Archive for January 2012

58   Leave a comment

No its not an attack of wishful thinking or a correction of my recent birthday; I am getting used to writing “60” when asked for my age. The number is a reference to Isaiah 58. Some time ago I wrote about the challenge of global poverty and shared a video that introduced an upcoming project by this name. Recently I received a second email detailing another stage in the project’s development and sharing some more initiatives.

In Isaiah 58 the prophet challenges us to examine the practice and motivation of our fasting. So for those who are part of New Life Christian Fellowship it occurred to me that our 21day fast is a wonderful opportunity to, once again, think about the hungry, those whose circumstances dictate that their life is a long enforced fast!.

Scripture makes it clear that Jesus had some priorities in His ministry, that I believe He expects His church to reflect. The poor, lonely, disenfranchised, and hungry, along with the lost are those to whom He came to bring “good news” (Luke 4:18-19).  So take some time to explore the resources and information this project offers. Then let’s ask ourselves how our priorities line up with those that Jesus set.  Is there any corrective action we should take?

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Posted January 24, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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Choosing not to choose   Leave a comment

The importance of choice has been a recurrent theme in my thinking so far this year. The amazing reality is, that God gives us the opportunity to choose whether we serve Him, obey Him, or indeed pay Him any attention at all.  As I thought once again about choosing, I was reminded that often our choices include a decision not to choose. Sounds like a conundrum I know, but let me explain.  30 years ago when I gave up smoking it was an agonizing process, but the key was to make the choice that I was no longer going to make a choice. When offered a cigarette or confronted with the “ harmless” desire for “just one”, the choice that I wasn’t going to smoke had already been made.  I chose not to “choose” any more but to practice reminding myself of the choice I had made.

The importance of this idea is that we can make choices when we are able to think carefully away from the situational pressures that can cause us to slip up before we know it. For instance are there particular circumstances when your own vulnerabilities sing their alluring melody; those things that always cause you to loose your temper, eat what you shouldn’t, or purchase something you don’t need or can’t afford? Remember, as the old chorus used to say, “ Yield not to temptation for yielding is sin!” Note- being tempted is not sin, only “yielding” and yielding is choosing. One of the most significant areas in which choosing not to choose makes an enormous difference is in the choices we make about sexual activity. If we make the choice to practice purity before we embark on a relationship, when the pressure is on we can fall back on a choice already made and so choose not to choose.

So as we respond each day to Joshua’s challenge to choose whom we are going to serve, are there some decisions we should make right at the outset? This will mean that as time goes on, there will not be so many “choices” but instead reminders of decisions made long ago.

 

Posted January 17, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

No dieting!   Leave a comment

Some times it feels like a “Christian diet,” or maybe a way of getting God’s attention so He will  pay more attention to our prayers. Yes its that time again, time for what has become part of our pattern at New Life Christian Fellowship, time to start the New Year with a fast. Next Monday we will begin our 21day fast for 2012. Of course it’s not a weight loss program or an attention getting device neither is it something only for those who are especially spiritual. We do it to be obedient to the words of Jesus in Matthew 6. As part of His Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks of “when we give” v2, “when we pray”v5 and “when we fast” v16 . But why does Jesus say this is so important?

I believe God gave us a clue on January 1 when we thought about the way Joshua challenged the people of Israel to choose who they would serve Joshua 24. That choice is every bit as important for us today as it was then. If we are going to serve Jesus it is imperative that we set aside time to listen to Him and our time of fasting is just that, to free up time to give God our undivided attention.

To help in this process we have prepared a booklet, which gives some practical suggestions about how to prepare. At the end of this blog there is a list of additional programs and materials that you could use. The prayer meeting in my office each Wednesday provides a great opportunity encourage and pray for each other. There will be additional times when folk can pray and be prayed for at 5:30-6:30am in the “cry room next to the sanctuary (enter by the outside office door) and at the Quartermaine’s home (1336 Crespi Drive) each evening (except Wednesday) 7:30-8:30pm. Whether you come for 5 minutes or the whole hour is not important , they are times to help us focus on the task in hand.

I cannot emphasise enough the NEED TO PLAN. If you do not make a clear and specific plan truthfully it probably will not happen! IT is also very important to share with anyone who will be effected by any changes you make in your schedule so that it does not come as a surprise.

“Not often, but every once in a while, God brings us to a major turning point—a great crossroads in our life. From that point we either go toward a more and more slow, lazy, and useless Christian life, or we become more and more on fire, giving our utmost for His highest—our best for His glory”. Oswald Chambers

It is my prayer that these three weeks will be one of those “major turning points” for each of us as individuals as well as our church fellowship.

Books and Additional Resources

“Fasting” and “The Fasting Edge” Jentzen Franklin

Awakening, 21 days to revolutionize your relationship with God” Stovall Weems

(A limited quantity of these books will be available at the Information Table for $10)

http://www.markbatterson.com/uncategorized/21-day-prayer-challenge/

http://www.awake21.org/

The You Version Bible app has a 21 day fasting reading plan: http://www.youversion.com/reading-plans/21-day-fast

Posted January 12, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

Choosing   Leave a comment

To begin our new year and as we prepare for our fast on January 16th (more about that later) here are a few thoughts from the message last Sunday. The importance of  “choosing” came home to me powerfully, the things that we choose to do and those we chose not to do! Often the latter is harder than the former and how are we supposed to make these choices.

As he approached the end of his life Joshua reminded the people of all the things God had done for them in the past, the promises He had kept, the words He had fulfilled, the grace and patience He had shown them. As we look back we can see so many amazing things that God has done in and with us and these should be a powerful encouragement to commit to all that he has for us in 2012. So lets remind ourselves of our mission statement and vision and ask our selves and each other challenging questions.

Our Mission: We exist to Connect, Grow and Serve

Our Vision: To be a church that is known in Pacifica, in the World and in Hell!

Connections

How is my “connection” with God? What am I doing to make it stronger and deeper? What connections have we made over the past year and how strong are they? What connections would God have me make in the coming year? Are their any connections that have be damaged or broken? What can I do to repair and heal the damage?

Growth

Ask someone (not a member of your fan club!)

Where have you seen me grow over the past year?

In which areas do you think I need to grow?

Then our choice of course is what am I going to do about it!!

Serve

Where am I serving? Where would God have me step up in the year to come? Will that mean setting something down or handing it off?

Our Covenant

We are drawn together as a church family by the covenant we make with God and with each other. Have you signed that covenant yet? Is that a step of commitment God would have you make this year?

Finally Joshua does not ask the people what they are going to do he asks who they are going to serve. I guess you could ask the same question in the form of a challenge I first heard from George Barna. This year Are we going to “go to” church or “be” the church. Will we make our first priority to listen to Him and obey? I guess the choice is yours and mine!

Posted January 6, 2012 by jolm15 in Uncategorized