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.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I'm still celebrating...

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

Wow! I was so thrilled with God’s movement and our involvement in last Sunday’s services. On Sunday morning we walked through the meaning and experience of Communion. Then on Sunday evening we sang to our great God and heard three stories of how God used our church to do an amazing work of healing, redemption and transformation. As I walked to my car, I was emotionally moved by God’s love. If you missed either or both services, please log on now and watch or listen.

I was bummed at myself after Sunday evening’s service that, as we were celebrating victories in our church, I forgot to mention our inspired emphasis on prayer. God continues to move as a direct result of His people earnestly going before Him in humble prayer. Our prayer renewal resulted in the beautiful Prayer Garden, a prayer service and the opportunity for people to pray each Sunday at 8:00am here at the church.

One of the stories of life-change we heard on Sunday spoke of how a retreat was a catalyst in that person’s spiritual and relational connection. Retreats are a great time to get away from the normal routines of life and experience God’s grace and presence in a fresh way. Our Spring Getaway for women is coming soon. Ladies, I can’t recommend this more highly. Join other women from TCC and be inspired together. Make sure to sign up at church on Sunday or online.

This Sunday morning we’re going to focus our attention on our personal spiritual growth and transformation. God has promised us that He’ll meet us as we practice certain spiritual disciplines. Those disciplines then lead to steps of trust and growth. We’ll take a look at a spiritual growth plan that will help you discern where you are in your transformation to become like Jesus.

Engaging with you,

Saturday Prayer Focus: First Baptist Church, Grass Valley. Please pray for Mark Rindels, Mark Nunn and the rest of the folks over at First Baptist that they will represent Jesus and His love with passion. Pray for empowered ministry and wisdom as they seek to reach out to our community. Let’s pray for unity, inspiration and perseverance.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Loving with abandon

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I wanted to jump up and shout when John used this phrase in his message Sunday. “There is no impact without contact.” We live in a culture that is hungry for the love Jesus offers and yet most people in culture believe that the church is judgmental, hate-filled and out of touch. That’s why most people who discuss the role of the church in today’s world would agree that we need to lead with love, lean into truth and love with abandon if we are going to impact the world. If you missed John’s message, Engage Culture, please watch or listen to it soon.

It’s critical that we ask God for courage and wisdom and then engage culture with Him. As we talk about our own engagement in this series, it’s essential that we come to see ourselves as Christ’s ambassadors and representatives to our world. Our mission is clarified in this statement I heard quite a few years ago: people won’t care about what you know until they know how much you care. Our Friend Day is March 1. Will you continue praying for the person or people you want to invite to join you that day? I’ll be starting a new series called “Simplify” that I’m so excited to share.

On Sunday morning we’re going to experience Communion – the Lord’s Supper together. I want to encourage you to spend a little time between now and then asking God to prepare you to meet with Him in a dynamic encounter as we commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus together.

I hope you’ll plan to join us this Sunday evening as we celebrate some of the life-transformation God has allowed us to experience in 2014. We have a fun and celebrative evening planned that everyone will find meaningful.

Engaging with you,

Saturday Prayer Focus: First Baptist Church, Nevada City. Please pray for Roland Meyer and the folks of First Baptist that they will represent Jesus and His love with passion. Pray for empowered ministry and wisdom as they seek to reach out to their neighbors.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Living in awe

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

Our “Engage” series comes out of a time of seeking God about His direction for our church. Ultimately, what we’ve heard is that He wants our church to be about His business. He isn’t necessarily calling us to be busy as much as He is calling us to be purposefully engaged. The past two weeks we’ve learned God’s plan for His church. We are all a necessary part of the organism called church. Notice that I said, “organism.”

A church is a living organism made up of members who are alive in Christ. As a person comes to know Jesus, He makes them fully alive. I remember my friend Scott Owens started a church a few years ago in San Francisco called Fully Alive after that truth.

Folks, I wish we could all come to the place of faith where we realize this truth. Knowing Jesus has made us new, set us free, and called us to serve Him is the most liberating knowledge we can have. The past two weeks we’ve been encouraged to Engage in Community and to Engage in Calling. These messages are critical for us to realize our full potential in Christ. If you missed them please watch them soon.

The huge distinction I want to make is this: God is not giving us life and unity and community and meaning just so that we can be self-actualized. No. Instead, He’s calling us to a place where we realize our blessings in Christ were given to us so that we could be empowered even more to shine for Him.

On Sunday, we’ll be talking about how to “Engage Culture.” When we come to church each week and hear from God, the experience is not just for us and our growth. What happens is that as God works in us, we are so inspired and live with such awe that everywhere we go we want to influence others to know Jesus and show His love to our world.

Engaging with you,

Saturday Prayer Focus: Penn Valley Community Church. On September 13, 2014, the church was engulfed in flames and completely lost. We want to continue to pray for Pastor David Hagey and the church as they look to rebuild and move into the future fully equipped for God’s calling on them. Let’s pray that there will be unity and willingness as they pursue the next steps in their journey.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Praying for transformation

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

Last summer our pastoral team spent some time together praying, listening to God and talking about our church and our responsibility to lead our church to fulfill its mission to lead as many people as possible into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. At the end of that time away, we sensed God giving us a clear direction – to encourage His people to engage in their individual piece of what God is doing in us and to engage corporately in what God is doing through our church.

Folks, you’ve heard me say again and again over the years that Jesus Christ and His church are the hope of the world. If we truly believe that, then, honestly, it really should be observable in our actions. One action of engagement that surprises me – and it’s not just Twin Cities – is how many people attend church so irregularly. In fact, the latest study shows that twice, and in some cases once a month, is considered “regular” by many who claim to be followers of Jesus.

I just don’t think that is enough. On Wednesday evening, Kim and I were able to share with a group of young families how we kept Christ at the center of our home. Next to our personal devotion, church involvement was a strong component of our vision for our family and how to raise them to know Jesus. As you know, we even go to church while on vacation. I wanted them to see that we didn’t just attend church because we had to, (our jobs), but we attend church because we want to.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” Church involvement will help you grow in faith, trust, peace, joy, humility and a host of other attributes the Bible says are to be evident in those who know Jesus. On Sunday, we’ll look at the life of engagement God offers those who are “called” by Him. I can’t begin to tell you how relevant and integral the words of Paul will be to our transformation.

Engaging with you,

Saturday Prayer Focus: Courage Worldwide and the premier screening of the documentary, “In Plain Sight,” is at TCC on January 29. We recently learned that the first two girls to go through their program are transitioning out of the Rocklin Courage House into permanent Courage Homes. We’ve been asked to pray for that transition and for the selection of the two new girls who will be able to be accepted at Courage House.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I am so proud of our church!

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I’ve been engaged in praying for you this week, and it’s been so inspiring. As I told you on Sunday, I am so proud of our church. When I wrote a letter that will be included in our annual giving and contribution statements, I was moved to tears in my gratitude for your faith and trust in God that shows itself in your generosity and love for people. I mentioned to the 10:45 service on Sunday that you might read each line of the section of the letter listing the numbers of people we helped or assisted in 2014. Will you do that? You’ll discover that our church is making a huge impact. Each number represents a life and possibly even a home that our church touched with the love of Jesus last year.

On Sunday, I presented our 2015 Church Prayer modeled for us by the Apostle Paul and recorded in Ephesians 1. Hopefully you can watch the service soon if you weren’t able to be there. I received some amazing feedback, and I’m already seeing spiritual fruit as I’ve prayed each day this week. I can’t wait for Saturday when I get to pray for the Christ-based Ministry Partner of the week. Look at the end of this email for this week’s Saturday prayer focus.

I was so bummed on Sunday when I realized that I had forgotten to mention two ways you can jump-start your prayer engagement. First, the Prayer Garden is now officially completed. You can stop by and pray anytime day or night. You can even reserve it for your group if you want to pray with others. Where is the Prayer Garden? It’s outside off the southwest corner of our building (think Children’s wing) next to the parking lot. Stop by and spend a few moments of silence with God. Second, the Prayer Trail signs have been changed to reflect our 2015 Prayer. You can come and walk around our building any time you want and be inspired to pray.

This week we’ll be focusing on Engaging Together in Community. Our Groups Team has done a superb job this winter of giving us even more groups with even more studies to help you engage in your spiritual growth. I hope you’ll be here on Sunday to hear how engagement in a group can stimulate your spiritual growth and development.

Engaged with you,

Saturday Prayer Focus: LivingWell Medical Clinic and their Sanctity of Life emphasis. WE can celebrate that 143 women chose to sustain their pregnancies in 2014 after counseling with LivingWell. Let’s pray that God uses this community ministry partner in even greater ways in 2015.