In Ricky Jenkin’s helpful little introductory video for the Campbell Road church of Christ called “Come and See”, he describes this vibrant congregation in a way we found to ring true on the lovely autumn morning we visited:
“We are a close-knit group of Bible believers doing our best to walk the Bible way, and to be transformed into the image of the Lord. Each person who visits with us will receive a kind and warm welcome. Each person is special to us because each person is special to God. We'd love to have the opportunity to help you live and walk the Bible Way. One of the things we're passionate about here is our Bible classes. The classes for our children begin as early as six months old and continue up through high school. These classes follow a curriculum that will take them through the entire Bible in three years. For adults, we offer three classes per quarter, balancing textual and topical studies. All of our classes are taught with excellence by our own members who come prepared to teach the depth of the Bible while also discussing how it applies to each one of us. We work hard to make sure our worship is thoughtful, joyful and above all Christ-centered. You will find heartfelt, passionate singing and deep, meaningful prayers. On Sunday we partake of the Lord's Supper remembering Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. On Sunday, we also have Bible-focused preaching which connects the truth of God's word to practical, daily living. Sundays are special for us. It's a time when we come together as one voice, one purpose, serving one another as we glorify our God. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to learn something about this church family. We're just ordinary men and women saved by the grace of God. We'd love for you to stay and browse around our website, maybe listen to a sermon, maybe read an article. If you happen to be in the greater North Dallas area we’d love you to stop and visit with us. You would be welcome and I promise if you come and visit with us we'll have a seat just for you.”
The Campbell Road church of Christ in Garland, Texas had been in our hearts as a congregation we wanted to visit ever since we heard that beloved Davis twins, Carrie Willis and Jamie Baldwin, whom we’d watched grow up in Oregon, had settled there, in part so that their children could enjoy the blessings of being surrounded with a larger community of other young people who have set their hearts on walking the straight and narrow. It felt like a bit of a surprise party/family reunion at the Dallas/Fort Worth Sacred Selections fundraiser to support adoption when we bumped into that whole Davis Clan and got to hear “their latest”.
The individual Christians in this congregation, as well as many others in the surrounding area, were well represented at an auction that by the end of the evening a taxidermied chipmunk in a canoe sold for $3,500 and 192K was donated altogether --- enough to cover the adoption costs for five families. That total speaks to these Christian’s sincere love of the helpless, and their willingness to sacrificially practice “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father” by both caring for the fatherless in their distress, and keeping themselves “unstained by the world” (James 1:27). I know that keeping themselves unstained by the world is something this congregation takes seriously because it was, in essence, the combined message of both the Bible study we attended and the sermon that followed.
Tim Wright’s class entitled “The Enemy Force” was inspired by an invaluable conversation he had with an anonymous brother he cares deeply about who would sometimes mention in passing the programs he was watching on television --- programs that Tim came to discover had profanity and other moral darkness. When he expressed his concern and appealed to this brother to walk away from this kind of entertainment, Tim was given his harrowing “reassurance” that “everybody watches this.”
Many of us share Tim’s concern and deep desire to do what we can to encourage people to “walk away” from all such media that over time will most certainly wear us down, often without our even noticing. Truly, “...the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another.” Galatians 5:17
Tim’s presentation was a great reminder of many of the schemes of Satan, and was for me quite reminiscent of a book written by C.S. Lewis that years ago opened my eyes and exponentially multiplied my awareness of the very customized tricks the enemy of my soul continually tries to use to deceive me and chip away at my own resolve to keep myself unstained by the world. [Side note: This book has made such a difference in my and my friend Julie Crones’s lives, that we recorded an online podcast together on our collective takeaways from the book that can be found online called “The Screwtape Letters: A Conversation With Julie Crones About How To Overcome Our More Subtle Temptations”].
Tim cited Amos 3:5 “Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no bait in it?” to remind us of this reassuring reality: we can never be enticed if there in nothing inside us that desires the bait. He also challenged each of us to reflect on this important question: What is the alluring and enticing bait that Satan knows we personally find almost irresistible? Is it worldly music or other media? Sensuality and lust? Rebellion? Laziness? Worry/lack of faith? Arrogance? Coarse Jesting? Deceit? Strife? Greed? Gossip? Intoxication? Envy? Jealousy? Power? Human Praise? If you could sneak into Satan's office, so to speak, and take a peek at the proverbial file that he has with your name on it, what trick might he have found to be the most effective in your life thus far toward the slow eternal destruction of your soul? For example, Tim candidly shared that perhaps the notes taken by the enemy of his own soul might read something along the lines of “...this subject may be prone to discouragement, especially if he becomes tired. This has worked several times before and seems a promising method of attack. Suggestion: Keep him staying busy, over committed, and physically tired which will limit his time with his family, and cause him to be constantly frustrated for not completing what he's set out to do.” How relatable!
Satan would have us fix our minds on anything but Jesus so that we slowly begin to minimize more and more the effect of the darkness we allow into our eyes and ears, until eventually, like Demas, we finally desert God and His people because deep down, if truth be told, we simply loved “this present world” more (2 Timothy 4:2).
The sacrifices we make to pursue holiness and keep ourselves unstained by the world, can sting at first --- that’s why it’s called a “crucifixion of the flesh” (Galatians 5:24). Over time, however, something happens when we, by the mercies of God, present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices, acceptable to God, which our your spiritual service of worship. When we make the conscious decision to refuse to be conformed to this world, God promises something about as close to a miracle you will ever experience in this life: A completely transformed life and a refreshing renewal of your mind, so that you are free to fill your life with all that is good and acceptable to the perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).
Experiencing the power of a transformed life is the very thing Ricky Jenkins went on to encourage us toward in his talk that followed. The first steps toward that transformed life often begin when a certain realization hits us. “You will not convince someone to leave the burning house unless you convince them where they're going is greater than what they're leaving” Ricky said, and then went on remind us of how very much we gain when we realize that compared to the riches of his inheritance that we gain in Christ, whatever we sacrifice to obtain that inheritance, is garbage (Philippians 3:7). God’s children simply have a greater affection for the heart of God than anything we've left behind and we’re so driven by an appreciation for the grace of God that our gratitude for that grace compels us for the remainder of our days to do all we can to remain in the warmth of His favor. To those who love God, grace never translates into playing fast and loose with sin. To the contrary, more than anything else, it is God’s grace toward us that attaches our heartstrings to Him and puts into us a desire so deep for His favor that we happily and voluntarily restrict ourselves from anything that would break our Heavenly Father’s kind heart.
Ricky went on to ask, “Have you ever been in a crowded room and you see someone across the way you haven't seen in a while and you do all you can to get their attention, waving at them and doing whatever else you can to attract them?” This is in essence what God has done: The gorgeous complexity of His creation in every inch of the universe is His waving to try to get our attention. Clothing His Son in His love and allowing Him to painfully die on the cross is His waving to us to tell us “I love you this much. I love you. Listen to Me. Pay attention to Me. Come to me. I love you. I want you. Listen to My call!” When we look up long enough to lock the eyes of our hearts with your Savior’s we will, like Paul, forget everything we left behind (Philippians 3:13) and will for the remainder of our lives habitually gather the courage to honestly look at our reflection in the mirror of God's word (James 1:22-25) to see who we really are deep down, where we have failed, and where we have been victorious and continue to mature a little more every single day toward all we can be.
The Campbell Road church of Christ is ready to help all Christians draw even closer to the Lord, and for those looking for newness of life who have come to realize just how empty, bankrupt, and horrific sin truly is, they are ready to baptize you into Christ for the remission of your sins (Romans 6:3-11).
This happy church family filled the church house the Sunday morning we visited, and the singing was so heavenly that I found it perhaps the most harkening I’d ever heard of the afterlife. I guess I had not realized until our visit to what extent a song leader can cause the congregation to feel deep within their souls the truths being sung to God and one another, and I'm so thankful that the upcoming generation is learning how to lead singing with such full, heartfelt expression and are often even able to lead songs with both hands to individually direct the musical parts we are so beautifully weaving together to His glory. When we chatted with song leader Cy before we departed, he was curious about our travels. When he asked what the best places were that we visited, I told him how I measure that: The places and experiences that make me weep are always the best. I then shared that my license plate that reads "MOVE ME" is in essence a prayer that God will touch my heart with the people and places I encounter during my travels, and thanked him for being an answer to that prayer by moving me during our song service. As Ricky said in his sermon, “There's nothing more exhilarating, there's nothing more adventurous, there's nothing greater we'll ever experience in life than simply to be a Christian.” Amen, Brother.
Campbell Road church of Christ
2828 W. Campbell Road
Garland, TX 75044