Sunday, September 27, 2009

What I Want the Church to Be

The church that I attend is composed of people like me. We make it what it is.
It will be friendly, if I am friendly.
Its pews will be filled, if I help fill them.
It will do a great work, if I work.
It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver.
It will bring other people into its worship and fellowship, if I bring them.
It will be a church with a noble spirit, if I show the same kind of spirit.
Therefore, I will let God use me in the task of being all things that I want the church, where I attend, to be.

- Bulletin Digest; - via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Your Church, My Church, Our Church, Or Christ’s Church?

By Gerald Cowan

What do people think of me? That question often finds its way into our thoughts. We may seldom ask anyone directly what he thinks of us, but there are times when it important for us to know. On one occasion Jesus asked His disciples, "Whom do men say that I am?" (Mt. 16:13). He was not satisfied with the answer, so He asked again, "But whom do you (disciples) say that I am?"
Jesus was not usually bothered by the kind of reception He got, and it may seem strange that He was so concerned at this particular time. But His concern was not about what people thought of His character or His attitude. He was concerned that they know who He was and what He had come to do. More than that, He was not concerned so much about what people in general thought of Him as He was about whether certain things had registered on the minds of the twelve disciples. It was important that they understand what His ministry was all about. The church was in the mind of Christ, and these men were to play a vital part in bringing the church into existence. When Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus assured them this answer was from God. Then He added, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." (Mt. 16:15-18).
Upon this rock! What rock? What did He mean? Some claim that the “rock” is Peter, that somehow the Lord would found His church upon Peter. This is a bit awkward though, since very soon after that He called Peter Satan. "Get behind me Satan" (Mt. 16:23). Others believe that by "this rock" Jesus meant the confession that Peter had made concerning Him. But this has led to the idea that the church is built upon the foundation of men and women who believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Actually, both views are wrong. Scripture plainly says that Jesus Christ Himself is the rock, the only foundation upon which the church is built (1 Cor. 3:11 and 10:4, 1 Peter 2:4-8).
If the church were built upon any person or group of persons, it could be only as strong and durable as the person or group. Even if such men were inspired by God, if the foundation of the church is human, there can be nothing final about either the religion or the church of Christ. Only if it is established upon the unchanging Lord can the church be considered essentially unchanging and permanent. If Jesus is indeed the Son of God, sent into the world to achieve redemption, then there is a certain finality about the church and its faith. God’s act of redemption in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ cannot be repeated. It was done "once and for all" (Heb. 10:12, 18). So then Christ’s indestructible church is founded upon Christ Himself, the living revelation of the living God, and not upon the shaky foundation of any human.
It might hurt our pride a bit to be told that, though the church consists of faithful Christians, it is not built by us or upon us. Nor does its future depend upon us. Man cannot destroy what God Himself has established. The persecution of the Roman Empire, the despair of the "dark ages," the attacks of rationalism, the devastation of global warfare, and the present efforts of liberalism and political correctness to secularize the church and take it away from God – all those things and more have failed and will fail to destroy what the Lord built. Death and hades could not prevent Jesus from building it, and hell itself will not be able to destroy it. Christ, who established the church upon Himself as God’s Son, will continue to add to it every day all who are being saved by their obedience to Him. He will do it as long as the world stands (Heb. 5:9, Acts 2:47). He does not add to your church or mine – no church is founded upon any or all of us, and no church belongs to us. The Lord’s church, the church of Christ Himself, is the only church which belongs to Christ and is the only one to which He adds the saved.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Is “Beautiful Singing?”

By Kevin Williams

How many times have you worshiped in the assembly following which you heard, or might have said, “Boy was that beautiful singing!” Honestly, I have both heard it and said it myself. And, rightfully so. Some of the most beautiful singing in the world occurs in the church with absolutely no mechanical instruments involved! Furthermore, I am one who likes beautiful singing.

However, I got to thinking about it and wondered if God looks at our singing in that way. Does He put stress on the beauty of the voices that are singing or on something else? Will He accept singing that we would describe as something less than beautiful? Does the beauty of a Christian’s voice have anything to do with whether or not he (or she) is pleasing God in such?

Obviously, it seems to me that God does not place the emphasis on the beauty of what is offered to Him, whether it is singing, praying, preaching, giving, etc. That can be seen simply by noting Jesus’ condemnation of what the Pharisees did in Matthew 23.27, 28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Conclusion: it takes more than the “beauty” of what we do to be acceptable to the Lord. As far as our singing in worship is concerned we can have the most beautiful voice in the world and be unacceptable to God if we are not living a faithful Christian life.

We can glean much about the emphasis that God places on our singing when we view several passages…
1 Corinthians 14.15. “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” The context of this verse is miraculous singing given by the Holy Spirit and singing it in the assembly in a language that others can hear and benefit. It seems that from this passage we can learn at least two things.
- - Our singing today must be authorized by the Holy Spirit. Whatever we do in our singing in worship must be patterned after what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Word.

- - Our singing must be done so that others can understand it. Understanding of the messages in our songs is just as important as understanding the messages presented from the pulpit!
Ephesians 5.19. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” It seems to me that there are at least four things in this passage that will help us.
- - Our singing involves “speaking.” That is what God wants. Notice that nothing is said about a mechanical instrument.
- - Our singing involves “speaking to one another.” That would involve everyone singing. How could I be speaking to another in song when I am not participating in it?
- - Our singing involves “making melody in your heart.” It is crucial, I think, to understand that there is an instrument involved in our singing to the Lord. It is the heart, that is where our melody is to spring forth.
- - Our singing is “to the Lord.” All worship, including our singing, is directed to the Lord. While we do benefit from the songs that are sung, we also are offering them to the Lord in our worship.
Colossians 3.16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” At least two more things can be said about singing in this verse.
- Our singing involves “teaching.” All one has to do is to glance through our song books to see many great sermons preached in our songs. When we get away from the teaching aspect of our singing and substitute other forms of music (humming and other sounds made with the mouth, hands, etc.), then our singing is not approved by Christ.

- - Our singing involves “admonishing.” To admonish is “to put in the mind; warn.” It seems to me that our songs, in many respects, parallel our preaching. We are both to teach and warn in our preaching as well as to teach and warn in our singing!

Let us remember that “beautiful” singing to the Lord involves at least those things mentioned above. And, let us strive to have more “beautiful” singing in the church. Think about it!

- Kevin Williams preaches for the Walnut Grove church of Christ in Benton, KY. He may be contacted at

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Preacher’s Classic

When I preach there are some who say
They could listen to me all day
Others think I preach too long,
And some think I go about it wrong.
Some say my sermon is much too deep
To others it’s shallow and they go to sleep.
Some report I hold them spellbound,
While others squirm and look around.
Some believe I have no light,
And others think I preach just right.
Some affirm that I’m too bold,
While others wink and say I’m cold.
Some used to say I was much too young,
But others declare my spring has sprung
Some folks tell I have met success.
Others think my work’s a mess.
Some have said my pay is too low,
When they discover the pace I go.
Still others say it’s above the peak
“Why, he only works three hours a week!”
From all of this it is plain to see,
That as a preacher, I’m up a tree.
Condemned if I do,
Condemned if I don’t.
Criticized if I will,
Criticized if I won’t.
I can’t please men of such discord,
So I’ll just keep trying to please the Lord.

- Author Unknown; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website: or e-mail: