Friday, October 23, 2009

Clean Up Time!

"In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some are for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work." 2 Timothy 2:20-21

The Apostle Paul gives a parallel of our lives being like a house. There are things in a house that are useful and things in our house that are just junk. Everybody has a junk drawer. For a while in my house we had a junk room (my office). Often times this is what our garages become, just place to store extra junk. (At least that happened to me when we had a garage) The time comes when we must do some serious cleaning to make room for more desirable objects. I am always amazed by how much relief I feel when I clean out an old closet, and how little time it actually takes. That brings me to the question, "Why do I avoid cleaning out a closet like the plague." I think that my most common thought is, "There might be stuff in there that I need to use in the future." When it comes to our spiritual life, when we do "clean up" God will fill up the space with that which is more desirable. He will give me new vision, fresh power from His Spirit and His resources in ways that I wasn't previously experiencing. This requires some work on my part. Not in a legalistic religious way, but in a response of obedience to His command. What in my life today needs to be removed to make room for what God wants to do tomorrow? What junk do I need to put in a trash bag and take to the curb? I love Paul's phrase, we will become useful to the Master, "prepared to do any good work!" May I be found prepared to do any good work. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marriage Redefined begins Sunday!

I can hardly wait to kick off our Marriage Redefined series this Sunday. I am so amazed at how difficult marriage can be at times. The bible has so much to say about making relationships work and how marriage can actually bring joy to our lives! I really want to encourage to be there this Sunday and to make sure you bring a friend for this very important series of messages! Here are some of the subjects we will cover- 

October 25- How Do We Deal With Money Issues? 
November 1- Can Communication Be Fulfilling? 
November 8- Where Did the Romance and Intimacy Go? 
November 15- Does Marriage Have to Limit My Life? 
November 22- What Does God Think About Marriage? 

I hope you will join us this Sunday!! 

Faithful to the end!

Hebrews 11:13
"All these people were still living by faith when they died." 

Wow! What a statement. On the day of their death these people were living with all out passion and fire for Jesus! Why do so few people finish the race strong? It seems like I hear of so many people who have passion for Christ at one point in the journey, but lose their passion the longer they are a Christian. Why is that? It seems like the more we know God the more we should be consumed with Him! When you meet someone who finishes strong, they are the shining star, the exception to the norm. I was challenged by this thought, "what must I do today to live for Jesus tomorrow?" Are the choices I'm making today leading me towards a life that finishes well? May God give us the grace to build a strong foundation that leads to a life of lasting impact! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reflections On Sunday

On Sunday we continued part 3 of our Questions for God series asking the question, "Why all the pain in suffering?" In my opinion this is one of the most difficult questions to deal with because it is very philosophically complex and very personal for so many people. The question often isn't "why is there so much pain and suffering in the world?" but "why did my father die when i was only 10?" or "why does my 5 year old child have leukemia?" It would be so much easier to address this question with people I don't know, but sharing with our church on Sunday was very difficult! So, I just confessed from the front end that I still wrestle with this question and that a total solution really is beyond human understanding! My goal with this past week's message was merely to provide some level of clarity and some hope to those dealing with pain and hardship currently. 

Here are a couple of the highlights: 
* Pain and suffering in our lives ultimately flows back to waywardness and folly. This would include the poor choices we've made, others have made, or that Adam and Eve made in the book of Genesis.  His creation at the beginning did not include evil, but allowed for evil based upon the freedom he gave humanity to choose Him! Ultimately, all hardship stems back to the fall. I talked about how it is easier for me to understand how my choices cause pain in my life, but it is more difficult to grasp how God would allow others choices and Adam and Eve's choices to have such consequences. Yet, if I am honest, if were back in the garden of Eden I would have chosen the forbidden fruit just as they did! 
* Secondly, in my suffering I see my need for a savior or my need for help. For example, I have really neglected my dental hygiene over the last 5-6 years. It wasn't until two of my teeth caused unbearable pain that I chose to go see the dentist. Our pain drives us to our knees and ultimately causes us to cry out for help outside of ourselves. We often fight the tendency to self medicate this pain... with relationships, with jobs, with school, with hobbies, with money, and of course with chemical addictions. In the end the "numbing" of the pain doesn't cause the pain to go away. 
* Finally, it is only in looking to the cross of Christ that I am able to find healing, comfort and hope in my pain and suffering. It is in realizing that he who never committed any wrong, never went wayward, never had an evil thought stepped into an evil world and ultimately would bear my sins on the cross so that I can find healing and comfort in my suffering! What a wonderful comfort. Most of you who are parents can remember some time when you saw your child in pain, the natural instinct is to think, "If I could just trade places with them." That is what God did, he traded places and entered into the worst form of suffering in order that we might find comfort and hope. The truth is, God cares so much more about your soul than your body. If you and I surrender to him for his help we will one day spend eternity with Him, where there will be, "no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow." And ultimately we will experience an eternity of pain free living. WOW! 

This was by far the most difficult subject I've ever addressed in teaching. In the end, when it comes to pain or suffering I don't know why God chooses some to suffer more than others. It is beyond my human understanding... Yet, I know that by His grace I will choose to place trust in Him today. 

In addition to the message: 
* We had our highest attendance (aside from easter) with 236 people from our community in attendance! It so great to see a ton of people who are inviting their friends and family to join them. 
* Our volunteers amaze me every week from the street with our parking lot gang all the way to our ushers inside who help people find seats. The band did and incredible job leading in worship this Sunday. it was all around one of the best worship services we've had to date. 
* We had a Family Fun Festival immediately following the worship service. A team of 8 people from Johnson Ferry Church in GA came and served. They knocked it out of the park inviting people from the community, setting up the event and taking down. They enabled our staff and key volunteers to interact with people from the community who came to the event. We had over 200 people who participated, many of them never had been to our church before. Great job team! Praise God. 
* We had another person decide to follow Christ for the first time this Sunday. Just about every week we are having people decide to give their lives to Christ! What a huge blessing this is! 

We are building tremendous momentum this fall. I am so thankful to God for all that He is doing in our midst. I am thankful to our team for their commitment, their prayers and their hard work. There is no way we would be where we are today if it were not for the people who sacrifice their time, money and energy to see this vision go! Thank you for giving, thank you for praying, thank you for serving. Together we are impacting our community and our region with God's love!