Happy Advent 2021

PeteHappy Advent!  This is the time of year when we get ready for the birth of our Lord Jesus, figuratively.  It is a wonderful time of the year.  Praise the Lord!  I need to thank you for the Pastor Appreciation gifts I received from the church and fellow members of FPC.  Though underserved, I do appreciate your love and generosity.  Thank You.

While most of us read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth, I like to read “Barrington Bunny” by Martin Bell and “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen.  The Barrington Bunny story is a classic Christmas/Easter fable.  It's a story of a bunny who gets lost in the forest on Christmas Eve.  He is all alone and has no family to spend Christmas Eve with during that cold winter night.  Barrington then meets a mysterious silver wolf who teaches him the true meaning of Christmas (“A gift, a free gift, no strings attached”).  It's not what you expect.

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Unity is a State of Oneness and Harmony

All believers in Christ are united in Christ.  We are in a relationship that unites us with Him and with every other believer.

Jesus prayed for His disciples, all who would believe in Him for all the ages, “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21).  Some look at the great divisions among Christian denominations and refer to this as Christ’s great “unanswered prayer.”  However, scripture is clear that all believers are united with Christ because of our relationship with Him and with all other believers.  We are all in the same family, even if at times we do not act like it.  Therefore, unity in Christ has two aspects - one is objective fact, and one is subjective experience.

Objective and subjective unity can be true for any number of groups, teams, or even families.  All the members of a football team are unified by their membership in the group.  They do not win or lose games individually.  The individuals contribute to the group, but it is the group that wins or loses - that is the objective fact.  However, there may be times that the team does not act in a unified way.  Selfishness and rivalry may creep in, and when they do, it is impossible for the team to act as a unit - this is the subjective aspect.  The behavior of individuals on the team is not matching the fact of their unity with every other member of the team.

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What Our Church Needs

While we seek a new pastor and perhaps a new direction, many of us think we know what our church needs.  I have been listening to many people’s ideas and have a few of my own.  However, in searching publications, blogs, and sermons I find a recurring theme which I wish to share from various sources.

First, the church needs conviction.  Conviction is standing on the truth.  The church is in the position to uphold the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15; Proverbs 23:23).  If the world is to be saved, we must have the conviction that what we believe in is true.  If we are to stand against sin and every false way, strong healthy convictions are needed to do so.

Second, the church needs courage.  One can have convictions about truth; however, we may not let them be known.  For example, in John 12:42, we are told, “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”  This is very telling.  This proves that a belief in Jesus is not sufficient if we are not willing to confess Him with mouth and in life.  Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)?  Courage is the act to voice one’s convictions whether in word or in deed.  There are many who have the courage to voice their opinions.  But it takes courage to stand for something and against something.  Jesus is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah because He had courage.  You will never see our Lord shrinking from responsible duty.  The church must muster the courage to stand for what is right and oppose all that is wrong.

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Peanut Butter and Ice Cream Update

Our congregation has been donating an average of 100 pounds of peanut butter each month to the Christian Food Bank of Hopkins County.  Thank you!  Please continue to bring your jars of peanut butter to the narthex and I’ll deliver them to the food bank. 

Our Ice Cream Ministry is ready to go full stream.  We have the freezer, the cart, and the ice cream.  The plan is to give out ice cream to the children of Homewood, Chickasaw, Independence, and Seminary/Madison, inviting them and their parents to our church programs.  I need help with two things: volunteers to put out door tags and deliver ice cream; and programs to invite people to.  Call your session members and tell them you want Sunday School, Wednesday night activities, Vacation Bible School, Bible Study, and whatever else you might want to participate in.  It’s difficult to invite people to church activities that aren’t happening.  The last Sunday of each month has been designated as Ice Cream Sunday.  After worship on these Sundays we'll have cake and ice cream to celebrate that month’s birthdays and anniversaries.  It will also be a good time to invite your grandchildren to church.  We have coloring packets in the narthex if they need some extra stimulation during worship.  If they start to associate church with fun and ice cream, “Praise the Lord.” 

Be looking for the Congregational Cookout later this summer and plan to attend with your entire family.  We’ll have food, fun, and fellowship.  Remember that "revival" is from the Latin re - again, and vivo - to live.  Come to FPC and “ReVivo.”

Love and Hugs,

Pastor Pete.

Without God

Contrary to the claims of many, we cannot live without God.  Man can have a mortal existence without acknowledging God, but not without the fact of God.

We owe our being to the God in whose image we are made (Genesis 1:27).  Our existence depends on God, whether we acknowledge His existence or not.  God continuously confers life (Psalm 104:10-32).  He is life (John 14:6), and all creation is held together by the power of Christ (Colossians 1:17).  Even those who reject God receive their sustenance from Him: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).  To think that man can live without God is to suppose a flower can continue to live without light or water.

God gives eternal life to those who believe.  In Christ is life, which is the light of men (John 1:4).  Jesus came that we may have life “and have it to the full” (John 10:10).  All who place their trust in Him are promised eternity with Him (John 3:15-16).  For man to truly live he must know Christ (John 17:3).  Without God, man has physical life only.  God warned Adam and Eve that on the day they rejected Him they would “surely die” (Genesis 2:17).  As we know, they did disobey, but they did not die physically that day; rather, they died spiritually.  Something inside them died.  The spiritual life they had known, the communion with God, the freedom to enjoy Him, the innocence and purity of their soul was gone.  What God had intended to go from dust to glory now was to go from dust to dust.

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Building, Changing, and Growing

Jesus said, “I will build My church.” (Matt. 16:18).

The Big Idea: Noah. Moses. Ezra. Nehemiah.  What did these four men have in common?  They were building an invisible Kingdom, and nothing was going to stop them from accomplishing that task.  What did they see and know that gave them the passion to build, when others around them had doubts, got discouraged, or wanted to give up?

Let’s consider this theme in the lives of these four Bible heroes.

Noah:

  • The world was in a chaotic state: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”  (Gen. 6:11)  Sounds a lot like today’s world!
  • God said to Noah, “Build yourself an ark of gopherwood.”  (v.14)
  • God wasn’t just telling Noah to build a boat. “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark--you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” (v.18)
  • But even though the people no doubt mocked Noah, he kept building.  Why?  He knew he wasn’t just building a boat.  He was doing something to save people’s lives.
  • He would say, “I’m building something, something that’s bigger than me!”
  • The Bible tells us that God “saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.”  (2 Peter 2:5)
  • Noah was preaching righteousness, but the people did not respond and change their lives!
  • Jesus said, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”  (Matt. 24:37)

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Your Life Is Eternally Significant

Often an incident, problem, or occasion will arise and we ask, "Is this eternally significant?"  Honestly most are not.  However, the way we live is significant.  It goes without saying that the only things of eternal value in this world are those that are eternal.  Life in this world is temporal, not eternal, and therefore, the only part of life that has eternal value is that which lasts through eternity.  Clearly, the most important thing in this world that has true eternal value is having a relationship with Jesus Christ, as the free gift of eternal life comes only through Him to all those who believe (John 3:16).  As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through the son.” (John 14:6)  Everyone is going to live somewhere for all of eternity, Christians and non-Christians alike.  And the only eternal destiny other than the one in heaven with Christ is one that provides everlasting punishment for those who reject Him (Matthew 25:46).

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