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Great Expectations

My Grandpa Edwards once told my father that there would be no need for anyone to feel sorry for him when he died because he had witnessed so many inventions and world-changing events during his lifetime.  He had seen aviation become a real thing.  People flew.  He had seen the invention of the automobile, electric lights, and the telephone.  His eyes had watched the coverage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.  People had left the planet and had returned.  Yes, Grandpa saw so many things and he told Dad that he would have the same experience one day.

My Dad saw the refinement of all the things Grandpa had seen and much more.  He saw Skylab and the Space Shuttle.  Dad also enjoyed microwave ovens, computers, and mobile phones.  He and his generation would see supersonic flight, fuel injection engines and synthetic turf.  He saw the Astrodome, then the 8th wonder of the world, and he saw record albums turn to 8-track tape turned into cassettes, to CD’s and then into MP3’s.  That’s not to mention live streaming of video and audio over the internet.  

When I was younger, Dad told me the same thing that Grandpa had told him and I expected to see great things.  I was not disappointed.  I saw refinements to all Dad had seen and I have enjoyed the arrival of many newer things with him and Mom.  Two days ago, I drove to the DMV in Lake Charles.  My driver’s license had expired and I was going to replace it.  As I pulled into the parking place outside the DMV, I realized that I didn’t have my insurance ID cards which were necessary in order for me to renew my license.  Just 10 years ago, I would have had to call my insurance agent, a fete that I could’ve accomplished on a cell phone but only 20 years ago I would’ve had to find a payphone.  For those too young to remember, a payphone was a landline phone that was housed in a booth and was usually located outside.  After I called, I would’ve had to have driven to the agent’s office to retrieve the typed or printed cards and then I could return to the DMV to start the process towards a new license.  

Two days ago, I called my wife from my car on a smartphone.  She then called the agent who then e-mailed the cards to my phone through my e-mail account.  My wife had texted me in the meantime to inform me what was going to happen.  Within 5 minutes of my call to my wife, I had the new cards on my phone.  I presented the cards and my other information to the clerk and walked out of the DMV with my new license in less than 30 minutes.  If I had known that my insurance company provided an app for the cards, I could have been done in less time than it would have taken me to drive to the agent’s office and back.  

Further amazement awaited me because I am typing all of this blog entry on a tablet while using a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.  At your reading of this article, I will have uploaded the file to the cloud, e-mailed the file to another person or given another individual access to the file; waited for them to download it to their computer or smartphone or more likely they will have used their phone to transfer the file to our church website.  Earlier, I streamed TV shows from Netflix to the same tablet.  

Wow!  And with all that, God is still the most amazing being.  I will never see more iterations of better and better versions.  He is already perfect.  He was magnificent and holy God before my Grandpa, and before my Dad, and before Me.  He will be the same tomorrow for my kids and for my grandkids.  I bought a hat today and it has written on the front, “Old guys rule.”  On the back it says, “The older I get, the better I was.”  With age, our minds tend to embellish who we were and what we could do.  But God truly has always been great, and He will reign forever and ever.  He needs no improvement and man cannot fully fathom His greatness.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13-8, ESV).”  His ways are not our ways.  Man grows, changes, and morphs.  God remains who He is.  We simply learn more about Him.

God used all givers in our church to give at a record clip in 2015.  Together, we gave more tithes and offerings than had ever been given in any other year in the church’s history.  God was glorified in the giving and in the spending of that money.  People heard the gospel and were saved when they placed their faith in Jesus.  They believed in the same Jesus as my Grandpa, my Dad, and I. As you and I look forward to 2016 and beyond, let us have great expectations at what God will reveal of Himself and let us look forward to growing in our faith and to exercising that faith. 

-Senior Pastor Randy Edwards



Idyllic Reality

Louisiana is my home.  I grew up here in Lake Charles and I enjoyed a very good childhood.  My summer days were filled with baseball, bicycle rides across our city, and friendships that lasted forever (or until summer's end, which seemed like the same thing).  When I hear people describe those days as idyllic, I agree.  And I'm thankful they were real.

In recent weeks, our state has been rocked by gunfire and we have seen some of our citizens wounded and killed by those shots.  We've even seen some of the strong and courageous among us, our police officers, slain in the line of duty.  When we see those who protect us suffer the ultimate sacrifice, we are reminded that none of us are invincible.  

As the fabric of our lives have been textured and torn in light of what seems to be the reign of evil in our society, many have wondered what can be done to turn things around.  What can we do to see our communities as safe places for our children?  What can be done to turn back the evil tide that threatens to overtake us? How can we reassure those close to us that things will be okay?

We remember Isaiah 41:10:

 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

That verse helps us to remember and to practice Proverbs 12:25:

Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (Proverbs 12:25 ESV)

Then we are given 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18:

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 ESV)

Some would say that seems idyllic. I'm simply reminded that it's real.  I'm asking you to seek God's strength, to give a good word to others, and to pray.  If you need help to start your prayer, may I offer this from an article entitled, Fifteen ways to Lead Group Prayer:

Pray from a cleansed life and heart (James 5:16)

Pray with perseverance and persistence (Matthew 7:7-11)

Pray specific prayers (Matthew 9:35-38)

Pray with a sensitivity to God’s Spirit (Psalm 46:10)

Pray Spirit-filled prayers (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Pray in accordance with God’s will (Luke 22:39-46)

Pray with a view toward obedience and service (Psalm 126:4-6)

This is a good start to reassuring those close to us that it will be okay.

-Randy Edwards - Senior Pastor



What Does it Mean to be Missional?

What does it mean to be missional?  Since the early 1990's the word "missional" has been tossed around in churches and seminaries almost as frequently as the word "purpose".  Missional was and is a buzzword and for some, that's all it ever becomes- a buzzword.

Before I knew there was a word to describe what I believed to be a very important answer to the lethargic lukewarm broth that was the church in the early '90's, I struggled to find a way to have conversations with other pastors about the next steps for church development.  I found that very few could describe what they meant by missional.

Will Mancini has what I've come to believe is the best definition of missional.  "Essentially it is a way of thinking that challenges the church to re-form and reforge its self-understanding (theologically, spiritually, and socially) so that it can relearn how to live and proclaim the gospel in the world.  Perhaps the best motto of the reorientation is the imperative to 'be the church.'  Church is not something you do or a place you go to, but what you are."

My experience in the early '90's was that people were attempting to construct a new paradigm for "doing church" when the real need was for all of us to adopt the biblical paradigm to be the church.  Through the years, I've changed my term for this paradigm and I use it here at Sale Street.  We are Mission!  Our mission is clear.  We are to make disciples, and doing so requires us to be genuine in our love for God and of others.  It requires us to live a life, reflective of the image of God through Jesus in order that people might inquire about our faith. 

I believe that a Christian should be a committed disciple, and the life that arises from that commitment should exhibit fruit that is recognizable to all.  The transformation that occurs as we allow God to change us is noticeable to others.  If each of us continues to be changed by Jesus, we can impact the world for Him!  We are Mission!

-Senior Pastor Randy Edwards