Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Challenges You Most as a Life Group Leader?

Do you lead or facilitate a Life Group, or have you in the past?  Do you lead a Bible Study, Men's or Women's Group or ongoing Bible class?  Here's a question: What Challenges You Most as a Life Group Leader?  There is a poll for your answer on the bottom left for ten days.  Your answers will help shape this blog!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

All Leaders On Board!

Life Group Leaders and Facilitators (this includes those who lead or facilitate a Bible Study), please mark the date of January 13th, after second service on your calendar.  This is GroupLink time!  GroupLink is designed to happen twice a year (January and August) to facilitate brining in more individuals and couples into Life Groups!  Even if your Life Group is full and you are cruising along nicely, your participation is needed to help communicate the benefits and blessings of being part of a Life Group.

The afternoon will start with registration, lunch, gathering around community areas and watching the video promts that get us started on what to do.  We will also see a short video from Andy Stanley that gives us a vision and understanding of the significance of Life Groups in the life of the overall church.

Please join us, and thank you for your commitment to your Life Group!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

GroupLink set for January 13th!

Life Group Leaders!  This is a special and significant time to connect more in our congregation to a Life Group.  We are participating in an event called GroupLink that connects individuals and couples into community and life stage groups.  It takes place Sunday, January 13th after second service!  Lunch will be provided!  Please mark your calendars!  More to come! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Restart with GroupLink

In the New Year we plan to present something cool called GroupLink.  GroupLink takes place twice a year - in January and August.  Please set aside Sunday, January 13th (after second service) for a time to connect with those who have not yet enjoyed the Life Group experience here at Hydesville Church.  Lunch will be served.  We will hear a short video from Andy Stanley and then connect in community groups for eight weeks.  After eight weeks each group decides whether they want to continue on as a group or to assimilate into other groups.  Each group decides where and when they want to meet.  If you currently have a Life Group this is a great place to ask a couple others to join your existing group.  If you are not currently in a group, but have led in the past this is a great place to restart with a group for the new year.

Andy Stanley said something profound as it relates to his very large church in Atlanta and the Life Groups they have in their church.  You may or may not know Andy Stanley (son of Charles Stanley) has an incredibly popular ministry with the mission of creating a church that unchurched people love to attend.  Andy Stanley is personally very popular - he is a pastor, in demand conference speaker and and a very successful author.  That is why his words on this subject mean so much.  He said, basically, that if something terrible happened to his church building (like it was leveled in a natural disaster), and he was also suddenly not able to physically pastor the church would still go on because they would tend to meet in circles (groups) all around the city in their version of Life Groups.  The people are connected within the church community and would continue to meet without a church building or without Andy Stanley.  Said a different way, their church is constructed around "circles" (Life Groups) rather than "rows" (the worship service being the only point of connection). 

And so from Andy's illustration we can see why it is so important for our church to be connected personally in small Life Groups.  And, that is why we are restarting with GroupLink!    

Thursday, November 29, 2012

That's Not Fair!

Even though we know that life is not fair, there is something within us that is convinced that certain things ought to be just.  The one who follows Christ is to be committed to justice for others.  Micah 6:8 tells us, “He has told you, O man, what is good;  And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” 

However, despite our efforts, we live in a fallen world.  Sometimes we have a hand in making something unfair for someone else.  Sometimes we are the ones who are handed the “unfair” card.  When we think of the sweet psalmist of Israel, David, we can see he walked into an “unfair” situation with a significant person in his life.
David was in a tough spot from the beginning in his relationship with King Saul. 

Transition in governments are more typically problematic than not.  It was hard for Saul to accept that a young king from an unexpected source was anointed King from Israel’s revered and respected prophet, Samuel.  And although David was anointed, he was not at liberty to exercise his authority until the current king was removed from power.  As a “man after God’s own heart”, David knew this transition of power was “God’s deal” to accomplish – not his.  Author Thomas Rodgers related, “Being anointed king and becoming king were two different things.”  Although David had the right to the throne an ungodly man sat in power and would do so for the next fifteen years!  There was intense rivalry between the two, “but David patiently waited for God to work out His program so that he could sit on the throne with honor”.   Saul tried hunting down David and attempted to kill him.  David dealt with these overwhelming circumstances by trusting in God, acting in bold faith and being incredibly patient.  David had a very mature understanding of God’s heart in the area of authority.  Even though the man that occupied the office of king was an ungodly man, David would neither demean nor trivialize the office in any way.  What typified David’s nature in his relationship with Saul was patience and outrageous (from a human stand point) trust in the sovereignty of God.  David’s conscience was tender and it was important to him to do the right thing.
Saul’s attitude toward David was characterized by jealousy and insecurity.  Conversely, David’s attitude toward Saul was characterized by a gracious, forgiving spirit and a magnetic sense of security that was anchored in his relationship with God. 

Although life was not fair for the fifteen years for David from the time he was anointed King until he was officially honored as king, David’s character was honed and refined by the “unfair” process.  As in the case with much adversity, the time in which he had to bear under the weight of injustice proved to be a time that sweetened his spirit and forged him into that man that was “after God’s own heart.” 
Are you in a situation that is just not fair?   Take courage.  God is still working.  God is sovereign and makes possible that the oven or your adversity will form in you a gentleness and sweetness that makes people want to be around you, because you are becoming “Christlike.” 

“For He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”  Job 23:10

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chill with the Father

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. 

A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to lose.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.

A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 

Those of us who grew up in the 60’s-70’s rock and roll era readily remember these words from Ecclesiastes that drifted over the radio waves.  It has taken me a lot of seasons to really comprehend how important it is to understand that God has a  timing for everything and His principle of a time for quiet and rest is absolutely essential for our well being.  But we certainly don’t learn this from our culture!  We become so stressed out with all the things we think we need to do that we gravitate toward time management courses and sophisticated organizational systems to keep us on track.  That way we can squeeze out a little more useable time to fill up with things that stress us out even more, or so it seems.  Along with the rest of the country I became interested in the TV series The Apprentice, and became fascinated with how these would be apprentices maneuvered and competed as to how they could work smarter, to win the victory, with the prize being a high paying stressful job.  It seems so glamorous, so dripping with status laden success.  But as we know, even all that does not buy happiness or spiritual wholeness.    

Jesus, our ultimate example, took time to drink in the peace that comes from communing with God through prayer and quiet time.  If Jesus had time to ‘chill with the Father’ how silly can we be by thinking we can bypass that important element of life and still maintain a healthy outlook?  If God rested after making the world, how can we possibly think we can burn the candle at both ends without toasting our fingers?   

Schedules, finances and responsibilities often make it difficult to take a time of rest, but we that Sabbath..  It’s priority.  We need to refuel, drink in, and best of all take some sweet time and ‘chill with the Father.’    

God knew we would need times of quiet and rest.  So He not only implored us through His Word to ‘be still and know I am God’, but He showed by example (when Jesus lived on earth) and by constant visual demonstration (the seasons, the changes in weather, the light of day and the dark of night) that a part of a balanced whole and healthy life is one that includes seasons of rest.   So, as you plan your in your daytimer or mark your New Year’s calendar, may you pencil in  (actually no, write it in ink) some times for quiet pauses and spiritual refreshment.

Sleep Mode

The office where I work acquired a color printer.  It’s capabilities are wonderful -  clear crisp printing with excellent color.  Although the results are great, the printer has a feature that about drives me around the bend on some mornings.  My best thoughts almost always come early in the morning.  However, several mornings I would find that after I finished a project, I couldn’t print.  At last, we found the problem.  The printer has an automatic feature that kicks in when left on for an extended period of time.  It ‘goes to sleep.’  It’s an energy saving mode.  The only problem is it won’t wake itself up.  To “fix” the printer and get it out of it’s sleep mode, one has to turn the power off and then turn the power back on.

Sometimes this printer reminds me of my spiritual life.  When I’m not called on “to be on the front lines of ministry” it’s easy to “go to sleep.”   At times we may not feel that our role is particularly important or we may not see a connection between the service we perform and souls being won to Christ.  If we are one of those ‘behind the scenes’ people in the body of Christ, no one may notice how our spiritual lives are going.  The ‘sleep mode’ can be a dangerous place.  It’s at those times we are susceptible to complacency, mediocrity, negative thinking or perhaps even depression. 

In Ephesians 6:10-18 we are told to ‘put on the whole armor of God’.  We are reminded that our battle is in the spiritual realm, not with flesh and blood and we are implored to pray  AT ALL TIMES.   The apostle Paul goes on to say that we are to be ALERT.  The New Living Translation says to be “persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere”.  The apostle Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him personally to be bold. 

Those powerful words tell us plainly not to exist in the ‘sleep mode.’  No one else may notice, but the Lord Jesus knows the condition of our hearts, and if we are not alert, we will not be ready for spiritual battle.  And guess what?  Someone else knows when we are spiritually asleep.  I Peter 5:8 says, “Be of sober spirit, BE ON THE ALERT.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”