Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Despised Things

“Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭25:34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How often we "sell" our spiritual inheritance short of God's intended abundance. Esau gave way to impatience, the desires of flesh, and natural hungers. In so doing he "despised" his birthright. For the middle eastern mindset, it is not so much that he hated the gift of his birthright, only that in comparison to his PURSUIT of some stew it seemed to be despised.

Modern believers might say that they do not despise the promises of God, but in comparison to our PURSUITS of the things of the world we have sold short.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why Wednesday?

Here at CLC we have a midweek service on Wednesday evenings. It is not the same as Sunday morning services. Sunday mornings we hope that there is information, inspiration, and importation in the various ministries that happen in our building. But Wednesday evenings are different. So, why Wednesdays?

Although it is often a significant time investment to attend Wednesday night services we think its worth it for the following reasons…

Programs for Children and Youth
The statistics are scary but our young people are being formed right in front of us. When parents come home from work in the evening they are often too tired to remember that their children are being shaped and molded by those people of influence in their lives. Children 2-5 spend an average of 32 hours a week in front of a TV. There is little doubt that they will be picking up the values that are being taught and presented as they are baptized into the philosophies of TV land. From primary grades on there is another 35 hours a week that are influencing and shaping our children. How can we ever imagine our children will pick up the values of our Christian homes by sending them to Children's Church for 1 ½ hours each week? Granted, the parents are supposed to be praying and demonstrating the Christian way of life for their children at home but even the best parent gets too weary to do a family devotion each night of the week. Wednesday nights at CLC has a program for every age. Ministry happens at each age level, reinforcing those timeless Christian truths and moral values that are ignored or, worse, countermanded in the schools. Of course, schedules demand that our kids need to be home for bed so we try to be ready to leave at 8:30 pm each Wednesday evening. Please consider your child's spiritual growth as you think about attending Wednesdays.

Discipleship for Adults
While the children and youth are learning at their level, we adults are spending time learning the Word. Wednesday nights is not simply another sermon. Each message is picked out with the idea that a teaching will be able to go a little deeper on Wednesday night. The teaching is preceded by a time of Worship, and usually there is a Going Deeper portion (on the Web) to further your study of the scriptures at home. Topics that have been recently addressed have been the Second Coming of Jesus, What the Bible says about sex, and the Heart of a Minister.These are three examples of teachings that wouldn’t have been able to be addressed as deeply except on a Wednesday night. Your spiritual growth is valuable too!

There is always a time for prayer over those issues that have sprung up in our lives. Crisis really doesn’t care what time of the day or night it is when it arrives. You can always find a brother or sister to pray with you during your time of need. Similarly, there is always a need for people like you to minister to the brothers and sisters around you. We need each other and we need to grow in knowledge and in the use of the spiritual gifts.

So we really hope that you will think about Wednesday’s and make a concerted effort to choose to come out. We know that schedules are challenging and getting dinner on the table can be a hassle too. But we think it is worth it… eternally.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

A Pastoral Response on the Refugees

In these days there are questions about the response of Christians to the plight of refugees. So much vocal angst and consternation over the change in US immigration policy fills the social spaces on our internet. Each side claiming love and common sense; each side pointing fingers of accusation against the other. There is no doubt that this political divide can and does impact the church of Jesus Christ with disunity and division.

We must approach this dilemma on three levels. Firstly, each of us come as individual followers  of Jesus to the refugee. We are certain that God’s heart is for those who are genuinely sojourning to America for a refuge from persecution and hardship. God revealed his desire in the Old Testament as he was speaking to Israel’s theocracy, when he told us to embrace and be kind to the alien and stranger. As individual followers of Christ we must not allow distrust of those different than ourselves to guide our individual relationships. Hatred and prejudice are, of course, out of place in the heart of the believer in Jesus Christ. Each of us should reach out in kindness to those who have made the difficult journey to America. Embracing those of other ethnic and religious backgrounds is the first act of divine love an individual can take. Out of these friendships that develop come learning and appreciation, a good citizenry, and powerfully redemptive relationships.

We also come to this issue as a church gathered. We are embracing every color and background in the fellowship of the Son each week as we gather. Those of us here at CLC need only look around to see the vibrant assortment of people from many backgrounds. What ever the church does, we must remain openly redemptive toward those who are curious about our Savior. Churches can and should sponsor immigrant families into the neighborhood and work to Influence our citizenry with ESL classes and citizenship classes. We are called to reach those around us with the love of Christ. As we feed and cloth the needy and work to heal the hurting in our community we are extending the hand of Christ to all, teaching about our God.

There is a third way that American Christians respond to immigrants. That is through the policy of the government. While the government is tasked with securing and keeping Americans safe, it must balance both the individual moral mandates of the individuals with the obligations of the state. What I see argued so often on social media is a challenge to the governmental institutions. America is not a theocracy, nor do we ever want it to be such. Individual moral perspectives and mandates can influence but not drive the policy of governments because we live in a pluralistic society. Government is privy to information that we do not have, works under a mandate that neither individual Christians nor the Church have, and must balance immigration policy with border security.  As such we must challenge the status quo of the government with the proclamation of God’s heart for the alien and stranger but to do so with an understanding of the complexity of the mandate.

Oversimplifications, and often unbiblical statements, representing Christ by both extremes works violence against the Church of Jesus. Last year (2015) the Assemblies of God invested $211.1 million overseas. Each preaching point that is developed preaches the acceptance of a loving God and works to strengthen and reinforce local churches, families, and individuals. A person comes to the Lord Jesus in an Assemblies of God church every 20 seconds. A good deal of that investment in overseas mission work is with the poorest of the poor, in countries that are facing governmental destabilization. Some are in countries affected by the latest travel restrictions. Please saints, let us pray for the resolution of the problems of the poor, the refugee, and the immigrant. And may we also work for unity in the church and in America as well.