4 Ways to Use the Holiday Season to Glorify God

Tradition is not sinful; in fact, it is often helpful. We must consider tradition a servant rather than master. David Crabb explains our traditions should “exist to serve the ministry of the Gospel, not the other way around.” We all have or have had traditions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. So now, let us “work-shop” traditions to “serve the ministry of the Gospel,” instead of allowing tradition to dictate our holiday bustle. Think about these 4 challenges alongside any tradition you may have.

  1. Invite those with little or no family to join yours. Everyone has a different home life and family culture. Some people cannot imagine enjoying a Thanksgiving spread without their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, while others cannot remember such a gathering. Is there a person in your Growth Group or office that you ought to move towards? Think about the new neighbors who just moved in across the street or the new person in the break room. Keep in mind holidays magnify loneliness and hurt, so invite them to join holidays with your family.  A sincere invitation can be the “ministry of the Gospel” most needed.
  2. Strategically disciple at gatherings. Can you think of one family member you don’t want any of your friends (especially from church) to meet? Mark Dever states in Discipling, “Discipling requires you to be willing to be watched, and then folding people into your life so that they actually do watch.” Don’t let your family hinder your obedience to make disciples. Invite them to join holidays with your family. Let them see how you deal with all the scenarios that arise when your family, large or small, gathers. Bringing your spiritual family around your earthly family will benefit both. [Read more…]

Sorrowful, yet Rejoicing

2 Corinthians 6:2-4, 10a 2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.“  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: … 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…

As I watch and listen to the followers of Christ, I sense that many share the inner struggle that repeatedly pulls at me as I think about election day and the future of the U.S.  I admit that I have moments that border on despair as I ponder on what looks like a dead end road.  Other times my heart fills with great hope.  I have searched the Scripture for answers as to how to respond and walk in faithfulness.  2 Corinthians 6 continues to encourage my heart and give light for what lies ahead.  As I observe the now and consider the future, I find my heart both sorrowful and rejoicing.  

  • I am sorrowful that the two main presidential candidates represent impropriety, situational ethics, and a vindictive spirit.  My heart grieves that the nation has to choose between people who obviously lack character.  As a result, one can only conclude that character does not matter for most Americans…disheartening.
  • I am sorrowful that North Carolina has become the battleground for what appears to be a win/lose situation for the transgender bathroom issue.  How has a state in the heart of what was once the Bible Belt become a tipping point on the issue of whether we are male and female?  With a grieving heart, I confess that we are clearly exchanging the Truth of God for a lie.  (I hope that the presidential confusion does not overshadow this important issue on election day.)
  • I am sorrowful that the people of God have attacked one another over the issues surrounding this election.  Brothers and sisters, we of all people should be able to show a divided nation how to disagree and have civil debate without turning on one another and giving into name calling.  

However… [Read more…]

Why Parkwood Does Fall Festival

Typically, only those familiar with European or Church History see October 31st to be Reformation Day, a day Protestants reflect as paramount to their history. Take out this small minority, and the rest of our community has spent weeks gearing up for Halloween, a child’s candy-dream come true and a night of promiscuity for many.

Halloween is the one night Christians have collectively learned to neglect our neighbors by hunkering down in our homes, turning off our lights, and having a quiet evening to ourselves. George Robinson, in an article you ought to read, says of Halloween that it “is the only night of the year in our culture where lost people actually go door-to-door to saved people’s homes.” I suggest that lost people do not go to saved people’s homes, but they would! Trick-or-treaters know which doors are prepared for them, and as Ed Stetzer puts it, “You can meet more neighbors tonight—in one night—than any other day of the year” if we are prepared.

Although there has been a stronghold of Christianity in Gastonia and our region, we must view Halloween and other holidays evangelistically and missionally. Consider applying the framework of Matthew 5:14-16 to your Halloween witness. Don’t confine the Gospel message to a dimmed living room. Halloween makes evangelism as convenient as walking to your doorstep prepared to speak with boldness and love.
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Praying & Fasting

On Wednesday, October 26th, all Parkwood campuses will meet together at our Gastonia campus at 6:30pm for a specific prayer service. Wednesday’s gathering will have a dual focus: our nation and the nations. You can download the prayer guide or grab one at your campus.

 

To grasp why and how Christians ought to fast, read this previous blog and this one. These blogs include explanations and further resources on understanding how fasting and fervent prayer go hand-in-hand.

 

Every time we gather for these nights of prayer and fasting, thoughts of Acts 13 come to mind as your pastors have prayed God will “set apart for himself” individuals to be sent by Parkwood. This time of prayer will be focused on our region, America, Unreached Places and People, and Central Asia.

 

The Greater Charlotte region and North Carolina have been under much national scrutiny in 2016. The NBA, NCAA, and ACC are a few of the notable groups in sports who have been pressured to move important games out of the state. HB2 and Governor Pat McCrory have been the crux of the statements. Even the New York Governor banned “non-essential travel” to our state. Whether you’ve realized it or not, the left wing agenda has attempted to make NC laws on gender identification more liberal than France’s. While all of these things are going on, we must also keep the local advancement of the Gospel on the forefront of our minds. Parkwood must care deeply about families in our area, those in our congregation or not. We must care for those in our Growth Groups and office buildings alike. In light of the recent uptown Charlotte protests, we need to ask the question: how can the Church be as diverse on Earth as it will be in Heaven? These are tasks that necessitate ongoing prayer.

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