Judging By The Cover

Do you remember when God told Samuel that he doesn’t judge as others judge? “People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Our challenge is to do the same. We need to remind ourselves that the past doesn’t always equal the present. The outside doesn’t always reveal what’s inside. Your immediate impression may not be your most accurate impression.

What if today you learned to look at each circumstance — and each person along the way — with a fresh perspective, free from any pre-programmed bias?

Can you imagine how just being neutral might open new doors and create new possibilities?

Forgive & Forget

Forgive and Forget. We know that these two words belong together.

To forgive is just a matter of choice. To forget is often a matter of several choices, because it might be necessary to “forget” more than once.

Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was confronted one day with the memory of a betrayal she had experienced years before, but she acted as if she had never heard of the incident.

A friend asked her, “Don’t you remember what that person did?”

“No,” Clara Barton said. “I distinctly remember forgetting it.”

It may be that today you need to make the intentional choice (more than once) to remember to forget an offense that has come your way … just as God has chosen to forget our own offenses.

One Week To Live

What would you do if you knew you had only week to live? Would you go away? Would you go home? Would you do some last minute sinning, followed by some last minute repenting? Would you be sad? Angry? Hopeful? Afraid? How would you spend those final hours?

Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (John 13:1)

When Jesus had one week to live, he chose to wash his disciples’ feet. He did the work of a common slave, ministering to those who were closest to him. He washed their feet (John 13), he comforted them (John 14), he encouraged them (John 15-16), prayed for them (John 17), and then he died for them. He spent the last week of his life fulfilling his purpose; he spent the last week of his life being a servant.

…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

You and me, we have a week to live: this week — and most probably hundreds more. I want to spend this week fulfilling my purpose, doing that which is most important in terms of eternity: serving Christ by serving others.

May that be your goal as well!

When That Happens; God Does This

When I fall, He lifts me up!
When I fail, He forgives!
When I am weak, He is strong!
When I am lost, He is the way!
When I am afraid, He is my courage!
When I stumble, He steadies me!
When I am hurt, He heals me!
When I am broken, He mends me!
When I am blind, He leads me!
When I am hungry, He feeds me!
When I face trials, He is with me!
When I face persecution, He shields me!
When I face problems, He comforts me!
When I face loss, He provides for me!
When I face Death, He carries me Home!

It’s Almost Game Time!

Join us for an outdoor family service, then stay to watch the game and tailgate this Sunday, October 5, 11am!

We’ll be giving away some prizes; including some Eagles tickets to the Carolina Panthers game Monday night, November 10th and to the Dallas Cowboys game Sunday night, December 14th!

Bring your grills, grub, chairs, and tailgate games. We will also have hot dogs, french fries, popcorn, drinks for sale and a Chili Contest inside our Family Life Center.

During the game we will have activities for both adults and children. Parking will be at a premium that day so plan to arrive early and consider carpooling to help us conserve space. Tailgate Sunday will take the place of our annual Family Fall Festival for this year.

*This is a non-alcoholic event.

The Difference Between a Rut and a Routine

On a rugged highway somewhere in Alaska a warning sign says, “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next 50 miles.” Though I’m not fond of the word rut, this is actually good advice for life.

It would be better to say: “Choose your routine carefully. You’ll be tied to it for awhile. It determines what your future becomes, so make sure you’re comfortable with it.”

People often refer to the daily routine as if it’s a negative thing, as if it’s something you need to break in order to fully live. But what if your daily routine was designed in a way that could make your life everything you’ve dreamed it could be? Wouldn’t this be a routine worth living for?

David said, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Another way to say it: “Help us understand that life is short. What we do every day really matters.”

Our challenge is to organize our days in such a way — to create a daily routine that includes time for everything important. Stephen Covey said it this way: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Look at today’s to-do list. It will take you either somewhere good, or nowhere good.

It depends on whether you’ve chosen a rut or a routine.

Ha Ha Ha!

Here’s a great one to end your week with: Thanks to Tim Satryan for sharing. Some of you can relate to this:

An elderly couple had just learned how to send text messages on their cellphones. The wife was a romantic type, and the husband was more of a no-nonsense guy.

One afternoon the wife went out to meet a friend for coffee. She decided to send her husband a romantic text message, so she wrote: “If you are sleeping, send me your dreams. If you are laughing, send me your smile. If you are eating, send me a bite. If you are drinking, send me a sip. If you are crying, send me your tears. I love you.”

The husband texted back to her: “I’m using the bathroom. Please advise.”

Faith & Fashion

Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China in the mid-1800’s. He was considered radical because Taylor chose to dress, wear his hair, and use the mannerisms of the local Chinese culture. To many of the Western missionaries, this strategy was scandalous, and a sign of compromise.

It seems in every century the church has had a difficult time distinguishing between Christ and the ‘cultural clothing’ that we are most comfortable with religiously.

Suits and ties were not even invented until hundreds of years after Jesus walked the earth, but somehow they have been deemed the most appropriate attire for worship. Hudson Taylor’s contemporaries felt that Taylor should wear a tie (western formal clothing) if he wanted to be a good missionary.

And western missionaries have exported this cultural expectation around the world.

What Hudson Taylor did in wearing local cultural attire was really not that radical, it was simply wisdom. Any time we make our religious culture sacred, we actually begin to distract from the core message of Christ. People begin to measure spiritual maturity based on outward conformity to religious-looking standards, rather than alignment with the message and attitudes of Jesus.

So what is appropriate for a pastor to wear when he is ministering? What should a Christian wear to church? What most honors God? What best reaches people? Let me suggest a few guidelines:

1. Modesty – this is a lost value it seems in our culture, but it very important. Modesty implies an awareness of your impact on others. Does it flaunt my wealth? Am I wearing this to draw attention to myself? Is it at all seductive? Will it cause someone else to stumble because it is too revealing or too tight? (See 1 Peter 3:1-2)

2. Sensitivity – there are certain events that call for specific dress. Funerals are not casual occasions. Picnics are not formal. We should be aware of the time and place we are attending.

3. Relate-ability – I am not sure if that is a word, but here is what I mean: We should be aware of the culture we are trying to reach and dress it a way helps us connect with that culture.

4. Personality – It is possible to over-do this a bit. What we wear also needs to fit our personality. Teens don’t expect me to come wearing Van shoes, baggy jeans hanging off my hips, and chains around my neck…that would look like I am trying too hard. It would be a joke. I need to dress my age and within a realm of style that fits my person. But at the same time be aware of my surroundings and what will help make the best connection.

CLC is located in the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. A few years ago we did a study on the age of our guest to determine our most effective harvest potential. What we discovered is that we were attracting a large number of 40+unders. Young adults and young families are our most likely guest attendee.

This is a wonderful reality, because young adults and young families also happen to the be the generation at greatest risk for being unchurched or de-churched. So we have targeted this demographic as our primary audience as we reach out.

With that discernment came a decision about attire. I chose to stop wearing a suit every week (which gave off the impression of a ‘power-business’ look) and chose to start wearing ‘nice-casual’ clothes instead. As soon as we made the switch, I heard from several different groups.

The more traditional folks felt it was a step backward and less than God-honoring. The younger people started to cheer the change. Then the statement that sealed the deal for me, was made by a young lady who was living in a women’s shelter. When she was a teen, she had attended CLC and felt like she just didn’t fit in (for a number of reasons).

One of her concerns in coming back to CLC (as a young mom now) was that she would not be ‘dressy’ enough to be accepted. When she saw me (the pastor) wearing jeans…she felt instantly at ease. She told me, “I realized that I didn’t have to pretend to be anything to be a part of this church. I couldn’t have afforded to dress up. What you wore told me that it was ok to come just as I was.’

One final thought: I REALLY DON’T CARE WHAT I WEAR. I am more comfortable in jeans than in a tie, yes. But I have chosen to limit my preferences by my purpose. I would wear a Scottish Kilt if it would help me reach people for Jesus. (not that I plan on doing that any time soon…you can relax). But I do think we can even choose our clothing with the goal of winning people to Jesus as our focus

Healthy Discontent

Have you ever wondered why God uses flawed people?

Think about it. God used Noah – a drunk, Abraham – a liar, Moses – a murderer, David – an adulterer, Jeremiah – who was depressed and suicidal, Elijah – a burned out prophet, Peter – the denier, and Saul – a killer. The list goes on and on. God often seemed to work through the most ordinary and unlikely people.

This is reassuring. It gives me hope!

I could be on that list too. I am flawed, dysfunctional and sinful.

But, I’m loved. God knows my flawed condition. He knows my fallen state, and he loves me anyway. He whispers in my ear, “There is a better way.”

In John 14:12 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I’m going to the Father.”

God can use me and he can use you in the work of the Kingdom!

How can God use? God looks past our flaws because he loves us and chooses us as a part of his unfolding plan. When we acknowledge our flaws and sins I’m convinced the Holy Spirit creates a healthy discontent within us that motivates us to find that “better way!”

It’s all about HOPE!

Hope is what keeps us going when everything in us wants to give up!

Hope is the glimpse of sunshine when the storms of life seem to be the most intense.

Hope is the big breath of air that fills our lungs when it seems as if we are drowning in our circumstances.

Hope is hearing a child’s laughter in the middle of your tears.

Hope is that flash of light when we are in the darkest place in life.

Hope is a blood stained cross that resulted in an empty tomb.

Hope is a RISEN SAVIOR who conquered death.

Hope is knowing that Jesus lives in me, and if He conquered death that He in me allows me to conquer anything life throws my way.

Hope is knowing that one day JESUS is coming back, not as a kid…but as a KING.

Hope is knowing that one day JESUS will take all that is wrong and make it right.

Hope is knowing that we are not alone in this world because of His promises to always be with us.

HOPE is what this world DESPERATELY NEEDS!!!

And…the message of the RESURRECTION is the message of HOPE!

People need hope!

Let’s do whatever it takes to get people here to an Easter Service at CLC so that they can and will hear the message of Jesus and give them HOPE!