My Kingdom Repentance - 7/29/19

This past week was by far my most emotional and, yes, longest (46min) sermon yet. I debated on whether or not to share this here, but I have many friends and family members who pray for me and support our church financially, and I wanted you to have an "inside look" at what Jesus has been working on with me in the last week. So, at the risk of being self-promotional (which ironically is exactly along the lines of what the Spirit has been convicting me of), I wanted to share this with you all.

I feel like the Holy Spirit is gifting me with a "revival of the soul." Rev. Jack Miller described these moments in the Christian's life being "almost like a second conversion." Jesus used the teachings and moments of last week's MNA Church Planting & Renewal Conference in Nashville, as well as my own sermon preparation in Psalm 24 to wake me up (Rev. 3:1-3). This past week, Jesus has been showing me that I have inwardly made the church plant ministry of Christ Community Church about MY acceptance, MY church, MY success, MY kingdom, MY name, MY glory, MY fame, MY notoriety, MY resume, MY future and MY desirability.

To those who have supported me and prayed for me for the last 18 months, I want to first say that I'm sorry. Please forgive me for being more concerned about my kingdom than Jesus' Kingdom. But I also want to say thank you for praying for me, encouraging me and supporting me. Do not stop praying and giving to our Mission. I believe God is now answering your prayers in a dramatic fashion by bringing revival and renewal to our church and our community through new repentance and deeper faith. And I believe He's starting with me.

Continue to pray for us. Pray for me. This sermon is the honest confession and statement of what has happened to me in the last week, where my heart is today and where I want our church to be. Am I about Jesus' Kingdom or my own kingdom?

Love to you all in the Name of Jesus our King. Grace and Peace from God the Father, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

- Kent Suits

Hyper-Patriotism and the Gospel

Let me start out by saying this: I am thankful to be in America. I’m thankful for the freedom we have to worship Jesus Christ without serious persecution and fear of life or physical suffering. I’m thankful for the freedom we have in our work and in our businesses. I’m thankful for the many resources we have. I’m thankful for the diversity of people and landscapes. I’m thankful for the safety that is available through our military and laws. And I’m thankful for the federal, republic structure of our government; which takes its model from Scripture. 

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With all of this said, I’m also aware of the temptation to put our trust in people, organizations and our identity as Americans and Southerners, rather than put our trust in the Name of the LORD (YHWH) our God. 

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, 
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. 
They collapse and fall,
but we rise and stand upright.”
— Psalm 20:7-8

David is using military language. In his culture, chariots and horses represented wealth and power among the nations.  Powerful countries would have large armies and they would have in their ranks chariots and horses. Chariots were expensive to make, and they were very powerful weapons in warfare that gave an army a very distinct advantage against other nations. They would set up the chariots on the front line and their job was to charge the oncoming battalion, and clear the way so that the infantry could come behind and penetrate the weakness which was exposed. If you owned many chariots and horses, you were the dominant nation which was going to survive and win the battle. 

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But David is saying, “I’m not going to trust in chariots and horses, I’m trusting in the LORD to win my battles and fight for me. And whether that means physically that I’m going to survive whatever this situation is in my life, I’m going to trust the LORD no matter what. I’m not going to put my trust in man-made things and man-made organizations. I’m putting my trust in the LORD. He is the LORD and my trust is in Him.”

How would this apply to us today? We don’t have chariots and horses marching around our towns. With July 4th, there’s going to be a lot of pride in our country. And that can be a good thing. We can be thankful for the fact that we can pray and worship in freedom. It’s a good thing to honor and give thanks for people who lay down their lives for our freedom. All of that is good. But sometimes we take our American - and Southern - pride too far.

I call this “Hyper-Patriotism.”

Hyper-Patriotism is when we make being American better than anything else. When we make being a citizen of the U.S.A. some kind of righteous, holy credential before God, and that to be anything else is to be lesser. That's just not true.

There’s nothing about the U.S.A. in the Bible. It's not there. So to have some form of hyper-patriotism, where being American is something that makes you better than anybody else, is just false pride and idolatry. These things will “collapse and fall, but we [those who trust in the LORD] rise and stand upright (v.8).”

Are you Hyper-Patriotic? Are you obsessed with being American or living in ‘MERICA? Are you obsessed with being Southern and having southern pride?

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I’m from the South. I like being in the South. I spent 4 years in Florida, which confirmed to me my desire to move back north to the South. I like pimento cheese, boiled peanuts, grits, BBQ, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens, creamed corn and Duke’s Mayonnaise. I’m thankful for warm smiles at Bi-Lo, nice head nods in the car, doors held open for strangers and friendly greetings of “hey” and “how are y’all” around town. But there is this temptation in the South to think of myself as better than anyone else because of where I live and where I’m from; and to think that God thinks more highly of me because of this as well.

Some trust in chariots and horses; some trust in presidents, candidates, parties, organizations, plans, agendas, a strong military, borders, procedures, history and strategy.

The Gospel says:

"Don’t trust in those things. Trust in the Name of the LORD, the Name which was given to Jesus (Philippians 2:5-11).  Trust in the fact that through faith in Jesus and His gospel, you’re no longer a citizen of this world, but you are a citizen of heaven; which is better than any earthly kingdom, government or organization. In Jesus, your identity is that you are a child of the God of heaven and co-heirs with Jesus Christ to the kingdom. Your sins are forgiven.  You're perfectly righteous through faith in Jesus. You're loved by a Father who rejoices over you. And you've been given the power of the Holy Spirit to live as one who is becoming more like Jesus everyday; conquering sin and temptation and all our spiritual enemies."

This is where our trust should be. In the Name of the Lord Jesus and His Gospel.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name (Jesus) of the LORD our God." 

- Pastor Kent Suits

John Caddell

Worship Director & Ministry Assistant

 
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Greetings, friends!

I’m John Caddell, the new Worship Director and Ministry Assistant for Christ Community Church. It’s a great honor to be a part of this community, and I am thankful for the warm welcome I have received.

I was born in Augusta, Georgia, but have lived in four different states since then. My father’s work led us from Georgia to Illinois to Florida and finally to South Carolina. After completing high school in Mt. Pleasant, SC, I moved to Columbia to study music at the University of South Carolina. I just recently graduated with a degree in music theory and am now studying at the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies. At IWS, I get to study biblical theology, interpretation, history of the Church and cultures of Christian worship from around the world. Though it’s located in Jacksonville, I mostly take my classes online.

I am a true music nerd. I listen to many types of music, play multiple instruments and even compose my own music. When I’m not working on music for the church, I’m probably at home playing one of my instruments or working on a new song. I also love to cook and I enjoy a good nonfiction book. 

Though I am follower of Jesus and love the Church, it hasn’t always been this way. I didn’t start following Jesus until I was 17. My friends at the time went to “Teen Bible Study;” a small group of students that met every Wednesday night in the middle school library to talk about Jesus. They invited me to come one night and despite my lack of interest, I went. That night, I heard the gospel for the first time in a lesson about 1 John 4:7-10. It says,

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
— 1 John 4:7-10

This passage speaks clearly to the unique and beautiful reality of the gospel: out of God’s love for his people, he sent his Son to make himself known and reconcile us to himself through Jesus’s death and resurrection. This truth began to transform my life, and in time I repented of my sin and received the free gift of salvation by entrusting my life to the Lord Jesus. Out of his grace toward me has flowed an imperfect life of discipleship to Jesus, a life which I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I believe that God desires all of us to contemplate and participate in his mission to draw near and redeem his chosen people. As a part of Christ Community Church, I hope to be a part of the way this church does that. I look forward to the road ahead, and I pray that God will use us for excellent purposes!

“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

- John Caddell

John’s Role

As Worship Director - John meets with Pastor Kent weekly to Plan, Organize, Facilitate and Execute the elements of our weekly worship service. This includes the Music, Scripture Readings, Creeds and Confessions. Everything we do on Sunday morning is done with purpose to communicate the Truth of the Gospel to our people every week.

As Ministry Assistant - John will also meet with Pastor Kent and others regularly to pray, discuss and plan things as they relate to church ministry: members, guests, outreach, events, discipleship, teaching, etc.

Please pray for John, his ministry and the ongoing ministry of Christ Community Church. For people to Know Jesus Christ and Serve the Community by Being the Church.

Severe Mercy - The Story of Joseph’s Life (Genesis 37-50)

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Sheldon Vanauken wrote a book called “A Severe Mercy.”  In it, he describes his relationship with his wife, their love for one another, commitment to one another and their coming to saving faith in Jesus.  But his wife’s life ended soon after their conversion. He was angry with God and confused. Why would God do this to him after they committed their lives to Him? It’s a popular question: Why does God allow suffering? 

Sheldon was a friend of C.S. Lewis and in an exchange of letters he was describing this pain and confusion. Lewis responded by telling Sheldon that he had been “treated with a severe mercy.” Lewis then explained that it’s possible that the couple had made an idol of their love in the place of their love for Christ, and as an act of His mercy, God removed the idol from Sheldon’s life in order that he might know God’s love more. Sheldon later writes:

...so full of suffering for us both, suffering that still overwhelmed my life, was yet a severe mercy. A mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love.
— Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

What we find in Sheldon’s story and in Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50 is that it is God’s mercy to believers to humble us in order to make us more like Jesus and more trusting in Him. Joseph was very proud in his teen years. But through a lifetime of suffering and ups and downs, God, in His mercy, brings Joseph to a place of humility.  Because of this humility Joseph becomes a picture of what Jesus would one day be like and do for us, but Joseph also displays His trust in God in the midst of His suffering. And Jesus did the same.  

it is God’s mercy to believers to humble us in order to make us more like Jesus and more trusting in Him.

Like Joseph, Jesus was abandoned by His own family (“Crucify Him”), sold for silver into enemy hands (Judah/Judas), betrayed by those he helped (the cupbearer forgot/Peter denied), but ends up being exalted to the throne in order to provide salvation for His people and forgiving those who sin against Him. God knows what He’s doing. And even when his mercy is severe, it is still God’s mercy to believers to humble us in order to make us more like Jesus and more trusting in Him. 

Wrong incisions and right incisions are equally painful, but the LORD never makes a wrong incision in the lives of His children. That’s why we should trust the LORD.
— Sinclair Ferguson, 2011 Sermon Series

Like a surgeon, God works with precision and knows what He’s doing, even when it hurts. It is a work of God's mercy to bring us to a point of humility, that we might trust Him for more of His grace. Often this is painful and severe, but it is a Severe Mercy. God opposes our pride, but shows mercy and gives grace to humble us and cause us to trust Him. This is what we learn from the Life of Joseph. 

This is the theme of our Spring 2019 Sermon Series. Listen to our sermons here.

Which Church are You?

What if i told you that a book was recently written that profiled every church in your area and gave (in detail) the strengths and weaknesses of their ministry and members, so that all the churches could read not only about themselves, but also about all the other churches?

That’s kind of what Jesus does in Revelation 2 & 3.  In these chapters, Jesus dictates 7 letters written to 7 churches, and intends for all the churches to read them all (as well as the remainder of the Book of Revelation). In each of those letters, Jesus gives a detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each church, and what they need to do to repent, believe the gospel and continue in faithfulness to their King, Jesus. 

We’ve been preaching through a series on Sundays called “Letters to the Church.” If we take an honest look at each of the seven churches in Revelation and what Jesus has to say to them, we can begin to see what we learn about ourselves and our churches. There is a lot for us as believers to learn about ourselves and our churches from these letters. Let’s take a brief look at each church and ask ourselves what we can learn from them. 

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The Seven Churches

EPHESUS: Commending & Correcting (Rev. 2:1-7)

Every good leader of a business or corporation will give both positive and critical feedback to their people.  The goal of this is to always see improvement and growth. Jesus, as our King and Leader, does the same thing in this letter.  He commends the Ephesians for their good doctrine and commitment to His Word, but He also mentions that they have forgotten their first love, that is their love for the gospel: that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to live and suffer for our sins. This can happen easily in churches that focus on having sound theology or reverent worship or strong teaching programs.  We can get so focused on our theology and doctrine, that we forget the wonder of the gospel that this doctrine is meant to point us to. 

Question: Are you so focused on having the right doctrine and good teaching, that you have forgotten that you are still a desperate sinner in need of Jesus? Have you forgotten the wonder of the gospel and the love of Jesus for you as a sinner? 


SMYRNA: Death & Life (Rev. 2:8-11)

The church in Smyrna faced serious persecution.  Jesus guaranteed that they would suffer and even die because of their faith.  And yet, even though He knew this was going to happen, He allows it to happen and encourages them to persevere; because in the end, He will give them a crown of glory: a crown of victory and wealth in Heaven. Jesus reminds them not to focus on the sufferings of this world, but to look forward to our future glory in Heaven. 

Question: Do you ever get so caught up in the news, worries and sufferings of this world that you forget the great promise of the hope of heaven that we have if we are trusting in Jesus? Are you willing to sacrifice your life of comfort for Jesus? Are you willing to give your life for Jesus? 


PERGAMUM: Sword & Stone (Rev. 2:12-17)

Remember that movie “The Sword & The Stone?” It was about Arthur, the kid who becomes a king.  This happens because as the rightful heir to the throne, he’s able to pull the sword out of the stone.  The Sword & the Stone determined who would inherit the kingdom.  In Jesus’ letter to Pergamum, He also talks about a Sword and a Stone that will determine who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. The Sword is the Word of God.  Those who believe and obey the Word of God (the gospel) will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. At the end of the letter Jesus also talks about a white stone that He will give those who have trusted in Him. This is a stone of forgiveness, acceptance, entrance and dignity.  These are things we only possess through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Question: Do you believe in the gospel of God’s acceptance? That you can only enter the Kingdom of Heaven because of what Jesus has done for you and nothing else? How does that change how we live and interact with the world? What gives us true worth and dignity? 


THYATIRA: Judgment & Mercy (Rev. 2:18-29)

Jesus has strong words for the church in Thyatira.  After briefly acknowledging their faith and love, He then goes into very detailed explanations of how they have allowed certain sins (sexual immorality and idolatry) to become acceptable in their church, because they are the cultural norm. Maybe in our churches we don’t view sexual immorality and idolatry (literally) as acceptable sins, but we do have a range of sins that have become “normalized” in the church: gossip, slander, bitterness, complaining, ingratitude, selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, lying (truth-stretching), greed, lust (pornography), being inhospitable, etc. 

Question: If Jesus examined your life and church in detail, what sins would He find that have become habitual, acceptable or normal? How can you continue to fight your sin through repentance and faith in the gospel by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit? 


SARDIS: Wake Up & Wash! (Rev.3:1-6)

The church in Sardis seems to have become complacent.  They’re not really engaged in mission.  Their just coasting by, doing church life and church things.  They tell themselves they are a thriving and healthy church, but Jesus says in reality they are weak and dying. Jesus reminds them to wake up, not to be complacent, to repent, believe the gospel, be washed and strengthen themselves for mission. In reality, healthy churches are growing churches.  Not only growing in sanctification and discipleship, but growing through conversion by making disciples. 

Question: Are you weak in mission, evangelism & discipleship? Not just your church, but you personally? Do you have unbelieving friends that you pray would come to saving faith in Jesus? Do you intentionally seek out opportunities to talk about the gospel with people? Are you helping, training and encouraging other believers to do this as well? 


PHILADELPHIA: Persevere & Conquer (Rev. 3:7-13)

Laura Story wrote a song called “Blessings” that won her a Grammy. In it, she sings about the pains and sadness of this world, but how they point us to the fact that Jesus is near, loves us and knows our sadness. Jesus’ letter to the church in Philadelphia is full of gentleness and compassion.  He acknowledges that they don’t have power in society and they are the outcasts.  But he reminds them of His love for them, that they will conquer in the end through their perseverance and faith. The struggles, sadness and hardships of life are real.  Jesus knows our suffering and can identify with our weakness.  He is also praying for us and reminding us through this that we are not of this world and this is not our home. We will one day conquer and be with Him forever. 

Question: In what ways can the worries, pain, suffering and sadness of this world actually point us to the joy & hope that we have in Jesus?  “What if the trials of this life are Jesus’ mercies and blessings in disguise” (adapted from Laura Story’s “Blessings”)? 


LAODICEA: Shut Up & Listen (Rev.3:14-22)

I know, some people don’t like the word “shut-up” (just don’t read this blog post to your kids). I don’t love the phrase either and I don’t really say it, but I wanted it to shock you a little bit.  In this church, the members seem to be boasting in their own achievements and in what they believe is important and dignifies them.  But Jesus essentially says, “Silence! Listen to me. Let me in.  You need me.” In another passage He says, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me (Luke 9:23).” Believing and Following Jesus means admitting you actually need Him. 

Question: Do you see your need for Jesus daily, or is your life so comfortable and successful that you seem to be getting by alright without Him? Do you even realize that every gift and ability you have come from Him in the first place? How could this change your attitude about your belongings and achievements? Would it fill you with gratitude and reliance on Him? 


So…what do you think? Which church are you? In reality, we’re all of them.  That’s what makes the gospel so beautiful.  Jesus loves us in our sin and weakness and promises that if we repent and believe in Him, we too will conquer in the end. 

THAT YOU MAY KNOW

(Fall 2018 Sermon Series)

Do you want to know that you have eternal life and that your sins are forgiven?  Do you want to know what is real, true and authentic?  Do you want to know who Jesus is and why he came? Do you want to know how to fight sin and to continue in repentance and faith? Do you want to know what true friendship, fellowship and love for one-another is?  Do you want to know that you belong, are known, accepted and loved?  Do you want to know and love God? Do you want to know God loves you? 

If your answer is yes to any or all of these questions, then the book of 1 John is a good one to read.  Check out these verses where John explains why he wrote his first letter. 

1 John 1:3-4 says, “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 
1 John 2:1 says, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
1 John 2:12-14 says, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
1 John 2:21-22a says, "I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?” 
1 John 2:26 says, “I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.” 
1 John 5:13 says “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” 

The Book of 1 John teaches us all about Jesus and how we can have eternal life through faith in Him. It shows us how the light of His gospel exposes our sin, reveals the greatness of His salvation and shows us the love of God as our Father.  And it teaches us how to walk in love; loving God and loving others. This is why at Christ Community Church, we will be preaching through the book of 1 John this Fall.  I believe these are questions we all ask ourselves from time to time, but they are also questions that many in our community ask on a regular basis. I am praying that by preaching through the book of 1 John this Fall, we will see new repentance from sins, new faith in the gospel of salvation, new love for Jesus, new assurance of the Father's love for his children, and new fellowship with one-another in the church.  

Maybe these are things you need in your life as well? I would encourage you to read through the book of 1 John and ask the Lord to give you assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.  Ask Him to assure you that your sins are forgiven, and because of that, you can be honest about them, confess them and continue in Jesus through repentance and faith.  Ask Him to assure you of the Heavenly Father’s love for you in Jesus.  Ask Him to give you assurance that He is working in you to produce love for others.  Join us sometime! Sundays @ 10:30am at Christ Community Church in Batesburg-Leesville, SC. We would love to have you visit! If you’re interested in this sermon series, our sermon recordings are also available on our website (ChristCommunityBL.com/sermons) and everywhere podcasts are available. If you want to know what the Gospel and how you can believe in Jesus, be saved from your sins and have eternal life; read more on that here

Meditating on the Law of God

"blessed is the one...whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2). 

This summer, during our worship services, we are going to be "meditating on the Law of God" together.  We will do this by reciting different questions & answers from the Westminster Shorter Catechism (A vintage church document intended to help families learn the different teachings of the Bible).  Each week we will focus on one of the 10 commandments.  Our goal in this is for the Holy Spirit to use the law to help us love Jesus more.  This happens in several ways: 1) The law exposes our need for Jesus because of our sin against God's law, 2) it shows us the righteousness of Jesus as the perfect fulfillment of God's law and 3) it shows us how, by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, to Love God more and Love Others more; this after all is how Jesus himself summarized the teaching of God's law: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." 

You can hear more about this in our sermon on Psalm 1 from our series: "Summer in the Psalms."

 

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