Hello everyone !
While meeting recently with someone from Emmanuel for a study on “witnessing,” I read this statement :
If you’re not excited about something, chances are you won’t tell many people about it. For many Christians, the excitement of the Christian walk has been dulled by everyday distractions, materialistic pursuits, and unconfessed sin.
(Ten Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity, Step 7, p. 36)
Isn’t it true that we talk about what we’re excited about ?
How can we stay excited about our relationship with Jesus Christ and, as a result, tell more people about Him ?
Getting rid of the distractions, pursuits, and sin that dull us spiritually is certainly a first response ! I’ve been impacted by the question Billy Graham once raised concerning life’s decisions and commitments : “Does it take the keen edge off my Christian walk ?” There are probably a number of things in our lives that are taking the edge off our walk with Jesus. Beyond identifying those things, here are three more ways that come to mind :
1. Spending time regularly with others on the journey. Seems so simple, but when we lack regular contact with other followers of Christ, our excitement does wane. Recently, a friend of mine who travels frequently and speaks in churches told me that more and more pastors of churches are telling him that twice-a-month attendance at Sunday morning worship is becoming the norm for American Christians. I wonder what’s eating into our lives that prevents us from taking ourselves and our families to a meeting with other Christians for an hour or so on a Sunday morning ? The result can be a diminishing excitement about the Lord … and ultimately our disinterest in caring whether people we know hear about Him.
I had the privilege last week of being at the Sticky Group I’m part of here in my neck of the woods. I came away from that meeting uplifted, … excited ! We ate and laughed (uproariously) and prayed and studied – fourteen people from all different backgrounds, spending part of an evening around a table discussing things of God’s kingdom and our lives. It got me excited for the rest of the week !
2. Helping other people. It doesn’t take a very long conversation with most people to find out that there are lots of needs all around us. People need encouragement ; people need tangible help in their lives ; people need spiritual investment from you. You have something to offer that person in need, … and helping others (as Jesus did) keeps us sharp and excited about the Lord who loves us. If you attended our adult 301 class last month – “Discovering My Ministry” – I hope you’ll turn in your ministry commitment and thereby make an appointment with the Elder Board to discuss how God has gifted you to help at Emmanuel. We’re excited about that meeting with you ! I suspect we will all learn about ways God has gifted our church body that we weren’t previously aware of. I’m always encouraged when I hear about people at Emmanuel helping each other and helping their neighbors ! Christ’s love is demonstrated through you when that happens !
3. Having a place where God meets you. I received in the mail last week promotion for a DVD about a young woman who loved to climb mountains but who was killed in 2008 during an avalanche on a mountain in Colorado. On the promotional material was written something she had said : “I love to climb mountains because God meets me there.” I have memories of climbing (small !) mountains in Europe, and it’s true that when you reach the top of a mountain there’s a sense of being very close to God. Where’s that place for you ? You probably need to go there regularly, if possible. Recently, I was needing some close time with God and was wondering where I would find it. I also needed some physical exercise, so I drove into town to walk around the high school track. As I walked – and reviewed some Bible memory verses – God met me. I was quite surprised ! I would have rather been on top of a beautiful mountain, but a lonely track was as good a place as any ! I felt revived and renewed in what God is doing in my life.
When we’re excited about the Lord, we tell others about Him ! What are you doing to maintain your excitement ? We have the best possible news in the world to tell other people ! God will give us an excitement for telling it as we spend time with others in the journey, as we help other people, and as we take time to meet God.
Other things I’m excited about …
I’m excited about prayer. I recently updated my prayer list and realized that I have a lot of people to pray for on a regular basis – people all over the world ! It’s a heavy load in some ways but a small (and important) way of blessing other people. I hope you’re understanding the value of your prayers in the lives of those you love. Thank you for praying for me and for Pastor Jeff and Allison !
I’m excited, in a strange way, about what God has taught me through grief. Yes, I certainly do still struggle with grief and with loneliness. Recently, I learned that our church lost a dear friend – Lewis Wimberley, a church-planting missionary who was instrumental in getting Emmanuel started, passed away in January after a long and courageous fight with cancer. Some of you knew Lewis and remember his commitment to Emmanuel. Lewis was one of those people for me who always believed in me. It’s tough to lose someone like that. I will miss his moral support and encouragement. I’m reminded, though, of another thing Billy Graham said : “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it ! I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” More alive than ever before – what a thought !
I’m excited about the times in which we live. Been paying attention to events in Russia ? Are events lining up for the accomplishment of what God predicted in Ezekiel 38 and 39 ? One more step closer to the return of Christ ? God’s Word is true – we should pay attention to it … and obey it ! Prophecies have been fulfilled and are being fulfilled ! Take some time to read up on Ezekiel 38 and 39 and see what others are saying about the connection between this prophecy and the movements of Russia with regard to her neighbors. The Lord could be very near. If so, what things do you and I need to be taking care of on the earth ?
I’m excited about help for parents. Our friend and author Judy Mumford will be leading a seminar for parents (and grandparents) at the Columbia Evangelical Free Church on Sunday, April 13, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. “Preparing Children for the Voyage of Life” will be the theme – Effective Communication, Intentional Discipline, and Biblical Socialization. You can find out more about Judy’s ministry and books at www.beyondrubberduckies.com.
I’m excited about Easter at Emmanuel ! Don’t forget there will be a special time of worship and discussion led by our youth on Easter Sunday morning at 8:00, followed by breakfast for everyone, then Easter worship at 10:15. We will have baptisms that morning, and we’re waiting to hear from you if you would like to be baptized ! Also, mark the evening of Friday, April 18, for the Seder Meal (Passover Meal) at church. More details coming soon.
I’m excited about new members and renewed commitments at Emmanuel.
Membership – a commitment to a relationship with Jesus Christ and a local church.
Maturity – a commitment to the habits that foster spiritual growth.
Ministry – a commitment to using our God-given gifts and abilities to serve God and other people.
Missions – a commitment to sharing the Gospel with other people.
At Emmanuel, we exist to …
… celebrate God’s presence. That’s worship.
… demonstrate God’s love. That’s ministry.
… communicate God’s Word. That’s evangelism.
… assimilate others into God’s family. That’s fellowship.
… educate God’s people. That’s discipleship.
Praying for a special week for you with the Lord. Hope to see you Sunday !
Adult classes at 9:00 – Gospel of John, and “Discovering Spiritual Maturity” (201 Adult Class)
Worship at 10:15.