Devotion, Fasting, Kids, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 11: “Stop and Notice.”

thank-god-when-i-think-of-youSometimes, the people closest to you are the ones you can unknowingly neglect. You become too familiar, comfortable in your surroundings, busy with your schedules. The obligations right in front of you become nuisances rather than opportunities. Crying children, homework, a wife who needs a listening ear or a hand in the kitchen… The predictability of it all means you go through the motions, numb to the need.

Today, stop and notice your immediate family. Pray for your spouse, your children, your parents. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any significant needs they might have even if they are unspoken. Your first ministry is in your home. God in you, revealed to those who are close, is authentic faith. They matter most. They watch and learn about the Lord by how you live out your convictions.

Instead of focussing on yourself, why not ask someone in your house how you can serve him?  Thank God for those he has placed in your life. They long for you more than you know.

Fasting, Series, Uncategorized

Fasting Devo, Day Seventeen

1 Peter 4:7-11

Each of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others. God has blessed us with unique strengths. As we walk through this life, one of the greatest ways we can fulfill our greatest potential is to serve others.

When is the last time you said to someone, “Want me to help with that? It’s easy for me and I would love to serve in that way!” WOW! So often, God’s provision comes in the form of a person. Throughout the Bible, God used people to rebuild cities, to lead his chosen people to the promised land, to conquer enemies, to preach the good news, to heal the sick, to prophesy and interpret dreams.

There are certain things that only YOU can do and God has placed you around people who can benefit from what you have to offer. One of the greatest ways we can exhibit love to one another is by serving each other. Mums can offer to help cook a meal or mind kids. We can serve in the church by offering our gifts with no strings attached. We can serve our neighbours by watering their garden, taking out their bins, inviting for a meal. Offer to wash someone’s car or pick up a few groceries. Help someone with a household project. Tell your boss you’ll help solve a problem at the office even if it’s not technically your job description.

Ultimately, God sent his own son, a person, to this earth in order to bring freedom and salvation to us all. He is the ultimate servant. Let us follow his lead.

Dear God, thank you for creating me with unique gifts and talents. Help me to see what ways I can use them to serve others, my community and my church. Show me how to love people like you love us and make me more like you each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fasting, Friendship, Love, Series, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Nine

Philippians 2:1-11

Healthy relationships matter. When we are lonely, we need friends to come around us. When we have a blind spot, it’s nice for someone we love to help us out and have our backs! We value and appreciate acts of kindness and sacrifice of others to stand by us during tough times.

Whether married or single, old or young, introvert or extrovert, most of our days are spent interacting with other people. Christ desires our relationships to prosper. As a matter of fact, we are to be known as Christians by the way we love one another. The greatest commandment after loving God with all our hearts is to love our neighbour as ourself. We are to love one another as Christ loves us, unconditionally. We are to forgive each other when we are wronged.

Proverbs gives many examples of flourishing relationships: Offenses are overlooked; friends can become “family;” reliable friends are refreshing, not draining.

We all know healthy relationships are vital to a good life. But how do we ensure we have them?The Apostle Paul gives us a guide:

We use Christ as the model and commit to living with humility, not seeking a position or pushing forth an agenda. Christ had equal status with God yet gave all that up to come down to our HUMAN level and serve mankind.

Who have you served lately? Who needs you to come down to her level and stand united? Who might you forgive as Christ has forgiven you?

When we invest in other people, we gain a heavenly reward. People are what matters most to God. If we need a friend, we should be the type of friend we desire. Living to serve and honor those in our lives will reap a lasting reward for each of us.

Dear Lord, it’s an honour to call you my friend. You love me unconditionally and modeled true servanthood when you stepped out of heaven to join me on Earth. I pray I can follow your example and truly serve and love the ones you have placed in my life. Mend any relationships that are broken. Strengthen my friendships and teach me how to love so that you may be glorified. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Community, Lift Church, Newcastle, Pictures, Uncategorized

City Serve

rowly_paint

Since Lift Church is a new church plant, I sometimes struggle with how to juxtapose where we currently sit against our huge vision for the future.  Dreams of a community centre and coffee shop open to the public, hundreds of youth, thousands of people giving their lives to Christ and serving this community together overshadow our current reality!  Although we certainly do not despise the day of our small beginnings, it’s difficult to figure out how we can make a lasting difference in our community.

We recently heard about an amazing project called “CityServe,” and its goal to transform our city together through service.  It seeks to ELEVATE what’s already being done in Christian churches throughout our city, ENGAGE civic leaders and other influencers to identify needs, and to ESTABLISH an annual city-wide serving month which elevates the name of Jesus through making a huge impact.

What a perfect way for our church to be a part of something much bigger than what we could do on our own! Throughout the month of October, churches of every denomination are working on projects all over the region.

We found a need we could meet at the PCYC in Windale.

This club offers all sorts of programs like archery, gymnastics, boxing, judo, and more.  The huge facility houses multiple meeting rooms, an outdoor skate park, and a community garden.  The problem is that the building is in disrepair.  The PCYC lacks the funds to be able to make needed upgrades; and, the amount of manpower needed to clean up the place just doesn’t exist at the moment.  When we came to offer a hand and some finances to spruce up the place, we were readily received!

Graffiti has overtaken almost every blank wall space outside.  And, over time, the club has collected so many “extra” items, that the indoor storage was overrun with rubbish.  We spent about 60 man hours painting a massive concrete wall at the entrance to the club.  This first impression was quite un-inviting before but now looks clean and fresh.

wall_before

wall_paint

wall_after

We also hired a skip bin to remove a lot of the un-needed items which had filled some of the storage space.  Our team quickly filled it to the brim and everyone associated with the club is so happy to have the breathing room inside the facility.

move_junkethan_skipskip2

Although there are many more projects to be completed around the PCYC (and we can’t wait to come back and do more), we are so happy to get the ball rolling in the right direction.  Our church willingly served and gave up their Sunday afternoon.  We had a BBQ and fun time hanging out afterwards.  I love the culture we are building into the foundation of our church that puts others before ourselves and seeks to shine the light of Christ into our city. I pray no matter how large we grow, we always have more vision than we have resource to make a difference and keep moving forward. The best is yet to come!

church, Inspiration, Series, Uncategorized

The Church, Part 3

It’s interesting to talk to people about how they see “the church.”  Many people I know base their ideas about the church on their experiences and oftentimes, they are negative.  They grew up GOING to a church that was BORING.  They know hypocrites and judgemental  people who GO to church.  They WENT to a church that always asked for money. They WENT to church as a kid but never really saw a need once they grew up.  They GO to church on Christmas and Easter, the important days.  They GO to church but nothing ever really changes in their worlds.

The common thread in all of these opinions is that the church is a PLACE that you GO. Have you ever thought of the church as a PEOPLE who ARE?  We, as believers, are called to BE the church.  Are we consumers who look at the pastor and decide whether or not we like what he has to say?  Are we to judge the building on its beauty and base whether we come back or not on how cool our kids thought their class was?  Do we pick a church based on its convenient location, free hot coffee, and has comfortable seating?

Or, do we ask God to plant us in a church where we can help spread the good news of the gospel?  Do we CONTRIBUTE instead of CONSUME?  What if we spend more time focusing on what we CAN DO FOR THE CHURCH instead of what the church can DO FOR US?

God created us for a purpose and we each have gifts He gave us that are for the benefit of the whole church?  As Christians, we are the body of Christ.  The church is not a building but a group of people each playing his or her part in displaying the glory of God on the earth. A healthy church reflects the love and beauty of Christ.  We are His body on earth.

1 Corinthians 12 draws the parallel between the parts of the human body and the parts of the church body.  Although there are many members in both, they represent one body. The Apostle Paul explains that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are actually quite necessary (have you ever broken a little toe?) and that the members all care for one another (injure your ankle and see that every joint all the way up your leg is affected!). If one member in the church suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  Every serving member of our church from the parking team to the kids team, to ushers and greeters, makes a significant difference in how people experience “church” every week.  This translates into how they experience God long before the Pastor ever steps onto the stage.

I’ve never been more personally fulfilled in anything I have accomplished than when serving my local church.  Let’s move outside ourselves to care about those walking through the doors who are broken and need to hear about our God the Healer.  Can we put our own comfort aside and pray for those who coming in who are far from God?  If we embrace the notion that we ARE the church and that is OUR responsibility to show others what a loving and awesome God we serve, our churches will be full of life.

People who come won’t leave feeling like they just sat through a bad movie.  They won’t complain about the decor or the lack of leg room in the aisles.  They won’t notice whether the seats were comfortable or not.  Instead, they will leave with a taste in their mouth of the living God who met them there.  They will leave with images of our smiles and loving handshakes.  They will want to be around us and among us everyday, not just once a week.

Romans 9:17 says that the purpose for which we are raised up is to demonstrate God’s power IN US, that His name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.  This is the church.