Monday, June 30, 2008

It was a wonderful Sunday...

Our service on Sunday was great. It was so refreshing to see people enter INTO the presence of God. Just knowing He is always there.... and yet sometimes we still do not meet with Him... is so sad. But this week, it was a great day, when people were drawn into God's presence! Wow.

A recap of music for the day:
Opener: I'm So Glad Jesus Lifted Me (a bright and peppy hymn)

Set 1:
I Could Sing of Your Love Forever
In Moments Like These
O How I Love Jesus (hymn)

Set 2:
Dwelling Places
Jesus, Lord To Me

When our new pastor came almost a year ago, he began to incorporate scripture readings from the OT and NT as well as a Psalm for all our services, apart from His message scripture. Although I LOVED that there was more of the Word being shared, having it between the two sets of music seemed to "stop" things. What was I to do?

Well this week, my awesome pastor sent me to a music conference. I confess it was out of my comfort zone, as it was primarily Catholic and dealt a lot with the mass and liturgy, etc. But WOW was I surprised and amazed at how passionate this group of people were about WORSHIP in their services. You know we do much of the same thing, we just call it by another name. Anyway, long story short, the idea of continueing to play softly during the reading popped into my head. (So simple, why didn't I think of that a year ago.) As well as have my readers ready to come forward w/out introduction or anything, and to have them read "passionately".

One of the speakers at the conference, John Angotti, made a statement that made me think. When we are reading in our services, we need to remember, that we are reading the very words that are "God Breathed". It is HIS voice we should hear (or think we hear) when the scripture is being read. And those who read, need to read it with emotion and feeling with understanding of what they are sharing. Easy concept, let's see if it works.

So Saturday night, I called my readers for the day, shared with them my thoughts, and off we go. Wonderful, amazing, awesome... it worked. The congregation was carried from worship in music, into worship with the Word, and back into worship in music. It flowed beautiful. THANKS BE TO GOD, FOR GIVING ME SOME GUIDANCE WHEN I REALLY NEEDED IT!

I give Him praise and glory, for being so sweet and wonderful to us and giving us a Sunday of much needed time in HIS presence. And I'm so glad I was able to help in some way!

Being a worship leader is sometimes hard!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's so great about dying?

Our lesson for today's SS was on dying and what happens when we do. I had all my students think about what they wanted to accomplish in the next 60 years. They got all excited talking about it (funny too). Then I said ok, now your dead, write your own obituary. I think I scared them!

So, our Life Point today is this: God promises eternal life to those who have a personal relationship with Jesus. That assurance gives Christ-followers (love that name) hope for the future and drives the to live PASSIONATELY in the present!

Of course when we think of talking about death in the Bible... other than Jesus, who is "first" popping into your mind? Lazarus of course! I am so amazed by this story, so many things about it just reaches out and grabs my heart.

I'm amazed that Jesus knew He would have to do amazing things to show His power for people to truly grasp who He was.

We can think of all the questions Lazarus' sisters and family asked... Why did he die? Why didn't you come quicker Jesus? Why does there have to be so much suffering? Or our question today, like: Why did my grandmother die from cancer? Why did I loose a child before birth? Why do we suffer, and it seems God is not there?

God is all powerful, and all knowing, but he didn't make us bulletproof. In fact we are all terminal right now. No matter what amazing things He did for Lazarus, one day he still died. One day, we will too. The AWESOME THING about dying, well that is easy, Jesus has promised us life after death with Him. But that can't happen for those who are spiritually dead. Jesus can not save us from that.... unless we ask!

Some people are so afraid of "dying" they can't even live. Of course God gives us common sense to make good decisions about life, and health, etc., but we can't worry so much about someday dying that we forget to live now. Jesus sates in John 10 that Saten is the theif of life, but that He offers a better life than ever dreamed possible.

Missionary Jim Elliot, who was murdered, made this statement in his journal, "He is no fool, he who gives that which he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot lose." Did you get that. He is simply saying, we give up that in life that we know we can never truly keep (our life), to gain what we can not lose (our life).

God's power over death is amazing. Jesus our savior died and rose, and lives. Although we may give our lives for Him, we will live again, just as He promised. There is no "death" in our spirit, if we are sold out to Him. What a great way to live life. No matter what... in death... those who love and serve Him will live forever. Amazing!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Short Post...

Sunday night, our youth conducted the service. Each of them shared in some way, my daughter Macaylin spoke before showing a video she had made to the song " In Me ". One of the lines was her main "thought", which is "How refreshing to know You don't need me, How amazing to find that You want me".

That one line touched me deeply, because I know that God doesn't "need" me. But oh how He wants me! He wants to love me and to give me His best. Why? Because I am His child. I am His princess. He longs to give me good things. I'm so thankful that He wants me on my good days and my bad.

"In Me"

If you ask me to leap
Out of my boat on the crashing waves
If You ask me to go
Preach to the lost world that Jesus saves

I'll go, but I cannot go alone
Cause I know I'm nothing on my own
But the power of Christ in me makes me strong
Makes me strong

Cause when I'm weak, You make me strong
When I'm blind, You shine Your light on me
Cause I'll never get by living on my own ability
How refreshing to know You don't need me
How amazing to find that you want me
So I'll stand on Your truth, and I'll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory, by the power of Christ in me

If You ask me to run
And carry Your light into foreign land
If You ask me to fight
Deliver Your people from Satan's hand

To reach out with Your hands
To learn through Your eyes
To love with the love of a savior
To feel with Your heart
And to think with Your mind
I'd give my last breath for Your glory

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Great Is Our God....

You must watch this video... It is beyond amazing.

How great is our God,
Sing with me
How great is our God,
How great, How great,
Is Our God

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Knowing Who Christ ReallyIs Pt. 2

Today we are going to explore more on this thought, in KNOWING the Real Christ. When Christ spoke the words in John 14:15, If you love me, YOU WILL keep my commandments, His thoughts were possibly, if you love me, because you love me, I know that you WILL keep my commandments.

We can see this when re remember the scene that took place in the Upper Room, just before Christ’s death. Jesus is beginning to comfort the disciples and to prepare them for His departure. It is a sacred time of tenderness and compassion between the Savior and His closest friends. Jesus is reassuring His followers and giving them a list of promises to which they can cling too.
He has promised them that His father’s house had many rooms and He was going there to prepare a place. He also promised them that He will come back and take them with Him. He promised that they would do EVEN GREATER things, because He was going to the Father. He promise the disciples (and now us) that “If you love me, YOU WILL, keep my commandments.” It is a promise.

I truly had never thought of serving God in this way. Not to stress and worry about NOT doing this or that, but just LOVING HIM SO MUCH, BEING SO WRAPPED UP IN HIS PRESENCE, that it really wasn’t a choice, I just WOULD keep His commandments. What an experience of freedom, and hope, and peace. What a relief!

This very verse, was meant to bring us reassurance and blessing and security to our heart. He is saying, because we have a love relationship with one another, you will keep my commandments, that is a promise, it will happen. Wow. Isn’t that amazing!

THE REAL CHRIST IS NOT INSPECTING, DISAPPOINTED, OR DISTANT. He is excited to love us, and longs for us to share His love.

In Psalm 36:9 it says “In your light we see light”. As our view of God is reshaped, and the view of those who come into our church lost and alone is reshaped, we can look beyond our human experiences and our life events and see the light that only He can give. God reveals His true identity through:

The Light of God’s Son. – we experience His love, we experience one source of His transforming light. When we have seen the real Jesus, we have seen the real God.

The Light of God’s Word – when we walk in the light of God’s Word, we see the second transforming light (power). Psalm 119 says His Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. As we experience His Words, we are drawn into a deeper relationship with Him. We find His Word is living and active, and brings transformations as we encounter Him.

The Light of God’s People – the third source of light. Christ reminds us that we are the “light of the world”; and as we love one another, His love is perfected in us. Through loving other’s we are able to see the real God more clearly.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Short notes from our SS lesson this week....

Just because it is too good not to share.

Theme for this week: Jesus: Prophet, Priest, King or Homeboy? (ok it is a youth study)

Jesus is not just a popular religious leader; He is fully God and fully man. Jesus came as a Prophet, Priest, and King to rescue us and restore our relationship with God.

Unfortuneately, our "free thinking" system prized by our western culture has left everyone free to understand Jesus in whatever "way" they see fit; right or wrong.

The question: Who do you think He is? The Bible is the only source to find the truth vs. opinion.

Knowing who He is:

a. There is a difference between "knowing about" someone and really "knowing" Him
b. In Jesus' day many thought He was a reincarnated prophet or spokesman for God
c. God revealed the truth to Peter (Matthew 16:16-17)
d. Jesus is more than fully man; He is also fully God
e. Jesus was the Ultimate Prophet: He spoke absolute truth as God Himself

Why it matters:

a. Peter and Jesus Himself affirmed that He is the long awaited Messiah, the Christ, the "anointed one" sent by God to rescue humanity
b. Jesus didn't fit the popular view of His day of what the Messiah would be like
c. Peter's declaration positioned Jesus as the ONE - the only One - who could rescue us from sin and death
d. Jesus was the exact representation of God the Father because Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30)

To limit Jesus in any way is to not truly understand who He is: fully man and fully God.

What an amazing thing to realize!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Loving The Real God

When did you come to know Christ? When did your relationship begin?

Would you say that you now really know Him? Are you close to Him? Do you share times of intimacy and heartfelt love with Him?

Imagine after all the disciples had been through with Christ, all they had experienced, even down to the very night they shared in the last supper, that perhaps they didn’t really know Him. Even during those last few moments with them, there was a disagreement of who was the greatest in the Kingdom, and there in His midst sat the very one who would complete terms of betrayal of Jesus. Jesus had a question for them..“Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known me…” (John 14:9)

How does that make you feel, to think of all that the disciples had shared with Him, that they may not have really known him?
Can we possibly be open to the thought, that we much like the disciples – may not know who Christ really is? Can we entertain the thought that we may have a hindered view of who Christ really is?

I have never really considered my view of Christ until the conference that we went to a few weeks ago. I was moved deeply as these concepts and ideas were shared.

I’d never really realized as in Psalms 139:3 that God was intimately acquainted with all my ways.

I have never really viewed Christ as one who took great delight in me and that would rejoice with singing! Zephaniah 3:17

Imagine the expression that was on the face of Jesus as you woke up this morning. In your mind’s eye, picture His kind, gentle eyes and warm and tender smile. Imagine that as you awoke God looked down and smiled at YOU, His precious child. With joy in His heart, He announced “I am looking forward to sharing the day with you!”. The real God, who knows you intimately, could not wait to care for you today. The creator of the universe, who knows every hair upon your head and sees every tear that you cry, cannot wait to show you how much He loves you. The holy God of heaven knows your darkest secrets and deepest failures; yet because of His relationship with you, He longs to show you grace. (Isaiah 30:8)

Our view of God impacts every aspect of our Christian faith. Every part of our spiritual journey is either hindered or empowered by our view of Him.
Our view of God will hinder or empower:
Our love for Him – our worship, prayer life can become more of a duty or obligation than true and intimate fellowship and love. If we do not see the real God, our relationship with Him will have very little impact on our lives.

Our ability to experience His Word – every sermon and lesson is filtered through our concept of God, and any distorted view of Him chokes out the impact of the Word on our heart,

Our love of other people – if we cannot see the real God who is so loving, our ability to demonstrate love to others will be hindered. But if we see God as who he is, His love will empower us with an excited love for others. (It is easier for me to be critical and see the sin in other’s because of my view of God. It was part of my job to show them how they are wrong, instead of guiding them towards loving Him so much, that they saw for themselves a need to change in order to love HIM more)

Our heart for evangelism – if we cannot see the real God, our message to an unbelieving world may be characterized by irrelevance (there’s that word again). We may struggle with being a living epistle of His life and love, focusing more on sharing the Gospel than actually imparting it through examples in our life. If we cannot see the real God, we may also struggle to look beyond the sin of others to see their needs.

Assessing Our View of God

Throughout this study we will be challenged to asses our view of God, taking a careful look at how we see Him and how we interpret His character towards us.

Many of us may never have even considered our views of God. We have believed certain things about Him and have never questioned them or been challenged with an alternative. I would like for you to consider the possibility that your view of God might not be consistent with who He really is.

Is your God an:

Inspecting God – conveying everything is a test to be passed or measurement to be taken?

Disappointed God – the kind with His arms crossed shaking His head, that any mistake (sin) is that you did not REALLY love Him?

Or a Distant God – listens to us with only one ear, isn’t really concerned as much with you as someone else?

I realized that I saw God very much like and inspecting and disappointed God. Like every time I failed, I went back to the beginning again. My view of Him watching just to see when I messed up somehow, made me critical of myself, the church, and others. I am so thankful, that I am beginning to see Him as who He really is! It is such an amazing thing!

In my next post, we will look at Knowing the REAL Christ.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Let's take a look...

the church in the book of Acts. The early church had several important characteristics.

Let's take a look at these and ask some questions:

*Which of these are most true of my life?
*Which ones may need to be restored in my life?
*Which of these are most true of my ministry?
*Which ones may need to be restored in my ministry?

So here we go: The early church as recorded in Acts were:

~Devoted to teaching the Word of God (Acts 2:42)
~Devoted to fellowship with other believers (v42)
~Devoted to the breaking of bread together (v42)
~Devoted to prayer (v42)
~They had a reputation for UNITY (v44)
~They were generous toward those in need (v44)
~Others took note that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13)
~Willing to speak the Word of God with boldness (v 31)
~Of one heart and mind (v 32)
~Gave witness of Christ with great power as abundant grace was upon them (33)
~People held them in high esteem (Acts 5:13)
~Through Spirit-prompted ministry, multitudes of men and women were constantly being added to the kingdom (v14)
~They rejoiced at being considered worthy to suffer shame in Jesus name (41)

That is a lot to think about. Perhaps God has prompted you to realize some changes. My prayer is to be changed! How about you?

Later tonight, I'll post on the next chapter of this wonderful book. Loving the Real God: Our Foundation of Christology . I have to say this chapter and the sharing of it during our retreat weeks go was LIFE CHANGING for me.

Note: You can find out more about the series Relational Foundations and much more at