Friday, May 26, 2006

The Birth of the Church

“For John truly baptized with water;
but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost…”
- Acts 1:5

What thoughts come to mind when you hear the phrase “Baptism of the Holy Spirit?” How about the word “Pentecost?” A lot of Christians get nervous when the topic is addressed. The whole issue of “speaking in tongues” is raised and it scares people. The uneasiness is most likely born out of a misunderstanding of the actual events in Acts Chapter Two. In actuality, the passage very plainly and quite straightforwardly narrates the Birth of the Church.

(By the way, Pentecost is simply the Greek name for the Jewish Festival known as “Feast of Weeks.” Translated, the word means “fiftieth” and the festival came exactly fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection. And we’ll get to the “tongues” part…)

Acts Chapter Two is one of the greatest transitions recorded in Scripture. Up to now, the Spirit was with God's people, but from now on, He would indwell them and then fill them. In Chapter One, Jesus prepares the way for the birth of the church, and in Chapter Two it's born! In Chapter One, the disciples wait for the Holy Spirit, and in Chapter Two He comes! In Chapter One they are equipped by Christ, and in Chapter Two they are empowered by the Spirit. Basically, Chapter Two satisfies Chapter One. Acts 1:8-9 says, "Ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come…” And after He had spoken these things, He was taken up…. Christ’s presence was in a physical form during His ministry on earth. And when He left this earth, His presence – and ministry -- remained alive and visible by the indwelling and continual filling of His Spirit.

Acts Chapter Two records the first appearance of the Spirit which we know today as the indwelling. It was a one-time, permanent gift for all believers. But the Chapter also narrates a filling of the Spirit. It’s the filling of the Spirit that caused the disciples to run into the streets in joy. And it’s the filling that enables His work to be done in churches today. One commentator put it this way: “The pressure of His presence caused an eruption of joy! …The filling is thrilling. Anyone obsessed with the joy of Jesus is filled with the Spirit.” (C.S. Lovett)

As for the whole “tongues” issue – There were no “holy rollers” among the disciples at Pentecost. No. Nobody was praying quietly in a corner in some secret “prayer language.” No. The room was full of uncontainable excitement! Soon the noise was heard in the streets. People stopped to listen. And remember, Jerusalem was full of foreigners because of the Jewish Feast of Pentecost. It was then that the Spirit provided the gift of (known) languages and dialects to those filled with His Spirit. The Spirit had commenced His work - encouraging and facilitating the spreading of the Good News! Isn’t God’s wisdom and timing amazing! The Birth of the Church fell on a Jewish holiday and foreigners who had never heard of Jesus suddenly were hearing the Good News! . . . The Church really does work best and accomplish Christ’s purpose when it is filled with His Spirit.

- Pastor Mark

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Will Build My Church

The world’s view of the church today is anything but complimentary. Sure, Crane Community Chapel had some praiseworthy reports four weeks ago. Our groundbreaking ceremony was a top news-story on April 23rd. The event made each of the three local television stations and several regional newspapers and the stories were positive. But what about today? What words does the average non-churched person use to describe churchgoers? Here’s some I’ve heard (and remember, I used to work in a factory): hypocrites, religious fanatics, judgmental, out-of-touch, dull, lifeless, weird. The sad part is, most of these descriptions are true! Churches are guilty of these things. Why? Because many of us have forgotten what the Church really is!

Today, we begin a study of the Book of Acts. As we move through this study, we’re going to become eyewitnesses to the birth and growth of the Church – the way Jesus intended it. My hope is that we will recognize that the Church is not just a “body of believers,” but a body of believers with a very important mission.

The Book of Acts is the very essential sequel to Jesus’ ministry on earth. It’s very easy for us to think of the Resurrection Story as the END of His ministry. How wrong we’d be! Jesus’ life up to this point was just the foundation! I Corinthians 3:11 tells us that “…no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Jesus could have elected to build His church some other way, but He chose instead to work THROUGH people. Specifically: His disciples. See, the work of the Church could not be done while Jesus was still in physical human form. The disciples were to operate in the flesh, while Jesus operated in the Spirit. The disciples were to effectively take His place on earth. And today – two thousand years later – it’s our job to take His place and carry on the building of His Church. We are going to understand through our study exactly what that means and exactly how we are to do it. And it has nothing to do with constructing a new building. A year from now, we will most likely worship in a brand new church facility. But our work as the Church will still be ongoing! The physical construction of a church building is short-lived. The mission of the Church is eternal!

Bible teacher Ray Stedman has called the Church the “secret government of the earth” because it “radically alters the status quo wherever it is found.” Interesting. The Apostle Paul says that the Church is “…the pillar and the ground of the truth.” (I Timothy 3:15) And Jesus said: “…upon this Rock I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18) Notice that Jesus’ words convey that the Church was to be built. His words are future tense. The Church had not yet been built. That was to be the disciples’ work. And today it is our mission. I’m afraid that it cannot be accomplished by a group of lifeless, hypocritical, out-of-touch religious fanatics. Let’s get busy understanding what the Church really is.

- Pastor Mark

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Proverbs Woman vs. The Modern Woman

The demands on Mothers in today’s society are overwhelming! And there’s no doubt that a Mother’s Day message taken from Proverbs 31 presents an even more intimidating sense of duty! It’s safe to say that most mothers today are of two minds: There’s the old-fashion obligation to home and there’s the equally enticing responsibility to accommodate society’s idea of a “Modern Woman.” Is there something wrong with this? Unequivocally, Yes!

Most present-day Christian leaders would tend to agree that we now live in a post-Christian era. In other words, we are no longer a truly Christian nation due to the choices we have made as a nation over the last thirty years. This simply means that the influence that the Bible once had on our nation’s moral and social behavior has diminished to a level hardly recognizable. Have you noticed how everyone, regardless of their knowledge or expertise has an opinion about every aspect of life? And most of these opinions are formed completely apart from Scripture – especially the opinions on the role of a Mother.

Society today believes that it is completely free to set the rules and parameters for the family, for the home, for marriage, and for child development. By contrast, Christian Mothers need to see the family, home, marriage and parental responsibilities as framed within the parameters of God’s authority – the Bible!

Passages like Romans 12:2, “be not conformed…” are usually seen as applying primarily to morals, but not to things like mothering and child discipline. The thinking is, that for these issues we need the expert advise of social experts and psychologists. This is flat-out wrong! It creates the idea that there is both a sacred and worldly side to mothering and parenting. It enforces the idea that God’s Word is sufficient in the realm of religion, but lacking in other areas of life. For a godly woman, everything is sacred. All of our relationships – including being a mother – are to be directed by the Truth of Scripture.

The Book of Proverbs is a fairly good place to start. The entire Book can be seen as somewhat of a Parenting Manual. From its beginning to end, it holds wisdom…Wisdom meant to be passed on.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on
her tongue… Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her….” Proverbs 31:26 28

- Pastor Mark

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Come and See What God is Doing!

April 23, 2006 marks a new beginning for Crane Community Chapel. We broke more than just ground. We shoveled dirt, but we also welcomed the hard work that is to come – in both the physical and spiritual realm. We believe that God has great things in story for this church body as we continue to move forward under His guidance and His direction. Come and see what God is doing.

As we begin our own physical building project, it seems appropriate that we begin a study on God’s building program: The Church – the people and the disciples that make up the spiritual body. God’s building project is covered in the Book of Acts which records the birth of the Church in the First Century and it gives us a healthy blueprint for the building of our own church body.

The Book of Acts is a story of origins, told in retrospect, that shows how the earliest followers of Jesus came to understand who could belong to God’s Church and how they could belong to God’s Church. We will see how - despite tremendous obstacles - the Church moved forward. And we will see that these same principles can be part of our church today – they are timeless truths. The Book of Acts also shows us that nothing could keep the Good News about Jesus from spreading everywhere. That’s interesting. Isn’t that the mission of Crane Chapel?

Working together is a very important part of Christianity and it’s a very important piece of Crane Chapel’s history. Crane is a body of believers that has learned to work together. God has so many different jobs for us to do over the next months. We need to be open and willing to serve one another and with one another.

One of the most important things you can do as a person and as a church body is to make disciples. Discipleship is a biblical command that is not practiced in today’s world as much as it should be. Wouldn’t it be great if Crane Chapel started a new trend? See, when disciples are made, unbelievers are displaced and things in a community begin to change. Dramatically! People cannot serve two masters at the same time. You either serve Christ or something else. To be a disciple of Christ means that you study His words, see what He did, and then do what He said and did. This is the work of the Church: To expand His Church by being both an example and a disciple-maker in the community.

Back to that groundbreaking in April: Each person present that day felt the joy and the anticipation and the thrill of it. The beginning of construction is now reality and it’s a visible sign that Crane Chapel is moving ahead. It really does stir the emotion. Let’s channel that emotion now into the area of discipleship and the growth of God’s Church. We really did break more than just ground. We reaffirmed the mission of Crane Chapel.

Each of you has a gift or two or more. Each of you has a place not only in church, but also in history, an appointment by God. You are a piece of the Divine puzzle. You are part of God's plan and method. He wants you to be used, to be a part of His ministry to this community and the world. I am looking forward to sharing the timeless truths from the Book of Acts. Join me. And bring a friend!

-Pastor Mark Goossen

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Shepard & Mommy

Selah & Mommy

September 17th

December 18th

December 12th

April 23rd