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July Preacher Feature

You’ll get this while I am on vacation.  Took two weeks flying solo on the motorcycle, just me and God, heading south to the Gulf of Mexico, I will be back in the office on August 7.  This is a time for reset and renewal for me and I would appreciate your prayers. 

You’d think after knowing the Lord for many years we would somehow just “arrive” at a time when we think we have this down.  Sometimes I feel like I am starting over.  Yet my doctrine is strong and pretty well thought out, my confidence in the scripture is as good as ever, I believe that God is good, does good, and works all things together for good.  Those things don’t change.  But we ALWAYS have growing to do, the journey, the process.  Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14). 

So, pressing on, vacation is about a fresh perspective of my life and walk, but God has already given me a fresh perspective on church ministry, that I plan to share with you in a series after Labor Day.  I have a ways to go with it, but I think I have the main idea.  In seminary I was taught that your vision statement should be small enough to fit on a refrigerator magnet and easy enough for virtually everyone to remember.  We have a great mission statement that reflects all of our values, was voted on by the congregation, and appears on our church bulletin every Sunday, right on the front.  But can any of you quote it to me?  I wrote it, and I am not sure I can get all of it.  It goes like this.  Captivated by the love of Christ, centered on BIBLE TEACHING, built up in FELLOWSHIP, renewed by BREAKING OF BREAD, empowered by PRAYER, we will REACH OUT AND MAKE DISICIPLES in the KANSAS CITY NORTHLAND AND BEYOND!  Great stuff right?  Biblical too, and we won’t be changing it.  Right out of the first church in Acts 2:42. 

What I believe God is leading me to do, and I enjoy the support of the elders (so far) is to make the things we are pursuing practically simpler yet, and easier to remember.  It’ll sure fit on the magnet.  A couple of them, you can look back at the last couple years and say, yeah, we really have been emphasizing that.  But all of them are things we can do better, and they are the things I want to emphasize church wide in the years ahead.  All of them begin with “C”, it’s a preacher thing.

Commitment

Connectedness

Compassion

Community 

I want to challenge us as leaders and members as to how we can do each of these better, let me tell you what I mean by each one.  We are going to spend a message on each of them in September and I may get you a refrigerator magnet too. 

Commitment is obvious, we are followers of Jesus Christ.  And being that, we are teaching God’s word with a view to observing what it says (Matt. 28:19,20).  Commitment is so important that the Lord Jesus gave it a really powerful illustration.  “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me’” (Mark 8:34).   The illustration is a powerful one.  Someone who had taken up a cross on their shoulder was on their way to die.  Following Jesus with all our heart probably won’t mean we’ll die for it, but it might.  The answer is in the last part, it is to deny ourselves.  Every time we choose to do what Jesus wants us to do, we likely also choose NOT to do something we want to do.  So it’s like in a small way putting something to death in us every time we choose His way. 

Connectedness reflects something is also obvious, God has called us to do this together.  The illustration that Paul used is that of a human body, and we are the body of Christ, He is the head, the brains.  “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12).  A human body is composed of many parts, arms, legs, eyes, internal organs, etc. and all of them are necessary.  They need to work together, to complement one another, to strengthen one another, to “get along” if you will.  We have all had times we feel sick when one part isn’t working.  The relationships we have with one another are so important Jesus says how we are toward EACH OTHER is how the rest of the world knows we belong to Him.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34,35).  We need to be intentional in this ministry to promote this, and this is something we can do better.

Compassion refers to the way we look out for each other when we are hurting.  Everybody needs someone, several someone’s who know them, and care about what happens to them, especially when life takes a turn, like a stress, a setback, an illness or even a death of a loved one.  The church needs to be the place where we care about those who are hurting and show it.  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).  I have done 22 funerals in the last 2 ½ years, most of them have been here, and I have seen this kind of care demonstrated many times over.  We need to be as a church the place you want to go when you are hurting.

Community is THE community we live in.  The community of believers is important but the believers need to be out IN the community, showing people we care, reaching out and seeking to make a difference.  I have become aware lately that in this culture evangelical Christians are being referred to as the bad guys way too often.  So it became my dream to get to where people in this community would look at us and say “Hey, I know Northwest Bible Church, we can always count on them to show up”.  And in showing up, it gives us a place to share our faith with people we would not connect with otherwise.  “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

Are there other scriptural things to emphasize?  We will always believe in expository preaching and teaching, and we will cover whatever the scripture says.  But these are the four areas I believe God is leading me to emphasize at this time in our lives.  Pray for me, especially on these two weeks out, that God will clarify and renew me as I seek to press on!  

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