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.

Redeemed for God's Purposes

I am often amazed, but never surprised, at the ways that God continues to work in this world and even in our church.  What amazes me is that even in a world that continues to grow increasingly darker each and every day and when even Christians wonder if evil will prevail, all of a sudden we see God display His mighty power and do something incredible.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, I sometimes fall into the trap of getting distracted by the things that the world tries to make evil or useless, but God has other intentions. 

One area where God is using incredibly in bringing His love and gospel to the community of Sidney and around the world is oftentimes a forgotten resource or even a hated one.  But rest assured, God is using this resource for His glory, and I believe has even more that He longs to accomplish in it, even when His church begins to write it off.  The resource that I’m addressing today is our Multi-ministry building (some would call it the MMB or the gym or any other nickname that suits a mood).  Some of you reading this remember the idea and construction phase of this building and the stories of how it came into being.  For many others in the congregation, you don’t have a clue what the MMB is, how it was built, or might not have even been in the building yet. 

As the pastor, I’ve had a chance to sit back and see how God is using this building to build His Kingdom.  Let me share some of the ministries and people who have benefited from the existence of the MMB.  It has been used for wedding receptions, birthday parties, Girl Scout Troops, the American Red Cross blood drives, the Salvation Army Christmas distributions, the Sidney Wrestling Team, and countless other outside groups.  It is always a pleasure to be able to share the love of Christ with these groups by allowing them and aiding them by using our facilities. 

It is not only the community that uses our facilities.  We have many church ministries that utilize the MMB—Faithweavers Kids Club uses it for game time on Wednesday evenings, our Monday Evening Volleyball night brings in people from all over (many who are not from this church or don’t even attend church) are coming and interacting with our church, the Youth Ministry uses it constantly.  We’ve had dinners, New Attendees Welcome times, Easter celebrations, softball practices, and many more.  In fact, there’s someone using the MMB almost every day!

So why am I telling you this?  Frankly, I think the MMB gets a bad rep as a useless, waste of money.  Friends this is not true.  This facility is being used by God to reach people and to transform lives.  So let me encourage you all in this—the things that we oftentimes write off as useless or dead are oftentimes redeemed by God for some great purposes.  I know that God has some great purposes yet for the MMB.  Please join me in praying that God would bring more glory to Himself through our use and stewardship of this priceless resource.