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COMMON GROUND

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

COMMON GROUND

My friend Marty and I have never voted for the same person for President during an election year. He has been my friend for 34 years and 8 Presidential elections and we never vote for the same guy. When my guy is in office, Marty thinks the country is going to hell in a hand basket. I pretty much think the same thing when his guy is running things.

Marty is not my friend because we share the same political and social convictions, he is my friend in spite of them. Never once have these differences ever come between us. We met in Seminary, and I think we liked each other right away. Even now as we live on opposite ends of the country, when we do talk the book mark is taken from our friendship and we begin where we left off, with laughter being the usual theme that has always underscored our brotherhood.

I would have to say however our bond was solidified forever in a period of brokenness for both of us. For my part I had ruined my marriage, and a career I was born to. When many of my friends and colleagues, who by the way shared my same political and social convictions, didn’t want anything to do with me, it was a letter from Marty that re-assured me that I was loved and valued by him, and by the God we both loved and served. His note to me was like a hand reaching into the darkness that the Lord used to begin to lead me back into His light and restoration.

I think as a result, both of us have developed a deeper compassion for the brokenness of humanity, and that the love of God is the only comfort for a lost and broken world. It is on this common ground that Martin and I will always meet. We laugh with each other, and we cry with each other.

At this writing, our country is days away from choosing a president, even as a terrible storm devastates much of the Eastern portion of our nation.  It is my prayer that whoever is elected President, my guy or Marty’s guy, that compassion and understanding will be the prevailing theme for the time to come…that it will be our common ground as a Nation.

People and communities have been broken by this terrible storm and unfortunately, hopelessness is the fruit of the aftermath.  Those of us who find our common ground in Jesus Christ as Lord, as do Marty and I, may we lead the way in bringing Hope and compassion to all those who suffer. Let’s be that hand of Jesus in the darkness, bringing them into the light…as my friend Marty was for me.

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

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100 Fold

October 9, 2012 Leave a comment

 “…And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:8

100 FOLD

Growing in Christ has been one of our chief concerns as a Christian… who wouldn’t want to be more Christ-like? The question of how to grow in Christ has been addressed by every Pastor in every pulpit since the invention of Pastors and Pulpits. Many people, from Laymen to Theologians have studied and written books about it, hoping to come up with a concise step by step formula to help you and I be more like Jesus… I even own some of those books.

What we really are asking is, does our life bear the fruit of one who has been transformed by the love of Christ? Is the fruit of our repentance seen in us? If not, then how can we get there?

I think the real question is why aren’t we growing in Christ? As Human Beings God has designed our bodies to grow and thrive on its own given the proper health, nutrition and exercise. When our physical body isn’t bearing the fruit of good health we want to know why. I believe all who are Spiritually Born Again in Christ Jesus have it with in them to bare much fruit for the Kingdom of God, it’s what we were designed by God to do. When that doesn’t happen, we need to ask why.

In the Parable of the Sower Jesus illustrates why some seeds grow, flourish, and yield a bountiful harvest, and why some do not. I believe the parable of the sower holds for us the secret for our Spiritual Success. The seed’s fruitfulness depends on the condition of the soil. Our growth in Christ depends on the condition of our heart. A heart that is receptive to the Word of God yields a harvest that can measure to thirty, sixty and a hundred fold.

This month we will begin an indept study of the parable of the sower called “100 Fold.” Each Sunday we will look at different aspects of the parable to discover greater fruitfulness in Christ. There will be a personal study guide made available to help each person examine their own walk with the Lord. Hopefully it will be an opportunity for us all to look at some key issues that may have been keeping us from experiencing all that God has for us in Him.

It is my prayer that as we open ourselves to what the Lord is teaching us in this simple story, we will indeed experience a bountiful harvest… not just in our own personal lives but in the First Baptist Church as a whole. I look forward to walking with you as we walk alongside…the sower who went out to sow some seed, and as he sowed…

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

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