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.

Some of My Least Favorite Verses

By LuAnn Edwards

By nature, I am a pessimist. It is something I am very good at; I don’t even have to try. To me, the glass is always half empty. For a pessimist like me, there are some verses in the Bible that are hard to accept. When we do accept them, however, they bring hope and grow our faith.

In the midst of a pity-party and feeling as though nothing is going right in my messy life, I read Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Really? What about that job that went sour?

James 1:2 states, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Joy? When I could barely go into work each day?

When I want to bring up past hurts and dwell in them, I find, “…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). But I have to attend this function and she will be there! She deeply hurt me! I cannot forget that!

As a pessimist, these verses were not very helpful. That is, not until I accepted them as truth. By faith in Christ and His Word, I have learned to acknowledge, “…all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27). These verses have become a source of strength and power in my life.

When my faith overpowers my pessimism, I can focus on Christ and His power in me working all things together for my good.

I know I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). I can find joy in my trials knowing God is in control and nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17). By faith I can press on and let go of my past hurts because I know that if God is for me, who can be against me (Romans 8:31).

I have also learned that when pessimism tries to creep back into my mind, I can pray and gain strength and victory over its lies. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). I have confidence in prayer to come boldly before the Lord to ask Him for what I have need of and to believe that He hears me and will answer.

If you, too, are a pessimist by nature, accept His Word as truth. Read His promises over and over to yourself; then read them out loud for His Words are powerful and worth hearing. Fill your mind with these promises and meditate upon them daily until they abide in your heart. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in a whole new way so you can acknowledge that “all things are possible with Him.”

The Power of Paul’s Prayers

By Kristin Overman

A few years ago I was doing a study on Colossians and came across this prayer that Paul prayed for the believers,

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:9-12

Paul’s prayer was so powerful. It really seemed like he was fighting a battle with his prayer. Suddenly I felt that my prayers were missing that power. So many times I prayed for wisdom, health, safety, money, etc. My prayers were more about earthly needs than the needs for spiritual battle.

Don’t misunderstand me; I know God cares for our every need no matter how small. We pray for lost toys, for kids to sleep and use the potty in our house. I know God truly cares about those things. He wants us to rely on Him for our earthly needs but also for our spiritual battles. Many times I forget that we are in a constant spiritual battle.

I decided to look not only at Colossians but all of Paul’s letters and see what he prayed for. In doing so, I noticed three things in Paul’s prayers. He prayed for the believer’s walk, for their witness, and for God’s work in them. He did not pray that they would change. Here are just a few of the things I found.

Paul prayed that they would…

Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
Please Him in all respects
Bear fruit in every good work
Increase in the knowledge of God
Attain all steadfastness and patience
Joyously give thanks to the Father for their inheritance
Speak forth the mystery of Christ

He prayed that God would…

Make it clear how they ought to speak
Give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him
Count them worthy of their calling
Fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power in order that the name of Jesus may be glorified in them and them in Him

I also noticed how he prayed. He used words like always, constantly, devoted, not ceasing, keeping alert, thankful and joyful. In other words, prayer should be a consistent discipline, done with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.

I pray you can use this list of prayers for yourself, your children and other believers, etc. Fighting our spiritual battle could be so much more effective if we prayed like this for one another.