Friday Frivolity ~ Super Bowl Style

A merry heart does good…

First up a little quiz. Which artist quoted from Psalm 51 during their performance of a Super Bowl halftime show (and perhaps the only artist to quote Scripture during a halftime show)? Take your guess by commenting below.

Now on to a collection of Super Bowl ads the editorial staff at Frivolity find favorable and funny! The first one is dedicated to Pastor Jeff Bartz!

More cat themed frivolity.

And we close with a sentimental classic.

A Church That Prays Together Stays Together

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This past Wednesday night we held our annual business meeting. I actually look forward to them. You probably think I’m a little weird right about now and I suppose I can’t blame you. For most church going folk the annual business meeting is one of the most dreaded events on a church calendar; as in, I’d rather go to the dentist and have a tooth filled then go to one of those!

Not at Grace. We enjoy them as celebrations of God’s goodness. I do not say this as boasting but it just is what it is. Why are these meetings worth looking forward to? Because we pray together (see picture above from Wednesday night).

Church business meetings are not really about business; they are about ministry. They are about snapshots of God’s grace in the life of Christ’s Bride. They about entreating the Lord to be with us in the coming year. They are about pressing on with the gospel against the gates of hell. They are about prayer.

Really, prayer? Yes, really. Consider the first business meeting held after Christ’s ascension. The disciples gathered, probably a little shell-shocked that Jesus vanished into thin air, left them here to wait for some sort of Helper to come and to carry out some sort of mission until He comes.  Whoa, talk about a daunting backdrop to a business meeting! There is no financial plan, no programs to discuss and debate, and no Robert’s Rules of Order for goodness sakes! No, there is only a mission; spread the good news of Jesus. So what did they do? They prayed. In fact, they prayed with one accord or one mind.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication…and in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples …” Acts 1:14-15

They needed to get organized and sort out what to do so they prayed with one mind. They were unified. Oh, I’m sure they didn’t agree on everything; Acts, after all, lays out disagreements the apostles had about theology as it was forming in the early years and methodology. But they were on the same team! They had each other’s back.  A church that prays together stays together!

Here are four brief reasons why a church that prays together stays together even during business meetings:

1. Prayer sets the heart agenda. You cannot in good conscience do and say the opposite of what you pray. You know to do so makes you a hypocrite. It is really hard for a person of genuine prayer to be selfish and mean-spirited.

2. Prayer is a sort of supernatural glue for a church. It binds us spiritually together. Try praying this; “God please decimate this body, tear it apart.” You can’t pray that can you? Why? You know it would be sin to do so. You know God’s will is for a united body. But if you skip the whole praying thing you can easily carry a divisive spirit with you.

3. Prayer causes us to go to God for the spiritual betterment of each other. Try praying this; “God please curse Chuck with struggles and temptations so he will fail and spare me from such so I will not.” Puh-lease. If you are regularly praying for others you will strongly desire their spiritual progress and victories. Which “BTW” will lead to a growing church and celebratory business meetings!

4. It forces us to agree with God’s plan and purpose not ours. Try praying this; “God, I know your Word says (fill in the blank) but I want…” Yeah, not expecting that one to get past the ceiling are you? Prayer has this nasty little way of making us think biblically and that is awfully good for us.

A church that prays together moves forward together and business meetings are about how we will move forward.  It seemed all those early disciples knew to do was pray. But that season of prayer drew them together, set their hearts agenda, strengthened their friendship and gave them thinking that aligned with the Word of God (Acts 1:16-20). That is a great place for any church to be as they meet for their annual business meeting.

The Best Kept Secret Of Abortion

Yesterday was the 42nd anniversary of the landmark court decision Roe v. Wade. Many who will read this will find themselves on the pro-life side of this issue. You will consider yourself a champion or at least a cheerleader for the unborn. You would agree life begins at conception. You would be sensitive to the fact that pregnancies can cause a real harm to the mother and the every measure should be taken to protect both the mother’s health and the baby. You would desire that teenage girls who find themselves pregnant would seek to carry the baby and then find support necessary to help her begin motherhood.

Ah…but here is the best kept secret about abortion; teens are not the ones getting them. That’s right, women ages 30-39 years old have twice as many abortions as teens. Woman ages 20-29 have four times as many abortions as teens. Over 80% of all reported abortions are by those in the college or career phase of life. Teens make up only 15% of all abortions (over age 40 amounts to about 3-4% of abortions). The single largest age group having abortions is 23-27 years old or the first 4 years of post college. The second largest age group is the college ages 19-23 and the third is ages 27-31.[1]

How many of us when we think of abortion think in terms of the teenage girl who because of shame and her young age decides to have an abortion?  While not diminishing or minimizing the reality of such cases, the truth is the real face of abortion is the young career woman (and by association the young career man).

Career Chasing, Delayed Marriage and Wimpy Men

Abortion, as it turns out, has been less about teenagers having sex as it about 20 something’s who want to delay marriage and family for a host of mostly selfish reasons. The selfishness revolves around wanting to enjoy sex but not what sex produces–babies. Babies get in the way. Harsh, but it is a very real truth in the minds of some. Babies complicate relationships. I want to have sex with this guy but I do not want to be tied to him for life; I want my options left open. Maybe I will marry him, but not now. Babies also cramp the career panache of life. Once I’m settled into my career then I will start a family, but, in the meantime I really want to be able to have sex. See a pattern here?

Lest I seem to be piling on the women, men are just as responsible! It is a wimp of a man who cannot own up to responsibility. If you create life, be a man and be responsible for it. Don’t pawn off your spawning. That is weak and selfish. Selfish, because it foists upon a woman the weight of life and death. A real man provides, yes, but he protects. Running from owning your actions leaves a woman vulnerable and unprotected, the antithesis of manhood. If you’re man enough to make a life then be man enough to protect it.

The Bait and Switch

Abortion as it has turned out has undermined the institution of marriage and promoted the pursuit of mammon. For those less inclined to know what mammon is, it is simply money or the stuff of this world. Jesus taught this simple yet profound truth, “You cannot serve two masters.” Abortion tries to say you can. You can have sex, you can pursue a career, you can have a family exactly when you want. You can have it all. Except it comes at a high price no one ever tells you about a head of time. Kind of like buying that cheap printer for $50. You think, “Wow, that was easy and didn’t cost much at all.” Then you go to buy the ink replacement and it costs a small fortune and you say, “Hey, wait a minute, I just wanted a cheap printer I didn’t expect it to be this much.” Too late, gotcha. Once you buy into the lie you can have it all and it won’t cost you anything you have unwittingly bowed to the master of mammon.

Jesus goes on to say, “Either you will love the one or hate the other.” Something is the master of our lives and we can’t have two of them. Jesus means we will either love this world or we will love Him. Now, when He says world2  He is not talking about beautiful sunrises, walks in the park and so on, He is talking about the philosophies of this world that are diametrically opposed to His wisdom. Sex outside of marriage is one of those philosophies diametrically opposed. Murder is as well (I type those words with great care and empathy to those who may have had an abortion!). We must be honest about this issue and what is really going on. We are falling for the old bait and switch. We are too focused on the immediate and the material instead of the eternal and spiritual.

What About Us Christians?

Is the church practicing anything much different? Yes,3 but we too are susceptible to the subtle pull of career chasing and marriage delaying. When we do, or when we encourage our children to; we put them in an almost impossible position of staying pure. Which master are we really following? This is something the church must think deeply about in approaching our youth.

The Now and Then

The issue of abortion is not one woman’s rights or freedom to choose. Those arguments are framed within a too narrow of a view that there is nothing beyond today; there is only the immediate. The issue of abortion really is an eternal one. What is done cannot be undone for all of time. No one can go back and erase anything. Decisions we make must not be dogmatically tied to the here and now but must be tied to the now and then. I decide to do “this”, whatever “this” is, then what? Then I do “that”, whatever “that” is, then what? If you ask the question, “Then what?” enough you get to the ultimate question, “Then I die, then what?” Indeed then what? Life is a sequence of interconnected events and choices that for all of us cease one day. Then what?

While nothing done can be undone and events cannot be erased, everything can be forgiven. If we will by faith believe in Jesus, believe in His sacrifice on the cross, believe that He is the resurrected Son of God and make Him our master instead of mammon all will be forgiven. There will be no condemnation for anything done. Healing will be found. A master who leads us to green pastures awaits us.

Abortion is mostly about a choice to enslave ourselves to a deceptive master; mammon. We want what we want and we are told we can have it but we are not told what it will cost until it’s too late. It’s worse than a well kept secret, it’s a lie.

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1 http://kff.org/womens-health-policy/state-indicator/distribution-of-abortions-by-age/

2 See 1 John 2:15-17

 3 Research by the Center for Reason claims Christians have as many abortions as non-Christians but the research does not delineate between nominal Christians and active born again Christians. This author believes the latter would show lower rates.

Over 1,100 Attend Christmas Cantata At Grace

In the midst of this busy Christmas season over 1,100 people took time out to go back 2,000 years  and experience the night God came to make everything new. From the live nativity scene outside that greeted the crowds as they arrived, to the thematic tenor of the cantata inside; time seemed to tie two nights into one. One night when Jesus Christ was born, to come and make a way for all things to be made new; the other, a cold December eve in 2014 where the message of Jesus is still able to make all things new. God was with us in Bethlehem long ago and God was with us in Batavia this past weekend. One message – powerful, true and lasting, ties the two nights together just like a Christmas bow.

A 65 voice choir along with the testimonies of Steve and Sarah Haynes, sang and spoke of praises to Emmanuel throughout the 1 1/2 hour production. There was no mistaking the reason for the season! Jesus Christ had come to save sinners and give hope to this weary world. In Him all things are indeed made new!

Enjoy some pictures courtesy Charissa Tosh .

 

Here is the testimony of Steve and Sarah Haynes shared.

Here is one piece of music from the cantata.

Friday Frivolity ~ Staff Sled Race Style

A merry competitive heart does good!

Last Sunday our esteemed chairman of the deacons shared an observation about the pastoral team during a presentation to the congregation. The chairman indicated the pastors seemed to enjoy some good-natured competition. We have no idea where he got that idea from. Hehe…

Purposeful Friendships

the-purpose-of-christmasA friend shows himself friendly and many of the folks at Grace Baptist did just that on Sunday. They did so by inviting a friend to church. Nothing fancy, just a “Hey, would love to have you join me for church” offer. Many prayed and made that very offer. Some, perhaps, were declined but apparently many were not.  The auditorium was packed. We gave away 32 “Purpose of Christmas” books. That means at least 32 friends heard the gospel in person and took the gospel home with them in print. Wow, that is a great Sunday!

Now here is the hard part: keep praying for your friends (even the ones who may have said no thanks to your invitation) and keep inviting them. Just around the corner is our annual Ladies Christmas Party (Friday, December 5th), a Men’s Breakfast (Saturday, December 13th) and especially of note, the Christmas Cantata, “Christmas Makes Everything New” (Friday, December 19th005706202 and Sunday, the 21st). The cantata features a 60 voice choir along with purposeful testimonies. The cantata provides another can’t miss opportunity to share the gospel with a friend. What could be more exciting than seeing a friend become a brother or sister in Christ this holiday season? God has used these very events to do just that. Keep being a friend, keep praying and keep inviting!