Jesus is Enough

Ever felt?

Ever been overwhelmed by the challenges and demands of life? Ever just had a rough morning that hung around all day? Ever just felt like you needed help guidance, courage, rest, insight, motivation, provisions, or just plain help? Jesus invites us to come to Him every day, in every way all the time. He is enough.

What are we missing?

We are usually quick to research or google to get our answer to life's questions, to find resources or outside help to give us the information and courage to tackle a tough question or problem. We are less inclined to spend time in God’s Word and prayer, trusting Him to provide, to care for us, to empower us. We truly believe that we can handle things on our own, and we usually prefer it that way.  But oh… what we are missing? Peace, strength, power and courage in ways we cannot even image or think of! Take a moment to read Matthew 6: 25-34, Matthew 11: 28-30, Ephesians 3:20 and Proverbs 3: 5-6.

Whatever your problem, challenge, need or care...

Jesus is the image of the invisible God the first born over all creation….for God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him… Colossians 1: 15-20

Jesus is Immanuel; God with us. He is personal, He is loving, and He is the creator of the universe. He is more than we can imagine or think. Whatever your problem, challenge, need, or care...Jesus is enough.


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Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at NUMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.

The Great Omission

Great Commission or Omission

We probably hear Matthew 28: 19-20 recited often. It is a great verse which most of our church vision and mission statements are built on. It gives specific instructions for us to go, make disciples and teach all nations. It is called the Great Commission, but if you look at how often Christians share Christ with others, maybe it would be better to re-name it the Great Omission. Let me unpack that comment. According to George Barna, (Barna Research Group)

Only about half (53%) of born again Christians feel a sense of responsibility to tell others about their faith. In other words, nearly half of born again Christians do not think that it is their personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs with those who do not know Christ.  (1999) Robert J Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of stories, Illustrations & Quotes, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (2000)
— www.lifeway.com/Artlicle/sermon-freedom-4-sharing-christ-in-all-places

Not a Suggestion

The Great Commission is not a suggestion, but a command from Christ to go and build His church.  In the past, the church offered a variety of great programs and events that were easy to invite others to attend.  Then when our non-believing friends came to our churches, the Gospel was presented, and the love of Christ was readily offered to all who came through our doors.  While this can still be true, people are less likely to come to our churches.  Some of this is due to the busyness of life. Most people are exhausted with their own schedules, and no matter how we market our events and programs, they are too tired to give it much consideration.  Also, let’s face it, we are having a difficult time making our events marketable against the other time consuming events screaming for their attention.  While we want to be attractional to others, we still work hard at providing substitutive, Gospel, meaningful and relevant messages, Bible studies and events. That is a tall order especially for weekly event.

Ways to Share

So I want to suggest that there are other ways to share Christ with others, outside of inviting them for our weekly programs, worship and events. God has uniquely positioned each of us in our own areas of influence. Most of us have homes, jobs, schools, doctor’s offices, groups and associations that we regularly interact with. We can take those opportunities and learn to be more intentional with sharing Christ with others where ever we go. This week I would like to share some ideas on witnessing with our neighbors.  We have become so compartmentalized in our lives this is one of the more difficult places to start. If you are anything like me you do not know most of your neighbors, and the ones you do know, generally the relationship is superficial. You may wave, or nod, when they are out getting their mail, but it doesn’t go much from there. Christian Woman’s Today puts it like this: Witnessing to neighbors in our own neighboorhood...

We often don’t find the time – or more often, the courage-to knock on a neighbor’s door or approach them in the yard. Guilty that our neighborhoods seem cold and unfriendly and that we’re not helping matters.  And, most importantly for Christian couples, guilty that our home is not a beacon for a neighborhood full of lost souls.
— www.todayschristianwoman.com/article/2008/september/witnessing-to-neighbors

Here are some ideas online that can help us be more intentional in sharing the Gospel (The Good News) with our neighbors.  

Visit www.vergenetwork.org to find 25 missional ways to be missional in our neighborhoods. 

These are some great ideas, but, even if you think: that won’t work in my neighborhood; the list is bound to make you think of ways of things that might open opportunities to build relationship with your neighbors.

We also have VBS Camps that we offer all summer long throughout our neighborhoods. These camps give us the unique opportunity to let our neighbors know, even if they don’t attend our camps, that we are open to sharing about Christ with others. It is a window to build a bridge of hope and sharing with others. www.navarre.church/vbs.

Omission of the Great Commission is just Disobedience

It is a command that tells us to go... and make disciples. Look around in your neighborhood today… how can you share the love of Christ with those who live close to you? Ask God to help you look for those opportunities and empower you to build those relationship and share His love with others.

Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at NUMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.

Politics or Jesus

Christian and Political

There are three things you aren’t supposed to bring up in polite conversation: Religion, politics, and money. I guess we can go ahead and mark this blog as impolite… Last week Bernie Sanders had an interesting encounter with Russell Vought. (Lori Ferguson’s son Daniel did an amazing blog on it which can be found here) https://whychurchblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/what-bernie-sanders-got-so-wrong-about-christianity-and-what-christianity-gets-so-wrong-about-outsiders/

While this small section of dialogue has sparked a lot of other conversations, the central theme to these exchanges revolves around how we handle being Christian AND political.

Looking at the Issues

Last year before the elections our youth group did something a little different. We took the top three candidates and the top 10 issues (abortion, immigration, gun control, etc.) and looked at each issue from a purely Biblical perspective. We then marked which candidate had the most biblical perspective on the issue. It sounds simple, but it was one of the hardest things for some of our more politically minded people to handle. One thing that made it difficult is that the Bible never mentions guns, doesn’t mention abortion, or directly mention a lot of the other issues that we talked about that night. And sometimes when it did talk about what we were looking for, there’d be another verse somewhere else that seemed to go against that first verse. So for all those people who are looking for that one verse that completely justifies their political position, that verse probably doesn’t exist. At the end of the night we looked at how the candidates stacked up, and it wasn’t good. None of them completely matched what the Bible said, I think the best one had 6 out of 10. 

The Point

The point of that night was to get students to think about politics and the Bible differently. Jesus was never a republican or a democrat, but it’d be a mistake to think that Jesus was never political. There is an amazing book that I think anyone who wrestles with politics and christianity should read called “The Politics of Jesus” by John Howard Yoder. Basically, the book explores “the Gospel narrative to reveal how Jesus is rightly portrayed as a thinker and leader immediately concerned with the agenda of politics and the related issues of power, status, and right relations.”

Following Jesus

If we, as Christians, are called to be imitators of Jesus, then we need to be involved in politics like Jesus was involved in politics. But that doesn’t mean that we support party before God. And the even harder thing to come to terms with is that it doesn’t even mean we pick country before God. Jesus was born an Israelite in a time where Romans ruled over them. He was expected to save his nation (or at least that’s what they thought the Messiah would do) and he never once talked about Israel first, or Israeli rights. He talked about the Kingdom of God in ways that we still don’t understand. It goes against our ingrained logic of what politics should be, so much so that most of us don’t see an issue with the picture of an American flag flying over a Christian flag. We are supposed to be Christ followers before anything else, and as Christ followers we will get involved in politics because we’ll be fighting the cause of the widows, the orphans, and the foreigners in our midst. We’ll care about the hungry and poor, we’ll even care about those who live a lifestyle different than what we think is acceptable. Politics and religion can get messy, and maybe we should avoid talking about them in polite conversation. Maybe instead we should talk about them where it really matters and follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

Nathan Persell serves as our Youth Director. When he's not leading devotions and playing basketball with teenagers, he enjoys disc golf and bike riding. Learn more about Nathan here.

Strong

Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

-2 Timothy 2:1-7, NLT


What do you think of when you think of a strong person? Do you think of someone who never gives up? Someone who trains hard, fights hard, and gives 110% to the very last second? Someone who is trying to become a champion?

Or maybe, you think of someone who is battling some type of sickness and does so with a smile on his or her face. Someone who smiles even when it's a hard day. Someone who always puts others first and enjoys every moment in life.

Maybe you think of the mom or dad that has dedicated every day to raising a child or children, making sure that child knows she is loved and can become whatever she sets her mind to. She can imagine the world however she wants and even shape the world into something new if she so wishes.

Maybe still, you picture one of our military men or women, or one of our civil servants, who wake up every morning ready to give his or her life protecting others. He trusts the people standing next to him to have his back and the person giving him orders to be leading him in the right direction.

No matter who you imagine as a strong person, none of these people are truly strong without God on our side. At the same time, with God we can all become strong through his Grace and love. We can have the strength to go through our lives and not only survive but thrive as his sons and daughters.

This week, we will be looking into this idea of Grace more as we conclude our sermon series, Amazing Grace. I hope you'll join us.

Blessings,
Faith


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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Is the Bible Sacred?

A friend of mine who is a youth pastor in Texas is bracing herself for the aftermath of burning a Bible in front of her teens. You read that right, and there are no typos, she is burning the Bible. If it helps, she’s ripping out some pages first. 

You might be experiencing some anger, curiosity, or panic right now, and that is perfectly natural. She is doing this as part of an illustration on the importance of scripture. I know it sounds counter productive to that thought, but here’s her play. Tonight she is going to ask her students to recite all the scripture they know, and as they do she’ll rip out that verse of the bible and give it to them. Once they’ve recited all the scripture they know, which if we’re being honest will probably be less than a handful of verses per student, she’ll burn the rest of the Bible. The students will be left with just a few short verses, most of them probably clinging to “Jesus wept”. The point she’s making is that scripture is something they “need to KNOW, to memorize scripture because someday they might not have it otherwise. That there are people all over the world who don't have it. And for them to neglect their study of scripture is way worse than me burning the Bible.”

She has already taken a lot of flak from other youth pastors who are horrified that she’s going to burn the word of God. But then again, I’ve had a pastor yell at me for laying my bible down on the pulpit and not holding it while I read scripture. People have been upset about seeing a Bible on the ground. I had a really old Bible that was falling apart and pages were missing from years of use, I didn’t want to just throw it away in case someone saw me so I wrapped it up in another bag and threw the bag away. There is this ideology about protecting or treating the Bible with respect. I’m one of the few that thought it was an awesome idea and thought about stealing it for our students.

As angry as I just made some of you, or as angry as everyone else is at this friend of mine, you would think that the Bible is incredibly important. Her illustration sparked conversations about how to treat a book, something that isn’t God but merely a representation of the word of God, and most people got seriously close to equating the paper and ink with God himself. People couldn’t get past a burning Bible to realize that the thing they felt so deeply about losing was the thing they neglect 99% of the time and the exact reason she was burning the book in the first place.  If you were to ask me how many verses I have memorized, I’d stumble through a couple dozen or so but I would have next to nothing compared to what was burned.

A lot of people who care so deeply about not burning a Bible are the same ones who don’t care about it enough to read it every day. How angry are you that she’s burning the Bible? How angry are you that some of her students haven’t ever read the Bible outside of church activities? Jesus often had fun with the pharisees, who by the way loved the scriptures. I feel like they would be in the camp of never burn a Bible. But Jesus said “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” The Bible is important, the most important book we have, but it isn’t God. The book itself isn’t even anything special. And unless we are doers of the word as well as hearers, it means nothing. 

Nathan


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Nathan Persell serves as our Youth Director. When he's not leading devotions and playing basketball with teenagers, he enjoys disc golf and bike riding. Learn more about Nathan here.