Launch Sunday

Finding Favor With God

Jesus Is King

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-10  

“Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess,
Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord!
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess,
Jesus is Lord, Jesus is Lord!” – Kanye West

These lines are from one of the songs on the latest album of Kanye West entitled “Jesus is King.” Yes…Kanye West – the same Kanye that was known for everything that is opposite of Jesus. The same Kanye who – for decades – has embodied what it means to live a wicked and worldly life. But some months ago Kanye became a follower of Jesus Christ! He has been made new by turning away from his old ways and putting his faith in King Jesus. From all accounts, he is now living for Jesus and making radically different music. Praise the Lord!

How did this happen? It started with a courageous person inviting Kanye to church. Not a flashy megachurch, but a church very similar to ours. He came once, heard the gospel, and kept coming back. As the Lord convicted him of his sin and emptiness, Kanye was reminded of the Christian home he was raised in and came to salvation. This is exciting news. I pray that he will be like Johnny Cash, leaving behind permanently all the drugs, women, and pride of the world, producing a new heritage of Christ-honoring music that will stand as a testament that Jesus can save ANYONE.

My challenge to you: be courageous! I would love to shake the hand of the person who had the evangelistic zeal and personal boldness to effectively invite Kanye West to church. Every one of us has people in our lives who are larger-than-life! And they need Jesus. I challenge each of you to love lost people enough to not be afraid of them and have a big enough faith to believe that Jesus can change ANY heart. 

Start thinking and praying and have the boldness to get to know, and then invite to church the most lost and worldly person you know. Through prayer and genuine concern for their soul, you will be amazed at what Jesus does.

May the gospel go forth in power,

Vic

Crucified With Christ

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

Many times over the weeks of our meeting together people have gone out of their way to comment on the sense of joy, cooperation, and excitement in the midst of our new church. I also have feel the same way! It’s my favorite time of the week! I want to remind you that this is not without explanation. We pray constantly for the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Every Sunday, in the middle of the service, I pray for more of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our service. Without the real presence of the Lord with us, our meetings together would be worse than pointless – they would be a fraud. No amount of music or anything I can say of myself will change your heart or satisfy your soul. 

Jesus said that it was to our advantage that he ascend to heaven, because this would result in the sending of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit fills us with the presence of Jesus (“Christ who lives in me…”). When many people who love the Lord Jesus gather for the purpose of worshipping Jesus, the sense of His presence in our midst is magnified. We all can sense the nearness of Jesus by his Spirit and the result is joy, peace, friendship, forgiveness, and hope. This is part of the reason why it is good to gather with other Christians for church. It is not a ritual, it’s a joyful gathering for the purpose of exalting Jesus and encouraging one another.

There are a few things we can, and should, do to strengthen and continue the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of our church. First, continue in the truth of studying scripture. Our worship of Jesus must be by spirit (real affections and emotions rooted in the heart) and truth (worshipping Jesus as He requires and according to who He really is). The more we learn of Jesus from the scriptures, the more deeply and truly we will be able to worship Him. Second, we must confess our sins and keep short accounts with God (1 John 1:9). Intentionally hidden and unconfessed sin is rebellion. The Bible is full of stories about those who intentionally hide their sin instead of confessing it and being forgiven. The building up of sin in our midst grieves the Lord. Instead, humble yourself that you may be forgiven and not affect God’s blessing upon our entire church. Third, let us put our faith into action by serving each other and those around us. May we be known by the humble service that we offer others. May we be known as those who do not lose our tempers, do not gossip, but serve the weak, take notice of those in need around us, and give generously to meet needs.

There are a few things we can, and should, do to strengthen and continue the presence of the Holy Spirit in our church.

FIRST, continue in the truth of studying scripture. Our worship of Jesus must be in spirit (real affections and emotions rooted in the heart) and truth (worshipping Jesus as He requires and according to who He really is). The more we learn of Jesus from the scriptures, the more deeply and truly we will be able to worship Him.

SECOND, we must confess our sins and keep short accounts with God (1 John 1:9). Intentionally hidden and unconfessed sin is rebellion. The Bible is full of stories about those who intentionally hide their sin instead of confessing it and being forgiven. The building up of sin in our midst grieves the Lord. Instead, humble yourself that you may be forgiven and not affect God’s blessing upon our entire church.

THIRD, let us put our faith into action by serving each other and those around us. May we be known by the humble service that we offer others. May we be known as those who do not lose our tempers, do not gossip, but serve the weak, take notice of those in need around us, and give generously to meet needs.

May the Lord Jesus increase His presence in our midst until there is an awakening in our area like none of us have ever experienced.

Jesus is Lord,
Vic

Church & State

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1

Two remarkable speeches were given this past week. First, Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, spoke to the American Association of Christian Counselors. In this speech, he spoke openly of his Christian faith and his need to pray and ask the Lord for direction as he makes difficult decisions on a daily basis. Second, Bill Barr, our Attorney General, spoke to the Notre Dame School of Law to warn the audience about the decline of belief in God in America, which is leading to an increase in militant secularism. The predictable response to these speeches was angry rhetoric from secularists claiming that government officials have no right to bring religious speech into their work! They’re (apparently) alarmed that someone might listen to their speeches and consider afresh the reality of God. Amidst a seemingly endless stream of news related to the moral and religious decline in America, we should give thanks that we have two leaders that will openly state that America needs to look the Lord for answers.

There is a significant and growing divide in our country between religious and secular people. People who ascribe to a secular view of the world believe there is no actual (real) God. Belief in a divine power is foolishness to them. They typically believe that people are born basically good and blank slates. People can become whatever they want. Moral constraints are cultural, not absolute. In the absence of God as the recognized moral authority, Barr is correct to warn us that the void will be filled by the government. We see this in America where the Supreme Court is becoming the final decision maker on what is morally right and wrong, leading to an intense political power struggle over who fills the court (and then gets to play the role of God).

Those who look at this chaotic situation and know there must be a God, also believe they have a soul. They know there is an eternal aspect to who we are. The reality of your soul is part of why we long for justice and have a sense of moral right and wrong in the first place! Barr is again correct to point out unapologetically that so many of the moral struggles that plague our society have their seat in the soul. The answers to rising suicide rates, rising STD rates, the epidemic of drug addiction, and family breakdown are not just economic and clinical – the root of these problems is in the soul. The answer to these struggles begins with recognizing that we are under the moral authority of God. We are not free to do whatever we choose without consequence. We must instead hear the encouragement of our Secretary of State and pray daily, asking God for moral strength and wisdom to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

I encourage you to hear these voices speaking for God. If you struggle with these issues but know that you have a soul and know that there must be more to the moral order of the world than endless political struggle – I urge you to keep seeking and read about the life of Jesus in the Bible. As you read the words of Christ you will know why people were amazed by how he spoke with final authority – not like the leaders of their day or ours (Matthew 7:28-29).

A Call To Prayer

“I will praise the name of God with a song; 

I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30 

“Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” Ephesians 5:18b-19 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16 

Worshipping the Lord by music and singing is an essential part of our worship together each week. Christianity has always been marked by singing. The joy in our hearts that comes from being forgiven all our sins by Jesus cannot be contained! Our thankfulness overflows into singing. In every healthy church God supplies those who are gifted in playing instruments and singing in order to bless the church with their talents and make beautiful music to the Lord. We have been so blessed with musical talent in our new church. Thank you to each and every person that has given sacrificially of their time to bless our church by your musical talent! 

As announced last week in service, Will Thorpe has decided to move on to pursue other work, and beginning in November will no longer be leading worship for us. I want to thank Will for his passion and dedication to lead our worship ministry over the past six months. He will be greatly missed – which leads me to my call to prayer. 

It is essential that we find a musically qualified spiritual man to lead our musical worship. The elders have posted a job description page on our website, posted the same job description with our seminaries, and ministry partners. Please be in prayer daily for the Lord to supply the right person to fill this position. This is being offered as a paid part-time position. 

We are praying for: 

· A musically talented man of godly character 

· One who feels called to musical ministry in the local church 

· One who can organize and lead other musicians in our church 

· One who will fit the joyful and passionate culture of our church 

Please be in prayer and encourage anyone you may think is qualified to submit an application to the elders. The Lord Jesus has abundantly supplied every need of this church so far, and I know He will continue to care for His church. Let’s pray and then praise the Lord with thanksgiving when He answers our prayer. We walk every day by faith and not by site. 

Jesus is Lord, 

Vic

Psalm 62

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:5-8 

This beautiful Psalm reminds us of many aspects of our personal relationship with God. God has not changed, and we should approach God in the same personal and passionate ways that David did. 

(Verse 5) Wait in silence: Almighty God never works on our timetable. He has a perfect plan which is foreknown and foreordained. Amazingly, your life is like a single thread in the giant tapestry of history which is unfolding according to God’s will and for His glory. We must wait for the Lord often, especially in our very impatient age where we want everything immediately. And we must wait in silence – not complaining and fuming in frustration for why God is not on our timetable. The Lord’s ways are not our ways, and the Lord’s timing is not our timing. When you are not sure of the next step, continue in faithful obedience – and wait in silence. 

(Verse 5) Hope in God: What do you hope in during times of trouble? What is your confidence in for an uncertain future? Is it your abilities and achievements, the government, your spouse, your children, your financial savings, your job? If you place your hope, ultimately, in anything other than God, you will be bitterly disappointed. People will disappoint you. You will disappoint yourself! Jobs will end, investments will sour, and governments will change. The only One who is ever-faithful and unchanging is Jesus Christ Our Lord. Place your hope in Him, and you will never be disappointed! 

(Verse 7) Rest upon God as a mighty rock: Putting your hope in God has always been portrayed in scripture as choosing to stand upon a rock, or a certain and solid place of footing (2 Samuel 22:2-3, Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:46-49). It is wise to place your confidence in the Lord. 

(Verse 8) Trust at all times: The thing about trust is that it’s never truly tested until difficult times. This Psalm gives us a picture of God as in control, worthy of our hope and trust, and willing to hear our prayers in desperation. Proverbs 25:19 paints the opposite picture, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips.” Trust God in your best and worst times. The darker the time and harder the trial, the more faithful and precious you will find the Lord to be! 

(Verse 8) Pour out your heart: Your relationship with God must be personal. Do not keep the Lord at arm’s length. It won’t work. He already knows everything about you, so you might as well be real with God. Go ahead and pour out your heart. Tell God what is troubling you, confess your darkest sins, ask Him your questions, and pray against temptations that are real. However, in your prayers, remember that though God loves us, the pouring out of our heart must still be with the respect and honor due to Jesus Our Lord. 

Jesus is Lord, 
Vic

Jesus Is Lord

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-10,13 

Salvation is a matter of belief, resulting in confession. We first come to a place where the Lord Jesus gives us the faith to believe that He is who he claimed to be – the Son of God! This then grows into an irrepressible desire to tell others what has changed us, and brought us peace and joy. Belief in the heart results in us proclaiming with our mouths that, “Jesus is Lord!” 

This Sunday a number of our people will be baptized. What an exciting Sunday! As a part of this process they will be asked, “What is your confession?” (meaning – what do you believe?) and their answer, before us all, will be “Jesus is Lord!” This may seem simple, but it requires belief and courage to confess this before your peers. I praise the Lord for his work in our midst and in the hearts of our young people. 

How about you today? Have you stood in those baptismal waters and proclaimed that “Jesus is Lord!” If not, let Sunday be that day. Give glory to Jesus for what He has done in your life! Today, may you make time to read the Scriptures and live for Jesus in all you do. 

I’m praying for you, 

Vic

Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

During last week’s sermon, one of the most difficult sections for me to teach related to wisdom. Wisdom is the application of knowledge. It’s not simple to know how and when to speak or act. Well-meaning words spoken at the wrong time, or with the wrong tone can have the opposite of the intended effect. Actions undertaken with pure motives can be greatly misunderstood.  Wisdom helps us resolve conflicts and see things for what they really are. Wisdom helps us counsel others and speak the right words during a difficult time. Wisdom allows us to see the heart of the matter, instead of working problems that are secondary to the real issue. Wisdom is from the Lord.

As James states, if you lack wisdom you should not just hit the books, but you should ask God for it. Seeking wisdom is a matter of prayer and learning. The Lord Jesus is glad to help His children rightly understand the world around them and how to live in it. 

A few words on wisdom from the Bible:

  • If you lack wisdom, ask God for it. He will make you wise as you study His word. 
  • We understand how God thinks about the world through Scripture. Therefore, to be wise, we must first study scripture.
  • Wisdom comes from understanding how God has made us and the true nature of the world. If we have a false understanding of the world and the nature of people, we can never be wise.
  • There is an entire book of the Bible devoted to understanding how to apply knowledge: Proverbs. This is a hard book to read straight through. I suggest that you keep a marker in that book, and read a few verses from Proverbs each day in addition to your normal daily Bible reading.
  • Wisdom comes from experience. We can learn the hard way by experiencing failure ourselves, or we can shorten the process and grow in wisdom by learning from the experiences of others. The Bible is full of true life stories. Some of these stories teach us how we should live, and others stand as negative examples of how notto live. Both are helpful. Learn from the successes and failures of others. 

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wiseman who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Do not look to foreign and mystical places for wisdom. Keep to the simple path of prayerfully reading Scripture, hearing God’s words, believing them, and obeying them. See you Sunday!


Blog post by Vic Carpenter (Sep 19, 2019)

Baptism

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4
 
It is recorded for us in the Gospels (Matt 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22) that Jesus was baptized by immersion in the Jordan River at the very beginning of His public ministry. At the very end of His public ministry, just before His ascension into heaven, Jesus gave His last command to the gathered disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). At that time, He brought to bear His authority and sent them out to preach the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. They were to (1) make disciples – or teach people to believe in Jesus and follow Him with their lives, (2) baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (the Trinity), (3) teach the new disciples to obey the teachings of Jesus. Jesus did not remind the disciples that “all authority had been given to him” so that He could suggest to them a direction for living. Instead, Jesus sent them out as His disciples to do His will – part of which was to baptize. 

There is a constant pattern in the book of Acts demonstrating the faithfulness of the early church to obey the command of Jesus to baptize new Christians. At the first coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-41), when 3,000 souls were saved, they were baptized. When Philip helped the Ethiopian understand Jesus, he also explained to him what I am explaining to you now – the imperative of baptism. As the two men went along in his chariot, they came to water (Acts 8:36-38), and the Ethiopian said, “See here is water! Whatprevents me from being baptized?” The answer was nothing! In accordance with the command of Jesus, he was baptized by Philip. When Saul (later called Paul) came to salvation after being struck blind by the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was baptized (Acts 9:18).

When Jesus by angels and visions brought the first gentiles (non-Jews) into the church, they were immediately baptized (household of Cornelius – Acts 10:47). Even in the middle of the night after an earthquake, when the Philippian jailer came to faith – he was baptized (Acts 16:33). And so, Christians have continued to follow the command of Jesus, down through the ages and around the world, to be baptized after believing Jesus is Lord!

What is baptism? Baptism is both a symbolic and a public proclamation. As stated above in Romans 6:4, Paul clearly teaches about the symbolic nature of baptism after believing in Jesus as your Savior. When we are submersed below the water it is a symbolic action of joining Christ in His death. But when we are raised up out of the water, we are joining with Jesus in His resurrection! We are symbolically raised with Jesus to walk in “newness of life!”  This points to the second important aspect of baptism. It’s a public affair. Jesus requiresthat His followers not be ashamed of Him. Being publically baptized does not changed the state of your soul – faith does – but it does change how people view you. Being publically baptized makes a statement that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ!

Through the ages groups of Christians have changed the biblical teaching of baptism by immersion to serve various ends. The reason that Jesus calls for us to be baptized after making a decision of faith, rather than as an unbelieving infant, is so the decision made privately in the heart is made public to the watching world. This act of obedience takes boldness and courage, but part of what the Holy Spirit will give you as a new disciple of Jesus is boldness to do things you would never have done before. 
If you believe in Jesus as Savior, but have never been baptized, I encourage you to obeyJesus in this important step. It will be an unforgettable day of joy to associate yourself with Jesus publically, but it will also greatly encourage other Christians to see how the Lord is working in our midst. If you are interested, let an elder know Sunday and be baptized Sunday, Sep 29.

Blog post by Vic Carpenter, Teaching Pastor (Sep 12, 2019)