The last few weeks have been very exciting. I work at NewPointe Community Church and we have been planning a community Impact day for this Sunday August 3, 2008. A couple of weeks ago, I was not sure we would reach our goal of 1,500 boxes of food for the food drive, and I was not sure how many people would participate in the community impact day. Well it looks like we are very close to our goal of 1,500 boxes. We had money donated as well, that will add to our box total. We also have around 1,000 people participating on Sunday. I hope to have a more accurate number next week. We have over 50 community projects in places like Millersburg, Coshocton, Newcomerstown, Mineral city, Bolivar, Strasburg, Dover, New Philadelphia, Dennison, Uhrichsville, Gnadenhutten, Sugarcreek, Baltic and Dundee.
Someone at work kept telling me all week this is really big (thanks Barbara). I totally agree, because I think this will touch people in ways we will never know. The old saying of people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care is very true. When people know the church cares about them, maybe they will want to hear what we have to say. Maybe they will want to check out this church that is giving to the community. Maybe their lives will be changed forever.
I stand amazed at how God has brought this all together. I believe He has a plan in all of this, and I am so excited to be a part of it. I have heard so many positive comments and I also want to thank the many people that are leading these work teams and that have given so generously to the food drive and to community impact day. It is amazing what a group of people can do if they work together. God is Good!
I love baptism Sunday’s at NewPointe Community Church. Today we baptized 9 people. Each one shared their unique story of what God has been doing in their lives. To hear stories of life change, and to see people making a public commitment to Jesus Christ is very exciting. I get to hear the stories of each person when we video tape them telling a little bit of their story. I always am encouraged by how God is working in their lives.
Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. It is a way of publicly identifying with Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ day people that wanted to become Jewish had to go through a long list of things before they could become Jewish. The last thing on that list was to do a washing or baptism. When they came up out of the water, they were considered Jewish. This tradition transferred to people that wanted to become Christian or Christ followers.
Jesus was baptized by John the baptist to align himself with what John was saying, that the Messiah is coming, repent and be baptized. That is why everyone that calls themselves a Christian should take this step of baptism. Jesus did it Himself, and He asked His disciples and now His church to go into the world and make new followers, baptize them and teach them His ways.
In the New Testament, when someone believed and decided to follow Jesus, they were immediately baptized. This should be done when you make that decision on your own. Many people that attend NewPointe have been re-baptized, because they did not fully understand baptism before or they were baptized as infants. Doing it after they understood what it means to be a Christian is an important step in their spiritual journey. It does not minimize their infant baptism, which was very meaningful to their parents. It just let’s the world know you are a follower of Jesus Christ. It also is an act of obedience and submission to Christ. It represents dying to your old self and being a new creation, a new person. Our faith is a very personal thing, but Jesus asked us to also make it a very public thing, and being baptized is an incredible way to witness to people by sharing your story.
Our next Baptism is scheduled for Sunday August 31st, I can’t wait.
Being a single parent has to be a very difficult thing. Unfortunately many people are finding themselves in this reality. I am not a single parent and don’t pretend to understand the challenges they face. My heart does go out to them as they try their best to raise their kids.
On Sunday August 3rd NewPointe Community Church is offering a free oil change to single parents. This is a small way to say we care and want to help. To participate they must call the church office with information about their vehicle. That number is 330-602-5600. We will then give them a voucher good at one of 5 locations on Sunday August 3rd from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. They will get their car serviced, inspected and washed.
We are also offering free health screenings and free haircuts to children 13 and under that same day. The health screenings and haircuts are open to anyone. The church will be open that Sunday from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. We will also be washing cars outside.
People attending will get free snacks and coffee. We are also handing out toothbrushes and floss. Some of the health screenings include, blood pressure checks, glucose screening, Cholesterol screenings, body mole exams, height, weight and body fat, simple hearing and vision tests and eye glass repairs.
We are hoping people in the community come and take advantage of these offers. We want to bless our community and let individuals and families know that we care about them. This is not a typical thing for a church to do. We believe by giving to our community we are showing God’s love and concern for all people.
Please help spread the word about what is happening on August 3rd at NewPointe.
One thing that I am passionate about is outreach. Reaching out to the people and organizations in our community and in our country and around the world. As a church we can make a difference. My passion to serve the hurting, broken and less fortunate people in our world has been growing. Every day I talk to people that are hurting or struggling in some way. I have seen first hand the poor living conditions of people in our own community. I have talked to people that are unsure where their next meal is coming from. I have seen the destruction of a hurricane and walked the streets of garbage city in Egypt.
I believe God is moving in our community and He wants to use the local church to turn our community on its ear. To do that we all need to play our part. It starts by using the gifts and abilities God has given you to serve people. When we reach out in love to our neighbors, they may not understand it, but a seed is planted. They become curious about a church that gives so freely and really cares about the needs of ordinary people. Those acts of kindness draw people to God. It gives them hope and encouragement and can be the beginning of transforming their lives. It begins to build a relationship of trust that can lead to future open doors and opportunities.
Too often we sit on our hands and stay in our own little world. We don’t want to take the time it takes to really make a difference. What if we all served other people passionately and without conditions? What if we stepped out of our comfort zones on a regular basis? What would happen if that became our culture and we constantly were looking for ways to help and serve others? What if we sent hundreds of people on mission trips to the Middle East and to help with disasters in our country? What if we all gave ten percent of our income? What if we all did just one act of kindness this week?
I want to be a part of a movement like that. An unleashing of the local church that is so untypical, that is has ripple effects that will last for years.
On Sunday August 3rd we are doing a community impact day. On that day we will not have church services, but we will go out and be the church to our community. Groups, families and individuals will gather in locations of up to 20-30 miles from our church and serve people, schools, non-profit organizations and cities. These acts of service will generate a buzz around those communities and draw attention to God. That is the ultimate goal, to glorify God, to show people that His ways are not our ways. That Christians are not typical or ordinary but extraordinary and untypical.
I hope that all those that call NewPointe their home church will get involved and make a difference. This isn’t just about one day of serving, its about changing our communities and changing lives. It’s about being a church that shines so bright, it can’t be ignored.
I try to do a lot of reading, but it goes in spurts. Currently I am heading into a spurt as I am starting to read three new books. One is on leadership, and I came across this quote in chapter two: “Hunger itself is one of the biggest facets of leadership.” That is from the book Launching A Leadership Revolution, by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward.
That simple quote really made me think. What am I hungry for? What gives me energy to start something, the stamina to persist in it and the will to finish an endeavor? I am in the middle of a huge challenge in my work place. This quote has helped me to step back and look at where I am and why I am doing what I am doing.
A hungry person will search persistently for food. I was on a diet recently and found myself hungry at times. When I was hungry, all I could think about was food. When was my next meal and what was I going to eat. A hungry leader will keep pushing forward no matter what stands in the way. A hungry leader is constantly thinking about what is next, what will happen if we do this or go there or try that?
A bigger question to me is what is feeding your hunger? Is it your ego? Is it your ambition? Or maybe it is your purpose in life, understanding why you are here and what role you are playing in this world.
Hungry leaders are driven to change the status quo. They cannot just maintain things, they feel compelled to grow themselves and their organizations. If you have lost your hunger, maybe you don’t have the right thing feeding it. Finding your bigger purpose in life can make you hungry again. The hungrier you are the bigger your vision gets and the more influence you carry.
I was reading today and came across this line, “Don’t hide from the truth you need to hear.”
This guys was talking about feedback at work and even going to the doctor or dentist. It resonated with me because I was that guy. Often times I would hide from the truth I needed to hear. I knew areas I am weak in and struggle with at work and personally. I knew I needed to get a physical, yet avoided making an appointment.
About three years ago I got a heath screening and was shocked at the results. At the age of 36 they told me to go see my doctor right away. I had high cholesterol, high blood sugar, very low good cholesterol, was overweight and my blood pressure was not good. Needless to say, that truth got my attention. I began the long process of change in my physical health. You could say that the truth I was hiding from found me and shook me up. Well, three years later my cholesterol is down almost 100 points, my good cholesterol has more than doubled, my sugar is way down and my blood pressure is right on. I have lost weight and am exercising regularly. I have changed the way I eat and exercise and my perspective on health and food has changed.
All that made me think about other truth that we hide from. The Bible says that the truth will set you free. To be set free we need to face the truth and not hide. Adam & Eve hid from God after they sinned in the garden of Eden. We too, often try to hide from God when we sin or fall short. We look at some of our behavior and think, I can’t change, that is just how I am. We keep doing the same things over and over again and feel worse and worse after we do it. We usually only change after the truth shakes us up. To find out the truth maybe you need to ask for some feedback from those closest to you.
When was the last time you asked your spouse how you could be a better husband or wife? When was the last time you asked a friend the truth about yourself? When was the last time you felt God telling you to surrender that certain thing to Him? When was the last time you heard a message at church that hit you between the eyes? When truth hits us, it can sometimes bounce off of us. We can feel conviction, but not change. We know we should follow through, yet we don’t put into action what we know will be good for us. To really change you must make a decision that you want to change and that you will get the help you need to change.
You see I did not lose weight and get healthy by myself. I had my wife helping me, I had a coach I met with and a program I followed. If you want to change spiritually or emotionally, you must do the same thing. You need people around you to support and encourage you; to challenge and motivate you; to hold you accountable and push you. The Bible is full of truth for us to follow. When we apply those truths to our lives we grow, change, influence and impact people. When we take truth and put into into action we begin to change. Our perspective about God and other people begins to change. We start seeing things differently.
What truth are you hiding from? Is it the truth about money, possessions and work? How about relationships and marriage, or being single? What about the truth about our hearts or what we put into our minds? It may be the truth about eternal life or even physical health. Most people say they are searching for truth and want truth, yet most of us hide from the truth we need to hear.
Have you heard the phrase to speak the truth in love. When we know something is true, we are to speak it, not to hurt or destroy, but to lovingly help. Don’t think about speaking truth to someone unless you have built a bridge with that person. Otherwise they are not going to want to hear it from you. First build the relationship and trust, then wait for God to open the door to share whatever truth will help that person. If you want to be healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically you need to apply the truth from God’s Word to your everyday life. It starts with the little things that we know we should do. Build on that day by day and don’t procrastinate about things you know you need to face. Ask others for feedback on how they think you need to change, and don’t get offended when they are honest. Remember that only when the truth shakes you up do you begin to really change.
This weekend was very interesting for me. It was busy, but relaxed, if that makes sense. Friday was a holiday and I spent the day with my wife shopping and just hanging out. Saturday morning I got up and went to the First Town days in New Philadelphia and ran in my first 5k race. I ran with some other NewPointer’s Dave Cantwell, Kevin & Marianne West, Pat Walker, Jenn Klopfer. I am sure there were some others as well. I was a little nervous before the race, because people kept telling us how tough the course was, a lot of hills. I ran most of the race with Dave, he helped me set the pace. I ended up running a better time than I expected and loved the whole environment of running. I can see how this can be a little addictive. I did not realize the running world was so popular. I can’t wait for the next race I can run in.
Later on Saturday I did a wedding for a couple at the Carlisle Inn in Sugarcreek. Congratulations Ron & Jackie! I went home and relaxed Saturday evening by mowing the yard and pulling some weeds in the garden.
Sunday morning I was scheduled to preach at my parents church. I did catch the first part of the NewPointe service online. It rocked! Pleasant View Mennonite church was having a day at the park (Memory Park near Mt. Hope). I grew up in this church, so it was a little weird to be preaching in front of that church. My grandpa and grandma came out to see me as well. They had never heard me preach. My grandfather was a pastor at Sharon Mennonite for many years. He is very passionate about preaching and still loves it, he is in his mid 80’s.
I talked about loving God with all your soul. How we need to make sure our souls are well tended. These were the main points:
1. Receive God’s love – You matter to God. You are significant and God loves you. You can’t do anything to make God love you more. God wants to use the pain from your past for ministry in the future. To do that you need to allow God to heal the hurts and hangups you have from your past. Only then can you experience His love and become the person He wants you to be.
2. Set some Soul/spiritual goals – Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. You need to plan and work at it like any relationship. When was the last time you sat down and set some spiritual growth goals?
3. Prayer – Prayer is how we build intimacy with God. We are all priest’s that can communicate with God at any time. Your prayers should be simple, real and honest.
4. Love other people – If you can’t get along with other people then you may have a problem with God. Jesus said to love our neighbor as ourselves. He said this is as important as loving God. How compassionate are you about other people.
I challenged them to stand out from the ordinary Christians. To be a purple cow Christian, that will turn heads and make people ask questions. The local church is God’s only plan to change the world!
That was my weekend. I had a couple of naps, finished a John Grisham book and went on a walk with my wife as well. Oh yea, we drove to Canton and bought some cat food.
On Wednesday night we kicked off a new series called Untypical for the month of July. At NewPointe Community Church we have a service on the first Wednesday of every month. It is a great time of worship, prayer, reflection, learning and sharing the Lord’s Supper. Last night we took an untypical look back, ahead, inward and upward.
The night started with incredible music and Danny Bunnelle talked about looking back. He used the song “What a Good God You’ve Been to Me” and talked about how faithful God is. Even in the darkest of times God is faithful and helps us through those times.
Then Kevin West talked about looking ahead and threw out the statement that “Greatness is in your future.” He challenged us to strive for greatness and use it for God’s glory. To see the world the way God sees it and to respond the way God would respond to the world around us.
John Bunn spoke next about Looking inward. He talked about setting aside time to be with God, to take an inventory of where we are with God and finally to pray. John shared his heart for NewPointe to be untypical and to really impact and change our community.
I spoke last about Looking up. Looking up is about having an encounter with God. A moment when God comes down and meets with us. I shared my story of surrendering to God and praying the dangerous prayer of Yes, Lord use me, which led me on a two year journey to full time ministry. In Exodus Moses took the people out of camp to meet with God at Mt. Sinai. The spiritual truth I shared from that is this: Often times, life-altering encounters with God require us to leave the routine, the comfortable and the familiar. Only when we take those dangerous steps do we encounter God and transform our lives.
We ending by worshiping God through communion. We also kicked off our food drive for Go ’08. Our goal is to fill 1,500 boxes with 10-15 food items and deliver those boxes to four area food pantries. this is not a typical thing for a church to do, but I don’t want to be a typical church. My desire is for our church to so impact the communities around us that they can’t imagine life without NewPointe. That may sound arrogant, but I believe that the local church is the hope of the world and the church is God’s plan to change the world. To do that we need to GO out into the world and impact people up close.