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Archive for August, 2009

My King - Now I See Cover jpgThe healing of the man who was blind from birth is an amazing story found in the Scriptures.  As we studied together yesterday, I was acutely aware of the need to handle the Word of God with integrity and precision.  I have included a Bonus Post of study notes from John 9 with this week’s review to allow you to continue to dig into the truth of the healing power and purpose of our King.  Dig deep!

Podcast

Click here to listen to the full version of Pastor Eric’s message from John 9.

Links

Our beloved Pastor Lolo was featured in the Sweetwater Reporter last week.  You can read the full article by clicking here!

I recently discovered a great new version of the “That’s My King Video” on Youtube.  It’s longer and sassier and packs quite a punch.  Go check it out.

On the Radar

This week, our Lifegroups will join together with our Youth Group and Children’s Ministry, all under one roof!  We will have an all-church Night of Worship this Wednesday evening at 7 pm in the EFC sanctuary.  A nursery will be provided, but our older children will join us in worshipping King Jesus. 

Kid’s Church begins this Sunday for children ages 4 years – 5th grade!  For more information, see our children’s ministry page on the church website.

Our Discipleship Training Series “Beauty of the Bible,” with Peter Lopez facilitating, will begin Sunday, September 13th and run for the rest of the month on Sunday evenings.  This class will begin at 6 pm and last approximately one hour.  The class is free of charge, and a nursery will be provided.

Our ladies will be attending a great women’s conference hosted by Church on the Rock in Lubbock, Texas on the weekend of September 18-19.  Save the date for this refreshing time, gals!  Registrations must be made through EFC by Sunday, September 13thFor more information or to register, click here.

You  Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Sing to the King”
  2. “I Asked You For Life” by Kim Walker
  3. “Your Love Is Like” by Rick Pino
  4. “Mighty To Save” by Hillsong

Sunday Preview

Take the chance...September is going to be a remarkable month as we explore the spiritual truth found in Tim McGraws’s hit song “Live Like You Were Dying.”  I look forward to sharing the adventure with you!

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We concluded our series from the book of John yesterday with an exploration of the story of healing of a man who was blind from birth.  Our primary focus was on the conversation between Jesus and His disciples’ in John 9:1-5.

This story is an absolutely amazing encounter with the healing grace of our Lord and it is written in more detail than most of the other stories in the book of John.  It highlights the tension that is occurring between Jesus and the Pharisees, and this passage contains one of the biggest misunderstandings of Scripture in the Bible.

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB jpg 

What conclusion can we draw from this text?  At first glance, it appears that God made this man blind so Jesus could come along and heal him.  We are going to explore the language of this text and see if we can reveal how this misconception occurred.

If we begin to apply the basic principles of Biblical interpretation, a different picture unfolds.

It is important to remember that our oldest manuscripts of the New Testament are in Greek.  They are hand written, they are written without punctuation or spaces between words, and they contain very few capitalizations.

When scholars work with these texts, they not only have to translate the words, but have to determine where sentences begin and end as well.  Sometimes it is their subjective opinion that determines the location of periods and commas.

And the placement of a period or a space can make all the difference in the world!

Let me illustrate the point.  Imagine a man came home to see this letter scribbled on a note card and lying on the kitchen table.

Honey Dinner jpg  

How can we perceive this note?

 Hey, Honey dinner is on.  I love you just a little.  Trip to the store.

Or, is it possible she is telling him:

 Hey Honey, Dinner is on.  I love you.  Just a little trip to the store.

We look at those options and consider this very easy to interpret: We conclude that she loves him, they have plans for dinner, and she has gone to the store.

Our conclusion is based on our assumption of a healthy relationship.  But what if they had just had a fight?  What if her ex-boyfriend works at a store?  What honey is she having dinner with?  What exactly is a honey dinner anyway?

Remove capitalization and punctuation from the text and things can get complicated in a hurry.

Here is another illustration.

godisnowhere jpg 

What do we have in this text?

 God is now here jpg

 

When you take a confusing situation, add a language barrier and throw in about two thousand years of time, it is possible that you could misunderstand what Jesus is communicating.

I believe it all boils down to the placement of a period — and the unnecessary addition of words for clarification.

Let’s look again at the text.  We are reading from the New American Standard Bible, one of the most literal translations available.

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB jpg 

You may notice that some of the words are in italics.  The preface to the NASB reads, “Italics are used in the text to indicate words which are not found in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek but implied by it.”  The italicized words included in this literal translation of the Scripture are an attempt by the translators to increase readability and understanding of the text.  When translators cross the line of adding “implied words,” they have moved from the function of translation and take on the role of interpreting the Scripture. 

A certain level of interpretation from translators of the Scripture is to be expected, but the interpretation will always pass through the filter of human bias and understanding.

So, literally, the words in italics are not found in the original language.  You could cross them out of your Bible and not be altering the Word of God.

Let’s try it —

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB crossed out jpg

 

This is very interesting. When we take out the words that don’t exist in the Greek we are left with an incomplete sentence in verse three.  What do we do with that? 

We realize that the conclusion of verse three is found in verse four.

John 9 vs 1-5 NASB punctuation jpg 

You may ask, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this one verse?”

It is because this verse deals with one of the foundational lies that is attacking the church: the belief that God causes sickness in people so that He can be glorified.

And it almost looks like you can find it in the Bible.  But, when you look at the text, you realize it is grammatically incorrect to make that assumption, and it is spiritually incorrect to assume it as well.

It is theologically inconsistent for God to afflict people and for Jesus to heal them.  They would be working against each other, which could lead to the incorrect conlusion, “But God afflicted them, so that Jesus could heal them.”

The truth is God doesn’t have to afflict people.  There is enough brokeness in the world without the creator and sustainer of life hurting people.

Another essential aspect of Biblical interpretation is allowing the Bible to interpret itself.  It is important to allow the Sciptures to bring clarity to difficult concepts contained therein.

Let’s look at what else the Bible says about the relationship between Jesus and God concerning healing and the source of brokeness.

Acts 10 vs 38 jpg

Question: According to this passage, who did Jesus heal?

Answer: All who were oppressed by the devil.

Question: Where is God according to this passage?

Answer: God is with Jesus.

It does not say Jesus went around healing those who were oppressed by God.  Jesus healed those who were oppressed by the devil.  The reason Jesus appeared was to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

When you see Jesus — you see the perfect revelation of the heart of God.

The confusion occurs because all of us have seen situations where someone we know or love has come through a tragic situation and drawn closer to God on the other side.

Our natural deduction is to assume God did that to them so they would learn to depend on Him.  That is where the lie creeps in —- but, the truth is that God cannot give what He doesn’t have.  God doesn’t have sickness.  He doesn’t have disease.  God is not poor or broken or ashamed.  He doesn’t give that junk away.

We live in a broken world, and people get broken because of the brokenness of sin.  But, God is not the one breaking, He is the one healing.

It is important to understand this today so we can learn to trust the heart of the Father and know His intention of goodness toward us.

Jer 29 vs 11 jpg

The key to the confusion in John 9:3 really comes from the fact that the disciples are asking the wrong question.  They are wanting to know “Why?”  Why is he blind?  Why did it happen to him?  Why aren’t I blind?  Did sin cause this? If so, whose sin?

We hear the disciples question, and we want to know the answer, too.

Why do bad things happen to good people?  Why is there hurting, hunger, and brokeness in the world.

Why?  Why?  Why?

The fact is: Jesus doesn’t often answer the why question. 

He doesn’t feel a need to justify Himself or your circumstances to you.  Rarely, if ever, do we discover why.

When we look to John 9:3 for the answer to “Why?” of course we get confused, because Jesus is not answering “Why?”

Jesus is telling us “What now?”

The key to moving forward in life isn’t found in asking “Why?”  The question we must consider is, “What do I do now?”  Jesus will lead you through that question.

 

(Blogger’s Note: A special thanks to Pastor Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California, for first introducing me to this remarkable truth from John chapter 9.)

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Children DancingA key part of starting the new school year is shopping for new school clothes.  Somehow, last year’s pants and shoes just don’t fit anymore.  The start of the new semester is a marker that our children, indeed, are growing, and all of the food we have been shoveling into them must be accomplishing something.

As we begin the 2009 school year, we are discovering as a congregation that we, also, need to make room to grow.  The sanctuary just isn’t fitting us in the way it did last year.  We are considering several possibilities to make room for growth as a church, from enlarging the sanctuary to adding an additional Sunday morning service.

One immediate course we are choosing to follow is the implementation of a Sunday morning “Kids’ Church.”  Following the Kids’ Church model means our children ages four to fifth grade will be able to head to their classes immediately upon arriving to church on Sunday morning.  Our Nursery and Toddler’s class will still be available through the entire service as usual, but the Toddler class will now begin their lesson by 10:30 am.

Pastor Lorin has assembled a team to help her coordinate worship and opening activities for the children during the worship portion of the Sunday service, after which the children will break out into their regular Sunday morning classes for Bible study and learning activities.

Parents will simply need to register their children in the foyer for their classes at the beginning of church, and, at the conclusion of the service, the children will be escorted to the sanctuary during the closing song.

I believe the transition to Kids’ Church will provide a wonderful opportunity for our children to experience church in an age appropriate and exciting environment, and offers a great follow up to our Kids’ School of Worship with a semester of continued hands-on training.  In the process, it allows additional space in the sanctuary to accommodate ministry to more families in our community.  Please join us in prayer as we continue our purpose of bringing life to our city.

Other key transitions occurring during our move to Kids’ Church include:

  • Alignment of age based curriculum.  Our nursery through high school will be following the same scope and sequence of Bible study.  This will allow families an excellent opportunity to review and reinforce the weekly lessons.
  •  Addition of “Home Connection” handouts.  The Home Connection handouts provide a tool for parents to engage their children in Biblical discussion throughout the week.
  • Addition of 2-3 year old “Toddlers” class.  Our nursery will be divided into two spaces, with supervision to separate our crawlers from our walkers.  A new door has been installed to check in each of these age groups to the nursery separately.
  • Sunday morning registration.  All of our children will be registered for Kids’ Church in the foyer before going to their classes.  Registration provides a safe handoff and opportunity for communication with our parents.
  • Kids’ worship team.  Our children will be participating in Kids’ Church as they learn how to minister to God and one another through their own worship band and ministry teams.

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woman's face vectorWhen we think of Jesus talking to “the woman at the well” in John Chapter 4, the first thing on our minds is usually the conversation itself.  What must it have been like to hear a man tell you “everything you ever did?”  I can’t imagine very many of us would have signed up for that heart to heart!

Yet, there is so much more to the story.  That woman goes on to be the first missionary recorded in the New Testament.  She leaves her life-changing encounter with Jesus and immediately begins spreading the word about Him to her relatives, friends, and fellow townspeople—all of whom would have had to have known about her scandalous past.  Yet, somehow she is freed from shame through her interaction with Jesus to the point of being able to invite others to come meet Him themselves. 

Now that is missions in action!

Today, I’d like for you to ask yourself, “Who would I bring to introduce to Jesus if He visited my town?”  Write down the faces that come to mind.  It’s these people who are in your sphere of influence.  And the good news is, Jesus is in your town.  So, don’t wait any longer.  It’s time to introduce the people God has put in your life to the One who can “tell them everything they ever did” and love them anyway.  I assure you those are the kinds of introductions your King can’t wait to have!

And this week, remember our students and teachers who are going back into the public schools.  Pray for them, that they will be missionaries to their campuses, bringing the “living water” Jesus offers to those who need it most.

Links

Check out this beautiful illustration of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well from the Good News Translation of the Bible.

 

Our ladies will be attending a great women’s conference hosted by Church on the Rock in Lubbock, Texas on the weekend of September 18-19.  Save the date for this refreshing time, gals!  For more information, check out their website at http://www.cotrlubbock.com/.

On the Radar

Our Lifegroups continue this Wednesday, August 26th, at 7:00 pm.  Lifegroups are the heartbeat of our congregation, so find one to plug in to!  Children’s and Youth ministry runs simultaneously at the church.  This semester, we will offer the following four groups:

  • Lotzenhiser (Family Group) at 1415 Stanley – meeting this week at the Doak’s home at 2489 FM 419 S
  • Ferguson (Alpha Course) at 1426 Stanley  *** recommended for new believers or new members of EFC! ***
  • Jay Neal (Women’s Group) at the Sweetwater Prayer Center 
  • Peter Lopez (Hebrew’s Bible Study) at EFC

Go to www.efcsweetwater.com for maps!

Our youth will meet for an on-site Bible study this Wednesday.  We will meet at 7:00 pm at the church, travel together to a surprise location, and return to the church by 8:45 pm.  Check out the new youth website at www.efcyouth.com for more info—and this week it has some clues for the location so you can come prepared!

Ladies’ Fellowship this Friday, August 28th, 7 pm, at the home of Karen Graves.  To register for childcare for this event, please log on to www.efcsweetwater.com and click on the Ladies’ Fellowship link.  Childcare is free, but children must be registered by today.

You  Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “By Faith” – (unavailable on the internet)
  2. “Jesus Forever” by Anthony Skinner
  3. “Perfect Peace” by Mindy von Atzigen (unavailable on the internet)
  4. “God of this City” Chris Tomlin version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, we will conclude our series “That’s My King!”  Our final encounter from the book of John will be in chapter 9, where we discover a man born blind from birth.  I wonder if he stays that way after he meets Jesus?

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Jacob's Well

Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at a well is one of the most recognizable stories in the Bible.  But, as is often the case, it is easier for us to recognize what Jesus is saying to someone else than it is to hear what He is saying to us.  What if we were the main character in the story?  How would it be told then?  “The Encounter at Jacob’s Well” pulls this familiar story from the pages of ancient history and places it in a modern coffee shop.  Suddenly we realize that we are not called to be spectators of someone else’s encounter, rather, we are called to live our own. 

I invite you to read the account from John 4 below and let a desperate woman’s prayer resound in your heart, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

John 4:1-42 (NIV)
The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

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See the WorldVision is a precious gift.  It allows us to appreciate beauty.  It provides us a tool to recognize people and places.  One of the most important aspects of vision is the ability it gives us to establish a path to get where we want to go.

In Acts 20:20, we are introduced to a remarkable vision for the church.  Paul says to the Ephesian church,

“You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.”

It is essential for the Body of Christ that the ministry of the gospel extend beyond the four walls of the public “church” meeting and into the homes of believers. It is with this vision in mind that we established ourselves as a Lifegroup based church. 

The vision for EFC is that the message of our Lord Jesus would be proclaimed both publicly and from house to house in Sweetwater, Texas.  It is my dream that every member of our congregation would know the joy of welcoming friends into their home to worship the Lord. 

As our Lifegroups resume for the Fall Semester, I invite you to catch the vision and get connected with a Lifegroup.  We have some great opportunities available this semester for fellowship and ministry.

Check On the Radar to find a Lifegroup that is right for you!

Podcast

Follow the link to access this Sunday’s message “Caught” from John Chapter 8.

Links

The “Encounter the Cross” weekend is August 28-30.  You can discover more and register to attend by going to http://www.waterhoseministries.com/encounters.html.  You can also contact Curtis Ward at chward4@yahoo.com for any additional information.

On the Radar

Are you a new member at EFC?  Interested in joining and partnering with us?  We invite you to attend a Membership Dessert tonight at the church at 7:00 pm.  Childcare will be available.

Our Lifegroups will kick off the Fall Semester this Wednesday, August 19th, at 7:00 pm, and our children will begin their new semester of Wednesday evening Kids’ Church the same night.  This semester, we offer the following four groups:

  • Lotzenhiser (Family Group) at 1415 Stanley – Meeting this week at the Doak’s home at 2489 FM 419 S
  • Ferguson (Alpha Course) at 1426 Stanley
  • Jay Neal (Women’s Group) at the Sweetwater Prayer Center – Meeting this week at Jay’s home at 901 W. Bradford.
  • Peter Lopez (Hebrew’s Bible Study) at EFC

Go to www.efcsweetwater.com for maps!

Please continue to pray for our children and teachers as they head back to school next Monday.  We will also offer a time of prayer in the Sweetwater Prayer Center for our schools this Sunday evening, 6:00-7:30 pm.  All students or school staff are invited to attend this come and go prayer time.  Our children’s pastor, Lorin Lopez, will have a team of prayer warriors ready to pray for you!

Our youth will meet for an on-site Bible study this Wednesday.  We will meet at 7:00 pm at the church, travel together to a surprise location, and return to the church by 8:45 pm.  Check out the new youth website  for more info!

Ladies’ Fellowship coming Friday, August 28th, 7 pm, at the home of Karen Graves.  To register for childcare for this event, please log on to www.efcsweetwater.com and click on the Ladies’ Fellowship link.  Childcare is free, but children must be registered by this Sunday.

You  Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “See His Love” by Kim Walker
  2. “Your Love Is Everything” by Chris Quilala
  3. “Healer” (Click here to watch the Kari Jobe version of this song.)
  4. “Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, we will continue our series “That’s My King!” from the book of John.  We will enjoy a dramatic presentation of the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well, so bring someone with you who needs an encounter with Jesus Christ!

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