Identity Crisis

I just finished a great book by Jarrett Stevens called “The Deity Formerly Known As GOD”. In his book he talks about destructive images we have about who God is and then describes constructive images that help us know who God really is. My favorite destructive image is Talent Show Judge, maybe a heavenly Simon? Many people including Christians have a wrong view of who God is, and because of those wrong views of God they have a wrong view of who they are. This book will help you understand a little better who God is; His character, His heart, and His view of little old us. I am not going to give you the cliff notes, go read the book. After reading this book I looked at myself in the mirror and asked myself Who are you?
Have you looked in the mirror lately, looked deep into your eyes and asked; Who are you? For many of us that is a scary thing to do. For one looking at yourself can be depressing (we are all getting older). Others of us may begin to talk to ourselves and make faces at ourselves. Isn’t it embarrassing when someone walks in on you when you are doing that? Anyway, it can also be scary because you may not like who you see. Maybe you don’t know who you really are or worse, maybe you don’t even like yourself. The identity crisis comes at that moment when you view yourself as a worthless sinner that can’t do anything right. You beat yourself up and put yourself down. Or maybe you think pretty highly of yourself and think you have it pretty well all together. I don’t need much help from anyone (including God). I am a good person that doesn’t hurt people and am pulling my weight. Let’s go back to the mirror. Who do you see? Who are you?
If you are a Christ follower the answer is very easy. If you have stepped across the line and decided to follow Jesus Christ as best you can then there is only one answer. You are a child of the Living God. God looks at you and sees a saint, a son, a daughter. If you are a parent you may have a small idea about how God feels about you. You love your children very much and you want them to be happy and succeed in life. Take that times 700 and you are a little closer to how much God loves and cares for you. It all starts with understanding who God is so that you can understand who you are. God desires to have a close intimate relationship with you and me. If you haven’t made that decision God still loves you and is waiting for you to come back to Him. Keep exploring and searching, because you will come face to face with a loving God that is pursuing you. So look in the mirror and tell yourself “You are a child of God”, that is the beginning of a beautiful new you, the one that God sees.

Group Link

Many of you have heard about Group Link. We do this event four times a year to help people connect in community. On Saturday night I went to Group Link as a small group leader(I am starting a new men’s group). It was a great experience for me and I think for the others attending as well. There were around 50 people there and we had a lot of fun. John Bunn and Celeste Honigford did a great job hosting. As I talked with the folks there I realized how much people desire to get connected and build friendships. I am reminded how much small groups have helped me in my spiritual journey. I have been in several men’s groups over the years and have made some great long lasting friendships. I am excited about the new friendships I will be developing this year with other men and other couples. I look forward to Sunday nights of hanging out with my couples group. We laugh a lot and eat together. We share stories about our lives, children, pets and jobs. It is so easy to get distracted and busy with our lives and forget about building community with other people. Some times it is difficult to have community within our own families. The question to ask is what is making us busy? We make time for what is important to us, and I have discovered that community is vitally important. When we isolate ourselves we tend to not grow. We also miss out on incredible ministry opportunities. It is amazing how God uses community to minister and care for people. That encouraging word, knowing someone cares and will listen and having people on your side is a tremendous advantage in this world we live in.
So if you have been thinking about getting connected in a small group I encourage you to take the risk, take the plunge and see how God will work in your life.

How is your compassion?

I was listening to a message by John Ortberg yesterday about the Power of Compassion. It really challenged me because he talked about going from intention to action. I don’t know about you but I often have good intentions. I intend to call a friend, exercise, finish the three books I am currently reading, tell my wife I love her, volunteer at a community organization, work on my budget and on and on. Just because I think about it or decide that I should do that doesn’t always translate into actually doing it or saying it.
It makes me feel good when I see someone else doing something good to help people. That is why most of us like to hear about stories of people making a difference. I like that and think that I should do something like that. Because I have these feeling of compassion it must mean that I am a compassionate person. My heart breaks for the hurting people in Mississippi & Louisiana, the children in Africa and around the world that are hungry and homeless. Because my heart breaks that must mean that I am compassionate. I think about all the great organizations that are helping people and think about getting involved. Because that is a desire of mine I must be a compassionate person. Well according to Jesus that does not make me a compassionate person. In Matthew chapter 21 verses 28-31 Jesus shares the Parable of the two sons; “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered ‘ I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what the father wanted?”
Wow, that hit me hard, because I am often the second son, I have good intentions but do not go. The vineyard is whatever God is calling you to do. Actions speak louder than thoughts or words. Take courage, go and do instead of just thinking about it or talking about it.

Movie Review

My small group had movie night recently. Every so often we have a fun night where we don’t have discussion or a lesson. On Sunday night was our latest fun night and we decided to watch Facing the Giants. I understand that a church actually produced this movie. A lady in our church gave me a copy of this movie and said that it really helped here, because she was going through a difficult time in her life.
I have to say that this was a good movie. It wasn’t great because the acting was average, but the story was amazing. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone so all I will say is that I got choked up a few times. This is a movie about how Big God is and that no matter what, we need to put our trust in Him. We all have giants in our lives and if we focus on the giants we can quickly be overwhelmed. If we put our focus on God, that changes our perspective and God can accomplish incredible things in our lives. Facing the giants in our lives drives us to our knees and causes us to cry out to God for help and direction. Sometimes it is the wake up call we need to make changes in our life, attitude, priorities and relationships. I give it a 7 out of ten. Go ahead and watch it.

New Family Story

You may have heard Dwight say this before; “People haven’t given up on God, but they have given up on the church.” I met with a woman today that is planning on coming to church with her four children this weekend. She visited us when we were at Sugarcreek about 4 years ago, and they occasionally go to a catholic church because their children go to the school there. Her husband will not come with her this weekend, but she is so excited about coming after the short tour I gave her. She talked about wanting to improve her marriage, finances, parenting and build some lasting relationships. I wonder if she will find any of that here? She said that church for her and her husband was so irrelevant that she would much rather let the kids sleep in on a Sunday rather than pack them up and go to church. The rituals and stuff have zero meaning to this family. After getting a brief tour she said “now this is my kind of church, with the band and the cafe” she hasn’t even heard a message yet.
This is only one sample of the stories that are being written every week here at NewPointe. It is so cool to see God bringing the people here. He does it in so many ways. Our job is to help remove any distractions and make sure they have an incredible experience and want to come back. I can’t wait to see how God will work in this family. The transformation started today. Every week someone is walking through our doors for the first time looking for something. Why do they do it? Usually because someone invested in them and invited them or they are going through a very difficult time and are looking for help. Once again today I was reminded why we do what we do.