Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Philippians Study (part 3) - "Saints in Christ Jesus"

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:" (Phil. 1:1)

In the Bible, a saint is a genuinely saved person. When a person repents and believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, that person becomes a new creature in Christ, he at that moment becomes a 'saint.' The word 'saint' means 'holy' or 'separated ones.' It is a classification designated for all the people of God. At salvation God separates us from sin, the world, our flesh, the Devil. And God draws us unto Himself. Therefore 'sainthood' is not a long formal process of canonizing a person, rather, a saint is anyone whom the Lord has cleansed or saved. Jesus imputes His righteousness upon us, and that makes us 'holy ones.' Our holiness does not extend from ourselves. In fact, we have no righteousness at all. Unless God does the saving we are lost sinners, bound to an eternal Hell.

The Bible informs us that we are saints 'in Christ.' This speaks of the close relationship we share as being God's people. First, we are not saints because of what we do, or who we are. Rather 'in Christ' we become saints. Secondly, the idea I believe that the phrase 'in Christ' is trying to convey is that believers have a unity, or a oneness with their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Ephesians chapter 1 deals with this phrase a lot. Perhaps you could take some time to enumerate from that chapter the many glorious descriptions of being 'in Christ' or 'in Him.'

So who are the saints in Christ? They are the saved people of God. It is not an merely an elite group, rather it is a group of regenerated folks. This also should serve as a reminder to us of who we really are in Christ. The Bible declares us (i.e. you and me - if you are saved) to be saints. And so we can and should live holy lives. We should live out what we really are. As light is different from darkness, so should every saint live differently from those who are not saved. And just like every believer is a 'servant' (slave) to Jesus Christ, so it is that every believer is a 'saint in Christ Jesus.' The only way you can avoid being a servant and or a saint is to not be genuinely saved.

What a blessing! as genuine believers, we are both servants and saints.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"Soldiers in the Army of the Lord" VBS Closing Ceremony

Mt. Zion Baptist Church has invited Bro. Burt Kephart of Seneca, PA (A veteran of the Vietnam war) to speak at our VBS closing ceremony. He has authored a powerful booklet: "Proven In Battle," which tells of the story of the loss of his son in the Iraq war. He will teach our adult Sunday school class at 9:30am and speak at our evening service at 6:30pm this Sunday (July 22). We encourage you to come hear him speak. If you know of anyone who has lost a loved one in this war, and they are in the Brogue, Windsor, Red Lion, York, PA locale, please encourage them to come. Mr. Kephart is a shining example of how we can give God the glory even in the midst of our deepest valleys.

For more information about this event and directions and/or contact info please look up http://www.mtziononline.org/ Thank you.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

"Preach the...wuh?"

I am of the persuasion that one should focus on the message and not much on the messenger, that is when it comes to listening in on preaching. But it does happen at times when men get up and 'preach' but have very little to say. Some are happy to tell a story, particularly theirs, instead of God's redemptive story. Others expound on their thoughts rather than the text. In fact what is interesting is that they start with a Bible text, THEN they repeat the reference twice in a row as though you did not hear it the first time they mentioned it. I don't know who started that trend but it happens a lot. Then that's it, off with the text and on with the story or worse, on with man's opinion for the rest of the speaking time. What it amounts to is more of a pep rally type or a hyped-up talk, a lot of plain ol' hot air. No substance, because no Word from on High. Lots of emotion maybe but very little conviction. Godly preachers preach the Word, and godly Christians want to and need to hear Bible preaching.

Friday, July 6, 2007

"I will build my...wuh?"

Disclaimer: The fellowship names mentioned in this thread are merely generated.

I remember as a young Christian searching for truth in God's word and finding out what God thinks about different kinds of things. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus states plainly that He will build His church. It was reading that verse and understanding it that I realized that I needed to be in church. At first having left 'a church' I felt like why should I be in any church at all. I guess that was somewhat a naive sentiment. Thankfully God speaks about the church in many places in the New Testament that I did not miss out on being part of His church. What is interesting though is finding groups of so-called believers who assemble who fit the description of a church but don't want to be identified as a church. Sorta like "Living Right Fellowship" or "Christian Family Center", or "Community Thing." Are those considered churches? They don't want to be called 'church' to begin with, but they function 'like' a church. It seems as though they want to enjoy the status of a church, they just don't want to be 'called' a church. Are they just trying to get by with a church without calling it a church?

A more important question is does God consider that a church? So if a disgruntled church member, placed under church discipline for the right reasons, by a good church, which would make him obviously a rebel, decides to start his own 'thing,' assembles a group of baptized believers (we will grant him that), without being sent from or endorsed by a good church, he starts his own thing - something - not called a church - then IS it? and if it is not, then what business do Christians have to do with an organization not founded by Christ? Is it too critical to say that Christ founded the church; not the "Community Cell Fellowship of the Beloved Disgruntled Brethren Order of Not-called-church Fellowship." It must be that in the minds of some, church is too cheap. But on the contrary the Bible plainly declares what the church is; in fact it is esteemed as the bride of Christ. I would not want to call Christ's bride a cheap lady, and she should not be treated that way. The fact is Christ founded the church, and Christians go to church.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Missions Trip (part 2)

Kevin and Debby Harris and their children Samuel, Charity, Susanna and Elisa are busy serving the Lord in the mission field of Wollongong, NSW Australia.

Marcia and I got a chance to join The Harris’ along with the Youth Group of their church for a talent and dessert night. It is really neat to know that many of the young people of the church want to use their talents for the glory of God.

I did mention dessert night! The young people did all this home made.

This is what the church building looks like prior to the arrival of the church people and guests. They use a public school building and every weekend they diligently set up and tear down for church.
This is Illawarra Community Baptist Church. They are a fine group of believers with a goal to someday own their own land, building and facilities.

We also worked alongside Chris and Yolanda Eckels. Their children are Rischala, Rachel, Jeremiah, and Noah. It was a blessing to accompany them in the various ministries that they are involved in as they are getting acclimated to the Australian mission field, having been there for nearly a year and a half. They are serving under Shaolhaven Baptist Church under Pastor Shellebear ( a great national pastor).

Monday, July 2, 2007

Mission Trip and misc. items (part 1)

Meet the Tessin Family. The Lord is doing a wonderful job in Las Pinas through the good and hard work of Bro. Dan Tessin. The picture is that of his wife Raquel, and three daughters (Michelle, Jennifer, and Danielle). They have been serving the Lord in planting and establishing churches in the Philippines for well over 10 years. It was such a privilege to work along side such a fine missionary family.

Filipinos use several modes of transportation besides bicycles, cars, and buses. They use what is called Tricycles. It is a motor cycle with a side car attached to it. Also another interesting transportation is the "Jeepney."

This is the building that facilitates Cross and Crown Baptist Church in Las Pinas. The week we were there they celebrated their church anniversary and a week later Bro. Tessin celebrated 10 years of working among the people. The bottom half of their building is the church's and the second story is where the Tessins live.

This is what the church building looks like from the back prior to the arrival of the church people and many other guests. The bottom picture is taken from the pulpit area, to give you an idea of what the auditorium looks like from the front. The cleanliness and beauty of their auditorium is a testimony of their love and sacrifice as the church, that although being poverty stricken, they pull together without the aid of foreign money, they of their own selves gave to see a wonderful facility build for the Lord.

Meet Cross and Crown Baptist Church. It sure was a pleasure to be with the Lord's people in Las Pinas. There I was given the privilege to teach a module class on Philippians. I was also invited to speak for their church anniversary.

The Ladies Choir did a marvelous job. They sang in English. For the most part many Filipinos speak English and Tagalog as well as their local dialect depending on what region they are raised in.

After the morning service the ladies of Cross and Crown had a Ladies Fellowship. They studied the Bible and my wife Marcia was able to preach at them. This is ok, because they were all ladies present.

During our stay we also had the privilege of conducting a two day Children's Bible Adventure club. Many of the children that came were actually first time visitors. What a blast!

Marcia taught the English division of the club. It was such a blessing to be able to minister to the Tessin kids as well, since they really haven't had a strictly English speaking class.

It was a joy to see a young girl named "Joy" realize her need for Salvation. After conducting a home Bible study at her grandparents house, she publicly confessed that she needed to get saved. I have received good news from Bro. Tessin that she is manifesting spiritual growth. This is a good sign that her faith is not vain. She is a sweetheart but more importantly now she is a Christian.

Pray for the Tessins and Cross and Crown Baptist Church. Bro. Tessin is planning to start yet another church in Bohol (a Southern Island). Pray that God raises a godly, national pastor who will take over the work in Las Pinas, Manila.

I also had a chance to see my home town of Angeles City in the Philipines. My family and friends were there. I miss most of all my pastor back home. On Feb. 27, 2007 Pastor Guerrero went home to be with the Lord. Leaving behind a thriving church and a strong family. Pray for God's wisdom and strength for such a time as this. I will always remember Pastor Guerrero as a man of God, a preacher of the Word, and an soulwinner.