Measuring The Spiritual Quality of our congregation

Good attendance (praise God for it) may not always  mean spiritual growth. Generous giving may not be a sign of Godly loyalty. But we are blessed by those who assemble and give generously. Christians who attend regularly and give sacrifically express an interest in the congregation’s ministries. Thus, having an interest encourages involvement and involvement promotes a greater service to our Lord.
Perhaps, most of us perceive a strong congregation as one in which all of its ministries are active and growing. But the spiritual quality of the congregation extends beyond that. People who are converted to Jesus compose a spiritual congregation. Preachers who  “preach the Word” as opposed to rehashing familiar cliches and prepetuating church traditions help to enhance the congregations spiritual quality. Deacons who provide positive examples and become good role models strengthen the congregation.
The foundation of a congregations Spiritual quality, however, is predicated upon our complete dependency on Jesus our Lord.  The more we love Him and rely upon Him and obey Him the more zeal and effort and determination we will have to do His will.
Remember our Lord stated that as a branch is dependent upon the vine for life and fruitfulness “Without Him we can do nothing” John 15:5
Dr. Taylor A. McKenzie

The Importance of Arriving At Biblical Truth

How may we be sure that our Christian beliefs and practices are approved of God? I believe that most people who desire to establish and sustain a relationship to Jesus Christ desire the approval of our Heavenly Father. However, it is sometimes interesting to discover how some people arrive at that which they believe to be Biblical truth.
For example, it is not uncommon for some well-meaning people to base their “Christianity” on emotions. In other words, a person feels strongly about something that is done for Jesus and because the strength of the feeling is so dominant, one believes that feeling to be the “truth.”  Thus, there are those who proceed from feeling to fact. By following that procedure one could establish almost any belief as a Biblical fact. Also, by placing feelings first, one betrays the very purpose of the Bible which is to reveal that which is true. (John 17:17). We should base our religious feelings upon Biblical fact and not fact upon our feelings, such as “this has always been the Church’s position” or “We have always taught it this way.”
Then there are those who first believe that “something” is a fact.  And because the belief is a strong one, to them it must be the truth simply because they believe it. Such people attempt to adjust the Bible to their beliefs as opposed to adjusting their beliefs to the Bible or they “create” an inference. The attitude of placing belief before fact has resulted in the accusation that “you can make the Bible anything.” Such an indictment is true if the procedure is from faith to fact to feelings.
The Bible order of following a lifestyle which God approves is: FACT (Biblical evidence), FAITH (believing the evidence), FEELINGS (an emotional response to the evidence). Paul stated it best “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The Bible way is not feelings first, or belief first, or this is what the church teaches. But Scriptural fact first, then basing our beliefs and feelings upon the facts of God’s Word (John 17:17, John 13:17).
What order do you employ to arrive at Christian truth? Are your beliefs and feelings supported by Biblical fact?    
Dr. Taylor A. McKenzie

Lifting The Weight of Our Burdens

In a stirring scene from the 1986 movie, The Mission, a guilt-ridden slave trader, Mendoza, struggles to climb a treacherous mountain while carrying an overloaded pack of armor and weapons. He purposely selected this cumbersome burden as penance for the violent sins in his past.
At the peak of a mountain and the height of his frustration, Mendoza balances precariously at an impassible ridge—his awkward bag preventing him from moving another inch. As he pulls with every ounce of his strength, a young native boy suddenly comes toward him. When the boy draws a large knife, Mendoza fears for his life. Yet, the youth has something else in mind—he cuts the heavy pack from Mendoza’s back and lets it fall into the deep raven.
Unable to communicate with each other, the two men embrace as Mendoza’s tears reveal his deep feelings of gratefulness and    relief.
Though sin mars the life of each of us, God has not called us to carry the weight of guilt on our backs. Neither does He require us to atone for our wrongdoings. Instead, God sent His only Son   Jesus to bear the sin of the entire world. His blood was shed to relieve us of the debt  that each of us owed to God. (John 3:16).
What burden area you carrying right now? Will you allow Jesus to “cut the ties” and receive you into His outstretched arms?