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Archive for May, 2010

Substitutions are a standard part of life.  We substitute onion rings for fries.  We substitute Splenda for sugar.  We substitute texting for talking.

We all remember causing mischief when a substitute teacher walked into the classroom, or at least I do. 😉 And some of you may even remember when the von Erichs and the Freebirds would face off in wild wrestling melees called tag-team matches.  I would watch from the edge of my seat as an injured Kevin would stretch out his hand to tag up with Kerry to get a fresh sub into the fight, and Kerry would explode over the ropes to change the flow of the match.

But, there are some things for which there are no substitutes.

Each of us have been created with a “God-sized hole” in our souls.  It’s a missing piece in the puzzle of life that leaves the picture incomplete.

Try as we may to fill the hole, we always come up empty on the other side.

There is no substitute to the presence of God to bring wholeness to our life.  Nothing else has ever satisfied, and nothing else ever will.

In John Chapter 5, we read the story of man in need of the wholeness Jesus has to offer.

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.  (John 5:1-9 NKJV)

In this encounter, we hear one of the greatest questions Jesus ever asked, “Do you want to be made well?”

Jesus never asked a question for His own benefit.  Through this question, we see the invitation to abandon the substitutes and discover wholeness through the grace of God.

When you don’t know what you want, it makes it very hard to get.  When you want what you don’t need, you’ll pass right by the solution to grab hold of a substitute.

Consider today four substitutes to choosing to be healed:

  1. I want to be helped.  I need someone else to take responsibility for my situation.
  2. I want to be heard.  I want sympathy more than solutions.
  3. I want to be happy.  I chose to settle for the best of a bad situation.
  4. I wanted to be healed.  The pain of life slowly eroded my hope for real wholeness.

The reality is there is no substitute for the wholeness Jesus offers.  Many of us have wasted so much time looking other places for other solutions.  And we have come up empty every time.

But, the question of Jesus is still echoing through two thousand years of human history.  “Do you want to be made well?”

His question today is your invitation to experience the joy of life according to God’s design.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.  –Romans 5:5

Click here to discover more about the wholeness Jesus offers you today. 

Podcast

Click to listen to “Do You Want to Be Made Well?

Links

Click here to read stories of those who have been made well through the power and grace of Jesus. 

On the Radar

Night of Worship and Art Fusion coming next Wednesday, June 2!  The party will start at 7:00pm. 

Family Fun Night is scheduled for Wednesday, June 9, at 7 pm.  You are invited to join us for this entertaining evening of softball, homemade ice cream, and fellowship at Newman park.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

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. “Sing to the King”
  2. “I Have Found” by Kim Walker
  3. “Healer” Kari Jobe version
  4. “Awesome God” by Rich Mullins

Sunday Preview

Sunday, May 30, we will conclude our “Questions Jesus Asked” sermon series.  Join us for this final exploration of the questions of our Lord.

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Every person has a story.

Every story has potential for a happy ending.

Every story has a villain.

Every villain is creating conflict.

Every story has a Hero.

Your life is an amazing story.

Your story is continuing to unfold.

Your story is not over.

Your story is interwoven with the stories of others.

You are not the author of your story or of theirs.

You can play a part — but you cannot write another’s story.

Live your story.

Love other’s stories.

Let God write something amazing.

Podcast

The Speck of Sawdust,” Pastor Eric’s message from May 16, is now available online.  Click to listen.

Links

Emmanuel Fellowship has a great blogging community.  Follow these links to find out what our friends have been posting lately.

On the Radar

Family Fun Night is scheduled for Wednesday, June 9, 7 pm.  You are invited to join us for this entertaining evening of softball, homemade ice cream, and fellowship in the park.

We have 135 Question Jesus Asked posted on the blog.  Leave a response and let us know which question most captures your heart.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

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. “Friend of God”
  2. “Everlasting God” Chris Tomlin version
  3. “Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton
  4. “I Surrender” by Kim Walker

Sunday Preview

Sunday, May 23, we will be continuing our new and sermon series.  You are invited to come and explore with us the “Questions Jesus Asked.”

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A few months back, Pastor Morris Sheats (one of my ministry heroes and mentors) shared about a sermon series he was preparing on the questions Jesus asked.  This concept intrigued me, and I decided to jump into study of this topic myself.

I have been amazed by how masterfully our Lord uses questions to teach vital spiritual truths.  Jesus never asked a question because he needed to know the answer.  He used questions the way a surgeon uses a scalpel, to delicately cut into a new level of understanding.

Compiled here is a list of questions Jesus asked.  Though it is probably not exhaustive, it is an extensive collection of interrogations still demanding answers of us.

I find myself amazed at the power of these questions to cut into my soul.  I’d love to hear which question most jumps off the page and leaves you pondering as you read today.

  1. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? (Matthew 5:46)
  2. If you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? (Matthew 5:47)
  3. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:27)
  4. Why do you worry about clothes? (Matthew 6:28)
  5. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
  6. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? (Matthew 7:16)
  7. Why are you so afraid? (Matthew 8:26)
  8. Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (Matthew 9:4)
  9. Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? (Matthew 9:5)
  10. How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? (Matthew 9:15)
  11. Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Matthew 9:28)
  12. What did you go out into the desert to see? (Matthew 11:7)
  13. To what can I compare this generation? (Matthew 11:16)
  14. If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out?  (Matthew 12:11)
  15. How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man?  (Matthew 12:29)
  16. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? (Matthew 12:34)
  17. Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? (Matthew 12:48)
  18. Why did you doubt? (Matthew 14:31)
  19. Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (Matthew 15:3)
  20. How many loaves do you have?  (Matthew 15:34)
  21. Do you still not understand? (Matthew 16:9)
  22. Who do people say the Son of Man is? (Matthew 16:13)
  23. Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15)
  24. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
  25. How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? (Matthew 17:17)
  26. From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes–from their own sons or from others? (Matthew 17:25)
  27. What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? (Matthew 18:12)
  28. Why do you ask me about what is good? (Matthew 19:17)
  29. What is it you want? (Matthew 20:21)
  30. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? (Matthew 20:22)
  31. What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)
  32. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men? (Matthew 21:25)
  33. What do you think? (Matthew 21:28)
  34. Have you never read in the Scriptures? (Matthew 21:42)
  35. Why are you trying to trap me? (Matthew 22:18)
  36. What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he? (Matthew 22:42)
  37. Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? (Matthew 23:17-19)
  38. How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)
  39. Why are you bothering this woman? (Matthew 26:10)
  40. Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? (Matthew 26:40)
  41. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)
  42. But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way? (Matthew 26:54)
  43. Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? (Matthew 26:55)
  44. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
  45. Why are you thinking these things? (Mark 2:8)
  46. Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? (Mark 4:21)
  47. What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? (Mark 4:30)
  48. Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (Mark 4:40)
  49. What is your name? (Mark 5:9)
  50. Who touched my clothes? (Mark 5:30)
  51. Why all this commotion and wailing? (Mark 5:39)
  52. Are you so dull? (Mark 7:18)
  53. Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? (Mark 7:18)
  54. Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it. (Mark 8:12)
  55. Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? (Mark 8:17-18)
  56. When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? (Mark 8:19)
  57. When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up? (Mark 8:20)
  58. Do you still not understand? (Mark 8:21)
  59. [To the blind man] Do you see anything? (Mark 8:23)
  60. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? (Mark 9:12)
  61. What were you arguing about on the road? (Mark 9:33)
  62. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? (Mark 9:50)
  63. What did Moses command you? (Mark 10:3)
  64. Why do you call me good? (Mark 10:18)
  65. What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:51)
  66. Why are you trying to trap me? (Mark 12:15)
  67. Do you see all these great buildings? (Mark 13:2)
  68. Are you asleep? (Mark 14:37)
  69. Could you not keep watch for one hour? (Mark 14:37)
  70. Why were you searching for me? (Luke 2:49)
  71. Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house? (Luke 2:49)
  72. Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)
  73. Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? (Luke 5:23)
  74. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
  75. Where is your faith? (Luke 8:25)
  76. What is your name? (Luke 8:30)
  77. Who touched me? (Luke 8:45)
  78. Will you be lifted up to the skies? (Luke 10:15)
  79. What is written in the Law? How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)
  80. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? (Luke 10:36)
  81. Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? (Luke 11:40)
  82. Who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? (Luke 12:14-15)
  83. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Luke 12:25)
  84. Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? (Luke 12:57)
  85. Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:31)
  86. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? (Luke 14:34)
  87. Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? (Luke 15:4)
  88. Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? (Luke 15:8)
  89. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? (Luke 16:11)
  90. Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? (Luke 17:17)
  91. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? (Luke 18:7)
  92. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)
  93. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? (Luke 22:27)
  94. Why are you sleeping?  (Luke 22:46)
  95. For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? (Luke 23:31)
  96. What are you discussing together as you walk along? (Luke 24:17)
  97. What things? (Luke 24:19)
  98. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? (Luke 24:26)
  99. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? (Luke 24:38)  
  100. Do you have anything here to eat? (Luke 24:41)
  101. What do you want? (John 1:38)
  102. Why do you involve me? (John 2:4)
  103. You are Israel’s teacher, and do you not understand these things? (John 3:10)
  104. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? (John 3:12)
  105. Will you give me a drink? (John 4:7)
  106. Do you want to get well? (John 5:6)
  107. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:44)
  108. If you do not believe Moses’ writings how will you believe me? (John 5:47)
  109. Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? (John 6:5)
  110. Does this offend you? (John 6:61)
  111. What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! (John  6:62)
  112. You do not want to leave too, do you? (John 6:67)
  113. Have I not chosen you? (John 6:70)
  114. Has not Moses given you the law? (John 7:19)
  115. Why are you trying to kill me? (John7:19)
  116. Why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? (John 7:23)
  117. Where are they? Has no one condemned you? (John 8:10)
  118. Why is my language not clear to you? (John 8:43)
  119. Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?  (John 8:46)
  120. If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? (John 8:46)
  121. Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? (John 10:36)
  122. Are there not twelve hours of daylight? (John 11:9)
  123. Do you believe this? (John 11:26)
  124. Where have you laid him? (John 11:33)
  125. Do you understand what I have done for you? (John 13:12)
  126. Don’t you know me, even after I have been among you such a long time? (John 14:9)       
  127. Who is it you want? (John 18:4,7)
  128. Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? (John 18:11)
  129. Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me? (John 18:34)
  130. Why question me? (John 18:21)
  131. If I spoke the truth, why did you strike me? (John 18:23)
  132. Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for? (John 20:15)
  133. Friends, haven’t you any fish? (John 21:5)
  134. Do you love me? (John 21:17)
  135. What is that to you? (John 21:22)
All Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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The fact that you are reading this article is evidence that you are, or have recently been, connected with the U.S. Power Grid.  Right now, through over 180,000 miles of transmission lines, power is being supplied to the millions of homes in the United States.

With all of our advances in the technology to generate electricity, it is baffling we have not developed a way to store large quantities of electricity for mass distribution.  Electricity must be generated on demand for public use.

A key limitation in the distribution of electricity is that, with minor exceptions, electrical energy cannot be stored, and therefore it must be generated as it is needed. A sophisticated system of control is therefore required, to ensure electric generation very closely matches the demand. If supply and demand are not in balance, generation plants and transmission equipment can shut down.  In worst case scenarios, this can lead to major regional blackouts, such as occurred in California and the US Northwest in 1996 and in the US Northeast in 1965, 1977 and 2003. To reduce the risk of such failures, electric transmission networks are interconnected into regional, national or continental wide networks, thereby providing multiple redundant alternate routes for power to flow should (weather or equipment) failures occur. (Wikipedia: Electrical Power Transmission)

This limitation of our electrical power grid illustrates a vitally important spiritual truth.  We can generate energy through relationship with God, but we do not have long term storage capacity.

If we desire to walk in the strength and grace of our Lord, we must stay connected to Him as our power source.  We do not have the battery capacity to neglect relationship with God and expect to remain vibrant and effective.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

If you would like to learn more about staying connected with God’s power grid, click on the podcast link below.

Podcast

Power Grid will be available on podcast soon.

Links

Click here for the full wiki article on the U.S. Power Grid.  

Click here to see the Sweetwater High School coaches have a dynamic encounter with power as they get tazed in a law enforcement demonstration.

On the Radar

We invite all new believers to participate in the upcoming Baptism Celebration this Sunday, May 16, 6:00 pm, at First Christian Church.  Please make plans to attend one of our Baptism classes as well.  Contact Pastor Eric for more information.

To Save A Life free movie night!  Wednesday, May 15, at 6:30 pm in the High School Auditorium.  Youth and parents are invited to experience this amazing and in touch film.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

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. “See His Love” Jesus Culture version
  2. “Your Love Never Fails” Chris Quilala version
  3. “You Won’t Relent” by Misty Edwards

Sunday Preview

Sunday, May 16, we are transitioning into a new and intriguing sermon series.  You are invited to come and explore with us the “Questions Jesus Asked.”

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One of the key distinctions between developed and undeveloped nations is the adequacy of sewage removal and treatment.  The capacity to properly deal with sewage creates the environment for growth, health, and prosperity.

Proper sewage removal is equally essential to the human soul.

Ezekiel 47 paints a picture of a river flowing from the throne of God.  Verses 8-11 read:

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt.”

It is intriguing that this great river flowing from the temple has the capacity to bring life to every place that it flows, except to the swamps and marshes.

The distinction of the swamps and marshes is their lack of an outlet for the river.  Swamps and Marshes have a way for the river to flow in, but no way for anything to flow out, and the water there cannot become fresh.

Do you have a way for things to flow out of your life?

What are you doing with the years of emotional sewage that have developed in your soul?

The sewage is not the problem.  Everything living creates sewage of one type or another.  The problem occurs when the sewage is not properly dealt with and it becomes toxic to all other life around it.

The capacity to properly deal with “the stuff” of life creates the environment for growth, health, and prosperity.  May you find grace to flush what needs flushing today.

If you are a member of EFC, one of the best ways to learn to do just this is to attend a Spiritual Freedom Retreat, which will be held May 14-15.  Space is limited, so register today at www.efcsweetwater.com by clicking on the “Freedom” icon.

Podcast

To learn more about how to F.L.U.S.H. away the heartaches of life, listen to Infrastructure: Sewage System.

Links

Click here to learn more about the History of the toilet.

On the Radar

Night of Worship this Wednesday, May 5, from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the sanctuary.  Join us for a wonderful evening of worship, art fusion, and family time.

Youth Volleyball Night at Sonic, Wednesday, May 5, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. 

Make plans to participate in the National Day of Prayer, Thursday, May 6.  The Prayer Center will be open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.  A special time of prayer for kids will be available in the church sanctuary from 5 pm to 7 pm., as well.  Both events are come-and-go.

THIS Saturday is our Garage Sale for our kids grades 2-5 who are going to camp (due to the rain this past weekend.)  If you’d like to donate some items, please drop them off this Wednesday evening or contact Pastor Lolo at peterandlorinlopez@gmail.com to arrange a different drop-off time.

We invite all new believers to participate in the upcoming Baptism Celebration, Sunday, May 16, at 6:00 pm at First Christian Church.  Please make plans to attend one of our Baptism classes as well.  Contact Pastor Eric for more information.

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

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. “O Taste and See” by Brian and Jenn Johnson
  2. “Jesus Forever” by Anthony Skinner
  3. “I Love Your Presence” by Anthony Skinner
  4. “When I Think About the Lord” Shane and Shane version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, May 9, is Mother’s Day!  We look forward to an opportunity to honor the wonderful mothers in our congregation.  This Sunday will also be the conclusion to our Infrastructure sermon series.

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