grinding it out

Tomorrow marks the completion of 31 days of prayer, reading, fasting, tithing and serving for the great people of Maranatha Church! It has been a long month and our ONE series has been quite a challenge. Some have done very well with sticking by their commitments, a few have stumbled a few times but we are celebrating God’s great grace!

While we know better than to think we can earn our blessings, we realize that God rewards those who put Him first. That’s what this series has been all about! God is #1 in our lives and in our church!

If I have anything to say about it, the momentum will continue. This sort of reminds me of an old fashioned revival. Back in the day, churches used to have services every night for weeks. The result was people being revived, drawn closer to God. Well, we didn’t have worship services every night but the results are the same. I truly believe that we have been drawn closer to God. It’s been fun!

Thanks to the hundreds of people who participated in ONE. Now, let’s shift gears and see what great things November has in store! It’s gonna be awesome!

helping the helpless

A team from our church is going to Guatemala next week to take shoes and food to some very needy children. We have been working in Rio Bravo, Guatemala for over a year now and lives are changing.

God bless the guys who are going to serve and the children who will receive the love of Christ that our team will be sharing.

the stuff that matters

Like this picture? I took it in Monte Rico, Guatemala, in April 2010.

We are all constantly barraged with issues that demand our attention. In a matter of a few years, very little of it will actually be worth a hill of beans. How can we keep from getting cheated in life by spending too much time and energy on things that won’t last?

Unfortunately, most people come and go. The vast majority of your current relationships are temporary. While we should never treat people like they are disposable, we can’t be fooled into thinking that every person in our life is permanent fixture. People will walk and we all know it. And everyone will die some day.

Jobs don’t last. You get fired, downsized or you quit.
Houses, cars, clothes…they all wear out.
Even your health and youth are slipping though your fingers.

So how do we avoid investing in things that have no yield, while possibly overlooking things that have real lasting power?

The problem with this kind of thinking is – we are wrestling with our desire for permanence. We like the security of knowing that things will be around for a while. When it comes to people we love and stuff we value, we are making long-term plans. But nothing on earth is eternal. And only the eternal things really matter.

I have to face each day knowing full well that a vast majority of my interests and desires won’t matter in 100 years. While it’s not realistic to live your life enthralled in matters of eternal consequence (you still have to answer your emails) be sure that your passions are comprised of issues that will be around for ever. Don’t get caught up in the seemingly important matter that is here today and gone tomorrow.

By the way, this blog won’t be around in 100 years so how about letting it go for now?

big day coming

If Maranatha Church has any place in your heart, you will want to be here on November 14. This will be one of the most important worship experiences in our history. There is a very big announcement coming that day. To help celebrate the big event, we have planned a massive picnic, complete with barbecue, a big tent, bounce houses…you get the idea.

I don’t often ask this, and it may have no impact, but here goes: if you have other plans on November 14, consider changing them.

24 days and counting…

a personal announcement!

We just discovered that we (Letha and I) are going to be grandparents! And I don’t mean to the 50 plus kids at Casa Shalom Orphanage. I mean our daughter, Jessica and her husband, Josh are going to be parents.

Please pray for the health and safety of this new little one. Thank God for new life. Awesome!

when stats create passion

I read the results of a national survey that really set me off. The Barna Institute conducted an inquiry among 40,000 people across America, over the last 7 years. The goal was to determine the number of people in various cities that are involved in a local Christian church. You can read the results here.

This is what I learned: Of the 85 largest cities in the US, our city, West Palm Beach, is the 12th most unchurched city in the country! We have around 37% of our residents who go to church. That’s 63% non-church attenders. With a conservative population estimate at 352,618 (people who use “West Palm Beach” as their mailing address – if you live here, you know it is MUCH larger than that!), that’s 222,149 who are not going to church. These people are within a 15 minute drive of one of our two locations. But they are not coming.

I am on fire about this!

While I do not believe a person has to go to church to go to heaven, I do believe that we cannot be an obedient Christ-follower without being a part of a local church. What this means to me: we are right in the middle of a mission field! And we need to start acting like it! We have to do whatever it takes to reach people. We’ve got to increase our level of passion. We’ve got to stop focusing on ourselves and start reaching out – whatever it takes!

Within the past few weeks, I have heard these statements from “churched” people:
“I like a smaller church”.
“There is no need to start more churches, there are plenty around already.”
“We don’t need to go to additional locations, let the people come to us.”

I can’t think of any attitude that is farther from the heart of God. In essence, we are saying, ”those unchurched people can just go to hell”.

Without blowing a gasket here, I am more determined than ever to build the church. We have to reach some of these people. Thinking in terms of bite-sized chunks, in order to change these stats by only one percent, we will need to reach 350 new people. Let’s break it down even further: if every adult in our church would be responsible for leading one person to Christ and to our church, we would bump from 37% to 38% of the people in our area going to church. How cool is that?

That’s a place to start, huh?