March 9

I know you continue to watch and pray for the situation in Ukraine. We have hundreds of children, translators, and others that we have worked with in this beautiful country that is now being pulled apart. Please continue to pray for Ukraine. Pray that whatever the government looks like when this is all over with that the gospel will continue to flourish, because that is exactly what it’s been doing. Here are a couple of number that offer some proof of that from Eastern European Mission, whom we partner with in the Summer Youth Camp work.

2,145

452,395

2,145 public schools and their 452,395 students now have access to the Bible in their language and will be studying it in their schools! What’s more, many of these children have had and others will have the opportunity to see those Bible lessons and stories lived out and taught to them in person by the great work of the Summer Youth Camp program, which includes our Team Imagine.

Yes, continue to pray for these children, and our adult friends there in Ukraine. For those of us who have been on these trips, these beautiful people are like our own children. Our hearts break for them and what is happening in their homeland, yet we continue to hold out the hope and expectation that God’s love and God’s Word will continue to be shared in this great country.

In our upcoming sermons we are continuing our look at the church as the body of Christ. Perhaps more specifically we are considering what a healthy body of Christ looks and acts like. In our lessons and our Shepherd Group discussions we are using a resource by Thom Rainer entitled, I Am a Church Member. In this little book he shares six aspects or “pledges” that every church member should be committed to fulfilling in our own lives. These are affirmations of what exactly a healthy church member looks and acts like. The two that we will focus on next are:

I will pray for my church leaders.”

I will not let the church be about my preferences and desires.”

This second one is the only one of the six that is stated negatively, that is actually an affirmation of something we pledge not to do. Does it surprise you that this last one is on the list? It does me. And yet it doesn’t.

It surprises me because there is so very much written in Scripture that calls us out of the selfish, me-centered attitude that is condemned in this statement. And yet it doesn’t surprise me, because it is one of the biggest problems we have in living faithfully each day, and interacting with each other through the lens of the love of Christ. I hope that you will be a part of these discussions as we remind ourselves that to be Christ’s disciple, we must deny ourselves (not demand our way); we must take up our crosses daily (in other words sacrifice ourselves rather than calling on others to sacrifice); and follow Christ. I’m pretty sure that whole coming to earth and dying on the cross thing was not about His preferences or desires.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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