Touching Lives

EVERY BELIEVER’S RESPONSIBILITY

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by Debbie Huber


We are all a part of the body of Christ. We do not always consider our active role in the body when it comes to reaching out to others. The pastors, greeters, Sunday school teachers are taking care of all of this. We are in a hurry, we have to get home….  isn’t that why the church has ministry programs?

Ministry programs do not lend a listening ear. 

Ministry programs do not spur one another on to love God and His word. Ministry programs cannot give an encouraging smile to a nervous child. 

Ministry programs cannot walk a visiting family to find their child’s new Sunday school class. 

Ministry programs do not notice a worried, sad, or fearful look and offer prayer.

Ministry programs do not rejoice with others. 

Ministry programs do not give encouraging phone calls.

Ministry programs do not spend time with the elderly, or engage the teenager who seems alone.  

Every believer must consciously seek to reach out to others in meaningful ways as ambassadors for Christ. What if every person who is a part of our church prayed and asked God to help us step out of our comfort zone and touch the lives of those around us. Many seemingly small gestures work together to impact the world for Christ. 

If someone asks directions to the bathroom or a Sunday school classroom, instead of pointing them in the right direction walk them there instead.  

Greet others with a smile!  Don’t wait for them to come up to you. 

If you see someone who looks sad and fearful ask if you could help.  Pray for them. 

Speak to one another with biblical encouragement, spurring one another to seek God through His word. 

Pray that God will give you eyes to see the needs of those around you. And go the extra mile to show you care. 

INFLUENCE: FATHER’S DAY EDITION

SGC Pastor's Conference 2016 Some of the people who regularly and deeply influence me with the gospel

Yesterday we honored Fathers and their influence on our lives.

However, some of you men (and women) may be so aware of your limitations that you doubt that your life can be an influence for God.

The famous people in the world certainly seem to have far more influence than the people who serve Christ. However, where it counts most, they are completely impotent!  Just as this world will end, so will the influences of those who follow its values. But the influences for Christ’s eternal Kingdom will last as long as his kingdom does!  

To be a godly influence two truths reign supreme:

1.  The focus of our influence must be the Gospel

Romans 1:16 tells us the gospel is “the power of God for salvation”. There is no greater influence we can have on people than for the gospel. This is not just true for unbelievers. Every believer needs regular encouragements in living out the gospel.

2.  The power in our influence is the Holy Spirit

Our influence is not meant to be what we can be to others; it is what the Holy Spirit can accomplish in and through us. Wouldn’t you rather have your potential be what God will do?

Conclusions about our influence through the Holy Spirit and for the gospel:

1.  Our influence goes beyond our abilities (Acts 4:13)     

2.  Our influence goes beyond our what we can see (1 Corinthians 12:21-22) 

3.  Our influence is not lost due to weaknesses or past failure (John 4:16-18 & 39)

General observations concerning being an influence:

1.  Each person you can influence is worth influencing

We often think and act as if we have no vital ministry from God. Yet, every person already in our life needs gospel influences. Perhaps we will be the only person to be praying for them this way!

2.  Every person who can observe you, can be influenced by you

Just by living a life in contrast to the world, we are an influence on those who see us. The people in your life need to be surrounded by those who love and live by the gospel.

3.  Small things can have an effective influence

The key to every godly influence is how God will use that influences. This should encourage us concerning small actions for Christ. If God honors a small action for Him, should we still consider it to be a small thing?

4.  The world desperately needs the influence of the gospel and godliness

At times if feels as if we live in the middle of a swamp of ungodliness. Rather than bemoan this fact, recognize that it sets up a vivid contrast when we live whole-heartedly for God. In our self-centered culture, godliness will stands out and be noticed. Be encouraged that your life can be a place of solid ground in the midst of the swamp.

And while you are at it, do not tire in thanking those who are an influence in your life. They need encouragement too!

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUNGER WOMEN

by Debbie Huber

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  Titus 2:3-5

Time has flown so quickly that I find myself as one of the “older women” to whom the writer of this passage is speaking. It is a passage that I read with a combination of joy and fear. Joy, in that I love to be able to encourage others to love their husbands and children and to serve God in the way He has designed. There is also a little fear mixed in because this can also bring to my mind the regrets that I have, wishing I could do some things over again. But I know that God, in His wonderful kindness to me can still use even my weaknesses for His good purposes. 

I have come to see a “flip side” blessing to this charge to older women. There is a unique and treasured benefit that a younger woman brings to this mentoring relationship. I have witnessed several younger women seek out older women to help them and I have seen beautiful relationships develop and godly fruit displayed in lives. Marriages have been strengthened, mothers have been encouraged to seek God’s word instead of the strong influences of the world, and the Word of God has been the foundation. 

God has used a young mother named Samantha in my life in ways I had not realized were important. Samantha has chosen to make it important to show her care and love for me.  Knowing my children are far away she takes the time to hug me when she sees me, ask questions about me,  include me in family events, and send me pictures of her children via text or Snapchat. These small but very meaningful gestures have helped me when I am missing my own daughters. A cherished relationship of mutual encouragement has grown.  This has also spurred me to stay involved in her life so I know about her and I can pray for her and encourage her.

So younger women, God has chosen to use older women to encourage you in Godliness but in His wisdom He will use you in their lives too!  How do you find an older woman to be mentored by?  Do not wait for an older woman to find you to mentor you. Seek out godly older women and ask questions!  Get involved in service in church or in a small group and get to know the women there. 

And older women, do not feel shy about seeking to spend time with a younger woman.  Find out about their life and care for them!   If God has made this a charge to women than His purposes in it are of eternal value.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.15.17

Love for the Gospel Shapes How We Live

 

1 Corinthians 9

Last week, we saw principles that guide how we exercise our rights and freedoms. The Apostle Paul continues this theme at length!  But now he uses his own example to show that serving the Gospel shapes his priorities and lifestyle

Paul Starts By Reminding Them of His Position v1

He was an Apostle: the highest office in the church

A requirement of being an Apostle is to be a witness of the risen Christ. Paul says, “I saw him!”

He was not just an Apostle he was their Apostle vs1-2

In Acts 18, Paul founded the church in Corinth; and he spent 1½ years teaching them

He Understood His Rights in Christ v1 “Am I not free?”

Many in the church struggled to understand their freedoms; but not Paul, he knew them well

 

Yet, He Wants Them to Know the Rights He Gave Up

There are three areas in which Paul gave up his rights

1.  The right to eat food sacrificed to idols as mentioned in chapter 8 and possibly here in v4

2.  The right to have a wife v5 – Paul embraced singleness as he describes in chapter 7

3.  The right to be paid for laboring to serve churches v6

Paul keeps his focus on this last right

He gives four proofs that he has the right to be paid for serving the church

1.  Being paid for your service is a principle that is obvious to the world v7

2.  The Old Testament law affirmed this principle v8

3.  This was the practice for those who work in all temples v13; whether Jewish or pagan

4.  It was commanded by Jesus v14 (Luke 10:7 ‘a laborer deserves his wages’)

He goes into detail about his rights in order to dramatize his refusal of them

 

Why Would the Apostle Paul Give Up Obvious ‘Rights’?

The gospel is a greater purpose than clinging to our rights

He repeats this idea three times: v12, v15 and v18

In vs 12-18 he refers to ‘the gospel’ seven times

Each time, he exalts the value of the gospel to dictate how he lives

Can you say the gospel motivates your priorities?

What is the gospel and why is it worth sacrificing rights and privileges?

Gospel means good news: it involves incomparable events, and it provides unequalled hope

The gospel so thrilled Paul, he made himself a servant to it v19

He was not just willing to live this way, he was eager to do so

The gospel had captured Paul’s heart and he wanted it for everyone else!

This made Paul flexible in how he dealt with people vs 20-22

What point is Paul making?  ‘Servants’ adapt to those they serve

He is not telling us to compromise beliefs, but to compromise our preferences

Love leads us to become comfortable with the people around us

Serving Christ and his gospel shaped how Paul lived vs 24-27

All that Paul claimed to believe about God actually led how he lived

He lived with self-control v25

This is not a negative concept, being out of control is

Just as exercise shapes our physical body, godly discipline shapes our soul  Bible reading, prayer, community

He had direction v26

He was not “aimlessly” reacting to every new situation

We are Christians, we follow a Person; and he is consistent, faithful, and wise

His heart was filled with the joy of serving Christ!

Look at his language: v18 reward, v23 share blessing, v24 the prize

Paul lived to please God and that brought joy to his heart

Have you lost perspective about where goodness is found?

How will you respond to Christ and his gospel?

Do you need this gospel?  Christ is here to save – don’t push him away

For those who have the gospel – is your heart dry? Is your life aimless?

CARING FOR THOSE WHO PLAY THE VICTIM

God’s call upon us is clear. We are to love Him with all that we are, and we are to love our neighbor.

If we are to practice love of neighbor, we must step into their lives, including their hurts and burdens.

However, sometimes we cannot help but wonder if some of the people we are trying to care for are misusing our care. In short are they “playing the victim card”?

Even if people are playing the victim card, does that automatically let us off the hook from being responsible to love them. If we are to love our enemies, should we love those who misuse our compassion?

The short answer is that we are to love every person we meet regardless of the worthiness of their situation or their attitude. Everyone without Christ is broken, blind and totally lost.

The complicated part is how should we put our love for these people into action?

God does not necessarily want the answer to always be immediately clear and easy. There is benefit in searching our souls and the Scripture to find clarity. When answers are too easy, sometimes that is an indication of pride rather than wisdom.

Nick Batzig walks us through this conundrum in this article “Jesus and the Victim Card”, which is found at the Reformation 21 online magazine. He writes:

At the end of the day, our job is to point others to Scripture and to the Savior who is revealed in Scripture. We must resist the snare of putting ourselves in the place of the Redeemer in the name of “being there” for those who are hurting. Our job is to point others to the only one who is able to give both us and them the grace that we need to change.

LET YOUR HOSPITALITY HELP GROW YOUR EVANGELISM

 

This 84 second video will help and encourage your gospel outreach.

Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor at the Village Church in Texas, makes a strong connection between practicing hospitality and sharing Christ.

84 seconds doesn’t give him time to dig into the implications, but with only 84 seconds watching the video, you will have plenty of time to contemplate those for yourself.

Here are a few quick ones that came to my mind:

(1)  Expressions of love and care will impact people and open their hearts to us.

(2)  These actions will also draw them to want to know more about our world – a world in which Christ is the epicenter!

(3)  Hospitality is wonderfully expressed in our homes, but we can also make it a mindset throughout the day.

These should be encouraging thoughts for every believer who wants to reach people; work on your hospitality to impact those around you who are without Christ.

MESSY GRACE

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“Messy Grace” is an unusual story

The author, Caleb Kaltenbach was raised by a militantly lesbian mother and a homosexual father.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually helpful story

Caleb helps us to think about how Christians come across to those who are outside the church community. You will be challenged in how God uses you in the lives of those who are broken.

“Messy Grace” is an unusually powerful book

If you have a heart to reach people with abundant grace and uncompromising truth, this book will help you. And if you are not interested in those things, then you probably should read it twice!

I benefited by reading “Messy Grace” and I have been recommending it ever since. One of my small groups found that this book stimulated wonderful and needed conversations.

Buy it

Read it

Use it

THE INSANITY OF GOD

My book recommendation this month is inspired by Mission Conference week.

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (recently released as a movie), tells some of the most powerful stories that I have ever read!

The author during a season of discouragement over the condition of the world, decided to initiate a couple year project in which he would interview Christians in the most persecuted places in the world.

He wanted to find out how they could persevere in such conditions.

The project ended up taking over 15 years!

Ripken tells extraordinary stories from believers in then Soviet Russia, China and the Middle East.

This is a book that will educate, inspire and challenge you.

I hope you don’t miss reading it.

 

 

JESUS IS WORTH IT!

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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

DO YOU HAVE GOSPEL FLEXIBILITY?

Last week I wrote an article on “Watching Our Cultural Diet”.

Today, I am encouraging you to watch out for cultural inflexibility.

The point in my previous article was guarding what we allow into our lives, while my point today is making sure we are touching lives in the world around us.

There are several practical problems that come up as we become culturally Christianized.

We have fewer relationships outside of the church in which we can share the gospel.

Our changes in lifestyle make us increasingly uncomfortable with the culture around us. This is a good reality, but unbelievers can feel our discomfort and think we are looking down on them.

Our conversation is peppered with “Christianese”; words that are confusing to unbelievers.

We can become judgmental on people we think have flagrant sins, rather than being burdened for their souls.

Sometimes we can think that our use of “Christian” symbols, words, plaques and music is witness enough. However, it is not enough for people to know we are Christian or religious, they need to hear the actual truths of the gospel (Romans 10:17). It is the gospel which leads people to salvation not religious influence.

We have to exercise thoughtfulness and prayerfulness to overcome the obstacles of Christian culture, but the Holy Spirit is eager to help.

Don Carson provides a few thoughts on these issues in this article “Are You Flexible for the Gospel?”