Thursday, January 28, 2010

Radically content (5)

Question: How can we learn contentment?


We can discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness (I Timothy 4:7).

And what kind of spiritual discipline might help produce more and more contentment in our lives? We can pray for more contentment. We can memorize verses about contentment. And we can meditate about the contentment that Jesus displayed (II Corinthians 8:9).


And we could purpose to live with less stuff.

A couple of weeks ago, I learned about the “100 Thing Challenge.”

Dave Bruno is an online entrepreneur from San Diego. He realized how much his stuff was weighing him down.

So, he set a goal for himself: "In one year, I will only have 100 personal things. And I will live with only 100 personal things for one full year."

Bruno had to get rid of a lot of his stuff out of his garage, out of his basement, out of his attic. He's radical about it because he wanted break free from consumerism.

But it's not just Bruno's problem, is it? We’re all stuffed with stuff. Our closets and garages are too full of things that don't really make our lives much better. But how to get unstuffed?

Bruno has a three step process:

Reduce (get rid of some of your stuff)
Refuse (to get more new stuff)
Refocus (your priorities)

So, this past week, I went through my closet and I gave away some stuff. I want to keep up giving away my stuff in 2010. How about you?

Here's an email from a friend at CVC who decided to apply the 100 thing challenge to her life:

I wanted to tell you I am taking you up on your 100 Thing Challenge and with amazing results! The clothes closet weeding was easy, but it was the jewelry part that was hard. I have a lot of jewelry that was given to me that was my Mom's when she died. But I hardly wear it all and some of it honestly I don't really like all that much. I have it because it was hers. I also collect heart shaped containers, glass ones. I own too many and don't have room for them all! So I started giving away the heart containers with jewelry in them to people I love! I started at work with a girl who mentioned to me once she liked one of the necklaces I was wearing. (It was my Mom's.) I gave it to her, along with some other things I thought she'd like. She was so happy. I couldn't believe it. She wore that necklace to work for three days in a row this week. Seeing that smile on her face along with my Mom's necklace gives me more happiness than wearing that necklace ever gave me!

What if we all embraced clutter-free living? What if some of us took the next 6 months to shed some of our stuff? What if we could live with just 100 things? Or 200? You decide the number. What if we asked ourselves, “What do I really need?” and then donated the extra stuff to a Thrift Store like Thrift Nation?

We might become less greedy and more content. We might overflow with generosity. This is radical contentment.

And don't forget that radical contentment is the foundation for a life that overflows.

We can become more generous if you’ll ask God for the grace to become more content. And if you’re more generous, someday someone will have some really good things to say about you at your funeral. But more importantly, you’ll hear a “Well done” from Jesus someday. We need a revival of overflowing generosity.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Radically content (4)


More thoughts from Philippians 4 on what it means to be radically content. We have to laugh, to learn, and to lean.

We’re all trusting in something. We’re all relying on something. We’re all leaning on something.

You sit in your favorite chair because you believe it will hold you up. You lean your entire weight on the chair. You rely on it. You trust it.

When it comes to being content even in your financial need, where is your trust? Paul teaches us to lean on Jesus.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13, ESV).

This is a very famous verse that’s often ripped out of its context.

As a young baseball player, I’d sometimes, put 4:13 on the knob of my bat. And I’m pretty sure I was ripping the verse out of its context. If I’m brutally honest, what I really meant was “I can hit this pitcher’s fastball, slider, curve, and change-up through Christ who strengthens me.” But what if the pitcher had 4:13 written on his glove and what he meant was “I can strike that guy out through Christ who strengthens me”? Who does Jesus strengthen then?

I’m not saying that it’s necessarily bad for ballplayers to reference this verse. When Tim Tebow puts it on his eye-black, millions of people look up the verse on Google. And that’s a good thing!

But this passage is about contentment. The “all things” refers to Paul’s ability to deal maturely with adversity and prosperity. He’s saying, “In Christ’s strength, I can face any situation involving finances and still have a positive and victorious attitude. Christ gives me the strength to be content.”

We can’t be content in our own strength; we have to lean on Christ. We have to abide in Him.

To be radically content, laugh, learn, lean.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Radically content (3)


Here are a few more thoughts about what the Bible says in in Philippians 4 about contentment.

To be radically content we have to not only laugh (rejoice in what you have), but also learn. We can’t just sit in a church service somewhere and hope that one day we’ll be zapped from heaven with the gift of contentment. Contentment is learned.

"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content" (Philippians 4:11, ESV).

OK, Paul. You say you learned to be content. How? How did you learn? What school do you go to to get contentment?

Answer? It’s the school of life – the ups and downs of life. Notice how Paul puts it:

"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need" (Philippians 4:12, ESV).

There are 3 terms in verse 12 we love: Abound, plenty, and abundance.

Don’t feel like you have to hide if you have a lot. Use it for God’s glory. Enjoy it for God’s glory. And remember where the wealth comes from.

"It is [the Lord] who gives you power to get wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:18b, ESV).

But if you do have abundance, be on guard! It’s safe to say that prosperity has done more damage to believers than adversity. It requires more grace to learn how to be prosperous and not be puffed up by it than to be needy and not be crushed by it. Someone said, “In order to carry a full cup, you must have a steady hand.”

If you are abounding, having plenty, and knowing abundance, then you still have to learn contentment. You have to remember that you have more than you need to help people in need. If you have plenty, you must grow in your passion to defeat materialism and greed. You must grow in your passion to increase your contentment. And let me give you one practical way to do it: Write some big checks and meet some real needs.

In fact, now would be a gogod time to write a check to some organization that is helping with the humanitarian crisis in Haiti. (You might want to check out namb.net and look for disaster relief to Haiti. That way you'll know that 100% of your dollars will go directly to Haiti.)

So, those are the 3 terms in verse 12 we love: Abound, plenty, and abundance.

And, by the way, some of us signed up to follow Jesus because we thought He would make sure we would abound, have plenty, and know abundance. That’s the good stuff. You can turn on your TV and you will find all kinds of preachers that will tell you that if you live a faithful life of following Jesus, then you’ll get all that and more. And they go on to say that if you aren’t abounding and having plenty and knowing abundance, then something’s wrong with your faith.

But look again at verse 12 and think about what is wrong with that kind of thinking.

Abounding, having plenty and knowing abundance are only half of the story. Yes, that’s part of Paul’s experience. But it’s not all of Paul’s experience.

Being brought low, facing hunger, and knowing need are the other half of the story.

Question: When do you think Paul learned the most about contentment? When he was abounding, having plenty and knowing abundance? Or when he was being brought low, facing hunger, and knowing need? In II Corinthians 11, he describes his life this way:

"Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea…, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers…, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea…, in toil and hardship…, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure" (II Corinthians 11:24-28, ESV).

That’s being brought low, facing hunger, and knowing need. God enabled Paul to turn his hard times into learning experiences. Paul’s attitude was, “Lord, what do You want to teach me in this situation? I want to be a learner.”

How do we learn contentment? We learn contentment from a right response to God’s provision. We learn contentment from life’s experiences, from having a lot and from having a little.

So, learn from your experiences in life – particularly your painful experiences. We learn contentment the best from the lean times.

Sometimes, you’ll have more than you need. Other times, you’ll have just what you need.

Some of you who are reading this blog are in tough times right now. Maybe you are without a job. Maybe some unexpected expense has drained your bank account. Maybe you can’t provide for your family like you had hoped. You know where you are? You are in God’s classroom. Be a learner. Be a student. If you complain and whine in the midst of your trouble, you’ll miss the opportunity to learn to be content.

To be radically content laugh and learn. More to come...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Radically content (2)

In his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs defined contentment:

"Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious attitude of heart that freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition."

Look again at that definition. Are you content? Radically content?

Burroughs went on to say, "To be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian.”

So, how can we be content? In Philippians 4 we see some ingredients of radical contentment.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10-13 (ESV)


In this paragraph, we can spot three qualities necessary for contentment. We have here the “contents of contentment.” I'll share the first today. More to come.

To be radically content, we have to be able to laugh.

Joy is an important part of what it means to follow Jesus. Someone once asked me, “Are you a follower of Jesus?” I said, “Yes.” He said, "Then, tell your face!”

Some of us may have had so many financial challenges in 2009 that we have forgotten how to laugh.

But that’s not true of Paul. Remember that one of Paul’s motivations for writing this letter to the church at Philippi was to say thanks. Paul was imprisoned by the Romans.

The prison system in that day were different than today. As a citizen of Rome, Paul evidently was imprisoned in as house or an apartment. While in prison you were still responsible to supply for your own needs. So, Paul had to rely on his friends to supply his needs.

Here’s a guy who’s imprisoned, not for committing a crime, but for but for telling people about Jesus. He’s devoted his life to this and now he’s alone in a jail. He’s wondering, “What’s going to happen? Will I have enough food? Does anyone care?”

So the church in Philippi sent a member named Epaphroditus from their church on a dangerous journey to deliver it. They wanted to make sure Paul was OK. And Paul wants to let them know how much it meant to him.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
Philippians 4:10 (ESV)


He says, “You have made me laugh… from a deep place! You’ve had a revival of generosity… toward me! I know you were concerned in the past. But you didn’t have the resources. You just have to know that you put a smile on the face of a guy in jail!”

Some of us might have gotten a gift like that and been tempted to say, “It’s about time! After all I’ve done for you. Most of you met Jesus as your Savior because of me. I started you church. Your ticket to heaven is punched because of me. It’s about time you gave me some money.”

But that’s not what radical contentment says.

If we are radically content, we rejoice in the provision we have – even if we’re in jail or even if it feels like we’re in jail. We have an attitude of gratitude. Laugh!

Jsut two weekends ago, we had the opportunity to hear from one of the leading evangelicals in the world, Dr. Albert Mohler. I always like to ask guests for feedback about CVC. I asked Dr. Mohler – who speaks all around the world – what it was like to speak here. He said, “The people are good listeners. And when I challenged them, they came with me. It felt good.” His assistant, Matt, thanked me for having them here and then he said, “We go to a lot of churches that aren’t very pleasant. CVC is a happy church.”

A happy church. I like that. Because joy is a fruit of the Spirit.

Now, when you think about what you have – materially – are you a happy follower of Jesus?

To be radically content, augh! Rejoice in what you have!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Radically content (1)

This past week, I read an article written by a Christ-follower who wondered if anyone could ever say about him, “The day I spent with you was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus."

That question was a jolt to me. I couldn’t get away from the question. Could anybody say about me, “The day I spent with Rick was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus"? I think I would have to say “No.”

Would any honest person say that about you?

And then a week ago on Monday in our One Year Bible reading plan as we are reading through the New Testament this week, I was jolted again by Matthew 8:19-20:

A scribe came up and said to [Jesus], “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
Matthew 8:19-20 (ESV)


That’s radical. Jesus was radically content without much stuff. If I’m going to be like Jesus, my life can’t be defined by my stuff. He was saying, “If you are going to follow Me, there might be times when you won’t even have a bed. Are you OK with that?” If you spent a day with Jesus, you spent a day with Someone who might just be going to sleep that night without a bed!

Most of us haven’t really made it our goal to become the kind of person who could be mistaken for Jesus, have we?

But I John 2:6 says, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

How did Jesus live? We could say tons of things. But one thing we could say is that He was content. Radically content. We admire His contentment but we don’t really want to be THAT content – so content that it doesn’t even matter whether or not we have a bed!

That article I read concluded with these words: “You praise Him for loving you enough to suffer during His whole time on earth, but you're going to do everything within your power to make sure you enjoy your time down here. In short: You think He's a great Savior, but not a great role model. The American church has abandoned the most simple and obvious truth of what it means to follow Jesus: You actually follow His pattern of life.”

When people hang around you and your stuff, would they say “The day I spent with you was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus”? My guess is that you've never had someone say that to you, and you've never said it to anyone else. Why not?

One reason is that we’re stuffed with stuff. We want more stuff. We’re not content. So, for the next few days, I want you to think with me about what it means to be radically content

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Help! My son is taking a secular religion and philosophy class at a university

I have a friend who's son is attending a secular university. He wants to equip his son to stay true to Jesus. My friend received an email from his son that went like this:

"My Philosophy and Religion class so far is my favorite, and luckily my professor refuses to tell us his religious stance, and plays devils advocate for both sides which I think helps with my learning. Another nice thing is that at the end of every class I ask him a question, and he always seems to have a very good answer."

My friend wanted to know how to get information to his son to help arm him.

Here are my suggestions:

***





Hi bro,

I had profs like that at Vanderbilt. And I have to admit, they planted seeds of doubt. That can be good if kids move from an inherited faith to a faith of their own.

But often, the kids don’t have resources from which to draw to defend the faith.

Below are some great websites filled with information from some really smart people who defend the faith very well.

If your son is doing a research paper, I’m sure that these sites will point him in a lot of positive directions.

http://www.williamlanecraig.com/

http://www.leestrobel.com/

http://www.rzim.org/

http://www.carm.org/

http://www.reasons.org/

http://www.crossexamined.org/

http://www.4truth.net/

http://www.colsoncenter.org/wfp-home

In addition, I would recommend very highly that you get him a copy of Tim Keller’s book "The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism." He has many chapters that deal with the classic questions and objections to the faith. Lee Stroble’s "The Case for Christ," "The Case for Faith," and "The Case for a Creator" are also great resources.

Maybe you and he could pick out a book and read a chapter together and discuss it over the phone once a week.

Ravi Zacharias edited a book called “Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend” that has a great chapter in it by Alison Thomas called "Challenges from Youth" that talks about the dangers and opportunities of maintaining faith in a secular campus setting.

I also would recommend that he be plugged into some campus ministry. There’s probably a Campus Crusade for Christ, an Intervarsity or a Navigator group, or a Baptist Campus Ministry that he could connect with.

If I hadn’t been very active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while at Vanderbilt, I don’t know how I would have survived.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Spiritual Growth Plan 2010 (1)

Want to know what a spiritual growth plan looks like? Here's a plan from one of my friends. Why not use it as an inspirational example as you develop your own plan for 2010?

***

How will you grow in your love for God?

Consistent time in God’s Word, and a greater emphasis on meditation as challenged by Pastor Rick in late 2009 – meditation – to mutter, to reflect. I need to eat the Word, and then chew on it in a greater way so in 2010 I can be full of God’s Word. More unhurried times of prayer. More personal worship times that are just for me. Singing and studying the Gospel more in 2010.

How will you grow in your love for others?

Continue to meet with my Community Group. Disciple intentionally the people in my ministry area. Serve in other areas of ministry.

How will you grow in your love for the world – the people who do not yet know Christ?

Seek a community organization where I can serve outside of CVC. Participate in CVC summer outreaches. Pursue a possible international trip, based on availability and family schedule.

In what area of your life do you need to grow to be more like Jesus?

I wrestle with fear.

Which fruit of the Spirit needs most development in my life?

Peace.

What will I read in Scripture this year?

The One Year Bible reading plan, focusing on the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs.

What sections of scripture will I endeavor to memorize?

Memorizing passages that focus on the centrality of the Gospel: 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 8: 31-39, Matthew 6: 25-34, I Timothy 1:16

How will I grow in my prayer life this year?

Hide away more for quiet listening and meditation before the Lord. Shutting the door to my office and at home. Praying the Gospel more intentionally, making it the center of my prayer life. Intentionally pray important scriptures from my daily Bible reading.

What music will help me worship more?

Worship music, and any music that encourages me in Christ.

What books will I read or reread?

“Leading With A Limp”/Dan Allender
“The Power of the Cross of Christ”/C.H. Spurgeon
“Prayer”/E.M. Bounds
“Worship Matters”/Bob Kauflin
“Blue Like Jazz”/Donald Miller
“The Cross and Christian Ministry”/D.A. Carson
Books on the CVC recommended reading list for 2010

With whom do you need to build a relationship/friendship with this year?

Our neighbors, continuing
People I encounter at the Rec Center
Someone who specifically requested me to mentor him in 2010.

What CD’s or podcasts do you need to listen to?

I’ll continue to listen to John Piper weekly podcasts and sermons.

What seminars/conferences do I need to attend this year?

Family Life marriage conference with my wife – March, 2010

What new disciplines do I need to develop?

A more consistent prayer time with my wife and dialogue about Bible reading
Greater quality and devotional time with our children
Consistent exercise
Bike riding (good for my body and soul)

Who will hold me accountable?

I have two accountability partners.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Trusting God for your future


Dr. Albert Mohler spoke to our young adults at our 707 service last night. His topic? Trusting God for your future. I think his approach to the topic serves to take the pressure off. When it comes to seeking the will of God, many believers are frozen into inactivity and doubt and fear. They don't want to miss God's highest and best will for their lives. That fear-ridden approach to finding God's will is not honoring to God. And it immobilizes God's people.

Dr. Mohler's text was Romans 12:1-2 which ends by saying that we can prove the will of God - not find it, but prove it.

He said that evangelicals have some serious, long-standing misconceptions about the will of God. 1) We think that God actually delights in hiding His will. The will of God is hidden. We have to search and search and search diligently to find it. 2) We think that the will of God is like a mysterious puzzle. We will spend our lives trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. 3) We think that doing the will of God will make us miserable.

All these things are why many young adults are not actively pursuing God's will.

He went on to say that we pretty much know all we need to know about the will of God.

It's the will of God...

... that we are born. (We are not accidents. Our lives have meaning and purpose.)
... that we grow. (We've already accomplished the first two!)
... that we learn. (We learn all our lives, but there are times in life to focus on learning.)
... that we go through puberty. (The purpose of puberty is to prepare us for marriage.)
... that we work. (Work had dignity prior to the fall. We will work in heaven, too. So, we should find meaningful work now.)
... that we get married. (Some do have the gift of celibacy as taught in I Cor 7, but most of us are to be married. Dr. Mohler then talked about how puberty starts earlier than ever and how the age for getting married is later and later. He put the burden for this on the young men and challenged the young men to reject passivity and to take initiative in pursuing the right young women. How can the young person know who is the right person to marry? Look for a believer. And beyond that, look for a person who will help you come closer to Christ and who will help you bear more of the fruit of the Spirit. Often, your parents and spiritual mentors will help answer those questions with you.)
... that we teach. (We all can teach someone to know God and to grow in the Lord.)
... that we serve. (We all have gifts to be used in the life of the church and to bless the world.)
... that we lead. (We all are to advance the Kingdom of God in our sphere of influence.)
... that we die. (Look at portraits of some of the ancient church fathers and you'll see a skull in the painting to remind us of our mortality.)
... that we are glorified. (Heaven is on the way!)

These are things we know are the will of God. So, we should busy ourselves pursuing these kinds of things as the will of God.

But these ideas don't help us with where to go to school or whether to take that job or who, in particular, we should marry. Dr. Mohler admitted that there are still some blanks left.

So, Dr. Mohler's message ended with the idea that we can trust God to fill in the blanks. When we focus on doing what we know is God's will, He will fill in the blanks. Now, this is the point where we can sense that the pressure's off. I don't have to fill in the blanks. He will.

What a mighty God we serve!

Will you trust Him?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Trusting God to speak

Dr. Al Mohler is at CVC this weekend. Check out his website at www.AlbertMohler.com.

He taught from Luke 16:19-31 last night. I've taught the passage myself before, but he gave insights that I've, quite frankly, missed. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes and read that passage before reading the rest of this article.

Dr. Mohler reminded us that a parable like this really does more than make a moral point. Parables often were presented by Jesus as explosive stories that made some of His listeners (often the religious leaders) angry.

In this story, there's truth about the "Great Reversal." The rich man who had is easy in this life was punished in the life to come. The poor man, Lazarus, who had it hard in this life was rewarded in the life to come.

There's also truth about the "Great Divide." There's no second chance in the life to come. Lazarus couldn't go to where the rich man was and the rich man couldn't go to where Lazarus was.

(In the Q&A after the message, Dr. Mohler was asked about purgatory. He said that the idea of purgatory might seem like a good idea - that there's a place for us to go to pay for our sins before we enter into heaven. The problem is that it is simply not taught in the Bible. Since salvation is by faith through grace alone, then we cannot earn heaven by paying for our own sins anywhere, anytime, anyhow. The whole concept of purgatory, he said, is offensive to the finished work of Christ on the cross. Jesus paid it all.)

But the big idea in the parable, according to Dr. Mohler, is the idea of trusting God to speak through His word.

The rich man wants Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers that a life of greed and selfishness will land them in hell. If Lazarus comes back to life to warn his brothers, then, he reasons, surely they will repent before it's too late. But Lazarus won't do it. He says, "If they won't believe the law and the prophets, they won't believe a man who has come back from the dead" (v. 31). In other words, if they won't believe the Bible, they won't believe the words of a resurrected man.

Mohler says, "When Abraham speaks here, it's Jesus speaking. And Jesus is saying that we'll either follow the logic of the rich man or the logic of Abraham." He says that many churches are following the logic of the rich man. "This is a hard community to reach. How will we grow the church? Hire a marketing consultant? Let's come up with something extraordinary."

Mohler says that this approach does not produce gospel effects at all.

Instead, churches ought to say, "Here is our plan. We are going to teach and preach the word of God. That's it. This the The Plan. There is no plan A (which implies a plan B). We just have one plan. Teach and preach the Bible. This is how God prospers His church. This is how new believers are made and it's how we grow in the faith. If people won't believe the Bible, then we know that nothing else will work. God has spoken. Do we really believe that/ If we do, we can trust Him to speak through His word and trust Him to work to build His kingdom through the teaching and preaching of his Word."

Simple. Yet profound.

Thanks Dr. Mohler.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

What if your best days are ahead?

What follows are some notes from a Creative Team session at CVC - thoughts from Brian Howell, Bryan Karas, Jane Rutti, Andy Sikora, Nate Green, Jeff Ziolkowski, and me. May these thoughts challenge us all.

***

When it comes to spirituality in the American church, some people seem to delight in a “doom and gloom” mindset. But what if our best days are ahead of us?

Think back to when you were closest to God. What if you could be that close again?

What if your walk with Christ was close and exciting? What if you heard His still, small voice every day? What if you kept up a running conversation with Jesus all week long? What if you really joined with Jesus on His mission to help the poor and win the lost? What if you really prayed for friends and family members and saw them come to Christ? What if your prayer life was passionate and productive and punctuated with answered prayers? What if reading the Bible was gave you insights and intimacy that really transformed your life.

It would be safe to call that personal “revival.” And what if hundreds – even thousands – of people in NE Ohio had those very same experiences?

Revival is possible. It’s a gracious gift God can sovereignly give to those who seek Him with all their hearts.

Some of you might be thinking, "I've heard all this before. I know a few people who claim to be living like this, but I suspect that they are just faking. I don't want to seek revival again only to end up in the same place I am now."

I can feel your pain if you are skeptical about revival.

Yet we've been called to seek God with all our hearts. And He has said, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me a with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes..." (Jeremiah 29:11-14a, ESV).

So, let's seek the Lord in 2010. It might be March before He shows up with revival for us. But let's seek Him. Let's all want more of God in 2010 than we had in 2009. No, we don't want to make an idol out of revival. We want people to want God, not revival. But revival is a means to know Him better and expereince Him more.

We are not interested in recreating an experience from the past. We want to learn to live in a way that invites God to do something new in us and through us.

So, what needs to change in your life as you begin to seek God more in 2010?

We all know that gyms will be full for the first few weeks of the new year. Then, attendance at the gym will dwindle. People don't change because they go back to their routine schedule. So, it can't be business as usual for us if we want revival. When God tugs on your heart to pray, you have to pray. And that might mean that you'll have to turn off your favorite TV show.

If we aren't living life the way we want to live it - if we aren't experiencing God the way we'd like - then we have to take responsibility. We have as much of God as we want.

Let's get thirsty for revival. Make Jesus the Lord of your time. Expand the Lordship of Christ in your life. Be available to the Spirit. Don't compartmentalize your life into sacred and secular. Watch out so that you don't break back into a routine. Join us as we encourage each other to seek God for revival.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Dr. Albert Mohler in NE Ohio at CVC

You are invited to a Special Opportunity at CVC with Dr. Albert Mohler THIS Weekend, January 9/10 and on Monday, January 11.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Dr. Mohler has been recognized by such influential publications as Time and Christianity Today as a leader among American evangelicals. In fact, Time.com called him the “reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S”.

In addition to his presidential duties, Dr. Mohler hosts The Albert Mohler Program, a daily live nationwide radio program on the Salem Radio Network. He also writes a popular blog and a regular commentary on moral, cultural and theological issues. Both can be accessed through Dr. Mohler’s website, www.AlbertMohler.com. Called “an articulate voice for conservative Christianity at large” by The Chicago Tribune, Dr. Mohler’s mission is to address contemporary issues from a consistent and explicit Christian worldview.

Widely sought as a columnist and commentator, Dr. Mohler has been quoted in the nation’s leading newspapers, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Atlanta Journal/Constitution and The Dallas Morning News. He has also appeared on such national news programs as CNN’s “Larry King Live,” NBC’s “Today Show” and “Dateline NBC,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS, MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” and Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Dr. Mohler is a theologian and an ordained minister, having served as pastor and staff minister of several Southern Baptist churches. He is married to Mary, and they have two children, Katie and Christopher.

Dr. Mohler will be speaking during the current "Revive" series this weekend at all services, January 9 / 10:

Saturday UpClose at 5:30pm "Revive: Trusting God to Speak"
Sunday morning 8:15am, 9:30am, 11:30am: "Revive: Trusting God to Save"
Sunday evening, 7:07pm: "Revive: Trusting God for My Future"

Then, you are invited to join Dr. Mohler on Monday, January 11, at CVC for an 11am complementary luncheon celebrating the opening of the Northeast Ohio Extension of Southern Seminary here in Broadview Heights on the CVC campus. Dr. Mohler's topic during the luncheon will be "Revive: Trusting God for My Ministry".

In addition to hearing Dr. Mohler, you'll have opportunity to see the room where classes are held using CIV (Compressed Interactive Video). This classroom setting allows students to talk live with their professor during class time, just as if they were in the same room together.

Don't miss a single message. Come all weekend, and join us on Monday!

You may make an RSVP for Monday's luncheon to jpuliafico@cvconline.org or by calling Jackie Puliafico at CVC x252.

Again... don't miss a single message. Come all weekend, and join us on Monday!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Violate her a second time?

OPEN MINISTRY POSITION: Administrative Assistant

Here is a new position that is open at CVC. We are looking for an assistant for me for 25 hours a week. Here is the job description. Pray for us to find the right person. Thanks!

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MINISTRY SUMMARY

Ministry Name: Administrative Assistant

Ministry Vision: “Helping People Grow to be Passionate Followers of Christ”

Overall Ministry Objective:
To manage the routine administrative tasks for the Senior Pastor. This person’s ministry objectives will include interacting with the Senior Pastor on a daily basis for the purpose of relieving him of administrative details and “mental clutter”.

POSITION DESCRIPTION

Principle Function:
The primary responsibility of the assistant to the Senior Pastor is to eliminate / manage the administrative, electronic, paper, management “clutter” so he can be free to spend quality and quantity time in God’s Word and prayer in order to provide overall leadership and shepherding to CVC and, where appropriate, to the larger body of Christ.

Accountability: The Administrative Assistant will be directly accountable to the Senior Pastor.

Responsibilities:
Meet briefly in person or via phone on a daily basis to review the day's events and give updates regarding church business.
Manage paper and electronic clutter: hard mail and electronic (e-mail):
Reading mail, eliminating unnecessary junk mail, re-routing correspondence to other staff whenever appropriate, drafting replies for review, prioritizing responses, ensure follow-up and follow through by Senior Pastor or others.
Manage phone calls – re-route when appropriate, priotitize responses, ensure follow up and follow through
File correspondence, articles, brochures, periodicals, books to keep the office free from clutter and to make resources readily accessible.
Keep daily, weekly, monthly “to do” list and help the Senior Pastor and/or the staff on his behalf to ensure effective and timely follow up and follow through.
Schedule appointments as requested and/or needed.
As needed, meet with people in lieu of Senior Pastor, including staff
Keep pastoral personal and church calendars current.
Type as requested (i.e. sermon prep notes, correspondence, plans, etc.
Work with Senior Pastor to ready weekend message outline for Friday afternoon production by the Weekend Program Team.
Edit and post sermon / articles on blog when requested.
Prepare sermons for editing for publication with printer-on-demand firms.
Print sermons / articles in booklet form as requested.
Keep sermon series archives (hard copy and electronic) current

Make preparations for scheduled meetings:
Prepare the meeting agenda and mails to participants, gather any pertinent information to be used in meetings, ensure space for meetings and provide appropriate supplies, (i.e., Leadership Team, Elder Team, etc.) Record and/or file minutes of such meetings and keep meetings to prescribed time allotted.
Attend meetings when asked to take notes and be apprised of the Senior Pastor’s commitments, tasks, responsibilities

Responsibilities:
Handle all travel arrangements, keeping accurate records of trip itineraries for church and family knowledge.
Assist in keeping records of pastoral church budget line item account expenditures as well as expense account expenditures, time sheet, etc..
Handle purchasing of study materials and various ordering requests as needed.

Suggested Skills and/or Experience:
One who has an active personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
A lifestyle that demonstrates a servant spirit and a teachable attitude.
A proactive person who exercises sound judgment without close supervision
A person who has developed good management skills enabling them to maintain efficient office environment.
A person who has learned to be stable under pressure, willing to take counsel and direction from those in authority.
Proficient in Microsoft Office, in particular Word.
A person who has competency with the English language, grammar, and punctuation.
A person with sufficiently developed skills in computer operations and office machines who is willing to learn new skills as needed in order to enhance productivity.
A person who practices diplomacy and tact when dealing with a diversity of people.
A person who can keep confidences and be sensitive to people and their needs.
A track record of trustworthiness and integrity.
A person who is flexible, able to maintain an upbeat demeanor in the midst of last-minute requests and an ever-evolving work environment.


Estimated Time Commitment
This is a part time 25 hour work week.

Anticipated Benefits:
Opportunity to serve CVC’s Senior Pastor and church family by ministering to their needs using whatever means appropriate and possible.
This is a paid position that includes sick time, paid holidays, vacation time based on accrued seniority.

Contact:
If you have an interest in this position or would like additional information, please contact Jane Rutti at 440.746.0404, x203.

When is revival needed? (3)

Answer: When backsliding has happened.

Richard Owen Roberts in his book Revival writes, “A backslider is a person who was once emptied of his own ways and filled with the ways of God, but gradually allowed his own ways to seep back in until he is all but empty of God and full of himself again.”

He goes on to list 25 signs of a backslidden state. Below are signs 18-25. See previous posts for signs 1-17. Evaluate your life in light of these statements.

18. When there is no music in your soul or song in your heart, the silence testifies to your backsliding.

19. When you adjust happily to the world’s lifestyle, your own mirror will tell the truth of your backsliding.

20. When injustice and human misery exist around you and you do little or nothing to relieve the suffering, be sure you are backslidden.

21. When your church has fallen into spiritual declension and the Word of God is no longer preached there with power and you are still content, you are in a backslidden condition.

22. When the spiritual condition of the world declines around you and you cannot perceive it, that is testimony to your backslidden stance.

23. When you are willing to cheat your employer, back sliding is apparent.

24. When you find yourself rich in grace and mercy and marvel at your own godlikeness, then you have fallen far in your backsliding.

25. When you tears are dried up and the hard, cold spiritual facts of your existence cannot unleash them, see this as an awful testimony to both the hardness of your heart and the depth of your backsliding.

If any of this is true about us, it is time for us to pray Habakkuk’s words:

O Lord, I have heard the report of You, and Your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV)

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