where love is alive 

DON’T GIVE UP ON THE CHURCH! – Part 3

        An often-overlooked characteristic of “The Lord’s Prayer” is that it begins, “OUR Father.”  Jesus, teaching his disciples to pray, designed this model prayer to be spoken by a group rather than an individual.  Otherwise, the opening salutation would be “MY Father” rather than “OUR Father.”  A community praying in unison might seem odd to us, but it was natural to these early followers of Jesus.  After all, their long-term spiritual heritage traced a faith story not of isolated individuals, but of a group:  the Hebrew people.  Thus, it comes as no surprise that the dynamic of a local congregation of believers was central to early Christianity.

As I shared in my last article, the creation of the church was not a fluke or a coincidence.  Its existence was designed of God and carried out by Jesus who said, I will build My Church (Matthew 16:18).  Therefore, the essential role of the local church is witnessed throughout the New Testament.

  • All four gospels were written to groups of people. Even Luke, who addressed his writing to an individual named Theophilus (Luke 1:3), told his gospel narrative to appeal to all Gentiles.
  • Speaking of Luke, he penned the book of Acts, giving the account of the Christian community first in Jerusalem and later in places like Samaria, Caesarea, and Antioch. The second half of Acts follows Paul on his missionary journeys, establishing churches in numerous venues.
  • In your Bible, the book of Acts is followed by 20 letters. Of these 20, 16 were written to congregations with only four penned to individuals.  And even these individuals (Timothy, Titus, and Philemon) were church leaders and not Christians living out their faith in solitude.
  • Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, addresses seven first century churches (Revelation 2 and 3).

Clearly, the local communities of followers of Jesus provided the rich soil out of which Christianity became a major religion.  To conclude that the local church is inconsequential is to ignore the very heritage from which one’s Christian faith emerged and continues.

An athlete who can pitch, hit, and throw a baseball can accurately be called a “baseball player.”  But such an individual simply cannot play the game of baseball without being part of a team.  And it would be even more “farfetched” for that person to declare, “While I love baseball, baseball teams are not necessary.”

A person genuinely trusting in Jesus for forgiveness and salvation can accurately be called a “Christian.”  But it seems farfetched for that person to declare in word and/or deed, “While I love Jesus, the church is not necessary.”

Don’t give up on the church!  OUR FATHER has and continues to do His work through the combined lives of His people.

-Jay

Pastor’s P.S.

Show Your Colors!  August 26th is the final Sunday before the start of College Football Season.  All folks attending our church that morning are asked to wear the colors of their favorite college football team.

 

 

 

 

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    Discussion

    1. Dear Pastor,
      My wife and I are moving to the Cleveland area sometime in May or first part of June.
      We have been praying fervently for God’s direction in locating us to His place of worship, fellowship, and service there. We will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this August 5th. We met at Dallas Bible College and Connie joined me, along with other students, in an itenerate ministry to three rural churches in SW Arkansas. Therefore we are celebrating fifty-two (52) years of ministry together. She was the pianist.

      Our son, Mike Harrison, Jr, has a 36 acre spread about 15 minutes from North Cleveland Baptist, where our apartment is being constructed beginning this week. We are retirees: Connie in 2016, as a Director of a four physician (pediatric) Cook Children’s facility in Flower Mound, TX; and myself in 1996, as Dean of Students at the International Institute of ACE located in Lewisville, TX (after four heart attacks and two major strokes).

      God renewed my strength and I was able to speak again, preaching and teaching for over ten years in my wheelchair. But God had another change for us as He laid on my heart two new ministries (but they required me to walk – No problem for the Lord!) I called my dear pastor and we had he and his wife pray with us along with five other “faithful prayers”. Six months later, God delivered the answer – on the night of the worst pain I had ever experienced in my 47 years of back pain… there in our bedroom, in my hospital bed, at 3:00 AM, I finally fell off to sleep in total exhaustion. At 7:00 AM, I was awakened by the soft peck on the cheek of Connie’s “goodbye, I’m off to work” kiss. After a few seconds I realized something was different.

      “No back pain”, I gasped. Then, “Glory, I can walk”!
      I put my feet on the floor immediately. Stood straight up and walked without a wobble;
      Bent right over and touched the floor, “Glory, Hallelujah; let Your Name be praised”!
      When Connie came home for lunch – she was overcome with joy and thanksgiving!
      Our three married children and their families were rejoicing. They had been praying.
      But what happened on Sunday was so glorious. Pastor Osborne and I decided I would make a special announcement. The congregation had, for the most part, never seen me walk. I made my way to the auditorium early and transferred to a from row pew.
      When he said I had an announcement, instead of sending down a mike, I leaped up and ran up nine steps to the podium. There was silence throughout. Not a sound from either level. The following clapping, “amans”, “glories”, and “hallelujahs” are a testament to the faithfulness of God and His people honoring Him in worship and praise. Humbly and passionately I explained to our family in the faith the privilege God was affording us and that we had taken on two new assignments six months earlier with the full assurance this day would be a blessing for us all, but the glory all His. That was August 2006. I became active in our special missions group and became a Salvation Army shortly thereafter.

      Connie and I practice personal evangelism and are faithful in praying and Bible reading and study. We are interested in a church that is committed to disciple making and worship. We are interested in a church that’s doors are open to all. We are highly interested to an assembly where “reaching our” and “reaching in” are in balance with the Word. We are interested in a church where we can serve. Connie plays the keyboard, sings, teaches, and just loves folks. I first taught junior boys at age sixteen and have been teaching for 54 years. I first preached (Opelousas, LA) at age 18; therefore for almost 53 years. I came to know Christ as Savior at age, 11, at a VBS at First Baptist Church Moss Bluff (Near Lake Charles, LA). I Graduated, Dallas Bible College, 1971,(Biblical Studies). Connie came to know the Lord as Savior as a younger child at home. Both of us were baptized before the age of 12.

      Most of my “work”career was spent in management.
      I worked for over 10 years for Sherwin Williams Co. in Garland, TX (night shifts) in order: to finish Bible College; supplement income as pastor; free time during days to volunteer for Christian ministries at various churches.
      I worked 17 years for Accelerated Christian Education; IT Director and Dean of Students.
      Christian Ministry: Pastor, Youth Pastor, Music Leader, Men’s Ministry, Deacon, Project Leader, Sunday School Teacher, Evangelist, Church Planting, Church Recovery,
      Salvation Army Chaplin, Missions Team Leader… Church Janitors (together), Create and print Bulletin…

      We would love to hear from you. We need you to provide some things that you, as pastor of North Cleveland, consider dear to you in your own ministry, and from what I have shared, would you be willing to join Connie and me in asking God to direct our hearts to the people and field where He has for us join Him in His work?

      Matt. 28:19-20
      John 13:31-35

      Posted by Michael C Harrison Sr / Mike | March 5, 2017, 2:38 pm
    2. Thanks for writing. I hope you will come see us when you get to the Cleveland Area. I have a deep love for local church ministry and appreciate when Christians join together in ministry.
      Have a blessed Easter Season

      Jay McCluskey, Pastor

      Posted by jaym | April 6, 2017, 11:44 am
    3. Thanks Dr. Jay. I always need the reinforcement of knowing He will come in His time.

      Posted by Viviene Serridge | May 20, 2018, 6:50 am
    4. Received your website with ease this morning and sermon on Hypocrisy. Thanks so much.

      Posted by Viviene Serridge | June 10, 2018, 9:07 am

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