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...
2017 is like a field of new fallen snow! Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a mountain, down below you is a valley and in this valley is just a beautiful field of snow with no footprints. Nothing has been marred, it’s just a field of pure snow and you get to make your path through...
Be like the Son of Man. He did not come to be served.Instead, he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.(Matthew 20:28 NIRV) What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth? That he laid down his heavenly Glory, and...
In the next 15 seconds, name as many ways as you can think of that other people show they love you. Ready? Go…
What did you come up with? If you are like me maybe things like, they are kind and considerate, they do things for me, they say they love me, they give hugs, they bring comfort, share words of encouragement, listen when I talk about my day, and they take care of me when I am sick or grumpy.
Not bad…its all good stuff. A bit self-centered, but good stuff.
But still, a list like that can leave us asking, is there more? Or is that it?
Some would say, yes, that’s it. End of story.
The Bible would tell you a different story.
How about a love that loves us even when we don’t deserve it? While we committed one sinful act after another, we are loved.
How about an unconditional love that sacrifices everything for us, even unto death? Ponder for a few moments Roman 5:8: “But God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Really, who does that?
But why? Why would God do that?
The answer becomes clear to us in one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Often this is the first verse memorized when a child attends Sunday School or an adult begins studying the Bible. John 3:16 says, “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Pure and simple.
Not because we earned it, bought it, or deserved it.
Its because he loves us.
How does one respond to that? What is it we are to do?
The expectation is simple. It is to accept it.
Then we are to live it.
We are to be thankful for it.
We are to give it away.
Ultimately we will bathe in it for an eternity.
In the words of the Psalmist, “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalms 136:26
Amazingly, his love doesn’t end there.
Not only did he love us first and will for an eternity, he has given us a gift. A gift that lives in us. “…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5b
The Holy Spirit is our guide, comforter, and helper. He is with us and in us. He is an example of God’s love. He is God.
The prophet Zephaniah also explains, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud song.” Zephaniah 3:17
You might be thinking, that’s all well and good. Sounds wonderful. But, is it really THAT big of deal? Life is good. I got it.
It is a choice, there is no doubt about that.
We can choose to live our lives in the status quo, same old, same old.
Or instead, we can choose to live our lives in the new. New life with a new beginning that is given to us when we admit our sins, believe in Jesus, and commit our lives to him.
There’s no promise of a fairy tale ending but instead we can have a life filled with…
A love that began before us.
It is the never-ending love of our Lord and Savior.
People are apprehensive about serving at church. I know this because I’m one of them. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy as much of their weekend as they can in relaxation, right? Volunteering to spend all day Sunday at church can seem really daunting. The thing is, if we call ourselves Christians, if we truly believe that Jesus was Lord, then we are called to serve.
The one thing that we endeavor to is following the example of Jesus by doing what he did throughout his life. If we’re honest with ourselves, then we already know the answer to this endeavor is service. There are other things that we can do, yes, but if you look at the life of Jesus, he was almost always acting in service to someone. Whether it was washing people’s feet, feeding them, or healing the sick, Jesus was constantly looking for ways to put the needs of others above his own. Therefore, what is it that we are called to do? We are called to serve. But, don’t take my word for it…
Jesus called them all together and said, “You know that the rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it shall be among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of the others— like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.” -Matthew 20:25-28(GNT)
So, what does it really mean to serve at church?
Service should be more than just a volunteer “job” that we do once in a month of Sundays. If you look at the ‘religious’ view of what serving is, then the definition you get is something along the lines of earning our way to heaven. Service is good, yes, but in and of itself it does not grant access to eternal life with Jesus. So, why then are we called to serve? What is the point? Let’s take a look at Paul’s letter to some of the New Testament churches to see why we are supposed to serve.
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
Paul knew that we are stronger when we are unified and living in service to both each other and to non-believers. And again, we see here that we are called to be like Christ; that we are to strive to emulate everything that he represents. The ultimate point is for us to be more like Christ so we can resist temptations and be the example of true love to a world that desperately needs it.
Where Do I Serve?
It would be naive to think that we should all jump blindly into service, just for the fact of serving. Yes, we are called to serve, but we can be smart about it. The Bible speaks of spiritual gifts, and it teaches that we all have different ones. Some people may be more suited to watch and teach children, while others may be musically inclined and thrive being on stage in front of everyone. Others yet are more content to run the lights and sounds and remain in the background. There is no “right” or “wrong” place to serve, there are just places that are better suited to our gifts.
Don’t feel like you have to do something you hate, just to honor God and the people around you. You don’t have to know what your spiritual gift is, (but in case you’re wondering, you can head on over here and take the test to see what it might be). This is not a guarantee to be a perfect fit, but that’s the great thing about serving at church – you can be free to test the waters and find out what suits you most!
Now, you might be thinking that you already know what your gift is, and perhaps that gift is not something that you can do at church right now. In part, this might be true, but give it some thought. Is there really just not a need for your gift at church at the moment? This is unlikely, and there is generally always a way to use your gift. After all, God gave it to you for a reason.
There may be a case where at this moment in time, the church doesn’t have an opportunity for you. And that’s perfectly OK. There are millions of places out there in the world where you can use your gift. It doesn’t have to be at church. But chances are, if you can use it “out there”, then you can use it here too.
If the specific ministry or outlet doesn’t exist yet in the church, then talk to someone on staff about getting that started. It’s possible that are there are a handful of others in the church who have a complementary gift that could mesh well with yours and get some amazing things going right here in our community.
The church also already has a lot of teams that you can serve on. (Keep an eye on the blog as there will be a continuation of this post describing several particular areas within our church that are in need of some extra volunteers.)
Remember, we need to serve because it is an outpouring of our faith. It’s a tangible way we can share the love of Jesus with others.
Stephen Hord is taking life as a Severn Runner “On The Road” literally. Through the heat, through the pain, through the training, and by running races, he strives to raise a donation of $5000 to Severn Run’s On The Road campaign. This is his story.
About two years ago, Stephen Hord and his wife were praying about finding a church close to their home. Although they drove past the church entrance often, one day God tugged on their hearts about visiting The Church at Severn Run. So they did.
“We walked in and it felt like home so quickly,” Stephen shares. “We even ran into two families we knew.”
Stephen also says that he especially loved the church because we have Run in our name, and the congregation is referred to as Severn Runners.
“There are two activities that I love more than anything else; playing guitar and running,” said Stephen. “I feel most alive and closest to God when I’m out on the road and trails running with praise songs in my ears, (although don’t ask me to repeat that at mile 9 of a race--God is usually carrying me by then!)” he adds. “Long-distance running is such an accurate metaphor for the faith journey…I think this is why it’s one of Paul’s favorite illustrations in his letters to the churches.”
You may have seen Stephen on stage with the worship team, playing guitar. He has been giving music as his offering since coming to Christ. But when he heard about “On the Road” and the church’s mission to become a church of 5,000 believers, he knew he wanted to do more.
“Something was stirring in me to do more, something new, to use my love of running for the Kingdom. That is why throughout the year of 2017 I am running 32 races covering more than 262 miles ‘On the Road for The Church at Severn Run.’”
Because the mileage is the equivalent to 10 full marathons, Stephen has playfully nicknamed this his #yearofinsanity2017.
As we strive to be a church that reaches 5,000 people with the love of Jesus, Stephen has set a goal of raising $5,000 where each dollar represents one person who may or may not know that Jesus loves them.
This hasn’t been an easy endeavor for Stephen. He has fought physical pain, emotional upheaval, and the struggle of keeping his eyes fixed on the task God has set before him.
“Earlier this year, I had a string of difficult races and I even considered throwing in the towel in the middle of one. Then, late in the morning at mile 10 of a half marathon, two visions came rushing into my mind. First, the feeding of the 5,000 reminded me that there are still so many people who are looking to be fed with the miraculous love of Jesus. Then, my mind’s eye saw Jesus carrying the cross. I realized that no amount of temporary pain or discomfort or difficulty that I was experiencing would have stopped Him from his mission. I knew I had to press on. Acts 20:24 says it beautifully. ‘But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly the gospel of the grace of God.’”
God is teaching him so much as he strives to stay faithful to this calling.
“The mantra I’ve adopted is “Run as far as you can, then take another step,” said Stephen. “It’s only by faith in His strength can I do anything. Proverbs 4:12 promises, ‘When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble.’” He holds on to that one.
Stephen needs help to reach his goal of raising $5000.
He has been faithful to his running, and he is looking for others who will also be faithful to God’s tug on their hearts. Stephen is asking for prayer from everyone, as what he is doing takes a toll on the body. He is also asking for donations so he can do what God is asking of him and donate a dollar to On The Road for every member and potential member of our church of 5000.
You can follow Stephen on Facebook (@ facebook.com/thumper135) to see when he races and share your prayers and encouragement.
Please also visit this page to donate, learn more about Stephen and see his finish times and upcoming races.
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.