Tuesday, December 22, 2009

First let me say a word of appreciation and thanks to everyone who was involved in the two Christmas presentations we were blessed with this last weekend. Susan Brown did a wonderful job of working with the adult drama group to present the Saturday presentation, “The Guiding Star.” Everyone who helped with sets, sound, setup and acting were exceptional!

Melody Norris worked with the children and youth to present a wonderful presentation on Sunday morning titled “The Little Shepherdess, All Alone.” Thanks to the kids, their parents and those who helped to bring the Christmas message through the children. God has truly provided dedicated and gifted ministers to VGC.

Mending clothes is becoming a lost art for many families. There was a time when most families could not replace clothing when it was torn, burned or stained. They simply had to repair the clothes the best way they could. I can remember when I was a very young boy tearing holes in my jeans while playing and my mother having to fix them. It was bad enough when she was able to sew a tear together because most of the time the sewing job made the pant leg hang in a crooked way. Then she discovered “patches” you could iron on over a tear or hole to cover it up and keep the pants together. I hated to wear jeans where a patch had been ironed on it because the patch was a dark blue and my jeans were faded and worn. It really looked bad but I had to wear it anyway because we couldn’t afford to buy jeans very often. The other problem was that the patch was strong but the jeans it was ironed to would tear around the patch because the material was worn and weak. The only redeeming element was that those old jeans sure were comfortable, unlike the new ones which were stiff and hard to get broke in. Interestingly, most kids in those days were really sporting a look that is now acceptable in our society… jeans that cost $85.00 or more that come already torn and worn! We just didn’t know how fashion conscience we really were!

God sent His Son Jesus to deal with a torn and worn spiritual mindset that kept the people of Israel longing for something different. Many of the Jews were very faithful and sought to follow God’s law the best they possibly could. Even some of the Pharisees were faithful men who longed for the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Messiah. Others were caught up in trying to put patches on what they thought were holes in God’s law by adding to it and making it very difficult for the people to follow. Jesus did not come to “patch” the old but to make something new! He came to fulfill all the “law and the prophets” and provide a path to reconciling both Jew and Gentile to the Creator.

Too often we desire to have more devotion to or commitment to our Lord. New Year is a time when people make resolutions that they think will help them live better lives in the coming year. All the resolutions a person makes have no real significance if they are still attached to our old way of thinking and living. You can't put a new patch on an old habit and think it will be better! You can't put new wine into a brittle wine skin and think it will hold it. You also can't ask God to do a new work in you if you are still holding on to the sin in your life... or the attitudes of your heart... or the desires of your self-centeredness.

Jesus wants to come into your heart and "create" a new man, new woman, a "new heart." (Psalm 51) For Him to have superiority in your life you must give up the past and allow Him to bring in the new.

I pray your New Year will be filled with His presence, purpose and promise!

God bless,


Monday, October 5, 2009

"Be Healed!"

Healing is a controversial topic among Christians today. I often wonder why there is so much division over the subject of Biblical healing.  I suppose that it would be wonderful if God just healed everyone... but then I wonder what it would really accomplish? If everyone were healed we would lose one of the most powerful opportunities we have to grow in our dependence on Him.

True Biblical healing was never to rid the world of the pain of sickness, disease or dispare.  Biblical healing always took place to identify the healer with the source of healing who is God.  Jesus healed to confirm that He was truly the Messiah.  In John 9:1-5 Jesus was asked by His disciples "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." This healing drew attention to the Savior. 

There were many who were healed by Jesus and many who were not healed.  In Acts 3:1-10 we find a man who was lame since birth and had to be taken to a place outside the Beautiful Gate of the Temple each day where he begged for money.  How many times did Jesus walk by this lame man and not heal him? How many times did Peter and John walk by him and not heal him.  It wasn't until the man called to Peter and John and asked for money that the opportunity for healing too place.  It was through the healing that the man's attention and praise was lifted up toward the Lord and the opportunity for Peter to bring another message to the religious leaders was set up. We also learn that physical healing is not as important as spiritual healing, healing of the sin sickness we all have that separates us from our Creator.  It is through faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood that we are healed of the consequences of our sin sickness and brought into a right relationship with the Father. Physical sickness is temporary, spiritual sin sickness is eternal and can only be cured through faith in the Great Physician Jesus Christ.

Does God heal today... certainly! God heals in His time, in His way for His purpose and not at the whim or command of His children who have a tendency to totally miss the fact that sickness and illness can be the very thing that draws someone to Jesus.

I have known many strong believers in Christ who had been tremendous witnesses for Jesus while undergoing treatments for things like MS and cancer. Their strong faith touched the lives of many doctors and nurses and health care workers who literally saw God's hand at work in their patients to bring healing as well as peaceful death. They witnessed the power of God through the witness of His children who continued to be His witnesses even to the end.

God does have a purpose in sickness and disease; He does have a plan in both healing and in suffering.  It's really all about Him isn't it?

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

May the Lord bless you,


Monday, September 28, 2009

Preparation for Worship: September 28, 2009

What did the early church really look like? I think that it is an appropriate question to ask because if we are going to be effective in honoring our Lord and fulfilling our purpose as a body of Christ we need to look at how God formatted the first century gathering of believers. There are obvious differences between now and 2,000 ago.

First, society is quite different, at least in the so called leading economic nations of the world. We have faster transportation, communication, education, socialization, recreation, and better accommodations. We have democracies instead of dictatorships (though not in all cases). We have an ongoing quest for freedom and the rights of every person no matter what their gender, race, culture or background may be. We have greater and better and more efficient mechanical and technical machines and equipment. We have science and discoveries that were never even thought of in the first century. We have ice-cream and hot dogs (lots of mustard and onions), and good rich flavorful coffee!

In some countries today there is not a lot of difference between the early church and the church they know today. In some ways the only difference is geographical because the conditions they live in, the struggles they face and the persecution they endure is the same, only the face of the oppressors have changed.

At no other time in the history of Christianity did love so characterize the entire church as it did in the first three centuries. And Roman society took note. Tertullian reported that the Romans would exclaim, “See how they love one another!”

Justin Martyr sketched Christian love this way: “We who used to value the acquisition of wealth and possessions more than anything else now bring what we have into a common fund and share it with anyone who needs it. We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”

Clement, describing the person who has come to know God, wrote, “He impoverishes himself out of love, so that he is certain he may never overlook a brother in need, especially if he knows he can bear poverty better than his brother. He likewise considers the pain of another as his own pain. And if he suffers any hardship because of having given out of his own poverty, he does not complain.” (Early church.com)

We know and will see that there were problems and conflict in the early church but we will also see that they took to heart the exhortation to, “Abov3 all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

To love one another does not mean to never have conflict or crisis it means that in the conflict or crisis restoration and redemption ultimately win because God’s love is greater than our sin.

This Sunday we will focus on The Ministry of Fellowship and discover the joy and ministry of the early believers as they gathered together for encouragement, strengthening, worship, prayer and study. I hope you will join us as we acknowledge and celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ.

God bless – PJ