October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In observation of these two months, members are encouraged to wear pink and/or purple on Sunday, October 30. Odds are we know someone who has at some point been diagnosed with breast cancer. There are approximately 2.8 million women in the United States who have previously been treated or are currently being treated for breast cancer. It is also highly likely that you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence. Nationally, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. Overall, we are more comfortable discussing cancer than domestic violence. However, both are opportunities for ministry.
Domestic violence is a cancer of the soul. It is sin. The sin of domestic violence is that it neither fears God nor respects people. The command that Jesus gave us is that we love one another, and love does no harm. Indeed, the Scriptures are clear that “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 Jn. 4:20). It is fundamentally inconsistent with the love of God to harm another individual who in Christ is a brother or sister, a child of God. Domestic violence is no respecter of persons because it denies them the dignity of being a person made in the image of God.
If you are being abused, you need to know that you do not deserve it. You are not stupid, fat, ugly, lazy or whatever horrible and untrue thing your abuser says you are. You are a child of God, made in God’s image. You are made in love to love and be loved, and love does not hit or hurt or harm another person. “Love is patient and kind; it is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrong-doing but rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor. 13:4-6).
If you are being abused, you need to know that help is available. The church will help you. There are law enforcement officers, lawyers, counselors, doctors and therapists who will help you. There are hotlines (800-799-SAFE) and crisis centers and community services who will help you. You are not alone!
Thank God for 88 years as a congregation! This year will be the first time in several years that we are having a revival in connection with our homecoming celebration. This meeting is specifically designed for the church. Our theme for this week is, “Your Life. God’s Power.” Over the last decade, churches have seen a dramatic decline in attendance at gospel meetings and revivals. There are many factors that contribute to lackluster attendance. Perhaps the number one reason is that we are too busy. We are often guilty of scheduling God out of our lives. When we are not intentional about prioritizing time with God and His people, we just don’t find the time to attend any extra services.
Additionally, many people are ashamed of the gospel. Many Christians are afraid that their friends will be offended by the messages shared at a gospel meeting, so they don’t invite their non-Christian friends and family. They also feel that since they are already a Christian, they don’t need to hear about one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Thirdly, we often see the meeting as not being for us. People often use the term, “support the meeting” when they speak of attending a revival.
When we support something, it is inferred that we don’t really need it or are looking to benefit from it. We are just there so that the minister has someone to look at while he is preaching. We fail to see the importance of the meeting for our lives. Lastly, with the wealth of sermons online, people don’t have to wait until their favorite preachers come to town for a revival or gospel meeting. They can listen anywhere at any time.
Well why are we having a meeting this year? I believe that there is a need for revival in the church. We can become so comfortable and in love with past success that we stop pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. We need a revival. Furthermore, many Christians are barely hanging on. Too many of us continue to go through the motions of “doing church”, but our zeal has faded and our love has grown cold. We need a revival. Some have turned from truth to follow error, while others have left the church and are following nothing. We need a revival. We need God’s power in our lives. We need a Word from the Lord so that dry bones can be reassembled, resuscitated, and resurrected. Make the commitment to be in the place where revival happens Monday, October 24th - Wednesday, October 26th at 7:00PM each night.
Last week we mentioned that followers of Jesus imitate His love. Being a disciple of Jesus also means that we imitate His ministry (John 15:8). Christians have been called to bear fruit. You know a tree by the fruit that is produces. There are some branches that don’t bear fruit, but are barren. Bare branches consume the nutrients of the vine, but do not bear any fruit. A person who is bare is a consumer of religion but is not consumed with a zeal for God. A person who is a bare branch is simply looking for a church that is in the business of meeting their needs and makes them feel good. Bare branches are not interested in being a disciple of Christ. They would rather just be a fan sitting in the stands.
However, branches that bear fruit are different. Bearing branches see themselves as the hands and feet of Christ. They are involved in ministry. Instead of criticizing and complaining, bearing branches work to make things better. A Christian tree produces fruit that looks like Christ.
Christ cared about those who were hungry, sick, experienced injustice, children and widows. He cared about sinners who were looking to turn their lives around in a positive direction. Our fruit is evidence of our connection with Christ. The fruit that we bear is evidence of the type of tree that we are. Whatever evidence there is that Christ is in our lives, that’s our fruit. When we share the good news that the Lamb of God who died to save us is the Good Shepherd who lives to lead us, we are bearing fruit. As we grow in holiness and righteousness, we are bearing fruit. When we demonstrate pure religion by visiting the orphans and widows in their affliction and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, we are bearing fruit. When it’s all said and done, we bear fruit when whatever we do in word or deed, we do it all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him! We have been called to bear fruit!
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.