Saturday, August 31, 2013

Preparing for Worship on Sunday- September 1, 2013

I am very excited about the message God has laid upon my heart for this coming Sunday.  I realize it is a holiday weekend and many people may be out of town or away - but I am also sure that god will bring many visitors to our church this Sunday.  I am continuing in the teaching series from the book of 1 John.  As I began my study to condensed study of Chapter 3 I was overwhelmed by the truths of this passage.  I plan to walk us through every verse of this chapter.  Get ready for a power packed, Spirit energized, full volume sermon this Sunday.

I invite you to join us with an open heart, thirsty soul and prepared to worship the Lord and be prepared to present a generous over sized financial offering to the Lord.

Here is the order of worship we have planned....

We now pause for a season of pray and a time of communion with the Lord and the body of Christ.

A few moments for announcements about or growing ministry and opportunities to serve.

Now the message of the day from 1 John  Chapter 3.

1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters,if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Alyse and Breeley visit this week.

This summer I have tried to keep up with my exercise plan to play golf a few times each month.  The weather has been awesome this summer for golf in North Carolina.  Over the past few weeks my grand daughter Alyse has asked when she can play golf with me.  

Earlier this week Sharron and I were in Charlotte to celebrate our son-in-law's birthday. We brought Alyse and Breeley back to Raleigh with us and they are visiting this week.  We stopped at a golf shop in Southern Pines this past Monday and I was able to purchase a PGA approved used junior driver.  Sharron and I then planned out the week as I would be working each day in the office and then take some time to be with our grand children. My week has been filled with meetings, counseling appointments and pastoral responsibilities.

I have also squeezed out some time for fun with Alyse and Breeley. On Tuesday we took
the girls to Pullen Park here in Raleigh.  It is only 2.5 miles from our house. Here are some pictures from that day:

Breeley loved the swings....

Sisters always have to "race" down the slides.

The boat ride was refreshing.

Alyse's First Golf Outing

On Wednesday we took a couple of hours to finally play golf.  It began with a short but fun lesson to help Alyse learn to play.  She practiced her stance and over a dozen whiffle balls.

She posed for a picture with her club.

On the course I asked Alyse to hold the flag when I was on the putting surface.
She loves her new ladies golf hat - even though it is a little big for her....

She really seemed to enjoy riding in the cart - she just hated to wait for the foursome in front of us.  

She stood on the putting surface with authority.

As we approached the fifth hole I asked if we should play 9 or 18 holes. She quickly responded, "18!"  As we approached the ninth hole I asked how she was doing. She responded, "Papa, it's so hot, I am melting....."  We ended our first golf outing after nine holes.  Here is the final picture on the course after a fun time:

On Thursday evening (last night) we joined some close friends for dinner at Cracker Barrel.  Following the meal and the visit to the toy area, we took a few pictures:
When we returned home it was time for Breeley to go to bed and Alyse to come downstairs for a time with Papa.  This is a moment we share almost every evening.  Tonight it consisted of cookie and cream ice cream with sliced almonds and chocolate syrup.

This visit is so special with the girls.  But guess who I miss and wish was here?
Cammie is now weighing in at 5 lbs. 11 oz. ! 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Good O Meter

Be special request.... here is the clip I used as part of my message last Sunday.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bringing our prayer to God this evening.

As we prepare for a time of prayer this evening at NRN I am aware of several request.  My heart is heavy for several situations.  I know that God is in control and I join with others this evening in faith -offering our praise unto God and bringing to Him the request He is already aware of.

Here is an intro. for our prayer this evening:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Congratualtions to Dr. Greg Mason as the new DS for North Carolina Nazarenes.

General Superintendent David A. Busic announced the appointment of Gregory D. Mason as the new superintendent of the North Carolina District

Mason will replace J. Mark Barnes, who is retiring after leading the district for 17 years.
For the past seven years, Mason served as superintendent of the Louisiana and Mississippi districts. He previously pastored for 26 years in Minong, Wisconsin; Baraboo, Wisconsin; Georgetown, Kentucky; and Pekin, Illinois.

Mason also serves on the Board of Trustees at Southern Nazarene University and Trevecca Nazarene University. He previously served as a Board of Trustee member at Olivet Nazarene University and as a District Advisory Board member for the Kentucky and Northwestern Illinois districts.

A 1976 graduate Mount Vernon Nazarene College (now University), Mason received a Bachelor of Arts in business administration. Last year, Trevecca Nazarene University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity.

Greg and Elaine Mason currently reside in Clinton, Mississippi.

"I am always humbled when the church offers me a place to serve," Mason said. "I often find myself praying, 'God, make me worthy of your calling.' It has been a blessing to have served the great Louisiana and Mississippi districts these past seven and a half years. We are most thankful for 22 new churches planted during our tenure. As we move to North Carolina, we look forward to working with a great team of pastors and lay leaders. We are honored to follow in the legacy of Dr. J. Mark Barnes and his lovely wife, Lucy."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Beware of rattlesnake bites

I have been mentoring a pastor during a time of restoration.  We have been meeting for many weeks as I have been sharing with him.  Here is a recent story that I shared with him:


A man who had been bitten by a rattlesnake was rushed to the hospital. When he asked the doctor, “Is it life-threatening?” the doctor said, “the bite isn’t, but the poison is.”

The “bites” you suffer at the hands of others are painful and upsetting, but they’re not lethal. What happens to you normally doesn’t destroy you, but what happens in you afterwards can. Like venom, bitterness first poisons your mind, then your relationships. It causes you to replay the hurt until it controls you, stealing the future God planned for you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can overcome bitterness. God says, “Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others.” And what God commands, He will give you the grace to do. When Peter asked Jesus, “Should I forgive my brother seven times?” Jesus said, “No, you must forgive him seventy times seven” (See Matthew 18:21-22).       In other words, “Forgive, and keep on forgiving until it no longer bothers you.”

What causes bitterness:  Anger that’s allowed to take residence in your thought-life.  God’s purpose for anger is to motivate you to tap into His power for solving problems; otherwise they become permanent. Solving the problem resolves and relieves your anger.

But anger can become long-term bitterness when you fixate on “who did it to me,” making you hostile, critical blaming and punitive. You say, “Can I really stop my anger?” Yes, with God’s help you can control your reactions and behaviors,, and stare your anger to death. “The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Reflection from the message today at NRN

What Makes for an "Authentic" Christian?
By: Greg Laurie

Let's take a look at five earmarks of authentic Christianity, taken from 1 John.

First, an authentic Christian confesses Jesus Christ as Lord (1 John 4:15). Christianity must begin with a verbal acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life. The Bible says that even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19). True Christians should be able to say that Jesus Christ is their Lord.

Second, if you are a true Christian, you will be unhappy or miserable when you're sinning  (1 John 3:9). This doesn't mean you will never sin if you are a Christian (1 John 1:8). But there is a difference between recognizing that we will fail in some way, shape, or form in the future and going on a willful, continual track of sin. If you really are a child of God, you will have a sense of discomfort when you sin, because you know in your heart of hearts that what you are doing is wrong.

Third, an authentic Christian enjoys fellowship with other believers (1 John 5:1). A true Christian will want to be around other Christians. Those who isolate themselves from other believers do so at their own peril, because the Bible tells us that it is important to get together, encourage one another, and correct one another (Hebrews 10:24-25). After all, why should God go to your house if you won't go to His? A lot of us want all of the fringe benefits of Christianity without applying ourselves.

Fourth, an authentic Christian obeys the commands of Jesus Christ. If you are a true believer, then you will obey the commands of Jesus Christ (1 John 5:3). I will not deny that the Bible is filled with so-called rules, but their purpose is not to make our lives miserable. Rather, they protect us from potential harm. The person who blatantly and continually breaks the commandments of God simply does not know Him.

Finally, an authentic Christian loves and obeys the Word of God (1 John 2:5). You cannot effectively live the Christian life without a love for, and obedience to, God's Word. All true disciples of Jesus Christ will be students of Scripture and will walk according to its teaching. This is vital to authentic Christian living, because the Bible is indeed the very textbook of life (2 Timothy 3:16). Yet so many believers will not read the Bible. They don't realize that success or failure in the Christian life depends on how much of the Bible they get into their hearts and minds on a regular basis. We have to do it.

Taken from "Authentic Christianity" (used by permission).
As the summer months come to a close we join with many churches around the country facing financial pressure.  We are calling our people to walk in faith and help meet the need.  We are also crying out to God in prayer for the financial need to be met in order for our ministry to go forward and we can fulfill our true purpose as a church.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Preparing for worship on Sunday August 25 - Sunday Set List

Tomorrow is going to be an awesome time together at NRN!  I am very excited about our time of worship and the message God has placed upon my heart.  I hope as you read this and sing along in a few moments to the songs we have selected for tomorrow - that God will speak to your heart.  Why not take a moment to call that person God is speaking to you about and invite them to join you tomorrow at NRN.  Maybe you should call someone who you have not seen at church recently and let them know you miss them and encourage them to join you tomorrow.

Pray about the offering you are preparing to bring tomorrow.  We desire a moving of God's Spirit upon us and a wow moment as we present our offering to the Lord.

We begin with a warm welcome as we prepare our hearts for a time of worship.  Then we lift our voices in praise to our Great God!

Now we pause to go to the Lord in prayer.   " Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6)

Now it is time to place action behind our spirit of worship. 

When we give our tithes and offerings, we aren't giving away our own possessions, but offering back to God what is already His.

The word tithe literally means a tenth and is a Christian practice of giving one-tenth of your earnings to the church. Tithing can be a difficult thing, especially when cash is tight. When most people consider tithing they look at their finances and make decisions based on what they feel capable of giving. How do you view your finances? Are they a blessing from God or something you did to deserve all by yourself?

Even though tithing can be a difficult thing to do, this video illustration helps give some perspective to the absurdity of not tithing. The real issue with tithing isn't about you giving 10% back to God; it's about God giving us 90%. We are actually offering back to God what is already His in the first place.

Tithing is a blessing from God that actually increases our own generosity and frees us from the bondage of believing the lie of the American Dream.

Now - Hear the Word of the LORD.....

Friday, August 23, 2013

Preparing for this coming Sunday's message.

I am very excited about this coming Sunday as I continue in the current teaching series:

A Study from the Book of 1 John
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 
 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.  They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.  Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist--he denies the Father and the Son.   
No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is what he promised us--even eternal life.                                                                                                         1 John 2:15-25
It is very easy, even when you have made the decision to follow Christ, even when you know that Christ is your Savior, for your love for God to get perverted and redirected into other areas of your life. In this message we will look at the key to keeping our love for God pure and undivided.
Check back tomorrow morning for the worship set we have planned.... including a new song for the family at NRN. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The 7 Most Frustrating things that pastors experience

Yesterday was so full of pastoral responsibilities I was unable to post a blog.  As I took some time to refresh I read a blog post from a pastor that I love to read.  I have his permission to repost. Hope you find this helpful:

I received this question on my blog recently.

Ron – What do you think are some of the most frustrating things that pastors experience?

Great question.   I’m sure, like most jobs, there are frustrating things that happen while doing the best you know to do. Leadership deals with people. Different people. There can always be frustrations dealing with people different from us. Even people who love each other can be frustrated by each other.
But, the question was “most frustrating”. I had to think about that question.
I should first mention that I love the local church. (I shouldn’t have to mention it, but I do.) I believe the church is the hope for the world. I am a proponent of the local, Bible-believing church. We are filled with imperfect people, but our mission is God-inspired, God-given and to be God-glorifying.

Here’s my reply:
People who abuse power or position – It always bothers me, but even more so when it happens in the church. That includes, of course, the pastor. Ultimately, we are to follow Christ, but sometimes we can let positions and power get in the way of humility and obedience.

People who live dual lives – Hypocrisy. One church face and one community face. Frustrating. It gives the church a bad name. Many of my unchurched friends won’t come to church because they know someone who comes to church already. And, they aren’t impressed.

Rumors - that spread with no basis of truth. (And, yes, it happens…often)

Selfishness – People who want what they want, even at the expense and inconvenience of others. Who will allow their personal preference to interfere with carrying out the ultimate mission of the church. Doesn’t sound very Biblical to me.

Tradition – I’m not against tradition per se. I like meeting at a set time every week, for example. I love getting gifts at Christmas. I get frustrated with tradition that is adhered to only because of tradition even thought it gets in the way of making disciples.

Time wasters – I’m on a mission. I have a keen sense that time is short and moves faster than I can fathom. I don’t want to waste precious Kingdom time debating issues that simply don’t matter.

Half-heartedness – Perhaps I got this one from Jesus. He called it lukewarm. I sense it when the Spirit of God is obviously active in the room, but so many look at me as if it’s a typical Sunday. I realize sometimes this is cultural or worship style preference. I’m okay when it’s that. It is frustrating when it’s a matter of immaturity of heart, especially when someone has been in the church for many years, but hasn’t grown deeper and more passionately in love with Christ. Some days I wish we were a ballgame. With bleachers. And a favorite team. Then they’d get excited.

So, that’s my honest list.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Preparing for prayer this evening..."Thy Phone Prayer"

This evening at 6:30 Sharron and I plan to meet with a group of people at our church to pray.  We will discuss a few issues about life - probably laugh together.  Then we will begin to state our prayer request.  Soon after, we will begin to pray.  It is an awesome time to gather with others for prayer.

When was the last time you gathered with a small group and felt the presence of the Lord in a time of prayer?   If you live in the Raleigh area - why not join us this evening?

Here is a little primer about prayer:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A few more stolen pictures of Cammie Lyn

Tonight I realized I did not post on my blog this morning.  The day has been filled with ministry responsibilities.  I decided to take a few moments and reflect on several blessings from God.  Cammie Lyn recently celebrated her one month birthday.  I had the opportunity to hold her for an extended time last week and enjoy a conversation with her mom. Here are a few more pictures I have "stolen" from Stephanie:

This is Cammie Lyn's One Month Old picture
This is Cammie Lyn on her first day at church - August 4, 2013

This is a most recent picture of a sleeping and content Cammie Lyn.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I am a Washington Redskins Fan

I am so ready for the 2013 NFL Football Season to begin. Since a small child I have been a fan of the Washington Redskins.   Last year was an awesome season for the team:

Tonight at 8:00pm they face the Pittsburg Steelers in a pre-season game.  Training Camp has ended and the team is preparing for another great season.  I really look forward to watching the team on Monday Night Football on September 9 as they face the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Reflection of my message today at NRN - Loving Obedience

Today was a wonderful day at NRN.  Here is a short reflection of my message today:

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.            1 John 1:6-7

 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.                                                                                    Ephesians 5:8-11

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.     1 John 2:3-6


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Preparing for Worship at NRN on August 18, 2013

I am praying for an awesome worship tomorrow at NRN.  I look forward to sharing my second message in the current teaching series:

A study from the book of 1 John
As we prepare for worship tomorrow here is the current worship set. 
Each Sunday on top of our order of worship is this statement:
We make our plans, but God has the last word...
We will begin with a countdown followed by a welcome clip.  Then the music begins and we will fill the Worship Center with songs of worship and praise:


We will extend a warm welcome to everyone present and commit this time to the Lord in prayer.

Now we express our Lord for the Lord in song:

We will bring our prayers of intercession and petitions with gratitude and thanksgiving.  We will pause to consider the importance of our faithfulness in giving to the Lord.  God is not interested in our money.  He is interested in US. God cares for us so much that He provides for us and meets our needs.  We need to be found faithful as stewards of what God has entrusted to us. I am praying for a miracle tomorrow at NRN.  We need an large offering to meet our financial needs for the coming week.  I am praying very specifically and look forward to expressing my praise for answered prayer and the faithfulness of God's people. 

Here is a preview of the message for tomorrow:

Love, obedience, honesty, and intimacy are tied together.  A love relationship between two persons obliges each one to another to obey relationship boundaries and obey moral boundaries on self.  When the boundaries are observed, intimacy grows. Honesty is one of those obligations. GOD acted on HIS obligations to us through HIS incarnation, death, and resurrection.  Suffering is an obligation of love.  If you want your intimacy with GOD to grow, pursue obedience to HIM earnestly and honestly.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.      1 John 1:5
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.       John 1:4-5

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My prayer for you today...

Tonight at 6:30 we gather for prayer at NRN. 

Perhaps you are going through a very difficult time at the moment, the Lord is saying to you, "Dear child, peace be still."  If your soul is troubled and things seem to be working against you, the Lord is saying to you, "Peace, be still." If your heart is broken and you are going through disappointments, the Lord is saying, "Peace, be still." If you are tired, don't know what to do and you feel like packing it in, the Lord is saying, "Dear child, peace, be still, peace, be are not forsaken, I am with you" 
My prayer for you today is in Psalm 3,
"LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
"There is no help for him in God."
But You, O LORD, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head."
When you are troubled on every side and you feel you are under attack.  When many rise up against you at work, in your home, amongst friends or wherever else, and when many are thinking negative thoughts towards you, thinking you will never find help in your situation. I pray that the Lord will be a shield for you. He will be the glory and the lifter of your head.  I pray the Lord will save you from all those who persecute you and deliver you. I pray you will cry to the Lord with your voice and He will hear you from His holy hill.
When you lay down and sleep, and you feel restless, anxious, worried and panicky; when your soul is troubled within you, I pray that the Lord will sustain you.  I pray you will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against you all around.  I pray that the workers of iniquity will depart from you and that the Lord will hear the voice of your weeping.  I pray that the Lord will hear the voice of your supplication and He will receive your prayers. I pray the wickedness of the wicked will come to an end and that you will find peace in all aspects of your life.
The Lord says He will defend you, He will fight for you and He will justify you, if you only put your trust in Him.  Your defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart.
May the Lord be a refuge for you; a refuge in times of trouble.  May He be your defense.  The Bible says in Psalm 9 vs. 12, "He does not forget the cry of the humble."  I pray that the Lord will not forget your cry.  He will answer you, He will have mercy on you.  He will consider your trouble and lift you up from the gates of death, that you may tell of His praise.  I pray that the Lord shall keep and preserve your soul. 
May the Lord give you counsel and your heart be glad.  May He instruct you in the night seasons and show you the path of life.
May the Lord keep you as the apple of His eye and hide you under the shadow of His wings, from the wicked who oppress you and from your enemies who surround you. May the Lord draw you out of many waters.  May He be your support and bring you out into a broad place. May the Lord deliver you and arm you with strength.  May He lift you up above those who rise against you and give you peace as you obey His word in Jesus Name I pray. Amen.
Be encouraged :-)
 (Written by Freda Lade-Ajumobi. All rights reserved. Copyright 2013)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taste your words

This past week I was in a meeting where people began to criticize each other and provoke one another into anger.  It is always a good idea to follow the counsel of the message below:

Monday, August 12, 2013

25 ways to start living

I recently read this post from a good friend.  As we begin this new week I think it carries a good message. O. J. Philpot, once shared the following 25 ways to start living.  I appreciated this thoughts, and pass them along to you hoping they will inspire you as they did me:

1.  Seek out a forgotten friend.
2.  Help mend a quarrel.
3.  Put new trust in someone you have had difficulty trusting before.
4.  Encourage someone younger than you.
5.  Gift a soft answer to someone who is harsh to you.
6.  Write someone a kind letter
7.  Share a special "treasure" with someone.
8.  Keep a promise you have made.
9.  Forgive an enemy, and let him/her know you have forgiven.
10.  Take time to do one of those important things you have been putting off.
11.  Take time to listen to someone's sorrows.
12.  Say "I am sorry" when you are wrong.
13.  Think of someone else instead of yourself.
14.  Show appreciation
15.  Be kind, gentle and thoughtful.
16.  Laugh.  Don't take yourself too seriously.
17.  Express your gratitude -- be thankful.
18.  Gladden the heart of a child.
19.  Go to church and worship God.
20.  Don't be cross with people.
21.  Let your love show.
22.  Sing, sing, sing.
23.  Examine yourself and the demands you make on others.
24.  Do something you know you should, but is extra hard to do.
25.  Do your best to move beyond yourself into loving service for others.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Reflections from worship on Sunday August 11 2013 - Choose zoe-life over psuche-life

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.                                                 1 John 1:1

Anyone who loves their life* will lose it, while anyone who hates their life* in this world will keep it for eternal life**                                      John 12:25

*  Psuche

** Zoe

First John 1:1-4 is about eternal life.  John and the apostles were eye witnesses and testified Jesus is the Messenger of eternal life and Jesus is Eternal Life.  (John 12:25) 
 In John 12:25, two different Greek words are used for life.  Psuche is the day-to-day, up and down life everyone lives from birth to death.  Zoe aion is life eternal.  Joy in life does not come from the pursuit of psuche life.  Joy in this life is the by-product of pursuing zoe aion, of pursuing Jesus.  Zoe aion begins when you embrace it while living your psuche life.

Choose zoe-life over psuche-life.
[Our lives are full of day to day concerns:  Going to work; raising kids; Taking care of relationships; Houses. Cars; paying bills; dealing with injuries, sickness, and problems of all sorts.]  These are our psuche lives. We can attempt to protect them and preserve them and defend them at all costs. In so doing we will surely become anxious, fearful, selfish, and eventually even willing to hurt others. To such an extent that all the joy will be drained of our psuche lives.
Or, we can reorient our focus on the zoe life Jesus reveals to us, trusting Jesus that if we seek first his kingdom (which is just another way of speaking of eternal zoe), all of these psuche life things will cared for by God himself.

So work is no longer a matter of “how can I make the most money and get ahead the furthest and make my life better” but rather “how can I do this work in a way that pleases the God who will reward me with more zoe than I can possibly imagine.”
Raising kids is no longer a matter of “how can I give my kids the best possible psuche life and/or at the same time maximize my experience of psuche life while raising them” but rather “how can I help my kids know and experience zoe life while I trust God to provide for their psuche life.”
Taking care of relationships is no longer a matter of “how can make sure I am making everyone around me happy” but rather “how can I go to Jesus for living water so that I have a stream of living water welling up to eternal zoe in me for others to drink from.”
Or perhaps it’s no longer a matter of “how can I protect myself from harm in this relationship or that relationship” but rather “how can I repent or forgive or offer favor to repair damage that’s been done, knowing it might cost me psuche life, but gain me zoe life.”   And on and on.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Revised order of worship for Sunday August 11 2013

Today has been a full day of meetings this morning and I just returned from a hospital visit.  I am dealing with physical situation as I am fighting some side effects from a new medication I tired this week.  I just took the Benadryl to help with the hives.  I check my email to discover Pastor Jordan has made some great changes to the order of worship for tomorrow.  The youth worship team will be leading us in worship. So, here is a revised order of worship for Sunday August 11, 2013:

We will begin with a warm welcome and opening prayer - and then sing our praise to the Lord.

Now we begin to prepare our heart for a time of prayer and communion:

We come to the Table of the Lord with words of gratitude and thanksgiving.

As we bring our offerings and financial gifts to the Lord we worship the Lord with this song:

Now it is time for the Word of God from 1 John 1:1-4 as we being a new teaching series:

At the close of our worship we offer a benevolence offering to assist those in our church family with needs.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Some favorite pictures of Cammie -

This week I received 2 messages through Facebook from friends that I have not seen in several years.  They each asked a simple question:  How are you?  I thought I should respond with more than a simple response like "fine"; or even "better than I deserve".  I know that I am blessed!  

Sharron is down in Charlotte with family and have batched it all week here in Raleigh.  I just finished the laundry and thought I would take a moment to post a blog with new pictures of my grand daughter Cammie Lynley who was born on July 12th.  Enjoy the pictures:

Cammie has arrived!

A "first picture"

People keep asking "how big" is Cammie?


One of Papa's favorite pictures:


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why Is My Church Not Growing?

I am drawing a circle around an audacious prayer request about out church growth.  I am reading a powerful book on prayer and I am in prayer, trusting and believing that before the first snow falls in the Triangle area of NC this year, I will stand before over a congregation that averaged over 100 people in our Worship Center for Sunday worship.  Read about it here. Join me in this prayer and invite others to join you in church.  God is already at work.  My vision is increasing for our ministry.

Here is an article that peaked my interest:

Why Is My Church Not Growing? 
Question:  My church is not growing. People come but they do not stay. We’ve analyzed all the majors and feel we are doing what we should but they do not stay. Any thoughts please?
Response: I receive something similar almost weekly. I wish I had answers every time. I don’t. Most of the time I know many times they can’t afford a consultant (or don’t think they can, but should consider the investment), so I try to give them a few suggestions, in the limited time I have, to think through their issues.
Here is an expanded version of my typical answer:
It’s hard to diagnose here without more information. I do believe God wants the church to grow. We are to make disciples and part of discipleship is make more disciples. That in and of itself is growth.

A few quick comments first:
◦God is in charge of the numbers. People can disagree with me (and do) when I say I believe healthy churches are growing. Some grow in different ways. Some internally and some by raising up people who go outside the church to make disciples. Regardless of how growth occurs, all of us must agree God is ultimately in control.

◦The Holy Spirit grows people and therefore the church. We aren’t without responsibility in doing our part. We’ve been given an assignment to be a body with many parts, but we don’t ultimately grow people or churches.

◦Churches go through seasons, just as individual believers do. There are seasons we grow more than others and seasons we are simply maturing to grow later.

◦There are no cookie cutter answers. Just as God makes people unique, churches are unique because they are comprised of unique people.

With those clarifications, here are a few quick thoughts to help you discern your particular situation:

1. Do a survey of anyone who visited in the last year. Ask them why they stayed or didn’t stay. Ask them for ideas they have to improve a visitor’s experience. Ask them how they found the church. Be prepared for some hard answers, but you may discover things you aren’t seeing.

2. Do a church wide/or leadership wide half day brainstorming session, depending on the size of your church. You want enough people to have a wide range of ideas, but not so many that you never get anything accomplished. I’ve done this with 12 and I’ve done it with 100. That’s getting a little large, but you don’t want to exclude people who are genuinely concerned and want to help the church. I prefer people who have positive dispositions, but you need a range of thought. You might even bring someone in to facilitate this process. Many times there are answers in the room that come from collected thinking. Ask, why aren’t people staying and what can we do?

You may need to do a second half day, perhaps with a smaller group, to summarize and make conclusions from the feedback of the larger group. In my experience, you will produce some key thoughts from an exercise like this which will spur momentum, in addition to creating renewed energy among these key leaders. (But you’ll have to act on some of the suggestions.)

3. Pay a community member (or a professional consultant if you can afford it) to “secret shop” your church and give you honest feedback. You can often find someone to do this free of charge simply to help the church, but there are professionals who know what to look for in a church visit. Many times we can’t see what’s missing on our own.

The bottom line is that you’ll have to do something intentional to get the answers you don’t have. There are good church consultants out there if you want to take that step. Let me know if you want some names and contact information. But, keep asking the questions you’re asking. Our mission as a church hasn’t changed, but the culture around us is changing rapidly. We must continue to grow as church leaders in order to continue to make new disciples.

Praying for you.

How would you respond?

Posted from: Ron Edmondson:  Church planter and pastor with a heart for strategy, leadership and marketing; especially geared toward developing churches and growing and improving the Kingdom of God.