Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Day, New Thing, New Life

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19, ESV

Sunday was a great day for our church family! It was exciting for all of us to be on the same schedule as we worshipped together. There was also a little anxiety as we started a new schedule of worship at 9:00 a.m. and Connect Group Bible study at 10:30 a.m. Change is always a bit of a challenge, but I think all went well for “new day” for us. New beginnings are good opportunities for us to be stretched and challenged. I am praying that God will “stretch” us and continue to make us into the church He wants us to be. It’s also a perfect time for you to invite someone to join you for worship and in your Connect Group. It may be someone you have not seen at church in a while. It may be someone who simply isn’t connected to a church anywhere. A schedule change has got to be so much more than just a different time. Our purpose in this is to help create an excitement among us that compels us to invite people to join us at church. I want this to help us to reconnect with guests who visit with us. I want us to purposefully move from the large group setting to smaller groups as we encourage one another to study God’s Word. I want us to take what God teaches us on Sundays and let that impact us every day throughout the week. My prayer for you, and for us as a church family, is that the joy of our salvation and our excitement about Jesus will overflow so that others can’t help but notice. Who will hear about Jesus through you this week? Some will be astonished and have questions, some will be offended, some will believe, and some will not (Mark 6). But the main question is, will they hear about Jesus from me?

Let’s let God do a new thing among us! And when we allow Him to do that, God says He will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. There are people in your life who need to find God’s way in their wilderness. There are people who feel like they are dried up like a desert. God’s Living Water will bring life to them. Will we let God work through us and do a new thing in us? Let’s determine to make Sundays a new beginning every week and in doing so let’s show others the way to new life.

Pastor Durwin

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Starting Line

For the past two and a half weeks the world has been watching the 2018 Winter Olympic Games from South Korea. It all started with opening ceremony marked with the triumphant entrance of every country’s Olympic athletes. The fact that each athlete is there is worthy of celebration. But what if, after the triumphant arrival at the games, an athlete decided not to show up for his or her event, saying, “I’ve made it to the Olympics; there’s nothing else I need to do.” Or what if after the start of a race an athlete ran – or skied – a few feet then started celebrating with no more thought about the finish line? It sounds kind of ridiculous. We know that just getting to the event is not really the goal. Just starting the race is not the goal. One must complete what he or she came for.

I think, as followers of Jesus, we have confused the starting line for the finish line. We celebrate salvation decisions and baptisms, and rightly so! It is an incredible thing to celebrate with one who has heard and answered the call to follow Jesus. But for the most part in Christian life today, we focus nearly exclusively on that salvation decision. So much so that we have forgotten that the real work begins after salvation. Saying “yes” to Jesus is the starting line. That starting line is the beginning of an exciting and challenging life of learning to obey all that Jesus commanded us.
Every athletic event is measured by a score of some sort. Sometimes it is about how many points are scored; sometimes it is how fast the athlete completes the course, or how far they run or slide or fly! (Sometimes it is about sliding a giant rock very slowly on the ice while someone sweeps or mops, but we’ll have to figure that one out later!) All that to say that our church “scorecard” has been about celebrating the starting line and we have neglected the race called disciple-making.

Maybe instead of asking how many decisions have been made, we should be asking questions like these:
  1. Do I see everyday life as my mission field to make disciples?
  2. To whom am I accountable as a disciple-maker?
  3. Am I reproducing the life of Christ in others?
  4. Am I living in biblical community?
  5. Am I studying, learning, and applying the Word of God daily?

God is challenging us to run the race. That includes sharing our faith and inviting people to put their faith in Jesus, but for those new believers, that is the starting line. Now their race begins and our race continues as we run alongside them, helping them follow Jesus. Now we have become disciple-makers and we are teaching our brother and sister in Christ to also become disciple-makers! This is the race which we have entered. For the vast majority of believers in Jesus, we have crossed the starting line and celebrated, not realizing we haven’t really begun to do what we are called to do. We haven’t really begun to run the race.

I want to challenge you to consider a new scorecard and keep running the race: See your mission field; find someone to help you and hold you accountable; help someone else to live for Jesus; spend time with fellow believers, not only on Sundays, but day to day; make God’s Word an indispensable part of every day. Salvation is the starting line. Learning to become disciple-makers is the real race. As exciting as it is to enter the race, just wait to see what it is like to finish!

Pastor Durwin
Hebrews 12:1

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016: The Year in Review

Here we are in December! We’re in the midst of preparing for and celebrating Christmas. But my mind is already going toward 2017 and at the same time, looking back and remembering 2016. This year gets a mixed review. A lot of good things – very good things – happened in 2016…and a few not so good things. God doesn’t promise that all will be easy. But He does promise to be with us and see us through every experience. In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (ESV). Even when we go through tough things, even harmful things, God promises his children that He is with us, and nothing surprises Him!

Here at Marshfield First Baptist, we have had a year of growing stronger. “Stronger” has been our theme for the year. I pray that we have, in fact, grown stronger; stronger prayer lives, stronger faith, stronger families, stronger as disciples of Jesus. I believe that simply having an overarching theme like “Stronger” has given us some greater unity and cohesiveness. We saw several individuals choose to follow Jesus and be baptized! They joined in on this journey with us as we follow Jesus together – a journey where we have grown stronger. And we’re not finished growing stronger. It’s a lifelong endeavor!

Before the beginning of the year, our ministry staff prayed together as we planned to go on this “Stronger” journey. As we prayed, we realized that there would be some challenges to getting stronger. In fact, the very desire to be stronger means one has to face challenges and be pushed farther than before, even farther than you thought you could go, or farther than you wanted to go. We have experienced some of that. Early in the year, over a period of about nine weeks we walked with several families in our church as they experienced the death of loved ones. Many of those had followed Jesus for decades and lived a full life of honoring God. One in particular was in the prime of life, impacting many for Christ, and yet his days on earth were suddenly over. Chris Lorenz’ funeral was one of the most uplifting worship services I’ve ever been a part of! His testimony is still impacting people!

On a personal level, 2016 marked my third trip to Israel to be involved in a new love: archaeological digs with a group called Associates for Biblical Research. And in another week I’ll be back in Israel with them to finish out the year. I love being in the land of the Bible, learning more and seeing the archaeological evidence of what Scripture says. But ten days after returning from Israel, I had a new and not so welcomed experience – an unexpected and unexplained cardiac event in which my heart stopped for 48 seconds. God had me in the presence of a trained paramedic who saved my life! A few weeks of recovery and learning to deal with stress in some new and better ways and I feel stronger (speaking of stronger) than ever! God spoke to me through that episode and is still teaching me about the urgency of honoring and obeying Him with every part of life. And in June while I was recovering, my sister and her family moved in with us as she received more cancer treatment. They came back to the States from Canada where they had been serving the Lord. In September Deidre went to be with the Lord. It was a painful time, but through all of that, God has shown His great love and mercy, to my brother-in-law and the kids, and to my family through a very strong and caring church! It is gratifying and humbling to be on the receiving end of ministry. I am so very thankful for Marshfield First Baptist! In the midst of these challenges, two incredible blessings arrived in the form of our second and third grandchildren, Theo and Liberty, who add so much joy to our growing family!

Not only does God say “I know the plans I have for you…” but He also says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, ESV). Being stronger means being stretched, being challenged, and even being tired; but it also means God equips us to keep walking with Him. He gives us the strength to do what He has created us to do! God has an amazing way of turning weakness into strength. The Apostle Paul said it like this: “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV).

2016 has been a year of growing stronger with our church family as we have worshipped together, studied the Word together, and served together. Growth has also come through things we would have never chosen, but that is really where the growth comes. We don’t get stronger without resistance and discipline and learning to trust God through all of it! How have you grown stronger this year?

(First published at www.MarshfieldFirst.org)