dads playing bball 2

My Dad and I share a birthday — same day (different year).  Because of this, I don’t remember many birthday celebrations for dear old dad growing up.  Let’s face it, kid’s birthdays are a bigger deal than adults.  After all, when was the last time you saw an adult have a “Star Wars” birthday cake and a party at Skate Land?  Birthday parties for kids are big currency.  The ultimate threat as a child is “I’m not going to invite you to my birthday party.”  Adults don’t esteem their birthdays in so lofty terms.

Despite remembering our big day mostly for MY parties in my growing up years, there was one notable exception.  I was getting ready to turn 7 . . . but my dad was turning 40!  This is a big day.  Having recently had “Super Day XL” myself, I now understand more of the emotion of that milestone than I  did in 1980.  With my Dad’s big day approaching, a surprise party was planned.  Two of my dad’s brothers were driving up from Texas, my aunt driving over from Grand Lake, and various other family and friends were rallying at the house to adorn my Dad with love, affection, black balloons, and a cake decorated with a tombstone . . . all marking his journey “over the hill.”

As a 7 year old boy, I was kept out of the planning loop for several weeks in advance of the party (for good reason).  If I had known early, I would certainly have blown the surprise.  News that good is hard to keep a lid on.  But the day before the party, I was over at my uncle’s house and learned of the plans for the big day.  I was beside myself with excitement.  Somehow a combination of threats and duct tape kept me from spilling the beans for the last 24 hours leading up to the party (I’m only kidding, don’t call DHS).  However as the day of the party wore on, I found myself sitting in the front yard looking down the street for the guests to arrive.  After several hours I saw a car with Texas plates headed down our street.  My uncles had arrived!  I ran inside and shouted out “Guess who’s here!  Uncle Frank and C.B.!”  It is so fun to have good news to share.  The surprise was over and the celebration could begin.

I was thinking about my dad’s 40th birthday earlier today as I reflected upon Romans 10:14-17.  In Romans 10:9, the Apostle Paul famously described the terms necessary for salvation as he said, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  The fact that there is a way for sinful humanity to be reconciled to their Heavenly Father is GOOD NEWS . . . news so good that it is unconceivable that people who have heard this news would keep it to themselves.  Why keep secret news so exciting . . . news so fun to share?  Yet for some reason, many Christians act as though we have duct tape over our mouths preventing us from sharing this awesome news.

In Romans 10:14-17 Paul describes the process by which a dying world is given an opportunity to trust Christ and experience salvation.  In these verses, Paul says:

“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? 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!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

The process of evangelism (spreading the Good News about Jesus) is described in this order:

  1. We must have Good News to share.
  2. We must be sent to go share that Good News.
  3. We must proclaim that Good News to those who need to hear it.
  4. Those who hear it must believe it.
  5. Those who believe it will call on the name of Jesus to be saved.

This five part process has:

  • Things that have already happened: Good News (1 Corinthians 15:1-19), Being sent to share the Good News (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Things that we are responsible for:  Proclaiming the Good News to those who need to hear (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
  • Things that those who hear must do:  Believe (Ephesians 2:8-9) and Call on the name of Jesus to be saved (John 14:6)

There is a great party that has been planned to celebrate God’s reconciliation with His people.  If you know Jesus then you are going to this party, but in the mean time, God wants us to know that this party is not intended to be a surprise.  We are not to keep this message to ourselves, but to understand our calling to share the Good News with a lost and dying world.

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, I will be wrapping up our three part “Kickoff” series by looking at what it means to connect to the Mission of Jesus Christ.  We hope you join us as we look more in depth at the truth of Romans 10:14-17 in our worship services on Sunday, August 31.  hope to see you there!

Kickoff Worship.028

One thought on “Surprise Party?

  1. Thank you Mark, for this mini-sermon! It was so encouraging
    to read this…especially as someone who is homebound and
    not able to come to church on Sunday mornings. God bless
    you and yours!
    Sincerely,
    Mary Ellen Burleson

    Sent from Mary Ellen Burleson

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