Here is where our pastors and leaders share their hearts, and words of encouragement. You can subscribe to these posts and receive them in your inbox when a new post is published.
Our vision for every Life Group is to have three dimensions. To explain those better we will do so by breaking down the mission verse for Whistling Pines (why we exist):
“God gives lonely people a family. He sets prisoners free, and they go out singing.” Psalm 68:6 (NIRV)
- Time set aside with God.
- People have three fundamental needs. The first is transcendence (the need to connect with the Creator)
- Bible study, prayer, contemplating and discussing the things of God
- He sets us free
- Time spent with the body of Christ
- The second of people’s fundamental needs is community (the need to connect with others through deeply satisfying relationships)
- Entering into one another’s lives.
- Intentional discipleship
- The problem with our idea of community most of the time is that it tends to be exclusive of people outside the community
- Go out-
- Time spent with those who don’t know Jesus yet
- The third of people’s fundamental needs is significance (the need to have a purpose in life and do something meaningful)
- Intentionally reaching out
- The group as a whole may focus on one particular area, or each of its members be involved with their own circles of influence
- It’s not about adding one more thing to our busy schedules
A Life Group is a family that lives out the mission of God together.
Beautiful day to you church!
I want to follow-up on this past Sunday morning and also encourage you for this new week. In my sermon, “Meet the Holy Spirit” I went through many characteristics of a person that the Holy Spirit possesses. He is not just some active force or abstract or metaphysical idea. He is not just a symbol of the presence and power of God, He IS the presence and power of God! I concluded the message with challenging all of us to consider/meditate on/pray about this question: “DO I WELCOME THE PRESENCE OF GOD?“. If you were not here and would like to hear the sermon, you may do so here– Conversations with John: Meet the Holy Spirit. We then had a precious time in worship as a response to the message. I feel such a need for our Body to not just learn about the Holy Spirit but even more so, experience the Holy Spirit! Again, I ask that each of us consider the question: Do I welcome the presence of God in my life?
I also wanted to share this email with the church that I received from Joanne (Jacquart) Pyle this morning:
Your teaching on the Holy Spirit was very good! It was a reminder to me again to “listen” to that voice of the Holy Spirit. In fact, for each new year I usually set goals, but this year I clearly heard only one to focus on. (This was hard for me because I’m a goal setter and list maker) I have hanging on the wall above my computer: “The Holy Spirit is speaking… Are you listening?” He has directed me in so many ways in the past and I’ve seen His miracles, but sometimes I get too busy and don’t “hear” those nudges of the Spirit.
On New Years Eve you asked me where I had an article printed… It was one of my personal experiences when I listened to that nudge of the Spirit. Thought you might like to read it – it’s an application of what you were teaching.
Here is a PDF of her wonderful short article, Live – Nudge of the Spirit 12-30-12 that was published in Live Magazine. It is a powerful story.
Be led by the Holy Spirit!
Love you guys,
Is Tithing a New Testament Principle?
- Tithing began before the law was introduced. The Law simply regulated the tithe. In Genesis 28, Jacob (before being named Israel) set-up an altar to the LORD and said he would worship and give a tenth (or tithe) there. And even predating that, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, 400 years before the time of Moses and the Law (Genesis 14:18-20).
- This is what the New Testament says concerning this tithe:
Hebrews 7:1-10 (NASB) 1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. 4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.…8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
- The tithe is not clearly reinforced in the New Testament the way it is in the OT, though giving absolutely is.
- However, it is not clearly abolished either.
- Matthew 23:23 (NLT) “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
- The Apostle Paul also carries over the concept of tithing as described in the law into the church:
1 Corinthians 9:13-14 (NASB) 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
- The clearest NT pattern of giving:
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV) 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
- Jesus was impressed with the widow’s giving, because she gave all. (Luke 21:1-4). Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and then follow Him! (Mark 10:17-27)
- Jesus said…“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
… something to prayerfully consider…
Jesus shows the ultimate example of servant leadership by washing His disciples’ feet in John 13. John sets the stage by saying in verse 1; “He now showed them the full extent of His love.” Serving others is truly an ultimate expression of the Father’s love. Why would the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dress down like a slave, stoop and wash dirty feet?! John shows us it was because He knew His identity and possessed the Father’s love.
Jesus was able to ‘demote’ Himself willingly because: 1. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power. (He knew that God was in control of His life and ministry.) 2. Jesus knew He came from God. (He knew that God was the source of His mission in life.) 3. Jesus knew He was returning to God (Jesus had an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one.) (vs. 3)
Being a servant was Christ’s identity. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Gk: doulos), being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7) A doulos (or bond-servant) is a slave who when set free says, “I love my master and do not want to leave you” voluntarily giving up his or her freedom and giving their allegiance to their master. A doulos is devoted to their master to the disregard of their own interests.
Identity precedes and affects behavior. Jesus set an example for us that we should do likewise and even promises that we will be blessed if we do. We can serve others, and in doing so serve Christ, when our identity is that of a doulos of Jesus!
Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) Jesus begins to warn His disciples of His impending death; that His hour has come to be glorified. He then equates His life (and by extension, ours as well) to seeds that must die for them to produce many seeds. A seed is the prolific (productive) principle of future life. The germ of life in the grain of wheat can only pass into others by departing from the original grain and leaving it dead. Jesus’ death brought about the Helper, the Holy Spirit (the germ of life, if you will, in Jesus) coming to our world and coming into us. Ultimate multiplication! Are we dying in order to multiply? (Multiplying takes sacrifice!)
Seeds do not carry with them instant satisfaction. Don’t we wish they did?! A plant does not grow overnight, well except for Jack’s beanstalk. Seeds represent giving and maybe not receiving anything in return at first. 1 Corinthians 15:36-38 (NLT) says, “When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a dry little seed of wheat or whatever it is you are planting. Then God gives it a new body — just the kind he wants it to have. A different kind of plant grows from each kind of seed.” Our seed must die. This means letting your idea of what form something should have die and allowing God to give it the form or body that He desires and intends.
This past Sunday morning, I provided a way for you to respond to what God was saying to you personally. The response was in the form of a seed in your hand and a pot of soil on the stage in the front of the auditorium. Everyone was asked to take a moment, pray and consider what their seed represented in their life that they needed to let die; give to God; and allow Him to give a new body (new life) to. Next, as an act of obedience, to come forward planting that representative seed. When we truly trust God with everything in our lives, we will also trust Him to give our hopes, dreams, even our greatest need resurrection life!
What does your seed represent? Have you let it die? Do you trust God with your seed?
A note from Pastor Robert: If you would like to learn more about your god given strengths, ask pastor Shawn or robert about “living your strengths” books and coaching
One of the best ways we can pray as individuals or as a group is to pray using Holy Scripture. In this way, we know for a fact that we are praying His will. If we are praying His will, we are assured that He hears and that we will have what we ask for! (1John 5:14-15)
Here is a prayer for our church, rewording 1 Chronicles 4:10: And the Church at Whistling Pines called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh that you would bless us indeed, and enlarge our territory (so that we are able to more effectively advance your Kingdom), and that your hand (your power) would be with us, and that you would keep us from evil, that we may not cause pain (we would in no way be a stumbling block to anyone genuinely looking for Jesus).” So God granted them what they requested.
Amen (let it be so).
On Sunday, August 26, Shawn McCracken, our lead team pastor, announced a major shift in how we view Life Groups. By introducing the new, “I-Groups”, we are freeing our Life Groups to become more invitational, relationship based, with no pressure to be overtly “spiritual” or “religious”. This will enable Life Group leaders and members to invite their friends, neighbors, families, and co-workers to enter into relationships.
I have begun reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and I feel that I am guilty of the first issue he brings up. “There is an epidemic of spiritual amnesia going around, and none of us is immune. No matter how many fascinating details we learn about God’s creation, no matter how many pictures we see of His galaxies, and no matter how many sunsets we watch, we still forget. Most of us know that we are supposed to love and fear God; that we are supposed to read our Bibles and pray so that we can get to know Him better; that we are supposed to worship Him with our lives. But actually living it out is challenge.”
Do you ever feel that way? You know what you should be doing but forget. Or you do what you are supposed to do but with the wrong heart attitude. Then you get stuck. It is a cycle that Satan likes to keep us in because we are ineffective as Christians when we spin our wheels getting no where or when we stop peddling all together.
I want to encourage you to get off the bike. Simply walk a bit with the Creator of the Universe. Ask Him to continually remind you of His greatness. Get into another routine. Start simple. It could be sitting for a few minutes each day thinking about God – He likes that. It could be washing those dinner dishes with a smile in your heart – He likes that too. Then talk. Talk to God and He will listen.
God is so awesome and He loves you!