Good Reads 07.30.15 (on parenting, being a church member, joy, and more!)

Here is a collection of links to good reads found across the internet this past week. Be sure to check them out:

On church membership: Why Join a Church? by David Mathis

In our flighty and noncommittal age, neither non-Christians nor Christians are naturally inclined to find a place to put down roots and make longstanding, objective commitments for the good of others. We want to keep our options open and, above all, preserve our own freedom of choice, rather than make a covenant for the long haul and embrace a framework for real life in all its ups and downs. But what if you went against the grain and became part of the solution to the modern problem of being so noncommittal? What if you joined the rebellion, and pledged your loyalty and engagement to a Bible-believing, gospel-cherishing local church? (click here to read more)

On seeing God at work in dark times: God Often Does His Best Work in the Darkness by Stephen Altrogge

Being in the valley of trials stinks. It’s painful, disorienting, and confusing. As we stagger and stumble along we often wonder, “Where is God? Why is he allowing me to go through this?” We feel stuck and broken, like we can’t move forward. We are perplexed, crushed, weighed down, and in the dark. We move ahead slowly, groping and grasping, hoping to find a handhold. The reality is, however, that God often does his best work in the darkness. (click here to read more)

On parenting: Raising Real Kids, Not Fakers by Nicholas McDonald

The #1 difference is this: ”real” students come from safe homes. Put simply, a safe home is a place where it’s okay to fail. In fact, it’s expected, and embraced. Rather than excusing their children’s sin or “fixing” it, these parents resolve to love their children through imperfection. And that’s the #1 way to keep our children real.  (click here to read more)

On spiritual growth: Three Ways to Grow in Faith by Mike Leake

Every believer has dry seasons. There are times when our faith is lively and vigorous. At other times we wonder if prayer is just talking to ourselves. Though our union with Christ is unbreakable our communion with him is variable…. So how do we grow in our faith? (click here to read more)

On what joy is: How Do You Define ‘Joy’? by John Piper

It is not just in the word that we see Christ. We see him in his gifts and in people. We see him in his gifts of nature. We see him in his gifts of food and in all of the good things that our Father in heaven gives to us. Every gift of Christ to us is intended to be a communication of something of himself. So we see Christ not only — we taste Christ not only — in his word, but also in his works. (click here to read more)

School Supply Giveaway!

Tuesday, August 4 from 6pm-7:30pm, we will be hosting our annual School Supply Giveaway in our gym (red and white metal building). There will be free basic supplies, refreshments, and new this year: a drawing to win a free backpack. We have a backpack to give away to one younger boy, one younger girl, one older boy, and one older girl. You can enter the drawing at the event and we will notify you if you’re the winner.

Remember, supplies are limited and available on a first come first serve basis.

school supplyc

None Beyond the Reach (a meditation on how the gospel can impact anyone, including a terrorist)

…though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. ~ Paul, 1 Timothy 1:13-14

What do you think when you see a stranger walking down the street? What do you think when a person speeding along the interstate cuts you off to pass someone on the right? What do you think when you see the news about someone who has robbed another? About someone who has murdered? About a terrorist who shouts for joy as he beheads another person?

The Bible tells us to think of each of these people as someone who needs the gospel and can be transformed by the grace and love of Christ. Pleasant or hostile, friend or enemy, neighbor or living on the opposite side of the globe—no one is beyond the reach of salvation in Christ, if only they hear his gospel, repent of their sin, and follow Jesus.

We sometimes have a hard time with this. Our feelings might not be set against the stranger we pass on the street and the anger might quickly fade against a person who cut us off so long as no other harm occurred; but a murderer and a terrorist?

Yet what was Paul before Acts 9, before he encountered Jesus?

He told Timothy that he was a persecutor. Acts 9 begins with the statement, “But Saul [Paul’s given name], still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters…so that if he found any [followers of Jesus], men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” In Galatians 1:13 he wrote, “You have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” And in Acts 26:10, he said that he cast his vote against imprisoned Christians in order that they might be put to death.

We don’t know if Paul himself ever personally executed anyone, but he arrested and had a hand in the deaths of many Christians simply because they were Christians.

By modern day definitions, Paul was a terrorist. And yet God granted him mercy that led to faith and repentance because everything he did was carried out “ignorantly in unbelief.” That doesn’t mean he didn’t know what Christians believed—every indication is he knew it well, and that was why he hated them so much. But he didn’t believe it himself. He didn’t grasp it as truth until that encounter with Jesus.

This means for us that as we engage our lives in sharing the gospel, no place and no person is off the table.

What if they want to persecute us and do evil to us because of our faith? We are to rejoice, finding our greater happiness in God as we show them love and pray for them (Matthew 5:10-12, 43-48). What if they want to kill us? We should have no fear because all they can do is kill the body, they can’t destroy the soul (Matthew 10:26-33). What if they refuse to live at peace with us and act as our enemies? Then if they’re hungry we feed them, if they’re thirsty we give them something to drink, so we overcome their evil with good (Romans 12:14-21).

Following Jesus is not about our comfort and safety. It’s about trusting an all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful God and his promise to give us life beyond death and joys forevermore. It is about looking at a world where many live in the darkness of the ignorance of unbelief and doing what we can to take them the gospel.

It’s about living as if none are beyond the reach of Jesus and his grace, for as many as will hear and receive the gospel message about him will find eternal life—no matter what their lives looked like before.

This post is part of our on going journey through the Bible as a church.

Sunday 07.26.15 (reflections on the return of Jesus and VBS starts)

This Sunday, we’ll take a look at what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 about the return of Jesus and the hope we have because of it. Vacation Bible School also kicks off at 6pm. For more VBS info, click here. Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm VBS2015 Begins!

Sermon Notes
The Return of Jesus ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

Why reflect on Jesus’ return?

  • It gives us hope against life’s greatest darkness–death (4:13)
  • It helps us to encourage and build up one another in faithfully following Jesus (4:18, 5:5-11)
  • It helps us faithfully reflect the hope and righteousness of Jesus in everything we do (5:5)

What do we learn about the return of Jesus?

  • It is the death of death (4:14-17)
  • It is loud, visible, and global (4:16)
  • It will mark the moment that we are forevermore in the presence of Jesus (4:17)
  • Its suddenness will surprise the world but it should not surprise followers of Jesus (5:1-4)
  • It brings about eternal salvation for God’s people and eternal wrath for those who have rejected God and chosen sin (5:9, 2 Thess 1:7-10)

Good Reads 07.23.15 (on the good life, marriage and prayer, planned parenthood, and more!)

Below are a collection of links to good reads from this past week, be sure to check them out!

On what makes life good: What Is the Good Life? by Darrin Patrick

Despite the variety of responses, no one associated the good life with being poor, mournful, and meek. But if you asked Jesus that very same question, that’s where he’d start. (click here to read more)

On the recent news about Planned Parenthood and the sale of aborted fetus organs: Planned Parenthood: How Much Longer? by Jonathan Parnell

How much longer, America? How long are we going to let this go on? How many more conversations need to leak? How much more blood must be spilt? How many more body parts must be dismembered, packaged, and sold before we realize this whole thing is a nightmare? God, may it end soon. (click here to read more)

On the joy of following Jesus: The Joy of Discipleship by Jared C. Wilson

We all usually agree that to follow Jesus is to take up one’s cross, to constantly be doing battle against the flesh, to constantly be denying one’s self and resisting temptation and pursuing repentance. This is all hard work. Cross-carrying is not “happy go lucky” stuff. And yet, the love of Christ—love for Christ—for the Christian is seen as a more delightful experience than all the world’s charms and flesh-feedings. (click here to read more)

On dealing with guilt: A Lie Guilt Tells Us by Barnabas Piper

Reality is that everything that needs to be done for us to be close to God has been done, for 2,000 years. Jesus finished it with his death. His resurrection sealed and proved it. (click here to read more)

On marriage and prayer: 6 Bible Passages I Consistently Pray Over My Wife by Sam Bierig

My practice has been to try to take one of these passages each day of the week and use it to give momentum to my prayer for my wife.  What a joy and weighty responsibility it is to pray on behalf of our wives!  In that spirit, let’s meditate on six different texts… (click here to read more)

Vacation Bible School starts Sunday!

Vacation Bible School is coming up and coming up quickly. We start this Sunday night (July 26) and it will run through Friday (July 31), with Friday being family night. VBS will meet from 6pm to 815pm each night, with registration beginning at 530pm.

You can complete and print a registration form ahead of time and bring it with you to save time, by clicking here: Registration_Form 2015.

We look forward to seeing you there!

2015 vbs pic

Battling Goliath (a meditation on fighting life’s great giant)

 

And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” ~1 Samuel 17:37

Ever have one of those days where you’re looking at life and feel like you’re staring up into the face of a mighty warrior giant who is laughing at you and taunting everything about you? We all have giants that want to war against us; but there is one who stands far taller, far more fierce, and far more deadly than all the others.

His name is Sin and Death.

Sin and Death isn’t something that we simply just deal with. It’s not an annoyance and it’s not something standing in our way. It is a captor that enslaves. “The wages of sin is death,” Paul wrote (Romans 6:23). And Jesus said, “Everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

The Israelites faced a giant in the days of King Saul, a warrior of the Philistines named Goliath who stood much taller, much stronger, and much fiercer than any of their warriors. So long as Goliath stood, the hearts of Israel’s army fell faint and they ran scared. Fear ensnared them and without help the people would have fallen, enslaved to the Philistines.

No trained warrior wanted to face the giant head to head. Only David, still a young man at the time and a shepherd, vowed to take on the giant. “Let no man’s heart fail because of him,” David said to King Saul. “Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

First Saul questioned David’s ability; but David spoke to how he protected his father’s sheep from lions and bears. Then Saul tried to clothe David with his armor; but it proved too clunky and cumbersome so David threw it off. Instead, David chose his own weapons of war: five smooth stones and a sling; but more than that the greatest weapon of all: “I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand.”

He hadn’t needed the four other stones because the first landed its blow, square against the giant’s forehead, and sent Goliath to the ground. The victory had been won.

After Saul, David became king over Israel—a king chosen by God and a king after the Lord’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). God later promised David a Son-King who would reign upon his throne forever, this Son-King being Jesus (Luke 1:32-33).

Against Sin and Death, we are not frightened warriors afraid to fight, we are enchained slaves unable to fight. We need a rescuer to take down our Goliath, one who does not fight with the strength and weapons of men but one who fights in the strength and power of God. We need someone to slay the giant and cut off the head of Sin and Death.

We need Jesus. He is the one who put himself between us and the giant. He is the one who took on our sin and death. He is the one who frees us from enslavement. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Free indeed. As Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Our freedom is found not in trying to fight our own battle, but in standing behind the great Shepherd of God’s sheep who rushed headlong into battle and took down Goliath.

This post is part of our on going journey through the Bible as a church.