I have a lot to tell you this week, so I think I will put this into two posts. I will begin by telling you about my week at the Training Center and then I would like to share with you some thoughts on the persecuted church and the sovereignty of God.
Yet, another full week at the Training Center. This week we primarily focused on crafting illustrations for sermons. Illustrations can be defined as anything that opens windows of understanding. They connect us emotionally with the text. It is a catalyst that brings understanding more quickly. As a pastor it is an important tool to relay God's message. We see God Himself use illustration throughout the Bible. Jesus often used illustrations as He relayed God's truth to His audience. I am very thankful for this opportunity to concentrate on each aspect of a sermon. Our instructor, David Jones, has been giving us different truths to illustrate and then we have to craft them and present them to the rest of the class. I have found the exercise to be very helpful.
We also had the opportunity to meet with Pastor James for a few hours. We began to look at how to outline Revelation 3:14-21, talked about leadership, administration and the role of the Pastor. Once again a very fruitful time learning under Pastor James.
Yesterday, a few of us guys from the Training Center went over to Granger, Indiana with Pastor Craig Steiner. Craig is on staff with Harvest Bible Chapel Elgin and he is in charge of small groups and assimilation. HBC Granger has been in operation for about 8 months now and it is doing very well. It was a joy to go and be a part of the service there. The worship was fantastic and Pastor Craig did a great job preaching out of Matt.14. They have also done a great job of transforming the school that they are meeting in into a warm atmosphere to worship together in. The crew that sets up and tears down is to be commended.
God is doing a work in Granger. We heard of a man who had come several weeks before. He came because he worked in an office adjacent to the church office. The pastor was speaking on marriage. The man, who himself was having marital problems, was so convicted that he left half way through the service, a broken man. He contacted the pastor on Monday and on Tuesday he repented and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The next day he went and bought Bibles for himself, his wife and his children and they have been attending the church ever since. God has the power to transform lives!
Many people are flocking to Harvest Bible Chapel Granger and Harvest Bible Chapels around North America to be fed God's Word. Sadly, many have attended churches where the Word is being watered down or has been replaced by psychological or philosophical jargon meant to "make your life better". Every Harvest Bible Chapel has as one of their pillars, "to preach the truth of God's Word without apology." I have heard so many people testify that they are so thankful for the depth of teaching that are receiving at Harvest. This is one of the reasons that I believe that God is blessing Harvest in the way that He is.
Isaiah 55:10,11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (ESV)
My prayer is that all Christian churches will return to giving the Word of God it's rightful place within the church. Culture and the views of man are not to be our authority, but rather the Word of God. May God raise up many more churches like Harvest who will preach God's Word with apology. It is time that the church once again stands behind the authority of God's Word and quits trying to accommodate the opinions of men. For I fear that there are churches today who have left Jesus outside their church knocking on the door as He did to the church of Laodecia. However, Jesus is gracious and merciful and if these churches would only repent God will once again use them as He once has before.
Rev.3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." (ESV)
Revive your church, oh Lord!