On My Mind and Heart: Second Chances

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This week I’ve been thinking about second chances, how blessed we are that God gives us second and third and fourth and many more chances, and, how we should give others a second chance (or third or fourth) a lot more often than we do.

God gives us a second chance.

Christmas is the celebration of the ultimate second chance.  In the beginning, God created a perfect world in which mankind could live, thrive and commune with God.  But, man blew it.  And because of that, man suffered by being separated from God.  But, through the birth of Jesus Christ (which we celebrate on Christmas Day every year), God gave mankind another chance – a new opportunity to commune with Him.  What a great gift!  We didn’t do anything to earn this second chance.  We didn’t deserve it.  But God gave it to us anyway.

We should give others a second chance too.

The Bible exhorts us to forgive others because in Christ Jesus God forgave us.  Because God gives us a second chance even when we don’t deserve it or earn it, we should be a lot more forgiving of the people in our lives who need a second chance for relationship with us.  I know you’ve been hurt.  I realize that someone has disappointed you, betrayed you, and fallen short of your expectations and needs.  But, guess what?  You’re no peach either.  And either am I.  That’s why we all need to be a little less bitter and lot more forgiving.  When you do that, you’ll be surprised at how much better a restored relationship feels than the broken one you are living with right now.  Try it.

Final thought.

Who do you need to give a second chance to today (just like God gave you a second chance)? 

Everyone Invite Someone!

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Easter Sunday, April 20, is approaching soon. Did you know that more than 50% of people say that they would attend church on Easter Sunday if someone just invited them to come. Wow! A simple invite could lead someone to encounter Jesus! It sounds so simple.

I want to challenge EVERYONE TO INVITE SOMEONE to one or more of our Easter events and services. On Saturday, April 12 at 10 a.m., our annual Easter Egg Hunt & Pancake Breakfast is scheduled. (And, it’s going to be great weather!). On Friday, April 18 at 7 p.m., we have a special Good Friday Service planned. And, on Easter Sunday, April 20, there are two worship services from which to choose – one at 9:30 and another at 11 a.m.

Although inviting someone to church is as simple as saying “Hey, would you like to come to church on Easter?”, we’re offering you some tools to make it even easier:

We have two sets of cards you can pick up on Sunday announcing our Easter programming times and events. Both are easy to carry and easy to hand out. Take as many as you want. Hand them to people at work. Hand them to your friends at the ballpark. Leave them for your food server. Give them to your family. Take a walk and give them to your neighbors.

On the Adventure Facebook page you can find easy to copy pictures of our Easter Invitations. Place them on your FB page. Like them. Send them to your friends via email. Tweet them from your Twitter account. Add them to your Linked In page. One simple post and a note from you saying “Come and check out my great church this Easter!” may be all someone needs to decide to visit.

We are sprucing up the building, adding new directional signs, painting, cleaning, etc. so everyone feels comfortable and at ease when they visit. (There is still work to be done btw – our next scheduled work day is Tuesday, April 15 from 9 a.m. until it’s all finished so please plan to come and help paint, do some light carpentry, move furniture, and clean.)

Our website is new and updated. Go to adventureky.org and check it out. Make sure to create a profile and register to receive email updates.

Inviting someone to something at church is just about the easiest thing that we can do as Christians. It costs nothing. It takes very little time and effort. There is no downside. And, it could change someone’s life for eternity. So, who are you planning to invite?

Pastor Buddy <><

Marriage Matters: Love Geography

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“Love Geography”

note:  These are my sermon “notes” from this Sunday’s message.  (They are notes, I haven’t written this as an article so please excuse the abbreviated words and sentences.  To get the most out of this message, please go to the Adventure Church website and listen to the audio).  You also can read my notes from the first message:  What If I’m Not Married?

If you were going to place your marriage on the “Love Map”, where would it be right now?

The Beach? (honeymoon feeling, a party, everything’s perfect)

On a Mountain Top? (things are going fantastic, we are super blessed, great things are happening to us and our family)

In a Valley? (things are going poorly, something’s wrong, we are arguing often, life is a struggle being married to this person)

In the Grand Canyon? (there is a crisis, someone is having an affair – physically or emotionally, divorce seems like the best option)

On the vast and fertile Plains? (life is good, there is nothing that is dramatically exciting but neither are there any serious problems, day-to-day we are generally content, our children are doing well, we rarely argue and when we do it’s not a knock-down drag-out fight, or, if it is one, we apologize quickly and move on) (note:  most of marriage is going to be in the Plains)

In the Desert? (life was good, but for some reason our relationship is dry and generally lifeless, we are missing nourishment and refreshment, days are hot and difficult, nights are cold and distant)

In the middle of a busy City? (we are very busy, everywhere we turn there is something to do and another responsibility, our kids keep our schedules full and we are running non-stop)

Where are you?  and  Why does it matter?

note:  Marriage is a journey and a destination.  You can probably see your marriage in one of these geographical locations (and can surely remember some times when you were in another location).  Where we are in the journey, and how to navigate the journey matters because:  God presents Himself to us in the marriage relationship (husband to wife, and wife to husband).  He also presents Himself through our marriage to others:  our children, our friends, our church and the world.  Marriage is a means by which we experience God and His grace.

How do we navigate the journey of marriage?  Here are some travel tips:

See the Whole Map

(note: we tend to only see where we are right now and fail to see all that marriage can, and does, bring.  It is important for our marital health and the success of our journey to see the big picture of marriage by seeing the whole map).

It’s not Unusual – remember that where we are is not unusual.  All marriages travel through different locations, and most, at one time or another, will travel through every location.  You are not the first to be in your current situation and you will not be the last.

It’s not Permanent – Your situation won’t last forever.  Circumstances change.  We change.  God changes us and others.

It requires Commitment – Mark 10:9 “What  God has joined together, let man not separate.” – note:  The way to successfully and joyfully navigate the marriage journey is to recognize that you have made a commitment to each other and to God as well.  Commitment is being willing to stay through the difficult times (desert, valley and canyon) even when it’s not enjoyable, in large part because you know that the plains and mountains are there to be experienced.

Recognize Where You Are

It takes Communication

Truth Telling CommunicationEphesians 4:25 “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Gentle, Non-Advesarial CommunicationEphesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Reflect on How You Got There

note:  good or bad, it’s important for us to notice how we got to where we are.  When we take notice of such things we will see patterns of:  being in the Word (or not), being in community (or not) (especially accountability), serving others (or not).

It takes Examination2 Corinthians 13:5 “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?”

It takes ConfessionJames 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

note:  confession isn’t easy or fun.  but, confession removes the “splinter” from our souls that is festering and hurting (maybe not all of the time, but it keeps showing up).

Pack Correctly

note:  on the journey of marriage, we must “pack” with us the right things.  Here are a few things to make sure we pack:

Patience“Love is patient” note:  it can take a while to get out of a valley or through a desert.  It can take a while to learn how to climb a mountain to the top.

Sacrifice“Love is not self-seeking”  note: your marriage should be about the other person, giving 100% and expecting nothing.  (when we do that, we are all more blessed in the end).

Forgiveness“Love is not easily angered, Love keeps no record of wrongs”  (we forgive even before forgiveness is sought and definitely before forgiveness is earned, if ever.  that’s what Jesus did for us on the cross – He forgave us before we repented!)

Remember the True Destination!

note:  the true destination:  Your marriage is not as much for you as it is for others.  Marriage is meant to be a representation to the world of the relationship that exists between Jesus and His Church.  It is:  unconditional love, sacrificing, forgiving, patient, etc.

Why Men Need Discipline, Part 1 – “What is Discipline?”

Recently I was asked to speak at a Men’s “Advance” (I refuse to acknowledge that we should “retreat”) on the topic of Spiritual Disciplines. Based on the material from that talk, I have developed a several-part series that explores “spiritual disciplines” — what they are, why we need them, how to implement them in our lives, and what the consequences will be if we choose not to develop spiritual disciplines in an ever-increasing measure.

This article is the first in the series and is titled What is Discipline?

Is Discipline the same as Punishment?

When the word “discipline” is mentioned, what images come to your mind?  What do you immediately think about?

If you are like me, one of the first thoughts in my mind when I think of “discipline” is “punishment.”  In fact, when I looked up “discipline” in the dictionary, the third definition was “punishment inflicted by way of correction.”

Growing up, I can remember very well what it meant to be disciplined, at school and at home.  It went something like this:  if you break a rule, there is a consequence, and that consequence always was unpleasant and almost always involved pain.  So, the word discipline for me doesn’t always conjure up the most rewarding of images.   I literally chuckled to myself when I read that definition, thinking about what it must be like for some non-Christians to hear a preacher urge them to “engage in spiritual disciplines.”  (Sometimes, the language we use in the church without enough explanation probably can cause some pretty strange thoughts in people’s minds.)

Discipline in Spiritual Matters is about Relationships

But “discipline” is not, in and of itself, negative.  In fact, when speaking in terms of “spiritual disciplines” it is not negative at all.  Rather, “discipline” as it relates to our spiritual lives means the development of habits relating to the choices that we make regarding what we do with our time and energy.  It involves how we involve our minds and our hearts in our daily activities.  It is about acting a certain way because we have been trained to act that way, even when we don’t feel like acting that way.  It is about our priorities.

Spiritual disciplines lead us to make choices, form habits and develop priorities in our lives that enhance our understanding of who God is, determine God’s purposes for us, and keep us focused on Him even when we don’t feel like it.

Spiritual disciplines help us make wise choices in the moment, change how we speak to and work with others, direct how we love our wives and husbands, and impact how we raise our children.

The Bottom Line is Relationship Building

The bottom line is that spiritual disciplines are about moving us into deeper relationships with God and with others on behalf of God.

What’s Next …

What specifically constitutes a “spiritual discipline” and why we need to develop them in an ever-increasing measure are the topics of my next post. . . .