Monday, February 21, 2011

Super Sundays

"...As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15b

We are excited to launch a new ministry called "Super Sundays". This family worship hour kicks off on Sunday, March 6th at 6 PM. Every first Sunday of the month, we will host this uniquely designed worship service. The idea behind this service is to provide a completely family-friendly context where children have the opportunity to worship our great God right alongside their moms and dads. Our children will participate in nearly every aspect of the worship time, from singing on the worship team, to collecting the offering and reading Scripture. We feel that we have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity to help entire families grow in their devotion to God.

Over the first four months (March through June), I will speak about "Four GIANT Truths about our GREAT God". The messages will be between 15-20 minutes and will be sensitive to meet the needs of the hearts of young and old alike.

Too often our young people grow up thinking that "big church" isn't for them. It's no wonder why so many fall away from regular church attending once they go off to college. I'm excited about the vision of seeing entire families standing together in worship.

While "Super Sundays" are designed to meet the needs of families, we certainly welcome anyone who wants to participate in this up-tempo and exciting worship time. If you are in the area we hope that you will join us!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Daddy's Little Darling

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

It's hard to believe that just five short years ago I became a first-time daddy. There's no denying that, from her very first day, my "Gabbie-girl" had me wrapped around her sweet, little finger. God has blessed her with the face of an angel, the heart of tender lamb, and the personality of an orangutan. Like all children, Gabbie has her moments. Yet, she is already beginning to show the soft buds of a heart that will soon bloom from the loving touch of Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you for my precious little angel, Gabbie. As she grows, dear Lord, please protect her and may her heart rest solely in Your love and grace. Help her, Lord, to put on the truest expression of beauty--that of a 'gentle and quiet spirit'. May she always look first to You as her constant source of strength. Amen.

Happy 5th Birthday, Gabbie! I love you so much!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Birthday Boy

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him."
Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

Today, my Lukeyboy turns 3 years old. I am so proud to be his daddy. His tender and gentle spirit is growing stronger by the day. His smile alone is enough to light the dimmest of rooms. In his own way, Luke is learning about the Lord and what pleases God.

Father, thank you for my "little buddy". May he come to know and love you at an early age. Help me, Father, to emulate Your character and to teach him Your will. In accordance with his name, may Luke shine brilliantly for you. Amen.

Happy Birthday, Lukey. I love you!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finishing Touches

I continue to be amazed at all the dedication and talent that our people possess. Just a few short weeks ago we began our renovation/expansion project and this week we expect to put the finishing touches on all the work.

In the coming weeks, we will launch new Sunday school classes for all ages. We will begin a family worship service called "Super Sundays" which takes place on the first Sunday night of each month. All across the board, our ministry leaders are gearing up for an exciting beginning of ministry as the newest "self-supporting" church in the BFC.

If you are in the area, I'd like to invite you to come check out all that is happening at New Beginnings. Here are some pictures of the new sanctuary and other areas where God-centered ministry continues to take place:

The old sanctuary

The new sanctuary

The old stage

The new stage

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Yesterday was one of the toughest days I've experienced in quite some time. In retrospect, it really wasn't that bad. I mean, seriously, it's not like I'm going through cancer treatments. It's not like I was pacing anxiously in a hospital waiting area for news on a loved one. To be completely honest, I'm a little ashamed that I let the four hours that I spent in the local courthouse get to me so much. (Hey, there's still a "work in progress" sign over my life too.)

Back in November I was stopped by a local police officer for a speeding violation. It was dark, and I was returning home from delivering a meal for one of our members who had just received a long-anticipated kidney transplant. The stretch of road that I was traveling apparently quickly changed from a 35 mile-per-hour to 25 mile-per-hour speed limit. I did not realize the change in the speed zone and consequently was pulled over for going 34 miles-per-hour.

The officer was courteous, I suppose. He explained to me the error of my ways and said that, if I wanted to, I could challenge the violation in court. So, yesterday was my appointed time to try to wiggle my way out of a $100 fine that, quite frankly, I'm not really able to afford.

I got to the courthouse early. I was the four person in line to speak with an officer. I watched as the small waiting area became increasingly crammed with more and more people. When I spoke with the policeman, I was delighted by the fact that he recognized me as a pastor in the area and said that he would do his best to recommend to the prosecutor that my violation be completely dismissed. He told me to head over to the courtroom and wait to be called before the judge.

The judge was seated at about 1:15 pm. At 2:15 pm, the judge took a recess; my name had not been called. At 3:00 pm, the judge took another recess; again, my name had not been called (remember, I was fourth in line...out of about sixty people!) Finally, at about 4 pm, the prosecutor called my name and I went into a little side room where he informed me that he was unwilling to dismiss the speeding violation. He presented me with my options; none of which really sounded appealing to me. I signed a piece of paper and retook my seat in the courtroom.

At about 4:30 pm, the judge finally said, "In the matter of the State of New Jersey vs. Daniel Williams...". (Gulp!) He read before the court my summons and charge and said, "How do you plea?" I then answered, "G...G...Guilty", and was subsequently permitted to leave the courtroom and pay my fine.

Needless to say, numerous thoughts raced across my mind during those hours of waiting in the courtroom. I was incensed that so many people got to leave before I did. I was annoyed at the fact that the longer it took for my name to be called, the more likely it was that I was going to have to pay the speeding ticket. I was embarrassed at the whole idea of having to sit in a courtroom for any reason whatsoever.

"G...G...Guilty"...there is nothing pleasant about that word. After some time to reflect on everything, even though I wasn't happy about the situation, the reality is that I was guilty of speeding. "But officer, I didn't realize..." just wasn't going to magically make the ticket go away.

A couple of thoughts: first, I'm grateful that God does not still count me among the guilty. Through an admission of my sins and faith in Jesus Christ, the penalty has been settled. In Christ, the fine has been paid for all who believe. I'm eternally grateful to God for His mercy and unfailing love.

Second, I'm grateful that Jesus is a merciful Advocate and not an unmerciful prosecutor. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is the "one mediator between God and man...who gave himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus is a tender Shepherd for us who have strayed and fallen short of God's perfect standard.

Finally, the reality of guilt leaves a bitter taste in one's mouth. However, with God, the bitter taste of guilt is taken away and replaced by the sweet savor of fellowship at God's table. God "opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). It's not fun or pleasant to admit one's guilt. Yet, it is imperative that we admit our weakness and need for Christ so that we might be forever changed by His love and grace.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Becoming Holy

One of my favorites authors is John MacArthur. There are a great number of Christians from our era who can attest to his significant influence. He is a prolific author and a wonderful Bible teacher. I have a devotional book called "Strength for Today" that has been written by Dr. MacArthur. I wanted to share the reading for today with you.
God requires holiness and in Christ provides us the means to attain it.

As we have learned, God is holy, and absolute holiness is the standard for anyone who wishes to be in His presence. "God did not spare angels when they sinned, but case them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment" (2 Peter 2:4). In the same way, men who reject God are sent "into the eternal fire which as been prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).

How then can anyone become holy? There's only one way: through faith in Jesus Christ. It is through Christ's sacrifice for us that God can credit holiness to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21). First Corinthians 6:11 says, "But you were washed, you were sanctified [made holy], but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God." We are now called saints, and the Greek word for this in Scripture actually means "holy ones."

So, by God's grace we are positionally holy. By contrast, however, we are too often unholy in practice. But the Bible says, "Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior" (1 Peter 1:15) and "Let every one who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness" (2 Timothy 2:19). We need to be separate from the way the world lives. We need to let others know there is a difference in how Christians live.

When we live holy lives, we will have peace. "There is no peace...for the wicked" (Isaiah 57:21), but God "disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness" (Hebrews 12:10). And that discipline "yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness" (v. 11). If you lack peace, you may well have let sin come between you and God. If so, follow David's example in Psalm 51:9-10 and pray for a clean heart. You should also spend time with those who lead holy lives (Proverbs 13:20; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33).

I think that, at times, we minimize the ultimate point of our salvation: namely, holiness. We are "saved" from sin in order that we might forever be with God our Loving Father. But, God cannot stand the sight of sin. God sent Jesus into the world to put an end to sin. Yet, we--men and women who claim to love God and worship Him--are too quickly contented to permit sin in our lives.

Do you have the same value of holiness as God? Or, do you shrug off the notion of obedience and holiness as only for really fanatical Christians? What are your thoughts on this important subject?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One Incredible Week

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

What a week. Just last Sunday morning the sanctuary looked like this...

I remember what it looked like just a few years ago when Laurie and I first came to New Beginnings. We had about 40 chairs set up for worship in that area. Over the first two years we had to place three orders for additional chairs. In the picture above you see about 90 chairs set up for worship. It's hard to tell from the picture, but people walk right into chairs as they come in the room and there is an aisle of about 30 inches that EVERYONE has to's been pretty crazy.

By the grace of God, we've been able to expand into the whole first floor and just this past week we renovated the entire sanctuary. The only thing left to do is lay the carpet! Here is the story of the past week in pictures. God is truly awesome. We are now going to have about 115 chairs set out for worship with the capability of even more. Let's pray for every chair to be filled by the end of this year!

Yesterday, about 30 people turned out to clean up all the mess and get things ready for today's worship service. Sure, there are a few finishing touches that we have left to do. But, the bulk of the major work is behind us! We joined together in worship today in our brand new sanctuary...

Yes, that was all done in one week! God has blessed our church with so many gifted and dedicated individuals! Thank you for all the prayers and hard work. Lord willing, we will have carpet installed this week. If you are nearby, we'd love to have you visit.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Attitude and Action

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing..." Philippians 2:14-16

We need to be mindful that it isn't just our actions that should set us apart as followers of Jesus. Our attitudes, which sometimes are only visible to God, are equally important. This text from Paul's letter to the Philippian church is a good reminder of some of the reasons why a proper attitude is to accompany appropriate actions. The right attitude is proof positive that we are progressing in our Christ-likeness. The right attitude positions us to be a part of the world's solution (vessels of the gospel message), rather than promoting ungodliness. The right attitude shows that we are learning to view things--both good and bad--from a godly perspective.

Doing the right things with the wrong attitude or motivation is still a problem. To be sure, from one perspective, it's still a slight bit better than completely doing the wrong things. I'd rather have my children clean their room with a moderate amount of grumbling than to completely refuse to clean at all. But, mere compliance to follow a command or obey an order without the right attitude still shows that we are holding onto our self-interests. It still falls short of the standard that God has for us.

Yesterday, I had a test in this area. A gentleman from our community called me up in a crisis. He and I have spoken several times over the past few months. He has been kicked out of his home. He is jobless. Though he claims that he is working to find a job and a place to live, he seems to always be waiting for someone else to get back to him about an opportunity.

This has been a challenging week with building renovations and several serious emotional and family issues happening within our church. I was tired when I got the phone call from this man in need. I didn't feel like responding in a godly manner. However, I felt the Holy Spirit awaken my mind to my attitude problem and received the spiritual energy to become a part of this man's help.

We all need to be on guard in this area. We often pray for God to give us opportunities to serve Him. But, if we are not careful, we can miss those occasions because of an attitude problem. How are you doing in this area? Is there any place in your life where you are doing the right thing with the wrong attitude? Take that to the Lord and ask Him to help you to bring these two important things into a godly alignment.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011