Can You Tell Just By Looking At Me?

Jesus Himself says in Matthew 22:37-39 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.' There's the vertical. He then states, "A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" There's the horizontal. 

I've found that the less 'vertical time' I have (time spent with God), the more clearly I need to work on my 'horizontal' (time spent with others). When I am not in a good season of pursuing God by reading, praying, spending time with people in groups or on Sunday's, I find I'm more impatient, quicker to get angry and less interested in getting to know others. In other words, not a delight to be around. 

One of the biggest detractors of following Christ is spending time with those 'following' Christ. Not those who are truly following Christ, sold out to Him, showing it by the way they love people. and how they always go beyond doing whatever they can to help others. No, I'm talking about the "dip your toes in" Christians. Not willing to be 'all in'. Skeptical. Enjoying the world way too much.That was me for too long. I often told others of my faith but my actions told differently. My swearing and gossiping didn't show evidence of time spent with God - quite the opposite. My relationships with women often entailed other agenda. Going out with my friends to a bar and drinking too much wasn't showing anyone my faith at all. It was the norm. I fit in rather nicely. The thing is - in my pursuit and your pursuit of Christ - the more we fit into the world, the less difference we'll make in the world. 

Following Christ comes with responsibility. We are called to make a difference. We are commanded to love others differently. If your love for others doesn't stick out, you're not doing it right. Our example of love, as believers, consists of the ultimate sacrifice, God sending His Son to die on a cross to save us from a life outside of eternity. The bar is set extremely high. Don't just do things to fit in. Let's point others to the one who loves us unconditionally.  What's your next move?

 

 

 

A Life Forever Changed

We have all been “brainwashed” in some capacity regarding our faith. For me, I was brought up thinking there was a God but not enough of one to give any attention to or live a certain way. I was a “sporadic Catholic” and when I say “sporadic” I mean I attended church once a year, if that. For you, it may be the opposite. Maybe you went to church every Sunday, maybe even a Wednesday as well. We naturally follow our parent’s patterns – good or bad.

When I was in my 20’s my best friend accepted Christ. It was because of this that I decided I needed to figure this whole thing out. I motivated myself to read through the Bible (King James Version) Thousands of pages - zero comprehension. I had to check it off my list. Turns out that deep down I actually was learning.

Then I met my future wife Vicki. She sees I have a Bible on my coffee table and a cross hung over my bed. RED FLAG. “He’s a Holy Roller, Bible Thumper, Jesus Freak.” She didn’t leave. Thank God. She was intrigued enough to ask questions and have conversations. We decided to look around for a church.

The first one we visited passed the offering basket rather quickly and often (twice). They seemed to want our money yet we didn’t know them at all yet. I felt a bit used. The second one we visited, the doors were locked and the pastor was on a sabbatical – felt as though God was telling me this wasn’t the one. Our third church just didn’t feel right – almost too welcoming – a bit much. It didn’t feel authentic.

Finally, upon pressure of a good friend of mine from the gym (he was very intimidating, muscular and may have bullied me as I look back) Vicki and I decided to go to his church that he was attending - Fellowship Church. Our first visit was unlike anything I have ever experienced. The Pastor (Andy) came over and introduced himself and got to know us a bit. The message was something I understood and it inspired me to act it out during the week. All of the Bible references were explained so I could understand. Each week inspired me to pursue God on my own – praying, reading the Bible, serving and getting involved in groups. It was within that first year that Vicki and I asked Pastor Andy to officiate our marriage. We spend 6 weeks with him in our premarital counseling. I realized what a man of God looks like. I saw a man who followed Christ in every capacity – a living example of someone who was doing his very best to be the real deal. I am so thankful for that. Every one of us should have these people in our lives.

I accepted Christ years before going to Fellowship Church but it was this church that inspired me to live it out. No hypocrisy – doing my very best to be more and more like Jesus Christ. Loving people as they’ve never been loved before, looking for opportunities to serve others and teaching whatever I can to those interested in learning about the One who changed my life forever. Do I still mess up? Yes, but that's a longer blog.

If someone told me 25 years ago that I would be attending church every week and actually enjoying it, I would have never believed it. If someone told me I’d work at a church, well that would even be tougher. Thank you Fellowship Church for changing my life. #upandtotheright  

 

I Get To Go To Church

Guest Blogger - Cindy Schulte

 

When my daughter Vicki and her fiancé Rich were looking for a church many years ago to start attending, they found Fellowship.  She telephoned me to ask me to join her on a Sunday – my response was that I should not leave the church I had been going to for many years.  In my statement to her I said that I had to go to my church.  Her reply was “When you want to go to a church (not have to), try Fellowship."  Hmmm.. sometimes you just can’t go against true logic.

I decided to go one Sunday – not knowing that I would need Kleenex galore as the message just spoke to my inner soul.  I went every single week.  How did the pastor know what was on my heart?  How can you listen to a sermon for 35 plus minutes and want more?  On that first Sunday I went home and wrote a letter to my previous church to take me off their list because I would no longer be attending.  Did anyone call me to ask why?  Never.  Not once.

Within a month I knew that God had placed me here and I am eternally grateful to my daughter for inviting me.  I got a Bible, not really knowing what to do with it or how to start.  But each week I found the scriptures and looked them up (much difficulty in the beginning – even when I got the tabs – it was not alphabetical – ugh!!).  But through Growth Groups (small groups that meet weekly), friends (who I met here at FC) and weekly messages the Bible has become such a source of support, comfort and knowledge that God is always with me.

Fellowship Church and its welcoming “come as you are” message treats us just as Jesus does.  Even my husband, who was not attending church at the time, showed up just to see what I was "getting myself into."

The pastors (Steve and Andy Eiss) just shared with him what he needed to read to find Jesus.  Bob had to investigate the phenomenon of Jesus and when he read the book “ A Case for Christ” by Lee Stroebel recommended to him by them….he was caught. What a wonderful transformation! This church brought him to Christ and when he was diagnosed with cancer 8 years ago – he had the foundation with Christ that brought him through it all – a true inspiration.  This gave me a stronger faith as I watched Jesus through him.  He would have so much joy in his heart trying to share with others the message of Christ until his dying day.

I cannot tell you how much this church has helped me through the death of my husband, it boggles my mind, but I will continue to strive to move “Up and to the Right” with a church full of family that I can rely on!

Thank you to my daughter Vicki for making that call 17 years ago…I know that God put it on her heart and she responded.  My life is forever changed!