Cross Talk

 

DENNIS’ BLOG

06.25.2017

So many good things coming up for the Lakeview Family to get involved in.  Senior Teen Session at Delano began yesterday, with several camp sessions to follow.  One event that I would like to underline today is the Spiritual Growth Conference for Churches in the Northwest.  Most have heard of Faithbuilders Northwest.  It is sponsored by several different churches, including Lakeview.  It’s intended to be a meeting place and a time for instruction for churches in the Northwest. 

There will be congregations there from Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and perhaps a few other places.  It is a retreat and a time to get a shot in the arm, the way that camp does for the young people.  Get a schedule and plan to take advantage of the program.  The dates are July 6-9th at the Eastvold Auditorium at PLU. One speaker I would like to highlight is Wissam Al-Aethawi.  His bio is below. 

 

I am Wissam, 37, an associate minister at Sunset church of Christ and a gospel preacher in Metro Detroit, MI. I was born and raised to a Sunni Muslim family in Baghdad, Iraq. I rejected Islam into atheism in the mid-1990’s, found a copy of the Bible in ’97, believed in ’98 and it took me another 12 years before I could find someone to baptize me in May 2010.

A graduate of the University of Baghdad, I worked as a civil engineer for 8 years after finishing my service as a Republican Guard. Then a Christian woman in the Amish country of Pennsylvania invited me to come to the U.S. I came in April 2011. Nine months later, I went to Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, TX. I finished school and moved to Michigan by early 2014. I like reading, writing, and doing Bible studies. I teach in our church, at my house and other places on a regular basis. I dream of starting an Arab-speaking congregation of the Lord’s church in Dearborn.

Wissam will be speaking at Lakeview on Sunday, July 9th during the morning assembly.

-Dennis

 

 



06.18.2017

The term 
Image Bearer 
resonates with me as an accurate description of the ultimate purpose for men and women.  Both genders were created in the image of God.  Both reflect a unique expression of who God is.  Eric Mason, in his book Manhood Restored writes, “As an image bearer, (humanity) was to reflect God’s heavenly reign on earth.”  In representing God, humanity was to glorify the God who created (them).

Prior to the arrival of the woman, Adam was given work to do, as an expression of God’s image in Him.  Genesis 2:15 states, “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.”  This work gave a man his purpose.  To exercise care and stewardship over the things that God has created.  These two words, care and stewardship, are words that define how men are to exercise dominion.  For some men, dominion means ruling with an iron fist, wrongfully assuming that he is the king over his dominion.  These are men who abuse their role, who abuse their wives and children, who distort the intent of God for the relationship of a man and the things he has dominion over.

A man should work for the good of, and care for the things in his sphere of influence.  This is a challenge because it takes more than the abilities of a man to be successful.  What is often missing with the man who abuses his role, is a relationship with God.  Even if his life includes some of the things of God, if it does not intersect with God, then how he fulfills his responsibility is going to be twisted.

If a father relates to his children only based on the chores they are supposed to do, that child would grow up with a warped sense of love accomplishment and self-worth.

This chart illustrates that a man cannot maintain integrity in their faith just by doing some things.  When a man’s life intersects with the life of God, he becomes able to faithfully represent God in the things that he does.  In the Sermon tonight, as we consider the things that make a godly father, the things that make a godly man, our goal will be to reach toward maturity as Image Bearers.

-Dennis

 



06.11.2017

 
I hope you are planning to attend this year’s workshop.  A value of this year’s workshop is it deals with several topics that are relevant to our time.  To me, that was always the value of GNEW.  The people presenting could bring new ideas and perspectives.  While all the presentations will have value, the material presented by Wissam Al-Aethawi from Dearborn (born in Iraq) on Islam and the material presented by Everett Huffard (from Harding School of Theology) on Leader-ship are relevant to our times and congregational needs.

Wes Hanson will be leading the Teen Challenge Youth Event on Friday of the Workshop.  See the Website for more details.

-Dennis

 



05.21.2017

This statement is not originally mine, but it does resonate in my heart.  Someone said, “I am thankful for the members and leaders of the Lakeview church of Christ a generation ago.  By their faith and vision, we have a comfortable place to worship and carry on the tasks of ministry.”  Because of this place, countless lives have been impacted for eternity.  Sometimes we can lose track of that in our criticisms of past generations.  Yet, in our evaluation of the legacy of the past generation, we seek to establish a positive legacy of our own.  That means that every generation must do its part, if the legacy is to endure.

 

We are at a point in the history of Lakeview, when the current generation of members and leaders are called to act in a way that will positively affect the generations to come.  As a group, we have decided to add to our building to create spaces that we can use to teach the good news of Jesus.  These spaces include classrooms for children and adults, a large multi-purpose room for fellowship and other special functions and a foyer area to create a space for welcoming our guests.

 

Funding has always been a concern.  At this point we have close to half of what we need already in the bank.  To close the funding gap, the elders have chosen to issue bonds that will generate the cashflow that we need.  This is something that all members at Lakeview can participate in, as the bonds become long-term investments.  This funding approach offers many benefits to members and friends of members.  These benefits will be explained during a bond purchasing weekend that will be scheduled for the near future.

 

To facilitate this bond purchase weekend, Lakeview needs to form four essential task forces.  These are:

 

Appointments Task Force

– Schedules Appointments with Members to Arrange Purchase of Bonds.

Hospitality Task Force

– Provides Food/Snacks for Great Nation Representatives.

Publicity Task Force

– Creatively Gets the Word Out to Lakeview Members, Friends and Associates About Our Bond Issue.

Special Purchase Task Force

– Arranges Meetings and Presentations for Special Purchase Situations in which investors make larger purchases.  The Investors are members, family and friends.

 

Please talk to me (Dennis) if you have questions about the functions of these task forces or would like to head up a task force.  This is an important step in our building journey.  The involvement of everyone will help us reach our destination.

 



05.14.2017

I read an article the other day that really caught my attention.  The article presented a perspective about the new life that we may forget.  “

When we become a Christian we really do receive a brand-new life from God! Then we face a startling reality: We have a Brand-New Life, but we still live in the Same Old World! 

 

Our view of sin may change, and what we know about Jesus may change.  The world, however, continues unchanged.  The same selfish attitudes and destructive habits define the people around us.  The difference is you now are standing on the outside looking in, and perhaps even an advocate for a better way to live.  This makes you a threat to the world system.  This makes you a target.

 

The people Peter writes about have a similar circumstance.  They have been called out of the world and have faced various trials because of it.  Often times, when you make a decision and then get flack for that decision, you tend to second guess it.  In the case of these new Christians, Peter knew they were struggling with second guessing.  The heart of his encouragement is the statement in 1 Peter 1:6-7

“You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

 

The events that we may define as faith challenging are really events that are strengthening our faith.  The difference is our ability to keep our eyes on the goal, our faith…the salvation of our souls.

 

These past few weeks have been challenging for many, and we might think we can’t take any more.  It is those times when we focus intently on the goal of our faith.  Peter can give us this advice because he has been through the fire himself.  From the time Peter began to follow to the end of his life, following Jesus  meant trials, change, finding his way to a new place, and then repeating the cycle.  Each time, the new place he found himself in took him closer to the goal. He was able to endure because, he had this conviction and prayer for us;

“Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.”

 

These words inspire us to hold on to the

brand-new life as we live in the same old world!    -Dennis

 



05-07-2017

 
 
Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12)
With this statement, Paul underlines the goal of Christian faith; attaining the resurrection of the physical body. Even though he was still in the flesh, struggling with the flesh, he was not overcome by the struggles of the flesh. He also states how he has overcome; he made every effort to take hold of what he has been taken hold of for. He made every effort to deepen his faith and live out the principles of his faith. Paul mentions this because he wants to encourage us to do the same thing. He shares his secret with us.
A deep faith is needed because our physical bodies will fail us. The pain of failure seems more than we can bear; and at times, it is. People without faith are stuck in their failures and their pain. People of faith have a better perspective. We know that all pain is temporary. We know that we don’t belong to this world, but are citizens of a different realm. We have access to the King of Heaven, who is able to send support by His angels and His Holy Spirit. That access makes available peace and contentment in the midst of turmoil. I am able to endure because I am a part of a new order of things.
It is at times like this, allow these words to penetrate deep into your soul; “Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.”


04.16.2017

Humans have the amazing ability to find solutions to complex problems.  The sciences are a wellspring of knowledge that yields answers to the difficulties we face.  Experiences can remind us of how we fixed something in the past.  However, when it comes to the sin problem, we have very few solutions that go to the core of the issue.  Many ignore that we even have a sin problem, but the Bible suggests that not only do we have a sin problem, we are in debt to the Creator. We are flawed and those flaws disable us from being able to fix this problem.  Resolving this debt we owe to the Creator is virtually impossible, and in the end, it leads to death.

 

I say virtually impossible, because the Creator has made a way.  He has applied the laws of the universe and has provided a solution.  It’s a solution that has been determined before the foundation of our world.  It is a perfect solution that takes into account all the variables and what-ifs.  In essence, the Creator paid the debt Himself, taking on the form of a slave, humbling Himself and becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

 

We call the characteristic of God that led to this solution, grace.  Grace is a power that combines enduring love, mercy and action.  It is not offered because we deserve it.  Indeed, humans often chose to rebel against the Creator.  We all have sinned and fallen short of the image in which we were created.  God offered the solution, and we accept it by faith.

James tells us that true faith is active and a response of the heart that is stirred by grace.  If we have faith, that faith will be demonstrated by obedience and good works.  That is the implementation of the solution.  When we accept it by faith, we give our right to self-determination, and accept the path that grace lays out before us.

 

God proved His authority to rule our lives by bringing Jesus back to life.  The body that was beaten and torn and left for dead on the cross, humiliated and disgraced, robbed of dignity and vitality, returned to life as a demonstration of great power.  He lives today, and is our Lord, if you will accept His rule. 

 

Christians are people of the resurrection, a new form of life and a new way to live.  Today, the day that many set aside to acknowledge in some way the life, death and resurrection of the Christ, can be a day of renewal for God’s people.  May it be a day of introspection that leads you again and again to embrace the ultimate solution. -Dennis

-Dennis



04.09.2017

Next week, the world will remember the greatest event in all of human history.  That event is the Resurrection of Christ from the realm of the dead.  While a basic reading of Scripture will tell you of it’s significance, many who will gather next weekend don’t believe in the Resurrection.

 

I know this by the fact that, while they may say they love Jesus, they choose to believe that sinful lifestyles are okay with Jesus.  They will bear false witness against someone who’s goal is to keep the marriage bed undefiled.  They believe that the more they sin, the more they demonstrate the mercy of God toward sinners.  If fact, what Scripture may call sin, they do not.  In living like Jesus never died, they also deny the Resurrection.

 

Paul talks about people like this in Philippians 3:17-21.  Their minds and hearts are focused on earthly things.  Contrast to that, people of the resurrection draw on the power of the resurrection, not only to live a life of holiness and purity now, they anticipate the transformation of their earthly bodies into a body that will live eternally.  Their desire is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection.  They want to suffer with Him and conform to His death, that they may somehow experience the resurrection of the dead.

 

The resurrection was the key element of the message of the early church.  For the disciple that replaced Judas, it was necessary for him to be a witness of the resurrection (Acts 1:22).  The Apostles provoked the Jews as they preached the resurrection (4:2).  The message of the resurrection caused the Gentiles to ridicule Paul, because it was beyond their understanding (Acts 17:32).  I would imagine it even stretched the faith of the disciples, as Jesus led them down from the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:9).  They came to understand that God’s goal in the work of the cross, was to destroy the power of death, making the way for immortality and the body that would live forever.

“And just as we have borne the image of the man made of dust, we will also bear the image of the heavenly man.”

 

This is an exhilarating thought!  It makes all the suffering, all the effort worth the cost.  If you are wondering and doubting about the resurrection of Jesus, with an open heart and mind, read all the verses that discuss the resurrection of Christ.  Compare that with the claims of the skeptics.  When the Son of Man rises in your heart, it will show in your life, as well.

-Dennis

 



04.02.2017

Five Ways People Find a Church – Ryan Nelson (Adapted)

 

  1. Church Websites – When people decide it’s time to start “going to church,” they’re going to ask Google about the churches near them. Assuming they don’t already have friends or family attending a particular church, the internet should provide them with enough information to decide what’s right for them. That’s why a website should be designed with visitors in mind. Otherwise we’re making it easier for people to say, “No thanks,” before they even make it to the door.

 

  1. Community events – Community events and service projects give staff, volunteers, and members an opportunity to grow personally, but they also provide a great way for people to discover Lakeview. Some people aren’t comfortable or interested in attending church, even if their friends or family regularly invite them. Community service gives your members a new opportunity to invite those people into a more comfortable encounter with the people of the congregation.

 

  1. Word-of-mouth – A personal invitation from a friend or family member is one of the best ways for a new person to discover the church. Relationships are one of the major reasons why people stay at a church, so if that’s what gets a visitor to your door, they have a meaningful connection to the congregation before you ever say a word to them. Special events and guest speakers are a great way to encourage the congregation to invite friends.

 

  1. Social media – Ryan Nelson said, “If your congregation isn’t using social media, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to reach new people.” It takes work to grow an online community and keep it active, but with a few hours per week, the congregation can more engaged and give them a frictionless way to share what’s happening. Sharing sermon slides, quotes, and passages from the sermon or Bible class is a positive use of social media and it allows people to see something encouraging in real time. (Darcy does an amazing job with this!!) 

 

  1. Location – A congregation in the middle of nowhere can still grow. There are enough other factors – including prayer and the Holy Spirit – that for churches, location isn’t everything. In the center of town, however, there are a lot more opportunities for people to stumble into the building, to ask questions about the congregation, and to become familiar with it.

A good location lets you display the name of the congregation, service times, and a friendly welcome message for our community to see.

 

Note that there are several things in this list that anyone could do to make Lakeview more visible.  That is what it takes for a Church to grow.  Implementing some of these basic strategies can help us to better teach our community the message of the Gospel.

 



03.19.2017

The name Joel means

Yahweh is God. The name is a composite consisting of the two most prominent names for God in the Hebrew Bible: Yahweh and Elohim. Likewise, the name Elijah means Yahweh is God, but the names for God are reversed.  It is intentional that the names of these prophets are highlighted in history.  Names mean something and in the case of the prophets, they become a wordplay that points us to an important truth. 

 

In the case of Joel, his message is one of God’s sovereignty in the affairs of people. 

Yahweh is God . People of faith learn that things that happen are not random.  In the book of Joel, God takes credit for the plague of locust, when he refers to it as the Day of the Lord.  The three events presented in Joel all are described as the Day of the Lord.  This does not mean that he causes all the catastrophic events that happen on the planet.  We are fully capable of wreaking havoc in the world ourselves. 

 

What it does mean is God is responsible for some things, and He sees the consequences of all events and He warns us of our peril.  This is valuable to believers because it instills in us the fact that God is active in the human story.  Events in history, mine and the world’s, can serve the role of getting me to evaluate my own life.  Often times, my actions and decisions can cause instability in my life and in the lives of people that my life touches.

 

Joel’s message to us is that Yahweh is God.  His very name teaches us that Yahweh is God and He created the world and He rules the world, with truth and mercy.  He hopes that all will be saved because in each of us is a part of Himself.  He allows circumstances to teach us that we are not in control, but there is something greater that animates the world.  When we possess that truth, we begin to stand in awe, and not cower in fear, of the ways that the circumstances of our lives give the opportunity for the power of God to be demonstrated.  More than anything, when it come to our relationship with God, He wants us to see and know that He is powerful.  By that power, He will do more than we ask or imagine.

-Dennis