Tuesday, December 13, 2011

ONE VOICE: Center



The Song:
The song “Center” by Charlie Hall and Matt Redman may seem an odd choice for a new song to learn during the Christmas season.  And, yet, I think there is something quite fitting about proclaiming Christ as the center of everything and asking Him to be the center of our lives in the midst of a season that celebrates His birth.  In the first chapter of his gospel account, the apostle John wrote that Jesus “existed in the beginning with God” and that “God created everything through Him” (John 1:2-3 NLT).

When we sing “Center” we sing to Christ that “Everything was made in You” but we also take it another step forward to proclaim “Everyone was made for you.”  It’s true isn’t it?  The Father has made Him King of all heaven and earth, so that necessarily includes you and me.  In a season where we strive to remember that Christ was born for us, we would do well to also remember that we were born for Him!  As the song says, “Wrap [your] life around [His] life” this Christmas…let Him be your Center.

Find It:
CLICK HERE to download this song from iTunes.


Lifting my voice with yours, Pastor Neil
Visit LifeQuest’s facebook page @ facebook.com/yourlifequest
Visit LifeQuest’s website @ yourlifequest.org

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Find a Church that Fits...

People of faith need other people of faith. God designed us that way. The church can be the jumping-off point to a deeper relationship with God and with others who share our beliefs and seek God's purpose.

When we connect to a church, we receive opportunities to grow, and we give of ourselves. The local church we choose may need an administrator like us, an evangelist like us, a musician like us, or even a seamstress or carpenter like us...The church finds its purpose by meeting needs on earth and connecting others to Christ, while we find our purpose and share our God-given gifts.

Come to LifeQuest this Sunday! If you're a regular, look for new ways to get involved. If you haven't been in a while, ask God to guide you to just the right place...

Until next time,
I'm still putty in His hands,

David Hodson

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Hear Voices...

The title of this blog topic is not aimed at mental illness...

I heard the song "I Hear Voices all the Time" by Chris Young this morning and it made me think: Situations arise sometimes that make me contemplate, 'What would Dad do?' or 'What would Grandpa do?' or 'What would Mom say?' or the more currently trendy 'What Would Jesus Do?'

The song goes on to talk about him "hearing voices" such as things different family members told him as he was growing up.

Some of us call this a conscience. Undisputably, a guide, good or bad.

The older I get, the more I realize my parents are a lot smarter than I once thought they were. People who love me-friends, parents, siblings, cousins-are on my side and usually want what is best for me.

God placed friends and family around us to help us discover his purpose for us. He gave us loved ones who know us and can give us a different perspective in difficult situations. Loved ones with different experiences and different opinions broaden our world and help us discover ourselves.

Allow them to speak wisdom into your life so that you can learn something new.

This week, thank loved ones for their valuable input into your life.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Veteran's Day...a Visit to the Past



As Veteran's Day approaches, I always remember my late Grandpa...He was a US Army Infantry Soldier during WWII. He served in 3 of the major battles in the European Theatre in 1944...I remember very few stories about that, he left me to read the history books in search of these places...France, the Rhine, Germany, and the Hultgren Forest...instead, he taught me what was important: how to hunt, fish, live off the land, and survive on your own, the importance of a man's reputation, and a strong hand shake usually was enough to seal the deal. He taught me how to respect nature and to always "pack out" what you carried in. He is one of many reasons of why I am the way I am today. Veteran's Day is the special day I remember him.

Remember, it took all of your past-the good and the bad-to mature you into the person you are today. Trials kept you leaning on God. Good times allowed you to rejoice in the beauty of His creation and the life He has given you. Honoring the past, but not dwelling on it, enables you to appreceiate the marvelous memories and avoid making the same mistakes again.

Walk down memory lane and recall the beginning of your relationship with God. What challenges have you overcome? What joys did you experience? Thank Him for all that He has done and all that He will do with you. Remember, God has wonderful plans for you.

The Beauty of Baptism

There are multiple reasons for being baptized as someone who has been saved by faith in Christ.  Perhaps the most important is simply that Christ and His apostles have set an example of baptism which we desire to obediently follow (e.g. Matthew 3:13f, Acts 2:37-39, etc).   We are also baptized publicly to communicate our membership in God's family to the Church.

But I think the most beautiful reason for baptism lies in the symbolism that the apostle Paul outlines so clearly in Romans 6: "...when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death...For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives" (v3-4).

Think about that! In one instant we are plunged beneath the water--buried with Christ--and in the next we come surging out of the water--raised to a new life in Him.  Through baptism we say farewell to an old way of life and to sin.  And through baptism we greet a new life made possible by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross and by His Spirit's work within us.  And that is the beauty of baptism!

Have you accepted Christ as your Savior?  If so, have you been baptized?  We are actually going to be baptizing some folks on November 20th, 2011 and if you'd like to baptized, let us know.  Just contact any of our staff.  If November 20th doesn't work for you, still contact us and we'll work it out!


The beauty of baptism seen at Camp Sharon.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Am I Even Qualified?

Hi All! First of all, let me start by saying have a great weekend!


Where I work, certain tasks and skills have to be demonstrated on a regular basis to ensure that I am "qualified" to do the job. As Christians, we are called to share the gospel to ALL nations and make disciples with ALL nations.

Are we even qualified?

The other day, as the Reaching Team was brain-storming with a few members of the staff, a very sobering thought came to me, "How are we to share the Gospel with a world at play, with no apparent regard for spiritual matters? Do people really believe there is no eternal consequence for how we live our lives?"

Hebrews 9:27 says: "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment." Romans 3:23 says: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.")

At the end of our meeting, we closed by posing the question: “If you had one week before judgment day, where would you go to reach the most people, and what would you say (or do) to convince them that Christ is the only way to salvation?"

On my way home, as I pondered the aforementioned question, another question entered my mind, “How can we ever be qualified or competent enough to tell other people about God's truth?”

C.H. Spurgeon, one of the great pastors of the times, was once asked how to defend the Bible. He answered, "You don't defend the Bible any more than you would a roaring lion. Just open the cage and let it out."

So how do we "let the lion out"? By quoting the Word of God -- it needs no defense. It's not necessary to be a Bible expert or know the answer to every possible question. Just live by Paul's example and speak its truth. And at the same time -- let Jesus take Lordship and control over your life. It's how God gets done what He intends (Philippians 2:13: "For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.")

One of the ways to get “in” to the Scripture, is to find a partner and challenge yourself to study certain specific portions. For example, try 21 chapters in 21 days (John’s Gospel) or 31 chapters in 31 days (Proverbs), etc. The important thing is to find a partner, make the commitment, stick to it, and make them stick to it. Oh, and ask God to use you the way he used the Apostle Paul to reach His lost sheep.

Till Next Time

In Christ’s Love

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Enjoy What You Have



How many times have you been struck by "if-only-itis?"

If only I had a convertible, then I'd be happy. If only I could get that job, I know I would feel fulfilled. If only he would love me, I would never need anything again.

Concentrating on what you want but don't have robs you of the joy you could be experiencing right now.

Part of God's purpose for your life is your learning to be content with what He has given you. It is okay to want to reach for something more, as long as that something more is more of Him.

Have a good Sunday, and have an even better week, and be thankful for what God has given you, and remember to give God all the glory!

Till next time

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Most-Forgotten Secret of Life

Ever have one of those days when 5pm finds you feeling worn out, stressed, and beat down?  Well it happens to me every once in a blue moon or so :)  And it happened Tuesday.  Tuesday also happened to be a day when I couldn't just go home and recover....our TG was scheduled to serve at Convoy of Hope that night.  To make matters even "better" our group was struck by the most ridiculous & inconceivable confluence of legitimate circumstances....people were getting sick, straining backs, attending funerals, leaving town at the last minute, etc.   So Julie and I were suddenly the only members of our group to be able to make it.  Fortunately, we did have some friends there with us: namely, Mike Sutton & Jerry Raby (in case you didn't know, they're our serving ministry leaders and they actually live what they lead!).

So there I am, after a very long day, about to work for no pay for a couple of hours.  Then they told us what our project for the night was: Pack 5,000 grocery bags full of food that would then be transported and given to the poor and needy at an event in Sacramento, CA.  And for the next hour and forty-five or so, Julie & I completed our task of stuffing about 7,500 packets of ramen noodles in about 2,500 grocery sacks.

And you know what's interesting? I can't remember the last time I smiled so much...or at least for that long!  Isn't that weird?  Isn't that so contrary to what we would expect in such circumstances? Our "human logic" would tell us that: after a long hard day, you'd be much better off reclining in your Lazy-Boy and flipping on the TV than standing on your feet for a couple hours of serving

On my way home that night, I remembered the most-forgotten secret of life.  In fact, even when we remember the secret, we scarcely believe it to be true.  It's a secret that's tucked away in the book of Acts.  And the writer of Acts got it from the apostle Paul.  And the apostle Paul said he got it from Jesus, himself: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35 NLT).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

YLQ.org Spotlight: Prayer Requests

From time-to-time I'd like to take a minute to kinda spotlight or highlight a particular feature of our church website at yourlifequest.org.  This week I'd like to tell you about a really cool feature that's been added here in just the last couple of months: it's our prayer request form.
Screen Shot of YourLifeQuest.org

As you may or may not know, our church has a ministry called the Prayer Connection.  It's made up of a big team of people who believe in the power of prayer and are willing to take time out in their life to actually talk to God about needs people face & want prayer for.  In the past, you had to fill out a form at our Welcome Center OR email/call one of our Prayer Connection coordinators to get the word out to the rest of the ministry.  But now our website provides an easy, accessible way for people to share their prayer requests...even if they don't have access to the contact info of one of those coordinators!

Check out this video to see just how easy it is:

One more thing: Perhaps you're someone who already has a preferred method of submitting your prayer request (i.e. for me, I often find it easiest to send mine via email).  Why should you begin to use the prayer request form on our website?  One reason I'll offer is this: Submitting your prayer request online helps our prayer ministry stay organized.  Our site actually automatically compiles a spreadsheet that tracks prayer requests and our Prayer Ministry Team can then use that info in a lot of great ways to improve the prayer ministry of our church.

So next time you have a prayer request, give our website's Prayer Request form a try!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Enemy is Scared of Real Men (and Women)

Well, it's been a few weeks since I've bored you with my commentaries, so here we go, just in time for the weekend!
Did you know that we were called to be bold, and not meek? What I mean is, did you know that we are supposed to be fearless, bold soldiers of the Lord? We are not to back or otherwise cower down or compromise our faith under ANY circumstances? It's true, America. We are not to merely turn the other cheek when we witness any wrongdoing or transgression against God's law.
The enemy does not want you to know this, because the great deceiver (lower case) is afraid of bold men (and women) for GOD (UPPERCASE). God does not compromise, nor should we. We should use ANY and EVERY opportunity afforded to us to correct wrong and reveal God's love and plan for our lives (no matter the cost). Will it be easy? Absolutely not. Will we be persecuted? Absolutely. In fact, God promised us almost certain persecution by following him and doing what is right, not what is culturally accepted. Remember when Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah? It is not always easy to press forward without looking back at our sins and transgressions, but that is EXACTLY what we are to do. Things like PRIDE and TRADITION can definitely trip us up.
Don't get mired down with comfortable sin. Look ahead to God with BOLD COURAGE that only the HOLY SPIRIT can supply! God Speed in all you attack, and perservere until the end! Remember, the enemy will flee if you resist!
Till Next Time,
Your Partner in War against Immorality
Dave Hodson, LifeQuest Church

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ACLU Says Prayer is OK...Muslim Prayer, that is...

Hi All! Sorry it has been so long since I've posted...September came and went! I don't want you to think that all I do is rant and rave, but here we go...
Carver Elementary school in San Diego is possibly going to allow Muslim students to pray in school. Would someone please explain to me why the ACLU, who has fought all-things Christian for decades, is not only okay with this but is calling everyone who doesn’t agree ‘intolerant’?According to a spokesperson for the ACLU, “Performing these prayers is widely—if not universally—recognized as one of the five essential ‘pillars’ of Islam. One of these prayer times will always fall during the school day at Carver when students are required by law to be at school.” Um, the Quran tells Muslims to do a LOT of things we don’t want them doing here in America. It isn’t a religion to them, it is a law. Oh and also, prayer for Christians is also a widely—if not universally—recognized essential of Christianity. If you want to talk about "ironic," this is the same ACLU that has been fighting freedom of religion in public schools for decades by banning prayer in schools completely. This is the same ACLU that has (wrongly) asserted that it is unconstitutional to allow any type of prayer and/or religion in schools. Yet they’re perfectly okay with children following whatever the violent Quran tells them to do? Hey, wait a minute...who gave the ACLU, or anyone else for that matter, the power to determine ‘right and wrong’ in public schools? So ACLU people out there, if you determine it is okay for Muslims to pray in schools are you going to change your stance on Christian prayer as well? But no, of course the ACLU isn’t looking at the irony in claiming everyone in the US is prejudice if they don’t think it’s fair for one “religious” group to be allowed to pray in public schools while other (real) religious groups may not. And of course, the Council on American-Islamic Relations supports the Carver program...go figure... so are they a prejudiced hate-group, or is that just a label for all non-muslims? I know what you're thinking..."This is in California, and it doesn't appy to me." Well, just wait. However unfortunate, if it can happen in these United States, then it will happen in these United States. Enough for now, but, in closing, let me remind you that Christ died for all people and he came especially for the lost...we should be praying for the ACLU as well as the muslims, as they seem pretty lost...so pray that the Holy Spirit shall fill you with wisdom on how to witness to the lost EVERY DAY! God bless you all!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ONE VOICE: Our God

The Song:
One thing I try to do as your worship pastor is to make sure we know most of the songs that are commonly sung in the Church today.  This is a hugely important part of making this “one voice” unity thing reach beyond the walls of our church's building.  When we sing a song like “How Great Is Our God” (currently the most commonly sung worship song according to CCLI who provides licensing services to churches like us) we can know that we are lifting our voices in a kind of unison with many other believers across the nation and globe.

Our God—written by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Jonas Myrin, and Matt Redman—has been the fastest rising worship song I’ve ever seen! Now it’s been about a year since it came out on radio, and it is the 3rd most commonly sung worship song in America according to CCLI.  I can see why…it is POWERFUL in both lyric and music! We love songs that let us powerfully proclaim what we believe about God: “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art…”; “Savior, He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save!”; “Here I am to worship…Here I am to say that You’re my God”; “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come…” And now: “Our God is greater…stronger…higher…And if our God for us, then who could ever stop us?”  As we proclaim it, I hope you have a greater sense of unity knowing that we’re joining our song with so many other believers!

Hear It:
Our God - And If Our God Is for Us... (Deluxe Edition)



Lifting my voice with yours, Pastor Neil
Visit LifeQuest’s facebook page @ facebook.com/yourlifequest
Visit LifeQuest’s website @ yourlifequest.org

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Love One Another

Did you know that Jesus and His apostles John, Peter, and Paul teamed up for about 10 “love one another” statements in the New Testament?  It’s obviously a point they wanted to drive home to the Church.  It’s a big reason that LifeQuest Church wanted to create a vibrant small group ministry. Our Transformation Groups are to be a place where “love one another” happens in very real and tangible ways.  I believe each of us has a need to be loved by a family of believers and--more importantly--to love somebody else.  Our Transformation Groups are where Church happens and where we strive to live out “love one another”.  "Love one another" happens every time a group: encourages a down-trodden member, prays for a member’s needs, celebrates a birthday, welcomes a baby, mourns at a funeral, and on and on and on.  As we embark on a new season of small group ministry as a church, let me encourage you to LOVE ONE ANOTHER!


CLICK HERE to find out about our upcoming TG Celebration event and to learn about our groups.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Transformation Groups Not a New Concept

A few years ago, when we started "Transformation Groups" (some churches call them small groups) at LifeQuest Church, we felt that we were in some ways, "cutting edge." They were not just planned overnight and thrown together, a lot of planning and preparation was involved. Now, as we stand at the precipice of a third year of TG, I stop and reflect that Jesus actually invented Transformation Groups. Don't believe me? Take a look...1) He was a small group leader (about 12 in the inner circle). 2) He was making disciples, not converts. 3)There were two or three in his inner-inner circle (Peter, James and John). 4) They regularly broke bread together. 5) They served together. 6)They did life together. And the list goes on and on...Jesus told us to 'Go, and make disciples of ALL nations.' He never said, 'Attract converts to a building.' He wanted us to 'Connect people to Christ in a way that leads to life transformation.' Hmm. That's catchy. Maybe that should be in our mission statement...till next time, I'm still putty in His hands...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

ONE VOICE: Sing, Sing, Sing



The Song:
Sing, Sing, Sing is a song written by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves, Matt Gilder, Daniel Carson, and Travis Nunn.  There are a number of things to love about the song: there’s the energy and passion of the music and the tempo, the proclamation of who God is (like “You are the love that frees us...the light that leads us...You are the One...”), and the way the lyrics proclaim to God that, as His Church, “we will sing” His praise!

But my personal favorite part of this song is the second half of the chorus which proclaims that we can be, “Grateful that You hear us / When we shout Your praise”.  What an awesome reminder that when we gather and sing songs of worship together, we do so for the benefit and to bless God.  We do not gather merely for our own benefit or just to make pretty music together.  But we join our voices as one, knowing that the God–who made us and gave us this gift of music and desires our worship—is listening in, soaking it up, enjoying every minute of it!  Let’s never forget Who our audience is...Who we’re singing to...Who is listening in.

Find It:
CLICK HERE to download this song from iTunes.


Lifting my voice with yours, Pastor Neil
Visit LifeQuest’s facebook page @ facebook.com/yourlifequest
Visit LifeQuest’s website @ yourlifequest.org

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Express Yourself!

I've had some conversations recently with some friends about the differences between churches like ours and churches that are more charasmatic/pentecostal in their worship approach.  The discourse usually boils down to something like this: "Man, I really love the worship at this one church (pentecostal-ish). There's an energy and a passion and a reliance on the Holy Spirit that inspires my worship and is awesome to behold......but then they seem to go overboard and things just get weird!!!" OR "Wow, I really love this church over here.  The people are so friendly and down-to-earth.....but their worship service seems to be lacking some energy."

Why is it that most churches these days seem to fall into one of these two extremes?  Where's the "normal" kind of God-worship that we read about in scripture?  It involved shouting, singing, clapping, playing-of-instruments, raising of hands, powerful prayer, and downright excitement. But it was also organized, excellent, and was considerate of unbelievers that might come to see what it's all about.  From what I hear, our Church of God movement used to be that way long ago.  Our worship was characterized as "quite lively!"  You wouldn't have been surprised to see a ton of hands lifted high or to hear people shout out in worship.  Prayer was potent and when a leader voiced a prayer, people felt free to voice their support. They believed strongly in the role of the Holy Spirit in our corporate worship and in His power to heal and to move and to spark revival.

But these days, the worship found in our Church of God, Anderson IN congregations and similar churches usually paints quite a different picture.  What happened?  Some have suggested that the change occurred in reaction to the Charasmatic Movement that took place in America during the 60's and 70's where many churches wanted to distance themselves from what they saw as biblically-misguided worship.  Whatever the cause, I think it's a shame.  I'm not necessarily calling for a return to the "good ol' days"...but I do think a return to a more biblical picture of worship might be called for.  It just makes sense--common sense--that if we love God, we ought to openly express it...especially when we find ourselves gathered together with like-minded believers for the whole purpose of WORSHIPING our God!

Next time you gather for worship, think about what you must look like as you're worshiping...are you actually expressing your worship in a visible way?  Someone's going to be thinking: "But it doesn't matter what I look like on the outside because God sees the heart."  He certainly does but He's also having to look at your boring, expressionless exterior!  Plus, He didn't ask you to just love Him with your heart but with your soul, mind, and strength too (Mark 12:30)!

EXPRESS YOURSELF,
Pastor Neil

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm going to impact the world...but how?

As I am preparing for small group tonight, I sit here and think..."I'm only one man, what impact can I possibly have on the world?" A friend reminded me of that this week when we were talking and he told me a story about a little girl who grew to be a missionary (as well as her husband) and literally impacted hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. And it all started with one man. One man extended grace to the little girl just as God's grace has been extended to us.

So, how am I going to impact the world? I am going to do what Jesus told us to do...'go out and make disciples of all nations.' This is not a request, this is a command, also known as the 'Great Commission.' Commission means to 'commit' to something, which is not just merely following orders. We Christians sometimes have the mindset to 'come and convert' not 'go and make disciples.' We hide out in our 'stained glass fortress' and hide from the enemy, instead of meeting the enemy head-on. The Apostle Paul suggested that we head directly into the storm 'with the sails up.'

Do we Christians do this today? Do we approach the lost with a sense of urgency? With all of the talk about 'end times,' do we really believe it to be true? I mean, if we really believed that Christ could return at any moment, would we be so concerned about 401K plans and other long-term plans, or would we invest EVERY SINGLE MINUTE trying to save EVERYONE WE CAN?

Lecture over. Let's go impact the world. One disciple at a time...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What is happening to America, America?

Hey America! What is going on? The headline on July 15, 2011, reads:

"Government approves 'sexual brainwashing' bill."

Does this headline upset, confuse, or otherwise instill anger in anyone but me?

It goes on to read:

"California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law legislation that REQUIRES the state's public schools to teach on the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

Yesterday Gov. Brown signed S.B. 48, making California the first state in the country to pass such legislation. The law, authored by homosexual Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, REQUIRES that textbooks be re-written to include information about LGBT Americans and present them in a positive light."

Commentators warn that the measure, which requires NO PARENTAL NOTIFICATION, and DOES NOT ALLOW PARENTS TO OPT THEIR CHILDREN OUT, will affect students as young as SIX YEARS OLD.

I know what you're thinking, "That's terrible, but it doesn't affect me, because I don't live in California." That's the same thing that first came to my mind as well. But, guess what? California is one of the states that purchases the most textbooks. Do you really believe that they will print a "California Version" and an "Everybody Else Version?"

Do you believe that "normalizing" homosexuality will come without consequences? Please don't confuse me for a "gay-basher." I am a "sin-basher." I can honestly tell you that I would be equally appalled at someone promoting drugs and alcohol at our schools to our children. Telling someone that drugs and alcohol is ok, when it's not ok is WRONG. Therefore, telling someone that homosexuality or ANY OTHER SIN is ok when it is not ok is ALSO WRONG. It's time to get off the sidelines and into the game, Christian America!

Even if you think that this type of legislation is not spiritually un-healthy, consider the even more shocking remark at the end of the article:

"The bill further prohibits teachers and textbooks from telling children that homosexuality has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS and other STDs, higher cancer rates, and earlier deaths."

So, even if you believe (and I know you don't) that your child would be spiritually un-affected by this type of indoctrination, can you honestly say that the physical health of the next generation will not be affected?

Maybe I'm ranting paranoia here. Maybe I'm the only one that believes this type of God-less-ness is bad for America. Please pray that America will get on her knees and humbly ask for God's beautiful mercy before it's too late. God please have mercy on us. Amen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Seasons

It is Friday night, 11:53pm to be exact.  It is the last night at Sr. High Camp 2011.  It has been a great week.  God has done some tremendous things.  Jerry Webb (JerryWebb2.com) who is the Pastor of Student Ministries at St. James First Church of God directed this week and he has done a fantastic job.  Being here this week has reminded me that youth ministry is awesome.  I mean even if God one day calls me to speak in an "Adult Service" on a weekly basis, I believe youth ministry will still be at the core of that.  

So, why the title of seasons?  Well, it is camping season here at Camp Sharon for one and two, this year will mark the end of (for now) my responsibilities as a Camp Directer.  This will be my 6th year to direct the middle school camp.  Over those years, through this camp we have seen around 60 students come to Christ and around 300 re-dedications.  I have directed for one reason and one reason only...To bring Glory to the One and Only Lord and Savior, Jesus.  I have felt for a while that God has released me of this calling...at least for a season...The state is thriving right now with great young youth pastors who will be able to carry the torch.  After speaking on having Margin in our calendars at LifeQuest on June 26th (check it out at YourLifeQuest.org), I decided it was a great time to begin creating Margin in mine.  This is something that has been missing for several years now.  I believe that I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off...even though it looks cool by all the spectators...it is very unfortunate for the chicken...you see he doesn't even know he has lost his head...Even though the ministry of Camp and Youth Convention has looked cool to spectators and participants it has been very hard on me and the family in finding an adequate balance between ministry and family.  So in just 4 months I will just be an associate pastor again...no pluses...just LifeQuest...and I am really excited about it.  I am excited about carving out time to spend with family.  I am excited about not being so stressed around Abi, Clay, and Amanda.  I am excited about the new season.  I know in ministry this particular season is a rarity...Most new seasons in ministry involve more time commitment to ministry and less to family.  I am creating Margin.  I pray that you will take the time in your life to evaluate the headless chicken syndrome and choose to know where your head/mind/heart is.

3 days til Jr. High 2011 begins...I am excited once again about watching God work among middle school students.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

God Bless Us? No, God have MERCY on US!

Have you ever seen a bumper sticker with the words, 'God Bless America' on it and thought, "Yeah, God. Please bless us?" If you live in these United States, I will tell you...God HAS blessed us. We often are chasing the lie called 'The American Dream.' We are told that we must work very hard and we will get 'more.' Yet, we spend and spend and work and work, and yet, we never seem to arrive at the 'Dream.'

America, it is time for us to stop the self-indulgence that has been tagged 'The American Dream' and start living for God, not ourselves. Now, many will say, "Dave, you are just bitter, because you don't have 'The American Dream.' People, I am LIVING the American Dream! God wants us to enjoy the things that He has given each and every one of us that reside in these United States. He gave us these things for our enjoyment (and to share with others, too) because, without Him, we would not be able to work a trade, run a business, or otherwise 'provide for ourselves.' In fact, He is the GREAT PROVIDER.

The fact is that we have perverted almost everything that God gave us for self and instant gratification. How much do we give back to God? I mean, really, what do any of us NEED that we don't already own/rent/borrow?

It's time that we stop saying "God Bless America" and start saying "God have mercy on America." Have you ever wondered why God blesses the USA and tends not to bless the rest of the world? Is it coincidence that the newest country on the planet seems to be the last (and sometimes only) place that God really blesses? Is it maybe because we haven't perverted ourselves quite to the threshold of God's patience yet? Are we on our way to becoming a modern-day Sodom?

I pray that we re-discover this great country's heritage of 'God and Country' before it's too late, and get on our knees and beg for God's beautiful mercy.

This is my prayer for me, my family, and my country. God please bless America, Amen.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Life is a Performance, but Who are We Performing For?

Today I was reminded that sometimes, when we serve, we serve alone. Even in a group of servants, we still seem to serve alone. I wondered, "How do we motivate others to serve God?" When we humbly tell people what we're doing, so as not to draw attention to ourselves, we pray that someone will pick up on the subtleness of our comment and come serve with us. Yet, very few came. Very few ever come. "What am I doing wrong, God?" I asked. "Are we not doing what you called us to do? I know that it is a Saturday morning, God. How come others don't have the same passion as our small (and getting smaller) group seem to have?" These are questions that I have been pondering for quite some time now. Where does the passion start? Why does the passion end? How do we stoke the fires of passion when we are out of fuel? Are we becoming the luke-warm Church? What happens when God spits us out? These are all questions that worry me constantly. I feel at times, that we have a "consumer" mentality and not a "producer" attitude. We come to the Church to GET served, not TO serve. Church should be like a school, where you gain knowledge of HIM, but then you are to GO OUT and SHARE that knowledge of the LOVE, POWER, and SALVATION, not just keep it locked in the STAINED GLASS FORTRESS. If you are reading this, please pray with me for the passion to come back to the Church. God, please help us become the passionate, loving people you wanted us to be. Please give us the courage to do what is right and the encouragement to press on, even when we don't feel like anyone cares. Please help us to not perform for others, but YOU, an audience of ONE. In Jesus' precious name we pray these things. Amen.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

As I wake up in the greatest country in the whole world, I realize that God must really love me. I mean, when you think about it, God must REALLY love America. Our fore fathers did what God said we were supposed to do and battled oppression for freedom to worship HIM. The framers of our constitution tried to protect future generations by outlining FREEDOM OF RELIGION. But today, as I watch television, or read the paper, or go to the movies all I see is FREEDOM FROM RELIGION. Do you think this is what God had in mind? What does he think about Christians not standing up for HIM in the most blessed country in the WORLD? Remember: rights that have been gained can be lost, so be thankful for what you have and fight to protect them! Remember to thank a soldier today (or any day) to thank him or her for defending our FREEDOMS (including free exercise of religion), but more importantly, thank GOD for giving us the FREEDOM to worship him in a FREE country. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA, AND MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS US!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What are we praying for?

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I know that I am certainly no expert in prayer...I sometimes struggle with what to pray for, how to pray for it, and sometimes, forget to do it at all (please forgive me, I'm on a journey to the Kingdom, but haven't arrived). Anyway, do we pray for safety from harm, when maybe the prayer should be the wisdom, courage and strength to overcome obstacles? Are we living in "safety mode" or in "prayer mode?"

You see, people that live in "safety mode" will probably live long, un-eventful lives in Christ, hidden in their "stained glass fortresses." They will glorify God at church and a few other places, but just have this belief that "witnessing by actions" is always good enough. Jesus wanted us to experience life in a God-honoring way, and, quite honestly, we can't really do that if the extent of our Christian experience is a few hours a week on Sundays and an occasional Wednesday. You see, when the first century Church met, it was to gain knowledge of the Scripture, and to encourage and support one another, nothing more. It was like going to school to learn. The Christian would then USE the knowledge and take the ENCOURAGEMENT to the streets...do we do that today? I don't do a very good job of that at times, but I know now that this is my purpose (as all Christians).

I think we all believe that only certain people are "called" to be evangelists. You see, in actuality, we have ALL been "called" to be evangelists (if you don't believe me, then give me your opinion of Matthew 28:19, also known as the "GREAT COMMISSION"). I want to be living in "prayer mode" from now on...intentional daily worship and glorification of the Father...I want to step out of the boat and walk out to Jesus on the water, just as Peter did. I want the Knowledge and the Courage and the Wisdom that Jesus said we have in the Holy Spirit. I want to go and make disciples...not just converts. Keep the faith, but also SHARE it. God Bless!

Are you with me?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Joplin



Folks,

I took my wife and son to Joplin awhile back. While it could officially be deemed a "gawking" visit, I wanted to see the damage for myself. Several of the folks I work with have gone to Joplin and I heard their comments about the devastation. Even a month after the tornado, the devastation in Joplin is staggering. Once the initial shock wore off, one thing kept going through my mind as we drove through seemingly endless blocks of destruction - What are we going to do as a church? I realize that we have taking up a special collection, but there is more.

LifeQuest Church, I don't know when it will occur, but get ready - We need to go to Joplin to do our part, however small it may seem to be in the big picture that is their recovery.

Thanks,
ms

Friday, June 24, 2011

Exploring Church Unity


The Church of God movement that our church is a part of has long championed the cause of unity in God’s Church.  But that was not anything we came up with.  When you look at NT scriptures, the apostles constantly urged the churches to unity in their letters.  Even Jesus prayed—just before His betrayal—“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one” (John 17:21 NLT).

If the NT church led by the apostles struggled with this unity, how much more has the church struggled through the ages as factions and splits and denominationalism has driven many Christians apart and, thus, driven many in the world away from the Church! I have been much encouraged of late, though.  I have a sense that unity is gradually becoming more of a reality in the Church of our day.  Technology has served to bridge gaps amongst the global church, denominations are choosing to focus on the essentials of faith rather than bickering and arguing the minutia, and worship...the newfound passion and value that has been injected into the Church’s worship over the past decade or two has been astounding.

Nothing draws unity from the church like worship does.  Consider our time of singing on Sunday AM: When else is our church in complete unison?  When else does the church act in complete harmony?  When else do we all focus our attention so single-mindedly?  Somehow, there’s something special about echoing the same words of faith as the guy sitting down the row or the gal across the aisle.  It’s called unity and we need it—and in greater abundance—because it honors God and draws the world to Him (see the rest of John 17:21).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

ONE VOICE: Like Incense



We at LifeQuest Church recently experienced a very special worship service that centered on a theme of “Incense”. As a core part of that service, we introduced a new song to you titled Like Incense by Brooke Ligertwood, David Strasser, and Rich Mullins. This song has been one of my favorite worship songs for awhile now and I’ve been looking forward to teaching it to our church. I love worship songs that have such rich lyrics...especially when those lyrics are drawn straight from God’s Word: May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering (Psalm 141:2, NASB).

There’s also a section of the song where we simply sing “Oh...” over a beautiful melody in 3-part harmony. I loved singing this with all of you on Sunday, it felt like we were offering some kind of audio-incense to God as the room was filled with a palpable sense of worship! I look forward to singing this more with you in our coming worship services.