Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Restore Us Again

Restore Us Again

Psalm 85

Take the time today to read Psalm 85. It is focused on asking for a national revival like no other Scripture. The psalmist recognizes God’s powerful hand in Israel’s past events and pleads, “Restore us again, O God our Savior” (verse 4). It is clear that an attitude of dependence on God has to be the sole desire of the heart if the Lord is to be gracious and respond positively to the prayer, “Will you not revive us again?” (verse 6).

When you look at history, you can see where there were periods of what is termed, “Great Awakenings.” It is when the world falls into times of slumber or passivity, or relies on more of the standards of the world rather than God’s standards. Some believe there have been five Great Awakenings beginning in and around the 1730s. In essence, it is a great revival that sweeps across the land. A re-emphasis of Wesleyan teachings on sanctification emerged during the second Great Awakening around the beginning of the 1800s.

The outcomes of these great revivals are that hearts are hungry for God to move on every facet of life. Prayer groups begin to rise up and call on the name of the Lord. The young and old come together to pray for revival to stir our land throughout all generations.

I am calling our church to come and pray like never before. We have several things to pray for in our nation and our local church. We need to pray in such a way that if we don’t, then God won’t move among us. Intense dependency on God will lay the groundwork for another Great Awakening in Findlay, Ohio. It could stir our people to see God’s hand at work in our everyday lives.

Saturate this week on Psalm 85. Ask the Lord to change your heart, to fill it to overflowing so that the world may know the power and authority that only comes from Jesus. Apart from Him, there is no power and authority.

Starting next Wednesday from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m., we will meet in our sanctuary to pray down the glory of God. We are working on different creative ways to begin our prayer session each time we come together. If you are able to come for all or part of it, please come and go as your schedule allows. If you have responsibilities during that time, then pray from where you are or pray in the day sometime. This is a time of corporate prayer which is different than your personal prayer. We don’t come together corporately every day, but we come together on this day to agree and pray together. Would you join us?

I believe that our services will be more powerful, our influence will get stronger, our families will be more engaged and fulfilled,  and our lives will be more fruitful. I am excited for what God is going to do. Restore us again O God our Savior!

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Seasons of Life

The Seasons of Life

Vickie and I used to live in Orlando, Florida. It was back in the early 1990s. I could especially remember the winters. It would get cold but not as cold as Ohio. We would come home for Christmas in Ohio, get our snow fix, then head back down to the sunshine of Florida. We enjoyed living there but we enjoy experiencing the different season changes better. Vickie really missed the different season changes so we decided to move back up north. We moved to Cleveland of all places. To say it lightly, that was a shock to our system. We went from no snow to snow squalls. I had never heard of that before. Living near the lake, we would have these gusts of snow called snow squalls. It would be an immediate whiteout. I will never forget the two years we lived in Florida and sometimes look back and wonder if the exchange was worth it. The older I get the more I think on those things.

One of the advantages of living in Ohio is that we have five seasons. We have Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, and construction. The season of construction seems to never end. If you get on I-75 and travel north or south, the chances of having a delay are pretty good either direction since there are a plethora of the dreaded orange cones.

All throughout Scripture it talks about seasons. In Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon begins by saying that “there is a time for everything season for every activity under the heavens”(Ecclesiastes 3:1). He goes on to list many things from being born to dying, from planting to uprooting, from tearing down to building up, the list is exhaustive.

I have noticed that people tend to experience different seasons in their life. Some may be in spring with new exciting things taking place while others are in winter where things are dark and dreary. Not everyone lives in the same season at the same time. I have also noticed that If we stay in a season too long then there seems to be side effects that are unavoidable. Seasons need to be constantly changing for proper growth and maturity to take place. This summer has felt like spring in so many ways. Flooding is the side effect of too much rain. I think Sunday started our summer season if you were to ask me. There is one thing that is certain, God plans to mature us in our seasons.

The disciples have always been fascinated with when Jesus was going to return and establish His kingdom. Even today people get caught up in trying to predict His return. In Acts 1:6 it says, “Then they gathered around Him and asked Him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?’” Jesus responded by saying, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). In the English Standard Version of the Bible, it refers to “knowing the times or seasons.” Ultimately, seasons are set by the authority of our Father in heaven. He ultimately determines the seasons and we experience them as they come.

In the church there are seasons as well. This fall will be a season of harvest as people return from vacations and get back into the routine again. We strategically place revival on the calendar in October. Revival doesn’t happen because we place it on the calendar. It has to be sought after, prayed in, and willingly entered into. I guess some also come kicking and screaming. To experience fully a season and get out of it what God intends, there has to be a preparation. If the farmer didn’t sow seed, then the harvest would not be plentiful.

On Wednesday, we have set aside time from 6 a.m. – 7 a.m. to pray for our church, our nation, our families, and whatever the Lord brings to our hearts. If our prayer time on Wednesday determined the amount of revival we would experience in our services, then we would be in trouble. I want to change the time to 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. beginning in August. This may allow others to join us as we come together as a church for this hour of power. We have revival scheduled for October 18-21. I need several people from our church to join me in praying for the spirit of revival to fill our church. Would you join with me as I pray? Let’s prepare for the season of harvest the Lord wants to bring our church.

I’m looking forward to seeing the Lord move in power and strength on Sunday. Pray with me as we anticipate His presence.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Full Extent of His Love

The Full Extent of His Love

There is a beautiful passage of Scripture found in John 13:1-17. It is where Jesus knows that His time on earth is short. So He got up from the meal and began to prepare to wash the disciples' feet. Imbedded in these 17 verses, there are many biblical concepts that would feed you for several weeks. The issue of Judas Iscariot, who was to betray Jesus, was present and accounted for. What was going through Judas’ mind when Jesus was washing his feet? What was going through the mind of Jesus when He was washing his feet? Then there is the verse where Jesus says, “Unless I wash you, you have no part of me” John 13:8. This is showing the cleansing power of Jesus. He truly does want to cleanse us from all of our sin. There is an all or nothing element to this verse. There is so much to saturate and ponder on in these verses.

During this Vacation Bible Adventure week, I want to put our focus on the last part of this passage. 

12 When He had finished washing their feet, He put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ He asked them.13 ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord,” and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’” (John 13:12-17).

This is a clear picture of what it means to be a servant. In the last part of verse 1, it says, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Some translations say, “He now showed them the extent of His love.” Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to show the disciples how much He loved them. Nothing could stop Him from fully showing them His love. Then He says to go and do what I have done. He even tells us that we will be blessed if we do them.

I can’t help but get excited during Vacation Bible Adventure. It is five days of songs, crafts, Bible stories, games, and snacks. My mother reminded me that when I was a child, they used to have VBS for two full weeks. I don’t know how the workers survived. I guess that’s another story in and of itself. Don’t worry, there are some things not worth repeating, if you know what I mean. But to watch all the children come and learn more about the love of Jesus is exciting. To see parents come and bring their children who entrust us to show them the truth of God’s Word. There have been over 113 kids here each night. That is the largest attendance we have ever had. To think that with each child there is a different story. We don’t know all the things these children face. Some are new to church. Some come to church every week and know what it is to follow Jesus. I can’t help to get excited because of the impact we are making in the Kingdom of God.

The other element that excites me is the number of volunteers who are serving these children. What a privilege to serve alongside of so many people who love Jesus and love children. We have over 60 workers giving of themselves each night. They are being the feet and hands of Jesus. I don’t think we will fully know the impact we are having on these families. There are several things that we do know. We love people when we serve them. We show the love of Jesus when we serve them. We lead by serving and serve by leading. We are blessed beyond measure when we serve them. I know that it is great to be at a church that loves children and gets excited to bring them to Jesus.

This Sunday we will be gathering in the Family Life Center during the second service. In both services we will see the highlights for the week. Here is one thing that we will also do – serve. Come to church ready to serve and love these little ones. There are so many ways that everyone participates in our church. From prayer to encouragement, to teaching and chasing after the rowdy ones, there are never too many helpers. For when you love these little ones, you are loving their families. Tonight is only the 3rd night. It is not too late to invite some new families to participate in this great week. Also, following the service on Sunday we will be enjoying a picnic and the kids will be enjoying fun-filled activities. Come, bring a dish to share, and enjoy the fellowship of the church doing what we do best – serving in the name of Jesus. There will be places to eat outside under a tent or inside the FLC. Remember to bring a friend to experience the excitement.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Faith for the Journey

Faith for the Journey

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does”   James 1:2-8.

We all face trials every day. It is the nature of living in this fallen world. James encourages us to consider it pure joy when we face trials. When was the last time you rejoiced in your trials? Sounds like a lofty goal that is impossible to accomplish. When in the midst of trials, it is hard to believe that we can actually grow from unwanted circumstances. Many times we can look back and see many things the Lord has accomplished through us and for us. I understand that all of that doesn’t help us when we are in the midst of a trial. It doesn’t erase the fact that God will help us through. We need to be constantly reminded that God is there to help us through. He will use our time of saturating in the Scripture in past days, people in the present who have gone through similar trials, and hope in a future with a loving God who cares where we are at all times. God gives wisdom generously, not holding anything back.

When it boils down to it, everything that happens is a testing of our faith. Misunderstandings, loss, difficult circumstances from our own making or just because we are in the wrong place at the wrong time are just a few to mention. It doesn’t help at the time to know that we can be strengthened in our relationship with the Lord. Notice James mentions that if we don’t believe then we are going to be tossed around by the wind. One person will say one thing, the voices in the world will say another, the voice inside my head will say even another, and we will be unstable in our thinking when we try to apply a little from each one of these sources in order to cope. When it’s all said and done, it is what the Lord has to say about our trials that matters the most. What is God saying to you in the midst of your trial? Many have not removed themselves from the pattern of this world long enough to hear the voice of God.

If you want to mature in the faith and persevere to the point of lacking nothing, then turn to God through His Word and through prayer. Your faith will be better for it if you only simplify and go directly to the source of life. I know that is a simple answer, but that is what it is. Sometimes we make it too difficult. James reminds us that it is going to be our belief in the God who provides everything we need that will help us to soar over our trials. Trials will still come, but it will only get you closer to where God wants you to be.

We are in unstable days as a Nation. People are more concerned with the voice of this world than they are the voice of God. Let me remind you that God is our source and strength. No matter how big the trial, God is bigger. Turn to God before you turn to Facebook. Turn to God before you get the opinion of others. Turn to God!

I am looking forward to worshipping on Sunday. We are going to continue to look at Matthew 23 and seek the heart of the only stable presence we have in our life – the Almighty God. Come and anticipate the Lord to speak to you and give you an increased faith that will complete you through and through.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Stand for Marriage

Stand for Marriage: Responding to the S.C.O.T.U.S. Ruling  from June 26, 2015

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The Supreme Court handed down their ruling, “redefining” marriage. However, God has already ruled on marriage from the beginning in the book of Genesis. One man and one woman in a marriage covenant relationship for life is the divine pattern expressed throughout the Bible. Jesus declared:

 Have you not read that at the beginning, the Creator made them male and female, and said: `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate (Matthew 19:4-6).

A good marriage enables people to be happier, live longer, and build more economic security. But it is not just about the individual. Marriage is an exclusive union that takes its distinctive character from being founded, unlike other friendships, on this bodily unity that sometimes generates new life. Certainly, marriage has value in itself and not just as a means to procreation. Yet marriage is the form of relationship that is uniquely suited for childrearing, which is why it is a matter of vital public concern and not just a “private matter.” In fact, marriage is a public, social contract for which the law requires witnesses. Why? It has profound implications for the common good, for the health of society.

Marriage impacts children. Wherever possible, children should be reared in the context of the bond between the two parents whose marital union gave them life. Research shows that when both genders are represented in the parenting role, children have the best opportunity for health, wellbeing, development, and success in life. Every civilization has been built upon the institution of marriage. It is the foundation. The happiness and success of individuals, the welfare and security of children, and the soundness of society, are all largely dependent upon the stability of marriage according to the divine pattern. Regardless of Court rulings, we must stand for marriage.

Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage
What does it mean? The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex “marriage” is a constitutional right on the basis of the majority’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. As a result:
  • “Marriage” is now a genderless institution that discards the important, unchangeable, and unique roles that mothers and fathers play in parenting. 
  • Each state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 
  • Laws and ordinances based on the ruling will pose enormous risks to the future of our First Amendment religious liberty.

What remains the same? God is on His Throne as the “Supreme Judge of the World” as our Founders recognized in the Declaration of Independence. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
  • God has ruled that marriage is between one man and one woman. His ruling is authoritative and final, regardless of what Courts rule.
  • All are sinners and the Gospel offers full reconciliation and forgiveness to anyone who repents of sin, trusts in and follows Jesus Christ (Mark 1:14- 15), including those who participate in LGBT behavior (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
  • Affirmation of Biblical marriage (and opposition to same-sex “marriage”) is not hatred or bigotry. It is grounded in the teachings of Scripture and affirmed by Christ Himself (Gen. 1-2; Matt. 19:4-6).
  • Christians must “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) regardless of the consequences that come as a result of our beliefs on marriage.
What should be our response? Believers should respond as Jesus would: with "grace and truth" (John 1:14).
  • Model Christ to those who identify as LGBT, struggle with same-sex attraction or their God-given sexual identity (John 8:1-11).
  • Resist the temptation to despair and lose hope. His Kingdom will prevail.
  • Repent of the ways our own churches have downgraded marriage and resolve to restore the Biblical standard in our homes. 
  • Ensure that your church has an explicit Biblical statement on Marriage and Sexuality within its Statement of Faith/Doctrine, Constitution and Bylaws, Property-Use Documents, and Personnel Policies. State clearly that advocates or practitioners of other points of view, while welcome to attend, may not be members, allowed to marry, serve as personnel, etc.
  • Support the First Amendment Defense Act introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). Call (202) 224-3121.