Wednesday, June 23, 2010

12 Weeks down...

We have officially completed 12 weeks at Paragon Church. It is funny to think about all that we have done in such a short time as a "church". God has really blessed us more than I could have ever asked for. We have great people coming together for a common goal of reaching our community for Christ. We have had great Sunday mornings that were "glitch free" and we have also had some challenges to overcome. We have had lots of people come and a few people go. If someone were to ask, I would say that we have been successful in what we have set out to do but I think William Pollard said it best... "The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow."

I look forward to what is ahead and the new challenges we will face, the new people we will reach and the church that we will continue to become.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baptism - Life Change Celebration #2 - June 20


Another great time at Ryan and Angie’s down in Corrales where I had the privilege of baptizing Ben LeFevre and Mike Napier got to baptize Alexander Armenta.  We had about 50 people there to celebrate with Root Beer Floats and have some fun in the pool on a hot summer day.

Father's Day 2010


Guns, camo, ammo boxes, root beer bottles and cheeseballs greeted our men on Father’s Day.  Thanks to the New Mexico Military History Museum for bringing out displays of old guns as well as a 1971 six-wheel drive Gama Goat.  I am grateful our church is filled with godly men that serve their families and church.  It was a great day!

Communion Service #2 - June 6


On Sunday June 6th we had our second communion service and as promised, it was different than even the first.  We took the beginning of the service to prepare for communion by looking at commandment #1 found in Exodus 20:3 – where God says “no other gods before me”.  Communion was a great time to reflect on what we put before God and get our hearts right with Him, not only because He said so, but because He is the only thing truly worthy of our praise.

Memorial Day Parade 2010


Following our “Be The Church” Sunday, we gathered as a church family to get the word out about our church and have some fun in the Annual Rio Rancho Memorial Day Parade.  We hooked up the trailer, the kids jumped on bikes, and we passed out our remaining flags to hundreds of onlookers.  It was a great day and a lot of fun.

Be The Church Sunday (May 30)


It was time to take our vision out to the community.  “Be The Church” Sunday was our chance to tell the surrounding neighborhoods that we were willing to go to them, not just expect them to come to us.  We passed out American flags with a business card attached reminding people what Memorial Day was all about… remembering the sacrifices that gave us our freedom (both physically and spiritually).

Vision in HD - Vision in 3D


The month of May a time to recall why our church exists.  We took at look at our vision in HD (making it clear why we exist) and our vision in 3D (making it real).  We need to constantly be reminded to look outward and not inward.  It is about being a life saving station, not just a club to come hang out at.

Baptism - Life Change Celebration #1 - April 25


The afternoon after our communion service, we gathered as a church family to have  our first outdoor baptism.  It was truly a celebration!  Being the fact we don’t have a building or a baptismal, we met down at Ryan and Angie’s house in Corrales.  What an awesome privilege was to be a part of baptizing Matt Petre and his two sons Brett and Daniel as well as Mike Peralta and his daughter Alix. What a beautiful picture of our commitment to live for Christ.

Communion Service #1 - April 25


Following our first sermon series, we held our first communion service.  It was an entire service dedicated to remembering what Christ did for us.  For so many churches communion is just a part of the service… 10 minutes here and we are done until next month.  Almost a ritual instead of what it is supposed to be… a time of remembrance.  We wanted something that would put all the focus where it needs to be… on Christ. It was a great service with music, scripture and times for sharing throughout.  Each person/family could come to take the elements when they felt they were ready.  It was a great time of remembering what Christ did for us.

Follow. Believe. Obey. Simple Sermon Series #1

Our first series for the new church was entitled “Simple”.  We are a church that encourages people to come as they are, just as Jesus did from the very beginning.  We first looked at how Jesus approached Matthew at the tax collector’s booth and asked him to “follow”.  He didn’t tell Matthew to change “this and that” and only then could he come and follow… instead Jesus told Matthew to follow knowing full well that as Matthew “follows” his life would be changed.

The second week we focused on “believe”.  We took a look at Paul’s letter to the church at Rome as he explained what it means to go beyond following… to move to believing…  Here is a little slice of the sermon that was taught…

Here is what he says…
Romans 3:21-26
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

BUT NOW (that means something new has come along – there was an old way of thinking BUT NOW there is something new)

A RIGHTEOUSNESS (which is defined as a “right standing with God – which is something we all want)

FROM GOD, APART FROM LAW, HAS BEEN MADE KNOWN
So this right standing with God comes from God – and here is something shocking to them and even to some of us  - APART FROM THE LAW – our right standing isn’t the way it is because of what we do – but because of what God did – and guess how that happened – because it was “MADE KNOWN”

Why did we say that Christ came – to help people understand who God is and to make Him known…. HMMM

TO WHICH THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS TESTIFY…
So all the Law that you guys have been studying and memorizing and all the religious systems they derived from it, (and Paul was one of those religious guys so he knows what he is talking about)  guess what, it has always pointed to Jesus coming and being what gives us a right standing with God.

So here is that verse in a quick breakdown…
Paul says – all that doing that every religious system makes you do to have a right standing with God (something we all want – no one wants to be on the wrong side when we die)  That giant cosmic scale that we think weighs our good stuff and our bad stuff – it’s all over!

Here is something new – something that God himself has provided… HE – GOD – has provided the RIGHT STANDING WITH HIM and it doesn’t have to do with how good we are or how good we think we are.

He says there is a way to have a right standing with God APART FROM THE LAW – Apart from HOPING you are good enough

Vs 22 – THIS RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM GOD COMES THROUGH (here is the new part – because it used to come through the Law) FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST TO ALL WHO BELIEVE

ALL who BELIEVE - It is not through anything but believing – Why is that necessary for ALL
Because ALL HAVE SINNED (some may be worse than others but if you have sinned – which you have – guess what happens)

YOU FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD (God is perfect  - that is his standard – one sin or millions of sins = not perfect)

So how do we get a right standing with God when expects perfection…

Not by trying hard (the Bible says in Isaiah 64:6 - All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Not by being consistent - Not by weighing out a huge scale in our favor

So how are we justified… what does it say in verse 24
AND ALL ARE JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT CAME FROM JESUS CHRIST

We are justified FREELY (when we see that word – FREE – we always think – what’s the catch?)

No catch – It is a gift given freely – just like you don’t have to earn Christmas gifts or birthday gifts – it is given freely – all you have to do is accept it – believe IT
Verse 25 helps answer the question of how we get right standing with God through Jesus…

GOD PRESENTED HIM AS A SACRIFICE OF ATONEMENT – the people understood this because from the beginning of sin, God had set up a sacrificial system because he knew we would screw up – a sacrifice to make up for when we fail.

Jesus became the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE… THROUGH FAITH IN HIS BLOOD (you see sacrifice wasn’t just giving something up – it meant blood)

Why did God do it…
HE DID THIS TO DEMONSTRATE HIS JUSTICE – BECAUSE IN IN HIS FORBEARANCE HE HAD LEFT THE SINS COMMITTED UNPUNISHED

(26) HE DID IT TO DEMONSTRATE HIS JUSTICE AT THE PRESENT TIME SO AS TO BE JUST AND THE ONE WHO JUSTIFIES THOSE WHO HAVE FAITH IN JESUS

Why did he do it – God saw a problem – the problem was sin.  Sin came between you and Him – between God and myself.  Since God is perfection, He could not lower the standards, he used Christ to justify our imperfections.

So God saw a problem and he became the solution.  Everyone is invited.  Jesus died for ALL because ALL have sinned and fall short.  The perfect lamb (Jesus) was sacrificed because we are all screw ups.

Because there was a problem someone had to pay – our payment of good deeds isn’t good enough

I know that is a hard pill to swallow…
But I want to challenge you to just follow.   Listen to His words, Watch what He does, Learn from the master

Someday (maybe today) the light bulb will click that Jesus came to explain God and also give us access to Him.

We all want that right standing with God.  Christianity says it is completely free… all you have to do is accept it – to believe it.

That was week #2 – then week #3 was obey… the next logical step after following and believing.
 Matthew 7:24-29
 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

What foundation are you building your life on… what set of rules are you obeying?