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Posts Tagged ‘Sweetwater’

  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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Hey Friends,

Our Famous Failures sermon series has taken us deeper than I first expected, and has touched on some very delicate aspects of our faith.  In Sunday’s message, I challenged our congregation by saying, “The most dangerous thing we can do in our faith journey is interpret God’s will through our failures.”

Statements like this need to be digested.  They are not “one and done” thoughts.  In fact, they rub against some of the lies that have been deeply ingrained in our hearts about God.

I strongly encourage you to follow the link and listen again to Sunday’s message.  I actually wish you would listen to it twice.  As you listen, ask the Holy Spirit if you have misunderstood God’s heart and His will for your life because of some of the heartbreaks and failures you have experienced.  Ask God to reinterpret those events through the lens of His amazing love and the truth of His Word.

Here at EFC, we emphasize four simple truths we describe as our “Pillars of Thought.”  We have intentionally established these Biblical statements as tools to help us interpret what God is doing in and around us.  These pillars define our approach to understanding God and protect our hearts from misunderstanding His character.

I pray these principles will come to define your understanding of the heart of God as well, and may they give you courage to rise up from any failure and continue to pursue His glorious purpose for your life.

Much love,

Pastor Eric

The Pillars of Thought that define the revival culture of Emmanuel Fellowship Church are:

GOD IS GOOD

It is our adamant belief that the fundamental nature of God’s character is goodness.  When Moses requested to see the glory of God, our Lord responded by saying, “I will cause all of my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.”  (Exodus 33:18-19) The glory of God is His goodness.

WE LIVE FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH

Paul teaches that “our citizenship in is in heaven.”  (Philippians 3:20)  We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Therefore, we live according to the government, culture, atmosphere, and economy of heaven.  We live from Heaven to earth, recognizing that what is invisible is a superior reality to what is visible.    We will live according to the truth Jesus taught us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  (Matthew 6:10)

EVERYONE IS SIGNIFICANT

We see the fingerprints of God upon humanity.  We will live lives of honor toward one another.  We live to see people saved, healed, and delivered from the effects of sin, to help them identify their God-given personality, gifts, and purpose, and to see them actively invest themselves in the work of the Kingdom.  Knowing that everyone is significant leads me to understand that I am significant.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE

Really.  The Bible says this.  We believe it.

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What EFC means to me!

Love / Mend / Train / Send

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Fasting can be a mysterious concept, and you may be reading this today with several questions about what fasting is, what it does, and how to go about it.  Richard Foster says in his book, The Celebration of Discipline, “The central idea of fasting is the voluntary denial of an otherwise normal function for the sake of intense spiritual activity.”  He also goes on to describe just how many heroes of the faith fasted in the pages of Scripture:

“Abraham’s servant when he was seeking a bride for Isaac, Moses on Mt. Sinai, Hannah when she was praying for a child, David on several occasions, Elijah after his victory over Jezebel, Ezra when he was mourning over Israel’s faithlessness, Nehemiah when he was preparing the trip back to Israel, Esther when God’s people were threatened with extermination, Daniel on numerous occasions, the people of Nineveh – including the cattle (involuntarily no doubt), Jesus when he began his public ministry, Paul at the point of his conversion, the Christians at Antioch when they sent off Paul and Barnabas on their mission endeavor, Paul and others when they appointed all of the elders, and on and on it goes.”

That intense spiritual activity that Foster is referring to is most typically prayer and intercession and usually includes extended periods of time spent listening for the voice of God.  The voluntary denial of normal functions can include a variety of activities.  I’ve outlined a few for you:

  • Food:  Whether it’s a partial fast (not eating certain kinds of foods or at certain regularly scheduled times) or a complete fast (abstaining from all foods altogether), this is the most common form of fasting.  A common method for a first time fast would be to go without food from sundown to sundown the next day.  [Note:  Make sure your body is healthy enough to do this.  If you are not sure, talk to your doctor beforehand.]
  • Media:  Another version of fasting that can be highly effective at helping to direct our attention to the Lord is to give up all forms of media.  This would include television, computers, social networking, smart phones, etc.
  • Social Activities:  Many people find that withdrawing for a set amount of time from interaction with people is a wonderful way to focus on their relationship with the Lord.  These are often labeled as “spiritual retreats” and are just simply a time to remove yourself from normal conversation with those around you and get alone with God.  This often works best if you travel to a location away from home and stay in a place where you can have solitude and quiet.

The most important part of fasting is to make sure you keep God in the center of it.  It should have nothing to do with making you look spiritual and everything to do with sharpening your ears to hear God’s voice and heightening your commitment to obey what He tells you.

May God’s grace cover you, as you seek Him this week.

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All the backpacks are lined up by the front door. The first day of school clothes are waiting on their hangers. The crayons are pointed and unbroken.

My birds are asleep in the nest, ready to fly away tomorrow. And it’s this hour that a Mama kneels and prays… (Discover more about how you can pray for your children as they head back to school on Mindy’s blog, “Treasure the Ordinary.”)

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Have you ever dreamed about opening the mailbox and finding a check written to you for a large sum as an inheritance from some distant, never-met relative?  How about a British estate left to you by a long-lost great-uncle?

Those dreams may seem far-fetched, and probably are as far as your hopes of a mailbox treasure go.  But, you would be completely within reason to expect an inheritance of a different nature.

“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).

While most people rightly tie this verse to the handling of personal finances, it should also be applied to spiritual inheritance.  Have you ever stopped to consider what was passed down to you from previous generations in the way of Godly heritages and foundations?  What did the people who came before you pray for, sow into, and work towards that you are now reaping the benefits of in your own life?  Perhaps more importantly, what are you praying for, sowing into, and working towards in order to leave a Godly inheritance for your grandchildren?

Our Bible heroes weren’t perfect, but quite a few of them did a good job of modeling what this could look like for us.  Abraham is known as “Father Abraham” because he sowed faith into future generations by believing God, and seeing that credited to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6).  Esau sowed forgiveness of his brother into the heart of his nephew Joseph, and Joseph harvested those seeds with his own brothers a couple of decades later (Genesis 33 and 45).  King David was told by God that he could not build the temple, but he didn’t let that stop him from storing up everything needed for his son, Solomon, to do so (I Chronicles 22-29).

It’s usually pretty easy to find things that are wrong with our families; after all, they’re made up of imperfect people.  And it’s true that if generational baggage has been handed to you, you’d better go to the Lord and see those bags unpacked.  But, it’s also just as important to recognize the beautiful and the holy that God has been building in your family and learn to cooperate with Him to see that carried on to completion.  Your actions today could mean that those who follow after you get a spiritual “check in the mail.”

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Super Size, Value Size, Whata Size.  It has become the nature of American consumer that when we place an order, we want to go big with it.  We all want to get the most bang for our buck.

But, real life is much more complicated than ordering off of a fast food menu.  How do I go big on the menu of everyday living?

Jesus may not have frequented fast food establishments (though He was the originator of the super-sized happy meal), but He understood the principles that can make life much bigger and more full than the smallness we often relegate ourselves to.  In Luke 6, He tells us:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  — Luke 6:37-38 (NIV)

Jesus says you are the determining factor of the size of your life.  When you measure generously toward others, you measure generously toward yourself.

I pray you find freedom in this remarkable teaching from our Lord Jesus.  As you walk in forgiveness and generosity toward others, may it lead you to experience the fullness of life our Lord desires to pour into your lap.

May you experience the joy of a King-Sized life today!

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My apologies that the Monday Morning Review has lagged to the Tuesday Evening Review, perhaps even the Wednesday Morning Review. I hope everyone was able to satisfy their Monday morning cravings in other ways.

If you missed Sunday morning, I want to echo Pastor Loran’s advice to find a Haiti mission team member or members and pick their brains. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The testimonies and reports shared during Sunday’s services were absolutely incredible. I want to take a moment to thank all of the Haiti team members for all their hard work, not just during the mission trip, but also in the fund raising and other preparations in the months leading up to the trip. Also, thank you to all of the EFC members who helped to make the trip possible. And last, but certainly not least, to the other Pastor Loran for putting together such an awesome team and trip. I know lives were changed in Haiti and right here in Sweetwater.

Podcast

I don’t know if the Haiti testimonies and/or Pastor Loran’s sermon will be available in this week’s podcast, but if it is, you can click here to listen.

On the Radar

EFC Volleyball @ Sonic.  Wednesday, July 27, come join us at Sonic for food, fun and volleyball from 7-9pm.

Kids School of Worship (Jammin’ with Jesus) is right around the corner. Sunday, July 31-Wednesday, August 3. The theme this year is “Fruits of the Spirit,” and we still need volunteers to help out with supplies, snacks and manpower. For more information or to volunteer, contact Pastor Lolo.

EFC Fantasy Football League. Yes, it’s that time of year again, and if you missed out last year on the First Annual EFC Fantasy Football League, now’s your chance to get in on all the fun. You can contact league commissioner Curtis Ward to find out how to play.

Discipleship Training: How to Study the Bible. Coming August 7 & 14, 6pm at EFC.

Mother’s Day Out information is available online!  Emmanuel Fellowship Church is excited to host a Mother’s Day Out program beginning Fall 2011 for children ages 1-5.  There are only a few spaces remaining for the Fall semester.  More information and downloadable registration forms are available by clicking HERE.

Links

Follow EFC on facebook. If you don’t already, you’re missing out on the daily EFC dish.

In keeping with the Discipleship Training theme How to Study the Bible, here are a few very helpful online Bible tools:

And, as always, a shamless plug for my very own Bible blog, Beauty of the Bible.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

    •  “Friend of God” by Israel Houghton
    • “You’ll Come” by Hillsong United
    • “Higher” by Worth Dying For
  • “Saviour King” Hillsong

 Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, July 24, we continue our summer sermon series entitled, “Prayers that Shook the World,” with Jim Cargile.

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There is a special place in God’s heart for widows.  Widows, orphans, and foreigners represent a vulnerable demographic of both ancient and modern culture.  Without a steady source of income or strong representation in business and legal affairs, they can easily find themselves exploited.

It is interesting that over and again God chooses the vulnerability of widows to demonstrate the principles of His kingdom.  Throughout the lineage of Jesus, we see widows taking their place in God’s unfolding story of redemption through the lives of women such as Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheeba, and even Mary.

It is a widow who provides for the prophet Elijah.  It is a widow who recognizes Jesus as Messiah when He is presented in the temple and only eight days old.  It is a widow who is commended by Jesus for her generosity when she offers her two mites.  And it is the story of a persistent widow Jesus uses to teach his disciples to always pray and not give up.

There are powerful lessons to be learned from those who would appear to be helpless among us.  Little is much when it is held in faith-filled hands.

The following is a collection of sixteen verses in the Bible that tell us of God’s heart for widows.

  1. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan.  Exodus 22:22 (NIV)
  2. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.  Deuteronomy 10:18 (NIV)
  3. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  Deuteronomy 24:19 (NIV)
  4. Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow. Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”  Deuteronomy 27:19 (NIV)
  5. Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.  1 Kings 17:9 (NIV)
  6. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  Psalm 68:5 (NIV)
  7. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.  Psalm 146:9 (NIV)
  8. The Lord tears down the proud man’s house, but he keeps the widow’s boundaries intact.  Proverbs 15:25 (NIV)
  9. …learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.  Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)
  10. Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives.  Your widows too can trust in me.  Jeremiah 49:11 (NIV)
  11. Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.  Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44 (NIV)
  12. There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.  Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)
  13. Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.  As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.  When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”  Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  Luke 7:11-15 (NIV)
  14. Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’  “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!’ ” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  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?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”  Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
  15. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 1 Timothy 5:3 (NIV)
  16. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27 (NIV)

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