Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 4, 2013

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2-3

A young couple rented a vacation cottage for a week. One afternoon the husband looked out a window at the swimming pool and exclaimed, "Let’s change our clothes and go get some exercise!" His wife, who was washing the dishes in the kitchen and looking out the window watching some people play tennis, quickly agreed. While she dressed for a tennis match, he put on his swimming trunks. The window a person chooses to look out at the world often determines that individual’s perception of reality. - Lyle Schaller, “Activating the Passive Church”, p. 19.

What happened to these two young people?

They were influenced by two different visions weren’t they?

Consider the power of each vision and how it influenced them.

First, their vision influenced how they thought. The young man, looking and the pool thought of a refreshing did in the sparkling water of the pool. But his young wife was thinking of the fun and exercise of a rousing game of tennis.

Second, their vision affected their decisions. The husband, thinking of a dip in the pool decided to put on his swim suit while his wife, with visions of tennis balls, chose to don her tennis outfit.

Thirdly, their vision impacted their expectations. The husband was expecting his wife to show up in a bathing suit while she was expecting him to come dressed for tennis!

Finally, their vision dictated their actions. He dressed for swimming and she dressed for tennis.

Being newlyweds we can assume they laughed this off and used it as a lesson in communication going forward.

But imagine if this continued to happen throughout the remainder of their marriage. Would that continue to be funny? What is the likelihood of it taking a toll on their marriage?

My purpose is to illustrate in a simple way the power and importance of vision in your life.

I think you can also see how important vision is in relationships. A shared vision can develop a deep and intimate relationship with shared goals and shared values. But differing visions can tear at the fibers of the relationship and pull the couple in opposite directions.

Now apply this to a church fellowship. I’m sure you have been associated with or known of a church that did not have or did not share a commitment to the same vision. What became of that church?

Contrast that to a church led by visionary leaders who communicate a clear and compelling vision that the people embrace and execute together!

What vision is directing your life?

What vision is compelling your marriage?

Do you know the vision of your church? If so, are you committed to it?

Could it be time for some vision clarification in your life?

September 3, 2013

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14-15

Church growth Specialist Dr. Thom Ranier’s recent research concludes, to his surprise, there is little correlation between a church’s location and its growth. So what is the biggest factor in a church breakthrough? If there is any one basic lesson to learn, it is to lead the church to an outward focus, literally back to the basics.

Can I paraphrase what Dr. Thom is saying here?

“Where your building is located is not nearly as important as where your heart is located.”

And what are the basics Dr. Ranier is talking about? Here’s a hint – Great Commission - as in evangelism and discipleship.

A little less than a year ago we did something that has been significant in the process of relocating the heart of FredWes. On the week of Thanksgiving we decided to prepare our usual Thanksgiving feast for our annual church Thanksgiving dinner, but instead of enjoying it ourselves we decided to share it with the good folks at the EconoLodge. Since then we have had several more opportunities to serve them and are planning other outreaches there.

What has happened in the months since we began our outreach to EconoLodge? Let me list them for you:

1) Our weekly giving has increased
2) Our attendance has increased
3) Several people from there have been showing up at worship services and one has become a member at FredWes!
4) God has led us to more exciting opportunities for outreach! In just a few weeks we will receive financial commitments toward drilling a well in a remote African village. We will have the chance to support Rich and Kara Tippey in their mission trip to Guatemala, and in February we will take a team to minister at Hephzibah Children’s Home!
5) Twenty of our core people have committed to reach one person for Christ by April 30, 2014.

Relocating the heart is the result of being moved upon by the Spirit of God until His priorities are our priorities and His passion is our passion. That change happens one heart at a time.

God is moving on hearts at FredWes.

Is it happening in your heart?

Are your priorities being challenged or changed?

Are you praying for the salvation of specific unsaved people?

Do you find yourself becoming more passionate about spreading the Gospel?