Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Review: Love is an Orientation

Andrew Marin is a bold young man. Raised in a conservative evangelical church, he was shocked to have three of his best friends come out to him in college as gay, all in a matter of months. He was stunned.

His first reaction was to run. He was offended. He was confused. So he prayed and the answer he heard was to move toward his friends, not away.  He moved, literally, into Boystown in Chicago, a neighborhood predominantly made of people in the GLBT (Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender) community to listen and learn. He spent countless hours sitting in bars, restaurants, and churches talking to GLBT members about their view of God, church, sex, and more.

He now runs the Marin foundation that seeks to serve both churches and the GLBT community by explaining each to the other. Not an easy job.

Andrew's book, Love is an Orientation, is his effort to help evangelical Christians better understand the GLBT community and, overall, I think he does a good job of it. His goal isn't to make a statement: for or against homosexuality. His goal, as he states it, is to "elevate the conversation." I think a lot of the conversation in the life of the church needs to be "elevated", so I appreciate his heart and intention.

My only hesitancy in fully endorsing his book is that I didn't like his chapters explaining the five biblical texts that mention homosexuality. He tries to represent how some people read these scriptures in a way that allows for homosexuality. But I think he misses the mark. He seems to sidestep and underplay each text. Throughout most of the book he  does a good job of walking the center line, representing both conservative and liberal views. But in this chapter I feel that he doesn't fairly represent the conservative side. Maybe he doesn't think it's necessary, that the reader is familiar with the conservative view.  But for people new to the Bible I don't think he offers a full discussion. It can be misleading.

A fair treatment of scripture will not only look at the five texts that address homosexuality but the many texts that focus on how the Bible frames heterosexuality.   If you read the book, walk gently through this section. It might help know how others think but it's not a full discussion of the issue.

But other than this concern, the book has much to offer.  The church...on MANY issues, not just homosexuality, needs to listen more. Learn more. Love more. Love Is An Orientation will help you to do that.

I know some Christians think the gay issue is black and white. In one sense I agree. From my perspective (as well as the Covenant denomination that Cedarbrook is a part of)  sex is designed as a covenant celebration between a man and a woman. I'm settled on that. But the problem comes in what people FEEL. What do you do if you are only attracted to people of the same sex, no matter how much you try to not feel that way? People answer that question in many ways. And I think, out of respect and love for people, we need to listen to what everyone says. We don't have to agree. We can respectfully agree to disagree without reacting in fear, defensiveness, or judgment. Dialogue is a good thing. It keeps the lines of communication open.

My purpose here isn't to discuss the whole gay controversy but to review Love is an Orientation. I think it will push some Christians out of their comfort zone, but I've always found that to be a great place to learn. I recommend you read it. Just don't jump to conclusions based on what you read. Let it help you think more, pray more, and love more. - Remy

Monday, December 17, 2012

The weakness of God in Newtown, CT

I'm sure some pastors threw out their planned sermon on Sunday so they could talk about the tragedy in Connecticut. I didn't have to. My sermon happened to be about the question that many are asking right now: Where was God? If God is all-loving and all-powerful, then why doesn't he prevent tragedy from happening?

People asked the apostle Paul the same thing. My message takes an indepth look at the mystery of weakness and why God chooses to work with the weak and often reveal himself in weakness. DOWNLOAD Sunday's sermon here.

The Comparison Factor

One point I don't think I'll be getting to about weakness is the comparison factor. We often obsess about our weaknesses and God's "weakness" (the fact that he doesn't do WHAT we want WHEN we want it). But do you realize that weakness is something that results from comparison?

What I mean is...if you were the only person on earth would you still feel bad about your weaknesses?  Would you even call them a weakness? Or do you label something weak in comparison to someone else?

For example, I used to think that bench pressing 100 pounds was good until I went to the gym and saw other people pressing much more. I guess I must be weak.

We do the same with God. We might be happy to know that God is with us in the death of a loved one until we see our friends loved one healed. Then we say, Wait a minute God, what's up with that? Why are you weak to me and strong to my friend?

It's something to consider. How about this: what if you stop judging things as "weak" or "strong" for the next week and see if that helps. Don't make a judgment statement. Just accept things as they are and see how that changes things for you.

I hope it's a good week for you!  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Announcing Winter CBYOU Classes

Updated on 12/31/12.

Seventy people completed our survey for Cedarbrook YOUniversity, which REALLY helped know which classes to offer.  Here are the top eight categories of classes that people want offered:
  1. New Testament
  2. Marriage Enrichment
  3. Prayer and Devotional Practices
  4. How to Share Your Faith
  5. Discovering Your Gifts and Strengths
  6. God and Science
  7. Financial Advice
  8. Leadership Development

Based on this feedback, we will be offering classes on these eight areas in Winter and Spring terms.  Here is what we have slated for Winter term (Starts Tuesday, January 29nd).

1. Leading From the Inside Out … Developing Self-Leadership. (Dave Johnson) Everyone is  leader ... whether in your home, at work, in church on a team, or in a friendship ... at some time or another, we all lead something.   But, at the core of our leadership is "A Leader of One" ... ourselves!  In this course we will explore what it means to lead ourselves effectively using some tried and tested Biblical principles.  Included will be a look at a variety of very easy-to-learn models which will help us build a strong leadership foundation in our lives.  Building on this foundation, our goal is to come away from this course with a practical "Personal Leadership Development Plan" that will serve to guide our leadership opportunities in every avenue of life.

2. Parables: The Stories Jesus Told.  (Beverley Deyo-Svendsen and Bob Horan) Jesus didn’t lecture.  He taught by how he lived.  When he needed to teach using words, he told stories.  His stories were often funny, shocking, comforting and sometimes offensive.  This six-week small group will get together and reread some of Jesus’ parables.  We’ll discuss the historical, political contexts.  We may even argue over their ancient meaning and contemporary applications.  We will wrestle with parables of Judgment and grapple with tales of Grace.BYOB (Bring your own Bible) – no textbooks will be required.

3. Discover Your Gifts and Strengths. (Remy Diederich). The Bible teaches that God gifts every believer with certain natural talents as well as spiritual gifts. Do you know what yours are? When you discover these gifts and talents you will find your "sweetspot", that area of life where you get maximum return (joy and satisfaction) on your investment. You'll leave this class with greater self awareness and ability to make an impact in every aspect of your life.

4. Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey. (Facilitated by Jon Kroening and Mary Blanchard). Dave Ramsey is a leading expert on personal finances. This class will help you whether you are just starting out in life, upside down in your finances, or planning for retirement. Nine week class. Additional $89 fee for Ramsey's special curriculum. Read success stories from participants here.

5. Love & Respect Building Blocks. With video excerpts and study guide this course helps couples to go deeper into the life changing principles of Love and Respect. Anchored in scientific and biblical research, Dr. Eggerichs and his wife Sarah bring the Love and Respect strategies to audiences around the country. This course will explore how to resolve conflict, deal with the negative reactions, motivate each other by meeting each other's need, and gain an understanding on how to handle an indifferent or unresponsive partner.(Facilitated by Byron and Sarah Anderson). Registration $10 + study guide $10 = $20.  Read more about it here.

We hope to offer classes on prayer, God & Science, and How to Share Your Faith in the Spring term in addition to other classes.

Classes Start January 29 and go from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. All classes have a $10 registration fee. Some books are required depending on the class. Register early. Class size must be at least 8 people but not more than 15.  Online registration is now open.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Don't be part of the 98%

Every business needs to advertise. But what about churches. Should Cedarbrook advertise?

I read some research once that was shocking. They compared print, radio, television, and personal invitations to the cost invested. There was no comparison. 

The most effective way, BY FAR, was personal invitation...like 90% effective. And it's free!  The other methods were very poor in attracting people to church.

Because of that, Cedarbrook rarely advertises. I don't have anything against it. There are times when it might be appropriate (like creating general awareness that we exist). But in general it doesn't bring a very high return on investment.

But here's the bad news...even though personal invitations are free, few people invite their friends to church. Here's what one marketing expert reported:

82% of the unchurched are somewhat likely to attend church if invited. ...Unfortunately, only 2% of church going people ever invite someone to church in a given year. To make matters worse, 70% of unchurched people have never been invited to church in their whole lives. 

Are you part of the 2% or the other 98%?

There are two times of the year when most people will accept an invitation to church: Christmas and Easter. I hope you will walk across the room to invite that co-worker or schoolmate. My guess is they'll say yes. It could change their life!

We'll be passing out invitation cards this Sunday. Be thinking who you might give one to. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Advent Calendar

Some families like to use an Advent Calendar to keep their mind on the coming of Jesus throughout the month of December.  

I came across a calendar that you can download for free and print off on your computer. Or you can take it to a print shop and have it made as well. 

You can even purchase it if you don't want to do the work, but of course, you'll have to wait few days for it.

Download Advent Calendar here.


Monday, November 26, 2012

New Books for December

Our Cedarbooks Department is always bringing in new books to keep us updated with the latest books to help build your faith.  Here is what's new this month:

  • Anticipate, An Advent Experience ~ $8:00
  • NIV, The Quest Study Bible ~ $25.00 Adult, hardcover
  • Multiply by Francis Chan ~ $10.00
  • What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren ~ $15.00
  • Greater by Steven Furtick ~ $12.00
The featured book is Who Is This Man? by John Ortberg ~ $15.00.  I'll be drawing some material from this book for my Advent sermon series: The Weakness of God. Ortberg looks at the impact that Jesus has made throughout the centuries on a variety of areas from science to education..

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting Into the Bible

I've really dropped the ball on this blog. Sorry about that.  The best way to keep up on Cedarbrook happenings is through our weekly newsletter but not everyone gets that. I'd like to use this space to expand on some thoughts about Cedarbrook. I just need to get back into the habit.

Today I want to talk about a new Bible study I just started on Monday nights. It came about in response to all the people that recommitted their life to Christ after the Nick Hall meetings recently.  

Pastor Kyle and I offered a one-night "Jump Start Your Faith" meeting to give people ideas how to rekindle their faith. The main thing we recommended was to get into studying the Bible with other people. To help make that happen I offered to lead a four week study on the book of Philippians.

I just got home from our second meeting. I love it. I don't teach. I just ask a lot of questions as we read through one chapter a night.  I call it an "old fashion" Bible study because that's all we do...no personal checkins. Just straight reading and discussing the Bible.

We have two weeks left if you want to join in. But call me or email me first so I know you are coming. We meet from 7-8:30pm.

Here's a brief recap of what we've learned:

Paul is writing to the Philippian church from jail. He thinks he might die but not sure. But he's concerned for the Philippians. They are suffering for their faith and the church is falling apart. They are being selfish and arguing with each other instead of pulling together to help one another. They seem to think they can't make it spiritually without Paul's presence.  He tells them that they don't need him, they need God. It's God who began a good work in them. He is able to finish it.

Paul call's on them to live out their salvation in a manner that's worthy of Christ. He repeats a song that was probably sung in worship about how Jesus emptied himself divinity to come into the world as a servant to die for us. He calls on the people to humble themselves in the same way so unbelievers see their good works and give God the credit. He says he's willing to die on their behalf if they lived out their faith in this way.

I love seeing how the reading the Bible transforms people. We are offering Bible classes three times a year in Cedarbrook YOUniverstity (CBYOU) and I hope to offer other Bible studies in addition whenever possible. Email me if you want to know about future studies or even get in on this one yet.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

New Job Postings at Cedarbrook

This is just a quick note to let you know that Cedarbrook has three job postings right now.

  • Interim Worship Leader (part time)
  • Worship and Youth Director (full time)
  • Office Manager (.7 time)
We will also have a custodial position coming up in the near future.  You can download the job descriptions from our recent newsletter. 

Let us know if you have any questions. We all look forward to see who God adds to our staff.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Introducing Cedarbrook YOUniversity...

I'm excited to announce Cedarbrook YOUniversity. It will launch on Tuesday, October 2nd.

Cedarbrook YOUniversity is a new intimate "school" to help Cedarbrookers grow spiritually in four areas:

  1. Growth - cultivates personal and spiritual strengths.
  2. Bible - builds biblical understanding and relevance.
  3. Community - provides support while addressing life’s ups and downs.
  4. Stages -    guidance and encouragement across various life stages.
The classes scheduled to represent these four areas this fall are:
  • Starting Point - a two semester class that explores the Bible and faith for the spiritual beginner.
  • How to Study Your Bible - an introductory class for people who don't want the  Bible to be a stranger.
  • Healing the Hurts of Your Past - a book study on pastor Remy's book.
  • Griefshare - a two semester class helping people process their grief.
  • Guardrails - a class that helps you put up guardrails to guard your marriage and other relationships in life.

Classes will last six weeks and are limited to fifteen people to help facilitate discussion and develop a sense of community.  There will be three semesters and the summer will have no classes. Cost is  $10 per class covering administration costs and basic materials. Any books are additional.

We will be publishing a brochure in September to register. Spread the word!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Celebrating Family

My mom, sister and brother-in-law
getting in to the RV to head west.
In case you haven't been around, neither have I!  I was gone for two whole weeks, longer than I've ever been away from Cedarbrook. I have always worked to only miss one Sunday at a time but I had a special situation. My mom held one last reunion  (she's 93 and aging rapidly) the week of July 4th. Following that I helped move her from Tampa to Phoenix in a RV. Both events were once in a life time events.

Both events were very meaningful to me. My family has always been separated by distance. My siblings moved to different states and I've never gotten to know their children well. I've always regretted that but the reunion really helped get us all caught up. As I get older I'd really like to be more connected to them, not less.

Moving my mom proved to be more than we bargained for. There's really no easy way to move a frail 93 year old woman cross country. We chose the RV thinking it would be less stress than a plane ride. But when we hit Santa Fe (7000 feet) her breathing got very labored and we had to take her to the Emergency Room. The rest of the trip was more like a survival mission with two more stops at ER's in other towns. But we finally got her to her new home where she is trying to get her strength back.

The whole trip made me thankful for many reasons. We moved her because my siblings and I are committed to mom ending her days with dignity and her Florida assisted living home wasn't providing that. Working with my siblings to make this happen was rewarding. I'm proud of our hard work on this. We moved her to a very small (ten person) home that looks more like a bed and breakfast than a care facility. It made me thankful to my dad (deceased) for his hard work and savings that made something like this possible. I know he'd be happy to see us doing this for mom.

What makes me especially happy is that there was a time when I thought my family would never be close. Everyone moved away and we lived separate lives. But when my dad died we decided to use some of his savings to have an annual reunion with my mom and siblings (not with all 36). Those reunions over the past twelve years have brought us together.

I mention this as a way to encourage you with your family.  It's so easy to let the relationships slip away...especially when distance is involved. But maybe you can establish some traditions that will bring you back together in meaningful ways. When life is all said and done it's really about our relationships. And family is at the top of that list.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Prayer Trail is Up and Running (or maybe walking)

I walked our new prayer trail before the first service on Sunday. It was a beautiful morning to get alone with God. The view from the ridge is great...surprising how far you can see.

Jayne Rechtzigel gets a lesson
 from Dave Johnson
But it got me thinking about the genesis of the idea for a trail. Some people might wonder what all the interest is about in a prayer trail. You might wonder what a prayer trail even is. So let me back up and explain...

Way back before Cedarbrook was even an official church we had a small group of about eight people. We studied a book that covered seven ways that people make a connection with God. I can't remember what all the ways were...I think one was through service. One was more intellectual, like by reading. But I know that one was in creation. In fact, of the eight people in the group I think six of us said that was the primary way we connect with God.

Remy teaches himself how to  drive a bobcat
by trial and error.
I can remember saying...if that is the primary way of connecting to God for such a majority of people it's funny that churches don't capitalize on this more. And then I said...if we ever are able to buy land and build wouldn't it be nice to have a trail that people could walk to connect with God?

Everyone agreed but I'm sure it seemed like a pipe dream at the time since we hadn't even started holding services.  Fast forward ten years. We not only have a church but  we have  a building and our own brand spanking new prayer trail!  I love seeing dreams become reality!  You never know what can  happen when you Dream BIG!

This trail isn't just for Cedarbrookers. It's our gift to the community. Invite your friends. We will only allow Cedarbrookers to offer memorials (simply due to the limitation of space) but anyone can use the trail; and they don't have to pray either!  But my guess is that by the time they walk the half mile and read the signs that they will have offered a prayer after all.

Yet to come are three large crosses on the hill, seven stations signs with a scripture (for example; comfort, guidance, healing, restoration, hope, etc.), and more  landscape.  We are still working on how to manage memorials. But the idea is that Cedarbrookers can purchase a plant or tree (from our list of preapproved plants) and have it planted with a sign noting a loved one. We will publish information on this as the details are worked out.

Also, we are working on a brochure to help guide people through the prayer stations and suggest  how they might use the trail to pray.

Now...get out there and enjoy it and tell a friend!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

An Open Mind is a Wonderful Thing

Note; this post is a repost from my personal blog at readingremy.com. I called it "Delete, Discredit or Diaglogue: What do you do? After posting it I thought it was a good refection of the kind of culture that I have worked at creating at Cedarbrook. I want us to be dialoguers!

I got an interesting reply back from a Facebook Page that I posted on. It was for a site that promotes mental health. It was the post about the missing piece to the shame puzzle. They strongly disagreed with my take saying that my insistence on God being at the heart of self-worth was harsh.
I wrote back and explained myself a little more but thanked them for their feedback. I told them that they could have just hit “delete” but they chose to respectfully reply with their concern. Imagine that!
I just don’t see a lot of that these days.  It seems that people are quick to delete or discredit someone. But few will engage in dialogue. That’s too bad.  I gain so much when people push back on what I say.  Ideas come quickly to me and I often become quite passionate about them. I NEED people  to  push back to take off the rough edges to what I say and bring the perspective that  I often lack.
When you read or hear a new idea it’s easy to  ”hit” DELETE, isn’t it?  You don’t like it. It doesn’t fit with your world view. Boom. It’s gone.  That might be a good idea. Deleting is a reality in our informationally overloaded world.  You just don’t have time to entertain every idea. And some ideas are just bad! It’s not worth spending any time with it.
But sometimes we should pause, listen/ read and consider a new thought.  We can get stuck in ruts. We can assume that we know all there is to know.  Maybe this new idea is God’s gift to open you to  new thinking…something that will broaden your perspective and enrich you…bring you greater perspective and balance.
Some people aren’t satisfied with hitting delete. They have to  DISCREDIT.  When they read a blog it’s like they are out for target practice. They don’t care what they shoot. They just want to shoot at something. They don’t take into consideration what the person  is really saying. They jump to conclusions and start firing. They seem to find joy in tearing others down and positioning themselves as the expert. You see this a lot in politics and religion. When I hear, see or read a tone of disrespect I turn it off.  I can’t watch shows where people are ripping into each other or read blog comments that do the same. It’s offensive. (read a Brene Brown post on people attacking her).
But DIALOGUE is a good thing. You don’t have to agree with me. In fact, I don’t want everyone agreeing with me. How boring. I only see a fraction of the truth. I bet you have something that you can add to what I’ve got to make it better.  I don’t have to be all wrong for you to be right. We can both see parts of the big picture.  Our two ideas might seem to contradict each other but not necessarily. Let’s not jump to judge. Let’s just explore each others perspective.
You don’t have to be like me, think like me, look like me, believe like me, etc. to have something valuable to share. Some of the best insights come from people totally opposite from me. Your input doesn’t offend me. It challenges me. It makes me a better person.
This post is a simple invitation to dialogue…not just with me…with everyone. Start a conversation and explore an idea without the need to label the other person’s idea as wrong. Talk until you think you’ve exhausted the idea. And then look for someone else to include in the conversation. I bet they’ll have ideas the two of you never thought about.
The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one  person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Indeed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

We Did It! - One Million Dollars!

If you missed Sunday's announcement we raised  
for our Free to Reach More Campaign with 161 households pledging. We added about 50 households the past few weeks and that really makes me happy...30 more than our first campaign.  

This means so much to me. It means that the majority of people that attend Cedarbrook understand and embrace our vision...with passion!  We are not content to sit back and do "church as usual". We want to take our experience to a new level by making an impact on the lives of people in our church, our community and in our world.

Thanks so much for not being afraid to talk about money for six weeks and allow me to challenge you to sacrifice again for the sake of bringing God's kingdom from heaven to earth. It's such a privilege to lead a community that wants to make a difference.

Raising this much enables us to...
  • not cut staff or ministry
  • build the prayer trail, amphitheater and playground
  • save hundreds of dollars on interest
  • focus on ministry and not on a mortgage
Thanks so much to all the volunteers who stepped up to organize this campaign. Our staff could have NEVER done it alone. You all made it happen and I think you will agree that it was inspiring and even fun!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Meeting God By Serving Others

I really enjoyed this mornings service. I interviewed Joe Draxler and the team that went to Haiti, Pastor Kyle via Skype down in New Orleans, and my daughter Becca, via Skype from Bangkok, Thailand.  Pretty amazing to think that we have people covering the globe.

I started the service with a reading from Henri Nouwen. He talked about how we encounter God in service because God is a servant by nature. He revealed himself as a servant of the world. So when we follow him into service we encounter God in a special way.

As Tevis closed us off with the Steven Curtis song (Yours) about ministering around the world I was struck by how we are actually doing that. Because of technology and generous giving and willing hearts, we are ministering hope around the world. The song said that the world is God's and, by association, that means that the world is ours. Because we are God's children we have the responsibility of caring for the world he created.

In the next few weeks we are sending people to Honduras, The Czech Republic, Nicarauga and working on a relief trip for tornado victims in Indiana. So...what is happening here?  These trips are not coming out of any strategic initiative by staff or LEAD team. They are happening because people are seizing an opportunity and going. This is a God thing. I LOVE it!

Keep it up!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A New Paradigm for Church

I'm convinced that we are in the midst of a second church reformation. In  ten years churches won't look at all what they look like now.  They will cease to be weekly meetings that merely perform religious rituals and they will become 24/7 ministry centers. Sunday morning will simply be times of celebration for what went on the other six days of the week.

Seth Godin sees the same thing happening in the business world. We've seen institutions crumble and be wholly replaced. This is what Seth has to say...

The definition of a revolution: it destroys the perfect and enables the impossible.

The music business was perfect. Radio, record chains, Rolling Stone magazine, the senior prom, limited access to recording studios, the replaceable nature of the LP, the baby boomers... it all added up to a business that seemed perfect, one that could run for ever and ever.

The digital revolution destroyed this perfect business while enabling the seemingly impossible: easy access to the market by new musicians, a cosmic jukebox of just about every song ever recorded, music as a social connector...

If you are love with the perfect, prepare to see it swept away. If you are able to dream of the impossible, it just might happen.

Prepare to see "church as usual" swept away. Now let's dream the impossible.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Grow in the Grace of Giving

We continue in our capital campaign. Last night we announced that $404,000 has already been pledged by 15 people. That's great news. But many others are still praying and asking God what to do. Our 20 Day devotional is meant to help us with the decision. This is an excerpt from today's message...

"Now as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in the love we inspired in you - see that you abound in this gracious work of giving also. I am not speaking this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love." (2 Corinthians 8:7-8)

...giving is a test of the heart in action, a test of the genuineness of love. 

Giving is where what we believe gets real.

Now is the time to ask another question: "OK Lord, what have You equipped me and blessed me to do?" What resources do I have to give? How can I think creatively about giving - beyond the narrow box of my income and expenses - in order to give of myself fully? Are there assets beyond my monthly income that I can give? Can I create new resources to give with my talents, gifts, and time? Does my faith commitment lead me to change other priorities in my life, reducing spending and thus freeing resources for giving?

Read the full devotional here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Doing God's Good Will...

Excerpt from Day 11 of the 20 Day Devotional - 

We are asking God to show us how he can use us to help support his vision through Cedarbrook. 

The devotional says...

A stewardship decision is a prayerful commitment. A stewardship decision invites God to the dialogue and involves God in the discussion. A stewardship decision becomes much more than just my sense of goodwill... it means discovering and acting within a sense of God's goodwill.

Pray...Lord, I want to honor Your name. Speak to me! Let Your will be done ... in me and through me. Let Your kingdom come ... here in my life. 

Read the full devotion here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

A Meaningful Sacrifice

From Day 7 of the 20 Day Devotional...

Jesus watched people giving their financial gifts at the temple. Many men dropped in large gifts. But one woman dropped in only two coins. Jesus said that the largest gift was from the woman because she gave everything she had. The devotional conncludes...

Commitments are not about equal gifts, but about an equal sense of sacrifice. Not everyone has the ability (the resources) to make a multi-million dollar gift; but every person does have the ability and the opportunity to meaningfully invest themselves in what God is doing in their church. In terms of the commitment, rather than the amount,...ask yourself this question... would God be honored if every person in this church made a sacrifice equal to my own?

Read the full devotional here.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Blessing the Small Gift

From Friday's devotional...

Every miracle begins with a person - with a person making a gift of the best they can offer and asking Jesus to bless and to use that gift.  Expect a miracle.  The need may seem overwhelming.  Your gift may appear to be inadequate to cover all of the need.  But all Jesus asks is the best that you can offer.  When you give the best that you can to Jesus, then expect a miracle. 

There is no gift too small in God's eyes. God blesses every gift for his glory. We may not be able to give equal amounts but in God's kingdom the small gift receives the same blessing as the big gift if they are both motivated by love and sacrifice. God dignifies the poor in this way. 

Don't dismiss your opportunity to give just because it doesn't seem like much. That's a human view. From God's perspective he sees your heart and he will bless you for giving. You are like God when you give sacrificially. The amount doesn't matter. Giving isn't just for the rich. God is an equal opportunity blesser!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Free to Reach More

Cedarbrook launched a six week adventure last Sunday. We are asking God to raise up a million dollars to pay off our debt. We want to be free of our debt so we can reach more people with new kinds of ministry. We also want to build three outdoor projects; a playground/picnic area, an amphitheater and a prayer trail.  If possible, we'd like to hire another staff person (to learn more go to freetoreachmore.org).

We are starting the campaign with a 20 day devotional. I've been briefly commenting on our facebook page each day and decided to post here as well. You can sign up for the email devotionals here.

From Thursday's devotional entry...
...recognizing God's claim over your life,...wake up and listen for God's own voice.  There is a word from the Lord for you in this campaign.  There is a God-given vision for your church in this campaign.  "Speak to me Lord.  I am your servant.  I am listening to hear from You."

I'm convinced that this campaign is not so much about raising money as it is about hearing from God a fresh call about a new kind of paradigm for ministry. I'm committed to listen. Are you? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sabbath Means to Stop

On Sunday I started a new series on The Sabbath. It's not a topic we hear a lot about. But I believe the message of Sabbath is needed now more than ever. Sabbath is God's antidote to stress.

I quoted Dr. Richard Swenson's assessment of stress. He said that stress comes because progress always leads to profusion. Progress leads to a profusion of options and most of us aren't very good at saying "no" so we try to do it all. But God calls us in Sabbath to cease. To stop. And to redirect ourselves to what really matters.

I came across an article in the Harvard Business Review that touches on a few tips to help us free up time. You can  click the link below to read the full article but here are the five things it suggest to stop doing...

Five Things to You Should Stop in 2012
1. Checking your email all the time. Set up timeframes in the day rather than continully stopping to check it.
2. Mindless Traditions. Don't keep doing traditions (Christmas cards?) if you are doing them merely out of obligation.
3. Reading annoying things. Just because someone sent you an email or a newsletter or magazine comes your way it's not something you have to read. Hit delete or toss it in the garbage without guilt.
4. Work that's not worth it. It's okay to turn down jobs that have no return or simply drain  you.
5. Making things more complicated than they should be. Sometimes people want to experiment on you. Rather than take the time to perfect and idea they let you be the guinea pig. Don't fall for it. Tell them to come back when the bugs are worked out.

The point is...we live in a busy culture. If you don't control the flow of input into your life it will control you. If you have any hope of finding Sabbath you need to start saying "no" and saying it regularly. Read article here.