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A church that immediately and gladly accepts new members without requiring a statement from them regarding their repentance from sin, faith in Christ Jesus alone for salvation, and commitment to live for Him is not much of a church but is more of a country club with a religious veneer. Many modern-day churches take people into membership regardless thinking that it is accepting and loving, when it is actually acting contrary to how the church of Jesus is formed. The church that names the name of Christ is comprised of professed believers who are committed followers of Christ. It will be sad to one day discover that many people were on the church rolls but not on Christ's roll.
How grateful I am for what the Lord does in our lives and in our church. I praise the Lord that He has added sixteen people to the membership of our church over the past fifteen months, not even counting their children who are not yet official members or the several other individuals and families who are coming faithfully but haven’t “joined” yet. Praise God! He is at work in our church, and it’s encouraging and exciting to behold.
As I analyze the church in America, unfortunately, sometimes they have friction, divisions, selfish motives, and personal preferences that are not spiritually healthy, and other factors which are detrimental to the life of the church – and by “life” I mean its spiritual life. This was also true in the Apostle Paul’s day in the first century. He wrote to the church at Corinth, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.” (1 Corinthians 1:10-11)
Sometimes churches operate like a country club or interest group. The church is neither. The church is the body of followers of Jesus Christ, who have been purchased by His blood. Since He has purchased the church, it belongs to Him. It does not belong to anyone or any group within the church. In our day, there are some who value numerical and financial growth more than spiritual growth. However, a church can grow in numbers and yet not grow in its spiritual life, depending on its focus.
The Spirit of God working through the Word of God is what brings about spiritual growth. Yet, many churches have downsized their approach to the Word of God. Many folks are not willing to attend a Bible study or listen to teaching or preaching that is not to their preferred topic or length. Our nation, and the world, is plagued with churches who only want to hear what seems interesting to them. Often they term it “relevant”–as if the Bible is not relevant. When the Word of God is minimized, a church abandons being theocentric (God centered) and moves to being egocentric (man, or self, centered). This is not honoring to our Lord and it does not produce spiritual growth no matter how many activities are offered.
We must bless our new church members with the Word of God in everything we do – in our Worship Services, our practices, our policy decisions, and in our entire church life. Too many church attenders and members in our land hold and voice opinions by saying things like, “Well, I don’t agree with that because . . .” but then don’t give Scripture to support their view or opinion. We need God to guide us, and His Word (the Bible) is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 119:105)
We should never allow those who have little to no interest in spiritual matters to make decisions which affect the spiritual life of the church. Polls, surveys, statistics, and such are poor directives for spiritual vitality in a church owned by the Lord Jesus Christ. The first course of action is prayer, including personal and corporate prayer; it is difficult to have people attend such meetings, which is indicative of spiritual anemia.
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) wrote, “It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him.” It is a sad situation when healthy and able church members do not faithfully attend Bible study and Worship Services. It seems that they are seeking something in the church more than God, His Word, and His will.
Sometimes people don’t take criticism well because they would rather stay in their comfort zone instead of stretching and growing spiritually. The main areas are their neglected prayer life and their unwillingness to take in biblical and thorough teaching and preaching and thus they remain spiritual babies, clinging to their own expectations, traditions, and preferences.
The principles of God’s Word must be brought to light by accurate teaching. A faithful spiritual leader of a church must guide a church so that the church grows spiritually. A hungry Christian will prayerfully read the Scripture that is to be taught or preached even before the time of the teaching/preaching, so that God will give him or her more understanding of the meaning of that particular Scripture and then meditate on it in the days after the teaching.
May God continue to bring us more people to join our church. May others come to trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the payment of their sin and gift of eternal life. May our baptismal waters be continually swirling with the testimony of spiritual life. May we avidly hunger for God’s Word, God’s will, and God’s Spirit with us. We are His.
Let’s exalt the Lord in all we do in our church and pray that we all become captivated by Him. Let’s be careful not to be conformed to the image of those who do not have a deep desire for knowing God, loving God and people, and obeying God. Christians are to be light in this world and the church is to be a lighthouse. The light is provided by the Holy Spirit of God. May our church be seen as the light of God shining forth in a dark world. May all we do be molded by the Word and will of God, for His glory.
We must be in prayer constantly, and always willing, ready, and eager to take in God’s Word regardless of likeability or length. We must love it and have it, for it causes us to grow spiritually. If a pastor faithfully and accurately teaches and preaches the Bible, then it is imperative that the people hear it. They need to understand that when they do hear it, they are hearing Christ, the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
When people in any given church do not follow the healthy spiritual leadership of their pastor, but rather seek to fashion him within their mold, the church suffers spiritually. When people in the church do not heed the sound spiritual guidance and wisdom of their pastor, but instead label him as one who isn’t a team player or one who doesn’t receive correction, it may actually mean that they refuse to listen to that spiritual leader of the church. This is one way in which churches in our day become more of a country club rather than a spiritually growing body seeking the glory of God, striving to understand and obey the Word of God, and growing in spiritual vitality in Him. So, my analysis of the modern church in America leads me to its greatest need – that of the church growing spiritually in Christ for His glory. May He help us.
On another “note” – My live radio show Monday-Friday called “Morning Praise” is for you, too. It is an opportunity for me to minister the Word of God and His glory more than only an hour or so on Sunday morning. I know many are working from 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., but many others can listen. It can be heard on regular radio on WJYK- 99.3 FM or 980 AM, or over the Internet at wjykradio.com, and taterpatchradio.com. WJYK stands for Worship Jesus Your King. The show features music that glorifies God (through several genres including contemporary Christian, gospel, hymns, praise and worship choruses, and southern gospel music, etc.), Scripture readings, short program features (1 – 2 minutes) from people like Joni Eareckson Tada, Beth Moore, David Jeremiah, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and more. You are invited to join us to worship and praise our Lord and grow in His grace!
You can still visit me in my ____ Pastor’s office during the show. I might even put you on the air!
Let’s be the church that our Father in heaven wills us to be. I love our church and am very grateful for what He is doing in and through us. Soli Deo Gloria.
Grace and peace to you,
An official cancer patient
God is good.
So, I am officially a cancer patient.
God is still good.
The following was correspondence from Janis to friends and family members yesterday (Friday): “The surgeon just came out. It took much longer than expected because he had to do a lot of digging around in the tongue to find a positive sample, but it definitely is cancer. He seemed to think stage 1 but will have to have further testing to know for sure. Theoretically survivable with radiation and chemo. Another hour in first recovery room, then I should get to see him in the second recovery room, then we’ll come home. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.”
Our prayer requests continue to include the physical body, but also for us to rejoice in the Lord and give Him thanks in all circumstances. My body belongs to Him. God reigns and Jesus is Lord. He is faithful and He is worthy of my all.
Thank you, again, for your care, prayer, and outpouring of love to us. It helps us. I consider it to be one of the means of God’s grace to us.
I now join many others in the category of cancer patients, including many friends. I will be scheduled for a PET/CT scan and consultations with radiologist and hematologist soon.
Though this personal health event has been surreal and troubling, the Lord is drawing me closer to Him during these circumstances, and I trust Him for whatever occurs in the future. I trust not in any particular outcome (though, of course, we pray for physical, mental, and emotional strength and healing). I trust God – in His will and in His wisdom. No one loves me like He does. May He be magnified. (1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 1:20)
God is good. He is good all the time, regardless of circumstance. Therefore, by His grace (and I emphasize our need for His grace), we will rejoice in Him, continue to pray to Him, and be thankful to Him.
#cancer #cancerawareness #cancerwarrior
He is risen indeed!
Sunday, Day 8 of 8:
Steve Battaglia: pastor, broadcaster