New or Improved?

When someone trusts Jesus do they get a new life or an improved version of the old life? If it were simply an improved version of the old life then all we have to do is add Jesus to the life we already have. Then we hope that He fixes our problems and cleans up our life. However, if He gives us a new life then the old things are gone, new things come because we are a new person. If you know Jesus Christ, what do you have – a new life or an improved version of the old one?

Wake Up

Today, we concluded our series entitled: Wake Up. We had a great conclusion to the series with several people making decisions for Christ. We covered some difficult topics in this series and one of the things I have loved about the people of Southrbidge is their willingness to be honest. Whether we were talking about sexual immorality, a loss of love, being overwhelmed by the pressures of life or apathy, people did not pretend that these messages did not apply to them. I pray regularly for several things for our church. One has been authenticity. I am thankful we are not content simply playing church.

Thanksgiving Day Reflections

Today, we had a great time having the family over, and reflecting on what we are thankful for. When it was my turn to share what I was thankful for, I was struck by my salvation. It seems obvious, but I am thankful for what Jesus has done to transform my life. Sometimes when I drive to the church on Sunday mornings to preach, I just thank God that I get to preach the gospel. To think where I could be if Jesus had not changed my life is overwhelming. I have Jesus, an amazing family, and some great friends. I am very thankful.

Psalm 118:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Thanks Shaq

I have never been a big Shaq fan, but he is a great player. I may become a Shaq fan after reading this article today which says that he paid for the funeral of a 5 year old Fayetteville girl Shaniya Davis who was killed recently. It has been all over the news.

Just the week before this case, Southbridge hosted Becky McDonald for a Nourish event. Becky is the President of Women At Risk International. They work ministering to women and children who are being bought and sold in sex slavery.

God has been breaking our hearts about the tragedies that occur to countless women and children around the world. We can’t simply see these horrible stories on the news, think they are horrible and then change the channel. I am thankful Shaq has done something. We too want to reach out to these women and these children and do whatever we can to demonstrate the love of Jesus to them. One of the  things we believe the Lord is leading us to do is our Christmas outreach for WAR babies. I will mention more about this on Sunday, but the summary is this:

I was reading a WAR brochure today that says, “The face of trafficking in the USA is underage.” That brochure also contained these stats:

  • In 2009, a man was arrested for selling 89 children in Detroit, MI.
  • In Atlanta, GA, 300 children a month are sold.
  • There are 100,000 American children who are trafficked in the USA (FBI).

This is not just a problem in the USA though, it is a world wide problem.

  • In 2004, Chinese police arrested 95 people for the trafficking of more than 76 babies.
  • In Iraq, it is estimated that 150 children are sold by organized gangs each year (The Guardian, 6 April 2009).

These are not isolated cases this is a world-wide problem. What can we do? This year one of the things we want  to be a part of is helping build a dormitory and cafeteria in an orphanage in partnership with WAR. As WAR says, “When you rescue babies, you spare them a life of horror. They can be tucked into cradles of safety, circles of protection, and hear stories of Jesus sung to them. They can grow up to be all God intended.” The children are rescued from situations where their parents are considering selling them.

What can you do? In the lobby we’ll have Christmas tree displays where you can grab a baby bottle, take it home, and fill it up with money. What does that money do? Here is what WAR says in their own words:

This February, 2010 the WAR, Int’l Circle Tour of women will be visiting 3 safe houses and one orphanage that is a safe haven for 110 little girls rescued from trafficking or at risk of trafficking.  This precious home has faithfully sheltered, raised, loved on and reached deep into the hill tribes of Thailand creating circles of protection around girls from ages 3-18.  One of the first girls rescued, now married runs the home with her godly husband.  All of the 110 girls have a story of need that qualifies them to come to this safe haven. 
 
Here, and in every WAR, Int’l program, girls are treated like our own daughters.  We dream with them about what God wants for their lives and work to make that a reality the same way we would for our own daughters.  This home has graduated many including 5 lawyers.  No dream is too big for Daughters of the King. 
 
We want to go to House of Grace with gifts in hand this February playing Santa.  No mom or aunt wants to meet her family members without gifts in hand!  The cafeteria is being torn down to make place for more beds.  Would you help us build a new cafeteria and arrive with funds in hand to do just that?  It will cost $209 dollars per child to arrive with $22,990 in hand.

We believe God has given us an opportunity to do something to potentially make an eternal difference in the lives of these children. Will you join us?

Psalm 82:1-8 A psalm of Asaph. God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the “gods”: 2 “How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. 4 Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. 5 “They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ 7 But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.” 8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.

 

Celebration

We had another great day at Southbridge today. We continued our series entitled: Wake Up from Revelation chapters 2 and 3. My favorite part of the day today was during the second service. I was telling a story about someone trusting Jesus Christ as their Savior and when I said that the guy had trusted Jesus as his Savior, the congregation started clapping. They say you celebrate what you value. The people at Southbridge “get it.” We value life change.

Women At Risk (guest blogger Shanna Lehr)

This Wednesday night, our women’s ministry Nourish will take a look at a problem that is world wide and affects millions of women and children. Human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women is something that has gone on since the time of Esther. Even she was a woman at risk, and so are we. It sounds crazy to say that “we are” as we live pampered lives in beautiful Raleigh with so much at our disposal. But once, sin was my ruler and the prince of the power of this world had dominion over me and then Jesus came and rescued me!
 
Our speaker for this evening is Becky McDonald, the President of Women at Risk International, or WAR. The purpose and passion of this organization is to wrap arms of love around women and children, whispering the message that they were created for purpose and dignity. Creating safe places for women and children rescued from many abuses including human trafficking/sexual slavery, WAR, Int’l desires to give voice to their silenced cries.
 
Becky was a missionary kid who saw first hand the depravity and selfishness of man. Here is an exerpt from her website:

“Frankly, I just wanted to slap most American women when I first moved back to the States a few years ago. Instead, God slapped me and opened my eyes to a world of hidden hurt and deep woundedness hidden behind white picket fences, prim church attire, new dishwashers, and corporate glamor. He broke my heart for a continent of seemingly pampered, spoiled, and “liberated” women. As women flowed through my home and I listened to their angry or whispered stories, at first it seemed petty and insignificant in comparison to the silenced cries of the international world. I had grown up with a playmate with acid poured down her throat, and the acid of her suffering had burned a hole in my heart and set me on a course of action I’ve been on ever since. Early on I had come to appreciate the circle of protection that my own life was privileged to have. My focus and passion was to give voice to the silenced cries of the truly wounded.”

Our Southbridge women will join together to create circles of protection around these women on Wednesay evening. Doors open at 6:30pm at the Hilton, RTP.