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What is the Church? I thought I knew, and then I looked up the definition online. Google came up with a “place of worship, house of God, house of worship, cathedral, abbey, chapel, basilica, megachurch, synagogue, and mosque.”

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which means, “called out ones.” It’s a group of people called out for worship, instruction, fellowship, outreach and service--not the place where they meet. Google’s definition is a bit like looking up the definition of a Ferrari and getting, “place to store or work on cars, a garage, shed, service station.”

Look at a picture of a Ferrari 250 GTO and look at your garage. Even a Prius owner can tell the difference.

A local church is a group of believers who meet together… somewhere. Romans 16:5 says, “Greet also the church that meets at their house.” The house wasn’t the church, the church just met there.

So where can the church meet?

Anywhere I suppose. My dad was involved in church meetings with captured soldiers in WWII anywhere they could get permission to set up. I knew a guy in Arizona that started churches in bars. What was most shocking is…

He was Baptist.

That may be why he didn’t drink. Maybe that helped him stay focused on the job?

The universal church is the body of Christ, consisting of all who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. Paul puts it this way, 1Cor 12:13(NIV2011)  “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free.” And, Eph 1:22(NIV2011) “God placed all things under his [Jesus’] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,  23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Being saved, being part of the body of Christ has nothing to do with what building you worship in. It has everything to do with whom you worship. “Churches” are only churches in so much as they have people called out to worship Jesus Christ as their Savior together. We can argue over whether people in other denominations--or in our own assembly--really know Christ, but ultimately that is the job of Christ.

This brings us to one of our AnchorPoint Distinctives: “We Are Partners in God’s Grand Work. Because we believe there is one God, and one universal body of Christ, we will partner with like-minded individuals, churches and organizations in any way that will better fulfill our Purpose, Mission, and Vision.

  • Our purpose is to bring glory to God and enjoy Him forever
  • Our mission is to love God and our neighbors and to make disciples of all nations
  • Our vision is to become a gospel-centered family impacting our community with the hope of Christ.

It may take us a few weeks, “to make disciples of all nations.” OK, maybe longer. Yet, that is the Mission Jesus gave us. How will we ever do it?

We will do it through the power of the Holy Spirit, understanding that the “Us” is the church universal. That is why we partner with Cameroon and Haiti and CareNet and on Good Friday with Wellspring Anglican, and probably others I can’t remember. I expect the list of partners will grow as our mission to make disciples begins to be fulfilled.

As beautiful as AnchorPoint is, with its tremendous views of the mountains and Rio Grande, it’s nothing compared to the church that meets within its walls. It’s like comparing a Ferrari to a garage.

See you Sunday for: We Believe in One Church.

Have you ever wondered why the Bible talks about an “Antichrist,” but not about an “Antigod?” 
 
I think I know why.
 
It’s easier to make God into our own image, than to make Christ into our own image. Ancient Egypt worshipped Babi, a blood-thirsty baboon. Baron Samedi is a Haitian Voodoo deity with a face like a skull, who wears a black top hat, a long black coat, sunglasses and a cane. We want our made-up gods because they are wimpy gods. They allow us to do what we want, selfishly sinning without consequence or change. 
 
Jesus isn’t like that. He is the one true God with skin on, and that makes Him harder to warp into our image. He is the center of the gospel: He came for us, lived for us, died for us, rose for us, and is coming back for us. This makes Jesus the one and only good news. 
 
Pastor Joseph Stowell of Moody Memorial Church was upset when he was invited to a Chicago Prayer Breakfast. In it, he said they had a Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, and a Rabbi pray together in unison, symbolizing that they all worshipped the same God.
 
But we don’t.
 
This is pressure to give up Jesus. Jesus gets in the way when He says things like, John 14.6(NIV2011)  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 
 
It’s uncomfortable. It’s unpopular. It’s exclusive. It’s true.
 
The pressure started when the first church was just weeks old. The religious leaders, the very ones who had Jesus crucified just a couple months earlier, arrested, and put pressure on Peter to give up Jesus. Peter responded, Acts 4.11(NIV2011)   Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” 
 
May we have that same boldness! 
 
I hope you can join us for the next part of the Nicene Creed: [We believe] in the one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made.
 
Dan
 

We know the Bible talks about small groups, that the first church started by meeting at the temple and in small groups, and for hundreds of years church services were held in homes, due to persecution. Small groups are necessary for spiritual growth, accountability, to serve and be served, and to get some great food you just can’t get at Taco Bell. 

But, they can still be scary. Here are 3 reasons they scare me…

  1. I might get exposed. I’m not scared of forgetting to wear clothes, or the flu bug going around, but I’ve been afraid people won’t like me when they really know me. We can all be a bit like Adam, when God came looking for him after his sin, and he says, “I was afraid because I was naked, and so I hid.” God made Adam, had seen him without clothes, so what is Adam so afraid of? He is afraid God won’t like him when He really knows him.

What is the cure to this fear? Love. Love means we can be exposed and unashamed. God is like that. So is a good friend, and a good small group. It’s the body of Christ in action.

  1. I might get irritated. OK, let’s admit it. Every group has the person who is always late, the person who shares about his brothers, friends, wife, step-mother with gout, the person who gets sensitive when you get sarcastic, the dogmatic person who shuts you down, and the extremely insensitive person who forgets chips for the homemade salsa.

What is the cure to this fear? Love others. For some reason, God loves variety. As we become more like Him, we will love others also. There is nothing like our family and our small group family to make us more like Christ.

  1. I might get rejected. I’ve been the last chosen on teams, been dumped by girlfriends - do I really want to open myself up to that possibility again? Absolutely. If not I never would have been on a team, or found JoLynn.

What is the cure to this fear? Get over yourself. Insecurity kills relationships, but love builds relationships. How can we pray for others, serve others, bring others into the Kingdom, and get corrected when we go off the rails without relationships? We need to get over ourselves, love others and allow ourselves to be loved by others.

This happens best in small groups. 

We have a big group meeting at 10:02 this Sunday morning. Hope you can join us.

Dan

After attending three memorials in eight days, death has been on my mind - but not in a weird way, in a good way. I’ve seen faith passed down from father to son to grandkids, and heard some amazing testimonies of lives well lived. It helped me remember an old truth.
 
God determines the dates on your tombstone, but your family writes your epitaph. 
 
Here are five of my favorites, some good, some just fun:
 
1. From Nova Scotia: Here lies Ezekiel Aikle. Age 102. The good die young. So much for kind Canadians.
2. From England: The children of Israel wanted bread, and the Lord sent them manna. Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife, and the Devil sent him Anna. Ouch.
3. Another from England, probably the saddest: Tom Smith is dead, and here he lies; nobody laughs and nobody cries; where his soul’s gone, or how it fares; nobody knows, and nobody cares. 
4. Can you guess who this one was written for? Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m free at last. Beautiful. Martin Luther King Jr. 
5. Can you guess who this one was written for? Jesus Mercy. Al Capone
 
I hope you can join us Sunday as we focus on AnchorPoint’s second Distinctive, Devoted to the Family. It’s time to start living with our epitaph is mind.
 
Dan
 

1 – A New Class. We are having a child dedication class at 8:30 in Dan’s office this Sunday, Jan 7. Not for you? No problem…

2 – A New Series for the New Year. It’s called OUR DNA: God’s Vision For Our Hearts. I’m excited about this Sunday as we learn about God’s grace to us, and how it changes how we relate to others. Not for you? Well, since grace is about giving, I’ll be gracious and suggest…

3 – A New Author. I came across a poem written by Meredith Steinfeldt this week, and wanted to share it with you.

 

The Timeless Clocksmith 

You are the creator of time, yet you transcend time

Is your presence not a covering for yesterday, today, and tomorrow?

Do I need to fear the future, for you foreknew it before m first breath?

I have pondered, does it really make a difference to get through another day?

Yet, you restored my hope and are restoring my hope

You have revealed to me your perfect purpose at the perfect moment

Will you not carry me through tomorrow?

Does everything really not hold together through you?

Will my eternal holy God really not keep His promise?

You will not leave me at times l need you most

When I have tried to do everything in my own strength again and failed, 

Are you not present gently reminding me to turn to you?

Will you not part my Red Sea and guide me safely through?

Why do I plunge into the unknown, when you have not called me there?

Still you cause me to return to you

You bring forth what I must have, when I must have it 

When I am overwhelmed by the blackness of night let me be overwhelmed by you and your light

Your timing is perfect, your tempo is not too fast or slow

I am the one who cannot stay on the pulse of this unique, wonderful hymn you are making of me

When my thoughts run ahead or lag behind you are still there

You will never walk out on me

Happy New Year, Meredith

And Dan