Saturday, August 25, 2012

One small step for man...but what about the Good News?

A true American Patriot, Neil Armstrong, died today.  Decades ago he put the first human footprint on the surface of the moon.  I bet most everyone in Northern Michigan has heard his now immortal words, 

"This is one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."  

Yet, over 2,000 years ago on a hillside just outside the walls of Jerusalem, the God-Man, Jesus Christ, died on a cross paying the penalty for the sin of the world and today there remain thousands of people in Northern Michigan that have yet to hear the Good News!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Daily Double

We now have just 2 Sundays left here at Gaylord E-Free before we add an additional Contemporary Service to our Sunday morning worship schedule.  We have put all of the logistical information out for our church family to know.  But to ensure that everyone is up to date and how things will work, we are going to take the next 2 Sunday mornings to explain it all and prepare our hears for this through a 2-week mini-series called "Daily Double" that will have a JEOPARDY game show feel to it.

Along with giving all of the logistical information, this Sunday we will also revisit the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His disciples (and ultimately to we who are His followers today) before He ascended back into heaven.  This is the ultimate reason that we are adding another service.  Matthew 28:19-20 says,

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Below are some questions for you to consider that we will answer about this passage on Sunday:

What is the one main verb in the Great Commission?

What are the three participles in the Great Commission?

What is the purpose of a participle in grammar?

How do we see the need for ENERGY in the Great Commission?

In Mark 16:15 (another passage where Jesus gives the great commission) - what is the first step of energy that the disciples needed to take to accomplish the Great Commission?

How do we see the need for EVANGELISM in Matthew's account of the Great Commission?

In Mark 16:15, what is the only message that is part of the Great Commission that needs to be shared?

Read 1 Corinthians 9:22 - How does the word "saturation" fit into evangelism?

How do we see the need for EDUCATION in Matthew's account of the Great Commission?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A MAP for Evangelism

In First Corinthians 9:19-22 we see Paul's passion for evangelism.  Juts look at some of his words:

"Though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all so that I may win more!" (v19)

"To the Jews I became a Jew so that I might win Jews!" (v20)

"To those who are under the Law, as under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law!" (v20)

"To those who are without law, as without law so that I might win those who are without law!" (v21)

"To the weak I became weak that I might win the weak!" (v22)

"I have become all things to all men so that I may be all means save some!" (v22)

Look at the words that are repeated:

"That I may win" (v19)

"That I may win" (v20)

"That I may win" (used a second time in v20)

"That I might win" (v21)

"That I might win" (used a second time in v21)

There seems to be a common denominator for all of Paul's actions, doesn't there?

And look at the one word that is repeated just in the last part of verse 22:

"ALL things"

"ALL men"

"ALL means"

So if you want to wrap up the whole passage you could say that Paul gives us "A MAP" for evangelism.  The re are four letters in the words "A MAP" and each one of them stands for a word used in making an acronym.  In First Corinthians 9:19-22, Paul gives us "A MAP" for Evangelism which is to win

A = As

M = Many

A = As

P = Possible

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Children's Ministry Beginning September 9

Beginning on September 9 we will be adding an additional Contemporary Service to our Sunday mornings here at the Gaylord E-Free Church.  Our first Contemporary Service will begin at 9:00am and our second service will begin at 10:30am.  Nursery ministry through age 3 will be provided during both services.  During the 9:30 service we will have our Children’s Sunday School taking place while during the 10:30 service we will have our Kidz Church happening.  Below are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding how our children’s ministry will work beginning September 9:

Will the children continue to start in the worship service, being dismissed to the children’s areas prior to the message?

No!  All children through grade 4 will have a program for the entire morning which will begin at the start of each service time.  If you will be attending an Adult Class as well as the Worship Service, your children will be taken care of the entire morning.

Where will I take my children when I arrive at church?

No matter what service you are attending
Infant through age 3 are checked-in at main nurseries
Ages 4 through Grade 4 are checked-in at the gym

Where will I pick up my children after the service is completed?  

No matter what service you are attending:
Infant through age 2 are picked up at the main nurseries.
Age 3 are picked up at Room C-5 
Ages 4 through Grade 4 are picked up at the gym

Who should drop off and pick up children?  

Because we value your child’s safety and security, ALL children infant through grade 4 must be checked-in and picked-up by a parent or guardian or another individual pre-approved by our Children’s Ministry Leaders.

Is it possible to sit together as a family in the worship service?  

Any parent who prefers is welcome to keep their children with them in the worship service.  Realize, however, that children who are with their parents in the service will need to stay with their parents for the entire service.  Because all classes for grades 5-12 are during the 9am service, it is still possible for each member of a family to sit together during the 10:30 service.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Two Service Times Beginning September 9

Beginning on September 9 we will be adding an additional Contemporary Service to our Sunday mornings here at the Gaylord E-Free Church as we continue our efforts to meet as many people as possible right where they are at so that we can move them closer to where God wants them to be.  We will also continue to have our Classic Service as well.  Our first Contemporary Service along with our Classic Service will begin at 9:00am.  Our second Contemporary Service will then begin at 10:30am.  Below is the schedule for each service and the rooms where each will be meeting in our facility:

Contemporary Service (Gospel Center)
Classic Service (Chapel)
Nursery (Infant-Age 3)
Children’s Sunday School (Age 4-grade 4)
Grade 5-6 Girl’s Class (C-2)
Grade 5-6 Boy’s Class (C-3)
Grade 7-8 Class (C-6)
Grades 9-12 (C-4, Hospitality Room)
Dean & Sara Gapinski Life Group (B-10) 
Ladies Beth Moore Study with Rae Jean Belt (B-11) 
Real Relationships with Ryan & Carrie Sharpe (B-12) 
Men’s Class with Eddie Thrasher (B-16) 

Contemporary Service (Gospel Center)
Nursery (Infant-Age 3)
Kid Church (Age 4-grade 4)
College Career with Pastor Newell (C-4, Hospitality)
Ladies Beth Moore Study with Kim Robinson (B-11) 
Revelation Class with Pastor Joe Sereno (B-12)
Son Catchers with Pastor Jim (C-15, Behind Chapel) 
Momentum Class with Pat Scott (B-16) 
Marriage Mentoring with Jack Dutton (B-15)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Letting the Arrow SOAR!

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth." 
Psalm 127:3-4

We have reached a very cool and rewarding stage of life as parents.  We are being able to watch our kids soar.  Our son, Jonathan, is now officially back at Liberty University for his Junior year as a Worship Arts Major.  It is such a thrill to see his passion for music and for leading worship grow stronger each day.

Our daughter, Joy, who just graduated as an Elementary Education Major from Liberty University last spring, is busily preparing for her first year of teaching.  Incidentally, you should see the tree that she made in her room with the help of her brother and mother.  It is a 3-D tree that goes from the floor to the ceiling which she will be using as her reading center.  It's awesome.  She is going to be such a great teacher.

I like the fact that the Bible compares our children to arrows.  What is an arrow made and fashioned to do?  It is created to soar.  It may stay in an archer's quiver for a while, until the time is right, but if it stays in the quiver forever, it never accomplishes its created purpose.  Our kids have been in our "quiver" for two decades.  Now, it's time to let them soar.

But follow the analogy just a bit further.  For the arrow to soar, the archers (in this case, we as parents) play a vital role.  The archer must point the arrow in the right direction and release it at just the right time - not too soon but not too late.

For the past 20+ years we have been pointing Joy and Jonathan in the right direction. Now is the right time to release the string.  Now is the time to let them soar.  And as a result, just like an archer can rejoice when his arrow hits the target, so we can watch our kids embark upon the next stage of their lives, fulfilling the very thing God created them to do, and as we watch them soar and as we see them hit their targets, we can smile and and we can most certainly rejoice!

Thank you, Lord.  It is true.  Children are a gift from You!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fruit concerning OURSELVES

Sunday we will be looking at the "fruit of the Spirit" here at the Gaylord E-Free Church.  Over the last two postings I have briefly defined two categories of fruit that I called the fruit that deals with the OMNIPOTENT (love, joy and peace) and the fruit that deals with OTHERS (patience, kindness and goodness).  Today I would like to finish the definition of the fruit of the Spirit looking at the third category, the fruit that deals with OURSELVES (faithfulness, gentleness and self-control):


This fruit speaks of our remaining loyal to the Lord with a confident assurance that causes us to act on the Word of God.  Paul told Timothy that the number one quality of a steward is to be found "faithful" or "trustworthy."  The last time that I saw my Grandpa Distler before he died, his final words to me were "Don't ever give up on the Lord."  He was speaking of faithfulness which is a natural by-product of a life that is lived walking by the Spirit.


This word is often translated "meekness."  It speaks of "power under control."  There really is no exact English equivalent.  It combines strength and gentleness together.  It can be seen in our being teachable to the Word of God and in how we show consideration to others.  Like all the other fruit, it is a natural by-product of a life lived walking by the Spirit.


This speaks of self-restraint.  This is the ability to show restraint when it comes to the desires of the flesh.  Paul used this word in describing the athlete who competes for the prize.  This athlete shows self-control to avoid anything that could hinder them from winning the competition.  When we walk by the Spirit we will show self-control toward anything and everything that could hinder us from reaching our redemptive potential as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fruit concerning OTHERS

Sunday we will be looking at the "fruit of the Spirit" here at the Gaylord E-Free Church.  Yesterday I
defined the first category of fruit that I called the fruit that deal with the OMNIPOTENT (love, joy and peace).  Today I would like to give a brief definition of the next 3 "fruit of the Spirit" that are the fruit that deal with OTHERS.  Here they are:


This simply speaks of the ability to stay under control for a long period of time without lashing out in anger or in frustration.  This is speaking about having patience with people.  If I were to connect patience with a real fruit it would be the "ugli fruit."  Have you ever seen one of those?  They are horrid looking but when you peel it and eat it there is a nice sweet taste to it.  The logo of the "ugli fruit" is this, "The beauty is in the eating."  If you just look at it you will always frown but if you taste it you will see how good it is.  Many people today try to avoid patience because James tells us that trials produce patience.  The erroneous thought is that if you pray for patience, God will send you trials.  Folks, the beauty of patience is in the tasting of it.  You are going to experience trials.  There is no getting around that.  As a result, you will need patience so you might as well ask God for it!  It is a natural by-product of walking by the Spirit.


This word speaks of a gracious, kind and gentle response to others, even those who don't deserve it.  Kindness looks for ways that it can make the lives of others easier.  This is what Jesus meant when He told us to do good to those who are our enemies.


This speaks of moral excellence and generosity.  It is somewhat rare as the word is used only 4 times in the entire New Testament.  Showing moral and spiritual excellence is a natural by-product of walking by the Spirit.  Being generous is a natural by-product of walking by the Spirit.  In fact, in the very next chapter (Galatians 6) Paul will tell us to do good to all men - especially those who are of the household of faith.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fruit concerning the OMNIPOTENT

Yesterday I introduced the "fruit of the Spirit" seen in Galatians 5:22-23, which we will be studying this Sunday here at E-Free Church in Gaylord, Michigan.  Over the next three postings I would like to briefly define each of these fruit by dividing them into three categories.

The first category is what I call the fruit that deals with the "Omnipotent."  That is simply a big word for God.  The first 3 fruit primarily deal with our relationship with God.  I am just giving a brief definition of each to help you in preparing your heart and your mind for this Sunday's message:


This is a word that means far more than simple "feelings."  This is a word that describes a self-sacrificial love.  This kind of love takes the spotlight off of self and puts it on someone else.  First and foremost, this is a love that is directed toward God.  One day Jesus was stopped by the religious leaders of His day who were trying to trap him with a question.  They asked Him, "Which is the greatest commandment?"  Keep in mind that at that time there were over 600 commandments and religious leaders themselves disagreed on which one was the most important.  Jesus didn't even have to hesitate.  He answered that the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  When you walk by the Spirit, loving God becomes a natural by-product of your life.  And it doesn't stop there at all.  Jesus went on to say that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.  He even went on to say that we should love our enemies.


Most people confuse joy with happiness but they are not the same.  Happiness is a temporary feeling based on our circumstances.  Joy is not a feeling.  Joy is an inner contentment.  Joy is not dependent on my circumstances.  Joy has everything to do with who I am in Christ - that never changes.  I will never be happy when circumstances are negative.  But I can have joy even when the bottom falls out of my life.  That is why Nehemiah said that "the joy of the Lord is my strength."  That is why Pail could command us to "Rejoice always and again I say rejoice!"


Like joy, peace is not an absence of turmoil.  It is not based on my circumstances.  This is a peace that comes from God and is impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it.  It is this peace which, even in the most difficult times of life, will guard our hearts (our feelings) and our minds (our thinking) in Christ Jesus.  It has everything to do with my relationship with God and is a natural by-product of a life that is lived walking by the Spirit.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eat all the fruit you want!

Last Sunday and this Sunday we are concluding our "Walk This Way" series in Galatians 5 as we learn together what it means to "walk by the Spirit" so we do not "carry out the desire of the flesh."  Remember, as believers in Jesus we have two natures.  Our old nature is one that we have had since we were born.  This nature is bent on sinning and following the desires of our flesh.  Our new nature we received when we trusted Christ to be our Savior.  It is bent on obeying God and walking by the Spirit.  These two natures are in constant conflict within us.  The old nature wants us to follow the desires of the flesh.  The nature wants us to walk by the Spirit.

Paul ends Galatians 5 by contrasting what it looks like when we follow our old nature versus what it looks like when we follow our new nature.  When we follow our old nature it produces what Paul calls "the deeds of the flesh."  Last Sunday we saw 15 examples of these deeds.  We divided them into four categories - sexual areas; religious areas; relational issues; and excessive areas.  as we saw last Sunday, the list is in no way exhaustive seen by Paul's ending the passage with the words, "and things like these."  

This Sunday we will look at the counterpart to the "deeds of the flesh."  In verses 22-23 of Galatians 5, Paul describes what it looks like when follow the new nature within us.  He calls these characteristics the "fruit of the Spirit," and he lists nine of them.  This list is a whole lot easier to preach on than last Sunday's list.  The list includes the following:


Let me point out three introductory remarks about this list:

First, the word "fruit" indicates that these characteristics are a natural by-product of a life that is lived walking by the Spirit.  When we walk by the Spirit the pattern of our living will not show the characteristics of the deeds of the flesh which we looked at last Sunday.  Rather, when we walk by the Spirit, the pattern of our life will naturally show forth these 9 characteristics.

Second, the word "fruit" is singular, not plural.  These 9 characteristics are one fruit not nine different fruits.  In other words, you can't pick and choose the ones you want to show and leave the others behind.  This isn't a grocery store or a buffet.  When you walk by the Spirit all nine of these characteristics will become an evident part of your life.

Third, the passage ends in verse 23 with the words "against such there is no law."  In other words, gluttony is permitted on these items.  You can have as much of them as you desire.  There is no limit to the amount that you can enjoy a life that is characterized by these 9 fruit if you are walking by the Spirit.

Beginning tomorrow I will give a brief description of what each of these fruit look like.

Monday, August 13, 2012


The weekend is now over and another work week is under way.  The weekend was about as full as it could be but it was about as wonderful as it could have been as well.  Here is a "rewind" look at the weekend past.

YOUNG AMERICANS!  Thursday night our whole family went with three other couples to the Young Americans Dinner Theater.  WOW!  I had only seen the Young Americans once and that was at their brief performance at Alpenfest.  That was good bit this was so very much better.  What a wonderful experience.  My whole family absolutely loved it.  The singing and the dancing could not have been any better.  What amazed me the most is that all 30 of the performers are doing something the entire time - even when someone else is singing.  It was almost "stimulus overload!"  At one point in the show the audience got to pick what style of song was performed next - Disco, Rock or Swing.  I was able to convince our table to unite around disco so I could hear some Bee Gee's!  They got me back, though, when I was congratulated from the stage for that day being my 48th birthday (My 48th birthday is still over 6 months away)!

WYOMING WEDDING!  This weekend I had the thrill of officiating the wedding of a wonderful couple who met as college students out in Wyoming.  The groom is from Wyoming.  I did all of their pre-marital counseling through SKYPE.  There are few things more fulfilling in ministry than  being part of seeing a godly couple who have been raised by godly parents coming together in marriage.  The groom's parents brought a nice taste of Wyoming to the wedding rehearsal luncheon and the bride and groom gave me a bottle of allergy medication to get through the reception because they knew I was allergic to country music.

GREEN CHILI!  My wife is from Pueblo, Colorado where real Mexican cooking is a specialty.  One of my favorites is her authentic green chili!  Saturday night we had a family over for this incredible meal.  And to top it off, our guests brought home-made Blackberry Cobbler!

E-FREE WORSHIP!  Usually each day during the week I get more and more excited about preaching on Sunday.  To be honest, this past week that didn't happen.  I knew that the message I would be preaching was a difficult one - not difficult to understand but difficult to swallow.  If you are not sure what I mean, read Galatians 5:19-21.  That was the passage from Sunday.  But even the passages in Scripture that are difficult to swallow are still Biblical truth and need to be taught.  During the Second Hour I was able to fill in for Pastor Jim in teaching the Sun Catcher's Class - that is always a treat!

LOONS AND THE LAKE!  Sunday evening Laura and I were invited out with two other couples for dinner and boating on one of the many lakes in our area as we watched the loons.  Since we moved to Michigan we have wanted to see a loon so this was a great experience as was the fun time afterwards eating dessert around the fire on the beach.  What a great way to end a great weekend!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

This Sunday - the BAD news!

Have you ever had someone say, "I have some good news and some bad news, which do you want to hear first?"  I don't know about you but when I am faced with those two options I always opt for the bad news first!  At least that way I am sure that the conversation ends on a better note then it started.

That is the case for the next two Sundays as we finish up our "Walk This Way" message series from Galatians 5 here at Gaylord E-Free Church.  In the closing verses Paul contrasts what it looks like when a pattern of living is characterized by the lust of the flesh versus when a pattern of living is characterized by walking by the Spirit.  The first list he calls the "Deeds of the Flesh" and it is the bad news.  The second list he calls the "Fruit of the Spirit" and this list is the good news.

This Sunday we will look at the bad news first - the listing called the "Deeds of the Flesh" seen in Galatians 5:19-21.  I have given this list below as it appears in the New American Standard Bible.  After that list I have given some questions for you to consider in preparation for this Sunday's message here at E-Free.

Outbursts of anger
And things like these

If you were to break this list into four different categories, what would they be?

What simple definition would you give to each of these descriptions?

What does the ending phrase "And things like these" tell you about the list?

Are there any areas on this list that you struggle with?  If so, which ones?

Read Galatians 5:21.  What warning does Paul give about this list?

Friday, August 10, 2012

When it is RIGHT to DISOBEY!

In my blog posting from yesterday we looked at Romans 13:1 which tells us that "every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God."  We answered three foundational questions from this verse:

WHO is being spoken to?  Every follower of Jesus!

WHAT are they to do?  Be in subjection to the governing authorities!

WHY are they to do this?  Because all governing authorities are established by God!

But there is one specific exception in Scripture to this general principle and that is when a law or command given to us by a governing authority would require us to disobey God's Word.  lease note - the exception is not simply when we don't like or don't agree with a law.  There are many laws I do not like and don't agree with but living by them does not require me to disobey God's Word.  Let me give you some examples of this from Scripture.  I hope you will take the time to look up all of the passages I list,

In Exodus 1:7, Jewish midwives disobeyed Pharoah's command to kill all male Jewish babies.  This resulted in God blessing these midwives.

In Daniel 1:12-15, Daniel and his three Hebrew companions refused to disobey the dietary laws of the Mosaic Law when they were taken captive into Babylon.  This resulted in God blessing them.  By the way, I find it very important in this text that even though these men refused to obey their governing authorities they still showed respect for them.  They respectfully "sought permission" for an exception and referred to themselves as the commander's "servants."  If only we who are followers of Jesus today could learn to still show respect even when we disagree with others.

In Daniel 3:16-18, Daniel disobeyed King Darius' decree to pray to no one but the King, and as a result, Daniel was blessed by God.  Again it is worth noting that Daniel showed no malice toward the King in doing so.  Even after the King has him thrown in the lion's den and Daniel survives, he declares to Darius these words, "O King, live forever" (v21).

In Acts 4:19-20 and Acts 5:28-29, we see that Peter and John disobeyed the leaders' of Jerusalem's command not to speak about Jesus.

Let me summarize:

First, the general principle of Scripture is that every follower of Jesus is to be in subjection to our governing authorities (even if we didn't vote for them) because all governing authorities are established by God.

Second, The only exception to this principle is when our governing authorities pass laws that would require us to disobey God's Word.

Third, even when this happens we should still show an attitude of respect and humility - not malice or anger.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Hail to the Chief!

It’s election time and boy is the mud being slung.  Civility is absent.  Negative campaigning reigns supreme.  Name calling and character assassination seems to be the name of the game.  I’m not surprised by that.  I understand and accept the fact that this is the state of American politics in our culture today.  But what I don’t understand and what I can’t accept is to see and hear Christians stooping to the same levels in speaking about the candidates they oppose.

A little over four years ago I did a personal study on what Scripture teaches us about how a follower of Jesus should respond to our governmental authorities.  At the time I did this study, the primaries were far from decided and John McCain and Barak Obama both appeared like longshots to win their respective party’s nomination.  I did this study realizing that we were just a few months away from a new President taking the Oath of Office and I wanted my study to be based solely on what Scripture said without the identity of the person sitting behind the desk in the oval office playing a part in my conclusions.

As I have watched the current presidential election heat up and listened to so many people, including Christians, voice their opinions, I thought it might be a good time to revisit what that study taught me.  Let’s begin in Romans 13:1 which says,

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”  

Putting aside political affiliations and individual candidates in this year’s contest, what does this verse teach us?  To discover this, let’s answer three basic questions – WHO?  WHAT? WHY?

WHO is this verse directed toward?  “Every person” is a reference to every single follower of Jesus.  That is who Paul is writing to – the church at Rome.  So the principles in this verse apply to me as a follower of Jesus and if you are a follower of Jesus, they apply to you as well.

WHAT is every follower of Jesus to do?  We are to “be in subjection” to the governing authorities.  The word, “subjection,” is a military term referring to soldiers who line up for battle under the authority of their ranking superior.  This isn’t just the idea of obedience.  This also is the idea of honoring and respecting.  And it is important to note that this is a command, not an option.  We are to willingly place ourselves under our governing authorities showing them honor and respect.

In case you are thinking that this principle is not clearly taught in Scripture, Paul gives a similar command in Titus 3:1-2 when he instructs Titus to, “Remind them (believers) to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”

The same command is also given by Peter in 1 Peter 2:13-15,  “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

When you read Paul’s words in Romans and Titus as well as Peter’s words, there appears to be no general exception to the admonition of Paul and Peter.  This command applies whether the leader is

-competent or incompetent!
-moral or immoral!
-cruel or kind!
-godly or ungodly!
-Democrat or a Republican!

And this principle applies whether I voted for the individual against them.  The only exception given in Scripture is when a leader’s command or law would require us to disobey God’s Word.  I’ll give some examples of that from Scripture in my blog posting tomorrow.  But for today, let’s just make sure we understand the general principle of Scripture.

WHY are we as believers to be in subjection to our governing authorities?  According to Paul, it is because “human authorities are established by God.”  Paul goes on to say that “there is no authority except from God.”  By the way, when Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome, the Roman leader was a man named Nero who was one of the cruelest persecutors of Christians in the history of the world.  If all human government is established by God as Paul is teaching, then Nero’s reign was also ordained by God as well.  I know that is hard for us to swallow.

The same principle is true concerning our current President and so it will be true with whoever wins the election this November.  John MacArthur said it this way, “No human government at any time in history, at any place on earth, among any people on earth, at any level of society, has ever existed or will exist apart from the sovereign authority of God.”

How I respond as a follower of Jesus to governmental authorities must stem from that principle.  That should effect how I respond to all governing authorities.  That should also have an effect on how I speak of all governing authorities.  Remember that in the same passage where Paul told Titus to submit to governing rulers, he also said to “malign no one.”  Yet, many who are followers of Jesus seem to feel justified in speaking demeaning and disrespectful words of politicians that they disagree with or politicians that they did not vote for in the election.  I know that is the way of politics today but it doesn’t have to be the way of the church.  Believe it or not, it is possible to disagree without being disrespectful.  

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

100,000 isn't 6 million - BUT IT'S A START!

Back in the early 1990's I had the wonderful opportunity to meet a Cambodian pastor who deeply desired to reach Cambodian people in his country for Jesus.  I remember hearing him say that his desire was to reach 6 million Cambodians for Christ.  I asked him how many people lived in Cambodia.  His answer?  6 million (Today that population is much higher).  His goal was to reach every person in his country with the Gospel of Jesus.  Talk about vision!

Back in February the Elder Board here at the Gaylord E-Free Church established a Vision Task Force to prayerfully and strategically work through a proposed 3-year vision plan for our church.  That team was made up of 3 people from our Elder Board; 3 people from our Leadership Team; and 3 people from our Ministry Staff.  This team met every other week for 6 full months.  Last Monday night they made their final presentation to our full Elder Board who unanimously and enthusiastically approved it.  In the coming weeks and months it will be unveiled in its entirety to our Ministry Teams and to our entire church family.

I can't give you any details yet, but I can tell you this.  Our Vision Plan is much bigger than the 3,600+ people that live within the city limits of Gaylord, Michigan.  In fact, our Vision Plan is much bigger than the 24,000+ people that live in Otsego County.  There are well over 100,000 people who live within Northern Michigan.  That's our focus.  We don't just want to target Gaylord.  We don't just want to target Otsego County.  We deeply desire and believe that God is calling us as a church to make an all-out effort to reach Northern Michigan.  How do we do that?  Our 3-year vision plan is just going to be a start.  In actuality, the sky is the limit as to what we could do.

Multiple worship services in our own building?  Why not?

Live services on the Internet?  Why not?

Radio Ministry?  Why not?

TV Ministry?  Why not?

Satellite Campuses?  Why not?

I remember Dr Falwell using the term "Saturation Evangelism" which he defined as reaching every available person through every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What do you say, E-Free?  Let's go for it!  Let's not settle for Gaylord!  Let's not settle for Otsego County!  Let's ask God to give us all of Northern Michigan for Jesus and then let's throw all of our efforts into being used by God to see it happen!

If one Cambodian pastor can believe God for all 6 million people that were in his country at the time, surely we can believe God for 100,000 who live up north!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Being quick to hear is becoming a problem

James exhorts us to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.  In other words, we should listen far more than we talk - especially in tense situations.  Or as one person reminded me Sunday, "There is a reason why God gave us two ears and only one mouth!"  It just makes sense, we should listen twice as much as we speak.

I have to admit that this is always a little difficult for me.  I tend to speak first and think later.  And to be honest, the listening part is becoming a bit tougher physically as well.  I have noticed over the past year - especially over the past 6 months - that my hearing is not what it use to be.  The problem comes when I am in a room where there is a lot of noise.

For example, if I am at a crowded restaurant where there is a lot of background noise, I can struggle to hear all the words being spoken across the table.  I have to be looking at the person across the table and really concentrating to get all of the words.  The same is true in the church lobby on Sunday when someone is talking to me with all of the noise of the people around us.

I've noticed that it is also getting more difficult to hear people clearly on the phone, especially if the person is talking in a soft voice.  If my wife is in the same room I can her her fine.  But if she is talking to me from another room, especially if there is other noise in the room, it is a bit more difficult for me to hear.   It looks like hearing aids may be creeping up to the top of the ever growing "to get when the kids are out of college" list.

I'd like to say it's just an ear wax problem.  This may gross you out, but I really do get excessive ear wax.  Seriously, my ears will completely plug up as a result.  I have to go to the doctor about twice each year to get my ears cleaned out and usually even the doctor is amazed at the large nuggets he pulls out of my ears.  If only ear wax was as valuable as gold!!!

The truth is that the problem is not ear wax.  It looks like age is creeping up on me.  But if you tell me that, I probably won't hear you!    

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Two Days in the Upper Peninsula

It will soon be time for Jonathan to head back to college and with all 4 of us all working different jobs, we really have had very little time to enjoy summer together.  We were able to reserve 2.5 days this past week to have some family time exploring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan together.  If only it could have been 2.5 weeks rather than 2.5 days.  Here were the highlights:

We left Thursday afternoon and drove up to Mackinaw City where we spent the afternoon and early evening including dinner before driving over the bridge and up to Newberry where we rented a 3-bedroom cottage right on one of the lakes.  We enjoyed a campfire and smores that evening as we watched the beauty of the nearly full moon glistening off of the lake.

Friday morning after breakfast we went over to Oswald's Bear Ranch.  I think Joy could have spent all day watching the baby bears eating the fruit loops that you could buy to feed them.  We enjoyed a nice conversation with Mr Oswald himself while we were there.  It is a pretty fascinating place.  Unfortunately, government restrictions have now prevented you from petting and getting your picture taken with the baby bears.  Mr Oswald has a State Senator working on getting that corrected.  

From there we then headed up to Munising where we grabbed lunch and then drove up to Miner's Cave and Miner's Falls.  We even started a 4 mile hike which we aborted after having the realization hit us that 4 miles down to the point where we were heading also meant 4 miles of walking to come back.

After some dinner we went on the Pictured Rocks Cruise.  What a beautiful sight with the sun setting into Lake Superior.  I was surprised to learn just how big Lake Superior is.  Did you realize that if you took all of the water in the other 4 Great Lakes and put them together that they still would not equal the amount of water in Lake Superior?  You would sill need to add 3 more Lake Erie's to finish the job.  In fact, if you took all the water from Lake Superior and filled a swimming pool that was 5-ft deep everywhere, the swimming pool would be the size of the Continental U.S.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the cottage and then headed to Tahquamenon Falls.  What a beautiful sight.  I saw it last winter and to be honest, I love seeing it even more in January than I did seeing it in August!  We then grabbed lunch and what has become our favorite restaurant (at least so far) in the U.P. - the Red Flannel Saloon in Paradise.

From there we headed further north to Whitefish Point.  Again, when I saw this shore last January I was even more amazed at its beauty.  We picked up some rocks there and also went through the Shipwreck Museum.  Whitefish Point is considered the graveyard of shipwrecks in the great lakes, being most known for the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  In fact, now that I have gone through the museum and seen the bell from "Big Fitz" that they brought up from the wreckage, I just can't get Gordon Lightfoot's song out of my head.

From there it was time to start the drive back to Gaylord.  We did make two stops on the way.  The fist one was just a few miles into the trip as we stopped at the Cranberry Farm in Whitefish Point.  We then stopped in Indian River for pizza at Vivios - our favorite pizza that we have been introduced to so far in northern Michigan.

We packed a lot in to our 2.5 days in the Upper Peninsula.  Maybe next time it will be 2.5 weeks!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Decorate the Shoe Tree this Sunday at E-Free!

This Sunday at Gaylord E-Free we continue our "Walk This Way" message series as we continue to learn what it means to "Walk by the Spirit."  Be sure to bring your old shoes and help fill the E-FREE SHOE TREE out in front of our church!

Because it is the first Sunday of the month there will be no Classic Service this Sunday.  Instead, we will all be meeting in the Gospel Center for our Contemporary Service that will include worship led by Jonathan Distler.  We will also be celebrating communing together this Sunday morning.

See you this Sunday - 9:30am!  I can't wait!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Hurray for the Double Negative

“But I say to you, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh!”
Galatians 5:16

In our current message series here at Gaylord E-Free Church that we are calling “Walk This Way,” we are learning what it means to “walk by the Spirit.”  In this one verse we learn 6 aspects that are involved.  Yesterday I gave an overview of the first 5 of these aspects – the Power involved; the Pattern involved; the Progress involved; the Partnership involved; and the Priority involved.  Now let me share the final aspect.

Walking by the Spirit involves a PURPOSE.  Why is it so important that we “walk by the Spirit?”  It is crucial because it is only through “walking by the Spirit” that we will not carry out the desires of the flesh.  Paul put it another way in Romans 13:14,

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regards to its lusts.”

Remember that we were all born with a sin nature which has a propensity to sin.  That is why sin comes naturally for mankind.  No one has to teach their kids to misbehave.  It just happens.  But when we trust Christ to be our Lord and Savior the Holy Spirit puts within us a new nature – one that is bent on obeying God.

However, the old sin nature does not go away.  It remains and, as Paul describes many times, every day of the Christian life is an inner conflict between the old and new nature.  But according to Galatians 5:16, the way to ensure that you do not carry out the desire of the flesh (the desire of the old nature that we still possess even as believers) is to “walk by the Spirit.”

But does this really work?  Let’s look to grammar for the answer.  When I was in High School our English teacher had what she called the “5-grammar mistake rule.”  In other words, on any paper we turned in, if there were 5 or more grammar mistakes it was an automatic “F.”  Unfortunately, typos counted as a grammar mistake.  So did “double negatives.”

Double negatives are not allowed in English grammar.  Fortunately, Paul did not write this original letter to the Galatian churches in English.  He wrote it in the Greek language and in Greek grammar, not only are double negatives allowed – they are very important.

The double negative occurs slightly less than 100 times in the New Testament.  In these cases the negative idea is greatly strengthened. It becomes a very powerful negative.  This is the strongest way to negate something in Greek.  The meaning is something like this:  "Never, positively not!  It will never happen!  It's unthinkable!  There is not even the slightest possibility that it will ever happen!"

For example, in John 10:28 Jesus said that He has given His children eternal life and they will never perish.  The word “never” is written as a double negative in the Greek language.  In other words, those who have been given eternal life will never by any means perish.  It will never happen.  It’s unthinkable.  There is not even the slightest possibility.

The same is true in Galatians 5:16.  When you walk by the Spirit you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  This too is written as a double negative.  When you walk by the Spirit you will not by any means carry out the desire of the flesh!  If you are walking by the Spirit it will never happen.  It’s unthinkable.  There is not even the slightest possibility.

Hurray for the double negative!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

What does it mean to "Walk by the Spirit?"

“But I say to you, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh!”
Galatians 5:16

In our current message series here at Gaylord E-Free Church that we are calling “Walk This Way,” we are learning what it means to “walk by the Spirit.”  In this one verse we learn 6 aspects that are involved.

Last Sunday we saw that walking by the Spirit involves a POWER.  By what power are we to walk?  We are to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We took time last Sunday to see how the Holy Spirit indwells us and empowers us.  We gave special attention to the three commands given to us in Scripture in relation to the Holy Spirit.

We are to be filled with the Spirit, meaning that we are to allow the Spirit of God to control our lives.

We are not to grieve the Spirit, meaning that we are not to do what the Spirit directs us not to do.

We are not to quench the Spirit, meaning that we are to be careful to do what the Holy Spirit prompts us to do.

This Sunday we will see the final 5 aspects of walking by the Spirit as seen in this verse from Galatians.

Walking by the Spirit involves a PATTERN.  The word “walk” is written in the present tense showing a habitual pattern of life.  In other words, this is speaking of a daily routine as opposed to a “one time deal.”  That is why we have 5 gigantic shoes on the stage – a work boot; a dress shoe; a sneaker; a slipper; and even a bare foot.  This is to show us that it does not matter what activity we are involved in, we are to “Walk by the Spirit.”

Walking by the Spirit involves a PROGRESS.  The word “walk” implies going from one place to another.  Each day that we live on this earth we should become more and more like Jesus.  This happens as we “walk by the Spirit.”

Walking by the Spirit involves a PARTNERSHIP.  Walking by the Spirit is not God waving a magic wand over our head and saying the magic words “Bippity Boppity Boo” and suddenly we always walk by the Spirit.  It is not just, “let go and let God.”  We have a responsibility in the process as seen in the following verses:

We are commanded in Romans 6:12 – “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.”  

We need to starve our old nature as commanded in Colossians 3:5 – “Consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed which amounts to idolatry.“ 

We need to master our old nature as Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 9:27 – “But I beat my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Walking in the Spirit involves a PRIORITY.  The verb, “walk.” is in the imperative mood making it a command, not simply an option or a suggestion.  The fact is that if I am not “walking by the Spirit” I am not living in the will of God.

There is one more aspect to walking by the Spirit that I will share in my blog posting tomorrow.  I like it because it is built on a grammar rule that would be shunned by every English teacher in America – the dreaded “double negative.”

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

An Awesome August Begins Today

Today is the first day of August and it is going to be one Awesome August here at the Gaylord E-Free Church.  Below is just a partial list of what August has in store for our ministry:

Vacation Bible School:

Our annual Summer Vacation Bible School is going on this week.

Walk This Way:

Our current “Walk This Way” message series through Galatians chapter five will continue through August 19.  Be sure to bring your old shoes and throw them on the shoe tree out front of the church.  If you haven’t already, be sure to take a paper foot located on the tables where the shoe trees are located in the lobby and help provide a pair of shoes for the children at the Child Development Center that we partner with in one of the poorest areas of Nicaragua.

Painting In Progress:

Last year’s Ingathering Offering provided money for us to be able to do some much needed improvements in our building.  As a result, painting has begun downstairs in what has been called the Oasis Room as well as the room just off of it.  New signage has also been designed and delivered that will soon be put up around the church to better assist people in getting around in our facility.

Fun In The Sun 2:

Last month was our first week of Fun in the Sun for grades 7 and 8.  August 6-10 will be the sequel as Pastor Newell and Matt Jenkins lead another week of Fun in the Sun for grades 5 and 6.

Three Year Vision Plan:

The Vision Task Force has completed their assignment and will be presenting their final proposal of a 3-year vision plan to the Elder Board at their August meeting.  Please continue to pray for the Vision Task Force, the Elders, the Leadership Team and the Ministry Staff as they continue to seek God so that we can reach our redemptive potential as a church

Food Truck – August 16:

Each month we as a church our able to help provide food for 200+ families representing over 600 people in our county who are facing challenges economically.  Please be praying for God to use this ministry as an effective tool to meet many people where they are at and help move them to where God wants them to be.

CIA Day –August 18:

Our first Church in Action (CIA) Day last spring was a huge success.  We also saw dozens from our church participate in our CIA Work Night in July at the Fairgrounds in preparation for our Heroes Day.  Our next CIA Day is scheduled for Saturday, August 18.  Beginning August 1, you can go on to our church website and sign up for a project to be part of meeting people in our community right where they are at as we touch them in a practical way with the love of Jesus.

Bebo Norman Concert:

Our Worship Arts Ministry is partnering with Promise FM to bring Bebo Norman in concert to the Gospel Center.  This convert will take place on Saturday night, August 25.  Watch the bulletin and listen to Promise FM for more details.

Daily Double:

On August 26 and September 2, we will have a 2-week minis series in Jeopardy fashion that we are calling “Daily Double.” We will use these two Sunday to explain all of the logistical details to adding an additional Contemporary Service on Sunday mornings beginning September 9.