Monday, November 17, 2014

Snow Dust and Joy (speaking of which)

I cannot recall a time that the Dallas area has seen snow in November, though I am certain our history has known it. It's just that it is rare, and my memory (albeit romantically suspect) is not immediately aware. But that is what I awakened to today - a dusting of snow on my roof and lawn - becoming the determining factor that my home, too, would join the other 'earlies' in turning the radio to Christmas - and Belinda is celebrating!

Speaking of which (or whom), Belinda was gone this past weekend. She was on a "Spark Ministry" Mission trip, leaving me to brave the cold alone. I was fine for the most part, though I did miss her, finding myself - for the first time in weeks - facing a weekend without a wedding by keeping busy with Hospital visits, calls and sermon prep. So much of my time was by the fireplace, with pen and computer in hand, and taking to the joy of catching up on actually 'listening' to the God I serve.

Speaking of which (and weddings), this has certainly been my year to perform them. The calendar shows that since the middle of August I have performed 9 weddings. In the month of October there was not one weekend I was not performing at least one, and this has been one wonderful stretch of ministry for me as I do enjoy these so. As I think about this there is no happier time for a pastor to serve a family, and I consider it a great blessing to have officiated over 600 of these over the last 30 years. And... guess what? My calendar shows I have at least one more before year-end. It is for Katie, a beautiful young woman who grew up in our church, so I am certain this will be as joyous as all the others have been. For, after all, it only takes a 'dusting' of joy, like today's snow, to change one's radio station. (Phil 4:8) Amen? Amen!


Pastor Sam

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day - 2014

Dr. Jim Denison writes in his 'Forum on Truth and Culture ' today regarding apathy, or one might say pessimism and 'checking out,' of Americans in their political process.  Alarmingly, I find this to be true even among church members, who, painfully, are often little more than 'christianized' (lower c) versions of the culture they inhabit.

But hear me - Jesus did not call us to apathy regarding any of life's issues - neither the gospel nor our politics. Instead, He has called us to be as salt and light - so that every decision we make and action we take might be with the intention of making Him known.  

Some would argue that a "Christian vote' must 'always' be for one party or platform - the party or platform supporting all conservative issues, for instance.  But, I would argue that Jesus may be less concerned with our issues than we. What matters to our Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, is that we who know Him are lending due diligence to the charge He's given - the gospel. And this may be done even while standing in a polling line.

In America we've been given such privilege, and by choosing not to vote we miss an opportunity to bear witness to our calling of presenting Christ as we tender our privilege and responsibility as citizens of honor. In short, rendering to Caesar that which is Caesar's is more than just paying taxes, it is modeling our good citizenship before all of God's people, so that all may know that a Christ-servant is, in the least and for the best, a servant of all.

In the end our hope must be to realize what matters most - that sharing the gospel of Christ is of utmost importance, not winning or losing an election. And, that by participating in all of life excellently, with 'Christ-skin' on, we might utilize our most effective voice.

Jesus said, 'if I be lifted up I will draw all me unto me,' which is both a theological truth and a practical reality. Christ was lifted onto a cross to become our way of salvation, and... as we lift Him up in everyday citizenship people still see Him - even when standing in line at the polls.

Blessed Voting,

Pastor Sam

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer's End Series begins tomorrow - 'The Power of God' (1. Cor., chp. 1-3)

... but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God... 1 Cor. 1: 23-24 (in part)

It is good to be back in Plano, Texas. Our plane arrived at DFW last evening and stepping into the Texas heat we were reminded that there are many reasons we live here other than our summer weather.

Likewise, there is reason the church thrives and remains strong through any changes to weather, culture, or evening news, too. Certainly more than any utopia found on earth, it is the forgiveness of sin and our reconciliation to God through Christ - with resurrection and heaven as a promise yet to come. This is our joy! Our 'smile' in spite of the 'summer's heat', and exactly what our church will celebrate over the next 3 Sunday's. For we, the local body of Christ - parkwayhills, have experienced an amazing summer of God's power. Record attendance and professions of faith in each of our summer mission events (both on campus and off) have reminded us that Christ really is the power of God.

So come join me - both tomorrow, August 17, and each Sunday, August 24 and 31, as we worship and celebrate what God has done through the power of His Son, Jesus Christ. My preaching series will be taken from the book of 1. Cor. chapters 1-3, and I look forward to seeing you...

In the morning,

Pastor Sam  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Brasil 2014, Day 10, 'Coming Home'

It has been a long day, but we are finally readying for our international flight to Miami. The team has been wonderful, but far too tired for me to try to put them all in one pic.  Suffiice it to say, I have absolutely adored being with these people. They have been amazing.  And, I will never forget how we became as one family in Christ over the last 10 Days. 

They are...

Doug Benton
Elizabeth Benton
Gracie Breitenfeld
Carla Cox
Chris Davenport
Jessica DeFrancisco
Sam Dennis
Taylor Dennis Butler
Hannah Gentry
Debbie Irons
Kyle Keeter
Mattie Keeter
Phil Kennedy
Leland Kennedy
Claire Olivier
Lauren Powell
Arianna Rodrigues
Arabella Rodrigues
Araceli Rodrigues
Glenn Sampson
Grace Verges
Mike Weaver
Kayla Weaver

They each have been the hands and feet of Jesus in Brasil! 

Now... it's time for the same at home. 

Deus Abençoe, 

Pastor Sam 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Brasil 2014, Saturday, 2 August - 'From Medina City Home'

The work here in Medina City has been so very fruitful. I am writing this blog just minutes prior to our last evening service here (Saturday night); though I may not be able to post till Sunday. Right now our team is rushing to shower, dress, then head up the hill to the municipal gymnasium. We are exhausted but filled with the grace and provision of God at seeing HIM bring people to himself. In Medina over 500 decsions have been recorded thus far - and in our two cities combined we have seen just under 1,000 professions of faith. This is simply a number, one of many means of our measuring, for we know it is God who knows the true number. Only He knows how many more have received the gospel whom we were not able to get record of. Especially among those precious teens in the schools who raised there hands to say 'yes' to Christ for salvation. 

As to our last day in Medina, today was just as full as our first two days here. It was 'Market Day' and the streets were absolutely packed. Taking advantage of this, our Saturday morn was spent on the streets near the cities market and heart - singing, playing circle games with children, painting faces, making baloons, offering social services/blood pressure checks and, of course, street preaching with aid of guitars. As I was doing this, I could not help but be reminded of the way my call to preach was first begun - on the streets of Wichita, Kansas, with a guitar. I found myself smiling at this warm snd reminiscent thought - and of God's power, providence and call over all these years.  

In the afternoon we traveled by bus to a a smaller town leaving half of our team behind in Medina City, visiting in homes door to door. It was an amazing day.  

We will load the bus at 3:30 in the morning in order to leave at 4:00 am for travel to Montes Claros. There we will enjoy a closing service with the other P70 teams who have been doing the same as we in another area of Minas Gerais. Pray for us as we travel to Montes; then as we fly to Belo Horizonte and board a US flight to Miami overnight. The trip home has few breaks affording us 30 plus 'tough' hours of travel.  So we will be ready to see DFW and YOU, on Monday.  

Deus Abençoe, 

Pastor Sam 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Brasil 2014, Day 8, August 1, "White Unto Harvest"

Medina City may not be listed on any 'desirable place to visit' list by the citizens of Minas Gerais, but it is a city of significant opportunity for the proclamation and reception of the gospel.  Children and teens are everywhere - and Thursday and Friday have been packed with visiting area schools to offer VBS/Childrens activities for the younger and sex education/abstinence sessions for the older. In both cases - with each visit - we are given a wide open opportunity to share Christ by the educators. What an amazing thing this is! Certainly something ordained of God. And we have walked boldly through this 'open door' that God has has provided us. 

As in Salinas before, each night we are holding evangelistic services here, too. In this town the church is small, and so we are havng these services in the municpal Gymnasium. And, though the acoustics are atrocious, the people - espeically the young - are enthusiastic. 

To be sure, our team is tiring, but the results of seeing so many coming to Christ have more than made up for our fatigue. This year we have added quite a number of older PHSM students to our team. These students have been, in a word, unbelievable. With mature attititudes and conduct above reproach, as a pastor I cound not be more proud of them. Hannah Gentry, one of our most excellent PHSM student ministers, is here with us - and she has led our teams 'share time' each night. I am grateful for her leadership.  

Tonight will be our second evening service in Medina City, and we are praying for a great response from those with whom we have talked. To these ends, and with all glory to GOD, keep us in your prayers. 

Deus Abençoe, 

Pastor Sam 

   Our amazing PHSM Students witth Hannah Gentry

The Praça in Medina City. Our bus is parked in front of our hotel.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Brasil 2014, Day 6, July 30, 'Medina City'

We arrived in our second town, Medina City, just after 1:00 pm today (Wed. July 30). This city lies to the south of Salinas approx. 140 kilometers, is in the mountains - higher elevation, and is quite cooler. So that most have donned a jacket for the evening.  

Our hotel is in the center of the city, across from the Prasa (Plaza), where we held an inaguaral outdoor rally tonight to introduce our team and, prayerfully, excite the people here of our minstry to come. The town is quite smaller than Salinas, with a lower economic base, and I suspect we may be the largest 'attraction' here for the week- if not in quite some time. 

Please pray for us as begin early tomorrow -  Thursday - and spend three very full days proclaiming Christ love for all

Deus Abençoe, 

Pastor Sam 
Our ParkwayHills Men. Ready for work in Medina City.