Monthly Archives: May 2013

INTRODUCING OUR NEW MAP

Ministry Action Plan

At Greentree we speak a lot about wanting to be a healthy church

Our goal is not simply to work at accomplishing certain things that appear to be successful, our goal is to be healthy so that the things God wants us to be and do will take place.

Every church wants to accomplish good things, but in the pursuit of many good things, it is easy to obscure the essential things God asks of us. When this happens, our priorities will be out of alignment and that church will not be as healthy as it can and should be.

We have to regularly make sure we are not missing the foundational building blocks of healthy church life. Sometimes our good intentions lead us astray.

Every couple years we introduce an updated Ministry Action Plan or MAP, which contains how we plan to work on being a healthier church in the coming two years.

Our purpose is to have a plan for what part of church life most needs our attention as a church family. This way we can all be praying for and working on the same area.

This Sunday we will introduce our new MAP

Our last MAP was unusual in that it focused on the financial need of completing our Learning Center. The church leadership felt strongly that this project was a necessary step in order to better serve the young families of our church as well as to help us reach new families.

Our new MAP will not include any financial component

As you hear about our MAP we hope you will prayerfully ask God to guide how you become part of it. We are excited for what God will do in and through us as we faithfully seek Him and submit to His purposes for our lives and His Church.

Will you begin praying now for the introduction of our new Ministry Action Plan?

 

 

 

HOW DO WE GROW IN SHARING THE GOSPEL?

Today’s post was suggested by our Pastor of Outreach, Past Tedeschi. It comes out of an article by J.D. Greear, who is the lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved.

J.D. offers thoughts that came out of a church leadership meeting to discuss hindrances to evangelism. They came up with 4 key thoughts that are worth our attention:

1. Raising the temperature of intentionality (making outreach our habit rather than something that happens by chance)

2. Sensitivity to the Spirit (we don’t try to force the gospel in, but follow Spirit’s lead)

3. Providing people with tools (guidance in sharing our faith)

4. Models (seeing other people share the gospel)

Every church and every believer needs regular reassessment concerning our how we are reaching other for Christ. I hope you will take the time to read J.D.’s thoughts so that we can be as effective as possible in reaching the people all around us who stand condemned unless the gospel penetrates their heart. Click here

LIFE ONLINE

We are living an increasing amount of our lives online. People willing acknowledge that they spend more time online, because that reality is too obvious to deny. However, the same people have probably never thought of this growing reality in terms of living more of their life online. Yet that is exactly what is happening, because time is a foundational aspect of life. How we use time does not totally represent who we are, but it is a significant part of our life picture.

But “living online” is not simply a matter of spend time there. We learn online, we express ourselves online and we interact with people online. For more and more people, online is where most of these things take place. Social media is where some of us live.

Lindsey Carlson wrote this article for the Gospel Coalition entitled “The Plastic Fruit of Living Online”. Lindsey doesn’t blast away at social media, but she does point out some of the “plastic” aspects of it. But more importantly, she identifies some of the benefits when relationships occur on a level were eye contact, facial expressions and touch play their intended role. She writes,

Long-distance and digital friendships, no matter how wonderful they are, cannot gain full access into our souls. Seeing a friend’s compassionate eyes, holding her hand, and kneeling together in prayer are evidences of God’s tangible nearness in the war against sin.

The point is to use technology well and to grow relationships wisely. Being online provides many benefits to our life, but it will never replace the face to face dynamics that God created us to share with one another.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.27.13

“When Life is Hard” Habakkuk 3:17-18

Habakkuk was discouraged by what appeared to be the free reign of injustice (Habakkuk 1:2-4). He addressed the issue we struggle with before God, why is life so hard?!

Life’s burdens have no sense of fairness

We know life has hard times, but we want them to fit our logic

We want difficulties to make sense and be evenly divided

We expect God to reduce the burdens of those who follow him

Like Habakkuk, we wonder when God is going to get involved

God’s response to Habakkuk is that he had plans the prophet didn’t see (1:5-6)

Often our part in these times involves waiting, but God’s plan is always in motion

At that point God’s plan involved the Babylonians conquering Israel

That makes no sense to Habakkuk (1:12-13)

How can the evil actions of godless people be your plan?

In our view, sometimes God’s plan seems no fairer than the world

Trusting God in hard times calls for trust in two areas

(1)  Trust God is always sovereign in Christ nothing is senseless or wasted

In Christ we are never at the mercy of our circumstances, because they all take place in God’s hand

(2)  Trust God’s sovereignty is always best

Eternity will reveal how God’s purpose was greater than our burden

 “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” 2 Corinthians 4:17 

What do we cling to when life is hard?

God reminds the prophet how we should be different from unbelievers who live by their pride and opinions (2:4)

Habakkuk finally confirms that those who are righteous will live by faith in the Lord (3:2)

1.  God is entirely trustworthy

When all we can see is our burden, it is hard to trust. Yet what is our experience with God?

When we trusted in God’s Savior, he did make us clean 

When we trust in God’s Word, it does strengthen our life

Like Habakkuk we have “heard the report” of God and “know his works” (3:2)

We know he has created, sustains and will judge all things

We know he is all powerful, all wise, perfect and unchanging

We know nothing can overthrow his plan that is everlasting

There will always be things that don’t make sense to us, but if we keep the gospel in view, we will have reason to trust our Lord

So let our attitude and actions show God is trustworthy   

Commit our way to the Lord because we trust him (Psalm 37:5)  

Be glad of heart because we trust him (Psalm 33: 21)

2.  God himself is sufficient reason for joy 

Habakkuk ends (3:17-18) with these powerful words  

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation”

Habakkuk will “take joy” in God even when all seems to go wrong. The reason is as v18 reminds us, “He is the God of my salvation”

Our salvation is greater than any kind of loss

No aspect of our salvation can be affected by any hardship

Habakkuk learned to bring not just his needs to God; above all he came to God with his worship

This does not mean we never have sorrow before God. Some things are sorrowful, and the Bible tells us there is a “time to cry”  

If God is our joy, it can be muted, but as John Piper says, it is “indestructible joy”

In eternity, we will glorify God for all He is doing now

Wrap up: two thoughts to carry with us 

1.  Measure what life throws at you by who God is to you

2.  Realize everyone around you has burdens too, but unlike you, they don’t all have an answer or hope

CREATING A HEALTHIER CULTURE IN OUR CHURCHES

A few months ago I read this article by Jonathan Leeman on the Gospel Coalition website. Jonathan Leeman is from 9 Marks, a ministry our of Capitol Hill Baptist Church that seeks to strengthen the local church.

In his article, Leeman describes developing a culture that leads to church health more than simply adding programs we think will make us successful. He then gives suggestions for creating that culture. As our church continues to pray about and consider what it means to be an ever healthier church, these steps may help each of us to better understand how we can be part of the culture of creating that healthier church.

WHAT TO MAKE OF DISASTERS

When disasters strike some people say foolish things, which make us cringe. Others utter abuses toward God, which grieves us. But for many of us there is uncertainty in knowing exactly what to think or how to shape our thoughts.

Sam Storms is Pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City. He has had to consider what to make of disasters and evil tragedies that have occurred close to home. In response to the Oklahoma tornadoes which brought deep heartache and renewed questions, Sam Storms wrote this outstanding article. He does not answer all our questions (because no man can), but he does provide excellent thoughts we can cling to as we walk through this tumultuous world

TOO WONDERFUL TO KEEP SECRET

SimonKentonSimon Kenton 1755-1836

Simon Kenton never became as famous as his close friend and contemporary, Daniel Boone, but he lived an even more extraordinary life. If his story was made into a movie, we would be tempted to think it was exaggerated beyond what is possible. Kenton was a courageous and powerful man, feared by Indians and respected by settlers; he was not a man to be crossed.

Two hundred years ago Simon Kenton was transformed by the gospel. His conversion story is not only encouraging for the gospel’s sake, it also leaves us with a powerful reminder of the glory found in all coming to Jesus stories.

Kenton frequently went to church, though in the Kentucky days it was more often as lookout and sharpshooter — guarding the congregation against Indians — than as a devout participant in the ceremonies.

Since coming to Ohio, however, it had become a regular practice of his to attend the camp meetings with Elizabeth when the autumn season rolled around. In October 1808 when meetings began under Rev Bennett Maxey, he attended, along with other members of the family. For several days they camped at Voss’s campgrounds on Buck Creek a few miles above Springfield, listening to the sermons and watching as friends and neighbors were saved.

One day Simon kept to himself, a troubled expression on his face, until finally he approached the Reverend Maxey. “Mr. Maxey,” he said slowly, “I’d take it kindly if you’d walk out into the woods a bit with me.” The preacher readily assented and the two men strolled together through the woods until the sound of the camp meeting was lost behind them.

Finally Kenton stopped and faced the minister. “Mr. Maxey, I am going to communicate some things to you which I want you to promise to me you will never divulge.” “If it will not affect any but ourselves,” Maxey replied immediately, “then I promise to keep it forever.” With the preacher thus pledged to secrecy, the frontiersman sat on a log and broke into a long and detailed confession of the things he had done with his life, of the wrongs he had committed.

At Maxey’s direction, both of them fell to their knees and prayed aloud to God for mercy and salvation as Maxey beseeched Jesus, the Almighty Savior, to help this man. As he did so, a great transformation came over the frontiersman; he came to his feet with a joyous cry that rang through the woods. Then he ran, leaving Preacher Maxey behind, leaping over logs and bushes and bellowing with a fierce exultation. He burst from the woods into the campgrounds and, when the startled crowd had gathered around him, told them all in a roaring voice of his being saved. He was joining the camp of God at last!

Soon the Reverend Maxey made his way to the inner ring of people encircling the frontiersman and, during a pause in Simon’s enthusiastic outpourings, said, “I thought we were to keep the matter a secret.” Kenton shook his head violently. “Oh, it’s too glorious for that.” His voice rang out above the murmur of the crowd, “If I had all the world here, I would tell of the mercy and goodness of God!”

May we all be reminded that our salvation story is also too glorious to keep secret!

This account is taken from “The Frontiersmen” by Allan Eckert

FOR FUN

kinkade_light

 

WHO MAKES CHILDREN GROW?

Raising children is one of the easier tasks in life – until you actually have children and are faced with raising them!

The world is filled with dangers

Our children are filled with resistance

We are filled with uncertainty

Watching our children grow up is satisfying, frightening and exhausting. Yet it is a process God has given to parents for wonderful and gracious reasons. God wants our home to be a place of joyful growth in all that makes family life good.

Marty Machowski who is Pastor of Family Life at Covenant Life Church in Glen Mills, has richly blessed the church through his outstanding books for family devotions:

The Long Story Short (10 minute devotionals from the New Testament)

The Old Story (10 minute devotionals from the Old Testament)

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments

In this blog article, Marty makes the helpful distinction between Sowing and Growing. When we understand which of these jobs belongs to us and which belongs to God, it encourages us and gives us a better focus for our important efforts on our children’s behalf.

DRUNK WOMEN SHOULD NOT JUDGE BASEBALL

Stephen Altrogge shared an experience on his blog that he had watching a couple tipsy middle-aged women yelling complaints against players during a Phillies vs Pirates game.

As Stephen points out, neither of the woman likely had much experience themselves in being baseball players, yet they didn’t hesitate to mock the best players in the world, because those athletes didn’t perform according to their expectations.

It is an interesting article that becomes a TERRIFIC article, when Stephen makes this application to the women’s behavior .