When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
Well, good morning to you, uh, here and in Collingswood, uh, if you were here a few weeks back, what a gift it was to, uh, share with the colleagues would campus in a joint campus, baptism service.
How many were here for that? Okay, great. Look right. If your hand wasn’t up, you can count their attendance later. Now. Uh, it was a true joy to, to be together, partnered together as one church, two campuses celebrating the work of Christ in us as a whole body together. And so, uh, we are grateful for you and Collingswood.
And again, here in Mount Laurel. Once you to turn to the book of acts, we’re going to be there again this morning. We are not deviating from that for a number of months. Uh, the book of acts chapter four. Uh, if you have a Bible there in the pew, you can turn to page 8 58. That’s where we’ll be this morning.
We’re picking up on the ongoing narrative of the early church as God’s church. Remembering what has happened. Jesus has died rose again, spent 40 days with his disciples and then ascends to heaven. And despite, uh, all of the odds there, the disciples come in. And in Jerusalem, they begin praying, waiting for the promised holy spirit and then like a rushing wind.
The spirit comes in the sens upon the gathered people, many heard about Jesus, many heard about Christ because of the way the spirit moved and gave all those people different languages to speak. And so the crowds that were gathered, heard the gospel in their own native tongue, the number increased day by day.
And there was an incredible explosion of this fellowship gathering together, sharing meals, caring for needs, worshiping together. Peter and John were two of the apostles that had gone to the temple to pray. And as pastor mark shared a couple of weeks ago, we have this account of a lame man who was there.
He’d been there for 40 years at the temple gates. And what happened was through the power of the holy spirit in the name of Jesus. This man was healed. Crowd’s surrounded the apostles at this crazy work that had happened of the spirit 5,000 men and many more women and children king to know of Christ that day.
Peter and John were then confronted by some of those religious leaders. They decided to hold them in prison overnight. And that’s kind of where our passage picks up this morning. I want you to listen in just kind of a few verses before where we get to today on the annoyed council. That is the chief priests, the elders, the religious leaders, and the rulers in acts four verse 16.
What should we do with these men? For the notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people let us warn them not to speak. This name anymore. So they called them and charge them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered them, whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge for, we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard. And when they had further threatened them, they let them go finding no way to punish them because of the people for all were praising God for what had happened.
And here’s where we’ll land this morning. So when they, this Peter and John were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them who through the mouth of our father, David, your servant said by the holy spirit, why did the Gentiles rate.
And the people’s plot in vain, the Kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed. For truly in this city, there were gathered together against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and Pontius pilot, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
And now Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with boldness. While you stretch out your hand to heal and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed the place in which they were gathered together with shaken, and they were all filled with the holy spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness, let’s pray this morning.
Father son, holy spirit. We are so grateful for the evidence of your work all throughout this passage. Lord, we thank you for the gift of your spirit that provides boldness, where we might be nervous or scared or feel like cowards sharing the hope of Christ. Lord, we thank you that because of Christ, we have something to share.
We have the very words written down that you got have been sovereign over throughout all the ages that we can come to and receive truth from this morning. Might it be truth that cuts to our hearts and changes us. And may we see your goodness in this passage this morning, change us as a church. We pray in your name?
Amen. Well, I’ve titled the sermon, uh, the name of a class that I had in seminary, it’s called formation for mission. Uh, the hope of this is that we would kind of catch that vision for what the church is about. We’ve talked about this concept. I’ve talked about it in the DNA podcasts that pastor mark, pastor Ben and I put together the purpose of the church, the goal of the church today and the early church then is what we’ll unpack this morning that we would be formed so that we can be sent formation for mission being formed for a God ordained, redemptive purpose.
And just so we’re clear, let me define church for us. This. Many of you got in your cars and you either navigated to one of two places, 15, 20 Hanes Fort Mount Laurel road, Mount Laurel, New Jersey, maybe you know how to get here or seven, 10 callings app in Collingswood though, I hear there is still debate over if it’s in Collingswood or another city or town, or you guys are probably laughing about that in Collingswood, but the church is not a building.
The church is not a building. The church has a building, but it’s not a building. The church is the gathering of God’s people. And if that feels a little unsettling to you, I want you to dial it back just over two years ago, to March, 2020, the church has a building, but at the time we weren’t using it church didn’t stop anybody.
Remember this visual we have, right? This is church. The church has a building, but the church is not a building. Yes. This is zoom youth group. It was about as awful as you could think. Um, what happened at this point is no one knew how to use zoom. And for the first time we said, let’s go. We had all the kids on the screen.
And, um, I hadn’t learned how to lock down. Some of those meeting controls yet. So kids were sharing their screen, unmuting themselves, chatting drawling across the, I have no idea where that was coming from. Oh, we had church, the church has a building, but the church is not a building. The church is the gathering of God’s people who are being shaped and formed that we might be sent.
The church is a God-given foundation that we can stand on the three in one father, son, and holy spirit, the word of God. And though imperfect. People make up the church. God has given us this gathering of people to stand with. In fact, it’s the very words of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 16, as he’s talking to Peter, he says, and I tell you, you are Peter.
And on this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell will not stand against it. As we work through the passage this morning, we’re going to see that church, the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Church in the book of acts, let’s look at verse 23. As we begin our three sections this morning, rich is really the report of the apostles.
Here’s how far we’re going to get verse 23, when they were released, they went to their friends. We’re not going to go any further in this first point, because it’s so easy to pass this by. Right? It’s so easy to jump onto the things that we think are more interesting, but they went back to their friends.
Who did they report to probably somewhere the friend group between 5,000 men, women, children, and just the apostles. We don’t know how many there were, but it’s possible. There was a good gathering of people that they went to share with. Maybe they even returned back to their normal rendezvous spot, which was the upper room.
They had gone there with Jesus, for the Passover. They had gone back there waiting for the promised holy spirit. And that room was shaken. Possibly. They went back there. We find that in chapter one and two, but they were sharing and listening to one another, which I believe is a huge part of the church that we would share in this communal aspect, sharing life, listening to one another ministering by just being present with each other.
Okay. So they reported to their friends. Well, what did they say? What do they. Verse 23 again. And they reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. Now, if you remember back a few weeks, we know what the chief priests and elders said to those people. We can’t deny the evidence. This lame man is healed and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem can tell that it’s true, that this actually happened in order that the name of Jesus does not spread any further, say no more.
Now, remember, these are religious leaders. And if you’re thinking like me, you’re probably thinking, why would these guys be so upset about people being healed? What’s the big deal? Aren’t they like these religious isn’t this helping the movement of religion go forward. But instead, these religious leaders were annoyed.
Their power was threatened. These common and unschooled men are making Jesus more popular than. This can’t be. And so let’s quiet them. Peter and John, as we just read a few minutes ago, basically responded with, well, we’re going to let God decide what we do, but thanks for the advice. The leaders threatened them again, sent them away for, there was nothing to punish.
Notice what Peter and John don’t report to their friends guys are not going to believe this. We just got let out of prison. And these, these guys are terrible. They were all these cool things to be religious. And they’re just terrible people. They’re horrible. Their hearts are just awful. I mean, can you believe it?
They have the nerve even to threaten us a second time after we were released, they are full some religious leaders. They are no, they simply reported what was said. Nothing more, not in spite or an anger, not frustrated. Just this is what happened. So you might be saying at this point, Mike, nice job. But I think you’re kind of reading between the lines, pulling something out.
That’s not there. I mean, the verse was they reported what had been said, but if you are thinking about this and reading what comes before this part and what comes after, maybe you could call it an reading above and below the lines. There was no fight that happened in the temple courts. There was no further punishment.
In fact, they said we couldn’t find anything to punish Peter and John left peacefully. And what comes next. We’ll see in the attitude of their prayer, they came back and reported. What had been told to them. They gave an accurate non exaggerated account of what had gone on. I’m going to suggest the absence of this grumbling or complaining.
Displays the confident trust they had in their sovereign Lord. This is the formation of God’s spirit in them. This is what happened. Uh, these are hard things, but this is just what happened, uh, sharing of, and a sharing in the difficult moments as the church. That’s what church is about rather than shaking our fist at God, rather than our first response, being an upheaval of my whole inner life, they share, they pray, they trust together.
Okay. Second, the prayer of the gathering together. And we’ll read this again. If you’re there chapter four, verse 24, and when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them who through the mouth of our father, David, your servant said by the holy.
Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plot in vain, the Kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed. For truly in this city, there were gathered together against Jesus whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius pilot, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, verse 28, to do whatever your hand and your planned had predestined to take place.
That’s a highlight right there, verse 28. And now Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness. While you stretch out your hand to heal and signs and wonders have performed through the name of your holy servant. Jesus, why do you think they first turned to prayer?
Kind of, kind of tagged off of the, the last section here, but this is really out of a spirit of thankfulness and. Remember who had detained them, these aren’t religious leaders and not just some religious leaders, there was the high priest Caiaphas, his son-in-law I’m sorry, the high priest Caiaphas and Annas his father-in-law.
This is the highest ecclesiastical gathering possible. At this time they’re threatening, they’re saying quiet down, they’re holding you in prison. This is a big deal. And then they got released, which is an even crazier deal. I think they probably felt this appropriate weight of what was happening. So it’s possible.
The reason why they might’ve turned to prayer is that it wasn’t really a turning after all they possibly had been in a conversation of prayer with one another throughout this entire process, as they felt the weight of what was going on. It’s natural to pause and pray. If you are in step with God’s spirit and what he is doing, but if it’s not natural for you, maybe you could just say, well, that’s because it’s 20, 22, right?
If something of this caliber had happened in our day and age immediately, the news would be all over this opinions form. Social media would have a firestorm. There’d be people live streaming from five different angles with opinions, just to make sure that the evidence was there. There isn’t a huge discussion recorded in scripture, but there is prayer that’s recorded in scripture.
I’ve said many times, probably along with many of you. Yeah. Well I’m really busy and prayer is just so hard and it says a long time you’ve got to spend and talking with God wherever he is. You can’t even see him. Prayers so difficult. I’m too busy for prayer. It’s a season of busy-ness and maybe when I slow down, I’ll have some time to do that.
But if we’re honest, at times, it’s more than a season. It’s possibly a lifestyle that I, or you live in a season where we’re just going too fast. We’re too busy to pray, been reading a book that maybe some of you are familiar with. It is John mark. Homer’s the ruthless elimination of hurry. And some of you, as you read that felt the same conviction that I did just by the title.
Haven’t even cracked open the book, right? If so, pay attention to that. Go on Amazon, pick it up. It is a great read so far. Here’s a quote that talks about this idea of. For many of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith in Jesus. It’s that we’ll become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.
We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them. Man, that’s the hurry disaster that can happen. This is something that CS Lewis talks about in his book, the Screwtape letters, right? There’s this series of letters from the senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew. Wormwood wormwood is a fledgling junior demon.
He’s learning he’s in training. How we can take after get after God’s people and bring them away from God there’s details about how they contempt or trick or lore Christians away from their first love. One of the themes throughout this satirical. Focuses on distractions. You know, don’t try so much as to pull them directly away from God.
Maybe just make them so preoccupied with other good seemingly good things. And eventually they simply won’t have time for God anymore. Sadly, this is not satire. This is our life story. Right? We become so busy that prayer just seems like, Ugh, it’s so difficult. And yet we’ve been offered this two way connection, the street.
We can have just access to talking to the living. God, if you’re following along, I’m going to ask you not to jump, to let her be, which would be natural, but to jump, to let her see, because the outline is out of order and that’s on me. So jump to let her see, how did they pray? So they prayed. How did they.
First 24. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together. The word together also translated with one accord. They joined in their heart and their purpose, no disagreements in what they were praying or fights or discussions about talking. They just joined together and prayed. And maybe there’s a lesson here for people who are maybe newer in their faith, or maybe you feel just intimidated by the idea of prayer, especially prayer in a group of people together.
That is like the worst, right? Maybe this is a lesson for you. That’s gathered here learning how to pray. That part of prayer is really this joining together in unity. Maybe you’re not the one speaking the words of prayer, but maybe you’re joining in your heart in this agreement posture. You’re saying, yes, Lord.
I want this to be. Did you know, that’s actually what the word amen means. So let it be, we’re saying all the same thing we’re joining together. We’re agreeing mutually God, you are our only hope. Okay. Now we’ll go to letter P to whom did they pray? They’re joining together. They have the same heart and who are they praying to?
So it might be a slam dunk, sovereign Lord verse 24, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 25, who through the mouth of our father, David, your servant said by the holy spirit, sovereign Lord, they’re praying to Lord of all creation. You made the heavens the earth, the sea and everything in them.
They’re speaking back praise and recognition of who the God is that they’re talking to. You are the one that we pray to. God’s sovereignty also exists here in how. You’re the one holy spirit who put the words into David’s mouth many, many years before us, you’ve been at work. The words of Psalm chapter two are the words that they pen here.
And these are your words. We’re recognizing holy spirit. It continues on even into the next question. What did they pray after that? What are they praying for? Verse 25? Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plot in vain, the Kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed.
I think the incredible part of prayer that we should actively engage in, as we pray is speaking back the words that God has spoken to us, to him. Let me say that again, part of the incredible joy of prayer is getting to just speak back the words that God has already spoken to us and possibly there is in that process, a reminder of who God is a reminder of his truth, a reminder of what he’s done there, praying back Psalm chapter two, God, these are your words.
Remember this, help us to remember this. We know God is not first after my own. Creativity is some cool words that I can say to win. God’s favor over in prayer. Possibly. We’re just saying, be who you are. God you’ve said these things remind us of your truth. Help us to trust you. They use the Psalm chapter two, holy spirit, given to David ancient prayer in their current pre.
Let’s keep going on. Verse 27 for truly in this city, there were gathered together against your holy servant. Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius pilot. These rulers, you gather them together along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel. Again, you’ve already highlighted at verse 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
What David said prophetically way back in Psalm chapter two happened God predetermined preplanned for ordained the events all surrounding Jesus. Just sit with that for a minute. This is not an accidental death of Christ that happened on the cross, nor was it an accident that he rose from the grave. But that actually there is some divine intention at work in this whole process, which you might say, well, of course, but do we think that often, do we think that if God was in charge, so in charge in that moment, how could he not be in charge of all things that somehow the, the free will of man and to exorcize evil and sin.
And at the very same time, the sovereign God can somehow exist together. I can’t really explain that to you. It gets confusing. When you think about it, it’s a paradox that I’m not sure either you or I can fully understand and grasp on this earth. And it’s hard theologically dense things to digest. But it’s not an isolated truth that happens just here in the book of acts.
I want to walk you through a few places, Ellis that we see God’s sovereignty exists. The true God of yesterday, today, and forevermore God being sovereign over all things. Joseph, remember the story of Joseph, his brothers sold him into slavery and left him for dead years later, the brothers come back finding themselves graveling at his feet for mercy because they had no food.
They needed help. And they were at his mercy Genesis chapter 50. These are the words Joseph said to them. Don’t be afraid. Brothers, am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish. What’s now being done. The saving of many lives. In the face of sin and evil intent, God is still accomplishing his plan.
He is sovereign over all things. Psalm 76, 10 says even the wrath of man will praise you. Even the sinful choices. God, you somehow, through all of this, you are at work doing your sovereign plan. Colossians one for by him, all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether Thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things were created through him and for him.
And he is before all things and in him, all things hold together. God is sovereign over all things. Job, a man who lost everything cries out in his deep pain in job chapter 42. I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be forward. Job also set of God. As he’s losing his health, his abilities, his family has property.
Everything is being taken away. He says this of God, God, you’re the one that loads the clouds with moisture. He scatters his lightening through them at his direction. They swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commends them. After all this happened in job’s life, he prays this, the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord in all this job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing. God is sovereign over all things. The followers of Jesus asked him as he’s walking throughout and chapter nine of John rabbi who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind. Jesus answered the followers.
It was not this man that sin. Or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. God is sovereign over all things, including what we might in our day and age call a disability. God speaks to Moses in the book of Exodus, chapter four, who made man’s mouth who makes him mute or deaf or seeing or blind?
Is it not? I, the Lord God is sovereign over all things. Second Kings, we have this incredible account of the prophet. Elisha. The servant woke him up early one morning and said, oh God, the throngs of the enemy are, are all around us. We’re doomed. We are in for it. We’re going to die. He panicked. What should we do?
Elisha says, don’t be afraid for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. And in second Kings chapter six, we hear these words. Oh, Lord, please open my servant’s eyes that he may see. And the Lord granted that prayer, the Lord opened the eyes of the servant and he saw and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots and fire all around Elisha, Jackie hill Perry put out this quote this week that just man just spoke to me.
She says, regrettably, most of us move about like Elijah servant skedaddling through life. As if everything we can see is all there is to see ignoring the spiritual reality of everything. Angels, demons, incarnate God in heaven, spirit of God on earth in us. God is sovereign over all things. What about the moment on the cross?
When it seemed like God had lost, he was sovereign over, even that Isaiah 53 10, yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him. And cause him to suffer. And though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin. He will see his offspring and prolong his days and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand, even in the death of his own son, God is sovereign over all things.
Hebrew says that Jesus on the cross, the, all the stuff that was there, he looked through the cross and for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, there’s more than we can see, which brings us to one of the hardest truths that maybe you’re hearing all throughout these passages. And I don’t want to share it lightly or flippantly this morning because all of us are walking through or have walked through or we’ll walk through situations and difficulties in life that are unexplainable confusing.
And hard, but if God is sovereign over all things, that must mean if it didn’t go. As I planned, God has another plan that I cannot see. That must mean that if my circumstances change, he must be up to something greater than I can even comprehend that whatever comes my way has passed through God’s hand first, if the all powerful God didn’t stop that or move this or change that or operate in my timetable or keep us together or work.
According to my plan, it must mean he’s up to something that I can’t see for his ultimate glory and our good God is sovereign over all things. And so when Peter and John walk out of that prison cell the next morning and they walk in and they report to their friends, they pray sovereign Lord. Your hand has prepared and planned for this all to happen.
This is not a persecution first. This is the sovereign God at work.
They can and do pray with deep gratitude and conviction that God still is sovereign over all things. So Peter and John and the other followers, they, they pray this. And now Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness. While you stretch out your hand to heal and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant.
Jesus. Bring it on. Do what only your spirit can do. They want more? And finally, God’s response the answer of the triangle. When they had prayed the place in which they were gathered was shaken and they were filled with the holy spirit and continue to speak the word of God with boldness quickly, the physical ramifications, the very walls of the room shook reminds us back again to chapters one and two, where they felt the presence of God.
The spirit ushered in a physical presence in the spiritual sense. Verse 31, they were filled with the holy spirit. Remember, these are not unsaved people who didn’t already have the spirit. Probably it was the apostles and some of their close friends. So what does it mean that they were filled with the spirit?
Possibly. There’s a thought here that for followers of Jesus, the spirit comes in and gives us a new boldness in moments as we’re, as we’re. The holy spirit is in us, dwells within us. And he’s encouraging in a new way to walk and take steps in obedience with him, a fresh wind that comes in shakes the room up.
Finally, what does the spirit produce? They continue to speak the word with boldness God’s spirit alone gives them boldness. It’s a received boldness. This is not a human conjuring. This is not some personality trait where they get aggressive and they go and preach the word of God with aggression. This is not an exercise of their flesh or a personality trait that was innate inside of them.
This is not an empty bunch of words that they spend together. This is boldness telling it all confidently that is given to them by the. It didn’t strategize more. They didn’t try harder with a pep talk. They don’t actually even pray for safety and protection or lock their doors. They don’t pray cursing on the leaders that have done such evil.
They receive a spiritual boldness and continue to do God’s work formation. The whole idea that God’s spirit is changing us and making us that we might be sent on mission for him. God will use whatever means necessary in his mission.
I don’t know where you are this morning, but I look up and see the spirit of God at work to the ends of the earth in Jerusalem, Judea Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. This is the whole point of church. Maybe you came this morning and you thought it was about something different. Allowing the spirit of God to use the word of God, to shape us as the people of God.
That is the church. Peter and John had an experience. They had that, they came back to the church, they prayed together and out the door. They go onto the next thing over the last number of years, my job was youth pastor you saw up there. I kind of like pulled back out of that. The pandemic youth, pastor zoom, um, made me quit.
Um, and I had over the years, a unique chance to watch in the lives of students in some really incredible ways, moments where I just kind of felt like an Elijah moment where like God peels back the, the, the shroud and I can see something like, wow, God is doing something incredible in your life. Some of you may remember a woman, um, from years ago named Virginia.
She was a special woman that always saw God’s armies on the hill. When it seemed like the doors were closing, she was able to peel back those layers and show us what God was doing. She was a special woman that always came to me and just would pray with me and was concerned about my own formation because she was being formed, not just to be a great lady of God, even though she was, she was always kingdom minded focused on a mission 24 7.
There were times when she called out, uh, and spoke that God was being faithful, even when I couldn’t see it. And there were also these times where she would come and she would grab my hand and out of her pocket, she would pull a $5 gift card. And she would say, I know my son is really tough. Um, keeping his youth pastor here’s $5 to Starbucks.
And she was right. Um, he was a difficult child. Um, Virginia is living totally free now in the presence of her savior Jesus, after a long battle with cancer. And she came back around before the end, she had moved out to Arizona and had come back to visit with people in the area. And before she passed, she handed out these to people.
This is actually pastor Jared’s Baton. She handed a Baton to people and said, keep going. The mission of God is not over. It continues on the inside. There’s a letter that she signed as she does all of the cards that she ever signed to me through the years. And probably many of you in this room via Jesus.
This is from Jesus. This is your home. Her work continues through many of you today. And some of you probably received one of these buttons from Virginia out in the lobby, but specifically that work continues through that really tough son. Paskel Paskel and Taylor live here in south Jersey. They moved from, uh, from Arizona out to here, and they are doing an incredible work of God here in south Jersey.
And we’re going to take the last four and a half, five minutes, because I want you to hear the work that God’s doing in Pascoe and Taylor. So Pascoe
Good morning. Yeah, I was trying to think, are there any analogies or anything I could say to express how difficult of a child I was in this building, but I don’t think mark would like me to tell most of them. So I’ll just leave it at Mike was right. And God, uh, did an incredible work. Many of you might sit there and think, wow, what a legacy.
Um, he’s continuing of his mom’s, but if my mom were here today, she would shout out from the S from the pews. You’re continuing God’s legacy, not mine. Um, so it’s just a wonderful thing to be able to do ministry. Um, and a lot of people will ask, why would you move to higher taxes and worse weather and potholes all over, or really God put a calling on my wife and I’s heart for us to move back to New Jersey for her for the first time ever.
She’d only visited once. And a lot of people visit once and think, man, not going back there, but. My wife visited once it said, this is where God’s calling us. We had been praying about going into ministry missions. Full-time we were in ministry in Arizona and we felt really called to work with youth in south Jersey, specifically Burlington and Camden county, which is exactly what God called us to do.
And how’s this doing now? So it’s an amazing thing that this is what happened. So the last thing I want to share with you about our calling before I get into what we do is, um, I don’t know if you know this, but amongst gen Z, from all the statistics that I can see, and this is why we feel called to New Jersey.
New Jersey is by far the lowest state amongst evangelical Christians with gen Z students. So right now, more so than ever before in the history of our nation is our state have the lowest number of Christian high school students. That’s why God called us here. And that’s exactly what we get to do with FCA.
One thing I want to read real quick, it’s actually from acts. And so it’s ironic that you guys are on ax. And this is my verse is acts one eight, but you will receive power when the holy spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth, what God called me and my wife back to my Jerusalem to do ministry.
And here’s what we do. So here’s a picture of me and my wife. There she is. Um, and we’ll be at a booth out there, so you’ll get to meet her. But with FCA, what we do is we work in the schools to bring the gospel into the schools and you might be sitting there thinking, how is that even possible? Well, God moves in miraculous ways and God moves to, and through the high school student to, and through the athlete, to, and through the coach, we find ways to get the gospel into schools all over.
And here’s a list of some of the schools we are currently have the gospel. Right in your back yard, we have Seneca Shawnee Cherokee. Moorsetown Riverside, uh, is brand new this year. We were able to get it off the ground, cherry hill, east, west Kings Christian school. Christian schools need Jesus as well, um, RV and let it be, I say that proudly as a King’s alum.
So, um, yeah, and all of these schools might be right in your backyard. Backyard. These schools, you might even be a teacher at a, you might be a high school student there, and if you are, please come see me. Um, but what we do is we start these things called huddles, which are small groups for kids to meet at.
And what I like to describe to non-Christians as a safe place to fellowship and grow deeper in the word for kids to support each other. It’s a hundred percent student led. Of course, I go in and I mentor a lot of these students, but it’s a hundred percent student led. And so for the most part, the students are leading each other.
And in all these schools, the students are going through what we call a huddle, but it’s, it’s basically like a Bible study, um, where kids in the school get to do this. And so we’ve seen such tremendous growth. And before I get into that growth, cause I know I’m going to run out of time quick. Here’s some of the schools we want to be in.
We are want to be in all public high schools in Burlington county. We want to be in private schools like don’t holy cross, Bishop Eustace, and as many middle schools as we can possibly fit. I know that’s big because when you think about it, I think there’s 21 public high schools in Burlington county. And you think.
How are they going to get in there? Riverside’s never had a Christian club in the history of their school that I’ve been able to see. Um, and it got started there. So God moves awesome ways in these schools. So keep moving real quick. Um, picture Cherokee. We’ve seen really awesome growth back from COVID.
Um, and then we have Kings Christian school. They have a boys huddle, a girls huddle, and a middle school huddle. And it’s been awesome to see, we do events like worship nights and things like that, where we see lots of kids come to Christ at this worship night alone. I think we had like 20 kids come to Christ, which is just a blessing, um, from all over.
And then these are the most important pictures here. This is the lobby, but these are 25 high school students, um, that are being trained in leadership. And then directly because of these leadership trainings, we see kids come to Christ because these kids are now. They’re going out and beating the disciples.
They’re sharing the gospel, they’re doing the evangelism, they’re doing the discipleship. And so some of these schools, here’s another one. Um, like this last picture we’ll end with is west Cheerio. West four weeks ago, had two students in their huddle. And now directly due to this training that God allows these kids’ hearts to move.
They had this many this last week, and I think it was 1213 in that picture, but they’re averaging 15 a week now. So these trainings, you might not think 15 kids is a lot. Trust me in a school like cherry hill west. That’s a lot of kids getting out to a Bible club on a week to week basis. So we are blessed.
God is moving and yeah, I’d love for you to learn more about our mission, to change the hearts and minds of people in south Jersey, one student at a time. So we have a lunch at next Sunday. If you want to learn even more about FCA, I’d love to tell you more. Um, we have a sign up sheet in the back, uh, at our table.
My wife will be out there. So if you beat me out there, my wife’s there. You can sign up and we have some desserts for you, some little snacks, and that’s everything I have for you. So thank you so much for me to come up and speak.
Hey, we’re gonna, we’re gonna close our service just in prayer. Would you stand with us as we pray?
God, we, we love you. And as we take steps in the spirit to trust what your spirit is doing, open our eyes to see what we can not see. Show us God, um, ways that you will knock down barriers in the name of Christ in these high schools and middle schools and in hearts and lives in this room. Even God, we thank you that you are sovereign over all things and that you guide us to trust you as the church.
We love you and pray these things in your name. Amen. You are