On Facebook I recently mentioned some things about church growth where I preach.
It's such a blessing to walk in every week and greet our guests that come by, spend time visiting and getting to know new people, and teach/encourage our members.
Our growth isn't coming because we're focusing on numbers.
It's coming because people sense the atmosphere of warmth, expressed by love, care, and concern inside and OUTSIDE the building. Not just on Sunday ... but throughout the week.
It's coming because of our emphasis on strong preaching/teaching with purpose, planning, and relevance behind it. Our shepherds, deacons, and preachers are all committed to spiritual growth and development and you can see it all over the place.
It's coming because of our member's commitment to service. Whether it be plowing an elderly member's driveway, sitting with someone in the hospital, or putting things aside to listen when someone needs a bended ear, it happens every single day at Kettering Church.
It's the fulfillment of Ephesians 4.11-12: leaders equip .. saints serve ... all for the building up of the body.
It's coming because of our willingness to meet people where they are ... and help them address the real issues they face through encouragement and application of biblical principles in a spirit of grace and hope.
When you do these things, you don't have to focus on numbers. The numbers will take care of themselves.
If you haven't been to Kettering Church lately, drop by this Sunday. You'll be glad you did.
-- Matthew Allen
The Waters Will Not Transgress His Command
In Sunday's sermon, I will point to a very interesting passage that talks about the boundary of the sea being set by God: I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it, Jeremiah 5.22. This is not the only passage that speaks on this matter.
- Psalm 104:9: You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. This references God’s work at creation, Genesis 1.9-10. The same is true for Solomon’s writing in:
- Proverbs 8.28b-29: He established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
- Job 38.8-11: Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
These passages represent the Biblical worldview when it comes to the matter of the sea and where it will be. God has fixed its position and we have no power to change it. Period.
While no Christian would ever condone pollution or abuse of God’s creation, we need to see the godlessness that is rooted in much of modern-day environmentalism. The idea that humans possess the kind of power necessary to destroy the planet is presumptuous and the height of selfish pride and exaltation. We are not the final authority. The earth does not belong to us: The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, Psalm 24.1. We are simply stewards of the planet. We are to work it and keep it, Genesis 2.15, and God brought us into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and good things, Jeremiah 2.7. Let’s be good citizens and stewards of God’s bountiful blessings.
But let us also rest in the assurance of God. Our world will never again be destroyed by water: Genesis 9.11, 15. The time and occasion of the earth’s destruction will be made only at God’s command, Matthew 24.36, and not anyone else’s, not even Jesus. When our Lord does return, the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, 2 Peter 3.10. When that day occurs, we’ll meet God and give an account for the deeds done in the body. Are you ready for that day?
— Matthew Allen
We have almost completed the first week of the new year. Tomorrow begins the first full work-week of 2019, and for many of us, life will return to a sense of normalcy after the long holiday period. Usually the weeks around Christmas and New Years are characterized by reflection, evaluation, and goals for the future. I know this has been on our mind here at Kettering as we began our new curriculum year last month and have focused on self-evaluation, etc. I expect most of us have taken a hard look at where we are spiritually and have resolved to strengthen what is weak and cultivate our strengths as we move into a new year.
Your opportunities for spiritual growth abound … like never before … in ways we couldn’t have imagined even a decade ago.
While the Bible remains the same, its availability to us grows every day. Chances are that you own a smart phone, and if you do it is likely you have the Bible wherever you go. If you have a Bible app installed you are literally seconds away from accessing God’s word. Task and calendar programs can be set up to automatically remind you of reading a passage, taking time out to pray, or intentionally scheduling five minutes of quiet time for reflection and meditation. Some programs will even read your selected text for you, allowing you to take in God’s word in the car, on your bike, or while you’re walking. Putting these things into practice may involve some changes, like getting up thirty minutes earlier each day, or actually putting the reminders in your mobile device. (If you don’t have a Bible app already and use an iOS device, see me for what app I use and recommend.)
In your email inBox this morning, you have already received the Daily Bible Reading Schedule for this week. It contains a short devotional written by Gary Henry that sets the tone and direction for the week. Every Monday through Friday you will receive a short reminder detailing that day’s reading, the key point to consider, discussion questions if you choose to have a devotional with your family, and a short reading from the wisdom literature. (If you’re not into email, a paper copy of the schedule will be printed every week and left inside the front entryway.)
One of the best ways to facilitate your personal spiritual growth is to be in the word … outside of the worship assembly and Bible class. Resolve today to make this a top priority as you focus the new year.
— Matthew Allen
Whoever is of God Hears the Words of God
Self examination has always been difficult - but it is extremely hard in post-modern culture. We have largely, as a culture, become so open-minded that we stand for nothing. If there is a sin, it is operating with moral and religious certainty and authority. In the minds of some, sin is the preaching of Christian principles with conviction.
As we’ll see on Sunday, everything begins with a Biblical worldview. We must have the belief that God’s word is inspired, infallible, and authoritative. We must possess a commitment to one way - God’s way.
In reality, it’s all that matters - if we have fully committed to allowing Christ to reign over our heart.
On Sunday we’ll identify six words with truth:
As you get ready for worship, be thinking about these things:
- What are some of your experiences with post-modern thought?
- Why do you think it is so important to have a Biblical worldview?
- What does objectivity mean?
- What are some ways we can eliminate personal bias as we study God’s word?
- What is the purpose of law?
Sunday Song Leader: Randy Mullins
Sunday Scripture Reading: Rich Jacobs
TEXT: John 8.39-47
As we’ll see in today’s sermon, there are multiple forces working to suppress and even harass believers who exercise their faith in the public arena. Going forward, we will have to exercise wisdom and discernment in order to interact effectively inside the growing new reality.
We are not the first generation to experience hostility. How did the early Christians handle adversity? The Letter to Diognetus is dated to ~130 AD. It was written by someone who used the name Mathetes (not a proper name but the Greek word for disciple). Scholars believe it was either a personal letter written to defend the Christian faith or a formal written defense to a judge. Whoever the author was, he identifies himself as a “disciple of the apostles.” In Chapter 5 he describes the behavior of the early Christians living with the unpleasant reality of mistreatment and persecution:
They obey the laws that men make, but their lives are better than the laws. They love all men, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, yet are more alive than ever. They are paupers, but they make many rich. They lack all things, and yet in all things they abound. They are dishonored, yet glory in their dishonor. They are maligned, and yet are vindicated. They are reviled, and yet they bless. They suffer insult, yet they pay respect. They do good, yet are punished with the wicked. When they are punished, they rejoice, as though they were getting more of life. They are attacked by the Jews as Gentiles and are persecuted by the Greeks, yet those who hate them can give no reason for their hatred.
What a great testimony to the faith and steadfastness of the early church! May we resolve to remain true to God and His word no matter how society’s perceptions and actions regarding Christianity change. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life, Revelation 2.10.
— Matthew Allen