Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Key Answers For George Fox

The great Friends writer D. Elton Trueblood recounts in his book, The People Called Quakers, the “great insights” of George Fox (the founder of Quakers/Friends) as he grew in his new-found faith in Jesus Christ. The key questions and insights were:

What is a Christian?

Christians are those that not only believe, but are transformed by Christ Jesus. “The mark of a true believer is a changed life!” No changed life, means no true conversion. Evidence of Jesus abounds in the experience of the believer.

What does it mean to be a minister?

It is one who ministers. Very simply put…it is not education, ordination, or ceremony but evidence of doing ministry. Furthermore, it is a holy calling open to all, men and women (this belief is why there have been so many significant women preachers in the Friends movement). “If God really sets a man [or woman] on fire, he [or she] will ignite others, and that, Fox thought, is what the ministry means.”

What is the Church?

The Church is the transformed people of God. Jesus dwells in the hearts of people, not in temples or buildings made by human hands. There is no such thing as holy ground. Sanctuaries are not any more sacred than anywhere else, but the hearts of men who have been redeemed are holy, set apart. This is why George Fox, and Quakers, did not call the building where believers assembled a “church”, but a “steeple-house” or later a “meeting house”.

What do Quakers believe?

The most significant insight that George Fox had in his spiritual formation was that Jesus Christ can be personally, and directly, experienced without the intercession or the so-called experiences of others. Jesus can be known first-hand in the present age. He gave testimony to hearing the Holy Spirit speak directly to his spirit saying, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition; and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.” What has been known as “The Quaker Way” is built upon this insight.

How have you experienced Christ? How do you live that experience out daily? Does your life show a difference? 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Week 9, Day 4 Devotional

Day Four:
Read: Acts 18:1-28


1)    God says not to fear because He is with us. What are you afraid of that quells your ability to share the gospel?

2)   In Paul’s travels, he rarely travels alone. Why do you think that is? Why is Christian companionship critical?

3)     In verse 26, Aquila and Priscilla demonstrate what correction should look like. How have you hurt others in your correction of them? How can you be more Christ-like in how you go about correcting others?

To Memorize:
“Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you.”  Acts 18:9-10 (ESV)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

EFC-ER Yearly Meeting 2013 Highlights

Each year, the Evangelical Friends Churches – Eastern Region (EFC-ER), of which Orange Friends Church is a part, gather together in Canton, Ohio for Yearly Meeting. The EFC-ER includes over 90 Evangelical Friends churches located in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Maryland, and Eastern Canada. This year, Yearly Meeting was held July 20th through July 23rd at Malone University in Canton, Ohio.  

On Saturday evening, July 20th, Yearly Meeting 2013 activities began with the annual Missionary Banquet held at the Johnson Center at Malone University. The Missionary Banquet is held in honor of EFC-ER missionaries serving overseas. This year, featured speakers for the event included Voicu & Ana Marian (missionaries serving in Romania) and Dan Cammack (Executive Director of Evangelical Friends Mission [EFM]), whose message was focused on the Great Commission and how Evangelical Friends carry out that mission by making disciples. Dan noted that the Great Commission would be incomplete if churches did not equip their people to go out and make disciples.

On Sunday morning, attendees were encouraged to worship at local Friends churches. The afternoon session began with the first-annual Yearly Meeting 5K Run/Walk for Missions. Several attendees participated in this fun event, including our very own Dr. Robert Wafula and Theresa Mabry! They represented Orange Friends Church well in the race. EFC-ER General Superintendent, Dr. John Williams, Jr., spoke at the Sunday evening worship service, and attendees enjoyed music by special guest, Jonathan White.

Day 3 of Yearly Meeting was ushered in by a concert of praise and prayer in the chapel at the Johnson Center. The General Superintendent, Dr. John Williams, Jr., was the main speaker. In his message, Dr. Williams outlined five ways by which a Christian can enjoy the journey walking with Jesus: 1) Forgive and enjoy the grace; 2) Be humorous and enjoy the laughter with Christ; 3) Avoid blame-shifting and enjoy the cross of Jesus; 4) Develop a spirit of gratitude and enjoy Jesus' thankfulness; and, 5) Worry less and enjoy Jesus' peacekeeping counsel. The Monday afternoon session included the general business meeting and the Pastor’s Think Tank session. The highlight of Day 2 was a special celebration service held Monday evening in honor of EFC-ER General Superintendent, Dr. John Williams, Jr., and his wife Carol and their 25 years of service at EFC-ER.

Day 4 of Yearly Meeting included a time of worship and a memorial service for EFC-ER pastors who passed away during the year. Tuesday afternoon included the general business session. Yearly Meeting 2013 concluded on Tuesday evening with a Recording Service for new EFC-ER pastors.

Children and youth of the EFC-ER also had a chance to come together and enjoy Yearly Meeting 2013 with their peers. Senior high teens were given the opportunity to attend Friends Youth United (FY United) while junior high teens had the choice of attending “Challenge Camp 2” at nearby Camp Gideon or FY United at Malone University. There were also numerous activities going on for younger children at Yearly Meeting. 

In conclusion, EFC-ER’s Yearly Meeting 2013 was truly a wonderful time of worship, praise, and fellowship! We are already looking forward to Yearly Meeting 2014…we hope you will join us there.

Week 9, Day 3 Devotional

Day Three:
Read: Acts 17:16-33


1)    Why was Paul angry when he came to Athens?
a.        He had a bad migraine
b.       Because of all of the pagan idols
c.        Because his wife threw away his favorite tunic
d.       Because the Jews were chasing him

2)   In verse 24, Paul basically says that God is everywhere and cannot be contained in a temple. Do you put God in a box like this? How does your view of the size of God affect your worship of Him?

3)       What gods in your life need dethroned?

To Memorize:
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.”
Acts 17:24-27

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Week 9, Day 2 Devotional

Day Two:
Read: Acts 17:1-15

1)     What kept the Jews of Thessalonica from receiving the gospel?  Do you think this keeps people from receiving the gospel today?

2)     After reading this section of chapter 17, why do you think it is important to know scripture well? Do you make it a point to study scripture?

3)       Why did Paul travel to Athens?
a.        To take a vacation
b.       Gyros
c.        He needed some olive oil to make sacrifices
d.       To escape the Jewish persecution in Berea

To Memorize:
And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.

Acts 17:2-4 (ESV)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 9, Day 1 Devotional

The Story of Us: Acts Chapter 17-18 (July 22-July 28)
Day One:
Recently, I have been reading a book by a pastor named Kyle Idleman called Gods at War. As you might guess, he writes about the dangers of idolatry and how it negatively impacts our relationship with God. Appropriate, considering the countless pagan idols that Paul came across in Acts chapters 17-18.  Needless to say, I took this as God’s cue to write about idolatry this week.
In chapter 17, Paul comes to the city of Athens after his travels in Berea.  When he arrived, verse 16 says that he was greatly angered by the countless idols he saw.  Of particular peculiarity was an altar with the inscription “to the unknown god”. When I read and pondered this inscription, I came up with a rewording of my own, “worship your personal god here”. This inscription essentially says two things: 1) We as human beings are hardwired to worship; and, 2) The idols we worship are not always tangible “stone statues” that those around us can clearly see and point out. ANYTHING can be made an idol!  This includes even good things like friendships, marriages, and hobbies.
The question isn’t, “will we worship” but rather, “what will we worship”.  Whether we consciously realize it or not, we all make a choice. Either the one true God of the universe sits on the throne of our hearts or some other false god does. There is no third option. Even as Christians, we will always have these false gods beckoning for our attention. Fighting these “gods” is a battle we must fight with a sense of purpose daily. We must wake up each morning and make the conscious decision as to what we will worship. So, what will you choose to worship today?
- Kyle Bogner

Friday, July 19, 2013

Week 8, Day 4 Devotional

Day Four:
Read: Acts 16:16-40


1)   Why were Paul and Silas placed in Prison?
a.        Because they angered the Jews
b.       Because they angered the owners of the slave girl by casting out her spirit of divination
c.        Because they refused to be circumcised
d.       Because they offended the Roman governor

2)  Rather than running off and allowing the prison guard holding him captive to commit suicide, Paul shows him mercy instead and stays behind to share the gospel with him. Who are the “enemies” in your life that desperately need shown the mercy of God? How can you be a better steward of this mercy?

3)    In verse 34, it says that the prison guard rejoiced with his whole household because he had believed in God. Considering the brutal treatment of Jesus at the hands of the Romans, it is likely this man had much guilt, yet the Bible does not say that he wallowed in his guilt. Do you feel sorry for yourself or do you thank God for saving you? How does your attitude impact God’s ability to use you?

To Memorize:
And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.

Acts 16:29-34 (ESV)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's My Story...Josh Clark

Josh Clark has been attending Orange for the last five years, and participated in the church-sponsored mission trip to Athens, Ohio recently.  He writes:

Attending Orange Friends Church is fulfilling my belief in Christianity and knowing the Lord. Going on the recent mission trip helped my belief even more, which is what I needed. The mission trip to Athens gave me the opportunity to see what it means to live in poverty. In Athens, most of the community knows how much the smallest things mean to them; whereas in my neighborhood, some people take those little things for granted. Unfortunately, the people in Athens struggle in their daily lives. The Orange Friends group and I were glad to help.

One of the projects that I worked on was to replace a rotted wood floor and install vinyl flooring. The person that we were helping was so thankful for what we were doing. The person would want to talk with us to get to know us, and he seemed to appreciate us talking to him; rather than our actual labor. All the people that we helped would continually thank us for talking to them and working for them. That definitely made the trip worth it. Of course, lots of other things made the trip worth it. 

One of the many things Orange Friends Church has taught me is to be open to strangers and greet them like you would greet your family. So when I arrived at the Hannah House (which was where we lived while we were on the mission trip), I felt obligated to welcome myself to lots of people I did not know, like the summer interns who reside at the Hannah House. The summer interns were friendly, so they were very easy to get along with. This is the same truth for Orange Friends Church, where every new person is welcomed as a regular attender. I am glad to be a part of Orange Friends Church because we are friendly and strong when we work together.

Week 8, Day 3 Devotional

Day Three:
Read: Acts 16:1-15


1)    Why was Timothy circumcised even though it is not a requirement for Christians to do so?
a.        Because it was the cool thing to do
b.       His parents made him
c.        To avoid argument with Jewish believers
d.       He was forced at knife point

2)     God has a purpose in all He does and all He chooses not to do.  Paul wanted to go to Asia and Bithynia but the Holy Spirit had other plans and instead directed him to go to Macedonia. How has the Holy Spirit directed you to go in a way contrary to your will? Has this made you bitter?

3)    How did Lydia come to know Jesus? Was it a result of her seeking or was God seeking her? How did God pursue you before you became a believer and how does He continue to pursue you?

To Memorize:
And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Acts 15:9-10 (ESV)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Week 8, Day 2 Devotional

Day Two:
Read: Acts 14:1-41


1)   Even after becoming believers in Christ, we tend to have times when we feel we must earn our salvation just as the early Jewish converts did in this chapter. In what ways do you see yourself trying to earn your salvation? 

2)       T/F  Based on Peter’s response in verses 7-11, we are required to keep the law.

3)      In verse 29, the letter written by the apostles to the church in Antioch urged the believers there to refrain from eating food sacrificed to idols. Keeping in mind that the Bible cannot contradict itself, read 1 Corinthians 10:25-32. Why do you believe the apostles asked the people of Antioch to remain abstinent from food sacrificed to idols?

To Memorize:
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well.”

Acts 14:28-29 (NLT)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 8, Day 1 Devotional

The Story of Us: Acts Chapter 15-16 (July 15-July 21)
Day One:
This week it was not hard for me to decide what I wanted to write about. As I glanced over verse 1, I instantaneously knew that I had to talk about salvation.  I think that sometimes when we read what the Bible has to say about salvation, we turn on autopilot. Sure, we “know” in our heads that it is only by grace through faith in Christ that we are saved, but that does not always manifest in the way we live our lives. Once again, I will throw myself under the bus and admit that what I just told you is something I have a problem with. 
I don’t want to make excuses, but the world we live in makes the idea of salvation by faith alone seem like a fantastical notion. Culture, at large (but particularly in America), is saturated with the impression that everything of value must be earned. I’m not trying to bash capitalism, but we must understand that this paradigm does not apply to our relationship with God. In fact, God actually sees man’s attempt to earn salvation as offensive. I say offensive because the idea of salvation apart from Christ essentially renders God’s sacrifice a vain attempt. Not to mention, anyone who believes this is essentially calling the Master of the Universe a big fat liar.
Before I finish, I have the obligation to my God to explain why good works and righteous behavior are still important even though they don’t help one earn salvation. To illustrate this, I will pose a question. How does one distinguish a business professional from everyone else? In today’s day and age, the answer may not be so simple, but let’s default to convention for just a moment. I imagine that most would say that it is a suit that distinguishes a businessman.  Now, the suit does not make one business savvy, however, it does act as a calling card of sorts.  The same can be said of good works. Good works are not necessary in the sense that they lead to salvation. However, they are necessary in the sense that they are evidence of one’s salvation.
Sometimes to understand what something is, we must first understand what it is not. Acts chapter 15 does just that. How great is our God that we don’t have to sit in fear over whether we are following the Mosaic Law to the letter! We can live and live abundantly knowing that Christ lived the perfect life we are incapable of living! If we trust and have faith in Him, good works will naturally follow. Go with God and be at peace.

- Kyle Bogner

Friday, July 12, 2013

Week 7, Day 4 Devotional

Day Four:
Read: Acts 14:1-28

1)    In verses 1-4 Luke says that the apostles spoke with convincing speech and performed many signs yet the people of Iconium were still divided.  Can you see that you can’t force someone to accept the gospel?  Have you come to this realization?

2)       What do the people of Lystra do when Paul heals the crippled man?             
a.        They praise God
b.       They claim Paul is Hermes and Barnabas is Zeus
c.        They cower in fear
d.       They drop to their knees in prayer

3)      The way the people of Lystra react to the amazing act of Paul is not unlike we as humans react when God acts in our lives.  Often times we thank and worship the created rather than the Creator.  How does this manifest in your life?

To Memorize:
"Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
Acts 14:15 (ESV)