2020 Theme - Living in a Broken World
At the turn of the 20th century (the year 1900) -optimism abounded in the western world. Technology & Science was on the verge of solving many problems that had plagued mankind for centuries. As medical knowledge increased diseases began to be cured and life spans slowly began to rise. Farming technology was leading to increased productivity and a decrease in hunger and starvation. Manufacturing provided cheap goods for everyone. Items such as clothing and shelter became more affordable as well as modern conveniences. Solutions to most of the problems of the previous century seemed to be within reach of mankind.
However, by the end of the 20th century (the term was “Y-2-K”) much of the optimism in the West had been greatly tempered by the reality of two World Wars (ironically the first War was deemed the “War to end all wars”). These wars (along with other conflicts) had combined for a record number of casualties - more deaths than in the previous 19 centuries of warfare combined. The century also witnessed some notoriously evil men coming to power. Men like Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Edi Amin, rulers of North Korea, and on and on you could go. Many of these men became leaders with via governing ideologies that were not just anti-Christian, but outright atheist in their core beliefs.
Not only had world events tempered this optimism but decay in the society in our own country was noticeably present. Divorce rates had skyrocketed bringing an increase in broken homes, abortion had become legal, drug abuse reached epidemic proportions, and crime in general (white and blue-collar) had increased substantially. Safe to say, by the end of the previous century, the optimism present in the year 1900, was greatly diminished.
Christians can look at these things from a different perspective. We recognize the problems at the close of the previous century are the same problems the world has always had: men and women have the same faults and weaknesses, they still sin and rebel, and we still turn our backs on God. In other words, we live in a broken world. And the sad fact is humanity can’t fix it. Only God has the answers. So as we begin this year Benjamin and Ed will be preaching lessons connected to this theme – lessons that address the problems and realities we face because we live in a “Broken World”. - Keith Parks
How often do we think about the church? Do I want to be at every service? If not, why not?
Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” Hebrews 10:23-25, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Who are the “us,” “ourselves,” and the “one another,” in these verses? It is the church, the brethren, the saved and those who are the called out of the world (Acts 2:47) How important is that? The church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). There is only one body (Ephesians 4:4). If the church and the body are the same we should want to be in the body, Christ being the head. Man will tell you that it doesn’t make a difference what church you belong to as long as you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. That is just not so. We are baptized into one body of which Christ is the head (1 Corinthians 12:13) and we are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). Does this sound like it doesn’t make a difference what church or body you belong to? If you are not present for worship how are you going to provoke anyone unto love and good works, exhort anyone or how are you going to be edified for that matter?
Back to the first question: How important is the church to you and me? It was important enough to Christ that He died for her (Ephesians 5:25). Why then do we take lightly being a member of the church our Lord died for? The church is our only way to God, the church is our life, our way of thinking, our love, the love we have for one another.
Love is expensive-it certainly was for Christ and He gave His love to us freely. We learn in our study of the Sermon on the Mount to overlook minor offenses (Matthew 5:39), to go the extra mile (vs. 41) and to live by the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). A congregation that succeeds and grows must pay the price that love demands.
Visitors in our assembly may have no idea why we do what we do in our worship, but they know if we love one another and if we love them. We must contend for the truth (Jude 3) and we have to take a stand for the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We must recognize the danger of doing these things without love. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. If we love the church, then we also love one another-it is one and the same.-Amos Rowe