Pastor's Words for Living

Some Good News For A Change

The Summer Olympics begin this week in London and there will be plenty of stories written around the world in the coming days.  These stories will be a lot different than what typically dominates the media.  We might actually see some good news for a change.

If you are a fan of devotion and perseverance, the Olympics has to be on your list of things to watch.  While some athletes step outside the boundaries of what is right, most will be competing because of talent,  incredible hours of hard work, and perseverance.  That is something everyone can cheer for in this world filled with corner-cutters.

World Magazine has an article on seven particular competitors that should interest followers of Christ.  These folks see this opportunity to compete as more than the chase for medals.  Use the attached link and check it out.

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Does Anyone Really Know What Is Going On?

It seems that we awake almost every morning to another senseless tragedy that man has perpetrated against himself.  Speaking as one who expects certain random disasters to plague our planet, I find this perpetual onslaught of self-inflicted devastation to be breath-taking.  The latest example occurred last night.  While I and many others rested comfortably and peacefully under the covers, twelve people were shot in cold blood while watching a movie at a theater in Aurora, Colorado.  Earlier this week, six people lost their lives when a young man boarded a tour bus in Bulgaria and detonated a bomb.  Five 14 and 15 year old boys have been arrested in Philadelphia this week for raping a 12-year-old girl at a recreation center Monday.  We might chalk it up to a bad week if this was not closer to the norm in our culture today.  Does anyone really know what is going on?

I find myself drawn to Romans 1:28.  The entire chapter is an indictment against natural man and his blatant rebellion against God.  The entire chapter is oppressive, but verse 28 has to be one of the saddest in all Scripture.  It says, "Because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong."  They chose to ignore God and His rightful worship, so God gives them what they want.  They have worthless minds or reprobate minds that are filled with desires and intentions to do what is morally wrong.  They have no regard for God, instead seeking to make themselves gods which results in self-destruction.

It does not take a great intellect to recognize the parallels between the senseless and tragic events unfolding around us every day, and the somber description of Romans 1.  This reality should compel each of us to become powerful and committed intercessors.  We should be crying out to God in repentance and desperation continually.  We should be passionately praying for God's redeeming grace to invade the lives of the billions of people who currently live for themselves and not for Christ.  We should be faithful in making the name of Christ known among all people.

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Praying for All the Body of Christ

While the American society is changing rapidly and not for the better, we are merely catching up with the rest of the world.  The day may come when Christians will be openly persecuted in our country, but it has long been the practice in other places around the world.

Check out this article about a young Iranian pastor and the challenges he is facing.  May his story compel you to pray for those around the world being persecuted for their faith in Christ.

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Outside the American Bubble

The world often looks at Americans and sees a people consumed with themselves.  In actuality, this is probably true of most humans.  However, Americans do seem quite preoccupied with their own lives and almost oblivious to happenings in other places around the world.  While it may be characteristic of our American culture, American christians would be well served to keep a close eye on world events.  There is much to learn and even more for us to pray about.  Maybe a good place to begin would be Egypt and the impact of recent elections upon Christ followers there.  Did you know that the largest evangelical congregation in the Middle East is located in Cairo right near Tahrir Square?  

Check out this article from World Magazine and re-shape your prayers.

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Children & Church In The 21st Century

Christians most often think of sin as something a person does that violates God’s rules.  Scripture makes it clear that sin can be something we fail to do.  James 4:17 says, “to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  For example, we know it is God’s desire for us to love one another, proclaim the gospel to the lost, and give our tithes and offerings.  To neglect these things is sinning by omission.

One of the great challenges facing the modern church is insuring the safety of children.  Predators come in numerous forms today and many churches unwittingly provide an easy opportunity for them to engage in abusive behavior toward minors.  This is something all of us have seen in the news headlines, yet, we find comfort in the misplaced confidence that it would never happen in our church.  Adopting this position is a dangerous mistake.  First Corinthians 10:12 warns us against such presumption, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Abusive behavior does happen and it happens in churches.  It could happen at Crabapple in spite of what we believe.  We have a responsibility to make the safety of those who visit our campus a matter of genuine prayer.  We must also do our due diligence in making our campus a safe environment, particularly for our children and youth.  We have sought the counsel of experts in this area and are working diligently to develop and execute appropriate policies to fulfill this responsibility.  Our objective is to protect those God entrusts to us, instill confidence in parents, and guard the testimony of our church.  In order to be successful we need the membership to understand, engage, and support these efforts.

What does this look like?  It begins with total church involvement.  It is important that we have an abundance of workers in our children and youth ministries.  There is strength in numbers.  When the volunteer staffs are stretched thin, the number of eyes observing are reduced.  This weakens our defenses and can become an invitation to predators. 

We have carefully crafted policies and procedures that are designed to protect children and youth, as well as our workers.  It is critical that volunteers understand the need for the policies, follow the policies, and encourage fellow workers to do the same.

We require volunteers in our children and youth ministries to be church members for a minimum of six months before beginning their service.  We also ask volunteers to allow us to do a national background check periodically.  It is important for you to understand that the results of these checks are not available to anyone at our church unless a serious issue is discovered.  The purpose is not to discover things like traffic violations, tax evasion, or bankruptcies.  We are concerned with issues pertaining to working with minors.  We are looking for things that cast doubt about an individual working with children.  If the background search service finds something of this nature, then, and only then, would a church leader be alerted.

We appreciate all who serve faithfully at Crabapple, especially in our children and youth areas.  It is our heartfelt desire to build a generational church here.  We want to be stronger in the years to come than we are now.  We want to build a legacy of eternal dimensions.  How we take up the challenges of this modern era will determine our success.  

David Roach has written an important article in this month's SBC Life.  Check it out using the link below.

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