Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why do you serve?

Not long ago, as I was driving home after completing a wonderful memorial service for a family at our church, I saw the most precious sight: I saw a member of our church with two clear plastic bags in hand, walking around our parking lot picking up an assortment of trash.

I eventually pulled out onto Chicago Ave wondering what would prompt this person to take time out on a Saturday afternoon to pick up trash around the church. There were numerous college football games on TV, places to go and people to see. 
Yet step by step his clean up job covered the entire parking lot, even reaching in and around the bushes. This was not a committee or ministry team at work; this was a single person acting on some unknown impulse to make our facility look clean and free of debris and presentable for all who visit our church campus.

I did not take the time to speak to this person but I did wonder what prompted this man to serve our church in this way. I will never know because I did not ask him.

You can do the same too! Look around you. Is there something with your name written on it just waiting for your touch? Find it and do it!

Matthew 5: 16 is a great text to ponder. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

What do you say next?

This is a thought provoking article by Tony Payne, Publishing Director at Matthias Media. He talks about what we can say next to help our friends understand the gospel. Read and be encouraged!


You’re reading your Bible on the train, and you get chatting to the guy next to you. And as you quietly pray that God would give you an opportunity to share the gracious, salty words of the gospel, your new friend says, “You know, I don’t mean to offend, but to be honest I’ve never really understood why people read the Bible and go to church and all that. I’m a Christian, but to me it’s about the life you live, and how you treat people. Respecting others. Being ethical. But studying the Bible just seems to lead to disagreements and arguments.”
Now you are somewhat surprised to find such an engaging and articulate person sitting next to you, but this is a scenario, and people are like that in scenarios. In a flash of inspiration, you realize exactly what you should say next. “I think you’re right — people have lots of opinions about what it means to be a Christian, and sometimes they argue about it. But I read the Bible because I figure that if anyone really knows what it means to be a Christian, it would be God. And this is his book.” 
Thus comes the key moment. There are only three more stops before you have to get off the train. In the brief time that remains, what can you say next that will help your friend to understand the gospel?
You swallow a little nervously and say, “Actually, one of my favorite passages in the Bible describes in a nutshell exactly what it means to be a Christian. Do you mind if I show it to you?”
So here’s the question, and the point of the scenario: which Bible passage would you turn to?  And how would you explain briefly from it what a Christian is?
It would need to be a passage that said something about who Christ is, and what God has done for us in him. It would need to say something about the response that the gospel calls for — what it means to become a Christian. And it would need to be fairly simple and straightforward to understand at first reading, so that you could read it easily with a friend and point out the main points without fuss.
1 Peter 3:15 says that we should always be ready to do this; that is, to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that we have. Here’s a chance to get ready (if you’re not ready already).
Where would you turn, and what would you say?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Four reasons why the Presbyterian Church is "Deathly ill" Rev. Jim Singleton

The Presbyterian Church needs our prayers. We must fast and pray that God would revive our churches and bring us from death to life. Listen to Rev. Jim Singleton's analysis of the problem in this short video. Do you agree with him? Does any of this apply to First Pres Evanston?





Jim Singleton - PCUSA Fellowship - video 2 from Jim Singleton on Vimeo.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pray these words if you have the courage

Lord Jesus Christ,
I beg you to take
sovereign dominion,
custody and control
over my life today,
over my senses,
appetites, emotions
feelings, fears,
thoughts, and
broken will.

Lord, I am
willing to be
made willing.
Do not allow me to waste
one second mourning
the loss of anything
that is not your will
for my life.

Amen

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why do you serve?

Not long ago, as I was driving home after completing a wonderful memorial service for a family at our church, I saw the most precious sight: I saw a member of our church with two clear plastic bags in hand, walking around our parking lot picking up an assortment of trash.

I eventually pulled out onto Chicago Ave wondering what would prompt this person to take time out on a Saturday afternoon to pick up trash around the church. There were numerous college football games on TV, places to go and people to see. 
Yet step by step his clean up job covered the entire parking lot, even reaching in and around the bushes. This was not a committee or ministry team at work; this was a single person acting on some unknown impulse to make our facility look clean and free of debris and presentable for all who visit our church campus.

I did not take the time to speak to this person but I did wonder what prompted this man to serve our church in this way. I will never know because I did not ask him.

You can do the same too! Look around you. Is there something with your name written on it just waiting for your touch? Find it and do it!

Matthew 5: 16 is a great text to ponder. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lessons from the ants

Proverbs 6:6 says that wisdom can be gained by studying ants. Ants? yes. What could insignificant insects teach sophisticated human beings? 


Place a single fire ant in water and it would probably die; pour thousands of fire ants in water and they form a water repellent floating raft that allows them to survive for days.  
A team of researchers at Georgia Tech has established that fire ants bind together to create a water-tight raft. This research could have application to the construction of man-made flotation devices.


The video below proves once again that just as the ants cannot survive the challenges of nature alone, human beings cannot survive the challenges of life alone. What a wonderful rationale for the church in our lives. At its best, the church, bound together in the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, also forms a temptation-repellent, or despair-repellent raft that helps us all to overcome this world, the flesh and the devil. 


Let us recommit ourselves to being in community with each other and with the Lord. How are you  linked to your church? How does your community bind itself to you and help you stay afloat? Let me know what you think!   
have 


application to the 


construction of man-made flotation devices.

Discouragement

The following is a brief devotional written by Dr. Chuck Yopst, a retired pastor in our congregation. It blessed me and I hope it does the same for you. 

Inner Geography:  Discouraging Days

"What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?  O Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help."   (Psalm 30:9-10)

"Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life."   (Jeremiah 45:5)

"Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, 'Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me"?  I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.' "   (John 16:19-20.  After His Passover Lord's Supper on Maunday Thursday evening before His crucifixion in Jerusalem.)

"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)


My dear friends and fellow believers, I have had my share of discouraging days.  Death of my sister 50 years ago this month.  Out of work a couple of time because of jealous supervisors.  Automobile breakdowns in isolated places.  My self-esteem felt quite low in those times.  I could bore you with the list.  And you have your own uncomfortable lists.  What could I learn from this?  What could help me?  I share your feelings.  Been there.  Done that.  But how to improve?? 

I was pointed to some others who have suffered major let downs.

Joseph kidnapped and throw unjustly into an Egyptian prison (Genesis 37:23-25; 39:20, 21).

Moses exiled from Egypt where he was considered the Pharaoh's son (Exodus 2:15-21).

Elijah after championing God at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:15-19:11).

Jonah at the repentance of the Assyrians after his swallowed and released from a whale in the sea (Jonah 4:1-11)

The Psalmist moaning at his feelings about being thrown into the pits. (above)

Jeremiah sitting at the bottom of a damp well in hiding (Jeremiah 38:1-6)

Jesus weeping at Lazarus's grave (John 11:33-35).

Jesus' disciples after His crucifixion and death (Luke 24:13-33).

Paul the Apostle prohibited from sharing the gospel in Asia Minor, not knowing yet about Philippi (2 Corinthians, above).

The list of these people is endless.

And what happened to them??   Their discouragement was a prelude to even greater success and witnessing.  There are, of course, some exceptions, more than a few but not many.  Even then they were urged to look ahead to God's heaven.  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  (Matthew 5:11-12)

Now, what did you say was discouraging to you now???

Grace and peace and from the praising God-for-His-phoenix-out-of-the-ashes-promises, improvisational church.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How should Christians respond to the death of Usama Bin Laden?

Today I read a very thoughtful article by Pastor John Piper about the death of Bin Laden. From the day I heard about his death and the resultant euphoria by many, I wondered what should be an appropriate response. Should we rejoice? Should we take pleasure when our enemies die? Please don't misunderstand these questions; this man was bent on the destruction of America and her allies. He was the mastermind of the 9-11 attack on America where thousands of innocent people died. He was an evil person. But I am not sure if those who follow Jesus should simply join with the world and rejoice in the death of our enemies. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Here's the link