May 2,2015Articles Wanted
Ever thought about submitting an article to be published in The Ventura Life Link or on our Webpage? That’s great and we’d like to hear about your ideas. Please note the following guidelines before writing your article:
Submit articles and stories that edify your Christian brothers and sisters. All articles and stories should be written from a Biblical perspective and inform or challenge the reader. Articles about ministry activities, exploring theological themes from a biblical, historical, or application-based perspective and original inspirational stories about Christian struggles and triumph are always welcome.
Articles should speak to current issues that are relevant to today’s Christians.
When quoting material, reference the sources (books, articles, etc.) and include a footnote with full reference.
Identify the Bible version(s) you use, and include this information in the text.
Articles submitted for the “Life Link” should be 650 words or less and 1600 words or less for the Website.
Documents should be submitted via email or flash drive in MS Word or plain text format.
Label all photos submitted with your article by identifying who, what, when, where. (Website only)
When checking over your piece, make sure it includes:
•an opening that will grab the reader
•active verbs, rather than "be" (is, was, were, etc.) or passive verbs
•description that is concrete rather than abstract, specific rather than general
•true examples and anecdotes
•simple, current language in a conversational tone
•unpredictable details and fresh insights
•a strong spiritual message
Upon receipt of your submission, your article will be peer reviewed by at least two people. Reviewers will provide feedback on each article before publication. This process is in place to ensure articles show sound biblical principles and meet the goals as stated above. The Elders are available to speak with you regarding these guidelines before or after you prepare your article.
Tips for successful articles:
Focus on a specific topic. Write so the information can be easily read and understood, Flowing from an introduction to the body then conclusion.
If you are writing a Story
Remember a series of events doesn't make a story. A story has three basic elements:
1 a beginning, which provides factual details such as who, where, when;
2 a conflict or crisis, which builds suspense;
3 a resolution (physical or mental), which shows character growth.
If you are writing someone else’s story, interview them thoroughly
Tape the interview if you can that way you are not relying on your memory. During the interview, probe for details that will add life and color to your story. Interviews via e-mail or social media will not provide you (the writer) with the full impact of the events and the ultimate story may lack some flavor.
Focus on the best bits
Don't try to tell it all. Pick bits that are most relevant and develop those to the fullest.
Show, don't tell
it’s all about the story. Appeal to the five senses through strong descriptive writing that offers examples, anecdotes and specific stories.
Active voice and Verb usage
Stay away from using the passive voice in your sentences (Instead of “The story was presented”—“Sam presented this story”). With his in mind, use active verbs and refrain from repeatedly using being verbs (are, there are, am, is).
Do not write with running quotes. A quote should be short and colorful, and should not include information you could paraphrase or convey in some other way.
October 30,2014The First Amendment and Christ’s Church
Two weeks ago an openly gay female mayor of Houston Texas subpoenaed the sermons and notes of 17 Christian ministers. Her claim was that the preachers were using the pulpit as a political platform. The preachers were teaching from the bible. Her overt intent is to financially destroy the ministry and suppress the Word.
For the last 5 years we have heard about our personal impact on, what real scientists, determine to be natural and cyclic global warming. Say, “normal global warming”, in a group and stand by for the personal attacks.
For the past few years our national leaders have been exposing that we should learn to coexist with Muslims and at the same time, just this week, restricted a Christian high school coach from praying with his willing players before any football game.
All of this brings to mind a book that I read 10 years ago called the “Thought Police”. A young, openly gay female, who was being oppressed, wrote it. Surprisingly, she was not being silenced by conservatives, but rather by other liberals. Her crime; she did not fall into lock step with their agenda. Her concern was that even her freedom of speech was under attack due to her lack of social and political conformity.
In the words of Solomon, “there is nothing new under the sun”. Persecution and ungodly control have been around since the first generation of man. Adam and Eve had the perfect existence yet there was a desire to want more than our God allowed. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5) The tree of Knowledge was not the great option that Satan had claimed it to be.
We all have choices to make concerning our personal and corporate walk with God. The world tells us that we are odd and outdated. Thank you world. We live for the Lord. “ But he continued” (Christ), “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (Jn 8:23-24)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. (Rom 12:2)
The seven churches illustrated in the New Testament had certain qualities. They were both perfect and imperfect. We are parts of those churches in how we follow and serve the Lord, each other, and the lost. Sound scripture and prayer is our best guide to understanding the type of church approved by God. Suspending (one jot or tiddle) scripture for the purpose of fitting into what the World says we should be, is diametrically opposed to the pattern that Christ instructed and counseled his disciples to teach. If we teach less, how can we be His pleasing servants. When we are tempted to be less in order to find self-edification, remember what Satan told Eve. I worry more about the compromise from within the Body of Christ then I do from the continued outside attacks.
We are fortunate to live in a country that has a right to free speech. Although it is constantly challenged, I thank God that we are more free than most to teach his will. Thank you world for confirming that we are not of you when you try to silence His Word. I will stand arm in arm with my brothers and sisters to defend from failure from within his body. I have faith that you will as well.
With His love,
As most of you know, the Ventura Church of Christ has been without an eldership for several years. With God’s guidance we have begun a process for selection of Elders to shepherd this congregation. The Elder selection process began this past Sunday, September 7 with an overview of the process. Letters outlining the process and nomination forms were also mailed out to each member who’s address is on file. The selection process is designed to allow all of the church family to be involved in the selection of their Elders. It also prompts introspection by those who are nominated during this process. Please spend time in prayer asking God for guidance and to be with those men who are called out to serve our church family.
Between now and October 12th I encourage each and every member to seek out spiritual leaders from among our congregation. We should seek men following the examples and characteristics in the following passages;
He is relational- Acts 20:28, He will teach the Word to the Flock- 1Timothy 3:5, He is willing and eager to be an example - 1 Peter 5:1-4, He will encourage the Flock - Titus 1:9-10, He is a servant- Matthew 20:25-28, He will refute falsehood - Titus 1:9-10, He will guard the Flock- Acts 20:28, He will pray for the Flock- James 5:14, He will watch over the Flock- Acts 20:28, He will anoint the sick- James 5:14, He will feed the Flock- Acts 20:28, He will serve the Flock -1 Peter 5:1-5, He will equip the Flock for, ministry- Ephesians 4:10-12, He will lead the Flock -1 Peter 5:1-5, He will care for the Flock- 1 Timothy 3:5, He will be an example to the Flock -1 Peter 5:1-5, He will direct the affairs of the Flock- 1 Timothy 3:5, He will keep watch over the Flock- Hebrews 13:17, He will preach the Word to the Flock-1 Timothy 3:5.
Each of us should personally talk to the men that we feel are potential Shepherds and see if they desire the position. After which fill out an Elder nomination form and give it to one of the search committee or drop it in the box in the lobby. It is very important that you nominate every person you wish to be considered - even if you know that others will be nominating a particular individual. Please do not assume that even if someone has previously declined a nomination to serve as an Elder that he would do so again. The deadline for turning in nomination is 6:00 p.m., October 12th.
Feel free to address all questions or concerns about the process to any of the committee members. We earnestly desire your prayers to ask God's blessings on us all in this process.
In his service, Keith
When I was in the Navy there was a lot of training. First they trained me how to walk, talk, march and think military. We then moved on to basic, advanced electronics as well as aircraft maintenance. Later they trained me how to be a leader. I think I attended at least one safety training a week for the entire 20 years I was in the service. I thought the training would never stop. And it didn’t. Not until after I retired. Back then we even had an annual training session called Ethics. Fast forward, 2005 the great state of California enacted a law requiring “City Officials” to take 2 hours of ethics training every 2 years (AB 1234). So ethics training must be important right? At least the Navy and the good people of California think so. What did I learn during these ethics trainings? I learned fighting is bad, stealing is bad, bribery is bad, giving contracts to my relatives instead of the lowest bidder is bad, lying is bad, and using public funds for personal gain is bad. By Bad I mean big fines and or jail time.
Now you may ask why am I going on about training and Ethics. First off, Ecclesiastes 7:12 says “For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money. And the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” And Proverbs 4:10-13 ends with “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; Guard it well, for it is your life.” As we see in Proverbs and elsewhere in the Bible, there is a lot of talk about training (instruction, learning and knowledge are some of the words used). With just a quick search, I came across 58 verses dealing with training. So we can conclude it is important for us to study and train in the knowledge of the truth. Bible Classes, midweek study, men’s and women’s bible studies are all important. Well more than just important, according to these passages. It will preserve our life. Our spiritual life that is.
Secondly, ethics training is important. For example, look at the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) and then at Matthew 5:1-7:6. Here are some examples of God’s Ethics. God lays out how we are to treat other people. In most cases it goes well beyond what my formal Navy and mandatory state training would have me do. My point on Ethics is, if you strive to live a Godly life you are living an Ethical life. Is training important? Lets look at Acts 8:31. The Ethiopian answers Philip with “How can I (understand) unless someone explains it to me?” Training is not just important. It is vital to our salvation. We need to teach and be taught about how to live a Godly life. We need to train our children in “The Way”. Train, Train, Train. Unlike my Navy training that stopped when I retired, our training in “The Way” should never stop. And when we get a little older and more knowledgeable (referred to as wisdom in the scriptures) we should become teachers. I know the first thing that comes to mind when I mention teaching is standing in front of a classroom. And yes that is important. As a matter of fact we are in need of classroom teachers right now. But I understand that not everyone can stand in front of a group of people and teach. I think teaching about God’s plan of salvation one on one is just as important if not more important than teaching in the classroom. God desires us to talk to our friends about Jesus and the plan of salvation. He desires us to teach by example, by living a life worthy of the Lord. (Philippians 1:27, Colossians 1:10, Ephesians 4:1-16)
I will leave you with one last thought. When is it time to retire from spiritual training? Acts 5:42 says “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah”. The training never ends. We offer Sunday morning bible classes at 9:45am before our worship service. We have a midweek study on Wednesdays at 7pm. We also have a Men’s bible study on Thursday. There are Woman’s devotionals and youth devotionals monthly. If none of these fit your needs let me know and we will do our best to find a study that does fit your needs.
In his service, Keith
July 31, 2014
On a Sinking Ship
Recently it has come to my attention that I take our fellowship for granted. I don’t mean that I take Ventura CoC for granted; instead, I mean that I take our large church body for granted. It is quite easy to forget that we need the spiritual fellowship and uplifting courage that only our family can provide. Instead of looking toward the redeemed body of Christ for our fulfillment and joy we distract ourselves with the ephemeral lights of this world that so easily turn our eyes away from Christ.
Recently, a person more faithful than I took a leap of grace and pleaded for help from their family. That family has often communicated love, forgiveness and accountability to this person and it was about time someone called upon those qualities in their hour of need. All throughout scripture we see and hear about people who when left with nothing call upon the one community, the source that has the healing and redemption they so desperately need.
When was the last time you desperately needed the healing that only the body of Christ can offer? When was the last time you turned to God in an hour of absolute need, life or death? Imagine standing on a sinking ship and feeling the cold water rise around your feet. Feel the inevitable approach of the rushing ocean as you realize the firm footing, you had only minutes before depended on, is sinking from beneath you. Finally someone tosses a rope to your waving arms and as your head dips below the tumultuous waves your hands clasp around a life line. As you pull desperately on the rope, the one hope you have at survival, it holds firm and true. It seems impossible; improbable that something in this world could be so strong when everything around you seems so frail and weak. The rope seems to be anchored in something more solid than the ground you previously depended on. As you weakly pull yourself along the line a hand reaches for yours, and as strength leaves you; his strength saves you. This is our need of one another; this is our need of the Christ our Messiah. As this world crumbles and falls around us, we have each other to depend upon for strength and support. When one of us fails and loses sight of the rope, our one life line to salvation, we can trust that someone will help and pull that person back to the anchor of our hope and redemption. When all else fails and our strength finally gives out, we have Jesus to rely on and save us from our sinking ship.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, or the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and you coming in from this tie forth and forevermore.
July 3, 2014
Just a Little Note
The art of note writing is dying out. Really, when was the last time you sent a little personal note to someone? Now think back to the last time someone wrote you a note. Not a text, email or hallmark card
but a nice note composed just for you. Even the most gruff and hardened ones of us are touched by a
personal note. 2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us “(God) comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those
in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” Just as a lighthouse is a beacon
of hope to a sailor in a storm, a couple of well-placed words of encouragement can be that light in the
darkness of despair. Now there are no rules about of how long or short, funny or not, they just need to
come from your heart. I personally like to use a scripture or two, but it is not necessary. The important
thing is that you are reaching out and touching someone who is in need of encouragement or comfort. If
I may be so bold as to recommend that once a week, each of us pick up a pen and jot a little note to
someone you know is hurting, struggling or just had a bad week. Not sure who to send a note to? Might I
suggest you look at the prayer request in the weekly bulletin or in the e-prayer list Linda puts out each
week as a start. Still not sure what to say? Just say what is on your heart.
I will leave you with some examples of encouraging of notes recently sent to friends.
I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you. I want to encourage you to lean on the Lord. We are told in 1st Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” Ralph, God does care about you and I pray that the Lord will touch you and grant you the peace you are looking for.
Often at times like these I do not know what to say. It is not that I do not understand what you are going through. It is because I do understand what you are going through that I am at a loss of what to say. During trying times I reflect on Gods plan for me. Not that I come even close to knowing what His plan is for me. None of us knows what He has planned for us. Though I do know that he loves us. The Bible says that God loved us (the world) so much that he gave us his only son. We are told He knows how many hairs we have on our head. If He knows something silly like how many hairs are on our heads then it stands to reason, He knows each and every one of our fears, our joys, and our sorrows. With that knowledge, when things are crazy and stressful, I take comfort in knowing that all things work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Lisa, God loves you and He knows your current suffering and understands your desires. As a matter of fact He knows what you need before you ask Him. There are a lot of times we do not understand the why. As a matter of fact we will never know the reason behind most of life’s WHY moments, but we can always trust in God. He is faithful even when we are not and His love is never ending. Be sure to lean on God and not take this on alone. Please and let us know if there is anything we can do for you.
(John 3:16, Matthew 10:30, Romans 8:28, Matthew 6:8)
May 29, 2014
The Lost Generation
article by Jack Wilkie,
Focus Press, Feb., 2014
Arguably the biggest issue facing the church among people my age (the “millennial” generation) is, well, the church. Churches have noticed the numbers and the fact that it really seems that they won’t last more than another generation or two due to the dismal number of millennials in the pews. So, once a church acknowledges the problem, their next step is to decide what they’re going to do about it. Three prominent methods stand out.
First, most congregations in the church decide to stand put. We have the Truth, after all, and that should be enough to influence people to stay, right? Numbers don’t lie, though, and if we don’t change something and just continue on the same plan of action, it’s going to be a matter of time before we’re reduced to nothing, completely irrelevant. Of course that very sentence alone is enough to scare many churches. We can’t change, we have the Gospel and doctrine and if we change we run the risk of not being God’s church anymore, or so some might say. Looking for flaws in our methods, examining ourselves a little bit more closely by the Book, and finding ways to relate better to the culture aren’t wrong as long as we stay Biblical, though. One of the biggest factors in the last church boom was the development of the Jule Miller filmstrips. They represented innovation without compromise, something that’s been sorely missing for decades now, and something we can’t afford to do without any longer.
Second, a large number of congregations choose to follow the “Field of Dreams” model. This idea of church growth is built on the “if you build it, they will come” concept. Megachurches have had success with it, and so the temptation is there for churches to try to address our shortcomings in numbers by offering anything and everything people might want. You want a hip coffee shop as part of your church experience? Babbysitting for your children (disguised as “age relevant” ministry) during class and worship? An all-encompassing program for your niche demographic (youth, singles, young families, middle aged, senior, etc.)? For denominations and community churches it means turning worship into a rock concert with light shows and high energy bands, and sadly our congregations aren’t far behind in some cases. What millennials want, though, is a true connection that provides a sense of community. They can see how hollow and meaningless all the fanfare around these types of churches really is. So, they go looking for the opposite.
Third, in response to the second type of congregation, is the idea of missional churches. This is something that the denominations have been developing for a number of years, and it’s also something that millennial church leaders are pushing for today. A byproduct of the emergent movement, the idea here is to focus less on church and more on the love of God. Think of all the “I hate religion but love Jesus” material that’s come out in the last few years. Because people my age view religion as stuffy and heartless, they’ve revolted against the first two types of churches by gravitating to this third type, where the focus is on serving the people around us and having “conversations” about Jesus and spirituality. Generally speaking, the focus is not on doctrine. The ability to serve and reach out to the community alongside like-minded people allows folks to feel a sense belonging and activity. While those are good things, the church should be about the work (and teachings) of Christ and not building ourselves up on our own works.
In attempting to summarize the three different styles of church that have left a whole generation so disaffected, it seems the problem is a matter of direction. The first type of church, focused mainly on tradition and “how we’ve always done it,” is caught looking backward. The second type of church looks inward, trying to figure out all the ways they can trap people once they come in the doors by providing them with the ultimate religious social club experience. The third type looks outward, finding ways to serve the community and downplay people’s dislike of religion by good deeds. The problem is that none of these methods looks upward. God is just a minor part of the equation, when His love for us and our dependence on His grace is all church should ever be about. Young people want something that’s real, and who can blame them? Until God is made the center of the church, though, we have no ability to give people that which is real.
April 24, 2014
For 20 years I worked on cars. People would come in for tune-ups or repairs. Some folks
would bring their cars in like clockwork for maintenance, while others I would not often see
unless something was falling apart. The cars that came in for regular maintenance usually
just got an adjustment here and there, an oil change, or top off vital fluids. While the ones
that neglected their cars would sometimes take hours of diagnostics and repairs.
When I think of these two types of people, I like to think of myself as the former. Or am I? Do I do the spiritual maintenance that I need to stay in tune with God? Do I read the owner’s manual (Bible) and run a self-diagnostic check so that I can make the adjustments I need? Unfortunately, sometimes it seems it’s not until something is falling apart that I do the spiritual maintenance I have been neglecting.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course you fail the test?
II Corinthians 13:5
March 27, 2014
Hindsight 20/20 – Foresight Hard
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:13-17
It's easy to get caught up into feeling superior to previous generations. When we watch movies based on historical themes of war or social struggles, we always identify with the good guys. It's a classic Hollywood plot line : the masses of people in an era gone by unjustly create pain and hardship on the poor or otherwise disenfranchised. The few heroes of the movie struggle against the cold hearted masses and overwhelming odds stacked against them.
We always identify ourselves with the good guys of a movie like that, despite the fact that the the good guys are usually the few and exceptional people, and everyone else is just going along with the unjust ways of that era. It's easy and natural to identify with the “good” side in a movie, but it must have been hard in real life to actually be on the good side when the events were really happening. If it were not, why were overwhelming number of people that lived during the era on the “bad” side. The truth is, social, peer, and family pressures make it extremely difficult to break away from the pack. Jesus calls us not to go along with the masses, but to seek the truth no matter how hard or unpopular that might be. Surprisingly, this got Jesus in trouble with the religious leaders of his day much more often
than with the Roman occupiers. It would have been easy and popular to rail against the Romans, but unpopular and unwelcome to point out flaws and errors in the ways people had been brought up. In Matt 23:30, Jesus confronts the scribes and Pharisees directly on this point saying, “You say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in the shedding the blood of the prophets.' “. How right on the mark Jesus was! Not only would they have participated in the shedding of the prophet's blood if they had lived in those days, they went on to repeat history shortly thereafter by crucifying Jesus himself, the greatest prophet, savior of the world, and Son of God. I can speculate what I might have done if I had lived in some of the times and eras of days gone by, but it would all be just an exercise in “what-ifs”. What really matters is what I and we do in the era we live in, and that God has put us in. Jesus brought down Samaritan/Jewish barriers. Are there still socioeconomic barriers in our society and in our world that we don't cross, but that Jesus would if he were here? Jesus pointed out traditions embedded deeply into the fabric of their culture that had to go. Are there traditions in our culture that Jesus would say have to go? Jesus pointed out scriptures misunderstood and misrepresented so that the original intent was forgotten or swept over. Are we always willing to read the scriptures with an open heart and an open mind?
We can hope we would have been on the right side of history, if we had lived in days gone by. We can actually do something, however, about the era we do live in. We can commit ourselves to do whatever we can, no matter how easy or how hard, to follow the path God sets before us.
February 27, 2014
I have read 2 books this week that have caused me to think on my church background, the church I wor- ship with and am a part of, and my interaction with other Christians. This also coincides with Greg’s les- son this past Sunday evening on “What is our Profession?”
The first book was recommended by Carolyn Tabor, titled Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank. This book chronicles Mr. Shank’s journey from being a non Bible reading Baptist to becoming a Bible reading, Bible believing member of the church of Christ. He met and studied with a Christian man he met at his work place and he eventually came to a place that we here all feel comfortable with regarding baptism, instrumental music, the necessity of elders, and regarding the Bible being the only book we need to un- derstand the truth about our salvation.
What I was left with after reading this book though was a clearer understanding of what the church of Christ is. I think most of us associate the church with the group we worship with and while that is not necessarily bad, I do not think it is always accurate.
The church of Christ as established in the New Testament is a church built by Christ and he is the head. (Eph 5:23) To say we have no central authority is not true. Jesus is that authority so we are not left to the whims of the preacher or elders. I would also submit to you that not all churches that call themselves the Church of Christ are in fact a church of Christ as they have not submitted to Christ’s leadership or au- thority. (Matt 7:21-23) We each must examine our own lives to see if we have submitted to Jesus’ head- ship, are actively growing as disciples of His, AND are actively working at making disciples in His name.
The 2nd book is titled What Must the church of Christ Do to be Saved? By Leroy Garrett, and while his theme is a radical one I do agree with some of what he says. I find as Christians we often are not Christ like in our relationships with others who think of themselves as Christians. We conclude that we cannot fellowship with them because they attend a Christian Church or Community Church. And I suppose if one is weak in their faith this could be a good idea, but we see in scripture that Jesus met with Zacchae- us, Nicodemus, the rich young ruler, and others. We see the church in Corinth fighting among them- selves as Paul called them to straighten up and be less self-serving and more united in their work.
So how do I know that I am a member of Christ’s church? We see in Acts 2 those added to the church repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. But this is only the be- ginning! We must love God, and this we find easy, but we must also love our neighbor and those who hate us. (Matt 5) And we accept this but as we can avoid our neighbors and those who hate us, it really is no big deal, but what about those in the middle? What about those who believe they are Christians and have a band in their worship? Are we also to love them? YES! By fellowshipping or interacting with them does this mean we must have a band in our worship? NO! It is not up to me to judge these people on their salvation. I can only study and judge myself.
When I sent my kids to public school was I exposing them to bad influences? Absolutely. Did this mean I would be accepting of this behavior in my home? Absolutely not. We taught our kids the Christ like way to be and this was done by us lovingly teaching and encouraging and pushing them in the right direction. But none of this would happen if we refused to associate with our kids.
It is the same with the church. We must associate with the world and we must be adults in our spiritual walk so we can bring along those who are lost or are babes in Christ.
I have already used too much space here but I cherish any thoughts or conversation any of you would like to have regarding this topic. I think the lost are looking for answers and they will get them from someone. If we want them to receive them from Jesus we must be His disciples, acting as He would if He were living our life. To do this we must sometimes get outside of where we are comfortable.
January 30, 2014
We just wrapped up our class on worship. I know a lot of you could not attend the class for one reason or another so I thought I would offer the highlights here:
The English word “worship” comes from the Anglo-Saxon wyrthscipe. The root word refers to being worthy. The suffix “ship” refers to a state or quality. The English word originally referred worthiness. There are primarily two words that are translated as worship. The first is Aboda (Hebrew) and latreia (Greek) these words refer to the work performed in the temple as seen in Romans 12:1. The other word is Shachac (Hebrew) and proskyneo (Greek)they are a posture of submission as seen in Matthew 2:11. We also looked at many scriptures and concluded that both the Old Testament and New Testament show us our relationship with God involves our heart, mind, soul, and strength. It involves all that we are.
During the Patriarchal age worship was performed by the head of the family. No one needed a priest and there were not many commands about the how or where of worship. What is clear is God demanded exclusive worship, 100% allegiance. That is a good lesson for us. We cannot let money, self-consciousness, busyness or anything else get in the way. Worship is to be our highest priority. 100% allegiance.
During the Mosical age God specified exactly; when sacrifices were to be made, how they were to be made, where they were to be made, and who was supposed to make them. As a matter of fact there were 613 Mitzvot (Commandments) All these commands were to keep the Jews focused on GOD. The big take away from the time of the law for us is that for worship to be acceptable to God, the worshipers must have obedient lives.
Next we looked at worship in the first century. "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus replied, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem" John 4:20-21. In other words, Jesus said location will not be important. Worship will not be associated with any particular spot. This meant worship was to be dramatically different from what the Jews knew. The ministry of worship has been given to all the people not just the priests. In Acts we see they believed, they were repentant, they were baptized they devoted themselves to being taught, sharing with one another, breaking of bread and prayer. We also looked at Mat. 18:20,Heb. 10:25, 1 Cor. 14:26 and 40, Col. 3:16, 2 Tim. 4:2-4 as well as other scriptures and concluded that we are to gather together on the first day of the week to worship. When we worship we are to, Edify, Build up, Strengthen, Preach, Teach, Admonish, Sing, Partake of the Lord’s supper, Pray, Read Scripture, Take up the Collection and all this is to be done Orderly. This is a summary description, not a formula. We do not have a formula.
The big take away from the classes is that worship is to be personal. Everything you do to show God has worth, is your worship to him. You are to use your gifts to worship God every day not just one hour on Sunday. You are to worship with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. There is a corporate worship that happens on Sunday. When we meet on Sunday it is not for us. It is for God. To worship God. It has to be God-centered, Intelligible, Seeker-sensible, Unselfish, Orderly, and Edifying and it needs to be offered up by people who have obedient lives. Notice I said obedient lives and not perfect lives. No one is perfect but if we are doing everything in our power to follow God’s will for us then we are living an obedient life.
Finally we looked at our worship here in Ventura and asked, does it glorify God? Does it build up the body of Christ? Does it help us be what God wants us to be in the world? Does it have practical results in our lives?
November 27, 2013
In Praise of Bible Classes
Several years ago, I was asked to coordinate the adult Bible class program. Although I felt there were many reasons why I didn’t have time to take on that responsibility, I refused to say “no.” I am thankful that I didn’t.
During this Thanksgiving season, we give thanks for our friends, family, and all that we have received. I am very thankful for my part in the adult Bible class program in Ventura and also for the support received from the teachers and those attending classes.
Here in Ventura, we are blessed with several who are willing to teach the adult Bible class on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday evenings. We encourage those attending to participate in the classes and share their thoughts as it pertains to our living for Christ.
The teachers in the adult classes, as well as classes from toddlers to young adults, are to be praised for their hard work and preparation for both Sunday morning and Wednesday evening classes. I would think that all who are called to teach are familiar with James 3:1: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly.” Teachers know the importance of preparation and being able to present their lessons in such a manner as to uplift all who are in attendance. This helps them to better understand the scriptures and how they apply to us. Why Do We Have Adult Bible Classes Here in Ventura?
Bible classes draw us nearer to God — “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8). Which of us doesn’t want to be closer to God in thought and deed? As we study His word, His will in our lives becomes clearer. It’s impossible to sing “Draw me nearer, precious Lord” without being impressed with the need to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. Bible classes help us do just that!
“I want to know Him, and the power of His resurrection.” (Phil. 3:10). Don’t we all? Bible classes expand our horizons — We may consider some passages of Scripture to be entirely irrelevant to our lives and situations today. However, in Bible classes we are able to find where the power of God’s word has an application to of all our lives…even in today’s world. Paul writes to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16- 17).
Bible classes provide essential nourishment — We read: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4). We cannot make it as a Christian in this world without being, “nourished in the words of faith.” (1 Tim. 4:6). Many physically healthy people are starving spiritually. If we could see their souls the way we see their physical bodies, we would recoil in horror at the sight. Bible classes are one way of making sure our spiritual hunger is satiated. Many of us wouldn’t think of missing a meal, but many a Christian still believes it is fine to miss a Bible study. If Jesus couldn’t do without the word of God, how do we think we can?
Bible Classes edify and unite the church —The Psalmist wrote: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1). Our presence in Bible class is important; not just because of our own soul’s welfare, but also because we are part of the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhort one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). We cannot be edified spiritually and lift each other up without being in each others’ presence on a regular basis. It is said that too many churches are made up of strangers who show little or no interest in the lives of others. Bible classes are a method of getting to know the hurts and rejoicings of our brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s what real Christian unity is all about.
We often say to someone who has not been present for the Sunday morning worship service that we have missed them. If you haven’t been attending the Sunday morning or Wednesday night Bible classes, you are also missed. All are encouraged to be a part of the study of God’s word in order to encourage and lift each other up in spirit. Also, it would be a great encouragement to the teachers who spend long hours in preparation for the classes.
Be thankful and praise all of the Bible classes and teachers here at Ventura!
Yours in Christ,