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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

The wind is blowing so hard it's making the house sway... the temperature is falling... so is the snow... Last week's nice weather spoiled me. I guess winter is not quite over yet.

Nothing profound to say this morning (or most mornings). I will let yesterday's blog post stand for my New Year's Eve post.

But if you are looking for a good "New Year's Resolution Verse" take a look at this one from my devotion time this morning...

...The believers were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. --Acts 9:31b NLT

If we all walked in the fear of the Lord and consequently in the comfort of the Holy Spirit next year, it would truly be a God honoring year!

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

One More Year

Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.' -- Luke 13:7-9

Last May I did something I've always planned to do but never got around to. I sat down and put my whole life on paper. I wrote down where I honestly thought I was in every important area of life. Some of that was encouraging, some was not.

Then with a lot of prayer and a few tears, I wrote down the plan to get from there to where I believed God would have me be. I wrote down my lifetime goals for family, ministry, finances, career and health. I then wrote down where I needed to be in each of these areas at the end of 2008. Then I broke it down even further with monthly goals and daily habits.

I have kept this in a folder in a standing file on my desk ever since then. I have looked at it about once a week. I have prayed and asked the Lord to help me accomplish every goal listed.

So how have I done?

Well, there are two ways to answer that question. Have I reached every 2008 goal? No. Am I a great deal further along in the pursuit of every goal than I would have been had I not written this all down? Definitely yes!

Looking back, I now see errors I made in some goals: some were not specific enough, some were too specific (although interestingly enough, I wrote down a specific target weight for 12/31/2008 and unless I fall off the wagon and eat a cow in the next couple of days I will beat it by seven pounds).

Overall it has been a great motivator. It has helped me live more of a God-honoring life the last half of 2008. Hopefully I have been a better Christ-follower, husband, dad, and pastor because of this.

So what now?

I am going to do it all again today. It will be a little easier this time and hopefully it will have an even bigger impact. I will do this with prayer (see my blog post from 12/27 to see why this is so important). I will take as much time as is needed. If you can do this in an hour, then either your life is very organized and focused or you didn't dissect things enough.

I spent some time this morning figuring out the format I will use. I am going to answer the lifetime goals question first (and really this will not have changed since last May). Then I am going to spend a lot of time answering eleven questions I've come up with. I expect I will have a page of possible actions for each question. Then I will be able to write down goals for 2009 and the steps and habits needed to accomplish them.

I challenge you to do this in the next few days. It really doesn't matter how young or old you are. If God gives any of us another year to live, then we should live it wisely.

Pastor Noel

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Here is my format for this exercise this week...

My Lifetime Goals

If God Allows Me to Live through 2009…
· How can I be more of a blessing to my wife?
· How can I be a better father?
· How can I be more effective in my preaching ministry?
· How can I manage my money wiser?
· How can I improve my fitness routine?
· How can I have a closer walk with the Lord?
· How can I be closer to the people I pastor?
· How can I excel in my writing ministry?
· How can I be more strategic in my pastoral leadership?
· How can I foster more real friendships?
· How can I stay organized, focused, efficient, and productive through the year?

My 2009 Goals

My First Quarter of 2009 Goals

Daily Habits needed to reach Goals

Weekly Habits needed to reach Goals


Monday, December 29, 2008

Question of the Day

I bought a new book a few days ago to help teach my kids critical thinking skills. We read a few questions from the book when we got back to the car from the store. See how well you do on one of them. (Hannah, my nine year old, beat me to the answer on this one. It only took her about two minutes to figure out a very simple solution.)

Imagine you are in a room with three light switches. Each of these light switches is connected to a lamp in another room. You cannot see, in any way from one room to the other. So three switches in one room, and three lamps in the other room. Your job is to figure out which switch controls which lamp. You start off in the room with the switches. You may stay there as long as you would like trying to figure out your plan. Then you go to the room with the lamps and you have to identify which lamp is controlled by which switch in thirty seconds without leaving the room.

OK. Put on your thinking caps. Don't let a nine-year-old beat you...

On to more important things...

We had two very good services yesterday. I appreciate the way pastor Wally led the morning service and pastor Shawn led the evening praise service. It is good to have people like them I can depend upon.

This week is a 'get organized' week for the new year. Carla, Linda, and Sharron (all three office workers) are on vacation this week. How did that happen? It will be an interesting week :).

We have two people from our church in critical condition in area hospitals. Pray that I will have the right words to minister to and encourage these families.

Let me show you something from my devotion time this morning...

I was reading in Acts 6 about steps the Apostles were taking to stay focused on their core ministries of prayer and the Word. Acts 6:7 describes how the ministry of the church expanded when the Apostles were able to focus on the right things. But what is very interesting is how 'the expansion of the ministry' is described here...

Acts 6:7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Notice that instead of saying the ministry expanded, the writer of Acts says, "the word of God spread."

With the aid of a chart in the study Bible I was using this morning I found three other verses in Acts that use similar phrases...

Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Acts 13:49 And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region.

Acts 19:20 So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

So what does it mean that the word of God grew? Did it get bigger? Longer? No. The impact of the word increased in lives and churches and communities!

In the book of Acts, real ministry expansion is seen in terms of the word of God going forth and making changes in people's lives. One of my prayers for our church in 2009 is that the effectiveness of our ministries would be measured by the same standard. As we count things to determine our progress, let us focus on the real question of the day from the book of Acts, "Has the WORD increased?"

Pastor Noel

Sunday, December 28, 2008

His Sovereignty / Our Responsibility

I was reading today in Acts 2 & 3 and came across two reminders of one of those truths that is difficult to understand and even more difficult to admit...

First see if you can see it in a part of Peter's sermon at Pentecost...

Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

Do you see it there? It is easier to see in Peter's next sermon on Solomon's Portico...

Acts 3:14-15, 18-19 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses... But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

The Scripture teaches us that the death of Christ was 100% the plan of God from the beginning. It was His idea and took place perfectly according to events that He orchestrated. The Scripture also tells us that the Jewish religious leaders of Jesus' day were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, that they were wrong in their actions, and they needed to repent!

At first glance those two things don't seem to go together. Was the crucifixion the plan of God or the result of the sin of the religious leaders? Well... both!

What do we learn from this? God is sovereign! I am responsible for my actions!

Any attitude, action, or belief we have that denies either of those truths is wrong.

I pray, Lord, that I will always be reminded of your sovereignty and always mindful of my responsibility. That I will pray to You because you are in control, and I will serve and sacrifice because I am responsible.

Pastor Noel

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hurry up and Wait

Good morning. I hope you had a Merry Christmas.

I've got to share what the Lord showed me in my quiet time this morning. As you know in our Soma Kristou worship services, we just wrapped up a several week series on the Holy Spirit. (I think we spent five weeks.) Of course I knew we didn't cover every Bible teaching on the subject or study the Spirit from every angle, but I thought we were pretty thorough. Then this morning, reading through Acts I stumbled across a very important Holy Spirit truth that we could have spent a whole other week on.

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." ... 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 1:4-5, 8)

Does anything odd strike you about those verses? I have read those verses countless times, but it just occurred to me this morning that there is something very puzzling about the events described there. Do you see it?

The Wait! Why the Wait?

The disciples were anxious to receive the Holy Spirit... The Father was able to send the Spirit immediately... The Spirit was certainly prepared to come... The Spirit was desperately needed... So why wait?

Obviously, the Father was trying to teach the disciples and us something with this waiting period. Praying through what those lessons were to them and what they are to me took up the rest of my devotion time this morning.

So what were the lessons? I will leave the question mostly open in case you decide to spend some time thinking and praying through this for yourself, but here are a couple things that came to my mind...

I need to be reminded of the importance of not proceeding with a new project or a new decision without first praying for and secondly waiting for the power, wisdom, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. I don't need to just plunge in (which I am prone to do) with the attitude that God will catch up with me later. I need to be more dependent on and more aware of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in everything I do.

I also need to be reminded that God has a right time for things to happen. I don't need to always understand why (just like I don't completely understand why the delay in sending the Holy Spirit in the Acts 1-2 story), I just need to be sensetive to it. Perhaps God is preparing the hearts of other people, perhaps God is preparing my own heart, perhaps there are circumstances that are about to change... God's timing is perfect. I should be more sensitive to when He wants me to push forward and when He wants me to hold up.

What other lessons can we learn from the wait?
  • We are reminded that God is in control, not us.
  • We can look at what the followers of Christ did as they waited and learn the importance of corporate prayer, and church unity.
  • To dig a little deeper we can learn the importance of the anticipation of the things of God...
  • Many more...

Pastor Noel

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas is Here!

We had a great Christmas Celebration last night with our choir and drama team sharing their annual program.

It was so good to see so many new faces from our community join us for the time of worship. The gym was packed and we had to pull out a number of extra chairs to accommodate the crowd. I had the opportunity to meet a ton of new people and everyone had great things to say about the night.

Thanks for everyone who worked so hard to make last night what it was... from Pastor Shawn, to the singers, the drama team, the youth who set up the facility, to the fellowship team that prepared for the after-service fellowship... Great job!

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Truth in Advertising

I don't mean this to necessarily be an advertisement, but I think it is good to brag on people and companies when they do what they say they are going to do.

About a month or so ago, I went to S&K Menswear to purchase a couple of suits. When I was checking out the clerk asked me if I attended church... I said, "Occasionally." He suggested I fill out a "S&K Gives Back Card" and said the company would send my church 5% of the total price of my purchase. I didn't really want to bother filling out the card because I didn't believe for a minute they were telling the truth. I've seen promotions like this dozens of times through the years. I remember several years ago a telephone company was going to send 10% of everyone's phone bill to the church of their choice. In all of my years in the ministry, no church I have ever served in has ever received a check from one of these companies. And that is fine with me. We don't need corporate America supporting our church, but it has irked me to see these companies using deceit and lies to get church people to shop at their establishments.

Well guess what...

Yesterday, my assistant brought some mail in my office and asked, "What is this?" I looked at it... it was a check to the church for $14.20 from S&K Menswear.

We can learn two things from this...

First, the pastor buys really cheap suits.

Secondly, some companies out there really are telling the truth in their advertisements!

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Sunday

Are you ready for thanksgiving?

This Sunday morning we have a special Thanksgiving service planned. I am looking forward to what we will be sharing with you... some very practical tools for life...

Pastor Shawn has written, or really re-written, a song that we will worship with Sunday. It is going to be a good day.

Travel safely during the holidays!

Pastor Noel

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is Adoption Missional?

Below is an article written by a friend of mine, Johnny Carr, and published on another blog. I think you will enjoy this post. We are trying to work out a time that Johnny can come speak to our church in January. Johnny and wife Beth in addition to their two children, have adopted two hearing impaired children from China and are now in the process of adopting a third child from here in America. Johnny speaks at some of the largest churches in America as he shares his story of what God has done through adoption in his family and the families of those he works with.

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Johnny Carr, National Director of Church Partnerships for Bethany Christian Services, explores the intentionality and service of adoption. Johnny adopted his first son, James, a deaf child from China, in 2005.

I guess the first thing is to define missional. "Missional" is one of those junk drawer buzzwords that has become common in our Christian vocabulary with several definitions floating around. Wikipedia says that "missional" is a missionary-term that describes a missionary lifestyle, and I guess that is as good a definition as any. To live "missionally" is to express the Gospel holistically in the way you live - every day and in every thing. It is a way of life, not a program. It means living like Jesus lived. If you know much about Jesus you know that includes helping to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of others. Living missionally means making a conscious decision to live each day with others in mind, rather than yourself.

In other words, YES - adoption is missional.

Recently, I was speaking with a lady who had asked her church for financial help for their adoption. The church leader responded that the church did not help with "optional" things like adoption. The pastor's perspective seemingly saw adoption more like consumption than ministry. He saw adoption as a want - much like I want an iPhone. He was not viewing adoption from the perspective of the child.

When I meet with Pastors to discuss adoption ministries, I will often ask them, "Who does adoption help?" The typical response is "infertile couples." That is when I lovingly explain that adoption primarily helps children. Whether the child is an orphan from war, genocide or disease in Africa; whether the child is an orphan due to abuse and neglect and the state has severed the rights of his/her birth parents, or whether it is a new born baby that was born due to an unplanned pregnancy - adoption is (or, at least, should be) always about the health and best interest of the child. Unfortunately, many Christians are focusing on adults (us) rather than the child (them).

When adoption is seen through a child's eyes, it is easy to see the missional nature of adoption. In fact, this may be the ultimate missional decision because adoption is a lifetime commitment. Many people today are adopting children with special needs. Some of these children will never grow up to be independent. The people who are adopting these little ones know that they are making a decision today that will affect the rest of their lives. Instead of raising a couple of healthy kids, sending them off to college, and then sailing off in their motor home into retirement, they will be serving the least of these until one of them "retires" into eternity. That is truly missional.

Someone once said missional living was "religion without all the junk added," I thought that was interesting in light of James 1:27, "Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (NIV)

There are many different perspectives on the best ways to care for orphans, but with 143,000,000 orphans in the world today, something must be done by followers of Jesus Christ. Only 1-2% of these children will be adopted. We need many strategies that will best fit the cultures, values, and environments of the places where these orphans live, and adoption is a one great strategy.

Adoption is not the one-stop cure all for the orphan crisis, but it is a strategic and effective mode to care for the orphans of the world. It's also a commitment of sacrifice, a holistic manifestation of the Gospel, a missional posture and a service to Christ.

Bethany is an international team of nearly 900 people actively involved in ministering to the needs of children, young people, and families. With over 75 offices nationwide and international ministries in 13 other countries, Bethany touches the lives of more than 30,000 people each year. Bethany is supported through fees and gifts received from individuals, churches, corporations, and foundations. Bethany is known by many as an adoption agency, but our family-focused ministries also reach people struggling with unplanned pregnancies, infertility, and a multitude of other human hurts.

This blog originally appeared at http://www.qideas.org/blog/

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Update for the Week

Things have been pretty busy at church this week... as usual.

Good news on this week's New Member class... Carla just let me know seven people have made reservations thus far. It is great to see God adding new people to our church almost every week.

We've had four people make professions of faith in the last two morning worship services!

When I put out my preaching schedule a couple months ago for the Heart2Heart series, I said I would be preaching from Exodus 35 this week. I will still be teaching from that passage, but my focus will be on Joshua 6. If you are reading ahead for Sunday, that would be the best place to study.

In the evening Soma-Kristou worship, we will continue our series on the Holy Spirit.

Each Sunday night we take about 5-10 minutes to answer a general question from the Bible. In recent weeks we have answered questions such as...

  • What does the Bible say about Suicide?
  • Where in the Bible is the Pope?
  • How old is the Earth? How can that be reconciled with Science?

If you have any suggestions for future questions (and you are an Ohio reader), you can drop them in the submission box at the greeter desk in the main foyer.

Pastor Noel

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Hilarious History of Newark

A lighter note this morning...

There was an interesting article in today's Newark Advocate that detailed some of the inventions that came from our humble town...

The Invention of Fiberglass
The Invention of the Roller Coaster
The Invention of Remington Rolling Block Rifle
The Invention of the Coca Cola Bottle (the shape)
The Invention of the Combined Hair Curler and Crimper (I use one of those)

But the most hilarious part of the article is about the invention by one Dr. James Henry Salisbury...

JAMES HENRY SALISBURY (1823-1905)

A physician by trade, Salisbury is best known for his invention of chopped beefsteak covered in gravy.

He served as a physician during the Civil War and became convinced that diarrhea suffered by the troops could be controlled with a diet of coffee and lean chopped beefsteak.


Eventually he came to believe most diseases were a result of an unhealthy diet and spent the rest of his life developing this meat patty which came to be known as Salisbury steak.

Salisbury also had a geology background and helped map the earthworks in Newark. He lived in Licking County for several years, between 1860 and 1862, said Ohio Historical Society archeologist Brad Lepper.

Why couldn't I have lived in the time when steak and gravy was considered health food? You can read the full article here.

Pastor Noel

Saturday, November 15, 2008

GIC & Worship

I just got back from the St. Louis, MO area where I had the great privilege of speaking at the kick-off service of a Global Impact Celebration. We had a good night.

When I went down for breakfast in my hotel this morning, I ran into author, speaker, missions leader, Walker Moore. Some of you may remember him speaking in our church a year or so ago. It was good to visit with him.

I am looking forward to Worship tomorrow. We will be focusing on Daniel 3, if you are one of my Ohio readers and want to get ahead.

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New E-Sword!

I use a free Bible study program called E-Sword several hours each week. I love the program. It really helps me jump around looking up cross-references, do concordance searches, and it is the quickest way to find Greek and Hebrew definitions.

One aggravating thing about the program though has been that on the "Bible Browser Bar" if you expanded a book to be able to reference its chapters, then you would have to collapse it to be able to click on some of the other Bible books.

Good news! Rick Meyers just came out with a new version a couple days ago. It fixes this problem and makes E-Sword the perfect program.

You can download the program at e-sword.net.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Surprise Meeting

The day at the church ended like most Mondays with several meetings... some in person... some on the phone. For the most part it was the usual fair.

But I had one surprise meeting!

A couple from our church (I'll leave their names out so they can make a formal announcement when the time is right) dropped in to say that they are seriously thinking the Lord may be calling them to full-time overseas missions! If the Lord confirms this in their lives, this will be the second family this year. That makes my day!

As a pastor, I talk with a lot of people every week who are struggling to trust the Lord with everyday things like jobs, money, relationships, etc. What a gust of encouragement it is to sit down with a couple who is taking such giant steps of trust and faithfulness.

This was a perfect week for this. I am preparing this week to go and speak at a church on Friday about the importance of missions and how becoming Acts 1:8 focused has changed my life and this church. Now I've got another great story to share!

Pastor Noel

Monday, November 10, 2008

How To Pray For The President

Randy Alcorn, one of my favorite authors wrote a great article on praying for the new President. Read it here.

Pastor Noel

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Feeling Better

O.K. I'm feeling better now.

The election didn't go the way I hoped and prayed, but it is over. I will pray often these next four years for President Obama, his wisdom, courage, leadership and humility. At the risk of sounding too trite, Romans 8:28 does promise us that all things will work together for God's good purpose. I will trust in that.

It has been a difficult week, half because of my disappointment with the election and half because of something that was brought to my attention on Tuesday (more on that this Sunday night). But I feel better by the hour.

Well, what is going on?

Last night was 'Party with the Pastor' night at AWANA. The kids are great!

Today is my study day. I love study days! I am shut up in my home office for a day of reading, praying, studying, and preparing for upcoming messages.

I am working on three messages today...

The first message is part II in our Heart2Heart series. The main focus Scripture passage is Malachi 3. The second message is for our Soma-Kristou worship this Sunday evening. I'm taking a week off from the "Calculus of Salvation" in Romans. I'll keep my title and Scripture passage under wraps for that message until then. My FBC Heath readers will see why on Sunday, but I can say I will be preaching from Joshua and Acts. The third is a message for a missions conference I will be kicking off in Illinois next Friday. Projection slides and outlines for that one need to be turned in by Monday. I have been thinking about preaching a 'missions' message from Romans 1:8-15 for a year now. I will see today if that passage will work out as well as I hope.

By the way, a friend of mine in Alabama had an adoption fall through last night because of some unusual complications. It is a tough day for that family. If you know someone going through the adoption process, pray for them.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Can't Sleep

It is about 4:40 a.m. The alarm clock doesn't go off for another 50 minutes, but I can't sleep. All I can do is think about today's presidential election. I know by now most people have heard all they want to hear about the election. But I'm not really writing this for my readers. This is as much personal therapy as anything. (And I'm afraid by the end of the day I am going to need some personal therapy.)

I am very concerned that our country is going to make a tragic decision today and I am afraid many believers will be complicit in that decision.

Personally, I am not a fan of either candidate. Personally, I have not been pleased with the way they have conducted their campaigns. Personally, I believe both candidates have promised some things that they have no intentions to follow through with. Personally, I believe neither candidate has a complete grasp of the real problems that America faces.

I have some strong views about subjects such as immigration, taxes, national security and so on. And while one candidate is much closer to my views than the other, neither man espouses my convictions or instills my confidence in these areas.

So what am I going to do, and why am I so concerned?

There are about four issues and reasons driving my actions and concerns, but I will point out just one...

I have two precious daughters. I love them with every fiber of my being. The quickest way you could start a fight with me is to try to hurt one of my little girls. I am a fairly calm, quiet person, but there are few things I wouldn't do to protect my girls. I have never been in a physical altercation in my adult life, but I would not hesitate to stand and physically defend either of my girls against any kind of physical attack that might occur. And I am no different from 99% of the dads in the world.

I feel very strongly about protecting my children, but I feel pretty much the same about protecting your children. I feel pretty strongly about protecting all children. I cannot imagine being in a public place and watching someone beat and injure a child without doing everything within my power to stop them. Again, I am no different from 99% of the people in the world.

So what does that have to do with the election?

I will cast a vote today for John McCain because I feel like in doing so, I'm doing all I can in this election to protect children. I may not agree with all of his viewpoints... I may not support all his policies... I may not have 100% confidence in his judgement on all matters... but, he has publicly stated that he will do all he can to protect the unborn, and he has a pretty good track record of doing so.

Barack Obama, who I imagine is a nice man who loves our country, has clearly stated the he supports free access to abortion and would like to see that access expanded. And he has expressed this view fairly consistently through the years. I cannot support a man who will not even try to protect the lives of the millions of aborted children every year.

Some will say, "Noel, there is a big difference between protecting your daughters or a neighbor child walking down the street and trying to protect unborn babies."

I would say, "I don't see any difference at all!"

Some will say, "Noel, John McCain may not follow through on his promises to put in place conservative judges on the Supreme Court."

I would say, "He may not. And if he doesn't, I will be very angry. But I've got to make the best choice I can make today. When a child is being injured, that is no time to make an ideological stand, that is no time to shrug our shoulders because there is no perfect solution. No! That is the time to choose the best option we have available to protect the child."

Some will say, "The whole political system is corrupt. It has failed. There is no point in voting."

I would say, "That is a cop-out. If it has failed, it is because people haven't stood on their convictions and voted. How does refusing to take this seriously and voting for one of the two candidates fix the 'corrupt system'?"

I believe too many believers are taking this election too lightly. I think that is a tragedy.

Will the election of John McCain solve all of our nations problems? No.
Will the election of John McCain usher revival to America? No.
Will the election of John McCain return our country to her Christian roots? No.
But will the election of John McCain over Barack Obama save the lives of at least a few unborn babies here and around the world? Yes! Even the most skeptical person would have to admit it would.

So if you are going to play around with your vote, if you are going to vote for some mystical concept of change, if you would rather have free insurance than protect the lives of the unborn, then please don't tell me, please don't email me... facebook me... or ask me to read your blog. I am just not in the mood for it today.

I don't want to hear about your high and mighty ideals and your lofty musings about never compromising to vote for someone you don't completely agree with. When it comes to protecting children there is no room for those kind of arrogant attitudes. If there were ever a time to 'get in the frey' now is it.

And this is just reason one of four that I can't sleep.

Pastor Noel

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Prayer Breakfast

A couple times each year we have an early Sunday morning prayer breakfast at church. Today was one of those times... but today was different than most.

Today the focus was not on huddling together to pray or encouraging each other to continue to pray, as good and important as those two things are. Today the focus was on praising God for answered prayer.

We had a little over fifty of our church leaders and prayer warriors come together to hear from some of those we have been praying for over the course of years. One lady who has been on our prayer list for at least two years who lives in northern Pennsylvania and is fighting cancer, spoke to the group. She and her husband drove three and a half hours to come share with us how much the prayers have meant to her. She brought a handful of letters she had received from those on our intercessory prayer team, and said that represented only a fraction of the letters our church people had sent. She praised God for how He had helped her through this struggle and thanked the church for their commitment to pray for someone they didn't even know.

Others shared similar stories.

I wasn't able to attend the whole breakfast and share time, but for time I was present it sure was encouraging to hear and be reminded how significant and effect prayer is.

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Heart2Heart & Miscellaneous

This week we will begin a new four week series of messages titled, Heart2Heart. In this series we will take a look at what kind of hearts we really have. Often times we are not the people we imagine ourselves to be. Jeremiah 17:9, says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?"

So we are going hold Scripture up next to our hearts for the next few weeks and see what we can learn about ourselves.

Here is the road map for the series...
· 11/ 2 I have a Caring Heart – Luke 10:25-37
· 11/9 I have a Believing Heart – Malachi 3
· 11/16 I have a Trusting Heart – Daniel 3
· 11/23 I have a Willing Heart – Exodus 35:21

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This Sunday morning, our prayer ministry is hosting a special breakfast. We have a lady from Pittsburgh for whom we have been praying a long time. She wants to share with us how much those prayers have meant to her and her family and what God has done as a result. It will be a special morning. If you haven't RSVP'd by calling the church office, please do so soon.

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Last minute invite... Randy Wagner, Ray & Bernie's son, called and invited our choir to join his choir in singing at the John McCain / Arnold Swarzenagger rally this Friday. Hank Williams Jr. will also be singing. Can't you just imagine Pastor Shawn and Hank singing together. That may be very interesting!

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I just got an email with the estimate from Kenya for the house we want to help the Strausz family build. This will serve as the home for Greg and Lisa as long as they are there and will also serve as the home base for our church's mission work there. Do you want to know how much it is? Are you sitting down? Almost three million dollars... or actually shillings... Kenya shillings... or about thirty-seven thousand US dollars.

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I was talking with a young lady in our church this past Sunday evening. I won't mention her name here on the internet, but many of my Ohio readers will know who I am talking about in another sentence or two. I told her I had used her as an illustration of spiritual growth in a discipleship class I had taught last Saturday morning. She then reminded me that this month, October (I think she said, October 20th) marked the one year anniversary of her profession of faith. She talked about how much her life had changed in one year. She said she had been telling all her friends that October was her birthday month :). So far as I know, she had no church background at all a year ago, and look at her now! Faithful to the Lord... Serving the Lord... In fact, a week or two ago, Donna, my wife, was calling around trying to line up people for our table at the upcoming Heartbeats banquet. Several of the people she called had already been called by this young lady. I think that is GREAT! The grace of God still works pretty well, doesn't it? We should all be that excited about the Lord.

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Donna brought her camera by the church today to take some photo's for me for an upcoming slideshow. We took pictures of all the things the church has been able to do because of the faithfulness of our members in their capital fund giving these last three years. It took an hour to get all of the photos. It was exciting to look back and remember all that has happened. Have you walked through the renovated gym and family life center lately? By the way, can I give a shameless plug for my wife's photography blog? She is really getting pretty good at this photography stuff... MyDearPhotography.blogspot.com.

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I heard from an old friend of mine this week from Montgomery, AL. She and her husband are trying to adopt a child from just over in Pennsylvania. They have faced some real obstacles and complications with this. You can get more details if you have a password to the church's prayer page. Just keep them in your prayers from now through the end of November. Pray that they will have wisdom and receive grace from the Lord.

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Back to the To Do list...


Pastor Noel

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Riven

Last night I finally finished a book I have been reading for a month...

Riven, by Jerry Jenkins

Jenkins is the author who wrote the Left Behind series. I read a little bit of those and did not really enjoy them or agree with some of the theology, so I was doubtful that I would like Riven, but a neighbor recommended it at a time I wanted some light reading. I decided to give it a try. Over 500 pages later (it has been forever since I have read a fiction book that long) I can say it was a fun read. You won't learn anything new in the book; it isn't meant to teach theology or doctrine; it doesn't explore any controversial subjects... it is just a feel good story that shows how the grace and sovereignty of God can change lives.

It is an encouraging book on many levels. It deals with marriage, ministry, parenting, failures, skeptics, prayer, suffering, and so on.

If you are looking for a pleasant and godly distraction for a while... if you are looking for something to replace TV entertainment for a while (which wouldn't hurt any of us), this book would be an excellent diversion.

People often ask me what I am reading (and I often ask other people what they are reading). I read a lot of different kinds of books, some you would think very odd (I read "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" a few months ago... very interesting...) Here is a run down of recent and current books...

I just finished "Pilgrim's Progress" in audio format. I've been listening to that book while bike riding recently. If you haven't read that, you should. I had read it in college, but forgotten most of it.

Last week I re-read, "The Cross of Christ" by John Scott. This is not light reading, but if you really want to understand the why's of Christ dying on the cross, there is no better book. If you think, "Hey, I already know all of that." You are WRONG! Read the book. You will be amazed all over at the grace of God.

Last night after I finished Riven, I started reading a business book someone recommended to me, "What Got You Here Won't Get You There" by Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. I haven't read enough to know if I would recommend this or not.

Pastor Noel

Monday, October 27, 2008

Evening Worship

Thanks for all the new faces that came out our first Soma-Kristou worship service. I felt like we had a great spirit in the service. Good comments about the way we began and the question we focused on... The ending was great. It seemed like there were a hundred people on their knees gathered around the altar, some praying alone, some huddled with friends or family, all pleasing God with their devotion. I think some bowls were filled last night :).

This coming Sunday we will continue to focus on Romans 3-5 and the Calculus of Salvation. If you have a suggestion for our starting question, put your question in the submission box at the greeter station in the main worship foyer sometime between now and Sunday afternoon.

Pastor Noel

P.S. Could it really snow tonight? It is October! I guess I'm still not used to living in Ohio.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Soma Kristou Worship

Here is a description of our new Sunday evening worship format. This begins this Sunday.

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Soma-Kristou Worship
The Body of Christ in Worship
(sō’-mă Krĭs’-to̅o̅)

Each Sunday evening at 6:00, we meet together for a special time of worship with an emphasis on the Body of Christ coming together around the teaching of the Word of God.

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

This is a casual time of worship that includes these elements…

· Pastor Q&A…
We begin with the pastor answering a question or two submitted by the congregation during the past week. These questions can be about current events, theology, or the everyday struggles of life. The pastor will seek to shine the light of God’s Word on these topics.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Psalms 19:7-8

· Body of Christ Singing
Our pastors help focus us on the Lord for a time of genuine, heartfelt worship.

Be exalted, O Lord, in Your own strength! We will sing and praise Your power. Psalms 21:13

· In Depth Bible Study
Sometimes we work through books of the Bible, verse at a time; sometimes we study characters of the Bible in four to six week series; sometimes we tackle what the Bible says about a particular subject over a period of three to four weeks.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

· Body of Christ Prayer
We have a time when we pray for each other. Pastors and Deacons are available to pray with families or individuals who have special needs. We have dozens of prayer cards with urgent prayer concerns that our church body prays for. For those who want to, we gather at the altar and spend time in sincere prayer for our community, our church, and each other.

Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Matthew 18:19-20

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sea Turtle Eggs

Read this great article about Ed Young Jr., who pastors Fellowship Church in Grapevine Texas. Don't stop at least until you get to the part about the Sea Turtle Eggs. (The link to the actual article is here.)

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Ed Young Jr.: Scripture is best voter guide
By Michael Foust Oct 20, 2008

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)--Scripture provides guidance for Christians in deciding which candidate to support on Election Day, Texas pastor Ed Young Jr. told his congregation Oct. 19.It was the second part in a sermon series Young has dubbed "Politicked." The pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine gave five categories believers should examine about each political candidate."Once we ask ourselves these five questions and once we answer them, then we'll be ready to vote for the right person," he said.The five categories are:

-- Character.

"Everything begins with character," said Young, pointing to Proverbs 29:2: "... If we elect righteous leaders, our government will be righteous, and if our government is righteous then the laws will be righteous."

Christians should take a political candidate's private conduct seriously, Young said.

"Character can be defined as who you are when no one's looking," he said. " ... For a long, long time, people have said, 'Who you are in private does not really affect who you area in public office.' ... That's absolutely, friends, nuts, because who you are in private is who you are. Who you are in private is who you are in public."

-- Conviction.

Reading from Proverbs 28:1 -- which says the "righteous are bold as a lion" -- Young said, "We need to elect lionesses and lions in this day -- people who are not politicians, but people who are statesmen, people who are leaders." That conviction, he said, must be based on God's Word.

He mentioned the "gay agenda" as one area where society is moving away from scriptural teachings.

"God has told us from cover to cover that there is only one context where sex should be enjoyed and practiced and celebrated -- marriage.... The Bible tells me and it tells you that during the end of time ... what is right [will be viewed as] wrong and [what is] wrong [will be viewed as] right."

Referencing those who compare the homosexual movement to the civil rights movement, Young said, "I've known a lot of former homosexuals but I've never met a former African American."

-- Courage.

"Does this candidate display courage?" Young asked. "Can you look at this candidate's life -- the history of him or her -- and say, 'You know what? He stood up for courage there. She stood up for courage.' ... Courage is the God-given ability to stand.... Conviction is belief. Courage is behavior."

Pointing to Proverbs 11:3, Young said, "The other day I heard a candidate being interviewed, and here's the response the candidate made to a question on morality, ... 'Well, for me as a Christian.' ... That was a relativistic answer. … The relativist says, 'What's right for you is true for you and what's true for you is true for you.'"

Giving an example of the absurdity of relativism, Young said someone could say, as part of the relativistic worldview, "What's true for me is to fly airliners into the sides of skyscrapers and kill hundreds and hundreds of people."

-- Compassion.

Giving the biblical definition of compassion, Young read from Proverbs 31:8-9, which says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." He also read from Proverbs 24:11, "Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter."

Abortion, Young said, is an issue where a political candidate must show compassion."

We're taking the lives, of ... 3,200 babies a day -- taking the lives of developing babies -- when you'll get thrown in prison and pay an astronomical fine if you disturb the eggs of developing sea turtles," he said. "What's right is wrong and [what's] wrong is right."

-- Constituency.

Young said examining who supports and opposes the candidate can help determine who to support."

I can meet your friends, without even meeting you, and tell you what kind of a person you are," Young said. "Who applauds this potential candidate and who opposes them? We better wake up and smell the coffee, here, friends. If the mainstream secular media supports a candidate or an issue, there is a great chance that something is sideways, [and] you better look at that one very, very closely. Who opposes them? Who is for them?"

Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. Young's sermon can be viewed online at www.fellowshipchurch.com.

© Copyright 2008 Baptist Press
Original copy of this story can be found at
http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=29160

Monday, October 20, 2008

Update

We had a good day Sunday... baptisms, new members, decisions, good crowd, good worship, great 'Chili Cook-Off' after the evening service...

A big thanks to Andrew Hottinger! Andrew is a young man in our church who recently accepted the call into ministry. Pastor Shawn was down in Tennessee leading in a revival, so Andrew filled in and did a great job.

This coming Sunday morning, we will continue to look at the practical applications of the Priesthood of Christ in our series we've called, "It's All About Who You Know." We've had many comments on this series so far. If you would like to really study this subject for yourself, read through the first ten chapters of Hebrews focusing primarily on Hebrews 5-10.

This Sunday evening, we will have a new format for our worship service. I'm looking forward to our different approach. I'll try to blog again later this week with an update of exactly what it will look like.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This Sunday II

I'm really looking forward to this Sunday. We will be beginning a new series of messages titled, "It's All About Who You Know." In this series we are going to focus on Jesus as our Great High Priest. I've spent the day studying Hebrews 5-10. I don't think I've ever understood the significance of Christ's priesthood like I do today. I think for most of us, we will find this is a surprising and life changing truth.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This Sunday

Tuesday is my study-all-day day. The last couple of weeks it has been interrupted by various things. Today, though has been a good day. In fact, it is almost 5:00 and I'm tired of studying (that never happens).

I thought I would give you a little heads up on this coming Sunday's messages. In the morning, I will be doing the fourth and last part in my series on How to Make Godly Decisions. We will be looking at the first 8 to 10 verses in Proverbs 3.

In the evening, we will be continuing our walk through the book of Romans. I haven't decided for sure whether we will do Romans 3:1-20 or break that up and just do verses 1-9 this week. I've been preparing for all twenty verses today, but it is a lot of material. I'll be back on that on Thursday and make a decision then.

There is not a lot to report on the family scene lately, although two interesting things did happen yesterday...

In our family devotions, everyone was reading the story of the woman caught in adultery from John 8. (We all read separately and then come together for our devotion time.) I had carefully crafted a way to talk about the story without dealing with exactly what adultery is with my seven and nine year old daughters. Well, when we began the devotion, I asked Emily, the seven year old, to tell us what the story was about and boy did she. She said that this woman had S-E-X (she spelled it because she thought it was a bad word) with a man she wasn't married to and the religious people caught her doing it. I was floored. So much for my plans to deal lightly with the subject. As it turned out, she was reading out of a children's Bible and the Bible, instead of using the word 'adultery' decided to spell out exactly what happened. Needless to say, the devotion didn't go very smoothly.

Last night, Donna had something she needed to go to, so the girls and I decided to go visit someone we knew who was in a hospital in Columbus. I told the girls that while we were out of town, we should eat something that none of us had ever eaten before. We ended up at a Mongolian Barbeque place. The girls had a great time!



Pastor Noel

Monday, September 22, 2008

Consequences Card

Sunday in my morning message I made reference to a card I always carry in my wallet. It is a card I made several years ago that lists the consequences that I would face if I fell morally. I pull this card out and read it from time to time. It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of fleeing from sexual temptation and sin.

Several people asked about the card after the service. Here is the list of the consequences I have listed on my card (in no particular order)...

  • It would break my wife's heart and she would weep with disappointment.
  • It would have to explain to my girls why I had hurt their mom so badly.
  • I would lose my ministry.
  • I would grieve my heavenly Father.
  • I would give the world license to ridicule my Savior.
  • I would become a stumbling block and an excuse for unsaved people.
  • I would have to explain it to my mother and my mother-in-law.
  • I would lose the respect of my peers.
  • It would be much more difficult to hold my daughters to a standard.
Maybe you would consider writing out the likely consequences that you would face. We could all use a reminder from time to time.

Pastor Noel

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Clarity II

Someone emailed me and pointed out that the video link on my blog post titled, "Clarity" was now broken. I have replaced the video link with two that should work now.

The can scroll down to 8/27 or just click here.

Pastor Noel

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Proverbs on Relationships

I was studying today in preparation for an upcoming series of messages. I was planning on preaching a few messages from the book of Proverbs on relationships among Christians. So I read through the book and tried to categorize all the 'relationship' verses by topic so that I would have a better handle on what Proverbs has to say about the subject. I didn't include verses on family relationships or on sexual relationships because that wasn't my focus (although there are plenty of those verses).

I've decided to go a different direction with my message series, but I thought some people would find this verse list interesting.

Read through these verses or focus on a category that interests you. Remember, though, that as you read them you should think of how they can apply to your own life, not just about how they can apply to people you know :).

Pastor Noel

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Accountability to Others / Taking Advice

Proverbs 10:17 NLT People who accept correction are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore it will lead others astray.

Proverbs 12:15 NLT Fools think they need no advice, but the wise listen to others.

Proverbs 13:10 NLT Pride leads to arguments; those who take advice are wise.

Proverbs 13:13 NLT People who despise advice will find themselves in trouble; those who respect it will succeed.

Proverbs 13:14 NLT The advice of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death.

Proverbs 13:18 NLT If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you will be honored.

Proverbs 15:10 NLT Whoever abandons the right path will be severely punished; whoever hates correction will die.

Proverbs 15:12 NLT Mockers don't love those who rebuke them, so they stay away from the wise.

Proverbs 15:22 NLT Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many counselors bring success.

Proverbs 15:31 NLT If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.

Proverbs 15:32 NLT If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.

Proverbs 18:2 NLT Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

Proverbs 19:20 NLT Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest of your life.

Proverbs 19:27 NLT If you stop listening to instruction, my child, you have turned your back on knowledge.

Proverbs 20:18 NLT Plans succeed through good counsel; don't go to war without the advice of others.

Proverbs 24:5-6 NLT A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of knowledge is more powerful than a strong man. 6 So don't go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many counselors.

Proverbs 25:11-12 NLT Timely advice is as lovely as golden apples in a silver basket. 12 Valid criticism is as treasured by the one who heeds it as jewelry made from finest gold.

Proverbs 27:17 NLT As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.

Proverbs 29:1 NLT Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair.


Admonishing a Fellow Believer

Proverbs 9:8-9 NLT So don't bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you. But the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more. 9 Teach the wise, and they will be wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn more.

Proverbs 12:26 NLT The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.

Proverbs 17:10 NLT A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool.

Proverbs 25:13 NLT Faithful messengers are as refreshing as snow in the heat of summer. They revive the spirit of their employer.

Proverbs 27:9 NLT The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

Proverbs 27:17 NLT As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.



Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

Proverbs 1:10-15 NLT My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! 11 They may say, "Come and join us. Let's hide and kill someone! Let's ambush the innocent! 12 Let's swallow them alive as the grave swallows its victims. Though they are in the prime of life, they will go down into the pit of death. 13 And the loot we'll get! We'll fill our houses with all kinds of things! 14 Come on, throw in your lot with us; we'll split our loot with you." 15 Don't go along with them, my child! Stay far away from their paths.

Proverbs 13:20 NLT Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 14:7 NLT Stay away from fools, for you won't find knowledge there.

Proverbs 20:19 NLT A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much.

Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT Keep away from angry, short-tempered people, 25 or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

Proverbs 23:20-21 NLT Do not carouse with drunkards and gluttons, 21 for they are on their way to poverty. Too much sleep clothes a person with rags.

Proverbs 24:21-22 NLT My child, fear the LORD and the king, and don't associate with rebels. 22 For you will go down with them to sudden disaster. Who knows where the punishment from the LORD and the king will end?


Benefits of Fellowship

Proverbs 13:20 NLT Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 15:17 NLT A bowl of soup with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate.

Proverbs 18:24 NLT There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.


Careless Speech

Proverbs 11:9 NLT Evil words destroy one's friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.

Proverbs 11:11 NLT Upright citizens bless a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.

Proverbs 11:12 NLT It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.

Proverbs 12:18 NLT Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.

Proverbs 13:3 NLT Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything.

Proverbs 15:28 NLT The godly think before speaking; the wicked spout evil words.

Proverbs 18:7 NLT The mouths of fools are their ruin; their lips get them into trouble.

Proverbs 21:23 NLT If you keep your mouth shut, you will stay out of trouble.

Proverbs 25:18 NLT Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.

Proverbs 26:18-19 NLT Just as damaging as a mad man shooting a lethal weapon 19 is someone who lies to a friend and then says, "I was only joking."

Proverbs 29:20 NLT There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.


Controlled Temper

Proverbs 12:16 NLT A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted.

Proverbs 13:3 NLT Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything.

Proverbs 13:16 NLT Wise people think before they act; fools don't and even brag about it!

Proverbs 14:17 NLT Those who are short-tempered do foolish things, and schemers are hated.

Proverbs 14:29 NLT Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes.

Proverbs 15:1 NLT A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:18 NLT A hothead starts fights; a cool-tempered person tries to stop them.

Proverbs 15:28 NLT The godly think before speaking; the wicked spout evil words.

Proverbs 17:27 NLT A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.

Proverbs 19:11 NLT People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.

Proverbs 20:22 NLT Don't say, "I will get even for this wrong." Wait for the LORD to handle the matter.

Proverbs 26:4-5 NLT When arguing with fools, don't answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are. 5 When arguing with fools, be sure to answer their foolish arguments, or they will become wise in their own estimation.

Proverbs 29:11 NLT A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.

Proverbs 29:22 NLT A hot-tempered person starts fights and gets into all kinds of sin.


Criticism

Proverbs 3:30 NLT Don't make accusations against someone who hasn't wronged you.

Proverbs 11:12 NLT It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.


Encouragement

Proverbs 12:25 NLT Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Proverbs 27:17 NLT As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.


Fairness

Proverbs 24:23 NLT Here are some further sayings of the wise:It is wrong to show favoritism when passing judgment.


Forgiveness

Proverbs 17:9 NLT Disregarding another person's faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends.

Proverbs 19:11 NLT People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.


Friendship

Proverbs 18:24 NLT There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 25:17 NLT Don't visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.

Proverbs 27:10 NLT Never abandon a friend – either yours or your father's. Then in your time of need, you won't have to ask your relatives for assistance. It is better to go to a neighbor than to a relative who lives far away.


Gossip

Proverbs 11:13 NLT A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.

Proverbs 16:28 NLT A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 17:9 NLT Disregarding another person's faults preserves love; telling about them separates close friends.

Proverbs 18:8 NLT What dainty morsels rumors are – but they sink deep into one's heart.

Proverbs 20:19 NLT A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much.

Proverbs 25:23 NLT As surely as a wind from the north brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!

Proverbs 26:20 NLT Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.


Healing Speech

Proverbs 12:18 NLT Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.

Proverbs 12:25 NLT Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Proverbs 15:1 NLT A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.

Proverbs 20:15 NLT Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.

Proverbs 25:15 NLT Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can crush strong opposition.

Proverbs 27:9 NLT The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.


Kindness

Proverbs 3:3-4 NLT Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart. 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.

Proverbs 3:27-28 NLT Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them. 28 If you can help your neighbor now, don't say, "Come back tomorrow, and then I'll help you."

Proverbs 11:17 NLT Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.

Proverbs 11:25 NLT The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 14:21 NLT It is sin to despise one's neighbors; blessed are those who help the poor.

Proverbs 15:1 NLT A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.

Proverbs 17:17 NLT A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.


Loyalty

Proverbs 3:3-4 NLT Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart. 4 Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will gain a good reputation.

Proverbs 17:17 NLT A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 19:22 NLT Loyalty makes a person attractive. And it is better to be poor than dishonest.

Proverbs 20:6 NLT Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is really faithful?

Proverbs 27:10 NLT Never abandon a friend – either yours or your father's. Then in your time of need, you won't have to ask your relatives for assistance. It is better to go to a neighbor than to a relative who lives far away.


Reconciling Broken Relationships

Proverbs 18:19 NLT It's harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars.


Sowing Discord / Arguing

Proverbs 6:16, 19b NLT There are six things the LORD hates – no, seven things he detests: ... a person who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 17:14 NLT Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

Proverbs 17:19 NLT Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; anyone who speaks boastfully invites disaster.

Proverbs 18:6 NLT Fools get into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.

Proverbs 18:19 NLT It's harder to make amends with an offended friend than to capture a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with iron bars.

Proverbs 20:3 NLT Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.

Proverbs 22:10 NLT Throw out the mocker, and fighting, quarrels, and insults will disappear.

Proverbs 22:24-25 NLT Keep away from angry, short-tempered people, 25 or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.

Proverbs 26:17 NLT Yanking a dog's ears is as foolish as interfering in someone else's argument.

Proverbs 26:21 NLT A quarrelsome person starts fights as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Clarity

The previous video I had linked on this post is no longer working. Here is the same information in two videos...



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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Shack II

Yesterday, I posted my review of the William Young book called The Shack. Wow, that was great for increasing viewership on my blog!

Here is a video clip of a review of the book by Mark Driscoll. (I hear Oprah Winfrey has a different view, I'm still looking for her video.)



Pastor Noel

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Shack

Several people have asked me my thoughts on the very popular William Young book called, The Shack. The first I heard of the book was in July. My wife and I were in Myrtle Beach having dinner with some friends right after one of them had just finished reading the book. She said it was the most unusual book she had read. She had it with her and told me I could take it and read it.

I hardly ever read Christian fiction, so I thought, “This will sit on my night stand for months.” (Although, I should say that the Christian fiction book by Randy Alcorn called Safely Home is one of the best five books I have ever read in my life. You can read my blog post about that book here.)

The book did sit on my night stand for several weeks, but it seemed someone new would ask me about the book every few days. So last week I picked it up and read it. What do I think about this controversial book? Well...

In short, I don’t think it would be a helpful book for a non-believer wanting to know more about God or young Christian not yet very grounded in the Word.

The book is full of ‘theology’. It presents an unorthodox view of God, the Trinity, and God’s relationship with man. Most of the ‘theology’ presented is OK if you remember this is a fictional book that is trying to make a point by painting a caricature of God. The caricature resembles the truth we know about God from Scripture, but a caricature always shows things out of proportion, and this book definitely does that.

For certain, there are many things in the book that flat contradict Scripture. To name a few...

William Young’s explanation of the role (and sin) of authority (God’s authority, man’s authority, submission to authority) is blatantly wrong. The Bible tells us repeatedly of the authorities God has set up and our responsibility to those authorities. The Bible teaches that we can’t be right with God unless we are also right the with authorities in our lives. In the Bible we see authority not as something that clouds our understanding of God, but just the opposite. God sets up systems of authority to teach us how to relate to Him. Understanding, respecting, and submitting to authority is the KEY to a close walk with the Lord. There is nothing more central to Scripture whether you are reading the law, the proverbs, the prophets, the gospels, or the epistles. The Shack misses this completely. The book teaches that no hierarchy can be found in the Trinity of God or has been instituted by God on earth. The only problem with that is the many verses that talk about the submission of God the Son to the authority of God the Father, the many verses that talk about the submission we should have to the governmental authorities that God has established, the many verses that talk about how authority and submission should work in a marriage and with kids, the many verses that talk about how authority should be organized in a church, and the many Bible warnings about the sin of rebellion against God ordained authorities. The Shack is wrong about authority!

Secondly, the Trinity is badly maligned in the book. When God gave us the Bible, He showed us the right way to look at the Trinity. God chose to describe the relationship between the ‘Godheads’ as the relationship of a Father, a Son, and a Spirit. It is no small thing to just change imagery for ‘shock’ effect or to get people to think of God in a new way. There are some things that are sacred. God is ALWAYS presented in His perfect Word as the Father, Son, and Spirit. Tinkering with that can’t be good, and saying, there is a better way to understand that relationship than the way God has revealed it to us borders on blaspheme.

The book’s worst error, however, is in how it presents God with a benevolence that precludes wrath. The book hints that there may be other parts of God that we cannot understand that explain why He appears to have wrath and anger, but the image of God that we come away with is of a God that does not have standards, expectations, or the anger and wrath that come because of the violation of these. If you know much about Scripture (the only authoritative source we have on the nature of God), then I don’t have to list the thousands of verses that show that while God is love and has provided for our sins to be forgiven, He is also a God of justice and of wrath. I’m sure you remember the stories of Jesus making whips and driving out the money changers. I’m sure you’ve read of God’s many judgments upon the earth. I’m sure you know the standard of church discipline that God instructs the New Testament church to hold. I’m sure you noticed that Jesus taught as much about the fires of hell as He did the forgiveness of God. There seems to be a new PC (political correctness) among many Bible teachers. In many of these modern movements and modern views of God, people feel like they have to clean up God’s image and omit much of what the Bible clearly teaches. I think this is very unfortunate.

So, do I recommend the book? No. I wouldn’t recommend it. In all honesty, I did enjoy the book. And I was personally challenged in some areas. But without a very firm grounding in Scripture, I believe many readers will come away with an extremely skewed view of God.

My fear with this book is that many people will develop their understanding of God more from this than from Scripture. I know people who have read the 250+ pages of The Shack that hadn’t read the New Testament even once in the past year. For those people, this emotional book will warp their view of God in a way they may never recover from. Some have said, that it is great news that this Christian book has been on the best seller lists for weeks. I disagree. I cringe every time I hear that someone else has started reading it.

Pastor Noel Dear

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

God Should Not Be Our Priority!

I was reading a book at lunch today called The Shack by William Young. Many people have asked me about my opinion on this best-seller and the theology it teaches, and once I'm finished with the book, I will post my view. But I ran across a very interesting and insightful paragraph today that I want to share with you. I have changed the names a little so this will make better sense to those who have not read the book and thus don't know the characters...

"The trouble with living by priorities," [the Holy Spirit] spoke, "is that it sees everything as a hierarchy, a pyramid, and you and I have already had that discussion. If you put God at the top, what does that really mean and how much is enough? How much time do you give me before you can go on about the rest of your day, the part that interests you so much more?" [God the Father] interrupted. "You see, Mackenzie, I don't just want a piece of you and a piece of your life. Even if you were able, which you are not, to give me the biggest piece, that is not what I want. I want all of you and all of every part of you and your day." Jesus now spoke again. "Mack, I don't want to be first among a list of values; I want to be the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life--your friends, family, occupation, thoughts, activities-- is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being."

The phrase that most caught my attention was, "I don't want to be first among a list of values; I want to be the center of everything."

The real question is not, "How big a part of your life will you give to the Lord?" It isn't even, "What priority is God going to take in your life?" The real question is whether or not your focus stays on Him in everything you do... job... family... hobbies... ministry... and so on...

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Was Sunday A Good Day?

Twenty-two people from nine families joined our church...

Two people made public their surrender to full time missions work in Africa...

Pastor Noel

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stausz's Commit To Kenya

Exciting News!

Greg and Lisa Strausz, a young couple in our church, made public today in church their decision to sell everything they have and move to Kenya to work with our partner church there and the unreached people group with whom we have started a new work.

I believe this is one of the greatest days in the history of our church. I am amazed how fast God has worked from a conversation over my dinner table with Pastor Fredrick about a year ago about this unreached people group to today where we have an ongoing ministry to that group of Muslims, we are sending a large number of their orphaned children to a Christian school, and now we have this couple going over to help with the work! Wow!

Please pray for Greg and Lisa. This is a great commitment (a bigger commitment than most of us will ever make). Thank God for their willingness to sacrifice and go (a level of sacrifice that few of us will ever make).

What a great day!

Pastor Noel Dear

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It Has Begun...

The daily devotion blog (MyMornings.blogspot.com) officially started this morning. Make sure you read the blog post entitled "Introduction -- Part III" before you begin.

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Mornings -- Part II

If you haven't read the 'My Mornings' blog post then you should stop and read that first.

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your daily devotions or quiet times...

  • Read the Bible -- This may seem obvious, but many people lean to much on devotional books. Those may be helpful, but it is important that we read God's Word and not just what someone says about God's Word. I suggest you use a Bible that is easy for you to read, especially if you are just getting started in your quiet times.
  • Use a Notebook & Pen -- You should write down the things you learn during your devotional time. When you go to an important meeting with your boss you write down what he or she says, why not treat your meeting with the Lord each morning with the same seriousness.
  • Mark in your Bible -- If your Bible has large enough margins, jot notes about what you discover. These will be very useful to you through the years. Develop a system that uses colored pens or pencils. I write things I learn and new insights I discover in black ink. I use blue ink to write things I learn that I should begin to do... action lessons. When I find things I should be thankful for or things that I should praise God for, I mark them with red ink. If your Bible doesn't have wide enough margins for this, you can put little numbers next to the passages you want to jot a note about and then write the corresponding number in your notebook and record your thoughts there.
  • Find a good place -- It is best to have a certain time and place where you have your daily devotions. This should be a place free of distractions.
  • Focus on Faithfulness -- Your faithfulness is much more important than the length of time you spend each day. While you don't want to rush through this, and spending more time will certainly be better, the most important thing is that this is a DAILY habit.
  • Keep a Prayer Journal -- Whether it is in your Bible Study notebook or in a separate journal, you should write down the things you want to pray for. A simple list is better than nothing, but the more specific you record this, the more helpful it will be to you.
  • Have a CHAT with the Lord -- The best way I know to outline your prayers is to use the acronym C-H-A-T. C stands for Confession. H stands for Honor. A stands for Asking. T stands for Thanksgiving. I use this daily to guide my morning prayers.
Well, we will get started tomorrow. Don't forget to check out MyMornings.blogspot.com. (This is a duplicate post with the one on the other blog. The actual quiet time posts will only be found on the MyMornings blog.)

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Mornings

Last Sunday morning I was preaching on the Parable of the Soils from Mark 4. One of the points I was emphasizing was the importance of getting God's Word into your life. Many people expose themselves to God's Word by casually attending a church service from time to time or by flipping through their Bibles when they feel like it. Others will occasionally read Christian books or magazines. But none of these activities really qualifies as getting the Word of God into your life as the Parable of Soils pictures for us.

Sunday I compared our 'exposure' to God's Word to a hot, tired, athlete who is about to die of thirst being splashed with water from a hose. Initially the splash might seem refreshing, but it will not be satisfying. No! The hot, tired, thirsty athlete does not need to be splashed with water, he needs to drink the water. The only way he can be satisfied and renewed is to take the water in his body!

In the message I shared several ways a person can take God's Word into his or her life. One of the most important ways is through a daily time of Bible Study and Prayer. Often we call this a 'Quiet Time.' It consists of sitting down each morning with a Bible, a notebook, and a pen, and then spending time the Lord. I believe this practice is invaluable and essential in the Christian life.

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You. --- Psalms 143:8 NKJ

Every time I speak about having these 'quiet times', many people have questions about how to get started, how to be consistent, how to make it more effective, and so on...

If you have questions like that, I want to be helpful in a couple of ways. First, we are starting a series of Saturday morning discipleship seminars beginning in September. One of these seminars is specifically designed to answer these 'quiet time' questions. But more on that later.

The second help I want to give is to share my 'quiet time' routine with you each morning. For some, this might be a good example that you can learn from and then adapt it to your own 'quiet time' routine. Others may want to follow along with me and use this as a primitive devotional guide for a time.

I'm not sure how long I will do this (your level of interest will determine that), but at least for the next couple of months, after my morning quiet times, I will post a blog with the Scripture that I have studied, the insights that God has shown me in that Scripture passage, along with some added comments that might guide you in your own quiet time experience. Most mornings I can have this post done early. Fridays and Saturdays may be the exception, but I should still get them posted before nine o'clock.

I will start this quiet time blog posting this Thursday (8/14). My QT (Quiet Time) will begin in 1 Corinthians that morning.

The blog will not be posted here, but rather on a new blog address...

MyMornings.blogspot.com

I hope you will check it out. If you decide to use this in anyway with your quiet time routine, let me know and keep me posted with how it is going.

If this seems helpful to you at all, pass the word!

Pastor Noel