At a Fortune 500 corporation, many interests and demands consume the company’s time and resources. How does an executive choose what opportunities to prioritize? The same is true for Christian parents. Tremendous resources exist for discipling kids: devotionals, catechisms, and guides for family worship. Parents are paralyzed when confronted with all the good options. Where do we start?
Hear me when I say this: start by going to church. Yes, I encourage you to pray with your kids. Read the Bible as a family. Attempt to have family worship. Use a catechism. These are all excellent disciplines. But if you can only choose one discipline, go to church. Make attending corporate worship the top priority for your family. There’s nothing more positive you can do for your children than to attend corporate worship at your church every week.
Corporate Worship Sets the Tone for LifeA parent in our church once made a statement that caught me off guard: “Corporate worship is crucial to my family. It’s the center of our family’s life.” I know this family. They do family worship as well, and they read devotions, but this father said corporate worship is the single biggest priority in his family’s life. Why?
If you can only choose one discipline, go to church. Make attending corporate worship the top priority for your family.
This dad’s mentality is consistent with how Scripture prioritizes corporate worship. God is the center of our lives. In corporate worship, we make this clear. We receive God’s grace through Word, sacrament, and prayer. We respond to God’s grace with praise, thanksgiving, and love. We fellowship with him under his Word and by his grace. We serve, worship, and flourish out of that communion. In these ways, corporate worship is the whole Christian life in distilled and concentrated form.
God commands his people to meet for worship weekly (Deut. 5:12; Heb. 10:25). It’s not optional or a matter of preference, and this is God’s mercy toward us. God knows how badly we need the benefits of meeting together. God doesn’t need our worship. We, on the other hand, desperately need corporate worship to center and order our lives around the Lord.
It’s Hard to Get to Church. That’s the Point.Nothing can prepare you for the labor that is getting small children out the door to church on a Sunday morning. I don’t know if it’s spiritual warfare or whiplash from the weekend, but dressing small kids and loading them into the car is a grind. Even when your kids are teenagers, there are days they seem to resist just about anything you suggest. Getting to church is hard. But that’s part of the value of attending church every Sunday. It sets the tone for the Christian’s daily struggle to live in personal relationship with Christ.
Daily fellowship with and service to the Lord involve a purposeful, deliberate approach. Getting up in the morning to pray and read Scripture isn’t easy. Praising God in times of pain and sorrow can be a struggle. Entering conflict, repenting, and engaging in reconciliation requires effort, purpose, and patience. But however difficult these endeavors are, we find life and peace as a result. The intentional effort we make to attend corporate worship each week reinforces for our kids the patterns of intentionality and endurance necessary for a fulfilling and fruitful Christian life.
Model Unflinching Commitment to Sunday WorshipWhen I was a kid, we went to church every single week, even on vacation. I often complained about it (though I liked the donuts they served at Sunday school). I asked my father, “Why can’t we take a week off?” My old-school Dad would always reply in the same gruff Southern drawl, “Son, God gives us seven days a week. We can sacrifice one morning for him.” The only other “religious thing” we did in our household was pray at meals. Still, my Dad’s maxim and our consistent church attendance made a major impression.
Getting to church is hard. But that’s part of the value of attending church every Sunday. It sets the tone for the Christian’s daily struggle to live in personal relationship with Christ.
When I left for college, this pattern was deeply embedded in my life. I was usually the only person on my hall who attended church on Sunday, but I’d get up and go. When I traveled and missed Sunday morning church, I’d go to a campus service that night.
My family’s commitment to Sunday worship communicated major truths to me: God is the center of life. God is worthy of praise and worship. The Christian life requires sacrifice and discipline. My father rarely talked to me about spiritual matters; I don’t think he had a vast vocabulary for such conversations. Still, he modeled the Christian life well, largely through his unflinching commitment to go to church every Sunday.
If you feel inadequate to lead your kids spiritually, just go to church. If strategizing about your Christian parenting feels overly complicated, just go to church. If you’ve been taking a few too many Sundays off, just go to church. If all of this seems overwhelmingly difficult, ask God to give you the grace to have this consistent discipline in your family’s life. Faithful church attendance can have an eternal influence on your kids.
From the Pastor’s Heart:
Praise the Lord for the good work that is being done in the Baptist Tent this week at the Missouri State Fair. In the first 5 days there have been dozens of volunteers, 442 presentations of the gospel and 53 people who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior. By the time you read this the fair will be winding down. If you volunteered, I want to thank you and if you prayed then you had a part as well. We should be telling our story at every opportunity we have.
I appreciate everyone who has volunteered to serve somewhere in our church this year. Wednesday night we will be voting on workers. We definitely need more people who can help with the sound on Sundays and Wednesdays. Please let us know if you are willing to serve. This Wednesday, August 24th is our annual business meeting. We will be voting on workers as well as adding two people to the Church Council. I will be appointing one new council member and the church will nominate the other. Please write the name of a man in the church who is willing to serve on this important team. The top three nominees will be voted on at our annual business meeting.
I believe the very best days for Calvary Baptist Church are ahead. We need to be careful to love God with all that we have and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. When we go through difficult times is when we need each other the most. The scripture that comes to my mind when I think about any dissention in the Body of Christ is:
“You my brothers were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:13-15
I am confident that “He who has begun a good work in us will continue that work to make us more like the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Yours for Kingdom Growth,
We live in a world where so many people have lost all hope. For some it is because their family has or is falling apart. When someone has one expectation of what family is or should be and then another family member sabotages that expectation then family members lose hope. Expectations of economic security are dashed when a good job is lost and there seems to be no hope of replacing it. While jobs may be plentiful at this time it doesn’t mean that they will be what we might have expected. Hope is lost when sudden or even chronic illness affects a family and changes everything. In a moment an accident or serious illness can take away the hope that was there. Perhaps the greatest loss of hope occurs when we lose someone that we love. This loss could be by either death or separation.
The disciples of Jesus must have felt that all hope was lost when the One that they loved and followed was suddenly taken away. The story is told in the gospel of Luke the 24th chapter. Two of Jesus’ disciples were walking and talking on the road to Emmaus. They were recalling the events of the week on this seven-mile walk. Suddenly Jesus was walking with them but for some reason, known only to God, they were kept from knowing HIM. Jesus asked the question, “What are you talking about?” They were surprised this stranger didn’t know what had happened and explained how Jesus had been arrested, tried and crucified. They told him that Jesus was a prophet, powerful in word and deed. Then they said this powerful and insightful sentence, “We had hoped that HE was the ONE to redeem Israel, and now it is the third day since HE died.” When Jesus died, they lost all hope. Stay tuned for the rest of the story.
What has caused you to lose all hope? Has it been the loss of a job, a serious life-threatening illness, someone very near and dear to you dying, a family member who is estranged? Let me encourage you to look to the ONE that can heal your hurts and relationships. Jesus Christ is the only one that we can turn to that will never let us down. Come to Jesus by faith and depend upon HIM. First, we must depend upon Jesus for our eternal life. Jesus said it like this… “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10b and then in John 6:47 He said, “I tell you the truth, he who believes in me has everlasting life.” You can be sure that your sins are forgiven and that you have a place in heaven one you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ who is the One who made the complete payment for your sin.
Back to the story of the two followers of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. When one of the Disciples, Cleopas told Jesus what had happened he replied, “How foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter into His glory? Then he went with them into the village and broke bread with them. When Jesus took the bread and broke it, giving thanks that is when they finally recognized HIM. Their response was that they did believe in the risen Christ after all.
What will it take for you to believe in the risen Christ this Easter? Maybe you used to believe but you have wandered far away from God. Thankfully God allows U-Turns, in fact HE promotes them. Perhaps you have never understood that eternal life is yours for the asking, all you can do is come to Jesus Christ by faith. The Bible clearly says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
WHY DO WE NEED REVIVAL?
Our church is hosting a Revival this weekend, January 30 & 31 at 6:00 PM. I’ve been thinking that some may wonder if we really need Revival. I’d like to address that question and then get each person who is reading this column to consider their own need.
First of all, it is people who have a personal faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation that need Revival. If a person has never come to the place where they realize that Jesus is their Savior, their sins are forgiven and they are on their way to heaven they don’t need Revival, they need JESUS! Place your faith in HIM today. He lived a perfect life and then died to pay for the sins of thew whole world so that they could have eternal life. If you will call out to JESUS and trust HIM alone as your Lord and Savior you can be sure of eternal life. I John 5:13 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior have a tendency of slipping away from Christ. Hebrews 2:1 says “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” It is so simple to slip away from the Lord who has saved us and keeps us. First of all, we stop attending regular worship services that are designed to keep our spiritual fires burning. During this never-ending pandemic it is so easy to get disconnected. We have members, who many for health reasons have not attended services in almost two years. Some have kept up faithfully by following our online services, but church on the couch is not the same as church in person. Our services can be accessed through our website www.calvarybaptistsedalia.org or YouTube.com or our Facebook page. I’m quite certain that some of our members have just gotten out of the habit of coming to church. The admonition was given by the author of Hebrews in chapter 10 verse 25 “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.
Believers need to be careful not to slip away from the fellowship that we have with and in Christ. Psalms 85:6 says, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” It is my humble opinion that the world is waiting and watching for the people who make up the church to get right with God. We have an opportunity this week with Pastor Michael T. Byrd Sr. (a church planter from East St. Louis) coming to share the word of God with us. Pastor Byrd is a successful church planter that God called to go back to the place he grew up to plant a church. He will deliver a word from the Lord that Sedalia area Christians need to hear. Join us Sunday and Monday night at Calvary Baptist Church 1015 W. 16th St. Sedalia, Missouri. You will be glad that you invested the time and effort. We have a mask only section where you can sit and feel safe. Don’t let anything stop you from coming to this Revival.
II Chronicles 7:14 was written to the nation of Israel but I believe it is also an important challenge to the church in the 21st century. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” The question is will we?
That very first Christmas night Joseph and Mary had travelled over 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They had to make the trip, he was required to go pay taxes in his hometown. They didn't know they were fulfilling Scripture from Micah 5:2 which said, "But thou Bethlehem Ephratah, even though you are small among the clans of Judah; One will come from you that is to ruler in Israel, whose orgin is from old, from everlasting." This prophecy which was given thousands of years before Christ's birth predicts where the Christ would be born.
They arrived in Bethlehem and there was no where for them to stay. Mary was great with child but that didn't make any difference. Had the innkeeper known that the God of the universe was going to be born on that silent night he would have given Joseph and Mary his finest room. God had a plan though and it was to enter this world showing his humility. His humble birth was all part of God's plan.
The question for you this Christmas is, "do you have any room for Jesus in your celebration?" There are so many traditions and many of them are cherished in our families but does Jesus have any part of your Christmas?
I believe that we need to put Christ first in Christmas. Take time to worship Jesus together as a family with your church family. This Sunday, December 19th is Christmas Sunday, the last Sunday before Christmas day. Will you make it a priority to gather with your church family and celebrate the birth of Christ? A week from Friday night is Christmas Eve. Wouldn't it be great to bring your extended family to worship at Calvary at 5 pm before the lights and the tinsel and the presents? I hope you will make room for Christ this Christmas.
The Bible tells us in I Thessalonians 5:18 "give thanks in everything; for this is God's will in Christ Jesus." As we approach thanksgiving we are reminded that we should give thanks, not just on the 4th Thursday of November but every day for everything. What are you thankful for today? Make a list and let God know as you spend time in prayer.
The difficult part of giving thanks in everything is that we should give thanks for the bad a well as the good. It is great to be on the mountain top and rejoice when things are going our way. God is not just the God of the mountains but also of the valleys. The 23rd Psalm reminds us, "Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me." So the next time something bad happens to you, you or a family member gets sick, you have a flat tire or an accident, you lose your job, or you just have a bad day, be thankful that "God is with you always in all things.
Let me encourage you to come and join us tomorrow, November 21st at Calvary Baptist Church. There will be a combined Sunday school class for all adults at 8:50 am in the sanctuary taught by Pastor Jonathan (the children & youth will be in their classes downstairs. Worship will begin at 10:00 am as together we thank God for his many blessings. Following the worship service we will have our annual Church Thanksgiving Dinner. Pat Love and her crew have worked tirelessly preparing for this special meal. INVITE FAMILY MEMBERS & FRIENDS TO JOIN YOU FOR WORSHIP & LUNCH. I am so thankful that we can celebrate with our church family and I'm looking forward to seeing you.
Giving Thanks for You,
We remember, in fact I’m confident that those of us who were alive on September 11th, 2001 will never forget the horrific events that took place. Alan Jackson wrote the timely song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning that September Day?” I sure remember that day as I was sitting in my study at West Chester Community Fellowship in West Chester, Pennsylvania. My best friend called me from Georgia and asked me, “Are you watching the news?” From that moment on I spent the rest of the day watching the awful events of that day unfold.
I called my wife who was still living in North Carolina, (I had just started at the church in PA and she was finishing her Masters Degree at the University of North Carolina). It was hard to be apart when such a tragedy had taken place. We opened our Sanctuary for prayer and it was filled with people I had never met, praying together. That week we had continuous times of prayer. Tragedies like this seem to draw people toward God but they seldom are long term.
In our church community we had one miracle that took place that day. One of my deacons worked in the World Trade Center and would have been in the building that morning but he was sick that day and didn’t travel to Manhattan that morning. He and his wife certainly had much to praise God for that September 11th. Sadly, the surge in church attendance didn’t continue and we were back to our small community of faith in just a few short weeks.
This September 11th is the 20th anniversary of that horrible day. Calvary Baptist Church is hosting a free breakfast at 8:00 am that Saturday. Our purpose is to honor our 1st Responders that day. All police officers, Sherriff deputies, firefighters, paramedics and other front line workers will be our special guests. There will be special music, greetings from first responders and an inspirational message. All are invited. It would be helpful to know how many are coming but is not absolutely necessary. If you plan to come you can call the church office at 660-826-5011 or e-mail me at email@example.com.
September 11th changed our world forever, but it is so easy to forget the horrific events of a day like this. So often we think that life will just go on like nothing ever happened. It changed the way we travel and has caused our society to be more diligent about daily life. It also made many people aware of the fact that no one has a guarantee of tomorrow. The Bible says in James 4:13,14 & 15. Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will we will live and do this or that.”
Since we have no guarantee about what will happen from day to day then it would make sense to depend upon God both for our everyday life as well as for our eternal destiny. Jesus made it clear to Mary and Martha after their brother Lazarus had died when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” in an earlier passage as Jesus was speaking about being the bread of life said, “I tell you the truth he who believes in me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life” John 6:47 & 48.
Jesus when looking at Jerusalem had a prayer request. He told his disciples to pray to the Lord of the Harvest that HE would send forth (thrust) laborers into the harvest field. I've been specifically praying that prayer regarding the Baptist Tent Ministry at the Missouri State Fair. It is estimated that 300,000 people will come to the Missouri State Fair during the next 11 days. Thousands will pass by the Baptist Tent. We have time slots in the next week and a half where not one person has signed up to be in the tent. In order to be effective in sharing we need at least six people per shift. Our youth group is coming the first Saturday night of the fair (the 14th) from 6 - 9 pm. We are still looking for workers for Sunday the 15th from 12 noon until 6 pm.
When was the last time you had the opportunity to share your testimony about faith in Christ? This is a great way to speak to people that you don't know that may need Jesus. We also have the opportunity if they are local to invite them to join us at Calvary.
Let's make a difference for eternity at the Missouri State Fair this year. Will you be one that will volunteer?
Because People Need Jesus.
“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. ‘The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” Matthew 13:24-30
Later Jesus explained to his disciples that the field is the world, the one sowing seed is Jesus, the seed is the Word of God, the enemy is the Devil, the wheat are God’s people and the tares (poisonous weeds) are the people of the Evil One.
What a powerful picture of the church in the fallen world! Jesus is using his church to sow Gospel seeds and his harvest is growing. More and more people around the world are hearing the Good News of Jesus and saying “yes” to the Gospel!
But Satan is sowing too. He is sowing tares, a poisonous weed which, in its early stages of growth, looks just like wheat.
There is a battle for the harvest going on. Jesus is using us to spread seeds of hope. Satan is using a form of spiritual bio-terrorism to spread poison. Jesus comes to bring life to us and to the world. But Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10.)
Chuck Swindoll preached an excellent sermon on “A World Full of Wheat and Tares” that can give us some insight into this passage as well as our current moral quandary as believers. In this sermon he makes it clear that, like the servants working in the field, many of us have the same knee jerk reaction to the tares around us. We want to pull them out by the roots, deal with evil and be done with it.
That’s what the disciples wanted to do in Luke 9:52-56 when Jesus tried to bring the Good News into a Samaritan village, “…but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them.”
James and John wanted to pull the weeds out by the roots and burn them up right then and there. But Jesus made it clear to these “Sons of Thunder” that this was not the plan of God.
It is not our job to call down fire or tear out tares. The only evil we are called to root out is the evil in our own lives (Matthew 7:5.)
Instead, we are called to sow seed generously in the harvest field (Matthew 13:1-23) and disciple those who respond to the message. We are called to go with the goers, pray for the others and keep chucking Gospel seeds.
What about the weeds? We leave them for God, the Lord of the Harvest, to deal with on Judgment Day.
And he will.
There is a day coming where the harvesters (the angels) will bundle the weeds (sinners) and gather the wheat (saints). He will burn the weeds (in hell) and bring the wheat into his barn (aka “heaven”!)
You and I are not called to pull weeds. We are called to sow seeds.
And, as those Gospel seeds grow, they will overcome the weeds and the tares.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we refuse to speak the truth, vote our consciences, deal with injustice around us or get involved with other important issues. But it does mean that our ultimate goal is to save lost souls.
So let’s sow!
Let’s sow as many seeds as we can in as many places to have the biggest harvest that we can!
By the way, if you don’t know how to sow Gospel seeds (share the Gospel message in a clear and effective way), then download Dare 2 Share‘s free app, Life in 6 Words. It is a simple and effective way to evangelize and reap a fruitful spiritual crop.
Let’s stop pulling weeds and start sowing seeds!
Church is hard.
Church is hard for the person walking through the doors, afraid of judgement.
Church is hard for the pastor's family, under the microscope of an entire body.
Church is hard for the prodigal son returning home, broken and battered by the world.
Church is hard for the girl who looks like she has it all together, but she doesn't.
Church is hard for the couple who fought the entire ride to church.
Church is hard for the single mom, surrounded by couples holding hands, and seemingly perfect familes.
Church is hard for the widow and widower with no invitation to lunch after service.
Church is hard for the deacon with an estranged child.
Church is hard for the person singing worship songs, overwhelmed by the weight of the lyrics.
Church is hard for the man insecure in his role as a leader.
Church is hard for the wife who longs to be led by a righteous man.
Church is hard for the nursery volunteer who desperately longs for a baby to love.
Church is hard for the single woman and single man, praying that God will bring them a mate.
Church is hard for sinners.
Church is hard for me.
It's hard because on the outside it looks all shiny and perfect. Sunday best in behavior and dress.
However, underneath those layers, you find a body of imperfect people, carnal souls, selfish motives, but, here is the beauty of church -
Church isn't a building, mentality or expectation, Church is a body.
Church is a group of sinners, saved by grace and living in fellowship as saints.
Church is a body of believers bound as brothers and sisters by an eternal love.
Church is a holy ground where sinners stand as equals before the Throne of Grace.
Church is a refuge for broken hearts and a training ground for mighty warriors.
Church is a converging of confrontation and invitation where sin is confronted and hearts are invited to seek restoration.
Church is a lesson of faith and trust.
Church is a bearer of burdens and a giver of hope.
Church is a family. A family coming together, setting aside differences, forgetting past mistakes, rejoicing in the smallest of victories.
Church, the body, and the circle of sinners turned saints, is where HE resides, and if we ask, HE is faithful to come.
So even on the hard days at church - the days when I am at odds with a friend, when I've fought with my husband because we are late once again. When I've walked in bearing burdens heavier than my heart can handle, yet masking the pain with a smile on my face. When I've worn a scarlet letter, under the microscope. When I've longed for a baby to hold, or fought tears as the lyrics were sung. When I've walked back in, afraid and broken after walking away. I'll remember HE has never failed to meet me there.
Pastor Don shares from his heart in the "Calvary Connection"