This Christmas, prepare for the Second Advent (coming) of Jesus by celebrating his First Advent. John Piper has written an Advent devotional book called Good News of Great Joy. It contains brief (less than 2 pages) daily readings to prepare individuals, families, and communities to focus on Jesus during the Christmas season. Why not pay attention to Jesus and his coming kingdom instead of getting totally distracted by the noise of the holidays? Seek the lasting peace you long for in the only One who can bring it.
On Friday June 28, 2013, several big kids (translated: adults who are kids at heart!) took a group of HPC youth to Camp Highroad in Middleburg, VA. The object? Overcome your fear of heights and have fun together on a high ropes course. See the slideshow below for the day that “tested their faith.”
HPC’s Boardwalk Chapel mission team returned from Wildwood, NJ last Saturday. They were able to minister for a week on the boardwalk and in the chapel through evangelistic discussions, skits, songs, sermonettes, testimonies, and works of service. The Boardwalk Chapel now has a Facebook that the staff updates regularly with summer happenings. See below for a slideshow of photos from our week.
Two of the HPC pastors (Brian and Rob) attended the PCA’s General Assembly last week in Greenville, SC. Every GA has an Expo Center with many vendor booths offering ministry resources. Here are some of the resource highlights we learned about.
Family Dynamics Institute. Among other things, this ministry offers a “Turnaround Workshop for Troubled Marriages.”
Do you like to utilize the Christmas season to discuss the gospel with your non-Christian neighbors, family, and friends? Does the Christmas season stir hopes in you that remain unfulfilled? In the fall of 2013, New Growth Press is publishing a book called A Better December: Proverbs to Brighten Christmas. Written by Steven Estes, it is (as advertised) an ideal gift book for all who long for true comfort and a true home.
We’ve had a difficult time finding theologically reformed books that are also readable for Spanish speakers. Beacon of Grace Publications is working to fill this need as they strive “to see sound, reformed literature in the Spanish language become the best-known and most widely-read literature in Latin America and the Hispanic community of the U.S.” Their website even allows users to search for thousands of Spanish titles by their English versions.
Gospel for Ethiopia is a missions ministry working on several exciting projects to equip indigenous church leaders, pastors, and evangelists with sound theological training resources in the Amharic language. They need support in prayer, finances, and recruiting ambassadors for their mission.
There is a small but strong (and growing!) evangelical and reformed movement in the Middle East. Based in Cyprus, Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF) is “engaged in encouraging and strengthening the Church throughout the Middle East, North and East Africa, as well as Indonesia and Pakistan. The Lord Jesus Christ has raised up indigenous missionaries to serve Him in Arab and Muslim lands. These workers serve under local Reformed and Presbyterian churches. Our ministries include evangelistic outreach, church extension, biblical training and diaconal aid.”
Despite a vibrant church, the culture of the United States is becoming more secular. Christians are finding that fewer and fewer unbelievers come from church backgrounds or understand the gospel. More and more people are Bible-illiterate. Some only have the faintest idea who Jesus Christ is. This is a new culture challenge for the American church, but there is much to learn from our brothers in the UK who have faced similar cultural developments. Based in the UK, The Good Book Company publishes the inductive and relational evangelistic resources of Christianity Explored Ministries. The main course, Christianity Explored, is a study of the Gospel of Mark that has been developed and refined for 10 years, and is now being run in over 50 countries. It has proved to be “a relaxed and informal way of introducing people to Jesus and is also great for anyone wanting to brush up on the basics of the Christian faith.”
Another publishing resource from our UK brothers across the pond is Day One Christian Ministries. They provide resources for evangelism and discipleship in today’s world.
Many parents of high school graduates believe their college-bound kids could benefit from a “gap year” program to strengthen their faith before heading off into the world. Even if parents think a gap year program is a waste of valuable time, many students believe they need some help figuring out how their Christian faith should integrate holistically with life, calling, career, and mission. Impact 360 may scratch this itch.
Word and Deed is an international reformed relief and development ministry. Their mission is “to address the spiritual and physical needs of people in the developing world in accordance with biblical principles.” Word and Deed emphasizes (1) gospel and discipleship, (2) goal of self-sufficiency, (3) reliance on indigenous partner organizations in the developing world and avoiding paternalism, (4) demonstrating Christ’s love for God to use it to open hearts to the gospel. They are seeking to make an I.M.P.A.C.T. in the world for Christ by modeling their work on “I”ntegration, “M”issions, “P”roblem Solving, “A”wareness, “C”ompassion, and “T”hankfulness. Word and Deep publishes a quarterly magazine by the same name.
Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) is a reformed ministry committed to “restoring Christ to counseling and counseling to the church.” CCEF Now is their free magazine.
By Faith in the PCA’s denominational quarterly magazine. Its mission is “to draw readers into the full life of the church by informing, edifying, and encouraging them with the news of God’s kingdom. Through feature stories, news reports, editorial opinions, readers’ comments, practical information, and biblical and spiritual discussions, the magazine motivates and equips readers to serve Christ in the PCA and in His kingdom.” Print subscriptions are free.
Here is a list of all the exhibitors and their websites.
Cited from Grace Tabernacle, Author Unknown:
1. A Public Execution Assured His Death – During the Jewish Feast of Passover, Jesus was swept away by an angry crowd into a Roman hall of justice. As he stood before Pilate, the governor of Judea, religious leaders accused Jesus of claiming to be the king of the Jews. The crowd demanded His death. Jesus was beaten, whipped, and sentenced to a public execution. On a hill outside Jerusalem, He was crucified between two criminals. Brokenhearted friends and mocking enemies shared in His deathwatch. As the Sabbath neared, Roman soldiers were sent to finish the execution. To quicken death, they broke the legs of the two criminals. But when they came to Jesus, they did not break His legs, because from experience they knew He was already dead. As a final precaution, however, they thrust a spear into His side. It would take more than resuscitation for Him to ever trouble them again.
2. A High Official Secured The Gravesite – The next day, religious leaders again met with Pilate. They said Jesus had predicted He would rise in 3 days. To assure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to put grave robbers on notice. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard. Any disciple who wanted to tamper with the body would have had to get by them, which wouldn’t have been easy. The Roman guards had good reason for staying alert – the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.
3. In Spite of Guards, The Grave Was Found Empty – On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus’ followers went to the grave to anoint His body. But when they arrived, they were surprised at what they found. The huge stone that had been rolled into place over the entrance of the tomb had been moved, and Jesus’ body was gone. As word got out, two disciples rushed to the burial site. The tomb was empty expect for Jesus’ burial wrappings, which were lying neatly in place. In the meantime, some of the guards had gone into Jerusalem to tell the Jewish officials that they had fainted in the presence of a supernatural being that rolled the stone away. And when they woke up, the tomb was empty. The officials paid the guard a large sum of money to lie and say that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept. They assured the guards that if the report of the missing body got back to the governor they would intercede on their behalf.
4. Many People Claimed To Have Seen Him Alive – About AD 55, the apostle Paul wrote that the resurrected Christ had been seen by Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 people (many of whom were still alive at the time of his writing), James, and himself (1 Corinthians 15:5–8). By making such a public statement, he gave critics a chance to check out his claims for themselves. In addition, the New Testament begins its history of the followers of Christ by saying that Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by [the apostles during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
5. His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed – When one of Jesus’ inner circle defected and betrayed Him, the other apostles ran for their lives. Even Peter, who earlier had insisted that he was ready to die for his teacher, lost heart and denied that he even knew Jesus. But the Apostles went through a dramatic change. Within a few weeks, they were standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their leader. Their spirit was like iron. They became unstoppable in their determination to sacrifice everything for the one they called Savior and Lord. Even after they were imprisoned, threatened, and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles said to the Jewish leaders, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). After they were beaten for disobeying the orders of the Jewish council, these once – cowardly apostles “did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42).
6. Witnesses Were Willing To Die For Their Claims – History is full of martyrs. Countless men and women have died for their beliefs. For that reason, it is not that significant to point out that the first disciples were willing to suffer and die for their faith. But it is significant that while many will die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to b a lie. That psychological fact is important because the disciples of Christ did not die for deeply held beliefs about which they could have been honestly mistaken. They died for their claims to have seen Jesus alive and well after His resurrection. They died for their claim that Jesus Christ had not only died for their sins but that He had risen bodily from the dead to show that He was like no other spiritual leader who had ever lived.
7. Jewish Believers Changed Their Day of Worship – The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life. Any Jew who did not honor the Sabbath was guilty of breaking the Law of Moses. Yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping with Gentile believers on a new day. The first day of the week, the day on which they believed Christ had risen from the dead, replaced the Sabbath. For a Jew, it reflected a major change of life. The new day, along with the Christian conversion rite of baptism, declared that those who believed Christ had risen from the dead were ready for more than a renewal of Judaism. They believed that the death and resurrection of Christ had cleared the way for a new relationship with God. They new way was based not on the law, but on the sin-bearing, life-giving help of a resurrected Savior.
8. Although It Was Unexpected, It Was Clearly Predicted – The disciples were caught off guard. They expected their Messiah to restore the kingdom to Israel. Their minds were so fixed on the coming of a messianic political kingdom that they didn’t anticipate the events essential to the salvation of their souls. They must have thought Christ was speaking in symbolic language when He kept saying over and over that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected from the dead. Coming from one who spoke in parables, they missed the obvious until after it was all over. In the process, they also overlooked the prophet Isaiah’s prediction of a suffering servant who would bear the sins of Israel, being led like a lamb to the slaughter, before God “prolong[ed] His days” (Isaiah 53:10).
9. It Was A Fitting Climax To A Miraculous Life – While Jesus hung on a Roman cross, crowds mocked Him. He helped others, but could He help Himself? Was the miracle suddenly coming to an end? It seemed like such an unexpected ending for someone who began His public life by turning water into wine. During His 3-year ministry, He walked on water; healed the sick; opened blind eyes, deaf ears, and tongue-tied mouths; restored crippled limbs; cast out demons; stilled a violent storm; and raise the dead. He asked questions wise men couldn’t answer. He taught profound truths with the simplest of comparisons. And he confronted hypocrites with words that exposed their cover-up. It all this was true, should we be surprised that His enemies didn’t have the last word?
10. It Fits The Experience Of Those Who Trust Him – The apostle Paul wrote, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to you mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). This was the experience of Paul, whose heart was dramatically changed by the resurrected Christ. It is also the experience of people all over the world who have “died” to their old ways so that Christ can live His life through them. This spiritual power is not evident in those who try to add belief in Christ to their old life. It is seen only in those who are willing to “die” to their old life to make room for the rule of Christ. It is apparent only in those who respond to the overwhelming evidence for Christ’s resurrection by acknowledging His lordship in their heart.
I love this quote from Henry Morris, found on the same page linked above: “The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.” If you are an atheist, an agnostic, or a skeptic, then you’ve got a lot to think about. Eternity hangs in the balance. You had better get this one right. Jesus calls every person everywhere in every age to repent and believe the gospel.
On Sunday 3/10 we hosted our 4th annual HMS Pinewood Derby. As always, it was great fun for the kids and youth. HPC loves to host events like the Pinewood Derby because it provides us an opportunity to meet some of the parents of children who attend HMS Kids Club. There was a lot of pizza, ice cream, and popcorn for everyone to eat. But the biggest attraction was the trophy table–a special addition this year.
It seems that the competition is getting more friendly and evenly matched every year as the kids learn what it is like to win and to lose (and to design and make fast cars). The kids love their cars and everyone roots for others (well, most of the time). While the races are super-entertaining with all the special race car sound effects and emcee narration, the best part is that we all work on the pinewood cars together. Projects done as a church family develop closer friendships across generational lines, especially between parent and child, and child and “big brother mentor.” While the derby is happening, providentially-arranged conversations happen around the room as people talk and love each other with the love of Christ. The ministry of the church is explained to visitors, and Christ is lifted up as the Lord of this congregation and all of life. In other words, the Pinewood Derby is not an end in itself, but a fun event that provides an environment for gospel ministry to begin and flourish. Which allows all derby contestants (winners and the rest) to say, “Soli Deo Gloria!”
See below for a slideshow of the night’s festivities.
HMS Youth planned, organized, sponsored, and executed a fund raiser called “Parents Night Out” on Friday March 8. The idea was to provide their services for childcare so that parents could have a break from the kids for a few hours. All donations from parents will go to provide for the needs of the Casa Hogar, a foster-care home in Camichines, Jalisco, Mexico where HPC missionaries Steve and JoAnn Hohenberger currently serve.
The children had a blast playing the pit ball-game “ga-ga”, doing crafts, eating snacks, watching Veggies Tales, and just hanging out with friends having a good time. HMS youth also had a great time serving the children, parents, Mexico missions, and ultimately the Lord in their love offering to him. Many thanks to the youth, adult volunteers, and parents who so generously gave of their time, energy, and money to bless God’s work being done here in Warrenton and around the world. May you all hear God’s voice speaking to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mt 25:21).
The International Night on February 23 was a wonderful event, well-attended by both congregations (HPC and Cristo Redentor) and several visitors, despite the cold and windy weather. Eight Spanish-speaking countries were represented and one of our attendees had a table for Brazil. Two of the Americans brought food and photos on behalf of their ancestors who came from Germany and Finland. Thanks so much for your faithful prayers, and your labors to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations, many of which are represented all around us in Fauquier County and Warrenton.
See below for a slideshow of the evening’s festivities.
On February 15, our congregation hosted a “Family Friday Fun Night.” Everyone was invited to a spaghetti dinner, popcorn, cookie decoration, and of course lots of games and activities. It was a great time of fellowship as many adults and kids gathered to let off some steam built up from a week cooped up indoors. “Captain Lambert,” MC of our HMS Kids Club, led us in a few songs and introduced us to the children’s catechism the kids are learning this club year. We are thankful that the Lord has blessed us with the love of God and people.
See below for a slideshow of the night’s activities.