Mar 132012
 

Why in the world is a church from Loganville & Social Circle, Georgia involved in a city on the other side of the world?  Why are we at Church at the Grove in Oradea, Romania.  I am sitting in Oradea, Romania as I write this and I thought it appropriate to share a few thoughts that answer these questions.  We have launched a new “Fellowship of the Grove” in this city led by Pat and Joy Hardin.  Why is Church at the Grove in Oradea, Romania?

We simply want to obey the biblical mandate to go to the whole world to Make Disciples found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.

This is simple and not complicated.  We just want to obey the words of Jesus found in the Word of God, the Bible.  We started in Loganville & Walnut Grove, we have now moved to Social Circle and helped plant in other places like Pennsylvania.  We want to take the gospel to the “ends of the earth”.  Nothing more needed.

We want to live by the Psalm 67:1-2 principle of “paying it forward”.  

God has been so gracious to us and He has blessed us so much with the gospel.  We have WAY more than we need and we believe in the “so that” principle.  He has been gracious and blessed us “so that” we can make Him known to the nations.

We want to cultivate “selflessness” in our lives.

Philippians 2:5-11 describes the character of Jesus & how he left his heavenly throne to come to earth wrapped in human flesh to show us how much God loves us.  He “emptied” himself for us!  We want to live in that same spirit and that same character.  How can we keep the “good news” of God’s love, mercy and grace to ourselves?  How can we escape the wrath of God and not invite others to join us?

Are you living your personal life with the same sense of “mission”?  Are you living day by day with a plan to grow as a disciple of Jesus?  Join with us at Church at the Grove as we seek to fulfill God’s mission for sharing the love of Jesus with our community and the world!  I hope to see you Sunday as we share about our experience here in Romania!

Keep praying, keep investing, keep inviting!

 Posted by at 2:53 am
Mar 032012
 

How does God speak to us when we are in need of His direction for a decision we need to make?  How can we know God’s will for a particular situation?

First of all, a characteristic of wisdom is seeking God’s counsel when we are in need.  There are two attitudes that keep us from seeking God’s wisdom: Pride and stubbornness.

How do we seek God’s direction when we are faced with a decision?

First we seek God’s direction through His Word.  

Read Psalm 119:24; Psalm 119:98-99; & Psalm 119:100  We often turn to experts, friends, the internet or some other source, but our first step should be to consult the Bible.  What does God say about my specific decision?  How can God’s Word give me counsel?

Second, we should seek the advice of godly people.  

Check out Psalm 37:30-31  We should rely on the godly wisdom of other followers of Jesus that God has put in our lives.  We should listen for God’s voice from respected people that are following Jesus.  God has gifted people in His church in specific areas. 1 Corinthians 12
Seek counsel from a believing spouse.  Seek advice from Christian parents.  Seek wisdom from Christian leaders in your church and potentially from other places of leadership.  Seek out people with experience in the same dilemma you are currently experiencing.  Scripture states that it is wise to seek counsel from a “multitude of counselors”  Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 11:14

Third and most importantly seek counsel from God.

The scriptures identify God as our counselor.  Psalm 32:8; Psalm 73:24; Psalm 16:7.  We should seek God’s counsel through prayer and Bible Study and listening to the Holy Spirit given to us by God to lead us into all truth, John 16:13.

Counsel to Avoid:

  • Avoid the counsel of the Wicked. Psalm 1:1
  • Avoid fortune tellers, mediums and spiritualists. Leviticus 19:31
  • Avoid Biased Counsel.

Some people have an agenda and you need to be careful of listening to the counsel of those biased.

How do you hear God’s voice for major decisions in your life?

 Posted by at 11:49 am
Feb 232012
 

Charles Swindoll in his biography of the Apostle Paul he asserts that “our theology gets fuzzy here in the United States because of our addiction to the creature comforts” to which we have become so accustomed.

Here is the general idea that many American Christians have, “Pain and suffering come from the devil.  Since God wants His servants well and free of pain, healing and happiness are of the Lord.” (pg. 91 Swindoll)

As a result of our addictions to creature comforts and some faulty theology, many followers of Jesus do not know how to “suffer well”.  Here is a simple truth that we often don’t want to admit.  God uses suffering and difficulties in our lives to accomplish His will in us and through us.  There can be joy, fulfillment and the “shalom” of God as we journey through less than desirable circumstances in our life.

Paul was an authority on suffering.  Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 Simply read the entire 2nd letter to the Corinthians and you will discover much of the suffering Paul experienced in his life.  I do not consider myself an authority on suffering.  I have lost a brother and a father and I have experienced some difficult times in life but I don’t know that I can say that I have experienced true suffering.  My wife has some ongoing health issues that causes her quite a bit of pain.  I have a friend, Terry Ivy who I consider a godly man who has encountered a great bit of suffering.  I love how he writes about God’s purpose in suffering and you can find it at TerryIvy.com and click on his category of “suffering”.

Paul teaches us that God does accomplish His will through our suffering.  Here are a few of the ways that God uses our suffering and difficulties to accomplish his will:

  • God uses our pain to allow us to comfort others in pain. Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4  Paul experience pain to the point of not wanting to live. Check our 2 Corinthians 1:8
  • God uses suffering to keep us from boasting in ourselves.

Paul boasted not in his ability to endure but in his weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30 Paul writes about having a “thorn in his flesh” 2 Corinthians 12:7 that ensured him having a humble spirit.  Have you ever thought that God may use “thorns” in our lives to keep us from becoming proud people.

“Pain plants the flag of reality in the fortress of a rebel heart.”

  • God uses pain and suffering to compel us to rely on God’s “sufficient grace” that He provides through Jesus!

We often want relief from pain and sometimes God grants it, but when he doesn’t grant relief, He will give us something even better, His Grace!  Paul pleaded three times for God to remove the thorn and Jesus replied that his grace is sufficient and his power is perfect in our weakness. See 2 Corinthians 12:9

“His grace supplies more than we ned to endure whatever it is that threatens to undo us.” (Swindoll pg. 101)  It is not always God’s will that we are healed.

  • Pain also awaken us to our simple need for Jesus.  

My father was one of the most independent, prideful people I have ever known and his self-sufficiency is what kept him from turning to Jesus.  He suffered with illness in his later years to the point that he could not do anything for himself.  In his realization that he was no longer independent and strong, he turned to trust Christ.  He realized that he needed something outside of himself and it led him to salvation.

C.S. Lewis said,

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Let’s learn to suffer well in a way to bring glory to God and make Him known to people around us. 

What are your thoughts on suffering?

 

 

 Posted by at 12:37 pm
Feb 202012
 

One of our core values of Church at the Grove is “Intentional Simplicity”.  We desire to keep the MESSAGE and the METHODS simple in our pursuit of leading people to follow Jesus and Make Disciples.

Keeping the Message Simple:
We emphasize that God’s plan was to eliminate unnecessary religious components and make it simple to connect with God.  In order to accomplish this we attempt to remove any and all religious “hoops” that churches can tend to force people through to connect with God through a personal relationship with Jesus.  By religious “hoops” I mean things like dress, worship styles, liturgy (all liturgy is not bad), terminology, or connecting certain disciplines or religious activity to your acceptance with God.  Please don’t get me wrong, we do teach doctrine and we encourage spiritual disciplines as a means to grow spiritually.

Read this: Acts 15:19

The NIV states “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

We are constantly evaluating how we communicate the gospel to our church and our community.  Our desire is to “lead” people and not emotionally coerce people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

Keeping the Methods Simple:
We realize that we live in a culture that is more and more demanding on an individual’s and family’s time.  We believe that we (Church at the Grove) can accomplish more by doing less.  I learned in a seminary class that the most committed people in a typical church will potentially spend 14 hours per week on the campus of their church keeping the operations going for that local body.  If they are spending that much time on keeping the church going, there is very little time left to invest in people outside the walls of the church!  Our desire is to simplify the methodology of our church for the purpose of freeing up time for people to invest in the mission of the church.

We do three things at Church at the Grove to accomplish our mission of leading people to follow Jesus and Make Disciples:

  • We create environments where people can explore faith in Jesus at their own pace.
  • We encourage relationships through Community Groups where people can connect in meaningful and discipling friendships.
  • We start discussions that lead to sharing the hope found in Jesus by serving our neighbors and our community.

Things we will not do or require to keep it simple:

  • We will not start a Christian school.
  • We will not launch a sports league.
  • We will not require men to be circumcised.
  • We will not ask or force people to serve in multiple areas to be a Small Group leader.
  • We will not ask people to spend all their free time doing work to keep the church going.

What we do ask people to do to keep it simple:

  • We ask people to simplify their lives for the purpose of having margin for God’s mission.
  • We ask people to utilize their children’s sports and other extracurricular activities as a way to invest in people for the purpose of sharing Jesus and inviting them to The Grove.
  • We ask people to connect in a community group.
  • We ask people to serve on a Sunday Serve team regularly.
  • We ask people to look for opportunities to start conversations that lead to sharing the hope that is found in Jesus.
  • We ask people to do these things in their normal circle of influence.

How do you keep the message and the methods simple in your life?

 Posted by at 11:24 am