Monthly Archives: December 2017

Anticipating the Coming King!

The advent season has come and is culminating to the ultimate birthday celebration shortly on Christmas Day. As we have celebrated through, Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, it is now time for the real star of advent, Christ! We celebrate the birth of our Messiah and Savior, Jesus. Without His birth, there is no real redemption for mankind. When Jesus was born, He changed the entire human race. He did this by relating to humans, by becoming human, by being tempted to sin, by paying our penalty for those sins, by being put to death on a cross, and by finally conquering death through a physical resurrection. That is why this time of the year is so meaningful to the world.

As God’s people wait for the return of Christ in glory to consummate his eternal kingdom. The church is in a similar situation to Israel at the end of the Old Testament: We are in exile, waiting and hoping in prayerful expectation for the coming of the Messiah. Israel looked back to God’s past gracious actions on their behalf in leading them out of Egypt in the Exodus, and on this basis they called for God once again to act for them. In the same way, we the church, during Advent, look back upon Christ’s coming in celebration while at the same time looking forward in eager anticipation to the coming of Christ’s kingdom when he returns for his people. In this light, the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” perfectly represents the church’s cry during the Advent season:

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

While Israel would have sung the song in expectation of Christ’s first coming, the church now sings the song in commemoration of that first coming and in expectation of the second coming in the future. During this season there is much hope for many things and desires. We hope that our family will be together for Christmas, we hope that we won’t get into too much debt for the all amazing Christmas gifts we want to give. We hope that Jesus will truly be the Lord of Christmas. We hope for those things we cannot see, because that is real hope.

Malachi 3:1-5

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.”

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart to stay! If you were around in church as child, that was one of the bible songs that would be sung a long way back. It is such a neat little way to have children express a simple fact. When Jesus rules your heart, you have joy, great joy. We should be cheerful and happy about it!

One day God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to be born as the Messiah for all people of all the earth for all time. He demonstrated His love for us even though we ourselves are a sinful people. He said I will love them anyway.

Romans 5:8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

We are to celebrate God’s love in anticipation of the coming King. First by birth, but next time, by His return to culminate a Kingdom that has already been established. He will finish the work set before Him on that Day!

This is the Christmas season, and we are reminded year after year about the greatness of God through the birth of Jesus Christ. We celebrate every December 25 as a pillar of our faith. We give gifts to each otters in remembrance of the first gifts brought to the newborn King! Oh what a fantastic time of the year! Unto Us A Savior Is Born!

Stand & Read—John 1:1-5;14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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5 Reasons the Homogeneous Church is Declining and Dying

This blog post comes from Thom Rainer.

Maybe you belong to one of these churches?

When you are in your worship services next Sunday, look at the people around you.

Do they all look like you? Do they all come from the same economic backgrounds? Are they are about the same age?

If so, you are in a homogeneous church. As the old homogeneous unit principle implied, “We attract people who are like us.” That principle was a point of contention and debate for decades. Is it descriptive (a reality observed), or is it prescriptive (a strategy pursued)?

I contend that the healthy church in America will be neither. Indeed, I contend that the homogenous church is declining and dying.

Why? Here are five key reasons.

1 We live in a heterogeneous culture. I grew up in the racist world of the Deep South. We whites had our own churches, places of business, and country clubs. No one else was allowed. If you went to the doctor, there were separate waiting rooms for whites and African Americans (“Coloreds”). It was abysmal. It was sickening. I know. Racism is not gone. But I am grateful that my children and grandchildren don’t even know why a person of a different color should not be their friend or colleague. The culture has changed. But not all churches have changed. Those that haven’t will die.

2 Gen Z will not have a majority racial or ethnic group. Those born from 2001 to today are growing up in a generation that has no majority group. For the first time in American history, whites will be a minority with other minority groups. That is the real world. Our churches need to reflect that real world.

3 The Millennials tend to avoid homogeneous churches. This generation, born between 1980 and 2000, sees homogenous churches as aberrations. It does not reflect the reality of the world in which they live. They may visit a homogeneous church, but they likely will not return.

4 Cultural Christianity is dying. “Cultural Christians” is an oxymoron. We use that term to refer to unregenerate people who had some level of participation in a congregation because it was the culturally acceptable thing to do. It was good for business and politics. That world is almost gone. Cultural Christians could come to our segregated churches with no qualms, because they only attended to get business connections, to get votes, or just to be accepted as a member of good standing in the community. That world no longer exists.

5 Homogeneity is a form of segregation. It is not gospel-centric. This issue is the essence of the matter. When we begin to define our churches by skin color, socioeconomic class, or any other divider, we are going counter to the gospel.

Where should we begin to move our churches to reflect the centrality of the gospel? A first step is to know your community. Do the research to find out who is really in the community around your church.

Whatever path you take, get to know who is really in your community. That information will let you know if there is a divide between those who attend your church and those who live around you.

Homogeneous churches are dying. They do not reflect the gospel. It is my prayer that our churches will soon reflect this reality when we gather before the Lamb of God:

After this I looked and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10, CSB)

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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