Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Shepherd Update, Thursday October 15th, 2009

Dear Good Shepherd,

Good Morning and Happy Thursday

Baptism: There will be a baptism this Sunday October 18th. Evan Dreher, the oldest son of Mark and Anna Dreher, will God willing, will profess his faith publicly, be baptised, and be welcomed into the visible body of Christ. Please come and help celebrate this great event in Evans life and in the life of the church.

Systematic Theology  will meet this Saturday for the second class discussion in Systematic Theology. If you missed the first, you are not too far behind, so please join us. Here are the notes and a partial recording of the session (tape ran out after 24 minutes) This Saturday, we'll be discussing the Christian view of God--how does the Christian understanding of God differ from the Hindu and/or Buddhist understanding...what, if anything sets Christian Theism apart from Muslim Theism or Jewish Theism? Hope you can be there.

Shepherd's Bowl: Team 3 is scheduled to serve tonight at the Shepherd's Bowl.

Acolyte Practice: The next acolyte practice is scheduled for Sunday October 25th after the 10:30am service please mark your calendars and plan to be there. So far you guys are doing incredibly well. Thank you for all of your hard work. It is a making a big difference.

Christmas Acolyting:
Christmas Eve service is one of the more important ones of the year so we pull out all the stops. If you are not going to be out of town and are not going to be in the Christmas Pageant which takes place during the service itself, and you are willing to serve as an acolyte please let me know so that I can fill the spaces. We need five acolytes for Christmas Eve.

Falling Leaves: Thank you to everyone who has volunteered to help with leaves. It looks like we'll meet on Saturday, October 24th to rake them up. There is plenty of room to help out, so please sign up if you can. There is a sign up sheet in the parish hall this Sunday.

The Second Yearly Goal: Last week I wrote about our first goal this year, which is to reach an attendance of 200 by Pentecost. That first goal is designed to set us up to meet the second goal, which is to make 30 new disciples of Jesus Christ.

Being a disciple is far more than being a churchgoer or even a convert...a disciple of Jesus does not simply cognitively believe a set of doctrines (although that is certainly and necessarily part of it), discipleship is a full bodied sacrificial commitment to live for Jesus; to make his commands your desires, his call your personal mission, his priorities your priorities, his desires your desires, to shape your life in conformity to his.

So when Jesus commanded his disciples to "make disciples" in Matthew 28, he was not suggesting that they simply go out and get a lot of people to say a one time prayer "accepting" him as Savior. Jesus wants disciples not nominal irregularly attending churchgoers who think they are saved because they said a prayer once but who have no intention of repenting or changing or giving themselves to Jesus whatsoever. He wants committed followers.

It is true, and we cannot forget it, that we do not "make believers". Only God can bring someone from a state of spiritual death, to new birth and life (Eph 2:1-12). But he does that most often through the proclamation of his word by his people, as a body and as individfuals. We plant the seed of the gospel, we water it, but only God makes it grow (1 Cor 3).

So how do we plant the seed and how do we water it?

Jesus compared his followers to indiscriminate sowers or farmers--farmers who cast seed everywhere without knowing the fruitfulness of the ground (Mark 4:1-20).

We do not know who will believe the message of the gospel and we do not know when. Knowing these things is not important. What is important, crucial, is that we plant and we water. We plant the seed by casting it everywhere. As individuals, we pass on the faith the apostles entrusted to us to the people in our lives by word and deed. As a body we preach and teach and live out his word. Through these two simple things, God has promised to bring people to repentance and faith. 

We water the seed by training and equipping new converts to be followers through prayer, bible study, worship, fellowship, service. We both teach and live out the fruits of discipleship: love, patience, kindness, hope, faith, obedience and grace empowered self-control.

Our community life at Good Shepherd must be ordered in such a way that corporately and individually we are not only equipped to both plant and water, but that we are actively doing so.

Harvest Dinner: Even if sign up sheets look full, please talk to Chris Vail about it, he'll almost certainly have something for you to do :)

Beginner's Bible Study: Beginner's Bible Study is on for tonight. We're still in John 1 but we should move to John 2 this evening.

Women's Bible Study: Meets every Saturday in the parish hall at 10:00am. They are currently studying the book of Isaiah. All women are welcome.

Sermon this Sunday: Paul often urges his readers to "walk" in a way that is "worthy of the calling" to which we have been called. My first question when I read things like that is: "How on earth am I supposed to do that?" I am a believer and I'm in the process of being made like Jesus, but I am far far far from getting there. I am, in fact, pretty messed up. There is no way I can ever be "worthy" of the call I have received by God.  Is this just another example of God giving us a command we can never can we ever be worthy of? The answer, as we'll see Sunday, is both yes and no.

Here's the text (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12):

9Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.
 10You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Video of Last Sunday's Sermon.  I re-preached last Sunday's sermon Tuesday to the camera since the recording didn't come out well on Sunday. I added a good deal of content to the Tuesday version since there were no time constraints and I wanted to give more background and answer some questions that came up on Sunday

Here's the video:

Men's Bible Study and Breakfast: Tom and Brian are scheduled to cook. We're almost through 1st Samuel. This Thursday we'll move into 24-25. Breakfast is served at 6:30am and the study starts at the same time. All men are welcome. 

Christian Education: Science and the Bible/Creation and Evolution.  We started this new series on Sunday and we'll continue it this coming Sunday with a discussion of naturalistic (or non-theistic) evolutionary theory. This will be a very basic presentation of the outlines of a very complex theory but there the essentials of Darwins theory are fairly simple. As we talk the underlying question, which we will try to get to, will be, can a Christian believe both scripture and Darwinian evolution without believing a contradiction.

Be sure to invite your friends and neighbors to church!

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