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Church Blog

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Count Your Blessings

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thess 5:18)  Paul exhorts us to give thanks to God regardless of our circumstances in life. But that’s hard. Sometimes conditions are less than ideal; at other times, they’re downright bad. We all feel overwhelmed by life at times. In those instances, we are so close to our own problems that we think they must be greater than anyone else’s. It seems…
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He Settles the Solitary

Psalm 68 emphatically celebrates God’s defeat of his enemies and enthronement in Jerusalem. It lacks a superscription tying it to any particular historical circumstance, but some scholars have speculated that it was composed for the procession when David first brought the Ark of the Covenant to his new capital city of Jerusalem. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing (2 Sam 6:12). The psalm begins with…
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Taste and See

The proof is in the pudding. That’s one of those idioms we all know; it means that the end result will tell whether or not our efforts or planning were successful. But the phrase doesn’t make much sense when you really break it down: why is the proof in the pudding anyway? It becomes clearer in knowing that this is a shortened form of the original phrase: the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The word proof here…

Homecoming

The most famous story Jesus ever told is about a homecoming. We find it in Luke 15. One day, a young man went to his father and demanded his share of the inheritance. Then he left home and traveled to a distant land, wasting all of his money in wild living. When hard times hit, with no other recourse, he hired himself out to a farmer who had him feed pigs. Jesus could not paint a more dramatic picture of…

It Will Be Alright By and By

All of us at some time or another get depressed and discouraged. Sometimes we just want to give up and quit. In the heat of a moment, we’ll say, “That’s it, I’m quitting this job.” Or, “I’m going to leave this town and never look back.” Or even, “I’m done with the church – they’ll never miss me.” How often have we felt that life was seemingly stacked against us? That the harder we try, the worse things get? That…
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Restored and Always Restoring

For several weeks, we have been telling the history of the Restoration Movement in this space. If you missed any of the articles in this series, you can find them on our website. Throughout its course, we have covered a lot of ground: we noted the impulse toward recovering the New Testament church in several movements from the Middle Ages; saw the principle of restoration applied in different ways by groups like the Anabaptists and the Puritans; explored the simultaneous…
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Stone and Campbell Unite

The two Restoration Movements led respectively by Barton W. Stone and Thomas and Alexander Campbell came into increasing contact with each other in Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky throughout the 1820s. Their interactions brought the realization that they had a great deal in common, with their commitment to Scripture as their only guide and common call to unify Christians around the primitive NT church. Despite some differences that existed, members of both movements began to question why they did not unite…
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Stone and Campbell Intersect

A Restoration Movement, led primarily by Barton W. Stone, emerged in Kentucky; another Restoration movement, led by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, emerged in southwest Pennsylvania. As these two groups spread, they began to intersect in Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. By 1823, Stone’s Christian numbered between 15 and 20 thousand, and few had heard of Alexander Campbell. But that year, he traveled to Kentucky to debate the Presbyterian W. L. McCalla on baptism, taking along several copies of his new journal,…
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Alexander Campbell and the Baptists

While Thomas Campbell was separated from his family, establishing himself—and a burgeoning reform movement—in America, they had an eventful 30 months themselves. Their first attempt at a voyage was shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland. That night, while awaiting rescue, Thomas’s 20 year old son Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) made a decision he had often contemplated: he would devote his live to ministry. It was too late in the year to attempt to cross the Atlantic again, so the Campbells settled…
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Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address

While the various men we have written about in the past few weeks – O’Kelly, Smith, Jones, and Stone – were aspiring to be simply New Testament Christians in the United States, the principal figures of the fourth and final movement to examine were still in the British Isles. Thomas Campbell (1763-1854) was a Presbyterian minister in Ireland who became increasingly dissatisfied with the divisiveness of his denomination: he was not just a Presbyterian, but an Old Light, Anti-Burgher, Seceder…

The Christians in the West

A tradition of restorationist thinking, despair over denominationalism, and a commitment to religious liberty combined in the young United States to produce 4 movements, emerging almost simultaneously and independently, that looked to Scripture and the faith and practice of the New Testament church as their guide. We noted 2 of these last week: the O’Kelly Christians in the South and the Smith-Jones movement in New England. The most numerous of these grew largely from former Presbyterians and Baptists in Kentucky…

Early-American Restoration Movements

For the last few weeks, we have had a series of articles covering the roots of the Restoration Movement. We looked at its spiritual predecessors in the Middle Ages; we saw more direct influences in the Reformed tradition, especially as delivered through the Puritans, as well as the Anabaptists. All of these factors were present in Europe, of course. But certain features peculiar to the American experience, particularly in the aftermath of the Revolution, made it ripe for the Restoration…