what we miss when we don’t gather

Like most churches in our area, we at Capitol City were forced to cancel our services last weekend due to the snowstorm that unleashed its fury upon us. Instead of gathering to sing with, pray with, and encourage one another, we were left to shovel our driveways and pine for warmer weather. The whole experience led me to think about what we missed by not gathering. The answers might seem obvious, but in a day when more and more people are attending “church” only online (or even via app), those answers are still necessary to consider.

So let’s do that. What do we miss when we don’t gather together as the people of God on the Lord’s day?

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the “authority” of culture

Our world is profoundly confused on matters of authority. The Church of Jesus Christ must not be. Jesus tells us, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). Every true disciple of Jesus recognizes – and desires to submit to – the authority of Jesus. But to recognize the authority of Jesus (or Scripture), we must reject the “authority” of culture.

Here are three reasons why Scripture, not culture, must be our authority: (more…)

four answers to prayer

One of the great obstacles to a thriving prayer life is unanswered prayer. I’ve known many believers discouraged from and despairing over their prayer lives because of the belief that God isn’t listening, hearing, or able to answer. What has led them to such a conclusion? The perception of unanswered prayer.

Perception is the key word. When we consider the character and power of God, we should conclude that he answers all prayers. He is able to do anything he desires (Ephesians 3:20), and he desires to give us every good gift (Luke 11:11-13). He never ignores his children, either through indifference or inability. If it seems like he isn’t answering a prayer, even a prayer offered faithfully and persistently for years, the reality is that he is answering – but in a way that is unexpected.

God never ignores his children, either through indifference or inability.

What does answered prayer look like? I see at least four kinds of answers to prayer. (more…)

remorse or repentance?

Every once in a while, one of my children will misbehave. (Shocker.) Often when this happens, I will catch them. Frankly, my kids aren’t very bright about their misbehavior, having not yet learned the art of concealing their rebellion. (“No, dad, I didn’t eat the cake that was on the counter,” said my chocolate-mouthed progeny.) (more…)

“faith alone” is never alone

On Sunday morning at Capitol City, we unpacked the glorious doctrine of justification by faith alone. Many churches like ours will celebrate this truth explicitly at some point this year as we recognize the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

Justification by faith is the absolute heart of the gospel. No work of ours can ever make us right in God’s eyes. Only the perfect, finished work of Christ can. Nor can we add to Christ’s work. The gospel is not good news that says, “Now you must get to work.” It is good news that declares, “It is finished” (John 19:30). We can only accept Christ’s work for us – that’s where faith comes in. It is absolutely essential that we uphold and cherish the wonderful truth of justification by faith alone. (more…)

rush toward repentance

“Carson, you shouldn’t mess with the blinds when you are in bed,” I said to my four-year-old as I straightened the wildly askew blinds above his window.

Through his tears, he said, “I know, but I wanted to see outside.”

It was late, yet some of the neighborhood kids were playing in the yard outside his room. Always inquisitive, Carson wanted to see who was still awake at this late hour – and especially what game they were playing.

“I realize you wanted to see outside, Bud, but its late and you need to be asleep.”

The whole conversation started with his tearful admission to me that he had “broken” his window. Fortunately, tangled and twisted window blinds are easy enough to fix. My heart warmed to my little guy, clearly affected as he was by his misbehavior. Carson knows that he shouldn’t touch the blinds above his window, especially at night when he should be sleeping.

I pressed just a bit, wanting to clarify the rules. “I know you wanted to see outside, but remember that the blinds are fragile. When you are in bed, you need to sleep. And don’t touch the blinds, okay?” (more…)

the “wrong” side of history

“You’re on the wrong side of history.” This rhetorical jab, often thrown at those attempting to maintain a biblical view of marriage and human sexuality even as the surrounding culture moves further from that view, is a handy way to say, “Hurry up. You’re going to lose the debate eventually, so why not give up now?” When the tide of culture is turning, and when the new moral “normal” seems inevitable, this can feel like a foreceful argument, indeed.

But there is one problem: What makes us think that today is the day we should judge the right side or the wrong side of history? Yes, what we view as true and right and good today is different than it was even 100 years ago. But what if our view changes once again? And it will change once again. (more…)