- "Being There" in times of death is so important. Jesus modeled this well in John 11 when Lazarus died and he was there for Martha and Mary.
- It is natural, accepted and even expected to care for people when they experience a death in their family. (And that is how it should be.)
- But, death is not the only "loss" that people feel in a very deep way.
- Loss of a marriage (divorce) and loss of health can often leave people in just as deep a ditch emotionally as if someone died. Loss of a marriage or health is often accompanied by a great sense of grieving and mourning.
- HOWEVER, I believe that the church (and society) do not treat these losses as they do death. In my experience, there is nowhere near as much care and empathy available for these types of non-death losses.
- Should there be?
- In addition to being there for people impacted by death, what can the church do to "be there" for people experiencing these types of losses as well?
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Lee Funeral Home in Owings, MD. (8125 Southern Maryland Blvd.)
- Viewing, Tonight, Tuesday September 30th, 7pm-9pm
- Viewing, Tomorrow, Wednesday October 1st, 12pm-1pm
- Funeral, Tomorrow, Wednesday October 1st at 1:00pm
You can find out more info at www.fireproofyourmarriage.com.
Monday, September 29, 2008
This week, I am hoping to finish Pastor Dave's new book (not published yet) entitled "Now, Go Forward"!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Perhaps you want to know how you could help. Here are some ideas:
- PRAY!!! They need the power and presence of God right now that comes through intercession.
- Come to the funeral and show your support to Katie. We are her church. I will post the details later. The funeral will be at Lees's Funeral Home in Owings, MD and will likely be on Wednesday.
- Contribute Financially. There is a memorial fund set up in Steve's memory. Contributions can be mailed to: PNC Bank/Stephen Sadelson Memorial Fund at 8101 South Maryland Boulevard, Owings, MD 20736.
- Meals. Call the church if you can help in this way. We will point you in the right direction.
- Send Katie Alsop a card to 5607 35th Ave., Hyattsville, MD 20782.
There has never been a time when the Holy Spirit has not been active in history. Genesis 1 says “the Spirit moved over the face of the deep”. My very favorite Biblical description of the Holy Spirit is in John 3:8. It speaks to the mystery of the Holy Spirit when it says… “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." Just think of the wind of recent hurricanes. You can’t see the wind, but you can certainly see it effects and feel it!!
A few more thoughts:
Many of us do not recognize the Holy Spirit at work around us, because we don’t know what he looks like.
Excerpt from Mark Batterson’s book, "Wild Goose Chase"
The Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit that has always intrigued me. They called him An Geadh-Glas or the Wild Goose. I love the imagery and implications. The name hints at the mysterious nature of the Holy Spirit. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger and air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious at first earshot, I cannot think of a better description of what it's like to live a Spirit-led life than Wild Goose Chase. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something that institutionalized Christianity has missed out on. And I wonder if we have clipped the wings of the Wild Goose and settled for something less-much less-than God originally intended for us.
I think that we will see the Holy Spirit at work more in our lives, when we see him at work more in scripture. The Word of God shows us the Holy Spirit as.
- Water fertilizing and nourishing the weak and cleansing those that need purified. (Psalm 1:3, Eph. 5:26)
- Fire giving light to those in dark and burning away our impurities. (John 5:35, Mal. 3:2,3)
- Oil that consecrates and dedicates to holiness, comforts the grieving and heals the sick! (Luke 4:18, Heb. 1:9, Luke 10:34)
- Still small voice that guides us into truth, speaks conviction, comfort and encouragement. (John 16: 13, Heb. 3:7-11, John 16:7-11, John 14 26, Matt. 10.20)
- POWER to Witness!! (Acts 1:8)
- And certainly, the Holy Spirit is the source of godly FRUIT (fruit of the spirit) and the source of the GIFTS (gifts of the spirit).
Saturday, September 27, 2008
- Had a safe trip to PA and a great visit with my friend, Rich yesterday. Thankful for the camaraderie we share.
- On my way back, I was able to stop and see my Mom's Cousin, Cindy. She has had some big health struggles over the years and in the last few weeks has been diagnosed with cancer. Please pray for Cindy.
- Went to "Men of Purity" last night and getting ready to head back out for it again this morning. Thankful for the 6 guys from CCF that are with me.
- The women of the church and district have "Heart Spa" today. Trusting that they are going to have an awesome day together today!!
- Finally, I ask your prayers as well for a girl my age by the name of Katie Alsop. Her boyfriend (father of her 2 children) died in a very tragic way yesterday. His name was Steve Saddleson. Katie is a friend of my sister Selah and a fellow classmate and graduate from Lanham Christian School. We have known her for 15 years. In addition, CCF was the only church they had. Steve and Katie have been at CCF several times over the last year. Although they were not there often, we were "their church" and we need to step up during this in any way that we can. I will be going to see the family today. Pray for Katie Alsop and the Saddleson family if you think of them.
- Looking forward to what the Lord will do among us tomorrow. Preaching on the "Mystery of the Holy Spirit".
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Anyway, I like to take very good care of my automobiles. Find it to be a lot of fun and feel like it's good stewardship. I am really blessed to have a mechanic as a Best Friend. My buddy Joel hooks me up!! He and I have been waiting on the Avalon to reach 150,000 miles so we could treat her to some lovin'. Well, she reached 150k this week. So, she got an oil change, trans service, radiator flush, new rotors, new pads, 4 new tires, new speaker that was blown, new sensor that fixed the check engine light, a 4 wheel alignment, air filter, cabin air filter, and a full detail!! All in time for a 500 mile round trip to PA tomorrow!!
Most of you could care less about all of this, but I am pretty excited, so I wanted to share! (And yes, the other picture blow IS my car on a beach of Lake Ontario)
The posts this week on Swerve have REALLY stepped all over me. I can totally relate to much of what is being said. I have been trying to put this into words ever since I became a Pastor. It may not speak to you as much since it is written for Pastors, but I thought I would share because it has implication for you too in whatever role you serve, even at work.
Click here and read the last 5 or 6 entries if you have a few minutes.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Matthew 13:52...He said to them, "Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old."
As a leader of an ethnically, economically, denominationally and generationally diverse congregation, I am always looking for beautiful biblical expressions of our actual/unique experience at CCF! This verse is one of those expressions.
I like the way that this verse brings forth the importance & place for both the old and the new. The Kingdom of God embraces this. It's like wisdom and fruitfulness in fusion! Lord, help us to live in the mature wisdom of the old AND the effective fruitfulness of the new.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
If you were one of the folks waiting for that post, here is what you do. Click here and read my post about healthy church culture. Unhealthy church culture would be defined as the exact opposite of what I wrote there.
I will just share what I see as the top negative quality that I think is present in too many churches. It is this: People (Christians) being more interested in their own preferences and opinions than in Jesus's mission for the church and the lost! Church has become about "me" for far too many people and it is hindering the spread of the gospel...a gospel that is all about sacrifice.
...greater love has no one than this....that he lay his life down for his friend! (John 15)
...if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me! (Luke 9)
Thought it may be cool to share with you what the ministry map will involve. The ministry map will address the plan for the coming year with regards to:
- Next Steps we want people to take this year
- Defining WINS at CCF
- Ministry leaders and Ministry Leader Meetings
- Small Group Straegy for the year
- Plan for 101/201 (entry point stuff)
- Calendar and events
- Message themes and schedule
- Satffing 2009
- Future staffing plan
- Budget for the year!!
PRAY!! Pray for the Lord to lead us and for there to be Kingdom passion and energy among us!
Paul was too sold out to be a sell-out!!
I urge you to spend time in the word of God. Let it shape you! I know that some of it is hard reading, but you can gain energy from other parts that are thrilling to read. Hey, and try the Message translation of the Bible. You may find that you get it easier.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The purpose is for Staff and Small Group Leaders to hang out with new people and connect with them about taking their next step at CCF!
This is for all those that have started attending CCF since the start of 2008.
Spread the word!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Acts 28:1-10 (click to read it)
Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta and then he was bitten by a snake. Sounds like a bad day to me! But God had a plan! These 2 terrible things led to a divine appointment with the chief of the island. That meeting led to the whole island receiving healing and being impacted for the glory of God. This encouraged me that even when we may feel that are lives are shipwrecked or snake bitten and we don't understand why we are in this mess....we need to trust God's sovereignty. He has a plan. We just may not see it yet. If we did, we might mess it all up.
John 11: 1-43 (click here to read it)
In this passage Lazarus dies, Mary and Martha (his sisters) are grieving and Jesus shows up. But here is the problem. He shows up too late. At least that is what the sisters thought! You see, Lazarus was already dead and Mary and Martha are just convinced that if Jesus would have shown up earlier, he could have saved him (which didn't really matter since Jesus ends up raising him from the dead later in the passage). I don't know if you can relate to this, but over and over again I hear people second guessing tragedy and struggles. If I would have just..., I wish I could have...., If they would have just...., etc. We can all "could've, should've, would've" until we are blue in the face, but the reality is that God is still sovereign and he still has a plan. Again, if we knew too much about it, we would mess it up.
I think that John 11:4 captures God's intention for everything we face: "...it is for God's glory so the God's son may be glorified through it!"
God definitely has a plan for your life. He even has a plan for the bad stuff that seems to make no sense! What can you do this week to trust God's sovereignty more? You never know what he can end up doing with your shipwreck and your snake bite.
- Glad to have been able to see Bethann on Friday, although I know she is really hurting. Made the best out of a sad trip by enjoying my time with Tricia and Davis.
- Went to National Community Church Ebenezer's location last night. Thankful for the 10 people that came along. It was neat to watch a sermon on video. Not my first time, but it was for some CCF'rs that came along.
- Another stellar Small Group this morning. 10 people and great sharing. Topic was Making Connections session #2..."Being There"!
- Great service this morning. Heartfelt worship and Pastor Nelson did a fantastic job delivering the word. Great to see people at the altar dealing with the personal impact of a biblical passage (John 11).
- Skins just won!!!!! Pretty happy about that.
- Looking forward to a relaxing evening and a great week ahead. I am "all in" on thinking and planning for 2009. Much of this week will be dedicated to that. I love visionary planning.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Please pray for the Fultz family.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
- This blog gets 50-100 unique hits a day. Last week, we broke a record with 210 unique hits in a day.
- People in 44 U.S. states read my blog. Obviously, the most hits come from MD, but following that is VA, PA and FL.
- This is a shocker....people from 40 different countries around the world read it as well. The top 10 in volume come from the U.S., Guatemala, Canada, UK, Australia, Sweden, Philippines, China, South Korea and Ireland.
- About 20% of traffic to this blog comes from the CCF Website. (Funny thing is that close to 50% of traffic to the CCF Website links from this blog).
- I could go deeper and tell you what kind of operating system you are using, but I will stop. All this info is thanks to Google Analytics. Amazing tool!! Free.
- Digital Discipleship- Encourage godly thinking and spiritual growth.
- Previews (advertising) and Reviews (reporting) of CCF stuff/events!
- Capture memories with family, friends and church! As I read through the last year, there are so many memories that I would have never remembered again had I not blogged them.
- Share my heart, dreams, frustrations, joys, etc. with an often unknown audience of people that care enough to read it.
- To COMMUNICATE!!
- To create an online forum for CCF and others to interact about issues.
- Finally, because I have began to LOVE writing!
Thanks to all you who read it!
Our Thursday small group was outstanding last week too. Not sure if I told you. The Making Connections material led us to a time of open sharing and a snotfest. Lots of tears. Great stuff.
This and other stories are solidifying even more deeply my sense that life transformation happens in circles among trusted friends, not in rows among casual acquaintances.
I told the staff yesterday that it felt like we spent 6 months this year vision casting and vision casting and vision casting. Then, we spent the summer planning for the fall. And now, the fall is is underway and because of the good planning and work that went into it, it almost feels like it's in autopilot. We know our Small Group topics, we know where our messages are headed and we are just living it out! I am VERY PLEASED with what I am seeing so far this fall. People are buying in!
Now (just in the last few weeks), I feel like I can really begin to think about direction for the coming year and it is thrilling! I love this stuff. I love forward thinking and dreaming. Sensing that 2009 will be a year of stability and letting our purpose take deeper root in our hearts. We need to live in this now! No big changes in ministry model or direction. Just living the vision and letting it take hold. That's the name of the game for 2009. Look forward to seeing people increase in their love for God, for people and their journey in discipleship! Sound Familiar?
This Sunday, 9/21 12:30-2:30
Tell any new folks you know about!
Men of Purity Weekend
Next Friday, 9/26 7pm-9pm & Saturday 9/27 9am-12pm
at Trinity Assembly of God in Lanham
Tell every man you know! They can get more info at church on Sunday.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
- Biblical. Church culture clearly communicates a focus on scripture in teaching, preaching, programs, ministries and living!
- Christ-centered. Jesus is known as the center and builder of the church. It is His work and mission, not ours! We are trying to help him accomplish it!
- Worshiping. Genuine worship is commonplace in services, events, and programs, but more importantly in choices and in life!
- Evangelistic. It is common that conversations revolve around the lost and known across the church that we are here for lost people, just like Jesus was.
- Discipling. Healthy churches find a balance between getting people and growing people
- Transformational relationships. Life friendships are being made. Genuine and honest sharing and doing life together.
- Other obvious things that should be present in every church like prayer, stewardship, exercise of spiritual disciplines, passion for God, the presence and movement of the Holy Spirit, etc.
- Commitment to the vision/purpose of the church.
- Trust and submission to leadership.
- Willingness to confront and live Matthew 18...engaging in honest and healthy church conflict.
- Openness to correction as iron sharpens iron.
- Willingness to risk and experiment with new things.
- Openness to change.
- Small things can make a big difference and short glimpses and first impressions can last a long time!
- Irrelevance is irreverence.
- Empower the next generation (even when it scares you).
- Embracing that God deserves excellence. Excellence pleases God and inspires people! (If it is worth doing at all, it is worth doing right!)
- Willing to face the tough topics and talk about the uncomfortable stuff.
- More interested in the lost, the wounded, the hurting and the poor than the found, the full, the wealthy and the healthy.
- Understanding that church is not all about us, but about Jesus, His mission and his heart for the lost.
- Willing to sacrifice my own opinions, comforts and traditions for a greater Godly good.
- Willingness to let go of the "good" old days (yesterday) for a "GREAT" future (tomorrow).
So, here are a few things that I have been learning this year....a year that we have cast clear vision as a church!
- I think there are healthy and unhealthy qualities in every culture. The difference between a specific church culture and an entire national culture is that the church is intended to represent Christ as His body....hence, it has the mandate to weed out and remove bad culture (namely unrighteousness). Although I think every church will struggle somewhere with this, we should never settle for bad culture. I don't ever want CCF to!
- I believe that vision/purpose should form culture. Not the the other way around. I have seen CCF's purpose forming and reforming our culture this year. I think that is a great thing!
- It is VERY difficult to change culture. Culture is more like a promise....you either make it or break it. So, if it's bad culture, you have to break it and the remake it.
- I believe that unhealthy culture effects the leaders the fastest and hardest. Often others in the organization may not even feel it or know it's there. However, the leaders do and they strongly impact the temperature of the church. As a result, wounds will bleed and stain others. Don't kid yourself. I have learned that I do not hide it as well as I think. Defensiveness and "culture correction" can often happen passively in messages and other forums. I know because I have been guilty. I believe that leaders must find godly and healthy ways to break unhealthy culture!
Monday, September 15, 2008
1. Focus more on being a friend than on making one! (v. 9)
2. Talk to your friends, not about them! (v. 12)
3. Be careful not to downplay the importance of online friendship; it’s prevalence is speaking!
4. Pay attention to who Jesus chose as friends! (Samaritans, sell-outs and sinners)
5. For the real deal, trust is a must! (See this post)
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV) (9) Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: (10) If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! (11) Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? (12) Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Friend Day was a great success! Great service, wonderful food, an meaningful connections were made.....to each other and to the Lord. Our Worship Team did something yesterday that I have never seen! In the middle of the worship set, they played a shorter version of this video below. There was basically continual praise throughout the whole thing. It was powerful. Take the 6 minutes and watch this. It will cause your worship and love for God to increase! I want to meet this guy. This is a recording from many, many years ago, so the sound is weak, but the words are strong.