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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