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The Lost Art of Listening

Most of us aren’t great at listening. When someone is talking, we are thinking of what we want to say next,
rather than seeking to understand them. This can cause challenges in our relationships with others. But have you
ever thought about how that affects your relationship with God?
 

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How to Get the Most Out of Online Worship

As we enter into another month of online worship, I wanted to share a few tips about how to get the most out of
worship during this time.
 
1. Remove Distractions – One of the challenges of online worship is that it is easy to get distracted.
Whether it’s by some app notification on your phone or that pile of bills that need to be paid, distractions
can steal your focus. Do your best to create an environment conducive to worship. Allowing yourself to
be fully present in worship will help you connect to God that much easier.
 
2. Sing along – Usually when we consume digital media, we are strictly passive observers. We hope that
you will actually sing along during the worship time. Turn up the volume and join your voice to ours.
You aren’t singing to a tv screen, after all, you’re singing to the same God who is with you just as much
at your home as He is at the church building.
 
3. Interact – Let us know you’re here! One of the hardest parts of online worship for those of us on stage is
the absence of people in the room. Liking the stream, commenting, and/or sharing not only help us know
you are “with” us, but it also helps boost the post so that more people can be reached with the message!
 
4. Worship together – Just because we can’t ALL worship together in person does not mean NONE of us
can. If you have family, co-workers, or friends that you are already spending a great deal of time with,
then feel free to meet up for worship. Worshiping with six or seven people may not be the same as
worshipping with eighty or a couple hundred, but it’s often better than being by yourself.
 
5. Ask for help – As a very practical final note, if you are having an issue connecting, let us know! We
know this is still a new thing, and some of you may not yet be familiar with how to connect. Sometimes,
like last Sunday, we might have issues on our end too, so checking in helps you know if the issue is on
your end or ours.
 
This isn’t the ideal worship situation for any of us, but it’s the best option we have right now to keep people
safe. We love you all and hope you will continue to draw closer to God even through this challenging time.


Jesus And…

Today we are starting a new devo series on the book of Galatians. This book, along with Romans, contains
some of the clearest explanations of our justification by faith alone.
 
Paul begins by saying to the Galatians: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called
you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all,” (vv. 6-7). The
“different gospel” was a gospel of legalism. People in Galatia were saying that Jesus wasn’t enough, but we also
needed to do good works. Paul clearly says that, while we should live good lives as a response to our salvation,
the works don’t save us.

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The Ultimate King

In this divisive election season, it’s easy for Christians to get caught up in very un-Christ-like behavior.
As we enter into election day, here are two points for Christians to remember.
 
I. Christians are called to be good citizens – Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be
obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to
be gentle toward everyone. (Titus 3:1-2) In the early days of the church, this meant simply obeying whatever the
emperor said (as long as it didn’t conflict with their obedience to God). In America, that gets a bit trickier,
because, at least in theory, we, the people, ARE the government. This means we should be involved in the
process. Learn about the candidates. Vote wisely. And, if you feel something needs changed, work to be that
agent of change within the bounds of the law. But in all things remember that your behavior reflects on Christ.
Act in a way that would bring Him honor.

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Luther

Halloween is also Reformation Day, which celebrates the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the
Wittenberg Church. This is usually seen as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. One of Luther’s biggest
complaints was against the selling of indulgences, which were documents that were supposed to cut years off of a
person’s time in purgatory. In doing so, Luther also indirectly attacked the role of the Pope and undermined the idea of
purgatory altogether.
 
Later, Luther stood trial for his writings. Tradition tells us he said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Luther stood for the
truth of the Scripture in a time where standing up for his faith could get him killed. He knew, like the apostles in the Book
of Acts, that it is better to obey God rather than men. If you face a conflict this week with the Word of God on one side,
and people in authority on the other side, we must always stand on the Word of God. We can do no other.


Anabaptists

As we continue to look at various Protestant Reformers, I want to introduce you to a group most people are
probably unfamiliar with. The Anabaptists were a group of reformers that rejected infant baptism and believed in full
immersion. Some Anabaptists were pacifists and others were fairly militant, but all stood for believer baptism.
 
The reason I bring them up is that the Independent Christian Church, of which we are a part, dated back to the
early 1800’s, but our understanding of baptism can be traced through the centuries all the way to very earliest days of the
Church. There has always been a remnant that has understood baptism as for believers, not infants, and to be done by full
immersion. In fact, every church document before about 250 AD describes baptism as being for believers and linked
strongly with salvation.
 
Our stance on baptism, while different than many other churches, has a strong history throughout the ages and
almost universally held in the earliest days of the Church. In fact, it dates at least to the Day of Pentecost, where Peter
said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”


John Wycliffe

October 31, in addition to being Halloween, is also “Reformation Day”, which is the day Martin Luther nailed
the 95 Theses to the door of Wittenburg Church and started the Protestant Reformation. Like almost all
non-Catholic churches, our church is Protestant, and so I felt it might be worthwhile to spend each week in
October talking about various reformers.

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Rejoice and Be Glad

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice
and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you. —
Matthew 5:11-12
 
If people criticize you for being a Christian, you are in good company. Consider what the prophets, apostles and
our Lord himself endured. But remember this: Your critics have no more power than you give them. If you start getting
paranoid and running scared and begin to respond in kind, you will appear
weaker even to your supporters.
 
Prayerfully consider suggestions from constructive critics. But keep cool and ignore nitpickers. Seek to please
God, and God’s people will usually be pleased with you.
 
Remember the blessing Jesus gives to those who are persecuted for doing good. They are like the prophets, and
their reward in heaven will be great.


Every Knee Shall Bow

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. –Philippians 2:10–11
 
The Philippian Hymn concludes with this interesting passage. Some people have interpreted this passage to
mean that everyone will be saved in the end. Some have seen it as hyperbole. I believe that the best way to
interpret this verse is that, at the return of Jesus, every human being alive, no matter where they are, will be
forced to admit that Jesus is Lord. When Jesus returns, everyone will fall to their knees in awe. Christians will
fall in wonder and awe, and those who rejected Christ will realize their mistake. It will be too late to change
their mind, but they will realize who Jesus is.


Fridge Rights

After my sermon yesterday, Jackie and I were discussing the service and she said, “I thought you were going to
mention ‘fridge rights’ the way you were going.” I told her that I hadn’t even thought of it, but it would have
been a perfect addition to the sermon on unity. The term ‘fridge rights’ comes from a book we read a long time
ago that describes a deep enough level of friendship that when you’re at their house, you don’t have to ask to
get something from the fridge, you can just help yourself. You usually find this kind of closeness only between
family members or lifelong friends.
 
Who has ‘fridge rights’ in your life? Are there people who have a deep enough relationship with you to ask hard
questions, to be there for you no matter what? That’s true unity.