This was just a fun little photo made last Sunday (December 20) between church services of our family in the church courtyard. We have a wild, fun and easy-to-love bunch. Our grandchildren, left to right, are Jude, James, Jackson, Ben and Ruby. Jude and Ruby are 3, James is 5, Ben is 6, and Jackson is 8. GranMartha is timeless.
Happy Wednesday Everyone:
Allow me to start this Enote with a question for you: Would a good God ever ask one of his sons or daughters to sign up for a mission that’s going to create a huge amount of trouble and heartbreak in their own lives? I’ll let you decide the answer to that question tonight as we look at a prophet in the Old Testament who is kind of a hero to me: Jeremiah.
Jeremiah, in my opinion, is an ideal beginning point to our new UPLIFT series beginning tonight. This series is called: Fascinating Stories from the Bible’s Hall of Fame and Shame.
Jeremiah’s motto was pretty simple: I will get up. I will suit up. I will show up. I will do the next right thing. And I will trust God with the results.
Jeremiah had a lonely job. For more than 40 years, he cried out for the repentance of God’s people when that was the absolute last message they wanted to hear. God gave Jeremiah a formidable and unpopular assignment that many of weaker character would have jettisoned at the first signs of difficulty. But God’s assignment to him was a “fire in his bones” that eventually, but not quickly, produced “mercies that are new every morning.”
I hope to see you tonight as we are all inspired by the fascinating story of Jeremiah. We will even be inspired, through video, by a modern day hero who was born without arms and legs, and yet makes an incredible difference for Jesus Christ through his tenacious joy and purposeful life. His name? Nick Vujicic. And you gotta see him to believe him.
Before signing off, let me congratulate our own Ginger Hudson who was honored at last night’s Lifeline Chaplaincy Benefit Dinner with their annual Pastoral Care Volunteer Award. Ginger serves in the medical center every week as the presence of Christ to many through Lifeline Chaplaincy. And if you didn’t know, our own Dr. Virgil Fry is the founder and Executive Leader of that ministry. Also, through your tithes and offerings, you are the largest church supporter of that fantastic and needed ministry to the many who come to our medical center from around the globe.
Ginger joins our Terry Aven as two of the most valued pastoral volunteers in the Lifeline Chaplaincy medical center ministry. Honor to whom honor is due, says the Scriptures.
Hope to see many of you tonight as we have a full slate of Wednesday offerings in addition to our UPLIFT service in the East Room. Have a blessed week as you serve our great God and King. The Lord is good and His love endures forever!
Good Friday Everyone:
This morning I had the privilege of gathering with several brothers and sisters at the home of Jerold and Sherri Givens. We sat outside and had a time of mutual encouragement as we reflected on the impact of Christ’s sacrifice for us. We shared communion and prayed for one another.
We all agreed that we are a community of failures, but that the cross unmistakably declares that God’s grace, which is His love acting specifically upon our sin, is greater than our sins, our past and our failures. Name your shame, name your sin, but when you turn to Christ you can add these words: paid in full. Good Friday was the Greatest Friday ever.
Tonight in our Worship Center we’ll reflect on the cross in a Good Friday service at 6:30. And it will be personal. Jesus died for your sins and your sins put him there. Jesus died for my sins and my sins put him there. As John Stott has said so well, “Until you see the cross as that which is done by you, you will never appreciate that it is done for you.”
Tonight, the cross in the front of our Worship Center will be draped in black.
But not on Sunday.
On Sunday the cross will be draped in victory colors and I’m looking forward to celebrating Easter with you and bringing an Easter message called, “The Hinge of History!” Jesus really is who He said He is, He did what He said He would do, and He still offers what only He can offer.
I encourage you to INVITE others to Easter Sunday because when you invite someone personally you are letting them know that they are welcome here. So, text, Facebook, phone, email, tweet, or whatever – you know someone who needs a refresher on how the power of the resurrection dismantles every other power and sets us free.
I look forward to gathering with you this Easter Sunday morning (8:15; 9:45; 11:15) as we celebrate the wonder that “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!” Some of you may come with joyful hearts, some of you may come with heavy hearts, and we can all come with receptive hearts to receive a touch of Christ’s hope.
One of my favorite songs this time of year is the old hymn “And Can It Be” and I like the version by the group Glad. Listen to it as you watch the video link below and let the profound truths of this song wash your spirit. And when you come to verse three (“Boldly I come ..), don’t hold back. Don’t hold back your emotion, your gratitude or your worship.
Because He Lives,
Persecution happens whenever a believer experiences relational, social, physical, emotional or financial pressure to compromise their faith. It happens all the time. You’ve experienced it and I have too in varying degrees.
But some of our brothers and sisters around the globe are feeling the heat of intense persecution. How often do you think of them? Everyday someone is persecuted for their Christian faith in vicious ways.
I’m told that more Christians are being persecuted now that at any other time in history. What I do know is that the high profile killing of Christians has moved me to renew praying for the our persecuted brothers and sisters who are “people of the Cross.”
1 Peter 5:9 Resist him (the devil), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Jesus forewarned the church in Smyrna with these words: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Martyrdom doesn’t mean that Satan wins; it means Satan loses. Christians choose death over defection from Jesus. We remember those martyred for their faith and honor their conviction of choosing to die for Christ rather than deny him. As the book of Hebrews says of so many believers, “this world is not worthy of them.”
1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I have three brief but important items for you on this chilly Wednesday.
First, I encourage you to read here the inspiring story of our own Alyssa Ferguson and her make-a-wish request. Alyssa is an amazing young woman of God whose spirit will encourage yours.
Second, mark your calendars for our upcoming Missions Dinner, La Posada En Honduras, scheduled for Saturday, March 21 from 5:30-8:30pm. This will benefit both youth and adult short-term mission trips this year. It will be an evening of food, entertainment and a fun auction. Can’t make it? No problem, you can still support the cause by making a donation!
Third, in tonight’s UPLIFT service we will conclude our three-week series on the parable of the prodigal son by asking, What Shall We Do with Failure? The story of the prodigal son is a story about how one young man got free from his past failures and found a glorious new future with the help and mercy of God.
All of us who are honest with ourselves know we have failures in our lives. Some are bigger than others, but all of them must be properly dealt with in order for us to be free to live a healthy life before the Lord.
Not only must we learn to grow through our own failures, but we must also learn in some way to deal with the spiritual failure of others, particularly those very close to us. The father in this story was a very good parent, and yet he had two sons who at one time were resistant to their father’s dreams for them. That is the risk and pain of parenting. That is the risk and pain of loving and caring for another person.
I hope to see you tonight at 7:00pm.
The robe, the shoes, the ring,
They are all for me, an unworthy son,
But the greatest of these, the most wonderful thing,
My father ran to meet me, I SAW GOD RUN!
I’m sure fired up and looking forward to tomorrow at First Colony. I get to teach about the Crazy Love of God in week #3 of our Crazy Love series.
This Sunday is also CCA Day (Cornerstone Christian Academy), which is an absolutely terrific ministry of our church family. Several CCA students will help our worship teams, read scripture and Dylan Weaver will even help me kick off our message.
I’d like to take a moment and bring all of you up to speed on the work of CCA. Cornerstone Christian Academy started in 2003 (thanks to the pioneering work of Dana Wright) and currently serves children from age two through the eighth grade. In addition, Cornerstone offers extended care from 7:00am to 6:00pm and offers various enrichment classes for all age groups after school. The total number of students at CCA is 430.
CCA’s mission is to equip students with skills for life and faith for eternity. Casey Farris is the Head of School and does a terrific job. His predecessor, Chad St. Jean, also did a terrific job and the school is in such a good place in every way. Mark Mize is the CCA Board Chair. Enrollment for the 2015-16 school year is currently underway.
Cornerstone recently went through accreditation through AdvancEd, which is the largest community of educational professionals around the world that accredits more than 32,000 schools globally. The global average ranking is a 282 and Cornerstone received a 318, which places CCA in the top 0.5 percentile globally.
Here is a quote from AdvancEd: “Cornerstone Christian Academy received the highest rating in the supportive learning environment. The school has well documented values; and the External Review Team saw respect, responsibility, integrity, teamwork, and a quest for excellence throughout the school visit.”
I’m grateful for the work of CCA, their talented faculty and staff, and the partnership we enjoy. Martha and I are also glad to be CCA grandparents.
Have a great weekend. Hope to see you tomorrow for an encouraging day of worship and fellowship.
Happy Wednesday Everyone:
There is a mindset in Christianity that I’ll call the “colder, older brother mindset.” It’s a small-hearted mindset of condescension, resentment, and self-righteousness that Jesus verbally portrays in his parable of the prodigal son, which could easily be called the parable of the merciful father, or it could be called the parable of the colder, older brother. You get the idea.
In tonight’s UPLIFT service we’ll talk exclusively about this colder, older brother/sister mindset – how it arises, how it can subtly influence and how it can be minimized. This is not a sentimental topic. The early church, for example, wrestled with how they should respond to believers who had lapsed in their faith during a time of persecution. Sin happens. And when it does, what’s God’s heart on the matter and how can we accurately portray that heart? I hope to see you tonight at 7pm.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and many non-Catholics wonder, “what is this all about?”
Lent (a word meaning “spring”) was an ancient church practice of taking the six weeks before Easter and preparing new converts for baptism. It was also a time for all believers to focus on repentance before the Lord and thus evolved the Lenten “fast,” giving up something during the six weeks of Lent.
Here’s the Captain Obvious statement: Lent is not a requirement for Christians. Dallas Willard has said, and I agree, that if a certain spiritual discipline not required by God helps you grow in God’s grace, then by all means do it. But if it doesn’t, don’t feel like you must do it.
But here’s what you can know: Christ followers of varying faith traditions will use the next six weeks to be intentionally more attentive to the call of Christ and the reconciliation He brings through his sacrificial death and resurrection.
One good practice leading up to Easter is to read through the gospels (about 15 minutes per day) and here is a helpful reading plan. As you read the Scriptures, ask God this question: “what do I need most, but least want to hear, from your word?”