Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Connection - A Christian Imperative

Last Sunday at NRN I continued in my series of messages from the book of First Peter. We took time to look at chapter five and I gave the antidote of a stress filled life.
A fundamental truth that I shared is that as believers in the Lord we really do need each other. I have discovered over my years of ministry that the majority of people who become disgruntled and depart the church were usually Sunday morning attendees only and did not connect in a small group. Connection with others is imperative in your Christian walk.

On Sunday evening Sharron and I hosted another Birthday Fellowship at our home. This is a practice we began during our first year at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene. It is an opportunity for every person at our church to be invited to our home for a dessert fellowship. Sharron prepares a variety of desserts and people come to our home for laughter, stories, and getting to connect with new friends.

On Sunday we were privileged to host 30 people for an evening of strawberry desserts and plenty of laughter.

The next evening, Sharron and I visited one of our small groups that meets across the area. This group meets on Monday evenings - usually twice a month - in the Durham area. This group is a good example of the church in action. Everyone was greeted warmly. They sat around a room and just talked about life. Then the time came for prayer request and the group paused as a number shared personal request. It was very evident the God's presence was there as people prayed for each other. The prayer time was followed by viewing an eight minute DVD clip and then a lively discussion on forgiveness and the Biblical exhortation not to take revenge on others.

The meeting time concluded with refreshments and more laughter. One couple brought their grand daughter with them to the meeting and she was very observant to what was happening around her. As they departed for the evening she shook my hand, smiled and said to me: "You're awesome". I think she is very discerning and a very intelligent child!

Now - Don't you wish you were part of a small group?

Monday, June 29, 2009

New York Mission Team Departs NRN


It was my privilege this morning to pray with the students and some of the adults who be be serving this week on a missions trip to New York.

The team will be traveling today to Milan, NY. They will be minister at Camp Taconic Retreat and Conference Center.

This camp is the Metro New York Church of the Nazarene Campground.

We encourage you to remember this team in prayer throughout this week. The team consist of the following individuals:

Julie Bryant
Ash Cottle
Kathryn Floyd
Annalise Brown
Tali Major
Bob Ulman
Lance Irwin
Zack Irwin
Sue Baker
Sean Baker
Andrew Christian
Michal Christian
Tyler Legget
Dawn Stroupe
Mike Stroupe
Pastor Brittany Cottle
Brian Cottle
Pastor Ryan Walker
Bill Tafel
Dillon Tafel
Danielle Tafel

Plan now to join us on Sunday July 5th at NRN as the team will take a short portion of the service to share testimonies of this past week!

A day at the Museum

Over the weekend we enjoyed the visit from our daughter Stephanie, Josh and Alyse. It was a fun time together as we took time on Saturday to visit a children's museum near our home.

Marbles Kids Museum is an eye opening experience of fun and play. The admission price is very reasonable for the several hours of laughter and fun. I was amazed how busy Alyse was as she experienced a number of exhibits.

Alyse worked on some fashion designs as her mom assisted her:

As she worked to deliver packages - I wondered what was on her mind?

Alyse and her dad enjoyed many time of playing and looking toward the future.

I think the exhibit Alyse enjoyed the most was the water area. She learned the secret of making the toys move quickly through the water by placing them in the water near the jet valve.

Saturday was a day of making memories with our family. Our daughter Danielle was with friends visiting Atlanta. We hope to join with her soon for more family times. It was so special for Sharron and I to have Josh, Stephanie and Alyse visit us in Raleigh. We cherish these moments.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A herd of buffalo, a pride of lions, 2 crocodiles and a spiritual application

As I sit at my desk and pray for the worship experience at NRN tomorrow I spend time to worship and then jump into the Word of God and ask the Holy Spirit to give me the right words to share. I have studied and prepared. The powerpoint is prepared - the sermon notes are printed and placed in the worship folders. Now - I focus on preparing my soul and spirit to be receptive to the leading of God as I stand before His people.

Here is part of my worship:

As I preach from 1 Peter chapter 5 I am moved by a powerful example found on youtube.

Let me set it up:

Soon to be featured on NBC's Dateline! It has been featured on National Geographic, Animal Planet and ABC.

It is a battle between a pride of lions, a herd of buffalo, and 2 crocodiles at a watering hole in South Africa's Kruger National Park while on safari.

This is an 8 minute -yet captivating video.

Here is the spiritual application:

1. We need each other - It is never wise to go solo in the world today.

2. Satan is like a lion - seeking whom he may destroy.

3. When things in life are difficult - they can always get worse ( here comes the crocodiles)

4. Just when it looks like the end is near - the herd can come to your rescue.

Find a local church and join the herd in order to escape the lions and crocodiles of life.

If you are looking for a great church in the Raleigh NC area - check us out at NRN.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A little chuckle

When I feel really busy and face a "brain freeze" about posting a blog - I usually think of this little clip that seems to always make me chuckle.

My understanding that there were no models injured during this taping.

I am also reminded by this clip that before I criticize anyone I should consider walking a mile in their shoes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Thoughts about Father's Day

Last Sunday we took a few moments to honor men in our church for Father's Day. This year my wife was at the home of my daughter Stephanie and Josh. She was able to spend some time with them - have time with Alyse and spent the afternoon with our daughter Danielle as they went to a Broadway show.

As I awoke on Sunday I admit, I was a little lonely. I had thoughts of my dad who passed away in 1984. I wish there had been more time to spend with my dad. There are so many questions I would like to ask. Yes - I sensed a time of sorrow as I prepared for Sunday morning.

Sunday turned out to be a great day. As I took my cell phone following church I read a text message from Danielle that brought tears to my eyes as she wished me a happy Father's Day!
On Monday I met Sharron, Stephanie and Alyse in Lexington NC to bring Sharron home.

Alyse is feeling much better following her sickness over the weekend. She even felt at home at the Cracker Barrel to challenge Sharron to checkers...

I think she does quite well ...

Stephanie gave me a Father's Day card from her and Josh. Later, in a quiet moment I read the words which touched my heart:

Thanks for being a Great Dad

It's your heart for God that guides your steps and leaves a path of wisdom to follow.

Your encouragement and example are valuable gifts, but your love is the greatest inspiration - steady, strong, and willing to express itself generous, whether it be in a word of advice or a helping hand.

You might not hear "thank you" and "I love you" as often as they come to mind, but you are appreciated and loved deeply today and always.

Happy Father's Day WITH LOVE

"He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor."

Proverbs 21:21 NIV

WOW! I feel so unworthy of such kind words - but they are a challenge I accept to live up to, with the help of the Lord. May my life be found trustworthy....

Monday, June 22, 2009

James and the Chicken Dance

Well - I am finally back. I have missed posting for the last week but the week was full of events and I was away from the computer when I wanted to post. Here is a posting on our Vacation Bible School which concluded on Sunday morning:

Vacation Bible School at NRN

Here is the video presentation Pastor Brittany prepared for last Sunday. VBS was great at NRN this year. Special appreciation to Sandy Floyd and those who helped paint and prepare the backdrops and to Brian Cottle for the craftsmanship on the set. Also to ALL the volunteers - Thank you for your service to the Lord. We rejoice in the number of changed lives and for the 8 children who accepted Christ as their Savior!

This past Sunday at NRN was filled with shouts of praise and laughter!

James Cook demonstrated his servant spirit by allowing the chocolate syrup to cover him to hold the feathers applied and enjoy the "chicken dance" as we applauded!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Preparing for a worship experience

This has been a wonderful week! On June 9th Sharron and I celebrated 31 years of marriage. I thank God for my wife and the years we have been together. I cannot imagine life without her.

On this Saturday evening I am preparing for Sunday morning at NRN I have worked on my message and pray that I would do my my best to present myself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15) That tomorrow I would preach the word with boldness!

Each Saturday evening I go over our order of worship to prepare myself for a worship experience to meet with God. This is what I am singing tonight:

And tomorrow I plan to preach through the 4th chapter of First Peter in our series entitled

The Antidote

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Are you a cheerful giver?

Today was a giving day at NRN. As I arrived at the church on this Saturday morning I was surprised to see several people there to work on service projects at the church. I appreciate our trustees (Brad, Marty and Dave) very much. Before 10:00am the Bloodmobile from Rex Hospital took it's position at the front of the church.

The writing along the top of the bus read, "Every 3 seconds a person needs blood." Thanks to Sharron for her work to coordinate this event.

At last count we had 18 people who were able to give blood ~ which means we have helped 54 people needing blood in the days ahead. It is said that our blood could save a life. I really appreciate those who took part of their Saturday to come to the church to take part in our first blood drive for Rex hospital.

On Sunday I will stand before our family at NRN and announce that it is time for the offering - and a great sound of applause will take place. We offer our tithes and offerings to the Lord with a cheerful heart. This week Pastor Rick Warren posted a blog about what it means to tell God you love Him by giving to Him. (Thanks to Pam R. for sending this too me.) I hope it speaks to you as it spoke to me:

June 5, 2009

Tell God You Love Him by Giving to Him

by Rick Warren

"But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others" (2 Corinthians 8:7-8 NIV).

At the core of giving is the essence of love. When you love someone you want to give to them. You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving. If you say you love God, then it's going to show up in your generous lifestyle.

I can claim to be a Christian, a follower of Christ. I can claim to love God. But the Bible says there is one way to really test the sincerity of your love: "Just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love” (2 Corinthians 8:7-8 NIV).

God tests the sincerity of your love by looking at your giving.

Why does He do that? God doesn't need your time. He doesn't need your money. What does He need? He wants what your giving represents—your heart—and He wants you to become like Him. "For God loved the world so much that He gave" (John
3:16 NLT, emphasis mine). You can either become like God and be a generous giver or you can become like Satan and be a stingy hoarder.

I have discovered that there are basically two kinds of people—cheerful givers and fearful givers.

Cheerful givers say, "I'm going to give. It all belongs to God anyway. He gave it all to me. I wouldn't have anything without God so I'm going to give it all to Him and He can take care of
all my needs."

Fearful givers say, "I can't afford to do this. I can't afford to give. I've got to hoard. I've got to watch what's for me. I've got to protect my selfish interests."

Cheerful or fearful—you make the decision. But remember God tests the sincerity of your love by how generous you are in life. Everything we have comes from God.

Giving is as much an act of worship as singing, praying, thanking, and listening. It's saying, "God, I love You so much I want to give back to You. You saved my life and I want to give back to You."

As you prepare to give tomorrow at church are you cheerful or fearful?

Here is a song about what it means to bring an acceptable offering to God

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Chinese Dad

The following was stolen from my daughter Stephanie's blog. She is so creative. Before this I had placed a link to her blog - but she has posted again - so I thought I would steal this posting for your enjoyment. Her title:


Alyse has a collection of Disney Princess books. The other day she was reading the Mulan book. She walked over to my mom and said, "Papa!" as she pointed at the book. My mom looked at it and started cracking up laughing.


Well because this is the character that she thought looked like Papa:

What do you think? Doesn't he look like my dad?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A trustworthy friend - John Maxwell

Last evening at dinner a good friend asked me if I had heard the news about John Maxwell. When I replied "No", he shared some disturbing news. I asked if he could help me verify the information. Here is the surprising news about John Maxwell:

WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- March 17, 2009

Best selling author and teaching pastor at Christ Fellowship Church, John C. Maxwell was arrested Thursday at Palm Beach International Airport for trying to board a plane with a concealed weapon.

The arrest probable cause affidavit from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says that shortly before noon, Maxwell was going through the TSA screening at PBIA concourse C.According to the report, the TSA screener noticed a hand gun displayed inside a brown briefcase. Maxwell told TSA officials that the gun was given to him by a friend.

Maxwell was charged with possession of a concealed weapon while attempting to board an airplane.John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Maxwell speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations..... To read more click HERE

John Maxwell has been released from jail on bond.

John has responded to the incident on his blog saying, "Truly, it’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. You can probably guess the rest. I was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail, where I was fingerprinted and photographed. Needless to say, it opened my eyes to a world I’d seen only in the movies. I was glad when I posted bail and was able to leave."You can read his complete blog entry by clicking HERE

I have the privilege of personally knowing John Maxwell for over 30 years. We have enjoyed a good friendship during this time. He has stayed in my home and we have eaten many meals together. He is a man of the highest integrity. It is pure John Maxwell to admit his honest mistake and apply it to create a leadership lesson. I feel bad about this blemish upon John's judgement - but I can't help but believe that John will face this with peace in his heart and humbleness of spirit.
Here is the clip he used to describe this event in his life.

I conclude ~ My friend John Maxwell is one of the most trustworthy individuals I have ever know.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Magical Evening

It was wonderful to have my grand daughter visit for the weekend. Sunday morning we took a short walk before getting into the car to ride to church. She had a fun time at NRN. I was moved by the presence of God during our worship experience. It sensed the clear anointing of God as I spoke. There were several people gathered around the altars in prayer as the our time came to a close. I believe some lives were changed as we encountered God this past Sunday

Sunday evening was a "magical" night as we featured our 5th Sunday Family Event with special guest Bryan Swaringen, an award winning entertainer from Charlotte, NC. The community room was filled to overflowing. A member of the pastoral staff commented to me that it is time we move to the worship center for this event next time. It was great to hear the laughter throughout the evening. I believe everyone who attended had a great time!

We took a few moments to honor Bailie and Glady for reading the complete collection of missionary books in our children's missions club.

We then enjoyed a meal together as Bryan walked around performing magic or as one person said "trickery of hand" at some of the tables as people began to hear the laughter building in the room.

Then Bryan came to the stage and presented an awesome performance the made people laugh - applaud - and even a few ohhhhhhs ...

I believe that James and Janice are still wondering what happened to their watches...

Those who were there will remember the torn dollar bill - the floating table - the newspaper. For me the best comment of the evening came when Bryan began to make it snow in the community room. Children were amazed - adults were delighted - applause broke out ...

... and four year old Grace (who has recently moved to NC from Michagan) turned to her dad and said " That's not real snow."

Bryan responded to an email from me following the evening and here is the comment he said about NRN -

Thanks so much Rick. I had a wonderful time and I loved watching the video of my performance when I got home and just listen to how great the crowd was. I even told the lady at the bank today about the show last night and I told her that the people would've had fun even if I had read the phone book to them. It was a great crowd and I would love to have to face them again. Thank you so much for letting me come to your church. God Bless, ~Bryan

What did YOU think of the presentation Sunday evening? I would appreciate your comments: