elders throw in the towel and have an early service? If so, then we need not blame Tivo or DVR. We need to examine ourselves.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." ~ Matthew 6:33

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Lord's Church

The title of this article is one that is being met with much displeasure these days. I am sorry to say it, but many do not like to hear about it. People don't like the description. They think it is exclusionary, arrogant, and egotistical.

For example, when someone asks me what church I am a member of, I often reply, "I am a member of the Lord's church." Perhaps I might say, "I am a member of the church you can read about in the Bible." Again, I could say, "I am a member of the body of Christ", of the "church of Christ." Now that last one gives them what they want. Now they can categorize me into their own opinion about what they think I believe.

I would like to examine this within the light of Scripture, what does the Bible say about the idea of The Lord's church?

Matthew 16:18 - "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

Acts 2:47 - "Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

Acts 20:28 - "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

Ephesiasn 1:22-23 - "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."

Ephesians 5:23-25 - "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her."

If the Lord built the church, added to the church, purchased the church, is head of the church, and if the church is His body, and it is subject to Him in everything, doesn't it makes sense that it belongs to Him? I think the real problem lies with those who have attempted to organize a church to be something other than the Lord's. Unfortunately, they have accomplished their goal.

But as for me and my house, we will continue to let the church be His, and urge and teach others to flow into it. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Josh. 24:15).

"...or despise Ye the church of God?" ~ 1 Corinthains 11:22

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

I feel adequately prepared to write about this. My father is legally blind and my grandfather's vision is also very limited. So before anybody thinks I am being unfair I thought I would mention it.

Tonight I went to the LCHS basketball games (girls and boys). Across the gym when the whistle blew I heard I guy halfway up the stands scream at the refs about a call they had just made. This guy was wearing an eye patch! I am sorry but I laughed out loud! Immeditaely my mind drifted back to that old commercial with Bob Uecker sitting up in the nose-bleed section, having been led there by a sherpa and his mountain goats, and screaming, "He missed the tag! He missed the tag!"

Before we go too far, however, I would like to talk to the rest of you who are wearing eyepatches. Yes, you, I am talking to you. I am talking to me. How many times have we claimed spiritual vision? How many times have we seen the faults in others without looking at ourselves? How many times have we allowed this bold opinion to cause us to make a fool of ourselves when we didn't even know it? More times then we know. Because the patch remains.

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." ~ Matthew 7:1-5

Monday, January 14, 2008

Your Church Building Described

I asked my 6 year-old son Luke to define for me the different places in the church building where one may find himself. I gave him the one word description, and he responded with his definitions:

Pulpit - A thing that is wooden at the front of the church building where someone gets up and speaks a long time about God.

Pew - Some of those things that people sit on at church.

Nursery - Where babies go when they need comfort and peace.

Fellowship Building - The place where we go every New Year's Eve to play games, and to eat potluck on 5th Sundays.

Foyer - Where people sit down and talk to each other and sometimes they talk standing up.

Aisle - The walkway that me and dad go down to open the doors to whatever that is that starts with "F."

Auditorium - Where all the people go to worship.

Wings - The sides of the building that have those rectangle lights and that stuff.

Classroom - Where kids have Bible class and where teachers teach them about Jesus.

Baptistry - Where somebody goes into God's family (they have to believe and they have to hold their breath).

How familiar are you with the church building? I guess it all depends on how much time you spend there.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


It fits. I don't know if this is an actual number you can call, but it has the right amount of digits. It may work. Does it sound far fetched? I used to think so. Until last week while listening to my radio in my car I heard the latest OnStar commercial. OnStar is a service provided by General Motors by way of global positioning. They help motorists with any problems they may have while in their car. Their website explains - "OnStar is the in-vehicle safety and security system created to help protect you and your family on the road" (

In their commercials, they use an actual recording of a request they have fulfilled from a motorist. This has included everything from locking the keys in the car to a woman who is in labor following an automobile accident. But the latest commercial is something different all together. A man uses his OnStar service because his daughter is at the church, ready to marry, but the preacher didn't show up. So he asks for help from his car. Believe it or not, the OnStar agent connected him with a local woman pastor who was willing to show up and marry the couple on the spot. The commercial ends with the father of the bride thanking the agent for saving the wedding.

Is it just me, or have we digressed as a people? I always though marriage was holy. I recognize that this couple may have planned the wedding for a long time. They may have considered their decision very seriously. They may have prayed about it for a long while. But there is something about the convenience of this situation that is disturbing. I think it is important to consider that big decisions are not to be taken lightly.

In Romans 7, Paul compared the marriage relationship with a Christian's relationship with Christ. As in marriage, it is supposed to be a relationship that is sustained until death. This is not a relationship of convenience. It is a bond of love, sacrifice, submission, and selflessness. Baptism is often made to be too convenient. We will do it when everybody gets together, rather than immediately because our soul is lost as we speak. We need to get back to doing things the way the first Christians did them. We need to consider that being in a society of convenience may lead to us being a church that is spoiled rotten.

True commitment in relationships is measured by the sacrifice one is willing to make in order to maintain them. Getting an understanding of this when one is already in the middle of the process is not ideal. Marriage between a man and woman is the most important human relationship on can have in this lifetime. It is not to be taken lightly. Marriage between a person and Christ is the most important spiritual relationship a person can have, period. Let's not dial it up. Let's take it seriously.

"Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another--to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God." ~ Romans 7:4

Thursday, January 3, 2008

"The Bible says..."

Riding home last night from Bible class I was congratulating Daniel for defeating Goliath. I don't have the story wrong, I know it was originally David who achieved this great feat. But in Daniel's Bible class they have a picture of Goliath on the door and a nerf sling shot. Last night, according to the teachers, Daniel hit Goliath right between the eyes. There was great celebration and fanfare. He was raised on shoulders and carted around the room and such - the usual treatment for fantastic achievements.

Not to be outdone, Luke then piped up from the back of the vehicle, "The Bible says that David hit Goliath with a stone, and then he took Goliath's sword and chopped of his head." That is, of course, the way it was done (1 Samuel 17:49-51). A rather gory truth, but still a truth. So much for the nerf slingshot.

What is important about this event from last night is not that Daniel hit Goliath with a nerf projectile. Although I am enjoying my children, and I am glad they talk and share with me, this is still not the main story. The important point is that my son knows what the Bible says. He knows because someone took the time to teach him. He knows because somebody took the time to take him to Bible class. He knows because children are interested in what the Bible has to say.

If my son hit a home run, I would be excited. If my son scored a touchdown, got straight A's, or won a community service award, I would be proud. But I would give up all of those possibilities immediately if my son could with regularity answer the questions of life with "The Bible says..." Because the grass withers, and the flower fades, but the word of our God endures forever.

"If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine..." ~ John 7:17