Monday, March 28, 2016

PRIDE!

It’s been a long weekend and I am proud of all the volunteers and staff members at LifePoint.  I’m proud of all the people that invited friends and family to church this weekend. Whether it is LifePoint or somewhere else.

I’ve spent the last couple days thinking about pride.  Does the Bible say we shouldn’t be proud?


We have all heard “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” proverbs 16:18 

I know I’ve been quoted that verse before by people trying to keep me in their perceived place for me.   Thats the place criticism in pride usually comes from. 

What is pride though?  What is the bible talking about when it talks about pride.  For the most part the Bible isn’t talking about the sense of pleasure you get from a job well done.  It’s not talking about that feeling you get when your kids do something that is beyond what you expected of them.  The Bible is talking about arrogance.  

I am proud of my wife. She does a lot for my family. Stuff I can’t or won’t do.  She held us towards God when I was far away.  I’m proud of my kids. I think they are brilliant and I take great pride in being their dad.
I am proud of my church.  I am proud that we had one of the biggest if not the biggest weekends of our almost 6 years,  There were 1000+ people that attended one of our Easter services.  
I’m proud of that number!

I’m proud of the work we did. I have a great sense of accomplishment for the hours we all put in. I’m proud of the extra work our pastor did.

Mostly though I am proud of that number, 1000+. Do you think God isn’t? Do you think he looked down and saw his churches all over the world with extra people there. Some who don’t darken the door but once a year and didn't feel pride in the churches and those working in them? 

Are you proud of your kids when they learn a Bible verse, ask to pray or get excited about going to church?

Now multiply that across the globe. All the people that were there in a church where God wanted them to be yesterday.  Whether they got anything out of it or not is between them and God but they were there.  

I believe I’ve used the analogy before but when you get a really important package delivered you have to sign for it.  If you aren't there it doesn’t matter how important the package is you can’t receive it.

So for us there were roughly 250-300 people that were there to sign for the package yesterday and pastor Kelly certainly delivered! 

 We were and are beyond blessed to be a family that God keeps adding to.

That is something to be proud of.

Thanks for reading
Alan

Just in case you are reading this and did not get to sign for the package yesterday a recording is available under the archive section here











Monday, March 21, 2016

Deep Impact

At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, -Mt 27:51

It’s Easter week and of course all I can think about is the last week of Jesus’ life.  
This morning while sitting in church listening to the worship band I started thinking about the moment Jesus died.  Not the triumphant entry although it is palm Sunday as I type this. Not the resurrection, because that’s a story for another day.
No, right now I am thinking of the moment Jesus died.  The ultimate sacrifice, a horrendous death on a cross for you and for me.
The moment Jesus passed the earth shook the curtain was torn and rocks split apart.
What dynamic force could have done that? What a mighty power it was to shake the earth.  
Sitting there this morning I had a thought. One of those thoughts that aren’t my own.
As I sat there the idea came to me that maybe the earth shook and the rocks split because grace had hit the earth.  
Like a meteor, for the first time in history Grace free and abundant slammed into this pitiful world and the force was so great that it had to physically buckle in order to withstand the sheer amount of grace that was produced by the acts of Jesus.
Jesus died that we might live and live more abundantly (Jn 10:1) in a grace unlike anything that had ever been possible.  


Thanks for reading

Alan

Monday, March 14, 2016

Axe Grinding

I’ve been trying to type this blog for hours. I just want to go spend time with the family and read some comics. I couldn't though. I had something to say and you were going to hear it. 

I’ll tell you the truth, every draft of this blog has been a real barnburner.  As I sat down to write this evening I was filled with anger and hurt. I was going to tell it how it is.  I was righteously indignant. 
Draft after draft I wrote and refined and made more pointed than the last.   I was ready to unleash.  This would be my masterwork in calling someone out on their nonsense. Prepare for gut wrenching conviction! 

Then a verse popped into my head.  A verse I didn’t put there.  Something I wanted to ignore. 
A verse I had to look up because I had no idea where in the bible it hid.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalms 46:10.

Well crud.  Thats not what I wanted.  I wanted to defend God and ministry. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. 

That is all we need sometimes. When we are hurt, angry, disappointed or depressed. Just to sit and know that God is God. 
Justice isn’t something to use to make us feel good, its what makes Him…… well……, Him.  

So here I sit. No public axe left to grind, in a pile of my own filing’s 

I think I’m going to go be still for a while.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Five More Minutes

I was reading an article this afternoon and it said that not everyone remembers their dreams.  There are tons of people out there that never remember anything they dream.  I can’t imagine that.  Sounds like it would be pretty restful.

So that got me thinking about dreaming.  I have had some great dreams.  The thing about dreams is they are inherently selfish.  You are always the star of your dreams.  Good or bad things are happening to you.  You just got a raise. You just got a promotion. You are Batman, wait is that just me?

Dreams are incredible and sometimes scary. I’ve died in dreams, which i didn’t realize was possible.  I’ve been chased by monsters and villains. Stalked by psychopaths.  I always wake up though.  The dreams fade like the morning fog.

Have you ever woke up from a dream and desperately tried to get back into it?  I have. I’ve had such wonderful dreams that I was actually mad I woke up.  I didn’t want to lose that perfect place and time.  Even though that stuff was not real  I wanted to cling to it.

When I was lost It was the same way.  I knew what I was doing wasn’t real it wasn’t eternal. Still I refused to wake up.  I wanted that safe place. The warm spot in my bed more than I wanted the reality that was waiting for me.

Waking up isn’t easy. It means stepping outside of your comfort zone.  It means a cold floor on your feet sometimes. However there are things to do and people that are counting on you.  You can’t stay in bed forever. 

It’s your choice but eventually everyone wakes and is faced with getting up or hitting snooze. God isn’t going to force you out of bed. One day the alarm will be silent and it will be too late. Don’t oversleep, don’t miss your opportunity for a beautiful new day.

I’m grateful He woke me up.


I’m wide awake now and it feels more real than any dream ever could. 

Thanks for reading
Alan 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Responses (When Did Jesus Become Real to You)

 Last week I asked a question in my Monday Blog.  Question that I had rolling around in my head because I was reading the book The End of Me by Kyle Idleman.  It is a solid book and I'd recommend you read it if you get the chance.So the question was "When did Jesus become real to you?"
I got quite a few responses and I can't thank you enough for participating. I like learning more about you all.  I was moved to tears by several of the stories I got to hear.
I'm going to share a few of these with you now.

Pastor Eddie Jones 16 yrs old when I realized that God had a huge plan for my life way more than what I could even think or imagine

Jeremy Roy Tough question to answer. See I remember learning about Jesus at a very young age, I remember that feeling of butterflies in the pit of my stomach when an alter call was made, and of course I know now that was the Holy Spirit moving within me to make the decision. I knew the basics of the Holy Triune God, and how Jesus did His part here on earth, (The Gospel), and I had seen and heard many miracles and testimony of miracles throughout my life. I've always known Jesus as "Real". The question for me may be more of when did I make Him a "Real part of me"? I'm not sure I can even narrow that down to a specific single point in my life. I remember praying to God to do something different in my life most of 2002 and 2003, and I remember late June and early July of 2003 as I took some huge steps in my life. I remember crying out to Jesus multiple times on my1422 mile journey from Tulsa to Lancaster, CA.. I remeber feeling the tugs at my heart for 3 more years, and almost could hear His voice as I felt and knew that, "Just because I wasn't a meth addict anymore didn't mean there wasn't a lot of work to do in my life." I remember in 2006, the 1646 Mile trip from Lancaster to Lebanon asking and wondering what was next for my life and feeling the Spirit move in heart. I can remember when He started feeling real as I started attending LFC, and even more real on that February morning in 2007 as I said, "Ok, this life is yours, I am going to have problems giving it all to you, but I am ready to let You have control!" THAT day, He became very real. Perhaps it could've been the few times I heard the still small whispers as He told me of Melissa, and His plan for us, or every time my finances were shot and I didn't know how I was going to pay bills and buy food, but yet there was always food in the fridge, whether I bought it or not. I felt how real He was again when Abigail Grace Roy came into the world in may of 2009. I knew He was definitely real as I felt the tugs and pulls into ministries I thought I had no business being a part of. 

These are all moments that i felt and seen the realness of Jesus, but perhaps the times I really know He is undeniably real is when I see lives changed, and those lives are putting their all into ministry, to change someone else's life. When I see people fully grasp the same gift I have received, and put their all into giving that life to someone else, that's when Jesus becomes real, right before my eyes.

Sadie Neely It took me a little bit of time just sitting and thinking about the blog post. I've never been much for talking, especially about myself. 
   You will need a little back history about my life. I grew up in a house where the step father was an ex Jehovahs Witness turned Atheist. And my mom? Well. She wasn't always around much. She didn't start being a constant figure in my life until I was older. Without going into much detail, I didn't have a very good childhood. Around the age of thirteen I began to develop a serious anxiety disorder. The anxiety grew worse and started to cause a serious depression. My parents knew. My parents also did not care. To this day they don't. I know it's awful yet I'm used to their actions. I never had any treatment. 
       As the years passed, my issues became worse and worse. The day Jesus became real to me was June 15th, 2015. Why do I remember the exact date? Because that was the worse day of my life. I had hit rock bottom. I was done with everything. That was the day I decided to end my life. I took over fifteen high dosage pain pills I had left over from when I had my daughter. I was depressed and alone. I gave up. Then something switched. I don't know if I was hallucinating from the pills or if it was God but I heard someone say stop. And for some reason I grabbed my phone and called my mother in law. I told her everything and she rushed me to the ER. Basically, I spent the week in a mental hospital. During that week it was like something inside me changed. It was like I had a purpose. To this day I still feel this way. Yes, I still have some serious issues but I no longer feel hopeless like I did. I feel as if I was called to serve. One day I want to help kids/teenagers that deal with the same issues as me and help the find the hope thru Jesus that I now have. 
I guess my story was a bit longer than the other comments of Facebook, I just felt like my story was important and probably needed to be heard by somebody other than myself.

Elizabeth Hutton I'd say the summer of 2006 when I finally allowed God to work in me!
The verse that got me through that summer and beyond is John 15:5!

Stacy Humbles Segebarth I have to say when I held Haven for the first time. It was then that I realized what kind of love Jesus had for me. I looked into her face and knew how much I loved her already. Blood did not connect us but she was my daughter.
Just like I am his daughter. He became real that day.


Norma Hemphill as a poor girl that walked a country mile with her sister to go to church and was allowed to be in their Christmas pageant. I was a preteen and God touched my heart. Many mistakes after that but that was when I realized there really was somebody who loved me for no reason that I could think of at the time. It was actually the participation of the play that did the trick. It made this wild indian focus on what was going on.

Christopher Ogle For me, it's been kind of a gradual realization. Looking back, it stared when I actually started listening for God’s quiet guidance. I was on my way to attend church with my mom and I felt guided to go to LifePoint. Then, again, when I first joined Celebrate Recovery. I don't really remember an "a ha" moment...just kind of a gradual opening of my eyes.

Bethany Jones When I was 23, I was 6-7 weeks pregnant with our first child and was having complications. The doctors said the baby was gone and I would "pass" it two weeks from then. I felt helpless and hopeless. Then the room froze and Jesus said , "Do you trust me?" And I'm like "" And he said it again. I decided to trust him with my baby and haven't ever regretted that decision. He has been a friend and a comfort in many, MANY hard and dark times since then in spiritual battles, in financial battles, and in relationship battles. He was made real to me in that hospital room in 2010.

Ashley Ogle In 2008, Josh and I were a very young married couple going through "family troubles". I felt hopeless and clueless as what to do. We were in church one Sunday and it was like the pastor was talking right to me. Everything I needed to hear at that time was spoken I was overcome with emotion, yet peaceful and I knew exactly what needed to be done next. Our family troubles were soon resolved and we've worked hard to keep Christ the center of our lives since. It's amazing to realize you are never alone in anything! God is always with you.

Heather Kincheloe I was saved when I was 7 years old and still remember that day. But to really, truly have Jesus real to me was when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I have never heard God so clearly.
Reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
Pain has a way of showing us what is really important. I will never forget the pain of that day when the doctors told us she wouldn't make it past birth and we should abort her.
But I will also never forget the joy on May 27, 2010 after we choose to follow God's will and we had our gift from God, Mikayla.


Diane Sherrer Stowe I had a relationship as a child & young teen, then got away from God & don't think I really understood, then after 8 or 9 wayward & sinful years got back to God & really realized the sacrifices Jesus made for me & that he loved me & forgave me no matter the sins I had committed.

Kyle Rhoades May 2, 1999. I needed to make a choice where to go to college. Kelly Rhoades told me how great MNU was for about 2 years and that was the last place I wanted to be. I hated the place. Well see God was working on me and I had no clue. He had plans for me that I was not wanting to.hear because I hated MNU. I was not happy for about a week God was dealing with me. Then that Sunday May 2 I just knew this following God thing was real. I told God Yes and the rest is history. I did not fully understand His Love for me till July 4, 2009 at about 7am.

Becky King A couple of years ago, I was watching my father suffer with several medical conditions. He was no longer able to care for himself, was in and out of the hospital several times a month and required nearly round-the-clock assistance. This was particularly saddening, because Dad's mind and will were still very strong - while he still wanted to do for himself, he simply couldn't. Many times we had gotten "the call" that this is it; he's not going to make it much longer. But soon, he would snap out of it. After speaking to a long time family friend, she suggested that God still had a plan for my father; that he had not yet fulfilled his purpose. About a year later, my dad passed away. It was difficult, but knowing his struggle was over was an immense relief. During the funeral - and here is the truly amazing part - I KNOW God was there. My mother's cousin, who had never publicly accepted Christ, was moved to surrender to God. A 60+ year old man experiencing this at last?! Amazing!
Here's the part that made me KNOW. 4 weeks later, my mother's cousin was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and died a week later. I realized then how real this is. God's plan for us - our purpose - is perfectly timed. And to witness this first hand - truly a blessing that I cannot question.


Lenita Davison I was blessed to grow up in a Godly home so always knew about Jesus. While I had a personal relationship with Him, I believe that I really started getting to know God and loving Him more fully a few years ago when I was reading the Psalms. There are several Psalms that remind us of so many ways God has taken care of and provided for His children throughout the generations. Once I began seeing Him for Who He is, it gave me a whole different outlook and love for Him. I believe that changed my way of thinking from being "religious" to really loving God more fully. My trust in Him has grown greatly in the last few years due to my focusing on Him instead of my situations. Circumstances come and go, but God is steady and faithful and I believe the last few years my eyes have been more fully opened to Who He is.


Diana Munro Even though I gave my life to Jesus when I was 15. It wasn't untill I was 19 when God became real to me. I was 7 months pregnant and about to be homeless. I was outside of my friends apartment the night that I had my breaking point. For the first time I cried out to God begging for a miracle and for Him to show me He was real. I asked him also to forgive me and to show me his love.
Life choices contacted me the next morning and asked me if I had a place to live and I knew that was my miracle. They told me about this pregnancy center, and the following day I was on a bus to Lebanon.
God worked in a miraculous way He was just waiting for me to completely surrender. That was the day...