Have you ever been stuck? In a snowbank? In a routine? In a dead-end job? In a destructive habit? Not much fun, is it?
Do you ever eat more calories than your body needs? Feel like you ought to exercise but don’t? Know that something is wrong, but do it anyway? Well, welcome to the human race!
We all have to deal with hurts, hang-ups, and habits that we’re not proud of. The question is, how can we get unstuck?
For six Sundays (May 21 through June 25), we’ll give each other some help with that. We’ll focus on a few simple, achievable, Bible-based choices that can move us from “stuck” to “unstuck”, and put us on a path to a better future. Come join us for any or all of these worship times!
Does it seem to you that churches do some weird things?
Maybe “weird” isn’t the right word. Odd? Strange? Peculiar?
Many church customs that we church-goers take for granted are unheard-of, or at least rare, in other parts of society. Why do we do them? What do they really accomplish?
This short series will address those questions with regard to four specific activities that “we do.” This will be an especially helpful series for those of you who’ve been avoiding church for one reason or another. Maybe it will help you see that there’s a method in our madness. At least we hope so!
April 23: “Gather” (Speaker: Steve Cullum)
April 30: “Sing” (Speaker: Brian Yakey)
May 7: “Eat” (Speaker: Andy Glass)
May 14: “Dive” (Speaker: Tom Gerdts)
“I’d love to go on an overseas mission trip someday, but…
…I don’t have the time or money for one of those challenging trips to Kenya or Poland.”
…I wouldn’t want to go without a family member accompanying me.”
…the language barrier concerns me.”
…I’m not sure it’s safe.”
Well, I’m glad to inform you that “someday” has come! RCC’s newest mission destination, the Dominican Republic (www.gomin.org) checks off all those boxes. It’s a true cross-cultural experience, but more accessible, affordable, and family-friendly than our other options — though those destinations are still fantastic, by the way. RCC’s first mission trip to the D.R., which will take place within the next year, is open to adults and teens. Whatever your age or skillset, you can make an impact and have a life-changing experience with God and His people.
Interested? I invite you to attend one of these no-obligation information meetings:
Sunday, April 23 at 12:30 PM
Monday, April 24 at 7:00 PM
I think a lot of us struggle with this matter of confidence. Even those of us who give off an air of being totally “together” probably struggle on some level with self-doubt. Nothing to be ashamed of there.
But I believe that the Christian walk of life offers us the best possible basis for living a truly confident life. It all boils down to this: We’re not self-confident, but we are God-confident. “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power…” (II Timothy 1:7). “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
In this week’s message, I talked about some contrasts between a “religion” approach to the Christian life and a “relationship” approach (relationship with God through Christ, that is). They’re contrasts that have a profound effect on our identity. Here they are again. I hope you find them helpful.
RELIGION: My identity swings between two extremes. When I’m living up to my personal moral standards, I feel confident; but I’m likely to be proud, and unsympathetic toward “failing” people. When I’m not living up to my standards, I feel like a failure.
RELATIONSHIP: My identity is not based on my moral achievement. I understand that I’m simultaneously sinful and saved. I’m so bad that Jesus had to die for me, but I’m so loved that He was willing to die for me. This leads me to deep humility and confidence at the same time.
RELIGION: When I get criticized, I’m angry or even devastated, because it’s essential that I think of myself as a “good person”. Threats to that identity must be destroyed or explained away at all costs.
RELATIONSHIP: When I get criticized, it hurts; but it isn’t essential for me to think of myself as a good person. My identity isn’t built on my record or my performance, but on my confidence in God’s love for me in Christ.
RELIGION: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how morally good I am. So I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.
RELATIONSHIP: My identity and self-worth are centered on the One who died and rose again for me. I’m saved by divine grace, so I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.
“May I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Galatians 6:14) I am confident, in God!
Not surprisingly, I got a lot of feedback on Sunday’s message. Also not surprisingly, most of it was very positive.
I don’t mean it was positive about the great job I did. That’s highly questionable! I only mean that people seemed to love the positive subject matter, about affirmation. This is another confirmation to me that we all feel the need to be affirmed, encouraged, fortified — frequently — in our Christian identity and faith.
One part that seemed to ring a bell with many of you is the “position/condition” distinction I talked about. So here’s the essence of that again:
The Christ-follower’s position is “in Christ” (Romans 8:1-2; Ephesians 2:10; II Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9). This is his/her actual secure spiritual status in the eyes of God, by divine grace and through personal faith. The Christ-follower’s condition is his/her imperfect expression of that spiritual status. Clearly, our behavioral condition often doesn’t accurately reflect our true position in Christ. But — again by God’s grace — my flawed condition doesn’t negate the fantastic reality of my secure position!
|In Christ||A work in progress|
And here’s the key point: My true identity is firmly attached to that “Position” column. Though there are flaws aplenty in my character and behavior, I must not allow myself to be defined by them. “I am” first and foremost a Christian. God Himself states that I am His child, and that’s ultimately all that matters. His acceptance of me isn’t based on my performance, but on Jesus’ performance.
Take that, Satan! I am . . .affirmed by God!
To listen to messages from the “I Am” worship series, click here.
In our Sunday worship gatherings, we commissioned three RCC servants — Kathy Peters, Michael Peters, and Andy Glass — to represent us on a short exploratory trip to the mission field of the Dominican Republic. They’ll leave early this Tuesday morning and return Friday night.
They’ll be investigating the work of GO Ministries in that island country. From the research our Global Outreach Team has done, this looks like it could be an excellent recurring mission trip destination for individuals and families who are seeking a quality cross-cultural ministry experience, but for whom a trip to one of our established partners in Poland (Graceland Ministries), Kenya (Missions of Hope), or Indonesia (Asia-Pacific International) would be too much of a stretch.
One aspect that especially excites us is that this could be a great multi-generational opportunity (parents and children, even grandparents and grandchildren, travelling and serving together); but we won’t know until we check it out more completely. That’s what this week is about.
Please pray for our friends, and ask God to use their experience as a source of wise guidance for future decisions!
“Who am I?”
“Why am I here?”
“Where am I going?”
These are three of the most important questions we could ask. The third one concerns the issue of destiny. The second: Origin. But the first is the most foundational of all. It addresses the matter of identity. A sense of self. I might assess you according to your outward appearance or behavior; God knows the real you. What is the “real you?” Who are you, at your very core?
As with everything else, Jesus of Nazareth is our perfect example of what it means to establish and maintain a healthy identity. Always confident, but never arrogant. Calm, but not passive. Self-assured, but not self-sufficient. Boy, do we have a lot to learn from Him!
Join us as we observe Him in ten widely-varying life situations, in this worship series titled, “I Am.”
I hope our “I’m In” worship series has challenged you to think more deeply about your commitment, or potential commitment, to be all in with Jesus.
In Sunday’s fourth and last installment, we considered Matthew’s good example of starting with a step. I think some of us tend to get overwhelmed, thinking about all the good things God wants us to. We kind of take the world on our shoulders and wonder how we can possibly do it all. It would be good for each of us to think more along the lines of “one step at a time”. What’s the next right thing that He wants me to do? Once I’ve identified that thing, however simple it may be, I proceed to do it. Then I start looking for the next step in the process.
With that in mind, here are some possibilities for you to consider. Again, please don’t be overwhelmed by the length of the list. Just search for one item that’s perfectly timed for you, and humbly take that step. God will meet you there, and bless you.
Christian baptism – I start the list with this one because it’s what we emphasized most on Sunday, and because our next Baptism Celebration is coming up on February 19. If you truly have faith in Jesus and want to live for Him, and haven’t been baptized, you need to be. Here’s a great opportunity!
workcampNE – This is a great way to experience a real mission trip close to home (this year it’s in Vermont). Adults and high school students can participate. Sign up by February 14 for our week of service, which will be July 9-15.
Starting Point – This informal group meets every Sunday at 11:30 A.M. It’s a safe place to ask any question about Jesus, the Bible, the church, or RCC in particular. I know you’ll enjoy it and benefit from it.
A Matthew Party – As I suggested, this Sunday is a great opportunity to invite some church-going friends and non-church-going friends to gather for the Super Bowl, and see what God can do with those new friendships.
Pray for One – Have you made this a way of life yet? If not, there’s no time like the present!
Join a Grow Group Each of us needs a small group of believing friends that we see regularly and who “have our back” in this daily challenge of pursuing a relationship with God. What I just described is a Grow Group. Email Andy to explore the possibilities.
Find a place of regular service. This church offers a broad range of service options — some that are weekly, some monthly; some short-term, some long-term. Ask any staff member or elder to help you explore the possibilities. And if you haven’t completed the S.H.A.P.E. assessment, I strongly encourage you to do so. You might be surprised at what you discover about yourself!
Simply come more often. If you’re in the habit of attending Sunday worship gatherings once in a while, start coming once a month. If you come once a month, start coming every week. I think you’ll notice an uptick in the quality of your life “in the Lord.”
This past Sunday, we continued our “I’m In” series with a look at James, the brother of Jesus. I mentioned several Scriptures and resources in the message, which I have also listed here. If you would like to learn more about James or grow in your relationship with Jesus, please use these resources!
- Matthew 13:55 / Mark 6:3
- Matthew 12 / Mark 3 / Luke 8
- John 7:1-5
- Acts 1:13-14; 12:17; 15:13-21; 21:18
- 1 Corinthians 9:5
- Knowing God by J.I. Packer
- Experiencing God by Henry & Richard Blackaby & Claude King
- Aha by Kyle Idleman
To listen to the “Relationship is Greater Than Rules” message online click here!
We all need Jesus. All of us. More than we know. Without Him, we’re a mess. That’s the shocking truth that we tried to explain this past Sunday.
Those who were present received a thought-provoking handout that helps us reflect on our own brokenness and spiritual neediness. For the sake of those not present, here’s the content of that handout. All I’m asking is that you read it, slowly and prayerfully, and let God deal with your spirit however He chooses.
The first part is a personal examination worksheet, and the second part is a reworded version of the famous “12 Steps,” which, of course, constantly brings home our absolute need for divine help with our moral and spiritual condition. I hope this material will facilitate some honest time with God, and a next step toward saying “I’m In with Jesus!”
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless of course you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Anger: I have lost my temper, become agitated, and allowed anger to fester, causing strife.
- Proverbs 29:22 – An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.
- Ephesians 4:26 – In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
Bitterness: I have allowed harshness and bitterness to creep into my heart.
- Ephesians 4:31 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
- Hebrew 12:15 – See to it that no-one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Not submitting: I have refused to honor my brothers and sisters or refused to follow those in authority over me.
- Romans 8:7 – The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
- Ephesians 5:21 – Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Selfish ambition: I have been looking out for my own interests first.
- Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
- James 3:16 – For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
Pride: I have made myself, my position, or my reputation the object and subject of the issue rather than the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
- Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
- Proverbs 13:10 – Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
- Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Malice: I have harbored ill will and/or a desire to injure those around me.
- Colossians 3:8 – But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.
- 1 Peter 2:1 – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
Divisiveness: I have been contentious, promoting controversy rather than peace.
- Titus 3:10 – Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.
- 1 Timothy 1:4 – Nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work — which is by faith.
Stubbornness: I have resisted change or correction and stood firm on my position.
- Psalm 81:12 – So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
- Proverbs 29:1 – A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy.
Unforgiving: I have been slow to forgive, or I have stated that I have forgiven while holding onto anger and hurt. I have failed to forgive others as Christ has forgiven me.
- Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
- Matthew 18:32-33 – Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow-servant just as I had on you?”
Unreconciling: I have refused to meet with a brother or sister to be reconciled, claiming I am too hurt or do not trust the person – effectively choosing not to be reconciled.
- Mark 9:50 – Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.
- Romans 12:18 – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Sexual impurity: I have engaged in sexual fantasies, impure thought life or behavior such as adultery, pornography, or sexual immorality.
- Colossians 3:5 – Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
- Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Misuse of authority: I have used power, manipulation, or control to coerce people or gain advantage.
- Mark 10:42 – Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.”
- 1Peter 5:2-3 – Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
[Personal Examination Worksheet by Jim Van Yperen of Metanoia Ministries]
The 12 Christ-Centered Steps
- We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18)
- We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
- We made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. (Lamentations 3:40)
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:16)
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
- We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
- We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:12)
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. (Colossians 3:16)
- Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
[The 12 Christ-Centered Steps by Celebrate Recovery]
To listen to the “Concede Your Need” message online click here!