Love in the Face of Evil

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I woke up this morning to the same notifications on my phone that you did..."mass shooting"..."58 dead"..."over 200 injured". My heart sank as I read more of what transpired over night at a concert in Las Vegas. My gut reaction was "how much more Lord Jesus can we take?". It is easy when faced with the brokenness of this world, especially as seen in tragedy, to ask that question. How much can we take? How much pain? How much crisis? 

Today we are asking that question, and it is ok to ask it. Today we grieve with those families that have lost loved ones, and it is right to grieve with them. Today we are angry at evil, and it is understandable. We want to do whatever we can to eliminate evil acts, and those that would commit them. I remember in the days following 9/11 thinking things like, "Lets just bomb all of those that don't like us, at least we will limit these heinous acts!" We want justice, we want retribution, we want things to be set right. In the face of evil we are reminded that this world isn't as it should be, and we want things fixed, evil eliminated, however that would be.

But God is teaching me that because of who he is, I can't respond to evil with more of the same. He is teaching me that my call in the face of evil, even as ludicrous as it sounds, is to love. For those that have placed their faith in Jesus, love is the only response in times like these. We are called in the face of evil acts to display the love of God that has already defeated evil. 

How do we do this? I think Jesus laid out a pretty good model for us. Wherever he went, when faced with the sickness, tragedy, or brokenness that comes with evil he didn't ignore it or the pain of those hurting. He took compassion on them. The church should first show love in the face of evil by standing with those effected by evil. By grieving with those that are grieving, caring for the needs of the hurting, and bringing the presence of God into every situation. We are called to hurt with the hurting. We are to take compassion. 

But also, when faced with evil, Jesus didn't allow himself to agree with the lie that evil had won. No matter the situation, he knew because of who his Father was, that evil had not won. I know, there are days like today that it doesn't seem like evil is defeated. Also, when grieving with those that lost loved ones to evil acts, we have to be careful in how we care for them because our statements about evil being overcome don't bring much comfort to their current loss. But over all, as the church, the redeemed people of God, those made new by the grace of God seen in Jesus on a cross, we know that evil actually lost the battle that day He went to the cross. Jesus on the cross defeated the works of Satan (1 John 3:8). We know, even in times when it seems as if evil is winning, it hasn't, it has been defeated. This gives us permission to not respond to evil with evil, but with love. 

We are living in the already but not yet. The already of the victory of Jesus, but the not yet of its full implication. As followers of Jesus we are not to agree with the lie that evil has won, but through acts of love, even to the point of giving our own life, declare to the world that love has won. With lives submitted to Jesus through his Spirit, we are to declare God's Future NOW in the Present. We are to look at evil and not be tricked to respond in kind, rather declare the cross of Jesus to it. Evil might seem to have won in the moment, but we know it hasn't. We are to be Ambassadors of love! 

Remember, every time we choose to love in the face of evil we are declaring to the world that evil has already been defeated! When we refuse to shut ourselves off from caring for people we are declaring that evil has not won. When we open our lives to care for the "other" even it it may seem risky, we are declaring to evil that it has not scared us into living less than human, but in Jesus we are going to love! Our actions of love in the face of evil declare evil's death! 

God is calling the church to love in a way that shows God's future in the present. For the kingdom of love Jesus initiated to be seen as the truest reality, not evil. Let us display the cross of Jesus today.  

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Faith over Fear

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Reading from Jonah 1 this morning. I was struck again with the decision Jonah made to not listen to God, running from His plan. Jonah's decision came from fear not faith. Fear that if he went to the people of Nineveh they would kill him, or much worse, they would listen and be saved, and Jonah didn't think they deserved to be saved (see Jonah 4:1-3). What ever made up his fear, he acted from fear. 

Fear is the opposite of faith. We often think doubt is the opposite of faith, but honest doubt is a soil through which God can grow his love. The Bible says when we seek him we will find him. God can work with doubt. Fear, however, is the faith killer. When we act from fear we leave no room for the possibilities of love, God's love. We limit our potential to what we can protect, defend, and hold on to. We don't become open to what could happen but closed off because of what might happen. 

Jonah was afraid so he ran. But he didn't outrun his fears. He was faced with them again on the boat in the storm. He knew why the storm was there, and he knew that his actions had put others in danger. "I know it is my fault this storm has come upon you" he said. This time, still fearing, he chose faith...that if he gave himself to God the storm would calm. It did. He still spent three days in the belly of a fish, but God can work with submission in faith. 

Whatever you feel God is calling you to, even if it is scary, step out in faith...submit yourself to him. Faith opens your life up to the possibilities of what God can do. Faith gives God permission to be God in our life. Just watch what he does. 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

The Power of Perseverance

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Romans 5:2b-5 And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I think it is safe to say that the American culture doesn't put much value in perseverance. We are society of convenience and ease. If it gets difficult or begins to take more time than we want, we usually move on. We have been trained toward this. It is in how we are raised. We are consumers, customers first, and the customer is always right. We want it our way, in our time, and without much fuss. If something is hard than it must not be right. So we don't stick around for the hard, we move on to what is easy, and we miss out on the power that comes from perseverance. 

We see in Romans 5 that the Apostle Paul wouldn't advise us to move away from the difficult things in life, rather we should see them as important to our own maturing process. He conveys that in persevering through hard times, hard relationships, our character is built. It is almost as if Paul is calling hardships essential to God growing us into who he wants us to be. Paul goes on to say that when character is built hope is possible, no matter the situation. When the NT writers talk of hope, they don't mean "wishful thinking", they are talking about the ability to live in the reality of God and his promises even if it doesn't in the present look like they are coming true. 

We shortcut our maturation and character construction when we choose not to persevere. We limit the power of hope in our life and we become enslaved to the circumstances of the moment. If our current situation is easy we are good, if it is hard we move on. There is no power in this way of living. The power comes from waiting on the Lord, trusting he is still good even in the face of struggle, and seeing his provision as much from what he does while we persevere as when he provides and comes through. 

Lets not shortcut what God wants to do in our lives. What is he calling you to persevere in today? He is good, He can be trusted. 

The Homeless Man and the Apartment - A Parable

There was a homeless man that lived on the streets. His life was hard, every day filled with the struggle to survive. He sought for food in trash cans, took shelter in places unequipped to keep out the elements and dodged the dangers that are natural to this lifestyle. He slept on the ground, ate what he found, and had no one to lean on. His physical needs were only surpassed by his psychological and mental needs, constantly combatting depression and aching loneliness. 

One day a man walked in front of him on the street, as thousands had done before. Usually he could see the feet and legs of busy individuals going to their busy lives, paying no attention to him. He would get a dollar or two here and there dropped at his feet, but mostly he was as noticeable as a trash can or a light fixture. Swerving around him, person after person seemed to not realize he was a person. But not this day. 

The man walking in front of him stopped. It took the homeless man a minute to recognize this set of legs was stopped and turned toward him. Looking up he saw a man in nice clothes, clean, with a smile on his face. He even reached down a hand to toward him as if he wanted to shake hands. The homeless man didn't reciprocate, not believing anyone would want to greet him in this way. But after an awkward moment, he reached out his hand. 

His grip was firm but kind. He spoke with confidence and a welcoming voice. He stated his name and wanted to know about the homeless man and his story. Unsure of what was happening the homeless man hesitantly talked with him, sharing his life story, even if in a very brief way. Hearing the homeless man’s story, the man told him he had something for him and he wanted him to come with him. The homeless man set aside his reservations and rose to follow the man. 

To his surprise they took three or four steps and entered the building the homeless man had spent so much of his time sitting against. "Did you know this is a luxury apartment building you have been sitting in front of?" said the man. "No I didn't" said the homeless man. "Well it is, and I am the owner of the building." "I have seen you sitting in front of the building often and I have decided to do something for you." Not sure what was going on, whether it was good or bad, the homeless man responded "Do something for me?" 

"Yes. I am going to give you one of these apartments to live in. It is fully furnished, and has everything you need. As well, I am going to give you a job in this building to help with maintenance. I have also had the refrigerator and cupboard stocked with food for you, as well as the closet filled with clothes and shoes. You should have everything you need from now on." 

Staring at the polished bronze door of the elevator as each of the floors dinged by, the homeless man heard the words that were coming from the man. But they didn't make sense. There was no thank you or outward show of excitement, instead silence. The doors to the elevator opened and the two men entered into a beautiful apartment. It was just as the man said, a beautiful apartment filled with unbelievable things. Couches, chairs,  a dinner table, shelves filled with dishes and a cupboard filled with food. A bed room with a large soft bed and a gorgeous bathroom. 

The homeless man, following his new found benefactor, silently roamed the apartment, saying nothing. Seeing the obvious shock of the situation, the man allowed the homeless man to take it all in. “Here is your key, it is now yours. I will have my lawyer stop by later to have you sign the appropriate paper work, but other than that…welcome home.” The homeless man still said nothing, looking at the ground not even making eye contact with the man. “Expect a call from the building manager in the next few days, after you get settled, and he will talk to you about your job. He is excited to see what talents you might have to pitch in around here. If you don’t want the job it is up to you. But I wanted to give you an opportunity. Regardless this apartment is yours.” There was still silence. After waiting a few quiet minutes, the man finally said his goodbye and left the homeless man by himself in his new home. 

The next day the building owner was walking again on the street in front of his luxury apartment building. As he crossed the street to enter the building he saw something that stopped him in his tracks. There in the same spot was the homeless man, sitting as he did before, leaned against the building. The man approached him and stopped in front of him. “Was there a problem with the apartment?” he asked. Squinting his eyes to look up at the generous man, the homeless man seeing his attempted patron answered “No. The apartment is fine.” “Then why are you back sitting here?” asked the man. The homeless man’s answer didn’t come quickly, but was given as if much thought had been put into it. “I think I am just more comfortable here”, he said. 

Perplexed the building owner responded quickly with “how can that be? I furnished that apartment with the best furniture, beds and amenities. You have soft chairs to sit on, a bed to sleep in, a bathroom to refresh in. How can this hard sidewalk be more comfortable?” The homeless man answered in a matter of fact way that revealed he truly believed what he was about to say. “This is who I am, that apartment isn’t who I am.” Immediately the owner realized what was happening. This homeless man had spent so much time living on the street, struggling to live, sleeping in allies, surviving on the things the people around him threw away, that he truly believed this is who he was created to be. 

Slowly walking away feeling like he had failed, the building owner came to an idea. He turned and walked back to the homeless man. “Well would you have breakfast with me this morning? I can at least provide you with a meal.” The homeless said yes, and the two walked back into the building, rode the elevator, and went into the previously offered apartment. The building manager rolled up his sleeves and cooked a borderline feast for breakfast, setting the table as if he was entertaining a dignitary. The two men sat at this expensive dining room table, in this expensive apartment and ate together. After the meal, the homeless man said thank you and went back to his spot, leaning against the building outside. 

The next day the owner of the building came back to the homeless man and again asked if he would have breakfast. He said yes, and again the two men entered the luxurious building and rode to the same apartment. The owner cooked another amazing breakfast and the two men ate. The homeless man thanked him as he had done before, left the apartment and went back outside to his spot.

Every day for two weeks this same strange morning routine played itself out with out much of any change other than the breakfast menu. Until one day something different happened. Finishing the meal, instead of thanking the owner and immediately leaving, the homeless man asked if it would be ok to use the shower in the apartment to clean up before he left. The owner quickly responded with, “Its your apartment, use whatever you want.” The homeless man took a long shower enjoying every minute of the experience, then put his old clothes on, thanked the building owner, and went back to his spot. 

The generous benefactor continued to every day invite the homeless man to leave his spot on the sidewalk to the apartment he had given him for a breakfast by his own hands. Usually it would be the same thing, where the homeless man would eat, thank him and return outside. But more and more the building owner noticed the man would ask to take a shower. Then one day something else happened. Having just finished his meal the homeless man said, “I didn’t sleep very well last night. It rained on me all night and that cardboard doesn’t keep out the wet. Would it be Ok if I took a quick nap on the couch before I leave?” “It is your apartment", said the building owner, "you can do what you want?” The homeless man stretched out on the expensive couch and before long was asleep. The owner left him there to rest. 

The next morning the homeless man was again in his spot outside, and the routine played out again. Day after day the two men would enter the building, ride the elevator, and share breakfast in the apartment. But something very interesting was happening. More and more the homeless man would stay longer in the apartment and partake of all that it had to offer. One day he would decide to watch some tv and rest in the comfortable chair. Another day he would sit on the balcony and watch the traffic for a while. There was one day he decided to use the washer and dryer to wash his clothes. He even began to wear some of the new clothes that were hanging in the closet, if even only a piece at a time. Something was changing. 

And then it happened. It was a morning just like any other, except it wasn’t. The building owner decided to stop and pick up some bagels and coffee for him and his regular breakfast partner, walked his normal route to the building he owned, and once again like before was stopped in his tracks in the middle of the street. He nearly dropped his coffee. Looking at that same spot where his new friend had been sitting all of those mornings before, he saw something different. Nothing. No one. He wasn’t there. 

For the first time in a long time he rode the elevator alone to the same floor and went to the door of the apartment. Before he knocked he just stood silently and listened as he could hear life within. The clanging of a spatula on a pan, the opening and shutting of the refrigerator. He could smell that there was something being cooked. With a smile on his face, he knocked. The homeless man answered the door, clean shaved, wearing clothes that weren’t torn and an apron that showed signs of cooking. The two men paused for a second looked at each other and the man in the apron said. “Come in. Welcome to my home.” 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Radical Love

The Love of God is not a nice greeting card that brings good feelings and warm fuzzies. It is the darkness breaking, world changing, barrier smashing, people renewing, plan of God to set all things right again. It can not be limited to our theological boxes, dogmas, or denominations. It is on the move, and it moves us if we allow it to. 

This last week we began a new series on the Radical Love of God. Radical by definition is "relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far reaching or thorough." God's love is changing the fundamental nature of all of the cosmos, us included, renewing us  and all things to what they were created to be in the beginning. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at how this love is moving....it is moving to offer radical acceptance, radical renewal, building a radical foundation, and offering a radical invitation to a broken world. 

As transformative as this love is, it has to be accepted. Many times we don't accept it because we feel like we can't be accepted. We see our brokenness, our sin, our mistakes, and we don't allow his love to wrap us in. We keep the love of God at arms length, relying instead on other things to try and bring new life. We try to be more religious, more disciplined, work harder, gain more knowledge and yet we are over and over again we find these things don't bring real life. Real life comes from realizing that the Radical Love of God accepts us...just as we are. 

Jesus accepted the unacceptable woman at the well. She was culturally and religiously "untouchable" yet Jesus and his love broke every barrier to tell her that she was loved. When she accepted this her life was changed, and the life of a whole community was changed. That is what this Radical Love of Jesus does. But we must accept that it accepts us. When we do, it will not only transform us but the world around us. 

Let's open our hearts to the realization that we are truly accepted by the love of God. Not because of our religious activity, our moral activities, or our hard work....but because of his amazing love. 

I have a challenge for you this week: Sit with God for five minutes, not to accomplish some religious activity or devotional requirement, but just sit and allow him to love on you. Ask him to clear your mind and help you hear what he is saying about you. Find a place free from distraction and allow God to whisper love into your heart. Find that the creator of the universe is your Father, and he is deeply in love with you...and accept that you are accepted RIGHT NOW! 

Lets go further into his love, 

Ben. 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Coming Home.

After over two months of Sabbatical this summer, I am back in my office and back home to my church family at Nehemiah Church. It has been an amazing summer, one that I will not forget. I am so unbelievably thankful to God for providing for us to take this break as well as incredibly grateful for a church family that supported us and prayed for us. 

Through out the summer, in all of our travels and different experiences, there was one theme that God seemed to keep highlighting to me, that he loved me so much. I know that seems theologically elementary, but it is not. He kept showing me with each beautiful piece of scenery, every fun new experience, and every family memory that he loves me and my family and he takes joy in us. 

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

I have been told since I was young that God loved me, but the world around me continues to try and convince me that I am unloveable unless I do something that is worth love. God has been reminding me that I am loved not because of what I have done, but because of who he is...a loving Father. 

A Bison in Yellowstone National Park

A Bison in Yellowstone National Park

So often I have lived my life trying to earn that love, when God is calling me and us to live from a place of already being loved. We live from love not for it. When we accept that we are truly loved by God we then begin to want to help others know they are truly loved. There is freedom in love to be who God created us to be. It eliminates the desire to compete for approval, to judge others, or struggle for acceptance. 

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

As I get back in the swing of things here at home and in my role as pastor, I want to constantly remind myself where my real home is. My home is in the realization and the reality that the Father Loves Me! I want to come home to this reality every day allowing it to lead me to true rest no matter wether I am on sabbatical or hard at work.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

We often think of rest as the absence of work, however, true rest isn't the absence of work it is living from truth that we are loved. When we truly accept that we are immensely loved, even our work can be restful as we are not striving to achieve acceptance. 

San Juan National Forest 

San Juan National Forest 

My prayer is that we continue to go deeper into the unbelievable realization that we are truly loved by a perfect Father. Not because of what we have done, achieve, or succeed in, but because the Father truly loves us...that is who he is. 

Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

I want to say thank you to all that prayed for us, supported us, and worked hard to fill in while we were away. These photos are just a few of the amazing scenes we were able to experience. I will post more photos for those that are interested. 

In his love, Ben. 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

34 Years Removed

"Annunciation to Mary" by Henry Ossawa Tanner circa 1898 and "Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane" by Heinrich Hoffman circa 1890

"Annunciation to Mary" by Henry Ossawa Tanner circa 1898 and "Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane" by Heinrich Hoffman circa 1890

Today is Good Friday, the day where Christians around the world will be remembering the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus on the cross. However, most of us don't know what March 25th usually marks every year, the Feast of the Annunciation. This is an oft missed day on the Christian calendar meant to remind us of the mother of Jesus, Mary, and her willingly accepting the call of God to carry His Son to birth for the sake of the world. There is an amazing connection between the two days of remembrance. Both mother and son gave everything in faith to follow the will of their Heavenly Father. 

Early on Friday morning, Jesus was struggling in prayer while in the garden, knowing what his Father had called him to, crying out "Father if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done." Of course, we know that it wouldn't be long before Judas led the temple guards to arrest him which would be followed by a false trial, beatings, and a crucifixion. Jesus willingly walked into what he knew would be his death trusting his Father every step of the way. 

Thirty-four years earlier a young teenage girl from an extremely impoverished family, living in what we would call the slums today, is visited by an angel.  In the right circumstances, the announcement of a pregnancy is an exciting and welcomed thing. But not for Mary. We can imagine a flood of concerns came to her mind. "What will my family say when they see I am pregnant?" "I am not even married". "How will I care for a child?" Make no mistake about it, when Mary uttered the words, "I am the Lord's servant...may your words to me be fulfilled", it was a huge step of faith in her heavenly Father. 

Now as followers of Jesus we are called to "carry our cross" and live a life of faith as well. Not just when it is convenient, but in all times. We are to follow the example of Jesus and his mother, trusting the heart of our Father and allowing his will to direct us. Where is He leading you? 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Real Power

"Christ washing the Apostles feet" Dirck van Baburen circa 1660

"Christ washing the Apostles feet" Dirck van Baburen circa 1660

I have been thinking about power lately. So much of our society has become convinced that the way to true transformation in this world begins with the acquisition of power. "If we could only get the right person in the right political position we could see real change in our country." I understand why this is a convincing argument because power does affect things in real life. Power used for good can cause good, and of course, power used for evil...well we know what happens. 

So we buy into the search for power, even to the point of using Machiavellian logic to get it. We support ideas, concepts, even people we would never support just to acquire power. Because we believe power is the way to change. 

What if we have it wrong? What if true change doesn't come from having the power to change things? What if true change comes from what is true power? 

Today is Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, that week we lead up to Easter, remembering Jesus' walk to the cross. Traditionally on this day we have remembered and celebrated Jesus' last supper and his washing the feet of his disciples. I re-read John 13:1-17 and was struck with something I hadn't realized before. 
John 13:2-5 says "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power....so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."

It was striking to me the connection between the power of Jesus with how he chose to use it. John states that Jesus knew the Father endued him with power, and yet he didn't use that power the way the world uses power. He went directly to washing the disciples feet, a culturally humbling act that didn't make sense to the disciples. Rabbi's don't wash students feet. Leaders don't serve in this humiliating way. 

I wonder if the Apostle Paul had this foot washing scene in his mind when he wrote of Jesus "Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing  by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross." 

Jesus exercised power through humble service, not through position. He modeled the truth of where real change happens in this world. When we will serve others rather than seek power. What if we that call ourselves Jesus followers would follow the model of the humble Rabbi? What would the world look like then?

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Donald Trump and the Blessing of Deconstruction

I remember the story of a church building that was slowly sinking. The church's members noticed this historic 100 plus-year-old building seemed to be slowly descending into the ground as one corner of its foundation sunk. They called the experts in to assess and were shocked to find out that their beloved building was built on top of an underground river that had slowly been taking more of the ground above it. They were literally on ground that wasn't able to support the structure.

The members began to discuss what the next step was. "Can we shore up the sinking foundation with more block?" "Could we put something underneath the current foundation to prop it up and support it?" Their final grasp at saving this construct that had meant so much to them came through an emotional plea with the building expert to move the building from that location to another. He sadly informed them that the damage from this crumbling foundation had its effects on all of the building. It wasn't salvageable. As painful as it was, they had to tear down the building and find better ground to build on. This ground wasn't meant to hold them. 

Here is the thing, whether they initially knew it or not, that corner of the foundation that slowly descended into the Earth was actually a blessing. Because of that foundational flaw, they found that there was an even bigger problem. In fact, the geological experts enlisted by the foreman revealed that if they had not moved, it was almost certain that at some time that building would have been swallowed up by a giant sink hole.

As Christians in America I feel we are in a similar situation. The current presidential election cycle has so many of us distraught and anxious. We see candidates like Donald Trump that seem to be gaining popularity and power and it worries us that our foundation is sinking. We can politicize away, as we often do,  the differences we see in the ethics of these candidates and the ethic of Jesus. However we can't plant a bush big enough to hide it...the foundation is sinking.

So many of us are recognizing now thatsomething is seriously wrong. We see the broken system, and we recognize that these elections have a real effect in our country and in our world, so we struggle to prop up the foundation; we can't let it sink any longer. We put more effort into the political process, trying to convince our friends and family that the future is at stake, that this election holds the keys to success or opens the door to societal decay. If we can get the right person in place, if we can elect the right people, we can save the building, we can stop the sinking.

What if the sinking corner of the foundation is actually a blessing? What if Donald Trump is exactly what we need to see clearly what we couldn't see before? What if his candidacy is helping us to see that we have put our building on ground that was never meant to hold it?

The church has had a complicated relationship with worldly powers since its inception. The first few centuries it was mostly a movement on the fringes, reaching the poorest of the poor, the disenfranchised and the least of the least, but it grew tremendously. Eventually, it grew to the point of catching the eye of the political powers of the time. Out of fear and political posturing the powers that be began to persecute and push down this growing movement, even to the point of putting to death many that called themselves Jesus followers. Yet even in the face of persecution and death, they understood that to follow Jesus was more about serving than ruling, more about humility than power and that true power, the power that truly changes things, came through love.

It wasn't until Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and announced the Edict of Milan, providing freedom for Christians to worship without the threat of persecution, that Christians began to put stock in having the governmental powers on their side. This began a temptation among our brethren to place emphasis on the protection of our rights, and supporting government officials and political philosophy that kept those rights. Prominent theologians like St. Augustine with his "Two Cities" teaching and Martin Luther with his "Two Kingdom" theology furthered these thoughts into an accepted way of thinking. It had become normal to believe that God's priority for us as Christians was to have political protection and influence, even seeing government and its resources as central to furthering his purposes.  

And so, for hundreds of years now we have fought hard to protect our political freedoms, to advance or political philosophies, and to guard our rights as citizens of earthly kingdoms, forgetting the words Jesus spoke to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36) 

The blessing of Donald Trump in his willingness to say out loud what many politicians haven't been willing to, exposing an ethic that stands in clear contrast to the savior we follow. The sinking foundation is exposed. The problem is we have bought so heavily into our participation in the governments of this world, we are often willing to overlook the obvious sinking blocks. We can't ignore Donald Trump, and there is the blessing. We are immediately faced with the recognition that the sinking foundation is just a symptom, of a deeper problem. We have built our house on sinking ground.

Our challenge is not to shore up the sinking foundation, rather our call is to deconstruct and rebuild on solid ground. We need to detox from the addictive effects of worldly power and remember again who it is we follow. We follow the Jesus of Nazareth that didn't come to change the systems of the world through their means, but by overthrowing them with love, service, and humility. Donald Trump is a blessing...a blessing that reveals we have been putting our faith in the wrong things and reminds us of who our faith should be in.

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

This Week at NPC - 9/16/15 - The Together Struggle

I had an opportunity yesterday to spend some time with one of my favorite preachers and voices in the Church today...Bruxy Cavey. Bruxy is the pastor of The Meeting House, a large missional church in Canada. It is always a pleasure to sit and listen to great minds and learn. Bruxy is not only a great mind, but a man chasing after Jesus. 

Bruxy was talking yesterday about God's desire for unity in the church, and how a unified church is God's apologetic. It is how he shows himself to the world. Bruxy brought up the greek word homothumadon (homo meaning "of one", thumadon meaning "passion") which is often translated as "together" in scripture (ie. Acts 1:14, 2:46) and usually is describing the church.

Bruxy elaborated that this was a call to the hard work of staying together. When we together aim our passions toward Jesus, we are unified regardless of our economic, racial, social, or gender differences. And when this happens the world around us sees God. He is the only answer to the question "What unifies this group?".

The problem is that we in the church too often give up on this call to be together. We see it as too much of a struggle, and we lean back comfortably into groups of people or contexts that are more like us. The call of Jesus however is actually to struggle forward toward those that are different so as to be unified with the diverse, and thus display who God is.

This is an active call. We have a decision to make in it. Are we going to courageously attempt to reach out to those that might think differently than us, look differently than us, or act differently than us? Or are we going to let dividing lines be drawn around what seem to in the end be insignificant issues like politics, peripheral doctrines or church practices? It is not easy for sure. When we run toward those that are different rather than away, it can be messy. It can be a struggle...but it is a "together struggle" that reveals the heart of God to the world. This is what Jesus prayed for us in John 17:20-21: 

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

This Week at NPC:

  • If you have missed any of our first two sermons in the "You Asked For It" series we encourage you to go to this link. 
  • The NPC Flag Football tournament is this weekend. If you want to help you can come on Friday at 6pm to help set up fields or Saturday (9am) morning to help with the tournament or concession stand. Pray for a successful outreach event as we share the love of God through sport. 
  • This Sunday night is the Family Meeting. It is our quarterly meeting to get us on the same page as a church family. Please make this meeting a priority as we will be discussing the upcoming Fall Festival in detail. It is this Sunday from 5-7pm. We will have dinner together as well so bring a side and dessert to share. We will provide the drinks, fried chicken and all the rest. See you there. 

 

  • Avon Heritage Parade is Saturday 9/26 and we are passing out water and Fall Festival invites to parade watchers and participants as a way to show love. We will be here from 9am to 11am. 
  • Remember the Fall Festival is October 3rd4-8PM We are still looking for volunteers and donations for the food list. Contact Kim Rogers at krogers7246@gmail.com to sign up or for more info. AND INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!!!

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Never meant to handle the weight.

At the conclusion of Jesus' famous sermon from the mountain he challenges those listening to actually live life in his way (Matt. 7:21-27) . This challenge stands as a book end with the beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12) at the beginning of the sermon that reminds us that we can't live this way on our own, rather we must be "poor in spirit", "meek", and "hunger" for righteousness that can only be found in him. 

This challenge includes a reminder that not everyone that says they are living for Jesus are actually living for him. In verses 21-23 Jesus even goes as far as to say that there will be those that do amazing ministries in his name that aren't doing them for him. 

To illustrate his point he uses a metaphor of a man that builds a house on a rock and a man who builds his house on sand (Matt. 7:24-27). Obviously the man who built his house on sand has chosen a foundation that is not going to hold up to trial and turmoil, and when the waters rise, he will be left without a foundation. Implicit in Jesus' teaching here is the question "What is your foundation?" Or another way to ask it is "What do you build your identity on?" 

There are many things vying to be the foundation that we build our identity on. Those of us who have children are tempted to think first and foremost about ourselves as "fathers" or "mothers". Those of us that have worked hard to build a career are tempted to see who we are as what we do for a living. Many of us work hard to have a nice home and good cars, and we have come to believe that this is who we are. There are even some of us that are in professional ministry, or very involved in doing ministry through our church and we have founded who we are in what we do for God's kingdom. 

Although all of these things are not bad in and of themselves, and most of them good...they were never meant to handle the weight of our identity. When we use these things as the foundation of who we are we are building our houses on sand rather than rock. When the waves come, it will wash our foundation away. 

When our children don't live up to our training or use their free will to go their own way, the waves threaten our identity that was based on being a parent. When we don't get the promotion we feel we deserved or lose a job, the foundation we built on what we do is knocked out from under us. When ministry in the church throws us a curve ball and burn out hits, we can't stand because the sand is escaping from under our feet as the wave retracts. 

These things were never meant to handle the weight of our identity. They will always buckle under it. Only one thing can handle the weight, or more correctly said, one person...Jesus. To build our house on the Rock is to base all of who we are in the person of Jesus Christ, and what he says about us. He says no matter what waves come we will always be his child. He says that no matter whether we succeed or fail at a task he loves us. He says that we are not what we do or what we have,  rather our "life is hidden with Christ in God." 

Let's not build our identity on things that can't handle the weight. 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Be strong and courageous....

I have been thinking about what it means to risk something. Most of us live in a way to eliminate as much risk as possible. We like to feel safe and secure. We often make decisions based on the what the risks are. We don't want to feel the pain of loss or failure. 

I wonder if this is how we were created to live though? I am not saying that we should live irresponsibly always throwing caution to the wind, however, when we decide to follow Jesus it usually means he is going to lead us into places and situations that lead us to take a risk. To not hold our safety or comfort as the highest priority. 

 I was reading the story of Joshua last week and I recognized again how many times God encouraged Joshua, at the beginning of his leadership career, to "be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:9). God knew that what he had planned for Joshua and the people of Israel was going to be amazing, fruitful, but also require a willingness to trust him and risk. They were going into a promised land that was full of obstacles and yet it was where God called them. It was not the "safe" move, but it was a God move. 

We often miss this as Jesus followers. We miss the adventure that it is in following him. We treat Christianity as if it is a religion for us rather than a journey following him. We become comfortable always feeding ourselves rather than allowing God to push us to give for others and for him. We like being comfortable when in reality to follow Jesus is to go into the uncomfortable places...because that is where he is going. 

Jesus illustrated this in a story he told about bags of gold (Matt 25:14-30 read it here).  It was a story of a man who was leaving on a journey and he gave three of his servants bags of gold to care for while he was gone. All three had different amounts from large to small. The first two servants took a risk and invested what was given to them and it paid off. The last servant was more concerned with failing, and wanting to be safe, he buried his so as to not lose it.

The man came back and praised the first two for risking for his sake, entrusting them with even more for their bold moves. However, when he had seen that the last servant had played it safe and not used what he had given him, he took it away and gave it to those that risked. 

This is Jesus' way of saying the same thing that was said to Joshua..."Be strong and courageous" in this life of following me. When we are courageous and step out of our comfort zones for God we are reminded that he will always take care of us. We are like that young son at the end of a dock with his father coaxing him to jump in the water and he will catch him. The father is just far enough away for it to be a risk, but he also knows the great joy the child will receive if he jumps. The child is scared of what will happen but looking in the father's eyes, he knows it will be OK. He can jump because he knows he can trust the father. 

Do you believe you can trust your Father? What is he calling you to that seems risky? Is it a risky decision to open your home to co-workers or neighbors that don't look or think like you do? Is he calling you to begin to financially give to him and you know that it is going to take a sacrifice, and that it is a risk? Is he calling you to share your Jesus story with someone, and you are not sure how they will take it? 

Be strong and courageous because with God risk is actually faith...and faith is the currency God works in to further us down the road in following him. 

Here are a few things coming up the next few weeks: 

  • Flag Football Tournament, Saturday Sep 19th. See below for details  
  • You Asked For It - Week 2. We will continue in our series answering your questions about the faith and following Jesus. This week our Sermon Title is "Why Hell" as we look at what the Bible actually says about the concept of Hell. If you missed last week's sermon on "Is God in Control?" listen here.
  • We have begun Periscoping our Sunday morning services. Periscope is an app for iPhone or Android in which you can watch live feeds. So if you are out of town we encourage you to participate by downloading the app and following Nehemiah Project Church for worship services. Check out our FB page for instructions.  
  • Serve Saturday - Avon Heritage Parade, Sep.26th 9am-11am. We will be serving cold water to Parade observers and participants as a way of showing love and inviting them to the Fall Festival that is coming up a week later. Don't miss it...we need your help. 
  • Fall Festival - Oct. 3rd. We need all hands on deck for this fun day of showing our community love. We need you to sign up to volunteer. Talk to Kim Rogers at krogers7246@gmail.com for more information. 

God bless and have a great week NPC! 

Ben. 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

Belonging to One Another

I was reading in Romans this morning and this verse caught my eye...."For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to the other."(Rom 12:4-5)

The Apostle Paul is talking about the church here. He often uses the image of a "body" to describe how the church works. I have to say, that until I was a part of Nehemiah Project Church, I hadn't experienced this in the way Paul meant it. Sure I have seen church people at times pitch in to get something accomplished, but God is showing me glimpses of what it truly means to be of the same "body".

Glimpses that look like prayer sessions among NPCers that break out spontaneously to minister to each other. Glimpses that look like NPCers taking a full Saturday to help raise money for Kaden and his family. Glimpses that show families serving other families in their time of need. You...NPC...have been teaching me what it means to live this verse out, what it means that "each member belongs to all the others".  I am so blessed to be a part of you. 

Here are a few things coming up to keep in mind: 

  • The Gathering, Saturday Sep. 5th 7pm. Once a month we meet just for worship and prayer. Child care provided. 
  • Flag Football Tournament, Saturday Sep 19th. See below for details 
  • You Asked For It - A new sermon series answering your questions begins this Sunday (Sep. 6th.) It is not too late to ask your questions. Click on this LINK to give us your top 3 questions about God, faith, the bible, or any other subject. 

 

  • Serve Saturday, Avon Heritage Parade, Sep.26th 9:00am-11:00am. We will be serving cold water to Parade observers and participants as a way of showing love and inviting them to the Fall Festival that is coming up a week later. Don't miss it...we need your help. 
  • FALL FESTIVAL - OCTOBER 3RD. We need all hands on deck for this fun day of showing our community love. We need you to sign up to volunteer. Talk to Kim Rogers at krogers7246@gmail.com. 

Have a great week NPC! 

Ben.  

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

God is in the small moments

This past Sunday afternoon I had the pleasure of watching my oldest son's football game. It was a beautiful afternoon, with gorgeous weather, perfect temperature...and of course football. As I watched and cheered, a feeling rushed over me of thankfulness. And then I realized...God is in this moment. He is delighting in giving me and my family this beautiful day and this beautiful moment. Then I realized...there are undoubtedly many moments God has given me that I have not noticed him in. 

It is easy to notice God in a powerful worship service, when we see a majestic mountain scene, or when we hear a baby's cry, but many times we forget that He is also in the small, seemingly everyday moments. He is with us when we are getting our kids ready for school, or preparing for a work presentation. He is with us when we accomplishing the tasks of the day, or laying our head down at the end of the day. He is in the small moments as well as the big ones. 

This is the promise he gives us in Deuteronomy 31:8..."The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Our call is to recognize him even in the small things and be thankful for his presence. He is such a good Father. 

This Week at NPC: 

We had another great week at NPC as we continue to get closer to the Fall season, wrapping up Summer. Here are some highlights: 

  • Although we only have two House Churches meeting right now, we encourage you to join in either on Tuesday or Thursday nights at 6:30pm. 
  • We had a good Common Ground Prayer night this last Friday. God met us and we were ministered to by his Spirit. Make sure to plan to be at the next prayer night Friday Sep. 18th. 
  • As you know NPC is an Elder Governed church, trusting the leadership of those God has called to be Elders to lead us in keeping to his vision. We have an Elders meeting every month, in which we pray, plan, and lead in caring for the church. We had an Elders meeting this past Friday, and it was fruitful and challenging. Our challenge comes from the need to replace a big AC unit at the church that has stopped working. We have to replace it, and it is going to cost around $9500. We are asking that you our family pitch in to cover this cost. Would you be willing to give a special gift amount (above and beyond your normal tithe) to help cover this cost. If we all join together and in faith give, we can cover this cost. Thank you ahead of time for being the family of NPC. 
  • God is doing amazing things through the "Two Buckets" sermon series, as we see him drawing us closer to him through understanding better what it means to live both Biblically and Faithfully. This last week we investigated the realization that God has a plan for each of us, and he wants to communicate with us to help us live out that plan. He is a personal God and he wants to communicate personally with each of us. That is an amazing truth that we need to live more into every day. Don't miss this Sunday as we wrap the series up talking about living in the freedom God has given us responsibly. 

Some upcoming events to: 

  • Community Garage Sale for Kaden August 29th 8am - ? : This Saturday we are having a community garage sale and all of the proceeds will go to the Myers family to help with the medical costs for Kaden. We need your help in three ways...1. Donate your stuff (not junk) to sell and bring it by Friday night from 6-9pm 2. Volunteer Friday night to go through the stuff donated to situate for the sale the following day 3. Help out on the sale day even if for an hour or two. Contact Holly Lawson at hollylawson20@gmail.com for more information. 
    • WE NEED YOUR INPUT FOR AN UPCOMING SERMON SERIES: We will beginning a new Sermon Series Sunday Sep. 6th called "You Asked For It", in which we will attempt to biblically answer your pressing questions in regards to your faith, God, or other issues. But we need to know what those questions are. Go to this link  and tell us what your top three questions are. Thank you for your participation. 
  • Don't forget about the NPC Sports Ministry Flag Football Tournament Sep 19th. To sign up a team talk to Casey McEntegart or email balloutflagfootball@yahoo.com. 
  • Also...mark your calendars for October 3rd and our annual Fall Festival. This is a huge gift we give to our community to let them know we love them. We need all NPCers to volunteer and help with this event. Contact either Kim Rogers (krogers7246@gmail.com) or Justin Graves (justin@nehemiahchurch.com) to volunteer for this important event. 

Our God is so good, and he is with us in every moment. Don't forget that. Have a great week! 

Ben. 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

God is Faithful

God has been reminding me lately that he is not far off. I know it seems like that thought might be something even a child would realize, but I think we need reminded of it frequently. We so often only deal in what we can see and touch we forget that God, through his son Jesus, has given us the deposit of his Holy Spirit. I know I forget often. Of course I know it intellectually, but do I live as if I believe it practically? Many times I don't. But God is still good and patient. He is reminding me that he is close and that he is at work on my behalf. He is reminding me that He is faithful. 

This morning the words of that great hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" came flooding to me. He truly is faithful. And his faithfulness isn't according to how faithful or perfect we are. He is faithful because of who he is. The writer of Lamentations said it this way..."The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness." (Lam 3:22-23) 

God has definitely been faithful this past week at NPC and in my life. It has been a whirlwind of things to be thankful for. On the family side, our two older boys are getting comfortable in their new schools and enjoying fall sports. The two younger are a joy and keep Tiffany very busy. We are blessed. 

On Monday I had the opportunity to join the district ministerial development team (a team that oversees new leaders on their way to being ordained pastors). What a privilege it is to be a part of their journey. As I previously mentioned, Monday night and Tuesday I was able to travel to Columbus OH to the Woodlawn War Conference, in which were challenged as leaders to take seriously the call to engage our culture through media for the sake of the gospel. You will continue to hear from me the call to go see the Woodlawn movie this Oct.16th or 17th in theaters near you. 

We jumped into our second sermon in the "Two Buckets" series, where we talked of the importance of the Bible and how we approach it. The Bible was never meant to be a religious encyclopedia that we only read to mine for ourselves bits of religious law. It is the the story of God...a God on the move, and we are to read it to further our relationship with him, allowing him to "read us" through it and lead us in it. This is an essential truth so if you missed it take a listen on our website

I stopped in on Friday night to see the Youth Lock-in in person and found a sea of young people having a lot of fun and learning about Jesus. Thanks to all that came and volunteered to make it a success. 

Keep a few things in mind:

  • Don't forget our prayer night this Friday (8/21) at 7pm, where we come together to pray for each other and with each other. We only do these prayer nights once a month, so come join for this special time. 
  • Also please volunteer for the 9/19 Flag Football tournament, a ministry of NPC Sports Ministries. Contact Casey McEntegart at 317-608-8821 for more info and to sign up. 
  • We are looking for an IT volunteer that would be willing to help us with getting sermons on our website, as well as other web tasks. Contact Lisa Myers for more information. 
  • We have one of our big AC units down at the church and will have to replace it. We please ask that you would pray about giving to this $10000 project, above and beyond your normal tithes and offerings, as we need to pitch together to care for the resources God has given us. Thank you in advance. 
  • Don't forge to mark you calendar! OCT 3rd is the FALL FESTIVAL and we need your help. Contact Kim Rogers at 317-850-8773 or krogers7246@gmail.com to sign up for one of our teams. This is our "Big Gift of Love" event for our community and we need you to participate. 

Have a great rest of the week and always remember that God is close and he is faithful....He loves you more than you can imagine. 

Ben. 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

A week in review

I am writing this from a hotel lobby in Columbus OH where I with 150 other church leaders have been invited to participate in a conference discussing the importance of the church using media to change our culture for Christ. Last night we had the wonderful opportunity to pre-screen the new Erwin Brothers movie "Woodlawn" as well as talk with the director, producer, and lead actor about what it means to share the gospel through the culture's main avenue of communication. 

This is a great opportunity for you and I to participate in sharing the gospel to our society, by planning on going to see Woodlawn on Oct 16th. If the church can unite and give overwhelming support, this very well done movie will have a straightforward path to being distributed to every movie theater. When they see the public is behind it, the movie industry will spread its influence. So lets get behind it. Take a look at the trailer below, mark your calendars for Oct 16th, and take a look at their website. http://woodlawnmovie.com/

We began our new sermon series this week, called "TWO BUCKETS: Living Biblically and Faithfully" and already God is doing good things through it. I had a number of conversations Sunday and Monday about the subject matter and how God is calling us to go deeper in following him. If you missed the first sermon, I strongly encourage you to listen online at our website http://www.nehemiahchurch.com/media.php?pageID=27 

This past week I had the opportunity to introduce our new District Superintendent, Dr. Mark Gorveatte  (of the Indiana Central District of The Wesleyan Church of which we are a part) to NPC as he made a site visit to see the church and meet our staff. He was excited about what God was doing at NPC as well as talked to me about some possible collaborations for the Kingdom that we could be a part of. I am also traveling with Dr. Gorveatte, and Dr. Norm Wilson (professor at IWU) for this conference, and it is great to get to know both of them better. I am thankful for their heart, and am encouraged by Dr. Gorveatte's leadership. 

We have a lot of exciting things happening at NPC that you should keep in mind of and participate in: 

  • Our youth are having a lock-in this Friday at 7pm. Talk to Brian and Michele Myers about coming or supporting the event through donations. 
  • Our Common Ground prayer night Aug. 21st is going to be special. Join us at 7pm. 
  • Plan to participate in the upcoming NPC Sports Ministry 1st Annual Flag Football tournament on Sept. 19. We need you to sign up a team or volunteer. Talk to Casey McEntegart for more information at 317-608-8821. 

As we continue to go deeper in following Jesus, I have been thinking about our mistaken tendency to try and follow him out of our own strength. I do this often and I need to be reminded of what 1 Thessalonians 1:24 tells us..."The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." God is faithful, rest in him and know that if we stay connected to him, he will accomplish in us and through us what he has planned according to his perfect will. 

Have a great week all! 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

NPC Family Update

Hey NPCers, I hope your week started off well. Avon feels more active when school is here, with buses buzzing around, and kids back in schedule. I have always loved the beginning of the school year. There seems to be so much potential in the air! 

 We had a great week last week at NPC,capped by a wonderful service on Sunday. Our prayer times on Sunday morning (10am...all welcome) are becoming some of my favorite times of the week as we cover the church and the upcoming service in prayer. Thank you to all that participate and for your continued prayers. We would love to see the room filled with prayer warriors...and it is beginning to happen. 

The Holy Spirit continues to be active in our worship service, through song, special words given to people, and through the preaching of his word. This past Sunday was no exception. We wrapped up our sermon series on 1st Peter, called "Above All" yesterday. God did so much through this series to form us to be a people that follow him, even in tough times. Yesterday we ended with Peter reminding us to STICK TOGETHER and TRUST GOD. If you missed any of it or want to encourage someone in your life to listen, you can find the whole series on our website here: 

http://www.nehemiahchurch.com/media.php?pageID=27

One of the highlights of yesterday was the amazing opportunity I had to baptize two young men who have decided to follow Jesus. Landon Moore and Grant O'Meara made the public confession and we celebrated with them! How awesome is that! 

I am excited about the new sermon series that begins this Sunday. It is called "Two Buckets" and we will be exploring what it means to live biblically and faithfully in a complex world. Don't miss it. 

Here are so many things coming to be praying about and participating in: 

  1. Men's Breakfast and Church work day from 9am- 12 this Saturday, 8/8/15 
  2. Youth Lock - In Friday 8/14 @ 7pm - 8am 8/15 (contact Brian and Michele Myers for more information at Mlmyers08@gmail.com)
  3. Common Ground Prayer night 8/21 @ 7pm
  4. NPC Sports Ministry first ever flag football tournament, September 19th. (see Casey McEntegart to volunteer to help) 

I am so blessed to be your pastor and to be walking this road with you all. I echo the words of the Apostle Paul when he said "we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you because we have heard (and experienced) of your faith in Jesus Christ." (Col. 3-4)  I have experienced your faith...and want to thank you for teaching me more of what it means to follow Jesus. 

Have a great rest of the week! 

Ben. 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

A Week full of Bears....

Hey all. I was unable to send an update last Monday because my family and I had a chance to take a five day vacation. We travelled to one of our favorite places, Gatlinburg TN, and had a fun, refreshing, and wonderful time together. It is good to get away, and we needed it. Thank you for being a church that supports my family and our health. A fun note...three different times we saw black bears while in the Smokey Mountain National Park. It is always refreshing to be in God's amazing creation and see his handiwork. I posted a video below. 


We have had a great couple weeks at NPC. We are getting close to finishing our Series "Above All"...a walk through the letter of 1st Peter. We had a great worship service Sunday, where God led so many of our group to give testimony to God's goodness and what he is doing in their lives. As was said in service, our testimony is powerful, it not only gives glory to God but it passes faith to others. When we hear the story of God's goodness in other's lives we are encouraged about how he can work in ours. We will be finishing 1st Peter this week as we go through the fifth and final chapter. 

We had our weekly staff meeting today, as we prayed, talked, and planned for the future. I am so blessed to be ministering along side of so many amazing leaders here at NPC. 

School is beginning this week and we are keeping in our prayers all of the students, teachers, administrators, and parents as they get started on another great school year. Tuesday night HC is cancelled this week because of the beginning of school this week. 

Here is a scripture to bless all those beginning school this week: Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." 

God Bless and have a great week! 

Ben. 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.

The Call for Presence.

What an amazing and challenging article by Gordon MacDonald...not just for pastors but for anyone called to be the love of Jesus to others. A must read article. 

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Benjamin Thomas

Husband and father of 4. Founding and Lead Pastor of Nehemiah Project Church in Avon Indiana. Academic Chaplain at Indiana Wesleyan University. Adjunct Professor of Spiritual Formation at Wesley Biblical Seminary.