Last Sunday was the membership class for students in junior and senior high school. It’s one of my favorite classes to teach. In our study guide, we’re reminded that membership has a long history dating back to when Abraham was called by God. It’s much the same today. We respond by faith to God’s rescuing us through Jesus Christ by saying ‘yes’ to the church which Jesus called His Body. It’s an amazing thing to see our students step up and say ‘yes’ to the church by making a public declaration of their faith in Jesus.
This week many of you read the disturbing news that the mainline Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) not only approved its pastors performing same-sex marriages, but even changed the definition of marriage within its governing documents. The Stated Clerk of our denomination (PCA) was quick to present a thoughtful statement that made clear the position of the PCA (to stay with the biblical standard). Here’s a link to that statement, PCA Affirms Biblical Marriage. You should also read the remarks of Dr. Clair Davis as it relates to the stance of City Church of San Francisco. City Church is in another denomination, the Reformed Church of America, but he helps us deal with this challenging issue, learning how to speak the truth in love. We need both–to speak the truth, but also to demonstrate the love of Jesus. Thank you, once again, Dr. Davis.
On most Friday and Sunday nights, you’ll find me hanging out with our students here at New Life. The pattern is the same on both nights; we hang out as a big group for a while and then break out into smaller D-Groups. If you’re not familiar with D-Groups, it’s short for Discipleship Groups. Here, in these groups, we’re free to talk about what’s on our mind and in our hearts. To be honest, we don’t always go deep. Sometimes it’s all about hanging out – going on a 7-Eleven or Rita’s run, playing board games or (when spring finally arrives) playing volleyball in the fields.
I am always “walking into” things, not being sure what I’m going to encounter. You are too. (Imagine an automatic sliding door that opens before you as you walk toward it…but there are no windows through which you may have an advance warning of what to expect.) As a pastor, I make hospital visits, and as I go I often don’t know how bad the health report is, what the person’s state of mind will be, who else will be there. I meet someone for coffee, even someone I know, and there’s so much I don’t know in advance about the landscape of the person’s life, either externally or internally. I do a funeral service and three quarters of the room is people I don’t know, whose lives I know nothing about. And in three and a half weeks I’m supposed to get on an enormous Airbus and fly to the other side of the world, to a nation very different from mine, to interact with dozens of people I don’t know at all.
“We are pleased to pass along some very important thoughts from Nicholas Black. Nicholas is currently on Session as a Ruling Elder at New Life and served for years as our Director of Children’s Ministry. He is on staff of Harvest USA, a vitally important ministry to those affected by sexual sin.” – Steve Smallman