Christ Challenges Us

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This past Sunday, for those who braved the snow or watched online, Bradley spoke on Christ’s “I say” regarding our hearts. Christ said, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” To embrace this fully means we make a covenant with our eyes not to look lustfully at people around us. Christ challenges our thinking and behaviors in this way. He forces us to think about and guard our thoughts and intentions. He completely examines our hearts and forces us to purify them. Christ doesn’t dally with our sexuality. He calls us on our sin and challenges us to put it in perspective. He calls us to purity. He desires for us to deal radically with ourselves and live above reproach, especially when it deals with our sexuality. If Christians embrace this teaching, they would put an end to sexual sin in their lives. Adultery would not be a thing in the church. Honoring God with purity is the goal that Christ wants us to hit. 

This Sunday we deal with another very hard teaching of Christ related to divorce. Christ focuses on the oneness God designed for marriage. He doesn’t give an easy, disposable out to marriage. This teaching will revolutionize your marriage and your thoughts on marriage. It may also alter your thoughts on remarriage and divorce. God intends for us to get married and stay married. He’s the author of the union, and no human should separate or nullify this sacred covenant. Is your marriage what God intends it to be? Are you living for Christ within your marriage? Are there areas you need to work on within your marriage? This Sunday’s teaching will encourage you to examine your life and marriage through the lens of Christ’s teaching and pull together as a couple for the sake of glorifying the Lord.

This “I say” series has shown us the perfect words of Christ Jesus. Christ causes us to examine our hearts and minds and follow Him in all ways. Christ forces us to look at the heart of the matter with these intentional teachings. He calls us to live for Him with a pure heart.

I look forward to worshiping with you Sunday and lifting up praise to our God. As ever, it’s a great week to invite a friend or family member to come to Forum. We’ll lift our praise to the Lord this Sunday in all 4 services.

Looking forward to worshiping Christ with you,

Scott

2019 Started off Strongly at Forum!

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It was great to see so many of you making church a priority for the new year. In fact, we had over 300 children in the facility that first Sunday, which is awesome! 

This past Sunday, we focused on the phrase which Christ uses, “But I say.” It was His way of stating there’s something new on the horizon. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned everything from vertical - meaning the way we relate to God, to horizontal - the way we relate to one another. In this first “I say” teaching Christ pointed out that anger is on par with murder in a person’s life. To say, “You idiot” puts you in danger of the fires of hell itself. This is strong teaching from our Lord pointing us to live uprightly before one another and the Lord. In fact, this teaching said that if you are going to offer an offering before the Lord and remember that a brother has something against you, then you should first be reconciled to that brother. Whoa! That is strong teaching if we apply it to our lives. 

This Sunday we look at Christ’s teaching connected to our hearts and minds related to adultery. Christ says in Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Christ teaches radically that to peer lustfully at another person is like committing adultery in your heart. Christ then goes into a teaching that can be controversial if we were to apply it literally when He says in verse 29, “So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” If we were all to apply this to our lives, we’d be eyeless and sightless. So Christ is pointing to dealing with sin in a radical way. We strive to live this out each and every day.

Let’s continue to honor Christ in His church with our attendance. Being at church with fellow believers makes a positive difference. It makes a difference in your life. It makes a difference in the lives of your kids. It makes a difference to your spouse. It makes a difference to your friends and family. Your faithfulness actually inspires people around you to catch your excitement and passion for the Lord. Can’t wait to worship with you this Sunday! 

-Scott

Welcome 2019!

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We finished out 2018 and the “Reclaim the Wonder” series looking at Christ interacting with the religious leaders of his day when he was 12 years old. We saw how Christ continued to “grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.“ Do you have a game plan for doing that in 2019? Growing in stature and favor is a noble undertaking that God would have you to pursue. 2019 can be the best year of your life spiritually. It can be a year where you come closest to looking like Jesus, talking like Jesus, and acting like Jesus. 

This Sunday we start a new year and a new sermon series called, “I say.”  It comes out of the teaching from Christ called the “Sermon on the Mount.” Christ came to revolutionize life and to teach freedom from the law. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus teaches us a new way of living life. He takes the law and the religious interpretations of the day and expresses the spiritual fulfillment of living these things, which will give you life and life abundantly. Christ contrasts the old interpretations of the law with His way of living freely.

This would be a great series to invite a friend or family member to attend because it’s straight teaching from Christ. As a church we teach God’s word, the Bible, without compromise, and we teach it straight up. This won’t change in 2019. By inviting friends and family to come to Forum, you expose them to the word of God and the teaching of Christ. We lift up Christ from our pulpit every week of the year. 

Looking forward to a new year and to new encounters and experiences with God together this year. Let’s start it out this Sunday. 

-Scott

Finish Out 2018 Strong!

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What a great time of fellowship we had on Christmas Eve at Forum. We had over 1400 gathered for the candlelight celebration with over 100 out in the lobby during the 4:00 service. It was truly a sight to behold. We talked about divine anticipation and the eyes of wonder we can all look through to see the world. We celebrated how God sent Christ at the fullness of time (meaning at just the right time). Christ entered into this world to save us and to be the light of the world. He in turn calls us the light of the world. We lit our candles to remind us to share the light of Christ wherever we go. Isn’t it great news that Christ came to save us and to be the light of the world? Let’s make the most of every opportunity to share this truth with those God places in our lives.

This Sunday we close out our “Reclaim the Wonder” series looking at the way Christ interacted with the teachers of the law when He was twelve years old. Christ astonished those seasoned leaders with his questions and knowledge of the scriptures. This instance in Jesus’s childhood points us to the wonder of what’s to come. I’m looking forward to 2019 and a new season of life and ministry. 2018 has been an amazing year of ministry at Forum, and we’re looking forward to what God has in store for us in the year ahead. Let me encourage you to finish out 2018 by being in church this Sunday to worship the Lord.

See you Sunday,

Scott

There's Room at the Manger

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This past Sunday we looked at the grandeur of Christmas coming in common situations. While the birth of Jesus was extraordinary, it was a common birth. Seeing the miraculous in the common is to affirm the movement and orchestration of God in the simple things of life. It ascribes to Him how both the common place and the uncommon make Him the Lord of all of your life. Seeing Him in the uncommon and the common orders your life to see Him at every turn and every situation. You see God at work in all things, and that’s a beautiful life attitude to possess.

This Sunday we see the first visitors to Christ’s manger when He was born. These first visitors are a wonderful addition to view in the Christmas event because they represent all of humanity. We’ll look at the lowly shepherds and how they were hand picked by God to be there. It’s amazing they came to see this newly born infant to welcome Him into the world. The angels had announced Him to the shepherds and given them instructions as to how they would find the baby. It all was as the angels said because our God is a promise keeper. Come this Sunday and be prepared to be challenged by His word.

This Monday at 4 and 5:30, we will have Christmas Eve services lifting up the name of Jesus. They will both be candlelight services with music and communion being served. These are great opportunities to bring friends and family to celebrate the birth of Christ. We hope you’ll do that and possibly change someone’s eternal destiny.

The greatest gift to give this Christmas is faith in Christ. This is an excellent season to spread the good news of Jesus to people around you. Just as the angels announced the birth of Christ, so you can too. Looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday and Monday in the name of Christ. Won’t you invite someone to attend with you? I look forward to meeting them with you this Sunday or Monday. See you then.

-Scott

Reclaim the Wonder

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We started off the weekend with our Hope for the Hungry event where over 500 people worked together to pack 100,248 meals. We’d set an audacious goal of raising $25,000 to fund this event. I’m so excited to report that nearly $36,000 has been received towards this global effort. Thanks to Blake Cohea for doing such a great job spearheading this event. It turned out for God’s glory!

We also started into the “Reclaim the Wonder” sermon series focusing on God interacting with Zechariah and with Mary at the beginning of Luke. We saw the angel’s five pronouncements over Jesus’ birth: that Christ would be very great (an attribute reserved for God), that He would be the son of the Most High God, that He would sit on the throne of his ancestor David, that He would reign over the house of Israel, and that His kingdom would be eternal. These declarations have proven to be true because our God is a promise keeper. You can rely on God’s word. Every promise He makes, He keeps. When our God gives His word, He fulfills it.

This Sunday we are looking at Christ’s entry into the world, and how there was no lodging available for Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. We’ll look at how they coped with that reality and how God provided for them in the middle of all of that trouble. We’ll look at how this was a common event, and the uncommon emerged in their midst. When we focus on the common, God shows up in the most common of places.

This past Sunday we had a record number of children involved in the four morning services.  Our children’s ministry does an excellent job of teaching and equipping the children. It’s important to have your kids involved in church weekly and exposed to the teaching of Christ. It shows them consistency, and it honors the Lord. 

Looking forward to worshiping the Lord with you this Sunday. I’m praying for this to be a Christ-centered Christmas season for you. To focus upon Christ at Christmas is God’s design for your Christmas, and we’ll do our part in helping you keep your focus on Him as we “Reclaim the Wonder” together. 


-Scott

Through the Eyes of Wonder

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This past Sunday we concluded our “Hope” series by focusing on the hope of heaven being lived out today. What if the knowledge of our future hope impacted the way we live today? Bradley laid out what it might look like if we allow this hope to steer our lives today in moment-to-moment daily living. He spoke about the churches John addressed in the book of Revelation and their need to turn toward God and follow His precepts. Bradley asked the questions, “What if Jesus addressed a letter to Forum?” and “What if Jesus addressed a letter to you - what would show up in that?” While we have a hope for heaven, have you considered the hopes God has for you? It was a strong ending to this series. 

This Sunday we start looking at the Christmas story in a new series called “Reclaim the Wonder” where we focus on looking at the Christmas narrative through eyes of wonder. It’s so easy to get jaded and say, “I’ve heard this all before; there’s nothing new in this story” when it’s the timeless story of God interacting with our planet. Did you catch that phrase, “God interacting with our planet?” The Deity that made this entire world became flesh and made His life among us for 33 years. He showed us how to live, showed us how to love, and showed us the way to God. How astronomical is that truth? Let’s see the birth through fresh eyes of wonder this season!

This Saturday is our Hope for the Hungry event in the Family Life Center. We’ve got 500 people ready to pack 100,000 meals for Uganda. It should be a great day of fellowship and purpose as we come together to serve our world. Looking forward to serving in this event this Saturday from 4-6. 

Join us this Sunday as we worship our Savior.  Bring a friend to church with you this Christmas season and let them explore the Wonder - the wonder of Christ and His marvelous birth. 

-Scott

A Big Announcement

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I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me. - Jesus. 

This past Sunday we explored that central truth spoken by Christ. We realized how this is both an exclusive claim and also an inclusive claim. It says that while Christ is the way and the truth and the life - there is no way to the Father except by Him, and He is the only way to heaven. There is no other way to reach heaven than a relationship with Him. It’s exclusive in that way. But in terms of inclusiveness, it says that all who believe in Him will spend forever with God. It means it doesn’t matter who you are, your family status, your religious background, but what matters is your faith in Jesus Christ. It matters that we walk by faith and have the Spirit working in our lives in the here and now. 

This Sunday we are continuing our “Hope” series focusing on heaven and the hope we have there. Heaven is a reality and while Jesus brought heaven to earth, there is the future hope of heaven where things are perfect beyond our ability to measure. Jesus promised to go there to prepare a place for us, and in Revelation 21 we get a glimpse of this reality. Jesus is a promise keeper, and everything He said He would do, He does. 

I need to make an announcement connected to a leadership decision. The elders have unanimously approved a six month plan that will allow me to further recover and heal. I will remain as senior minister, but Bradley Williams will step in as the interim lead minister. This has been a very difficult health year for me and I need time to focus on recovery and healing. Bradley will be leading the staff day to day and leading out in the preaching elements of the church. The elders and staff are all on board with this. We will share this announcement in all services this Sunday. In addition, Bradley, the elders, and I will be available for an informal Q&A following the fourth service Sunday morning.

While we don’t know what the next six months hold, we know God has this church in His hands. I’m excited about the healing and recovery in front of me. I’m more excited about the church’s future and growth that will continue under Bradley’s leadership. Keep the church in prayer as these next steps are taken.  

-Scott

Hope Today

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This past week we looked at Jesus returning home and how amazed Christ was at the lack of faith by those in His hometown. Bradley asked a very penetrating question, “If Christ were to examine my life, what would amaze him? Would it be a lack of faith or would it be a great faith?” I pray we all exhibit and demonstrate great faith in our lives so the world can see Jesus. What would it look like if we all shine the light of Christ into this dark world each and every day? Would more people surrender to Christ? Would there be more people going into ministry? Would there be a revival in the land? You determine this by living out your faith and living for the glory of God. 

This Sunday we look at one of the most endearing passages of New Testament scripture looking at the hope we have in Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life.” Christ made this very exclusive claim that He IS the way. He IS the truth. He IS the life. No one comes to the Father except by Him. There’s great hope in that teaching and truth. You build your life and eternity upon Jesus. Like the wise man who built his house upon the rock in Matthew 7, you build your life upon the rock of Jesus and His teaching. You apply His life and teaching to your life. There is no alternate route to heaven. It’s only through His death, burial, and resurrection that we have hope and we place our faith in Him. We’re looking this Sunday at “Hope Today” and how Christ builds your life today as you apply His teaching and life example to your life.  

Looking forward to a great Sunday of hope and worship. Invite a friend to worship this Sunday and let them experience the hope and truth of the resurrected Christ. 

-Scott

Not the Same

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This past week we looked at the parable of the prodigal son and the father running  to the son. The son had traveled a great distance away from the father. The son had squandered the wealth given to him by his dad and had run away from home. When the son came to his senses, he worked on his confession, “I’ve sinned against heaven and against you.” The father reinstated him as his son, reclothed him in the finest robe, and threw a party for him.

What an incredible amount of forgiveness the father released, wasn’t it?

We’ve all wandered and sinned. Our heavenly father is waiting and watching for us to come home - to confess our sins and return home. He’s ready to embrace us. He’s ready to throw His arms around us and call us His children.

This Sunday we’re looking at Christ Jesus returning to His hometown; we will see how He is met. This will be a message of hope and insight connected to how we can face the adversity and difficulty in dealing with people who don’t see who we truly are.  This is a message about God’s work in your life in spite of people’s ability to see or notice it. It should be a great message to equip you for family time at Thanksgiving.

Let me encourage you to invite a friend who needs Jesus to church this Sunday. I can’t wait to hear this message. 

-Scott

Also, don't forget about Hope for the Hungry! Go to myforum.me and sign up to pack the meals we will be sending to Uganda on Dec. 8. At myforum.me, you can also donate money to help pay for the meals, as well as, see other ways this event can impact your family this Christmas season.  

Our Hope for Home

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We started our “Hope” series this past Sunday looking at placing our trust and perspective on heaven. This earth is not our home, and we live in eager hope and anticipation of heaven. Speaking of the hope of heaven, Evelyn Smith, mother of Joyce Miller, went home to be with Jesus this past Monday. It gives us great hope to know when we belong to Jesus, we enter into his presence when we leave this earth. Heaven is a wonderful place of hope.

Since our theme for this season is focusing on our hope in Christ, we are having a Christmas seasonal initiative called Hope for the Hungry, which culminates on Dec. 8 with the packing of 100,000 meals for Uganda. In order for this project to be successful, we hope you will participate in one or more of the following ways:

PACK - You can sign up on myforum.me to help pack 100,000 meals on Dec. 8 at 4:00pm in the Family Life Center.

PAY - You can help pay for the meals by giving financially at myforum.me.

PARTICIPATE - You can participate by choosing to share in a meal of rice and beans and be mindful of the poor and hungry throughout the world.

PRAY - You can pray over the meals as they travel and for the lives they will touch. 

For this Sunday, the message will focus on our hope for home. We’ll be exploring the story of the prodigal son found in Luke 15 and seeing the hope we have in coming home to our Lord. We’ll look at the hope we have in the restoration of God and His forgiveness. It’s a great message of repentance, hope for forgiveness, and coming home to the Father. Looking forward to engaging Christ with you and worshipping the Father this Sunday.

-Scott


New Hope

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This upcoming Sunday is time change Sunday so set your clocks back 1 hour. You get an extra

hour of sleep this Sunday!

We finished out our “Thrive” series talking about that you reap what you sow and God’s law of

the harvest. How, if we sow seeds of the flesh, you reap according to the flesh. If, however, you

sow seeds of the Spirit you reap an eternal harvest of righteousness. God won’t be mocked. If

you are sowing seeds in alignment with His axioms you are blessed and reap those blessings. If

you sow seeds according to the flesh, you reap that harvest. Let me ask you, are you sowing

seeds of the Spirit? How are you doing that? How are you reaping that harvest?

We start into a new series this Sunday called, “Hope” in which we are looking at the hope we

have in Christ. We’ll talk about the hope of heaven, the hope of transformation, the hope of

forgiveness, and the hope God puts into our lives because salvation is now part of lives. This

would be a great time to invite friends and family to come to Forum and let them hear about the

hope we have in Christ.

Sunday we affirm our elders and deacons. If you are a member of Forum, let me encourage you

to stop in the lobby and give your affirmation. These men have been screened and selected

from among the congregation. They are people you’ve nominated for these roles, so let me

encourage you to cast your ballot to affirm them.

As ever I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. As I mentioned, invite a friend to

come and hear about the hope we have in Christ. Looking forward to worshiping with you this

Sunday.

—Scott

Continuing to Thrive

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We had a great Connect Event on Tuesday night. The lobby was filled with guests and families as we spoke to them about the ministry of Forum. What a great church this is! God is working and moving in this ministry! His hand continues to be upon us. His Holy Spirit guides us and steers us down the best paths in ministry. It’s an exciting time at Forum Christian Church. As a church we continue to thrive. 

Towards that end, I want to thank you for the great welcome back to the pulpit I received last weekend. It was great to be back in the saddle again preaching to you from God’s word about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. In order to thrive spiritually, you have to be led by the Spirit of Christ. Remember, the Holy Spirit was deposited into your life when you were baptized into Christ. The Spirit led you to your confession that “Jesus is Lord.” The Spirit produces fruit within your life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It’s a great thing to be led by the Spirit of Christ. 

This weekend we’ll focus on the law of the harvest. God won’t be mocked, you reap what you sow is the text from Galatians 6 which we’re going to look at. Do you realize your life is like a field to be filled with plants? What are you planting in life? Are you planting a spiritual harvest? Are you sowing seeds of the Spirit? We’re going to look at these elements this weekend. 

I can’t wait to worship with you on Sunday. Worship is my favorite part of the week. Singing and praising the Lord, sharing in communion together, and being in His word all inspire me towards heaven. Heaven is real and we get a taste of it each time we worship together. 

We are thriving in the name of Christ. Let me encourage you to bring a friend to the service this Sunday because the topic will do them good. I can’t wait to see you. 

-Scott

Continuous Learning

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For you to “Thrive” is what God designed for your life. God set up the church to be a place of freedom. You have freedom in Christ. You are freed from sin. You are freed from the law. You are freed from comparisons. You have been set free by Christ and His death. God has made it simple for you to follow Him. You simply love and obey Him and His word. Thanks to Tyler Hensley for bringing us that message last weekend.

This week we continue to “thrive” looking at the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. God sent His Holy Spirit into this world to equip us to follow the Lord’s leading. The Spirit enters your life as a believer when you confess “Jesus as Lord” and are baptized into Christ. Some people will ask, “How do I know the Spirit is working in me?” That’s a great question and we’ll answer it this weekend. 

As a staff we attended a leadership conference this week. It’s great being part of a staff that is constantly learning and equipping ourselves for ministry. The conference themed around family ministry and equipping parents for whatever life phase your kids are in. I want to thank publicly Rochelle, Leslie, Jessie, Blake, and Tyler for the work they do with our students and children. They give 100% of themselves towards ministry. It’s a joy to serve with them. It’s a joy to see their ministries thriving. It’s great to see so many dedicated parents striving to bring their children up knowing and following the Lord. 

Looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday talking about the work of God's Holy Spirit in our lives. God’s ways, in our lives, are glorious. Can’t wait to share a time of worship with you Sunday. 

-Scott


It's Just the Beginning

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Wasn’t Opening Day just a great way to open up the new facility! Thanks to the over 150 volunteers who made it happen! Saturday, we had the opportunity to interact with people from throughout the community as they came to check out our new building. Sunday, Blake Cohea had a record number of middle school students in their new classroom for Bible study. It was truly a great weekend! 

And it’s just the beginning… 

We are going to continue to intentionally connect people to Jesus. That is God’s mission for us as a church. So please keep inviting people to church and allow God to transform them. We preach Christ with boldness and passion. We are intensely devoted to Jesus Christ and His power to take us and transform us.

We continue in our "Thrive" series this Sunday focusing on running the race of life without restrictions. It was for freedom that Christ set us free. We are not constrained by the law or legalism in following Jesus. We simply love and honor Him with our lives. We’ll talk about that this Sunday. 

And it’s just the beginning…

So I look forward to Sunday because it begins a new week worshiping the Lord. We come together to exalt the name of Jesus. We lay ourselves down as we seek God and worship Him. I can’t wait to worship together this Sunday under the name of Jesus - invite a friend to come with you. 

See you then! 

Scott


Opening Day

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We’re in a sermon series called Thrive and I believe that’s exactly what is happening in our church right now. God has us thriving. As a staff we sit down the first staff meeting of the month and talk about how and where we see God working in our church. The list for September was one of the longest lists we’ve ever seen. Baptisms, people getting involved in service, the unbelievable outpouring of volunteers for the Opening Day event, among many other great steps of faith and service all stood out and highlighted God’s work at Forum. 

This Saturday we are having our Opening Day event which will be a day filled with fun, laughter, and outreach. It happens from 2-6 Saturday and is free to all. It will be a carnival type event that will take place all over our grounds. This is the day we open the gym for our community and strive to reach out. There will be bounce houses and games for every age. There will be a raffle with many giveaways. This will be an incredible day to reach our community - ask a neighbor to attend. 

This Sunday we continue in the Thrive series talking about waiting on God’s timing and His providence to unfold. This is an area of struggle for many of us - we get ahead of the Lord, do our own plans, and then seek His blessing rather than waiting patiently on the Lord. In so doing, we create confusion and mistakes along the way. Mistakes that we own and don’t get out of, but it’s still the bed we made and therefore we have to lie in it. Scripture lays out a better way for us to follow. We’ll be talking about that this weekend. 

On a personal note, it’s great to be up and mobile again. As a congregation you’ve been an incredible blessing to my family and me. We came home from the surgery and our grass was freshly cut - a big “Thank You!” to whoever anonymously did that for us. We’ve received meals and notes and cards expressing prayer and cheer. We can’t thank you enough. 

Looking forward to a great weekend at Forum. 

-Scott

What's Missing

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My morning routine always ends with dropping off my two boys at school and then heading to a good friend's house where my daughter spends the day learning, playing, and laughing. Almost every time I drop her off I am greeted with sweet smiles from the four other little children who attend this toddler party. You might call it daycare, childcare, nannying, friend sitting, or any other common designation, but in reality, it is so much more. Before the customary greetings are shared between friends, there is a two-year-old standing at my feet eager to share the morning's latest news, which usually relates to the toy they are holding or the character displayed on their shirt. I am quick to squat down close to them and intently listen to the jumbled flow of excitement and random facts that come spilling out of their cherub faces.

On one morning in particular, I was warmly embraced by a bright-eyed two-year-old boy, who proceeded to show me a Mickey Mouse blanket he was holding, as if it was his greatest and most prized possession. Then I was directed to watch him as he threw it over his head (which ended each time with roaring laughter). My daughter at that point had enough of watching her daddy give undivided attention to someone else and rushed into my arms for another hug, which is better than all the money in the world, isn't it? I mean unprovoked affection from your children will just melt your heart, won't it? By this time the other kids were also clamoring for my attention, telling stories and showing me the toys they were clutching.

I tell you of my morning routine (quite routine in fact) because although routine, it is anything but common. That moment today struck me as exceptional, mainly because I was reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 18 when He was asked about who is greatest in the eyes of God. He responds so powerfully in verse 2:

2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

There is something so alluring and convicting about the way Jesus responds to the human need for stature, for prominence, and for greatness. He points to a child and says - "It's like this!" As He draws out the main point of humility, to an admission of our dependence, to a simplicity and purity of heart I am sure that many in the crowd that day were shocked by how jarring that notion truly is. I caught the sense of what He meant (even if just in part) early this morning while standing in that loud, very crowded entryway, surrounded by the people thought of by Jesus as participants in the kingdom of God.

Maybe as we get older we start seeking the attention reserved for God and look for that attention from our friends, peers, spouses, and coworkers. We want to be noticed, to be seen, to be heard, we want to be recognized for our achievements and our sacrifices and all the while neglect the one thing that is missing...the humility to stand before the only One that inevitably matters most.

As I crouched this morning surrounded by two-year-olds I was reminded that this is how I should be today with my Heavenly Father. Not clamoring for self-importance or prominence, but rather earnestly seeking the attention of the One who not only crouched to hear me better, or to look at the latest 'thing' I am focused on, but the One who clothed himself in humanity to take my place on a cross.

Here is the part that really gets me worked up. I eventually left my daughter and her friends and headed for the office, but our Heavenly Father never leaves that spot, always ready to listen, always eager to hear all that we are thinking and feeling, always poised to show us an extravagant amount of love and devotion. The question then becomes, "are we as eager for His attention?" So let me encourage you with the words of Jesus as He talks about the benefit of coming to Him as a little child just one chapter later in Matthew 19:

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.

Hear the invitation of Jesus to come, for He has an entire kingdom to share with you.

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday - Bradley


Our Biggest Event Yet

Reaching out to our community is the heart and vision behind our “Opening Day” event on October 6. This carnival-styled event will feature activities for all ages including bounce houses, free food, yard games, and sports-related challenges. Our primary objectives are to bring exposure to not only our facility, but also to the loving presence of Christ that exudes from our church family.

This event is designed to serve and reach out to those in the Columbia community who aren’t connected to a church so be sure to invite some friends and join us for an afternoon of fun, food, and friends.

The Struggle We All Have

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The story is all too common, and it is a story we can all tell. Whether it was a day that went horribly wrong or the alignment of tough circumstances, we have all muttered under our breath or through gritted teeth, "Oh, what a day." Maybe you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who will notice your demeanor and ask, "How was your day?" At that moment you are faced with the decision to unleash your true feelings and gush overwhelmingly about what has transpired, and in so doing paint a rather bleak picture of the day's events, or give the unenthusiastic and subdued general response of, "Pretty good, how about yours?"

We all have those days, we all face adversity, we all struggle, and we all have our way of handling it. For a lot of us, this is where our addictions, bad habits, and bad decisions find their origins. It's the circumstances, the things that happen to us, the stuff out of our control that so often determines the course of our days, weeks, months, and even years. 

So if adversity is unavoidable, and if our circumstances are unpredictable and unforeseeable, yet constant throughout our days and lives - do we have to be constantly shaken and affected so negatively? Does it always have to be a struggle? Maybe you can see where I am going with this. Let me say it another way: If I can't control certain things in life, what can I control? So let's resign ourselves to the reality that life is going to throw us curveballs, and focus not so much on what we can't control, and think for just a second about what we can. Now bear with me, I am a pastor so you know I am going to mention Jesus or the Bible somewhere, but I am reminded of dozens of verses that speak right into this conversation. Let me give you one that has helped me tremendously as of late. It comes from 2 Corinthians 4:15-17:

as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Now the depth of these three verses is enough to write several books about, but let me encourage you as this passage has encouraged me. God is doing something in the midst of the struggle. In fact, I am convinced God uses the struggles of our every day to bring about something eternal, and I am usually just too wrapped up in the situation to even consider that harsh reality. I can tell you with all sincerity when an unavoidable situation or circumstance arises (inevitably) I instantly cling to this passage. It orients me towards the truth of God's wisdom and it grounds me in the work of God - despite my circumstance. This passage has been so helpful to me in the past that I have made it the background of my phone's home screen (you can find it at forumchristian.org/wallpaper, if you would like it) so that I can pull it out at a moment's notice. I guess it is just one small way to respond to the situations in life instead of always reacting (which is what I usually do). It's helped me, and I pray it might help you as well. 

As of late, I have watched one of my closest friends, mentors, and co-workers undergo a myriad of tough circumstances and unexpected struggles. I have seen him meet those severe obstacles with the kind of resolve and determination that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians. I am so thrilled to tell you that after his heart surgery on September 10, Scott Sutherland is now at home and doing exceptionally. He would like to thank you all for your continued outpouring of love, prayer, and concern for him and his family. He is an excellent example to us all of what it means to follow Jesus in the midst of every circumstance. I would ask that you continue to pray for a speedy and full recovery. 

-Bradley

The Danger of Trying

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As long as I can remember I have been encouraged to try my best. Regardless of the outcome, whether in sports or academics or even in relationships, the same mantra has been reiterated over and over again - just try your best. I get it, whether it's trying hard even when we don't quite grasp the complexities of an equation, or whether it's playing hard when we aren't the most naturally gifted athlete, what can often be encouraging after a tough test or a rough game can be the phrase we have heard so often, "At least you tried your best."

While that might help us in some areas of life, it can be destructive when it comes to our faith. So much of the "if I just try my best" attitude can distract and alter our understanding of what it means to rely on God. In following Jesus, it becomes more a matter of faith, of trust, and of relying on what God has done, and on what God is continuing to do. Not trying to earn, please, or even appease God somehow by our actions. But rather, letting our actions flow from the love we have for God and for others.

Trying to please God by all the things we 'do' or all the things we 'don't do' becomes an easy trap for many of us to fall in to. Trying becomes then the anti-relying danger that many of us fall prey to when navigating the challenges of living out our faith.

What is interesting is that much of the New Testament is rooted in this very discussion. Many of the earliest followers of Jesus struggled to find the right balance between relying on what God has done and what God continues to do and what effect that has on what we do. I take some comfort in knowing the Apostle Paul struggled with this reality. In Galatians 2:19-21 he writes,

"For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die."

There is a bold invitation in the message of Jesus to reorient how we understand this idea of "trying our best," maybe we should think more in terms of "relying our best." I know that doesn't sound quite right, but you get the idea. Our faith is rooted in trust and a belief that I can't earn God's approval or love, that it is a gift, and that our proper response should be one of total reliance.

I look forward to seeing you all this Sunday as we continue with our new series "Thrive."

- Bradley

Thrive!

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We finished out Guardrails strongly, talking about finances and God’s design for your finances. We saw how God honored the request from Solomon to give to him wisdom for ruling the population of Israel. We saw how God as well said, “Because you have a heart for wisdom these other things that you didn’t seek instead will be yours as well.” Solomon penned the distilled wisdom into the Proverbs and we saw what an insight they are. We should seek God’s wisdom. We should work hard. We should live generously. Those were all brought to us from God’s word being opened by Bradley this last Sunday. 

This week we start into a new series out of Galatians called Thrive. God desires your life to thrive. He sent Christ for you to have freedom. Freedom from sin. Freedom from death. Freedom from the law. We’ll be looking at the book of Galatians for this outstanding study. As we open up God’s word, won’t you be open to it? Won’t you allow yourself to be shaped by it? Won’t you let God speak to you? 

It’s not by accident that you are here in God’s presence. He’s got a plan for your life and knowing Him and following Him are at the core of that relationship. God sent His one and only Son to this earth to establish a saving relationship with you. Will you accept that? Will you follow that? Will you seek Him? He’s sought you and He wants you to thrive in Him. That’s what we’re going to be talking about this Sunday.

-Scott