Crosses

You may have heard someone say, “It’s just my cross to bear.”  What does that mean?  For most of the folks in this culture it means they have something difficult in their lives that seems to have no end or cure.  But biblically it has a different meaning altogether.

In Matthew 16 verse 24 Jesus said this: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”  Jesus was telling us that if we truly want to be his follower, we must examine our lives for anything that doesn’t agree with His teachings. This thing (or these things) are to be gotten rid of, to make us acceptable in God’s sight. 

If it is our “cross” then it is probably something we really like or value.  Some of us struggle with addictive types of behaviors.  Some of us struggle with too great a fondness for inappropriate entertainment or maybe its money that we love.  It might be our pride or an anger issue.  If we look into ourselves with honesty, we’ll see that there is something that doesn’t belong.  These are the things that would make us squirm if we were doing them with God standing in front of us.

So what if we don’t want to get rid of those things?  God has given us free will, the ability to choose what we want in our lives and who we want to be.  We are free to be His or to go our own way.  Every choice has a consequence.  As adults, we know if we break the law, we pay a penalty.  This applies to God’s laws also.  The consequences for breaking His laws though, have everlasting consequences.  

Sunday morning Gordon Smith will be bringing us a message about what this means.  Please join us at 10:55 a.m. in the sanctuary or on Facebook’s live-stream.  We look forward to seeing you then!  We encourage you to come as you are if you’re in town!

The Day of Atonement

In Leviticus 23 God called His people to seven appointed times.  Passover is one of these.  God called for four of these times to be celebrated in the spring and three to be celebrated in the fall.  Each time is represents a specific purpose and every appointed time ties into Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and return.

Last Sunday, at sunset, began the time of the Lord’s fall appointments.  It is commonly known as the Feast of Trumpets.  Trumpets are blown to call the people to worship and to praise God with a loud noise.  This day is all about celebrating all the goodness and blessings that God has poured out in the past year.

Following this are 10 days of reflection.  Called the Days of Awe, this is a time to look back and realize where we have fallen short.  Whether it is within ourselves or involves others, this is a time to seek a way to mend what may be broken in our lives.  On the 10th day, we are called before God to humble our souls (Lev. 23:27) and atone for our sins.

Because Jesus died for us, He became the burden bearer for our sins.  At the moment His soul was released from His body, we believe that He also became our High Priest.  He sits at the right hand of God and intervenes for us now. 

Yet, this is not the end of the story.  If you are curious about the rest of it, please join us this Sunday morning at 10:55 a.m.  Pastor Ann will be bringing the Lord’s message about this appointed time and what we still need to be watching for.  See you then!

Praise God Challenge

Praise God!  If you live in the South, you’ve heard this term many times.  It has become a common by-word that is often used when things go well for someone, whether or not they are Christian.  There are other words we’ve all heard when things don’t go so well.

As our culture has changed and moved its center away from the Lord, it’s those other words we now hear most often.  Praising God is no longer a common practice in this country.  If you think about that for just a moment, you may realize how sad that is.

But, you say…………. WHY would I want to praise God when He lets bad stuff happen to me?    My life is difficult.  I can’t pay all my bills.  My car broke down and now I can’t get to work.  I lost my job.  My spouse left me.  The bank is foreclosing on my house or the landlord just evicted me.  My child has an incurable disease.  The list goes on.

Praise Him and thank Him for what is RIGHT in your life.  Sometimes this is the most difficult part of praising and worshipping Him.  When everything seems to be going wrong, its so hard to see what is right in our lives.  But there are always right things in our lives, when we pause to consider.  We are after all, alive, breathing, thinking.

Praising God is part and parcel of worshipping Him.  It can be simple or elaborate.  Praise can be done by an individual or a group.  It encompasses any human effort to demonstrate to Our Lord that He is recognized as the one true God and that He is honored and appreciated for that.

Praise can be a whispered thank you when a child’s fever breaks.  It can be the shout of a thousand voices singing “hallelujah.”  However praise is offered, it is integral to a real relationship with God.  How we praise God varies from person to person and culture to culture.  What we need to learn is to DO IT.

If this isn’t a habit you’ve already developed, begin today.  Look around you and say thank you God for even the smallest detail in your life that is right.  Give Him the credit that it is as it should be.  That’s it.  That’s all you need to do to praise Him. 

If you will try this for the next 30 days, God will begin to help you see your life in an entirely new light.  And you will begin to see Him in a completely different way.

If you would like to learn more about Praising God please join us this Sunday.  Pastor Ann’s message will focus on Praise at 10:55 a.m. We will be meeting again at 6:30 p.m. for a people’s praise time.  Anyone who wishes is allowed 3 minutes to get up and share whatever is on their heart that is a praise to God.  We’ll have food and fellowship afterwards and you are MOST welcome to join us.

QUICK REMINDER

September is our month of missions emphasis. Please work on filling your Alabaster boxes to assist in building or rebuilding our churches and schools around the world. We also need to be gathering the supplies needed for our “Crisis Care Kits.” If you don’t have a list of items for this, please see Gary Hohner.

What do You Say When…?

“Moses also said, ‘You will know that it was the Lord . . . because He has heard your grumbling against Him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.’” —Exodus 16:8

While attending seminary, I also had the opportunity to work for a large company. I was paired with an experienced senior employee who was bright, outgoing, kind, and humorous. She was well-liked by everyone and helped me with my job.

One thing I noticed about her was that, despite having many great qualities, she was often highly critical of her church. In passing, she would criticize her church and the people with whom she worshipped.

After a few years of listening to her periodic negative comments, I finally told her that it sounded like she might be ready to try a new church. She quickly rebuked me, asking, “Why would you say that?” I sheepishly responded by pointing out some of the specific “concerns” she had shared with me about her church during the time we had worked together. Even though she listened to what I had to say, she defensively responded, “I love my church and could never leave it.” 

Over time, I have never forgotten this incident. My coworker was respected in my office and had many good qualities. I couldn’t figure out why she attended church when she was so highly critical of it. After listening to her comments, I wondered why anyone would desire to attend her church. There must have been something that kept her from wanting to make a change. Perhaps her church wasn’t that bad after all, but she never said anything positive or redeeming about it.

What do you say about your church around others?

Throughout my life, I have heard many people speak negatively about their churches—not because there is nothing good to say, but rather because they have decided to be critical instead of sharing a good word to listening ears. I’m sure I have been guilty of this at some point in my life, too.

While no church is perfect, the hope is that everyone would work together to make strides towards positive change and growth. Congregations are the biggest promoters of their church. If they don’t have anything positive to say, why would anyone want to come?

This is something I wish I had asked my coworker years ago. What did she love most about her church? What kept her going back Sunday after Sunday? I wish she would have shared her positive thoughts with others. Sometimes a kind or positive word is all it takes to make a life-changing difference that will last forever. You never know who may be listening.

Prayer for the week:

Lord Jesus, may I be the Christian ambassador that You would have me be. May I be prepared to say a good word about You and the Body of Christ (my church). Forgive me for the times I have fallen short of this standard. Help me to look for opportunities to encourage my pastor and other leaders. Help me to understand that You can use my positive and sincere words to help others draw closer to You. Amen.

Bob Buck is senior pastor of Liberty Church of the Nazarene in Liberty, MO, USA.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.

Defining Praise and Worship

Praise and worship are words that are used frequently in churches.  Have you ever wondered what they really mean?  Are they different or are they two words meaning the same thing?  They are related, but they are not the same. 

We are called to praise Him over 100 times in the NASB version of the bible.  These verses frequently include references to music, but not all do.  They do maintain the common theme of celebrating and glorifying God.   We can praise God with our voices by sharing stories of answered prayer also.  Whenever we celebrate His grace, pay tribute to His actions or glorify His name we are praising Him.

Worship is the act of acknowledging God and humbling ourselves before Him.  Many verses speak of bowing low before Him.  If we are not aware of who He is and who we are in relation to Him, that type of humility won’t occur to us.  Worship is the acknowledgement of His Kingship, His Godhood. 

Pastor Ann is going to take us deeper into the meanings of these words and how they apply to our lives on Sunday morning.  We encourage you to join us on our journey.  We’ll be live-streaming on Facebook if you can’t meet us in the sanctuary at 10:55 a.m.

Just in case

Just in case you missed the live-feeds of Dr. Warrick yesterday, here’s a brief synopsis…..

Reverend Warrick began our REVIVAL services yesterday with a simple question. 

“How big is your God?” 

That seemed like a relatively easy question to answer, until we started to think about and he continued talking.  How big IS your God?  Is He big enough to handle the day to day problems you face?  What about the crises that come into your life?  Is He big enough to change your life?  That one is up to you.

Rev. Warrick reminded us that we serve a God who is immeasurable.  There is no one greater!  He is the God of the impossible.  He created everything! 

The next statement that grabbed everyone’s attention was even bolder.

“We are all exactly where we want to be in our walk with God.”

WHAT?  How is that possible?  Dr. Warrick went on to explain using Matt. 5:6 –

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” 

Are you hungry?  Are you thirsty?  Then you are on the right path.

If you have lost your appetite then Dr. Warrick maintains you are one of three things.  You are: 

                        1.  Sick

                        2.  Dying

                        3.  Dead

If you are “all good with God” then you belong in one of those three categories.  You are sick, dying or already dead in the Lord.  You have hardened your heart, closed your ears, your eyes and your mind to God.  You have sealed off your soul.  While this might be a comfortable place to be right now, today, it’s not a wise place to be when weighed against eternity.

The wise place to be is that in which God is first in all things.  First in your thoughts when you wake, first in your conversation each day and first in your mind as you go out into the world for whatever your schedule holds.  When God is first, all else will follow.  He has promised that in His Word and He never ever breaks His Word.

If you want MORE of what God has for you, if you want Him to have MORE of you, please join us tonight at 6:30 p.m. as Dr. Warrick continues his message of REVIVAL for Cove Church of the Nazarene.

REVIVAL

This is just a quick reminder that REVIVAL starts tomorrow morning. Please join us at 10:55 to hear from Dr. J.K. Warrick. He will be speaking to us again at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Monday through Wednesday evenings Dr. Warrick will be bringing us the Good News at 6:30 p.m.

When we no longer feel that we desperately need God, He can no longer use us as He wills. Look into your heart. If you aren’t feeling that urgent need, perhaps you’ve become too comfortable, or are relying on something or someone other than God. While comfort is a nice place to visit, its not always a good place to live. Think about David and how the ease of palace life disrupted his life.

REVIVAL services are an effective way of bringing us back to the hunger for Him that we need to be feeling. Please pray earnestly for a true revival in our church and then come hear what God has given Dr. Warrick to share with us.

Who Told You?

“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.” —John 1:35-37

I recently read that currently 2.2 billion people worldwide identify themselves as Christians. That is an impressive number, especially considering the many Christians that have previously walked this earth and have gone on to glory in the last 2,000 plus years. However, one must remember that even though Christianity began with a small following, prompted by the Holy Spirit and by word of mouth, followers of Jesus passed on the good news about Him being the Messiah to the people who crossed their paths. 

In John 1:35-51, John the Baptist points two of his own disciples to Jesus as Jesus passed by. These two men, Andrew and John, decided to follow Him to where He was staying.

After spending several hours with Jesus, they were both convinced He was the Messiah and that nothing would be the same ever again.

Soon after, the first thing Andrew did was to tell his brother Peter about his encounter with Jesus. Later, Jesus also met with Phillip, who went on to tell his friend Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew) about Jesus. These five men (Andrew, John, Peter, Phillip, and Nathanael) were the first disciples of Jesus.

As we see in Scripture, the men who followed Jesus simply told their family and friends about Him. They knew that something about Jesus had changed their lives, and they wanted other people around them to have that experience as well. All they did was to simply invite, “Come, see for yourself” (v. 46, NLT).

This simple task of spreading the Good News is as effective today as it was for Andrew and John. Now, regardless of the many resources available to spread the gospel at a faster pace, modern-day Christians sometimes fail to take up this task consistently and seriously. We make excuses and shy away from sharing the story of our Savior with others. We worry about inappropriateness in certain settings, inconvenience, and lack of receptivity from our listeners. In a way, by focusing on our comforts, aren’t we wasting opportunities to share the Good News with the people we encounter daily?

The apostle Peter reminds followers of Christ to have a sense of urgency when it comes to telling others the hope they have in Jesus (see 1 Peter 3:15).

Who is the first person that told you about Jesus Christ? I remember the days my mom would sit with me at the kitchen table sharing the love of Jesus. Those conversations are etched in my memory. She did this with me in the same way her father (my grandfather) did it with her. The knowledge and understanding of who I am in Christ and my life’s purpose is the greatest treasure I could have. I am eternally thankful to my mother for carrying on the tradition of sharing faith.

Sadly, many people have never had these types of intimate conversations with anyone. The body of believers has the opportunity to fill this void. Cross-generational relationships in the church can help encourage evangelism and discipleship—small but important actions that are desperately needed for those who may not know the truth about Jesus.

Sending someone a note, extending a phone conversation, or taking him or her to lunch is a great way to make a Kingdom impact in that person’s life. Some might say these are basic ideas, and I agree—but the key is to follow through. “Knowing” and “doing” are two different aspects. So, seize the day! A genuine interest in another person’s life and family is an important step to sharing Jesus’ love.

Do you remember the person who introduced you to Jesus? Do you truly understand what this person did for you when he or she shared Jesus’ love with you? Make an effort to be that person for someone else today. Could you and I be an Andrew, a John, a Peter, a Phillip, or a Nathanael? It can make all the difference in the kingdom of God!

Prayer for the week:

Lord Jesus, I am thankful for the person (or persons) who told me about you. Today, I pray that you would put someone on my heart to whom I can tell about you. Guide and direct me as I intentionally invest in another person’s life, so that person would know how much Jesus loves and cares. Amen.

Bob Buck is senior pastor of Liberty Church of the Nazarene in Liberty, MO, USA.

Written for Coffee Break with Holiness Today.