Posts Tagged ‘life’

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May Newsletter Article from the Pastor

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Dear Faith Family,

I’m a man filled with hate. I hate the sins that seem to be unshakeable in my life. I hate that I seem to always do the things that I don’t want to do. And I don’t seem to do the things I really want to do. I hate that I am unable to be the husband I want to be for my wife. I hate that I am unable to be the pastor that I want to be for my faith family. And I hate that I can never really be the lover of my God and Savior that I know I need to be.

It seems to come so easy for some people, but it isn’t easy for me. Maybe you know the frustration I feel. Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to live a life of worship if that’s what we were created to live? Do you ever get so frustrated with your sin that you want to scream and curse yourself for your continual failures? I do. It seems the more I try to live right for God, the more I fall on my face in utter failure and despair.

Recently, God’s been working within me to show me a few things that I hope will be as helpful to you as they have been to me.

I’ve come to understand that the temptations we face and the sins we struggle with are not simply a judgment from God. Of course sometimes we do receive the punishment we are due for going against our creator, but that is not the only reason we face temptations in our lives.

Our Father loves us. And because He loves us, he sometimes allows us to be tempted for a purpose. The Bible is clear that He is not the one tempting us, but He does allow us to be tempted.  He doesn’t allow temptation just to test us to see if we will love Him more or to see if we will be able to overcome sin by our own will power.

I believe one of the main reasons He allows us to be tempted is to drive us into His loving arms. You see we will never be strong enough in our own power to avoid the temptations and sins that we face every day. God does command us to be holy, but we are unable to work hard enough to beat the sin that so easily entangles us.

When we are tempted, it is God’s desire that we would humble ourselves and fall at His feet asking Him to deliver us from the temptation to sin against Him. He isn’t looking for us to try and defeat sin in our own power. He wants us to realize our dependence on Him and ask Him, our Father, to deliver us from our sin and even from ourselves. He wants us to tap into the power of the gospel by depending on Him, not ourselves.

The Christian life isn’t about us striving harder to be better people. It’s about us realizing we can’t will ourselves into perfection. It’s about us realizing we were not created to live under our own power, but we were created to embrace the One who holds all power over sin. We were created to be loved by God in order that we might then love Him back because of what He has done for us in Christ Jesus, His Son. When we love God and wholly depend on Him for deliverance from our sinfulness, we are finally living life the way it was originally intended. It’s not about us working harder to win the war. It’s about us depending on God and resting in the love He has shown us by winning the war for us through Jesus going to the cross in our place.

So the next time you are tempted to sin, don’t rely on your own strength. We aren’t strong enough…and that’s ok. God is strong enough and He simply wants to love us and deliver us as any good Father wants to do for His children…so let Him. Don’t try to take it all on yourselves. Instead, turn toward God and fall into His embrace, allowing Him to love you and deliver you. For this is why He has created us…to show us the love of a perfect Father.

Your fellow failure,
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

September Newsletter Article from the Pastor

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Dear Welsh Faith Family,

Is it just me or does it seem to you like time is continually speeding up? When I was younger, days seemed like they never ended. Weeks felt like months and months felt like years. At this point in my life, days feel way to short. Weeks fly by at mach one and months seem to disappear before I realize they were even here. Is it just me, or do you feel the same way?

I know you feel the same. Everyone I talk to expresses their surprise at how fast the days go by…how there are never enough hours in the day. And you know what I’ve come to realize? There are NOT enough hours in the day. We all have a limited amount of time to accomplish a limited number of goals. This realization necessitates that we carefully and intentionally prioritize our lives so that we accomplish the most important goals to make sure we don’t one day look back and realize we wasted our lives on things that do not really matter.

Let’s put things in perspective. Let’s say we will all live to the ripe old age of 100. In comparison to one million years, 100 years is only about as long as the blinking of an eye. When we look at how long 100 years is in relation to eternity, we begin to realize 100 years is really no time at all.

This begs the question: What goals are worthy of my time and resources while I am alive for such a short period of time? It seems that the goals that would have to take priority are the goals that will last for much longer than my short life on this earth. Don’t you think we should try our hardest to accomplish the most important and the most impacting goals possible in order to make our lives as meaningful as possible? If you call yourself a Christian (i.e. a Christ-follower), then you can’t ignore the fact that Jesus said our lives are to be about God’s glory, not about us. We were created to love God back in a way that makes Him as famous and well-known as possible. After all, it’s about God, not us.

When we begin to put things into perspective, it’s easy to see that most of us spend a great deal of time focusing on things that don’t mean very much in the long run. Does it really matter if we drive the biggest and best cars, when we could settle for less and give more money to those in need? Does it really matter if I please everyone around me when the only person I’m created to please is God? If we began to reassess everything we do and don’t do in this life according to Scripture and according to what God has called us to do in this short life, would we still put so much time and effort into the things that seem to take up all our time now? I don’t think we would.

Once we realize that the only things that really matter are the souls of those around us and God being glorified, it seems that our priorities shift to reflect this truth. What do you fill your days with during this short life you have on this earth? Are you allowing yourself to be consumed with things that really aren’t going to matter in the long run? Or are you constantly seeking to re-prioritize your life to make sure that everything you spend your life doing is going to have an eternal impact? This is what Jesus commands us to do. In Philippians 3:17-21, Paul says it better than I ever could:

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

Don’t set your minds on earthly things for the short time we are here on this earth. It doesn’t matter the style of music we play. It doesn’t matter what color the walls are where we worship together. It doesn’t matter if the order of service isn’t exactly like I want it to be. It doesn’t matter who leads the singing or who gives the announcements. It doesn’t matter what stuff we use or don’t use for decorations.

There are only two things that really matter when it comes to our faith family: 1.) Are we doing everything we can to make much of God and to make Jesus’ name great in our community? 2.) Are we doing everything we can to take the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost in our community and around the world so that they can join us in worshipping the one, true God of the Bible?

Once John the Baptist realized the overwhelming task at hand, to glorify God and win the lost for Jesus’ sake, he put things into perspective for us. He says it plainly and concisely in John 3:30, “Jesus must increase, but I must decrease.” What would happen if we started to see things so clearly, if we realized we need to decrease in importance and Jesus needs to increase in importance in our lives?

I’ll tell you what would happen. We would quit bickering over things that don’t matter. We’d stop complaining about all the things that are exactly the way we’d like them to be. We’d re-prioritize and we’d start impacting the world by sharing the gospel of Jesus with the lost in our town and around the world. We’d start seeing lives changed through the power of the Spirit of God, by the grace of God, because of the Son of God. It would change our lives, our community, and our world, all for God’s glory. I pray this is what we become as a faith family here at Welsh. Let’s make this our utmost goal.

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.

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.