Church Search and Pot Luck

Many years ago our state Baptist paper published a question on how to find the right church to attend and join. The advice from “PJ” was to make a list of what you are looking for and attend the churches that had what you wanted until you find the one that has most of the things you are looking. 

I do not agree with that advice. We ought to consider how our gifts could help a church in the call to answer the Great Commission so it is not just what we could get from the church but also what we have to offer. 

Searching for a church is like sitting at a table and being served a “pot luck” meal. There is no question what you will be served! 

In the church you might be served unorganized chaos or a rigid bulletin, Christian Rock, baptist hymnal, contemporary or blended music. You might have a preacher in a three piece suit or a guy in trousers with his shirt hanging outside his pants. One may carry his bible to the pulpit while the other may not carry his bible at all! 

Then before you even got to the church you have to find out what time they meet. I’ve learned some churches do not even post that info on their web sites. I guess you have to know somebody who goes there to get that info. 

The search for a church brings the weekly find for a place to sit without taking someone’s place. There’s the probation period once you start attending for the members to get to know you and vice versa. Course you have the meet and greet where everyone does as told and shakes a hand or two. You’d think this would be a natural act of courtesy and not orchestrated. 

Attending church is getting less and less appealing. This is a serious matter. Churches have not handled this issue very well. How do you get people to come? How do you make the church appealing again? Just today my wife and I visited a church and felt singled out because the church took up the special Annie aRmstrong offering by having the people file out of the pews and go to the corners of the room to drop the offering. Imagine how we felt not being prepared and us just standing there while the others take there march.

I know what I look for in a church. I also know I can be a bit more critical than most. What follows is my list but be aware I start from the fact that I want to attend church and worship God. Now my list.

  1. I want to sense I belong there and that sensation is genuine. 
  2. I want a pastor who respects the office of a pastor in his appearance behind the sacred desk, his visitation practices and his integrity. 
  3. I want the church to be clean and cared for. 
  4. I want a church whose demographic points to the truth where everyone is welcome. 
  5. I look for a church where it is congregational run, and pastor lead under the divine direction of the Holy Spirit. 
  6. Blended music works good for me. 
  7. Invitations are a must. Invitations where the people in attendance feel free to come to the pastor and not be sent to some other person. 
  8. I want a church where the staff make it worth while to attend . They make it worth the effort to go to church. Just as each one who attends does their part. 

So there are some of my thoughts. 

Next Sunday is a special day for Pot Luck Church Search. It’s Easter Sunday!

Until next time,

Hoss

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The Humiliation of being Humble

Current trends in our society compels individuals to do for yourselves, to speak up for yourselves, and to do all you can to promote yourself. The idea is if you don’t think much of yourself then how are you going “sell yourself” to others. That is why so many people have “agents” to speak for them. Others have people of ‘influence’ to speak for them. They play politics in every area of their lives. Jobs, careers, church, personal, and private goals.

Competition matters. In order to secure that job, that contract, that girl, you have to present yourself as the better choice among potential candidates. Political candidates do the same thing to secure your vote. However, most voters know the real decision is to chose the lesser of the available evils. 

The old expression, “nice guys finish last’ is true in most cases. Seldom do the girls want the nice guy unless he’s abnormal and happens to be handsome, beefed up, and sexy in addition to being nice. Most women who call a guy ‘a nice guy’ are usually speaking more about charater than “marriage material.” 

Now here’s the question. Is it not humiliating to be humble? Most people who have the trait of humility seem to think they are less than the majority of the population. I tend to think of humility as a strong trait because you have to discipline yourself not to get an attitude of thinking too highly of yourself like so many others do. You have to be self-disiplined to not follow the ways of the world.

In many cases the humble person can achieve what others do and just as well but simply are not noticed for it. The humble person has to come to the place in their life to say it is okay. So many want to make a name for themself so when they leave this world they will be remembered. Hence naming buildings, bridges, tournaments, etc after them. 

Which trait do you think God explores? Which trait do you think God endorses over the other? Is it humility? Could it be self-confidence? Self esteem is certainly important and matters to God. 

You can be a person of great humility and have good self esteem just as a person of great self-confidence can have low self esteem. 

I guess what I am trying to get across is this, there is no humiliation in being humble.  Just because you may not think much of yourself and equate that with being a humble person, doesn’t mean in the least that you are not a person of great worth and value to this world and to the people in your life. A humble person knows who they are in the revelation of God. They are created in His image. They are strong in character and purpose. They resolve to live life according to higher principles than the world endorses. Therefore, remain humble. Seek God. Trust God to lead, guide, and open the paths He has for you. 

I was once advised to not disclose an important part of my personal background, (being divorced and now remarried), in order that I might secure a position in God’s church. The thought was waiting until people got to know me before I told them. My personal conviction is deception is never a good idea especially when you want God’s blessings. 

Just my humble opinion.

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (‭James‬ ‭4‬:‭10‬ NASB)

Until next time,

Hoss

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Memories of Hearon Circle

I’m going back many years to my days as a youngster. Unless you are from these parts, you are likely unfamiliar with Hearon Circle. It is a major road that travels under interstate 85 business. It is laid out in a circle rather than an intersection. Fun to get on and off the circle! 



The businesses have change but when I was small I can remeMber going to the Dairy-Dreame and getting ice cream. Dad always got a hum-dinger. It’s like a banana split in a big cup. 

On the other side of the interstate was an Exxon station where I took my volkswagen fastback to a high school friend who was working there part-time to change the water in the radiator. He spent several hours trying to find the radiator before his boss told him volkswagons didn’t come with a radiator. He almost lost his job and I almost lost a friend. Humor prevailed. 

What made me think of Hearon Circle is reading the story in Luke 15:17. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! (‭Luke‬ ‭15‬:‭17‬ NASB) I refer to this as the time the young prodigal “smelt the bread” even if in his mind and decided to return home. 

You see, across from the Dairy-Dreame was a bread and pastry plant called Flowers Bakery. Oh it smelt so great driving by. The aroma was enticing and inviting. I think when one realizes how much God our Heavenly Father wants us in His fellowship then we run to him to receive the enticing and inviting love of God. Don’t you desire that? I know I do. 

God will receive you. Do you smell the bread?

Until next time,

Hoss

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The Hope of Power

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (‭Romans‬ ‭15‬:‭13‬ NASB)

As I Understand it…

The amount of hope I have is directly related to the degree of [faithing] believing I place in God. 
Pistos {Greek word for faith} equals faith and is indicative of on-going faith. 
The Holy Spirit gives me the power of hope in God as I am believing in God resulting in peace and joy with God! It’s a never-ending circle so long as I believe.

Until Next Time,

Hoss


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FABLE OF THE PORCUPINE

It was the coldest winter ever.  Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. 

After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth.

Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive. 

The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person’s good qualities. 

The moral of the story is: Too often, we won’t stand back to back because we’ve been irritated in the past by another person’s words or actions. If we are to succeed we must be able to close ranks and work together. 

A good call for the true churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (‭John‬ ‭13‬:‭34-35‬ NASB)


Until Next Time


Hoss

 

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What’s It Worth To You?

It engages in quiet competition. Each branch debates on the best way to prosper. They look at one another to see what may be working for the other group and decide what the others are doing is what they should be doing. The goal-bring in more people. The business-the church! 

All too often we hear of what’s wrong with the church. Seldom do you hear what is right with the church. Granted more times than not we have to concede to the truth that the church has failed in its mission. 

Today, I want to introduce a major reason why the church seems to be failing. They have lost sight of the value of the human soul. 

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38 NASB)

The issues of God and the issues of man differ radically. Mark 8:34-9:1 shows how much they differ. 

A possible outline: (POSB, Mark 8:34-9:1, pages 158-161)

  1. The issue of discipleship: indulgence vs. denying self (34)
  2. The issue of life: saving life vs. losing life (35)
  3. The issue of value: gaining the world vs. saving the soul (36-37)
  4. The issue of Messiah: being ashamed vs. confessing Christ. (38)
  5. The issue of death: tasting death vs. seeing God’s kingdom (9:1)

Today I want to focus on the issue of value. (My Outline)

I. What is of value to you?

  1. An example might be your iPhone
  2. An example might be you IPad, tablet, etc…
  3. An example might be your vehicle. 
  4. An example might be your identity. (Clemson, Carolina, Sexual Orientation)
  5. An example might be an item of personal value.

II. What is of value to Jesus?

Simply stated Jesus values most the salvation of your soul. 

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. 

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich. Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly. When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10 NASB)

The Greek word translated soul is the same Greek word translate life. Jesus used the word life in two senses. There are two stages, two beings, two existences to the same life. The life that exists on this earth and the life that shall exist beyond this earth, in heaven. Once a person is born into this world, he will exist forever. It is just a matter of where he goes after life in this world: to be with God or to be apart from God. The human soul exists forever. It is eternal. It never dies. It never ceases to exist. 

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36 NASB)

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:25-26 NASB)

III. What is of value to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ?

  1. It could be the church’s heritage.
  2. It could be the church’s bank account.
  3. It could be the church’s building. 
  4. It could be the church’s member’s

The Value Of A Soul
His clothes were old and ragged; in his hand he held a glass. He was our
city’s poorest drunk, a man of lower class. “Lord, you don’t know that
man,” I said. “He’s lived his life in vain. He’ll bring disgrace into
the church and reproach upon your name.” 
“I’d like to know him,” Jesus said, “but he does not know me. But if
you’ll help me reach him, then what a change you’ll see. I’ll take that
wretched, sinful life and cleanse it with my blood. And when he gives
his heart to me, I’ll fill it with my love.” 
“His soul cannot be purchased with the wealth you’ve seen today. But I
was sent to die for him; my blood has paid the way. He’s my lost sheep,”
the Savior said, “And I love you both the same, But if you think he’s
worthless, then I surely died in vain.” 
“So when you look upon someone whose life is wrecked by sin, If you’ll
just have compassion, then you’ll share your brother’s pain. You must
not look upon his past or what he seems to be. But look beyond his many
faults and know, I’ll set him free.” 
“Don’t look at him as just a man and only see his shame, But see him as
a precious soul that I have died to save.” “This earthly wealth,” the
Savior said, “cannot draw men to me. But I paid a price upon the cross,
to set this whole world free.
Author Unknown

Invitation

Stand. Look across the aisle. Take a glance at those behind you, in front of you, and those by your side. Now I ask you, what do you value most? Is it the soul of those you know, those you meet? Is it yours?

Give your life to Jesus. Receive Him as your Savior.

THINGS FOR WHICH PEOPLE TRADE THEIR SOULS… 

1. For some people, it is earthly riches and fame 

In their quest for riches, they neglect their service to God – 1Ti 6:10 

Yet they have traded their souls for that which is corruptible and can be stolen – Mt 6:19-21 

2. For others, it is the “passing pleasures of sin” a. Like the young man tempted by the harlot – Pr 5:1-14 

1) In a moment’s passion, lives are destroyed (AIDS, unwanted pregnancies) 

2) Marriages and families are ruined b. Young people like Joseph, Moses, and Daniel should inspire us to make the right choices – cf. Gen 39:7-9; He 11:24-25; Dan 1:8 

3. Then others allow their souls to be sold for some convenient false doctrine 

Of which we need to beware – Col 2:8,18 

For the devil is a master at this – 2Co 11:13-15 

Through our own lack of Bible study, we can lose the most valuable thing we have! – cf. Hos 4:6 

4. Finally, many will trade their souls through simple laziness! 

They will not use the opportunities the Lord has given them – cf. Mt 25:24-30 

b. They fail to apply the diligence necessary to grow spiritually – cf. 2Pe 1:5-11

Until Next Time,

Hoss

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Preaching

In his chapter on preaching Evangelist Junior Hill says of some preachers, “they have unwittingly distanced themselves from anything that remotely resembles Bible Christianity. Driven by an insatiable hunger for numerical success they have down-played repentance, cast aspersions upon faithfulness and commitment, and deliberately obscured the clear and authentic demands of the cross.” (Junior Hill, Out Of Season, page 30)

I had the terribly sad experience of sitting under the teaching of a ‘pastor’ for over three months and not one time did I hear a call to repent. Neither did I hear words of Jesus Christ dying on a cross for the sins of mankind. There no mention of the death, burial, or resurrection. The word sin did not leave the preacher’s lips.

The focus was on practical instruction to behave better in morality. The sin problem is left unresolved.

‘Invitations’ were relegated to ‘grab someone you trust’ after the service. Attendees are instructed to seek out someone other than the ‘pastor.’

Jesus is spoken of in this verse, And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (‭John‬ ‭12‬:‭32‬ NASB)

Pastor, let’s keep the main thing the main thing.

Until next time,

Hoss

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