On Mission For Missions

Kosioreks Commissioning - pulpit

An excellent book called Look and Live by Matt Papa states, “Missions is this: We enjoy God and therefore we share God. To be “on mission” is leveraging your time, talents, and resources for the joy of others and the advancement of the gospel, wherever you are.” He goes on to say, “Missions is this: crossing a culture to reach a people who have little or no access to the gospel, with the proclamation of truth and the planting of churches as paramount.”
We as a church family are greatly blessed to partner with a family who have modeled what it looks like to be “on mission” which ultimately led them to “missions.” This next week it is both our privilege and important duty to be “on mission” on their behalf. Specifically, now and next week, more than ever here is what being “on mission” is to look like for us: PRAYER.
This Monday, June 29, Eric, Brenda, Caleb, Daniel and Michael Kosiorek leave France for Africa. They arrive in Lome’ Tuesday and then travel to Mango on Wednesday. Pray that their luggage arrives with them! Pray for God’s grace in the details of this journey. Pray that their spirits will be strong in light of the physical and emotional drain of the past months in getting to this point. Pray that they would be protected from evil people. Pray that Brenda’s eye will continue to experience the grace of God’s healing. Pray for the paperwork details of getting their visas in Lome’. Pray for a good time of adjustment as they get settled in to their temporary housing for the next four months. Pray that they will be able to locate permanent housing in the near future. Pray that they will grow closer as a family and that Eric and Brenda’s marriage will flourish.  Pray for the boys as they adapt to this new adventure and that their walk with God will deepen. Pray for Eric as he begins to wrap his brain around his new responsibilities in running the physical plant of the hospital. Pray that the “joy of the Lord would be their strength” and that their enjoyment of God will be that which spills out of their lives as they embark in this new journey of being “on mission” doing “missions.”
Kosiorek's, we love you!

            “Kosiorek’s- We Love You!”

Pastor Shirk

MORE THAN FATHER’S DAY AT GRACE BAPTIST!

Shannon Schmit Baptism

Shannon Schmit

David Tran Baptism

David Tran

Kara Grohs

Kara Grohs

Jennifer Yuhnke Baptism

Jennifer Yuhnke

Eric Stroud Baptism

Eric Stroud

Last Sunday, Father’s Day, was so much more than just Father’s Day! It was a celebration of God’s goodness and grace in our midst. We celebrated the blessing of how the Lord is at work in the lives of our men. They are working hard at being men of eternal influence in their important capacity as fathers. We also celebrated the five stories of transformation that were our privilege to hear by those baptized.
What was a special blessing to me in the testimonies was how God used YOU – our church family as vessels to draw others to Himself in saving grace.  A dad took a teachable moment in the life of His son and rather than just yell at him for disobedience, wisely used that tender time of failure to point his son to where genuine spiritual help could be found. A family by faithful attendance to the services week in and week out experienced God’s clear work in the life of their daughter through the preaching of the Word. A boyfriend led his girlfriend to the “path that leads to life” by inviting her to church.  A couple took the initiative to not just to pray about a young man in their lives, but seized that opportunity to present the gospel to a searching heart. A friend was called because of the clarity of her godly live that emanated hope to one who had lost their way… and then found Jesus as the healer and help of her soul.
Enjoy the pictures of these testimonies from a special day that recognized our earthly dads and the life changing work of our Heavenly Father! You may click on this link to watch the testimonies.

 

Rob Bell, Oprah And The Post New Testament Age

bible-truth-culture

 

There is a new Bible, or should I say a “post” New Testament. You know, as in “post” modern. The cultural elite of our day have written it. They have received insight and revelation from God or maybe I should say permission in their minds from God to write this new teaching.  Now, it hasn’t yet been codified into one document that we all can look at and agree is there, but that is so passé anyway. It is the digital age after all. Besides, limiting this glorious new doctrine to one finite book is too restrictive and by definition goes against one of the main tenets of this post New Testament; restricting restrictions. But mark it down, there is a post New Testament being preached from and worshiped.

Now this supposed new canon is legitimate because some scholars who have religious type credentials said a few years back that we can have a post New Testament if we want it. They said since the New Testament corrected and cleaned up so many messes from the Old Testament there must be something to clean up the messes still left in the New Testament. These scholars championed something called the Redemptive-Movement Hermeneutics or Trajectory Hermeneutics. “Say what?” you say. First, hermeneutic is a fancy term to mean how one approaches and interprets the Bible. Second, here is a run- of- the- mill Wikipedia definition of this approach, but it is a pretty good one:

 “A hermeneutical approach that seeks to locate varying ‘voices’ in the text and to view this voice as a progressive trajectory through history (or at least through the Biblical witness); often a trajectory that progresses through to the present day. The contemporary reader of Scripture is in some way envisaged by the Biblical text as standing in continuity with a developing theme therein. The reader, then, is left to discern this trajectory and appropriate it accordingly.”

“Say what?” you say again. Just focus on the last sentence, “The reader, then, is left to discern…” Simply stated you and I are writers of this post New Testament book; or least we can be if we want to be. We get to clean up whatever messes we think God just didn’t get to yet in the New Testament.

The landmark work on this hermeneutical approach came from William Webb in his book,  “Slaves, Woman and Homosexuals.” Webb argued that the trajectory of slave treatment was towards less slavery from Old to New Testaments. Therefore, the abolition of slavery along with a majority consensus from society denouncing slavery, completes the trajectory God intended. Likewise, the “treatment” of women in the Bible progresses from the Old to the New with increased rights and privileges. Thus, the varied woman’s liberation and equal rights movements of the last century again show that society has simply followed the trajectory God had begun in the New Testament.

Then there is the issue of homosexuality.  Webb argues there is an ever so subtle softening of the view of homosexuality from the Old to the New. He thus projects the trajectory of homosexual rights and privileges will also move forward but at a slower pace (keep in mind he wrote this book in 2001 before the rapid development of the LBGT movement).

Sounds reasonable. Sounds fair. Sounds politically correct. Sounds loving. No wonder it has gained so much traction even by millions who have never heard of William Webb. It is the philosophy of this age; we are so much smarter than anyone before us; we must be inspired by God to correct the mess He left for us to clean up. Surely God never meant for His revelation to end 2,000 years ago. He obviously has called us to complete what He started and we are more than happy to do so.

In particular, this is why you see the homosexual argument linked to the slavery argument or the role of woman argument. We are evolving, just as the Old Testament evolved to a New Testament, we are writers of an ever newer “post” New Testament. We are the ones truly fulfilling the law. Jesus, He came close, but didn’t get the job done. We on the other hand will pick up where He left off and take it from here.

This hermeneutical approach gives credibility to the idea that the Bible is antiquated for another era. It is a good book but let’s be real, there are just so many things in it that keep us from doing things we really like to do. It’s just, you know, too restrictive. So we must overwrite some of it and if we say we are being true to it by simply saying God wasn’t done yet and is still writing doctrine through us, well, we can feel pretty good about that.

Enter Rob Bell. Many of you reading this may not be familiar with Rob Bell, but he was this up and coming pastor in Michigan, drawing in a large number of young people with a hipster persona and a fresh way of teaching the Scriptures. Now, just a few years later he is considered a heretic by most if not all orthodox practitioners of the gospel ministry as he tours with Oprah Winfrey. What happened? He bought into the trajectory hermeneutic approach. This approach led him to write a book which renounced the existence of hell and the authority of the Scriptures. In his latest book, he embraces same-sex marriage. He believes that we are not bound by the Scriptures but rather we are to interpret the evolution of love that God started in the Bible against what we as a culture see as right and good. What we see as right and good surpasses the Scriptures because we are on this trajectory or redemptive movement through time. So, if most people do not believe in hell then there must not be one because how could a loving God have something His creation doesn’t want? And if most people believe in same-sex marriage, then that must be what God wants because God is for us not against us.

What is most insidious about all this however, is this faux attempt to justify these beliefs by tying them to a supposed “scholarly” understanding of the Bible. In other words, giving religious cover to that which is directly rejected by the Bible. This explains why people can say; “The Bible, as it turns out, really supports homosexuality.” Um, it doesn’t. But when supposed religious people like Rob Bell teach it does, via trajectory hermeneutics; it gives people what they want- a God who condones their personal desires.

That, my friends is called idolatry. But hey, idolatry is too restrictive and old fashioned of an idea so  let’s throw that out.  After all, the New Testament says the truth shall set me free and the truth according to the cultural majority is that my God wants me happy. So God, as it turns out, supports what I believe and that is the new and exciting gospel of our times. See how this works?

The apostle Paul warned of itching ears and boy do we have them. We are building our own Tower of Babel to our own heaven based upon the collective, so called wisdom of our age. Ironically, a guy named Nimrod was in charge of the first Tower of Babel and I think he might be in charge of this one too.

The canon is closed. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.

 

Blown Away

In the midst of this long harsh winter take 8 minutes to watch the video below and be blown away by what we are supporting as a ministry. The hospital in Mango, Togo where the Kosioreks are heading held its’ inauguration ceremony last week. Thousands of Togolese flocked to the hospital along with the President of Togo to participate in this historic day that saw the hospital project reaching completion. The Kosioreks are reaching completion of their language learning at the same time and will, Lord willing be at the hospital July 2nd. Please pray for this ministry and pray the Lord will raise up the final financial need ($20,000). The Kosioreks have to move all of their belongings and themselves to Togo. God is doing incredible things in northern Togo and the surrounding countries and our very own Kosioreks will be there soon to do their part see many come to Christ!

The Proposal: A Sweet Night

There is just something about that moment when a man drops to a knee and asks a woman to be his wife and promises to love her and take care of her forever if she will just say yes. Those ideas were the theme of this year’s Sweetest Night. A night highlighted with a wonderful catered meal (cheesecake!!), laughter, sweet proposal stories, a few classic “Roses Are Red Violets are Blue” poems and a room full of men delivering a rose and a proposal to their sweetest. Enjoy some pictures from our very sweet night.

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True Love?

True-Love-Never-Ends

Are you ready for this? Are you ready for true love?

I wonder.

We all long for true love or at least we say we do. Truth is most of us shun it because we completely misunderstand it. But true loves awaits those who will accept it and embrace it; if we dare. But we must be prepared for love to look different than what Hollywood portrays or even the stuff of our childhood ideals.

What if true love is something quite different than what you thought it was? What if it is even diametrically opposed to much of what you have been taught? What if true love is demanding, consuming, unyielding and never growing? Could you handle that kind of love; if it was indeed true love?

The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). He is the source of it, the Author of it, the embodiment of it. So love must be understood through the prism that what God has said and done is the ultimate understanding of true love. So here are four immutable truth’s about God’s love that might just surprise you.

1. God’s love is demanding.

It is demanding in two ways.

First, in order to have a love relationship with God He demands you respond to His love. 1 John 4:8-10 says “…for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world , that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son, to be the propitiation for our sins.” Did you catch that? We do not naturally love God, we are not drawn to Him but rather away from Him. Yet God loved us, pursued us and gave His Son as a sacrifice for our sins that we might have a way to know Him, be drawn to Him and love Him. John 3:16 states; “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” To experience true love a response is required; specifically one of belief. There is no true love without complete belief and trust; and unless you believe you cannot truly be loved. Romans 10:9-11 lays out what our response is to be; “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says; ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” True love takes away all shame because true love covers it all. God insists His Son is enough to wipe away all your stains and forgive all your sins. Can you insist He is too?  It’s the response God demands.

Second, God expressly says that If we love Him we will obey Him. Talk about demanding and flying right in the face of everything this world says about true love. Jesus says “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:23) That is just too much you may protest. Well, consider this well known verse from Romans 8; “All things work together for good to those who love God.” If  we love God and obey God all things will work out for our good. Mind you, good here is defined by God not by us. And yes, that is demanding of Him, but if He is God then He is all-knowing and we are not. So, how about having an all-knowing and wise God on your side who is in love with you and you in love with Him? I think things will work just nicely in this kind of relationship as demanding as it is.

2. God’s love is consuming.

We are to get lost in Him. We disappear. It is not about us at all. It’s not about the bride it is about the bridegroom. How does that fit in your worldview? True love it turns out is about giving a life away in order to really have life. Galatians 2:20 bottom lines this for us, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and this life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” We are consumed it turns out, by the love of Jesus. How dare we expose ourselves to such a scandalous kind of love? We dare because He left the perfection of heaven to come here and be treated horrifically, unjustly and then brutally killed on a public cross of shame to save you from you. When one comes to grips with that love they willingly surrender everything and place it at the Savior’s feet. Whatever was mine Jesus, is now yours. The Apostle Paul put it this way, “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.” We are most loved and happy when we are most consumed by Jesus.

3. God’s love is unyielding.

God doesn’t bend in this relationship. There is no negotiating the terms of the relationship with God. God never changes but He is always changing us. In our world, that is completely unfair and unacceptable isn’t it? “What do you mean I have to change but they don’t?” But true love is not of this world. True love is supernatural, eternal, and all-powerful- all things we are not. God is in charge of this relationship and He has one goal for it…conform you to Him. Again from the book of Philippians the Apostle Paul instructs us along these lines, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Please note it is a good work He is doing in you. His unyielding nature in this love relationship is to produce the best you, and the best you looks like His Son (Rom. 8:29). True love helps others to see and be truly loved, and God will produce that true love in you as you pursue His Son of true love. Pursuit of anything else is a pursuit of something less than true love and God loves you too much to see you do that. He’s unyielding that way.

4. God’s love is never growing.

He can’t love us anymore than He already does. Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” From the day you realize God’s love in the gift of His Son and accept that gift you have every ounce of the love of God you will ever have. He cannot love you more and He cannot love you less than He did that day, today or any other day. His love is inexhaustible so He does not have to worry about how much to love. He simply loves 100% of the time. Our love, on the other hand is always growing, or at least it should be. Our love fluctuates, even daily. We should not confuse the two– His love and our love. One is perfect 24/7/365/infinity. The other is woefully less. You will never out love God. Instead, He will always out love you. Not bad for a true love.

I invite you this Valentine’s Day to be sure you know what true love is. God is love, but His love is not the stuff of fairly tales but of true redemption and eternal bliss. This Valentine’s Day God is saying be mine and experience true love, maybe even for the first time in your life.