Archive for July, 2011

Some Thoughts on God’s Compassion

Our series on Nehemiah has forced us to think about God’s compassion.  It’s difficult.

If we live in a world where there are swift and specific consequences for every act of wrong-doing, then God’s compassion doesn’t really fit in our worldview.  If we are honest with Nehemiah 9, the disobedience of the Israelites eventually would have earned them complete destruction, removed from God’s plan.

But that didn’t happen.  Despite repeatedly turning their backs on God, God’s plans and His purposes proved far and above those failures.  God’s might and power in saving them and providing deliverers were not to be denied.  It’s this aspect of His love for us that really drives a lot of us crazy.  It would make more sense if He would just drive a few more of us into the ground when we screw things up.  But His compassion is huge, it never fails.  There IS justice, there is separation from Him for eternity, there is consequence for those who don’t believe.

But His compassion is worthy of our consideration.  Do we understand God’s love?  Is it transforming us or are we trying to “just be better people” completely on our own?  Do we love others like God loves us?  Do we have a growing sense of what God’s compassion is and are we growing in our ability to show it to others?

May the joy of challenge surround you as you ponder the depths of God’s love and compassion and what it means for how you live.

Have a great Friday.

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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Christians and the World

I know, it’s a big topic for a Friday.  And no one single blog entry is going to answer every question.  But here area few thoughts I’ve been challenged with this week (believe it or not I heard two different sermons about this topic while in the car out and about this week).

  1. There is no outward characteristic that makes someone a Christian.  As you interact with unbelievers, do you long for them to fit into certain characteristics, such as not smoking drinking, cussing, etc.?  Do you wish people would act a certain way, spend their money a certain way, or avoid certain places?  Even if they did, they still wouldn’t be a Christian!!
  2. Christians should be bold, yet controlled, in the way they relate to non-believers. In light of the first point, we shouldn’t be afraid to relate to people who don’t meet certain outward standards.  Now we shouldn’t join them in going to rob a bank if they invite us, but neither should we judge them if they’re having a drink with dinner.
  3. We should never begin the conversation with things we wish were different.  If you’ve just met someone, saying to them “Man, I wish you wouldn’t smoke” is not going to lead them to Christ.  Jesus didn’t meet people this way.  He related to them in the situations they were in, and he pointed them to righteous living in the context of lovingly telling people what it took to follow God’s ways.
  4. We should not fear open ended friendships with non-belivers.  I believe this.  Let me say it another way.  Isolating ourselves from unbelievers is a ridiculous way to evangelize.  Are we intentionally involved in relationships with people who don’t believe?
I hope this gets you thinking today.  I hope you’ll consider your passion to love people who aren’t believers.  Jesus died to show people the way to eternal life – let’s not hog that gift and keep it to ourselves!

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Things to pray for!

Today, I thought I would pass on a list of things for us to be praying for.  Here they are!

VBS is this week.  We can be praying for long lasting impact on the children and families connected with Vacation Bible School.  May God move in mighty ways to grow his children and rescue the lost!

First Glance‘s Teen Moms area flooded for the second time this year.  It is very discouraging.  We can be praying for the First Glance staff, for the Teen Moms program itself as it is temporarily displaced, as well as for a permanent fix to the sewage system which is contributing to the flooding.

A family connected with Goss was greatly affected by the rain we got Tuesday morning.  Their basement, which is where they were living, was flooded up to their necks.  Lots of possessions lost.  Pray for opportunities for Goss to minister to them, as well as for their reliance on God in this tough situation.

School year programming is fast approaching and the programming structure will be looking different than in previous years.  Please pray for things to fall into place to provide ample opportunities to minister to children and entire families on Sundays and Wednesday nights.

-Don’t forget to be thankful!  Pray from your heart the things that you are thankful for.  Salvation, sanctification, food, shelter, family, friends, etc.  May we never get so caught up in the ‘needs’ that we forget how much blessing we have received!

Blessings,

Josh

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Program vs. Mission

Okay, I struggle with this.  Ministry is a difficult job for many reasons, but today I’ll challenge you to struggle with one of the reasons I struggle the most:  almost any job someone has is based on the amount of hours worked and the task completed.

Now sure there are tasks I must complete.  I prepare sermons.  I visit people.  I counsel people who want to be married.  I counsel people who are struggling.  I help plan worship services.  These are things and hours that can be counted.  But can the results?

Who knows what good a visit has done?  Who knows if anyone cares about the message you preach?  Only time will tell if marriages will last with the quality you pray they will.  Sometimes people who are struggling take years to work through issues and overcome (or maybe I’m the only one who’s done that . . .)

Now think: program, or mission?  I live with vibrancy because by and large I feel a joy in doing what I’m called to do, not because of some expected result.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking I don’t care about results.  Certainly I do and I pray for results, that God would move in our lives for His great glory!  But it’s engaging fully in the mission that far outweighs the feeling of being done with the program.

A bit of further explanation will help.  In a normal job, Sunday would be over and I’d be able to sit down and count the hours we put into making things work.  Lessons prepared the past week, hours spent at church teaching those lessons, and the effectiveness of the programs and services.  And we could well say that everything went smoothy and we spent the proper hours in preparation for something that paid off.  But if that’s our goal, then it’s all about us.  IT’S NOT!  It’s about the mission.

And it’s the mission that carries us.  It’s the mission we pray for when it’s late at night and people we love are on our minds when we can’t sleep.  It’s the mission that causes us to make a connection with others or send a text or call to see how someone is doing.  It’s the mission that consumes us – the mission to make disciples and to live a life to best show the character of Christ to those we love.

Anyone can set up a program and meet certain needs.  May we never feel sufficiency in running a program.  I hope and pray that we will be Christians who see the times we’re together in ministry (program) as launching pads for how to encourage throughout daily life.  May our programs be launching pads for loving people at all times!

Have a great Friday everyone.

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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A world without time

When you stop and think about time, it is actually quite a strange concept.  Most of our lives are completely structured around time.  The calendars on my desk tell me what day it is.  This morning, I coordinated a time with my friend in Thailand to have a conversation over skype, and at the same exact time, we signed on and talked to each other.  As I sit at my desk, I am starting to get hungry.  Why?  Because it is noon, and my body is telling me it is time for lunch.  I also know that it is noon because 4 digits in the top right corner of my computer screen tells me so.

Our awareness of time in our culture has certainly brought about more efficiency.  But I wonder what life would be like if time was only defined by day and night.  What if our time wasn’t so structured?

Even more so, have you ever wondered what it would be like to live without experiencing any sort of time at all?

I honestly can’t even wrap my mind around living in a world without time.  The entire universe revolves around time.  Everything is bound by time.  Except for God.  God is outside of time.  Time was created by God.

When we think about God being an everlasting God, it doesn’t really make sense.  That is because we have never experienced being outside of time.  The truth is, one day our souls won’t experience time.  To some, eternity can be a scary thing.  I hope that the adventurous excitement of crossing from our time filled world to a timeless world far outweighs our fears.

Our lives are but a vapor.  Let’s use the time given to us wisely.

Blessings,

Josh

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Preaching Ministry

It’s good to be back at it this week.  It’s been a bit of a slow go after being off for eight days.  But, I’m gaining some momentum as we approach the weekend and, as always, looking forward to Sunday.

My thoughts today center around one of my core convictions I’d like to share:  the preaching ministry.

I really do believe that preaching is the most important thing I do for Goss Memorial Church.  A lot of things can get passed the pastor’s way to be sure, but without the time to adequately prepare messages to help us process God’s Word and apply it to our lives, we’d be a pretty shallow bunch.  So ask yourself:  what goes into it?  Glad you asked.  I’d be happy to share a bit.

I usually plan messages several months ahead, at least as far as topics and basic outlines.  I like to have a more detailed outline for the coming Sunday when I get into the office on Tuesday (Monday is my day off).  The text, illustrations, and power point are then developed between Tuesday and Sunday.  The best part of message planning for me is when I am able to get long chunks of time (4-6 hours) to put several messages together.  It helps to see how themes and the entire passage run together, and it avoids repetition.  Being able to do this allows for the levels of prayer and study I may not be able to string together in the office.

Please continue to pray that I will grow in the skill of preparing and delivering messages.  It’s one of my greatest joys and I pray that as a congregation we will continue to grow through our study of God’s Word.  I pray we’ll all continue to live more like Jesus and be driven to action based on our knowledge of God’s Word.

Have a great weekend.

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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Missions in Ecuador update

A student from Goss’ youth ministry is in Ecuador traveling with a missions organization called Never The Same Missions.  Let’s remember to be praying for her!

She is on team #1, and you can stay updated through their blog here:

http://www.neverthesameec.com/?cat=3

What a joy it is to see youth stepping WAY out of their comfort zones to serve and follow Christ!

Blessings,

Josh

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