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Posts Tagged ‘ministry’

  1. I am thankful to raise my children in Sweetwater, the oasis of West-Texas.  A beautiful city, filled with beautiful people.
  2. I am thankful for the team I work with every day.  A passionate, energetic, creative, and hard-working crew of Jesus-loving pastors.
  3. I am thankful for men and women who laid down their life to lead the Body of Christ and pioneer a path of revival.  Men such as Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church are my modern day heroes.
  4. I am thankful for Nelson Searcy’s book “Fusion,” which has taught me how to love and appreciate the new guests at EFC.  It takes courage to walk into a church for the first time, and I want to honor that courage with a warm welcome and great encounter.
  5. I am thankful for every unsung hero and unknown face that loves unselfishly, lives faithfully, and serves unconditionally.  These are the saints I look forward to singing with someday in a Heavenly choir.
  6. I am thankful for my spiritual heritage, a legacy of faith of three generations of men loving the church and seeking revival in West-Texas.
  7. I am thankful for my kitchen table.  It is so much more than warm food and sweet desserts.  It is a place of joyful conversation, heartfelt prayers, and everyday discipleship.
  8. I am thankful for grace.  It is as amazing today as it was the first day it pulled me out of darkness and into light.
  9. I am thankful for my wife.  She inspires me every day to live fully and freely, to continually press further up and farther in to the grace of God!
  10. I am thankful for this year’s harvest: salvations, healings, rededications, restorations, weddings, baptisms, and freedom.  It’s been a good year!
  11. I am thankful for the opportunity to press into next year — and the hope that 2012 will be even more alive, blessed, and fruitful than this year!
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Sometimes black ink on white paper doesn’t do justice to the incredible faith demonstrated by those whose stories are told in the Bible.  It is easy to forget these were real people, in a real place, who had to overcome real fears to walk in obedience to God and fulfill their purpose in their lifetime.

In the book of Joshua chapter three we encounter one of those stories that makes fairy tales seem small and fiction feel tame.  After wandering for forty years in the wilderness, the nation of Israel is now poised to enter their promised land.  One last obstacle separates one million sojourners from setting feet upon their destiny — the Jordan river, in flood stage.

The story that unfolds in Joshua chapter three is one of amazing faith and a demonstration of the power of one step to open a pathway for multitudes to follow.  I believe many of you reading this article may be one faith-filled step from fulfilling God’s purpose for you, your family, your church, and your city.  Here are four keys to taking your first step:

  • PREPARE YOUR HEART

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’”  Joshua 3:5 (NIV)

  • PUT YOUR FEET IN THE WATER

“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”  Joshua 3:13 (NIV)

  • PROVIDE A PATH FOR OTHERS

“The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.”  Joshua 3:17 (NIV)

  • PARTICIPATE IN SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED

“…the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”  Joshua 3:16 (NIV)

 

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I’ve never been short of new ideas.  In fact, Mindy and I joke that about one out of three of my ideas might actually have some potential.  So, I come up with lots of ideas in order to get to that third one faster!

  • “Wouldn’t it be great if…”
  • “What if we…”
  • “Has anyone ever…”
  • “Just imagine…”

These are some of the phrases you’ll hear around our house or in a staff meeting at church.

One time I had the great idea of designing the entire theme of our church around an “Under Construction” concept.  Some of the highlights of this grand thought included giving a pair of gloves embroidered with an EFC logo to all church members.  I thought we could follow that up by placing every family’s name on a hammer and hanging them up in the church as a demonstration of our common purpose to build together.

I know some of you are wondering why we haven’t implemented such an amazing idea already, but, apparently, some ideas don’t play out in the implementation phase as well as they do in the brainstorm phase.  (Which basically means they don’t pass my wife’s décor standards.)

The point behind the hammer and gloves was to communicate the value of each individual to the vision and ministry of Emmanuel Fellowship.  There is work to do around here — and your hands fit the gloves.

As we continue to grow as a congregation and reach out to our community with the message of the gospel, it is my sincere desire that every member of EFC discovers how their unique gifts connect them to the ministry of the Body of Christ.  And, maybe someday, you’ll have a hammer with your name on it!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  –1 Peter 4:8-10

 

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An invitation is a powerful thing.

It means you have been accepted and included.  It means there is a place for you in the activity at hand.

I’ve been invited and uninvited to special events.  I’ve been thought of and forgotten.  I vividly remember the long walk home after I was asked to leave an event at a not so gracious hostess’ home one evening in college.

An invitation takes you from being a casual observer to an active participant.  It cuts through every potential barrier and puts you on the inside of the action.

One of Jesus’ greatest frustrations was the exclusive nature of the Jewish faith in his day.  Jesus gave this fiery rebuke to the teachers of the law:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”  – Matthew 23:13

But, you have been invited to the party!  The ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus are your invitation to participate in the abundant life.  The only limitations you have are the ones you have placed on yourself.  Nobody has the power to limit who you are in Christ.

My friends, God is doing amazing things among us.  It is an overwhelming joy to be a part of the transformation of lives and healing of the broken.  And you can be a participant, not just a spectator.

I invite you to take your next step in ministry.  I believe God is calling you to join in the work He is doing.  How will you respond to His invitation?

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”  – 2 Peter 1:3-4

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Photo: Karen Carbone http://www.inbloomimages.com

Mindy and I are excited to announce the release of our first worship CD, “All Things New.”

What began with a birthday gift of recording time in a local studio has grown into something bigger than we ever imagined.  We were so happy with what we captured in the recording that we took it through the necessary production steps to make it available to others. 

“All Things New” is a collection of original worship songs and prayers through the Scripture designed to lead people into an encounter with the beauty of God and His word.

We have been working on the project for almost a year.  While we may be new to the recording process, it has been our privilege to lead people in worship together for years.  One of the things we have always loved to do most is take people on a journey to encounter the presence of God, and that’s what this CD is all about.  It begins in the Psalms and travels right through to the book of Revelation, looking to connect people’s hearts to God every step of the way.

 “All Things New” is set to release Sunday, April 11, 2010, at Emmanuel Fellowship Church and is also available for purchase online at the von Atzigen Ministries website.

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Consider these Bible facts:  Jesus traveled and taught for three years.  There are about 110 pages in the Bible dedicated to His ministry and message.  We have approximately 25,000 words that Jesus spoke recorded in the Bible.  Of those 25,000 words, Jesus taught about the Father in Heaven at least 181 times.

This means 1 out of every 140 words, Jesus was speaking about His Father.  His central message and purpose was to restore us to a relationship with our Daddy in Heaven. 

The following is a compilation of my ten favorite verses about our Father in Heaven.  All but two of them are spoken directly by Jesus Himself.  May you experience His love as you read the truth about your Abba.

10.  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  –Matthew 6:26 

9.  “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?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.  –Matthew 18:12-14 

8.  But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  –Luke 6:35-36 

7.  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.  –Luke 12:32 

6.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”  –John 14:1-2 

5.  “No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  — John 16:27 

4.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  — Romans 8:15-16 

3.  “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”  — Matthew 7:9-11 

2.  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  –1 John 3:1

And what is the message all of these verses are hammering into our hearts?

  • You have a daddy who loves you.
  • He is strong enough to protect you.
  • He is engaged enough to teach you.
  • He is tender enough to hug you.
  • He is alive enough to play with you.

And the Number One verse regarding the love of the Father is this amazing truth–  no matter how far you have wondered, you can still come home!  Regarding the prodigal son, Jesus tells us:

1.  “When he came to his senses, he said…I will set out and go back to my father”  –Luke 15:17

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Click to view the Father’s Love Letter

Podcast

You can find Pastor Eric’s message, “The Love of the Father,” on the Emmanuel Fellowship Church web site.  Click to listen

Links

Fathered By God by John Eldredge

Healing the Father Wound by H. Norman Wright

Groovy Giveaway — Peter Lopez is giving away videos of the new series from the creators of Veggie Tales, “What’s in the Bible?”  Head over to www.BeautyoftheBible.com to enter to win. 

Quotes

“Father! – to God Himself we cannot give a holier name.”  –William Wordsworth

On the Radar

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children second session tonight, March 8, at 7:00 pm.  Childcare is provided.

Lifegroups meet this Wednesday at 7:00 pm.  Click here for more Life in Sweetwater information.

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.

Be in prayer for our Youth Mission Trip as they head to Mission Arlington over Spring Break.

Our Nursery is taking applications for a consistent Sunday morning Nursery Worker.  If you or anyone you know are interested in filling this position, please contact the church office at 325-236-9200.

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. “We Cry Out” by Jesus Culture
  2. “Your Love is Everything” by Jesus Culture
  3. “Freedom Reigns” by Jason Upton
  4. “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, March 14, 2010, we begin to turn our hearts toward the amazing sacrifice of our King upon the cross.  “Vantage Points” is our four week series leading up to Easter.  Each week will offer a dramatic presentation of a witness to the crucifixion.

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* All Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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As many of you know, Emmanuel Fellowship has been praying for God to send us someone who will pastor our youth with energy and vision. We are so thankful He has answered this prayer!

It is my great joy to (re)welcome Loran and Tiffany Rule, the first youth pastors at Emmanuel Fellowship, back to Sweetwater as our pastors of youth, grades 6-12!

The Rules served here as youth pastors during the church’s early stages, under the leadership of Pastor Yancy Smith. They love Jesus and love youth, and we are looking forward to the life and creativity they will bring to EFC!

Loran also works as a flight paramedic, and Tiffany is a full-time stay at home mom to their two young sons, Jayden and Evan.  Tiffany is the daughter of Randy and Rhonda Wilks, founding members of EFC.

The addition of the Rules to the ministry team of EFC positions our congregation to provide vibrant ministry to families from the Nursery to Kid’s Church through the senior year of high school.  We desire to walk along side parents through every stage of family development to help establish a solid spiritual foundation in the lives of their children.

I invite you to connect with Pastor Loran on Facebook, and discover his vision for Youth Ministry in Sweetwater.

Podcast

Did you miss yesterday’s message?  Do you need to hear it one more time?  You can find Pastor Eric’s message, “SEND” on the church web site.  Click HERE to listen.

Links

Did you enjoy Max Lucado’s story of the candles in the closet.  Click the link to share it with your friends.

Click to discover more about the passion for missions of the Moravian church.

On the Radar

Membership Dessert is tonight!  Come let us feed you yummy treats as we share with you the vision of our church body.  Click to discover more about connecting with the ministry of our church in Sweetwater, Texas.

Our Lifegroups will be convening at the church for a NIGHT OF WORSHIP this Wednesday, February 3, at 7 pm.  Make sure you don’t miss this refreshing night of being in His presence.

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.

Our Nursery is taking applications for a consistent Sunday morning Nursery Worker.  If you or anyone you know are interested in filling this position, please contact the church office at 325-236-9200.

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 you children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

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. “I Asked You for Life” Kim Walker version
  2. “I Have Found a Love” Kim Walker version
  3. “Here I Am to Worship” by Tim Hughes
  4. “How Marvelous” Chris Tomlin version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, February 7, 2010, we will begin a new sermon series “Here is Love.”  This series will explore the connection of faith and love in the covenant relationship of the family.

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