Friday, September 28, 2007

Some exciting things going on at church...

I'm a preacher and my life revolves around church. More importantly, my life revolves around helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. With that in mind the church I preach at has been real exciting. God is really blessing us in a great way!

At each staff meeting and elders meeting I ask, and it's getting to be an old question (even for me), "Where have you seen people growing in the Lord the past couple weeks?" Each time I ask that people start thinking about what they have seen at Celebration and each time they have seen people grow in the Lord. Neat stories are told about how you are growing in the Lord. The worship has become more lively. A message helped someone gain a new insight on God. A child took a leap in their faith. A teenager chose the things of God over many other choices that are out there. It really is exciting to see the growth.

I never want us to loose focus on this. Our goal is to see people grow in the Lord! We want to celebrate that! This is what God celebrates!

In the coming weeks you are going to here about the formation of the Home Team at our church. This is a research team that will begin looking for a home for Celebration. We really need one. Our equipment is beginning to show the wear and tear of lugging it around. Our volunteers, though faithful (praise God for them!) could use the break! Plus, having a central place for our activities would make us more productive.

Several of us went to Lowes this past Sunday and simoly prayed God to give us the resources and the ability to have this property. I want you to pray with us. We want God to work in all of this. We want to dream so big that if God isn't in it it will not work. We want to glorify his name!

My point is this. In all the talk about a building, land, money, I don't want us to lose focus on our real goal, seeing people grow in the Lord. That's what it is all about. The land, money, and building will fade away. People don't. We must focus on them!

Have yourself Committed!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Michael Vick Found Jesus

Micahael Vick, a few weeks ago, had a press conference after his plea agreement and in the midst of his comments he said, "I've found Jesus." I found his thoughts very interesting.

First of all, he didn't have to look far! It's interesting that when we get caught up in sin we think of God as being far off. We think God has left us becasue we're not worthy anymore. This is a myth. The truth is God is already there right beside you when you sin. He's just waiting for a contrite heart; an honest heart.

If there is anything we should learn from Christmas is that Jesus left heaven to come down to be with us. What does this tell us about Jesus' character? It tells us that we do not need to walk far to get to God, we need only to look beside us and he's right there. I think that phrase, "I found Jesus," is interesting becasue Jesus has already found you! That phrase is kind of like playing hide and seek in reverse, the hider doesn't find the seeker!

One can be skeptical of Michael Vick's confession but I'm going to choose to believe Him. I will say this though. The fruit of his life will tell us if he has found Jesus (or Jesus found him). This is how we will know if Michael is truly following Jesus. For a disciple of Jesus bears uinique marks and behaviors. Like we've talked about at church lately; a disciple of Christ will be passionate in obedience to him, connected to a church family, and seek to be influential for the cause of Christ in the world around him. I'm not close enough to Michael Vick to know if he is bearing fruit in his life, but I am rooting for him.

I wouldn't mind playing football with him in heaven. (But I have to admit, if I was on his team, I'd wish I was on Peyton Manning's team. After all, I grew up a Colts fan!)

Have Yourself Committed!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Connected in the Family

In the message that I gave this past Sunday we saw Paul using the metaphor of the body to describe how the church should function together.

In this blog I wanted to highlight another metaphor Paul uses to describe the church, the family.

Here are a couple scriptures to make this point:

Romans 8:15, "So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family —calling him "Father, dear Father."

Ephesians 1:5, "His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure."

The problem is in our culture the family has been attacked and split into many shards. The common statistic is 50% of all marriages end up in divorce. That doesn't include all the marriages that stick it out but are in horrible shape. You can look into the media and it seems the the people in the news are the ones who are living thier in the absence of family. In all honesty, we see thier lives with fascinating horror. Britney, Linsey, et. al. are a glimpse of what life is like without concrete family values. Life is a mess.

I don't have to tell you that. You know that from your own experience. Many of you have had hard times with your father and the conception that your heavenly father unconditionally loves you is hard to accept. The reactions we make in countering our bad family experiences often times have their own problems. For example a person might say: I was forced to do this as a child so we go to the other extreme to absolutely avoid it. This too has it's own problems.

Many of us have had tough experiences with family.

Then we come to church and we stress that we are like to be one big happy family! How? With the family break down our country has suffered, how can the church be a big happy family? What model should we use?

I don't have all the answers to that but I do know where to begin. Paul writes in Romans that we are to accept one another as Christ has accepted you. When Christ accepts you he takes you "as is." And let me tell you something, your "as is" is not accpetable to God's standards. He accepts you faults and all. He accepted you even when you were unacceptable. That's called grace!

We are to take that grace, that acceptance, and give it to others. That's one of the key components of a healthy family. You're accepted not because of what you have done, or where you came from, or from a lack of doing anything. You are accepted because you are family.

This can be hard to do, especially when someone irritates us, does something to hurt us, or just gets on our nerves. The truth is it's not about us. It's about demonstrating God's acceptance to all people, especially our church family.

Like the old song says, "We are family. I've got all my sisters and brothers with me!"

Have Yourself Committed!


Thursday, September 6, 2007

How can I know God is in my life?

According to the Apostle John that question is easy to answer. The answer is when we obey him. Obedience is a word that has fallen out of practice today. Most people don't like to obey. For many it is a humiliating word. A belittling word. It is a word where we feel controlled by somone else. It is a word that makes us feel out of control.

The Bible though has a different view on this word obedience and the difference is night and day. In our culture obedience is about restriction. In the Bible it's about freedom. In our culture obedience is about non-expression of our personality. In the Bible it's where we find the center of our personality. In our culture obedience is for dogs. In the Bible it is for the sons and daughters of the King. There is this huge gap between our cultures understanding and the Bible's understanding of obedience.

According to the Apostle John it is through obedience that we know God. I find this revolutionary. I am a book lover and I go to the Christian book stores and they are filled wih books about 7 principles to happiness, 8 steps to peace, and the like. I'm not disowning these books becasue they do have value.

But... (Don't you love that word)... if knowing God is our complete pleasure (after all we can't wait to get to heaven, right?) and if obeying God helps us know him then it stands to reason that peace and happiness and all those things we long for comes through an obedience to God.

John has a pretty simple plan to finding happiness... obey God to know the joy and peace of God. This is the pathway to true peace and joy.

Another thought on obedience. They way you live your life has greater impact on how you obey God than some thoughts on God written in a blog. The culture you live and breathe in often dictates the behavior you engage in. For example, at a basketball game you cheer, at church you pray, yet both are large gatherings of people. What's the difference? The environment you are in dictates your behavior.

Sometimes we are in environments that we cannot change and others we can. In the environments where you can't make a difference you have to determine your sphere of inluence and then decide how your behavior can dictate the environment you are in. Of course this must be done in a Christ like manner. Think about that gap in our culture's understanding of obedience and the Bible's understanding. You stand in the gap.

That's a few words on a deep thought. I just thought of it a couple days ago and have been meditating on it. Tell me what you think about obedience and it's power to free you and not bind you.

Have yourself committed!