2 Minute Marriage Devo: “Marriage is an ATM” #marriage

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June is our journey through some scripture selections on the topic of Marriage.  I want to invite you to join me. It’s as simple as looking at the blog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Isaiah 44:3:

Isaiah 44:3

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

2 Minute Marriage Devo: “Path of Correction” #marriage

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June is our journey through some scripture selections on the topic of Marriage.  I want to invite you to join me. It’s as simple as looking at the blog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Proverbs 6:23:

Proverbs 6:23

23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,  and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life

2 Minute Marriage Devo: “Clothe Yourself” #marriage

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June is our journey through some scripture selections on the topic of Marriage.  I want to invite you to join me. It’s as simple as looking at the blog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is Colossians 3:12:

Colossians 3:12

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience,

2 Minute Marriage Devo: “Time to Shut Up” #marriage

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June is our journey through some scripture selections on the topic of Marriage.  I want to invite you to join me. It’s as simple as looking at the blog and reading the passage for the day.  Today’s passage is James 1:19:

James 1:19

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger

Reverse Prosperity and 5 things I want @kalamazoofirst to know

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I find myself waking up with a grateful heart full of thanks for an amazing congregation to serve and a city to reach. I celebrate 11 people placing their trust in Christ at our Sunday gathering.   God is so stinkin’ good.

My morning devo’s led me to 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 and I found myself being challenged in my generosity.  The verse that jumped off the page: verse 11you will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way…

This passage is often used by prosperity gospel preachers to assert that God has a mathematical formula—give a dollar and get $100 in return!—or that God wants all Christians to be rich. In contrast, notice what Paul emphasized: we are given to for the purpose of generosity.  The emphasis is not on getting rich.  On contrary, we are treated open-handed (not an open-handed slap…we’re talking generosity) to in order be open-handed. Non of God’s blessings be it money, material, influence, etc., in whatever way we received it, isn’t meant for our accounts to be fuller.  But on seeking “every good work,” “righteousness,” and “thanksgiving to God” (vv. 8, 10, 11, 13). Generosity should exhibit obedience consistent with our confession of the gospel. It’s the opposite the selfish “prosperity gospel.” We don’t give to get. We give because we received.

That’d be  my challenge today: live out just as generously as you have received from Christ.

5 things I want KFirst to know about this week: 

1 – Don’t stop praying for Newton, CT. In my blog “Stay Close,” I challenged you to continue to hold them up in prayer. DON’T STOP!!! DON’T FORGET!!!

2 – Join us for The Eve of Christmas Eve THIS SUNDAY NIGHT!  Even more important, don’t show up alone!!!

Sacred 16x9 Christmas Eve Eve

3 – Prayer books are available. Earlier this year, KFirst went through a prayer book together.  We’ve had quite a few people ask if we have any more. Prayer Books by Kenneth Boa were delivered a week ago  and are available in the cafe.

4 – Angel Tree is happening tomorrow night. We are having a dinner for our Angel Tree guest.  If you wanted to volunteer, there’s still time to get involved.

5 – End of the year giving.  We have a few people ask about the deadline for giving for 2012.  Sunday, December 30th will be the final day.

Thanks for letting me ramble…

Missional opportunities for @kalamazoofirst

I love reading  blogs (most of which are on marriage and family).  Last week, I came across this blog post and knew I had to share it.  I know I could have easily retweeted it.  But I wanted to look for a way to give it a bit more emphasis as to not blend into the white noise that can be social networking.

I’ve always said, outreach is a journey, not an event.  It’s a way that we live and should be relegated to a once-in-a-while church-wide activity.  I wanted to share Tim Gaydos’, of Mars Hill, blog post about SIMPLE ways of being missional during the Christmas season.  Again, this is all Tim and not me.  Enjoy his great post.

Missional

As Christians, it’s so important that we look for missional opportunities with our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members as they are way more prone to engage in Jesus-friendly activities and conversation this time of the year than any other—by far! So, let’s pray and get after it!

Here’s the deal: People really love being invited to events, parties, and homes. There are so many opportunities happening in our respective cities through concerts, shows, plays, parties, and services that proclaim Jesus and would lead to natural conversation with those in your sphere of influence, let me give you just five.

1. INVITE PEOPLE TO A CHRISTMAS LIGHT SHOW

Every year, my wife and I invite friends to go with us to the The Lights of Christmas, which is put on by a Christian conference center just outside the Seattle area. There are many examples of Christ being proclaimed at this event, specifically a Nativity scene. There might not be another time where a non-Christian friend would go with you to a Christian conference center, but this is the time—who doesn’t love Christmas lights?!

2. GO TAKE IN HANDEL’S MESSIAH

One year, we took some non-Christian friends to Handel’sMessiah at the Seattle Symphony. No matter who you are, it’s impossible not to be blown away by the grandeur of this masterpiece. It was captivating, and the awe-inspiring nature of the Messiah gave us a chance to talk with our friends about the content of this piece, which led to an incredibly rich gospel conversation.

3. THROW A FUN, FESTIVE CHRISTMAS PARTY

Sweaters, white-elephant gift exchange, good food, good drinks—go BIG! Christmas is a great reason to engage the people God has placed in your life. Invite neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends. Make sure it’s not a Christian-only party. Make it a point to invite people into your home, to sit on your couch, drink from your cups. Show that you care and take a moment to introduce people to one another. Share the meaning of Christmas with them and the reason behind all that we are celebrating.

4. SERVE OTHERS

People are “naturally” charitable at Christmas. There are so many local opportunities to serve the least among us during the Christmas season, and both Christian and non-Christian alike see this as an opportunity to do good and love others by serving those who are less fortunate than they are. This is a great time to preach the gospel in word and deed as Jesus has commanded us and share about why Jesus is the most generous and charitable man who ever lived.

5. INVITE SOMEONE TO A CHURCH PLAY OR CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE

Many churches put on incredible productions during the Christmas season. Also, Christmas Eve services are some of the most well-attended church services and is the absolute only time (or one of only two times) someone would willingly enter into a church. For many, going to church on Christmas isn’t weird, just what you’re supposed to do. Don’t miss this opportunity to invite someone to hear the real meaning of Christmas.

PRAY, THEN MAKE A PLAN

Right now, I want to ask you to take one minute and think about three people in your life that you would love the opportunity to share Jesus with.

Once you have those three people, pray for them and their hearts to know Jesus. After you have prayed for them, think about what event, service, party you could invite them to and call, text, email, Facebook or Twitter them.

Do it!

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

Romans 10:14

Information for a free gift…and 5 things for @kalamazoofirst

Top of the morning to ya!  It’s Monday so get some coffee and buckle up for a great week.

I laugh at Facebook links, Twitter links, and the spam emails that simply say, “Click here for a free gift.” The ad isn’t funny. It’s knowing that we are so desperate to get “free” stuff that we lay down all inhibitions in the euphoria of knowing we could be getting something free.  I’m not standing in judgement. Anne knows that when we go to a conference, I look forward to SWAG (Stuff We All Get).  I’ll walk from table to table to pick up free pens and key chains as if the Mayan calendar was right and my survival the coming apocalypse would come from the pens and key chains.  We see free…and we leap.  But, for some reason, we have a gift available, and instead of receiving it, we go about attaining it with alternative ways.

I’m slowly going through Ephesians this month and got a great reminder.  My pen couldn’t underline my new bible fast enough. It was screaming at me from page 976. I pulled out my phone and instagramed the passage.

“And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God.”

The subtle reminder to me in the midst of my monday rush: you didn’t create this life yourself…you didn’t earn it…you couldn’t accomplish it.

It’s a gift.  It’s free for you to receive.  I guess today the Holy Spirit felt I needed that reminder.  Maybe I’ve taken it for granted.  I guess I needed to come to a greater appreciation of His love for us. Without Jesus…where would I be?

I recognize the cost comes as we follow Christ…but that’s for another blog on another day.

Here are 5 things I want Kfirst to know about…

#1 – Sunday was amazing. When I showed up to youth group last night, the teen were buzzing about Sunday morning.  That, to me, is a litmus test for a speaker.  How did the next generation receive them?

Andy Raatz did something extraordinary.  He imparted his heart into ours. It was like the sanctuary was an operating room and his heart was transplanted into our lives.  What a great response to the altar!!! I had a few talks with some people who were messed up from yesterday…in a good way.  What a joy to see individuals seeing their world with new hearts and having a passion for the lost.

If you missed the message, download it from iTunes later  or hit our website.

#2 – Missions Emphasis is concluding Sunday!!  Every November, we concentrate our focus on outreach (local, national, world). Our two-week emphasis centers our hearts upon the lost, increase our passion, and challenged us to get involved.  We’ll be taking up our “faith promises” on Sunday.  A faith promise is a monetary goal or a pledge that is set between the you and God for the support of world missions. This goal is set for one year.  Anne and I have supported world missions since we were teens and would encourage you to join us in giving to world missions.

#3 – Missions Emphasis includes giving to the Kalamazoo Gospel mission!!  During our emphasis we’re teaming up with the Kalamazoo Gospel mission.  We’re challenging everyone at Kfirst to bring coats in to bless the mission.  If you have a coat and/or want to buy one to donate, please bring into the office during the week.

#4 – Chapel Service and Hymn Sing is coming up this Thursday! If you’re one of our senior adults, you don’t want to miss out on an amazing time. Our pastoral team has been rotating through and bringing the Word.  I absolutely love our time of prayer at the end!

#5 – Sacred: Kfirst Christmas Series.  I can’t wait to launch our Christmas series this coming December.  My desire is to bring back the sacredness to the Christmas story that, for some, has become generic and ordinary.  Join us as we present “sacred” in December…better yet…invite a family or two and let them hear about the Lord who was sent to bring them life.

That’s all I have today. Enjoy the Lord’s free gift to you.  Enjoy giving that gift to someone else.

Thanks for letting me ramble…