Our Mission Team made it safely and have started work in Cherokee, North Carolina. To see pictures go to our Gallery at https://www.crossroadspca.net/gallery/
Our Mission Team made it safely and have started work in Cherokee, North Carolina. To see pictures go to our Gallery at https://www.crossroadspca.net/gallery/
12 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. 7 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.”[a] Then he departed and went to another place.
18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.
20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king’s chamberlain,[b] they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king’s country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.
24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.
25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from[c] Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.
The growth of other faiths presents a challenge to traditional faith. Islam, Orthodoxy, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Eastern mysticism and the multiplication of Protestant and Independent groups have transformed this small nation into a melting pot of religious expression. Pray that believers in the Lord Jesus might seek and make use of chances to share the gospel, and help shape the nation according to biblical principles.
Lithuania, Europe: Catholicism retains a crucial role in Lithuanian society, but has not fully emerged from old ways of thinking to embrace its potential for godly influence in society. Pray that the Catholic Church uses its significant influence to draw people to Christ. Only one-sixth of Catholics attend church weekly. Fellowship with and acceptance of other Christian groups must be improved. Several Franciscan, charismatic and evangelical-style networks in the Church bring young leadership, new thinking and fresh spirituality; pray for their further growth. For more information visit Operation World
“What’s in a name?” Juliet asks in Shakespeare’s famous romance. Names are small packages that carry a great deal of freight. For example, consider the name “Christians”? How did we get that name? In Acts 11:19-30 Luke records the story of the disciples in Antioch, when they were first called Christians.
Note that this group was called Christians (11:26). That is, they were given this name by those outside of their own circles. The presence of this group within the public square was thick enough to warrant a label. At the same time, no existing label was sufficient. What other group in Antioch consisted of Jews, Africans, Asians and Syrians from its very onset? What other group in the city submitted to the leadership of Jewish teachers in mainly Greco-Roman gatherings? What other mainly Hellenistic group in the metropolitan area would send resources and funding to Jews in Jerusalem? Most important and unique, however, was the core commitment of its members to this Lord Jesus whom the original adherents had preached. With all the Greeks among its members, one may have expected a core commitment to Lord Caesar. With the Jewish sympathies among them, one may have expected the core commitment to YHWH or maybe even Lord Herod. When it came down to it, there was only one common denominator – a common agreement regarding their need for the grace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
How can we live up to the name “Christians” today? When people meet us as individuals or experience us as a group on Sunday, what name do we elicit? Does our life elicit the label of Christian or are we easily labeled by other groups? Do we transcend the common societal labels such as liberal, religious, progressives, conservatives, environmentalists, etc., etc., etc.?
On Sunday I mentioned several ways that we can seek to make Christ’s grace the defining characteristic of our community. One of them was being willing to learn from those outside of “our city.” Like those Greek converts in Antioch who were willing to be taught by Jews from outside their city, we too can submit to Christians from outside our immediate circles. Specifically, I challenged small group leaders to choose a book in the coming year that comes from outside our time period, nation, denomination, or Reformed tradition. Of course you don’t have to wait for your care group to read one to pick it up yourself. I have listed several below for your consideration.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (4th century, North Africa), Confessions (~300 pages)
Jean Calvin (16th century, France), Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life (short section taken from the Institutes)
Kwame Bediako (Ghana), Jesus in African Culture (compact booklet on the book of Hebrews)
Vinoth Ramachandra (India), Faiths in Conflict? Christian Integrity in a Multicultural World
Samuel Escobar (Peru), The New Global Mission: The Gospel from Everywhere to Everyone
Roland Chia (Indonesia), Hope for the World
Ivan Satravyata (India), Holy Spirit – Giver of Life
11 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order: 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, something like a great sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely, I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ 10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.11 And behold, at that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea.12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If thenGod gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
Ladies of Crossroads come and join us for our monthly get-together on Sunday, July 14th at 6:00p.m.
We will meet at Ruby Tuesday’s on Route 1 in Dumfries.
Chuck and Dawn Assadourian will be hosting the Youth Pool Party at their home (3146 Lookout Point Ct in Triangle). All youth are welcome to come and bring a friend or two. Party will be at 5-9p.m. please bring a side dish to share and a towel.
RSVP to Dawn at 254-394-3974
Comfort is a desirable and good thing to have. Yet, it can easily become the focus of our lives. This has always been the truth. Yet, it is even more so in a society where new products are constantly marketed to consumers demanding greater ease and comfort. Consumer-oriented cultures like ours have to watch out lest we subject Jesus to supply the same sort of demand. That is because Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has always been in the business of discomforting his disciples for the purpose of bringing them better comfort.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the conversion account of Saul, otherwise known as the Apostle Paul, which is repeated three times in Acts (9, 22, 26). Saul’s encounter with Jesus on his way to imprison Christians was not a tranquil, peaceful and easy moment. Jesus brought real discomfort into his life, causing Saul to face up to real yet difficult realities. Yet, Jesus did this wisely and at the precise time that his discomforting presence would have the greatest positive effect. Saul went on to experience greater comfort than he had previously known: God has put on sandals in Jesus and stepped into the abyss for his enemies; Jesus seeks his enemies out to let them know it; Jesus turns his enemies into shining trophies of his love by employing them in his mission. In this case he employed Saul in making Jesus’ severe kindness known throughout the then known world and writing a great deal of the New Testament.
The Jesus of today is the same Jesus of the first century. He still will make us uncomfortable as we relate to him. The discomfort he brings is intended to bring about transformation and ultimate comfort. Yet, if we demand a Jesus that only brings ease, tranquility and a word of peace then we will not be dealing with him as we ought. And we will not grow as we ought. At moments of discomfort or stress we may even be ignoring him as the one who is seeking to encounter us with something we need to pay attention to.
So, may I ask you: where is it most uncomfortable for you to relate to Jesus? When do you most desire to not be associated with him: family, friends, co-workers, online chats? Why does it make you uncomfortable? Where does he want you to grow?
Your discomfort doesn’t surprise him. His grace is sufficient for us all. Let us humble ourselves with him, persevere through the difficulties and he will bring us out shining as a trophy of his mercy.
The featured painting is Thomas Kinkade’s Perseverance.
There are lots of little questions in life. Will I drink hot or iced coffee this morning? Should I turn on my blinkers when there is no one on the road at this hour? Should I put on the blue or the white shorts?
Then there are big questions. The reason they are “big” is because of how much they will chart the course of life. One of those big questions is, “Who am I?”
Who am I? Am I simply a collection of the many parts of my unique life story? Am I defined by my sexuality? By my failures? By my job? By my successes? By my ethnicity? By Christ? Who am I?
This past Sunday we encountered the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road back home from Jerusalem. During that time he met Philip and was converted to Christ. What we noted was that his identity was primarily one who was now a part of the people of God, united to Christ by baptism. His supreme identity is that he is loved by Christ along with all of those who come to Christ by faith.
Yet, we also read many details about this individual. He was ethnically Ethiopian. Sexually and socially he was an eunuch. In the world of work he was a treasurer. Politically he worked in the Ethiopian ruling court. Religiously he was a worshipper of YHWH, Israel’s God. By the end of Acts 8 he was still a worshipper of YHWH but now as he had freshly revealed himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit through the recent redemptive events witnessed to him by Philip. All of these details included about the Ethiopian serve to teach us that we still retain many important secondary identities as Christians. God wants us to enjoy and appreciate the multi-faceted ways he has created us. He also wants us to reflect upon our stories and experiences in light of our ultimate identity in Christ. We bring our secondary identities as gifts to Christ, asking him to mold them and use them for the sake of his reputation and the good of others.
If you are asking the question “Who am I?” you can answer “Jesus loves me”. The real Jesus, resurrected 2000 years ago, really loved the real me. He dominates my identity but does not extinguish me.
Questions for Conversation
What are your secondary identities (ethnically, politically, socially, etc.)?
Have you ever felt like they do not matter to Jesus or your discipleship?
What aspect of your identity most needs to be brought into the presence of Jesus? How might Jesus want to mold it? Use it? Sacrifice it?
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