Below you you will find some past and present articles from our church bulletin. Bookmark this page as new content will be added often.
By Cliff Sabroe
There has been a great deal of discussion lately about sexual harassment and assault. Hopefully, this discussion will result in a greater awareness of what is and what is not appropriate behavior. Because of this discussion, many are asking “what does God say?” Although the Bible does not use the phrase “sexual harassment”, there are some passages that speak to the topic. Please observe a few:
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Eph. 5:4)
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude” (1 Cor. 13:4)
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3-4)
“For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Rom. 13:9)
In all of these passages it is very clear that Christian should live a pure life and treat others with love and kindness.
One book of the Bible that very clear about treating the opposite sex in a godly way is 1 Timothy. 1st Timothy is a letter from an experienced older preacher (Paul) to a young single preacher by the name of Timothy. Timothy is serving the church in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was noted for immorality and the worship of the fertility goddess Diana (which included erotic behavior and ceremonial prostitution).
One would imagine that in a community like Ephesus, sexual harassment and impurity was commonplace. Timothy, however, is encouraged to live differently. He is told to not let “anyone look down upon” his youth and that he should be an example of “purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). When dealing with his congregants, he is encouraged to “treat the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2). He should not view the women as objects of lust, but instead as “mothers” and “sisters”.
A godly son would not sexual harass their mother, but instead would respect her. Likewise, a godly brother would protect and cherish his sister. The solution to sexual harassment is to view each-other as family. You do not harass or exploit family. Family is to be loved and protected.
The book of Song of Solomon may also speak to the idea of loving and protecting family. Although the book is a love song between as husband and wife, there is an interesting scene in chapter 8 that reads:
We have a little sister, and she has not yet reached maturity. What will we do for our sister to prepare her form her engagement? If she’s a wall, on her we will build a battlement of silver. If she’s a door, we will enclose her with planks of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8-9)
The imagery is of older brothers protecting the sexual purity of their young sister until marriage. Despite the fact that this passage is highly poetic, the idea of brothers protecting sisters is the expected behavior. Timothy was to treat women as sisters, and according to the Song of Solomon, sisters should be loved and protected, not harassed and exploited.
We are all children of the same Creator. All people, young or old, male or female were made in the image of God. All people should be treated with love, kindness and respect. All people should be treated like family.
Is a Christian supposed to follow all of the Old Testament today?
- By Cliff Sabroe
Whether or not a rule is “strange” is a matter of perception. In my house, my children are not allowed to eat in the living room. Children often spill, my living room has a large rug in it, so it is very likely that my carpet would end up stained. A single man, living alone might view this rule as strange, but his perceptions are different because he does not have children, nor is he aware of the messes they often make.
I will admit, that to the modern reader, many of the laws of the Old Testament seem strange, especially since so many of them do not have an equivalent in the New. God gave Israel laws about sacrifice, what food to eat, what to do with sick people, what clothes to wear, how not to trim your beard, even when and when not to have sexual relations. Many of these rules are very specific while others are more broad.
The Purpose of the Laws of Leviticus
Understand that all the laws given in Leviticus (and other books of law) were given specifically to the Israelites, for a specific purpose at a specific time. As for “why are there so many strange laws?”, I believe the answer is found in (Leviticus 20:22-26).
‘You are therefore to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out. ‘Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.‘Hence I have said to you, “You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the LORD your God, who has separated you from the peoples. You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean. Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.
God wanted Israel to be holy and pure. He wanted them to be completely different from the extremely evil pagan nations around them. Some of the laws promoted good health, some kept them from immoral practices, others taught lessons about holiness and others prevented them from doing anything that resembled an idolatrous practice. There are some laws that are hard to understand, but remember, the reason that particular law was given, was to keep them “set apart” as God’s holy people.
What about the Other Old Testament Laws?
Notice what the book of Galatians states:
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:23-26).
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).
In the current Christian age, we are not subject to the requirements of the Old Law. The Old Law was only for a specific people (The Jews), for a specific purpose (To prepare the way for Jesus). Now, all people, (Jew are Gentile) are accountable to the teachings of Christ and His Apostles.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1-2)
"He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. (John 12:28)Final Thoughts
The Old Testament should still be studied, but with the understanding that it is not a law we will be judged by.
(Romans 15:4)For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
A friend of mine clearly remembers the summer he lost his imagination. He was eleven years old, a distracted fifth grader who yearned for the last days of school so he could return full-time to the fields of play. Memories of the previous summer spurred him in, long days spent lying on his belly in the backyard, racing miniature cars and trucks with his friends. When the last bell of the school year rang, he ran home to get everything ready, and the next morning he hauled it all outside. With the early sun heating up behind his back, he sat down in his special place surrounded by special toys and waited for the delicious feeling to creep over him, but nothing happened. He picked up his favorite truck and ran its wheels over the ground. “Rrrrrr!” he roared, as he had done so many times before, but it was not the sound of an engine this time. It was the sound of a boy’s voice pretending to b'e an engine, he was suddenly self-conscious. One by one he tried all of his old tricks, but none of them worked. The bridge to his old world was gone. He no longer had access to it, and the lost opened up a hollow place inside of him. He looked at his toys and saw what he had never seen before: they were small and cheap, a child’s toys. It had all been a silly game. Standing up, he dusted himself off and left the fossils of his dream lying in the yard (Taylor, The Preaching Life. pg.38).
Have you lost your imagination? It’s easy to do. We get stuck in a rut and we forget to dream. Our faith task is an imaginative one. This does not mean a fictional or fanciful task, but one in which we imagine great results with limitless possibilities. As God’s people, do we imagine leading lost souls to Christ? Do we imagine shaping our community to be more like Jesus? Do we imagine the hungry being fed and neglected being loved? Do we imagine having all seats in the church full? As an individual, do you imagine taking on a leadership roll in the local congregation? Do you imagine leaving behind a legacy of faithfulness for future generations through your family? Do you imagine having a strong marriage? Do you imagine financial stability? When we think of the future, do we imagine success or mediocrity?
God has given us the ability to achieve great results in Him. Do we ever imagine what those results may be? Ephesians 3:20f reads “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever”. When we loose our imagination we loose our drive and ambition. God wants us to be dreamers, visionaries, and leaders with an amazing imagination. With God on your side…who can stop you?! Together, let’s imagine the great things that we can accomplish to the glory of God.
By Cliff Sabroe
What does it mean to “tithe”?
While under the Law of Moses, the Israelites were commanded to give a tenth of what they earned back to God. The term “tithe” means “tenth”. The text of Leviticus reads:
“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord. If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff, shall be holy to the Lord” (Lev. 27:30-32 ESV).
Should a Christian “tithe” today?
The commandment to give a tenth was for Israel for a specific purpose. This command falls under a law/covenant that we are not under today. The Old Testament Law was given to the Nation of Israel (the Jews) in order to separate them from the rest of the nations of the world and to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. All of the laws, the requirements, the feasts, the sacrifices, the priesthood, how to worship, the Sabbath and more, were designed to lead one to the Messiah (Jesus). Now that Jesus has come, that system has been done away. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote the Galatians:
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:23-26).
The Old Testament Law was like a math tutor hired to get a student ready for a test. Once the student masters the material and takes the test, the tutor is no longer needed. The student may look back at what he learned, but ultimately, the tutor's purpose has been fulfilled.
Are Christians supposed to give?
Yes! Several passages show that giving should be part of the Christian’s life and part of the activity of the assembled Church. In 1 Corinthians 16 the Apostle Paul encourages the church in Corinth to give every Sunday.
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper... (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).
Although the command in this passage is specifically for one church to gather funds to help Christians in another region, it seems that a pattern is being established for the church to give when they meet. Notice, he says that he also “directed the churches of Galatia” to do this.
How much should I give?
No where in the New Testament is an amount or percentage specified. God wants us to be generous givers and God knows our hearts. If we are pushing ourselves to greater generosity all the time, God will be pleased. The second letter to the church in Corinth reads:
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, (2 Corinthians 8:1-3 NAS).
Paul complemented the giving of the Macedonian Christians, because they gave “beyond their means”, this is a great example for us as well.
How should I give?
Oftentimes it is hard for us to give. We selfishly want everything for ourselves and have a hard time sharing. God never wants us to give with a bitter heart. We must give cheerfully and plan ahead on how much we are going to give. God does not wants our “leftovers”.
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV).
God has given us so much! Let’s always be generous people who cheerfully give to others and back to Him.
What does the Bible say about "Same-Sex Attraction"?
There are certain thoughts and feelings that a person has that are often hard to understand. A socialist cannot comprehend why a person would be a capitalist and a capitalist does not understand the socialist. This idea is also true in the realm of sexual attraction. The thought of being sexually attracted to another man is considered disgusting to a man who is attracted to women. The purpose of this post is not to answer whether or not it is healthy, normal or natural to be attracted to the same sex, but whether or not it is sinful.
Homosexuality, sex before marriage, rape, adultery and bestiality are all actions that fall under the category of “sexual immorality”. Sexual immorality is a sin, and if not repented of, will cost a person their soul (Revelation 21:8, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21). Acting upon one’s immoral attraction is sinful whether it be a man having sex with a man, or a married women having sex with a man other than her husband.
This, however still does not answer the question on whether or not the attraction is sinful. One thought that sheds light on this question are the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. One would assume that this teaching would apply for same sex lust as well.
From the passages already discussed one can conclude that homosexual acts and lust are sinful, but what about the temptation to engage in homosexual behavior or homosexual attraction. Please remember, temptation to sin is not the same as sinning. In James 1:14-15 it reads
“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death”.
The temptation itself is not the sin, but when one allows that temptation to become a mental fantasy it is sinful, and when that fantasy becomes a reality, it will destroy. This would be the same for a heterosexual sinful desire as well. If a man finds a woman physically appealing he is not sinning. However, if he starts to dwell on what it would be like to be intimate with her, his thoughts have become sinful.
One person’s temptations are not the same as another’s. Some may be tempted by heterosexual sin (such as premarital sex or adultery) while others may be tempted by homosexual intimacy. Temptation is not inherently sinful, even Jesus was tempted (Hebrews 4:15). Although temptation is not sinful, one should work to no longer be tempted by various sins as they grow in Christ. The danger in not keeping ones desires under control is that the desires/temptations may grow into fantasy/lust which often will grow into action.
Lust is sinful, immorality (whether heterosexual or homosexual) is sinful, temptation, desire and attraction are not necessarily sinful, but if left unchecked, may grow into something that is.
If you are struggling with homosexual attraction (or any sin) and you find yourself wanting to engage in evil behavior, talk to someone, pray, confess your struggles to God and to close Christian friends so they can help you. Don’t allow the desire to become a fantasy in your mind or even reality through sinful action.
All of us have various sins that tempt us and all of us by God’s grace are working to overcome them. When talking about the sins of drunkenness, homosexuality, adultery, idolatry thievery and more, the apostle Paul writes,
"And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).
There is hope for all sinners in Jesus.
By Cliff Sabroe
By Cliff Sabroe (Father of 5 loud blessings)
The lyrics of the popular worship hymn read “Peace be Still”, but as a parent I am thinking to myself “please be quiet”. This is while I try to keep a rambunctious 4 year old from making car noises and a hungry 6 year old from stealing goldfish crackers from his 2 year old sister. No one wants to be distracted in worship, and no one wants to distract another from offering praise to God (whether it be from a loud conversation, cell phone ring or baby crying), however, the reality is, there will always be disruptions. Maybe the Disciples desired a “disruption free service” and that is why they stopped the children from coming near to Jesus. We must remember how Jesus handled the situation.
But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them. (Mark 10:14-15)
Our congregation is blessed with a lot of little children. Little children make noise, they scream, they cry and sometimes they bang their heads loudly on the back of the pew when sitting down. Many parents realize when their kids are being disruptive and promptly remove them from the assembly. (No parent wants their child to distract others from worshiping). This article seeks to ask the question - What can we do as a church to make sure we do not “hinder” the little children as the disciples did?
Understand that parents are nervous and feel like they are being judged every time their child makes a sound.
You might not think that your sideways glances are being noticed but they are (hopefully that is not your intent). Phillip Meade describes it this way “Parents endlessly worry about their children bothering other people, whether in restaurants, at the park, or in preschool. Unfortunately, nothing will elicit sweat drops on the foreheads of anxious parents more than sitting down in a church pew on Sunday morning with a 2 year old.”
Parents need the love and comfort of an accepting church family that will embrace and welcome children in the worship assembly with open arms.“Parents need to look forward, even long for the arrival of Sunday morning when they can rest easy for one hour, knowing their crying, struggling child is surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ who are not only tolerant of their presence, but overwhelmingly thankful for it” (ibid).
Truly believe in the importance of children seeing their parents worship.
Many of us learned about worship from seeing it modeled by our parents. If the moment a child makes a peep they are banished to the foyer or cry room to never return, they will never experience the joy of congregational praise. Some of the most formative years of a child’s life are the first 3, yet many kids are not spending that time in worship because their parents feel obligated to remove them because of the comments and looks of others. Allowing a little disruption in worship now, can result in a lifetime of faithfulness.
Let the children know you value them.
Although children do not fully comprehend all of worship, they can sense when their presence is desired. When little 5 year old’s hand is embraced by an older christian and they hear a comment like “that was a good “amen’” or “good job singing”, they will quickly learn they are valued. Children have a special place in the heart of God, let us let them know they have a special place with us in worship.
It is hard to bring your children to worship every week knowing they most likely not behave. The temptation to stay at home is very real. Let’s make sure that our church is always a welcoming place for children. It has been written “…that a quiet church is a dying church. There is some truth in that. So smile when you see those children struggling to get through the hour. Let’s help parents see that the one place a week where they will not be judged for those amazingly loud and at times annoying children is right smack dab in the middle of the worship service” (ibid).
May we always remember the words of Jesus, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”.
By Cliff Sabroe
Have you ever publicly questioned a long-held belief or challenged a traditional practice? Let’s admit it, there is comfort in believing that you are right and everyone else is wrong. It is like a warm blanket that allows you to write-off everyone else and go to bed at night while curling up with a false sense of religious superiority. Ok, maybe that was a little over the top…but you get the point.
I propose, that although we should have confidence, we need to make sure that our religious comfort is not due to exegetical laziness. If you really believe you have everything figured out…why study? If you think you are right, you never have to work to get better. If you think the way you do things is the best, you will never seek to improve. We have a tendency in the church to gravitate toward apathy. Why? It is because we have stopped questioning, improving, and pushing ourselves to grow. We often instead espouse the old adage “If it is not broke…don’t fix it!”. I propose that if we are not looking for areas to improve, we are already broken. We must question everything in order to grow!
D.A Carson in his book Exegetical Fallacies writes,
Many local Bible teachers and preachers have never been forced to confront alternative interpretations at full strength; and because they would lose a certain psychological security if they permitted their own questions, aroused by their own reading of Scripture, to come into full play, they are unlikely to throw over received traditions. (15)
What was the last practice you questioned or longstanding doctrine you doubted? Spend time in Scripture, allow its living words to speak to you. Seek out meaning and answers from the text and the text only. Forget what other preachers have said or written, ignore what accusations may be thrown your way. They may call you “liberal”, “extreme”, “Pharisaical” or “heretical”. Who cares! They called Jesus a “drunkard” and a glutton” (Mathew 11:19). Don’t just assume the way “things have always been done” is the way things “should” be done. The conclusions of “sound brothers” in the past may have not been so “sound” after all. But don’t get arrogant, you too, may be wrong.
Do you want to grow? Do you want to push yourself into a closer relationship with God and a deeper understanding of His Word? Do you want to be better, live better and serve better? It is time to start asking questions and looking for answers!
By Cliff Sabroe
Church leaders are often afraid to speak on topics such as grace and continual forgiveness do to a fear that those hearing the lesson may misunderstand grace as a license to sin. Such an idea is clearly against scripture, in fact Paul once wrote to the church in Rome “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound, God forbid!” (Romans 6:1). We know we should not sin, but the reality is, that even after becoming a Christian we will sin.
What about when we do sin after we becoming a child of God, is there still hope?
So often it is easy for a faithful child of God to become so saddled with guilt over sin in their life that they quite trying. This too, is not the attitude that one should have. Christians should abhor and avoid sin, but not give up trying when they do continue to sin.
In his letter to some troubled Christians, the apostle John writes:
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
This passage presents two very important teachings.
#1 Grace and forgiveness should never be viewed as a license to sin.
Yes, it is true we are forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice and not our own perfection. However, the forgiveness that we have received motivates us to try to live perfect. We will fall short time and time again, but the ultimate goal of every Christian according to John is to “not sin”.
#2 There is hope for us when we do sin.
I have talked to several Christians who have lost the hope of salvation because of their continual struggle with sin. To that John would say, don’t worry, hang in there, help is available and His name is Jesus. It is true that we are unrighteous at times, but Jesus is always righteous and He is our advocate and our atoning sacrifice. Jesus makes it possible for us in our sinfulness to still be declared sinless and pure. John would later write to these same brethren that he wants them to “know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
Christians should never approve of sin in their lives. God wants us to stay in the light by constantly turning away from sin. When we do sin, we can still feel confident in our salvation by placing our trust in Jesus as our Advocate and our atoning sacrifice.