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Friday, May 22, 2015

it's graduation day for our Rebecca


Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him… How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!  He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.

Today is not a normal day at all.  Well, the last few weeks I have shared more personal stuff in these devotions, more than normal.  The same is true today, and I am thankful that you keep reading (some of you do).

She turned 18 years old only a few weeks ago, but this is the day that Rebecca will graduate from High School.  We have looked forward to this day for this year and for so much longer than just the last 12 months or so.  I do not intend to give you a run down, a play by play or a historical account of Rebecca’s life in this post.

What I intend to do is talk about the emotions that I feel and how God prepares each of us for times like this.  Again, these are personal, often filled with opinion, yet I pray that some sense of encouragement or learning may be passed on to others.

When the kids come along you cannot help but be drawn to them.  They are cute and totally dependent on you.  We spend years helping our kids become self sufficient, but the less they depend on us, their parents, the tougher it really is for all of us.  Don’t get me wrong because I want Rebecca to stand on her own and to be successful.  I also pray that I have taught her that we are stronger when we let others be part of our lives.

She will walk across the graduation stage tonight with hundreds of others in the class of 2015 from Bassett High School.  She has continually made us proud of her accomplishments and her choices.  This is a great day.

She came in to the world, and I was crying the minute it happened.  And if you see me at graduation or this weekend just look away because I may be crying again.  Tears of joy and pride for our first-born.  We will remember this day for a long time.  Just around the corner of calendar time she will move on to the campus of Ferrum College beginning a new phase of life.  Not long after is so much more.  I will stop there because this dad’s heart can only deal with so much at this time.

Family makes like better.  Seeing our children succeed is an amazing thing.  Watching them begin to walk or talk or drive or graduate is only part of what parenthood is about.

The days ahead are marked with all kinds of opportunity, and I cannot wait to see how Rebecca, her classmates and others make choices to lean on God and to impact this world we live in.  This will be a great day, and I choose to look through eyes of faith as a father and a fellow follower of Jesus.

Rebecca, I am so proud of you.  Press on (but not too fast).  I love you too!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

live with courage



There is so much of life to live and experience.  After this life is another that Jesus has gone to prepare for us.  Many have said that this life is really a dress rehearsal for the next.  That is another reason to make worship a way of life and to live with courage.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

Learn from the past and live for the future.  Our glory days of the past were awesome, but they will never return.  What is ahead of is opportunity to serve, to share and to experience what God has for us.

That is why I call on us to live with courage.  Take some time to examine how you live.  Is there much adventure or courage in how you live now?  If not, ask God to open doors of adventure.  Ask Him to refresh your faith and help you fall in love with His grace, goodness and His plan for us and those around us.

It is time to live with courage!

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Mark 6:50  NLT
They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!”

Joshua 1:7  NLT
Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.

So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!

In my conversations recently I have been able to share what God is doing in my life, in our church and in the things we have planned.  As I walk around our future campus I see opportunity.  I also see all that God has done.

Often the world looks at the courageous steps Christians take and calls them foolish, but I beg to disagree because of all I have seen God do.  His promises are ours.  There is more coming.

This weekend is a milestone for our family as our oldest daughter, Rebecca, graduates from high school.  Just 18 years ago we were headed to the hospital for her to be born.  A few months later she went through major surgery.  What seemed like not long after was kindergarten, middle school, birthdays, vacations, celebrations and life lived out.  I am excited for what is ahead of our daughter.

Just a few months away is college.  That will be an adventure for her and for her dad too.  It takes courage to let go.  It takes courage to lead and love my family.  It is much easier to encourage people to take the back seat or to try and just be safe or comfortable.

Here is the deal… God didn’t call us to live in comfort.  God called each of us to live with courage and give Him all the glory.  Faith calls for courage which will always honor God.

It is time to live with courage.

Joshua 1:9  NLT
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

volunteer of the week JERRY BYRD

This week’s volunteer of the week at The Community Fellowship is JERRY BYRD!!!

 

Jerry Byrd and his wife Heather have been attending The Community Fellowship since January and they have recently become members of the church.

 

During the week Jerry is teaches HVAC and industrial maintenance at Bassett High School where he strives to give his students a positive male influence and has been doing so for 13 years.  One of Jerry’s passions is helping others, and since one of their sons has special needs it was only natural from Jerry’s heart to help start soccer and t-ball leagues for children with special needs.  Both leagues are doing well and making a great difference in our community.

 

Jerry spiritual gifts and talents lead him to help those around him that he sees in need.  Jerry and Heather also show hospitality by generously hosting Bible studies in his home on many Sunday evenings.  Jerry loves to serve people and has found The Community Fellowship a great place to plug in to serve.

 

Jerry says, “I just love to help whenever I can, wherever needed; I enjoy Raceway Ministries, working at the New Campus and the Winter Warming Shelter.” 

 

In his spare time he enjoys camping with his family and spending time with his sons Luke who is 11 and Tyler who is almost 7 years old.  They also enjoy water activities such as swimming, boating and kayaking.  Heather is a teacher working in the early childhood area with special needs children.

 

A favorite Bible Scripture for Jerry is Romans 10:9 “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  It is also one of the first verses he memorized.

 

Jerry, we truly appreciate your willingness to show up in the lives of others to bless, enrich, make better and offer encouragement.  Thank you for all you bring to the ministries you are involved in and for all the lives you work so hard to touch.  Your dedication to helping others is a powerful example for each of us to demonstrate the love of God to our community.  We are honored to recognize you as our Community Fellowship Volunteer of the Week!

 

 

[ 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 ]

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Holy Spirit you are welcome here



In the middle of the prayer walk we stepping in to what will be our worship center / auditorium.  I shared how we desire for this to be a place where all different kinds of events happen as well as the place where people gather to praise the Lord each week and often.

One of the student leaders led us in worship.  It was a new song to me, but I had heard it on the radio some.  What an awesome and humbling time this was singing together, worshipping and sharing a sweet time.  Yet as we stepped out of worship area one of the student noticed that written on a door facing were the lyrics of this song.

That was a spiritual moment as we realized that we sang, voiced and shared the prayer others had offered in this same place.  You can hear the song at THIS LINK.  The worship was so fresh, real, exciting, drawing and almost electric. 

Here are the lyrics to the song Holy Spirit sung by Francesca Battistelli and others.

There's nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You're our living hope
Your presence, Lord

I've tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord

CHORUS
Holy Spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord

There's nothing worth more
That could ever come close
No thing can compare
You're our living hope
Your presence, Lord

I've tasted and seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone
Your presence, Lord

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness

The chorus is a prayer and an invitation to the Holy Spirit.  In our worship it is the Holy Spirit that makes His home in our hearts, who fills our worship and who draws us closer to God.  I long for and love this.  How about you?

May we spend time seeking God and worshipping Him in sweet ways like this leads me to.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

missing what God is doing



May we really be still more often so to enjoy and not to miss God.  Here is the post:

"Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world."

Other translations ....

NASB --- Cease striving

CEV --- Calm down, and learn that I am God!

GWT --- Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God.

HCSB --- Stop [your fighting]—and know that I am God,

Those are some powerful words.  And when we get it, really get it God will begin to work wonders as He has our hearts.  At that point He teaches us to trust Him more and listen less to our feelings and our emotions.

I've been reminded of this several times, yet not in such a dramatic way as one instance in the recent past.  Honestly, I was stressed, worried and asking for help as well as consumed.  As I began to step back (not because I wanted to but God made that happen), God worked right in front of my eyes.  He changed the situation.  He turned the issue or the problem into a situation where people will be helped and even healing will take place.

Powerful lesson for me.  When we fail to listen to and trust God, problems continue and will even snow ball.  I need to hear this.  Do you?

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

What is consuming you?  What are you worried about?  When was the last time you stopped to listen to what God had to say?

Be still.  Stop running.  Calm down.  Stop fighting against all kinds of stuff.  Let go of what is worrying you.  Let God work in your situation!

Monday, May 18, 2015

our God is limitless


He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Come on!  God is not limited by things.  He is not limited by time and space.  Our God is not limited by disease or war.  Our great God is not limited by disaster or world events.  God is not limited by the powers around us or the perception of people.  Our God has never been and will never be limited by sin, consequences or the distraction of pain.  God is limitless.  Are you with me?

The things that we say or think that limit God don’t.  Get that.  Take it to the bank.  There is more and more to our God than we can imagine.  Our minds are good enough, big enough, bright enough and cannot hold enough to think like or even comprehend all the ability and glory of our God.  He is LIMITLESS.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Peter was a businessman whose life was radically changed by Jesus.  History tells us that he was even crucified upside down because he considering dying like Jesus did something he wasn’t worthy of.  Peter was the disciple that Jesus called Satan.  Peter was the only disciple to walk on water.  Peter was there when Moses and Elijah showed up to talk with Jesus.  Peter was the one who didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet.  Peter was the disciple that cut off the ear of the man trying to arrest Jesus.  Peter was the dude that denied Jesus 3 times right before Jesus’ death.  Peter was the one who was preaching when the Holy Spirit came, he healed people and saw thousands upon thousands of people come to God because of the truth.

The following verses are from one of the letters written by Peter.  His perspective of God was different from some of the other Apostles.  He was one of the closest to Jesus at some of the pivotal times of His adventure with God.  He was also the one who was always messing things up, or so it seemed.

Peter’s words are a first hand account of the happenings of Jesus’ life and ministry.  The theology that he shares is from his experience with the Holy Spirit and with the spread of the Gospel. 

1 Peter 4:1-11  The Message
1-2 Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.
3-5 You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet—and before God himself.
Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus.
7-11 Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

Those are powerful words that proclaim the fact that our God is limitless.  These powerful verses tell us the reason Jesus suffered, and it gives us all the more reason to look past our pain to celebrate and give God glory. 


Spend some time in those verses from 1 Peter 4.  May God use them to radically confirm our belief in our limitless God.

Friday, May 15, 2015

be love



I need His love.  It deals with frustration and stress.  It overcomes the questions and dilemmas that at times seem to cloud our lives.  God’s love is powerful for everyone it touches and everyone it flows through.

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Love is an action word.  It is not seen in what we say, but it is lived out in what we do.  We've all experienced this on many levels throughout the years, but the fact is many of us missed the very essence of what love does.

Love goes the second mile.  Love does for others when there's no possibility of reward.  Love sees past pain and struggle.  Love forgets worry and embraces acceptance.  Love is a condition of the heart especially after God has gotten hold of us and we have taken a hold of him.  Love runs in to tough situations when fear is running out.  We ought to be radically changed by the love that God had for us.

1 John 4:9  NLT
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.

Got spelled his love out on the cross.  We've heard it, we’ve seen it, and we have beat that fact to death throughout all the time we've been in church.  Yet the world around us is crying out for love spelled out in action and a life lived with character and strength.  That strength comes from a heart that is not trying to get something in return but is trying to give.  Do we have anything to really give others?

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.

Stories paint pictures in my mind.  They are often amazing.  This morning I read of a police department that attended the graduation of a girl whose dad was killed in the line of duty.  Yesterday, I watched a video news story of a son of a deputy who was killed as he tried to by his dad’s patrol car.  Yet the boy was out bid by a local farmer who turned at the end of the auction and presented the boy with his dad’s patrol car as a gift (by the way, the farmer paid $60,000 for the car that was worth about $12,000; the money goes to serve families in law enforcement who lost loved ones.

I am often humbled by the stories of friends who speak of their encounters with homeless friends.  One lady recently talked about a homeless man that she ministered to that found out he had cancer.  Another friend shared how he met a homeless mom and her daughter and simply listening to their story let to them finding help.

After myself being overly frustrated yesterday when trying to deal with a homeless veteran I ran in two of the men that were homeless in our church.  They now have a place to stay and have had a good job as well.

The picture painted for me by such stories demosntrated the fact that we have to “be love”.  Don’t just say you love someone.  Be love.  Don’t just pretend to love people.  Be love.  Go out of your way to serve others and don’t worry about what you will get.  Be love.  Cheryl is a great example of love as Gary cannot express the love he has for his wife like he used to express it years ago.

Who is God calling you to love?  Be love to someone today.

We love each other because he loved us first.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

Thursday, May 14, 2015

innocence radiates like the dawn



Turn another direction and you will find people who live by a strict code of conduct that seems to come to the conclusion that you have to keep the law to be good, to be accepted by God or even to inherit salvation.  Even if we use the law of God, no one can keep those standards.

Neither of is right.  It is the people who find peace in God and who passionately follow God that come to the place and to the life that leads to even more peace.  It is these people who find their strength refreshed, their minds alert and their hearts warmed so that their actions are turned to help others experience the same peace that they have found.  We all need that peace.

It is time to live with meaning.  It is time to make a difference.  It is time to make choices about how we are going to live because we have come to know our gracious God who loves us very much.  We love God because He first loved us.  That love for us leaves me wanting to live differently and wanting to give His best to others.

Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away.  Like spring flowers, they soon wither. Trust in the Lord and do good.  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. 7  Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.  Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

This is not a set of laws to try to keep.  This is a way of life.  These things will release us to live in freedom and with great peace.  Look through these verses.  What is is that a person of peace will live with or without?

This person will have less worry.

This person does good because they trust God for the outcome.

This person relies on God because God holds their safety and gives loads of confidence.

This person finds that life lived for God adds meaning.  It really is a life of changed desires, like a revolution has taken place within that leads to living different for others to see.

This person realizes that God provides everything especially when help is needed.

This person spends time in God’s presence because that is where they (and us) find peace.  God is the source of peace that makes us people of peace that opens doors for others to have peace.

I close with an excellent statement that I have been thinking about a lot this week … this person’s innocence radiates like a new day beginning.  Just like when the sun is glistening, the air is refreshing and all seems well with life.  That is the kind of life that we all need and that I want.