Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Church Planting Vision '08-

Our goal as a church is to help plant 25 churches over the next 5 years as we do our part in fulfilling the great commission of Jesus Christ! The first church that we have partnered with to help plant is Epic Church in Manayunk, Pa. My good friend Kent & Tiffany Jacobs (and the team from Epic) are doing an incredible job at beginning to impact their community with the message of Jesus Christ! Recently, we were able to give $5,000 to Epic to help them continue this vital ministry in the Philadelphia region. A special thanks to the whole church family at Freedom Life for their generosity and belief in the mission of Jesus Christ! We will continue to reach people in our back yard and around the world! Continue to pray for Epic church! To learn more about them, go to www.epicwired.net.




Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry '2nd Day After' Christmas!



Here is a picture from our Christmas morning! Christmas morning has always been a favorite time for me. I'm sure it started when I was a little kid and it was based upon the expectation of tearing into new gifts. I have always loved the way the presents looked underneath the Christmas tree when you would walk into the living room. It was always & still is a magical experience! Unfortunately, like the picture above, not all of Christmas day is magical. Kid's fighting getting their picture done, kid's fighting one another and so on... You get the picture! Even in the midst of a perfect day, all is not perfect. It reminds me of my life. I love my Jesus, my family and everything that I do, but all is not perfect. I guess a great reminder for us is that we can focus on moments that go wrong in our lives or we can take a snapshot of those that go right. We can choose what memories to replay in our minds and hearts. As we head full throttle into a new year, take a moment and think back over this last year. Think about every good and perfect gift that comes down from our heavenly Father. Re-experience those magical moments from this last year where God loved you, blessed you & took care of you. Put Jesus back into the center of everything, just like Christmas morning!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tolerance or Intolerant?

A read this great post from my former Pastor's son, whose name is Jon Decker. Jon leads a successful band called, 'The Mint,' and has a beautiful wife and baby. I could write pages of about this topic, but I thought Jon did a great job bringing it all together. For the complete post, visit www.jonathandecker.wordpress.com.

Tolerance: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

Tolerance is a huge buzzword for my generation, especially used by limp wristed, politically correct young people when someone has an opinion different from their own.

For the new wave of social justice Christians tolerance is used to muddy doctrine, in the name of not offending someone with a different set of beliefs. For the generation Y liberal, tolerance is applied to a grab bag of behavior and preference choices that everyone should have to agree with. It seems right now there is a slight uproar over Rick Warren praying at the inaguration. People call him “intolerant” because he actually believes what the bible says, which is becoming more rare for peole in the public eye.

I think he sets a great example of speaking truth in love. At no time has he said anything derogatory about anyone, except state his beliefs. Where is the tolerance for that?

Most disgusting was the interview I watched last night with Ann Curry. The sickness of her bias was so strong I nearly vomited on my televison. I wonder if she would talk to one of the nations Muslim leaders like that? Or the Dali Llama in all of his “holiness”? I would guess not. See my friends, it’s “cool” to be tolerant of everything else, besides Christianity. We use words like “reconciliation” to promote ecumenical-ism, if that’s a word, which in turn distorts our faith. Christianity in an of itself is intolerant by today’s standards. We believe in One God, and that the only path to salvation is through his son, Jesus.

I love honest dialouge, and I have friends of many faiths and sexual orientation, and enjoy talking with them. God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves regardless of religion or whom they sleep with. The danger is watering down our faith to make it culturally acceptable, because it won’t be. We need to love without faltering in our beliefs at the risk of being called intolerant."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bummer!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2nd Service Has Been Cancelled!

Because of the ice, freezing temperatures, snow, an adventuresome parking lot & unchanging forecast we are forced to cancel our 2nd service as well! Everyone's safety is to important to take the risk. Enjoy the snow day!

First Service Is Cancelled

For everyone planning on making the trek over the hills and through the woods this morning to gather with the church family, you will need to wait. We have to cancel our 9 a.m. service and we will make the call in regards to the second service @ 8:30 a.m. so stay tuned!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How Do I Balance Work & Family?

This is a great article about an extremely important topic. My number 1 struggle is balancing family and work. Dr. Chapman offers some critical advice. Check it out!

Balancing Work and Family

Is it possible that we may be working so hard to support our families financially that we end up losing our families? Then money becomes empty compensation. This week we’ll talk about the issue of money and marriage.

What is most important in life? If we are given stark choices, the issue becomes clear. If someone offered you one million dollars for your child or your spouse, would you take it? Any sensible parent or spouse would say, “No”. But do we not sell our families for much less when we spend all of our energy working for money and have no time left to enjoy our relationships?.

Balanace
Work is a noble endeavor. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, neither should he eat. But can we work too much? Is vocational success worth losing a marriage? The Scriptures teach that life’s meaning is not found in things, but in relationships. It is found first in a relationship with God, and then with family and others.

Family relationships are always in process. If we want to keep our marriages alive, our families healthy, then we must find ways of balancing work and family. Thousands of men and women are finding that a growing marriage and a healthy family requires readjusting schedules from time to time. The key question is, “How does my work affect my marriage and family?” Once I answer that question, I will know if I need to change my work patterns.

Integration & Time Management
The answer is not always less work. Sometimes it is integrating the family into my work. For example, does your work allow the opportunity for you and your spouse to have lunch together from time to time? Such lunches can be an oasis in the midst of a dry day.

If your work requires travel, could you take your spouse or one of your children with you? This allows a mini-vacation which you might not otherwise be able to afford. It also exposes your family to your vocation and gives them a little more appreciation for what you do.

Less work and more time at home is not necessarily the answer. Better use of time at home may make all the difference. Do something different tonight with your spouse or with a child. Get out of the routine. Minimize the television and maximize activity and conversation. Keep your marriage alive and growing.

Excerpt taken from Dr. Gary Chapman on the Marriage You've Always Wanted by Dr. Gary Chapman. To find out more about Gary Chapman's resources, visit www.fivelovelanguages.com.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The diff between Goliath & Bathsheba

I read a great blog today that I wanted to share with you. Here it is...

By Gina McClain (courtesy of www.swerve.lifechurch.tv)
The diff between Goliath and Bathsheba
Both of these stories are great examples of God’s deliverance in David’s life. But one was orchestrated by God, while the other was not.
We all have deliverance stories where Jesus got our attention, we responded and our lives were changed for eternity. But often I cringe when I listen to someone attempt to explain how God brought them to a point of desperation so they would finally say ‘Yes’ to Him. This doesn’t make sense to me.
Sometimes we can bring too much glory to the circumstances that brought about our obedience. We celebrate the trap we managed to get caught in, as opposed to the work God did to free us. You see, we were created to walk in freedom with God from the time we were young. He didn’t create us for bondage.
Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Isaiah 51:1
Believe it or not… you do not require a ‘prodigal son’ moment of sitting in a pig pen eating rotten food in order to know and understand the grace by which you are saved. Simply because we took a path that led us into bondage, doesn’t mean God intended that for us. Just because you waited until you were lying drunk by the side of the road before you listened to His voice, doesn’t mean He wasn’t ‘knocking’ long before that moment.
The beauty is that He will take those dark, desolate moments and use them for His Glory…
For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. Isaiah 51:3

Did He want us to go to those dark places? Did He ask us to leave His side so that we would experience life without Him? Not at all. Will He take these things and use them for His Glory? Absolutely.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!… I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19
Let’s turn the tide on the attitude that we must sew our wild oats in order to better comprehend His Grace. God does not lack deliverance opportunities in our lives while we walk this earth (Goliath). We don’t need to create them ourselves (Bathsheba).
That’s the diff.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Miracles, Part 2- Love


What a great day we had today! Tony Bilotta rocked the house with some great Christmas jazz & many of people took steps to believe God for a miracle in their lives! We ended with a song from the Hillsong album, 'This Is Our God,' called, 'You Are Stronger,' and it was absolutely incredible. We made a declaration (to ourselves and) to God that His love is stronger than whatever we may be going through. What miracle do you need today? Do you feel separated from God because of your unanswered prayer? I sure have been there myself! Don't forget that God is stronger than whatever you may be facing and that nothing can separate you from His love!

"Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36... 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39

Great quote, Great reminder



"There will always be more people willing to do ‘great’ things for God than there are people willing to do the little things. The race to be a leader is crowded, but the field is wide open for those willing to be servants." - Rick Warren

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On A Lighter Note

Politics are always crazy, whether it is the church or the government. I'm sure all of you have heard about the Governor of Illinois & his potentially criminal behavior. Everyone is talking about his ethics & criminal activities. But I would like to talk, for a moment, about something totally different. What's up with that head (or should I say forehead) of hair? Maybe I'm jealous because I don't have any? Either way, it does appear that it is either a comb over for the forehead or he is being attacked by a beaver. Maybe I am just jealous. Pray for me!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Miracles, Part 1- Peace

Yesterday we launched into our new series called, "Miracles." We talked about how Jesus has come to bring the miracle of peace into the world. He is the Prince of Peace! (Isaiah 9:6-7) One of the areas that we often times lack peace is with ourselves. This morning I read a great devotional that talks about that very thing! If you missed the message on Sunday, it is available via download today! Go ahead & detox your mind today so that you can live at peace with yourself and in peace with others!

Detox Your Mind
Today's Scripture

“Above all else guard your heart for it affects everything you do” (Proverbs 4:23).


Today's Word from Joel and Victoria

These days, we hear a lot about detoxing our physical bodies. Bacteria can build up. Pesticides and chemicals can get into our system. Experts recommend that you go through a deep cleansing periodically and stay away from what is harmful so you can rid yourself of these toxins.

In the same way, there are all kinds of toxins that can build up in our minds. When we go around dwelling on the wrong thoughts, thinking about what we can’t do, how somebody hurt us, or how we’ll never get ahead; those thoughts are toxic. And toxic thoughts left alone become like toxic waste. It gets into your heart, and eventually, contaminates your whole life. It affects your self-image, your attitude, and your level of confidence. That’s why the Bible tells us that we have to guard our hearts and minds above all else because if your mind gets polluted, your whole life is going to be polluted.

Make the decision today to go on a fast from negative, self-defeating thoughts. Cleanse your mind from what is harmful and fill yourself with thoughts of faith and victory. As you do, those good thoughts will strengthen and empower you to live the good life He has planned for you!

A Prayer for Today

Father in heaven, I come to You today willing to let go of anything that would hold me back from Your great promises. I choose to guard my thoughts and fill my heart with Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Little Girl!



Here is a pic of my daughter (Mikayla) and 2 of her little brothers. Yesterday she had her big ballet recital and did a fantastic job. I was impressed with her ability to remember all of the necessary steps for a 30 minute program. Especially in light of the fact that she can't seem to ever remember to do the chores that I ask her to do every week... I digress, it was awesome and there is nothing like watching your child succeed. I understand why God declares over us that He has great plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). Doesn't every Father want their children to succeed and be blessed? I'm thankful for a great day & an amazing daughter!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Very Special Night!




Tonight was a very special night! We had the privilege of investing into the first of 25 church plants over the next 5 years tonight! Our church family gave $5,000 to Kent Jacobs on behalf of Epic Church in Manayunk, Pa. We had the chance to pray over Him and make a great investment. We then went on to baptize 11 people tonight! It was awesome! One of those special people happened to be my daughter. Mikayla approached me a few weeks ago about getting baptized and I joyfully agreed! She is a special little girl with a heart for God. Life doesn't get any more fulfilling then on nights like these. God is good!

Questions About the Bible, Part 1- "Is The Bible Myth?"

This is a great article by CRI's Hank Hanegraaff (equip.org) touching on the topic of taking the Bible literally. Enjoy!

If I've heard it once I've heard it a million times, You can't take the Bible literally. You often hear people say that although it may be inspirational, its also full of myths and fables. Well, is this really true?
If the Bible is really full of myths and fables, it would certainly be appropriate to read it as such. However, the simple fact is that the Bible certainly doesnt fit that category.
For one thing, the biblical writers flatly denied teaching mythology. For example, Peter said, We didnt follow cleverly devised tales when we told you about the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His Majesty (2 Pet. 1:16). In fact, the Apostle Paul urged Timothy to teach his congregation to disregard mythology (1 Tim. 1:4). He warned that a time was coming when people would turn away their ears from the truth and turn aside to mythology (2 Tim. 4:4).
Besides all of this, the myths of the ancient world were never based on solid historical fact. They were stories invented to explain such recurring phenomena like the changing of the seasons or the motion of the stars. The events recorded in the Scripture, on the other hand, are firmly rooted in history. By way of illustration, it is an accepted historical fact that Israel became a nation after the exodus from Egypt. Later, Israel became a monarchy, David and Solomon really lived, and on and on and on. It is also a historical fact that Jesus was a Jew who preached about God the Father, who claimed to be God, worked miracles, and was crucified during Pilates reign. All of this is, in fact, literal history.
In addition, the supernatural aspects of Scripture are presented just as matter-of-factly as the rest. And indeed, the most stupendous miracle recorded in the Bible, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, has been authenticated by numerous scholarly studies including the late great Dr. Simon Greenleaf. Dr. Greenleaf was the Royal Professor of Legal Evidences at Harvard University. He was goaded by his students into looking at the evidences for the resurrection. After a thorough examination he came back and said, There is not a single unbiased juror in the world who would ever look at the evidence and deny it. Dr. Simon Greenleaf became a Christian. The Bible is not mythology and was never meant to be read as such.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Questions About the Bible, Part 1- "Is The Bible Reliable?"

The first question that I would like to hit this week is the question of reliability. We've all heard the skeptics question various aspects about the Bible and it has planted seeds of doubt in our hearts. There are lots of great questions, but don't forget that there are lots of great answers! To help unwrap the answers that we all have about the Bible, I will be linking to some great articles this week that will help establish your faith in God's word. Here is an article from the Christian Research Institute, enjoy!

Have you tried to show someone the historical reliability of the Scriptures, and not known where to start? A quick trip to your local well-stocked Christian bookstore likely will overwhelm you. Where among the dozens of impressive, comprehensive reference books should you start?

Fortunately, while there is a wealth of information available to support the reliability of Scripture, you don’t have to burn, the midnight oil to give a reasonable answer to those who ask, “How can we know the Bible is reliable?” Four basic principles chart your way to understanding basic biblical reliability. To help you remember, I’ve developed the simple acronym “MAPS.” Remember the word MAPS and you will be able to chart Bible reliability.Click here for the rest of the article!

Facebook, How to Read the Bible



Here are the raw facts that I threw at everyone this past week in my message about the Bible and a process that I use when reading the Bible.

All About The Bible
Through 66 separate books, 1,189 chapters, and hundreds of thousands of words, the Bible shares one extraordinary message: God Loves You!
The Bible was written:
• over a 1500 year span (from 1400 B.C to A.D. 100)
• over 40 generations
• over 40 authors from many walks of life (i.e. - kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars)
• in different places (i.e. - wilderness, dungeon, palaces)
• at different times (i.e. - war, peace)
• in different moods (i.e. - heights of joy, depths of despair)
• on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe)
• in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek)

Bible Facts – The Books of the Bible
The Old Testament has 17 Historical, 5 Poetical, and 17 Prophetic books in it.
• The 17 Historical Books are: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
• The 5 Poetical Books are: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon,
• The 17 Prophetic Books are: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The New Testament has 4 Gospels, Acts, 21 Epistles (letters), and Revelation in it.
• The 4 Gospels are: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
• The 21 Epistles are: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.

HOW TO GET YOUR FACE IN THE BOOK

SCRIPTURE- Pick a book and begin to read. You can join with me in reading the book of Matthew this Christmas!
OBSERVATION- What is it that is going on in the story? What is the text and the context teaching you ?
APPLICATION- What is God by His Holy Spirit specifically telling you to do about what you just read today?
PRAYER- Pray and ask God to help you to live out His word in your life!

I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Psalms 119:16