Father loves the lost, and prayer is the way the lost get found. When we pray, God does something in us and something through us! When we pray, we enter into the presence of God and if you go there often enough and you pray with all of your heart, and if you do not give up, you...
The day starts with the best of intentions. You tell yourself in the most convincing manner possible that today is the day. You will absolutely find the time. You will have the most amazing prayer time ever. Then its off to the races. Your feet hit the floor running. There’s no...
In Jeremiah 29, the prophet Jeremiah tells us that God has said to his people, “You will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.” (Jeremiah 29:12-14a) This is one of...
As a church we are entering into a season of prayer. There is arguably nothing more central to the life of a Christian and to the life of a church than prayer. In the Gospels, Jesus models prayer and emphasizes it with his disciples. He makes prayer a central part of his life. Not just when...
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your...
The best way to establish, develop, and maintain any relationship is through conversation. Relationships must be centered on trust. It is upon trust that intimacy is built. How do we establish trust and build intimacy? Through conversation. Prayer is conversation with God. Through...
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God is a good, good father. It doesn’t matter that I don’t understand God’s plan, God is good...
God hears your prayers, every one of them! In Jeremiah 29:12 the scripture says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you…” God hears and He answers well. The scripture goes on to say in verse 13, “You will seek me and find me when you...
Is GOD in Your Goals? As the new year begins, many of us dust off our goals for last year with the intent of revisiting them next year. Typically, we think of taking care of ourselves: eating better, exercising, being a better person, learning a new language and reigning in debt. These are...
Have you made a New Year’s resolution for 2017? Did you know the number one New Year’s resolution is to lose weight? Health, fitness, and weight loss are important goals and helps us to feel better physically and mentally. If you set a New Year’s Resolution to lose...
Many people hop from church to church, trying to find that special connection, but many times seeming to miss the mark. So, this begs the question…why?
Well, we can’t speak for every church out there, but here at Severn Run we believe that life is better connected. *cue the cheers* Ok, ok…if you’ve ever been to a church service, then you understand my meaning there. If not, then simply put, those are words that we say every week, and we have a dedicated group of people who truly believe in the power of that statement.
Basically, what I’m saying is that you can’t blame the Church at Severn Run if you’re having a hard time feeling connected. Now, now, don’t stop reading just yet, this isn’t meant to sound conceited. We realize that not every single person who walks through our doors will feel that magical connection, but what we are saying is that we try to make it as easy as possible to get connected right from the get go, and that the ball really is in your court to make that first contact and let us know that you’re interested in getting connected.
So, how do you do this you ask?
Well again, if you’ve ever been to a service, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that you’ve been sitting *wink wink* on that first step of connecting every Sunday since you started coming. We have on average about 1300 people in attendance on any given Sunday between 3 services, and there’s just no way that we can know who the people are that aren’t yet connected. You need to let us know, and the best way to do that is the Connect Cards that we have on the seats during Sunday services. Of course, you can always come up to the main desk in the atrium and one of our helpful volunteers can get you plugged in as well, but chances are they’ll probably still ask you to fill out the Connect Card. *hint hint*
“So, I filled out the card. Now what?” (Don’t mean to put words in your mouth, but I’m quite confident that I’ve inspired you to fill out that card already!)
Well, I’m glad you asked! The next step is that someone from our staff will reach out to you to welcome you to the church and give you some information on how to get plugged in. One of the best ways for you to get connected with others at Severn Run is to join a Connect Group. We have a variety of them, so don’t worry…we’ll find one that suits you. And if we don’t (which is unlikely, but we realize that we are only human) then perhaps we can work on putting one together that you can connect with. But as I said, I think you’ll be impressed with the list of groups we already have. We have groups for anyone from newly graduated high schoolers and young working people to families with children and ‘empty nesters’. We have men’s and women’s groups, and groups based on where you live. If you’d like to see a full list of groups with locations, times, and descriptions of what they’re all about, head on over to our church website here.
So, now that Amber Adams is happy (she’s the Connect Groups leader for the church), let’s talk about a few other ways to get connected…
Of course, you could always do it the old-fashioned way and just walk up to people and make friends, but in this day and age of Snap Chats and moody emoticons, we think that’s kind of scary. So, let’s be honest about how we will actually make friends. And for the record, I’m talking about the kinds of friends who we actually give hugs to or shake hands with, not the kinds that ‘like’ ALL of your posts, even the sad ones. (You know who they are!)
So, how can you really, honestly make real friends that you can do life with at the Church at Severn Run?
I’m glad you… ok ok, I won’t do that again, but seriously, I hope you’re ready for this answer. The answer is to get involved and serve! Now, before you run away screaming (or just switch to Facebook to watch and ‘like’ a video of your best friend’s cat), hear me out for a second.
I’m not going to get into too much detail, because *SPOILER ALERT* a blog post specifically about serving will be coming out soon. But, since we’re talking about getting connected, it’s an important point to make. You will get to know people better when you’re serving on a team weekly or monthly. It’s one thing to go hang out and have a meal with a group of people, or go through a Bible study (and I’m not knocking either…you should definitely try those too!), but when you’re serving alongside others, you get to know people on a totally different level. And when you’re serving in the church, in most cases, you will get the opportunity to meet people that you probably wouldn’t have normally met had you just been out looking for “friends”.
The point I’m trying to make with serving here is that you never know what you might find, except for good friends who love Jesus and who would love to do life together with you. If you’re interested in finding out more about plugging in to a serve team at church, head on over to severnrun.com/serve, or stop by one of the service tables we have out in the atrium on Sundays. However, we don’t always have tables out there, so if that’s the case this Sunday (because you’re going to stop by, right?) then just talk to the main desk and they’ll get you hooked up.
Also, if you’re not quite convinced yet, please keep an eye on the blog for our serve post, which will be coming out shortly. This blog post will address some specific areas in the church where we’re struggling to get volunteers. Hopefully this will inspire you to reach out and take a step of faith that God has put on your heart.
Don’t let another summer go by without getting connected. Don’t miss the chance to connect with new friends and make lasting relationships. Don’t live life on your own.
Why? Because we here at the Church at Severn Run firmly believe that life is better connected!
If you are a young adult, you are probably finishing up some kind of school or beginning a new career. You may have grown up in church like my wife, who felt like going to church was “what you did” and rarely thought about what she would do when given the option of how to spend her Sunday mornings.
Once she was in college she knew she wanted to have a strong faith, but she didn't know exactly how to live that out for herself. She and I struggled for a while to find our place in the community of Christ, really until we came to understand how important it was to build real and honest relationships with other Christians and to serve alongside them.
To find your place in the community of Christ, you have to get to know what that community looks like. Start by joining or starting a connect group for young adults (like SMASH, Real World, or YMP). Connect groups are where you can build close relationships with people who will understand what's going on in your life and will encourage you in your walk. You will need those relationships when dealing with the ups and downs that come along with college or starting a career.
You may feel a little lost as you transition from being part of your parent’s church activities to having your own church activities and relationships, but trust me when I say that you are not alone. There are many people just like you who are looking for others to connect and share life with. So look around and find some people who are prayerfully going to Jesus and asking him to lead them into developing a community like that described in Ephesians 4. Invite people to join you if you have to!
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
- Ephesians 4:11-16
At this stage in life you have a lot of new time and freedom. This is the best chance you will ever have to serve in different areas of the church and find where you fit best.
If you are thinking that you want to have a Christ-centered family that does great things in Jesus name, you don't have to wait. That was a big “aha!” that encouraged me to get more active serving. I realized that I did not have to wait to be the head of the family that God wanted me to be--that I could be a part of something whether my family was just me, or me and my wife.
Here at Severn Run we are lucky because there are many teams and ministries where you can serve throughout the year. This is also a great way of getting to know people outside your small group who will also support you and who you can bond with through serving. This is the mature faith that Paul describes in Ephesians 4, that we would each grow together and support one another as the body of Christ.
We all want to be at peace, but we allow many things to come between us and that peace that we are looking for. Let's turn to the Bible for answers to those things that separate us from peace.
1) 1 John 3:1-2
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
We should reflect on God's love for us and study it. God's love for us is not earned, yet he calls us his own. God is not of Earth and because we are his children, neither are we. This explains why we have so many problems with living in the world. However, we can find great peace in considering God's love for us and that one day we will be with him forever.
2) Deuteronomy 31:7-8
Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
In Deuteronomy 31, Moses comforts Joshua telling him that the Lord goes before him, providing as he has promised. We cannot go anywhere God hasn't already been and where he hasn't already been working. We should be courageous because we trust that God is with us and he will not leave us.
3) Ephesians 2:14-18
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
In Ephesians 2, Paul describes how Jesus has broken down the things that separated the Jews and the Gentiles and now they can come together as one community identified as followers of Christ. Disharmony among believers or between believers and non-believers can only be resolved through Jesus. If we work on improving our relationship with Jesus, drawing him near, then we will see improvement in our other relationships. We are all identified as children of God and by growing closer to him we will grow closer to each other.
4) Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
A common barrier to peace is the desire for us to accomplish as much as possible in our professional life. Hard work does not have to be a bad thing, but we can begin to idolize our own success and forget to rest. When we rest, we are relying on God to take care of us while we focus on the blessings he has given us. It is important that we prioritize rest, where we do not worry about the future or struggle with our past but go to God and lay our burdens at his feet.
5) Colossians 3:15-16
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Ultimately, we are our own barrier to peace. Sometimes we get caught in a place where we feel that someone or something in our life is keeping us from peace, but these thoughts are just wrong. The offer of peace is always there, we just have to be willing to soften our hearts and let Christ rule in our hearts as Paul wrote to the Colossians.
Jesus wants you to have peace because when you are in Him, you have all you need to live your life. He’s got this!
How were you first introduced to Jesus? It’s a good bet that you learned about Jesus because someone shared with you. They shared their personal experiences and the joy that he brought into their life. That person shared with you because they knew the impact Jesus would have in your life. Something about that interaction stuck with you, and your life began to change.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus is at the center of everything when it comes to sharing the gospel. It was Jesus that commanded us to go and make disciples. It is his Spirit that fills us and overflows to others. It will be Jesus that convicts someone and transforms their life when they welcome him into their heart. The number one thing to remember about sharing is that it all comes back to Jesus.
He should remain the center of our conversation:
- Ask what they think about Jesus.
- Share your Jesus story-about how Jesus is real and relevant to you.
- Talk about answered prayers, or how you’ve seen Jesus work in your life or the lives of others.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14:6
Prayer is always a great place to start. Pray for opportunities to share Jesus and know that they will come. We should also pray for boldness in those moments, as it will take some faith to act on those opportunities once they arrive. It can be uncomfortable to open up about your life and how Jesus has changed it. You have to make yourself vulnerable to describe the highs and lows of the walk with Christ, but what makes it uncomfortable is also what makes it so important. Those feelings of triumph and redemption are exactly what we need to communicate. That is real life and what sticks with someone long after.
We can also share Jesus in our every day lives. If we have allowed Jesus to be in every part of our lives then he will always be on our minds and come up naturally. A friend once told me that she thought a coworker was a Christian, so she would often talk to her coworker about their beliefs and what Jesus meant to them. She did not become aware that her coworker had not known Jesus until the coworker told her they had only recently began attending church and accepted Jesus into their life. That's how quickly and powerfully Jesus can transform someone's life once he has been introduced.
As you prepare to follow the command of Jesus to “Go and make disciples,” you can do these things:
- Pray that Jesus will bring people into your life who are seeking him, and for your courage and boldness to share.
- Know how Jesus has made a difference in your life. Think of a time when you knew that Jesus helped you either in a time of peace, a time of trouble.
- Learn how to talk about how Jesus is real to you in your everyday life. Have you seen answers to prayer? That’s something to share. Have you had peace in a time of trial? That’s a story about Jesus in your life.
- Make new relationships, or start bringing up Jesus in your conversations with people you know.
- Be willing to help people when they are in need, this is part of sharing Jesus.
- Love well and believe big!
If you have experienced the love of the Father through the life of the Son, then sharing that love is a natural next step.
Who are you sharing Jesus with this week?
Greater love has no one than this:
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.
Certainly we aren't called to die for our friends...are we?
Well, yes. We are.
If we mean to show the love of Jesus to the world then we must die!
We must die to self.
We must lay down our own lives -- set aside our prejudices, our rights, and our own desires -- for a better way.
A way of love.
There is no other option in Scripture.
If we want to live we must die to the desire to put ourselves first.
We must lay down our busy lives for our friends...
- We can lay down our To Do List and help a friend in need.
- We can turn off Netflix and be with our neighbors to start relationships.
- We can set aside our prejudices and instead show empathy and share God's love.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
And in case you were wondering, God has equipped you to lay down your life. He has equipped you to share his love. He has even put someone in your life who needs to know about Jesus.
What are you going to do?
Love has called your name and gifted you. Love is sending you and offering you the greatest joy of eternity--leading the lost home. Love asks you to lay down your life.
For whom will you lay it down? Who will you lead home?