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Love Is A Witness

I said last Sunday I’d post this article to our church blog. 

So, here you go.  Are there any thoughts of last Sunday’s sermon still in your mind? I hope so. Remember that our love for each other and for those around us can be a very powerful witness for Jesus.

10 Love Challenges

I hope these challenges get inside your heart and inspire you to act! I’d love to hear how you’ve been challenged and how God has worked through you as you’ve lived these out!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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Have You Thought About the Holy Spirit?

This weekend, our teens will be at Stony Glen camp for an annual youth retreat.  Josh’s theme for the weekend is the Holy Spirit.  I’m praying for God to move in a mighty way in our teens and leaders and I hope you’ll join me!

But since those reading this most likely aren’t going, how about some quick thoughts about God the Holy Spirit?

1. The Spirit is God.

I actually think it’s terms such as the Holy Ghost that have turned the Spirit into a mystery.  It’s not a mystery; it’s God! We see the Spirit at creation, hovering over the waters, helping speak creation into existence! There are many other proofs in the Bible that the Spirit is God, but for now get your mind around the fact that it is NOT  mystery.

2. The Spirit makes us alive in Christ.

John 3 shows the necessity of the rebirth.  It shows the power of the Holy Spirit to take our natural human souls (dead) and awaken them to the truth of God (alive). Romans 8 is very descriptive when it comes to the power of the Spirit to set us free from the law of sin and death.

3. The Spirit lives in us and guarantees our salvation.

True Christians have the Holy Spirit in them.  Ephesians 1:13-14 describe the Spirit as a deposit which guarantees our inheritance as part of God’s family.  Since we can’t do that, and no human can do that, the Spirit (God!) does that for us. Is it powerful to think that God Himself is living in side you?

Do these quick thoughts about the Holy Spirit make for a great reminder about God’s role in your salvation? I hope so. Know that God is with us and working in us. Know that the power of God is with us and will be with us until the return of Christ. May we lean on the Holy Spirit for teaching, conviction, leading, comfort, etc. as we navigate this life God has richly blessed us with!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

 

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Is Your Life Full of Hope?

Last Sunday, I preached from Genesis 3.  It is a passage that is full of very destructive things.  But the message the Lord laid on my heart to share with our congregation is full of hope.

Yes, Adam and Eve blew it.  They destroyed the fellowship man had with God and brought sin into the equation.  That is one loaded sentence, full of literally billions of implications and consequences.

But there is so much hope. God did NOT snuff out Adam and Eve.  He didn’t put them back into the rib or back into the dust from which they were formed.  It was a show of God’s grace, His hope. 

My question today: Is your life full of hope?

It is very easy for us to focus on the negative.  First Glance, a local Christian ministry for teens, had an assault take place in the back alley.  They event made the local news and all of a sudden people are all up in arms about First Glance (is everything ok?), our community (oh things are so bad!) and bad people in general (I can’t believe a woman assaulted to young men with her young children taking part!).

I’m glad the two young men are ok; that is praiseworthy.  But there’s a question here that fits into a larger filter of how we understand life: Do we believe the woman committing the assault has hope? Are we people of hope, praying for her salvation and that she would learn from her mistakes? Have we said things to First Glance to encourage them when they’re in the news and don’t want to be?

Love hopes all things, and believes all things.  Even in a story like this (which I mentioned Sunday), God can bring about hope and healing.  Our call today? Raise our level of hope!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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The Science of Creation

In last week’s message, I said that the science of creation is important.  I very much believe that.

People will go one of three ways in their thinking about the science of creation.  

1. God’s Word is correct and can be trusted for a scientific timeline and scientific data.

2. God’s Word is rubbish and should be trusted for nothing.  Science alone should be trusted.

3. Somewhere in between.

Here is a link to the article I used for my research on multituberculates.

It all comes down to what you believe about God’s Word.  If you just don’t believe it’s enough to give us scientific evidence about God’s creation, then you will end up adding some human information to it and adjusting the language. Lots of believers have varying views about this, so I really don’t wish to alienate anyone. I just want to say I think it is about Biblical authority.

The Answers in Genesis website answers a lot of questions, and is very current in the information they have.  I encourage you to check it out.  Creation is about redemption in every way. We need to have a rock solid view of creation in order to understand redemption.  

For me, the best way to do that is to hold a consistent view of God’s Word!

Have a great Friday everyone.

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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Common Views of the Bible

The Bible is definitely viewed differently today than it was even ten to fifteen years ago. I think it’s worth it to think through what I think are some common views of the Bible.

These are views that sum up a lot of reaction and interaction I’ve had both personally with individuals and through what I read. What would you add to this list?

1. The Bible is the Word of God.

I’ll start with the only view that matters to me, and the only view that should matter to Christians.  God has a standard, He always has.  He’s miraculously communicated His Word to us, and it is useful to us in every way as we seek to live our lives for Him. If you want to know anything about how to relate to God, you can find it in the Bible.

Important to this view is that the Bible is a large collection of writings. God’s Word was written with different purposes in different time frames, and it does take some work to understand it well.  You should not expect to easily grasp something this large and written over such a long time period.

2. The Bible is the hateful words of a hateful God.

This view is that God is hateful and the Bible is used to thump people.  I have witnessed first hand some very negative opinions about the Bible, and they seem to be tied to a direct hatred of God.

3. The Bible is convenient for what I want.

This is the view that the Bible teaches nice things, but we shouldn’t really go to it looking for anything meaty.  This type of view will be fine with a surface understanding of God and His Word, but won’t seek much deeper than that.

This type of view fits very well with our current culture. Most people in culture think they’re free to determine right and wrong like they are their favorite flavor of ice cream. The Bible is useful to our culture in this way.  Lots of people know Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

4. The Bible should be interpreted with the current culture.

Never mind that a day really means a day. Never mind that the overall thrust of the Bible points to certain kinds of relationships that glorify God. If we want to believe what the world is telling us, then it seems many believe we should re-work how we think of the Bible.

This is most sad to me when it comes to creation.  The Bible says God made the earth in six days and there is plenty of great thinking that backs this up.  I know it’s a “non-essential” but can’t we admit that really as briefly as hundred years ago the Church by and large wasn’t looking to add evolution into Genesis?

I hope this gets you think about God’s Word. What do you believe about it?

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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Approaching All Relationships With Discipleship In View

Jesus called his disciples not just to do a bunch of powerful stuff, but to be with Him.

Peter and John weren’t just noted as men who did some powerful stuff, they were noted as men who had been with Jesus.

These are two principles that were brought out in last Sunday evening’s volunteer training.

What followed that evening were several specific thoughts about relationships as we seek to make disciples. Here’s what stood out most to me: flexibility.

The question took the form that went something like this:

Are you willing to meet people where they are, or are you frustrated because people you meet aren’t where you are?

This is a statement that will stick with me for a while. Let me give three practical examples in church life.

1. Kids and families in programs.

If you run a program, it is very easy to focus on running the program.  I ran programs for 10 years in youth ministry, and they were important times. They teach discipline, structure, and have great opportunities for formal instruction and relationship building.

But, many times there are people who are new to the structure.  Praise God for that.  What is wrong is to expect everyone to assimilate quickly into the structure and to emphasize the structure over the relationship.  Consider the background, situation, and the set of difficulties any child may have. Consider the family’s relationship with the church and Jesus. Have they ever been told of this glorious Jesus we meet? God forbid our commitment to structure and outward form is a hindrance to sharing the precious truth of salvation!

A “flexible” program worker and leader will be challenged to show a lot of love as we meet kids and families where they are.

2. Total strangers.

Sometimes total strangers attend worship or come up to us while we’re around the building.  We shouldn’t be freaked out when this happens. We should do whatever we can do to try to understand where they’re coming from and show them love.  We should try to do our best in these situations with the time we have. We should not be frustrated that someone has need.  We should love them, show them respect, and keep in mind practical things like safety and basic discernment.

If our attitude is to get strangers to “go away”, then we fail to help on every level.  Discipleship meets people where they are, just like Jesus did.  Discipleship also desires the best for people, so being able to speak the truth in love is something we should always ask God for the grace to do. Let’s pray that these encounters can open doors for relationships!

3. Long time Christians.

If you are a Christian who’s believed for a number of years, this is difficult.  Why? Because the gap is bigger between where you are and where you were.  You’ve been in Christ and enjoying His benefits for a longer period of time.  Times of trouble, need, chaos, etc. are either far behind you or were never present in your life. The flexibility to meet someone where they are is something you MUST ask God for, knowing that He alone can provide that.

Summing Up . . . 

If we develop this flexibility as a local church, people WILL feel welcomed and not judged.  After all, that is the goal.  We want people to feel welcome.  We want the truth to be told.  Telling the truth without welcoming people can be disastrous.

God, make us more flexible servants, ready to respond and show love in ways that challenge us and glorify you!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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5 things I’ve learned from reading the Bible this year

A couple of years ago, I decided to start doing what many others believers do – read the Bible in a year.  Through this discipline, I have learned many things about God, His Word, and about myself.  I have also noticed that each time I read through the Bible, different themes, ideas, and challenges resonate with me.

Here are 5 things that I’ve learned from reading the Bible this past year.

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1) God wants to be known.

Time and time again throughout the Old Testament, God the Father declares “You shall know that I am the LORD your God” (Ex. 8:24, Deut. 29:6, Ez 39:7, Joel 3:17, Jeremiah 24:7, etc.).  This is repeated over and over again, especially in the book of Ezekiel.  If you have read the Old Testament, you know that God causes some very violent events to happen.  Why would he allow the slaughter of thousands of people?  As I’ve discovered, God almost always gives the reason why.  He wants to be known.  God will go to great lengths to make His Holy name known throughout the nations.  He wants to be known, and He will do anything to accomplish that desire.

2) God opposes people.

Let that sink in.  It is recorded several times in the Old Testament that God says “I am against you” and that he is “opposed” to a person or group of people (Numbers 22:32, Nahum 3:5, Jeremiah 50:31, Ez 28:22, ).  Jeremiah and Ezekiel are full of these references.  This is not often the message we hear when we hear of God, especially in our culture today.  We mostly hear that God is a loving God and accepts all people and all things just as they are.  This is not what the Bible says!  God is constant and all loving, and in His love He opposes sin.  I find it interesting though that God doesn’t say “I am opposed to your sin”, but instead says “I am opposed to you“.  We should wrestle well with the wrath of God!

3) All humans fail, even the greatest ones.

When you think of Bible characters, who do you think of?  Adam, Eve, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Samson?  As ‘great’ as these men and women were, they all were sinful people who made huge mistakes.  I think too often we have too high of a view of the people in the Bible as if they were these great people, but in reality they were not more less or more human than any of us.  The message of the Bible is not “humans can do great things”.  We should also be careful to not put men like Moses and David even close to Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the ONLY character in the Bible who we should worship and adore.

4) For me, reading the Bible takes perseverance.

Truth be told, I am not really an avid reader.  I don’t know if it’s my attention span or what, but it does not come naturally to me.  In my spare time, I am rarely looking for a book to bury my head in.  When people talk about reading a book in a day it seriously blows my mind.  So reading the Bible is actually a challenge for me.  There are times when I really have to have mental perseverance to make it through the chapters of my daily reading.

5) For me, reading the Bible takes planning.

I have found that I have to be very intentional in order to find time to be in the Word.  To be honest, this year I am not going to fully finish my Bible reading plan.  I read the Old Testament, but only a little bit of the New Testament, and since September is when my reading plan ends, I will not have time to finish it.  I got behind and life circumstances have caused me to forget about the daily discipline.  I’m at a spot now where I am just going to start back over in September and do better at prioritizing it.  I also use an app on my phone called YouVersion which helps me keep on a schedule.  Without it, I would be much more forgetful.  It helps me see what I need to read that day, and it motivates me to get caught up when I am behind.

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I share these things with you not to try and get you to think that I am some super Christian who is better than others because I read the Bible.  I simply want to share my experience with you to encourage you to consider getting into God’s Word more and more.  If we truly believe that what we have in the Bible is God’s Word to us, we should want to spend our whole lives discovering what it says.

Blessings,

Josh

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