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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Advent Conspiracy – Worship Fully

            Worship requires humility.  Humility is something most of us aren’t very good at.
            Unfortunately, when most of us think about worship it is only connected to music that emotionally moves us, up-raised hands and cherubic expressions on our faces as we are caught up in the moment.  Expressions like, “That was a great time of worship!” are largely a reflection of how we felt – our emotional response – to the music or the environment.  But that’s not necessarily worship.
            If emotion is where we believe worship begins, we are in trouble.  Emotion can be (and should be!) a response to worshipping properly but in itself is not worship.  Let’s go back to the humility thing to understand what worship is really all about.
            To worship something is to elevate its value and importance.  We worship many things in life – security, safety, wealth, success, relationships, careers, family would be just a few.  Here’s the problem, the Bible makes it very clear the nature of worship is exclusivity.  You can’t worship two things at the same time.  To worship something or someone is to put them at the very top of all other things.  When you worship something, you become its servant.  This is what Jesus is talking about in Luke 16:13 where he says you can’t serve two masters – God and money.  Worship is exclusive and there is no one more exclusive than God.
            So, worship is not about how you feel, it is about what you do.  To worship God is to put him above all things.  To worship God is to put him first in your life.  To worship God is to not let anything come before him.  To worship God is to humble yourself to put God’s will above your own will.  The most profound act of worship ever recorded in the Bible is when Jesus bowed in prayer as he faced a certain death and said to his Heavenly Father, “…not my will, but yours, be done.”  (Luke 22:42)

            As we enter into Advent it is ultimately an invitation to worship God above any and every other thing on earth and in heaven.  God showed his love for us in a profound way by giving the gift of his son.  And, in giving this beautiful gift God once again showed the world his love, splendor and power.  He didn’t have to but once again he gave another reason why he should be elevated above every other thing.  We worship God not because we feel like it, we worship God because he is worthy to be worshipped.
            Worship purely expressed is when we echo the words of John the Baptist.  When John’s disciples came to him worried about the defections over to Jesus, John didn’t try to elevate himself.  He did exactly the opposite.  He humbled himself.  “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)  Those are the words that show us what worshipping fully looks like.
            Jesus came to be King of kings, Lord of lords.  He will accept no other position.  He must increase and you must decrease.

Peace and grace,

David

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Conflicted Compassion

            I was recently asked by a community leader what I thought about the homeless issue in our community.  My response to her question was:  “It’s complicated.”  There are no easy, quick solutions to dealing with homelessness in our community.  But isn’t this pretty much true of every issue that matters?  Of the important things that affect people’s lives?
            Cold Springs Church was the first church to open its doors to the Nomadic Shelter in our community.  That first year Foothills United Methodist Church partnered with us to begin the Nomadic Shelter two nights per week.  That was five years ago and now a number of churches have come on board to open their doors and offer to volunteer seven nights per week.  As the weather turns cold and wet, more people will be using the service.  Last year, on some nights, there were upwards to 50 people.

            I’ve got to be honest with you, I don’t struggle so much with homelessness, I struggle with messiness.  I want people’s lives to be better by them being better.  I want people to be healthy by making choices that will lead them into health.  I’m often times judgmental and lack the grace I wish I had (and expect people to show me!).  It’s complicated.  And here’s the real rub – there are people in this world who don’t care about their messiness, don’t recognize their messiness or are incapable of dealing with their messiness because of mental issues, addictions or brokenness.  I want simple solutions to complex problems – and they don’t exist. 
So what do we do?  We look to scripture to guide us.
The other morning when I came into church, those who had spent the night at the shelter were packing up and preparing to leave.  It included a family with a couple of small children and I was glad Cold Springs Church opened its doors to care for this family.
Jesus tells a story about wheat and weeds to make a point about the Kingdom of God.  (see Matthew 13:24-30)  In this story there is a wheat field but an enemy plants weeds in the middle of the night.  The weeds and the wheat look similar in their early stages and as they mature their roots become intertwined.  The servants ask the master whether they should pull the weeds or not.  The master says to leave the weeds because if they pull them they will pull up some good wheat as well.  Also, there will come a day when everything will be sorted out – the wheat will be sorted from the weeds and the weeds will be burned up in fire.
Here is the moral of the story:  In life, some people are weeds and some people are wheat and it can be hard to tell them apart.  But rest assured, someone does know the difference and he will sort it out in the end.
The homeless shelter has helped a lot of people over the past five years.  I think of Dave and Donna.  They were in the shelter but got help that saw them get married and into a place of their own.  Dave recently died of a heart attack – in his own home.  Or Cherish who struggled with life and addictions and found herself in the shelter but got help and this time it took root and now she is a coordinating volunteer.  And there are others – messy lives that have been restored, strengthened and changed.
Being compassionate is not easy and often comes with internal conflict.  But we need to do the right thing and trust God that he will sort it out.  And be assured – he will (in his time).  Do what’s right because it’s right.  Trust God.
Peace and grace,
David
           


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thursday Night Church Is Coming!!

            Is going to church a means or an end?  If you take a stroll through church history you are going to see that it has been seen as both, depending upon the time in history and the group of believers.  If going to church is seen as an end, it gets easy to fall into legalism – there becomes a right time, a right place, a right day and a right way.  That means there also become wrong times, wrong places, wrong days and wrong ways.
            I believe going to church is a means to being the church.  Being the church is being part of a local group of people who gather to fulfill the greatest commandment – love God with our whole being and love others (Mark 12:29-31).  That local group of people is part of a worldwide group of people and a historical group of people going back to Jesus (Colossians 1:17-20).  The church exists to lift Jesus up by worshipping him (John 4:23-24), hold Jesus up as the way to be saved (John 14:6) and build each other up so we are more like Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-13).
            Cold Springs Church is committed to being the church in our community.  And, a part of us being the church is to help people go to church so they can meet Jesus in worship, discover Jesus is our savior and experience the grace of Jesus that restores and strengthens.  So, we seek to be like the early church -  meeting where and when people were able.

            Thursday, November 21st marks the launch of a new way we are continuing to be the church in our community.  Within a 10-mile radius of the Cold Springs Church property are 72,000 people!  An optimistic estimate would put only 15% being connected to Jesus and his church.  That means there are 61,000 people who Jesus loves but are not experiencing his love because they aren’t a part of being the church.
            Imagine with me 200 men of courage, women of dignity and children of hope gathered together each Thursday night who are worshipping Jesus, finding salvation and experiencing a grace that restores and strengthens their lives, marriages, families and community.  That is what I see as we fully launch Thursday Night Church on February 6th, 2014.
            November 21st, December 19th and January 16th we will be doing preview services so we can get a taste of what God is going to do.  We will start with a meal at 6:15 for everyone and then start the service at 6:45 with full youth and kids programs available.
            Here is what I need from you:  PRAY for us, for our community, for your friends and family.  Pray God will bless our faith and effort and many will come.  INVITE anyone and everyone!  Grab a handful of invite cards and pass them out to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.  SERVE by volunteering – be a greeter, be part of the children/youth ministry team, help in clean-up and tear-down.  There are many opportunities to volunteer.  Send us an email at volunteer@coldspringschurch.net and we will help you find a place to serve.
            Let’s be the church and see what God does through our faithful obedience!

Peace and grace,

David

Friday, November 15, 2013

We Are Family - Family Does Generosity

I like being generous.  It brings me joy to give to others and see them blessed.  I began learning to be generous from my Dad when I was a little kid.  We would be sitting together in the pew (that would be an old-school bench seat for you uninitiated) in our little church and he would give me a dollar to put in the offering plate when it went by.  My parents gave on a monthly basis and he would hand me the folded check to put in the offering plate on those Sundays.  I liked being able to do that.  It made me feel good.
            Dad’s generosity reached beyond supporting the church.  I also remember there were people in our town who would be struggling financially so my Dad would hire them to do some work for him.  It was work he could have done himself but he had a heart to help others out and help them up.  He still does that with his grandkids – gives them jobs so they can earn money for college.  I try to take these jobs away so I can earn the money but he won’t let me!

            My Dad wasn’t just generous with his money, he was generous with his time as well.  He has always been a great model to me of what it meant for a husband to serve his wife.  My mom was a music teacher for 20+ years for our school of 150 kids, K-12.  She taught them all – littlest to the biggest – and every year there were at least three all school concerts she would do.  My Dad was the set-up, tear-down, sound guy.  Patiently listening to all those off-key singers (but we were cute!) and squacking band members learning to play their instruments.  Dad was generous with his time.  It can be somewhat easy to give away money but to give away our most precious resource?  That is where true generosity begins to show.
            I also remember stories Mom and Dad would tell about their parents and I realize their generosity came from the generosity they saw modeled, too.  My Mom’s Dad (Grandpa Sam to me) had greenhouses and a florist shop.  At the end of the depression in the late 30’s and 40’s people down on their luck would come by looking for food.  He would give them a job – chopping some wood, shoveling some dirt – and pay them something or give them some food.  He always tried to help out, commenting, “They’re just down on their luck and need a little help.”
            For years I’ve given our tithe electronically because it is convenient and I don’t forget that way.  So I haven’t been able to model generosity in one of the ways it was to me.  But I seek to show generosity and encourage generosity in my kids.  And they are catching it.  I have seen them give away something to a friend rather than sell it.  I’ve seen them sacrifice some time to help another out.  It makes my father’s heart proud!
            We need more generous people in the world.  People who are generous with their money, generous with their time, generous with their giftedness; the best way for it to happen is our kids seeing intentional generosity in our lives.  It is going to happen when our kids and grandkids see how blessed we are when we get to be a blessing.
            Be generous.  Be a role-model of generosity.  It can be part of your legacy that will live long after you are gone.
Peace and grace,
David
PS – Thanks Mom and Dad!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

We Are Family – Family Does Service

Many mornings when I look into the face of my beloved dog Aggie, as she waits expectantly for me to put food in her bowl, I ask her, “Why should I feed you again this morning?  I just fed you last night?  And then you are going to want me to do it again tonight!”  And, as dogs so wonderfully do, she looks at me with those adoring eyes that say, “David, you are soooo funny and I think you are awesome.”  You gotta love dogs.

            I’ve asked myself the question of “why bother…” about some other things as well, though.  Why bother cleaning the kitchen?  It is just going to get dirty again – in 5 minutes!  Why mow the lawn?  Grass just grows back.  You know, the list can be endless.
            Ultimately there are two reasons we do the things we do:  reward and responsibility.  It would be cruel and irresponsible for me not to take care of my dog.  When I got Aggie I made a choice to not only get the good things, like companionship and unconditional love, I also made a choice to do the mundane and not-so-pleasant, like feeding her and scooping poop.
            Responsibility and reward are tightly woven together.  When we step up to our responsibilities, there is a reward that takes place.  When we get up and go to work (responsibility) we get the satisfaction of making a contribution to the world, providing for our family and getting a paycheck (reward).  When we go to school and work hard at our studies (responsibility) we get satisfaction from learning, taking steps towards a greater goal and might even get a good grade (reward).  When we do what we are supposed to do (responsibility) we get what we are supposed to get (reward).
            As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:” (1 Peter 4:10, ESV)
            When it comes to the church we need to think about serving in this way:  reward – responsibility – reward.  If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been rewarded with a gift from the Holy Spirit.  That reward – your giftedness – comes with a responsibility.  Your responsibility is to use it to serve others and bring glory to God.  When you carry out your responsibility of serving, you are going to be rewarded.  You are going to be rewarded here on earth with the joy and satisfaction of being part of God’s work in the world.  And, you are going to be rewarded in eternity for your service to God.
            Don’t get me wrong – serving others and serving God is not always a bed of roses and a laugh-a-minute.  You are going to have to “scoop some poop” along the way.  The choice you have is your mindset and focus.  Are you going to focus on the “poop” or the multitude of blessings you have and will be receiving.
            Serving with others can help us keep the right perspective when there seems to be more poop than reward during a particular season.  Together is better.
            So, where are you going to serve?  What gifts have you been rewarded with and have the responsibility to be using for the glory of God?
            For some help in discovering who you are and how God has gifted you, go to our website  (www.coldspringschurch.net) and check out the “Links” section.  There is a spiritual gifts assessment there.  Also, call the church and sit down with one of our ministry staff.  We would love to help you understand who you are and how God wants to use you.  We need you.  The Kingdom God needs you.  Together is better.


Peace,
David


PS – To sign up or get info on serving opportunities, email us at volunteer@coldspringschurch.net!