Going straight to the Cross
 

Why Invite People to Church?

by Phil Sanders

Though 85 percent of Americans call themselves Christians, only 69 percent of Americans regard themselves as church members. Only 43 percent will attend church on a given Sunday. Another twenty-two percent will attend occasionally. Only 22 percent of Americans attend Bible classes on Sunday mornings. There are now 79 million “unchurched” people in America.

Many of these people are “notional” Christians. They claim to be Christians but do not practice their Christianity by church attendance. These are people who need a church home.

Why do they need a church home? For the same reasons you do. They need the spiritual help and climate going to church provides. They need to hear the Scripture preached and to remember the Lord’s death in His Supper. They need to praise the Lord in song and to pray about their needs. They need the Lord’s help and teaching from week to week.

They also need a church home, because we all need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Life has a way of handing us surprises. It means so much to have the support of loving brothers and sisters who will pray with us and for us when we need them. Solomon was right when he said that “two are better than one” (Eccl. 4:9). There is strength in numbers, and brothers and sisters assure our hearts when they walk beside us in serving the Lord. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17).
Surely you know someone who needs a church home. Won’t you help them? Bring them to the Lord.

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Persuaded, but without Knowledge

by Phil Sanders

Helena Modjeska (1844-1909) was a popular actress with great emotional style and superb ability. She demonstrated this ability by giving a dramatic reading in Polish, her native tongue, at a dinner party. Her listeners, who didn’t understand the language, were in tears by the time she had finished. If they had known what she said, they would not have been so impressed. She had just recited the Polish alphabet.

Paul said some people are “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). They may know a lot about religion, they may even know a lot about Christianity, but they are never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
Paul said of his kinsman, the Jews, “that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom. 10:2-3). It matters whether or not we know the things God teaches and whether we are willing to submit to it. We can never assume that because people know the truth they are willing to obey it.

The best thing we can do for others is to teach the truth, live honorable lives, love others, and be unafraid to speak out when we have opportunity. Give your friend a tract or a tape. Invite them to church. Say a good word about Jesus now and then. Never give up on them. There may be some event or some problem open their eyes to look for heavenly help, and you may be able to talk to them. Pray for God’s wisdom and God’s help.

We can live our lives in total commitment to the Lord. Paul told Timothy, “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it” (2 Tim. 3:13-14). Though the whole world be ignorant, let us live as people who know and love God.

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Test Your Potency

by Phil Sanders

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matt. 5:13).

The salt used in Palestine came mostly from the Dead Sea, which is also sometimes called the Salt Sea (Gen. 14:3). One can find vast salt deposits around the edges of this body of water, which is 1,290 feet below sea level. Water that flows in has no place to go. The extreme heat in the area causes the water to evaporate and leave its deposits there. The evaporation of one cubic mile of sea water would leave approximately 140 million tons of salts, most of which would be sodium chloride, or common salt.

Often the salt around this sea would get polluted by winds or people and animals walking on the surface of the salt. Polluted salt, then, was dug up with the purer kinds and sold in the markets. A customer getting polluted salt could do nothing with it except to throw it out. It was no good. It could not do what it was intended to do.

Salt blesses foods by seasoning them. It brings out the taste in food. It also cleanses and preserves some foods. Where would country ham be without salt?
How potent are you in your Christian life?

Does anyone know you are a Christian? Some people are acquainted for years and yet do not know the other is a Christian.

Does your life proclaim that the Lord matters to you? Can people see Christ living in you by the way you act, you dress, and you talk?

Does anyone want the Christian life you have? If others look at the way you live, would they want the faith, joy and love you have? Does any imitate you?

Do you have a light people need? If people you know needed spiritual help, would they come to you for it?

You are the salt of the earth! Be salty!

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Commitment

by Phil Sanders

Commitment is the act of committing, pledging or engaging oneself. It is regarded as a pledge or a promise. When we became Christians, we committed ourselves to take up our cross and follow Christ daily. This commitment was for a lifetime. In Christianity there is no such thing as a temporary commitment or a partial commitment.
When the pilot of a giant airliner is speeding down the runway, there is a certain point where he cannot decide to remain on the ground. When he crosses that line, he is committed to the air. If he doesn’t, the plane will crash disastrously. That pilot cannot change his mind when the plane is two-thirds of the way down the runway. He must make his decision from the beginning and stay with it to become airborne.
Many members of the church have obeyed the gospel, leaving the old man of sin; but they seem to sit at the beginning of the runway revving the engines but never moving. They have been saved but have never gotten engaged in their faith. Christianity is not a spectator sport, everyone must compete against an enemy who is out to get their souls (Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Pet. 5:8). This is not a competition where winning or losing does not matter. It is a competition with eternal consequences.
Jesus told the church at Smyrna, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10, ESV). Our faith in Christ is a commitment with no end. Let’s not spend our time gunning the engine on the runway. Let’s get involved!

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Remembering Curt

by Phil Sanders

In 1935 at the age of two, Curtis Booth lost his father, who was murdered by some criminals hijacking his truck. This meant his mother had to go to work as a nurse, leaving his older brothers and sisters to raise him. Life was hard and money scarce for this fatherless family with eight children.

It’s not surprising, then, that Curt would learn many bad habits and end up in prison by age 30. In prison he learned the gospel from some fellow inmates and from my father and mother, Harley and Euletta Sanders. After serving four years in a Kansas prison, Curt came out of prison humble and law-abiding; but he had never obeyed the gospel according to the Scriptures.

The six states that had warrants for his arrest decided they no longer wanted him, and Curt remained free the rest of his life. Though Curt gave up his stealing, in time he once again began to drink and to take drugs. The oil fields of Oklahoma, where he worked, were filled with rough men. In his fifties, Curt’s heart had enlarged, and he weighed more than 400 pounds. His rough life left him obnoxious, foul-mouthed, and in rebellion toward God. Many a morning he woke up in a ditch somewhere after a drunken night hunting raccoons. This was his life until the doctor told him in 1987 that his life was almost over.

That reality opened his eyes and his heart. He remembered all the promises he had made to God in prison and began to contemplate his eternal salvation. He knew that he had never obeyed the gospel. Frantically, he went to every preacher in the small town of Crescent. Not one of them had time for him, and one clergyman threatened to call the law on him. At last he remembered his nephew, a preacher who would know what to do.

The next morning for three hours, Curt, his nephew, and four others studying what to do to be saved. They studied every passage in the New Testament on baptism. Early in the afternoon, Curt, his wife Jenny, and three others walked into the lake behind the house and were baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

An amazing change took place in Curt. Never again did he drink alcohol or use foul language. He began studying God’s Word and teaching in the county jails. Singing, praying, and studying the Bible became his life. Pleasing God became the focus of his every thought. The old man of sin died; he was truly born again.

In time he got involved in a state-wide prison ministry. Since 1987, Curtis Booth baptized more than one thousand inmates into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. You might remember that Curtis Booth was one of two people who sent Bible Correspondence Courses to Jeffrey Dahmer, courses that led to his conversion.

When Curt’s health became so bad that he was forced into a nursing home, he spent his time teaching anyone who would listen. When a resident came to his last hours, Curt would sit at bedside reading Scripture, singing and praying.

Again and again, he thought about the souls of others. He never wanted someone he loved or knew to face God unprepared to go to heaven. God’s grace did not prove vain in his life (1 Cor. 15:10). I thank God for the memories I have of my uncle Curt.

Curtis G. Booth passed from this life and into glory on March 8, 2005.

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Forthright Magazine continues, more dynamic than ever! We have groups created for FMag on Facebook and the Churches of Christ Network. Announcement blog is up and going on Preachers Files. Email lists about FMag and FPress are available both on Yahoo and GoogleGroups. And, to top it all off, we're twittering for both on Twitter.com.
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