I wish I had the time to blog more regularly as I really enjoy doing so. Right now, however, priorities and time restrictions keep me from giving more of my time to writing. It was exciting, however, to see my "Folks Listen" blog recently surpass 450,000 pageviews. Thanks to all those who drop by my blog. Lord willing, I will be able to get back to regular blogging in 2014!
Monday, November 25, 2013
Few nights of the year can even come close to matching the excitement of the Monday night before Thanksgiving in Gaylord, Michigan. That is Bountiful Harvest delivery night. Bountiful Harvest is a lay led ministry that brings 8 area churches together to make a difference and deliver the love and Gospel of Jesus to hundreds of people in our county. Tonight over 100 vehicles hand delivered full Thanksgiving meals to 670 homes. Each of these homes represents a family that is struggling financially. Along with the full Thanksgiving meal, each family also received the book, "The Purpose of Christmas," written by Rick Warren.
Our family always looks forward to participating in making these deliveries. As we take the meals into the homes we are assigned, we have the opportunity to meet these precious families and learn a little bit about them. We then ask if we can pray for them. If the are open to that (as was all of the families we delivered to tonight) we ask them if there is anything specific we can pray about for them. Sometimes they have specific things for us to pray about and sometimes they don't. Either way, we are able to stand in their homes and pray for God to reveal His love for them and to bless them. For many, this is most likely the first time that anyone has ever prayed for them in their home.
Each Bountiful Harvest I believe that God sets up a Divine Appointment. Tonight was no different. At one of the stops we delivered a meal to a mother who was home by herself. When I asked her how she was doing she hesitantly said, "fine." I responded by saying, "That answer didn't seem real confident." This mother said that they were going through a hard time. She then broke down crying and told our family that her 13-year old daughter had just attempted suicide 2 days ago. We were able to stand with this mother in her kitchen and pray for her teenage daughter and for her as a mom. I was then able to give her one of my cards and tell here that if I as a pastor could help in anyway that she could call me any time.
We also had another home that was a "cold call." All of the homes that are delivered to get a call in advance to let them know to expect the food delivery. This was a home that they could organizers could not get a hold of. We were so glad we still went to the home. We met a single mom there of 3 beautiful children who were eager to show us their play tattoos they had just put on their arms. The mom then shared with us that she really desires to get her kids into a church that has an active and fun children's program. What a thrill it was to tell her all about our children's ministry at E-Free and invite her and her precious children to join us!
Those are just 2 stories from 670 deliveries made tonight. How wonderful it is to be part of a church that truly believes in meeting people right where they are and help mover them where God wants them to be!
Monday, November 18, 2013
This Sunday is without question one of the greatest Sundays of the year here at E-Free. It is the Sunday before Thanksgiving which makes it Ingathering Sunday! Below is a partial list of all that you can look forward to this Sunday:
· We will have our regular schedule of services. Our Classic Service will begin at 9:00 in the Chapel and our Contemporary Services will begin at 9:00 and 10:30 in the Gospel Center.
· There will be vibrant and genuine worship in all of our services. I will have the privilege of leading the worship in the Classic Service this Sunday.
· There will be baptisms taking place in both of our Contemporary Services.
· There will be a humorous original skit written by Melody Kemp in both Contemporary Services illustrating that only God has the power to create human life.
· I will be continuing our series through Psalm 139 called, “How Great is Our God.” This Sunday we will be looking at the omnipotence of God seen in the formation of our bodies inside our mother’s wombs.
· Lord willing, we will be dedicating 500 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child that will be going to children all over the world this Christmas.
· This is the one Sunday each year that we pass the plates twice. The first offering is our regular offering to pay our weekly ministry bills. At the end of the service we will then take our special Ingathering Offering that this year is going toward our much needed nursery expansion project. Please remember that $150,000 in matching monies has been made available resulting in the fact that for every $2 you give or pledge toward this project, another $1 is added. In other words, your gift increases in value by 50% up to $150,000. If we receive $300,000 in gifts and pledges by December 31, 2013 (with pledges being fulfilled by April 1, 2014), we will receive all of the $150,000 in matching monies and will be able to break ground this spring.
· After our second service we will all move down to the gymnasium and youth room to enjoy a full Thanksgiving Dinner together as a church family!
And this is just a partial list! As you can see, it is going to be a great Sunday at E-Free this week! If you can't be with us in person, you can listen in northern Michigan to our 9am Contemporary Service live on The Eagle 101.5 FM. The Eagle will also be live streaming their radio broadcast at www.radioeaglesports.com
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Gaylord E-Free Church here in Gaylord, MI, is an exciting place to worship the Lord and grow in your faith which is evidenced by the many first-time guests that walk in our doors each Sunday here in northern Michigan. And while the worship, preaching and connecting with people who make up the E-Free family are the substance of each Sunday morning, there is also something for first-time guests that you could call the proverbial "icing on the cake."
Each family that visits our church for the first time receives a beautiful hand-made cup (pictured above) featuring our church's name and logo on the front of it. Each cup is made individually by hand and are absolutely beautiful. This gift allows us to make a great first impression to our guests while at the same time communicating that we value their being at E-Free whether they live locally or are from out-of-town.
What most people in our church may not realize is where these cups are made. These beautiful stonewear cups come from the Mountain Arts Pottery in the beautiful Gallatin Valley of Montana which was founded in 1981 by Dave and Jennie Lockie (pictured below). Dave’s first pottery studio consisted of a homemade kiln in a chicken coop in the Lockie’s backyard, which he built himself using information from pottery books. Jennie purchased Dave pottery lessons in order to help take his mind off his troubles, which stemmed from the decline of his excavation business. The Lockies and their four children used their 15-passenger van to travel to art shows and sell pottery for the first several years. Mountain Arts Pottery is now located in a log cabin, circa 1932, that Dave and Jennifer extensively renovated themselves.
The Lockies believe their Christian faith and their highest priorities, After his excavation business collapsed, Dave became deeply depressed and seriously considered suicide. But God and the Bible offered Dave and his family the strength to continue in the face of terrible adversity.
Dave’s first large order was from a church group who saw some of the pots he had made in class. Dave is frequently quoted as saying, "It was the Lord, not the glaze, who helped him make that first sale." It is a joy and a blessing for us here at Gaylord E-Free Church to partner with Dave and Jennie in helping us connect in a special way with those who walk into our church on a Sunday for the very first time.
If you would like more information on Mountain Arts Pottery you can do so at http://mtartspottery.com/
Sunday, November 10, 2013
God is at work in a mighty way here at E-Free in ways that can only be explained as a movement of God. After we announced the Ingathering Offering Project for our Nursery Expansion, I was approached by some donors whose hearts were really stirred and who wanted to encourage us to raise the entire $450,000 cost of the project at once rather than spreading it out as we had planned. These donors felt led by the Lord to make available a $150,000.00 matching gift opportunity to help us accomplish this goal. Here is how it works.
Between now and the end of the year (December 31, 2013), any gift given or pledged toward this nursery expansion project will be matched 2 to 1 up to $150,000.00. That means that for every $2 that is given or pledged by the end of the year, $1 will be added to that from this matching gift fund. Think of it this way:
· A $10.00 gift/pledge becomes $15.00!
· A $20.00 gift/pledge becomes $30.00!
· A $50.00 gift/pledge becomes $75.00!
· A $100.00 gift/pledge becomes $150.00!
· A $250.00 gift/pledge becomes $375.00!
· A $500.00 gift/pledge becomes $750.00!
· A $1,000.00 gift/pledge becomes $1,500.00!
· A $2,500.00 gift/pledge becomes $3,750.00!
· A $5,000.00 gift/pledge becomes $7,500.00!
· A $10,000.00 gift/pledge becomes $15,000.00!
To receive these matching monies all gifts/pledges to this project must be made by December 31, 2013 and all pledges must be fulfilled by April 1, 2014. Please also keep in mind that this $150,000.00 matching gift is only guaranteed up to the amount that is raised in gifts/pledges. To secure the entire $150,000.00 we would need to raise $300,000.00 in cash/pledges by December 31 (with pledges being fulfilled by April 1, 2014).
I am so very thankful for what God is doing and how He is using these donors who have made this matching gift opportunity possible to further “stimulate us as a church to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:25). Through their generosity, it allows each of us to be able to play an even bigger part because our gift, no matter how small or how large, is multiplied by 50%.
If you would like to make a gift or pledge toward this project you can do so in our special Ingathering offering which will happen on November 24 or any other time between now and the end of the year. Again, please keep in mind that gifts and/or pledges must be received by December 31, 2013 and pledges must be fulfilled by April 1, 2014. Thank you for taking the time to fervently pray about the part that God would have you play as together we strive to meet as many people as possible where they are and move them to where He wants them to be!
Believing God for Great Things!
Sunday, November 03, 2013
Each winter we do a character study here at Gaylord E-Free. Two years ago we studied the life of Noah (seen above). Last winter we walked through the life of Joseph (seen below).
Winter 2014 will take us on a new 10-week journey through the life of Moses from his birth to the time of the exodus from Egypt. Our Creative Ideas Group met last Saturday morning to begin our brainstorming and planning for the first 4-weeks of this upcoming series. We have some wonderful things in the works including:
An amazingly funny video to open the series in which we find Moses sitting around the table with many other characters from Scripture trying to brainstorm ways of how to make the Bible more exciting.
A reading of the story of Moses in Dr Seuss fashion.
A series of clips from an actual modern day person who is learning the same lessons today that Moses learned so many years ago.
Live actors on stage during the sermons which allows me to literally enter the story as I preach each week
A skit done by children that tells more of the story of Moses
A set on the stage along with our new environmental projection system that will make you feel like you are in Egypt on one week; sitting by the Nile River the next week; watching sheep in the wilderness of Midian the next week; and standing at the burning bush the very next week.
And that's just the first 4-weeks of the series! It is going to be an amazing study! Watch for our promotional video coming in December!