Thursday, June 30, 2016

Are You Stuck in the Past?

Are you stuck in the past?  Do you feel guilty over something you did and just can’t get past it? Do you carry resentment towards someone who wronged you? You want to move on, but the resentment keeps raising its ugly head in your thoughts.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups that trap us and keep us looking back to the past instead of looking forward.
Guilt, resentment, and hurt keeps us stuck in the past. These things also keep us from growing and from becoming all God wants us to be.  If you want to enjoy your life, if you really want to experience the abundant life of Christ (John 10:10), you’ve got to learn how to let go of these kinds of things that keep us stuck in the past.
There are three things you can do to help you overcome the guilt, hurt, and resentment of the past.

1. Take a moral inventory of your life.  Lamentation 3:40 says ‘Let us examine our ways and test them.’
To take full advantage of this inventory you must get away alone and take a large chunk of time.  Make sure you have a pen and a piece of paper and write down what you’re feeling guilty about and why you feel you can’t forgive what someone did to you.  Express these things honestly and write them down.  Writing it down helps you be specific and avoid denying problems.
2. Accept responsibility for your faults.  Proverbs 20:27 says ‘The Lord gave us a mind and a conscience.  We cannot hide from ourselves.’ 
Your honesty may lead you to see that healing begins with you.  Don’t rationalize, don’t minimize and don’t blame others.  Maybe you have been deceiving yourself of why you are feeling guilty, or why you feel hurt so deeply.  Look at your list and admit your own faults. 
3. Admit your faults to God.  1 John 1:9 says ‘If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Confession means ‘saying the same thing about.’ 
It means you are saying to God the same thing about your faults – it is sin.
Go through your inventory and say to God ‘You’re right, God, it’s wrong, cleanse me.  This will free you from the guilt, the hurt, the hang up, and the un-forgiveness of others. When we confess our faults to God, we can claim His grace and forgiveness.  He wants to give you freedom, and He invites you to be honest, trusting that He will be gracious.


P.S. Do you ever feel the tension of submitting to the government in things you don’t agree with?  Is it ever okay to be disobedient to the governing authorities?  What is the government’s responsibility to me as a citizen?  You won’t want to miss Independence Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 as we answer these questions.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Be Our Guest

Two days ago I read a blog that captured my heart because it speaks to what I want First Free to become as a church. The blog was written by James Emery White, the pastor of Meckenburg Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.  White begins with the question ‘Have you been to Disney World?’

Some 20 million people attended Magic Kingdom alone in 2015.  That is only one out of four theme parks, so around 80 million people have been to Disney World.  What captured my interest more than how many people have been to Disney World, was the key to Disney World’s success.  It isn’t money, technology or the wow-factor of the rides.  The most frequently stated reason for guests returning is the cast – the employees.

Jeff James, vice president of the Disney Institute says, “200 million attractions won’t be fun if the cast member at the front is less than pleasant.”

The people at the Disney Institute spell out their entire approach to quality customer service in the book Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service.  They claim, “Quality service means exceeding your guests’ expectations by paying attention to every detail of the delivery of your products and services.” They have a saying, ‘Everything Speaks’.  Every detail from doorknobs to the dining room sends a message to our guests.

White then adds this thought: If only the church could be more like Disney World.  Not in terms of existing for mere entertainment and not in terms of a vision or providing ‘happiness.’ No, the church is much more than that.

We should ‘be like Disney World’ in the sense that our efforts to reach others is done with excellence so that it makes them want to return.

Where our ‘cast members,’ our regular attenders, are marked by friendliness and courtesy. Where ‘everything speaks’ from easy access to all floors to well-groomed facilities (inside and out.) That is what we are working for with The Church Appeal campaign.

God deserves our very best and we honor Him when we give Him our best. We do not want outdated carpet, dirty unpainted walls, smelly bathrooms, or any doorknob to speak against the message we are trying to convey. We want everything to communicate ‘be our guest.’

When it comes to serving guests, opening the front door and our interactions with guests should mirror our message and purpose. We should not only be like Disney, but put Disney to shame.

Let’s adapt the motto ‘Be Our Guest’ and let’s say it as well as Disney does. What can you do to make our guests want to return?


P.S. If you were God, would you have a ‘Hell’ in your plan? Would you send someone there? If God is a God of love, why is there a Hell? Join me this Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 AM as we look to the Bible for answers.