Sunday, September 27, 2009




· Today’s readings deal with spiritual renewal. In the Book of Numbers, we see the need for spiritual renewal among the people of God several times as they work out their salvation on the way to the land of promise.
· JI Packer in his book “Your Father Loves You” says:
Each revival movement has its own distinctive features, but the pattern is the same every time.

1. First God comes. On New Year's Eve 1739, John Wesley, George Whitefield, and some of their friends held a "love feast" which became a watch night of prayer to see the New Year in. At about 3 a.m., Wesley wrote, "the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried for exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground." Revival always begins with a restoration of the sense of the closeness of the Holy One.
2. Second, the gospel is loved as never before. The sense of God's nearness creates an overwhelming awareness of one's own sins and sinfulness, and so the power of the cleansing blood of Christ is greatly appreciated.
3. Then repentance deepens. In the Ulster revival in the 1920s shipyard workers brought back so many stolen tools that new sheds had to be built to house the recovered property! Repentance results in restitution.
4. Finally, the Spirit works fast: godliness multiplies, Christians mature, converts appear. Paul was at Thessalonica for less than three weeks, but God worked quickly and Paul left a virile church behind him.
· In summary, revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God's near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.
· Now let’s turn to Numbers 11 to hear what God wants to say to us today about spiritual renewal.

1 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them. 4 Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. 5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. 6 But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”

1. The FIRST signs of THE need for a spiritual renewal among God’s people is when a spirit of complaining, being unthankful, and boredom with God begins to spread among the people.

· In the journey through the desert on the way from Egypt to the promised land, God provided manna—a food sent from heaven that was like a spiced resin for them to use for baking and cooking, and met all their nutritional needs perfectly.
· In Numbers 11:4-6, we are told what about a serious spiritual problem that developed among God’s people.
· Among God’s people were a group the Bible calls RABBLE—a group who incited God’s people to sin.
· The rabble rousers had a problem with God—they didn’t like the food God provided. They were happier with the food they had in Egypt. They said “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” DISCONTENTS.
· If they were Christians today, they would be saying “I became a Christian and all it got me is things are worse than before I got saved. I am bored with God’s second rate provisions.
· I want to go back to my life of sin and fill the empty and boring life of being a Christian. I would have been better off staying lost in my sins than following Jesus Christ.
· So the complaint of a few disgruntled unthankful Jews begins to spread like wildfire.
· Pretty soon, all the people are complaining to Moses demanding meat, and fish, and the variety of food they had in Egypt. As JI Packer said, the people had fallen asleep spiritually. They were backslidden.
· Even though a visible sign of God’s presence was always with them—cloud/pillar, they acted as though they did not live in the presence of a holy God who is there and sees and hears them.
· What they were basically saying was, “God, you saved us, you delivered us through mighty miracles, but none of that matters, and the spiritual food you want us to have is not good enough.
· We want to go back to being slaves and living in bondage so we can be fulfilled and be happy again.
· Whenever God’s people complain about God, they need a spiritual renewal because they are already on the road back to Egypt; back to bondage to fulfill the desires of their flesh.

2. A second sign that God’s people need a spiritual renewal is leadership burnout.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin

· Here is a sign of what happens when people have fallen away from God and are in need of revival and renewal—they make their leaders miserable.
· Moses was troubled. Having to lead disgruntled backslidden complainers was making his life miserable.
· What the people were sick of was routine and the same old same old. They were bored with God giving them what they needed. God’s will and wisdom were not good enough.
· It was like a big ugly town hall meeting where the people were telling Moses they didn’t want to go where he was leading them. So Moses goes to God.
· Lord, what did I do to deserve this? I can’t give these people what they want. The burden of leading these people has become too heavy for me. I need help or just take my life now.
· Today we would say Moses was burned out--constant stress had him feeling disillusioned and completely worn out.
· Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.
· It occurs when a person feels overwhelmed and unable to meet the constant demands placed on them.
· As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest or motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
· Burnout reduces your productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.
· This is the second sign of God’s people needing renewal—burned out leadership. A burned out leader is not good for the followers.

3. How God Brings Spiritual Renewal.

16 The LORD said to Moses: "Bring me seventy of Israel's elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

A. First, when leadership suffers burnout because God’s people have turned away from God, God sends them an outpouring of the Spirit to raise up new leaders to support the leader in the ministry.

· Knowing that help is on the way is usually enough to re-energize a leader and help them overcome burnout.
· So Moses gathered the elders at the Tabernacle, and poured out His Spirit on 70 elders to help Moses.
24 So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again. [b]
· So sending the leader who is burned out new Spirit-filled leadership because God’s people have made him miserable is one of the signs that a spiritual renewal is beginning.

B. The next sign of spiritual renewal is God deals with the sin among His people.
18 "Tell the people: 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, "If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!" Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it.
· Mmm… God hears everything we say. When we think we know better than God and reject him, he will often step aside and give us an opportunity to run things our own way. Meat you want, meat you’ll get.
· The principle here is when we want things God does not want for us, he will often give us exactly what we want till we are so sick of it we don’t want it anymore.
19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, "Why did we ever leave Egypt?" ' " 31 Now the Lord sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall all around the camp. For miles in every direction there were quail flying about three feet above the ground.[c] 32 So the people went out and caught quail all that day and throughout the night and all the next day, too. No one gathered less than fifty bushels[d]! They spread the quail all around the camp to dry. 33 But while they were gorging themselves on the meat—while it was still in their mouths—the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (which means “graves of gluttony”) because there they buried the people who had craved meat from Egypt.
· Spiritual renewal happens when God has a people who want what he wants for them. He will not bless our sinful attitudes and actions. The materialistic gluttons who craved the meat of Egypt died in sin—they lost their faith by trading the spiritual for the material; their salvation for a bowl of Esau’s pottage.
· Packer: Revival is the sense of God's nearness that creates an overwhelming awareness of one's own sins and sinfulness, and so the power of the cleansing blood of Christ is greatly appreciated. Then repentance deepens. And is followed by an outbreak of evangelism and others converting to the faith.
· When sin is active among God’s people like it is in western Christianity, when we want to consume the same culture as Egypt, when we don’t like God’s ways and think we can improve God’s blueprints for His Church, God has to deal with sin so repentance can lead to a people renewed in their love of God.
· Only a people with a constantly renewed love for God evangelize others. Renewal à Revival.
· In the wilderness, God’s anger burned against the people and he struck them with a plague to remove the sin from among his people.
· At the cross, God’s anger burned against sin as Jesus was crucified and the plague of God’s wrath removed sin from God’s people.
· In today’s Gospel, we read 42"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-
· The rabble rousers caused God’s people to reject God and make Moses miserable. They were a stumbling block to God’s people.
· In our world today, there are people who promote sinful lifestyles, who tempt God’s people to reject God and be discontent with the Christian life. God says it would be better for them to get thrown into river with cement shoes than cause God’s children to fall into sin.
· So God’s Word today calls all of us to spiritual renewal. To not reject God’s provision. To not want to eat and drink what the world lives on; to not listen to the discontentment of rabble rousers, and to choose this day who you will serve—God or your own appetite to fill your empty life with sin.
This week at St. Patrick’s


In summary, revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God's near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.

1. The FIRST signs of THE need for a spiritual renewal among God’s people is when a
spirit of _____________________, being unthankful, and _______________with God begins to spread among the people.

2. A second sign that God’s people need a spiritual renewal is __________________ burnout.

3. How God Brings Spiritual Renewal.


LESSON FOR BUILDING A NEW CHURCH: One of the fundamental understandings needed in mission churches that are still getting established is that everything we do must be aiming at gathering the first 100 people as the foundation of the new church. Many new churches do not grow because they take on a posture of maintaining a church program like larger established churches.

A small church can only focus on doing one thing well--having a good Sunday service. This leads to a critical issue for St. Patrick's. If we are to be welcoming to visitors, we need to have a weekly attendance that does not leave an impression of emptiness on visitors. We simply will not be inviting to newcomers if they walk in and the church seems empty each week, and if they are coldly welcomed or not greeted at all. Always remember, every one of us at St. Patrick's is an ambassador of God's love to guests.


1-Multiply Your love through us To the lost and the least Let us be Your healing hands Your instruments of peaceMay our single purpose be To imitate Your life Through our simple words and deeds Let love be multiplied
2-Multiply Your love through me To someone in need Help me Lord to freely give This grace that I've receivedLet my single purpose be To imitate Your life Through my simple words and deeds Let love be multiplied

Let us see Your kingdom come To the poor and broken ones Let us see a mighty flood Of justice and mercy, O JesusLet love be multiplied Let love be multiplied

3-Multiply Your church through us To the ends of the Earth Where there's only barrenness Let us see new birthUse us as Your laborers Working side by side Let us see your harvest come Let love be multiplied

We fall down, we lay our crown At the feet of Jesus The greatness of His mercy and love At the feet of Jesus
We cry Holy, Holy, Holy We cry Holy, Holy, Holy We cry Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb

We purchased 17 tickets for our October 10, 2009 Fall Foliage train ride outing on the Arcade and Attica Railroad. Please reimburse Fr. Kevin personally for your tickets. They are $12.00 each. We will all meet at the train station on Main St. in Arcade, and will head to lunch at the famous Earl's Drive in on Rt. 16 in Chaffee following the event.

Mike Adams, a businessman Greensboro, NC and missionary to central American countries will be preaching in October. Mike's missions trips include bringing much needed help to families such as providing shoes to children in conjunction with evangelistic church services held in local churches. Fr. Kevin is discussing the idea of leading daily business training intensive seminars for small businesses as part of these missions efforts.

We are looking for volunteers to visit or call shut-ins who cannot make it to church, and a person to oversee our church's foreign missions involvement. We currently sponsor children in Africa, and have several missionaries asking if we have someone they can correspond with to develop awareness of their work in places like India.

Complete information about the upcoming Holy Land Tour led by Archbishop Bates is available here:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

THIS WEEK 8/30/2009

THIS WEEK AT ST. PATRICK'S--The weekly emailer of Fr. Kevin Baker

Rev. Kevin Baker invites you to be our guest 11:55 a.m. Worship/Holy Eucharist Amherst Community Church 77 Washington Highway (across from Daemen College off Main St.) Amherst, NY map here 15-20 minutes from everywhere! For more info visit our website at

SERMON SERIES: I am pioneering new territory with a new series I have decided to re-title "12 Influence Strategies of Jesus." Throughout history, the message of Jesus Christ has influenced people of all nations, demographics, and eras of history. This series is built on the idea that it is the person of Jesus himself that causes people to consider the message of truth and life he delivered.

The application in our lives is that WHO WE ARE in life is key to whether people will listen to us, and to one degree or another, "buy into" what we are offering them. Last week, we covered the first three strategies: Openness, Humility, and Capability. This week and next week we will cover the remaining nine strategies.

THE VISION: Recently, I have been engaging in a discussion with a small group of fellow ministers who have known me for over ten years to help me evaluate my life and service to God. One of the issues I have asked their help with is clarifying my values and priorities as pastor of St. Patrick's Church. Here are some first results:

1. Through the years I am defining ministerial effectiveness less by numerical measures of success such as how many people attend or the assets we own, and more by faithfulness to God and the people He entrusts into my pastoral care. Whether God gives me 25 or 2500 lives to pastor, my goal is to see them know Jesus and be equipped to glorify him in their lives.

2. I value worship focused on God rather than man. This means, I see God as the Seeker who seeks people who will worship him in Spirit and Truth, as opposed to man as the seeker. This means our church is built more on what God requires and what He says mankind needs, than on what people think they need.

3. I value being an elder in a community of people who are seeking to gather together as God's people for a weekly rest from our labors for Christ in the world, in order to be strengthened by one another's gifts and communion, to then go back into the world and live out our faith in meaningful ways that make Christ known wherever his people live and work.

4. My priority is not on programs, the institution of the church and its programs, or professionalism and clericalism. This goes back to one the first sermons I ever preached called "The Field Is the World: Not the Christian Ghetto" from Matthew 13 37He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

5. My priority is oriented toward keeping the mission of Jesus central. I see the following Bible verses as key to this understanding:

Luke 4 18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."[e]

Romans 2 4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

2 Corinthians 5 And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

6. The following sayings and phrases I often use embody my own personal spiritual priorities as a Christian and pastor:

St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

Mother Teresa: "If you can't feed one hundred people, feed just one."

Love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Next week: My teaching on covenant will return to this space.

See you Sunday,

Rev. Fr. Kevin BakerPastor, St. Patrick's Church (CEC)
We should not grow weary of doing little things for the love of God,who considers not the greatness of the work,but the love with which it is performed.Brother Lawrence--4th ConversationThe Practice of the Presence

12 Influence Strategies of Jesus--Part 1

The 12 Influence Strategies of Jesus

· In studying the four Gospels, I have been making a spreadsheet of every person or group mentioned that knew Jesus, and categorizing them simply by whether they liked Jesus or not as measured by
o 1.) Whether they were drawn to him in some, and
o 2.) Whether they gave him a hearing. At least 95% of people who met Jesus responded positively to him or liked him.
· Statistically, it is probable that any person will be liked by 68% of the people they meet.
· So what made Jesus as a human being more liked, his message more heard, and his influence more impacting than the average person?
· I believe there are 12 INFLUENCE STRATEGIES of Jesus that caused people to like him. The more people liked Jesus the probability of their following him increased.
· As his followers, if we can increase our LIKEABILITY we can increase our impact on the world.
· Just look at how media tries to minimize Christianity--by trying to make people not like us!!!!!
· As we see in most political elections, LIKEABILITY is the door that gives people an opportunity for the world around us to listen to what we have to say, and possibly even support us.
· In the past election cycle some people liked President Obama and others Sara Palin and this increased the candidates influence.
· Decades ago Pres. Eisenhower ran on “I like Ike” and in 2004 people had a hard time liking John Kerry as a person which was a more powerful deterrent than their not liking Pres. Bush’s policy—the War in Iraq.
· When a person or a group of people listen to us, we can begin to have an influence that affects the world for the good in positive ways.
· This is the first time in 17 years of preaching I have studied the likeability of Jesus, and the correlation it has to the effectiveness and significance of his ministry.
· There is nothing wrong with people liking us unless we become driven for the approval of people and are willing to compromise our core convictions about life to be liked.
· In fact, if less people do not like you, that will be a problem for you as a Christian seeking to have a positive influence for Christ on the world.
· So my question is, do you want to have an influence on this world for Jesus? Do you want to see more people come to Christ? Do you want to see The Church grow, and then specifically our church increase?
· If yes, then if we look at the life of Jesus, we see two basic keys to accomplishing significant ministry in the world--Jesus aimed to reach large numbers of people, and 95% of those people liked him.
· They liked him, they liked his message, they liked receiving the grace of God, and many followed him.
· The more people we know, and the more people like us, the more likely they are to be positively influenced by us whether it is in the context of our faith, our work, or other causes and other organizations besides church and work we are involved in.
· There are many right things about learning to be a likeable person. Even people who do not agree with your ideals or message might like you and support your cause!
· Mother Teresa's impact on the world at large was not only on Catholics or Christians! Why? Many people liked and respected her positive impact on the world even when they disagreed with her religious convictions that motivated her service.
· I am aiming to make this mini-series of sermons fresh, life giving, and full of very practical action steps you can take increase your likeability, and in turn your effectiveness at influencing others.

1. Openness: People feel that you are friendly and approachable.

Matthew 11:19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

· Jesus was friendly and all kinds of people felt they could connect with him. All kinds of people, especially those who needed God most were drawn to Jesus because he was friendly and approachable.
· Let’s put it in today’s terms. Who are people that need God most? Do they think you are friendly and approachable or stand-offish and closed off to them?
· How about this? Would the holier than thou crowd accuse you of being worldly hanging around with the wrong kind of people—the people who need to know God?
· Matthew said “Wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Jesus was wise because his choice to schedule his time and life toward those who needed God most yielded huge results compared to those who did not.

2. Humility: Even if you are in a position of power, you do not think you are better than anyone else and don’t demand special treatment.

Philippians 2:5-8: 5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself

· Have you ever been around people who demand special treatment and think they are better than you?
· Did this make you want to know them more and support them? Of course not.
· Jesus did not communicate a pride or arrogance in his life. The opposite of pride and arrogance is being humble. His lifestyle of not thinking he was better than others and not expecting special treatment made people feel like he was one of them. People could relate to him.
· Since even God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble, don’t be surprised if people resist pride and arrogance when they see it in our lives. If we want to influence people, humility is necessary.
· People can tell right away whether you have an open heart and spirit toward them, or whether you are judgmental and repulsed by them.
· People don’t like others who look down on them, and people do not like high maintenance types who think they are entitled to special treatment.
· The Son of Man did not come seeking to be served, but to serve. If you make people feel like you are better than them, or that you deserve special treatment, you probably do not have many friends, and you definitely are not leading people to know Christ.

3. Capability: You have specialized knowledge, expertise and the ability to take positive action.

Matthew 7:28-29 28When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

· Jesus didn’t just teach theory. He was able to demonstrate what he preached. His walk and talk agreed.
· Mother Teresa was the same. She didn’t just talk about ministry to the poor, she did it. She was capable.
· She had specialized knowledge, expertise, and ability in dealing with social problems in one of the world’s largest cities. So when she talked, even heads of state listened. She had authority and people liked her.
· People like it when people are authentic and capable of doing what they ask others to do.
· In life, people are drawn to want to learn from leaders who have a specialized knowledge or expertise and people are eventually repelled by those who just talk about doing.
· When people heard the Sermon on the Mount, they heard deep wisdom and truth that rang true because Jesus was practicing what he preached—his walk and talk were the same.
· The Pharisees were hypocrites and no one was listening to them. They lost their influence around Jesus.
· It is like the health care debate right now going on in our country. How many of the politicians are willing to eat their own cooking? I always suspicious of food that the cook doesn’t eat.
· I might think the politicians are capable of putting together a good health care plan for my family if their family will have access to only the same healthcare as my family!
· If a politician is not willing to have the same healthcare they try to sell to us, then my response is, “Oh. So you either think you are better than the average person and deserve special treatment, or you are a hypocrite.”
· Since I don’t like hypocrites, I don’t support them and I don’t vote for them.
· In our lives, developing a specialized knowledge and expertise about something we are passionate about will also draw people to listen to us, and make the way for us to have a significant impact on them.
· This is really what lay leadership is about in the church. When capable people in the pews start to take their knowledge and expertise and put it into practice, and we do it with an attitude of openness to people and in humility, ministries that will grow and impact others are birthed.
· Sequentially, the way mission churches grow is we do one thing well at first—Sunday—and then we begin building on the Sunday when people with capabilities start exercising their gifts—like a prayer ministry, more teachers teaching classes on Sunday or small groups during the week, women’s ministry, men’s, campus ministry, nursing home or prison ministry, ministry to shut ins, a food pantry, ministry to addictions, ministry to marriages, and the possibilities are endless.
· I have a Catch 22. Since I work full time to finance my ability to be a church planter I am limited just like you are. My prep for Sunday teachings and music alone takes a good 10-15 hours of study, writing, and prayer each week.
· So if all of us can do just a little, I think we people will get to know about our church and like it and we can get a lot done for the Kingdom of God.


1. Today we have covered 3 out of 12 INFLUENCE STRATEGIES of Jesus.
2. One of several key reasons why Jesus was able to have such a huge impact and influence was that people liked him, and likeability paved the way for people to give him a hearing, support him, and follow him.
3. In your life, in your family, in your work, in things you are involved in, do people like you? Are they willing to listen to what you have to say? Are they willing to support you and follow you?
4. If you find people resist you, and that you repel people, today God wants to give a new way of living.

· He wants you to start living like Jesus Christ.
· You can start out on the journey to being more likable and more influential by cultivating an attitude of openness to others, humility toward others, and demonstrating your capabilities in ways that will serve others and make their lives better.
· Finally this is how our church will grow. I want us to be a church people will like to come to. Since the people are the church, people liking our church will greatly hinge on people coming here and finding authentic Christianity and authentic Christians.

Let’s pray.

Saturday, August 22, 2009



In studying the four Gospels, I have been making a spreadsheet of every person or group mentioned that knew Jesus, and categorizing them simply by whether they liked Jesus or not as measured by 1.) Whether they were drawn to him in some, and 2.) Whether they gave him a hearing. At least 95% of people who met Jesus responded positively to him or liked him.

Statistically, it is probable that any person will be liked by 68% of the people they meet. So what made Jesus as a human being more liked, his message more heard, and his influence more impacting than the average person? Come to St. Patrick's the next two Sundays to find out.

As we prepare to go back to school, back to work after summer vacations, and as our church seeks to establish itself as a significant part of our community, I would like to share 12 attributes of the life of Jesus that caused people to like him. As his followers, if we can increase our LIKEABILITY we can increase our impact on the world. Just look at how media tries to minimize Christianity--by trying to make people not like us!!!!!

As we see in most political elections, LIKEABILITY is the door that gives people an opportunity for the world around us to listen to what we have to say, and possibly even support us. In the past election cycle people liked President Obama and Sara Palin and this increased their influence. When a person or a group of people listen to us, we can begin to have an influence that effects the world for the good in positive ways.

This is the first time in 17 years of preaching I have studied the likeability of Jesus, and the correlation it has to the effectiveness and significance of his ministry. There is nothing wrong with people liking us unless we become driven for the approval of people and are willing to compromise our core conviction about life to be liked. In fact, if less than 68% of people do not like you, that could be a problem as a Christian seeking to have a positive influence for Christ on the world.

There are many right things about learning to be a likeable person. Even people who do not agree with your ideals or message might like you and support your cause! Mother Teresa's impact on the world at large was not only on Catholics or Christians! Why? Many people liked and respected her positive impact on the world even when they disagreed with her religious convictions that motivated her service.

This sermon mini-series will be a fresh and life giving two weeks of practical steps you can take increase your likeability, and in turn your effectiveness at influencing others.

Rev. Fr. Kevin BakerPastor, St. Patrick's Church (CEC)
We should not grow weary of doing little things for the love of God,who considers not the greatness of the work,but the love with which it is performed.Brother Lawrence--4th ConversationThe Practice of the Presence


THIS WEEK 8/23/2009 Proper 16

READY FOR HEAVEN: Since I did not receive any more questions about heaven, our series is complete.


Pray for Anita who continues to be in the hospital at Buffalo General.

Pray for your Pastor whose van broke down that it will be repaired quickly. We are jockeying a busy work, church, and life schedule with one old 1995 car so please bear with our temporary scheduling cancellations and slow down due to transportation limitations.

Pray for our aged members who you don't see in church. Absence generally means they are physically not well enough on a given week to be there...

Pray for the growth of the CEC and St. Patrick's. If our mission in Amherst is to stay alive for the long term, it is simply imperative that we see new members as our older members retire, move away, and move on. Prayer changes things, and church growth never will happens without a solid prayer foundation. Churches grow as prayer helps the leaders develop strategies to reach and disciple people for Christ. Also, churches grow by those who attend and/or belong at the church want to see their church grow by sharing their faith and church experience with others--Make a friend, Be a Friend, Invite a Friend!!!!

Pray for church finances as summer this year has seen fluctuation in giving and attendance.

Pray whether meeting at ACC at noon on Sunday should continue. We have trended down in attendance since leaving the Park School and trying a noon worship hour. Our church must begin to grow, so we are re-evaluating as we put together the church plan for the new school year.

Pray for a new deacon and more lay leaders as Dn. Henry and Sharon are now retired and will not be here for a good part of the year. I am asking the Bishop to be prepared to send other priests to cover for sickness and needed time off, and to encourage younger seminarians to consider moving to Buffalo to help with the work.


LAST WEEK part one of this series of weekly email teachings introduced the concept of biblical covenant as the undergirding "constitution" that is the basis for our relationship with God as His people. The essence of our relationship God is covenant love, but the idea of a covenant also implies a formal relationship. The mutual commitment of a love relationship may be expressed in a legal form which makes the obligations of love explicit. A covenant is such a formal love commitment.

Again the analogy of the marriage is helpful. The fact that a wedding vow is a legal ceremony does not detract from the love which it expresses. Just the contrary. If a man professes love to a woman, but he refuses to assume legal obligations, the reality of his love is questionable at best. God's love for man is expressed in the legal form of a covenant in which God takes obligations upon Himself and calls man to be loyal to the covenant. The covenant, therefore, has a clear structure and may be expressed in formal legal language.

The book of Deuteronomy, the book of covenant love, provides us with our understanding of the covenant. The whole book is a covenantal document, structured in terms of a five-point outline which is used throughout the Bible to define the covenant. Ray Sutton explains the outline of Deuteronomy as follows:

Transcendence (Deut. 1:1-5). The covenant begins with an acknowledgment of God's absolute Lordship. He grants the covenant. He is the absolute King.

Hierarchy (Deut. 1:6-4:49). In this section of Deuteronomy, Moses describes the history of Israel in terms of God's leading and blessing. God gave Israel leaders, covenantal representatives. When Israel was faithful to God, she obeyed her leaders.

Ethics (Deut. 5-26). The central section of the covenant defines how God's people are to live so that they can be His holy nation. God's relationship with His people is an ethical relationship. They must be righteous to enjoy the blessings of the covenant.

Oath (Deut. 27-30). The covenant promises blessings for those who obey the law and curses for those who rebel. When God's people take the oath of the covenant, they call upon God to curse them if they disobey and to bless them if they obey.

Succession (Deut. 31-34). The final section of the covenant concerns the heirs of the covenantal blessings. God intends for the covenant to continue from generation to generation in godly families. Training children to follow God and working to pass the blessing on to the future is essential to true covenantal obedience.[1]

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What is Covenant?


Our Sunday sermons series "Questions and Answers About Heaven" continues on Sunday...

Our Sunday pre-service Pastor's Study on Ephesians will resume the first Sunday of September after a short summer break...

Stop by church member Krissa Halter's restaurant booth at the Erie County Fair if you go... Chester's Restaurant

Check out this report on a new CEC mission--it reminded me of our church and they worship at 12:30!...

Pray for Josh and Jessica Baker to have a safe trip to visit her dad in Chalfont, PA, and then back on home to Virginia...

Check out news from a Christian perspective at

Every Tuesday night, our SMALL GROUPS are studying a video and Bible study series on sharing our faith with others by Bishop Bates.

Check out this debate between Dinesh D'Souza (Christian) and leading atheist Christopher Hitchens


One of the central messages God has called me to teach to the Church is the message of covenant. Just as the American Constitution is the basic principles and laws that organize our nation, THE COVENANT IS THE CONSTITUTION OF GOD'S KINGDOM. For the next weeks in this space week I will share about the constitution of GOD'S HOLY NATION--THE COVENANT.

What is a covenant?

First, the covenant is more than a contract. Sometimes even Biblical scholars erroneously state that the covenant idea in the Bible is essentially the same as the idea of a contract. The covenant is not a contractual type of relationship that remains only so long as the two parties provide some sort of mutual benefit. Covenant includes the solemn binding promises of a contract, but is much more.

A contract, in distinction from a covenant, only lasts so long as both parties are enjoying the benefits of the relationship. It is binding upon the condition of being profitable for both parties. A covenant, on the other hand, is a commitment of love that establishes and bonds a relationship. God Himself in the fellowship of Trinitarian love is the ultimate kingdom and the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity is the true covenant.

This has profound significance for us to understand the Biblical history of our creation and redemption. God created the world as His kingdom to manifest His glory (cf. Ps. 8, 19). Since the three Persons of the Trinity constitute a covenantal kingdom of love, the created world, too, is a covenantal kingdom over which God set Adam and Eve to rule.

Their rule was to be based upon love for God and one another. They were to guard the created world and take care of it so that it would bear fruit for God's glory (Gn. 2:15). The fall of man was a rejection of God's love and a rejection of the way of love among men. The violence of the pre-flood world is the climax of the rebellion of the fall and the logical outcome of the rejection of God's love.

Redemption = Restoration to Covenant Love

Redemption means the restoration of the covenantal purpose of God. Man is restored to his original calling as God's image, which means man is called back into the fellowship of the covenantal love of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The created world, too, must be restored to its original purpose of revealing God's glory through the covenantal stewardship of God's image.

The kingdom of righteousness and love must come to historical realization in order that Satan's lie and the temptation in the Garden may be utterly defeated to the glory of God. Redemption finds its fulfillment in the kingdom of God. God has poured out His covenantal love upon us in Jesus Christ in order that through faith in Him we may be re-created as His children and brought into an everlasting fellowship of love.

The Bible is the story of God's covenantal kingdom -- its creation, its corruption by sin and folly, and God's gracious redemption of that kingdom to the praise of the glory of His grace. The central theme of the Bible, the covenantal kingdom of God, reveals the nature of the Triune God as a God of love who has called man into a fellowship of love with Himself.

See you Sunday!

Fr. Kevin Baker

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Feast of the Body of Christ


INTRO: Three pastors from the major Churches of the Christian faith are asked by a researcher how their churches decide what to pay their pastors after the offering is taken each week.

· Catholic and Orthodox priests---throw $ in air; what falls outside the circle belongs to the pastor
· Protestant evangelical pastor--what falls in the circle
· Then a CEC pastor is asked. What stays in the air belongs to God and what falls down to the ground the pastor takes home!
· I use this funny symbolic story to make a point about our message for Corpus Christi Sunday. What we are going to talk about today is something that all the major branches of the Christian Church believe in, but have radically different views about.
· There is a lot of love and respect among Christian denominations, and we can discuss these things with a spirit of love and respect. So what I present today is in that spirit, and what we in the CEC understand, knowing that our best human understanding of these mysteries is at best partial this side of heaven.

22And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 23Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24And He said to them, "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.


· Are we take these words of Jesus literally or symbolically? Through the ages there have been times of great discussion and contention over these words, especially later in the middle ages during the Reformation.
· There is also confusion about terminology used to understand these words Jesus spoke. When we gather together what are we going to do every Sunday.
· Are we going to church, liturgy, mass, eucharist, worship, celebration, service? And why are we here?
· Where the CEC begins is by looking to the understanding of the early Church Fathers who lived very near to the times and places that Jesus and the Apostles lived.
· We generally form our doctrines and practices from the teachings of the Church before it divided in 1000 AD into the Western and Eastern Churches. There is no confusion among the Church Fathers about these sacred mysteries and the meaning of Jesus’ words.

Cyril of Jerusalem, 350 AD wrote: [Jesus Christ] by his own will once changed water into wine at Cana in Galilee. So why should we not believe that he can change wine into blood?. . . We should therefore have full assurance that we are sharing in the body and blood of Christ. For in the type of bread, his body is given to you, and in the type of wine, his blood is given to you, so that by partaking of the body and blood of Christ you may become of one body and one blood with him. - From Catechetical Lectures given to those preparing for Baptism

Augustine, 354-430 AD, wrote: That which you see is bread and the cup, which even your eyes declare to you; but as to that in which your faith demands instruction, the bread is the body of Christ, the cup is the blood of Christ… … these things are called sacraments for this reason, that in them one thing is seen, another thing is understood.” - Sermon, 272 AD

John of Damascus, 665 to 749, wrote: And now you ask how the bread becomes the body of Christ, and the wine and the water become the blood of Christ. I shall tell you. The Holy Spirit comes upon them, and achieves things which surpass every word and thought… Let it be enough for you to understand that this takes place by the Holy Spirit.

· So let’s begin by learning about the terms the early Fathers used to talk about the bread and wine, the body and blood.
EUCHARIST—From Greek word for giving thanks; euchariste.

· The eucharist is said to be an oblation—a solemn offering or presentation to God.
· Toward the end of worship we come and offer our lives to God--in the gifts of our tithes and offerings of bread and wine—then we present ourselves before him to personally give thanks .
· We lift up our hearts and the gifts to God in thanks for God giving us the life of his Son to save us.


· Literally a public service. It is a public service dedicated to the Almighty God of heaven—all the hymns, songs, readings, prayers, and eucharist. It is the primary worship service of the Church.
· It includes the liturgy of the Word which is everything that takes place before the Peace. The Eucharist is everything that takes place after the peace. Done on Sunday since the days of the Apostles.
· What about the Word Mass? It is a Catholic word not usually heard in Protestant or Orthodox churches. From Latin MISSA for mass, which was formed from MISSUM meaning DISMISSAL; to send or dispatch.
· In the ancient Church, the catechumens, those new to the faith and not yet baptized, along with the unbelievers were dismissed before the liturgy of the eucharist began. So the eucharist started being called the mass.We usually call it the Eucharist in the CEC.
· As we go to a liturgy and partake of holy communion, what is it we are partaking of?


· Meals for the Jews in the ancient world were more than an occasion for eating and drinking to give fuel to our bodies for more work: they were a sacred time, a time for thanksgiving to God.
· Original fellowship in Eden—eating from the tree of life in God’s presence.
· When Jesus came in his ministry, miracles of feeding the multitudes were meal with him where his blessings were poured out on them. He was scorned for eating and drinking with sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes
· His last supper before the crucifixion is where he instituted what we call the Eucharist as the New Covenant Meal that we are to continue to do in remembrance of Him in order to proclaim his death to the world until he comes again. The early Church made this meal the center of its life and fellowship.
· As we come to understand what we in the CEC believe, let us survey what others have understood.


· A doctrine first presented in 1079 by Hilbert of Tours. Later the Council of Trent in the 16th century confirmed this teaching which to this day is the Catholic view. Early Fathers never used this term.
· Transubstantiation = The Holy Spirit is present to bring a complete physical change of the essential nature or substance of the outward appearance of bread and wine so while they still outwardly look like bread and wine their nature has become the literal body and blood so that Jesus is really present with us to bless us.


· Another big word, so bear with me. Martin Luther did not think there was a physical change, yet believed Christ was really present in the Eucharist which was more than a symbol. His followers used this word to describe his belief; he did not use it himself.
· CON = WITH. He said there was a real presence of the Holy Spirit at the Eucharist, but that the bread and wine and the presence of Christ’s Body and Blood are in, under, and around the bread and wine (sort of like a wrapper) and they exist side by side during communion.
· The early Church Fathers did not understand the Eucharist this way.


· Communion service is a time to reflect on the cross, but has no real presence of Jesus, no blessings, and is not necessary for salvation. We do it because Jesus commanded it—an ordinance or command.


1. A SACRAMENT: A combining of two elements—one visible and one invisible. An outward visible symbol that can be perceived by the senses combined with invisible spiritual realities.

· We believe there is a mystical or sacramental transformation of the bread and wine, but we do not use the Roman dogma to describe this. In the Eucharist, we understand the following:
· There is an outward visible sign—consisting of physical; matter--bread and wine that is taken, broken, poured, and consumed—take eat this is my body; drink this all of you, this is my blood.
· The outer sign is a window or doorway to an inward and spiritual grace—the presence of Jesus in us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 6 that unless we eat and drink we have no life—so it is not ordinance.
· Jesus is not just the inward grace that comes to us as we partake of the sacrament in faith. He is also really present mystically in the signs themselves.
· Jesus said we are to do this in remembrance of Him. Remembrance = Anamnesis = Re-presenting, not the western concept of a mental memory, but the Jewish concept of experiencing something by re-enacting it. We weren’t there, but we can remember.
· So at the time the priest and people offer enter into re-enactment of the Last Supper in the liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus is really present with us in the Bread/Body and Wine/Blood.


· When we say there is a real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, here is what we mean.
· MATERIALISTS limit what is real to what is physical—what has atomic and molecular structure. Matter in motion.
· IDEALISM and Spiritualism see reality as mind and spirit only; material world is unimportant.
· However, there are also non-physical realities—Is an IDEA real? Love? Good and evil? Do they have atomic properties or molecular structure? No. But they are real.
· So a SACRAMENTAL VIEW is both realms are important; the spiritual expresses itself in the physical.
· When we re-enact the Last Supper, even though we do not see the physical body of Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy Spirit makes present in the bread and wine the real presence of Jesus
· Jesus is mystically present with us by the Spirit in the Eucharist to bless us with all that his body and blood accomplished when the sacrificial lamb died at the cross to atone for the sins of the world.
· His once and for all sacrifice which happened in time and space 2000 years ago is made present in the holy moment of the Eucharist—if you look in the window and go through the door you will encounter Jesus.
· When you eat and drink the consecrated elements, Jesus is present in them to personally give you spiritual food and drink from heaven to bring you forgiveness of sin, healing from the effects of your sins on your mind, body, and soul; and to renew the New Covenant promises with you.
And now you ask how the bread becomes the body of Christ, and the wine and the water become the blood of Christ. I shall tell you. The Holy Spirit comes upon them, and achieves things which surpass every word and thought… Let it be enough for you to understand that this takes place by the Holy Spirit.

St. John of Damascus

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lent 2: Avoiding the Peter Problem

Avoiding the Peter Problem

Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, "Look, I'm going to leave. And while I'm gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I'm away. I will write you regularly. When I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip." Everyone agrees.

He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often, communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately discovers everything is in a mess--weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss. Without hesitation he calls everyone together and with a frown asks, "What happened? Didn't you get my letters?"
You say, "Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We've even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In fact, we have 'letter study' every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters." I think the president would then ask, "But what did you do about my instructions?" And, no doubt the employees would respond, "Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one!

• I wonder how many of you have had the Peter problem?
• During Lent, one of the issues we encounter is our relationship to God’s Word—the Scriptures. Will we read it? Will we hear it and become doers? Peter had a problem with the words of Jesus.
• Let’s take a closer look.

Mark 8:31-38

31And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.


• For Peter—he heard the words Jesus was saying. Jesus was teaching that the cross and resurrection were the methods God had chosen to bring spiritual salvation to the world.
• The idea of a suffering savior offended… He thought Jesus should do it differently.
• Jesus is already rejected by the religious leaders--so Peter piles on rejecting the cross.
• Today--What words of God offend you? In our day—life, family, morality, intelligent design, some other doctrine or requirement to be a Christian.
• Peter rebukes God! Have you ever rebuked God? Why did you make it this way?
• Peter’s pride was saying he thought he knew better than God. The Peter problem is when your personal ego causes you to reject God’s Word and think you know better than God.


33But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

• Peter was thinking like the world which put him in league with Satan’s plan.
• In the wilderness temptations, Satan offered Jesus the Kingdoms of the world if he would turn away from God the Father’s plan for him to suffer as the sacrificial lamb to atone for sin.
• Now Peter is tempting him to do the same thing!
• God’s Word is usually simple and as to understand—don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat on your spouse, all have sinned and the paycheck you get for working for sin is eternal death, you must be born again if you want to go to heaven. Straightforward…
• Jesus was giving the straight Gospel to his disciples—he will die in our place as an innocent victim to remove the guilt of sin from us, and then he will rise again 3 days later—Good Friday > Easter
• What was Peter’s response to the Gospel? No, that’s not the Gospel! I have a better plan.
• So many have a better plan. If we can just elect right people to government and take over…
• How about—forget about sin, let’s just all get along, sing kumbaya, make smores > universalism
• Then there are all kinds of other religious ideas, philosophies, etc> No sin, cross, resurrection.
• Jesus says those kinds of ideas are men’s ways and not God’s ways. God has one way.
• God came from heaven to earth, became fully a man while remaining fully God, loved us enough to teach us the way to eternal life >
o Only perfect obedience merits eternal life. Sin is rejecting God thinking you know better. Salvation occurs when the perfect life Jesus lived is credited to your account…
o Sin separates from God and each other and is the cause of all forms of death—physical, spiritual, relational, financial, political, etc. No sin can enter heaven.
o Only an innocent could offer to take the place of a guilty party and pay the debt of sin.
o Jesus did just that for us on Good Friday. He took the debt of sin we owed God, and paid it to clear our ledger before God. So the cross profited us eternal life.
o Peter was having none of this silliness.
• What do you think about the Gospel? Are you an accepter or rejecter?


34When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” – NKJV

• Peter and the crowds are now told the Gospel in straight language. All men are like Peter so we all need it spelled out then we need to make a decision.
• If you want to be a Jesus follower > Deny self—stop living selfishly > Take up the cross in your life
o Join the fight against sin > Become part of restoring the world to what God intended…
• This is a call to stop thinking like the world > Stop acting like the world > Having worldly goals
• The world is out for itself, it wants power, riches, pleasure, success, ease
• Jesus says there is a higher goal in life—your soul.
• Being focused only on the world’s goals causes people to lose their own soul by exchanging the less important for the more important.
• What is your price? At what point will you trade in God for something selfish or a worldly payout?
• We think we’ve got the life when we get the houses, cars, portfolios, clothes, status, power, fame—
• Whatever we think is most important—but lose our marriage, our kids, or don’t have time for life the way God has it ordered.
o Begin your week in worship—thanking God for life. Life is more than work and play.
o Have friendships with God’s people who will support you in life and help you stay on the right path, a pastor a guide and doctor of the soul.
• So for all of us with the Peter problem, and we all have it—the message is this:
• Peter’s problem was he thought he knew more than God, he had a better plan, a better way.
• Today began with a story. God has given us instructions and written us letters to tell us what to do till he comes to take us to be with him in heaven.
• Start reading the letters. Then, don’t just read the letters, do what they say. In this season of Lent, let’s really start living the Christian life our The Gospel calls us to hear, read, obey, and do…
• Where in your life do think you know better than doing what God’s Word says?
• Where do you think you know better than God? Where do you think the Bible doesn’t apply to you but everyone else? Where you think you can be like Peter and tell Jesus how to run things?
• That is the place in your life where the Peter Problem is infecting you. As doctor of souls, my job is to get you spiritually healthy and keep you that way.
• When we have the Peter Problem, Jesus made the first diagnosis of its cause—we have our mind set on the things of the world and not on the things of God.
• The treatment plan is this—stop living selfishly in pride thinking you know better than God, start and knowing doing God’s Word, kill your sins, and follow the Jesus way of life.
• ON Good Friday this year, we can take up the cross and die to living selfishly. We can strop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution. Amen.

Lent 1: The Bible and Temptation

Lent 1


• The readings for today highlight two main themes: Baptism and temptation

Reading 1: Noah—Imagine God this today! Movie clip 1 Evan Almighty

• God baptized the world in judgment with 40 days and nights of rain—why?
o To cleanse the world that had become as it says in Gen. 6 “Only evil all the time.”
• Noah was a preacher calling people to repent before the judgment came. Did people believe him?
o He was mocked and people did not believe a judgment would come—till it came.
• When the judgment came, what protected Noah? What protects us?
o The ark of salvation protected Noah and his family because they believed and obeyed God to build the ark. Even though they went through the judgment they not judged.
• Baptism separates us from the world. Just as the eight souls aboard the Ark were saved through water, believing God’s Word and being baptized is what saves us from the coming judgment.
o After the baptism of the world, God gave Noah a new covenant and a new beginning.
o Noah was a type of new Adam. God gave the world a new beginning.
• Applications for us:

1. The word LENT = Anglo Saxon LENCTEN means spring—the time when days lengthen.
2. Think of Lent God’s spring cleaning of His house.
3. History shows us that since the times of the apostles, The Church has made the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday a time of fasting, training new converts for baptism, and renewing baptism especially for those who have fallen away from God and Church.
3. On Easter, after 40 days and nights of Lent, the Church still baptizes new converts at the Great Vigil of Easter, and renews the baptisms of the already converted.
• Lent is a time to join God in cleaning our spiritual house of sin and spiritual clutter.
• Lent is a time to reach out to others like Noah did with the message of salvation.
• Lent is a time for people who have never believed God to come into the ark of salvation.

READING #2: Jesus

12Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. 14Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."

• This passage touches on several important things.

1. The Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness desert for 40 days where he dealt with temptations from the Devil. Sometimes we think God is not with us in wilderness times. Most of the time, it is he who has taken us there.

Movie Clip: From Evan Almighty. Sometimes we miss how God is working through allowing us to be tempted.

• By driving Jesus into the wilderness, the Holy Spirit was giving Jesus the opportunity to show that no matter what temptations would come, he would be faithful and could be trusted.
Wilderness> Symbol of testing faithfulness to God > Desert, dry, barren, exposure to danger

• Every year, Lent is that 40 day period where the Holy Spirit pushes us to deal with our inner life.
• I have heard Christians say they had more difficulty with temptation after Christ than they had before Christ. Why is this?
• Before Christ you did what pleased you. After Christ you desire to be pleasing to the Lord.
• Temptations are Satan’s way of trying to get you to share in the world’s rebellion against God.
• Temptations are the Holy Spirit’s way of leading you to be faithful and showing you can be trusted.
• Jesus overcame evil with good. When tempted, he did good by being faithful and not sinning.
• The Holy Spirit pushed Jesus into the wilderness experience to undergo trial and temptation, and He will do the same in our lives for this reason:

In 1 John 2:12-17 St. John tells us, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.”

• The Holy Spirit wants us to become committed to doing the will of God so we can abide in God’s house forever.
• As it was in the days of Noah, it still, is today. We live in a world that loves evil and rejects God.
• St. John says the world and its lusts will pass away, but HE WHO DOES THE WILL OF GOD WILL LIVE FOREVER.

2. After overcoming temptations Jesus was ready to emerge from the wilderness and preach to others the Gospel of the Kingdom—repent and believe.

• In the wilderness, Jesus overcame the lusts and temptations the Devil offers in this world.
• That gave him power to share the Good News with others. What is the good news?
• You can be saved like Noah. God is offering everyone who will repent and believe a new life and a new beginning free from the dirt that makes us feel so dirty inside, so miserable, lonely, and empty in this life.
• During the 40 days of Lent, two main questions: Do I need to repent? Do I really believe?
• Repent = stop, take a look at your life to see if you are heading the right way, and turn around if you got going the wrong way.
o Are you being faithful to God or are you giving in to temptation?
o You can change you mind and come into the ark. If you have never believed in God you can get baptized and be saved from judgment.
o For believers--Are you in the ark or have you jumped overboard back into the sea of sin
o If yes—then change your mind now and turn back to God and renew your baptism.
• Believe = An act of trusting in God to guide your life.
o Noah had to build an ark. He trusted God’s Word that was guiding his life, and that is what saved him.
o Jesus trusted in God’s Word and overcame Satan by saying it is written every time he was tempted.


1. Today we have heard that Lent is a 40 day time of spring cleaning. It is a time to get our spiritual lives cleaned up and in order.

2. We have heard that Lent is a time when the Holy Spirit give us the opportunity to choose that we will be faithful to God even when we are presented with temptations.

3. Faithfulness is found in two words: Repent = change you mind and turn your life in a new direction, and believe = trust God to guide your life.

4. Those who repent and believe get baptized in water. Baptism cleanses away the inner dirt and guilt of evil in our lives and makes us feel clean. We get a new beginning and a new life.

5. Overcoming gives you power to share the Good News with others.


• My prayer is like Jesus came out of the wilderness in power to share the Gospel with others
• I pray God will lead you through the 40 day Lent wilderness and you will show yourself faithful and emerge in power with a message that God wants

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jesus Wants to Baptize You With The Holy Spirit


· Today, our Gospel reading is the account of the baptism of our Lord from Mark’s Gospel.
· Mark was the nephew of St. Peter, and most believe Mark was in fact the scribe of Peter, and that this Gospel of action written to people who did not grow up in the Church of the Old Testament. >>> How many here had no church background as a kid?
· While some of the Gospels start off with the Christmas story telling us about how Jesus humbled himself to leave heaven be born as a baby to a poor Jewish family in the manger, Mark begins when Jesus humbles himself again as he appears at 30 years old to begin his ministry.
· Mark gets right to the point—let’s get right to the whole purpose why Jesus was born at Christmas.
· Jesus came to baptize people not with water like John, but with the Holy Spirit.
· In Acts, Luke tells us that baptism was the doorway to enter into a ministry of preaching, doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil after the Spirit descended on him.


· Like John the Baptist, as Christians, we are sent by God to go out and prepare the way for Jesus to come into people’s lives. This new baptism was not a sacrament of the Temple—it was a new move of God outside the control of the leaders of the OT Church.
· As the sinless Son of God, Jesus was the perfect man. He had no sin, and no need for baptism to wash away his sins. Yet he came to be baptized—why? For us.
· Jesus humbled himself in baptism to be one of us, to set an example that all of us would need to humble ourselves and be baptized by another for the remission of our sins.
· And, Jesus needed to be baptized so that the Father would anoint him with the Spirit and power for the ministry God called him to.
· Jesus needed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit to release him into his life purpose and into the ministry of preaching; healing; performing signs, wonders and miracles.
· Before I go further here, I want to also point out that when Jesus humbled himself to be baptized, John also humbled himself to be the baptizer.
Mark 1:7-11 7And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.
· In fact, John thought he needed to be baptized by Jesus and was not worth to be the baptizer.
· The attitude of John the Baptist as the Forerunner preparing the way for Jesus is humility.
· Who am I to be worthy of serving the most important person in the universe? I am not worthy to even tie and untie his shoes.
· That should be our attitude! Mercy Me sings about humility--Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth, should care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt? Humility.
8I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
· So John the Baptist, like pastors, was called to baptize people with water so Jesus could baptize them with the Holy Spirit. So now we turn to the Spirit baptism.
9It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
· As soon as Jesus came up out of the water of baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on him.
· When he became man, he chose to not rely on his divine power while on earth, but as a human being relying totally on God the Father to work through him.
· When Jesus obeyed the Father’s plan to be the humble Savior and totally depend on him, God publically declared Jesus as His Son and He was So Proud of Him!
· At the very moment Jesus was baptized and the Father declared him His One and Only Son, the Holy Spirit descended upon him.
· He was empowered to enter into his ministry of preaching, miracles, and good works of healing the sick, releasing the oppressed, binding up the brokenhearted, and eventually totally forgiving the sin of the world.


· You might be thinking, I did not come here for a theology lesson! I came here today hoping to hear God speak to me. What does all this stuff have to do with me?
1. God wants all of us to know that we are his beloved children and he is well pleased with us when we obey him. Sometimes our earthly parents never give us this blessing of approval, but God does! We can please God and make him proud be being humble and submitting to his plan.

2. Both Jesus and John teach us how important it is to be humble in order for God to use us. If we surrender our lives to Jesus, God can use us to do great things like John and Jesus. How many would like to have God use for great things? ***Lay it all down—agendas, plans—thy will be done.

3. The lesson of Jesus’ baptism is that humility and obedience to do what God asks us are what release the power of the Holy Spirit on us to energize God’s purposes in and through us.

· All of us have a purpose in God. When we humble ourselves to enter into God’s will, and say “Jesus use me however you want. I submit. I humble myself. I will obey whatever you want,” God releases Holy Spirit power into His purposes for His glory.
· This is how Jesus ministered on earth. He did not minister out of the power of his divine nature. He ministered as a human being filled with the Spirit.
· This is how God wants to bless you as your fulfill his purposes in your life.
· Whether his will is for you to be a stay at home Mom, a teacher, a business person, or to suffer a cross like Joni Erickson Tada living a disabled life, accepting God’s will results in the Holy Spirit’s ministry of power flowing through you.
· The same power that created the world starts creating through you. The same power that parted the Red Sea when God’s enemies attacked Israel begins working to give you victory over the enemies that come to thwart God’s will in your life.
· The same Spirit that came on Jesus at his baptism, and that descended on the disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost descends on you and gives you power to accomplish God’s good works in your life.
· Today, where do you need Jesus to immerse you with the power of the Holy Spirit?
o Where do you feel most powerless and out of control today? This is where you need the power of the Spirit to fill you most.
o When you feel empty, you have two choices:

1.) Try can take control of your life and fill that emptiness with the means of your own power—this results in people usually filling it with sin, or

2.) You can do what I have taught you today—Humble yourself and submit to God’s plan, and at that moment Jesus will send the Spirit to fill you with power from on high.

· I would like to close with a testimony of a regular person like us named Paula Panttaja who attends a church in Santa Ana California shares about her experience of yielding control to Jesus at her point of weakness, and how Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to fill her with power for living a victorious Christian life:
I was raised in and out of church. My dad owned a business and was also a gospel singer. The only thing I really remember about church was that Dad sang and we went on Wednesday and Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night.
I was never a happy person. I remember having stomach aches when I was a child, stomach aches that I now know were anxiety attacks. The last ten years of my life was nothing but a roller coaster ride with radical mood swings to match. I smoked, drank, and continued in a downward spiral of depression in spite of the anti-depression drugs that I was also taking.That led me to try seeing a psychiatrist on a weekly basis. His answer was Prozac and between him and the Prozac -- and no health insurance -- it was costing me $200.00 a week!
Then a friend told me how she had instantly been delivered from marijuana and then she invited me to a Bible study that was being taught by a pastor who had prayed for her deliverance. I accepted her invitation and met the pastor. He reminded me of a compassionate grandfather and I immediately bonded with his beautiful spirit. I had so much baggage that I had been carrying around all my life -- confusion, anger, even hatred. It wasn't hurting anybody but myself, and it was destroying me.
When the pastor first prayed for me I still felt a heaviness, but we didn't give up. He continued to pray with me and it finally lifted. Praise God! I felt free as a bird and clean, like I had taken a shower on the inside, in my heart. Later, I realized that I had been instantly delivered from all the chains that had bound me for so long. Pastor gave all the glory to God, and so do I, knowing that the Lord used him as an instrument of my deliverance.
How does a person change after receiving Baptism in the Holy Spirit?The Holy Spirit is here to help us grow spiritually. Some of the common fruits you will develop are:• a new hunger and thirst for prayer• a hunger to study the Scripture• a new sense of Jesus’ love, a sense of God as our Loving Father who loves us and wants what is best for us• a greater power over temptation and sin. Many of our chains with sin are broken when we received the Baptism in the Spirit.• a strong desire to detach from things of the world and a greater joy of the things of the Spirit, eg, prayer, fellowship and Christian reading etc.• A new appreciation of the Church’s sacraments and devotions• A deeper understanding of worship and a longing for the Eucharist
o I wonder how many of you today are willing to be humble like John and Jesus.
o I wonder how many are willing to surrender to God’s will and purposes for you, and ask Jesus to come and fill you at the points in your life where you feel weakest and most empty.
o I wonder how many of you would like to receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit’s power for living so you can have victory over sin, and experience the joy of the Lord your strength?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009



· Shortly before or after January 1 each year, letters from friends scattered around the world… What is God doing in your church?
· This year, my answer has been simple:

Pray more; Preach well; Pastor the people as shepherd to the sheep; Proclaim to as many as will listen

· I say that because that just about summarizes what Jesus and the Apostles did that spread our faith across the Roman Empire in one generation. Only addition—death…
· Today, I want to share in more depth than the 4P’s every church should be doing, why I think God is doing something awesome in our midst.
· The most important thing about Christian leadership is knowing what God is doing, and then making sure you are doing that too.
· In John 5, it says this: Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
· This is the key to leadership. Ask God what he is doing in prayer, and do that until he shows you the next thing to do.
· That has been the first few years of this church. He said worship on Sunday and gather people. God’s way> As many churches as kinds of people > Each one a tribe
· So what makes the CEC and our local church different from others?

1. What differentiates our church from others the most is we bring together dynamics of worship and Christian life from the ancient Church, the Reformed Church, and modern evangelical Spirit-filled Church. In the CEC we call this convergence.

· What sets us apart from most other mainline Protestant, evangelical, and Pentecostal/charismatic churches is convergence.
· Think of the Protestant church like a broken windshield on a car. There are thousands of Protestant denominations, communions, movements, and independent churches all divided over minor differences and emphases.
· Convergence is the reunion of the divided church back into a church that is one.

2. We are a mission church. This means we are in our first decade of life so please do not expect us to be what a 25, 50, or 100 year-old church is.

· All churches had a beginning and were young once. Churches often grow most when they are young, and it is exciting to be part of God's work in this stage of life.
· With over 300,000 people in the Buffalo area not affiliated with a church, and many more marginally affiliated (inactive), there is still need for missions work here.
· We believe starting new churches is the most effective means of fulfilling the Great Commission. I know some churches that don’t get 30 new people every five years!!!

3. Let's talk about size.

· A young church is not as large as a mature church.
· To use an analogy, as a young church this means we are not a big box supercenter style church offering a little of everything in an impersonal environment.
· Instead, we are a specialty-style church offering higher value and specialized personal services. Our specialties are:

A Our church is a spiritual family.

· Building strong Christian families is a core pillar of St. Patrick's Church.
· However, families that do not pray together because they cannot stay together suffer.
· New York State has the largest net loss of population of all states. I think this has deep spiritual, familial, emotional, sociological, and economic consequences.
· Biggest loss: Families not staying together is breaking the core bonds of family, church, and community life.
· Loneliness, emptiness, feeling vulnerable, fear, loss of helping each other all gone.
· As a pastor and non-profit leader I am concerned about the negative effects that New York State Government policy is having on families, individuals, and businesses in western New York.
· A shrinking population combined with a high number of colleges and universities per capita from bygone days of prosperity compound the problems here.
· There are simply too many educated people with no job possibilities! So people are leaving. Let me share a verse that is important to us as a community:
Jeremiah 31:17 So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land.
· Having had numerous church families move out of state for jobs over the past 13 years in two different churches here, including my own oldest son, I believe God is saying part of our role as a church is Jeremiah 31:17.
· I am going to pray this verse all year as intercessors before God’s throne and extend hope to families. Reach out to the lonely separated from family. Students. New to area.

B. I think God has given us a specialty in family ministry… Another specialty is really a subset of that-- our children's ministry. Our two children's leaders each have over 15 years of experience in ministry to children. Pray for God to help us find more…

C. We provide personal pastoral care to all members. You have quick access to the pastor and leaders. Just call me. Email me. I am here…
D. Another specialty is we provide is teaching that is biblical, spiritual, and life-changing.

· A central aim in our church is for discipleship that focused on Bible immersion and formation of a total Christian worldview.
· Our clergy knows what it is like to have a family and work every day. We preach Christ-centered messages after spending time in study and prayer that we will have God’s word for you each week. Pray for us.

E. We also offer participatory worship focused on God.

· To tell you what makes our church different than others we need to compare and contrast with the way other churches operate. I will do one contrast…
· Some churches today have replaced worship focused on God with marketing innovations and entertainment-driven programs to gather large crowds of passive spectators. These are known as "seeker-focused" churches.
· The market-driven church strategy of the seeker churches is to find out what people want, and give it to them designing Sunday gatherings that entice new people to come and gradually get used to church.
· Later, you will be told what God really requires--repentance, conversion, and a commitment to Jesus Christ.
· While we support efforts to make Jesus known to those outside the Church, we do not think these activities constitute worship.
· We believe God is the Seeker--He is seeking people who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4). The focus of worship is God, not man. This is what will bless us most.
· At our church, we clearly teach what Jesus requires to have your sins forgiven and go to heaven every week during communion. We even have a real altar… not steps, rail.
· If you were to die today, we don't want your soul caught in a marketing nexus--we want you in heaven!
· Also, big buildings and salaries require big crowds every weekend. That effects the way a church does things. In contrast, we share a building with another church to keep overhead low so we can invest more into ministry to people. Budget… $ Saved…
· Instead of services designed using marketing principles, our worship uses the blueprint God provides in the Bible and Church history. Synogogue + Temple in Christ.
· Worship is an entrance into the inner courts of God's real presence to give Him praise. Liturgy is the pattern of worship in heaven done on earth. It is spiritual!
· Living in the Abbey 40+ hours… Praying past few months for direction as leader of this church. God gave me a few concrete words… Please let me share them as we close.

Mark 14:37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
· God is asking us this year to pray for our church, our community, our State and for souls to be saved and our children’s ministry and outreaches to bring growth.
· He also gave me two scriptures in Revelation--which always concerns me. I don’t want to go negative or critical. So these passages I see as God’s grace extended to us.
Rev. 2 Church in Ephesus 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

· I believe God is extending grace and seeking the lost sheep—A YEAR OF OUTREACH.
· I asked God how does that apply to us? It is first love. Remember when you first met Jesus how real he was, how committed you were to fellowship, worship, prayer. Some of us need to be like that again.
· Also be aware of prompting God gives.. Never know the people in your life who were once close to God and in church but have fallen away. These are lost sheep; strays.

Rev. 3: 14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

· This is what the old time revival preachers call backsliding. The slippery slope of losing your first love drags you down into the prodigal son pigpen.
· What God is saying is we need to be careful to not let the things of this world cause us to become blind to seeing how our love of Jesus has gotten stale. The answer--change.
· This prophecy ends with—if the shoe fits wear it. Do some altar time.


To summarize, what God is doing in us this year in 2009:
Calling us to celebrate the stage of life we are at as a church. It’s ok to be 6 years old and in first grade. If we are 15 or 30 years and in first grade… that will be another story.
He is calling us to realize New York is in bad shape and Jesus is in the Garden of Gethesemane asking us if we can pray with him for one hour each week to bring hope salvation and hope to our region so our kids can come home.
Evangelism and worship are two different things. John 4—God is seeking those who will worship him in Spirit and truth. I think we need seeker and revival services too, but Sundays are when Christians worship. All are welcome to worship always!
He is calling for repentance from all who have lost their first love and slipped into being lukewarm in our faith because you have let things of the world get in the way of Jesus being first in your life. Like the Laodiceans, when this happens we are blind to it so Jesus has to come and offer us true riches in exchange for the cubic zirconium the devil tricks us into buying.


The Second Christmas Birth


A little boy asked his mother where he came from, and also where she had come from as a baby. His mother gave him a tall tale about a beautiful white-feathered bird. The boy asked his grandmother the same question and received a variation on the bird story. Outside to his playmate he said, "You know, there hasn't been a normal birth in our family for three generations."

INTRO: Outline on the back page of the bulletin

· As we heard on Christmas Eve, Christmas focuses on Jesus the Son of God being born as a human being to be our Savior.
· On this first Sunday of the Christmas season, we learn that Jesus was actually born so we could also experience a new kind of birth in our lives. We can call this the Second Christmas Birth.

11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
· This greatest miracle of all is described in our word for today from the Word of God in John 1:12.
· It can help you understand exactly how spiritual birth really works.
· Speaking of Jesus Christ, God says, "To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."
· Sometimes you'll hear people say, "We're all God's children." Well, that’s really not true according to the Bible.
· The Bible tells us we're all God's creation. Here in John 1, John tells us there is a difference between our flesh and blood physical birth and a spiritual birth from God.
· When we are physically born, we become a child of our father and mother—not the stork--going back to the story I started with, what a weird thing—telling kids a bird dropped us off…
· To be God’s child, the Bible says we must be born spiritually.
· In fact, Jesus said, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3).
· That's actually where the words "born again" originated - with Jesus Himself.
· So being physically born is our first birth, but being born of God as John says is the second birth.
· So how does being born of God, or being born again a second time happen?
· Well let’s remember that John 1 is about Christmas. Jesus came into the world in the incarnation.
· His birth becomes the seed the conceives the second birth.
· As a result of Christmas, we all need to make a decision about the baby born in Bethlehem.
· Will we believe that he is the God the King of Heaven with us in human flesh to save his people from their sins like Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and wise men did?
· Or will we reject him like King Herod who tried to destroy Jesus?
· John 1:12 tells us that you experience the second birth and become a child of God when you "receive Christ" and when you "believe in His name."
· Receiving Jesus as Savior means consciously welcoming Jesus Christ into your life, realizing who He is; realizing why He came.
· John also says we also need to believe in his name.
· Jesus, this name you have to believe in to become children of God, means "Jehovah saves."
· Just as there is a first and second birth, there is a first and second death.
· The first death is when our physical life ends. The second death is eternal conscious separation from God for eternity.
· So when you "believe in His name," you're telling Jesus that you acknowledge as truth that only he can be your personal Rescuer.
· Only he can save you from the second death penalty for your sins because He's the only One who died for them.
· Which brings us to the eternal life-or-death question: has there been a time when you've done that?
· If not, do you want there to be? Would you like to go to bed tonight being able to say, "I belong to Jesus. I am a child of God. I've been born into God's family.
· On the basis of the promise of God’s word I know I'm going to heaven when I die. I know I am."
· Then tell Jesus today that He's welcome to come in, that you're pinning all your hopes for heaven on Him.
· You've had one birthday obviously; that's why you're here. Today can be the day of your birth into the family of God. And that is why you'll be in heaven.
In the 1800s Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar asked 253 Christian friends at what ages they were converted. Here's what he discovered:

At What Age Were You Converted to Christ?

Total Population Surveyed

Age Converted

0-19 138 54.55%
20-30 85 33.60%
31-40 22 8.70%
41-50 4 1.58%
51-60 3 1.19%
61-69 1 0.40%
70 and up 0 0.00%

· In 2004, George Barna conducted a larger sample with the following data concerning the Probability of accepting Christ, segmented by age
Nearly half (43%) of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (2004) ABOUT THE SAME AS THE 19TH CENTURY
Two out of three born again Christians (64%) accept Jesus Christ as their savior before their 18th birthday. (2004) UP FROM THE 19TH CENTURY
One out of eight born again people (13%) made their profession of faith while 18 to 21 years old. (2004)
1. 88% of all Christians have been evangelized and converted by the time they are 30 years old.
2. Our evangelism efforts should focus on reaching children, youth, and younger adults in their twenties. This also means that reaching young families should be the target of our evangelistic efforts.
3. By age 40, 96% of those who will believe the Gospel have already done so.

Altar call--don't become a statistic later in life