Preaching the Gospel isn't Just With Your Mouth!

I'm just a little over 10 mounts out from major oral cancer surgery.  I'm doing great!  My only issue is difficulty in speaking and difficulty in eating.  I can do both things, but both give me trouble.  Due to lack of any nerve feeling in my lower mouth and jaw, food is often hard to eat.  I also had to have all of my lower teeth pulled.  I can eat many things, but some foods remain a challenge.  Last night we went with some friends to a local Italian restaurant.  I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo thinking that the pasta would be easy to eat.  Well, it wasn't.  I had to take most of it home. 

I had most of my lower jaw bone removed and replaced with a bone from my right leg.  Therefore, due to the healing process, it still may be several years before I can have dental implants installed.  So...I wait!

My speaking is also difficult.  Most people just speak as a normal way of life.  I often have to think about what I'm about to say and then try hard to form the words right.  Some words are just impossible for me to say clearly.  Sometimes it gets rather funny and sometimes it gets rather frustrating!

I'm a preacher and I have a message burning in my heart!  It is the message of God's wonderful gift of grace, given to all of mankind.  I can't stop talking about it!  Even though after a Sunday morning message, I'm exhausted for the next couple of days, I don't want to quit talking about Jesus and His finished works!  But...I've also discovered that there are some other ways to preach about New Covenant Grace.

Of course, I can write about it!  I just finished a new book, When God Doesn't Heal: Avoiding Fear, Shame and Condemnation.  This book tells of my personal  journey through cancer as well as shares some of the lessons that I've learned about God and more importantly about myself.  It is also full of more lessons that I've learned about Grace.  I am trusting that it will help people who are beat up and condemned because they are sick and for some reason they feel that God's hasn't healed them yet.  So, yes, I can write instead of talking.  This is probably going to be a more consistently form of preaching for me.  

However, the best form of preaching is my life!  That's right...I trust that people can see the Grace of God being manifested in my every day life.  I know that I've changed since embracing the tenants of New Covenant Grace.  But, I hope that others can see that change and actually want what I have.  You see, our words can be cheap!  We can say we embrace Grace, but then when the bottom falls out of our life, Grace flies out the window. No one wants that type of Grace!  I want people to see not just hear about the Grace that is active in my life! 

I hope that you too, can preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ by your life and not just your words!  At least it's something to think about, huh?

Grace and peace!

 


Some Benefits of Our Church....

I often wonder why anyone would every wish to attend our church, New Covenant Grace Fellowship in Inverness, Florida?  After all, we are a rather new congregation, a little over 4 years old and a very small congregation as well.  We don't have all of the "bells and whistles" in place.  For instance, we do not have a worship band playing live music. We don't have an exciting, dynamic youth group to entertain the kids.  Our building is small.  When a child cries in the back you hear it up front.  I could go on and on about why someone wouldn't consider our church.

However, despite any negative issues, our church is actually very healthy!  During the summer months we have been suffering from a lack of people, due to vacations, etc.  But our services have been exceptional. 

Here are just a few thoughts on why I feel our church could benefit anyone who feels to attend:

  1. Our church is entirely grace centered.  We focus totally on the finished works of Jesus Christ. 
  2. We do not mix any law with grace.  I'm not just talking about  just the old covenant law of Moses either.  I talking about trying to please God by following any type of law.  A good example would be dress codes, etc.  I live in Florida so I wear shorts and sandals every Sunday. I hope that doesn't offend you!
  3. Our goal is to see to it that people feel better about themselves when they leave our services than when they arrived.  I think we are doing a pretty good job of fulfilling that goal!
  4. Even though we are small, our bills are getting paid.  We do not always beg and plead for money just to pay our bills.  Some weeks it's close, but we don't have to resort to placing guilt trips on people in order to get them to give!  We just proclaim what works in the area of finances.
  5. We don't have a "dynamic youth group!"  But we do have a youth group led by a "dynamic" youth pastor!  Dave Schirmer is full of love and teaches the kiddos messages of grace, constantly and emphatically emphasizing God's love for mankind, including the kids!
  6. No, we don't have a dynamic, entertaining worship team and band.  However, our worship leader, Kris Schirmer, does a very impressive job of finding the right recorded music to enhance our church's focus on grace.  You will not sing songs declaring how bad you are.  Instead, the core thought is on all of God's love released through all that Christ did on His cross.
  7. A body who ministers.... We don't have just a few people pray and minister to others during our services.  Instead, we allow the Holy Spirit to work in other members, thus allowing them to minister to the needs of others in attendance. 
  8. There is a lot of love floating around in our church!  There are no words that can describe this, so I won't even try.  This is something that you just have to experience!
  9. No rules and regulations!  In our church you won't be told what not to do.  Instead, you will be told a lot about Jesus.  We trust that He can lead us in what not to do and in what to do!
  10. Fun!  We are a church that has a lot of fun.  We laugh and laugh together.  Usually some of us go out to eat after the service.  This fellowship is awesome and all are invited!  Sometimes I come home with a sore side from all of the laughing I do during lunch.Well, these are some of the reasons why I feel that our church is a good one to attend.  Now, if you are pretty religious, you won't be happy with our group.  If you feel that you have to repent of your sins all of the time for fear of loosing your salvation, you better stay away!  I think you get the point!  Anyway, thanks for letting share my thoughts with you today.  My thought are about what I feel is really the most dynamic church in Citrus County!  Glory!Grace and peace!

It's the Message....Just the Message!

The other day I posted a Blog entitled, "How to Choose the Right Church!" That post seemed to get a lot of attention.  This morning I was thinking more on the subject and felt to share some of my heart on it.

In the past post, I mentioned that there are usually several reasons why people choose the church that they do.  Among them was, "dynamic youth group, dynamic worship, large in numbers, many family and friends attend, etc."  Most likely you could add many other reasons to the list.  Here's one I thought of this morning, "My pastor is a dynamic speaker!"  I have to chuckle some at this one as I've never considered myself a "dynamic speaker!"  And, now, due to last year's cancer surgery in my neck and mouth I often have a difficult time just speaking, let alone being "dynamic" about it!  To me, I sound like a person trying to talk with a mouth full of marbles.  I'm glad that people in our church say that they have no problem understanding me, but to me speaking is a very tedious chore!  So, these days, I'm anything but a dynamic speaker!

The core to the past post was, that no matter how large the church is, no matter how dynamic the worship is, no matter how exciting the youth group is or no matter how gifted the pastor is, if the message of the church is wrong, then the church is wrong!  I know that many don't have the slightest idea about what I'm talk about here.  That to me is the saddest thing of all! 

Do you realize that in the days of the Early Church, over 2000 years ago, there was only one message.  It wasn't a mixed message of law and grace, it was totally grace only!  In it's formation days, the Church of the day was headed down the road into law and legalism.  James and Peter's vision was pretty much to see the Church follow Jewish traditions, including the Law and just add Christ to the mix.  At the same time, Paul was in Arabia for three years, receiving revelations from Christ Himself, learning the fullness of His finished works, in the New Covenant.  Paul later brought those revelations back to Jerusalem and shared them with the Brethren.  Thankfully, they received Paul's teaching and realized it was of God.  The Church of the day, reached out to the Gentiles, bringing them freedom outside of the Jewish Law.  A good read on the subject is the Book of Galatians.

Now, in the Day, there were no large church buildings, no dynamic youth groups, no dynamic speakers, there was only the message of God's love and Christ's free gift of grace to all of mankind!  You see, back then it was "It's the message...just the message!"

I trust that you can grasp some understanding on this today.  At least I trust the Holy Spirit will plant a bug of hunger within you, giving you the desire to seek the fullness of the transformed life found only within New Covenant Grace!

Grace and peace!


Grace is Easy and That is the Problem!

In my thinking here are the three best books around that expound the simplicity of basic New Covenant Grace:

3 good books

They are: Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince (www.josephprince.com), God's Brilliant Plan: Searching for the Easy and Light Life Jesus Promised by Mark Drake (www.markdrake.org) and The River is Here: My Journey Into New Covenant Grace by Yours Truly (www.larrysilverman.com).  All three of these books are of great value to anyone searching for the greatness that only New Covenant Grace allows.

Mark Drake's subtitle is: Searching For the Easy and Light Life Jesus Promised.  I love that subtitle and I use it lots.  I've told Mark that I've stolen it from him and he has given me complete permission as his only desire is to spread "the message!"  That subtitle says it all. So many Christians are encumbered by performance based religion that they completely miss out on the rest that is only found in the Gospel of Grace.  On a wall of our church sanctuary, New Covenant Grace Fellowship located in Inverness, Florida, we have this posted, "He is the Vine, we are the branches...so rest!"  You see, that message is the message of rest that Jesus provides those who understand His finished works.  Instead of praying more, attending church more, tithing more, fasting more, worshiping more, etc., etc., we rest in Him!

Yes, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ affords an "easy and light life" to all who adhere to Him.  And ....that seems to be the rub!  Some are so works oriented that it is impossible for them to rest in God.  After all we all know that if it seems too be good to be true it isn't true!  Well, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is simple.  Yes, it seems too good to be true...but it IS TRUE!  

In the early days of our basic understanding of Grace my wife and I would spend hours with our Bibles discussing the earth-shaking things that the Holy Spirit was showing us.  The revelations came so quickly to us that we were actually overwhelmed them.  "This is impossible!" we'd say as another door of revelation would open to us.  But it was there...all in the Bibles that we've read and studied from and even preached from for years.  The simple truth was there!  Instead of rejecting it as many do, we embraced it in every way we could.  As a result our lives were transformed.  We are closer to God than ever before.  Our marriage is stronger than ever before.  We are tempted to do bad things, but now find a new inner power to resist them.  Our thoughts are purer and more positive and we are watching the same things happen to those who have followed our journey.  So...if this is a bad thing, then just leave me alone.  Just let me stay there, enjoying the rest that God, through Jesus Christ has provided us!

I hope you have a chance to read the books mentioned above.  Read them with an open heart.  If you see something you disagree with, don't reject it but put it on the shelf.  Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if its truth or not.  He will!  Glory!

Grace and peace!

 


How to Choose the Right Church!

OK, for the sake of transparency and honesty, I wish to state in the beginning, that most likely I am the pastor of the smallest church in Citrus County, Florida!  Well, maybe there are a few smaller, but sometimes I think that ours wins that title!  If everyone that considers our church their home would show up the same time on any given Sunday morning, we'd probably have about 50 people.  Our church is new, only about four years old.  We had a larger ministry but when we began to come into revelations of New Covenant Grace, we felt to close that old ministry and walk away from the past and plant a new ministry, based entirely on the concepts of God's New Covenant.  We actually named our church, New Covenant Grace Fellowship, and have dedicated our ministry to fully proclaiming the finished works of Jesus Christ to our region. 

I, and most of our congregation are thrilled about what is going on within our church.  Yet, we would love to see our congregation grow to be much larger.  My vision would be to see hundreds of people within our county embracing the "Grace Message" (for lack of better words) and actually plant new groups all over the state.  Yet, it seems to be so difficult to expand to the degree that we would like to see happen, probably for many reasons.  Any pastor of a small church faces the same issues...HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU GROW WHEN PEOPLE JUST WON'T GIVE YOU A CHANCE???

People in America "shop" for a church just like they do for hamburgs, TV sets, new cars and homes, etc. In other words, "I want it my way!"  I have been told, over the years, many times, "If your church had a dynamic youth group we'd bring our family!"  Do you know that I have never been told, "I feel God wants me to help you create a dynamic youth group!"  Some people "church shop" by driving around Sunday mornings counting the cars in the parking lots of area churches.  If it is large, then it must be good!  Some actually think that by attending a small church, that they will have to "pony up" to more obligation and responsibility.  Many believe that small churches are so desperate for money that to be involved will be very costly. Some people are attracted to "awesome worship!"  Years ago, while we traveled in ministry, I recall bill boards posted all over a large California city, proclaiming, "Come worship the Lord with Bro. _____!"  This guy was a famous Christian recording artist and had aligned himself with a large, area church.  The word was the people flocked to this church on Sundays to participate with this guy leading worship.  I've often wondered where the division between worship and entertainment ends?  I suppose I could add many other reasons why people today pick the churches that they attend.  Oh...here is one more big one:  "All of my friends and family attend that church!"  OK..I'll end my list of reasons here!

I also wonder if all of the above reasons (and others not mentioned) are sufficient or essential?  For instance, you can attend a church with the most awesome worship, one where all of your friends attend as well, a place where the youth programs are just professional and off the charts, and your children are taught that they have to do tons of things, in order to measure up, in order for God to be pleased with them and you, my friend, have just totally blown it!  You have subjected your family to a mixed message of law and grace, and have totally frustrated the true Gospel of Jesus Christ!  Not good! 

Years ago, Corinne was involved in picking out new Sunday School curriculum for our church.  She ordered sample packs from several of the large, popular, Christian publishing companies.  One of the most popular companies sent her samples.  In one we read these exact words, I'll never forget them, "It is so important for you children to obey your parents, your teachers, your church leaders, so that God will be pleased with you and bless you!"  Friends...    THIS IS A LIE!  God is pleased with your children, not because of what they do or don't do, but because of what Christ did on His cross!  Yet, churches, large and small, all over America were using this junk to teach their children false doctrine!  Who cares how "dynamic" the youth ministry is, how much fun the kids have in Jr. Church, etc., if what they are being taught will mess them up the rest of their lives!!!

So, how should you find a church for your family? By it's size, it's programs, it's worship, etc., or by the message it teaches?  If the message centers upon all the things that you should do or not be doing to be pleasing to God, example;  pray more, worship more, give more money, fast more, live more holy, etc., etc., etc., then you should be running for the door as that church will mess you up for the rest of your life!  If on the other hand, your church proclaims that Christ has made you holy and righteous, that His works have been finished, and that there is nothing more that you can do to become what, in fact, you already are, then you must be in the right place, no mater if the congregation is 10 or 10,000!

In closing, please read:

Galatians 5:1-4New Living Translation (NLT)

Freedom in Christ

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.


Thinking Outloud!

Blogging has its good points as well as its bad points.  It is good that I can share my heart with anyone interesting in reading my words, on social media.  However, it can also be bad that anyone can read my heart's thoughts on social media and use my words to misunderstand me.  So, this morning, getting prepared to leave for our church service, I was thinking....a dangerous thing!

I was thinking that for my entire ministry I have spent most of my time swimming upstream!  I always seem to swim against the status quo.  I don't do this on purpose, because, in all honesty, I'd much rather swim down the stream with everyone else.  I know that my life would have been much simpler had I chosen to go with the current instead of against it.  Who knows, by now I might be retired, with a cushy retirement package from some large church somewhere?  Maybe, just maybe, that might be the case!  But, no...not me!  I constantly see things that the majority cannot seem to see or comprehend.

Here is an example:  Several years ago, Corinne and I began to read our Bibles from an entirely new point of view, one that we had never seen before.  Instead of understanding that we as Christians must do a lot of things to please God, we saw that He is already pleased with us because of what Christ did on the cross.  Now, this is just scratching the surface as our Bibles became entirely new books!  Those words were already there, but we had never seen them, or understood them properly before.  I thought that the people of our church would really be excited about what we began teaching them.  Many were and their lives, like ours, were completely transformed.  Yet, there were others that thought that we had lost our minds and left our church, many shouting, "heretics" loudly while leaving.  Talk about hurt!  Here we were sharing such good news and not only was our message shot down, but we were personally shot down as well. 

I have something burning within me that can transform the world, at least I wish to reach our county with it, but it seems that most wish to swim down the river of religion instead of taking a little effort, and swim upstream into God's grace and freedom.  I continue to scratch my head in not understanding this!

However, I will never go back to the old ways!  I'm preaching on Psalm 51 this morning.  You know the one, where David cries out to God, "Create in me a clean heart, Oh Lord, etc."   That's religion's cry while they swim on down the stream.  Not me though...I'm swimming up that river, crying out...THANK YOU LORD, FOR YOU HAVE CREATED WITHIN ME A CLEAN HEART!"

That's my story and I'm sticking with it! 

Grace and peace upon you, this Sunday morning!
 


Yikes! Our A/C is Down!

So, yesterday morning we awoke to a hot, stuffy house.  Yep, the 14 year old air conditioner was not working!  A call was made to the Repair Guy, but he couldn't get here until around 5:00 P.M.  By then the outside temp was hovering at 93, with very humid, sticky air.  The sad news was the motor on the  outside compressor was kaput!  A new motor was ordered and should be here sometime this afternoon.  Yippie!

Last night we turned our ceiling fans on and I took a cool shower before going to bed.  We both actually slept very well.  However, I was thinking this morning, just how spoiled I am.  We live in Florida.  We are not the hottest state in the Union, but possibly the muggiest!  Corinne and I often talk about how the old "Crackers" actually made it living here.  I can't even begin to imagine not wearing shorts and sandals every day of the week.  Once in awhile we get to learn more of old Florida, Cracker heritage.  Those old homes, most without even screens on the windows and no fans or air conditioning units must have been unbearable during the summer.  I shudder at the thought of trying to sleep at night while being buzzed by mosquitoes and noseeums  all night long, while laying in a puddle of sweat!  People must have smelled pretty ripe back in those days!

As a kid, growing up in hot, humid Michigan summertime, I can remember my Dad, an on the road salesman, coming home from a two-three day road trip before the days of auto A/C.  He would be totally beat!  Dad always wore a ball cap to keep the sun off his bald head and out of his eyes.  His tie would be hanging loose around his neck, and his shirt would be wringing wet!  Often Mom, would have a picnic supper all packed and ready to go. Dad would quickly change and we would all head for a local lake to eat supper and soak in the cool water most of the evening.  Then we would come home and sweat again because we didn't have A/C in the house in those days.  How happy my Siblings and I were when one day Dad announced that he was going to have a in ground swimming pool installed.  After it was installed, as soon as Dad got home, I'd put a chuck roast on our fire pit.  Mom would have the other fixings ready to go, and by the time Dad cooled off in the pool, we'd eat and spend the rest of the evening in the water.  What awesome memories!

OK...enough of the old days!  Suffice it to say, I'm glad that we have air conditioned cars, homes and everything else here in Florida these days!  And...yes, I'm spoiled and I like it that way! 

So, here is to a happy afternoon when our A/C Guy shows up! 


The Distorted View of God!

OK, I've been very remiss in blogging lately.  My poor excuse has been that I've been very busy writing the manuscript of my new book, based on my battle with cancer and the lessons learned.  So, this morning, I've felt the nudge to get a blog update up and running.  So here it is....

You may or may not be aware of the fact that every morning, seven days per week, I write a short Facebook post that I call Grace Nugget of the Day.  This post is a very short, one or two sentence thought I wish to share in regards to the principles of New Covenant Grace.  These posts are all Scripture based, even though I never list the verses that refer to the Nugget as I desire the reader to do a little searching for themselves.  One day I hope to include the Nuggets in a one year, daily devotional book.  It would state the daily Nugget, list the Scripture reference, have a short, one or two paragraph meditation and end with a daily prayer.  This thought is based upon many daily meditation type books that are available, only this one will be 100% New Covenant Grace.

Yesterday's Nugget was: "To say you still sin is to put Christ back on the cross!"  Of course, I certainly created a little tension with this post.  I knew I would!  One guy, not even a Facebook Friend, replied several times to my original post, totally in disagreement with me and ended up calling me a "fool."  Of course, at that time I blocked him.  I had another person post a quote from a famous writer of a very old daily devotional book, written maybe 100 years ago, that was in disagreement with my original Nugget.

You know, the issue of sin can really stir up the troops!  I had to reply a short post that stood in disagreement with the old, famous author.  In thinking about this some today, I kinda stand in amazement about how some of our old doctrines of the Church have come about.  And, here I am, not some famous author or theologian, standing in opposition to those who are famous.  It's kinda like, "Who does Larry think he is?" 

Here is what I've discovered as a result of my journey into New Covenant Grace: I have had to do a lot of mind changing over the past years!  You see, there was a time, not too many years ago, that I most likely would have labeled me a heretic!  That's right!  How well I remember, the times gone by, when God was revealing Grace to Corinne and I.  At first we thought that we had fallen off the edge of correct theology and doctrine, into the abyss of heresy and error.  It was very scary to have to admit that we had been teaching false doctrine all of these years.  That's right, I said, FALSE DOCTRINE!      You see, to teach that Christians can still sin is, false doctrine!  Ouch!  No one likes to hear that!  Yet, it's true!

Most of us in ministry teach only that which we have been taught.  Most Christians believe only what their pastors have taught them.  This is not a problem if the teaching is correct, but if it isn't correct, then we end up believing and often propagating false doctrine.  The first thing I discovered, years ago, was that I needed to open my mind to change.  Some, just refuse to do that!  The guy who called me a fool refused to open his mind to the possibility that he was wrong.

OK...this blog is getting way too long.  You can tell that I've not written one for awhile!  Please allow me to just state in closing, that we are to show the world a non-distorted view of God.  It is a distortion to suggest that sin still exists!  It places Christ back on the cross.  He no longer is there.  Hebrews says that He died only once, not over and over!  Here is just one of many, many verses that suggest that Christ did away with all sin.  I close with it!  2 Corinthians 5:19, "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, NO LONGER COUNTING PEOPLE'S SINS AGAINST THEM."  The question I often ask people is, "What part of NO LONGER don't they understand?

Grace and peace!


So Just What is the Good News?

Is the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, telling people that they are sinners and are going to hell?  Is that really the Good News?  Or is the Good News telling people that God loves them, in spite of what they have done, and that Christ has forgiven all of their sins?  What message did Paul preach under the New Covenant?

I find myself always swimming upstream!  I've often wondered why this is my lot in life!  I am certain that being a pastor of a typical charismatic church, with good worship, a good message and good programs would advance my church much faster that it is currently advancing.  If you know me at all, you also understand that I never seem to be able to travel those roads.  Oh, I've been there!  I was taught all of those things, but the more I understand God the more I just can't go there anymore! 

I used to be able to preach a good hell-fire sermon just like the others that I patterned my ministry after.  However, in the past few years I have found God in such a personal way that I can only share my new insight with people I minister to.  I can no longer preach hell; I can only preach God's love!

I remember a day, many years ago, when I was spending some time in prayer in the church sanctuary where I had been pastor for several years.  If I remember correctly, our church had been going through a difficult time and I, personally, was going through a lot of internal battle as a result.  I was walking around, praying as I paced, asking God to move for me and our church.  I will never forget that as I prayed I felt that I almost heard an audible voice, one of a few times in my life when I've heard God so clearly).  The voice said, "No longer preach against sin, I'll take care of that!"  I was astonished at not only hearing that voice but hearing the message of the voice!  The voice continued, "Your job is to only lift up Jesus!"  The thought that immediately followed was, "When I am lifted up I'll draw all men unto myself."  (John 12:32)  Those words were very hard hitting as I was a preacher who prided himself on preaching against sin. I can only begin to imagine the multitudes of people that I drove out of my church and away from God by just preaching against smoking cigarettes!

You see, I thought that I was preaching the Good News, but I wasn't!  My message wasn't Good News at all!  And Alas..I fear that much of the message of the modern Church isn't really the Good News either!  You see, it's time to once again to begin preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  After all, Paul never asked even one person to pray a "sinner's prayer."  He never preached a message of repentance, at least as we understand it today.  Instead, Paul's message of repentance was simply, "Change your mind about what you think about God!"  It's that simple...."If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you shall be saved."  It doesn't get any easier that that!

Come on Church....It's time we forget all of the spiritual warfare, all of the sin stuff and preach that God so loved the world! 

That's my take on things and I'll stick to it!

Grace and peace!


Salt and Light

I have a busy morning scheduled for today.  I'll be working on my new book, When God Doesn't Heal: Avoiding Fear, Shame and Condemnation. I'm really excited about this book as it chronicles my journey through cancer and major surgery, but shows the compassion of God through Christ in providing a new covenant to all of mankind. 

One of the results for me personally in writing this book is the awesome times of reflections that have been afforded me.  I'm seeing more and more insights into the wonderful life of grace.  To be honest, I just cannot understand why every Believer in Christ alive today doesn't flood the doors of any church where the message of grace is consistently preached.  Yet, in reality, this just doesn't happen!  It saddens me that it doesn't.  Grace is so freeing, so wonderful and it is the true Gospel, Good News, of Jesus Christ.  However, to those of us who embrace grace we have a message to get out.  After all we are salt and light to a pretty mixed up world.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-14, "You are the salt of the earth.  But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again?  It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.  You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father."

We recently moved into a small subdivision.  We have an association with a club house, etc.  This Saturday the association is sponsoring a cook out for the community.  Everyone can bring a dish to pass and partake of some hot dogs and hamburgs.  In the neighborhood there is a Christian couple who faithfully attend a local church.  I asked them the other day if they were going to the cook out.  The answer I got back was, "No, there will be drinking there and we won't attend events like that!"  Now don't get me wrong, this couple are pretty awesome people, but I find that their response is just too "Churchy!"  Granted there will be an Happy Hour from 3:00 - 4:00 P.M. but I really doubt that the event will turn into a drunken brawl.  I'm not going to attend the event to drink alcohol. Most likely Corinne and I will bring along a couple of bottles of soda and mingle with those drinking beer.  I'm not even going to attend the event to eat the hotdogs and burgs.  I'm going to be there, but I'll be on a mission. My goal will be to meet my new neighbors and to display to them  that this Christian (pastor) doesn't bite! Yes,  I will treat the cook out as a mission field.  Who knows what may happen, and as I form some new relationships with some new people I just may have an opportunity to tell them about my Jesus one day! 

But....It this  is for certain, if I stay home because someone will be drinking a bottle of beer in my presence I'll never be able to tell them about the wonders of God.  That's for sure!

It's time that the Church once again pushes religion aside and becomes salt and light to a very mixed up world! 

Grace and peace!