We Can Do Better

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It felt good to me to be back in the pulpit last Sunday. I’m still in recovery and will continue to heal and get stronger. Thanks so much for the love, support, and encouragement given to me; the emails, the texts, and the spoken words were quite overwhelming. I’ve got a ways to go to be restored.

Coming from the sermon, remember you can do better spiritually in the lives of people around you. You can center on Scripture and live it out. You can enact it and watch it come to pass. 

This Sunday, we continue to look at the elephant in the room. We’re going to look at John the Baptist all grown up and preaching. John was the living proof of his parents’ faithfulness. His message was to “repent.” “Repent” means to turn from sin & self and turn towards God in your thinking and actions. It’s an about-face turnaround. You were walking in the way of the world and you about-face and walk God’s way. There are so many things to repent of and turn towards God. Bottom line: we’ve got a long way to go before we look like Jesus. We’ll focus on these things this weekend.

As ever, I can’t wait to worship with you this weekend. We lift the name of Jesus high. He said, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.” What a great truth...and that’s what we do. 

Scott

All We Are

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We had a great weekend at church last weekend as Children’s Theatre did its performance of “Back to the Cross.” The 75 kids and families are to be congratulated for their outstanding performance. Well done to those kids and sponsors. 

We continued on in our “Elephant in the Room” series as Bradley brought to us “When.” When is the time to call out people for their ‘elephant’? He gave a great template for a decision tier connected to this axiom. The topic dealt with hypocrisy and we’ve all got areas in our lives where we have two sets of standards. The key is to self-recognize this truth and give grace when looking at others’ lives. When it is affecting other believers and people in a negative way, it is time to call a person onto the carpet in love. 

This Sunday we stay in the “Elephant in the Room” series looking at “You’re pregnant…now what?” It’s Mother’s Day and we’ll look at God using two ladies and their pregnancies. We’ll see how God used them as His agents for communicating His truth and His activity to their families. We’ll see how you can do the same.

It’s Baby Dedication Day as well this Sunday. We’ll be dedicating four children to the Lord on this day - always fun celebrating God’s gift of children to our families. Looking forward to a great day this Sunday.

All we are is a house of God who seeks to worship Him. We connect people to Jesus. We center on Him. 

I can’t wait to worship with all of you this Sunday,

Scott

What A Great Place!

“And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on you…Jesus you’re my hope and stay”

Worship at Forum has been stellar. Each week we gather to worship. We celebrate. We confess to Jesus our need for him in our lives. It’s the most meaningful encounter we have during the week. 

We gather around His communion table and take elements that remind us of Christ’s physical body. We examine ourselves and are called back to God’s holy standard. We are cleansed because of the work of Christ in our lives. We are anchored to Christ. 

What a great place church is! 

This past week we looked at God intervening in King David’s life. He had sinned, and sinned, and sinned. God sent His prophet Nathan to confront him on these sins. It turned out these sins arose from David diminishing the Lord. He didn’t think highly enough of God and His word. He thought about the sin, entertained it, and embraced it. His elephant was dealt with head-on. 

This week we’ll look at when to confront a friend who is saying one thing and acting another way. We’ll look at the elephant of hypocrisy and try to rid elements of hypocrisy out of our lives. God calls on our “yes” to be “yes” and our “no” to be “no.” We’ll focus on dealing with hypocrisy in our lives and when to come to terms with it.

We’ll look forward to worshiping together this Sunday. 

Scott

Growing

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The dynamics in play at church right now are so very, very good. We continue to move forward in terms of reaching and connecting people to Jesus. Tuesday night we had a “Connect Event,” and it was wonderful hearing the staff talk about their passion for ministry and what they are doing at Forum. It was exciting to learn how visitors came to Forum and when they started attending. It’s a joy to share how the ministry is focused and growing. It never gets old hearing how our youth and children continue to grow and make an impact. We are so blessed to see how the kingdom continues to expand.

We kicked off “The Elephant in The Room” series focused on “You’re lukewarm: don’t live with one foot in and one foot out!” Blake Cohea, our Middle School Minister, talked about corrective measures you can take to heat up your spiritual temperature. Blake did a great job sharing the scripture out of Revelation 3 and 1 Kings 18 which encourage us to move forward spiritually. Ultimately, God loves you and wants to bless you as you commit to living fully for Christ.

We continue on in this “Elephant in The Room” series. This week we will explore how God deals with the elephant in the room. We can learn a lot from how God approaches the difficult tensions we all face, and this week's message will both challenge and encourage us to mimic God in how we address the sometimes complex relational tensions. 

Looking forward to worshiping with you this weekend, 

Scott

The Hand of God is Moving

God is at work at Forum. We continue to see God’s hand each week in this ministry of connecting people to Jesus. He’s our Lord and Savior and that’s what we want to do – connect others to Him. 

Last week we concluded the “I AM Jesus” series with the passage out of Revelation, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” We talked about how there was never a time when Jesus was not, nor will there ever be a time when Jesus is not. He is with us in all the things we encounter. We talked about how Jesus is the definer of our days on this earth. 

This week we start a new series called “The Elephant in the Room.” We will learn to say the hard thing that no one wants to say, but needs to be said. Scripture is full of confrontations connected to pointing out sin. A good healthy dose of talking about these types of matters will do us good. When do I speak up? How do I speak up? What conditions make it the right time to address an issue? Can I step up and speak out spiritually? What needs to be said in your life? The scriptures will give us insight connected to how to live this out daily.  

This is a great series to invite friends because it will hit them fresh. It’s exciting to see so many visitors at church. I know they are coming because you are inviting them - Keep it up!

I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. 

Scott

It Says Something

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We continue to have excellent attendance - last Sunday was our all-time, non-holiday, high regarding how many people were at Forum. That’s awesome! It says, “There’s something going on there.” And there is. 

We continue to study the Bible and the mission God has us on - to intentionally connect people to Jesus. All of the focus should be on God’s word and that mission. The ongoing challenge is to not waver from this mission which defines our ministry. We spoke this past Sunday about staying focused and not being a predictive prophet saying, “That person is going to act this way, so I’m not going to reach out to them.” This mindset doesn’t align with the goal of intentionally connecting others to Jesus. 

We’ll wrap up the “I AM Jesus” series this Sunday looking at Jesus's statement “I am the Alpha and Omega” out of Revelation. We’ll be talking about how there’s limited time to talk about Jesus and how when it’s over, it’s over. God is the definer of our days and has an ultimate say in our lives. We are subservient to His will and His desire. When we submit to His will, life takes on the mission to connect people to Jesus. 

Looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. Bring a friend or family member with you to encounter His word and teaching.


See you Sunday,
Scott

What an incredible day Easter was!

With 1775 in the 4 services, it was an impactful day. It was a joy to see all the services filled with people!

  • The video reviewing the baptisms with “Resurrecting” and “Raised to Life” integrated into it was powerful to witness.
  • Bradley did a great job expounding the scripture and opening up a dialogue in the realm of doubts surrounding the resurrection.
  • The day was fast and fun with Juggling Jeff ministering to our elementary-aged young people.
  • We had a good number of people take advantage of the morning pancake breakfast.
  • Many commented as well about the meaningfulness of the Good Friday Worship Event. Tyler and his team did a great job putting that together.

This Sunday we continue in our sermon series “I AM Jesus.” We will see that Christ’s mission to save the world is not stagnant, but is ongoing. It captures people who don’t want to be near it. It changes people’s lives. This week we’ll see Christ grab the heart of one who hated Christ followers and change him. Life change is what Jesus is about. You may have friends who are “No to Jesus” type of people. This would be a good message for them to hear and experience.

Each week, we strive to set up services that lift up Jesus. We continue to see the scripture played out that when we lift up Christ, He will draw people to Himself. 

Looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday. 

-Scott

A Simple Invitation

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On Tuesday I was talking with Scott about our transition to four services and all the excitement around our upcoming Easter weekend. He was encouraged to hear and see that God is at work in some compelling ways at Forum. As we discussed the upcoming Good Friday service, our conversation morphed into a discussion about the power of an invitation. 

So many of the pivotal moments in life have come as a result of a simple invitation. The first date with my wife was the result of a simple (albeit nervous) invitation. The reason my wife and I started attending Forum over ten years ago came as the result of an invitation. The list can go on and on. I think the same thing is true for all of us. 

Sometimes an invitation can be so much more than a request to attend an event or participate in an activity. It can represent the beginning of a new relationship. It can symbolize belonging and identity. It can even come to represent a new chapter or phase in our lives. The power of invitation can be just that - powerful. 

One of the many joys I have as a pastor is getting to hear the stories of peoples lives being changed by Jesus. That transformation usually finds its origin in a simple gesture, yep, you guessed it, an invitation. Over and over a different story, different circumstances, different outcomes, but the same origin  - an invitation. 

Easter is a time when people are a little more open to the big ideas about God, Jesus, the Bible, and church. Right now, it is still culturally acceptable to attend church on Easter - to some, it might even be a cultural pressure. Regardless, it is a great time to extend that simple invitation. It doesn't have to be complicated or pushy - just a simple, "Hey, our church always has a lot of fun on Easter, and there are some great things for the whole family - if you are interested we would love to have you." You never know if your invitation this year could be the origin story of their transformation. 

This Easter message is going to be accessible and relevant for both Christians and non-Christians. It would be the perfect Sunday to invite someone to church as we explore the resurrection of Jesus. Can't wait to see you all there.  
- Bradley

What is Holy Week?

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This Sunday marks the beginning of an ancient church tradition called Holy Week (also called Passion Week or Silent Week). It is the week leading up to Easter Sunday and begins with Palm Sunday. It has been celebrated, remembered, and observed for almost 2,000 years and has had a particular significance for the early church. Even today, many faith traditions place an intense focus on the days leading up to Easter Sunday. Some of the words we use to describe the days of Holy Week seem strange today, and if you were to ask anyone what Maundy Thursday is, you might get the same blank stare that I do.

Here is the breakdown of Holy Week:

Palm Sunday

  • Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. It commemorates Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem (also known as the triumphal entry) on a donkey while the onlooking crowd waved palm branches and shouted, "Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in the highest heaven!" Mk 11:9–10.

Maundy Thursday

  • Our English word "Maundy" comes from the Latin mandatum, which means "commandment." In John's gospel, on the last night before his arrest, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment to love one another in the same way He had loved them (John 13:34). Many faith traditions will observe a foot washing ceremony to commemorate the same act Jesus performed with His disciples in the upper room.

Good Friday

  • The Friday preceding Easter is observed in commemoration of the crucifixion (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:31; cf. Matt. 27:62). It is often a solemn gathering, and its focus is to point beyond the death of Jesus and to look forward in hope to the empty grave. 

Easter Sunday

  • Easter was originally a Saxon word (Eostre or Ostara) which developed in the Christian communities from the Jewish Passover. For centuries Christians across the world have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus at this time of the year. 

Here is why I mention all of this - as our lives become busier and busier, and as our culture places an ever decreasing focus on God, Holy Week reminds us to pause, reflect, and turn our focus back towards God. Let’s not miss the grandeur of this week. This week can be a turning point in our lives and the lives of our community. 

This Sunday we will explore a powerful “I am” statement that emerges in the midst of Jesus' arrest. It is an intense scene and an encouraging glimpse into the final moments in the life of Jesus. There is a lot of application to this upcoming message, and it will be a great Sunday to invite someone. 

 - Bradley


REMINDER

  1. Don’t forget the new service times - 8:00  //  9:00  //  10:15  //  11:30
  2. Be sure to grab a handful of Easter invite cards that we have in the silver bowls as you enter/exit the auditorium. It’s an easy way to invite someone to our Easter weekend.
  3. Good Friday service will be at 6:00 p.m. on March 30.

Update

You may have been wondering where I’ve been lately. Well, after traveling a couple of weeks at some speaking engagements, I’ve spent some time in the hospital. My health issues began with some swelling after the long distance trips, and it blew up into that which we couldn’t control. We’ve seen a number of medical professionals. The medical teams are working to help me navigate my hypertensive event.

In the meantime, Bradley and team have dealt with this personal setback in a superior fashion. Our church body has an exceptional team of ministers. In my absence, the ministry staff will continue to lead us forward as I work toward recovery. I value your prayers as I heal.

Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life

God gives us the greatest gift of all through Jesus - salvation. God revealed through Jesus that he is the only way to the Father.

In John 14, Jesus asks, “Do you still not know me?”

When Jesus says, “I am” he reveals the path for mankind, leading back to God.
 - Jesus is the only way to salvation. 
 - God shows us truth through the actions and heart of Christ
 - Through Christ, we will inherit eternal life
 
Through Christ, we can truly know the Father. 

This passage will be an excellent reminder of the power and nature of Christ, and we are glad to have Kevin Dooley with us to bring the message this week. 

Remember it’s Daylight Savings Weekend- so spring forward those clocks. 

We will be moving to four services on Sunday, March 18th. This will give us more room to grow.  The new service times will be 8:00, 9:00, 10:15, and 11:30. 

We’re excited about all the new changes happening at Forum. 
 - Scott Sutherland

Jesus is...

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I recently spent some time with a friend who comes from a very different faith background. As diverse as our beliefs are we used a lot of the same language to talk about God, and we both quote and use the Bible as a way to discuss theological ideas. If you were sitting within earshot of our conversation, you might even think we both were ministers at a church. 

Despite the jargon, Bible quotations, and friendly banter, there is one stark contrast to our beliefs. Though not easy to discern on the surface, the difference is as opposite as black and white. He believes Jesus was a created being who is the reflection (among many others) of the Father and I believe that Jesus is one with the Father. His understanding of Jesus shapes his view of God, reality, and his role on this earth - and so does mine.  

I tell you this to remind you of how important our view of Jesus actually is. That is one of the primary reasons we have spent so much time looking at the “I am” statements of Jesus in our current sermon series. To consider not, what do others say about Jesus, but what does Jesus say about Himself. This series is so crucial for us as a church, and it challenges us all to consider, or maybe re-consider, what we believe about Jesus. 

So as we continue this week in our series “I Am Jesus” let me encourage you to invite someone to experience a community of people on mission to not only share the message and love of Jesus but to experience a community committed to showing it. Around this time of year, people are a little bit more open to the idea of God and to the idea of maybe attending church. Your invitation could make the difference in someone's life. 

A few weeks ago Scott preached a very moving and inspirational sermon at his alma mater Johnson University. You can find the link to watch it here. During that message he spoke of how important it was to have a community of people in your corner, cheering you on, encouraging you to be faithful and seek the Lord. In a culture today that is bombarding us with messages about what to do, who to be, what to buy, and what to believe - surrounding yourself with a community of people that desires what’s best for you and wants you to grow closer to Jesus is vital. It is that kind of community we are a part of here at Forum and l look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Bradley

God's Work and Word Overwhelm Me

It was the hardest message I’ve ever preached. For weeks upon weeks, I did everything I could to take it and steer it in a different direction, but the Lord wouldn’t allow it. 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to preach at Johnson University’s annual Preaching and Teaching Homecoming. It’s an event I’ve attended pretty much every year since I graduated. It has been a constant source of encouragement, connection, and engagement for our entire family (we’ve all graduated from JU). It’s an extension of God’s church reflecting the love and the sense of family, and being a constant training ground helping to equip us. 

If you would like to hear my message, here’s the link. The sermon starts at about the 18-minute mark. 

It’s a message about hope and perseverance. It’s a message about overcoming in the name of Jesus. It’s a message that, in the background - unheard and unspoken, yet deep within my heart, is about the incredible action and movement of God in your lives and in the ministry of Forum.

“But you’ve preached part of your dad’s funeral, your grandma’s funeral, funerals of friends and their children. Why would this be harder than those?” 

It’s harder because I don’t like exposing my emotions. But here’s the bottom line truth: I love our Lord who saved us. I love the leadership of Forum. I love the staff God has drawn here. Those simple truths, when I step back and contemplate them, drive me to a place of complete thanksgiving. 

So in this message, there’s a moment where I start to really get emotional. It happens around the 44-minute mark. Behind some of those emotions are the deep love, respect, and awe I have for our staff. I don’t say it anywhere near enough, but I love serving the Lord with these truly ordinarily exceptional men and women. I love the passion and diligence Bradley brings into ministry. I love the deep love of Jesus that Tyler Morris exudes. I love the sincerity and love for students Tyler Hensley exhibits. Blake and Elizabeth, though they serve in two different areas, are an unparalleled team. The depth of love for kids and the Lord that flows through Rochelle is so winsome. Tarry and Poppy are such a beautiful, God loving couple. Jody brings such a heart of “I desire to get to know you on a personal basis - I’m here for you.” Max brings a depth of life experience as well as a deep, deep mindfulness connected to our stewardship of missions. Jessie truly loves kids and loves the Lord. Julie is a woman who leans on the Holy Spirit as much as anyone I’ve ever known. Ben approaches every situation with diligence and an unparalleled work ethic. Marlowe brings a love of service, diligence, and “can do” into each ministry opportunity he takes on. Our administrative team of Kim, Melinda, and Melanie all bring unique talents and gifts that help Forum soar. 

I say this because I’ve been driven to my knees in humble gratitude for what God is doing. I say this because I’ve been around nearly 700 ministers over the past 2 weeks and many of them express concerns about inner staff drama. We don’t have that. What we have is a unified staff who loves to do ministry in the name of Jesus, who deeply cares about you as a congregation, who loves our community and wants to connect people to Jesus. 

This Sunday we continue to boldly shout out this hope and love talking about I AM Jesus. This week we talk about “I am the light of the world.” 

God’s love shines into the darkness of this world. Jesus comes into our dark places and says, “Here I am - I am your light.” 

Looking forward to sharing this incredible message. It would be a great week to bring friends, family, or someone you know who needs the light. 

See you Sunday!

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.