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8-3-20 – Pastor Gene

Have you noticed that mocking Jesus has become a popular pastime in America? Not that it is new, Hollywood has used Jesus as an easy punchline, from cartoons to sitcoms, for years. Politicians mock Christian prayers, alleging that doing so is comparable to “doing nothing” after a tragedy. Likewise, the print media has no reservations about portraying Jesus anywhere from a bumbling fool to a closeted homosexual. It’s popular and it’s cool to not only mock Jesus but those who blindly follow Him as well.

Brian Buescher, an attorney nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, was subjected to additional scrutiny above and beyond the norm attributable to his Christian faith. This scrutiny was utilized to cast doubt on his ability to fulfill the office fairly and honorably. Amy Coney Barrett was another justice to recently face such discrimination.

At our universities throughout the nation, Christians who dare to be heard are regularly shamed, attacked, and minimized. Academic faculty and on-campus college associations deride Christians labeling them as hateful bigots in need of silencing or even removal.

In his book “Compromising Scholarship,” George Yancey found that more than half of those surveyed in academics acknowledged they would be less willing to hire someone perceived as a fundamentalist or an evangelical. The survey further revealed they would discriminate against a job candidate who is a conservative protestant. Beyond academia, technology and media are other areas of the culture where discrimination against Christians takes place.

Sounds crazy right? Christians are not carrying out Jihad. Christians typically are not murdering unbelievers or blowing up buildings. So, why the animosity towards Christianity?

“They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me” – John 15:21”

Again, why?

“But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”  – John 15:25

Jesus is a threat to the status quo. If you look and act like Jesus, then you too are a threat to the status quo. Remember the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.

“…Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”  – John 3:19-21

Rarely does one attack what is not a threat. The world does not see false religions as a threat to their status quo. Nevertheless, Satan understands where the threat lies, and he attacks accordingly.

Agree with Jesus when he says: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad…” – Matthew 5:11-12

8-2-20 – Pastor Charles

“How are you?” is a question that is being asked a lot during this time. It is a good question, and we should be asking it many times to many people. We should also be asking ourselves this question and really be honest with ourselves! We should examine ourselves to see how we really are doing, but no one knows us like the Father. The LORD knows all things, and that means He knows us very well! So, we must let Him examine us, and we must say like David in this psalm, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties, and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This is my prayer for myself and my family and this is my prayer for you.

Look to Jesus today, and let Him examine you like only He can. Meditate upon His Word, and let “the sword of the spirit” do surgery on your heart! Remember, God knows you and me perfectly and completely and loves us anyway! So, trust Him to really examine deep in your heart today, and obey His orders.

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Read Psalm 139. Then, pray it back to the Father, and trust and obey Him.

8-1-20 – Dylan Anderson

The fall semester is about to begin for college students all around the United States. This semester is going to be different than any semester that any of them have encountered so far. I was checking in with one of our local international students the other day, and I made a comment about this semester being different. I was amazed by the student’s response. He said, “Yes, but they have never been the same either. Change is all about life.” Wow! What a perspective. This student is right, life is constantly changing around us, and it always has been.

Many of us do not like change. However, it is an inevitable part of life. This morning, I want to remind you of two truths from the Word of God regarding change.

Truth #1: While everything else around us changes, we serve, believe in, and trust in a God that never changes! In Hebrews chapter 13, the author is finishing his letter to a group of Christ-followers who had been dealing with extreme changes. This group of Christ-followers was facing extreme persecution, some to the point of death! They were also facing false doctrines being thrown in their face and masqueraded as truth. He encourages them with this truth in verse 8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Friend, I want to also encourage you with that truth this morning. When it seems like nothing is the same and everything around you is constantly changing, rest in the one thing that never changes.

Truth #2: Change is the will of God. While many of us do not like change, we all need it. Those of us who are Christ-followers, while our sins have been forgiven, our sinful flesh is still a part of us, and we live in a sinful world. Many people want to know what God’s will is for their life. Well, Paul tells the church as Thessalonica that change is the will of God for their lives! “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thes. 4:3) What is sanctification? I’m so glad you asked! Sanctification is the process by which we become holy. The sins of a Christ-follower are forgiven in the sight of God, but while we are still here on earth, we are far from holy! So, if holiness is God’s will for our lives, then change is necessary. It is so easy for us to give into our flesh and fall into sinful actions, attitudes, and attractions, but we must constantly be seeking to grow in holiness.

As you enter into a time of prayer to lift up the prayer points below, reflect on the two truths above, and respond to the Lord based on those truths about change.

7-31-20 – Pastor Michael

If you are going to memorize another Psalm, (assuming you have already memorized Psalm 23), then I suggest memorizing Psalm 117.
It is a messianic psalm, quoted by Paul, in connection with the gospel. It includes an invitation from the Jews for Gentiles to join them in the Passover.
It is also a millennial psalm looking forward to the time when people from every nation, language, and tribe will come and worship the LORD, Jesus.
It is a missionary psalm, which Paul appeals to in Romans 15, to proclaim God’s love for all peoples, Jew and Gentile. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Not just the world of the elect, or the world of the Jew, but the world of all people groups.
I hope you realize why we have a video at each worship opportunity pointing to global missions. It is because God’s heart is for all nations, all peoples, all of the 16,000+ people groups on earth to praise and glorify Him! That word laud literally means sing aloud. We should never be passive or shy when it comes to praising the Lord, but we should proclaim our voices loud!
While the first verse gives us the command to praise, the second verse gives us the cause – because of His lovingkindness toward us is GREAT. Our salvation does not rest on feelings, it rests on truth; and the truth of the LORD is everlasting. It is mercy and truth. One who has personally experienced those from the Lord has no problem with singing loud praise to Him.
As we will see this Sunday, the world began this way; the rocks, rivers, planets and stars were created for this; and all eternity will involve one primary activity: Praise the LORD!!


7-30-20 – Pastor Chris

The truths of Psalm 24, even the excerpted verses mentioned here, are overwhelming. This familiar psalm is the subject and substance of modern worship songs. Notice just a few things with me:

  • All things belong to God. There is nothing that is that is not already His. That includes all material things but also speaks of every person. The fullness of the earth belongs to Him.
  • Relationship with God comes at a price. Not everyone can come into the presence of God. There is a price to be paid, which is the penalty for sin. This price was paid in full for every believer by Jesus Himself. He stood in our place and absorbed the wrath of God, becoming the sacrifice for our sin.
  • Access to God requires repentance. I know people who would say that all you have to do to be “saved” is to believe in Jesus. I don’t disagree with this as the Bible defines the terms. After all, it is Scripture (Jn 3:16). Yet, Peter said at Pentecost when the crowd was convicted in their hearts by the message of Jesus and asked Peter what they must do to be saved: “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 2:37-42). Stated a bit differently, believing in Jesus is more that intellectual acceptance of facts about His person. Believing in Jesus is forsaking our rebellious ways (repentance) and acknowledging Jesus as our Lord (baptism).
  • God blesses those who believe in Jesus. Again, God provides for and applies righteousness to a person who believes (biblically) in Jesus. That is, those who follow Christ will experience the blessings of God because it is a blessing to walk in fellowship/relationship with the Lord.

If we sense that the “blessing” is missing in our lives, could the issue be that we “believe” (intellectual ascent) but are not believing (repentance)? Remember that repentance is not a one-time transaction but involves a lifetime of confessing sin and choosing to follow. Those with clean hands and a pure heart may ascend into God’s presence, and they experience blessing and right standing with the Lord.


7-29-20 – Pastor Jordan

I have heard life compared to walking down a path with a curtain just ahead that is not lifted until it’s right in front of you. After that curtain is lifted, there is another curtain just up ahead. We don’t know what is behind the next curtain. We don’t know what will happen 2 minutes, 2 days, 2 weeks, or 2 years from now. For most people, this is a source of great anxiety. But, God doesn’t intend for us to be anxious. Instead, He wants us to learn to trust Him with what’s behind the next curtain. But, why should we trust God?

  1. He knows what’s behind the next curtain and all of the other ones after that. God is omniscient. He knows everything…past, present, and future. You can put aside anxiety about your future because you can trust that God is all-knowing. 
  2. He is in charge of what’s behind the next curtain. God is sovereign. He is in control of your life and what is unknown to you. God has a divine purpose for the events that lie ahead in your life. He wants you to know Him more, worship Him more authentically, tell of His glory more boldly, and to trust Him in all things.
  3. His grace is sufficient for your salvation and for what is behind the next curtain. God is faithful. He will provide the grace you need for the next thing in your life. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul makes the statement, “the grace of God…is with me.” As you live your life out for Him, He provides every ounce of grace that you need for each moment. By His grace we are saved, and by His grace He sustains us day by day. It is the power of God that we walk in, not our own power.


You have trusted in Christ for your eternal salvation by grace through faith, you can also trust that His grace is sufficient for whatever is behind the next curtain. What a joyous truth that can sustain us through the most wonderful and the most difficult times. Praise the Lord! He is good!


7-28-20 – Pastor Gene

Carole came back from the store one afternoon with my 3-year-old daughter, Hannah, in tow and uttered that familiar refrain that every father has heard since God created mankind,

“So, let me tell you what your daughter did today”.

Eve said it to Adam, Sara said it to Abraham, and I think it might be a rite of passage for every young man entering into fatherhood. I settled in, knowing this would not go well for me, and waited with great expectation to hear what MY daughter had done. To cut to the chase, Carole began to recount the story moment by moment leading up to the big crescendo. In a local craft store, Hannah continuously begged for a balloon that she had her heart set on having for the ride home. After mom had given her “no” for the third or tenth time, Hannah let it be known, in front of everyone, that “I’ll just ask Daddy. He gives me whatever I want.”

I was taken aback by this misunderstanding, or possibly even this obvious slander, perpetrated by my little girl. What’s more, I was positive that I was not the soft touch she regarded me to be. I even had proof! Just a few days earlier, a friend and I had been discussing parenting, and we even assured ourselves that we would not let our daughters get away with more transgressions than our sons, just because they were our little girls. I had this down. This couldn’t be happening.

As much as I tried to convince myself that this 3-year-old, pocket-sized terrorist was mistaken, my daughter could easily see the truth, and she played me like a Stratovarius. We have an uncanny ability to look directly at our facades and convince ourselves they are reality. Children have an uncanny knack for seeing past our phony facades and seeing what is authentic.

The scriptures warn us:

“Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God but encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception”

– Hebrews 3:12-13

Our hearts are deceitful beyond what we can imagine. Satan walks about like a “roaring lion” seeking to destroy you and your family. False prophets are in the world, seeking to lure you into a false Gospel and in turn, divide the Bride of Christ. Satan loves division. He is at home in chaos. He thrives in the midst of broken families and broken churches. Don’t ever think you are above being deceived. Don’t think you are ever above moral failure. When you reach that point, you have been set up for a great fall.

We can convince ourselves “that relationship in the office is harmless flirtation” or “my drug use is only recreational,” but in the end, even a 3-year-old can see through it. Satan is a liar, and he is much more proficient at it than you. Satan has a vested interest in your destruction. He wants to thrive in the brokenness of your life he hopes to bring about. I plead with you not to give Satan any foothold in your life today. Stay close to Christ. Stay clean with Christ. Our Lord will warn you what is on your blindside.

Learn from the king himself, David. Learn from the brash and confident Peter, but above all, heed the words in our passage from the writer of Hebrews.

A quick confession. I never did quit being the “soft-touch” my daughter discovered at 3-years-old, but I did become more aware.


7-27-20 – Pastor Charles

We often talk about prayer, but do we pray? We often say how important prayer is to the believer, but do we pray? We often declare that the local church must be a praying church, but do we pray?

Psalm 17 is a prayer of David.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd said about this Psalm:

When we pray, we are depending on the Lord. When we do not pray, we are depending on ourselves.”

In Psalm 16, David declared that his trust was in God alone. In Psalm 17, David was facing tests and trials, and so, he employed his trust in God and called upon the Lord continually. David wanted God to guard him and protect him from the assaults of life.

Choose to pray today. Choose to pray this week. Choose to pray every day. When you pray, and perhaps don’t know what to say, pray God’s Word. Pray Psalm 17.

This is a good reminder for all of us!

My prayer for us today is, Father, teach us to pray!

Pray Psalm 17 to the Lord today. Go back and look at the prayer points from the E-Connects over the past few days, and pray for them again.


7-26-20 – Dylan Anderson

I wrote to all of you last week about family. Today, this Sunday, the concept of home is on my heart. Home is a difficult concept for us to define or grasp. Holly and I have lived in North Carolina for almost two years now. However, every time we visit my family in Arkansas, many people ask me, “How was your visit home?” Or, “Are you thinking about moving back home?” Every time I am asked that question, I am forced to wrestle with the concept of home. Is home the place where we grew up? Is it where our family lives? Is it where we live?

I have often spoken to international missionaries about the tension surrounding this concept. Many of you know some of our Englewood missionaries personally. Many of them have been in a distant country for a long time. When these missionaries have to come stateside, they are often flooded with, “Aren’t you glad to be home?” “We are glad to have you home.” “Have you missed being at home?” Now, the individuals asking these questions are all well-meaning, but what do we mean by home? These missionaries are faced with this every time they hear a statement or question like that. They moved their families to a place that is foreign, unfamiliar, and not at all like where they grew up. Is that place home? Is where they grew up home?

Paul, in his letter to the Philippian church, deals with this concept of home and how a Christian should think about it.

The moment we came to faith in Jesus, our citizenship from this world was revoked, and we became citizens of heaven. This means, for the believer, our true home is in no place on this world but in eternity with the triune God. Let’s look at a few implications of this truth for our lives.

We are aliens in this world. This world is not our home, our citizenship is elsewhere. However, this is where we find ourselves for a season. We must live purposefully and intentionally here, but we must be careful to not fool ourselves that we are citizens of this world. Our citizenship is eternal, and we must invest in eternal matters, not temporal.

We are citizens of heaven. Citizenship comes with a lot of perks but also a lot of responsibilities. We have submitted ourselves to the King of Heaven and must heed His rule. We must strive to be good ambassadors of the King while in this foreign land.

Our King promises His return. While we are away from our eternal home now, that will not always be the case. For all of us that believe in Jesus and thereby have citizenship in heaven, our King has promised to deliver us from this foreign land where we are doing battle on His behalf. Not only is He coming to get us, but He has promised to make us like Himself.

This is not even the tip of the iceberg of all of the glorious implications of our heavenly citizenship, but I pray that next time you are faced to wrestle with the concept of home, you never forget where your true home and true citizenship lies as a follower of Jesus.

7-25-20 – Pastor Chris

As a kid, I enjoyed professional wrestling. The Rock and Roll Express, The Four Horsemen, Macho Man, The Nature Boy. I know, I know…I am demonstrating my culture and refinement. You’re welcome.

A staple in wrestling was the tag team match. Invariably, one guy is in the ring getting destroyed. With dramatic flair, he’d reach toward his corner and stretch with all his might. His teammate would also reach to help. Fire was in his eyes and encouragement, “Come on man…make the tag!” After a prolonged battle, the nearly defeated wrestler would somehow get close enough to tag, and the teammate would launch himself into the ring to take down the opponent, punish him, and make the pin!

Though an imperfect analogy, of course, the sanctification process bears some similarities. The allure of sin seems to constantly flip us onto our back and pin us. We find temptation to have us in a sleeper hold more often than not. Often times, temptation and failure win. They take us down. For me, this defeat occurs when I refuse to make the tag, when I want to press in and break the chokehold on my own. That’s when I tend to lose, sometimes only inches away from the reach of help.

Temptation is another one of those realities in life that should press us to run to our corner and make the tag. I mean early on, like at the beginning of the match! After all, if your partner looks like Goldberg and you look like an emaciated green bean, why not make the tag? Pride provokes us to try to achieve sanctification on our own.

The greater the temptation, the greater our need to tag out. We should immediately turn to the Lord in wise desperation. Wise, because victory is assured with Him. Desperation, because we have come to realize that victory is elusive in our own power. We also turn to Him in strong confidence because He has committed to completing the work in us. Don’t be so prideful that you refuse to make the tag.


7-24-20 – Pastor Michael

This is the testimony from a man’s personal experience. It is not theory, not just theology, it is truthful testimony. David was in a dangerous and difficult situation. After the slaying of Goliath, he was on the wanted poster in every Philistine city. When he went to Gath, he was immediately arrested and was prepared for public execution. However, God delivered him (read 1 Samuel 21). His testimony was, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

In this global pandemic, are you or your family oppressed by fear? Have you become so terrified of what might happen or possibly could happen that you are crippled by fear? Why not try David’s remedy: Praise the LORD. Pray to the LORD. Focus on God, who He is and what He can do, rather than on yourself and what the enemy might do. It will not only change the way you feel, the way you live, but it will change the way you look.

There is an important practical principle: our face tends to mirror what we focus upon. If you don’t believe me, watch people’s faces when they are watching a terrible accident on the screen compared to when they are watching a beautiful landscape. Our LORD is light. If we focus on Him, we will reflect His light, and our faces will be radiant. But, if we focus on the dark, the gloomy, the what ifs, that is what others will see when they look at our faces.

Here is our takeaway: Let the LORD dispel your fear and gloom with the light of His presence. Then, become a reflector of His light to a dark and dreary world around you. Let others see Jesus in you!

7-23-20 – Pastor Jordan

Good morning, church family! I read this article from Church Lawless this week and found it to be very helpful and timely. I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to pray through each one and ask the Lord to strengthen you for the battle.

All Christ-followers wrestle against principalities and powers (Eph 6:12), and we don’t always win those battles. Knowing how the enemy works, however, can aid us in living in victory. Here are some ways the enemy seeks to lure us into sin:

  1. He simply capitalizes on our flesh. Even as believers, we still battle against the flesh. Sometimes, we’re easy prey because we choose not to fight very hard. We’re our worst enemies—not Satan and his forces.
  2. He magnifies the pleasure while minimizing the conviction. All we focus on is what we will get if we choose to give in to temptation – not what conviction we’ll experience after we’ve given in.
  3. He turns our attention to the immediate rather than the eternal. Sin is often about getting something right now, without regard for eternity where we will face God—or even for more immediate consequences in many cases.
  4. He directs us to what we’re missing rather than to what God has already given us. That’s what he did with Adam and Eve – direct them to the tree they could not have, and consequently away from all that God had already given them. “God’s just keeping it from you,” was his point.
  5. He diverts and distracts us from spending time in God’s Word. When we don’t know the truth of God’s Word, we won’t recognize the lies the enemy sends our way. We’ll buy his lies like “Nobody will know” and “You deserve it.”
  6. He reminds us that yesterday’s sin didn’t always bring consequences. Why should we be concerned about our choices today when we’ve gotten away with the same choice in the past (or at least we think we have)?
  7. He convinces us that our sins aren’t as bad as they could have been – and they’re certainly not as bad as others’ sin. After all, others have committed adultery, stolen, and murdered. Surely our sin is not so bad…
  8. He exploits weak repentance. He’s not alarmed by the prayer, “God, forgive me” when we already know we’re going to commit the sin again. Confession and repentance without brokenness before a loving, holy God are insufficient to overcome sin.
  9. He persuades us that we can handle it when we put ourselves in a potential place of temptation. We might advise others, “Play with fire, and you’ll get burned” – but that’s the word for them, not for us. We can, we’re sure, get close to sin without ever giving in.
  10. He blinds us from seeing the beauty of Christ and the joy of honoring Him. When we fail to see the glory of Christ and the celebration of praising and obeying Him, we find it easier to sin against Him.


How does the enemy lure you into sin?

7-22-20 – Pastor Charles

I have been so blessed as we have been studying together through the “Summer in the Psalms” on Sundays. I have noticed that many of our E-Connect devotional thoughts have also been centered around the psalms, and today is no exception.

Pastor Johnny Hunt, in one of his devotionals, wrote on this verse:

“How many of us know that a divided heart will kill a relationship? Half-hearted Christianity has done its share of damage to the church as it pertains to meeting the needs of a lost and dying world. When Jesus was asked to declare the greatest commandment in the Word of God, He gave us Matthew 22:37-38: “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” ‘This is the first and greatest commandment.’” To the believer, nothing is more important than loving Jesus with all your heart. How each of us needs an undivided heart that is guarded by the testimonies of our Lord, meaning the things that God witnesses. A whole- hearted commitment to the Lord and His Word will put our lives together.”

Wow, what a good word, and you know, this is exactly what Pastor Chris and Pastor Michael have been saying over the past few weeks!

How is your heart? Is it divided or undivided?

Mediate on verse 2 again, and then, read the first 8 verses of Psalm 119. Pray these verses back to the Father, and let Him do heart surgery!

Have a blessed day!

7-21-20 – Pastor Gene

On November 24, 1971, he boarded the plane in an environment with no security line and no full-body security scans. He paid cash for a ticket, gave a fake name, and slipped onboard Northwest Flight 305. He settled in his aisle seat at the rear of the 727. Shortly after take-off, the man handed a note to a flight attendant that read “I have a bomb.” The man, known as D.B. Cooper, demanded $200,000 and four parachutes. Shortly after collecting the ransom, Cooper jumped from the rear of the plane and into the annals of aviation history. Theory, folklore, and investigations abound, but the identity of D.B. Cooper remains a mystery.

We live with a great deal of mystery. The Lord has left a myriad of wonders to astound us, from the mapping of the human genome to the nature of dark matter. It’s the spirit of man to discover and innovate. The Lord has revealed a great deal to us. But, an enormous amount has been hidden from us, and it has been hidden from us intentionally. Moses tells us that these “secret things” belong to the Lord.

When we thoroughly consider this truth, it is genuinely a remarkable paradox. The God we can “know” is in so many ways “unknowable.” The Lord reminds us that although we are created in His image, there remain “secret things” that belong to Him. Job discovered this:

Where were you when I established the earth? Tell Me if you have understanding. Who fixed its dimensions? Certainly, you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? What supports its foundations? Or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? – Job 38:4-7

You know, the Lord didn’t answer a single question asked by Job. Instead, the Lord turns the tables on him. Fundamentally, the Lord is making Job feel even smaller and smaller as He peppers Job with questions that reveal the great mysteries of God. In the end, Job was satisfied and found comfort in knowing the One who understood the answers to all the inquiries. The secret things belong to God alone. Even the Gospel we receive in the posture of a child is enigmatic. In the end, whether it is the mysteries of the universe or tragedy in our lives, the Lord asks us to trust Him. He knows, He cares, and He loves you.

As a little boy, I marveled how my mom kept food in the fridge, payed bills, kept a job, knew which buses went where, and how to pay something called taxes. I didn’t understand it, but I took such comfort in knowing mom did understand it. We, like Job, should takes great comfort in knowing the One has the answers to the great mysteries of life. We should take comfort in knowing that our God is so omnipotent, so omniscient, and full of wisdom, that we cannot even begin to comprehend His ways.

And yet, that same God left the praise of heaven for the scorn of men, He left His throne of heaven to hang on a tree. That’s a mystery I don’t understand, but I take great comfort in knowing our Lord does.

7-20-20 – Dylan Anderson

I grew up in central Arkansas, and that is still where much of my family lives today. Living here in Eastern North Carolina, I do not get to see my family a lot in person. Holly and I are here, in Arkansas, for a few days visiting my family, and this is the first time that we have seen them, in person, in over 6 months. As we have been back here in Arkansas with my family, this is a concept that has been on my mind a lot. My heart hurts for those who are not as blessed as Holly and I to have godly families that are here on earth that love us and care for us so deeply. We have many friends who do not have that luxury, so we do not take our families for granted. However, no matter what our earthly family dynamics look like, each of us has an opportunity to be a part of a larger, greater family!

The Bible tells us that for those of us who believe and trust in Jesus, we become children of God. (John 1:12) There are so many great benefits that come with being a child of God! We gain a heavenly Father who loves us, and as Pastor Michael reminded us yesterday, that chastens us when we need it. We also gain brothers and sisters. God desires for His people to be in community with one another. This is one of the reasons why He instituted the church! The church is not a building or a place that we go to, it is a community of believers; it is the family of God.

We, here at Englewood, are a local family of followers of Jesus, related to each other through the common blood that was shed on the cross for us all. We are also part of a much larger family, of all God’s children that have put their faith and trust in Jesus. No matter what your family dynamic is with your physical family, as a follower of Jesus, we are all a part of the same spiritual family. This family is the largest and most diverse family on earth! We have the best Father that anyone could ask for, and we are all intimately knitted together by a common faith in Jesus. Paul, in a letter to the church at Ephesus, gives a great charge on what our relationship with our spiritual brothers and sisters is to look like.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, zone baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
– Ephesians 1:1-6

Brothers and sisters, amid social distancing, virtual school, meetings, work, and worship, and in a climate of such cultural divisiveness, we, as the body of Christ, desperately need to heed these truths from Paul’s charge to the Ephesians.

  1. We are called to glorify God; live like it.
  2. We are to live lives characterized by humility, gentleness, patience, and love.
  3. We are to be so intimately involved with each other that we bear each other’s burdens.
  4. We are to be EAGER to strive for unity and peace in the family.
  5. We all have the same Father, family, Spirit, call, hope, Lord, faith, and baptism; act like it.

This is a message for believers, not non-believers. However, imagine with me for a moment, if we as the body of Christ were functioning based on the five principles above, what kind of impact would that type of family relationship have on the world?

7-19-20 – Pastor Chris

John had enough! “I am sick and tired of these people telling me how to think and what to do,” he said. Then, it happened. He wrote a lengthy but scathing post on his Facebook page, ripping apart the very foundations of his “friend’s” argument. Now, he did not name any names, but it was clear what he was talking about. When the post came across his friend’s newsfeed, he was hurt, deeply hurt.

“It was true,” John declared, “every word.” He continued, “if people are so sensitive that they can’t handle a little truth, then they should just get off of Facebook, or stop following me.” Mary, John’s wife, pressed him to call and apologize. John did, and his friend said it was ok. But, their relationship was a little icy from that point forward. It was just not the same. What’s worse, John’s friend hit a rough patch in his marriage a few months later, and because his connection with John had been damaged, John didn’t find out until the papers were filed.

While the story is fictitious, it really does represent a “mash up” of similar tales that are all too real. I am afraid that in our “speak truth” culture, we do damage to relational bridges far more often than we realize.

“I’m not wearing a mask! They don’t help anything and it is all a conspiracy anyway.”

“People who won’t wear a mask are ignorant and haven’t seen the research. It’s a small thing to ask, if you really care about people around you!”

Suddenly, good friends can find themselves no longer “good friends” or “friends at all” over some snappy retort or emotionally charged allegation. And to what end?

Jesus created all of us for relationships. We are to “love one another” in the body. That’s a command. We are to engage our culture and seek to bring everyone we meet into a “growing, reproducing relationship with Jesus Christ.” Yet, we set fire to relational bridges with the kindling of opinions and fuel of hubris. That is often not our intention. We don’t want to offend a brother or damage our gospel bridge, but we often do. Proverbs reminds us over and over of the danger of unchecked words. Here, in today’s proverb, we find another truth: once the relationship is damaged, it is harder to be recovered than breaking into the gates around Fort Knox.

What should we do?

  • Treasure Christ’s grace toward us greatly.
  • Treat others with the same grace.
  • Consider the weightiness of words and calculate their destructive power.
  • Choose better!

My grandmother used to tell me, “Son, if you cannot say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That’s good advice no matter the context but especially as it relates to our gospel mandate. You can say what you want, but you cannot mandate how another person hears it. Choose to steward your words and guard your influence as something precious. For some, eternity will hang in the balance.