Category: Pastor Tim’s Blog

10 am, April 28, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 will be an historic and potentially culture-altering day for the United States.  On that day, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning the issue of same-sex marriage.  The outcome of these hearings, slated to be released in late June, will have tremendous consequences for how churches in America do ministry going forward, and it will have significant impact on issues of religious freedom.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to overstate the importance of this decision.  We must reaffirm some things that do not change:

1. We must affirm the importance of PRAYING FOR OUR LEADERS in America.  While we may not agree with or necessarily affirm the direction they are leading, we must remember that Scripture commands we be faithful in praying for all in authority, and in this instance this means members of the Supreme Court as well.  (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

2. We must remember the foundation on which we stand and that NO COURT OR CONSTITUTION can define what doesn’t belong to it. Marriage is an institution ordained by God and DEFINED BY HIS UNCHANGING WORD, not by the opinions of man no matter how highly placed or intelligent he may seem.  Genesis 2 gives us the precept on which we are to stand regarding Scriptural marriage, and it is clearly a relationship established between male and female.  It is a relationship established and imbedded in the creative order that men and women may become moms and dads.  It is a relationship that clearly portrays a spiritual reality, that of Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church and His death and resurrection that secured that Bride for Him.

3. We must stand apart from the cultural decay that surrounds us.  Though we live in the midst of the cultural ruins of our day, we must continue to shine the light of the Gospel and the hope that Jesus brings to a lost and dying people.  Nothing that happens, no matter how marginalized or discriminated against we may feel, must stop us from being the salt and shining the light of the Gospel.

So on Tuesday, April 28 at 10:00 AM, PRAY for this significant decision placed before the Supreme Court:
Pray that all people everywhere would honor the institution of marriage.
Pray for the Supreme Court justices that they would be receptive to truth when they hear it presented.
Pray for lead attorneys who will be arguing on behalf of states seeking to uphold Biblical marriage
Pray for those who disagree with the Biblical definition of marriage, that God would help them understand and respect the opinions of those arguing for the foundation of marriage grounded in Scripture.
Pray for God’s people to be prepared even in the event of a decision that does not go as we hope.  God is not mocked.  He is sovereign, and His purposes will ultimately prevail!

As Christians, we must walk in confidence that God is in control even of this circumstance.  We live, not in fear or in anger, not in malice or rancor, not in bitterness or wrath but in the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts.

May they know we are Christians by our love!
(adopted from article on http://russellmoore.com)

The Mission

In the movie, The Mission,  Robert De Niro plays the role of a slave trader-turned Jesuit priest.  Practicing his trade among the Guarani Indians in South America, he is portrayed as a ruthless, cruel man.  Personally, his life was falling apart and this culminated as he caught the love of his life, his fiancé, and his brother, whom he also loved deeply, in bed together.  Enraged, he killed his brother in a duel.

Carrying his guilt to a Jesuit priest, he receives an act of penance to remove it.  The priest prescribes that he drag his armor and weapons of war in a net behind him and go back into the South American jungle to serve and live among the Guarani…the tribe he at one time victimized by his slave trading.

Climbing the Iguazu Falls, Mendoza (the character played by DeNiro) drags his net through the mud and the underbrush to exhaustion. When they reach the top of the falls, the group encounters some warriors from the Guarani tribe.  One of the warriors walks over to Mendoza, draws a long knife blade, and appears to be coming to slit the throat of this slave trader.  Instead, the knife slices through the ropes that held the burden being dragged behind Mendoza, pushing the net over the cliff and setting him free.  In relief and gratitude, Mendoza both weeps and laughs as the burden of his guilt is now gone.

The message portrayed in this moment in the film is powerful.  As Mendoza seeks to enact his own penance and find forgiveness by his own exhausting efforts, he learns that forgiveness comes as a gift…not as the result of our own effort.  We cannot earn our way into God’s favor…we must receive our access humbly as a gift given.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  -Romans 6:23

What do you need to be set free from today?

Victory Over Death

MAX LUCADO, in his book, Six Hours One Friday, tells the story of a missionary in Brazil who discovered a tribe of Indians in a remote part of the jungle. They lived near a large river. The tribe was in need of medical attention. A contagious disease was ravaging the population. People were dying daily. A hospital was not too terribly far away- just across the river, but the Indians would not cross it because they believed it was inhabited by evil spirits. To enter the water would mean certain death. The missionary explained how he had crossed the river and was unharmed. They were not impressed. He then took them to the bank and placed his hand in the water. They still wouldn’t go in. He walked into the water up to his waist and splashed water on his face. It didn’t matter. They were still afraid to enter the river. Finally, he dove into the river, swam beneath the surface until he emerged on the other side. He punched a triumphant fist into the air. He had entered the water and escaped. It was then that the Indians broke out into a cheer and followed him across.

That’s exactly what Jesus did! He told the people of His day that they need not fear the river of death, but they wouldn’t believe. He touched a dead boy and called him back to life. They still didn’t believe. He whispered life into the body of a dead girl and got the same result. He let a dead man spend 4 days in a tomb and then called him out and the people still didn’t believe Him. Finally, He entered the river of death and came out on the other side. Victory!

And today, you can experience that same victory:

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 it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.  (Romans 10:9-10 NLT)

Believe… receive…  and you will know eternal life NOW!

Hallelujah!! He is Risen indeed!

He is Risen!

Those three words have reverberated through time and will continue to do so in eternity. He is Risen!

The hopeless now have hope….the displaced now have a home…the prodigal has a pathway back. He is Risen!

Death has lost its icy grip on the soul of mankind.  Those who “all their lives have lived in captivity to the fear of death” are set free by the power of those three words. He is Risen!

The sinner can be forgiven….the sacrifice has been accepted…the blood has been spilt…sin has been covered. He is Risen!

The failure gets a new beginning.  The blind receive their sight.  The lame can dance.  The deaf can hear…the mute can sing. He is Risen!

Satan has lost to the One Who holds the keys to Hell and Death…and now he will find his destiny in the flame and smoke of the abyss alongside the demonic forces at his command. He is Risen!

In those victorious words lay our victory as well….we are “risen with Christ” to walk in new life.  He is Risen!

And with the saints and the church throughout the ages we agree: Hallelujah!!  He is Risen indeed!

Easter is upon us

Easter is upon us!  The most exciting, life-changing news EVER was spoken by an angel outside an empty tomb:  “HE IS NOT HERE…HE IS RISEN!”

We have the joy and opportunity to share that news with people from around our community and this area on Sunday, April 5.  Our service times will be the same with one additional service and two locations.

We will be meeting first at 8:00 am.  This will be a service format that will be repeated again at 9:30 and 11:00 in our worship center.  Also at 9:30, we will have a more contemporary-themed service that will be more casual and will feature band driven worship music in the gym.

I will be preaching in each of the services, and am excited about what God is going to do.  We are thrilled to have Brian Woofter here for his first Easter service with Fruit Cove as well!

As always, be aware that there will be many new people on campus that day, some for the first time.  It would be my hope that we could give our guests the BEST parking places and the BEST seating for this Sunday.  I ask that simply because I know that, among those visiting, some are looking for a church home and some will need Christ.  I want us to put our BEST FOOT forward!

Let me encourage you again to SHARE CHRIST this Easter…bring a friend with you on Easter Sunday.  Share Jesus with them using the “Three Circles” method (see www.fruitcove.com or download at “Life Conversation Guide” in the app store).

We can’t wait for the celebration of an Empty Cross and an Empty Tomb. We will worship with FULL HEARTS.

HALLELUJAH….HE IS RISEN!

LGBT Community & the Local Church

Controversy and consternation have again been stirred over the issue of the relationship of the LGBT community and the local church. A church in San Fransisco that claims membership in the Reformed Church of America has joined the company of two other large churches (one in Nashville and one in Seattle) in affirming homosexual behavior as acceptable. This came just before the Presbyterian Church (USA) affirmed their position of sanctioning same-sex marriage.

Can we even talk about this anymore? The last thing I want to do in this blog is throw more wood into an already overheated fire. But while my heart is not to stir a boiling pot, it is important that we keep finding our footing on solid rock in a moral landscape that seems to be made of quicksand.
I am incredulous that pastors and churches are making decisions to affirm, endorse, and even to bless LGBT relationships as Biblically-based and God-blessed. I think with even a rudimentary reading of Scripture, the Bible still condemns such behavior, even as it condemns other sexual sins.

Once I was asked, “So do you think that homosexual behavior is more sinful than adultery?” Well OF COURSE not. But then I do not have an organized block of adulterers coming to me and asking for their behavior to be legitimized, tolerated and affirmed. I have never knowingly allowed church membership to a couple who were participating in an adulterous affair, much less been asked to publicly affirm their behavior.

Let me say clearly that I have never encountered a homosexual person that I didn’t like or care about. I certainly don’t believe there is a homosexual who ever lived that Jesus didn’t love enough to die for.

But belonging to a local church has implications. One implication is that you are “called out” (ecclesia in Greek) from the world. You are no longer walking and living in the desires of your lifestyle before Christ transformed you and called you to belong to the local church. You are empowered to be different from the world.

The churches and even denominations that have diluted their understanding of church or of what is required for church membership to accommodate the LGBT lifestyle, and even to celebrate it as normative and acceptable, have distorted not only the Bible, but the very purpose and defining tenets of the local church. Their morality is now defined by the authority of subjective opinions, more than by Scripture.

Any LGBT person is welcomed and encouraged joyfully to worship with Fruit Cove. I will fight to the extent of my authority in this church to ensure that. We do not inquire about sexual orientation at the door. We believe every person has the right to come to Jesus just as they are. We are not a church of sin-free people. But once we come and desire to formally participate in and align ourselves with the Body as a reflection of Jesus Christ, the requirements and expectations intensify. I am confident that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we would have the right to live in homosexual relationships or any other sexually prohibited lifestyle for that matter. He died so we would be empowered to be different, and He expects His followers to be distinct.

We must take our stand like the man who built his house on a rock, not on shifting sand of changing cultural morals. We can rest assured that the storm will batter and the waves of cultural criticism will threaten. But our house is built on the Rock.

And if that is so, whatever comes…the house will stand.

The Portrait of Grace

We have all had the experience of standing before a great masterpiece of art; a painting or sculpture, that is regarded as moving or classic.  Perhaps you’ve seen a Monet, or you’ve viewed a classic sculpture by Michelangelo in a foreign country.  No matter what we have created as human beings, no work of art surpasses the greatness of the portrait painted on Mt Calvary the day that Jesus was crucified: a portrait of grace.

Consider the canvas.  The canvas on which this portrait of grace was painted was an old rugged cross.  Two pieces of wood intersected to serve as the instrument of death and suffering and shame on which our Savior died for OUR sins.

Consider the subject.  The subject of this portrait is the sinless Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  On that cross Jesus was nailed and hung to die as His lifeblood flowed away.  He died an agonizing (literally an excruciating…”out of the cross”) death.  He died that death may die that day with Him and for all who would come to believe in Him.

Consider the painter.  Who is responsible for this portrait?  Who would dare sign his name to such a work?  The artist was none other than God.  He painted this picture.  He showed us in the flesh of His only begotten son how deeply He loves us.  He painted this portrait with the spotless blood of His beloved and perfect Son.

Have you ever allowed the impact of this portrait to sink into your soul?  Are you aware that it was painted for YOUR salvation? Have you ever asked the author to forgive your sins and enter your life?  He’ll save you today if you will “confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.”  That’s the reason the portrait was painted.  That’s the reason the Son of God suffered and bled and died.

The portrait of grace was painted…for you.

What Does It Matter If We Share Jesus With Others

“…they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.”  (Acts 4:13)

Does it really matter whether or not we attempt to share our faith?   Isn’t it just enough that we accept what God says and then just try and live out our belief?  There are several misconceptions about this that prevent us from effectively talking to people about our faith.

Myth One is that, whether we share our faith or not, people will not die and go to Hell.  We may embrace this myth because we really REALLY don’t believe there is a literal, eternal Hell that people will go who have rejected Christ in this life.  But if there is no literal Hell, then neither did there need to be a literal cross for Jesus to suffer and die upon.

Myth Two is the acceptance of a politically correct practice of religion that doesn’t “push” it on someone who may differ with us.  We are penalized and intimidated more because of this assumption than almost any other.  While I have a problem with anyone “pushing” anything on anyone, I certainly do not believe it to be wrong to share from our heart what the Lord has done for us and to try lovingly to persuade them to accept it.

Myth Three is problematic for several reasons.  It implies that, “If we simply live our faith genuinely then people will just see and know that Jesus died for them.”  Wrong on several counts.  It is wrong, first, because it presumes that you can live out your faith clearly enough that people will see Christ well enough to believe in Him.  You can’t.  They won’t.  While it is very true that we must be consistent in our lifestyle and profession, the transmission of the Gospel from the New Testament on has required a VERBAL witness to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  It is wrong, also, because if we manage to live a halfway decent life in front of a lost world, they will simply assume you are a moral, righteous, or nice person.  Their default interpretation will not be that “they have been with Jesus.”

All to say, WE MUST SHARE CHRIST.  We must tell people what He means to us.  We must tell them at every open door we are given.  We must STOP BEING SILENT because we are intimidated by political correctness, fear of reprisals personally or professionally, or temperamental backwardness.

I pray that ONCE, between now and Easter, you will have a chance to share your faith with a non-believing individual.  If you don’t know how, please locate the “3 Circles” App (Life Conversations app) or go to our website at www.fruitcove.com to download it.

Sharing your faith WILL….CHANGE….YOU.  And hopefully, another will see eternity change for them!

A Renewed Mind

Last week we talked about how to have a “renewed mind” as an aspect of our daily experience of worship.  It is through that renewal that we are transformed into the image of Christ moment by moment and day by day, and not be conformed to the mold of the world. (Romans 12:1-2)

The primary means of transformation comes as we input the Word of God into our thinking, our relationships, our worldview.  There are actually five ways that we can get the Word into our lives:

1)   We can DELIGHT IN IT  everyday.

2)    We can MEDITATE on it often

3)    We can LISTEN to it preached

4)    We can KEEP IT BEFORE US and WITHIN US

5)    We can READ IT and COMMIT IT to memory

Each of these methods are dealt with in the Bible.  It is the Word of God that is “living and active” that goes to work inside us, changing and transforming us into a new creation.  While the potential of that transformation is always there, making it a reality is up to our commitment to input God’s Word into our lives.

We are to be a people made new by the blood of Christ but we are also to have the mind of Christ.  “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus….”  Learning to think like Jesus, and thereby to LIVE like Jesus….is a lifetime pursuit and passion.

Let His Word dwell in you richly….and you will reap the dividends.  It will change you….

Forever.

3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide

Picture1Pastor Tim shared the 3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide this morning and challenged each of us to use this tool as a conversation starter to share the gospel with a friend or family member between now and Easter.

 

If you missed his presentation, take a few minutes and view this video to understand how it works:

3-Circles Life Conversation Guide Demonstration from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.

If you have not already done so, take a minute to download the app to your smartphone from either of these app stores:

apple_store_button  google_play_button

 

Finally, take a look at the Life On Mission Page from the North American Mission Board and discover other resources to help you share the 3 Circles Conversation with others.

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