Fall 2016 Community Groups Coming Soon!

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It’s hard to believe, but summer is winding down.  But while summer winds down, activities and opportunities for further fellowship, growth, and discipleship at Harbins Church begin winding up!  We are just weeks away from relaunching our weeknight Community Groups.  Pastor Steve and I believe these groups play a vital role in our spiritual health and we urge everyone to select one and plug in.  In these groups you’ll find fellowship, encouragement, ministry for your soul, a means for you to bless others, and a means to better see and savor Jesus Christ.  As always, we have some outstanding study options.  Some we’ve offered before, and some are brand new.  Your five study choices are:

1) Battling Unbelief- Launches Tuesday, Sept 6th, at two locations:  Location #1 Demer and Dana Webb’s home, 7pm.  514 Bentley Circle, Bethlehem.  Led by Demer Webb.  Location #2 Barbara Coleman’s home, 1830 Jessica Way, Winder.  Led by Steve Doyle

images“When faith flickers, stoke the fire!  No one sins out of duty.  We sin because it offers some promise of happiness.  That promise enslaves us-until we believe that God is more desirable than life itself (Psalm 63:3).  Only the power of God’s superior promises in the gospel can emancipate our hearts from servitude to the shallow promises and fleeting pleasures of sin.”

Battling Unbelief, one of the most powerful and popular studies ever done at Harbins Church, is being offered for a 4th time for believers who seek greater growth in godliness and greater power to kill sin in their lives.  Pastor Demer, with help from John Piper, will help you battle the destructive, joy-killing sins of anxiety, pride, impatience, covetousness, lust, and more.  Many have experienced a revolution in their spiritual lives through this study.  Will you be the next to be transformed?

Click here to sign up for this study!

Click here to purchase the study guide!

 

images2) What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage- Launches Wednesday, Sept 7th, at Matt and Marietta Pritchett’s home, 7pm.  2290 Marshland Court, Suwannee.  Led by Mark Pierce.

“It won’t take long for you to be disappointed in marriage. It won’t take long for your dreams to be dashed. The reality is that you can’t escape the brokenness of this world. You won’t be able to avoid the sin of your spouse.

The Bible teaches that we all bring something destructive into our relationships – sin. But as Paul David Tripp explains, we buy into the delusion that our biggest problem is outside of us. We blame our spouse. We blame our circumstances. We rarely take seriously the nature of our own sin.

‘What Did You Expect?’ challenges you to look into the mirror of God’s Word and see yourself with clarity. Maybe it’s you. Maybe you love yourself more than your spouse. Maybe you love your little kingdom more than God’s big Kingdom. When you reach that level of honesty, you’re at the edge of real good things for your marriage.

Start working on a marriage of unity, understanding, and love.”

Here is the trailer for the book:

So what are you waiting for?  The next step in strengthening your marriage can be signing up now!

Click here to sign up for this study!

Click here to download your FREE study guide! (required)

Click here to go deeper and order the book! (optional but recommended)

 

3) Praying with Paul- Launches Wednesday, Sept 7th, at Gabe and Aida Bruzzi’s home, 7pm. 2850 Crystal Ridge Drive, Dacula.  Led by Jeff Thomas

imagesIt’s doubtful that there is any Christian who has not sometimes found it difficult to pray. In itself this is neither surprising nor depressing: it is not surprising, because we are still pilgrims with many lessons to learn; it is not depressing, because struggling with such matters is part of the way we learn. God doesn’t demand hectic church programs and frenetic schedules; he only wants his people to know him more intimately. The apostle Paul found the kind of spiritual closeness in his own fellowship with the Father that is available to all of us.

“Praying with Paul” leads group members into the Epistles to see what Paul taught in his “school of prayer.” Group members will be exposed to the priorities of prayer, a God-centered framework for prayer, and practices for a more meaningful and dynamic prayer life. Christians today can still achieve the confidence Paul enjoyed by following his life-shaping principles and searching for a deeper devotional experience.

Here’s author and teacher DA Carson sharing a bit about this great study.

We have heard from more than one person how this study has resulted in a strengthened and more vibrant prayer life.  Who wouldn’t want that?  If you are ready to deepen your prayer life, you’ve just found your study, so……….

Click here to sign up for this study!

Click here to order the required study guide!

4) Behold Your God- Launches Thursday, Sept 8th, at Todd and Carol Harrison’s home, 7pm. 1480 Bradley Gin Road, Monroe.  Led by Todd Harrison.

Are we sure that the God we serve is the imagesGod described in Scripture? Is rethinking Him biblically really necessary? How do we do it? How would it affect our views of Christ, the gospel, holiness, worship, evangelism, service, and revival?

Behold Your God is a 12-week study that focuses on God’s self-revelation in the Bible, helping the believer to apply the descriptions of God to all of life. Each week features a short biographical sketch of the life of a significant figure from Christian history whose ministry illustrates the truths that you will be studying weekly.  They include A. W. TozerGeorge MullerRobert Murray M’CheyneCharles Spurgeon,  Jonathan Edwards, and more.

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In addition, each week’s lesson will reinforce what you have been studying in the Bible on your own time throughout that week.  Finally, you will be able to listen to highlights from interviews with contemporary ministers whose lives and labors reflect these same truths. These include Paul Washer, Andrew Davies, Conrad Mbewe, and more. Comments from men whose gospel labors range from Peru, Ethiopia, Virginia, and Memphis to New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, and Zambia help to show that these are eternal truths about an eternal God who is not altered by any temporal or geographical context.

Many in our day are tired and disillusioned because they have consistently hoped in the next new idea. It is just this kind of day that makes Christians stop running on their religious hamster-wheels and ask “Why are we doing these programs?” and “Why doesn’t God ever really seem to show up and effectively work in our churches?” Hard questions often lead to right answers. This study is written with the conviction that our fundamental need in Western Christianity is to repent of our low and unworthy views of God, to return to the biblical descriptions of the true God, and to risk it all in order to live upon Who He is. Nothing in this study is new truth.  Instead, everything is meant only to help you to take the biblical descriptions of God seriously and to see how they form the foundation of Christian living.

Whet your appetite with the trailer here:

Ok, I’m ready to sign up now!  But I can’t, because I’m teaching my own study.  But the good news is that YOU can be a part of this incredible group by signing up today!

Click here to sign up for this study!

Click here to order the required daily devotional!

To preserve strong group dynamics and intimacy, Pastor Steve and I are trying to keep the groups from becoming too large.  Therefore, our preference is to have a maximum of 12 participants per group.  (This does not of course, include babies and other children who won’t really be participating in the study!) With that said, we want to make sure everyone is in a group, so if there is only one that you are able to participate in due to day of the week, location, etc, then we will of course increase the size of any group to make sure that everyone is included.  With that said, please let us know as early as you can which group you’d like to participate in.

I’m excited as I’ve ever been about our lineup of studies available to you.  You can’t go wrong with any of the five options available, and I am excited to see and hear how God will use the Harbins Community Group ministry in your life in the months to come.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

You’re not the main character (Identity Matters)

This article continues an ongoing blog series, called “Identity Matters” which is takiimagesng us expositionally through the book of Ephesians.

Back in my younger years, I used to view life as a story and guess who the star of the show was?  Me!  That’s right.   And you would have been supporting cast. It was all about me.

I fear that sometimes I can still slip into that mindset even though I may not articulte it quite that way. We all have a tendency to become self-focused and everyone around us becomes merely supporting cast, including God.  For some, God may be a background character that occasionally makes a cameo. For others, God may be a very important character, just not the central role.  God may be the co-pilot, but we’re flying the plane and charting the course.

In our ongoing, expositional journey through the book of Ephesians, we are learning a lot about our identity and who we really are.  In my last post, we reveled in the glorious truth that as redeemed children of God we are not guilty.  That is a truth to be celebrated.  However, what we are discovering in Ephesians chapter 1 is another truth that isn’t as fervently celebrated, but should be.  Namely, that you are not the main character of the story.

imagesNow, we are right in viewing life as a story, but the apostle Paul is going to remind us of something very important. Paul is going to put us in our proper place and show us that Jesus Christ is at center stage.  What’s more, He’s not just at the center of your story.  Instead, the destiny of the entire Cosmos revolves around and is summed up in Jesus Christ.  God is,

making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

In the New Testament, Paul likes to use the word “mystery” to describe a secret that was once hidden or vaguely understood, but now has been fully disclosed and revealed in light of what Christ has done through the gospel.

And what is this mystery? What is this secret that God has graciously allowed us in on? Paul says God has a purpose.  A plan for the fullness of time.  God is sovereignly moving history in a specific direction towards a specific goal.  And what is that goal?  Paul says in verse 10 that the goal is to unite all things in Jesus Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.

The Greek word translated as “unite” is anakephalaiosis.   It’s basic meaning is “to bring something to a main point” or “to sum up.” The word connotes the idea of a re-unification or a re-establishing of harmony where discord and division once existed.

That describes beautifully where history is headed.

Ages ago, when God created the heavens and the earth, everything was in harmony and united under Jesus Christ. All of the angelic powers obeyed God. Man was perfect and holy and at peace with God in submission to His will, dwelling in a garden paradise where there was no pain or sorrow or death.  The earth was totally perfect.

imagesBut at some point in the distant past things went terribly wrong. One of the angelic powers launched a cosmic conspiracy against God and he led Adam, the first man, to commit treason and join the revolt. The reverberations of Adam’s sin were nothing short of cataclysmic. Man became alienated from God and banished from paradise, and all of Adam’s descendants have continued in that sinful rebellion against Him.   Man also became alienated from man. From the discord we see between Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, to Cain’s murder of Abel in Genesis 4, to all of the racism and wars and conflicts and division we see everywhere among people today, no matter where we look, we see the cataclysmic effects of the fall of man.

The Bible says that sin also ruptured the fabric of the universe. Creation itself was spoiled. The earth that yielded its produce for Adam before sin, now resists him, producing thorns and thistles.   A world that used to be at peace now produces earthquakes and tornadoes and floods.  When Adam fell, all of creation fell with him. We have a Cosmos in revolt against its original design. Man shakes his fist at God and fellow-man,  Satan is described in the Scriptures as the god of this world, and death reigns.

When we think of salvation and redemption we tend to personalize it.  We tend to make it about us, as if we’re the main character in the story.   But the mystery that God has revealed to us is showing us that the stakes are much bigger than we think.  God’s redemptive plan includes more than we realize.  It’s not ultimately about you.   It’s instead about God taking a universe that is being torn apart and fractured by sin and bringing all things back into their proper place again.  He has set in motion a plan where he is now gathering all things together in Jesus.  Though things are now out of alignment due to sin, God is realigning the universe towards a proper relationship to Jesus.

How?  Through the gospel of Christ.  Paul writes,

For in himimages all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Through the blood of Jesus man can be reconciled to God.  We’ve already seen this truth earlier in Ephesians 1.  But Paul, going into chapter 2, will remind his Jewish and Gentile readers that while their races have been marked with discord and division, the two sides have been brought near to one another “by the blood of Christ.”

Jesus is recreating the harmony between humans that once existed in the garden.

In addition, redemption includes a restructuring and recreation of the entire universe. The entire planet, which Paul describes in Romans as “groaning” under the weight of sin’s curse will groan no more when Jesus comes and restructures the Cosmos into the paradise it once was, ushering His people back into the paradise that was lost.

But what about the enemies of God? What about humans that persist in their rebellion, refusing to bend the knee to Jesus Christ and acknowledge His Lordship? What about Satan and his wicked angels who instigated the revolt in the first place?

There are two ways that Christ will create peace and harmony according to the Scriptures. One, is through the removal of hostility and corruption through redemption and the gracious forgiveness of sins.

The other way is through conquest.

The reconciliation that happens through the blood of His cross is expressed in salvation for those who believe, but for the Satanic powers it is expressed through their shameful defeat and disarmament as Christ triumphs over them. (Col 2:15)  What’s more, the triumph that began at the cross will be fully consumated at the end of history.

The Bible is clear that the Lord Jesus Christ will return, and as in ancient times you would have the conquered publicly acknowledge before everyone the lordship of the conqueror and begrudgingly pay homage to Him, you have the Bible giving us this same kind of picture of what’s to come at the end of the age in Philippians 2, where Paul declares that God has highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

There is a time of reckoning coming. Jesus Christ is Lord. All will acknowledge it sooner or later. You will acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord now, with joy and gladness, or you will be forced to your knees when the King returns and rounds up all the traitors and rebels.  In the end, even the most powerful of the rebels, Satan himself, will drop to his knee as a conquered foe, bowing low in homage, and will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.images

When you and I live like we are the main character in the story, we’re not just being naively self-centered, we are being Satanic.  Self-centeredness is a form of idolatry as it makes life all about me.  I am putting me and my efforts and my glory at the center of all things and that is a the heart of Satanism.

The Scriptures are telling us a different story.  A better story.   Jesus Christ is the star of the movie. He’s the main character.  He’s the hero.  He’s the King.  He’s the center of all things, and from eternity past the plan of God has always been the enthronement and exaltation of His Son.

If the core of your identity is bound up in yourself.  If you are moving through life with tunnel vision as if it’s all about you, that’s going to have dramatic consequences in your life and in the lives of those around you.

But if we see ourselves rightly, and put our lives in context, then the story of our lives must always be viewed within the greater context of God’s amazing and beautiful and eternal story of Redemption, which is His plan to unite and reconcile all things to Jesus in heaven and on earth.  Knowing that changes everything.

Are you grieved over broken relationships? Are you mourning injustice? Are you weary of the heartbreak in this world? Are you broken by sickness and living in the shadow of death?  Take heart that we are moving towards a time where all things will be made right and new.

So we do not lose heart… For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 )

Oh how we must have an eternal perspective and remember that the things that grieve our hearts so much are not the end of the story!  Instead, the Scriptures tell us,

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death… (1 Cor 15:21-25)

imagesAll of history is marching forward to a specific destination determined by God, and God is orchestrating everything in a way that is getting us closer and closer to that end. History has a destination, and that destination is Jesus, with the entire Cosmos submitted to His Lordship.  A Cosmos that will be remade, renewed, and restored.  Paradise lost in the garden will be regained in the New Heavens and New Earth where there will be no more pain or sorrow or sickness or death.  (Rev 21:4)

None of that can happen if God is only your co-pilot.  Thank God that He is calling the shots and not us!

Your identity, your story, your very life, is bound up in the bigger and grander and more glorious story of Jesus, our King and Savior and Hero. He has graciously chosen to let you in on this beautiful mystery that assures us that something much better is coming for all who believe.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honduras Highlights

13690855_10206962369353601_6828874464706303517_nOur mission team touched down back in the good ol’ US of A this past Wednesday evening. It was a great mission trip to Honduras and as always there are mixed emotions as we settle back into our day to day American lives. In this blog entry hope to briefly share with you some of the wonderful things God did in and through our team in Honduras. I’ll save a more detailed presentation of the events of the trip for Sunday, July 24th when our team will be sharing testimonies of how we saw God working.

For me this mission trip was a time of much needed refreshment and renewal. By that I do not mean it was filled with down time and rest, quite the opposite, this was one of the busiest mission trips I’ve ever been a part of. What I do mean is simply that the experience of ministering to the Honduran people was itself the means God used to renew and recharge my own spiritual walk and ministry.

The trip allowed me to escape some of the distractions of American life. As we witnessed in poor homes of small Honduran villages I was able to momentarily forget the shenanigans and over-the-top rhetoric of American politics. As I preached in Iglesia Bautista Renacer I was able to momentarily forget about evangelicalism’s love affair with success and numbers. As we taught men about Biblical headship I was able to forget about amateur theologians rudely blogging past one another while proudly claiming final authority on ancient Trinitarian debates. As I played soccer alongside Honduran young men I was able to momentarily forget the nearly daily racial provocations that are plaguing our nation.

I say all this not to promote some sort of naïve missional escapism, for alas life is not a mission trip, and these issues that are stirring up our nation and our American churches are real and need to be addressed. Beyond that it is truly the heart of naïveté to think that Honduran culture and churches themselves do not have their own set of distracting and debilitating issues and controversies.

I’m simply saying that crossing into another culture for a season of ministry can sometimes give much needed pause and perspective to the many things that demand our attention in both our culture and our churches, and for me this past week was just such an experience.

But really the most important thing to focus on are not how the mission trip made any of us feel, but rather on what God actually did in and through us. So, with that said, here are some highlights of our week:

IMG_2706Women’s Ministry: Our ladies ministered to the women of the village El Naranjal through health and hygiene classes, Bible studies, and sewing/crochet projects. The young ladies of our team ministered to the children of the women who attended these special women’s ministry events. This was a very special time that equipped and encouraged many women in El Naranjal.

IMG_3045Prayer Walking and Evangelism: While the ladies did the women’s ministry the men went door to door sharing the gospel and praying with people. On the last two days of the mission trip the ladies joined us in these efforts. Through this door-to-door ministry we saw many believers encouraged, we saw seeds planted as many politely heard the gospel, we saw fruit blossom as several people professed Christ, and sadly we saw the sinful condition of man on display as some openly rejected the gospel.

IMG_2896Youth Camp: Our whole team worked with the youth of El Naranjal for three consecutive days. During the camp we had times of fellowship, games and most importantly teaching from God’s Word. On day one Larry Doyle taught on the importance of holiness, one of the young leaders from Iglesia Renacer spoke on the holiness of God on day two, and on day three Heather and I separated the boys and girls to teach on holiness in the arena of sexuality.

IMG_7200Men’s Ministry: The men had the privilege of doing a leather knife sheath project with 27 men from El Naranjal and another village. The project was accompanied by in-depth Bible study on male leadership in the home, in the church and at work. This was truly a blessed time that led to some robust interaction with the men who attended. Many of the men plan to use what they learned in regards to making leather sheaths to make more to sell in the future. And the church hopes this will be the beginning of monthly discipleship meetings that will get more men involved in the church.

IMG_4429Worship and Bible Study: We had the joy of worshiping with Iglesia Bautista Renacer on Saturday night and then returning to be with them on Sunday morning for their Sunday School time. I was the guest preacher Saturday night and preached on the importance of worship as seen in Psalm 150. My dad, Larry Doyle, preached from Ephesians 2 for the adults and youth on Sunday morning. The focus of his sermon was our identity in Christ, something he taught our whole group on each night during our team devotional time.

IMG_4445Painting Project: On Sunday afternoon, after some rest and enjoying the Euro 2016 soccer final, our team helped the local church in El Naranjal by painting their worship center and a couple of children’s classrooms.

IMG_7243VBS: On Monday and Tuesday we did a one-day VBS focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit. On the first day we were in a town called Sabaneta which has a strong Baptist Church in it called Iglesia Bautista Betel. We had to adjust on the fly to some space limitations, but overall we had a great VBS with about a 100 kids in attendance. On Tuesday we went to a city called Yuscaran, and ministered at a churched called Iglesia Bautista Eben-ezer. That  church has been through much turmoil over the past few years. They are currently in need of a new pastor. From at one point running 150 in attendance, they now only have a few families remaining and in many ways feel all alone and abandoned. We were able to encourage them and show them that someone does indeed care for them as we came in and, in combination with prayer walking, hosted a VBS for about 30 kids.

This summary doesn’t include the many ways that we ministered to one another, the other ways we were able to minister to the Honduran people, or the ministry that our team had toward our bus driver, Santos. Nor have I even begun to describe the many times that we saw God go before us. I look forward to sharing more with you on July 24th, and can’t wait for you to hear some of the testimonies of our team members. Until then, thank you for your prayers and praise God for all that He has done and is doing in and through our church for the people of Honduras.

In Christ,

Pastor Steve.