Thursday, April 6, 2017

"Behold, the world has gone after Him."

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, a preaching and worship service I always look forward to. There is such contrast and irony in Jesus' last week of ministry from this Sunday to Friday, that it presents an opportunity for a preacher that seems to jump off the page.

Now in readying for this story I am drawn to the words spoken by the Pharisees and recorded in John's gospel, chapter 12. Verse 19 reads, So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him." And though these words are spoken from anger, jealously, fear and distrust - and likely as hyperbole or sarcastic exaggeration to make their point, I know in large measure - at least in Western Culture, what was spoken became true. For think of it! What might our world be like had this, following after Christ, not become so?

May I start by asking that we consider art?  Or, how about music, medicine, exploration and science? Imagine any one of these without a devotion for Christ as their motive - not to mention the oft applied subject of God's creation and design. Imagine our moral and ethical code, or law and our views of individual liberty and freedom without the influence prompted by Christ.  More-so, imagine theology without first the salvation experiences of Paul, or John Calvin; or church practice and Christian home-life without the convictions of Luther; or social justice without the teaching, methodology and practice outlined by Wesley. In modern times, consider the abolitionist movement void of Christians, might it have even occurred?  Or, our American Civil Rights movement without the leadership of Christ-follower, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Indeed, history records that it is from those who have chosen to follow after Christ though whom we have realized our greatest change. 

Are there alternative examples to consider? Those not so good - such as those horrific examples of abuse in the 'name' of Christ? Unfortunately, yes, but these are before us only in name - and not from hearts set upon Him and warmed by His grace. History records the difference. So that I stand today as one who is grateful over the proclaimed prophetic 'truth' by the Pharisees - albeit un-intentioned - as they cried, 'behold the world has gone after Him."   

But... there is something more in this proclamation. Jesus, from Luke's gospel at chapter 19, responding to the Pharisees over this very complaint and attitude, i.e. "Teacher rebuke your disciples" said this: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Lk. 19:39-40) Which is a reminder, I believe, of God's Word concerning the ultimate, intended honor of His only begotten Son. One we dare never forget. For though we might 'feel' the world has turned from God, and from Christ and His gospel, we should be encouraged with the truth of what it is that God has done, and by what will one day be so - even into eternity: Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

Yes, God's esteem of the Son will be so! Entering Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday, over shouts of Hosanna, Jesus could hear the cries of the Pharisees from the rooftops -  'the world has gone after him.' And... responding to their derision and rebuke, not in spite but in truth, from His rightful place of - not just a donkey -  but God's throne, said plainly... I will not! 


Down from glory He came. Bearing my sin and my shame. 
'The world,' they complained.  'Silence,' they exclaimed. 
But "No," Christ replied. This shall not be denied.
For my Father has decreed this as so.    

Hosanna, indeed!  

Pastor Sam 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pastor Josh & Easter 2017

These are very exciting days for ParkwayHills, as on Sunday, March 26 we voted to call our next Senior Pastor, Dr. Josh Allen of League City, Texas.  He and his wife, Jessie - along with children, Josie, Joy and Joel - are already precious to us, and will be a such a blessing for our church. Belinda and I could not be more thrilled as we love them already, and look forward to their being with us permanently this June.

Now as I've often said, ParkwayHills is our life's work - and Belinda and I look forward to remaining in this community and serving with you as pastor emeritus and fellow members set for reaching others and building of God's Kingdom. Of course, we will step away this summer and early fall - both for some much needed rest and to give Josh and Jessie ample opportunity to become established as our new leaders. This said, until then I will be here each Sunday through June 11 - and preaching on Sundays April 9, 16, 30, May 14, and June 4.  On April 23 Wesley Morris with Revive Texas will be our guest preacher.  And on Sunday's May 7 and 21 - though I will be here - various teams from our church have planned special days for us and to give thanks to God for His rich blessings over these last 28 years.

So... my word for you today is remain faithful and make ready for even greater work. We finished our fiscal year strong, but, with April a new one has begun.  And, because we live in a world so in need of the comfort and constancy that comes from a church committed to the gospel and to loving those who surround them, our work is far from over.  ParkwayHills has done this so well, and we should expect nothing less in the days to come. We believe God calls each member to His church for a purpose that goes beyond self and unto mission. And, because He is the one who chose to plant this particular church facility on this busiest of corridors stretching north and south through the heart of West Plano, Frisco, Carrollton, Addison and Dallas, His calling includes a commission, one reminding us we have much yet to do. Amen?

So don't miss the coming days at ParkwayHills.  Pray for Pastor Josh and his family as they transition into this community. Remain faithful - both with your finances and presence - and reengage in our mission, one to reach others who do not yet know the love of Christ and/or are in need of a church community where they may grow in their faith and service to Him. As you've heard me say through the years - this call is not rocket science, it is a clear call directly from our LORD, and it still works - one person at at time.

He is Risen, indeed!

Pastor Sam

Palm Sunday, & LORD'S Supper Worship Service - April 9, 9:30 and 10:45 am
Good Friday Worship Service - April 14, 7:00 pm
Church Family and Community Eggstravaganza - April 15 - 9:00 am
Easter Sunday - April 16, 9:00 and 10:45 am

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Morning from Phoenix AZ.

Good morning.  As I write this I am sitting on a folding chair in the hallway of Weinberg Elementary School in Gilbert, AZ.  I am readying for worship with the FreedomLIFE Church of Phoenix, which is part of an exciting emphasis by Southern Baptists to plant churches in larger metropolitan cities across the US.  The cities were chosen based upon their size and because they each hold near negligible ratio’s of evangelical populations and witness. In short, few people claim to be followers of Christ in these cities – hence, the emphasis. 

We are here working with Pastor Shea Ferguson, who, at the call of God upon both he and his wife, Amber, have uprooted themselves and their four children to move here from Georgia and become church planters. ParkwayHills is one of a handful of churches lending them financial support, and this weekend our Missions and Women’s Minister, Suzi Prizer, arranged for us to come and help them with a block party, neighborhood canvassing, partnership with an area pregnancy center, and by bringing encouragement, love and support. Needless to say, for Belinda and me, this has brought back memories of our own journey – one which began for us 28 years ago this month. 

So this morning I asked Pastor Shea what he wanted from me for this final day of our visit, and he told me he wanted me to preach.  I said, “No, Pastor! You preach! This is your church.” Then he added, ‘but, Pastor, our people need to hear from someone who has already done this, and who can tell them that they, through the power of God, can do this too.’  I understood.  So my text in a few moments will be from Matthew 16 – which reminds us that upon Peter’s confession, our confession and the very same confession of all others who will follow, God WILL build His church. And with longing and love in my heart for this pastor, his family and precious church, I will say so once again.  And… I will, of course, remember. I will remember the days of Brinker Elementary school in Plano, the handful of families who came in 1989, the challenges we faced, and the joy and miracle we witnessed over and again. For, indeed, it really is so - God WILL, and DOES, build His church, still.  
So thank you ParkwayHills for giving me, Belinda, Bobby & Kim Adams, Mark Goode, Jim Hitt, Walter Mickels & Lisa Vanderburg the opportunity to go to Phoenix this weekend and tell this pastor and his small flock what we, too, have seen and know – that, ‘with God all things are possible’ - especially the building of His church. For, as the text says...

You are Peter (Petros), and upon this rock (petra – meaning your confession that I am the Christ) I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail (stand) against it.’   Matthew 16: 18 

Blessings from Phoenix, indeed!  

Pastor Sam

Monday, January 9, 2017

MISSION/17 - Legacy

As we begin a new year of ministry at ParkwayHills, I must tell you that I am very excited. For me, Belinda and a handful of others this excitement was born many years ago, as we huddled together against the winter winds of 1989 - praying round fireplaces of living rooms and dens - then stepped out to begin a mission that would one day become this church we now all love. But beyond those years, in countless events and meetings, in strategy sessions et. al, I have not held any greater sense of God’s blessing, plans or purpose than I do now. The why of this is clear to me, and I pray it is clear to you. For I believe that ParkwayHills is entering upon a year that will determine not just the future of this church but the eternal future of hundreds who will walk through our doors to be changed, challenged and prepared to walk out as ambassadors of Christ bringing salvation to others and ushering us ever closer to the day Jesus returns.

Now, we should know that being desirous for what God wants from us must be more than a attitude of the heart, it must be a matter of our will, as well. Meaning, it must be a matter lived through discipline, fortitude, and purpose. In point, it is a matter of us being 'on mission' - and for this reason I will focus my new years winter-message series as one titled simply - MISSION/17. But, be sure, this is not to say this is a new mission. For our mission has not changed. But to say only that it is a new year. For certainly both the year and the times have changed. Yes, we look to the future with the same mission as before - grateful for our past, but only that we might build upon it, not languish in it sentimentally. And, as we do this, we do so under a challenge that bears our full attention. The series is MISSION/17 and our first message is LEGACY, begging the questions, what will we, as God’s church on the Parkway, leave behind worth remembering? What have we begun that must march on? Whom have we readied after us to continue? And... how will our legacy carry on?

Dennis and Barbara Rainey, family counselors and noted speakers, write of an American couple who walked by great faith and left a legacy far beyond anything they could have imagined. This couple lived in the early 1700s in colonial America and their names were Jonathan and Sarah Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards felt God's call to become a minister, so he and his young bride began a pastorate in a small congregation. During the years that followed, he wrote many sermons, prayers, and books, and was influential in beginning the Great Awakening in America. Together they produced eleven children who grew into adulthood. Sarah was a partner in her husband's ministry, and he sought her advice regarding sermons and matters of the church. They spent time talking about these things together, and, when their children were old enough, the parents included them in these discussions. The effects of the Edwards's lives have been far-reaching, but the most measurable results of their faithfulness to God's call is found through their descendants.

Elizabeth Dodds records a study done by A. E. Winship in 1900 in which he lists a few of the accomplishments of the 1,400 Edwards descendants he was able to find:

100 lawyers and a dean of a law school
80 holders of public office
66 physicians and a dean of a medical school
65 professors of colleges and universities
30 judges
13 college presidents
3 mayors of large cities
3 governors of states
3 United States senators
1 controller of the United States Treasury
1 Vice President of the United States (Aaron Burr)
100 missionaries, pastors and theologians

So what kind of legacy will you leave? Will it be lasting? Will it be imperishable and eternal? Or, will you leave behind only tangible items—like buildings, money or possessions?

In his last years the apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy filled with encouragement and instruction re: things he'd lived, methods he'd employed, and the purpose he had realized. In his letter he passed on a lasting legacy. He instructed Timothy to, like him, invest his life in faithful men who would be able to pass God's truth on to the next generation. Considering Paul's words, where and how does God want you to invest the time you have been given, and with whom? In living a life worthy of legacy, here is some of what Paul passed on in the opening words of  2 Timothy chapter 1. To help our thinking, I have provided an outline that came to my mind as I read these words.

Here Paul shared...

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. (Vv.1-3)

For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. (v.5)

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power and love and discipline. (v.7)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. 2 Timothy 1: 8-9

For which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. (v.11)

 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (v. 12)

A Christians legacy is born, foremost, in a relationship with Christ, and then realized through his/her life and its living. It is meted out by learning from the past, living in the present and building for the future. Great leaders leave a lasting legacy - but the greatest leaders do not become so by investing in things, but rather through investing in people. Why? Because in terms of legacy success without a successor is failure.

Yours in Christ for a lasting and eternal LEGACY,

Pastor Sam