Posted by & filed under Church, Easter, Replant, Resurrection.

Recently I’ve came across a couple of quotes that have encouraged me:

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” Pope John Paul II

Then a friend, Mark Brown from FBC Jefferson City shared this quote from a sermon by Dr. Harold Bryson: “I think we leave Easter too soon. I just don’t think 24 hours is long enough to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.”

We are Easter people and we should celebrate the resurrection of Jesus every day. The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. As Paul writes, “If Christ is not risen from the dead… your faith is useless.” (I Cor 15:14) The resurrection is central to all that we believe, hope and live. We celebrate it; we sing great songs of hope about the resurrection – “Up from the grave He arose…”, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow…”, “Christ the Lord is risen today…” and many more. Easter is celebration of new life and incredible hope.

Sometimes, however, in our celebration we overlook something very important… the resurrection occurred because Jesus died. Without death there is no resurrection. In our celebration of Easter Sunday, we must be careful not skim over what led to the resurrection. Though we call it “Good Friday,” the Friday before Easter may have been the most hopeless day in all of history. Jesus hanging on a cross, being insulted by enemies, abandoned by (almost) all of His friends, family and followers, cries out, “It is finished!” and gives up His life. Certainly His disciples thought it was finished; they had given three years of their lives to following Jesus and in less than a 24 hour period, the Man they had put their trust in was tried, beaten and crucified, and they might be next. What now? They were undoubtedly filled with doubt, fear, confusion and hopelessness. That’s what the death of someone you love will do; it will rock your world and shake you all the way to core of your being… BUT without death, there can be no resurrection. Jesus had even told them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ” (John 12:24) If it dies, it bears much fruit, and God is glorified when we bear much fruit. (John 15:8)

Over the last year and a half we have been experiencing the death of our church. Numbers have dwindled as members have left; some have moved away, others have moved on because of conflict, strife, disagreement with direction, or loss of confidence in leadership. Finances have tanked and ministries have shrunk. Though there have been signs of hope (salvations and baptisms in the last few weeks), for the most part, the last year and a half has been one long “Good Friday.” For those of us hanging on, it has been hard to experience – death is hard, it is scary and causes doubt, fear and confusion. What now?

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Death may be hard and it may bring doubt, fear, and confusion, but it also brings the hope of resurrection. Without death there is no resurrection. We are Easter people – we believe in a God of the impossible who raises the dead. Our hope is in Him and hallelujah is our song.

In late summer of last year we began a journey of renewal, of moving toward a rebirth. Though we are still struggling with death and loss, we are also seeing signs of life. This coming Sunday will be a pivotal day in the death-to-life journey of our church. We will present a motion to replant our church, to start over, to be “born again” to use a biblical metaphor. Death is hard and painful, and birth is hard and painful too – there are a lot of uncertainties, doubts and questions. Those of you that have given birth know these things. Giving birth is often referred to as “going into labor,” but parents know that the real “labor” starts after the children are born. Things often get harder before they get better. New beginnings are just that – “beginnings;” this is not the end, but the chance for a new beginning; the starting line (or the re-starting line).

There is pain in death, and we’ve been experiencing it for the last year and a half. But there is also hope. Hope in the God of resurrection, the God of rebirth and new beginnings. Please join me in praying, as we approach our vote on Sunday, that the God of Easter resurrection will give us new life and renewed hope and redeem our pain and struggles for His glory.

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” Pope John Paul II

Hopefully,
George

Posted by & filed under Church, Community, Discipleship, Groups, Transition, Uncategorized.

On Sunday evening April 2, our Transition Team will present a proposal to change our Sunday morning schedule.

The recommendation is to move our worship to 9am and our Bible study groups to 10:15am. Why are we proposing this change?

Our church mission statement says that we are to Love God, Love Others, and Make Disciples. The last part of our statement is from the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20; the final words of Christ to His disciples before returning to heaven. Jesus had spent three years of His life making disciples of the twelve men He called to follow Him. While Jesus often preached to crowds, the majority of His earthly ministry was focused on those twelve guys. When Jesus’ ascended to heaven, He gave instructions to His followers to carry on the work that He had been doing – to go into all the world and make disciples. We are called to carry on that work today; we are called to make disciples.

Jesus’ model of disciple-making was to call people from the large group (congregation) to the small group (disciples) to follow Him. He focused on the small group rather than large gatherings. Like most churches we have focused primarily on the worship service, the large gathering. Unfortunately, studies show (and statistics prove) that large group gatherings are not an effective means of making disciples. In his book Growing Up, Dr. Robby Gallaty quotes Avery Willis, the long-time vice-president of the International Mission Board: “I really don’t think much discipling is done through preaching… You can impart information and emotion in preaching, but discipleship is more relational.” Discipleship happens in small groups rather than large gatherings.

The goal of this proposal is to provide a Discipleship Pathway to make it easier for people to move from the congregation to the community, to be more effective at making disciples. The worship service is typically the “front-door” to our church; most people make initial contact through attending a worship service. By offering worship first, our desire is to make it easier for people to take their next step and connect to a small group. There are several studies that show the importance of helping people get connected to a small goup (you can read an article from Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway, at the end of this post), but our ultimate reason for doing this is to be obedient to the Lord and be more effective at fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples.

Please prayerfully consider the following.

(Times are approximate)

  • 8:30-9:00am – Fellowship Time in the Fellowship Hall
  • 9:00-10:15am – Morning worship service
  • 10:15-10:30am – Dismiss to small groups (Sunday School/LIFE Groups)
  • 10:30am – 11:30am LIFE Groups/Sunday School

LIFE groups would vary in age range. We would still provide nursery and children’s classes, but above the children’s class, youth and adults would be free to choose what LIFE Group to belong to. This would enable our church to be more intergenerational, and families could choose to attend a LIFE Group together.

LIFE Groups could use traditional literature, but a study guide related to the morning sermon would also provided to the LIFE Group leaders during the prior week.

A “catch-all” group would meet in the Fellowship Hall for guests and visitors to help them connect to the church, with the ultimate goal of moving them into an existing LIFE Group.

Thom Rainer: 6 Benefits of Healthy Groups

Bible engagement. Healthy groups study the Word. LifeWay Research found that people who attend groups spend significantly more time reading and studying the Bible than those not in a group.

Evangelistic accountability. Healthy groups look for opportunities to both show and tell the gospel to both those in and outside the group. When we are dwelling in the Word and it is dwelling in us, we can’t help but tell others the good news of Christ.

Increased retention. In previous research, we found that people who attend groups were five times more likely to stay connected to the church than those who only attend the worship service. People typically stay in a church because of the relationships they develop with others. And these relational connections take place best in groups.

Enhanced discipleship. An hour-long worship service once a week is not sufficient time to disciple people. That’s not to say discipleship doesn’t take place in corporate worship or one-on-one with another believer. It does, but a group setting is needed, too. In a group, people are not only receiving biblical content, they also are experiencing biblical influence, which is an important part of discipleship. To see people grow in discipleship, they must be a part of a worship service, belong to a group, and be involved in ministry. Unless all three are happening, discipleship growth will be limited.

Better stewardship. According to LifeWay Research, giving is higher among those in groups than those who only attend worship services. Why? Because people give to things in which they are involved and believe in their purpose.

Multiplied ministry. Ministry to others becomes natural in the context of groups, rather than an assignment within the church. Group members tend to shepherd one another because they’ve come to know and love one another. So when a group member experiences a crisis, the rest of the group steps in to care for and minister to that person.

Churches with healthy, transformational groups will experience each of these benefits and so much more. I believe an intentional and committed groups strategy can be transformational for your church and community.

Posted by & filed under Church, Replant, Transition.

Hey Church                                                          December 5, 2016

On November 20th of this year we voted overwhelmingly to move in the direction of replanting Magna View, and elected Jimmy Hicks, Bernard Bull and Gabriel Reed as our Transition Team to lead us through this process. The transition team has six major responsibilities:

  1. Oversee day-to-day ministry of the church, working with the pastor, staff and current deacons to ensure that ministries are being maintained.
  2. Maintain clear communication with the church through regular family gatherings to update the church on the process of replanting.
  3. Work with the treasurer to develop a temporary operating budget to be presented to the church in December to keep the church in operation until reconstituting.
  4. Write new governing documents (Constitution and Bylaws) to reflect a new mission statement, new membership covenant, new leadership structure (membership role, pastor/elders, deacons), and other elements pertinent to the function of the church.
  5. Investigate the implications and procedures for changing the name of the church, to be presented to the church at a later time.
  6. At the appropriate time, lead the church in the process of replanting/reconstituting as a new church. There is no exact time frame for this transition to happen.

The Transition Team’s first priority is to develop an operating budget before the end of this year. They have been meeting weekly and working with our Treasurer to accomplish this task. We will give out a proposed budget for 2017 on Sunday, December 11th. And, keeping with our tradition, we will meet in a business meeting on Wednesday, December 14th at 6:30pm to discuss the proposed budget and make any necessary changes, and then Sunday, December 18th after the worship service, we will vote on the budget (without discussion).

2016 has been a difficult year financially for our church. Though our giving has been down, we have witnessed God’s faithfulness in meeting our needs and enabling us to reach out and minister to our community. Our Transition Team has prayerfully worked through the budget to make reductions to bring our proposed budget closer to our current giving levels. Developing a church budget is difficult “walk” between being good stewards of the resources that God has provided, and having faith that God will provide what we need to do the ministry to which He has called us in the year to come. Our Transition Team has done a good job of both.

The next step in the process of replanting is for the Transition Team to write our governing documents including membership expectations/covenant, mission statements, constitution and bylaws, and other items pertinent to the function of the church. As these documents are produced, they will be presented to the church for discussion and revision before being presented for approval. This will be a slow process, but it’s important that we get things right, not just get things done.

Thank you for your prayerful support for our Transition Team and the replanting process.

 

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Called Business Meeting

After 12 weeks of our Healthy Church Initiative, we have come to a time of making a proposal to initiate a process of change in our church. This Sunday, November 20th we will have a Called Business Meeting to consider the following motion:

Motion to move in the direction of Replanting the church by electing a Transition Team to:

a. Oversee day-to-day ministry of the church, working with the pastor, staff and current deacons to ensure that ministries are being maintained.
b. Maintain clear communication with the church through regular family gatherings to update the church on the process of replanting.
c. Work with the treasurer to develop a temporary operating budget to be presented to the church in December to keep the church in operation until reconstituting.
d. Write new governing documents (Constitution and Bylaws) to reflect a new mission statement, new membership covenant, new leadership structure (membership role, pastor/elders, deacons), and other elements pertinent to the function of the church.
e. Investigate the implications and procedures for changing the name of the church, to be presented to the church at a later time.
f. At the appropriate time, lead the church in the process of replanting/reconstituting as a new church. There is no exact time frame for this transition to happen.

The Transition Team will NOT have the authority to act in any of the following ways without current church approval:

1. Borrow money or incur debt.
2. Buy or sale any properties on behalf of the church.
3. Spend any monies beyond the approved budget
4. Hire or fire any staff members/positions
5. Change the name of the church.

The nominees for the Transition Team are: Jimmy Hicks, Bernard Bull and Gabriel Reed. Pastor Miller will serve as an ex-officio member of the Team.

 

A New Beginning – Replanting: A New Church In The Same Location
Areas of Change:

Membership – new membership of those who want to be here and are passionate about what God is doing in and through the church. Raising the expectations of membership through new members classes, clearly communicating the expectations and responsibilities of membership.
(Shut-in members will be automatically received into membership.) The role of membership will not change. The Bible teaches that, under the lordship of Jesus Christ, the members of the church are the final human authority on matters related to the church. The  membership is responsible for such things as carrying out the various ministries of the church, electing and supporting the leadership of the church, to approve the annual budget and other matters of business related to the church.

Leadership Structure – Shared leadership among pastors/elders who will be responsible for spiritual nourishment and guidance of the church. The pastors/elders team would potentially be made up of staff and lay leaders, and would serve as the leadership team of the church. The pastor elders would be responsible for helping the membership serve in the areas of their giftedness through various essential ministry teams. Pastor/Elders are not a “decision making” body, but are charged with spiritually leading the church to fulfill its ministries. Deacons would be servant-leaders of the church, assisting the pastor/elders and the membership to meet the physical needs of the membership including campus maintenance as well as benevolence ministry, and others.

Ministry Focus

Externally, focused on connecting with and reaching our immediate community for Christ, serving and meeting significant needs in the community. Always looking for ways to build relationships with people in the community. Also looking for, promoting and supporting mission opportunities that enable us to fulfill the Great Commission of going into all the world and making disciples.

Internally, helping people grow spiritually in their relationship with God and with one another; emphasis on being disciples who make disciples. Always helping people take their next step in a discipleship pathway: Congregation (Corporate worship) – Community (Bible Study & Small Groups) – Core (DGroups, Disciple-making groups, leadership training) – Reproducing disciples (leading others to be disciples who make disciples). Each person is at different stages in spiritual development and not everyone will move at the same pace, but the mission of the church should always be on reaching and discipling each person whom God connects with our church. Renewed focus on reaching and discipling the next generations

Ministry Structure – ministry structure will be streamlined, reducing the number of ministry positions and teams, but insuring we are structured for growth. Pastor/Elders team will be responsible for making sure ministry participants are equipped for service. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Budget – resources would be targeted toward disciple-making and outreach/missions ministries.

Name Change
While a change in name is not essential, it is an important part of the overall process of change. A new name reflects a new identity and a new direction. A new name can also provide the opportunity for new engagement with our community and a great potential to reach new people with the gospel. Because the issue of name change is very sensitive and controversial, the motion presented is a motion to have the Transition Team investigate the implications of changing the name to be brought before the church at a later time. We are not, at this time, voting to change the name of the church. I ask that we continue to pray about this matter, and at a future time, as other changes take place, to revisit the issue at a later time. The motion being made is simply giving authorization to the Transition Team to investigate the issue for practical and legal implications and bring it before the church at a later time.

Also note, we are not removing ourselves from our historic partnerships with the Nolachucky Baptist Association, The Tennessee Baptist Convention, or the Southern Baptist Convention. We will continue to be a baptist church.

The suggested name below comes from myself (Pastor George) out of an experience of transition in my life from a few years ago. The Lord has continued to impress this name upon my heart and has led me to share it with the congregation. It is a suggested name, but should the church vote at some point to change the name of the church, the membership would also select the name, whether Grace Point or another name. The word “Grace” also gives us an opportunity to reflect the values of our church.

Grace Point Baptist Church
Growing people in the grace of the Lord for the glory of the Lord.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.         2 Peter 3:18 (ESV)

The name of our church should reflect our values and who we are becoming in Christ.

A Church of G.R.A.C.E.
Gospel is proclaimed.
Relationships are built.
Accountability is practiced.
Christ is glorified in all we do.
Everyone is being discipled.

Thank you for prayerfully considering these changes.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Insightful Article!

Last week, Barbara Bull sent me part of an article that intrigued me. The portion I read seemed pertinent not only to our church but to “The Church” in general. I located the full article and wanted to share it with you. I thought it was very ‘spot-on” for the American church.

 

10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

 

I read recently that thousands of churches close their doors every year. Who knows how many others are on life support? We live in a time when churches need revitalization and renewal. The eternal destiny of people depend on the faithful witness of local churches.

As I think about churches dying, I’m reminded there are certain poisons that are causes of death. I call them poisons because they are deadly, but they are avoidable. The churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

Here are ten poisons that will kill any church.

Performance without participation

Like concerts, movies, and athletic events, much of our worship has become spectator-oriented. A handful of well-trained (perhaps paid) musicians perform for the masses. Too often, we enjoy entertainment without experiencing engagement.

Information without inspiration

With advancement in technology and a multitude of media sources, we are drowning in information. Clearly, this phenomenon has spilled over into the church. Sermons, conferences, seminars, and Bibles studies are good, but some have sat and soaked so long that they’ve soured.

Mirrors without windows

Too many churches stare at themselves in the mirror, primping and preparing for the home town fans. Instead, we should be peering out windows, looking for local needs and global opportunities.

Attachment without commitment

Those who used to attend two or three times a month are now coming once or twice. Most people I run across claim an affiliation with a congregation, yet too many lack affection for its mission. They want to be included on the roll without taking a role.

Ritual without spontaneity

When a young man was asked why he didn’t go to church, he replied, “I’ve been.” Church services are too often boring, irrelevant, and predictable. We speak a different language on Sunday than the rest of the week. We’re saying the same things, singing the same songs, and voicing the same prayers.

Prosperity without generosity

Most congregants are employed and making decent money, yet this good fortune isn’t spilling over into the offering plate. Tithers are dying and tippers are taking their place. “Donations are on course to drop by 70 percent within twenty-five to thirty years—due to the deaths of the most generous generations,” says John Dickerson in The Great Evangelical Recession.                       

Addition without reproduction

Much of what we call church growth is actually sheep swapping. We play musical pews, as Christians hop from church to church. Some churches may be adding to their membership, yet how many of these constitute a net gain for the Kingdom?

Birth without growth

It’s wonderful when the nursery is full of newborns, yet not so good when they make up a sizable portion of the congregation each Sunday. If your first grade child or grandchild made an A on a test of one-digit addition and subtraction problems, you’d beam with pride. However, would you feel the same way if your high school calculus student aced that same set of problems?

Membership without conversion

According to Christian author and researcher George Barna “half of all adults who attend Protestant churches on a typical Sunday morning are not Christian.” Having spent 14 years as an unsaved church member, I’m especially sensitive to this sad situation. A name on the church roll doesn’t forward to the Lamb’s book of life.

Duty without love

Too many 21st century congregations are modeling the first century church at Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7). Calendars are full but hearts are empty. Love for Jesus, fellow saints, and one another is growing cold in these later days (Matthew 24:12).

I wish I had simple solutions to these critical issues. It’ll take widespread revival to reverse these trends. In the meantime, while we pray for and anticipate such a move from God, we can strive to make sure the people we shepherd and churches we serve buck the trend.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Hey Church, good news!

Several weeks ago we revised our repair remodel project to break it down into smaller phases. Well, Phase 1 is complete! The corner of our education building has been raised and stabilized and the drainage on the corner has been repaired and improved. The drain going under the driveway has been replaced and the complete section around the corner has been concreted. This should prevent future damage to the building due to poor water drainage.

The two non-working HVAC units have been replaced on the sanctuary. We now have four working units for the first time in several years. There was a noticeable difference in the auditorium on Wednesday night.

Big thank you to David Hegel for overseeing these projects!

Our next phase will be to repair our sign and remodel the education building. This will include upgrading our electrical system, providing a new HVAC unit for the upstairs, new duct work, better insulating the upstairs ceiling, replacing ceiling tile and lights both upstairs and downstairs, enlarging one of the upstairs classrooms, painting, flooring and other needed improvements. The current estimate for this phase is $115,000.00. We are trusting the Lord to provide the money we need. We will do the project as the money comes in. You can give to our Building Fund by using the envelopes in the pew racks on Sunday or you can give online by clicking here and follow the instructions. Be sure to click on “Building Fund” in the drop-down box.

To God be the glory!

Posted by & filed under Church, Commitment, Discipleship, Relationships, Revitalization.

Healthy Church 2

 

Over the past few years, Dr. Randy Davis and the leadership of the Tennessee Baptist Convention (TBC) have researched the spiritual conditions in our state. Their studies show that more than 60% of all Tennesseans do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ (over 3.3 million people), and 35,000 Tennesseans die every year without Christ. Unless trends change in the next ten years, only 1 out of 10 members of Generation Z (those born after 1995) will come to know Christ as their Savior. Of more than 3,000 Tennessee Baptist Churches, 75-80% are plateaued or declining, with over 500 churches in danger of closing their doors for good in the next five years.

Those are sobering statistics which has led to changes in the TBC. In an effort to stem the tide of lostness in our state, in 2014 the TBC launched “The Five Objectives” :

  • OBJECTIVE 1 – Seeing at least 50,000 Tennesseans annually saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship by 2024
  • OBJECTIVE 2 – Having at least 500 Tennessee Baptist churches revitalized by 2024
  • OBJECTIVE 3 – Planting and strategically engaging at least 1,000 new churches by 2024
  • OBJECTIVE 4 – Realizing an increase in annual local church giving through the Cooperative Program that reaches at least 10 percent by 2024
  • OBJECTIVE 5 – Realizing an increase in annual giving for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions that reaches at least $3 million by 2024

You can read more about the Five Objectives here.

 

Objective #2 was of particular interest to me. Unfortunately, Magna View is among the 75-80% of churches that are plateaued or declining. Though we occasionally see growth, we also occasionally experience loss. Realizing our need for revitalization, and in an effort to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission and reach and disciple the people of our community and state, we will be among the first group of churches in Tennessee participating in a church revitalization process. Seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we will be entering a thirteen-week process of evaluating the condition of our church that will lead to changes that will enable us to become a healthier church. We will be discussing the marks of a healthy church and making necessary changes to see our church become a church that is “…healthy, growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16 NLT).

Please join us Wednesday night, August 17th, as I will be outlining the Healthy Church Initiative. And then, beginning Sunday, August 28th we’ll be meeting on Sunday nights as we pray, seek the Lord, discuss conditions and changes that we will need make to become a healthier church. Each Sunday night we will meet in the Fellowship Hall and enjoy a time of food and fellowship along with our discussions. Every member and attender who has an interest in our church and in what the Lord is doing among us is welcome to come and participate with us in this process.

I look forward with excitement to what the Lord is going to do in His body of believers in the coming days.

In Christ,

George Miller

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:11-12 (NLT)

Hey Church,

It is HOT! Have you noticed? Local and national weather people keep referring to a “heat dome” that is covering the United States. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is saying that 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record. WHEW! (It could be worse though – check out this weather forecast from a couple of years ago).

I’m not a hot-weather guy, (maybe because I have so much “natural” insulation). When the heat goes up my energy level drops and I tend to get lazy, watch too much TV and put off till tomorrow (or next week) things that needed to be done yesterday.

I’ve also noticed a correlation with my spiritual life – when I’m lazy physically, I often become lazy spiritually. Spending time with God and serving Him get “put off” or neglected, and my relationship with Him suffers. Someone, years ago, called it the “Summer Swoon.” Truthfully, it can happen anytime of the year, especially busy seasons and around the holidays, so we constantly need to be aware of the drain on our spiritual lives. Paul gives some great instruction and encouragement in Romans 12 –

1. Always keep a check on your spiritual “feelings” – Paul says, “never be lazy but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Being lazy is as much of an attitude as it is an action. We’re usually lazy because we don’t “feel like” being active. Feelings are real, but they should not be the driving force of our lives. Think about this, if you only worked when you felt like it, how much work would you get done? Likewise, if you only spend time with God and served the Lord when you feel like it, you’re probably not going to have much quality time with Him. You can control your feelings (attitude) instead of letting your feelings control you. Paul says serve the Lord “enthusiastically.” The word enthusiasm means “to be inspired or possessed of God (Theos).” Serve the Lord like a person possessed of God (the Holy Spirit) and your “feelings” will change.

2. Stay joyful, hopeful and patient – “Rejoice in our confident hope. be patient in trouble…” Paul writes this, not as a suggestion to ponder, but as an action to live out Choose to rejoice, to be joyful regardless of the weather or the circumstances you find yourself in. God has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to “rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 3:1, 4:4, James 1:2, etc.). And the foundation of our ability to do this is “our confident hope” – Jesus Christ. Keeping our focus on Him empowers us to be joyful, hopeful and patient in the hot days of life.

3. Keep on praying – This one is self-explanatory, keep the lines of communication open with the Lord. He is the “bread of life” that nourishes our souls and energizes our spirits. Keep in regular contact with Him. Corrie ten Boom was a Holocaust survivor. She and her family were Christians who helped Jews escape the Nazis until they were reported. She and her family were sent to Nazi concentration camps where they endured horrible conditions and treatment. In her adult life Corrie wrote several books about her experiences and offered encouragement to those going through suffering. One of her famous quotes from her writings offers great instruction: “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” Even in a concentration camp, Corrie kept her daily appointment with the Lord, and He sustained her.

I don’t think Summertime is anything like a concentration camp, so I don’t think there is any reason to neglect time with God and opportunities to serve Him just because it is hot. We can avoid the Summer Swoon!

Posted by & filed under Community, Family, Lord's Supper, Spiritual Warfare.

Shark-Week

 

Shark Week is an annual, week-long TV event on the Discovery Channel. Since 1988 various shark-centered programs are produced and played in late July or early August, causing Shark Week to become the longest-running cable television programming event in history. Thankfully Shark Week came on TV the week after we came back from SuperWow beach camp.  (I like the beach, but I don’t swim in the ocean. I’m still scarred from the “Jaws” movie of the 1970’s).

Most of the programming is about scientific studies of sharks, but a couple of the shows focus on shark attacks on humans. In several places around the world, shark attacks on humans are on the increase. As I cringingly watch the different stories, one common characteristic among the various stories was clear – no one expected to be attacked by a shark. Some of the people were on kayaks, some were on surf boards, and some were in shallow water, but in every case the attack came quickly and unexpectedly. (Personally, I think if you’re in the ocean, you should be expecting a shark attack… see reference to “Jaws” above.)

I’m also working on my sermon for Sunday which happens to be on preparing for spiritual warfare by putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-32). I’ve been studying passages about our adversary, Satan, and how he is roaming about like a “roaring lion” (or a Great White Shark) looking for people to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He attacks, suddenly, quickly, and fiercely and many of us followers of Christ are caught off guard by the attack. We didn’t see it coming, and it can be devastating.

The language of the Bible is clear that the enemy is real and that his attacks are real, therefore we need to always be on our guard and prepared for battle. This coming Sunday morning we will walk through the “Armor of God” listed in Ephesians 6 and talk about what it means to fight the good fight of faith. We will also celebrate the Lord’s Supper to remind us, 1) that we don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory because Christ has already defeated our enemy through His death on the cross and His resurrection. And 2) that we don’t fight alone; we fight as the army of God. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic meal shared by the people of God to remind us that we are in this war together. As Pastor Mark Driscoll states – “It takes an army to win a war.” I hope you will join us and invite someone to join you.



 

 

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Praying for Our Family and Friends

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Romans 10:1 (ESV)

E.M. Bounds says, “[God] has ordained prayer as a means whereby he will do things through men as they pray, which he would not otherwise do. If prayer puts God to work on earth, then, by the same token, prayerlessness rules God out of the world’s affairs, and prevents him from working. The driving power, the conquering force in God’s cause is God himself. ‘Call on me and I will answer thee and who thee great and mighty things which though knowest not,’ is God’s challenge to prayer. Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work.” (The Weapon of Prayer)

Prayer is a powerful weapon in the spiritual warfare of rescuing lives from sin, suffering and destruction. Billy Sunday was a great evangelist in the early 1900’s. Through his ministry hundreds of thousands of people came to faith in Christ. But the secret to Billy Sunday’s effectiveness as an evangelist was not in his fiery preaching, though he was certainly anointed by God. The secret to his effectiveness was the home prayer groups his team organized before he came to a city to preach.

In December of 1914, Billy Sunday came to Philadelphia, PA for a series of revival services. During the entire month Christians gathered in private homes to pray for revival. Twice a week followers of Christ in approximately 5,000 homes across the city to pray for revival and spiritual awakening. It is estimated that on each night more than 100,000 Christians were gathered in homes praying for the services Billy Sunday would hold. It is reported that during the Philadelphia campaign, more than 2 million people attended the services and over 41,000 people made professions of faith in Christ. Lives were changed, souls were saved, marriages and relationships healed, Christians were revived and churches were renewed.

We need revival and spiritual awakening in our world today. God has not changed; His power has not changed; what has changed is that WE, His people, have diminished or altogether stopped praying for God to move in such a mighty way. I believe if we will return to earnest, intentional, focused and desperate prayer, God will return to moving in mighty ways. His promise is that “If if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And then He says, “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.” 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NKJV)

I want to be in the generation that returns to God in humility, prayer, seeking and repentance and who sees God heal our land, revive His people and redeem the lost. I want to be part of the prayer movement that moves God to change our world.