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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rustler article for October 28th, 2010

A radio station in Waco is having a pledge drive this week to raise money in support of their programming and operational budgets. They interrupt the normal programming (which I listen to every morning and evening on my commute) to beg, plead, guilt, and cajole the listeners to give money in support of their station.
While the interruptions can be quite annoying, the arguments the hosts and guests make in varied attempts to convince me of my obligation to give to their cause got me thinking. Is the church any different than a not-for-profit radio station when it asks for support in the various ways that it does? Does the church not plead, beg and cajole members to open their pocketbooks in the same way?
I see a lot of myself in the arguments the folks on the radio make. They are trying to maintain an organization that is funded entirely by the people who are willing to commit to the mission of that radio station. The church, on the other hand, is more than a radio station and provides more than news. The church is the community of Christ-followers who have committed their lives to the service, study, and worship of God. We believe that contributing to the church is more than “putting our money where our mouth is;” we believe in returning a portion of God’s blessing to us to our Lord so that the Gospel may be proclaimed in our community and around the world.
Yes, we do fundraisers. Yes, the church is an organization that depends on the faithful giving of its members. But what is more, the church is a place to develop that thankful spirit that should abide in all believers for the gift of Jesus Christ.
Be sure to join us this Sunday morning at 11:00am for worship!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rustler Article for October 21, 2010

If forgiveness is the currency of the Kingdom of God, which I believe it is, then the ministry of every believer in their proclamation of the Gospel every day is to practice the forgiveness of the world. Forgiving the world is not excusing the world’s bad behavior, nor is it tolerating unjust action; rather to forgive the world is to boldly identify the fallen nature of our society and to lovingly engage that same culture regardless of its hostility toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To forgive the world is to love the world.
It is crucial to note Jesus’ instructions to his disciples shortly before the crucifixion: he plainly tells them that the world will hate them because the world hates Jesus Christ. We must realize that Jesus went into the world and sent his followers into the world in spite of the world’s antagonism and outright hostility toward God’s Kingdom. We are disciples sent into a world that cannot help itself but to be unmistakably evil. We are thrust with a confrontational Gospel that challenges and defies every power structure man has ever known. Forgiving the world for these things and for the depressing, hateful, exhausting lives it makes some of us lead is the beginning of the Gospel. Without forgiving the world we cannot preach, cannot teach, and cannot worship.
This Sunday we’ll host a church-wide brisket cook-off! Several people have volunteered to cook the meat for us to help us decide who the best brisketeer is at FBC Riesel! Come and share a meal with us and fellowship with a church that emphasizes community in all that we do. The meal will be immediately following Sunday School at 10:00am and worship at 11:00am. We’ll see you there!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I have found that forgiveness is the currency of the Kingdom of God. It is through the act of forgiveness that God enters into a relationship with his people in the action of the cross. It is through the forgiveness of sins great and small that men and women are brought to faith in Christ Jesus. It is the act of forgiveness that the church moves and has her being in the community as well as the Kingdom.
We would do well to remember that it is forgiveness that brokers our faith and God’s grace. We would also do well to remember that we will not be the church until we can practice forgiveness.
We must let God’s forgiveness affect us in three ways. First, we must allow God’s forgiveness of our sins to help us forgive ourselves for what we have done. If we really believe that God has removed our guilt “as far as the east is from the west” then we must internalize that reality into our self-image. What I mean is that we must learn the value of forgiveness in our own hearts to truly appreciate the value of forgiveness among our brothers and sisters.
We’ve all done things that need to be forgiven. We often proclaim, albeit timidly, that God has forgiven us and that our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. But underneath I detect a current of residual guilt. We are not truly forgiven until we allow ourselves to be forgiven. We are not completely healed until we allow our hurts to be seen and bandaged by the grace of God.
The hardest lesson for the church to learn is that its members must ACCEPT that they are forgiven. Next week: on forgiving the church.

We have several new opportunities for fellowship and worship this fall. Our monthly men’s breakfast begins this Saturday at 8:00am in our fellowship hall; we’re hosting a brisket cook-off on October 24th after morning worship; our children’s ministry is visiting the local nursing home and learning about missions monthly; we’re offering Bible 101 on Wednesday nights to teach adult-level biblical knowledge and basics with the Scriptures. There’s so much going on at FBC Riesel that I can’t put it all in one paragraph! Come and join us this Sunday or Wednesday; we have something for everyone in your family!