A re:GENERATE Reminder

In his book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, Thom Rainer says that as many as 100,000 churches in America are showing signs of decline towards death. He says,

Between 6,000 and 10,000 churches in the U.S. are dying each year. That means around 100-200 churches will close this week. The pace will accelerate unless our congregations make some dramatic changes.- Thom Rainer

I have always desired that reGeneration would be a church that would be filled with people who are authentically seeking after Jesus letting God continually fill them with Spirit, working in and through them to change them from the inside out to who He has always wanted them to be. This past Sunday we talked from Ezekiel 36 and looked at what it would be like for God to regenerate us. I wanted to give a reminder of what we talked about, so we could try to make this a mindset, our lifestyle both separately and together.

We need to understand that God loves us; REALLY, TRULY, DEEPLY, SACRIFICIALLY loves us. He wants us to be with Him so much that it makes Him jealous for our attention. We need to live with an awareness of this. I said Sunday,

“IN the Old Testament, the second part of the Bible, a couple of times in Exodus and once In Deuteronomy, it says God is a jealous God. This means He loves us and wants us to be in a relationship with Him.  He wants us all or nothing.  In James 4 it says,

You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?- James 4:4-5 

He considers it like we are cheating on Him when we turn away and even slightly “flirt” with the world.  The Israleites had been doing more than “flirting.”  They had been cheating on Him.  So, because of their unfaithfulness, God allowed them to be taken out of the land of Israel and taken captive in other countries.  God wanted them to know that not only were their actions bad, but their actions made Him look bad.  Verse 20 of Ezekiel 36,

And wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name, for it was said of them, 'These are the LORD's people, and yet they had to leave his land.'

I wonder, if we as Christ followers, completely understand what we do to the “reputation” of God when we say one thing but live something else.  When we don’t authentically and faithfully seek after Him, we actually blur the picture of Who God desires to be with people. They can’t truly see Him and what He’s done for them through Jesus.  The nations around the Israelites couldn’t see God as the One and True God because of this, and it concerned God.  Verse 21 of Ezekiel 36,

I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they had gone. 22 "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone.

The way the Israelites were living was giving the impression that they didn’t believe in the God they said they followed and called Lord God.  This God, the Creator of all Things, the Faithful, Protector, Savior wasn’t reflected in their actions and lives.  Because they were scattered in other lands among other people, this God of theirs must not be able to protect to them.  If He couldn’t be relied on then why should these other nations trust in Him? I think the same can be said of us.  When the people around us can’t see Him at work in and through us; when they can’t see a difference in the way we live as we trust Him through both the highs and lows, then they won’t see a need for Him.  If we’re not living set apart, striving to be holy, relying on Jesus, we’re not really going to able to fulfill our mission.  We may convert people to the church, but not to Jesus. Because the Israelites were profaning His name, God couldn’t rely on them, so He decided to do something; and again He revealed Himself for Who He really is.  Verse 23 of Ezekiel 36,

I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD , declares the Sovereign LORD , when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.

So, what does He do? God is faithful and just.He loved the Israelites so much, that He would bring them back to their land, and more importantly, back into relationship with Him again. Which is where He always wanted them, and us, to be.”

I pray that we will always strive to put Jesus first so we can experience His jealous love for us so we can in turn share it with those who need to be loved by Him.

Let’s pray for each other so we can stay faithful to our loving Father and grow to be who He has always desired for us to be…

Breathing In His Breath of Life

Man, I am so excited about our Night of Worship tonight. I love every opportunity we have to get our church family together to worship and experience God. I wanted to post an excerpt from this past Sunday’s message because it will dovetail with what our desire is for tonight. I truly believe that we’ll never, EVER, be able to do real ministry as a church without the presence of the Holy Spirit working in and through us. We talked Sunday from Ezekiel 37 in the Old Testament, specifically verses 1-14 (Go take a minute and read that… I’ll wait!). As I said Sunday morning,

“From this passage, I believe that we can see two qualities of a church that is alive. Now, understand that we are going to talk about the church in the context of it being a body.  In the New Testament, in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and specifically in Colossians 1, the church is referred to as a body, the Body of Christ. In verses 4-8, we see that Ezekiel has a vision where he sees a valley of dry bones begin to come together and form bodies that become a vast army.  If we, as the Body of Christ, are going to be alive and healthy, there first has to be physical activity. Just as these bones came together, and then muscles and tendons, and then skin formed on them to make them whole, we as the Body need to be healthy and together.  Two Hebrew words are important here.  In verse 6, when you see the words make and come, the word Alah is used, which means to grow, bring up, or lift up. In verse 7, when you see the phrase come together, the word Qarab is used, which means approach or draw near.  If we’re going to be a church that is alive, then we’re going to have to be united together and draw near to God so He can work in and through us to help us live and share the Gospel to the world around us.  In Ephesians 3, it says that God’s intent is that the church would work together to make Him and the Gospel known. But here’s what we have to remember. There can’t be any physical activity in and through the Body if there isn’t first, spiritual activity. The Body of Christ needs to be spiritually growing and becoming like Jesus. Here we see three different Hebrew words used. In verse 9, when we see the word breath, the Hebrew word ruah is used. It means spirit, the presence of God. When you see breathe in vs. 9, the word puah is used which means to kindle a fire. In verse 10, where we see the phrase came to life, the Hebrew word hayah is used which means to make alive, quicken, preserve, refresh, or rebuild. Here’s what we’ve got to remember for us to be a church that is alive… WE CAN’T BE THE CHURCH UNLESS WE”RE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. Only then can we truly be a living church. Life comes from God. We see that all the way back in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. When God created Adam, the first man, it says He created Him from the dust of the earth and literally breathed His breath into him. God gave Him life. He gives us life. But, He also wants to give us NEW LIFE.”

God has tasked us with sharing this NEW LIFE with those who aren’t really living. I kind of see it as us inhaling the breath of God and it brings us life. Then we exhale it to those around us who can, hopefully and prayerfully, inhale it. That’s when God will raise them to NEW LIFE in Christ! But it begins with us, both separately and collectively as a church.

Tonight our night of worship will be an opportunity for us to inhale the breath of God as He breathes it into us. We’ll be providing an environment where we can have an experience to encounter Him, to breath in. It will give us the opportunity to be encouraged, comforted, and challenged to follow Jesus…. but, we’re gonna talk more about that tonight.

And hey, come a little closer…. In case you can’t make it in person tonight, we’re going to stream it on reGeneration’s Facebook page live at 7:00…. But, honestly, we’d love to give you a hug in person!

SEE YOU TONIGHT!

Snakes...

Snakes in the Tree.jpg

So, the evening of Memorial Day we had rain and some pretty decent wind in the Bottom (Frazier's Bottom, that is!).  I was upstairs in our house when I heard a pretty loud crack, like a tree falling.  Now, we have some pretty tall trees in our backyard so my first thought was that one of our trees had fallen.  I ran to the bathroom window in our bedroom and I saw that a tree had fallen in our next door neighbor's yard.  Honestly, my first thought was being thankful that it wasn't one of ours.  I know, that was selfish.  But, my second thought was I hope it didn't damage their deck, because that was where it had fallen.  Before I could get out there to see if they needed help, my neighbor had already started.  Our neighbor on the other side was out there helping with his chainsaw, so they were doing a good job of getting it cleaned up.  I went out to help put the branches and logs into a pile and saw that what had fallen was a huge, dead part of the tree that was actually help up with the main part of the tree with barbed wire.  It was a good sized piece and they were fortunate that it didn't damage anything.  Well, as the neighbor was cutting through a part of the tree, he suddenly stopped and had a weird look on his face.  He looked at me and said, "What the heck?"  There were three snakes that ended up being killed by his chainsaw as he was cutting that tree up, and it wasn't on purpose.  He didn't know they were in there.  One snake did get away and slithered up into the part of the tree that was left.  I'm sure it was thankful to get away with its life.

As we were piling the branches and logs up, I got to thinking about the spiritual aspect of what I saw in that dead tree and the snakes.  I seem to do that a lot, see the spiritual in things.  The first thought that came to mind is the fact that we have to strive to be constantly growing in our faith. That means we have to stay connected to Jesus.  He said in John 15,

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned".- John 15

If we don't stay connected to the Vine, we will wither away and become dead just like that tree.  When that happens, we run the risk of allowing satan to fill the void where the Holy Spirit should be in our lives.  It was pretty amazing that there was a hole, an empty space that ran the length of that dead tree, and that's where the snakes were.  If we're not letting the Holy Spirit continually fill our lives, something else will.  The enemy is just waiting for the opportunity to do it.  SIN WILL FIND A WAY INTO OUR LIVES.  Once we become Christ followers it doesn't mean that we are immune to temptation.  The devil is going to look for every crack or hole to fill.  Just as the snakes filled the hole in that dead tree, sin will look to fill us if we're not growing.  And then we'll find ourselves on the pile ready to be burned.

MAY WE ENCOURAGE, COMFORT, AND URGE EACH OTHER TO GROW IN THE LORD AND ALLOW THE HOLY SPIRIT TO WORK IN AND THROUGH US SO THE devil WON'T HAVE A PLACE IN OUR LIVES SO WE CAN LIVE AND SHOW THE GOSPEL!

Love you guys...

Life @ reGeneration

Just a quick update and reminder about things that are coming up at reGeneration.  We're excited about things that are happening and we're gearing up for our "Summer of Love" this year.  It's gonna be pretty awesome to really get involved in the community doing some new stuff, while continuing the things we've been doing.  Be watching for the "Summer of Love" calendar.  It will be available next week.

Here's what's coming up in the next few weeks:

PRESTERA CENTER - Our next Prestera service will be June 3 at 7:00 at their Pinecrest facility on Rt. 60.

LIFE GROUPS - One of the things that we need as Christ followers is constant encouragement, comfort, and accountability (I Thessalonians 2:11-12).  One of the ways we're going to provide these is through life groups.  These groups will be a way for us to continue to live out our values together away from Sunday morning.

Steven Schumann is leading a College/Young Adult group.  Contact him at (316) 706-1510 if you would like to be a part of this awesome group!

Since we have people who come from the Teays Valley/St. Albans area, there will be a group for them that will have their first meeting on June 8.  There will be more info about this group this Sunday morning.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS FOR HOWELLS MILL CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLY - If you forgot to bring them this past Sunday you can still bring them this Sunday.

BASKET OF LOVE THIS SUNDAY! - Please bring baked goods for Bulldog Creative Services who helped design our church sign.

FOLLOWING JESUS CLASS - This class will start on June 19 and will meet at the church space at 6:30 pm.  We'll be covering some doctrinal essentials that are vital for us as Christ followers.  The cost of the book is $6.00.  You can check out the book HERE.  We'll be ordering books in a couple of weeks or you can order your own. The class will be eight weeks.

REFIT - Sunday, Monday & Wednesday 6:30 pm

FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY - Tuesday 6:30 pm

DAILY PRAYER - Check out the website and social media to keep up with our 2:00 daily prayer.

If you have any questions, you can ask them here or send me an email, tracy@regenerationwv.com.

LET'S MAKE LIFE INTERESTING TOGETHER!

Tracy

Continuing Talk About the Bible (Literally!)

So, you're reading the beginning of another way for us to be connected at reGeneration.  From this point forward, at least once a week I'm going to be using this blog to share background info on the Sunday message, share my thoughts and insights on stuff that may be going on in the news, etc., or give more info about upcoming serving opportunities and events.  It's going to be another "touch" for us to BE the church and "make life interesting."

Yesterday I continued the series "Q & A" and talked about the Bible.  We looked at what it says about itself and answered the question of what translation should you use.  If you didn't get the chance to see the message, here's the video on Facebook.  I had mentioned in the message that I would post the info about the history of Bible translations that I found.  It is from the eBook How the Bible Came to Be, edited by J. Daniel Hays & J. Scott Duvall.  If you would like to get that eBook, it's pretty inexpensive at $1.99.  Here's the link on Amazon.

Here's the excerpt from the message,

"In the ebook, How the Bible Came to Be,I found a little history of the English translation of the Bible.  John Wycliffe produced the first complete translation of the Bible into English in the 1380s. He translated the New Testament from Latin into English and was persecuted for his willingness to put the Bible into the language of ordinary people. John Purvey produced a revision of the Wycliffe Bible (1388), and this translation dominated until the time of William Tyndale. With the invention of the printing press in the mid-1400s, English Bible translation rapidly moved forward. William Tyndale produced the first English New Testament (1526) based on the Greek text rather than the Latin. Tyndale was executed and his body burned in 1536 for his courageous commitment to Bible translation. In 1535, Miles Coverdale produced a translation of the entire Bible into English (Coverdale Bible). The Matthew Bible was completed two years later (1537) by John Rogers, an associate of Tyndale. Rogers also suffered martyrdom for his work as a translator. In 1539, Coverdale revised the Matthew Bible, a revision better known as the Great Bible because of its larger-than-normal pages. The Great Bible was very popular with the people and was the first English translation authorized to be read in the Church of England. From Geneva, Switzerland, Oxford scholar William Whittingham and others produced a revision known as the Geneva Bible (1560), which featured Calvinistic marginal notes. This Bible became extremely popular among groups such as the Puritans, but was not permitted to be read in English churches. The Bishops’ Bible, a revision of the Great Bible, was completed in 1568 for this purpose. The Roman Catholic Church also needed an English translation with marginal notes in support of its doctrine, and in 1593 it produced the Douai-Rheims Bible.  In 1604, King James I authorized a new translation of the whole Bible for use in the churches of England. The leading university scholars in England produced the Authorized Version of 1611, commonly known as the King James Version (KJV). The King James Version of 1611 also included the Apocrypha, a group of Jewish books recognized as canonical by Catholics but not by Protestants. The goal of the KJV translators was to produce an English translation from the original languages that ordinary people could understand and that would be worthy of public reading in the churches. In spite of early criticisms, the KJV became one of the most widely used English translations. The KJV has been revised numerous times since 1611. It’s a revision of the 1769 edition that is prominent today—an edition that differs significantly from the 1611 edition. For example, the original KJV contained the Old Testament Apocrypha, books traditionally accepted by Catholics and rejected by Protestants. In spite of the popularity of the KJV, translators have been motivated to continue producing new Bible translations for two reasons.  

First, the translators of the KJV used only about a half dozen, very late Greek manuscripts to translate the New Testament.  Since that time, many older manuscripts have been discovered and most scholars contend that these are more likely to reflect the original text. Today, New Testament scholars are able to translate from a Greek text that draws on almost six thousand Greek manuscripts, some dating back to the second century. Sometimes the differences between the KJV and contemporary translations are due to differences in the underlying Greek text.  

Second, the KJV’s use of archaic English words and phrases such as “aforetime,” “must needs,” “howbeit,” “holden,” “peradventure,” and “whereto” confuses contemporary readers.  The KJV was a good translation for its day, but has been eclipsed by numerous contemporary translations.  The English Revised Version (ERV; 1881–1885) was the first major revision of the KJV, and the first English translation to make use of the modern discipline of textual criticism.  American scholars produced their own revision of the ERV in 1901: the American Standard Version (ASV).  Toward the middle of the twentieth century (1946–1952), the Revised Standard Version (RSV) appeared, still based on the KJV but with the goal of representing the best scholarship in language designed for public and private worship.  The New American Standard Bible (1971) claimed to be a revision of the ASV, but should really be considered a new translation. The New King James Version (1979–1982) made an effort to update the language of the KJV while retaining the same underlying Greek text.  The New Revised Standard Version, a thorough revision of the RSV, was completed in 1989 with the goal of being as literal as possible but as free as necessary (in order to accurately communicate the meaning). There have been many other contemporary translations in recent years that are not tied to the KJV.  The New American Bible (1941–1970) and the Jerusalem Bible (1966) are major Catholic translations of the Scriptures.  The New Jerusalem Bible, a revision of the Jerusalem Bible, appeared in 1985.  Both the New English Bible (1961–1970) and its revision, the Revised English Bible (1989), are translations into contemporary British idiom.  The American Bible Society completed the Good News Bible in 1976 (also called Today’s English Version) with the goal of expressing the meaning of the original text in conversational English.  The New International Version (NIV; 1973–1978, 1984) sought to produce a translation in international English offering a middle ground between a word-for-word approach and a thought-for-thought approach.  Today’s New International Version (TNIV; 2001) is an attempt to revise the NIV using the best of contemporary biblical scholarship and changes in the English language, especially as it relates to the issue of gender and language.  The NIV was thoroughly revised in 2010.  As a result, the NIV (1984) and the TNIV will eventually be discontinued. The issue of gender-inclusive language was brought to the fore by the publication of the TNIV. Bible translators will continually be challenged as to how best to translate the meaning of the biblical text into contemporary English in light of language changes such as those in the area of gender. The New Century Version (1987) and the Contemporary English Version (1991–1995) are recent thought-for-thought translations.  The New Living Translation (1996) is a fresh, thought-for-thought translation based on the popular paraphrase, the Living Bible (1967–1971).  The New International Reader’s Version (1996) was created to enable early readers to understand God’s Word. Eugene Peterson’s The Message (1993–2002) is an attempt to render the message of the Bible in the language of today’s generation. The New English Translation, commonly referred to as the NET Bible (1998–2005), offers an electronic version of a modern translation for distribution over the Internet (complete with over sixty thousand explanatory notes by the translators). The English Standard Version (2001) is a word-for-word translation that uses the RSV as its starting point. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (1999–2004) also promotes a word-for-word approach unless clarity and readability demand a more idiomatic translation."

I know this is a lot of info, but hopefully, this helps provide some more insight as you continue to seek out God's Word and how to apply it.  Remember, we need to find a version that we can truly understand so we can best know how to follow Jesus.  Don't forget,

By your words I can see where I'm going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.            Psalm 119:105 (The Message)

If you have any questions, please let me know.  You can email me at tracy@regenerationwv.com.

Love you guys!

Tracy