Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I wish I could tell you!

Just returned from an afternoon of filming for my video message this Sunday. It was a stinkin' blast! We were all over the place! I want so badly to tell you more, but my video crew would kill me because it would give too much away for Sunday! Oh well, I guess you will have to come Sunday to check it out yourself! It should be really cool...for you! For me...not so cool! Who likes watching themselves on video? Smile.

Just the black keys...

This video was sent to me today. I thought that it was worth sharing. I usually don't watch these if they are longer than 2 minutes, but I splurged on this and I am glad I did! Enjoy...if you have an extra 9 minutes. It is informational and inspiring!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Economy

My senses have been very heightened over the last few weeks to the state of our economy. It seems that everywhere I turn, every TV report and every radio report speaks of the grim economic place that we are in as a nation. If it's not health care, it's gas prices. If it's not bankruptcy, it's foreclosure. If it's not talk of recession, it's mass layoffs and unemployment. I heard about each of these on the radio today just on my 20 minute round trip commute.

I have family that are struggling and friends that are afraid for their future. I just ran into an old friend at Bowie Town Center tonight who has had to pick up another job on top of teaching. She is not the only person that I know that has had to or is about to work 2 jobs. People in our church have lost their jobs and homes or are on the verge.

Just this afternoon, I met with 2 Pastors of a 1,500+ member church who are in the middle of a 25 million dollar building project as a church. All progress has halted! The building is 92% done and sitting there untouched. No more money. Waiting on possible new loan approval by May 10th. These are just a few of the realities that I recognize as I observe and listen.

Some questions flood my spirit tonight. Questions like:
  • What can I do?
  • What could we do as the church of Jesus Christ?
  • How should the church (CCF and beyond) be speaking and ministering to people during these unsettled times?
  • How much do we really know? How many people are hiding the seriousness of their financial and emotional pain as a result of embarrassment.
I certainly have more questions than I do answers tonight. A few immediate answers that come to my mind seem too "cliche-ish" to even share. I am seeking the Lord in prayer about these questions. I want to pray more and I invite you to as well. And I want to discern how we might publicly address these realities more directly from the pulpit. There is power in naming our struggles.

Lord, you are indeed Jehovah Jireh. You always have been and you always will be. Help these time to convince us all more deeply to trust in you as our source!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Some Days...

...I cannot believe that I get the privilege of doing what I love so much! I love the ministry and I truly love what I do! Some days....I wouldn't feel like writing this. But, today I do! Honestly, I count it such an amazing privilege to serve the Lord in full-time Christian Service...especially at a church as wonderful and loaded with potential as Capital Christian Fellowship!

Thank you Lord for your call and your favor!

Video Message

I love firsts. This week I will be filming my first video message. I am very excited about it. I have known for along time that I wanted to do this, and I am glad that the time is here. I am getting really jazzed about this Sunday's message as I open our "Momentum" series. Pray for Pastor Mike and myself this week. He is helping with the filming and editing. I love new challenges. We will wait until the sun comes up to get behind the camera.

--Peace!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A few bulleted thoughts before bed...

  • A few weeks ago we had a yard sale during which I connected in some neat ways to people in our neighborhood. Of course, I invited them to church. Well, this morning, one of them was at church! A lady in my neighborhood and her daughter....I did a double take when I saw her. So cool!
  • Great morning services. Dynamic worship, strong message and a baby dedication with a record number of friends and family on the stage for support (followed by an incredible meal and experience....fyi....a Portuguese get-together is a must see).
  • Adventures in Prayer tonight was a blessing. It was a genuine time of seeking the Lord. I sincerely appreciated spending over 30 minutes in consecutive prayer around the room. So often we say bookend prayers. It is so nice to just dwell!
  • Finally...I almost forgot to tell you....I had the privilege this evening of inviting a cop to church! I figured if he and I were going to spend time on the side of Greenbelt Road, I might as well invite him to come spend time with us at CCF!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Davis at almost 16 months...

We were pretty impressed with our little boy this evening. We were at my sister Joeley's home in the back yard playing at the swing set when Davis decided to climb a ladder and go down the slide with no help. I caught it on tape. Loving parenting!
video

The way it should be...

The last 2 days have been great! I have worked around the house, hung out with friends and family, done whatever we feel like doing and worked very little. I have cleared my mind after a busy week and just chilled!

ahhh...the way it should be.

Looking forward to services tomorrow!

--Noah

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Momentum! **May Sermon Series**

Looking forward to rolling out this sermon series in May! We have a purpose! Now, why have it if we don't LIVE IT!! We will begin to explore how we will begin to live toward the purpose for which God has called us as a church. Looking forward to gaining more momentum at CCF!

--Pastor Noah

Three 2 Hour Meetings!

My day today consisted of three 2 hour meetings back to back. Add in travel time to each meeting (each was in a different location) and there goes the day!

However, it was a day well spent! I met with 3 of our Executive Board Members for some personal conversation and sharing (that we do not get enough of) and to discuss implementation strategy for our purpose. I got to be in 2 of their homes and each of the meetings were a very special time together.

I thank God today for Henrietta Ogunfolaji, Alton Garder and Wilmer Good. Each serves the board and the Lord with all their hearts. More and more, I am more and more thankful for the good people that the Lord is assembling at CCF!

Glory to God!

Buying Peace

Pastor Nelson's message on Sunday morning provoked me to look at John 14 again throughout this week. Something powerful struck me. Pastor Nelson dwelled on the words at the end of verse 27..."do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Today, I was looking at the earlier portion of verse 27..."Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives."

So, here is what hit me in a new way. Jesus wants to GIVE US PEACE!! I cannot think of anything much more valuable than a real peace with God. It is so precious....yet you can't buy it anywhere. It is a gift from Jesus! Hollywood stars and millionaires die with absolutely NO PEACE, literally laying in piles of money.

This is what I love about a faith journey with the Living God! Found in a relationship with Jesus Christ are treasures and gifts that no amount of money could ever buy! I am thankful for that today. So, on those days where there is very little money sitting in the bank until that next paycheck (and Tricia and I know full well about those days), remember how rich you are in Christ Jesus.

Receive His gift of peace today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jaye Day

Today is Administrative Professionals Day. Here at CCF, we have called it "Jaye Day". Jaye Lindo serves as our Director of Operations. Basically, she is an administrative assistant to our entire staff.

We are so blessed to have Jaye here! She is warm, loving, relational, loyal and supportive. She is the one that so many people rave about when they reference the NICE LADY WHO ANSWERS THE PHONES!

One last thing....she hates that I am writing this. I know she will read this blog entry and call me....but I am doing it anyway.

Comment if you love Jaye!

Drive 08

Just yesterday, I heard about an awesome conference called Drive 08 down in Atlanta put on by North Point Church, Pastor Any Stanley (picture left). This is a church that I follow. They are really doing some fabulous ministry and have a similar DNA to what CCF is becoming.

Here lies the problem...it is coming up soon....in 12 days! And registration is closed. I had someone pull a few strings for us and we are in (there were 3 spaces left)! Pastor Nelson, Pastor Mike and I will be traveling down to Atlanta for the Drive Conference on May 5-7.

Check out the website for the conference by clicking here. Looking forward to what we will glean for the Kingdom's sake and to the time of relationship building as a team!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How fast can you get here?

Those were the words on the other end of the phone this afternoon! I need you to get here ASAP! Leave now! It was a friend and local Pastor....Keith Battle, Senior Pastor of Zion Church in Largo. Zion is a rapidly growing 2,000 member church. Keith is a personal friend. He taught me Bible in High School at Lanham Christian School. Keith is one of the most gifted leaders I know.

So, back to my story...when I heard the urgency in his voice I knew that I needed to head right out the door and that he must need me. I literally ran to my car and scooted up the road. He called me 5 times while I was on my way (no exaggeration). Guess why he needed me there? To meet someone that he thought looked just like me!!! Are you kidding me?

Maybe the true reason was to spend some time together...we spent the next hour talking and scheduled an afternoon together for next week. It was so good to see Keith today!
_______________________________
Wished I could have blogged earlier today. Several things on my heart, just no time to share them. Started my day today with a great quiet time and workout. That always starts the day on the right foot. Preached twice this morning at a local Christian School. Had several other meeting and a great, energetic staff meeting this afternoon. Our team is really gelling in great ways!

...enjoyed our evening and will be back at it tomorrow.

--Noah

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kid Phone Conversation

When I run into cute things like this, I like to share it. This is cool! Listen to this phone conversation.

Revolving Door

I have back to back meetings today starting at 7am and ending at 9pm. I will take a 3-4 hour afternoon break for an eye doctor appointment and a quick dinner with the family. Now, on to the revolving door.

Hope your week jumps off to a great start. Be encouraged in your faith and strong in your commitment to integrity. I recently began praying for you, my blog readers. Pray for me too as I pray for you.

--Love!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Car Blessing

Until I came to CCF, I never heard of a car blessing. Well, not only have I done several house blessings for people in our congregation (which are very meaningful by the way), I have also been asked on numerous occasions to perform car blessings. Yes, you heard that right. Especially for some of our International Brothers and Sisters, this is very meaningful for them, culturally. You may wonder what exactly you do in a car blessing. We just go outside in the church parking lot at their request and we gather around the vehicle and thank God for His great provision, ask Him to schedule divine appointments in the vehicle, increase family bonds and transport the person/family safely to the places that God has destined them to go. Then, we bless it in the name of Jesus understanding that every good gift comes from our Father and provider.

That said, today's car blessing was over a 2008 Mercedes Benz ML500! Can you say beautiful?!?! After the prayer of blessing, I almost felt like I needed to pray a prayer of repentance for envy and lust over this vehicle.

--Noah

The Capital

I just realized that I never posted the April Capital on my blog...which I like to do each month. To check it out click here.

Also, I am in Capital mode this afternoon as I prepare my submissions for our editor which are due Tuesday. If you have any good ideas of things that you think should make it in the MAY Capital, leave a comment here or email Michelle Ferrando at michelleferrando@capitalchristian.org.

--Noah

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Success!!

Yard sale today was a success. I consider $300 a good profit for a yard sale! And I certainly consider getting loads of clutter out of our house an exceptionally good thing.

I also had a great time meeting neighbors today. Invited several people to church (ran out of business cards). I expect to see a few of our neighbors at church soon (maybe even tomorrow). I even had the privilege of praying with one neighbor that has bad prognosis in her battle with cancer. I love to connect with new people and share with them the reason for the hope that lies within me.

On a not-so-good note...Tricia and Davis are both sick! My heart breaks for them. I wish I could take it from them...and I probably will!

--Nite!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sleep is Optional

We think that Davis is teething....breaking through the top now. So, when you are teething, sleep is optional. He has either woken up in the middle of the night or very, very early in the morning every day this week. Well, Tricia usually gets up with him...she has the touch. But, tonight it's my turn. And he's up! So, Davis and I are up hanging out right now. And it's 11pm. Hopefully we are not fixing for an all-nighter. We have a Yard Sale at our house tomorrow morning and will be up early.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Charlie Bit Me

Maybe you need a laugh tonight. This is really funny! Enjoy!

Living Room Staff Meeting

Had an off-site living room staff meeting today at our home. These are always beneficial times together as a team. It allows us the freedom "keep on talking" about whatever it is we are talking about. It allows us to exhaust topics instead of just scratching the surface. I thank the Lord for the great team that he has assembled in our staff.

What did we talk about today? Well, I can't share it all, but let me share some. As a team, we are exploring how we LIVE OUT OUR PURPOSE? How and when do we get people involved in ministry at CCF to be committed and sold out to our purpose? If indeed our purpose of loving God, loving people and living as disciples AND we believe that it is lived out through large groups, small groups and partnership...

How do we lead people into faithful commitment to large group weekend services?

How do we lead people into faithful commitment to a small group?

How do we lead people into a strong partnership with CCF (3 M's: membership, ministry and money)?

When should it become an expectation that all people in ministry at CCF support our purpose and are committed to it by attending a small group?

Your comments are welcomed!

--Noah

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today, Tomorrow

Today, our staff took the afternoon and moved Pastor Mike, Kelly and Chase into their new place in Bowie. Record time to unload a 27 foot truck...4 people, 50 minutes! They have a great place.

Tomorrow, I will be in back to back meetings in PA. Pastor Nelson has several meetings as well and is coming along. Looking forward to good times together in the car. Always value 5 hours in the car with a friend and team member. We are leaving at 6am. Heading to bed!

--Nite Nite

Visual for Vision

While re-reading sections of "Simple Church" this evening, I ran across this statement: Vision must be visual! The authors proclaimed that churches must find visual, creative, simple and attractive images that explain their purpose and their process.

I agree! Some churches use baseball diamonds, others use living rooms and kitchens, others use circles, triangles, etc. I look forward to establishing a visual for our vision!

The good news is that we know the content! The hard work is done. The effort, energy, time and prayer has been invested into discerning our WHAT and our HOW!! Now, we just need to talk about it lots and live it loudly!

What (our purpose): Loving God, Loving People, Living as Disciples!

How (our process): Large Groups, Small Groups, Partnership!

Any ideas for the visual?

Taxes

It's April 15th...are your taxes done? You have until midnight! Smile, all ye procrastinators.

--Love

Living our Purpose

My mind is strongly focused these days on how to lead Capital Christian Fellowship toward LIVING out it's God-ordained purpose! Having a purpose is a great first step. It is awfully difficult to move toward a destination that you never determined. If you don't set a target, you can be sure you will never hit it.

We know that our purpose is to be...

Loving God, Loving People, and Living as Disciples!

So, now, how do we live that out? And how do we see it manifested? How do we measure it's results? These are the right questions to be asking these days. I know this much...In order to be successful in living toward our purpose, it will require sacrifice and commitment...from all of us! So here are a few core convictions that I am thinking through these days:
  • If it's too easy, it won't be too meaningful!
  • If we don't expect much, we won't get much!
  • If it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing right!
  • I am beginning to think that church doesn't matter much, because church doesn't matter much!
Chew on these statements. Test them Biblically. And get ready for great days ahead where we as a community get serious about our purpose and God gets serious about showing up among us!!!

--Noah

Monday, April 14, 2008

Swinging in the Yard

I have been doing lots of stuff around our home these last few days. My Brother-in-law Randy has been very helpful. Hanging lights, painting, cleaning, fixing things that have been broken and starting to get the yard landscaped. This evening, we cleaned out the attic and hung a tree swing for Davis. He loves to swing so we have been wanting to get him one for our yard. Here is the picture of him this evening.

So fun being a Dad to this little bundle of joy!

My Day, My Week

Had a morning full of administration and tasks and an afternoon packed with meetings. Good day in the office. This week is going to fly by. Tomorrow I work half day and then the staff is taking the afternoon away from the office to help the Rosado family move in to their new home in Bowie. Wednesday, Pastor Nelson and I will be in PA for meetings all day. Thursday we have an all day off-site Staff Meeting for the Pastoral Team.

I will share more about each of these things as the week unfolds. It is going to be a different week, but a good week. It will fly by though...of this I am sure!

-Noah

2 Year Old Sings Lord's Prayer

This is worth your minute and 58 seconds!! How cute!?!?!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Broken Record!!

International Sunday was a gigantic success!!! Awesome, awesome service all the way around. Quality media, excellent and inspiring worship time, loads of energy, beautiful outfits from around the world, three great speakers, and food from many different nations!!

It was truly wonderful to see the volume of people involved with helping make this day a success. Man, I saw people moving tables and chairs and taking trash out whose names I did not know. That is saying something.

Parking was insane. People were double parked and triple parked and parked at the liquor store and grocery store next to us. These are great problems to have.

A final highlight of the day was the broken record...highest Sunday attendance in the history of CCF!!! 515 people were at worship this morning breaking our record high of 505. We thank God for that and are really excited about it! Remember, numbers don't count like people do! And numbers are not the vision, but we believe that they are a product of the vision.

Many thanks to Pastor Nelson and a team of close to 30 people that together made this a very special day!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Parenting Skilz

I read this on Mark Batterson's Blog this morning. I though it was really well said. Maybe a few of you need to hear this today. I know I did!

One of the things I'm learning as a dad is the value of one-on-one time. It's a whole different dynamic than when we're together as an entire family. My goal as a parent is to keep the lines of communication open so my kids feel like they can talk to me about anything and everything, especially when they get into some things that are over their heads!

Nothing like quality time with your kids. And I think the only way to have quality time is quantity time. I often feel under-qualified and over-whelmed by the changes my kids are going through. I feel like I need more parenting skilz. You know what I mean? But one thing every parent can do, no matter how skilled or unskilled, is just spend good old-fashioned one-on-one time with their kids.

My deepest desire as a dad is to see my kids grow up to love God and want to hang out with us when they are old enough to have a choice. But I think they'll want to hang out with us then if we hang out with them now!

Yard Saling Season

We got up this morning at went yard saling! Bowie is great for yard sales. We hit about 5-6 good ones this morning and we are just at the start of the season. After we buy enough, we have our own and sell it back to the world. Ridiculous, huh?

Doing a million things around our home today....painting, repairing, cleaning, organizing, throwing....home ownership is such a joy, but such a big job as well. I thank God today that we have a lovely home to be doing work on.

Have a good friend of mine coming to spend the evening with me. He will be at International Sunday tomorrow. hbhjljkxZNKxasioJKX,klj,.NMXZNMMCZXHJKASC

Davis just climbed on my lap and started hitting keys. He says hi!

--Bye

Friday, April 11, 2008

On the road again

Pray for me today. I am traveling again to see my friend in PA state prison. This is always a meaningful time well worth the investment. But it is 600 miles in the car and a 3 hour visit...draining no matter how you slice it. Takin the ole Avalon....approaching 150,000 miles. Always crosses my mind now whether this thing is ever going to take a rest on the roadside one of these days. I am glad that my sister, Selah is traveling with me today....this buddy of mine was like family to my family. Selah hasn't seen him in 5 and a half years!

--Noah

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shout to the Lord-- Idol Edition

Wildest thing happened....last night at the end of American Idol (Idol Gives Back), the 8 remaining contestants closed the show by singing the Hillsong worship song "Shout to the Lord". Pretty amazing. But, they left the name of Jesus out. They sang, "My Shepherd, my Savior...."

Tonight, they opened the show with the same song. The full song. And they put Jesus back in!! It was a fascinating thing to watch. Tricia and I just stared and smiled and looked at each other. I wanted to cry. We did'nt really know what to say. It was almost as if we did not have a basket to catch this in. 30 million viewers, saved and unsaved singers, national TV...it was moving and encouraging to watch. Praise the Lord. I hope millions of seeds were planted.

I googled it and read some reactions. After reading the first 20, I got pretty disgusted. If you want to read what I am talking about, Click here.

My Bucket List

I often say to people…KEEP DREAMING! I believe in dreaming and setting goals. About 7 years ago, while in college I started a list of things that I want to do before I die. I have been adding to that same list for years. It recently reached 50. I hesitated sharing this with you…

I feel a little vulnerable sharing these goals because they are so personal. And I realize that some of them are subject to interpretation. And some of them could be perceived as selfish in nature. The question that we need to keep asking ourselves when we dream is “what is the motivation behind the goal?” Oftentimes, we have weird goals with purer motives. I guess what I'm getting at is this: the motivation behind the goal is key. If your motivation is wrong, then you'd be better off not accomplishing it.

I tried to set these goals in the context of my faith. So I honestly see all of them as spiritual goals. Even the travel goals. Travel is one way to worship God. The more of creation I experience the more I appreciate the Creator! Man, has that proven true for me!

OK, Enough disclaimers.

My primary motivation in sharing this list is that I hope it inspires you to come up with your own list of life goals.

  1. Plant at least 25 churches
  2. Finish my Masters (almost there)
  3. Get a Doctorate
  4. Play in a golf tournament (and place)
  5. Write at least 10 books
  6. Take each of our kids on a mission trip
  7. Cruise the world
  8. Own a big honkin’ RV
  9. Do a Forty Day Fast
  10. Be a multi millionaire by 55
  11. Teach at a college
  12. Go on a missions trip to 5 different continents (3 down, 2 to go)
  13. Go on a cross country trip
  14. Go to China
  15. Go to Japan
  16. Go to Africa
  17. Drive the Audubon (rode on it, but didn't drive it)
  18. Travel the entire Silk Road
  19. Trace at least one of Paul’s missionary journeys
  20. Go to Switzerland
  21. Go to Austria
  22. Go to the Holy Land
  23. Take Tricia on a Romantic Italian Vacation (hopefully for our 10th)
  24. Go to Alaska
  25. Go to Australia
  26. Go to Hawaii
  27. Give back to Valley Forge Christian College
  28. Give back to Lanham Christian School
  29. Speak at a college commencement
  30. Be in all 50 states (28 down)
  31. Be a Father
  32. Pay my kids college
  33. Be a Grandfather
  34. Be a Great Grandfather
  35. See my children serve the Lord
  36. Trace my father’s genealogy
  37. Pay to take my entire family on a cruise
  38. Pastor a Mega-church
  39. Impact/Lead a denomination
  40. See many lives saved
  41. Own a Mercedes
  42. Drive a Tour Bus
  43. Drive an 18 wheeler
  44. Ride in a cockpit of a large jet
  45. Ride on a high speed train
  46. Run a mile
  47. Reconcile with Rich
  48. Be in great physical shape
  49. Pastor Pastors
  50. Serve as a Pro Football Team Chaplain

Notice that I leave the ones that I accomplish on the list to remember the realized dreams!

--Now, get dreaming. Make your list!

International Sunday is THIS SUNDAY!

Who are you BRINGING to church this Sunday? Remember, bringing and inviting are two totally different things. Bringing means that you are honking the horn in their driveway....and building relationship in the car ride! Remember, part of our purpose is LOVING PEOPLE!! Love them enough to bring them to church this Sunday! It is gonna be a great day. You should have seen all the people in the building last night printing signs and preparing decorations and paving the way for a great day this Sunday!

Our average attendance has been spiking high (just under 400) these last 4 weeks. Let's all do all that we can to keep it that way.

--Noah

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Busy Day

Man, it was a busy day! Loads of things to think about, talk about and pray about. I am thankful tonight that we serve a God who is never too busy for us. Lord, help us all in our busyness and business to seek you first and your righteousness and all these things will be added unto us (Matt. 6:33)!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Vague Sneak Peak

I am really excited about some things that have been coming together over the last few weeks. As you know, we have finally landed on an official Purpose Statement at CCF...Loving God, Loving People, and Living as Disciples. That has allowed some other things to get in motion now.

So often there are things that go on in my life and at the church that for many reasons, I cannot throw out here on my blog. However, tonight I want to give you a sneak peak of some things to come...
  • Now that we have a clearly defined purpose, we can explore how to live in and toward that purpose. We have been doing a lot of that these days as a staff!
  • So, just how do we do that? How do we live in and toward our purpose? The staff is working at providing leadership for this. You have actually heard it over and over....can you guess? More to come. I will be doing a series in May on our "Commitments to our purpose".
  • There are several improvements to our weekend worship services that we will be implementing by the end of 2008. Details to be unveiled soon. Very exciting stuff that will make CCF an even better place! (I really want to say more because I am very excited, but I will show restraint.)
  • New ministry qualifications will be unveiled soon. We are going to be stepping it up a notch at CCF! If you are in any form of ministry at CCF...I would encourage you to join a small group and attend Discovery 101 to become a member (if you haven't already). If you do, you will have a jump start on the things to come!
There is your vague sneak peak!

--Noah

It hurts to type...

There is something that I haven't been telling you. I started working out. Pastor Mike is a dedicated worker-outer and he has influenced (guilt tripped) me, my brother and Pastor Nelson into working out with him in the mornings at the church. It has been going on for 3-4 weeks now. I have not told you because I did not want anyone bothering me with accountability, smile. I know that this is right and good...it is just so difficult to stay committed to.

Well, Mike killed me the last 2 mornings and right now, it hurts to type. Yesterday, my hands felt like jello and it hurt to text. It is a good feeling though. Isn't it amazing how you can work out a few weeks and it does more to your head than your body. I mean, I keep looking down at my arms and chest and thinking "wow, look at that definition." LOL! No sure what this is impacting most...my body, my eyes, or my brain.

Either way, I gotta keep with it, so go ahead and ask me how I am doing with my commitment when you see me next.

--Noah

Monday, April 7, 2008

What's Up?

Just checking into my blog to say what's up?!?! Relaxing and watching a movie tonight. Not in the mood to write much this evening...but thought I would say hello! Hope you are doing well.

--Peace to you!

Weekend Report

A few things about this weekend:
  • Back safe from the wedding. Arrived home at 3am Sunday. Great trip. All went very well. Melyssa is officially married and planned a lovely wedding.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I took a coma! (it was more than just a nap, smile)
  • Pastor Mike preached his first sermon at CCF yesterday and did a fabulous job. Get the CD or listen on the web if you missed it.
  • Over the last few weeks, I feel like we have been observing "Extreme Makeover: Worship Team Edition". The Worship Team is configuring themselves on the stage in new ways, gelling together and playing with renewed excellence. I am super proud of them and excited about where they are headed as a team! Man, yesterday, they even had new curtains and lights and mics....good stuff. Go Caleb, Karen, Pastor Mike and Team!
  • Recently, I have almost felt guilty...because I have felt much more freed up to "only do what only I can do" than I have ever felt before. Lots going on, but it needs less and less of me to make it happen. Scary and great all at the same time! It's what I call GOOD STAFF!!
  • Example: Pastor Nelson has assembled just under 30 people to run International Sunday Meal and Celebration. I know nothing and have done nothing, but it will happen with great thought and excellence. He has it organized and full of member involvement! I love it!
  • Speaking of which...who are you BRINGING to International Sunday this weekend?

Amazing Quote

Pastor Mike preached an awesome message yesterday. In it, he used this quote which is written on a monument in Polynesia. Let this be the kind of faith that you have to make an impact in your sphere of influence...

"When he landed in 1848, there were no Christians. When he left in 1872, there were no heathens!"

--Dr. John Geddie from Canada

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Wedding Day

We made it safe. Smooth trip. Having a good time enjoying family. Today is the big day as my Sister-in-law gets married. You know what is so cool....in the time that Melyssa lived in Maryland and went to CCF, she built some meaningful relationships. Among them were Chris and Tonya Wood and they traveled up here for the wedding. So, last night we got to hang out and laugh a lot with the Wood's...in New York. Tell me why we have to travel 400 miles to hang out with church friends?!?!

--Noah

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Off to "La Boda"

Tricia, Davis, my Mom and I are leaving in 30 minutes for Upstate New York. My sister-in-law Melyssa is tying the knot on Saturday. Tricia is the Matron of honor, so she and her sister have loads of things to do tomorrow as they get ready for the BIG day. We will be in the Albany, NY area. Pray for our trip and the wedding. We intend to leave there Saturday night when everything is over (around 10pm) and drive all night to get back home. There are lots of reasons that we wanted to be back by Sunday PLUS there are no flights out of Albany late enough on Saturday or early enough Sunday to get us home for church. Unless plans change...we will see you Sunday...tired as we may be. Thank God Pastor Mike is preaching!

--Noah

Ghetto Baltimore

On Tuesday evening, I had an eye-opening and heart-touching experience that I want to share with you. I had a District Pastors meeting at Wilken's Ave. Mennonite Church in Baltimore. I accidentally arrived 45 minutes early (I wish that would happen to CCF members on Sundays). Anyway, since I had time to kill and it was a beautiful 75 degree evening, I decided to cruise around the streets of Baltimore with my doors locked and my windows down...makes sense, huh? After 5 minutes, I was in deep thought about what I was seeing. After 20, I was becoming choked up and felt like I was going to begin weeping for these streets. In 30 minutes I saw drug deals, drug dealers, prostitutes, drunks, open alcohol, high people stumbling around, tears, anger, children with no parents around and hardly any clothes on and more...a lot more. This area surrounding this church is ripped with pain, brokenness, poverty, lost people and stuck people. I cannot really even articulate it for you here, because even as I type right now, I am feeling for this area and lost people in an overwhelming way! I don't even know what to say.

Let me start here. How broken are we for broken people? How much of your energy goes into people that are lost, confused and dying? Have you ever driven through a neighborhood like this? Listen, I know that the nations need us! But, I am also struck by the fact that my neighborhood needs me! Baltimore, DC, and PG County has no shortage of lost and broken lives that need put back together.

I think that God is looking for people that are going to love the lost more than they do the saved! ...And live that out by putting more of their money, effort, time, energy and resources into going after them. Maybe, just maybe it should be the church? And don't tell me that it's already doing it...because it isn't! The church spends the huge majority of its money, time and energy pleasing itself and what kind of music and carpet it wants.

My prayer this afternoon is that we will become urgently concerned about loving and reaching people so that Jesus can forgive them and heal them! If this post wasn't already so long, I would start sharing with you what God has been showing me in Luke 7:36-50 over the last few days. Will post on this soon.

--Love you!

Life and Death

This morning, while reading a written testimony of a dear sister in our church that has battled cancer, I read these words...

"You can live dying or you can die living!"

WOW!!! That says a lot!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Wild Son

Here is Davis tonight listening to Gospel Music with his Uncle Randy. This kid is a dancer and keeps giving us laugh after laugh. (It dawns on me today...you just never know what you will find on this blog in a given day....I like diversity!)

video

International Sunday Coming Up...April 13th!

My Nephew

This is the funniest thing that have seen in a while....my Nephew James fell asleep yesterday in his jump-a-roo. Which essentially means that he was sleeping standing up.

Club 56

Club 56 is our ministry to CCF 5th and 6th graders every Sunday morning. They are using some material called Grapple. Each week they Grapple with another deep spiritual question. Rebecca Winner provides leadership for this ministry. She sent me this email earlier this week. With her permission, I am sharing it with you, and I think it will encourage you as it has me:

Sunday’s lesson was "Why doesn't everybody go to heaven?" It's the first in a 4-week unit on Jesus and salvation. We started during the clue time (which is where kids do some exploring in the Bible to answer questions related to the lesson of the day, under the coaching of their small group leader) by having kids look through the gospels for the different ways that Jesus described the Kingdom of heaven. We shared those verses with our small groups, and then each kid wrote a short description of what they thought heaven was like based on Jesus' words. They had a variety of insights. Then we moved into a small group time where we discussed several passages about who gets into heaven, and what the critera is: Matthew 7: 13-14; Romans 6:23; Isaiah 59: 1-2; and Romans 5: 20-21. Our 2 key points were that sin separates everyone from God, and that salvation is God's free gift through Jesus.

Many, many of our kids thought of heaven as a reward for doing good and had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that salvation isn't tied to our behavior. They had lots of questions: What if someone is bad for their whole life and then asks for forgiveness? Why should we bother doing good things if that's not what gets us into heaven? What if we're doing bad things for a good reason? What if we're not murderers but we still sin a little? We ended our time of Bible study by emphasizing the fact that salvation is God's free gift through Jesus: we can't earn it and we don't deserve it, and if we think we deserve it, we're not being honest with ourselves.

And AFTER this great class discussion, one young girl came to and asked me how she could be in a right relationship with God! We talked about what it means to ask God to forgive your sins and accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross, and about Jesus coming to live in our hearts, and then what it means to follow Jesus in our day to day lives. I encouraged her to think about all this and told her that when she was ready, I would be happy to pray with her.

So please pray for this young girl and for the 18 other kids who were in Club 56 last Sunday...they are thinking deeply about important spiritual issues, including their own salvation. I'd appreciate it if you would pass this prayer request on to anyone else that you think would be willing to pray specifically for the 5/6 graders this week and during the next three weeks as we continue to challenge them with their need to accept Jesus's free gift of salvation for themselves.

Club 56 has a great team of leaders: Rebecca Winner, Dami Bello, Joyce Brown, Lisa Edwards, Cori Haynes, Joe Kaye, Gail Medford, and Darrell Winner. They could really use 2 things:

  1. Prayer for these kids during this unit.
  2. One more male small group leader! They need a guy who likes kids, loves the Lord and can give us one Sunday a month. Small groups are 4 to 8 kids--never more than 8--and leading a small group involves coaching them through clue time and leading the discussion during Bible study time.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ornamental or Useful?

One of the things that has stuck in my spirit the most since Sunday's Potter message is this....

You probably know that once pottery has been formed, it has to be fired through a kiln...which is like an oven for pottery. Once it goes through the kiln it becomes hardened, strong, mature, and usable. If it does not go through the kiln, it is not even usable. Oh, and the hotter the temperature, the harder the pot becomes (Pottery is fired up to 2,000 degrees). Even if a clay pot sat out for 100 years and dried out, the slightest little bit of water would turn it back into a soft lump of clay.

If there is not a lesson in that for us, then I am not typing right now! Check this out...in the same way:
  • We need to go through the fire to become usable, strong and mature. (James 1:1-3)
  • The hotter the fire, the stronger and more usable that we become. So, remember that the next time that you are going through trials. The hotter the fire, the stronger and more usable you become. God must have a strong purpose for which He is preparing you!
  • If we do not go through the fire, the only use that we have is to sit there and look pretty (if that)...to be ornamental.
So I ask you, do you want to spend your existence being ornamental or usable for God's purposes?