Faith vs. Reason

Dear Church Family,

Does it ever bug you when people talk about the Gospel requiring “blind faith?”

This Sunday, we will look at Acts 17:2. According to Paul’s custom, he went to them and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.


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What Is Unity in the Church?

Dear Church Family,
 

No one would argue about the importance of unity in the local church. But what do we exactly mean by “unity?” This Sunday in Acts 15 we will examine an event that caused “great dissension and debate” (Acts 15:2) in this young church. In preparation, I hope you have time to read this essay: What Is Unity in the Church? Unity is not union. A union is a merger of churches or para-church organizations. Unity is not uniformity. Uniformity insists that all members look alike and act alike. The anthem of uniformity sounds like this:

Believe as I believe—no more, no less

That I am right, and no one else confess.

Feel as I feel; think only as I think;

Eat what I eat, and drink but what I drink.

Look as I look, do always as I do;

Then—and only then—I’ll have fellowship with you.

 

That is uniformity…but that is not unity! On the contrary, the unity of the Church is exciting because it’s built on diversity. God delights in the plethora of differences His human creatures possess. The book of Revelation describes the final gathering of God’s people from “every nation, tribe, and tongue” (Rev. 7:9). Unity is not unanimity. Unanimity requires that all members agree. The Christian Church has a slogan: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.”

  • It calls for unity on the essential things—the core Biblical truths which establish our union with Christ.
  • In non-essentials (not the unimportant, but those things that, if lacking, do not prevent our union with Christ), it calls for liberty so that all might follow their consciences under the Word and Spirit.
  • In all things, however, there must be love “which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

Unity is grace in action

We don’t have to have the same opinions or come to the same conclusions on all matters. We can disagree and still have consensus. We can have different solutions and still be unified—have harmony. Chuck Swindoll writes, “As long as our knowledge is imperfect and our preferences vary and opinions differ, let’s leave a lot of room in areas that are not doctrinal. Diversity and variety provide the Body with a beautiful blend of balance, but a squint-eyed, severe spirit is a killer, strangling its victims with a noose of caustic criticism.” “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.” (Rom. 15:5-7). In the love of the Lamb, Pastor Steven


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Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Dear Friends,

In our current study in the book of Acts, we are examining the first Christian martyr, Stephen. His life and death raise some critical questions like this one:

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Spread the Cure

Imagine a disease that’s terrible and life threatening. Every day on the news you hear stories about people afflicted with the disease. Friends and close family members have already suffered and died. Now imagine that someone developed a cure but only gives very limited access to it. What would people think of that person?

 

Well, you don’t have to guess.


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February Sunday Miniseries–Marriage and Family

New Sunday Miniseries at Mother Lode Church!

The Discovery Channel has a show called: “How It’s Made.”

Here’s their advertising pitch: “People are fascinated with how things work. From incredibly high-tech items like plasma TV’s to remarkably mundane objects that we use every day—toilets, Kleenex, toothpaste—every object has a story and an incredible process behind it.”


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Jesus and Hanukkah

Dear MLC Friends,

 

Yesterday we went to an event called “Chanukah Wonderland” sponsored by Chabad Jewish Community Center of Folsom and billed as “The largest Chanukah Event in the Sacramento Region.”

 

Our three-year-old granddaughter got her faced painted, made a “dreidel” bracelet, and put together an electric menorah. There was a kids’ contest for the best homemade menorah, including one made from tiny vodka bottles!


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Dear God, Bless This Mess!

Not so long ago two of our young grandkids from NC, Layla and Jackson, invaded our peaceful home. As soon as they touched down, we sprinted around the house to kid-proof the lower shelves. It was the first reality check of what was to come: teething cries, stinky diapers, scattered toys, peanut butter smears on white draperies, and piles of clothes and dishes. A week later, I was still pulling Cheerios out of the sofa. Meal time required a fire hose to clean up–well, not quite, but you get my point.


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New Sermon Series

A New Sermon Series Begins Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts is a historical account of how the resurrection of Jesus changes everything through the birth of the First Century church!

In Acts, the gospel expands through weakness, opposition, and persecution. Hostility and suffering did not foil the spread of Jesus’ Gospel; rather, they only fuel it.

Why should we study this wonderful Book of Acts?

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Pay It Forward

Dear MLC Family,


You have a role in God’s plan for the church—the very same one described by the Apostle Paul. After reminding Timothy to never be ashamed of the Gospel, Paul tells him in to “pay it forward.”

2 Timothy 2:1-2—“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (If you missed it, that’s four generations!)

Pay It Forward is the title of a film drama released in 2000 which introduced the term “pay it forward” into the American vocabulary. The film is set in Las Vegas and chronicles 11-year-old Trevor McKinney’s launch of a goodwill movement known as “Pay It Forward.”

When Trevor begins seventh grade, his social studies teacher gives the class an assignment to devise and put into action a plan that will change the world for the better. Trevor’s plan is a charitable program based on the networking of good deeds. He calls his plan “pay it forward,” which means the recipient of a favor does a favor for three others rather than paying the favor back.

Trevor does a favor for three people, asking each of them to “pay the favor forward” by doing favors for three other people, and so on, along a branching tree of random acts of kindness.

Why did Paul challenge Timothy to “pay it forward”? Because, like us, he has a job to do. He was a living beneficiary of Paul’s ministry, a recipient of the Gospel message and, therefore, charged to deliver it to others.

“And what you have heard from me
in the presence of many witnesses
entrust to faithful men
who will be able to teach others also.”

Paul says Timothy should entrust the Gospel message to “faithful” men. That means Timothy has to take the time and commit the energy to invest in these men, check their heart, and nurture them in the faith until they can be trusted to carry the truth of the gospel. In other words, instead of paying Paul back, Timothy must take the gift and “pay it forward.”

The essential first step in becoming a disciple is to receive the Gospel message ourselves. The second part of the process of discipleship is passing what we discovered along to someone else.

We are certainly called to come to church on Sunday morning and be nourished by the word of God, but what happens to our bodies if all we ever do is eat? We become obese and unhealthy, and if we do it long enough—it can kill us!

Likewise, in our spiritual walk, if all we ever do is come and receive, we will be unhealthy and sick. The only way to be healthy is to use what we have been taught, and that means passing it along to others!

We’re not truly a disciple unless we share what we’re learning with others. Get it, then give it away—and experience the joy God longs to give you! It’s the only plan that can truly accomplish Trevor’s assignment—“change the world.”

Blessings,
Pastor Steven


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What Is Jesus’ Top Concern?

Are you like me and never noticed a significant part of Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep?
 

“So (Jesus) told them this parable, saying, ‘What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!”’” Luke 15:3-6


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