Gun Violence

Key Scripture: Genesis 4:1-18

Gun violence and mass shootings have become a pervasive and petrifying problem in our country. Since 1982, there have been 109 mass shootings in the U.S. that have left 883 dead and 1,328 wounded. It seems no place in our society is really safe, as these acts of violence have taken place at schools, the workplace, restaurants, and even churches. Gun violence as a whole results in more than 11,000 murders every year in our country and more than 20,000 deaths by suicide. When the news breaks of yet another shooting, the public debate over gun control and mental health begins anew. How do we stop this evil from happening? To stop violence in our country ultimately requires going to the source of the problem: the human heart. When a person feels extreme rejection from an individual or from society as a whole, that hurt can turn into anger and acts of vengeance. As the Church, we must show people they are known and loved and give them a place to belong. We must also examine our own hearts for any evidence of anger or bitterness and sever the root of violence through the grace and forgiveness found in Christ.

Scripture References: Matthew 5:21-22, Hebrews 11:4, Genesis 3:15, Romans 6:14, Hebrews 12:24, Matthew 5:23-24, Ephesians 4:32, Ephesians 2:13

Immigration

Key Scripture: Luke 10:25-37

Immigration and mass migration have become complicated and divisive problems in our country. Since 1960, the U.S. has continued to serve as the top destination for international migrants as the land of freedom and opportunity. This influx has led to increasingly tense public debate over our national economy and security as we struggle to balance our humanitarian responsibility with our ability to care for humanity. Is the ultimate solution walls and travel bans, or can we make a greater difference as the Church? Immigration is a problem for our country because the Church has failed in her imitation of our Christ. God repeatedly calls His people to care for the foreigner and love the immigrant, not as a matter of public policy but as a matter of personal responsibility. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us that the surest solution to immigration concerns is not an open or closed border, but the open doors of the Church and Christian homes. Will we love others the way He has loved us?

Other Scripture References: Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Psalm 146:9, Leviticus 19:9-10, Leviticus 19:33-34, James 2:15-16, 1 John 3:17-18, Matthew 25:35, John 8:48

Abortion

Key Scripture: Proverbs 24:11-12

Abortion is a most serious problem in our country and in our world. This past January 22nd marked the 46th anniversary of the landmark SCOTUS decision, Roe v. Wade, that made it illegal for any state to ban abortion. Since that time, nearly 60 million legal abortions have been performed in the U.S., an average of 1.3 million abortions per year. This means that for every 1,000 babies born, more than 200 have been killed prior to birth. How is this still happening? Every day, lies are told and laws give permission for this evil to be committed in ignorance and defiance. As the Church, we must educate and inform people with the truth – that every unborn child is very much a child and has a God-given right to life. We must also offer hope to those considering abortion, showing them it is not their only way out. We must use our voice to speak for those who don’t yet have one. We must fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.

Scripture References: Luke 18:15-16, Luke 1:44, 46, Psalm 139:16

Racism

Key Scripture: Ephesians 2:13-16

Racism remains a serious problem in our world. People are still pre-judged by the color of their skin and by their outward appearance, not by the content of their character. Our divided World is desperately in need of a united Church who is determined to see each other as God sees us. Jesus died to bring an end to pride, to fear, and to prejudice. The Cross demolishes distinctions we make for ourselves and unites us in our humanity, our sin and our salvation. As the Church, we are called to fight against Ignorance by listening to and learning from others who have different experiences than we have. We must overcome Indignation and pursue reconciliation and freedom through Forgiveness. We must oppose Indifference and acknowledge racism as our problem – not just their problem. One day, “every tribe and language and people and nation” will be united in God’s presence forever. Until then, let’s give the world a glimpse of that glorious Day!

Scripture References: Galatians 3:27-28, James 2:1, James 1:19-20, Romans 5:8

There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society…If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. – Martin Luther King, Jr. (Letter from the Birmingham Jail, 1963)

Apply Within

Key Scripture: Matthew 5:13-16

Poverty. Racism. Immigration. Gun Violence. Abortion. Human Trafficking. Our world has problems. God has plenty to say about the problems in our world, and He wants to use His Church to do something about them. The Christian Church has been the single most influential and world-shaping entity in human history. Recently, however, we have lost – or rather, abdicated – our position of transformational influence. We tend to focus on the wrong things and do little to meet the needs and fix the problems our culture is actually facing. We care more about our needs being met in church than we care about meeting needs as the Church. We have lost sight of the need, the brokenness, and the Battle. And it’s time to re-engage. Help is Wanted. Apply today!

Scripture References: Isaiah 5:1-2, Matthew 7:16-20, Matthew 16:18

(Those who have) applied to serve in the legion of the expendables; who love not their lives unto the death; who volunteer to suffer for Christ’s sake and who follow up their application with lives that challenge the devil and invite the fury of hell. – A.W. Tozer

Wise Christmas

Key Scripture: Matthew 2: 1-12

During the Christmas season, we never seem to have enough money. Our bank account balance falls miserably short of everything we want to buy for friends and family, so we put it on a credit card and hope for the best. Instead of snow-balling our debt and paying it off, we end up crushed by a financial avalanche. If you’re missing Peace because of all of the “stuff” you need to get, it’s time to put Christ back in the center of your finances. Give regularly back to Him, especially during seasons when it’s most difficult to give. Learn to give like Him, caring more about the person than the present. The greatest gifts we receive have nothing to do with what we want, and everything to do with who we are and who we’re becoming. Instead of buying gifts that cost a lot, give gifts that mean a lot - and rediscover the Peace you’ve been missing.

Scripture References: 1 Timothy 6:17, 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Ephesians 4:28, Malachi 3:10

Christmas Time

Key Scripture:  Luke 1: 26-38

During the Christmas season, we never seem to have enough time. Our already busy schedule gets even more crowded with work parties, decorating the house, entertaining friends, shopping for those perfect gifts, and countless other holiday responsibilities. When our busy schedule and our crazy plans become the center of our lives, we will inevitably find ourselves missing Peace. It’s easy to be preoccupied with everything we need to get done without ever considering what Jesus actually wants us to do. When we submit to God’s will and serve Him as Master, He frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. This Christmas season, stop trying to get control of your crazy holiday schedule. Instead, give HIM control of your schedule and rediscover the Peace you’ve been missing.

Scripture References: Philippians 3:19, Matthew 22:27-40, Ephesians 5:15-16

God's Way

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 13:1-31

A life that matters is lived God’s Way; it’s a life of uncompromising obedience to His Word. This doesn’t just happen naturally. In fact, the sinful part of man constantly pulls him away from God and His perfect plan for us. Knowing this, we must do all we can to remove sinful influences that are destructive toward our Faith and not allow them to take root and take up residence in our lives. It’s vital to know and keep His commands when it comes to revenue, rest and relationships. These important areas of our lives directly affect the health of the only real essential area of life: our relationship with God. Are you living your own way? The World’s way? Or are you living God’s Way?

Scripture References: Galatians 5:17, Matthew 18:8-9, Galatians 5:4, Romans 7:6-7, Exodus 20:8, 11, Isaiah 30:15, 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, James 4:4

No Thanks

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 12: 1-47

Thanksgiving should be more than just a holiday; it should be a regular part of our lives. Our natural tendency, however, is to compare ourselves to other people which leads to discontentment. We end up focusing more on the problems in our lives and the things we don’t have. We give no thanks. Yet, even during times of loss and difficulty, it’s important to praise God for who He is and thank Him for what He’s done. If we have nothing else, we have been redeemed from our sin and given the gift of Life in Christ. Thanksgiving can be expressed through worship – singing songs of gratitude and praise - and through giving cheerfully back to God. When we choose to give thanks, we protect ourselves against anger and bitterness, and we experience greater health in our mind, body and relationships. Let’s give thanks this holiday and every day!

Scripture References:  Nehemiah 12:1, 8, 24, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Nehemiah 12:27-30, 31, 38, 40, 43, Numbers 19:9, Hebrews 9:14

Live Free

Key Scripture: Nehemiah 9:1-39

America is the “Land of the Free,” yet most Americans live in slavery every day. We celebrate our freedom to do what we want, forgetting that true freedom is also being able to not do what we don’t want. We are slaves to sin, to fear, and to addiction. We regularly make and break commitments to God, to others and even to ourselves. We’ve become accustomed to failure and all too familiar with shame. But Jesus came to set us free. We are no longer slaves to the rules of this world because we are children of God. We’ve been redeemed to be different. As followers of Jesus, we don’t live like others live, talk like others talk or even think like others think. He brought us into His family so we can stand out in this world. Is your life different? Are you really living free?

Scripture References: Nehemiah 9:36-38, John 8:34, Romans 7:15, 18-19, 24-25, Hebrews 7:22, 8:8-10, Nehemiah 10:28-29, John 12:31-32, 1 Peter 2:9, Nehemiah 10:30-39, Matthew 6:24, 33, Luke 12:15-21, Matthew 6:19-21, 2 Samuel 24:24