Monday, August 31, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Well, we just got back from 5 days traveling and visiting my daughter, grandson, and family in Chicago, IL. Had a blast! Airlines were fantastic and the visit was good. Took in the Lincoln Park Zoo, Lake Michigan waterfront, Chicago-style pizza and down town Chicago.
More info later, thanks for your prayers - will update in the next couple of days! Thanks for the comments of encouragement - what a great family I have been born again into!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Chair Is Empty - Unemployed!

Well, I find myself a member of some 13.5% of the county in which I live: unemployed! My company decided to downsize and closed our offices on Friday, August 21, 2009. This is only the second time in my life that I have ever been laid off.
The first time was traumatic! I panicked! I had not been walking with the Lord, was out of fellowship and accountability with anyone and spending what I was making. When God decided to "yank" on my rope I was not ready for it.
I decided to re institute a devotion time and decided since this was a great trial, I should start with James. While in James I discovered some ugly truth about myself:
I had become a friend of the world
I had become an enemy of God
I had consumed God's blessings on my own desires
I had robbed God
I also discovered in the many times of prayer, which often included weeping and pleading, that I really was wanting the blessings or the gifts of God rather than the giver of those blessings. That was definitely a real wake up call.
Needless to say, that after months in James and almost a year in Job I grew in my faith, my understanding of God and made some major changes in my life. The bulk of my spiritual growth has come since January 2002, and the majority of that bulk has come since February 2005.
I was not aware this lay off was coming it took all of us by surprise, well all of us except our Heavenly Father who engineered and designed it. He ordained it before He ever created this world.
I am absolutely content with this event in our lives. God is in control and God will show us the next step. I thank God for the first lay off which developed and prepared me for this go around. I know that I have many new things to learn, but thank God I don't have to learn what I did last time.
Many of you know that my heart's desire is to plant a church. I have been waiting and seeking God's heart in this matter. This could be the time. I don't yet know the place nor with whom we will begin, but should my desire be lined up with God's desire, He will show me.
I ask you to remember us in prayer in the following ways:
1. That we do not waste this period of unemployment, but that we can utilize it to the good of those around us and for the glory of God
2. That Philippians 4:4-7 continues to be a reality in our lives.
3. That God will make me sensitive to His leading in order not to miss an open door or opportunity that is from Him and that we don't run ahead of God and His timimg in some sort of panic.
4. That God will meet our financial needs in a timely, Christ honoring manner.
I will keep you posted as to the marvelous ways in which God chooses to reveal Himself to me during this period of unemployment.
Your prayers are coveted dearly!!!
In His Grip for His Glory,
Gregg Metcalf

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Characteristics of a Disciple

Who do you want to be like when you grow up? We have all at one time or another had someone that we either wanted to be or wanted to be like. Boys, in particular want to be or be like their sports heroes. We wear the jersey with the number of our favorite sports figure, we begin talking like them, imitating their mannerisms. Irregardless of whether you are 7 or 70 it is never too late to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. The greatest adventure of our life is when we commit to becoming like Him. He doesn’t have a number or a sports card, more than likely won’t be able to go out and by an action figure of Jesus, but we can look in the bible and find characteristics to emulate and develop. As a matter of fact in look there are some key traits of what a disciple needs to do in order to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. “…if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 ESV) Jesus is stating the characteristics or the qualifications needed to be a committed disciple of his. Look at them with me and then take some time to evaluate your life in each of these areas. 1. A disciple must “deny himself”. It means that you must “say no to something” or in some instances, say “no to someone.” We must say no to ourselves, our own impulses, and desires and subordinate them or eliminate them in order to faithfully follow Jesus Christ. 2. A disciple must “take up his cross daily.” Those who lived in the time of Jesus knew that the cross was a symbol for execution and death. It was painful and gruesome. Jesus is asking that we put to death our own desires, impulses, dreams, and plans in order to determine his plans, his desires, and his will and live to accomplish what he has determined. 3. A disciple must “follow me.” We must be obedient and willing to go and do things that we never dreamed we would. Christ went through storms, persecutions, and eventually death. Are we willing to follow the master? You can see that these traits, these characteristics are difficult and apart from the grace of God impossible. You can also see why we have so few disciples of Jesus Christ today. Oh, we have disciples of religions, great charismatic leaders, ideas, and philosophies, but so few disciples of Jesus Christ. Where are you today? Are you pampering self, refusing to pick up your instrument of death, and following someone or something other than Christ? I hope not!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My Apologies for Sporadic Posts

August has been a hectic month! I have not been able to keep up with my blog and my original purpose. I feel bad about this and want to apologize to you.
There is more to do around the house since summer has arrived (yes, Virginia, there is a summer in Washington State)
Work has been hectic, I have had some blood pressure issues - no it is not to high, it has been to low. It was down to 64 over whatever, then it came up to 84, then to 88, then to 118.
The last week in August Irene and I will be in Chicago visiting our number three daughter, son-in-law, and grandson.
I also am finishing up a series entitled "The Catalog of Christian Confession" and on September 6, 2009, I begin a new study. I will be teaching an exegetical and expositional study of the gospel of John. As a result I have been doing tons of reading and prep work in order to begin this new series.
Hopefully, I will be able to get back on track beginning September 1 with regular posts. I appreciate those of you who actually take the time to read and even leave comments. But more important I hope to be a blessing. I am nothing but a pastor with a pastor's heart. I care for you and want to share something, or add something to your life, or give you something that will be for your good and God's glory! This is my goal for any part of my ministry - my goal is two fold, your good and God's glory. Colossians 1:24-2:5.
Well, I just wanted to check in and make a comment and post an apology. Hopefully I can get back on track and you will be blessed and God will be glorified.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Meet John Newton

Periodically I would like to introduce to those of you who read this blog, believers who have contributed to or influenced my growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I thank God for the many men and women whose shoulders I am standing on who faithfully passed down something of value that I have latched onto by the grace of God. The men who have had the most influence on me are pastors. I love the men of God who pastor God’s dear lambs and sheep. I am a pastor with a shepherd’s heart and many men both dead and living have had a tremendous influence on me. The first man that I want to share with you was a pastor. He is well know either for his horrific debauchery as an immoral slave trader or for his conversion and writing of the beloved hymn, Amazing Grace. John Newton wrote over 300 hundred hymns, wrote many letters and kept journals. His life and ministry has been a blessing to me. John Newton was born in London, England on July 24, 1725. Newton’s father was a commander of a merchant ship and his mother died before he turned eighteen. It seems that Newton joined his father on his ship and he became a deckhand at the age of 11. He was able to sail on six different voyages with his father. In 1744 Newton was forced to serve on a ship called the H. M. S. Harwich. Since the conditions were harsh, we deserted his post. However we was captured and beaten for being a deserter. At some point, Newton requested a transfer to a ship that was involved in slave trading. He ended up in worse conditions and it was reported that his treatment was even harsher than before. Newton eventually became the captain of his own ship. He was still involved in the slave trade. He became a heavy drinker, sexually immoral, and wicked in every behavior he could think of.
Lindsay Terry writes: “It is reported that at times he was so wretched that even his crew regarded him as little more than an animal.” It was also reported that Newton fell overboard on one occasion and his own crew refused to drop a boat over the side to help him. It is said that the crew threw a harpoon at Newton and the crew dragged him back into the boat with it. It is also reported that to avoid capture with the evidence (which was hundreds of African prisoners who would be sold into slavery) Newton would throw them overboard, while chained together, choosing to murder them rather than be caught red-handed. Newton lived a life of absolute and sinful debauchery. But thanks be unto God that God in His wisdom had a plan. Newton records for us that he believed God was speaking to him through a violent storm that was so severe that the crew had to tie themselves to the ship to be kept from washing overboard. Newton records in his journal the following: When all seemed lost and the shop would surely sink, he exclaimed, “Lord, have mercy upon us." Newton continued to write, “later I reflected on what I had said and I believed that God spoke to me through the storm and His grace had begun to work in me.” In Newton’s multitude of letters and journals he commemorates May 10, 1748 as the day of his conversion. This was for him he believed to be a “day of humiliation in which he subjected his will to a higher power.”
Newton married Mary Catlett in 1750. In 1755 due to a serious sickness, Newton gave up the sea. While he was a sailor he had begun to educate himself. He had taught himself Latin. For a short period of time Newton was a surveyor in Liverpool, England. During this time he met George Whitefield and also John Wesley. Newton became the disciple and protégé of George Whitefield and he learned both the Hebrew and Greek languages.
John Newton became a pastor in Olney, Buckinghamshire. It is reported that his church became so crowed that services had to be enlarged. In 1767 a great meeting took place by the Providence of God. John Newton became friends with William Cowper.
Cowper helped Newton with his church services and they wrote songs together for weekly prayer meetings. They determined to write a new hymn for each meeting. Together or separately they wrote over 350 hymns. Many of those hymns are sung regularly each week in the worship of our God. Of course you know Newton as the author of probably his most well known hymn, “Faith’s Review and Expectation.” Oops, that was the original title of his most well known and beloved hymn, the title later became “Amazing Grace.” You know that one don’t you?
John Newton pastored sixteen years in Olney and then for twenty-eight years at St. Mary Woolnoth. He is buried there with a head stone that he wrote himself which says:
Once an infidel and libertine
A servant of slaves in Africa,
Was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST,
restored, pardoned, and ap­point­ed to preach
the Gos­pel which he had long labored to destroy.
He min­is­tered, Near sixteen years in Ol­ney, in Bucks,
And twenty-eight years in this Church.
{Adapted from information by Al Rogers & Lindsay Terry, R. E. Welsh, and from Christian Biography Resources.}

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Inheritance in the Saints

"The gospel is not just a message of reconciliation with God, but it also heralds the reconciliation of all believers to one another in Christ. Through the death of Christ, God has brought peace where there was once hostility, and He has broken down the racial, economic, and social barriers that once divided us outside of Christ (Eph 2). Also, when God saved us, He made us members of His household (Eph 2:19), and He gave us as gifts to one another (Eph 1:18). Each brother and sister is a portion of my gospel inheritance from God, and I am a portion of their inheritance as well. We are significant players in each other’s gospel narrative, and it is in relationship with one another that we experience the fullness of God in Christ (Eph 3). Hence, the more I comprehend the full scope of the gospel, the more I value the church for which Christ died (Eph 5:25), the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow-Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine."
(Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer, Focus Publishing, pg. 24) What Do You Think?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

John Calvin on the Knowledge of God

“What avails it, in short to know a God with whom we have nothing to do? The effect of our knowledge rather ought to be, first, to teach us reverence and fear; and secondly, to induce us under its guidance and teaching to ask every good thing from him, and when it is received, ascribe it to him.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, chapter two, page 41) “…it ought to be more carefully considered, that all men promiscuously do homage to God, but very few truly reverence him. On all hands there is abundance of ostentatious ceremonies, but sincerity of heart is rare.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, chapter two, page 42) It seems that Calvin is passionately communicating to us that there is more to knowing God than mere knowledge of whom he might be or where he may dwell. Deep, intimate, and glorious knowledge of God leads us into a sincere reverence and even a gripping awe of him. As we come to know God, we find that he is the author of every thing that we could ever need. This splendid knowledge of God leads me then to conclude seven distinct truths: 1. I owe everything, all that I am, all that I have, and all that I will ever have to God 2. I am nourished and cherished continually by his loving and glorious care 3. God is the author of all of my blessings 4. Therefore, I have no reason to look at any other source for anything I need 5. I need to ask God to develop within me a deep and sincere reverence for him 6. I can not devise my own means of meeting any of my needs apart from him 7. I am bound and compelled to ascribe all that I receive to him for his glory What do you think?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Blessing of the Lord’s Table

This past Sunday our fellowship, in keeping with its long standing custom, celebrated the Lord's Table on the first Sunday of the month. I look forward to our time around the Lord’s Table as a local body of believers. Communion is a very special time for me. I will admit that I lament and sometimes mourn that we do not celebrate or commemorate the Lord’s Table each week. Though I have participated in the Communion Service an innumerable number of times, have preached and taught on Communion, and have meditated heavily on it, I do not profess to be an expert nor to have the last word. However, I think that many times we miss the blessing and the meaning of the Lord’s Table by our rote, abbreviated, “moment” of reflection and by our actions. I realize there isn’t much that can be varied or changed in the celebration. It is a struggle to keep any pattern or form of observance from becoming ritualistic or routine. If we are not careful in our endeavor to truly see the significance of the Lord’s Table we can miss the blessedness of God’s gift to the church in this ordinance. (This is not the time to discuss transubstantiation or consubstantiation, or memorial.) It seems from a careful study of the New Testament that God has given us two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Table. Baptism is to be performed once after an individual has professed allegiance to and acceptance of the gospel message. The Lord’s Table is to be conducted as often as we wish or determine by believers who have been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ. What is the significance of baptism? Briefly, it demonstrates in a physical pictorial form what has transpired in the life of one who has repented of their sins and turned in faith to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is an identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ in the life of one who once had no identification with Him. In other words, a baptismal candidate is stating publicly that he or she is identifying themselves with and as a recipient of the death of Jesus Christ. They are acknowledging that they now trusting in the acceptance of God the Father of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Son in His death as their means of eternal forgiveness and redemption. At the Lord’s Table we do the very same thing. Why did God give this ceremony to the church? It is to be a frequent reminder that we publicly identify with the death of Christ on the cross for our eternal salvation. We are also stating that the ability to now live as a Christian, to put off the deeds of the flesh and to put on the deeds of the Spirit, can only come as a result of Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection. When we eat the bread, which represents His body, and drink the wine or juice that represents His blood, we are stating that everything I now have and everything that I now am in Christ has been purchased for me by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s acceptance of that death. Where do we miss these truths? We miss these truths when we take a “few minutes for reflection on our lives in order to confess known sin.” We miss these truths when we fail to mention that we are now to live in light of the death of Christ. We miss these truths when we minimize (many times very unintentionally) our identification with the death of Christ. Christ purchased for us so much more than just heaven, or “eternal life” when He died on the cross. He purchased every blessing we will ever experience. He purchased forgiveness, redemption, inheritance, freedom, and the ability to live for Him in this life as He commands. As we celebrate the Lord’s Table we should focus on what was purchased by the death of Christ. As we are dismissed from the table we should focus on the fact that we now can live in light of what the death of Christ purchased and then, and only then, are we encouraged to go forth from the gathering of the body into our daily life through the scattering of the body living as one who has been truly redeemed. Don’t miss the significance of the Lord’s Table by simply reflecting on some sin that may need to be confessed prior to eating and drinking in order not to be judged in some manner. No, the table is so much more than that! Thank God for the great gift of the Lord’s Table and for all that it means to us who have been redeemed by the sacrifice of His body and the shedding of His blood! What do you think?