THE FINAL CALL

I met Fedor Bespalov when he visited our church and briefly spoke. He was on his way to LA for the Shepherds Conference with some other pastors from the Donetsk Region of Eastern Ukraine. We all met at my son Ezra’s house for pizza one night. Following the conference Nancy and I helped Fedor find his flight while we were also were heading home. As he ran to the gate he said goodbye.

We met with Fedor again in 2016 in Eastern Ukraine at his Light of the Gospel Church where I was with my sons at a conference to help the war torn people recover. His church was a key church in the area. He welcomed me and introduced me to many pastors who had been through much. In some cases their church buildings were destroyed. I had the privilege of praying with him for some of them that had spent all day going only a few miles through Russian check point to get from where they lived to the free side of Ukraine that day. It was a side of ministry we don’t see here and a highlight of my life to meet these brothers and see Fedor in action. As we departed he gave me coffee cup with his church picture on it and a copy of the ten commandments in Russian.

This spring I was was in LAX again catching a flight home. My phone rang and my son Caleb said Fedor had suddenly died in Ukraine. I was shocked because he was trim, full of life, and not even 60 yet. I learned he had been on the phone, finished the call, hung up and fell over dead. It was instant. His work was done and he was called home. What a shock to his family. He was not even 60 yet. Last week his family was celebrating his 60th birthday while he is in heaven.

Fedor Bespalov busy with ministry on the phone in Ukriane.

Fedor Bespalov busy with ministry on the phone in Ukriane.

We never know when the final call comes. “…It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment…” Hebrews 9:27 says. Only God knows the “appointed” time.

Recently one of our members, Galen Hansen, suddenly died from complications of COPD. It was sudden also and he may not have known he was dying. He was ready to see His Lord.

Genesis 5:24 says, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” He was gone in an instant. Elijah the prophet also was suddenly taken up into heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2). How good to walk with God and be ready to go. We may not get a quick ride up in a whirlwind but we all have an appointed time. We just don’t know exactly when that is.

Ananias and Sapphira were not such good examples. They were dishonest about their giving promised funds in the early church. They were lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11) so were both were fell over dead that day as the Lord took them.

We never know when our time will come. “It is appointed for man to die once…” so we should be ready. God knows the “appointed” time. Are you ready to meet the Lord in good sense? It starts with recognizing you are a sinner, confessing to Christ your need for forgiveness and simply trusting in Him to forgive. He does forgive and in turn gives you His righteousness. You can see the What About Gospel video on our website home page.

Fedor was ready to go. God used him well in Ukraine and then gave him the final call. There is much work to do there and about everywhere in this world. Be ready to meet the Lord and then be busy serving Him as He directs you.

ABOVE: In LA at my son Ezra’s home a few years ago during a Shepherd’s Conference with some of our guys and Pastor Fedor Bespalov standing next to me.  BELOW: Praying for seven Ukrainian leaders who came through Russian check points safely in the Donetsk Region to the conference at Pastor Bespalov’s  Light of the Gospel Church.

ABOVE: In LA at my son Ezra’s home a few years ago during a Shepherd’s Conference with some of our guys and Pastor Fedor Bespalov standing next to me.

BELOW: Praying for seven Ukrainian leaders who came through Russian check points safely in the Donetsk Region to the conference at Pastor Bespalov’s Light of the Gospel Church.

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HOW TO SHARE THE GOSPEL SIMPLY

Last Sunday’s Chris spoke on the Judgement Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10-15). All believers will one day stand there before the Lord. It is not our sin that will be judged there because Romans 8:1 says “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But, at the Judgement Seat of Christ all believer’s works will be judged for their value. Did they bring glory to God or self? That which is useless wood, hay, or stubble will be burned up while that which is valuable will be rewarded. but it will not affect a person’s salvation.

With that in mind how are you doing with witnessing? Do you sometimes fail to give out the gospel or be productive for Christ. That is something most Christians struggle with. Dr. Al Mohler uses four words starting with “P” to remind us of the essential aspects of the gospel when witnessing to someone. You can use the four fingers of your hand to remember them easily.

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The first word is PROBLEM. Our index finger points to the problem. We are all sinners and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). There is nothing we can do to merit the salvation. There is none righteous Romans 3:10-18 tells us. Ephesians 2:1 adds that we are “dead” in your sins which means we are can’t do a thing about it. Dead people don’t do anything. That is a problem!

The next word is PROVISION. Our sin must be dealt with but we can’t do it on our own because we are dead. But God is “rich in mercy” because of His “great love” and wants to redeem us (Eph. 2:4). It is all about Him and for His glory. He has provided a way us to be forgiven.

The third word is PERSON. Christ is the person who died on the cross for sinners. He is the groom who died for His bride the church. He died in our place. That is easy to remember because the third finger is the ring finger speaking about love, engagement, and marriage. Ephesians 5:22ff spells that out clearly. I Cor. 15:1-5 says the “gospel” is about Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for our sins. He did it all. For more on that see the What is the Gospel? video on our home page.

PROMISE is the last word and has great hope attached to it. Christ died but was resurrected and ascended to heaven and promised to come again. He also promised to give forgiveness, salvation and eternal life to all who call on the name of the Lord having repented of their sin. The Holy Spirit has a key role in speaking to the cold heart to bring repentance on those issues and bringing us to life. Repentance is a change of mind and heart about God and our sin. That promise also extends the promises of heaven that are eternal.

Practice this simple four fingered gospel in your SALT group this week. Problem, Provision, Person, and Promise. Got it? See if you can remember the four words and the truth they point to. Then when talking to someone ask if they have heard of these four “P’s” of the Gospel.

Pastor Mark

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS IN SMALL GROUPS

“I don’t have any friends.” some have said. We live in a sea of people but can feel adrift without a friend in the world. Yet we are a more connected culture than ever before with cell phones, social media, and TV; but it still happens. We may feel like no one loves us even though there are those who do.

The problem is not so much external but internal. One of my early mentors used to say, “To have a friend be a friend.” Jesus was a friend of tax collectors and sinners. It is up to us to take the first step in being a friend.

The early church was structured in a way to help build lasting friendships. Acts 2 says Peter preached, thousands got saved and the church was born. At first they met in the place of worship, the Temple where larger groups could meet and the apostles preached. Later in the day they also met in homes or small groups for fellowship and food. Act 2:46 describes this exciting time. “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,”

S.A.L.T. Group Meeting

S.A.L.T. Group Meeting

This is why we have S.A.L.T. groups. We meet in the larger church building on the Lord’s Day for public teaching and worship like the Temple was used for. Then our small groups (S.A.L.T. Groups) meet in various homes in the evenings through the week for fellowship, discussion of the message of the day and a little food too. It is the New Testament model. SALT stand for Saints Applying Living Truth.

An important aspect of these small groups is that we get to know other believers and strengthen relationships. Last week we had nineteen folks gathered in our home for a group. Some of us had met for the first time. It was a friendly environment as we joyfully focused on heaven and on not the tent here but the building of God there as in 2 Cor. 5:1. Our relationships all suddenly became closer as “friends” as we were more aware of this eternal truth. It made us better able to encourage other in word and prayer.

Why not become part of a small group this week? Don’t miss out on fellowship and “friendship” that is eternal. These groups are places to build relationships with others. You may not like them but if you love them as Christ did sinners that can change. Groups are also a place to bring those who are struggling, confused about “religion” but are searching. It can help them understand what it means to be born again. Fall is a good time to join a group. If you avoid it you will be missing out.

Heb 10:24-25 “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Note that true fellowship is others oriented.

Group meetings, days, times and locations are always listed on the front of the bulletin or on the home page of our Community. Three groups meet in the Gig Harbor area plus a group each on Peacock Hill, in Olalla and Key Peninsula. Come with a desire to bless others.

-Pastor Mark