Friday, July 31, 2015

The Volunteer Meeting RECAP

Sunday, July 26 was a great day.  I was excited to see all of those who showed up to eat, connect, and have the desire to serve this fall.  It is going to be an exciting year and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in our church and through our church.

There was a problem though.  I was distracted.  I had so much I wanted to say but a number of things kept me off balance and I didn’t communicate some of the most important things I wanted to express.

So, with that, here is what I wanted to say…

FIRST OF ALL… THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  The volunteers at Paragon are awesome!  I am so grateful for each and every person that takes time to serve the people of Paragon and the people of Rio Rancho.

Whether it be cleaning or teaching or making coffee or greeting or…  you are making a bigger difference than you may ever know.  You really are changing lives.

And that is why we do what we do… to change lives… to change the world.

We exist as a church to be an agent of change.  To see lives change and ultimately see our world change.

Our vision at Paragon is help people grow closer in their relationship to Jesus Christ. 
Whether a person has no knowledge of Jesus or a person has been “walking” with Him for years, we want to be catalysts in seeing people deepen their connection with Him daily.

Simply put, we want you to Come as you are.  Be Changed.  Go change the world. 

It is why we do what we do.  To see God change us and to see God change others.

Why is that important to know?  Because we must know that weekend services, connection groups, Bible studies, and any other gathering is more than just an event, it is our vision in action.

We have a tendency to miss that in the church and in our lives.  Everything we do is pointing towards our end goal, our vision.

Like Andy Stanley says, “You’re going to end up somewhere.  It might as well be on purpose.”

The concept of vision is all throughout the Scriptures.  Abraham carried within himself the vision of land and a multitude of descendants.  Moses led the Children of God with the vision of the Promise Land in mind.  Joshua advanced his army with a vision in mind.  Jonah had a vision that turned him the other way.  The magi traveled a great distance over a great period of time with the vision of meeting the newly born King.  Jesus had a vision in mind to save you, me, and the rest of the world.

For the church (our church), our end goal is to see lives and our world change.

Not only is the vision important to know, it is also critically important to keep fresh and up front.  Why?

Vision creates unity.  It unites people around God’s leadership.
Vision creates energy.  It moves us from stagnancy to mission.
Vision provides purpose.  It helps us realize we are a part of something significant.
Vision fosters risk-taking.  To fulfill a God sized vision, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
Vision enhances leadership.  It keeps leadership on task.
Vision promotes excellence.  It does not permit laziness or sloppiness.
Vision sustains ministry.  It keeps us focused and moving forward (even when you might want to throw in the towel).

Here is another question to ponder… What drives our vision?
Our Core Values… that which oozes from us… which is communicated from us at all times… it is what flows from the heart (you show what value by what you do)

Here are the ones I have written down (though we need to work on them oozing from us)

#1 - GOSPEL CENTERED (and every other one hinges on this fact)

#2 - WORSHIP (both corporate and individual)
  • through being and doing

#3 - PRAYER (both corporate and individual)

#4 - DISCIPLESHIP (be a disciple - make a disciple)
  • Saved people serve people - Growing People change

#5 - EVANGELISM (reaching people - reaching a community)
  • Found people Find people
  • In the book of Acts, the church was growing.  It says in 2:47 that the church was “adding daily those who were being saved.” 
  • How do we add daily those who are being saved?

#6 - CONNECTION (with God, with each other, with community)
  • realize you can’t do life alone

These six things will be the driving force behind our vision to reach our community for Christ and see life change take place. 

You may say, that is a BIG TASK - how can we accomplish that?   The answer is “just like eating an elephant… one bite at a time.”

One bite at a time. 

Do you realize that when Moses was called to get God’s people out, it was a big task?  Every step along the way he followed God.  Even as he was taking the Israelites out of Egypt that he stopped at the edge of the Red Sea and waited for God to show up.  He didn’t try to figure it out on his own… he waited, he listened, and he followed.

We wait for God to show up.
We follow God’s leading and direction.

Today I would like you to PRAY for God to show up and direct you on where to go… where to serve… who to disciple… who to be discipled by… where to plug in… who to share the love of Christ with.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A discussion on Disgust

This past weekend (July 25-26) we talked about the movie Inside Out and focused on disgust (you can hear the message HERE).  The ending challenge was, if something disgusts you, do something about it.  Here are some things to work through by yourself, with your family, or with friends.

Revelation 3:14-22 (ESV)
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

SEE THROUGH Jesus EYES.  (see the world with a Biblical Worldview)
A Worldview is the core set of beliefs a person has by which he/she interprets all that is experienced in life, that life is built on, the filter through which all decisions are made, etc.

READ THIS TEXT:  Matthew 9:35-38  (ESV)
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

·      What did Jesus see?  How did He respond?
·      What do you see while you are going?  How do you/did you respond?

What does COMPASSION look like?
·      The word “compassion” literally means to “suffer with.”  A powerful deep awareness of someone else’s hurt, pain, suffering, etc, that moves you to respond. 
·      Did you know there are over 90 references to compassion in the Bible (most are linked to Jesus)

·      Compassion isn’t to be confused with sympathy which is being sad about another’s sadness, nor is it empathy, when that sorrow is expressed to the saddened one, nor is it pity which often moves us to what to help “if we only could.”  COMPASSION goes a step farther.  It is more than a feeling, more than a mere desire to help, it creates a determination and then a decision to ACTUALLY HELP - even if only in a small way.

·      Take some time this week to look up the references to “compassion” in the Bible.  Use your concordance or GOOGLE it.

The verse to highlight… 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.

·      What did the priest and the Levite see?  How did they respond?
·      What did the Samaritan see?  How did he respond?
·      In the story, do you see an opportunity or a problem?

(our worldview shapes our perspective of a situation)

THE CHALLENGE:  Do something this week….
1.  PRAY.  “Pray earnestly” as Jesus directed.
·      Would you agree that “…the harvest is plentiful?”
·      Would you agree that there are people out there that are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd?”
·      Would you agree that there are people who are beaten down by life, being passed by on the other side by those who see them as a problem, not an opportunity?

PRAY THIS WEEK to God that He will send workers into the fields of the harvest… that he would send YOU.

2.  SEE.  See through Jesus eyes.
·      Study the context of the 90+ passages about compassion.  How does Jesus do what He does and what actions does He take?
·      PRAY that God would give you compassion to DO SOMETHING in His Name.

3.  ACT.  Put yourself in the place with the most potential.
·      Make it a point to not just sit and be fed, but exercise your gifts wherever God calls you to do it.

·      Don’t give excuses.  If God is calling, answer

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Day 40 - Coming Home

Revelation 21:1-4 (ESV) - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 He came back home with amazing stories of a faraway land that his fellow residents of Venice found impossible to believe. A land in the East with cities that dwarfed the great cities of Europe, a culture that had paper currency, a mysterious exploding powder, and a king whose palace dwarfed the great castles of Europe, with a dining hall that could seat 6,000 people eating on plates made of gold. Marco Polo lived for seventeen years in China, having been accepted into the court of the most powerful man on earth, Kublai Khan, in the year 1266. To his dying day, Marco Polo was rejected by skeptics who found his tale too far-fetched.

Some find it hard to believe that there is a future state of being called “a new heaven and a new earth.” A new creation. A restoration of the way things ought to be. A reversal of sin and war, earthquakes and hurricanes, disease and temptation. A condition in which there is no death, no pain, no tears. 

Yet this is exactly what you would expect God the Almighty to do. He wants us to be home with him.
Our place, in his plan, is to come home. Finally, truly, irrevocably—home. 

This call of God in Revelation, this promise of “a new heaven and a new earth,” has one all-important characteristic: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.” In Genesis Adam and Eve fled the home of the garden and entered the hard life of the field. Ever since, people have lived away from home: in Egypt, in Babylonia, under Roman occupation. In sin, transgression, rebellion, conflict, divorce, unemployment, illness, fear. 

All that will be swept away, and we will dwell with God in a new condition beyond imagining.

PONDER:  Dwelling with God begins now. What are some ways your life can be different if you fully believe that you belong to God every hour of every day? 

What does home mean to you? Revelation is a book of the Bible that brings us hope. We are told in Revelation that on the day Jesus returns that we will finally be home with God forever.  What does that mean to you.

Day 39 - You are an Advertisement

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) - But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The advertising industry is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. Some of the most creative and intelligent people in the world develop campaigns using a multitude of media to represent products, services, and interests to capture people’s imaginations (and money!). In Latin, the word “ad vertere” means literally to turn the mind toward.

Peter was no advertising genius. But he did understand the people of God were his “advertisement” in a hostile and evil world. Peter wrote to Christians experiencing increasing suffering and persecution under the ruthless Roman emperor, Nero. Peter used numerous images that have their roots in the Old Testament to remind the beleaguered Christians of their identity and role as the people of God in a hostile world. 

Peter tells the early Christ-followers that they are “a chosen people,” a select people defined and unified by common habits or characteristics. He calls them a royal priesthood and holy nation. Peter roots their identity in the Old Testament concept of the priesthood. In the Old Testament priests were to represent the people to God and God to the people. Peter refers to Exodus 19:6 when God tells Moses that among the pagan nations, Israel as a nation was to be a “kingdom of priests.” The nation of Israel as a whole was to represent the reality of God to a hostile world. Representatives embody the interests, values, and identity of an agent (in this case God) to a foreign entity. 

Peter then tells the persecuted church that they are a people of God’s own possession—the idea that God has marked a ring around this people to identify them as particularly his. For what purpose? For the people to literally be a walking advertisement—to proclaim or publish abroad his excellencies, the very things that characterize God and his heart for the human race: namely, loving one’s neighbor, social compassion, fairness, honesty, sexual integrity, economic generosity, and justice. 

Peter’s words remind the church that we are a representative people, a walking “ad vertere” of God’s holiness and character, and that this has deep implications for how we engage in the realities of society and everyday relationships.

PONDER:  If your life were an ad campaign for the reality of God in the world, what would it turn people’s minds toward? 

If someone were to closely watch your life what would they see? Would they see you as a follower of God? Or would they focus on how much time you spend at work? Or in the garden? Imagine your family as a living advertisement. What are you advertising?

Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. These verses say that we are chosen to proclaim the excellences of God. How are you being a light for those around you? What are you --- is your family advertising?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Day 38 - Genealogy of Faith

Hebrews 11:1-2 (ESV) - Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.

Genealogy, the study of family ancestry, has gone high tech., the largest genealogy company in the world, has over two million paying subscribers who research their family lineage. From over eleven billion online records, researchers and ancestry sleuths can explore newspaper archives going back 300 years, peruse ships’ passenger lists, discover old photos, and explore over forty million family trees. All this to find out something about the ordinary people, the heroes, the scoundrels, and mavericks that are part of one’s genealogy. 

Hebrews 11 (READ) pointed the early Christians to their spiritual genealogy and noted that the ancients were commended for their faith. Faith is not an abstract concept but a practical reality that was lived out in the lives of all those mentioned in Hebrews 11. The author of Hebrews points out two orientations of faith: faith looks forward to the future with confidence and hope that God will fulfill his promises, and faith also looks up, with assurance of the unseen reality of God’s presence.

The rest of the chapter is simply a history lesson of people with this kind of faith orientation. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel, and countless unnamed men and women who had one thing in common: their calling and sending by God was under-girded by faith. As we reimagine our place in God’s plan, faith lies at the core of that re-imagination. The lives and examples of these ancients represent our genealogy of faith—and they teach important lessons today:
  • Faith means outcomes cannot be manipulated.
  • Faith requires a deep trust in God, not self.
  • Faith requires a first step.
  • Faith means not losing hope that God’s purpose will ultimately prevail, though beyond our understanding.
  • Faith is illogical by human measure, but pleases God.
  • Faith is played out on the stage of real human scenarios and relationships.
  • Faith means results cannot be controlled and they may never be seen.
  • Faith assumes a response to God’s call.
  • Faith is necessary to live a life of personal holiness, justice, and compassion.
  • Faith means trusting the Holy Spirit to work through human weakness, inadequacies, and sinfulness.
Our spiritual ancestors remind us that faith is foundational to living out one’s place in God’s plan!

PONDER:  Which of the mentioned lessons of living by faith do you find most difficult?

Hebrews 11 is referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” The chapter begins with a definition of faith and then goes on to list ordinary people from the Bible who accomplished extraordinary things through faith. When we are no longer around, what will people say about our faith?


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 37 - Our Work, Our Dignity

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (ESV) - and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

One day, Martin Luther was approached by a working man who wanted to know how he could serve God. Luther asked the man: “What is it that you do now?” to which the man replied, “I am a shoemaker.”

The man was stunned to hear Luther’s response: “Then make good shoes and sell them at a fair price.” 

It is so easy to speak about “the call of God” and think that it refers only to some religious or spiritual activity or profession. The tragedy of that way of thinking is that the few who are pastors or missionaries, monks or priests, take the role of the elite who have a place in the world defined by God, but everybody else is left to live life shuffling around, trying to scrounge a living, hold things together, be somewhat happy, and die with a few good memories people can speak of at their funeral.

God has a different view of things.

“Reimagining our place in God’s plan” includes envisioning the ways in which God uses the ordinary work we do for his purposes in the world. The shoemaker does not need to become a pastor to be “called.” Society needs shoemakers, ironworkers, teachers, engineers, grocery store managers, data entry clerks, cops, cooks, and cleaners. Society needs moms and dads, captains and lieutenants, students and senators.

This is the way God works. It is the dignity of work. It is the meaning of “vocation” (which comes Latin vocare “to call”).

Imagine this: believers in every corner of society—our schools, businesses, legislatures, neighborhoods, the arts, media, and science—bringing the mind of Christ to their work, seeking the common good. This is what Paul meant when he said: “Each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (1 Cor. 7:17).
So if your task today is to make some shoes or raise your kids or analyze some spreadsheets, remember this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Col. 3:23).

PONDER:   What is the equivalent in your life of “make good shoes and sell them at a fair price”?

It is easy for society to look at children - young adults - young singles - and to assume that they have nothing to contribute. This is simply not true. In fact the faith of a child is what Jesus asks for, and children can set an example for people that is both honest and real. In 1 Thessalonians we are told to live “so that our daily life may win the respect of outsiders...” We can pass this truth on to children.

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. What might it mean for you to work with your hands? Do you have to do work at school? Do you do chores? What does respect mean? How can you act so that others respect how you are living?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 36 - God's Signature

Colossians 3:17 (ESV) - And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

There were fifty-six signers to the United States Declaration of Independence. Their signatures on this historic document indicated their intent to act on behalf of the American colonies. The last paragraph contains these lines:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America,in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States.
The signatures of the Founding Fathers of the United States indicated that their actions and words were being executed in the name of and on behalf of the American colonists. A new nation was formed and the world was changed.

Paul tells the Colossian believers to let their words and deeds be done in the name of the Lord Jesus. To say and do something in the name of someone else means that an individual is acting or speaking as a representative of another person. Their actions and deeds reflect the intent, character, and attributes of the one being represented. Paul exhorts the Colossian believers to let their lives— both words and deeds—reflect the intent, character, and attributes of Christ.

Paul’s statement here is not some lofty, abstract theory, but a summary statement of the previous verses, where he depicts how the transformative power of Christ works itself out in one’s everyday interactions. This ethic of what it is to characterize life in Christ includes compassion, love, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (3:12–14). For the Christian, such living is rooted in and flows out of the reality of what God has done at the core of our very being and humanity: We have been “raised up with Christ” (3:1); we have a “new self which is being renewed in the image of the Creator” (3:10); we are his chosen ones, holy and beloved (3:12).

To speak and act on behalf of another is a privilege and a responsibility. God has put his signature on his people—indicating his will and intent that our words and deeds be done on his behalf in the places he sends us.

PONDER:  Imagine something to say or do today, on behalf of Christ, that might make a difference for someone.

In the letter to the Colossians Paul says that everything believers do should be done to represent Jesus. This idea of representation still holds true for us today. When others who know we are followers of Jesus see us, do they see a picture of God?

Read Colossians 3:17. Do your friends know that you have a relationship with Jesus? Part of having a relationship with Jesus is the Fruit of the Spirit. Read Galatians 5:22-23. Which of these fruit do you show in your life? Which fruit do you need to have more of?