(NOTE TO READERS: We are experiencing spiritual warfare. This post was about ready to publish when all text was unexplainably erased. We were unable to retrieve by accessing saved history but finally able to retrieve it using a back door. Sorry it’s late.)
Today we went to the Bursa Protestant Church. The service would be in Turkish. Ertunga offered to stay and translate for us. We really appreciated that and happy that he will hear the gospel. Every church should present the gospel every Sunday because you don’t know who is in the congregation and has not heard the good news.
The church had been built in the late 19th century as a French Catholic Church and then over the years was abandoned. It was restored by the city for cultural, social and worship purposes. This congregation has been meeting here for 2 years.
We met several English speakers; Jesse from Illinois (and he is a St. Louis Cardinal fan) who has been here for 4 years and Mark from South Carolina who has been here for 12 years.
Jesse said that it was great to find fellowship in Bursa. For the first 2 years, he and his family watched YouTube videos and did Bible studies, but it was very hard. Be thankful that you have the blessing of a congregation. None of us should take that for granted.
As I told Ertunga, Christians don’t have to go to church. We are free from religious rules. We WANT to go to church to encourage, pray and have fellowship with other believers.
Our gifts even if small when combined with others will multiply, and that money will be used to share with others. The pastor asked for a volunteer to pray about reaching others with the good news. A young man stood and prayed.
Next, he spoke that we are a church family and belong to the family of God and asked for someone to pray for our family. An older woman stood and prayed.
Music Psalm 116:1-2
The pastor directed the entire service.
He asked that no pictures be taken during the service as people were sensitive to that. He instructed us that we would be here for 1¼ hours following the service, we would share a meal.
We began worship by singing. Psalms 128.
Singing prepares our souls.
Rob and I have no problem singing with passion even though we don’t know what we are singing because we trust our brothers and sisters.
Here are titles of some of the songs.
Semi Beklerim, Dünya Dolsun, Kalbim Kavrulur Susuzluk ile, and Beni Al Kollarina.
The music is slow and in a minor key. Ertunga says that is understandable in Turkey.
A pianist, vocalist and guitarist led the songs. An older man went forward to the trio. He leaned down and replaced a piece of sheet music on the music stand. What a caring gesture! Occasionally, there was a random prayer after singing.
Sermon: Healthy Church
A church must be healthy which can be evidenced by the fruits that it produces such as love. We are all connected and guided by the Bible. In the Bible, God shows us the target.
We don’t divide. We are not alone. We don’t pray alone. The good news brings together all the pieces. We live to demonstrate God’s greatness.
Scripture Psalm 106
This is a long passage that David wrote about Israel. It is hard to have complete understanding of this time period.
The Israelites were running from their captivity. They were being pursued by the Egyptians. David was recalling that God helps them in times of trouble. He doesn’t just sit back and watch things unfold. He is with us in our troubles.
They chose to worship idols. The sun sees everything. So does the Son.
People are connected to Jesus. We can not reach Him unless we first see His Greatness.
There is only one God. Whoever sees Jesus sees God. The people did not understand His miracles, His love and His Salvation.
Humans can worship anything. Back then, it was a golden calf. We create idols today. An idol is anything that takes time away from God, the great I AM. Today it could be a cell phone.
When we forget God, we make idols.When we forget what Jesus did, we make idols. We are not so far away from the Bible story today.
What should healthy believers do?
Don’t forget what God has done for you! Jesus paid the debt of sin for us.
In John 10:11-18, Jesus said, “I AM the Good Shepherd.”
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
In John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” (Love God more than anything; Love others more than yourself.)
Jesus’ disciples are faithful and loyal and will bear fruit. The life of a disciple will have meaning. He doesn’t want to judge you, He wants to be with you.
The service ended with this scriptural benediction.
After the service, we looked at the free Christian books that were being offered in Turkish. There were multiple copies of the New Testament called Ingil.
I was amazed that they had the book in the Turkish language that was pivotal in cementing my belief in Jesus Christ: More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell. Is Jesus who he says He is? Is He the Lord or crazy or a liar? Ertunga remembered that I had told him about that book and took one to read.
One person said to me that in our lifetime, we must answer only one question. And depending on that answer, there is a second question.
First question: Who is Jesus?
Second question: What will you do with your answer to the first question?
My answer: 1) Jesus is my Savior, my Lord, my King and Lover of my Soul. 2) I will glorify and serve Him in all that I do. My “job” is to go and tell the Good News to as many people as possible.
Mark was at the table explaining to us in English about the Christian literature displayed here. He was an answer to prayer. I wanted Ertunga to hear the good news. Our days were growing short so I was praying that God would give me the opportunity. I thought that it would be me, but Mark gave the BEST succinct and concise explanation of the gospel. (I saw how God answered my prayer differently…and better…than I had envisioned. Sometimes we are like the Apostle Andrew who is known as the introducer.)
Here are some of the gospel points that was delivered:
We are enemies of God, but He loves us with unconditional love. Human love can’t even begin to imitate this type of love. Our love is conditional and merit based. I love you BECAUSE….or I love you IF…
But when our hearts of stone full of selfish desires are replaced with the Holy Spirit that lives within us, we can even begin to love our enemies and pray for them.
We might do good things, but man’s good isn’t good or holy enough. Our lives can only be viewed as being right before God through the sacrifice of the perfect and worthy lamb of God, Jesus.
The Trinity can be described like this: in order to speak, three things are needed: the brain to decide what is to be said (God), the breath and vocal cord to produce sound (Holy Spirit) and the mouth to articulate the words. (Jesus)
Jesus is known as the Word Made Flesh. John 1:14
Since we are enemies of God, we need an intercessor. Jesus took all the wrath that we all deserved. He paid our debt and our eternal souls will reside with Him in heaven for all eternity. We will enjoy Him forever! Now THAT’S Good News!