Kingdom Culture!

Hello Emmanuel!

I hope that you are finding your week going well. This past week we challenged the concept of Eternity being simply a thing of the future, with the (Biblical) idea that it is already/not yet.  The KINGDOM of God is both here now and is being realized with each new soul that comes to Jesus for salvation.  

We considered the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints, explaining that those that are in the hands of Jesus are eternally secure.  When looking at it from Jesus’ perspective, it becomes ludicrous to believe that anything can prevent Him from keeping that which He has redeemed! We are in His hand. There is no power on heaven or earth or under the earth that can loosen His grip! I hope that you will ponder on this amazing grace and what it means for you. You are… you are His child, you are his citizen, you are under His protection… you are. You are. As a child of GOD eternity is NOW. Yes, we must wait for our flesh and blood to be redeemed as our soul and spirit are, but truly our new life has already begun.  

I hope you will be joining me this Sunday as we face the challenge of being the Kingdom Culture now. The message on Sunday is the culmination of the last five and half years of ministry together. From Red Letter Christians to Learning and Living the Life of Jesus, it’s time to act and move away from the past and embrace the NOW. I’m really looking forward to bringing this message on Sunday!

Bless God ∙ Bless Others ∙ Be the Blessing! 


Kingdom Now!

Kingdom Now.

This week we began a brand new series on the Kingdom of Heaven; how to become a part of it, and what it means to be a part of it. The message was intentionally evangelistic in nature, bringing the death, burial, and resurrection front and center as the only means of becoming a part of this eternal kingdom. As we move forward with this series, I would like to share with you the intent of the whole. The overarching point of the series is that we become more like citizens of our Heavenly country embracing its values and culture, than we are at home on earth. The reason we need to start with the certainty of our salvation is because without the living Spirit within, this Kingdom Culture, this Kingdom of Heaven is not only impossible, undoable, it’s also unreachable. Plan on attending each week as we seek to become mature disciples of Christ. 

Sunday evening we partook of the Lord’s Supper together. I hope that it was a special time of reflection as well as a reaffirmation of our personal faith in Jesus; an abandonment of self and embracing of our Savior. One of the most beautiful things in taking of the Lord’s Supper is that is not only an affirmation of our faith in Christ, but in His love and acceptance of us! In order to be the bread of heaven, He had to decide to come for us. To be for us. To die for us. It’s overwhelming to consider, that the God of heaven, would come for me. He is willing to take me to himself a son. To make me something that all of my resolutions and effort and energy never could. Thank you Lord for this unspeakable gift!



Worship with Your Living

Worship.  Is worship more than a song and singing?

A few weeks ago we observed Jacob’s act of worship through his vow to give back to God the tenth of all that God would bless him with. This was first-fruits giving as later described in the book of Proverbs. To unpack this idea and example from Jacob’s life, we need to understand what he was really getting at. What Jacob taught us in this bold vow to the Lord (which came before the command to give or to tithe) was that he understood where his goods and living were to come from. As believers, we should come to the place where our understanding of eternity deepens. Eternity begins NOW. We are a part of the Kindgom NOW. In Jacob’s life, he expressed the belief that God was going to bless him and so vowed to bless God back; to worship God by giving back to God the tenth off the top, just as God prospered him.

The last sermon in The Gift of God series was wrapped around the reality that God’s greatest gift was Jesus, and through Him we are the second greatest gift to the world. What does being that gift look like? It looks a lot like generosity. Giving of ourselves to the Lord and then to one another.  The really great thing about this, is that when we are giving ourselves to the Lord in worship through giving of our living, we are not only being used to advance His kingdom, we are actively being a part of it. Consider this. When we give to and through our local church, we are expressing love for the local body of Christ in a tangible way. In a way that promotes sound Bible teaching and missions, that provides the means to meet together in a visible place, a place that the world can easily recognize and find. When we cooperate with one another in our giving through and to our local church we declare with our faith that this is the body which Christ has knit me into and I love my church!

This is the importance of giving. It expresses worship and advances the Kingdom of God. I would like to challenge you to worship the Lord with your first-fruits. Whether you are ready to give ten percent or one percent, make it the first percent, and prioritize God in your financial life. Be the blessing to the Lord and to others by worshipping him with your life and supporting His church and her mission.



Being the Gift of God

Hello Emmanuel!

I’d like to share a burden with you. My burden is for a revival. A personal, life changing, revival for me and you. Would you join me in praying for this? We need the heart of God to beat in our chests.

 
This past Sunday we entered week 2 of “The Gift of God”. As I was preaching I was so convicted with the idea of being the second greatest gift of God to the world and what that means. I have been considering the Macedonian Believers that we read about during this week’s service. As I mentioned Sunday morning; could you imagine if we all lived like Macedonians? They gave themselves to the Lord first. I wondered then as I do now, what would it look like if we at Emmanuel developed that same heart for God that these believers had. I don’t think that this is something that happens overnight. It is a shifting of our worldview and a tackling of our complacency; it takes time and effort to shed ourselves of ourselves. This is not better illustrated anywhere than in Colossians chapter 3 where we are told to set our affections on things above and to mortify the deeds of the flesh. The Macedonian believers gave themselves to the Lord FIRST and then to others… they set their sights on God and then because of that the naturally or supernaturally turned toward OTHERS.
 
What does it look like to give yourself to God? What our lives would be like? How would our community be impacted? It all starts with a heart for God Himself. How would you begin to give yourself to the Lord and then to others? What are some practical steps that you would take? What would you change today if you could change just one thing to bring you closer to the Lord? What would it look like if we gave ourselves to others? I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on what these things would look like.

Bless God ∙ Bless Others ∙ Be the Blessing!

Pastor Davis



Do You Hear the Knocking?

Hi there Emmanuel,
 
Revelation 3:20–21 (NKJV)

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

I’d like to ask all of us to pray for a moving of the Spirit in our church. God has been working in hearts for a while now, it’s time to let Him in… In the passage above God speaks of the door TO THE CHURCH being closed and locked… It pictures Jesus standing at the door knocking. Imagine that. The church door locked to the Lord Himself. We are the church my friends, we make up this assembly. 
 
I think that our problem is that we are often afraid of letting Him in, of facing the changes He may bring, or of the things He might find. That’s what GRACE is for. You see my friends, GRACE is HOPE and STRENGTH to face our greatest weaknesses and fears and shame. It’s the GRACE of GOD that leads us to repentance, because it brings HOPE from God that it isn’t too late, that whatever HE finds in your heart/home, no matter how shameful it may feel to you, well HE knew about it anyway. However, it’s only when you and I open up and let Him in, that the abundant and abiding life really begins. If you haven’t been out on Wednesday evenings in a while, allow me to encourage you to come on out. We have studied through the book of Galatians and have discovered together an amazing truth. One that is as old as our realtionship with Christ… that is we have life through the Spirit… now walk in the Spirit… let Him direct and guide yourlife along with His Word. Live the life you have been given, be the child of promise that YOU ALREADY ARE.
 

Bless God • Bless Others • Be the Blessing!

Pastor Eric P Davis



Open Letter to the Church

Dear Church Family,

I first want to praise the Lord for the leadership that he has blessed this church with. In my absence they have visited the sick, comforted the grieving and counselled those that were struggling. We have baptized 6 people and are ready to take another family into our membership very soon. I knew when I took this church that it belonged to Jesus and that He would care for you. I was privileged to be allowed and called to pastor you under His guidance. I have never struggled as much as I have in the last month and a half. I am thankful for the guys seeing this and insisting on taking a break. I cannot thank you enough for loving me and my family enough to allow us this time to heal and find God’s plan.

On the Kierstin side of things, we are seeking the Lords guidance as we make life changing decisions for both her and us. At the moment we have decided to place her in residential services, where she will live on her own with 24 hour in home supports.  She is very excited about this and is already making plans. As you may know, Kierstin is both physically and intellectually disabled, lately paired with emotional instability, and so this is an enormously difficult decision that we have made.  We keenly feel the support from our church and we thank you for it. We don’t and we can’t know how all of this will turn out. There are many unknowns at this time. We don’t know when everything will be in place for Kierstin, budget requirements, her van, the staffing etc… are all up in the air. So please pray for all of us, for wisdom, for the emotional strain and for faith to endure it.

As a family we are coming along and I have even begun to prepare my next series… hoping that it will bless you and the Lord when I preach it. Its working title is “Dealing with Doubts”.  I plan on taking a hard look at the reality of walking with Jesus in a world that is broken, with lives that have been so broken. As for when we will be back and active in the ministry of Emmanuel, the best we have is sometime in February. As I mentioned above, you have an amazing group of men and women serving in my absence. I believe that the Lord has planned for this occasion and has not left you alone, but has instead raised up the leadership and has prepared our church for greater growth and greater ministry. This church cannot rely on one man to be successful. She must learn to rely on the one and only God-Man Jesus Christ.

Bless God, bless others, be the blessing,

Eric Davis



Vision?

I’ve been thinking about vision lately.  Maybe it’s because our year end is rapidly approaching, maybe it’s because God is impressing me with the need to give some direction to His people in His church.  As I have been thinking and praying on these things, I can’t help but consider some of the thoughts that I have heard and some of the stories as well.  Stories of a pastor getting up in front of his congregation and laying out this bodacious plan for the future, so BIG that only God could do it.  Then I think of how many times we are challenged to do the same in our congregations.  How we judge one another by the vision that we all set forth and how this supposedly reflects on our faith in an awesome God.  But maybe it should be written like this OUR AWESOME FAITH in our God.  Which is it?  Our awesome faith or our simple obedience to an AWESOME GOD?  I have come to the conclusion that there are some really amazing Godless churches out there;  that if you were to use that dream something so BIG that only God could do it, you would have to assume that God has stamped His approval on these “churches”.  The nation of Islam comes to mind.  Scientology comes to mind.  Disney Land comes to mind…

So then what should we be telling our young bright eyed pastors or seminary students?  Don’t have vision?  Don’t have dreams and goals and ideas?  I don’t think that’s the answer either.  I think that the answer lies somewhere between the two.  Get with God.  Don’t worry about whether He says do something so small people will have to listen and look to see it, or do something so big they can’t help but wonder.  However the ultimate vision that our churches need is the Word of God and more of it.  Preachers love to quote Proverbs concerning vision.  ”Where there is no vision the people perish”.  In my study of that Scripture, I have found that the vision that the author is writing about is the Word of GOD. Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish: But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”  The context gives it away if the word study doesn’t.

I recently heard a pastor say something along the lines of Jesus is all about resurrecting dead things.  He said bring your dead things to Jesus.  Relationships, finances, jobs etc… this was popcorn Christianity, a thin veneer of what being a Christian is, relegating God to a Santa Clause.  When we promise things that God has not, we set Christianity up to look no different that the rest of the bull out there.  Sometimes it is God’s will, and even His calling, for us to suffer.  Don’t believe it?  Read the account of Paul’s life,or look closer to home at some suffering faithful and faithfilled saints.  Sometimes God isn’t about impressing anyone with anything; He is found in the small things.  So preacher, when you are considering direction or vision, resist the urge to force something God hasn’t led you to, resist the urge to impress, rest in the Lord’s direction and leading.  If God is in it, it will come to pass, just keep moving on one step at a time. That said, what should we do?  Well I do believe that God gives direction to His pastors for His churches.  We should seek His and not our own, we should be satisfied with what He says to us and we should always remember that it is HIS church and not OUR church.  Lastly we should always anchor the vision in the Word of God.  We should be careful to take our directions from the Vision that He has left us in His Word.

To sum it up in a simple statement, let God lead.  That’s it, just let God lead.  We aren’t a business, we are a body, His body.  Let God lead.



Right or Responsibility

Just a thought on the hot debate over women’s rights.  I am all for them, specifically the unborn female children in the wombs of the women that have participated in the act of creation.

When does our right remove our responsibility from the equation? Why does the unborn woman not have the right to live? She didn’t ask to be created in the womb, but she has been, and deserves to have her rights championed by those with voices.

I understand the pressures that society brings to bear on women these days, and that we all make mistakes, but is a child truly the mistake?  All three of my children were unplanned.  After my first child, who has moderate to severe Cerebral Palsy, Trisha and I decided to stick with her; and not to spread our attention and finances out over other children.

It all comes down to what value has a life? When is it okay to take it?  Is it ever okay to take it? If you go by life begins at a detectable heartbeat, then that would be as early as 5 weeks. Abortion after 5 weeks stops a beating heart.  Of course there is God’s point of view as well…

Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)

5Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;

Before you were born I sanctified you…

As far as what quality of life will that child have if brought into the world without married parents, a certain amount of wealth etc… I am reminded of the amazing good that Kierstin has brought into this world.  However if you listen to the extreme proponents of abortion rights you find the following…

In the book Practical Ethics, author Peter Singer argues the case for selective infanticide. “At present parents can choose to keep or destroy their disabled offspring only if the disability happens to be detected during pregnancy. There is no logical basis for restricting parents’ choice to these particular disabilities. If disabled newborn infants were not regarded as having a right to life until, say, a week or a month after birth it would allow parents, in consultation with their doctors, to choose on the basis of far greater knowledge of the infant’s condition than is possible before birth.”

What kind of quality of life does Kierstin have? Well, her life is so much more than what she gets out of it, she has given more than the world could ever give back.   As far as my personal situation, God had other plans and 10 years later Chloe was conceived. She was a puzzle piece that we hadn’t even realized that we were missing.  Then about 5 years later came Nate the Great the son of my old age.  I wouldn’t trade these ‘mistakes’ for the world. The mistake in unwanted pregnancies is not the creation of the innocent child in the womb, it was the mistake of the act of creating them.  When this occurs, responsibility trumps ‘rights’.

In my discussion with a young lady that was concerned about her rights she pointed out that when you find yourself alone in this predicament (of an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy), things that used to be black and white become grey and that no one else should be able to make this decision for her. Unfortunately, there is more than one person in the predicament, there are three. In particular, there is one without a voice… The unborn. The laws of the land ought to protect the weakest among us. The real question is who’s body has more rights? The woman that chose to participate in the act to create life has more responsibility than right. The child, innocent in the womb ought to have the right to live.  

This same young lady agreed that abortion should not be used as a contraceptive and yet chose to argue through the merit of simply making a mistake and having an accident.  What is that if not contraception?  Check out these stats…

WHY ARE ABORTIONS PERFORMED?

  • On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 3/4 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (AGI).
  • Only 12% of women included a physical problem with their health among reasons for having an abortion (NAF).
  • One per cent (of aborting women) reported that they were the survivors of rape (NAF).

Having now known a number of women that have been the willing victims of abortion,  I have so much more compassion than ever before. The Lord has a pardon waiting for every sin, every mistake a human being could possibly make (with one notable exception).  Whether she was told, it’s just a glob of tissue or whether she went into the abortion willingly knowing that glob of tissue was a living soul, Jesus death, burial and resurrection can secure forgiveness and deliverance for anyone willing to come.  Our problem in regards to any sin, be it abortion or divorce or drinking or homosexuality is that many of us refuse to look at it for what it is and therefore can never really be free from the condemnation of what we have done.  My dear friends, accept responsibility for what you have done, come to Jesus and live!

As a disclaimer, I will concede abortion for rape, and incest, as these women weren’t willing participants in the creation of the life within their wombs, but I do applaud and I am humbled by the women that carry the child to term .  I must also concede those rare occasions where the life of the mother is at clear and present risk.  This position is one held by perhaps the majority of the nation, it isn’t extreme in the least and yet, it is being painted as such.  I really hope that perhaps the Lord would use this post to encourage those that have been through the horror of abortion, and for those that haven’t perhaps you will think twice.  Then there is the time coming in a few short weeks where all must vote our conscience.  I vote life.  I hope that you will too.  Vote women’s rights if you must, but at least consider all of the UNBORN women’s rights that have no voice and maybe, just maybe be their voice.

God bless.



Someone Else III

I have a few more thoughts on someone else that I  thought I should share with whomever may be reading.  In my last post I mentioned being a blessing to someone else in your church.  That church shouldn’t be all about what you receive but also what you give.

That said there is someone else that needs, desperately needs your attention.  He or she isn’t in your church, meeting under your steeple.  He is someone else.  He or she is  the waitress at the restaurant, the co-worker or classmate.  Someone else needs you because they need HIM.  Like it or not, folks, if you name Jesus as your savior, you are responsible to Him to witness of Him to someone else.  Someone else may be your enemy or they may be your friend; that you are afraid will ditch you if you tell them about Jesus.  Someone else may be someone that is at the end of their rope and they are barely hanging on.  Someone else is divorced, is a single parent, has never been to church or was hurt by a church, someone else is addicted to drugs alcohol or sex.  Someone else is harsh and hard, or soft and kind.  Someone else without Christ is someone else that will spend eternity in hell.  I’ve never read “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybles, but the phrase seems to be just about right to me.  There is someone else that needs Jesus and Jesus has given us the charge to be as He is in this world, so as the Spirit leads, we should just walk across the room and speak of Jesus to someone else.  Oh yeah and when you have done this for a while and you have seen people come to Christ and follow Him… don’t ever stop.

This leads me to one last thing, it really is someone else that this is all about.  It’s all about HIM.  It isn’t about me being a successful pastor or even a successful Christian, it’s about Jesus.  He directs, and empowers and brings circumstances about to challenge us to lean into HIM.  Our church is about Jesus.  Evangelism is about Jesus.  Caring for someone else does two things, it displays Jesus to those looking on or being cared for and as Christ said; when you care for one of the least of the these… you care for Him.  For all of us that find that first step of witnessing of Jesus difficult; remember this, you have someone else in you that will do it through you.  It might be time to read up on the “fear nots” of Jesus.

We live in a what about me culture.  We live in a consumer culture.  What if we all started to think of someone else.  What if we invited THE someone else to LIVE and LOVE through US?  In studying Colossians it seems to me that Jesus is just waiting for us to let Him in and He will change you and then… you will look like someone else:-)



Someone Else II

Been thinking that the last post was just the beginning.  We have many in churches that are focused on themselves and not on someone else.  Today I was speaking with someone else about ministry and relationships and in our conversation I was reminded of my time as a teen in our church. I had been in teens for almost 2 years, Trisha had moved on from our Youth Group and I was bored.  I didn’t like the way the group was being run and being all of 17 or so, I knew better how  to run it.  That was when Ken Bournival my future father-in-law made an observation that maybe I shouldn’t be going to Youth Group for what I could get out of it but for what I could give into it.  I then began to look at my teen leader in a different light.  I saw a man and his wife that were sacrificing their time every Saturday to minister to a bunch of cranky and crabby teenagers.  I determined that night that this ministry would no longer be about me; it would be about someone else.  Even though Rick was my leader, and I was his responsibility, I determined through God’s help that I would be a blessing to him and that when he looked back on his time with me he would have no regrets.

Churches today (even in my church:-0) have developed a me first and consumer mentality.  There are business models for churches and management models for churches and programs for churches and you name it for churches that leave out the fact that we are here for someone else.  A church isn’t a business.  It has business aspects, but it isn’t a business.  Church isn’t the military.  It has aspects of the military, we are a war against the devil and his agenda, but we aren’t the military.  A church is a sheepfold.  A church is a body.  A church is a family.  If you are a Christian, you should be a part of a local church.  You can toss your excuse as to why you aren’t, God established the local church for you and for His glory.  Usually when I have spoken with a person out of church they blame someone else.  The pastor changed the dress standard, the children’s ministry isn’t being run effectively or someone else hurt their feelings.

It’s time for church to be about someone else.  It’s time to look out at the congregation and ministry that God has called you to, and be a blessing to someone else.  Find that frazzled leader and be a blessing to him.  When I determined to bless Rick, I didn’t ask his permission, I didn’t even tell him I was doing anything (I might have been afraid of his mustache at that point) I just did things to ease his burden for.  I showed up, was friendly to new kids, helped clean up and set up and above all I tried to follow Jesus.  Jesus said that we should do the things that he said.  The fact is that we need to be here to bless someone else and that we ought to bear someone else’s burdens, that we that are spiritual ought to restore those that have fallen in meekness and care and gentleness (not seeing a lot of that these days in churches).

So how about it?  Is church and ministry about you?  Or just maybe, is it about someone else?