Compassion and Mission of Hope

One of the great joys Janet and I have together is supporting children through Compassion International and Mission of Hope Haiti.  We’ve been Compassion sponsors for over 20 years and a Mission of Hope sponsor for about 5 years.

I love getting letters from the children we support.  Fidel shares my birthday and lives in Kenya.  Jerry shares my wife’s birthday and lives in Peru.  Sande’s birthday is this month and lives in Rwanda.  Christie’s birthday is in July and lives in Haiti.

Jesus said the poor we will always have with us so that means we’ll always have opportunities to help children and families around the world.  I believe God blesses generosity and when you support a child through Compassion, Mission of Hope or another Christian Mission Organization you will be blessed and be a blessing.   It costs very little to support a child and provide for their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  Supporting these children also makes it possible for them to get the education they need to make a difference in their country or the world.  I’d encourage you to consider sponsoring a child.  We may never get to see these children in this lifetime, but I look forward to seeing them in heaven.

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Chewbacca Mom Candace Payne

I’m excited we’re having Candace Payne at Grace Fellowship tomorrow for Mother’s Day.  I met Candace over 20 years ago when she was a crazy creative camp sponsor at Cross Camp where we took our students in the summer.  She was funny then and she’s funny now.  She had a unique talent!  She’d ask the kids in large group sessions to give her three or four words (any word they wanted) and she’d make up a song on the spot using all their words!   What was even more amazing was that the song was always good!

Candace is an author, speaker and viral sensation whose video of trying on a Chewbacca Mask became the most-viewed Facebook Live video to date (170+ million views). She shares her message of joy and laughter through media appearances and a robust speaking and appearances schedule that includes women’s groups, churches, festivals, conferences, and organizations around the country. Candace’s first book, Laugh It Up: Embrace Freedom and Experience Defiant Joy, and the accompanying small-group curriculum, Defiant Joy: What Happens When You’re Full Of It (both Zondervan), are available now. Her next book, Simple Joys: Discovering Wonder in the Everyday, releases in September 2018. Candace lives in Texas with her husband, two children, and ornery pugs. Connect with her online atCandacePayne.me.

I’m stoked to have Candace with us for Mother’s Day!  If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join us at 8:30, 10:00 or 11:30 am at Grace Fellowship.   You can find out more at GF.Church

 

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CRITICISM

In my reading from What Radical Husbands Do by Regi Campbell this morning, I was engaged with his chapter on acceptance and criticism. This book is about the role of husbands in marriage and I double dog dare you guys (men) to read it.

I was even more engaged with this chapter because we’re in a series right now called MY BIG FAT MOUTH and two weeks ago my message was on CRITICISM.

In the message I said: “Look – I understand constructive criticism & ask for it from our staff here at Grace. But True Constructive Criticism comes from pure motives. It includes good timing & tone, an element of encouragement & always has the best interests of the other person in mind.”  

In other words, I want them to tell me when I’m wearing something that doesn’t work well with the camera or when I use churchy words that may not make sense to people. I want them to tell me when an illustration doesn’t work well or something didn’t make sense. I want to be a better communicator. However, I wouldn’t like it if they said YOU really stunk it up today and listed all the things they thought I did wrong (like the two young men I talked about in my message on criticism). I guess the most important thing here is that I’m much more open when a relationship of trust exists.

What I read from Regi even challenged this. He made the simple statement that “criticism stems from judgment” and when you’re critical you set yourself up as the judge. Regi also said: “Criticism requires a standard of comparison” and there’s rarely an objective standard of comparison.

I think it’s difficult for us to offer true constructive criticism because we don’t have an objective standard of comparison. In light of this, we’d all do better to hold our tongue when it comes to criticism and use it wisely by dishing out a lot of affirmation and acceptance.

I know we have to evaluate things and have standards, but Jesus words need to be in the center of our minds and hearts each day…    Jesus said: “’Do not judge others, and you will not be judged…The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.’” Matthew 7:1-2 NLT

Just my random thoughts from this morning.

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Nuff Said

I have to do a personal heart check here too! If you’re a follower of Christ, how are you doing following/obeying this one verse? Complaining? Criticizing? Lying? Gossiping?

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When Your Wife Has Contempt For Your Worship

What do you do when your wife has contempt for the way you worship?  I’ve never experienced this, but David, the King of Israel did.

I’m reading through the Bible and part of my reading this morning was from 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 15-16.  David who is now the King of all Israel decides to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem.  The Ark was one of the most significant reminders to the Israelites of the presence and power of God.  It was also significant in terms of their worship of The Lord God.

When they finally brought the Ark back to Jerusalem it was a time for celebration, praise and worship.  A choir of Levite singers and musicians who played harps, lyres and cymbals were a part of this celebration.  2 Samuel 6:12-15 reminds us that it was a great celebration of worship and David danced before the Lord with all his might.  There were shouts of joy and blasts of rams’ horns.

1 Chronicles 15:29 tells us King David danced and skipped about with laughter and joy, but his wife Michal was filled with contempt for him.  Micah judged and criticized David’s response to this great occasion; she did not think his style of expressing praise and worship was reverent enough for the King.  In 2 Samuel 6, David reminded her that he would celebrate in worship before the Lord and was willing to “look foolish” and even be “humiliated in my own eyes” because of my joy and praise of the Lord.

2 Samuel 6:23 is an interesting verse.  It says: “So Michal…remained childless throughout her life.”

This was interesting to me in light of the current series we’re in at Grace Fellowship called My Big Fat Mouth as we dealt with criticism yesterday.  As Jesus said: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’  Matthew 7:1-2 NIV

 

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WORDS

We had a great day today at Grace Fellowship as we continued the series: MY BIG FAT MOUTH.  David Knight shared an acrostic with me after the service.  I told him it was great and asked if I could use it!  It’s a great reminder of the truth we learned today using the acrostic “WORDS”…

W atch your tongue

O bey God’s Word

R enew your mind

D on’t judge others

S peak Life

 

 

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Change Your Mouth by Changing Your Mind

We recently had Ted and Nancie Lowe with us at Grace Fellowship. Ted spoke about the power of words and said God has hardwired our brains (our heart & mind) so that words matter!   I couldn’t agree more.

If we want to speak in a way that honors God and builds others up, I believe we need to rewire our brains (hearts & minds) by allowing God to renew us from the inside out by submitting to Him and His Word.

I was a science teacher at one point, and loved doing experiments.  In one experiment,  students had to figure out how to get a gas (that was heavier than oxygen) out of a test tube without inverting the test tube.  The answer was simple: put something in the test tube that’s more solid than the gas.  They had to fill the test tube with water or another liquid to force the gas out.

In the same way, if I want to remove the junk that’s settled in my mind over years of wrong thinking and sinful habits, I need something solid to force it out and replace it.  The Word of God is the one thing that can remove and replace the junk that’s been stored in my mind.  However, for God to do His work in me, I have to submit to Him and His Word.  Knowledge of God’s Word alone isn’t what’s required; I must also submit to it to experience the life-changing power of God in order to renew my mind.

Here are a few passages that came to mind.

Jesus said: “But what people say with their mouths comes from the way they think; these are the things that make people unclean.” Matthew 15:18 NCV

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 NIV

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 NIV

How can a young person keep their life pure? By living according to your word. I trust in you with all my heart. Don’t let me wander away from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart so that I won’t sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11 NIrV

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.   Philippians 4:8 NLT

Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say. Psalm 141:3 NCV

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23 NASB

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29 NIV

 

 

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Do All Things Without COMPLAINING

We’re currently in a series where we’re talking about the power of words.

Proverbs 12:18 NCV says “Careless words stab like a sword, but wise words bring healing.”

“Careless words” include COMPLAINING.

In Philippians 2, Paul said we should have the attitude of Christ which includes:  “Do everything without complaining…” (Phil. 2:14 GNT)

Sometimes our circumstances are difficult and we’ll be tempted to complain, but Paul says do all things without complaining.   If you can change your circumstances in a way that honors God, change them.  If not, change your perspective.

I’m reminded of a great example of this in the life of my friend Del Pitts.

Del was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in October, 2014.   He and his wife Christi were determined to trust God and be examples for Christ regardless of the outcome.  Never once did Del say: “Why me?”

Even with weekly chemo and daily radiation treatments, Del continued to serve faithfully on the Parking Lot Team at Grace Fellowship and worked as much as he could.

In February, 2015, he had a major surgery to remove most of his esophagus and part of his stomach.  As Christi says, the doctors, nurses and other patients loved him because of his great smile, attitude and his way of encouraging the other patients on his floor of the hospital.

He went back to work in the summer of 2015, but one of his vocal chords became paralyzed and he had another round of chemo in August.

In February/March 2016 the cancer came back with a vengeance and metastasized.  The doctor gave Del months to live; several months longer if he continued with chemo.  Del chose no more chemo because he wanted to live out the rest of his life enjoying his family, serving God and feeling as good as he could.

The next weekend he was back in the Parking Lot at Grace Fellowship, serving Jesus with the guys he loved so much.

On April 30 there was a big party for Del with family and friends. It was filled with fun, love and laughter!

Christi told us the last week of his life, Del had such a profound peace that there are no words to describe it.   Only God can provide that kind of peace and Del loved God with his whole heart.  Del had no doubts about where he would spend eternity.

Even in this stage of life and cancer, Del was an encourager.  He told Christi: “I learned to love Jesus by watching you love Jesus and I will forever be grateful to you for that.”

It was so important to Del that people could see his faith in Jesus through his battle with cancer.  He told his friends that he was going to win either way; he was going to be healed or he was going to be in heaven with Jesus.

Del once again served in the Parking Lot on May 22, and went to be with his Lord on May 26.

“Do everything without complaining…” Philippians 2:14 GNT

BJ RUTLEDGE

LEAD PASTOR  GF.CHURCH

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God Gives The Victory

We had a phenomenal Easter at Grace Fellowship; huge crowds and many people who made decisions to trust Christ.  I’m grateful for the faithfulness of our staff, volunteers and people to pray and invite.  I’m also grateful for the hard work of our staff and volunteers, but am reminded that it is God who receives the glory and praise for what is taking place at Grace.

Reading in Judges 7 this morning reminded me that God will not give us the victory if we want to claim any credit! God told Gideon (Jerub-Baal) to attack the Midianite army. Gideon had 32,000 men, but check out what God told him.

Early in the morning Jerub-Baal and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. Jerub-Baal was another name for Gideon. The camp of Midian was north of Gideon’s camp. It was in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “I want to hand Midian over to you. But you have too many men for me to do that. Then Israel might brag, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Judges 7:1-2 NIrV

And Gideon ended up with only 300 men to attack the entire Midianite army.

The Lord spoke to Gideon. He said, “With the help of the 300 men who lapped up the water I will save you. I will hand the Midianites over to you. Let all the other men go home.”  Judges 7:7 NIrV

If you read all of Judges 7, you’ll find that the Lord routed the army of Midian using Gideon and his 300 men. They made themselves available to serve the Lord and had faith the God would give them the victory, but it was the Lord who gave the victory.

If we’re not careful, we can be deceived into thinking we’re responsible for the “success” we have in ministry. We have to be available, have faith and do the task God’s given us, but it is God who gives the victory.

As I was reading this, I also thought of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed,Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.  10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1-11 NIV

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PRAY FOR AND INVITE YOUR PEEPS TO EASTER AT GRACE

There are 5 days until our Easter Services on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1.  I hope you’ll join me in praying for churches around the world who celebrate the Risen Lord, and you’ll pray for and invite people to attend our Easter Services at Grace.

When it comes to prayer, one thing Jesus taught was: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 NIV

I’m Asking You To INVITE

When telling the story of “The Great Banquet” which was about the people who will accept His invitation and join Jesus eternally in His Kingdom in heaven, He used “the master” to represent God.   Jesus said: “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.”  Luke 14:23 NIV

In the parable, Jesus said everyone is INVITED even though some will refuse to attend.  The parable is about INVITING people to be part of God’s Kingdom.  The Church is people, not a building.  You’re part of the Church if you’re a Christian, and the Church is the primary instrument Jesus chose to carry out His mission of INVITING people into His Kingdom.  Please know we will partner with you to tell people about Jesus if you INVITE them to Grace.

I’m asking you to PRAY for people to be SAVED

When Jesus began to preach He said: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17)  To be “saved”  includes repentance (turning from your sins to trust Jesus) where you believe in and receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior.

Paul who violently persecuted Christians in the first century eventually became a Christian because he had a personal encounter with Jesus after Jesus was raised from the dead.  He was an eyewitness of the resurrection and wrote much of the New Testament including the following words…

“I urge, then, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority…This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…”   1 Timothy 2:1-6 NIV 

When you pray for people to be saved by trusting Jesus, you are praying for God’s will to be done.  Pray for people you know who need to trust Christ, and pray for our services too; that many people will choose to trust and follow Christ this weekend.

Thank you!  I’m joining you in praying for Easter and inviting people to attend our services!

 

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