Willing to Try

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Willing to Try
July 8, 2020

Read: Numbers 13:1-3, 17-33

Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it. (v. 30)

The story of the spies is so applicable to today. The new land God was leading his people to was beautiful, abundant, and rich. It was also filled with trials, trouble, and temptations. Most of the spies were having none of it. “We can’t do it,” they said. But Caleb and Joshua saw something else. They saw opportunities. More important, as Moses’ aide, Joshua would have known that God had already promised it. “Let’s go!”

I could probably write a book containing some of my wildest ideas for ministry, outreach, fundraising, and community. Sometimes we pastors come up with some pretty weird ideas that might be a little hard to understand. Here’s what I need you to know: first, we share your desire to see our churches thrive, and second, ministry is increasingly difficult. “Doing church” is not an easy endeavor, and what worked even as recently as five years ago will likely not have the same impact today.

One of the things I love about my church is that our people are willing. One of our sayings used to be: “If you’re going to fail . . . fail big.” We have done exactly that. We’ve lost a lot of money on some new things. But we’ve also launched some really innovative ministries and connections to our community that we otherwise wouldn’t have done. Be willing to try new things. God is still the same! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, release the fear of new things to our unchanging God.

Mentoring

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Mentoring
July 7, 2020

Read: 2 Timothy 2:1-13

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. (v. 2)

A book I read about President Harry S. Truman described the moment President Franklin D. Roosevelt died and Truman ascended to the presidency. Roosevelt, despite numerous health concerns, never really included his vice president in discussions, leaving Truman out of the loop. The day he was sworn into office, Truman said, “I felt as though the moon and the stars and all the planets fell on me last night when I got the news.” With everything that was happening in the world at the time, even that may have been an understatement.

Paul wrote to Timothy with his own death in mind. Notice that he wasn’t just preparing Timothy to lead, but also had in mind those whom Timothy would entrust the gospel to. It was essential in the age of persecution that leaders have others prepared to step in and carry the faith. It is still essential today.

It is easier to do things by ourselves. Inviting others to join us in our ministries takes effort, patience, and the humility to know not only that someone might do things differently than I will, but that they also might do it better! Further, the ongoing mission of the gospel depends on our willingness to pass the torch. Who are you investing yourself in and encouraging in the faith? When we say that the church has to reach the next generation, that’s on each of us! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, seek the courage to invest in another person.

Do No Harm!

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 27

July 6, 2020

Do No Harm!

I don’t like restrictions. They annoy me. Yes, it is annoying that our climate of social distancing precludes us from reaching out and hugging one another. Yes, I miss leaning on a lunch counter and enjoying a diner meal. I even resent having to speak to the owner of the deli through plastic sheeting. And yet, I do all of these things because the last thing that I wish to do is to contract, and carry, Covid-19 to another person. I was taught that “do no harm” applies to every aspect of life. Those of us who strive to be obedient to Jesus, have an extra obligation to “do no harm.” Jesus warned the people that he interacted with that there are heavy consequences when we harm other people. For those in the Christian faith community, we have not just an obligation to “do no harm” but also to be obedient to Jesus.

It galls me, therefore, when groups, who claim to be disciples of Jesus, don’t take this ethic seriously. When I read in the media of large congregations meeting, despite local laws, and challenging these laws of distancing, I get angry. When I hear people, who claim to be Christian, insisting that they can ignore best practices because “God will protect them,” I bristle and wish that I could do something to confront them. When Christians act like this they put God to the test; something that the Bible tell us is wrong.

I hope that those without faith, when they see such reckless behavior, and actions that put God to the test, do not lump all of us Christians together. Most of us as individuals, as well as denominations, do not put God to the test. Most of us act responsibly for the sake of protecting our neighbors. This honors God.

Please, if you ever meet such people, ask them to mask and socially distance for the sake of others. Ask them in the name of Jesus, to stop putting God to the test. These are serious matters that effect our neighbors as well as our relationship to God. Please, please, please, let us do no harm and let us never put God to the test.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Donoharm

#TestingGod

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

No Haga ningún daño!

Lunes Reflexiones Ministeriales
Por el reverendo Mark William Ennis
Blog Número 27
July 6, 2020
No Haga ningún daño!

No me gustan las restricciones. Me molestan. Sí, es molesto que nuestro clima de distanciamiento social nos impida tender la mano y abrazarnos unos a otros. Sí, echo de menos apoyarme en un mostrador de almuerzo y disfrutar de una comida de comedor. Incluso me molesta tener que hablar con el dueño de la delicatessen a través de láminas de plástico. Y sin embargo, hago todas estas cosas porque lo último que quiero hacer es contratar, y llevar, Covid-19 a otra persona. Me enseñaron que “no hacer daño” se aplica a todos los aspectos de la vida. Aquellos de nosotros que nos esforzamos por ser obedientes a Jesús, tenemos la obligación adicional de “no hacer daño”. Jesús advirtió a las personas con las que interactuó que hay fuertes consecuencias cuando dañamos a otras personas. Para aquellos en la comunidad de la fe cristiana, no sólo tenemos la obligación de “no hacer daño”, sino también de ser obedientes a Jesús.

Por lo tanto, me agallas cuando los grupos, que dicen ser discípulos de Jesús, no se toman en serio esta ética. Cuando leo en los medios de comunicación de grandes congregaciones reuniéndome, a pesar de las leyes locales, y desafiando estas leyes de distanciamiento, me enojo. Cuando escucho a personas, que dicen ser cristianas, insistiendo en que pueden ignorar las mejores prácticas porque “Dios las protegerá”, me cerdo y deseo que pueda hacer algo para enfrentarlas. Cuando los cristianos actúan así ponen a Prueba a Dios; algo que la Biblia nos dice que está mal.

Espero que aquellos sin fe, cuando vean tal comportamiento imprudente, y acciones que ponen a Dios a prueba, no nos agrupen a todos los cristianos. La mayoría de nosotros como individuos, así como las denominaciones, no ponemos a prueba a Dios. La mayoría de nosotros actuamos responsablemente por el bien de proteger a nuestros vecinos. Esto honra a Dios.

Por favor, si alguna vez conoces a esas personas, pídeles que se enmascare y se aleriga socialmente por el bien de los demás. Pídales en el nombre de Jesús, que dejen de poner a Prueba a Dios. Estos son asuntos serios que afectan a nuestros vecinos, así como nuestra relación con Dios. Por favor, por favor, por favor, no hagamos daño y nunca pongamos a prueba a Dios.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                 #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch

#PastorMarkAuthordotcom                                    #BergenfieldNJ

#BergenCountyNJ                                                   #Donoharm

#TestingGod

Para leer más de los escritos del Pastor Mark, por favor ordene una copia de su libro:https://deepriverbooks.com/books/the-circle-of-seven/

Welcoming

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Welcoming
July 5, 2020

Read: Matthew 5:43-48

And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? (v. 47)

Disneyland is known as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” They offer more than rides. They offer an experience. Everything that happens there is part of the plan to give you that experience of happiness. In a Forbes magazine article, communication specialist Carmine Gallo describes the process Disney uses in order to train their employees to be “Assertively Friendly.” They will go the extra step to extend themselves to you before you ask for help.

Think about the message of the gospel. It’s a message of radical reconciliation and hospitality. That we were once alienated but now have been granted access to God himself is the ultimate act of hospitality. With that in mind, how out of place is it for anyone in a church not to offer radical hospitality ourselves? The ministry of Christ’s church must be congruent with the message.

I get it. We want to talk to our friends and get caught up on life. We are drawn to those we know because it’s just more comfortable to be in our social circles. But remember the first time you came to your church and how out of place you might have felt. But more than that, remember how Christ extended himself to you, and offer yourself to others as a preview of that message to those about to hear it. In a cold and impersonal world, hospitality is one of our most powerful means of sharing good news! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, praise God for his hospitality to you by grace.

Available

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Available
July 4, 2020

Read: Romans 12:9-21

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (v. 10)

President John F. Kennedy visited the NASA space center shortly after declaring his goal of putting a man on the moon. He was asking different employees about their jobs when he came upon a man carrying a broom sweeping a hallway. “What are you doing? What’s your job?” Kennedy asked. “Well, Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon!” the man replied before resuming his duties. He understood his small but important role in a much bigger project. There are unknown or often unrecognized tasks but no unimportant ones!

I serve with some incredibly gifted people in my smaller church, and I love what they bring to the ministry. But the people who make it work are the ones who will do whatever it takes to make it work. You won’t often find these people’s names on the back of the bulletin, but you’ll find them in the “Frequently Contacted” file on my phone.

“You can’t serve where you’re gifted until you’re willing to serve where you’re needed.” I learned that phrase from Ned Beadel, my predecessor at our church, and it rings in my mind when I catch myself thinking that the lead pastor at the church shouldn’t be moving tables or vacuuming floors. Our passage for today reminds us that while we give honor to each other, what we are truly doing in that moment is serving the Lord. You might think you’re only cleaning a bathroom. You’re bringing the kingdom of God! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, ask God to keep your heart open to serving anywhere.

Gifted

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Gifted
July 3, 2020

Read: Romans 12:1-8

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them. (v. 6)

I was once the volunteer parent in one of my children’s preschool classes. I helped set up the room, assisted the kids with their work, helped them read, and led their daily craft. It was three hours of noise, energy, and controlled chaos. At the end, the teacher was ready for the rest of her day. I took a three-hour nap. She was made for what she did . . . I was fulfilling my parental duty.

Watching people serve the church in their giftedness brings a pastor so much joy. People who serve where they are gifted are energized. The more they give, the more they get. Those who don’t serve at all or those who aren’t in the sweet spot of giftedness will struggle to be effective and lack joy.

God has given each Christian at least one spiritual gift to be used. It is the responsibility of every believer to discover and use their gifts for several reasons: First, it is an act of worship to God (v. 1). Second, you are where you are by God’s design, and you are there to serve as he created you to serve (v. 4). Third, we belong to each other. When one believer doesn’t serve as God designed, everyone is affected (v. 5). If you don’t know where you’re gifted, start serving! If that doesn’t help, ask your pastor. I always welcome a call from someone looking to learn where they should get involved! —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance concerning your giftedness.

A Theologian

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

A Theologian
July 2, 2020

Read: 1 Corinthians 2:6–3:4

But we have the mind of Christ. (v. 16)

Former professional basketball player Allen Iverson once did a press conference where he repeatedly questioned why people were bothered that he missed a practice: “I’m supposed to be the franchise player and we’re in here talking about practice.” Is what happens during the day not as important as what happens when the lights and cameras are on and the crowds are there?

Most Christians know that regular Bible study is a critical part of our faith. We even say that we “practice Christianity” as part of our identity. But what does that mean? Whenever one thinks about God, he or she is engaging in theology. However, many people I talk to consider the pastor the real theologian of the church, and the main event of the week is when he or she preaches the Word of God in a sermon on Sunday morning. As a result, few are excelling in theology.

Research is showing a general decline in biblical understanding among Christians. Today’s passage connects an untrained mind to division in the Corinthian church, leading to disaster. Yes, it is the pastor’s job to faithfully teach and preach. But it is your job to practice theology through the week. What are you doing to allow God to transform your mind? Are you studying God’s Word diligently? Are you reading books that bring light to God’s Word? As American missionary E. Stanley Jones said, “If you don’t make up your mind, your unmade mind will unmake you.” —Joel Plantinga As you pray, commit your mind to studying the truth about God.

Essential

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Essential
July 1, 2020

Read: Ephesians 4:1-16

. . . to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. (v. 12)

“Here is the church, here is the steeple, open the door and here are the people!” I learned this fun little activity as a kid, locking my hands together to create a classic-looking church, raising my pointer fingers as a steeple, and then turning open and wiggling my remaining fingers to show people moving around inside.

Over time, many have come to see the pastor as the hub and leader of church life, responsible for its growth and well-being. John Maxwell says that “everything rises and falls with leadership.” Leadership is important, but what is “everything”? And what is a leader without a core of committed and Christlike people who share in the mission of the church?

Today’s Scripture reminds us that an equipped saint is the catalyst for a built-up body of Christ. We, Paul wrote, are to grow up in every way into Christ, to whom we are all joined and held together, bringing growth and increased love. The pastor works behind the scenes to equip people to do the critical work of ministry. Over 20 years of ministry, I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with some of the most amazing saints who have made ministry work in some incredible ways. Through this series, I hope to inspire and inform you to be and do the same in your churches for the glory of God. —Joel Plantinga

As you pray, ask God to open your heart and mind to serve as he desires.

Walk in Armor

Our new daily devotional will be a re-post from Words Of Hope. We re-post this with permission of Words of Hope. God bless you!

Walk in Armor
June 30, 2020

Read: Ephesians 6:10-23

Put on the whole armor of God. (v. 11)

Of all my experiences with Words of Hope global teams, nothing compares to the first time I saw a person oppressed by demons in Uganda. Assuming I would know what to do, a leader asked me to help. I froze like a soldier in battle never trained to use his weapon. I had exactly zero seminary courses on how to cast out a demon!

Paul does not mince words. We are at war with cosmic, dark, and spiritual forces of evil. Sometimes that war is with an evil we can see. But the devil’s schemes are often more subtle: the lure of material wealth, the opportunity for political power, or all manner of secret lusts. Evil is unrelenting. We better be dressed for battle from head to toe and ready “in all circumstances” (v. 16). This can feel weighty, but notice that none of the “armor” is literal weaponry. Each piece is something we already have. We simply “put on” what God has given us in Christ. This was the lesson I learned from the Ugandans.

What did I need to confront that demon? Not physical strength or supernatural charismatic utterances. The Spirit’s sword is God’s Word. My brother in Christ calmly spoke the truth of God’s Word into the person’s life in the name of Jesus. After some time and persistence, the convulsive evil departed and peace fell on the person. God’s Word overcomes the evil we can see and the evil schemes we cannot. The war is real. Walk in God’s armor today. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to prepare you for today.

The Friendly Church