Touching lives

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.

JESUS IS WORTH IT!

2016-wow-jesus-is-worth-it-art

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

DISABILITY MINISTRY: REACHING ALL PEOPLE FOR CHRIST

disabilities

by Debbie Huber

What if you found out that a specific group of families in your community were unreached with the gospel? I am sure you would be interested in finding ways to reach out to these families.

These unreached families are those who have a family member with a disability.

The statistics speak for themselves:

Nearly one in six children has a developmental disability.

Approximately 1 in 45 children (1 in 28 boys) in NJ has an autism spectrum disorder. Our area is statistically higher than the rest of the country for autism diagnoses. 

An overwhelming majority of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted because our society perpetuates the falsehood that people with Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities have less value.

When a couple has a child with autism or ADHD, some research indicates that the rate of divorce for their parents is nearly twice as high as the norm

Some disability ministry leaders have estimated that 85-90% of people with disabilities are unchurched. 

Jesus tells us to go into the world to reach ALL people because ALL people are created in God’s image, even those with disabilities.  The Bible is full of instances where Jesus sought out those with disabilities.  He had compassion on them; he healed them, not just physically but spiritually. 

In Luke 14 in the Parable of the Banquet, Jesus specifically says to go into the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in the poor, the crippled and the lame. Jesus tells us that for those with disabilities and the outcast, it is clear that the kingdom is made up of the “least of these brothers of mine.”

You may have neighbors or family who has a child with a disability. Often those families can feel isolated.  It is difficult for them to find babysitters for even short outings.  Going to church may seem like an overwhelming thought to them, and they are often turned away from churches because the church is not equipped to handle their child’s unique needs. 

God is opening up this area of ministry for our church.  Children with disabilities are a part of our children’s ministry at Greentree. They are receiving loving care and are hearing the gospel faithfully.  It is our desire at Greentree Church to be welcoming and accommodating to these children, but also to be able to minister to these families.

It is not always easy.  We can expect physical and behavioral issues that make ministering to those with disabilities messy at times.  But it is worth it. 

Here are some specific ways you can help

1.  Volunteer to be a one-on-one aide to a child with a disability in children’s ministry.

2.  Seek to establish relationships with families who have a family member with a disability. (Children or adult). Offer to help them in practical ways.   Pray that God will use your relationship to share the gospel with the whole family.

3.  Be welcoming to families and individuals with disabilities who visit our church. It is easy to shy away from talking to them because we do not know what to say.  Start by saying hi and smiling!

Please join with me to pray that God will give us hearts to reach out to these families and that our church will be a welcoming place for everyone to hear the Gospel, including those with disabilities.

A CELEBRATION IN GUATEMALA

Evelyn

Earlier this month I was blessed to be a part of a team from Greentree that went to Chichicastenango, Guatemala to be with our mission partners, ASELSI. While we were there we participated in the festivities celebrating the 10th anniversary of the physical therapy clinic established at ASELSI.

My first time in Guatemala was nine years ago when the therapy clinic was only a year old and treated children in a small multi-purpose room.  Today, they have a large, beautiful and well-equipped facility for the therapy clinic to treat adults and children.  God has taken the desire and efforts of the missionaries and workers at ASELSI and had accomplished more than I could have imagined only nine years ago!

At the 10th anniversary celebration I saw many familiar faces of patients and families from my previous visits.  One girl in particular is Evelyn. Evelyn is a now 21 year old young lady who was born with severe spastic cerebral palsy.

When the clinic workers at ASELSI first met Evelyn she had severe contractures in her legs due to being confined to her small home. Children with disabilities in Guatemala are frequently isolated, having no access to wheelchairs, unable to attend school, and often hidden due to lack of services and embarrassment by families.

What impacted me most about Evelyn when I first met her was that even though she had severe physical and speech limitations she had a great capacity and desire to learn.

In spite of very difficult challenges, Evelyn and her mother were determined.  Evelyn was determined to learn and her mother was determined to help her.

The workers at ASELSI understand that every person is created in the image of God has great value to God. Evelyn was treated in the therapy clinic and also enrolled in ASELSI’s school for special needs children.  She has thrived and has learned much and she knows the love of Jesus through His gospel.

To surprise me when I saw her again this year, Evelyn had been working hard to learn some phrases in English so she could talk to me!  With tears in my eyes, knowing how difficult it is for her to speak even in her native language, I listened as she spoke her name and her age, and asked me, “How are you?”, all in complete sentences in English.  Her determination to love me by speaking my language humbled me.

When I first went to ASELSI I believed it was to help the children there but God has also used them to help me to appreciate the value that they have before God and the potential that all of His creation has to be used for His good purposes.

There are people around us who we may not see as not worth the effort to love, serve, or share the Gospel. Maybe it is someone with a severe disability, a child with very difficult behaviors, or a cranky neighbor that everyone avoids.  But we are all created in His image and have value to God. We are not called to make judgements on who is and who is not worth the effort. We are called to love and serve others and God uses it for His good and His glory.

GRACE ABOUNDING IN SUFFERING

by Debbie Huber

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake  (Philippians 1:27-29)

In Philippians 1:29 we are told that, for the sake of Christ, God has granted to us that we will suffer for His sake.  When we first read this it could seem disheartening or hard to understand that this is a sign of God’s grace. 

But as we realize how significant it is that God used Jesus’ suffering to bring us eternal joy, we will begin to have unanticipated reactions to our own suffering.  

Through suffering, we become identified with Christ’s suffering.  Just as grace abounded in the suffering of Christ, so when believers suffer for him, grace abounds as well.  We will see suffering as an opportunity to bring God even more glory as we are comforted in the Holy Spirit. 

Because Christ’s death has reconciled us to God, His grace sets us free from the fear of death.  We do not need to live with fear and anxiety over present or future suffering because we have been set free by His grace.

In this passage, Paul is speaking to people who feel marginalized by the society around them.  Natural responses for people who are marginalized are to withdraw in fear, counter in retaliation or to complain in frustration to one another. 

Jesus provides us with another way to react:  confidence grounded in God’s grace that frees us to respond to adversaries with composed kindness and to believers who hurt us with humbleness and forgiveness.  

Jesus is our example in this.  He humbled himself and died for us because of His great love for us when we were so undeserving. 

In his book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller writes,

“The Christian Gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.  This leads me to deep humility and deep confidence at the same time.”   

How can we hold onto hurts or take offense at others when God does not hold onto our frequent offenses against Him?  

For Christians this can mean responding in grace with forgiveness to fellow believers who hurt them, lovingly seeking reconciliation instead of withdrawing from them or complaining to others about them.   

Instead of leaving the church where you may have been hurt, it may mean looking to reach out to those who are marginalized, providing encouragement or help. 

It may mean being Christ’s ambassador by responding with grace and kindness to those in society who speak condescendingly of Christians or your values because you are a Christian.  And it is responding in confidence that the Holy Spirit works within Christians and that God will “never leave us or forsake us.”

PEOPLE MATTER

We live in a culture where the pace of life overtakes the purposes of life.

This short video is a great reminder that people are far more important than our to do list

 

ARE YOU TOO CHRISTIAN?

“Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?”

One of the other pastors on our team recommended an article with this title from the Desiring God Blog that asks us to look at how engaged we are with people who don’t know Christ.

The point being made is vital,

If we have no connection with unbelievers, how do we reach them?

The article by Rick Segal also makes the point that it can be difficult to develop new connections when we are uncomfortable with what people believe and with how they live.

Segal’s article ends with a few helpful suggestions for being used by God in reaching people around us who need the gospel.

Any article is worth reading if it helps us to think through what keeps us from sharing Christ and provides good advice on steps that will help us become more gospel effective.

Please read it!

 

THE REAL SPICE OF LIFE

This week I read an article that’s a good follow up to last Sunday’s sermon. Now I know Sunday was a looong time ago, so here is the message theme from 2 Timothy 4:

Faithfulness to mission means each of us is in the people business

The article I read from the 20schemes Website is “Dying to Disciple: How Far Are We Willing to Go in Our Pursuit of People?” Yes, it is also a looong title, but the article is an encouragement in how God can (and wants to) use us in the ordinary and mundane flow of every activities. The author calls it Flexible Spontaneity.

I hope you will read this article with the eager mindset of “Wow, I want God to use me in everyday life.” Because nothing is more important, thrilling or satisfying, than a life that serves the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Living for Christ is the real spice of life!

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES

By Debbie Huber

Last weekend I participated in Servant Outreach Saturday (SOS) at Greentree Church. There were several groups going to different locations, from survey evangelism to nursing home outreach. I was a part of the neighborhood outreach where we walked through local neighborhoods handing out gift bags to demonstrate care for others because of the wonderful grace that God has lavished upon us. We met many welcoming neighbors and we even had the opportunity to pray for some.   My nephew, Jacob, was with me and he was full of enthusiasm to knock on the doors and meet the people.

After everyone reassembled back at the church we listened to each other share about our experiences. Everyone who participated was glad that they did. A recurring theme was how the children seemed to make it easier to meet others and even share the Gospel!  We heard how young Jessa explained to children her age how we are all sinners and we can’t be good enough to get into Heaven on our own so that is why Jesus came. We heard how other children were full of excitement to talk and pray with people in a nursing home.  There was more than one parent who said that their child talked them in to coming that day. What a joy it was to see parents and children work together to reach out to our community.

I would venture to say that many of the adults who were there were nervous to initiate conversations and bring up the Gospel to others. But when the children were with us they encouraged us, making it easier to speak to those we met because of their innocence and unencumbered belief in the Gospel. We tend to be fearful and worry that we won’t use the right language or not be thought of highly by the people we talk to.   The simplicity of the Gospel is something that we as adults can sometimes unnecessarily complicate.

The Gospel is the greatest thing we can give to others. It is not as complicated and scary as we make it. God is holy and we are sinners with no way of saving ourselves. But the good news is that Jesus loves us so much that he died to receive the punishment that we deserve for our sins and that he demonstrated victory over sin by his resurrection from the dead.

I, along with the other adults present that day, were encouraged and learned from these children.  The women who shared the Gospel with me 27 years ago may have been fearful but when God opened my heart to hear it, I didn’t hear something to be embarrassed about; I heard the most wonderful, joyous, life-changing news possible! I thank God that those women spoke those words to me. Why should I not want to share that life-changing truth with others?

LIVING WITH GREAT PURPOSE

My friend Ian McConnell who pastors Grace Church in Philadelphia, has written another excellent article on his Blue Collar Gospel blog.

This article entitled “Life is Mission”, hits right at the center of what we have been trying to make our perspective at Greentree, which is to live life according to God’s agenda. Or as was the theme of this year’s Mission Conference, “Live Life Sent”.

How full and meaningful life becomes when our routine tasks and existing relationships become opportunities for the gospel to live in and through us. Our life may remain ordinary and yet become extraordinary all at the same time! As Ian writes:

“When you view yourself as sent, the mission field expands and the significance of your ordinary black & white moments start to pop-out in missional color.  Loving God, loving others, and the maturing & multiplying of disciples increasingly becomes your ultimate agenda as you do your regular thing. This both simplifies and intensifies our view of mission.”

Ian ends this article with practical ways to alter the way we look at our daily routine. This alone can encourage you to live a God pleasing and eternity affecting life.