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!