Thursday, August 26, 2010

Reflections from last Sunday

Several people have shared comments on Facebook about the message last Sunday at church. Here are thoughts from a blog about the truths we discovered:

As I read some of my past blog posts, I noticed that most have a positive spin to them. Many of them talk about good things in my life – friendships, family, etc – and how we should be better persons. I know we can be better in everything we do and because of that, I want to share with others life experiences and thoughts on how we can be better. Now, as I think more about my messages, I do not want to be “cheesy” or give people the impression that I think life is easy and “happy happy joy joy” because I know for a fact that it is not. As I mentioned in one my previous blogs, I have had difficult experiences myself and know life can throw us a lot of curve balls and confront us with a lot of tests and trials at unexpected times. Now, what is different about my blog and how I approach things in my life? What is the reason for my “positive spins” and my “happy happy joy joy” attitude in life? Well, the reason is simply one and it is that my trust is in God. My abandon of everything to Him is because I know He has a master plan and things will work according to His plan. So why fear? Why get anxious? Why tremble when I know my life is in His hands and things will work for the best according to His plan?

I know this can be a difficult concept for many to grasp as many may not have the Faith that I have. Nevertheless I will still go ahead and ask – do you trust in Him as you should? Today’s message at church was about Trust and what does it really mean and due to that many scriptures that referenced Truth in the Bible were mentioned during the message. Among them there were a few that caught my attention but this was one of the key verses that I liked: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” Psalms 118:8.

How true this is! I can abandon myself in the Lord as he has my best interest in hand and although life may seem difficult at many times, He knows what is best for me. It is difficult to explain to others how can I trust in someone who I have not seen but for me to understand this is easy as I know He is real – I have experienced his amazing Love.

As P. Rick said today, human efforts do little in the long run and we can not strive in our own. Now, this does not mean that I don’t think some effort from our part is needed. God is not a genie and will not give us everything we want. We also have to be proactive and work for things. But put all of your fears, your successes, and your life in his hands and things will unfold as He wants them for us. Trust in Him and go along for the ride. Life may not be easy, but in His hands, we will be more than ok.

Thanks Wilma.

If you would like to hear the message from last Sunday in the teaching series about the Red Letter Words of Jesus - Just click HERE. It takes a few moments to download - but I hope you will be blessed. I truly felt the anointing of the Lord as
I preached.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jesus asks "Do you trust me?"

Tomorrow at NRN is going to be awesome day of worship and celebration. I am so jazzed about the message that God placed on my heart for tomorrow. We will be continuing in the teaching series Red Letter Words. We are going to look at the Red Letter Word: TRUST. We plan to begin the worship experience with an announcement roll featuring one of my favorite hymns - Trust and Obey.
Then swing into full gear with a new version of a great hymn: O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.

I plan to be up and preaching within the first 15 minutes of our worship experience.

We will conclude the teaching time with another great hymn of faith: 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus:

As we demonstrate our trust in God by bringing our offerings to him - the worship team will lead us in a new and powerful song. I appreciate the leadership of Tom Alsbury in bringing this new song to us: Your Name

We will bring our worship experience to a close with a one of my favorite songs - Ancient of Days.

If you have missed any of the messages from this teaching series - you can hear the podcast on the website of NRN.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You can't please everybody

In my personal devotions today I read this posting from Rick Warren. It really spoke to my heart and I thought I would pass it along. I believe these are truly trustworthy sayings.
You can't please everybody

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18 (NIV)

"Even God can't please everybody. Only a fool would try to do what even God can't do."

Have you realized that there are some people you can't please? No matter what you do or what you try or how nice you are to them. You just can't please everybody.

But the Bible tells says you don't need to please everybody. "It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you." (Proverbs 29:25 LB) It's an emotional trap when you start worrying about what other people think. We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't even like -- all because we think we must be liked by everyone in order to be happy. That's foolish!

Jesus said, "I only seek to please Him who sent me." (John 5:30 LB) Even Jesus didn't try to please everybody. One person wants it to rain; another doesn't want it to rain. I was one in Texas talking to oil people. They want oil prices to go up; the rest of us are hoping they'll go down. Even God can't please everybody. Only a fool would try to do what even God can't do.

In Luke 6:26 Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you." (NIV) That's probably because the only time everybody's going to speak well of you is at your funeral!

I meet Christians all the time who must live with someone who makes life crazy. Every day they face someone who is an EGR (extra grace required). They say, "I try and try to make peace with this person, but I fail and I feel so guilty." The fact is, it may not be your fault. It may be the person you're trying to make peace with is just flat out difficult.

Give that person to God and focus on pleasing Him

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Giggles and Laughter continued

As a follow up of my last posting - this past weekend was filled with giggles and laughter. One of my favorite moments was being at the home of dear friends and watching Alyse sit across from me eating her meal. All of a sudden I heard Alyse say.. MUMMM.... and she was devouring some corn on the cob. She really enjoyed her visit with our friends.

We were having a great time when Sharron said it was probably time for us to go home. Breeley was surprised that we placed her in her car seat. On Sunday several people made remarks about her blue eyes - They are beautiful!

We treasured our time with the "girls" over this past weekend.

On Sunday I preached a difficult message about the red letter word - forgive. This message spoke to the hearts of many people. At the close of the worship experience I had a person comment to me how they sensed the presence of the Lord in our midst. I believe the worship was outstanding - but the teaching message not one of those "feel good" messages.
When the worship experience was over I wished I had closed my message with the true story I included in the worship folder. Here is that story:

In his book The Art of Forgiveness, author Jack Kornfield shares a stunning portrait of mercy. In South Africa the Babemba tribe has an incredible way of dealing with
criminals and the unjust. When a person is caught committing a crime they are placed in the center of the village and are surrounded by the rest of the people.

One by one the people around the circle face the accused and state the good things the person has done, recounting in great detail positive memories of the man or woman in the middle. The ceremony itself can last for days, and at its closing the person is welcomed back into the tribe with great jubilation.

Many people could never imagine such a picture of love and acceptance. Indeed many of us are used to "getting even" and receiving as good as we get. Yet the Babemba are very close to the heart of God in welcoming home those who have strayed. Jesus spoke a very difficult truth when he went on a mountainside and began to teach His disciples. He taught them saying: “Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Jesus went beyond telling us about our own forgiveness to tell us to offer forgiveness as well. Perhaps he knew that the one thing we needed in our own lives to grasp the love and forgiveness of God is to provide the same to others. Indeed, maybe it is when we are the most forgiving that we most clearly see the Father.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Laughter and giggles abound

Today is filled with laughter and giggles as Alyse and Breeley are at our home in Raleigh for a short weekend. Last evening my mind flooded with memories as Sharron and I sat on the bed and played with Breeley. She is just beginning to giggle and her smiles brighten the room.

Big sister Alyse was perfect last evening. It was awesome to sit on her bed and tell a short Bible story and then pray in her ear. When I kissed her on the check it was a moment of Déjà vu as it felt like times past when her mom was Alyse's age.

Today we head to the book store to pick up the new Veggie Tales movie I purchased in pre-release.

Alyse loves the veggie tale movies and we love the lesson behind each story. This movie is based on Samuel 16:7 "For the Lord sees not as man sees - man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

Tomorrow at church we "roll out" the new children's ministry check in system.

I am so happy with the excellent development in our children's ministry at NRN. Over the past few weeks we have relocated the area for children's church to a larger room. We have maintained the theme of VBS and each week the children are greeted with the "big boat", all the signs, music playing and excitement. It is great to hear the children signing the songs the learned at VBS and using the hand movements with vigor. Special appreciation goes to the dedicated workers of this ministry. Brad Pope takes the lead with several adults to make sure this ministry is exciting and fun for the 50+ children there each week.

It is great to see the newly developed Sunday School with my wife Sharron teaching the kindergarten class, Polly Barwick teaching the first and second graders and Lisa Mayfield teaching the third, fourth and fifth graders.

The addition to Kids Check is going to enhance our ministry even more.

Tomorrow I continue in my teaching series of some of the red letter words of Jesus in the Bible.

I have on good authority that we are planning to begin our worship experience tomorrow with a great hymn of the church:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Happy Anniversary Wish

A HAPPY ANNIVERSARY wish to our daughter Stephanie and our son-in-law Josh. August 2, 2003 was one of the happiest days Sharron and I have have ever experienced. It was my privilege to walk my daughter down the isle and then stand beside Pastor Brian Trump as he pronounced Josh and Stephanie husband and wife.

Many changes have occurred since that beautiful day on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University. Josh and Stephanie are now the parents of two beautiful daughters. Sharron and I have relocated from our ministry position in Kansas to return home to North Carolina. It is a great life to see our children and their children on a regular basis.

I want to express my love to Josh and Stephanie and wish them a happy wedding anniversary!

You can read more about their life together on her outstanding blog

- Because of Love.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Five Major Trends for Churches in America

Five major trends for churches in America
by Thom Rainer 7/23/2010

Discerning future trends can be difficult if not risky. If we miss a trend, we risk missing opportunities because we had our resources directed elsewhere. I am thus careful when I do trend projections. I am especially careful when I am projecting trends that will have a direct impact on the churches in America.

The basis for the trends

The trends that follow were not created in a vacuum. Most the information is based on studies we have done at LifeWay Research. But much of this research provides us information and facts about today’s realities. It does not offer certitude for future trends. The process is analogous to weather forecasting. We can see all the ingredients that will likely cause a specific outcome. But those factors can change, so we can never say that we are 100 percent certain.

Five major trends

Because most of the research that is the basis for these trends was related to American demographics, we must not extend the projections beyond our nation’s borders. Nevertheless, it is possible that some of the research could have implications beyond American churches.

1. Our nation will see the emergence of the largest generational mission field in over a century. According to our current research, the Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, will have a very low Christian representation. Our estimates now are that only 15 percent are Christian. With a huge population of nearly 80 million, that means that nearly 70 million young people are not Christians.

2. The dominant attitude of this huge generation toward Christianity will be largely indifferent. Only 13 percent of the Millennials rank any type of spiritual matter as important to their lives. They are not angry at churches and Christians. They simply ignore us because they do not deem us as meaningful or relevant.

3. Senior adult ministries in churches will experience steep declines. As the large Baby Boomer generation moves into their older years, they will resist any suggestion that they are senior adults, no matter how senior they may be. Unfortunately, many churches are slow to adapt to new realities. If they do senior adult ministry the way they’ve always done it, it will be headed for failure.

4. The large Boomer generation will become more receptive to the gospel. Our data is anecdotal for now, but we are seeing indications that the Boomers may actually become more interested in spiritual matters in general, and Christianity specifically. If so, this trend will be counter to other trends where adults tend to become less receptive to the gospel as they age. The Baby Boomers have tried it all and found no joy. They may likely turn to the hope of the gospel.

5. Family will be a key value for both of the large generations. For the Millennials, family is their most important value. Nearly 8 out of 10 Millennials ranked family as the important issue in their lives. They told us that they had healthy relationships with their parents who, for the most part, are Baby Boomers. Some churches say they are family friendly, but few actually demonstrate that value. Churches that reach both of these generations will make significant changes to become the type of churches that foster healthy family relationships,

The opportunity to respond

We believe these trends may indeed become reality. They admittedly do focus only on two generations, but these two groups are the largest two generations in America’s history. They cannot be ignored.

Trend projecting is a meaningless exercise if it fails to engender action. Ultimately each local church must determine where God is leading the congregation. In the case of the five trends noted here, the opportunities seem significant. May the response of Christians and churches be nothing less than radical obedience.


Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, and for 15 years prior to that led a church and denominational consulting firm. He is the author of 22 books, including his latest, Transformational Church.