Thursday, April 24, 2014

How CVC is helping to translate the Bible into the heart language of an unreached people group

1 In the bigynnyng was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word.
2 This was in the bigynnyng at God.
3 Alle thingis weren maad bi hym, and withouten hym was maad no thing, that thing that was maad.
4 In hym was lijf, and the lijf was the liyt of men; and the liyt schyneth in derknessis,
5 and derknessis comprehendiden not it.
(John 1:1-5, Wycliffe Bible, 1395 AD)1

This post is written by CVCer and member of our Missions Development Team, guest blogger Jeremy Ousley.
Imagine that this is the most current English Bible translation available.  Sure, you might be able to plod through and make out what it says, but it certainly isn’t the easiest passage to understand.  It’s definitely not a translation we want to tackle on a daily basis through the CVC reading plan, and it’s not a translation that we can easily “store up in our hearts” (Psalm 119:11).  

This is because the Wycliffe Bible is not written in our heart language, the language that we not only understand best, but also speaks to us in a way that is precious to us.  

It’s sad that many nations and people groups around the world don’t have a Bible translation in their heart language.  The SOLI people of Pearl Island, Indonesia (CVC’s newest adopted people group) are one of these groups.  They have a scripture translation available in their native language of SOLI, but it’s so outdated that it’s essentially unreadable; much less something the people want to learn and love.

An exciting opportunity has arisen for the CVC community.  We have been given the opportunity to partner with a field agent of World Outreach in Indonesia.  He is working to re-translate the scripture into a modern version of SOLI that the people can understand.  He is currently working to translate portions of the New Testament and distribute this to the SOLI people.  If it is accepted, he and his team will begin work on translating the rest of the New Testament and follow that up with the Old Testament. 

In order to complete the first stage of translation, he needs to hire a full-time worker to help with the translation.  In March, after learning that a year’s salary for this full-time worker is only $2,000 USD, the CVC Missions Development Team (MDT) unanimously voted to pay the salary for one full-time worker for one year out of CVC’s missionsbudget.  If the first year goes well, we may likely choose to support this new employee on an ongoing basis, until the project is complete.

If you are a CVCer, thank you for giving to CVC.  When you give to the general fund, a generous portion goes to the MDT.  From our missions budget, we support a wide variety of mission opportunities outside the walls of CVC.  One of these ministries is now the translation of the Bible into the SOLI language, so thank you for your generosity.  You are helping to make this translation possible.

Another, even more important commitment made by the MDT is prayer and fasting.  This was our partner’s first request, even before financial support, and it is a vitally important activity and is crucial in bringing God’s Word to people who essentially do not have it.  In response to this request, a few members of the MDT have committed to pray and fast for one day per week for one year, and we invite you to join us in this commitment, as the Lord leads you.

It is exciting to think that the people of CVC will be a part of bringing God’s Word to the people of Pearl Island  (over 3 million, 99% of which do not know Christ) in a language that they can read, understand, learn and love.  With your help, Christ, who is the Light of men, will shine in the darkness that is so prevalent on Pearl Island.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5, ESV)

1Cited from Wesley Center Online

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Baptizing people with significant mental disabilities


On Easter Sunday 2014, at Cuyahoga Valley Church, we baptized a young teenager, Courteney Boyle, who has major mental and physical impairments. She cannot speak for herself to profess Christ. But her parents, especially, see evidence of new life in Christ in their daughter.

Baptizing her would likely not be an issue for our Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran brothers and sisters. Since these traditions baptize infants, for them the profession of faith prior to baptism comes from the parents not the baptismal candidate.

We, however, baptize believers by immersion - those who have experienced new life in Christ and can give testimony to that experience. Because of Courtney's physical limitations, she is unable to make a verbal profession of faith.

Her parents, though, Dan and Christine Boyle, who teach the gospel to her, have observed profound changes in her. Dan and Christine are very, very mature followers of Jesus. They provide leadership in ministries outside our church to the larger body of Christ. And they see evidence of faith in Courteney's life. When worship happens, she's more animated. When they pray with her, she's different in ways that only her parents can see.

So, when the Boyles asked us to consider baptizing Courtney, we took the request very, very seriously.

We did some research to see what other baptistic churches have done in this kind of unusual scenario.

We did not want to move forward strictly on an emotional level. We wanted a theological framework in place for the baptism. We wanted to demonstrate how we are trusting in God's character as we considered Courteney's inability to respond the way we are accustomed to seeing in those being baptized.

Jason Whitt, professor at Baylor University, wrote “Baptism and Profound Intellectual Disability.” Pastor John Piper of Desiring God, offered a very helpful perspective on a podcast.
Whitt's words were instructive, "Reflecting again on the nature of the Church as the body of Christ in which each member is uniquely gifted for the good of the whole, we may need to consider what gifts the profoundly mentally disabled have been given for the benefit of the whole body. Often, the relationship to those with disabilities is seen as going only one way: the able-bodied Christians serving and caring for those who cannot do for themselves. A sense of Christian service and virtue is evident in the self-sacrifice of those who would care for such persons. However, the disabled person is reduced to a piece of spiritual exercise equipment
on which able-bodied Christians can develop spiritual virtues by serving the 'least of these.'"

Whitt continues, "The gospel invites us to the greatest stretch of our imagination to see the profoundly disabled as fellow brothers and sisters, members of God’s kingdom, who have been given gifts we need and from whom we might learn. Our learning comes not by what we do for them, but from what they teach. What if their presence in the community of believers is essential to our coming to understand more of who God is, who we are, and who we are to be? They challenge us in our self-sufficiency, reminding that to be human is to be dependent. Perhaps they also teach about patient perseverance, or living in a moment without concern for tomorrow. For some people with profound cognitive disabilities, their gift to us may be simply presence being and not doing. Other gifts may be gentleness, peacefulness, joy, wonder, or simply silence."

Piper's words were also helpful. "If the child or young adult gives evidence that he is perceiving the love of God in Christ, if he is sensing in some way his own sin and need and responding with some signs of humble gladness because of Christ, it would be fitting to trust the perceptions of the mature believers closest to him, and baptize him or her."

He continued, "If I were the pastor I would give serious thought and preparation to the liturgy, the words that will be spoken over the child so that everyone knows how seriously this has been considered and how it is being understood."

Before we baptized Courtney, our Lead Pastor, Chad Allen, explained what we were doing in a very careful way. Here are his words:

"In this service, we have a unique situation. We are a church that theologically practices believers baptism by full immersion. We believe that a person comes to faith in Christ on their own and then, as a believer in Christ, chooses to be baptized out of their love for and obedience to Jesus. We see the biblical model of full immersion in Scripture. We practice that mode.

"We have a first this service. A family in our church has come to us on behalf of their daughter requesting baptism. Dan and Christine Boyle are bringing their daughter Courtney forward for baptism today. This will be the first CVC baptism of its kind.

"Although we have had people with disabilities baptized in the past, this will be the most severe case. Upon seriously processing the Boyle’s request, and engaging them with multiple staff members, we feel it is appropriate to baptize Courtney. We'll be pouring rather than immersing in this case because of her disability. We believe that the motive is more important than the mode.

"As with ALL baptisms, we are trusting in God's character and His insight into the person's heart condition. (I also, don’t find it coincidental that in the teaching passage this weekend [in Acts 3], we see a crippled man who was once not allowed to enter the temple to worship who, upon his healing, was able to enter and praise God.)

"Trusting that God has done a healing of Courteney’s soul, why we would deny her this expression? Courteney may not have the ability to articulate or respond the way we are accustomed to seeing in those being baptized, but her parents, who are mature and faithful followers of Christ, have witnessed and perceived humble, simple, and observable evidences of spiritual sensitivity and a positive responsiveness to the things of Christ. With that being said, we consider it a loving and faith-filled action to baptize her today."

You can see the Boyles' testimony here. Her father, Dan, and I prayed for her as her testimony played. Since we could not immerse Courteney in her wheelchair, we chose to pour water from a vase over her face and head. It was a moving moment that resulted in spontaneous applause and a standing ovation.

In our 27 years, we had never done a baptism quite like this at CVC before. But then again, we never quite witnessed this kind of faith, hope, and love before. The testimony of transformation in Courteney's life as she responds to the grace of God is moving, amazing, humbling, inspiring, encouraging, and worshipful. What a privilege and honor to witness the faith of this family! Truly in our weakness the power of Christ is made known. What an exclamation point to our Resurrection Sunday!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our hope for heaven is our fuel for today

Balance vs Passion


This morning, I read a great quote passed along by NFL Hall of Famer, Chris Carter. It's a quote attributed to the late soldier and football player, Pat Tillman.

"Whether it’s playing sports or whether it’s just living, in my opinion you should be passionate about it or else, why do it?"

For all you "balance" fans, how does substituting the word "balance" in that Tillman's quote work?

"Whether it’s playing sports or whether it’s just living, in my opinion you should be balanced about it or else, why do it?”

I am reminded of Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." My problem is not that I need more balance. I need more passion for the right things. .

Did Jesus live a balanced life? Or a passionate life?

Oh Lord, let me be passionate about many things. My walk with you. My wife. My family. My friends. My ministry. My physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health. Please save me from a trending-toward-lukewarm, balanced life.

Related posts:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

7 Ways to Pray for Your Pastor on Resurrection Weekend


After preaching for 26 years on Resurrection Sunday, one thing I know for sure, your pastor will appreciate your prayers this weekend. I know that many believers have already been praying for their spiritual leaders. Sometimes, though, our prayers are too general and, frankly, a little weak.

How can we step up our prayers for our leaders, especially this weekend? How can we pray so that the Spirit of God will show up in especially powerful ways through the life and ministry of our pastors?

What if we prayed according to the biblical symbols of the Holy Spirit?

The Spirit is like the wind. When Jesus talked about the initial work of the Spirit in our salvation, He likened the Spirit’s work to wind (John 3:8). The Spirit is like the rain. Rain brings refreshing where there once was dryness and barrenness. That’s good news for us because we live in a dry and barren land (Joel 2:23, 28a). The Spirit is like a river. We see similarities with the symbol of rivers and the symbol of rain. But the differences seem to warrant separate consideration. The rain comes upon us, while the rivers flow from us (John 7:38-39). The Spirit is like fire. Just as fire purifies, warms, and illuminates so does the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11). The Spirit is like anointing oil. In the Old Testament, oil was used to anoint priests, prophets, and kings. In the New Testament we see that Jesus was anointed “with the Holy Spirit and with power” (Acts 10: 38). The Spirit is like a seal or guarantee. The Holy Spirit is the “guarantee” or “seal” in the hearts of the followers of Christ (Ephesians 1:13b-14). Finally, the Spirit is like a dove. In Matthew 3:16, we see the Holy Spirit coming as a dove to rest on Jesus at His baptism. This pictures the Spirit’s approval, beauty, gentleness, and peace.

Today and tomorrow morning, take these symbols of the Holy Spirit and invite Him to display these characteristic more and more deeply through your pastor as he preaches this Resurrection Weekend. Pray expectantly!

1. Ask the Spirit to blow His mighty wind to empower your pastor's life and teaching

2. Ask Him to pour His refreshing rain onto your pastor's life and ministry

3. Ask Him to open up His rivers of living water to flow through your pastor as he leads your congregation

4. Ask Him to refine your pastor with His fire and to set his soul on fire as he ministers


5. Ask Him to anoint your pastor with fresh oil so he can serve the broken with greater fruitfulness

6. Ask Him to give your pastor a greater sense of his sealing and his assurance of heaven so others can be sealed and assured of heaven, too

7. Ask Him to rest on your pastor's life as a dove with His beauty, gentleness, and peace

Ask all this so that the Father will be glorified in raising the Son to life and granting New Life to many unbelievers and believers this weekend. 

Because of the resurrection, everything has changed. We are going to heaven and want to take as many people with us as we can! Your prayers matter. 

So, pray for your pastor. He will be glad you did and so will the people that he leads to Christ this weekend. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

10 reasons why we can call the dark day Jesus died Good Friday


The murder of the most loving, most just, most sacrificial Person who ever walked the planet took place on that dark Friday when Jesus died on the cross. A Son was taken from his mother. A Friend was separated from his companions. A Leader was ripped away from his followers. How could this possibly be good?

We must let the scriptures speak.

1. Jesus accomplish the will of God. "Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand" (Isaiah 53:10).

2. Jesus fulfilled his purpose for coming into the world. ""Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour" (John 12:27).

3. Jesus knew that joy would overwhelm and supersede the agony of the cross. "Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

4. Jesus knew that his agony would make many sinners become righteous in God's sight. "Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11).

5. Jesus forgave our sins, canceled our debts, and set aside the law which condemned us. "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross"  (Colossians 2:13-14).

6. Jesus disarmed the demonic  powers that seek to destroy us. "This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him" (Colossians 2:14b-15).

7. Jesus made it possible for us to be saved by faith – by believing – rather than by works. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

8. Jesus demonstrated the love of God for sinful people. "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

9. Jesus knew that his death would bring us peace and healing. "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

10. Jesus made for himself a name that is above every other name. "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:5-11).

No wonder that one day we will worship this One who died on that dark, Good Friday so long ago. We will never forget. That Friday will always be Good for us.

"And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.' Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 'Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!' And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!' And the four living creatures said, 'Amen!' and the elders fell down and worshiped" (Revelation 5:9-14).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How you can maintain your joy as a leader during the intense ministry that surrounds Easter


Are you a joyful leader?  The word literally means “full of joy.”  Are you filled to overflowing with joy?

Leaders can be so focused on managing, creating, and arranging for others to find great joy as they encounter God, that we lose our own joy in God in the process.  The pressures to produce great experiences for our people during the Easter season are great.  Can we meet and exceed the quality of last year's services?  Will our people be able to say, "That's the best Good Friday and Easter services ever?"  Will our people evaluate our music and teaching by comparing us to Mars Hill or Northpoint or NewSpring, or Willow Creek or Seacoast or...  Yes, sir, trying to make excellence happen can be overwhelming.  

I remember that a friend once asked me, “Are you happy?”  I said, “Yeah, I guess.”  He replied, “Well, tell your face!”  I wasn't operating in my role as a professional clergyman in a way that fed my joy.  I was functioning in a way that stole it!  I said I was happy but my face said something else.  The people closest to me knew that I wasn’t.

Are you joyful? What would your closest associates in ministry say?  What would your spouse or children say?  The old song says, “If you’re happy and you know then your face will surely show it.”  Does your face (and, more importantly, your heart) show that you are filled with joy?

My guess is that a lot of us would have to say “No.  I’m really not all that joyful.  And why should I be?  I feel unappreciated by my staff.  I feel the sting of disapproval from the people I lead.  I often feel like I don't measure up.  I feel like I let the people down.  I feel like the Lord isn't pleased with me.  The pressure to perform week after week, year after year is too great."

But consider. Joy is not a function of “what,” but “where.”  Joy does not flow out of our “situation,” but our “location.”  When it comes to joy, “where you are” is more important than “how you are.”  Let me show you what I mean. 

In Psalm 16, David is praying to God, "In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11b). 

Where can we find joy even when life is not working out the way we’d like?  In God’s presence.  At His right hand.  Nearness to God brings happiness in God.

Maybe the reason we aren’t joy-full is because we are too far from God.  While we are arranging services for our people to draw close, we ourselves need to learn to come closer to God.  And when we do, we’ll find greater and greater joy.  

Toward the end of one of our mission trips to Ghana, West Africa, I remember being so very tired.  We were making our way down from the north to the coast.  It was an all-day drive over very poor roads in an old semi-air conditioned van.  It would have been easy to grumble.  And, in a good-natured way, we did a little of that.  But toward the end of that long day, Henry Sennyo, one of our African hosts, taught us a Ghanaian song.  

“Things are getting better.  Things are getting better.  For the Lord is on His throne.  Things are getting better.  Things are getting better.  Things are getting better.” 

And we started singing with Henry.  We began to draw closer and closer to God through worship.  And we were more and more filled with the Spirit.  God kept us from sinking into grumbling, complaining, griping, whining.  Instead, He put a song in our heart and on our lips.

Yes. I know that for people in ministry, the pressure to perform is intense this time of year. But remember. Because of the gospel, in Christ you are already pleasing.  The cross has made you acceptable to God.  His resurrection has changed everything for you.  The pressure is off.  Don't feel like you have to hit a home run with your music and message.  Jesus already hit a home run for you.  Remind your people of that!  But first, remind yourself!

And because God is on the throne and because each passing day means that we are all one day closer to heaven, things are getting better.  For you.  And for the people you serve. 

So, relax, let go, and sing!  Things ARE getting better.  

Question: What songs do you sing that draw your heart closer to God and increase your joy?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Giving God an ultimatum?

A few days ago, I received a prayer request from a friend.

A family member had made an ultimatum to God. If God came through, he would follow Him. If God didn't, he would except his place in hell.

My friend wrote, "We know our God doesn't work this way. I believe he is being deceived by the enemy. I felt helpless and deep, deep sorrow when reading his words this morning."

How would you seek you encourage this struggling friend?

Below are some words I used to try to help.

***

This is a spiritual battle going on for the soul of your family member.

I also know that God is not surprised by the ultimatums of his creatures who are blind to the truths about Him.

Of course, your family member has false beliefs about God and a misunderstanding about hell.

No one who understands the horrors of hell would ever wish themselves or anyone else to be there. And no one who understands the nature of God as the creator and sovereign of the universe would ever give him an ultimatum.

The God that your family member may be rejecting is not the God of the Bible. I have hope that once the Spirit reveals to him the true nature and character of God, he will embrace this God who is holy and loving.

So, our prayers must be that God will lead him to the knowledge of the truth so that he can escape from the snare of the devil having been held captive by him to do his will. We must pray that the god of this world who has blinded his eyes to the truth will be defeated so that he will see the beauty of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. We must pray that he will be raised from spiritual death to spiritual life.

Only God can do these miraculous things. And that's why we pray. It is warfare.

May our Lord rescue your family member just as He has rescued us.

Thanks for inviting us to pray with you about this.

***

Question: Would you stop right now and join us in prayer for this family?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Five Minute Cardio + Strength Training Workout

Five Minute Cardio + Strength Training Workout (8 minutes with warm-up and cool down)

Warm Up

Do each exercise for 60 seconds.

Arm Circles - 15 secs small forward, 15 secs small backward, 15 secs large forward, 15 secs large backward,

High Knees

Workout

Do each exercise for 60 seconds.

Dive Bombers
Squat Jumps
Bicycles
Mountain Climbers
Run in place

Challenge

(Optional) Challenge yourself with 60 seconds of Burpees.

Cool Down

Your usual cool down and stretching.

Exercise Disclaimer
In the interest of your safety, it is important to check with your physician before beginning any exercise program and to exercise according to your fitness level and capabilities. If you have any questions, please seek the guidance of a health professional.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seven steps to make your sermon sticky


This week, I visited the office of one of our youth pastors, Joe Valenti, to look at one of his commentaries on the book of Ezekiel. I noticed 6 little words typed and taped over his desk.

Simple. Unexpected. Concrete. Credible. Emotion. Story. In case you wondered, it spells SUCCES. (I'm not sure what happened to the last S.)

The words come from Chip and Dan Heath's book, Made to Stick. You can find a brief summary of the book here.

***

Simple: Find the core of any idea. You need to prioritize your ideas. Providing 10 arguments to a public is doomed to fail since people will not be able to remember them all. Be a master of exclusion and stick to the core.

Unexpected: Grab people’s attention by surprising them. You need to violate people’s expectations with counterintuitive surprise. Generate interest and curiosity to endure your idea.

Concrete: Make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later. Explain in terms of human actions and use sensory information. Use concrete images and proverbs.

Credible: Give an idea believability. Look for ways to help people test your ideas for themselves.

Emotional: Help people see the importance of an idea. Let people feel something. Research shows that people are more likely to make a charitable gift to a single needy individual than to an entire impoverished region.

Stories: Empower people to use an idea through narrative. Tell stories. Hearing stories acts as a kind of mental flight simulator preparing us to respond more quickly and effectively.

***

The 6 words caused me to think through 7 principles for effective, powerful, sticky (think "memorable") communication of God's Word. Please forgive me, but I just had to illiterate the points.

Simple – 
Say one thing. What is your one big idea? Don’t try to accomplish too much in a message. Most preachers need to say more by saying less. Most preachers will have other opportunities. Live to preach another day. Remember KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Startling – 
Say something that those in the world will find surprising, refreshing, non-religious, or unexpected. The word of God often challenges people on both the left and the right. God presents a 3rd way, a new way, a new life. 

Specific – 
Say things in concrete, tangible, practical, relevant way. Don’t generalize. Instead, give practical examples of how to apply these truths to life on Monday at the office or on Tuesday night as a parent puts a child to bed or on a Wednesday morning commute or… well, you get the idea!

Sincere – 
Say things in a way that heightens your credibility. Often, the best way to do this is to admit you are a fellow struggler. Say, “I need to hear this message myself.” And you can say that honestly because, after all, it’s true, isn’t it?

Sensitive – 
Say things that move your senses and the senses of the people. Speak from your heart in a way that not only moves the minds of your listeners, but their emotions as well. Be passionate. Ask God to set your heart on fire. Sermons must engage the mind and the emotions to impact a person’s will. If you communicate in a lukewarm way, your people will never feel the urge to turn up the heat.

Stories – 
Say things that communicate the overall meta-story-line of the Bible: Creation, Fall, Rescue, Restoration. Pull your people into His-story. One of the best ways to do this is to tell the many mini-stories that occur in the Bible, in the lives of your people, and in your life. Propositional truth resoundingly shouts within the framework of great story-telling. Ask God to give you stories to tell within the Story.

Salvation -
We must be praying for and preaching for the salvation and restoration of people who are living sin-marred, broken lives. We want to go to heaven and take as many people with us as we possibly can. So, we preach with the view that the Holy Spirit will draw people to the Savior. But not everyone who hears a message needs to be born again, of course. That's why we must remember that the gospel is not just for unbelievers. It's for everyone. Believers need to be reminded that it's not their doing that pleases God. It's the doing of Jesus in their behalf that pleases God. We need to remind believers that Jesus still loves and forgives them. Why? That's the fuel we all need to live holy lives. So, every time we stand to preach, we preach the gospel that saves - that changes everything. 

Question: If you were to add another S word, what would it be?

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