Church

Hope for the Church

By Ty Haguewood

I am always blown away as I think about the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. We have an abundance of hope for our lives because the God who saved us is the God of hope. We often talk about the hope that each one of us as in Jesus yet we sometimes belittle the hope that we have as the church. So let me put it this way:

The body of Christ, also known as the church, has a fullness of hope as God has lavished hope on us through the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

I want us to take a deeper look at this.

  1. Jesus is the rock and foundation of the church

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ solidified His authority and place as the Victorious King. We as believers must always first remember Jesus as Victor and Savior of our souls. The church is most hopeful and healthy when we have a right view of God and all that He has done, is doing, and will do. The moment the church loses a right view of God is the moment the church slips into a place of hopelessness.

We must remember that sin has lost it’s power, death has lost it’s sting, and Jesus reigns supreme forever. The church is founded and rooted in the God who conquered death.

We have so much to celebrate and hope in.

  1. The Holy Spirit is the power of the church

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts 1:4-8

In Acts 1, Jesus told the disciples to not leave Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. He did not let them go do anything based on their own power, instead, Jesus told them that they were going to receive a great power.

God never calls us to be the savior of humanity nor the King of Kings; God calls us to believe, follow, and be available for Him to use. We, as the church, must never attempt to do the work of God without the power of God. The church is never more crippled than when we try to do God’s work without God’s presence.

We have a power available to us unparalleled to anything else, why would we depend on ourselves if have the Holy Spirit? We must be a people totally dependent and desperate to be used by God and filled with His Spirit.

The church has hope in the reality that God is our power and He will never leave us to our own ability to do His work.

Some Closing Thoughts

I pray that we would spend less time designing programs and events and spend more time on our knees praying for God to move in our community. We have a God that conquered death yet we so often rely on ourselves. Let us be a people on our faces before God asking Him to transform our community.

The church has so much hope, let’s turn to God and trust Him. He will guide us, provide for us, protect us, empower us, and never leave us. Let’s surrender and watch Him transform this city.

 

 

What’s a Church Supposed to Do?

By Karen Polich

What is the church? Some might say it’s a building, an address, a specific denomination or a charitable organization. Those things don’t define what a church is or its purpose. The church serves a purpose that has not changed.

Guest pastor, Dr. Earl Craig, shared four “centers” of the church. (Listen to the podcast here.)

The church is a healing center. (Acts 3:1-10) The church exists to help fix problems. (James 1) Hurting and broken people find hope at this center. When trials arise, we should go back to the basics of Who God is and His promises. We should pray and cling to His Word, seeking Him. Do you have a go-to verse you focus on in times of trouble?

Trials are not meant to impair us but to improve us. Some problems are not meant to be solved. They are meant to be endured. – Dr. Earl Craig

The church is a training center. (Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-15) A call to follow God is a call to prepare. Every Christian is called. We should be prepared. A call to serve in any area is always a call to prepare. What are we doing daily to prepare?

The church is a warning center. (Matthew 25:1-46) Jesus gives us warnings about our readiness in this passage. Warning people of danger is not being negative. It is a sign you really care.

The church is a power center. (Ephesians 6:10-17) It is OUR responsibility. We must “put on” and “take”, just as this passage describes. God provides what we need, we must choose to use it. We should feel empowered and encouraged to be who God has called us to be.

What is next for you as a Christ-follower? Your answer determines the kind of Christian you are going to be.

Dr. Earl H. Craig was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, on a golf scholarship. Dr. Craig has a Master of Theology and Doctorate of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He served as Senior Pastor for over twenty years in three churches. Dr. Craig moved into stewardship ministry with RSI and became a Senior VP. This allowed him to be in over 130 churches a year for over 25 years. Dr. Craig has served on the Board of Directors for Dallas Baptist University, Mississippi College, Southwestern Seminary and Dallas Athletic Club. He and his wife Ann have been married for 48 years. They have a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Remembering Dad

By LuAnn Edwards

“I will never go to church with you again,” said Dad. “Those people are crazy!” He meant it too.

My soon-to-be husband sang in a Southern Gospel quartet and the group was singing at a church near our home one Saturday evening. My mom and I thought this would be a good opportunity to invite Dad to church with us. Surely he would want to hear Ken sing. He loved music and with all of us working hard to persuade him, he caved and agreed to go with us.

Dad enjoyed the singing, but the rest of the service was a little too much for him. An older gentleman got up to preach a little and held up a newborn baby with one hand as he walked back and forth at the front of the church. I think Dad thought the preacher might drop the baby.

Even though Dad said he wouldn’t go again, the following morning he was dressed and ready to go to church with Mom and me. Mom and I had accepted the Lord into our hearts the previous year and had been praying for Dad. Even though he thought the people at the other church were crazy and didn’t want to ever go to church again, the Lord had other plans.

Once Dad accepted the Lord and started attending church, he didn’t stop. In fact, when he retired from his regular job, the church became the place where he spent his days volunteering, doing everything he could do to serve the Lord. He served as the church’s clerk and in other capacities for many years, and he took to heart Psalm 100:2 “Worship the Lord with gladness…”

My earliest memory of him was sitting in his lap as a young child combing his hair. As I grew older, I remember him dancing and singing around the house and acting very silly at times. I’m sure I didn’t think he was all that funny as a teenager, but as an adult, I loved his enthusiasm for life.

Dad modeled how a man should treat his wife. He loved Mom and honored her daily. He teased her a lot, but she played along. He was open with his affection and took care of her throughout her life.

Dad loved to tell stories about being in the Army and about the people he had worked with over the years. His eyes would twinkle, and his smile would brighten my day as he laughed at things he had shared with us many times before.

In his sixties he took part in a video skit with his church’s music department. Dad was not a great singer, but he liked to have fun. The skit ended with four men singing a song called “Moving on up to Glory.” The song was beautiful! However, they weren’t really singing; it was a recording of the Cathedral Quartet. Dad and the other men were just lip syncing but it appeared that these four tone-deaf men had become an overnight success. It was this song that was playing in the background when Dad took his final breath. He moved on up to Glory to dance and praise the Lord as I held his hand and rubbed his hair five years ago. I miss you Daddy!

Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp” (Psalm 149:3).

Church or No Church – His Plan; His People

By Gerry Wakeland

Church DNA – Part 2

Does the church still have value? Or is the church a farce? These are questions that are regularly asked by millennials, individuals that were born between the mid 1980’s and the year 2000. Continuing in his current sermon series, Church or No Church, Pastor Michael M. Cook addresses these questions using 1 Peter 2:9 -10 as his scriptural reference.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV

Last week we examined what it looks like to be a chosen people, called by God to serve God.  This week Pastor Cook focuses on the concepts of what it means to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation.

Justin Bieber is a self-proclaimed follower of Jesus Christ. When asked about his personal relationship with the Lord, he was quoted as saying, “A lot of people who are religious get lost in their religion. They go to church just to go to church. I am not trying to disrespect them, but for me, I focus more on praying and talking to Him (God). I do not have to go church.”

Pastor Cook responded to Bieber’s statement by saying that he (Bieber) is missing the New Testament church connection found from engaging in a local church. “He has no community, no discipleship, and no accountability.” Bieber is a prime example of millennials who ask, “Why do we need to be a part of the church?” To answer that question Pastor Cook takes us back to the beginning.

In Genesis 1:1 we read that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Verse 2 uses this phrase, “and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” In verse 26, we read, “Let us make mankind in our image…” These three scriptures introduce the reader to the concept of the Trinity, three personalities, distinct yet separate.

Genesis 2:18 introduces the idea of community, saying “It is not good for man to be alone.” God has a purpose. We were created with a need for fellowship with one another and with Christ. This community is called church. As Pastor Cook put it, “We are made to be with one another, in harmony, unity and fellowship.”

Called to be a Royal Priesthood

As a church we are out of a priesthood that is

  • everlasting
  • born out of adoption, every Christian is adopted
  • brought out of mediation, the act of intercessory prayer

Called to be a Holy Nation

The word holy means set apart. The church is distinctively separate and different. At least it should be.

That takes us back to the millennial generation. These young men and women tell us the number one reason for vacating the church is that the church is judgmental and hypocritical. It’s possible that to them the church looks no different than the world. Or maybe this just gives them an excuse to avoid being part of a community that will provide sound teaching and hold them accountable. Sadly, this holds true for more than just the millennial generation.

Yes, our churches are imperfect and flawed. We are all sinners. Perhaps that is why Christ wants us in the church.

At the church’s lowest point in history, when He cleared the temple of money changers and corrupt priests (see Matthew 21:12), Jesus still loved the church. Jesus has always loved the church. This is not about a religion. It is about a love relationship with Jesus Christ and one another.

So where are you? Are you ready to accept the call to be a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation? Are you ready for an amazing relationship with the Lord and his church?

“I believe that God will take broken, sinful people and do something amazing.” Michael M. Cook

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook here.

Church or No Church – His Plan His People

By Karen Polich

Church DNA Part 1

Millennials say they have abandoned the church because church members are judgmental. Church is unfriendly and unwelcoming and they don’t connect with people in the church.

Too often as individuals we look for a church based on what it can do for us when we should be selecting a church because of the impact we can make. We are called to be the Light, serving others. We have not been called to be served.

God has chosen us and issued a call on our lives. We have been called to magnify His name. This is our purpose. God also called the church. It is His, not ours.

As a church, this is what should be seen by anyone entering the doors. Within the teachings, worship and people in the church, Christ should be visible. Pastor Michael Cook shared the biblical importance of the church and how the church should transmit the majesty of Christ. (1 Peter 2:1-10, Acts 2:37-40)

Recent church history shows that we are not taking seriously the call of Christ to BE the church. Some are frustrated with the church; they are also frustrated with many components of their lives. Often we work to shape the church into our image instead of God’s image. We “play” with things that should be taken seriously, like sin.

Pastor Cook reminded us of the importance God placed on the church. He chose us to stave off the degeneration of the world. Are we displaying His majesty?

Listen to Pastor Cook here.