Do We Really Care?

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By Brian Sharpe

Does eternity matter? Do we really care? I would think that we would say yes to both of these questions. However, the problem is that most of us care about image or offensiveness more than we care about others and their eternity.

Now I’m confessing to being a part of the problem. A couple weeks ago I preached on being peacemakers in our world. I also talked about how we need to just invite people to things like the men’s dinner. Well, last Saturday I was working in my backyard in my shed. My neighbor was in his backyard with his new wife. I’ve talked to my neighbor on several occasions. I knew men’s dinner was that night and I was trying to figure out how to bring it up. I asked my neighbor if he needed help, since he and his wife were taking down a tree. He said they had it. I continued to work in my backyard. When I was done my neighbor was still cutting up the tree. I didn’t end up inviting him to the men’s dinner. I felt bad. I didn’t have the opportunity. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Now I’m not saying we should be abrupt and forceful in most cases. But I’m also not saying we should wait until “the right time.” I need to be bolder. I need to care more about the people around me. I keep hearing that my actions show my belief. Can you tell I care about the people around me based on how I’m living? This makes me think of a song that came out several years ago by Brandon Heath. I need to see people as God sees them. I need to have the love for others that God has for them. I need to be a peacemaker. This is what God is laying on my heart. I pray that God will challenge you with it as well.

“Give Me Your Eyes”
By Brandon Heath

Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Chorus:
Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the brokenhearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what’s underneath
There’s a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He’s out of work
He’s buying time
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Chorus

I’ve been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just moving past me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way You see the people all along

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Relationship

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By Chris Pace

Working with the youth group has taught me a vital bit of information: relationship is key! Everything relating to God has to do, in one way or another, with having a relationship with God. Everything! 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.” This makes sense because faith is the voice of love and hope is the accent of love. Love is the foundation of everything and relationship is the face of love. It is why the Creator created us; it is why the Israelites went through so many good and bad times; it is why Christ chose a group of men to join Him in His ministry; it is why Jesus taught the disciples what He did; it is why the Savior died on the tree; it’s why Jesus rose again; it is why Christ will come again.

God’s Word is His story about how He created us to have a relationship with Him, but we walked away. He made a temporary fix for being in a relationship with Him until the timing was perfect. Then He solved the problem that kept us from being together permanently, once and for all. That’s love! Love for His people. He longs to be with us again. Sounds like the God of relationships (a.k.a. love), to me.

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Be a Worship Leader

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By Nate Champneys

There are a lot of “Christianese” words that get thrown around within the Church. Some of these words are very frustrating because the true meanings and the normal definitions of these words are two different things or are, at minimum, incomplete. Take the word “worship” for example. We use this word a lot in the context of group singing during our services, and so the word “worship” has almost become synonymous with “corporate singing.” We know, however, that worship is a blanket term referring to “declaring worth” of something or someone, and we use it in the context of declaring worth to God. We also know that this is more than singing on a Sunday morning; it includes every aspect of our lives.

A word that has become commonplace in our church culture is the term, “Worship Leader.” We generally use this term to refer to the person on stage on Sunday morning who is in charge. The longer I have been a staff worship leader though, the more this term makes me uneasy. I lead week after week after week, but I have come to realize that I don’t have nearly as much power to lead people as someone sitting in the front row of the seats (or the back row for that matter). What I mean is that I think people are more influenced by other people in the congregation than they are by the people on the platform. This has led me to ask the question, “Who is actually leading?” Many Sundays I’ve watched from the platform as we as the “leaders” are very expressive in our praise while people in the seats are not. I have also watched a single person in the congregation who stands and raises their hands be the first of a wave moving through the congregation.

I have come to realize that everyone is a leader and a follower at the same time. As human beings it is our nature to look around at what everyone else is doing and follow suit, while at the same time everyone is looking at you as well. I once was leading morning worship (there’s that term again), and watched a woman who was new to the congregation sitting a few rows back with her eyes closed, and her hands raised. Throughout the whole song set, she was very expressive. This was in a church that was from the Dutch Reformed background and was typically not very “open” in expression of worship. This Sunday, however, was different. I watched as many people through the service seemed to become more expressive. I went up to her afterword and said, “Thank you for leading worship this morning.” I told her that I knew she hadn’t been doing it for a thank you, but for the praise and glory of God. Yet when people in the congregation express praise to God, it is contagious.

What you do affects others. Period. I want to give you a charge: be a worship leader. You don’t have to be up on the platform to lead people. Do you want to bring God glory? Do you want to point people to Him? It’s really simple. Recognize that people are following you. I’m not talking about putting on a show for others. I am talking about authentic worship with the understanding that people are going to follow you either way. Are you going to lead them closer to Jesus, or farther away?

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Independence Day Thoughts

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By Dan Amos

The Elder Board is taking time at each meeting to study the Statement of Faith, and this month we looked at Article Two, The Bible. This discussion, current events, and the Independence Day holiday led me to think about one of my heroes. John Adams has been a favorite of mine ever since I saw the movie 1776 for the first time. I love Adams’s passion for liberty, his persuasive arguments, and his absolute belief that God did create us all equally. He described himself as “obnoxious and disliked,” but that did not dissuade him from leading the charge to independence and a constitutional republic.

John Adams’s thoughts on government were instrumental in drafting state constitutions and influential in forming the US Constitution. The latter document has served us well for more than 220 years, but is now, more than ever in my lifetime, under constant attack, especially regarding the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments.

I write this not to start a political debate but to note that we have always had documents that guide us in life. As those documents put bounds on acceptable behavior, they come under attack and revision. Often they lose their authority and effectiveness when they are revised.

Of primary concern to us as Christians is the primacy and authority of the Bible. Article Two of the Statement of Faith declares:

We believe that God has spoken in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, through the words of human authors. As the verbally inspired Word of God, the Bible is without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for salvation, and the ultimate authority by which every realm of human knowledge and endeavor should be judged. Therefore, it is to be believed in all that it teaches, obeyed in all that it requires, and trusted in all that it promises.

In sin we rebel against God and reject His Word, but in submission to Him we accept the Bible in its entirety. There have always been and will always be throughout this age those who will try to change the Bible. Even though many of the men who worked on the Constitution were Christians and therefore filled with the Holy Spirit, this doesn’t make the Constitution divinely inspired. The Bible, though, is divinely inspired. It has an unparalleled pedigree which one would expect the Almighty Creator to use to communicate His plan for the redemption of His people to Him. Men may make changes, but they have no authority and no power for salvation. Only His Word remains true.

As we celebrate our independence and the blessings of being an American, my hope is not in our nation. The nation will pass away, but the promises of God and His kingdom are eternal.

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