Grade Us

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This week I’m at a conference for ministers who serve in churches the size of Forum and larger. I won’t go into the numbers of people some of these ministers are serving because it can become overwhelming and can cause some to say, “Is that Scott’s focus? Is that what our church is focused on?” 

I’m very happy to say, “God is the one who grows His church. We simply respond to the growth God sends to us.” 

Secondly, it’s  easy to purposefully say, “Our focus is to intentionally connect people to Jesus.” As a staff, as leaders, as people serving within this ministry - that’s our focus. We don’t focus on numbers or on pecking order in terms of “how big” our church is compared to others. God would have us to be a healthy, thriving church family ever connecting people to Jesus. 

While being around these very Godly, mission-driven, and high-capacity leaders, some common characteristics emerge very quickly. I’ll share some observations about these healthy, thriving churches: 

  1. They are completely and intensely focused on God’s word, preaching, and teaching throughout their ministries. 
  2. There is a constant pursuit of unity through seeking God’s leadership. There’s a high awareness that Jesus is Lord of the church.
  3. Intentionality and pursuit of excellence are highly valued and prized.
  4. Ministry innovation, change, and failure are part of the fabric of their pursuit of doing ministry.
  5. “Wins” are loudly and frequently celebrated so the culture of the ministry aligns with values. 

I’d like you to grade Forum on these observations:

Where can we grow?
How can you help us to enhance this and help us grow?

Keep praying intensely for our ministry. 

This Sunday we continue in the “I AM” Jesus sermon series focusing on the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I was sitting next to a minister who leads a ministry of around 8500 in the Raleigh-Durham area. Their ministry is going through a series right now titled “I am second.” Among the central truths arising from “I AM” is the reality that He is on His throne. He has the right and authority to save. He communicates to us, “This is the way things are. This is how you are saved: through relationship with me. It’s not about family heritage. It’s not about nationality. It’s about a personal relationship with me.” 

I tell you the truth, I was bummed this past Sunday because I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE worshiping at Forum, doing life together, and seeing the constant forward movement of God within this community. 

Can’t wait for Sunday. See you then. 

PS - Our staff is moving into the new offices and we’ll have movement and new classrooms around the facility. This is another one of those moves that’s going to serve our community and congregation very, very well. Thanks for your constant faithfulness in giving, prayer, and service!

The Power of Change

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes. - Paul

One of the perpetual questions I ask is this: “Is true change possible?” 

Scripture asks a similar question and gives an answer that’s not very encouraging: 

"Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil." - Jeremiah 13:23

That was written in the Old Testament, before the life-giving change agent, the Holy Spirit, came into the world. Regardless, it hits at the core of our existence, doesn’t it? 

Do you have the capacity to change?
Fatalism/Determinism would say, “Nah - that’s your lot in life. Stinks to be you.”
Cockeyed optimism would say, “Oh yes, people are always changing for the better.”
Realism might say, “Only to the degree the person is willing to put in the effort.”
Someone from Missouri would say, “I have to see it to believe it.”
How do we change? Why do we change? 
For the next minute of your reading time, I want to focus on that last question. While this isn’t a comprehensive answer, it is a partial one: We change due to a change in perspective. 
Let me illustrate:
Let’s say you’re in a situation where it is pitch black and you literally cannot see. Light comes on, suddenly you realize you have been surrounded by all kinds of things that disgust you. 

You thought you were fine. Lights on. Now you’re disgusted. 

What changed? Literally nothing other than exposure and enlightenment. 

The question that remains would be, “Now that the lights came on, do you want to change your location? Will you? Or will you simply adjust to the problems surrounding you?”

The smart move is change! Change location. Change position. Change. Rather than mitigating, change! 

So we see Jesus who says, “I am the light of the world.” His light exposes a lot, wouldn’t you agree? As we come into the light, we have to make a choice: “Do I choose the light or do I choose to stay in the darkness?” “Is Jesus okay with 50 shades of grey?” “I’ve been in the dark so long; I think I might actually prefer the dark.”
We’re in a brand new series called, “I AM Jesus.” This week we are looking at Jesus as the light of the world. We’ll talk about the beautiful light of Jesus. 

A couple of quick announcements: 
1. There will be church-wide information distributed in all three morning services about some of our church metrics from 2017. We’ll have our annual meeting at 1:30 in the lobby for any who would like to ask further questions.

2. I need to keep the 4 services starting March 18 in front of us. We need more workers and servant leaders for each service. Please make it more than a matter of prayer, but also one of action. 

Looking forward to another great worship encounter with you and the Lord this Sunday.

73 Cars in 2 Minutes

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The new location of our offices will keep God’s mission for us vividly in front of us. Here’s a picture of the intersection that we see from the common space in the offices. While taking the picture, I set my stopwatch and counted cars. 73 cars in 2 minutes passed through that intersection at a non-peak time. 

I believe God positioned this ministry here to impact this community for Jesus Christ. And we are. 

But here’s the deal, Christ isn’t interested in crowds. He’s interested in commitment. 

Christ isn’t concerned about demographics. Christ is concerned about disciples. 

This Sunday we start into a brand new series called, “I AM Jesus.” There are 7 “I AM” statements in the gospel of John. Each one of them gives us a glimpse into the beautiful character of God. 

The first one is not a crowd pleaser. In fact, it’s just the opposite - it’s a crowd scatterer. 

So let me use this platform to remind you of something you won’t like:

  • God doesn’t need you. 
  • God doesn’t need me. 
  • God/I AM is doing quite well with or without my involvement. 

So big crowds are following Jesus. His popularity is high on the rise. Then John 6 hits. Attendance plummets. “Not as popular as you were just an hour ago Jesus.” 

Jesus is unconcerned with being popular. 

Jesus, my friends and people I love, is Lord. 

So at this corner, while we are surrounded by crowds, while we draw crowds, and while we desire to intentionally connect people to Jesus, we will never candy coat the reality of Jesus and his Lordship. 

With the new gym, we will draw more people into the facility. We continue to build community partnerships and expose people to our facility and ministry. But realize just because a person was born in a garage doesn’t make them a car. Simply getting people into a facility or getting them around church people, etc. does not make them a follower of Jesus. That is a choice of their will. A choice we are praying people make on a daily basis. A daily choice that says, “Today I choose by faith to strap on Christ’s cross. He is my Lord and today I lay my life down for him.” 

Love doing life and church with you all. Looking forward to a stellar worship encounter with our Lord together this Sunday.

Surf's Up

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A mentor in ministry, Phil Newberry, once told me that doing ministry is a lot like surfing. There are times when you ride the waves. There are times when you get yourself in position for the next wave. There are times you wait for the next wave. Then there’s the time to ride the next wave. 

As a minister, I see this type of cycle a lot. It happens on personal levels in life. It happens in the life of a church body. 

I’ll make these quick observations connected to these cycles:
Riding the wave is intense and fun. This past Sunday, Forum eclipsed all non-holiday Sundays in terms of attendance. When things are going great at work or at home - there’s this joy of riding high. 

Once the wave is ridden out, you’ve got to get yourself in position to catch the next one. This requires energy, effort, and positional awareness to know where to go. For you as an individual, that means asking, “What’s next?” “What’s next in my business?” “What’s next for our family?” “How can we get in position to maximize things?” For us as a church and church leaders the questions center on, “Where is God moving and how do we join Him (get there)?”

Then you wait. Move too soon and it’s a bust. Move too late and it’s a missed opportunity. This is one of the hardest things for people to do. We’re not good at waiting. But move in synch, and there’s a poetic beauty that unfolds. Don’t you want that type of godly beauty developing in your life? It’s the type of beauty God desires within your life and within His kingdom. As a ministry, we are kind of in steps 2 and 3 as we ramp up for 4 services starting on March 18th. We’re getting in position. We’re praying and waiting on new workers, new servants, and the next wave God is going to send us.

Then it’s time to ride. This requires an incredible amount of energy as your effort meets the inertia of the surging wave. As a ministry, we continually ask, “How can we connect more people with Jesus?” As the Lord leads us, we strive to get ready to expend the energy to catch His wave. 

This Sunday, we’ll look at a person who was in this exact type of cycle (Big shocker - spoiler alert: We are all in this type of cycle every day of our lives). You’ve got people around you in your life in this type of a cycle and they don’t recognize it or know what to do about it. This is a great Sunday to introduce them to church - so invite them. 

This Sunday, we’ll look at God’s timing, at how God defines our purposes, and how God is ever with those who follow and trust Him. We’ll look intensely at Exodus 3. Looking forward to another great encounter worshiping the Lord with you.

Just for fun, I’ve included a picture of my preaching/teaching compadre surfing in this article. Enjoy and we’ll see you Sunday. 

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Progress

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In that I’m getting asked one on one a lot about the progress on our facility, I know many of you have questions so here’s a quick update:

  • The new parking lot is 80% done with a permanent top layer to be put down in the spring.
  • The office area will be done by the end of January. 
  • The family life center will be done in August.

As ever, we don’t let up on the mission to “intentionally connect people to Jesus.” 

Toward that end, we are adding a 4th service on March 18th. Times will be 8, 9, 10:15, 11:30. The 11:30 service will end around 12:15 (which is about when we let out 3rd service now. 

To fully pull this together, we will be needing additional workers and leaders in specifically our preschool and children’s areas. We’ll equip you and get you the needed tools for this to happen. 

We’ll need more people to work in our guest services and hospitality areas as well. 

Work, Study, Serve 

If I could challenge all of us to worship an hour, study an hour (doesn’t necessarily need to be on Sunday morning. Life groups, men’s and ladies’ groups, even using online studies work), and serve an hour that will truly help to advance the kingdom of God. 

Did you know? 

Currently there are over 300 people serving each week helping to make ministry happen. Over the next month, we need that involvement number to grow to 400-450. For this ministry to continue to thrive, we need you to serve. 

New Beginnings

As ever, I’m so looking forward to us being in God’s word this Sunday. This Sunday is a perfect - and I mean perfect - Sunday to invite someone to church. We continue in the “New Beginnings” series that focuses on “small steps by a person that yield big moves by God.” This weekend has it all: Dreams, Drama, Success, Unresolved family issues, Betrayal, (sounds like a newsfeed in social media, doesn’t it?), and one individual at the center of it all. We’re going to look at the small steps he took that yielded mammoth results. You don’t want to miss this one. 

See you this Sunday!

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The grandeur of Christmas

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Lights. Cameras. Selfies. Gifts. Action. 

There’s a regal beauty in the very simple message of Christmas. 

And the grandeur of Christmas is not found in the lights, or the cameras, or the selfies, or the gifts, or the action. The grandeur of Christmas comes in the reality that God, because of His love for you, sent Jesus into this world. 

Born in a place where lambs are fed. He is the Lamb of God.
Born in “The House of Bread” (meaning of “Beth-lehem”). He is the bread of life. 
Announced by angels.
Visited by shepherds. 
Sought out by Magi.
Now Lord of our lives. 

The grandeur of Christmas comes in seeing the elegant orchestration of God. 

Let’s bow together before Him on bended knee as we worship our radiant Lord.

For whatever reason, The Lord has pressed upon me two very distinctive and unique messages for this Sunday. 

I know there are a lot of people who need to hear one or the other or both. Sunday morning we’ll talk about “Imagine the peace of Christ in every life.” I had preached a sermon on “Shalom” on Nov. 26 and the response to that was quite overwhelming. This message centers on another reality of peace - specifically Jesus as “The Prince of Peace.” This message might change your entire attitude, action plan, and enjoyment of Christmas.

Further, our worship choir will be helping lead out in all 3 morning services with our worship teams. 

There are many, many people who need to hear this message and experience such a living, worshiping body of Christ like Forum. 

Then, at the Christmas Eve services at 4 and 5:30 we’ll have beautiful candlelight services focusing on “The Light of Christ’s Forgiveness.” We’ll have live music, a great craft for kids, and cookies in the lobby. There are 2 great photo locations at both the tree and in the lobby. We’ll share in communion together as families will be those serving communion. 

FYI: As a ministry, nearly $16,000 has been given so far towards our water project. And while we didn’t tally everything, we’re very good at guessing - including the water gifts, nearly $35-40,000 of coats, blankets, food, and money have been given in the name of Christ by us as a congregation. 

Humbly I say, “I couldn’t be prouder of what God is doing in our church and in your lives.”

Last thing (speaking of proud) Our Children’s Theater performances were God honoring and stellar! To the entire team, led by Rochelle Gerdts, and to every child and parent, I say to you all, “Well done…very well done.” I’m already looking forward to the next one. 

Looking forward to an incredible day of worship this Sunday. 

Imagine

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An iconic song by John Lennon says, “Imagine”. In it, he paints a picture of a better world. A world he dreams of. 

“Some say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” 

While the song looks at life with God out of the picture, realize God is one of the dreamers. God’s dreams include a world that has His peace, that has people united under the Lordship of Jesus, a kingdom that takes care of one another, a movement that strives for His holiness. 

So this Sunday we start a new series called, “Imagine Christmas.” During this series we are partnering with local and global ministries to help achieve some of these dreams.

Each week we’re asking you to give in over and above tangible ways that will help meet needs. 

The weeks and partners are these:

Dec. 3 - Imagine a world that isn’t cold - VAC is our partner
Dec. 10 - Imagine a world that isn’t hungry - The Food Bank is our partner
Dec. 17 - Image a world that isn’t thirsty - LifeWater is our partner
Dec. 24 - Imagine the peace of Christ in every life

You can get detailed information from the website - forumchristian.org/imaginechristmas about the specifics. We are asking for designated giving connected to Life Water where we will strive to raise $18,000 which will dig a well, provide training for the community leaders, and give sanitation to an entire school in Africa. LifeWater will give us updates as these events and our village is impacted. 

I’m thrilled to see all that God is doing in our ministry. As we closed out “Magnetic”, the overwhelming response you all have collectively shared about this series is tremendous. 

I’ve met numerous new families who you have invited to come and experience God with us. That’s magnetic. 

I’ve had so many people talk about the message on “Peace” and how that has both equipped them and helped them this season connected to family or people around them. 
That’s the work of God. 

I was talking to a set of parents who started attending because they have students who were invited by friends from school.
That’s attractional. 

It’s phenomenal to see God using you in such powerful ways. Each week, I can’t wait to see what God does next. 

Looking forward to having a Christmas season filled with God’s dreams as we “Imagine Christmas” together. See you Sunday.

When “Thank you” sounds hollow

I would observe we live in a time when entitlement mentality reigns.

“I’m paying that person to serve me.”

“That’s their job.”

“What they did was no big deal.”

What is the cost of saying, “Thanks” to the people around us? 

How does expressing thanks undo anything?

I’m at a station of life where I’m so very thankful on so many levels.

I’m thankful for our civil servants (I’m talking more locally than nationally) who help to create an ordered society.

I’m thankful for our men and women in various uniforms (military, police, national guard, etc.) who desire to protect our nation and our nation’s citizens.

I’m thankful for teachers who serve so many at-risk students in undervalued ways.

I’m thankful for EMTs, and Dr.’s, and nurses who strive to help people connected to their health.

I’m thankful for a free nation.

And the list goes on and on and on.

I once had someone say to me maybe one of the worst and most detestable things I’ve ever heard. They said out loud, “After all I’ve done in my life, I think God owes me.”

I would note that this person said out loud what many of us are too cautious and sophisticated to say.

Is it possible to say, “Thank you” when you feel and think you are owed?

“I’ve earned this. Pay up/Do what you owe me/Do your job.” All of these tributaries flow from the same river. It’s the river of ingratitude.

It shows up in phrases like "God owes me".

I’ve taken a personal inventory of what God owes me and it is quite a list. I’ve done a lot of “earning” and I “deserve” payment.

I earned guilt. With the way I’ve treated many people in life, I should walk about feeling guilty.

I earned shame.

I earned people thinking poorly of me.

I earned hell. With the sins in my life, I deserve it.

So as we enter into our national season we call, “Thanksgiving” I’m praying for a national “Stop being so entitled, take stock and inventory of the many wonderful things in your life, stop whining, and grow up” day.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful that God doesn’t treat me as I’ve earned and as I deserve. I’m so deeply on my knees thankful for God saving us through Jesus. I’m so thankful for the blessing of life and new life. All good gifts come from our Father, and I’m so very, very thankful.

Praying you have a phenomenal Thanksgiving!

This Sunday we will end our “Magnetic” series with a sermon titled “Shalom.” This is a Hebrew word that is dominantly translated “Peace” in the Old Testament. While it doesn’t show up in the Greek text, that’s the word meaning that Paul closes most of his letters with. This message may very well help you to transform your world. 

Looking forward to a phenomenal day of worship with you at Forum. 

The Potter's Hands

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As the potter takes pliable moldable clay
There’s a mystical and almost magical happening
The potter will often take the clay, to an untrained eye, to a point of near perfection
The potter will then, seemingly out of nowhere, completely take the clay back down to an unformed state
The potter will then remake and rebuild the clay until in the trained potter’s eye, the vessel is finished.

So it is with our Lord. 

May I remind you of the Word of the Lord? 

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there”.  So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. 
Then the Lord gave me this message:  “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand" -Jeremiah 18:1–6

Throughout this week, I’ve seen the Potter shaping lives all around me in beautiful ways. 

Sometimes those beautiful ways come in the form of the remaking. 
Sometimes those beautiful ways come in the form of redefinitions in a life or family.
Sometimes those beautiful ways come in the form of untold blessings. 
Sometimes those beautiful ways take the form of the hardest thing you ever experience in life that you look back upon and say, “The Lord used that time for me to lean on Him more.” 

This week we continue to let the Lord shape and form us through His Word. As we just heard: God’s word changes us, it sustains us, it is creating within us the image of Christ, and it remakes us. 

Sunday we’ll look at “Boundaries”. Have you ever had anyone take advantage of you? Have you ever had anyone who you feel crosses emotional lines with you on a consistent basis? Do you maybe have a family member who you feel is the constant “taker” from you and others in your family? 

So how do we deal with these types of matters? Is God’s word silent in these areas? As the title of the message would imply - it isn’t. So this Sunday, we’ll be in God’s word looking at healthy boundaries that arise from God’s word in these very types of matters. 

It will be a great shaping in the Potter’s hands. Looking forward to a great encounter worshiping with you Sunday. 

"Thank You" to our...

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“Thank you” to our policemen, Veterans, and a front and center eternal thanks to Jesus

As more violence devastated a church in Texas, please extend prayers for them. I am personally so thankful for our off-duty policemen that help keep our campus safe. Please give them ongoing appreciation for all they do. 

Just a reminder, Veteran’s Day is this weekend. If you have a Veteran in your family or friendship circles, please communicate our gratitude to them from you and our nation. 

This week I had the privilege of helping lead a minister’s retreat that Bob Russell Ministries puts on. It was another phenomenal week for me in that my son, Parker, attended as he is now serving as an associate minister (which is who this conference is designed for). It was great to hear of churches growing, making a difference, and advancing the kingdom. It is always with great levels of joy and pride that I am able to share what God is doing in the ministry of Forum and in your lives. 

God works in phenomenal ways. He desires the kingdom of God to envelop this world with His mission of love. 

This Sunday we continue to equip and tool ourselves for this mission. We continue in our “Magnetic” series looking at the incredible church at Thessalonica. This week we are looking at “Expressions.” We will be in 2 Thessalonians 3. It would be a great week to invite a friend to attend. 

Looking forward to a great Sunday! 


Now, to the “Need to know housekeeping items”. 

  1. Our parking lot is going through significant changes. I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s what you need to know: the parking lot lights will be off for about a month. We apologize in advance for that, but this is necessary for a time. 
  2. Please continue parking at Boone and on the gravel lot. 
  3. The lobby has additional seating during the second service if you cannot find a seat.

Defining "Success"


As people, many times we wrestle with defining success. What does success look like in my life? Do I define “success” by my earnings? By plaques on the wall? By what other people think of me? Do I define “success” by how well my children are doing? How might “pretty” people view my spouse? How do I look? How other people “value” me? How much stuff I’ve accrued? How much money I have at my disposal? How much land do I own? How many degrees I have? By having a nameplate on a building somewhere? 

If I were to ask you this one specific question, “What do you consider the greatest achievements in your life?”, how would you answer that?
 
I recently attended a high school reunion and while it’s fun to revisit some of those successes that happened in the 1900s, looking back, so much of what I valued in that stage of life has essentially ZERO meaning today.
 
This weekend, we continue in our “Magnetic” series looking specifically at “Accomplishments.” I’ll be transparently and painstakingly honest: this sermon came at a perfect time for me.
 
So here it is in a nutshell:
 
Do you want to be successful?
How do you define success?
What does that look like in your mind?
 
Ready for the punch?
 
Why?
 
Why do you want to be successful?
What is the motive?
 
Is it because you care what people think? That you want them to think you are successful?
Is it because you care what your family thinks? You want them to think you are successful?
 
And what is “success”? What is “achievement”?
 
So as I’m preparing the message for this week, I had so many unique conversations arise from people in our community who are asking me a lot of questions. I’ll talk about those questions this Sunday because the questions being asked of me centered around the very concept of “success” connected to church and ministry.
 
So this weekend, we’ll open up God’s word in 2 Thessalonians 1 and look at God’s concept of achievement and success. This would be a great week - in fact, a phenomenal week - to invite an unchurched or de-churched friend or family member to attend.
 
Looking forward to a great focus and intensity this weekend as ever!


SAVE THE DATE

Next Friday, Nov. 3 is our annual Mission Auction where we raise additional funds for one time gifts for our supported missions. It’s always an excellent evening.

WOW!

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There’s an incredible movement of God happening at Forum! I see the Lord working all over the place in “big” and “small” and “in-between” ways.

  • People in the Men’s Ministry communicated how very challenged they were by Clarence Mends helping them to grow in the ministry of prayer.
  •  The Caring People continues to make a huge difference in the lives of single moms.
  • As I’m writing, our lobby has around 30 adults who are part of a new Bible study that happens on Thursdays.
  • Our 55+ ministry has 100 people coming to this Friday night's dinner.
  • Our Sunday morning services continue to reach more and more people and in so doing, equip more and more people as Christ’s disciples.
  • Our Children’s Theater is thriving and ramping up for a great Christmas production.
  • Our middle and high school ministries are soaring with greater numbers and stellar youth coaches.
  • The Women’s ministry continues to do a phenomenal job helping to equip and teach women.

It’s truly a movement of God.

Further, there have been great, great strides connected to the facility this week. Over the next weeks, we should be able to park on the gravel in the new parking lot. The new office area is taking shape. The walls on the family life center are continuing to be poured.

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This Sunday we have a great lesson arising out of 1 Thessalonians 5 as we wrap up Paul’s first letter to this very young church. God’s put a burden on me (more so than usual) connected to this message for whatever reason. If all of us can grow in this one area, God’s church will advance faster than we can even imagine. It’s an area that I know I need to grow in a lot.

...be there in 15 minutes.

An old friend calls and just happens to be passing through. They say they’d love to stop by and see you. They are 15 minutes away. 

What do you do? 

A.   Say, “I’d love to see you too - meet me at this coffee shop.”

B.   Say, “Perfect. We’ll see you then,” get off the phone and start yelling, “Clean, Clean, Clean.”

C.   Say, “Perfect,” brew some coffee and wait for their arrival. 

In our house, the answer would be either “A” or “B”. I do marvel at those whose homes are perpetually clean, straight, and in great shape. 

This Sunday we’ll focus on the Second Coming of Jesus. This will be the most significant event in the history of this universe since creation. 

Thoughts of it conjure ideas of apocalyptic events, totality, and finality. 

When some think of it, it evokes fear.

When some others think of it, they sneer and mock it.

When another group thinks about it, they almost gloat because “the big bad world is finally going to get what it deserves.” 

Theologians through the ages have had thoughts as well: 

Martin Luther said this: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”  

Billy Graham said, “Bible teaching about the Second Coming of Christ was thought of as “doomsday” preaching. But not anymore, it is the only ray of hope that shines as an ever brightening beam in a darkening world.”  

But a quote that really resonates with me comes from A.W. Tozer: “When He returns is not as important as the fact that we are ready for Him when He does return.”  

This Sunday we continue in our Magnetic series talking about “Readiness.” I can’t think of a timelier message for us and for our world. It would be a great Sunday to bring a friend. It would be a great Sunday to bring a skeptic. We’ll be in 1 Thessalonians 5. 

Looking forward to a life-changing and challenging Sunday! 


HELP NEEDED


This Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. there will be a workday happening around the facility. As ever, we need a lot of people to help our ministry to continue striving for excellence. Thanks to Freddy Spencer and our deacons in advance for setting this up.

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And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.  But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come. -Jesus

Sounds like it’s ripped right out of this weeks headline’s, doesn’t it?

Of all the hopeful promises God gave to us, is the return of Jesus.

The scriptures talk about this as an event that gives us encouragement.

So why do so many Christians talk about this day with fear?

I think too many of us:

1.     Suspend reality - we live under a very false delusion that this world is going to last forever.

2.     Don’t believe God’s word when it says Christ will return. 

3.    Aren’t living according to the scriptures therefore we aren’t ready for the return of Christ.

This weekend we continue in our “Magnetic” series focusing on “Glory.” So here’s the truth and the future reality: Jesus is coming again. This will be the most glorious day this world has ever seen. This event that we commonly call, “The Second Coming” should be an event that we anticipate, cherish, and keep each other on track until that day comes.

I don’t need to remind you of the current headlines. It’s a fallen and tainted world out there. All these things remind us, “this world is not our home.”

I love my family. I love our church. I love my friends. It’s a good earth that God created.

But here’s the great news - we all, because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, get to go to an even better place. A place of beauty. A place of perfection. God calls that place “heaven.”

This weekend we’ll worship our glorious Lord. We’ll challenge each other to be ready for Christ’s return. This will be one uplifting encounter worshiping our Lord.

Prayer:
Please pray for the tons of kids and sponsors that will be attending SuperStart this weekend in St. Charles. We’ve got such a thriving Children’s Ministry so please be in prayer for Rochelle and her team as they have a fun and intense 2 days together. 

Holy Sexuality

I don’t know that we associate the words “holy” and “sexuality” together. Why? 

God as our Designer designed human sexuality for joy, intimacy, pleasure, and for our benefit. God desires that, as His followers, we have abundant life. 

As the Designer, if He truly thought sex was evil, He could have designed that human function to be so very horrible that you would really, really, really want to have kids so badly that you would simply go through that function. 

That’s not the case at all, is it? 

God designed this to be an incredible expression of love and affection. 

Satan and the system of the world, however, would pervert this beautiful gift. 

And pervert it, the world has. 

This weekend at Forum, we’re in our Magnetic series in 1 Thessalonians 4. There’s a lot of powerful teaching and insight we need to grab hold of for our lives. 

Perverted sexuality can be a deadly magnetic force that can allure and drag people in like a magnetic black hole. We see it connected to pornography. We see it in pathetic “art” (50 shades of sin and all). As Christians, we can buy into it with immodest dress as well as in our thought life. 

God’s righteous ways are better for us. They are better for your kids. They are better for your marriage. They are life-giving. They protect. They give us wise warnings. 

Come Sunday, we’ll boldly go through the scriptures together to gain God’s wisdom connected to our lives. 

It will be a PG-13 kind of Sunday in that God doesn’t pull punches in His word connected to our sexuality and holiness. I don’t think we should hold back in these matters in the pulpit either. 

Looking forward to worshiping our Great and Holy God with you this Sunday. This may or may not be a good Sunday to invite friends. I personally think it would be a great Sunday to invite friends, but this is one of those sections of scripture that - well - deals with sex and some people aren’t comfortable talking about these matters - so use your best judgment. 

But this I can assure you: we’re going to worship God, dig into His word together, and draw near to God and one another. As ever, God will help change us for the better. See you then.  

Dancing in the Streets

Globally, it’s been a very hard fall: 

• Multiple hurricanes creating great levels of destruction

• Bad earthquakes in Mexico

• North Korea going nuclear

• Unrest on college campuses 

Lately, it seems like it’s a bad news kind of world. 

These types of events are difficult to see happening and unfolding. These types of events are the very types of “labor pains” that Jesus said must happen within this world before his return. 

But there’s good news. In fact, it’s great news. This good news is that Jesus saves. The good news is “Jesus saves.” 

When we see this type of news, our souls cringe, and we are uncomfortable. Deep within us, those moments tell us “this life is temporary, and I don’t have control.” This world is not the eternal home of the human soul.

I’m hoping that somehow this email lands in someone’s inbox that doesn’t go to any church. They think “religion” is useless and a farce. They may be living a very very full and satisfying life. 

But at the core, something is missing, and something isn’t right. Deep down they know it. More money doesn’t make them feel any safer. More people telling them they are “great” doesn’t build them up in their soul. 

They are in need of a relationship with Jesus. 

That simple message of “Jesus saves” changes us. The promise of heaven inspires us. The joy of a personal relationship with Jesus gives us assurance. 

This Sunday we continue our “Magnetic” series looking at “Inspiration” from 1 Thessalonians 3. This would be a great Sunday to invite friends to attend. 

And speaking of Magnetic, as a ministry, and as individuals we are truly drawing people towards Christ. Let’s keep lifting him up in our lives.

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Now I’ve got some hard, yet great news:

Our dear friend Charlie Gehlauf went to be with the Lord this week. Charlie sure loved Forum and everyone in it. We’re going to miss his laugh, his mischief, and his presence. I’m sure that in his new body he’s dancing in the streets of heaven right now. God is good. 

Looking forward to sharing this message of change, hope, and transformation with everyone this Sunday. See you then. 

Crushing It

Fall is up and running and as a church, God is using us to crush it. God is working in our lives in so many ways that it’s simply mind boggling. Seeing and experiencing the excitement and the fresh truth of God as He changes us is truly life changing and awe inspiring.

  • Our Children’s Theater kicked off in a huge way last Sunday night. We’re praying for them as they will ready themselves to lead us in a Christmas program.
  • Our middle school life groups have been kicking off and the numbers of students involved are higher than any we’ve ever seen before. Now, the importance of this isn’t the numbers but long term, new friendships will be formed in a fun, friendly, and Christ focused environments.
  • We’ve got more youth workers serving in high school and middle school ministry than ever before – thanks for continuing to step up.
  • The women’s ministry studies and ministries are up and running and it’s so exciting to see so many women diving into God’s word together.
  • The men’s ministry had a great night watching the Chiefs beat the Patriots. Several guys told me what a great time they had meeting people new to them and the fellowship they had.
  • We’ve had great feedback from some of our life groups who are using the companion material for “Magnetic”. The goal is for all of us to sharpen one another to become more like Jesus. You don’t have to go to a life group to experience and use that material either. It’s easy to use solo using the Forum App.
  • The communion meditation Tyler Morris gave last week really spoke to a lot of people as well. Our worship of the Lord continues to be a powerful, transformative experience for us.

This Sunday we enter into 1 Thess. 2 talking about how to amplify the message. There’s a section in this passage in verse 15 that is really hammering me hard. I think this message is going to hit a lot of people where they need to be forged. It would be a great week to invite friends.

Looking forward to a great encounter with God and with you this Sunday! Between now and then – be magnetic.

UPCOMING

There is still time to sign up for the marriage conference. These have been stellar. Melody and I are looking forward to it and hope to have lots of couples tuning up in your marriage that weekend.  

All New Starting This Sunday...

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New Series. New Children’s opportunities. New Fall programming. New Life Group options.

Sunday we start a new sermon series called, “Magnetic.” It is the study of a very attractional, regionally impacting church in the city of Thessaloniki. It comes from 1 and 2 Thessalonians. This series will help you to have greater influence in your life. God would have you to make a difference in every facet of your life and this series is going to stretch you, to challenge you, to wake you up in some ways, and to push you toward a more abundant and effective life.  

As ever in ministry, we strive to change, adapt, create, and help make it easy for you to help connect people to Jesus. Toward this end, we have developed companion material you can use during the week to accentuate what’s happening on Sunday. We’ve put these companion materials in various places for you to access. We hope some of our life groups will use these. You can do it solo if you aren’t part of a life group. The goal is for all of us to become more magnetic and attractional in our lives. So, there are several options for you to get this material. We have it on DVD. We’ve developed a Roku Channel (Forum Christian Church). The material is available for Apple TV.  You can get it from our website, also available through our mobile app for your smartphone and tablet. The goal is for you to use the videos as a discussion starter (or personal thought/devotion) and then use the scripture studies to grow deeper.  I know that’s a lot of information in one paragraph. This has been a lot of work and I want to thank Bradley for shooting, editing, and creating the videos and getting the material out there. I also want to thank Tyler Morris and Ben Rogers for helping get the Roku channel up and running. In terms of how to get it – if you hit any snags you can contact Jody Riley, our Connections minister, at jody@forumchristian.org and he will help you figure out which platform is easiest for you to use.

This Sunday Forum launches into our fall programming. This is my favorite season of the year because so many people get connected to Forum and to Jesus during this season. People are getting into their fall routines and it’s a prime time to invite people to Forum.

Here is a list of all children and youth programs and the Facebook page where you can find out more about what is going on:

At 8:15 on Sunday we will offer full children’s programming. (ForHim Children’s Ministry)

Children’s Theater is kicking off. (ForHim Children’s Ministry)

New middle school programming is happening. (ForHim Student Ministry Middle school)

And fall programming is happening for high school students. [ForHim Student Ministry (High School)]

God is working in amazing ways in the ministry of Forum Christian Church. It’s an incredible joy to see how He continues to grow His church here.

This Sunday we will focus on “Magnetic: Impact” from 1 Thessalonians 1. Fall of 2017 will be an incredible fall. Looking forward to sharing with all of you.

It's My Birthday

As I write this, I’m celebrating my birthday. I’m writing it in a minister’s office. The office holder is my son Parker. He’s the student minister at FCNewburgh in southern Indiana. I love this about his heart: Parker went to a church that is “coming back” from a very very tough situation. I know the ministry there will ultimately thrive in the long term. I’m praying for his lead minister and the entire staff as they strive to reach the hundreds of thousands of people in that area. 

I ask of you to indulge me for just a moment. Another trip around the sun causes me to be reflective. 

Currently literally hundreds and hundreds of people are wishing me a happy birthday through cards, texts, emails, and FB posts. 

Currently, our kids are all thriving in life. All of them serve actively in the kingdom of God helping to point people to Jesus. 

I work with an incredible staff that all love the Lord who strives to bring to the Lord their best every day. 

I have a great group of elders who surround me and lift me, our staff, and the entire flock up in prayer as we seek to intentionally connect people to Jesus. 

Currently, we are going through the 2nd largest building project I’ve ever been through as a minister because we need more space. Further, the new spaces are going to create new environments to connect new people to Jesus. 

Currently, in my personal devotions, I’m going through Philippians - and it’s such a joy filled book. 

And currently, the wife of my youth and I have been happily married for over 32 years. 

On a very personal note, I feel as though I’m among the most blessed of men on the entire planet. I see the hand of the Lord working in every element of my life. 

And while all those things are so very very good, those things would be hollow if it were not for my Lord Jesus taking my sins, my guilt, and my shame and nailing it to a cross in his body. The personal relationship with Jesus stands at the center of all. 

This weekend we’ll finish out our “Resurgence” series seeing the incredible comeback that God orchestrated by using Nehemiah. Thanks so much for the constant encouragement connected to the preaching of God’s word. 

God’s word is alive. 

God’s word changes us. 

God’s word is right. 

God’s word is the truth. 

God’s word is transformative for individuals, for communities, and for entire global movements. 

Make sure to be at Forum on Sunday as we see experience the power of God’s word working in our church.

Phenomenal growth!

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Among my all time favorite books is When God grows a Church by Bob Russell. Bob talks about the movement of God in the local church. He talks about how God used and is using the church he served in Louisville to be a transformative body of Christ, that impacts that community with the saving message of Jesus Christ. He talks about God’s word being central to that ministry. He talks about how the preaching and teaching at every age group centers on Christ.  

Friends, we continue to see God growing this ministry at Forum.  

  • This past Sunday was (by far) the all time high attendance at Forum (non-holiday). 
  • Wednesday night nearly 150 middle school students and parents attended a dinner to talk about the fall. 
  • This past Sunday we had a worship choir who helped lead us in phenomenal worship and praise. 
  • This Sunday after 3rd service we are offering the college students a luncheon as we talk about new opportunities for them, as well as what is available this fall. 
  • Our Children’s Theatre is about to get started over the next few weeks. We are looking forward to their involvement in worship and the coming production. 
  • The new playground is nearly fully finished (the equipment is up but tables and sitting areas will yet be installed), but it was great to see about 40 kids playing out there on Wednesday night.
  • Construction continues as we, as leaders, are well aware of the growth that continues here at Forum. 
  • I’m so excited about what God is doing in this ministry.  
  • How can you help?  
  • Step up in prayer. Christ calls us to be people who are constantly praying. Pray we advance the message of Jesus in a strong and powerful way here in Columbia. 
  • Step up in ministry. We constantly need teachers, room assistants, security workers, van shuttle drivers, and people who are simply willing to serve anywhere. 
  • Step up in giving. I know many are giving sacrificially to this project above your tithes and you are giving sacrificial offerings. That’s awesome for those who are doing this. Thank you.

This Sunday we continue in the “Resurgence” series looking at “Overwhelmed!” So many times we don’t know where to start or what the next step is. In this message you’ll get great insight that gives you a spiritual template of how to take next steps in your life. It will also give you great insight as to how to overcome the challenges you face when you launch out into something new. 

As ever, I know this Sunday is going to be a great encounter with God and with you as we worship together. See you then!