Living Well – Update 7 – 2 items

Greetings Christ Fellowship and Friends
Below are 2 important announcements with one additional reminder

Important announcements
#1TIME SENSITIVE-  Our partnership with Pleasant Hill Church is growing with a great need for Saturday. Many regular food pantry volunteers are elderly or have medical conditions. We expect a large number of people in need. We are taking extra precautions and “social distancing”. Additionally we are working to secure a police officer to help with traffic control for drive up distribution. We need 4-6 volunteers . Do not volunteer if you are in a high risk category or live with someone who is. (There are other ways to help if you cannot come Saturday.) – email Sharon for information

#2 It is rare that I push content on our congregation. But I want to challenge each member of our community to listen to a message from a friend of mine. It relates to an email I sent yesterday on belief. It will bless and challenge all of us. Brian Habig from Greenville SC – “An Apostle who sounds like us”

Finally – Please use AMAZON SMILE – for “CHRIST FELLOWSHIP NORTH” in Roswell. Your expenses do not change, but amazon contributes a portion to our congregation.  

Living Well – Update 6

Greetings Christ Fellowship and Friends
We are surrounded with unknowns and these challenges can lead us to fear. But this is not our only option. We can also choose to trust God’s promises. Choosing belief is not “works based” nor is it “prosperity gospel”. Rather, it is actively leaning on God’s character in the presence of questions. In times of confusion we must ask, “which is more real, my experiences or God’s character”?

I recall this quote form pastor Joe Novenson:

I MUST BELIEVE WHAT IS TRUE MORE THAN WHAT I FEEL 

UNTIL WHAT IS TRUE IS MORE REAL TO ME THAN WHAT I FEEL!

This particular season is FULL of opportunities to choose belief. Week by week we proclaim faith in God, but rarely are we pressed upon it. Don’t waste this time. It is tempting to numb the unknowns with Netflix and other vices, but now each one of us has a RARE opportunity to trust God beyond our resources. 

While we believe that spiritual faith and growth are gifts of grace, we must remember that trusting God is an active endeavor. God’s commands to believe demonstrate both our need and capacity to lean on him (and not our understanding). Furthermore, it will help to remember that faith is never needed when we see clearly with full knowledge. So of course this season seems crazy. But we should let these questions mature and present them to our heavenly father. He is big enough for our cries. If we hide from this pain we will miss a beaitiful moment to learn the strength of his power and the patience of his kindness.

Proverbs 3:3-5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  

Finally: We are mobilizing a phone tree to reach out to our body. Please call each other as often as you can. We want to respond to needs as we become aware of them. 

Pray for the Rule family toight as Chelsea is heading in labor. 

Living Well – Update 4

Greetings Christ Fellowship and Friends
Below is a link to a message on Psalm 46. I hope you have enjoyed your Sunday rest. The Oaks family is especially grateful to be back together. I explain this in the first 3 minutes of the talk. 

We will be sending regular updates on rising ministry opportunities. Please reach out if you have needs. Please take time tonight to pray for: Our local, state and national leaders. Those who will lose work during this time. Those who have health issues. Those who are lonely during a time of crisis. 

Pray that we might have the wisdom needed to love those around us as and manifest the faithful love of God. 
Christ is King
you are loved

Living Well – Update 1

Greetings Christ Fellowship and Friends
As we navigate the shifting nature of Business and Community we are presented with new opportunities to worship and enjoy God as we Live Work and Play. The Church (Bride of Jesus) has a long history of manifesting love in the midst of disease. In the coming days we will be sending updates for our gatherings as well as service opportunities and how we can learn from history. 

We should lean on Gods steadfast love as our fixed point through uncertain times. Let us think less on what we might “lose”, but rather make choices based on faith, hope, love and what can be “gained.” Our inheritance is in the never stopping, never failing, always and forever love of God.   Right now we have a tremendous opportunity to love our neighbor.   If you need assistance please let us know. We are forming service teams and look forward to learning how we might worship GOD with this unique opportunity.  

Reminder, We are not gathering this Sunday and postponing the men’s retreat (date TBD). We will send updates concerning next Sunday and other gatherings soon. 

advent – Rest discovered

Monday was the second day of advent. If you have not already placed this rhythm into your holiday routine I highly recommend it. The process will shepherd you daily amidst an onslaught of distractions. Additionally, you will have the benefit of knowing your Church family is studying Christmas alongside you. Below is how I was personally blessed with yesterday’s reading from "Unwrapping the Names of Jesus"

Jesus is the Resurrection = Rest in Chaos

During the holidays our efforts toward peace (order) often yield chaos (disorder). Sometimes its subtle. Sometimes its overwhelming. But chaos always robs us of peace. Furthermore, any attempt to recover peace apart from Christ only yields more chaos. For example: I spent several hours Monday stressing over "problems" beyond my control. I talked to friends, prayed, etc.. In the end I was still stressed. To make myself feel better I packaged my stress as "pastoral care". But in reality, I was trying to bring peace without yielding to Christ. In other words, I believed the lie that stressing over a problem brings comfort. After reading our advent devotion I was wonderfully convicted of my striving and lack of peace. (see day 2 of the devotion – "resurrection mindset").

No one is immune:
Don’t forget the context – I had just preached on Jesus being the "Light of the World". He is God’s holy light bringing peace into chaos. But within 12 hours of preaching I had forgotten this truth. Everything: work, marriage, parenting, etc… all fall under Christ’s redemptive authority. When we treat any endeavor as exempt from his authority we experience a diminished peace. If you are experiencing a lack of peace this morning ask yourself, what would it look like to live as though Jesus life, death and resurrection really did purchase all your fears.

My prayer this season is for you to experience the peace of Christ in the midst of holiday chaos.

I highly encourage you to join us in the adventure. It will be water for your soul.
Christ is King! You are loved
Brian

Quid Pro Quo

By this time next week most folks will be feeling both the joy of the season and its rising stress. NBC, CBS, Instagram and others have already begun bombarding us with demands on insufficiency. More than any other year I am personally challenged to embrace Advent for spiritual refreshment. Our theme this year is REST. By faith, Christmas will be a joyful season of spiritual growth and renewal.

I am very excited about our time this coming Sunday. Providentially our topic is a perfect fit for Thanksgiving and current events. The title is ironically – "Quid Pro Quo, Can we give with no strings attached?" This question is a cornerstone to the Christian message. We will explore Matthew 20:1-16 and discuss questions on giving and the economy of relationships.

Here is a link to our 2019 advent resource
https://onethingalone.com/advent/

You are loved, Christ is King
Brian

I Love Our Church (And Advent)

I Love our Church! Yes we are small and yes we have challenges. But I am sincerely grateful for EVERY member of our body. Without a doubt we will have bumps along the way. These bumps remind me of sloshing my coffee during a morning commute. Yep, it stings for a bit. But I still love the journey and the people in the car.

Christ Fellowship is in an amazing time. God is growing us together. Our challenge is to gaze at the destination and enjoy the process at the same time. It will be messy, but GOD is an expert at making beautiful things from messes.

ALSO, This Sunday is our last Sunday on Ephesians. Soon we will begin Advent. This Advent season we will be exploring a theme of REST. Can true rest be found in the hustle and bustle? I am looking forward to exploring this with you!

The Nurture and Admonition of Grace

We take many vows as church members. These vows are important and help us stay on course. The challenge is not making or keeping the vows, but in applying them correctly. "I promise to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." We love kids and have no reservations making this vow. But applying it properly is another matter.

The first time I made this vow I did it without an understanding of its meaning. There was no lack of motivation or sincerity, so application was not an issue. But proper application, that was another matter. In short, my understanding was not shaped by the "Law of Grace", but from fear of failure and judgement.

Think of it like painting a room. The directions say "open can and apply paint to wall." Application can be accomplished in several hundred different ways. Ignorance produces one result while impatience another. For me, I was more concerned with parenting (emptying the paint) than raising (making beautiful walls).

Here is the power of the gospel. His mercies are new every morning. This is not a cute phrase. It is a cosmological truth. Although I have made plenty of parenting (marriage, friendship, etc.) blunders, God actually uses those blunders as soil for healthy growth. And the water? It is Repentance! Not "I’m a bad guy repentance" Because this is not "nurture and admonition of the Lord". I’m talking about a no strings attached "I failed and need Christ" apology. Amazingly, God uses this honest confession to mend brokenness. It not only shines a light on proper behavior, it also illuminates God’s character of forgiveness.

Parenting (marriage, friendship, etc.) is both showing the right way and confessing our mistakes. Then we discover not only what God desires, but also his character.

finding a gap

Sometimes a little miracle of light comes into a hard space. While the light might seem small, it actually represents something very real. Sometimes that gap opens broadly as we walk straight into a beautiful new space. Other times it remains a thousand yards off and seems to mock us. Either way, one truth remains, the darkness you might be experiencing does not have the final word. There is always more!

Psalm 23:4-5
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Creating

When we think of creating we should think of our daily endeavors. This includes all things from parenting to database management. In all things we are connected to the system of our communities. This connection is part of God’s providence in our lives. Obviously not all parts of this system are healthy. But this is where faith enters into the story. In Christ we believe that our endeavors are part of a new redemptive narrative. Theologically speaking we are between stages 3 & 4 of the biblical timeline.

  1. Creation
  2. Brokeness
  3. Redemption
  4. Glorification

In the beginning God made ALL things GOOD! Unfortunately as stewards of this creation we bring chaos in. This is #2 – brokeness. There is no question that problems exist in our world, and if we pause long enough it’s actually pretty bad. But #3 is this AMAZING gift. Restoration of brokeness is accomplished in Christ and exercised in OUR LIVES. 2 Corinthians 4&5. The end of the Christian story is not the cross, but a return to the GOODNESS of ALL THINGS! This is our hope and the privilege of our daily endeavors. To join with God in the restoration or ALL THINGS! Revelation 21:4-5