Are you owning your influence?
Easter is less than a month away, April 20th. I will not lie, I love Easter. The season, the contagious joy, and the message of eternal life are what our faith is all about. There is no better time to offer faith to someone in your life than Easter. People are uniquely spiritually receptive to consider faith and a visit to church.
Here is how to own your influence during this important faith season leading up to Easter. First, make every effort to be in worship at Big Life in the coming weeks and on Easter Sunday. You will be glad that you did. Second, let a friend, coworker or family member know you are saving them a seat on Easter Sunday. Tell them a little about Big Life C.C. has made a difference to you. Why do you think they will like it?
Finally, ask God for a refreshing of your faith, a resurrection. I have heard from many of you that the Messages on our influence at home and work and starting to use the Bible were some things you needed to hear and live into. These are resurrection habits that will bring new life to your faith and to others. While we believe Jesus rose from the dead 2000 years ago, we also believe he is still raising people from death to life today. Are you in need a resurrection this Easter? Ask God to bring to life parts of you that you thought would never live again.
Easter is the core of what our faith is all about. New life, fresh hope, and enduring faith for any who will believe. Make plans to worship April 20th with your family and friends at Big Life Community Church.
This Sunday we wrap up our series "Outsourcing." You will not want to miss this final call to action. We look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9:30 or 11:00 AM!
It would be easy to interpret the church's celebration of Saint Patrick as just about Irish/ Celtic ethnicity. But the real reason is far closer to the heart of this church's ministry!
Saint Patrick was not Irish; he was born in England. However at the age of 16, he was kidnapped and enslaved by Celtic raiders from Ireland. The Irish natives were a violent, clan-based people, with no Christian influence or heritage, rather a Druid / Celtic polytheistic religion that even utilized human sacrifice. Patrick later described that the time he spent as a slave was when his faith turned to Jesus and solidified, on the fields shepherding as a captive, and he converted to and devoted himself to Christ. In his early 20's he fled captivity and found passage on a ship back to Britain to study Christianity.
However, after becoming a clergyman in England, he felt led to return to Ireland to evangelize to the very people who had enslaved him. He used his early life challenge as God's tools. Fluent and familiar with their wild culture, he baptized many across Ireland, shared Jesus with the native peoples. He was highly creative in engaging the Celtic traditions and Druid habits into incorporation with Christian symbols and theology. Though little formal history survives, the common stories about his work are extraordinary in their scope and creative reach to share the Gospel.
In the entire history of Christianity, there are few missionaries with the impact of Saint Patrick. That is why we celebrate and enjoy the holiday in remembrance of one of the true evangelists for Jesus.
Saint Patrick's Prayer
As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Are you saying "no" when you could say "yes"?
Each year it seems that winter makes a serious attempt to kill us. We've all enjoyed the welcomed relief of a few warmer days. Even the snowstorm that starts to melt away the same day announces the inevitable change towards spring, and the promise that life will go on.
However, with the warmer weather comes my guilt about not being in shape. At some point in the next few weeks, on a reasonably mild day, I will lace up my shoes, throw on a hoodie, and attempt what barely resembles running.
The first half mile will be the worst. I will say to myself "I can't do this. Why not just stop. Good enough - at least I tried. I can't keep going because I'm too old, and it hurts my heart, and my will is not in order. etc" Yet somehow in spite of the fear and discouragement, I will keep going. And I will be glad I did. I can already anticipate the delight of my body getting stronger, increasing my heart rate, stretching myself, and being glad I did power through the objections. Knowing that I could have said "No" makes the "Yes" even more powerful.
In this series called "Outsourcing" we are talking about all the says we can say "YES" to God. So far we have talked about the importance of owning our worship life, being present to God's presence, as well as the need to grow in wisdom, to discern what to do when we do not know what to do. We are also inviting each person to say yes to trusting God, to "try the tithe" during Lent as we build towards Easter.
For each of these habits, generosity, worship and wisdom, we have the chance to say "no". We can each believe the voice of the enemy that inevitably tries to prevent us from moving towards a better, more abundant life with God. Just as I hear when I attempt to run, we will likely each hear these lies, "stop, why try?, this is too much, you can't do it". Yet when we break through that fear and choose trust in God, it makes the "yes" we give to God all the more satisfying.
This week offer God a big "YES". It may be in worship, wisdom, or generosity. It might be in taking up the courage to invite someone to worship and faith. You likely know what it is already from that still, small voice within. Push through the resistance and trust in God who is ready to join us and strengthen us in the exercising of our faith.
Why not try the tithe?
That was my encouragement this past weekend as we move into Lent, which started . Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter. For hundreds of years the church has used this as a time of spiritual preparation for celebrate Easter. Many people "give up" something, like meat on Fridays, coffee, chocolate or reruns of the Bachelor. I want to encourage you to do that if it is meaningful to your faith, while also encouraging you to "take up" something. For the next six weeks why not "try the tithe?"
Tithing is the biblical practice of giving 10% of what you make to God. If this is new to you, here is how you start. Take 10% of what you take home after taxes and place that in the offering each week at a gift to God. If you bring home roughly 600 dollars a week, a tithe is 60 dollars. If you make 2,200 dollars a week, a tithe is 220 dollars. If you make 10,000 dollars a week, please contact me personally. If you try the tithe for the next six weeks several things will happen.
First, you will feel the stretch and likely a dose of fear early on. Just like the first few steps of a jog or a workout you will wonder "should I even try this?" And the enemy will try to convince you the numbers won't add up. This is natural.
But second, you will start to see God at work. God has a habit of taking full responsibility of the lives that are fully entrusted to him. Generosity is the toughest arena of life for many of us to trust God. Tackle this one and you will be amazed at the work of God - you will get to see God's work in your day to day life in the most obvious ways.
Third, after a little bit of seeing God at work in your life and finances, you will want to do more - very few people who tithe JUST tithe. That is the secret of the Christian model of generosity. Nothing feels or lives God's power better than out-giving where you once were - and no one believes it until they experience it!