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Archive for November, 2009

It seems pretty often that I catch a news headline about a chain reaction of generosity breaking out at a Starbucks.  It’s amazing how one act of kindness can lead to a morning filled with bright smiles and warm hearts as customers pay forward the blessing of a free cup of coffee.

Every chain reaction has to start with a catalyst.  It has to begin with a person who decides to purchase not only their morning caffeine fix, but an extra hit for the car behind them. 

In the life of David, King of Israel, we see a catalytic moment that pays forward for generations.

It began in the field of Araunah the Jebusite when David made an extravagant offering to the Lord on behalf of the nation.

But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”  –1 Chronicles 21:24 (NIV)

Somehow through this encounter with the Lord, David discerned that at the very place of this sacrificial offering, the Temple of the Lord should be established.

Then David said, “The house of the Lord God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”  –1 Chronicles 22:1 (NIV)

For the building of the Temple, on the very ground of his initial offering, David makes the most sacrificial offering ever recorded in human history.  The staggering wealth of his offering is recorded in 1 Chronicles 22.

Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the Lord, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon: “My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the Lord my God . . .“Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would . . . “I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. You have many workmen: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as men skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.”  –1 Chronicles 22:6-16 (NIV)

And, just like a happy morning at Starbucks, David’s generosity becomes a catalyst that ignites a nation to give toward the glorious vision of establishing a house for God to be worshipped on the earth.

Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron. Any who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the Lord in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.  –1 Chronicles 29:6-9 (NIV)

The story of this threshing floor turned Temple of the Lord is concluded by a verse in 2 Chronicles that ties all of the pieces together.

Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David.  –2 Chronicles 3:1 (NIV)

Now, there is more to the background of this property and the purpose of God in this story, but what we see so clearly in this little sliver of history is the impact of sacrifice and extravagant generosity on the story of human history.

When a person makes a large purchase on their own behalf, a common question they may encounter is, “How much did that set you back?” 

When an extravagant sacrifice is made on behalf of the Kingdom of God, the question that only eternity will be able to answer is, “How much did that set you forward?”

I wonder if Jesus was thinking about this field David purchased from Araunah when he told us this story about the Kingdom of God.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  –Matthew 13:44 (NIV)

Podcast

Click here to listen to Pastor Eric’s message “The Sacrifice of Generosity.”

On the Radar – Church Holiday Schedule

  • Wednesday, December 2 – Lifegroup / Children / Youth at 7:00pm
  • Sunday, December 6 – Second Sunday of Advent
  • Wednesday, December 9 – Lifegroup Christmas Party / Youth Christmas Party
  • Sunday, December 13 – Third Sunday of Advent
  • Wednesday, December 16 – Hayride, Caroling, & Chiminea Christmas Party
  • Sunday, December 20 – Children’s Christmas Pageant
  • Wednesday, December 23 – No Church Activities
  • Sunday, December 27 – Last Sunday of 2009
  • Wednesday, December 30 – No Church Activities
  • Thursday, December 31 – New Year’s Night of Worship

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

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 usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. Happy Day” by Tim Hughes
  2. Your Love Never Fails” by Jesus Culture
  3. Healer” Kari Jobe version
  4. Wonderful Maker” Chris Tomlin version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, December 6, is the second Sunday of Advent.  We will continue our series on Sacrifice with a look at walking in Sacrifice in our relationships.

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Yesterday was another powerful service, wasn’t it?

I think we went through a record number of tissues as a congregation. The next time Pastor Mindy preaches, there will be a notice posted on the Monday Morning Review so you will remember to bring extra Kleenex.

I also just noticed on Pastor Eric’s facebook where he and Keegan are officially on their way back. Be sure to give them a warm welcome home. I’d wait a day or two to allow them time to recover, though.

Thanksgiving

As was apparent from the message and testimonies, we have a lot to be thankful for individually and as a congregation. We should also remember all God has done for us and give Him praise, not just for what He has done, but simply because He deserves it.

If you’re curious about what this might look like, check this out.

I think we all can dance and shout on half of something. Maybe next week we can persuade Eric and/or Mindy to demonstrate Bishop Jakes’ fancy footwork. Now, that would get the congregation dancing and shouting.

I sincerely hope each and every one of you have a fantastic Thanksgiving.

You Heard it at EFC

On the Radar

Advent Choir – The Advent Choir is a new and exciting adventure for EFC and is open to anyone who would like to participate. The choir will sing throughout the holiday season beginning next Sunday. Practice continues tonight November 23, 2009 @ 7pm at EFC.

WorldChangers – The EFC children’s ministry, a.k.a WorldChangers, has a new website where parents can keep up with weekly lessons and everything else going on with their little world changers.

EFC Facebook Group – Have you joined the EFC Facebook Group? If not, you might be missing out on stuff happening at EFC. If you haven’t joined yet, you should. As of this morning, there were 50 members. That means over half of you still haven’t joined. What are you waiting for?

Revelation Bible Study – The Revelation Bible Study meets weekly on Tuesdays @ noon at EFC. It’s not too late – it’s never too late. Come join in this in depth study verse-by-verse through the book of Revelation led by EFC’s very own Curtis Ward, who is blogging about the study on his blog The Watchman’s Gaze. Check it out.

Last Word

By the time this is published, Pastor Eric will be somewhere over the Atlantic, and by the time many of you read this, he will be somewhere over Texas. Which means he will resume writing the Monday Morning Review next week, but it also means that next week we get to hear more great testimonies.

Have a great Thanksgiving weekend.

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Gdanks, Poland

Gdansk, Poland

Wow! There’s a lot to talk about this morning. Pastor Eric is in Poland (soon to be in Croatia), Pastor Mindy, Pastor Lolo and Jay Neal got set on fire at Global Awakening’s School of Healing, it was Missions Sunday, and it’s the harvest season.

Has there ever been a better time to be at EFC? Well, the Cowboys did lose, so maybe next week will be even better.

Courage

Courage is a curious thing. And as we learned from Pastor Mindy, courage can also look like a crazy thing. But, when God is on your side, it can also be a pretty cool thing. Just like Jonathan’s plan to take on the Philistines single-handedly seemed crazy, we should start coming up with some crazy plans of our own, and trust that the same God who delivered the Philistines into Jonathan’s hands, will deliver our enemies into our hands. Courage, after all, is a lot easier to command when your trust is in God.

You can read this part of Jonathan’s story at 1 Samuel 14.

Missions Sunday

Appropriately, yesterday was EFC’s Missions Sunday. For anyone who stumbles upon this post or who is relatively new to EFC, the third Sunday of every month at EFC is designated specifically for giving to mission organizations. Here are just a few of the opportunities to support missions work at Emmanuel Fellowship Church:

Prepare International – Pastor Eric and Keegan are currently traveling with a team from Prepare International, and EFC members frequently support and accompany Prepare International mission teams.

Mission Brazil – Part of the reason Pastor Mindy and Pastor Lolo attended the Global Awakening School of Healing and Impartation was because it is a prerequisite to travel with a Global Awakening team to Brazil, which they will be doing in 2010. If you are interested in going to Brazil with the team, please contact Pastor Mindy for more information.

Tents of Mercy – Tents of Mercy is a Messianic Jewish organization spreading the gospel in Israel.  Tents of Mercy currently has five congregations throughout Israel, and EFC currently supports the Katzir Asher (Harvest of Asher) congregation in Akko.

World Bible Translation Center – Help translate the Bible into new languages for distribution throughout the world.

Sweetwater Prayer Center – Help support our very own Sweetwater Prayer Center.

Harvest Season

It’s the harvest season, and all the seed you have sown over the year – whether financial, in ministry, or at home – is ready to be harvested. The key, however, is to harvest because the crop doesn’t gather itself. So go and gather your financial harvest. Go and gather your spiritual harvest. Go and gather the harvest of souls you have worked on all year. They are ripe for the harvest.

I’m not sure where exactly that came from, but I hope it’s a good word for somebody, or a lot of somebodies.

You Heard it at EFC

The just-for-Bryant Wilkinson version (which includes his favorite song):

On the Radar

Advent Choir – The Advent Choir is a new and exciting adventure for EFC and is open to anyone who would like to participate. The choir will sing throughout the holiday season. Practice begins tonight November 16, 2009 @ 7pm at EFC.

WorldChangers – The EFC children’s ministry, a.k.a WorldChangers, has a new website where parents can keep up with weekly lessons and everything else going on with their little world changers.

Revelation Bible Study – The Revelation Bible Study meets weekly on Tuesdays @ noon at EFC. It’s not too late – it’s never too late. Come join in this in depth study verse-by-verse through the book of Revelation led by EFC’s very own Curtis Ward, who is blogging about the study on his blog The Watchman’s Gaze. Check it out.

Last Word

All the reports I’ve heard from Pastor Eric have been good, so keep praying for the wondeful work being done in Eastern Europe by Pastor Eric, Keegan and the whole Prepare International team.

I think I will also be writing next week’s Monday Morning Review, so if you have any news or info that you want included, please email me or leave me a comment below. Have a great week.

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Poland PreachingWe just finished a remarkable Ministry Training School in Gdansk, Poland.

I had the privilege of teaching with Randy Boyd of Prepare International and a new friend, Brad Davidson.  We taught seven sessions on Disicipleship and Spiritual Fathering.  It was a tremendous joy to teach on this subject alongside one of the most influential men in my life.  The message we communicated was more than words and principles, our very lives were a demonstration of the beauty and process of dicipleship over many years and stages of development.

A few observations from our weekend with these wonderful brothers and sisters:

  • The future of the Christian church in Poland is in good hands.  As I shared with 20 somethings through the weekend and teenagers on Sunday morning, I was blessed by the passion and caliber of these young believers.
  • Christians in Poland know how to worship! 
  • People in Poland are hungry for authentic Christianity.  A brief conversation on our flight into Gdansk connected a young woman with the local church.
  • Disciples are being made and will continue to be made in Poland!

Poland WorshipLord Jesus, thank you for the privilege of speaking life into believers in Poland.  May your fire and love fill their hearts and direct their steps.  I thank you for generational blessings flowing through the grace of discipleship among our Polish friends.  Strengthen the Body of Christ in Poland, Lord.  Encourage.  Refresh.  Bless.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

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11:11

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.  –Proverbs 11:11

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Is Jesus first place in your life?  The initial response for a Christian would be a resounding, “Yes!”  And it would seem very much like the right answer.

But, Jesus did not come only to be first place in your life.

I believe many of us have prioritized Jesus out of our lives by making Him first.  We give Him the first 15 minutes of our day.  We may even give him the last 15 minutes of our day.

But, what do we do with all of the hours in between?  Where is Jesus as 10, 2, and 4?  I want to suggest to you that first isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not all there is.

Jesus number 1 jpgHere is a picture of first:

Do you see any problems brewing with only placing Jesus first in your life?  Second is pretty happy.  It gets to hang out right next to Jesus.  But, what about third?  And look how far fourth is away from Jesus.  Whoever or whatever fifth is doesn’t get much contact with Jesus at all.

Let me propose a different configuration.  When you allow Jesus to take up residence in the center of your life, He is able to influence every aspect of who you are and what you do.  Just like the hub of a wheel, it is the hub of your heart that provides support to every area of your life.

Christianity is an invasive force.  Jesus wants to invade your business.  He wants to invade your marriage.  Jesus wants to invade your Friday nights and Monday mornings.

Four Spokes of LifeThere are four key spokes to the wheel of our lives:

  • Personal life – who I am and the basic choices I make
  • Social life – how I relate to others
  • Business life – what I do to generate income
  • Political life – how I view the world around me

It is very possible to claim Jesus to be first in your life and allow Him little or no impact on these key areas.

What happens when Jesus is not the center of our life?  We become the center of our life.  And when we are the center, our faith becomes just another spoke on the wheel.  It’s a good spoke, but it’s just a spoke.

When faith becomes a spoke, rather than a hub, it doesn’t influence the other spokes.  Truth be told, we begin to influence it more than it influences us.

me center jpgWe become the filter that processes life.  We tell everything where to line up.  And we determine how much influence each spoke has on us.

How well do you think we hold up to that pressure?  We don’t.

What happens to a wheel that loses its hub?  It collapses.

There was a time in my life when Jesus was just another spoke on the wheel, a time when I was the center of my own life.  Eventually, I came to realize there is all the difference in the world between knowing Jesus as a good guy and receiving Him as your Lord and Savior.

Where is Jesus in your life?

He could be in a good place.  You could even say He is first.

But, is He the center?

Links

Click HERE to view the story of Laura, a 10 minute glimpse at establishing Jesus as the center of your life.

Parents, Click HERE to access this week’s Family Connect page.  It’s another opportunity to bring what happens on Sunday morning to the kitchen table on Monday night!

On the Radar

We are looking forward to EFC’s first choir leading us in worship during the Christmas season.  Contact Pastor Mindy if you are interested in joining the choir.  No experience necessary.  Our first choir rehearsal will be Monday, November 16th!

Pastor Eric and his son, Keegan, leave Thursday on a mission trip to Eastern Europe.  They will be traveling to Croatia and Poland as Pastor Eric teaches in several church leadership schools and preaches in local churches with Prepare International.  Keegan will be getting his feet wet on the mission field and being an “armor bearer” for his dad.  Please pray for this trip and these two travelers as they help bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Europe!

Brazil Mission Trip — Pastor Mindy and Pastor Lorin leave in December for a mission trip to Brazil!  They will each need to raise over $3,000 for trip costs.  For more info and to find out how you can support their trip, click HERE.

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.  Click highlighted songs to hear on youtube. 

  1. “Arise, King of Kings”
  2. “Grace Like Rain” by Todd Agnew
  3. New This Week — “I Adore You” by Jesus Culture 
  4. “You Won’t Relent” by Misty Edwards 

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, November 15, is our Missions Sunday.  Pastor Mindy will be bringing the message!

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See the WorldI have the wonderful privilege of taking my oldest son, Keegan, with me on a teaching/training mission trip to Poland and Croatia next week.

We are traveling with Randy Boyd of Prepare International and will speak to students and church planters in their ministry training schools. 

My hope is to bring practical training to church planters and ignite fiery passion in their hearts for ministry and the realities of the Kingdom of God.

Keegan is with me as a friend and a prayer warrior.  I am overjoyed to allow him the opportunity for this cross-cultural experience, and it is my desire to ignite in his heart a fire for missions.  Whatever he chooses to do with that fire is up to him, but I pray his heart will burn with a desire to see our King glorified in every nation and among every tribe and tongue on the earth.

Please pray for a joyous and safe trip.  Pray that our ministry among church planters brings encouragement and equipping that will impact nations for years to come.  Pray for a dynamite time between father and son as we embark on this adventure together.  And please pray for grace and peace to cover Mindy, our home, and our church family as we are gone.

Our Trip Itinerary

  • Thursday, November 12: Depart for the long jump over the pond.
  • Friday, November 13: Turn 35 somewhere over the Atlantic & arrive in Gdansk, Poland for a school on Discipleship
  • Saturday, November 14: Continue Ministry Training School in Gdansk
  • Sunday, November 15: Preach in local churches in the Gdansk area.
  • Monday, November 16: Fly to Croatia & Arrive in Sibinik, Croatia for school on The Kingdom of God
  • Tuesday, November 17: Continue Ministry Training School in Sibinik
  •  Wednesday, November 18: Continue Ministry Training School in Sibinik
  •  Thursday, November 19: Travel to Zagreb, Croatia for school on The Kingdom of God
  • Friday, November 20: Continue Ministry Training School in Zagreb
  • Saturday, November 21: Continue Ministry Training School in Zagreb
  • Sunday, November 22: Preach in local churches in the Zagreb area.
  • Monday, November 23: Fly home!

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  Check back often for updates from the field.

You can track Pastor Eric and Keegan during their journey on a world wide map at instamapper!  Give it a click, it’s pretty cool.  😉

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