This weekend begins a “round” of three encounter retreats we’ll be taking believers through this Spring. Encounter retreats are amazing tools of God to reach into the heart of man and change that person forever. Central to the encounter retreat is a presentation of the Cross of Jesus, a vivid description of what He endured for us. All the freedom we know as Christians was purchased for us through His suffering, and to know and apply the victory of His Cross to our lives is pivotal. I recommend to every believer to attend one of these retreats; I haven’t had anyone regret having gone! This weekend is our college age retreat, there’s a men’s encounter April 4th-6th and a women’s encounter April 25th-27th. Do whatever you have to do to attend! I’m so excited about what the Lord will do in the lives of our college aged young adults this weekend! Pray for us! PB
Archive for February, 2008
All things living must grow. It’s just a fact that when we stop growing, life has reached its end. As a Christian this is a very important principle because it seems that when we’ve finished our initial burst of life at salvation many turn around and say, “What now?” There’s quite a bit “now,” actually. There’s the Lord Himself, the One we can never completely know in His entirety. Then there’s the deep principles of God’s Word. Then there’s living those out!
But the great task beyond those is the Great Commission coupled with the Great Commandment. We are called to grow in our accomplishment of those two “Greats.” The Great Commission is the Lord’s command to go into all the world and bring as many as would come, into God’s Kingdom. The Great Commandment is to love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. We grow in our understanding and skills in living those out. God helps us to become better and and wiser and deeper in loving God and loving our neighbor. Then the Life of God in our lives increases.
So if you feel less than full of life; ask God to grow you and then do the things that help you grow. Prayer. The Word. Worship. Action. PB
the report of a young pastor’s wife and her death by cancer. For some years now our leadership has been blessed by a loose connection with Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We’ve been affected by the great conferences held there and the church’s great example of good influence for the Gospel in their city and on the international mission field. The pastor of that church, Pastor Larry Stockstill, has two sons working with him in the ministry there, along with many other great leaders. The older of the two sons, Joel Stockstill, was married just three years ago to a wonderful young woman, Amy, who ministered so well beside him with the youth of Baton Rouge and the larger church body as Joel became the lead pastor there. Amy was diagnosed with cancer last summer and died just this past week at the age of 27. The news of such a thing, especially with a couple so young and with so much promise ahead of them. And it made me think. Are we all living our lives as if today might be the last one? We all have a number of days that the Lord has prescribed for us. There are no guarantees that we will all live to a ripe old age. Let’s live as if He is coming to get us and take us home tomorrow! And please keep the Stockstill family in your prayers… PB
Okay, now that it’s over I can tell you that since I was a kid I have rooted for the New York Giants. When you’re a pastor you don’t want to come out and say you’re for a specific team because there are people very dear to you who root for other sports teams and well, I wouldn’t want to offend them. But wow, wasn’t that an amazing game? I watched it at the Koelle’s house where my friend Scott (Mr. Techno Engineer) had set up a pull down screen and a hi-def video projection system, with surround sound, for the game. We had a great time, rooting, screaming, high fiving and cheering for the good old Giants. I’ll remember that night for a long time. Especially the Manning miracle escape play late in the game with the miracle catch off Tyree’s helmet. Wow…
And it made me think; are we all as excited about the Kingdom of God? Are we all fired up when someone comes to the Lord, when there’s victory in someone’s life, when a heart or a body are healed? Do we put as much effort into winning those battles as the Giants put into their great win? I think that our enemies try to tell us that we should be quiet about the One Who alone can change lives and hearts, the things that really matter. Can we, will we put our efforts and joy into the Lord’s work as much as one might for a sporting event? I think the answer is obvious, but walking that out is a struggle. Because for our offense there’s a defense against us and vice versa. Be determined that you won’t allow the enemy to keep you quiet or restricted in your love and service for God.
Hey, I had a great trip to Brownsville, Texas this past week! The picture I put here isn’t really fair; I only saw cactus off in a field of scrub brush. Brownsville is a thriving city of mostly hispanic people, being on the border with Mexico. I didn’t go down to see the sights, though, I went to spend time with our friends the Ordemans and their amazing church family. I love spending time with Pastor Bob, his wife Libby, and their senior leaders because they are really reaching their city for Jesus. The church has about 2,000 members and every week 25 to 35 people come to Christ in their services. They have a leadership development school called “Vision Academy” and I witnessed a graduation service for the end of a term, last Wednesday night. It was a real celebration! They, like us, have small groups meeting weekly for discipleship and outreach. There are many things that they do that contribute to great success in building God’s Kingdom, both in Brownsville and in Mexico, which they consider their prime mission field. But you know where their success really lies? It’s in their prayer life. Every day their staff gets together and prays for an hour. They pray together before services. They have monthly church wide prayer meetings and weekly early morning men’s prayer meetings. For the first three weeks of the year they have a 21 day fast and every week night they met as a church for prayer. No wonder! No wonder they see so much happening in the Spirit and have so many coming to the Lord! That’s the reason I went down, because I love these people and want what they have to rub off on all of us. But hey; do you hang out with people more mature in the Lord? Have you said to someone more mature, “please give me what you have?” It makes a huge difference as to how much and how fast you’ll grow! PB