Category Archives: Kirkmont Cares

Kirkmont Cares 5 ‘Human-Trafficking’

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Slavery - Human Trafficking

Audio (40:22 including 2 videos)

Pastor Dan  – Transcription
Well here at Kirkmont we are in Week 5 of a 5-week series called “Kirkmont Cares”. What we’ve been doing is taking the time to celebrate some of the things that our church is doing to care for people who are in need. But we’re also taking the time to invite God to challenge us about some of the things and ways that God would have us care that we aren’t already caring for those people who are in need.

Essentially what we’re doing is we’re taking the time in this Kirkmont Cares series to ask ourselves, “Does our church care about the things that God cares about as expressed in the truth of His Bible?”

And today we’ve come to the topic of HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

We’ve dealt with several other topics… we’ve dealt with Local and Global Poverty; a couple weeks ago we looked at the Global Orphan Crisis, and we realized that there are 150 million orphans in the world.

Last week we looked at the Clean Water Crisis globally and we came to the realization that there’s almost a BILLION people on this planet who do not have  access to safe drinking water; and today we come to the subject of Human Trafficking.

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Ya know, when we think of the word slavery we tend to think of the past, don’t we. We hear the word slavery and our mind immediately goes to the past. Friends, people are calling Human Trafficking the modern day slavery.

And it’s to remind us that slavery is not a thing of the past. Not only is it not a thing of the past, but it is a growing thing of the present.

Statistically, globally now speaking, there are 25 million people who are believed to be in Human Trafficking situations… twenty-five million people.

Now when we talk about human trafficking we talk about human trafficking from two different standpoints. We think of it first from the idea that some people being forced into labor; forced to do labor in certain circumstances. And there’s also human trafficking from the sexual exploitation standpoint as well… those are sort of the two sub categories of human trafficking.

Forced Labor and Sexual Exploitation

two types

It is believed that around 80% of the 25 million people who are trafficked are being trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. And 20% for forced labor. In fact 3000 new people are added if you will… forced, tricked, coerced into the human trafficking world every day… 3000 a day.

And you want to know what the cost is globally for a person… now let’s be clear: there’s money to be had all over the human trafficking world; there’s multiple levels and layers to the human trafficking world:
1. There are of course the sick and perverted people who are actually ENGAGING in these people in a sexual way;
2. There are people who OWN them, who pimp them out if you will; and then
3. There are people who RECRUIT them, and try to trick them and get them to the pimps if you will.

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There’s money to be had at multiple layers, and the cost, the average cost globally to buy a person and bring them into the human trafficking world is $90.

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It is now the third largest international crime behind drugs and illegal firearms, producing $32 BILLION dollars a year.  25 million people being trafficked producing $32 billion a year, and it is fast and rapid growing.

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Ya know when we think of human trafficking we often tend to think of somewhere else, don’t we.

If you’ve heard the expression, if you’ve thought about it at all, and been exposed to it at all, we tend to think of human trafficking as being something that is a Third World problem–it’s happening over seas among poor people only.

Even though we forget that it’s often been white, American business men traveling who have provided money into the human trafficking world over seas.

But nonetheless, beyond even just that reality, it is a growing_local_problem as well.

Every year now they believe that 15,000 people are being trafficked in-to the United States.  I want to be clear. Why are 15,000 people being trafficked into the the United States? … because the demand for people to exploit people sexually is HIGHER… there are more clients if you will than the rate in which they can trick US children into the sexual slave market. So they are now bringing in 15,000 people to our country for human trafficking.

But there are also of course, our US citizens that are being tricked and coerced into trafficking as well.

And maybe when you hear that image you think of a grown woman standing on a street corner. But that is not what the numbers tell us. They tell us that the average age of a person from the United States brought into the Human Trafficking world in the United States is 12-14 years old.

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It is believed that there are about 300,000 American children who are at severe risk when it comes to the subject of human trafficking.

And more pointed… maybe even more local than any of those other numbers is that the State of Ohio is believed to be the 4th most at-risk State in the United States–especially within the State of Ohio, Dayton, because of the I-70 / I-75 corridor.

Friends, we need to realize that the threat on our children has grown because of the economic demand for sexual exploitation in this world.

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It used to be that parents would have to fear and protect their kids from the group of people who wanted to harm them personally, and to exploit them personally. That number is now not only growing, but there’s a new demographic of people out there who are threatening our children… the people who might not ever actually personally DO anything to them, but because if they can coerce them and trick them and take them, they OWN them and they can make a LOT of money off of them.

Our children, our grandchildren, our neighbor’s children are being kidnapped, targeted, tricked, lied to, forced, threatened, and manipulated. And that’s just by their so-called “pimps”.

To avoid being unnecessarily explicit, we won’t even begin to discuss how they’re being treated by their clients.

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And when I hear all of that, there’re SO MANY places our mind can go to.. there’re so many violations, there are so many things about the TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD that this all violates, about the Character of God that this all violates.

The one that rises to the surface is the JUST Character of God. This whole things SCREAMS incredible INJUSTICE to me.

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It is the opposite of how God wants people to be treated; it’s INJUST because people are not being treated the way they should be treated; it’s injust because people are not being punished the way that they should be being punished.

Do you know that for years our country was prosecuting the victims of human trafficking as if they were prostitutes themselves. And our laws are just finally catching up… probably realizing the reality of this situation and starting to increase efforts into arrest and conviction, and the sentencing is now starting to grow. But we have a LOT of catching up to do.

The whole thing wreaks of injustice !!!

Church… when we fight for justice, we reflect the character of a “Just God”. The Cross behind us this morning, it ought to remind us that God_is_Just.

God is Just

And when we fight for JUSTICE we reflect the character of God.

I want to show you a video from an organization called “International Justice Mission”. They are the world’s largest organization fighting globally to right this wrong; to free people all across the world from human trafficking situations; plus, they are a Christian organization. Here’s just a few minute clip, an overview of what they do; and then we’ll get into the Scripture together. [00:08:43]  to  [00:12:15] on audio tape.

Well… as I alluded to earlier, there are so many places in the Scripture that we could go to to address this subject of human trafficking.

But I’m reminded this morning of something a professor once told me and that is, “All good theology begins in the Book of Genesis“… especially the first 11 chapters–meaning “if you get the first eleven chapters of Genesis right, you’re probably going get a whole lot about God and humanity right after that. But if you mess up the first eleven chapters, you’re probably going get a lot wrong after that.”

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So I want to take us all the way back to Genesis, Chapter 1 for our first verse. We’re going to look at few verses briefly in our time together. Genesis 1:26-28, the Scripture tells us this,

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness,…”

Let’s pause there; so you see this plural language being used; maybe you never had anyone point this out to you, but this is not more than One God speaking at Creation, but this is God who’s speaking in the Trinitarian formula: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit; three persons eternally existing. And here they’re saying the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together, collaboratively said, “LET US MAKE MAN LIKE US”.

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And they’re going to be so important, so significant, that we’re going to let them…

 “…. rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

“So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”

So many people misunderstand this verse that somehow MEN were created in the image of God more than women, and it can’t be any more clear that we were created in the image of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and neither men nor women reflect the image of God more or less than each other–but equally. We both equally reflect the Image of God. Then the Scripture goes on to say,

“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; 

When we address the subject of Human Trafficking we have to realize that no matter who it is we’re talking about… whether they’re people here, whether they’re overseas, whether they’ve made BAD decisions, or whether they haven’t made bad decisions… either way, they come from Adam and Eve as do you and I and they were made in the image of God.

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“fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Friends, the reason we start in Genesis, is because whenever it comes to social justice; whenever it comes to caring for people, the Church always has to keep in mind, at it’s very foundation perhaps… IT’S VIEW OF HUMANITY: We believe that God created everyone, and in_His_Image. 

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We cannot dismiss people because of where they LIVE, or what they LOOK like, or what DECISIONS they’ve made, or whatever their circumstances are… they are created in the IMAGE OF GOD.

There should be no group of people that care about people in NEED more than The Church, because our convictions tell us that they were “made in the image of God”.

And you know what? … as often as the Church has been lacking in this area, one of the things that we fail to remember in history and through the media… is the Church has often been very successful in this area as well.

Sometimes it takes us a little bit longer than it should have, but we have been successful:

We start thinking about slavery in America and we hear stories about how people would quote Scripture to justify their actions, but we forget that it was the Church of Jesus Christ that was also leading the way, saying that “this is wrong“, that “this is not how God wants people to be treated”.

Look at the subject of abortion in America, and the 4000 children that are killed every day in our country through the subject of abortion–and it’s unpopular to fight up against that.

But God has raised up the Church of Jesus Christ; we’re a little bit slow on the move, but we are now on the move and over the last decade have built THOUSANDS of pregnancy resource centers across our Country because we are responding to the reality that EVERY-ONE is created in the Image of God — that all_life_matters.

And when it comes to this subject, God is now awakening the church, causing it to move. Churches all across the Country supporting organizations like International Justice Mission.

IJM

Let me just be real open and direct with you about this.

I’ve been a little vague as to how I want our church to respond to some of the other topics that we’ve addressed. I want to be very clear. If you’re on the Missions Committee, or you have the “ear” of someone on the Missions Committee, I would LOVE to see Kirkmont supporting International Justice Mission in the years ahead of us.

Genesis Chapter One reminds us that God created humanity in His Image, and God is now awakening the Church to that reality.

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As we move through the Old Testament, we begin to see that God began His relationship with a group of people in the nation of Israel. Does anybody remember the circumstances in which God began that relationship with them?

Let’s turn to Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, starting in verses 12 through 15, we’ll pull that Scripture up on the screen. Now, this is under the section of The Ten Commandments that are listed.

If you are familiar with the Bible you know that the 10 Commandments show up in the Bible, but most of you think of the 10 Commandments showing up in the Book of Exodus… right after God freed His people from slavery; He provides them with the 10 Commandments; but the 10 Commandments show up TWICE in the Bible.

The first time they show up is right after He freed them from slavery… but they were disobedient in their behavior; He causes them to wander in the dessert for 40 years, and an entire generation of people passed away and now a new generation is raised up,  and before they enter The Promised Land, God gives them their 10 Commandments again.

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Which means, that this Commandment… the commandment to “observe the Sabbath day“, they heard TWICE. And the first time they heard it they were told, ‘the reason why you ought to honor the Sabbath is because God rested on the seventh day’.

But now they hear it a second time… and the second time they hear it, it’s a different justification. He comes along and He says, ~‘The reason you ought to honor the Sabbath is because I_freed_you_from_slavery’. Let’s see what the Scripture says in Deuteronomy 5:12-15,

Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”

You see friends, God began a relationship with a group of people living in circumstances not that unlike what we’re talking about together this morning — they were enslaved by the nation of Egypt, forced to do things they didn’t want to do; without any freedom of any kind.

And the Bible says that they cried out to God; God heard their cry; had compassion on them and miraculously delivered them from_those_circumstances.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Why would God begin a relationship with a group of people under those circumstances?  Why not take the most blessed group of people on the planet and say, “I’ll start with them; we’ll make a movement with them; Jesus will come from their lives.”  Why start with a group of people who are enslaved by another country…

… so that they might remember ALL the years… every time that they decide to not love people and care for people the way that God wants them to, He can call upon that moment and remind them of their history, saying … 
“Don’t forget how you and your people were treated at one point in time, and how wrong that was, how opposed to my character that is, and I freed you from that… that’s part of the past… how can you justify your injust treatment of people as being a group of people who’ve been freed”.

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And God, over the years, would have to remind Israel that they were supposed to care for people and treat them justly; because often times they would forget about their ancestor’s injustice.

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In Ezekiel 16 Israel has gone really far from the character of God; and God raises up a prophet named Ezekiel to speak to them. And here’s what he says in Ezekiel 16:49,

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom; …

Now I’m choosing this passage because it’s a story that many in the Church are familiar with–Sodom and Gomorrah. So God is speaking to Ezekiel to tell Israel about an event that happened hundreds of years before this — the destruction of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah… the complete destruction of that city.

Now I just want to ask you, if you’re familiar with the idea of Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed… off the top of your head, why do you think they were destroyed?

(Pause)

Oftentimes, it’s because we think it’s because of their homosexual behavior. There’s an incidence in Genesis that refers to that, and the whole Church has just conveniently… because it doesn’t effect all of them, been able to dismiss the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and say, “You know what… that’s someone else’s problem. God was judging them for homosexual behavior”.

But here we have a reminder of what the real problem was…

“She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

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Now this next verse in fairness is one we think of when we think of Sodom and Gomorrah…

They were haughty and did detestable things before me.”

But look at what God begins with,

“They were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned. They did not help the poor and the needy”.

You see friends I think it’s safe to say that for years, and years continuing, a large part of the Church of Jesus Christ, when it comes to caring for people, particularly with the subject of human trafficking, will be unconcerned and unwilling to help those who are in need.

But as I said earlier, God is doing a movement to reverse that, to awaken the Church to this reality, and that’s why we’re talking about it here at Kirkmont.

We do not want to be counted… this whole series is about us not being counted among those who are arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned… taking the time to discover the things that God cares about so that we make sure that we care about them as well.

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And then Jesus comes along in the New Testament… there’s so much in the Old Testament about injustice and Israel treating people unjustly, God always reminding them of where they came from; but then Jesus comes along in Matthew 22:34-40 and He’s being sort of tricked here… this is a familiar passage to those who have been around the church for a while…

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees (another religious group) got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?””

So here’s someone challenging Jesus with this question thinking that certainly they could make Him look bad in front of everyone else, and…

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.the-greatest-commandment-graphic

Now if Jesus had stopped there, in many ways our life would be more comfortable wouldn’t it?  If Jesus had just said, “ALL YOU NEED TO DO TO SUM UP OLD TESTAMENT IS LOVE GOD”.. why then we could come and we could worship, and we could pray, and we could read our Bibles, we could do religious things and our life would be very comfortable, we would never have to have a sermon series called, “KIRKMONT CARES” at all… but Jesus doesn’t stop there. He could have (stopped there), I think He could’ve answered his question wonderfully, don’t you? I think this is a great answer.

But he continues, saying that alone does not specify, it doesn’t quite summarize the Heart of God; it doesn’t summarize the movement of the Old Testament. Instead he adds,

“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.Neighbor

Love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus, in just a couple of sentences, takes 39 Books, all of their rules, 2000 years of history from Abraham to His time and He sums it all up, “LOVE… LOVE GOD… and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR”.

LoveGodLovePeopleDoSomething

And this is challenging now, because there’s concrete action… it’s measurable.

I can’t really measure whether or not you really love God, or how much you love God. But we need to be honest about the reality that if we love people, the way we’re supposed to, some of that’s tangible–we’re either doing it or not.

If you have 2 coats and your neighbor doesn’t even have one; you either give them one of yours or you don’t ( soft under-breath laugh).

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And when it comes to this whole subject of “Human Trafficking”, this becomes challenging. Jesus, I think even more pointedly in Matthew 7…  He referred to this as the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12.

I was doing some research on this verse and discovered that this was an expression that was already existant in the time. And many of the leaders of that era had rejected it (he chuckles)… they rejected it, perhaps for obvious reasons.

But Jesus comes along and talking about the generosity of God towards His people, speaking about how God is a good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children, He comes along and He says,

“So then,

with that premise, those of you who claim that God is good and who have been blessed by Him,

in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

this is important

Let me just ask you… if you were among the 25 MILLION Human Traffic victims, or one of your children were, or one of your grandchildren, or someone whom you cared about was in this situation, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

I mean what would you want them to do? What you want others to do? … and Jesus is simply saying, “There is your answer”. That’s how intense we ought to be about fighting this injustice.

DO, WHAT YOU WOULD WANT OTHER PEOPLE TO DO FOR YOU if you were in that situation.

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Some of this stuff isn’t “Rocket Science” is it?  

It just takes so long to cut through our heart because we have been convinced that inactivity is an acceptable thing.

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This one person is quoted, making this statement. Sometimes, I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice, when He could do something about it”.

I mean have you ever thought about that? “God, why do you allow poverty, suffering and injustice when you could do something about it?”  The person next to him said, “Well, why don’t you ask Him?” and their response is, “Because I’m afraid that He would ask me the same question?”

Church… Kirkmont… why do you allow poverty, suffering and injustice when you could do something about it?

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I want to spend just a minute talking about the things that we could do.

As I said earlier and alluded to earlier I think our church should support organizations like International Justice Mission. And beyond that, I would even love it if we sent a person or two from our church to go to one of the places they’re working each year, and to visit with them and to see the work they’re doing.

Could you just imagine the adrenaline that would be flowing… just how incredibly nerve-wracking it would be to get in the car with some of these workers from International Justice Mission and go to one of these sites and be a part of that work.

And when you come back, you wouldn’t have to hear sermons from a pastor who’s never seen it first hand; we could hear from people who’ve been there. Can you imagine how contagious that intensity would be if we were connected to them in that way?

We support W.A.R. (Women At Risk) already. We have a relationship with them; we have an Annual Jewelry Party with them. I’m told that we raised more money a couple weeks ago at our Annual Jewelry party for W.A.R. than we have in a awhile–at least more than last year; so we can continue in that effort.

And we can care for the poor and our orphans as we discussed in the past because they are indeed the most vulnerable when it comes to the subject of Human Trafficking.

poor and orphans

 

And friends we need to talk about something that’s just a little bit awkward to talk about for some people. We cannot have a conversation about Human Trafficking… and you were thinking, “Is this the awkward part coming up? … not the previous part” (he smiles under breath).

We cannot have a conversation about Human Trafficking without also talking about Pornography:

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Pornography has become an empire in the United States. It brings in more money than the NFL, Major League Baseball, and the NBA combined.

And as a result of it, we have a sexually confused country. We have no idea what God intended to be appropriate sexual behavior in the Bible. The result… our children between the ages of 9 and 13 are being exposed to pornography, they’re behaving sexually at younger ages; they’re developing attraction, then, as a result for younger people–and many of them never grow out of that.

Hence the demand for young children in the Human Trafficking Industry.

Pornography is violent, and it teaches that inappropriate sexual behavior is the norm.

Ironically it was promoted as some sort of a feminist movement which is a total lie–how harmful it is to our women.

And quite frankly today, the line between pornography and human trafficking is incredibly grey.

But one of the greatest ways that they make money off those they’ve victimized, is to force them to do acts in front of a camera and then to sell it on the internet to people like you and I.

It’s possible then, that you have supported the world of human trafficking without even realizing it.

The LIE is the person that you’re watching is actually interested in doing what they’re doing and really would love for you to do that to them as well. That is the LIE of HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

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And so friends, if the Church is going to address the subject of Human Trafficking I believe pornography is the gateway into that world, and it must start to reverse it’s trend there.

Statistically right now, we aren’t any different than the world when it comes to this subject.

And I have what I believe is a solution for Kirkmont to begin changing that trend–for our behavior on the internet to stand out and be distinctly different from the world around us.

I’d like to talk to you for a second about an organization or company called Covenant Eyes.

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Covenant Eyes is an internet software filter and accountability system. It filters what it is that you are and aren’t allowed to look at. And it also provides accountability by allowing you to sign up for an “Accountability Partner” who receives a weekly report of what it is that you have seen.

Now in the past, if I would promote Covenant Eyes to people the only way that they could respond to me was by sort of acknowledging or admitting that they had a problem in this area. But that is no longer the case.

They have software now that’s just about safety–Family Safety, and that’s how we’re promoting it this morning.

In fact I want you to use me as an excuse if you talk to your spouse about Covenant Eyes. And the excuse is this, “I believe that every home that has people who want to follow Jesus Christ should have something like Covenant Eyes in their home. Not just young families, not just single men… all ages should have something like this.

Again, it’s two-fold: it’s a filter that we, the Borgelt family have Covenant Eyes set up in our home. We have various filters… like our KIDS who are filtered at one level; and then Amanda and I are allowed to see like PG-13 stuff, ya know.

We have different filters, and if our 9 year old son Caleb goes to get on the computer, he has a password. He types it in, and every week we find out, has he seen anything that he shouldn’t have seen.

It’s not because we don’t trust our kids, but because we realize that the internet is targeting children. They are targeting them.

So Covenant Eyes isn’t just about, “Do you have an addiction, or a problem”, this is about PRECAUTIONARY ACTIONS… this is about safety for your whole family.

Some of us were exposed to pornography for the first time when we weren’t seeking it… it just came to us. And this is about preventing that, and having accountability.

I have friends who’ve signed me up as their accountability partner, and Covenant Eyes sends me a weekly report. And by all means I would always be willing to do that for anyone in this church.

But you cay use someone else, but either way I believe that any family that has access to the internet, that wants to honor God with its behavior should indeed have this as part of what they’re doing.

Covenant-Eyes-logo

Also, I challenge you this week to simply type in the words, “Human Trafficking and Dayton Ohio“. Two homework assignments:
1. Investigate Covenant Eyes,  http://www.covenanteyes.com/ and
2. Type in the words Human Trafficking Dayton Ohio (transcriber has done that for you below):

Dayton: A human trafficking hub
http://www.whio.com/news/news/dayton-human-trafficking-hub/ndYRR/

Help abolish sex trafficking in the Miami Valley.
http://befreedayton.org/

I-75 Corridor Hub for Human Trafficking
http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/portman-i-75-corridor-hub-for-human-trafficking/njwHB/

Organization launches combat on human trafficking
http://wdtn.com/2015/02/19/organization-launches-method-to-combat-human-trafficking/

Stop Human Trafficking Dayton
http://www.daytonlec.org/partners/on-site-partner-agencies/stop-human-trafficking-dayton/

Pastor Dan (continued)
“We’re going to finish with a few minute video, and this is causing us to go a little bit over here. It’s another video through International Justice Mission. This will close our time together and make the story of Human Trafficking more personal. [00:35:39] – [00:39:29] on Audio Tape

I want to thank you for your sensitivity and patience as we’ve dealt with this subject this morning. I want to thank you for being here, for worshiping with us at Kirkmont.

I want to close our time with this quote from Martin Luther:
“Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning, and is coming back tomorrow.” 

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Thank you for being here, and God bless….”


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Kirkmont Cares 4 – ‘Clean Water Crisis’

AUDIO [33 min]

Pastor Dan (transcription)
Here at Kirkmont we’re in Week #4 of a 5-week series called, “Kirkmont Cares”… and essentially what we’re doing is taking the opportunity to look at the Bible and ask ourselves, “What does God care about? … and is out church in the business of caring about the things that God cares about?”

And you know, it came to me that any church in America that decides to take the time to talk about caring for people in need, they ought to also take the time to look at things from a global perspective as well.

Because when we talk in America about the idea of CARING FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEEDS, we have such a skewed understanding of what it means to be “in need“.

Help-Those-In-Need-by-CRI

I mean we’ve all heard stories and seen examples that have sort of hardened our hearts to the whole idea of caring for people in need.

We’ve heard about people who are on assistance who also have Flat Screen TV’s, and we think something’s wrong with that. We’ve heard about people who are on assistance who have name brand tennis shoes and we think to ourself, “there’s something wrong about that”.

You’ve heard about people who have had people care for them who have some sort of luxury that you just don’t think they should have if they’re accepting care, and need, and assistance from other people.

When we start talking about caring for people in need here in America, it becomes so political, so quick, that often people just shut down.

And so I thought it would be great for us to just stop and think GLOBALLY; let’s just look at a global issue which might allow God, to give Him an avenue to soften our heart on this whole subject of caring for people in need.

So I started thinking about what topic could we address, and I decided to just spend a few minutes this morning addressing the topic of the Global Crisis when it comes to having access to SAFE DRINKING WATER.

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And you know why I did that… I thought “Let’s get down to the grass roots of life” …the basic ingredient of LIFE.

I mean it’s essential for everyone; and I thought, “Ya know, it would be pretty hard to be critical and hardhearted towards people who simply lack SAFE DRINKING WATER. So we decided, “Let’s start there”.

Before we go any further I want to share with you a quote from a book that’s found in the back of this Sanctuary. It’s written by Richard Stern; it’s called “The Hole in our Gospel” and here’s a quote…

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He has a whole section on the Global Crisis when it comes to safe drinking water and here’s what he says; he’s studied the crisis… now this is a man who’s traveled all around the world; and if you talk to anyone who travels around the world with their heart and mind set towards those people who are in need, they will tell you about the lack of clean water globally.  And so he starts reflecting on that topic in his own personal life… and he says this,

“Where I live (that’s Colorado), we’re fortunate to have a wonderful lake just about 2 miles away. So if I knew I was going to be without water, I could begin to plan ahead to organize some water fetching.

On foot, it would take about 2 hours round trip to go fetch water to use for drinking and some bathing. But 30 gallons of water weighs about 250 pounds. I checked my water bill and I learned that my family uses about 300 gallons a day. That would weigh more than a ton and would require 50 round trips to the lake each day.

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So my family might have to reduce our water consumption a bit.

Reducing to 30 gallons would be a 90% reduction. But carrying 30 gallons of water 2 miles would still take about five or six trips a day, carrying 50 pounds each time… consuming about 10 hours of hard labor.

If you think it’s inconvenient to go to the gym to work out every morning, try lugging 50 pounds of water back to your house so you can brush your teeth and have a sponge bath. Then try making that trip five times.

Now if you had to work this routine into your schedule every day and still get everyone off to work or school on time, you would have to begin your treks in the wee hours of the morning. Washing your clothes and dishes, let alone your own body, would become an overwhelming task.”

And then he goes on…

“Imagine that the water you fetched from the lake was teaming with deadly bacteria, parasites, and water-born diseases that were literally killing you.

This is the grim reality for about 1.2 BILLION people in the world today.”

19 Nov 2006, Suining, China --- China - Energy - Water Collection - --- Image by © Reuters/Corbis

In a moment we’re going to play a video for you by Living Water International, and before we play this video I want to share with you just a few numbers to be thinking about as the video is played.

The first one was just referenced here, and that is there is an estimated 800 million and 1.2 BILLION people who lack access to safe drinking water.

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Now I know what you’re thinking when you hear that, “Come on.. really… a BILLION people pastor who lack access to safe drinking water… I mean like a billion?  If there were actually a billion people who lacked access to safe drinking water people would be dying like ALL THE TIME because of it”.

YEP… that’s exactly what’s happening.

Five million people dying every year because of water related illness.

One child dies every_15_seconds because of unclean drinking water.
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Now let’s just do the math there… so 15 goes into one minute four times; and we’re going to be here for approximately 60 minutes, so that’s 240 children, or approximately the total number of people who will be at both of our services this morning.

240 children who will pass away doing our one service this morning because of a lack of safe drinking water.

ONE-HALF of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients with water born diseases. 

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Now as we play this video… I know some of you are thinking, “Come on.. here we go, another social justice issue… I mean we want to tell people about Jesus, and doesn’t this social justice stuff just sort of distract from telling people about Jesus?”

I hope this video helps to sort of clear up that whole question;

Audio from VIDEO he showed is on above tape [00:07: 00] to [00:11:36]; this one is very similar:
https://vimeo.com/48154089

So with that topic and video as a backdrop I want to invite you to our passage together this morning. We are going to be walking through a text of Scripture which is found in the New Testament, in the Book of 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

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I love as a pastor to hear the sound of your Bibles opening up and turning to the page, either yours or ones that are in the pews. If that’s not you, that’s OK; we have the Scripture on the screen behind us as always.

Here’s what the Scripture says, 1 Timothy 6 starting in verse 17,

Command those who are rich in this present world …

Let’s pause there.

So we have some instruction, and the instruction is coming from a man named Paul, who’s an early church leader, an early church planter; and he is writing to a young pastor named Timothy and he’s telling him, “This is what I want you to tell your congregations”. 

And the instructions he’s given is for a specific group of people… “those who are rich in this present world“.

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Ya know, every time I hear that verse in the Bible I think it’s kind of interesting. Because “those who are rich in this present world”… at that time meant “Bible Times”; and more specifically “Bible places”. It’s not exactly a scene that I equate with wealth necessarily; but apparently, at least by their standards, there were wealthy people.

And apparently, many of those people had found their way into the church, since Paul is now instructing Timothy to give them this instruction.

But I think that when we hear this passage, “those who are rich in this present world” I would go as far as suggesting that perhaps around 90 maybe even 99% of the people who hear those words in American churches immediately dismiss themselves because we don’t think of ourselves as being rich in this present world.

“Oh this is one of those verses where God is talking to someone else besides me”.

And of course the reason we don’t think we’re rich is because our economic scale in America is so vast, so broad, the ceiling is so high that who in this room can’t think of someone else who has more money than them… someone else who you think, “that’s who the passage is talking about.. not me”.

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But I want to ask you church, “Since when does the American economy dictate God’s scale for deciding who’s rich in this world or not?”

I want to invite you to consider the possibility that when the passage says, “I command those who are rich in this present world” that maybe it’s talking about you… and myself.

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I remember I used to dismiss the whole idea that I was rich… ya know I graduated seminary after seven years of private schooling to become an EPC pastor and my first job I leave seminary and I’m making $30,000 less than I make here.

And we started a family on that amount of money, and we had some difficult times as a result of it.

I remember there was one window, maybe it was just a few days, maybe it was a week, but the grocery money had run out and we were at the dinner table and there was no lemonade, or no chocolate milk, it was WATER… that’s what we’re having for dinner.

We were having water, night 1, night 2, night 3… and you know each time the kids were asking, “May we have lemonade?” “May we have chocolate milk?”… or whatever it might be. And I hated saying “No, we’re having water”.

I remember having this moment at the table where I thought to myself, “Man, this really stinks…”  I even felt sorry for myself, that I couldn’t give my kids lemonade or chocolate milk….

And then you come along and study a topic like this and you think, “REALLY?… that’s your biggest crisis, that your kids can only drink water?”

Never mind the fact that it came from a stainless steel refrigerator that had been chilled and filtered before they drank it.art_fr6_6_7d79c

That’s my biggest crisis? … I have to give my kids this chilled and filtered water?”

And so I want to invite us to consider, when the Scripture says, “Those who are rich in this present world, it’s talking about you and I, and therefore we continue to listen to the passage under that reality.

And the first instruction we then receive is…

“not to be arrogant…” (v. 17)

You see, that’s one of the temptations of having money here in America, is this sense of arrogance because our mindset is, “the reason why we’re successful and can take care of our own needs is because we’ve worked harder, we’re smarter, or we’ve made better decisions in life.

And our mindset towards those people who don’t have as much, who can’t take care of themselves, who need someone else’s assistance, is simply because they have probably not worked as hard, they probably haven’t made as many good life decisions.

But the Bible says,”listen, you gotta be careful about that, because that’s an arrogant mindset“.

We can’t even begin to imagine a world where there are people out there who work harder; harder than anyone in this room maybe has ever worked, and their result is, they can barely afford access to clean drinking water.

We cannot even imagine that.

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Ya know, I thought we had some pretty tough, hard-working moms here in Beavercreek; because some of you know we have a preschool that meets 160 kids that come all week long; and I see oftentimes all these moms and what they have to do to get their kids into the preschool; and it’s a pretty impressive feat.

Has anyone ever watch this feat?  Or you go to the mall and see what a mom is capable of doing?

I mean they will carry a baby in some type of baby carrier; pick up the next oldest child in their arms, with a diaper bag wrapped around their neck and shoulder and the preschooler has been instructed to put their hand on the mom’s leg, and they will all walk across the parking lot wobbling together (LAUGHTER).

And I think now this is an impressive scene… we’ve got some tough women around here.

And we can’t even imagine that that actually pales in comparison to what moms are doing globally just to provide for their family a few gallons of water.

A Somali women carry donated rations of food aid from the UNHCR in Mogadishu , Wednesday. Aug. 31.2011. Somalia's famine refugees are celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which ends a month of fasting, with the food rations distributed by aid agencies for their survival. Eid al-Fitr is traditionally celebrated with grand feasts in which delicacies are in abundance after fasting. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

“Don’t be arrogant” .. it says.
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“… nor to put our hope in wealth…,”

Of course the temptation of building up a savings; the temptation of being successful financially, is that would be where our HOPE or our IDENTITY is found. 

I have never in all the topics that I’ve addressed in preaching, faced more resistance than when I start talking about God’s people being generous and caring for those people who are in need.

I want to challenge you.. and invite you to consider the possibility, that if the topic of being GENEROUS threatens you, that it’s a possibility that your hope, that your identity is wrapped up in your wealth.

And the Bible says, as it goes on,

“… that is_so_uncertain…, 

Instead it says we are,

“to put_our_hope_in_God…,”

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Some of you might remember this passage in Matthew 19:21-22… there’s this rich, young man and he’s successful, and he comes up to Jesus and he’s talking about he’s going to follow Jesus with great dedication. And they have this conversation… and we’ll jump in the middle of the conversation… and this is what happens, Jesus answers the rich young man’s question saying,

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

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Now listen to what the response is…

“When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

You see, this was a person who was unwilling to transfer their hope from their own personal wealth, to God… and the Bible says, that’s sad, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to do… we’re supposed to transfer our hope from our wealth to God.

Because having hope in our wealth is such an uncertain thing.

Now Jesus commands this guy to go and to sell all that he has.  That always scares people when I use that verse, because they think, “Well is that what He asks of all people who are followers of Christ?”

Well, “NO” it doesn’t say that; but we do have that one example where that’s exactly what Jesus did.

So it does raise the question, “What might Jesus ask you to give up if you want to follow Him and pursue a relationship with Him?” What could Jesus ask you to give up that would cause you to turn away and walk away sad, and say, “Ya know what, you’ve gone too far“.

It’s a very personal thing.

I would certainly never imply that Jesus expects every follower to sell all of their possessions. No, He may cause some of you to be perpetually wealthy because you are perpetually generous.

He might invite some of you who make less money to build a larger savings than some of you who make more.

I don’t know the answer to that–it’s a personal thing; but I can ask you as your pastor, “Have you ever had that conversation with God?” And what is it that He might ask you to give up that would cause you to walk away sad?

If there is something, it’s possible that you’ve not transferred your hope from your wealth_to_God.

And then He goes on to say,

“…he who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”

Now when we hear that word in our Western culture here in America, we confuse the word “enjoyment” with entertainment… “He richly will provide us with everything we need for our entertainment.”

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I want to be clear Church, this is not God promising you that you will have wonderful nights out on the town. This is not God promising you that you’re gonna have front row tickets to the theater. This is not God promising you that you’re gonna have a High Definition Television and a wonderful Surround Sound… and that’s just so hard for me to say out loud (LAUGHTER).

This is not God promising you that you’re going to have a fancy enough car that you’re going to have all the gadgets in the world to entertain you… it is not ENTERTAINMENT… this is a God who richly blesses us with, and provides for us with all the things that we need for our ENJOYMENT.

 

Do you hear the root word, the core of that? “JOY”… Joy is a foundational thing which can be provided through a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, beyond any of our Life Circumstances.

That’s what God is promising us. He’s inviting us to transfer our TRUST–our HOPE from our wealth to Him because He’s the One who can give us the enjoyment we so long for and desire.

How many of us have been robbed from experiencing the TRUE ENJOYMENT that God has in-store for us because we are still trying to provide it FOR OURSELVES through the things that this world has to offer.

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In verse 18, moving on…

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds…,”

Now if you’re like me, you love that expression; we love this part of the verse because it’s like an ‘OUT’.  “Ahhh… before you were talking to me about my money, but now it sounds like I can satisfy the Spirit of the Scripture by just being the kind of person who volunteers for a lot of things. 

Be rich in good deeds…” 

…that’s the kind of personality I am… “I would wayyy rather give you a few hours on Saturday morning helping you move or do something like that than to give you my money.”

Sooo… for those of you who have that kind of personality, “THAT’S what we’ll do, we’ll be the kind of people who will volunteer for everything, but then we can continue to build up our wealth and keep our money to ourselves.”

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Well friends, unfortunately, the verse doesn’t stop there. We are called to be “rich in good deeds”, and,

“and to be generous and willing to share.”

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“To be generous and willing to share”. You know, when it comes to generosity, God kind of set the bar pretty high didn’t He?

Ya know, the Scripture says, “He gave His One and Only Son… that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life”..that Jesus our Lord and Savior took ALL of the punishment for our sin, so that we wouldn’t experience ANY of it…. that Jesus experienced separation from His Father in Heaven so that we would never experience that.

That Jesus experienced three days in the tomb so that we wouldn’t experience a single moment in the tomb.

When it comes to generosity, God has really set the bar quite high.

And I discovered, there’s a lot of pastors who like talking about God’s generosity; the problem is, they give the impression that God’s generosity stops with you and I… that the “buck stops with us”.  And that’s an attractive message:

“God is generous… and all of His generosity ends with you… you shall be the recipient of all of God’s generosity”. 

They fail to realize that whenever we see an attribute or moral character of God, we His people are supposed to reflect it.

So if God is KIND we are called to be kind; if God is FORGIVING, we are called to be forgiving; if God is LOVING, we are called to be loving; if God is GENEROUS, we are called to be generous.

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They fail to communicate to the Church that we are called to reflect His character, even in the area of generosity… to ASK the question, “Why has God blessed me so richly, so abundantly if not that I might be a blessing to others”.

Verse 19, moving on…

“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age…,” 

Now the Scripture tells us in Matthew 13:44… one verse that Jesus teaches on the subject of treasure, and here’s what He says, 

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.

So there’s a field and there’s a treasure there…

When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his “JOY” went and sold all he had… (and bought that field.”)

What would cause someone, in their joy, to sell all of the things that they had?  “… so that he can go back and buy that field” and own and have access to that treasure?

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You see what happens, Jesus is telling us a story about someone who had all the things of the world and they discover in the Kingdom of God something far more valuable than they ever had possessed before. They get rid of it all… they trade all of the things that they thought were important and significant in life, maybe some of them material possessions as well… they sell all of those things; they get rid of that because IN GOD, they have discovered something far_more_valuable.

I call this
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…the exchange of letting go of what the world has put into our hands, or what we have put into our hands from the world–letting go of it that we might take ahold of the things of the Kingdom of God.

It is a great exchange; it sounds like a horrible message to many of us, but this passage of Scripture is reminding us that what God is inviting us to take hold of is far more valuable than what He’s inviting us to let go of.

It is a great exchange.

And it’s my duty to ask you, “Have you ever participated in that exchange?”  Have you ever honestly come before God and said, “What do you want me to let go of, that I might take hold of the things of the Kingdom of God… to store up treasures for yourself for a FIRM FOUNDATION for the coming age.

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SO THAT  

“…. so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.””

Ya know, we have this expression; it’s goes something like, “Now_this_is_living“… anybody ever said that or heard it, or thought it at least? “Now this is living”.

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Let me just ask you… what circumstances would have to fall into place for you to say, “Now this is living”?

When you hear that expression, what scene do you imagine?

For me, I picture myself in the back yard at a beautiful suburban home with a wonderful concrete patio, grilling steaks…, actually, I’m in a hot tub next to a grill with steaks on it (LAUGHTER); my kids are getting along in the yard; my wife is complementing me about how I look in the hot tub…  I don’t know (LOUD LAUGHTER).

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That wasn’t in my… stick to the script (LAUGHTER)… anyway, the PG-13 service is next week (LAUGHTER).

“This is living”… ya know, in a living room with a leather recliner and big ultra 4K TV with a Surround Sound

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Or are you sitting inside a vehicle that has that new car smell?  www.hdfinewallpapers.com

What is it, that causes you to say, “This is Living“?

And the passage of Scripture is telling us, “NO_IT’S_NOT” !!!

Until you’ve participated in the Great Exchange and given up the things of the world and taken hold of the Kingdom of God you don’t know what true life is.

To experience “TRULY LIFE”, the way that God intended it to be… for both now…

” …and the coming age”… he says

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Church, this is not one of those messages, as is true with this whole series… where we have some immediate response for you. We don’t have kids who we need to sponsor, we don’t have a well out there that we want you to put money in… we don’t have this concrete thing… yet.

We are doing things as a church already. And one of the things we’re doing is praying… our missions committee is praying, “Where is God leading Kirkmont?”

What does He want us to do that will unify and rally this congregation? …that will excite us, that will motivate us to say, I WANT TO BE A PART OF THE GREAT EXCHANGE because that’s a worthy cause”.

We’re praying about that… and we hope in the next year well be able to be more specific and direct about that.

But for now, here’s my task for you; here’s my takeaway that I ask you to leave with this week: today, and every day this week, will you simply ask God one question… so it’s going to take you 10 seconds each day…

“GOD… HOW GENEROUS DO YOU WANT ME TO BE?”

God, how generous do you want me to be? Just begin having that conversation with God. Friends I know that question threatens us; but surely you understand, that as your pastor, it’s fair and right for me to be able to ask you to ask that question.

If you claim to be a follower of Christ, ask Him, “How generous do you want me to be?” … and let’s see where He leads.

Let’s pray together,

Father God, we thank you this morning for the Truth of Your Word, and for this passage of Scripture. I want to provide an opportunity now for those who have maybe felt like your Spirit is speaking to them in our time together this morning… to go ahead and get this first day out of the way, if you will… to come before you now and join me in saying “GOD, how generous do you want us to be?”

And Father we confess to you, the reality that we have taken hold of the things of this world and we ask that you might give us the faith to SEE the “Great Exchange” and to act upon it… to be fully convinced that what it is that you have to offer is greater than what the world has to offer.

We are continuing to ask that you would break our hearts for those both locally, nationally, and globally who you are calling us as a church and as a group of individuals to care for.

In the precious and the powerful Name of Jesus we pray these things.

Amen.”


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Listen to recent sermons on Kirkmont Presbyterian Church website
http://www.kirkmont.org/listen-to-recent-sermons/

Kirkmont Cares 3 – ‘Orphan Sunday’

Opening Video: “Depraved Indifference”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LRY4ela8pM

Sermon Audio (33 minutes):

Pastor Dan (transcription):
There are an estimated 163 million orphans in the world today. To put that number in perspective, that is roughly about one-half the total population of the United States of America… 163,000,000 orphans in the world today.

Orphan Stats

But then again, statistics sort of make us numb… don’t they. I don’t know if any real action has ever been evoked through some statistic. Perhaps it’s what allowed one author to be able to say, these words,

“We’ve learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names; they are easier to ignore before you see their faces; it is easier to pretend that they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”

I remember when God made this quote for me come alive in my life… I, like many people who are Christians, had been a Christian for many years, but had never really known the name, never really known the face, certainly had never held an orphan; I knew about orphans, I knew about God’s care for orphans, but it had never been personal for me.

So several years ago I went on a trip with my last church to Haiti. And I was bringing a group of about 10 people from the church. I had been there the year before to check out some ministry opportunities; and a year later I was returning now with ten other people from the church and we were going to visit a particular orphanage in Haiti.

When we arrived there we came across an all-concrete 2-story structure, about the size of many of your homes, maybe 2500 square feet or so, but the conditions of this concrete structure would make most of our foreclosure homes look immaculate.

And when we got inside of this orphanage we didn’t discover a family of five living in the 2500 square feet, instead we discovered that there were 50 orphaned children living in this orphanage.

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Continue reading Kirkmont Cares 3 – ‘Orphan Sunday’

Kirkmont Cares Week 2 – ‘Women at Risk’

AUDIO – 29 minutes

Pastor Dan (transcription)
We’ve begun a new series here at Kirkmont called “Kirkmont Cares”. It’s a 5-week series and essentially what we’re doing for 5 weeks is we’re patting ourselves on the back and we’re bragging about how much we care for people for people in need (joking).

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Well… kind of.. we might do that for a little bit of a time, but for the most part what we’re going to be doing in our 5 weeks together is looking at the truth of the Bible and discovering how it is that God wants us to be caring for people.

And I want to be clear, when I use this expression, we’re talking about caring FOR people, not just caring ABOUT people. And we’re going to be purposeful in using that language. Because what I think of when I hear caring “about” something is… someone hears a sad story or reads a sad story of some kind, and you have some sort of short term emotions that are attached to reading that sad story… you sort of care about it… you wish that had not happened to them; but very rarely does that produce any type of change in your life or in their life at all.

It might, at best, caring ABOUT someone might at best produce some sort of short prayer, or small check, or something like that; but we’re after the idea of caring “FOR” people in accordance with the way the Bible asks us to do that.

And I can’t think of any passage that is more appropriate, more challenging for the subject of caring FOR people than the passage that Pat alluded to earlier in our Children’s message known as the Book of Matthew 25. In fact this passage is so pivotal in churches caring for people, that there are entire churches who summarize all of their local ministry efforts, all of their global ministry effort by simply calling them our “Matthew 25 Ministry”. And this is the passage we’re going to be looking at.

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And before we read the passage I wanted to share with you this illustration that I received this morning about this passage. I was here about 7AM and I was practicing my other introduction. It was a story about a time I went to Haiti a few years ago.. it’s a good story but you’re not going to hear it today because I changed my mind.

I was nervous because the story was going too long… and we have communion and I was thinking, “What am I gonna do?”… and then all of the sudden my phone dings… and someone had sent me this article with this passage that we’re going to look at today.

And here’s what it says,

Homeless Pastor

A pastor transformed himself into a homeless person [referring to pic above he said, “that’s kinda like if you come to the office and you happen to see me on a Friday (LAUGHTER)] and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that service, that morning.

He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service….only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food… NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit in the back. [Ushers there’s your sermon, you can just go home, you heard it]. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, and with people looking down on him.

As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up in front of the church and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation….”We would like now to introduce to you our new pastor.  The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation…..The homeless man sitting in the back stood up… and started walking down the aisle… the clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him…. he walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment…. then he recited … the passage we’re going to read together this morning.

After reciting it, he looked towards the congregation and told them…

[Now next time you want to get mad at me for something I do or say… it could be this guy, up here 🙂 ]

He all what he had experienced… many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame… he then said… Today I see a gathering of people… not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples… when will YOU decide to become disciples? He then dismissed service until next week.

There were probably many people happy that the sermon was so short.. right?

But nonetheless… I think this is a wonderful introduction to the passage we’re going to be looking at, Matthew 25, here it is, starting in verse 31.

Continue reading Kirkmont Cares Week 2 – ‘Women at Risk’

Kirkmont Cares Week #1 – ‘Rethinking Poverty’

Touching Introductory Video ~6 minutes
https://vimeo.com/141823504

Sermon Audio:

Pastor Dan (transcript):
“We are beginning a new five week series here at Kirkmont, called Kirkmont Cares.

Now maybe you’re hearing that and you’re thinking… “that sounds a little braggy of the church … ya know, let’s have a five week sermon series talking about how much the church cares.. Ya know, “Kirkmont Cares”.

I want to give you an idea of of where that whole sermon series title came from.

When we talk about the idea that Kirkmont Cares… it comes from this idea that here at Kirkmont we’re experimenting with the language called Come, Connect and Care.

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For those of you more familiar with Kirkmont, you might be used to the language Go, Grow and Glorify… which is wonderful language, and we’re just thinking about using the terms Come, Connect and Care because we think they might be a little bit and easier to understand… but also because we’ve put them in an order that we think makes sense for people.

So the first thing we’re doing is inviting people to come to church, and then eventually if they’ve been coming for a while we’re inviting them to connect further with like a small group or a Bible study of some kind. And then eventually we’re inviting them to support us as we care for the for the community around us and the world around us.

And so under the Care Tab at our Web site you’ll find our local missions, our global missions, and places where people can support the church on with online giving and all that kind of thing.

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http://www.kirkmont.org/

So that’s where we got the whole idea of Kirkmont Cares.  And I want to share this vision with you.  Wouldn’t it be neat someday, if someone asks you, “What church do you go to?”  And you said, “I go to Kirkmont?”.  If they were able to respond “Oh that’s right… that’s the church that cares”.

They may not go to church, they may not believe in God then I have no interest in going to church in any way at all or.  Or maybe their theology is just different than our church and so they don’t necessarily want to come to Kirkmont.  But when you say, “I go to Kirkmont”, they say “Oh that’s right, that’s the church that cares”.

What a wonderful reputation it would be to have that in our community – Kirkmont Cares.

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And so that’s why we’re doing this series… this five weeks series called Kirkmont Cares; and I have to be honest with you in my nine months here as the pastor Kirkmont, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to be proud of Kirkmont in the area of caring for the community and the world around us.

The first thing that comes to mind is our budget here at the church.  We’re committed to having at least ten percent of our budget go towards missions.

Now I want to clarify by saying, ‘at least ten percent of our budget going towards missions’, we don’t mean that we only spend ten percent of our budget on the mission of the church.  That would be a horrible statistic wouldn’t it?  What do you do with the other ninety percent?

To be clear we believe that our goal is to spend one hundred percent of our money on the mission of the church.  So whether we hire staff or whether we put mints in the bathroom, we do it because we think that it will help us with the mission of the church.

http://www.kirkmont.org/local-missions/
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What we mean by giving ten percent of our budget to missions, is to say that we are taking ten percent of the money that we receive and giving it to other people and other organizations who are working on behalf of the name of God, and to help support their efforts. We use the other ninety percent to glorify God in our efforts here at the church.

We have a six hundred and some thousand dollar budget here at Kirkmont, which means that we give over sixty thousand dollars away to other people and to other organizations.

And in our series we’re going to be looking in the weeks to come at the some of the details of who are who are we supporting, and why are we supporting them; and are we supporting the right people and is there someone else or some other cause that we think that God might be causing and leading us to support based on the truth of His Word.

http://www.kirkmont.org/global-missions/
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So I’m encouraged by our budget.  I’m encouraged by the Easter offering and the $1800 we were able to give Samaritan’s Purse as we just talked about a few minutes ago.  And it’s led to some some personally encouraging moments as a pastor as well.
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This summer I walked out of our office area, and I was cutting through the back of the sanctuary, I was heading over to the soundboard to to fiddle with the with the sound… they love it when I do that here at the church (Laughter) … the technology pastor… you know.  And I was heading over there, and as I was walking through the back of the sanctuary someone walked in the doors.

They walked in I could clearly tell they had had better days.  And I welcome the gentlemen, I said “Hi, my name’s Dan, I’m the pastor here, is there something that we can help you out with?”  And he said “Yeah, truthfully to be honest with you, I’m traveling through..” and he said, “I’m out of money for food, and I’m out of money for gas and I could really use some help.”

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I just want to ask you when you hear that story… what comes to mind?  (pause)… if it’s con artist, if it’s scam, you know… and of course that all exists, but if it’s the first and only thing that comes to mind, I think this series is going to be challenging to you.

So I had to say to him, “Well truthfully, I’m a new pastor here, I really don’t know what we have available to help you.  Let me go and see if we have any way of helping you out.”

So I went back into the office area and I said to Christie, our secretary, I said “do we do we have a way of helping this person out, here’s what they’re in need of.”

She opens a drawer and she hands me a gift card to a local fast food place; she hands me a gift card to a local gas station and gives them to me and I’m able to walk out the door.

And oh, by the way, as I’m walking to the gentleman, I pass by our free Bibles back there and I grab one of those and I walk up to him I say here’s a Bible, here’s a gift card for food, here’s a gift card for gas… I put my hand on his shoulder and I say, “May I pray for you before you leave?”

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And you know what? …it felt really great to be a part of a church that’s able to support people in a situation like that.  And that’s a moment was proud and happy to be here at Kirkmont, and thankful for your generosity; thankful to be able to respond to someone that way.

Friends… if you consider yourself a church person.  If you consider yourself to be a follower of Christ.  This morning I want to ask you what is your definition of the gospel? When you hear the word ‘gospel’, what word comes to mind; what definition comes to mind?

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I think we’re going to hopefully maybe challenge that a little bit this morning.  And I want to ask you, “Do you think that the Gospel has anything to do with social justice?

And those who are unchurched who might be here this morning… who are still trying to find out who God is, and who the church is… if you’ve bought into the idea that the church is just a bunch of people who are preaching judgment, and talking about sin and forgiveness, but not ever really doing any tangible good in the world around them… then I want to just encourage you to listen to the message today, and consider that the Scripture teaches us that we ought to be something very different from that.

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Well if you’ve got a Bible either with you or if you want to turn to one in the pews in front of you… we’re going to go into the book of Luke 4: 14-21.

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If you don’t have one, or are unsure where the Book of Luke is, that’s all right, we’ve got a screen behind us, we’ll have the scripture there. Luke, chapter four starting in versus fourteen through twenty one.  Here’s what the Scripture says,

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, 

I always thought that was an interesting addition.. ya know, Jesus is the Son of God, he’s God in the flesh, why does he really need the ‘power of the Spirit’? … but nonetheless… 

He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.  He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.

So he is given a scroll.. he doesn’t have a selection, he’s not involved in the decision of what scroll he’s gonna read from… he’s given the scroll, but …

Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

So within the Scroll of Isaiah that he was given, he chooses a particular passage to read that day. And this is the passage that he wanted people to hear. Now remember friends, this is Luke, Chapter 4… if that doesn’t mean anything to you, the interpretation is, “this is the beginning of the ministry part of Jesus’ life… this is how he is showing up on the scene. Of all the passages, he decides that what he wants people to hear about his arrival, this is what he says

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down.”

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God sort of gave me this analogy last night… I was hanging out at the church as a usually do, and I had gone to the hay ride, and then I went over to Buffalo Wild Wings, and I was wearing a baseball hat… I wore it in church guys… I’m sorry but I was wearing a baseball hat… but it was on Saturday night I think that’s allowed (smiles)… so I was wearing a hat, and not only that I was wearing it backwards.  So I think that’s why I got this analogy.  But I sort of had a little swagger in my step if you will… or whatever, but anyway so,

I picture Jesus, getting up, he reads from the scroll and he hands it back and he sits down and like… I’m trying to picture a modern day equivalent of this… and I’m thinking of like Jesus out on the street with a group of guys playing basketball… and maybe they’re having an impromptu slam dunk contest… and Jesus walks over, grabs the ball and He does Michael Jordan’s slam dunk from the free throw line.  He puts it through the hoop, he walks over hands it to someone and sits down and it’s like “Boo yaaa”…

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Boo ya

(LAUGHTER)

You know… “TOP THAT”… and it’s kind of like how I was picturing this whole thing… Jesus reads from the scroll… he hands it over, he walks over and he sits down.  And it might not be that far off because listen to what the Scripture says next.

“The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Friends, we’re going to get into some of the details of the passage in a minute, but I think that beauty is not in all the details of what Jesus says, but in the overall spirit of what he says.

And the first and the most profound thing about what Jesus says is, “This passage has been fulfilled and you’re hearing from my lips here this morning.”

And what he means is, “The spirit of the Lord is on me… the meaning that Isaiah wrote about seven hundred years before this… “ Jesus is saying, “that me… is me” (Pastor Dan chuckles). “I’m that me….  The spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me.  That is me.  I’m the one that Isaiah wrote about seven hundred years ago.  I’m the one who’s shown up to do all of these things that Isaiah wrote about some seven hundred years ago.” 

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And notice what Jesus doesn’t say at the outset of his ministry… the passage that he chooses to read from instead of one that we might expect him to say…  He doesn’t show up and give the people, “The Four Spiritual Laws”... “oh.. by the way, I wanted to let you know that God created you, that you’ve sinned, that that sin separates you from God… but I’m here to die in the cross for your sin, and if you trust me you can have eternal life and the forgiveness of your sins.”

He doesn’t say that.

I’m not suggesting that that’s not true… or that it’s not important; in fact I would suggest that that is very true, and the absolute foundation of the Christian faith. But notice that that’s not what Jesus leads with.  That’s not how he expects people to identify him when he shows up seven hundred years after the prophecy.

Instead what he says is, all these things… that he’s come to care for the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed.  This is what he shows up in leads with.  This is how he chooses to arrive on the scene.

And here we come across a tension that exists in the church.  There is a portion of the church that is identified and relates to this whole social justice component, and they view the entire Bible through Liberation theology … everything in the Bible is about another group of oppressed people being liberated somehow.

And because they view the entire scripture that way, that group of people fail to recognize that we are sinners… that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one goes to the Father through him.  They don’t talk about the Cross, they don’t talk about forgiveness or repentance; they only talk about social justice issues.
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And then there are there other churches like Kirkmont who say, “That’s not right… that’s not what the Bible is all about… that’s not what Christianity is about… Jesus came to die in the cross for our sins… people need to hear that.”

So we leave all the liberation theology behind and we proclaim the Four Spiritual Laws to people:
– God created you.
– You have sin.
– Jesus died for your sin.
– You can have the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus.

Then we are left with these two very different churches.  

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But here’s a beautiful thing guys… I think that God is doing a movement in the church in America, and he is bringing those two together.  

And he is doing it by helping the Evangelical Church, that clings to the for spiritual laws to keep those intact… not to sacrifice them in any way at all, but to build upon that foundation, some of the social justice issues that God cares about.

And Jesus arrives on the scene saying “Here’s the prophecy about me.”

Friends, what do you think, what definition comes to mind when you think of the gospel? And is it possible that there’s a hole in your gospel?

You know there’s an author, named Richard Stearns who’s the president or the C.E.O. of World Vision, and he wrote a book called The Hole in Our Gospel.

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And the whole book is challenging Evangelical Christians who have reduced the Good News of Jesus to the fact that he forgives sins, and have forgotten about the fact that when Jesus arrived on the scene, He was also making other wrongs right as well. His restoration went beyond just the forgiveness of sins, to the quality of people’s lives, to the oppressed, to the poor, to the blind, that is part of Jesus’s ushering in Good News and part of his restoration is well.

So is there a hole in your Gospel?

The details of the passage, verse 18,

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.

Some of your thinking, “There it is Pastor you must’ve missed the obvious indicator, it says he’s just preaching the good news to the poor.”

There is no way you could possibly conclude that what Jesus meant by that was just telling poor people about the Four Spiritual Laws… that would totally manipulate the passage.  That’s not what Isaiah meant, and certainly not what Jesus meant either.

There was something far more comprehensive than, “I’m just going to go to the poor and tell them about the forgiveness of sins”.  In fact, Jesus’ half brother, later on would write in James Chapter two… this is a famous verse for people who’ve been around the church.

In James 2:15-17 James had come along and wrote these words.

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Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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So James gives us an indicator… like look, if you’re trying to tell people about Jesus and the forgiveness of sins, but they have an obvious physical and material need, and your ignoring that, while trying to tell them about forgiveness, it’s not going to be very effective.  You can’t tell people about how much God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them when you have three coats and they have none — it just doesn’t work.

And so he’s brings the two together… and that’s all I’m suggesting here.  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed to me to preach good news to the poor”.

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You see, we have to understand that the idea that people would live in need and in want was not a part of creation.  This is all about Jesus showing up and beginning the restoration of creation… reversing the effects of the fall and restoring the creative order.  It was not a part of creation.

And then it goes on to say, “And his sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.”  

You know I’m convinced that when you study the Bible especially in the Old Testament, whenever a country or a nation takes its eyes off of God, one of the first downfalls is their justice system begins to fall apart.

The first stage I think of the justice system falling apart is countries who begin to not imprison people who should be in prison. 

Some of you read the story about a police officer who was recently killed by another person who in the years prior had done everything they possibly could to go to jail for the rest of their life.  And some judge comes along and decides to liberate them and try to reform them and let’s this person out and he goes and kills a police officer.

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One of the first signs of a declining justice system is not imprisoning people who should be.  But there’s a more dangerous place than that… and that is when a nation begins to imprison people that shouldn’t be.  And that was happening in the Old Testament and in ancient times, all the time, and it was usually associated with economics — people being in prison because they know could no longer pay their debts.

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If that ever starts happening in this country that is a scary place to get to. So Jesus arrives on the scene and says, “People have been wrongfully imprisoned… that is an injustice that I am here to make right.” That is one of the parts of the Gospel as well… is making things that are injust, just.

Is there a justice component that our church is engaged in… is there a wrong that’s happening to people, that they are the victim of, that we are engaged in trying to make right.

And then he goes on and he says… “And recovery of sight for the blind.

You know this is so challenging to our attitude about poverty in general because if you’re like most Christians in America we view people who are lacking, who are asking for help, and in need, as being people who have just made bad decisions… scam artists… whatever it might be.

And Jesus reminds us that there are people… due to circumstances that have nothing to do with their decision that will be in constant need in their lives.

A blind person back then was basically a street beggar.  They had no way of caring for themself; they were at complete mercy of the society.

blind person

And so Jesus is showing a heart and care and concern for them.

You know the statistics are alarming… we often think of a homeless person as being someone who just obviously made bad choices in their life.  But the statistics are alarming… I think it’s something like ninety percent of homeless people have some sort of a mental disorder or condition which will never allow them to function as an independent, productive citizen in America.

And Jesus is coming along showing us look there are people who are born with ailments that keep them in a constant state of need. And the Church of Jesus Christ should care about that.  And here he shows up and says… “to restore the sight to the blind”.

And then finally… “to release the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”  And those two go together because they refer to an incident brought up in the Old Testament that refers to the Year of Jubilee.

Year of Jubilee

Some of you maybe have studied this or heard it before, but the year of Jubilee was something that happened every seven years… that God wanted his people to do; and then in a more profound incomplete way every fiftieth year as well.

But this year of Jubilee was like sort of like hitting a reset button.  And it often refered to people’s debts with each other, what they owed each other; it was a way of hitting the reset not only for the forgiveness of sins but then debts among each other… basically saying: “Forgive each other’s debt.  Give people a start over, a do over every seven years in this year of Jubilee.

And it’s tied into the release of the captives because that was one of the ways that many people became slaves… of because again, they didn’t have the money to pay off their debt.  And so they became slaves to the people who they owed money to.

And Jesus says  I care about that situation as well.  Part of my arrival is righting that wrong as well.  The Year of Jubilee is connected with Jesus’s arrival.  Because there’s this canceling of debt, this freedom, this starting over again.

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Friends this is the ministry that Jesus began.  He starts with it… here by quoting Isaiah 61... and he promises to end it some day and to make it totally right.

Some of you remember Revelation 21:3-4… we’ll pull the Scripture up.  Just to show you a picture of what it’s going to be like when Jesus completes his work in this area.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain… none of those things are part of creation; they are all being restored by Jesus…  for the old order of things has passed away.”

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So Jesus has begun this ministry…  and he promises to finish it someday, and I want to ask you as a church as people who consider yourself, if you’re here, and you consider yourself to be a follower of Christ…  What does that mean for your life? 

Do we just sit and celebrate the fact that Jesus cared about people back then, and he’s going to make things right in the future.  Or do we acknowledge the fact that as_followers_of_Christ, He’s handed us the baton in his absence, and is inviting us as the church, to carry on that work in those efforts.
Hands Passing Baton --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisWhat does that mean for us?

When Jesus arrived John the Baptist said, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  The Kingdom of God is at hand.  Meaning… the restoration has begun… the way things that God meant them to be has begun.  And he’s going to come back someday and consummate it.

But until then, you and I are charged with the task of expanding and growing the kingdom of God… not just by telling people that Jesus loves them and died on the Cross for their sins — that’s foundational.

Do not leave Kirkmont if you’re visiting here and think, this church doesn’t believe in that… that is foundational to who we are.  But I’m suggesting it’s not the whole Gospel… that:

… for every wrong that we make right, we expand the kingdom of God.
… for every injustice that we make just, we expand the kingdom of God.

And we have the privilege church, of discussing for the next several weeks, about how God can work through us to expand the kingdom of God, by making those wrongs right.

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For those of you who are in our small groups, and perhaps are continuing on; now that we’ve finished The Prodigal God sermon serious, and perhaps you’re here in a small group in your thinking… “What should we study next?”  By all means you’re welcome to study whatever it is you guys would like to study as a group, for the most part.

But if you’re looking for ideas.. we’ve got a couple books in the back.  One of them is The Hole in the Gospel, that’s back there, but we put a couple other books back there: one of them is called Unfinished,

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and it’s basically picking up on this theme–that Jesus began a ministry, it’s unfinished, and the church is supposed to continue the ministry.  It’s called UNFINISHED and that’s back there for you to take a look at.

And then also another book by David Platt called Radical… taking back your faith from the American dream.

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Both books are very challenging… about our attitude towards the Gospel and social justice, and about our care for those who are need.  And so we want to invite our small groups if you’re looking for a topic to consider one of those books.

Also I want to give you a heads up as to what’s going to be coming in the next few weeks.

We’re going to be looking at our budget a little more closely in discussing some of the things we’re going to be doing.  We’re going to be looking at some of the… I think the biggest players that God is moving in the church in this area, and that is the orphan crisis, human trafficking, and also a crisis in this world with the lack of access for peoples to clean water.

And we’re going to be looking at some of those things, connecting them to the Biblical mandate to care for people, and I want to invite you to continue to be a part of that as we move forward.”


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Pastor Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio 45385
http://www.kirkmont.org/

Kirkmont Cross


Fascinating ADDENDUM: Click link below to read the background story to this picture used above; he is not a homeless man and you’ll be blown away by his story.

GV-HomelessPastor

This Homeless Man is Not a Homeless Man – And You’ll Be Blown Away By His Message!