boyradd

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Peru Mission Journey, Days 1 & 2

Well, we are beginning another adventure in Peru. This year we have a team of 11 going down from our church. Many of the people I know and a couple I only know by name only, not really getting to know them well in life outside of church.

We sat in the airport and did a devotion. Intentionally I wanted to get everyone together before we left to see begin the relationship and to start the hunger in everyone’s belly for living a life on mission.

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We left BWI airport at 10:30 AM and, by the time we cleared customs in Peru, it was 11:30 PM and almost 1AM by the time we crawled in bed. We had to be up at 6 AM to be ready for a very full day of getting acclimated to Peru.

The first day, our local guide trief to get us to understand a little about Peru, after we went to church.

This includes a lot of just touristy type things. We went down by the water in Mira Flores, took a bus tour of the city, visited the catacombs, and ate at one of our favorite crepe places.

We also had one of the couples in our group renew their vows! It was awesome!

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We ended the night back at church, the main campus of the church we are here with.

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The night was a late night, but very well worth it. We really bonded as a team. We met a couple that live in the town we are getting ready to move to and we really clicked with them.

The next day we woke up a little later, which was a true blessing, and headed to Camino de Vida in La Victoria. Our plan was to paint the outside of the church. When we arrived, we spent over an hour simply praying for the church. We went room by room and prayed over the room, the future function of the church, and the present/future workers.

After that, we jumped right in on painting the walls outside.

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As we ended the night, we went to a Peruvian chicken restaurant and then back to the hotel early where I fell asleep upon hitting the pillow for a short nap.

Tomorrow we will head back to La Victoria to paint the sidewalks, bike lane, and bricks. This church is going to be beautiful! It will be the most beautiful building in La Victoria and it was all done with very minimal cost.

I look forward to this week and ask for prayers for our entire team.

I’ll keep you all updated throughout the week.

No Strippers or Gang Bangers Welcome

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

I love the church that God has placed me in.

For those of you trying to find me, you can typically see me at the 11 AM service at Chesapeake Christian Fellowship on any given Sunday. I also lead the young adult ministry, United, every Wednesday at 7 PM as well as am a member in a couple other ministries.

CCF is a mega-church ready, medium-sized church. We have enough seating for at least 750 per service but serve approximately 800-900 during non-holiday weeks. During the holidays, I’ve seen it so packed that the Fire Marshall threatened to report us. I have seen funerals there where hundreds of people would stand in line to see the body. Our music on any given Sunday would rival a Hillsong concert and the message would rival any TED speech.

But none of that is why I love CCF.

The reason I love CCF is because of the diversity among the congregation.

Yes, we are a very conservative, literal Bible believing church.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

But that is not all that attend there.

The congregation is made up of the sinners, the broken, the weary, the accused, the guilty, the homeless, the rich, the unloved, the popular, and the overall dregs of society.

There are stories that have been shared during people’s testimonies that would make you wonder what kind of church we run that would allow them into it.

I have attended churches that would never allow anyone in there that would upset their view of what church should look like.

Those are the churches that are dead or dying.

Those are the churches that cause Christianity to have a negative view in this world.

Those are the churches that are showing few or zero conversions yearly.

Those churches are nothing like my church. We are 20 years old (I have been going there since 2002, so for about 12 years now). We have hit plateaus, and we are currently hitting one now, but God has blessed us with such strong men and women of God that we will prevail through this because of who God is. The community views CCF in a very positive light. While not everyone can be pleased all the time, when community organizations like assisted living homes and low income housing authorities are calling you up to minister to their people groups, you have got to be shining Christ in some way. And CCF has shown amazing fruit. There are not too many weeks that go by where someone doesn’t come down front to give their life to Christ.

Acts 2:41 – So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

But CCF is an anomaly (for those of you who like Lecrae, check out his new album Anomaly. It is AMAZING!).

You see CCF truly understands what it means to love the sinner but hate the sin.

Tolerance, to biblical standard, is practiced fairly well at CCF. That definition of tolerance is NOT the world’s definition. We will NOT water down the Gospel. We will not twist Scripture to fit what our view is of it. We use Scripture to mold us into God’s desire for our lives.

Re-read that last statement.

Scripture should change us. WE SHOULD NOT CHANGE SCRIPTURE.

Sometimes that change is uncomfortable. If you are a stripper, we would love to have you come to us. You DO NOT have to clean up your act before you do. All we want you to do is show up and get a Gospel message and perhaps meet some amazing Christ-centered people who will walk alongside you in your journey.

Now, if you decide that you are going to make a decision for Christ, then….we will NOT tell you that because of your lifestyle God will not accept you. That simply isn’t the case.

What we will do is explain to you that this Christian life is a journey and that because of your new found love for Christ, you will find yourself compelled to change your lifestyle. And then we will be there, ready for the day when you tell us that you want to change. We will be there to walk this life with you.

Luke 15:1-2 – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Same thing with gang bangers. Can you imagine what the average church would do if someone from a very aggressive gang, known for drug dealings and mafia-style killings, were to walk into the church wearing their gang colors?

I can only imagine that the congregation would be on edge. The pastors would be looking sideways at them and the head trustee would shadow them the entire service. Not very inviting, eh?

But fortunately, at CCF, we have people who have come out of the gangs. Our church is made up of people wearing colors, whether they are football team colors or street colors. It is made up of people from all walks of life, in all manners of dress. Some have tattoos and piercings all over their bodies and others, like me, have none of that (although I am getting very close to getting a cross tattooed on my wrist).

Christ, when he was on earth, sat with and ate with sinners. He hung with the degenerate. He understood them better than he understood the religious elite. Jesus was much more comfortable in the streets engaging the woman at the well than He was hanging out at the synagogue.

If Jesus were here today, right now, we would most likely find Him hanging out at the shelter down the street from our house. We would probably find Him in the hospital, praying with the people waiting for test results. We would find Him in the assisted living facilities and mental health hospitals working with those who may not even comprehend language. We would find Him on the street corner, standing between two people as the drug deal is going down or the transaction is happening between the prostitute and her John.

And then the religious elite would most likely come by and crucify Him, thinking that He is doing something wrong for being open to all walks of life.

Hebrews 6:4-6 – It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Our churches need to perform the behaviors that Christ modeled. The churches need to be a beacon of light for Christ, not simply a big, warm, sweet interior glowing that goes no farther than the 50 or so that fit the rules of your little club.

Church is about Christ.

But it is about Christ reaching the sinner.

And the sinner noticing Christ through the body of the church.

And making a decision to follow Him because of the desire of the body to embrace them.

And then growing in maturity together as they walk alongside each other and sit at the foot of Jesus simply studying about Him, loving on Him, and seeking His face.

That is when ALL strippers AND gang bangers WILL BE welcome.

Isaiah 55:1 – Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

John 6:35 – Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

So today Chesapeake Christian Fellowship (www.4theLord.org) spearheaded a community outreach event called Daily Bread. John 6:35 is the inspiration verse that drove us to Daily Bread. Pastor Christian, a man whom I have been with to Peru, was in charge of it and he hit a homerun!

Last year, CCF put together 500 boxes to take to the Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis, MD (HACA). This year, HACA approached us about taking care of all 741 of their residents. Of course, we said yes.

While my part of this adventure started at 7:30 AM the day of the event, the pastoral staff and countless volunteers worked weeks in advance to make sure this went off without a hitch. Every week the pastors would stand in front of the congregation and tell us what food product we were to bring in the next week. It was usually followed by some cute video. If I never hear the following song again, it will be too soon.

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1 John 3:17 – But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

At 7:30 on 5/17 we met in the gym and it was amazing. The songs, being sung by June and his wife, Andrea, were inspiring and beautiful.

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The crowd was large. I would venture to guess that at least 200 people showed up to make this happen.

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Pastor Pat prayed and then we loaded up the trucks and headed to our destination.

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Once we got to the address, we noticed an area that was surrounded by very expensive houses interspersed with the housing authority apartments. It got me wondering about our little Christian bubbles that the majority of us live in that may have problems, but they pale in comparison to basic survival needs. And then it gets me thinking about what we do on a daily basis that spits in the face of Christ and doesn’t follow the command to love, especially when we are told to love those who are naked, hungry, and in prison.

We started unloading and off we went.

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Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

There are too many amazing stories to tell in this little blog, but I wanted to share a couple of them. I am changing the names of the people in case they or someone they know somehow find this blog.

First, there is Abby. She is a middle-aged woman whose son moved in a few years ago. They both have high blood pressure, so they took medication to keep that at bay. They couldn’t afford to get both sets of medications, so they only got the mother’s filled. She was using it and he was using it. As they started to run out of the medication, she told him that she needed it and couldn’t give it to him anymore until they could afford more. Later that week, he was cutting the grass, had a heart attack, and died. When we arrive to her door, she quietly allowed us into her home, saying she is a private person and doesn’t talk much about her life to others. Soon after, the tears were flowing. She shared her story and, as she shared, we could tell she felt like she had killed her own son. The guilt she had built up over the months had been eating away at her that she felt that she was to blame for everything.

Another story involves Marissa. She is a young, single mother of two. We met her as we were finishing up our deliveries. We had a few extra boxes left over and decided to go door to door in another neighborhood close by just to get rid of them. Marissa saw us coming and was waiting out on her porch. After asking her and her friend if they knew Jesus and praying with them, Marissa then launched into a game of 20 questions about the church we are from. She asked so many questions about the kids program for her two young children. You could tell that is where her heart was. We shared directions to the church and even offered to figure out a way to get her there if she needed one. I didn’t see her this morning, but with about a thousand people at church I rarely get a chance to see everyone.

Another amazing miracle that happened was simply with the food collection itself. With such a late Easter this year, food collection began a little later than expected and we needed to have enough food for at least 741 boxes. In the last week, we were still scrambling for food when a message came in that someone was donating 100 of every item needed to fill a box. By the end of the final week, we not only had enough food for 770 boxes to be made, but also enough to stock our weekly food pantry for a few weeks as well.

And the final, most amazing, miracle that occurred during Daily Bread 2014 was that at least 3 people gave their lives to Christ. That in itself is reason to celebrate and go back year after year to the HACA program.

Overall it was a beautiful Saturday that was spent with beautiful people with beautiful feet serving more beautiful people in the beautiful city of Annapolis, MD. A city of 40,000 people and 4.5 million visitors yearly just saw 3 more of their residents saved. Imagine if one church could see the power of the Holy Spirit save 3 people in one weekend simply by going out into the community, imagine what the other 100+ churches in the greater Annapolis area could accomplish on the 635 streets throughout Annapolis! Lives would be getting saved daily!

If you are a local pastor, elder, or ministry leader reading this, please consider emailing me at fred.noble777@gmail.com to discuss how we can work together to bring the light of Jesus to this dark world, one city at a time.

Romans 10:15 – And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

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The Importance of God’s Word

2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

A few days ago, a friend of mine sent me an article about a church in New Jersey which challenged every one of their congregants to read the entire New Testament in 40 days.  In response, over 3,300 adults and children signed up for it.  The article went on to say that every day, over 700 people in America give up on reading their Bibles.

Matthew 4:4 – But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

What is it about Americans?  USA Today poll said that Only 11%,” of Americans read the Bible every day. More than half read it less than once a month or never at all. 18% of born-again Christians read their Bibles once a day, while 23% who professed to be Christians said they never read their bibles at all.

Romans 15:4 – “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Christianity on the world stage is exploding in growth!  The American church is declining!  According to the Hartsford Institute for Religion Research, the average size of a church in America is 75 people.  Churches that have attendance between 7-99 people are in 59% of all of the churches in America!  The church I go to is in the minority.  I attend Chesapeake Christian Fellowship which has between 1,000 and 1,999 attenders every week.  According to the Hartsford Institute stats, that puts CCF in the top 2% of all of the churches in America!

Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

What is going on in America that is causing the church to decline?

Joshua 1:8 – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Look at Joshua 1:8.  In reading that Scripture above, if we are to meditate on the Word day and night and not let it depart from our mouths, then God will give us good success.  The world defines success in attaining money, clothes, houses, boats, etc….  God is looking at this from a different way.  How many souls will go to heaven when their time comes.  THAT, church, is what success is based on in the Christian’s life.  THAT, church, is what we need to have in our churches today.  Not fiscal success.  Not even success in having the most attenders.  BUT SUCCESS THAT COMES THROUGH TURNING THE GREAT COMMISSION INTO THE GREAT COMPLETION!  We need to be winning SOULS for Christ.

Churches have gotten away from the Bible.  People have been waiting for me to stand on my soapbox on this blog and tell you what I believe with regard to hot button issues, but I have not truly done that because it is important to know that the Word of God is for ALL, not just a group who reads Christian apologetic blogs.  But I believe homosexuality is a sin.  I believe abortion is murder.  I believe that this world, including many churches, has been attracted to all sorts of false idols that take away from the TRUE nature of God.

When the Bible gets changed or watered down by the Christian community, God will take away the successes in soul-winning that was so prevalent in years past.

CHURCH, WE NEED TO GET BACK TO THE BASICS OF THE BIBLE!  STOP CHANGING IT TO FIT THE WORLD’S MOLD!  WE NEED TO BE COUNTER-CULTURAL!

Everyone thinks you are a rebel if you are going out getting drunk every night, doing drugs, getting pregnant out of wedlock, or smoking or whatever else the world has to offer.  I will tell you today, there is only ONE true rebellion left in this world and that is reading your Bible.  NO ONE IS DOING IT!  That is the last true rebellious nature is reading and adhering to a Biblical standard.  You want to be a rebel?  Read your Bible!

Psalm 119:105 – “His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my way.”

As we navigate this world, we need a compass (ok, you have to listen to the lyrics of this song for those of you who aren’t into the punk scene, but really, this song fits and this band is a friend to my family after meeting them at Purple Door).  There are moral absolutes in this world.  The Bible is printed form of God’s moral absolutes.  It is our compass to lead us to where we need to be.  It is our lamp that leads us through the dark night of this fallen world and into a promised land.

If we neglect to read the Bible, then we will get lost.  Caught up in a world that only looks out for itself.  Understand that God is not a malicious God, only desiring to please Himself.  If He was, Christianity would not have flourished since the crucifixion of Christ.  But God came to earth to be a sacrifice for us.  He took a bitterly dark world and added a little bit of light, a little bit of color.  He gave us a hope.

If you are reading this and realize that you do not have the hope that comes through Christ, then I urge you today to reach out to me.  Send me a message to frednoble11@comcast.net and I will reply with my phone number.  We can talk on the phone and pray together.  Through God, we’ll get you on the right path to life everlasting and love eternal.

Amen.

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boyradd

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