Anniversary Sunday: 60 Years to Celebrate and More in Our Future

bbq-1-1537565On Sunday we had a great celebration, that our church has been here 60 years. We have been blessed with 6 decades of change and influence in our community and partnering with change in people’s lives.

And so we celebrated, we threw a party, we had a BBQ and bouncy castles. But more than that I also shared on Sunday where I believe we are headed for the next 60 years. And what I believe is this: that the future that is coming is greater than anything we have seen before. That we will be saying, “Who could have seen that coming?”

Because while I know lots of people like to talk about the end of the world, the difficulties of the church, and how the future is dark – that isn’t how Paul talks. Instead, Paul believes, like I do, that there is always good and grace on the horizon. So on Sunday we opened up this passage of Scripture from Ephesians 3 which says, “By his mighty power at work within us, God is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or even to hope.”

God wants to do more in our lives that we have ever hoped, dreamed, or even imagined. The words there translated “infinitely more” means literally vastly more than more. God has vastly more than more in store for you. 

And this is something I have believed about this church from day one and still believe it is true. 

When I came here to be the lead pastor, we had to preach for a “call”. Which basically is a terrifying process where you preach and then everyone votes on you afterwards. Just a small bit of pressure…but it obviously went well.

But this was the verse I preached then. That I believed regardless of whatever happened in the vote, that God had good things in store. And I still believe that. That while lots of people like to pronounce doom and gloom; God is pronouncing life, love, a better future than could ever be imagined. This is your future, and this is mine.

So on Sunday we simply closed with having people state it aloud. To actually say, “God has infinitely more in store for me than I could ever hope or imagine”. Because there are lots of other voices that are saying different things, but I think we need to listen to the Spirit’s voice. The Spirit that says, I have infinitely more in store for you than you could ever hope or imagine. And that…that is good news.

Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaGod’s got more in store for you, me, and this church.

Teaching Points:

  • If you don’t appreciate the markers you reach, you often stop reaching them.
  • “Who could have seen that coming?”
  • The future that is coming is good.
  • God’s love is so beyond us that we cannot grasp it, but we can experience it.
  • Because when you trust in the future he has for you – you find it.
  • Listen and trust in the future God has for you.
  • Your dreams are too small for God, God’s got bigger in store for you.
  • Are you willing to let God loose in your life?
  • Your future isn’t dependent on you but on what God has in store for you.
  • “God has infinitely more in store for me than I could ever hope or imagine”

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? When you look into the future do you see hope or difficulty? Do you believe that God might have infinitely more in store for you? Are you willing to let him loose in your life? What might that look like to trust in his voice? What next step might you take? Who can you ask for support as you continue to follow him?

Challenge for the Week: Trust in God’s voice

Getting ready for God’s Future

819V0oTxp0LSo here is something basically most of you know: I read a lot…like a lot.

I mean as in whenever we travel Krista and I have fights over the amount of books I’m bringing and the space they take up (at minimum is 1.5 books per day). Did I say I read a lot?  Krista would say this is because I’m a nerd…I say it’s because I like learning. Both are true.

But what I’m reading right now is a great book called “Your First 90 Days”. I’m reading to prepare for a change in our lives. I’m trying to ensure that I’m prepared for the future that is coming as best I can. So for me this means reading…well at least more than 5 books.

But I bring this all up for a specific reason. While out for dinner the other night I tell Krista all about this book and how great it is and she said, “I like it that you’re preparing for our future”. And that comment just really stuck out to me. Because I would say generally I’m not preparing for the future I’m reacting to it. And maybe you can agree. 

So my thought and reason for bringing this all up is to ask you one simple question, “What would it look like to prepare for the future God has for you?” What would that look like for you? Are there dreams you have? Are there hopes and things you believe that God has in store for you? And then my question is this – how are you preparing for them?

Because I believe that God has goodness in store for all of us. I believe, like Ephesians says, that God can do infinitely more than you could ever hope or imagine. And if that is true how are you readying yourself to receive it?

Maybe it’s digging into the Bible more. Maybe it’s really learning to pray. Maybe it’s learning to trust in small little things, so you can trust in big moves. Maybe it’s learning a new skill. Maybe it’s taking a new class. Maybe you dream of launching a business, so you are asking some people to mentor. My point is that I believe goodness is before us, and we all need to prepare to receive it. For me, of course, that’s reading…but what might it look like for you?

Because I have a little hunch, after Krista’s comment, is that I may have missed some of what God has had for me in the future because I wasn’t readying myself for it. All I know is that I don’t want to make that mistake again. And my guess is you don’t want to either. So what can you do, start, or commit to – to begin to get ready for the future God has for you?

The Kingdom as Imagination and Dreaming

10274327_10156636848740643_4770778223963690522_nRecently I’ve been thinking about Jesus saying we need to become like little children to inherit the Kingdom of God. And I’m sure there are lots of really great interpretations of this verse, with lots of really meaningful applications.

But the one I’ve been thinking about today is what if Jesus is talking about imaginations?

I mean as I think about my own kids, the one thing they have is so much imagination. And imagination, along with wonder, seems to be something we lose as adults.

Just recently I’ve had two interactions with Asher that remind me of the wonder of imagination. One, I was sleeping and he hit me with a stick and said, “Wake up daddy – I hit you with my magic stick. See it work you wake up” and he bounced off singing, and waking up all his animals. Then we were wrestling and he stops me and says, “I win daddy – I have laser eyes *blink blink* I got you again.”

These are things that never ever occur to me…

And I know that Jesus could be talking about a lot of things, but what if he’s talking about how we won’t be able to enter the Kingdom unless we can imagine it? Unless we can maybe dream up what it might look like? And how it might actually affect our lives right here and now?

What if part of the problem of us seeing the Kingdom really changing lives and changing communities ~ is because of our lack of imagination for how it might happen? What if our shrunken imaginations are actually shrinking the possibilities for the kingdom?

Ever since Asher beat me in wrestling with his laser eyes I’ve been thinking about that question. What possibilities might Asher see for the Kingdom that I’m missing? What might Asher fearlessly try that I wouldn’t? What might I see if I had the imagination and wonder of a child fully invested in the Kingdom of God?

I don’t have any great answers to that question…but I think it’s a great question to start with. And so while I don’t how it all plays out, I’ve been praying a new prayer recently because of my kids, “God give me eyes to see your world with childlike imagination.” Because once we start dreaming, and imagining we can also start following.

Where is God Taking Us?

1243996_56375506On Sunday we dreamed together where God was taking our church. Our dream to is to be changed by Jesus, and to change lives with Jesus. But what does that look like in the future?

To answer that question I shared seven little signposts that point to where I believe God is taking us. I think these little signs help us get a picture of the future God might have for us. And I asked the church to dream with us, and to see if these are the signposts to our future. Here are the seven signposts:

Signpost #1: Be the Church to the Area

The point for us isn’t to be the biggest or best church in the area, but to be God’s church to the area. I could care less about being cool and hip, I want us to be faithful. The point isn’t for us to be a giant church, but a church fulfilling God’s calling. The point is that there is no competition in God’s kingdom; that we will seek to bless the community.

Signpost #2: Creating Disciples Over Decisions

The point is that for a long time the church focused on getting people to make a decision about Jesus, rather than becoming a disciple of Jesus. I think God is asking us to flip this around. That we would focus on creating disciples, over people simply making one decision about Jesus. Being a disciple isn’t about making one decision to follow Jesus, but a daily decision to follow Jesus – and that needs to be our focus.

Signpost #3: Everyone has a place, and everyone has a role

As I look into the future I see a church where everyone has a place and a role. That we are all serving as the church (not necessarily in the church building or programs). But that each and everyone would be using the gifts God has given us to build up each other, and bless the world. The truth is you cannot follow Jesus and spectate.

Signpost #4: Our Church is a Family

This point is that our church resonates and continues to adopt the metaphor of church as a family. This doesn’t mean you need to have a family to attend, but that when you join us you gain a family. That we would be committed to one another, care for one another, and journey together. Like all family we will be dysfunctional, and there will be difficulty, but we will get through it together.

Signpost #5: Locally Grounded and Globally Focused

I think the days are gone where you can just focus on overseas missions, or local ministries. I believe we need to do both. That we need to be locally grounded, in our communities and neighborhoods and bringing transformation; and also globally focused partnering with people long-term all over the world to bring life.

Signpost #6: Going Deeper with Jesus

I believe a focus in our future is depth with Jesus. Shallow following of Jesus doesn’t change us, and it doesn’t change lives. So I think we will continue to have a greater focus on deeply following Jesus and taking the next step from wherever you are at.

Signpost #7: Gracious and Generous

And last, but not least, I believe our calling cards in the future will be grace and generosity. That we will build bridges through our graciousness and generosity. That we will be committed to being a people of grace and gift.

So as I look into the future that’s where I see God taking us. This certainly isn’t the end of the conversation, it’s just the beginning. But my prayer is that God might have us dream together to find his dreams for us.



Teaching Notes

Big Idea: God, where are you taking us?

Teaching Points:

  • God, where are you taking us?
  • Without a vision the people perish – Proverbs 29:18
  • A vision isn’t just a vision statement
  • Without a picture of where you are headed your life will likely run off course
  • To be changed by Jesus, and to change lives with Jesus
  • Signpost #1: Be the Church to the Area
  • The point isn’t for us to be a giant church, but a faithful church.
  • Signpost #2: Creating Disciples Over Decisions
  • Being a disciple isn’t about making one decision to follow Jesus, but a daily decision to follow Jesus.
  • Signpost #3: Everyone has a place, and everyone has a role
  • You cannot follow Jesus and spectate
  • Signpost #4: Our Church is a Family
  • Signpost #5: Locally Grounded and Globally Focused
  • Signpost #6: Going Deeper with Jesus
  • Signpost #7: Gracious and Generous

Adult Discussion Questions:

Where do you think Jesus is taking us as a church? Which signpost most resonated with you? Are there any you’re not sure about? What signpost might you add?

Discussion Question for Families:

Ask your kids one question around the table this week. “What do you think are God’s dreams for our family?” and let the discussion begin.

Challenge for the Week: Dream with us – and pray about where God is leading us.

Professional Dream Killers

The reality is some people feel their job is to be professional dream killers. These are people who when you share the difference your called to make often start with a statement like this: “Let me be the Devil’s advocate; Let’s bring this back to reality; We don’t deal in dreams but in facts” etc…

 The reality is as soon as you start to try to make a difference someone will start to try to stop it. They’ll say this is reality, this has been tried before, it can’t be done, you’re not the right person, or you’re not qualified. You might have a professional dream killer in your office, family, board, committee, or even church. The question is how do you overcome the obstacles they put in your place? What is the right way to move forward? How do you overcome the questions when they stop being “nice, helpful questions” to purpose hurtful and destructive comments?

Because the truth is, if you have ever tried to follow God’s dream for your life – you have encountered challenge, obstacles, and hurtful people. You have had to face professional dream killers. So how do you overcome it? What has helped you? What hasn’t worked?

And then on Sunday we are going to find out how Nehemiah overcame his own professional dream killers. We’ll see how he both met their challenges and overcame them. Because if we want to reach our God-given visions, we’re going to have to learn how to overcome obstacles and opposition. But that’s why God’s calling you to make a difference, not because it’s easy but because it’s worthwhile…

How to Launch a Vision

So on Sunday we talked about the practical steps Nehemiah takes to see his vision start to come to fruition. We see the steps he takes that leads to action, progress, and development. We came away with three steps:

  • Deal with reality
  • Share with clarity
  • Own your responsibility

Nehemiah begins by dealing with reality. He shows up in Jerusalem and doesn’t assume he knows the people, place, or process to build the wall. Instead he waits and inspects the wall before going public with the vision. Because a vision shared prematurely dies quickly. A vision that isn’t connected to reality doesn’t succeed. So he adjusts his plans and figures out how to the build the wall not in theory but in practice. So he first deals with reality before sharing publicly.

He then shares his vision, but he shares it with clarity in 4 steps. He says what the problem is, what the solution is, why it needs to be done, and why the timing is right. Each of these steps leads to clarity and then commitment on behalf of the people. He shares that the problem is the walls are burnt and down, that the solution is to build the walls, that it needs to be done because they are a disgrace, but it’s the right time because God is with them at this very moment. So they all agree and begin to build the wall.

The last thing Nehemiah does is he owns his personal responsibility in the vision. He consistently speaks of “we” rather than “they”. He doesnt’ show up and give the city officials the plan, resources, and letters and then say “Now you build the wall”. No, he knows that if God has given him the vision, he is to be part of carrying it out. Too often people get a vision and then expect their church, their pastor, or their little committee to program it, run it, and own it. The truth is we need to personally own and be responsible for what God gives us. We can’t expect others to risk or give more than we are personally willing to give or risk.

So with Nehemiah we see him deal with reality, share with clarity, and own his personal responsibility. And when he takes these steps his vision launches and begins to succeed. So in our own personal visions, dreams, or desires there is a lot we can take away. We need to deal with the reality of where our family, business, or ministry is at. We need to share with clarity why change needs to happen. And we need to own our personal part in the whole vision. Those are the steps Nehemiah takes, and I believe there is wisdom in following his model. Because at the end of the story Nehemiah gets the wall built, a people restored, and a future is renewed. And I think we’d all like to live a life with that type of legacy and meaning…

Adult Discussion Questions: Has God given you something to live for? If not yet, how can you find out. If so, what is the reality you are dealing with? What is the problem, the solution, why it needs to be done, and why this is the right timing? How have you seen people’s visions “compete” before? How can we ensure our personal visions don’t ever compete but complete God’s overall design? How much are you personally willing to give for your vision?

Challenge This Week: Deal with Reality – Inspect the Walls of your vision