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Friday, March 27, 2015

God comes through on His promises


I believe you would agree with me that the greatest man to ever live was Jesus.  His plan given to Him by His father was to let the entire world know of His love.

2 Peter 3:9  NASB
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

The promises of God are things we have to hold on to each and every day.  If we take some time to look through God’s promises to us, we will find that they all have come true.  That means that the promises we are still looking for will come true as well.

John 3:17  NASB
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

That same journey to examine the promises will lead us to see that the best gift and best promise of God is complete in His son.  There is a thread of God’s grace all the way from Genesis to Revelation, and that grace is embodied in the person of Jesus.

Jesus came to save the world.  He isn’t our judge, although when He is judging it is clear.  He isn’t our king alone, but He is the king above all kings.  He is the forgiveness of God from the start to the finish of Jesus’s life.

Promises laced Jesus’ life.  From the promise of a virgin, miracle birth all the way to the resurrection and His coming again we can and must claim the continued promises of God.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

We are about 10 days till Easter.  This Sunday is what we traditionally call “palm Sunday” that commemorates the entrance of Jesus in Jerusalem when it seemed all the town came out to praise Jesus.  It was only a few days later that Jesus was nailed to the cross for our sin, His death for our life, God’s grace coming for our forgiveness and peace.

“God was well-pleased” to have Jesus be the sacrifice.  Wrong calls for something right to happen.  Sin has to be dealt with.  Jesus is the promise of God to all who will call on Him.

God chose Jesus to be the sacrifice for sin and the savior of the world, but God chose our sharing of His story to be the way that people would come to know Him.  Those two things, Jesus’ sacrifice and our sharing, are eternally linked to the life change that continues to happen in this world.

May we prepare to celebrate Jesus this Easter.  Spend some time in the next week to read the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Think about His life that was exchanged for ours and how we would be doomed without the promises of God that are highlighted for us on Easter!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

sharing Jesus with others


Luke 14:23  NLT
So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.

Twice each year the world descends on our community as the NASCAR world comes to town for racing at Martinsville Speedway.  Thousands of people from the racing community as well as race fans come to town for a few days, and this provides an opportunity to talk with people about Jesus.

That is why for the last 28 races, 14 years, I have chosen to be part of Raceway Ministries Martinsville where we offer worship services, free refreshments and serve disabled fans through the use of passenger golf cart rides.  All this takes place so that we can be ambassadors of Christ.

To urge people to meet Jesus isn’t an option, it’s an obligation.  To share Christ with people and invite people to meet him is a responsibility, and it is also an opportunity to help people change their lives forever.

God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Before we invited anyone to meet Jesus He invited us to meet Him, to have our sins forgiven and our lives changed forever.  I have found this to be reality, and I have met thousands of people through the years that have trusted Jesus and began to help others along their journey.

Helping others opens doors to talk or share a conversation.  When we realize that life is meant to be lived with purpose, we will make sure our lives count.  I want my life to count.

John 1:12  NLT
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Take this as a reminder.  Far too many people, good people, get caught up in the busyness of life and miss telling others how sweet it is to know Jesus and to find purpose and strength.

Our church exists to share Christ with people and to give God glory.  We love to serve people, but it is also easy to simply meet needs without sharing Jesus with the people we help.  We cannot let that happen.

May our lives count as we share our savior with others!


NOTE: Thank you to all who prayed for my mom.  Her surgery went well yesterday, and she will have surgery again in a few weeks.  Now she will move to a rehab center in Tulsa, Oklahoma 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

help homeless friends in Martinsville and Henry County

friends of the homeless in Martinsville and Henry County!

A few months ago we registered with KROGER for their rewards program.  This morning we received notice that 16 families used their rewards cards for us, and in turn we will receive a check for over $100.  That allows us to serve more homeless friends.  This is a WIN for sure.  

Therefore, I ask you to post this information (or share it however you can).  Simple go to www.krogercommunityrewards.com and register your rewards card by choosing The Community Dream Center.  It is a simple way to get resources to help those we want to make a difference with.

Also next Tuesday, March 31st at 7pm at the Martinsville Salvation Army there will be a celebration banquet for the success of the Martinsville Winter / warming Shelter.  You are invited to attend if you took part in this effort, but we need you to RSVP if you haven't already.  Let me know.  Continue to pray for a permanent homeless shelter for men and families in our area.  I believe this will happen.

Have a great day and thank you for your help in serving the homeless in our community!


-- James 1:5

things I like


So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.

Today’s post is a bit more personal in nature than most.  Just feeling like I need to share some of the things that are on my mind.  Thanks for reading, and I pray you will be encouraged a little.

There are lots of things I like, and this week affords me the opportunity to enjoy them.  As I share a few of them with you I do so to remind you that life is meant to be enjoyed, fun and to have purpose.

I like spring.  Seems like just a couple weeks ago we were shoveling snow and stayed all bundled up due to the extremely cold weather.  I do like snow and winter, but the joys of spring are happening.  A couple times in the past few days I have been able to roll down the windows of the truck and take a drive.  Yesterday I noticed some flowers growing along the side of the road.

I like Raceway Ministries.  This is the week that the world, at least the world of NASCAR, comes to our town.  Our group gets to share worship services, give away refreshments and serve race fans.  These conversations are all over the place, but several times I get to talk about Jesus and new life.  We meet lots of cool people from all over the place.  I believe this is a place where Jesus would be sharing lots of fun and purpose.

I like helping hurting people.  I heard a pastor say several years ago that “ministry is messy, and if you aren’t getting your hands dirty, you aren’t doing ministry”.  That is a point I highly agree with, and the last two days have brought some conversations about pain, truth and huge needs.  I am praying that some of these people allow God to radically change their lives.

I like my family.  No, I love my family.  Those drives in the spring with the windows down have been enjoyed with some of my closest family members.  We live a long way from my parents and my wife’s parents.  We miss them very much especially when something happens like early this week when my mom broke her ankle and is now in the hospital over 1,000 miles away.  Reminds me that I really love my family.

There are lots of more things I like.  Barbeque.  Donuts.  Cool movies.  Testimonies about God’s work.  The beach.  Beautiful countryside.  I like lots of things, and all of them are gifts from God.

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

I thank God for His gifts, but there are times you have to acknowledge the fact that there are lots of things that I do not like.  Some of those things make me real mad. 

I hate pain.  I hate the fact that hurting people are often so blind to the ways and the goodness of God. 

What I know about the things I hate is that God uses all things to remind me and all of us that He is God.  I need that.  How about you?

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

adventure awaits


Several times in the past few weeks I have ended up in conversations that included Mark Batterson’s book In A Pit With A Lion On The Snowy Day.  Right after the start of The Community Fellowship this book made its way in to our lives and was consumed by our leaders.  That’s why I share this post (though it is almost 8 years old).  It rings true in my mind… read on!

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Push me. Drive me. Give me something to live for.

That is what lots of church people expect from their leaders. Yet God has not called your church or mine to meet all the needs and not even to feed you spiritual. God calls us to help people learn to eat spiritually, to love God and to chase after Him.

I continue to be greatly challenged by Mark Batterson and his book In the Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.  It is top notch in it’s shouting vision and giving clarity to people looking to God and who desire to be part of a purpose driven adventure that only God could put together.

Here is what Mark wrote on his blog in an article titled Manifesto:

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

It is time for vision, confidence and God to be our ultimate goal, desire and reach. Yet we keep slipping or choosing to back up. Is that true of you?  It is like Jonah and how his running from God was a choice not to do what God asks and to miss out on some pretty big things. Listen up!  We miss loads of good stuff when we don't drop it all to be with God.

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?

Honestly, it makes me sick to see people willing to give up big things for what seems comfortable and easy.  God doesn't call us to comfort and to take it easy.  He calls us to win the world to Jesus.  Yeah, we have to work and care for our families, but it is all tied together.

Quit living like life has not purpose or that the only purpose to race toward death, just to get to heaven! Find out what your passion is and start living.

Psalm 37:34  The Message
Wait passionately for God, don't leave the path. He'll give you your place in the sun while you watch the wicked lose it.

Blaze the trail. You may be the first one in your family.

Quit holding back. The adventure awaits as we trust God!

NOTE: Please pray for Raceway Ministries taking place at Martinsville Speedway this weekend during the NASCAR events. We have the opportunity to witness to well over thousands of people.

Monday, March 23, 2015

dealing with discouragement


Sunday we continued our “Built God Tough” series and talked about the huge problem of mental illness, depression and discouragement.  This is one of those areas that for a long time churches have avoided talking about.  We at The Community Fellowship deal with people every day who are struggling with this stuff.

Some of those people have been diagnosed with an illness, yet far many more simply deal with the real struggles and pain of the battle of the mind.  God has a plan for all of us.  He made us to win and gives us strength.  By trusting God and having faith, we will push our fear, frustration and even the overwhelming thoughts of failure.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Easier said than done.  Would you agree?  Worry seems to be a way of life, and living by faith is almost extinct or at least rarely seen.  Less worry means trusting God more.  Trusting God more means having God’s peace as a reality in our lives.  We all need that.

We have all experienced discouragement and/or dealt with people who have.  One of the realities of life is the rampant problems of the battle of the mind.  Rick and Kaye Warren, he is pastor of Saddleback Church in California, dealt with the suicide of their son who also struggled with mental illness.  The insight I’ve gained from what the Warren’s shared has been very good.

Here are some thoughts from THIS ARTICLE from Rick Warren:

Discouragement is a disease unique to human beings, and it's universal -- eventually everyone gets it, including those in ministry. I have no doubt you've experienced discouragement at times, maybe many times. You might even be discouraged at this very moment…

WHAT CAUSES DISCOURAGEMENT?

FATIGUE … physically or emotionally exhausted … defenses are lowered and things can seem bleaker than they really are.

FRUSTRATION … unfinished tasks pile up, it's natural to feel overwhelmed. And when trivial matters or the unexpected interrupt you and prevent you from accomplishing what you really need to do…

FAILURE … (desire to) give in to self-pity? Do you blame others? …

FEAR … can cause a major onset of the blues.

WHAT'S THE CURE FOR DISCOURAGEMENT?

… REST YOUR BODY … You'll be more effective when you return to work …

REORGANIZE YOUR LIFE … doing the right thing in the wrong way. Try a new approach. Shake things up a little.

REMEMBER GOD WILL HELP YOU … ask Him. He can give you new energy. There’s incredible motivating power in faith.

RESIST THE DISCOURAGEMENT … Discouragement is a choice. If you feel discouraged, it's because you’ve chosen to feel that way…

That is great truth and wise council.  We must make positive choices and chose faith over fear.  By doing so our lives and the lives of others will be changed!

For as he thinks within himself, so he is…

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

Friday, March 20, 2015

I love Jesus


Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Easter is the time we celebrate the fact that our God, the one we worship year round is alive.  So many of the world’s leaders, spiritual and otherwise, are wasting away in some tomb or grave.  It is not so with our Savior.

Jesus is alive.  His love remains true now and forever.  I continue to be overwhelmed by the love of God.  How is it that our all knowing and perfect God would love me since I am flawed and have many issues?  The only way to resolve that love and how He loves us is to by faith accept the fact that God’s love has no strings attached and is based on His unconditional covenant with us.

Nothing changes, nothing removes, nothing cancels God’s love for us, His children.  All around us there is evidence of God’s love.  Listen to the stories of the people you know that have experienced God’s unending love.   Their stories will capture your heart and leave you, as they have me, wanting to tell others how awesome our God is.

Try His love from this angle:

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Yes, that is the hymn “My Jesus, I Love Thee” written by William Ralph Featherston over 150 years ago.  The words of this poem ring forever in my heart.  I learned it as a child, sang it so many times in church and continue to have it as a reminder when I am thinking about God’s love.

I challenge you to spend some time as we head toward the celebration of Easter, two weeks from Sunday, thinking about the love of God.  It really is more than we can understand!

This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

celebrate our WINTER / WARMING SHELTER success (it's a banquet)

BANQUET for the Martinsville WINTER / WARMING SHELTER
Tuesday, March 31st at 7pm; Salvation Army gym
RSVP by replying to this email

Hello friend of the homeless,

It is amazing to look back over the last three and half months and see all we have been able to accomplish through the Martinsville WINTER / WARMING SHELTER.  The only way we could have had the success we've experienced is to acknowledge that this would not have been possible without the help of all our partners and volunteer team team.

You are invited to a celebration.  On Tuesday, March 31st at 7pm there will be a CELEBRATION BANQUET for the Martinsville WINTER / WARMING SHELTER.  This will take place at our shelter, the Salvation Army at the corner of Bridge Street and Memorial Boulevard in Martinsville.  

All volunteers, partners, those who donated and friends are encouraged to take part in this celebration, and you are welcome to bring your spouse or a friend.  Also pass this invitation on to others who may not be getting this email.

Please RSVP by replying to this email or by letting myself or Mary Wampler know you plan to attend.  Watch for emails and more information next week about what you will need to bring (like food and donations to help those in need).

I cannot wait to celebrate with you and all who made our winter shelter a great success!


MICHAEL

Michael Harrison, Lead Pastor, The Community, Collinsville, VA 
mharrison@thecommunityfellowship.org  
276-647-8231 office

Thursday, March 19, 2015

help with EASTER egg hunt

Dear Community family and friends,

I need your help! We are having an Easter egg hunt for the children on April 4th at 3:00 at our new campus. We need individually wrapped candy (for the eggs), some toys for prizes, canned drinks or caprisuns, and individual bags of chips. We will need the toys and candy by March 29th and I will have a box available at church on Sunday to put them in. If you can donate the other items, let me know. If you can help that day, that would be great too!

See you this Sunday at church.  Our new curriculum for our preschoolers and kids is going well.  Let me know if you'd like to help with kids on Sunday morning as well.


Thanks everyone!

Julie Harrison

Community Kids ministry leader

jmand3r@gmail.com


[ to learn more about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center give us a call at 276-647-8231 or email us by clicking here. Please give online by clicking this link ]

stop playing it safe


Do you think that people of faith have a tendency to play it safe?  I do, and it ticks me off.  There.  I said it.

Far too often God reveals His best to us and give us wide-open opportunities to live for Him, to stretch and live our faith.  What do we do?  We end up playing it safe. 

Someone says, "I am just not sure about it."  Another chimes in, "It doesn't feel comfortable."  Someone else, "That's not reasonable."

Ok.  Let's stop there and consider what it means to play it safe.  Could it mean you don't take any risks?  Yes.  Could it mean that you do nothing unless you understand it or it seems reasonable?  Most likely.  Could playing it safe mean that you miss God most of the time?  Yep.  Definitely.  So what are you going to do about it?

Playing it safe is not something I suggest for people who want to see God move and work.  In fact, what I do suggest is ... if you are believing God to work and asking Him to move, you better get ready because God is going to work, and Satan will come after you.  There.  I said it.  Stop!!! Playing it safe.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way.

Hebrews 11:6  NASB
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Luke 18:27  NASB
But He said, " The things that are impossible with people are possible with God."

Living by faith takes risk.  Playing it safe takes nothing other than just maintaining life as usual.  Pretty boring if you ask me.

God didn't design His church nor His people for playing it safe.  I challenge you to stop playing it safe and to live by faith.  By the way, if you choose to live by faith, you better get ready 'cause it is gonna be an awesome ride.  We ain't seen nothing yet!!!

NOTE: this post was first shared in the spring of 2008 and it rings true as spring 2015 begins.

volunteers of the week REACH MINISTRY PARTNERS

This week’s volunteer of the week at The Community Fellowship is actually several groups of people who have partnered with us feed the hungry in our community!!!

 

A few times each month The Community Fellowship recognizes individuals that stand out in their, often quiet, efforts to bless others.  This week we want to express our overwhelming gratitude to the many churches, organizations, groups and individuals that generously help us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in REACH Ministry.

 

The ladies at First Baptist Bassett get together to make beautiful knit hats, footies, blankets and gloves and then donate them to us to give to our friends Uptown during regular feedings.  Each time we present these gifts they become cherished and much needed items to those receiving them.  Many times we’ve seen people come to the feedings without proper covering from the cold, and it is an honor to be able to bless them with these necessary and much needed items.

 

In past months Starling Avenue Baptist Church donated hygiene bags that were put together by several participating churches within the Henry County Baptist Association through “operation in as much”.  These bags contained shampoo, deodorant, mouthwash, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste and so much more!  There were also many blankets given to us along with the hygiene products that have been given to those that need them and truly appreciates them.

 

The Lord has broadened the territory of Victory Baptist Church as they very generously donate items to REACH Ministry for us to share with anyone in need.

 

A ladies group at Rich Acres Christian Church meets regularly to assemble hygiene bags to then distribute to people that may otherwise not have the very basic items that they need.  These items are then put into new backpacks with the acronym B.A.S.I.C. that stands for Basic Acts Serving In Christ.  We often see our friends walking or biking wearing these backpacks, and we are reminded of the time, effort and the love of Christ that is shared with those that receive these bags.  We are indeed grateful that our friends at RACC often donate these backpacks to our ministry for us to share with those that need them.

 

The REACH Ministry serves a meal each Saturday evening at 5pm at the Martinsville Hotel.  This meal feeds any where from 30 to 80 people.  Recently we REACH began serving a meal on the 3rd Sunday of the month too.  Many from The Community Fellowship and a few other churches assist with this incredible outreach to those who are hungry in Martinsville and Henry County.

 

These are but a few of the many people that have joined together with us to bless others that are in need of a meal, a hug, blankets, hygiene items and friends that care.  We are honored to partner with others in showing the love of God to our community!  That is why we take this opportunity to celebrate these groups of our VOLUNEERS OF THE WEEK.  Thank you!

 

 

[ to learn more about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center give us a call at 276-647-8231 or email us by clicking here. Please give online by clicking this link ]