Thursday, March 26, 2015

Continuing the simple life...

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

Have you ever been on a vacation and found yourself enjoying it so much that you wished it would not have to end? That’s how I feel every time we get to go to Aptos/Sea Cliff Beach. I could sit for hours and watch the waves, smell the ocean fragrance, feel the cool air on my skin, listen to the seagulls and shout as the dolphins make their appearance. Do you get the picture?

Well, that’s how I am feeling about our Simplify series. On Monday evening, it was really sweet to sit with my Community Group and listen as people were reflecting on the series and the changes they were making in their lives as a result. It’s been super satisfying and exciting for me to be part of what God is doing in the lives of so many as I share how He is transforming me.

I want to suggest that it doesn’t have to end. Even though we’re going to move on to another series after Easter, we can all practice the things we’ve learned as we step back into a different reality. Much like coming home from vacation to a non-vacation reality. I will be praying for all of us that we will realize that Jesus’ offer to come to Him – come and be – is an offer without an expiration date. He wants us to be in relationship with Him so that when we serve, we serve out of an abundance of His Spirit.

On Sunday we conclude the series by talking about a huge consequence of believing we are in charge of the outcomes of our lives – worry and anxiety. We will end by collectively agreeing to let go of our need for control by truly trusting that God’s way is not just the best way to live, it’s the only wise choice to make in order to live a simplified life.

Seeking a simpler way to respond to life,

Saturday Prayer Focus: TCC Mexico Mission Team and Agua Viva Ministries, Ensenada Mexico. Stephanie Murray, the team leader, has asked us to: Pray for unity on the team as they accept and encourage each other. Pray for many in Mexico to establish a relationship with Jesus. Pray for a restored and refreshed spiritual passion for the Mexican youth. Pray for safety and good health for everyone involved.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ruthlessly eliminating hurry

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

Simplifying life will not happen without ruthlessly eliminating hurry and busyness from our lives. I remember hearing Dallas Willard’s words when asked one time about how a person could take care of his soul in a world that was fast-paced, full and often times frantic. Dallas responded by saying, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” Easier said than done.

Our Simplify series caused me some frustration this week. I’ve been working on the concept and vision of a simplified life now for quite some time, and I realized two things recently. First, if I’m going to simplify my life, it’s going to take effort on my part. Second, if I’m going to simplify my life, it’s going to take time. It won’t happen overnight. It will take time and determination if I’m going to be able to initiate and carry out a strategy to simplify my life into place. It will take time to see the fruit.

What I realized is that I need to learn to celebrate the steps on the journey that I take as I move toward the goal. It may take much longer to reach the goal than I had ever imagined. So, I need to be ready to give myself the needed grace and mercy when I appear to fail. My trajectory is toward simplification even though my current reality may still be extremely full and even chaotic.

Therefore, I’m even more committed to living in the Cycle of Grace (watch the service from March 1, 2015) and to overcoming busyness in my life (watch the service from March 8, 2015). I am seeking more and more to live for an audience of one! I am grateful to God that He is patient with me.

This Sunday, I will talk more about how we maintain a life that is full and yet still simple. This message is foundational to knowing how to live with power, purpose and potential. In fact, I would say, it will probably be one of the top 10 messages of my 23-year pastoral career – you may think otherwise, but I’m sticking to my story.

Seeking a simpler way to respond to life,

Saturday Prayer Focus: Anew Day. Pray for the folks over at Anew Day who are making sure that those who experience emotional pain and feel alone or suicidal have a safe, inexpensive Bible-based resource where they can turn. Pray for Anew Day as they launch their new venture called Anew Place. Anew Place is a resource center and thrift store. It’s a way to raise money, awareness and offer classes and training.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Serve Our Community" coming April 25! Mark your calendar!

Twin Cities Church has always been committed to following Jesus, to becoming LIKE Jesus, and to sharing Jesus with others in as many ways as possible. Matthew 20:28a says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others,” and we have found that serving our community is a way to both BE like Jesus and SHARE Jesus with our world! It’s a way to show that Twin Cities Cares!

These “marching orders” are launching us into an exciting “Serve Our Community” event this spring, where we are planning to go out into our community and make a difference through serving! We are connecting with some of our local schools and community partners to discover some significant ways that we can be the hands and feet of Jesus in serving them. What a great picture: Putting hundreds of TCC people out into the community all at the same time, selflessly working to help local organizations do what they do BETTER!

We are targeting Saturday morning, April 25, as our “Serve Our Community” day, and we need each and every TCC person, group, and family to see how they can get involved. Some projects will be small, some much larger. Some will involve heavy labor, others will be much “lighter duty.” Some projects will need some people to be skilled in certain areas, while others will simply be looking for warm bodies with willing hearts. All that to say: There is a place for YOU!!

More details will be released as we get closer to April 25, but please plan on being a part of this project. So put it on your calendar, and get ready to engage with the rest of TCC as we “Serve Our Community!”

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Eliminating the word "busy"

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I knew this series would be good for me, but I failed to anticipate how much our messages about simplifying life would resonate with so many others. I did get a hint as I prepared last week and Googled “busyness” that it would be a big deal simply by how many articles and blogs have been written on the subject. If you missed Sunday, please watch the service now – go ahead, you’re not too busy!

One thing I had to cut out of my message because I had a time constraint is the suggestion to eliminate the word “busy” from your vocabulary. I challenged our staff to do that a couple of years ago, and I’ve seen it make a huge difference. Eliminating the “busy” from your vocabulary actually lowers your stress. It’s interesting how this label actually increases a person’s sense of being too busy. Eliminating “busy” from your vocabulary also makes you more approachable to others.

I read about a study that showed that when we do an analysis of our lives, most people discover that they are not as busy as they imagine themselves to be. We work ourselves into a scarcity frenzy by our overuse of the word busy. We end up believing the story and feeling the results even when our lives are just fine.

Here’s a list of words I copied from an article on “Ten Words to Use Instead of Busy.” Here’s her list: 1. Intentionally Full 2. Abundant 3. Rich 4. Engaged 5. Wholehearted 6. Captivated 7. Productive 8. Resplendent 9. Dynamic 10. Excited. Why don’t you work to make a switch and see what a difference a word can make!

This week, we’re going to talk about simplifying our consumption of stuff which includes the management of our finances. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for each of us as we gather together and His Holy Spirit draws us to the love of Jesus.

Longing for a simplified life,

Saturday Prayer Focus: Pray for Pastors Brian and Cindy Johnson as they seek to build into our community through the ministries of Bethel Church. Ask God to give them unity, stability and the resources they need to fulfill God’s vision.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Refusing to live in a cycle of works

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I thought it would be good to go over some of what we talked about on Sunday based upon some of the comments I received. First, thanks for being so open and vulnerable about your own struggles with acceptance and approval. Second, remember what we talked about as we began our Simplify series. Everyone seemed to resonate with the distinction between the cycles of works and grace. You can download the Message Notes to see the diagrams.

Cycle of Works
I strive to achieve
I feel some significance
I gain temporary strength
I feel a temporary sense of acceptance which does not last, and I start over to achieve
I am overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious

Cycle of Grace
I am accepted by God – just as I am
I receive strength to sustain myself
I discover true and lasting significance
I achieve things that serve others out of a response to grace rather than duty
I am restful, joyful and full of energy for life

I am deeply grateful to others including Bill Gaultiere,, and John Ortberg, for help in grasping these two cycles. A good book that has one chapter on the cycle of grace is Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.

As we seek to live out the words of Jesus, I am praying for you that you will refuse to live in a cycle that is all about seeking approval and acceptance. Jesus calls to you, “Come to Me, all of you, who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Will you read those words again? Picture Jesus with a loving smile on His face inviting you to receive His acceptance and love, offering you His strength and sustenance, providing you a sense of significance and calling, eager to achieve His will with you. What a restful way to live.

This week, we’re going to talk about the solution to an epidemic in our culture – Busyness. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for each of us as we gather and His Holy Spirit draws us to the love of Jesus.

Longing for a simplified life,

Saturday Prayer Focus: Calvary Bible Church. Let’s pray for Scott Gallagher and our friends at Calvary Bible that they would sense God’s presence and leading as they continue to equip the saints for ministry. Pray for unity of vision, stamina of heart and attitudes like Jesus as they love one another. They will be engaging in a new series of classes to help grow spiritual maturity. Pray for great attendance and application of these lessons.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A story of prayer and impact

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I am so excited to celebrate Friend Day on Sunday. One of the action points from last week’s message concerning our mission to lead as many people as possible into a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ is that we would winsomely invite people to attend our church. I am eager to hear how the invitations you’ve extended to your friends are going. Everything I read today still indicates that people would be willing to try church – if someone would just invite them. I am praying that you will be the one who reaches out and initiates that gracious invitation.

Two weeks ago, I heard a story that may inspire you. The sister of a woman in our church died and at her memorial service the story was told of how her name was written on the floor of our church before we put our carpet in. Just to let you know what that means – we had a special preview tour of our building before we moved in and at the end of the tour, we had an opportunity write names of family members and friends who didn’t know Jesus with prayers that they would come to experience Jesus and say “YES” to Him. Well, this woman wrote her sister’s name on our floor and then a few years later her sister said “YES” to Jesus.

After the service, the woman who attends our church said to the sister’s daughter, “Your name is written there as well, and I’m praying for you.” Folks God uses us as part of His family to help people see and know Jesus. Remember, there is no impact without contact. I am praying for all the friends and family members who are receiving their winsomely delivered invite from you.

Sunday is also our 23rd anniversary. I am still overwhelmed with joy at how God has used the dream of six families to build a church where people could experience His love and grow to become like Jesus. I will start a new series on Sunday called Simplify. Sunday’s message will lay the groundwork for a life of joy and peace as we learn to live in the “easy yoke” of Jesus.

Longing for a simple life,

Saturday Prayer Focus: Peace Lutheran Church, Grass Valley. Please pray for Tom Miller and the people of Peace Lutheran as they continue to share the love of Jesus through our community. Pray for them as they grieve the loss of longtime member and accompanist, Paul Perry. Paul Perry was a pillar in our community through his service with Music in the Mountains as well as his willingness to share his heart for music with his Peace Lutheran family.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This is the key to our growth

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

The concept of engagement is so critical to our development as Followers of Jesus. Mark Hadley presented it so clearly on Sunday as he talked about the Pathway or Journey to a Transformed Life. Reality says that we only move forward by action. Not to act is to move backward and atrophy.
Mark clearly and creatively taught Dallas Willard’s VIM model of life transformation.

V = Vision: living as Jesus lived as His follower or apprentice
I must focus on the goal of growth

I = Intention: the decision to take steps toward that vision                       
I must intend to grow

M = Means: the method or catalysts that will lead to transformation
I must train if I’m going to grow

Mark also talked about evaluating where we are on a continuum so that we can have perspective on where we are in our progress of spiritual transformation. The goal is total surrender to Christ in every area of life. That is going to take work and effort. It is going to require empowerment from God and encouragement from others. This is not a journey we will walk alone. If you missed Sunday, please watch the service soon.

This Sunday morning we’re going to focus our attention on how we can engage in what God is doing in our church. I know our church is far from perfect, but we’re listening to God and following His lead as He uses us to lead as many people as possible into a growing and transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. I am going to unpack some of what that means this week. I hope you’ll be there so that you can be informed and invested in what God is doing.

Engaging with you,

Saturday Prayer Focus: Persecuted Christians around the world. I’m sure you read about the deaths of 21 Coptic Christians at the hands of the terrorists called ISIS last week. Let’s pray for protection and for a worldwide response to the targeted killing and persecution against those who follow Jesus. Pray for protection of Christians and others who disagree with these extremists. Also, please pray for those who have been deceived by ISIS ideology.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church – Grass Valley. Please pray for Seth Kellerman and the Emmanuel Family as they seek to love our community and share the love of Christ. They asked us to pray “That the Lord opens our eyes to brokenness in the deep places and that we return to Him and when we return may we feel the grace of God in the blood of Christ wash us clean.”