30/30: Economy. Sweet Sleep. All I Need.

26 09 2008

As weird as this sounds, every Thursday I have lunch with Jesus at Potbellys. The food is great and the conversation is incredible. It’s a time to share with Him what is going on in life, pause to reflect on what He is teaching me, and listen to Him as He leads my life. It’s a great time to stop in the middle of a busy week and keep my life focused on Christ. Often times people ask me, “Does He buy?”

I wish, but He doesn’t eat much either.

The last few weeks have been really busy gearing up for 2 services and I’ve felt like that I haven’t had the time to really keep my heart in check. My tank has been getting pretty empty, and the last two weeks I’ve felt like I’m running on fumes.

Enter Jesus.

I was praying and reflecting on all that is happening in the country with the economy and the stress that everyone is feeling. When I get stressed, I have trouble sleeping. Personally, I’ve been carrying some personal issues and I’ve working to unload them and leave them unloaded on Jesus. Yesterday, Jesus led me to Jeremiah 31:25-26…and He rocked my world. I love it when He does that!

Jeremiah is praying for God’s people and prophesying about the future and He is reassured that God is still in control and still active in their lives. His dream ends with God’s words, “For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” Sign me up for some of that “rest” and “joy” which is exactly what I needed. That would have been enough for me, but the next line blew my mind…

“At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.For this insomniac, I’m happy with just sleep, but sweet sleep is the greatest gift in the world.

But Jesus wasn’t done with me yet, God wanted to let me know in troubled times…when we have Jesus, He is all we need. I went back to work after lunch and “All I Need Is You” by Hillsong United was next on my iTunes playlist…

May you and I have sweet sleep as we look to the Only One who give rests for the weary and joy for the sorrowing. He is all we need

PS: “I Heart Revolution” by Hillsong United is a great live CD.


Epic Church Charter Celebration

24 09 2008

Wednesday, October 1
7:00-7:45 Worship and Charter Service
7:45 – 8:30 “Off the Hook” Dessert Buffet

Where: Rochester Schools Administration Building
501 W. University Rochester, MI, 48307

Special Guest Speaker: Bishop David Stechholz, President of the English District, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:4-6

You are invited to participate in a “once in a churchtime” event. On October 1st, Epic Church will become an official congregation of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. What God started with a handful of people in a basement is now a community of Christ followers. It’s a night to celebrate both God’s faithfulness to His people and your commitment to His mission.

Bishop David Stechholz, the President of the English District, will be sharing a special message from God’s Word with us and also leading us in the Official Charter Signing of Epic Members. You have played such an important role in this Epic journey. It would not be a celebration without YOU!

Bring your kids. There will be a special opportunity for them to participate in signing a Kid’s Charter. We invite you to dress in business casual in honor of this special moment with the Bishop. We’ll be taking our first Epic Community Portrait.

Catalyst: The Star Trek Principle

24 09 2008

LESSON #12: Viewers followed the starship enterprise because it boldly went where no man had gone before. Leaders initiate and set standards. They have a compass in their head and a magnet in their heart.

LEARNING: This really hit me on a number of levels.

1. Epic. When I look the church across the United States…less and less people attend…more and more people think it’s irrelevant. At Epic, we are willing to blow up old paradigms, pioneer new methods, and use all the creativity that God has placed within us. Why? To just be different. No, but to “do whatever it takes” to reach people for Christ. I love the vision that God has given us and I personally could not live my life for any smaller cause.

What new dreams to you think God is dreaming for Epic?

2. Leadership. “Look at a man the way that he is, and he only becomes worse. But look at a man as if he were what he could be, and he becomes what he should be” The greatest cause deserves the greatest calling. Do you feel like you’ve reached your God given potential yet? I recently watched “We Were Soldiers.” I am always inspired by Hal Moore’s Leadership. I love this scene:

Personally God has been doing the Stretch Armstrong thing as a leader over the last couple years. When you are not growing, you declining. You can help me…

Where do I need to grow as leader? What area of my leadership should focus my energy to grow?

Last Weeks Message: My Personal Backstory

18 09 2008

The Man of Tombs in Mark 5 is someone I’ve always strangely identified with. It goes back, back, back to 20 years ago. I was struggling with depression and I heard a song that really summarized my life, my struggles and my relationship with Jesus. So I threw this song on my message prep playlist last week…Man of the Tombs, Bob Bennett. Yeah it’s very “old school” and folksy and the video graphics are cheesy…but the lyrics rock!

A number of people have commented this week about how the message last week really helped to shape the way they reach out and share Jesus with others. For those who missed the message, pick up the CD this Sunday. Here are the notes from the message, “Share Your Story”:

The Man of the Tombs: Mark 5:2-20

2When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. 4For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

No One is __TOO FAR__ Away for Jesus to Reach Them

6When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” 8For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” 9Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 11A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Jesus is __STILL__ in the Business of Changing Lives

14Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

Jesus Doesn’t _FORCE__ Himself on Anyone

18As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

How to Share Your Story with Others

1. __SHOW__ people, before you tell people
How has Christ changed you?
Where would you be if you did not have Christ in your life?

2. __BE__ the good news, before you share the good news
What can you do serve those in your life that are far from God?

3. __JOIN__ Jesus in Reaching Out to People
They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. Mark 5:1

Jesus valued this man so much that He…1. left the crowd that loved him, 2. took a boat across a lake, 3. faced a storm on the lake, 4. listened the complaints of the disciples, 5. got yelled at by a crowd who asked Him to “get out of here,” 6. took a boat ride back across a lake. He did all of this to reach ONLY ONE person. That is how valuable we are to Him. That is how valuable our friends who don’t know Christ are to Him.

Monday Morning Quarterback: Two Services

16 09 2008

This past weekend was awesome as we began Epic Act 2: two worship gatherings. It’s been a great journey preparing all summer and to see it all come together was so cool. My Observations of Last Sunday:

1. Epic Volunteers…You Rock! Everything went without a hitch! It was great to see so many new people serving. A huge shout-out to my neighbor Mike who stopped by to help with Set Up.

2. Bigger than Us. Not seeing everyone at one place and one time, gave all of us the unspoken vision that this community is bigger than what we see. I really feel it’s shifted our paradigm in a great way.

3. Room for New People. There was balance between services with more people at 9:45. With the fall kickoff series this weekend, I’m so juiced to see both services fill up with new people this Fall.

4. The Berry Blast Park Entrance complete with turnstile was “Off the Hook.” What a way to get the attention of 1st to 3rd graders in Epic Explorers. You nailed your vision “grabbing their attention so Jesus can grab their hearts.”

5. I need to eat. It’s been 3 years since I did two messages on a Sunday. I need to recaffeinate and eat something between services. I started to crash during the last 10 minutes.

6. Worship Time: 65 minutes for each service.

God is good all the time! All the time God is good!

Epic Fest: Take 2

16 09 2008

Because of the never ending rain last weekend, we had to reschedule EpicFest 2008 for this Saturday. Invite a Friend…it’s going a be a great day to reach out to the community.

5 Things I’ve Learned:Taking Steps of Faith

11 09 2008

It’s been a wild week, but I am so revved about two worship services Sunday. I am excited to see what God is going to do this fall at the 9:45 and 11:15 services and the new people that are going to meet Jesus at those gatherings.

Here’s my top five things about stepping out in faith…

1. Freak’d. If your not a little freak’d by the step of faith, you are attempting something you can do without God. It’s time move out of your comfort zone and take a risk.

2. Courage. If you feel you need courage, good. That is right where God wants you to be. People in the Bible prayed for courage because they didn’t have it. Often they were completely afraid and fearful. If you don’t feel like you don’t need to pray for courage, maybe you’ve been trusting in yourself instead of Christ.

3. Dependence. Faith is complete dependence on Jesus Christ. Without Him nothing would happen. The step of faith should drive you to your knees in prayer. God will always shows up just when you need Him. Or maybe when you just need Him and nothing else.

4. Anticipation. Expect the unexpected. God loves to surprise you and me. We all want God to show up big time in our lives, but we want him to show up in the safety of an easy life. It doesn’t work that way. Jump!

5. Character. Anytime you step out in faith, you will have to step into your heart, your motivation and your character. You will learn more about yourself and realize sinful ways God is trying to change. Christ is preparing you for the next stage of your live. If you aren’t willing to face the truth about yourself, God will probably move you back to where you were.

Whether it’s a new career, a new ministry , a new relationship, or attempting something great for God…Take the Step of Faith. There is really no other way to live the life of following Christ.