Make the Connection

You can read the Bible and come to the idea that God is not thinking so much about His found kids as He is distracted by His lost kids. 

In the Gospel of Luke chapter 15 Jesus tells stories about lost things: a lost coin, a lost sheep, and a lost son. All three times the story ends the same say. He leaves the one He has found to find the one that’s lost. That’s how He feels! 

If you have ever lost something, you understand this. If you are a parent, have you ever lost a child? You are in the mall with your kids, you turn around and one is gone. This happened to us once. We freaked out! It turned out that our little daughter was hiding among some dresses in the dress racks, but for a few minutes there we were so concerned and our entire focus was on finding her – NOW! 

I believe this is a window into how God feels. When people don’t know Him, something that He loves is lost and missing. He made it very clear in Scripture that He wants those who are already following Him to reach out for His lost kids. He says if we do, He will be with us always (Matthew 28:19,20). 

If you have four kids and you lose one, do you think, “No problem! I’ve got three more!” I don’t think so! What if one of the remaining kids comes to you complaining about not having dinner yet, or wanting ice cream, or to go to the toy store, when you’re still looking for your lost child? 

Think of how our prayers must sound to God sometimes. Are we praying for His lost kids to be found? Are we involved in helping Him to find them? Or are we only concerned for the things we desire? 

Since bringing people who are far from God to come to know Him is the priority reason why Jesus came and was brutally mutilated and crucified on a cross, it must be the priority of the church. 

Once we connect with people in this way, we need to get them connected with others that will strengthen their lives as they follow Christ. In these relationships people can connect with others, protect each other, and grow together. 

I encourage you to listen to “Make the Connection” here: 

https://www.newlife4kokomo.org/sermons-2/



There is a Word we all need to know!

In the 1977 Science Fiction movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” – (I don’t believe in life on other planets – I’m just entertained by Science Fiction) – at the end of the movie the aliens try to communicate with people for the first time using musical tones – then they move to sign language.

 

The first time you go to another country, experience another culture, or meet some who has moved here from another culture, in that first close encounter there are often issues of language.

Here’s some good news – there is an old Word that is just as good as it ever has been! This old Word can become your new Word if you have never heard it before! Or, if you once knew this Word and have forgotten it – you can remember it – get back to it – and it can be a fresh Word for you in this New Year!

There is a Word that we all need to know – and we are going to talk about that Sunday!  

Join us Sunday for Worship and the Word – these are our priorities! 

And … if you missed our message from December 27 titled, “New Life … Loving, Serving, Speaking Truth” – please take time to listen to it here – 

https://www.newlife4kokomo.org/sermons-2/

That was an important message for the life, direction and purpose for our church family!  



How’s Your Love Life?

Do you remember an old toothpaste commercial where they would ask, “How’s your love life?” Of course, if you just used their toothpaste, your love life was supposed to get a whole lot better! 
 
How are we loving others? I’ve been reading this biography of Rich Mullins – the composer of “Our God is an Awesome God” among many other great songs. In part of the book he is quoted as saying, “…we ‘love’ as long as we see ‘results.’ We give of ourselves as long as our investments pay off, but if the ones we love do not respond, we tend to despair and blame ourselves and even resent those we pretend to love.” 
 
That was a little bit convicting for me! I know we have to do the best we can as far as sowing good seed in good soil, but that does not discount the fact that we need to continue to love everyone, and show love to everyone, regardless of how they respond to us. 
 
If you are a leader in any way, it’s easy to stop loving when we think our ministry is not getting results. 
 
There’s more to this – take a few moments to watch this week’s video encouragement – click here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIT3EB3n0D0
 
Sharon and I love you! We consider it an honor to love our church family and to love our community! 


Christmas … Why?

Christmas Welcome
 
I hope you’ll join us Sunday and bring a friend as we continue to celebrate one of the greatest events in all of history!  What part of the story stands out to you? Angels? Manger? Animals in the stable? No room in the inn? Shepherds? Wise men? Herod? Prophecies? So many aspects to the story.

 W are told the story of Jesus in the New Testament by 4 different men – Sunday we’ll explore what each of them tell us about WHY Jesus came!  

Merry Christmas! 



Living Simply and in Humility

I pray that you will experience great blessings from the Lord and a sense of His presence in your home and family over these next couple of weeks as we celebrate the coming of God to us in Jesus Christ. How blessed we are! 
 
Think of how Jesus humbled Himself to come to us. He was God, in heaven, ruling over all and owning everything, to “condescend” – come down to us in the lowliest human form – as a baby, totally dependent on other human beings for His care and nurture …. to live among us and ultimately be killed by us, our sin.  
 
That kind of humility is the standard for us. Pride certainly will destroy us. We are nothing without Him. 
 
Even when we realize that God is using us to make a difference in other people’s live, we must remember that we can accomplish nothing without Him. He truly does deserve all the credit and all the glory for anything good that happens. 
 
I encourage you to click on the link and watch the video. In it I discuss more from the biography of Rich Mullin’s life and how he attempted to live in simplicity and humility. I pray it will be an encouragement to you.  
 
Blessings and Merry Christmas!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewGtF6Ttde8


Bound to Come Some Trouble

Recently, I’ve been reading a devotional biography about Rich Mullins. This morning I shared with our staff some quotes and highlights from a chapter on difficulty and struggle. Who does not face struggles … in our personal situations, families, even in our ministry? There is bound to come some trouble!  
 
C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 
 
​When we are going through difficulty, are we listening for what God might be saying to us through the pain? Is the problem somehow a message from God for us to make a change of course? Or, is the problem from the enemy and through it we are encouraged to persevere? This is where we need the discernment of the Holy Spirit. 
 
Here’s another quote that may require some pondering: “Do not set your heart on temporal rewards. If it were good to do so, Jesus would have thus set his heart on them. Do nor fear insults, crosses and death; for if they did man harm, the humanity which God’s Son assumed would not have endured them.” ​- Saint Augustine
 
In other words, attackers may be able to harm our body or our reputation in this world, but they can never harm what really matters – our soul – for that is eternal. In that light, it is impossible for us to be harmed. 
 
To view and hear more on this, you can view our devotion from our staff meeting this morning here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWjUi18VMug


The Importance of the Church

Recently I’ve been reading “An Arrow Pointing to Heaven” – a devotional biography of the life of Rich Mullins – singer/songwriter known for “Our God is an Awesome God” among many other great songs. Let me share with you just a couple of quotes to encourage you of the important place God intends for the Church to hold in our lives: 
 
Rich Mullins: “I hear people say, ‘Why do you want to go to church? They are all just hypocrites.’ I never understood why going to church made you a hypocrite because nobody goes to church because they’re perfect. If you’ve got it all together, you don’t need to go. You can go jogging with all the other perfect people on Sunday morning. Every time you go to church, you’re confessing again to yourself, to your family, to the people you pass on the way there, to the people who will greet you there, that you don’t have it all together, and that you need their support. You need their direction. You need some accountability, you need some help.” 
 
Saint Augustine said, “He cannot have God for his Father who refuses to have the Church for his Mother.” 
 
Rich Mullins commented on this: “When I go to church, … I involve myself in something that identifies me with Augustine, that identifies me with Christ, that identifies me with nearly 2000 years of people who have come together once a week and said, ‘Let’s go to the Lord’s table and enjoy the feast that He has prepared for us.’ In that week I may have been subjected to a million billboards that try to make me identify with the thinking of contemporary society.  But once a week I go back to church, and acknowledge that though the shape of the world is really different now than it used to be, this remains the same: I still come to the Lord’s table and say, ‘Oh God, it if weren’t for your grace, if it weren’t for the sacrifice of Christ, my life would have no meaning, no life would have real substance.’ And I do that voluntarily.” 
 
I have shared more on this via an 8 1/2 minute video you can watch here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D63ZBuI1kOs
 
It will be encouraging to you – and you can share the link on your facebook & twitter accounts. 
 
Never underestimate the importance of His Church and our need to be a faithful, connected part of it!  


The Power of Influence

Two passages of Scripture stood out to me in my personal devotional time yesterday morning: Ezekiel 33:1-20 & Hebrews 13.  
 
Ezekiel reminds us that we have a grave responsibility to tell people the truth. If people are on the wrong path, and we don’t warn them, their “blood” is on our hands. In other words, we bear a responsibility for their ultimate judgment if we had the opportunity to share the truth and did not. We know that we must always be sharing this truth in love. Our goal is to speak the truth not in a condemning way, but in a hopeful way. Everyone influences others in some way. As you influence others, stay positive, always letting people know of the goodness of God and what He has promised for those who love Him! 
 
In Hebrews 13 the writer talks about how much we should be loving one another, and showing that love to one another. Let’s continue to keep an awareness of our goal to show our love to one another and to all the Lord sends our way (we have had a LOT of Sunday guests recently – are you looking for new people and showing them welcoming love?). 
 
The writer to the Hebrews also says this: “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.”
 
Wow. Like Ezekiel, that’s a heavy responsibility but also a great opportunity. I believe each of us is influencing people to a much greater degree than we are ever aware of. Influence others as mentioned above – one that those you lead can pattern their lives after – because they will – they are. 
 
In addition to this blog I will be sharing thoughts on Periscope & YouTube. Periscope is a new video app for your smartphones. Download the free app to your smartphone – follow me on Periscope @CRBlankenship – or subscribe to my Youtube Channel. You can be notified when a post is up and it will be on Periscope, Twitter & my facebook page for 24 hours. The YouTube posts will stay up longer. Here’s a sample: 
 


Experiencing Grace – I Am Third

We’ve been talking this fall about How God Changes Everything. We’ve talked about where we were in our brokenness. We’ve talked about the transforming power of God and how we still sometimes struggle with anger, abuse, lust, fear, and anxiety. 
 
Beginning this Sunday we are going to begin to talk about the FRUIT that comes in our lives as God works His grace in us. Our message this Sunday is “Experiencing Grace”. I certainly hope you’ll join us. 
 
And I hope you’ll come with a heart desiring to worship. What attitude will I come with this Sunday? Will I come determined to worship God no matter what may try to distract me? Will I be determined to worship God even if everything seems to fall apart in my life between now and then? Will I come to offer God a sacrifice of worship and praise, or will I come looking for everyone and everything about the service to be suited to my own desires? 
 
I can’t come to God in selfishness and worship at the same time. Worship is not about me. It’s not about what I want. It’s about what I can give. 
 
And … what about those God will send to us this weekend who don’t know Him? Will my attitude as I come bring them closer to Jesus? 
 
You may remember the old movie, “Brian’s Song” about Chicago Bears running backs Gale Sayers & Brian Piccolo. Brian died of cancer and the story is about the relationship between these two competitors of different races in the turbulent ’60’s. The movie is a tear-jerker. It is based on Gale Sayers book, “I Am Third.” The meaning behind that title is, “God is first, others second, I am third.” 
 
That should be the order of our hearts as we come in worship: God is first – He is to be worshiped. Others are second. What do others need? What do the lost need? What does the next generation that we are to be pouring our lives into need? And finally, I am third. I don’t come to have others serve me. My worship is not about making sure everything caters to my preferences and desires. If that enters into it at all, then it is not even worship when my preferences are met – because then it is still all about me.  
 
So – I hope to see you Sunday. We’ll talk about grace – God’s grace to us – the grace we need to show to one another. And I will remember that I am third.


Nothing Should Hinder My Worship

I will worship God today. My worship is not dependent on anyone or anything else. It is my decision and an act of my will. It is not dependent on whether the music is loud or soft or non-existent. It is not dependent on whether the songs are old or new. It is not dependent on whether the singers and musicians are extremely talented or if they completely stink up the joint! My worship is not dependent on whether or not the screen images get changed on time. My worship is not dependent on whether the sound system works perfectly or whether it completely blows out. I will worship God today. My worship is not dependent on whether the preacher is great or if he totally bombs. My worship is not dependent on whether I think the leaders ask for my money a little too strongly. My worship is not dependent on whether or not my best friend shows up, whether my kids behave or not, or whether I have to leave the service to change diapers or to get my kid to stop fighting somewhere else in the building. I will worship God today. My worship is not dependent on whether or not my special ministry got a big enough announcement. My worship is not dependent on whether or not someone shook my hand or looked at me in a certain way. I will worship God today. It is my decision. “I will praise the Lord,” David said. It is an act of my will. David worshiped while running from enemies who wanted to kill him. Paul & Silas worshiped after being beaten bloody, put in stocks and their whole bodies were screaming out in pain.

I will worship God today because He is great and I am not. I will worship God today because yes, it is my duty. I will worship God today because He is great and He has done great things for me that I am totally unworthy of. Who am I to ask Him to cater to me? He has already done that by sending Jesus to die on the cross. So, it doesn’t matter what happens today or who does what or where they do it or when they do it or how they do it. My worship is dependent on no one else but me, and my response to the greatness of God.

I will let no one nor nothing stop me… will you join me?