Ethiopia Trip

This summer has been full of missions adventures! On May 30th, a group of 15 people from Gateway headed to Yetebon, Ethiopia. After a 13 hr. flight, we arrived in Addis Abba, the capital of Ethiopia. We were greeted at the airport by Marta Gabre- Tsadick and her son Lali. Marta, and her husband Deme, established Project Mercy in 1977. Project Mercy is a Christian non-profit organization which focuses on community development and self-help programs, such as relief, infrastructure, health, farming, children, education, and vocation.

Our team was able to travel through the countryside to Yetebon, where Project Mercy is located. We were able to tour the facilities, the local hospital, and the high school/college. We saw the “secret” garden, where new crops were being introduced. We also were able to attend a local church service, where language was no barrier in order to praise the Lord. The experience of being able to worship with our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia was humbling, encouraging, and exciting!

The highlight of our trip to Ethiopia was the people that we met. Project Mercy houses 31 children, who have no other home. The children range in age from 5-22 and each one has a story of how God has brought them to Project Mercy. We played soccer, basketball, and volleyball with the kids. We read books in English, practiced math skills, did puzzles, and helped the students study for their end-of-the-year tests. We also worked alongside the students to paint their dining hall. We made quite a few messes, but the end result was that the students learned how to paint and we developed friendships.

Our team was also able to help teach medical skills at the hospital. A small group even witnessed an Ethiopian C-section and welcomed a new baby into the world! Another member of the team used their veterinarian skills to assess the cattle, goats, and sheep that are housed at Project Mercy. God was able to use each of the unique gifts and talents of our team to reach out to the Project Mercy community.

The main purpose of Gateway going to Ethiopia was to connect people to Jesus Christ and to one another. God provided an opportunity to share the Gospel through the wordless soccer ball, to the children that live there. We were able to wash the feet of each child and to pray with them. We were able to share with them how much God loves each one of them. We may never know all the seeds that were planted, but we do know that the people had an impact on each one of us. 

10/15/2017 Q&A Bible Saturated

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Why do we have infant baptisms?

Gateway encourages parents to make public vows of consecration of their children.  Some parents choose infant dedication.  Other parents choose infant baptism.  We affirm and celebrate both sets of parents, seeking to be a church that embraces diversity in those areas of the Christian life where sincere, faithful, Bible-trusting, Christ-followers hold different opinions on matters that are not essentials of faith.

John Pence, a 19th Century minister of the Free Church of Scotland wrote, “My belief in infant baptism is not a hill upon which I would die.  When push comes to shove, there is only one hill I would die on, the same hill Christ died on, for what He accomplished on that hill, in His death and resurrection, is that without which the gospel is powerless and meaningless.  Men and women are saved by Jesus Christ… they are saved by grace; their beliefs about baptism are, in my opinion, matters of secondary importance to the gospel.”  That sounds like the motto of the E.P.C.: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.

Having said all that, some people want to know the case for infant baptism.  Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology) reviews the basic argument for infant baptism.

“Infants Were Circumcised in the Old Covenant:  In the Old Testament, circumcision was the outward sign of entrance into the covenant community or the community of God’s people.  Circumcision was administered to all Israelite children (that is, male children) when they were eight days old.

Baptism Is Parallel to Circumcision:  In the New Testament, the outward sign of entrance into the 'covenant community' is baptism.  Therefore baptism is the New Testament counterpart to circumcision.  It follows that baptism should be administered to all infant children of believing parents.  

Household Baptisms:  Further support for the practice of baptizing infants is found in the “household baptisms: reported in Acts and the epistles, particularly the baptism of the household of Lydia (Acts 16:15), the family of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:33), and the household of Stephanas (I Cor. 1:16).  It is also claimed that Acts 2:39, which declares that the promised blessing of the gospel is 'to you and to your children,' supports this practice.”

One other perspective on the symbolism of baptism is given by Michael Green.   He says:

“Infant baptism stresses the objectivity of the gospel.  It points to the solid achievement of Christ crucified and risen, whether or not we respond to it. …Not that we gain anything from it unless we repent and believe.  But it is the standing demonstration that our salvation does not depend on our own very fallible faith; it depends on what God has done for us.”

He goes on to say:

“Infant baptism stresses the initiative of God in salvation. …Should it be attached primarily to man’s response, or to God’s initiative?  That is the heart of the question. …For the Baptist, baptism primarily bears witness to what we do in responding to the grace of God.  For those who baptize infants, it primarily bears witness to what God has done to make it all possible.”

Infant dedication, on the other side, is a ceremony for parents who believe that baptism is a later-in-life decision for their children to make, but who want to make a public declaration of gratitude and promise making in their role as parents.  Choosing infant baptism over infant dedication then is a decision based on the parents’ view of baptism.

Finally, whatever choice parents make, the important thing is their determination to keep their vows.  We ask these questions for both infant dedication and infant baptism.

1.    Do you reaffirm your own faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?

2.    Do you claim God’s covenant promises on your child’s behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for (his/her) salvation, as you do for your own?

3.    Do you now unreservedly promise, in humble reliance upon God’s grace, to set before (child) an example of the new life in Christ?

4.    Do you promise to pray with and for him (her) and to bring him (her) up in the knowledge and love of God?

5.    Do you promise to be faithful and active members of the body of Christ wherever you may be?

6.    Do you dedicate your child to the glory of God?

 

At what age should we baptize our children if they are already all dedicated?

Parents should not decide for their children when to be baptized.  That decision is for the individual believer when he or she has a strong , Bible-informed, Spirit-led conviction that it's the right time - and that could be at any age.

 

 

Steadfast Under Trial

Friends, I know there is a seemingly insurmountable mountain of trial in our lives. Whatever it is you personally are facing, there is hope to endure through it. God does not promise us escape from trial, but endurance through it. If we consider how James addresses this topic in the first part of his letter, I think it would encourage us and enable us to press on to take that next step, and the next step and the next.  

“2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:2-12, ESV)

Author and Christian counselor Paul Tripp tells us, “Perhaps the two most important questions you could ask between your conversion and your final resurrection are:

  • What in the world is God doing right here, right now?
  • How in the world should I respond to what God is doing?”

When we slow down and ask ourselves these questions, we are entering a Kingdom-focused moment. We are acknowledging that God is King over this moment in my life right now and that He has a plan for everything. This mountain that I’m staring down, that seems to be in my way, is not in God’s way. It’s actually a tool of grace in God’s plan to shape us. “ Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4 ESV)

So, our trials are actually a tool of God’s grace to produce character in us. I want to close with another encouragement from Paul Tripp who reminds us to not be discouraged, to not give up, don’t listen to the lies of the enemy, to not forsake your good habits of faith and to not question God’s goodness. We need to remember that behind the mountain of trial “is an ever-present Redeemer who is completing His work.”  (Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies)

A Serving Snippet

I came across the following devotional, courtesy of InTouch Ministries, and felt compelled to share:

1 Corinthians 12:18-26

When I talk about Christians serving the church with their God-given talents and gifts, people oftentimes think too small, perhaps picturing the choir singer or the Sunday school teacher. But if they themselves aren’t naturally adept at singing or teaching, they give up.

It’s time that we stop thinking in terms of a “Sunday only” establishment.  The church is not simply a place or a time; it is a body of believers, each one uniquely gifted by God to guide, help, challenge, and support the rest. In fact, most service to the Lord doesn’t take place inside the church building. It happens out in the world, where we do all the things that Scripture commands.

The majority of believers aren’t in a position to influence a lot of people. When we act or speak, only those closest to us notice, but a chain reaction ripples outward to affect an entire community. Paul’s metaphor of body parts working together harmoniously is a helpful description of how one small action can have a widespread impact. Consider the way tensing your toes will keep your foot stable and thereby steady your whole body. In the same way, a gentle rebuke, a listening ear, or a loving deed benefits the church by strengthening one brother or sister, who then supports another.

We are on this earth to serve the kingdom of God and His church. And we do that by ministering to each other in small ways that steady the whole body as we give extra support to one member. In talking about such service, I challenge you to find a need that God can meet through you.

This devotion really amplified for me this very week, during a Staff Retreat held here at Gateway Church. One of the coolest exercises was to ‘group up,' then determine what it looks like to engage in local missions in general. Through five group presentations, numerous ideas, methods and rationale were given of how we may be able to reach those in our neighborhoods, city and region on the whole. What a wonderful example of faith-in-action and boots-to-the-ground efforts to reach those outside the church walls. To echo the last sentence of the devotional, “…I challenge you to find a need that God can meet through you.”

May God richly bless you and yours as you seek to serve Him!

 

Why Family Go & Serve?

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Last year our Kidway ministry kicked off a new program called “Family Go & Serve.” The purpose of this program is to provide opportunities for kids to begin serving within the church as well as to begin instilling within them the importance of going into the world with the Gospel. Each month throughout the school year, families are invited to come together to participate in a project that either serves our local church body, our community or even other communities around the world. If you have ever wondered if you should join us for a Go & Serve event but just haven’t tried it out yet, here are three great reasons to check it out…

  1. Kids and parents participate together. For several decades now, many families have looked to the church to evangelize and disciple their kids. Yet if we locked ourselves in a room with only the Bible and asked “God, how do you want young people to be evangelized and discipled?," we would find that God intended parents to be the primary spiritual trainers of their kids, not church programming. Much can be said on this subject (in fact there are whole books written about this!), but as a ministry, we have a conviction that our role is to help equip parents as they disciple their children. Kids who see their parents serving and going, or better yet, serve and go WITH their parents, are much more likely to grow up continuing to serve and go as teens and adults. Go & Serve events give parents an open door to begin important spiritual conversations with their kids as well as model for them two important values of serving and going.
  2. Meet & connect with other families. One struggle in a church Gateway’s size is helping people feel connected to one another. We often hear that people feel connected to those in their Life Group, but do not feel that they know anyone outside that group. Go & Serve nights are great opportunities to make connections with other people outside those you already know, as well as opportunities for kids to have fun and connect with their peers.
  3. Multiple generations serving together. A common misconception about Go & Serve nights is that they are only for families with children. Even though Kidway sponsors Family Go & Serve, anyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. In addition to teaching us that parents are to be the spiritual disciplers of their children, the Bible also tells us that older men and older women are to be examples and mentors to the younger generations of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Something beautiful happens when multiple generations come together to serve and go, and we love having people of all ages participate in our projects.

Our next Go & Serve opportunity will be on Tuesday, October 24, at Findlay’s Halloween Parade. We will be walking with Gateway’s float and handing out invitation cards for our N. Main campus’ Trunk-or-Treat. Kidway staff will be awarding prizes for the most creative (non-scary) costumes in four different age categories (birth - adult) as well as a prize for the best family/group costumes. This event is open to anyone from either campus (children 5th grade and younger must be accompanied by an adult), and all of the important details can be found online. (Check out the calendar on the Events page and click on “Family Go & Serve.)  We hope to see you there or at one of our other upcoming Go & Serve nights!

 

The Church's Click Track

“I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:20-21

Let me put this out there to give you a peek behind the curtain: We use Click Tracks in our music on Sunday mornings.

For those of you that don’t know, a click track is basically a metronome that plays in our musicians’ ears to keep us in time. When we first started doing this a couple of years ago, one of the drummers described it as a form of water torture on the eardrum. We cracked up about that because it can seem that way.

Why do we do it then? If I could explain it in one word, it’s “order.” When there are 7 to 10 people who all have their own internal “click track”, the rhythm of any particular song has the potential to become chaotic (especially when you have different drummers every week). It is quite beneficial for a band to have a consistent beat when we have so many different people every week. It might be different if we had the same musicians every week, and we found each other's rhythm.

As a church body, we can have hundreds or even thousands of different people that come through our doors on a Sunday. The question then becomes: What is our rhythm? Not musically, necessarily, but what is the “click track” that we can all go back to when a church body may seem chaotic? The music is too loud. The music is not loud enough. We need more hymns. We play too many hymns. The pastor didn’t use enough Scripture. The pastor used too much Scripture. The body of Christ may seem chaotic because it is made up of many members that may not have found their common rhythm or “Click Track.”

In John 17:21, Jesus prays for all believers that they would be unified as He and the Father are unified. We all come from different backgrounds, theologies and denominations and we are all just...different. We as believers must see the one thing that must hold us together. Grace.

The grace of Christ must be our Click Track.

The grace of Christ shows us that we are all sinners and and nothing we do or say will save us. Only the blood of Christ.  We must get into the rhythm of showing this grace with each other as it has been shown to us. We are all sinners on this Earth. We are like a toddler trying to figure out what in the world is going on around him when his legs first start working. We are constantly learning what is right and wrong and our heavenly Father is continually pouring out rivers of grace. Not one more than another, but all equally.

Friends, if your church feels chaotic, be reminded that this is a church that was bought with the blood of Christ, and this is a church where everyone is a sinner in need of grace. If that rhythm of grace takes over our church, we can move closer to Christ’s unified vision of our church.

Find the message of grace in this week’s setlist:
Praise To The Lord- Hymn
God Is Able- Hillsong
I Surrender- All Sons and Daughters
Christ Be All Around Me- All Sons and Daughters
All I Have Is Christ- Sovereign Grace

 

Serving for the Joy of It

Have you ever been asked to serve to the point in which you felt pressured or pushed into it? I have. It doesn’t feel right, does it? In fact, I’ll admit it...I’ve been on the other end, too. At times, I can remember myself being so desperate to find someone to serve that I’ve actually almost begged people to help.

This isn’t God’s vision for serving.

The first thing we need to realize about a theology of serving is that God doesn’t need us to serve Him. Think about it. God’s sovereign and can do whatever, whenever. We shouldn’t think for a second that He needs us to do anything for Him. He’s completely, one-hundred percent self-sufficient.

But, God chose to let us serve.

Why? Well, we get to serve because it’s part of our worship.

Psalm 100:1-2 says:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!

This Psalm portrays a song of worship to the Lord. Note that verse two says, “Serve the Lord with gladness!” This proclamation to serve is included here because serving is part of our worship to God.

If this is true, we shouldn’t serve out of obligation or guilt. We should serve because we enjoy serving. Look at the text. It says, “Serve the Lord with gladness!” We’re called by God to serve with gladness, with joy.

At Gateway, we don’t want you to serve out of guilt or obligation. We want you to experience the gift God has given us as a church: the joy of serving.

If you call Gateway your home church and you’re not already serving the body of Christ here, you’re missing out.

You’re missing out on the joy of being the body of Christ, in which we all get to use and share our gifts with one another. You’re missing out on the joy of blessing others through serving and meeting needs.

God pours out His endless grace on you—which overflows like a continuous faucet, pouring into a small cup. And if you don’t serve, you’re missing out on the opportunity to release and express the overwhelming joy in your heart to others.

If you’d like to begin to experience the joy of serving others in the body of Christ at Gateway, you can sign up on the Serve page of Gateway’s website .

 

Are You Growing Spiritually?

by Connie Lyon

The other Sunday morning I was talking with my son in the foyer. Until Pastor Ben walked by and made notice of how much taller he was, I did not realize that my neck was tilted back and eyes focused to the sky. Didn’t I used to squat down to his eye level just yesterday?! Time does seem to fly when it comes to our children, especially when we look back to how much they have grown. This made me think about our spiritual growth. There was a time when we made that decision to trust Christ, and in that moment of infancy in our faith we were ready to take off on our journey. The following devotion by Dr. David Jeremiah is a reminder that accepting Christ is just the beginning!  


From Infancy to Adulthood

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

When a baby is born, there are tears, laughter, hugs, pictures, relief, joy—it is one of life’s most meaningful events. But birth is not the ultimate goal. Rather, birth is the beginning of a life of promise, hope, and redemption through submission to the plan of God for human life on earth. Birth is the perfect metaphor for beginning the Christian life. No wonder Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). There is often drama and excitement around spiritual birth just as with physical birth. But it is a mistake to believe that conversion to Christ by faith is the end of the Christian experience. Rather, it is just the beginning! Just as a baby grows slowly into mature adulthood, so born-again Christians are to begin the process of growth toward conformity to Christ (Romans 8:29). The New Testament uses the metaphor of growth from infancy to maturity to describe the Christian life (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 14:20; 1 Peter 2:2).

Are you growing spiritually? Don’t confuse the beginning of the Christian life with the goal. Take steps today and every day to allow the Spirit of God to move you steadily toward maturity in Christ.

Measure your growth in grace by your sensitiveness to sin. - Oswald Chambers  

Jeremiah, Dr. David. From Infancy to Adulthood - Today’s Turning Point. October 3, 2017

Julia Grubinski's Gap Year

One of our own, Julia Grubinski, had the opportunity to serve in the Dominican Republic for a year.  Read about her trip and how God worked in her life and the lives of those around her in her article below.

This past year I, Julia Grubinski, have been in the  Dominican Republic. For the first nine months I was in a program called GAP, or Global Adventure Pursuit. The program includes Spanish and Bible classes four days out of the week; Spanish four hours during the morning and Bible two to three hours in the afternoon. Each week we would have a different bible teacher, with a different topic or book of the bible. Every Monday we would serve in a ministry, getting fully involved with the ministry while building relationships with the people who were already serving there. Once a month the other students and I would spend a weekend in a host home. There, we were submersed in the culture, trying their food, speaking Spanish, and hearing the stories of different Dominican families.  

For me, this year was the best year of my life. As I look back I see who I was and now who I am. This year I was stretched, thrown into uncomfortable situations, and filled spiritually beyond belief. Spending nine months in a foreign country with 18 people I barely knew put me out of my comfort zone. Turns out those 18 people who I barely knew are now part of my family and are my closest friends. Every single one of them pushed and held me accountable and I owe them a lot for this past year. We were all able to grow together and even as we go our separate ways we will always remain family.

It is very easy to say, since I have been to the DR multiple times, that I am comfortable there because I know the country. Yes, I lived there for two years when I  was five or six, but that doesn’t mean I know it. Through the GAP program I was thrown into the culture and I learned more than I could ever imagine. I call it home and now I have more of a reason to. Knowing the culture and the language, I was able to build and grow many relationships, ones that I know will last a lifetime. Looking back at this year I was put into many uncomfortable situations, ones that I  wouldn’t normally put myself in. But they were good situations, whether it was translating in front of multiple people, sharing the gospel one on one, or just sharing my testimony with a bunch of strangers, God grew me from all of the experiences. 

One of my favorite parts about this past year were the bible classes. Since I attended a public high school I never had the opportunity to take bible classes; therefore, it being my first time, I absolutely loved it. I was able to learn multiple  different topics, more in depth than I ever have before. I was also able to hear different viewpoints on different topics and see for myself what I believe in, by searching the bible and learning it for myself. I was also able to learn that there are many different view points on many different topics, but Paul talks about how we should not focus on the little things. The gospel is the most important and we can all have our different convictions on drinking, predestination, tattoos etc., but we can not have different view points on the gospel, that does not change. That is one thing I had to learn for myself and see where I stood on other topics.

There was a lot of work, but you work hard so you can play hard, right? During the year we also did different excursions and two mission trips throughout the country. Some of the excursions included a weekend trip to the mountains, white water rafting, zip-lining, and even swimming with dolphins. There were such great and exciting trips! But honestly the two mission trips were my favorite. The first one we went to was in Santiago. We prepared a VBS and helped out a church that was there. Later in the week we went further up the mountain, it had been raining and the road was very slippery and muddy. That made it interesting especially when you are driving a giant bus with 20 people in it. We ended up getting out of the bus and hiking about 10 minutes to another church; in our dresses from church that morning. We stayed the night in a cabin and the inside was wet because of the rain and it got really cold at night! We had no blankets and the beds were damp. The overall experience was awful, but it created such great memories! The second mission trip was in Jarabacoa with an organization called Students International. We all served in a different ministries throughout the week and served the missionaries that were there. I really enjoyed working with them and I would love to go back again sometime! 

When my GAP year ended I returned to the US for the month of May. I was able to reconnect with my support team and my family. Then on June 12th I went back to the DR for a two month internship. I was able to continue the ministry I was serving in during my GAP year and continue building those relationships especially in the church. I was also able to help translate in the groups that came down. Part of my ministry was helping the director of SCORE in the DR. That entailed leading  orientation, picking up groups from the airport, and then preparing them to go out and do ministry and do it well. I was able to learn more about the organization and the people that came down.

I said earlier that this was the best year of my life and that is the truth, but it was also the hardest. In a good way. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.. Literally. Classes were very stressful, being away from my family was hard, and being surrounded by strangers was uncomfortable. God’s plan is sovereign and doing the GAP program was part of His plan for me. I needed that time away to grow and learn things for myself. I needed to see my identity through the eyes of Jesus Christ. No one could ever teach me that, only my Lord and Savior can open my eyes to the truth. I am still learning new things everyday. I do not know everything, even if I have been deeply studying the bible this past year. I am not perfect and I am still going to make mistakes, but I am living my life for Christ and that will not change. I praise God everyday for this year and I also want to thank you, Gateway Church, for supporting me. Without your help I would have never been able to go. Thank you again and God bless!

10/1/2017 Q&A We are Followers of Jesus Christ

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Who is the author of Not a Fan?

Kyle Idleman

 

What does Jesus mean when he says 'salt' can lose its saltiness? As I understand this, it would appear to contradict other verses that offer assurances of salvation for followers of Christ. (John 10:27-28 for instance.) I don't believe God's Word will ever contradict itself, so I must be misunderstanding something. Can you help me understand this? Thank you!

The important question you are asking is when is a person truly saved or, in other words, what evidence points to salvation.  Philip Ryken says it well -

“If we are not disciples of Jesus Christ, then we are of no spiritual use.  This is the point of the miniparable that Jesus gave to close this discourse:  “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile.  It is thrown away.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:34-35; cf. Matt. 5:13).  Jesus used this expression when he wanted people to pay attention to something important.  What is important here is that unless we follow Jesus in the true way of Christian discipleship, we are worthless to the kingdom of God – as worthless as salt that isn’t even salty.

Salt has many useful purposes.  Unless it is salty, however, it is not good for anything at all.  This is a surprising image because the very essence of salt is to be salty.  How can salt possibly lose its taste, and still be salt?  This could never happen to pure sodium chloride, of course, but it could happen to the kind of salt that Jesus used.  When people “passed the salt” in those days, it was an impure chemical compound produced by the evaporation of saltwater from the Dead Sea – sodium chloride mixed with other crystals. Thus it was possible for the salt to leach out of the compound, and when this happened, what was left was completely useless.  There was nothing that anyone could do with it; it was not even good enough to use for fertilizer.

What Jesus said about salt that isn’t salty can also be said of a disciple who is not really a disciple.  In the same way that salt has to be salty in order to be salt, so also a disciple has to be a disciple in order to be a disciple!  This means being a disciple in the biblical sense:  A hating-your-family, carrying your-cross, renouncing-everything-for-Jesus disciple.  A disciple who does not love Jesus more than anything else he loves is not his disciple.  A disciple who does not carry his cross in daily death to self is not his disciple. A disciple who does not give everything over to Jesus is not his disciple.  However extreme this may sound, it is Jesus himself who says that unless we do these things, we cannot be his disciples.” (Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary)

Ryken is not saying you have to be a perfect disciple, but he would say, and the Bible concurs, that someone who has responded to God’s love and invitation is going to have some degree of salt, some evidences of taking up a cross and following Him.  Listen with spiritual ears!

Answers To Questions In The Wake Of Tragedy

Hey everyone. Pastor Josh here and I wanted to take just a few minutes to say a couple of words about the recent tragedy in Las Vegas. I’ve seen two questions repeated on social media and in the news. The two questions are “why” and “what’s next?”

Let’s start with “why” — why did this happen? When I hear people ask this question I think they mean something more than “what caused this man to do this?” That may be part of what they’re asking, but I think all of us want a deeper answer to the reason behind these tragedies.

Over the past few days we’ve seen many answers to this why question. Lots of blaming has gone on. Republicans blame Democrats. Democrats blame Republicans. Hollywood blames the NRA. Others blame Hollywood and the violence they depict in movies. The blaming just goes on and on. Everyone wants to know why and they want the reason to be someone else’s fault.

But as followers of Jesus we should ask what does the Bible say is the reason why? And the Bible’s answer is that this world is broken — it’s not the way God created it to be — and the reason for this brokenness is sin. Your sin. My sin. Our sin. We’re to blame.

As a pastor, what makes these events all the more tragic is that I see people scraping for answers to this why question while ignoring the all to seemingly obvious conclusion:  Something’s wrong with us. All of us. None of us get a pass.

In the history of humanity, we’ve never solved this problem. Things only seem to get worse. And not even our American ingenuity has seemed to fix us. And this answer — to the why question — isn’t popular. No one wants to believe it. No one wants to hear it. We don’t want to be the reason. We want someone else to blame.

But why do these tragic events happen? Because of us.

So if that’s the answer to why these things happen, what do we do? What’s next?

I think when people ask “what’s next” they mean “what’s the next tragedy coming our way?” And that’s the heart of the problem, right? We want to know why these things happen and then we want to know when the next one’s coming because we know that — no matter why — we’re not going to fix this. This problem’s too big for us to figure out.

So what’s next? What’s next for those of us who believe.

1. First, we weep with those who weep. This is a tragedy and we don’t downplay it. It’s horrific and it should grieve us. The sudden loss of life, the confusion, the anxiety, feelings of being unsafe, and all of the unanswered questions can leave us in a state of deep grief. And that’s where we begin. We weep with those who weep.

2. Second, we love. Hug your spouse. Tell your kids you love them. Call mom and dad and tell them you miss them. Allow this tragedy to wake you up to just how uncertain life is so you take a hard look at what’s been most important to you lately and what should be most important to you.

3. Third, we pray. As followers of Jesus we’re commanded to pray. Now prayer gets a bad rap in the midst of tragedies — we Americans like to do things and prayer seems like a waste of time to many — but if you believe in Jesus, then prayer is your strongest weapon in times like these. To mock prayer or to believe that prayer is a waste of time in moments like these is to live more like those who don’t believe in Jesus than those who do.

4. Fourth, we act. Right now, being so far from Las Vegas, we’re still learning how we can physically help. As of yesterday, the biggest need was still blood donations — which is a very specific local need. If you’re looking for a way to help the victims, one thing you can do is make a financial donation to the GoFundMe page that’s been set up by the Chair of the Clark County Commission. Just search for “Las Vegas Victims’ Fund” at GoFundMe.com and you should be able to find it.

5. Fifth, we believe. As a pastor, I’ve heard people say — even Christians say — I’m not really into theology. Let me tell you something. Everyone’s a theologian and right now — especially in the midst of tragedy — what you believe is rising to the surface. It’s why you’re doing what you do right now.

Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe that He’s in control of all things? Do you believe that sin is real? Do you believe that people are naturally good and they’re are a few really bad people out there or do you believe that no one is good — which is what the Bible says.

All of us are theologians. And we must read, study, memorize, meditate on, apply, and hear the Bible preached so that what we believe will give us a hope no matter what life brings our way. Jesus said that there would be people who believe, but then the worries and tragedies of life would take away what they believe. They’re theology wasn’t solid enough to stand on when life got hard. What about you? How firm is the foundation of faith you claim to have?

And finally, in November, we’re going to do an entire series where we’ll be looking at some tough questions like these. Like what do you do when life’s out of your control? When you get that unexpected doctor’s report, phone call with tragic news, find out you’re losing your job, or that your spouse is leaving you? Is there hope for when life’s out of control?

Another question we’ll look at is what do you do when it seems like God has distanced Himself? When it feels like God has abandoned you? When it feels like — just when you need Him most — God has disappeared.

We’ll also look at how we should live knowing that life is short. Unexpected things can happen in an instance that rob of us of the future we thought we had. We all have a limited number of days left to live — so how then should we live?

Tragic events like these that our nation has experienced recently make these questions more relevant than ever. We have an opportunity to give a Christian perspective to what’s wrong with the world. So mark your calendars for November 4th and 5th when we’ll have a frank discussion about the brokenness we’re experiencing as a nation and world.

The good news of our Christian faith is that though we weep with those who weep, we don’t weep as those who have no hope. For we do have hope because of what Christ accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection. Light shines brightest in the midst of darkness. May we followers of Jesus allow Christ’s light of hope to shine all the more brightly through us in these dark days.

Thanks for watching. And know that God loves you. And I love you too.

Trusting Jesus

turst in God.jpg

Whether it’s natural disasters, civil unrest, stress at work or the gauntlet of parenting, there are so many things that feel out of control. I just feel so helpless at times, and my heart wants to grab hold of the reins and control something...anything. Why is that? Well, at its very core, it’s the moment I stop believing God is who He says He is and it shows up in my (Mike's) life as anxiety and behavior that wants so desperately to have control.

I read this prayer today from Scotty Smith, a pastor I used to sit under when I lived in Nashville, and it spoke right to this very issue. I pray that you read his blog post from this morning and make it your prayer today. 

“Nevertheless, our fears flare up, our worries persist, and our burdens bother us. So, we run to you today, confident of your welcome and resting in your love. Please help us with the things (and people) we’d love to control, but can’t. It’s not so much that we’re anxious to add a single hour to our lives; it’s more that we don’t want unnecessary suffering--for ourselves or anyone else.”

Want to read more?  Check out the entire post: "Trusting Jesus With Things We Can't Control" by Scotty Smith
 

Sing these songs this week in preparation for Sunday:
Doxology-Hymn
Nothing But The Blood- Hymn
His Mercy is More- Matt Papa
All I Have Is Christ- Sovereign Grace
O Praise The Name- Hillsong

 

 

God's Not Done Yet

The grand opening at Gateway’s North Main campus this weekend was celebrated with inspiring worship, warm cookies, Gospel-centered preaching, freshly brewed coffee, kids laughing, welcoming smiles, caring prayers, and friendly conversations. This weekend proved to be another great moment in the Gateway story.

Like in the days of worshiping at the dog pound, the opening of the CR9 campus in 2006, and the subsequent CR9 building expansion opening in 2015, Gateway’s North Main campus launch displayed the glory of God. In each of these moments of Gateway’s history, we paid tribute to God for the tangible nature of what He did, but we also celebrate eternal joys and promises we have in Christ

The following is the Scripture that Gateway’s North Main congregation proclaimed together during our grand opening services this weekend:

The Lord is my strength and my song,
and He has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise Him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
(Exodus 15:2)

Although to many this verse may seem to be just another stanza in the Bible, it actually carries deep significance.

These words were part of a song the Israelites sang after the Lord had provided safe passage across the Red Sea, escaping capture or even death from the Egyptians. They sung these words of celebration for what the Lord had already done in the lives of His people. It would have been natural for the Israelites to simply stop what they were doing, make camp, and settle in the place they were. But they didn’t. They kept going. They realized that God was not done with them yet. Crossing the Red Sea to elude the Egyptians was not the end. God had plans to make them into a great nation. And He did.

Not only this, but these words found in Exodus declare our song of both what God has done and what God continues to do through Gateway Church.

Exodus 15 points us to Jesus because Jesus is our strength and song. Jesus has become our salvation. Jesus is our God, and we will praise Him. Jesus is the one to be exalted!

Jesus is the reason we have life. Jesus is the cause for which we gather to worship, connect, serve, and go. Jesus is our purpose in life. Jesus is our all in all. Jesus is our everything.

So, we celebrate what God has done. We remember the hard work, money, energy, and time that has gone into Gateway’s North Main campus and its ministries. But more importantly, we remember that God’s not done with us yet.

God has plans to invest in college students, serve in local schools, and reach out to those living in the surrounding neighborhoods. God has plans to grow and shape us into the body of Christ He intends us to be. God has plans for us to go with the Gospel and invite others into a worship relationship with Jesus... And God has plans to continue connecting people to Jesus Christ and to one another.

As it would be easy for us to stop, make camp, and settle where we are, will you join me by taking this next step of faith and trust that God’s not done with us yet?

 

Serving Changes Lives

In the last Serve Post, you read about what a mission agency in the bustling metropolis of Dallas, Texas, was up to. What a wonderful ministry and impact to a rough, inner-city area! Today, I want to share with you a story that took place right here in Findlay, Ohio, one Sunday morning about two years ago.

A young lady came to church that morning; it was her first visit to Gateway. As she was walking towards the main entryway, a person serving in our parking ministry noticed that she was quite distraught and simply asked if she was ok or needed to talk. The young lady proceeded to explain to him that her son was in jail due to drugs, was in a bad way and she didn’t really know what to do or where to turn. She also mentioned that she felt the Lord leading her into the parking lot, as attending church wasn’t her intention.

He listened intently, offered to pray with her-which he did-and she proceeded into church.

A couple days later, I was asked to visit her son in the county jail. What was a one-time visit turned into a weekly appointment over the next several months. I was blessed to follow his journey from the county jail to a regional community-based correctional facility and then through to his ultimate release. I got to know the young man and his family well through our times together; working through the Bible and answering questions along the way.

Unfortunately, a few months following his release, his perception of the post-release requirements and pressures he put upon himself proved to be too much for him. He overdosed and ultimately, it cost him his life.

Since I was connected and invested with him and his family, I was asked to do the funeral. As I write this today (and I’ve done other funerals), I have to tell you that this was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in ministry. You see, he and his family weren’t only congregants, but became friends.

The ‘young lady’ I mentioned earlier, his mother, was deeply impacted by what God had done and was doing in the midst of all this. She was and is grateful, and shares openly to me and others, “I love my Gateway Church."  God has been and continues to be at work in her and her family. And it all started with a God-ordained encounter with a willing servant in the parking ministry area.

My point in sharing all this? You never know how God may use YOU to reach others for Christ, as you serve Him...you just never know. It’s humbling but also very powerful - serving God through serving at church - have you considered getting involved? I hope and pray that this true story of what God is doing and has done may help you decide.

 

What Happened to High School

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  

But if you do not prefer the musings of 18th century French intellectual Jean Baptiste, the first chapter of Ecclesiastes said it best (and first). “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (Ecc 1:9 NLT)  

Youth Ministry in America has been, like it’s mercurial teens, a ministry of constant change. Yet its heart and purpose is consistent: to point the next generation to the cross, to disciple life long followers of Jesus and to equip them to engage in the world as evangelists and salt and light.  Over the past 20-30 years, we have seen a dramatic cultural shift that has led to the fastest growing religious group to be the group ironically dubbed “the nones”.  And the people most affected by this trend are the young.  

While there are countless blogs, journals and books dedicated to explaining why this has occurred, there are a few consistent themes that can be drawn out from the research: 1) young people are hearing moralism instead of the Gospel, and 2) youth ministry, primarily with older teens, has been too disconnected from the multi-generational Church. They are then thrust into adulthood ill-equipped to find their place with “adults.”  

Gateway has been blessed with a fantastic youth ministry for its entire life.  The testimony to that is in the lives of the countless young adults who grew up in our church and who are today serving in ministries all over the world - many right here at Gateway! (I count myself as one!!)  As we look to where God is leading us as a multiplying church, focused on missions and proclaiming the Gospel in Findlay and beyond, we want to be responsible to continue to maintain our effectiveness.  

This is not done by changing everything, but adapting to where we are today and where we will be tomorrow and adapting to where teens are today and where they are headed! Our teens are under spiritual assault in ways that many of us can barely comprehend. Just the other day, I was speaking with someone about the fact that teenagers are walking around with a device in their pocket that can give them access to anything their minds can think of at any moment!  Culture was pleasantly “Christian” a few decades ago and so we could assume they were “safe”, but today our kids are bombarded by a constant array of anti-Christian programming and information.  Nearly half of their friends are growing up in broken homes and the majority of their peers have never even stepped into a church outside of Christmas Eve.  The pressure to conform to the world is immense.  

The answer to our heart concerns for the next generation is not being busier or having more church events.  Instead it is the same answer that Jesus’ disciples had for a lost world in the First Century.  That Jesus, the Word made flesh, came to die for our sins and to set the captives free, then three days later rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father and rules and reigns today.  And all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved!  In a word, the Gospel.   

As a church, we seek to connect people to Jesus Christ and one another through four values (or convictions): Worship, Connect, Serve and Go.  It is in these values that the Gospel can be clearly taught and shown through the examples of others.  If you have spent any time at our church, you know that we are convicted that God is leading us to prioritize these values for all that attend Gateway.  This is a conviction for ALL people.  Whether you are 1 or 101, we invest our resources and gifts to that end.  

In our evaluation of the status of our teens, our youth ministry and culture as a whole, we have recognized a need to reinvest through our four values to be effective to serve our teens and their families as we seek to bring the Gospel to bear in each student’s life.
 

Worship

In years past, all teens, 6th -12th, went to the Attic for their own service.  What was obvious to the parents and our ministry team is that the personal and spiritual needs of an 11 year old are radically different than that of an 18 year old.  And taking into account what was previously mentioned about needing to help students connect to the larger church, we adapted what we were doing to:

Middle School: At all services our middle schoolers start the morning in worship with the whole church.  This is to help them experience corporate worship with God’s people.  Our desire is that during these years they are beginning to learn HOW to be a part of worship by not only participating but by observing how faithful adults worship God in the singing of hymns and spiritual songs.  Following the time of worship in song, they head off to a curriculum-based class led by a number of amazing adults.  Currently, we are using the Gospel Project curriculum for middle school.  You may recognize this from our elementary programming.  As we seek to always be in partnership with parents and families, we hope that families will be able to have Gospel-centered conversations with all their kids about a singular topic - no matter what age they are!  

High School:  Cognitively and developmentally, we have high expectations of what teenagers are capable of.  Have you seen the standardized tests we give kids in school lately!?!  If the world can have a high standard for what a teen can learn, how much more should the church!  Therefore, during all of our service times, we expect our high school students to fully participate in the main service.  We do recognize that for some younger students this may be an abrupt shift.  To help address this, we have reserved a location in our CR9 campus (front left) specifically for high schoolers.  While we know that sometimes teens can distract one another, we want to challenge them to grow and connect with the church in a way that allows them to “dip their toes in” with the ultimate goal that they mature through the experience.

Additional High School Sunday Morning: Currently, we are offering a class on Sunday mornings at 8am in the Attic at our CR9 campus.  This is not a curriculum-based class, but instead a “Learn how to study the Bible” course.  The students are trained by taking small portions of Scripture each week and learning how to really dig in deeply.  Our goal with this is twofold: 1) give high school students their own space together, and 2) build them up in God’s Word and their personal study of God’s Word as a tool to be confident in their faith as they go into the world.
 

Connect

Just like adults, a key component of growing in faith is through the encouragement and accountability of relationships.  And just like the adults in Life Groups, we have Life Groups for all youth on Sunday nights.  This has not changed from what we have been doing effectively for many years.  The only difference is the location.  On the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, all teens meet at our North Main campus and the 2nd and 4th Sunday, we meet at our CR9 campus.  

Each Life Group is age and gender-based, and each group is led by a team of adults that started with them as 6th graders and sticks with them through graduation.  The leaders your students had last year are the leaders they have this year!  We start each evening with a large group experience, games, worship and brief teen contextual teaching and then head to Life Groups for the rest of our time together.  

If you are looking for the best place for a teen to connect with other teens and to have an environment to invite a friend to, this is it!  The first Sunday of the month, we start with a dinner for the students and have plenty of time for relationship building and fellowship every week.  
 

Serve

Studies show that a vital component of someone attaching to any community is having a sense of purpose and value there.  We have always encouraged students to serve in different capacities within the church, and we continue to do so.  The big internal difference is that we are working on becoming more deliberate in equipping and encouraging students to use their gifts for the body.  Scripture teaches us that everyone who is a follower of Christ has a gift meant for the edification of the body and that we are poorer as a community when we don’t use those gifts.  In the weeks to come, students will be given more opportunities and clear steps to participate where appropriate.  Many already serve in a  variety of capacities within Gateway and our prayer is that in the years to come it will be as common to see a teen helping greet you as you come to church or teaching a Sunday school class for younger students, as it is to see an adult!
 

Go

All Christians are called to make disciples of all nations and students aren’t exempt from the Great Commission.  Next summer, our high school students have the opportunity to serve in a mission trip to either the Dominican Republic or Haiti with our good friends at Mission Possible.  This is a ministry that our students have gone with for years.  We are also beginning to look into some “closer” middle school opportunities for the summer as well.

We will also be implementing a “fifth” Sunday GO opportunity where students will get to live out the Gospel locally.  More details will be coming soon related to our October GO’ing event. 

While change is inevitable, you can rest assured that Gateway’s mission for students and adults will never change.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples will never go away!  If you want to stay in the loop with our youth ministry, sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.  And please call me or email me (419-957-0227, Adamb@gatewayepc.org ) if you have questions. Also, I never turn down lunch!  

Thank you for entrusting myself and the Next Generation team with your kids.  It is a privilege to share the Gospel with them every week.

Adam Borsay
Director of Youth Ministries

 

The Importance of Singing

Last week, I had the pleasure of going to Nashville with our Gateway worship leaders to attend a conference hosted by Keith and Kristyn Getty. The conference was called “Sing,” and it largely focused on the importance of congregational singing. One of the keynote sessions was presented by David Platt who is the President of IMB (International Missions Board). David is an extremely well educated man of God who pastored The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL, for 8 years before becoming the President of IMB.  He is also the founder of Radical, a resource ministry, dedicated to serving the church in making disciples of all nations.  

The following are my notes and thoughts from David’s presentation to us about the importance of congregational singing and the mission of the church.

We started out by looking at Nehemiah 12:27-43 (ESV) which describes a massive worship service held by the people of God as they celebrated and dedicated the wall of Jerusalem. Here we see the people of God (congregation) celebrating publicly the glory and work of God as a witness to the nations (the mission of the church). In Nehemiah 12:31 we read,

31 “Then I brought the leaders of Judah up onto the wall and appointed two great choirs that gave thanks.”

This passage also describes congregational singing that was so incredibly powerful that “the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (vs 43). By worshipping, they were witnessing to the nations around them! The take home here is that when we worship God corporately and publicly, we are not only singing praises to Him, we are giving witness to the world around us of who our God is.

We also see that we are participants as the people of God. The only spectators are the nations on the outside looking in. There will always be “nations” and “spectators” in our midst, so it’s incredibly important to be active participants when celebrating the glory of God.

Worship also engages us in a spiritual battle. In 2 Chronicles 20:21-22 we read,

21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,  “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”  22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon…

Worship leaders went out ahead of the army to prepare the battlefield for war. What an incredible visual for our worship services. “22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon...”  The Lord set an ambush against their enemy when they began singing! Have you ever thought about that before? God uses our corporate worship as a weapon against our enemy and to prepare the way for the preaching of the Word. Today we no longer dedicate walls and temples to God because Jesus is the “Temple.” So what do we dedicate to God when we come to worship? We dedicate ourselves to the mission of the church through congregational singing and the preaching of the Word. Our worship gives witness to the “nations” around us and prepares the battlefield for war. It engages us in the battle as we dedicate ourselves week in and week out for the mission of the church.

My prayer for Gateway is that this understanding of the link between congregational singing and the mission of the church will transform the hearts of spectators into active participants.