Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rend Your Heart

One of my Favorite Jimmy Needham songs is called “Rend”.  Look it up on YouTube or follow this link after you read the article.  It’s a great song that goes along with this scripture.
Joel 2: Rend Your Heart
 12 “Even now,” declares the LORD,
   “return to me with all your heart,
   with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
 13 Rend your heart
   and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
   for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
   and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
   and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
   for the LORD your God.

Joel was a prophet who heard the word of the Lord and declared to a prideful people that the plague that they were under did not have to last forever.  The Chaldians were facing one on the largest plagues that anyone could imagine.  Locusts swarmed their field and had left their land barren.  Joel came on the scene and let them know that God had not left them, and that they were missing out on the love of God.  It didn’t have to be this way. 

If my life, there have been times where I felt like my life, my pride, my possessions got in the way of the love of God – in the way of what God had for me.  All the things I tried to put in front of God left me feeling empty and alone – like a barren wasteland covered in bugs…. gross.

But here’s the thing, God did not leave me to be eaten away by bugs.  He said come back to me dear one and I have got some great things in store for you. 
The LORD’s Answer
 18 Then the LORD was jealous for his land
   and took pity on his people.
 19 The LORD replied[a] to them:
   “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,
   enough to satisfy you fully;
never again will I make you
   an object of scorn to the nations.

If you finish the chapter, there are more promises.  These were the promises for those people at that time, but take time today to search your heart and find out what they mean for you. 

What does it mean when God asks you to rend your heart?  What are you in need of surrendering?

Join us this Sunday.  THE FIRST SUNDAY OF 2012! as we explore more.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

$300,000! …Are we there yet?

It seems like we have heard it a million times. The often repeated question… “Are we there yet?” You know, the one that comes from the back seat as your family makes the trek to Grandma’s house, a vacation destination, or to wherever it takes over the “reasonable” 30 minutes or so of travel. Then, when you are truly “almost there”, the entire car builds with excitement for what is in store at your anticipated destination. Maybe it is the excitement of opening presents or eating Grandma’s homemade goodies or the relaxing visit with those you have not seen in awhile.

Well, our Orange Friends Church family has been asking “Are we there yet?” with our building debt for several years now. We can finally turn to one another and say, “Yes, we are almost there!” We can feel the excitement building as we anticipate what God is going to do among us as we arrive at this long awaited destination. We have been on the road of paying off our mortgage for a very long time and it feels good to pull in the driveway of being a debt free church.

At the beginning of December we began a debt elimination campaign with a little under $25,000 remaining on our mortgage. As of today we have about $10,000 left to go! The over $15,000 that has come in so far has been given by only 15 families! Just imagine what we could do if every family at Orange Friends Church gave!  

Maybe you are newer to OFC and you were not able to be part of the building of the Family Life Center in 2001. God gave a vision (or destination) to our church at that time to reach out to the community by building a space for sports outreach, teen ministry and a clean and safe nursery for our preschool aged children. We now worship every Sunday in that same space. Whether you were here when our church family stepped out in faith to build, or whether you are newer and are enjoying the fruit of that vision, will you consider a generous gift to completely eliminate our debt on this building?

Once we arrive at this destination of being debt free as a church family, imagine what God wants to do with our ministries and work. I believe that this will mean that we are freed up financially to…
  • Impact the lives of children and their families through the "Next Generation" vision. This plan includes converting the Chapel (previous sanctuary) into effective children’s ministry space and hiring a Director of Children’s ministries in order to reach out to more families in our community.
  • Help hundreds of individuals and families to overcome addiction (CRACK House ministries), receive provision in the midst of homelessness and hunger (Faith Mission), and provide escape from human trafficking for young girls (Gracehaven ministry).
  • Provide food, shelter, clean water, education and other practical needs for those around the world who are in need.
  • Provide the necessary building and property improvements/maintenance so that our church property can continue to be a beacon of light for Jesus Christ in the surrounding community.  
Please consider participating in the debt elimination at Orange Friends Church. You can make a difference no matter what you are able to give. Be sure to send your gift marked for “debt elimination” to the church office (or place it in the offering plate) before December 31 to get the tax benefits for 2011 and to ensure that we are financially free for the 2012 ministry year.

As we arrive at our destination let’s celebrate and rejoice for God has been generous and has provided everything we need.
Pastor David

Friday, December 2, 2011

December Stress

December is one of the most stressful times of the year. OR does it have to be? About five years ago I asked a mentor of mine, who happened to be a worship director, how she made it through the Christmas season. I knew that she had three programs to plan, family to entertain and gifts to buy. She shared something with me that I will never forget – You can choose to be stressed out or to not. We are to live out everything we do as an act of worship bringing Glory to the Lord. How are we doing this if we are so stressed out during a time of Celebration in Him that we end up hating the season?

1 Peter 5:7 says
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”

Matthew 11:28 says
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”

I don’t think that a God of peace and comfort desires us to be upset and stressed out during a time of celebration. Now that I am in the shoes of my mentor and doing a million things at a time during this season, I need to hear this more than ever.

Join me in casting our cares on the Lord this season so we can focus on the celebration of Christ’s birth.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Absolute Commitment

This last weekend of football tested my “fanhood” and that of many others in Ohio. The Bengals lost by a touchdown and the Browns lost by a field goal. The Buckeyes lost by a blocked extra-point after what was to be the game winning touchdown in the 4th quarter. Tough times have driven away many “fans” over the years. But… tough times have also galvanized many other followers of their teams over the years.

Jesus states that many people will fall away from following Him when times get tough (Matthew 13:20-21; 24:9-11; 26:30-35). In fact, many who welcomed Him into Jerusalem shouting “Hosanna, in the Highest!” shouted “Crucify Him!” just a few days later (Matthew 21:1-11; 27:15-23).

Although we may stumble and fall at times we are challenged by Jesus to not be “fans” but to be disciples. “Disciple” literally means “follower”. Not in a casual sense but in a radical leave all, forsake all, transform all kind of way. In Luke chapter 14 you can find an almost unbelievable challenge towards being much more than a fan of Jesus. In this passage Jesus states that to be a true follower of His we must hate our family, consciously choose death row, and meticulously account for our personal assets and level of strength as indicators on whether to follow Him or not. In the economy of Jesus there is absolutely no room for partial commitment or fair-weather behavior. It is all or nothing.

This level of devotion is way beyond any other aspect of your life that may demand attention. Rather, every aspect of your life must be impacted by the demand for complete devotion to Jesus Christ.

Choose absolute commitment over fair-weather fanhood!

-Pastor David

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lame Excuses

“I am too busy”, “I have school work to do”, “The devil made me do it”, “It’s not my fault, my parents raised me that way”

Excuses are a fun way to let yourself off the hook for a certain behavior, action, or lack of action. I have my own laundry list of excuses I tell myself in order to make myself feel better about certain things. Not exercising that day (“I am just too tired and today is my day off”), sneaking in some chocolate in the middle of the day (“my friend didn’t give me these buckeyes for them to go to waste”) , rushing through my quiet time with the Lord…… the list goes on. I am not proud of these things, so I tell myself little excuses so I don’t feel the guilt of the transgression.

I was reminded in my quiet time today that I am not alone in this.

Read Genesis 3:12- Adam blames Eve for the sin of eating the fruit.
Exodus 32:24- Aaron uses an excuse for making an idol.
Exodus 4:10- Moses tells the Lord that He didn’t create him to be a good speaker.

The list goes on. It is so human for us to excuse ourselves from the temporary guilt of being honest with ourselves. We blame it on our heritage, our tiredness, or even on God.

The truth is that with God we can do all things. If He is in us, He is continuously renewing us and taking more of our fleshly excuses and making them into His strength. Though Him we have the strength to resist temptation, we have the strength to do things we never thought we could. So let’s start being honest with ourselves and honest with God.

Pray with me.

Father, I sometime like to lie to myself and to you by making excuses. No matter how big or how small they are God, I am sorry. Please help me to rely on your strength today. Help me to rely on your renewing of my mind. Continue making me more like your Son Jesus.

We pray in that Holy Name



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Absurd Commands of God

“The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” Psalm 19:8 (NLT)

Have you ever read something in the Bible and thought, “God wants me to do that!”? You know, the sudden discovery of a command that does not make sense to us because it seems so extreme, so outside of our experience, so absurd. For instance, we are asked in scripture to pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17), not to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6-8), hate your family (Luke 14:25-33), and love your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36). All of these seem… well… absurd! We don’t wish to be disrespectful or question God but some things we read in the Bible can be a bit uncomfortable at first glance.

Over the next several weeks we will explore just a few of these “uncomfortable” commands and, hopefully, find comfort in them. You see, His commands are meant to bring joy, not discouragement. They are to be clear, not muddy and confusing. God’s instruction and commands are meant to really help us have clarity for living this life the best we possibly can. But this takes some exploration of the meaning of these “absurd” commands and putting them into practice.

Here are a few suggestions as we go forward and as you seek God through His Word:

1) Seek clarity and understanding. The answers are available to those who seek diligently.

2) Seek His Truth through prayer. Tell Him when you are unclear. He won’t be mad for your questions.

3) Seek out community. For 2000 years Christianity has been lived out in a community called the church (not a building, but a people). Let’s explore, study, and seek the answers together.

May God bring joy to our hearts and insight for living as we fully seek and find Him in all His commands.

Pastor David

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sour Grapes

Have you ever woken up in the morning and just felt heavy? I have. I immediately go to the coffee maker or espresso maker and count on my caffeine in the morning to give my day a jolt. About an hour and a half later, I feel heavy again – sluggish and drained. I blame it on the weather, I blame it on my mood that day, then I blame it on my husband who probably did something wrong (I just can’t think of anything right now). My day continues with slow moving traffic and other small annoyances that seem a lot bigger than they actually are. What went wrong today? Did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

John 15:5-8

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

I woke up this morning and felt heavy. I opened my bible and read this scripture and Christ reminded me that He is with me. He desires to be in my day. In my small annoyances, in my conversations with my husband. I thank Him for the rain. I ask Him to be with me all day.

He agrees :)

What does it mean to bear fruit in your day? What are the benefits of starting your day connected to the Vine?

Father, Guide our days. Father, forgive us when we lose focus and try to do this life without you. Humble our hearts Lord and remind us that we are not alone and we cannot do this life alone. We love You.



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Getting Together

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47 (NLT)

The early Christians in the book of Acts made it a habit of gathering together. They would meet in the temple courts, in homes, as they were going about their business throughout the day, etc.,. There was a tremendous unity among them.

This is not to say they did not have their fair share of relational challenges and disagreements. Read on in the book of Acts and you will see clearly that not everyone got along all the time. This is the challenge of being together. As a wise person once said, “Where two or more are gathered… there will be a disagreement!”

What sets us apart as Christians is our firm conviction that God is in charge, that the Holy Spirit should be part of every relationship, and that Jesus modeled what healthy relationship should look like. This week meditate on the relationships that were formed in the early life of the church (Acts 2:42-47). What were there priorities? What drove them? Who was their focus?

This weekend we will celebrate together at OFC with our Annual Small Group kickoff Picnic. This all church event will be a great time to build relationships, have a good time with your church family, and possibly connect with a small group if you are not connected already.

I will be there. I hope you are as well!

Pastor David

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

James and Jesus

It is thought that James, the writer of the New Testament letter, was the brother of Jesus. Whether he was or not is uncertain but we know that his letter is amazingly similar to the direct teachings of Christ! Let’s look at how James' teachings were right in line with the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus gave and you can find in Matthew chapters 5-7:

Monday, July 25, 2011

Being Friends with Vision

Some folks have asked for the sermon notes from this last week. I preached a sermon based on the address that the General Superintendent of the Evangelical Friends Church- Eastern Region, Dr. John Williams, delivered to the Yearly Meeting delegates on July 18, 2011. If you were not at OFC on Sunday this is your opportunity to catch what you missed.

“Vision with action in the context of dependency on Christ brings about renewal”

Be part of something NEW!

A) We are New Creations in Christ- 2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

B) We have a New Command in Christ

John 13:34-35

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

C) We are Ministers of the New Covenant -2 Corinthians 3:6

D) All in the context of Romans 15:20-21

My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,

“Those who have never been told about him will see,
and those who have never heard of him will understand.”

Therefore, we should seek newness through:
1) The Local Church Body- “Each church should seek to launch 4 new fresh initiatives this next year”

a) For Orange Friends this means:

1. Next Generation Ministry- Children’s Ministry, becoming debt free, facility upkeep/stewardship

2. Parenting class in the Fall 2011, Capital campaign Fall 2011, FCA camp this week (July 25-28)

2) The Surrounding Community

(This is where missional living begins! “Everyday Christians being missionaries in their everyday lives” Matthew 28:18-20 “as you are going”)

a) See a Need, Fill a need!

b) Would you skip church to serve others? What about the entire congregation skipping church to serve others?

3) The Region in which you live and worship

a) Get involved with ministries like CRACK House ministriesLink

b) Partnership with Central Ohio Evangelical Friends Churches- Church planting! Let’s plant 10 churches by the year 2020!

4) Global missions

Know our specific mission field better- Evangelical Friends Missions International ( )

6 Focused Dreams for the EFC-ER

#1 That every church will be attractional and missional
#2 That every believer will be a contagious , spiritually transformed witness
#3 That every church will grow as a sending church- sending out pastors, missionaries, and disciple makers into the market place
#4 That our churches will multiply in people and ministry- engaging weekly 20,000 or more who love to worship, study, and serve (we presently have 16,000 in average attendance)
#5 That every church will grow in outreach giving - locally, regionally, globally- giving away a tithe or more of the local church income

This includes Great Commission Budget, mission fields, church plants (10 by 2020), youth/young adults

#6 That our EFC movement will be radically revived so that the "radical message of sin and grace and the cross will become more powerful and central"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yearly Meeting

Hebrews 12:1-3
“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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (NIV)

Yesterday, the worship team had the amazing opportunity to lead worship for the last session at Yearly Meeting. It was amazing to see so many people from so many different churches worshiping together. During the recording time of the service, the recorded pastors and Christian workers got together to sing in one unified choir the hymn “Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul”. What an amazing opportunity and example for us all. After all the business meetings, these leaders came together with one purpose – to Glorify The Living God! I was overwhelmed with joy and this verse came to mind.

The Message says “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

Over the course of church history there have been changes, countless times of struggle and victory. Over all of this has been and always will be a God who is in control, a faithful God who knows what race we are pressing through and sees the finish line. So today, take heart because even though the race is hard, the end result is worth it. And you are not alone. Let’s come together and consider what God is doing today.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Story to Tell

One of my favorite memories as a child was when my brothers and I were tucked in to bed each night and our father would read us a story. If there was a night he had forgotten we would quickly remind him and beg for another story to be read. We loved it so much we would ask for the same book to be read again and again until he finally would pronounce the end and the lights would go out. Even after the lights went out there was an ongoing story from that book that would continue to play in our young minds. Imagination would win over the moment and the story would take on new life.

We are all drawn to a good story. Our whole lives are spent in relating to one another as we string one story with another. Think about the last few times you had the opportunity just to visit with a friend. Was the conversation filled with story? What about around the water cooler at work or in between classes at school… are we filled with one story telling experience after another? We were created for the narrative of life!

The Bible is almost completely narrative. It is not only a grand story of God’s interacting with His creation but this greater narrative is made up of many personal, individual, and interesting stories of life. Each one represents real people in a real time with real hurts and pains and real blessings and victories. Each one speaks of God’s story in history.

You have a story. This story is not just a short boring tweet of how you ordered a latte at Starbucks or that you just ran 2 miles tracked by your Nike iPod sensor. It goes deeper than, “You’ll never guess what happened to me the other day!” Your story is the story of how God is seeking and experiencing you and how you are seeking and experiencing Him! Every day and in every way. Your narrative is God’s narrative. God’s narrative is your narrative.

With this being said… recognize, tell and celebrate the “God story” you possess. Recognize how He is present in all things. Tell others of His movement in your life. Celebrate before God that He is present. You have a story to tell that others need to hear. You have a God who loves you passionately that deserves the glory that telling your story brings Him.

What is your story? Who do you need to share your “God Story” with today?

-Pastor David

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dusty Shoes

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” - Acts 20:24

I started running again these last couple of weeks and I found out really quickly that I am nowhere close to where I used to be in endurance. I took a couple of the colder winter months off and now, running feels like a completely new activity to me. As I trudge on, I find my muscles fighting to find the place they used to be, my lungs aching to find the freedom they once knew, and worst of all, my brain trying to find the focus and endurance spirit it once knew!

It reminds me of sometimes when I get into a funk in my spiritual walk. If I take a break for even a day from my spiritual discipline and meeting with God, I find that the enemy will find any way to tear down my spiritual muscles and add on a layer of FAT! (Fat meaning junk that I just don’t need in my life – sin, depression, fear, etc.) IT’S TIME TO GET MY RUNNING SHOES OUT AGAIN!

Galatians 5

"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty."

Yeah he will!

And don’t forget we are not alone in this friends!!

Hebrews 12

"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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Pray with me.

Father, I want you. I want to fix my eyes on you. Father help me dust off my running shoes. Take away this layer of crud that is holding me down and help me to pursue a life worthy of the calling you have given me! AMEN

As you continue in this race I will be praying for you if you will pray for me.

Let me know how I can be praying for you today… Email me at

Want more information about how you can get connected with other racers? Visit us at

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Now?

Do you ever wonder what happened with the disciples after Jesus rose from the dead? Not right after the resurrection because we see that they interacted with the risen Christ in different ways and places (I Corinthians 15:3-7; Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24; John 20 & 21). Not 50 days later as Pentecost occured because we have that incredible and exciting story in Acts 2 (and the growth of the early church through the rest of the book of Acts). I mean with each man and women that just experienced following Jesus as teacher and leader and now having witnessed, experienced,.... and being thrown head-long into... the death and resurrection of Jesus!
What were they feeling as they went to bed at night? What were their emotions as they contemplated what it meant to "wait for the promise", "go into all the world", or "feed my sheep"?
Did Thomas have little doubts come up in this interim period between resurrection visits and Holy Spirit filling? Did Peter kick himself for denying Jesus with the benefit of hindsight? Did John build on a mother-in-law suite for Mary in obedience to Jesus request to care for His mother?
Have you had those moments where you have just experienced something incredible from God but you can't quite fully explain it? Have you just celebrated the risen savior but you find yourself back in your cubicle of life wondering how this all fits together?
Well, we have the benefit of the disciples hindsight. We know what happens as the story unfolds. Because we have this insight we can deal with the "day after" in victory. We have the benefit of knowing how to live this resurrected life that extends beyond an annual trek to church and family lunches and egg hunts.
Today, the day after "the big day", resolve to live the resurrected Christ through every thing you do and say. This is a commitment to living out Romans 10:9 "...confess with you mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved." This is not a single isolated event but an ongoing confessing from our mouth, an ongoing making Him Lord, an ongoing believing that God became man and died for our sins and has risen from the dead! This is Monday morning stuff!
What about you? do you have Easter Celebration hangover? Do you feel like you are in the "interim" between Resurrection and Pentecost? How do you confess and believe 24/7/365 rather than just once a year or even just on Sundays?

*A tool that may help you live this resurrected life are the daily devotions based on the Sermons at Orange Friends Church. You can find these at

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Am I Connected or Disconnected?

"No man is an Island".... how many times have you heard that?
Well, the truth in that statement hits home more times than not in our lives. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to launch out on my own to find that I really need people and, ultimately, I need God.
I cannot sing with Frank that "I did it my way!" and feel good about the results. I would rather chime in with "I did it with others" and "I did it God's way".
We were made for connecting with others and with God. We were given this "relationship gene" that drives us towards one another. We have a God shaped hole in our lives that only He can fill.
What about you? Have you experienced this longing for genuine and authentic relationships? Have you considered what it must be like to have a true relational connection with God that transcends "religious" activity or just being a "good" person?

Let me know what you are thinking.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

No Turning Back

Sticking by your choices can be a challenge. We all “waffle” in different decisions in life. Especially big choices like where to go out to eat when with your spouse. “Where do you want to go?” ,“Oh I don’t know where do you want to go?” , “No, really, where do you want to go?”, and on and on it goes. Well, actually, there are bigger choices.

There is a classic song, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”, that affirms a solid choice. This is the most important decision of your life. The chorus ends with “no turning back, no turning back”. Have you turned back? Either consciously or unconsciously. How have you stayed focused on the path ahead?

Consider a life of “no turning back”:

• Daily renew your path towards Jesus. This includes a deliberate conversation with God that says, “Today is Your day, Oh, God”

• Balance your time between other followers of Jesus and those who have yet to choose this path. Being around other disciples will help with encouragement and accountability. Being around those who are not yet will allow you to be salt and light like others were for you before you became a Christ follower.

• Restore your love for Scripture. If you never had a true love for scripture, plead with God until you get this passionate abandon for His Word.

• Worship daily. Fully engage in Corporate Worship. No turning back is the act of running to God even if you see things that will trip you up on the path. Run, and Run hard after Him in worship.

• Live as Jesus did. Love as Jesus does. Hope for things Jesus will do in the future.

What do you think? How do you follow Jesus with a “no turning back” attitude? What else would you add to the list above?

“No turning back” with you,

Pastor David

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are You Giving Your Best to God?

Romans 12:1 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." Malachi 1:8 "And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil?..."

What are we offering God today?

This verse struck me as I enter into my work exhausted. I woke up this morning with a headache and a back ache and an everything ache. I got my coffee and started the list-making in my head of everything that I needed to do. “OK, so eat breakfast, squeeze in God time, work out, lessons, more lessons, planning time, and if I have the energy at the end of the day, maybe I will stay awake long enough to do a little Bible reading.”

Does this sound familiar? And this is from a person without kids! I can’t imagine what the schedule of a working mom or dad looks like, (actually I can because I have friends who share), but today these verses struck me and I was convicted in my heart about my complaining. By dreading our day we are not giving God a worthy sacrifice. By complaining we are not worshiping in spirit and in truth with everything we do. Then what are we working for? Are we working for the treasures of this earth or are we working for a greater treasure in heaven?

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

We work for God. Not just me…. Not just the Pastor. YOU! We work for God as an act of worship. So offer God your pleasing sacrifice today.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring has....... uh, not quite

I was just enjoying the sunshine and mild "Spring is coming soon" kind of weather when all of the sudden I woke up this morning and see snow covering the ground! Don't get me wrong. I love Winter. I love snow. But I get to the point toward the end of each season where I get a little excited for the next one to come. For me, Ohio weather is perfect because each season is so distinguishable from the one before and the one following.

What other areas in my life do I "anticipate" something the way I do the seasons changing? Even bigger I suppose is the anticipation of new phases of my kids growing up... you know, first steps and first words turn into a drivers license, first dates, and graduation. I anticipated each date with my wife when we were first together and now I anticipate growing old side by side as we learn everyday what it means to be married to your best friend.

I would have to say that following Jesus is full of anticipation. I anticipate learning new things about Him, getting together with others to worship God, and what exactly life will be like after this present life is through. Following Jesus is not always a "bed of roses". Let's be honest that when we mess up we may have hard time "anticipating" God's reaction. Or when life has given us a raw deal and disappointment it is not exactly peaches and creme.

But if I were really honest, I would say that even with life's disappointments (self-inflicted and outside of my control) I anticipate the love and hope that Jesus has to offer in the midst of the valleys and the storms. It is this very attitude that helps keep me centered whether it is a "dark Winter" or a "fresh Spring" kind of day in my soul.

What about you? Do you anticipate spending time with God privately and publicly? What are the roadblocks to anticipation?

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Psalm 133

How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.

Unity- Agreement- Harmony- Accord- Unison- Union – Concord- Unanimity

One of the greatest things that God desires for His people is to live in peace and unity. He says that when there is unity in the church He WILL bestow His blessing in that place.

1 Corinthians 1:9-12

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."

I was researching how to accomplish such unity with a family of such different personalities, job areas, and goals in life. I came across a devotion by Joe Medway. (I can’t take credit for this)

Unity requires several things
= Humbleness and Humility; we have to walk in humility in our lives.

= Gentleness; enduring all things with an even temper, tender, free from naughty self-sufficiency, (meeting one’s own needs)
Tenderness of Spirit. We realize who God is. We can walk with meekness towards people if we have the heart of Christ.
The church cannot keep its unity if the heart of Christ is not living in the hearts of the people.

= To bear up, hold up, endure, bear with each other, forgiving one another.

= The uniting bond of perfectness. There can be no unity evidenced outside of love. Binds together; completeness has reached its full and intended end.

These are things I am trying to instill in my heart for my family, my marriage, and my church family. These are the things that will produce unity and spiritual growth.

Pray on these things and join us this Sunday morning at 10:45am for our ALL CHURCH WORSHIP!

-Sierra Stephanoff

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Facebook Parenting

It can be very interesting to throw out a random question to people to hear their responses. Some answers make us laugh, some make us think, and some answers may raise our blood pressure a bit!

I asked my Facebook friends a pointed question last week and here are some of the responses:

What has been the most effective parenting tool you have used? Or that your parents used with you?

Following through with punishments! -Kathy

To some degree I'll agree w/ Kathy and additionally; admitting to your child when you goofed and asking for forgiveness. -Bruce

errr....I guess I should have said discipline instead of punishments....punishments sounds kinda harsh....but tomato/tomatoe. lol :) But also following through with promises and rewards! :)

The "rod" ;) Truthfully, open communication and leading by example has been the mainstay for us. Kids will outgrow our "authority", but the influence we have on their lives can last a lifetime if we live worthy of their honor and respect. PRAYER is the foundation, and loving Jesus and living openhandedly with each other is key.

When my parents failed me, it mattered that I knew they loved me. So, expressing love is very important. -Kim

When they are little: obedience, as they grow older: obedience + dialogue...I'm assuming as they grow through HS, there will be lots and lots more dialogue! -Chris

Don’t coddle and tell your kids every time they do something that it’s great, be truthful about it. If they stink at something let em know. U won’t be doing them any favors by always tellin them how great they are if they’re not.

Eat broccoli. Go on long ride. Lock windows. Problem solved.

Working on having an honest and truthful relationship. Sometimes that gains the most respect, and if you are honest with your kids- they will learn that it is ok to be honest with you. Then the trust issue simply follows......

Wait till your father gets home?

LOL to "wait till your father gets home"!! I must of heard that one a zillion times growing must have worked, cuz I turned out ok: P -Kathy

Sounds like a good title for a sermon too . . . -Nancy

I'm not a parent, but I work with kids and teens so I see the goods and bads of parenting. The best that I can come up with is to be the parent. Parents are the one that make the rules, not the kids. Parents are the ones that are there to train and guide their children. Don't think that teachers and church volunteers/workers are the ones in charge of that, they are just there to reiterate the teachings from home. I hope that makes sense! Also open communication is huge tool! "I don't know," "I don't care," & "Because I said so" are not answers to all of life's issues.

"Praying with & for them & allowing them to hear that. Moms In Touch was very instrumental in our lives in their growing up years. Holding to your godly standards, not Hollywood's (i.e., movie ratings), how they dress & talk.....No compromise!"

Love em even when you don't want to, that's why love is such a precious gift -Alex

Both parents working as a team to raise up their children. It doesn't work very well when one is the parent and one is the buddy! -Ina Jean

What about you? What do you think is effective parenting?

What has God said in His Word to help us with this area of our lives?

Have a great week,
Pastor David

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Surprise Invitation

Worship had just ended and Wendy came directly for us. She put out her hand and introduced herself and her husband. As we had typical introductory words she asked something that I really did not expect. Wendy said, “Have you guys been invited to a small group yet? Would you come to ours?” It was our first Sunday at this church!

Theresa and I have visited many churches over the years. Mostly when on vacation but this time we were visiting churches after moving to a new area because of work. I was not the pastor at a church but we were looking to be regular attendees. That morning we decided that this was the church for us! Of all the churches we explored, most were similar in many ways but this church was set apart. This one was different because Wendy and her husband David saw a new family and did not hesitate to extend an invitation to a small group that was a very important part of their own lives.

Good small group life has that effect on people. Good small group life is about worship and applying the Bible to everyday life but the most important component are relationships! Healthy relationships invite authentic worship of God because inhibitions can be set aside in the midst of caring friends. Healthy relationships encourage growth in the Word of God due to accountability, grace-filled connections and mutual love for one another.

We ended up attending David and Wendy’s small group. We formed strong relationships that are still evident today. We shared life together. Interestingly enough, we found that the DNA of that church was to value small group life. It showed through people like Dave and Wendy who invited freely and often to their small group. It is no wonder that there were many new groups formed in this church because of this grow and multiply mentality.

What about you? Are you engaged in a small group? Are you crossing the sanctuary to invite that new person to something that is a very important part of your life?

-Pastor David

Thursday, January 6, 2011

There is So Much More!

Last night I had a dream. The only part of it I remembered was a young child walking up to me and asking “Miss Sierra, Can I show you something?” The child took out five marbles and counted then one by one, then stood back with an accomplished look. I clapped my hands and said “that’s awesome; now let me show you something, there is so much more!”

I woke up and had a moment where I couldn’t just let it go. Was God speaking to me? The answer was yes as my mind started to race. I remembered all the things He has taken us as a church through in the past year; the plays, the move from the Chapel to the Worship Center, the worship, the testimonies, and the Word. I felt pretty good knowing how God has transformed lives and we got to be a part of it. But, then I heard in a clear voice (in my head of course, otherwise I would have been a little freaked out.) “That’s awesome; now let me show you something, THERE IS SO MUCH MORE!”

Mark 10:13-15
The Little Children and Jesus

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Quiet your mind and think about how a little child would learn. Sitting at their parent or teacher’s feet like a sponge, taking in as much information as they can. Now think about how big God is and how small we are. How can we not humble ourselves and sit at the Master’s feet and soak in any information we can. Sometimes we are tempted to stand back feeling accomplished and stop looking for new information. This year let’s make it a point everyday to listen to the voice of God who IS speaking saying, “NOW let me show you something, THERE IS SO MUCH MORE!”