Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rescue The Perishing!

Today begins our World Missions Conference. It is an exciting time and in keeping with why we are here as a church and fulfills our vision as I mentioned last week (listen to sermon 'Why We Do Missions' here). Some weeks ago Pastor Rob shared his take on world missions here at the Vine:

The question has been asked, "If your church closed its doors and disappeared today, who would notice?" I believe the 14 missionaries along the back wall of our church represent hundreds of people who would notice if Vine Fellowship closed its doors today. The vision of Vine Fellowship is to connect people to God, other Christians and the world. Through these missionaries we preach the love of Jesus, help feed hungry children, send students to school, teach people how to grow their own food, raise up and train indigenous pastors, plant churches, and train more missionaries to go out and do the same.

I hope that world missions is a part of who are as a member of The Vine Fellowship. You play a vital role.  Not only do we Faith Promise financial support for our missionaries during our conference, but we also hear from our missionaries and allow God to speak to us about the role he wants us to play in these ministries. Another big role we fill is loving and supporting our missionaries. Your attendance at our gatherings shows our missionaries the heart of Vine Fellowship says to them, "Keep doing what you are doing. You are important to us and we will partner with you in this work." That is a great word from Pastor Rob!

Today, join with me in welcoming our missionaries. We say to them all this morning, 'We love you and we are very proud of you!’

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Favorite Animal...

My Favorite  Animal
Our teacher asked us what our favorite animal  was, and I said, "Fried chicken."  She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else in the class laughed.
My parents told me to always be truthful and honest, and I am.  Fried chicken is my favorite animal.  I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of  PETA.  He said they love animals very much.  I do, too.  Especially chicken, pork and beef.
Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office.  I told him what happened, and he laughed, too.  Then he told me not to do it  again.
The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was.  I told her it was chicken.  She asked me why, just like she'd asked the other children.  So I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.  She sent me back to the principal's office again.  He laughed, and told me not to do it again.  I don't  understand.  My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.
Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most.  I told her, "Colonel Sanders."  Guess where I am now . . . .

Monday, March 21, 2011

Neither Do I Condemn You...

Jesus said to her, 'Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, 'Neither do I condemn you. Go. From now on sin no more'" (Jn 8:3-11)

Over the years as a Pastor I have experienced verbal condemnatory attacks by God’s ‘policemen.’ The attacks have come in many forms. They have been for the most part untrue, except where I have done big pieces of stupid which I had to humbly admit!

However, I have been where this woman was with my accusers ready to stone me. Good news, my character and integrity (and life) have withstood these attacks.

I have found that there are two kinds of people in the world:
1. Those who condemn you.
2. Those who don’t.

Those who do are the most unqualified to condemn you! I prefer to stay away from modern day Pharisees who love few things more than exposing your sin and lifting themselves up by putting you down, and I suggest that you do too!

Instead, look for friends who, too, have been lifted by God's grace and know how to extend it to others.

There is one that is better able to help in times of guilt, disappointment and condemnation! That is Jesus! He is the One most qualified to condemn you, and yet He won't! So it is imperative that we stay close to Him. By doing that you'll discover that you can recover more quickly. Your scars are not permanent. Jesus will meet you in your dark places and heal the wounds of your past because His grace is greater than your shame. There's no limit to the depth of shame He can see us through because there's no limit to the grace He can supply.

His grace super-abounds!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Value of Bran Muffins????

The couple were 85 years old, and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies.

Though not young, they were both in very good health, largely due to the wife's insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last decade.

One day, their good health didn't help when they went on a rare vacation and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven.

They reached the pearly gates, and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath. A maid could be seen hanging their favorite clothes in the closet.

They gasped in astonishment when he said, "Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now."

The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost. "Why, nothing," Peter replied, "remember, this is your reward in Heaven."

The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.

"What are the greens fees?", grumbled the old man. "This is heaven," St. Peter replied. "You can play for free, every day."

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic deserts, free flowing beverages. "Don't even ask," said St. Peter to the man. "This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy."

The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?" he asked.

"That's the best part," St. Peter replied. "You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like, and you will never get fat or sick. This is Heaven!"

The old man pushed, "No gym to work out at?" "Not unless you want to," was the answer.

"No testing my sugar or blood pressure or..." "Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself."

The old man glared at his wife and said, "You and your bran muffins. We could have been here ten years ago!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Laugh and Dance!

Keep on laughing and dancing!

Can't see image, go here. Look for March 17, 2011 post.

Monday, March 14, 2011

You Shall Not Want

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

To the lost sheep, He is the seeking Shepherd;
To the needy sheep, He is the providing Shepherd;
To the hurting sheep, He is the comforting Shepherd;
To the bruised sheep, He is the healing Shepherd;
To the anxious sheep, He is the peaceful Shepherd;
To the wandering sheep, He is the guiding Shepherd;
To the fearful sheep, He is the protecting Shepherd;
To the lame sheep, He is the carrying Shepherd;
To the discontented sheep, He is the fulfilling Shepherd;
To the parched sheep, He is the anointing Shepherd;
To the timid sheep, He is the reassuring Shepherd;
To the fallen sheep, He is the merciful Shepherd;
To the nervous sheep, He is the quieting Shepherd;
To the heavy laden sheep, He is the restful Shepherd;
To the lonely sheep, He is the ever-present Shepherd;
To the weary sheep, He is the restoring Shepherd;
To all His sheep, He is the Good Shepherd.

by Roy Lessin, his blog is here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Communicating Vision to Your Church

Last week I took the entire service to share on vision for The Vine Fellowship and our finances from 2010. I did it with guests in the house! I have to admit it is a struggle for me not to 'preach the gospel' but I feel this is an equally important task in the life of our church. For 20 years I have done a 'State of the Church Address' that incorporates vision and finances. We are a church that is open about our finances, how we use the people's (God's) money, and give a public accounting of it. We have nothing to hide. We belong to the Kingdom of Light not darkness! We are open and honest about finances. In fact, we are open about any communication here at The Vine given by email or verbally; you say it you own up to it!

Here is what I recently wrote for our Sunday bulletin:

Dear Saints,
Thank you for your support and encouragement with last week’s service on The Vine Fellowship vision and finances. I know some of you may have had guests here and it may not been what you wanted them to experience and I fully understand. It is equally rough for me to take a full Sunday morning service to do it. But it does serve important purposes:

1. It helps everyone to know that we are open and transparent about our finances in this church. I am accountable for how I lead this great church and maintaining my character as you are for your life and character.

2. It helps to keep reminding ourselves of our vision. We need to know why we are here and do what we do so that we all know where we are headed. A vision communicated to people is a refreshing and invigorating experience.

3. A personal best friend of mine, Danny Tice, ministered at the LF NE conference on vision. He said the following: “When we get to a place where we have no vision our term of leadership has expired.” “What does this statement really mean? It means that the primary qualification for a leader of a church is that they have vision for the church they lead. If they don’t, they should either get a vision or they should resign. The vision issue settles the question when a leader should retire? The older leader can still lead if his eyes are not dim and he has vision. Better an old guy with vision than a young guy with no vision.”

Saints, I may be “the old guy” but I still have vision for this church!
I love you,

It amazes me that without exception, I generally hear from a guest or two about how they enjoyed the service. They especially like the fact that we discuss openly finances and such. Many say that their church would never do that and that if you asked about finances you are excoriated! Let me just say, that is wrong!

BTW, you can view Danny Tice's excellent article here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Ten Commandments for a Mother-In-Law

Ten Commandments for a Mother-In-Law

Thou shalt love, honor and respect the new couple.

Thou shalt allow them complete independence.

Thou shalt speak only kindly and loyally about them.

Thou shalt not find fault.

Thou shalt not visit them too frequently, and never enter their home without knocking.

Thou shalt not expect them to visit you too often.

Thou shalt not give advice unless requested.

Thou shalt not mention how much you look forward to grandchildren. [Ooooops, ;>)]

Thou shalt respect their taste in home decorating, though its differs from your own.

Thou shalt petition daily the Heavenly Father, in  whose love they abide, for their happiness.

by Iola M. Irwin

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Shepherd's Restoration

In his classic book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller gives " a striking picture of the care and gentleness of a shepherd. In Psalm 23.3 when David says, "He restores my soul," he uses language every shepherd would understand. Sheep are built in such a way that if they fall over on their side and then onto their back, it is very difficult for them to get up again. They flail their legs in the air, bleat, and cry. After a few hours on their backs, gas begins to collect in their stomachs, the stomach hardens, the air passage is cut off, the sheep will eventually suffocate. This is referred to as a "cast down" position.

When a shepherd restores a cast down sheep, he reassures it, massages its legs to restore circulation, gently turns the sheep over, lifts it up, and holds it so it can regain its equilibrium.

What a picture of what God wants to do for us! When we are on our backs, flailing because of guilt, grief, or grudges, our loving Shepherd reassures us with His grace, lifts us up, and holds us until we’ve gained our spiritual equilibrium.

If you’ve been cast down for any reason, God is the only one who can help you get on your feet again. He will restore your confidence, joy, and strength. —Marvin Williams

This Shepherd of mine knows each trial, each snare,
And at just the right moment my Lord will be there,
On His shoulders to carry each burden for me-
Yes, the Lord is my Shepherd, arid always shall be. -Henry

The weak and the helpless are in the Good Shepherd's special care.