January 2002

1 January 2002

January, 2002 From the pastor Greetings in the name or our Lord Jesus Christ. Since the time of our last newsletter we have had some wonderful services at Harmony Church. We have been blessed, not only with faithful attendance by our membership, but also with many visitors over the last few months. We are thankful for the many new faces that God has sent our way and we hope we will minister to their needs by both word and deed. I am thankful for the love that is manifested at our church. Surely, it is a reflection of Christ. I personally encourage each member to pray for one another. What is happening at donaldson Over the past few Sundays, we have been studying subjects that have to do with a "Balanced Church". If you missed any of these messages, I hope you will obtain a copy and listen to it. As a new year's resolution I encouraged the church to focus in on the purposes of a New Testament Church as we try to fulfill those purposes in the year to come. I personally believe that the reason many churches cease to exist is because they become unbalanced by focusing only upon one purpose of the church. Though one of the greatest blessings of the church is knowledge, knowing that guilty sinners are saved by God's amazing grace, there are additional blessings and benefits to be enjoyed. One of those is the benefit of ministering to and being ministered by people who love us for Christ's sake. Knowing doctrine is the foundation for our ministering to one another and those around us. Thus, he encouraged the brethren to use their knowledge to evangelize, to baptize new members into fellowship, to worship, to minister to others and to grow in grace. A balance of these principles will make a healthy church. Our first message was entitled "Spiritual Maturity". Maturity is what every pastor hopes to see in his congregation. Spiritual maturity means to become more like Christ in our thoughts, feelings and actions. Paul wanted the Ephesians to, "grow up into Christ"(Eph 4:15). As every parent desires to see their children grow up and mature, so the pastor the church. I gave the church an example of different levels of spiritual maturity as follows: Unchurched = The Community Casual Attendee = The Crowd Regular Attendee = The Congregation Baptized Member = The Church Devoted Member = Discipleship Devoted Ministering Member= Martyr for Christ. When we become devoted ministering members we have grown up in God's house and become mature Christians. Someone might say, "I thought a martyr was a person that died for something." Spiritually, when we become ministering members we have died to self and it is then we live for Christ by ministering to others. We might all remember the time we were among the unchurched. I gave the church the famous words of John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, ask what you can do for your country". I asked them to substitute the word "country" with "church" and with "Jesus". By doing that, we see the mindset of Christian maturity. Can you remember the last time you ministered to someone in your congregation? Some might ask, "What is ministry anyway." The word ministry scares some people. They think it means to pack up their bags and move to a jungle and give their entire life in some foreign field. Actually, the word ministry is a word that brings comfort when understood and applied. In most places it is translated from the same word we get our word "deacon". It means to serve. It means doing something, anything for another person expecting nothing in return. Consider the good Samaritan. He did not know as much about the scriptures as the priest and the Levite. Yet, Jesus commended him because he showed mercy to his neighbor by ministering to his needs. Ministry is as simple as bringing a cup of coffee to your loved one or leaving a note of "I love you" when you leave for work. The husband ministers to his family by bringing in the bread and the wife ministers to the whole family by seeing to their needs. This is Christ honoring and it brings joy. Any way that we might help another person physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually is ministry. Here are a few examples: PHYSICALLY: Acts 28:8; Acts 5:15; Acts 3:6; Mat. 9:3. EMOTIONALLY: John 8:11; John 11:3; John 20:16; Luke 8:52 FINANCIALLY: Romans 15:27; I Cor. 9:1-14; II Cor. 8:1-7; II Cor 9:1-14; II Cor 11:8. SPIRITUALLY: Mat. 4:23; 9:35; Acts 2:40,41; 8:4; 16:14;II Cor 10:14. When Jesus spoke to people, He spoke to them on the basis of their maturity level. To the community, He said, "come and see". To the disciples, he encouraged to take up their cross and "follow me." There are at least four ways to measure spiritual maturity. Can you name them? The answer will be at the end of this newsletter. I believe the greatest level of spiritual maturity is found in ministering to others. When I think of Jesus, that is what I see most in Him. Even His death on the cross was a part of His ministering to others. As you might guess, our second message was on the subject of "Ministering to Others". This is as much a part of being a member of the church of Jesus Christ as knowing the doctrine. When Jesus spoke of those on His right hand that were blessed to "inherit the kingdom", he did not identify them as a people who knew something. He identified them as ministering servants, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me"-Matthew 25:35,36. Jesus knew that our nature might be somewhat judgmental concerning people who have needs. We might say, "that person deserves it. They are reaping what they have sown." Yet, Jesus praised the actions of the good Samaritan who ministered to a person going the wrong way. He was going down and away from the church. Thus, Jesus puts our ministry on a personal level. When we minister to others we are ministering personally to Jesus, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me"-Matthew 225:40. What an encouragement it is when we realize we are personally ministering to Jesus when we minister to others. We learned that day that there are many gifts available to the New Testament Church today and every baptized member has the gift of ministry(I Peter 4:10; I Cor. 12). That Sunday, I ordained every church member as a minister of Christ and encouraged them to go and do likewise, both within our church, and in the community. A good slogan for us to remember is, "Every member is a minister." Ministry compliments maturity. Maturing is becoming more like Jesus in our thoughts, actions and feelings. If we would truly emulate Christ, we will remember His words, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many"-Matthew 20:28. If we are to truly emulate Christ, we will become ministering martyrs for others. We ended our message citing examples of those showing their religion by ministering to Paul and to Christ. Can you name some of these ministering servants? Answers are given at end of this newsletter. Our third message continued on the subject of ministry as we noticed how much this subject occupies the scriptures. On that day, I gave the church an acronym for maturity and ministry: I asked them to remember their time of arrival to maturity. It is like the little screen you see when you go to an airport and look for arrival times of the planes. The acronym goes like this: ETOA ... Estimated Time Of Arrival. If you can remember that, you can remember the fundamental principles of ministering and maturity. Consider. "E" stands for Experience. Our own personal experiences in life equips us to minister to others with similar problems. If we have lost a loved one, experienced a financial loss, had problems in a marriage, or faced a devastating disease we have gone through the trial and our experience tells us what another person may need. This is how we bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ(Gal. 6:2). "T" stands for Time. It requires time to minister to others. This is a sacrifice in itself. The most valuable asset we can give to Christ is our time. We know that some have more free time than others. We would not expect a mother of several young children to have the amount of time to minister as one who has retired. Their children are their ministry. Yet, a portion of everyone's time should be spent in ministering to others. Your lot may be to minister to an aged parent. I believe our own families should come first in our areas of ministry. The best way to invite a person to church is to minister to their needs. It is more effective than arguing over the scriptures. Perhaps, they have moved into your area and need some help. Perhaps you have a friend who needs some comfort to help them through the day. We put on Christ when we minister to others. If they are looking for the church of Jesus Christ, they will see His face in our ministry. "O" stands for Opportunity. God opens doors of opportunity to minister to others. The good Samaritan found the man half-dead in his particular pathway of life. He did not have to go out of his way to find an opportunity to minister. I believe that the Lord purposely places people in our path that need us. This opens the door of ministry, allowing us to reflect Christ and show that our religion is sincere. "A" stands for Assets. What do we have? Do we have a lot of time on our hands? Let us give it to Jesus by ministering to others. Do we have more money than time? Give it to a place that it will do the most good. Do we have a gift; a talent; a skill; use it to the honor and glory of God. If you can screw in a light-bulb you can help a widow. Some think they have arrived because of what they know. Jesus measures our arrival by our participation in ministry because ministering is becoming Christ-like. A ministering congregation is essential for church growth. In this sense, a church is like a business. It can only grow according to the number of people it can wait on or minister to. As a business grows, it must hire new employees to take care of their customers. When customers are unattended, they go somewhere else. A church can only grow according to their ministry. Being a bivocational pastor I know very keenly the blessings of helpers. I will never forget the times I visited some of our shut-ins only to find that some of our church members had just left. I appreciate our church for their gifts of ministry. When we look at Acts, chapter 6, we discover this to be true. The deacons were ordained to minister to those the apostles did not have time or opportunity to help. Murmuring and criticisms arose within the body and thus the office of deacon began. The result: "And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly."-v5a. Our last two messages dealt with "The Purpose of the Church". I gave the church an assignment. I asked the church write down their own personal feelings about what they felt to be the purpose of the New Testament Church. Disneyland's purpose statement is, "To provide people happiness". What would you write for the church? I loved and appreciated the response and the many thoughts the membership shared with me during that week. If the pastor and the membership do not agree on the purpose of the church little will be accomplished. During the message we defined the purpose of the church with two scriptures. The great Commission which is found in five places: Mat. 29:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-49; John 20:21; and Acts 1:8. These two scriptures alone teach us that the purpose of the church is to publish the good news of Jesus Christ to all we come into contact with, wherever and to whomever a door of opportunity is opened; to baptize them into fellowship with Christ and His believers; and to then teach them how to live. The second scripture that defines the purposes of the church is the Great Commandment: Luke 10:25 and Matthew 22:37. This talks about ministering to others by loving our neighbor as ourselves. I like what one man wrote: "A great commitment to the great commission and the great commandment will make a great church." As the old saying goes, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." The purpose of the church is the same today as it was 2000 years ago. The pastor and the congregation must be on the same page concerning church purpose. The church must not be driven by tradition, personalities, finances, programs, projects, or public events. It must be driven by New Testament principles. In our last message we focused on five distinct purposes of the New Testament Church, found in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment:Evangelism, Baptism, Worship, ministering, and maturing. During that message I asked the church what they had written as their purpose statement for the New Testament Church and I gave them mine. Here is what I wrote: "To help ourselves and others become more like Jesus Christ by fulfilling the purposes of the church as described in the great commission and the great commandment which include evangelism to all people, baptizing them into fellowship with the Saints, worshiping in spirit and truth, and ministering to the needs of others." I appreciate the encouragement received during these messages. During our last conference the church voted to include the Old School Hymnal as one of our song books. We are looking forward to singing some of the wonderful songs from this book. Since our last letter, we have incorporated a phone tree. There have been several questions regarding the phone tree and who we should call. The phone tree begins with the pastor. It is designed to communicate information to the whole church without any one member having to make more than one or two calls. Just call the person listed under your name. If that person is not available, skip down to the next name and call the person back later that you missed. This will prevent a break in communication. TAPE MINISTRY We have added several new names to our tape ministry. If you know a person who would receive a blessing from our messages, please let us know. As you know, sister Judy Newman is handling our tape ministry. Please feel free to contact her for any tapes. This is her way of ministering in God's house. I can tell she gets a blessing from it. FELLOWSHIP During the messages on ministry, the church gave fruit baskets to our senior members and shut-ins. On the last Sunday of the year, at the end of the song service, the young people of our church passed out baskets to those present in the congregation. This brought old and young together in a way not soon forgotten. After services I was blessed to see many come forward with a desire to carry a basket to our shut-ins. Then I knew the message on ministering was well received. Book review Recently, on one of my visits to another church, I was given copies of several biographies of some of the reformers. Here are their names: Martin Luther, John Knox, Zwingli, Calvin, Wycliffe and Huss. I have placed these in our library along with a biography of John Gill. These are all wonderful biographies of men who stood up for Christ in a very unfriendly world. I am sure the reading of them will be a blessing to all. ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS Four methods to measure spiritual maturity: 1) Talents – Matthew 25:14 2) Fruit bearing – Matthew 13:23 3) Faithfulness – Luke 19:12-27 4) Discipleship – John 8:31 Those who ministered to Paul: Onesimus: Philemon 1:10-13 Onesiphorus: II Tim. 1:16-18 Epaphroditus: Philip. 2:25 Timothy and Erastus: Acts 19:21,22 Luke: Acts Those who ministered to Jesus: Angels: Mark 1:13 Many women: Luke 8:2; Mark 15:41 What did they do for Jesus? REMEMBER IN PRAYER Nick Morrison suffered from an accidental gunshot to the big toe. He is home now doing well.
For fun and learning let's write our personal purpose statement for the church below and post them on the bulletin board(No name is necessary): _____________________________________________________