Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Miracle of Birth: Advent 2012


Having recently been a witness to the miracle of birth (my first child was born November 1st), I feel like I have a brand new perspective on Christmas.  Birth is, in and of itself, an amazing miracle.  Every aspect from conception through delivery holds mystery and inspires amazement!  Just one example that blew my mind: I came across an article while my wife was pregnant about “microbes”: little microscopic organisms that live in all of us and scientists are now finding out that these little creatures—though there are some bad ones out there—actually seem to provide a whole host of helps to their human hosts (i.e. helping to stave off cancers and other diseases, etc).  And here’s the flabbergastingly amazing part: They’ve found that just before birth, a whole bunch of the mother’s helpful microbes make their way down to the birth canal to literally paint the baby on his/her way out so that they can have all that help from the very start.


Now, who tells all those microbes where to go and that the birth is coming so it’s time get a move on?  That, my friends, is a miracle!  And we have a God who does the miraculous.  Now consider the miracle that God was once painted with some helpful microbes, too.  Wow!


LINK to USA Today article.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ONE VOICE: Let Us Adore



The Song:
I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to introduce Let Us Adore by Reuben Morgan to our church’s worship repertoire! Julie & I have been listening to it on our personal worship playlists for years now and it has become one of my absolute favorites.  Especially around the Christmas season. 

Let Us Adore is not technically a Christmas song.  But there’s something about the feel of the chorus, especially, that leaves me with images of wise men and shepherds gathering around the little Lord Jesus.  And it leaves me wanting to find myself there beside the manger, too, singing, “Let us adore Him, let us adore Him; Jesus Christ is the Lord. Come and behold Him, bow down before Him; Jesus Christ is the Lord.”  Join us in adoring the King as we celebrate God’s coming near to us this Christmas season.

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


Lifting my voice with yours, Pastor Neil

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ONE VOICE: Ye Nations




The Song:
Statue of Watts in London
Isaac Watts was one of the most prolific hymn-writers in history. He is credited with writing around 750 hymns from his first publication in 1707 to his death in 1748.  Some of his hymns you may have heard: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, At the Cross, Joy to the World (words), and O God Our Help in Ages Past.  A somewhat lesser-known Watts hymn that you may have heard for the first time this past Sunday is Ye Nation ‘Round the Earth, Rejoice.  It has been given a fresh arrangement by a modern-day worship leader named Sarah DeShields who, like Watts, hails for the British Isles. So if you wonder why parts of the lyrics sound “antique” and other parts sound modern…now you know: One author wrote his part when America was just a group of British colonies while the other is writing in the 21st century!

One thing I love about the song is how it feels like we’re singing a Psalm straight from Scripture! Watts loved to pull from the Psalms and this particular hymn was published in a group of works under the name of The Psalms of David. Don’t miss out on the richness of what we’re singing.  In fact, since there is no YouTube option to give you on this song, I’m going to take this opportunity to place the Watts portion of the lyrics below along with some 21st century commentary done by yours truly.  Thank you for taking time to invest a little in our Sunday-together-worship by reading these emails. Come Sunday and “bring your best offering, pour it over the feet of the Lord!”

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


Lifting my voice with yours, Pastor Neil


Ye Nations

Ye nations round the earth, rejoice 
[all people…believers & nonbelievers, alike]
Before the Lord, your sovereign King, 
[we’re praying they would recognize Him as King]
Serve Him with cheerful heart and voice; 
[are you a cheerful servant of Christ?]
With all your tongues His glory sing. 
[praise Him in every way known, the world-around!]

The Lord is God; ’tis He alone 
[He’s the only one…]
Doth life and breath and being give; 
[…who can sustain us & give our lives meaning]
We are His work, and not our own; 
[though we tend to forget Someone else has a claim on us]
The sheep that on His pastures live. 
[what great timing with our Psalm 23 series!]

Enter His gates with songs of joy, 
[gates = the entry to the temple…show up Sunday with joy]
With praises to His courts repair; 
[talking about the temple again: show up with praise]
And make it your divine employ 
[make it your job…a sacred job]
To pay your thanks and honors there. 
[to give God the credit He is deserves]

The Lord is good, the Lord is kind; 
[yep!]
Great is His grace, His mercy sure; 
[mercy sure = you don’t have to doubt that He’ll be merciful]
And the whole race of man shall find 
[we’ll find out sooner or later, like it or not]
His truth from age to age endure. 
[He IS truth and the truth doesn’t change]

Friday, August 31, 2012

ONE VOICE: Here for You





The Song:
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be learning a song called “Here for You” by Matt Redman and several co-writers.  It’s one of a few new songs we’ll learn this year that focus on what we’re actually doing when we gather to worship.  In all the hustle and bustle of getting to church, getting the baby dropped off at Lil’ Explorers Nursery, greeting people as you go, and finding a seat…well, it’s no wonder that we often find ourselves distracted from our primary purpose when 10am rolls around!

Perhaps you, like me, occasionally forget that we’re not there for ourselves. We forget that we’re not there for our friends.  We forget that we’re not there for our kids. We forget that we ARE supposed to be there for God…to give Him thanks, to tell Him that we love Him, to let Him know that we recognize He alone is worthy of our worship!

And that’s why I love this song that allows us to sing—8 times over!—that “we are here for You”…We’ll start our service with this song on Sunday.  Let it remind you why we gather.  Let it turn your focus to the One who deserves it!

Listen to It:

CLICK HERE to download this song from iTunes.


Lifting my voice with yours, Pastor Neil
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Neo-Hermitism

When did it happen? When did we overly privatize & individualize the Christian faith? I've heard of hermit-types in the old days that would go off by themselves to live somewhere in the wilderness so they might avoid temptations and distractions and focus solely on their relationship with God.  Many of today's believers that I've run into (and I've been guilty of this too) seem to have embraced a sort of "neo-hermitism".  Can I claim a new term there? Allow me to define neo-hermitism as the practice of secluding oneself from society in all matters regarding faith.  In all other matters of life, the neo-hermit is free to be a social butterfly...embracing, rather than fleeing from, the temptations and distractions that hermits of old sought to avoid.

Our society contains many true neo-hermits.  People who, when surveyed: believe in God, pray, are very spiritual, even describe a close relationship with Christ. Yet they don't talk about their faith and don't practice their faith publicly.  The advantages are: no one can call them intolerant based on faith association, no awkward conversations about something that the rest of the culture deems a personal choice best made and kept in private, and no worries about being held to anyone's standard of living but what they work out for themselves--it's all between them & God.

Church-goers often practice a less potent form of neo-hermitism.  These neo-hermits do make the effort to attend a public worship event from time-to-time.  However, they are very strategic about how they approach this.  Many of them choose churches where they won't actually have to build relationships with other believers at all.  They can just drift in and right back out.  Others choose smaller churches where you do get to know a certain set of people but they are mostly "their kind of people" and they make certain to keep the conversations on non-faith-related topics like the weather, sports, family, vacations, etc.  More often than not, these neo-hermits even avoid praying or addressing issues of faith with even their closest family and friends. The advantages here are: they don't feel the need to work out  their faith since they get all they need once a week and, at the same time, they keep many of the afore-mentioned advantages of a private, personal faith.

Despite the perceived advantages, facing temptations and distractions without faith-oriented relationships to act as encouragement and support is a recipe for disaster and an obvious downside of living as a neo-hermit.  At LifeQuest, we're trying to counter neo-hermitism with a small group ministry we call Transformation Groups.  They're not perfect but they are helping some people break out of faith-seclusion into faith-community. If you think there's any chance you could be a neo-hermit on one level or another, we invite you to consider joining a group.  Come to our TG Celebration event, share some food and just observe.  Who knows, it might be just the thing your faith needs!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Transformation

Our mission statement is as follows:  Connecting people to Christ in a way that leads to life transformation.  Those of you who have attended service at LifeQuest should know that sentence quite well - not only is it in the bulletin, but it is written on our walls and mentioned at the end of each service.  But have you given that statement any thought recently?
My family started attending LifeQuest back in December 2006.  I don't know why I started thinking about it, but I realized recently that the person who walked in the door at 720 East Norton road in 2006 isn't the same person who stared at me in the mirror today.  I am transformed.  Don't get me wrong, I am not finished - but I am transformed.
Each of us has a story like this.  What are we going to do today to help a stranger, someone who doesn't have a relationship with our Savior, write their story?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Back to School Splash!

Hey check out these awesome words from our Children's Ministry Director, Amanda Walker:

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:9-11

I have been writing a great deal about some of my prayers that have not been answered or not answered in the way for which I was hoping. Today, I want to praise God for prayers that have been answered just as I wanted (not that it is all about me, but you know what I mean:). First, we have received many school supplies and cash donations for the Back to School Splash. I think it is a huge testament to the positive state of our church that, even when economic times are tough, we are able to ask for and receive the money needed for important things such as Camp Sharon and school supplies. As of right now, we will be expecting a little over one hundred people for the Back to School Splash with somewhere between fifty and sixty of those people being children and youth. I would say about five or so of the families who have signed up have either never been to our church or only been once or twice. I don't care where you are reading this right now, that deserves an "Amen!" These answered prayers show that God has great things in store for our ministry and I fully expect one of those things to be an increase in children's attendance once the school year gets underway. Therefore, get ready folks for a year of love, laughter, and bringing the great news of Jesus Christ to eager ears and hearts!"

Monday, June 18, 2012

ONE VOICE: All My Fountains



The Song:
I hope you’ve been having fun lately as we’ve been learning “All My Fountains” by Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, Daniel Carson, and Nathan Nockels.  I know the band would all say that we’ve been stretched rhythmically by this song :) And it’s been a blast to see you guys clapping like maniacs!!!  How fun to celebrate God!

So what exactly are we celebrating with this song?  Some of us like things to be spelled out in black and white (like me a lot of times) instead of poetically presented in symbolism and metaphor.  So some of us are probably wondering why we’re clapping like mad and singing about fountains…Ha!   So let me just share what, to me, is the heart of this song’s theme:

First off, the song sets the scene by describing life as a dry desert land in which we struggle to just “keep walking on.” So it’s in that context that we sing of this “flood for my soul,” an “everlasting stream,” a “well that never will run dry,” a river that “carries me home.”  AND where does this life-giving sustenance come from? What is the source?  All our fountains are in God.  Every bit of true sustenance, satisfaction, life, love, and joy are found in Him alone.  And that’s what we’re celebrating when we clap like crazies!  Thanks for being a fun church to worship with and not just a bunch of knots on a log…

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


Lifting my voice with yours, Pastor Neil