Sunday, November 28, 2010


"I had no shoes and complained,
until I met a man who had no feet."

Yesterday, I talked about distinguishing characteristics of thankful people, and I mentioned that we can spot gratitude by things that thankful people DON'T do... I made the suggestion that there are at least three and began yesterday by saying that "Thankful People Don't Forget". Here's number two:


I recently ran across a great quote by conservative commentator, Dennis Prager. He said, "All happy people are grateful. Ungrateful people cannot be happy. We tend to think that being unhappy leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that complaining leads to people becoming unhappy."

As I read that quote, I began to think about the correlation between gratitude and happiness. Gratitude fosters happiness, contentment, and a sense of joy in our lives. Happiness is a result of gratitude. The wonderful thing about this is that, while we cannot always just choose to be happy, we can always choose to be grateful, which results in happiness. So in a roundabout way, we are choosing happiness when we choose to be grateful.

How do we get there? How do we choose happiness? We submit ourselves to God! Far more than just optimism and a positive outlook is required to become a person marked by gratitude! As we surrender our lives to the Lord, we see more and more of His goodness. As our relationship with Him grows, we find ourselves overwhelmed by His grace and our lives are constantly re-oriented to praise, thanksgiving, and worship!

Don't complain about your situation, pray about it! Talk to the Lord. Seek Him... you will find that you have much to be thankful for!

People who are truly thankful don't complain, rather, they find reasons to be grateful. Matthew Henry, who wrote a commentary on every book of the Bible, was once robbed. The thieves took everything of value that he had. Later that evening he wrote in his diary these words, "I am thankful that during these years I have never been robbed before. Also, even though they took my money, they did not take my life. Although they took all I had, it was not much. Finally, I am grateful that it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed." Every reason to complain, but still thankful.

Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14

Saturday, November 27, 2010


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you.
This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

-Mark Twain

Just a few more thoughts on being filled with thanks...

Thankful people are easy to spot. Oh, there are the obvious proofs, like receiving cards from them or seeing them respond with a word or a gift that expresses gratitude. But you might be surprised to hear that you can most easily identify a thankful person by things that they DON'T do! Over the next three days, I want to offer three characteristics of thankful people...

First, Thankful people don't FORGET

When gratitude marks a person's life, they rarely forget what someone else has done for them. This is far more than just having a good memory. A person who is filled with thanks makes a conscious effort to recognize others' kindness or generosity. Gratitude demostrated reveals something about the character of a person. Thankful people are humble, caring, thoughtful, and aware of others.

Humility is a virtue that is integral to gratitude! We can't recognize the need for gratitude without humility.

People who are puffed up with their own accomplishments and who do not see how dependent they are on the Lord or on other people who have favored them are rarely grateful. They are blind to the ways in which they have been favored, perhaps beyond what they deserve. So this virtue of humily helps them REMEMER what has been done on their behalf!

Our society has a "what have you done for me lately" attitude, an attitude of entitlement. Thankful people DO NOT FORGET that they didn't arrive where they are on their own!

Today, continue to make a list of the blessings of God in your life. Thank Him for those blessings one by one.

They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. Psalm 78:35

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. Psalm 77:11

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—Psalm 103:2

Friday, November 26, 2010

thankFULL people...
being filled with thanks
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Every year on this day, a strange phenominon occurs...Black Friday Shopping. Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving in the U.S., traditionally marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Shopping gets earlier each year and the ads more abundant. Retailers try to get a jump on their competetors by offering "doorbuster" and "early bird" promotional sales. This year many stores opened at midnight to kick off the shopping season.
Shoppers are whipped into a frenzy with commercials, sales flyers, and the promise of getting a better deal than anyone else. While some have made this a fun social event with friends and/or family, others claw, scratch, and fight to get to the deals.
For whatever this is worth, The day's name originated in Philadelphia, where it originally was used to describe the heavy and disruptive traffic on that day. The name stuck and later an alternative explanation began to be offered: that "Black Friday" indicates the period during which retailers are turning a profit, or "in the black."
Over the years, I've watched how all of this retail promotion affects my family... and me! Here are a few thoughts.
1) It doesn't take much for our "gratitide-o-meter" to get out of whack and need adjustment. As I was looking through the mound of sales papers, I would catch myself saying, "I NEED this or that". "That would make things better" or "My friends have one of those __________(fill in the blank) and I should have one, too."
It's troubling how quickly a few pictures and numbers could skew our thinking so radically. I find myself dissatisfied with the perfectly good t.v. that I have because I see one that is tauted as "bigger and better".
Maybe we should spend a little more time in homeless shelters and soup kitchens than in shopping malls to "re-calibrate" our gratitude. When we give and when we serve, we grow... and so does our thankfulness!
2) Greed is not a new problem. 1 John 2:16 says, "For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Before we say that our "gimme" attitudes have been created by the retailers and the advertisers... we need to realize that it's an internal problem. They've just stirred the appetite.
In 1 John 2, all sin is deliniated into three categories:

The lustful desires of the flesh
The lustful desires of the eyes
The pride of life (boasting in achievements and possessions)

These sum it up! We desire pleasure, we want, we crave, we desire. Lust is most commonly associated with unrestrained sexual desires. However, these obsessive desires could be thirst for power, knowledge, or worldly possessions, which fill our daily thoughts in an unhealthy manner – causing us to pursue such things no matter the cost – many times creating a wave of pain and consequence.

God wants to bring fulfilment into your life, yet temptations come to stir dissatisfaction. John Piper says that "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him". He longs to meet your needs and satisfy your soul...Seek Him as your provision and you won't be disappointed!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Early Thanksgiving Morning reflections...

This morning, I am simply thanking God for all of the wonderful gifts, treasures, and blessings in my life. He truly is the source of all our provision, and worthy of our gratitude.

I'm incredibly thankful for all those obvious things: family, friends, freedom, health, life, strength... but deeper still

Thankful for the goodness of God! Because He is good, I can trust Him in my circumstances. I can trust that He is working on my behalf, for His glory! Thankful that every good and perfect gift comes from Him and that all of my circumstances are filtered through His powerful hands! He is at I must thank Him! ...but deeper still

Thankful for the grace of God! I am so thankful for the bloody cross and the empty tomb! "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!" 2 Corinthians 9:15 His grace and mercy give us salvation and hope. We should never lose sight of His redemptive work. Scripture tells us to "Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day." If you've been redeemed, one of the greatest ways you can express gratitude to God is to TELL SOMEONE ABOUT HIM!

So today, enjoy family, freedom, friends, football, food...

indulge in turkey & tryptophan

but take time to reflect on the goodness and grace of God!HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thought you might enjoy this song...
Nichole Nordeman's Gratitude

Send some rain, would You send some rain?'
Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time

Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead

And if we never taste that bread
Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need
So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today

Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in needAnd if You never grant us peace
But Jesus, would You please . . .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



It's been said that you are in one of three positions related to storms in life... You are either just coming out of one, in one now, or headed toward one. Sounds a bit pessimistic to believe that if you are not in a difficult time, you likely will encounter one soon. However, life is full of challenge. Storms are a very real part of our existence.In fact, Jesus promised that we will have many hardships in this life (John 16:33). And was He right!

As unpleasant as trials are, there's still much reason for giving thanks. In my last post, I shared three insights from Dr. Charles Stanley on adversity in the lives of believers... He suggested three provisions believers can count on during adversity: God's presence, a pathway through the trouble, and potential to grow. Today, Let's explore two more.

Protection. God doesn't necessarily keep believers from suffering or disappointment. Stopping the storms may be our goal, but from His point of view, the adversity may be necessary to mature us spiritually. But the Father offers protection by staying with us in the struggle. Once we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are promised that God indwells us and will never leave. What's more, we have assurance that nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). So our ever-present God walks with us through the hardships, providing guidance and speaking truth into the situation.

Peace. While difficulties cause many people anxiety, believers have God's peace. This inner serenity does not depend on whether circumstances improve. Rather, it's a result of our relationship with Him. Our main focus shouldn't be on fixing the problem but on our dependence upon God. As we recognize the Lord's provision during trials, we can genuinely express gratitude. Doing so will enable us to fix our eyes on Him rather than on our circumstance. We often don't know what the purpose is for each ensuing trial, but we do know that our God is good and trustworthy.

Thank Him today that He is working out His will and His way in your life... Thank Him for His divine protection and peace! Thank Him for the promise of His presence and for giving us the potential to grow! THANK HIM!
Thank God for His Provision
Matthew 14:22-34

I've got good news and I've got some bad news...Which would you like first?

BAD NEWS - No one gets through life without trials! That's not a very pleasant thought, but it's a reality of life. That is the bad news.

GOOD NEWS - We serve a good God who provides beautifully—especially during the dark periods of life. Today, I want to talk to you about being thankful for His provision!

Matthew 14 tells of a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus provided for His disciples on that fretful night and He also provides for us today. Just as He met the needs of His disciples in that unsettling situation, He supplies our needs in time of difficulty. How does He do this? Pastor and Author, Charles Stanley offers the following three insights.

First, the Father gives Christians His presence and the promise that He will never leave (Heb. 13:5-6). This is, perhaps, the greatest gift because from this awareness, He offers a sense of comfort, courage, and confidence.

Second, the Lord blesses His children with a pathway through trouble. He is in total control of our storm and will use the trial for His purpose. We may not understand, but we can trust His hand to guide us and accomplish good. Sometimes the reason and benefit of a difficulty will becomes obvious, while in other cases, it may never be clear.

Third, the Father offers believers the potential to grow. Hardships are exercises in trust and times to learn more fully who God is and how great His power and love are.

No one enjoys trials. But remember to express gratitude for God's hand in your life and the ways in which He will use the adversity. Hardships are chances to trust your Creator and to know Him better. Of course, they are painful, but don't waste the opportunity to become all the Lord has planned for you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This week, I want to say some things about gratitude... First, I want to kick off these posts by sharing a word from one of my favorite communicators, Dr. Tom Elliff. A Baptist statesman, pastor, denominational leader, and author, Dr. Elliff has deeply impacted my life through his writing and preaching. Tom Elliff served as the International Mission Board’s Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations. In addition to his work with the IMB, Tom pastored for forty-two years, during which time he served as the president of the SBC Pastors Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Most recently, he is the founder of Living in the Word Publications, a writing and speaking ministry focused on the ongoing necessity of spiritual awakening.

Dr. Elliff has blessed me, and I know that his words below will bless you!


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is becoming a less recognized holiday with each passing year, most likely because it is devoid of the great marketing opportunities shared by Halloween and Christmas. Unless, of course, you are a grocer! This reality grieves me because, in a sense, Thanksgiving is perhaps the purest of holidays in terms of purpose and practice.

The annual expression of “thanksgiving” has been a distinctly American celebration for almost four hundred years, dating back to 1621. However, it was not until the Civil War period that Thanksgiving was designated as a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln. From its inception, Thanksgiving was directed primarily to an acknowledgement of the providence of God.

In more recent years, the Thanksgiving focus has shifted from God to groceries, faith to friends, appreciation to athletics, and providence to parades. I’m not seeking to be curmudgeonous here, far from it. I love the get-togethers, groceries and good times as much as the next guy. But I am saddened by the fact that there is an obvious diminishment of focus on the ONE who makes life, health, warm friendships and a purposeful future possible.

Of course, we are only reflections of the reality of human nature and the insidious sin of ingratitude. When considering a “thanksgiving celebration” that took place over 2,000 years ago, not much has changed. I’d like to offer you ten thoughts on Thanksgiving, harvested from Luke’s account of the healing of ten lepers (Luke 17: 11-19).

1. Thanksgiving is a rare practice (11-15a). “While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back.” Only one of the ten turned back to offer gratitude! So not much has changed, has it.

2. Thanksgiving should be a “reflex response (15a). Notice that it was “when he saw that he had been healed” that the man turned back to offer gratitude. I am reminded of what one of Ronald Reagan’s caregivers said of him as they walked with him through the last, confusing painful days of his life on earth. “He never lost his gracious spirit. It was embedded in his character.”

3. Thanksgiving will bring you back to the Lord (15b-16a). The healed man “turned back” to his Healer. In most circles, everyone but God receives thanks for the good times, and no one but God receives blame for the bad times. Here is a man who knew the source of his healing, turned back, and fell at the feet of Jesus.

4. Thanksgiving is something you “do,” not just something you “feel,” or “think” (15-16). You cannot escape the action here. The grateful man turned back, glorified God with a loud voice, fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and gave thanks to Him. Thanksgiving, like love, is every bit as much an expression as an emotion.

5. Thanksgiving erupts from the heart of people who consider themselves truly undeserving (16). Luke considered it worth noting that this man who “fell on his face at Jesus’ feet” was a Samaritan. Most Jews considered the Samaritans as mongrels, or “half-breeds,” because they were the descendants of Jews who had earlier intermarried with their gentile captors. On more than one occasion, Jesus applauded the humility of the Samaritans. Humble people are grateful people, and God honors those who are humble.

6. Thanksgiving is one of the most quick and simple ways to get an audience with the Lord (17). As the psalmist reminds us, we “enter His gates with thanksgiving.” Immediately upon his return, we find the lone leper experiencing something the other nine totally missed, a conversation with the Messiah! Who among us doesn’t respond with interest toward the person with gratitude in his heart and on his lips.

7. “Thanksgivers” are easily identifiable, but so are the ungrateful (17-18). “Where are the other nine?” asks Jesus. Ouch! The Samaritan could only shrug his shoulders. After all, he could only express what was in his own heart. How sad that in this permanent record of the event, we remember the nine as readily as the one. How are you remembered?

8. Thanksgiving results in a satisfying sense of purpose (19). “Stand up and go your way,” said Jesus. It was His way of saying, “No need to linger now that you have expressed your hearts gratitude. Go show yourself to the priest, then run home to your family and friends and tell them about both your cure, and our conversation!” Until thanksgiving is expressed, you will live life with no sense of closure. There is always something yet to be said and done.

9. Thanksgiving is the path to greater understanding (19). This one grateful, healed leper received an insight and clarification that the other nine totally missed. His healing was the result of his faith in Christ! “Your faith has made you well,” said Jesus. Of all ten, here was one man who had the true message. His gratitude had brought him to school at the Master’s feet. All things come by faith!

10. As a child of God, if you can do just one thing…thank Him! You will probably have a lot on your plate this Thanksgiving, both literally and figuratively! So why not begin by coming to the feet of Jesus and expressing gratitude. Right now! Just fall at His feet and tell Him of your love and gratitude. Be specific! Then listen for His response. Let your heart of gratitude to God be your most evident expression this Thanksgiving.

As someone has said, “Gratitude is your heart’s memory.”

Let’s not forget to be grateful!

Rejoice evermore!

Tom Elliff

Monday, November 15, 2010

A new chapter begins...

Yesterday marked a unique turn in our lives and ministry. Our family is stepping out in faith and prayerfully searching for what comes next.

Back in September, I preached in view of a call to become the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Olive Branch. The church extended a call, but circumstances surrounding the call led us to decline. We sensed our ministry coming to a close there at FBCOB and determined that it was time to move forward.

I cannot express how wonderful so much of the experience of serving in Olive Branch has been. I’ve had the privilege of leading out in mission opportunities, seeing people come to Christ and helping them grow in Christ! Equipping people to faithfully follow Jesus Christ and casting a courageous vision to impact the world has been my consuming passion!

My labor of love has also included teaching a wonderful Sunday School Class that has shared life together!
For the past two years this amazing group has explored a variety of topics from verse by verse studies of books of the Bible, marriage and parenting issues to Heaven! We’ve prayed, laughed, cried, and grown together. They have been a true faith family!

It is with a deep sense of sadness that we’re saying goodbye. Yet as Stephanie and I have prayerfully considered our place in ministry and recognized that it was time for us to move forward... we do so with confidence!

My new email address is
and Stephanie can be reached at

Below is the letter I shared with the church:

November 14, 2010

Dear Church Family,

“The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.” Reading this passage from Psalm 37 reminds me that my life is not my own. I belong to God. Stephanie and our children belong to God. We’ve committed our individual lives and our family to His calling and purpose. We’ve resolved to travel together down the path that He has set before us. We’ve entrusted our steps to Him.

It was God’s leading that brought us to Olive Branch in December of 2007. It was His plan for us to serve and minister through First Baptist Church. He has given us a heart for this community and a love for our faith family. His blessings have been abundant and evident, and I’m convinced that our days here have been ordained by the Lord.

That’s why today is so difficult. Through prayer and Godly counsel we are convinced that God is asking us to travel down a new path and our deepest desire is to honor Him by following His lead! The difficulty comes, not in saying yes to the Lord, but in saying goodbye to all of you. In our hearts we never thought this day would come, yet God’s Word tells us in Proverbs 16 that “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Today, November 14, 2010, I am officially resigning as your Associate Pastor for Education.
Please hear these words from the bottom of our hearts, we love you and will be praying for God’s richest blessings in your lives and in the life of this church. Also, be reminded of this... our friendship in Christ is not merely lifelong, but eternal! We will be united again, never to be parted, in God’s presence. Our labors here and now are temporary and we work must all work with diligence and urgency until our faith becomes sight.

God directs our steps and promises not to leave us nor forsake us. I’m confident that if God is leading us on to something new and wonderful then the same is true for FBCOB. Just as God is preparing to bless Stephanie and I with a new work, He is preparing to bless this church with a new season. May God richly bless this church to His Glory as you honor Him in thought, word, and action.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. L. Scott Hanberry

Monday, November 08, 2010


Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. Friendly fire happens on the happens in happens in the happens in life. Wounds are sometimes caused by trusted friends and allies.

Churches are full of hurting and wounded people. Tragically, many of them have been hurt not by enemies but by friends or fellow believers. I would highly recommend a book by Ron Dunn, entitled Surviving Friendly Fire. It will help you respond in a God-honoring way!

Oh, and here's an example of what friendly fire looks like.


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:38-48

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Erosion happens quietly...slowly... barely noticed.

PHYSICAL EROSION -slowly our habits of exercise are replaced with more docile patterns of life. Fast-foods meet the demands of fast lives and nutrition gives way to convenience. We don't fall out of shape, we drift there. We become consumed with other things and slowly move out of shape.

SPIRITUAL EROSION - slowly our habits of spiritual formation (prayer, time in the Word, meditation, Scripture memorization) are replaced with other pursuits. We sometimes adopt the attitude that we "already know" these things, so further study isn't necessary.

CHURCH EROSION - The culmination of spiritual erosion in the life of individuals is church erosion! Believers become by-standers, saints become spectators, Christians become consumers! And tragically, church leaders placate this culture religious retail. Sermons move away from foundational doctrinal teaching and bend toward advice for marriage, parenting, or a happy life. We must continually go back to where we started, The New Testament Church, and look closely at where we currently are to recognize the course we're on. My how we've drifted. My how we've become consumed with other things. Otherwise, without close inspection, we wake up and found ourselves off course.

The safest road to hell is the gradual one, the gentle slope soft underfoot without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. The long, dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or adversity are excellent campaigning weather for the devil...
C.S. Lewis in "The Screwtape Letters"

I want to encourage you to listen to the message series called, "The Church Awakening" on insight for living. The message series has challenged and encouraged me regarding the church! These messages aired beginning on October 22nd with a message entitled, "The Church: Let's Start Here"

There are 9 individual messages in this series:
The Church Awakening
By Chuck Swindoll

Let's enter an imaginary time tunnel and journey back about twenty centuries. As we do, remember that in the place we find ourselves there is no United States of America. The modern civilizations of Europe, Australia, and Canada—as well as other contemporary cultures—do not exist. Even the nation of Israel looks completely different. In the first century, there are no Christian traditions, and we certainly find no denominations or churches. Where we're imagining ourselves standing, no one has even heard the word church before. And the Jewish culture of the day exists in the context of a pagan Roman government that dominates the land of Israel. On top of all that, the official religious leaders of the day are proud, self-serving, and corrupt. It was in such an environment that "the church" began.

Whenever we want to understand a topic or term, such as church, we should begin at the passage of primary reference. It helps to ask, where did the word first appear, and in what context was it used? Surprisingly, the first mention in the New Testament of the word church wasn't from the pen of the apostle Paul. Peter didn't coin the term, nor did any of the other apostles. It was Jesus.
Matthew describes the scene for us. He writes of the time Jesus took His disciples up north into the Gentile area of Caesarea Philippi. While there, the Lord asks His men what the public is saying about His identity:

"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:13–16)

The culture around Jesus viewed Him as nothing more than a great man. But Peter voiced a different opinion. Speaking for the disciples as a whole, Peter was never more accurate: "You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One . . . the Son of the living God." Peter nailed it! At that point in the discussion, Jesus changed the dialogue to a monologue and commended Peter for his statement:

Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:17–18)

In commending Simon Peter for his spiritual insight about who Jesus was, the Lord unveiled even more truth about what He would do. In essence, Jesus told Peter, "Your words about Me are true. In fact, they are a foundational statement—like a rock. And on this rocklike declaration I will build My church." He also promised that the gates of Hades would not erode it or erase it. The church would have staying power. Against all odds, it would prevail. Not even the adversary would overpower it. I will build My church

…When Matthew recorded Jesus' word for "church"—the first mention of that term in the Bible—he chose the Greek word ekklesia. It’s a compound word, from ek, meaning "out, from," and kaleo, meaning "to call." It refers to those who have been "called out" from among others. The term more accurately reflects an assembly of people defined by a distinct purpose. The word was in use hundreds of years before Jesus was born, but by adding the word My to the term, Jesus revealed that He would build His own ekklesia—a people defined by faith in the truth that Peter had just revealed: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." We now call this unique assembly over which Jesus serves as Head "the church." How valuable it is to return to the origin of this term and make a serious examination of its purpose!

Why study the origin of church? Because it's there we see God's intention. Our understanding and application of what church should be will erode if we don't examine and keep in mind its Founder and its foundation.

This is an excerpt from THE CHURCH AWAKENING by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Reprinted with permission from FaithWords, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. All rights reserved.