Wow, I have been absolutely terrible about posting. Where has the time gone? Well my August Peru trip was amazing. God has opened so many doors since then that I am just trying to keep up and stay out of His way. (more to come on that soon.)
I am returning to Peru earlier this year. Actually the trip is in 22 DAYS!!! Holy cow! I am super psyched about what is happening in the villages of Tapacocha, Cotaporacco and Allpacocha. The GOD certainly is alive and at work there. we have seen much growth physically and spiritually there. We believe our trip this year will be a little different than in the past as it will involve more equipping and discipling those believers already there. When we left in August they were so fired up for the Lord I can’t wait to see what He has done since our last visit. Please keep our team in prayer and I will try to keep you posted about new developments and the actual trip once we return. Thank you and God bless.
August 23rd – 30th 2013, I will be returning to Peru. I am so excited to be making this trip again. Last years trip changed my life forever and I can’t wait to see where God will lead our team this time, not just during the trip but afterwards too.
Once again, I have already seen Him at work all around me in my life and the other team members lives as well. Many people have stepped forward to pray for us all and to help out financially. It is always so amazing to see The Lord at work in people.
I am also excited to be working through a new program that will help us process and work through what God puts on our hearts with this trip. It is called “The Next Mile: Short Term Missions for the Long Haul.” You can check it out at http://www.thenextmile.org The program offers practical tools and training for Short-Term Mission experiences with emphasis on Post-Ministry Follow-Through.
I love their use of the phrase “Follow-Through” instead of follow-up. Follow-up implies a one time thing while follow-through is an ongoing, continuous thing.
If you or someone you know is planning any kind of short-term mission trip I highly recommend “The Next Mile” as part of their preparation before and during the trip but especially for after. As I have worked through the material I keep wishing I had discovered it last year to better help me process after my return but I guess He has His reasons for everything.
Thank you all again for your continued support financially and most important spiritually.
If you would like more information about our Peru mission trip or would like to see about joining us next year please contact me at email@example.com
Ok, here’s the thing, I hate to do what I am about to do. I know that’s a weird way to open a post but here it is.
I’m going back to Peru this year, August 17th – 24th. Going again really wasn’t a hard decision. When it comes down to it, Jesus laid out a pretty simple plan for us, didn’t He? Love God, love others. Nope, deciding to go was easy. Paying for it however, does present a bit of a challenge.
(Here comes the part I hate) I am seeking financial support to fund this trip. The Ridge Church is so committed to sending people on mission that they are paying up to 50% of the cost, for members, through their missions fund. Those of us going are responsible for the other 50% which comes to around $1,200. The truth is that I don’t like the idea of asking anyone for anything, especially money. I also feel weird sending out letters and posts pretending this is just the latest in a long chain of correspondence we’ve kept up oh these many years. But, I also don’t happen to have a spare $1,200 dollars just lying around.
Last year I went on this same trip. You can read about it here and here. At that time a lot of people were probably thinking “Rick is going on a mission trip? Really? Rick Phillips?!?” That’s a completely fair thought. Honestly, I kept thinking the same thing. Then I went and God really changed my life through the experience.
I know I’m not the first person people think of when it comes to loving on others. Plus, just like everyone else, I’m busy. My life is really intense right now and this is just not a good time to go on a mission trip. But I’m not sure if there is ever a “good time” to go on a mission trip. And I could probably come up with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I keep coming back to the one reason I should – Love God, love others.
Since my experience last year, I’ve been trying to live my life more “on mission”. I mean it’s easy to pray for people, but to really love the people who you live with, work with and encounter everyday is a challenge. This trip helped me to experience this in action, to see things more clearly and to see Christ’s love in action more clearly. This past year I’ve been trying to see my life as a mission field, not just that trip. And it’s been cool to see the way God has used this new approach to everything from the way I tip at restaurants to the way I treat people in traffic. But now, it’s time to take another leap of faith and go back.
So this is where you come in. Instead of selling my plasma 87 times, I’ve decided to ask for something I don’t usually ask for, money from people I don’t often write or talk to. It would be a real blessing if you could help financially support me on this mission trip. A little, a lot, any would be great. You can do this electronically through the options in the right hand column of this blog or by check made out to Rick Phillips sent to : 4998 Clayton Rd. Brookville, OH 45309. And if you want to know more about the trip, please let me know and maybe we can have lunch and discuss it (you may have to cut me off though, I have a tendency to go on about it.)
The one thing I have no problem asking for is for your prayers. Whether you can give or not I would truly appreciate it if you would pray about the trip. Not just for me, but for the others that will be going and for those we will be reaching out to. As much as God loves mission trips, other people don’t. There will be a whole host of obstacles that pop up and entangle themselves around our ankles as we prepare to go love the people of Peru. And knowing that you are praying would mean more than any and all of the financial support in the world.
Thanks for reading this rambling post, God bless you.
I have often heard the following statements, or something similar: “The church should provide for others, the church should help the poor and unfortunate, the church should be a safe haven for others, the church should teach about God’s word, the church needs to welcome people, the church needs to love people.” I’m sure you have a list of your own and have heard many other ideas of what the church should do. I have to say I COULDN’T AGREE MORE to most of these.
The problem lies in the definition of church. So here’s a little pop-quiz. I know I didn’t give you time to study, sorry. From the definitions of church below, taken from dictionary.com which would Jesus say is the correct answer:
a.) A building for public Christian worship.
b.) Public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
c.) The clerical profession or calling: After much study and contemplation, he was prepared to enter the church.
d.) The church is a body of believers.
Now let’s keep in mind that dictionary.com or anything else on the internet are not the best way to gather knowledge however this seems to be where we learn from these days. This information is a representation of what is being taught or what has already been learned in the world today. The dictionary people don’t just make this stuff up as they see fit. They poll people and research with “experts” to determine the best definition(s) possible. So, where did they get this from? US. We (followers of Christ) have allowed these definitions to creep in and define us. We have taken on these views and definitions of church. We have twisted and perverted church into something it is not supposed to be.
Before we go any further, let me be clear. I’m not talking about the way we worship on Sundays or any other time your body chooses to worship. That is not church. Church is not a “DO”. Church is a “BE”. We should BE church.
By the way, if you didn’t catch it yet d.) should have been the correct answer. A church is a body of believers. Yes, it’s that simple. Now a body is designed for motion or activity. What happens to a sedentary body? It gets fat and it grows weak. A body that is not doing what it is designed for eventually becomes ineffective.
So where do you fit here? Do you “DO” church on the weekends or when its convenient or are you the hands and feet of Jesus? Christ commands and commissions us in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” While the Bible never specifically says we are to be “hands and feet” it does does call us (followers of Christ, the church) to go out and preach the gospel and with the words “go into” comes action… and with action we use our hands and feet. If our “body” is in motion it is doing what it was designed to do.
So with the same thinking where does your “church” fall? Does your church “go into the world”? Does it “GO” anywhere other than into a building at the designated times of worship? Well if not you should leave, right? Well, don’t start packing your bags just yet. Remember we’re using the Biblical definition of church. So if you are a part of this body of believers, aren’t you in part responsible for it’s actions? I don’t mean responsible as in to blame for its inaction but responsible to the body to be a part of and facilitate action. The body is at fault, right? You are a part of the body, right? It starts with you. Please, please, please don’t just leave the church/body of which you are a part. See if you, as part of that body can enact change, if it needs to happen. Find other parts of your body to help out. Work together to figure out how to carry this out. If you start this others will come along, trust me. Now if you meet resistance from within and just can’t move things in the direction of Christ then and only then should you consider a move. Just because things aren’t happening your way is not a good reason to leave a body either. If there is movement and momentum and it is in the direction of Jesus, then join in and be a part.
You need to answer the call God has sent to you. What is the burden on your heart? How can you be an effective part of an effective body?
Well, first and foremost, prayer. You need to pray about what your particular piece of God’s “mission” is. Second, carry it out to the best of your ability. Third, pray more. Pray that God will work in you and through you, that He will use you beyond what you are capable of and into the realm of what He is capable of. I believe the results will be amazing.
Want to learn more about GOing with the body (The Ridge) that I belong to? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to learn more about starting a movement with your own body? Contact me. I’d love to help you figure it out and get started. Also, check out “Barefoot Church” by Brandon Hatmaker and “Missional Moves” by Rob Wegner and Jack Magruder. Two awesome resources for inspiration and motivation. These two books have rock my world and pour gasoline on the fire God ignited in me this year.
During this trip God basically stretched my heart over 4000 miles from here to just outside of Lima, Peru to a couple of small villages named Tapacocha and Cotaparaco. We had the opportunity to meet a lot of children and adults. It was such an amazing time in which I felt closer to Christ than anytime in my walk so far. It stretched me beyond my comfort zone and opened my eyes to so many things. One of which is a realization that I’m doing a terrible job of sharing the gospel message right here, in my own backyard and that’s got to change. I believe God has and is using this trip to really speak to me about that and while I’m scared about where that may lead me, I’m extremely excited about it too.
We spent a lot of time in the villages trying to build relationships, getting to know people and just sharing the love of Christ with them. We chose some of our favorite Bible stories and kind of tied them together with our own testimony. This is such a great way to present the gospel but in a personalized kind of away that I think people may understand a little bit better and relate too more personally.
I chose the story of Saul when he was on the road to Damascus and the Lord just grabbed hold of him and changed his life. He took him from a man who hated and murdered Christians to a great example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the man he became in Paul. Now, I don’t claim to be one of the greatest followers of Christ by any means but I was a lot like Saul and the Lord came to me and turned my life in a 180. He stopped me from persecuting and hating others by showing me the love that he had for me even though I was who I was. I also told them that like Paul I too was going out into the world to share Christ’s message and love. But this really got me thinking and I realized that I’m not doing that right here, or at least not nearly enough. I traveled 4000 miles and 14,000 plus feet above sea level up the Andes mountains to share with complete strangers and I’m not doing it right here with people that I can continue to have a long-lasting relationship with. People that I could really help, day in and day out in their walk.
I do have every intention of going back to Peru, maybe on a regular basis. The Lord has certainly softened my heart for the people there. But He has used this experience to teach me so much about myself and about Him and His grace, love and provision that feel even more compelled to continue His commission here, now.
We also met some great new friends and brothers and sisters in Christ from Columbus that led our trip. One of these new friends told me as the plane landed “we can’t forget there is a huge mission field right here in our very own backyard and we need to answer that call. We need to reach out to those people just as much as any other and spread God’s word with them too.”
I think sometimes it’s easier to use an interpreter and talk to a complete stranger about Jesus because you don’t fear possible rejection or the ridicule. While they may reject what you’re telling them about Jesus, typically people in the South American, warm climate culture, are more polite than the people we run into here. They will generally listen, thank you and move on. While people from the U.S. will challenge you, be rude or even hateful. But I think it’s more our own pride or ego that get in the way then. Maybe we fear that we won’t fit in or that we won’t know enough to answer the questions or challenges they give us. I think that often keeps us from really talking about Christ with others. The fear just freezes us up which is really crazy when you think about it. Often times these are people that we would share the most intimate details of our life with and here we are finding it hard to share one of the most important things in the world to us which is the gift God has given us through his son Jesus Christ.
Well I’m tired of being afraid or just too lazy to share the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I’m done hiding behind excuses of why I can’t or won’t or should share with others. God has really expressed to me that I need to be more bold in my faith. I want to keep to keep the momentum of that going in my life and so that’s why I’ve chosen to step out into some new ministry areas at our church and personally. I’ve seen a need for a long time and it just hasn’t been filled and I feel like God is really calling me to step up and lead the way for others to catch this vision He has for us all in being bold and sharing our faith. It’s my prayer that he will show me how he would have me do that and it’s also my prayer that I would be obedient and in his leading in his teaching. I’m super excited and I’m just blown away and so moved by but what he’s done and is doing in my life. He is once again taking me and reshaping me into who he wants me to be. So, over the next couple weeks I am going to prayerfully work this thing out and see where it leads, so keep an eye out for more information and more the story of how God is using me now and using me next.
Lord, I give myself up to You as a living sacrifice to be used, as You see fit.
I just finished my review copy of “Permission to Speak Freely” by Anne Jackson. This book was birthed from a simple question posed on her blog FlowerDust.net a few years ago. “What is one thing you feel you can’t say in the church?”
With that one question Anne put a crack in a dam of sin and confessions flooded in from all corners of the world. “Permission to Speak Freely” has not only allowed a venue for these individuals to confess sin but it has uncovered how the church we have created has helped to create, perpetuate or hide these sins. I say the church we have created because I believe it is not the Church Jesus had in mind for us.
Through the stories in this book and the ones that continue to appear at Permissiontospeakfreely.com we see a church that is not always built on the love that Jesus teaches but one of ritualism, legalism and even of hate. I’m not speaking of one individual church but of the global church as a whole. I believe this church could align with the Church Christ had in mind if we as it’s body can just get our act together and start working as one in His light and not based on our own wishes, wants or understandings.
With the bravery and faith shown in confessing her own stories Anne shows how God can use our sin and repentance to reach out and help others with similar struggles. Thank you Anne for your honesty, strength, faith and for cracking this dam and let us all pray that it will continue to weaken and crumble until it is no more.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
What would your Christianity look like if it was stripped down to the simplest, rawest, purest faith possible? You would have more, not less. You would have the beginning of a new reformation—in your generation, your church, your own soul. You would have primal Christianity.
This book is an invitation to become part of a reformation movement. It is an invitation to rediscover the compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago. It is an invitation to be astonished again.
I just finished Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson. I was thrilled and challenged by Marks previous books In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day and Wild Goose Chase But I believe he has outdone himself this time or more appropriately God has used Mark in bigger and broader ways through this book.
Primal begins with a descent into some of the history of Christianity where we find the “prime directive” from God through Jesus. The Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” That alone is the most primal piece of knowledge one can obtain from God’s word. With that one commandment in place in your life everything else is, to some degree, inconsequential. Now don’t get me wrong here I’m not saying, nor is Mark saying, the rest is unimportant but this is the prime piece of scripture, without loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength the rest won’t get you to far.
So many of us, as believers, today are so caught up in a quest for knowledge and answers that we forget to live out our lives with and for God. We forget that our actions and acts toward others are to be the actions and acts of Jesus Himself. We need to be totally sold out for Him. It is so easy to get caught up in the trappings and busyness of “life” and forget that without Christ we cannot truly have life. We are only waiting around to die.
It is my hope and prayer that you would open your heart and mind to Primal and allow God to speak to you through this book as He has to me.
This book is available from Random House Publishers here.
The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. www.markbatterson.com
So, the other day we’re getting ready for church and my daughter yells down from upstairs “can I wear sweatpants to church?” to which my wife immediately responds “NO!” Now, we do attend one of those come-as-you-are jeans and t-shirt kind of churches but apparently my wife draws the line at sweatpants. My 16 year old daughter did not rebel or scoff in the least but responded with a simple ok. “Because I said so” was a perfectly acceptable answer to her.
Now, wearing sweatpants to church may not seem like a big deal to some and it may seem sacreligious to others. That’s not the point here. This whole exchange got me thinking about Gods Word and His commands for us. I’ve heard a lot of people question Gods motives or answers. Why can’t I have sex outside of marriage? Why can’t I take things that aren’t mine? Why can’t I kill that guy that cut me off in traffic this morning?
While the answers to these questions may vary some, ultimately the only answer we really need to know is “because I (God) said so!” God loves us and had our best interest and safety in mind when He gave out the commandments and other life instructions as told by Jesus. But for some reason we feel that we need to question His answers. What kind of world would it be if we could still be like children and accept the old “because I said so” answer? I think this may be what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 18:3 when He said “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” We must leave behind our defiant, diobedient behaivour and become like trusting, obedient, innocent little children, because our Father knows and wants what’s best for us. If we don’t, do we truly have that so important relationship with Jesus???
(for those who may have read a different version of this yes, I did a rewrite. It’s not about the sweatpants. I’ll write on that one later.)
“All the church ever wants is my money”. How many times have you heard that? I’ve never heard anyone say “all SuperMart wants is my money” or “all the IRS wants is my money”. But that is all they want. All the church wants, hopefully, is for us to be be obedient in our worship to God.
I think since there is generally an immediate exchange of goods or services we don’t think about giving up our money at a store. But this exchange of money from us to the church doesn’t provide an instant or visible return. But there is a huge profit for the store and the church is just trying to keep in operation. The church needs to be able to reach out and provide for those in need. To do this they need money. Pastors and staff are expected to perform certain duties. They need to be compensated for this. We wouldn’t show up to our jobs and perform very well or at all if we weren’t getting paid for it. Why should we expect that from them? They have families and needs to provide for too.
God doesn’t need or even want our money. What He does want is for His people to be obedient, worship Him and care for His house. Do I think some churches are a little too extravagant? Sure. Do they not always spend their money wisely? Sure. But on the other hand we don’t bat an eye at putting too much money into our cars or homes or at the marble columns or ornate glass and steel that decorate our malls. Why shouldn’t we honor our God with a nice place to worship Him?
All we have is given to us by God. The earth, the air, water, food and even our jobs. He has blessed us with everything we have. In thanks for that we are asked to give back. A tithe (10%) is mentioned in the Old Testament numerous times. I think this is a good starting point if you’re comfortable with it. It should probably be your minimum goal as you mature spiritually.
As commissions go 90% is pretty good. Remember it was all His in the first place. He just let us have it. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” That’s right, a cheerful giver. That means we should happy and thankful in giving back a portion to God what He gave us. This is simply an act of worship and obedience.
This is actually something I struggled with for a long time and still do occasionally. I didn’t start out giving 10 % but as I experimented with giving more and more God blessed me for my obedience and I learned to trust in Him. Even though I shouldn’t be I’m still amazed when I place Him first in my finances and He always provides more so I can get by.
I’d like to tell you about an awesome book I just read by Shawn Wood called Wasabi Gospel. This book will be available for retail sales on July 8th in a “book bomb” at Amazon.com Check it out!
I’m not a big fan of hot or spicy foods like hot wings, Mexican food, Indian food those sorts of things. For one reason they don’t seem to like my body and I can’t get to far from the house after eating them. But another reason is I don’t understand the point of having your lips, mouth, throat, stomach and eventually other body parts burning or even to the point where you can’t even feel them anymore. I just don’t get the appeal. But for some reason the first time I tried Wasabi I loved it. Sure it was a bit scary at first and I only tried a small teeny tiny bit but I soon found that not only did I like the taste, it also agreed with my body.
Jesus saved me a little more than three years ago and over this span of time I have experience many gut punch moments with scripture. I had never made the comparison of wasabi and scriture but being familiar with both I love the idea. To compare the effects of wasabi to the effects of scripture is brilliant in my opinion. I love how wasabi and The Word stimulate your senses, awaken you and gives you the punch that Shawn Wood discribes so well in his new book Wasabi Gospel. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this little unassuming glob of green paste it is typically served with sushi. It seems very innocent and harmless but as Shawn found out it packs quite a punch. Gods word can do the same thing. Shawn does a wonderful job in this book explaining how certain scriptures can seem so innocent and harmless until you get a little taste of them at just the right moment under just the right circumstances and <POW!> right in the gut.
This book may look small but don’t let that fool you. It too packs quite a punch. I highly recommand it one and all. If you believe it delivers affirmation on what you may already have experienced and it convicts you to be bolder in spreading the Gods word. If you’re not a believer or you are confused and have questions this book may help explain what God means in the way He describes and commands certain things in scripture. Again, you can find it HERE at Amazon on July 8th.
You can learn more about the book or Shawn at www.wasabigospel.com or his blog at www.shawnwoodwrites.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/shawnwood or friend him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shawnwood
For Easter this year New Spring Church in Anderson, SC open their service with AC/DC’s Highway to Hell. It was a great rendition of an all to familiar (for me) rock song. I watched the service and Pastor Perry Noble brought it!!
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not bashing AC/DC or rock music. I’m a fan of both. Music and rock bands are not evil (except maybe country music). Neither are people or things (except maybe cats). Evil can and will take up residence in people and things but it can be overcome and run off.
Anyway, I love it when anything can invoke a spiritual questioning or yearning or exploration in someone. I think God can speak to us through any means He sees fit even a rock song about going to hell. I have heard this song a million times but this time God really got me thinking about the lyrics and what they were really saying. A few weeks ago my wife, Jenni, and I were in Florida and saw the sign to the left. I told her “hey, look we’re on the highway to hell” and I was taken back to that message Perry gave and the song so I felt lead to share how God spoke to me through the lyrics:
Living easy, living free – It’s so easy to be deceived into believing this lie. We can choose to live this way here on this earth but what about afterwards? Where will you spend eternity?
Season ticket on a one-way ride – It is a one-way ride. Once we’re dead and we’ve chosen the wrong path there’s no second chance.
Asking nothing, leave me be – Ignorance is bliss? Just because one chooses not to believe in Jesus Christ or explore the possibilities doesn’t give us an excuse when we stand before Him and face judgment.
Taking everything in my stride
Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothing I would rather do – How can we just waltz through life without answers? When it’s all said and done we will answer to God for our lives. Wouldn’t you rather be educated and prepared to speak to Him?
Going down, party time
My friends are gonna be there too – Eventually, the party is over and our friends may be there too but they will suffer the same fate and will be of no help or consequence.
I’m on the highway to hell – We are all there at some point whether we’re 5 or 95. There are so many off ramps being offered all around us though. Step out and explore one.
No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down – No person can or will. He may use others to facilitate it but only God can do this and already has if we just accept it through Jesus Christ.
Like a wheel, gonna spin it – Are you willing to gamble with your eternal soul? I’m not.
Nobody’s gonna mess me round – another lie. People will get in your way on both paths. You have to own your choices.
Hey satan, payed my dues – You will, one way or another.
Playing in a rocking band– We can choose our job, our voice, our method but to whose glory? Who are you doing “your thing” for.
Hey momma, look at me
I’m on my way to the promised land – We are! Actually, there are two lands that are promised. Heaven and Hell. The choice is ours.
I’m on the highway to hell – I’m not anymore, are you?
I once heard that every one owns their spiritual journey. It doesn’t matter what hand you were dealt, ultimately, you are responsible for how you choose to live your life. I know others can affect our lives and the things that go on around us positively and negatively. But, when you stand before God you will be held accountable for your actions. He will not accept “but so-and-so caused me to…” or “I was never given a choice…” We will all be judged for the decisions we made and for the way we reacted to the decisions made by others that affected our lives.
Can you own your journey? Or are you allowing your relationship with Christ to be hindered or damaged because you have chosen to blame your circumstances or someone else? That is unacceptable to God.
I know people can do bad things and cause great pain in our lives (been there, done that, on both sides of the fence) but if you allow their actions to affect your relationship with Christ you are making the wrong decision too and just as guilty as they are.
Are you attending church and worshipping God? Are you in prayer often? Do you study your Bible? Are you in fellowship with other believers? Are you growing in Christ? If you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, then who is to blame? If you believe the answer is not staring back at you in the mirror every morning then you are flat out wrong! That’s right Y-O-U!
You may be saying right now, “But you don’t know what’s been done to me…” It doesn’t matter. What matters is what you did. Is your church not reaching you? Go somewhere else. Do you feel someone has done you wrong? Confront them or forgive them and move on. Do you have trouble understanding the Bible? Get one you can understand or seek out someone to help you learn what is being said. Do you not like the “Christians” you have met? Go meet others until you find a group you can interact with.
Bottom line… Do something! Something other than sitting around whining and crying about this thing or that thing, this person or that person. God loves you but He doesn’t want to hear your excuses. He will judge each of us for our actions and our re-actions.
So, can you own it? Can you say you did whatever you needed to in order to maintain and grow your relationship with Jesus? If not you better rethink your current course ad find a way to own it because you will own it come judgment day whether you want to or not.
What an awesome message series we finished up Sunday. “LifE”. It was about making better choices for a better life and how right in the middle of life is “if”. In the videos for this series you got to see Brian Wright and myself play the good versus evil roles for our people wondering what “if” they should choose.
I have participated in alot of the videos over the last few years at the Ridge and I fear I have been typecast. I’ve been an over-protective dad, a bad husband, a gladiator nanny, a terrorist, a mean drill sergeant and now Satan.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love to be used by God. It truly fills me up when He can take me and use me as a tool for reaching others and planting seeds. However, children are starting to fear me. While this does have it’s advantages it does start to get a little bothersome when children run screaming at the site of you. Well, not really I kind of get a kick out of it (is that wrong?). A few weeks ago my wife, Jenni, was standing in the lobby at church talking to a new guest. I walked up and said hi and he said “aren’t you the Devil?” Now, that’s probably not the first time that phrase has been uttered about me, but it was really cool because he had learned about the Ridge through the website and the videos we had posted there.
An interesting part about this series of videos is that Brian had to go back and re-shoot most of his lines. We did all of mine at one time (mainly because I didn’t want to dye my beard too many times). As you know, Brian is great in front of and behind the camera and the main reason he had to re-shoot was because we found it hard to come up with his characters responses. It was way too easy to come up with my responses. This got me really thinking… Do you see the analogy here? It’s very easy to respond or react in the “wrong way”. The wrong way often seems more appealing, at first. It feels like the more natural choice sometimes. It is certainly the easier choice most of the time, until the consequences start. But we have to think about the right choice. We have to ponder the outcome if we make the wrong choice.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could reach a point where the right choices came natural and the wrong choices never even got considered. I believe we can reach that point but not on our own. We can do it through Christ and His strength. Then He can use us to show others the right way. Remember the deoderant commercial “never let ’em see you sweat” well through Jesus we can do that. If we can keep Him in the beginning of our “if” then only the right choice remains. Remember the next time an “if” pops up let Christ show you the right choice and in turn show others and maybe they will see His light in that choice.
… and if you make the wrong choice don’t say “the Rick made me do it!”
I just finished Less Clutter Less Noise by Kem Meyer and I must say thank you. Thank you Jesus for the passion You have given Kem for church communications. Thank you to all who have driven, inspired, challenged and otherwise shaped and molded Kem into the person she is. Thank you to Granger Community Church for fostering an attitude of sharing and love among your leaders. And last but certainly not least thank you Kem for your hard work, dedication, inspiration, motivation and any other -tion I may have forgotten.
I first met Kem a few years ago at a workshop she was conducting at GCC. I had a fire burning for our newly formed communications position I was helping to start at our growing church, The Ridge, and Kem effectively threw gasoline on that fire. Over the years I have valued her insight and commentary as well as her wit, reality and humbleness. I am also the owner of a small business and I have found that this information is applicable not only in the church but business as well.
The willingness to share from Kem and the entire staff at GCC is amazing and unfortunately not often found in business or church. At times I’m not sure how appreciative our patoral staff has been for what I have learned from Kem but ultimately it has all worked out for the best (just kidding). Less Clutter Less Noise is a great source to aleviate or outright avoid some of the trials and tribulations one can and will encounter in the arena of communications. Whether you are a seasoned vetereran or a newbie there is plenty of “take-away” available. Buy it now, I dare you…
Thanks again Kem, you ROCK!!!
The post below came from Mark Driscoll and the people at The Resurgence You should also check out the “Satan Debate” that Mark participated in. Thank you brother for your insight and your obedience to what God has called you for.
How in the world did the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, the most sacred and central event in Christianity, come to be represented by a fluffy bunny who lays colored eggs and gives out cheap candy to kids? The Easter Bunny is a commercialized cultural commonplace around the world (though it may be losing ground to the Easter Bilby in Australia), yet for all its familiarity, the Easter Bunny’s true origins are a mystery.
Eggs and Bunnies
Eggs and rabbits have been used as traditional symbols of springtime fertility and rebirth by various cultures throughout history. Eggs symbolize new life about to emerge, while hares and rabbits are conspicuous in the spring because they breed—like rabbits. The hare’s association with Easter may be a holdover from the ancient pagan spring festivals of Europe. According to Bede, an 8th-century Anglo-Saxon church historian, the British pagans used to celebrate a spring feast in honor of the goddess Eostre, who was represented by the hare.
Eostre and the Hare
When Pope Gregory the Great (540-604) sent missionaries to the British Isles, he instructed them to adapt the existing religious places and festivals for Christian use. He wrote, “Since the people are accustomed, when they assemble for sacrifice, to kill many oxen in sacrifice to the devils, it seems reasonable to appoint a festival for the people by way of exchange. The people must learn to slay their cattle not in honor of the devil, but in honor of God and for their own food…” Because the celebration of the Resurrection replaced the old spring feast of Eostre, the Christian holiday came to be called Easter, and Eostre’s pet animal the hare apparently came along for the ride.
The first known mention of the actual Easter Bunny comes from Germany in the 1600s, where the cute little guy was known as the Osterhase, or “Oschter Haws.” German immigrants came to America with a tradition in which the kids would build nests around the house out of hats and bonnets, and if they had been good children, Osterhase would leave brightly-colored eggs in the nests. The tradition grew and spread over time, and eventually Osterhase turned into the Easter Bunny and began giving out chocolate and candy as well as eggs.
Easter is still celebrated as a major holiday all around the globe, but the truth of Jesus’ gory crucifixion and glorious resurrection is often obscured by the garish cartoon bunny in the stores and the gaudy displays of springtime fashion among the religious. Traditions of cute bunnies, colored eggs, and little girls in pink dresses are harmless enough, but at the same time we must not let anything obstruct our view of the earth-shattering reality represented by Easter. There’s nothing cute or cuddly about the fact that we killed God. When we were his enemies, he came to us, suffered in our place through the horror that was Good Friday, and rose from his grave on Easter Sunday so that we will one day rise from ours. The curse is broken, and we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus because we know we will one day experience it (1 Cor. 15:20-23). Let’s be joyful, let’s never shrink from speaking about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and let’s never trivialize it.
We kicked off a new campaign at the Ridge this week called USED. The motivation and inspiration behind come from 1 Peter 4:10 cev “Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” Which was also the inspiration behind the name change of this blog.
When I open myself up and allow God to use me where He is working it fullfills me. We were created to serve, Him and others. For a long time I had a void in my life. I lacked purpose, direction and drive. I tried to fill it with many things such as a successful business, caring for others, community service etc.
Now, don’t get me wrong, all of those things are a good thing but reason for doing them must be correct. Often we do these things out of guilt or for recognition or for personal gratification.
The reason we feel this drive to do these things for others is because God created us that way and in the absence of Christ in our hearts and lives we still have that desire or urge to serve. James 2:17 tells us “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” You can turn that around also because deeds without faith=death. We’re all going to die. That is an unavoidable end to this pysical life. But, if you don’t believe I’m sorry but you will die completely. John 20:31 says “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
That life is eternal life. Now we don’t know for sure what eternal life will mean exactly but it sounds a darn sight better than eternal death, or eternal seperation from God, or eternal damnation. Doesn’t it?? It does to me.
Anyway back to being used. God is an all powerful God. He can do anything He chooses to do. The cool thing is He chooses to use us to do it as His tool (if we are obedient to Him). Does that mean we can control and manipulate the outcome. No. Gods plan will happen regardless of whether we choose to obey His calling or not. But the blessings we can receive from our obedience are amazing. I don’t mean that to sound like we should do it to receive blessings that’s the wrong motivation too. But, by submiting to the rule of Christ over our hearts and lives we can experience the benefits of living in the kingdom of God now, not just in eternity.
So, are you used? Post a comment or email me direct at email@example.com
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to hear an amazing testimony of the spiritual birth of Pedro Rivera. I don’t really know Pedro that well. I’d met him in passing at the church before. But, his story has touched my life. One thing to note typically we edit testimony videos down to about 3-5 minutes. When this was done filming it was decided that it could not be edited and we ran it in it’s entirety. We had to cut a song and Pastor Darrel had to trim his message a little but Pedros story fit and we felt God was telling us “this needs to be seen”. I see God doing big things in this mans life. The video is about 18 minutes long but please check it out.
Preaching at his 8 a.m. service today, Pastor Fred Winters was shot dead in the pulpit of First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois. According to reports, he was shot three times and other shots may have been fired had the gun not apparently jammed. The assailant then pulled a knife and injured himself and other congregants until he was forcibly subdued. No motive has yet been determined. A statement released by the church said, “Please pray for Dr. Winter’s family, our two brave members who were injured when they stopped the assailant, for the assailant himself and his family, and for our church members as they deal with this tragic loss. . . . To those who believe in the power of prayer, we covet your prayers right now.”
In the midst of all this chaos and turmoil this church has remembered and called for prayer for the assailant and his family. We need to remember this kind of action in our lives. We are not called to judge but to love others. Not just the people we like or the people that are like us or share our values and beliefs. More often the people who are the opposite of this need as much or more prayer.
This was obviously a person with problems or issues. We may never know what led him to this action and we truly don’t need to know. We simply need to lift him and his family up in prayer. Pray that he can receive the help he needs. Pray that he can open his heart and mind and find Christ through this and seek His forgiveness. Pray that his family can remain strong and supportive. That if they don’t know Christ that this event can bring them to Him. Pray for protection for them against those that may wrongly seeking revenge or redemption. Pray…
And of course pray for those present and those injured and Pastor Winters, his wife and children.
My wife, Jenni, and I started a class this week called Experiencing God. It is a 12-13 week lesson in a small group setting. I had heard a little bit about the course from friends that said it can change your life. Two of my dear friends actually quit their full time jobs to become pastors after taking this course. Knowing this Jenni was very leery of allowing me to take it as was I. It’s not that we’re not open to God’s calling but we have grown comfortable in our current positions and settings. This can be a very dangerous thing. I have already felt a calling to the church/ministry for some time now and wrestled with it a bit. I don’t think the time has come yet but it is coming. Well some circumstances occurred (divine intervention?) that gave us the opportunity to sign up for the group.
The first class was last Wednesday and was very interesting. So far the homework has been very eye opening and thought provoking. It is my hope and prayer that Jenni and I can take our next steps together, grow spiritually and learn what God wants us to do. I will keep you posted as the course progresses and we learn to better obey and experience God.
Every now and then I hear someone say “I’m not getting fed enough at my church”. Aren’t we responsible for feeding ourselves? If nourishment is being offered we need to partake in it and grow from it. Now, if you don’t like what’s on the menu that’s fine but it’s not the churches fault. I don’t like Arby’s or Burger King but I don’t think they have bad food I just don’t care for the menu they offer so I eat elsewhere. If you feel led to attend a church other than the one you currently are I think that’s a matter for you and your family to prayerfully consider. But, you should do it for the right reasons. Ask yourself:
- Is my church offering what I need? Is there more than just Sunday services available?
- Am I taking advantage of what’s being offered? Bible studies, Small Groups or other church activities.
- Do I need to use what’s being offered to step up and step out? For example instead of attending a small group or Bible study should you lead one? Are you serving?
If you are just showing up on Sunday for a service, then going home and expecting to get enough of what God has in store for you, it isn’t going to happen. Christ calls us to serve, to spread the gospel, to get out of the boat. Not to sit back and wait for the pastor to FEED us.
Are you hungry? Check the menu. If there’s good stuff being offered you need to dig in.
I had an awesome opportunity this week to help work on our new addition at the Ridge. It was such a great day working with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Not just because they are great people to be around but also because of the bigger purpose we were serving. We are adding on classrooms that are very much needed. The Lord has blessed us in abundance with so many new attenders and their children that we felt led to make more room so we could explore Gods word with them in a better more comfortable setting. It is such an honor to serve Him and others in any way He can use me. I am so awed and humbled sometimes that He can use me to help others and grow His kingdom. Life is good!!! Check out the progress of the build here.
Check this out. It ROCKS!! Are we doing what He is asking us to? If not what are the consequences and who does it affect?
About nine years ago I was out mowing the lawn on a sweltering hot day. The pastor of the church my wife had been attending drove by and saw me. Now I didn’t really know this guy and I had no interest in church or anything it had to offer. The guys name was Bill Craig. Anyway, he stopped back by a little later and offered to help me. He got in the back of his car and pulled out this old, rusty, antique mower. He meant it as a joke and I think I laughed a little bit and probably thought “thanks a lot jerk” (or something not so clean). Now my wife and I like to decorate our house and yard in what is sometimes referred to as country clutter (or hillbilly chic to some) and I put that mower in a flower bed in front of the house. Bill left the church a bout a year later and I really never got to know him (something I will always regret). My wife continued to attend that church and eventually I came to know Christ there. It is now the Ridge where we both serve and attend. We recently celebrated our ten year anniversary and I had a chance to talk to Bill Craig. He made a comment about that mower and I told him I still had it. I see it every time I mow, work in the yard, or step out of the house. That silly mower was a seed that Bill planted many years ago. A connection that we made however brief that I have never really forgotten. Bill knew where I was and probably how I was living to an extent but he still reached out, in a strange sort of way, and showed me a little love (and humor).
I’ve been thinking about this lately and the Lord has shown me, in all this, that you should never pass up an opportunity to reach out to someone for Him. It may be the only chance you get to plant a seed. Don’t worry about how big or small it may be just do what the Lord leads you to do and He’ll take care of the rest.
Again, it’s not important who does the planting but, you do need to plant those seeds when called to do so, You just never know…
I just finished the book Pop Goes the Church by Tim Stevens. WOW!!! What an amazing piece of work. It’s about leveraging pop culture to reach people for Christ. I have always been on fire about this concept well Tim has dowsed that fire with gasoline. I could go on all week about this book and how dead on I feel it is but I wouldn’t do it justice. GO OUT AND BUY THE THING!!! You can find it here I can’t wait to attend the seminar on it June 23 at GCC Tim, thank you and thank You God, for giving Tim the inspiration, passion and ability to write this book.