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Monthly Newsletter August 2003


 


The Pastor’s Pen  

"No man is an island unto himself." An old saying with biblical roots, agreeing with Paul who said, "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone"(Rom. 14:7, NIV). He went on to explain how the relational aspect of Christian living has Christ Jesus as its hub(verse 8): "If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."

Isolationism has no place in the human family, let alone in the Christian family. (The technical definition of isolationism is "a policy of remaining apart from the political affairs of other countries" I'm taking the liberty of using the word as "a policy of remaining apart from others in a social and cultural sense.) We should be relating to other people. In the church, we need the fellowship and camaraderie. This is also affirmed in the Scripture: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one anotherñ and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV).

But isolationism isn't the same as individuality. Number four of the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines the latter as "the quality or state of existing as an individual; . . . distinct existence" Also: "the tendency to pursue one's course with marked independence or self-reliance" I would add: it is the quality of being your own person, your own individualñin the sense of being a person "who thinks for himself" (as the 50's Viceroy ad line went). To have one's own originality and identity. Fine tuning it even more: to take individual, independent responsibility for oneself. In this sense, the words of Paul to the church at Philippi come to mind: Philippians 2:12c (KJV), "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" Of course, the context needs to be studied to get the whole picture, but the gist of the point is that one's conversion should result in the believer having a sense of obligation to obey Jesus as Lord. Hence, working out salvation does not mean working for salvation, but making their individual salvation operational. Not only that, they were not to depend totally on Paul, nor we on spiritual leaders, but each must work out their own spiritual growth.

None of this is intended to undermine or diminish spiritual leaders and leadership. God gave such to the church for its overall growth in the faith (Eph. 4). Most people need teaching and training in spiritual matters. But personal responsibility is intrinsic to this teaching. In Luke's writings he tells us how "the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11, NIV) Three facts stand out here: (1) They were being taught by a minister of the Gospel; (2) they were eager for the teaching; (3) they took individual responsibility for checking out what they were taught. That verse is still a pivotal principle for today.
Let's face it: most of us are opinionated to the point that when we ask for someone else's opinion we probably just want to know if they are in our camp. One reason for this closed-mind approach is that we have had bad experiences of being conned, of having leaders of strong personality persuade us and manipulate us. This is especially unsettling in the area of church and spiritual matters. "Once burned, twice shy."

It is for this reason that Jesus, through the pen of the Apostle John, would spike this warning within one of his exhortations to the seven churches of Asia. "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:11, KJV) Yes, unscrupulous men can "take your crown" At least they can be instrumental in your failure. How did Jesus put it to the Pharisees? "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are" (Matt. 23:14-15, NIV).

Cling to your individuality when it comes to taking a stand in matters of principle, in points of truth. Be willing to re-examine teachings, but don't ever be a pushover. A few principles:

Ask God for wisdom: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5, NIV)

Withhold judgement until you examine the matter: "Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil" (I Thess. 5:19-22)

Be tolerant, yet be firm, after you have analyzed the teaching thoroughly. If you disagree, don't show "contempt" for the source, just follow your conscience and "Hold on to the good" (Ibid) In the context of our earlier reference from Romans 14, especially verses 10-23, Paul gives this advice: "You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. . . . each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. . . . Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. . . "

At times, when you have a different opinion, you might keep it to yourself. Also from the Romans 14 passage: "So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. . . "

Focus on the matters that are conducive to unity: continuing in Romans, chapter 15:1-7 with this principle of tolerance and love: ". . . May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."

There are times, however, when destructive doctrines have to be dealt with. The problem is that sometimes we don't know whether a strong opinion proffered is heresy or not. The Apostle Peter gave this advice to the early church: "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought themñbringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute" (2 Peter 2:1-2).

"The way of truth" The criteria must always be based on Truth. The aging Apostle John was focused on truth after the early church had been in existence for approximately sixty years. Here are a few of his thoughts excerpted from 2 & 3 John: "It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. . . . Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. . . . Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. . . . It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"

—Jerry McClenagan, Elder / Editor


Hello Friends!

"Happy is the man who does not lose faith in Me" (Matthew 11:6).

As John the Baptist traversed Jordan proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, the people asked him for direction: "What must we do then?" (Lk. 3:10).

That question was not just for the first century. It is timeless and ever relevant. Is it not true that each of us wants to know all there is to know about who we are, where we're going, what we ought to be doing with our lives?

James points out that faith is a lifestyle, not a feeling: if good works do not spring from it, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17.) He goes even further by declaring, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). James seems to be saying that if we claim to have faith, we can't expect anyone to believe us without proof or evidenceñevidence that comes by demonstrating our faith through the life we live. In other words, not by our words but through our works of sharing and healing and reconciling.

The Apostle Paul speaks of the "Koinonia" in his epistles and John. In his first letter, he uses the word "Koinonia" four times (I Jn 1:3-7). John addresses sharing the Love of God with others through this life-sharing "Koinonia" or "Community of Unselfish Love," a theme that runs throughout the New Testament. What exactly is "Koinonia"? The literal translation is "fellowship" Interestingly enough, the Greek word for fellowship is "generosity."

Paul wrote that being part of the "Koinonia" or "Fellowship" is like being a member of a body. When one part hurts, the whole body suffers. When that part is feeling better, the whole body feels better. "Koinonia" is a fellowship of Christ-like love motivated only by a desire for the good of the beloved. [Note sermon tape of 7/26/03 by J. Mc.: "The Power of Koinonia"]

To demonstrate that we hold faith, we must be active sharers in the Christian "Fellowship of Generosity. Otherwise, it is hypocrisy to say to another, "Be warmed and filled, my needy friend," and then not help that person. Here is the entire statement from James 2:13-18: "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked,and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

So let us never forget our calling into Christ's community of selfless love, a fellowship of self-transcendence that reflects our God in whose image we were created. We are a part of the Body of Christ; when one of us hurts, let us comfort her with the balm of love; when one of us suffers, let us bring the solace of soothing comfort; when one of us is discouraged, let us bring the cheer of Christian camaraderie; when one of us is lonely, let us walk in, embrace him and remind him that he is never truly alone. We must never turn away from a brother or sister in need.

Our God and our brethren are with us always. Praise be to God!

In the service of our Lord,
Jeff Booth


Announcements

Happy Birthday!

  • Ken Hamilton 8/09
  • Reba Bailey 8/10

Happy Anniversary!

  • Candace & James Sellers 8/09
  • Ken & Patricia Hamilton 8/15
  • Joe & Jody Kirkpatrick 8/15
  • Jerry & Martha McClenagan 8/26

Prayer Requests

James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

  • Vickie Crevoi of Santa Fe, New Mexico, sister of Linda Booth, has Chronic Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Fern Rankin had kidney and malignant tumor removed and is presently in BSA Hospice undergoing radiation treatments.
  • Carrie McLenan has kidney failure that requires her to have weekly dialysis.
  • Cindy Hogman has been diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer and her chances for survival are very slim.
  • Robin Logar has cancer and requests your prayers.
  • Sam Kiser, friend of Jeff & Linda Booth, has terminal multiple myloma cancer.
  • Dollie Meil asks for continued prayer to be healed of cerebral palsy. tc "Dollie Meil asks for continued prayer to be healed of cerebral palsy. "
  • Kenny Crooks, from Trout Run, PA has inoperable pancreatic cancer; undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Charlie Khoeler (request by John Stickel) suffered stroke.
  • Hank Unruh (request by John Stickel) battling cancer.

If you are on the prayer list or know anyone on our prayer list, please notify Jeff Booth of any changes or healings so we can update all those praying for the above individuals.


From the Pastor's Desk

Holy Days

  • Feast of Trumpets—October 4th
  • Day of Atonement—October 13th
  • Pikes Peak
    Festival of Tabernacles
    October 11th-18th
    Time is running out . . .
    Need to register before September 10th to get special rate. So make your Festival reservations now at the Wyndham at 719-260-1800. Be sure to ask for the Christian Church of God's Festival rate.

Questions: Contact Jeff Booth via this web site.


Outreach

A pat on the back to numerous members reaching out in the community, providing some sunshine to those in need, serving in Christ's name in various ways: VA Hospital, Rotary programs, Friends of the Library, Food Bank, nursing home music, etc.. . . "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Col. 3:17, KJV)

Appreciation for our Tape Outreach

Dear Jeff & gang!

I really appreciate the tapes of the weekly services. Usually six are in each package. I listen to them while commuting one hour each way, so the tapes last about three days. I'm sorry for not having written a proper thank you to you and Jerry and Joe, but I receive the tapes because of your commitment to continue to share God's Word openly with all that desire to follow after sound doctrine and teaching.

I know at times it may seem a thankless task and one does tire of volunteering so much effort to . . . so few. But, Jeff, you and Linda do know it is a pleasure to God to receive such a gift of your time and energy. Itís also a pleasure to us as well.

Again, thank you to all involved.

In Christ and brotherly love,
Ben Morris
McKinney, Texas


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