Come to the Table Hungry

Table hungry
I plan a year in advance for my preaching calendar.
Every October, I spend some time praying for the following year, gathering resources, and going through several messages I’ve written but haven’t preached. I also consider the state of our church and community and what God may be wanting to speak through me from His word to them. I take this burden to preach very serious.

I view preaching as application driven by nature. Preaching is intended to be far more than imparting knowledge. It’s suppose to be a catalyst for personal growth, transformation, new perspectives, and changed behaviors.

Along those lines, I’ve been preparing and studying for the next series coming this Sunday to LifeCity Church, and it’s going to be full of great content. Few subjects drive me to study the texts of Scripture more than the doctrine of the “End Times.” This subject, especially when approached from the Bible, is often met with fear and confusion. People are confused, scared or both when it comes to trying to grasp the actual meanings of the Bible when it comes to the things that are still to come.

Add to that several B-movies, and TV series that make the end of the world as we know seem more like a really poorly produced work of fiction, and the seriousness of the Bible often gets lost all together.

But I find that this is a subject that many are hungry to learn. People want answers. They want to understand the truth of what is to come, and how the Bible can help us grasp it.

What I’m trying to tell you, church, is that this is a series I’ve studied since I was old enough to read the Bible, I’ve been preparing this series since last October, it’s going to be very deep, and it begins this Sunday…

So come to the table hungry. Bring your Bible (or the free Bible app) and a notepad, lean in, listen, and write stuff down. This is going to be good – not because I’m teaching it, but because the content is so rich.

I can’t wait to share with you!

Blessings,
Pastor John

Commitment Covenant

CommitmentDuring our I Love My Church! series, I’ve challenged our people to sign a commitment covenant. Other churches have similar documents, and the point is simply for everyone who calls LifeCity their church home to know what that actually means. I’ve decided to share the content of that here on my blog:

Believing that God has brought me to this body of believers for this time and purpose, and having decided to follow Jesus wherever He may lead me, I commit to CONNECT with this church family for worship together, GROW in relationships and discipleship through a LifeGroup, SERVE in a ministry team to better and broaden the reach of our church, and GO to others with the invitation to find and follow Jesus. 

I will pray for my church to grow ever closer in our walk with God, my pastor and his family to lead with confidence and integrity, and my community to see Jesus in me.

I believe God has called us to a future together, and that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Trusting God’s calling, I commit to being part of what He is doing to work through LifeCity to that future. 

This is my commitment. And I believe the best is yet to come!

Many have signed the covenant already and next Sunday is the last Sunday of our ILMC series. God has already used this in profound ways to connect our church together over our mission. This Sunday’s message will be available online soon, and is the heart behind the whole series. To all our LifeCity peeps, it’s a joy and honor to be your pastor! Thank you for uniting with us to see many people fully experience life in Christ.

Blessings,
Pastor John

They were People

PeopleI’ve deliberately taken my time responding to the Orlando attack this past Sunday. Perhaps that was a mistake – people need leaders to be quick to speak truth and call out wrong, and speak up to our collective potential. And in the absence of me saying anything, plenty of others did and do continue to fill the airwaves and social media with their condolences, political opinions, and even accusations and rants. So I will respond to this whole thing by briefly addressing the handful of issues that have come up from this.

  1. Gays. I’m sorry that this happened, and that it was targeted toward people based on their sexual orientation. I’m even more sorry that a very small number of people claiming to be Christian are celebrating the fact that this happened at a gay nightclub. I openly condemn their evil, malicious hatred as anti-Christian, anti-Biblical, and anti-Christ, and I share no part of them.
  2. Islam. A radical Muslim hell-bent on taking American lives was to blame for this. On behalf of all of my Muslim friends and neighbors who have had meals with me and my family, and even visited our church and Bible studies… I’m sorry that someone of your faith killed innocent people. You are not guilty by association any more than I am with the previously mentioned “Christians.” Islamic terrorism is a problem, and I’m grateful that several of you have directly agreed with that. If it were “Christians” shooting up bars, streets, and shopping centers I would call it “Christian” terrorism and condemn those who did it as not Christian at all.
  3. Gun control. I am 100% committed to the 2nd Amendment. And not for hunting purposes… The 2nd Amendment was specifically intended to give the government pause before attempting to strip it’s citizens of their rights. The 2nd Amendment also includes the right to form and maintain militia… those are citizen-run military units. We’re not just talking about hunting, home security, or recreational target shooting. We’re talking about keeping the country under state/citizen control, versus federal control. But we also must take long hard looks at how easy it is for a terrorist to acquire the tools – in this case guns – to attack our nation with. I’m for gun rights. I was raised to believe that “gun control” meant being sure of your target before squeezing. But if there are ways to maintain our 2nd Amendment rights, while making it more difficult for terrorists to gain access to them, we should be willing to have those conversations. And it’s not anti-American to do so.
  4. People. Ok, so this last one is not talked about as much this week which is why I’m talking about it and titling this post after it. As humans, we like labels. Yes, they form stereotypes that are often false, but they also help us understand how things are in relation to us. So it was a “Muslim” who shot and killed “gays”. And this allows us to vomit opinions about Muslims, guns, and the LGBT. But for just a second, can we fall back to the big picture? It was a man… a person. Who walked into a night club to shoot and successfully kill 49 other people. It was people – by the hundreds – who formed lines wrapping around blood donation centers in Orlando to help other people they had never met. Those people – like each person reading this post – had lives, hopes, merits, regrets, and aspirations. They had friends. Families. Forget your opinion for just a second about what you think regarding someone’s lifestyle, politics, or firearms… That could have been your family member. For 49 families, it was.  For just a minute, stop the “yeah, but…” rhetoric and watch this video…

May God bless and watch over Orlando in this time of pain and anger. May many find hope and healing in Christ despite this tragedy. And may the local churches in the area lead the charge for doing so.

You may now return to your political opinions and rants.

Blessings,
Pastor John

PS… If you have friends in the Orlando area looking for a good church family to lean on, here are a few to point them toward:

Hope Church
Cornerstone Church
World Changing Church
Crosspointe Church