Friday, October 28, 2011

October 28

   19 Lord, you are my strength and fortress,
      my refuge in the day of trouble!
   Nations from around the world
      will come to you and say,
   “Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
      for they worshiped worthless idols.
   20 Can people make their own gods?
      These are not real gods at all!”

   21 The Lord says,
   “Now I will show them my power;
      now I will show them my might.
   At last they will know and understand
      that I am the Lord.

Jeremiah 16:19-21

God, we want to see your power, we want to see your might, we want to know and are The Lord!

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October 26

I grew up in a rural community just east of Richmond, VA in a town called Varina. If you wanted to go anywhere for shopping, entertainment...anywhere, count on a 30 to 45 minute drive. Everyone's mailing address is still Richmond because Varina is too small for a post office. However, in the mid 1980's, interstate 295 was built creating access to neighboring cities and towns at half the travel time...progress! I can remember traveling from Varina to the 295/95 interchange on Sunday evenings on my way back to college and only see a handful of other cars traveling in either direction! But now, these new paths are filled and the former ways much less traveled.

Here is Jeremiah 6:16 from yesterday's reading...

   This is what the LORD says:
   “Stand at the crossroads and look;
   ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
   and you will find rest for your souls.
   But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’...

Unlike modern transportation, there is no innovation for journeying into the depths of eternal life! There are ancient paths that have always been the way to a life lived to the fullest possible measure. God's loving grace is the only path to the forever of eternal life, but our walking on the ancient paths in the here and now are the only way to the fullness of eternal life this side of heaven. There are no short-cuts, there are no innovations, there is no evolution with journeying in the realm of our spiritual life.

So, are you on these paths? Bible, prayer, fasting, worship, accountability, reaching, gathering, relationships, stewardship, generosity, service, and rest are the ancient!

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 19

2 “Enlarge your house; build an addition.
Spread out your home, and spare no expense!
3 For you will soon be bursting at the seams.
Your descendants will occupy other nations
and resettle the ruined cities."

This is from Isaiah 54...and I believe is a message from God to us, The City Life Church, as we are working with North Riverside Baptist Church near the campus of CNU to be our first permanent home as a church here in Newport News and also with the launch of City Life Williamsburg at 222 Monticello Avenue, formerly Grace Fellowship. God is affirming our efforts to firmly establish a base of operations for each campus, places where we can gather to grow and disperse to deliver!

We do not want to be bursting at the seams for the sake of number but so that we can fulfill a divine purpose, telling our world the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Pastor Fred

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18

11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.

We find these challenging words in 2 Thessalonians chapter one...reminding us that there is work God expects from us, born out of the grace He so freely gives! I am convinced that a message of grace that does not come with a call to change is not grace at all. If my faith is not prompting me in any way, as Paul commands in the 11th verse, then I should feel compelled to do some soul searching. If Christ is within me, then all my days should be overflowing with faith compelling moments born out of His living presence within!

Excited already for this weekend...taking on David Platt's second chapter of Radical Together, "...the gospel that save us from work saves us to work..." What a tremendous book, I know that our church is going to be the radical community of faith that the Jesus within us demands!

Pastor Fred

Thursday, October 13, 2011

September 13

In today's reading we find these words by the Apostle Paul written to the church of the Thessalonians, "wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it..."

This begs a poignant question of us. Would this be the case if the people we are among everyday were asked about us? What would their response be if asked about our values, our conduct, our integrity, our compassion, our words, our interests, our allegiances...if they were told we were Christians, would they be surprised?

In Isaiah 41 to 42, he prophesies against idols, lifeless, man-made objects that become the recipients of our worship, the source of strength, the audience of our prayers. This idea of idolatry is difficult for us to relate to in our culture because most people we meet do not have carved images in their homes that are presented as being sacred religious icons. However, I would humbly suggest that idolatry is just as pervasive in America as it was in Israel during Isaiah's ministry. Idolatry is anything that has a displacing effect on the adoration, attention, and allegiance that God alone deserves.

So when those around us most are interviewed for the purpose of identifying what we are about, our reputation, would their answers reveal an idolater or someone who has a passion filled, life defining, moment by moment governing relationship with God?

Pastor Fred

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

October 5

We began a new series last weekend entitled "Radical" which is based on the book by David Platt "Radical Together." Our first message was "The Radical Vow." Jesus' message was nothing short of radical, a message, a gospel, good news that demands from us a vow of devotion that is equally nothing short of radical.

Our reading today in Philippians reminds us of this radical vow. I believe that a radical vow of devotion to Jesus is comprised of three parts, each component being related to a monumental moment of Jesus' life: His death, His resurrection, and His imminent return.

His death demands of us a prayer, radical forgiveness. Some of the most beautiful words in Scripture are atonement, redemption, justification, and propitiation, all speaking to Jesus' substitutionary death on our behalf. Romans 6:23 declares that death is what we deserve for denying God's divine right to rule over our lives but that we can be forgiven because Jesus died for us, so that we could receive the gift of eternal life, when eternal death was deserved. Have you prayed this prayer? Have you asked God to forgive you? His forgiveness is not effectual for you personally until you accept His grace. Think of everything that you have done in your life, and not done, that saddens God's heart. Is there genuine remorse in your heart? If there is, there is genuine forgiveness He longs to give you! "God, I'm sorry, will you forgive me of my past, for all that I have done and not done that has disappointed You and shamed me?" His answer is always a resounding YES!

His death demands of us a promise, radical devotion. When Jesus raised Himself from the dead, that moment was His declaration to the world that He has the power to fulfill every promise He has made to us. Have you ever over-committed yourself? Have you ever been disappointed by someone who couldn't deliver what they assured you they could do? Jesus cannot relate to that! His power has NO limits, no bounds. A radical vow of devotion to Jesus begins with a prayer but it must continue with a promise, a promise to give Jesus complete and total control of our lives. There is a moment of allegiance that is required. There is a moment of surrender that is expected. Mark 8:34-35 could not be more clear. We must be fully committed. The metaphor so often used in Scripture is that we are the bride of Christ. No bride or groom enjoys the sacredness of marriage without first forsaking all else for one another. Have you forsaken all for Him? "Jesus, my life belongs to You. Wherever You lead me, I will follow. I want You to be the dominant voice in my life. What You believe, how You would repond, what You value...I want You to rule over me!"

His imminent return demands of us a pursuit, radical living. What will Jesus find you doing when He returns? In the first chapter of Philippians, The Apostle Paul mentions Jesus' return frequently. Why? Because Paul understands that looking for Jesus' return is a vital part of the radical vow of devotion that many of the readers of his letter have made. If I have said The Prayer and if I have made The Promise, then I MUST be living radically for The Pursuit! If nothing of my life has changed in light of my Prayer and my Promise, then have I really become part of God's divine family? While The Promise is all about intent, The Pursuit is all about action! Verse 10 says " pure and blameless lives..." Verse 11 says "...the fruit of our salvation--righteous character..." Verse 27 says " as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Godd News..." What life are you living in light of The Prayer, in light of The Promise? "God, I want to become the person that You created me to be, to do everything that You created me to do! Help me die to who I used to be and live for You. I don't want to just be a believer but a follower!"

Are you radical?

Pastor Fred