Blog Address Changed

17 06 2013

Hey Everybody, I’m now going to be blogging from a new address.  You can check it out at jeffmaness.com.

If you want to subscribe via a blog reader go HERE.

 





Trust What You Cannot See

13 06 2013

Just because you can’t SEE something doesn’t mean it’s not STRONG.

There are a number of places in the Scripture that we are challenged to trust what we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:1, Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

2 Corinthians 4:18, So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

John 20:29, Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

I had a first hand experience recently that helped me learn this SPIRITUAL truth in a PHYSICAL way.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I took our daughter Mariah to Elitch Gardens Amusement Park in Denver, CO.  Mariah is a daredevil by nature.  The very first ride we went to was the Tower of Doom.  Which is what it sounds like.  You go up 200 feet in the air sitting in a chair basically, then you free fall those 200 feet.  We rode the Mind Eraser, the Thunder Bold, the Boomerang, the Sidewinder and more.  We had a blast.

The day was coming to an end and there was one ride we were waiting to do.  It was a thrill ride that cost EXTRA.  It’s called the XLR8R.  It’s designed to be like skydiving, bungee jumping & hang-gliding. You’re essentially strapped to a wire, pulled up 150 feet in the air, then you pull a rip cord and plunge in a straight free fall before the cable swings you out to safety.

Mariah and I had been waiting the whole day to ride this ride.  We paid the extra money and got in line.  There were about 5 groups in front of us waiting to enjoy this thrilling experience.  We watched one group go up and plunge down to safety.  Another group go up and plunge down to safety.  Another… Another… Another… Then we were up.

We made our way to the “launch pad” and they began to strap us in.  They linked my “jump suit” to Mariah’s, and I could feel them hooking the cable to the back of us, but I couldn’t see a THING.  I had no idea if the cable was secured the right way.  I had no idea if my jump suit was connected properly to my daughters, or if she was strapped in the right way.  All I could do was trust what I COULDN’T see.  I had seen others successfully enjoy this ride, but I had no idea what was holding on to the back of me.

As soon as the launch pad was lowered from under us, our bodies flipped forward and we were hanging horizontal to the ground, held by a single cable strapped to our backs.  Inch by inch, foot by foot we were pulled up to 150 feet in the air.  It doesn’t look as high when you’re on the ground as it does when you’re life is dangling by a cable.  One of the workers comes over a loud speaker and says “Jumpers, 3, 2, 1 FLY!”  That’s when I have to pull the rip cord.  Will I trust what I cannot see or not?

My wife took that video as my daughter and I took the plunge.  Just like I had to trust that cable was strong enough to support me, so do I have to trust that GOD is there and He’s strong enough as well.  We live our lives on a spiritual thrill ride.  We’re constantly having to pull the rip cord, and trust God will see us through.  GREAT spiritual lesson for me from a day out with my daughter.

Learning,

Jeff





Planning Doesn’t Always Pay Off

12 06 2013

Just because you plan doesn’t mean the end product will be a pay off.

Yesterday, I put a video on the blog that we made based off of part of the message from this past Sunday here at Element Church.  You can check out the video HERE if you want.  That video was a GREAT leadership lesson for me that I wanted to share.

We plan our services weeks in advance.  We work off of what we call a “13 week strategy.”  Each Tuesday, we meet as a creative team to pray, plan and discuss the upcoming Sundays and how we can most effectively communicate the message for that day.  From songs to videos and set designs to sermon illustrations.  Every detail of each Sunday is discussed.  When a new series falls within 13 weeks out, we start talking about the big ideas of that series.  When a Sunday falls within 5 weeks, I submit an outline of the message to our team and we start talking about anything we can do to support that message specifically.

Well, 6 weeks ago, when we planned this past Sunday, I came to our team with the outline and message that I eventually presented to you from the stage on Sunday.  I shared something I’d learned from 1 Peter 5:8 and how the word “enemy” used in that verse is the Greek word “Antidikos” and literally means “Prosecuting attorney.”  So I posed the idea of shooting a video in a court room, describing how the devil tries to devour us with his accusations, but also how God is our DEFENDER.

The team added some great input & insight.  We loved the IDEA of it, so we began to plan.  Jeremiah, our creative director, scheduled time to film in a county courtroom.  I wrote the script.  We made time at the end of the service to show it.  We went in after hours to film it.  Jeremiah spent HOURS in the editing process.  The plan was working out and the pay off was going to be GREAT!  Then we watched the video last Tuesday to preview it…and the pay off wasn’t there.

The video was fine.  The quality was good.  The concept was great.  Nothing was necessarily WRONG with the video, it just didn’t punch like we planned it would.  Here we had taken all this time, worked weeks in advance, took hours of effort, and we made the decision NOT to use it on Sunday.  Just because you plan doesn’t mean the end product will be a pay off.

But maybe it DID payoff.  HUH?  Because we planned ahead.  Because we filmed it weeks in advance.  Because we previewed it BEFORE Sunday in our creative team.  BECAUSE we put in the work ahead, we were able to pull the plug and still plan to present it in a different way.  When we pulled the plug on the video after our creative team last Tuesday, I still had time to make it a part of my sermon.  The pay off on the VIDEO wasn’t there, but we ended up with the pay off we had hoped.  The truth of the Scripture was presented in the BEST way we knew how.  It just took a plan falling through to get there.

Just because you plan doesn’t mean the end product will be a pay off.

Jeff





My Day In Court

11 06 2013

On Sunday, part of our main Scripture was from 1 Peter 5:8 which says, “Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”  That’s a very familiar, if not famous passage of Scripture.  We have often interpreted this passage to mean that “around every corner, and behind every rock, the devil is waiting to lunge at us and devour us with sin.”  We’ve correlated this passage toward sin & temptation, and that’s not necessarily false.  The devil DOES look to trip us up at all times.  HOWEVER, I learned something new from this passage that I shared on Sunday in my sermon and wanted to share it here in a different way.

We didn’t show this on Sunday, but we took some time a few weeks ago to describe this new truth through video.  You can watch the sermon online HERE, but for a different take on what I explained Sunday, check this out:





Sunday Ruminations (6-9-13)

10 06 2013

—  WOW, WOW, WOW!!  I am SO blown away that God chose me to do what I do.  I don’t ever want to take that for granted.  I was so moved by people sharing of God’s work in the hearts after the message.  My prayer before each sermon I preach is “God, PLEASE do what I cannot do and ONLY you can…move people’s hearts Lord Jesus!”

—  If God doesn’t move hearts, no amount of great words will matter.  I want to do EVERYTHING in my power that I know to do:  Pray, plan, prepare, practice.  But ultimately I need God to do what ONLY He can.

—  19 people acknowledged to us they received salvation and LIFE in Jesus today!  WOO HOO!  If only for the ONE!

—  Had an elderly woman from Texas in church today.  She said: “I’ve been a hard shell (not sure what that meant) Baptist for 40 years…that was the BEST service I have ever been a part of.”  It was awesome!  She was SO kind and encouraging.  She held my hand, looked me right in the eyes and said, “Stay on the path you’re on.”

—  During worship today I was SO overcome, moved to tears, with a thought.  We sang the song “No One Higher”.  In the song it says, “Lord we stand amazed in Your Presence.”  Each service I was overwhelmed with the thought that God doesn’t HAVE to be here with us, but He chooses to be present.  Seriously, take that in.  God’s presence is not a REQUIREMENT to our meeting, it is a BLESSING!  “Lord help us not take YOU for granted!”

—  Our part of the demolition phase for the remodel is DONE!!  WOO HOO!!  I believe they are starting the construction phase this week.  I want to say “Thank you” to the MANY people who took time out of their busy schedules to come help with demo and clean up.  We cleared out THOUSANDS of square feet of building.  We’ll try and keep everyone up to date on the process.

—  Continued our sermon series “Dad” today by asking the question, “What does God defend in us?”  Preached from 1 Peter 5:6-9.  Here are some excerpts on the day:

  • God’s much more concerned with what happens IN us than He is about what happens AROUND us.
  • It’s much better to humble yourself BEFORE God than it is to be humbled BY God.
  • When we humble ourselves under the mighty power of God we stop LOOKING for honor because we’re in it to bring HIM honor.
  • The right time for us to receive honor is when that honor will bring God the most glory.
  • God doesn’t honor us so we look good, God chooses to honor us so He receives the glory, and sometimes, God gets the most glory when we humble ourselves under His mighty power even if it might bring more pain.
  • Being our defender doesn’t mean God protects us from all HARM.  Being our defender means that God protects our HEARTS in the midst of the harm.
  • God’s not AS concerned about our health as He is about our hearts.
  • Jesus not only DIED for our history, He lives to DEFEND it!
  • Every time the devil opens His mouth against a believer, Jesus says, “OBJECTION” and the Father says, “SUSTAINED”!  How cool is that?
  • What does God defend in us?  He defends our honor, our hearts and our history!

—  Next week, we’re looking at the description of God – “He places the lonely in families.”

—  I love that these descriptions of God are specific.  If someone were to ask me “Describe God,” I would default to “He is loving and gracious and merciful…”.  Ya know, Sunday school stuff.  Those are all true and GREAT about God, but I’ve loved looking at these specific descriptions of God from Psalm 68:5-6.

—  Gonna call it quits with that.  LOVED, LOVED, LOVED church today!  You guys are awesome.  Blessed.

Till the end,

Jeff





HELP NEEDED: Final Demo Push

7 06 2013

photoHey Element Church!  We have ONE more opportunity to get our demo & clean up finished.  We are literally on the door step of this being completed and moving on to the construction phase.  We have done ALL the demo with volunteer help from the people at Element, and I am SO proud of each of you who have stepped up to get this done.  Thank you!

We have ONE more serving opportunity tomorrow (Saturday) from 9 am – noon.  I’m going to be out there, along with some other staff and volunteers.  If you can give any time to try and help us get this finished, we’d love to see you there.  Park around back of the property and the bay doors will be open.  The demo remaining is minimal but lots of clean up remains.

Thanks Element Church for being patient and SO helpful.  You guys are AWESOME!  LET’S DO THIS!

Jeff





The Problem With Prosperity

6 06 2013

Initial prosperity can end up bringing HUGE problems.

No, this is not a slam against health wealth and prosperity teaching.  Although I do not align myself with that theology.  (And by the way, poverty theology is just as dangerous as a prosperity theology.  The idea that God wants to keep us poor and needy all the time is just as dangerous as the idea that He wants us to be healthy, wealthy and happy all the time.  I’m opening up a whole can I didn’t mean to so I’m gonna stop there.)

I was reading something in Genesis not too long ago and it hit me for the first time.  A famine had struck the land of Caanan causing Abram (Abraham) to go to Egypt.  As they were approaching Egypt he basically convinced his wife Sarai (Sarah) to lie about who she was.  They got to Egypt, she said she was Abram’s sister and not his wife, so the Pharaoh took her as his own wife.

This is what I read in Genesis 12:16, Then Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her—sheep, goats, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.

Seems pretty innocent right?  Initially, it seems like some wonderful prosperity.  A little lie here and a little lie there and BOOM you are living the blessed life.  At first glance you might think, “Well that doesn’t seem right.  If Abram lied why did God allow him this level of prosperity?”  Well, what started out initially as prosperity would eventually turn into HUGE problems for Abram.

In Genesis 13 we learn that BECAUSE of the vast amounts of livestock Abram and Lot had, they had to part ways.  Where would Lot end up?  Sodom and Gomorrah where his wife was eventually killed along with the destruction of those two cities.  Initial prosperity can end up bringing HUGE problems.

Then in Genesis 16 we read that Sarai is tired of waiting on the promised child from God, so she takes matters into her own hands and offers Hagar, one of her servants, up to Abram to have sex with and provide them a child.  What was the nationality of Hagar?  An Egyptian.  Where would Abram and Sarai have received an Egyptian servant?  Genesis 12:16,  Then Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her—sheep, goats, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and FEMALE SERVANTS, and camels.

If you know the rest of the story, you know that the situation with Hagar, her son Ishmael and their entire family was a HUGE problem in Abraham’s life and the entire history of Israel.  The descendants of Ishmael became the biggest enemies of Israel.  It just reminded me that initial prosperity is not always what it seems.

Initial prosperity can end up bringing HUGE problems.

Till the end,

Jeff








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