Month: August 2014

Thankful!

thankful

Charlotte McCarver

For years I have wondered and tried to find answers as to why God chose David to use in such magnificent ways, after all history records him as:

  • One who lusted after a married woman
  • Then committed adultery
  • That led to murder of her husband and close friend of David’s

Yet despite all of these sins and more, God chose David to be Israel’s second King and referred to him as “a man after God’s own heart”.  

Strange reference to criminal!

Then too, there is Paul. From all accounts I read in the book of Acts,

  • Paul was a terrorist of Christians
  • Going out of his way to hunt down and torture followers of Christ, because their beliefs were different from his

Yet God pursued Paul – even though he was fleeing from Him!  Remember he asked,   “Paul why are you kicking against the goads?”

So what do these two men have in common? Why did God chose two of the most unlikely men to be the most prominent in both in the Old and New Testament?

  • The name of David, is mentioned in the King James Version 1,127 times
  • Fifty-four chapters of the Bible are given to the life of David, not including the Psalms
  • It is in 968 verses
  • The name of Paul, is mentioned in the New Testament 211 times
  • Of the 27 books in the New Testament Paul wrote 14 – or over half

The common thread is Thanks…………..

Sometimes I’ll use thanks, thankful, thankfulness, and thanksgiving interchangeably – but with same intention.

Merriam-Webster defines thankful: conscious of benefit received

Thankful is in the Bible 133 times

  • Of those 61 are in the Old Testament
  • And 26 of those in Psalms (remember David wrote 78 of the 150 Psalms)

David’s life was marked by seasons of great peace and prosperity as well as times of fear and despair. But through all of the seasons in his life, he never forgot to thank the Lord for everything that he had. It is truly one of his finest characteristics.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; and bless his holy name. Psalms 100:4

Paul thanks God more than even David or any other writer in the entire Bible.

  • 5 times in Romans
  • 9 times in 1 Corinthians
  • 7 times in 2 Corinthians
  • 4 times in Ephesians
  • 3 times in Philippians
  • 6 times in Colossians
  • 4 times in 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 times in 2 Thessalonians
  • 4 times in 1 Timothy and
  • 1 time in both 2 Timothy and Philemon
  • For a Total of 46 times

Without a doubt these two men were conscious of the benefit they received from the hand of the Almighty and confessed it openly.

When I began to look at the gospels I found Jesus spoke of Thanks often. Specifically 19 times.

Matthew 14:19-21 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

In the very next chapter of Matthew Jesus thanks God again:

Matthew 16:32-37 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children.

The night before his pending death Jesus had thanks on his mind rather than suffering:

Matthew 26:26-29 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”       

When the Apostles asked Jesus to increase their faith, the answer involved thanks.

Luke 17:5-10 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”

Recently our lesson in the preschool involved what Jesus had to say about those who don’t take time to thank God:

Luke 17:11-191 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

And think of the hypocrisy of thanks:

Luke 18:9-14 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

In John 11 Jesus thanked God for hearing his prayer and raising Lazarus from the dead.

And lastly, in Romans God’s Wrath Against Sinful Unthankful Humanity:

Romans 1:18-25 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

I began writing in a personal journal I keep about my 4th grandson, Grayson, in October 2002. We had carried him to UAMS for testing since he did not speak a word at 26 months old. First, he was tested for hearing problems, but none were found. The test for Autism was positive – although he was 26 months old developmentally, he was on a level of a 6-9 month old. With all the classic symptoms, repetitive motions, no eye contact, no speech, we were devastated. When I face great problems, I find relief in writing it out. Here are two entries from my journal concerning Grayson and his diagnosis of Autism.

[Friday Jan 31,2003 entry]  

This week has been the hardest, since these tests started. I really feel Satan has asked to sift us like sand. I can tell from Heath’s voice they are discouraged. I cry at the thought of not being full of faith that would prolong Grayson’s healing, that I know God revealed to me in John chapter 9. (“It was neither this man nor his parents who sinned, but rather that God would be glorified.”) I read about Autism this week, maybe that is causing the fear that grips my heart. I also got short of breath last night and could not sleep. Highway 67 to Hope is wet with tears, driving each day and begging God to keep our eyes focused on Him and to fill us with faith. Too much depends on our believing God for something we have never believed before. I have always believed God could and does perform mighty acts in others lives. Now, it’s time to believe for my son and daughter-in-law, and my Grandson. “Lord you have given us a task worth of your strength.”

I heard discouraging words again at work today, “What if God does not heal Grayson, but teaches you a greater lesson through this?” Like the friends of Job, the intent was sincere, but my trust, my faith, my hope is His promise to me for Grayson. I will trust in what I cannot see, regardless of what I hear. For one day I will write in this Chronicle, of Gods mighty hand touching Grayson and all the praise and glory will be to Him. We will know Christ in another way.

[July 22, 2012]  

Last Sunday we were visiting my son and his family in Hot Springs. They have a new boat that you can actually surf behind because it has baffles that fill with hundreds of pounds of water to make a huge wake behind the boat. Grayson, who is now 11, is not only verbally fluent, but as of last year – he attends private school, like his brothers. He is in the 5th grade like any other 11 year old, but unlike many his age- Grayson makes straight A’s. As I watched him behind the boat on the wake board, he’s jumping the waves and “getting air”, looking at us to make sure we’re watching. He’s awesome and I am so thankful that my 4th grandson has brought our family so much closer to ‘Our Great God’…….We now know Him as the healer of our Grayson – and we are so thankful.

Be Thankful!

Charlotte

 

Service or serve us?

serve together
Dr. Robert H. McCarver
Directional Pastor
August 25, 2014

 Let’s begin with a question that has been asked through the ages and we know it as a question Rick Warren asked several years ago: “What on earth are we here for?”

 If I were to survey all of you that are reading this I am sure we would have many great answers. But as Rick Warren stated: “Do we really think we are here just to consume resources – to eat, breathe and take up space?”

 Bill Hybels asked the question this way:

“Will the men and women who have been entrusted with leadership gifts take their gifts seriously, develop them fully, and deploy them courageously, so that the gifted believers in the churches can work together (serve) to make a difference in the world?”

 With each of us living up to our God-given potential serving within the Body…we can make that difference! City Church can make that difference!

 Want to touch our city for the Lord? Choose to be servants!

 In the book of Mark we have some startling truths presented that follow a petty conversation with two of the disciples that escalates into a full-blown argument among all the disciples.

 James and John, thinking as most of the disciples did when Jesus spoke of His kingdom…that He was speaking of an earthly kingdom…did what most of us would do, they asked if they could sit one on His right side and one on His left side. In reality they were saying, “We want to be your number one and number two go to guys.”

 The scriptures tell us that when the other ten heard this they became “indignant”. My opinion is they got mad because they didn’t think of this idea first! Jesus did what He was a master at doing, used the opportunity to present some real kingdom thoughts.

 First, He wanted the twelve to change their way of thinking.

 Mark 10:43 But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant;

 Jesus completely turned their way…and our way…of thinking around. Essentially He was saying, “This is not the way WE do it. Greatness comes from serving!”

 In the world’s way of thinking, our way of thinking, greatness comes through who can accumulate the most stuff…by climbing the corporate ladder…by buying a bigger house or driving the newest car.

 It is as Jesus is saying, “Let’s back up here. Let’s get our priorities straight. Let me teach you a new way of thinking. We are to be servants.”

 This concept was even more troubling to them than us. Servants then were not servants by choice…and now Jesus is saying… “Choose to serve?” Now I must “choose” to serve!

 Whoever wishes to become great must first become what…?

-a servant

 A new way of thinking!

 Then we see that Jesus wanted to change their way of acting.

 Mark 10:44  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

 Again I will refer to Rick Warren:

 “Serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we’re more interested in “serve us” than service. We say, “I’m looking for a church that meets my needs and blesses me” not “I’m looking for a place to serve and be a blessing.” We expect others to serve us, not vice versa.”

 The life of a mature follower of Christ should shift from “me” centric to serving others.

 Listen to what Paul said to the church at Corinth:

 1 Corinthians 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

 Do we…do you realize…we have been placed in this body of believers for a purpose?“…Just as He desired…” What a thought! How encouraging is that? Do we…do you realize…that God has a purpose for your life? Do we…do you realize…that if you don’t fulfill that purpose in service…the body…City Church cannot fulfill it’s mission to Texarkana?

We have that potential…we have that ability…if “we” simply choose to serve!

And then Jesus tells the twelve about a new way of giving.

 Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

 Do we realize that we are called to do likewise? To give our lives in sacrificial service…

 The apostle John reminds us of this truth:

 John 12:24-25  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his [b]life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

 Giving of self so that others may live! Talk about an “unnatural” concept!

 Every wheat kernel planted grows into several jointed stalks. Each stalk ends up in a head, made up of several spikelets. These spikelets bear up to five flowers, which develop into kernels…each bearing up to fifty kernels. Simple math tells us that using minimum numbers, that is the potential of 1,250 kernels of wheat from one kernel that died.

 That is servanthood found in a grain of wheat! Investing our lives into others…dying to self so that others may live. A new way of giving…that is what City Church is about!

 

 

 

 

His name was Simon

Yosemite

Several years passed, we all grew up and got married, left our tents, the rivers…the fires behind us. I remember a time when we had plans to have dinner together. He was coming into town and we were going to meet up and I sat at the restaurant and waited and waited for him to show up. Finally, about an hour and half later he arrived and was completely filthy, oil all over his hands and clothes. I asked him why he was late and he just said that there was a couple whose car had broken down on the side of the road and that he “had” to pull over to help them change a tire and make sure they were alright before he left. He gave the young man (whose tire he helped change) his flashlight so that they would have it the next time something like this happened. He said the guy had never changed a tire before, so…”now he knows.” 

This past year, I have been spent an excessive amount of time in the car on my daily commute. I have had the pleasure to have lengthy conversations with Simon about his faith, and mine. The conversations were not uncommon. With Simon, it was always a discussion. Hebrews 10:24 states, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” These conversations with Simon did just that. He was the one who was always willing to tell me the truth as he saw it, and together, we discussed our roles in this life. We attempted to answer the hard questions together. What is our purpose? What are we called to do? Why is it that you cannot hear the voice of God?

Simon guided me on my journey in faith. These conversations were some of the most influential and intimate moments in my walk with Christ, and they happened at exactly the right time. Simon knew what he was doing with me, and he has been on this journey with me for over 20 years. For 20 years, Simon has helped guide me. He has set an example. He has taught me to supplement my faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with steadfastness, steadfastness with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection…and brotherly affection with love.

Patrick Duke
Member of “The City”

 

A World of Firsts

Waves-Beach_1

Robert H. McCarver

Directional Pastor
August 15, 2014

I still remember the first time I saw the ocean. My Dad was a camper so all my childhood memories are built around vacations in the mountains. So here I am a grown man, married with two children, and I’m standing on the white sands of the Gulf of Mexico. I remember first seeing the waves at Navarre Beach and I am still amazed at the majesty of the sea.

I am fifty-five years old before I first enter another country. Then God allows us to visit Europe and I am looking for the first time at history as old as the time of Christ. I am moved to tears as my wife and myself stand at the foot of the Acropolis and we are staring at the Parthenon. We see for the first time the ancient Coliseum where so many believers before us met their death. We walked the same streets as the Apostle Paul at ancient Ephesus and viewed the Areopagus from the streets of the oldest existing marketplace in the world.

Firsts. Don’t you love them? You never forget them!

A team from City Church first dug a well in partnership with Living Water in El Salvador in 2013 and then another team again re-entered El Salvador and helped dig another. Just as we have had many others from our fellowship making their first mission trips all over the world. And in the future…there will be many more going on their first trips oversees to serve the world.

Easter, 2013, City Church had a first moment. We started our second service on Sunday mornings. Reaching PEOPLE creates firsts. Sometimes we do it right…sometimes we blow it, yet as we opened new space to reach more people the end result has become that we need to open more space…to reach more PEOPLE.

PRAY. As we move to another first, a third service on Saturdays at 5 pm. For one purpose, to reach more PEOPLE!

Saturdays @ 5 & 7 pm

Sundays @ 10 am

Worship in one Service < > Serve in another Service

Speaking of Firsts, this is my First blog on our First Mobil APP!

Firsts. Don’t you love them? You never forget them!