This Sunday will kick off our Annual Missions Conference Week.
This is an exciting as well as a vital time in the life of our church.
We have opportunity to get to know some of our mission partners, and we learn how we can become more connected with the glorious work of the gospel both near and far.
This year’s conference is entitled “IS JESUS WORTH IT?”. We know the answer, but we still need encouragements in living as if Jesus is always worth it.
Make sure you and your family participate in as many events as you can!
Sunday, October 2nd
8:30 & 10:30 am Pastor Pat Tedeschi Preaching
Monday, October 3rd
7:00 – 8:30 pm Meet & Greet Dessert Night
An evening spent getting to know our new missionaries Fred & Dawn Weindelmayer via a Skype interview. Bring a dessert to share.
Wednesday, October 5th
5:30 – 6:15 pm Our Famous International Meal
Enjoy cuisine from around the world.
6:30 – 8:00 pm Movie “Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places”
This latest episode is set in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, where a patchwork of tribes live – people groups long crushed by brutal dictators and enslaved to the worship of demons. But the Gospel is setting prisoners free!
Thursday, October 6th
8:15 – 9:15 am Prayer Breakfast
Enjoy breakfast & pray for our Missionaries.
9:30 – 11:00 am Women’s Bible Study
Featuring an interview with church planter Katie Eck of New City Fellowship in Atlantic City
Friday, October 7th
5:45 – 10:00 pm Youth Night
Food, games, and a presentation by church planter Peter Eck at New City Fellowship in Atlantic City.
Saturday, October 8th
9:00 – 12:00 pm “Being Witness: Understanding & Applying Our Identity as Witnesses of Christ” Seminar & Continental Breakfast
A seminar by Jeff Boettcher, Lead Pastor of Christ Church South Philly (SGC). Breakfast provided.
Sunday, October 9th
8:30 & 10:30 am Pastor Peter Eck Preaching
How It Began
In January of 1999, I visited the former Soviet Republic of Belarus for the first time in order to teach at the Minsk Bible College.
What I expected to be an interesting one time trip turned into a lifetime love and one of God’s great blessings in my life. God gave me more than a heart for the Bible College; he gave me a passion for the church in Belarus.
Slowly I began to build relationships with pastors in churches throughout Belarus. I saw their struggles and although I couldn’t carry their overwhelming burdens, my heart felt some of the weight.
This shared burden is what led me and Sergei Lukyanov, a church planter and then Director of the Bible College, to establish SEE Global as a means to Support, Encourage and Equip the church in Belarus.
At the same time, the Minsk Bible College was closing. After encouragement from my father, SEE Global decided to take over operation of the college in 2009. It was an intimidating step, but it has been a joy to keep the Bible College alive, and to be in the classroom with the attending students.
Taking a Big New Step
However, Sergei and I both realized there was a greater and more strategic need for training leaders and church planters. This led to the heart wrenching decision to close the Bible College in May, so we can begin a church leaders training program in its place. Unfortunately (at this time) we cannot operate two schools.
In many ways this new school will look similar to the Bible College, but with these significant differences:
The students will be leaders or leaders in training sent by their churches
The curriculum will contain a strong commitment to practical ministry rooted in solid theology
Churches will send the students and provide a small amount of the tuition to provide more investment and accountability between the church, the student and the school
A healthy philosophy of The Church will be a focal point of the training we provide
The training will have more direct mentoring built into the program than the Bible College
Our heart is to see the gospel spread throughout Belarus (and beyond) through church-planting churches. Over the past 15 years church planting has diminished in Belarus.
We want to see a revival of church planting. But for that to happen, churches need to become church-planting churches, church planters need to be trained, and church plant teams need to be prepared. We hope to assist in each of these areas of urgent need.
Today, I leave on my 25th trip to this land I love.
The main thrust of my visit will be to share the vision for this new school with churches and national church leaders. Please pray that each of these visits will overflow with God’s grace.
In addition I will be spending significant time with two new church plants which are some of the firstfruits of what we pray will be a great work of the Holy Spirit in Belarus that overflows the borders of Belarus.
God has allowed us to have a significant impact on dozens of churches throughout Belarus. Our hearts yearn to see God work beyond what has ever been seen in this part of the world – that his name would be known and glorified!
For those who want to follow along and pray for the specific activities of this trip, I will post updates on Twitter @PastorKyleHuber and Facebook
Hope always comes down to Jesus
The disciples finally think they understand Jesus’ Farewell Discourse
Jesus had been talking about his leaving, which left them perplexed
But in v28 when Jesus talks about the Father sending him into world, they think “Now we get it”!
“We know” and “We believe” that you came from God
Jesus questions the strength of their belief
He asks the rhetorical question: “Do you now believe”
Context of entire passage “Do you fully believe I am of God?”
Your actions will show a deficiency, when you scatter in fear and abandon me alone
Notice the connection between Jesus’ plain speaking and their scattering
They will both take place in the ‘hour’ that is ‘coming’
Jesus uses this expression, “the hour is coming” several times in John
It is always in connection with the events and aftermath of the cross
The events of Jesus’ death would bring about his plain speaking (vs 25)
The events of Jesus’ death would see the disciples abandon him
Why is this connection made concerning what happens at that “hour”?
Scripture is making a point of enormous importance!
What takes place in “the coming hour” falls on Jesus alone
The weight of all the events of the cross, and so the gospel, are carried fully by Jesus
The gospel was not strengthened or helped by the efforts of the disciples or any other earthly power
The entirety of the gospel’s work and our hope is in Jesus “alone”!
Jesus didn’t end the Farewell Discourse with v32
1. Jesus’ being abandoned and alone was not the whole story (v32b-33)
Jesus would not be abandoned by the Father
God continued to be and always is, the main character in all our circumstances
What Jesus says in v32 is as fully true for us as it was for him!
Jesus would not be overcome by the world
Everything that defeats us, Jesus fully conquered – this includes sin, death, the world and Satan
Every good thing we desire, he made possible – this includes peace, hope, life, joy
Everything Jesus accomplished is shared by everyone who is “in Christ”
2. The Disciples’ misunderstanding and failure was not whole story about them
They did know who Jesus is
They did believe – their actions didn’t always show it, but their hearts were his
They did overcome the world – their salvation arose and came out of the tomb with Jesus
They did become men of faithfulness and fruitfulness
How do we apply the Farewell Discourse?
1. Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”; he is our only hope: If you believe it, then live that way!
Take your highest hope and replace it with Christ. If you only have him, is that enough?
What are activities you treat as “must be done” or goals that “you must fulfill”? Make them about Jesus
2. Jesus has overcome the world: If you believe it, then live that way!
Answer temptation with accusation! Declare its lies, emptiness and ugliness
Stop being discouraged by weakness, Christ is our strength
Stop trying to be the great fixer, that’s what Jesus does
We are wealthy in grace, so exchange our whining for thankfulness and kingdom action
3. We are not alone: If you believe it, then live that way!
Don’t just call for help during difficulty, talk with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who are always here!
Develop the habit of calling on the Holy Spirit throughout the day
Engage in biblical community, so you are regularly encouraged toward God
4. We will have tribulation, but still can have peace: If you believe it, then live that way!
Preach the gospel truths about our future in Christ to yourself every day; and then give praise for those truths
Actively give your concerns into Jesus hands, treat them as primarily his concerns
Some Christians love to argue
When they listen to other Christians talk, you can see the anticipation in their eyes as they hope there are slight differences of opinion they can wrangle over. They view the internet as one of history’s greatest gifts, because it provides endless opportunities for arguments with believers they have never even met.
Certainly there are theological battles worth fighting
However, there is also the question of our motives in these battles. Is this truly for God’s honor or for our pride? Is it love for God and neighbor that gets you into controversy, or is it a proud desire to strut your opinions, flaunt your learning, and see your enemy discomfited?
Does this battle need to be fought?
What is actually being accomplished for Jesus’ Kingdom? From my perspective most battles are in defense of our own kingdom and pride.
Just as importantly is how we treat people as we enter these battles
There are never to be times when we neglect the fruit of the Spirit in how we interact with people!
At Christianity.com, Jim Hamilton wrote an article entitled, “Do you love controversy or people?” If you find yourself regularly in verbal battles, I hope you will take 5 minutes to read the article and ask God to reveal your own heart to you.
If we truly are concerned with truth, then we must be concerned for it in our heart most of all
by Debbie Huber
Many of us struggle to pray even though we say we believe that God hears our prayers and that praying to Him is a good thing.
There are a lot of reasons why Christians have difficulty persevering in prayer but a significant reason is that we really do not value it enough to make time for it. We are too busy so we just say, “God help me”, or “God help them” and then we are on our way. Does it really make that much of a difference anyway?
God has used the examples of others in my life to encourage me to see the great value of prayer.
I can say with complete conviction that nothing has had a greater impact on my marriage than my husband’s commitment to prayer. I remember the time, years ago, when Kyle committed to worshiping God in his prayer time and witnessing his growing desire to love and know God more because of who God is and what He has done. And this has made our marriage relationship grow. When I struggle with prayer, God reminds me of this evidence that God meets us in our prayers.
I have a dear friend who pursues me to persevere in prayer. She has been battling recurring Cancer, and has family problems and financial difficulties, yet she never tires of lifting up the concerns and difficult circumstances of others in prayer. I see her take joy in praying for others and trusting God in her prayers. In love, she pursues me to pray with her which strengthens my desire to pray.
Paul Miller says in his book, A Praying Life, that many of us “struggle to learn how to pray because we are focusing on praying, not on God”. The difference that I see in Kyle and in my friend is that they see prayer as relationship; and the focus is on getting to know God. Consequently, as our relationship with God grows, we get to know our own heart as well and He changes us.
Do not wait until you feel like you have it all together to pray. Paul Miller says to “come messy…come overwhelmed with life, come with your wandering mind.”
Greentree Church Women’s Ministry is hosting a live simulcast of a nationwide prayer event, “Cry Out!”, presented by Revive Our Hearts on September 23, 2016. On this night hundreds of thousands of women will gather in thousands of locations to seek the Lord together . . . for such a time as this!
What could be more vital at this critical time, than for women to get on their knees—together—to cry out to the Lord for mercy and intervention.
This three-hour prayer meeting will focus on 5 areas of prayer emphasis:
personal, families, churches, our nation, and the world
Each segment will be led by a different keynote speaker and will include Scripture reading, a short devotional message, corporate interactive prayer, and worship.
Praying together with other believers in Christ will encourage and strengthen your personal prayer life as well as draw us together in unity and love for our God.
We will meet in the Learning Center meeting room at 6:30 with the prayer event to beginning at 7. For more information and to register online use this link
‘In Jesus Name’
Jesus’ Farewell Discourse is preparing his followers for when he will leave them. Part of Jesus’ encouragement is the way his leaving will bring to them greater access to God
Jesus transformed how we pray
In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mt, he taught his followers to pray
He gave them an example prayer, which we know as the Lord’s Prayer
In it he taught us to pray “our Father”; this was the first time we were invited to address God as ‘Father’
It is a revolutionary new perspective that emphasizes the depth of the relationship we now have with God through Christ
In the Farewell Discourse, Jesus adds another revolutionary ‘first’ in how we pray (v23)
Six times in Jesus’ Farewell Discourse, he tells his disciples to now pray “in my name”
Praying “in Jesus name” is not a magic formula to get answers
1.Praying in Jesus’ name is a declaration of Position (vs 26-27)
Those who trust in Jesus are fully accepted by the Father and we can speak to the Father just as Jesus did on earth!
Praying to our Father, in Jesus name, says we belong in this relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Verse 27 brings up an issue that is widely misunderstood in world
As John 3:16 says, ‘God loves the world’. However, this doesn’t mean he is in loving relationship with everyone in world – as the following verses make clear (John 3:16-18)
Unless we have trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin, we are condemned
Trusting in Jesus’ name brings us into a relationship of covenant love with God
2.Praying in Jesus’ name is a declaration of Purpose
This point has been made throughout the Farewell Discourse
John 14:13 – what we ask and how God answers is meant for his glory
John 15:7 – asking in Jesus’ name requires abiding in him and his word
John 15:16-17 – God answers our prayers to bring kingdom fruitfulness
We are never given privileges or promises from God that diminish his sovereignty
In the middle of this section, Jesus tells disciples that he will soon speak ‘plainly’ (v25)
He contrasts this to his speaking in “figures of speech”
The word used here often means “perplexing” speech and that meaning fits the context best
Jesus will soon be able to speak plainly, because after his death and resurrection, Jesus’ teaching will become clearer to them
The events of the gospel will make all Scripture clearer to them (Luke 24:27)
Immediately after saying this, Jesus repeats about “praying in my name”
Clarity about the purpose of Christ in the gospel helps how we pray
We now know what values should drive our prayers
There are questions about prayer we cannot fully answer
This is because God answers our prayers from his sovereignty, not ours
However, we know God’s sovereignty is complete, wise and good
So “Ask” – often and with faith! This is a clear application of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse
There is a parallel invitation from Jesus in John 7:37-39
Jesus invites us to “come and drink” for he is sending the Holy Spirit
Yet, we tend to come and ‘sip’; we half-heartedly seek Jesus!
What is the state of your “asking”?
v24 instructs us to “ask that your joy may be full”
Most of us are good about praying for rescue in times of great distress
But there is much more to pray about!
Let us be filled with ‘asking’ – for the glory of Christ!
This month I am strongly
and joyfully recommending the book “Knowing Christ” by Mark Jones.
I first heard about the book through watching a conversation between the author and J.I. Packer on the importance of this book and its topic.
After that I saw many recommendations of “Knowing Christ” by highly respected church leaders. It became a ‘must read’ for me.
After reading the first chapter, I bought more copies to give away.
I like that Mark Jones combines challenging depth with approachable clarity. Mark wants to honor Christ by having the reader think more deeply about Christ.
However, the book does not overwhelm the reader. The 27 chapters are short (under 10 pages), so the book can be read as a daily devotional. In fact, I recommend that you not read more than one chapter at a time. These are rich truths that deserve careful attention.
No subject will reward us more richly than to learn more about Christ. The Apostle Paul has this to say about Christ in Colossians 1:15-19
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell
Every one of us has the need to love and honor Jesus more. A necessary part of doing so, is to know more about him.
God, I don’t understand! Lord, what are you doing? What does this mean?
You have probably had these thoughts, and in Jesus’ Farewell Address, we find his disciples asking those questions
Jesus’ disciples are bewildered
They are bewildered about statements we easily understand
It’s easy for us to understand now, because we know what happened
The disciples understood the words Jesus used, but not the ‘How’ and ‘Why’ of his leaving and return
It would not be until Jesus works were complete, that their understanding would be full
According to v19, Jesus knew exactly how they were struggling
Yet, he doesn’t give them a specific answer about what he meant by “a little while”
Instead, Jesus gives them a big picture answer about how it all ends
Jesus knows his actions will eventually answer their questions
Knowing the big picture will serve them in all life’s confusing and painful moments
We want the immediate details about our circumstances and we complain to God when we don’t have them
God does far better than give us the immediate details; he fills his Word with big picture clarity
Let’s look at Jesus’ ‘big picture’ answer (vs 20-22)
We will face what is painful and doesn’t seem to make sense – it’s unavoidable
(1) We will find ourselves bewildered at times by life events
Our world rejects the rule and truth of God, so we are surrounded by senselessness
To think we won’t struggle is unbiblical; but so is struggle without hope (compare vs 20 and 22)
(2) We will find ourselves struggling at times over God’s Word
Much of God’s word runs against the common human perspectives of self
Living with a biblical perspective only makes sense in light of the big picture of eternity
Jesus saw the disciple’s struggle to make sense of life
He cares about our struggle, but like small children, we simply cannot grasp it all now
He has clear and excellent answers, and we will see them ‘in a little while’
Until then, God has given us sufficient answers for now in the gospel and its promises
Until then, God is giving us abundant grace now for the active presence of the Holy Spirit
All our sorrows will be transformed to joy
Jesus gives hope in his leaving by assuring them of his returning
The return of his resurrection – when sin and death are defeated
The return of his second coming – when our faith and his kingdom are made perfect
All our questions will be answered when we see Jesus
Because the answers are all fulfilled by Jesus
If we truly know Jesus, that should hold us for now!
Jesus uses child birth as an illustration of our big picture realty (v21)
The real pain we have in life now, is producing an overwhelmingly greater joy forever
This should encourage us in how we walk through what is now painful
Jesus gives 3 big picture reasons why we can take joy now (v22)
1. We will see Jesus
The impact of this is multifaceted
The glory and wonder of his presence will be pure joy
His coming brings the perfections of life in his kingdom
When we see him we shall be like him (1 John 3:2)
2. Our hearts will rejoice
This is because every gospel fulfillment will completely satisfy us
In Jesus’ kingdom we will all be Great Commandment people
We will enjoy the fullest possible fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
3. No one will take our joy
No one who opposes Christ and our life in him, will be left standing
Christ’s kingdom will be perfect, eternal and undisturbed
Believer, joy is how all things end for you – including every pain, struggle and question
The Bible is meant to be read, understood and used.
Frankly I am baffled by Christians who don’t bother to read their Bible.
How can anyone expect to know God, grow and be fruitful if you ignore what God has to say to them?!
Excuses about not understanding the Bible are shallow at best. Of course there will be some things that you will not understand clearly, but the bulk of God’s Word is approachable for anyone who is interested and has the Holy Spirit in them – which is every true Christian.
I began reading the Bible regularly during grade school. I don’t remember having any feelings of frustration due to the Bible being obtuse.
As parents we should read the Bible with our children so that they will value God’s Word and develop their own habit of reading it. If your children can handle text books in school, they can handle the Bible.
The Bible is meant to be studied.
There is wonderful depth to the Bible that is not meant to keep us at a distance, it is meant to excitedly draw us in.
Not everyone is as comfortable with studying of any kind, but studying the Bible is by far the most profitable place to apply our mind.
Bible study can be basic and it can become quite involved, but it is all profitable.
The resources available to help us study are virtually endless, but obviously they come in different levels of practicability and credibility.
Pastors spend a lot of time studying God’s Word (if they are fulfilling their calling), so they are typically excited to help church members who want guidance in how to study the Bible.
The Knowable Word website may be helpful to you. It presents what it calls the OIA approach, which simply means:
Observation – what does it say?
Interpretation – what does it mean?
Application – how do I need to change?
None of these steps are hard, if fact we Observe, Interpret and Apply information every day.
The point is to do something. And if you have never faithfully read the Bible, then that is the essential, wonderful and blessed step you need to take.
I was never bothered by stepping into new decades of age.
Everybody likes turning 20, because you finally think you’re an adult. Only twelve months until you are 21!
When I turned 30 I was excited, because being a pastor in your 20s seems to lack in gravitas.
My 40th birthday was the first time I could remember serious joking about my being older. The office staff decorated my office in black as if they were celebrating a wake. But I wasn’t fazed at bit.
Getting older never made me pause …that is until I turned 50.
Somehow passing that age barrier made me reflective about what my life had accomplished. For the first time my remaining years of ministry and influence felt measured. After all, turning 50 is half way to being 100 years old, which is how long my grandfather lived.
I was not depressed by turning 50, but I wasn’t excited about it either. But all that is history, because I am now closer to the decade to be unnamed that follows your fifties.
Perhaps this is why an article by Thom Rainer in which he discusses how we walk through senior years caused me to pause and actually read it.
Thom Rainer is a respected Christian writer as well as the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. His thoughts are helpful for any adult, but as the years add up, the perspectives he mentions are increasing important.
If you are 23, you may not be overly interested in what Rainer has to say, but all Christians will eventually face the attitudes he addresses.
Turn here to read “Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church”