Wednesday, May 31, 2006

There's something about Mary

People are hearing a lot lately about Mary Magdalene from “The Da Vinci Code”. One thing is for sure-she is at the very center of the Gospel account witnessing first hand what Jesus said and did. No doubt she is a compelling figure with an incredible story to tell, but who was Mary according to the Bible?She had a first row seat to much of what we admire and hold dear today concerning Jesus. She sat at his feet during many of his teachings. The Bible tells us that Mary Magdalene was a follower and friend of Jesus as were many women (Matt. 27:55; Mark 15:41). Mark 16:9 & Luke 8:2 both tell us that Jesus cast seven demons out of her. She experienced his life-changing power that set her free from a life of sin. I wonder what kind of life she led that resulted in being overwhelmed by such Satanic power?Matthew 27:45 tells us that she was present during Jesus’ trial and sufferings. What must it have been like to see the Son of God tortured at the hands of such brutality? John tells us that she was at the Crucifixion witnessing the redemptive moment of all history and hearing the last words that Jesus spoke from the cross (John 19:25). Luke tells us that she watched Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus (Luke 23:56). And after three days, Mary and some other women returned to Jesus’ tomb, found that the stone had been rolled away (John 20:1) and ran back to tell the disciples (John 20:2) that someone had taken the body.John also tells us that she was the first person that Jesus appeared to after His resurrection (John 20:15-16) and returned to the disciples confirming the fact that she had seen the risen Lord (John 20:18). So a woman was the first person to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

The claim in Brown’s book concerning Mary is:

"A woman who carried with her a secret so powerful, that if revealed, it threatened to devastate the very foundation of Christianity!"

Whatever you think of this woman, she has a compelling story to tell. There truly was something about Mary. She was privileged to live quite an amazing life. Tomorrow we will talk about this supposed powerful secret concerning the “Sacred Feminine”. Were Jesus and Mary Magdalene married? And if they were, would that somehow discredit Jesus’ claim of deity?

Also, You can join us this weekend for worship as we talk more about Mary Magdalene and women and their role throughout the history of the Bible and the church.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Where did the Bible come from?

I know that I'm to die soon; the Master has made that quite clear to me. 15 And so I am especially eager that you have all this down in black and white so that after I die, you'll have it for ready reference. 16 We weren't, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master, Jesus Christ. We were there for the preview! We saw it with our own eyes: 17 Jesus resplendent with light from God the Father as the voice of Majestic Glory spoke: "This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of all my delight." 18 We were there on the holy mountain with him. We heard the voice out of heaven with our very own ears. 19 We couldn't be more sure of what we saw and heard—God's glory, God's voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You'll do well to keep focusing on it. It's the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. 20 The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. 21 And why? Because it's not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God's Word. 2 Peter 1:14-21 Msg.

This is what Peter wrote shortly before his execution for being a Christ-follower. His story is written down for us to read today. He says that he has seen and heard something amazing with “his own very eyes and ears”. He declares that He had a relationship with an extraordinary man who he identifies as God’s Son Jesus Christ. Peter spent 3 years observing His life and message. Those years changed the course of his life forever. So dramatic was the impact of Jesus upon Peter that he redirected his life-long vocation from fishing for fish to “fishing for men”.

Peter, facing death writes that he could not be “more sure” about who Christ was. I guess that would be important if you were going to die for what you believed about someone.
Let me ask you something-would you be willing to die for a lie? Would you leave your spouse, children, and friends behind and be crucified (as Peter was) for a hoax? What would be your pay-off? Most of the Apostles died horrible deaths for their confession concerning Jesus. This is one of the most convincing facts supporting the truth of the Bible-especially their claims about Jesus Christ.

The Bible has a central “prophetic” message concerning the coming Messiah for whom all the Jews had been waiting for centuries. Peter tells us to stay focused on it and use it as encouragement when the world darkens and our view is obscured. Jesus is symbolized and predicted throughout the Bible-from Genesis to Revelation and He is irremovably placed at the center of human history.

The scriptures we have received are by no means a human invention. The Bible has been divinely inspired and communicated by God’s Holy Spirit through holy men of old. These people likely did not know they were being used by God to write the scriptures but nevertheless they were. No doubt they knew God was speaking to them and possibly through them but they probably did not grasp the magnitude of their writings.

These powerful words have been directing the affairs of men for thousands of years. The words cannot be destroyed. They cannot be discredited. They can only be obeyed and admired. They are “alive and powerful” and “more valuable than precious gold or silver”. God has exalted His word above even His own name! Thank God for His indesructable word!

“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way.”2 Tim. 3:16 (The Message)

Join us this weekend for “Can We Trust the Bible”.

Seek the Truth Series


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

caring enough to be informed

“Can the Bible be Trusted?” This is the key question we are discussing. Many people (even Christians) have no idea of how we got the bible we have, where it came from, or how we know it is a reliable document of history.

Since we are called to participate in a cultural conversation with people who do not believe in the Bible, we must have a better argument than, “Well it is in the bible so it must be true.” That mind-set will not work for many unbelieving questioners.

As I have said, this is an opportune moment when our culture is asking key questions. We are equipping ourselves to be able to answer the very important questions being asked by pre-Christians. I want to encourage you to engage this conversation. Pay close attention to what our church is teaching. Pay close attention to what people are saying. Read your Bible for yourself. Take this opportunity to understand your faith at a new and deeper level. You will be excited to find out how true and historically verifiable Jesus and the Bible are.

1) If you are planning to engage non-believers or non-church members in a conversation, you need to have truth to share.
2) If you are going to be a part of this cultural conversation, you must be familiar with the arguments.
3) If you are unwilling to be informed and communicate with understanding and with intellect, and with respect for others, don’t participate in the conversation.One of the principle marketing schemes of “The Da Vinci Code” is the tagline, “Seek the Truth.” That is exactly what we want everyone to do. However, we must understand that in seeking truth we must seek the whole truth and not simply parts of the truth. Truth is everywhere in the world and all truth is God’s truth.The bible is filled with truth. Everything in the bible is true. But it is not true because it is in the bible; it is in the bible because it is true. All truth is God’s truth. And we can see God in all kinds of places. The entire earth is filled with His glory.Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament, quoted pagan philosophers and authors in his letters. Those quotes ended up in our bible. Let me give you an example.Paul is writing to Titus who lives on the island of Crete. The people of Crete were dishonest, lazy and untrustworthy people. But, instead of Paul simply saying that about them, he says this: “Even one of their own prophets has said, "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.” Titus 1:12-14 (NIV) So, the writing of an atheistic, pagan philosopher ended up in scripture. Why? He knew they would understand and relate to it and because what was said was true and Paul claimed that truth to teach a spiritual lesson. It also points out that the apostle Paul was not a big fan of boycotting literature or art of his day that didn’t necessarily agree with his particular theology. But, he was discerning in his application of it.

We too are seeking to grab the “Da Vinci Code” and make use of it to advance the cause of Jesus. We are going to take “what the enemy has meant for evil” and let “God turn it around for good”. In order for us to do this we must engage the culture. We must meet people where they are. We must love them and understand their doubts and fears. I believe this is the heart of Jesus.

Join us this weekend for “Can the Bible Be Trusted?”

Seek the Truth Series.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

outrageous odds

Suppose you had a friend that predicted the winning number of a state lottery. Odds are about one in 10,000,000. You may be extremely impressed but you wouldn’t claim he had “divine insight”. What if he did it a second time? Odds immediately jump to one in 100,000,000,000,000. Suddenly it would seem impossible without some trick or “supernatural information”. Imagine someone picking it three times(I don’t have room for the zeros). Such an “impossible” feat would likely end lotteries forever. The odds of this occurring are nil.

Miraculous insight in the Bible occurring by chance has a probability far more remote than winning dozens of lotteries. Only supernatural inspiration can account for the amazingly accurate predictions found in the Bible.

Did you know that the future is foretold with precision and accuracy many, many times in scripture? Hundreds and hundreds of prophecies are stated in the Bible with NO errors. All kinds of predictions made concerning people, places, and events. Irrefutable evidence exists that the prophecies could not have been contrived.

I want to invite you this weekend to come and hear the message “Can we trust the Bible”. Bring someone with you. I think you will enjoy the teaching and find great confidence in the reliability of our great #1 Best-seller of all time-The Bible.


Monday, May 22, 2006

the real #1 best-seller

Many who read the Da Vinci Code say that they can hardly put the book down. Entire subcultures are currently forming of conspiracy theorists that love the fictional book and actually believe its outrageous claims. I have not read it entirely myself but I have seen the movie and the story is quite compelling.

There is another book I have been reading for several years now. I try to put it down only to pick it up again. I have read it and reread it several times. I have actually worn copies of it out and memorized many sections of it. You might say I’m kind of a fanatic about it.

“The word of God is alive and powerful” Heb. 4:12

The Bible is the #1 best-selling book of all time. I think the Da Vinci Code is somewhere behind that. While his book is extremely well-written, the claims of Brown’s novel are quickly being dismissed as historically inaccurate while the scriptures are continually being verified through archaeology, science, and historians.

For thousands of years people have been finding hope, strength, wisdom, and encouragement from the written Word of God. It truly is “alive and powerful”.

Its Design is miraculous. It consists of 66 books written by over 40 authors from all walks of life. Kings, fisherman, politicians, pharisees, tax collectors, doctors, generals, shepherds, etc.-what an unlikely collection of people for God to use to speak to us.

It was written over a span of 1500 years in various places, cultures, and circumstances yet it miraculously remains unified in its message and purpose throughout. This is not humanly possible-it could only be accomplished through Divine inspiration.

The Bible contains books of verifiable history, law, future predictions, beautiful poetry, proverbial wisdom, and inspiring music.

The scriptures posses a divine quality that has been admired by generation after generation. God has breathed his Word into the hearts women and men since the beginning of time. I suspect He will continue to do so in our future.

Unlike other books, the Bible has an enduring quality that is miraculous. Weather failed to destroy it. Nations failed to silence it. Time failed to marginalize it. Critics failed to disprove it. The Bible marches on! Jesus said, “God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God's Law will be alive and working.” (Matt. 5:18 Msg.)

Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” has sought to cast doubt upon the beloved Bible as have many others, but in the end, he and it will pass away. God’s Word will live on.

Have you read your Bible today?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Am I a crazy fool?

One time several years back, I was suddenly overcome with doubt. Thoughts that Christianity was not true began to overwhelm me and flood my mind. I began to doubt the Bible, the resurrection-even the existence of God. And this was while serving as a pastor! It was not until I realized the truth that my faith arises out of actual, verifiable history that my occasional doubt attacks were buried for good.

Do you ever wonder if all the Christian stuff is just made up? Do you ever wonder if you are a crazy fool believing a bunch of distorted stories and even outright lies? Do you have friends who do not believe in God? Do you long for some solid proof that can calm your occasional battles with doubt? Would you like to be able to have an intelligent discussion with others concerning the veracity of your faith?

If so, then this series is for you. “Seek the Truth” will help answer several serious questions that many have asked both inside and outside the walls of the Christian church.

Can we really trust what we have received from History?
Can I really know if the Bible is true?
Are women ultimately the enemy of faith?
Who was Jesus really and did He marry Mary Magdalene and have children?

Personally, I believe that most people have doubt from time to time. I also believe that God understands. John the Baptist experienced doubt about Jesus long after he made His bold public declaration that He was the Messiah-a confession that he was ultimately imprisoned and beheaded for. He even asked Jesus, “Are you sure you are the one we have waited for?” Jesus was not angry with him. In fact he presented him with factual, verifiable, historical evidence that He was who He claimed to be (God in the flesh!).

Doubt and uncertainty do not threaten real faith. In fact they strengthen it! Uncertainty causes me to reexamine, to reflect, to search for truth, for answers to my deep questions. If my search is genuine, then it will always lead me to the truth. I have found Jesus to be the truth.

His historical example is impeccable. His word to me has been transformational. The life He lived caused the people watching the clock to start time over. He must have been pretty amazing to them!

Join us as we “Seek the Truth” over the next few weeks @ New Community Church.

Don’t forget our 4 new service times:

Saturday @ Pecos location 6:00 PM
Sunday @ Green Valley 9:00 AM
Sunday @ Pecos 10:00 AM & 11:30 AM

See you this weekend and bring a friend!


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Da Vinci a gift?

I have been on Dan Brown’s website this morning, and I wanted to provide you with a quote from an interview about his best-selling book, The Da Vinci Code.

HOW MUCH OF THIS NOVEL IS TRUE?“The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction. While the book's characters and their actions are obviously not real, the artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals depicted in this novel all exist (for example, Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, the Gnostic Gospels, Hieros Gamos, etc.). These real elements are interpreted and debated by fictional characters. While it is my belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may have merit, each individual reader must explore these characters' viewpoints and come to his or her own interpretations. My hope in writing this novel was that the story would serve as a catalyst and a springboard for people to discuss the important topics of faith, religion, and history.”
-Dan Brown

Eph 5:16 “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (NIV)Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Dan Brown supporter. I think he believes his erronious theories. But if Dan Brown’s intent was for his book to provide an opportunity to discuss important issues like “faith, religion, and history”, then by all means let’s do exactly that. Let’s make the most of this opportinity.
THE PHENOMENON1. The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 40 million hard-cover copies since its release in 2003, becoming the best-selling fiction book EVER.
2. Remained Top Ten on the New York Times Best Seller list for over two years.3. Translated into more than 40 languages worldwide and is a big hit in England and Australia.4. Author, Dan Brown, was recently named one of the world’s one hundred most influential people by Time magazine.5. Has become a major motion picture starring Hollywood icon Tom Hanks and directed by Ron Howard.If you haven’t read it, you probably know many people who have. (My wife is currently reading it.)THE IMPACTThis is what people are saying about The Da Vinci Code:"It nearly made me lose my faith.""It’s just a novel.""It shows that the Bible can’t possibly be accurate and that the text was changed.""It made me question everything.""The book is true or it couldn’t be printed.""While the book is ’fiction,’ one can’t help but believe much of it."

According to Barna RESEARCH Group:1. The Da Vinci Code has been read "cover to cover" by roughly 45 million adults in the U.S. - that’s one out of every five adults (I’m finding this hard to believe.)2. Of those readers, 24% said the book was helpful in relation to their "personal spiritual growth or understanding." That means about 11 million adults considered The Da Vinci Code a helpful spiritual document.


Dan Brown has done nothing more than write an excellent work of fiction. There is no need for the church to attack him or assume a posture of threat or insecurity. Our faith remains firm and the book is an opportunity to enter into dialogue with our community. I consider the book a gift! It has given the church a fresh opportunity to truly examine her beliefs. We have nothing to fear except ignorance-and too many have been too ignorant for too long. Thanks to the book a sleeping giant is awakening and ignorance can be replaced by historical and theological understanding. The facts of the historical Jesus will shine brightly once again and when the dust has settled, Christ will be who He has always been-King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I consider the book a gift!

Join us for our new series, “Seek the Truth”.
-Do the Winners Write History?
-Can We Trust the Bible?
-The Anti-Woman Church?
-Does Jesus Have Grandkids?

Begins this weekend!


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Seek the Truth"

If you turn on your TV right now, within 10 minutes you are likely to see something about the best selling book and now movie, “The Da Vinci Code”. Many people will hear things and form beliefs over the next several weeks. This will certainly be a problem for some, but it also will be an incredible opportunity for our church. It will be an opportunity for you.

Some people see problems, others see opportunities. That is really what is going on right now. It’s not often that the entire country is inquisitive about the authenticity of scripture or that we have a “wide open door” to talk about the deity of Jesus Christ. “Seek the Truth” is the subtitle on countless promotional materials for the movie. I like that!

Let me give two practical reasons for why we are going to talk about The Da Vinci Code over the next few weeks? 1. Dan Brown’s book makes some serious claims about Jesus that strike at the heart of what we believe. Because of the enormous popularity of this book and the likely blockbuster status of the movie, it’s essential that we address whether those claims are true. While the characters are obviously fictitious, Brown claims the information to be true. At the beginning of his book, it reads: “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.”2. As this movie comes out, it provides an open door to talk about spiritual things. People who normally wouldn’t want to talk about Jesus will have the questions of the movie on their mind. People who aren’t normally interested in discussing the Bible will likely want to talk about what the movie claimed. This is an opportunity that we need to seize. Therefore, this sermon series is not just to help you understand the issues yourself, but it’s to equip you to be able to share the truth with the people you come in contact with. 1 Peter 3:15 says that we should always be ready with an answer as to why we believe in Jesus. I hope to prepare you to give those answers as they relate to The Da Vinci Code.

Are you “ready” to have a discussion with a friend about the trustworthiness of scripture? Do you know how the Bible was formed? Can you speak with any confidence about how you are convinced that Jesus was truly the Son of God? How do you know? What about the “sacred feminine”? Or the “secret bloodline”? Or all of the “falsified history”?

There are only two reasons I can think of why we would not talk about this at this time: Ignorance or fear. I do not think we should be ignorant of what is happening in culture-especially when it is shaping spiritual beliefs. I also do not think we have anything to fear. The truth will shine brightly among us for the next few weeks, and many will be deepened and strengthened in their faith.

Get ready for a powerful, challenging, interesting, thought-provoking series as we “Seek the Truth” @ New Community Church.


Thursday, May 11, 2006

God sees you

She usually gets up in the morning a little frazzled from the day before. She has a job on the strip at a casino. The hours are a little crazy and the environment isn’t the healthiest, but it does pay the bills.

The Father of her children is no longer in the picture. But that is not going to stop her from providing for her children. She rushes to get the kids fed, dressed, and off to school. She remembers what it was like to have a man around and wonders if maybe she will ever meet one worth having again. With a tear running down her cheek, she quickly brushes the thought aside and tries to get ready for another long, hard day. Clean the house, do some laundry (how does the pile grow so fast?), find somebody to pick the kids up from school.

“God, I need you! Help me to make it through this day,” she prays. “Protect my children out there today. Give me strength.” Finally, she collapses in tears feeling the weight of it all.

This story may not be your story, but it is the story of so many in our city-even in our church. This is a time of year when many are enjoying and celebrating moms. I think that is great. We should do it big time! No one on earth goes through more and gives more and sacrifices more than a mother. What I want to focus on today are our single moms who, in my opinion, might be the strongest, bravest persons on earth.

Hey, you out there! Yes, you mom. I salute you! You are amazing to me. I see all that my wife does to love and raise our son, and she has me to help. I don’t know how you do it, but you do. You deserve all the credit in the world. Not many could do what you do. Certainly not many men could. You are a counselor, healer, teacher, comforter, supporter, friend, coach-I could go on and on and you know it! The truth is, only God knows all the hats you wear, and you wear them well I might add.

I guess what I want to say is that God sees you. You may feel as if you are all alone in this, but you are not. Once there was a woman in the Bible named Hagar who was abandoned by her husband and thought she and her little boy were going to die in the wilderness. She too collapsed and began to weep when God suddenly intersected her life.

Genesis 16:7, 13 The angel of the Lord found HagarShe gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me.”

I encourage you to read the surrounding story. It is a story just for you. God has compassion on Hagar and her son. He assures her that He is very aware of her situation. He provides for her and the boy. He even speaks to her about the future of her child.

Moms, please know that God sees you today. Don’t let go of Him. He will take care of you. As a pastor I want you to know that I admire you and we are here as a church to support you. You Go Girl!

If you know a single mom you would like to encourage, please forward this e-mail to them today. Invite them to our special “Mother’s Day Experience” this weekend. And pray for a mom today. Chris

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

"Don't Break Mom's Heart"

Today I Buried my Grandmother. I am in Oklahoma City for two days grieving with family and celebrating a life well lived.

I have to be honest-I am a little overwhelmed by everything I have experienced today.

I found myself standing on a stage in a church that I attended as a little boy. I saw people I have not seen in years. I found myself surrounded by family that has been torn apart through painful divorce and petty differences since I was a child.

I was asked to speak in honor of my grandmother. I found that speaking about Grandma was easy. Her life truly was a story of Jesus’ strength in overcoming incredible odds and keeping faith through continual loss and heartache. Words flowed from my heart filled with positive memories of who she was and her steadfast love for Christ. That part was easy.

What was not so easy was to speak to all her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. Grandma’s children had spread out across the country and many were not even on speaking terms any longer. I looked out and saw cousins that I joyfully played with as a child who had kids I did not even know existed. My heart began to break as I realized how Satan had ripped us all off of precious years of life together.

Grandma’s eyes had seen so much pain. An abusive marriage, a death of a second husband, divorce in children, wayward and wild grandchildren, etc…

Then I just did it. (I live in Vegas right? Why not just roll the dice?) I pushed my notes aside and spoke from my heart about how Grandma would wish for us something so different.

A mother’s heart for her children is to love one another. Mom’s want their kids to be loyal to each other and stick together throughout life. Life is hard and according to scripture a “brother is born for adversity” so when adversity comes and family falls apart a mom’s heart breaks.

My lesson today is this:

Life is going to hurt and all of us are going to make mistakes-especially with family. It is not right to break mom’s heart through leaving relationships unreconciled. Out of love for her we should seek to be there for her and each other throughout our lives.

Mother’s day is this Sunday. How is your relationship with Mom? How about your brothers and sisters? Cousins? Don’t let Satan steal from you and from your Mother the joy of a loving family. Love while you have time and forgive before it is too late.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hidden Beauty

This morning I woke up and read this great passage.

“Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” Eph. 5:26- 27 Msg.

It is more than encouraging to me to know that I am part of Jesus’ church. She is so beautiful to me. When I think of all of the people that I have had the privilege of knowing and loving it brings tears to my eyes.

I love the church. Through it I have discovered who I am. Some people fail to see her beauty. They only look on the surface. The real attraction of the church is deep beneath the surface of her skin. It is mostly an emerging beauty blossoming like a flower in its season. Yes, there are times when she can seem dry and even lifeless, but don’t let that fool you. She is a radiant bride.

The key for her is the voice of Jesus. His words give His church life. They are words that reassure her heart-words that call her home when she wanders. Her true self emerges as Jesus speaks to her, calling out of her qualities and virtues not even she knows she has. When she listens to Him, she becomes vibrant. His words wash over her, cleansing her of all her dirt and filth. At the sound of His voice, her blemishes dissappear and the beauty of God radiates for all to see. One day we will see her in all her glory. But right now she has her moments. Moments of beauty, wonder and awe.

I believe that Jesus’ church is God’s joy and delight as well as His pain and agony. He laughs with her, cries with her, dances over her, and dies for her. There is nothing he won’t give her. The scriptures say that a woman is the glory of her husband. Then that means that the church is the radiant glory of God! He does amazing things through her. He loves the unlovely, heals the broken-hearted and spreads hope across the face of the earth like a fragrance. One day Jesus will come for His bride but until then she waits and listens.

I leave today you with a prayer:

“And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know— far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!” Eph. 3:17-21 Msg. I love the church! I believe the best days for the church yet to come.

May Christ call out the best in you today!


Friday, May 05, 2006

My pride & joy

Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven." Matt. 16:18-19

We have been talking about God’s vision. He has always had a vision of a people who would belong to His Son. Coming to know His Son Jesus is the defining moment of our lives. It sets the direction and tone for everything from then on. We receive a new name, discover who we really are, and find our destiny-all in Christ.

To become part of Christ’s church is to become a part of the force that pushes back the powers of Satanic darkness. The world is currently being “retaken” for Christ and we are the ones who are doing the taking. The church is where locked doors are opened by keys that Jesus himself hands us. People whose lives were held in bondage to sin and Satan find release at the hands of the mighty followers of Jesus who spread His message of hope and love. Doors are opening wide as you and I stand in our identity as overcomers and conquerors setting captives free and spreading hope to the world.

The church is where losers become winners. Those who have not been considered popular or cool “find themselves” in the church. They are no longer repressed by an appearance/performance based culture. They are released to be who God intended for them to be. The can use their unique gifts, personality, and life experiences on a winning team and can make a difference in the world.

This is what I love the most-embracing “losers” and seeing them become winners. That is exactly what happens when we become part of the church. According to Jesus, not even the powers of hell can stop us.

“For they are transplanted into the LORD's own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.” Ps. 92:13

This is the vision that Michelle, I, and the rest of the team see as your pastors. It is a vision of you flourishing and influencing the world for Christ. It is God’s vision for you.

“After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what is our proud reward and crown? It is you! Yes, you will bring us much joy as we stand together before our Lord Jesus when he comes back again. For you are our pride and joy.” I Thes. 2:19-20


Who are you?

Yesterday we said that the church is a place of vision. Not only do we see a vision of who Jesus is but we also see a vision of who we are. Jesus is the only One who can speak to us about our true identity. Do you really know who you are?

“Jesus pressed them, "And how about you? Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter said, "You're the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus came back, "God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn't get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” Matt. 16:15-18

Everywhere in our culture we have voices trying to influence us and confuse us about who we should be. Many people struggle to really know and understand themselves. I know I have. Trusting in Christ has clarified so much for me. Jesus does not leave us in the dark-He tells us who we are. And where does He do this? In the context of His people-the Body of Christ-the church.

It is in discovering who He is that we discover who we are. And we discover who He is through the church. God’s people are the church. It is not the building where we meet, but the people who meet in the building that are the church. These are some of the most beautiful, creative and articulate people in the world. And God speaks through His people to His people. What does He says to us? He tells us what no one else can-who we are. I love it!

Simon was renamed “Peter” and told that he was a “rock” of a man-a solid human being through whom God would build a dream-a mighty force to be reckoned with. “So expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” What was the dream? It was us! It was the church!

The church is what God is doing on the earth. When I give myself to the church I give myself to what God loves most-His people. God loves the church. Jesus loved the church and gave His life for her. Michelle and I love the church as well and intend to give the rest of our lives to her (you) as well.

Many people at NCC are discovering these two beautiful truths:
1. Who Jesus is
2. Who they are

Come hear their powerful stories and more this weekend. Come see a vision of how together, we change our world. Not even hell itself will be able to stop us!

Join us this weekend for the powerful breakthrough event. “God’s Vision for You”


Where there is no vision, the people perish: Prov. 29:18

Do you have a vision for your life? Do you have a picture that God has placed in your mind about where you are going and what you are going to do? The Bible says that when people don’t see what God’s dream for them is they wander directionless away from Him and toward peril.

Nine years ago, God gave Michelle and me a dream. It is the same dream He gave his Son Jesus long ago.

“And now I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” Matt. 16:18

This dream has been handed to ordinary people like Peter and me and you for centuries. Depending on the time, place, and culture, Jesus’ dream may take different expressions, but the mission stays the same. We are to reach the lost, the hurting, and the next generation. Here is what His vision looks like as revealed to us.

New Community is Jesus Christ’s dream of:

*bringing the life of Jesus to our valley by planting 10 churches/locations throughout the city.

*people overcoming life’s biggest challenges, realizing dreams, and fulfilling their destiny.

*marriages becoming strong, fulfilling, and lasting entire

*equipping homes so that children become successful in life and dangerous to the kingdom of darkness.

*being a launching pad for effective mission efforts spanning the entire globe through our network of churches.

*being the visible expression of the life of Jesus to this city.

For the last eight years, the people of NCC have given their hearts and lives serving and watching with amazement as God makes the dream reality.

Join me this weekend as we take a fresh look at “God’s Vision for You”.