worship

...From the Associate Pastor

Light Shine

 

Matthew 5:14-16

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14  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

 

What does it mean to be the ‘light of the world”?

 

            A light allows us to see, it reveals the truths which lie around us as we walk through life. If we attempt to walk through an unfamiliar place in complete darkness we are sure to scrape our shins, stumble over an unseen object and possibly even fall off a cliff to our death below. We learn to trust our eyes to guide us as we walk through new areas, but our eyes require a light source to be able to see. In these verses, Jesus uses this depiction of physical light being necessary for sight as a metaphor for the spiritual reality. He is pointing to the fact that the world is shrouded in spiritual darkness because of sin causing separation from God. In the same way that we need a physical light source to navigate this earth, we must have a spiritual light source to guide our spiritual existence. In John 8:12 Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus is the spiritual light source that reveals all truth and makes a way for us to see and know God. He came into the darkness of the world to bring light and life to all people. Those who respond to His light by submitting themselves to be bondservants of His are given life. They are then sent out into the world with His light and therefore become the very light of the world.

 

What is this spiritual “light”?

 

            In essence, the spiritual light is Christ Himself. How He shines out through us is manifested in various ways. In Ephesians 2:8-10 we see a brief discourse which reveals that as we have been saved (made the light of Christ) by grace through faith so we must work out our salvation (our lightness) by doing the good works prepared for us by God. Another way that Christ is shone brightly is by righteousness. Paul shares in Philippians 3 how this actually works out. Righteousness is not a set of actions to be done or rules to be followed to appear a certain way but a state of being approved and cleansed by Christ and thereby being made right with God. This cannot happen in any way apart from faith in Christ and surrendering all in complete reliance on Him.

 

How do you "let your light shine"?

 

            Let us think about lights in the physical world. Where are they usually placed? We have light poles, ceiling lights, bedside lamps, reading lights, head lamps, flashlights, vehicle headlights… etc. There are a few commonalities about the placement of these various light sources. They all shed light on something, reveal something that was previously covered, and are terribly conspicuous. Every time you walk into a room with a light switched on it is plain to see what the contents of the room are, the fact that light is shining, and the source of said light. Following Jesus’ corollary, we can understand how we should let our light shine. Our life should manifest the spiritual light of Christ within us clear and bright. When people come into our space they should immediately be aware of the light of Christ and its source (you). Not only that, but the light of Christ also reveals the sinfulness, evils, and wrongs that are everywhere around it. In order to let your light shine it is imperative to be overflowing with joy in the Lord and confident in the gospel, boldly living out the life God had prepared for you. Your life in Christ should be conspicuous, not hidden, revelatory, not concealing sin, and actively shining, not switched off or covered.

 

Go shine  :) 

 

 

 

... from the Pastor

THE DISTRESSING TREND AFFECTING CHURCHES TODAY

Church attendance is declining in US culture, and this tendency affects churches of every denomination. This decline is all the more distressing because the issue is not people dropping out of church but rather members attending less frequently. Thom Rainer explained: 

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The number one reason for the decline in church attendance is that members attend with less frequency than they did just a few years ago. Allow me to explain. If the frequency of attendance changes, then attendance will respond accordingly. For example, if 200 members attend every week the average attendance is, obviously, 200. But if one-half of those members miss only one out of four weeks, the attendance drops to 175.(1)

This distressing trend impacts all facets of church negatively, but the true losers are the members who skip. What do these members lose?

1. They lose the joy of regular corporate worship. Paul insists that only when the saints gather together do they truly understand the love of Christ: “that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be able to be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:17b-19, NKJV). Regular corporate worship nourishes the soul and strengthens the heart in the daily walk with God. We need corporate worship; such worship supplies a facet of knowing God that personal intimacy alone cannot provide.

2. They lose the accountability of brothers and sisters. The body provides accountability that prevents all of us from becoming “Lone Ranger” Christians. The New Testament records over 50 “one another” commands; these cannot be practiced in a vacuum. The book of Proverbs warns, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment” (Prov. 18:1). Brothers and sisters hold me accountable, pray for me in my weakness, bless me by their strengths, and find support from me as I exercise my gifts toward them and in the body. The absent church member does not know who’s hurting and cannot share either hurts or joys. The body loses.

3. They lose the regular diet of hearing the Word preached. Nothing discourages a pastor more than preparing and preaching a message from the Word anointed by the Spirit to empty pews. Adding insult to this injury, sometimes members who missed the service will come the very next week with a “problem” that the sermon they missed answered. God’s Word is the true antidote to discouragement, temptation, and fear (among a host of other battles). When believers forfeit their opportunity to hear the Word of God, they invite for themselves battles that they are ill-equipped to fight. Regular, private reading of the Word is critical for daily growth, but God exalts the preaching of the Word among the people of God as essential for spiritual health and growth (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

4. They teach their children what they value. The main reason children drop out of church is not the lack of apologetics or doctrinal training they receive; rather, children abandon church because their parents teach them—by their lives—that it’s not important. Ministry Best Practices lists reasons why kids abandon the faith, and offers this gem as reason 4: “Their parents are hypocrites and come across as ‘softly-committed-but-seemingly-good- church-folks’ for many years. The kids see that there is no real joy, no real integrity to their parents’ faith, so they either a) reject the church and never come to faith, or b) they ditch the church for a while and journey out to find a more authentic expression of their faith.”(2) Either parents neglect the house of God, or they invalidate during the week by their lives what they profess on Sunday; both of these failures train their children that Jesus is just not that important. Some parents even let their children decide if they will go to church. On no other subject do parents give their children a say in the habits of life—not school, not eating, not even brushing teeth—yet parents give to children the decision over church attendance. This action alone reinforces to children that parents don’t consider it in any way essential.

5. They lose the reward of regular service to others in the body. One of God’s promises to His people is the possibility of future reward; reward is based on using what you have for the glory of God. Every time the body assembles, opportunities exist for believers to use their gifts, talents, time, and finances to bless and help others. When believers attend one or two services in the month, they forsake those opportunities, robbing others of needed blessings and robbing themselves of future reward. Infrequent attenders lose the impact their presence, service, and encouragement offer to others in the body.

6. They lose the effectiveness of gifts exercised and resources employed in the kingdom. Churches are kingdom entities; every church is an outpost for the kingdom of God, displaying His glory and ministering in His name. When believers fail to attend, they diminish their kingdom impact; their witness to the lost may be neutralized, and their gifts and resources may be shelved. One of Jesus’ warnings comes to the servant who buries the talent entrusted to him rather than using it in the public forum. How many believers miss the privilege of investing in the lives of others for the King’s sake because they won’t make the time to be with God’s people regularly?

Declining attendance at its heart is a spiritual problem of kingdom priorities. This article is a plea to every believer to invest fully in the kingdom of God through his or her local church. In a day of busyness in lesser things and apathy over the main thing, God’s people ought to lead the way to set their priority and first love on God and His people—the local church where He has placed them to use their gifts, build up others, serve the body, and worship Him in spirit and in truth.


1 Thom Rainer, “The Number One Reason for the Decline in Church Attendance and Five Ways to Address It,” The Christian Post, August 23, 2013, https://www.christianpost.com/news/the- number-one-reason-for-the-decline-in-church-attendance-and-five-ways-to-address- it-102882/ (accessed October 25, 2017).

2 “Why Do Kids Leave the Church?” Ministry Best Practices, http://www.ministrybestpractices.com/2012/08/why-do-kids-leave-church.html (accessed October 25, 2017), emphasis in original.