Thursday, January 25, 2018

How to say "YES"

Are you feeling overwhelmed; like there is so much to do, but you don’t have enough time to get it all done? Are you always late for appointments? Are you so busy with activities that you find yourself double-booked too often?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these, you probably are suffering from a time management problem. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the problem: Manage your time better. Duh!

Let me give a tip that may help you manage your time better. It’s really a simple principle: Every time you say ‘yes’ to something, say ‘no’ to something else. The principle reminds us that we can’t do everything. We can’t afford everything. We can’t attend, sign up our children, or be involved in everything (even though many of us try.)

You can’t say ‘yes’ to everything. The choice is yours as to what you will say ‘yes’ to and what you will say ‘no’ to. Let me give you some examples. If you say ‘yes’ to exercise, you have to say ‘no’ to sleeping in later in the morning. If you say ‘yes’ to eating healthy, you have to say ‘no’ to chips, candy bars, andsnacking. If you say ‘yes’ to eating together as a family, you have to say ‘no’ to running your kids everywhere. If you say ‘yes’ to being in a Life Group, you will have to say ‘no’ to something else when your Life Group meets. If you say ‘yes’ to the golf course every Saturday, you will have to say ‘no’ to some other activity.

By the way, this principle is true of church ministries too. No church can say ‘yes’ to every kind of music, dress, style, and service time. Churches say ‘yes’ to the one they believe fits them the best with what God wants to accomplish through them.

The point of the principle is we need to understand the implications. When you say ‘yes’ to something, you say ‘no’ to something else, maybe multiple things, but it happens every time. Most of us want to do everything, be liked by everybody, and never want to miss out, so we say ‘yes’ too much. Remember this: It’s okay to say ‘no.’ In fact, take a deep breath right now and say ‘no’ out loud.

It is also necessary that when you say ‘yes,’ you do so strategically. When we say ‘yes’ strategically, we live more strategically. Is it more strategic to exercise or sleep in? Is it more strategic to eathealthy or snack? Is it more strategic to have family meals together or run the kids everywhere? Only you can answer these questions for you.

However, if you find yourself hectically busy, overwhelmed, and feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day, try this time management principle of “every time you say ‘yes’ to something, say ‘no’ to something else” and see if it makes a positive difference in your life.
Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott
P.S. Do you know that what you wear matters? We may not like it, but people judge the inside by the outside. Who I identify with is revealed by what I wear. What does this mean for us as Christ followers? Join me this week at 9:00 AM or 10:30 AM to discover the meaning.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Expectations. Should the Church have some?

Last week someone asked me, “What do you expect from those who attend First Free?” I first responded with, “What a great question.” Most of the time I get asked about programs, ministries, views about certain doctrines, but rarely an expectation question.

My answer comes from our partnership covenant that we ask every partnering attender to sign. It really challenges if you have made two commitments based on 2 Corinthians 8:5. First, a commitment to Christ personally. In other words, you have trusted in Him as your Savior. Second, you have made a commitment to one another in the context of a local church.

We expect people (yes, expect) to protect the unity of the church by acting in love (Romans 14:19) towards other partners, refusing to gossip (Ephesians 4:29), and following the leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

Second, we expect them to share the responsibility of the church by praying for its growth (1 Thessalonians 1:2), inviting their unchurched friends to attend (Luke 14:23-24), and warmly welcoming anyone who visits.

Third, we expect people to serve the ministry of the church by discovering their gifts and talents (1 Peter 4:10), being equipped to serve- with the help of our pastors (Ephesians 4:11-12), and developing a servant's heart (Philippians 2:3-4, 7).

A fourth expectation we have is to support the church by attending faithfully (Hebrews 10:25), living a godly life (Philippians 11:27), and giving regularly to the church (1 Corinthians 16:2).

All of these expectations are based on the Bible and are the desires of Jesus for the church He is building. If you would like to learn more about this expectation and commitment and become a partnering member, contact Brian Abbott or Julie Florom, or call the church office at 402.483.7635.

Together as partners, I know we can accomplish our mission: to introduce people to Jesus Christ, develop them into full, devoted followers, and equip them to reach their neighborhoods.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Do you ever feel a weight is on your back because you keep holding on to something you know God wants you to let go of? You tried to master it, but it seems to keep mastering you. What do you do? Join us this week at 9:00 AM or 10:30 AM as we discover some answers to your questions.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Throw a Party in 2018

One of the things I love most about Jesus is His love for all people, even those people many of us as Christ followers don’t want to be around. One of those people was Jesus’ disciple Matthew. He later became one of Jesus’ biographers.

Matthew was one of the last guys you’d want on your team if you were trying to impress good religious folks. He was a crook. He ran with a bad crowd. He was a party animal and participated in those things that party animal implies.

But in spite of all that, or maybe I should say especially in light of those things, Jesus reached out to him and asked him to join His team. As a result, Matthew followed Him (Matthew 9:9).

Matthew was so excited, he threw a party for all his wild and notorious friends, just so they could meet Jesus. And they all had a great time.

But of course, the Pharisees (the religious crowd) were appalled. They asked the disciples ‘Why does your teacher eat with such scum?’ (Matthew 9:11 NLT) They thought, ‘If Jesus is supposed to be so holy, why would he run with such a rough crowd?

Jesus’ answer is masterfully stated, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor- sick people do. For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners’ (Matthew 9:12-13).

I love this story for two reasons. First, if you are a Matthew or like Matthew, never forget that Jesus loves you. He demonstrated that love for you by dying on a cross, the substitute for your sin and was raised from the dead. Anyone who believes in Him has eternal life.

Second, Matthew threw a party for his friends, not caring what the religious crowd thought. I wish we, as Christ followers, would be more like Matthew. Hang out with people who are far from God, yes people whose lifestyles we would not approve of or participate in. Love them and invite them into our homes to have fun- wholesome, clean fun.

Who are you hanging out with that is far from God; a neighbor, classmate, or coworker? Why not throw a party for them and some of their other friends who are far from God?

Pray that God would use that party to begin a relationship, a connection with them that would lead to other times of connection. Throw a party! This year, let’s intentionally invest in people who are far from God and ask God to open doors for us to influence them and point them to the cross of Jesus. Remember our mission: inviting people to trust in Jesus, developing them into fully devoted followers, and equipping them (and us) to reach our city.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Getting Off to a Fresh Start

How are your New Year’s resolutions working? Researchers tell us about 1/3 of Americans make them each year. It’s human nature to want to do better. But, it’s also human nature to fail. Research tells us most resolutions last about three days to three weeks and by February we are back in the old patterns we had promised ourselves we’d leave behind. Only 10% of us succeed in our resolutions. We often fail because we underestimate how difficult it is to change.

Did you know the month January was named after the Roman god Janus? Janus is depicted as having two faces- one looking back at the old year with regret and the other face looking forward to the New Year with hope. The Romans understood that at the start of a New Year, we can’t help but be hopeful of improvement.

Are you looking back on 2017 with sadness or see failure in the old year? As you start 2018, do you have a desire to do things differently? May I suggest three things you should do when you get a fresh start this New Year? This comes from the Apostle Paul, writing to the Philippians in chapter 3, verses 8-14.

First, if you want a new start, you must forget the things which are behind (read Philippians 3:13). Forget about your failures. Don’t obsess over them, confess them (1 John 1:9), and learn from them. Don’t let past failures define you, let God’s grace define you.

But past failures are not all we need to forget. We need to forget past successes, too. Sometimes success leads to being content, lazy, and becoming useless rather than useful. Give God your very best in 2018. Learn from your past; don’t yearn for the past.

Second, if you want a new start, you’ve got to focus on the things before you (read Philippians 3:13b-14). You run the race at hand. Not last year’s race. That one is over. The race demands your whole self. The race demands your very best. Never be satisfied with less than your best.

You run the race with the goal in mind. What is the goal? To receive the crown. In this case, it’s living my life becoming more Christ-like so when the race is over, I will hear the words, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’

To be like Jesus. That’s the goal. That’s the prize. For me, that means I’m going to pray and study the word of God more. I’m going to be more intentional about reaching my neighbors with the gospel. I’m going to confront debilitating patterns of sin. I’m going to work hard to build community at First Free. I’m going to make sure my grandkids are in church on a regular basis. I’m going to quit comparing myself to others. My list could go on and on.

Third, if you want a new start for a New Year, you need to fulfill those things that are beyond us (Philippians 3:12). No one would have found fault with Paul had he reached this place in his life and said, ‘You know, I think I’m gonna retire… I’ve worked hard. I’ve served the Lord faithfully all these years. I’ve put myself out there. It’s time to do a little something for me.’

But he didn’t say that- instead, he said, ‘I haven’t attained what I want to attain. I have not reached the place I want to be. I’m not finished yet. Paul would not be satisfied until he took his last breath giving his all to Jesus. He did a work beyond him, paying a price few would be willing to pay- to serve the Lord.

Are you sold out, utterly committed to Jesus? It’s a great time to start. It’s a New Year, choose to make it a great one.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Have you ever been left out of a secret? Have you ever been the focus of a secret? How did it make you feel? This Sunday at 9:00 and 10:30, we will discover God’s most important secret which He has revealed.