Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day

This Sunday is Father's Day. I am looking forward to spending the time with my wife and two children.  Last Sunday as I was preaching, I made the statement that "The Lord is a much better parent than I will ever be." No sooner did I finish saying that and I hear my son say "Amen." The entire church was laughing for quite awhile.

The truth is that the Lord is a much better parent than we will ever be. Perhaps you struggle with Father's Day because your earthly father wasn't around or was abusive. My dear friend, please allow the Lord to be your father. He will never let you down and will always look out for you. On Sunday we will all contact our earthly father and express thanksgiving. Make sure you contact your heavenly Father and express just how thankful you are for all that He has done for you in Christ Jesus.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ugly Side of Ministry

I have seen the ugly side of ministry in the last few days but there are some positives that have come out of it. Last week some of the members of our church were burdened for a family that has been coming to EBC off and on for the past year or so. This family does not have much and has been living in a difficult situation. The man has never been involved and never comes to our services. There are four children under the age of 8 and little to no income. Our church has helped this family a few times over the last year included Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.

On Saturday night the lady was physically abused by her boyfriend. Our church has stepped up in tremendous ways. Three couples offered to take in the lady and her four children. Several people gave money to help move her and to provide food, clothing, storage, and other things. The man has been arrested and this family is now safe. One couple went and picked up the lady and her children at midnight and made a 1:00am trip to Wal-Mart to get food, diapers, and other supplies.

I cannot tell you how proud I am to be part of the EBC family. People have set their pride and comfort aside to help a family in need. This has been the complete work of the Lord. Several people were burdened for this family and acted upon it before anyone knew the severity of the situation. Truly we have seen the ugly side of ministry that is a result of the sinfulness and selfishness of humanity. On the other hand, we have also seen the church truly being the church and doing whatever it takes to help people in need. Here is what the lady said, "If I didn't believe in God before, I certainly would as a result of the help that has been given to me."

I recently came across a quote that has stuck with me. "If your church no longer existed, would the community even care?" While I can't speak for the entire community, I know of one family who would certainly care. May this be just the beginning for EBC to truly be the church and not just go to church!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Great Outdoors

My favorite spot at Natural Falls State Park
We have enjoyed being outside for the last two days. On Friday we went to Roaring River State Park which is about 45 minutes away from our house. On Saturday we went to Natural Falls State Park in West Siloam Springs, Oklahoma which is about 1.5 hours from our house. Our family really loves getting outside and hiking trails. These photos were taken with my iPhone. Hope you enjoy!
This guy greeted us just as we started on the first trail. I am not fond of anything with more legs or less legs than me!

What a great couple!

Yes, it is a very long way down there.

What an incredible view.
This is my favorite spot at Roaring River.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

EBC Family Night

Victory Kids singing during Family Night.
Last night was our Family Night for EBC's Victory Kids. The name comes from 1 Corinthians 15:57, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (NKJV). We were hoping for a large turn out from the parents and grandparents of these K-6th graders. We cooked a bunch of hot dogs and made lots of cookies. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of them here last night. Some came out but most did not. The majority of these kids are picked up by one of two church vans that we have. Both of these vans have to make two trips to pick everyone up. We usually have over 80 (K-12th grade) between Victory Kids and our youth group.

God has given us a tremendous opportunity to reach these kids with the Gospel. Pray that we will also connect with their parents. We are starting to see some of them come around but our goal is to see the whole family in a relationship with Christ and serving Him through the local church. Many of these children have just recently starting coming to church and over 80% of them were not here 3 years ago. Go back and read the post about EBC's Future and you will have a better understanding of our need for additional space. To God be the glory for what He continues to do!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

God is Faithful

Have you ever just stopped and thought about how faithful God really is. He loves us, protects us, provides for us, and He even puts up with us! It is truly amazing that we can be partakers of God's grace and mercy and it ought to cause us to be thankful no matter what. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul says that we are to give thanks in everything because this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus. 

In my opinion, there is a big difference between being thankful "in everything" and being thankful "for everything." My wife broke her leg a couple of years ago and it was a very long healing process and required surgery. I did not walk around thanking God that this happened, but I was able to thank Him in the midst of it. 

I don't know what you are facing or getting ready to face but just remember that the Lord is faithful 100% of the time. He knows what is going on in your life and nothing can happen to you without Him allowing it to take place. You may never know the reason why, but you don't have to. God does not owe us an explanation. The question to ask is not "why is this happening?" The real question is "Lord, what are you trying to teach me?" I believe that is a question that God will always answer if we are focused on Him through faithful obedience. Take some time to reflect on the faithfulness of God and listen to what He is trying to teach you!

Monday, May 14, 2012

EBC's Future

Yesterday I preached from Ephesians 4:14-21 and laid out the vision for EBC's future. We are in desperate need of additional space and I believe that the Lord is going to take care of this need for us debt free. God is able! We are praying that the Lord would see fit to pay off our current debt of $18,000 before the first of the year. I will not lead this church into debt. I have personally seen the problems that debt can cause and I do not want to saddle the church with debt. 
A preacher friend once said that it is amazing what can be accomplished with man, money, and organization and yet be void of the Holy Spirit. I believe in man power, finances, and organization, but I believe that too often we run ahead of God or cut Him short because we simply do not pray and wait to see what He is going to do.

Here are some of the specifics. We are averaging 100 right now in our Sunday morning worship service and we can only seat 174. On Wednesday nights we are running 50 K-6th graders and 25-35 7th-12th graders. We are really limited on classroom space. We are excited to see what God is doing up on this hill in a town of 500 people. HE alone will get the glory and the credit.

I am appointing a Vision Team that will begin praying and planning for our next building. I want to be ready for when God meets this need. As the saying goes, "Don't pray for rain if you are not willing to carry an umbrella." I have no idea what kind of timeframe we are looking at. We will do what we can with what the Lord blesses us with according to His timing. He is able! Pray with us and for us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Playground or Battlefield?

I have been reminded again this week how the Christian life is a walk through a battlefield, not a playground. There is a false gospel out there that teaches people that by coming to Jesus, all their problems will be taken away. The truth is that the Bible teaches that believers are engaged in a spiritual battle (2 Cor. 10:4-6, Eph. 6:10-20). The Bible does not tell us that Jesus takes away all the problems but it does teach us that we never have to face our problems alone.

Those who promote this false gospel really make the gospel all about you instead of Christ. The gospel is not about you, it is all about what Christ has already done to secure forgiveness and redemption for those who come to Him by faith.

Believers face a real enemy who wants to destroy their witness and effectiveness for Christ. Take comfort in knowing that our enemy is already defeated. I am not sure what you are going through or getting ready to go through but put on your spiritual armor and realize that you are in the middle of war. Read Ephesians 6:10-20.

The Christian life is not about the Christian, it is about the Christ who gave Himself as a sacrifice to pay the debt that you and I could never pay.