Thursday, September 24, 2015

Have you ever been in a crowded room and felt all alone?  Have you experienced that loneliness even in a church setting?

Just like Nebraska has four seasons there are many seasons in life.  Everybody at one time or another will experience a season of loneliness.  Ask any leader of a company, a pastor, a student who stood for something he/she believes in.  We all will face loneliness at some point in life.

What causes loneliness?  A lack of relationship with another person can be one reason.  The very first thing that God said is not right about the earth is loneliness.  (Read Genesis 2:18)

Change can cause loneliness.  Life is a series of transitions some good, some bad, some ugly and these can cause isolation.  With every change, and the culture is in constant change, you’re letting go of something.  Letting go of routine, what you like can cause loneliness.

Opposition can cause loneliness.  My five year old granddaughter felt lonely when one of her friends wouldn’t play with her on the playground.  Being ganged up on, called names, not being understood hurts.  And during those times you experience loneliness.

It also is true of rejection.  Ever been betrayed by a spouse or friend?  Been abandoned by others for a decision you made?  Forsaken?  God designed us with a deep emotional need to be accepted.  When people we thought were loyal are not, or people we thought we could count on we can’t, it hurts.

So what do you do when loneliness strikes?  Remember, God feels it to.  He sees it, He cares about the heartache in your heart.  He cares about how you feel.  Jesus felt all alone in the garden and on the cross.  He can identify with our pain.  (Read Hebrews 4:15-16)

Not only can we remember God understands, but we can make the best of a bad situation.  Resist the temptation to do nothing.  Take some action.  Discover a hobby, learn a new skill, join a life group, travel or find a new friend.  Any action is better than not action.

Last of all when loneliness strikes you, rest in God’s presence.  When you’re lonely it’s natural to ask, “Where’s God?”  He’s where He’s always been, right beside you.  He is with you even if you do not feel it. (Read John 14:18)


P.S. Have you ever felt that you don’t measure up to everybody else’s standards or expectations?  Ever feel like you’re stuck in a spiritual rut?  These things just drain you of any happiness or joy.  What can you do to reach the next level of joy in your life?  Come Sunday 9:15 or 11:00 and discover how to experience joy in your life’s journey.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

1 + 1 + 1 Initiative

Invite a Friend Day has been scheduled for Sunday, October 11th. We are asking everybody who regularly attends First Free to spend time, beginning now until October 11th involving themselves in the one plus one plus one initiative. You simply pray for one minute (in the shower, in the car, at lunch, on a coffee break, watching a sports event, etc…) for one of your unchurched friends (maybe a family member, classmate, neighbor, employer, employee, anybody who doesn’t attend a church) once a day (you choose the best time in your schedule).

At some point between now and October 11th we want you to invite the friend or friends you have been praying for to join you at church. After the service, go to brunch or lunch or have them over to your house. Two out of three unchurched people say they would go to church with a friend if they were invited.

I know every Sunday could be considered an invite a friend day, but I also realize that expecting everyone to do that 52 times a year is unrealistic. But two or three times a year is very realistic.

When you invite your friend they will hear some great music, a message about something they can relate to and have an enjoyable experience. October 11th begins a new series entitled “Beyond 9:00 to 5:00: Transforming the way you work.” Everybody wants more meaning in their work regardless if they are retired, a stay at home mom, or in the beginning, middle or end of their career. We will talk about how to discover that meaning. Hope to see you on Invite a Friend Day! Until then, take a minute, once a day, to pray for one of your unchurched friends. 

P.S. Want people to see you as reliable, trustworthy and loyal? Would others say you are a team player and enjoyable to be around? Are others encouraged when they have spent time with you? You may think, “What do these questions have to do with finding joy in my journey?” Come this Sunday at 9:15am or 11:00am and discover the answer. Bring a friend with you. 





Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Facts are our Friends

Facts are our friends, and what one does with the facts really shows if he understands a particular situation.  Let me give you some facts about the unchurched and those who are not familiar with the context of the church.
  • 73% of unchurched 20-29 year old Americans consider themselves ‘spiritual’ because they want to know more about ‘God or a higher supreme being.’
  • 89% of unchurched young adults say they would listen to what someone believes about Christianity.
  • 63% of young adults said they would attend church if it presented truth to them in an understandable way ‘that relates to my life now.’
  • 58% of 20 somethings would be more likely to attend if people at the church ‘cared for them as a person.’
One of the most interesting facts to me is 77% of those young people who are self-identified as unchurched think that believing in Jesus makes a positive difference in a person’s life, yet they seem to be staying away from the church.  Why is this?

Because of perception.  67% believe the church is full of hypocrites.  39% believe that their lifestyles would not be accepted by most Christian churches.  90% think they can have a good relationship with God without the church.

Adding to the facts the reality that 61% are willing to study the Bible with a friend and 46% are willing to join a small group to learn more about the Bible and Jesus.

So what do these statistics show us? 
  • We live on a mission field.
  • We need a mission force.  Christianity influence is on the wane even though the unchurched are interested and open.
  • Current church goers aren’t investing in the unchurched and are not sharing the gospel.  61% of Christians have not shared the gospel in the last six months while 79% know it is their responsibility.
Therefore, might we have the courage to invest in the unchurched, share the gospel and fulfill our mission: To introduce people to Jesus Christ, develop them into fully devoted followers of Jesus, and equip them to reach their city and world?

P.S. You will not want to miss this Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 A.M.  Bring a friend as we discover how to heal a broken heart and experience some happiness again.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Nones Among Us.

A couple of years ago, Cathy Lynn Grossman, writing for USA Today, did an article on religion in America.  Her research led her to conclude that Protestants in America are declining and people with no religion, ‘nones’, are rising in number.
Protestants are less than half of Americans, while ‘nones’ are one in five.  What this means is that there are now more ‘nones’ in the United States than any other denomination.
Warren Bird from Leadership Network writes, “More that 1 out of every 3 adults, 33% in America is unchurched.  This means they haven’t attended a religious service of any type during the past year.  This represents some 125 million Americans.  That number alone would be the 10th largest country in the world.”
What do all of these statistics mean?  That America is a mission field.  Of course, it always has been.  Reaching people with the gospel always starts in your own neighborhood and moves outward (Acts 1). You don’t have to get on a plane, learn a new language, new cultural setting to be on the mission field.  You are living on a mission field!
This doesn’t mean that the people in other countries are less important than the people in Nebraska.  It just means that the church is missing its easiest target – our neighbors, friends, classmates and co-workers.
Don’t you love living in a place where you’re needed?  I like being a missionary 24/7.  Hopefully, you see yourself as a missionary, at least always thinking like one.  Salt does no good in the shaker.
Luke 10:2 tells us, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field.”
It’s great to ask the Lord to send workers.  We should keep doing that.  But we should also remember that each one of us is to be counted among those workers.  So be one of the workers by looking around every day and reaching out to the ‘nones’ in your own backyard.

P.S. Discouraged? Tempted? Worried? Fearful? Insurmountable problems? Can’t cope another day? Everyone against you? If you can relate to any of these you won’t want to miss our services this week at 9:15 and 11:00 and discover the pathway to happiness.