The Best Year of Your Life Pt.2 Today Matters

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt. 2 – Today Matters

Most people share a common curiosity about the future. People want to know:

•What’s going to happen in my life tomorrow, next week, & next year?

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

People often view themselves as victims of fate. Waiting for a “good break” or “to get lucky” in the events of life. (cross your fingers philosophy)

It is God’s plan and His will that you have a great future!

“How you see your future is much more important than what has happened in the past.”– Zig Ziglar

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ (good) plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a (good) future.

TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose 

RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something

The story is told of a young boy who asked his father what his New Year’s resolution was; and, his father told him he was going to do everything possible to make his mother happy in the coming year. The boy, then, asked his mother what her New Year’s resolution was; and, she replied: “To do everything possible to ensure that his father kept his resolution!”

Jesus intended for you to have the best year of your life

John 10:10 ESV – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Abundant – existing or available in large quantities; plentiful. profuse, rich, lavish, abounding, liberal, generous, bountiful, large, huge, great, paramount, overflowing, prolific

The Truth About LIFE

Dearly beloved…We are gathered here today…To get through this thing called “life” – Prince

Isaiah 22:13 NLT – But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

1. Life is Fleeting

(Psalm 39:4-5 NLT) “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 5  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

2. Life is Valuable

Psalm 90:12 NIV “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

“Life is a dash between two numbers on a tombstone, and everybody should enjoy that dash” Dr Neil Shulman (Movie Doc Hollywood)

Dash – Separating a beginning and an ending. What do you see? That 1 or 2 inch mark stands for a whole life.

18 times a minute you breathe, 25,920 times a day FREE of Charge

When you think about it, we don’t have much control over many things in life:

  1. Born, Parents, Time period/culture
  2. Death – Only God knows – Our lives are in His hands

One thing we do have control over – We get to decide how we are going to use our dash – How we will spend that time?

Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV – This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Choose – pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

Your future is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice! Today’s decisions will have a big impact on your life and future.

Most people don’t lead their own lives—they accept their lives

Today Matters!

Choose to make today a ridiculously amazing day!

Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV  “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

We have a tendency to over exaggerate yesterday

We have a tendency to over estimate tomorrow

We always under estimate today

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

Matthew 6:34 (LB) “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow — God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”

Most people are focused on the wrong day. It’s too late for yesterday – stop reliving yesterday. And you can’t depend on tomorrow – won’t magically get better. The best time to start is now

*Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 

Psalm 118:24 NIV “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

This year I’m going to…

Proverbs 27:1 NIV – Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

3. Live Today with Passion

Mark 12:30 (Message) – “So love the Lord your God with all your Passion and prayer and intelligence and energy”

Passion is the spark of life. Without it life has no meaning. It means object of desire, deep interest, zeal, fervor, enthusiasm.

Luke 7:31,32 (NIV) “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’”

Jesus is saying we played the music of life for you, but you didn’t dance. you didn’t enjoy life. You were always waiting to live. you were stuck!

•Then when the pain and problems came your way, you didn’t cry, you didn’t experience life. you tried to avoid risks at all costs.

Go ahead DANCE as though no one is watching you, LOVE as though you have never been hurt before, SING as though no one can hear you, LIVE as though heaven is on earth!

•You may be extroverted or introverted, it doesn’t matter – God made you to feel things deeply.

•Jack London eloquently described this kind of life: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy permanent plant. The proper function of man is to live, not exist. I shall not wast my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.”

Remember: Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm and passion wrinkles the soul!

James 4:14 (NCV) “You do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time. But then it goes away.”

The greatest enemy is not death, but a life unlived!

William Wallace said, “Every man dies; but not every man lives”

Neglect enough Today’s, and you’ll experience the “someday” you’ve wanted to avoid! 

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Marcus Aurelius

Quotes:

The future starts Today, not Tomorrow – Pope John Paul II

The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the buts you use today. Les Brown

I believe in living today. Not in yesterday, nor in tomorrow. Loretta Young

How To Survive the End of the World Part 1

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“How To Survive the End of the World Pt.1”

Everybody wants to know about the end of the world. Some people love to make predictions about when it will happen, some people love to interpret current news and speculate how it will happen, and everyone loves to make money selling their terrifying visions to anyone willing to buy them..

The end is coming. Are we ready for the day when it all comes crashing down and nothing is left but the countdown to the end of the world? In this series we will talk about ways that we can get ready for the end and start living for the beginning of the rest of our lives.

“The Book of Eli,” “The Darkest Hour,” “Contagion,” “The Day After Tomorrow, “San Andreas”. The list of doomsday movies that Hollywood produces is incredible. Yet, they keep coming. There’s something about these end of the world stories that fascinates us, frightens us and keeps us coming back for more. The theme that inspires is survival. Against all odds, when all hope is lost, humanity grabs hold of courage, defies the enemy and turns the tide.How will you survive the end of the world?

(Matthew 24:1-6 NIV) “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

1. Don’t Be Alarmed, Don’t Be Troubled

Jesus wants us to be calm, quiet spirited, not worried, and not to be deceived.

(2 Peter 3:3-10 NIV) First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ʻcomingʼ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Writing this letter near the end of his life, Peter wanted to remind Christians that the final day is real. He calls it “the day of the Lord” and reminds his Christian readers that it is unquestionably coming.

To scoff means to speak in a scornful or mocking way. What do scoffers think about the end? In verse 4, Peter says that the false teachers mock the promise of Christ’s return and a final judgment. “Where is it?” they ask. “Ever since the days of the ancient patriarchs the world has gone on without interruption.” The scoffers claim that God has not and will not intervene in world history.

How do we know?

√ People will do their own thing. 

(Me focused, materialistic, Selfie Centered)

(Matthew 24:37-39 NIV) “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”

√ People will forget God.

(Matthew 24:12 NIV) “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”

Many will turn away from the Faith, against the Faith, Twist the Faith, & Tune out the Faith. Have Misplaced Priorities.

√ People will think Heʼs not coming.

(1 Thessalonians 5:2 NIV) “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

√ People will not be ready.

(Matthew 24:40-42 NIV) “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

If the end is near…

1.I should pray.

(1 Peter 4:7 NIV) “The end of all things is near, therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”

Anytime God wanted something done on the earth he calls someone to pray!

Luke 21:36 NIV –  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Real prayer is driven by relationship not need or crisis.

U can dump your junk. God gets bigger, your junk gets smaller.

Causes u to b more focused minded

a. Make it personal not formal.

(Matthew 6:7-8 NIV) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

b. Pray with confidence.

(Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

“The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.” – Martin Luther

(James 5:16 NLT) “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

2.I should focus on my relationships.

(1 Peter 4:8-9 NIV) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Relationships are far more important than issues or disagreements. Get over those quickly.

most important – on 9/11 ppl were making last calls to loved ones

a. What relationship needs to be initiated

(Luke 6:13 NIV) “When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them…” 

  b.  What relationship needs to be nurtured

(Galatians 5:13-15 NIV) “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” 

c. What relationship needs to be restored

(Ephesians 4:3 NIV) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” 

Colossians 3:13 NIV – Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

3. I should get my life right with God.

(2 Peter 3:11 NIV) “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly

lives.”

(Matthew 24:42 NIV) Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 

(Romans 10:9-10 NIV) “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

4.Share Christ with urgency

(Luke 12:16-21 NCV) “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Conclusion

Just as there was a beginning, there will be an end. We will not be reincarnated. We live once, we will die once and then we will stand before God. For unbelievers, today is the day to believe in him and turn from sin. For believers, today is the day to live lives of godliness and holiness so that we are ready for that final day.

When the End looks Troubling – Look Up! Look to Christ! 

Luke 21:28 NIV – When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

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“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

2 Timothy 1:13-14 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 

Pastors, we must be keepers of the culture. If we are weak on our culture, others will come in and define it for us. Therefore we have the God given responsibility to set the culture.

Culture – Predominating attitudes and behaviors that characterizes the function of the organization.

GOAL – Life Giving Culture

John 10:10 NIV – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life,and have it to the full.

Some of Our Culture Attitudes at GraceTown….

  1. Leadership
  2. Serving – Everyone should be serving somewhere, if not they are not on the map
  3. Excellence
  4. Passion
  5. Fun
  6. Authenticity

Churches have barriers to growth – 100, 200, 500, 800, 1000. Although each barrier is unique, there are 3 key factors that apply to every barrier we will face as a church.

1. Inspiring and consistently excellent worship services

•Our services are WELL PLANNED, but feel FLEXIBLE and UNRUSHED. They are upbeat but relaxed.

•We only have 52 Sunday’s a year and every single one needs to count!

2. Clear pathways to Connection and involvement

3. Effective and life giving Structure and administration

Don’t be afraid to lead – rid yourself of the thinking that you are inadequate or unqualified.

Leadership is Influence – John Maxwell

Our day today is an emotionally charged, overweight burden down society that needs LIFE, from life giving leadership!

What Life Giving Leadership Is:

A. Leadership is not a project, leadership is a spirit. People don’t need a position to be a leader.

B. Leadership must give encouragement and confidence

C. Joshua’s Leadership Training –

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be dismayed.”

•God was focusing on Joshua’s spirit before the task.

D. For God to get us to where he would like us to be, He needs us to realize our leadership is more about a spirit than a task. Be strong, inspired, and full of courage, life and purpose. Life Giving Leadership

•Leadership is more than information, communication, and projects. Leadership is spirit

•Remember this – “Your Leadership can be something that people have to overcome, or something that helps people overcome.” – Kevin Gerald

F. It should cause people to lighten up

  • When the life of God is flowing, there should be lots of smiling and laughing. (Seattle fish market – a fun place to work)

G. Life Giving leadership is positive and inspiring –

Proverbs 16:15 (message) says, “Good tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re life spring rain and sunshine.”

H. We will not resort to a negative, forceful, or whiney approach to motivate. This leads to immaturity.

I. To be an effective leader – STAY POSITIVE.

J. Leaders are like an elevator – you are either taking people up or taking them down. Make a decision to take people up!’

Life Giving Leaders are…

1. Life Giving leaders are always growing and reaching to improve their leadership. Take responsibility for your own failures as well as successes. If you keep learning, you will improve, and your leadership will get better.

2. Life Giving leaders are pushing the boundary lines to move beyond what is normal or usual. Leaders are pioneers. They venture into unexplored territory and guide to new and often unfamiliar destinations.

3. Life Giving leaders are risk-takers. They reject the maintenance mentality and take risks from strength, preparing thoroughly, understanding what is at stake, and marching forward with confidence. It is never too late to be what you might have become!

4. Life Giving leaders are resource finders and releasers. They have built a leadership pipeline that finds potential leaders, trains them, and releases them to greater levels of ministry.

5. Life Giving leaders are future-focused and dedicated to do whatever it takes to get there. Their faith capacity has increased to believe that God will provide all that is necessary as the need arises. Their people capacity is increased so that getting along with and caring for people is at the leader’s heart.

Our Commitment each Sunday

Remember Team – It’s a Privilege and opportunity to serve. It’s never asking too much of people to serve.

1. Each person I encounter today is loved by God & needs to feel special.

2. I need to make a personal impact through a smile, a word of kindness or an act of love.

3. I will remember what it feels like to be new.

4. My responsibility is not simply to carry out a task but to engage each person individually.

5. I am vitally important to impacting lives today.

6. I will be in a great mood on Sundays & will not let anyone or anything Hijack my great mood

7. I will be ready to meet any need that arises

8. I will have a sense of responsibility for everything that happens on Sunday

9. I will focus on People and processes

10. During service I will be alert, take notes & be an example in Worship

Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

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Parenting: What Kids Need Most from Parents

Psalm 127:1-5 NIV – Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves. 3  Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court

85% of parents are unsure about how to raise their children

Traits Parents Want Children to Possess

  1. 63%  – Sense of Responsibility
  2. 49% – Good Manners
  3. 45% – Meaningful Faith
  4. 29% – Independent

You’re not going to have your kids forever at home. Isn’t it amazing how quickly our kids grow up?

As parents, every one of us really wants to be good parents. We want to have strong families. But the fact is, the pace that we live and the constant pressures of our careers to always produce more often put our families at risk. Is it possible to achieve success and build a healthy family at

the same time? Is it possible to raise faithful kids in our world today?

This morning we’re going to look at six things that kids need most. I don’t care if you’re a parent or not. There are children in your life. They may be nieces or nephews or neighbor kids. I didn’t get these things from some current fad book but out of the greatest text book ever written on parenting, God’s Word — the Bible. These six things are the six things God does to you as a heavenly father. He wants you to do those six things to the people that you see in your life — not just children but the other people around you.

  1. KIDS NEED COMPASSION

More than anything else, kids need unbelievable love, unconditional love. There needs to be a place where you’re accepted — warts and all.

What is compassion? Compassion is a combination of love and understanding. Compassion is where I know everything about you and I still like you.

I John 4:7 NIV – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Love is not natural. You have to learn to love. You learn it by practicing. What better place to practice than the people you’re forced to live with all your life. If you can learn to love your family, you can love anybody. Why? Because you don’t have to live in close contact with anybody else as much as you do your family. It’s easy to love people at a distance, but when you’re with them all the time you don’t always get along. When you practice love in the family you’re learning to really love.

Three ways to express love. A lot of times we love our kids but we don’t express it the way they can get it. Children understand love three ways: affection, attention, affirmation.

  1. Affection. They need lots of hugs and touches and kisses. They need to feel it.

2.    Affirmation. They need to hear it. A lot of dads have a problem with this. You need to tell them — everyday, more than once a day. Affirm them and build them up with love.

3.    Attention. One of the greatest gifts you can give somebody is listen to them. When you look at a person eye, at that child on his level, you’re saying “You matter to me. You’re valuable to me. I want to hear what you have to say. You’re important to me.” You’re showing compassion, the same kind of compassion God shows you, you’re to show others.

2. KIDS NEED COUNSEL

They need direction, advice, wisdom. Study after study has shown that the number one indicator of successful children — kids who grow up to be successful adults — is a stable value system. That’s counsel. Kids who grow up knowing “This is right… This is wrong” make it in this world –

– kids who don’t flame out. It’s taught in the Bible but it’s confirmed in study after study. A stable value system — we all need a foundation. Kids need to know boundaries — this is right, this is wrong. This is what you do, this is what you don’t do.

A while back on 20-20 they did a study on the explosion of juvenile crime in America. Their conclusion was this: The rapid rising rate of sociopathic juvenile behavior is due primarily to declining moral values. The moral vacuum these children grow up in has resulted in a loss of concern for others. They’re motivated by a desire to please themselves through instant gratification, regardless of who gets hurt.

Deut. 6:6-7 ESV –  6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Four things God says:

1. “You must teach these commandments.” Circle “you” That’s not the government, the school system, social clubs. He’s talking about parents. It’s the parents’ duties to teach moral values. Today in America, we’re acting like we expect the government to teach them or the schools. We shouldn’t be surprised that the schools don’t teach them. It’s not the school’s job. It’s the parent’s job.

2. “You must …” Circle “must”. It’s not optional. If I’m not doing this, I’m not being a very good parent. I’m slacking off in my job if I’m not teaching moral values, if I’m depending on the school or the youth group or the church (however good it may be) to do my job.

3. “You must teach…” and notice where it says to teach: When you’re at home, out for a walk, bedtime, first thing in the morning — all the time. If you’re a parent you’re always teaching. You’re always teaching something. If you’re setting there watching TV you’re teaching something — you’re modeling because little eyes are watching you 24 hours a day.

4. And then it says what you teach: “You must teach these commandments” Circle “commandments”. God did not give us Ten Suggestions. He gave us Ten Commandments. It’s not a matter of “Think about these if you want to…” It’s “Do it!”

You cannot parent in your spare time. You cannot raise quality children in your spare time. If you have children, God has called you to be a parent. If you blow it in that area you have blown your major responsibility

3. KIDS NEED CORRECTION

They need correction because they make mistakes. There are no perfect children. They need discipline, accountability, training. If you love somebody you’re going to care about them enough to correct them.

Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV – My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.[a]

Proverbs 13:24 NIV – Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Proverbs 19:18 NIV – Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

The Bible says that you are to correct three ways: quickly, calmly, sparingly. You need to understand the difference between punishment and discipline. We are to treat our children the way God treats us. If you are a child of God, if you’ve trusted God, you’re a believer and you’ve asked Christ into your life, then when you sin, God does not punish you because all the punishment was paid for on the cross. God doesn’t have to punish you because Jesus took that punishment. God does not punish Christians for their sins.

He does discipline them. There’s a big difference. The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty. The purpose of discipline is to promote growth. The focus of punishment is toward the past — what you’ve done wrong. The focus of discipline is toward the future — what you can be. The attitude behind punishment is anger. The attitude behind discipline is love. “I’m going to correct you. I’m going to help you go in the right way.” God doesn’t want you to punish your kids. He wants you to discipline them.

4. KIDS NEED CONFIDENCE

The fact is, life is tougher today on kids than it’s ever been before. You wouldn’t want to be a kid growing up today because of the pressures, the stress, the pace, the value systems, the expectations on kids — they are enormously greater than they were just a generation ago. For that

generation it was greater than the generation before. Our world is tough on kids’ self esteem.

Educators discovered through national testing and state testing that related to self esteem, 85% of all third graders have strong self esteem. In other words they felt pretty good about themselves. By junior high that figure had dropped to 65%. Only 65% of all junior highers feel good about themselves – have good self esteem. But when they tested in high school, by high school graduation the seniors only 5% registered high self esteem. The older our kids get, the worse they feel about themselves. We are living in a society that is constantly tearing everything down.

From Cornell University: “America’s families and their children are in trouble so deep and so pervasive as to threaten the future of our nation. The source of the trouble is nothing less than a national neglect of children and those primarily engaged in their care, the American parent. Our national rhetoric withstanding (all this talk about family values) the actual patterns of life in America today are such that children and families come last on our schedule.”

Colossians 3:21 ESV – Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.

Are you an un-pleasable parent? It’s so easy to look at the negative in your kid’s life. Is the cup half full or half empty? What do you see? If they get C’s, you want B’s. If they get B’s, you want A’s. If they get A’s, you want straight A’s. Finally, the Bible says, kids just give up. Unpleasable parents produce insecure kids.

I Corinthians 13:7 LB – If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

If you want to raise confident kids, you’ve got to build them up more than you tear them down. You’ve got to give more strokes than you give pokes. You’ve got to give more cheers than you give jeers.

Every child needs somebody in their corner, somebody who’s their cheerleader and believes in them and who says, “I know you can do it. I believe in you. I think you’re terrific. You’re the best. Go for it! I’m behind you. I know you can make it.” Kids need confidence.

5. KIDS NEED CELEBRATION

That is just a fancy word for fun. Families ought to have fun! The home should be a place to play. This is a major fault in many, many homes where the parents are basically good parents, they’re watching out for their kids, but you don’t have enough fun at home. You’re too busy. You come home with your “to do” list after work is over and all that stuff has got to be done and you just don’t have time for fun.

Do you endure your kids or do you enjoy them? Kids need celebration.

Ecclesiastes 11:8 NCV– People ought to enjoy every day of their lives, no matter how long they live. But they should also remember this: You will be dead a long time. Everything that happens then is useless

Jewish Proverb – “What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul”

“When people are laughing and having fun, they’re generally not killing each other” Alan Alda

We want Church to Be Fun! Example: Bloopers in Church bulletins

•”Don’t let worry kill you. Let the church help.”

•”Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.”

•”Thursday, there will be a meeting of the Little Mother’s Club. All wishing to become Little  Mothers, please see the minister in his study.”

•”This being Easter, we’ve asked Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.”

•”A bean supper will be held Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.”

•”At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be: What is hell? Come early and listen to the choir practice.”

•”Tuesday at four p.m. there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk, please come early.”

•”Wednesday, the ladies literary society will meet and Mrs. Johnson will sing, Put Me in My Little Bed accompanied by the Reverend.”

•”On Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the expenses of a new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the carpet please get a piece of paper.”

•”The service will close with Little Drops of Water. One of the ladies will quietly start and the rest of the congregation will join in.

If you’re not having fun with your kids at home, you’re not celebrating, don’t be surprised that they don’t want to spend time at home. If you don’t have fun with your kids and really enjoy them, don’t be surprised when they grow up and move out that they don’t want to come back very often. They won’t remember it as “That’s a place to go and have fun!” You need to not just endure your kids, you need to enjoy them.

6. KIDS NEED CONSISTENCY

They need consistency from their parents, that we’re not fickle, that we’re not always changing our mind, that we don’t live in a home where a mother or father is a Doctor Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and keeps changing back and forth.

But our model of consistency of course is our heavenly Father.

Psalms 145:13 – 17 NIV- Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14  The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.

As parents, we have to be faithful to our promises and fair in our decisions. If you’re not consistent — if you’re inconsistent — inconsistent parents not only produce insecure children, they produces bitter children. There is no greater source of bitterness in people’s lives than broken promises.

It’s not my goal to work up a bunch of guilt so that you realize how much you need to improve in these areas. The truth is this: There are no perfect parents. They don’t live on this planet. There are no perfect families. There are no perfect people. You were raised by imperfect parents. Your parents were raised by imperfect parents. So were theirs… There’s never been a perfect person on this earth except for the Lord Jesus Christ. God loves to use imperfect people to get His job done

Our goal should be to have a healthy family — not perfect, healthy. My kids are not perfect; they never will be. I never expect them to be. But they are healthy.

How do you build a healthy family? It takes wisdom.

Proverbs 24:3 NCV – It takes wisdom to have a good family, and it takes understanding to make it strong.

The good news is this: There is a place you can get wisdom for parenting that is absolute tried and true and it’s worked for generations. It’s called God’s word. If you will build your life around the principles in this word and establish a relationship with its author Jesus Christ, He will give you the strength and the wisdom to pull it off, to do the best you can — not to be perfect but to do it the best you can.

Prayer:

Would you say this prayer? “Jesus Christ, I want to be all that You want me to be. I want You to help me to influence the next generation by building these things into the lives of the children around me whether I’m a parent or not. Help me to treat other people with compassion, to build up their confidence, celebrate our differences, be consistent with others, to be what You would want me to be. Help me to treat my children and others the way You would. In Your name I pray, Amen.”

The Power of Team Partnerships

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The Power of Team Partnership

Exodus 17:8-13 NIV The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Everybody needs Somebody. Ministry is never meant to be done alone.

All Good Things Flow From Relationship
•When God found you…he found you alone
* When He saved you…he saved you alone
* But He called you into the family of God
* 2 are better than 1

Andrew Carnegie said, “It marks a big step in your development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you can do alone.”

Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

As an organization and leader we should encourage Flexibility, Change, and Innovation

One of the things that separates winning and losing teams is how the team’s good players are placed. Take a look at what I mean:

The wrong person in the wrong place = regression
The wrong person in the right place = frustration
The right person in the wrong place = confusion
The right person in the right place = progression
The right PEOPLE in the Right Place = MULTIPLICATION

The Power of Partnership

“God is look for people through whom He can do the impossible – what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.” AW Tozer

Partnerships at GraceTown will not be a preference but a Requirement!

1. Partnership UNIFIES for Strength

•Partnership works together to support God’s leadership and win the battle – Aaron & Hur

2. Partnership IDENTIFIES opportunities

•Partnership ignores the nay sayers and claim God’s promises – Joshua & Caleb

3. Partnership INTENSIFIES commitment to one another

•Partnership commit to journey together and be spiritually linked – Ruth & Naomi

4. Partnership PURIFIES motives

•Partners trust unconditionally and take risks unreservedly – David & Jonathan

5. Partnership SOLIDIFIES new alliances

•Partnerships take on daunting tasks and refuse to stop until the work is done – Nehemiah and the wall builders

“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team” John Wooden

One person can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one person cannot make a team. The team player is the one who makes things go – the one who is willing to do and sacrifice whatever it takes to make the team successful.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:10  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them 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 quickly broken.

Romans 12:4-5 NIV –  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.” Mother Teresa

The Presence of God

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I Am the Church Pt 4 – The Presence of God

Exodus 33:12-16 NIV –  Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

David Valued the Presence of God

•Psalm 51:11-12 ESV – Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

The Importance of the Presence of God

•When God shows up, man made stuff is not needed. Presence of God is not weird. People are weird and their expressions.

When people step into worship services, they should sense that heaven has stepped down. -Steven Lawson

-Some People are IGNORANT to God’s Presence
•Acts 19:1-2 (NIV) – While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you Believed? They answered, No we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit”.

-Some People are RESISTANT to God’s Presence
•Acts 7:51 (NIV) – “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit.”

•II Timothy 3:5 – “….having a form of godliness, but denying it’s power.”

2 Corinthians 3:16-17 Message – “Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are – face to face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it!”

We need the POWER not just words

•I Corinthians 2:3-5 – 3And(A) I was with you(B) in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of(C) the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but(D) in the power of God.

2. We need an EXPERIENCE not just an explanation

•John 9:17-25 – So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said,(A) “He is a prophet.” The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus[a] to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

•The Proof of God is not an explanation but is a Changed Life

3. We need PRESENCE not just practice

•Acts 2:28 – 28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
   you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

a. Every Church has a liturgy. A form that you can predict. We need the presence of God to interrupt our liturgy. Our program. We can’t have the Practice w/out His presence.

Presence of God is a Breath of Fresh Air

1. It produces REST. It’s not a goofy expression, but it’s peace!

•Isa. 63:14 (NIV) – They were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.

2. It Produces FREEDOM. Not goofiness or a distraction.

•2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV) – Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Freedom.

3. It Produces JOY.

•Psalm 16:11 ESV – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

•Raisin – A grape that lost its Joy. Raisins think Grapes are weird. they got juice! Prunes – used to be plums. (they are a moving experience)
•Count it all joy…..
•Jesus Rejoiced for 1 hour
•Sow in tears reap with songs of Joy!
•Phil. 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord Always, again I say rejoice

4. It Produces VICTORY in your Life

• Psalm 68:1-2 – To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. A Song.
1 Let God arise, Let His enemies be scattered. Let those also who hate Him flee before Him.  2 As smoke is driven away, So drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

•When God gets up (HIS Presence shows up), The enemy has to go!
•In the OT, When they picked up the ARK of the Covenant, Moses would say, “let God Arise!”
-arise; to rise, rouse up, stir up
•Verse 2 = Satan has a nervous breakdown.

Scattered: dashed into pieces or break

It Gives Direction

•Romans 8:26-27 NIV –  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Preparing for an Encounter with the Presence of God

Matthew 13:14-15 ESV – Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Hosea 10:12 ESV- Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

DESPERATION: Wanting God’s Way

•Matthew 5:6 –  6″Blessed are those who hunger and(A) thirst(B) for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

•Jeremiah 29:13 NIV – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

2. HUMILITY: Wanting God’s Will

•Luke 22:42 ESV- saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

•II Chron 7:14 ESV –  if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

3. REPENTANCE: Wanting God’s Work

•Psalm 51:10-13 ESV – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not( your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

•God doesn’t want perfection, but brokeness.

I Am the Church Part 2

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“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2: 42-47

GraceTown Church purpose statement

“Connecting Seekers to God and to a Community of Christ Followers”

PEOPLE MATTER TO GOD!

People who matter the most:

1. The un-churched (spiritually disconnected)

“”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
John 3:16-17

2. The hurting and wounded

Luke 10: 25-37 (Story of the Good Samaritan)

3. The Children

“Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:13-14

4. Those who cannot help themselves

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25: 35-40

The poor, the stranger, the sick and elderly, and the condemned

FOUR KEYS TO WINNING WITH PEOPLE

1. Caring for people should always precede confronting people.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? Matthew 5:13

Salt adds something rather than take away something!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Light doesn’t attack darkness; it replaces it!

2. Do for others what they can’t do for themselves.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” 1 John 3:17

3. Be the first to help.

Give with no strings attached!

Giving tests the sincerity of my love for God.

Since you excel in so many ways–you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us–now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving…This is one way to prove your love is real. 2 Cor. 8:7-8 NLT

4. Common Ground is the best “platform” to preach from.

(Paul) “I have been all things to all sorts of people that by every possible means I might win some to God.
I do all of this for the sake of the Good News.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (Ph)

“…Yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.” (Living Bible)

FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION THIS WEEK:

WHO WE ARE DETERMINES HOW WE SEE OTHERS

FOUR QUESTIONS WE MUST ASK OURSELVES IF WE WANT TO REACH PEOPLE:

1. Readiness: Am I prepared for relationships?

2. Connection: Am I willing to focus on others?

3. Trust: Can I build mutual trust with others?

4. Investment: Am I willing to invest in others?

I Am the Church Part 1

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Ephesians 2:17-22 NIV He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2: 42-47

What does a fully devoted follower of Christ look like?

“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26

Disciple: a student (pupil)
Christian: a follower of Christ or an imitation of Christ

Our goal is to move from being a student or pupil of Christ to a fully devoted follower of Christ. From Going to Church to Being the Church!

We seek to achieve our goal by focusing on six key priorities in our lives:

A priority is something that is given our attention before competing alternatives.
1. Worshipping God weekly

Definition of Worship: Expressing love to God

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” Mat. 4:10

“…the Father seeks worshippers…and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-24

Worship Checkup

(Mark 12:30) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your
soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

1. Expressing my affection to God. •What do I love most?
2. Focus my attention on God •What do I think about most?
3. Use my abilities for God. •What do I do most?

2. Connecting with the church regularly

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 NIV

God has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family…1 Pet 1:3 TLB

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples – that you have love for one another. John 13:35

“As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” Acts 17:2

3. Growing in maturity daily

“Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” Heb 6:1

“Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet 3:18

3 things needed for spiritual growth:
a. The Word of God (Bible study, devotion, etc.)
b. The Holy Spirit (intimate relationship in prayer)
c. Time (Spiritual growth is a process)

4. Serving other people unselfishly

“Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities…and there are different kinds of service to God (ministry)…All of you together form the one Body of Christ and each of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” 1 Cor 12:4-5, 27 (LB)

At GraceTown Church…
…every member is a minister
…every ministry is important
…every member is a “10” in some area

Definition of ministry: Using your gifts and talents without thought of reward

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. 1 Pet 4:10 TLB

5. Sharing our faith effectively

Definition of Evangelism: Sharing the Good News

“His intent was that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…” Eph 3:10

“Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But who can ask them to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells him?” Rom 10:13-14 (LB)

Evangelism Can Be as Natural as Conversation

The Living Bible translates 1 Corinthians 9:22, “… whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.”

• Be natural. Normal conversation is fluid and respectful, allows for humor and invites response.
• Be open and willing to admit your struggles and failures.
• Be respectful, look at people for what they are as well as what they can become.
• Be simple. Communication increases as simplicity does. Don’t let Christian jargon get in the way.
• Don’t forget what it was like to be a non-Christian.
• Look forward to hindsight. Unbelievers will understand some things only after looking back on them.

6. Giving our resources consistently

Giving tests the sincerity of my love for God.

Since you excel in so many ways–you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us–now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving…This is one way to prove your love is real. 2 Cor. 8:7-8 NLT

Acts 20:35 – There is more happiness in giving than receiving

Committed believers tithe of their income to God

“A tithe of everything you produce belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Lev 26:30

Redefining The Church to a Post Modern Culture

Carlos Ghosn became Nissan Motor Company’s president and CEO, just 3 years prior Nissan was headed for bankruptcy. Carlos was to be the engineer for the company’s dramatic turnaround. He said in June’s issue of FAST COMPANY, that “our objective is to position Nissan in the top rank of the car industry. He mapped out a plan and called it, “The Nissan Revival Plan”. In the interview in Fast Company he listed a blueprint for the company’s comeback. The one statement that jumped out at me was #3 “To Change a company, you must change minds”. He said the biggest task was not to restructure Nissan; it was to restructure the minds of the people inside Nissan.”

Today we just don’t need to restructure the church, but to restructure the mind of the church. The philosophy, the belief system, the traditions that hold us back from being the CHURCH. Imagination is a wonderful asset. It allows us to see realities as they “could be” and “should be”. It relentlessly challenges us to go beyond our experience of what is, to those higher realms of the improbable. Robert Kennedy’s words stir me: “Some men see things as they are and say “why”….. I dream of things that are not, and say “why not?”…..

So let me ask you to use your imagination for a few moments as you ponder the following questions that Robert Lewis asked in his book, “The Church of Irresistable Influence”(Zondervan):

1. Can you imagine the community in which you live being genuinely thankful for your church?
2. Can you imagine city leaders valuing your church’s friendship and participation in the community – even asking for it?
3. Can you imagine the neighborhoods around your church talking behind your back about “how good it is” to have your church in the area because of the tangible witness you’ve offered them God’s love?
4. Can you imagine a large number of your church members actively engaged in, and passionate about, community service, using their gifts and abilities in ways and at levels they never thought possible?
5. Can you imagine the community actually changing (Proverbs 11:11 -”By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted…”) because of the impact of your church’s involvement?
6. Can you imagine many in your city, formally cynical and hostile toward Christianity, actually praising God for your Church and the positive contributions your members have made in Jesus’ name?
7. Can you imagine the spiritual harvest that would naturally follow if all this were true?

What must we do to become that Church? We must first redefine our concept of the “Church”. When we define the Church we realize it has many popular meanings. In the dictionary it is defined as “a place for public Christian Worship”. So most people think of a building when they hear the word “church.” Other people confuse the word “church” with Christian meetings. They ask, “Are you going to church tomorrow?” When they really mean, “Are you going to the meeting or service?”

The Church is not a Building and the Family is not a House. Just think of what our language conveys: “Did you see our new church?” or “we love our new home, it is only 10 minutes from the church!” What does this convey? It says that the church is an edifice you go to one or more times a week, rather than who you and your fellow believers are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It says that you “attend” the church rather than “are” the church. It equates “building the church” with erecting a physical structure rather than with edifying the Body of Christ. William Beckham expressed so concisely, “How we do church is directly related to how we think church.” We have the “Church is a building” mentality, therefore that is why the “church” is not actually influencing society like it should. We need to “BE THE CHURCH”.

If the Church is going to make a positive impact on today’s culture. The Church is going to have to CHANGE. We have created a “religious” culture that this generation cannot relate to. If it was 1950 the majority of churches would be “relevant”. But it is not 1950, it is the 21st Century. Times have changed. Things have changed. The Method of how we did church must change to reach today’s culture. Don’t get me wrong, our message must never change. The message of the Gospel was relevant 2000 years ago and it is still relevant today. Bill Hybels, Pastor of Willowcreek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. said, “The Church should be culturally relevant, while remaining doctrinally pure – Jesus was the most effective, relevant communicators of all time. He was fresh and current. But we cannot become a Christian Oprah Winfrey Show, mirroring the culture but not bringing the Truth of God’s Word to make an impact and bring change.”

The past methods of church traditions must change. Most churches today have conducted their “services” to please “church members”. Pastors are having nervous breakdowns and leaving the ministry everyday. Obviously, the present day church has done something wrong. We’ve gone from “being the Church” to “Going to church”, the preachers “perform” and the saints are the “spectators”. If the church is going to survive in the 21st Century their must be a redefining of the church.

The Church becomes the Church, when at least two believers gathering in Jesus’ name; and the Lord’s presence is among them. Walls do not make a community; ceilings and floors do not make a family; stained glass windows and padded pews do not make a congregation. God’s people make a community, a family, a congregation, a church. Then when that church becomes the local expression of the person of Jesus Christ and when the people live as authentic followers of Jesus and become a spiritual community, the we can change our culture. (Acts 4:32-34, 2:42-47)