The Gospel Will Never Be Convenient

23 05 2013

The GospelThe Gospel cuts before it calms, it hurts before it heals and it will NEVER be convenient.

I heard one preacher say, “The Gospel must first be bad news before it can ever be Good News.”  The bad news?  We are dead in our transgressions and sins.  All of us like sheep have gone astray.  The wages of our sin is DEATH!  The Good News?  Jesus became ONE of us. He died BECAUSE of us.  He rose from the dead in SPITE of us so that life could be offered to ALL of us.

While the Apostle Paul was in prison in Caesarea under the reign of Governor Felix, he would talk about the Gospel to Felix and his wife Drusilla.  I’ve always been struck by something Felix says.

Acts 24:24-25 says, A few days later Felix came back with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As he reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. “Go away for now,” he replied. “When it is more CONVENIENT, I’ll call for you again.”

I wonder if he ever called him again?  Paul was there in prison for two more years.  How many more times was he able to share the Gospel with Felix?  I don’t know.  All I know is this…the Gospel cuts before it calms.  It hurts before it heals.  It frightens before it brings faith and it will NEVER be convenient.

Or maybe I should say, it’s ALWAYS convenient because the Gospel ALWAYS applies.  Hmmm

Pondering,

Jeff





I’ve Got A Word For You

22 05 2013

Ever have someone say that to you?  It goes something like, “Hey, I feel like God has a word for you that I’m supposed to share.”  They then proceed to tell you whatever it is that God laid on their heart.  Some may call this a “word of prophecy”.  Now I fully believe God COULD use someone to speak a word into or over your life but I’m going to say something that may or may not get me in trouble.

Just because someone speaks a word of prophecy over you doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for you.

I actually have Biblical proof, too.  So I have a word for you that you should listen to.  HA!

In Acts 20:22-23 the Apostle Paul says “And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem.  I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me that in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead.  But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus — the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Paul was “bound by the Spirit”…he was CALLED to go to Jerusalem no matter the cost.  Well, on the way Jerusalem in a boat, Paul stopped at Tyre to unload the cargo.  While there, they found some local believers in Jesus and Acts 21:4b says this “These believers PROPHESIED through the Holy Spirit that Paul should NOT go on to Jerusalem.” 

“Wait a minute.  Paul was bound by the Spirit to GO and these believers prophesied in the Spirit NOT to go.  I’m confused.” Yeah, I don’t know why the Spirit prompted these believers to prophesy what they did.  Maybe it was to test THEIR obedience.  Will they speak what they are prompted to.  Maybe it was to test Paul’s obedience.  Would he still obey even though these people prophesied over him?

I don’t know what the answer is, all I know is that just because someone speaks a word of prophecy over you doesn’t mean it’s God’s will for you.  Test the word against Scripture.  Test it against other trusted people in your life.  Test it against what you already know what God’s asked you to do.  Yes, God can and will use other people to speak into our lives, but what they speak may not always be God’s will for your life.

Discerning,

Jeff





Because The Bible Says So

21 05 2013

“Because the Bible says so” is not always the greatest or ONLY reason to do something. 

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 3.04.17 PMNow YES, I do believe there are some things the Bible says that we SHOULD do or should NOT do that we obey because they’re in the Bible, but if we just stop there I’m not sure we’ve gone deep enough.  Especially on some specific issues in the faith.  Namely, our GIVING!

This past Sunday I taught a message on the reasons I give.  I asked the question, “What have I learned about giving?”  And while yes, I could have just said the Bible tells us to give so we give, it goes SO much deeper than that for me.  On Sunday I shared 5 reasons that I tithe:  1.  It reminds me of WHOSE I am!  (Jesus bought me with a price)  2.  It reminds of whose IT is.  (Everything I have belongs to God.  I give back to Him only what He first gave me)  3.  It reminds me of what it’s all about (People finding LIFE in Christ)  4.  It reminds me of where I put my trust (I either believe God or I don’t)  5.  It reminds me of what to expect (God wants to bless His people)

There is SO much more I wanted to say about giving that I just didn’t have time for, so I thought I’d share a couple other reasons on here as to why I give.

1.  To be a leader to my children financially:  My kids look to ME as their example for life, faith and love.  They watch how I handle the resources God’s given us.  I’ll never forget (before online giving) handing our tithe check to Jonah in the front row for the offering, he opened it up, saw the amount and said “HOLY COW DAD”!  I LOVED it!  After church I got to explain (using many of the reasons above) as to why we give like we do to the church and also had a good talk on not doing that again during the offering.  We give ALL of our kids an allowance.  The main reason we give them an allowance is not to give them money to spend, but to teach them how to give.  Each allowance I/we break up into denominations where they give 10%, save 10% and can spend the rest.  I have only a few years to teach my kids how to handle GOD’S money.

2.  I am ONE HUNDRED PERCENT bought in to what our church is doing:  Our mission is to help people experience LIFE to its fullest in Christ.  Our vision is to be a movement of churches having such an IMPACT that if we were gone our communities would miss us.  Each week we hear stories of LIFE CHANGE and I’m all bought in.  Last week a gentleman, who’s son and daughter in law attend Element, took me out to lunch.  With tears in his eyes, he said, “The reason I wanted to buy you lunch was to tell you thank you.  Jesus, through your church, saved my sons life.”  I love our church!  I love THE church.  It is the BRIDE of Christ.  There is NOTHING else I’d rather give to than Element Church!  And if I weren’t the pastor here I’d be attending somewhere and giving the exact same way.  It’s not a pastor thing, it’s a JESUS thing.

3.  Giving helps break greed in my life:  NOTHING breaks the strangle hold of greed more than generosity.  I said on Sunday, I still have a constant battle between the lure of money & possessions, and my love for God and His mission.  It never stops.  The one way to break that battle of greed is to give.  We put generosity in our budget.  BEYOND the tithe, we budget money to be generous to other people.  I want to be INTENTIONAL on my giving.

My wife and I have automated our giving and I would encourage you to do the same.  I don’t want there to even be a QUESTION as to IF we give or WHEN we give.  When I get paid on the 15th & 30th, AT LEAST 10% AUTOMATICALLY goes to Element Church FIRST.  I believe the START of our giving is the tithe; anything after that becomes an offering.  (Momentum, special projects, intentional generosity, para church organizations)

For 90 days, I’m challenging our church to be GENEROUS.  If you are currently giving, ask God if He wants you to give more.  If you’re not tithing, will you “put God to the test?”  If you will commit to tithe and let us know about it, if at the end of 90 days you believe God was not true to His word we will give you EVERY penny back.  That’s how much I believe in the promise of God.

You can sign up to give online HERE and you can download the entire generosity challenge card HERE.

Giving,

Jeff





Sunday Ruminations (5-19-13)

20 05 2013

Well, with demo starting in our Cheyenne facility a LOT has been changed.  Kids classrooms have been temporarily moved, traffic flow is greatly decreased but it is SUCH an exciting time.  THE WORK HAS BEGUN!  Even with the new classrooms, check in, traffic flow, and general changes it was another GREAT weekend at Element Church.  Here are my ruminations.

photo—  WE NEED YOUR HELP!  In a HUGE cost savings decision, we are doing all the demolition on our own as a church and there is a TON to do.  We’re probably demoing more than 20,000 square feet of walls, ceiling tiles, ceiling grid, electrical conduit, bathrooms and more.  The contractor is ready to begin construction as soon as we have it cleared out so I’m CALLING ALL HELP!

—  We have three, three hour time slots each day that you can serve Monday – Saturday.  9 am – noon; 1 pm – 4 pm & 6 pm – 9 pm.  This might be a great opportunity to get your small group out serving together.  You can sign up HERE by giving us your name and when you’d like to serve.

—  Once demo is complete the first thing being constructed is the new kids area and worship center so let’s knock this bad boy out.

—  Had the cool opportunity to celebrate Pastor Andy’s graduation from his Masters training today.  The last couple of years Andy has been working on his Masters of Ministry from the Pacific Evangelical School of Ministry.  One of the leaders was able to fly in and perform the ceremony today.  It was cool to have our church be a part of that.  CONGRATULATIONS pastor Andy.

—  Started a new sermon series today called “Memorial”.  I taught on money and giving  from Genesis 28:10-22.  Asked the question, “What have I learned about giving?”  Here are some excerpts on the day:

  • Jesus is not after our money, He’s after our heart because if He doesn’t have control of our money He’ll never have control of our hearts.
  • I believe God wants His people to be blessed; for when His people are blessed they are able to be a blessing.
  • When you look for excuses why you don’t HAVE to give, you’ll find them.  But when you look for reasons why you SHOULD give you cannot escape them.  They are unlimited.
  • The tithe…our giving is a LIVING memorial.  It is a LIVING reminder, so that every pay day, when I give back to God through the church, I am literally walking by a memorial altar reminding me of things in my heart.
  • The reason some of us don’t give is we think we came to Jesus and He owes us something.  The reality is, Jesus came to US and He already gave us everything.
  • I don’t tithe SO I’ll be saved, I tithe BECAUSE I’m saved.  It is a living reminder of WHOSE I am.
  • When we tithe we aren’t giving God anything, we’re just returning what is already His.
  • People who have surrendered their money aren’t afraid of the church stealing their money because they know who it belongs to.  It belongs to God.  Tithing reminds me of that.
  • When I see peoples lives being changed and see money going from my bank account to the church, I’m reminded that it’s not all about me!  Tithing reminds me of what it’s all about.
  • We often see tithing as a restriction.  Tithing helps release money’s control on me more than it restricts me.
  • When it comes to giving, God’s not trying to keep something from us, He’s trying to get something TO us.
  • If everything we have comes from God and He asks us to give some back, don’t you think He’s already added into what He’s giving us the amount He’s asking us to give?   WHATEVER God asks us to give He’s fully prepared to provide.   It’s a matter of trust.
  • Our giving is an expression to God not an expectation from God.  We don’t give to get something, we give because we’ve already received something and we’re expressing our thanks back to Him.
  • So many people say “Lord, if I HAD more, I’d give.”  I think God’s saying in return, “If you’d make some room by GIVING, I’d give you more.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 3.04.17 PM— I challenged the church to 90 Days of Generosity today.  As a next step, I handed out 90 Day Generosity Challenge cards to each person.  I’m challenging us to take God at His Word.  IF we give, HE will provide.  If you are currently not tithing and you commit to tithe by letting us know via email or a note, if at the end of 90 days you believe God was not true to His Word we will give you EVERY penny back.  “Try it.  Put me to the test” God says.

—  I had one gentlemen tell me after church “I’m taking you up on the challenge.  I’ve never done that before but I’m going to try it.”  Love it!  I’m praying God does what He promised.

—  My wife and I do all our giving online.  We even automate our giving.  Each pay day (15th and 30th) we AUTOMATICALLY give our tithe back to God through Element Church.  We automate the important and I challenge you to as well.  Online giving is easy and you can make it automatic if you wish.  Check out our giving portal HERE.

—  If you want to download the entire generosity challenge card you can do that HERE!

— That’s about it.  I LOVE MY CHURCH!  Hope you’re joining me on this 90 day challenge.

Till the end,

Jeff





Memorial: New Sermon Series

16 05 2013

56 This Sunday we are starting a new sermon series called “Memorial”.  It’s a short, 2 week series that will take us through Memorial Day Weekend.  A memorial is something established to remind people of a person or event.  It is intended to commemorate someone or something: “They set up a memorial to remember ALL that had been done for them and WHO it was that did it.”

So we are going to talk about MEMORIALS in our life spiritually.  I’ve told our congregation ahead of time that I’m talking about giving this coming Sunday.  If you want to read ahead, read Genesis 28:10-21.

This Sunday I’m going to be sharing from my heart about what God’s taught me on giving to Him through His church.  I’m sharing something this week that I JUST learned in the last few months about giving.  It was a HUGE revelation in my heart and it inspired this whole mini series.

I believe in our church.  I believe that even though you KNOW I’m teaching on money and giving, you are going to come expecting God to speak to you!  I love YOU and I love our CHURCH and I want us to having LIVING memorials in our lives toward God.  Are you ready?

I’m ready,

Jeff





My Kids Hate The Church

15 05 2013

Hand-leadingI hope I NEVER have to say that statement, especially in relation to how I led them.

If I lead a “successful” ministry but I don’t lead my family, I’ve failed.

I don’t remember the first time I heard that said, but it hasn’t left me since.  My #1 goal in ministry is that my WIFE &  KIDS would love Jesus and love His church!  Sadly, I think there are so many kids in ministry families who end up resenting the church and running from Jesus because their parents cared more about the CHURCH family than they did their OWN family.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  Pastors don’t get hate mail from their family.  They don’t get complaints about the music, the message, the programs, the facility, the way the money is spent or not spent from their family.  They don’t have family boards or committees they are trying to  please.  They don’t have family business meetings where votes are made on their level of performance.  In fact, a lot of times the pastor’s family, in an effort to support the parent(s) who’s in ministry, don’t say anything because they are trying to support them; they know there are many times they don’t feel supported.

The danger is, after 5, 10, 15, 20 years of putting the focus on the wrong family (the one in God’s house and not in your OWN house) you find out you’ve had an affair.  You’ve had an affair with the Bride of Christ.  The church has become your mistress.  You’re distant from your spouse, and your kids are distant from the church and its leader…JESUS!  So, my #1 goal in ministry is that THAT doesn’t happen.

This last week I hope I saw a sign of this happening.  Jonah, turned 12 on Thursday.  But this year was different.  Jonah was MORE excited about being able to start serving on Sundays than ANYTHING else on his birthday.  I cannot tell you how THRILLED I was that Jonah set his alarm for 6:45 AM on Sunday so he could come to church with me and SERVE the church!

I can’t say I’ve succeeded yet…but I hope that this is a small sign on the road that says we are headed the right direction.  If I lead a “successful” ministry but I don’t lead my family, I’ve failed.

Trying to lead my family,

Jeff

 





Tearing Down The Walls

14 05 2013

58Hey Element Church!  The first step in building NEW walls is TEARING DOWN THE OLD ONES, and we need your help with that.  This Friday, we are starting demolition on our facility.  There is TONS & TONS (literally) of demolition to be done.  Walls, floors, ceiling tiles, ceiling grid, carpet, cats…Ok, just seeing if you’re paying attention.

We are doing ALL the demo on our own which is a HUGE cost savings.  This is not a 2 or 3 person job, this is a 200 – 300 person job.  (If we want to get it done in time)  There are three, three hour time slots each day starting May 17th – May 25th (excluding Sundays).

If you are 18 or older, we’d love to have you come help us tear down the walls.  Construction cannot begin until all the demolition is done.  SO, if you can give ANY time over the next couple weeks, come join the party.

Ready to destroy something,

Jeff





Sunday Ruminations (5-12-13) MOTHERS DAY ADDITION!!

13 05 2013

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the wonderful moms who call Element Church “home.”  I also want to publicly praise the ONLY person I can imagine being the mom to our kids, Sabrina.  You are an AMAZING wife and mother.  I love you!  Our kids and our home are SO blessed.  And to my mom.  I can’t imagine my life without your leadership in it.  You set forth such a Godly example of motherhood for us kids.  Thank you for all you did and all you still do.  And for anything I haven’t apologized to you about that I haven’t thought of…I’m sorry!

I LOVE OUR CHURCH!  Today was such a great day at Element.  We concluded our Power of ONE series and celebrated Mother’s Day with some testimony videos of the two moms we blessed with the Power of ONE dollar experiment.  Here are the ruminations on the day.

—  If it were Mother’s Day EVERY Sunday we would never have a space issue in 2nd service because they ALL came to first service at the Cheyenne Campus.  HA!  The 9 AM service was SLAMMED.

—  I went into the Living Room after each service today and happened to be the ONLY one in there for a few minutes following first service.  I’ve never seen so many guests in there at one time.  They just kept coming.  Thankfully the troops came rolling in to rescue me, or my introverted personality may have led me to convulsions.

—  I always love going into the Living Room.  It is so great to meet the new people who are coming to our church, hear a little bit of their story and help them get the information they need.

—  I ESPECIALLY love when Elementers invite someone new and they bring them in the Living Room to get connected.  KEEP INVITING.

—  The majority of the day was given to some video highlights and testimonies from the Power of ONE.  We had highlights from the power of ONE day serving opportunity.  LOVED seeing all the people out in Wheatland and Cheyenne loving and serving their community.

—  We also showed two testimonies of the people we blessed with the Power of ONE dollar experiment.  One was a single mom from Wheatland, and the other was a single grandmother from here in Cheyenne.  The grandmother has emergency custody of her grandson who was born addicted to heroin.  Both stories were SO powerful, and I LOVE to see how the church stepped in and was able to bless them in such powerful and tangible ways.

—  Thank you to everyone who participated in the power of ONE dollar experiment.  You guys made a bigger impact than you’ll ever know.  SO, SO proud of our church.  You guys are awesome.

—  DEMO ON OUR REMODEL PROJECT BEGINS FRIDAY!!  We have a TON to demo and are planning about ten days of it, so if you are 18 or older and have some time over the next couple weeks, sign up HERE to be a part of demolition.  Walls need to come down.  Ceiling tiles taken out.  Bathrooms torn apart.  It’s going to be FUN!  I can’t build a THING but I can destroy just about everything.

—  We are doing ALL the demo ourselves, and like I said, there is a TON of it.  This is a huge cost savings, so we need a LOT of people out helping.  There are 3 hour time slots to fill.  If you attend Element and can help in ANY way with demo, we could use your help.

—  Lord willing, we’ll be in construction mode by the end of them month.  SO EXCITED!!

—  With that in mind, there are a TON of temporary changes coming to our traffic flow.  Phase one of construction will effect all of our kids ministry.  We are moving a number of kids classrooms, check in and traffic flow so we are asking for your patience.  This coming Sunday you will notice some big changes.  We are doing our best to provide signs and traffic flow for all the changes.

—  That’s gonna be all!  Element Church, I love you guys and am SO proud to be a part of this church!

Till the end,

Jeff





If You Have All The Answers You’re Not A Leader

9 05 2013

questionsLeaders don’t have all the answers ,they are just asking the right questions. 

So, what questions are you asking?

Most people are familiar with the story of Jesus being “lost” as a child while his parents were on their way home from Jerusalem after the Passover.  He was 12 years old and his parents assumed he was just walking with other family or friends, which would of been common.  When they couldn’t find him that evening they went back to Jerusalem to search for him.  Three days later (I bet Mary was furious) they discovered him in the Temple and Luke 2:46 says this about what Jesus was doing:

“…sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and ASKING QUESTIONS.”

Now, I’m not being sacrilegious at all when I say this; I’m not sure how the whole Fully God/Fully man thing worked.  I FULLY believe that Jesus was FULLY God and FULLY man!  I just don’t know at 12 years old how that all played out.  My opinion is that He was always fully God and fully man.  He had to be or He never was…in my opinion.  Here’s why that’s important.  Why was He asking questions?

I don’t know if this is the case or not, but the last time I read through that passage the fact that He asked questions struck me.  Could He, even at 12 years old, been leaving an example to follow?  Crazy, I know.  But God inspired the writer to record that detail of the childhood of Jesus.  Could it be that as leaders, we need to be asking the right questions.  That’s at least what God challenged my heart with.  So, what questions are you asking?

Leaders don’t have all the answers, they are just asking the right questions. 

Trying to ask,

Jeff





Have you stepped into your purpose?

8 05 2013

Step of faithFor many people, the only thing keeping them from their purpose is the next step!

Now, the next step might be the HARDEST step you’ll ever make in your life, but it’s still the next step.  I’ve seen so many people miss out on or delay living in God’s purpose for their life because of the fear of the next step.  Maybe it’s a financial risk, a relational risk, a career change; it could even be a physical risk.  Whatever it is, whatever step you need to take, you’re either stepping INTO your purpose or standing outside of it.

I read something about Jesus that was so challenging to me.  When He was in the Garden of Gethsemene, pleading with His Father for “another way,” his accusers came to arrest him.  And John 18:4 says this, “Jesus fully realized ALL that was going to happen to him, so he STEPPED FORWARD to meet them.”

WOW!  Let that sink in.  Jesus KNEW the price He was going to pay.  It wasn’t a risk that He was stepping into, it was a KNOWN FACT.  He was going to suffer…and yet He STEPPED FORWARD!  He stepped into His purpose, and His purpose was YOU!

Jesus KNEW the pain He was stepping into and yet He still stepped.  We assume what might possibly happen, and so many times we stand still.  For many people, the only thing keeping them from their purpose is the next step!

Steppping,

Jeff








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