Christian Heritage, Family Worship and Woodland Christian Church

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Was able to meet these two men, Tedd Tripp and Voddie Baucham, the keynote speakers at the conference.

Friday and Saturday a number of families from WCC attended the Annual Christian Heritage Conference. What a blessing it was for me as a pastor to think of all the great teaching washing over so many in our church family. It’s similar to the feeling I had a few weeks ago when a number of people attended the ACBC (Association of Certified Biblical Counselors) training in Portland, knowing part of our body is becoming better equipped to minister to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Another way the conference blessed me was in regards to strengthening a few of my convictions:

  • Parents need to disciple their children: Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
  • Fathers need to be spiritual leaders in their homes, instructing their children: Ephesians 6:4b Fathers, bring [your children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

These responsibilities don’t belong to the church. This is a divine calling given to parents. When I was involved in youth ministry I saw the failure associated with parents abdicating their roles, believing the church should do what God has commanded them to do. Families need to be praying and reading the Bible together, but while we don’t believe the church has the responsibility to raise the children in the church, it does have the responsibility to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4:11). This means churches need to come alongside parents and help them fulfill this tremendous calling. Hopefully the Marriage and Family Series – with so much emphasis on fathers being spiritual leaders – has provided encouragement in this area. We want to make sure fathers see themselves as the pastors (shepherds) of their families. One of the ways WCC would like to help equip families in this area is through the family worship guides Pastor Doug will be producing in the near future. The guide will include tools to assist families’ devotional times throughout the week.

With the Marriage & Family Series coming to an end at WCC, we want to make sure we don’t drift away from some of the important principles we’ve learned. James 1:23-24 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. We don’t want to be like this! We don’t want to spend months discussing what God’s Word says about families worshipping and praying together, only to turn around and forget what we’ve learned.

Our 2014 trip to CA (and Katie’s b-day)

Our 2014 trip to CA

I have to be a little more specific regarding which trip I’m referring to, since I have blog posts on our September 2013 trip to our hometown of Fall River Mills, CA, as well as Parts I and II of our December 2011 trip to Lemoore, CA.

Katie and I had a wonderful time. We visited many of our old friends as well as our previous church, Grace Baptist. We missed all of our Woodland friends and our church family – especially when looking at the pictures of the Harvest Party, but we really enjoyed the time of rest.

We arrived on Tuesday, October 21st in the evening and returned on Tuesday the 28th. We’re stayed with our wonderful friends Dave and Naida, whom we stayed with for our 2011 trip as well (here are previous posts I’ve written about them). We met in 2005 when we attended Calvary Chapel. They visited WCC in June of 2012 and shared during Sunday School, and they’re planning on visiting again in a few months.

Prior to arriving, Dave and Naida asked if we wanted them to fill our schedule with meetings and visits, but we told them we’d be happy relaxing at their house spending time with each other and with them. They’re the kind of friends we can talk with for hours, and even when we haven’t seen each other for years it feels like no time has passed between us. Plus, one of the main purposes of the trip was rest and relaxation…although we still stayed pretty busy…

Like I said, we arrived on Tuesday evening. We spent the evening with Dave and Naida, unpacked, then went to bed.

Wednesday, Dave invited me to meet with him and one of the young men he’s been discipling. In the evening Dave and Naida’s daughter Danielle and husband Charlie (two of our good friends when we were in Lemoore) came over for dinner and spent the evening with us.

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Thursday, Dave invited me to meet with him and an atheist he’s been witnessing to each week. Our previous pastor, Joe Gruchacz (I began my ministry under him at Grace Baptist as a part-time youth pastor and then full-time associate pastor), scheduled a “Marriage Toolbox” in the evening, which he invited me to lead. It worked out wonderfully since I was able to use the material from our Marriage & Family Series at WCC. I asked Katie to look through my sermons and find the lessons she thought would make good “tools” for people to take with them.

We spent most of Friday relaxing at Dave and Naida’s, and in the afternoon we went to Pastor Joe’s house and spent the evening with him and his wife Janet. They took us to the Cheesecake Factory in Fresno, then we went back to their house and prayed together.

10325242_765315453504460_1857955430012611486_nSaturday, Katie and Naida attended a bridal shower and Dave and I spent the afternoon together. In the evening Dave and Naida put on an Open House for our friends from the area to come and hear about our ministry at WCC.

1801309_765881770114495_920414317427170050_oSunday I preached at Grace Baptist, again using material from the Marriage & Family Series…and again I asked Katie to choose the lessons she thought would be most valuable to everyone. After service, we went out to lunch with a small group of friends.

10623752_765881893447816_5623008548092812676_oThen Sunday afternoon and evening we visited our good friends Steve and Sylvia McCartha, who have really suffered since acquiring Lyme Disease, including not being able to leave their home at times because of Sylvia’s low white blood cell count.

Monday we had a really special morning with Dave and Naida. We spent hours after breakfast talking, and I feel like the Lord really guided and blessed our conversation. Then for our last day Katie and I spent our time together, going out to lunch and walking around the mall. In the evening we had dinner with Dave and Naida and our friends Barry and Pam came over too.

Tuesday morning we got up, had breakfast and headed to the airport. Katie’s father Rick picked us up at the airport, as he was staying at our house with Rhea, Ricky and Charis. My parents were visiting a timeshare and they’d taken Johnny with them. They said they were returning on Thursday, so while we were glad to be back and see our other kids, we were sad about not seeing Johnny (or my parents) for a few more days.

This also happened to be Katie’s birthday, and her sister Molly invited us over to their house in the evening. Molly and her husband DJ purchased a place right next to the church when they moved here a few months ago. Katie knew Molly was making her a cake for her birthday, but my parents surprised us by coming home from their timeshare early with Johnny. It ended up being a wonderful ending to a wonderful week.

photo 1Overall, I’m thankful for my parents and Katie’s parents watching the kids most of the time we were gone (a few other families watched the kids a couple nights and we’re thankful for them too), and I’m especially thankful for Dave and Naida’s hospitality and the love they showed us while we were with them. It was great to see old friends and our previous church, but whenever we’re away it makes us recognize what a gift we have in WCC as well.

Missing a Sermon

Missing a Sermon

We’re beginning our Marriage & Family Series and I’ve asked the congregation a favor: “If you miss a Sunday please be sure to listen to the sermon on our website.” I’m making this request because sermons build on each other. While we’ve been in Luke it’s been important to know what took place earlier to better understand what will take place later, but during this series it’s going to be even more significant for understanding and spiritual growth to be familiar with the material previously preached. For example, yesterday’s sermon discussing the Greek words for love (eros, storge, phileō, and agapaō) will prepare us for this Sunday’s sermon on Ephesians 5:25 which says, Husbands, love (agapaō) your wives, just as Christ also loved (agapaō) the church and gave Himself for her.”

I’ve said before that I pray throughout the week about what God wants me to preach, down to the individual words; my prayer could be summarized as, “Lord, what do You want to say to Your people through me?” In a recent post, Pastors are Prophets???, I discussed prophecy being part of the preaching of God’s Word. This is according to 1 Corinthians 14:3 which says, He who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” The Amplified words it this way: “The one who prophesies [who interprets the divine will and purpose IN INSPIRED PREACHING AND TEACHING] speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation. Unfortunately, we tend to think of prophecy as predicting (foretelling) the future, but it’s much better to think of prophecy as proclaiming (forth telling) the Word of God.

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “[Jesus] gave pastors and teachers [to the church], for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The Greek construction of the words pastors and teachers indicates the terms go together; in English they could be hyphenated as pastor-teacher emphasizing the pastor’s ministry in teaching. 2 Timothy 3:17 says, “Scripture equips the man of God for every good work.” If pastors have the responsibility to equip the saints, and Scripture is what they’re equipped with, it only makes sense pastors would shepherd or feed God’s flock by teaching them Scripture. My desire is for God to use me to equip WCC for ministry, which for the Marriage & Family Series will be the ministries of family and marriage. I pray God uses these sermons to equip the members of WCC for every good work in their homes.