Friday, January 05, 2007

Before Promise Keepers

Not a Sermon - Just a Thought, January 5, 2007

Promise Keepers has the goal of teaching men how to honor their commitments as husbands and fathers. Candidly, I am perplexed as to why a para-church organization is needed to teach men what the local church already knows? Hey, even the rock band Journey exhibits an understanding of this in their great song Faithfully. All kidding aside, I do worry that the covenantal nature of churches is in decline if Christian men have to look elsewhere to figure out how to keep their promises.

When a church is covenantal in nature, all of its members should be learning how to make – and keep – promises. Churches are not like a club where there are membership dues and relationships of convenience, but they are groups of people who are together trying their best to understand and follow Jesus’ teachings. They are spiritual families who are committed to helping each other through hard times. They are spiritual families who value people not based on their money, good looks, or big brains. Instead, a covenantal church is a family, who stands out as a beacon of hope in a “disposable” culture each time they act as if every person is valued as a child of God.

In the words of one my long time church members, “My church is my family. Good, bad, and ugly.”

This Sunday we’ll take a close look at our church covenant as we build toward our Covenant Celebration service on January 28. We’ll pay close attention to God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. We’ll also look at the role of Jesus in bringing us a new covenant in Hebrews 8 in a sermon entitled “The Character of Covenant.” I’m hoping to convince you that being in a covenant relationship with other Christians is a good thing and that a covenant to a church calls us to:

  • Exhibit faithfulness to God and one another,
  • Submit to a “bonded-ness” to one another, and
  • Live a sacrificial lifestyle in community.

In the words of Steve Perry, I remain,
Forever yours, faithfully,
Pastor Gary

Not a Sermon – Just a Thought is a weekly column written by Gary Long. To subscribe or unsubscribe to this column, email me at, at which time I’ll quickly and courteously add or delete your name!

Here is the scripture I'm referring to:

Genesis 15.1-6

God's Covenant With Abram
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward."

2 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."

4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." 5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Hebrews 8.6-13

6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
"The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

Covenant of Willow Meadows Baptist Church, Adopted April, 2006

I promise to make my relationship with God through Christ the first priority in my life. I will seek to “love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself.”

I promise to discover what it means for me to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I will engage in practices that will help me grow as a Christian. I will discover and use my spiritual gifts to find a place of service where I can offer Christ’s love to others through worship, ministry, discipleship, and fellowship. I promise to support the church financially in order for Christ’s mission to be fulfilled.

We promise each other before God that we will do these things together as a part of the body of Christ; we will be supportive of others, seeking reconciliation when needed, and will help others to experience their full potential in Christ. Together we will seek God's direction for our church and be open to His Leading.

Having confessed our sins, asked forgiveness, and received the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we now enter into covenant with one another in this body of Christ. We want to be an other-directed, covenantal community of faith that dares to aid God in transforming Southwest Houston into a place more like the Kingdom of God. May it be so by God’s grace and to God’s glory. In Christ’s name, amen.

1 comment:

Marvin said...

Gary, I was watchin 20/20 last night, since the rockets were torchin the Jazz, and John Stazel did a piece about "fame". I don't remember the guy's book who interviewed kids about what they most wanted in life. Above intelligence and wealth, they choose fame. They even showed classes that trained personal assistants for the famous. For many it is enough to aspire to carry the luggage of the famous. He said it is because we are lonely.
I think there may be some truth to that and the lack of community may be part of that as well. I've finished my latest Wendell Berry book, "The Distant Land" and of course watched George Bailey and Clarence and talked to Marley will look forward to your thoughts Sunday.