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Open the Door to Outsiders

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Open the Door to Outsiders

The church will grow when we open our doors to outsiders.

Here’s something that’s very important to realize. All unchurched people feel like ‘outsiders’ when it comes to the church.  And it’s that way, but not necessarily because the church makes them feel that way (although it can be).

Primarily they feel that way because they are not yet born again; they are not yet adopted into the family of God. Ephesians 2:12-13 and 19 says, Also, at that time you were without Christ. You were excluded from citizenship in Israel, and the pledges God made in his promise were foreign to you. You had no hope and were in the world without God. That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family (GW).

We must assure the unchurched we understand that uncomfortable feeling, and we may experience that same feeling from time to time.

Have you ever noticed that church is comfortable until it’s not? I’ve talked many times with Christians who have fallen into sin. When that happens suddenly they don’t feel like going to church. If they used to sit up front, they now feel inclined to sit in back. And that’s the #1 reason the unchurched don’t want to come to church. It’s because they feel uncomfortable.

Our #1 job is to assure them it’s okay. We totally get it. We understand their feelings. Assure them they will be welcomed. Let them know our church is not a gathering place for perfect people, but a place where outsiders are made insiders by the grace of God.

I fully believe Lakeview will grow when each one of us become more aware of and in tune with outsiders. Bring the unchurched TO church! Meet them. Sit with them. Assure them they will be welcomed with open arms.

The church will grow when we open our doors to outsiders.

 

To listen to the entire message, click here. Watch this service on video here. 

 

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Gifted to Grow the Church

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Gifted to Grow the Church

God has supernaturally gifted each one of us to serve others.

“God has given each one of us a special gift. Each of us must use the gift God has given us to serve others.” Ephesians 4:7 says, God’s favor has been given to each of us. It was measured out to us by Christ who gave it. And 1 Peter 4:10 says, Each of you as a good manager must use the gift that God has given you to serve others.

So, where do we use our spiritual gifts?

They’re not something we turn on/off at church. Our spiritual gifts ought to function at home, at work, and in the neighborhood. Basically, they should be in operation wherever we live life.

But I think it’s even more important we understand that our spiritual gifts must include the church.

  • Our spiritual gifts connect our heart to the church.
  • Our spiritual gifts strengthen and build the church.

My spiritual gifts as a pastor are meant to inspire and equip you so that God uses you to grow the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12 says, He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church. Their purpose is to prepare God’s people to serve and to build up the body of Christ (GW).

If you are not serving in the church, in some capacity, you are stunting your growth and hindering the growth of the church.

Ephesians 4:13-15 says, This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head (GW).

Doesn’t verse 15 sound awesome! “We will grow up COMPLETELY!”

Maybe we’re not growing because we are not engaging our gifts.

I love verse #16 because Paul paints the picture of how effective and powerful our spiritual gifts really are. See Ephesians 4:16.

“He makes the whole body FIT together.” That tells us the church is like a jigsaw puzzle. Don’t you hate it when there’s one piece missing!

“He makes the body grow.” God’s desire is always to grow the church. Is that your desire?

In the next few blogs, I’ll share how we can help grow the church, because we know that church growth is God’s desire.

To listen to the entire message, click here. Watch this service on video here. 

Help Us Find Creative Ways to Engage Your Unique Gifts

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Help Us Find Creative Ways to Engage Your Unique Gifts

The church doesn’t always know how to engage all the gifts among us. Churches can have “gift blindness.” If there’s a Lamborghini’s stored in the church basement, it’s my job to bust down the wall and bring all the gifts out into the daylight. (See earlier post titled, Use Your Energy to Serve the Lord.)

I heard a story about a man who approached his pastor saying he’d like to give a day a week to the church. The pastor said, “That’d be great! We really need someone to clean the toilets.” So the man said, “Fantastic, I’m happy to do it!” And for the next several years he faithful cleaned the toilets every week.

One day, the man died, suddenly. The pastor was asked to do the funeral. Only then did the pastor discover the man had for years been a CEO in a major corporation. He could have been helping the church with long term-planning, their finances, and their vision, but instead, he was cleaning toilets.

It’s in my heart, and in the hearts of our pastors at Lakeview to ENGAGE every member of our church body in gift appropriate, meaningful ministry. I recognize that it’s an “us” problem as much as it is a “you” problem.

So I’m asking you today to help us get better. Help us find creative ways to engage your unique gifts in areas that utilize your calling to its maximum potential.

This is a shift in mindset and thinking for all of us.

We have a plot of ground donated for a garden down on the corner by the Marathon gas station. Pastor Mike needs a person who loves to garden to “own it.” Is that you? Find four or five other people, get with Mike for his plans, sign up and then engage.

If you have the spiritual gift of OCD, engage your gift! Find a couple of other people and adopt the median from here to Rockville. Dream big and get a large team.

We want to open up the gateway to opportunities to utilize and engage the gifts God has given each one of you.

We want to kick the door of opportunity open and, to be honest, we’re not totally sure what that looks like. So you’ll have to help us paint the picture.

Every night at 9:30, I have a verse that pops up on my iPad: “For from day to day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army, like an army of God.”[1]

Are you one of those people? Is God calling you to help us build an army, the army of God?

 

[1] 1 Chronicles 12:22 GW

What’s Your Motivation?

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What’s Your Motivation?

Most of the time it’s our gifts and passions that move us into action. But other times it’s the season of life that energizes and drives us to help others.

In October of 2014, Suzie’s husband, Steve died. It was a very difficult season or her. As she walked through the grieving process, Suzie read a book by Max Lucado entitled, “You’ll Get Through This.”

It occurred to her that this book would help others too. So she went to our website and signed up to lead a Life Group Class, and had more than 20 people join her, so they could connect and grow together.

After the first two weeks she wrote: “I had many hurting people come. One woman lost her fiancé on Thanksgiving Day, and another man lost his wife on Christmas Day. One woman’s husband suffers from PTSD; another had just lost her mother. God is in this! I’m also inviting people outside of the church. I love Lakeview Church and am grateful for the opportunity to connect and serve. Thanks for encouraging me to step out of the boat.”

There are many different ways to express your gifts here at Lakeview:

  • Lead a Life Group.
  • Volunteer in the nursery.
  • Join the children’s ministry team.
  • Serve as a deacon or an elder.
  • Help clean the church weekly – it’s our house; family helps!
  • Join the mowing crew and snow removal team.
  • Commit to vacuuming the carpet.
  • Find a family in need and adopt them.
  • Join the worship team.
  • Be a greeter.
  • Serve as an usher.

 

Use Your Energy to Serve the Lord

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Use Your Energy to Serve the Lord

In 1981, Ken Imhoff went to see the movie Cannonball. He fell in love with one of the cars in the movie, a Lamborghini. He decided, right then, he was going to build one. So piece by piece, over the next 17 years, he put in a Corvette suspension, a Boss Mustang 351. And as resourceful as Ken was, he had a major blind spot. He built the car in his basement and had to hire a contractor to dig out the basement wall.

What good is a Lamborghini when it’s parked in the basement? (Click here to listen to this message on our podcast.)

Until you fire up the engine, engage the transmission, and actually drive the car, it will never fulfill the purpose for which it was made!

It is exactly the same way with us! Until we step out of the anonymity of the basement and engage our gifts, we will never experience the impact for which God created us.

ENGAGE = 1) to become involved in; 2) to participate; 3) to join in, and 4) to release the power.

It’s the job of the pastors to release the power of your gifts and engage them in meaningful ministry. Ephesians 4 could not be any clearer. “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”[1]

But pastors can’t do it alone. We need your help to do a better job. Help us to identify your gifts and engage them for their maximum potential.

“In the same way, even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other.”[2] We are not just connected by relationships; we are connected by serving, by using our God-given gifts to build each other up.

Our gifts vary in style, in interests, in ability and capability. But each one is important and valuable.

“God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts. If your gift is speaking what God has revealed, make sure what you say agrees with the Christian faith. If your gift is serving, then devote yourself to serving. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If it is encouraging others, devote yourself to giving encouragement. If it is sharing, be generous. If it is leadership, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping people in need, help them cheerfully. Love sincerely. Hate evil. Hold on to what is good. 10 Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord.”[3]

Use your energy to serve the Lord. Engage your gifts. Put them into gear and do something; go somewhere with it.

 

[1] Ephesians 4: 4:11-12 NLT

[2] Romans 12:5 GWT

[3] Romans 12:6-11 GWT

Some Seeds Will Produce Amazing Results

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Some Seeds Will Produce Amazing Results

The power of impact lies buried in our hearts until we step out and plant a seed. The crazy thing is we don’t really know what can happen until we step out. Even then, we may not see the full bloom of the impact of our lives until we stand before the Lord in heaven!

Jesus said it could be amazing, “And some seeds fell in good soil; the plants grew and bore grain, one hundred grains each.”[1]

I was going through some old binders that Pastor Tom had put together of historic documents from another era. I found the closing statement on Lakeview’s property dated December 26, 1963. We paid $45k for 14 acres of land. At that time it was an untapped piece of property laying there like an unplanted seed, full of unknown potential. This church stepped out in faith, THEY DID SOMETHING!

And I, for one, am glad they did.

HOW MANY LIVES HAS LC IMPACTED since it relocated here in 1967?

*How many people have been saved on this property?

*Baptized in water and the Spirit?

*Called into missions work around the globe?

*Called into the vocational mission field of Indianapolis?

*Marriages strengthened/lives touched/destinies changed!

In the movie Gladiator, Maximus said to the troops: “Brothers, what we do in life, echoes in eternity.”

 

[1] Luke 8:8 GWT

Every See Won’t Produce Big Results

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Every See Won’t Produce Big Results

People kept coming to Jesus from one town after another; and when a great crowd gathered, Jesus told this parable: “Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it up. Some of it fell on rocky ground, and when the plants sprouted, they dried up because the soil had no moisture. Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up with the plants and choked them

Luke 8:4-7 GW

As we look at the lives of others and what they’re doing, we can feel small. Sometime we see the effects of the impact of the lives of others, and we think our own lives won’t measure up, so we don’t even try. Isn’t that what we are often afraid of? We can let all the “what ifs” keep us from having the impact God wants us to have.

Our job is not to hold out for the perfect setting, the right timing for an opportunity that cannot fail.

If we wait for the big thing, we’ll never step out in faith. We have to step out in faith and exercise our gifts.

We have to try something, to follow the leading of the Lord the best we can, engage our gifts and leave the results to God.

In 1888, at 44 years of age, Maria Woodworth-Etter had suffered great loss. Four of her five children died before they reached seven years of age. She was married to a man who was a real problem. He hindered her call from God. During the Civil War he’d been stuck in the head and suffered serious brain damage. He was never right.

She was uneducated and received the Jesus as her Lord and Savior at 12 years old. She saw a vision of a field of grain. In her vision the grain heads all fell over. Her pastor didn’t know what the vision meant. She asked if she could preach. In the 1890s people came from all around to hear her minister. She made herself available and God began to bless her ministry.

Keep throwing seeds. Not all seeds grow, but they can’t grow if you keep them in a bucket or barn. Crows are not encouraging birds. They’ll eat your seeds or scatter it, often to places where it won’t grow well.

My experience has been three out of four things probably won’t work that well. How do I know that? Jesus said it was so.[1] The fear of risk and failure keeps more of us on the sidelines than anything I can think of. When you have a vision or desire in your heart, people will step on it. God uses that. Many successful leaders had someone crush their dreams, and it motivated them.

Expect challenges! Try some things.

Nancy Jones lived alone in a small town in Kansas. She was known as the oldest person in town. Nobody knew her. The Editor of the town newspaper had a tough time writing her obituary. The editor handed the assignment off to the sports guy who wrote:

Here lies the bones of old lady Jones.

For her life held no terrors.

She lived an old maid .

She died an old maid.

No hits, no runs, no errors.

 

We won’t make mistakes if we don’t do anything, but we won’t make an impact either.

[1] Luke 8:4-7 GWT

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