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!"