He Wants to Build What?

You are likely familiar with the quote from Jesus: “on this rock I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18) and, of course, we all know what a church is. But what if you were in that group, nearly 2000 years ago, that first heard Jesus say it? What would you have thought he meant? What expectations would he have raised? Hearing Jesus’ promise through the ears of his first hearers gives us a new and helpful perspective.

As I said, we all know what a church is. We hear the word church and think of the white steepled building we pass on the freeway and the stained glass adorned brick building downtown. Not that we are focused on the building. We are focused on the people that meet there, their creed, and their religious affiliation. That is what the word means to us in our society.

But, just as Jesus certainly was not talking about building a physical structure, neither was he speaking of some sect or denomination as we think of church today. When Jesus said “church” his disciples did not think of a religious group that meets down the road. That’s our interpretation. Their interpretation would have been based on their experience of the word. In the Greek and Hebrew languages, it stresses the idea of a group called together for some specific purpose. You can look at Acts 19 where the same word is used of the Ephesian townspeople assembling, both as an angry mob and as a legal forum (vs. 32, 39, 41). The word in these instances is translated “assembly” rather than “church” because this was certainly not a church!

So Jesus’ phrase, “I will build my church,” is synonymous with “I will call together an assembly.” And that fits the religious background of the Jews. The prophets had often spoken of the time to come when God would make a great assembly. Frequently the Lord mentioned gathering Israelites back from captivity (e.g., Isaiah 11:11-12). He also spoke of gathering “yet others to him” (Isaiah 56:8) and making a people for himself where there once was “not my people” (Hosea 1:10, cf. Romans 9:25-26 and 1 Peter 2:9-10). So the Jews were expecting a Messiah that would gather people from all nations into the house of the Lord (Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:2).

That gives me a different way to look at the word church. Yes, I know that it still has the meaning of a religious institution or even a religious meeting place to those of the society around us. But I also know that Jesus and his apostles who carried his message to the world were trying to build a very special entity: a gathering of all who love God and accept their place as his people in submission to him. Jesus built one gathering for one people who will disregard all worldly barriers to fellowship and harmony.


God Has Spoken

ImageOften when we use those words, “God has spoken,” we are trying to correct someone. That can bring out negative emotions and stifle spirituality.

But there is another way to take it. It is encouraging to know that God will speak when we need direction and guidance in our lives. When we simply don’t know hos to go on, God has something to say that will help.

No, he won’t tell you what you did wrong putting your child’s new toy together. But he will give you instructions for how to proceed when your life seems to have hit a dead end, when life’s road seems to be too rocky or steep,and when there are too many twists and turns to believe you can go it alone safely.

Just as Moses knew the Israelites could turn to the Lord when facing uncertainty in their journey and David knew he could turn to the Lord when faced with advancing enemies, we can turn to God’s Word and find instruction for our lives.

If you aren’t familiar enough with God’s Word to know where to find the help you need, ask someone that has spent time with it. She or he will gladly help you find God’s message for your life.


Is Easter Really Over?

Read this new article at Brentwood Church of Christ website.

Truth About Origins Seminar

The Truth About Origins
presenter: Dr. Brad Harrub

at the Ripon Church of Christ building
sponsored by the Ripon Church of Christ and Focus Press
600 W. Milgeo Ave.
Ripon CA 95366

March 23-25, 2012
Friday 7 pm
Saturday 10 am, 11 am, lunch provided, 1 pm
Sunday 9 am, 10 am

“In this powerful seminar, Dr. Brad Harrub will peel back the curtain of psuedo-science and challenge your worldview. Make plans now to join us.

“Dr. Harrub currently serves as the Executive Directory of Focus Press. In addition, he is the co-editor of Think magazine and co-host of the television show ‘Think About It.’ He earned a doctorate in Anatomy and Neurobiology from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Harrub is the author of Convicted: A Scientist Examines the Evidence for Christianity, Heart of the Matter and Dissecting the Truth. He has also coauthored The Truth About Human Origins and Matters of Life and Death. He was an invited speaker to the International Conference on Creationism and has appeared on the television show ‘Origins.'”

Before and After Photos

Christmas Day Thoughts

Any of you who have spent long years in the churches of Christ, as I have, likely have the same background regarding Christmas. Christmas was rarely brought up within the worship or planning of the church. This is due to the intent of our churches to “speak where the Bible speaks” and, as we know, the Bible doesn’t suggest any type of Christmas observance.

But it does record many facts about the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Certainly there are reasons these facts are recorded and it is good for us to occasionally review them.

It is also good to have lessons and discussion on topics that are trending in the world around us. What topic is more on people’s minds this time of year than the different facets of Christmas, both Biblical (I hear the expert is Linus from the Peanuts comic strip) and materialistic (aren’t HD TVs the reason for the season?).

I have said all this to explain how the sermon topics over the last month have been selected. First we dealt with the idea of gifts. Everyone was in the gift planning and buying mode at that time. The Lord instructs us to “desire the higher gifts” so we need to know what those are. Then we dealt with the idea of the name Immanuel, the prophesied name that means “God with us.” God certainly came into the world that night 2014 years ago, but he promised also to “be with you to the end of the age.” Therefore “God with us” (Immanuel) is true today as much as it was then. Last week we dealt with joy. That is a much misunderstood theme of the year-end holidays and therefore a much-needed topic for teaching.

Today’s topic approaches the birth of Christ from a very familiar one, but one that perhaps is not expected on a day like today, that is, on Dec. 25.  The premise of today’s sermon is illustrated by one of the newer Christmas carols, “Who Would Send a Baby?”  When you think of why Jesus came into the world, you have to wonder why he would come the way he did.

What’s that? You don’t know why I would say such a thing? Have you read Jesus’ words in Luke 19:10? “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” How was a baby expected to carry out such a mission? Well, that’s where we are starting this morning as a sermon subject. Why not come along and hear the rest of the story? We hope to see you at the Brentwood Church of Christ building at the corner of Walnut and Balfour in Brentwood CA. Our worship assembly begins at 10:45 a.m.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

    “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” We are all familiar with the song and we know that most people agree: the year-ending holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year!

    But you might be one of the folks for which it is not true. Perhaps this is due to other, negative anniversaries falling during this time. Perhaps you are affected by disappointments of past Christmases. Perhaps current events overshadow the happiness that otherwise would surround you.

    If this is you, please don’t worry. We all need to realize that life goes on. The same thing will be true of birthdays, graduations, etc. The fact that a holiday or other event arrives does not magically remove daily needs, negative memories, or all the miscommunication that sometimes occurs. With the faster pace of life today, these things are more and more left unattended. True communication is assumed rather than given time to develop. Important feelings and necessary meditations have been suppressed by time constraints. These misunderstandings and frustrations are likely to pop up to ruin what we hope would be a festive time.

    What to do? We certainly don’t like it this way! But it may be that this season is for dealing with that other priority so that, come spring, or some holiday, or some anniversary in 2012, we will be able to join in the festivities without putting on a false front. How can we deal with an absence of holiday cheer? There are so many different reasons for its absence that we could never list all the ways we might deal with it, but here are a few:

  • Maybe you need to take the emphasis off gift spending so you can instead focus on why you buy the gifts. You might discover that someone else’s expectation is driving you rather than your own true wishes. You might realize that there is a much better way to show the love and appreciation that you thought you were showing with a purchased gift.
  • Maybe you need to stop building up expectations of what others will do and accept that family member for who and what they are. You may be unable to know what frustrations or other obstacles prevent them from reaching the expectations you have created in your mind.
  • Maybe you need to let past losses be a part of today’s joys; remember the traditions, recreate (with realistic expectations) the experiences for others, accomplish today the things that person would have done in the past (if you don’t have their skills, substitute another worthy activity in their memory/honor).
    As I already wrote, these are just examples of what some people might need to do to get past holiday doldrums. Hopefully it will get you thinking about your situation and you will be able to enjoy what is good in your life right now without any gloom from Christmases past, present, or yet to come.