Loving the Flock as a Shepherd/Teacher

This week I received some admonishment from a minister concerning how a pastor should love his flock. I was told it is more important to love the flock than it is to give them long sermons.  By “loving the flock” he meant that consists of going to the hospital and being in homes. I’ve been thinking about this admonishment for the past few days since I received it.

I absolutely agree it is an act of love and super critical for a pastor to spend time with his sheep. I’ve found that in ministry this is a big part of being a pastor, and this ministry often extends to folks that are beyond your flock to family members and friends. I’ll also be the first to admit that as a young pastor I still have a lot to learn about visiting my church members in their homes and in hospital beds. I fall short in this area and so I take the admonishment seriously. I’m not sure I’ll ever spend as much time as I’d like and perhaps as I need to spend among my folks at church. (PSA: They’re a fantastic group of people to pastor and spend time with.)

Being in the hospitals, nursing homes, and homes is part of being a pastor. I’m not sure how a man call can himself a pastor without spending time with his sheep. The very word for pastor in the New Testament is the word for shepherd. You cannot be a shepherd without spending significant time with sheep. It means spending time with them when they’re born, when they’re sick, when they’re feeding, and when dying. Being a pastor means being a shepherd. As important as it is to be a shepherd, it isn’t mutually exclusive from being a preacher.

I take my admonishment to love my people and my community by spending time with them, but I reject the idea that our churches don’t need pastors who can preach “long sermons.” I think the Apostle Paul would reject it also. When Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11-12 about the people and ministry that Christ has given to the church he says, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” Paul says God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, then he lists another office: pastors and teachers. He links the two together because as far as the New Testament is concerned the role of a pastor/elder is always that of a pastor/teacher. Christ has given the church pastors and teachers. Pastor, our role is to be a shepherd and a teacher, not one or the other.

It is absolutely essential that pastors shepherd and teach because souls are in danger, Paul continues:

to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:12-16 ESV

I think what our churches need are pastors who will spend time with them and spend time in their study. We need pastors who spend time with their nose in their Bibles and their books and pastors who spend time in hospital waiting room chairs and 1970’s green couches. It isn’t mutually exclusive that pastors need to be “visiting pastors” or “preaching pastors,” God calls us to be both and if we neglect one or the other we will not love our flocks well. May God give us grace to shepherd well in the home, in the study, in the prayer closet, and in the pulpit.

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. – 1 Peter 5:1-4 ESV



Pray for Someone

This morning at Oak Grove, I preached a “Mother’s Day sermon” on 2 Timothy 1:5;3:14-15. You can listen to it here if you’d like.

To set up the context of verse 5, we looked at the surrounding context as Paul begins his letter to Timothy. In verse 3 he writes,

“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”

I shared with my folks at church this morning that we should pray for one another. Paul at the end of his life not knowing if he’d ever see Timothy again tells him, I’m praying for you. I think we’d do well to tell our brothers and sisters that we love them, that we thank God for them, and that we’re praying for them (really actually praying for them). I’m not inclined to think we should dismiss thoughts of people when they come to our mind. I think those seemingly random moments when a particular person comes to mind is a great opportunity to pray for that person. The simple act of praying and shooting that person a text can be a difference maker in someone’s day. It glorifies God, reminds us of our dependence on him, and can be a huge encouragement to someone else.

There’s nothing incredibly profound or insightful here, just what I think to be a helpful reminder to pray for people and let them know you’re praying.

A Year of Wisdom – 2017 in the Wisdom Books

At the start of the new year many folks plan and make resolutions. For many Christians the new year is a time to start over with their Bible reading. For some it becomes and honest effort to actually read through the Bible when they stopped the year before. For others they’ll read through the pages of scripture in their entirety for another time. I’ve always encouraged Bible reading through the Bible. In the past I’ve read through the Bible cover to cover and it is certainly a very worthy endeavor. However, I always feel rushed when I attempt to do a reading plan. It’s difficult to not want to slow down and stick with a book or particular passage. This year I’ve seen several folks talk about how they intend to spend some specific time studying particular books rather than trying to read through the entire Bible in the year with a reading plan. I’ve decided to spend sometime in the wisdom books: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These are all books that I’ve read before, but I’ve not spent much time studying.

Their worth in study is reflected in the opening words of Proverbs:

To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

– Proverbs 1:2-6 ESV

There’s great wisdom to be found in the pages of all of Scripture and ultimately the wisdom of God is found in Christ Jesus as the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 ESV

As such I believe in many ways that Proverbs isn’t just a collection of ancient Jewish sayings that might find their way into fortune cookies, rather it is a book about Christ. As are the books of Ecclesiastes and the book of Job. These books are books that deal with seemingly every area of life. They speak of joy and sorrow, life and death, pain and pleasure. I begin my journey in Proverbs and intend (Lord willing) to blog a bit in my journey through these books. I pray I’m a little wiser at the end and able to share a little bit of the wisdom found with all of you. Soli Deo Gloria.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7 ESV

P.S. I’ll also be sharing on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #AYearOfWisdom if you care to join in on social media.

We Ought To Mourn: Southern Baptist Church Membership

In the month of November we spent a few weeks on several different texts dealing with church polity. I spent a Sunday on church membership from 1 Corinthians 12 and a Sunday on church discipline from 1 Corinthians 5. The two go hand in hand. We spent some time seeing the pastoral heart and theology of the Apostle Paul for the church at Corinth. As we worked our way through the example and need for church discipline in 1 Corinthians 5 we could find no immediate application for corrective church discipline in our midst. However as I began to think about the text and how it applied to us I began to think about our membership roll and the membership rolls of many SBC churches. The number of people on our roll far outnumbers the people present on any given Lord’s Day gathering. The number of Southern Baptist church members on our rolls far outnumbers those present on any given Lord’s Day corporate gathering. As I pondered this I thought of the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians:

And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. – 1 Corinthians 5:2 ESV

The church at Corinth was boasting in their tolerance of a man in deep sexual immorality. As a Southern Baptist I can be really quick to point the finger at a whole slough of mainline denominations (even Baptist ones) that are boasting in their tolerance of sexual immorality in the church. Identifying those sins have their place, and rightfully so, but we’d be wise to examine ourselves. Southern Baptist may not boast in homosexual clergy, but we do boast in a sin closely tied to corrective church discipline.

We boast in our numbers and inflated rolls. We have spent so much time beseeching the masses to join our ranks that many of us have lost one of the distinctives that make us Baptist, we’ve lost regenerate church membership. The Lord Jesus died for His church. He takes the church seriously. We however have belittled what it means to be a member of the local church. We’ve allowed anyone who darkens our doors to walk our isles and join our congregations without ever considering that one must first be a member of the church universal before one can be a member of the church local. I fear we have long enjoyed the praise of the annual reports of our conventions and associations far more than glorifying our Father through faithfulness. We praise pastors at our conferences who have churches of 10,000 members and 6,000 in attendance. We’ve lost the sense of privilege, joy, and service that comes with being a member of the local church. We’ve reduced that for which Christ has died to a number on a sheet and we ought to mourn. We ought to mourn that we have strayed far from formative discipline and belittled membership that gives us such a wonderful glimpse of what communion with God and His people looks like throughout eternity.  We should repent of our pride and inflated numbers. We should ask for grace to be the churches Christ has called us to be. We ought to rejoice in the work of the cross that has bought the church and glory in the Father’s giving to us the church (1 Corinthians 12:18). Let us mourn. Let us repent. Let us glory in grace.



Right Polity Matters: A Gospel Cordial from Dever and Leeman

Right polity properly situates a Christian under the rule of Christ during the time of his or her discipleship in this world. Wrong polity either wrongly imposes human rule where Christ does not mean for it to be, or it evacuates his rule from a certain area of the Christian’s lie where it should be.

Right polity hems us in and keeps us from our excesses while also providing a platform for growth and ministry and freedom. Wrong polity erases the lines we should not cross while undermining those platforms that God intends for us to stand on and blocking the paths where we hope to walk.

Right polity protects the gospel from one generation to the next. It is the platinum prongs that hold the diamond of the gospel in place. Wrong polity loosens those prongs so that the diamond of the gospel eventually falls to the ground and gets lost. It leaves heresies and hypocrites unchecked. It lets hurting sheep wander off and fall into canyons.

Right polity protects the path of life. Wrong polity, over time, helps to lay the path for authoritarianism and moralism in one direction and nominalism, liberalism, and atheism in another.

– from Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age 

Some Thoughts on Congregational Singing

I’ve been in pastoral ministry now for right at two years and I often reflect that time. I get asked lots of questions from friends who are in the ministry and friends who are training for the ministry and that too often has my reflecting on my time serving at Cheerful Hope. I most often get asked about preaching. I preached my first sermon when I was 14. When I think of ministry I think of the ministry of the preached word. When I was a candidate for the pastorate I thought about preaching, I was questioned about preaching, I had to preach a trial sermon. The word is central and has primacy in worship. We read the word as a call to worship on Sunday mornings and I preach verse by verse through a passage of scripture. But that isn’t the only place the word of God shows up in Lord’s Day worship. It also shows up in our singing. 

I felt the call to gospel ministry when I was a teenager and knew I was supposed to preach. I didn’t know where and to what capacity I was to preach, but I knew that was what I was supposed to do. The Lord granted me the occasion and affirmation to preach. But, one area I wouldn’t have ever seen myself was in the position of leading people in congregational singing. Yet, when I was at the College at Southeastern I was involved in a church plant and when the gentleman who was leading us in song left the church I fell under the conviction (along with another friend of mine) that we should learn to play guitar. I never really took of with guitar. I learned three chords (which is about all you need for a lot of church music) and one, maybe two songs. I also bought a djembe and loved playing it even if I lack rhythm one really needs. I always piddled a little bit with guitar and learned a couple chords here or there. I played one song once at another church and played djembe and sang some. But I never really used it until I found myself at Fruitland Baptist Bible College and a member of Christ Covenant Community Church. When our congregational leader wasn’t going to be there one Sunday I volunteered to lead. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with leading, singing, or playing. But the Lord and people who understood the purpose of singing were gracious.

I look back and see this as an act of providence preparing me for where I am now at Cheerful Hope. I find myself now leading our congregational singing every week. I’m certainly not the best guitarist or vocalist. I don’t have very good timing. But what I do have is: a biblical mandate for worship and how it is supposed to be conducted, a myriad of good biblical music, and a wonderful group of folks who are willing to sing. (I’d also add a great group of people who have been willing to learn.) 

When I think of congregational singing I think of the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

This text has shaped what I’ve tried to do in congregational singing. First off, the music we sing needs to be the word of Christ. Music that is biblical is honoring to God. Man-centered songs with bad theology (even subtle bad theology) teach us to be man-centered and heretical.

Music teaches. I don’t remember all the sermons I’ve heard in the 25 years I’ve been to church. They have certainly made an impact in my life for which I am grateful. But, even after not singing the hymns of my childhood until I heard them 10 years later in chapel at Southeastern, I remembered them. Music teaches, it sticks to us, and if it teaches and it sticks to us it needs to teach us well. As we sing we need to sing music that is sound doctrinally. We also should sing the scriptures themselves. I love singing from the Psalter, though I don’t have much experience doing so. 

Music teaches and admonishes, but who does the teaching and admonishing according to the text? Each other. When we sing we are confessing corporately and teaching each other the things that we sing. When I sing, “Jesus paid it all,” I’m admonishing everyone else in the room with the doctrines or justification and propitiation. Isn’t that beautiful? It is also dangerous, if we aren’t singing sound music, we’re admonishing one another with falsehood. Or if we are singing man-centered music we’re admonishing one another to be man-centered. That’s why it is important what we sing. 

It is also important how we sing. I’m willing to sound like the old man with ear plugs in his ears at the back of a sanctuary at a concert for a moment. To admonish one another and to teach one another we must be able to hear one another. I’ve been to events where we are as a congregation singing, yet even singing at the top of my lungs I couldn’t hear myself. I can’t admonish or teach my brother if my brother can’t hear me. We must use the instruments of worship that we use as instruments not objects of worship. Not only must our instruments not drown our voices, our voices must be loud enough to teach and admonish. I encourage everyone at church to sing loud. I’m persuaded that the best instruments we have in congregational worship are the ones God gave us. We need to hear one another as we sing corporately, it is corporate singing after all. 

I’ve also learned to play a lot of different songs in the past two years. I’ve not mastered playing them, but I’ve learned them. The folks at church have also learned them. Paul doesn’t prescribe one type of song alone. We sing a lot of different hymns at church, some in the old Broadman hymnal, and some that aren’t. We sing hymns written 700 years ago and hymns that have been written in the last 10 years. We sing Issac Watts and we sing Chris Tomlin. We sing Charles Wesley and we sing Charlie Hall.

We sing, and we sing together. That’s what I’ve learned about congregational singing. We sing as Paul says, with thankfulness in our hearts to God. Our singing and your singing should be songs of thanksgiving, they should be songs of praise, they should be songs that are sound, they should be songs of admonition, songs of teaching, songs of the Father, songs of the Son, and songs of the Spring. They should be songs that are sung and sung together for the edification of the saints and the glory of God. If we’re missing either of those things we need evaluate how and why we do the things that we do. 

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Eight Purposes of Trials in Life – A Gospel Cordial from John MacArthur

I’m currently preaching through the book of James at church and in my preparation I found these words from John MacArthur on why the Lord allows trials in the lives of His people to be of great encouragement. 

1) First, it is to test the strength of our faith. – In many ways the Lord assists us in taking spiritual inventory by bringing trials into our lives to demonstrate to us the strength or weakness of our faith. (Ex 16:4; 2 Chron. 32:31; Luke 14:26; Hab. 3:17-18)

2) Second, trials are given to humble us, to remind us not to let our trust in the Lord turn into presumption and spiritual self-satisfaction. – The greater our blessings, the more Satan will tempt us to look on them as our own accomplishments rather than the Lord’s, or as our rightful due and to become proud rather than humble. (2 Cor. 12:7)

3) Third, God allows us to suffer trials in order to wean us from our dependence on worldly things. – The more we accumulate material possessions and worldly knowledge, experience, and recognition, the more we are tempted to rely on them rather than the Lord. (John 6:5-7; Ex 2:11-25; Heb. 11:24-26)

4) Fourth, a purpose of trials is to call us to eternal and heavenly hope. – The harder our trials become and the longer they last, the more we look forward to being with the Lord. (Phil. 1:23-24; Rom 8:18-25)

5) Fifth, a purpose of trials is to reveal what we really love. – Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Issac not only proved his faith, but also his supreme love for the Lord. Nothing and no one else should be dearer to us than the Lord. (Gen 22; Deut 10:12; Luke 14:26) 

6) Sixth, trials are given to teach us to value God’s blessings. – Our reason tells us to value the world and the things of the world, and our senses tell us to value pleasure and ease. But through trials, faith tells us to value the spiritual things of God with which He has blessed us abundantly–including His word, His care, His provision, His strength, and, of course His salvation. (Ps 63:3-7)

7) Seventh, the Lord uses trials to develop in His saints enduring strength for greater usefulness. – The Puritan Thomas Manton perceptively observed that “while all things are quiet and comfortable, we live by since rather than by faith. But the world of a soldier is never known in times of faith.” (2 Cor 12:10; Heb. 11:33-34)

8) Either, and finally, the Lord uses trials to enable us to better help others in their trials. – Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:31-32) (Heb. 2:28; 2 Cor. 1:3-6)

From, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, James. p.17-21.

Resources on Mark

Having spent over a year preaching through Mark’s gospel I though it might be of benefit to share some of the resources I found particularly helpful in preaching through the book.

A.T. Robertson’s Harmony of the Gospels – I’ve always found A.T. Robertson’s works to be of benefit in study. As I preached through the gospels I found it incredibly helpful to have a harmony of the gospels to read the parallel accounts in the other gospels. Though this work is antiquated today’s readers will still find it to be helpful.  (Amazon)

R.C. Sproul’s St. Andrew’s Expository Commentary: Mark – I cannot say that every commentary I own on Mark was opened and read from cover to cover week after week. This commentary by R.C. Sproul however was a go to week after week. Sproul’s commentary isn’t a technical commentary, but he does a good job addressing Greek when needed. This volume is rich theologically, incredibly practical, and would be of great benefit of anyone studying Mark. As one preaching through the book I found that Sproul’s textual divisions were often helpful in determining how much of the text to preach from Sunday to Sunday. Reading the pages of this volume you see the work of a pastor and theologian with a desire to communicate the truths of the text. (Ligonier)

Sinclair Ferguson’s Let’s Study Mark – This isn’t the most in depth commentary on Mark’s gospel, but its concise chapters proved to yet again like Sprou’s commentary show the heart of a pastor/theologian. Ferguson took the truths of the text and its theology and put it before his readers with a challenge to respond to the text. I try not to quote too many commentaries whilst preaching, but this is one volume I found myself quoting time and again. If you’re looking for a concise and reasonably priced commentary on Mark you won’t be disappointed with this volume. (Banner of Truth)

J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels – Bishop Ryle’s exposition of Mark was another volume I found so sweet to read week after week. Ryle never came short in seeing the beauty of Christ the King throughout the gospel. His application of the text would astound me week after week but I never found it to be beyond the scope of what the text was teaching. Every week I share a quote on the back of our church bulletin that deals with the sermon text, quotes from this volume could be found more times than any other commentary I used in my study through Mark. This volume and the others by Bishop Ryle on the gospels should be in every minister’s library. (Banner of Truth)

R. Kent Hughes Mark: Jesus, Servant, Savior (Preach the Word) Volumes 1&2 – This is the most homiletical of the commentaries I used preaching through Mark. Hughes is a well known preacher and these sermon based volumes were very beneficial in taking the message of Mark and bringing it to my hearers. Having originally only purchased volume one, upon completing reading it I took no hesitation in ordering volume two. This is a great commentary for the application of Mark’s gospel in the Christian life. This volume dealt with the linguistics of Mark when needed, it kept the theology of Mark present throughout its pages, and dealt wonderfully with the more difficult passages in a very pastoral manner. My only fault with these volumes is that it did not deal as thoroughly with every passage and even omitted a couple passages. Yet, with that being said I still think this volume would serve the student of Mark’s gospel well. (Volume 1Volume 2 Crossway)

I hope that these recommendations can be of benefit to anyone working through Mark. I know that my journey of exposition through it was most beneficial. It was my first venture in preaching through a book verse by verse. I’ve found it to be so rewarding in my own life as well as in the lives of my church. I’d encourage other minister’s of the gospel to do the same. Mark has a big view of Jesus the Christ the Son of God. Mark answers the question of who Jesus is. That’s what we all need to know, He is the one we all need to know. Study beloved of God to show yourselves approved, and you’ll have no reason to be ashamed.

Lord’s Day Thankfulness: A Gospel Cordial from Spurgeon

“Let Israel rejoice in him.”
Psalm 149:2

Be glad of heart, O believer, but take care that thy gladness has its spring in the Lord. Thou hast much cause for gladness in thy God, for thou canst sing with David, “God, my exceeding joy.” Be glad that the Lord reigneth, that Jehovah is King! Rejoice that he sits upon the throne, and ruleth all things!

Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in the sunlight of our gladness. That he is wise should make us glad, knowing as we do our own foolishness. That he is mighty, should cause us to rejoice who tremble at our weakness. That he is everlasting, should always be a theme of joy when we know that we wither as the grass. That he is unchanging, should perpetually yield us a song, since we change every hour. That he is full of grace, that he is overflowing with it, and that this grace in covenant he has given to us; that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory—all this should tend to make us glad in him. This gladness in God is as a deep river; we have only as yet touched its brink, we know a little of its clear sweet, heavenly streams, but onward the depth is greater, and the current more impetuous in its joy.

The Christian feels that he may delight himself not only in what God is, but also in all that God has done in the past. The Psalms show us that God’s people in olden times were wont to think much of God’s actions, and to have a song concerning each of them. So let God’s people now rehearse the deeds of the Lord! Let them tell of his mighty acts, and “sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” Nor let them ever cease to sing, for as new mercies flow to them day by day, so should their gladness in the Lord’s loving acts in providence and in grace show itself in continued thanksgiving. Be glad ye children of Zion and rejoice in the Lord your God.

– Charles Spurgeon, from Morning and Evening, Sep 22.

He Who Has An Ear – What I’ve Learned from the Seven Churches of Revelation

As I have been teaching through Revelation 2-3 in our adult Sunday School class at Cheerful Hope I’ve been reminded of a few things, learned a few things, and seen the application of the text.

The church belongs to Christ and he holds the church.

Since it is his church, he grows it, he holds it, he protects it, he rightfully judges it, and he has all authority in its midst.

These are seven real churches.

They have real issues as they do something right and as they do somethings wrong.

Jesus knows what is going on in the life of his churches both good and bad.

Jesus cares about what is going on in the life of his churches both good and bad.

Jesus commends his churches for what they are doing right.

Jesus corrects his churches for what they are doing wrong.

Jesus is working in the midst of his churches.

Jesus the Great Shepherd knows and takes care of the under-shepherds.

Jesus is serious about right doctrine.

Jesus is serious about false doctrine.

Jesus is serious about false doctrine.

Jesus is serious about false practice.

Syncretism of idolatry and Christianity are deadly to the life of a church.

Its of uttermost importance we stay close to Christ with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

When we are going through trials, suffering, and persecution Jesus knows, and he’s been there too.

Jesus knows the whole church and he knows her individuals.

Jesus can have a church in the most unlikely of places.

When Jesus comes with judgment is up to him, not us.

Jesus knows who is really a follower of his and those who just say they are.

Jesus is triumphant and so his church is going to be triumphant with him.

Jesus hasn’t called his church to idleness.

Jesus loves his church.

One day every Christian in every church is going to enjoy Christ the conquering King forever.

Christ’s church should long for the day when he returns.

Jesus is in control, not Satan.

What Christ says to these churches is applicable to the church today.

If you have an ear, listen to what Christ says to his churches.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” – Revelation 1:4-8 ESV