We are a community that places a high value on each person’s contribution. We are all uniquely gifted and beneficial to the whole. We are a collection of people and personalities who desire environments where we can know and be known, love and be loved, serve and be served by those that we, over time, begin to trust ourselves to. This is true gospel community. We are single and we are married. We are young and old. We are neighbors, we are soccer moms, and baseball dads. We live life in community because that is our life. We see each other at ballgames, school functions, restaurants, work places, the gym, our homes, and countless other places. Therefore, we live intentionally as we deepen our relationships and develop those with others with whom our lives intersect.
New Iberia is a community in desperate need of hearing, seeing, and experiencing the life-giving message of Jesus Christ. Our Heart is to engage the community by allowing God to work in and through our lives. Consider partnering with us as we partner with God in the transformation of individuals, families, neighborhoods, schools, work places, and beyond.
Due to a variety of web issues our web site has been offline for the past few months. John, who volunteers his time as our in-house IT expert, has repaired and remodeled the web page and asked if I would be willing to write a message explaining who we are and what makes our congregation so special or different. I said “Sure, I think I can do that.” However, getting started proved to be a more daunting task than I imagined because we seem so ordinary, like what many might describe as just another “run of the mill” church.
The definition of “run of the mill” is something ordinary, average, or undistinguished in quality, character, or nature; not special or excellent. That doesn’t seem like a good term to use to describe something you want to promote. It almost sounds insulting, yet we seem so ordinary in so many ways.
We have an older church building that’s like so many others you might see. It’s located in an older working class neighborhood…..nothing special about that. We have Bible classes for the various children’s grades as well as the usual adult class in the auditorium…… just like most congregations. Our services are taped for a TV program, but lots of churches have TV programs. We have mission outreaches in up-state New York, Mexico and a few other places. Mission programs are fairly common in other congregations.
Our worship service typically begins with announcements, a short meet and greet time, a prayer, a few songs of a cappella singing, communion, the collection, a short sermon that will fit into the allotted time slot for the TV program – wait…..now that’s something special – short sermons…and a head start on the Baptists and Methodists who create those long lines at the restaurants. But was that all that made us special?
I wanted to come up with a ‘WOW’ impression that would be both welcoming and also emphasize why we want the new web site to serve not only those in our own community but also via the internet, connect with people throughout the world and hopefully in some small way, help them have a better relationship with Jesus. What words could I use to dress up our “run of the mill” church to accomplish that task?
The reason I was struggling with this assignment was that I kept focusing on the external features of our congregation, but when I stopped to think about it, I realized how God has always used “run of the mill” people like fishermen, tax collectors, tent makers, sheep herders and transformed them into a special force powered by the Holy Spirit to change the world. Here in New Iberia, Louisiana, He is using oil field workers, mechanics, house painters, school teachers, salt miners and welders. He has brought us together in New Iberia to love and nurture each other and strengthen our spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. With the technology of the internet and cell phones, he is giving us new power to help proclaim throughout the world, the good news of Jesus.
I realized that I was often being inspired and encouraged by what outwardly may seem like “run of the mill” people engaging in “run of the mill” church activities. Like Jerry and Melisa a young couple who always sit on the pew in front of us and who, just by their cheerful presence and faithfulness inspire me. People like Chad and Sonia whos’ young sons will often read the scripture before the sermon, song leaders like Kim, Carl and Charles (with his left handed director’s beat). There’s brother Conroy who will use his booming voice to make 1st Corinthians 11 come alive for communion. There’s the gentle giant Harold, who stitched the cushions, sanded and refinished the damaged pews the congregation couldn’t afford to replace. There’s Carol who will e-mail us when a member needs ours prayers. There’s Carolyn, the official hugger, who will catch you at the door after service and send you on your way with God Speed and a sweet hug. There is Toby who manages the sound system, Brandon who operates the TV camera, Dwayne who maintains the buildings and grounds. Our preacher is a former truck driver who went back to school to get the tools he needed to preach and now holds a Doctors degree in theology. God has turned him into a great preacher and excellent Bible scholar with an exceptional command of Biblical languages. He can pack more useful knowledge into those short sermons than most preachers can in twice the time.
There are so many other people just doing “run of the mill” things that keep our congregation going. Even though some of us are still struggling to overcome worldly problems, we are a congregation of forgiven sinners. God is not giving up on us and we are not giving up on each other. God is actively molding and transforming us into his useful tools….tools that can be used to share the good news of what Jesus has done for us.
Our God is no “run of the mill” God. We serve a majestic, powerful and creative God who is also merciful, loving and forgiving. A God who deserves to be worshipped and glorified for the way he works in each of our lives and for the grace with which He erases our sins when we fail. God is continually transforming us into the kind of people He wants us to be. What makes us special is this great God we serve and his Spirit that dwells within us. Our worship of Him can’t be confined to the external things on which I had earlier focused. Though they are important to facilitate the times when we fellowship and worship together, our real work is to make sure our worship never ceases at the end of church service. We’re working to make sure each day we live, our lives are lived as living sacrifices for Jesus who loves us and who gave himself up for us. We hope you too, will join us in that effort.
Please enjoy our website. You are welcome guests.
God bless you,
The apostle Paul tells us that civil authority has been ordained by God for a specific purpose: “…the one in authority is God’s servant for good (Rom 13:4).” The local politicians of the City of Houston Texas have nullified their God-given responsibilities. They have acted in defiance of the will of the people, the Constitution of the United States of America, and the Christian values by which our country was founded. They have clearly chosen to violate the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms to worship God and to freely and publicly speak of our beliefs.
This is not an American political process being carried out. This is a small-minded group of petty politicians attempting to impose their own self-serving interest upon the people. They have their own form of religion which is directly in conflict with the principles and values set forth by the All Mighty God. The Constitution of the United States, as well as the constitutions of all fifty states are dedicated in their preambles to the glory of God.
The Bible is the testament of God.
Today’s lesson will take us back to a time when another small-minded politician chose to impose his own self-serving interest. His name was Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea. He is remembered for ordering the Crucifixion of Christ.
John 18:28 – 19:16
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. 29Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”…
The Jewish leaders were motivated not by a desire for justice nor by Godly righteousness. This group of accusers sought only to serve their own personal interest and selfish desires.
Like the Jews, many modern self-interest groups, reject the plain teachings of God, hold Jesus up to be ridiculed, spat upon, and crucified afresh, by forcing god-fearing believers to succumb to the might of a god-less civil authority.
Regardless of what the city counsel of Houston, or any other political group, may say, God condemns deviant behavior and God’s people must take a stand against. Let God be found true, and every man a liar.
If you are like most folks, you have a lot of trouble understanding the book of Revelation. There are so many different approaches to the interpretation of the book in this day and age that it’s very easy to give up on understanding it and end up taking your chances.
These lesson explore various views held today. Let’s see what the Bible says.
Webster says that kindness is a demonstration of love and goodwill toward others. In the Greek, kindness is our benevolence to one another. Some good we do for them. Kindness is the Golden Rule in practice – treating others as we would have them treat us. Paul to the Philippians said that kindness is placing the good of others before ourselves. God’s demonstration of kindness is the gift of Jesus. This message explores the Compassion of Christ and asks the question, “WHY WE SHOULD BE KIND ONE TO ANOTHER?” The answer may surprise you.
It would be interesting to privately ascertain where we stand in this call of Jesus to, “Come follow Me.” Are we learners only? Are we willing to live as Jesus lived and follow Him in every arena of life? Are we ready to be His special man or woman, ready to serve Him in any way? In this message we ask the question: “Just how far are we willing to go in this thing called Discipleship?”
The Bible contains the heart of God. It tells us of His love, mercy, and grace. It tells us how He wants us to live. It reveals Jesus who came to show us God in human terms. He came demonstrating the attitudes, dispositions, and daily behaviors we are to have that God really wants in His people. When Jesus came to his home town of Nazareth he went to the synagogue and read before the people. Everything would have been alright had it not been for the people struggling with wrong assumption about their home town boy. Sometime – the things we assume are wrong as well.
Sociologists tell us that there has never been a people who did not worship. We tend to search, to seek and find someone or something superior to us and thus worthy of our praise, devotion and worship. You see, God has placed in us a desire, a longing, a need, to worship. Jesus discusses the matter with the woman at Jacob’s Well.
When Moses built the Tabernacle, God came down to reside in the Most Holy Place. You see, God has always wanted to be close to His people. So, His glory, what the Jews called His Shechinah a representation of His presence, was a light that shined between the two cherubs that were mounted on the lid to the Ark of the Covenant. When Solomon built David’s intended Temple in Jerusalem on the day of the dedication, the glory of God came to dwell in that Most Holy Place. His Shechinah was so bright that the dedication day ceremonies had to be temporarily halted. Today, in the Christian System, God is incredibly close to His people. He lives in us through His Spirit that he gives us. And you know what? Sometimes Jesus must cleanse the temple.