Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pastor's Update for Fall 2012

Here's an update I shared at our quarterly business meeting last Sunday, including some praises and upcoming prayer needs for our church...

Fall is here! As the days grow shorter and students head back to school, fall is a good time to stop and review our ministry goals for the coming year. A couple weeks ago, I met with our deacons for our annual prayer and planning retreat. Here are some opportunities we see on the horizon and invite you to pray with us:
  • With Gordon Gill and Dan Bentley stepping down from deacon ministry for health and scheduling reasons, we plan to add one or two new deacons to our ministry team next year. We look forward to presenting these names for consideration as we get closer. 
  • Shepherding and care for the Body of Christ is a high priority for our leaders. We have updated our Care Group Ministry and Prayer Chain, and are encouraging every member to belong to a Small Group at the church (e.g. Life Groups, Wednesday night study, 29 Palms Bible Study, Men’s or Women’s Fellowship). We also hope to add a Young Adults Bible Study to our list of available Bible Studies on Sunday mornings.
  • It seems the Lord may be opening the door for a Spanish Bible Study sometime soon. This is an exciting development that would help us share Christ’s love with an entirely new demographic of our community. 
With Natalie’s improved health, we’ve been able to show more hospitality in our home. We host lunch on the first Sunday of each month for any young adults and singles. We’ve also been hosting several equipping classes in our home, and this seems to be working well. Our Sunday afternoon Baptism Class wraps up next week, then we’ll begin another New Members class in mid-October. Several attenders have already signed up. We’ve also been meeting with several young couples for marital/pre-marital counseling. It’s a joy to connect people together and to equip families in our church in a more relaxed setting.

After our study of the Lord’s Prayer concludes, I plan to preach a series on the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah has been called “The Gospel of the Old Testament.” He is quoted more by Jesus Christ than any other prophet, and is essential to our understanding of the Messiah. I’m excited to dive into this series later this fall and into the Christmas season. On Wednesday nights, we’re wrapping up our study of the Spiritual Disciplines and are beginning a new series on Basic Christian Beliefs. You won’t want to miss it.

Lastly, I encourage you to keep giving generously to the Lord’s work. Though attendance remained strong through the summer, our giving noticeable declined. We have some exciting opportunities for ministry growth and facility improvement. Often, money seems to be the only thing holding us back. As soon as funds are available, we are ready to fix our sanctuary ceiling, patch our Bldg. C roof, improve our sound system, repair bookcases in my study, increase missions giving, and create a permanent line item for internships. The church has also fallen behind several months in paying my family health insurance. If giving could increase by $2,000-3,000 per month, all these goals could be met. Please pray what the Lord would have your family to give. Every dollar makes a difference and brings glory to God.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Every Prophecy of the Bible

Here's a great book currently free on NOOK and Kindle: Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times by John F. Walvoord.

This book is basically a commentary on biblical prophecy. It is particularly helpful because it sets each prophecy in its historical context, harmonizes it with other prophecies, then sets it within a premillennial, pretribulational eschatology.

 For example, here is the explanation of the Valley of Dry Bones prophecy:
“Ezekiel 37:11–14. Having given Ezekiel the vision, the Lord now interpreted it for him. In the interpretation, Ezekiel was informed that the bones represented Israel. Her hopeless, dried condition illustrated her hopelessness of ever being restored. In response to this, God promised to bring her back from death and to the land of Israel. God would put His Holy Spirit in her, and she would be settled in her own land. The Lord said, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it,’ declares the LORD” (vv. 11–14). In biblical interpretation today, many affirm that Israel will never be restored. They share the hopelessness that gripped the Israelites as they were scattered from their land to Assyria and Babylon. Contradicting this hopeless situation, God promised to restore Israel and in the strongest possible terms indicated that He would bring new life to her, and she would be restored as a nation, that she would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and she would settle in her own land in safety. 

"The prediction that she would be brought up from the grave is partly symbolic in that the nation seemed to be dead and will be restored to physical life. But it is also to be considered literally, because according to Daniel 12:1–3, at the close of the great tribulation when Christ returns in His second coming, there will be a resurrection of Old Testament saints. Both figuratively and literally Israel will be restored and given new life. Those who have died and who were saved will be resurrected to share in the millennial kingdom as resurrected saints. The promise that His Holy Spirit would be in Israel goes beyond her experience under the Law, when the Holy Spirit was with her but not necessarily in her (John 14:17). Beginning on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), all genuinely saved people are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, a situation that will continue until the rapture of the church. Though there is no clear revelation of what will be true between the rapture and the second coming, this and other Scriptures make clear that the Holy Spirit will indwell the saints in the millennial kingdom (Ezek. 37:14; Jer. 31:33).” 

Description from the publisher: Unprecedented natural disasters, political uprisings, and economic uncertainty: The Bible predicted it all. Now you can understand it—and know what's coming next. As we watch world events unfold, biblical prophecy becomes a subject of intense interest. Every Prophecy of the Bible brings clear answers to more than 1,000 key prophecies, backed with solid Scriptural evidence. Noted biblical scholar Dr. John F. Walvoord covers each prophecy from Genesis to Revelation, giving detailed insight into the many prophecies that have been fulfilled, as well as those that are still to come. By placing each event into historical context, the author gives insight into how the past, present, and future fit together to form an amazing, divine design. An excellent reference guide for those seeking answers, this comprehensive book reassures readers that God's master plan is to be trusted and that the Bible is an accurate source of hope for all Christians.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Small Groups

Whenever I teach a membership class at our church, I encourage each member to get involved and not stay on the sidelines. If you have a humble and teachable heart, you will grow rapidly by doing three things in the local church. We call these the "A-B-Cs" of church membership:

Attend our Sunday morning worship service (Ac. 2:42; 20:7). This is the highlight of our week. it is a time to express our love for God as a corporate body, listen to expository preaching, give our offerings, observe the ordinances, sing, pray, and fellowship together.

Belong to a Small Group. Sunday worship is great, but we also grow through deeper relationships and relevant teaching in a smaller setting (Heb. 10:24-25).

Connect to a Ministry and use your spiritual gift to serve others (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). Find at least one ministry where you can begin serving as soon as possible. These may include music ministry, office help, maintenance, ushering, audio/visual, social coordinator, children's ministry volunteer, visitation, etc.

This fall, the deacons and I are spotlighting the letter "B" in this list. We want to encourage every family to get involved in a small group. Several of these are are available. Life Groups meet every Sunday at 9:15 am. Bible Study & Prayer is Wednesday at 6pm. Plus we have Men’s & Women’s Fellowship one Saturday morning per month. I don’t expect everyone to attend all of these. But I do encourage you to choose at least one.

Our Sunday morning Life Groups are especially strategic because everyone is already at church and youth & children’s programs are available. If the Lord wills, we hope to add a Young Adults Life Group and a Spanish Life Group in the coming months. But don’t wait to get involved. We already have two great adult classes on Matthew and Mark for you to attend. Come join us this Sunday at 9:15. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help your family get more involved.

Related Posts:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Things I Wish They Told Me at College Orientation

I came across an interesting article this morning on the Boundless webzine.

Chelsey Nugteren shares some things she wishes she knew when starting college. Might seem like common sense, but these are great reminders for any student...

1. Grades still matter

2. Use your summers and breaks wisely

3. Make good friends

4. Find a church and stay there

5. Get a mentor

9/27/12 Update: Here's the second half of Chelsey's list. You can read the full articles here and here.

6. Summer/semester lovin' aint as harmless as Sandy and Danny make it seem
7. Get involved
8. Capitalize on travel opportunities
9. Serve/volunteer
10. Pray. Pray. Pray

Are there any lessons you would add to this list?Are any of these different for the online learning environment?

HT: Tim Challies

New Blog

Today I'm closing up shop and launching a new blog called Pinch of Clay. You can visit it by clicking here . Please stop by and...