Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A great way to grow

You've found the 21 Day Challenge blog. This was originally a companion resource to a challenge we gave the Suncrest family during the Catalyst Message series. However, it still stands as a great way to grow in your faith.

It's easy really. Start anytime and plan to spend 21 days in Scripture asking the question, "How can God use me to make a difference?"

Then see what God does.

That's it. It's that simple. Have a great adventure.

Monday, March 3, 2008

It's the end, but it's just the beginning

We've reached the end of our 21 Day Challenge, but it's really the beginning. What did you learn? How did you grow? What did God say to you? Do you have direction for the next step in your spiritual life?

I hope that the 21 day challenge was a good experience for you. I know it was for us staff. But the journey doesn't end here. It really is just beginning. I hope that you will continue digesting Scripture and asking God how He wants to use you to make a difference.

I'm going to leave this blog up for awhile as a tool to help others. Just because we won't be doing this all together as a church, it can be used anytime by anyone wanting to jump into a reading plan of Scripture. 21 days...that's all it takes to establish a habit that can change your life.

If you'd like to create a reading plan for the rest of the year, you can go to www.biblegateway.com and create a customized reading plan that fits your schedule.

Happy reading.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Day 21 - 1 Peter 4:8-11

Hey, this is Kevin one last time. So glad I get to write the final scripture post for our 21 Day Challenge... I hope God has spoken to you about how you can make a difference, as you've meditated on His word.
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
As I read this passage today, two words came to mind:

1. Love- So many of our passages in this challenge have mentioned love! I feel God is helping me understand something very important: I should never serve out of a feeling of obligation, but rather as an overflow of my love for God and the people around me.

2. Confidence- Why be tentative about doing what God has made us to do? The "speak as if speaking the words of God" sentiment is a challenge to me personally; I don't have trouble believing things, or saying things, but I rarely come across as really believing what I am saying. If I am speaking to those around me out of the wisdom of the Word of God and a heart of love, then I need to deliver those words like they are truth... because, well, they are! The passage uses other examples, like hospitality and serving, but you get the idea: if we're doing what God wants us to do, we should do it boldly as an act of worship, giving him glory.

God, I see the way you designed me and I understand the passions you've given me, but still I am unsure of myself. Even as I look forward to the launch of the East Campus and my involvement there, I question whether I'm the right person to help our church family thrive in that area. Give me the strength I need, and confidence like what you have in me, Father. Help me push aside all fear, and instead be motivated by love. Thank you for giving us your word, so deep in wisdom.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Day 20 – Hebrews 10:23-24

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Being used by God to change lives… This is what runs through my mind as I read this passage. But first I need to claim the hope I have in Jesus because he is my inspiration, my reason for the hope. Then I call to mind the many times God has proved himself faithful in my life. Somehow that’s so easy when my life seems trouble-free, not so easy when difficulties are all around. In difficult times, I need to be still and remember His faithfulness.

For me, the most fun I have in leading the group ministry at Suncrest is encouraging group leaders to spur their groups on toward love and good deeds. Last summer, group ministry had a $100 challenge where each group received a $100 bill and was asked to use this money to make a difference in our community…. WOW, did they ever step up to the challenge! Not only did most groups build on the $100, but our community experienced creative acts of service, kindness, and the love of Jesus was spread farther than we could ever do as individuals. We even sent a deaf school from the Black Oak area to see Blue Man Group! That was their dream come true.

Spurring one another on is CONTAGIOUS! It’s been fun to watch groups continue to grow in this area. Many groups even did some service over Christmas, and others have already planned a service project for 2008!

The best way to do encourage others is by example. When my love and good deeds are known, they become an inspiration for others to do the same. Maybe we can find out how God would use us in the launch of our second campus? As more people sign up for the launch team – it really becomes contagious and exciting! Others become 'spurred on.'

We need to always look for opportunities to serve and be a light in a dark world… to be used by God to change lives!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Day 19 - Colossians 4:2-6

For 19 days now, I've been asking God what he is saying to me through these passages and what he has next for me. If you are like me, this one was almost too clear.

It hinges on a simple concept: God is interested in using me to change someone's life. More specifically (and more importantly!) he might even use me to change someone's eternal destiny. Sharing Jesus with people outside the church is a precious opportunity...make the most of it!

Pray. Pray. Pray. Why do I skip this essential part of sharing my faith with people when this short passage mentions it 3 times? But when I pray "that God may open a door for our message" It really works...that's probably both because God is opening up opportunities AND because I'm much more aware of the opportunities around me after I have prayed.

I'm stopping to pray for that right now (will you right now too?).

I'm also praying that when the opportunity does come, I won't mess it up. I fear I will, don't you? But this is part of letting God speak through me with a clarity I can't muster on my own. The times I've done this, God has always come through. Always.

If Prayer give me the words to say, it is apparently my tone and sensitivity that will really make the message either appealing or repulsive. So we need to "be wise how we act" and make sure our words are "grace-filled". No arrogance. No judgement. No selfishness. No hellfire. No brimstone. No self-righteousness. No sales job. No bait and switch. No pressure.

Instead...love, grace, acceptance, authenticity...so they might experience the transforming per of Jesus.

I have some conversations to engage in today.

Ephesians 4:7, 11-16

Everyone is on one side of this or the other, right. I'll say it simply...either you're an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher or you're one of God's people being prepared for service. This is not our choice, it is His gracious choice (vs7).
Biblically I wrestled with being a pastor because I know me. I know I am no more special than anyone I am serving with or anyone I teach or anyone I lead. But, we do have different job descriptions. This has taken me a while to come to, but I believe God wants me to prepare His people for works of service. My greatest "success" is seeing others succeed. To help someone learn to play piano gives me as much joy as playing it myself.
I remember my first ministry in Cincinnati. I certainly don't want to cast the entire ministry in a negative light, but this was an area to grow in: they had assumed they had hired someone to do the work for them. After all, they were getting older and needed someone to carry out their decisions day-to-day. So I busily went about doing what everyone was asking me to do. But I wrestled...God asks me to be a pastor and teacher. If I am a pastor and teacher, this is my job description: to prepare God's people for works of service. This is what God wants from me. And what does God want from you? According to Ephesians 4...to be prepared and to do works of service that build the body of Christ until we reach unity and become mature.
God, thank You for giving all of us purpose and mission. Help us as each part does our work to grow and be built up in love. Amen

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Day 17 - Ephesians 2:10

Today's post was written by Sue Hertzfeldt:

I love how that verse speaks to all of us as Christ-followers. God is working in all of us and he's "prepared in advance" what we're going to be doing!

I often ask myself the following little check list:

A. Why did God have me work 20+ years in a restaurant setting and teaching preschool?

B. Why did God bring around people to "speak the truth" into my life and invest heavily into me with tons of prayer?

C. How did Suncrest begin as an outpost of hope, as the "St John Project" and petition me to come "on board" to lead the charge in Children's ministry?

Boy, I sure didn't know, but God did!

Preparing in advance: God's always moving, working, flowing within the lives of Christ-followers.

I'm so very thanful for Suncrest. A real place to call home as we invest together for eternity!