Thoughts from the weekend:
Wonderful, powerful weekend.
Yesterday morning was exciting as we baptized 9 people in water. They were of different ages, different backgrounds, even different ethnic backgrounds.
I was pleased as the "pillars" of our church were sitting during the service, eyes filled with excitement (in some cases - tears) hands raised in praise and adoration to God. We all clapped for those who had come to Christ in the last few months.
Then - four people came forward to "accept Christ", or to connect with Christ by saying a prayer of forgiveness and then be prayed for.
It was a Sunday that we will look back as a continuation of the momentum that we are feeling here at our church.
It was a Sunday that you wish everyone was there - to experience God and see what God is doing in our midst.
Last Friday, I have the privilege of leading and speaking at the funeral of Luz Perez. She died of cancer last week at the age of 47. As her friends and family shared and sang, we all laughed and cried.
I spoke and asked people to accept Christ. Many raised their hands, saying "I would like to give my life to Christ."
What's ironic is that Luz died last Monday. Her granddaughter was born the next day, on a Tuesday.
As people passed by the casket at the end of the service, I held little Julianna in my arms. People had a visual that, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away."
There has to be something significant about the timing of Luz passing and the birth of Julianna - I don't know what it is - but God knows.
I shared, "the Lord gives and the Lord takes away - but at the end of the day we say: Blessed be the name of the Lord."
I don't know if I have ever met two people so solidly grounded in their faith as Luz mom and dad: Jose and Maria (they are members of our church). Throughout the whole process, their faith in God has remained strong.
It's encouraging to me to see Christians living out their faith and trust in God.
Then, Friday evening, and Saturday morning, we had our life group leadership seminar.
What was cool was that I have read and functioned in ministry in small groups - but learned a lot this weekend.
Let me give you some of what we shared (we are now going from 10 life groups to around 17 or 18 life groups in our church this fall).
Dave Treat (our speaker) asked, "How much of New testament life can you do ONLY in a small group?" We found out that most of what we experience in Christ can only be done in community - in communities such as in a small group.
Dave shared that he had grown up in the church, under the model of receiving teaching during Sunday School, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service and Wednesday evening Bible Study.
Two challenging aspects to this model:
You find yourself running on four different tracts concerning your walk with Christ.
You don't have time to live out your faith.
That is so true. Under the previous model, we take in, we take in, we take in, we accumulate all this knowledge, but we ever find ourselves in situations to where we can live out that faith, especially as it relates to those around us.
A busy Christian is not necessarily a growing Christian.
That is so true. I find myself concerned, prayerfully concerned about people in our church who are so wrapped up in a ministry that they don't have time for even a Sunday morning service. In the end, they find themselves spiritually dry.
They find themselves missing out on church family relationships. Every ministry is important, but not at the expense of relating to the body of Christ as a whole here at Stone Church.
Paul writes in Galatians 6:2, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will full the law of Christ." How can I "carry your burden" if I am looking at the back of your head four times a week?
The basis of small groups is to know and be known, to serve and be served, to love and be loved, to celebrate and be celebrated.
This takes time. This takes relationship. It's hard to understand someones pain, even in the prayer circles we have on a Sunday morning.
Here's the deal: WE ARE TO LIVE OUT OUR FAITH AS WELL AS LEARN ABOUT THE FAITH.
More to come tomorrow.
That time you got Joe Jonas a date.
11 hours ago