Saturday, March 21, 2015

Growing in Grace

2_peter_3_18--white-800x800It is rapidly approaching the fourth anniversary of the official launch of Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship!  Looking back, I can honestly say that it has been an exciting journey, not without its challenges, but the blessings have far outweighed the burdens.

I can still remember the raw emotions that drove me in those early days – sorrow and anger over the destruction the devil had inflicted upon the church I had served for eighteen years in such a short time, and unbridled joy and exhilaration over the “new thing” that the Lord was doing in our midst even as we sat among the ashes.  For those first few months, NOTHING could go wrong.

However, as is the norm in any other aspect of life, once the initial honeymoon phase wore off, we soon discovered that there was so much more to leading and serving a new church body.  People, after all, are imperfect and broken at best, and even the best of intentions can sometimes cause misunderstandings and offense.  Some came and left, wanting something different than the “same old, same old.”  Some were upset because we weren’t enough like our former church; others accused us of trying too hard to recreate our former church. 

In came those who had been previously damaged by churches; in also came those who had never been to church before.  In came families in crisis, crumbling marriages, people dealing with serious and chronic health conditions, people dealing with significant loss and loneliness, and so much more.

It wasn’t always pretty, and it certainly wasn’t always easy.  But it was exactly what the Lord had called us to.  Time and again, we had opportunities to live out our stated purpose – “loving God, loving others.”  It wouldn’t matter how dynamic the worship was, how powerful or relevant the sermon was, how delicious the fellowship meal was, if authentic love for our fellow man was not at the core of everything we set ourselves to do, it would be all for naught.

2 Peter 3:18 exhorts us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is never a one-time destination to be reached, but an ongoing spiritual evolution.  We are bound to make mistakes from time to time, but we are not *bound* to them. 

You may have fallen.  You may have drifted.  You may have forsaken your first love for Jesus Christ.

Grace says, “Get back up.  Keep moving forward.  Follow Me.”

This Easter season, I would like to invite you to remember the first love you had for Jesus, and to realize that love that He has for you is just as strong as it ever was.   No matter where you and I are in your spiritual journey, He is always there calling us inward and onward, higher and deeper, ever intimately closer.

If you don’t already have a church family, please consider visiting us at Acres of Hope Christian Fellowship on Easter Sunday, April 5th, 2015, at 11 AM as we celebrate this most blessed of days!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Light - Making Something Out of Nothing

This is actually an old article, but once again, it provides compelling support to the Bible.

It begins:
"A team of 20 physicists from four institutions has literally made something from nothing, creating particles of matter from ordinary light for the first time. The experiment was carried out at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) by scientists and students from the University of Rochester, Princeton University, the University of Tennessee, and Stanford. The team reported the work in the Sept. 1 issue of Physical Review Letters."
Additionally, it states:
"In this experiment scientists observed for the first time the creation of particles from real photons, packets of light that scientists can observe directly in the laboratory."
Upon reading this, four specific Bible passages came to mind:

  1. "God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:3)
  2. "By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen." (Hebrews 11:3)
  3. "In the beginning the Word already existed.  The Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He existed in the beginning with God.  God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.  The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." (John 1:1-5)
  4. "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.  Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together." (Colossians 1:15-17)

Some claim that science and faith are mutually exclusive.  The truth is that science is simply the process of seeking to understand and explain the mechanics of faith.

As Christians, we are not to operate with a blind faith, but to make use of the wonderful minds that God has gifted us with.  The more you seek, the more you will find, and the more you find, the more awed you will be at the beauty and majesty of creation and the Creator.

Let His light shine!

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe