Thursday, May 24, 2018

Make Today Awesome!

Cindy and I spent a week with our daughter and son-in-law at their home in Westfield, Indiana as we celebrated our 42nd Anniversary. In the kitchen of their home is a plaque that says, ‘Make today awesome.’ It’s the first thing you see when you walk into the kitchen. It’s really a great mantra to remember.

The Bible would say it this way: ‘This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118:24). Shouldn’t we start every day remembering it’s the Lord who gives us this day?

Shouldn’t we live each day to the fullest? Jesus said it well: ‘The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.’ In other words, a life that counts. How do you live a life that counts? By making today awesome! But how do you do that? Here are a couple suggestions:

First, start your day rejoicing as Psalm 118:24 declares. Think about three things you are thankful for.

Second, live like today is your last. James 4:14 declares, ‘How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog- it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.’ So if today was your last- how would you live it? Hopefully, you’d say, ‘No different than how I am living it!’

Third, make the most of every opportunity. Paul says that we should be careful how we live, not foolishly but as people who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Everything we do should be done with eternity in mind. Everything you do today should be done with a ‘Would Jesus be pleased?’ attitude. Everything you do today should be controlled by the Spirit, not by your flesh.

Fourth, never stop praying (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Throughout your day be in an attitude of prayer. I often call this ‘arrow praying.’ Like shooting an arrow into the sky. I pray, ‘Lord, help me today. Lord, give me wisdom in this situation. Lord, forgive me for that attitude. Lord, protect me. Lord, thanks for watching over me.’ You get the idea.

These are just a few ways to ‘make today awesome.’ What would you add to the list? Email me your suggestions.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Let’s be honest: Parenting isn’t for wimps. We’ve all got questions about parenting young kids, maturing kids, adult kids, and grand kids. Where can you turn for some answers? Join us on Sunday at 9 and 10:30 AM for Biblical insight into some of your most pressing questions.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Try it on for size this summer

In our worship services, we often talk about being an outward-focused kind of church body. What do we mean by ‘outward-focused?’ Many things are included, but let me mention a couple of them.

First, an outward-focused church thinks about people who are far from God. We all have people in our spheres of life who do not know Jesus. They are far from God. God wants to use us to build meaningful relationships with them. As we build meaningful relationships with people far from God, we pray for open doors to share Jesus’ love with them. We recognize God is the one who ‘saves’ people from their sin, but He wants us to invite them to receive Him.

Second, being an outward-focused church has a Lincoln community presence. By this, I mean that our church would be missed if it wasn’t here because our involvement in our community through acts of service make a difference. We want to love our city, pray for our city, and make our city a better place to live. That is why we do things like our ‘Day of Service’ each April and community projects throughout the year.

The third thing we mean by outward-focused lies within the first point. We want people to share their faith in Christ without feeling awkward, uncomfortable, or unnatural. We want sharing the Good News to come naturally, just as you would feel talking about your favorite topic. We are developing people to discover how to share the life-changing story of Jesus on the golf course, over coffee, in the gym, taking a walk, and anywhere and everywhere else.

We have received some guidance to help us as a church from a book written by Pastor Kevin G. Harney, entitled Organic Outreach. Here is one simple idea I want to encourage you to try as you begin your journey with us on being a church of everyday outreach, or an outward-focused church. The author likes to ask servers in restaurants if they have any needs he can pray about. He says, ‘Hey when we get our food, we’re going to have a short prayer. If you think of anything we can pray about for you, just let us know when the food gets here.’

He said it’s amazing how many servers come back with a need. If they don’t, he doesn’t bring it up again. He saw even unbelievers wanting prayer. He says this little thing has opened doors for great conversations, friendships, authentic sharing, and presentations of the Gospel. The prayers aren’t forced or manipulated, just a natural part of the relationship.1

So try it! I am. Tell me what you discover.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott
P.S. Being a wife today is more confusing than ever. You’ve got TV shows, movies, magazine articles, and social media telling you how to look better, cook better, and be better as a wife. There’s got to be better advice out there.  There is!  Join us Sunday at 9 and 10:30 am to learn what the Bible says is important about being a godly wife.

1. Excerpts taken from Organic Outreach by Kevin G Harney. 117-118. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Great Summer Idea

With summer around the corner, I realize for many of us our schedules and routines change. School is out, vacations are awaiting, we stay up later because the sun sets later, and there are sports activities to fill our days and nights. Because of the change in routine and calendar changes, Life Groups usually take a break and Children’s Ministry and Student Ministries have more trips than their normal Wednesday activities. It’s easy to believe that summertime is one big vacation time and fall prey to what I call the ‘summer slump.’

But God doesn’t take a vacation. He never slumbers or sleeps. He is always with us. He never takes a break. He never experiences a summer slump.

To combat the summer slump spiritually, I want to share with you an idea my Life Group leader shared with our Life Group before breaking for the summer. If you’re in a Life Group and still meeting, I highly suggest you try this. If you are not in a Life Group, connect with 2-3 friends and try it. You can do it by yourself, but it’s far more effective if you try it with at least one other person.

Everybody needs a piece of paper (8.5 x 11), a pen, and a 3 x 5 note card. On the 8.5 x 11 paper, you write down everybody’s responses to the following question: “How do people grow spiritually?” My Life Group came up with about 20 ways. Here were some of the responses we had:
  • Read the Bible
  • Memorize Scripture
  • Journal your daily thoughts
  • Meditate on a passage and look for God’s characteristics
  • Take a walk in nature and enjoy creation
  • Pray consistently
  • Listen to Praise Music
  • Serve others
Our leader then directed us to look over the entire list and put a check mark by 3 or 4 of them that you think are the most important to you. Next, take the 3 x 5 note card and on the top of one side, put your name. Now write the 3 or 4 items you checked as a SMART Goal (Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Realistic – Time-sensitive). For example, I wanted to memorize scripture over the summer. Putting that into a SMART Goal would be: Memorize 2 verses a week, starting May 1 through August 31st, for a total of 34 verses.

You would come up with a SMART Goal for each of the items you checked. On the back side of the card, you would write three personal prayer requests for yourself to see God work in your life over the summer.

Then, exchange your card with another person. Hold them accountable to those things and pray for them over the summer. Try this idea and I believe you will not experience the spiritual summer slump that is so easy to fall prey to.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. What is a Family Hack? Is it a shortcut? No! Is it a trick of some kind? No. By ‘hack’ we mean skill. We’re going to talk about skills needed to ‘do’ family in God’s way. Come at 9:00 or 10:30 AM on Sunday to discover some of these skills.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Power of Prayer to Transform a Life

I heard a powerful story this week from a friend of mine about his daughter. We had lunch just to get caught up on life (we have been friends for over 40 years). I had been praying for him and his wife for years over the challenges they had with their adoptive daughter.

She was adopted as a young child. At the time, no one realized she had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It’s likely she received negligent care and wasn't able to form a healthy emotional attachment to her birth mother. This carried over into the lives of my friend, his wife, and their family.

The child-rearing years were difficult. The teenage years were a living nightmare. She was always in trouble at school and home. She struggled with her peers and rebelled at every level. She drank, did drugs, and ran into trouble with the law. Even as a young adult, her life was lived in rebellion and it was hard. Her first marriage ended in divorce.

My friend said there were times when he and his wife didn’t want to get up and face the day. Other times when they wanted to pull their hair out. Some days it felt as though nothing could surprise them anymore. They tried so many different things, but nothing seemed to help. They just prayed and continued to pray. There were times when they felt like giving up, but they kept praying and asking God to get a hold of her life.

A few months ago, I met with my friend for coffee (actually, a diet coke for me. I don’t like coffee.) And asked how it was going. “Oh, we are still praying,” he said. And this week when I asked him he said, “You’ll never believe what is happening.

Last week she called and told us amazing things. She is a car detailer and had her business cards made up with a verse on it: Philippians 4:13 ‘For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.’

She had air fresheners made up to put in the cars after detailed with that verse painted on them. She heard her pastor say, you don’t have to do big things for God, even the small things matter. So she sits in her customer's car after she has finished the detailing and prays for them before they pick the car up.”

She remarried and has three kids. Wow! You talk about life change. I asked my friend, ‘what triggered the change?’ He replied, ‘Prayer.’

I shouldn’t be surprised. The Bible reminds us that the effective prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much (James 5:16). I hope this story encourages you to never give up on praying for those who seem like lost causes or those who are so far from God, it appears like they will never believe. Keep praying. God has the power to change anyone from the inside out.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott