Engage Community Church

Author: engageharco

Who Are You Listening To?

                The team of teenagers had gone out on the streets of Toronto with a sense of excitement and hope. They would be on the front lines, meeting people who were homeless and hopeless and making a difference for Jesus. There was a real sense of expectation that was fueled by an evangelistic fire born of youthful exuberance and heartfelt belief. Today was a day they would make a difference.

It wasn’t long until they saw him. He was sitting there, dirty and sullen, his face aged by life on the streets. Here was a man who needed Jesus. Here was a man who they could reach out to. So they sat down beside him and began.

“Hi, what’s your name?” “Sebastian.”, came the reply. “Hi Sebastian, I’m Katie and this is Tim and Stephanie.” “You’re Christians, aren’t you?”, Sebastian interrupted. “Why yes, we are!” said Katie, “How did you know?”  “Because Christians are always talking”.

The story above is true. A friend of mine, Brian Matherlee, took a group of teens to Toronto on a short-term missions trip and they returned with a lesson they never considered before going. It was a lesson we all need to learn.

Often in our desire to win the world, we neglect to take time to hear them. We know what they need! They need Jesus! But what they need more than anything is someone to listen. They need someone to care, someone to treat them as a human being with hurts, hopes, dreams and nightmares. Yes, Jesus is the answer, but what we need is to know the question.

Sometimes we treat the lost as a target, an objective or a number. This often betrays our need for evangelistic success. The need to feel as if we’ve made a difference. Unfortunately, this is not what we have been called to do.  We have been called to love and serve the least of these. The first step is to listen to them like Jesus does. Then and only then can we hope to give them the answer.

The Bible tells us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. Who are you listening to?

Pastor Evan

Forgotten God?

                A decade ago, Francis Chan wrote a book entitled, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit. The point of the book is summed up in the following quote from his introduction:
                  
                  “While no evangelical would deny His existence, I’m willing to bet that there are millions of
                     churchgoers across America who cannot confidently say they have experiences His presence
                     or action in their lives over the past year. And many of them do not believe they can.”

                Chan goes on to discuss the way the church has left behind a reliance on the Holy Spirit. We effectively have removed Him from the Trinity and perhaps even have replaced the worship of God in three persons with a worship of possibly the Son alone. Practically, we are no longer orthodox in our understanding, teaching, and living when it comes to how we follow and experience the triune God of the Bible.

                In our technologically advanced world, it is easy to rely on only what we can see and explain. In fact, the common knowledge of our day screams that if something is not scientifically quantifiable, then it does not exist. Therefore, the God of the Bible and especially the Holy Spirit is relegated to myth; the feeble attempts of ages gone by to make sense of a world they could not empirically define or understand. Unfortunately, while we talk about the Holy Spirit, we lived much more in line with the prevalent ethos of our scientific world than we do in line with the Church we read about in the New Testament.

                When we read about the Church in the New Testament, we see miracles performed and lives and hearts changed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Things happened that could not be explained in any other way. Common, ordinary men do great things and the message of the Gospel floods the known world in just a couple of decades without the benefit of modern communications like social media, cables news, and internet marketing. Yet we are often at a loss to know how to reach the person next door. Could it be that we have forgotten the Holy Spirit?
               
              The songs we sing focus mostly on Jesus and what He DID for us. This is great, but are we asking
the Holy Spirit what He wants to DO in and through us? Are we content to celebrate the completed work of Christ, or are we desiring to do the continuing work of God through the leading and power of the Holy Spirit? Are we happy to wonder what God’s will is for our life, or are we desperate to know and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in the next 10 minutes?

                June 19th is Pentecost Sunday. We will be celebrating the coming of the Spirit of God. Jesus promised that He would send the Spirit and that He would comfort us, empower us, and guide us in all truth. It is my desire that we would seek, listen for, depend on, obey, and experience the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of our Church in the coming months. We certainly can continue to hold weekly gatherings and to be a church on paper, but the success of Engage in being what God calls us be – our very existence – depends on the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in our midst and through our lives.

Pastor Evan

The Problem of Illiteracy


None of us would argue that it is okay for someone to spend their lives unable to read or write. We understand the challenges that being illiterate present for a person. Studies have shown that those who are unable to read or write generally have lower paying jobs, more periods of unemployment, lower self-esteem, greater instances of generational poverty, and a lower quality of life and health.
The power of literacy has long been known and understood. For this very reason, slaves in the United States were forbidden to learn to read or write and anyone helping them to do so could be criminally prosecuted. Knowledge is power and if you want to remain in power, you will keep others from gaining access through literacy.

We understand these truths and want our children to learn these important skills. We want them to be able to learn and grow and engage society empowered by knowledge. We give them access to education and to books, and other sources of knowledge so they can get ahead in life and not be taken advantage of due to ignorance. Why then do we forget this truth when it comes to our spiritual lives?

               A Lifeway Resources Survey revealed that among evangelical believers who attend church regularly, only 1 in 5 said they read their Bible daily. Less than half read it more than once a week. 40% said that they read it maybe once or twice a month. Again, 1 in 5, said they never read it.

              For the Church, Biblical illiteracy is a big problem. It is no wonder that the Church is beginning to leave behind Biblical truth and to be swept away by a rising tide of cultural moral relevance. The truth is that just as illiteracy leads to a poverty and struggle, and keeps people in bondage, Biblical illiteracy has the same effect on a person’s spiritual life. People who don’t know and read their Bibles will be spiritually poor, ignorant, and slaves to the spiritually evil powers of this world.

            The Bible reveals God and His will to us. In its pages, we read words of truth that bring life and freedom. The Bible contains all we need to grow in the knowledge and grace of God. We are promised that the Holy Spirit will guide us in all truth as we read and consider God’s word. We will be able to test the messages of the world around us to see if they are from God or the enemy. The
Bible contains words of life.

               Take a moment to consider your literacy level. Where are you in regard to Biblical literacy?

We have more options and opportunities than ever before to read, study, learn, and live the Word of God. And yet, we take so little advantage of the abundance of resources we have. Meanwhile, there are people around the world today who desire to have access to the Bible, but who are prevented by law and other barriers from having it. In the past, many men and women have literally given their lives so that people can have access to the Bible in their own language. They believed that it was worth trading their lives so that others could hold the Gospel in their hands and receive its blessings.

             May we, as a church, grow in our desire for the knowledge, truth, and grace that comes through God’s Word. May we not take for granted the access we have, but take advantage of it to grow in spiritual strength, wisdom, knowledge and be equipped for every good work.

Pastor Evan

Live a Death Defying Life

More and more people are living longer and longer. Due to technological, environmental, and medical advancements and treatments, the global life expectancy has risen by 5 and ½ years since 2000.
In a recent Pew survey, almost 70% of American adults said they wanted live to be 100 years old.

The desire to cheat death or at least hold it at bay has been a human pursuit for probably just about as long as there have been humans. It was the search for the fountain of youth that motivated explorers to sail west and Crusaders and others to search for the holy grail.

What is it about death that makes people shudder in fear? For some, it is the fear of the unknown. What will it be like? Will it hurt? For others, it is the fear of being alone, or of suffering, or of what they will miss out on. Still others can’t imagine a world without them in it!

When we look to Scripture, death is seen as the result of sin. When sin entered the world, so too did death and suffering and separation from our Creator. This is the ultimate reality of death, that we would be separated from and punished for our rebellion against God. Scripture tells us that hell is a very real place and that it is a place of eternal torment and destruction. It is a just wage for treason against the Lord.

But God did not create humanity for this. He made us in his own image and called us good. It was the enemy that crept in and put us on the road to perdition. The enemy has sought to steal, kill and destroy us from the beginning. He knows that God loves people and he wants to hurt God by convincing us that we are the masters of our own lives and futures. And we follow his advice willingly. But still, we fear death. It’s as if we know the enemy is lying to us all along. What are we to do?

For those who are in Christ, death is no longer something to be feared. Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, satisfying the wrath of God, we have hope. Because Jesus was raised to life, we too know that death is not the end. We are promised eternal life, reunited with our Creator and Father. Once again, we can know him and see him face to face as we were designed.

Because of the empty tomb, we no longer need to fear death. As
Paul wrote, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor.15:54-57)

May we live death defying lives that boldly proclaim the victory we have in Christ that robs the grave and brings eternal joy and peace.

Pastor Evan