Posted by: Scott | May 10, 2010

Prayers that deliver…twins!

This morning while reading Genesis 25, I saw Isaac pray for his “barren wife” and God opened her womb and she delivered…twins! How many times have you and I prayed and received nothing…a lot! What is the difference between Isaac and us…or just me? In this instance Isaac was praying according to the will of  God. Remember Abraham was told he would have as many offspring as the number of sand on the seashore. Well…he only had one child (through Sarah) and that was Isaac. If the promise was to come true…it had to come true through Isaac! And it did!

Isaac prayed because of the promise made to his dad by his God! Are you and I praying according to the will of God? Are we praying according to the promises of God made to us?

What has God promised you? For one, He has promised all of Himself! The Holy Spirit of God is promised to every Christ follower…every single one. The evidence of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control! If you are weak in one of theses areas don’t try harder or exercise it like a muscle…ask God through his Spirit to manifest Himself through one of the traits you need. It is God’s will that you possess these qualities.

Loving Reading through Genesis!

If you do not have a reading plan for the Bible, I encourage you to follow ours at http://www.eastridgefamily.com.

Crazy Love Impressions
“The world needs Christians who don’t tolerate the complacency of their own lives”
-Francis Chan

How complacent is the church of today? How complacent am I? I love comfort, security
and peaceful situations. But when I truly look at the scriptures, I see a life (Jesus’) and
other lives where the gospel was anything but comfortable, secure and peaceful. I DO
SEE passion, zeal, boldness, and an all out love for Jesus and His Kingdom.

I see the Christian Life as it was intended. Not based on rituals but a life that flows from an all out love for God…and it makes no sense to the world. Then why do Christian’s
lives makes sense to so many non-believers? The gospel goes against the value system of the world. We are to love our enemies; we are to give not out of abundance but out of our heart; we are to love our neighbors as ourselves: we are to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind…love Him more than we love our own families. What would happen if the church literally loved this deep? What if we actually followed the scriptures as they were written and not as we have interrupted them? Just one teaching of Jesus, the Golden rule, could change the community we live in if every believer in the just church were to truly practice it.

But again it comes down to the heart. Who or what has my heart? What does my heart desire above all else? Does it desire acceptance of others above an abandoned life or does it desire a deeper affection for God and His plan for the world?

The abandonment of self provides the freedom to serve and to live life…to live and experience Jesus’ life in me. I have no idea what the next move is. I have no idea who or what it will involve. I have no idea how much money it will cost me. But I do know there is in me a voice that says this why I am here. “Trust me. Love me. Watch what I am doing. Let me do it through you”.

As I read Crazy Love I kept having the thoughts, “I knew it could be this way”. I have always felt the scriptures could be taken literally. I always felt we have “Americanized” the scriptures way too much. Now we see what the church could be…a life giving force to a community in desperate need of the good news of the gospel in word and action.

And it all flows out of my love for God…my abandonment of self and my desire to allow Jesus to live through me.

Posted by: Scott | March 16, 2010

Journal Entry October 14th, 2009

Just beginning my 4th Moleskine journal. Why do I use “Moleskine”…well…it is what Paul used to write much of the New testament. I like to believe that anyway.

Whenever I finish a journal, I like to review it and see where the Lord has taken me or what he has spoken to me or see where my heart was. The following entry was from the first day of of my last journal:

10/ 14/09

Scriptures for the day:
Proverbs 27
“Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;”

Lord I only want to boast about what you have done…only what to boast about your goals and desires for Your church…only want to boast in You. Thank you for reminding me to know the condition of my finances.

Tozer daily devotional:
“We need to consider that many Christians never get beyond Bethel (meaning the “house of God”). God is in their thoughts but He has not been given first place. Faithfulness to the local church is a good thing; but when it becomes so large and important that it hides God from our eyes, it may become a good thing wrongly used.”
-A.W. Tozer

Lord, thank you for this reminder. I do believe many Christians and churches in America have this problem- a relationship with the church and not with you.

“…the church was never intended to be a substitute for God.” – A.W. Tozer

I believe the reason many of us can’t hear from God is because we have the local church in His place in our hearts. We are more committed to the church than we are to Him. Therefore, I believe, we can’t hear Him. To prepare for a work of God He must be the center of our heart! He must be first! Not our church, not our small group, not our ministry, not our attendance…let nothing replace Him as the center of our lives.

The church if not careful…may become an idol.

End of entry.

Why did I share this with you? Because as I begin a new journal I find my heart right back here. Am concerned that many believers love the church more than they love God. I love church. I love its design. But at times in my own life it became an idol. The command was to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart,  with all of your soul and with all of your mind.” Do you love God…above all else?

Posted by: Scott | March 4, 2010

The Sex Talk: The Follow Up

God is doing amazing things in our church body! He is continually revealing His character to us and transforming us into the likeness of His Son…which is His plan.

He is also ministering to us in our individual lives and our marriages…and even on specific issues such as sexuality.

Last week’s message was intended to be a standalone message. But…due to the response from last week there will be a follow up message. I have received emails and had conversations about specific issues which will be dealt with this Sunday. And guess what…God’s word addresses these issues! If you want to read ahead go to 1 Cor. 7:1-5.

Some of the issues:
• What if we physically can’t have sex?
• Why does the bible think sex is important?
• Is it really my responsibility to have sex?

So this week I encourage you more than I did last week to send your teens to The Point (www.eastridgefamily.org/thepoint) and your children to Etown (www.eastridgefamily.org/etown ) .
By the way, The Point will not be discussing sex this week.

Tough subject, but our Lord deemed it necessary to include it in His Word. He cares about every area of our life!

We have updated our resource list for further help on the website. Go to http://www.eastridgefamily.org/thesextalk.

Posted by: Scott | February 25, 2010

Just sayin…

Why do we do what we do? Why are things different? What are driving the changes?

I hear questions or statements like this from time to time. They are always spoken in a positive manner but they reflect the changes that have taken place at Eastridge over the last few years.

I can honestly tell you that I am not trying to change this place. The elders are not trying to change this place. We have surrendered the leading of this Church to the Lord. It is not ours. We have made a commitment to follow Him.

Now here is my philosophy about church. It should always exalt the Lord Jesus and His Word. I believe that every Christ follower should exalt Jesus in every aspect of his or her life. It is my desire to tear down every system that builds a dependency on man or formulas. If we have a service or program in place…then it should create a dependency on Jesus. It should encourage the growth of the relationship between the Christ follower and Jesus.

I am not about marketing the Church. We do minimal marketing (for those believers new to the area) . We have a web site and…that might be it. Every Christ follower is an advertisement for Jesus Christ. When we all live dependently upon Him, He is exalted and seen in our lives. He does His own marketing.

Just Sayin…

Posted by: Scott | February 25, 2010

Sunday’s Sermon On Sex

Dear Church,

I wanted to give you a heads up about this Sunday’s messages. Both the adult service and the teen service will be addressing the topic of sex, our culture and our calling. Our text will be 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8. The reason for letting you know in advance is because some of you bring your children and teens into the service. We will be talking about very mature matters. The teen service will also be discussing this topic but at a more appropriate age level.

I do not want you to be embarrassed or surprised at the subject matter.

If your children have not experienced E-town (www.eastridgefamily.org/etown), this would be a great opportunity. Or if you have teens that have not experienced The Point (www.eastridgefamily.org/thepoint), again, this would be a great opportunity.

Now in order to prepare for these messages you can be praying God would increase our desire for Him and for purity. Pray we all would hear Him speak and respond as one body to the call of sexual purity.

Looking forward to what God is going to do in our lives.

Posted by: Scott | December 9, 2009

I Admit…Self-Serving

Many times throughout the year people will ask me how they can pray for me. You would think a pastor would jump at the chance to have someone pray for him. WRONG. We are suppose to be praying for others and we have this fear of coming across as self-serving. After reading a blog from a fellow pastor (Perry Noble), I am busting through the fear of seeming self-serving.

If you would, here is how you can pray for me in 2010 (or your pastor if you attend another church)…

Spiritually

  • Pray for my walk with God to be healthy and strong and that my heart would have no will of its own but open to His will at all times.
  • Pray for me to be filled with the Spirit at all times.
  • Pray for purity and humility.

My Health

  • (A little transparency here) I like food. I like it a lot. I have the blood pressure and cholesterol meds to prove it. Pray my body will honor the Lord.

Marriage

  • Pray for protection against business, lack of communication and all temptations.
  • Pray we constantly make time for each other.
  • Pray Tracy feels pursued by me.

My Boys

  • Pray for their safety (two are driving).
  • Pray they will be hungry for the Word and will of God.
  • Pray I will raise them in a way they know they have what it takes to be a godly man.

My Preaching

  • Pray I will say what Jesus wants me to say.
  • Pray I will be doctrinally sound.
  • Pray it produces fruit (salvation and life change).

Leadership

  • Pray for the ability to raise the leadership lids in my life.
  • Pray for greater discernment.
  • Pray I reflect Jesus in my leadership.

Ok… that was definitely self serving…but I desire these to be answered prayers in my life.  Will you join me in praying… for me?

Posted by: Scott | November 24, 2009

Images From Sunday

This past Sunday I saw…

  • A couple leave laughing and talking. A few months ago I saw the same couple not able to speak to each other.
  • A friend of mine waiting on her husband in the foyer. They have been separated for the last four months. Now they are coming to church.
  • Six adults walk forward as new creations in Christ.
  • A couple get married outside during the second service. They met online and realized they both went to church at Eastridge. They wanted to be married where they saw each other for the first time. 
  • A Messianic Jewish Rabbi preaching in a pulpit in the middle of the Bible Belt.

I need to not preach more often!

Posted by: Scott | November 16, 2009

On my Heart!

Before I could begin focusing on Sunday’s message, I had you on my heart this morning and felt I needed to communicate several things with you:

  1. Rest. With all the great results that are coming in from the campaign let’s admit something…it was tiring. Rest. It is ok. Breathe.
  2. Use the spiritual discipline of celebrating. Make a mental choice that you are going to find things to be thankful for during this season. Then express your gratitude towards God. On every hour look around and find one thing to be thankful for and tell God “Thank you for_________”.
  3. Be determined to let Christmas be fresh to you this year. Begin asking the Lord to refocus your mind on the Christmas message. Be determined to be with people throughout the Christmas season. We have three events planned to help with this: Wednesday December 2nd Annual Christmas Party for all who volunteer (even if it was just once) and Wednesday December 9th a Christmas program put on by “Restoration” and finally our Christmas Eve services. The Christmas eve service will be focused on finding and celebrating the true message of Christmas. Our prayer for the Christmas Eve service is to experience the fullness of Jesus and His place in our lives and in our world.
  4. Small groups in 2010. We are going to encourage you to meet every other week (beginning February 7th). Some groups may feel they can meet every week…that is up to you. But for this season and after listening to groups as the campaign came to and end, we feel it is best to encourage you to meet every other week. I should have mentioned that in my previous email.
  5. Three or four have asked about 863. It will resume in January.

The last thing I want to share with you is this…what drives the decision making here at Eastridge. Two years ago our focus became “Loving God, Loving People, Serving Others”. That is a great description of what every believer should look like. But… what we needed was  a more focused vision statement. We, the elders, agreed that the vision for the Lord’s church has not changed in 2000 years. He commanded that we make disciples. He is not changed it. (Matthew 28:18-20).

We adopted the following statement as our vision statement:

Eastridge Community Church exists to make disciples who follow Jesus Christ.

 

That one statement is driving us in all our decisions. It helps us measure the programs, ministries of the church and new ideas. All we have to ask is “is it helping believers follow Jesus Christ? Are they becoming disciples of Jesus? If so, then they should look more like Jesus.”

Our focus in 2010 will be “making disciples who follow Jesus Christ”. What should it result in? Loving the Lord our God with all of heart, and all of our soul and with all of our mind and all of our strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. (Mathew 22:37-39)

Plans may change but vision should never change…because it is His vision.

Church, I love Jesus Christ. I love the Father. I love the Holy Spirit. I love His church and His mission for the church. I cannot think of anything greater to give our lives to. When this world come to an end the Church will be the only surviving entity. We will live with Jesus forever.  

What is your role? You are a member of His church…not just Eastridge…but Jesus’ church that has been around for centuries. You are responsible as for its mission. What can you do? Be determined to become like Jesus. Develop time with the Lord in His word. Learn to walk in the fullness of Him. Pray to be filled by His Spirit on a daily basis. Pray for the completion of His vision.

Church I love you. I pray for you daily. Let’s pray together “Not my will but Thy will be done.”

Posted by: Scott | November 16, 2009

What’s Next?

Thank you to all who participated and served in the Life’s Healing Choices campaign. We are very excited with what God has done and is doing. You will hear more about that later.

BUT…the question is now being asked “What’s next”?

Gary Thompson and the small group leadership team have been working very diligently to come up with a system that promotes growth in the Lord and at the same time allows those new to the church to be involved almost immediately in the church body.

You need to be aware of the changes so please take time to read the following from the Small Groups Leadership team.

Eastridge Community Church
2010 Small Groups Plan

Where are we going with small groups?

Reformat groups to a semester basis. 2 semesters (Feb-May, and Mid Aug/Sept-Nov) of group meeting and then two break periods (Thanksgiving thru New Years, and June thru July).

Why go to a semester basis?
 People are more willing to sign up/participate for a shorter duration; means increased participation
 Clearly defined start time and end time for groups
 Should be easier to recruit leaders
 Should be easier to make new friends
 Allows new people to get in on ground level each semester
 Easier/better marketing (such as was done under “Life’s Healing Choices” campaigns because every semester is a campaign; creates excitement
 Easier to keep groups from becoming inward because of the structure
 Fits into the rhythm of life…work hard, and then take a break; examples of this are school, sleep, exercise, etc.
 Can offer different types of groups that focus on a subject/interest(parenting, finances, marriage, end times) rather than solely a relationship
 Leaders/groups do not get stagnate as easily
 Makes placement easier because groups will be clearly closed and open
 This is the pattern for successful groups at ECC right now-CR Step Studies, Ladies Bible Studies, Discover Group preschool, Life’s Healing Choices, “Daniel” Fast, etc. All the above have a definite start time and end time.

2 Big questions…
1. Can I stay with my friends? Yes. You will be free to sign up for whatever group that you want to participate in just as we did for “Life’s Healing Choices”. You will decide what group that you want to be by looking at the small group directory(the sheet with all the group descriptions) and signing up on the Connect Card. The group directory will have the leader’s name, day that they will meet, address, time, and what they are studying. All of this will assist you in making a decision.

2. What do we do during the breaks? Take a break, have an outing/party with your group, do a service project with your group. It is up to you. We’ll start the group process all over again next semester.

Gary and the Small Group leadership team coordinated all of our LHC groups. We have already experienced this with format with Life’s Healing Choices. We saw 600+ adults in groups. Never have we had that many in small group studies or bible study groups. Never have we experienced the number of people coming to faith in Christ and being baptized. Never have we heard as many stories of growth in their walk with Christ.

Right now the most important thing you can do is pray. Pray every believer will follow the Lord’s leading in their life. Pray for the spiritual development of the church body. Pray for your leaders to have God’s wisdom and direction.

You do not know how desperately we need your prayers. Thank you for praying!

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