From the pastor, spring 1996

may   ·   jun

 

    RENEWING OUR VOWS   (April 1996)

    Spring is a time when many young people make vows of marriage to each other and promise to do certain things. It can be also a time for renewing one vows to God as individuals and as a congregation. As we begin to prepare for our "expansion" at Parkwood, it is an opportune time for us to remember "who we are" and "what we are about". Several years ago, we spent a lot of time discussing this, and came up with our Statement of Purpose:

    THE PURPOSE OF PARKWOOD IS TO ENABLE INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES TO DISCOVER, GROW IN, AND SHARE THE LOVE OF GOD FOUND IN JESUS CHRIST.

    Two thirds of our statement has to do with Evangelism, --- "to enable individuals and families to discover ......... and share - the love of God found in Jesus Christ. Are you aware of that? This is our purpose. This is who we decided we are and want to continue to be - to enable to find God through Jesus Christ, and to share Christ with others. What I want to challenge myself to do and each one connected to Parkwood, to renew our vows, to renew our commitment to "evangelism". In a recent edition of the magazine Anglican Word, the Reverend David Power, Advisor in Evangelism to the Diocese of Portsmouth, England writes, "It is clear that evangelism cannot be separated from other aspects of church life; something which congregations can do a bit of now and then if they like that sort of thing. Evangelism is actually an expression the very nature of the church, of who we are. If the local church is healthy it will grow; growth is a normal sign of health". Reverend Power uses ten factors that are usually present in growing churches as a yardstick against which to measure a congregation.

    • LEADERSHIP, BOTH LAY AND CLERGY, COMMITTED TO EVANGELISM AND WORKING TOGETHER TO ENSURE THAT AN EVANGELISTIC MOTIF UNDERLIES THE LIFE AND WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH.

    • WORSHIP WHICH IS ALIVE WITH A SENSE OF THE REALITY OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD; WHICH CELEBRATES WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US IN CHRIST, IS ACCESSIBLE TO THE NEWCOMER, AND TOUCHES THE HEART AS WELL AS THE MIND.

    • BIBLICAL TEACHING. A CONSISTENT DIET OF STRAIGHTFORWARD BIBLICAL PREACHING, TEACHING AND BIBLE STUDY; ESPECIALLY IN THE HOME GROUPS DURING THE WEEK.

    • SPIRITUAL RENEWAL THROUGH A SPECIFIC PROGRAMME WHICH FOSTERS THE LIFE OF PRAYER AND ENCOURAGES REGULAR BIBLE READING.

    • THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH AS AN OPEN COMMUNITY; CHARACTERIZED BY LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, FORGIVENESS, RECONCILIATION, SINCERE CARE, HONESTY, JOY, UNITY AND GOOD FUN. THE QUALITY OF INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND COMMUNITY LIFE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH ARE A POWERFUL WITNESS TO THE GOSPEL. NEW PEOPLE FIND THEMSELVES READILY ACCEPTED.

    • A CONSISTENT CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE NEEDS OF THE NEWCOMERS, SO THAT THEY CAN BE HELPED TO FEEL NOTICED, WANTED, AND AT HOME IN THE CHURCH.

    • PRACTICAL SERVICE TO THE LOCAL COMMUNITY WHICH GIVES GREATER CREDIBILITY FOR THE CHURCH'S MESSAGE.

    • MISSION EVENTS WHICH REMIND THE CONGREGATION THAT WE ARE A PEOPLE CALLED TO GOD'S MISSION. IN DOING EVANGELISM THE CHURCH ITSELF RESPONDS MORE FULLY TO THE GOSPEL.

    • THE CHURCH BUDGET REFLECTS A CONCERN TO MAKE EVANGELISM A PRIORITY. HOW WE SPEND OUR MONEY IS A CLEAR INDICATION OF WHAT WE REALLY DEEM TO BE IMPORTANT.

    • REGULAR OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENQUIRERS TO EXPLORE THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IN A RELAXED, UNPRESSURED CONTEXT.

    How do we stack up as individual Christians and as a Congregation, when it comes to Evangelism. What are we doing well? In what areas can we improve? What initiatives should we take? Share your ideas with others, with your Elder, with myself. Bring your concerns and ideas up in the Session, the Ladies Group, the Coffee Klatch, the Bible Studies, the Breakfast Groups, etc. Let's make a difference.
    Let's begin by renewing our commitment to help "individuals and families to discover Christ and share Him with others".

      Sincerely,

        Floyd McPhee

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    FREEDOM FROM FEAR   (May 1996)

    Most of us have experienced at some time or another the paralyzing effect of fear. Indeed, some people are constantly dominated by it. David knew something of it, though from Psalm 34 we discover that it is possible for a man who is full of fear to be delivered from it completely.

    Christians are members of the human race, but although we have been made members of God's family we are still subject to all the frailties common to all people. We have to overcome failures, we know what sorrow is, we are beset by worry, we are threatened by anxiety, we know what depression is, and one of our biggest enemies is fear. Is it possible to live lives that free from the enemy of fear? The answer is found in Psalm 27: v 1: "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I shall be afraid?"

    There are two kinds of fear in human experience, the normal and the abnormal, the good and the bad. A surgeon fears to harm his patient, a pilot takes care in his handling of his aircraft as he fears to harm his passengers through an accident, etc. Those are healthy fears. But there are other fears we need to be free from.

    THE KIND OF FEARS WHICH BESET US

    There are general fears as Luke 21:26 tells us, and this is very true of today. But there are particular fears, which may have to do with the past, the present or the future. Consider the following:

    1. The fear of failure. Anyone who is conscientious or ambitious in the right sense, or who has achieve any success at all, must experience the temptations to fear lest he should fail, and this can be a very devastating fear.
    2. The fear of responsibility. We may be ambitious and yet fear the very responsibility which the achievement of our ambition may thrust upon us.
    3. The fear of danger and harm. Some people are afraid of thunderstorms or of travelling by sea or air. Sometimes their fear arises from the fact that they have known someone to be hurt by lightning or to have lost their lives in the air or on the sea.
    4. The fear of some "skeleton in the cupboard". Many people fear the some past remark, mistake or indiscretion will "find them out".
    5. The fear of loss. How many of us fear the loss of job, of financial means of support.
    6. The fear of the future. Many who are getting older become fearful as to how they will be able to live on their small pensions or savings, or are fearful of being dependent upon other, or are fearful of what will happen when their children leave them.
    7. The fear of mental disorders or physical disease. This is a very real fear to many people, even among God's children. Perhaps someone they know has been afflicted in this way, and this has instilled a fear into them.
    8. The fear of death. This fear is also common to many, and robs of the peace and joy that is ours in Christ.

    WHAT FEAR DOES TO US

    Fear makes us unhappy and brings us into bondage, and its effects are always dissipating and destructive. Fear undermines our health. If we allow fear to grip us we become tense and unable to function normally. It affects our bodily functions, including our appetite. Fear paralyses our wills; it robs us of sleep, it clouds the mind, and it makes us spiritual cripples. When fear comes in, joy, peace, power, poise and testimony go out, for a fearful Christian is a defeated and a failing Christian.

    HOW CAN WE BE FREE FROM FEAR

    If we are fearful what must we do? Here are some suggestions.

    1. Settle it once and for all that it is the will of God for you to be free from your fears. Does the Lord want you , His child, to be fearful, afraid and paralysed all your life? Of course not, When the disciples of Jesus were fearful for their lives as a strong wind caused their boat to be in peril, Jesus said, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"
    2. Be sure you really want to be free from your fears. This may seen strange, but some people do not want to lose their fears. They are the people who "enjoy bad health", and their fears offer to them a form of escape from facing up to the responsibilities of life. The Lord is able to deliver you from all your fears. Are you really willing that He should do it?
    3. Make an honest admission of your fears. Do not attempt to hide them; drag them out and recognize them for what they are - ugly fears which must be dealt with. Write them down and look at them, and if it will help then tell someone about them. In any case, do not hide from your fears, or you will be fearing your fears.
    4. Ask God definitely to banish your fears, and trust Him to do it. Follow the example of the Psalmist in Psalm 34:4. Take your fears to the "Mercy Seat" and leave them there. Have you ever really done that?
    5. Cultivate the consciousness of the Lord's presence. Fear cannot survive when we are enjoying the Lord's presence. In Psalm 23 v. 4 we read "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
    6. Dwell deeply in the Word of God. God has said very much in His Word that should lead us to say, "I will not fear!" Look up His promises and meditate upon them.
    7. Forget your fears and praise the Lord. The moment you begin to praise the Lord fear will begin to shrink and to shrivel, and as you go on praising Him, the One Who is waiting and willing and wanting to free you from your fears, will give you victory. May David's testimony also be yours, "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" Psalm 56:3,4.

      In Christ's love,

        Floyd McPhee

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    "ARE NOT YOU ALSO ONE OF THIS MAN'S DISCIPLES?"   (June 1996)

    John 18:17

    The life that wins is a disciplined life. Over and over again in the New Testament believers are called "disciples", and disciple is one who learns of Christ, follows Him and obeys Him. Broadly speaking, of course, every Christian is a disciple; and yet there is a sense in which it is possible to be a Christian, to be saved and to know that you sins are forgiven, and yet not to tread the path of discipleship - for to be a disciple means to be a disciplined Christian. Discipleship, therefor is a costly business. The question is: Are you one of this Man's disciples? The Man referred to in John 18:17 is, of course, the Lord Jesus. The one to whom this question was addressed was Peter. The questioner was a girl who minded the outer door of the High Priest's house. The question is pointed, personal, challenging and disturbing. What is your answer to it? Perhaps it will be easier to answer it with a definite "Yes" or "No" after we have considered some of the clearly defined conditions of discipleship which Jesus Himself laid down. What are the conditions of discipleship? What are the marks of a true disciple of the Lord Jesus?

    1. The first condition or mark of discipleship is HATING.

    This sounds very strange, but Luke 14:26 assures us that it is nevertheless true. Notice how emphatic our Lord's words are -- "If any man...hate not...he cannot...." Must I hate my parents, my husband, my wife, my children or other loved ones, if I am to be a disciple of Christ? What does this mean? It means that the Lord Jesus must come first. If a choice has to be made between my relatives and what they want, and Christ and what He wants, then He must come first.

    2. The second condition or mark of discipleship is CROSS-BEARING.

    This is made very clear in Luke 14:17. Notice again how emphatic these words are---"And any who does not---cannot." Any man who will not take up his cross cannot be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. But what does cross-bearing mean? It does not refer to various trials that beset us abut which we sometimes hear people say, "That's my cross!" To bear the cross, to take up the cross and follow Jesus, means that we are willing to be hated, persecuted and misunderstood as He was. We do this out of love for Him, Who out of love for us was willing to be crucified upon the cross of Calvary. Have you taken your stand openly for Christ? Do your friends and your loved ones know that you are a Christian? Are you this Man's disciple?

    3. The third condition or mark of discipleship is FORSAKING.

    Here again in Luke 14:33, notice the emphatic words --"any of you who does not---cannot." What doe sit mean? If I am His disciple must I forsake all that I have? Yes! It means that I must abandon all claim to all that I have. It means "hands off" my life, my home, my loved ones, my money, my possessions - in other words, all that I have regarded as "mine", and I will henceforth look upon them as "His", and I will no longer have any claim to them. How do you measure up to this standard? Are you this Man's disciple?

    4. The fourth condition or mark of discipleship is CONTINUING.

    The scripture for us is John 8:31. Notice again how very clear it is --"If you hold to....you really are." To hold to, or to continue, means to abide in Christ, to grow up into Christ and to shape our lives in conformity to His Word and His will. It means to led the Word of the Lord be the final authority in our lives and to seek day by day to live in submission to that Word and in obedience to Him. How do you measure us to this? Are you reading, meditating and feeding upon His Word? Are you this Man's disciple?

    5. The fifth condition or mark of discipleship is LOVING.

    We read about this in John 13:35. Love is the badge of discipleship that He will recognize. Notice that it says---"if you love...".

    It is hard to be a real Christian, a disciplined Christian, a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, as these scriptures show; but how glorious it is to be altogether His, an out-and-out, decided and determined disciple of the Lord! Are you this Man's disciple?

      In Christ's love,

        Floyd McPhee
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