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Archive for June, 2009

plowed-field“What do you see?” was the foundational question of the prophet Jeremiah’s ministry.  Over and again, Jeremiah’s life would be filled with visions that he would in turn communicate to nations and kings, and what he saw would be the key to the message he delivered.

That same principle of vision is an essential factor in the ministry God has given each of us.  What you see determines what you say, what you do, and how you live.

As Mindy shared with us yesterday in her message, “Jeremiah: Faith for the Unseen,” the vision test for Jeremiah was the dormant branch that stood before him.  Jeremiah saw its identity and its potential. “I see an almond branch,” he said.  The young prophet could see what it was and the fruit it would produce.

What do you see today?  What do you see in your home, at work, and in the mirror?  What do you see for your future and how do you see your past?  What season of life are you in and where will you go from here?

The key to living in the grace of God is the capacity to see what God is doing around you and partner with Him in that activity.  This is the vision which brings hope, purpose, fulfillment, and fruit to life.

As we were closing the service yesterday, I saw a plowed field with rows and rows of uncut diamonds planted in the furrows.  It was as if the Lord was showing me there was an untapped harvest here in West-Texas.  God sees the beauty and the value that remains undiscovered in your life — and the soil of West Texas is the perfect place for your life to yield a harvest.  Can you see it?

Podcast

Follow the link to access Pastor Mindy’s message “Faith for the Unseen” from the life of the prophet Jeremiah.

Links

As Mindy shared yesterday, the song “You Have Redeemed My Soul” from the Enter the Worship Circle project kept coming to my mind.  Here’s a tribute video I found on youtube.

On the Radar

All youth and parents are invited to join us for a BBQ at Pastor Eric and Mindy’s house this Wednesday, July 1 at 7:00 pm.  We will eat, meet, play, and discuss upcoming plans for the youth ministry of EFC.  New 6th graders are invited to attend, as we will be welcoming them into the youth group!

Fountain Gate Fellowship in Abilene is hosting a Worship Training Seminar on Saturday, July 11, from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm for worship team members and those who just love to worship!  More information is available on their website at www.fountaingatefellowship.org

Our first Kids’ School of Worship will be held at Emmanuel Fellowship July 28-31.  This amazing event will follow the format of a VBS with the emphasis of instructing children (and adults) in the privilege of worshipping our King.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “See His Love” by Tim  Hughes
  2. “You Gave Your Life Away” by Paul Baloche and Kathryn Scott
  3. “I Repent” by Barry and Michelle Patterson
  4. “Revelation Song” by Jennie Lee Riddle

Sunday Preview

For the months of July and August, we will take a summer tour through the life of our Lord Jesus as told in the book of John.  I invite you to join us this Sunday for our first message in the series “That’s My King!”

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Honor and the Smell of SmokeSome things you just can’t hide.  Like standing by a fire, you’re gonna end up smelling like smoke.  Honor is one of those unconcealable qualities of life, because honor doesn’t flow from the lips, it flows from our lives. 

Our Lord Jesus nailed the essential aspect of honor when He said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8). 

As we looked at the life of the prophet Elisha yesterday, we were able to discover the protection a life of honor offers and the doors honor is able to open.  Elisha was simply tending to his fields when the Mantle of Elijah was placed upon him, but he did two things well in response to this new anointing.  He burned his escape route and he kept his eyes focused on his instructor.  Elisha fully honored his mentor until it was his time to pick up Elijah’s cloak and step into his own ministry.

Is honor a word that fits into your vocabulary?  Does it fit into your lifestyle? 

What struggles do you have honoring the people and the positions around you? 

It is my hope that, in my life, honor will not be a catchy word I throw around for my own benefit, but that honor will be the established attitude of my heart.  Regardless of what I perceive with my eyes, I desire to treat people with the honor being fashioned in the image of God deserves.

  • Honor is a choice.
  • Honor is given, not earned.
  • Honor is given, not grabbed.
  • Honor remains even after its usefulness.

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power,  for ever and ever!”

Podcast

Follow the link to access Pastor Eric’s Father’s Day message from the life of the prophet Elisha at http://efcsweetwater.com/index.php?nid=11648&s=gl

Links

Check out this great “Happy Father’s Day” kinda wedding video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMtm1M8Q9tI&feature=related

How about a “Happy Father’s Day Sprite Style.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBcbnSqGz8

Something to chew on: “Rethinking the Cross” by Peter Lopez

On the Radar

Our youth are spending the week at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX, for an awesome time of worship and the Word.  Please remember to lift them up in prayer as they experience the life changing love of God.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cyqn2LxKVk
  2. “Your Love Is Everything” by Chris Quilala — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aSjM2kF4pA&feature=PlayList&p=CE575C95FECBEFB4&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=10
  3. “Dance With Me” by Chris Dupre
  4. “Forever And A Day” by Anthony Skinner

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, we will conclude our series on Old Testament Heroes with a look at the remarkable life of the prophet Jeremiah.

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Visiting with people as they were heading out of the service Sunday, I had an interesting conversation with one of our local tattoo artists.  Responding to the morning message, he said, “Your heart can be wholly, holy, or holey.” 

 Now that’s a profound thought.  As near as I can tell one will lead to the other, but there is one that undermines them both.  Let me explain:

“Holiness” is our desire.  It is the command of God for our lives and it is the gift of God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  A holy life reflects the grace of God through our character and actions.

“Holeyness” is the under miner.  The holes in our life from past wounds and sin create pitfalls from which we sabotage ourselves and our purpose in Christ.

“Whollyness” is the heart that is undivided.  This is what God commends Joshua for when He says:

“Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” Numbers 32:11-12

How is your heart today?

Is your heart so holey that you have lost sight of living holy? Or are you living wholly in the grace that makes us holy unto our God and King?

Remember, the holes are healed and a whole heart is developed only in the holiness of the presence of God.

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” Exodus 33:11

Podcast

Follow the link to access Pastor Eric’s message on Joshua from last Sunday at http://efcsweetwater.com/index.php?nid=11648&s=gl

Links

I’ve posted the Parable of the Mandarin Goby on the blog.  Click here to catch the closing story of Sunday’s message.

A great resource for learning how to live in the Presence of God is a book called Practicing His Presence, which was written by a monk named Brother Lawrence.  You can find the book at Amazon.

On the Radar

Spend an evening in His presence at the Night of Prayer and Worship this Friday at The Sweetwater Prayer Center.  The party starts at 7:00 pm.  Children are welcome to join us, but a nursery will be available.  Join us for a glorious time in the presence of our King.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “O Taste and See” by Brian and Jenn Johnson  watch on youtube.
  2. “I Love Your Presence” by Anthony Skinner  watch on youtube.
  3. “A Little Longer” by Jenn Johnson  watch on youtube.
  4. “Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe – This one is a must watch. 

Sunday Preview

Our hero for next Sunday is Elisha.  His life teaches us the profound impact of honor.

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Mandarin GobyPastor lived at the Outpost, one of the few Cities of Refreshing on the outskirts of the Great Desert.  He and his Family enjoyed the strength and courage they drew from the Fellowship they were connected with.  It was his responsibility to help the Fellowship walk in Faith and Unity and find their daily Nourishment from the Spirit and the Word.  Pastor loved the members of the Fellowship, he desired for each of them to walk in the fullness of Life purchased for them by the Son.

Pastor loved Life and found much enjoyment from tending to living things.  He would tend to his Family with focused passion and attention, drawing great satisfaction from speaking the languages of Love to each of them.  He would tend to his Lawn, introducing each Blade to Water and Fertilizer while combating the enemies of Grubs and Weeds.  Pastor also had a great love for his Fishtank, a thirty gallon encounter with the world’s most vast and mysterious resource, the Ocean.

One day Pastor went with his son to Petstore.  It was a marvelous world filled with talking birds, slithering snakes, and new additions for his Fishtank.  It just so happened that this very day was half price day at Petstore, and a beautiful array of fish were available.  As Pastor browsed among the fish, he discovered Mandarin Goby.  Mandarin Goby was a brilliant fish full of vibrant color and delicate movement.  Pastor broke Rule Number 10 of Fishtank ownership and made an impulse purchase of Mandarin Goby, for half price, of course.

Upon arriving at his new home, Mandarin Goby was quickly acclimated to the thirty gallon Fishtank where his beauty and grace made an enchanting addition to the small ecosystem.  Then Pastor set about doing what should have been done before the purchase, he researched the proper care for his new purchase.

Through his reading, Pastor discovered that Mandarin Goby is one of the crown jewels of a Fishtank, valued for its spectacular coloring, but Pastor was disheartened to learn that Mandarin Goby was a four out of five on the difficulty scale of fish care.  Research indicated Mandarin Goby was an extremely picky Eater, would not aggressively pursue Nourishment, and, typically, would only Eat Living Food.  Pastor determined that he would not allow his half price purchase to be in vain.  He blessed Mandarin Goby and declared “Healthy Eating” over him.

As time passed, Mandarin Goby began to get thinner and thinner.  Pastor soon discovered that an emaciated fish is an ugly sight.  Pastor tried a variety of tactics to encourage Mandarin Goby to Eat.  He increased the supply of Food to all of the residents of the Fishtank.  He also isolated Mandarin Goby in a Nutrient Rich Environment of Brine Shrimp.  Sadly, Mandarin Goby still refused to eat.  Finally, Pastor invested in some Copepods, a Living Food especially attractive to Picky Eaters like Mandarin Goby.  Along with the purchase of Copepods came the purchase of Microalgae (neither at half price) to feed the Copepods — everything needs to Eat, of course. 

Pastor became encouraged.  He had provided the right Food for Mandarin Goby!  However, Mandarin Goby was not an Aggressive Eater and had Tankmates who found the Copepods to be an attractive Meal as well.  Mandarin Goby was swimming in a Nutrient Rich environment, but, although Pastor could place the right Food in the Water, he could not make Mandarin Goby Eat.

One day, as Pastor was preparing to leave for a Spiritual Retreat, he discovered Mandarin Goby dead at the bottom of Fishtank.  Pastor’s heart was broken as he provided a proper burial for his departed friend.  His half priced crown jewel was now receiving the Royal Flush.

As Pastor reflected upon his brief adventure with Mandarin Goby, he began to think about his beloved friends at the Fellowship.  “How are they Eating?” he wondered.  Pastor realized how much like Mandarin Goby the Fellowship could be.  He had devoted his life to providing a Nutrient Rich Environment in which the Fellowship could grow, but did they face the same challenges as Mandarin Goby? Would they be aggressive Eaters or would they be picky Eaters?  Pastor could lead the Fellowship to the Word, but he could not make them Think.  Pastor prayed and blessed the Members of the Fellowship.  He prayed they would live their lives with Hunger and Passion.  He prayed they would earnestly pursue Relationship with the Spirit through Study of the Word.  He prayed their hearts would find Nourishment from the Food he provided for them.

He made a Covenant with the Fellowship:  I will do my best to provide Living Food for you, but you must choose to Eat.  And the Fellowship determined that what he said was good.

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Change the Shape of Your World

Change the Shape of Your World

As I helped my father-in-law build a tree house for my sons, I was amazed at how the right tools can make a difficult job easier and much more enjoyable.

My sons have been begging for a tree house for years, and I have wanted to build one for them.  The simple truth is I kept putting it off because I didn’t have the knowledge or the resources to get the job done.

Doesn’t that describe how so many of us feel about our prayer lives?

We want to be a prayer warrior and greatly desire to shake Heaven with Bullet Train Prayers for the nations.  We just keep putting it off because we don’t know how.

Not anymore!

Here are 5 tools to equip you to pray for the nations, or that one nation that God has laid on your heart.  It is time to take your prayer life from thinking and wishing to standing and declaring!

Check out these tools and resources for world missions prayer.

  1. The CIA World Fact Book is an amazing place to start your search for world prayer information.  Here you can find information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.  Now that’s sure to awaken a sense of calling toward a specific place or people.
  2. Operation World is a complete global missions prayer guide.  It is like the encyclopedia of world missions prayer!
  3. Voice of the Martyrs is a sobering website for those of you who feel your heart being led to pray for a persecuted country.  It is a remarkable resource that will take your prayers from focusing on maps and flags to seeing the faces of men and women who put their life on the line because of their love for Christ.
  4. Prepare International is the website of a dear friend and visionary ministry that is helping to develop leaders and churches in Eastern Europe.  Those of you who’s hearts are drawn toward this geographic location will find specific prayer points and meet ministers who are laboring in the forgotten fields of Eastern Europe for our Lord.
  5. Once you determine your world prayer direction, I encourage you to log onto the Sweetwater Prayer Center website and take action to express where your prayers will be focused.  You will find a map on the site indicating which countries are currently being prayed for by friends of the Sweetwater Prayer Center.  I invite you to email me with your name and the country you are praying for so we can count you among the intercessors who will change the shape of the world through prayer.

Now you have some tools.  Go build something!

May the Lamb who was slain receive the full reward of His suffering.

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award-noblesse_obligeMany thanks to my blogging mentor for bestowing the Noblesse Oblige Award (French, “nobility obligates”) upon the MondayMorningReview.  Peter’s coaching and encouragement have been instrumental in getting The Review out of email inserts and into the blogosphere, and his musings over at Beauty of the Bible are an amazing place to shake the dust off of your old religious paradigm.

And, in keeping with tradition of the Noblesse Oblige Award, I nominate:

Fresh Focus – the devotional project of the Writer’s Circle of Emmanuel Fellowship.

BJM – the travel blog of Bill Johnson, one of my ministry heroes.

Benij – the blog of Beni Johnson, Bill’s wife and an amazing minister by her own merit.

EffectiveChurchCommunications – a well of resources for churches, hosted by Yvon Prehn.

Sweetwater Prayer Center – a blog dedicated to raising up and equipping intercessors for every nation of the earth.

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Do you remember the scene from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where Indie is over the edge of the cliff and the Holy Grail is right at his fingertips?  Indie is at that crisis moment where everything he has ever been looking for is jjuusstt wwiitthhiinn rrreeeaaaccchhh, but his life is hanging by a thread.  And then his father calls him by name, “Indiana, let it go.”

Clasp hands, pull to safety, and a happy ending!

If only the difficult choices could be that easy (and if only there was theme music!). 

One of the highlights of yesterday’s message was the moment of discovery that the covenant God offers us is so huge that it takes two hands to hold on to.  If you are going to cling to the covenant, you must let go of everything else.

For Mephibosheth it meant letting go of the “dead dog” mentality.  What does it mean for you?  Is there anything you are holding on to that is keeping you from embracing the grace and peace God’s covenant offers?

Shame?  Fear?  Unforgiveness?  Sin?

I believe your Father in Heaven is calling you by name today.  He is inviting you to let go of your disappointment and embrace His covenant.

Clasp hands, pull to safety, and a happy ending!

Podcast

Follow the link to access Pastor Eric’s message on Mephibosheth from last Sunday at http://efcsweetwater.com/index.php?nid=11648&s=gl

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Everlasting God” by Chris Tomlin – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhMdWjL2kiU
  2. “Friend of God” by Israel Houghton – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1nkeSUnYgU
  3. “Amazing Love” Hillsong – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0XFqyGMNMU
  4. “Never Let Go” by Matt Redman – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIAdgLR1ZGw
  5. “Blessed By Your Name” by Matt Redman – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL3NFhmxQxs
  6. “Grace Like Rain” by Todd Agnew – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcGJb-mPMmg

 Sunday Preview

Next Sunday is Missions Sunday.  I look forward to providing seed to our sowers as we bless the nations!  We will also provide an opportunity to give toward our youth as they prepare to head to camp.

 Our hero focus for Sunday is Joshua.  There is one line in the Bible that sets him apart to lead a nation.  Do you know what it is?

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