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Central Haywood church of Christ

Serving God from the mountains of North Carolina

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A Mind to Work

I have been a Christian for many years now. I know it’s not that long compared to some in the church but I have been a Christian long enough to learn some things.

I have learned that there is no perfect church. Every congregation has its share of problems. I have also learned that even in a good church if you look hard enough and long enough, you can find something to be disappointed about. I have learned that it’s easy to become discouraged even to the point of wanting to give up. I have felt that way numerous times in the churches I have been blessed to work with. I have also learned that if you look hard enough and long enough you will find something to be excited about. I am resolved to look for the good; for the positive, and I hope you will join me in it.

Attitude determines actions! When a person begins with the state of mind that everything is wrong, for them everything is wrong. On the other hand, if you begin with the state of mind that with God anything is possible, you will find that everything is going much better than you dreamed possible.

We can find great satisfaction in whatever church we are a part of if we are focused on the work at hand. We can take a bad situation and make it a good one if you look for the good things, look for solutions, not problems.

Nehemiah 4:6 says,

“So we built the wall. And the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” (ESV)

Nehemiah reminds us that no matter how bad the situation seems it can be improved. No matter how hopeless it might seem, we can be victorious. He faced huge problems as he returned to Jerusalem and found the walls were completely destroyed. In fact, he said they were heaps of rubble. With God’s help, they finished the work and accomplished the task that God had set before them.

We too can overcome whatever task God sets before us because He would not set anything before us that we cannot do. Secondly, we can do it because we are not alone in this work. The all-powerful, God of heaven and earth, is on our side and if we will trust Him we can be victorious. With God’s help and a mind to work there is nothing we can’t accomplish.

Jeff Arnette

A change in perspective.

One of the things I have been giving a lot of thought and prayer to lately is the idea of perspective and faithfulness. I have to admit that it makes me nervous to write this down because this is exactly the kind of thing that gets you labeled as a liberal and we all know how cruel others can be when they don’t approve of your thoughts.

The more I study about God’s grace and His Holy Spirit; the more I study about Jesus Christ, and what he really wants for our lives. The more I am convinced that my perspective on faith has been out of balance. The Old and New Testaments teach me about a God who loves me and wants my love and commitment. He is not a mean kid with a magnifying glass just waiting to burn this little ant of a person. He sees me much differently and I am convinced that I must learn to see Him differently too. He is not holding up a treat (like I do with my dogs), teasing me with the thoughts of something great, all the time knowing that I cannot jump that high. Our God wants us to succeed. He wants us to be at home with him, comfortable, and appreciative of what He is doing for us. He is the epitome of a loving and gracious father.

For most of us (I hope less and less each day), our perspective of faith and faithfulness is based on striving to be good enough. For me personally, my perspective has been (not as much anymore) one of self and works. I have always felt like I had to strive, with all my might, to be the very best Christian, preacher, husband, and father possible. I have worked tirelessly (to the point of burnout, physical and emotional exhaustion) as a Christian and preacher to be the best I could be. It seemed like it was totally up to me and when I failed, and I failed a lot, I had to drag myself to the throne of Jesus begging for another chance to get it right. All the time feeling like something was wrong, like something was missing in my faith.

Suddenly, I realized that the problem was a matter of perspective. I had approached my faith and the church with a flawed idea of God. I thought that if I could be good enough then I would be able to accomplish all these great and noble goals for myself and the church. A new perspective was definitely in order. As long as I continued to approach my faith, my work, and my ministry as something I had to be good enough to accomplish, I would continue to feel like I wasn’t doing enough.

I am sure you can sympathize with me. As Christians we have been taught, maybe conditioned is a better word, over time to believe that faith and Christianity was something we had to work at. Something we had to work hard trying to be good enough. Honestly, sometimes we would do great and sometimes, not so great. When it was all said and done; we walked away feeling like we were not good enough, had not done enough, and just couldn’t measure up. All it accomplished for us was feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

Church, I think it is time for a change in perspective for every one of us. It is time we quit focusing on trying to be something, someone else already accomplished, and focus on living our faith to the best of our ability. We need to accept that as people we are flawed, sinful, and always in need of Jesus Christ. We cannot be good enough to earn our salvation and we must stop trying to feel and act like we can. It is time that we accept that Jesus Christ was the only perfect person to every walk this earth. He died so that we could let go of a way of thinking that demanded more of us that we are capable of achieving.

The Gospel is good news because He stepped up and did what we could never do; be good enough. It is good news because I can accept his grace and mercy; striving to live to the best of my ability in appreciation for what he has already accomplished.

The change of perspective that I am talking about is that we are free to live, laugh and love, and fail as Christians because Jesus already accomplished being good enough. I don’t have to strive to be good enough anymore. Jesus sets us free from the works mentality and frees us to live in gratitude and thankfulness. We are free to revel in what He has already done; to revel in the love and grace of a God who loves us.

I am not a Christian because I got it right. I am a Christian because of Jesus. I don’t have to work to be good enough but I am free to work because of what has already been accomplished.

It’s time for a change in perspective.

 

 

How much does it cost?

Matt. 16:24-28

This is a question that we often ask. We ask it whenever we are shopping for something we want. I did this just the other day while at Goodwill. I was looking at the dress pants and found several nice pairs of dress pants. After looking at the pants and deciding that I would like to have them. I asked that all too familiar question, “How much does it cost?”

In life and in Christianity, this is an important question to ask. In Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus reminds us of the cost of following him. Giving up on our desires and taking up the cause of Christ is a price we must be willing to pay. Jesus even took this so far as to say we must be willing to give up our lives for him.

Most of us would agree that at Goodwill we are not paying much for the items there. Luckily for me those pants were only $3.75 a pair. We spend great amounts of time trying to find the best bargain we can. However, I am afraid that we are doing this to Christianity as well.

Most of us like the idea of being a Christian but we don’t want to spend much of our time, effort, or money to do it. We are so concerned that it might take more than we are willing to give that we often shortchange being Christians.

Jesus understood that this would be the case with people and ask the question, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Or “What shall a man give in return for his soul?” Jesus has promised that it would be worth the cost saying that each person will be repaid for what they have put into the Christian life. Not to mention that we gain our souls for eternity by following him.

How much does it cost is a great question to ask. Perhaps this is the question that we should ask next time we consider doing something we know is sinful. Is it really worth what it will cost me?

 

 

 

Did You Know?

That the Bible nowhere says, “Accept Jesus as your personal Savior?”

That the “Rapture” is not mentioned once in the Bible?

That no one in the N.T. was ever told to “Ask Jesus into your heart” in answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

That every verse in the New Testament in which baptism and salvation appear together everyone lists baptism prior to salvation?

That no where in the New Testament is there a command or example for a baby to be baptized?

That “faith only” is mentioned just once in the Bible, and then it says, “not by faith only” (James 2:24)?

That Peter was not a pope and that he had a wife (Matthew 8:14)?

That there is no example or command in the Bible for preachers to wear special robes, clothes, or to have special titles?

That everyone that has put Christ on in baptism is a “saint” (Ephesians 3:8; 4:12; 5:3; 6:16; Philippians 1:1; 4:2)?

That there is nothing in the Bible mentioning or even suggesting that you can be brought out of or prayed out of purgatory?

That denominational churches did not exist in the first century?

That you can be saved without ever “joining” a denominational church?

Writing Your Story

No matter what else you are doing-
from cradle days through the end-
You’re writing your life’s secret story;
each day sees another page penned.
Each month ends a thirty-page chapter,
each year means the end of a part;
And never an act is misstated,
never a wish from the heart.
Each day when you wake the book opens,
revealing a page clean and white.
What thoughts and what words and what actions
will cover its surface by night?
God leaves that to you-you’re the writer,
and never one word shall grow dim
‘Til someday you write the word, “finis”
and give your life book to Him.

– Author Unknown

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