Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Staying in Step with Him

This is a good throught from Greg Laurie. Be encouraged and remember to stay in step with HIM!

"Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?"— Amos 3:3

A while ago, I was having problems with my German shepherd whenever we went for a walk. If another dog came anywhere near him, he would go crazy and lunge out at the dog, even if it wasn't bothering him.

When I shared this with the people who gave him to us, they asked me how I was walking him. I told them how, a lot of times, I would take him out, turn him loose, and let him go wherever he wanted to. Sometimes he would chase rabbits. When he was done, I would take him home.

They told me I couldn't do that anymore, because I was letting him run wild. They said, "The problem is that he is too 'doggy.' " They went on to explain how he needed to be reminded of who his master was. They said I needed to get him on his leash and use a muzzle device.

I started using it, and I found that it did work. I would just pull on his muzzle a little bit and he couldn't go after that rabbit. He had to go where I wanted him to go.

After a while, I took the muzzle off. Now he no longer needs that device. I am the master and he is the dog. He just goes where I go.

We can be like that with God. We say, "Here is what I want to do, Lord. You come with me." But God says, "That is not the way it works. I want you to be more like Me. I want you to get in step with Me. I want you to go where I am going."

When we do, we are living the Christian life to its fullest.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Men's Group Discussion

I really enjoy our Tuesday morning men's group. We are a band of brothers that desire to obtain the mind of Christ and we encourage each other in our spiritual commitments. My prayer is that someday that dining room will be full and there will be 100 men coming to fellowship and be encouraged in their walk. Proverbs 27:17 say that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. We have a LOT of discussion in our group and we truly sharpen one another and challenge each other's thinking about God.

This morning was no exception to that. We are studying Proverbs. We were wrapping up chapter 1 today. In verse 28-33 of chapter one, there is much said about suffering earthly consequences for one's sin and God allowing it. It sparked the whole discussion about God allowing consequences for our sin, even after you're saved. What a great discussion! We shared personal stories. We talked about grace and mercy, but also justice. We talked about longsuffering. It was really good.

If you are a man and you are reading this, you need to be at the Men of God Fellowship at 6AM on Tuesdays in the OAC dining room. Not only will you make friends, but you will be challenged and blessed by sharing and teaching from God's Word. I'm excited about how God is using this to grow and transform our men. I just wish that every man would be committed to being a part of it. I'm going to keep praying for that.

Love Being a Part of a Special Day

I had the privilege Saturday night of marrying a couple that I did premarital counseling with. It's a blessing to see two committed people coming together, especially when they are committed to God and each other. I was pretty personal when I shared my "thoughts and encouragement" on marriage, but you can be that way when you know people. There were tears of excitement and joy throughout, as well as times of reflection and solitude.

It's fun to be a part of these events. There are so many memories made. We had a couple of hilarious ones Saturday night.

The wedding was held on the Garfield County Courthouse lawn at the gazebo. It was pretty. It was hot and windy, but nice still. There were several pots of plants to decorate the gazebo that had been set up. As the bride walked the aisle and got right to the end with her dad, there was a gust of wind and two pots blew over. People tried to reset them, but it happened again just a few seconds later. The bride smiled and laughed, as well as the groom, so it was okay.

If you know the location of the gazebo, it's near the street and about 20 feet from parking spaces. Before the wedding started, someone had a truck parked there to keep cars out of those spaces. They pulled the truck away right before the ceremony started. That way there weren't cars sitting there in all of the pictures. However, in the middle of the ceremony, a noisy car pulled up. I had my back to the street, but everyone else was faced that way. The bride and groom and everyone in the wedding party watched the car park, people get out and shut their doors and proceed to walk across the street. It took everything I had to keep my composure as everyone's attention had turned to the people who were parking right there in the middle of a wedding! Too funny, but made a good memory.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baptism Tonight

I get to baptize one of our Oakwood 101 attendees tonight. It's always an exciting time to see a person commit to the Lord and be baptized. This is one of the great joys of being in ministry, to be a part of the act of baptism and to watch someone grow in faith in the Lord. So, if you're reading this, rejoice that a brother is being baptized and pray for him as he grows in his relationship with his Savior. Don't forget to thank Jesus for the grace and mercy that He offers each one of us. We are His kids and He loves us.

As a side note, the campaign letter and commitment cards were mailed and everyone in the church should be getting one of those today or tomorrow. I already received a call today from someone that had received the letter and was excited about this Sunday. I'm excited about this weekend too. I believe that God and His Spirit are going to do some amazing things in our hearts this weekend. Be sure not to miss it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Comic to Ponder

This may be just in time for our campaign. Think about it. I got this in my e-mail today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Oakwood 101

After services yesterday we offered our class 101 to anyone wanting to learn more about Oakwood. We had over 20 perspective new members in our class. Tracy Morris and I co-taught the class together. It was a great group. Every time that we teach 101, we evaluate and share data on what happens in the class. After the class was over, Tracy and I stayed after and visited with different families for over an hour. During that time we had many good conversations with people. It was a good time of fellowship and answering questions, etc.

After the class was over, Tracy called me with some exciting news. One of the men in the class said that he had never called upon the Lord to be his Savior and Lord. Tracy shared with him about that and he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart right then. So Tracy prayed with him. We will baptize him sometime this week or maybe on Sunday. I also had another man come to me and ask to be baptized this week. I'll be talking to him later today and setting everything up. We also have the potential to see many of these families come to join the church in the next few weeks.

The value of a class like 101 is truly invaluable. To anyone outside of the church that doesn't quite understand Christianity or our beliefs, this class seems to turn the light on for them. We will continue to offer this class every 4-6 weeks and encourage all new and prospective members to attend. It will be great to see how God continues to work through what we are doing in class 101.

Which brings me to a point. When we share the simple gospel in class with people, when we read scriptures that explain salvation and baptism and communion and what all of this faith is really all about, people respond. We've had people respond in great ways this class and every class that we've had. The knowledge of the Word of God, through the guidance of God's spirit, changes lives and eternal destinations. When people learn what we are teaching in class 101, it's like the light goes on and they want to commit to God and His church. As the church grows, this will only help us to have solid members that are totally committed to the cause of Christ. We've laid out what it means to be a member of Oakwood and what our expectations of them are in their witness, testimony, giving, serving, and their whole life.

Once again I stand humbled and amazed at what God is doing in our midst. I'm just so glad to be a part of it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Perspective- ICBW

When I shared the message last week which was on the American Idol we called "More", I shared a little phrase that can help you with contentment. It's ICBW or it could be worse. If you really think about your life and specifically what you have, if envy and discontentment is knocking at your door then you just have to remember, it could be worse. The fact is, it really could be. We should be content with what we have. Paul shares in Philippians 4:11-12 "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

If you've seen or heard the list of Paul's sufferings, you know that he truly understood contentment if he could say what he's just said in Philippians. We must find contentment, not just to rid ourselves of the idolatry of the "More" idol, but in order keep God and what He wants at the center of our lives.

Remember, it could be worse, it really could be.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Great Visit

We received a card on Sunday that a couple would like a visit from me. On our new Info Cards there's a place for people to mark that they'd like to talk to an elder/minister. These people had marked their card, circled minister, and wrote that they'd like to talk to Rev. Eric. So I went for a visit in their home yesterday afternoon.

It was a good visit. They asked questions about the church and I got to know them a little bit. They were an elderly couple and the husband asked me if Oakwood was interested in having members like them. He went on to say that they didn't really have much to offer for ministry and that they weren't as young as they once were. I asked him if they were dead yet. Of course the answer was no. I went on to say that God must not be finished with them yet. They still have some things that they need to do before they are called home. They agreed and we fellowshipped and shared stories.

I asked them at one point, why Oakwood? They had said that they had tried a couple of other churches in town, but just didn't feel right to them. What the husband said about Oakwood was a delight to me. He said that it was one of the happiest churches he's ever been to. He said that when you walk in on Sunday mornings you can feel excitement and joy and see brothers and sisters excited to go to worship and praise their Savior. That's what attracted them back and makes them want to be a part of what God is doing at Oakwood.

I take those types of comments with the highest joy. God should be the center of our worship every week. His people should "enter His gates with thanksgiving in their hearts & enter His courts with praise". They should remember that this is the day that the Lord has made and rejoice in it because He has made us glad. When our church is doing that, God smiles on us. We must continue to be faithful to Him, even in our worship. These are signs of when God builds a church.

Signs of the Spirit of God being fresh on our church are everywhere. My visit went on yesterday about how many people had invited him to Sunday School class and really wanted to see them get involved. These are more signs of God's people building up His church through good works. (Ephesians 2:10)

We are experiencing a special time in our church. I hope that every member is experiencing what every guest seems to be experiencing, the true joy that only comes from God. If you don't have that joy, what's hindering you? If you do have that joy, pass it on and keep passing it on. Happy servants of the Lord are a draw of people to the Kingdom.

Monday, June 1, 2009

An Example to Follow

"For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." Hebrews 2:18

Although He was God, Jesus experienced human limitations like we do.

Not only was He hungry, not only was He sleepy, not only was He weary and lonely, but He also was tempted. Jesus felt the presence and pressure of temptation just as we do. He didn't have a sinful nature, but He experienced temptation.

Now why is it important for us to be aware of the fact that Jesus was tempted? It was so we could know that we follow a God who understands what we're going through.

As the apostle Paul wrote, "In all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:17).

Jesus also left us an example to follow as we face temptation. He occupied ground that we, too, can occupy.

It's important to note that Jesus did not meet Satan with His considerable supernatural power. He could have said, "I don't want to fool around with you right now. I have other things to do." And He could have disappeared. He could have called on the angels to intervene. He could have even overruled Satan because of His clear authority over him. Instead, He met the devil with the written Word. He countered every temptation with Scripture (see Luke 4:1–13).

So when you are tempted, you also need to have Scripture stored in your mind and heart to deflect the blows of the devil. When you have memorized Scripture, when you have gotten it ingrained in your memory banks, it is there to use during times of temptation.

I really liked these thoughts from Greg. Now, get out there and change your world!