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Holy Spirit

For the past two weeks I’ve been leading our church through a series about the person of the Holy Spirit… I truly believe that we will not see the Biblical mission of the church carried out and the world changed apart from the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

We have accessible to us the same Holy Spirit POWER that enabled the virgin Mary to conceive the Son of God and the same Holy Spirit POWER that raised Christ Jesus from the dead.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. — Luke 1:34-35

The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. — Romans 1:3-4

When we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit within us… We give Him freedom to do what we are POWERLESS to do on our own. Here is a REAL testimony and example from our weekend worship service… this could not have happened apart from the Holy Spirit.

As I was standing at the door following our worship service a man shared with me that he did something that he could not explain other than it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He said, “Throughout the service I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to say something to the young lady in front of me, but I didn’t know who she was.” He battled with it through the service, but his faith in the Holy Spirit gave him assurance that he was to share a message with her.

So, after church he politely asked her if she had a minute and spoke these words to her… “You ARE a beautiful woman and you are going to be the best mother and give your children the childhood you always wished you had.” Pretty simple, right? To him it was nothing earth shattering.

However, when he asked me who she was and told me what the Holy Spirit prompted him to share… IT WAS A SIGNIFICANT WORD FOR HER. You see, this young lady was here for the first time in months and has been battling an addiction to heroine. She hasn’t felt beautiful in years. Also, this young lady had been adopted. He didn’t know these things… he just trusted the Holy Spirit.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough… I received a text message after church from this young lady’s mother. This is what it said… “God is so amazing! Someone had a word for my daughter that was right on target! I don’t really remember, but I don’t even think you knew about this. My daughter had been pregnant and she aborted the baby for health concerns for her and the baby (the addiction had much to do with this)… the baby was due this month. It blew her away… she told me that she had to get away from him before she started sobbing. We serve an awesome God!”

Let me remind you of the simple yet POWERFUL word that God had for this young lady… that she would have missed if this gentleman had not been listening to the Holy Spirit. “You ARE a beautiful woman and you are going to be the best mother and give your children the childhood you always wished you had.”

Will you listen to the Holy Spirit today?

 

 

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Love

This past weekend we began a new series at Terra Nova Church called Christian. The reality is that MANY things can fall under the label of ‘Christian’ and yet not truly reflect Biblical truth. In fact, Jesus didn’t call us to become Christians, but rather disciples… learners, pupils, adherents, followers. And the Bible gives CLEAR expectations for those individuals.

We discovered that one way others will know that we are His disciples is based upon how we love others.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  — John 13:34-35

Also, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was… He again replies with the idea that loving others is vital and a true reflection of being His disciples.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  — Matthew 22:36-40

So, where do we start? What does loving others really look like?

It is interesting that God’s greatest commandment doesn’t ask you to love humanity in general. It asks you to love your neighbor specifically. God wants you to love the actual people that you know. The one who borrows your stuff and doesn’t return it. The one whose dog gets in your trash and leaves unwanted deposits in your yard. The one who takes credit for your work. The one who spreads rumors about you. The one who constantly clings to you.

You would probably say that you love people in general. But do you love the specific, real live people you encounter each day? That is much more difficult, and that is what God wants from you. Love your neighbor as yourself.

When we, the Church, love others the way Jesus loves us… something incredible happens… the Gospel is put on display and totally validated in a real way!

So, GO LOVE OTHERS AS JESUS HAS LOVED YOU!

This weekend we continue our series… BOLD. I truly believe that talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions to stir your heart and develop a personal action plan.

  • What’s one of the most miraculous things you’ve ever seen or heard about?

 

READ: with your Bible or YouVersion, read Acts 4:23-37.

In this passage, Peter and John prayed bold prayers before God that led to bold results.

  • How would you describe the way you typically pray? In what ways do your prayers reflect what you believe about God?
  • What stood out to you about bold prayers after reading Peter and John’s prayers in Acts 4?
  • When was the last time you were amazed by the power of prayer? How did that experience affect your relationship with God?
  • Why do you think prayers become bolder when they are prayed together in a group?
  • What’s keeping you from changing your selfish and small prayers into bold prayers?
  • What bold prayers do you need to start praying today?
  • Peter and John’s prayers led to bold results. What bold results would you like to see come from your bold prayers?
  • What impact do you think it would have on your church if everyone began praying bold prayers?
  • In what ways have you seen the power of bold prayers build your faith in Christ?

 

NEXT STEPS:

Stop praying selfish and small prayers this week and begin to pray bold prayers. Start by picking two or three bold things to pray for. Follow the example in Acts 4 by praying for boldness in your life and in the lives of others. If you or someone you know has a great need, pray that God will work a miracle in that situation. Consider sharing your bold prayer requests with others and ask them to pray your bold prayers with you.

PRAYER GUIDE:

  • Thank God for the bold and miraculous things He has done in your life and in the lives of others.
  • Ask God for boldness in your life. Ask Him to give you boldness in your prayers, speech, obedience, and actions.
  • Share some great needs that you or someone you know may have. Pray boldly that God will work miracles in these situations.
  • Ask God to make your church bold and to stir within your church the desire for bold prayers and results.
  • Ask God to help help you make a difference in the world through your bold prayers and actions.

This weekend we began a brand-new series… BOLD. I truly believe that talking through the message during the week helps you turn what God is saying to you into action steps. These talking points, questions, and scriptures are designed to help you take the next step. Use these questions to stir your heart and develop a personal action plan.

  • What’s one of the most amazing acts of boldness that you’ve seen?

 

READ: with your Bible or YouVersion, read Acts 4:1-22.

In this passage, Peter and John exhibit such boldness before the Sadducees that it tremendously impacted those around them.

  • What can you learn about being bold for Christ from Peter and John’s example in Acts 4?
  • Peter and John were ordinary people who spoke and acted with boldness. How do you think being bolder for Christ would impact you and your relationship with God?
  • In what areas of life do you most need amazing boldness?
  • Boldness is behavior born out of belief. What beliefs about yourself do you need to change that are keeping you from living with amazing boldness?
  • Describe a time when you were bold. What was the outcome of your boldness and what did you learn from it?
  • Peter and John’s boldness amazed the Sadducees. Who could benefit from your being bold for Christ?
  • How would you rate your current level of boldness? What’s keeping you from being bold?
  • Who would you describe as being amazingly bold for Christ? What about their boldness inspires you?
  • As Jesus builds your faith, your boldness will also grow. What steps do you need to take immediately to grow your faith in Christ?

 

NEXT STEPS:

This weekend I communicated that spiritual boldness comes from knowing Christ. In other words, the more Jesus builds your faith, the more boldness you will see in your life. Take inventory of your relationship with Christ this week and see what steps you need to take immediately in order to grow your faith in Christ. Those steps could be more prayer time, increasing your time reading God’s Word, or seeking a mature believer to mentor you.

The Book of Acts is full of examples of amazing boldness as the first church began the task Jesus entrusted them with and advanced His kingdom into all the nations. During this series, read the Acts Reading Plan in YouVersion. As you read, be intentional about finding examples of bold living that you can follow in your own life and share with others.

 

PRAYER GUIDE:

  • Ask God to reveal what He would like boldness in your life to look like.
  • Thank God for the bold people He has placed in your life who have helped you grow your faith in Christ.
  • Ask God to develop amazing boldness in all areas of your life and in your faith in Christ.
  • Ask God to deepen your faith in Him so that boldness will result out of your faith.
  • Pray for those you feel would benefit in their faith by your boldness. Ask God to give you the boldness you need to impact them.

This weekend at Terra Nova Church I will be sharing about some incredible opportunities for us to BE ALL IN for the sake of the Gospel in our community. We’ve been commanded to do WAY MORE than simply fill seats during a weekend worship experience… We’ve been asked to truly BE ALL IN

We love because he first loved us. — 1 John 4:19

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” — Matthew 28:19-20

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. — Matthew 16:24

Jesus was certainly ALL IN for us…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8

So, as you prepare your heart for this weekend at Terra Nova Church… or just preparing to celebrate the resurrection in a couple weeks… watch this video to discover what ALL IN really looks like.

Are you really ALL in?

Cheap ImitationThere are many things in our culture that have been ‘knocked off’ and replaced by a cheap imitation… Things like soft drinks, designer handbags, perfumes, toys, and even household items. We’ve heard the phrase “OFTEN IMITATED, BUT NEVER DUPLICATED” and can immediately think of many things that fall into this category. But have you ever thought of the Church of today as a cheap imitation?

Scripture gives us a very clear picture of how the Church should look and feel… Dive into the book of Acts!

As we see how the Church lived and interacted in scripture it doesn’t take long to see that perhaps we no longer reflect the REAL THING, but rather we’ve become a CHEAP IMITATION. If we truly want to resist ‘Imitation Status’ there are several things that today’s Church must mirror from the Early Church.

The Early Church…

1. Understood the GOSPEL. They didn’t just raise their hand or pray a silent prayer… they understood self-denial and truly surrendered their life, will, and agenda to Christ.

2. GAINED a hunger for God’s Word and His people. In Acts 2 they devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship. They pursued the Word. They did not wait for Sunday! The Word and His people were… and still are… vital to successfully walking with Christ.

3. GATHERED Often. They genuinely loved one another! They did REAL life together! They had ALL things in common! Nobody had to force community… nobody had to be convinced to attend a small group!

4. Were compelled to GO. The Early Church did not have the ‘come and get it’ mentality, but rather understood that they were responsible to carry the life-changing gospel to others. It wasn’t the pastor’s job to share the gospel… it was everyone’s job!

5. Had GLAD hearts… They had an attractive demeanor. People enjoyed being around the Early Church. People longed to have what they had. There is a vast difference today… If you don’t believe me… ask a waitress on a Sunday afternoon!

6. GAVE generously. They gave with no expectation of anything in return. They gave because it becomes the DNA of one who has truly surrendered to Christ. In fact, those on the outside looking in were more attracted by generosity than by theology.

7. Experienced radical GROWTH. There is a natural response to the REAL THING. When we refuse to be a CHEAP IMITATION and strive to live out the model before us in scripture… HE will build HIS Church!

Guest Post By Justin McLemore

Justin serves on the Leadership Team at Terra Nova Church. This is a topic that he has become intent on helping others understand and walk through in a Biblical and God honoring way. Thanks Justin for your perspective!

Have you ever been in conflict with someone?  I know that I have and I’m positive that you have also.  We all have had someone hurt us, upset us, or say negative things about us.  In turn, we may be the person that has done these same things to someone else.  Our natural human response to conflict is to respond to it, but we don’t always do so in the best way possible.  We feel the need to defend ourselves, and we do it verbally and sometimes physically.  What tends to happen is a slight misunderstanding turns into a huge nightmare.

Conflict results in damaged relationships that sometimes are never repaired.  This causes problems among a church because healthy relationships are  essential for a sound and effective ministry.  In Ephesians 4:31-32 it says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  The Bible outlines in detail how to effectively resolve conflict, and that is what I am going to discuss.

Conflict among the church body is caused by three things.  The first thing that causes it is when we hurt others.  The second way it is caused is when we are hurt BY others.  Lastly, envy causes conflict among the body.  This could be us envious of someone or them envious of us.  Pastor Rick Warren said this about envy, “Envy makes us misread when others succeed, sin when others win, spread falsehood when others do good, and obsess over other’s success.”
   
So what sort of problems does conflict cause among the church body? 
 
It causes the following:
 
  1. It divides the body.  Ephesians 4:3-6 says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
  2. It causes distrust.  If you are in conflict with someone, it is almost impossible to trust them.  We begin to second guess everything that they say or do because we believe they have an ulterior motive of hurting us.
  3. It causes resentment or hostility.  We begin to get angry.  We pick apart everything that they do because we don’t want them to succeed.  This causes us to respond in anger or bitterness to anything that involves them.
  4. It becomes a distraction to everything God has called us to do.  Conflict takes away time and energy that could be well used to reach the lost and help the hurting.  It is not God’s will for conflict to be present among the body.

 

We need to end conflict before it damages the body, but it must be done biblically.  The first guideline is to always have direct contact with the person you are trying to resolve conflict with.  This means face to face discussions with the person.  Do not do it through social media, texting, or e-mail.  The problem that arises from these types of contact is that we are much more likely to say things through typing that we would NEVER say face to face.  It drags out the conflict and they can be easily misinterpreted.  This can cause even more conflict to occur.
 
The second guideline is to handle it as quickly as possible.  When we wait we allow the problem to fester inside of us and it grows into a bigger problem.  The longer we wait, we give the Devil a foothold to wreck havoc on the relationship and cause bigger, more difficult problems.  Ephesians 4:26-27 commands us, “In your anger do not sin; do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”
   
The third guideline is to always assume the best about the person.  It’s a funny thing but when we have a conflict with another person, we always think/assume the worst about them.  We think that they are evil and truly mean to hurt us, and they are out to get us.  In John 13:34 Jesus commands us, “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  Love always assumes the best about someone.
   
The fourth guideline is stop expecting them to read your mind.  The person(s) may not even know that they have hurt you, so you need to make them aware of the situation.  Go to them face to face, assuming the best about them and calmly walk them through why what they said or did offended you.  This leads us to the next guideline.  Stop waiting on them to approach you.  If there is a problem, deal with it!!!  Matthew 5:23-24 discusses this very thing when it says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift here in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”  Be mature and make the first step towards reconciliation.  Perry Noble said this about maturity: “Maturity is when a person is willing to seize responsibility instead of just waiting on something to happen.”
   
The final guideline is to deal with the issue privately.  Do not go public!  Matthew 18:15 commands us to deal with the person privately and if they listen you have won back your friend. If they don’t, then go back with someone else as a witness and if they still won’t listen then bring it before the church.  If you go public, it makes the conflict into a bigger problem, and you can cause division because other people begin to take sides.  This also applies to attacking people on social media or the internet.
   
In conclusion, we will always have conflicts come up in our lives because as imperfect people, we will hurt others or be hurt by someone.  Conflict can cause severe damage to relationships that in turn damage the church body.  We are commanded in God’s word how to handle conflict so that damage will be minimum.  As you have been reading this blog, I am positive that some unresolved conflict has been brought to the forefront of your mind.  This is God convicting you to resolve the issue.  Please don’t wait, because relationships are worth saving and very important to our survival and growth as a believer in Jesus Christ.

I went for a much-needed bike ride this morning. While the bike ride was needed, it was the alone time with God that I was actually pursuing. It was such a refreshing time… emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

If you’ve ever spent much time outdoors, you know that a variety of SMELLS exist. This became very evident for me while on my ride. There were many smells, but I just want to mention two. These two smells would be “bookends” on opposite ends of the spectrum. So, what were they?

The stench of the SEWER TREATMENT PLANT and the refreshing aroma of a HONEYSUCKLE VINE. See I told you that they were complete opposites!

As I considered these contrasting odors, I began to think about and ponder the following scripture…

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

So, the reality is this… to some YOU JUST STINK… and to others YOUR LIFE IS A SWEET FRAGRANCE.

To those who are rebellious toward the drawing of God… YOU STINK. Let’s face it, the Gospel is offensive. The Gospel informs people, among other things, the following…

  • You are a sinner by nature and choice.  (Romans 3:10-18)
  • You are under the wrath of an almighty God. (Romans 1:18 ; Romans 2:5)
  • You can’t fix yourself. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
  • Your best efforts to do good are more stinky than a pile of poo and filthy menstual rags.
  • You cannot know God via any other means or religions outside of Christ, everything else is damnable. (John 14:6)

 

If you are living or preaching a Gospel that’s not offending, THEN YOU ARE NOT LIVING OR PREACHING THE RIGHT GOSPEL. The results of the Gospel will always be drastic. It will either result in radical life-change or anger and even persecution towards the one who proclaims it.

However, we can’t end this post with that because the Gospel is also GOOD NEWS! It is a SWEET FRAGRANCE to those recieving it because the benefits are MANY… salvation, eternity with God, unity with Goddeepest satisfaction and joy, personal holiness, freedom from sin, and a life that brings glory to God.

So, following my bike ride… Me and God are good… I can’t say the same for how others percieve me (or my spiritual odor), but that’s okay! My pursuit is to know Jesus and make Him known today!

With that being said, DON’T try to cover or mask your odor for acceptence of those who think YOU STINK… it’s really NOT YOU THAT STINKS… that’s really the smell of THEIR OWN SIN. Keep being salt and light and continue loving and pointing them to JESUS!

In closing…

How do you smell today?

How do others smell to you?

How does your life smell to God?

The Gospel… How I long for the Church of America to be awakened…

If this post and this video activates the Gospel within you… please share it!

 

The following post is from Jud Wilhite, an author, speaker, and the Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas… the original version of this post can be found at his blog

When I finished reading I was overcome with a burden… a burden that will refuse to let what God is doing at Terra Nova Church ever die! Oh, sure it may look different in the years to come or even happen under a different name or banner, but as long as there is breath within me… may we LIVE!

Enjoy the read…

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A while back someone sent me this story written by Don Linscott on why he is glad his church needs money. I found it very powerful and a good perspective for churches and members doing their best to faithfully be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting world.

Here is his story:

On July 23, 1970, my wife, Connie, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. For three years we had tried unsuccessfully to start a family so our joy was great with the arrival of what was to be our only biological child. We later adopted a daughter. Lance was born before it became acceptable for the father to be present in the delivery room. (A fact for which I have ever been grateful!)

I waited in the hallway just outside the delivery room. At precisely 4:13 p.m., I heard a sound I will never forget, Lance’s first cry. The nurse emerged with a smile and said, “You have a baby boy.”

I casually responded, “Yes, I know.” I had never doubted we would have a son. I could hardly wait to get Connie and Lance out of the hospital and back home so I could get my hands on them.

The wonderful glow of fatherhood was soon dimmed, however, when I was asked to visit the business office of the hospital. They wanted me to pay for Lance! In fact, it seemed to me that my wife and child might be held hostage until the hospital bill was settled. I wrote the check paying all the expenses in full, freed my family, and we made our escape. That check turned out to be only the first of hundreds, maybe thousands, I would write on Lance’s behalf.

Children are expensive. There was formula and food to buy. Doctor visits and vaccinations assaulted my banking account. Diapers and toys took their toll. And clothes were a constant drain. Just about the time we built a great wardrobe for the kid, he would grow, forcing us to start all over again.

As his age and size increased so did the expenses. Soon it was baseball gloves, Nike shoes and uniforms. There were glasses for his eyes and braces for his teeth. And then, disaster struck.

Lance became a teenager! Now it was cars and dates and name-brand clothes. Then came college. Lance had always, and only, wanted to be an architect. It seemed to me he would be in school until he was forty-two years old. Expenses soared! Tuition, books, and drawing tools led the long list of essential expenditures. But, of course, just like parents everywhere, we were happy to be able to help him and we did all we could to support his growth and his dreams.

And then, one day, Lance died.

On Halloween Day, 1991, we buried twenty-one-year-old Lance in our church’s country cemetery. That afternoon we walked away from his grave and since that day we have never spent another nickel on Lance.

That’s how I learned it.

Death is cheap. Death can be sustained without expense. It is living that is costly. It is growth that is expensive. Our dreams, visions, and hopes require sacrifice. Death doesn’t!

That’s why I will always belong to a church that needs money.

A living, growing, thriving church will always require the continual, consistent, and conscientious financial support of its members.