Not to Offend You, But You’re Invited

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It’s interesting how often we ‘tiptoe’ into each Christmas. Most of you have heard the ‘offensive’ greeting of saying “Merry Christmas” before. One may rebuke, “It’s Happy Holidays!” We are in a fascinating time where a kind gesture can be misinterpreted as offensive. As a Christian, if someone was to come up to me and say, “Happy Hanukkah!”, I would not get upset……in fact, I may not even correct them. It was a nice gesture, I’ll take it. 

For me, Christmas and Easter are opportunities to really celebrate my faith, not to offend. The fact is, we don’t celebrate these two holidays without this faith. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ while Easter celebrates Him raising from the dead. So I would say if any two holidays were ok to talk about Jesus, these may be them. Can St. Patrick’s day really be celebrated without mentioning St. Patrick…….ok, bad example….not sure if he’s ever mentioned. Could be the alcohol intake. 

This Christmas (less than 2 weeks away), I will again go into the holiday feeling extremely blessed and joyful that I get to celebrate a God who loves me and you unconditionally. A God who will never leave you or forsake you. A God who gives me an overwhelming sense of peace in an absolutely crazy world. A God who has blessed me with so much that I want to tell the world of His saving grace. A God that is just waiting for you to say YES to Him.

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On Sunday December 23rd(9:00 & 10:30AM) and Sunday Christmas Eve (5:00PM) Fellowship Church will have a one-hour service celebrating Jesus. We’ll start with some upbeat music, a skit, a story for all the children right on stage, a candlelit rendition of Silent Night and a short relevant message on the hope of Christmas. There will also be coffee and cookies. This has been the start to my families Christmas for almost 20 years and I wouldn’t change a thing. I really hope you’ll join us. 

 

 

 

Sideways Energy

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I’ve been involved in the church for almost 20 years. I’ve seen a lot. In those years I’ve seen so many people take great steps in their faith. I have seen hundreds of people accept Jesus Christ into their heart, many go public with their faith and be baptized, and many serve in many different capacities. 

I’ve also seen people come into our building with more of a ‘what’s in it for me?’ attitude. I get it, it’s how we enter most buildings – movie theaters, restaurants and stores. We want to leave satisfied and happy with the way everything went – for us. The thing is, church was not created for ‘me’, it was created for ‘you’. The more ME you bring into church, the less you understand what the church was supposed to be. Yes, it’s a place to be ‘fed’ and to learn more about Christ. That’s the consumerism in it. But it’s not conditional feeding. We can’t go into a church each Sunday in hopes of them talking about what we want to talk about (most people like to talk about the stuff they’re not struggling with). It’s a big crowd and everyone is in a different place. The remarkable thing that God continually does each Sunday is to ignite people to take next steps. I cannot tell you how often so many people on Sunday swear the Pastor was talking directly to them! God does that. 

Here is my ask for all of you who read this and attend a church. These are some great ways to help the cause and build the church…..the church that Jesus died for:

1.    Come with an open mind and open heart. Leave the ‘junk’ at the door. Don’t allow anything to distract you from what God wants you to leave with.

2.    Go each week. Don’t allow the world to keep you from growing in your faith. Don’t allow children’s coaches to have a say in your child’s faith. Don’t allow that extra hour of sleep to keep you from the much needed one hour of God. Make it a habit. You won’t regret it.

3.    Get to know others at your church. Don’t wonder why no one is introducing themselves to you, you introduce yourself to them. There are great people in churches today (there are also some that are a bit different) Love them all. Stop taking the easy road by hanging out with the same ‘clique’ each Sunday. When first time guests come into a church full of pockets of people so consumed by their conversations, enough not to even look up, chances are they’ll go elsewhere looking for churches less ‘cliquey’. 

4.    What works for you may not work for others. The message you loved may not have had as much of an impact on someone else. The song that brought someone to tears may have no effect on you. What wasn’t meaningful to you may have been profoundly meaningful to others. God is doing things each week, trust that.

5.    When you feel as though you’ve shown enough grace, show more. People are broken. We’re all some sort of messed up. Let’s stop knocking each other down. Let’s start assuming the best in others instead of assuming the worst. Let’s understand that until we walk in other’s shoes, we really have no clue. People are a certain way because of a certain upbringing, their surroundings, their previous hurts, and all that’s happened along the way. Our role is to help them. We, as a church, welcome everyone here in hopes they get introduced to the ONE, Jesus Christ, who can take care of all the baggage they’re carrying, all the hurt and pain they’ve been through and all the mistakes and sins they’ve made along the way. 

I see a bright future for the church. I’ve seen all it has done for so many. In fact, there really is nothing like a church family. So how about you?

  •  Are you coming with an open mind and heart?

  • Are you coming each week? If not, what is the reason and is it something you’re ok with. (I get it, some of you work on Sundays, some kids sports ‘promised’ no Sundays, etc) 

  • Are you getting to know different people at church or are you a bit guilty of staying in your comfort crowd? 

  • Showing an abnormal amount grace?

On A Dime

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We were driving the other day and suddenly a guy on his phone swerves into our lane and was inches from smashing into the passenger side. The funny thing is he still isn’t aware he did it. This must’ve been a very important phone call, text or social media post! These incidents constantly remind me of the fact that death can happen in a second.

I’ve learned that everything today changes ‘on a dime.’ I’ve done some funerals lately and see the brevity of life. I’ve seen how quickly it all happened with so many families. It breaks my heart. When one is diagnosed with cancer, on to hospice care, then it’s over……on a dime. It may have felt slow in hospice but looking back it was fast. I’ve seen it with my own mom and several other loved ones. My mom was diagnosed with cancer, went into a very short remission and then it’s over. Cancer may just be the biggest play on emotions ever. Hope to hopeless, hope to hopeless, and so on and so on.

But there is the hope. There is something else I see each time we have to process through this. I see life at a standstill. I believe this is God designed. We all sit at a funeral or a family or friend’s house afterwards trying to digest what just happened. It’s in those moments where we laugh, cry and reminisce. We embrace a bit longer and we leave with an intentionality to get together more often.

The world we live in today gradually speeds up and only you can slow it down. It shouldn’t take death and tragedy to help us pause. We need to schedule the ‘lull’. We need to create the margin. Otherwise we regret. We regret not scheduling time with loved ones. We regret allowing our jobs to take precedent over our families. We regret looking at Facebook before we spend time with God. We regret allowing our hectic schedules to come before the One (Jesus) who allowed us to live these hectic schedules.

Today, let’s slow things down. In fact, I appreciate the fact that you slowed down enough to read this. Today, lets see life as temporary (James 4:14) and take advantage of every minute we have to do the things we’ll never regret. Let’s do things that make us forget to check our phone.