Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cold Rainy Night

What is there to do on a Monday night when it is cold and rainy? How about take gifts to people who have recently visited our church and share with them the love of Christ? That is exactly what several people did last night and guess what...

When I got home last night, I had an email from Amanda S., Jackie C., and Linda S....

They met a lady and her teenage daughter who had recently visited our church...

And they gave her a gift...

And they shared the gospel...

And they watched both of them make professions of faith in Jesus Christ!

How's that for a cold, dreary, rainy night?

Pastor Noel

Monday, November 26, 2007

Presidential Candidates

Over the next few months, I want to highlight the 'abortion views' of each of the leading candidates for president from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

I thought Mike Huckabee would be a good one to start with.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What's Going On?

Misc Stuff...

I drove to South Carolina for Thanksgiving. It was a long drive both ways but I got a lot done: I got the church budget proposal finalized on my laptop. (Donna drove while I was doing that.) And I listened to two audio books. The first was Crucial Conversations written by a bunch of people. Someone had given me this book a year ago and I had read part of it, but never finished it. Finally I got through it via the audio. It was pretty good. I also listened to the Confessions of St. Augustine. I think that book would be easier to follow on paper.

I also mapped out my Christmas messages in my head while driving through the mountains of West Virginia. I am going to do something that might get me in a little trouble, but I believe this will be good for our church and interesting to our community. I am going to title the series something like: Father Abraham, Prophet Mohamad, or Christ Jesus – Who Can Lead Us To God? I know that sounds like a long title and not very Christmassy. Maybe I can shorten it as I work on it this week. The Christmas tie in will come through as we get into the series. The first week we will focus on why Judaism is not the way to God. We will look at the Old Testament prophecies foretelling the coming of the Messiah, and how Jesus has to be the fulfillment of those prophecies. While we do this we will learn about the reliability of Scriptures and how that can impact our lives. The second week we will focus on Mohamad. What is Islam? What does the Bible say about Islam, Mohamad, and what led to the modern day division between Christianity and Islam? While we do this we will learn why violating God’s purpose and plan for our lives is so dangerous. The third week we will focus on Christianity and how the virgin birth of Christ makes possible the salvation of the world. This series will require a lot of studying, but I’m looking forward to it. It should give us a new twist on the standard Christmas messages.

Our newly designed web page is almost ready to be unveiled. Maybe by the end of the week...

All plans for our Kenya mission trip are falling into place. I met with a missions coordinator for work in the area last week. It is exciting to hear about some of the stuff that goes on in secret to spread the gospel. I am looking forward to the trip.

My football team, Auburn, beat their in state rival, Alabama, for the sixth time in a row yesterday!


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

God's Way May Be Best After All

If we can do something in church that draws a crowd, then it must be a good thing to do, right? Forget Bible study, Bible preaching, digging into the Word. Our goal should be to grow a crowd, right? If we can just get a lot of people in a building once or twice a week, the changed lives stuff will just take care of itself, right?

Bob Burney, host of a radio show on WFRD in Columbus recently wrote an eye opening article for Baptist Press. Every church leader should read this article. Here is an excerpt...

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study's findings are in a new book titled "Reveal: Where Are You?," co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings "ground breaking," "earth shaking" and "mind blowing." And no wonder: It seems that the "experts" were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

"Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn't helping people that much. Other things that we didn't put that much money into and didn't put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for."

If you simply want a crowd, the "seeker-sensitive" model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it's a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:

"We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become 'self feeders.' We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

You can read the full article here.

May our church always seek to grow and reach more people, but let our purpose be to connect those people to a meaningful, life-changing, and enduring relationship with God, and may we do that by preaching His Word and showing the love of Christ.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Anatomy of A Changed Life

About nine o'clock last night I got a call at home from Greg Strausz. He and his wife, Lisa, had just gotten home from making a visit through our Connections Ministry. They had very good news! They had gotten to speak to a child that had made a decision for Christ at an event we had here at the church last Saturday night. And then they turned to the proud, teary eyed mom and talked with her about her relationship with Christ. After sharing the gospel with her, they asked if she would like to make this life changing decision. She said yes, and they helped her express her heart to the Lord.

I could tell from the phone call that Greg and Lisa were very excited that the Lord had used them in this way. I knew from experience the joy that must have been felt last night in the home they had visited. I look forward to seeing the eternally changed lives that will come out of what happened last night.

Later last night as I was telling Donna what happened, I thought about the 'process' that led to this family turning to Christ. I don't know all of the details, but let me share some of what I do know:

  • --- Saturday, September 9, 2006 --- We hosted an appreciation lunch for first responders in the area. As a part of our five year remembrance of the attack of Islam on America (9/11), we invited police, fire squads, and rescue workers to join us for this special event. Many people from the church visited police and fire departments inviting men and women to attend, cooked barbecue all night long, set-up tables, decorated, prepared programs, and so forth. As it turns out this family that the Strausz's visited last night attended the event. In fact, Donna and I sat at their table, and I remember getting to meet them. I think this was the very first time they had attended anything at our church.

  • --- Wednesday, October 31, 2007 --- Over a year later, we were hosting another event for the community, Kid's Fest. Again the church had worked very hard to prepare as nice an event for our community as possible. Many people sacrificed time and money to make the event happen. Some volunteers had been at the church literally all day setting up the family life center. That night I was walking around meeting new people and I spoke to this same lady. She reminded me that we had met at the 9/11 lunch. She expressed how impressed she was with the people of our church and what we did for the community. That same night somebody else invited her to the illusionist show we had Saturday.

  • --- Saturday, November 3, 2007 --- Three days after the Kid's Fest, we had internationally acclaimed illusionist B. J. Harris come do a couple of free shows for the community. Again, a lot of work went into this. Volunteers called over two thousand people who were involved in our Upward Basketball program last year and invited them to the event, other volunteers worked with set-up, counseling, clean-up, etc. This lady and her son were present at the event. Her son made a profession of faith and indicated that on a decision card.

  • --- Monday, November 5, 2007 --- Two days later, after a long Monday at work, a number of people gathered to receive some training on how to better share their faith. Afterwards we gave out some information on people who had recently visited an event or service here at church. Greg and Lisa were faithful to get the training. They were faithful to go. They were faithful to share. And a family was changed for all eternity!

So how did this happen? The Church!

Dozens of people were faithful to serve Christ through a number of events for over year, and through all of that, look what happened. Was it worth it? Yes, even if this were the only family changed, which they are not and will not be, it would definitely be worth it.

So to everyone around here who does so much, thank you!

Pastor Noel