It’s not even Labor Day, but ministries in our church network are getting off to a nice start. At our student ministry at Iowa State University, our freshman kick-off had nearly 600 students and the whole group of Salt Company students had over 1300 at their kickoff. Cornerstone Church had around 2400 in its worship service last Sunday.
In Iowa City, Veritas is approaching 400 in their worship service and they had around 275 at their Salt Company student ministry kickoff.
Westwind is starting to pack out their meeting place and is considering going to two services. They are approaching 400 at their worship services.
New Heights started this year at Easter has begun membership classes. The Salt Company at Simpson College starts next week.
Cornerstone Church of Ankeny had their “dress rehearsal” for the service they plan on September 9th and had nearly 100 adults and children show up.
Sorry for all the numbers. They are shorthand for God’s people and the stories of His grace in our lives.
However… another important message:
This is a critical time in our churches and it seems like a perfect time for Satan to attack. Remember that he is a schemer, 2 Cor. 2:11. His attacks are subtle, from places that you don’t expect it. He disguises himself is an angel of light, what appears to be good on the outside is actually rotten, 2 Cor. 11:14. Remember he is a liar, John 8:44. He is an accuser, Job 1:12.
What to expect and what to do about it…
If sin were ugly, it wouldn’t draw us in. However Satan is subtle, he brings us in with what appears to be good or actually is good in the right context. Then while we are dabbling with sin, believing the lie that it isn’t really a sin or that we will be able to resist…we can easily slip into sin. We need to be on the alert for this scheme. Sin is like a radioactive rock. When we are near it, it seems harmless while at the same time it is destroying us. Be on the alert! Stop lying to yourself about how dangerous sin is and how strong you think you are to resist.
James instructs us to take sin seriously, “submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:7-10. Let’s take sin seriously and turn and run from it rather than dabble in it.
If conflict came from outside the church the church would rally together to resist the conflict. Satan’s scheme is to create conflict from within a church. We should all be on the alert to “put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love — the perfect bond of unity, Col. 3:12-14. Be extra patient with one another. Recognize the extra temptation toward conflict that you may be sensing this month as Satan’s scheme. Add the humility that comes when you confess your sin. Make unity a high value.
Finally, Satan goes after the leaders. “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered,” Mark 14:27. Pray especially for shepherds in the church as they may be tempted to get the ministry done rather than walk closely with Jesus. The subtlety here is to recognize that sometimes ministry is the enemy of a close walk with Jesus.
If you fall, or if someone gets captured by the allure of sin that makes you like everyone else except Jesus. You have to humble yourself and confess your sin, “The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.” Prov. 28:13. Let’s remember that our goal is to restore the person who has fallen, “you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.” Gal. 6:1.
Let’s be on the alert!