Many who are reading this article may react as I did when I first heard Pastor Scott encourage regular gospel-telling from the pulpit. That is because we tend to think of the gospel as a simple, salvation message targeted at seekers, or as a brief sermon “add on” for the uninitiated.
“Joy is the serious business of heaven,” wrote C.S. Lewis in a letter to a friend. It ought to be our serious business, as well. Joy is every believer’s birthright. Scripture assures us of this through repeated promises, and Christmastime underscores the fact.
Prayer has been important to me since the earliest days of my Christian life. After the Holy Spirit worked graciously in my heart during my teen years and I came to faith in Christ, I found it natural to turn to my heavenly Father in quiet times when I was alone.
The Christian Reformed Church, like many denominations, is facing a time of significant challenge. Membership in a majority of congregations has declined notably in the last 10 years. More churches are dealing with internal discord or a sense of malaise than a decade ago. Up sharply, also, is the number of church families who have experienced a painful separation from their pastor.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the expression: “be faithful to your marriage vows”? Whenever I ask people that question, they usually say something about long-term commitment or sexual fidelity or both. The emphasis falls on the “till death do us part” aspect of the marriage pledge.
I find this revealing because, while loyalty-over-a-lifetime is certainly an important part of the commitment we make on our wedding day, it is only one part of it. Couples also pledge “to love and to cherish” one another. We promise our spouse a journey of emotional depth, not just a journey of duration.
Building on two previous Christian Courier articles (“The Church of Me,” Oct. 12, and “Are We Doing Church Right?” Nov. 9), I would like to use the approach of Zinczenko’s book to suggest three choices churches can make to create a healthier congregational life.
While most churches regard love as an important ideal, they do not typically structure themselves to guarantee its place of priority.
When looking for a church, we shouldn’t be asking, “What’s in it for me?” Rather, we should ask if this is the family we’ve been called to love, and a place we and our families can optimally serve and grow.
God used my mother’s wisdom, at a critical crossroad in his life, to help him choose a redemptive path rather than a destructive one. The story is impacting other lives, as well, as my brother continues to recount the episode even now, 50 years later.
Many years ago a woman from our congregation and her late husband courageously shared the Gospel in their home village of Bettesue, Liberia, in the face of severe persecution.