Criteria for Selecting a New Church

Criteria for Selecting a New Church

What kind of criteria do people use when searching for and selecting a new church to attend? Some, obviously, simply go back to the church they were raised in. They are comfortable there. Others select a church because someone else they know recommended it as one that makes them happy. Others select a church based on its closeness in proximity to where they live; it’s closeness in doctrine to what they’ve always chosen to believe; and/or the size of its congregation, youth group, or the beauty of its building. This, while still others select a new church to attend based upon its featuring others of their personally-preferred comfort and convenience features; features such as: Is the worship style one that they prefer and find enjoyable? How well does it hold their interest and keep them entertained? Does the church allow them to continue to live comfortably in the lifestyle and situation that they have chosen, without challenge, correction, and/or conviction? In other words, does it tell them what they want to hear, thus keeping them comfortable, contented, and coming back?

Spotlight church

Do you want your perceived needs to be the center of Church focus?

While many choose a new church to attend based on the above criteria, there are a few with a completely different focus and goal. They realize that church and it’s work, worship, and teachings on such things as how to be saved and live a new, pure, and holy lifestyle (Romans 6:1-23; Colossians 3:1-17),  is not – and cannot ever be – at all about them and their personal preferences, but totally and completely, one hundred percent and forever about God almighty’s preferences, desires, commands, will, and agenda alone. He is the One who came in the flesh and died to purchase His own church with His own perfect blood (Acts 20:28). He is the one and only head over His body, His church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). These folks realize and respect that Jesus Christ is the one, true, Lord and King who has been given full and total authority in all things by the Father (Matt. 28:18-20) – and not them. As such, they recognize and are more than willing to lovingly submit themselves and their wills fully to the Lord and His word (John 14:15; Lk. 6:46-49).

Such sincere and humble seekers of God understand and accept the truth that within His holy word, the Bible, God has given us everything we need in order to stand pure, holy, and perfect before Him (2 Timothy 3:16-4:4; 2 Peter 1:2-4). Therefore, they would never seek to be saved by a process, live by a practice, or worship by a pattern, not found in – and therefore foreign to – that perfect, flawless, eternally binding and divinely-inspired life-providing word (Psalm 19:7-11, 119:89; John 6:63, 68, 12:48-50). They have read, understood, and accepted the fact that to worship according to man-made practices, teachings, and traditions which are not found anywhere in the sacred Scriptures, is to do something they definitely do not want to be guilty of: contaminating and therefore rendering their worship vain, futile, and useless before God (Matthew 15:3-14; Mark 7:5-13; Colossians 2:20-23).

The ultimate beauty and beautiful irony for such sincerely humble seekers who are willing to sacrifice any and all of their personal preferences for whatever God said in His word that He wants – thus giving Him His proper place of prominence and preeminence in their lives (Colossians 1:15-20) – is not only that they are truly seeking and will therefore surely find God (Matthew 7:7-8), but that such folks are exactly and exclusively the kind of worshippers that the Father Himself is still seeking today (See: John 4:23-24)!

What are you looking for in a church? Are you one of the many who are simply looking for a place that pleases and gives you, as the audience, what you prefer? Or, are you one of the few who understands that when it comes to worship, God is the audience to be pleased and that we must therefore perform our worship of and to Him with the proper spirit of godly reverence, in accordance with His word? If you are one of the latter, please come and join the like-minded of the Lord’s church this coming Sunday (Romans 16:16).

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Preaching Jesus: The Eunuch

Preaching Jesus

In the 8th chapter of the book of Acts, we read the first recorded account of the conversion of a single, lone individual to Christianity. The individual in question was an Ethiopian Jew: a eunuch in the employ of the queen of Ethiopia. This man had journeyed to Jerusalem in order to worship and, as we meet him in the text, he is on his way home. (cf. Acts 8:26ff)

eunuch preaching

Just preach Jesus.

To this individual, God sent a preacher named Philip, a man full of the Spirit of Christ, and experienced in sharing the Gospel. Philip had been preaching among the Samaritans, and had enjoyed great success there, but now God wanted the Gospel to go into Africa also, and so it was providentially arranged for the preacher to meet the lost soul.

When Philip met the eunuch, the latter was in his chariot, being driven south, and he was studying the Bible. Specifically, the text tells us that the eunuch was studying the prophet Isaiah. (cf. Acts 8:30-34; Isaiah 53:7-8) The text, specifically, was that which spoke of the Messiah being led like a lamb to the slaughter.

When Philip asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading, the eunuch confessed his puzzlement and asked if Philip could explain it. Beginning at the spot, the Bible says, Philip preached Jesus to him. (cf. Acts 8:35)

Following this lesson, the Eunuch saw a body of water and asked if it was possible for him to be baptized. Philip affirmed that it was, and the two went down into the water, the eunuch was baptized, and then after, he went on his way rejoicing, having received the forgiveness of his sins, and the salvation of his soul (cf. Acts 8:36-40; 2:38)

Philip preached Jesus and the eunuch was saved.

Preaching Jesus.

Such a simple phrase, but so full of import and meaning.

The eunuch was a religious man. But being religious was not enough. There was something he yet needed. He needed a relationship with Jesus Christ, who was and is the Way, the Truth, and the Life: the only path to God (John 14:6). Religion, without Christ, is not enough to get one to the Father.

When the apostle Peter preached to the crowd on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), he was preaching to a crowd filled with religious people, assembled for the worship of God. But their religion was not enough. They needed Jesus.

Saul of Tarsus was a very religious man, and in his religious zeal he persecuted the church of God (cf. Acts 9:1ff). But it was not enough. He needed Jesus.

Philip preached Jesus because Jesus was the message the eunuch needed to hear for the salvation of his soul. The world today still needs to hear the message of Jesus preached. There is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved (Acts 4:12).

We can also discern, from the text, that preaching Jesus involves more than just telling the man about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Philip began with the theme of the sacrifice of Jesus, the same theme we see in the sermons recorded for us in Acts 2 and 3. But just knowing about the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is not enough. When Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch, we can also deduce he preached faith and baptism. He taught the eunuch that the death of Christ demanded a response.

Why else, when the eunuch spotted a water, would he ask about baptism? Obviously, Philip had taught him about the need to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins.

Preaching Jesus is not just preaching about what Jesus has done for us, it is preaching about the response that Jesus demands of us. It is telling people that it was Jesus who said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16) It is teaching people that it was Jesus who said, “Unless you repent you will surely perish.” (Luke 13:3)

The world needs to hear Jesus preached. The problem of sin, judgement and death remains the same today as it was then. The solution to this problem likewise remains the same. Jesus is still the Way, the Truth and the Life.

And when Jesus is preached, when we in our need hear that glorious message of salvation… each of us should have the enthusiasm of the eunuch in responding to Jesus.


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We Want a King

We Want a King

In 1 Samuel 1–5 we find the corrupt sons of Eli, priests, unwilling to heed their father’s instructions. They cause the children of Israel to despise the sacrifices of the Lord. Then the Philistines slaughter the Israeli army and carry off the Ark of the Covenant. In the midst of all this God is still faithful to fulfill His will, keep His promises, and He providentially raises up Samuel to be a prophet and a priest.

king of men

Do you want a king of men or the King of all?

Then, in chapters 6–10, Israel, who has never been satisfied with the leadership and awesome power of the Lord, desires an earthly king to rule over them. He had guided them out of bondage and into the Promised Land. He had set over them righteous representatives to lead them (Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and now Samuel), yet they continued to rebel. Now they want a king like the nations around them.

Let me posit this question, “Whose side are we on?” If not on the Lord’s side we are His enemy. But He will conquer and every enemy defeated (Matthew 11:30). “Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).
While we are often hard on the children of Israel maybe God is trying to get us to see our own nature. He has provided us with divine, kingly leadership in His Son. But that isn’t good enough for most people. He is King of kings and Lord of lords! Will you allow Him to rule your life? Here’s a test… have you and are you obedient to and subject to Him?

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Cotton Candy Christianity

Cotton Candy Christianity

While the concept might have originated in Europe, it was William Morrison and John C. Wharton of Nashville who made it become a reality. In 1897, they created the machine which used air and sugar to popularize the spread of a new product. They called it fairy floss. It still has that name in Australia. In much of the world, it is called candy floss. In France, it is called Papa’s beard. You have eaten it since you were a child and likely call it cotton candy.

cotton candy religion

Sugar coated religion?

There are some interesting parallels between cotton candy and what has happened in the religious world since the Lord established the church. He established the church in a world whose appeal was to the outward aspects of religious life. The pagan world had temples everywhere, and the devotion to the gods worshiped there was popularized by gods who sought to satisfy the fleshly nature of man. They were not designed to change the hearts and souls of men.

Even Judaism in the first century had ignored the greatest commands and focused on sabbath keeping, showy religion and ceremonial rituals. The Lord described them as only having a form of godliness, while neglecting grace and the weightier matters of God’s law (2 Tim. 3:5; Matt. 23:23). Christianity was designed to change the heart and then using the truth revealed in the Bible to bring men to God. It was based on the principle that God is a spirit, and we bow before Him with our spirits and souls seeking Him (John 4:24).

But, all that has changed. So much of religion in our land is like cotton candy. Cotton candy looks so great. You can get it in any color or flavor you desire. Our religious world is so divided that you can find any “flavor” of church you want. However, cotton candy has little nutritional value (remember your mom’s devotion that you have a balanced diet) and doesn’t really give you what you need. America feeds itself on the “sugar and air” mixture of religious cotton candy.

After you eat your two ounces of sugar and air, your body still needs more. Religion without deep Bible knowledge destroyed Israel and is destroying our land (Hos. 4:6). One cannot know the Lord without knowing His word (1 John 2:4). One cannot love the Lord and ignore keeping His word (John 14:15). A child at the fair sees the cotton candy and it tastes so good, but a steady diet of this will destroy his health. This is our land. Religiously, we are feeding ourselves and starving our souls.

What an amazing world it would be if we sought to return to the spiritual food which fed the early church. Cotton candy Christianity is so far removed from the food Jesus gave the early church and seeks to give to us today.

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Our Heavenly Father’s Day

Our Heavenly Father’s Day

What comes to mind when you consider the term “Father’s Day?” Time spent with family reminiscing what wonderful things your dad did for you growing up? How he worked to love, guide, protect and provide for you? Is the first thing that comes to mind perhaps the Sunday celebration of “Father’s Day” where you take/took the time to travel to his house and present to him your gifts of love, gratitude, and appreciation? Maybe it’s a special meal as you and your siblings all gather around the same table to eat, enjoy, and celebrate? Now, granted, for some, there may be a far sadder stigma attached to “Father’s Day” because their dads were somewhat less of a father than God desires that they should have been.

Do You Remember Your Father’s Day?

However, no matter what it is that may come to mind for you when you hear the term “Father’s Day,” one thing is for sure: If you are a blood-bought and adopted child of the living God (Gal. 3:26-27), your perfect, loving, and adoring heavenly Father is certainly worth celebrating every day in every way – but especially and in a special way on this, His special, “Father’s Day!” He brought us forth because He wanted, and it was His will to have us (Jms. 1:18). Every good thing we have is from Him (Matt. 7:7-11, Jms. 1:17). Every good thing heaven has to offer we have been given by our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3-10). He guides, provides, nurtures, protects, strengthens, comforts, leads, teaches, matures, directs and disciplines us – all for our own good, growth, and godliness. But He does so with mercy, pity, and compassion, remembering our frailties (Ps. 103:8-14). He is truly “our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace” (2 Thess. 2:16).

And so, we celebrate Him. We come together with His other blood-bought children – our spiritual siblings in Christ – bearing our gifts of love, adoration, and appreciation, as we gather together within His house (2 Ptr. 2:4-5; 1 Tim. 3:15). It is there that we sing His praises and give Him thanks (Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 3:16-17; Hebs. 3:15). It is there, on His specially set-aside day, that we present Him with our gifts (1 Cor. 16:1-2). And it is only and especially there and on His special day, that we have the privilege of sharing in the most sacred, special, and meaningful meal ever provided, as we gather around the table of the Lord together (1 Cor. 10:16-17, 11:23-25; Acts 20:7).

You see, after all He’s done for us, our heavenly Father is far too special to celebrate only occasionally or annually. Every first day of the week is our heavenly Father’s Day! Let us be determined not to miss it for the world!

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