Friday, January 23, 2009

My Daughter

Many of you have already seen the video on my wife's blog, but I wanted to show this off to anyone who hasn't seen it.

Hannah won a Reading Rainbow story contest and as a prize the Reading Rainbow people took her story, her reading the story and her drawings and made a short clip.


And yes I am a little concerned that my sweet little girl's first published writing is about a kid being disobedient, doing something dangerous, and then getting rewarded for it. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


As I shared in a post a few days ago, Donna and I are going through a 'One Year Chronological Bible' in our morning devotions. Well we started about a week into 2009 and we are just now caught up with the right day. Finally.

So today I was reading in the book of Job and I ran across these verses...

If only there were a mediator who could bring us together, but there is none. The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment. Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength. -- Job 9:33-35 NLT

There is a great deal of insight in Job's question. Isn't it great news that we do have a mediator!

For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. -- 1 Timothy 2:5 NLT

It is in the book of Hebrews that the truth is expressed best...

That is why we have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. -- Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

Aren't you thankful that you can get up in the mornings and approach the God of the universe through the mediator Jesus Christ! Aren't you thankful that through Christ you can hear from God and He can hear from you! Aren't you thankful that you never have to feel as hopeless as Job felt!

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where is Global Warming When You Need It?

So they say our six degrees this morning will feel like a heat wave compared to the minus seven predicted for tomorrow morning?

That reminds me of a whole new set of things to be thankful for this morning...


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Old Fashioned Enough To Pray

Do you think it really helps to pray for success as we begin new projects, new ministries, and even new days? For many people, I think that kind of prayer just seems like an old fashioned, childish, waste of time and energy. In fact, I sometimes hear and read of pastors who will poke fun at such a simplistic approach to life and prayer.

Well, I was reminded of the importance of that kind of prayer in my quiet time this morning. Donna decided a few days ago that she would like to read through the Bible in a year in her quiet times, so I decided to do it with her. We went out and bought a 'One Year Chronological Bible', and have been trying to catch up to the right date ever since. This morning I was reading in Genesis 24 where Abraham's servant has gone on a mission to find a wife for Isaac. Read what the servant says as he relays the story to Rebekah's family...

Genesis 24:42 NLT "So this afternoon when I came to the spring I prayed this prayer: 'O LORD, the God of my master, Abraham, if you are planning to make my mission a success, please guide me in a special way.

In the next few verses, the servant details the event and how God answered the prayer.

So what am I doing this morning? I am asking the Lord for success in the things I hope to do this day and this week.

Pastor Noel

Friday, January 9, 2009

Some Things Can't Be Postponed

This morning I was reading in the last part of Acts 24. A roman leader named Felix had the apostle Paul as a prisoner. Felix and his wife would meet often with Paul because they were curious about the gospel. But after considering the possibility of making a decision repeatedly over a long period of time, Felix was replaced as the leader; the conversations with Paul ceased; and as far as we know, Felix never again came to the point where the gospel was presented and a decision encouraged.

The lesson from this is two fold. If you don't have a relationship with Christ, there is no better day for that to begin than today. Find a strong believer you are close to and ask him or her to help you become a child of God.

The other lesson involves us all. I wonder how many of us are postponing an important decision. We've thought about it; we've even prayed about it... But we know that now is the time to choose, to commit, to get started. Don't delay what you know the Lord wants you to do.


Well it is Friday!

I am hoping the weather doesn't get too bad with tomorrow being the first day of Upward and with our Sunday guest speaker flying into Columbus in the middle of the day.

This morning I am stuck at the house until 8:00 because Donna had something she had to do this morning. Once the day begins, I've got about one more hour of work to have my 1/18 morning message complete, I've got about five pastoral visits to make, and about one hour of work to do on the publicity for our new worship service we are beginning on March 8... then my todo list will be finished for the week!

If you don't have anything to do tomorrow, join us for an Upward Basketball game or two. To accommodate all of the teams, we are playing games at four different Saturday venues this year, but the best thing to do is to come down to our Family Life center. I think games start around 8:30 and go most of the day. In fact I think there are games there tonight as well. It will be a lot of fun.

I will see you Sunday! (and yes, we will have church in the snow)

Pastor Noel

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What is in You?

Take a look at this video... it is pretty good.

One Busy Day

Do you ever have days where you start out behind? This is one of those days.

I turned my alarm off this morning when I thought I had only snoozed it...

When I finally did get up and had my quiet time started, Hannah, my ten-year-old woke up vomiting...

I gave Hannah a cardboard box that was sitting near by so she would have something to throw-up in...

Donna tells me she was going to use that box for something. I look at her and tell her she can have it back in a minute. She gives me a look that could kill...

I have five appointments on the schedule today. And when there are five actually scheduled that means there will probably be twice that...

So... interesting day already and the sun hasn't even come up.

I did, however, have a good quiet time this morning. I ran across a verse that I feel led to memorize today. Read this verse in a few different Bible versions, with each one you see a little more of its meaning and emphasis...

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:24 ESV

But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love.
Acts 20:24 NLT

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:24 NKJ

Ordinarily I do my devotional reading from the NLT and my studying, memorizing, and preaching from the NKJ. But I am going through Acts in the ESV just to become more familiar with it. So it was in the ESV that the verse caught my attention and led me to look in the other Bibles. I will resist the temptation to write three or four paragraphs of preaching on this verse. You can apply it to your life as well as I can. Just read through it a few times in each version. I think it will encourage you today.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Upward Basketball

Something I'm praying about this morning...


That is something that doesn't often make it to my prayer list, but this week is the exception. Saturday will be the first day of Upward Basketball games. For the next eight Saturdays we will have hundreds of people come to our Family Life Center to watch basketball games. My prayer is that our church can show these people the love of Christ. My prayer is that somehow, while they are here to see a basketball game, we can be an encouragement to them in some meaningful way.

I am specially praying that we will have the opportunity over the next eight weeks to invite all of them to the new worship service we are adding in March.

Pray for the games... the kids... the coaches and refs... pray for the parents and families that come to watch... and pray that our church can be a real blessing to them such that we can make an impact in their lives.

Pastor Noel

Monday, January 5, 2009

More to Come...

There is a great deal to blog about this week...
  • The upcoming start of our new worship service we announced yesterday...
  • The special speaker and services planned for this coming Sunday...
  • New sermon series for our Morning worship and a new series for our Soma Kristou worship...

Maybe I can get to some of that today. But this morning let me just highlight a passage from today's devotional reading.

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. -- Acts 17:10-11 NKJ

We should all be more like the Bereans. I spent some time this morning praying through how I could be more like them in my personal devotion times and my personal Bible study times. I know how valuable God's Word is. My prayer is that I will have a growing desire and passion to study and live out His Word.

Pastor Noel

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Reasoning from the Scriptures

From my devotion reading this morning...

Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2 NKJ

Well, that is what we will be doing in our morning worship service in a few hours. Pray that I will be able to clearly preach the Word this morning and that the Holy Spirit will use it to change lives.

Pastor Noel

Saturday, January 3, 2009

How To Know What Is Right

How do you know what is 'right'? The first answer that comes to the minds of most believers is, "You look to Scripture. If it is forbidden, then it is wrong. If not, then it is fine." That simple answer is sufficient much of the time, but not always.

What about doing something that is not forbidden in Scripture but really irks the conscience of another believer? Should we be sensitive to the views and sensitivities of other believers even when those views are not expressly supported in Scripture? Should I be sensitive to how others around me were raised and taught through the years?

There is not always a clear, black and white line when it comes to these kinds of issues. The wisest course of action is usually to be humble, and sensitive and ever-mindful of Philippians 2:3 (Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself).

In my quiet time today I read something that got me to thinking about this...

Acts 15:19-20 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.

These are the words of James as he comments on what instructions should be given to the new gentile Christians. Does something seem strange about these instructions? Why were they told to abstain from things polluted by idols, from things strangled, and from blood? Is it a sin to partake of those things?

No, it is not a sin to partake of those things (and other Scripture passages confirm this). These instructions were given as a compromise. The Jewish believers wanted the gentiles to understand that they were saved by grace through faith, not by keeping the Jewish law. But they also wanted the Gentile believers to be sensitive to the way most Jewish believers lived (their lifestyle) and the way they were raised (their background).

There are a couple lessons here that I need to be reminded of often...

First, I need to be sensitive to the fact that some believers were raised with certain traditions and mores that I was not. I should be careful to not offend their sensitivities unnecessarily. I need to remember that it is not all about my rights; it is all about love.

Second, I need to remember that I was raised with certain traditions and I live a certain lifestyle that works for me. I shouldn't expect everyone to conform to my lifestyle and traditions. The model is not me, it is Scripture.


Pray for me, I've got a funeral today. Difficult situation.

I'm looking forward to worship tomorrow. If you want to read ahead, read and study through Psalm 1.

Pastor Noel

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Day

I am looking forward to this Sunday. In our morning service we are going to focus on how to prepare for what God may choose to do in our lives in 2009. The Lord began laying this message on my heart back in the beginning of December. I am praying we have a great, life-changing, God-honoring day!

Sunday we will also take the wraps off one of two big changes in store for our church this year. A great deal of prayer, study, and consultation has gone into this decision. I look forward to sharing it with the church. And no I won't tell you ahead of time :).

Question: What is the most interesting or the most convicting or the most encouraging thing you've read in the Word in the last couple of days? The Lord can and will teach us wonderful things when we read the Bible consistently! If you are looking for something to commit to in 2009, a daily habit of Bible reading might be a pretty good idea.

Here is some of what I saw in my reading this morning. In Acts 10:34, Peter preaches a Gospel message to Gentiles. As you read through his message and get to Acts 10:44 you will then see that something happens that is very similar to what happened when Peter preached to the Jews in Acts 2. So what is the difference in the two stories aside from the fact that in one the audience was composed entirely of Jews and in the other the audience was Gentile?

One big difference... the message. Paul preached a different message to the Gentiles. He still talked about the gospel (sin, guilt, Jesus, crucifixion, resurrection) but he did so with a different narrative and a different emphasis. Why? Because he was talking to different people.

Lesson to learn: There are some things that never change, like the gospel and the role of the Holy Spirit. But beyond those essentials, we must tailor our presentation and our ministry to reach people, understanding that the people we are trying to reach may be very different and have very different ways of viewing the world...

Well, I will save my preaching to Sunday.

Have a happy New Year's Day.

Pastor Noel