One of the most valuable gifts that you can give someone today is the gift of encouragement. We all need some! As I see it, there are at least four different types of encouragement that we can give to someone else.
First, there is the encouragement we give to someone who is going through a trial or storm in their life. This is the type of encouragement that brings COMFORT. We can't usually fix their problem or take away their pain but we can come along side of them so they have someone to lean on during their storm. Today I will offer this type of encouragement to a dear man who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. My visiting him will not change his physical situation but I can, Lord willing, bring him come comfort in talking with him, reading Scripture to him, and praying with him.
Second, there is the encouragement we give to those who have done a good job. This is the "pat on the back" or "Atta boy" type of encouragement. This is the type of encouragement that brings CONFIDENCE. This week I received a very encouraging letter from a man who use to attend our church but had to move. His job causes him to put many miles on the road and while he drives he listens to the CD's of my sermons that he still gets from the church. He wanted me to know the impact that these sermons of mine on CD were having on his life. That's encouragement. However, this type of encouragement is rare today. We live in a culture where we are quick to criticise and slow to praise. You don't think that's true? I challenge you to talk to a local restaurant manager. Ask him how many times in a month a customer wants to speak to him to complain about their dining experience. Then ask him how many times in a month that a customer asks to speak to him to tell him what a great experience he had and what a super job his employees are doing. I bet there will be a striking contrast in his answers.
Third, there is the encouragement we give to someone to get them to do better. This is the type of encouragement that brings COURAGE. Actually, that is what the word encouragement means. It is "to put courage into." A good teacher knows how to "encourage" her students in such a way that they excel in their academics. A good coach knows how to encourage his players in such a way that they excel in their athletics. A good pastor knows how to encourage his church in such a way that they excel in their walk of faith. This is what the Bibles speaks of in Hebrews 10:24-25 when it says to consider how we can stimulate others to love and good deeds. None of us will ever reach our potential without a gentle push of encouragement from someone else.
Fourth, there is the encouragement we give to someone "just because." This is the type of encouragement that simply shows that you CARE. Yesterday I was at a local business when a man from our church pulled me into his office and asked me this question, "How can I pray for you?" WOW! Was I ever encouraged!
Who will you give the valuable gift of encouragement to today?
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Life is filled with decisions. In fact, it is estimated that most people make literally thousands of decisions each day. Most of these we do without much thought or consideration. But then there are those big decisions we each face throughout our life:
Do I buy that car?
Do I purchase that house?
Do I take that job?
Do I marry that person?
Do I take that promotion?
Do I make that investment?
And the list goes on and on. So how do we go about making these decisions in a way that allows us as followers of Jesus to be in the will of God? I have found a grid of four questions that can be remembered by the letter "W" to be very helpful. Here they are:
The WORD of God
Does moving forward with this decision in anyway cause me to deviate from the clear teaching of Scripture? For example, I talked with someone one time who was trying to decide if they should apply for a promotion. It soon became apparent that to pursue that position would necessitate him fudging on some facts (basically, he would have to lie). Since telling a falsehood would go against the clear teaching of the Bible, it was easy to conclude that going forward with this decision would not be God's will for this individual.
The WITNESS of the Spirit
When one opens their life to Christ, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit of God comes into their life to lead and guide them. Scripture teaches that we should allow the peace of God to rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). I would define this peace as an internal confidence given to us by the Spirit of God that this is a good decision. When my wife and I were looking at what new ministry God was leading us to a few years back, it basically came down to the church we are at now (Gaylord E-Free Church in northern Michigan) and another church in my home state of Ohio. On the surface, it appeared that the church in Ohio was the best fit. It was quite a bit larger that E-Free and it was in a big city (which I have always liked). Gaylord, Michigan did not seem to fit us, at least on paper. I had never golfed, skied or fished, nor had I ever owned or operated a snow blower. But at the end of the day God did not give my wife and a peace about the church in Ohio but He gave us both a perfect peace about E-Free church here in Gaylord, Michigan.
The WISDOM of Counselors
The WORLD of Circumstances
The final part of the grid is to see if God continues to open the door for this decision to take place. For example, if I am considering buying a house then the world of circumstances would include the owners accepting our offer, our getting a loan approval, and the inspections all passing. If the doors close, then it is most likely not God's will. We must keep in mind that closed doors are just as much an answer to prayer that we should be thankful for as open doors are.
Think through the four "W's" - If going forward with this decision would not in any way go against the teaching of Scripture; If I (and my spouse) have an inner confidence that going forward with this decision is a good thing; If I have sought out wise counsel about this decision and found no red flags; and if the doors continue to open for it all to take place, then I believe I can move forward with confidence that this decision is in the will of God for my life.
God continues to open doors for us to get our message out through radio and we are hearing great feedback. Below are 5 stories from last Sunday’s 9am Service being aired live on 101.5 (The Eagle):
I visited a couple who currently cannot come to church because of a serious illness. They shared how wonderfully blessed they are to be able to still be part of our service each Sunday via radio!
I received an email from a radio listener in Comins, MI who said that he found himself weeping as he sat and listened to the broadcast!
I received a Facebook message from a mom who said that their family enjoyed listening to the service while sitting around their campfire on vacation.
I talked with a family whose child cannot be in a crowd due to a recent surgery who sat around the radio together and listened to the broadcast.
I have been trying for 2 years to get a man in our community to come hear me preach but with no success. He told me this week that he is listening to the service on the radio every week.
And it is not just our Sunday services that God is using on the radio. Following my radio show last Wednesday (which occurs each Wednesday around 8:20am on 101.5) I received the following email from a governmental official in our community that does not attend our church:
I enjoy your weekly segments on the radio and hope you continue them…it is nice to get some of God’s message in the middle of the work week.”
I love what God is doing in and through E-Free, don’t you? And we get to do it all again this Sunday as we continue our new series, “ESSENTIALS: From God, Through Me, To You!”
See you Sunday!
Sunday, July 21, 2013
I love how God works and this morning was no exception to that fact as we started our new series, "ESSENTIALS," here at Gaylord E-Free Church. You know a service was powerful and that God was indeed moving when everyone comes out of the service with tears in their eyes due to the moving of His Spirit and the power of His Word. That is what I saw in the eyes of people as I greeted many of them at the door after the service.
As I then went back into the auditorium after each service to get my Bible, I was struck by the sight of many people who were still inside praying. Some where still in their seats while others were kneeling down at the steps leading up to the stage. Some were by themselves while others were praying with people. There is no question that this morning was like standing on Holy Ground as we saw together as a church that because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross we now have confidence to draw near into His presence!
I am amazed at the people who make up our worship services here at Gaylord E-Free. When I think of just the ministry that took place inside our services this morning I am so thankful for the dozens of volunteers who pour so much time and energy into making our Classic service in the Chapel and our Contemporary Services in the Gospel Center a reality. For example:
This morning our Sound Techs not only had to mix voices and instruments and be sure that all the microphones worked in the services but they also had to communicate with the radio station to ensure that our 9am service went out live on 101.5 FM.
This morning our Video Techs had to make sure that all slide presentations, musical lyrics, and videos played at the right times. In today's case it also included having to do a voice over on the powerful "presence" video we watched so it could be heard on the radio.
This morning our Stage Crew has to design a stage in such a way that you could see with your own eyes the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem tearing from top to bottom.
This morning our Light Techs had to adjust the lights throughout the services just right and at the exact times to provide the most effective moods and environments - especially as we neared the time in the sermon when darkness covered the earth and the veil ripped showing the brightly lit cross behind it.
This morning our Worship Team had to not only practice and learn the amazing worship music used throughout the morning but they also had to plan and rehearse the visual element at the end of our services as each of them stopped playing one-by-one, covered their instrument with a black cloth and walked off the stage during the closing song, "Clear the Stage." One of our ministry staff shared with me after the service that to him what made the ending of the service so powerful was the song selection of the worship music leading up to the message that helped to prepare us for that moment.
This morning our Drama Team was also involved as Fanny Crosby herself spent the worship time in the Classic Service sharing stories behind the inspirational hymns she penned so many years ago. This took hours of research, memorization and rehearsing as well as great costuming and performing.
I could go on and on - especially of I were to describe the many people involved in the literally months of planning that goes into each service here at Gaylord E-Free. And this blog posting would be huge if I then began to describe all of the many volunteers that are involved outside of our actual worship services here at Gaylord E-Free each and every Sunday!
God used His church today!
God used His word today!
To God be the glory!
We get to do it all over again next week!
See you next Sunday!
Sunday, July 07, 2013
Our debut broadcast of our 9am Contemporary Service here at Gaylord E-Free on The Eagle 101.5 seemed to go very well. Here are just a few of the comments we received:
So great listening to our church on the radio!!! Prayers to reach those who do not have the opportunity to hear a Sunday message!
So cool to think that while I was in church listening to your message, hundreds if not thousands were hearing Gods word through you over the radio! PTL
It was great! We heard it while camping.
I heard it and still attended 2nd service....just to make sure it was the same.
It was great to be able to listen while driving to my brothers baptism!
Not able to be at church this morning, family camping weekend. But we are listening to The Eagle 101.5 this morning!
Let's continue to pray daily that God will use this avenue for our church to meet as many people as possible right where they are and help move them to where He wants them to be!
Monday, July 01, 2013
Our purpose as a church is to MEET as many people as possible right where they are and help MOVE them to where God wants them to be! Our vision as a church is to saturate Otsego County with the Gospel and to allow that to bleed over into all of northern Michigan. Our 3-year vision plan calls us to accomplish this through the technology of broadcasting internally, live-stream broadcasting, as well as radio and television ministry.
God is opening the doors wide for this as beginning this Sunday, July 7, our 9am Contemporary Worship Service will begin to be aired live each week on The Eagle (101.5FM). This is a Classic Hits station here in Gaylord that reaches into over 20 counties in northern Michigan (including up into the Upper Peninsula). We are thrilled to be able to take this step of faith and we are truly are believing God to use this to help us accomplish our purpose of MEETING & MOVING as many people as possible.
Please keep in mind that because this opportunity has come to us sooner than we expected, that the cost is not in this year’s budget. We anticipate the total cost to be able to air our service each week live on the radio from July through December to be a total of $3,000. We are looking for 30 people who will each give $100 above and beyond their regular giving so that we can use this great tool of technology. If you would like to be one of those 30 people, please mark you gift “RADIO” and place it in the offering or drop it by the church office.
As we go live on the air this Sunday we will continue our series, “Can You Hear Me Now?” Invite someone to join you at E-Free this Sunday as we continue to remove the obstacles that negatively impact our prayer lives and as we go live on the radio!