Friday, February 17, 2017

The Loss Of A Loved One:

Sooner or later we will all have to face the death of a loved one. Christians meet this reality more than most because we belong to a bigger family: the church. In the body of Christ, God blesses us with many brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers — all dear loved ones whose spiritual bond with us will never be severed (Mark 3:31–35).

We must all reckon with death. Someday we will all confront our own end, but along the way, we will also witness beloved friends and family pass from this life into the next. Death is a real enemy — a frightening enemy. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

I have watched people die in front of me. I have lost friends, young and old. Death is always ugly. Death always brings sorrow. And there is nothing wrong with grief in the face of death. Jesus himself wept over the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:35). God has so designed us that death is unnatural to us. We were meant to live.

But when we lose a loved one who is a believer, we need to remember an important truth that will help us deal with the loss. Grief will inevitably strike us, but by God’s grace, sorrow does not have to overcome us. This truth gets to the heart of the Christian faith and offers us insight into the person of Christ, the God-man.

Jesus Desires You

In John 17:24, we read words that, on close and prayerful reflection, should be very near to our hearts when a loved one dies. Carefully consider the language:

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

As a man, Jesus has certain desires. He had desires on earth, and he still has desires in heaven. Here, Jesus has a desire that he makes known to the Father. He speaks, as he often has before that, of those whom the Father has given him (see John 6:37, 39; 10:29; 17:6, 9). Those whom the Father has given to Christ are the very sheep for whom the Good Shepherd laid down his life (John 10:11). Jesus prays to the Father for his beloved sheep in the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, and he continues to intercede for them to this very day (Romans 8:34).

And what does Jesus desire?

He desires that his people be with him. Jesus is completely happy and satisfied as he reigns from heaven, but according to his prayer in John 17, he still has a certain unfulfilled desire: that his people join him in the home he has already prepared for them (John 14:2–4).

We May Lose, But Jesus Gains

When a brother or sister in the Lord dies, we should remember first and foremost that the Father has answered Jesus’s prayer. God is sovereign over our loved ones’ deaths, and he has purposes we may never understand (Deuteronomy 32:39; James 4:15), but we can cling to the truth that Jesus has prayed for his Father to bring his people home. When a Christian dies, the Father is granting to his Son a request that he first prayed nearly two thousand years ago on the night before he gave up his life for his people.

We can at least say this much: When a loved one passes, Jesus gains a lot more than we have lost.

Yes, we have lost. We will never again share sweet fellowship with that brother or sister in this life. The magnitude of the loss often eludes our words. But the loss is never beyond Jesus’s words: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.”

Eternal Joy Beyond the Grave

Jesus knows he has a glory that is far beyond anything this world can offer. He knows that a true sight of him is worth more than millions of worlds. He knows that the sight of his glory will leave no one unsatisfied. Jesus is eager for his precious saints to enter true, eternal happiness with him.

We certainly taste many joys in this life, but nothing can compare to the pure delight of unhindered fellowship with Jesus. We are destined for unspeakable joy in his presence.

An Answer to Prayer

When you lose a loved one in the Lord to the Lord, you have indeed lost — at least for now. But that brother or sister has gained, and so has Jesus (Philippians 1:20–23). We may shed enough tears to fill buckets, but those streams of tears running down our cheeks will glisten with joy when we realize that our loved one’s death is nothing less than an answer to Jesus’s prayer.

The death of a dear loved one in the Lord may present one of the greatest tests of our faith. But can we trust that our loved one is better off with the Beloved? Will we believe that the Son of God is reaping the fruit of his work for sinners? If we do, then our grief is godly grief, and Jesus will turn our sorrow into great joy (John 16:20).

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15), and it can be for us too when we cling to the hope that death will never win (1 Corinthians 15:54–55). Jesus grieved himself so that we will never have to endure hopeless grief in the face of death.

In the end, death is just an answer to Jesus’s prayer.

Pizza: It's Whats For Dinner

I love stereotypes. I know I am not supposed to, but most of the time they are funny because there is a chunk of truth in them. And as far as youth ministry goes, pizza is the one and only food group. Pizza is the anchor to our ministry philosophy and model. While I try so hard to be healthy and provide food options that actually have nutritional value for our students, pizza is still my go to food! And when not pizza, then Oreos and milk.

No matter if you are a health conscious youth ministry or you lean into the way of your forefathers by embracing the Costco $10 extra large pizza, there is something vital to the health of our ministry that is closely linked to providing food for the body and for the soul.

SHARING A MEAL IS A WAY TO SHARE LIFE. 
I think this has to do with the way in which God created us. He made us to be in relationship, to be in intimate relationship. The way that intimacy is expressed most appropriately throughout all time and all cultures is by sharing table fellowship together. Even in a suburban, western culture where individualism and isolation is king, there is still something intimate about eating a meal together.

In Luke 14, Jesus tells a story about a man who is having a banquet and who invites his friends to celebrate with him.  His friends reject him, and the invitation is then sent out to the weakest and poorest and there is still room, so the invitation is sent out to the foreigner until the house is full. It is God’s heart to be in fellowship with His people. To host a meal expresses to those who are invited that they are seen, known, and valued.  They are important enough to pay for and prepare food for.

When we provide food for our students we have an opportunity to express God’s heart for them in a really intimate way. Inviting students to a meal or sharing a meal before youth group says to a student that you want to be with them, that you value them, and that you want to know them. And every human needs this!

SHARING A MEAL IS AN ESCHATOLOGICAL EXPERIENCE.
One day, we will all experience the fullness of this when Jesus ushers in the fulfillment of His Kingdom! But until that day, you and I get to take on the flesh of Jesus, be His actual body, His hands and feet, and usher in part of this experience here on Earth as it will be in Heaven. We are creating an eschatological experience simply by ordering a $10 pizza from Costco!

For as much as youth ministry stereotypes are funny and often true, let us not forget the nobility of our high calling, and see pizza as not just a simple go to for our youth ministry, but see pizza as the tool we use to express God’s heart of love and mercy towards our students!

May we be the body of Christ and provide an experience where our students are seen, known, and valued by a simple invite to share a meal together.  And may that meal be PIZZA!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Children Need Prayer:

My children: Piper and Bryant need your prayers. They need your prayers because they are Pastor Kids.

Why exactly is it that pastors’ kids (PKs) need prayer? What makes them so special? Actually, nothing. They are just like all their peers—the same weaknesses, the same proclivity to sin, and made in the image of God, too. All in all, PKs are a pretty normal bunch.

And there you have it, the reason they need prayer: they’re normal. Yet when you put normal people in uniquely challenging circumstances, things get difficult, and growing up in a family wherein the father’s vocation is full-time ministry is definitely uniquely difficult.

A pastor’s family often functions as the “first family” of the church, setting the bar in all things spiritual and moral. They are the exemplars of ministry and life. They’re always being observed, and with that comes expectations. The church expects certain behaviors and personas from their leaders’ families.

So you can see why it is that a pastor’s kid could use some extra prayer. Growing up is a challenge all by itself—learning, growing, hormones, identity crises, unrequited love, sports heartbreak, relational drama, school, spiritual life, siblings, parents, and more. Now imagine doing all that while a church watches, expecting you to be a good little Christian. Where can a PK hide? Where can she hide her mistakes and her insecurities? More deeply, where can she connect with Jesus deeply and genuinely, not as just another expectation?

Most people in the church love the pastor’s family. They have no intention of adding to the pressure or pain of PKs, so what can they do to ease the burden? More than anything, the church can pray.

THAT THEY WOULD KNOW JESUS

One of the most significant challenges PKs face is a true connection with Jesus Christ. All the knowledge and trivia and Bible memory doesn’t equal a saving relationship with Christ. On the contrary, sometimes knowing all that good stuff actually tricks PKs into thinking they have one. So many PKs know of Jesus, but all the morality, expectations, and knowledge blind them to His heart-transforming reality. Only a miracle of the Holy Spirit revealing Jesus to someone can truly save. Pray this miracle, that Jesus would be visible through all the stuff that happens in His name.

THAT THEY WOULD FIND THEIR IDENTITY IN JESUS

When people grow up under significant expectations, it is natural to gauge themselves by those expectations. Am I what I am supposed to be? Am I pleasing the right people? PKs see themselves as what others want them to be instead of what God made them to be. For PKs, those standards often look very “Christiany,” very moral, very “churchy.” Christian kids know they are not to measure themselves by “worldly” standards but rather by biblical ones, and these churchy standards sure look biblical. But something is amiss. Meeting churchy standards still feels empty.

Why? Because it is the wrong place to find one’s identity. A follower of Christ is a new creation in Jesus. With that comes freedom to live a life made full by honoring Jesus instead of a life made harried by meeting expectations.

THAT THEY WOULD LOVE THEIR FAMILY

Pressure crushes things, and a cracking family is one of the devil’s favorite ways to undermine a pastor’s ministry. It’s an exploitable weakness and a nerve to be jabbed. When a PK crumbles under the pressure of ministry, she often blames her parents. (Sometimes they even deserve it for heaping that pressure on.) More subtly, the practice of being “just so” for the church can carry over into the home and stilt relationships. Instead of honesty, transparency, trust, and love, there is a void between family members.

THAT THEY WOULD LOVE THE CHURCH

PKs see more of the ugly in a church than anyone but the staff does. They see how ministry can pull apart their families. All the expectations can frustrate and embitter them. That’s why some PKs rebel and abandon church altogether. On the other hand, PKs get to see the best parts of the church too—deep friendships, changed lives, needs meet, souls transformed. Pray that the good would outweigh the bad, that they would recognize that there is bad everywhere humans gather, and that the church provides hope and richness like nowhere else.

FOR GRACE

People who grow up in church hear all about grace but often know very little of it. It is God’s grace that reveals Jesus and connects a PK to Him. It’s grace that overcomes and redeems the failures of family and church. It is God’s grace flowing through the church to the PK and through the PK to the church that enables the relationship to flourish. Grace is the thread that ties each of these needs together and the means by which God can grant them. Pray for the miraculous grace that covers a multitude of sins, restores the fallen and the bruised, and ties God’s people together.

Please pray for my children. Thank you in advance.

Worthy and Able:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.-Hebrews 11:17

For many of you right now-and for others of you the time is coming- obedience feels like the end of a dream. You feel that if you do what the word of God or the Spirit of God is calling you to do, it will make you miserable and that there is no way that God could turn it all for good.

Perhaps the command or call of God you hear just now is to stay married or stay single, or stay in that job or leave that job, to get baptized, to speak up at work about Christ, to refuse to compromise your standards of honesty, to confront a person in sin, to venture a new vocation, to be a missionary. And as you see it in your limited mind, the prospect of doing this is terrible-it's like the loss of Isaac, the only son who can be the heir.

You have considered every human angle, and it is impossible that it could turn out well.

Now you know what it was like for Abraham. This story is in the Bible for you.

Do you desire God and his way and his promises more than anything, and do you believe that he can and will honor your faith and obedience by being unashamed to call himself your God, and to use all his wisdom and power and love to turn the path of obedience into the path of life and joy?

That is the crisis you face now: Do you desire him? Will you trust him? The word of God to you is: God is worthy and God is able.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

February Newsletter 2017:

1.       Super Bowl Party: Sunday Night at 6:00 pm-End of Game. Cost: One side dish.

2.       During the month of February, CREW will be raising money for our local pregnancy center by filling baby bottle with loose change. Details coming THIS Sunday.

3.       Caswell Summer Camp: June 19-24th. Deadline to sign up for camp is March 31st. Cost: $150. This year we will have a house at the beach. Please encourage your son or daughter to attend and also encourage them to bring a friend.

4.       Discipleship NOW Weekend: March 24-25th. Cost: $ 30 We will be partnering with Becks Baptist Church to host a jam-packed God honoring weekend. The weekend will include worship, preaching, lock-in, food, hanging out, serving our community: both church and a local apartment complex. We will wrap up the weekend by going to Winter Jam where we will hear 12 Contemporary Christian artists and another dynamic message. It’s going to be an exciting weekend to remember. More details coming.


Dear Parents:

During the month of February students in CREW Student Ministry will be filling baby bottles with loose change to support our local pregnancy center. The pregnancy center exists to offer nonjudgmental pregnancy support, parenting programs, referrals for community resources, STD and sexual integrity education, and post-abortive care.

Sunday, January 22, 2017 marked the 44th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Roe vs. Wade was the landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. Since the decision by the Supreme Court over 50 million innocent lives have been legally murdered and the number is still growing.

Below is a graphic account of different types of techniques used in an abortion. WARNING: It is graphic.

Dilation and CurettageOccurs early before the human life is 3 month old
The cervix is dilated and the uterine wall is scraped
The baby is cut to pieces

SuctionHuman life is 3-4 months old
Fluid is removed from the water bag and replaced with a concentrated salt solution
The baby is slowly burned and poisoned
Death takes about an hour

HysterotomyHuman life is 5-6 months old
Same procedure as C-section but with a different desired outcome
Doctors are given latitude to neglect or kill a baby if it remains alive after being removed
Usually the head is crushed in the womb to make sure a dead fetus comes out.

Dilation and Extraction-D&EHuman life is 6-9 months old
Cervix is dilated, and the baby is turned around and pulled out upside down & backwards until only the top of the head remains in the mother's body
The doctor holds the baby face down in his hands and punctures the back of the skull (which hurts but does not kill the baby)
He then inserts a tube and sucks the brains out (kills the baby).

I pray that this post has opened your eyes to the horror of abortion. A modern day holocaust is occurring all around us and your son or daughter is going to be working to stop this from happening. On Sunday students will receive a baby bottle which they will fill with loose change throughout the month. All proceeds will go to our local pregnancy center.


(Information taken from (Dr. Heimbachs; Ethics class at Southeastern Seminary)