Author: Mark Johnson

Stretching Your Soul

A man went to a blacksmith shop one morning to pick up a horseshoe that had been mended.  When he started to pay for the work, he was told there would be no charge for the job.  Insistently, he tried to force the money into the blacksmith’s hand.  The blacksmith’s reply is worth remembering.  Again refusing payment, he said, Ed, can’t you let a man do something now and then – just to stretch his soul?  What a provocative thought!  Does a man need to stretch his soul?  But how is it done?

Communion with God stretches the soul. 

Paul spoke of some whose souls were diseased and shriveled because their worship was defective (1 Cor. 11:30).   A proper sense of reverence and awe in the presence of God expands our spiritual perception. Large souls are developed through long hours of prayer, praise, worship, and devotion.  Our souls need to thirst for God (Ps. 42:1-2; Matt. 5:6).

Bible Study stretches the soul.

The study of the Bible is a broadening experience. We need to be like those Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11) and the Psalmist who treasured God’s word in his heart and meditated upon God’s word (read Psalm 119, yes all of it!).

Forgiveness stretches the soul.

Spiritual health is conditioned upon our willingness to forgive. Jesus said, “pardon and you will be pardoned” (Luke 6:37), and Paul wrote,forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Col. 3:13).  Resentment, hatred, and grudge-bearing are constricting bands that pinch and squeeze the soul. The miniaturization of the soul takes place when one refuses to forgive.

Service stretches the soul.

Service is the crux of Christianity. Jesus came not to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28).  Jesus told his disciples that “whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matt. 20:27). The extent of our service is the measure of our soul.

May we strain to enlarge our souls to the maximum capacity so that we may be stretched to the dimensions of God!

THE INFLUENCE OF GODLY WOMEN

Never underestimate the influence of godly women!

Godly women influence people toward God in relationships. Name the relationship that has a godly woman involved in it, and that relationship is being moved toward that which is good and right. It could be a marital relationship. It could be a parent-child relationship. It could be co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc. Think of the godly women that influenced your life, are you not thankful for their influence? We would not be the same without them! There is power here. Not hierarchical, delegated authority type of power. It is the grander power of influence through caring, protecting, nurturing, and loving.

Godly women influence people in the demonstration of godliness. The kindness and gentleness of godly women change us. Godly women demonstrate a desire for God and His word, which helps to create that same desire in the rest of us. When we have received the loving discipline of godly women, we were made better. When we witness the pursuit of godly priorities by godly women (even when it is difficult), a lesson is taught to all of us.

The influence of godly women extends outward. Jesus was financially supported by godly women (Luke 8:2-3). Paul was greatly blessed and encouraged by women. There was the unselfish Priscilla (Acts 18:2) and Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy (2 Tim. 1:5). Rufus’ mother was like a mother to Paul (Rom. 16:13). There was Lydia (Acts 16:14-15), Pheobe (Rom. 16:1), and so many others whose love and sincere service Paul experienced. When women reach out and encourage, mentor, and care for others around them, their influence for good is multiplied.

The influence of godly women models for us the proper way to handle trials and suffering in life. They put God and others above themselves and provide compelling examples for us. Women are smart, talented, and capable. They are CEOs, doctors, lawyers, judges, politicians, statespersons, and teachers. But the most potent influence of godly women is found in loving relationships (not accomplishments and positions).  Praise be to God for His wisdom in the creation of woman and the significant influence of women who have a heart for God and powerfully influence the rest of us for good.

Seeking God’s Presence

God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). God desires to support those who are seeking Him actively; therefore, “the “eyes of the LORD” scourer the earth for people whose hearts are wholly devoted to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). When God’s “eyes” look at you and me, does He find someone to “strongly support”? Does God “see” someone who yearns for the presence of God?

Psalm 27 is labeled as a psalm of David. In the psalm, David states that there is “one thing” that he seeks (Psalm 27:4). David hungered for the presence of God (Psalm 27:4).  David was single-minded in his pursuit of God’s presence. David that he worships because he finds God there. Worship is not about entertainment, what one can get out of it, having better families, about being a better person, or even what God can do for us. Many of those items are by-products of being a true worshipper of God, but none of them form the primary reason for worship. One is to worship because he or she is seeking God’s presence.

The “greatest command” of loving God with all of heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-38) is about pursuing God. Seeking God’s presence is not just one among many things that one does. Seeking God’s presence is not another item to check off of the “things to do today list.” Genuinely seeking God’s presence is a passion. It burns in the heart. People who seek God’s presence find the time to seek Him. They fill up their spare moments with God. People who seek God’s presence dig deep into God’s revelation (the Bible). Seeking God means being taught and conformed to God’s ways (Psalm 27:11).

Being in God’s presence now is a foretaste of eternity. The faith of those who seek God’s presence does not get “bent out of shape” when things go wrong. No, when life is not going so well, they just seek God more earnestly (Psalm 27:5-13). In the day of trouble, God’s seekers wait and take courage (Psalm 27:14).

Do you seek God’s presence? Is God’s presence a passion in your life, or is it a component of your life? Let us be like the psalmist and single-mindedly determine to seek the beauty of the Lord’s presence (Psalm 27:4).

TOO MANY OPINIONS AND NOT ENOUGH TRUTH

The title is a shameless adaptation of a line from the old Guess Who song “Undun.” The line from the song is “too many churches and not enough truth.” That line was correct in the late 1960s, and it is still true today. Forty years ago, Micheal Weed wrote, “ Christian theology is reflection on God and the implications of Christian faith for life” and “ to varying degrees and in different fashions it is the task of all Christians called to love God with their whole being (Restoration Quarterly, 23, 1980, 18). It is those “varying degrees and different fashions” that result in too many opinions and not enough truth.

It is not only the world of theology that experiences “too many opinions and not enough truth.” Have you noticed that everyone seems to be experts in scientific study and health care? There are “experts” saying and writing all sorts of things about COVID 19. People (including myself) then filter the information we gather and promote the one we have concluded is right. Who you trust to inform you about the current situation probably reveals more about you than it does the truth. I know people who claimed that a particular source was the reliable one a month ago, only to change who the reliable source now is (because the old “reliable source” no longer fits the narrative that is believed).

I am not a scientist or the son of a scientist, but I am confident that we do not have enough data to be totally accurate about what is going on. There has not been enough testing, reporting of data seems to be unreliable (there are numerous claims of the overreporting and underreporting of COVID cases), the virus mutates, and we are always behind it, and the list could go on.

I am a better student of ancient history than modern history, but I wish everyone would take some time to read up on the Spanish flu before we move too quickly to lifting constraints. Just because this is the first time in our lives that something like this is happening does not mean that something similar has not occurred before our lifetime. I just read an article by a “scientist” who claims that physical distancing does not work, and we do have enough data to show that it does. He seems to be painfully unaware that we have historical data from other pandemics that it does work. There is a saying that “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Another old saying is, “you do not know what you do not know.” This saying is so true for this current situation, for religion, and is one of the main reasons for “too many opinions and not enough truth.”

Neil de Grasse Tyson stated that it is often the case that people “have enough information on a subject to think you are right but not enough information to know that you are wrong.” That is a spot-on comment concerning “everyone is a health care expert,” “everyone is an economic expert,” “everyone is a scientist,” and “everyone is a theologian.” Too many opinions and not enough truth is the truth. This is my true opinion.

Remember the words of the sage,The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17).

LIFE APART CREATES A YEARNING FOR LIFE TOGETHER

How are we to think biblically about our present physical isolation? (I prefer “physical distancing” to “social distancing”).  How might our time apart sharpen our understanding of the church?

Our physical isolation should cause us to think anew about the church. This isolation, due to the pandemic, maybe a unique situation in our lifetimes; it is not the first time Christians have been inhibited from gathering together. Historically, these times apart have proven fertile ground for theological reflection on the nature of the Christian community, fellowship, and what it means to be together. The Roman poet Sextus is credited with the earliest version of the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

While we are blessed to be able to connect in so many ways through technology, that distance can produce a greater yearning to be together. Within the last few weeks, one of my sons called me. Something had happened, and he needed to talk to me. I am thankful that we could speak on the telephone, but I yearned to be with him.

It is a privilege for believers to live among other Christians. Dietrich Bonhoeffer emphasized the goodness and the gift of corporeal (physical) presence in his book Life Together. God created human beings with bodies. The Word became incarnate in a human body and was raised in a glorified body. Dwelling together in those bodies is a great privilege as Bonhoeffer wrote, “The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.”

Christ’s church remains His church, whether it be gathered or scattered. It is a community already realized by the work of Christ and the Spirit. It is a divine and eschatological reality, created by God, and it remains so.

Even in our isolation, we live as members of a divine reality, a community made real by God through Christ and by the Spirit. Yet as we yearn for physical presence, we are grateful that we have several ways of being connected and that we have not lost the divine reality that makes the church the church.

Our physical distance from each other is an occasion for critical reflection. Do we miss the Christian community or something else? Some are concerned that people will not return once the physical distancing restrictions are lifted. My conviction is that those who have a heart for God and His people are thankful we have a means of connecting now but desire the when we will be physically together again. Maybe this time of being physically apart will make the times of being physically together become more valuable to us.

Mark Johnson

Still Empty

Among the great days in the history of God’s people, none is more important than resurrection Sunday. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundational fact of Christianity.  The composite event of the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus forms the crux of Christianity. Still, the historical reality of the resurrection is that which demands the world’s attention. The validity of the Christian faith rests on the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. We are Christians because we believe: Jesus is alive (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:2, 10; 10:40); He ministers before God the Father as our High Priest (Heb. 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-15); He is active and powerful in this world (Col. 1:16-17); and He will come again as Redeemer and Judge (Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1).

The resurrection of Jesus is what sets Jesus and Christianity apart from every other religion and philosophy. If the resurrection were not true, then Christianity is a pathetic delusion (1 Cor. 15:14, 17) and the horrible death at Golgotha would be one among millions of tragic deaths were it not for the empty tomb. If Jesus has indeed risen, then everything He said was true (Jn. 8:32). He is God incarnate (Jn. 1:1, 14; 20:28). His death is the atoning sacrifice for sins (Mt. 20:28; 26:28).  His understanding of the Old Testament is correct (Lk. 24:44-45). The apostles really were inspired by the Holy Spirit as He said they would be (Jn. 14:26; 16:13). The New Testament is the word of the living God, not philosophic or religious speculation (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If Jesus has risen from the dead, He is Lord of all things, and every person must submit to Him (Phil. 2:8-11).  He will return to redeem those who are His and to judge those who continue to rebel (Mt. 25:31-46).

Every Sunday is resurrection day (it does not come just once a year). Every baptism is a reenactment of and participation in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6:3-7). The resurrection of Jesus changes the way we view everything (2 Cor. 5:14-17).  Are you living your life based on the implications of the still empty tomb?

Holy Handwashing

I have been pretty good about hygiene habits, but the current pandemic is making me step up my habits. This includes things like using the paper towel to turn off the water faucet and open the doors in public places.

It also includes washing my hands for twenty seconds. I have done a pretty good of washing my hands, but that twenty seconds seems like a long time. When I obtained a food handlers permit several years ago in the state of Washington for our Family Camp, they taught us to sing one of the short children’s songs to sing while hand washing to wash our hands for a long enough period.

There is a better help for God’s people to wash our hands for twenty seconds. One brother suggested that we wash our hearts while we wash our hands! Why not use handwashing time to memorize and rehearse passages of Scripture?

The following passages can be memorized, and they take about twenty seconds to recite.

Matthew 6:9-13. This text is Jesus’ instruction to the crowds and the disciples (Matthew 5:1; 7:29) about praying to the Father. The prayer covers five primary areas of life. Give your prayer life a boost while washing your hands.

Galatians 5:22-23. As we wash our hands, we can be reminded of the character that the Spirit is active in cultivating in God’s people.

2 Peter 1:5-8. Peter wrote about the development of one’s faith toward spiritual maturity. Reciting this passage can help remind us of the attributes we need to have in our lives.

Philippians 4:6-8. An excellent text to turn our anxieties over to God.

If you are really dedicated and want to have super clean hands, you may want to take on a little longer texts while washing your hands.

Psalm 23:1-6. This well known and dearly loved text is a beautiful reminder of the Lord during hand washing.

Galatians 5:19-21. This text about the “works of the flesh” is a good one to remind one of the attitudes and actions to weed out of our lives.

Let’s keep both our hands and hearts clean!

Worship Service for March 29

The worship service for Sunday, March 29, 2020 will be at 10:00 AM and available in three ways.
  1. Facebook Live – go the Columbine church of Christ Facebook page at 10:00 AM. I do not have a link to just click (like last week) since the feed is originating with Zoom.
  2. Zoom, see below:
You are invited to a Zoom webinar.
When: Mar 29, 2020 10:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Columbine Worship
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
  1. Phone, see below:
Or iPhone one-tap :
    US: +16699009128,,224730217#  or +13462487799,,224730217#
Or Telephone:
    Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
        US: +1 669 900 9128  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 646 558 8656  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799
    Webinar ID: 224 730 217
Choose one of the phone numbers and then you will be asked to enter the Webinar ID number followed by the # sign.

Message From The Columbine Shepherds

Dear Columbine members,

Here is the current plan for the Columbine church of Christ during the Coronavirus Pandemic (as of 3/27/20):

We will discontinue meeting at the church building for all activities until the stay-at-home order is lifted (currently April 19th for Jefferson County).

If you know any members who do not have email, please let them know about this announcement.

The worship service will be live-streamed on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. (as best we can). Our current plan is to use Facebook Livestream for the members (on the Columbine church of Christ Facebook page) with ZOOM for those leading the worship.

The collection of the saints: electronic contributions can now be made using Zelle or through the mail. The church’s Zelle account is attached to our email,  columbinechurchofchrist@outlook.com. Please see below or contact Dave if you need help setting up a Zelle transfer. Thank you.

Columbine church of Christ

7543 South Zephyr Ct

Littleton, CO 80128

 

Mat 5:6  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Mat 5:7  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

 

In Christ,

The Columbine elders

Notes: CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html

 

Columbine is now set up to receive via Zelle.

Here’s a list of the banks that are participating in Zelle:

  • Ally Bank
  • Bank of America
  • Bank of the West
  • BB&T
  • BECU
  • Capital One
  • Citi
  • Citizens Bank
  • Comerica Bank
  • ConnectOne Bank
  • Dollar Bank
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • FirstBank
  • First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • First National Bank
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • KeyBank
  • M&T Bank
  • Morgan Stanley
  • PNC Bank
  • SunTrust Bank
  • TD Bank
  • USAA
  • S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo

Updated Information From The Elders

The current plan for the Columbine church of Christ during the Coronavirus Pandemic (as of 3/20/20):

Due to concerns about the Coronavirus, the elders ask every member to use their own good judgment relative to attending worship at Columbine. We have decided to only meet for worship on Sundays (keep reading). We will discontinue the 9:00 a.m. Bible class and Wednesday night classes until further notice.

We want everyone to be safe during this time. If you know any members who do not have email, we encourage you to let them know about this announcement.

Mark is working on streaming his sermons on line. We’ll keep you updated as progress is made on this so that we, as the Columbine body, can keep some continuity.

——————————– – – –

The Columbine elders encourage, praise, and support the following measures:

· Pray to God that He will curtail the impact of the Coronavirus.

· If you are sick or do not feel well, please stay home.

· If you or members of your household are elderly or have any high risk factor, please stay home.

· If you have a conviction about not participating in gatherings during the pandemic, please stay home.

· If you are among those that intend to meet for worship, please select one worship time to attend (10 am or 1 pm) and notify Dave at 720-841-4922 or , indicating the service time you plan to attend. If the number attending one service is excessive, we may ask you to be flexible and attend at the other time.

——————————– – – –

Taking communion and the collection will be handled as follows:

(members do not pass trays or baskets)

Servers wash their hands before worship.

Keep every other pew empty.

Servers will pass down the empty pews to serve communion so members do not have to touch the trays or baskets.

——————————– – – –

The collection of the saints: The elders recognize that members’ financial situations may be uncertain or severely impacted during this time. However, the church’s expenses continue regardless of whether we meet at the building. The Lord asks us to give cheerfully as we have prospered. If you are able, please mail a check into the church office. Also, we are investigating ways to contribute electronically. Thank you.

Columbine church of Christ

7543 South Zephyr Ct

Littleton, CO 80128