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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

failure


If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small.

Failure happens.  It is something that all of us have gone through if we have lived very long.  What we do with failure makes all the difference of the world.

Often it is what we learn when we fall that takes us further and helps us grow more than any other time.  We do learn from victories, yet if our lives are only full of victories, we won’t appreciate them as much as we could. 

I heard a coach say recently that the reason she leads her team is to help them win.  Loses will happen.  But learning from the loses and compiling the wins is a big deal.

If we continue to fail and never win, we must find new ways to stretch toward winning and to see success.  Being part of a team is a great thing.  Being part of a winning team is awesome.  Following God and living by faith will bring more victory and more learning from our failures.

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

We might miss the grace of God if we are not looking for it.  By receiving God’s grace we will be able to understand failure and be able to reach toward success. 

But look at that verse one more time.  It says we are to “look after each other”.  God has called us to live in community and share life with other people.  In the book of Ecclesiastes we read about helping, encouraging and living with other people.  Throughout the Bible God tells us how we can care of each other.

Together we can help with the failures and the victories.  We can also understand why things happen, teach each other and press toward less failure and more victory.

But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

Maybe that verse is a different failure or way of failing, but we must not be shortsighted.  One of the easiest ways to fail is to not learn from and remember the past.  No, we cannot let our past hold us back.  The truth of the past and what God has done for us will allow us to understand our failures and press on toward victory.

God, help us see our failures from your point of view and allow us to win in ways that really matter.  Thank you for your grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

back in the day ... this week ... the 60's

This Sunday we begin a brand new series called BACK IN THE DAY, and over the next 4 Sundays we will be taking a look at the past and learn from the stories we will share.  Yep!  The 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.  Each week will be fun, funny and full of fact finding.  Are you in?

Here is another cool piece --- dress up in your favorite outfit from the decade for the week.  This week is the 60's.

Join us at The Community Fellowship Sunday at 10:10am and bring some friends with you!


*** for more information about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center call 276-647-8231 or email cmartin@thecommunityfellowship.org.  To give online click on this link   https://tcf.ccbchurch.com/trx_submit.php?type=public_gift ***

building community


One of the biggest things we do at our church is create community as we interact with people every day, not just during worship.  I walk out of the building we use, and I continue to ask God to fill me with big vision and His dreams.  And it happens again.  More pieces.  More stuff to honor God with.

I hate saying no.  I love saying yes.  This is in regards to helping me.  These are tough, tough times.  Job lose is a daily issue.  Needs on top of needs is a daily issue.  Know what else is a daily issue?  God is still God and still offering His best and real hope to any who will accept it.

"The person who loves the people around them creates community everywhere they go." --- D Bonhoeffer

By creating community around the marching orders of demonstrating the love of God to our community we are a living and breathing testimony of Jesus.  That's my calling.  That's what I believe I am to lead other people to do.  We are touching lives one at a time for a cause much bigger and far outside of what we can do on our own.  Offering hope creates community.

Have you noticed that when the people of God get together to accomplish a great task that the effort and the overflow often leads to more and more people learning about God?  It is like a bomb going off and seeing the results, what is left behind.  We have a saying that we began with at The Community Fellowship ... we are to get the attention of the people around us and while we have their attention, tell them about Jesus.  That is huge.  And that creates real and living community.  Lets off hope in Jesus' name and see if that is the outcome.

This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

And his name will be the hope of all the world."

Offering hope creates community as we share the love of God with those we meet.

NOTE: this post was originally shared in February of 2009

Monday, January 26, 2015

forgive


When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive whatever needs to be forgiven, I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit,

Forgiveness is one of the most powerful things in the world.  We can give it, and we can receive it.  Both directions are very important because the lack of forgiveness leads to spiritual and physical problems.

This is the way begins his relationship with us, by forgiving our sins, and how God opens up more of our freedom and strength by giving and receiving forgiveness with the people we encounter in life.

We have a choice to survive or to thrive.  Surviving often means you do as little as possible to simply get by.  To thrive means you go above and beyond.  Have you experienced the peace that comes with forgiveness?  It is freeing to people on both sides of the relationship.

I have shared with you before that one of my favorite writers is Henri Nouwen.  His daily email meditation yesterday shared the following:

"Then the master called the servant in.  'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'"  Matthew 18: 32-33 (NIV)

Receiving Forgiveness

There are two sides to forgiveness: giving and receiving.  Although at first sight giving seems to be harder, it often appears that we are not able to offer forgiveness to others because we have not been able fully to receive it.  Only as people who have accepted forgiveness can we find the inner freedom to give it.  Why is receiving forgiveness so difficult? It is very hard to say, "Without your forgiveness I am still bound to what happened between us.  Only you can set me free."  That requires not only a confession that we have hurt somebody but also the humility to acknowledge our dependency on others.  Only when we can receive forgiveness can we give it.

(find the original post at THIS LINK)

I pray that you and I will learn the art of receiving forgiveness.  Last night I spoke on the phone with a friend I have known for lots of years, and as we were about to end the call they said they had one more thing to share.  It was a forgiveness issue that they had help for a long time, and they said it was time to make it right.  He needed to give forgiveness, and I needed to receive it.

Luke 17:4  NLT
Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.

Friday, January 23, 2015

point of personal privilege


By my power I will make my people strong, and by my authority they will go wherever they wish. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

You have encountered them as I have.  Maybe it was at church or some event that you came face to face with one of their kind.  They are strong and confident, kind and compassionate, hopeful and patient.  I am talking about some who have chosen to serve God through serving others.

I am calling this post a “point of personal privilege” because there are some people I want to draw attention to, but before I get to the point I want to remind you that I am human.  Some people make me mad, tick me off and even get my mind so wrapped up that I have to back off and ask God for help.  You have met some of those people too.

This week God has sent me several reminders, but in the midst of being reminded I have run in to and spent time with some of the most negative and difficult people in the world.  They really seem to be pointing me and others in any direction other than God.  They are somewhat of the “cold water committee” trying to stop what God has done.  I’ve got to look past them to the others.

The Community Fellowship has some of the greatest people in the world.  I am talking about people who are willing to serve.  I love our church, and it thrills me to watch these people and to serve with them too.  This week I got a letter from one of them who seemed to fall off the deep end, and I am so glad that God has begun a good work in this one again.

Then my attention is turned to the Winter / Warming Shelter that we have helped to start in our community.  Over the last few weeks many new volunteers, more than 25, have stepped up to serve those who are homeless and/or cold in our community.  A few of the people on this volunteer team are from The Community, but the majority of these awesome people are from many other churches and organizations in our community.

That fact has restored some of my faith in our town and rekindled my desire to make a difference right here like an old saying goes, “bloom where you are planted”.  I believe God isn’t done with Martinsville and Henry County.  He is raising up people who are touched by Him and who have compassion for people who are hurting.

What God has reminded me of is that we Christians are to be catalyst to help others step up to serve.  As Tommy Barnett has said for years “find a need and fill it” or “find a hurt and heal it” as you serve the people you come in contract with.  Mother Teresa said, “if you cannot feed 100 people, feed 1”. 

I’ve met some great people through this process.  In conversations and in their serving I have been blessed big time.  God is at work.  God is raising up great servants.  God is changing lives as His people allow His compassion to flow through their veins and on to their hands and in their voices.

We “get-to-serve”.  That is a fact that Matthew Barnett’s new book “Misfits Welcome” shares very well.  It is easy to get tired and we “have-to-serve”, but it is awesome when God opens our eyes and our hearts because we realize that God has blessed us so much that we “get-to-serve” hurting people around us.

Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

who are you going to invite?


Everyone of us has relationships and people that we care deeply about.  When something exciting happens, we want to share with others.  That could be a gift we receive or an award we achieve or a number of number of others happenings.  It might even be a new baby or grandbaby born or an upcoming marriage.  All kinds of things get us excited.

Our walk with God ought to be the same.  It is one of the things we “get-to-do” by inviting people to follow Jesus or to go to church with us.  It is not about filling up the chairs or pews at church.  It is about letting people know that great life along with forgiveness and peace are available from our great and gracious God.

The people around us have got to meet our God.  One of the best days in my life was when I met Jesus.  Some of the other best days in my life is when God reminds me what He has done and renews my understanding of His love for me.  And we get to invite others to experience the same.

Isn’t that awesome?  We get to invite people to meet our Jesus.  We get to invite people to come to church or Bible study or to serve with us where people can meet God.  So, who are you inviting this week?

Lets take a look at some invitations in the Bible. 

Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.

I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.

One way we get to invite people is when we invite people to know Jesus.  That can come in so many forms from a personal story in a conversation, to a letter written to a friend or even a personal invitation to church.  Another way is through media...TV, radio, web site...letting people hear about Jesus. 

Hold the phone.  There is another invitation we HAVE TO THINK about all the time.  Who is it we are inviting to be part of our lives? 

Far too many people invite Satan, most of the time unknowingly, to join them on our daily lives.  We give him all the space he wants.  We listen to his every word and even watch his every move.  It is kind of mesmerizing. 

We don't want to do that.  Our enemy has no place in our lives and in our business.  But we let him in.  It is time to kick him out.  No invitation to you, nasty dude.  It is time for JESUS to take over.  Hear me out:

The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Invite people to enjoy life, not hate it.  Invite people to find purpose, not pain.  Invite people to see and have hope, not have more desperation.

How are we inviting people to enter your life and to get the love and life that God offers?  By the way, God made you a winner.  Know it.  Believe it.  Live it.  That is 'THE INVITATION' God offers you today!

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Invite the people around you, those you know and those you don’t, to get to know God.  Our testimonies must share with them.  Our conversation should lead to Him.  Our smiles and encouragement ought to be contagious because we have come to know God personal and had our lives changed.

Join me and others in inviting people to come to know Jesus.  Invite people to come to church with you this weekend.  Who are you going to invite?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

volunteer of the week SANDY WEAVER

This week’s volunteer of the week at The Community Fellowship is Sandy Weaver!!!

 

Sandy Weaver and her husband Brian live in Ridgeway and have been a part of The Community Fellowship family for a year.

 

During REACH Ministry’s outREACH Event in September, Sandy was a major contributor of the supplies needed to make that ministry a success.   She also supports Raceway Ministries ministries through donations and is active in fundraisers in the community.

 

Sandy volunteers in our back2school (B2S) event and is a Charter Member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation for Martinsville/Henry County.

 

Wanting to own her own business, Sandy prayed, studied God’s Word and sought confirmation.   While attending a ladies conference, Sandy had an opportunity to talk with Pastor Paula White who prayed with her and even gave her the name of the business that she was to start, “Memory Lane”.   This business is located in the Fieldale area and along with photos; Sandy rents tuxedos for all kinds of events.

 

In October Sandy had her photo booth set up on site to bless the families enjoying the Fall Festival that is held on the grounds of our church each year.  Many people that attended were excited to take advantage of that.  On Mother’s Day Sandy’s photo booth was at church capturing special memories for families.

 

Sandy is the manager of Hardee’s in Collinsville which is a Boddie-Noel company that she has been with for 16 years.  This is a Christian family based business where she has received several awards, but the one she is the most proud of is the company’s highest award called The Carlton-Noell Award that she received in 2011.

 

Sandy loves photography.  She feels it is her God given talent to capture a moment and have it live on.   She is very passionate about this and says, “Pictures are all we have to preserve our past.”   She also is a fan of Tony Stewart and loves music and cars of all kinds.

 

In her spare time Sandy loves to travel and hopes to go on a mission trip at some point.  She especially enjoys spending time with her husband and sons, Josh and Daniel.

 

Sandy believes that if this community’s businesses and leaders united together this area could not only recover but thrive.  Some things she would like to see happen in our church is for the New Campus to be up and running offering classes to increase and enhance people’s daily living skills.  She is a true believer that knowledge is power, and that if the world isn’t going to give it to the people who need it, the church ought to.  She feels that we are all God’s people and this is another way to live in God’s best.

 

One of Sandy’s favorite Scriptures is Psalm 145:19-21, “He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them.  The Lord preserveth all them that love Him: but all the wicked will He destroy.  My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord and let all flesh bless His Holy Name for ever and ever.”

 

We are happy to announce and recognize Sandy Weaver as The Community Fellowship’s Volunteer of the Week!  Thank you Sandy for all of your hard work to serve others and demonstrate the love of God to our community!

 

 

*** for more information about The Community Fellowship or Dream Center call 276-647-8231 or email cmartin@thecommunityfellowship.org.  To give online click on this link   https://tcf.ccbchurch.com/trx_submit.php?type=public_gift ***

hope leads to the future


Here is something we need to make sure we all agree on.  Salvation is vital.  Jesus is our Savior.  He is all we need.  It is all about Him.  In our sphere of influence and in our daily life we can lead others to come to know Jesus.  We are the equipment.

Armed with our salvation and story we can win our world to Jesus.  In the passage we look at today there are some connections we can take to heart and will push us closer to Him.  Listen in.  This is good stuff!

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

This past Sunday I shared with our church from Jeremiah 29 about having a heart connected to God so we can help and share with others.  We share from hope.  That is the hope that Jesus gives us.

But the problem is we are human.  Humans look at things from a flawed view and most often see destruction, pain and that the end is near.  When God gets involved, our minds change, our view broadens and opens the future for us.

We can either look at things with a positive or negative view.  We can either see things as drear and empty or much better as seeing possibilities and hope.  God desires to give us a future.

That future is the view that God wants us to have.  We have no purpose when we think we have no future.  We have and live with passion and purpose when we know that God has planned our future and desires to show it to us through time.  But the choice is ours.  Either human or divine thinking.  Either death or life.  Either hopeless or full of hipe.

God speaks to the people He loves even though they are in a very difficult place.  What He says brings them comfort, strength and wisdom.  For these things to sink in what God said had to be believed.  It really is a matter of the heart.  If we are going to have the impact God wants us to have, we have to do things His way.  Our heart is the key to it all.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

We cannot see what God wants us to see or grasp what He wants us to grasp without a heart that has bee prepared by Him.  The people of God in Jeremiah 29 were in exile.  They were slaves and far away from home.  They were uncomfortable, but God in these verses reminds them that He has a plan.  His plan says He listened to their prayers, and that the days ahead are going to hold great things.

The same is true for us.  If we look from God’s point of view, we will have hope and be able to see our future.  I think this can be described like being on a hike and working your way up the hillside.  When you get to the top and look over the peak, there is beauty and a view that is incredible

God wants to show us those incredible views.  God wants to fill us with endless hope.  Take Jeremiah 29:11 as God’s promise.  Maybe take it as a wake up call to see the future.

If we see our future from the point of our pain and desperate current situations, we are going to have trouble.  We must realize that our home really is in heaven, and this world and our time here is short.  We are just visiting, but we can and must make the best of it!

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,

1 Peter 2:11  NASB
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

John 14:3  NASB
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

We are aliens.  That doesn’t mean we are from another planet.  It does mean that our citizenship is not here on earth.  Our citizenship is in heaven where Jesus is preparing our eternal home. 

It is easy to let life and our humanity to get in the way of living by faith.  To miss what God has for us is dangerous and wrong.  That is why we must embrace our future that God has prepared.  He will provide as we trust Him.  He will show us the best things as we trust Him.

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

Man’s view … lots of pain.  God’s view … lots of hope.  The future is your choice and mine.  To choose man’s view is to throw out our confidence and our faith.  But we must hold tight to our faith and take a look often, very often at the future God has provided for us.

Hebrews 4:16  NASB
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

more on loving others


John 13:34  NASB
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

One of the toughest things that we have to do is to love.  One of the sweetest and best things we will ever do is to love, but our world and most of the people around us believe love is something it is not.  Jesus is the epitome of love.  Not everyone will say that, but many people and for generations will assert that Jesus taught us to do just that.

Last week I heard something that stopped me in my tracks.  It has to do with serving others, and it you really know me you know that my calling is to serve and to lead others to serve in the name of Jesus. 

Here is that quote: Our goal is to minister to those who want it and love those who don't - David Martin

Serving is loving, but to love others is not always each.  Loving people who do not want what we are offering or don’t even want to be near us is tough.  Often times it is easier to stay by ourselves and not to love or serve, but we just cannot do that.  We must love.  We must serve.

I’d like to share some of the thoughts that inspire me to keep on loving, to keep on serving.  Some of the following I heard years ago while others are new or fresh.  But when I read them, think through them and see to employ them, I find myself propelled to love more.  The more we serve and love the more people will encounter our God who has loved and served us.

God's definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love.  - Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Intense love does not measure, it just gives. - Mother Teresa

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love. - Billy Graham

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. - C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it. - Stephen Colbert

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. - Mother Teresa

But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through. - Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

May we be caught loving others in creative ways that stick.  Real love, authentic love leads others to change.  That love changes us too.

1 John 4:12  NASB
No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.