14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Throughout my years as a Christ follower I have had a few men pour into my life as a mentor. While I was a student in seminary I had the pleasure to sit under my professor of Evangelism, Dr Dan Crawford. Dr. Crawford demonstrated a passion for students and he would seek out 5 seminary students that he would meet with on a weekly basis. Our time together was simple and it included prayer, scripture reading and confession of sin.
As I mentioned on Sunday, we are going to take 21 days (January 10th-January 31st) to fast and pray together as a church. I want to invite each of you to participate in this time because I believe this will be a powerful time for our faith community to draw near to God. During this 21 days of fasting and prayer we will refocus our mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God.
As we finally emerge out of a long political season there are numerous promises and campaign slogans that have been driven deep into the fabric of our society. There is obviously much debate over the issue of wealth and prosperity within our country; Nevertheless, there is one reality that is hard to escape- we live in one of the most prosperous nations on earth. You may not consider yourself wealthy but the reality is here in America we live in one of the most affluent societies in the world.
This past Sunday you guys surprised my wife and I with special recognition for pastor appreciation. I can honestly say that we were greatly humbled by your generosity and support. As I have had time to reflect on the special day I consider it a privilege to serve you for the cause of Christ.
As I have spent time studying the life of Martin Luther one of the main things that he has taught me is to remember the importance of scripture. More specifically, Luther during the reformation recaptured in a fresh way the importance of adjusting all of life, to the authority of scripture. His words before the council prove that he not only confessed the authority of scripture but he based his life on the complete authority of the Bible. Luther was asked as he stood before the council to recant his books and articles. Luther’s response was compelling, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
I have been reading through the book of Acts over the past few weeks. I am coming to the end of the book and I am so encouraged at the apostle Paul’s steadfastness even in the midst of suffering, persecution and death. As a great hero of the faith Paul reached the end with great confidence. Another hero of the faith who faithfully served until the end was John Calvin(July 10, 1509 - May 27, 1564). Calvin was a pastor and leader during the reformation. Although he faced opposition throughout his ministry, his confidence grew in the atoning work of Christ until the end. Consider the words of Calvin just a few weeks prior to his death:
Just like many of you today, I started my day by reading a selected section from the Bible. As I look around my bookshelf I notice many copies of the Bible and various translations. On occasion I will also use one my Bible apps or if I really want to dive deep into my study, I will open the Logos Bible software on my computer. Today as I was reading my Bible I was reminded of the great sacrifice that many have made to make Bible reading in the English language possible. I am also reminded that there are people who still have no translation of the Bible in their language. It is hard to imagine a place without a translation of the Bible but the reality is that there was a day when it was not common a translated copy and in fact it was very dangerous to translate the Bible into another language.
Have you ever though much about the Protestant Reformation? If the phrase is familiar chances are you have come across the name Martin Luther. Luther, a major leader of the Reformation nailed his 95 theses to the door of a Roman Catholic Church stating his independence on October 31, 1517. As a theologian, Luther was addressing perceived distortions within the Catholic Church. As a result of his boldness he received great support from the church in Germany. His actions on October 31, 1517 are identified as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation
This Sunday we are in the section of Hebrews that challenges the believers to pursue maturity. Listen to the words of Hebrews 5:11-14:Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) who also contribute to the New Life blog.