Be a Doer aka Part 2

This is the short version of part two from this past weeks sermon:

Building your life in obedience to Jesus. James 1:19-25

This is about sanctification, how we live the Christian life. We have been saved and now we hear the word (look into the mirror) and we respond. As followers of Jesus, we are secure in our salvation and His grace.

Be an active ‘doer’ not a forgetful ‘hearer’:

I appreciate what Warren Wiersbe adds: “It is not sufficient, however, to receive the Word; one must respond to it in active obedience. One must “become,” or “keep on becoming” a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. The growing numbers of sermon-sippers who flit from one doctrinal dessert to another like helpless hummingbirds are deceiving themselves. “Deceiving” is from a verb used only here and in Col 2:4, means “to cheat or deceive by false reasoning.” The deception comes from thinking they have done all that is necessary when actually listening to the Word is only the beginning.”

The word for “looks into” means “to stoop down” in order to have a good close look.

The “Law that gives freedom” seems like a paradox. Law seems to imply restraint and therefore a lack of freedom. Not so with God’s Law. His perfect Law provides true freedom. “Hold to My teaching,” Christ said, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

This life he brings us is an ‘abundant life’. We’re free to take His word and make application and thus be doers, bringing Him glory!

So what is it God’s calling you to “do”?

 

By this all will know…

Amazing passages:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

When each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:16

As the term ‘love’ floats around the next few days, I want to draw your attention to a beautifully biblical understanding of love.

Look, I’m married. I love my wife. I get that Valentines Day in fact brings another opportunity for me to put words, actions, flowers, dinner, and yep, even chocolate to showing my love for Laurie.  And yes, I realize it’s not all about that one day.  It’s all year, it’s all day everyday. I really do love my wife and we both work at our marriage and clearly see our own imperfections.

But the kind of love talked about in scripture is rarely about chocolate and flowers and overpriced, over-wordy cards (ok, ok, I do have issues!). The love in Scripture is all about giving.  True, the giving may show itself in the giving of gifts on a special holiday. I’m good with that. But PLEASE don’t limit it to that alone.

Jesus didn’t say the people all around us would know we are His because of our prosperity, the size of our amazing church facility, how we vote, how many times we go to church or how popular we are.  He said they would know we His by our LOVE for ONE ANOTHER! This love is not just words. It’s not merely telling everyone how much you love them.  It’s giving. Giving to meet their needs. Giving so they can grow. Giving of yourself to others.  This is biblical love, as in this is exactly what Jesus did for us. He gave where we couldn’t.

Then Paul tells us that this is exactly how the Body of Christ matures and grows, its as we love one another and give of ourselves to each other.

So, what is the Next Step for you?  Reread the verses above.  We don’t need a lot of explanation or ideas. We just need God’s Spirit to lead us, as He has in the Word and as He is right now as you’re considering this beautifully, biblical idea of loving one another.

Grace Continues

Just a quick note of thanks to the family of Grace Community.  Yesterday we spent the first Sunday of the New Year displaced from our normal meeting place.  We’ve had to do this only one time before.  As anticipated, it actually went off very well.  As mentioned in earlier posts, the school we meet in had an electrical problem due to the extreme freezing weather we’ve had.  So we moved Sunday church services to our rather small Ministry Center.  I believe we have 80 chairs. Maybe close to 100 by the time every desk chair and old metal chair was found.  In three services, each less than an hour, we had about 315 make their way through Grace.

What grabbed my attention was that the message of Grace went forth, without a hitch.  The set up people, techs, and musicians all put in extra to make sure Grace had a home.  Thanks also to the sign guy for making the necessary changes so people would find their way.  It was also encouraging to meet guests. Imagine that, guests finding their way to a church that wasn’t meeting in the normal place.

Thanks to all.  I think it’s because we really believe in what we’re about. We have the awesome privilege of carrying the message of grace.  I’m pretty sure this is going to be an amazing year for Grace.  So, here we go!

IMPORTANT: SERVICE CHANGE FOR JAN 2, 2011!

There was extensive damage at Sinagua last night due to the storms and a freezing pipe in the boiler room.  So the school is without electricity and in emergency mode to get things back up and running.

We were asked to NOT be there tomorrow, so we will have our services at the Ministry Center.

We’ll have 3 Services, each a little under an hour, 9:15, 10:15 and 11:15.  If you’re reading this, would you consider the 9:15 or 11:15?  The 10:15 will be filled with the many that we won’t be able to get a hold of.  We’ll have some people at Sinagua to direct people this way, hence the 10:15 start!

Also, could you help me by letting others know?  Thanks.  There is no childcare due to the limitations at our Ministry Center, so we’ll be one big happy family tomorrow, in all three services.  Seriously, you’ll want to come, it’s a blast when God allows us to shake things up a bit.  It’ll be awesome to worship as a church family in a more intimate setting.  Same great worship, teaching and fellowship.

A Full Day of Grace

Last night as I was reflecting on the day, I realized just how good God is and what an amazing ride it is to serve Him and lead others to do the same.  Here are a few highlights:

  • I had a brief meeting yesterday with our Grace Group leaders and hosts. I was reminded how thankful I am for each of them and their leadership within our church family.
  • Each Sunday we meet with everyone working that day throughout the ministries of Grace.  We now meet at 9:30 and pray for the day and for our ministry and the opportunities we’ll have.  I love these people and their willingness to serve the family of Grace.
  • 10 minutes before the service even starts we have live worship music as our musicians get the day going and welcoming as the church gathers. Yesterday there was such a sweet spirit in the room as we awaited the 10 o’clock start.
  • We had our Grace Group at lunch yesterday, because of the Kids program last night.  With this amazing weather we grilled burgers as we said farewell to some that are leaving this semester.  Like many of the Grace Groups, we’ll start up after the first of the year.  Love our Group!
  • Last night Kelly Phillips led a group of Grace kids in a Christmas program.  It was very sweet. You could tell a lot of work went into practicing, costumes, building a set, and memorizing lines.  Kids did great!
  • Last night we got to hear testimony from one of our families who just returned from a missions trip.  Their enthusiasm is contagious. Laurie and I were encouraged and reminded of why we’re here as we listened and prayed with our dear friends.

The day seemed a little longer than usual, but it was full of God’s grace. We are seeing His hand at work throughout Grace and for that, we are most blessed and thankful.

Why Grace @ Noon?

Last Sunday I visited 3 different churches in Albuquerque as I began my study break week.  I’m kind of a freak like that, I guess.  I love the church. I love how God is using the church today. I have a lot to say about my observations, so I hope to in future blogs.

But for now, just one quick observation from last week that will help answer the above question.

Each church was unique in how it welcomed me at the door. By far, my favorite was the church that greeted me with an older gentleman saying, “Welcome, make yourself at home”.  That was it. Simple and to the point. I won’t comment here on what they could have done better once I got inside, but I will say I loved that as an opening line.  You see, that’s what a church is. It’s a home. A home for family.

A couple of times each year, maybe more, we have what we call Grace@Noon.  Essentially we have a meal after the church service to encourage people to stick around and get to know a few more people.  It does involve a lot of food. We have an amazing crew of people working to provide a meal for around 500 people!  But it’s really not about the food.  It does use the entire Commons area at Sinagua.  Children’s Church adjusts a bit as we set up and prepare to use every possible corner in the Commons. But it’s really not about how many people fit into a room.

It’s all about extending what Grace is about to a wider circle of people.

Most everyone who attends Grace does so with the same group of people.  Call it a family, call it roommates, or ministry peers, we all have our circle.  Many even sit in the same part of the auditorium each week, again, surrounded by the same people that like that particular vantage point.  Nothing wrong with that… until.  Until you meet someone who goes to the same church as you but sits on the other side, or works most weeks in a certain ministry, and you don’t even know you’re in the same church. Or until you meet someone who ‘used’ to attend Grace but never connected with the people, the family of Grace.

As Grace grows and we see more people coming to our church services, we will have to work harder at welcoming others and making sure people feel ‘at home’.

So yes, that’s the biggie behind Grace@Noon.  Get to know just a couple of more people. Widen your circle just a bit. Guess what? If we all do that, the church remains friendly, welcoming, and best of all; family.

Thanks to everyone who serves at Grace in any way shape or form. Thanks for the team putting together our meal time so we can enjoy some extended ‘family time’.

What a great week

This has been a great week. It started with an almost record attendance at church as we witnessed three people getting baptized.  Each Sunday the worship has been amazing, our worship team is doing an excellent job.  You are a great church that loves to worship the Lord.  I love being a part of that!

I’ve had several meetings with new members of Grace.  The Grace 1.0 class was just a couple of weeks ago. We now have several new members. I just love getting to know these dear people that want to make Grace their home.

I finished teaching the class on “Telling the Gospel”. I absolutely love helping our church family in sharing the gospel.  The next class starts this coming Monday. Jason Alley will be teaching on Theology Proper.  Come to the Ministry Center at 6:30 this Monday.  You’ll be glad you did!

Then the following Sunday, which happens to be 10-10-10, I’ll finish up Habakkuk and right after church we have Grace@Noon – this is our way of saying we’re having a huge lunch. We have ordered food for the entire church. So, plan on sticking around after church on Sunday, Oct 10th and you’ll get a good meal and have the chance to meet a few people.

God bless you, as you also celebrate the week God has giving you!

Praying for what matters

I’ve noticed whenever I’m asked to pray for someone or for some event, it’s because it really matters.  We don’t ask for prayer about things we don’t care about, or at least we’re not too concerned about.  Right?

We pray for a job interview, a potential new relationship, a decision to be made, help for the test, for someone’s health issues, we pray for strength, wisdom, and even patience.

Can I invite you to pray for your church and your pastor?

Whatever church you attend, pray today.  This thing we do called ‘church’ is a pretty big deal. We are the church as we are saved and following Christ in our local community.  This is not man’s idea. It’s not some denominational mucky mucks idea. This is God’s church.  We are His people.  And when things seem to be clicking along, the enemy would love nothing more than to take our feet out from underneath us. This can happen through a subtle apathy, or a divisive issue. It can happen when we are too comfortable or too busy. It shows up in gossip as well as good works. Let’s not let the enemy inside our church!

So, as your church follows the Lord’s leading and is teaching the grace of God to the lost as well as to the maturing followers of Christ, let’s pray for God’s protection and blessing. Let’s be a part of the harvest of seeing people trust Jesus with their lives and in obedience, give the Lord first place in everything!  We live right where we do and in the time that we do for a very specific reason.  Therefore, let’s pray. It really matters.

For those that attend Grace, there is a weekly prayer meeting open to everyone. They meet on Sunday mornings at 9:25.  Head to the welcome table and enter through the door right there.  I love that these people are gathering as people are making their way to church. I love that each week prayer is happening in Grace Groups throughout the community.  I love that this matters. So, join me in praying for God’s Word as it goes out tomorrow to His people and those He’s pursuing.

HUGE Sunday Coming!

I say it’s huge, and I guess it really is. It’s huge because we start a new series on an OT guy we know very little about but who passes on an amazing message that we NEED today.
Also, many Grace Groups are beginning this week. This is a huge part of our church family experience at Grace. Many people signed up a couple of weeks ago in the gym. There’s room for more and this week you’ll see the updated list of Grace Groups available.

I’m praying now that you’ll find a place to connect at Grace via the Grace Groups. This is where we discuss and apply the sermon and enjoy doing life together.

I just gotta say this. I’ve been blown away at how many people are at Grace BEFORE we start. Our auditorium is filling up before the 10 am start time. That’s awesome! And that’s all I’ll say.

Can’t wait for Sunday to begin our new study together and our Grace Groups.

Grace in Relationships

Even wonder what makes your best friend your best friend?  Ever stop and think about the people you feel closest to?  How about those you feel safest around?

Yep, it’s probably all the same answer.  I call it ‘grace in relationships’.

We do our best around people who accept us for who we are and are quick to extend grace as we live in our humanness.  These are the same people that love us too much to let us stay in our junk. They’re quick to lend a hand, say a hard thing, speak the truth in love, sit and listen, and talk to the Creator on our behalf.  But always extending grace.

Our biggest struggles seem to be when we’re in the pressure cooker of trying to impress others or always finding ourselves living defensively.   I’m not a relationship expert. I am a follower of Jesus and I rather enjoy watching others around me follow Him too.  As mentioned in church a few weeks ago, we are His masterpiece, and He is working on us.  Listen, just the fact that He’s working on us is evidence of His grace.  He doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t leave us alone to rot.  He graciously puts us in community so we can see Him and quite frankly, so we can ‘be’ Him.  You see, the church is the body of Christ.  We don’t get that title by staying away or hiding alone. We get that as we assemble ourselves and commit to community.

This week at Grace we’re gonna learn something about the beauty of connecting in our community.  If I were you and was anywhere close to Flagstaff, I’d be at Grace on Sunday.  Just sayin.