Monday, July 25, 2011

Sacrificial Forgiveness

I was back in the pulpit Sunday with the story of Hosea. I prayed alot over this message, in part because I knew that it would be a hard story for some to take. The whole idea of sacrificing as a way to show forgiveness is radical. Hosea did it for Gomer, God did it for us, but should we be expected to do it for those who have wounded us so badly?

I think the answer is yes... but I want to say that arriving at that conclusion does not come easy.
It does not come without alot of wrestling. And I believe it takes alot of time. No one arrives at the point of sacrificial forgiveness overnight.

As I preached the message, I looked out over the congregation in both services, knowing that some people have been so hurt by others that it seems impossible that they could take the step of sacrificing for that very person. At one point, I almost broke down and cried right there, because I could see the hurt on a person's face. It is a person that I love and care for deeply. I wanted to call a time out, and just freeze the audience and tell that person, "Listen, you may never see yourself getting to that point, and I understand. But if there is ever a glimpse of you being willing to do that, seize it. Don't let it pass. Take the biggest risk and just see what God does with it."

Well, I could not freeze the audience and I know I needed to move on. But the experience reminded me that I preach to real people, and that I am a real person with real feelings. I read once that if you preach to the pain in the pew, you will always have something to say. That is what happened yesterday.

If you missed it, I would invite you to listen the 7.24 message on Hosea. I think it will challenge you. It is challenging me to think about forgiveness to the depth of God's love for us. What a message to the world we would have if we would forgive as the Lord forgave you. It's not really an option. Colossians 3:13 lays that out. It can be hard, it can take time, and it may be quite awkward. But isn't the same true of what God did for us?

It's a journey....a journey we all travel


PS. Thanks for being the kind of church that is willing to tackle the hard subjects. There are probably more to come....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Can She do that?

Our Governor recently called for people to pray for rain. Most Oklahoman's thought that was a good thing. A few people, apparently spooked by the word, "pray", protested that the elected governor of a state should not have done that.

Here is my perspective on this....




Mother nature is not in charge of the weather. I believe in Mother Nature as much as I believe in Mother Goose, The Easter Bunny or Santa Claus ( Sorry Kids).

So , it makes sense to pray to God about the drought and heat wave which right now is causing some real hardship on our farmers, families, children's and some senior adults. I can stay reasonably cool. I can water my lawn, ( at least for now). But there are alot of people who are struggling with this. So why wouldn't we pray to God for a break in the weather?

The Bible says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, present your requests to God." ( Phil. 4)

It seems to me that God invites prayers like this. So I think I will pray for rain... and then trust Him for the results.

The heartburn about the Governor... well, she is a Christian, so she has the right to ask for prayer. She also has the right to be concerned about the hardship this is putting on the state she leads. I kind of like the idea of a Governor who prays. WE NEED ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET

It's just like the Devil to get us talking about church and state. That way we might not pray to God, just talk to ourselves. That does no one any good.

Just a thought.... off to pray for rain...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spirit Led Churches....

In "church world" summer time is often known as a "slump" time. But not at FCC OWASSO. I have been thinking about our summer 2011 . It has been amazing. Just a few highlights...

* Sunday AM Attendance has not slumped at either campus....
* Offerings have held firm...
* Decisions for Christ are happening all over the place...
* We have had a huge increase in church camp participation at all ages
* Our High School ministry just sent off 120 people to the mountains in Colorado
* We have had 2 missions trips. One group went to Thailand and we have 18 in China today.
* Teams are working hard on the Fall RIPPLE EFFECT PROJECT....
* Worship Services have been Awesome, the Hero's series that Matt has led out in has been strong!

I believe that is a result of God's favor being poured out this church. God blesses when His people obey Him. God blesses when His people step out in Boldness, attempting things that are really beyond them, but not beyond God.

A year ago we stepped out in faith and launched our Stone Canyon Campus. 75 or so people went to Stone Canyon. 1 year later 150 people call the Stone Canyon Campus their church. Several have been baptized. The #'s of hours given in service in the community have been incredible. The Spirit is great. The Leadership Core is solid. We celebrate the first year anniversary in August!

This was a huge step for our church. But God always empowers the people who hear and obey His calling. After al,l look at the 11 guys that Jesus had to build the church with. On the surface, they were nobodies. On the surface, they had so much to learn. On the surface , no one would have picked those guys to launch the church. But they had one thing in their life that made all the difference. THEY HAD THE HOLY SPIRIT. Read the first few chapters of Acts... It was all Holy Spirit. It was not them.

I believe that churches who are Spirit Led go places and do things. They are never content with the status quo. They never accept the idea that they have arrived. Spirit led churches step out on faith. They live in boldness. They fight through obstacles. They overcome the enemy. They try new things, all the while keeping their eyes on what is foundational... Jesus and His Word.

I was approached by a man visiting our church last week. He shook my hand and then asked me if I was the Pastor. ( Matt was preaching that day.) I said I was... and he looked at me and said, "The Spirit of God is here."

He could not have said a better thing about our church. We have lots of great things going, great people, great worship, great teaching, and a great caring and loving community. But none of that matters if God's Spirit is not there.

The same goes for your live ( and mine). We are to be Spirit filled and Spirit led. It's the best life to live. And it is the best way to "do" matter what season of the year it is.