Friday, July 18, 2008

A plea for a Christian Brother

Dear Friends,

I am writing to humbly endorse a great friend and fellow laborer in the Gospel in his calling as a laborer in God's East Asian fields. This man, Mr. Casey Adams, is serving his second summer with us here at Youth For Christ as a summer intern. In 2006 Casey served as a "Warehouse Staff" and this summer he is serving as both Warehouse Staff and Co-Director of our summer day camps. We love Casey!

We are also proud that Casey is a "local boy", hailing from the Roseville community and calling Clement Baptist Church his home church, where he also completed an internship in 2005 under the leadership of Pastor Hal Dickerson.

In recent years Casey has graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in religion and pursued further studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The latter studies are being "interrupted" by this calling to go unto the "ends of the earth".

Here's the beginning of where I am asking you all to help:Casey must raise all the money he needs for his 12 month mission to East Asia. He is being sent by God through Campus Crusade for Christ. His ministry will be to college students in East Asia.

TOMORROW, SATURDAY, JULY 19 there will be a benefit dinner held for Casey in the fellowship hall of Clement Baptist Church (http://www.clementbaptistchurch.org/directions2a.html).

The benefit will consist of a chicken plate dinner ($6.00 per plate) and live music. The benefit will last from 4:00-7:00 PM.Now, I believe $6.00 is a mighty low price to pay to help send a "called" man to the place God desires to send them. As a matter of fact, I encourage you all to eat a LITTLE and GIVE A LOT!

I have never believed in "coaxing" people to give by asking them to buy things, so I offer this endorsement and make this plea very humbly. I would encourage you to stop by the benefit and leave a generous gift; Casey still needs to raise in excess of $7,500.00 before he leaves in August.Please, as the Spirit moves you, please consider a gift to my co-laborer and friend.

The Scriptures finds the apostle John commending BELIEVERS for their support of one who sought "no help from the pagans" (3 John 1:7), so I appeal, to you in the faith, in a special way.If you cannot come to the benefit a gift can be sent to 66 Roseville Loop Rd., Roxboro, NC 27573. Any checks should be written to Campus Crusade for Christ.

If you have questions about Casey's mission or would like for him to speak to your Sunday School class or entire church, please call him at 336-504-4885 or feel free to email him: casey.adams@uscm.org

Monday, July 07, 2008

Luke #58 – More Than a Good Teacher

Luke #58 – More Than a Good Teacher

“And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, ‘What a word is this! For with authority and power He commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.’ And the fame of Him went out into every place of the country round about” (Luke 4:36-37 – King James Version).

It was a funny scene…let me tell you about it. I am 5’10” and weigh 297 pounds. Needless to say, I am a big ol’ boy! There is a lot of me packed between that first and seventieth inch. I was having an after church discussion with some of the young women and young men of my youth group about cheerleading and gymnastics. Brittany Brown, a talented cheerleader and athlete in her own right, had performed several gymnastic moves and we were discussing the difficulty of said moves. She did a thing called a toe touch. That involves holding one’s hands straight out, palms up, and jumping up and touching the toe of one’s shoes to the palms of one’s hands. I said, “I can do that.” Several of the youth laughed, especially one young man. Well, I’ll let you know that I did it, not once, but THREE times in a row. The young doubter tried several times without any success. I used that little experience to teach them not to judge a book by its cover, nor to take people at what they say only, but to understand their commitment and ability by what they can and will do.

When Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum the people there were “astonished at His doctrine” (verse 32). He was a teacher of no comparison; those people had never heard a person teach with such power and knowledge. Now they were amazed in a whole new way. Not only did Jesus teach in an amazing way, but He had POWER in His words. With little effort, Christ spoke and by His words the demons were forced to leave from the man. The people basically said, “What kind of word is this?” because they were amazed that Jesus’ words didn’t only make sounds but caused action. Clearly He was more than a man. Clearly Jesus was more than a good teacher. I think this account of Jesus casting the evil spirits from this man is one of the places we can firmly establish that Jesus is God.

There is another lesson in here for us today. There is the lesson of living what you say. I am wearied of people who know all the Christian talk but display little of the Christian walk. We know how to give all the Christian answers and to say all the right church phrases and repeat all the Sunday School answers, but there HAS to be more! God desires that we produce spiritual fruit, not that we sit around naming them! Don’t get me wrong; knowing all the Christian facts and the lingo in which to express them is not a bad thing. What I am saying is that if there is not some action to match those words, well, we had better check ourselves. There are too many people that are all talk and no action!

Jesus would have earned fame with His teaching alone. It was different and He was different. His teaching was more than reminding people of rules; He taught them how to apply God’s word and how to live it. He did not do that alone. He did miracles and lived in a way that showed there was more to God’s word than knowing it and being able to talk about it.

Do you want to be known near and far? More importantly, do you want fame before the Lord? Here’s how to get it…don’t just talk “God stuff”, but live it. Jesus was more than a good teacher…He was the word come to life. I believe He desires the same from us. I don’t think that my youth would have been satisfied by me simply saying I could do a toe touch, but they were very satisfied when what I did matched what I said I could do. I think the same applies to our Christian lives. We must do what we talk!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

For the educated folk...

Luke #57 – Damaged Goods Cart

Luke #57 – Damaged Goods Cart

“And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art; the Holy One of God.’ And Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Hold thy peace, and come out of him.’ And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not” (Luke 4:33-35 – King James Version).

Two little stories…

When I was a kid I didn’t go into town very often. When I did, it was mostly to go to the grocery store. One of my favorite things about going to the grocery store was looking at the damaged goods. The store we shopped at always had one or two shopping carts sitting in the main aisle filled with dented cans, torn boxes, and other damaged containers. I loved to sift through those carts searching for a treasure. We didn’t buy much junk food, so a trip to the damaged goods cart often yielded some treasure that mom would buy for me just because it was priced to sell.

Second little story…I used to do prison ministry. I was privileged to minister to many hurting people in jails. I also was privileged to introduce a few to my Savior. While in town one day I ran into a fellow that I’d led to Christ while the man was in jail. I asked him how things were going. He’d found a job and was doing well with one notable exception; he was not going to church. When I asked why that was he said, “Nobody wants a convict in their church.” “How do you know?” I asked, “Have you tried to find a church?” “Oh, yeah,” he said with a touch of sadness, “I have tried a couple. Everything is fine until I share that I have been locked up. People change when they find that out.”

When I read today’s passage I think of those two little stories. Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and it left the man. It is notable to mention that the spirit left the man “and hurt him not.” Jesus sent the unclean spirit away, but Christ did not send the man away. That will preach!

We tend to forget that when a person is freed from an unclean spirit or from the bondage of sin the person is still there though the sin is gone. The old man has passed away and behold, there is a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Often we cast off the new person because of the reputation of the old man. We must remember to keep the person, minister to them, accept them, love them, and disciple them and at the same time rejoice with them that the old man has been cast off.

We forget that sin occurs with sinners and sinners are people. We want to be rid of the sin, but we get the two mixed up sometimes and cast the sinner off with the sin.

At the end of the day we are all damaged goods. None of us is perfect (Romans 3:23). It’s as if Jesus rummaged through the damaged goods cart of the world and picked out some choice treasures and bought them. The difference is that Christ did not pay a reduced price for we who are those damaged goods…He paid dearly and fully with His precious blood. He took damaged things but paid the full price. That, my friends, is a beautiful thought and reality!

I recently heard someone say that it is not our common good or our common social status that draws us together, but our common need for Christ to minister to our weaknesses. It’s not that we have like hobbies or equal bank accounts; rather we have the sin sickness in common and the Savior is the solution for us all.

Personally, I love damaged goods. I have found that once the package is peeled away or torn off, it is the stuff inside that counts. The amazing thing is that Christ takes goods that are damaged inside and out and MAKES them whole and worth using.

How do you view the sinner? Should they be cast off with the sin? Should damaged goods be allowed into your fellowship? Do you hunt for damaged goods that you can carry to the Master? Do you welcome damaged goods and treat them as equals in Christ? If you don’t you obviously have forgotten exactly how bent, broken and torn you were when the Savior redeemed and restored you.

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” That comes from the fact that families in medieval times all used the same bath water for their bi-annual bath. They used it by order of age, from the oldest to the youngest. Often, by the time it would be the baby’s turn the water would be so dirty that one might not be able to see the baby in it, thus creating the certain danger that the baby might be tossed out with the dirty water. We, as the church…the manifest presence of Christ in this world…need to throw out nasty bath water (sin), but we need to be careful not to toss baby Christians out with it.

However we state it, there is the simple fact that sinners are kept and sin is thrown away. Don’t forget that! If God doesn’t love damaged goods, then He doesn’t love anyone because that is exactly what all of us are. Let us be like Him in this regard. If we don’t excitedly search through and use the damaged goods of this world, not only will we miss out on a great many treasures but we basically throw away the merchandise. Remember these things when you minister to people.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

ERCC News

Sunday Night Worship was such a blast! Berry's Grove choir did an AWESOME job in performing the Experiencing God musical. What was so wonderful were the MANY filled pews. I was so happy to have so many visitors from Berry's Grove, a few from Long Memorial and quite a few of our own people.

What particularly pleased me about the crowd were the many children and teens who came to worship service. Many times Care has a good group of children on Wednesday night, but many of those same children have told us they don't want to go to worship service because they do not want to sit still for that long. Lord, change us all; teach us all to love learning, to be joyful when singing to You, to find great pleasure in sitting at Your feet, both alone and with others.

I want to log somewhere my hopes in making singing an important part of our assembling, so I do it here. For the two people who might read this, let me give some background; (1) I love singing; (2) We plan on having a full song service every fifth Sunday.

Now, that being said, let me explain the reasons I think that is important and that will explain why we had the Berry's Grove choir leading our service this past Sunday.
(1) EVERY song has a message. The message in many songs is downright horrible; some songs offered in church are bad too.
(2) We want people to really connect to the fact that every song we sing in our worship services carries with it an important message in the song; that the songs do something to lead our minds and hearts Godward or to soften us to His speaking.
(3) We want people to do more than simply "get through the songs" because it is time to sing. We want them to anticipate hearing something, and possibly saying something very important to God. The song may be the very prayer of our hearts, the proclamation of our faith, the praise of our lips or the proclamation of our belief.
(4) If worship music is just singing, I don't want it. If it's there because it's "supposed" to be, or because we value tradition, I don't want it. It is my belief, like the spoken Word, the Word sung can be filled with powerful messages, heavy truths that encourage, convince, convict and call to movement within and without.
(5) In short, we believe that the music can do as much preaching and praying and testifying as do the spoken elements of all three.

So, we want to convey that every song selection is supremely important; that we are seeking to hear from, speak to, glorify and please the Lord. We want it to be known that we are serious about every element of our services are intentionally meant to help us engage our total person in meeting with the Lord. We want to REALLY worship; to ascribe to Him His true worth. To take any part of a worship service casually is to be disrespectful.

All that being said, yet desiring to say more, the Berry's Grove choir "preached" a wonderful message and I was glad to be there. Though I'd not sang that particular musical in quite some time they graciously allowed me to step in and sing along. It was good to sing those great songs again. My record of yet making it through When I Survey the Wondrous Cross is alive and well. It's a heart lifting and a heart wrenching song.

More later...