Hands of Hope

The Offering

Why would Parkwood receive a Hands of Hope Offering? Parkwood supports Hands of Hope because the church loves God and because He has given the church a corresponding love for people. Consider the need just within Gaston County. With May being National Foster Care Awareness Month, a DHHS representative announced, “At the end of April we had 273 children in foster care but only 49 licensed homes.” A desperate need is clearly communicated in these numbers. Temporary foster homes and permanent adoptive homes are needed. Parkwood wants to help address this need through promoting adoption and giving to Hands of Hope because a love for God drives us to express His love toward His children, to love and help all people but especially children in need. If the church is comfortable defining her existence as the body and bride of Christ, then she must act in accordance with love in general and His love for the poor and helpless of the world in particular. Love for God cannot be expressionless; it must be expressed. The Hands of Hope is one way that Parkwood expresses her love in the midst of an otherwise hopeless situation. 

Adoption and the Gospel

The basic reality is that the church understands adoption with more depth than the world. Of course many in the world would be struck with the desperate need in the numbers shared above, and I certainly do not intend to insinuate that those outside the church would be without pity. Children in need often evoke compassion from Christians and nonChristians alike. The church, though, does not simply understand adoption in the context of empathy toward children. The church is comprised of those who have been adopted themselves. The redeemed see the fatherless in the context of the gospel and adoption in the context of those once far from the Heavenly Father being brought near. Every child of God has once been fatherless and known the excitement and joy of being made part of the family. 

Adoption Video

Application of the Truth

Members of Parkwood are encouraged to respond. Would you give to the Hands of Hope Offering? Give to adoption; give to spur others to adoption. Consider what you might give out of the resources the Father has given you. Your gift could make a difference in the lives of adoptive parents, and your gift could make a difference in the lives of children, once orphaned, who are now beloved sons and daughters in a loving family. 

Or you could respond in a much more tangible manner. You could adopt. No doubt this is the more drastic and life-altering option. Adoption is not for everyone, and it’s not for every place in life, but it might be for you. I would imagine that most people don’t adopt because most people don’t consider adopting. Would you at least consider adoption. You might consider adoption and conclude it’s not for you or not for you at this time, but you might consider it and find one of the greatest blessings of your life and one of the clearest demonstrations of the gospel. Whether you adopt or whether you give, let us be a people who live and proclaim the gospel with articulate words and winsome lives. 

Why Do We Place Such a High Value on Growth Groups?

Why we place such a high value on Growth Groups…

The purpose of Parkwood Baptist Church is to glorify God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people(s). The watershed of this purpose statement is the growth of all believers. Magnifying the glory of God is, of course, the ultimate purpose for any local body called by his name, and so we labor together to that end. Yet our laboring together would be in vain if we are not going with the gospel to our neighbors and to the nations. A people seeking to glorify God while not proclaiming his gospel are likely working for their own kingdom rather than the kingdom of God. We must then help all believers to grow so they will not build their kingdom but go with the gospel to all people(s). The growth of all believers is therefore a hinge in the purpose statement that determines whether we will indeed magnify God’s glory by sharing his gospel. In an effort to labor together for the growth of all believers and to communicate our desire to fulfill this purpose, we call our small group gatherings “growth groups.” The name is intentional and clearly implies our desire for these groups to be a place for gospel growth so that our laboring together might be profitable in the economy of God.

The gospel, the good news of the saving work of God through Jesus Christ, serves as the center of our lives and ministry together. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).  Accordingly, a group gathered without Christ as the center ultimately accomplishes nothing. Unless we constantly orient our lives together to the gospel, we will elevate certain aspects of our groups to unhealthy places and inadvertently miss the goal of growing believers who will go with the gospel. We must remain unswervingly committed to the following growth group principles that we might keep Christ central in every way.

Gospel-Centered Growth

Colossians 1:28: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”

We gather in our groups to study the gospel of God revealed in the Word of God, the Bible. Each week, we dive into the Scripture personally, then together, to offer insight and application so that we may see every member of the group grow in Christ. A group gathered without the clarity, sufficiency, and authority of Scripture being brought to bear both in our individual lives and in our community will quickly drift to an emphasis far from the desire of God to see everyone mature in Christ. Our desire must not be for our growth only but for the growth of every member of our group, remembering Ephesians 4:15: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…” and Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Gospel-Centered Community

John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The gospel of Christ reveals both His love for us and the basis of our love for one another. The gospel meets a basic emotional need. Everyone wants to be loved unconditionally and sacrificially. Ironically, no one is worthy of being loved, or interested in giving love for that matter. The gospel, though, intersects our life at this point of need as Christ loves the unloved and the unlovely. Consistent with his love for us is the command to love others just as he has loved us. Christ compels us to live life together in humility, patience, love, and forgiveness. This love for one another is not only for the benefit of the one being loved but also for those observing outside the community. When we share gospel community together, people see the gospel displayed among us and through us. In gospel community we are at once responsive to God’s loving us, obedient to God’s command to love others, and a witness to the redemption he has wrought within us.

Gospel-Centered Ministry

Matthew 25:40: “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

Consistent with the expectation to love one another, gospel-centered community serves others in gospel-centered ministry. Jesus, speaking about the judgment, separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep are invited to come and to inherit the kingdom but the goats rejected and cursed on the basis of whether or not they served others. Jesus spoke sharply to those who did not demonstrate the gospel in ministry, explaining that whatever they did or did not do – food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, welcome to the stranger, clothes to the naked, visit and support to the sick and imprisoned – they actually did or did not do for Jesus. To the same extent that we choose to serve or to ignore others, we choose to serve or ignore Jesus. Likewise, we must serve others to the same degree that we claim to love, live, and surrender to our Savior. Sharing in gospel-centered ministry together provides opportunity and accountability to serve Jesus by serving others.

Gospel-Centered Multiplication

Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Gospel-centered multiplication is the logical and biblical end of laboring together for the growth of all believers. Maturing believers make disciples, not only because discipleship is what they do but also because fishers of men is who they are (Matthew 4:19). Jesus calls his followers to be disciples and to make disciples. In fact, the Christian without a desire to reach the lost with the gospel is an anomaly. Disciples make disciples. They share the life-giving gospel with the spiritually dead resulting in the birth of new disciples. Gathering disciples into groups results in the birth of new groups. Gospel-centered disciples make disciples, and gospel-centered growth groups reproduce gospel-centered growth groups. And so it follows that multiplication must characterize our groups if they are indeed to be called growth groups.
Parkwood desires to glorify God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people(s). Inasmuch as this goal identifies the purpose of the church corporately, it identifies every member’s purpose individually. Glorifying God, laboring together, growing, going, are not merely owned by the leadership or the spiritual elite, but these elements of purpose are the responsibility of every person in the body of Christ. Will you unite with us to glorify God by laboring together for the growth of all believers while going with the gospel to all people(s)? Let me encourage you to join a growth group if you’re not already part of one. And let’s resolve together to ground our growth groups in gospel-centered growth, community, ministry, and multiplication.

Abortion, a Gospel Issue

One of the more disturbing moments concerning the abortion battle took place this summer at the Texas State Capital.  As pro-life supporters were singing “Amazing Grace,” pro-choice advocates began to chant, “Hail Satan” in an attempt to drown them out.  Much could be said about this chilling moment on this particular front of the spiritual battle that rages in our culture.  I would like for you to consider what is really at play in the abortion issue and where we need to look for the ultimate solution.

I am sure that most of those chanting loudly gave little thought to what they were doing.  Likely, they quickly made sure to make it known that they were not Satanists.  Yet, the chanting of their mouths reveals the core of this matter.  At the center of the abortion issue, sinful hearts are what drive pro-abortion politicians and advocates, abortion clinics, and personal decisions to abort.  Sadly, sinful hearts drive some pro-life advocates to speak inappropriately, practice underhanded politics, and perform acts that are contrary to the very tenets they claim to believe.  As a result, we share the same need– the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am not siding with those who say that Christians need to avoid the political issue of abortion and get to the work of the Gospel.  I am saying that we need to get to the work of the Gospel and bring it to bear in all of life and culture, including the matter of abortion.

We must continue to stand against abortion in the public arena with clear Biblical convictions.  We must continue to see men and women, cut from the cloth of William Wilberforce, stand against moral evil by taking up public office and bringing the Gospel to bear.

We must continue to support the work of Christ-centered, Crisis Pregnancy Centers with our resources and time.  Thank God that our local CPC is dedicated to sharing the Gospel with each client while offering continued resources, support, and love regardless of their response.

We must continue to share the hope of Christ’s forgiveness for the broken post-abortive woman, the crushed boyfriend or husband who convinced her, the secretly shamed, insisting parent or grandparent, and the empty doctor or nurse who has performed or assisted in countless murders.

A culture of death needs life.  Jesus said in John 10:10-11 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (ESV)  For the culture of death to have life, Jesus died.  He laid down his life for the sins of mankind, including abortion.  As a result, we must be careful as believers to courageously expose the lies and destruction of the thief by working for an end to abortion while courageously and compassionately proclaiming the Good News of life to those who are caught in the clutches of death.  May our voices rise above the noise and chants with the life-giving message of amazing grace.