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Parents Beware

By Pastor Domenico Danesi

 

There are two men in the book of Acts chapter 5 whose names rhyme, Theudas and Judas. These men are mentioned by the Pharisee Gamaliel in defense of leaving the Apostles to themselves and letting time determine if their work is from God. The apostles refused to stop teaching and preaching Christ and the High Priest along with the Sadducees were concerned. Gamaliel then speaks up. “Then he addressed them (the men of the council): ‘Men of Israel, take care in regard to what you propose to do concerning these men (the Apostles). For before our time there arose Theudas, asserting himself to be a person of importance, with whom a number of men allied themselves, about 400; but he was killed and all who listened and adhered to him were scattered and brought to nothing. And after this rose up Judas the Galilean, during the time of the census, and drew away a popular following after him; he also perished and all his adherents were scattered.’” (Acts 5:35-37 Amplified, emphasis added)

We as parents need to learn from Theudas and Judas. Who our children “hang with” matters. Both Theudas and Judas lost their lives and the people who followed these men were scattered. Notice Judas drew away a popular following after him (verse 37). Your child is going to be like those they are around. God designed us to be imitators. Have you ever noticed that someone who moves down south after a while develops a southern accent? Why? That’s what they are around and eventually it rubs off and is adopted. This holds true for both words and actions.

If your children are friends with mischievous children, they likely will be mischievous. If they have been around liars, they too will likely start to lie. If they have friends who are kind, you will probably see your children become kinder. No proverb speaks louder to me as a father than 13:20: “He that walketh with wise men will be wise: but a companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Your child’s circle of friends matters a great deal. Is there a Judas or Theudas that has befriended them? Parents beware; you must take action of some sort or your child could end up being harmed in some way. Counsel your children to befriend like-minded children, followers of Christ. We do not want to alienate our children, but rather insulate them with good counsel, prayer, and the word of God. Encourage them to reach out to the lost but develop relationships with the saved.

I am all about souls being saved, but do not deceive yourself into thinking that your 8 or 10 year old is hanging with “Johnny mischief” to redeem him, unless they really are. (It is possible, but not likely.) Encourage your children to pray for the lost and hurting, but instruct them to not be unequally yoked with them. The last thing any parent wants is their child to be a causality of a “Theudas or Judas”. Keep praying, keep feeding them the word, keep instructing, counseling, and loving your children. It’s worth it. We are praying for your family.

 

 

Dear Koinonia,

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)

 

 

A Matter of Life and Death                     

By Lynn Metier                          

Could anything have been more unfair or seemed more WRONG than the brutal murder of Jesus Christ?  It was demanded by the Jewish religious leaders and perpetrated by the highest civil authorities in the region, but they broke many of their own moral and legal laws to accomplish it! The trials were a total mockery of justice; the accusations, completely and utterly false. The violence - the Almighty Creator of the universe mercilessly beaten, bloodied, spat upon, and mocked at the hands of His creatures for whom He was suffering and dying! Jesus was completely innocent of all the charges made against Him.  He was perfect, sinless, righteous, and always obedient toward His heavenly Father and gracious toward His fellow man. Jesus is the only one born of a woman who NEVER sinned and, therefore, did not deserve to die; but His death is the most noteworthy in all of human history. "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people was He stricken. Yet it pleased the LORD to crush Him, putting Him to grief ". (Isaiah 53:4,5,8,10) 

 

It’s that time of year again. From July 10-14 the children will take over the grounds of Koinonia Fellowship and God will be pleased that they are. 

Crazy hair, fun music, crafts, snacks, games, bible stories and more! Our VBS theme this year is Maker Fun Factory - “Created by God, Built for a Purpose”. The Lord has granted me the privilege of serving in 11 Vacation Bible Schools at Koinonia Fellowship. This is my fourth year directing the VBS and each year has brought a special flavor for the week.

 

 

Joyous Suffering

By Pastor Domenico Danesi

After praying and waiting on what to write regarding parenting I feel prompted to bear my heart as a father. This article will simply share some things that I have learned as a parent over the last 12.5 years. As many of you know my wife Leslee and I have been blessed with 6 children. We love each one so deeply that words cannot express the depth of our love toward them. We have laughed, cried, yelled, prayed, played, supported, and failed many times with our children. 

I have discovered that being a parent involves equal parts of two things: joy and suffering. The verse I would pass along to a prospective parent is this: “… for the joy set before Him He endured the cross …” (Hebrews 12:2a). Yes the cross, an instrument of death, in the end can produce joy. When Jesus was carrying His cross up to Golgotha He was suffering; when He was nailed to the cross He was suffering; when He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), He was suffering. The joy that was set before Him was the end result, the joy of rejoining the Father and allowing those for whom He was praying in the time of suffering to now have the power to become the children of god, (John 1:11,12).

I am going to list some topics and areas from my heart that have come through joyous-suffering. The aim is to pass along wisdom for you as parents, to help you, to challenge you, and to encourage you.

 

 

As always Flower City was amazing this year. We had 26 students participate and more adult volunteers than we have ever had! We started with 10 adult volunteers who signed up in the winter and that number only grew as we got closer to camp.

 

 

Excellence in Worship

By Collin Zweigle

Excellence in worship is an imperative ingredient for creating a space for the Holy Spirit to come and move.

Colossians 3:23-25 says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.”

I have a question. When did “whatever you do” become something that doesn’t apply to worship? Last I checked “whatever” means “whatEVER.” I’ve seen this in the church and at times I’ve seen this in MYSELF. At times worship leaders get to a point where they feel confident enough in themselves as musicians, or feel that they have enough songs under their belts to get by, and they stop pushing themselves forward as a worship leader or a musician.

I share this because I have been there. When I was a young budding worship leader I would spend hours on the computer charting songs, pausing and playing a track all the way through until I had every word and every chord typed out on a Word Doc. The computer I had wasn’t hooked up to the internet to allow me to copy and paste chord charts or download MP3s. I had to get songs from CDs and type every word and phrase out myself. This was a meticulous process, but happily I did this for countless songs. I would slap a capo on my guitar and figure out where I could play “in the key of C or G” and I would try all the different chord combinations I knew until I had each chart as perfect as I possibly could. I cared about what I was doing so much and was willing to put the work in to make it as excellent as possible. I wanted my charts to be perfect. This might seem like a silly example, but as a young worship leader this was “being excellent” for me.

 

I am writing today to fellow dads and moms, grandparents, and leaders of boys and men. I am being challenged more and more about how vigilant we need to be in protecting our families from the onslaught of attack on traditional marriage and family. The more confused our kids are about what is good, true, and wholesome love and intimacy the less likely they are to have good, strong marriages and families. I believe this is one of many reasons pornography, sexuality, and promiscuity are flaunted in today’s TV shows, movies, video games, and online.

I wanted to share with you some solutions that I have found to assist us in the war to keep our young men pure and to walk alongside them in this journey into manhood. I have a really great dad, but he didn’t know how to talk to me about sexuality and the issues of life that young men face. In turn I attempted to teach my boys lessons that I had gleaned through my growth in the Lord and my desire to pass along Biblical truths, but I know I could have done a lot better.

This current generation is dealing with a culture that is hostile to God’s word, purity, and even real manhood. I would like to focus this article on a number of items related to protecting ourselves and our children in the digital age.

By Lynn Metier

As we move along in our Christian "walk", it is not unusual to encounter mountains. Some winters we've been forced to deal with mountains of snow in the physical realm, and many have learned the lesson that moving these mountains takes much time and effort, if done in our own strength. (Not only that, but they frequently re-materialize!) Perhaps you have encountered other mountains in your life - recurring patterns of difficulties in financial matters, or health issues, or struggles with emotions, such as anger or fear, or vexing relationships, etc. No matter how many times you seem to finally get on top, you suddenly realize you're facing another mountain. It can get discouraging, even overwhelming, but that most certainly is not God's intent in allowing us to encounter what often seem to be insurmountable obstacles. Just as the Old Testament accounts of the lives and struggles of God's people are picture stories of the Kingly teachings and heavenly principles found in the New Testament, so too these "mountains" of adversity and difficulty are tangible lessons in our temporal world that reflect spiritual realities our Lord would have us discern. Think of the reflection of a mountain in a lake. So too our experiences in the physical realm of this life can be merely reflections of spiritual struggles and obstacles, which are actually more "real" because they are the causes of the reflections. Often, however, we become so focused on the reflection that we fail to see the causative mountain looming overhead.  

 

This Simple Chorus

By Collin Zweigle

 

I write to you from the warmth of one of my favorite coffee shops in Rochester on a blustery Thursday following the infamous windstorm that blew through our region leaving felled trees, damaged homes and vehicles, and power outages in its wake. I feel prompted to write about storms. You, the congregation of Koinonia Fellowship are not unfamiliar with the story of health issues, long distance support, and love that is the life of Collin Zweigle and Megan Farrell. When I think about our life and I think about the storms we have already endured even in our early 20’s it can become quite overwhelming. I share this with you because I believe in the concept of vulnerability. Vulnerability is a key component of communion (the fellowship of the believers). The schedule of doctors visits seems endless, the worry of the financial strain needed medications will cause in the future is looming. How do you go to graduate school and provide for your family? These are just a few of the questions and issues we find ourselves facing in this portion of a storm that has waves of intensity and moments of calm, but never really goes away. 

This is the reality of life. We have our doubts, our struggles, and our questions. We have the moments where we think and even cry out, “Oh, God where are You now?” I think of the writings of David, when in great moments of depression and fear he would cry out to God. Recently I have been finding comfort and encouragement in the intense and often “angry sounding” music of rapper NF. This simple chorus: 

“Oh Lord, oh Lord, do You see us down here?

Oh Lord, oh Lord” 

Backed by soothing piano chords and synth sounds this music just meets me in those moments. 

Later on in the bridge of the song these lyrics hit me pretty hard:

“You see the same God that you saying might not even exist

Becomes real to us, but only when we dying in bed

When ya healthy it's like, we don't really care for Him then

Leave me alone God, I'll call you when I need you again

Which is funny, everyone will sleep in the pews

Then blame God for our problems like He sleeping on you

We turn our backs on Him, what do you expect Him to do?

It's hard to answer prayers when nobody's praying to you”

So often I find myself forgetting to pray in those moments when everything is going well, and then something happens, or I am reminded of the weight that these medical struggles are on Megan’s heart and mind and I get woken up, reminded to pray. The lyrics of this song, and the realization of my own patterns and habits make me wonder how much easier would it be if I just maintained a regular, steady connection with the One who knows me best and loves me most. I don’t want there to have to be some serious situation that reminds me to pray, I want to just pray anyways. I want to be praying already and then, just continue the conversation with the King. He’s always listening, why don’t we talk to him more? 

Recently I have been challenged to go into the secret place and to let that fuel my worship leading and my ministry. Will you go there with me? I challenge you to find that secret place where you meet with God naturally and comfortably. Start there and then continue the conversation as your day goes on. This is one of my goals for the Spring. Consider making it yours. 

 

 

 

An Upward Calling 

By Jordan Rowley 

“…  I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me… reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14

“Pressing on” is not always easy. In fact, this phrase used here in Philippians implies a push, thrust, or drive – all of which require intentionality, energy and action. In it’s original Greek, the phrase means to “earnestly endeavor to acquire.” I like that. It serves as a good reminder to us all. As we walk out our faith, in what areas might we have settled into comfort or routine? And in what areas are we “earnestly endeavoring to acquire?” Notice, this does not mean simply earnestly longing or earnestly desiring, but earnestly endeavoring (trying, attempting, laboring) to acquire! 

Personally, I’m endeavoring to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” But what has Jesus “laid hold of me” for? I think in general terms, that means my sanctification, but more specifically, it’s my calling and the work God has ordained for me from before I existed. (See Psalm 139:16, Ephesians 2:10.) Speaking of calling, last month I shared in an announcement that I believe God is calling me back to the mission field. Before coming on staff part-time at Koinonia as the Worship Director, I spent nearly 5 years serving as a missionary with a locally based organization called Climbing For Christ. Climbing For Christ (C4C), is a ministry blessed by God to reach out to remote and hard-to-reach mountainous places of the world and deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ where others cannot or will not. In the past my work with C4C has taken me numerous times to mountain villages in Haiti, Nepal, Peru, and even to the foot of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Looking ahead I plan on traveling more to these places and others – including expeditions this year to Indonesia, Nigeria, and beyond. The work God calls us to in each of these places varies depending on the needs and the doors He allows to open before us. Here are a few examples. We’ve been blessed to provide food and clean water for emergency droughts, famines or disasters; to construct housing for widows; care for orphans; build churches; support schools; free brick-kiln factory slaves; and, of course, share the glorious Gospel all along the way – by God’s great grace. 

 

 

How important is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead? The apostle Paul sees the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as being the peg upon which the gospel hangs. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, He was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)   

Because the resurrection of Jesus was being questioned, Paul launches into a lengthy discourse about the importance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Christian faith.

 

Christ in Us

by Lynn Metier

“Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Last month we briefly looked at some of the incredible blessings believers have “in Christ”, but this is only half of the spiritual picture of our lives. The other mind-boggling reality is that the Almighty God, Creator of the universe, dwells within every born again Christian! Because the true and living God is a Triune God, this means that we are indwelt by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16).   

But what does this mean to have God living within us? First of all, it means that we now have more than just a physical existence, for we have received eternal life. God is the Source and Supplier of all life in every form and at every level of existence (John 1:3,4). But, while physical life is a gift from God, spiritual life is the gift of God (Romans 6:23b). Twice Jesus proclaimed Himself to be “the life.” (John 11:25, 14:6) Thus when a person is “born of the Spirit” (John 3:6,7), he/she receives the very life of the Risen Jesus! This means that God dwelling in us IS eternal life. 

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) The only way to truly know someone is to live with that person. But Jesus, as Son of Man in human flesh, now dwells in heaven (Mark 16:19), and the other two-thirds of the Trinity exist only as Spirit (John 4:24, 14:17). So in order for His saints to be able to know Him in more than just a superficial way or in only an intellectual sense while we’re still on planet earth, God lives within us. Of course, He already knows all about us; in fact, He has always known us better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:1-6,13-16). So the arrangement is definitely for our benefit; but God is glorified through it, as it reveals how gracious, gentle, and long-suffering He is with us. In fact, Paul wrote to the Colossians that “God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) The previously unknown divine truth that after His death, resurrection, and ascension Jesus would choose to live in His people – which includes Gentiles – was revealed to the apostles, and seen as glorious.  Furthermore, that fact that God now dwells in believers provides us the assurance of salvation and certainty of heaven.



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