“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

In 1984 President Ronald Regan proclaimed January 22 as “Sanctity of Human Life Day.” This day was the eleventh anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in the United States. Reagan was urging our country to remember that God ultimately decides right from wrong, not the Supreme Court of the United States. In this case, the Supreme Court got it wrong, and we are still living with the consequences. Abortion continues at an alarming rate, with approximately 800,000 abortions performed in the US during 2018. But those of us who oppose abortion – the killing of the unborn – remember at this time of year to focus on this terrible evil and pray for its end. 

As medical science has advanced it has brought us to a clear moral crossroad. Medical technology makes abortion possible, but medical technology also makes it possible to see the fully formed bodies of unborn children in 3-D detail. Medical technology makes it possible for significantly pre-maturely born babies to thrive and grow into healthy adults. It has created an entire medical discipline (NIC – neonatal intensive care) of amazingly talented nurses and doctors to care for these tiny infant children – even performing surgery on children in the womb! Yet many still argue that these tiny children are not human until the mother decides they are. This is a moral conflict to which the Bible speaks clearly.

Psalm 139 beautifully writes of the miraculous formation of a living child inside of its mother’s womb. This formation is a creative work designed by God and infused with purpose and meaning. The Psalm speaks to how each unborn child has a potential life before them – a life known only by God. It is a powerful Christian doctrine that life is never an accident. Each life is caused by God, has purpose, and should be protected and cherished. At the beginning of the book of Jeremiah we are given insight into how God has purpose for our lives from before we were born, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). 

Abortion is a human rights issue. Fighting to end abortion is the righteous work of striving to protect the most helpless of all people, the unborn. Those who truly have no voice. Christians, above all people, must care about the issues of defending the weak and helpless. We should be passionate about caring for the disabled, the elderly, the enslaved, and the unborn. Jesus had constant compassion toward “the least of these,” and so should we. 

As a church, we must be involved with this issue. First, we extend the forgiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have been a part of the abortion process. The gospel is about the forgiveness of sin, and by the grace of God, you can be forgiven. Second, we must labor to help those with unexpected pregnancies to choose life – through counseling and practical help. Third, we must be willing to open our homes to long and short-term foster care/adoption, to take into our homes those children who are born but orphaned. Forth, we must be unashamed to speak against this sin, but to speak against it with love. We must overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). 

If you want more information on how to be practically involved with helping end abortion in our area through counseling those in need, speak with Maria Carpenter. If you would like more information on how to be involved with short and long-term orphan care, please speak with Justin Woodruff. 

May the Lord grant an end to legal abortion in the United States,

Pastor Vic

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