Posts Tagged ‘Christians’

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Christians Gone Wild Pt. 4

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

This sermon was preached on October 14th, 2012

To listen to the Sermon CLICK HERE 

Christians Gone Wild: Preaching Jesus

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

This is the second sermon in our new series from 1 Corinthians – Christians Gone Wild!

To listen to the sermon, CLICK HERE.

To subscribe to the sermon in iTunes, CLICK HERE.

Christians Gone Wild: Pastor Jesus

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

This is the first sermon in our new series from 1 Corinthians – Christians Gone Wild!

To listen to the sermon, CLICK HERE.

To subscribe to the sermon in iTunes, CLICK HERE.

August Letter from the Pastor

Monday, August 1st, 2011

What do we think we are doing?

It’s simple really. When it comes down to it, what we do (and don’t do) is the only real signifier of what we believe (and don’t believe).

Obviously we can lie to ourselves if we want, and most of us do at least some of the time, but the truth of the matter is that I will act on whatever I really believe. The converse is also true, if I’m not living out what I say I believe, then I’m not really believing it. Let’s take a minute to explore this truth with a little hypothetical situation.

If I say that I care for the safety of my children, then I will actually do things to ensure their safety. I will secure the house and make it child-proof. I will buy safety equipment for them to travel in during car rides such as car seats and then buckle them in making sure they are secure. If I truly want them to be safe, I will take the time to explain the dangers of their choices and reason with them why they should do or not do certain things as they grow up.

Basically, if I really believe there are potential safety issues for my children, then I will do everything I can within my power to ensure their safety and teach them how to be safe when I am not around. If I don’t do anything to protect them and teach them, then I must not really care about their safety as much as I say I do, right?

I’m sure all of you can understand and relate to this example. I have no doubt that you understand these truths and even agree with the premise that we act upon what we truly believe.

So why is it that we say we believe certain truths about God, yet we don’t act on what we say believe? I’m not even talking about the small stuff. I’m talking about the essentials of our faith like worship, discipleship, evangelism, prayer, fellowship, etc.

If we say we believe our entire lives should be about worshiping God, then why aren’t they? If we say we believe Matthew 28:18-20 and that we should be making disciples, then why aren’t we? If we say we believe God wants us to share our faith, then why aren’t we telling others about Him? If we say we believe in the power of prayer, then why aren’t we committing more of our time and energy to praying? Why aren’t we confessing our sins to one another and praying for one another…about more than just health issues? If we say we believe the church is to be a faith family who truly fellowships, then why do we only gather on Sundays or once a quarter over lunch? If we say we believe in forgiveness, then why do we choose to hold on to the past and not forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ?

We like to say we are followers of Jesus and we like to say we love God, but we don’t usually live out what we say we believe. And, if we don’t act on what we say we believe, then maybe we don’t really believe it after all.

Look, I’m not saying we have to do “this and that” to make sure we are really Christians. I’m saying that if we truly are followers of Christ, then we’ll look like it. Our actions and words don’t earn us God’s favor. Jesus’ work on the cross already did that for us. But if we truly believe what we say we believe, then we’ll start living it out.

What would it look like if we actually starting living out what we say we believe? How would that change our families? How would that change our workplaces? How would that change our faith family? How would that change our community? Think of all the possibilities and think of all the joy we would have in knowing we are doing everything we can to make much of God and to enjoy Him completely.

You brother and fellow sojourner in Christ,
Pastor Thomas

Letter from the Pastor – April 2011

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Dear Faith Family,

As I sit in my office, preparing to leave for a leadership meeting in Port au Prince, Haiti, I cannot escape the haunting reminder that even while I am planning a long-term strategy to reach people with the gospel in Haiti, there are thousands of people in our own community of Frostburg who are hopeless apart from faith in Jesus. This is the truth we walk in and live in every day. As we go about our lives, day in and day out, we are surrounded with people who are unaware of the imminent danger which is upon them because they do not believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

As I walk the halls and pass by conversations each Sunday morning, time and time again I hear people talking about how we need to reach our own community. I hear people talking about how we need to do something to see our church grow and our attendance numbers increase.

All of these conversations are good ones, but sometimes we get to a point where talk is just cheap. The truth of the matter is, we don’t need any new ideas for how to reach our community with the gospel. We don’t need to come up with some elaborate scheme or event in order to finally draw people into our church. We’ve already been given a plan and it’s a simple one.

Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17 (ESV)
[1] If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3] For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

[12] Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] 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. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If we would simply realize that we have been purchased by God with Jesus’ blood…for our redemption and for His glory, I believe everything would begin to make sense. We can no longer allow the temporary things of this earth to distract us from seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, the eternal things. Just as Jesus’ life was only about doing the Father’s work, so are our lives to be like His.

If we would begin to live like Jesus, in His compassion and humility, caring for one another, allowing His Word to dwell in us richly, worshiping in song and thankfulness, we would begin to see people being drawn to our faith family. We don’t have to come up with big event ideas or new marketing schemes. We just need to start living like the Christ followers we say we are, always worshiping in Spirit and in Truth.

Let’s stop selfishly living for ourselves, wasting our lives on things that will not last; and let’s start pouring out our lives for the things that will last forever – God’s glory, Jesus’ fame, and the salvation of the lost and hopeless people that surround us every day. Will we begin to truly love the people around us, not just with lip-service, but with gospel deeds and gospel words of deliverance? I hope we will. Their lives depend on it.

Your fellow sower of the seed,
Thomas

Letter from the Pastor – March 2011

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Dear Faith Family,

“We need to reach the local people of Frostburg.”

This is a recurring statement that I hear often when I am in or around conversations about our faith family and the desires we all have to see growth. For years I’ve been trying to discern and implement strategies and methods of evangelism and discipleship in order to make a dent in the kingdom of God. We, as church leaders, always hope that these methods and strategies will result in converts and an increased number of people attending our weekly services.

I’ve seen “new and improved” evangelism fads and “better than before” discipleship strategies come and go without much of a difference in results. In fact, it’s been quite frustrating to say the least. It seems as though we as the western church have bought into the idea that “if we sell it, they will come.”

We’ve become expert marketers and career consumers. It’s like we are looking for the one saving strategy that will finally drive unbelievers into our church, convert them, disciple them, teach them about tithing, and convince them why they need to serve on a ministry team; all while we sit in the pews like the judges on “American Idol” quietly giving high scores for the things we enjoy or arrogantly spreading our dissenting opinions on the things we don’t care for, possibly even berating those doing the work.

After years of revolutions on this merry-go-round there’s an emerging cry emanating from deep within my heart: “This isn’t what the New Testament church looked like! How have we gotten so far off track? What will it take, Lord?!”

The truth is…it will take what it has always taken. Even though times have changed and the world has changed…the key to “church growth” is the same as it always has been. We must recover the gospel of grace and learn to live in the moment with God.

We are in a great need for spiritual revival. I don’t mean just meetings that talk about change and services at night throughout the week. I’m talking bout real, spiritual revival where our people and the people in our community come to know and understand the gospel of grace. This is the type of revival we see described in church history any time there was an awaking or renewal that swept across neighborhoods and nations. Tim Keller describes what happens when revival really breaks out:

“When revival breaks out through a recovery of the gospel, three things happen: 1) nominal church members realize they’d never been converted; 2) sleepy, lethargic Christians are energized and renewed; 3) outsider non-Christians are attracted into the beautiful worship, community and lives of the converted and renewed church members. That’s how it works. We need it.”

So the question is not how can we cause our church to grow, but how can we recover the gospel of grace that leads to revival? Here are a few key things that must happen: The gospel is key. We must have a deep grasp on the gospel and strive to understand the many facets of how it applies to all of life. This happens through studying the Word (privately and corporately), living in and working out the gospel in community (we are not meant to go this alone, so being a committed member of a small group is essential), and living in the moment with God daily.

When we begin to see and understand the depth, beauty, and overwhelming nature of the gospel of grace, everything will begin to change for us individually and as a faith family. When we truly see God’s grace lavished on us in Christ instead of the condemnation we deserve, our hearts will be broken over our sinfulness. When we see the people around us through the eyes of God, we will begin to have the compassion for them that Jesus has and do anything and everything we can to save them. And when we finally realize what it means to have God within us (i.e. His Spirit living within us, continually communing with us), we will finally begin to walk in constant communion with Him and reorient everything in our lives around our daily walk with Him.

We need spiritual revival. We need to be broken over our sin so that we can live in freedom for God’s glory. I hope you will join me in yearning for this, in praying for this, in living for this. Let’s not waste our lives on things that will not last. As a humble man once said, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

Your brother in Christ,
Thomas

THE CORE: Living by God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Our latest sermon series is based on our Core Values. Each week we will be covering one of our church’s five core values. This week we are learning the importance of living by God’s Word. All of us want to live lives of purpose, lives that bring us joy and satisfaction. This week we are looking to God’s Word to reveal to us how we can make that a possibility. Here’s a short outline with a link to the sermon below, or if you have iTunes, you can go to our page there and subscribe to our podcast.

THE CORE: Living by God’s Word
2 Timothy 3:14-17

I. God Reveals Himself to Us through His Word

II. God’s Word Is Sufficient

III. God’s Word Reveals Our Path to Salvation

1. The entire Bible is about God’s redemption through Jesus Christ.
2. It’s about Jesus, not you.
3. Jesus is not the means by which you get something; Jesus is what you get!

IV. God’s Word Is Our Key to Life

1. You are what you eat. (John 6:48-58)
2. You are shaped by what you hold to be ultimate. (1 John 2:3-6)
3. You walk in whatever you hold to be ultimate. (1 John 2:3-6)
4. Jesus is not all you need; Jesus is all you’ve got.

To listen to the Podcast, CLICK HERE. To subscribe to our podcast, CLICK HERE.

THE CORE: Worship (Hebrews 13:15-17)

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Our latest sermon series is based on our Core Values. Each week we will be covering one of our church’s five core values. This week we are talking about worship. Unlike what most people think when they hear the word worship, it is not simply what we do when we sing songs about God. We are born worshipping. We are either worshipping someone or something or we are worshipping our Creator. This week we are going to try and understand what worship is and how we can align our hearts and minds to make sure we worship the only one who deserves to be worshipped…our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Here’s a short outline with a link to the sermon below, or if you have iTunes, you can go to our page there and subscribe to our podcast.

THE CORE: Worship
Hebrews 13:15-17

I. We Are Created Worshipping

1. Worship is honoring someone or something: glory.
2. Worship is something we do: sacrifice.
Our lives are about not doing some things so we can find time or money to do things more important to us.

II. We Have a Worship Problem

1. Sin is making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship with God.
2. Whatever we base our identity and value on becomes deified.
3. The root of the problem is always that you are worshipping something or someone over God.
4. We must constantly seek and smash our idols!

III. The Essentials of Biblical Worship

1. Praise
2. Proclamation: lips that confess Jesus’ name
3. Service: doing good as a demonstration of the gospel
4. Participation: sharing with others as a demonstration of grace
5. Sacrifice: giving of time, talent, and treasure
6. Submission: respecting godly authority placed over us

To listen to the Podcast, CLICK HERE. To subscribe to our podcast, CLICK HERE.

April Newsletter Article from the Pastor

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I’m not sure I’ve ever appreciated the dawning of Spring like I am beginning to appreciate it this year. After such a long, dark winter, it’s as if a fresh breath of air has rolled into the waking town of Frostburg. As you watch the people around town, it seems as if the pace is picking up each day. I’m sure everyone is just as excited as we are to be able to spend some time outside without having to layer up to stay warm. As the pace quickens, it’s easy to see how quickly our lives become busy with lots to do and not enough time to get it all done. It seems as if that never changes.

For this month’s entry I’d like to take a moment and ask you all to stop what you’re doing and take the next few moments to settle your hearts and minds on the one thing that should be the center of our lives all year long. Too often it’s relegated to the back of our minds until we approach this season of the year when Easter rolls around and we once again remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For many of us, this story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (the gospel) has become simply that…a story. It is a story that most of us are able to recite, but it isn’t for us what it is intended to be for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

What I’m trying to say is that a large number of us have come to a place in our lives where the gospel is something that we say is very important, but for most of us, we have relegated it’s importance to the people who have yet to “be saved.” We know it is important, but many of us believe it is important because it is what someone needs if they have never come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If this is where you are, then let me first say you are right…it is important for a lost person and it is
the only way a lost person can ever come to know Jesus as their Savior, but the gospel is much more than this. It is not just a pathway to salvation. It is much, much more!

The gospel of Jesus is the heart of the matter for His followers. It is the beginning, the middle, and the end of the Christian life. Yes, we come to know Jesus through the Holy Spirit’s enlightening us to the gospel, but it is also meant to be the central theme of our lives from then on until the return of Christ. We can never move beyond the gospel for then we would enter into a life of moralistic living where it is our good deeds that we rely upon for our sanctification. This type of thought is not only wrong, but it is anti-Christ. We, as followers of Jesus, must constantly place ourselves at the foot of the cross of Christ in humble submission to the gospel as our only means to salvation and relationship with God through Jesus. We can never move beyond the gospel in our Christian lives because to do so would be to move beyond Jesus himself. This is impossible for a follower of Jesus because the purpose for our lives is to become more like Jesus everyday and everything that Jesus is and was is encapsulated in the gospel! It is the air we breathe. It is the living water we drink. It is the food that nourishes our soul daily.

Let us as a church look upon the cross this Easter in a new way, not just in remembrance of what God has done for us in Christ, but let’s also see it as a call to remind us that the gospel of Christ is to be the central theme, the central motif of our lives every day. It’s not just for us to look into the past, but it is meant for us to carry it into the future as we live gospel-centered lives here in Frostburg, our lives purposed to reflect the glory and mercies of God in Jesus. Let’s make this Easter the beginning of the rest of our lives…the beginning of our church’s return to the gospel as the heart and soul of everything we are and do.

For Jesus’ fame,
Thomas

The Mission of Jesus: A Mission of Death (John 12:20-26)

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Our new series of sermons is based on the mission of Jesus. Our responsibility as Christians is to become more like Jesus every day. This means we are to learn and understand the mission of Jesus so that we can live on mission with him. This week’s sermon reveals that our mission is a mission of death. While it might sound morbid, it is truly a wonderful mission to which we are called. Here’s a short outline with a link to the sermon below, or if you have iTunes, you can go to our page there and subscribe to our podcast.

The
 Mission 
of
 Jesus: 
A 
Mission 
of 
Death
John 
12:20‐26

1. The objective of the mission is Jesus glorified.

2. You have been chosen for this mission. (v. 25)
a. You can refuse the mission: (i.) Loving your life in this world; (ii.) Losing your life eternally.
b. You can accept the mission: (i.) Hating your life in this world; (ii.) Gaining life eternal.

3. Your death is essential for the success of the mission.

4. Your life must be focused solely on the mission.
Our shameless focus on self must be replaced with a total
focus on Jesus and His mission.

5. The evidence that the mission is succeeding:
a. We will look more like Jesus daily: (i.) Jesus’ will increase and we will decrease; (ii.) Our desires will become like the desires of Jesus; (iii.) We will be consumed with God’s glory, our brothers, and the lost.
b. We will proclaim the gospel of Jesus daily.
c. We will see lives changed by the power of the gospel.

6. The end result:
a. Jesus will be glorified.
b. We will be with Jesus for eternal life.
c. We will share in the honor and glory of the Son.

To listen to the Podcast, CLICK HERE. To subscribe to our podcast, CLICK HERE.