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Proclaiming Truth In The Classroom

Part of the purpose for this blog is to highlight what God is doing in and through those in our church community. Recently, we asked one of our members, Jennifer, to tell us how God is using her at a local college. Here is what she said:

For the past two years, I have been working as a professor at a local college. I was hired strictly to teach courses on Student Life Skills, but this past January I was approved to teach another course above and beyond my normal course-load. The course is called “The Social Environment” and it is an interdisciplinary course that provides students with an overview of all the different social sciences.

One of the social sciences that the course touches upon is Anthropology. Chapter 2 of the course textbook is all about Darwinian evolution. The authors have not only written the chapter in such a way that makes evolution appear to be fact, they also go as far as making very blatant statements against Christianity. For example, on page 31, the authors state the following:

“Whereas good scientists are always on the lookout for contradictory evidence, good religious people are not. Almost all religions, and certainly the Christian religion, require people to accept things on faith. Religious beliefs are supposed to be held regardless of the empirical evidence =- the more the empirical evidence contradicts the foundation of faith, the stronger the faith must be. This means that the two sides do not have a common method of resolving the debate.”

The beauty of teaching at the college level is that I have academic freedom. I am allowed to teach anything I want, even if it’s controversial, as long as I can tie it to the content of the course. As soon as I read this passage, I knew I had a perfect opportunity for evangelism, right there in the public, state-run classroom.

I had my students read the chapter, but instead of discussing the chapter right away, I showed them the first half of a documentary called, Maafa 21Maafa 21 is a pro-life film that documents the early American Eugenics movement from its beginnings to present day. It exposes the American Eugenics Society as both the roots of Planned Parenthood as well as the inspiration for Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The film is very well documented. As students are watching, they openly will vocalize their shock and outrage at what they are seeing.

After the film, I ask students to consider what we are being taught in biology classes all over the world. I ask them: “If Darwinian evolution is true, then what can be implied? Can we imply that I am superior to some people in this room, because I am white? Can we imply that I have ‘evolved’ more than some of you? If Darwinian evolution is true, then wasn’t Hitler doing a good thing for the human race?” The students are obviously at a standstill here. On one hand, they’ve been taught all their lives that evolution is a fact.  But now they are faced with historical evidence as to just how much Darwinian theory fuels racist ideas. No one really knows what to say, so I simply continue asking questions: “If evolution is true, then we must accept racism as not just social bias, but as scientific reason . . . but what if I told you that Darwin was wrong?”

At this point I will launch into a lecture on intelligent design. I explain nine points as to why there could be no Big Bang, and that it is completely impossible for one organism to change into another. I tell students that the entire lecture is available on my website if they want to look it over, and then I ask them to write a one-page reaction paper about the entire unit. The results are amazing.

I have taught this course three times, with an average of 35 students in each class. Out of approximately 100 students, I would say that 85 or so who walk away from the lecture no longer believe in evolution. Some of the students have commented in their essays that they were surprised, if not impressed by the arguments against evolution, and suddenly see the authors of their textbook, and the education system as a whole, as incredibly biased. Other students are downright angry that this information is being kept from them. When I asked them if they would like to see both sides of the issue taught in schools, there was a resounding yes; students expressed to me that they would like to have all the information supplied to them so that they could make up their own minds about human origins.

When it comes to sharing the truth, we can be very effective if we simply consider where God has placed us and think about how we can make a difference for the Kingdom of God. I am not in full-time ministry, but teaching this course is one way I can shine the light of God’s truth at my place of employment. I don’t even have to be sharing every day, either. A full semester at Miami Dade College is roughly sixteen weeks, and this discussion on racism and intelligent design only takes up about a week and a half of the entire semester. The rest of the time, I am teaching regular secular material.

I will admit that at the start of this unit, I am always a bit nervous, but once I begin I realize just how easy it is to be a witness to the truth. The evidence is solid and speaks for itself, making it very easy for me to share. When it comes to evangelism, all I need to do is look to God’s Word, and His creation, both of which are perfect. There is no need for any fancy planning or eloquent words. If I simply am faithful and tell others what I know, He will do the rest.

I hope this testimony is an encouragement to someone today. If God has put it on your heart to share the gospel at work, all you have to do is look around and ask God to show you how you can bring the truth to those in need.

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Love One Another… But How?


John 13:34-35 says:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

But How?

In Corey Schmatjen’s recent message on our mission statement titled “Love One Another” he went through an extensive list of different ways Scripture calls us to love one another. This list gives detail and guidance to the command to love one another found in John 13:34-35. Left undefined, our concept of how we are to love one another can be vague or filled with worldly ideas. This list brings us into a Biblical way of thinking about how we are to love one another and helps fill in the path we are to follow in this pursuit. Read them, look them up, meditate on them, and seek to live them out by the power of the Holy Spirit:

Be joined to one another (Romans 12:5)

Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)

Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)

Honor one another (Romans 12:10)

Rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15)

Weep with one another (Romans 12:15)

Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)

Accept one another (Romans 15:7)

Counsel one another (Romans 15:14)

Greet one another (Romans 16:16)

Agree with each other (1 Cor. 1:10)

Wait for one another (1 Cor. 11:33)

Care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)

Serve one another (Gal. 5:13)

Carry one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)

Be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32)

Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32)

Submit to one another (Eph. 5:21)

Bear with one another (Colossians 3:13)

Teach, admonish each other (Col. 3:16)

Encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11)

Build up one another (1 Thess. 5:11)

Spur one another on (Hebrews 10:24)

Offer hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)

Minister gifts to one another (1 Peter 4:9)

Be humble toward one another (1 Peter 5:5)

Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16)

Pray for one another (James 5:16)

Fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7)

Love one another (John 13:34)

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The 10 Commandments: God’s Mercy Revealed to Us!

by Al Pino

moses-ten_commandmentsRecently I have been studying the 10 Commandments and have been so moved by their beauty and God’s mercy revealed in them.

Often, the 10 Commandments can be thought of as cold hard law in contrast to the redemption we now have in Christ. What’s easily missed is the context in which they were delivered to the Israelites.

After God brought the people of Israel to Egypt to be with Joseph a new ruler emerged that enslaved them. For 400 years they were slaves of Egypt, growing in numbers as well as growing in their desperate pleas to God for deliverance. Finally, The Lord raised up a deliver, a redeemer, Moses, and through many signs and wonders delivered the people of Israel from their slavery to the Egyptians.

God redeemed the people of Israel from their slavery for the purpose being finally free to worship Him as Lord. It is in this context that the 10 Commandments were delivered. Which is why God begins his giving of the commandments in this way in Exodus 20:1:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

For us today, the 10 commandments first speak to our conscience of what is right and wrong as expressed in Romans 2:15:

[15] They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.

As Calvin stated, “We learn from the 10 Commandments that God is our Father, that he is merciful and all-holy, and in kindness requires obedience.”

The 10 Commandments teach us that we can do nothing greater in our lives than to love God by obeying his commandments and so giving Him glory. This is what we owe God as our Creator.  Unfortunately, we all fall short of His glory and we all break the commandments and sin against God.  This is not God’s fault, nor the commandment’s fault. It is our fault.

But the commandments then lead us to God’s mercy in Christ. They lead us to find God’s grace provided for us in Jesus Christ who fulfilled the commandments for us. Christ enables us to love God, to obey God, and to give our Creator, Our Heavenly Father, the glory due His name.

In Matthew 5:17-20 we read:

 [17] “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. [18] For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. [19] Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The question for us now is how do the 10 Commandments function for us as Christians?

The 10 Commandments have been tremendously important to Christian maturity and the church has historically taught them as part of Christian discipleship to produce mature believers who image Christ.  We must do the same and to do so we must answer these questions.

Come to our Bible 45 class on the 10 Commandments or listen online to hear and apply the answers this fall for the next ten Sundays at 8:45 am at Miami Lakes Middle School.

Listen to the first class here.

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Last Sunday: Acts 27:1 – 28:15 – Running Toward Your Rome

This past Sunday, August 25th, we enjoyed a wonderful time of worshipping the Lord.

We began by asking God together to make us servants for His glory. To put in us the mind of Jesus Christ as seen in Philippians 2:1-11:

A Servant for Your Glory/Un Siervo Para Tu Gloria

Then we moved to passionately proclaiming together how in Christ alone our hope is found:

In Christ Alone

After that we celebrated and proclaimed the Lord’s death by partaking of the Lord’s Supper together and remembering his covenant of grace:

Covenant of Grace

Finally, we ended our singing by proclaiming together the Lord’s great faithfulness to bring us into and out of the storms of life:

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Finally, we preached the pinnacle of the service and the preaching of God’s Word as Al Pino preached from Acts 27:1 – 28:15.

Listen to Al’s message, “Running Toward Your Rome” here.

Below is a short description and intro video to the message:

Rome in Paul’s day was New York, London, and Rio wrapped up in one pulsating city. It was a city filled with power, lust, violence and a complete disregard for human life. Paul described its moral decadence in the first few chapters of his Letter to the Romans. So why was he determined to go there? Why was Paul risking everything including his very life to get to Rome?

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Pray for Our Annual PVCC Planning Retreat

by Al Pino

Acts 20:28 says:planning-journal
28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

In this post we would like to let you in on one of the ways we seek to walk in obedience to this Scripture and ask for your prayer for us and our church.

Our Task

Beginning this coming Tuesday Corey, Bentley and I will devote four days
to our annual planning retreat. Each year since the inception of Palm
Vista over 16 years ago, we have taken a week to pray, and evaluate
our church and ourselves in light of God’s Word and our mission statement.
That mission statement is: Jesus Christ is the Gospel,
we worship Him, we image Him, we proclaim Him.

We seek to look at how our people are doing, how our structures are serving
our people, and how we can all together better engage in mission.

We devote the first part of the retreat to prayer and going through
our membership list to see how we can serve each individual and family
better with our structures, plans, training.

Then we move to evaluating the ministries of Palm Vista to see if they
are biblically fulfilling the call to make disciples as Christ builds
His church. Asking questions like: are our structures serving our people
and our community?

Finally we begin to plan calendar events and look at the budget for
2013-2014 (our calendar and fiscal year span from September 1, 2013
to the last day of August 2014).

Please Prayprayer

So please pray for us as we seek to
fulfill our call from God to lead well as elders (Corey and I):

1 Peter 5:2-4 says:
2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,
not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for
shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge,
but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Please pray that God would give us much wisdom:

James 1:5:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously
to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Please pray that Jesus would build His church as He said He would:

Matthew 16:18b:
I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Please pray that God would use this time to lead us into greater
fruitfulness in fulfilling the Great Commission:

Matthew 28:18-20:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am
with you always, to the end of the age.”

Please pray that the Holy Spirit would lead us to stand in and magnify
the grace of God in Jesus Christ in all we do as a church:

John 16:14-15:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,
for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will
speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will
glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Finally, please pray that God would even use our planning time to
make us a vibrant community of believers, full of His Spirit, devoted to Him and one another, reaching out to others and seeing souls saved and lives changed:

Acts 2:42-47:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul,
and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all
who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were
selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to
all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and
breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and
generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people.
And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

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His House Children’s Ministry: An Interview with Sabrina Sosa

His House
On this blog we like to highlight how God is at work in and through our members. Today we get the opportunity to hear from member, Sabrina Sosa, who works for a ministry we partner with called “His House Children’s Ministry.”

1) Sabrina, to start, what is His House and what is their mission?

His House Children’s Home is a faith-based social services agency fulfilling God’s directive to defend the cause of the weak and fatherless by providing excellent care and a safe place to call home.

About His House:
His House Children’s Home serves the community as a full case management agency that provides residential care, foster and adoption services as well as counseling and education for children in crisis and transitioning youth. For over 20 years, His House has provided hope to thousands of children and their families from newborn to 17 years of age who have been abused, neglected and exposed to drugs.

The agency is licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, contracted in the tri-county area as a residential program and child-placement agency. Our goal is to restore the emotional and physical well being of children in a loving and nurturing environment. His House is a healing place giving wounded children a warm, loving home and renewed hope for a brighter future. Foster and adoption training is available in English and Spanish on our campus, for more information you can visit our website at http://www.hhch.org or call (305) 430-0085.

2) Ok, so how are you involved in this ministry?

For 6.5 years I have worked in the Development Department as their Community Relations Coordinator (event planning, donor relations, coordinating all in-kind donations, handling media, marketing, advertising). Since October of last year I started working part time in Development and the remainder as a Therapist (mental health). Today I have about 11 clients I see on campus.

3) That’s wonderful! How did God lead you to this position and what is your heart towards this ministry?

God led me here in the summer of 2006. I had just graduated with my bachelor’s in Public Relations and I was a new Christian. At that time, for 7 months I had been praying for a job that would glorify Him, one with great purpose. I never knew of His House until a friend told me about it. After 3 interviews, I quit my job in faith. A day later, they called me to tell me I did not get the position, but that they had created a new one for me: Community Relations Coordinator! Which happened to be the field I studied!

This ministry is beautiful. I work with amazing people of God who greatly encourage me. There are great challenges everywhere, but I have definitely been a witness here to God’s provision, the power of corporate fasting/prayer, and many miracles with children, families, and co-workers.

4) Going even deeper, how has God worked in you during your time in this job?

Growing pains: Loyalty, Perseverance, Grace, Long-suffering, Patience, Love, Joy, Peace. Teaching me that His will many times doesn’t feel so great, but it’s what is best for me and He works to make me more like Him. I have learned that there is no more satisfaction than knowing you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, even when it is painful or it’s not where you want to be.

5) Alright, so how can others get involved?

1. Provide Financial Support
2. Become a Kid’s Keeper
3. Become an Event Sponsor
4. Become a Foster Parent
5. Adopt a Child
6. Become a Volunteer
7. Mentor a Child
8. Coordinate a Service Project
9. Donate Items in Need
10. How You Can Get Your Church Involved

Our Catalyst Youth Ministry is partnering with His House and leveraging their ministry to serve them. They are having a His House Park Day this June 30th at 3pm.

Silver Lakes North Park
2300 NW 172nd Avenue
Pembroke Pines, FL 33029

Website: http://www.hhch.org

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The Bible: Common Questions and Helpful Resources


by Bentley Crawford

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach a message from Acts 17:1-15 titled “A Church Built on the Bible.” In the message I tried to present a picture of how precious and powerful the Bible is.

In this blog I wanted to follow it up by addressing a few questions regarding the role of the Bible alongside that of God and the Holy Spirit as well as help point you to some helpful resources.

Common Questions

In preaching a message so strongly supportive of the Bible a few natural tensions arose in my mind and may have in some of yours as well. I didn’t have time to address them in the message but hopefully you will find these thoughts helpful here:

1. Why Spend So Much Time Talking About the Bible? Let’s Talk More About the Holy Spirit!

While it’s very understandable where this question is coming from it may unnecessarily pit the Holy Spirit against the Bible. In fact the Holy Spirit who powerfully works today is the same Holy Spirit who inspired the authors of the Bible. Meaning, his work today in our lives is in no way disjointed from the Bible, but is part of His one grand work.

2 Peter 1:21 says:
“21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit powerfully worked to inspire Scripture. And today, one of the primary ways He still works is to illuminate and make effective that same Word He once inspired! And more than anything else, He powerfully works to glorify the One at the center of the Bible: Jesus Christ.

John 16:12-15 says:
“12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

So, we must fight to see the work of God as totally unified and in no way disjointed. The work of the Father is in unity with the work of the Son (Jesus) and their work is in unity with the work of the Holy Spirit.

2. Shouldn’t We Worship God, Not the Bible?

This statement at first sounds simple enough, of course we are to worship God and not a book. However, it is actually a little more complex because the Bible isn’t like any other book and if we aren’t careful we could find ourselves pitting God against the Bible. Once again, the two aren’t at odds. The God we worship is the God of the Bible. And further, the Bible isn’t simply a nice book that tells us about God, but are actually His very Words. Because we could not bear to have God speak to us face to face He has chosen to communicate with us through human beings. And today we find all of His Words to humanity in the Bible. When you think of the Bible in this way (as God’s very words) then it makes the question above a little more difficult to parse out. For if God was speaking to us verbally (instead of through Scripture) we wouldn’t say “Worship God, not the words coming out of his mouth.” No, that wouldn’t make sense. For to separate God from His self-expression would be to render Him voiceless and render us hopeless since we would then have no idea of who He is, what He demands of us, and what He has done.

Jesus equates abiding with Him with abiding in His Words:

John 8:31-32:
“31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

And without hearing His Words we can’t be saved:

Romans 10:14-17 says:
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

So, the answer to the question is that there is a problem with the question itself. We aren’t to worship the Bible, but we are to worship the God who speaks through the Bible. And so, to listen to the Bible is actually to listen to God Himself.

Helpful Resources

To help you build your life more on the Bible here are a handful of resources that we recommend that you may find helpful:

1. ESV Study Bible

This Bible is really an amazing resource! Not only does it have the precious Words of God, but it also is full of aids to help us better understand that Word. On each page along with the text of the Bible it has little chunks of explanatory notes for different verses. It will also have small summaries of each section as well as larger summaries of each book to help make sure we aren’t missing the big picture. Finally, it’s got a handful of articles and maps in the back for further study on different topics.

2. Mobile Bibles for Mobile Devices

It is an amazing thing that we can carry the entire Bible around in our pockets! Below are a handful of recommended ways to have the Bible with you at all times. It is recommended that you use a version that isn’t dependent on an internet connection so that you can read whenever.

1) Crossway ESV Bible app (Free)mobile-esv
Windows 7

2) Olive Tree Bible+ App with ESV (Free)Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 5.21.24 PM
Windows PC
Kindle Fire

3)Bible.Is – Bible with Audio (Free) Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 5.25.52 PM

3. Fighter Verses Bible Memory Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 5.29.20 PM

Here is a great resource to help you begin to work at getting the Word of God into your mind and heart on an even deeper level. When fighting temptation to sin, discouragement, etc, if you have verses memorized you can meditate on them whenever and wherever you are to immediately combat whatever you are facing. They also are extremely useful in evangelism when a topic of discussion comes up and you can direct someone to a specific verse allowing them to directly encounter the Word of God!


4. One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm

This is a great book for every Christian helping us think through how to build encouraging and life-giving relationships with one another on the Word of God.


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