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…]

Ministry in the Family

Teach Your Children Christ

God designed the home for ministry. This is a fact that can be easily overlooked as families set about the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The kids need to get to this event, mom has this meeting, dad is running late from work. The struggles never seem to cease. Even when the family is collected all together, it can be a temptation for mom and dad to simply let them be. A quiet, or occupied household can often be a treasured treat. And yet, the Lord tells us that the home is for more than just running errands, making it to practice, doing chores, etc. The Lord created the home for intimate, gospel-centered ministry. Read these words about parenting…

...that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:2-7)

From this text, we need to see three things. [Read more…]

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. 

Update on Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday

As a church we recognize Orphan Sunday in November. What does this designation mean? If we’re not careful, observing Orphan Sunday becomes the Sunday, distinct from all other Sundays, that we mention orphans, announce the need among them, and mourn the fact that so many children are left alone and destitute. And if we’re not careful, our responsibility is perceived fulfilled in commemorating a day known as Orphan Sunday. Jesus calls to more than commemoration. He calls us to action, and he calls us to act specifically on behalf of orphans and widows.
Why Orphan Care?

Orphan Care explains and demonstrates the gospel. Caring for the orphaned is at least an obedience issue and at most a gospel issue. It is first an obedience issue because the people of God are called to care for the orphan from the beginning of Christian Scripture. Directive is given to avoid mistreating them in Exodus 22:22-24; to seek justice for the fatherless in Deuteronomy 27:19 and Isaiah 1:17; to protect, provide, and care for orphans in Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 24:17-22, and Zechariah 7:10; and to help and support the fatherless in James 1:27. God is not simply the Lawgiver on behalf of the orphan yet divinely distant. God the Father is identifying himself Father of the fatherless in Psalm 68:5; seeking justice for the orphan in Deuteronomy 10:18; upholding the fatherless in Psalm 146:9; and receiving those forsaken by father and mother in Psalm 27:10.
Caring for the orphan is most significantly, though, a gospel issue. It is a portrait of the gospel repeatedly painted by Jesus and writers of the New Testament. We, who are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), are at first no part of the heavenly Father’s family but reckoned as orphans. Jesus, not received by his own people, welcomed those who did receive him and gave them the right to become children of God (John 1:11-12). Paul uses adoption language as well in multiple books, perhaps most clearly picturing the gospel as adoption in Galatians 4:4-7. These verses clearly illustrate the gospel as adoption when Paul writes, “God sent forth his Son… to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Adoption, so closely tied to the gospel, demands that orphan care is a gospel issue. As Jesus said to his disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

Your Response

I was delighted to see how you responded on that Sunday to the call to orphan care, particularly through the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) ministry. A number of people expressed interest and asked questions about how they could help. Seven families took their action a step further and signed up for Hands of Hope. And over fifty people signed up expressing interest in the GAL program. We’re bringing the GAL training to Parkwood through our Equip classes to make it even easier for you to follow through in caring for these orphans that are in desperate need of your care and concern. You can express your interest in GAL training that begins January 6, 2016 by completing this form on our website. Foster Care training will also be available beginning on that date.
Call to Continued Care

Parkwood responded on Orphan Sunday, but our job is not finished. If you expressed an interest in GAL, Hands of Hope, or some other form of orphan care, I encourage you to follow through with action. As John encourages us, “let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1John 3:18). If you did not express interest, consider what God may have you do in obedience to his command to care for orphans or to display his gospel to a world that did not receive him. It is not acceptable that so many children are without father and mother and so many are abused and mistreated. Remember, God is aware of this tragic problem, and he has a solution. He has called his family to be family to those without a family. Indeed, how can we assume that we have fulfilled our responsibility to the orphan by commemorating a single day of the year? Orphan care clearly implicates how we personally obey our heavenly Father as well as how we understand and communicate his gospel. Let us so love the world not only in word or talk but in deed and in truth.