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.
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.
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.
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.
I am so excited about the upcoming trips to MS. I went in October of 2005 and it was the most memorable serving experience I have ever had. For me the trip itself was meaningful, because I built some great relationships. Two of the guys I went with ended up in my small group with their wives. Being able to serve the many families in need was also very rewarding. I got to see how grateful the people were and how thankful they were that we were willing to come. I can still see those faces and remember the stories.
I think everyone should go on at least one mission trip. It helps expand your perspective and stretches you to grow in many ways. Many of the people that go on mission trips are changed forever. You develop a servants heart. When you bring that attitude back with you, you can help change our communities by getting involved in local missions and organizations. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need a mission trip to get involved locally. There are many great organizations in our communities that need our help. There are many families and individuals that are in need. My heart is to partner with these groups, organizations and help impact our community.
These trips to Mississippi will also impact those communities. Who knows how God will use these trips. He may be calling someone to take a leap of faith and go. We don’t know who we will meet or what work we will do, but we do know it will make a difference in someones life. God works through people that are available to be used. I want to challenge you to prayerfully consider going on one of these mission trips. If you have questions please post a question or contact me at the church ofice (330-365-2224)
I know it is not football season, but I love this time of year because of NFL free agency and the NFL Draft. It is so much fun to speculate what your favorite team will do. Who will they sign? Who will they draft? I am a big Browns fan and they just signed a Bengal. Sorry John.
This is a great move for the Browns. Eric Steinbech is a solid guard that can play Tackle or even center if needed. It is nice to see the Browns are really committed to improving the offensive line. Most great football teams have great offensive and defensive lines. The big guys in the trenches really determine the game. They don’t get all the glory but they make it happen.
As for the draft I hope the Browns draft one of these three: Joe Thomas, Adrian Peterson or Calvin Johnson. Brady Quin would be an interesting pick as well. Go Browns!
About ten years ago I started working on my personal mission statement. I started to think about what I wanted people to think or say about me. I thought about what my priorities should be. I began to pray about who God wanted me to be. After many drafts and prayers I settled on this:
Growing in Faith, Character and Leadership: A man devoted to improving his personal relationship with God through consistent prayer and study. A faithful, loving husband. A leader in the community, the church and workplace. A man of good character and integrity. A life long learner. A servant to God and other people. A loyal, caring friend and confidant. A positive proactive person that is willing to learn and grow. A man concerned about having a heart more like Jesus. A life that reflects the fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. A man above reproach, who is respectable, hospitable, sincere and honest. A good steward of what God has entrusted him. A mentor and a protege. A teacher and a student. An encourager and a builder. A speaker and a writer. Dependant on God, inspired to serve, devoted to glorifying Jesus Christ.
I try to read through this regularly to remind myself of who I am and why I am here. If you have not done this type of thing I would recommend you start. A great way to get started is to write down what you would Want people to say about you at your funeral. What would your spouse say? What would your children say? What would your co-workers say? Have fun