Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Been a Year!

What a year it has been! My official start date as pastor was May 18, 2010. It is hard to believe that the first year has passed. It is amazing to see what God has done in the lives of so many people during this time. My kids have done wonderful through their first year in Bartlesville schools and are excited about their second summer packed with church activities. God answered our prayer for Tara to get to stay home for a year and she is looking for employment for the fall. Thank you for making our first year so memorable. I greatly appreciate all your prayers and encouragement. I am convinced God wants to use us to accomplish great things for His kingdom.

This Sunday will be our last Dynamic Ministry class. It marks the end of a journey that started in early January. We will soon present to the church a new biblical purpose and vision that will guide us for the next few years. We learned so much about ourselves on this journey and are excited about where God is leading us. Remember, this new biblical purpose and vision did not come from any one individual, but it came from all those who made the sacrifice to come together every week and join in the process. It is encouraging to see that God was working similarly in all of our hearts. I am excited to see the result of all the hard work.

Next week at this time, I will be on my way to Malawi Africa with Kelsey Hoelscher, Rachel Watters, and Paul Koonce. We covet your prayers as we quickly adjust to a new culture and begin to share the Gospel with those who have never heard. One of the villages we are going has never seen white people and as far as we know never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May God have their hearts ready to hear and may we be ready to reap the harvest.

1 Peter 2:1-10

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rejoice in Judgment?

I was shocked Sunday night when I turned on the news to learn that Osama Bin Laden had been shot and killed. There were all kinds of emotions that went through my mind. I wanted to cry tears of joy but also tears of hurt. Because of this it did not surprise me to see the different reactions of people throughout the United States. Some were even driven to go into the streets shouting “U.S.A.”. The question I was asking myself was, “How should Christians respond to this event?” I have read a lot of Christian blogs over the last couple of days relating to that question. Let me give you some of the things I learned.

It is the responsibility of government to provide justice and rid the world of those who commit atrocities against humanity. Romans 13:4, “For he [governing authorities] is God’s servant for our good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Though the killing Bin Laden is accepted and required by God our reaction to it should be reserved. Ezekiel 33:11 states, “Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Judgment, even when just, should not be celebrated because God’s desire is for their salvation. We are to rejoice with those who repent, not celebrate the judgment of the wicked. We can, however, be glad that Bin Laden is no longer doing evil.

I like the way Todd Fisher, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, stated it:

  • I am GRATEFUL the evil caused by OBL is gone (Prov. 11:10- “When the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness”).  I am GRIEVED he has entered hell (Luke 13:5- “But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”).  I am HUMBLED that without Christ, my destination would be the same (John 3:16- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”).

  • We should be thankful that one horrific source of the scourge of terrorism and religious abuse is no longer among us.  However, Jesus warned us in Luke 13:1-5 that the demise of others is always an opportunity for us to reflect on our own spiritual condition.  Instead of raucous celebration, perhaps we should think on Bin Laden and how we can make sure that evil and murderous thoughts, words, and deeds can be confessed to the Father and removed from our lives.  “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Let our response as Christians be different than those who do not know the Lord.

God Provides

God provides in many different ways. I have been reading Ezra as part of my daily devotional time.     Ezra leads the people of Israel out o...