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FWPD and Christmas Eve Plans

Paige Findley - December 07, 2017

PLEASE READ: Important info regarding Christmas Eve.

transcript of last night's devotional

DEVOTIONAL

Anyone know the three pillars of Restore?

sharing life together - living on mission - growing in truth

When South Church first began we wanted Restore to be considered the "front door" to our Church family. Rather than inviting friends or co-workers to Proclaim on Sunday mornings, we encouraged one another to invite them to Restore, into our homes in the evening, to meet other like-hearted, like-minded friends & family.

Every four to six weeks I would take a break from preaching expositorily through John's Gospel (at the time) and preach on a particular topic, usually having something to do with our vision & mission for ministry. Maybe the topic would cover "good stewardship of the resources God provides", or "family integration in worship", or "reaching the lost".

After preaching the topic, Restore families would discuss answers to the following questions over the next four to six weeks:

It was a wonderfully ambitious plan. We met a lot of people, we learned a lot about each other, and, by God's grace, we even reaped some low hanging fruit. (Joseph & Amanda Morrow at Highland Oaks. Praise God they've been South Church family ever since!)

But it wasn't long until we were spent, exhausted, in a bit of disarray, running on fumes.

We began to realize that our focus was on DOING, rather than BEING. I wanted so badly to be a part of a real, active, thriving church, and my pride certainly wanted our community to think of us that way.

In God's providence, we learned that, without a steady diet of Truth, we'd be running ourselves into the ground.

So, we shifted Restore a bit. Rather than a precedence of "Living on Mission", "Growing in Truth" became our focus. Applying Proclaim's passage was absolutely important, but we can't apply what we don't comprehend. It's really hard to live upon Truth we don't understand.

I'm impatient by nature, so this slower, crock-pot approach to ministry has been difficult at times. But looking back on it now, I think it's proving a much healthier, authentic one. There might be fewer testimonies about what "South Church" is doing in the community, but we're hearing of a lot more smaller yet significant ways God is working in & through our daily lives.

While I do believe this shift has been good, I don't want us to lose sight of the community God has called & is equipping us to reach. There are plenty of opportunities, lots of needs that can be met, lots of lost who need to hear the Good News that the Lord is growing us in at South Church.

So, linked in arms, let me remind us—especially at this time of year: Look outward for opportunities to witness of the good news of Jesus with your life & your lips.

How do we do that? Just what is our role in bringing Light to those in darkness, in bringing sight to the blind?

Let's look together at 1 Peter 1.22-25:

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for "All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever." And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Q: Looking at verse 22, what does Peter attribute "sincere brotherly love" to?
A: Our obedience to the Truth.

Q: What is Truth that we're obeying?
A: The Gospel.

Q: How do we obey the Gospel?
A: By FAITH in Christ, trusting what He has done for us: freeing us from sin, to life with Him!

Q: And what—are we told in v23—produced or caused our faith?
A: We were born again.

Q: And, according to v23, how did our being "born again" come about?
A: "Through the living & abiding word of God."
- Living: the Word is powerful, effective, causes things to happen.
- Abiding: the Word sustains what It brings to Life.

Q: So why do you think Peter quotes Is40.6-8 next?
A: The Word is NOT like grass that praises for a day, then fades. The Word is living & abiding.

Q: Lastly, according to v25, what was preached to us that brought us to & sustains our lives?
A: The Word of the Gospel.

Q: So what role do we play, South Church, in the regeneration of the lost in our community?

A: We proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ who became sin that we might become the children of God.

By God's grace, may we never become so ingrown, clique-ish, focused only on ourselves, "so heavenly minded that we're no earthly good." Truth be told, that doesn't actually happen. It's really just the opposite. We may be so earthly minded that we're no good for anyone?

"If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth 'thrown in': aim at earth and you will get neither." -CSLewis, Mere Christianity


PRAYER

After the devotional, we spent about 20 minutes in prayer, specifically focusing on the very families w/in our own homes; then focusing on our church family, outside our homes, as we live on mission together; then focusing on our pastors & planters: Matt, Bryson, Kyle, Dhan.


PRACTICE

After prayer, we spent some time discussing the possibility of hosting our first Christmas Eve Service now that we have a place to do so. However, continuing our outreach to the Hospital, EMTs & Fire Department is also something our Restore families want to continue. Someone observed that, since Christmas Eve is on a Sunday this year, it might be asking a lot for folks to come to Proclaim Sunday morning, serve in Restore, and attend a Christmas Eve Service that evening. No decision was made, but the elders & deacons will discuss things at this evening's joint meeting and I will get back to you with a decision ASAP.

For now, please make tentative plans to join us at Suite 100 for a Christmas Eve Service, time to be determined. During the service we're hoping to have children (ages 7 and older) sing "What Child Is This". Their first opportunity to practice together will be during this Saturday's Mother's Day Out lunch, scheduled from 11am to 2pm. In addition to practicing for the Christmas Eve Service, children will also make tree decorations, and enjoy lunch together.

If you skipped to the bottom of this blog, please at least back up a paragraph or two. Your perseverance is admirable :)

Yours by grace, pastor paige

Him we proclaim... that we may present everyone mature in Christ. -Colossians 1.28