Thursday, November 12, 2015

How can I help First Church West grow?

How can I help First Church West grow numerically?
Mat 16:16-18 NASB - "16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."
I.  Consistently ask God to build up First Church West and make it a healthy, holy and growing fellowship.
II. If there is an empty seat next to you, then pray that the Lord will fill it with a person who needs to grow in God’s grace.
III.  Create an “Operation Andrew List”.  The Billy Graham ministry uses this method for the purpose of getting people to the crusades.  Make a list of people you would like to see come to church in the next twelve months. Write their names on a list and pray daily that they will come to First Church West. Ask the Lord to give them a meaningful invitation to church.
IV.  Take the invitation cards provided in the bulletin and pray for the opportunity to use them during the week.
V.  If you are on Facebook then “like” the First Church West page and promote it through your social media
VI.  Invite people to special events when we hold them.
VII.  Be friendly to visitors and let them know you are glad they came.


Friday, November 6, 2015

How do people who are addicted change?

How do people change who have struggled with addictions

Many times people wonder how can people who has been addicted to alcohol and/or drugs change and be freed from a lifestyle dominated by dependence on substance abuse.  Here are some thoughts based on several decades of Christian counseling.

1.  The personal and sincere acceptance of Jesus as one’s personal prophet, priest, and king is an important step.  The deeper this commitment to the Lord Jesus and understanding of the need of repentance as part of faith is critical for this to be an active element in a person’s recovery.   A “life insurance” faith in Christ that simply looks to Jesus to save them from hell without any desire to live by faith day by day will do little to help a person recover.  So a true and committed faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior and deep repentance concerning sin can be a vital part of a person changing.   This faith would be a fruit of regeneration of the person by the Holy Spirit and upon that foundation one can effectively build a life free of addiction.    However, this alone will most likely not be enough to win the battle with addiction in most cases.

2.  Going to 90 meetings in 90 days, which focus on the process of recovery.  These can be Celebrate Recovery groups, small group Bible studies, or 12 step programs.   It takes 90 days to break or establish a habit.  Therefore, to be totally free of the use of alcohol or drugs for 90 days is essential and continual reinforcement of turning away from the addiction and towards Christ Jesus is needed.  The first 90 days is essential to establish a foundation for recovery from addiction.   After the ninety days a weekly meeting should become part of the lifestyle of the recovering addict.

3.  Seeing a counselor weekly for the first 90 days and then twice a month for a year to help the person deal with the issues that lead to the addiction.  Most substance abuse is self-medication to deal with some inward emotional pain from the past.  The counselor can provide accountability, provide recovery tools, and help bring fresh perspective to the struggles that have led to addiction.

4.  Development of a sponsor and accountability partners where on a regular basis there are telephone calls, e-mails, and conversations which encourage the person struggling with addiction to continue to walk in faith with Christ and turn from their dependence on the addiction to cope with life. 

5.  Find healthy and holy substitutes that relieve stress and produce happiness.  This may be a commitment to exercise, regularly donating time to help others in need, listening to inspiring music, journaling, biblical meditation, and times of personal worship.  This practice of regular “soul nurture” is essential since it provides physical, emotional, and mental relief without the use of drugs or alcohol.  This will be different for every person and so they must develop their own unique “soul care” plan that works for them.   The counselor can help them develop such a plan.

These are what I see as the most critical aspects that need to be part of a person recovering from an addictive lifestyle.  If you have a friend or family member struggling with addiction  you may want to share these thoughts with them to help them develop a true and reasonable plan for recovery. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Church Is A Fellowship Of Priests!

Sermon Notes

Outline/ Big Idea
The Church Is A Fellowship Of Priests

1Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

I.  All Believers are Priests
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then God has made you a full time missionary to your family, friends, work associates, community, and church.  Every Christian is in full time service to our Lord.  (Exodus 19:6)

II.  What is a Priest?
I.  To be those that cared for the ark of the covenant which today would be to be those who care for and defend the gospel of Messiah Jesus (Deut.  10:8,9)

II.  To be those who prayed for those who were not priests.  To present before God the needs of others.  (Lev 9:22-24; Numbers 6:22-27)

III.  They looked over the practical and physical needs of corporate worship (Numbers 1:50-53).  Participation in worship was an essential part of their role. 

IV.  They were to teach others God’s Word and study it themselves. ((Deuteronomy 24:8; 33:10; II Chronicles 35:3; Nehemiah 8:7)

V.  They were to care for the poor and the sick as those who administered the tithe of God. (Lev 14:3; Duet 26:12)

VI.  They were to be Holy because God is Holy (Lev 22:2)

VII.  To give praise to God in public worship (2 Chron. 7:6)

III.  How Should We Then Live?
Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware you are a priests before God and seek HIS wisdom about how to live more consistently as a priest before God and in the eyes of those around you. 

My Key Thought