Dear Church Family,
I was recently around a group of Christians who were sharing their experiences in the local church and my heart broke to hear some of the things that were being said about “the bride of Christ”. You see that is who the church is. Ephesians 5:25-27 helps us understand the love relationship between Jesus and his bride.
Can I just say that when I heard these Christians “dumping” on the church it upset me. Yes, I know that the church is not perfect and that there are Christians who are apart of the church that sin and bring shame on the name of Christ. But that is not true of all churches or Christians. That does not give anyone the right to denigrate the bride of Christ.
People are normally very careful about what they say about a man’s wife because no good husband would tolerate his bride being disrespected by the speech of someone. Often people claim to love Jesus but reject, demean, or minimize his bride. In no other sphere of life do we walk away from an institution because of the presence of some hypocrites within that institution. You still go to work with hypocrites, You still attend ball games with hypocrites, you still shop with hypocrites, you still go to the hospital with hypocrites. But Satan loves when he can get people to run down the bride of Christ, especially if they are Christians who are doing it. It matters what we hold in our hearts toward the church. Our words, actions, and attitudes matter. Do not let a bad experience in church turn you away from the special nature of the church. We need the church to commune together, to learn together, to grow together, and to serve together!
David Mathis writes in his article, Do You Insult Your Savior’s Bride these words…“Jesus chose his wife before the foundation of the world. He cherishes her with energy and attentiveness. He cleanses her and prepares to present her pure and beautiful to himself. And he covenants to be hers, and with her, for all eternity. The Lord of heaven loves his bride. Does that not make you love her all the more? Does that not make you want to keep from carelessly speaking ill of her?”
“We do not whitewash the flaws of particular church leaders, or particular tendencies in sinful hearts. We do not cover for evil. Nor do we broad-brush the church, pretending to see and know flaws that are beyond our vantage nationwide, not to mention worldwide, and across the ages. And we don’t pretend the church is yet fully cleansed. Christ is still working on her. When tempted to dump on “the church,” we who claim Christ will do well to remember his perspective, and his heart, and to speak with the grace and truth of our Savior toward his bride.”
As I was in that group of Christians I did say a few things to remind them of some of the truths shared in this article. I believe some were open to hear what I shared, but still others I believe felt content to hold Christ’s bride in contempt. That is sad, and scary. May God protect our hearts and see that Christ’s church is to be loved, even in it’s unfinished and imperfect state. Let’s love the church. Let’s invest in the church, and let’s honor the bride of Christ out of the love and respect that we have for the bridegroom!!
I love you and I love being your pastor
Dear Church Family,
A few weeks ago, I mentioned in one of my sermons the reality of change during the Christmas season. Now, of course, I am not referring to the true meaning of Christmas; that never changes! But as we get older, Christmas changes in the ways in which we celebrate it, the people that we get to be with, the places in which we go, and even the foods in which we eat.
I loved celebrating Christmas as a child with my family that I grew up in. It wasn’t because of the amount of presents I received, but it was because of the amount of love
that my parents expressed to their children. They loved us enough to always remind us of the true meaning of Christmas; they loved us enough to help us see the value of giving to others, not just receiving for ourselves; and they loved us enough to demonstrate before our eyes kindness and thoughtfulness to others. As a child, I celebrated Christmas with my mom and dad and my siblings, but that has changed.
I am not able to be with my parents any longer at Christmas. They are with the Lord. Yes, I miss them, but I do not wish they were still with me. They have completed their race and they are resting in the presence of Jesus. But God is so good to me that He has given me new people to be with to celebrate Christmas. When I was a child, I always hoped that I would find a girl to marry one day and spend the rest of my life with. I hoped there would be a day that I would have kids. And as God gave me a wife and children, I prayed that one day my children would find spouses to marry and have children of their own. God has done all of that for me!!! I now get to celebrate Christmas with all these people in my family.
I am thankful for God’s kindness to me, but I do know that there are still times of loneliness and missing those that you cannot be with. My oldest son, daughter-in-law, and one of my grandchildren are not able to be with us for Christmas. I miss them, but this is part of the changes that take place in life that are heightened in our lives during the Christmas season. So, whether there are some of your loved ones who are no longer with you or are maybe on the other side of the world, just know that Christmas does change, but the real meaning of Christmas never does. Our Savior came to earth, took on flesh, saved us from our sin, and in that gives us a future and a hope. Let’s remember that this Christmas season! Let’s not focus on the change, or our loss. Let’s thank God for our future and hope that we have for all of eternity and for the new year to come in 2023!!!
I love you and I love being your pastor