Friday, September 30, 2011

Service of Prayer for Healing

Service of Prayer for Healing
Sunday Evening, October 2, 2011
6:30 p.m.

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. James 5:13-15
As a result of the curse of Adam and Eve that is still in full operation on this earth – disease, sickness, and illness are still part of the big picture that we all have to put up with. As we all know, anyone of us at anytime can get sick.  We all know the different things that can happen to our bodies that can cause them to breakdown, and in some cases, seriously disable us.  Disease or physical injury can occur, mental problems can develop or emotional wounds can weaken us.

Sometimes when someone has been hit by an extreme sickness or disease, especially with one that may be considered terminal, their faith levels may be severely shaken – possibly to their core!  Though we know God is all-powerful, our situation looks so hopeless and bleak that we start doubting whether or not God can really deliver us out of such a dire, extreme, and hopeless situation.  Overwhelmed by the hopelessness of the situation, we may forget how powerful God really is and that He does have the full supernatural power to be able to fully heal us – no matter how grave the situation may appear to us or others. We can actually become so sick or distraught we can’t pray.

It is at this time the prayers of other believers becomes so important. 
Though our spirit is crying out to God, our minds cannot form
the words to utter.  But others can pray for us. 
They intercede to God on our behalf.

Intercessory prayer is not designed to alter the will of God, but to bring the most complete cooperation with the will of God.  Intercessory prayer is not so much concerned with circumstances as it is with the relation of those circumstances to God's design and desire.  Ultimately God is the source of all healing, whether through medicine which depends upon his creation, physicians who are gifted by their Creator, or the prayers of his people which he answers with restored health.

It is also important to remember that the blessing of intercessory prayer is not just for the one in need.  Undeniably true is the fact that involvement in intercessory prayer has an effect upon the one who prays.  Our previous services have blessed all who attended and shared in prayer for each need.

Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. our auditorium will be filled with prayer for the specific needs of individuals who request our intercession.  Maybe you have a need you wish to share or want to come and pray for the needs of others.  Either way you will be blessed by attending.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. Psalms 103:1-6

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Odd Looking Tree

Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Psalms 34:11

It was some years ago when I was asked to visit a lady who was hospitalized in the small community where I ministered.  Over the weeks that followed before her death we shared a lot about life.  She told me of the poems she wrote and shared a few with me.  They were truly heart-felt expressions of many of the experiences and emotions of life.

She had told me that she felt certain that no one would want them when she died and that they would end up somewhere in an old trunk in an attic labeled “The Crazy Aunt’s Stuff.”  However, after she died a family member brought me an envelope with pages of typed verse.

I poured over the material and have had opportunity to use it as she asked.  In the midst of the pages there was this brief verse that has stayed with me for decades.  I love its simplicity and profundity.
“I learned long ago
How to bend, twist, dodge and evade
The blows that threatened to break me.
So, here I stand.
Complete, unshattered.
Of course, my shape is peculiar.”  Jo – July 1967

I am reminded of a rather odd tree that grows in Aruba.  The famous Divi Divi or Watapana tree is Aruba's natural compass, always pointing in a southwesterly direction.  This is due to the trade winds that blow across the island from the north-east.  From the time it begins to grow it is influenced by the constant winds coming from east to west.  The trunk is usually bent parallel to the ground and pointing southwest.  Although the tree attempts to grow upright, the constant pressure of the wind maintains a predominantly horizontal growth.  The result?  A rather odd looking tree.

There is another fact about the tree and that is its bark.  It is hard.  So hard, even the goats leave it alone.  There is also a substance within the tree that makes the goats sick when they eat it.  That substance is used for the tanning of leather.

I’ve known some people like that.  Life has left them bent and twisted.  Not only that, they are bitter and hard.  After so long an exposure to the elements they have given up and just gone with the wind.  They are sad to observe and difficult to deal with.  I wonder what made them the way they are.

I am reminded by this of a verse from Proverbs that says, Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.  Proverbs 22:6 Just like the Divi Divi tree, huh?  Maybe that time we spend making sure our kids don’t get blown around by life is worth it after all.

God, I thank you for the parents, grandparents, teachers and siblings who give of their time and lives to help set the course for the children.  Life is so tough today and there are so many ill winds that blow.  May we remember that the days of growing up are crucial to the happiness, direction and strength of every child.  Thank you for letting us be used to help them grow.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

See You at the Pole

“I promise that when any two of you on earth agree about something you are praying for, my Father in heaven will do it for you. Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.”   Matthew 18:19-21 (CEV)

Today is the national day of prayer for students known as See You at the Pole.  The above verse is the verse for the event and the theme this year is Converge.  The definition for converge is to come together from different directions; meet. This morning that is exactly what happened.  Students all over the world converged with each other and with God to pray for friends, leaders, and their schools.  

This simple verse above is a comforting and encouraging promise from Jesus Himself that helps us to know He is always with us. When we gather and agree together, placing Him first, He is there. And when God and His people converge for prayer, lives change!  

SYATP History
The global day of student prayer began in 1990 (in Burleson, Texas) when students came together for a DiscipleNow weekend in early 1990. Seeking God, they prayed and became burdened for their friends.  Saturday night, not knowing what else to do, they went to the school flagpoles and prayed for their friends, schools, and leaders. This event birthed a vision for youth leaders all over Texas.  In June 1990, at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Tx , the idea was presented to over 20,000 teenagers and a challenge was issued to  carry on this practice of uniting in Christ at their school flagpoles and praying for friends, schools, and leaders.  A few months later youth ministers from all over the country gathered for a national conference in Colorado.  Many of them had already heard of the grass-roots movement and were eager to do the same for their schools.  Students across the country were ready to begin their own national day of student prayer.  

The very next year on September 11, 1991, at 7:00 am, one million students gathered at school flagpoles all over the United States!  It is amazing how this fire spread through the youth of our country.  From the east coast to the west coast, from north to south, students came together to pray. Some sang, some read Scripture, but most importantly, they prayed. Like those first students, they prayed for their schools, for their friends, for their leaders, and for their country.  During the first few years, the movement began to spread to other countries through missionaries.  Now, more than 3 million students around the world participate in See You at the Pole including students from 20 different countries!  God showed up at the very first See You at the Pole and He continues to make His presence magnificently known!

Come, Be Blessed!
See You at the Pole is an amazing event to witness.  Last year we had around 850 youth on our campus for Polevault, the rally on the evening of the national day of prayer.  It was an incredible experience to worship with all those teenagers who are sold out to God.  To look around and witness abandon on their faces, their hands held high in worship, makes a parent’s heart humbled.  I urge you to pray for the Polevault rally tonight at North Side in our Worship Center at 7:00 pm.  It is an experience that you will be glad you to be a part of.  Be in prayer for the event, staff and kids involved.  Pray that hearts will be open and God’s voice will be heard.

Scripture to Claim:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.   Matthew 7:7-8

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Naomi’s Feast

Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 1 Timothy 5:5

Tonight our Deacon Body will honor a very special group of ladies in our church.  Naomi’s Feast
is our annual event to honor and thank the widows of our church.  We have so much to be grateful for to these ladies.  The church would certainly be impaired without the ministries they provide.  It is always a wonderful time.  

I have wondered as I considered this event if some who have lost their husbands don’t sometimes wish people would not label them as “widows”.  The word does speak of their social position but I’m not sure if it should reflect anything more than that.  A “widow” is someone who has lost their spouse.  In Biblical times it certainly meant someone who had lost their livelihood and been left dependent on their family, the church or the community.  Today however, we find many who have lost their spouse able to provide for themselves although not in the way they could before the loss.

No, the widows we honor are not poor, dependent, helpless women who are burdens to anyone!  They are faithful servants, teachers, mentors and contributors to the gospel ministry.  They are prayer warriors and compassionate caregivers.  They are choir members and children’s workers.  They are examples of courage and faith to all who know them.  The individual who casts an occasional large donation out of their abundance toward the church’s ministry will never surpass the faithful weekly contributions of these ladies over a lifetime.

This is not a “pity party” for widows...
this is a celebration of what they mean to our church and the kingdom!

The average church member cannot possibly understand what a great blessing these ladies are to a pastor.  I see them in ministries all over the church serving, sharing, loving and caring.  Then I see them at the homes of others who are in need of someone to listen and help carry their burdens.  They are wonderful!

Katherine Russ – February 11, 1926 - September 25, 2011
This year will be a difficult time for us as we gather without one of our church’s pillars.  Katherine Russ passed away Sunday at Weatherford Health Care.  It was Katherine’s request that her body be donated to science.  The family is working out a date to have a memorial service in her honor.  Katherine was a member of NSBC for forty years.  She was an outstanding Bible study leader and caretaker of the problems of many.  She studied the Word of God as faithfully at 85 as she did at any time in her life seeking more knowledge of Christ. 

Katherine is the evidence of what a widow means to NSBC.  She was active in Women’s Ministry, sung in the Foundation Singers, taught and ministered to a Bible Study class and was present in worship every Sunday and Wednesday.  Her spirit was overflowing with love for her Savior and she was a bold witness for Christ.  She never missed an opportunity to invite someone to share with her in worship at North Side.  So much more could be mentioned about her love, compassion, service and character.  What an incredible woman who will be greatly missed.

So, tonight is a time to rightly honor these lovely and precious ladies, old and young, who are not a burden but a blessing.  I can’t wait to see them!

Honor widows who are widows indeed; 1 Timothy 5:3

Our loving and merciful God,
Thank you for the wonderful expressions of Your love and presence through those who have suffered loss and courageously continued in service and ministry.  So many have blessed my life and the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ.  May you bless them with a recognition that they are precious to us as a church.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Monday, September 26, 2011


Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! Psalms 150:1-6

Sunday morning as I stood with the congregations that gathered for the worship services I was once again reminded of the power of praise.  When God’s people praise Him there is the unleashing of spiritual power!  When God’s people praise Him there is the overcoming of despair, defeat and doubt!  When God’s people praise Him there is a connection with the angels of God who were made to praise!  Praise puts us where we belong and God where He belongs in our lives.

How grateful I am for those who give of their talent and their time to lead us in praise!  When you see those who are present and prepared for those moments of praise I trust that you are as grateful to God as I am for their sacrifice.  There is no church in our area where you can hear that many talented and committed voices join together to present God’s message as here at NSBC.


Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You. All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name.” Selah. Psalms 66:2-4

Take time to drop a note to our Music Ministry to let them know your appreciation for their work each week.  Along with the regular demands of Sunday worship, they are already looking at the special Christmas music and how we will honor Christ at Christmas.  God has blessed us with amazing choral and instrumental talent.  The wonderful thing about our musicians is they not only love to sing but they LOVE THE LORD!

Now, how can you help them?  Lift up the choir and musicians in prayer that God will use them and guide them as they lead in our services.  Then...SING!  Join in the praise with your face and voice!  Be a part of our praise each Sunday.  If you can’t sing...whistle!  But do something to release your spirit in praise.

God, thank you for gifting and using the talents of your people!  May we learn more about what praising you can do in all of our life.  Please strengthen and guide those who lead us in praise.  In the name of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.  Psalms 40:3

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Beware the Ravenous Wolves

Matthew 7:15-23
Sometimes in life, things are not what they seem.  There is no place in life where that is more certain than in religion. That is so because the devil wants things confusing.  The question so many people ask is, "With so many people claiming to be speaking the truth, how can you sort them out?  How can you tell who is telling the truth and who is not?  Jesus says, "Beware of the false prophets". That means that you need to be paying attention.
  1. I. False Front v.15
    1. A. The Clothes Don’t Make the Man v.15a
Prophet – one who speaks God’s message.
    1. B. Remember “Red Riding Hoodv.15b
      • His motivation is self-gain instead of self-denial.
      • His spirit is deceitful.
      • His result is to destroy instead of develop
      1. II. False Fruit v.16-20
    1. A. Nature cannot lie. v.16-19
The fruit of a teacher is doctrine.
    1. B. The end of worthlessness is destruction v.19
    2. C. Discernment reveals truth. v.20
Beware religion when you don’t have to think.
    1. III. False Following v.21-22
    2. A. The Insufficiency of Mere Confession v.21a
Confession is not a commitment.
    1. B. The Inadequacy of Religious Activity v.22   
    2. C. Jesus says, “You never knew Me so I never knew you.” v.22 
    3. IV. False “Profits” Today 
A little knowledge is dangerous when it comes to faith and religion.

Human reason outside of God’s revelation is dangerous to religion.

Cult leaders and False Prophets give people what they want and take everything they have

A heart for God without a knowledge of God = vulnerability.

There must be a basis for truth and that is the Word of God.

It is not enough to know what you believe but also why you believe. 

Friday, September 23, 2011


"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Matthew 25:40

There is an exciting new ministry taking off here at North Side Baptist church.  It is the Revive Ministry.  

Revive is a special needs respite program where parents are given a night of free care for their special needs child (still in school) and their siblings under 12 years of age.  Every child (including siblings) will be assigned to a shadow for a night of extreme fun.  

The idea for Revive came after the Journey Class finished a series on Outliving Your Life. The class was challenged to come up with a program that had a high impact on the community.  Teresa Miller suggested the Revive program because their daughter, Courtney, had been a participant in the program at Northwood Baptist Church in Keller and the program had meant a great deal to her and David.

Revive will take place the first Saturday of every month beginning October 1st from 5pm – 9pm.  Contact Tracey Mader at 817-341-7334 or 817-360-0588 or Teresa Miller at 817-929-0020 for information on how to sign up as a participant or volunteer.  

Volunteers age high school and above will be accepted.  All volunteers will need to attend a “walk-thru” training session and orientation before they participate one of the Revive events.  Volunteers should have a heart for children with special needs and loads of patience!  Volunteers are also needed for craft projects and food service as well as floaters to relieve the shadows.  

There has been overwhelming response to the plea for volunteers.  If you feel God is calling you to work with special needs children then don’t hesitate to follow His leading.  Get involved today.  You will be so blessed by the experience!

Scripture to Claim
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 2 Corinthians 12:9

Our Heavenly Father, You have taught us to care for those who are weak and to share the burdens of others.  Give us grace and understanding as we endeavor to provide a respite for these who labor in love for their children.  We know it is those who care for these children that will receive the greatest blessing and we thank you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
(submitted by: Lara Cook)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dealing With Discouragement

Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."  Deuteronomy 31:7-8

As a preacher, I share the Word of God with expectations.  Sunday, as I preached a message calling people to come through the “narrow gate” and be saved, I had expectations.  I had prayed that there would be those moved by the sermon to step out and come to Christ.  I preached to 1200 people and there was not one who came forward to pray for salvation.  My immediate reaction was a feeling of disappointment.  

Now, I know God can use the message to plant a seed that will reap a harvest in the future.  However, this was a reaping message.  When I returned to my inner study after the second service I began to feel the disappointment turn to discouragement.  That is where I pushed back against Satan’s attempt to defeat me!  I have learned that the devil's greatest tool is not envy, jealousy, hate, or greed...but Discouragement!  This is used to wedge through the armor of God.

You can see it on the faces of those who are troubled by it.  There is a sullen and almost defeated look about them.  It happens to anyone who dares to dream a dream or develop an expectation.  It is DISCOURAGEMENT...the feeling we get when things don't happen the way WE think they should.  One of the best definitions of discouragement is from devotional writer William Ward.
Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future.  It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow.  It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old.  It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God. 
Wow!  And I thought it was just a feeling!
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal:
it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

All who seek to achieve a purpose or goal will face times where it seems that their dream is never going be realized.  

Former heavy-weight boxer James (Quick) Tillis is a cowboy from Oklahoma who fought out of Chicago in the early 1980s. He still remembers his first day in the Windy City after his arrival from Tulsa. "I got off the bus with two cardboard suitcases under by arms in downtown Chicago and stopped in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, and I looked up at the Tower and I said to myself, 'I'm going to conquer Chicago.' "When I looked down, the suitcases were gone."  Today in the Word, September 10, 1992. 

So, what do I do?  Well, I could just quit expecting anything to happen and that way I would not be disappointed.  That’s the way many have done in their lives.  But I think I will throw up my shield of faith, stop those darts from the devil and preach on knowing God will honor His Word.

Father, I pray today for all who are serving Christ and feeling a bit overwhelmed or discouraged.  May they find strength in knowing that the harvest is in your hands and continue to be faithful.
In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen 
(submitted by: Pastor Van)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fellowship Wednesdays at North Side

…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.    Romans 12:5
The past two Wednesdays we have had remarkable numbers here at North Side Baptist Church.  The kids activities have started back up, the Bible studies are in full swing and best of all – Wednesday night meals are back!  (Some weeks it is the only hot meal my kids get!)  Thank goodness for Donna and the ladies in the kitchen! There are also Men’s and Women’s Bible studies and choir practices along with Youth activities, GriefShare, and Prayer Meeting

It is exciting to see so many people involved in so many different places.  There have been a record number of women sign up for the Ladies Bible Studies that are going on right now.  We have had overflow in the Youth area and I know Donna is wondering if all those people in the fellowship hall last Wednesday actually signed up!

Fellowship and discipleship (personal growth) are what Wednesdays are about.  It is like family night.  Everyone is gathered in special groups of interest where they can glean what they need from one another.  Burdens are shared and needs lifted to the throne of heaven. The time that we spend together in fellowship is the glue that holds us together, individually and as a whole.  Bible study and prayer time are the icing on the cake.  Discipleship provides a more specific opportunity to grow in the area of your greatest need.  To me, Wednesday nights is the engine that keeps this well oiled machine purring.  We all come seeking something.  For some of us have a void we need filled.  God can fill this void and He uses other believers to help Him.  He knew we would need each other.  Jesus commands us to fellowship with one another in His word:

Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing.
Instead, let us encourage one another all the more,
 since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.  Hebrews 10:25

Take a look at some of the activities available on Wednesday evenings.  Where do you fit in?  What group can be a family to you?  Where is God leading you?  Join us this Wednesday evening!
Father, There is a great need in our lives for knowledge of you and your ways to protect us from the assaults of Satan and to support us in our daily lives.  Bless our efforts to grow in the faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and to develop meaningful and supportive relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen

NSBC Wednesday Evening Activities 2011
Children’s Activities
5:45-7:30pm Preschool KidsNight Preschool Building
5:45-7:30pm KidsNight – Grades 1-6 Children’s Bldg

4:30pm Foundation Singers Choir Suite
6:30pm Praise Team & Band Practice Worship Center
7:30 Higher Praise

Men’s Activities
6-7:30pm Quest for Authentic Manhood  Fireside Room
6-7:30pm Winning at Work & Home  CLC Room 212
Women’s Activities
6-7:30pm Breaking Free Old Foyer
6-7:30pm David CLC Room 117
6-7:30pm Faithful, Abundant, True CLC Room 116

Youth Activities
5:30pm Youth Game Time/FUEL Café Opens Youth Rm
6:00pm JH Worship / HS Hang Time Youth Rm
7:00pm HS Worship / JH Hang Time Youth Rm

Other Activities
5-6pm Wednesday Night Supper Fellowship Hall
Sausage/Baked Beans/Potato Salad/Rolls/Dessert
6:00pm GriefShare Room 107
6:30pm Prayer Meeting Chapel

Various Committees and Ministry Teams
(submitted by: Lara Cook)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In Memory

And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." Revelation 14:13

This week of the year has become a bit of a struggle for me.  You see, my brother’s birthday was September 20, 1951 and my sister’s birthday was September 23, 1942.  While the shock of their passing is over, their absence is still very real in my life.  

It’s strange how you are affected when your siblings are gone.  Now, with mom and dad both gone as well, there is a sense of loneliness at times.  Sometimes I recall an event from our family history and have a desire to share it or get more details only to remember there is no one to call.  Holidays are still times of remembrance with the empty chairs.  Spending time with their families, I see the resemblance of my siblings in my nephews and remember.

I am not alone with feelings of this sort.  Grief is not particular about who it will visit.  Many who read this have lost someone and are well aware of the sense of loss I speak of.  Sadly, too many just push the memory away and try to carry on with their lives.

Although sad, these are good memories; for they recall the blessings we experienced in those relationships.  It is in the memories of the lives of those we lost that we honor them.  They are with us still.

I cannot forget some words I heard on an old-time radio show concerning remembering.  A mother who had a son in trouble had asked a man to help and he did.  He saved the young man from death.  In response to his act, the mother said this, “I only had one son and now I have two for I have made room in my heart for you.  As long as my heart beats, you will be remembered.”

No, I am not saddened by the memories.  Memories now trigger feelings of gratitude for the blessing of God through them on my life.  There are still tears; for there is still loss.  But the grief is much easier to bear knowing that these memories are God’s way of making sure they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.
Thanks Gayle and Larry for 50+ years of love and family!
Father, I pray today for all the memories that come to mind of those who have gone before us.  May we recognize them not as burdens to bear but as blessings to help us remember your gifts to us of people who loved us.
In the name of Christ I pray, Amen
(submitted by: Pastor Van)

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Hearts Of The Saints

Each Sunday is special at North Side!  This past Sunday was no exception.  I had the privilege of meeting several new families who were excited about becoming a part of the fellowship.  They spoke of how they were led to our church and about the individuals who had encouraged them to come.  Some of these will be in the Connection Class next Sunday.  God is good!!

Over 1200 were in our worship services yesterday (over 1300 last Sunday).  Something you may not be aware of is that our 9:30 a.m. attendance is now even with our 11:00 a.m. attendance.  This even split sure makes things easier for utilization of our space.  However, the higher numbers mean we need more assistance in ushers, greeters and child care so if you are looking for a place to serve stop by the Outlet or Greeters Booth and let them know. 

I was glancing through the book of Philemon when I came across these very beautiful words of Paul as he shared his letter of recommendation for his former slave and now a special brother in the Lord, Onesimus. 

I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.  Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you-  Philemon 1

Philemon was evidently a man marked by love, who expressed love by welcoming and refreshing the hearts of the saints.  Even so Paul prayed that Philemon would “have a full understanding of every good thing.” Paul was about to stretch Philemon’s capacity to love by asking him to welcome back his runaway slave and he knew he had to trust him to be loving and gentle with him.  

The quality of our love and understanding will be shown when we too are challenged to love someone we might have reason to despise! It’s going the extra mile that shows the great depth of Christian love—and reveals a mature understanding of what is good. 

But what really caught my eye was what the way Paul asked for his assistance.  He said, Therefore, though I have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper, yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you.  Did you catch that?  Paul knew that using his authority in the church he could demand that they receive Onesimus, but he instead appealed to them on the basis of love.  Here is a lesson for all Christian leaders...influence, not power, is the secret of Christian leadership. 

What is the difference? Power coerces others, forcing them to do what we wish whether they want to or not. Influence respects the rights of others to choose, and makes it clear that others have the freedom to make up their own minds. While Paul did give a variety of strong arguments that made it very clear what he thought Philemon should do, he was confident that Philemon would respond as a Christian should.  As a matter of fact, he closed with a confident gratitude that Philemon would even go beyond his desires because of what Christ had done in him: Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say. Philemon 1:20-21

How wonderful when we can have confidence that we can trust our fellow believers to treat people as they should be treated!  Maybe there lies the secret of North Side...trusting one another to be who they have said we are...a loving, caring congregations of believers in Jesus Christ!  Yes, North Side is a special place that you can be comfortable inviting others to knowing they will be loved and accepted.
(submitted by: Pastor Van)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pick an Exit

Matthew 7:13-14
A meaningful, purposeful life is not the product of chance but of decision.  Salvation and sanctification do not just “happen” to those who “flow” with others but to those who “seek”.  Christ gives clear instruction to beware following the easy way while disregarding its inevitable end.

I. The Way of the World v.13b

A. It’s Availability - the gate is wide

B. It’s Ease of Following - the way is broad

C. It’s Company - there are many who enter through it

D. It’s End - leads to destruction

II. The Way of Christ v.14

A. It’s Difficulty to Enter – the gate is small

B. It’s Disciplinethe way is narrow

C. It’s Fellowshipfew who find it 

D. Its End - leads to life

III. The Appeal to Decision v.13a
Enter through the narrow gate

A. Not to decide is to decide not to follow Jesus.

B. The choice of a gate is the choice of a way and the
choice of an end.

C. Commitment is following the next revealed step of God for your life.

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved,” John 10:9

“I am the way, the truth and the life.” John 14:6

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Parent’s GPS

“…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:17

A few years ago, I bought my wife and I a GPS navigation unit to assist us when we travel by car.  We found it so helpful that I decided to get one for my parents.  I imagined that they would find it very helpful for when they visit my siblings in the Metroplex.  Just set it and follow the verbal instructions!

Mother and Dad were very glad to have their GPS.  For a while they actually kept it in the car, but then it was in the way…and they weren’t using it, so they took it in the house and stored it in a drawer…you know, for that day when they needed it.  I tried to encourage them to take it out and play with it a bit.  They needed to become familiar with it so that when they needed to use it to get where they wanted to go, they would know how it worked…how to enter the addresses…or how to use it to find food, gas, or a hospital.  It could be very helpful…even life saving.

Years go by.  Just this week, I was speaking with my mother and she told me that they had actually plugged the GPS in and had used it to navigate through downtown Dallas.  She seemed almost surprised at how easy it was to program and follow.  

The Bible, or the Sword of the Spirit, is our own personal GPS.  It will direct us in the paths we need to take and it is user friendly.  

Enter The Sword
Again in Ephesians chapter 6, we find the Apostle Paul using the imagery and armor of a Roman soldier to communicate his message of how a Christian ought to dress for spiritual warfare.  In verse 17, Paul draws our attention to a very low-tech solution to battlefield weaponry: the sword.  His reader understood swords, and so do we.  Paul identifies this sword as “the sword of the Spirit.  Furthermore, he clarifies his imagery by adding the phrase: “…which is the word of God.”
We remember that our battlefield is spiritual, not carnal.  Likewise, our weapons are spiritual, not earthly.  If we are to prevail on the spiritual battlefield, then we must be skilled in wielding the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

An Unfamiliar Weapon
A common danger here is that it is so easy to treat the Sword of the Spirit with the same regard that my parents had for their GPS navigation unit.  They were glad, and thankful to have it.  It had a special place in their home, so that should they someday need it, they’d know just where it was.  But because it ‘lived’ at home, it was very unlikely that when they needed it, it would be at their disposal.

King David knew a better way.  In Psalm 119:11 he wrote: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”  Later in verse 105, David wrote: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  For King David, the word of God was not a book that rested in a bookshelf, or on a coffee table, or in the back seat of the car (where mine is at the moment).  He studied it.  He consumed it.  He meditated on it day and night.  He memorized the counsel of scripture so that it would always be with him…ready when life required it.  Like a sword, so familiar to a soldier’s hand that it was practically an extension of his own arm.

Prayer: “Oh Lord, help me take up the Sword of the Spirit!  Give me a hunger for your word.  Like David, let it be life to me, a lamp unto my feet, and that with which I can fend off the attacks of the enemy.  Amen.

Scripture to claim:  
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:9-11

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Needed a Shield

“…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16

It was the summer of 1984 and I was driving my Chevrolet Monte Carlo down Hwy 6 toward College Station, Texas.  It was a beautiful night.  I had my windows down and my music turned up.  My left arm was resting on the sill of the open window and I drove with the right.  I remember feeling absolutely free.  The wind was in my hair and the open road was in front of me.

Suddenly, an oncoming car picked up a rather large stone (by which I mean, it was considerably larger than a pebble) and hurled it into my open window past me in the opposite direction, missing my head by mere inches.  The stone’s momentum, combined with that of my own car caused the rock to crash off the rear window of my car and be hurled past my head on the other side where it bounced off the inside of the windshield and finally came to rest in the back seat!  

Now, I’m not suggesting that this stone would have taken out Goliath.  However, I am convinced that had it hit me, I might have lost control of the car and been severely injured or even killed.  Thankful that I was uninjured, I quickly rolled up the windows and made a firm decision that driving unprotected with my windows down was not in my best interests! 
I needed a shield to protect me…even from things that I might not see coming.

A Shield…of Faith?
In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul was using the battle dress of a Roman soldier to communicate spiritual readiness for the spiritual battles that we face in life.  Upon this canvass, he paints an image familiar to his contemporaries: The buckler or shield.  This vital piece of armor was carried to deflect and defend against deadly blows of the enemy.  For his illustration Paul chooses a peculiar substance for his shield however: Faith.  A shield…of faith?

One would likely never enter an earthly battlefield simply covered in faith.  But we remember that the enemies Paul is warning of are not flesh and bone, but spiritual.  Their attacks are not sharpened steel, but of temptation, distractions, doubts, and conflicts of the mind and spirit.  Against these, no earthly buckler can defend!  Faith is our defense!  
But what is faith, and where do we get it? 

Romans 10:17 reads: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”  Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  

I once heard it explained this way: We have faith…seeing in the scriptures what God said He would do, and witnessing in the same that God did what He said he was going to do.  Further, we continue in faith…seeing in the scriptures that God has said He will do things He has not yet done. By faith, we believe confidently that He will do what he has said he will do…because of what He has already done.  

We have faith in God.  It is upon this faith that all those believers who have gone on before us stand firm.  They have witnessed and testify of the faithfulness, love, and saving power of God.  It is they to whom Paul refers as that “great cloud of witnesses” who compel us to lay off every encumbrance and run the race set before us!  

Their testimony allows us to take up the shield of faith ourselves and know that the same spirit that raised Christ Jesus dwells in us also.  As the spirit of God in Christ enabled Christ to withstand and resist the attacks of the forces of darkness, that same spirit enables us to do the same.  We have a shield of faith!!

Scripture to claim:  
“for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move ; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20b

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No Shoes…No Service…

“Stand firm then, …having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace…” Ephesians 6:15

Frequently when I am about in various places of business, I identify a familiar sign: “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.”  Now, the no-shirt part…I get that…but shoes?  Why no shoes?  

It can’t be about ugly, dirty, or stinky feet (right?).  People’s feet are exposed all the time in stores.  Customers come in wearing their flip-flops and other assorted sandals and get no complaints from the management.  

So…it must be about safety.  Safety from some contagion bare feet might carry from customer to customer.  Safety from unseen perils on the store floor…a lost tack or exposed nail, a sliver of broken glass.  And certainly in this litigious society, the business owner would seek safety from potential lawsuits brought by customers whose bare feet might become injured by such perils.  So it would appear we have to wear shoes for our own good. 

Put on your shoes!
Feet are so very vulnerable.  Remember the last time you whacked your little toe on something?  I do.  I dropped to the floor immediately and held my foot, writhing in the pain. My whole body was captive to the pain contained in a single injured toe.  

In Ephesians 6:15, Paul wants us to protect our “feet,” so he instructs us to put on our shoes…but not just any shoes.  Shoes he calls: “The Preparation of the Gospel of Peace.”  

Everything we do standing is dependent on the welfare of our feet. As Paul is using the metaphor of a Roman soldier – ready for battle to make his point, the image of the vulnerability of the feet is particularly potent!  A soldier was quickly defeated if his feet were exposed and injured.  So Paul encourages his reader to protect against attack in an area of greatest vulnerability by putting on something he called the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

But what is this Gospel of peace?  
It is curious isn’t it, that in this battle against spiritual enemies we are to clothe our feet not in a Gospel of warfare, but of peace?  The point of the battle is not the battle!  The reason we are at war is because of the Gospel itself!  Our Gospel is a message of reconciliation…the souls of humanity have been ransomed by the shed blood of the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ. Because of the power of this Gospel, all of Hell assails it…and us when we receive it.  

We who were at enmity with God have been reconciled to him and are no longer strangers, no longer aliens.  We are heirs of God, joint heirs in Christ.  We are forgiven and restored.  This is the Gospel…not of war, but of peace with God.  

In short, we have been saved by the grace of our Lord Jesus.  It is this foundation that we stand on.  It is this Gospel we are called to communicate to others.  Everything else we do as followers of Christ is built upon our ability to stand on this Gospel.  If we are shaky on the fact of our own salvation, we are vulnerable to attack and defeat in all other areas.  So, to be properly dressed and protected for battle against the forces that assail us, we are to be certain of our salvation.  Well versed, and with understanding in the facts pertinent to the ransom of our souls and our secure place with God our Father!  Or, as Paul said it: “…having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace…” Put on your shoes!

Scripture to claim:  
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13

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