I’m excited about spiritual growth taking place in your lives. Many of you are growing in knowledge and in practical vision for serving God and others … even as you experience personal challenges. You are a beautiful testimony to God’s faithfulness and power. The Elder Board has been enriched by interviews with several of you regarding your spiritual “SHAPE” (gifting for ministry). We are continuing to process those interviews and invite others who attended the 301 class this spring to meet with us.
Just as we recently worked our way on Sunday mornings through the New Testament letter of 1 Peter with its theme of “Faith in the Face of Suffering,” so this Sunday we’re going to begin a 4-week survey of the letter of 2 Peter whose theme is “Faith in the Face of Falsehood.” Peter’s second letter takes on the false teaching that was all around in his day and still is in ours.
Typically, false teachers and false teachings can be recognized by the following four or five characteristics :
new and unusual interpretations of Bible passages
some other, non-biblical, source of authority
another, different kind of, Jesus
Jesus as a demi-god
Jesus as a prophet only
Jesus as someone other than God Incarnate
an approach of needing to do “good works” in order to attain salvation and eternal life
a strong, charismatic leader.
The theme of 2 Peter is found in verse 3:17 – “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your stability” (NASB). Another version of the Bible puts it this way : “But you, friends, are well-warned. Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these lawless and loose-talking teachers” (Message).
So, we’re calling our 2 Peter series “Keeping Your Balance.” We want to be alert to false teachers and keep our balance in our spiritual journey ! Verse 18 of chapter 3 follows up by saying this : “Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.” That’s what we hope to do in the next few weeks ! Hope you’ll be there on Sunday mornings at 10:15.
Half-Day of Prayer
Prayer is an essential element of everything we do at Emmanuel. From God’s guidance (subject of last week’s sermon) to witnessing (subject of our adult 401 class this month), prayer keeps us connected to God and each other for life and ministry. Sometimes visitors ask why such good things are happening at Emmanuel. There may be a number of reasons for that, but our half-days and full days of prayer have certainly been critical for maintaining a unified vision of God and fruitful ministry. The same will be true this coming Monday from 4 – 8 pm. Please plan on coming for an hour or part of an hour. While our focus will be on prayer for our witness to spiritually needy people in our lives and world, we will also pray for all kinds of needs that are on your heart. Please plan on experiencing this special time together next Monday. Your part is important. We’ve moved the time to late-afternoon / early-evening to accommodate those of you who work during the day.
Interested in church membership ?
We’re going to host our Adult 101 class, “Discovering Christ and the Church,” starting Sunday, June 1, at 9:00 a.m. This is a great introduction to God’s Church and, specifically, to Emmanuel. It’s our membership course, so if you’re interested in finding out more about Emmanuel or how to become a member at Emmanuel, we invite you to join us. In order to make arrangements for nursery care and a room to meet in, it would be helpful if you let me know if you’re planning to attend. Thank you. The Gospel of John class for adults will also resume in June.
Prayer for Pastor Jeff
Pastor Jeff and Allison have done a terrific job of growing an enthusiastic ministry for young people and young families. Next Tuesday, Jeff will be taking another important step in his ministry journey. Jeff will be meeting before a board of Evangelical Free Church pastors, along with Al Frank, our Central District representative in Missouri, as a step toward receiving his ministry license with the Evangelical Free Church of America. Licensing is a first step toward ordination in the EFCA, a part of the credentialing process whose purpose is :
to affirm God’s call upon Jeff’s life
to verify that he meets the qualifications and standards for ministry in the EFCA
to officially approve him for ministerial service under the auspices of the EFCA
to provide legal status in the exercise of his ministry.
Jeff has written a paper explaining his doctrinal views with regard to the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church. He will defend his paper before questions from that board of pastors this coming Tuesday morning. Please be in prayer for Jeff through this process. Thank you.
A part of Jeff’s vision for our young people this past year has been the development of small groups for youth, somewhat similar to our Sticky Groups for adults. Several of our students have been involved in these Ignite groups this year. Last night, I just finished one school year of working with a group of 14-year-old men who make up one of the Ignite groups. What a hoot that was … and what a stretching experience for me ! Those guys can talk (!) … and know things going on in the world that I know nothing about ! They can put away the food, as a bucket of chicken and two pounds of french fries proved again last night ! Each one has a genuine longing for the Lord and a growing understanding of why we follow Him. Their praying ranges from prayers for a close friend … to prayers for the families of passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight recently lost … to prayers for the NFL draft tonight. (Not quite – I told them such prayers had to be limited to salvation of the players, not just praying for their favorite team to get a good player.) These guys are works-in-progress (as are the guys and girls in other Ignite groups), but we should be proud at Emmanuel – and thankful to God – because of gifted, growing young people. Please be attentive to needs for more workers in youth and young family ministry. A team of “go-fers” for Jeff is on our wish list – people who would be willing to track down the supplies often needed, run photocopies, help set-up and break-down on youth nights at the church. Let Jeff know if you have a gift for serving in that way. Thank you !
Hope to see you Sunday !