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Saturday, October 13, 2007

What a Fellowship! Pass the Pie!

I will be preaching tomorrow morning (October 14) in a foothills community about one hour southwest of Colorado Springs. The chairman of the board just called to inform me a fellowship dinner will follow the morning service. I'm all for that! Fellowship dinners, often called potlucks, are occasions for eating, conversing, eating, and eating. I often wonder how churches would survive without fellowship dinners.
Some time ago, I heard about a third-grade teacher would tried to tried to teach her students about religious diversity. She asked them to bring something to class the following day that represented their religion. A Jewish boy brought a Star of David, a Catholic girl brought a rosary, a Muslim boy brought a prayer rug, and a Protestant girl brought a casserole dish.
I'm sure I will have a gourmet encounter with several casserole dishes tomorrow.
The New Testament meaning of "fellowship" goes beyond what normally comes to mind. It suggests a joint participation in the work of the gospel. The apostle Paul expressed his gratitude for the Philippian Christians' fellowship [partnership] in the gospel "from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:5). Although he was a prisoner in Rome when he wrote his letter to the Philippians, Paul still received prayer support and financial support from his Christian friends at Philippi (1:19; 4:14–18).
When I preach tomorrow, I will endeavor to encourage the congregation to partner together to spread the Good News of Christ. Pass the gospel, and pass the pie!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rockies Win! Rockies Win!

They did it! The Rockies won the first game of the NLCS by defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5 to 1. Now they have won 18 of their last 19 games.
All reports indicate harmony and happiness pervade the Rockies locker room. That’s understandable, because belonging to a winning team, whether in sports or business or some other venture, carries a sense of oneness and accomplishment. Who doesn’t want to be a member of a team that fulfills its purpose?
Christians belong to a team whose purpose is far more important than that of winning the NLCS or even the World Series. Our goal is to introduce as many people as possible to Jesus Christ. Realistically, we will not persuade everyone to believe on Jesus, but we can win more people to Him if we all do our part. If we share the gospel in reliance in the Holy Spirit, we may be pleasantly surprised at the results.
The boys of summer will put away their baseball uniforms and equipment soon, but the task of sharing the gospel will continue until the Rapture. God’s team still has much work to do.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Go, Rockies!

This is a big day in the life of every Colorado Rockies fan. Tonight, the Rockies play the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first game of the NLCS Series. This marks the first time the Rockies have made it to the NLCS Series. To get to this level, the team has won 16 of its last 17 games. No small feat!
I must confess I am not a big fan of baseball, but the Rockies have my support (for what it’s worth), and I will be cheering for them tonight. Several Christians are on the Rockies’ roster, and I appreciate the team’s quiet resolve to give its best effort every time the ump yells, "Play ball.” Humility and determination are refreshing traits in today’s showcase-yourself sports culture.
Our adult son Brian is an avid baseball fan. He started collecting baseball trading cards when he was about ten. He can recall stats and discuss strategy. He is also a huge Nuggets basketball fan. If you go to a sporting event with Brian, plan on staying to the very end. His team loyalty will not allow him to leave a game early even if the home team trails significantly in the last inning or minute of the fourth quarter.
Team loyalty should count for something in our church life too. If the pastor leads a godly life, preaches God’s Word faithfully, and shepherds the flock conscientiously and the elected leaders serve well, we should attend regularly and cheer our church on. Sure, another church may attract a bigger crowd, offer livelier music, and provide lots of fun-filled activities, but let’s not desert “the home team.” After all, God judges success by the standard of faithfulness not flashiness.
Tonight, many Rockies fans will hold signs that read: GO ROCKIES! My editorial background prompts me to point out the signs should read GO, ROCKIES! A comma separates an imperative verb and an appellation. If you want to take a sign to church that declares your loyalty, do so. Just remember the comma: GO, MY CHURCH!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Let's Move from PC to TC

Preschool Sunday school lessons often teach students that God made all things, He made them, and He made families. The desired responses to these truths follow: each child should obey God, obey Mommy and Daddy, be kind, and share. The reasoning behind these themes assumes preschoolers are too young to understand the gospel. Some would agree twos and threes are too young to understand the gospel, but teachers of preschoolers run the risk of leading children to believe good deeds merit God’s pleasure and acceptance. When these children pass through the Kindergarten and Primary Departments, they must “unlearn” what they learned earlier. They discover good deeds do not merit God’s pleasure and acceptance. They learn they are sinful and can be saved only by grace through faith in Jesus as Savior.
Nowadays the gospel is often withheld from adults. Many pastors have bought into the idea that postmodern adults cannot understand concepts such as sin, judgment, and salvation. So they have tailored the gospel to fit the culture. Instead of preaching compassionately and authoritatively that every person is a sinner destined for hell unless he or she believes in Christ, who shed His blood for our sins, was buried, and rose again, politically correct (PC) pastors proclaim a soft, gentle, palatable message. “You are special,” they say. “God loves you, has a wonderful plan for your life, and invites you to trust Him to fulfill your dreams.”
Frankly, I would rather be TC (theologically correct) than PC (Politically correct). The apostle Paul could have argued that first-century Greek and Roman pagans would not understand the gospel, but he chose to be theologically correct and preached the gospel clearly and authoritatively. He knew the Holy Spirit enlightens the minds of sinners (1 Cor. 2: 4, 5, 14; 2 Cor. 4:3–6) and the gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).
I am fully in favor of helping non-Christians move from the known to the unknown by explaining unfamiliar biblical terms; however, I deplore every attempt to alter the gospel to make it pleasing to those who want to believe God is simply a celestial Santa Claus or a doting philanthropist or a genie devoted to granting their every wish.
The apostle Paul commanded the Galatians to reject any gospel that isn’t the gospel (Gal. 1:6–8). His command should reverberate today in seminary classrooms and church auditoriums throughout the land.
Let’s move from PC to TC.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What Part of "STOP" Don't We Understand?

If you visit Colorado Springs or move here, you may be surprised to see more bad driving than you left behind. Wouldn’t you think a city teeming with evangelical organizations and churches would stand out as a model of safe, courteous driving? But Colorado Springs, often called “Saints’ Roost,” “Wheaton of the West,” or “New Jerusalem,” seems to be “City of Reckless Abandon” when drivers take to the streets.
Maybe drivers are blinded by our bright sun (we have more than 300 sunny days per year), and can’t see a STOP sign when they come to one. So many drivers roll through STOP signs here I wonder if the brake shops went out of business.
Traffic lights pose another test many drivers fail. True or false: Red means stop; green means go? The answer may be elementary, my dear Watson, but I don’t think any Watsons live in Colorado Springs.
Speed is another issue. School zones post a 20 mph speed limit, but when I do 20, some cars pass me doing at least 40 mph.
One more thing, turn signals must be expensive optional equipment in Colorado Springs? It seems very few cars here have them. Or if they do, drivers don’t want to expend the energy required to use them.
You may be thinking, All those careless drivers are non-Christians. Christians obey traffic laws. How would you like to buy a choice piece of property on a nearby landfill? Many of the violators display a fish symbol or a bumper sticker with a Christian message.
When a “Christian” driver speeds past me, I observe, “There goes another flying fish.”
Maybe your city resembles mine, but I saw more courteous driving in Chicago, where I lived before I moved to Colorado Springs in 1995.
I believe Christians should obey the law if they truly want to honor the Lord. How we drive is often a reflection of what drives us. If we are driven by anger or ego or impatience, we may roll through STOP signs, ignore traffic lights, speed down streets, and fail to use signal lights. If we are driven by love for God and others, we will drive courteously and lawfully.
You have heard the adage, “What you do speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.” If we claim to be Christians, let’s conduct ourselves appropriately on our streets and highways. No one should be able to say, “How you drive speaks so loud I can’t hear what you say.”