Oct 262009
 

Big Idea:
Prayer is depending on God.  “Ask, Beggars!”

Scripture Memory:
Matthew 7:7
“Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Action Step:
As you continue in your 40 days of fasting and prayer, take your park-n-pray CD and travel to Walnut Grove High School this week or another suggested location and spend time in prayer as a family, following the instructions on your CD.

Random Thoughts:

  • I did a wedding yesterday afternoon in Helen, GA for a Church at the Grove member.  Jill and I stayed up here last night and I have spent some time in prayer and Bible study this morning overlooking the beautiful mountains of North GA.  I am overwhelmed with my need to “depend on God”.  There is so much going on and so much to do, but I must spend time “depending on God”. 
  • Yesterday was an incredible and awesome day for me personally at Church at the Grove.  I am thankful for Gabe Shababy and God’s work in his life.  I enjoyed having Rolin lead us in worship.  He is truly gifted and I love his heart for God.  I enjoyed being able to spend some time with people and time in worship.
  • I am so excited about this season of prayer we are in and the feedback and stories that I am receiving from so many people about their prayer and devotional times as individuals and as families.  I believe the fruit from this will be amazing for our church.
  • Please continue in prayer and make use of your devotionals and your park-n-pray resource.  Please go and pray over the different areas of our community. 
  • Please take time this next Sunday to join one of our personal communication meetings in the Library at Youth Middle School if you haven’t attended one yet!  I want as many people as possible to hear the details of how God is leading us as  a church.  You can meet at 10am or 11am.  We need as many people on board with how God is leading us. 
  • Make sure you make it a priority to be at Church at the Grove on Sunday November 8!  This is celebration Sunday of our “ADVANCE” Faith Initiative!  It will be an awesome Sunday and you don’t want to miss it.
 Posted by at 10:48 am
Oct 232009
 

Here is a great story from a book I recently read titled, The Revolutionary Communicator.  Notice the emphasis on personal prayer.

Nico Smith, like most Afrikaners of his era in South Africa, grew up drinking a doctrine of white superiority with his mother’s milk.  When the 1948 elections brought the Afrikaner Nationalists to power, nineteen-year-old Nico took to the streets to celebrate the arrival of government sponsored apartheid. 

In his thirties, as an influential figure within the Dutch Reformed Church, Nico was recruited to join the elite fraternity known as the Broederbond.  This group connected many of the most powerful members of society in a secretive brotherhood, working behind the scenes to advance the Afrikaner political and ideological agenda.  These connections soon propelled Nico into a respected professorial position at Stellenbosch University. 

But on a visit to Switzerland in 1963, Nico met the great theologian Karl Barth.  Near the end of his visit, Dr. Barth approached Nico and inquired politely,  “May I ask you a personal question?” Nico nodded.  He viewed conversing with the famed Christian thinker as a high privilege. 

“Are you free to preach the Gospel in South Africa?”  asked Barth. 

“Yes, of course I am.”  Nico replied pleasantly.  “Freedom of religion.”

Barth shook his head.  “That’s not the kind of freedom I am asking about.  Are you free in yourself?”  If you come across things in the Bible that are contrary to what your family and friends believe, will you preach it?”

Nico shrugged.  “I’ve never come across something like that.”

The elderly theologian would not be dissuaded.  “Are you so free that even if you come across things in the Bible which are contrary to what your government is doing—that you will preach it?”

A crimson blotch rose on Nico’s cheek, and he looked away.  It was an awkward question, and he did not feel he had an adequate answer. 

Nico was soon safely back in South Africa, but Barth’s questions had somehow managed to travel with him.  They lodged in his thoughts and stuck, like seed-carrying burrs caught in one’s sock—not growing, but certainly not comfortable either. 

It was a full ten years later at a meeting of the Broederbond that the revolution Barth had gently seeded finally took root.  As Nico pondered the attitudes and actions of his associates, the answer to Barth’s question sprang into his mind: I’m not free!  He stood and walked out of the meeting. 

Nico knew that quitting the Broederbond was social suicide. 

As best, he could hope to step away without drawing much notice.  He would live quietly, keeping a healthy separation between his newfound Christian convictions and political issues.  For several years he did.  But the questions would not be so easily satisfied.

When the government bulldozed a group of black squatter homes on the outskirts of town, some of Nico’s students asked him what the Christian response should be.  More questions.  As he pondered the answer, he realized he could remain silent no longer.  Nico drafted an official criticism of the government action and offered it for publication.  There was now no going back. 

A political firestorm began to envelope Nico.  With little else to do, Nico sought guidance in prayer.  As if in answer, the next Monday morning a telegram arrived from the black township of Mamelodi.  The residents were asking that Nico become their pastor. 

“God, no, I didn’t ask for this,” lamented Nico.  Emotion surged over him, and he began t cry right in front of the postman.  As he waited for his wife Ellen’s return, Nico began to hope that she would reject the idea, giving him an easy out with God.

Ellen, however, provided him no excuses.  “Nico, you realize that we’ll have to go,” she said after reading the telegram.  The decision was made. 

In the face of staggering social and even physical risks, Nico and Ellen left the university at Stellenbosch and filled the pastorship of the Mamelodi parish.  Initially, they lived in a white suburb within driving distance of the township and commuted to the church.  In time, however, they realized they could not truly minister to the people of Mamelodi without drawing nearer.  A short while later, Nico and Ellen became the first whites under apartheid to receive official permission to live in a black area—the only white residents in a township of 300,000 people. 

Nico and Ellen Smith’s labors continue to bring healing to a torn nation. The seeds of their transformation were little more than a few simple questions.

 Posted by at 11:14 am
Oct 212009
 

Big Idea from Sunday:
Prayer precedes progression!  Before Nehemiah responded to God’s vision for his return Jerusalem to rebuild the ruined walls, he entered a season of prayer and fasting.

Scripture Memory:
Nehemiah 1:4 (ESV)
4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.

Action Step:
Covenant with the CATG family for 40 days of prayer and some type of weekly fast.

Random Thoughts:

  • I never cease to be amazed at God’s power and ability to exceed my expectations!  I continue to see God at work in amazing ways collectively in our church and in the lives of individuals. 
  • Last Thursday morning we partnered with the Youth Middle School Council and made the rounds to deliver coffee, sodas, snacks and candy to all the teachers and faculty.  It was great to see their brightened faces as we showed them God’s love in a practical way.  I love to do small things that show significant concern to people that work so hard to invest in the lives of our children.
  • What a great sports weekend!  I was able to see Loganville play, catch the DAWGS and Jackets, watch multiple college football games and witness the Falcons win on Sunday night.  Oh yeah, I also caught a little Baseball. 
  • Sunday morning was special.  What a great service of worship and prayer!  I love seeing so many new faces each week of guests joining us for worship.  I have had some great feedback from the service.  I love Austin and Shelley and I am so thankful for their leadership. 
  • I hope you are spending time each day in prayer for ADVANCE!  Thank you to Gabe, Kortney and their prayer team for putting together our prayer journals and leading our prayer emphasis for ADVANCE.  WE MUST BE PRAYING FOR GOD TO USE OUR CHURCH IN THIS COMMUNITY AND AROUND THE WORLD.
  • Check out advance2009.org and see the site that Nathan Boyd put together that shares our vision and plans for Church at the Grove. 
  • I have been reading through Ezra, Nehemiah and Acts.  Ezra, Nehemiah and the Disciples in the early church all faced opposition.  It should not come as a surprise.  Vision and Dreams with the intent of honoring and glorifying God ALWAYS meet opposition.  I believe that we have been under attack and it will continue.  We need to pray and seek God’s guidance during this time.  I covet your prayers for our leadership and staff.
  • Charles Spurgeon the great preacher stated, “Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray.”
  • God wants to do something amazing in and through Church of the Grove.  I am convinced of it!
  • Don’t miss any Sundays during this ADVANCE series!
  • Please be in prayer.  Use your journals!  You will get another prayer tool this Sunday called Park n Pray.
  • Continue to invest and invite people with you on Sundays.
  • Stay connected to your Community Groups.
  • See you Sunday!  I am praying for you and your family!

 

 Posted by at 12:06 pm
Oct 122009
 

Big Idea:
Good people don’t go to heaven, Forgiven people go heaven!

Scripture:
Romans 10:9 (ESV)
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Action Step:
Share the gospel in a simple way this week with someone using something you learned from this series.

Thoughts:

  • It was awesome to have Austin and Shelley back with the band this week. 
  • I have loved teaching this series, “The Gospel”!  It would be easy for me to continue in this series for several more weeks. 
  • Jesus didn’t teach that good people go to heaven, he taught that forgiven people go to heaven!
  • This coming week and the next several weeks are very important for the life of Church at the Grove.  I would love to see maximum attendance over the next six weeks.  As your pastor, I really need you to be there!
  • This next Sunday we kick off a huge emphasis on prayer.  Every family will receive a prayer journal and it will include devotionals for the family for 40 days.  PLEASE set aside time to pray or our community, Church at the Grove and how God wants to use our church in our community.
  • God is doing some awesome things!  Shoot me an email or make a comment here on the blog regarding how you see God working in your life or in our church.
  • I love you guys and I am praying for you and your families.

 

 Posted by at 1:06 pm