Friday, June 29, 2018

Changing Lives

I love getting emails from my good friend Dereck Mushayamunda!

I just got this one today with this message:

"Thank you for your faithfulness for the cause of Christ. You have truly heard the voice of the Lord calling you for the time as this and you responded like Isaiah who said, 'Here am I Lord send me.' We had another water well drilled. We established a garden to help the widows. They are rejoicing in the joy of the Lord and truly are grateful for how you have made this possible for them. This is what Christian ministry is all about. Being practical. Helping people see Jesus through small things and practical ways. Please be praying with me that we can get more help to drill more water wells."

For the last seven or eight years we have taken up what we call "Advent Conspiracy" offering during our Christmas Candlelight Service. We use the money to retell the story of Christmas in a practical way. God changed our lives with the greatest gift he could give. Through Jesus we have life change and that is what we hope to do with our Advent Conspiracy offering.

When I was in Zimbabwe there were three things people did every day. Look for water, look for food and gather fire wood.

Through Advent Conspiracy one of the things we have been able to do is put five wells in different villages. As you can see from the picture it brings Life Change! They are able to get clean water and grow crops for food. Two of the things that are crucial in the life of the people in Zimbabwe.

The other thing that goes with a well is a church. They are not only receiving physical needs, but they are receiving the greatest gift of all. A gift that changes their life for eternity.

I think of John 4 when Jesus met the woman at the well and told her He would give her a water where she would never thirst again. Water brings Life Change her on earth. Living Water, a water in which we would never thirst again, brings Life Change for eternity!

Think about this when you drink some water today!

If  you want to know more about how you can help provide clean drinking water to Zimbabwe contact me through our website at: www.churchonnorthwest.com

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Coke challenge

I walked up to the kitchen to get something to drink one afternoon. I got my usual Diet Coke. And of course I fell into the gimmick of Coke for the last two summers, I checked to see what the name was on the bottle. I had hoped that it was my first or last name. It was not, but it was the name of someone I know. 

I don’t know if it was one of those God moments or not but I felt like I should pray for the person whose name randomly appeared on my bottle of Diet Coke. And then I thought, I should do this every time.

Since that day I have noticed that every time I get a Diet Coke, I can associate the name on the bottle with someone I know, so I pray for them. I just pray simply for God to be with them, provide for them and protect them.

Is this some insane way God is working in my prayer life right now? I don’t know, but is it bad to be praying for people we know by name? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact I don’t think we pray for people by name enough just on a whim or on the spur of the moment. 

We pray for people when there is a need or a prayer request, but what about for those we know well and those who are just an acquaintance?


So my challenge to you this summer is to pray for people, people who randomly come up when you get a Coke. Some may need it right at that moment for whatever reason. Regardless of whether they need it specifically at the moment, we could all use it. #ShareaCoke #Prayforpeoplebyname

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Fear Factor


I was reading through Acts 9 recently. I tried not to focus on the story or Saul/Paul because I wanted see what other things God’s word reveals in that chapter. Verse 31 caught my attention. It is after Barnabas brings Saul/Paul to the Apostles and then was sent to Tarsus.

Then this is recorded by Luke: “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”

Saul/Paul is gone so there is no one really leading the charge against the church so there was a time of peace. During this time of peace the Holy Spirit did some work on the church. When the church gives room for the Spirit to work three things can happen.

1)      The church is strengthened.

2)      The church is encouraged.

3)      The church grows in numbers.

Why is this a reality in some churches and not in others? I believe because of the last line in this verse, “living in fear of the Lord.” Is it possible that one of the characteristics of disciples in the early church was the “Fear Factor?” After Ananias and Sapphira both dropped dead when they lied to the Spirit it says, “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.” (Acts 5:11)

Instead of fearing the persecution of the world, the driving force behind allowing the Spirit to lead is fearing God. So the question is “Who do you fear? Man or God?” The answer to this question determines who it is you are going to try to please. If your goal is to try to make everyone happy and please them then you will probably quench the Spirit in the life of the church and your own life.

It you goal is to please God, then you will give room for the Spirit to do its work: to give strength, to encourage and produce growth.

Solomon had it right when he wrote: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.” Proverbs 9:10-12

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Living in the Divine Space

I was in a meeting this week and someone mentioned something about the Divine space. A space where you are alone with God. Just you with the creator and the redeemer.

Since that day I have really been thinking about how often I live in that Divine space.

In Hebrews 10:22 it says, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

The image that comes to mind when I think of drawing near to God is a child who snuggles up close to a parent or grandparent with a book to have them read to them. Or a child that snuggles up close to someone to watch a movie for the 30th time or a television show.

How often do you enter into that Divine space with God?

As I began to think through the Divine space even more I was reminded of one of my favorite professors, Dr. Joe Ellis. He introduced me to a book by Brother Lawrence called “The Practice of the Presence of God.” Brother Lawrence dedicated his life to “practicing the presence of God.” The summary of his principle was, “Live as though God is beside you and with you all the time—as indeed He is.”

Do you live within this Divine space?

My guess is not all the time. However I believe we should, like Brother Lawrence strive to live as though God is beside us all the time.

Brother Lawrence offered this prayer in his writings:
“I here and now submit myself again totally to you, without any reserve, not claiming your   presence as a right but resigning myself completely to your good and perfect will.”


Let’s all strive to live within the Divine space, surrendering ourselves fully to God. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

What is New for 2016?

At 12:01 am January 1st I was with some friends celebrating the coming of the New Year. The year 2015 will never be here again. It's gone. However 2015 went for you, whether it was a good year or a bad year, it is gone. So what is 2016 going to be like?

While there are some unforeseen things that could happen you do have the ability to make 2016 better than 2015. The biggest thing you can do to make 2016 better is to follow the wisdom from Isaiah the prophet.

     "Forget the former things;
          do not dwell in the past." Isaiah 43:18

There is nothing you can do about 2015 so stop dwelling on it! It's gone!

2016 is a "New" year. Look to the future. What changes can you make starting right now that can make 2016 better than 2015? Exercise regularly? Eat more healthy? Work on some of your relationships that have been hard?

Don't dwell on not being healthy, difficult relationships, a difficult work environment or struggling with an addiction. Decide today you are going to develop a plan to make 2016 better than 2015.

Isaiah goes on to write.

     "See, I am doing a New thing!
           Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
      I am making a way in the desert
           and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19

Do you realize God is all about bringing life to the desert and wasteland? Do you realize he wants to do something "New" in your life?

So focus on what God wants to do with you. Don't dwell on the past, look toward a restoring God who wants 2016 to be better than 2015.

Maybe life has been going the wrong direction because you do not trust God enough to let Him do a New Thing, to restore a little peace to your life.

Maybe for 2016 to be better than 2015 you need to decide to let God do His work in you.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sharper

Sunday I finished up a series called "Present" (you can listen to the messages here). The idea is that we need to be more present in the lives of people. Jesus modeled it by coming to earth to dwell among men. He was "Present" through the discipleship process as he chose 12 guys to do life with. He then tells his disciples to be "Present" in the world connecting people to Jesus as disciple makers.

I met with three groups this past week where we discussed Proverbs 27:17, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." 

This verse means you need people in your life who are authentic, real and you trust enough to speak into your heart to make you a better person. While most agree that we need others to help us do life better we often forget this is not always a pleasant process.

In order for a knife, sword or tool to be sharpened there mus be some tension. There is a chipping away at the old in order to get a new, sharper edge. The problem is we don't liked to be stretched. We don't like the friction and tension. But this is what is necessary in order to be sharpened and get better. If we don't let others sharpen us then we can get pretty dull.

So there are a couple questions to consider:

1) Who do you let sharpen you  . . .

           . . . in your faith?
           . . . to be a better spouse?
           . . . to be a better parent?
           . . . to be a better friend?

2) Who are you sharpening?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Am I a Disciple?

In John 8:31 Jesus makes this statement, "If you hold to my teaching, you will really be my disciples."

Disciples are not defined by church attendance. They are not defined by self-proclamation. They are not defined by how many Bible verses memorized or if you carry a Bible. They are not defined by praying before a meal, in the morning or in the evening. They are not defined by how much you give in an offering.

Disciples do all the stuff mentioned above, but there is one defining thing according to Jesus that "really" qualifies someone one of His disciples. Do you hold to Jesus' teachings? Do you imitate Him?

Do people know you are a follower because you say you are a follower or because you live as a follower?

Our challenge is to live a little more like Jesus today than we did yesterday.