Tony Morgan had a post today about the incredible weekend they had at Granger Community Church. I was moved to tears looking at the pictures of the 400 people they baptized yesterday. 400 PEOPLE! That’s it. Right there. The whole reason I’m a part of Compass. 400 people now know God that didn’t before they came into contact with Granger. Those people have experienced a life change – they will never be the same. I pray that the communities in the Alliance, TX area will come to find something different at Compass. That we, as individuals and as a group, can lead them to the One that can heal, the One that cares, the One that can change EVERYTHING! That’s what it’s all about. Changed lives. I am just so grateful to be able to be a part of it – to give testimony of my own changed life. I know that we can make a difference. How could I not get excited about that?
Most of you know that I am part of a church plant in Roanoke, TX. We’ve had a number of challenges over the last couple of years, most of which have turned into major advantages. Check out Johnny’s post for specific examples.
I’ve been thinking alot lately about the upcoming months and how we will design our services to really make an impact in our area. I’ve come to some conclusions:
I read an article about how before we put together our services we need to know who we are – personalities, etc. I think that up until now we’ve been trying to figure out what will reach people – what people will respond to. Well, if we first figure out what WE respond to, that will help us communicate with passion, excitement and actually reach the people God means for us to reach. God put our personalities together for a reason – and it’s not so that we can do church like we always have. I think we are supposed to play on our strengths, passions, preferences, and styles and then – ONLY THEN – will we reach the people God is calling us to reach. Lets design a service – or Weekly gathering – that WE would be able to get excited about – and want to invite people to. Let’s take the church goggles off and dream a little. We CAN have fun with this. Church is supposed to be fun – it’s supposed to be creative – it’s supposed to be different. People will respond to us if we’re genuine and real – we’ve talked about this a million times. I think that it’s time to put our worship service where our mouth is. It will take major dedication, creativity, excitement, passion, time – but we can absolutely make it happen.
It’s like all of the sudden my eyes have been opened and I see things not for what they were or what they are, but for what they could be. It’s the DUH moment. Actually I’ve had a lot of DUH moments over the last couple of weeks. I feel so stupid that it never occured to me before. God chose us – who we are – our personalities, etc. for this area at this time. We don’t have to wait and see what God will do. HE’s called US to do something. To reach out in an exciting and real way to the people in THIS area and tell them about Him. When we’re obedient to do that – He’ll move in a mighty way. It all seems so simple, now. God has given us the opportunity to be creative – to get excited – to be passionate and to have a blast at the same time. I’ve been saying that I’m learning what a privilege it is to be in ministry and to be a part of God’s will.
It’s like my first airplane ride – I expected something really cool. I knew that it would be great. But when the wheels of the plane left the ground for the first time and I realized that I was FLYING – Words couldn’t express how I was feeling. My mind was expanded at that moment – suddenly the world was a lot bigger – and I was a lot smaller – and it was WONDERFUL! I finally saw a glimpse of the Big Picture – and I will NEVER BE THE SAME.
That’s where we are as a church – the wheels are leaving the pavement. Just like in the airplane – I held on a little tighter to the armrest as the nose of the plane pointed toward the sky and the ground got farther away – we need to do the same now – hold on tighter. There is a natural excitement that we’ll feel just knowing that the plane is going higher and higher and pointing more and more toward the sky – and the higher we get, the looser our grip will be on the armrests. The higher we go – the more we will trust the thing that is holding us up. The higher we go – the more of the picture we’ll see. I’m so ready to fly. I’ve never been more ready.
Today was the first day of Kindergarten. I think I was WAY more nervous than Elisa was. She was excited. She even picked out a special gift for one of her classmates that she knew from pre-K to give her on the first day.
I just have to say that some days I am busting with pride over my child. Those of you that hate it when parents brag on their children – look away…here it comes:
I LOVE MY KID! I can’t hardly believe how great of a person she is shaping up to be. Every day she gives me so many reasons to be proud of her. She is kind, thoughtful, generous, SO smart, creative, loving, trusting, accepting, inquisitive (which I think is a great thing), brave and all those other things I wish I was all the time. Isn’t it weird how we can learn to be more Christlike from our children. She struggles with obedience and patience, but so does everyone. I wonder if my Heavenly Father every feels for me the way I feel for her. I suspect that He does. I look at her and am so proud of how hard she tries to please me and at how much she learns and applies every day. I hope that I can make God as proud of me each day. Gosh, my kid rocks!!
I overheard an argument earlier this week that got me all fired up. It doesn’t matter what the argument was about. What matters is what I re-realized about my God as a result of that argument.
I really love M&M’s. I do. The best thing about M&M’s is that I like them all equally. Not like skittles. I don’t like the yellow skittles, and the greens are not my favorites either. But M&M’s – yummm! Even the ones that are deformed – or have an M on both sides, or the ones without an M at all. I LOVE THEM ALL.
We are to God as M&M’s are to me. He loves every one.
My God does not discriminate. He does not pick and choose. He wants everyone to know Him. He is a God of mercy, grace, forgiveness, love and kindness.
God chose to send Jesus as a sacrifice for the sins of the WORLD! Not the sins of a chosen few. God sent Jesus for ME!!! and for YOU!!! ANYONE that calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. (that’s scripture!)
TALK ABOUT GOOD NEWS!!! (You can now assume that the caps means that I’m shouting!)
If you understand nothing about God – understand this: He Loves You. He Chose you. He Wants you. He sent His ONLY son to save you. No matter who you are – or what you’ve done. You have the opportunity – the choice – to accept His gift of forgiveness. You have the opportunity to accept Christ’s sacrifice – and to know God. EVERYONE HAS THIS CHOICE.
Christ came for you – because He couldn’t imagine eternity without YOU!
DUDE – that IS good news! Spread it around.
I read a post this morning from Charlie Pharis, which was about a post from Randy Bohlender (too much blogging, I know!) that got me thinking. It was about the idea that our faith shouldn’t make it harder for us to connect w/ people that we don’t agree with, but easier because our faith allows us to see them the way God sees them – as a child of His. I actually feel kind of stupid that I’ve never thought of it this way before now. I mean, how completely obvious that b/c of what I believe I should be able to connect with absolutely everyone – simply because I care for them and don’t judge them. It makes sense. The biggest relationship barriers all seem to stem from someone not accepting or forgiving someone else because they are not the ideal person according to whatever standard society is using at the time.
Here’s what Randy writes:
Despite the fact that I suspect I disagree with them on most issues of major importance in my life, I find Larry, Marian, Andie (and prior BM whizGirl, Jess the Nurse) to be more than interesting. They are wonderful. My religious beliefs serve as a bridge, not a wall. As I told Marian today “My faith enables me to see you as who you are – a child of God…a God who is intensely interested in you. My faith compells me to love you.”
There is so much to be learned from this statement. When we can start seeing our faith as a bridge that connects us to others instead of a wall that separates us from them, we can be free to share that connection with them in a way that draws them to Christ instead of pushing them away. We need to be focused on connecting with God’s people – not judging them and on loving them, not ignoring them!
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” – Matthew 6:33
During lunch today I heard a sermon that was wrapped around this verse. It was AWESOME! So awesome that I’m considering buying it on CD – which I know I do way too often. But anyway – I’d like to share some of what I learned, and some of my own thoughts too:
1st – What is the Kingdom of God? My Bible defines it as “wherever God is reigning and the people experiencing God’s reign”.
2nd – What does it mean to seek the “Kingdom of God”? How do we seek it?
The pastor I heard over lunch gave 3 ways we are to seek the Kingdom of God – and I thought these were really good:
We should seek to: EXPERIENCE, EXPRESS & EXPAND the Kingdom of God.
To experience the Kingdom of God would be to be a part of it – to know Christ personally and to be a part of what He is doing in His Kingdom.
To express the Kingdom of God would be to simply make it known to others – tell others about the freedom and grace available through Christ’s sacrifice.
To expand the Kingdom of God would be to invite others to be a part of it along with you. (Make disciples – remember the Great Commission?)
Now the next part – “and His righteousness”
What is His righteousness? – Righteousness is the state of being perfect, without sin.
So – we seek to be like Christ (since there is no one but Him that is perfect).
And the last part – “and all these things will be added to you”. What things will be added??
If you read directly before this verse you’ll see that it is all about worry. We worry about so many things! The Bible mentions a few specific things that we all worry about – what to eat or drink, what to wear. Let me pose a question – what do you seek after? Money? Happiness? Family? Friends? Comfort or Security?
The Bible says that if we seek FIRST the Kingdom of God (to Experience, Express & Expand it) and His righteousness (to be like Christ) than all those other things that we seek will be added to us according to God’s perfect will.
Think about it. If we seek God’s Kingdom first we’ll certainly be secure (there is no more secure place than in the arms of the Master), and we will be part of the biggest and most powerful family there ever was or will be – God’s family. If we seek to be like Christ – we’ll find a friend (there’s no better friend than Jesus – cheesy I know, but true). Our treasure will be in Heaven (rather than treasure here on Earth where moth and rust destroy), instead of happiness we’ll find Joy – deep, abiding Joy. The Bible says that the Fruits of the Spirit are peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. These are the things we experience through seeking God’s Kingdom first.
There is so much more to all of this – I just might have to blog about it later.
Til then – let’s make His Kingdom priority 1.
“If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, ‘Come’, then He will continue to say, ‘Come,’ through you. You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s ‘Come.’ That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.” – Oswald Chambers
DUDE!! I’m not sure I can add anything to this statement other than to say – this is my goal: my ultimate goal as a follower of Christ.
Oswald also says: “If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you.”
I don’t think there’s any greater goal in this life than to say that God made me a holy experiment, that He used me to touch lives. And that through my life He said to others, “Come to me”.
I was reading in the book of Esther today, and although I’m sure I’ve read it before, one chapter really stood out to me – in fact, I was almost moved to tears.
The story is an exciting one (that I highly recommend) about a jewish girl (Esther) who is, through what would compare to a modern-day beauty pageant, placed in the position of being Queen of the Persian empire. In that position, she saves her people from being destroyed by their enemies who are led by an evil official named Haman. (So many details in this story – you need to read it if you haven’t!) Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, sent word to her about the persecution her people were facing, saying: “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?“ (4:13-14).
Esther replies, “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.”
Esther knew she needed to go to the King (her husband) to ask for his help, but if she went into him w/out being asked for he could (and probably would) have her killed. She did it anyway, and God gave her people great success in defeating their enemies.
WOW! One woman’s obedience began the deliverance of an entire nation. I doubt she knew that her obedience to God would play such an integral part in history. I doubt if any of us know the impact our obedience to God’s will has on His plan. I know I don’t. I read a few study guides about Esther and here’s an excerpt from one of them:
“God has a purpose for you, right now, right where you are, no matter who you are, where you live, to whom you are married, what you have experienced in the past, or what you are facing in the future. In fact He has allowed you to come to this place in your life for a definite purpose, “for such a time as this.” He has something specific for you to accomplish in your present situation, and He wants you to look for the opportunities in that present sphere of influence.
He will be honored when we claim His grace to be what He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do in our present circumstances. We must take advantage of the opportunities He has made available to us in the here and now. He may later open wider spheres of opportunity if that suits His purposes, but that is in His hands. Our responsibility is to let Him use us where we are.
God is at work in our lives just as definitely and decisively as in Esther’s. Our circumstances may not be all we would like them to be. But we can thank God for them anyway. They provide Him with the opportunity to demonstrate His sovereign love and care, and they provide us with an opportunity to glorify Him. Let us believe that He will work those circumstances together for good, then look for ways to serve Him in them.”
Really good stuff, man!