Category Archives: Dave’s Little Quirks

The Gospel, or Politics?

Matthew 28:18-20

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”

Last night on the television I watched a conversation between a conservative Christian and the minister of a very liberal congregation from the same denomination, which I choose not to name but will say that it is an older, mainstream denomination. The heart of the debate was the fact that the liberal minister and his church were openly pursuing a very liberal social and political agenda to the point of posting harsh political signs in front of the church, while at the same time the congregation was in decline. I won’t burden you with all the back and forth, but I did see a very important comparison in the story, relative to my own personal experience. The minister’s church, like so many in our time, had wandered from a Biblical presentation of Jesus and into a pursuit of social and political change, while the number of people attending was dropping significantly. Meanwhile, I know a church that had been crawling along seven years ago with only twenty members, but when they got a new pastor who preached Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected, the Lord grew that church and today they have an average attendance of over 1,000 people spread out among three services. What is the difference? One church preaches politics, the other preaches the gospel. One follows a humanistic philosophy loosely based on the teachings of Jesus, the other teaches the great love of Jesus expressed in His setting aside the glory of heaven to come among us and die a horrible death to pay the price of our sins. Now the shifting of focus within churches from the eternal to the temporal is not limited to the liberal, theologically muddy branches of Christianity although it is most apparent there. There are many reasonably conservative Christian churches that have also strayed into the elevation of politics and social change. When I first became a Christian in the mid-80s one of the big subjects of debate within the church was what to do with the new-found political power that evangelical Christianity had discovered. For the majority the answer was clear: politics must always take second place to the work of carrying the gospel of salvation to a lost world. Yet, decades later, many in the church seem to get that order of importance backwards. Being politically aware and active is important, but it has not been lost on me that nowhere in Scripture does it exhort us to put politics first, to make social change the whole point. We are encouraged to obey the authorities so long as they are not trying to force us to disobey God, and we are told to pray for our leaders that we may have peace. But the notion that the church must use politics to bring about the Kingdom is heretical and became popular during the 19th Century. Jesus didn’t come among us to start a program of social justice, although if we follow Christ and preach His Word society can improve; compare the “anything goes” madness of today with the relative social stability of earlier ages when the faith was more important to the majority of people. But the whole purpose of His coming was to atone for our sins and turn our hearts back to God in repentance. Jesus changes lives, you bet, He changed mine in some very dramatic and fundamental ways; politics mostly just changes who governs us and how. Jesus saves our souls, politics does not. So always put sharing the Biblical truth of Jesus Christ before trying to change the world through human effort. Keep politics where it belongs, and promote the gospel of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ. For only Jesus can changes the world in the ways that matter.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Christmas 2017

Luke 2:6-7

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It seems to me that this time of year brings out the best, and paradoxically the worst, in people. It can bring out the best because it is a time of year when many people perform acts of kindness and generosity they might not otherwise do. Of course we celebrate Christmas by giving gifts to our friends and families, but often we also give to those we don’t know, either through charities or churches or just giving something to the homeless guy on the streetcorner. It is a time when many families come together, hopefully lay aside the usual petty differences that can arise within families, and celebrate Christmas together. But it can also be a time when tempers flare in the malls or in traffic, when rudeness and impatience and greed take over. A time when some people get judgemental when seeing how their family member has set the table or the neighbor has decorated their house. And it can be a time when a lot of well meaning people argue over what Christmas is and what it should be, and even whether it should be celebrated at all.

There are so many arguments out there online over this and that aspect of Christmas that I’m not going to rehash it here. Yes, it is primarily a religious holiday, and to many people who are atheists or Muslims or whatever they repudiate it as something religious being forced upon them; if seeing a manger scene in someone’s yard offends you, then don’t look, go home and shut your eyes for a month. But it seems to me that most of the harshest arguments are between two people or groups who both claim Christ and can’t resist the temptation to argue over various aspects of Christmas. Yes, no one really knows on what date Jesus Christ was born, no matter how brilliant a case they can make in support of one date or another. Yes, there have been a lot of pagan influences from Northern Europe that have been incorporated in the celebration of the birth of the Savior; so do what I do, don’t practice them. Yes, in the last century especially there has been a great deal of commercialism and avarice and materialism come into what should be a humble and peaceful time. But should we reject the holiday completely because there are flaws in how or when it is celebrated? No.

The entire, sole reason why people began to celebrate this as a holiday was to commemorate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In that manger 2,000 years ago lay the perfect union of God and man, who came into our dirty, wicked world to pay the penalty of our sins so that we imperfect, sinful mortals could receive the gift of eternal life through Him. That’s all, but then it was more than enough. Another name given to Christ in the Bible is Immanuel, which translates as “God Among Us”. He entered our world because He loved us too much to allow us to march blindly to our destruction without an exit ramp. Personally, I believe that the more important event was the death of Jesus on the cross, for that is when He atoned for our sins. His resurrection was a close second, for it is the sign to all of us that He had defeated sin and death for good. But for Him to have led a sinless life to pay for our sins at Calvary He first had to be born, and that is why we celebrate Christmas.

So let’s stop arguing over this point and that point and just celebrate the birth of our Savior. The date doesn’t matter; the fact of His birth does. Stop tearing each other down and start building each other up. And if you don’t believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, please resist the temptation to revile those of us who do. Love one another, as Jesus told us to do. Be kinder and more patient. Be a bit more restrained in how much load you dump onto your credit cards. Argue less. And consider, even if only for a moment, the reality that on what was possibly a cold winter night in Bethlehem during the reign of Caesar Augustus, a child was born that was the union of the mortal with the immortal, of the created with the Creator. Consider the possibility that was true and not a myth. Try not to remove Christ from Christmas, for without Christ, what difference would it all make?

Merry Christmas to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Jerusalem the Capital of Israel? Yes!

2nd Samuel 5:6-10

“The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, ‘You will not get in here, even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here’. Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David. On that day, David said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water water shaft to reach those “lame and blind” who are David’s enemies. That is why they say “the blind and lame will not enter the palace.”‘ David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the LORD God Almighty was with him.”

King David captured the ancient city of Jerusalem around 1000 BC, and that city remained the Jewish capital until the Roman sack in 70 AD and, in a sense, beyond. The Israelites were in possession of Jerusalem for slightly more than 1000 years before the Roman sack; since then the city has been at the heart of the Jewish religion and an important city for the Christians. From the time of the Muslim conquest in 638 AD until the end of World War I the city remained under Islamic control by various caliphates and then the empire of the Ottoman Turks. From World War I until the creation of the modern Jewish state of Israel in 1948, the city was governed by the British authorities. Since the war declared by her Muslim neighbors immediately after Israel’s independence, the Israelis took possession of West Jerusalem and then in 1967 they captured East Jerusalem from Jordan during the Six Day War.

Today President Trump acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to begin the process of moving the American embassy there. Making a rare political statement of my own, I fully support this move. For almost 2,000 years the Jewish people have longed to return to Jerusalem, and now the city is once again recognized as the capital of Israel, at least by the American government. Israel’s claim to Jerusalem is 3,000 years old, while Christianity has revered the city as the location of where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, God Among Us, suffered and died for our sins, for 2,000 years. Islam has revered Jerusalem as one of their holy sites for 1400 years. The Jewish people have a definite historical precedence in claiming the city. The Palestinian Authority has for decades seen East Jerusalem as their capital; now, thanks to their intransigence in refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace, East Jerusalem is lost to them. So be it. In the 69 years since Israel has controlled the city (at least the western part), they have peacefully given Christians and Muslims full access – in a peaceful manner – to their holy sites within the city, to the extent of even restricting Jewish activity, including prayers, on the Temple Mount in deference to their Muslim population. They will continue to do so; can the Palestinian Authority state honestly that they would do the same if they had full control of the city? Very doubtful. I fear that given the chance they would follow the example of the Taliban and ISIS and destroy all non-Muslim sites.

So in short, hurrah for Israel and well done to President Trump for making a difficult and unpopular decision that was long overdue. Of course the Jew-haters of the world will condemn this move, they are already starting to. But perhaps the apparently now permanent loss of even East Jerusalem will wake up the Palestinian Authority and the PLO to the fact that Israel is there to stay and that further refusal to come to the table and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis will just cost them more in the future. And since Islam claims at least parts of the Old Testament as valid (the parts they agree with), perhaps they would do well to remember what was said in Numbers 24:9, “May those who bless you be blessed, and those who curse you be cursed!” Jerusalem will forever be the Holy City, the center of the Kingdom of God and the seat of a returned Jesus Christ, ruling the nations with an iron scepter.

To borrow a phrase from the fictional Borg, “resistance is futile”.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. And to all my Jewish friends, a heartfelt shalom!

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At the Heart of it All…

Romans 1:28-32

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

I don’t think it takes a lot of imagination to see this at work in the world around us today. Look at the news lately. It has become a seemingly endless litany of murder, hatred, perversion, rampant immorality, greed and wickedness of every kind. People get murdered going to church on a Sunday; hate-filled jihadists slaughter hundreds for the crime of believing a little differently. Sex scandals in the halls of power fill the news daily, simply because some are unable to control their own lusts; and those are just the natural lusts, I’m not even going to dignify the unnatural ones by detailing them here. Materialism and greed are now the norm, and unfettered consumerism has grown from it’s beginnings in the 19th century and earlier to become the apparent goal of billions. People glut themselves while half the world starves. Madmen in horrid totalitarian regimes threatens others with nuclear destruction (yes, I’m talking about Rocket Man in North Korea). Old fashioned paganism is on the rise along with the occult and eastern mysticism. Cults flourish while apostates fleece their flocks for billions and turn away from the truth of Scripture. What is the answer? The world around us has been telling us for over three centuries that the answer is science and humanist philosophy, but it doesn’t seem to me like that is working out very well. Atheists say we should do away with all religion, but in practice it seems they want to abolish Bible-believing Christianity and leave groups like Islam and the Satanists alone. Humanism tells us that we if we can just become enlightened enough, or educated enough, or sensitive enough, or collectivist enough, we can solve the world’s problems by our own efforts. That is utterly impossible! The truth of the matter is that the problem at the heart of all of the world’s ills is a rebellion against the God who created us and a rejection of the Savior who died for us. Period. People who ignore God and reject Jesus Christ are the real problem. Yes, I’m fully aware of the sins of the religion of Christianity, my avocation is a study of history from the earliest times on, but I can show you in every case that those excesses and sins were caused by those who chose to do it their way in the name of religion instead of following the teachings of our Lord. I could go on for hours, but the bottom line is very simple: humanity cannot fix our own problems by our own efforts for we are flawed and marred by sin, every one of us. No matter what new scheme we cook up we will never fix the world on our own. Not even by “converting” everyone to the religion of Christianity can we bring about the Kingdom of God as some claim. All we can do is submit to God, trust in Christ as Lord and Savior, and follow His teachings to do the best we can. And wait, for He will return as promised and put an end to all the evil that fills our world to the brim. As Scripture says, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior, so we are all faced with the choice of following Him now or acknowledging His Lordship under protest when He returns, but choose wisely. If we follow Him we enter into an eternity in the presence of God in a world no longer ripped apart by the wickedness of this age. If you continue to reject Him and try going it on your own you will receive only an eternity of suffering. The choice is yours, but as Joshua said so long ago, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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A Response to the Texas Shooting in a Wider Context

John 15:18-19

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Most of you have heard by now of the horrific shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, this past Sunday, November 5th. May God grant comfort and peace to the families in that small town, a village really, who lost their loved ones when that man walked into the church and opened fire during the service, and may God rapidly heal those who still fight for life in area hospitals. I don’t intend to go through all of the details of the vicious attack on Christians during worship by a self-avowed atheist; we all as believers know what kind of evil fills this fallen world and the hearts of people. (I do however want to take a moment to thank God for the neighbor of the church who laid his own life on the line by taking his rifle, and running barefoot go to the church and shoot the murderer twice; everyone is convinced that many more would have died if he had not been a good Samaritan and intervened to try and protect his neighbors and friends.) I do want to address the general rise in anti-Christian sentiment and the persecution being perpetrated around the world. After the vile attack many took to social media expressing their shock and asking people to pray for those affected. Almost immediately they came under fire from the godless, especially in the priveleged elites, who publicly mocked the faith of the victims and attacked their beliefs in some of the ugliest and sometimes profane ways. In my mind, they are the true “Deplorables” for their heartless mockery in this heartbreaking time. But I’m not surprised in the least. Here in America, and in other developed nations, or nations that are predominently Christian, we have enjoyed decades if not a couple of centuries of peaceful practice of our faith. True, with the rise of secular humanism and more and more people rejecting even the idea of God, let alone the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it has become more common that we are mocked. Sometimes the godless resort to legal pressure to try and get Christians to violate their beliefs, such as in the Hobby Lobby legal case over abortion or the multitude of cases involving lawsuits because a Christian baker or florist refused to participate in a homosexual marriage ceremony with their products. For years Christians have been mocked and ridiculed publicly in films and on TV, and it is rarely that movies that are Christian-friendly, such as “The Case for Christ” or the new film “Let There Be Light” are produced and made. But that is really to be expected. We know from the Bible that in these last days Christians who stick to their Biblical faith will be persecuted and killed for our faith, but we mostly manage to push that thought into the future or devise un-Scriptural doctrines that conveniently make it somebody else that will be hounded to death for we won’t be here. I understand completely; I certainly don’t want to have to face imprisonment or execution in a persecution like that of Roman Emporer Diocletian at the end of the third century. But, my friends, this war against the saints has already begun, for there are Christians around the world who are being hounded and killed, often in horrible ways, for proclaiming the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ. In the Middle East ISIS rounded up many Christians in the territory they had seized and killed them, often publishing the videos of these executions online. In many parts of Asia and Africa this is happening and so few seem to notice. Even when it is talked about, the anti-Christian forces in this world mock and revile and attack, such as the backlash against Laura Ingraham for talking about global persecution and actually mentioning God on her TV show. (If you want to look further into this persecution of Christians for their faith, I suggest you get in touch with a nondenominational organization called the Voice of the Martyrs at http://www.persecution.com; I’ve checked them out and they are a good organization that works around the globe helping persecuted Christians in need.) My point is simply this, brothers and sisters: this hateful attitude of so many people toward those of us who hear and do the Word should come as no suprise, for Jesus and the apostles prophesied it 2,000 years ago. We need to cast aside the misguided assumption that we as Christians can somehow bring about global peace and tolerance and the Kingdom by our own efforts, and cling in faith to the Lord God who has promised to return and set things right. Yes, we have to go through terrible things on the way, and sadly it is only going to intensify as we get closer to return of Christ. But like the Christians of old, we must remain true to our Lord and never surrender. Jesus Christ has already won the victory, which means that we who follow Him have the victory as well. Pray, and help each other through the horrors, and never turn away from our faith. Remember our Lord’s words…look up, for our redemption draws near.

Peace and grace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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A Christian Response to Halloween

2nd Corinthians 6:15

“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”

Here in America at least, you can’t go into a store without being confronted with Halloween decorations and costumes, and an amazing number of adults are excited about this event. But what should a Christian’s response to this pagan holiday, revered by many modern witches as the holiest day of the year, be? Is it wrong to mix our Christian faith with an occultic celebration? My personal feeling is that we should not as believers take part in this celebration; I’m not even very comfortable with having a harvest type festival as an alternative, a position thankfully echoed in my church. But I found a good article on the subject of Halloween written in 2009 by Hank Hanegraff, President of Christian Research Institute, and I think that Mr. Hanegraff explains it better than I ever could. So I hope you enjoy this article and that it helps clarify your own position:

Halloween for Christians: Oppression or Opportunity

A myriad of questions have been raised about Halloween. Should Christians participate in Halloween? What should our attitude be towards Halloween? Should we simply ignore it? Should we vigorously attack it? Or should we, as Christians, find ways in which to accommodate it?

Before offering some suggestions on how we as Christians might best relate to Halloween, I think it would be appropriate to first consider the pagan origin of Halloween.

The celebration of Halloween, also known as the witches’ new year, is rooted in the ancient pagan calendar which divided the year into Summer and Winter by two fire festivals. Before the birth of Christ, the day we know as Halloween was part of the Celtic Feast of Samhain (sah–ween). This feast was a celebration of Druid priests from Britain and France and commemorated the beginning of Winter. It was a night on which the veil between the present world and the world beyond was pierced. The festivals were marked by animal sacrifices, offerings to the dead, and bonfires in recognition of departed souls. It was believed that on this night demons, witches, hobgoblins, and elves were released en masse to harass and to oppress the living. For self-preservation many Druids would dress up as witches, devils, and ghouls, and would even involve themselves in demonic activities and thus make themselves immune from attack.

In direct response to this pagan tradition, the early Christian church moved a festive celebration called All Saints’ Day from May to November 1st and renamed October 31st All Hallows’ Eve, from which we get the word Halloween. This was an overt attempt on the part of believers to infiltrate pagan tradition with the truth of the gospel.

It was a bold evangelistic move designed to demonstrate that only the power of the resurrected Christ could protect men and women from the destructive ploys of Satan and his minions. This was a time in which they boldly proclaimed the marvelous fact of the resurrection and the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Believers in post-Christian America today should do no less. Halloween can be for us, like the early Christian church, an open door for evangelism. The deception of Halloween, with its witches, demons, skeletons, and allusions to death, can become a powerful springboard to demonstrate the dramatic power of Christ to redeem us from death, to fill us with His Spirit, and to give our lives meaning, purpose, and direction.

There are three specific things which I would suggest that you and your family plan for next Halloween: First of all, I would use Halloween as an opportunity to communicate to your children, your family members, and your friends that although death and the grave are very real, we are more than conquerors over the powers of darkness through Jesus Christ.

Second, this is an appropriate time to consider the saints who have gone on before us — those loved ones who make the thought of heaven sweet. Even now my mind goes back to precious moments of days spent with Walter Martin. When I think of heaven, I think not only of what it will be like to meet Jesus Christ, but I think of what it will be like to be reunited with this marvelous saint who has had such a significant impact not only on my life but the lives of countless others as well. This is also a great opportunity to share with my children the life of a saintly grandmother who prayed earnestly for me night after night while I was engulfed in a life of sin. Although she is no longer with us, the answers to her prayers live on.

Christians, this is not a time to look the other way as we do so often when passing by a graveyard. Halloween is not a time for avoidance; this is an opportunity, so seize the moment! Death, demons, pain, and suffering are real in a cursed creation. All of us have to struggle with it, and so will our children. This is not a time for glib and superficial answers — this is a time to build intimate and lasting relationships with those whom God has entrusted to our care. This is the time to reach them and to nurture them in the rich traditions of the Christian faith. Let your children know that Satan is not a character dressed in a red union suit with horns and a pitchfork; instead, he is a very real and powerful adversary whose goal is to steal, kill, and destroy.

Finally, let me suggest that this would be a time to share some of the great classics of the Christian faith with your children. Perhaps you could curl up on the floor with them before a roaring fire and read to them from Pilgrim’s Progress, or from C. S. Lewis’s masterful work The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Yes, this is not a time to curse the darkness, but a time to light a candle. If we are indeed serious about making an impact on a lost and dying world, Halloween represents not just satanic oppression but a strategic opportunity.

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The Importance of Finding the Right Church

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Today I’m led to speak about churches in general. When Jesus called us all to follow Him we became one flock under Him, one family of believers, His brothers and sisters in grace. While some are led to lead lives of isolation, they are very few. But just as wolves will try to separate a sheep from the flock to have a more vulnerable prey, I believe that when Christians allow themselves to be separated from the Body of Christ they become more vulnerable in many ways. We are meant to be a part of a group of fellow believers, brothers and sisters in the Lord, so that we can encourage each other and help each other and hold each other accountable. But this isn’t always easy for some of us. While humans are hardwired to be social, to be a part of a group, be it a family or a clan or a tribe or a nation, for some of us it can be challenging. For instance, due to issues I’ve struggled with all of my life I find it hard to be among large groups of people; I’ve never been comfortable in social settings, except of course in years long past when various substances were involved, and so when a part of a larger group my defenses tend to go up and I remain amazingly isolated in the midst of a crowd. The Lord has brought me a long way with this, and now I’m fairly comfortable being in the midst of a crowd of people at church on Sundays. So sometimes people have issues that tend to separate them from the Body of Christ. Many times the isuue is not so much being in a large group of people as it is an issue with some teaching or practice of a certain church. This is very understandable; there are a number of churches that I would not attend because they promote false teachings or they have practices I disagree with (and I’m not even including cults or pseudo-Christian groups). Fair enough. We are warned repeatedly to watch out for false prophets and teachers of lies. As our dear brother Paul wrote, we are to test everything against the Word of God, and that should include churches too. We should avoid places where they teach anti-Biblical doctrines or practice things that aren’t right. But then, at the same time, what does that leave us? No church or denomination is 100% correct all of the time; after all, every Christian who has ever lived has been a flawed, fallible, mortal being who can make mistakes no matter how faithful they may be. I think that one of the great sadnesses in Christianity today is the fact that so many denominations and churches avoid or even revile everyone else instead of accepting our differences and learning from each other. Now do not make the mistake of thinking that I am promoting the modern ecumenical push to unite all churches and reconcile with other religions such as Islam. I am not. A truly Christian church should teach the whole Word of God and teach a Biblical Christ, God in human flesh, Who died on the Cross for our sins, rose physically from the dead and ascended into heaven and is returning soon in power and glory to claim His throne over the nations. I will not participate in a church that practices the worship of anyone but the Lord, for instance. But I do not hate or revile those who do, I merely present the truth in a spirit of love and humility and practice Christ’s love for others. Jesus said we would be known by the love we have for one another and we should always keep that in mind when dealing with people who fellowship differently. So what should we look for in a church? First, it should be a church that teaches the entire Word of God without avoiding the parts that might make someone uncomfortable; it’s ok to have differences of interpretation regarding peripheral issues, but the core truths such as what is contained in the Apostles’ Creed need to be present. Second, that body of believers should live the Word they teach. They should be committed to lives of discipleship for Jesus, which means obedience to God instead of living in any way we please. Third, it should be a church that is committed to reaching out to the billions of lost souls around us; this can be done in a variety of ways, not just in traditional missionary work. And fourth, it should be a church that is not focused on fundraising and building big, beautiful places to worship; I know of churches overseas that meet in what most Americans would consider a cow shed. The early church was at its best meeting in humble places before it became obsessed with gathering wealth and power. You may not find a church that meets every criteria you have chosen perfectly, but find one that at least gets the essentials right, that lives by the Word of God. Then join the family under Christ and love each other with a holy love, not condemning each other because you disagree about small things like someone’s appearance or how they word something. My pastor has often referred to Christianity as a team sport and he has it right. We can still be a child of God and have salvation in Jesus when on our own, but it is a lonely path that cannot compare with being a part of a body of believers who are of like mind. I know, for I have walked that path before.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

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