Seamark Missions Trip Summary

Humbly Serving Seamark Ranch

By God’s grace, a team of 21 Green Pond and Highland’s youth and adults went down to the Jacksonville, FL area this past week to help serve Seamark Ranch. Our goal for the week was to follow the call found in Phil 2:1-11 to humbly serve others so they could see and know Christ’s humble service on the cross for them. Although it was hot and days were long, each job we were tasked to do was completed with a humble spirit and with a joy to serve.

Though our work was mostly physical work (i.e. weeding, cactus removing, fence building, duck and rabbit cage removing and remodeling, and more weeding) we saw good spiritual fruit in the lives of those we were serving and in our own lives as well. One of the highlights of the trip was Wednesday evening, our second to last evening there, where we gathered our team with the boy’s home and girl’s home families to share a meal, play football, and then worship and hear from God’s Word together. We had over 35 people singing worship to God and hearing from His Word!

We were blessed to spend time with the kids there and humbly share our hearts and lives with them for Christ’s sake. We had many great conversations with the Seamark kids, who are open to the gospel and their personal fears and doubts.  We made many efforts to show and explain to them the love and gospel of Christ. Please join us in praying for them–that even though we have physically left Seamark, the Holy Spirit would continue the work of salvation in their hearts and homes and that God would be using our example as an arrow pointing back to Him and His humble, sacrificial love for them.

Seamark Group Photo

No Guilt in Life

In the past few weeks, we discovered that once we put our faith in Christ, not only are we free from the burden of sin, but we now have the tools to deal with ongoing sin. But what about the guilt that results from those times when we still mess up? Or for things we’ve done in the past?

Growing up Roman Catholic, I was taught that we should feel guilty about our past sins, so that we wouldn’t continue to commit them. And if we did, then that guilt would grow until we went to confession. But as believers, should we continue to feel guilty about past wrongdoings? And should we use this a catalyst for not continuing to sin?

It’s important to remember in all of this WHAT Christ accomplished on the Cross, and WHY He did it. Jesus didn’t just go to the cross to die for one particular sin, or some sins that were worse than others, but for our EVERY sin–past, present and future. When he was dying on the Cross, he literally said in John 19:30, “IT IS FINISHED,” meaning that death was defeated, and forgiveness is available; all we need to do is put our faith in him as Lord and Savior. Paul confirms this in Romans 8:1 when he says,

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

One death, at one time, by one Man, for our EVERY sin.

This even extends to someone on their death bed.  On a cross next to Jesus at Calvary was a criminal who we know little about.  He confirmed that he deserved his punishment, and never repented until he was about to die.  Upon doing so, he was assured of forgiveness when Jesus said to him in Luke 23:43,

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.

It is imperative that we leave the guilt of our past behind us.  Continuing to let it weigh you down is not only counterproductive in your walk with Christ, but can also take away from serving God. And as Jesus said in Luke 12:25, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

With today being Good Friday, it is important to remember not only Jesus’ sacrifice, but why he did it and what it means for us.  Leave the past where it belongs. Live for the future. Live for His Kingdom.

Guest Post by Tony Grater

Dealing with Ongoing Sin

As we discovered last week, once we put our faith and trust in Christ as our Savior, we are FREE from the burden of sin. However, that doesn’t mean we stop sinning. Sin is, and will continue to be, a problem in our lives no matter what. After all, we are still humans with a desire to sin, even though we are aware of the consequences. It’s like putting drugs in front of an addict, and telling that person not to use them. Chances are they’re going to, even though they know drugs are bad for them. Paul illustrates this point in Romans 7:15, stating,

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

It’s a double edged sword. We want to do good, we know what is good. But we also know what is bad, and sin kindles our desire to do bad.

In the time of the Old Testament, when people were subject to the law, they lived under a similar burden of basically just trying to follow rules. Rules that proved to be impossible. Once Christ came and fulfilled the law, they were set free to just concentrate on God’s love through the sacrifice of Jesus. Paul confirms this in Romans 7:6, saying,

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

So how do we as Christians deal with ongoing sin in our lives? In the mist of this double edged sword, Paul offers us hope in Romans 7:24-25 by saying,

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

We’ve already been forgiven for every sin, past and future. The key is to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives, to seek the Lord daily, and to honor him the best we can. Obviously, reading the Bible and praying daily is key, but so is recognizing the things in our lives that trigger particular sinful behavior and taking the proper steps to stay away from them. Trying as hard as you can to just “not mess up” is relying on yourself, not God. Only by remembering the freedom we have in God’s forgiveness, and by giving everything up to Him, can we have complete victory over our sin.

Guest Post by Tony Grater

Free from the Burden

As we are now 3 weeks away from Resurrection Sunday, I am reminded of the hope presented to us in the Gospel through Jesus Christ.  There’s no doubt man is inherently evil, and as history has proven, no matter how hard we try, we will fall into sin. I don’t just see this in the lives of non-believers who simply try to “be a good person”; I’ve seen it in the lives of many believers as well, including my own in the 10 years since I became a Christian. It is a constant battle, and one not to be taken lightly.  No one is immune to the pitfalls of sin.

The difference for a believer is we are consciously aware of this, and therefore in constant conflict with sin. It’s part of what being a Christian is all about. However, the trap we fall into is forgetting we are powerless over that sin apart from Christ. Instead of turning to Jesus when we fail, we try to “right the ship” ourselves by “doing better the next time.” And on days when the sin is abundant, it can seem hopeless. I’ve gone through this, and there have been times when I’ve even questioned my own salvation.

The burden of “trying to be a good person” is a trap that misrepresents the hope we have in Christ. Romans 6:6-7 says,

Our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Once we give our lives to Jesus, He takes our sin upon His shoulders, and everything we’ve ever done, and everything we ever will do is blotted out before God. He doesn’t see it. He sees Jesus, speaking on our behalf.  That curse word we’ve uttered when we we’re angry at a co-worker, the attitude we gave our spouse when they asked us to do something so simple, the lustful desires we’ve all struggled with— it’s ALL forgiven. It doesn’t give us free reign to willfully continue to sin, as Paul confirms in Romans 6:1-2 when he says,

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!

We’re not free TO sin, but we are free from the BURDEN of sin. Let’s keep this in mind as we approach Resurrection Day, and give whatever is burdening us up to Christ.

Guest Post by Tony Grater