Thursday, December 18, 2014

I wish you could have been here yesterday...

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I was deeply moved by your generosity AGAIN concerning stockings for At-Risk Students. I hate to say this because 2nd service folks will feel left out, but 1st service folks ended up filling 72 stockings. I wish you could have been here at church yesterday as 60 high school age kids received those stockings, a home cooked meal, played games and best of all – laughed. From what we have heard, this might be the only “normal” Christmas event these kids will experience. Many won’t even receive presents. So, our gift was a tangible way of showing them that someone cares. Twin Cities Cares, and as we do, they can begin to grasp the fact that God does, too.

Here’s another really cool thing. Because you gave extra stockings we are able to do a similar Christmas party for 25 students who are part of a new continuing education program for kids 18–25 who, by their own choice, want to get the diploma or vocational training that would allow them to become positive contributors in society as productive citizens. This is a new ministry we’ve just become involved with over at John Muir Charter School. We are currently providing lunch there three days per week. I’d love to see more of you get involved.

Today’s Union newspaper had an editorial about Courage Worldwide, and our partnership with them. What great exposure we’ve been able to garner for this awesome new ministry partner. Courage Worldwide is doing their best to educate us concerning the sexual exploitation of young girls worldwide. Their goal is to build Courage Houses where girls can find a place of healing and restoration as they leave the trap of the sex business. Our next event with Courage Worldwide is a screening of a documentary on January 29 here at Twin Cities. We’re inviting anyone in our community who wants to be involved to come and get informed.

Why is there such a spiritual surge happening in the people of our church? What’s different around here? I believe it can be attributed to the prayers of a few who felt God call them to help raise the banner of prayer in our midst. If you’d like to engage in prayer with these folks, come early on any Sunday at 8:00am and pray with them. They meet in room 136.

This week we’re going to hear the words of another of the Songs of Christmas. We’ll be looking at Mary’s Song of Trust. If you missed last Sunday, please watch or listen before you come. It will inspire you for this Christmas season.

Loving you more than I can express,


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Being a Follower of Jesus is NOT about religious duty

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

If you missed last Sunday, please go online and watch it as soon as you can. The message I shared on Sunday has become so important to me as I’ve grown in my relationship with Jesus. As I shared on Sunday, I come from a “duty” framework of Christianity that I’m working through in my life. As I continued to hit the wall in my walk with Jesus, I would most often look for something I was either NOT DOING or NEEDED TO DO MORE. What I continue to discover is this: I cannot change my heart by doing more for Jesus. My heart is changed as I do more with Jesus.

Being a Follower of Jesus is ALL about relationship, not religious duty.

I had several meaningful encounters and emails after Sunday as people were moved to evaluate their own approach to walking with Jesus. Do we love Him so much that all other affections appear comparatively as hate? Wow!

One person asked me to send them my words to our younger adults concerning this issue and what constitutes success in life. This is what I sent: “What I was basically saying as I addressed those in their 20s and 30s is that many of the gray hairs in the room would say, ‘Listen to this. It’s important. Right now in this time of your life, you will feel that everything is about getting the right degree, right job, right spouse, right place to live, right home in that place, right friends, right etc.’ It’s natural, and society fuels that – in fact, it even creates anxiety and depression in young people who can’t seem to find these “right” things. So, listen to what I’m saying because Jesus promises us that if we put Him first NOW, He will meet all our needs and even the deepest longings of our hearts. As crazy and illogical as it may seem, pursuing Him is the most important thing you can do.”

If you missed it, please watch the service so that you can hear my heart as we looked at these Outrageous words of Jesus.

This week we begin a new series on the Songs of Christmas. We’re dedicating the Christmas season to a study of the four songs written by real people who had their lives rocked by the birth of Jesus. Their songs are included in the first two chapters of the book of Luke. We’ll look and listen to the words of these songs and let them impact our lives with “atomic elbows” (from Sunday’s message).

Looking forward to being with Jesus as we celebrate His birth,


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Showing our community that Twin Cities cares

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I was so moved on Sunday by Mark’s message about releasing my grip on my stuff. I could tell from the response in the room and from the Connection Cards that many of you were as well. Jesus’ outrageous word to the rich young ruler about selling all his stuff and giving it all away was definitely piercing to me. What a challenge to stop and ask myself, “What is it that would be hard for me to give away if Jesus asked for it?” Then I realized that, in some aspect, He has already asked me to do that. It’s all wrapped up in God’s claim on my life and my willingness to see myself as a manager instead of an owner. If you weren’t here on Sunday, make sure to watch the service online. Enjoy the feature song by our band called “Too Much Stuff.”

One way we can engage in wrestling through the struggle of the holiday spirit of consumerism and spending is to participate in our annual Year-End Gift. The purpose of this gift is multi-layered. First, it inspires us to go before God and recall all of His blessings in our lives over the past twelve months. Second, it is an opportunity to go before Him and ask, “God, will You show me what I can give back to You as an expression of my gratitude?” Third, it allows our church to offset some of our expenses during the coming year so that we can continue our support for all the work we do in our community. It also allows us to strategically reach forward and improve what we get to do together as a church family.

Giving to our Year-End Gift is simple. You can give at church on Sunday with a special envelope or give online. In fact, if you haven’t used our online giving option, this would be a good time try it out. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to use our secure online giving site through Fellowship One.

I love your generous hearts, church Family. EVERY Christmas basket giving tag was picked over the past three weeks. Soon, our office corridors will be full of huge baskets as we get to bless our community through your generosity. We just found out about a need we can fill for our At-Risk Student Christmas party. They will have about fifty 16-20 year old kids show up, many who have very little or no support from home. In fact, our giving to them may be the only gift they receive for Christmas. Here’s the deal, we have one week to do this. So, will you stop by the Special Events table in the lobby on Sunday and pick up a stocking, then follow the instructions and fill it and bring it back to church on December 14 or to our office by December 15? A $20-$50 investment will go a long way to show the love of Jesus as well as show these youth that “Twin Cities Cares!” Thank you for your generous acts of tangible kindness.

This week we’re going to look at another of Jesus’ outrageous statements. It will reach right at our hearts as it clarifies just what it means to be a Follower of Jesus.

Looking forward to hearing from Jesus,


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

“Today, I am thankful for…”

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

I’ve discovered that gratitude and thankfulness are cultivated in our lives through intention and practice. Of all the attitudes we get to choose, gratitude seems to be the most beneficial. I read a study that said, “Gratitude research shows that thankfulness has the strongest link to mental health and physical well-being of any of the thirty most commonly studied personality traits.” Gratitude leads to healthy, less stressed, more social, and happier people.

On Sunday, after the offering time, I challenged us to be “gratitude givers” - to be people who change the atmosphere through our words of thanks. The idea came to me when I read a Facebook post from a woman who was shopping last week and said, “No excuse me or thank you out there today. Only blank stares.” Folks, as we enter into the holiday season which begins with a day set aside to express thanks for what we have and ends with songs of joy over the greatest gift we could ever receive, let’s make sure our attitude and actions match the reason we celebrate.

Gratitude is spawned as we become fully aware of God’s presence and goodness. How much do you focus on the fact that God is always there and working out His plan for your best?

Gratitude grows as I humbly realize that I really don’t deserve anything. I am not entitled. Instead, I am humbled to have what I have. When I feel I am entitled, my speech is littered with grumbling, but when I am content with what I have, my speech is flowered with gratitude.

Gratitude is an expression of blessing as a person reflects on God’s presence and provision. I know I am blessed beyond belief. My wife, kids, family, friends, church, purpose, mission, calling, health, home and faith are all gifts given to me by our generous and good God. I am one blessed and thankful man. So, here’s a discipline to practice this holiday season. When someone asks you how you are doing, answer this way: “Today, I am thankful for…” Let’s be people who change the atmosphere wherever we go by expressing our gratitude for all God has done.

This week we’re going to look at another of Jesus’ outrageous statements. It’s all about how to handle our stuff. It will challenge all of us.

Looking forward to hearing from Jesus,


Thursday, November 20, 2014

A chance to make a real difference!

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

Tuesday night Jenny Williamson, of Courage Worldwide, gave a presentation that was absolutely riveting. I am so thrilled God has led us to pursue a partnership with this life-saving organization. Courage Worldwide has a vision to establish Courage Houses all over the world. Courage House is a safe place where girls and women who are involved in the sex trade or sex trafficking, can come for healing and restoration. Sex trafficking is one of the biggest criminal activities in our world, and it even impacts us here in Nevada County. We can help fight this battle when we link arms with Courage Worldwide.

You’ll hear more in the coming months about how you can participate. For now, we can pray. Please pray for the Courage Worldwide team, the girls they have already rescued, their needs for more Courage Homes, and for how we can be involved.

Please note that our Thanksgiving Holiday serving opportunity is to join in with what Interfaith Food Ministry is doing to feed our community. If you want to know more, please go online to http://www.interfaithfoodministry.org and click on the link about sponsoring a family.

We have an opportunity to care for people in our church and community who are facing the holiday season while in the season of grief over the loss of a loved one. Our Grief Care Team is offering a FREE seminar called, “Surviving The Holidays.” This caring seminar will help you not only survive the holidays, but find new strength and healing as well as provide tools to guide you to move forward in your daily walk through the pain of grief.

I guess the impact our Outrageous Stuff Jesus Said series is having in my life, as well as hundreds of others, shouldn’t surprise me. God continues to lead us deeper into His Word with each series of messages. Last week as John walked us through Jesus’ words concerning the danger to our souls of giving in to temptation was truly life-changing. Remember this: It’s worth your effort to do everything you can so that nothing gets between you and God. Be radical in your determination and be accountable in your plan.

This week we’re going to look at another of Jesus’ outrageous statements. In fact, it’s so outrageous that I am struggling with how I am going to communicate it on Sunday. Will you say a prayer for me as I prepare?

Looking forward to hearing from Jesus,


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Your amazing generosity!

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

You are amazing in your generosity. Last week during our benevolence offering you gave $4500 to help others who are in dire financial predicaments. The beauty of your giving is that our church gets to give people hope. You might be surprised at how many people still struggle financially in our community with our stagnant economy and lack of employment opportunities.

Just to let you know how our benevolence works, we have a thorough application and approval process. As hard as it is to say, “no,” we regularly do so as we seek to be good stewards of the resources God has given us. Your generosity allows us to say, “yes,” more often. You may never know how much this can do to show a person that God really does care. We’ll let you know the next time we’re going to receive a benevolence offering.

As some of you are aware, we are in the process of solidifying our partnership with Courage Worldwide – this is the ministry dedicated to freeing and redeeming girls who are victims of the sex slave trade. Jenny Williamson, founder of Courage Worldwide, will be here on Tuesday, November 18, at 7:00pm for an information meeting to share the magnitude of this issue and how we can help. Please invite anyone you know who might have a passion to be involved in helping set girls free from the sex trade.

We have an opportunity to care for people in our church and community who are facing the holiday season while in the season of grief over the loss of a loved one. Our Grief Care Team is offering a seminar called, “Surviving The Holidays.” This caring seminar will help you not only survive the holidays, but find new strength and healing as well as provide tools to guide you to move forward in your daily walk through the pain of grief.

We continue our series this week by looking at more Outrageous Stuff Jesus Said. Our message this week is shocking and yet so clearly loving. We’ll be talking about how to restrain our temptations to act outside of God’s expressed will concerning our behaviors.

Looking forward to hearing from Jesus,


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wow! Great Job Church!

Hey Friends and Family of TCC,

Wow!!! I am so proud of you and the way we all pitched in together to make FFF such a wonderful experience for our community. I’ve heard so many positive stories from people who were able to extend even more invitations because we offered a safe and dry alternative. Doing the event indoors also created a heightened sense of excitement and made FFF fresh in so many ways.

Special kudos go out to John, Angel and the entire FFF team. You guys remind me how committed our people are to keeping our focus outward to those in our community who have yet to say “Yes” to Jesus. By moving the event indoors we took off some of the boundaries on the event and how we will operate in coming years. The rain turned out to be God’s blessing in so many ways.

If you’re like me, you are fascinated by the situation in the Middle East – especially concerning Israel, Islam and the persecution of Christians. If so, you’ll want to be aware of a seminar at William Jessup University in Rocklin on November 8. If that date doesn’t work, there is also a seminar at Combie Bible Church in LOP on November 9 from 3:00–5:30pm. Here’s the contact information: www.icejusa.org/events or (800) 379-3897.

As many of you are aware, we are in the process of solidifying our partnership with Courage Worldwide – this is the ministry dedicated to freeing and redeeming girls who are victims of the sex slave trade. Jenny Williamson, founder of Courage Worldwide, will be here on Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00pm for an information meeting to share the magnitude of this issue and how we can help. Please invite anyone you know who might have a passion to be involved in helping set girls free from the sex trade.

We continue our series this week by looking at more Outrageous Stuff Jesus Said. Our message will be about judging others. You’ve more than likely heard it said that it goes against the teachings of the Bible to judge. I think you’ll be surprised at what Jesus actually said. It’s outrageous.

Sunday is also our benevolence offering day. We’ve had more requests lately than we can possibly help. Will you consider giving this weekend to help people bridge the gap between their financial reality and their financial need?

Looking forward to hearing from Jesus,