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evbc | gilbert


questions about the mormon church

Justin Taylor had this helpful post as it relates to the Mormon church. This seems to be a hotter topic recently because of Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign. Taylor has some other interesting articles related to that too.

FoxNews.com recently posted 21 questions on Mormonism, with responses from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Rob Bowman works through each of the questions and provides some clarifications and more information.


what the church is about

I just completed a membership interview (one of the real treats of my ministry since I get to meet new people who are committed to Christ) with a woman from our body named Susan. She said something towards the end of our meeting that was so profound and simple that I had to write about it. She was describing what she likes about East Valley Bible Church and what any church should be about.

Here's what she said: "It's got to be about God and about reaching people."

That is pretty simple, and it really says a lot. Think about the consequences of having a church that is about one of those things, but not the other.

About God, but not about reaching people = not really about God
God is the one who seeks for those who are lost (Lk. 15). God is the one who pursues people. God has a great heart that all nations would hear the gospel and be made into disciples (Mt. 28:18-20). So, if we are people who are trying to be about God and what he wants, we must necessarily be about reaching people. God loves people and wants to see them acknowledge him as the true King and Satisfier of their hearts.

About reaching people, but not about God = what's the point?
Coca-cola, Nike, IBM, Starbucks, McDonalds, and thousands of other companies around the world "reach people" with their messages, but they aren't about God. What eternal value do they hold? If you reach people but don't make your message about God, what is the point. Molly and I were quite sad to visit a church once that had reached literally thousands of people but then gave a message that had very little to do with God at all. Tragic.

May we be Christians and a church who are deeply concerned about honoring God and reaching people!


more sermon jams

In a previous post, I pointed you to "Sermon Jams," which are portions from sermons put to music, typically with dance or hip-hop feel. Well, I've found some more, called 10:31 Sermon Jams. This comes from 1 Corinthians 10:31, "So whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God." Enjoy!

Here's one of my favorites, from John Piper.


advent devotional

Mesa Area Pastor Bill Hartley has created a blog where he's writing brief devotionals for each day of Advent. His writing is thought-provoking and reflective, and you would be blessed to spend some time there with him as you prepare for Christmas.

Check it out.


the truth hurts



five lessons from the first christmas party

I was recently given the opportunity to write a brief article for the Islands neighborhood paper, and they said I could pick any topic. So, I wrote the following: Five Lessons from the First Christmas Party.

Believe it or not, the first Christmas party didn’t have cookies, eggnog, ugly sweaters, or gift exchanges. Nonetheless, for those present, it was an event to remember. This is because it celebrated the birth of the most influential person in history, Jesus. For us, centuries later, there remain at least five lessons from the first Christmas party (described in the Gospel of Luke) that should never be forgotten:

1. Jesus came for normal people.
Who was invited to the first Christmas party? Not royalty, not celebrities, not important or high class people, but shepherds. Regular guys working their regular jobs. This teaches us that God cares deeply for ordinary people like us.

2. Jesus’ arrival was good news.
The angel who announced this party said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news.” Jesus is news! He didn’t come with advice or self-help plans or expectations of moral improvement. He came to do something newsworthy—rescue those who are far from God.

3. Jesus came to bring great joy.
The angel said that this was “good news of great joy.” The Greek word translated as “great” is “megas.” Christmas isn’t designed to bring temporary joy (like gifts and gadgets do), but long-lasting, deep-rooted, mega-joy. This joy can’t be bought—it comes only through a relationship with Jesus.

4. Jesus came as a baby.
This may seem obvious, but this fact is astounding. Jesus, who made the world, humbled himself and entered his world as a helpless, drooling, crying baby. The Creator entered into his creation and began to walk in our shoes. He didn’t just sympathize with us from a distance—he got involved in the mess himself.

5. Jesus came to rescue and rule.
The angel told the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Jesus didn’t come just to be a good moral teacher or example, he came to be Savior—the one who would rescue us from God’s anger at our sin—and to be Lord—the one who would lovingly rule over the hearts of humanity. This rescue mission—launched by the first Christmas party—was expensive because it eventually cost Jesus his life when he died in our place on the cross.

May this Christmas bring you the great joy of knowing and loving the Reason for the Season!