Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chasing The Lion!



Kent & Tiffany Jacobs & the team @ Epic church are one of the 25 church plants that we are assisting over the next 5 years. Over the last 6-8 months our church has invested $10,000 into this important work. Check out all that God is doing @ Epic & keep them in prayer as we chase the lion together!

You Have Been Planted

I read this devotional this morning from Joel Osteen ministries called, "You Have Been Planted." It really challenged and encouraged me and I hope it will do the same for you!

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" (John 12:24, NKJ)

TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria

We all face difficulties and challenges in life. But you have to remember, as a believer in Jesus, you have the life-giving seed of Almighty God on the inside of you. When you go through disappointments or tough times, you may feel like you’ve been buried. You may feel like you’re in a dark, lonely place. You may feel like it’s the end, but in reality, it’s only the beginning. The fact is, you haven’t been buried; you have been planted. That means you’re coming back. And not only are you coming back, but you’re coming back in increase, better and stronger than before.

In those tough times, you’ve got to draw the line in the sand. Make a declaration, “This difficulty is not going to bury me. This loss, this disappointment, this injustice is not going to cause me to give up on my dreams. I refuse to live in self-pity. I know I am a seed. That means I cannot be buried. I can only be planted. I may be down, but it’s only temporary. I know I’m not only coming back, I’m coming back even better than I was before!”

A PRAYER FOR TODAY

Father in heaven, thank You for filling me with Your life-giving seed. I choose today to focus on the potential for my future. I know that I will overcome every obstacle by Your power that is at work in me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover




Incredible story! This weekend I'm going to be talking about the Bible & the fact that it is an incredible book! Much like the video above, we all have preconceived notions about people & things upon first glance. I hope that you will consider looking past what others have said or what you have even thought about the Bible in the past. If you'll take a fresh look at the Bible and consider it's claims & words, I'm certain that you will conclude that it is the living Word Of God! Here is an article that talks more about this incredible book, click here

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Year End Report for 2008

I am giving my year end report and casting vision for this year to our church family. Here are a few thoughts. 2008 was an incredible year! We have so many amazing leaders that make our church such a pleasure to be a part of! Last year was incredibly challenging on so many levels but absolutely amazing! Below are more specifics in regards to the Vision & Mission of our church...

We Exist (our vision)-
To help people experience the freedom & life that God has to offer so that they can become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
This past year we witnessed...
*we experienced explosive growth as a church with hundreds of visitors
*over 500 people committed to weekly attendance
*22 people took a step of obedience in water baptism
*almost half of our church stepped up and served
*our giving to missions & tithes increased
*We raised funds for 5 church plants (1 in Philly, 4 in Cuba)
*our favor in the community continued to grow
*over $8,000 given to local fire departments through our community comedy night!


Our Mission-

Our church is like a table where people come to experience the bread of life. Each one of us should do 3 things at the table.
*Bring- Bring people to the table, the local church.
*Build- Build relationships at the table through small groups.
*Serve- Serve one another at the table through ministry.


As a church, we took some great steps in following through with our mission. I'm so thankful and excited for 2009 as we 'chase the lion' together! God is doing incredible things & I'm so stoked that I get to play a part in all it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The God Questions, Part 2- "Do All Roads Lead To Heaven?"


We are in the midst of an important series called, "The God Questions?" This past week we answered the question, "do all roads lead to God?" The answer is simply this, "yes!" All paths do lead to God but do not necessarily lead to heaven. Regardless of our choices we will all stand before God and it will lead us to His justice or mercy. How can I so confidently declare that we will all stand before the Christian God and give an account of our lives? Isn't that a little arrogant? It depends, I suppose. It's only arrogant if it's not true. Obviously, I believe that it is true! But I also believe that the answer is not simply an issue of faith, but of philosophy, logic, reason and world views.

Some people erroneously believe that all religions are the same & that any path that you take leads to a chocolate heaven with some nice old senile guy with a name tag that says, "Jehovah." The reality is that no one really believes the assertion that all religions are the same. Let me prove my point. If everyone is right, then no one is wrong. Of course we all believe that there are beliefs that are wrong. Sacrificing innocent little babies to angry gods or torturing your loved ones to appease the holy one sound a little off. These are also ways that people have used to get to appease the gods & somehow attain heaven throughout history. We tend to back away from the 'all religions or paths are the same' nonsense upon further review. The tendency at that point is to make arbitrary statements about certain religions being good and the fact that we know certain things are wrong and so on. We basically begin to appeal to a Christian worldview which is the foundation of logic, morality, reason and so on. As the Apostle Paul alludes to in Romans chapter 1, we all assume Christianity & are secret believers. The Christian view of the world is ultimately the only world view that holds together after an internal critique of it's claims.

This may sound outlandish upon first glimpse, or may be moderately confusing to some. Nonetheless, a solid defense of the Christianity is simply that it is the lone view that makes sense of logic, reason & morality. This reality has yet to be disproved. Discredited & made fun of, yes. Disproved, no. For further study & more in-depth analysis on the topic, click on the links below.
*Answering the Scientific argument, click here
*More on other faiths & world views (we call this presuppositional reasoning with false faiths), click here & click here & here


Good books to read as a resource-
Kingdom of the Cults, by Walter Martin
The Reason For God, by Tim Keller
*Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Anxious For Nothing

It's really difficult to not grow anxious. In my life, I want to be further along right now. Anxiety can set in and life can become very challenging to handle. You may be anxious to get married or have a better marriage, to get out of debt or even get a new job. Whatever challenge you may be facing, remember that God is in control and to be anxious for nothing! Enjoy the devo below that I read just the other day, it really encouraged me & I pray that it will encourage you...

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”(Philippians 4:6, NASB).

TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria
So many people today are living uptight, worried and anxious about the future, filled with frustration and concern. In the natural there may be good reason, but understand, that is not God’s best. God doesn’t want us to live in anxiety and frustration; He wants us to live in peace. You can find rest in Him knowing that no matter what is happening around you, God Almighty has His hand on you.

The next time you’re tempted to worry or be anxious about something, remember this verse. God invites us to come to Him. In fact, the Bible says He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. But notice, we can’t just come to Him any old way. He wants us to come to Him with a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving. Begin by simply saying, “Father in heaven, thank You for the privilege to come before You. Thank You for hearing my prayers.” As you come to Him with an open and humble heart, He will hear you and fill you with His peace and joy all the days of your life.


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Heavenly Father, today I choose to be anxious for nothing. I choose to set aside my worries and concerns. I thank You for Your faithfulness to meet every need in my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Leadership Thoughts

I just spent the evening with some of our amazing small group leaders and we watched a talk by Mark Sanborn. He as a great book called, "The Fred Factor." (www.fredfactor.com) Here are some thoughts from his talk.

-You make a difference every single day.
-You either add to the people around you or you take away. There is no neutrality.
-We are all ordinary people with the opportunity to do the extraordinary.
-The first job of leadership is to prove significance.
-Stop wanting your children to only be happy. Desire that they would be at the very least would be good but invite them to be great.
-If you want to have great relationships, don't seek to be interesting, seek to be interested!
-Don't try & replicate your life, innovate your life. Be creative.
-The most important thing is love. God is love, when you find God, you find love.


Question- Have you accepted the invitation to be great? Have you invited anyone else to be great?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The God Questions- Is God Real?


This weekend I will be giving reasons why I believe that the Christian God is real in the context of the Easter story. Because I only have 30 minutes to state the case, my goal is to primarily talk about God's real love demonstrated in Jesus Christ. We are making books available that state some good reasons. Here are some examples of what I will be sharing that help prove the realness of God...

1. The existence of Creation or the Universe.
"... the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Psalm 19:1
"From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth & sky and all that God has made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power & divine nature." Romans 1:20
This is to say that the very fact that we ask the question in regard to design, points to a designer. A creator. Got questions? Here is a website that unwraps this in a more intellectual fashion. click here

2. My sense of morality.
"Even when Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God's law is written within them, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right." Romans 2:14-15

3. Jesus.
" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6
In the words of C.S. Lewis, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic- on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse." The question of course is, "who is Jesus to you? Lord, Liar or Lunatic?"

Many have been indoctrinated in secular universities that scoff at the existence of the Christian God as mere fables and wishful thinking. Unfortunately, most Christians, & those that debate on our behalf, generally do a poor job at giving one of the most powerful proofs for the existence of God. A proof that I would say is irrefutable. If the prior reasons do not suffice for you, take some time to consider the following argument given by one of my favorite scholars, Dr. Greg Bahnsen.
For audio, click here or here.
For written, click here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter 2009


If you could ask God any question, what would it be? "If You're so good, why do you allow suffering?" ... "What really happens when I die?" ... "Do all roads and religions lead to You?" ... "Is Jesus really your Son?" ... "Is the Bible true and can I trust what it says?"
Don't miss this Easter as we answer the question, "Is God Real?"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Is About Forgiveness!



The Easter season provides deep meaning for all of us. One of the greatest things about Easter is the reminder that Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay the price for our sin. It is all about forgiveness & grace. This video provides a great example of not only the forgiveness that we receive, but the forgiveness & grace that we can give because of Jesus Christ. Take a moment and check it out!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Let The Fast Begin!

God is directing me to lead our church in another fast. We started this year with a 21 day fast and have seen God do incredible things! 54 People have made decisions to follow Jesus so far this year & the best is yet to come! I am calling our church to a special fast 7 day fast beginning today until Easter Sunday. Here are a few reasons that I am calling this fast:

1. Chase the Lion-
We are believing God as a church this year to raise $100,000 above our normal tithes & offerings. $50,000 of the finances will go towards our current missionaries and to plant more churches toward our 25 church plants in 5 years. $50,000 will go to our home mission to pay for the recent upgrades to our auditorium & for future work in our bathrooms/parking lot & video needs.

2. Sickness- There have been many demonic attacks upon people in our church. Here are a few that we will pray about specifically.
*Baby Gabriella- Mike & LeeAnn Goodson’s newborn daughter needed open heart surgery & is battling for her life. For updates, click here
*The Guinta’s- Jon & Lauren recently discovered that their unborn 3rd child (Taylor) has been diagnosed with the same terminal disease that their second child (Alexis) is suffering from. For updates, click here
*Brother Richard- Richard has a possible re-occurrence of cancer. The doctor has found a growth that is still yet to be identified. In each of these cases, we are believing for a supernatural miracle! If you have a need, fast with us as we believe for a breakthrough!

3. Souls- We have seen 54 people, young & old, make decisions so far this year. I’m believing that we will all be used by God and will see 800 people fill the house this Easter! I am asking God for 50 first-time decisions this Easter. Please prepare to join with me in prayer & fasting as we believe for a spiritual breakthrough in the life of our church!

Make sure to come early & bring a friend for the biggest day of the year! Get ready for your breakthrough & have a great Monday! -Sam

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Redeem The Time

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days”(Ephesians 5:15-16, NLT).

This is a great devotional from Joel Osteen Ministries that is especially meaningful for singles. Many times when you are waiting for God to bring that special someone into your life, you can feel like you are merely treading water. Wasting time. God's desire is that you would redeem the time that He is given you and trust Him with your future. So go ahead and thanks God for today and trust Him with tomorrow!

TODAY'S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Time is the most valuable commodity in life that we have. It’s more valuable than money. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you woke up this morning, God gave you a present called “today.” And with that gift comes a responsibility. The Scripture tells us to redeem the time, to make the most of every opportunity. That simply means don’t let it go to waste. Don’t live this day unfocused, unhappy, negative, or defeated. Make the most of every day. God has entrusted you with His life. He has breathed His very breath into you. He has put gifts and talents on the inside of you. You have seeds of greatness deposited in you. You’re a person of destiny, and you have an assignment and a purpose to fulfill.

I encourage you today to evaluate how you are spending your time. Refocus your life. Let go of any distractions. Shake off any self-pity, any discouragement, any disappointments of the past and run your race with purpose. Be careful how you live and redeem the time so that you can fulfill the destiny He has prepared for you.


A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father in heaven, thank You for the gift of today. I dedicate this day to You. I dedicate my mind, will, and emotions to You. Use me this day for Your purposes and keep me on the path You have for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Links for God, Love, Sex- UNCENSORED

Below are links to some great information on the topic of sexuality, purity and so on. Take time to check it out this series, including this evenings session, on iTunes. I don't agree with every single statement that is located on the sites below but I believe that they are an excellent resource that will help you develop a Christian worldview.

Biblical answers in regards to abortion, click here & here
Christian Sex: Frank Answers to Honest Questions, click here
Looking for internet accountability? click here
Need help with sex addiction? click here or click here
Blunt & helpful booklet about pornography & masturbation, click here
Great video that answers the questions regarding birth control, click here