Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Let's Party!

Let’s Party!

We have been praying for this party for some time now. Preparations have been made and people have been trained on how to throw a great party where the angels will rejoice in heaven. In Luke 15:7, Jesus says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

I remember in college when Vickie and I travelled and sang. There was a song many people requested over and over. The title was, “That’s When the Angels Rejoice.” It says that there is only one thing that will make the angels jump and shout – a sinner repenting of their sins. What an awesome picture.

What party am I talking about? I’m so glad you asked. It is on Thursday, November 7. We are celebrating Billy Graham’s birthday. He is the greatest evangelist of our time. Millions have come to know Jesus Christ through a Billy Graham Crusade. Billy is turning 95 years old. He has longed for the strength and opportunity to speak God’s message once more to America. With modern technology, he is able to enter into the homes of millions of Americans through the television. Whether you show it on a DVD or watch a scheduled program, many will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel from a trusted, household name.

Thousands have been praying for this week. They have prayed for lost loved ones and friends by name. It is time to pull the wool off of many people’s eyes caused by the father of lies and enemy of our soul. God promises in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “’In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

So what are you waiting for? Get on the phone and invite your neighbors and friends to come over and celebrate a birthday. Whether you watch it on TV in your home, on a laptop in a coffee shop, over dessert and watching it on DVD, celebrate and give someone an opportunity to confess Jesus Christ as Lord. There is a lady in St. Louis telling her neighbors that she is throwing a party for Billy Graham’s 95th birthday on November 7. There will be cake and party favors. She tells them that they will watch Billy Graham’s new message for America being broadcast that night. She intends to give everyone a copy of his book, “Peace with God,” wrapped in birthday paper with a bow. She says, “A successful witness is sharing Christ in the power of the Spirit and leaving the results to God.” Maybe you can take her idea and run with it.

Last night, I helped with our Upward float in the Halloween Parade in downtown Findlay. By the looks of things, all you have to do is offer candy and people will come in droves. It is crazy how many people come to that parade. Just think, this party can make an eternal impact on the lives of your friends and loved ones. It’s worth the effort.

This Sunday, we will be wrapping up our series, “Not a Fan.” Come and anticipate a move of God in a powerful way. Let’s pray that the party will begin early and go all week long. Do it Lord…

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Atmosphere of Prayer

Atmosphere of Prayer

Our staff and Church Board have been going through a study on prayer by Jim Cymbala called, “When God’s People Pray.” This study has challenged me to take a hard look at our church in the area of prayer. Many wonderful things are happening in our church. We are seeing new people come and join our fellowship, many lives are being touched by the hand of God, relationships are being mended, and many other things that won’t fit in this email. But as I look closer, could we see more transformational things happening if our church was a house of prayer? What does that even look like? I don’t want it to show up in the form of another program. Programs come and go. Prayer is a direct line to our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. We need to follow the mandate Jesus laid down when He said, “My house will be called a house of prayer.” in Matthew 21:13.

We desperately want great things to happen as we pray and seek to open the floodgates of fresh grace and revelation. We don’t want to copy how others are doing it; we want to be authentic and new as we seek the heart of God. If you were to attend Brooklyn Tabernacle on Tuesday nights, you would have to stand in line to get in. Hold on to your seats. They are not standing in line to attend a concert; they are waiting to attend a prayer meeting. We must give God room to operate. He is the Great Physician. If there is going to be a heart surgery (which there needs to be), I choose to let God be my doctor over anyone else. Programs tend to produce earthly, temporal results because they begin with us. But if we begin with God, eternal and transformational results are the norm. Call me selfish, but I want that in my life, in the life of my children and wife, in the life of this church, in the life of this community. Findlay, Ohio, needs to have a church on fire for God. I want to be in the middle of a church that is seeing Biblical outcomes.

“The feature that is supposed to distinguish Christian churches, Christian people, and Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer. It doesn’t matter what your tradition or my tradition is. The house is not ours anyway; it is the Father’s… I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.” Jim Cymbala in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire pg. 71

So pray with me as we truly seek the heart of God as a church. Pray that we will become a “House of Prayer,” and that people will experience a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit.

This Sunday we will continue our series, “Not a Fan.” Come with anticipation, filled with prayer, ready to respond to the deep love of the Father who embraces fully, devoted, committed, followers of Jesus Christ.

Come tonight at 7 and see what God will do if you clear your schedule. This is the last night of our revival services. The teens will be meeting at 6 p.m. for pizza and fellowship in the Family Life Center before the service. I have enjoyed the worship led by Thom Sneed and the spirit-filled messages by Rev. Kevin Seymour. God is on the move.

By the way, I’m looking for some people to join me for prayer at 6:30 pm in room 202 on the north side of the church (across from the office).

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recipe for Revival

Recipe for Revival
“For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.” Nehemiah 8:9 (NLT)
There’s a pattern that we see throughout the Bible – a pattern of something very powerful happening whenever people turn to the Scriptures. In the verse above (which is read on day 30 of our “Engage the Word”), we see that the people of Nehemiah’s day (who had wandered away from the Word) were all moved to the point of tears as they heard God’s Word being declared to them. The result was a widespread return to God.
We see this pattern repeated in 2 Chronicles 34. The temple of God was in ruins, and as they went to repair it, a copy of the long forgotten law was discovered. When King Josiah read it, he tore his clothes, begged God’s mercy, and instituted spiritual reform in the land.
Something similar happened in the book of Acts as the Apostle Peter preached the Word to thousands who gathered in the streets of Jerusalem. It says that these people, many of whom had a hand in Christ’s execution just a few days earlier, were cut to the heart by what they heard. The only response they could summon was, “What do we do now?” What they did was go on to become the first 3,000 converts to Christianity (Acts 2:37-41).
The pattern is undeniable. Something very powerful and something very spiritual happens whenever God’s Word is discovered and declared. Sin is identified, conviction sets in, repentance happens, and revival follows. God uses His Word to revive His people.
What an important truth for our Church. It’s only when the Scriptures are given center stage that the first fires of revival are kindled in the Church collectively and in our hearts personally.
This Sunday begins revival at our church. Revival will not happen until we fall into the rhythm of what God calls us to do in our walk with Him. I love the picture Neil Cole, our speaker at the District Empower the Church Tour, gave this week when he talked about breathing. Exhaling is the confession of sin and inhaling is taking in the Scripture. If you do not exhale, then you cannot inhale and vice versus. We are to put off the old self and to put on the new self according to Ephesians 4:20-24.
So you will determine if you will see the revival fires upon us. If you come seeking the Lord, confessing what is not submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and soaking in the Word of God like a sponge soaks in water, then you will be open for what God will provide.
Come to the church on Friday night at 7 p.m. for an hour of prayer as we seek God and prepare the soil for His presence.
Have a great day in the Lord and remember to put God’s Word on the top of your to-do list.
Joy in Jesus!
Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Eternal Outcomes

Eternal Outcomes
Matthew 21:12-13

I really despise waiting in line. If I see a line forming and have an opportunity to do something about it, I either pull into another line that seems to be going faster, or I see if there is a friend I can talk to and use them to get ahead. I hope you know I am kidding on the last remark. I do try to find the quickest line though. Usually what ends up happening is the line I think is going faster becomes slower when I make my way over to it. Most people don’t like the idea of waiting in line for anything for very long.

But if the Son of God were to bodily visit our church and we knew we would have the opportunity to personally talk to him, waiting in line would be worth it all.  It might even give you opportunity to sort through some of your thoughts so you wouldn’t waste His time rattling off a number of more or less self-centered prayer requests.

In Matthew 21:12-13, it says, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.’” Jesus was not talking as much about what they were doing, but what they were not doing. We tend to focus on the external reality, the thievery. Just like in the above illustration of being in line, our attention quickly jumps to how much time we are losing instead of what we can be doing in the line. Oh how life would be much more meaningful if we could only see the real purpose behind the simple things that happen in life.

There are so many wonderful things happening in our church. Many people are being stirred to be a follower of Jesus Christ and not a fan. There are many new families attending. The Family Life Center is taking shape. You could probably add many more exciting things to the list. When things go well our tendency is to focus on the excitement and forget about foundational issues. If we were to only celebrate and get caught up in the moment, then we would be determining the ultimate outcome of these blessings. The longevity of these blessings only comes by properly giving credit where it is due and bathing it in prayer. All the glory belongs to Jesus because these can only happen when He is Lord. The greatest ministry of the church is prayer. Jesus always preceded every great ministry event with prayer. When people joined Him, the real purpose began to be revealed – to know God more.

Prayer should be the main and defining characteristic of the church not the number of new people we are experiencing. Getting busy as a church on other things and not bringing the ministry of prayer to the forefront only launches us into a busy season with no lasting results. When revival is being experienced in a church, prayer is consistently an important part of what’s happening. Jesus is always present in the church through the presence of the Holy Spirit, but during times of authentic revival people see Jesus through new eyes of faith.

It’s hard to imagine Jesus visiting any church without picturing lines of people waiting to talk with Him. And yes, many would be asking Jesus to help them with their serious concerns. But there would also be those wanting to express their thanks or to ask for forgiveness or to offer fitting words of praise.

As Jesus once said, it is to our advantage that his presence is no longer limited to a human body.  “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7).  The problem of so many people at one time pressing for his attention has been eliminated.  Now anyone can talk to the Lord at any time.

We have revival on the calendar starting October 20. But don’t think that revival will happen without the prayers and desperation of our people. Would you be willing to come and pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on our church? Revival sessions will come and go if we let it. But don’t you let it. Commit to praying for the Lord to fall fresh on our church and our families. There will be a time of prayer on Friday, October 11 and 18 from 7-8pm, and each evening 30 minutes before the service. They will be held at the church. Would you make it a priority to come and agree in prayer that you want the Lord to move in our midst? Whether there is a line or I am the only one, I will be there at church. Join me, would you?

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

From Infancy to Maturity

From Infancy to Maturity

The Apostle Paul writes about maturity in the faith and what the Church's role is in this process. As I read Ephesians 4 I can’t help but see that maturity and unity are mentioned in conjunction with each other. In verse 2 and 3 it says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” He is putting a personal responsibility on each disciple to be proactive at keeping the unity of the Spirit. We do that by living a life of forgiveness. We forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. That puts the bar pretty high.

In Ephesians 4:11-13, it says, “So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Did you catch it? Christ is so invested in our maturity that He provides called people to equip each one of us for service so we may be built up in unity and maturity in knowing God more. That is where our role as a church is given. We are to be a place of equipping and maturing in the faith so we can attain the fullness of Christ. If we respond and come together for this purpose, then we will no longer be tossed back and forth, in and out, encouraged and discouraged, or falling to every false teaching, but we will be growing in the truth and not be wavering. We will stand on solid footing. There are so many things in our world that scream tolerance, or maybe God has changed His stance in this area or that lifestyle. We need to come together and understand His Word more. We cannot settle for mediocrity living any longer.

I don’t want our church to fall into the mode of the ones the Hebrew writer says, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk not solid food” (Hebrews 5:11-12). There is nothing wrong with being on milk for a while. Only in the church do we accept people staying on infant food for the rest of their spiritual life. We should strive to learn and grow toward solid food. “Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14). When we hunger and thirst for more of Jesus and His word, then we learn to follow Him no matter what the circumstance because we have a new perspective and knowledge of good and evil. The enemy wants to do all he can to keep you from that knowledge so he can continue to deceive you in these last days.

There is a class for everyone – from infants to adults. This Sunday is, “Back to Class Sunday.” Our church wants to come along side of families and reiterate what you are teaching your children at home about being a follower of Jesus Christ. We want to provide an opportunity for parents to sit and learn with other believers while your children are in safe, loving classrooms being taught the Word of God. We want to help make Bible Study a priority in your week.

So if you don’t have a class you are attending on Sunday mornings, come this Sunday with other new attenders and find a class where you will be "built up until we all reach the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." There are Discipleship Classes offered at 9:15 and 10:45 a.m. The service you choose to attend will dictate which class you attend. Try out several before you decide which one you like best. We have great teachers in each one.

This Sunday is also Grandparents Day. There will be a special choir, a quartet, and a delicious meal following the service. Come and celebrate with us as we meet new people and have an opportunity for those attending both services to enjoy a meal together in the Family Life Center at noon.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike