Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passion Week

“Now before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)

Each year since Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ” hit the theatres I have, during Passion Week, watched anew the visible reminders of the depth of our Heavenly Father’s love. Each year I sit in awe. Each year I cry. Each year the images are burned in my mind. The Gospels came to life in the movie, and we too have a chance to walk the streets and witness Jesus’ beating. We are able to follow Christ to the cross. Although the final tomb scene in the movie was short (13 seconds), I felt a great deal of relief as Jesus walked out in triumphant victory. Each year in reading through Passion Week in the Gospels (Matt. 21:1-ff; Mark 11:1-ff; Luke 19:28-ff; John 12:12-ff), I am reminded of these precious truths:

Christ’s Sacrifice Was Sufficient - Throughout the Old Testament, God required blood atonement on behalf of the people. When Christ took the cross and shed His blood, He made the final sacrifice for sin. Seeing a holy Jesus take the cross in my place reminded me in graphic detail that He willingly did for me what I could not do for myself.

Satan was Forever Defeated - In The Passion of the Christ movie, Satan drifted through the crowds and stood over Jesus in the garden as He prayed. Throughout the Old Testament Satan sought to prevent Christ’s birth. Once Jesus was born, Satan tried in all of his power to keep Jesus from the cross. But Calvary proves that Satan lost forever. Victory is in Jesus!

This Is My Story and My Song – I love the old hymn by Fanny Crosby “Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine” because it shouts of triumphant victory:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long;

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;

Angels descending bring from above

Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;

I in my Savior am happy and blest,

Watching and waiting, looking above,

Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

Can’t Wait For Next Sunday!

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Meditation That Matters

Lord, you are mine! I promise to obey your words! With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised. I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws. I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands. Evil people try to drag me into sin, but I am firmly anchored to your instructions. I rise at midnight to thank you for your just regulations. I am a friend to anyone who fears you—anyone who obeys your commandments. O Lord, your unfailing love fills the earth; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:57-64, NLT)

For several weeks now, I have been walking through Psalm 119 with my family prior to the start of the boys’ school day and my workday. We are in our second trip through this marvelous chapter examining the importance of God’s laws, commands, decrees, statues, and our submission to them. Today (March 11, 2010) I was simply struck with the phrase: “I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws.” “Ponder” in Hebrew means “to think, to meditate.” John Phillips says, “To think is one thing the devil does not want us to do.” The Devil would rather us be constantly diverted from meditation on the things that make a difference.

The Psalmist pondered “the direction” of his life. Do you ever ponder the direction of your life? Do you ever think about where you are headed? Do you remember the study of the Prodigal Son we did a few months ago? Luke states, “But when he came to himself…” (Luke 15:17) The prodigal son began to talk to himself, think within himself, about his path, about his destination. In so doing, he demonstrates where repentance begins, with an accurate assessment of your condition. He came to an end of himself.

He then began to live out Psalm 119: 59. He took responsibility for his life. He made a full confession. He left home saying “Give me!” Then he returned home saying “Make me!” He throws himself on the Father’s mercy. He pondered the direction of his life – he thought about his destination. He saw the wide road of destruction he was on and knew it would not take him where he needed to be. Therefore he made a course correction. He “turned to follow.”

Do you ever meditate on where your feet are taking you? Have you rightly assessed the path and found it to be – deep inside the recesses of your heart – an undesirable path? Are you willing to turn your feet today?

A recent promotion by H. R. Block Inc. offered walk-in customers a chance to win a drawing for a million dollars. Glen and Gloria Sims of Sewell, New Jersey, won the drawing, but they refused to believe it when an H. R. Block representative phoned them with the good news.

After several additional contacts, the Sims still thought it was all just a scam and usually hung up the phone or trashed the special notices. Some weeks later, H. R. Block called one more time to let the Sims know the deadline for accepting the million-dollar prize was nearing and that the story of their refusal to accept the prize would appear on an upcoming NBC "Today Show."

At that point, Mr. Sims decided to investigate further. A few days later, he appeared on the "Today Show" to tell America that he and his wife had finally gone to H. R. Block to claim the million-dollar prize. Mr. Sims final words were: "From the time this has been going on, H. R. Block explained to us they really wanted a happy ending to all this, and they were ecstatic that we finally accepted the prize." (NBC "Today Show", 7-09-01)

God also just wants a happy ending and that can be the case if you will stop ignoring or running from him and respond to his offer of restoration. The psalmist “hurried, without delay.” Think about the direction of your life – and turn your feet!

Until Next Week,

Dr. Derek

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Standing Tall

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:7-8)

Have you ever been in a conversation with an unbeliever or in a circle of unbelievers and the subject of Christianity came up, providing you the option: Stand for your faith or cower (shrink from fear) of ridicule or rejection. Often we are provided ample opportunity to display –not a spirit of fear – but one of power, love, and self discipline. Paul instructed Timothy to “not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” In fact, he charged him to “share in the suffering for the gospel.”

At the beginning of the third century Vibia Perpetua, age 22, was given an opportunity to live out I Timothy 1:7-8. Vibia, her brother, and a friend had professed faith in Christ at a time when Roman citizens were prohibited from turning to Christianity. When it was discovered that Vibia, her brother and friend, had converted to Christianity, government officials had them arrested. Vibia’s diary records a conversation with her unbelieving father:

While we were still under arrest, my father, out of love for me, was trying to persuade me and shake my resolution. “Father,” I said, “do you see this vase here, or water pot or whatever?” “Yes I do,” said he. And I told him, “Could it be called by any other name than what it is?” And he said, “No.” “Well, so too I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.”

On March 7, 2003, the group was brought into the amphitheater to be killed. A heifer mauled them, then a leopard struck, and finally gladiators entered the amphitheater and finished the slaughter. In her final moments Vibia declared, “You must all stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not be weakened by what we have gone through.” Vibia recounted a vision she received while in prison awaiting death:

I saw a ladder of tremendous height . . . reaching all the way to the heavens, but it was so narrow that only one person could climb up it at a time . . . . Then I saw an immense garden, and in it a gray-haired man sat in shepherd’s garb . . . . And standing around him were thousands of people clad in white garments. He raised his head, looked at me, and said, “I am glad you have come, my child.”

Be bold today! Let no one move you. Do all out of love for Christ and His Church. Do not be intimidated by those who assault the Christian faith. Like Stephen and Vibia, remember who stands to receive you in eternal glory. So, armor up today and stand firm!

Until Next Week,

Dr. Derek

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Following God's Plan

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)

Ezekiel prophesies that Israel would be restored as a nation and that they would return to the land of promise. Had Israel done something special? No. God had promised that a remnant would return to the land and represent God to the rest of the world. God made a covenant with Israel and God is a covenant-keeping God. As a result of Israel’s restoration they had a responsibility to proclaim the faithfulness of God by living out His will for their lives. Believers today have the same responsibility.

Like Israel, we represent God to the world. Like Israel, we must faithfully proclaim the covenant faithfulness of our God by dying to self and living for Christ. At the moment of regeneration (conversion) God gives us a new heart, and He places a new spirit within us. Our heart of stone, destroyed by sin, will be replaced with a heart of flesh. The “heart” and the “spirit” are the seats of thought and will be from which actions flow. Since our heart is dead to sin, it must be changed in order that our defiled will become a definite will from above. God will bring life and power to us, creating in us the will and the ability to follow God’s decrees.

Paul instructed the church at Rome to be transformed, which means to have their minds renewed, changed from one form to another. Notice that Paul does not talk about the receiving of information, but the process of transformation. It describes a change in appearance, character, and function. It is the will of God for all believers to be transformed in knowledge and behavior by the renewed mind – a daily renewal. Commenting on these verses John MacArthur states, “A committed and sacrificed life has the power to perceive what God’s will is. It is the knowledge and practice of the will of God that leads to spiritual growth and maturity in the Christian life. Ultimately, the will of God should be all that matters in a believer’s life.”

It is only when we entrust ourselves to God (living sacrifice), placing ourselves at His disposal, that we are able to yield to that which is good, acceptable, and perfect. In February 1980, the U.S. Olympic hockey team walked away with the gold medal while beating Goliath, the former Soviet Union. Before the team’s victory over the Russians that placed them in the finals, coach Herb Brooks told his players, “You are meant to be here at this time. This is your moment.” Well, you know the rest of the story.

Well, I am not your hockey coach and you won’t receive a gold medal, but you were meant to be here! This is your moment! You were created by God to declare the “excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness and placed you in the light.” You have a new heart, a new spirit, and a new direction. It has already been determined by God that you would forever proclaim His name. This is God’s will. This is your moment. Will you yield to the will of God that His glory might be proclaimed to all the earth. After all, a gold medal is nothing more than heavenly pavement. The crown of righteousness, on the other hand, is truly something precious!

Serving Him, Serving You,

Dr. Derek


Our “Honduras Yard Sale” was a great success. We raised over $8200.00. That will enable us to purchase the needed drugs and supplies for our medical mission trip, June 26 – July 3. This year we are taking the largest group ever – 49. Your support is an invaluable part of our efforts to proclaim the precious gospel of Christ to the wonderful people of Honduras.

I am also giving praise to the Lord today for the leadership of our deacons in our newly-developed “Gift Based Deacon Ministry.” To see all of our deacons and yokefellows last night so eager to minister to our church family excites me beyond words. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us as our deacon “servant leaders” set the example for us. Bill Norris is our deacon chairman. Great leadership, Bill.

Don’t forget that March 24 begins our new “children/youth” schedule under the leadership of Andy, Jerry, and Jay. The opportunities to reach more students and children than ever before is awesome. I am so pumped!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Love Your Neighbor

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

If you were living in Holland in 1944 when the Nazi’s were taking over the country, would you have hidden Jews in your home? Hitler’s “final solution” was to rid the world of those who were not blessed to be a part of Hitler’s “master race.” God intervened by using human hands to hide, feed, and protect the Jews from the Nazi slaughter. Two of those hands belonged to Corrie ten Boom. She would describe herself later as “the skin on the hands of God.”

On February 28, 1944 Corrie (the first female watch maker in Europe) was at work in the family watch repair shop in Haarlem, Holland when the machine-gun armed Gestapo patrolled the streets, unaware that Jews were hiding in a crawl space behind a bookshelf in her home. By this time the Jews of Holland had only two options: hide or die!

A Dutch stranger walked into the Boom watch shop under the auspice of needing a watch repaired and whispered that his family was also hiding Jews. He asked if she could help. Corrie, believing God led her to develop a network of families to oppose the Nazi’s by helping Jews, agreed to help the stranger, and then he left the shop.

Corrie and her family were aroused that very night by Gestapo, searching for anyone hidden in her home (for two days they searched but found no one). That very night over 30 in the network of families helping Jews were arrested, beaten, and charged with helping the Jews. Corrie and her sister Betsie were placed in the Ravensbruck death camp where, on Christmas day, her sister died. Casper, her father, died in prison ten days after his arrest.

Four months later (June 1945), Corrie was released from Ravensbruck. She wrote a letter to the Dutch stranger who betrayed her family to the Nazi’s. Her letter stated:

I heard that most probably you are the one who betrayed me. I went through ten months of concentration camp. My father died … and my sister died in prison. The harm you planned was turned into good for me by God. I came nearer to Him. I have prayed for you, that the Lord may accept you if you will repent. I have forgiven you everything. God will also forgive you everything if you ask Him.

Corrie ten Boom was led by God to establish Christ centered rehabilitation homed for people of all faiths scarred by the war. Later she came to America where her story of the Holocaust helped many understand the horrors of the Nazi regime and their crimes against humanity. Corrie’s message was simple: “My survival is not my personal miracle, but the reality of Jesus!” God gave her opportunities to speak well into her eighties, where thousands came to faith in Christ through her passionate appeals for salvation. Her hands, scarred from the concentration camp, wrote five best-selling books. She died in 1983 at the age of ninety-one.

Her challenge is still relevant today: Would you have hidden Jews? Could you have survived concentration camps? Can you display Christlike forgiveness? Will you be the hands and feet of Jesus? Will others define your life as “skin on the hands of God?”

Serving Him, Serving You,

Dr. Derek


This weekend was incredible! Mega-Awesome! Our servant training on Saturday was better than a “Monster Truck” rally! Man did you ever show up! Our training leaders were, in a word, exceptional. Marvin Shaw’s breakfast crew did an outstanding job! It was a great day! Our worship rally yesterday encapsulated all we had learned over the last two months in our “Servant’s Heart” study. Our challenge by Dr. Boutwell is simple: “Live magnetically the character of Christ!”

This weekend we will have our annual “Honduras Yard Sale.” A monster “thank you” to Suzie Howell and Debra Machen for their leadership, and for the host of volunteers who are organizing the yard sale.

This week we will begin a new four-week study, “Rescued: A Jonah Journey.” It is also hard for me to believe that Easter will be upon us in one month! This year we will have 5 worship opportunities. Our north campus schedule will be normal - 8:30 and 11:00 worship, Bible study at 9:45. Our south campus will have a Saturday night service at 5:00 PM, followed by a 9:30 and 11:00 service. Jay, our student pastor, otherwise known as the “sermonator”, will preach the 11:00 service at the south campus. Our goal is to exceed the 1200+ that we had last year! Begin now by praying and inviting your neighbors and friends to attend Easter worship with you.

On March 28, 3:00 PM we will unleash our volunteers on our community with our “GPS” flyers promoting our Easter services. You will not want o miss this event. Then we will gather at our south campus where Sr. Young will lead conclude our Jonah Bible study. He will take us “From Jonah to Jesus” as we begin Passion Week. You will not want to miss this key event!