Church of Christ at South Bumby

We were so looking forward to seeing Vicky and Ralph Kline again at the Church of Christ At South Bumby, having met them when their son Gregory was dating our friend Kashka — and were blessed to celebrate with them their union in marriage on a beautiful autumn evening in Oregon when my husband performed their sweet little country wedding.

We were promptly greeted at the worship assembly with sincere smiles and welcoming conversation and were handed a visitor’s card to help keep in touch, along with a tidy little packet of very helpful and useful information. Included in the packet was a folded little tract written by Robert Harkrider entitled “What Kind Of Church Is This?”. If I was walking in, entirely unaware of the patterns of New Testament Christianity, even without a sermon, that little gifted 11x17 folded document alone, packed with so much well-worded wisdom in such a tiny space, would have been exceptionally informative and potentially life-changing. Perhaps a lot of good could be done if more first-time visitors were given this little flier, or one like it, in a welcome packet! Check it out for yourself here, if you like:

When announcements were made, it was handy that they included a few sentences about who was visiting that day, including who we were and why we were visiting. This gave us a headstart to connect in a more meaningful way with more of our brethren after worship and made me think about the advantages of letting the church leadership know ahead of time, when appropriate, any information a visitor may want to volunteer that helps the flock welcome them that much better.

The opening prayer was unlike any prayer I had ever heard — so unique, personalized, and heartfelt, it was as if the brother leading the prayer had never heard another man lead a public prayer in his life. (As a side note, when I was relaying my observation on this to a sister-in-Christ after worship, she agreed, and added that another brother, a new convert, some time ago had led his first prayer in public worship and began it with a heartfelt “Good morning, Father”; a unique opening she said also touched the congregation with its sincerity). When the Lord’s Supper was also surrounded by original words from the heart of the speaker, I realized this thoughtful readiness to express what was really needed by the flock that particular morning was a special quality this congregation had developed together. The Christians here were not just “going to services”, they were worshiping in spirit and in truth.

After the Lord’s Supper, Ken Chapman’s sermon on repentance took an approach I’d never heard. Entitled “How Do You Come Back From That?”, Ken noted with detail in his sermon several of the evil, scandalous, humiliating situations from which people in the scriptures were able to “come back” to God, including Judah & Tamar — the sordid story of neglect, deception, and loss (Genesis 38), Rahab — the story of a Gentile prostitute in a God-condemned, idolatrous country (Joshua 2), David & Bathsheba — the story of a very public, scandalous affair that involved the death of Bathsheba’s husband and child (2 Samuel 11), and the Apostle Peter— that close and trusted friend of Jesus who openly betrayed Christ when He needed him most.

Ken called for personal introspection when he asked, “What about You? What have you done that you thought you couldn’t come back from? Have you let your friends and family down? Have you experienced a public scandal, leaving you feeling as if you’re forever branded? Have you committed adultery that sorely disappointed you and others? Have you left the Lord and the church and now feel like it would be so embarrassing to come forward and own up to your sins?”

He then led us to reconsider the quality of our faith, by reminding us, “We need a deeper, fuller understanding of faith. True biblical, saving faith is a deep, abiding trust in God, that absolutely trusts Him to do what He says He will do. Think of sinful Israel, yet God delighted in mercy and wanted to forgive them (Micah 7:18-19). Do I trust this? God has promised to not just put us on probation, but to remove our sin and guilt (Psalm 103:12). Do I trust that forgiveness takes place in the mind of God? Do I trust that God has a greater capacity to forgive than we? (1 John 3:19-20).”

Next, Ken asked us to ponder genuine repentance — the very way each and every one of us actually do “come back from even that.” He said it this way: “We cannot come back from our sinful lives unless and until we come back. That’s repentance. Repentance (and what it requires) is illustrated in the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:15-21). He experienced godly sorrow that led him to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).”

Ken closed his sermon with the quality of God that makes all our fresh starts possible— that is, God’s amazing grace. He explained, “We couldn’t come back if not for the lovingkindness of our God. Sin may have abounded in your life, but grace can abound much more (Romans 5:20-21). God’s grace is illustrated in the Prodigal’s Father (Luke 15:20,22-24,28-32). And as flawed people who are saved only by the generous, loving grace of God, we must (unlike the Prodigal’s older brother), show grace to others who are trying to come back.” Then Ken concluded his sermon with this powerful thought, “Some of the worst people in the Bible made the most positive impact. Why? Because their story didn’t end with their mistake. It finished with their comeback.”

What shined brightest to me at the South Bumby church of Christ was how the hearts of this beautiful congregation “receive sinful men''. That is, they received repentant sinners with open arms. I know this because we had several longer conversations after worship with individuals who had been warmly welcomed back into the fold after “coming back from” a regretted period of wandering in dangerous and addictive darkness. Christ truly receives sinful men, and so does His humble, gracious family who practice what they preach.

Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heavenly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.

Sing it o’er and over again;
Christ receiveth sinful men;
Make the message clear and plain:
Christ receiveth sinful men.

Come, and He will give you rest;
Trust Him, for His Word is plain;
He will take the sinfulest;
Christ receiveth sinful men.

Now my heart condemns me not,
Pure before the law I stand;
He who cleansed me from all spot,
Satisfied its last demand.

Christ receiveth sinful men,
Even me with all my sin;
Purged from every spot and stain,
Heaven with Him I enter in.
(Erdmann Neumeister)

The Church of Christ at South Bumby
3940 S. Bumby Ave. - Orlando, FL 32806
P.O. Box 560207 - Orlando, FL 32856
(407) 851-8031 -