Friday, March 25, 2011

Cardboard Testimonies of Transformation

My parent's church did a "cardboard testimonies" service similar to the one in the video, and it was a powerful time. This video will definitely make you well up!

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Support Japan

I have been looking into how to support Japan during this time of crisis. There are several relief and development organizations on the ground there now. I just wanted to highlight a few of the options that you can send money through:

Samaritan's Purse
For over 40 years, Samaritan's Purse has done our utmost to follow Christ's command by going to the aid of the world's poor, sick, and suffering. We are an effective means of reaching hurting people in countries around the world with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ. Read more here...

In Japan, Samaritan's Purse is "delivering emergency relief supplies, including heavy-duty plastic shelter materials, blankets, water, hygiene items, and first aid kits, to survivors of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan's northeastern coast."

World Vision
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Read more here...

In Japan, World Vision is "is distributing relief supplies to thousands of people devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11. An emergency response team is on the ground in hard hit areas, providing water, blankets, and other urgently needed supplies to survivors. Ongoing efforts will focus on the unique needs of children, who are the most impacted."

Churches Helping Churches
Churches Helping Churches is a global partnership of church communities who seek to rebuild other churches in the wake of a catastrophic natural disaster. Read more here...

In Japan, Churches Helping Churches is "getting behind a local organization called CRASH Japan, which comprises Japanese missionaries and churches who know each other and know Japan."

Our junior high students at Sunshine are going to begin collecting money this afternoon. We are going to donate the money to Samaritan's Purse, to support their efforts.

Let's all continue to stand with Japan in prayer! Let's pray that God would use this to draw people to Himself there.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One Month To Live

This video is very inspiring and puts things in perspective!

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Gospel

All of us need the Gospel. We need it every day. It exposes and crushes are notions of self righteousness and it reminds of our utter dependence upon the grace of God through Jesus Christ!

1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

I have shared this quote before on my blog, but I think it is worth reposting...
"The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the salvation of those who trust him is old news. It is really old, really good news. So what are we aiming for in hearing again and again that which we've heard before? The hope in hearing the old, good news is that it would perpetually break new ground in our lives. Our hearts are like a jungle. There is untamed wilderness and darkness that has not yet been brought, as it were, under the rule of the One who has laid claim to it all. We need to hear the gospel again and again so that the old, good news of Jesus Christ would reach into these uncharted territories of our lives and fly the flag of its dominion. This is how we are "being saved." This is what it means to be overcome by the gospel." - Jonathan Parnell, Desiring God blog

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Faithful Eternal Investment

This past year I went to several funerals that have caused me to think on the frailty of life and the shortness of our time here. I feel a renewed sense of urgency to "maximize" my days. During my message on "Faithfulness" I looked at the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:16-30. It emphasizes faithful service to the King while he is away. The 24th & 25th chapter of Matthew reminds us that the return of our Master is certain and is on the horizon. He has entrusted us with an incredible treasure in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and He has given each of us varying abilities, skill sets, and spiritual gifts to be used for His glory and for the good of others. His instructions were to take the precious message of the Gospel and to invest it in the lives of others, that we might multiply ourselves and gain a return on our investment for the enjoyment of the Master.

We see these instructions given to us in the first chapter of Acts, and in the last chapter of Matthew. Prior to Jesus' ascension in the book of Acts he states, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When he had finished saying this, "as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight (Acts 1:8-9)." He gave similar instructions to us in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20 where he said, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age." The question now is, are we heeding His instructions to us? In the Parable of the Talents, the servants were to faithfully serve their Master in His absence. Brothers and sisters, are we faithfully serving the King while He is away?? Are we giving our lives away, pouring ourselves out, making eternal investments in the lives of others?

In mid-October my Grandpa Clark passed away. I was honored to have the opportunity to speak at both his graveside ceremony and later at his memorial service that we had here in Lawton. His memorial service especially impacted me. You see my grandpa accepted Christ in his early 20s, and by God’s grace faithfully walked with the Lord for nearly 50 years. Many of those years, my Grandpa faithfully served as a pastor. During the course of his ministry years, he served at five different churches. So at his memorial service, men and women from all of those different churches stood and testified to the impact my grandpa’s life had had on theirs. Many shared that he had led them to the Lord or that he had encouraged them in their faith. It was such a powerful service, and it spoke loudly to me of importance and of the call to all of us as followers of Christ to live of lifestyle of eternal investment. We are to give ourselves to making disciples for as many years as he gives us.

In early January one of my former basketball players, Trevell Martin, was shot and killed outside of a party. His tragic death has pained me for several different reasons. I can’t fully explain all of the things it has caused me to think about. However, one message that the Lord spoke to me through Trevell’s funeral was loud and clear. At the funeral during the open mic time, a man in his 50s took the podium. He said this, “I first want to give respect to Trevell’s mother and his family who are present here today. However, Trevell was also a part of a much larger family. Will all of the Roc Creek family please stand up.” When he said this, more than half of those present in the church sanctuary that day stood up. That experience made my stomach churn, and challenged me in a great way. You see in a sinfully distorted way, the gangs are faithfully present in the streets and they are faithfully “making disciples.”

God spoke the same message to me at two very different funerals. His message was clear and concise: Make disciples! Our time is short, and only faithful service to Christ truly matters. Again I ask, are we giving our lives away by investing them in the lives of others? Are we faithfully serving the King, by making disciples, while He is away? May we be a people who will one day here the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant! Come and enter into my joy.”

Friday, March 04, 2011

Faithfulness: See His & Serve Him

The last Sunday in February I had the opportunity to preach at New Hope Fellowship in Lawton, MI. I was given the topic of "faithfulness," and it proved to be a very timely topic for me to study, prepare, and preach on. I am grateful for the way the Lord worked in my own life through the process. This is my outline, and some of my key sermon notes.

Faithfulness: See His & Serve Him

I.See His Faithfulness
• Lamentations 3:23; Psalm 57:10
In the midst of pain, grief, calamity, and the consequences of sin, the author of Lamentations says, "But this I call to mind,and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!

1)In His Salvation
• Hebrews 10:23; 1 Corinthians 1:9

Hebrews 10:23
-->Let us hold fast (cling to)

-->The confession of our hope
Jesus is our hope! The confession of our hope is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 10:9-10)!

-->for He who promised is faithful (completely trustworthy)

The assurance of our salvation is based on the fact that God is Faithful!

2)In His Sustaining Grace
• 2 Thess. 3:3, Philippians 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 1 Corinthians 1:8

II. Serve Him Faithfullly
1) Examples of those found faithful
• Abraham (Galatians 3:9), Moses (Numbers 12:7), Daniel (Daniel 6:4 & 16), Paul (1 Tim. 1:12), Timothy (1 Cor. 4:17)
*God counted these men faithful, having made them faithful by His grace.

2) Will we be found faithful?
• Matthew 25:16-30; Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20
“Well done, good and Faithful servant”

Are we faithfully serving the King while He is away? Are we giving our lives away, pouring ourselves out, making eternal investments in the lives of others?