Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Word Became Flesh

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God… 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:1-2, 14).

The truth of the incarnation, God becoming man, is one of the most remarkable in all of Scripture. The God who created us, the God who holds the world together, the God who forms us in the womb and provides for our every need stepped out of heaven to become man.  He emptied himself and became a slave (Philippines 2:7).  He even died a horrendous death.  He did all of that for us.  It is impossible for us to ever understand the depths of that sacrifice.  For God to step out of heaven and enter the womb is beyond human comprehension.  The magnitude of God’s love for us is staggering. The sacrificial love of God for man is the story of Christmas.

There was a time when I believed that the Christmas season was a time of holy bliss for most people in our culture.  I saw those who didn’t find the joy in Christmas as not only being a small minority but obviously having some issues that they needed to resolve before God.  I have learned through years of ministry that I was na├»ve and had watched too many Christmas movies.  The reality is Christmas is a difficult time of year for many. It is financially taxing.  It brings up memories of those who we miss greatly.  It even magnifies instead of hide family tensions.  

For these reasons it is important we remember the true reason for the celebration of Christmas. It is a time to celebrate the first step toward the cross.  Jesus came to a fallen world in order to give it hope.  Whether Christmas is a time of great celebration and joy or a difficult time that adds to the pains of life, remember that Jesus stepped out of heaven and took on flesh because he loves you.  He wants to provide hope in you that goes beyond the current condition of your emotions.  He cares about what you are going through.  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Children Matter to God

My love for children is no secret.  To see children running around the church brings joy to my heart.  Jesus broke cultural barriers by allowing children to approach him.  He healed children and even multiplied the meal of a child to feed the multitude. For their culture, children ranked with the Samaritans, Gentiles and tax collectors.  Yet, Jesus made them a focus of his ministry.  For us, children are the future of the church.  Churches without children are on a countdown to death. Those who do not grow up in church are far less likely to find salvation through Jesus Christ.  Churches that do not train children well will not have young adults.  For these reasons, our ability to do children’s ministry well is imperative to our health as a church.

It is because of our volunteers that we are able to have such excellent ministries to our children. Without these volunteers we would not be a church full of the laughter and excitement of children.  Without these volunteers, parents would not put their trust in us to train their children in righteousness.  We work hard to provide a safe, friendly and Bible focused ministry. We could throw all the children in one room and try to entertain them, but we understand that God has given us the responsibility to teach them the Gospel.  Small groups and age appropriate literature help us take full advantage of the limited time we have to influence them.  This means we are always needing more volunteers.  Your willingness to volunteer in our preschool and children’s areas is imperative to the success of our ministries to these precious children.

Jennifer Hines has served faithfully the last few years as the director of our nursery and preschool area. She has recently submitted her resignation effective the first of the year.  She has worked hard to keep the area staffed and that safeguards in place to make sure our youngest children are well loved.  We are currently looking for a new coordinator in this area.  If you are interested, please visit with me, Jennifer, D’Wayne, or Cassie.  Coordinating volunteers is not the easiest job.  However, it is extremely important if we are going to be faithful with those God entrusts to us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Do Elections Matter?

This week we had a midterm election that was so intense over 100 million people turned out to vote. It took me 30 minutes to get through the line when I went to vote at a time that is usually pretty light.  The bitter divide in our country was in full display.  With the results, the American discord will be on overdrive in Washington with a divided congress and a controversial president. It is great to live in a country where revolt happens at the polls instead of the battlefield, however the conflict is still real. But one thing is for sure, God sits on his throne today as he has since the day he created this world.

If God still sits on his throne does it matter what happens in an election?  It definitely matters.  God is working out his plan in this world and one day it will culminate with the coming of Christ and a new heaven and new earth.  However, as he tarries to return we live with the consequences of political battles and the decisions our political leaders make. In America, it begins with elections.  Those who are elected we must submit to as those who are ruling for God (Romans 13). We must elect men and women to represent us in government who will guide the direction of our nation in a way that brings honor to God.

The decisions of those in political authority affect the church in many ways.  We must continually pray for our political leaders because it affects our ability to share Christ with those around us.  Paul told Timothy, “I urge that supplications prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). 

Now that the election is over we live with the results.  The job of the church is not to sit around and worry about what decisions will be made. We are not to sit around and cling to the play-by-play of the fight that will be on display in Washington.  We are to take advantage of the freedom and peace we have in America to take the name of Jesus to the people in our nation and all around the world.  The only answer for the divide in America is Jesus.  The elections mattered.  But more importantly we need to not miss the opportunity that was granted to us as citizens of this great nation.  With freedom comes great responsibility.  How are you using it? 

Great Start!

What a great start to our outreach for Engage Bartlesville.  Our first of six outreach events leading up to our kickoff is complete. Thank ...