Friday, June 22, 2018

William Carey: A Heart on Fire, by Pastor Charlie Handren

     Despite all odds, William Carey (1761-1834) developed a great burden for global missions when he was still a young man. Although he was a Baptist, he had come under the influence of the Moravians and had become convinced that his own denomination lacked passion for and commitment to both local and global evangelism.

     Shortly after he was ordained as a minister of the gospel, Carey shared his burden with some Baptist leaders. His plea was not well received. In fact, one of the older ministers interrupted his plea and rebuked him, saying, “Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.”
     This experience profoundly troubled Carey, and thus he began to pray about how he might articulate his thoughts so as to turn skepticism into passion, and complacency into sacrificial action. His passion was God’s passion, and nothing would be able to suppress it. To the contrary, the fire that had engulfed his heart would soon engulf much of the evangelical church in the West.
     As Carey prayerfully organized his thoughts, he came to write a little pamphlet entitled, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens. It was published on May 12, 1792 and many missiologists argue that it was the primary means God used to inspire the modern missionary movement. Not content with words alone, Carey also organized a missionary society and spoke these famous words at its inaugural meeting: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God!” Carey uttered these words as a Calvinist, and as one who believed that God ordains the means as well as the ends of missions.
     The editors of the periodical Christian History conclude, “His greatest legacy was in the worldwide missionary movement of the nineteenth century that he inspired. Missionaries like Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor, and David Livingstone, among thousands of others, were impressed not only by Carey’s example, but by his words, ‘Expect great things; attempt great things.’ The history of nineteenth-century Protestant missions is in many ways an extended commentary on the phrase” (William Carey at Christianity Today).
     Over the next eleven weeks, I’ll be writing a series of devotionals on his little pamphlet. I urge you to search for and read it. May the Lord use Carey to set our hearts on fire for his global mission in the world!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Why We Must Preach the Word, by Pastor Charlie Handren

     In his book, The Calling of the Ministry (Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA: 2002), William Perkins (1558-1602) gives a compelling argument for why pastors must preach the Word of God. Here he employs the word “angel” to mean “messenger,” which in the Greek language is its basic meaning. He writes: “You must understand your duty: prophets and ministers are angels; that is the very nature of their calling. Therefore, you must preach God’s Word, as God’s Word, and deliver it just as you received it. Angels, ambassadors, and messengers do not carry their own message, but the message of the lords and masters who sent them. Similarly, ministers carry the message of the Lord of hosts, and are therefore bound to deliver is as the Lord’s, not as their own" (85, emphasis mine).

     If Perkins is right, and I think he is, then the “Doctor Phil with Bible verses” method of preaching which is so popular among evangelical churches today seems a great danger for at least two reasons. First, it is disobedient to the God who commands his leaders to preach his Word for the glory of his name and the good of his people. Second, it is harmful to God’s people, for our souls are meant to be nourished by the words of our Father as they are preached by our shepherds in the power of the Holy Spirit.
     So instead of following the powerful tide in evangelicalism that is moving away from the straightforward preaching and teaching of the Bible, we ought to heed the simple and emphatic words of Paul to Timothy:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5, ESV

Friday, June 8, 2018

Wolves and the Word, by Pastor Charlie Handren

     Lately I’ve been re-reading a book by William Perkins entitled, The Art of Prophesying (Banner of Truth, Carlisle, PA: 2002). Perkins was a late sixteenth-century Puritan (1558-1602) who had an “enormous impact on generations of preachers” (foreword, vii). In the preface of the book he writes, “In keeping with its dignity, preaching has a two-fold value: (1) It is instrumental in gathering the church and bringing together all of the elect; (2) It drives away wolves from the folds of the Lord. Preaching is the flexanima, the allurer of the soul, by which our self-willed minds are subdued and changed from an ungodly and pagan life-style to a life of Christian faith and repentance. It is also the weapon which has shaken the foundations of ancient heresies, and also, more recently cut to pieces the sinews of the Antichrist.”

     I was particularly struck by the idea that one of the chief functions of preaching the Word of God is to drive away the wolves and shake the foundations of ancient heresies. If this is true, then the opposite is also true: when the church exchanges the Word of God for politics, right or left, or psychology or sociology or anything else, it invites the wolves into its fold and sooner or later they will kill their prey.
     So, how did the evangelical church come to distance itself from the straightforward preaching of the Bible in our day? The answer probably does not boil down to one factor, but I think that the main factor this: in the 1980s, much of the evangelical church exchanged the preaching of the Word of God for psychologically-based, felt-needs, topical messages. Instead of the Word of God being the meat of the church, it became the “book of quotes” that was used to prop up the points of the message and set up cute stories, alluring illustrations, and movie clips. And because the Word of God was not there to drive the wolves away, they have settled in and are sinking their teeth into their prey even as we speak.
     In this way, many evangelicals have become so biblically illiterate and theologically ignorant that they cannot even spot heresy, and what is worse, when they do, their souls do not grieve over it and their mouths do not war against it. In fact, they sometimes argue for it and prop it up with conferences, coalitions, and a variety of resources.
     O Beloved, how desperate a time is this? Let us not pit church growth against the Word of God but rather let us appeal to the lost by the Word of God. Let us feed the sheep, allure souls to worship, and drive the wolves away with that great Sword of the Spirit.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Glory of God and the Letter to the Hebrews, by Pastor Charlie Handren

     Gaining sight of the glory of Christ is the key to everything in life. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil [that covered Moses’ face] is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. [Freedom for what?] And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

     Christ set us free that we might see his glory, and that by seeing his glory we might be transformed into his image. This incremental dynamic is most often called sanctification, and it will come to its appointed end when those who believe in Jesus see him face to face. As the Apostle John wrote, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him [Jesus]. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he [Jesus] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:1-2).
     The unrestricted sight of the glory of Christ will radically transform our minds, hearts, and bodies so that we will become like the one we behold. We will never be Jesus, for he is God and we are not, but in some profound sense we who believe in Jesus will be like him when we are fully exposed to his glory.
     For now, the will of God is that we would behold more of the glory of Christ each day and thus become more like Christ each day. Each new advance in the comprehension of Jesus is custom designed by our Father to shape us into the image of Jesus.
     The primary way we gain a clearer sight of the glory of Christ is by meditating on the Word of God, not the least of which is the Letter to the Hebrews, for while this great letter is known for its theological depth and richness, that depth and richness is intended to help us see Jesus, worship Jesus, and become like Jesus.

     So I encourage you to listen carefully and prayerfully today as Mark Beck quotes the entire letter from memory. May the Lord inspire you to memorize as well, but more so, may he reveal his glory to you!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Global Missions, by Pastor Charlie

What is a People Group? 

For evangelistic purposes, a people group is the largest group within which the gospel can spread as a church planting movement without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance. An Unreached People Group is a people group within which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to evangelize this people group. 

How Many People Groups Are in the World? 
  • World Population: approximately 7.6 billion 
  • People Groups by Language: 10,900 
  • People Groups by Language and Ethnicity: 13,000 
  • People Groups by Language, Ethnicity, and Affinity: 24,000 
  • Unreached People Groups: 7,078 (41.6% of the population) 
How Shall We Reach Them?
We must proclaim the gospel by the power of God to the nations of the world in the following ways (developed by Dr. Ralph Winter): 

What Can We Do? 
  1. Pray to the Father in Jesus’ Name 
  2. Learn about Global Missions 
  3. Educate Others 
  4. Serve in Practical Ways 
  5. Give of Your Resources 
  6. Go to the Nations

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sermon Questions - May 20, 2018

I Have Overcome the World

John 16:25-33
May 20, 2018

Questions for Study and Meditation

  1. Read John 16:25-28. Why did Jesus speak to his own disciples in figures of speech (see Matthew 13:10-17)? When Jesus ceased to do so, why would this give release to the disciples’ life of prayer? What is the Father’s disposition toward the disciples? 
  2. Read John 16:29-33. When the disciples proclaimed their belief in Jesus, Jesus questioned their belief: why? How would the disciples soon treat Jesus and why? Where would this leave Jesus? What was Jesus’ motive in telling his disciples about their own behavior? 
  3. Using a study Bible (or Google if you must!), look up the Greek word for “overcome” in verse 33. What is its root meaning? What does this teach us about Jesus “overcoming” the world? How does this relate to the joy his disciples have in him? 
  4. What’s the most important thing you learned from the sermon and your personal study? 
  5. How has today’s message helped you to grow in love for God and others? 
  6. What is the most important thing Jesus would have you do in light of the message? 
  7. Take some time to worship Jesus. Thank him, praise him, and ask for his help as you seek to grow with others in faith, hope, and love.  

Announcements - May 20, 2018

Sunday School Schedule: Sunday school classes will meet today for the last time this school year. Thank you to all who taught in classes this school year. We’ll resume Sunday school in September. 

Celebrating Our Children and Honoring Our Grads: This is an all -church event on Wednesday, May 23 at Otsego Park from 6:00-8:00 p.m. where we will celebrate our children and honor our graduating seniors, the class of 2018. We are thankful for the next generation and our calling to pass on our faith to them. Please come out and support the teachers, parents, and students for their accomplishments in 2018. 

Special Pray Guide Available: There are copies at the global missions table of a pray guide to be used during Ramadan—May 15 to June 14. Feel free to take one and pray for many to hear the Good News and be saved! 

Transportation Need for New Refugee Family: A family in Elk River who recently arrived from Ukraine needs rides to get to English classes offered through Community Education at the Handke Center. We would like to find volunteers to drive them so they can at least attend English classes twice a week. Call Michelle Eberhard at Arrive Ministries if you want to help this family. Her number is 612-746-5661. 

Next Week’s Fighter Verse 
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 
Romans 12:17-19 (ESV)