I am leaving today for Bay St. Louis Mississippi. I will be part of a mass relief effort for the city of Bay St. Louis. This city was nearly destroyed by hurricane Katrina over two years ago. From Saturday December 29th until Saturday January 5th over 1,000 volunteers will come together to impact this community.
The goal is to build 7 new homes and do remodeling projects on 150 other homes. This will be the Extreme Home Makeover “Christian Edition”.
I am so excited to be a part of this relief effort. Most people have forgotten about the gulf coast and the ongoing work that needs to be done. This will be my third trip to the gulf coast and each time has been such a blessing. To see the faces of the people we help and to know that we made a difference in their lives in amazing.
There will be 15 people from NewPointe Community Church participating on this trip. I look forward to reporting on how things are going in future blogs. You can be a part of this trip by praying for the team and Eight Days of Hope. Some things to pray about would be safe travel for the volunteers, enough supplies and materials, funds to feed all the volunteers and lives to impacted for Christ.
This year Christmas Eve was very interesting for me. I got to experience a very wide range of Christianity. From Amish to NewPointe.
My day started by going to a funeral. This was unlike any funeral I had been to before. My friends father passed away and the funeral was at 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning. This man was Amish, so I went to my first Amish funeral. When I got there most of the family was already in the basement of the house. You see the Amish do not have church buildings, they do church in their homes, barns and shop buildings. There had to be 300 people sitting on wooden benches in this basement.
The first Amish man that got up to speak started a little slow, but picked up some steam. He spoke in Dutch, so I was only able to follow about half of what he said. Yes, I do understand a little Dutch. I did hear him talk about Jesus and making sure we are right with Him. The second guy spoke in English and shared the complete Gospel. He was a nephew on the man that died. He walked through Romans to share that we are all sinners and in need of saving. He went on to share how to do that in a very clear way.
The last Amish man I could not understand at all. Only a few words here and there. By that time I was tired and ready to get out of there. When we finally ended almost two hours later, they started to release people to walk by the casket and pay their final respects. There must have been another 300 people outside, because they just kept filing in, one after the other. The entire Amish community must have been there. It was amazing to see that many people coming to show their love and support.
That is one thing the Amish do very well. They know how to do community. They are very good at caring for and supporting each other. I was once again reminded that we can learn from everyone. The respect they showed for this man and his family was incredible. I had never met this man, but I was friends with one of his sons. I am glad I went and showed my love and respect for this family. It made me wonder if that many people would come out for my funeral? How many lives am I impacting or touching in a positive way? What will people say about me at my funeral? I hope they say more than I was a good guy. I hope people will talk about things that matter like faith, love, relationships and compassion.
Several years ago I wrote down what I would want the people closest to me say at my funeral. I think I will revisit that and see how I am doing. That is a great exercise for all of us to do. What do you want them to say verses what would they actually say. If those are different then you have some work to do in your relationships.
After I got home, I ate lunch and then headed to NewPointe Community Church. We had three services on Christmas Eve. I have to say that the opening song was the most amazing thing I have seen in quite some time. The opening song rocked the house and really got every ones attention. The drummers were amazing with the lights and water on the drums. Way to go creative team! It was a combination of the “Blue men”, “Stomp” and “Drummer Boy”. What a way to worship the One True God!
We had nearly 3,000 people come to the three services. They all heard an incredible message of peace from Pastor Dwight and I am sure many people were impacted for Jesus Christ as we celebrated his birth. The reason I like Christmas is because we get to share the good news of Jesus Christ with so many new people. That never gets old. I am so glad that I am part of a church that is not afraid to try some bold things to reach lost people.
We must never forget why Jesus came in the first place. It is because he loves everyone and wants everyone to know Him. He loves the Amish people that were at that funeral and the 3,000 people that came to NewPointe. He also loves all those people that did not go to church and are far away from Him. The church should be doing everything short of sin to reach the lost people of this world.
I am glad NewPointe is willing to take risks to reach and connect with people. The church should not be boring, it should be the most exciting place on earth. It should be a place where people feel accepted, loved and welcome. A safe place to come and heal and get to know God in an intimate way. A place to come and make new friends and build meaningful relationships. A place to come and help impact and change the world!
What an amazing day!
Do you spend your life trying to please everybody?
I started reading Galatians this morning and got to verse 10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes struggle in this area. I can easily get off track and focus too much on pleasing or winning the approval of people. When I do this, I will often avoid conflict, not say what I really think, say what I think they want to hear or remain silent.
I try to ask myself if what I am doing is pleasing to God or people. Am I simply doing this to look good to those around me or because I know it is what God wants me to do, even if no one else notices.
As I think about it more, I believe this is a maturity issue. Children and teenagers often like to be the center of attention. They want everyone to like them. As you grow older into adulthood, you realize that the world does not revolve around you, that you can never please everyone.
As we grow or mature spiritually, we also become more intimate with God and want His will and purpose more than anything. That intimacy helps us to see people, circumstances and situations like God sees them. We have a new perspective that helps us to think and act more like Jesus would. Intimacy with God gives us the ability to speak the truth in love and to face conflict and difficult situations. It helps us get our hands dirty and reach out to the lost and hurting. It helps us to not judge others, but to love others. It helps us to give more and invest our time in things that have eternal value.
What is the difference between people pleasers and God pleasers? Perspective.
People pleasers lose sight of the big picture and get caught up in the here and now. God pleasers have an eternal perspective, they are willing to do the tough, hard things that sometimes don’t make sense to man, but are pleasing to God.
This past Sunday Bubba Joe was back on the big stage. He crashed the announcements with a goat. Bubba Joe misunderstood the Go ’07 Christmas Edition. He thought we said Goat ’07 Christmas Edition. He borrowed my neighbor’s goat Oatmeal. She did very well on stage. My wife Vikki was the Goat trainer and handler.
Anyway, Go ’07 went well. We sponsored approximately 115 children from Ohio and Iraq and sponsored approximately 52 families locally. My small group took on a family from Dover and today we delivered our gift to the family. I am looking forward to staying in touch with, and praying for this family. They have six children from 19 years old to 18 months old.
Great job NewPointe! let’s keep it going throughout 2008. Together we can make a difference in the lives of the people around us. Reaching out and helping people in need reflects God’s love and compassion for people. Take the time to show acts of kindness to those around you. Take the time to notice the needs of the people in your neighborhood, school, church and community.
This past Saturday we distributed food to over 300 families through the Angel Food ministry at NewPointe Community Church. Angel Food is a ministry to help families stretch their food budgets. One unit of food costs $30.00 (worth over 60.00) and will feed a family of four for two weeks.
We have been growing every month and have been touching people through this outreach ministry. We have people driving from 30-40 minutes away to pick up their food. We also are a host site for other churches in the area to pick up food to distribute to their communities. We currently have 7 other churches picking up food. I think it is great that we can work together as churches to help meet the basic needs of people in our community.
Angel Food at NewPointe has over 80 volunteers involved and is helping us become more outward focused in our ministry. We have heard many stories from people coming to pick up their food how they felt loved and cared for after coming here. Some have even been back to church on Sunday morning. Our goal is to make their day and share God’s love with each person that comes. A simple smile and friendly face go a long way!
I want to say thanks to all the great people that make Angel Food ministries possible. There are volunteers at the church as early as 4:00 a.m. to get ready to unload the trucks. Others come from 8:30 to 12:00 to help distribute the food and others work throughout the week in the office processing orders and doing paperwork.
Here are some pictures from distribution day at NewPointe:
I met with a couple that will be giving leadership to our prayer ministry at NewPointe. They have a real passion for prayer and for the church to become a church of prayer. Prayer is powerful and prayer is a special privilege we have as Christ followers. As we talked about how we can start to raise awareness of prayer, I had to think about my own prayer life.
I asked myself how are you doing in your time of talking with God. I have to admit, I am not where I want to be. Often times when I find myself in a dry spell spiritually it is because my prayer time has dwindled.
When I am spending time with God and really connecting with Him, I find that I am more energized, attentive and patient. I am more likely to pray throughout the day whenever I am facing a challenge or decision. I am more aware of the people around me and my compassion level is much higher.
When I have not been spending enough time with God, I tend to get grumpy, impatient, distracted and tired. I tend to want to be alone and do my own thing. I will often miss opportunities to minister to the people around me. I will even hurt those closest to me by saying or doing something unkind.
So how is your prayer life? Do you need to reconnect with God today? I encourage you to spend an extended time alone just talking with God. Praise Him for who He is, thank Him for what He has done and is going to do in your life, confess your sins (all of them) and pray for the people in your life and anyone that He brings to your mind.
I am so excited about the Go ’07 Christmas Edition we are doing at NewPointe. I have been talking to families in need and it has made me realize how many people are in very difficult situations. We worked through Job & Family services in Tuscarawas County and through many of the local school districts to find families and individuals that are in need. We also have over 100 children from Ohio and Iraq and Jordan that we are providing monthly financial support of $20.00.
That is over 100 children and over 100 families that NewPointe Community Church is going to touch and impact. That is exciting to me, because it helps us to be an outward focused church and not inward. The church is called to change the world and if we are only inward focused we forget about all the hurting and lost people in this world.
These small acts of kindness will show people the love that Jesus talked about in the Bible. It will show them that someone cares.
We are encouraging small groups, families and individuals from NewPointe to adopt a family or a child. If they take a family they make contact with the family and help meet some of their needs. Some of those needs might be Christmas gifts for the children, clothes, school supplies, shoes, coats, gas cards, household items and supplies and even groceries. We also are encouraging them to pray for this family throughout the year and contact them periodically to encourage them.
If a small group or family takes on a child, they will send a monthly check to help meet the needs of that child. We are working with the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio and Impact Ministries to help these children. We have approximately 50 children in Ohio that are either up for adoption or in the foster care system. We also have nearly 100 children from Iraq & Jordan that need assistance. Impact ministries is partially supported by NewPointe and the money will be distributed through the local churches in those countries.
Again, I want to be an outward focused church that is making a difference in our communities and around the world. This is a small step in that direction. GO ’07
I have been reading an old book from Dale Carnegie called “HOW TO STOP WORRYING AND START LIVING”. I have shared a few other thoughts from this book before and wanted to give you his “Seven ways to cultivate a mental attitude that will bring you peace and happiness”.
I believe these seven things can really help in your mental and emotional health.
Rule 1: Let’s fill our minds with thoughts of peace, courage, health, and hope, for “our life is what our thoughts make it.”
Rule 2: Let’s never try to get even with our enemies, because if we do we will still hurt ourselves far more than we hurt them. Let’s do as General Eisenhower does: let’s never waste a minute thinking about people we don’t like.
Rule 3: A. Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let’s expect it. Let’s remember that Jesus healed ten lepers in one day-and only one thanked Him. Why should we expect more gratitude than Jesus got?
B. Let’s remember that the only way to find happiness is not to expect gratitude-but to give for the joy of giving.
C. Let’s remember that gratitude is a “cultivated” trait; so if we want our children to be grateful, we must train them to be grateful.
Rule 4: Count your blessings-not your troubles!
Rule 5: Let’s not imitate others. Let’s find ourselves and be ourselves, for envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide.
Rule 6: When fate hands you a lemon, let’s try to make lemonade.
Rule 7: Let’s forget our own unhappiness-by trying to create a little happiness for others. “When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.”
I hope these rules are an encouragement to you. If you can put them into practice you will experience more peace and happiness. As I read through this book I can see that Carnegie was a Christian and was taking Biblical principles and putting it into easy to understand principles for people to follow. That is our challenge today, to put Biblical principles into action in our lives to make a difference in this world.