Are We Living in the End Times?
Good Afternoon Dear Church,
I hope and pray you have had a good start to the week! Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will be starting a new series in our Bible Study entitled "Are We Living in the End Times?". It is a question I get a lot as a pastor. Many want to know how much longer do we have to wait until Christ returns? Should I bother paying my taxes if I think that Jesus will come back tomorrow? (yes, you should) With all the earthquakes and wars, don't we think Jesus is going to return soon? And what will it be like when Jesus returns anyways? It is a question we're going to explore over the next 5 or 6 weeks, and I would love to have you join us! Indeed, this is why I am sending out my midweek email a day early, in order to remind you that we are starting this new study tomorrow in case you would like to join us.
But, in all of this, I don't want us to lose sight of the hope of Christians, the return of Christ. I believe that Paul says it so beautifully in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." The good news of the Christian belief is that we get to be with Jesus - forever. After all the trials and tribulations, the joys and the pains of this life, we will be with him as his people and he will be our God. He will wipe every tear from our eyes and pain will be no more.
Do you want to learn more about this? Please join us tomorrow at 6 PM!
Good Afternoon Church Family!
I hope and pray that you are having a wonderful week! Today, as I was preparing for our Wed Night Bible Study (at 6 PM!!), I was thinking about the Church. Now, this might be a little strange, because we are studying Proverbs 31 tonight. Now, Proverbs 31 is a relatively well known ode to Godly women (thank God for them!). Listen to a couple of things that Godly women ought to be praised for:
1) "She is far more precious than jewels" (31:10)
2) "She opens her mouth with wisdom" (31:26)
3) "She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy" (31:20)
4) "She does him (her husband) good, and not harm, all the days of her life" (31:12)
5) "Strength and dignity are her clothing" (31:25)
But most importantly, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." (31:30)
I am thankful that in our church and in my life there are many Godly women like that! (I am married to one of them)
Now, all this made me think of the Church. That may seem odd. After all, the Church has many faults. Lots of imperfect people are there. Lots of nobodies. People get into arguments about insignificant things. People are sometimes cruel and mean. People don't always keep their word. Sometimes the pastor preaches too long, sometimes too short. He almost always says a joke that nobody understands. The Church is far from the woman of Proverbs 31. Or is she?
Actually, here is how Paul speaks of the Church, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of the water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." (Eph 5:25-27)
Not dirty, but cleansed. Not profane, but holy. Not worthless, but having "splendor." Not foolish, but wise. How does this happen? Through the gospel and through the Word. Through the gospel the Church is positionally pure. And through the Word, she is progressively pure. It is through the preaching of the gospel from the Word that Christ purifies his bride to make her as she already is in Him. Some people say they can be Christian without Church. I'm not sure how that makes any sense. Instead, we ought to love the Church and give ourselves up for her just like Jesus did. Contrary to all expectations, the Church is the ultimate "Proverbs 31" Woman.
So Christians, let us love the Church. She is, and one day will be, the embodiment of wisdom, the fulfillment of Proverbs 31. After all, she is the bride of Christ. And if we love Christ, we better love his bride.
Why Men's Ministry?
Good Afternoon Church,
As many of you know, this Saturday (September 11) is our first Men's Muster at SHCC at 8 AM!
Since we've announced it, I've gotten quite a few questions about this. I think underneath is mostly a more nagging question, which is "Why?". Why bother with a men's ministry?
Why should a Church have a men's ministry? Men are not the only people in the church. In fact, they are the minority. In my experience, men are less vocal about their opinions in church than women. Men don't like to sing as much. Men typically don't like sermons as much as women. Men are usually working, so getting them involved at church is harder. Typically women's ministry and children's ministry are better attended. Why bother?
Here are a few reasons:
- Approximately 61% of churchgoers are female (compared with 39% male)
- Men are much less likely to be religiously active than women, only 1% are involved in a significant way beyond Sunday service.
- In families where the fathers do not go to the church, only 2% of the children end up attending church. When the father does attend church, approx 77% of children are more likely to be involved in church at some level.
- 70% of young men abandon the church in their teenage years (especially without older male role models).
Quite simply, it is long-term suicide for a church to ignore these problems.
Add on to this the fact that many of the chronic complexities of our community (drug use, alcoholism, unemployment, homelessness, violence, fatherlessness, etc.) are mostly caused by men. Quite simply, we are living in a culture where men are left to their own devices, infantilized, and allowed to remain perpetually adolescent. They are not called to something greater, higher, and better. They are not men, but, as one pastor says, "boys who can shave." And, worst of all, women and children pay the price. If we are going to be a church that is not simply reactive to the problems of our community, but proactive, we need to buck these cultural trends. The reality is we need to challenge, disciple, and commission men because we care about the women and children. It is not too much to say that a church that does not prioritize discipling men is a church that does not care about women and children.
But most importantly, we need to disciple men because God cares about men. "Male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). "Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely." (Prov 28:5) "Act like men, be strong." (1 Corinthians 16:25) God is not revolted by manhood. He loves it. He created it. Just like he did with womanhood. It is good and glorious and part of his precious design. Broken, yes. But also restored through the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, do you care about this church? Do you care about this community? Do you care about the spiritual well-being of your family?
Inch by Inch
Good Afternoon Dear Church,
I hope and pray that you all are doing wonderfully! This week I've been thinking a lot about how Spiritual Growth works. It can be confusing sometimes. There are a lot of words Christians use to talk about Spiritual Growth (sanctification, discipleship, holiness, the Christian walk, "etc."), but when it all comes down to it, it is all a matter of following after Jesus. It is a matter of having an intense, intimate, personal knowledge of him. The more we know of him, the more we are overwhelmed with his goodness and his holiness. The more we are overwhelmed with him, the more we love him, desire him, and savor him. And the more that we desire him and savor him, the more that we start to live "like him." Jesus is an acquired taste. A good example is my "obsession" with coffee. The more I know about coffee, the more I like coffee. And the more I like coffee, the more I start making it part of my daily life. It is similar with Jesus. The more we know about him, the more we want him. The more we desire Jesus, the more we start to live like him.
But here is the clincher, this does not happen overnight. It is a gradual renewal, a gradual transformation (Rom 12:1-2). It only happens inch by inch.
We are instantaneous people: we want internet NOW, we want pizza NOW, we want to grow up NOW. But those things don't happen right away. Instant works well with neither coffee nor Christlikeness. They take a long time. A lot of prayer, a lot of obedience, and a lot of pondering Jesus.
Which means, that the chances that I have to ponder Jesus today make me look like Jesus tomorrow.
How well I know and look like Christ today is a cumulative result of how much I have considered him in my life up until now. All the thousands of sermons I have heard, the groggy mornings in God's Word, the times praying on the way to work, the "I don't know, what do you think this passage means?" questions over lunch, or coffee, or at Bible Study have all added up until now. How much I look like Jesus today is simply the cumulation of how much I have thought about him, prayed in his name, and savored him yesterday.
It also means that when I miss those things, when I sleep in instead of go to church, when I forget to read my Bible, when I allow myself to be too overwhelmed to pray or go to Bible Study, I am robbing myself of holiness tomorrow. How much I ignore Jesus today will accumulate in looking less like him tomorrow. It also means that I am robbing myself of joy, true, soul satisfying, thirst quenching joy when I ignore Christ. Just as a farmer's planting, a broker's investing, or an athlete's training, if I do not put in the hard work today, I will regret it tomorrow. But if I work hard today, I will rejoice tomorrow.
Looking like Christ takes a steady, day in day out, disciplined lifestyle of knowing, understanding, and desiring him. We gain the glory of eternity through inches, feet, and miles as we run the race that is set out for us, competing for the crown (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Southern Heights Christian Church
Come here for thoughts on how to follow Jesus in our every day life!
5401 Madison Ave
Anderson, IN 46013
Sunday School :: 9 AM
Sunday Service :: 10:30 AM