Friday, July 20, 2012

The Trenches

If you were at worship Sunday morning a couple a weeks ago you heard me talk about how I was getting to go on the beach trip for the first time with our middle school and high school students. It was great! I had a lot of fun with our students, and was especially excited to get a feel for where they are at in their spiritual lives. It was very apparent that they are growing spiritually.

Over the week, we were lead to think seriously about what we would be willing to give up in order to live our lives for Jesus. And we were encouraged to imagine what our community would be like if we let Jesus live through us.

Meal times provided some priceless opportunities to listen to students tell their thoughts about how these challenges would play out. I wanted to know how they thought the life of following Christ would impact their community in high school.

As I listened, the image of soldiers, weary with battle, speaking with tired eyes of the strain of war came to my mind. I could see that they desperately wanted their high school to change to a place  where the Love of Christ reigned. I could tell they believed in God, I knew many of them had trusted Christ as Savior. What I saw were young warriors who needed encouragement to persevere in the fight to live Christ in front of their peers in a difficult arena of the war against our enemy.

I didn’t walk away with an indictment for our students. I walked away knowing that we have to rally around them and tell them that we have not forgotten them nor the charge they will lead into enemy territory, even their own hearts, to make Christ known. They are unsure about the cost I think. Let’s support these ones in the trenches.

Chris Schlender
BCC Childrens Pastor

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Let That Be Enough.

"The Lord's love never ends; His mercies never stop. They are new every morning." 
- Lamentations 3:2

If all God gave you was His grace, would that be enough? If God answered no other prayer but your plea for salvation, would you be content? 

We live in a culture of dissatisfaction. We live in a land of "Want, Want, Want, Want, Want..."

Our contentment is tied up with our desires. All too often when my wishes aren't granted, I become pouty and indignant like a child, insisting I know what's best.

But we dim the light of the Gospel when we allow ourselves to be consumed by what we want or what we don't have. We are telling ourselves and others that God's gift of grace, love, and renewed mercies every morning isn't enough for us. We want the man of our dreams. We want new jobs. We want a lesser car payment. We want more. 

Contentment is knowing that you would be at peace if God gave you nothing more than what He already has. 

Seek His face over all other things. Place your desire and longing for His will and purposes over your own plans. You'll find true joy when you set your sights on things above, rather than things below. 

God's grace is abundant and His mercy is overwhelming. His love is inexplicable and His power is great. The fact that He took the nails, saved us from our sins, and promised to take us into glory - that's enough. 

God, let us know that You hear us. Let us feel your touch. Let us know that You love us. Let that be enough. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our Growing Family!

In John 15:11, Jesus is speaking to His disciples telling them “these things I have spoken to you, so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.”  My joy sure is full these days.

Last Saturday, Sheila and I had the privilege to give our daughter Lauren to become the wife of Zach Dickson.  We had given our daughter Lindsey in marriage just last August to Jordan Limerick.  I was thinking there should be some kind of moratorium on weddings so that they could be at least two years apart.  But here we were again, eleven months later giving another daughter away.

Jesus was getting ready to leave His disciples to go and die for them.  He was getting ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice by laying down His life for them.  That sacrifice is what makes verse 11 so meaningful to me.  When anyone turns from their sin and trusts in the saving work of Christ on the cross, they enter into an amazing relationship full of joy.  Joy fills our lives and makes us full.  I can tell you today, I have never been so full of the joy that comes from Him.  He is so good and so worth it.

Our family has grown with the addition of Zack and his family.  We welcome all of them into our family just as we have Jordan and his family.  I think Christ gets great joy as His family grows!  Today, abide in Him and let His words abide in you and you will bear fruit.  That fruit may very well be the fruit of people coming into the family of God!

I love you,

Todd Alewine
Lead Pastor, BCC

Friday, July 6, 2012

God Requires So Much More Than Just Church Attendance

A statistic I heard the other day made me stop and think. Out of the 65% of middle aged Americans who say they are Christians only 3% actually live according to the teachings of Christ. That is alarming to me. What has happened that has caused the other 62% to think they are disciples of Jesus if they don’t actually follow Him? I began to think about how they might define their requirements for being a Christian and a familiar verse in Micah came to mind.

“He has told you O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

God is clear about what He requires from His people. In the book of Micah, God confronts Israel about their relationship with Him. In verse 6:8 He gives them the right answer to the question asked in verse 6:6 “with what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high?” In other words what does God require for me to please Him? The answer is that God wants our whole heart and will not be satisfied with anything less.

Israel had been going through the motions. They thought they were fulfilling their religious duty to God and were “ok” since they gave their sacrifices and offerings but in reality they had been missing it altogether.  God through the profit Micah reminded them that their token sacrifices were not enough and that He had made it clear to them already in the past that He required their whole hearted love and obedience. God wants His people to do justice, to love kindness, and to humbly walk with Him in unbroken fellowship. He wants them to really love Him and love others from their heart.

Later on in Israel’s history they are confronted again by Jesus on the same issue. As Jesus watched the Pharisees (religious leaders of the day) He let them know that God was not satisfied with their mere religious activity. He even compared them to white washed tombs that are pretty on the outside but filthy inside. Although they gave extravagant gifts to God in the form of expensive tithes and offerings (in public) they had neglected the more important matters of the law. Jesus was pointing out that the justice, mercy, and faithfulness which God requires were missing from their lives altogether.

It is so easy today to fall into the same trap of thinking that we are “ok” if we are giving God what we think He wants. Things like attending church, giving tithes, reading the bible, and even sharing our faith can become mere religious activity if we are not careful. Don’t misunderstand me here. These are all good things that real Christ followers should do but if they become what we are trusting in to please God then we have missed it and might be in that 62% that think they are “ok”. If our lives are devoid of real holiness, real love for others, and real faithfulness to God then we need to check up. The way we do that is by turning to the Gospel and rekindling our relationship with God there at the foot of His Cross.

Thankfully God knew we could never meet His requirements on our own. The Gospel is the good news that what God requires He also has provided in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus has opened the way for us to truly do justice, love kindness, and humbly walk with the God of the universe as our God. Jesus calls us to repent from sin, leave everything of the world behind and come follow Him as His disciple. When we accept His invitation by faith He comes into our heart and makes His home there. Our heart is renewed to really love God and love others. As we walk with Him in this new life His Spirit begins to produce the real righteousness that God requires in us from the inside out.  

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so nether can you unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

Apart from a real, abiding, humble walk with God through faith in Jesus we cannot meet God’s requirements. We might look good on the outside but inside we will always be full of sin if we try to come to God any other way. God requires so much more than just church attendance because He loves us so much more than we realize. He wants us to have life and have it abundantly. That life is only found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s why he sent Jesus. It’s why Jesus sent His church. We go make disciples because we love God and want everyone to share the same abiding, life giving, soul satisfying, and abundantly rich relationship with God that we have through Jesus with us.

Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God. What an amazing life God is offering us in Christ. Don’t ever settle for anything less.

Thankfully in Grace
Shannon Compton
BCC Life Groups Pastor