Connect with Christ

“Can you sum up the entire Bible in one sentence?”  This question has been asked of me before and I’ve also posed it to others.  I’ve heard many interesting answers, such as “God’s instructions to us so that we can live,” or “God’s plan for the redemption of mankind from their sins.”  These are some of the better answers that I’ve been given—some weren’t thought out very well, so I won’t share those.  I want to give you an opportunity to answer this question before you continue to read this article.  Can you sum up the entire Bible in one sentence?

So what was your answer?  When I answer this question, I see the Bible revealing the heart of God to connect with His people.  When we start in Genesis, we notice that God created Adam and Eve in order to have a relationship with them.  Even after the fall, God continues to give people opportunities to connect with Him, and even paying the price Himself for this connection to take place.  God longs to connect with you!

We spent time in the month of June dealing with the steps that are necessary to take in order to accomplish our vision of “Living for God: Loving His People.”  We need to understand that our greatest purpose as a church is to make sure that people connect with Jesus.  While this is a simple phrase, we need to understand what this looks like, and how we plan to connect people with Jesus.

First of all, we connect people with Jesus through the message of the gospel.  A.B. Simpson, the founder of The Alliance, spent incredible amounts of time reaching for the disenfranchised and outcasts of society on the boat docks of New York City.  We need to be a people who are doing the same things. 

We are working with our ministries to develop strategies to equip people to talk about Jesus.  We also realize that connecting people with the message involves getting the message to the masses.  We do this through personal relationships (talking about Jesus with your friend or coworker).  We also use the benefits of technology to share the truth of Christ with our community, and even the world!

We also connect with Jesus through our worship services.  We are working hard to make sure that the music, Scripture passages, preaching, technology, and other creative outlets are leading people into the presence of our Lord Jesus and helping them connect with the Savior!

Jesus longs for a deep relationship with the people He created.  Some know Him, some do not.  My friends, we need to be in the business of seeing people connect with Jesus in deep, meaningful ways.    

Stir It Up

Everyone has questions that they want to have answered.  As a pastor, I’ve had my share of questions, but I’ve also had people come and ask me questions.  Most of them have to do with faith issues or “what does the Bible say about this” kinds of questions.  They are important and are in need of an answer.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you didn’t have anyone to ask these questions?  What would it be like to be pressed into a situation in your life where you needed to make a decision or take a stand but had no one to help you through this decision making process?  I oftentimes ponder these thoughts when someone comes to me and makes the statement “I love Jesus, but I just don’t need the church.”  This is such a gross misunderstanding of what God really intends for us, His Children, to have in our lives.

The writer of the book of Hebrews tackles this issue in chapter 10.  In verses 19-22, the writer points out that since Jesus has paid our way to enter the holy presence of God, we are urged to draw near to Him with complete assurance that God longs for us to be there and that Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient enough to get us there. 

But the writer goes on in v. 24-25 to discuss a very important point, where he says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  We find in this passage a very important point—we were never meant to live a life of faith alone.  Christ calls us to community—to sharing our life’s struggles and successes with each other and encouraging one another to grow to know Jesus more and more. 

Scripture shows us that our lives are missing something if we don’t live in community with the church.  We have been extremely blessed as a congregation to see God growing our church.  This excites me greatly.  But I also know that some in our midst are missing out on a great blessing because of a fear of getting too close to others. 

I want to challenge each of you to take the risk and introduce yourself to someone you might not know, or speak a word of encouragement to someone who looks lost or pray for someone who needs the touch of God or wisdom in a particular situation.  It might be a good idea even to share a meal with this person.  Whatever God directs you to do, be faithful to do it. Let’s be a church that is interested in stirring each other up to love and good works.

Time to Suit Up

Originally Posted February 27, 2015 By Pastor Adam

I was watching CNN the other morning and the discussion, I must admit, was one that made me both examine the situation thoughtfully and also go to prayer.  The host and the guest were talking about the ongoing terror threats that are happening in the Middle East and also around the world, such as in some African nations and even here in the United States.  These reports were discussing the thought of whether or not these actions were that of a religious war.  I must admit that I tuned out a little after the host posed the question to hear the conclusions that were made, but I began to think on this question–are we really at war?

To be honest, Scripture tells us that we are at war.  But we’re not at war with who we think–we’re not at war with any human being, whether he/she is a believer in Islam, Buddhism, or any other religion.  The Apostle Paul had this same conversation with the Ephesian church, and in chapter 6:12 our enemy is clearly identified.  He says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  We are engaged in a war between the forces of good and evil.

We, as believers, have a responsibility to engage in this fight.  But it’s not in the way that you might be thinking.  Our engagement in this fight, as Paul counsels the Ephesian church, consists of two points.  First of all, we need to suit up with the armor of God.  If you’re not familiar with this term, the armor of God is a use of symbolism to get the faithful to be totally enveloped in God to use Him as our defender.  When we engage in this battle, we need to have protection, and only God is sufficient enough for the task.

Secondly, we have a responsibility to be on offense as well.  We are fortunate to have some powerful weapons at our disposal–the Word of God and Prayer.  Friends, the only way we can fight and make a difference in the world today is to live by the authority and power of Scripture and to seek God through prayer to do His work.  When we fight the battles of prayer, only then will this battle truly be won.

I am troubled by all of this.  I hate the fact that there is all of this trouble, killing, and sorrow in the world.  But, I do believe in the ONE who is the victor in all of this–our Lord Jesus Christ.  With the certainty of the victory, my challenge to each of you is that you suit up for the fight and become a warrior for the Lord as you pray for this world.  Pray that people would find the true hope that is only found in Jesus.

Something Special

Originally Posted February 11, 2015 By Pastor Adam

It is incredibly hard to ignore, based on the amount of commercials that have been streaming over the television and webpages lately, that Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching.  I was amazed yesterday when I observed my daughter gawking over a 4 feet tall stuffed bear!  The toy is taller than she is, and yet she thought that it was the best thing since sliced bread!  Some people hate the commercialism of Valentine’s Day or even think that the holiday is a conspiracy between the chocolate companies and Hallmark.  While I don’t believe that it is a conspiracy, one thing has to be noted–Valentine’s Day is a special day.

It’s important for us to come to the understanding of why Valentine’s Day is important.  I do have to say, the holiday isn’t about the gifts or chocolates or flowers or dinner.  It’s not about wearing red or exchanging Valentine’s cards.  Valentine’s Day is about love.  Not simply the emotional response of love, but the real, life-giving love that first comes from God and then that we express to those around us.

I want you all to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year–not for the commercial reasons, but for this simple reason: when we celebrate love we celebrate God because God is love.  With this in mind, I pray that you all have a blessed day doing something special with the ones you love.

A Quick Thought

Originally Posted December 29, 2014 By Pastor Adam

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over.  We’ve been discussing the Advent season and Christmas ministries among our office staff since September!  I know that I was so blessed by the ministries and services this year, and I’ve heard from many others that the same could be said of them as well.  God really showed up in a big way in the lives of our church, and I pray that He will continue to do so in the lives of the everyone who’s checking out this blog today and for those who are really, honestly, and passionately seeking the Lord Jesus on a daily basis.

Since we put so much time and effort into the Christmas ministries, as a pastor I need a break.  I packed up my car on Christmas day and headed out for some much-needed R&R.  My family and I have been having a wonderful time of just having some fun with each other.  I always bring a book for the down time that I have and pray that the Lord would renew my spirit and allow me to rest.  I would not normally post to my blog while on vacation, but there was such a great lesson that came to me yesterday that I had to take some time to remind us all about it, especially as we look with anticipation for the coming of 2015.

I chose the book “The Fourfold Gospel” by A.B. Simpson to read this week.  If you’re not familiar with this book, A.B. Simpson was the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the denomination that I pastor in (check outwww.cmalliance.org for more information on who we are and what we do and how to get involved).  This book outlines something that he called the Fourfold Gospel–that we see Jesus as our Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King.  Because of my background with The Alliance, these terms are not new to me.  But, in the middle of the section on Christ as Savior, a very simple yet profound thought came to me.  I realized how often we as human beings attempt to forge past the basics and feast on the deep truths, and yet forget that the basics are the deepest of truths.  As I was reading through the pages, there weren’t any new great truths revealed, no greater and deeper instruction into theological principles, just an unwavering commitment to fully understand the basics of my own salvation, which led me to a very wonderful time of praise.

Everyone, we live in a world that it constantly tempted to press on for that which is new, when we might in fact find the new in what we would consider the very basics.  As we go through 2015, my prayer for you and for me is that we would settle down and listen to God as He continues to minister to us these very basics that, to be quite frank, many of us still struggle to understand.  Oh what a blessing awaits when we fully grasp who Christ is in our lives.  May God richly bless you in this upcoming year!

Checking In

Originally Posted November 11, 2014 By Pastor Adam

I have recently posted and also have spoken during my morning messages about the importance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  I’ve made the challenge, and I hope that many of you are taking it up, of making a list of all of the things that you have to be thankful for to God.  I hope that your list is long as you have seen God interact and show up constantly in your daily life.

So, how is your list?  What things on your list surprised you that you remembered?  Did you record any answered prayers?  Healings?  New relationships?  I have been working on mine lately and have been brought into great times of worship and praise simply by thinking of these great things that God has done.

Please feel free to share with me something that you’re thankful to God for.  Nothing provides greater encouragement in the Lord than to see Him working in the lives of His people.

A Great Thought From a Random Place

Originally Posted October 17, 2014 By Pastor Adam

I have quite and eclectic taste when it comes to movies and music.  I would have absolutely no problem listening to Aerosmith and then changing the station to listen to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.  Some people think that it’s a little weird, but I think that it adds a little spice to life.  I also have a wide range of movies that I like.  I can watch action or mystery shows and then be totally singing along to a musical, all in the same day.

Just about a week ago was one of those days when a musical was just what the doctor ordered.  I was searching around for just the right one, and I happened across the old musical from the 1950s entitled Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  To me, this is one great film, where Adam, the oldest of the 7 brothers, went to town one day in search of supplies and a wife.  While many of the townfolk thought he was crazy, he did end up with a wife that day.  The new bride, Millie, ended up refining and teaching manners to the other brothers and they ended up doing some crazy stunts, even kidnapping (in a really lighthearted way that only a musical can do) in order to get their gals.  It really is a great show.

There’s one song in the movie that is reprised later on that Millie sang to Adam on their wedding night entitled “When You’re in Love.”  There’s a line from this song has stuck with me and that I’ve found really fits.  It goes like this: When You’re in love, Really in love, there’s no way on earth to hide it.  Wow!  This is so true.  Just look at a newlywed couple, and you have all you can do to not comment because of their displays of affection, flirting, loveletters, etc.  You can totally tell that they are in love.

Many of us claim to love God.  I hope that you truly do.  But as the lyric to the song suggests, if you’re really in love with God, there should be no way of hiding that fact from people.  They should just simply know.  But the opposite is true as well–if they can’t tell that you love God, I think we have to seriously look at ourselves and see if we really do or not. I pray that you do!!

Reinforcement

Originally Posted October 7, 2014 By Pastor Adam

This past Sunday’s message really challenged me.  After having a message about what a Living Faith looks like, it would be easy for us to go home depressed and saddened because it sometimes seems like we don’t even come close to living up to what Christ as set out for us to be.  I must admit, that this thought came into my mind during the week of preparation for the message.  But as we left church on Sunday, this wasn’t the feeling that came over me.  Instead, I got the feeling that a precious bit of truth was being reinforced in me–one that can change the entire way I live.  The truth that God had implanted in me was that it’s not about the results being born out in my life, but instead the main point is that it is about my soul’s surrender to Christ and the fruit comes from that act of surrender.  This really is Christ’s desire for us–not that we’re concerned with the type and amount of fruit, but the results of a transformed life that comes through a life that is fully surrendered to Christ.  This is true fruit.

What has God been saying to you about this?  Are you bearing the fruit of the Lord?  The only way to do this is to be fully surrendered to Christ, letting Him live through you.  Then you will be bearing a fruit that will truly last.

Don't Get Robbed

Originally Posted on September 25, 2014 By Pastor Adam

Over the past week, it seems that there’s just one thing after another that keeps me swamped in busyness.  There always seems to be a ton to do at work, and the pile seems to multiply on a daily basis.  There’s always projects at home that need to be completed, school events that I want to go to, and the list just continues to grow.  I do know that I am not the only one who faces these issues.  We live in a culture that continues to move like a washing machine on the spin cycle!  There’s always more to do.

I oftentimes ask if this is how God intended life to be–constant busyness?  Does God want us to have to learn how to multitask in order to simply keep up?  As I’ve looked through the Scriptures, we see God’s heart clearly as it relates to this.  God warns us against a life of busyness and stress.  God longs for us to be a people who work hard, but that we also value the more important things–spending time with Him, enjoying the very things that He placed on this earth for us to enjoy (His creation, people, etc.).

The question that God has been posing to me (and that I want to share with you today) is how are we doing in this area?  Are we too busy and stressed to be able to take the time to develop relationships or even to spend with God?  If this is what our life looks like, I believe we’re missing out on the greatest blessing of life–being with God Himself.

You Just Never Know

Originally Posted September 17, 2014 By Pastor Adam

It shouldn’t amaze me, but it oftentimes does, when we hear of the church worldwide going through incredible difficulties.  Today we received news that some workers that are helping to educate people in West Africa about the ebola virus were attacked by a gang and some of the members were taken hostage, with no leading (at the time of this writing) of their location.  It is hard for me to sometimes stomach the fact that these people were simply spreading the love of Christ not by crusading demanding conversion, but simply by trying to share information on how to stop the spread of this deadly disease.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I spent a lot of time in prayer over this today, and there was a post on Facebook that a friend of mine made recently, reminding us of how Christ wants us to act and view a situation like this.  The blog wasn’t advocating a military solution, or political isolationism.  It wasn’t a call to hate or cut off or run away from, but in fact was reminding us of the fact that we are to love our enemies.  God is the God of love, not of hate.  We find throughout Scripture that Christ never once looked to retaliate on His enemies–He chose to come to this earth and preach the message, hoping that they would turn to Him and experience His grace.  This is the exact same thing He longs for in this situation–that His grace would be extended to all.

I’m asking you all tonight to pray for these people–the captives and their captors.  Pray for safety.  Pray for grace and compassion.  Pray that God will accomplish His will and that all glory will be given to Him.  Once we rest in that statement, we realize that God is in control of everything and that our heart’s desire is simply to glorify Him.