What’s your Giveability?

We give according to our abilities. That was the giving truth we unveiled in part three of our Plastic Donut series. God’s model for funding his church and solving the world’s inequities is his people to voluntarily give according to their abilities. In the Old Testament, that’s how the temple was built…and rebuilt. In the New Testament, it’s how the early church provided for other’s needs.

God expects you to give based on your abilities. In 2 Corinthians 8:12, the Apostle Paul told Christians, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” So God does not ask you to give based on what you do not have, but based on what you do have. That ought to release the guilt from many who wish they could give more, but just don’t have it. Give according to your ability. On the other hand, it ought to challenge others where giving has been stagnant for sometime or even minimal. Give an acceptable gift. Give according to your ability.

In the book, Plastic Donuts, four different giving abilities are mentioned: Profit ability, possession ability, paid-for ability and faith ability. Which of those abilities have you maybe not considered in your giving? Are you giving according to your ability?

If you missed message three of Plastic Donuts, you can view it here:

Plastic Donuts Launches

Sunday we began our latest series, Plastic Donuts. In case you’re still wondering, it’s about “giving that delights the heart of the Father.” I won’t give away the connection to plastic donuts, here. You’ll have to read the book or view the sermon online.

In week one, we were reminded that not all gifts are equal. One of the first stories in the bible after creation is about two brothers, Cain and Abel. They offered gifts to God. One brother’s gift was acceptable. The other’s was not. Not all gifts are the same.

The obvious question then is – how do I give an acceptable gift? Or, how do I give that delights the heart of God? In response to that question, we learned this giving truth: The amount matters. It really does. The amount matters to your mortgage company. It matters to you on your paycheck. And when it comes to giving, amounts matter. Now, amounts that matter aren’t necessarily huge amounts. It just means they’ve been considered thoroughly. If the amount matters to us, the amount matters to God.

The truth is, God looks at our giving in a personal way. When you give to the church, or the poor, or to some mission, you’re not just making a financial exchange. God receives it as a personal gift. That’s amazing! And when we give an amount that matters to us, the Father takes pleasure in our gift and it somehow connects the giver to him. And that’s really what our giving is about, connecting to the Father. He doesn’t need your money. He wants you!

If you missed message one of Plastic Donuts, you can view it here. If you haven’t picked up your family’s copy of the book, Plastic Donuts, make sure you grab one this weekend.

Toxic Relationships

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Your closest relationships determine the direction and quality of your life. Deep down you know it’s true but somehow we resist and are blinded to this truth. But the Bible speaks of it often.
“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26).
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

We are warned again and again of the personal dangers that come from toxic relationships. It is much more likely for toxic people to influence you than the other way around. Which is why toxic relationships require us to set some healthy boundaries. All healthy relationships have boundaries. But because toxic people resist appropriate boundaries, sometimes toxic relationships have to be cut off. While it may seem unloving or unchristian, what it means is that right now you can’t deal with the negative influence that person is having in your life. If you have family or “true friends” that are warning you of the toxic influence someone is having on your life, and pleading with you to end a relationship, while these should be extreme situations, it would be wise to listen to their counsel. Your closest relationships determine the direction and quality of your life. 

We finish our Radioactive series this weekend with Toxic Behavior. Is it possible there is a an action or habit that is moving your life in a direction you don’t want to go? Often we’re unaware of the power of our actions. See you Sunday and if you missed last weekend’s message or want to share it with someone you know, you can view it here.

Homestretch Update

We shared this video conversation at our services this past Sunday as an update to the Homestretch phase of our Radical Faith campaign.

Don’t Let Emotions Rule Your Life

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We’re in the middle of a series called Radioactive talking about the toxics that quietly contaminate and pollute our lives. Toxic emotions are what we discussed on Sunday and they may be one of the more powerful influences affecting us. The Bible reminds us that “the heart is deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9). Our emotions easily manipulate us. They’re not trustworthy. And so the truth we learned is this: You can’t always control toxic emotions, but they don’t have to control you. The good news is that you don’t have to let toxic emotions rule your life.

What I love about the Bible is that it does not make its heroes look good. David wrote a majority of the Psalms and contained in many of those pieces are the expression of his toxic emotions. Fear, sadness, guilt, insecurity, loneliness, despair. David wrote honestly about his life. I have found reading through the Psalms provides a peace, if nothing else, from knowing “a man after God’s own heart” has felt as I have.

But if you’ll notice, often those Psalms show God’s transformation of those toxic emotions. David’s sorrow is turned to joy. His despair to optimism. His fear to confidence. HIs hopelessness to hopefulness. God did something in David’s heart that only the creator could do. But it came at David’s invitation. “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51).

Is there a destructive emotion you need to bring into the light and release to God and let him change it into something good? Decide to quit feeding it and finally release it. Sure, it’s hard to do. But what’s even harder is you spending a months, years or even decades wasting your life in fear, resentment or bitterness. You can’t always control toxic emotions, but they don’t have to control you.

if you missed last weekend’s message, you can view it here:

You Choose your Words

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In the continuation of our Radioactive series, last Sunday I taught about Toxic Words. Here is a sobering thought: Your life is moving in the direction of the words you are speaking. Your words matter. Your words are powerful. They are charting the course of your life. And you have complete control over the selection of words you use. “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose” (Proverbs 18:21 MSG). Your words can be used to bring life. Or they can be used to take life away. You choose.

Understanding that we choose our words, the Apostle Paul instructed us to remove toxic words from our vocabulary. “Do no let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” (Ephesians 4:29). Can you imagine what our world (your family, your workplace) would be like if just the Christians followed that simple teaching? And instead of toxic words, we replaced them with life giving words. Instead of hurtful words, words of healing.

This past week, many of you have been applying this one point, Shut your mouth when tempted to speak toxic words, by stretching then snapping your Radioactive bracelet against your wrist when you feel like saying something toxic. It’s just a gentle, or not so gentle, reminder, to keep that poison to yourself. I love hearing stories about your bracelets. Keep them coming. And if you missed last weekend’s message, you can view it here:

Radioactivity Reported

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Last Sunday we introduced a new series on the dangers of unnoticed contaminates in our life, called Radioactive. Week one was about limiting our exposure to toxic thoughts. We all struggle with them. Your toxic thoughts might be of a negative or critical nature. Maybe you struggle with thoughts of worry or fear. Maybe your thought life is centered too much on the things of this world and the desires of the flesh.

Your thoughts determine who you become. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? The good news is the Bible tells us that with the Holy Spirit’s help we can change the way we think. We’re instructed to take captive destructive thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). And replace those destructive thoughts with spiritual truth (Philippians 4:8-9). The truth is your mind is a battle field. Satan is holding it and your thoughts hostage and the only way to break free of that is to make yourself a prisoner of Christ. Make your thoughts obedient to Christ…not Satan.

So, we tried to have a little fun with that this week. We handed out “Radioactive” bracelets. And I asked you to make a SWITCH whenever you found yourself thinking a destructive thought. SWITCH your bracelet from one wrist to the other to represent the SWITCH taking place in your mind of replacing those destructive thoughts with spiritual truth. I would love to hear your story of how you’ve done that this week. If you didn’t get a bracelet, make sure you pick one up this Sunday. And if you missed last weekend’s message, you can view it here:

His Story – Jesus is Alive

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We had a great Easter with a total of 1270 people attending at our three campuses. I appreciate all the volunteers that facilitated the increase. Thank you for going the extra mile. My thanks to those who shared, by video, how the empty tomb had changed their lives. That was a great testimony of God’s faithfulness.

I love talking about the resurrection of Jesus. You might think that after hearing the story all my life and teaching it for 25 plus years that it could be a little routine. I suppose there is always that danger for us church-lifers. But for me, it seems like every year I learn something new about what that empty tomb means.

If Jesus could accurately predict his death and resurrection. And then actually pull it off…! Then it’s really no problem for me to believe him when he calls himself the Son of God. Or tells me that he is the only way to God. Because of the empty tomb, it’s no problem for me to believe that what he says about life is true. While it may seem counter-intuitive to seek generosity over receiving, serving as the way to greatness, forgiving people who have offended me, etc. None of those are any more incredible to believe than a resurrection. And so Jesus becomes the only one qualified to talk about life after death, because he experienced it and conquered death. When Jesus tells us that he is the resurrection and the life and that if we believe in him we’ll live forever, because of the empty tomb that promise is authenticated and guaranteed.

The resurrection is personal. It was the resurrection that sent those early followers into the streets. What set them apart was they believed that Jesus had risen from the death. And they had seen him and touched him and eaten with him. And within a couple hundred years the very empire that had executed Jesus and persecuted the early followers found that Christianity had become their primary belief system. Amazing! The question remaining? What does the empty tomb mean to you?

If you missed the Easter Sunday message, Jesus is Alive, you can view it here:

Paydown Sunday & His Story

We’re in the homestretch of our Radical Faith Stewardship Journey and for the last two weeks we’ve asked you our church family to pray and fast about how you might participate in the final months of this effort. Radical Faith has made a difference with nearly $1.4 million being given to global and local outreach, along with debt reduction freeing-up funds for future ministry. If you haven’t received a Homestretch brochure, check out this online resource for more information on Radical Faith initiatives and how those funds have made a difference: cedarridgecc.com/radical-faith-homestretch

At the conclusion of services at all of our campuses this Sunday, we will provide a time of prayer and an opportunity to bring forward your Homestretch commitment card and/or give a “Paydown” offering to paydown your pledge and paydown our debt. In the meantime, please pray about how you and your family might help us finish strong with Radical Faith and “retire not renew” our mortgage note that is set to be renegotiated in May.

Radical Faith has always been more about our faith than it has been about finances. Ask God to speak to your heart and then simply respond to him in humble obedience. I hope you’ll help us finish strong our Radical Faith journey.

Last Sunday’s message covered the final moments that Jesus had with his disciples in the upper room. In the His Story text are contained four goodbye reminders that Jesus gave his disciples.

Remember how I served you. Jesus left them with a visual that they would never forget. He washed their dusty feet. He even washed the feet of Judas who had an even filthier heart, having already planned to betray his Lord. In the process of washing their feet, Jesus told them to do the same for one another.

Remember how I saved you. Another very visual reminder, Jesus ate the Passover meals with his disciples. And then proclaimed that he was initiating a new covenant. This meal that celebrated the Israelites’ salvation from the death angel we find out was all along pointing to something even bigger when God would sacrifice the perfect lamb and his blood would cover our sins and save us from death.

Remember to continue my mission. Jesus was clear that his disciples would continue the work, and that they would be opposed. They would also do greater things than Jesus (John 14:12) and that anything they asked in his name, he would do (John 14:13).

Remember I’m sending you help. In fact, Jesus told his disciples that it was good for them that he go, so the Holy Spirit could come and empower them. And that’s exactly what happens after Jesus returns to heaven – the disciples are saying and doing things they could not have done on their own.

Only three more installments of His Story remain. Do your best to join us these final weeks and get to know Jesus like you’ve never know him before. If you missed the latest message or any of the His Story series, you can view them here.

Homestretch of His Story and Radical Faith

This past Sunday we launched the homestretch phase of our Radical Faith Stewardship Journey. You can read all about this three year campaign we began in November 2011, including our major goals and what has been accomplished so far at .

The bottom line is that we are in the final months of this initiative and as a church we want to finish well. We’ve asked our entire church family to participate by taking a 2 week spiritual journey. We’ve asked you, through April 13th, to engage God in a deliberate way. Set your clock at 6:33 pm and pray daily for our church (Project 633 is based on Matthew 6:33). And go on a spiritual fast of negative thoughts and entertainment, instead seeking God’s will for your participation.

At the conclusion of this 2 week spiritual journey, Sunday, April 13th, we’re asking you to fill out a commitment card of your intention to participate, through faith, in the homestretch of our Radical Faith campaign. We’re also asking you to consider giving a special “Paydown Offering” toward your commitment that day so that we can “retire not renew” our mortgage note that is set to be renegotiated with the bank in May.

The end is in sight. We are so close to being debt free and with that able to free up those funds for ministry. I’m not asking you to do any more than to ask God to speak to your heart and then respond to him in humble obedience. Please join us in this faith journey.

Sunday we talked about the events that lead into the final week of Jesus earthly ministry. It began on Sunday with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In this short period of time, we see the stark contrast between people who really know Jesus and those who are only interested in being religious.

People who know Jesus celebrate being with him. Religious people only complain. That was obvious on that first Palm Sunday. The crowds celebrated and rejoiced. They had experienced what being with Jesus was about. The Jewish leaders complained about all the celebrating.

People who know Jesus help others access him. Religious people care only about themselves. When Jesus cursed the fig tree and cleansed the temple for the second time on the following Monday, there was a bigger message behind it. It was an indictment on the Jewish leaders who were themselves being unproductive to their calling by denying people access to God. Jesus reminded them from scripture that the temple was to be a “house of prayer for all nations.”

People who know Jesus anticipate his return. They remain faithful to him knowing that he will return without warning. But as they wait, they’re also compassionate to the world around them. Because they know Jesus, they look for him in the underserved and underprivileged and serve as if they’re serving him. According to Jesus, there will be religious who won’t be ready and will have missed the opportunity to “do unto the least of these.”

You cannot afford just to be a “religious person” who simply knows about Jesus. Get to know Jesus like you’ve never known him before; speak to him in prayer, engage him through his word, be quiet and listen to him, celebrate being with him, help others find him, and look forward to the day when he will return for those who truly know him

When you miss Sunday services, you don’t have to miss out on the message. They are usually available on our website by noon every Sunday. You can view Sunday’s message here:

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