Posted by & filed under Church, Faithfulness, Financial Issues, Upgrade.

Family Meeting – Wednesday, March 2 @ 6:30pm

Hey Church,
Just want to make you aware of some campus building issues that we will be discussing and acting upon at our Family Meeting on Wednesday. We have several big repair projects that we have put off as long as we can and some upgrades that are much needed. Over the past several months our Campus Maintenance leader, David, has been gathering information and getting estimates from various companies for the project. A couple of weeks ago the Campus Maintenance Team met and put together a proposal to present to the church. The following are the various components of the proposal:

1. Stabilizing the corner of the fellowship hall. The northeast corner of the fellowship hall/kitchen began sinking late last year and is need of stabilizing. This will require a company drilling down to the bedrock and installing stabilizers under the building to prevent further sinking. We also propose concreting the area around the corner to keep from experiencing water build-up in the area again. This will also provide pads for the new HVAC units.

2. Heating and Air Conditioning Units: 

  • We have four HVAC units for the sanctuary that are nearly 30 years old. Only two of the units are working. All four units will have to be replaced with new, high-efficiency units.
  • The two units for the Education/Fellowship Hall building will also be replaced (only one is working and it is several years old). We will also be adding HVAC units specifically for the upstairs area. This will require all new duct-work for both the upstairs and the downstairs areas. We will also be removing the single unit for the library and tie the ductwork from the fellowship hall into the library to provide heat and air for the room.

3. Electrical Upgrade: The new HVAC units will also require us to upgrade our electrical system. This will involve replacing our current electrical panel, bringing it up to code, as well as adding an electrical panel upstairs for the new HVAC units.

4. New Ceilings and Lights: Since we are having to add ductwork for the upstairs and replace the ductwork downstairs, we will also be replacing both ceilings including new drop ceilings and new lights (upgrading to LED lights), and adding insulation in the upstairs ceilings.

5. New Carpeting: We also propose replacing all of the carpeting in the Education Building including the upstairs area and the few rooms downstairs that still have carpet.

6. A few other “smaller” projects are also included as part of the proposal:

  • Roof repair of the Children’s Wing. We’ve experienced several leaks over the past three years and need to repair the roof.
  • Repair HVAC unit at the office building.
  • Refurbish our sign including new facing with the “fire-cross” logo (like on the front of the bulletin), and repair and replace the inner lighting units and bulbs.

The Campus Maintenance Team will be presenting a proposed cost for the total project which will include incidentals such as a dumpster that will be needed for the deconstruction. Upon approval by the church, we will ask the trustees to pursue a loan for the cost of the project. Though we have some monies in the Building Fund, we do not want to exhaust that fund should the need arise for other repairs unrelated to the projects. We will also ask the Stewardship Team to develop a capital campaign to raise the funds to pay back the loan in a reasonable time period.

Once the project is complete we will have an upgraded facility that will be more energy efficient with a modern, clean look that will enable us to effectively continue the ministry of Kingdom work of God.

Obviously this is a significant project that will require much prayer, faith, commitment and sacrificial giving from our church. It will also require flexibily in that our Education/Fellowship Hall building will be unable to be used for at least a couple of months. God has always been faithful to provide for the needs of our church, and we can trust that He will continue to do so. Please be present Wednesday night to be part of the presentation and to join together with our family of faith to praise and pray for the future of our church.

Posted by & filed under Bible, Church, Commitment, Discipleship, Groups.

 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 (NKJV)

Acts 2 tells the story of the first disciples on the day of Pentecost; about 120 followers of Christ had been gathering to pray and wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit. When He showed up, it was unmistakeable – sound of a mighty rushing wind (think locomotive coming by), flames overhead and speaking in different languages. By the end of the day the little group of 120 grew to 3,120 – 3,000 people responded to the Gospel and became followers of Christ. Incredible event that also brought incredible responsibility. Jesus had told his disciples to make disciples, so how do you disciple 3,000 people? 

That’s the question we are dealing with on Sunday mornings in our series, “Disciples Making Disciples” (you can listen to the sermons here). In Acts 2:40-47 we see a pattern for discipleship, what some have called a “Discipleship Pathway.” There are at least five steps to the Discipleship Pathway and we looked at the first this past Sunday – Commitment. In v.42 it says that “they (all of the followers of Christ) continued steadfastly…” The word translated “steadfastly” means “to be devoted,” “to be committed,” and “to give oneself to continuously.” These early followers were devoted, committed, and were giving themselves continuously to the Lord and to each other. 

1. Apostle’s Doctrine V.42 – The Scriptures

2. Fellowship and breaking bread V.42 – Relationships with the church –

3. Prayer V.42 – Relationship with the Lord –

4. Sharing all things in common Vs. 44-45 – Generosity

5. Temple gathering V.46 – Corporate Worship

6. Gathering house to house V.47 – Small Group Discipleship

Each of these six commitments is an important component of being a disciple of Christ. Over the next few posts I want to briefly discuss each one.

The first commitment is to the “apostles’ doctrine” which would be the equivalent of the Scriptures for us. The apostles were the original disciples who had walked with Jesus and had been discipled by Christ Himself. They were the experts in what Jesus said and did. Jesus had told them to make disciples by teaching them to OBEY everything He had commanded them. So there “doctrine” wasn’t just the teachings of Jesus, but also how to live out those teachings. Their doctrine would eventually become the content of the four Gospels we have today.

Disciples are committed to the Scriptures, the word of God, not just knowing what it says, but also how it applies to life, howto live it out. You cannot be a disciple of Christ without being committed to reading, studying and living out the word of God. Consider these passages:

 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (ESV)

 

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 (ESV)

 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Joshua 1:8 (HCSB)

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (ESV)

These are just a few of the passages that affirm the absolute essential-ness of the word of God (for further proof, check out Psalm 19:7-11, Isaiah 55:11, Jeremiah 23:29, Matthew 7:24-27; 24:35, John 15:7, and James 1:23-25 among others). You will never grow spiritually as a disciple of Christ without a commitment to the word of God.

Are you committed to the word of God? to reading it, studying it, memorizing it, and obeying it? That is an essential commitment to make to be a disciple of Christ.

  

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

2016 is Here!!!

The New Year is a great time to make a fresh start and plan for the future. Most people have given up on making “New Year’s Resolutions”, which is understandable, since most of us give up after only a few days or a couple of weeks. However many studies show that people who set goals and develop a plan to reach their goals tend to accomplish more, and have a better sense of fulfillment in their lives. Most all of us want to feel like we’ve accomplished something with our days.

In my D- Group (Discipleship Group) we are studying through the book of Ephesians, and this was the passage for study this morning (Jan 1, 2016):  So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20 (NLT)

Great words to live by and put into practice as we begin a new year! Pay attention, or give careful thought, to how you are living you’re life. Don’t live thoughtlessly, but understand what God wants you to do! Don’t be intoxicated by the things of this world, but be controlled by the Holy Spirit of God. Don’t just let life happen to you, give thought ot how you are living and what God wants you to do with your life.

Every year around this time I write a Spiritual Growth Plan for the coming year. I think about my life and pray and ask God what He wants to accomplish and what He wants me to do, and I prayerfully write out some goals that I believe God wants for my life. I’ve discovered over the years that when I take time to make a plan and write out my goals, I accomplish more, I grow more, and I have a sense of fulfillment in my life. Below are some general goals I am setting for myself this year, and I encourage you to develop your own growth plan. But first, here are a few things to keep in mind:

FirstPray first; seek the Lord’s direction for your life. Our goals should always be guided by the Holy Spirit and the word of God. Every good idea is not a “God idea.” The Bible says that if anyone lacks wisdom, he(she) should ask the Lord. Seek God first, and He will guide you in making your plans.

SecondDon’t try to do too much. A lot people set too many goals, or set goals that are too big and vague, and then become overwhelmed and give up. For example, you may have a desire to lose 50 lbs this year. That’s a big goal that will take time and if you don’t start seeing pounds drop off quickly, you might get discouraged and give up. So start with a more reasonable goal of losing 10lbs in 3 months. That’s an average of less than 1lb a week. That’s a more manageable goal and once you start meeting that goal, you’ll pick-up steam and before you know it, you’ll have lost more weight.

Third – Write out your goals. Study shows that people who write things down accomplish more than those who don’t. Write down your goals and keep them in a place where you can see them regularly – tape them to your bathroom mirror or the refirigerator where you will see them everyday. Or, if you use your computer or other electronic device, make your goal list your screen saver or home page. Find some way to read your goals every day or so – it makes a world of difference. 

Finally –  be accountable to someone. Share your goals with a family member, prayer partner or accountability group. I will be sharing mine with my D-Group, and anyone else that would like to know what my goals are for 2016. Just ask and I will send you a copy of my Growth Plan.

So here is an abbreviated version of my Growth Plan for 2016:

Spiritual Growth

Read the Bible through in 2016. I’m using the 52 Week Bible Reading Plan that we handed out in the bulletin. You can view or download and print your copy from the “Resources” page at our website by clicking here.

Memorize the first chapter of Philippians. I normally do a variety of verses, but I have a long-term goal of memorizing the whole book of Philippians, so I will start with chapter 1 this year – 29 verse or about 2 and 1/2 verses per month.

Pray for more opportunities to share the Gospel and be intentional about sharing my faith with people I meet.

Begin or get involved in a regular local mission project or organization (still praying about what this will be/look like), and lead our church to be involved in regular missions projects in our community and beyond.

Pray daily for the lost to be saved (I have an ongoing list of lost family members and friends that I pray salvation for).

Continue leading a D-Group and start 1-2 more groups through the year.

Practice “instant obedience” when I hear God speaking to me.

Personal Growth

Lose 20 more pounds this year. Last year I lost 38lbs. My goal was 50, and even though I didn’t reach it, I did lose more weight than I’ve ever lost in my life!

Walk a minimum of 2 miles a day.

Get in physical condition to hike Mt. Cammerer in late October of this year (it is about a 12 mile hike, round trip).

Spend more time with family by planning regular family activities (trips, fun days, etc)

Financial Growth

Give more to the work of the Lord than we have ever given before. (This has been a goal for the last three years, and each year God has increased our ability to give more to His work).

Develop and maintain an emergency fund for our family.

Develop and maintain a monthly budget (we use Dave Ramsey’s plans).

Ministry Growth

Lead the church to develop short-term and long-term ministry/growth plans.

Develop and implement a disciple-making strategy in our church.

Lead our church to develop a revitalization plan.

Lead our church to give more to our community than we ever have before.

Develop and grow my relationship with our staff and ministry leaders.

Equip men to be spiritual leaders in their homes, communities, work places and our church.

Lead our staff, deacons and other leaders to develop “personal contact ministry” with our church members.

These are general goals; I’m still fleshing them out and developing the details. But if you would like to talk more about my Growth Plan or how to develop one of your own, please contact me.

I look forward to seeing what God will do in and through Magna View in 2016. I believe it will be our best year ever!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Church, Community, Lord's Supper, Uncategorized.

This coming Sunday we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Yesterday our chairman of the deacons, Mike, sent me an email devotion that had come across his computer. Mike didn’t write it, and the author isn’t noted, but for me, it came straight from God. (The bold and italicized emphases were already there:

“When you refuse to love people because they’re hard to love, you forget the fact that God always loves you, even though you’re not always easy to love.

God’s love for you is unconditional and everlasting. God loves you exactly as you are, and He loves you no matter what you do. God doesn’t love you because you are a ‘good’ person; instead, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

God is abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6).

In 1 John 4:9-11, we are told that, because of God’s love for us, we ought to love one another: This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

‘One another’ even includes those that are hard to love. Remember, God loves you even though you’re not always easy to love. Therefore, you, also, ought to love others, especially those that aren’t easy to love.

Christ must be at the center of your relationships because He provides a stable, fixed point of reference; otherwise, your relationships will be frail and fragile.

Every relationship is based or founded on something. For example, some relationships are based on the fact that both people work for the same company, attend the same school, or sharing a similar interest in a hobby or sport.

With all of relationships, once a common bond is no longer present, the relationship will tend to deteriorate. For example, once a child graduates from high school and moves off to college, he or she will probably lose most of the relationships formed with classmates, because school is no longer a common bond and thus there is nothing holding the relationship together.

However, if your relationships are formed around a common belief in Christ, then no matter what else happens in life, as long as that common bond is still present those relationships will last...”

 

Those are powerful and truthful words. As I was reading this devotional, I was also thinking about celebrating the Lord’s Supper on Sunday. For years I treated the Lord’s Supper as somewhat of a ritual. As a pastor, I confess that I usually worried more about whether the elements were prepared, would there be enough, if we would have enough guys to serve it, and what would I say devotionaly that I hadn’t said a hundred times before. I didn’t give a lot of thought to the powerful representation of the Lord’s Supper. And other than a short prayer before the service, I didn’t do a lot to prepare myself spiritually to participate. I would read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, which gives instructions about the Supper, but I would skim over or just ignore the following Scriptures about preparation… until a few of years ago when the Lord just gripped my heart about how I had been so casually approaching something that Scripture made clear was a significant part of the spiritual life and growth of a follower of Christ. God highlighted vs 27-32 of 1 Corinthians:

27So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 31But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 32Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world. (NLT)

Two things stood out: First, Paul was writing to a fractured church. They were divided over several things, but even the Lord’s Supper had become contentious (see vs 17-22). His comment about eating the supper “unworthily’ was a reference to the division, the broken relationships within the body. Scripture is clear that to be out of fellowship with another believer is to be out of fellowship with God (Matt 5:23-24, 1 John 4:20-21). We dishonor the Lord and his Supper by fractured relationships.

Secondly, the phrase “you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup” (emphasis mine). I have the “amazing” ability to see what is wrong in everyone else’s life, and conveniently ignore the problems (and broken relationships) in my own life. (Jesus calls it looking for others’ specs and ignoring my logs, Matt 7:3-5). God broke my heart over how casually I had come to His table without examining my own life, and restoring the broken relationships in my life. Since then I’ve striven to resolve conflicts in my life, to keep myself prepared for communion with the Lord. I don’t always get it right or do it well, but with the guidance (and conviction) of the Holy Spirit, I work at it.

Several years ago a person came to me after we had celebrated the Lord’s Supper in worship, and confessed that he did not participate because he was at odds with another church member. At first I thought it was an honorable thing to do; he recognized there was a problem and didn’t want to dishonor the Lord’s table. But the more I thought about, I realized that the instruction Paul gives was not so that we would shun the Lord’s table and miss the blessing of fellowship with the Lord and others, (by-the-way, because Jesus commands us to do the Lord’s supper [Luke 22:19], to not do it is an act of disobedience). But Paul gave those instructions so that the church would work to heal the fractured relationships and the Body of Christ would in unified – which was Paul’s real concern for the church at Corinth. Unity is imperative for a healthy church, and preparing for the Lord’s Supper is an opportunity for wounds to be healed and relationships to be restored and the Body to be whole.

So this week as you and I prepare for the Supper of the Lord, let God guide, heal and restore us so that we can be His Body that is whole and healthy.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalms 51:10 (NLT)

Posted by & filed under Church, Prayer, Prayer Revival, Unity.

Those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name (Mal. 3:16).

Today we’re facing a period of moral and spiritual decline that is perhaps more rapid and widespread than ever in our history. Almost everywhere we go, we hear churches and people cry out for revival. They are saying that what they are experiencing is so bad, so dry, and so empty that they want a fresh touch from God. They want to experience God in the ways God’s people experienced His mighty power and presence in the Scriptures and in history. Some are experiencing a fresh breeze of God’s Spirit. Small mercy drops are falling in some localities. But many are saying, “We don’t know what to do.” Their heart cry is: “Is there a word from the Lord? What does God say we need to do?”

God’s Word has an answer for us. God has revealed Himself and His ways as He has worked with His people down through the ages. He has spoken clearly about His expectations and standards. He has revealed principles and described examples. He stands ready to pour out times of refreshing on the dry and thirsty ground of our lives. But He’s waiting on a people who are willing to pay the price of surrender and obedience to His will and His ways. He’s waiting on a people who will return with their whole heart to a love relationship with their Creator and Savior. Will you be such a person? Will you join with others who are willing to be such persons?

In Malachi 3:16 we read that “those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard.” We’ve prepared this devotional guide to facilitate that kind of conversation and prayer. We want God’s people to study His Word about revival and spiritual awakening. We want to help you talk about His will and His ways. We want to assist you in seeing His standards and choosing to return to Him. We want to encourage you to pray together with others to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).

(From the Introduction to Fresh Encounter: Seeking God Together for Revival in the Land, A 28-Day Devotional Guide)

Posted by & filed under Church, Community, Family, Groups, Prayer.

Dear Church,

In preparation for our Fall Birthday Celebration and Revival services (October 18-21) we will be holding a series of Home Prayer Groups on Sunday evenings, September 13-October 11 to prepare us spiritually for God to move in our church. We will be using a 28-day devotional guide called “Fresh Encounter: Seeking God TOGETHER for Revival in the Land” written by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. It has brief, daily devotional readings for six days of the week, and then a group discussion guide for the seventh day, which will be for the Home Prayer Groups. These will be handed out in the Home Prayer Groups during the first meeting on Sept 13. If you or none of your family will not be able to attend a Home Prayer Group because of your work schedule, please see me for a devotional guide.

The following people have agreed to host a prayer group in their homes on Sunday evenings:

David & Lori Hegel                                          William & Sunny Hall
Andy & Jeanie Beltz                                        Lu Peck
Brett & Brittany Heffner                                  Mike & Cindi Heffner
Louis & Sandra Dickerson

This Sunday you will be asked to sign-up with one of the hosts so they will know how many to expect for their prayer groups. I know this weekend is a holiday and several will be gone, so you can also sign up by emailing me or calling the host.

I also wanted to try to answer some Frequently Asked Questions to help give a better understanding of what we are doing through the prayer groups.

1. “I’ve been meaning to tell you that I wanted to host a group in my home (or, ‘I told you I wanted to host a group, but you forgot to put my name on the list’ [sorry]) is it too late to sign-up to host a prayer group in my home? NO. If you would like to host a prayer group in your home, just contact me by email or phone, and let me know you are willing. I would love for us to have 2-3 more homes.

2. Why are we doing Home Prayer Groups, can’t I just pray at home by myself?
YES! And you should be praying at home, by yourself and with your family, but that doesn’t exclude the need for corporate prayer with the church family. There are examples in Scripture where the church gathered in homes to pray – Acts 1:14, 2:42-47, 4;23-31, 12:5-19 – and God moved in incredible ways. The purpose of the Home Prayer Groups is to join together to pray for revival for ourselves, our church, our community and nation, and to build fellowship.

3. Do I have to go to the same group every week? NO. While most people will stay with one group, you are free to visit other groups, just contact the host and let them know you are coming.

4. What if I can’t attend every week, should I just skip all of them? NO. Attend when you can. The goal is not perfect attendance, but to pray and build fellowship in our church.

5. What time do the Home Prayer Groups start and how long will they last? The start times are up to the host homes, so be sure to check with the host. Most of them will be evening groups and will probably start anywhere between 5 and 7pm. The length will depend on the Holy Spirit and the group participants. Most will be about an hour or so.

6. Should I sign-up with a host who is in my age group or Bible study class? NO. Part of the purpose of doing the Home Prayer Groups is to build fellowship in the church. We already do a “great job” of dividing the church along generational lines through age-graded Bible study classes and Wednesday groups. Even in the worship services, we tend to sit with people our age. So I would love to see all age generations gathering together to pray together in our home groups. So sign-up with someone that you normally don’t have a connection with, and I’ve encouraged our hosts to invite people who are not in their age brackets, especially to invite some of our newer members. Will it be COMFORTABLE to be with someone of a different generation? Maybe not, but it will be good for you and beneficial to the fellowship of our church.

If you are new to our church and you don’t know any of the host leaders, contact me and I will help get you connected to a group.

7. Are we going to be eating with our Home Prayer Groups? I’m leaving it up to each host and group to decide. But if you do eat together, I would encourage just light refreshments rather than a full meal. Don’t let the food distract from the real purpose of meeting together – to pray.

You may have more questions, and if you do, please email me or call me and I will do my best to answer them.

Blessings,
George

Posted by & filed under Children, Church, Family, Prayer, Students, Youth.

It’s that time of year again!

Summer vacation is over and it’s time for school to start. Every year at Magna View we set aside some time in a Sunday service to pray specifically for students, teachers and school administrators. We’ll be doing it in the service this coming Sunday. Also every year our Kidsview Ministry sponsors a “Praying for Our Students” campaign. We’ll have forms in the bulletin this coming Sunday – if you have a school-age (including college) child or grandchild, fill out the form, bring them to the altar when we pray during the service, and after we have prayed over their names, we will collect them and then hand them out to members of our family to pray for our students all through the school year.

Let me also share with you some helpful tips to praying for our children:

Seven Ways to Pray for Our Children

Lord, I pray that they would know Christ personally and intimately

“…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, …to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Lord, I pray that they will not be anxious about anything

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Lord, I pray that they will know that You are with them

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6


Lord, I pray they will grow in the grace and knowledge of You

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen

2 Peter 3:18

Lord, I pray that you would give them a spirit of power, love, and sound mind

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Lord, I pray that your light will shine through them

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16


Lord, I pray that they would be filled with Your Holy Spirit and be your witness to the people they encounter everyday.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

 

Thank you for praying for our kids – your prayers make a difference!

Posted by & filed under Church, Relationships, Same Sex Marriage.

Dear Church,

Many news reports and articles have been written about the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage at the federal level, which in effect strikes down any states’ ban on gay marriage, making it the “law of the land.” Here are the links to a few very well written articles and statements from leaders of the Christian community in America, I hope you will take a few minutes to read them:

Dr. Russell Moore – Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage

Ed Stetzer – Same-Sex Marriage Is Now the Law of the (U.S.) Land: What Now for Christians?

NewSpring Church – What Would Jesus Say to the Gay Community?

The Gospel Coalition – What Your Church Needs to Know and Do About the Court’s Marriage Ruling

The articles above reflect most of my thoughts as a follower of Christ and as a pastor, but in way of summary let me say a few other things.

1. The SCOTUS ruling didn’t come as a surprise, our country has been moving in this direction for several years and it has been picking up steam in the last 3-4 years. We shouldn’t be surprised when the world acts like “the world.” We are living in a time when sin is celebrated and godliness is ridiculed and condemned, but that is nothing new for our world. The church was birthed in a hostile, immoral, unethical world and we have always been called to shine as lights in the darkness.

2. I will continue to preach God’s word concerning the sanctity of biblical marriage (one man and one woman) and the sinfulness of homosexuality (as well as other sinful behaviors). Government rulings do not and cannot change to eternal word of God.

3. I will not perform wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples, and we will not allow homosexual weddings at Magna View. Some fear that the time will come when a minister who refuses to perform a same-sex wedding or a church that refuses to allow same-sex couples to wed on their properties, will face legal repercussions such as fines, confiscation of property and even imprisonment. However, the mandate of the church has always been to obey God rather than men. The initial statements from SCOTUS seem to promise that those who object to same sex marriage will still have the right to speak against it, and refuse to perform such weddings, but government promises are apt to change. We will face those challenges when they come.

4. We will also incorporate appropriate statements in our governing documents that will help provide clear understanding of our position on marriage and the use of our facilities.

5. Finally, and most importantly, we will still love God, love others, and reach the world, including those who differ from us on this issue. The mandates of the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) have not changed, and our mission has not changed. Christ lived and died for all sinners and He desires that no one would perish, but that all would repent and receive forgiveness and eternal life. He has chosen us, the Church, to be the agents of reconciliation in this world. Now more than ever, we must BE the Church of the living God and proclaim the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Blessings,

George

Posted by & filed under Church, Community, Family, Unity.

cultivating-christian-unityIn my recent studies of Philippians one thing has rang loud and clear from the letter of Paul to the church in the Roman colony of Philippi – unity is essential to a healthy community of faith.

Paul had a deep affection for the church at Philippi, which the Lord established through Paul and Silas as they journeyed through Macedonia sharing the gospel (see Acts 16 for the start of the church). Though Paul was only with them in person for a little while, their relationship continued to grow as the church supported Paul in his missionary work.

When Paul is writing to the congregation at Philippi, he is in prison, probably in Rome, but he had kept up with the affairs of the church as they had also kept up with Paul and his ministry. They church had often sent material support to Paul, even when other churches had not.

In many ways the Philippian congregation was an ideal church, but it was not perfect and disagreement among some of the members had begun to affect the community. Paul addresses the situation specifically in 4:1-7, but he builds up to it in chapters 1-3. The pinnacle passage occurs in chapter 2:

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippains 2:1-4 (NKJV)

Paul begins this section with a rhetorical question: “If, in Christ, there is any…” and then he lists the things he knows they would know are true:

“…consolation” (are you encouraged by Christ?)

“…comfort of love” (is their security in the love of Christ?)

“…fellowship of the Spirit” (are you walking in the Spirit of Christ?)

“…any affection and mercy” (are you experiencing love and grace in Christ?)

The answer, of course, to all of those questions is a resounding “yes”! Everything we need is in Christ and we receive all through our relationship with Him, both individually and corporately as the body of Christ.

So because those things are true in Christ, Paul writes, “fulfill my joy by…” (another list)

“…being like-minded” (literally, “thinking like him or Him {Christ}”)

“…having the same love” (loving each other the same)

“…being of one accord” (walking in the same Spirit)

“…of one mind” (single-minded, thinking the same way)

Then he steps up the rhetoric – (paraphrase) “Don’t do anything for yourself, that serves your purpose or makes you look better than others. Instead, think about the other person first, put yourself in other peoples shoes and address their needs before you take care of your own.”

Paul’s words run roughly against the grain of culture which says, “I’m going to take care of me and my own first. I’m going to look out for #1 regardless of how it affects other parts of the community.” We would expect that kind of attitude from the lost culture, but it shouldn’t be in the Church.

Jesus was big on unity in the community. He spent a big part of His prayer time in John 17 praying that His followers would be “ONE”. He gave a good bit of His teaching ministry to the importance of unity and what to do to maintain unity. In Matthew 5 He taught that if you came to worship but had an issue with someone else, you should go reconcile with the other person and then come back and offer your worship to the Lord (your relationship with others affects your relationship with God). In Matthew 18 He taught that if you have an issue with someone else in the church, you should go talk to that person to resolve the issue first. If you work it out, great you’ve gained a better relationship; if not, then there are further steps to take, but the first step is to always go to the person first. When we fail to communicate our issue first to the person (or persons) we have the issue with, it tends to become a bigger issue and causes division in the church. A divided body is dysfunctional and unhealthy and it’s the responsibility of all the members to maintain the unity in the community.

Of course Paul then drives the point home in the next few verses (5-11) talking about how we should have the “mind of Christ” who always put others before Himself, and modeled for us what it looked like to be humble and obedient to the Father. Jesus set the standard very high for our behavior toward one another because He knew how important it was for there to be unity in His body. Unity in the community is essential for the health of the church, and it is up to all of us to work together to keep it.

Let’s let the prayer of Jesus for the church be our prayer as well: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:20-21 (NKJV)

Posted by & filed under Church, Commitment, Lord's Supper, Relationships.

 

Lord's Supper

 

                   Preparing for Sunday                   
Hey Church,
As we are celebrating the Lord’s Supper this Sunday, the Lord has put a couple of thoughts on my mind to share with you.In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul writes:
So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 11:27-31 (NLT)

The Bible is pretty clear that we’re not to partake of the Lord’s Supper lightly; we are to prepare ourselves through examining ourselves. The context of the passage is that Paul was writing to a divided church; they had divided over leadership personalities, socio-economic conditions, and sinful situations in the church. The division and sin were corrupting their relationship to God and their celebration of the sacred meal. Paul’s instruction was for them to examine themselves so they would not be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.

Unity is paramount in the body of Christ (see Philippians 2). Division causes dysfunction and is unhealthy in the body. Division occurs when we harbor bitterness, ill-feelings, and resentment toward others in the body of Christ. So the starting point is to examine our relationships, first with God and then with others. We can’t be right with God and not be right with others.

A few things we can do to prepare for the Lord’s Supper:

1. Spotlight – ask God to search our heart to reveal any sin, bitterness, animosity, or ill will we may have toward Him or toward others. (Psalm 139:23-24)

2. Dig-Up – ask God to forgive our sin and remove the root of bitterness, or ill-feelings we have (Hebrews 12:14-15)

3. Restore – ask God to help us restore any broken relationships and heal any hurts we have with others. (Matthew 5:23-24, Romans 12:18)

4. Finally, don’t let the enemy convince you that this isn’t important. Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is something Jesus commanded us to do, and we partake of it as an act of obedience to Him. Don’t treat it lightly, ritualistically, or do it without spiritual preparation.

See you Sunday.