Do y'all need to hear some good news today?
"The Gospel is the good news that the just and gracious Creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that everyone who turns from their sin and themselves and trusts in Jesus as Savior and Lord will be reconciled to God forever. " (p. 22 of the 2015 "Secret Church" study guide)
It is such a powerful time of study, prayer, and focus on the persecuted church. This year's focus was centered around the Christians in Vietnam who have to meet in secret to pray, worship, and study God's Word. Our brothers and sisters in Vietnam are continuing to need prayers for strength, boldness to share God's Word, perseverance when they are persecuted, more leaders to be trained, favor with the government (saved officials and the ability to be seen as beneficial), and so much more. If you feel so inclined, please add these items to your prayer list!
The theme of the study this year was "Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action". There are so many "hot button" issues in our culture today that create tension between Christians and unbelievers. Pastor David's study discussed a variety of issues and how we should respond as the church. Here are a few quotes, scriptures, and notes that I took from the study (it IS 6-hours, and 180 pages of study notes in the guide provided, so this is a smallllll portion):
"Today, the greatest challenge facing American evangelicals is not persecution from the world, but seduction by the world." -C.J. Mahaney (p. 7)
"I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church..." -Charles Spurgeon (p. 8)
"I cannot endure existence if Jesus is not glorified; it is hell to me, if he is always dishonored." -Henry Martyn
"Jesus' death satisfied the justice of God." (p. 29)
"If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth." -Tim Keller (p. 32)
"Hell is real. It is not a joke or a game: people saying, "Hell of a game!" or "Hell of a song!" have no idea."
"The gospel demands a decision... Will you turn from Jesus? Live without Christ now. Die without Christ forever. Or will you turn to Jesus? Die with Christ now. Live with Christ forever." (p. 34)
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Genesis 50:20
Do you think you have done something awful? Something unforgivable? Please know, we are NOT guilty anymore! "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (p. 41)
"The glory of God is the ultimate aim of marriage." (p. 100)
"Christianity is a religion for those who have blown it, and we all have blown it." (p. 130)
"Contemplate the price Christ paid for your purity. See Him writhing on a cross in agony. Fight tempting images with that image." (p. 132)
"God alone knows the definition of the terms [here]. I cannot precisely define who all the nations are, but I do not need to know. I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore, the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms; our responsibility is to complete the task. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission." -George Ladd (p. 159)
Y'all, there is so much goodness and knowledge and love and promise in this study, and I would type out the entire thing (if I knew y'all would read it, ha!). Please, please, if you have never ever heard of the promises and love of God and what His Son has done for us all, please let me know. I would love to start an e-mail chat with you on sharing what He has done in my life and how He is ready to be in yours. If you have heard of God/Christ/Holy Spirit before and are confused on what it means to be a follower of Christ, I would love to share with you!
For my Christian sisters (and brothers: do guys read my blog?), be bold and strong in your faith. Share what Christ has done in your life and how He can be a part of others' lives. As Mr. Ladd said above, until Christ returns, our work is not done. We are to speak boldly, truthfully, and with love. Stand firm with your church family. We can do this because Christ did it for us.
Love you guys! Have a great week!