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3-5 Year Vision

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This past Sunday I shared our 3-5 year vision with the church. You can listen to the entire sermon here from Acts 2:42-47. Here is the outline:

Our vision is to be loving God, loving one another and loving others. 

Loving God

  1. Worship: People of increasingly sincere worship. God-exalting because we are not god, He is God. 
  2. Word: Beholding God through His Word. God-beholding because He’s the subject of the book, not us. 
  3. Prayer: Growing belief (and practice) in the power of prayer. God-relying because we are weak and God is near! 

Loving one another targets for next three years

  1. Students: Building up Harvest Students with broad church involvement.
  2. Community: Building community beyond our first 10 year means.
  3. Classes: Commit to regular content-driven discipleship opportunities.
  4. Coaching: Deepening equipping and coaching for new and existing leaders.

Loving others targets for next 3 years

  1. Good news: More people sharing the gospel regularly. 
  2. Good deeds: Participate in local outreach. Being good deeds people all the time.
  3. Good trips: Participating in international church planting. We’re going overseas again! 

Several important nuances. 

  • Hit the bullseyes, GODone another and others by focusing on the WHO.
  • LovING meaning ongoing and cultural versus once or twice a week. 
  • It’s “3-5” years because we make our plan and the Lord directs our steps. 

Approved Emotions

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Recently I shared during a sermon that we project an approval of just one emotion for the typical Christian. Can you guess it? 

Joy. 

Joy is awesome. It comes from Jesus and seriously there is no greater joy than the joy of forgiveness of all our sins and heaven ahead. So what are we to think when joy is not emoting? 

Think we are like Jesus: 

  • Jesus wept when he met Martha and Mary after Lazarus had died. 
  • Jesus was righteously angry when He flipped extortioners money tables in the Temple. 
  • Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. 
  • Psalmists were full of raw emotion that is uncomfortable to read at times. 

God created emotion. Embrace it. Let him into it. Why? Because often God delivers us in our raw emotion.

  • Tell the Lord you are angry and let Him help you get to the heart of why. 
  • Tell the Lord you are downcast and let Him care for you and lift your eyes. 
  • Tell the Lord you are hurt and let Him bind up your wounds.

Don’t go around your emotions, go thru them, with God. 

What the Armor is Made Of

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Modern armor is made of kevlar. Ancient armor was made of heavy metals. The armor God described in Ephesians 6 is made of something altogether different. Christian, the armor of God that he tells us to put on is made of your identity in Jesus Christ.

The belt of truth. Hey! there’s an actual TRUTH in our world of pick your truth. Like a belt, the truth that Jesus is your Savior and Lord holds you together and keeps you from coming undone. 

The breastplate of righteousness. The righteousness of Jesus applied to you covering your new heart and keeping it pure). 

Shoes sending you with the gospel of peace. A message of peace in the midst of a war is always welcome and must be heralded. 

The shield of faith. Faith allows you to move forward knowing heaven is ahead no matter what might get slung at you here. Faith knows the future even when the smoke is thick. 

The helmet of salvation. You’d think it would be the helmet of truth. After all, our minds would be under our helmets. So what is the emphasis here? The truth of your salvation fights the lies in your head. 

The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. The only offensive weapon – the Bible. Know it to know God and fight the enemy often in the close combat of his clever truths. 

Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13.

Leading from Weakness

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Who wants to be led by a weak person, right? So, we project strength … even when we are weak. 

This is dumb. It will collapse. The people you are leading will surprise you when you confess you are weak. They will relate. You will have opportunity to point them to the strength of Jesus instead of your strength. How much better is that?!

A danger in our Christian culture is to take strong leadership principles from the world and apply them without a stronger understanding of leadership in the Bible.

Leaders in the Bible are:

Meek = strength under control, non tyrant. God called Moses the meekest on earth. 

Weak = aware of your real strength. 2 Corinthians is Paul telling the church how it’s Jesus who is strong, not him).

Psalm 18 is David sharing how God is his strength and how much David loves Him for His strength. David was a strong man – killed large animals and a giant no problem with his hands or a sling. But he knew his strength was the Lord. Do you?

A New Bridge in Raleigh

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Bridges connect one side to another. They make destinations accessible and a straighter path to them. 

This past Sunday, April 7th, Bridge Fellowship Church launched!  Their mission? Bridging people back to God through the gospel. The Bridge is all about bridging you back to God through Jesus. 

How’d the launch go? The team God assembled did a fantastic job setting up and serving all who are beginning to make Bridge their church home. You’re invited! Pastor Douglas preached a powerful sermon about Who they are all about and what Bridge will do (listen here). Worship leader Taylor Pritchard ensured we gave all the credit to God. Bridge Kids ministry was a hit (my kids had a total blast!).

If you live in Southeast Raleigh and want to learn about Jesus, find a great church home and serve the community, make your first trip to Raleigh’s newest Bridge!

The Bridge is Launching!

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God has been building a team to plant a new church in Southeast Raleigh. Bridge Fellowship Church will launch on April 7th at 10am at 2600 Timber Dr. Get connected here

On March 17th, we got to “tell of God’s wondrous deeds” (Psalm 105:1-2) by retelling the story of how we met the pastor-to-be Douglas Humphrey and were convinced by the Lord quickly that this was an opportunity to steward for His glory.

Sunday we ordained Douglas. Ordination is a public recognition by elders of a church affirming Jesus’ calling on a man to Pastor, including affirming his conversion, character and competency. Our elders gave Douglas some charges from God’s Word and prayed over him. Pray for Douglas. 

Then we commissioned the launch team, a group of diverse but eternally united-by-Jesus individuals. These Jesus-followers are so excited about what God is already doing in Bridge and will do as Bridge is launched. Pray for them.

In the lead-up to their launch, we will be helping Bridge with multiple community outreaches and having a week of prayer April 1-7. 

All of this flows directly from the living God, whose Plan A is the church. We love you Lord!

Energizing Marriage

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Author Emerson Eggerichs in his book, Love and Respect, outlines three major cycles that a typical marriage faces: The Crazy Cycle, the Energizing Cycle and the Rewarding Cycle. 

The Crazy Cycle is when he won’t love and she won’t respect. Both are unwilling to make a move until the other does. Crazy. The Rewarded Cycle is when he is loving his wife well and she is respecting her husband. This is based on Ephesians 5:33 “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” The Energizing is how to get to The Rewarded Cycle and how to stay out of The Crazy Cycle.

In recent sermons on marriage from Ephesians 5:22-33 I have shared the outlines of The Energizing Cycles for both the wife and the husband as practical examples to help your marriage via God’s design for your good.

Here they are: 

Wives…

The energizing cycle: CHAIRS 

  • Conquest: Appreciate his desire to work and achieve
  • Hierarchy: Appreciate his desire to protect and provide
  • Authority: Appreciate his desire to serve and lead
  • Insight: Appreciate his desire to analyze and counsel
  • Relationship: Appreciate his desire for shoulder-to-shoulder friendship
  • Sexuality: Appreciate his desire for sexual intimacy

The rewarding cycle: Love and Respect

Husbands… 

The energizing cycle: COUPLE 

  • Closeness: She wants you to be close 
  • Openness: She wants you to open up to her 
  • Understanding: Don’t try to “fix” her, just listen. 
  • Peacemaking: She wants you to say: “I’m sorry” 
  • Loyalty: She needs to know you’re committed
  • Esteem: She wants you to honor and cherish her

These were just 3 minutes from each sermon and there is more life-giving help from God’s Word for the wife and the husband for the good of your marriage. We’re all learning. Thankful that God gives direction. His Word is a lamp for our path. 

Sermons:

“Healthy Marriages – Wives” – Ephesians 5:22-24

“Healthy Marriages – Husbands” – Ephesians 5:25-33

Woman of God

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Ladies, the world is in your ear. Dangerous. Your own voice is in your ear. Regularly dangerous. This image represents God’s voice in your ear (awesome and life-giving!) versus the world’s slander. The goal is here is you knowing who you are in Jesus Christ.

(I do not know the source. Whoever drew this, thank you and amen!). 

If you read these and are enamored that God would actually, truly say these to you … He will. God is your Creator. God is not a bully. God speaks truth in love. If you are facing your insecurities or your weaknesses or your sin and the mountain they are to overcome, especially in your own strength, ask our helping God to help you. Ask Him to speak truth in love to you. Ask Him to help you put on the identity you have in Jesus. If you recognize you do not have identity in Jesus Christ because you do not know Him, you can. Confess your need for God and your sin before Him, thank God for creating and loving you and sending a savior to pay for your sin: Jesus. Worship God that while you are yet a sinner, Jesus died for you. Exalt God who speaks these phrases to you. Be certain of them because you are certain of God and make Jesus #1 in your life.

I recognize also there are empty “good things” the world says about you or suggests you to do or say to yourself for transformation. You may wisely recognize they do little to transform. They are not rooted in God and rather rooted in fleeting identities or feelings. Phrases like “be happy” and “do something good for yourself today” aren’t bad but they fail to be a solid foundation and can regularly be shifting sand … why? They change, are temporary and subjective. Root who you are in God who is unchanging, eternal and true. He made you, saves you and loves you. It’s the ultimate “YOU ARE LOVED”!

From sermon: Healthy Marriage: The Wife, Ephesians 5:22-24

Additional Elders!

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On February 17th we installed two more elders to our elder team! 

Seth Apple and Kenny Perry are both godly men who Jesus has been raising up to be elders. They have served for years in as small group coaches as well as many other roles in the church. More importantly, these men exude the Christian character qualities listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 2:5-9 and 1 Peter 5:1-5.

Be praying for Seth and Kenny and for the now five member elder team who loves you and seeks your health in the Lord Jesus.

Jesus is head of the church. 

Jesus builds His church.

Jesus is kind to give more elders to Harvest Raleigh to serve by leading.

The GCC Senior Pastor and Wife Retreat

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Here’s a snap shot of hundreds of GCC Pastors and Wives belting our praise and prayer to Jesus during this week’s annual Senior Pastor and Wife Retreat. The Great Commission Collective is our church network.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy” (2 Timothy 1:4). Vanessa and I were filled with joy this week as we reconnected face-to-face with friends who are leading great GCC churches all over North America and the world. I even got to attempt my very bad Scottish accent with the Pastor of Harvest Glasgow, Scott Hamilton, as he attempted his even worse =) southern accent with me! 

Something new happened this year. We didn’t go alone! Douglas and Shiela Humphrey who are  planting another GCC church in Raleigh, Bridge Fellowship Church, were with us. It was a blast watching them benefit from this fellowship and see others in the Collective get fired-up about what God is doing in Southeast Raleigh. 

Our sessions were focused around the GCC aim of healthy pastors, strong churches and multiplying ministry. A line from Doug Helmer’s message on pastoral health stuck out to me: healthy pastors must abide in Jesus and not activity. I need to hear this every day. The power for all ministry comes from abiding in Jesus. 

We’re grateful to be a part of this Collective. It is so meaningful to Vanessa and me. God’s works of grace during retreats like this flow directly into Jesus’ church here. Like Ecclesiastes 4 reminds us, we’re better together. 

GCC, you are loved!