Sept. 28: Connected Through Words

By Van Richmond
Pastor, New Life Church, Nashville

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:25-32

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan spoke in front of the Brandenburg Gate beside the Berlin Wall, the heavily-guarded symbol of the Iron Curtain. West Berlin Mayor Willy Brandt called this divider of freedom and people the “Wall of Shame.” Reagan’s speech, which Time ranked as number 10 among the world’s all-time greatest speeches, is remembered for four words: “Tear down this wall!” The seed planted by the President’s words took root and produced fruit just 29 months later when East Germany opened the Berlin Wall.

The East Germans were not the only ones involved in erecting barriers that kept families apart. History demonstrates Christians have built many of the walls that keep people from developing a relationship with their heavenly Father. Even the esteemed theologian John Wesley declared that the world would be Christian were it not for the Christians! What words, then, would be required to tear down those walls, to free those who face an eternity of imprisonment? [Read more…]

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Sept. 21: Why One of Us?

Chuck Williams
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Covington

Sunday School Lessons explore the bibleFocal Passage: Hebrews 2:14-18

Years ago as a young preacher, my wife and I packed up our possessions and moved to upstate New York to become a church planter. The work was challenging but rewarding. One of the barriers we faced was our speech. Whenever I would open my mouth and begin to speak, my West Tennessee accent would betray me. The statement would then come, “You aren’t from around here, are you?” In other words, “You aren’t one of us.” Gradually they began to accept us, but some with great reluctance.

Why did Jesus become one of us? [Read more…]

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Sept. 21: Connected in Growth

Van Richmond
Pastor, New Life Church, Nashville

Sunday School Lesson Bible Studies For LifeFocal Passage: Ephesians 4:11-16

Some people fondly recall the days of their childhood, reminiscing with great appreciation the slower pace of that bygone time. A glance in your rearview mirror would reveal different recollections than anyone else’s, but you would discover one link that connected all children. Whether urban or country, rich or poor, easy life or one filled with struggle, all kids shared a common goal: we wanted to grow up.

Age and height put kids at a severe disadvantage, but growing up would remove the barriers to an entire world that was off limits to children — the more thrilling rides at the carnival, going to school, staying up later, getting a driver’s license, dating, college, a job with lots of money, etc. All of these things, and more, would be magically within our reach. We just had to grow. [Read more…]

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Sept. 14: Pay Attention

By Chuck Williams
Pastor, First Baptist, Covington

Focal Passage: Hebrews 2:1-4

Before the advent of GPS technology farmers learned to plow a straight furrow by picking out an object at the other end of the field. Whether they plowed with a mule or tractor, they kept their eyes focused to the object. If a rabbit popped up or a bird flew close by, the farmer could not afford to turn to look. A washed out gully was observed accordingly with adjustments made, but the eye would quickly go back to the object.

The writer of Hebrews had something of this in mind when he warns about the danger of drifting from the words of Christ. We all have our daily pressures and problems but as long as we can see Jesus in the same picture, we will be safe.

Chapter 1 refers to the superiority of Jesus’ message to the law. Because He is superior in revelations we ought to listen closely and not drift as the Jews did in the Old Testament. The word “drift” was used of snow slipping off a soldier’s back or of a boat allowed to drift from its mooring. [Read more…]

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Sept. 14: Connected in Unity

By Van Richmond
Pastor, New Life Church, Nashville

Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:1-6

In a world filled with disagreement and divergent opinions, how does one go about achieving unity? Kristi’s T-shirt boldly and humorously answered that question: “Agree With Me Now. It Will Save Sooooo Much Time.”

If you asked a coach, university president, or corporate CEO to list essentials for success, “unity” would be mentioned quickly, with their responses likely being expressed as harmony, cohesiveness, or having everyone on the same page. Oh, if only unity and harmony could be achieved so easily! As difficult as it might be to imagine in today’s pay-with-plastic world, the owner of a donut shop has been dubbed the “Donut Nazi” because of his furious refusal when a customer wants to pay with a credit or debit card, often telling the shocked buyer to get out of his store. This shopkeeper’s livid tirades fly in the face of American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard’s advice, “Minimize friction and create harmony. You can get friction for nothing, but harmony costs courage and self-control.” [Read more…]

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Sept. 7: Who is Jesus?

By Chuck Williams
Pastor, First Baptist, Covington

Focal Passage: Hebrews 1:1-4

Very few enjoy standing in line for an extended period of time. One particular man had decided he had waited long enough in the line to purchase an airline ticket. Shoving others aside he plunged to the counter and demanded of the ticket agent, “Don’t you know who I am?” Without hesitation the agent calmly grabbed the microphone and spoke these words over the public address system, “Your attention please. This is an emergency announcement. We have a gentleman here who does not know who he is. Would someone come and identify him for us?” [Read more…]

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Sept. 7: Connected in Christ

By Van Richmond
Pastor, New Life Church, Nashville

Focal Passage: Ephesians 2:17-22

Nobel Peace Prize winner and theologian Albert Schweitzer once astutely noted, “We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.” While it seems difficult to imagine anyone could possibly feel isolated on a planet inhabited by over seven billion people, the reality is the esteemed Schweitzer’s observation is as accurate today as during his lifetime. What could be missing that would be so important?

Deep, meaningful connections. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” The need for relationships left the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve and endures yet today. People embark upon multiple journeys in the never-ending effort to connect. They might seek others with similar hobbies, goals, or careers. Others might join a church or perform volunteer duties. Individuals even join dating websites in hopes of discovering the love of their life. “We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness.” [Read more…]

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