FALL 2013 DEVOTIONAL
INTRODUCTION It’s a very exciting time to be a member of Henderson Hills. In 2012, our Senior Pastor, Dennis Newkirk, took a brief sabbatical to refresh himself by spending time away with family and giving careful time to the study of God’s Word. During that time, Dennis was overcome by a burden for our church - but not because things were going poorly. In fact, just the opposite was true: things had been running “smoothly,” and everything at Henderson Hills was quite comfortable! God has been very good to our church, and by His grace we have been plugging along faithfully. And yet, in spite of this, Dennis was gripped by an unshakable burden: to see Henderson Hills push even harder; to see our church walk still further on the path of faithfulness to God and to His Word. Dennis didn’t have many answers. But he came back with this unmistakable burden, eager to share it. Upon his return, Dennis met with the Elder Council, calling them to a season of fasting and prayer. The Elders committed to intentionally set aside time to seek God’s will for the church and they too were overcome with this same burden. This culminated in the Elders meeting together to share what they sensed God leading our church to do. So what does this burden mean for you and for the church? Where is our church going? We can imagine you asking those questions and we hope that you are! Since that time, our Elder Council has worked tirelessly to draft, and ultimately adopt, a new Mission Statement, a new Vision Statement as well as a new set of Values Statements. These statements reflect not only what God is calling our church to do, and where He’s calling us to go, but more importantly, who God is calling us to be. One of the things you’ll notice as you read over these statements (included in the pages to follow), and even as we enter into this season of “Reveal,” is that we don’t see God “giving us a new script” - as in, out with the old, which just wasn’t working, and in with the new. That was never Dennis’s burden, and we don’t believe that to be true. Rather, it would be better to think of these changes as an exciting opportunity, first, to clarify who exactly God has called us to be as Henderson Hills Baptist Church; and secondly, as an encouragement to run even faster on this path to which God has called us. The path has not changed: God’s Word is eternal, and insofar as we have been faithful to His Word in the past, we want to continue down that ‘same ole path.’ But it’s time now to run harder, and to go even further. The purpose of this devotional is to introduce you to the ideas that are forming the “backbone” of the direction of our church, and to prepare your heart for what is ahead. God has stirred our Senior Pastor, He has stirred our Elders, and He has since stirred the hearts of our staff with this new Vision. We pray that He stirs your heart as well. By God’s grace, Henderson Hills will become the people that God has called us to be. Will you join with us?
MISSION Love God. Love people. Make disciples.
VISION Our vision is to become a diverse family of surrendered and transformed people who passionately love God and others. We endeavor to be a body that is overcome by the reality that this life is not about us, but all about the glory of God. We want to be transfixed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and compelled by His heart for our world. We strive to be seed-throwers and fire-starters, hopeannouncers and grace-givers, risk-takers and constant-reformers, lifelonglearners and sold-out doers. We desire to be a people who gladly give our lives to free the captive, strengthen the weak, embrace the outcast, and seek out the lost. Because Scripture is our authority, we strive to be a family that serves together, studies the Word together, plays together, worships together, and lives life together. By Godâ€™s grace our world will be changed because we are here.
VALUES STATEMENTS 1. Glorifying God: We value the passionate pursuit of knowing God and walking with Him.
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Studying the Bible (Psalm 119:10; 2 Timothy 3:16–17) Praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Luke 18:1–8) Worshipping in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24) Practicing spiritual disciplines (1 Timothy 4:6–7; Hebrews 5:14) Living sacrificially (Romans 12:1; Philippians 2:3–7) Loving God and others (Matthew 22:37–40; 1 John 4:21)
2. Submitting to the authority of Scripture:
We value the sufficiency of Scripture in every aspect of our lives.
• Believing God’s Word is truth, both inerrant and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:15–17; 2 Peter 1:21; Matthew 5:18) • Learning the truths of Scripture (Matthew 4:4; Psalm 119:103) • Proclaiming the Word of God (2 Timothy 4:1–2; Romans 10:14; Titus 2:1) • Reforming continually (“Semper Reformanda”) (Hebrews 4:12–13; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 13:12)
3. Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
We value sharing the gospel and making disciples.
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Teaching (Matthew 28:20; Titus 2:1; Deuteronomy 6:4–7) Evangelizing (Matthew 28:19; Philemon 6) Offering mercy (Matthew 18:32–33; Hosea 6:6) Ministering to orphans and widows (James 1:27; Matthew 25:36–40) Engaging in global missions (Matthew 24:14, 28:19) Training indigenous pastors (2 Timothy 2:2; Titus 1:5) Practicing the gospel of grace (Luke 6:35-36; Ephesians 5:1–2) Surrendering our comfort for Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 12:15) • Developing mature Christian character (Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 6:1–2; 2 Peter 3:18)
4. Serving with a Kingdom perspective:
We value living our lives focused upon what will matter most for eternity.
• • • •
Equipping and sending saints for service (Eph. 4:11-14; Acts 13:2-3) Training the next generation (Psalm 78:4–6; 2 Timothy 2:2) Multiplying the Kingdom (Matthew 13:23, 31–32) Embracing people from all ethnic groups and all age groups
(Galatians 3:28; Revelation 7:9–10) Striving for simplicity (1 Corinthians 15:3-5; Matthew 22:26–40) Battling the enemy (1 Peter 5:8–9; Ephesians 6:10–12) Ministering to other pastors (Philippians 1:3–5; 2 Timothy 4:9) Daring to take risks for the Kingdom of God (Acts 5:29; Hebrews 11:32–38) • Encouraging every member to be a minister (Ephesians 4:11–16; 1 Peter 2:5, 9) • • • •
5. Cherising the local Church:
We value the essential role of the church in the sanctification of the believer and salvation of the nations.
• Engaging members for a deeper level of participation and growth (Hebrews 10:24–25; Ephesians 4:15–16) • Devoting ourselves to meaningful membership (Hebrews 10:24–25, 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1–5) • Cultivating supportive relationships among members (Romans 10:9–13, 12:15; 1 Corinthians 12:26) • Maintaining unity of the body (Ephesians 4) (Ephesians 2: 21–22, 4:1–3, 13; 1 Corinthians 1:10) • Identifying and practicing spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6–8; 1 Peter 4:10–11) • Partnering and ministering with other doctrinally sound churches (Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 3:6) • Maintaining the biblical purity of the local church (Ephesians 2:19–21; 1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 18:15–17; 1 Corinthians 5:6–7)
6. Doing life together as a Christ-centered community:
We value that God uniquely uses personal relationships to sanctify and sharpen believers.
• • • • • • • • • •
Loving (John 13:34–35; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 4:11) Discipling (Matthew 28:19; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:10) Promoting accountability (James 5:16; Hebrews 3:12-13;13:17) Developing purposeful and intentional friendships (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Romans 14:19) Practicing hospitality (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9) Mentoring (Hebrews 13:7; 1 Corinthians 11:1) Caring intentionally for the souls of the congregation (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1–5) Encouraging unity (Acts 2:44-45; Philippians 2:1–2) Exemplifying humility (Isaiah 66:2; James 4:6; Ephesians 4:2) Strengthening families (Ephesians 5:22–33, 6:1-2; Proverbs 14:1)
DAY 1: EL-SHADDAI
Our missionaries are introduced to dozens of “gods.” They walk through temples and observe people singing praises, making sacrifices, burning incense, and praying. They walk into “houses of gods” filled with cracked, discolored statues of idols. Some idols have three eyes, suggesting they can see the future. Others hold swords symbolizing protection. Still others hold scrolls symbolizing knowledge. If you were to ask the locals which god you needed to sacrifice and pray to for healing, they would know exactly where to point you, and which idol might be of help. But there are some remarkable things about these idols, and about the people who worship them. First, in the temples, there is never one god who can do everything. Each god has his realm of limited power. So, for example, the god of wealth cannot heal your cancer, and the god of fertility cannot give you a better job. Secondly, though hundreds and thousands bow before these images every day, these worshippers are never changed. They leave the temple the very same way they entered. The character and power of the god literally has no effect on the worshipper. This is how our God stands apart. Genesis 17:1 says, “When Abram was ninetynine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am [EL-Shaddai]; walk before me, and be blameless…” Our God is El-Shaddai. El-Shaddai means “God Almighty” or “God All-powerful.” Simply put, God can do all things! This is altogether different from the realm of “little gods,” who can really do nothing. God has sovereign control over all things. Now, look at the application this has for Abram. God says, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.” The truth that God is all-powerful transforms Abram. It should not surprise us that standing before an almighty God should change us. For Abram that meant leaving sin (being blameless) and clinging to God. The truth that God is almighty and can do all things should compel us to see that our idols, our sin, our fleshly desires are not worth pursuing. Because God is all-powerful, we should be willing to forsake all to cling to Him! We have been given access through the blood of Christ, to have communion with EL-SHADDAI. Does this affect you the way it should? What idols or sin are you clinging to? Experiential knowledge of God as the all-powerful, sovereign King is characterized by repentance and abandonment of sin. Do you want to know this great God?
DAY 2: CONFESSION
There are different types of confession in the Bible. Sometimes, confession is simply proclaiming the truth of who God is. Romans 10:9 says “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This sort of confession is simply acknowledging who God is, and what He’s done in Christ. However, the most common way that we think of confession is related to sin. We confess our sins to God, and also to one another. Two different “angles” of this sin-confession, but a common thread for both: whether to God or to other people, confession involves an open acknowledgement of the truth. We acknowledge the truth of who Christ is and then who we are as sinners. When we confess sin we acknowledge that what we have said, thought or done has missed the mark. We acknowledge that God is holy and true, and that we are not. Again, this type of confession has two angles to it. From one angle, every sin we commit is a sin against our holy God. So David, after committing horrible sins against individual people, confesses to God: “Against you, you only, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51:2) Sin is always, first, an offense to God. But on the ground level, our sins also often have real consequences for other people. Others are affected, and others are hurt by our sins. We sin against God. And we also sin against people. Confession has both a vertical and a horizontal aspect to it. First, confession of sin must ultimately be vertical, as we go directly to God. We come to Him with full acknowledgment of our guilt. But here’s the good news: Christ’s heart is to forgive us, and therefore we run to Him quickly in confession, the moment that we realize we’ve missed the mark, knowing that His heart and His character is disposed toward forgiving us. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We shouldn’t be hesitant to confess our sins to God because of guilt, shame, or anything else. God promises forgiveness, and so we should run to Him! But while confession of sin is a private matter, between you and God, it’s also a corporate discipline. We see in James 5:16 “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” This is the horizontal aspect of confession. Although Christ is the only one who has the redemptive power to forgive sins, we’re still called to confess our sins to one another. We do this because our sins often affect others, but we also do this so that we’re not alone in our fight with sin. We have other faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who can link arms with us, pray for us, encourage us and even hold us accountable, spurring us on towards righteousness for God’s glory.
Confession to God and to others should be a regular rhythm of the Christian life, not just something we do when we’ve committed what we consider a “heinous sin.” When is the last time you spent time in confession, acknowledging the truth of who God is and who you are? Take the next couple of moments to ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of specific sin that needs to be brought to light and confessed. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you in confessing specific sin to others. Don’t “settle down” in your sins: run to God, and run to others today!
DAY 3: THE CROSS AND JUSTICE
The family of the victim was outraged. The courtroom went into an uproar. The crowds who had been gathered on the streets for days outside the courthouse were enraged, threatening to grow violent after hearing the verdict of the person accused of murdering an innocent young man: “Not guilty.” We love justice, and we long for it to be realized. Whether it’s in the court of law or on the field of play, we long to see offenders punished and penalties atoned for. We yell at an umpire if he doesn’t hand out the appropriate penalty! As a people and society, nothing gets us more fired up than an unjust verdict. That is, until it comes to ourselves. We love when other people get what they deserve. But when it comes to ourselves, we don’t like penalties. We don’t like to be punished. We like to be let off the hook. If we’re honest, when it comes to ourselves, and our wrongdoings, we prefer mercy over justice. But what exactly does this mean when it comes to how we relate to God? The Bible teaches that all of us—every single person who has ever lived—is sinful and separated from God. As human beings, we are sinful to the core; and we prove this every day by committing sins. Jealousy, pride, envy, lust, hatred— and this is only the beginning. We just can’t escape our sinful nature. So, the questions become: How can a holy and righteous God coexist with unholy and sinful people? How can a perfect God accept people who are inherently opposed to Him? Well, there cannot simply be mercy. Think of a court case. Imagine a judge who is conducting the trial of a man who has pled guilty of murder. The judge cannot simply let the man go. The judge would be disbarred. There would be no justice in that. There must be punishment for the crime. Sin must be paid for! Well, in the same way, if God is going to show mercy to the guilty, then there must also be justice. And the good news of the Bible is that, when Jesus Christ went to the cross, He died in our place. He died to pay the penalty for our sins. He died to prove that God is not only merciful, but He is also just. You see, there is no true mercy without justice. Mercy is not simply wiping the slate clean. Mercy hinges on the fact that justice has been upheld, that a price has still been paid. Mercy is justice redirected. And in the gospel of Christ, the penalty for sin—God’s wrath—was absorbed by Christ on the cross.
Today, rejoice in the truth that - although you deserved Godâ€™s wrath because of your sin - you have received Godâ€™s mercy instead. And this is not because God has simply swept your sin under the rug. There would be no justice in that. No, you receive mercy because Jesus received wrath. Our God is beautifully merciful and unswervingly just. Praise Him today as you reflect on His mercy, and His justice.
DAY 4: THE CROSS AND LOVE
Do you ever struggle with the notion that God could love you? Of course, God loves the “lovely” people. But what about the idea that an almighty, holy and righteous God could love little old you?! That’s a little more difficult for us, and there are hundreds of things in this world that keep us from believing such a notion. Maybe it’s a lifetime full of physical struggles. Maybe you can’t believe God’s love for you because, if God really loved you, then surely He wouldn’t let you experience such hard things. Or maybe it’s the reality of your own sin. Maybe you’re so familiar with the depth of your own sin that you’re convinced that a holy God could never love someone so bad—so unlovely—as you. Or maybe it’s the experience of your own unloving parents. Maybe all you’ve known in life is an authority figure who is heartless and abusive. And if God is anything like that, then you don’t even want His “love.” The daily struggles of life leave us with many obstacles to knowing and trusting in the fact that God does in fact love us—that He actually loves you. One of the goals of the gospel revealed in Scripture is to completely shatter any and all worldly definitions of love. You see, whatever definition you have of love, it’s not lofty enough! Whatever concept you had of what it means to love another person, it’s not deep enough! The Bible teaches us a concept of love that is foreign to us. It teaches us that God shows His love for us in the fact that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The good news of the gospel is not that we have performed well enough to earn God’s love. No, the good news of the gospel is that, even though we are sinful…even though we are rebellious against God and His ways…even though we are God’s enemies…Christ died for us. “But,” you say, “You don’t understand all the sins I’ve committed. I mean, I’ve done some really terrible stuff! God couldn’t forgive that.” Well, the truth of Scripture is that God does indeed know the depth of your sins. He knows every sinful thing you’ve ever done. He knows every sinful thought you’ve ever entertained. What a fearful thought! And yet, the glorious news of the gospel is that He showed His love for you when He sent the perfect sacrifice to die in your place for those very sins, which He knew in full. “God shows His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
So, if you ever doubt Godâ€™s love for you, hereâ€™s what you do: simply take your eyes off of yourself, and direct them to the cross of Christ. Because on the cross, God shattered any doubts we may have that God does indeed love us. If you are a Christian, God has intentionally, deliberately and personally set His love on you. And He proved this love when He set Himself on the cross where you belonged. Praise Him for His great love towards you in Christ, who loved you even to His death.
DAY 5: GOD’S GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
One of the greatest gifts God has given His people is Himself. As Christians, we believe that God has given us His Holy Spirit and that this Spirit is God living in us. In Acts 1:9 Jesus promised the disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, to the end of the earth.” This passage tells us that one of the primary roles of the Spirit is to empower God’s people to take the gospel to the nations. In essence, we are empowered to help the world know God! However the question remains, how does the Spirit give us power to do this? 1 Corinthians 2:10-12 says, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” In context Paul was writing about how he had come to preach nothing but “Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Most people do not know that Paul was probably not an eloquent communicator. He was not someone who had a natural gift when it came to speaking in front of people. In fact, he spoke “in weakness and in fear and much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3). However, Paul described his success in communicating the gospel as a “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (2:4). It is in this context of communicating the gospel that Paul says the Spirit works to reveal who God is. His basic argument is, who better knows God than God? The Spirit of God works to make God known. The Spirit allows people to know God! But if God wanted to use His Spirit to show who He is, then why did He choose to put His Spirit in us? If you are Christian, you have been given God’s Spirit, which means you are daily learning more and more about who God is. It is this knowledge of God that we Christians take to the world. We can make God known in our world, because God has been made known to us! As you think about the Holy Spirit today, we pray that the Spirit of God will move you to share with others who He is. We pray that God’s Spirit will empower you to represent God well in your home, in your family, in your world. Consider what you know about God, and consider how you can share that and represent it to others. God has given you the gift of His Spirit so that you can know God, and so that you might give the gift of God’s gospel to the world!
DAY 6: GOD’S GIFT OF THE CHURCH
The church is a unique gift from God. The climax of history is God working to “unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). Ultimately God does this by building a family. And in this family Jews, Gentiles, men, women, young, old, living saints, dead saints, Oklahoma Christians and Christians from Brussels all become one family in Christ. The church is called the household of God (Ephesians 1:20), a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 1:21), and a dwelling place for God (Ephesians 1:22). These are incredible descriptions of the church, and it should blow our minds that God would give such an incredible gift! Descriptions of the church are encouraging to study; however, these descriptions are meant to have real application. It is true that we are the household of God; but let’s not neglect another equally important truth that God uses the church to build the church. That’s not a typo: God uses the church to build the church! Paul writes, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 1:15-16). A properly working church is one in which every part, every member, every ministry is working to build up the church in love. God grows up the individual members of a church, and as a result the church as a whole is built up in spiritual strength and maturity. The writer of Hebrews agrees, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25). As members of Henderson Hills, we are called to gather together for the purpose of encouraging one another. This encouragement does not mean that we come together to flatter one another. The encouragement we give one another is encouragement that leads to the obedience of God. This encouragement to obey God leads to the glorification of God. What an incredible purpose for a local church! God uses normal people like you and me to call our brothers and sisters to glorify Him! When real church happens people are encouraged to love and obey God. Real church leads to the glory of God. So here’s the question: Are you being a part of the real church? God desires more for our church than just meeting together once a week. God desires love, obedience, and glory. He gives us the gift of the church; and the church, in thankfulness, gives God glory. So we leave you with this: How are you going to get involved in this church to achieve the goal of God’s glory?
DAY 7: GOD’S MISSION, YOUR MISSION
Standing in the same stream where tradition says Lydia—the first European convert (Acts 16)—was baptized, here was a missionary preparing to baptize a new believer. A couple thousand years after Lydia’s baptism, and the beginning of what would be the spread of the gospel to the West, this missionary realized that the baptism of this new believer was a clear picture of something bigger than just that moment. This time, instead of a Mediterranean woman, it was an Iranian man being baptized. Just as Lydia’s baptism highlighted the spread of the gospel to people who had previously not heard it, this baptism represented the same working of God to draw people from all nations to Himself. The gospel was still spreading. Have you ever considered how it is that you came to hear the gospel? Have you ever thought how something that started as a small movement in a small section of the Middle East thousands of years ago has come into your life here in Oklahoma? What the world may see as mere chance or a matter of circumstance or even of upbringing in a Christian home, the Bible teaches that this is actually a result of God’s eternal plan. When we make a decision and plan for something—whether choosing a restaurant for lunch or a suitable spouse—we always leave so much to chance. We don’t actually know how something is going to turn out. We may get to that restaurant, and it might be closed. We may think we have found the “one,” and that person might not feel the same! God’s plan, or the mission of God, is not like this. He has never once planned for something, and it didn’t happen. He has never desired to do something, only to find out later that He just couldn’t. Instead, His plan has always been the same—to redeem a people for Himself, from all nations, in and through Christ— and He has all power to make this happen! As a Christian, you are a result of this plan. No amount of human intelligence or ability or power could ever spread the gospel to all nations—including to you here in Oklahoma—apart from God’s plan and power to do so. It’s His perfect plan that you have heard and responded in faith to the gospel. But you’re not merely a result; you’re now called to be a part of taking it to others who haven’t heard. Just like the missionary who realized he was a part of something bigger than that moment, you are called to be a part of something bigger by taking the gospel to others. Praise God today for His grace in bringing the gospel to you, and ask Him how you are to participate in this movement of the gospel to people who are yet to
hear it. This is the beauty of Godâ€™s eternal plan for the Christianâ€”you are both recipient of it, and also a participant in it!
Our vision is to become a diverse family of surrendered and transformed people who passionately love God and others.
Have you ever been a part of something bigger than yourself? Maybe it was a high school sports team that overachieved to win the conference championship. Maybe it was a charitable effort that overcame huge financial hurdles to sponsor a needy cause. Maybe it was a team at your workplace that came together and stayed at the office late into the night in order to meet a deadline. There’s something liberating about forgetting about yourself, joining up with a bigger cause, and seeing it through to the end. As Christians, we don’t just have a ballgame to win, and we don’t simply have a charity to fund or a deadline to meet. As followers of the almighty God, we are unified around a message that carries the power of salvation. As Christians, we believe that God became a man, lived the perfect life that we couldn’t live, died the sinner’s death that we deserved, and then got up out of a grave! And now, when we recognize our sin and trust in His atoning death, we are saved by faith. We deserve death, but He gives us life. We deserve condemnation, but He gives us blessing. We deserve to be forgotten, but He saves us and sets us on a mission to reach still more people with this message! More than any earthly event or cause, this great gospel unites us into the greatest cause in the history of the world. It takes people who are naturally separated by all kinds of barriers and unites them as a diverse family of believers. The gospel cause breaks down racial barriers. It breaks down societal barriers. It breaks down economic barriers. As Paul says, in the gospel, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The gospel of Jesus Christ levels the playing field and unites us all around the simple reality that we are all sinners saved by the grace of God. Our vision for Henderson Hills is simply that we would live out this truth. Our vision is to become a diverse family of surrendered and transformed people who passionately love God and others. We believe that this same gospel which unites us also sets us on mission. The same Lord who wins our love by His love calls us to push this love outward to a lost and dying world. The reality is that we are, in fact, a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Our vision is that we would realize this truth and live accordingly. The same Lord who created all things is reconciling all things back to Himself through the saving work of Christ on the cross. We align ourselves with this mission when we joyfully set out to obey the two great commandments: to love our God, and then to love others as He has loved us (Matthew 22:37-40).
We endeavor to be a body that is overcome by the reality that this life is not about us, but all about the glory of God.
Chosen by God, enslaved by the Egyptians, and then delivered by God from Egyptian bondage. This is the epic story of Israel, which we read in the Old Testament. And while we’re tempted to see Pharaoh, Moses and even the people of God as the main characters of these stories, they’re really only supporting actors. The story of Israel—of Moses, of Pharoah, and all the rest—is the story of God, and of His glory. In Exodus 14:16-18 it says, “Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” It’s not about Pharaoh, and it wasn’t even about Israel. It’s about God’s glory. Similarly, in Deuteronomy 4 we find Moses giving commands to the people of God. But the purpose of those commands is not just for personal holiness, or even just for the holiness of a nation. The purpose was for the surrounding nations—all nations—to see Israel, and thereby to get a picture of Israel’s God, that they might glorify Him. Just as Abraham was blessed to be a blessing, so Israel was blessed to be a blessing, that the world might give glory to God. This same pattern is seen in the New Testament, with reference to the Church. In Ephesians 3:8-10, Paul says, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” As the church is united in Christ, the wisdom of God is displayed to the world! Through both testaments—and with both Israel and the Church—it was never just about the people of God, or even about those who would oppose God; it was and is (and will always be) about God’s glory, and His name being known. Nowhere is this clearer than Romans 9, where Paul explains that, in fact, the purpose of every living creature—whether God’s children, or even God’s enemies—is to “make known the riches of His glory” (9:23). Our purpose as individuals and as a church is to reflect, represent, and bring glory to Christ our Savior and to God our King.
What if our church was so overcome by this reality that it became the lens through which we viewed all of life? What would this mean for our church? What would this mean for you? May we do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and for His glory, both now and for all eternity.
We want to be transfixed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and compelled by His heart for our world.
By definition, to be transfixed is to “become motionless with horror, wonder, or astonishment”. Can you remember a moment in life when you experienced something for the first time which left you this way: breathless, amazed, or in awe? Maybe the birth of your child, or seeing something epic like Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon for the first time. Maybe some of you can remember the first time you watched television...in color, and with sound! In all of these moments we are truly amazed at what we’re experiencing, wondering how such a thing is even possible. We are astonished at the beauty, complexity, thought and design in all of these things. And yet, the gospel of Jesus Christ eclipses them all. When we truly come to understand the gospel and what it means for us to be made right before a holy God, then we should be transfixed by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross which secures that standing. We should stand in awe that an infinite God would die for sinners like us, and wonder that He has pursued us with His perfect love, giving us new and eternal life. This gospel is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes! But “standing in awe” doesn’t mean standing still. This gospel can’t leave us motionless. Being struck by the wonder of God’s grace to sinners compels us to take this good news to other lost and helpless sinners. This Good News compels us to love the world the way Jesus does. Throughout the Scriptures we see Christ time and time again loving the unlovely, showing grace and mercy to those who didn’t deserve it, and even transcending social boundaries of race, education and economic status to minister to those in need. The gospel is the good news that God has proven His love for lost and sinful people through the work of Christ on the cross. Isn’t it encouraging to know that no matter how much we love our neighbors and want them to come to Christ, that He loves them more and wants to see them repent and believe even more than us? If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to share the gospel with your neighbor, you can have confidence that He’s speaking to them too, desiring for them to turn and trust Him. That’s His heart for the world! Our prayer is that we as a church would be so transfixed by the gospel that it compels us to be on mission each day, in whatever context God has placed us. Stare afresh at the gospel today, and pray for God to set your heart ablaze!
We strive to be seed-throwers and fire-starters, hopeannouncers and grace-givers, risk-takers and constant-reformers, lifelong-learners and sold-out doers.
In the parable of the sower (Mark 4:3-9), seed is sown which represents the Word of God. Jesus introduces us to a diligent and faithful farmer who casts the Word of God into various kinds of soils: the path, rocky ground, thorns, and good soil. Interestingly enough, whether or not the seed produces fruit doesn’t really have anything to do with the sower himself. In other words, growth isn’t dependent upon the one who casts the seeds. The same seed, which we know to be the Word of God, is sown to all. Some seeds grow and produce a crop, others don’t. The point is that God calls each of us to be a faithful sower, leaving the results up to Him. This is our call to evangelism. We’re commanded to cast seed, and trust in God to bring the growth. Where are the places God has called you to be a faithful seed-thrower? Are you consistently casting seed in speaking God’s Word to those around you; both to the believer and the unbeliever? Later in the chapter, in verses 26-32, Jesus continues with the seed metaphor to speak of the Kingdom of God. Beginning in verse 30 Jesus says, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” There is something to this seed-throwing idea. This seed, this Word of God, this Kingdom that we’re sowing is bigger than we could possibly imagine! When it takes root and grows, there’s something substantial, even revolutionary that has taken place through the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the recipient. When we’re faithful to throw seed, the truth, hope, and grace of God spreads like a fire, igniting the power of God in people’s hearts. It leads to a life of joyful response to the gospel that not only hears the word, but does the word (James 1:22-24), all in thankful obedience to Christ. Imagine if every member of Henderson Hills were throwing seeds in this way. Edmond would be saturated with the Word of God! Believers would be encouraged, strengthened and challenged by the Word of God. Even unbelievers would have hope, grace, truth and love sown into their lives locally and globally! Our prayer is that we would be a people who are sold out to the Word of God, a church that consistently throws seed into each other’s lives and casts seed
outside the four walls of the sanctuary. Pray today for God to make you a more faithful seed-thrower.
We desire to be a people who gladly give our lives to free the captive, strengthen the weak, embrace the outcast, and seek out the lost…
Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Paul calls us to an incredibly humbling task. How can we, former rebels and enemies of God ourselves, live up to the task of imitating the King of Heaven? Paul connects imitating God to the actions of Jesus. To imitate God means to love and live as Christ loved and lived. But what does that really look like? What does that mean in the daily grind of life? To answer this question we must first answer a more important question: How did Jesus walk in love? Luke 4:18-19 gives helpful insight. Jesus stood in a synagogue one day, opened the scroll of Isaiah and read aloud: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captive and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” This was the mission of our Savior. It was the mission to which he was obedient “to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8) One of the more remarkable things about the life of Jesus as we encounter Him in the Gospels, is that we actually find Him increasingly moving towards the weak, poor, and the outcasts of society. Jesus was regularly called into question for who he kept company with. The great Son from Heaven came into our world as a lowly baby. And yet, just as remarkably, Jesus never really shed that lowly status throughout the rest of His life. His was no story of a glorious rise from the margins of society to the upper class, as one might expect of a King. He was born in a manger, He kept company with sinners, and He was killed alongside criminals. To walk as Christ walked means to live with His mission as the focal point of our lives. Our mission as a church is to imitate God by taking up the very mission of Christ. This means that Henderson Hills must not simply be a home to those who have “arrived”—those who have wealth, those who have it all together, or even those who are easy to love. We must move, just as Jesus moved, towards the margins of society. This was the mission of Christ, and this too must be our mission. In Luke 4:18-19, the phrase used for “proclaim good news” is actually the same word we use for the gospel. It could be translated to mean, “to announce the gospel.” We move towards the margins of society—because God’s eyes are
affectionately set towards those who are marginalized—and we give them the gospel. Every ministry at our local church must be resolved to announce the gospel to our community and our world. This is the mission of Jesus. Do you gladly give your life for this mission of Christ? Our vision is to be “a people who gladly give our lives to free the captive, strengthen the weak, embrace the outcast, and seek the lost.” We invite you to unite with us in this vision. Let’s love our community, moving towards those who are helpless, and taking to them the good news of the gospel. Anything less would be fall short of the mission of Jesus. Are you ready to take up this mission?!
Because Scripture is our authority, we strive to be a family that serves together, studies the Word together, plays together, worships together, and lives life together.
Acts 2 describes a unique time in the history of the church. Scripture says that the church was devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, fellowshipping, and living in amazement of God. The people of the church were selling their belongings and giving the proceeds to any who had need. Church was not a once-a-week gathering, but a daily, life-on-life fellowship that saturated the homes of believers. That is what we are striving for in the church, and what we mean by “life-on-life”: Christians transparently living life together. Society has gradually pushed us into a compartmentalized mindset that says church is on Sunday morning, my career is Monday through Friday, my family is the people I come home to, and so on. However, this is not the mindset Scripture calls us to have. Acts 2 gives us a convicting call to think of the church as something that incorporates all of life. The church involves unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ under the reign of Christ. Your believing spouse and children are the church. Your believing co-workers are the church. Your friends in Christ at HHBC are the church. God’s plan for the church never boiled down to a once-a-week gathering in a church building. His plan was for His church to be a representation of His kingdom in our homes, at our schools, and in our offices. This is an extremely difficult goal to achieve. So the question for today is this: How was the church in Acts 2 able to achieve this kind of unity? There are two major clues given in Acts 2:42-47 that help us to understand how the church was able to maintain such an extraordinary unity. First, this church in Acts 2 church placed priority in learning from the Apostles. They did not have the Bible as we do today. They actually heard the gospel of Matthew from Matthew himself. The Apostle Peter personally shared how he had betrayed Christ, and then how Jesus graciously reinstalled him as a leader of the church. For us today, we can turn to the inspired Word of God in its fullness as recorded in the Scriptures. Matthew’s Gospel, Peter’s sermons, and John’s stories can be read any time! And we must devote ourselves to that Word—striving to obey it together, even when it’s difficult—just like they did. The second major clue is that the church was devoted to praising God. Acts 2:46 says that they attended the temple together and ate together “praising God.” Going to a church building together was not a primary objective for the early church. Their goal was not to eat together every day. Their goal was to praise God! And the same must be true for us. We too must strive in all things to live lives—as individuals and even corporately—that are pleasing to God.
So we devote ourselves to the Scriptures, and we aim in all things at praising God. And these things we are to do together, with our lives intertwined with the lives of our fellow church members. How can you better incorporate praising God alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ into your daily life?
POSTSCRIPT So “now you know.” We are hopeful that God has stirred your heart over these last few weeks with what He’s doing at Henderson Hills, and with who He is calling us to be. But what now? There’s no black and white answer to that question for each and every individual that we can just give to you, but we want to leave you with some encouragements for how to move forward in light of the Reveal. First, we would encourage you to pray. Pray for God to continue leading us down this path, clarifying and directing as we go. Pray for deeper commitment from our members. Pray for God to clearly guide you in how to move forward from here! Pray that God would lead us into further faithfulness as a local church. Second, we would encourage you to talk. Talk about these things that you’re hearing in church. Talk with your friends and fellow members at Henderson Hills about all that God’s doing. Encourage others to get involved in this new vision. Don’t let this unique season at HHBC be a time when you come and hear new things from the stage, and then walk out the door and leave it all behind. Join in! Share with others what you are learning, and what you see God doing! And finally, we would encourage you to engage. Not simply to talk, but to actually engage in the life and ministries of our church as we move forward. There are two specific ways we would like to encourage you to consider engaging. First, you can look for new opportunities to serve. We promise you that we don’t have “more hands than we can use.” There is a ministry in our church that you can serve in, and whatever that ministry is, we can sure use you! Secondly, we think that it is absolutely critical that you move forward with all of these things in one of our Community Groups. If you’re not committed to a group, then it is critical that you find one now and commit to it. In our church, Community Groups are a primary channel through which relationships and ministries grow. Don’t wait! So there are a few encouragements, which we hope you will take seriously. But that is only the beginning! Who knows what else God might specifically call you to do?! By God’s grace, Henderson Hills will become the people that God has called us to be! For His glory, for all eternity.
www.hhbc.com 1200 E I-35 Frontage Rd Edmond, OK 73034 405-341-4639