Category: Baptism (Page 3 of 7)

God at Work: Ordinance

I was eleven-years-old when I was baptized on a Sunday morning in the fall of 1977 at the Pleasant Grove Church of Christ. As soon as the sermon was over and the congregation began singing “Trust and Obey,” I stepped out into the aisle from the third row where my family always sat and made my way to the front. It was a short walk — like four steps. After the song was over, my dad told the church how proud he was of me and he took my confession.

“Allan, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?”

“Yes, I do.”

We both walked behind the stage into a dressing room where I put on a weird little nightgown thing, my dad shoved me into the water, and I was baptized into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When I came up out of the water, the church began singing “Happy, Happy, Happy.” We didn’t clap after baptisms back then, our congregation always sang this awful song. It’s a horrible song — I hope you don’t know it. As my dad and I were walking up the steps out of the water, he looked at me and asked, “How do you feel?”

I replied, “I feel perfect.”

And I did.

The following Sunday I took my first communion. And I felt like everybody was watching me. My mom and dad, my sisters and my grandmother on that third pew, my uncle and aunt and cousins behind us — it was a big deal. And when that tray came down the row, I pinched off the tiniest little bit of cracker that was humanly possible — I didn’t want anybody to think I didn’t know what I was doing — and I drank that little sip of grape juice. I kept my head down, didn’t make eye contact with anybody and thought about Jesus. Shhhhhhh. We’re thinking about Jesus.

And I felt like a Christian. I felt like I belonged. The Lord’s Supper is what you do when you’re a Christian. Every single Sunday. That’s why you go to church even when you’re out of town on vacation: so you can take communion. That’s why if you have to leave church early for work or a special event, you only leave after communion. In fact, communion is such a big deal, if you miss Sunday morning, we’ve left it prepared for you in a little side-room on Sunday night where you and four or five others can sit down and eat it while three deacons stand there and watch you.

But we never missed worship. Every time the doors were open — that was us. We were right there on that third pew worshiping. All five acts of worship: singing, praying, preaching, Lord’s Supper… and… announcements? I can’t remember. Do not forsake the assembly. It doesn’t matter if the Cowboys are in the Super Bowl or if CBS is showing Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer back to back, we’re going to church.

Because that’s what Christians do. Those are the ordinances, the commands. Especially those big three: baptism, communion, and the worship assembly. We do those things. And we go to great lengths to make sure we do those things in the right way at the proper time using the correct words. And it didn’t take long for me to learn how to do exactly what we do.

But I’m not sure I ever seriously considered what God is doing when we are doing what he wants us to do. Where is God? How is he involved? What is God doing?

Oh, I suppose if you had asked me back then I would have come up with an answer.

What was God doing when you were baptized? Well, he was watching from above. And when I came up out of the water, he forgave all my sins and wrote my name into his book of life. He saved me. He checked the box next to my name. My obedience pleases God.

What’s God doing when you eat the Lord’s Supper? Well, he’s with us, he’s present in a vague and spiritual way. And he’s watching me. He’s happy that I’m thinking about his Son. My sincerity pleases God.

What about during worship? When Christians get together to sing and pray and read the Bible, where’s God then? Well, he’s listening to our praise, he’s soaking up the songs. He’s the audience of one. My performance pleases him.

We probably think individually about these three things: baptism, communion, and the assembly. I think that’s our tendency. This is about God and me. It’s personal. But they are all three actually communal in nature. They have more to do with the community. We also think and talk about these things primarily as commands we obey, ordinances we are obligated to fulfill. But they are all three more fundamentally about what God is doing. These are all communal moments, these all happen when we’re together. But, more than that, these are moments when God meets us, when he is especially present with us and works on us, changing us more into the image of Christ.

This Sunday our adult Bible classes at Central are launching into a thirteen-week series on these divine ordinances. What we’re trying to do as a church is move more toward viewing these three areas as encounters with God and less as things we’re just commanded to do. We want to participate in these things and experience these things more and more as means of grace, or avenues by which God meets us and blesses us with spiritual gifts. The theological term is sacrament or sacramental.

Now, the word “sacrament” can mess some of us up if we don’t slow down and talk about it. The word “sacrament” carries some baggage with some of us. We think it’s a Roman Catholic thing or it’s about magic words or secret powers. It doesn’t mean any of those things. But the term is vitally significant for our understanding of what’s happening during baptism, communion, and the assembly.

Because “ordinance” means we do something. “Sacrament” means God does something. “Sacrament” means God is at work.

We’ll define “sacrament” and flesh out the practical implications for us in this space tomorrow. Stay with me.



Tradition Informing Scripture

DoleHulaBefore we continue our discussion of Dr. Keith Stanglin’s article “Restorationism and Church History: Strange Bedfellows?” I must wish my beautiful wife Carrie-Anne a very happy birthday. Today is Wednesday so, with our church schedule, it’ll be impossible for the family to celebrate together with our traditional birthday dinner. That’ll have to wait until tomorrow evening. It’ll be our typical Sharky’s burrito tonight and the birthday steak dinner tomorrow. But, Carrie-Anne, I love you, darling. I hope you have a fabulous day.


BonoPetersonAlso, if you’re a Eugene Peterson fan or if you’re a fan of U2 or, especially, if you’re a fan of both the Irish rocker and The Message translator you might spend 21-minutes today checking out this video. Fuller Theological Seminary has produced a very short and very high-quality documentary on how Peterson and Bono engage the Psalms. Apparently, once Peterson finished the Old Testament “Message-style,” Bono began reading the Psalms in a whole different way. He reached out to Peterson and the two have become pretty good friends. The short film documents a visit Bono had with Peterson at the author’s mountain home in Montana in which they discussed together the Psalms, honesty and dishonesty in Christian art and music, and violence. It’s good. Really interesting. It’s funny listening to Peterson butcher the name of “Rolling Stone” magazine and refer to the floor near the stage at a U2 concert as the “mash pit.” It’s also really cool when Peterson, while discussing the imprecatory psalms, tells Bono, “We’ve got to learn how to cuss without cussing.” Bono replies, “Yeah, I like that. That’s going to stick with me.” You can watch the video by clicking here.



Though we in the American Restoration Movement have been intentional in ignoring and resisting any church history before the early 19th century, we cannot deny that all of us are influenced and shaped by all church history. We don’t acknowledge it, mainly, because we take it for granted. Keith points out that the New Testament table of contents in our Bibles is taken for granted as some kind of unquestionable truth as if it came straight from the apostles at the end of the first century. So, we make an exception to Thomas Campbell’s “nothing not as old as the New Testament” when we accept the New Testament itself (see yesterday’s post).

Keith argues for making these exceptions, which we all make, “with clear eyes and full awareness.”

We could spend several days talking about the things we believe and practice in our churches that are not “as old as the New Testament.” The separation of the Lord’s Supper from an actual meal didn’t begin to happen until late in the second century and into the third. Nobody thought to refer to God as a three-person Trinity until the second century and it wasn’t made an official church position until the fourth. The idea of translating the Old Testament from the original Hebrew instead of the Greek came from the fourth century. The use of unleavened bread in the Lord’s Supper didn’t happen until the eleventh century. Congregational singing in harmony wasn’t practiced until the twelfth century. These are all beliefs and practices (innovations?) that are not “as old as the New Testament.” Yet, instead of throwing them out, we take them for granted in our faith and worship.

Let’s also acknowledge that there are plenty of practices which are as old as the New Testament, commands and examples written in our holy Scriptures, that we don’t practice, and would never consider practicing, because of church history and tradition. To move the conversation along, allow me to concentrate today on two very obvious ways Keith observes that we adhere to church tradition and actually use church history to interpret Scripture and inform our practice.

The first is with baptism for the dead that the apostle Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15:29:

“Whatever this practice was, we do not practice or endorse it. Why don’t we practice it? It is not because Paul expresses disapproval, because he does not. In fact, he raises the issue to show the Corinthians how, though they deny the resurrection, their practices are undergirded by a belief in the resurrection. Far from being negative about baptism for the dead, Paul is neutral or perhaps positive. So why doesn’t the church now baptize for the dead? The reason we do not baptize for the dead is because the historic church has not baptized for the dead.”

Imagine if we had nothing else in Scripture about baptism for the dead other than this one verse in 1 Corinthians which, by the way, is indeed the case. But what if the historical record were different? What if there were written documents from the second and third centuries attesting to and approving a ritual for baptism for the dead? We would probably be practicing it today! But with the exception of Latter-Day Saints, no one in the history of Christianity has practiced baptism for the dead. So we interpret the verse in 1 Corinthians 15 as an aberrant practice. We’re convinced that if Paul had been writing a sacramental theology, he would have clearly condemned the practice in unambiguous terms. Why? Because no one’s ever done it. As Keith points out, Sunday School classes have a lot of questions when they study 1 Corinthians, but they never seriously consider the thought of restoring this practice. So, we’ve got a first-century New Testament practice left completely out of our faith and worship today based solely on church tradition and history.

Let’s do one more: the Lord’s Supper. The way we observe the meal today bears almost zero resemblance to the ritual as it is understood and taught and practiced in the New Testament. The very fact that we eat the cracker and sip the little swallow of juice separate from a full evening meal is enough evidence to acknowledge that we are influenced and shaped by church history and tradition. Our insistence on the use of unleavened bread is a relatively new innovation that helped split the Eastern and Western churches in the eleventh century. The early church didn’t use unleavened bread for the same reasons it didn’t use bitter herbs, lamb, and multiple cups of wine. But we demand unleavened bread today. Why? Because the Roman Church made the change about a thousand years ago.

So, let’s look at Scripture. What does the New Testament say regarding the day to eat the Lord’s Supper? According to Acts 20:7, the church in Troas met on the first day of the week to break bread. This is the only reference we have in Scripture for Sunday. And it’s tricky because they wound up eating it after midnight. The Last Supper took place in the middle of the week. The church in Jerusalem did it daily (Acts 2:46) and Paul doesn’t give us a day in 1 Corinthians (11:26). We don’t have a whole lot on the day itself.

On the other hand, there’s a much more clear and consistent Scriptural testimony regarding location. The Last Supper was eaten in an “upper room.” The early church also celebrated the meal in an “upper room” (Acts 20:8).

So why do we insist on Sunday as the day to observe the Lord’s Supper but we place no guidelines at all on where the Supper can be taken? Based on Scripture alone, it’s not clear that the day is any more or less important than the location. If anything, there’s more testimony about the location than the day. Why do we dismiss any discussion about where we’re supposed to eat the Lord’s Supper as irrelevant while, at the same time, we spend a ton of time and energy searching the Scriptures to make a strong case for the Sunday timing?

“Tradition — a tradition that extends unbroken back to the second century — repeatedly attests to the importance of the day, not the location. The historic tradition supports the theological case for the importance of resurrection day and, therefore, the possibility of celebrating other significant times and seasons. Celebrating the Supper in an upper room has always been, according to this same tradition, an indifferent matter, as it rightly is for us. But despite all the vast changes in the theology and practice of communion, a Lord’s Day never passed in the first fifteen centuries without celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Whether we realize it or not, the church’s history is a decisive factor that influences our faith and practice.”

Rather than attempting to run away from church tradition, which we cannot; instead of ignoring or resisting church history and tradition, which would require we deny most of our formation influences, why not embrace the history and examine it? Why not search for the centuries of wisdom that are available in acknowledging our past: the good and the not so good, the faithful and the not so faithful?



Do You Remember?

This past Sunday it was Ken. The Sunday before that it was Lynzi. We are so blessed to be able to so often participate in Christian baptisms during our weekly assemblies. We watch and pray, cheer and sing, as these new disciples publicly confess Jesus as Lord and put him on in baptism for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of God’s Holy Spirit. What an incredible event!

When I visit with these new followers of Jesus, I always stress that they should look back often on their baptisms. They should intentionally reflect on what God created in them that day they were buried and raised with Christ. We should all remember what God did for us and with us when we came up out of the water.

God has made something brand new out of each of us. He has chosen now to live inside us and to re-create us to experience all of life in a brand new way. It’s amazing, really. Death has nothing on us anymore. And neither does sin.

Do you remember when you were baptized? Who baptized you? Where did it happen? Do remember how you felt when you came up out of the water? Do you remember the songs that were sung? The people who were there?

It was the single greatest day of your life. You may not recognize it all the time. But that was the day you were added to God’s eternal Kingdom. That was the day you were made righteous by the salvation work of Christ and reconciled to your Creator. It was a tremendous day, a cosmic day when eternity broke through the barriers of time and space and took up residence inside your body and soul.

Praise God for the blessings of his loving and merciful salvation. And give him thanks for the great privilege of sharing those wonderful baptism days with others.



God’s Not Done

So, you were baptized! Great news! Praise God! Hallelujah!

What happens between now and the time you’re saved?

Your salvation is a process, right? Lots of wonderful things happen at baptism: you confess that Jesus is Lord and you put all of your faith and trust in him to remove your sins; you commit to follow in Christ’s steps as a loyal disciple; you become one with Jesus as you die and are buried and are raised up with him in baptism; you receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit living inside you; you’re initiated into the Lord’s Body, the Church of Jesus Christ. All that happens at baptism. Justification. Reconciliation. A righteous standing before God. Peace. Joy.

But that’s not the last step. In as many ways as you can imagine, baptism has never been the last step.

We are being saved.

Being saved means being changed into the image of Jesus. It means being shaped into his character, being formed into his nature. It means we spend our lives “working out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12), we are predestined by God to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29), we are to bear the likeness of the Christ from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:49). Paul says he agonizes and prays “until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). We are all

“being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

God is saving us by making us like Jesus. Being saved is becoming like Christ. Acting like Christ. Talking like Christ. Thinking and behaving like Christ. Sacrificing and serving like Christ. That’s our salvation. That’s God’s good purpose and what God is doing with us today.

And that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not an immediate thing.

None of us is done. Our salvation is not complete. None of us. There’s nobody alive God is finished with yet. Until the day you die or the day our Lord returns in glory — whichever comes first for you — until that last day, our God is working in you to give you more humility. He’s renewing your mind to make you more sacrificial for others. He’s transforming your attitude and your actions to better reflect the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

If we’re not careful, we can view our baptism as God’s completed work. We can think we’ve already arrived, that we’ve changed enough, that we’ve done enough, that we have nothing else to learn or do until we’re saved. We might think, “I’ve been baptized, so God’s done with me what he wanted to do.” Or, “I’ve been baptized, so God’s got me in his holy holding area until I die.” Or, “I’ve been baptized, so God’s put me in neutral here until I get to heaven.” It might be arrogance, it might be complacency, it might be ignorance — all three are killers!

You need to know that God is not done with you yet. You need to be aware that God is still working on you. I don’t care how long ago you were baptized or how many great things you’ve done in the name of Jesus, God still has things to teach you. He still has things to show you. He is still changing you and he is still very interested in seeing you grow and in using you for his good purposes.



Raised with Christ

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ~Colossians 3:1-4

Our youngest daughter, Carley, was baptized into Christ Jesus on Sunday. She publicly renounced the ways of the world and confessed the ultimate lordship of Jesus and her commitment to him. She was buried with him — symbolically, sacramentally; she was raised with Christ — symbolically, sacramentally — to walk in newness of eternal life with our King. She has been forgiven by God of every sin she’s ever committed and will ever commit against his great holiness. She is now indwelled by God himself in the form of his Spirit — symbolized by the first huge breath she took after coming up out of the watery grave. And she belongs exclusively to our heavenly Father. She is his and he is hers. Forever. Amen.

As we talked and prayed with Carley this past week, she asked me almost every night, “Who’s going to do the ‘Since then…?'”

The “Since then…” is the congregational reading of Colossians 3:1-4. It’s a baptismal tradition/liturgy at the Legacy church we initiated with the opening of the new worship center there in 2008. As soon as the newly baptized follower came up out of the water, the congregation would recite those words of blessing and challenge, of affirmation and commission. It was — and still is — a powerful way for the church to participate in the baptism and for the wet Christian to feel the strength of belonging now to a baptized community.

Well, we don’t do that here at Central.

Yes, we clap and cheer and sometimes even stand and shout when someone is baptized. Several people are usually waiting backstage to pray with the newly baptized brother or sister afterward . For teenagers, as many as thirty or forty people will crowd back there to offer congratulations and prayers. But our worship center is built and our baptistry positioned in such a way that congregational participation in a baptism event itself is all but impossible. Our baptistry is some 25-feet up in the air, far removed from the church itself. People on the very front pews are still 75-feet away from the water and are forced to watch the baptisms on the giant screens. Folks scattered around the giant room are even farther away and have no choice but to watch it on the screens. I was dismayed Sunday to walk out into the water in front of our church with my wife and our youngest daughter, and look out into our loving congregation to see 99-percent of them not looking at us, but watching on the screens. And we’re in the same room! Our building has turned baptisms into a spectator event.

But I asked our brothers and sisters to read the “Since then…” to Carley when she came up out of the water. We put the words on the screen. And they did it. It was beautiful. It was powerful. It honored us as a family. And it meant the world to Carley.






Thank you, Central Church of Christ, for loving our daughter and our whole family the way you do. Not a day goes by that we don’t recognize how blessed we are to be with you. Thank you to our small group and Carley’s middle school Muddle families who blessed us so wonderfully at our home Sunday night. You poured truth into our daughter. You affirmed her; you challenged her; you read God’s Holy Word to her and promised to always love her. Thank you. Thank you to the Popes and the Marshalls who drove thirteen hours round trip from Legacy to rejoice with us this weekend. Your friendship is a testament to the faithfulness of our God. And thank you to Carrie-Anne’s mom and my parents who sacrificed a lot to be here this past weekend. You received the Christian faith from your parents, you passed it on to your children, and you are blessing us as we pass it on together to your grandchildren. Thank you.

Carley, you now belong to our God. Paul told the Christians in Galatia that you are a daughter of God by faith when you clothe yourself with Christ by baptism (Galatians 3:26-27). When you were baptized Sunday, you put to death the old Carley. You killed that girl; you buried her. And when you came up out of the water, you were a brand new creature. God has created something brand new inside you Carley, so that by his Spirit you will experience all of life in a brand new way. Death has nothing on you now, precious daughter. And neither does sin.

Our prayer for you, Carley, is that our God will bless you richly with his grace and peace, his protection and provision. Our great desire is to see you become more and more like our Lord. Our eternal hope is that you walk with him faithfully, all the way to the end.

We love you. And we are so proud of you. And we know your life in Christ is going to result in praise and glory to God. May his holy will be done in you and through you, Carley, just as it is in heaven.

Love, like you just can’t believe,


Let’s Astonish the World

What a tremendous response! What a terrific reaction to what our God revealed to us at Central this past Sunday! And, my, how it continues even now into the middle of the week! The emails and texts that began pouring in during lunchtime Sunday are still being received today in a fairly steady stream. There’s an enthusiasm over what we’ve discovered together as a church family. There’s an overwhelming resolve to jump wholeheartedly into what our God has put in front of us. There’s a continual hum, a buzz, a current of Holy Spirit energy that’s tangible in this place. It’s real. You can feel it. We’ve tapped in to something here. Maybe… God’s holy will?

Allow me to share with you in this space today the heart of the message we heard together Sunday from God’s Word. Tomorrow, my plan is to share some of the response to the message in an effort to further process what happened Sunday.

The lesson Sunday came from the last part of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, his plea for unity among all future believers. It served as the culmination of our sermon series on this powerful prayer. And it provided the theological base for our “4 Amarillo” partnership with First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street Methodist.

My prayer, Jesus says, is that all of them may be one. May they be brought to complete unity. It’s this unity, this uncompromising love and acceptance we have for all baptized Christian believers that will prove to the world Jesus really is who he says he is and who we say he is. Our unflinching dedication to love and defend all Christians, to worship and serve with all Christians, will astonish the world.

Well, Allan, not all people who’ve been baptized, right? I mean, a lot of people are baptized in different ways than we are, and for different reasons. We can’t worship with and have fellowship with all Christians.

That’s why the church is not astonishing the world.

Christ’s prayer is for unity. Christ’s will is for complete unity among all his followers today. So, let’s go there.

If God accepts someone, I must also accept them, too, right? I can’t be a sterner judge than the perfect judge, can I? Nobody would say, “Well, I know that God accepts this woman as a full child of his, I know she’s probably saved, but she doesn’t meet all of my standards in the things she believes and the way she worships, so I’m not going to accept her.” Nobody would say that. We must fellowship everyone who has fellowship with God. We must fellowship everyone who is saved. All the saved.

So… who are the saved?

There was a time when we would say everyone who hears, believes, repents, confesses, and is baptized is saved. OK, for the sake of this discussion, let’s go with that. The next question is, “He who hears what?”

“The Gospel!”

“She who believes what?”

“The Gospel!”

“Whoever repents and confesses and is baptized by what or through what or into what?”

“The Gospel!”

Right. That means the next question is… what is the Gospel?

That Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, that he alone is Lord, and that we are saved by faith in him. You might check out 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 or several other places in Scripture where Paul sums up the Gospel. It seems pretty clear that it’s about declaring Jesus as Lord and as the only way to the Father and submitting to his lordship in baptism and in a new way of life. We’ve never required anything else. The Church has never asked for another confession. We’ve never asked anybody their position on women’s roles or children’s worship before they’re baptized. We don’t put a teenager in the water and catalog all his views and opinions on instrumental worship before he’s saved. (Unfortunately, some of us do that about a month later.) That stuff is not Gospel. Paul says it’s nothing but Christ and him crucified.

Romans 15:7 says we are to accept one another as Christ accepted us. We are to receive others by the same standards we were received at our baptisms. You know, your acceptance by God is a gift. That fact that Christ Jesus has accepted you is pure grace. The imperative for us is to extend that same gift, to show that same grace, to all others who have received it from our Lord.

Well, what about the Christian who disagrees with me on divorce and remarriage, or on the age of the earth? What about the Christian who doesn’t see church names or the Lord’s Supper the way I do? What about our discord over steeples or shaped notes?

In Romans 14-15, the issues are eating mean versus vegetables and the observance of holy days. And Paul knows what’s right and wrong. He knows the correct answer. There is a right and wrong on these matters. But Paul says, in Christ Jesus, it doesn’t matter. You don’t believe me? Read Romans 14:1-15:7.

Now, here’s where it gets us. You ready?

Do you believe that you are perfect? Do you believe you have God’s will completely and perfectly figured out? That you are living exactly right, that you believe everything exactly right, that your worship is exactly right according to God’s plans? Do you think you know everything and do everything perfectly? No? That’s what I thought. Then what in the world saves you? What covers you in your innocent mistakes? What saves you in your accidental misunderstandings and your sincere misinterpretations? Why, it’s God’s grace, of course. His matchless grace.

Do you believe that the Churches of Christ are perfect? Do you think that the CofCs  have everything totally figured out? That we are worshiping exactly right, that our leadership structures are completely lined up with God’s intent, that we have all of God’s will entirely mapped out and expressed perfectly? No? That’s what I thought. Then what in the world saves us? What covers us in our innocent mistakes? What saves us in our accidental misunderstandings and our sincere misinterpretations? Why, God’s grace. Yes, his wonderful grace.

You think there’s any chance at all the Methodists might be doing something right according to the will of God that we’re not? You think the Presbyterians might possibly have something figured out that we don’t? What if the Baptists’ understandings of something in the Bible are richer and fuller than ours? What if another group’s practice is more in line with God’s will than ours? Is it even possible? Yes, of course. Then, what covers us in our innocent mistakes and accidental misunderstandings and sincere misinterpretations? Grace. Yeah, I know.

Now, let’s assume that we have it right on the Lord’s Supper and the Methodists have it wrong. Let’s pretend that we’re right about baptism and a plurality of elders and the Presbyterians and Baptists are wrong. Does the grace of God not cover them completely in their innocent mistakes and accidental misunderstandings and sincere misinterpretations? Are they any less saved?

But they’re wrong and we’re right!

So you get God’s grace where you lack understanding but they don’t? You get the grace of God in your misinterpretations of God’s will but they don’t? Why? Because you try harder? Because we’re more sincere? Because, somehow, we deserve it?


The unbelieving world looks at that and says, “No, thanks.” And I don’t blame them. A religion as visibly divided as ours does not reflect the truth. It reflects our fallen world, not the glory of our God.

Our Christian unity will have an eternal impact on our world. But the world has to see it. Our unity, which already exists as a gift from God, must be visible. It must be practiced and experienced. When it is, the world will believe.

A Methodist preacher, a Church of Christ preacher, a Baptist preacher and a Presbyterian preacher all walk in to a bar is the first line of a bad joke. The Methodist church, the Church of Christ, the Baptist and Presbyterian churches all putting aside their differences to worship and serve together for the sake of the city is a serious and everlasting testimony to the love and power of God! Our “4 Amarillo” efforts are a witness to the world that this is for real! That Christ Jesus is our King! That the world really is changing! That hearts are being melted and people are being transformed! That barriers are being destroyed and walls are coming down! That the devil has been defeated and the Kingdom of God is here!



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