One Church, One Family

Text: Romans 12:1-13

“An effective team is only as good as its members. No one holds the market on value. Sometimes we fail to see the value in each other. For instance, a sea captain and his chief engineer were arguing over who was most important to the ship. To prove their point to each other, they decided to swap places. The chief engineer ascended to the bridge, and the captain went to the engineer room. Several hours later, the captain suddenly appeared on deck covered with oil and dirt. “Chief!” he yelled, waving aloft a monkey wrench. “You have to get down there: I can’t make her go!”

“Of course you can’t,” replied the chief. “She’s aground!”

Both were responsible for the ship’s problems. It started when the two men lost sight of its other’s value. On any team one does not seek to better the other; one depends on the other.

That is a good picture of the church. If the church is going to go anywhere, each member has to realize his/her part and do it. We must understand the value of each other.

Why am I addressing this? Certainly God wants Central Schwenkfelder to be an effective church that makes a difference in our community and world. But it cannot happen without each member functioning in the ways in which God has called them. So it begs the question, how can we make the church go places? Are there ways in which Jesus, the head of the church, wants you and me to live out our faith? How must we live out our faith in relationship to the body of Christ? Let me give a couple of answers, as we love God by functioning as “One Church, One Family.” The first…


Romans 12:1:

“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans is the power of God in the gospel. In 1:16-17, Paul speaks of justification- accepted in the eyes of a holy God. This is done through, or by means of faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout this letter, the apostle develops the need for justification (our sin), how we are justified (Jesus’ sacrificial death) and the application of justification (faith). In Romans 12, Paul says that faith is not just something mental, but it is active.

Faith must be lived sacrificially …through the mercies of God. The Greek preposition gives off the meaning that through or by means of the grace of God, we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. The verb means “to present, to show; to offer, to yield, even to dedicate.” In the Old Testament, animals were killed then placed upon the alter to be offered up to God. It was an act of devotion and a means of atonement for sin. Since Jesus was our ultimate sacrifice, Paul says that we’re to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. The Greek means sacrifice or offering. It was something that completely belonged to God. Here, our bodies are to be living sacrifices. Body here would denote our whole persons: our minds, our bodies, our interests, our talents, our service, our compassions. Since Jesus is the final blood sacrifice, both Jew and Gentile can now serve God while living.

Quite a difference with how we sometimes view our faith. Coming to faith in Christ is often understood as that which you do in order to get more comfort, more peace, and more benefits, such as fire insurance. Although there is tremendous personal benefit to being a Christian, we must not look at Jesus only as a means of self-help. Our view of membership ought to be one of service and sacrifice, not that of consumerism. Consumerism has negatively affected the church. Consumerism says: “I’m joining this church because they have a product I like. I’ll be here as long as I’m satisfied with the product. When I’m not, I’ll complain until I can’t take it anymore.” Under such pretense, many get upset and leave, only to go to some other congregation with the same false expectations. This leads to more frustration and eventual drop-out.

Verse four states:

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

This passage also teaches that we must: “… recognize that there is a diversity of gifts represented in each congregation, Paul stresses that those who have gifts should use them for the good of the body and in humility.” (Waters, 191). When our spiritual gifts are in operation, love, service to one another, building each other up, is common place.

As we offer our bodies as living sacrifices, dedicating ourselves to God, we employ the gifts He has given us for ministry. When the Bible speaks of membership in the body of Christ, it has to do with service to God as an act of gratitude for all that He’s done for me. John F. Kennedy, our late president of nearly 50 years ago, is known for a statement during his 1961 inaugural address. Facing a tremendous task ahead of him, Kennedy stated that the work at hand would not be finished in the first 100 days of his administration, nor the first 1,000 days, or “perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.” Nevertheless, he announced, “Let us begin. … And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” I’d like to encourage us to think about that statement in reference to the church and how we understand membership. Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church.

Living out our faith sacrificially implies faithfulness. We need to get back to faithfulness. God calls each of us to faithfulness. One person states:
“It is in the church, week after week, where we learn faithfulness. It is in the church where discipleship is carried out. It is in the church where accountability is modeled. It is in the church of Jesus Christ where we find the doctrinal roots that establish our faith.”

Your goal is to be faithful. To contribute. Are you faithful? Why are you on this earth, to live for yourself? Or to live for Him? Are you willing to sacrifice yourself to live more for Him? Dr. Guy Waters says that “… obedience is the response of the Christian to God’s goodness in Christ.” The list of imperatives in Romans 12 as necessary task of Thanksgiving toward God for his goodness. Lastly, …


In the next three years, we’re trusting God to build our church body by your significant participation in a small group or a discipleship pathway that regularly graduates leaders and church members.

To develop a pathway that guides an attender to become a disciple of Christ, and then a member, and finally a leader. We want to create opportunities for casual connections.

“Casual connections become portals to the kind of authentic community God designed and for which people are longing. We see ourselves as one church family, offering help and hope to all. By attending and participating at Central, you will certainly know that you are welcome, loved, accepted, and needed. By participating in one of our small groups, finding your place to serve, and growing and spiritual maturity, you will be sharing real life with real people who are on the same transformative journey.”

Because it is in a small group the real community and fellowship can take place. Where individuals pray for each other. Where individuals see a need and react/respond. Where there is shared learning rather than just One Direction learning.

This will undoubtedly require some flexibility. It means some classes intentionally dividing to make two classes. It means some of you opening up your home is to hold a small group there for folks that want to be a part of our church, but cannot make it for Sunday school hour. It also requires some flexibility I’m on our youth. This will require restructuring current classes and creating new growth opportunities and classes.

Because the goal of such efforts is to encourage a one church, one family experience. Scottish theologian and Pastor James Torrance says that God‘s primary purpose for humanity is for filial…we have been created by God to find our true being-in-communion, and sonship, in the mutual personal relationships of love.” (Torrance, 38).

And this requires us to provide more opportunities to learn together, worship together, serve together, and be together! Verse three states: “For through the grace. This church, its operations, its assets, its programs, belongs to and exists for the glory of God in Jesus Christ. The Living Insights Bible puts it like this: “A vital sign of a healthy church is the exaltation of Christ as Head and supreme authority. Let us never forget that the body has one Head, and only one. The Head, remember is Christ. He-alone-is-Lord.”

In order to have a vibrant faith, we must remain connected to Jesus and with others, just as He said in John 15:5: “I am the vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in Him bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Lastly, faith was not given to you to make your life easier, or more enjoyable. Faith was given so that you might be more like Christ.

What work has God called you to do? Or is it to be employed in His operations. How can I help His cause? There are many needs at Central. We need Sunday school teachers, leaders, those committed to prayer, those to help with various tasks. Stewardship is defined as everything you do after you say you believe. Our Church Council has made it one of our goals to foster spiritual gift awareness in our church. Spiritual gifts are special abilities God has given you to aid others in the body of Christ. You are employed by God to use them. In the future, it is hoped that you will take a spiritual gifts inventory to find out the type of ministry God has called you to do in His church. I hope you’ll take every advantage of it.

There are two ways in which our faith must be lived out in three ways: sacrificially, generously and openly. A young schoolboy was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother knew that he had set his heart on it, though she was afraid he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, she drove to school to pick him up. The young lad rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. Then he said some words to her that should remain a lesson to us all: “Mom, I have been chosen to clap and cheer!” In the same way, God has lovingly chosen each of us for different and special tasks, no matter the significance we might place on them, great or small.

The Greatest Gift of All

Christmas causes us to ask the question, “Who is this?” If you were to ask the people of Nazareth, they may say: “he was Mary and Joseph’s son, who grew up a carpenter.” Jesus was not warmly received by everyone. In Mark 6, He went to his hometown of Nazareth and was coldly received by his peers and others with whom He was raised.

If you were to ask the disciples, they would say: “He is the Lord of glory, who even the wind and waves obeyed Him!” (See Mark 4:35-41)

If you were to ask the angels of heaven, they would say: “He is good news for all people- the Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2 is a familiar Christmas passage, one about the Greatest Gift of All. It contains an announcement, news made public. Announcements are as useful to today as they were 2,000 years ago. Throughout history, they have come in varied mediums. In the Ancient Near East, they were given audibly. Today, we see them come across the ticker on our television set. We hear them over an intercom, or read them on the front page of the newspaper. An announcement is meant to inform, to prepare us. With this in mind, we must ask, what was the greatest announcement of all time? Its bearers: the angels of heaven. Its hearers: the shepherds of Palestine. It’s content: God. It was and remains today the most important announcement of human history.

But today, we see how the angels appeared to the shepherds and answered the question: “Who is this?”

Let me explain. Luke 2:10 reads, But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. The angel brought to the shepherds of long ago, …good news of great joy that will be for all the people. When was the last time you heard some really good news? If we pick up our local newspapers or flick on the news at ten, we are given plenty of bad news. But the angels said this would be good news for all people. In other words, all people without distinction. We see this in the message’s first recipients. It would not be for just the rich or ruling. It was not exclusive to the merchant class. Shepherds were not your upper middle class of ancient Palestine. They were poor and smelled bad. Rather, this announcement would be good news for all people: black and white, men and women, poor and rich, ruling and ruled.

Do you need good news? The application to you this: Jesus came for you regardless of your race, your gender or your assets. He came in spite of who you are or what you have done. He came to provide for your greatest need. Christ came for you. Do you know that if you were the only one on this earth, Jesus still would have come to die on the cross for you? And this is good news. But why, you might ask? Next, we find that…

Once again, …the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. The reason that Christmas is good news to you and me is because Jesus is the world’s only Savior. In order to appreciate the good news, you must first understand the bad news. You see each one of us has disobeyed God from birth. Since the fall of humankind, not a one of you was taught how to lie, how to be selfish, how to steal. You do that naturally. The late R.C. Sproul said, “We are not sinful because we sin; we sin because we are sinful.” Because the God of the universe is perfect in character, all sin greatly offends Him, and requires His judgment.

But God, in His love, sent Jesus to be the answer to our horrible predicament.
Jesus was God’s promised gift. At the time of the fall, we see from Genesis chapter three that God promised to put enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Genesis 3 15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Jesus is the One who crushes Satan’s head. And for that, we must be thankful.

The birth of Christ answers our hearts greatest longing. He is the fulfillment of God’s promise Christmas is a reminder of hope, that God saw our greatest need and provided it for us. Someone once wrote:

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

Think about it. God, looking upon your plight, sent His only Son to deliver you from such a dilemma. This is why Jesus is called Savior. The Greek word means one who rescues, one who delivers, one who preserves. It is the same word used in Matthew 1:21 in which the angel said to Joseph concerning his fiancée Mary: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” That has been good news for me. Whereas I have offended God through my actions, a relationship with God can be reestablished through faith in the who came and gave His life for me.

Kevin DeYoung states:
“The point of the gospel is not that Jesus saves us from low self-esteem, or from singleness, or from our crummy job. Sin is our deepest, most fundamental, most pervasive problem. Other teachers and heroes may be able to save us from life’s stresses and disappointments, but with this problem of sin, there is only One who can save, and His name is Jesus.”

Jesus was also called Christ. This was His title. Christ was the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew term Messiah, God’s chosen One who was promised to come to redeem Israel.

And He was also known as Lord. Jesus is Lord. That means He is Master. He is God in the flesh, the Second Person of the Trinity, and the One who the angels worship.

Not to be overlooked was the fact that this message was delivered by angels, God’s messengers. Luke 2:13: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”

These angels bore the message to the shepherds. God’s most important messages were always delivered by angels. They would sometimes bring messages of judgement. Other times they would announce warning or doom. Still other times they would deliver messages of encouragement. Here, they chose to appear to shepherds, which tells us that God cares for the common person.

This gift is exactly what we needed. Dare I say Jesus is the reason we give gifts at Christmas time. American author E. B. White said: “To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”

I could never erase the guilt of my disobedience, Christ did it for me when He died on the cross. By virtue of His death, he saves those who come to Him by faith. Hebrews 7:25 tells us, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him… Christmas is good news because of what Christ did for us.
Let us never miss the meaning of Christmas. In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” The editor had completely missed the point! Don’t miss the point of Christmas. Jesus came for you.

A Tribute to Eric M. Landoll

On April 7, 2017, we lost a dear man and good friend, Eric Landoll. The day of his memorial service contained some irony. On the one hand, it is not common, and certainly not fun, to reflect on a life that ended too soon. 48 years old is young by most standards. I’m sure you agree. On the other hand, nearly 300 guests gathered at his service to remember a young man who was loved and who loved many. It was a blessing to have known this quiet soul who would be the first to say hello; the first to ask how you were doing; and the first to greet you with a smile.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– A time to give birth, and a time to die… .” These words might give you the impression that death is something natural, just because it is expected. After all, the Scripture attributes a time for “…everything under heaven.” There is a certain inevitability associated with death. But it is never to be thought of natural in the purest sense.

Death entered our world for a reason. That reason is due to the presence of sin. Humankind was the crown of God’s creation; made in God’s image with a mind, will and emotions. And yet, he fell. Our first parents disobeyed God and offended Him. Their rebellion against God brought a sentence of death for everyone (Romans 5:12). All people die because all sin. We are told in Hebrews 9:27 that it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…. Every human being has an appointment to appear before the sovereign God of the universe and give an account for his/her life. Although created by God and for God, you and I have offended God through our thoughts and our actions.

But as alarming as this situation may sound, it was for this reason that Jesus Christ came to this earth as God incarnate so many years ago. Christ died and rose again to abolish death for those who trust in Him. Note Christ’s words in John 11:25, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Jesus makes the invitation to anyone: “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The rest that Jesus provides is soul rest, that comes from knowing Him, trusting Him and following Him.

The Christian possesses the sweet knowledge and anticipation of life after death, because Jesus arose from the dead. The Christian lives in this world knowing that his real home is not of this world. Rather God has prepared a place for him. Death is a transition from one state of life to another. Jesus said in John 14:1:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

And, Paul wrote that when we are absent from the body, we are …at home with the Lord. This is good news for the Christian, especially when he finds himself in a world where there is so much death. So there is urgency for all to repent of their sins and place their trust in Jesus Christ, in order to possess heaven as their home.”

So how can you become a Christian and access this life that Jesus spoke so regularly of? There are two things necessary: repentance and faith. At the outset of His ministry, Jesus preached: “The time is fulfilled; the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.

Repentance means to change. It is implied in the act of confession, where a person comes before the Lord in prayer, and asks for forgiveness and turns from their wrongful deeds.

The other act is faith- which goes beyond believing that there is a God. But means embracing God, following Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” Such is the clear path to an eternity with God.

Regarding our good friend, Eric, I wish I could have had one more conversation with him. Wish I could have hugged his neck one more time; and told him how much he meant to me. But that did not happen to our choosing. We must resign ourselves to God’s will in these matters. As it says in the book of Job: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed by the name of the Lord.”

What can we say about Eric? Lots of things like sharp, scholarly, classy, funny, handsome, winsome, kind, helpful and good. Other words are loving, caring, witty, ornery and humble.

High School
My earliest recollection of him was his part time job on the square. Eric was hired by Lyle Catron to represent Shanks and Sterrett Clothing Store. That was Nevada’s classy store. Eric was the perfect person for the job because he was classy. His temperament and dress made him a great choice for the job.

A member of the speech and debate squad in Nevada’s glory years of that sport, Eric thrived at Extemporaneous Speaking. Under the direction of Tim Gore, Eric fined tuned his speaking skills, which gave him a head start compared to some of his fellow law school students. Eric was an excellent public speaker. He spoke on foreign and domestic subjects. He kept files of current events. Anything from the US Supreme Court to what was going on in Sri Lanka. Eric was good at what he did. He was a critical thinker. I remember going round and round with him about creation vs. evolution.

With Landoll there was always a lot of joking and kidding around. If you were privileged to know him, he may razz you about your personality defects. Beneath it, there was a definite sense of kindness.

E loved the outdoors. He liked to fish and hunt and he loved to camp. On one of those camping trips where high school boys are up to absolutely no good, Eric, Chuck Thomas, Suresh Dalai, John Garton and some others were gathered near everyone’s vacation spot, the Marmaton River. After a few hours of actually lying on the tents as they lay flat against the earth, it was decided that camp must be set up. The problem was that it was getting dark. And it was discovered that the wrong pegs were brought, or maybe no pegs at all. Eric then asked: “Have you guys ever been camping before!?”

Post High School
You could describe Eric as smart, a sharp young man. He was well liked by many older, peers and younger. My friendship with him ramped-up in 1988. I had known Eric and we had experienced some good times together. Coming home from Christmas break and needing to make a change in schools, I enrolled at Missouri Southern. I attended a basketball game that evening at the High School. Eric was there and welcomed me to my new school, assuring me of a good experience and a good time.

That spring, Eric, Tom Weakley, Pat Wood, Brian Schneider and I spent a lot of time together. Those were happy times. As roommates, we would cook, lift weights at the YMCA; listen to “Guns and Roses” blaring in his navy blue 66 Mustang with cherry interior went down the road.

Eric was very smart. He was determined to get a good education and do well. After graduating from Missouri Southern with his business degree, he attended Mizzou law school. Eric saw himself as a helper to others. In this way he was incredibly selfless.

Dylan Murray was attending Mizzou at the time and was thinking of applying to law school. This is what he posted: “He was always a friend to me in Nevada, and also at MU, where I recall him giving me some great advice about the LSAT Law School entrance test and about what to expect in Law School. I will always recall him very fondly.”

Eric became good friends with Mike McCaffree. On another adventure in the great outdoors, Mike and Eric went on a float trip to the Elk River near Noel, Missouri. McCaffree had a broken arm, thus making E do all of the paddling on a river that barely has any current. Clearly, this was a well thought out plan, by McCaffree! Eric reminded him often.

Eric was caring and fun, but he also knew tragedy. Eric had lost his beloved older brother Russ to a tragic car accident. Others had experienced loss; one of our friends lost his dad tragically. At a party, I stepped outside and found Eric and our friend shedding some tears, encouraging each other over who they had lost. Eric was someone you could talk to. Eric lost his mother to cancer and his Gerald, to whom he was especially close, in 2007.

Latter years
Eric practiced law in Nevada for 20 years. He was an exceptional lawyer and enjoyed having to think quickly and communicate clearly with a line of reasoning. He developed an excitement for the preparation and the opportunity to be judged for his efforts.

He was not “cut-throat,” but cared about the individual. He fielded his fair share of divorce cases. The first two or three, he got the couples to reconcile. This did not help his bank account, but gave him satisfaction. The toughest part about the job was seeing homes divided and kids displaced. Eric was sensitive and surprisingly patient. He had a deep sense of the good. He was anchored morally and had a sense of what was right.

In 1996, Eric married the love of his life, Angie. Eric was a catch and so was Angie. They were a handsome couple. Angie had moved to our area from Iowa. She was a student at Iowa State. Eric and Angie’s love was so strong that it endured a long distance relationship, before the inventions of texting, email and unlimited long distance. They waited until 11 p.m. to talk on the phone, so as to have cheaper phone bills. Angie and Eric were married for 21 years. From this union were born three beautiful children: Abbey, Clay and Carter.

This is what Eric said in a text conversation I had with him just a month ago. We were bragging about our kids, or complaining about the challenges of life. Here’s what he said:

“Dave. I promise you, I’m fine. I know you married me to the best woman in the world, and for that I thank you. I’m happy to break bread with you but please don’t fret over my welfare.

I’m absolutely fine. Clay missed state by two points this year. David Dade was the ref. He does a great job refereeing.

Abbie got a big scholarship when she graduated. She’s doing good things with it at MU. Has a 3.8+ gpa in the honors journalism program.

I don’t go around bragging to anyone else, but Clay has 3.9+ gpa, action-class, Varsity cross country, varsity wrestling, stucco, junior class vp., drum major. Angie and I are very fortunate. …. went to Missouri Scholars Academy at Mizzou last summer for three weeks, is going to Boys State this year, but I still want to pinch his head off for being such a jerk to his brother.

And he was quite fond of Carter. Even just recently, he bought Carter a cantaloupe because Carter liked cantaloupe. “Here you go buddy. Here’s your cantaloupe.” Carter participated in the 5th grade spelling bee and won third place. But even more important than his finish was the fact that he would “high-five,” his classmates, upon their successful attempts at difficult words. This blessed Eric and made him proud.

This is what Andy Remington posted:

On Friday this world lost another good man. I met Eric Landoll in high school, where we both participated in speech and debate. “E” was a top dog in the class and I used to love to watch him in action. After graduation and college, we both ended back in Nevada, where he began to practice law. Again, I was always in “awe” of his talents. Periodically we’d work together and I remember going to his office and telling him when Donetta was pregnant with Taylor Remington, and we talked about how some day our kids would know each other. We had always kept in touch and over the past few years had been in a group chat room where we spoke several times a day about everything from, politics, cooking, health issues, bragging about our kids, and many “unmentionable” topics as many of you can imagine! Those conversations helped me keep my sanity a lot of days. One thing I’m positive about “E” is that he loved his wife and kids more than anything. Those kids are the most polite, well mannered, and smartest children you’d ever meet. I know a lot of people are going to miss “E”, especially myself and “The Knights of the Golden Hog.” Take care buddy and hope to see you again some day.

I believe that Eric would have liked to be remembered as a hardworking, kind, and helpful soul who loved his family and loved his friends. We were better for having known him. And we can thank God that we had the privilege.

It is easy to let such an event pass with the pain, but with little to no spiritual effect. What would God tell you today? And as we grieve in the days, months and years ahead, may you be reminded that God has given you life and so life must be lived with Jesus at its center. May God bless you and hold you in the palm of His hand. Amen.

The following is a letter that Eric’s seventeen-year-old son, Clay, wrote to his dad on June 22, 2016:

Dear Dad,
In PSD (Personal and Social Dynamics), we were told to think of who we admire/look up to most in our lives. It was a hard question, because I love you and Mom equally, but when it comes to who has taught me more about how to be a man someday, you took the cake. Now that I have an image of you eating pineapple upside-down cake, I can thank you for the unmeasurable amount of effort you have put into being such a gigantic part of my life.

I can’t even remember a time when I questioned your love for me or my love for you. Of course there were times when we couldn’t stand each other, but I feel each time made us a little bit closer. I also appreciate how you’ve always encouraged me to follow my dreams and to work hard so that I am the best me I can be. You taught me to be caring, passionate, trustworthy, and to be a gentleman. You’ve given me a set of tools with which I can carve a life of my own someday. A gift in which I will be forever grateful and appreciative of. I simply would not be anywhere near who I am today without your guidance and involvement in my life.

I know I don’t say it enough, Dad, but I love you. And I thank you. You are an amazing dad, and you’ve shown me how to be a good partner by how you treat Mom. You’ve raised an ever grateful family. So again, thank you.


Why Go to Church?

This is a very good question, especially when more and more people are choosing not to attend church. The statistics regarding church attendance are unfortunate. According to a Gallup poll, 32% of Pennsylvanians attend church services weekly. 20% attend monthly. 47% seldom or never. Could it be that we are transitioning from a time when most people attended a weekly worship service, to now that most people do not? Our culture is growing more post Christian.

But such trends should not affect you or me. In fact, such statistics are indicating that the church must become more intentional in its ministry. People attend worship services because they want to, versus that it is the acceptable thing to do.

For Christians, we see the invaluable worth of setting aside time to worship the King of the universe. Worship is our corporate time to commune with God. In return, it is the church gathering for worship, that we receive the most benefit in our spiritual walk with the Lord. The Reformer John Calvin said:

“The whole world is a theatre for the display of the divine goodness, wisdom, justice, and power, but the Church is the orchestra, as it were—the most conspicuous part of it; and the nearer the approaches are that God makes to us, …the more attentively are we called to consider them.”

When you think about it, the worship service is the opportunity where each of us has something to give. Yes, hopefully we get something out of it, but the worship service is something to which you contribute. The choirs give their ability to make music. The Preacher gives his sermon. Your prayers and your offerings are given to God. And hopefully to this, you give your undivided attention. And when we do, God blesses us. Hopefully, you walk out of here encouraged, inspired, helped, blessed, taught, challenged, corrected and loved.

To see the value in attending the worship service, we turn to a well-known passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

The letter to the Hebrews was written to Christians that were dispersed abroad and suffering persecution for their faith. The theme of the letter to the Hebrews is the supremacy of the sacrifice of Christ.

In many ways, Hebrews stands alone from other portions of Scripture. Hebrews tells us that compared to the Old Testament administration, Jesus functions both as our superior priest and sacrifice. Better than all of the sacrifices established in the days of Moses that provided only temporary atonement for sin, Jesus Christ was the eternal sacrifice. He was the only sinless person that walked the earth. He was a sacrifice without blemish. In our passage, we are told that the only way we can approach God’s throne with confidence is through the blood of Jesus Christ.

No one could enter the holy place except the high priest once per year. When he did so, it was a dangerous thing to do. Because of Christ’s service and sacrifice, we can draw near to God with full assurance. We can relate to God in a new and fresh way. We can have the assurance that our sins have been forgiven and we’ve been released from our debt. Based on what Jesus has done for us, there is a series of imperatives, indicated by the phrase, “Let us….” “Let us draw near, hold fast and stir one another up.” We are first told to…

• draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith….” Jesus is the one who washes us and makes us clean. He provides a clean conscience, although we have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. This separates Christianity from the rest of the world’s faiths. Because of the work of another, I can become a new man. My transgressions can be wiped clean and I can become a child of God, whereas before I was His enemy.

• Next, we are told to “…hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” These Christians were about to lose their faith under the pressure of persecution and the inconveniences of the day. The ultimate question they were wrestling with was: “Wouldn’t it be much easier if we were just to revert to our old Jewish way of life, rather than trusting in and living for Jesus Christ? The answer of course, was a resounding no!

• Finally, we are to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” We need each other. Part of obeying the last instruction is avoiding the keeping of ourselves from meeting with other Christians.

Gerald Hawthorne points out: “These things are of the essence of Christianity. Since their maintenance is dependent upon the mutual interaction of the Christian society, it is absolutely essential that one assemble himself with other Christians if he is to be assured of continued spiritual development. Any type of go-it-alone Christianity is unthinkable… .”

Among the gathering of the saints, there is acceptance. There was support. There was also transparency. And, there was responsibility. Rick Warren, in his well-known book, The Purpose Driven Life, stated: “Being a Christian is more than just believing- it’s belonging. Without a church, you don’t have a spiritual home.” And this really addresses one of the basic needs we have as Christians.

The Church of Jesus Christ should function much like a family. Today, we see our family’s growth as we welcome four new members into Central Schwenkfelder Church. This is a great event and one for which we should thank God.

Receiving new members is a sign of life for the local church. The book of Acts tells us that among the early church, “…the Lord was adding to their number daily, those who were being saved.” We praise God for what He is doing in our midst. But there are other signs of life in the local church in addition to numerical growth.

If our mission is to love God, serve others and grow disciples, then it would make since that this is done, to a large part on Sunday morning when we meet together as a church body.

This is not the only venue or time where this is done, nor can it be the only venue or time where this is done. But it is done, on a Sunday morning.

As our choir sang:
Here are symbols to remind us of our lifelong need of grace;
Here are table, font and pulpit; here the cross has central place.
Here in honesty of preaching, here in silence as in speech,
Here in newness and renewal, God the Spirit comes to each.

Lord of all, of church and kingdom in an age of change and doubt,
Keep us faithful to the gospel, help us work Your purpose out.
Here in this day’s dedication, all we have to give, receive;
We, who cannot live without You, we adore You, we believe.

By attending the worship service, you can respond to and receive from God; you learn about Him and your life is changed because of it. You can encourage others regarding God and His love. It is a time that you can redirect your thoughts from a world not friendly to your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a time that you can pray for others and benefit from prayer.

By not attending the worship service, you miss out on the teaching; miss out on the fellowship; miss out on the opportunity to serve, bless and encourage, Evidently, the believers had experienced a fair amount of suffering and persecution as a result of their faith. It would be easy to keep oneself from the Christian gathering. Verse 32 states:

“But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.”

Today, lots of other things get in the way of our church attendance. Consider the following:

• Sometimes, we get our priorities off. Thom Rainer, the head of Lifeway Christian Resources, says that the number one reason for the decline in church attendance today is that folks do not attend as frequently as they once did. Instead of attending four weeks per month, they attend 2-3. When a quarter of your attendance does not show up one week, that makes a 100 attendee church feel like a 75 attendee church.

• Work. Some people are employed on a Sunday morning or work the graveyard shift on Saturday night into Sunday morning. For some, this cannot be helped. For others, it might simply be an opportunity to communicate to your employer that Sunday morning is important to you and that you ask to have it off.

• Sporting events. Some have made the response that they can worship God in the deer stand, the duck blind, or the golf course. But people do not. Today, more and more kids’ sports leagues are holding their games and/or practices on a Sunday morning. These are competing for the soul of your young person. Would you be different? Would you value the time in worship more than a sports league?

• Family get-togethers; When we changed the worship times a few years ago, I had a couple approach me and say that they did not attend anymore because that was the time that they went out for breakfast with their family. Instead of picking a different time for breakfast, they gave up the church. How sad.

• Our need for rest/sleep; “Sunday is the only day I have to sleep in.” Maybe try going to bed earlier. Or attending the 11:15 Informal worship service.

• Our insecurities, “No one likes me there. I don’t know anyone.” Maybe try getting to know others. If you avail yourself, others will respond. Try introducing yourself. Stick around after the benediction.

• Our dress: As long as most of your body is covered, it really doesn’t matter the type of clothes you wear to worship. As long as it is tasteful, that’s really all that matters.

• Our preferences: There will always be something that doesn’t suit you or the person next to you. Not everyone can be pleased with all aspects of the worship service.

• Our impressions: The church is too conservative; the church is unfriendly; that church is not mission-minded enough. Etc. The church is not designed to suit your preferences. Maybe God is doing something? I would definitely say, “stick around.”

The bottom line is that all of these can stand in the way of your spiritual growth. Satan loves to use these to keep you away. You become vulnerable to your tendency to be uncommitted, Satan’s lies, televangelists who teach heresy (many do) and the lie that says you don’t need the church.

Author Mark DeVries states: “Real community means real responsibility for each other. It means a commitment to be there for each other even when the schedule is tight and when motivation is low.” We do this because Jesus is coming again. And we must be ready. And this is the place to become ready.

A Church goer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday. The letter reads as follows:

“I’ve gone to church for 30 years now. In that time, I have heard something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can’t remember a single one of them. So, I think I’m wasting my time, and the pastors are wasting their time.”

This started a real controversy in the Letters to the Editor column – much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until someone wrote the following clincher:

“I’ve been married for 30 years now. In that time, my wife has cooked some 32,000 meals. But, for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my wife had not given me these meals, I would be physically dead today. Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be spiritually dead today!”

How to Show Love on a Sunday Morning

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart… .”
(1 Peter 1:22 ESV)

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”
(1 Peter 2:1 ESV)

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
(1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

How do you show love on Sunday morning among God’s people? As a Christian, what are some ways to demonstrate that you are interested in the lives of others? Consider the following action points the next time you attend a worship service.

One way is to be outwardly focused. As a church, we can overlook love and become insulated and ingrown. It is common to come to church thinking only about what you will receive rather than what you are able to give. One of the greatest dangers to the health of any church is to become inwardly-focused. If you want your church to grow, you must value people. As Dr. Dave Coryell, Director of Christian Endeavor ( recently said to a group of leaders: “Meaningful conversations and meaningful connections encourage people to stay.” This really applies to everyone. Not just the greeters or the Board of Deacons. Everyone.

Offer a courtesy. Try to think like your neighbor. What are their questions? What are their needs? What may they be curious about when they visit your church? Think like someone who is not a part of the church. Invite the stranger to your Sunday School class. Take the time to answer their questions. As a church bulletin once stated: “We have one pastor, but all of us are ministers!” See yourself as a minister, equipped to serve their needs.

Be available for others. The “greeting time” should not function as planned kindness. We must do this more naturally. If you see someone that you do not know, take the time to approach them. Introduce yourself. Tell them that you’re glad they are here. Take them to the welcome center. And if there is no one there, then be the welcome center! If it is your day to oversee the welcome center, show up early and stay late.

Don’t rush off. After the service, don’t be in a hurry to go to the next thing. Don’t do anything for yourself for at least five, if not ten minutes. Take the time to reach out to others and make them feel welcome. Someone once said: “The church is the only organization that does not exist for itself.”

David Fitch, who pastors in Westmont, Illinois, He encourages his church to take on a godly presence in their homes, neighborhoods, work places and church. He says: “Pray for that space and become sensitive to what God is doing.” (Rob Toal, “Outreach and Evangelism: What Works Today,” CT Pastors, 43). Pastor Fitch encourages his flock to use the dinner table as a means for proactive love and mercy, as well as evangelism.

As Christians, we are called by Christ to be available, provide a godly presence and tell others about the great God we serve.

Fear Not…

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV)

I recently read an article written by an older teenager named Jacki as she cited her three biggest fears ( They were the following:
• Fear of the future;
• fear of failure;
• fear of intimacy and loneliness.

In citing her fear of the future, Jacki said: “As teenagers, we start to realize the idealistic plans we made as kids aren’t sure things. We don’t have control.” Overwhelming can be the feeling of being, “in-between.” “…in-between schools, jobs, plans, and security. Stress lingers. My future was a blank slate, everything was up in the air, and I felt swallowed by the unknown. Fear of the future pressed in.”

The next is a fear of failure. Jacki states: “Failing in school, work, relationships, driving—basically, failing at life. We’re afraid of disappointing those we love and messing up in some extravagant, irreparable way. The fear of failure is paralyzing because it inhibits us from taking risks and moving forward—which is, of course, what growing up is all about.”

The last of the three is a fear of intimacy and loneliness. Jacki says: “This is the season of my life where I’ve never been more aware of how sinful and broken and flawed I am. Yet it’s the season where I’ve never been more aware of trying to cover up my flaws. I’m afraid of people seeing the real me.”

If we were honest, we can identify with Jacki’s state of mind. You and I have encountered those fears or maybe we still do. The feeling of vulnerability is akin to the human experience.

But how we handle our fears is another matter. The Lord Jesus wants us to turn our anxious thoughts into prayers (Philippians 4:6), asking God to be mighty in our lives and slay our fears through faith.

Would you bring your fears before Him today and ask for strength to face them? Would you pray for the young people in your life that may be facing anxiety every day? Ask that God would work in their lives and draw them unto Himself. Remember that Jesus said: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

God’s Protection and Peace

Like many kids across America, my children started back to school today. They were a little anxious, as were their parents. Wanting to get this school year started in the right way is important to all of us. Will they do well? Will they make friends? Will they make good decisions? My situation is small in comparison to those friends who recently dropped their kids off at college for the first time. My heart goes out to them.

As I thought about today, a couple of verses came to mind. One was part of one of David’s recorded prayers. “You hem me in, behind and before,and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it (Psalm 139:5).” This verse tells you where God is in relation to your life. If Jesus is your Lord, He is ever-involved in your circumstances, your life events and your daily concerns. Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian woman who gave refuge to Jews during WWII in her home, said: “There is not pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” Christian, you are never alone.

What are you to do with those thoughts of uncertainty? 1 Peter 5:6-7 says that such thoughts ought to drive us to prayer. “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God… casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” Anxiety is a normal feeling, but it should never rule us. God does not want us to dwell on our insecurities. Rather, we are to give them to Him.

I assured my children that a new school year brought with it new friends, new teachers, new responsibilities, and new opportunities to do well. I encouraged them to do their best, “…for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).” I told them that we were proud of them; that we loved them; and that they were up to the task. Thankfully, day one is in the books. May God give you grace for the days ahead.

What is God’s Will For My Life?

Such is a common question among humankind. So often we approach this subject as if we are “searching for a needle in a haystack.” We want the burning bush, as Moses experienced. Or we want a thundering voice from heaven telling us what we should do. But if it were that simple, where would faith God figure in? Is it not better that we trust God, obey Him, and step out, despite the unknowns?

Augustine of Hippo, the fourth century church father, said: “Love God, and do what you will.” It is my understanding that he wrote this regarding one’s desire to discover God’s will for life. Finding God’s will requires prayer and action.

Consider the following verses. Paul wrote: “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7 ESV) Here, Paul is reminding Christians in Corinth that during their time on this earth, they are physically separated from the Lord. This arrangement is by God’s intentions because it requires faith. Faith always has an unseen element to it.

In addition, consider Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, who said that he would not believe that Jesus arose from the dead unless he could see with his own eyes and touch His wounds. Afterwards, when Christ chose to appear to His disciples in the upper room, He specifically approached Thomas and encouraged him to see and touch. Then, in loving admonition, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 ESV)

Sometimes we long to receive a sign from God. We want to know specifics instructions about who we should marry or to what job we ought to apply. God has already given us timely instructions in His word about such things. Oftentimes, God does not give us the where, why and how of our circumstances. Rather, He wants us to pray: “Lord, guide me along the way,” as we step out in faith, obeying His word and learning from the Holy Spirit in the process.

The Reason for Easter

Although often crowded by the attention given to Spring or the expectation of the Easter Bunny, today has been the foundation of the Christian faith for 2,000 years. Resurrection Sunday is why Christians exist. It is what separates Christianity from all of the world’s religions. It is the deal maker. It is the day that we gather to say: “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Jesus has had a monumental effect on human history. Consider the following statements made by both believers and unbelievers. H.G. Wells, British writer who died in 1946 said:

“I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as an historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all of history. Christ is the most unique person of history. No man can write a history of the human race without giving first and foremost place to [Jesus].”
Daniel Webster, 19th century American politician and the founder of Webster’s dictionary, said: “All that is best in the civilization of today, is the fruit of Christ’s appearance among men.”

Kenneth Scott Latourette, former President of the American Historic Society:
“As the centuries pass by, the evidence is accumulating that measured by its effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet. The influence appears to be mounting. No other life lived on this planet has so widely and deeply affected mankind.”

And finally, Will Durant, popular modern historian and philosopher, when asked what he felt the apex of history was, replied: “The three years that Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth.”

Jesus said many powerful things. His Sermon on the Mount has been acclaimed as the most powerful message delivered in all of history. But His influence is not due to the fact that he was a sage. Sages come and go. It is not because He was wealthy, because he was not. Jesus was born into poverty. It is not because of His great heritage. This is why many could not get past that He was apparently the son of a carpenter from Galilee. Rather, it is because of His resurrection from the dead and its practical and historical effect on all who follow Him.

The influence of Jesus’ life is found in the short verse of Romans 4:25: “Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” To explain this statement, let us compare these two sections of Scripture, found in Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter four and Mark’s version of the resurrection, found in Mark 16. We first understand that…


The Apostle Paul gives us that reason in verse 25: “He who was delivered up because of our transgressions….” Jesus did not die a passive death, as if he was a victim of a horrible circumstance. His death was a part of God’s ultimate plan to provide the means of atonement for our sins. Each person has a deep spiritual need that cannot be met by himself or philosophy or money or sex or relationships or a career, etc. It is only met through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Each of us has a God-shaped void that can only be filled by Him. The fourth century church father Augustine once prayed: “O Lord, our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in You.”

If you are a member of the human race, you are a sinner. Jesus said in John 8:34: “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. But if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Sin is defined as any transgression against God’s moral law. By being a sinner, you are at odds with God. You cannot conquer your sin by “doing better next time.” As someone once said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Each of us has a sin problem that can only be adequately dealt with by God.

But God, in His love, has reached out to you in the life, death and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Both Jesus’ death and resurrection addresses our two greatest spiritual needs, which are forgiveness and restoration. You cannot have Easter Sunday without Good Friday. That tells us that our greatest need is not to have a good self-image. Our greatest need is not to feel positive about yourself. It is not to overcome the trials that come your way or achieve your greatest potential. Rather, your greatest need is to be reconciled to the One that you have offended. And that One is God. As Charles Sell wrote: “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior. He has provided the means of your forgiveness. This is why Jesus went to the cross. “He was delivered up for our transgressions.” Secondly, we are told that…


If you’ll notice from Mark’s resurrection account, that reason was not automatically known. In fact, you see that the three ladies who went to the tomb on that Sunday morning, fully expected to see the body of Jesus there, awaiting anointing, which was a gesture of devotion. They are met with shock to see the stone rolled away and the angel seated, announcing Jesus’ resurrection. So griped with fear and amazement that they ran back to the where Jesus’ disciples were and talked to no one on the way. They are not sure what just happened. Common in all of the gospel accounts of Jesus resurrection is that the disciples did not expect it. As, they all meet an angel and they all react in fear and amazement.

Mark was written, most likely before the other three gospels were. Matthew and Luke are thought to have used Mark as a template for their accounts. Mark and Romans were probably written at the same time. Mark describes the resurrection event, Paul interprets it. Paul says that Jesus coming back from the dead is a testimony that God can do the impossible. He links the resurrection faith with that of Abraham. Abraham is the father of all those who believe, mentioned at least three times in Romans chapter four, verses 11, 16 and 17. Only God: “…gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” And verse 21: “…what He had promised, He was able to perform.”

This event occurred in 33 or 34 A.D. Fast forward about twenty years, when Christians were going through persecution and the expansion and dispersion of the church. Now, Paul, writing to the believers in Rome, seeks to teach these new converts of the similarities between them and Abraham, the father of the believing. Abraham believed God and God counted it to him as righteousness.

Verse 25: “…who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” Jesus died for your transgressions and mine. Each of us needs a right relationship with God. Justification means “…to set free, acquittal.” Jesus death and resurrection are two sides of the same coin. We cannot have forgiveness of sin without His death. Nor can we have justification/acquittal without His being raised from the dead. Charles Hodge, was one of America’s greatest theologians who taught at Princeton in the 19th century. He said: “This verse is a comprehensive statement of the gospel. His death and His resurrection were alike necessary; His death, as a satisfaction to divine justice. Had He not risen, it would have been evident that he was not what He claimed to be. We should be yet in our sins, and therefore still under condemnation.”

Therefore, there are four spiritual laws that are important for everyone to know before they leave this earth. One is that God loves you and has a plan for your life. In other words, you were made for a reason. You are not here by chance, a product of circumstance. You were made by a loving Creator God. But your sin has separated you from Him. You have offended Him by Your deeds. Some may judge a deeds ethics by the hurt it does to others; and if it causes no hurt, then it is not wrong. But God does not believe in situational ethics. He has established eternal standards of what is right and wrong and demands their obedience. When one of His principles is broken, it is as if we’ve broken them all. And we are worthy of His wrath. Hell is a real place because God is a just God.

Thirdly, Jesus came as the God-provided means for your forgiveness. He gave His life so that you could be reconciled with God, your Creator. Lastly, you must receive Christ by faith, in which the same way that Abraham believed God’s promise, and it was credited to His account as righteousness. Jesus lived the life God demanded from you and died the death you deserved. For your salvation, Jesus left the tomb on that morning so long ago. Jesus’ resurrection means life-giving change for you and me. That is why Christians are people of tremendous hope.

Because of Easter, we can have a new life. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can have a new identity. Because of Jesus being raised from the dead, we can go to heaven when we die. But you must follow Him. You must seek forgiveness for your sins. You must become a disciple.

Jesus dying on the cross and being raised from the dead has been the hope of Christians for 2,000 years. Governments can try to stamp that out, to no success. In some of the places where the church is heavily persecuted, it is also expanding at an unprecedented rate. When all is said and done, Jesus’ death and resurrection is the only hope that we have.

As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross.

Following Jesus remains the most important, the most critical decision you can ever make. Have you done so?

Why Missions?

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In April, our church will send eight individuals to Athens, Greece to serve immigrants and refugees. The situation there is desperate. Because of our relationship with missionaries there, we have been given an opportunity to make a difference in an otherwise difficult and challenging situation.

Why do Christians go on mission trips? Why are churches support missionaries? Quite honestly, the answer is simple. Jesus cared for people. As Dr. Peter Kuzmic of Gordon Conwell Seminary used to say, “Jesus is the missionary par excellence.” Jesus left His throne of glory, to come and dwell among us (John 1:14) and show us the way to the Father (John 14:6). He became a servant (Philippians 2:7) for our sake. Our God is a sending God.

The Lord is concerned for the nations (Matthew 24:14). The Lord draws people to Himself, (John 6:44). Because of our love for others, we should want to participate in God’s work. Our love for Jesus must influence what we do for others. He said: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses… (Acts 1:8).” It is an incredible privilege to represent the risen Lord Jesus Christ, whether it be in Athens, Greece or with a neighbor!

Several years ago, someone left our church because they misunderstood our involvement in missions. It is not as if we are trying to push anything off on another, or sell anyone anything. Rather, it is out of our love for God, our love for the Bible, our love for Jesus Christ, and our love for others, that we are involved in missions.

While in Athens, we will take on the role of servants; serving food, distributing clothing, cleaning, assisting, and witnessing- whatever the Lord would have us do while there. Please pray for us as we prepare to leave and serve. We greatly appreciate your support.