Blog

Allen Moyer

23
Aug

Why I’m a follower of Jesus Christ

 

By Allen Moyer

I love good theatre. When it’s written and performed well, the audience benefits greatly from experiencing new insights into the “human condition.” In fact, when I study scripture, I try to imagine the drama in the characters, circumstances and context of what I’m reading. Imagine a modern day drama that involves someone like you and me.

Setting: A modern day big city skyscraper. A man (or woman) enters the elevator, call him/her “Witness”. Visible on Witness’ forehead are the following words: “Follower of Jesus Christ”. Another person, call him/her “Curious”, enters the elevator and the doors close, beginning the slow rise to the top of the building. In the next few moments the following scene plays out.

Witness: Hello.

Curious: Hi. (Curious notices Witness’ forehead)

Curious: So, I see you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, Why?

Witness: Well, for several reasons actually. First, followers of Jesus belong completely to God – we are CREATED IN HIS IMAGE, special and separate from the rest of His creation, and there’s great hope in that knowledge. You see GOD HAS NO EQUAL and there exists no suitable substitute for Him, like idol worship or our own pride. And you know, God teaches us that we are to love Him and our neighbor. (pause for effect) BUT THERE’S A PROBLEM (prompting Curious to ask)

Curious: What’s the problem?

Witness: Well, SIN BLOCKS US from obeying God and none of us is perfect and righteous. GOD’S LAW validates our sinfulness and our inability to obey Him. It’s a mirror into which we find it very hard to look. (Witness takes a step toward Curious) Here’s the harsh reality though: Our lawlessness and our disobedience will not go unpunished! (Witness pauses for effect) Now WHAT DO WE DO? Because the holiness of God cannot tolerate sin.

Curious: (Tries to break the seriousness of what’s been said, and is a bit curious) So, what do we do to fix it?

Witness: (Solemnly) Unfortunately, we can’t do anything to change our situation. Only God can change it by his choice. THROUGH GRACE GOD ACTS so that we are saved from bearing that punishment.

Curious: HOW?

Witness: Only ONE that is FULLY HUMAN like us, and FULLY DIVINE like God could satisfy God’s wrath and our punishment, (with emphasis) and that’s JESUS CHRIST! He’s the only possible ransom for us. He’s a man without sin.

Curious: How did you come to know all this about Jesus?

Witness: THE HOLY SPIRIT LEADS US to belief, faith and obedience; and He transforms the body, mind and soul; and consequently we put on Christ and live in Christ. When others see us in action, they should see Christ. You see WE ARE JUSTIFIED and declared righteous THROUGH FAITH, not works. Good works will flow out of a transformed, spirit-led life.
Curious: Tell me more about this spirit-led life.

Witness: Well PRAYER is the way you pour out your heart to God, steadfast and never-ending. And SCRIPTURE, the Holy Bible, is our code; and it holds the key. The Bible can be understood, but not completely comprehended. And the SACRAMENTS, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, are reminders of God’s divine acts on our behalf.

Curious: So you go to church, right?

Witness: Yes, the CHURCH is God’s elect COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS united to act on God’s behalf. (The elevator comes to a stop at the top floor and the doors open. Curious goes to leave, but hesitates and looks back at Witness)

Curious: What do you hope comes from being a follower of Jesus?

Witness: Our hope is in HEAVEN – ETERNAL FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. (Witness pauses and looks intently at Curious, and finally breaks into a warm smile)
What could be better?

If you are familiar with the New City Catechism, portions of which have begun to appear in our Sunday bulletin, then you will recognize its basic truths in this drama.
You see, 1 Peter 3:15 is very clear about one of our key responsibilities as children of God and followers of Jesus Christ. “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”

Want to know more about this subject? R.C. Sproul has written a book called, ‘Everyone’s a Theologian’ that’s a solid read. Also, this month’s Ligonier Ministries Tabletalk devotional magazine is focused on how to answer this and other questions from the curious ones that cross our path. Check it out.

While it might be easier for a pastor, due to training and preparation to answer the question: ‘Why are you a follower of Jesus?’, it seems clear to me, that 1 Peter 3:15 is challenging all believers to boldly step up and provide a reasoned and loving response.

We don’t know how the drama above ends. Does Curious ultimately come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Providing a witness to others about the hope we have in Jesus is like planting a seed. Growth and ultimate fruitfulness is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but led by the Spirit, we can be a catalyst for God’s salvation simply by planting the seed.
What are your thoughts? I’d appreciate hearing from you on this subject. Please email me at amoyer56@aol.com.

02
Dec

A Gift of Value

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

In Mark 14:3-9 we find an event described in the last week leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus: His anointing at Bethany.

Mark tells of an expensive gift of pure nard used by Mary to anoint the head of Jesus at a gathering in a local home.  With his disciples and others in attendance some start to grumble at the waste of this valuable gift on the head of their rabbi. Anointing with Nard

However noble their reasons for objecting (it could’ve been sold for money to help the poor), they missed the importance of worship and giving our best back to God in that particular moment.

Certainly this perfume was very valuable – 300 denarii, a year’s wages in those days.  We might view this as contradictory, love for neighbor versus love for God, but the lesson here is that God receives gladly the gifts we value.

As you pray about your pledge to First Presbyterian church, meditate on the fact that God owns all of creation.  He gives us abundant resources to steward and one way we show our gratitude is to give back to Him those things that we highly value.

May we be willing to give up what is valuable to us for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Some material taken from Tabletalk Magazine, October 2016

10
Oct

Thoughts on the Parable of the Sower and Stewardship

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

The Parable of the Sower is found in the three synoptic gospels: Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8.

Let’s review where the seed falls. Some fell on the path and the birds came and ate it. Some fell on the rocky soil and while it grew quickly it withered away because it couldn’t grow roots. Some fell among weeds and the good plants were choked by them. Some fell on fertile soil and produced a hundred-fold yield.

Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair
Let’s now add some context to this story. Most Galileans, like most people in the Roman Empire, were rural farmers. Many ancient sources speak of plowing fields before sowing, but others clearly speak of sowing before plowing and Jesus chooses the latter in presenting this parable. Much of the soil in the Holy Land is rocky. There is thistle (thorns) that is common around roads and can reach more than three feet, typically in the month of April. The average yield of seed in ancient Israel was probably between seven and a half to tenfold. Finally, ancient legal sources show that feuding, rival farmers occasionally did sow poisonous plants (called darnel) in one another’s fields.

Jesus explains this parable to his disciples. This parable pertains to the individual’s response to the Word of God. One hears and doesn’t understand, and the word is snatched away. One hears and initially responds with joy but only for a little while. One hears but clings to the things of this world. One hears and understands and a harvest is produced.
So what does stewardship have to do with this parable?

Sowing seeds starts the process of growth and we all should be good stewards of God’s Word as we sow this seed in the kingdom here on earth.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” A biblical understanding of stewardship rests on the foundation that God is the creator and owner of all things. We really don’t own anything. What we have comes from the Lord. All that we have and all that we are is a gift from God. We belong to him.
1 Chronicles 29:14 says, (David prays) “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” We can however, return to God a portion of that which is God’s and we offer this portion not out of duty, but as a response to God’s gracious love for us.
Stewardship is not a particular once-a-year church activity. It is a way of life that puts God first in all things. Jesus is the very model of stewardship. He used the gifts God entrusted him with to teach, preach, and heal.

When we listen to appeals for better stewardship of our money, our hearts may be like one of the soils. Some hearts may be likened to the hard path where the seed of the stewardship message can easily be devoured. Some hearts may be like a rock that at first allows the appeal for stewardship to gain a brief but rootless hold on our hearts, but which later results in shriveled support for faithful stewardship because of the temptation of other uses of our money. Some hearts may be the thorny “plants”, i.e. concerns, riches, and pleasures that choke out the good fruit of faithful, committed stewardship. Some hearts may be like good soil that provides fertile ground for spiritual growth through faithful stewardship of our money.
We should ask: What is my heart like? Where will my heart lead me as I consider how best to use my money and my talents, essentially my gifts from God?

08
Dec

Stewardship is about GIVING GIFTS

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

Biblical scholars have long had varying interpretations of the meaning and significance of each of the gifts given to the Christ child by the Kings from the East. These gifts of value were standard gifts for a king: gold as precious metal, frankincense as perfume or incense, and myrrh as anointing oil.

IMG_0757There’s also a deeper spiritual meaning as well specific to Jesus himself: gold representing his kingship, frankincense a symbol of his priestly role, and myrrh a prefiguring of his death and embalming.
In our culture today gift-giving often takes a back seat to gift-receiving when we think about the holiday season. But to truly grasp the meaning of Christmas to a saved sinner, we need to focus on both receiving and giving gifts.

The birth of Jesus is the ultimate supernatural “gift” God gives to us – this little child, God in the form of a man, coming to our world with the express purpose to save us from our sin-tangled lives. This is the gift we receive each and every day, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

That very fact should bring us to our knees and cause the most joyful celebration in our hearts, and it’s in that celebration of what God has done for us, that we find our motivation to give back to God and to others. The gift we give back is ourselves.

May you and your family be blessed by the joy of this Christmas season.

02
Dec

Stewardship is about SUPPORT and SACRIFICE

By Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair

Mark Allen Powell suggests in his book, Giving to God, that faithful giving within a church is of two different types:

  1. Providing support to the congregations of which Christians are a part, with reasonable contributions proportionate to their income and circumstances
  2. Allen Moyer, Stewardship Chair
    Allen Moyer
  3. Christians usually moved by Scripture and the Spirit who go beyond providing support to give up a further portion of their money as a sacrifice

The good news of stewardship is found in the arena of sacrificial giving.

Why should you consider extending your financial support to financial sacrifice? Powell has three suggestions:

  1. Giving away our money is a definitive act of worship – we take something of value and give it up as an act of devotion to God.
  2. Giving away our money is a demonstrable way of expressing our faith, of acting on what we believe.
  3. Giving away our money is a spiritual discipline that frees us from the inevitable pull of materialism that would draw our hearts away from God and from the things that matter most.

As we head toward the home stretch in our stewardship campaign, I again want to urge you to give prayerful consideration to pledging your financial support to First Presbyterian Church – We are about 40% toward our commitment goal. If you haven’t pledged yet, I’m asking for your support of our church’s mission in the coming year.

There are crucial times ahead for our church, and if you’re one who is hesitant about committing financial resources until important decisions have been made and questions resolved, realize that it’s important that the work of the church continue even through difficult and challenging circumstances.
Thank you for your financial support and sacrifice.

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