Wednesday, September 13, 2017

BLOG BREAK

Hello Friends.

As many of you know, Valley Christian Church is in the thick of moving to a new location.  We're also kicking off our Fall Ministry Programs. With all of the packing, preparation, and extra demands, I've decided I need to take a break from this blog until October.

Your prayers and support over the next few weeks are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

SUN Supplication - The Things that Last Forever

O Lord, help us to not to be stressed out over earthly troubles, but, instead trust that you will see us through. Even now, as we live among things that are passing away, help us to hold on to the things that last forever.

We confess our sins and we thank you for your faithfulness to forgive us and purify us. And as your grateful children, teach us and help us to be faithful to forgive others. May the grace of Jesus help us restore relationships, heal wounds, calm fears, forgive offenses, and resolve conflicts.

O God, help us find our life and meaning and purpose in Jesus. We desire to surrender to him more and more. Give us the wisdom and the will to submit ourselves to you as we follow Him.

It’s in his name that we pray these things. Amen.

Friday, September 08, 2017

FRI Favorites - John Prine

https://youtu.be/2xhmPectY9U
I'm looking forward seeing this guy in person tonight. Prine is a salty old songwriter and it should be a lot of fun. I'm glad I get to share the experience with my oldest grandson,

Thursday, September 07, 2017

THURS Thinking - Prayers for a Relocating Church

PROVERBS 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
And he will make your path straight.

TRUST...
O God, you have been our hope in ages past and you are our hope for years to come.
You are our Good Shepherd. Lead us into the days ahead. We fear no evil because you are with us. You have opened a door of opportunity; help us to enter into it with wholehearted trust.

You know the challenges that lie ahead; give us the confidence that accompanies faith in your provision. You know our needs before we ask; remind us to pray as children who believe you are a caring Father. Bind us together as a church family. Empower us as we spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

LEAN...
O God, your ways are higher than ours. No human wisdom or knowledge can compare with yours. Before a word is in our mouth, you know it. Your knowledge is before us and behind us. Reverence for you is the beginning of wisdom. Seeking you is the first step in seeking truth.

Help us to humble ourselves and listen for your voice – through Scripture, through prayer, and through the counsel of Spirit-led community.  Help us to believe you more than we believe ourselves. Help us to remember that sound thinking is always rooted in humility before you and submission to you. Give us the clarity of mind that is quickened by faith in you. Give us the wisdom that comes through Christ Jesus, a wisdom born of grace and submission.

We pray through Christ. Amen.

ACKNOWLEDGE...
O God, we make our plans but it is you who directs our steps. We set a course, but we do not know what tomorrow brings. We strive to be prudent, but even a prudent plan is subject to unexpected and unplanned circumstances and influences. In all our ways, O God, make us quick to acknowledge you.

Whether in life or death; whether in plenty or in want; whether in loss our gain; whether through success or failure, be our ballast and our foundation. Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the one who goes before us, the author and perfecter of our faith.

It is in his name that we pray. Amen.

PROMISE...O God, make our path straight as we trust you, lean on you, and acknowledge you. You have promised to lead us into a better way. You have promised that you will not fail us. You have promised that your wisdom will help us to persevere through every challenge and opportunity. You have promised to keep us and save us and grant us success as we seek and acknowledge you.

Help us to cling to your promises and to work and live as people who believe you are the great promise keeper. Help us to trust you to keep your promises as we transition to a new building; as we begin a new chapter in the life of our church; as we give ourselves to the work of the Kingdom; and as we commit ourselves to ministry and encouragement toward each other and toward our community.

We pray through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit – One God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

WED Words – Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me

Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,

what joy
to come falling out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again

in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,

smelling of iron
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches

and the grass below.
Then it was over.
The sky cleared.
I was standing

under a tree.
The tree was a tree
with happy leaves,
and I was myself

and there were stars in the sky,
that were also themselves
at the moment,
at which moment

my right hand
was holding my left hand
which was holding the tree
which was filled with stars

and the soft rain –
imagine! imagine!
the long wondrous journey
still to be ours.

"Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me" by Mary Oliver from What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems, © Copyright 2002 by Mary Oliver.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

TUES Tome - Surprise the World

Surprise the World by Michael Frost is a companion book for my next teaching series – "Your Surprising Life." The series begins next Sunday, September 10.  The goal of this book and my teaching series is to give our measurable and practical strategies for blessing and reaching out to friends and neighbors.

https://smile.amazon.com/Surprise-World-Habits-Highly-Missional/dp/1631465163/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485789490&sr=1-1&keywords=surprise+the+world
Surprise the World
by Michael Frost

Christianity is a surprising religion. It has changed the world in remarkable ways throughout history simply through Christians living out their faith. More recently, we’ve become afraid of a habituated Christianity, thinking that routines will rob our faith of its vitality. The net effect is that we’ve replaced the habits that surprise the world with habits that mimic the world―and both we and the world suffer for it.

Integrating the five habits in the BELLS model―Bless others, Eat together, Listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ, and understand yourself as Sent by God into others’ lives―will help you spread the gospel organically, graciously, and surprisingly.

Michael Frost, a world-renowned expert on evangelism and discipleship, makes evangelism a lifestyle that is fulfilling, exciting, effective, and easy to live out!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

SUN Supplication - Trusting with All Our Hearts

O God, we need your help to be the people you want us to be. We ask your Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives to transform us and guide us in all ways. Help us to trust you with all our hearts.

Forgive us our sins. Help us to leave the darkness and love the light. Make us willing and able to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Help us to think, speak, and act in ways that restore lives, nurture relationships, create peace, and bring honor to you.

O Lord, help us to be a good stewards of all you have given us. Grant us the wisdom and the will to guard our hearts, feed our spirits, stimulate our minds, and care for our bodies. And help us, by faith, to do the good things you've prepared in advance for us to do.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday Favorites - Bethlehem Lutheran Church

http://bethlehemlakeville.org/
This week's Friday Favorite goes to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lakeville, MN. Valley Christian Church is in the process of purchasing their property and we'll be moving there at the end of September. Thanks to Pastor Ben Blumer, the entire ministry staff, and the good people of BLC for being so great to work with over the past six months. I hope this experience is just the beginning of more shared ministry and cooperation in the months and years ahead.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday Thinking - Church Relocation Tips

Valley Christian Church is in the process of moving to a new location. Things are going well, but it's a massive and challenging project.

I came across an article with some helpful tips for churches going through this process. Here are highlights from that article.

A few words of encouragement for leaders who are  attempting to lead their ministry through either a relocation or a seismic change of any kind:

1. Accept Uncertainty
Timeline and budget projections are important, but they are, at best, educated guesses. The best advice is to embrace uncertainty with the innocence of a child. Learn to say, “I don’t know” without the biting hint of suggestion that you have been left in the dark.

2. Stretch Your Faith
Relocations will test your faith, so why not leverage that test into an opportunity for spiritual growth? Some days you may find your hand hovering over a panic button because of a frustrating setback in your staff, timetable, or budget.

Immediately turn this opportunity for panic into an opportunity for prayer. Instead of hitting the panic button, hit your knees, and ask God for His favor on your life and ministry.

3. Don’t Commit Mutiny
Every church and organization has early, late, and never adopters. Whether saving millions on utilities or saving more souls, some people can only see the bottom line through a negative lens.

Before you commit mutiny, remember that you are called to be a servant…yeah, a slave. Put down your sword, pick up a basin of water and towel, and get back to work.

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

4. Embrace a Culture Of Change
Some organizations have a flexible dynamic. They are forward thinkers who are more than willing to do whatever it takes. Although there are endless variations of relocation and change, one common thread to success is embracing a culture of change (a.k.a. culture of faith).

5. Be Grateful
Whether you are leading people through a corporate or church change, take time to consider how boring it would be to serve the Lord in an organization that has no vision. Take time during this season of change to thank God for the opportunity to be on this bus, regardless of how fast it goes or what seat you are in.
Excerpted from "5 Relocation Survivor Tips" by Mark Dance on the the LifeWay Pastors blog.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday Words - Deep Calls to Deep


Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”

My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.