"Small Little Letters: Contention Within the Church"

Well, we’re ramping up into the Fall here at First Covenant -- I even preached for the first time in over a month!

Again, we announced the launch of a new ministry reaching out to younger children (similar to Awana or Pioneer Clubs).  We’re hosting a special “Back-to-School Bonanza” here on Saturday, September 22, so please pray for the opportunity not only to better minister to our own youngest FCCers, but also to effectively reach out to the families with whom we connected through our Vacation Bible School.  Every year, we have families ask if we have programs going throughout the school year, and every time, we’ve had to let them know that we don’t.  We’re trying to change that with three special seasonal events this year, then starting a weekly program in the Fall of 2019.  Please be praying for God’s leading in all of this.

We also have one more week until we kick in with Sunday Schools again before the service, as well as holding our annual Small Group Ministry Fair after the service.  Both our Sunday Schools and our Small Groups are designed to provide opportunities for our FCCers to interactively engage with the Word of God with others--in Sunday School, alongside peers at their age levels, and in Small Groups, within a deeply genuine family that shares and prays and grows with one another within community.  Please pray that people see the importance of plugging in and personally connecting with one another to grow deeper in their relationships with the Lord.

In our message this week, I began a mini-series looking at several of the shortest books in the New Testament.  We tend to gloss over books like Jude, 3 John, or Philemon -- maybe even simply because they’re so easy to miss as you’re flipping through your Bible -- but there’s a lot of deep, rich truth in these little letters worth looking at.

For instance, this week, we looked at Jude -- written by the other brother of Jesus and sounding an awful lot like James’ book in its tone (and 2 Peter in its content).  There may only be 25 verses in the whole book, but they’re packed with intensity and wisdom.

See, Jude saw the same things going on that Peter and Paul did -- that there were those within the Church who were so happy to be forgiven that they felt like they could then go out and do whatever they felt like doing, without feeling guilt or accepting anyone else’s judgment.  It actually sounds a lot like what’s going on in our own world today -- that the only consistently perceived sin is the sin of telling someone else that they’ve sinned.  Jude warns us in the strongest terms possible about the dangers of that perspective and the ungodliness of causing divisions and strife within the Church to feather our own nests or follow our own leads.

No, we need to take an absolute stand for truth and for purity of faith -- starting with our own.  And yet, part of that purity is to remember to show grace and mercy, even to those with whom we disagree (even with whom we disagree strongly).  That’s a bit unnatural, I know.  But then, as Christians, we’re not supposed to be bound by our natural instincts any more, are we?

How can you give and accept healthy criticism in healthy ways today?