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It’s striking that one important preparation for being a compelling witness to the world is gratitude. In Philippians 2, Paul connects putting away our grumbling with becoming a compelling, shining light of the Gospel to the world. Christians are contented people who joyfully thank God in all circumstances and, because of this, present a striking contrast against the landscape of a grumbling world.

A few weeks ago, in my sermon on Ephesians 5:1-2, I spent a little time talking about culture – specifically how Dutch West Michigan culture is defined by lots of good things – like family and apple pie, but also by some not-so-good-things, like a lack of humility and love. Cultures come with blind spots because we assume that “the-way-we-do-life” is normative and biblical. (The blinding power of culture is clearly seen historically, for instance, in the church’s complicity with slavery and, later, the Jim Crowe laws.) So my question is this: in what ways might our West Michigan, predominantly Dutch, middle-to-upper class, Reformed, married, white culture impact our ministry? In what ways might our “West Michigan culture” hinder a truly “gospel culture”?

In case you missed it, this previous Sunday we hosted four different outreach ministries during our Sunday School presentation. The vision driving this is simple -- a desire to connect Harvest members to outreach efforts that are already happening in our community and beyond. Paul explains to the Ephesians in chapter 4, verses 5-6, that there is only one Lord, and this one Lord has gifted and called Word ministers to equip saints for a variety of different forms of ministry. You can view the recording below to see the different ways you can support and get connected with Harvest brothers and sisters who are already engaged in different important areas of outreach.

The work of making disciples of Jesus is not easy. Sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are not Christian is hard for many reasons. We aren’t sure what to say, how to say it, or when to say it. We are afraid of what speaking up will do to relationships we care about. The world despises what we have to say and Satan will do all that he can to thwart and discourage speaking of Christ with others. Sometimes we’re lazy, often we’re distracted, and, at the end of the day, we must admit that at times our love for God and others is too weak.