Despite the chilly spring weather, summer is coming which means that children and teens will be finishing school and enjoying the summer before we know it. Summer is an active season for youth and children’s ministry, and this summer there is opportunity for you to serve too! You will find three ways below.
1) Youth students will be signing up for LIFE 2019, the national Alliance youth conference, soon. It aims to make disciples, call young people into ministry, and celebrate mission around the world. Next July, we will catch a plane to Orlando Florida where students will encounter God and be challenged to follow him. You can support a student by grabbing a marked envelop from the youth connection board and donating the amount listed!
2) We will host “Time Lab VBS” from June 25-29th (9a-12p). We are diligently making preparations, but we could still use your help. A volunteer sign up sheet it located on the table in the foyer our donation supply needs will be posted on the green board near the coat rack. Join us for a brief VBS meeting on May 6 (immediately after church) to see how you can serve with us!
3) Once again, we will host jr. youth group every other week during the summer months. Thrive Jr. will begin on May 30th; we will meet Wednesday Nights from 6-7:30P. Children entering 3rd grade to entering 6th grade are welcome to come!
“Be careful it’s a jungle out there!” How many times has this saying been true in life? Life can be a jungle filled with unknown dangers, hardships, insects and animals that can do us great harm. The world becomes a place where we can feel dispirited and depressed. We need an oasis instead of a jungle! We need a place where we can find refreshment, nourishment and support. God has given us such an oasis in the church!
The church is a community of believers who are to serve, love and encourage one another. Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica to, “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).
Two aspects stand out for us. First, encouraging one another was a way of life for the Christians in Thessalonica. Paul points out that is exactly what they are doing! The Church saw this as a part of their Christian life with one another. Second, encouraging one another is the responsibility of every believer. Paul is not writing this to the pastor of the church as if this role is his responsibility and his alone. No, he is writing to every believer encouraging them to continue in living out their faith in this way. Every Christian is to take part in this type of ministry towards one another. It can be as simple as a listening ear, a word of prayer, a card or note in the mail, saying hello… the list is endless!
In the Book of Acts, we are introduced to a man named Barnabas. His name means “son of encouragement.” I’m sure Barnabas was a like a cold drink on a blistering hot day-really refreshing!! When the Church encourages each other we refresh weary believers, we strengthen those who doubt, and the Body becomes a welcome place, a refuge from the jungle that is the world.
So how will you be a Barnabas to someone today?
Used by God
Do you want to be used by God? Do you want to make a difference in this life and in the life of those around you? You might be frustrated or unsure that you can because there’s nothing outstanding about our gifts and abilities. We are normal, ordinary people. God has gifted some with remarkable gifts but many of us are just normal. Does God use normal people? He sure does!
The late Dr. Howard Hendricks had a slogan: “God uses F.A.T. people.” God uses people who are Faithful, Available, and Teachable.
God uses Faithful people, or people who are committed to Christ. The ones God uses love Him, serve Him and desire to know Him more. Is that you?
God uses Available people. These are the ones who may not “feel led” but are willing to be led by the Spirit. Available people are ones who take the step out of their comfort zone, even if it is a small step, to be used by God. Is that you?
God uses Teachable people. If you know it all then you are disqualified from service. But if you are eager to learn and can be taught and are willing to learn and gain experience, then this is the person God uses. Is that you?
None of those requirements need a Ph.D or Billy Graham’s gifts in evangelism. What is required is a heart that is postured toward being a moldable servant of God, willingness to be led by Him and a love to serve Him.
This year as we seek to GROW in Grace and knowledge, in Relationships, in Outreach and Works of service- seek to be used by God. You’ll be surprised at where He leads when we say “Here am I. Send me.” Is that you?
Addiction holds people in bondage and in darkness. Jesus came to set the captive free (Luke 4:16). The church has been given the mandate to go and preach the gospel so those in darkness can be set free (Matt 28:18-20; John 8:36). Drug addiction is not just a national problem, it is a problem in our own front yard. We have in our own community those trapped in the false promises of drugs who desperately need the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The outreach team has met 3 times to talk, discuss and plan to meet the needs of those addicted and their families. The family is the one who also walks this lonely road, at times overlooked. The greatest need is to be set free! Since it is our desire to proclaim the gospel to all people we have planned a special night for those in addiction and their families.
On May 5 at 7pm we will have an evangelistic service with special speaker Ken Hawkins. Ken is a redeemed former addict who is now a church planter in the CMA. The church plant called Really Recovered specializes in reaching addicts. Our goal is to see lives “redeemed and transformed”. To that end we will be developing a support group for those caught in addiction and their families with the hopes that God would give them new life. The group will revolve around 3 main aspects: Prayer, Share and Care. Prayer for one another, Share Jesus (by reading the Gospel of John), and Care for those in need.
God has placed our church here specifically for this time to be lighthouse of truth, hope and life. There is both help and hope – His name is Jesus! We cannot do this alone and we need your help.
Here are some ways you can help
1. Pray: Starting next Sunday after service we will meet to pray for this event and the support group every Sunday until May 5. Consider staying after to seek God in prayer.
2. Promote: We have invite cards coming and other promo materials to hand out. Consider a simple task of making this known. We need your help!
3. Support: We need Christians who are willing to be used by God to help support these families. Consider being part of a support team (training included) to see lives transformed! Sign up on the back table if you are interested or want more information.
Our vision for student and children’s ministry is to make disciples who reflect the Focus Five Core Values: Christ-centered, Changed, Consistent, Connected, and Contagious which we do by equipping them to take root in Jesus, know the truth of Jesus, and bear fruit through Jesus. Both ministries are running successfully and producing fruit. The student ministry meets Sunday morning and Sunday night while the children’s ministry meets Wednesday night and Sunday morning.
Last week, we took 8 students to Whiteout Youth Retreat at Beulah Beach; they engaged with the gospel and were encouraged to embrace the Christian life. The students had a blast with one young lady putting her faith in Jesus; praise God! Currently, students are submitting questions weekly, and I teach those questions during Sunday night youth ministry.
Children’s Church has changed in a big way. Our new curriculum, called What’s in the Bible?, covers the New Testament and its various teachings. Children’s church and AWANA have both received an upgrade to include and encourage students to worship.
I am really excited for the summer and look forward to all that God has in store. Please pray with us for several needs.
This past week another school shooting made the news, this time 17 people had lost their lives. We live in a time where violence is escalating, and incidents are on the rise. This leaves all of us not only saddened but also worried for our children’s protection.
A common reaction to this type of violence is to increase gun laws. Good laws are those that restrict a person ability to do evil or carry out a wicked act. So, making it harder for evil people to do accomplish evil should be a priority. God has placed governing authorities over society to restrain evil (Rom 13:3-4). But laws themselves do not stop evil.
Another common reaction is these acts take place because of video games, lack of discipline, participation awards and the like. While there may be hints of truth in each of those the root cause is found somewhere else. It is found in the Garden of Eden.
What we see today is the result of sin and immorality that came into our world in Genesis 3. We live in a sin infested world and deprave acts are the effects of sin upon the human race. The problems we find in the world are a direct result of the problem of sin.
Is there any hope? Yes there is! The hope is found in the Gospel. it is in the gospel where one receives a new nature or a new heart. This new disposition is not bent towards hurting one another but towards loving God and our neighbors.
Will there ever be an end to school violence? We pray there will be, but we also know where people are gathered, sin is present. The government has a responsibility to do what is in their power to help curb these incidents. The church also has a responsibility: preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must teach the younger generation the very heart of the gospel: we are sinners who are separated from God, we deserve His judgement and wrath but He has a substitute for us named Jesus. He took our sins and paid the penalty of death in our place. Those who turn from their sin and trust in Jesus will have everlasting life, forgiveness of sins and a new life. Pray for an awakening and a spiritual revival in our nation.
Outreach is reaching out to those around you. As Christians our reaching out is centered around a purpose. That purpose is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in hopes that one would repent of their sins and trust in Christ. Outreach goes by different names such as evangelism, sharing your faith, or being a witness.
We have been given our marching orders by our Commander in the Faith! It is found in Matthew 28:18- 20, also known as The Great Commission. Our Lord is sending us out to make disciples of all nations, armed with the gospel. Every believer is called to be an ambassador to the faith (2 Cor. 5:20). As ambassadors we represent Jesus and speak the message He has given to us.
Healthy Christians are ones who share their faith. There are times we’ve kept quiet when we knew it was a great opportunity to say something, and yet we didn’t. Don’t let those times hinder your growth. This is a new year and a new opportunity to grow in different ways.
Be reminded and encouraged that the Holy Spirit is your power source. Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses…” the Lord has empowered us all. Here’s some ways to get G.R.O.W-ing this year!
Considering our growth is important to the Lord and to our own maturity and health we must take it seriously. As we consider what it means to G.R.O.W. in 2018 our prayer is that we would develop as believers as a whole. Last week we looked at G- grow in grace and knowledge; become a well rounded mature Christian whose understanding is deepening about the life of faith. This week we’ll consider growing in R- relationships.
What kind of relationships are we talking about? The relationships that are to be highly valued are personal, deepening, supportive and faith-building relationships of love.
Relationships cannot be lived out in isolation. God has created the church as a community of believers who are to have communion and fellowship with one another. In fact, God has listed over 50 “one another” commands in the New Testament! These commands cannot be lived out away from the church. According to God, there can be no “Lone Ranger Christians.”
God has created the church for our benefit. The early church gathered together to pray for one another, study the Word of God together, for communion and fellowship with one another (Acts 2:42). Individual members strengthened other believers in this way and the benefits of fellowship with each other far outweigh the option of staying away.
How can we grow in our relationships this year? Here’s some suggestions
1. Move past superficiality- Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens”
Begin to move past “How you doing?” and begin to ask “how can I pray for you?” there starts a deepening and more personal relationship with other believers. As we move past a superficial relationship we will then begin to live out the law of Christ.
2. Seek to build supportive relationship -Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than receive”
We all need support!! Help the weak, strengthen the weary. Get to know another and walk with them in their journey
3. Develop faith building relationship- Hebrews 3:12-13
Encourage one another by helping them in their faith and in their battle against sin.
Growing as a Christian is so important that Peter opens and closes his second letter calling us to grow (1:2-11; 3:18). Growing is vitally important in the Christian life. We must never think that we have grown enough or become complacent with what we know about Jesus and the Christian life. We are to keep striving and growing. Peter tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Growing in grace means there is an ever- increasing understanding of the person and character of Jesus.
Pursuing maturity and deepening our knowledge of Jesus will lead us to stability in our faith and prevent us from being led astray. False teaching is a poison and the antidote is studying the Bible. Christians are to be exposed to the truth!
The result of growing is not “look at me!” but “look at Him!”. Peter ends the letter with a doxology, a statement of praise: “To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” The result of our growth is giving glory to God. It glorifies God when we grow and when we give ourselves to the studying of His Word. Will you commit to giving glory to God this year by studying His Word?
How will you grow in 2018? Here are some ways you can bring glory to God: