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A community of disciples proclaiming the lordship of Jesus the Messiah
healing, restoration, and transformation at the foot of the cross
Leonard Windham • February 24, 2021
In the opening to his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul writes the community of believers to remind them of their calling, their salvation, and the need for unity. He wraps this message up in the foolishness of the cross.
Apparently, believers within the church had begun to attach themselves to various personalities in the body to the extent that Paul had to ask them about the source of their quarrels. (1 Cor. 1:12) Paul reasons with them by asking if any of them were baptized in the name of anyone other than the Christ. Or, if any of these other individuals were crucified for them. Or was it Christ?
Powerful words today in a world obsessed with celebrity personalities and influential individuals who seek to elevate their status by acquiring followers. The body of Christ is no place for this manner of divisive spirit. No individual, no matter how ‘great a man of God’ they may seem to be deserves our adoration and devotion. For we were not baptized in the name of any name other than the Son Christ Jesus. He is the one who was lifted up and crucified and it is by His name we are saved. He is the one we follow. We belong to His church.
Paul goes on to argue that this idea of a crucified Savior may seem to be foolish to man. Indeed, the Jews believed that one hung on a tree is accursed. They sought a miracle or sign, certainly deliverance from the cross, which would identify their messiah. The Romans and Greeks could not believe that a seemingly defeated leader, one whom they put to death, could be the way of salvation. Yet Paul shows that the thing foolish with men is God’s wisdom. God chose that which seemed weak, of low status, and foolish to accomplish his will. The world would choose that which is strong, of noble birth, and wise.
The gospel message and God’s means of salvation on the face appears to be simplistic. That is, if it is approached and evaluated with human wisdom and logic. Just as the ancient Greeks, many today pride themselves on their command of logic and the latest sophisticated beliefs. Many of these are really nothing more than a recycling of the teachings of rebellious spirits.
What God has done for those of who have placed their faith in Christ Jesus, who is our “righteousness, and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30) is given us a cause to ‘boast in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 1:31)
Let not this world with its shifting standards, its cult of personality, nor its fallen wisdom shake your faith in the one appointed for our salvation. Let not its facades fool you into believing it over the Word of God. In Jesus we rest assured that we are rich, not lacking in any gift, and we shall be sustained, being found guiltless in the day of the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:7, 8)
Leonard Windham • February 13, 2021
We are living in a time of momentous events. Over the past 12 months our lives and routines have been upended by a global pandemic. The unexpected impact has disturbed the collective psyche of our communities. In the midst of this, the ever shifting responses of national leaders and muddled messages of policy makers and experts have increased the anxiety of many. Issues of police brutality, racial injustice, economic insecurity, and mental health have been brought to the forefront of the national conversation. Through this all we have been expected to carry on with the usual concerns and affairs of daily living.
With all of this in mind, it is understandable that we are looking for answers. We need a way out and many expect our leaders to formulate and present a path forward that eases our concerns.
Here in the United States, the recent election cycle has aroused strong passions about who should lead. We have witnessed lies, exaggerations, and manipulation of the masses on a level that many have never before seen. Extreme viewpoints have emerged to take center stage. Proponents from every political affiliation and all flavors in between believe theirs is the cause of what is just and right. They whip out what they believe to be persuasive arguments and categorically and caustically dismiss those who fail to walk lockstep with every line of their logic.
Sadly in some circles these views have begun to compete and in some cases been merged with the name of Jesus. To listen and observe, the impression is given that Jesus Christ would endorse the platform of the Democrats or the Republicans. Or perhaps He is actually backing the candidates they put forward. To top it off, alongside endorsing the philosophical and political party lines, we hear many say ‘God is still on the throne.’ The disturbing reality is that these words seem to be spoken in a tone of resignation. As if, well if all else fails we still have God.
Is this the proper viewpoint? Is this the impact the reality of the kingdom of God should have in the life of one who has placed his or her faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior? Is the kingdom of God a fallback position, a backstop for when all else has failed?
We should acknowledge that our varied backgrounds and life experiences can color our expectations and desires for equity, justice, and security. It is easy to formulate a plan which seems to be reasonable, fair, and solves problems and believe it is God’s way. However, we must understand that the kingdom is God’s and Jesus is Lord, not for our own temporal concerns. It is to His name and glory, until every knee is bowed before the Lord and every heart fully submitted to Him.
While current events may seem to be unprecedented, in reality they are nothing new. Pandemics, epidemics, economic instability, oppression, racism, injustice, corrupt and failed leaders --- all of these have been the burden of society ever since the rebellion in the Garden of Eden. So too, the answer has always been the same. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33
The kingdom of God has been and is the answer to all that afflicts humankind. Jesus’ words in this section of scripture are noteworthy because they go to the root cause of many of our problems. Anxiety. Anxiety over how our lives will unfold. He reduces the anxieties of life into a few major concerns. “Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink, nor for your body, as to what you will put on.” (Matthew 6:25) That’s it in a nutshell. All that would consume us in anxious concern centers around these things. Jesus did not say we should not be interested in meeting these needs. He did not say we should not take steps to address these needs. He did not speak to minimize the reality of our concerns. He did say we should not be worried or anxious. And what is anxiety? Anxiety is an apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness over an impending or anticipated event.
Is not this what many of us have felt in this current season? Anxiety over COVID, anxiety about a job, anxiety over the election, anxiety over conspiracies, anxiety over when school will resume, anxiety over when we can travel again, and so on.
Again Jesus speaks to the heart of the matter as read from Matthew 6:27, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Wow! Just stop and marinate in that thought.
Then He follows up with a revelation to some, a reminder to us all. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Well duh! What He has given us is found back in verse 33. Rather than live in anxious concern, seek first the kingdom and ‘His righteousness.’ Seek the righteousness of God. Seek His favor. Seek to know and fully comprehend His ways and His justice.
I believe included in God’s justice is God’s timing. God always intervenes at a time, the time that is best for all persons and matters that are involved in an issue. And that is one thing that we as humans cannot say. Our timing is awful. Our understanding of matters is severely limited. We almost expect to live with unintended consequences and collateral damage. Not so with God.
And yet again, here we are in a season where many are responding as if we are presented with something new, something unseen, outside the realm which God can redeem. Based on how so many are responding, this would appear to be the case. Add in human sinfulness which is involved in racist and unjust actions, and we can begin to see the underpinnings of much of what we have witnessed of late.
It is at this point, that I wish to address a related outcome of succumbing to anxiety. The belief that we must take matters into our own hands, in the name of Jesus, to fix all that ails mankind. The idea that the faithful are called to impose the will of God upon a nation and its citizens. How quickly we forget that this is another failed attempt at human independence, a failure to submit to God, and an exaggerated sense of importance.
The most qualified individual to rule mankind has already walked this earth in the person of Christ Jesus. He did so at a time when the Roman Empire dominated his land and his people. People lived under oppression, injustice, and their lives were cheap. The wealthy took advantage of the poor. The political leaders were corrupt and the religious leaders viewed themselves as above the commoner.
So imagine when Jesus appeared on the scene. He spoke of justice and the equality of man. He fed the hungry, healed the sick and expelled the unclean spirits. Surely here is the candidate to take on the mantle of leadership. Let’s get this guy to run for office. Let’s take over! “So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone. - John 6:15.
And again when Jesus was wrongfully arrested and tried. Brought before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, the issue of kingship is raised. Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:33, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Let me frame it in today’s language. Jesus are you a Democrat or are you a Republican? Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world… My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36) Think of the impact of Jesus’ reply. Jesus said His kingdom is does not derive its legitimacy from the institutions of men. It is not from this place. It is out of and above this world.
The argument he puts forth is telling too. In that same verse 36, Jesus argues, if My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over.” Whoa! If we were from here and about this life, yeah there would be a fight. Hmmm. The import of Jesus’ reply was quite clear. His kingdom is not advanced by carnal weapons.
This is a truth that many who call on the name of Jesus fail to understand. The history of religion is littered with examples of the sad and harmful outcome when the power of the State is wedded with the ecclesiastical authority. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of the limitations of our fallen natures. God has not endorsed any of men’s governments or leaders no matter how lofty or pure their platforms appear to be. Truthfully God never intended us to rule apart from Him. He does not need our placeholders. He has tolerated them for a time. But we dishonor His name and reputation to allow that these failed substitutes can ever approach anything close to what He has in mind.
So what are we to do? Each of us are called to be a bearer of light. To allow the transformative power of the gospel and a life submitted to Jesus to shine in our spheres of influence. To demonstrate the power of God in our lives. To use our time and resources to render aid and relieve the suffering of one another. Jesus did not enlist the Roman legions to force discipleship upon society. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the young church was a persecuted church because of their gospel preaching. They did not seek to seize power nor curry favor with the powers of their day. Their influence was felt because of a Holy Spirit directed and empowered manner of living. The framework was provided to address every spirit and “ism” which can divide mankind. In a living breathing community of believers they faced up to the challenge of submitting all things to the life of Christ.
We invite you to connect with us as we explore the depth of God’s riches and wisdom as revealed in the gospel and person of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Leonard Windham • July 22, 2020
Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others – Jonathan Swift
Current events call for us to feed our faith and not fear. One way to do this is by calling to mind and remembering the promises of God. All believers have a testimony. We have seen the promises of God fulfilled in our lives and the lives of others around us. Look closely, and you may even find you have overlooked His hand manifesting itself on a daily basis.
When we dwell upon the negativity and despair that dominates the media airwaves, we feed fear not faith, and we enable anxiety instead of strengthening hope.
There are real concerns as we are living in rapidly changing times. One only has to reflect upon how life was 12 months ago, and compare it to today to understand. Our lives and daily routines have been significantly altered. Weddings, funerals, celebrations, work schedules, school schedules, large gatherings, family visits, dining out, vacations and so many other activities have been forever changed.
This is why our vision and focus is even more important. Where you look determines your outcome. This is literally true for the race car driver and the pilot landing the plane. Each must look ahead to where they are going and not be distracted by the environment around them.
Worshipers of God have always been a people of vision. The vision was always based on the presence and promises of God. These provided the foundation of faith.
When Jesus invited his disciples to get into the boat and cross the sea, they trusted and followed Him. (Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-23) In the course of that trip a raging storm popped up that caused them to give way to fear. Jesus was sleeping. They looked at the storm and imagined that they were about to die. If we are familiar with the account, we know that Jesus woke up and with a word, He rebuked the storm. His words to the disciples afterward were telling, as he questioned their faith. The proper response was faith, not fear. For a few moments they lost the vision. For if they had remained focused on their Lord, they would not have given way to fear.
Again our faith is based on an understanding of God’s relationship to His people. He is true to His covenant promises. In Joshua 23:14, the aged Joshua reminded the people that ‘not one word’ of all that God had promised the people failed. Not one word! Can that be said of any of the individuals, organizations, institutions, or movements which are vying for your support?
I will end with these words taken from When the World Stops. Words of Hope, Faith, and Wisdom in the Midst of the Crisis by Michael L. Brown, PhD.
- Fear paralyzes; faith liberates.
- Fear brings death; faith brings life.
- Fear brings torment; faith brings peace.
- Fear listens to the devil’s lies; faith listens to God’s truth.
- While fear is irrational, faith is rational.
- While fear is natural, faith is supernatural.
- Fear looks at earthly circumstances and anticipates worst-case scenarios; faith looks at God’s promises and anticipates ultimate victories.
- Fear is fundamentally a denial of the existence of the God of the Bible; faith is founded on who He is and what He does.
Leonard Windham • April 30, 2020
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I live in North Carolina and one of our most famous landmarks is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which passes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the eastern United States. It’s an amazing drive, but along the 489-mile route there are 200 overlooks which offer up an array of incredible views. Sadly, most travelers don’t take the time to stop. They reach their destination, but the trip is less spectacular than it could have been.
Today’s verse has always reminded me of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the sad reality that many Christians, while making it to heaven (Praise God), settle for a less-than-spectacular trip along the way. They travel the Parkway but miss the overlooks. God has prepared “good works” in advance of our journey that we should “walk in them” as they present themselves. They occur on a daily basis, if not hourly, and they give us the opportunity to glorify God while showing His love to the people in our lives. Are you taking the time to stop?
Salvation is an amazing miracle that none of us should ever get over…but it’s just the start of the journey! God has planted beautiful overlooks of good works all along the Heavenly Parkway and He wants us to experience every single one of them…but we have to be willing to take the time to stop. Stop to listen. Stop to encourage. Stop to give. Stop to help shoulder the load. Stop to seek forgiveness or to forgive. Stop to mourn. Stop to praise. Stop to use your spiritual gifts. Stop to share your testimony. Stop to hold the door open or give up you’re parking place or share a meal or cut someone’s lawn.
God has planned some incredible overlooks for you to enjoy on your trip to Heaven so be sure to STOP…or you will miss the best views!
Leonard Windham • February 27, 2020
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7) Those who fear the Lord have no reason to be paralyzed by fear or shackled with doubt. God is able to deliver from any situation, no matter how hopeless it appears from our point of view.
This week we considered Peter’s deliverance from the schemes of Herod as recounted in Acts chapter 12. Herod saw an opportunity to gain favor with the Jews and had Peter thrown into prison. Herod’s intention was to execute him as he had done with James. He was held in chains, each arm shackled to the arm of a soldier. At the door was another set of guards. From all appearances his situation seemed hopeless.
But then the night before his likely execution, a light shone in the prison and an angel awakened him from his sleep. This was no vision, for the angel of the Lord touched him to awaken him, instructed him to dress himself and follow. The soldiers, the guards, the prison doors, and the gate to the city were no match. (Acts 12:6-10) When he realized he was indeed freed and this was no vision, Peter was amazed at his miraculous deliverance, stating “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod.” (Acts 12:11) He located the church gathered in the home of Mary and related what happened. They were carrying on prayer in his behalf. How amazed they were to see their prayers answered in such a miraculous way.
Really, nothing our God does should be too amazing. Surprising, yes. Miraculous, indeed. Amazing, never!
Sometimes we may find ourselves shackled by fear or doubt. Culture and popular media have a way of constantly keeping tragedy and danger in front of our face. Fear has a way of over-exaggerating our perception of a situation. Negative images and emotions are highlighted and can drown out the gospel good news if we allow it. We can begin to doubt if we can carry on.
We must hold onto and remember divine promises of deliverance. Hebrews 1:14 tells us that God sends his mighty angels to minster to ‘those who are to inherit salvation.’ This is not a promise of a trouble free existence. It is an assurance though, that we are never out of reach of his strong hand.
And as the church was occupied with prayer in behalf of the apostle, we should always be burdened with prayer, entrusting all things in our life to God. The bible reminds us that we have a boldness in approaching God, and he gives wisdom to those who approach him. And we are to ask him without doubting. (James 1:6) Doubt has sometimes been described as a small faith. We know our God hears us and will answer us. Cry out for the faith which assures us that God is near. He will not leave us in the lurch. He is an ever present help at all times. Keep asking God to release you from any fear or doubt which may be lingering in your life. May you walk in his will, fearlessly and with confidence.
Leonard Windham • February 12, 2020
A recent experience with my medical health reminded me of our need for a Savior and continued dependence upon our heavenly Father. During my annual check-up, I was informed that my total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad guys) numbers were high. Generally this is an indication of an increased risk of heart disease. The initial recommendation was to begin a regimen of medication to reduce the numbers. I did not like the idea of taking medication and felt that I could improve this condition by adjusting my diet and getting more exercise. In the meantime, I also learned that additional lab tests might give some more meaningful information. When the results of those tests came back, the doctor informed me they revealed an inherited genetic defect which negatively affects the way my body manages cholesterol. This defect causes my body to absorb more cholesterol than it should. And, here’s the key point, although under normal circumstances adjusting one’s diet and getting exercise is beneficial, in my situation there would only be a minimal benefit. So the doctor recommended a medication which would give my body the assistance it needs to manage the level of cholesterol.
So what does this have to do with our need for a Savior and dependence upon God? Man’s problem, our defect, is our enslavement and propensity to sin, and death. We need a Savior to cure this problem. We cannot combat or reverse this on our own. Christ Jesus has been given as the cure. Faith in this arrangement brings us into fellowship with God. Our fellowship with God is designed to be a relationship of dependence upon Him for all things. Jesus spoke many times of the importance of hearing his words and doing them, of Himself as the bread of life, of abiding in Him, of being branches connected to Him as the true vine. The apostle Paul spoke of our salvation as a transition from the dominion of the world to the kingdom of God, and how our manner of living and our desires are changed to align with God’s will. It is God’s desire that we trust Him not only for salvation but also for continued living.
When I think of these things, it reminds me that each of us faces a ‘Garden of Eden’ decision in a manner of speaking. The serpent put before the first man and woman the temptation to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They seized for themselves the choosing of good and evil independent of fellowship with God and His guidance. Due to their choice, sin and death entered into the world. Ironically in choosing what they believed was freedom, Adam and Eve became enslaved.
God created each of us to live with Him, not apart from Him. Our dependence upon Him is true freedom. When we try to make sense of life according to our own wisdom and understanding, we believe the lying implication that we can be like God knowing good and evil. We experience the truth of the proverb, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12) Depending upon Him leads to life even now. Life in our relationships, life in our goals, life in our desires, life in our worship, life in our praise, life in our soul and spirit.
We can choose to live life independent of fellowship with God and His guidance, or we can choose the saving power of God’s cure. There is no middle ground. Our culture is filled with examples of choices made independent of fellowship with God. While human efforts struggle to address the external symptoms, God has already made provision for the total cure. Humans produce remedies with side effects, God transforms us to wholeness. Human societies and institutions are monuments to this failed experiment. While some good has been accomplished, there are always unintended and unforeseen consequences which leave much to be desired. Man’s efforts independent of God will never be able to bring complete and total relief from injustice, suffering, and evil. And they will never cure our sin problem.
Contact us to learn more about how you can enjoy this relationship with God.
Leonard Windham • January 29, 2020
A consideration of the book of Job provides an opportunity to personally contemplate how you view suffering, tragedy, and evil. The questions of why God allows these or, why God does not intervene are brought up for us to examine closely.
In the opening of the narrative, Job is described as a righteous and God-fearing man. (Job 1:1-5) This good man suddenly has a change in circumstances when tragedy enters his life. He experiences the disastrous loss of his material wealth, the tragic death of his children, and is stricken with a horrific physical affliction. (Job 1:13-19; 2:7, 8, 11) His afflictions are so severe that Job laments being born and wishes to die. (Job 3:1-3, 11, 12; 14:1)
Job chapters 3-37 follow a series of conversations where Job wrestles with the difficulty of his circumstances while his friends assert that he is suffering because of some sin or wickedness in his life. The conversations alternate between Job asserting his righteousness and his friends insisting that God must be punishing him. They claim that he is reaping just punishment for his life choices. These exchanges progress to the point where Job even demands that God explain himself. (Job 31:35-37)
God does answer Job. In chapters 38-41 God questions Job, taking him on a grand tour of the created universe, asking Job if he can begin to explain or even control anything which God has made. In the end Job has to take back his words as he recognizes his insignificance in the face of the Almighty. (Job 42:1-6; Ps. 8:3)
A deep reading of the book will help us come closer to a better grasp of the issues and questions which arise as we attempt to process the existence of suffering and evil in the world.
We can remain confident that God is in control and sustains the universe.
We can be assured that God cares for us and is aware of our devotion to him. As God was confident in Job’s devotion Job 1:8), so He has confidence in us and will sustain us through suffering.
We should look at our circumstances through the eyes of God instead of evaluating God through our eyes. Our wisdom is limited and pales in relation to the Almighty.
Yet our problems are more real to Him, than they are to us. Just as he did not condemn Job for his exasperation, He recognizes the burden we carry in this life. We are not God, but God has walked among us and thus is aware of our weaknesses and is able to aid us in times of tragedy.
We also learn how not to treat those who are suffering. Job’s friends offered false comfort accusing him of sin and being responsible for his suffering. In doing so they spoke wrongly about God.
Although Job was not aware of the universal events at work in his circumstances (Job 1:6-12), today we are aware of the enemy seeking to devour the faithful. We are equipped to withstand and conquer his schemes.
Every problem we face in some way is rooted in human sin and imperfection. Christ is the cure and the solution. In Him and available now is the answer to the penalty and power of sin, along with the complete triumph over all suffering and evil.
Leonard Windham • January 15, 2020
Luke 10:38-42 contains a valuable lesson on the importance of intimacy and relationships. In our success-oriented culture, the tendency to evaluate ourselves based on what we have accomplished is common. To-do lists, planners, goal sheets and other tools are enlisted to make sure we get things done. When we take a close look at what took place during Jesus’ visit to the home of Martha and Mary, we will learn a few important truths.
In the scene, Jesus takes time to visit the home, spending time in intimate fellowship with two women. That itself is striking for the culture of the time. He is teaching. Martha is distracted with preparations. She is busy, doing a good thing. Trying to get something done. And she calls out her sister for not helping. It’s as if she wants the teacher to acknowledge her activity. Hey, see I am busy at work. When Jesus responds that Martha is “worried and upset about many things” we learn an important first truth: success is not the ultimate.
Mary, however, has chosen intimacy over success. She is seated at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching. She is wisely making the most of Jesus’ visit. When Jesus says, “… one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” we learn a second important truth: intimacy is better than success.
God is seeking an intimate relationship with each us. Have you considered, that Christ died for us? For me? For you? It is a personal overture made to bring each of us into a relationship.
Here are three applications from the message. First, carve out time with God. Don’t fall prey to "crowded loneliness." This happens when your life is full of people but your cup is empty because you haven’t spent time alone with God.
Second, spend time with people who love Jesus. Consider getting together with another church member besides Sundays. Remember this quote: “You will be the exact same person five years from now as you are today except for these two factors—the books you read and the people you put in your life!"
Third, let the love of Jesus be your ultimate motivation. He died on the cross out of love for you! And He calls us to be compelled by His love (2 Cor. 5:14).
Our latest message was delivered by a guest speaker, Chris Mucci, who serves the student athletes at Meredith College, North Carolina State University, and Shaw University through Athletes in Action. You can read more about Chris and his wife, Wendy, and AIA at http://www.give.cru.org/0783735/.