Well, it’s been a busy couple of months around Friendship Church! For the most part that explains why I took a two month absence from posting another blog post. Besides all of the normal stuff that happens I’ve been doing a lot of preparation work for our future building project.
To give you a little background on how we got here; two years ago we were looking at our growth and realized that very soon we’d be out of space in our building. We talked extensively at that time and actually met with a small group of men, all of whom are elders today at Friendship, and prayed through, talked through, and did research on whether or not we should consider building. At that time we decided that it would be a better use of our resources to begin doing two services, even though all of the “experts” told us we wouldn’t be successful. We believed that was what God was calling us to do. It was a HUGE step of faith, and I’ll be very transparent and say, I was nervous! We launched our two services for the first time in March of last year, a little over a year ago. Since then we’ve grown by 35% or almost 100 people, we’ve seen over 50 people come to know Christ, disciple over 120 through our Workshops! Suffice it to say, it was obviously the right decision and God has blessed us beyond measure.
So far this year we are running just shy of 300 people each weekend, and our kid’s ministry is packed to the gills! If we continue growing anywhere near our current pace, we will outgrow our facilities in a year or less. We’ve spent the last several months, praying, talking, and researching all of our options and we are confident that this time we need to build. Right now we are in the slow, not very exciting, phase of the process. We’ve been talking with financial people and getting ourselves in the best position possible; we’ve had quite a bit of site engineering done, to make sure we know all the potential “surprises” that may come up; and we’ve met with the City of Greenwood to find out there…um…demands ( I jest of course, they’ve actually been very helpful). All in all the process is going along very smoothly and we are excited for this next phase to begin!
Here’s how you can be praying:
- Wisdom: we are going to be making a lot of decisions as we continue to move forward, and we’ve got a tremendous group of elders. However, you can never, ever pray or have enough wisdom when making decisions that will have such a significant impact as this potentially could.
- Vision: one of the reasons that I believe God has blessed Friendship is because we are constantly moving forward towards our vision of “Glorifying God as an Effective and Influential Church”. We don’t want to become so bog down in decisions and details that we stop pursuing the vision.
- Faith: God is doing some pretty amazing things, and I’ve been around long enough to know that when God is moving He’s going to ask us to take some pretty big steps, which means we’ve got to have some pretty deep faith.
- Focus: All of us elders have full-time jobs where we have responsibilities, and on top of that our families. Times like this demand a lot of meetings, and extra hours of reading and research. It can become overwhelming, and cause us to lose focus or get frustrated. I don’t know about you, but no decisions I’ve ever made when frustrated worked out well!
Thanks for praying for us and for the future of Friendship Church! That’s all for now, but keep an eye open for the next update…
Hey Friendship People,
Many of you will be receiving this letter from me, via snail mail, in the next day or two with your year end giving statement for your taxes. However, I wanted to share it with everyone that calls Friendship home. I believe God has great things in store for 2013 and I’m looking forward to what God wants to do with you and through you. Here’s to the year of MORE!
I believe that the hope that comes from knowing Jesus Christ is the seed, the beginning of every good thing in our lives. This hope gives birth to a new way of living. It always believes for the best, even in the face of the worst circumstances. As we look at our nation, our government, and our economy there are a not a lot of things that we can take hope in, but you can have hope today, no matter what surrounds you, because you serve a mighty God who cares, who knows you by name (Isaiah 45:3), who understands the desires of your heart (1 Chronicles 28:9), who knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5)!
Let me encourage you to look up and keep hope alive in your life for 2013! If you are facing setbacks that seem overwhelming, you can have hope! God is for you, not against you. His resources are endless, His love knows no bounds, and no matter what is happening in your life, there is nothing that can ever separate you from Christ (Romans 8:35-39)!
This hope we have cannot be bought or sold, it can only be given away, and each and every weekend that is exactly what we do. We “give away” the message of hope in Christ to those who need it the most, free of charge! Your partnership with Friendship through volunteering, participation, prayer, bringing your friends, and financial giving has built a tremendous foundation from which we proclaim the life-giving message of Jesus Christ! Because of you, and other like you, 2012 was the best year in the life of Friendship Church…THANK YOU, I’m so glad you’re here!
I believe that 2013 will be the year of “More” for Friendship!
I believe God will give us more salvations, more people to minister to, more volunteers, more space, more baptisms, more resources, and more of His overall blessing! I also believe that God wants to do “More” in your life too, so I’ve enclosed an index card for you (you can pick one up at Traci’s counter). Please share with me a situation in your life that seems hopeless, where you want “More” of God’s intervention in your life. You see, I believe that through prayer, God can take any circumstance and transform it for His glory, and I’d like to pray specifically for that to take place in your life in 2013. So, first thing every Monday in 2013, I’m going to take every card that I’ve received and pray through each one of them individually and specifically. As God moves I’d love to hear from you through e-mail, a note, a card, you can even Facebook message me if you like! You can turn in these cards in one of three ways: give it directly to me, drop it in the box marked “prayer cards” on Traci’s counter, or you can simply place it in the offering plate. Please make sure to write clearly and to put your name on the bottom so I know who I’m praying for.
As I close, I’d like to ask you to do something this year as well. Every Monday I send out the Monday Morning Quarterback, when you see it sitting in your inbox would you pause for just a moment and pray for Friendship? It can be something as simple as, “Lord, please bless Friendship Church!”, or you could pray specifically about the message series or some event coming up. I believe in the power of prayer, and if all of us are praying for Friendship each and every week, I have no doubt that 2013 will be the year of “More”!
A very proud senior pastor!
One of Friendship Church’s elders has just started a blog…or at least I just found it, one or the other! In any sense this is a great post and you should read it! Laziness.
Ha, fooled ya! I really hope that after reading my blog, listening to my messages, and talking with me that you know by now I’m not going to tell you who you should vote for. I will however give you a Biblical filter through which you can look at the candidates, decipher which one most closely resembles it, spend time praying and listening, go cast your vote, then thank God that you live in a country where your vote still matters!
Some of these I’ve not touched on previously so I will spend more time and flesh them out, others those I’ve given significant time to or even several blog posts to and I’ll just state them outright and allow you to go back and look at what I’ve previously written.
You should vote for whichever candidate..
- Holds most closely to (publicly and privately) the morality taught in Scripture.
- Gives our nation the best chance to be prosperous. I know that this may sound non-spiritual but listen to this: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” ~ Jeremiah 29:7
- Teaches and exemplifies personal responsibility and accountability. No one else will have to give an account of your life, but you!
- Has a biblical view of government. This was to be a blog post all by itself, but I just ran out of time. Essentially, here is what the Bible says governments role is:
To protect it’s citizens and wage war if necessary Romans 13:1-7; Proverbs 21:15
To establish just and fair laws Proverbs 8:15-16
To punish the guilty Romans 13:4
To reward the righteous 1 Peter 2:14
To allow us to live peaceable and quiet lives 2 Timothy 2:2
To administer unbiased justice Jeremiah 12:12; Leviticus 19:15
To uphold God-given rights of all mankind Genesis 1:26
- Has by their actions, not just words, given of themselves and spoken for those who cannot speak for themselves. (Unborn, poverty stricken, destitute). “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9
Folks, your vote matters. Don’t waste it by voting for someone who does not line up with what the Bible teaches, don’t waste it by voting uninformed, and don’t waste it by not voting at all.
Tony Morgan is one of my all-time favorite church leadership/health/growth gurus! He’s definitely solidified that standing with his latest book Taking the Lid off of Your Church, available on Kindle for a paltry $2.99. Ever since I read the great little e-book The Leisure Suit Trap, which by the way is still available with several other books for free download on Tony’s site, I’ve been a fan and here’s why:
- I can read all of his books in about an hour…that’s a pretty big one for me!
- He has a great sense of humor, Leisure Suit and Cockroaches, need I say more?
- He has actually been a pastor and lead churches through growth and structural change with success
- Half of his books are free…another big selling point
- His stuff actually works…yeah, that’s the big one!!!
In Taking the Lid Off, Tony’s approach doesn’t consist of cute rhymes or meter, but rather meaty questions that cause you to stop and really think through the issue at hand. Tony isn’t trying to sell a ‘one size fits all’ leadership program, instead he forces you to look at yourself and those you’ve surrounded yourself with and ask, “What needs to change for me and my team to be successful?”
Although this book is aimed primarily at church leaders, I believe that it would be a great book for anyone who is serious about becoming a better leader to take an afternoon and read through. I promise you’ll be challenged to think beyond your current situation and you may even find the solution that has been alluding you and end up finding yourself, your team, and your organization or church unstuck.
For more of Tony’s books check out his website: Tony Morgan Live
You can also follow him on Twitter, and it’s well worth the follow: @tonymorganlive
Allow me to first say, I am not going to tag God with any man-made labels. God supersedes them in every fashion of the word and is not limited by our limitations or understanding. So to attempt to label God in this way is like trying to describe an elephant using only cat-like adjectives…anybody want a frisky elephant?
First let’s look at legitimate, non-biased definitions of each of these labels:
Capitalism: a social system based on the principle of individual rights. In such a system, individuals and firms have the right to own and use wealth to earn income and to sell and purchase labor for wages with little or no government control. The function of regulating the economy is then achieved mainly through the operation of market forces where prices and profit dictate where and how resources are used and allocated.
Socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the diminishment of individual rights, for the rights of the whole or community, and vests the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of business, enterprise, land, etc., to the community, primarily through governmental agencies.
As you can see the primary difference between these two socio-economic systems is how they view the individual. If you believe that an individual has the right to do, believe, and live as they want with little or no government involvement then you lean towards Capitalism. If you believe the rights of an individual should be secondary to the good of the community, then you lean towards Socialism. In Capitalism, if you make poor choices you suffer the consequences, and in reverse, if you make good choices you reap the rewards. In Socialism, if you make poor choices the consequences are spread throughout the community, and in reverse, if you make good choices those rewards are spread throughout the community.
So then, the question we must ask is, “Does God’s Word teach individual accountability, both positive and negative, for your actions, or does God’s Word teach shared or community accountability?” Let’s dive in and find out…
“I the Lord search the heartand examine the mind,to reward each person according to their conduct,according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10 NIV)
Great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve. (Jeremiah 32:19 NIV)
And today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me. May the Lord repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds!” (2 Samuel 3:39 NIV)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV)
It’s fairly obvious through just the small snippet of verses I’ve shared, that God is a pretty big proponent of individual accountability, whether it be reward or punishment. Especially within the last verse it is obvious to see that God himself will be the ultimate judge, and we will be judged solely based upon our individual works or deeds, not upon the works or deeds of the community as a whole. To do so would be unjust.
However, there is one HUGE exception to this in God’s plan. According to God, in his eyes, all of our good deeds, excellent effort, and achievement are worthless when compared to the mountain of sin within us…
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6 NIV)
As individuals, we are incapable of balancing the scales of God’s justice. So, God instituted a plan in which all of our sin, both individually and corporately as a human race, would be placed upon one man, and he would bear the brunt of our suffering, he would accept our pain, and he would pay our judgment. Jesus Christ took our place, through his death our guilt has been expunged, and through his resurrection our new life is made possible!
However, this “free gift” has a requirement, you must believe and humble yourself before God. You cannot receive this gift and then continue to live as if you are living only for you. Your life is no longer your own, you now live for Christ.
There are two things I believe we can take away from this:
First, individual accountability, both good and bad, is absolutely Godly and a worthy model to follow within our families, our communities, our nation, and our world. When it is removed our society begins it’s downward spiral into the deepest recesses of our sinfulness. When both reward and punishment are no longer realities, then there is no incentive to do good and no deterrent to avoid evil.
Second, in some cases when an individual has gotten himself to a point where there is no hope of recovery it may be necessary for others to step in and provide assistance. But, as with God, this assistance cannot be without requirement, and must always be followed with a change in life that will lead that person away from the destructive pattern of their past.
I hope that this has helped you think through things as the election of our officials draws near. As you listen to our two candidates, instead of just hearing the “buzz-words” listen to what they are saying. Do they believe in individual accountability? Do they believe a persons choices should have consequence, whether good or bad? Do they believe that the community is responsible or the individual?
Have a great one everybody!
I put the word never in quotes because I believe God changes minds and hearts, but at this stage in my life and ministry, I don’t see me ever using the pulpit of good news to push the politics of the populace (man that was good, someone should tweet that!). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing men like Jerry Falwell and other like him who felt called to be politically active and vocal, but I don’t feel similarly called. Here’s why:
- Politics, by their very nature, are incredibly divisive, and when people talk politics it often leads to arguments and hurt feelings. Accepting the message of Jesus Christ is hard enough, why put another potential obstacle in someone’s way?
- Rarely do politicians and politics veer into that which is Biblical and holy, therefore, rarely do I comment. However, when it/they do, it is my duty to comment and bring Scripture to bear.
- I never want to abuse my position as a pastor to manipulate or attempt to convince someone to vote “my way”.
- I have known many wonderful Christians who are Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, and yes, even some Liberals. Bottom line, your party affiliation and governmental beliefs won’t get you in or keep you out of heaven.
- No politician, political party, or political agenda will ever change someones eternal destiny. Why would I waste the 40 minutes I have each week to communicate the life changing message of Jesus Christ talking about something that will not matter in eternity?
I’ve given 5 reasons why I’ll ‘never’ talk politics from the pulpit and actually rarely talk politics in public. However, notice reason number 2. Over the last two weeks the two prevailing parties have put forth their “platform” or “agenda” if they get elected, many of the issues raised go beyond the political arena and address values, morals, or culture. These things are expressly and precisely talked about in the Bible. God’s position on these issues are clearly laid out in his Word, and it is my duty as your pastor to share those with you, and your duty as followers of Christ to bend your will to His.
- My challenge: Read each of the posts carefully, then study the Scriptures on your own. Then, use your vote to support the candidate that most closely resembles your values and you believe will do the best job for your country.
- My promise Everything I write will come from a foundation of Scripture and not my own personal political beliefs, who knows, I might change my own mind! I will not go on any hearsay or rumor, but only talk about what has been expressly written down in each party’s platform
- My hope: That this will give you God’s view of things and remove much of the emotional arguments for or against.
Have a great one folks and here are the topics/values I’ll be covering, if you’ve got another one you think fits, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll take a look at it!
What’s Governments Role According To God?
Does it Matter What We Do In the Middle East?
What About Welfare?
‘Christian’ or ‘Mormon’, does it matter?
Is There Such A Thing As ‘Gay Marriage’?
Is God a ‘Capitalist’, ‘Socialist’, or something else?