At Eastgate, one of the fellowship opportunities that we employ is Family Life Groups. One Sunday, every other month (at least), these groups meet after our morning worship assembly to share a meal and to share information.
These groups are also designed for us to get to know each other better...but if we are to truly maximize the effectiveness of these groups, there has to be a change every so often.
The last time the groups were shuffled, my understanding is that groups were formed based on demographics (basically so that people who already knew each other well were in the same group).
For at least the past three years (actually much longer), the only changes to the groups has been adding new members.
Well, it was time for some wholesale changes to be made. So here is what was done:
1. The Family Life Group leaders remained the same, as did the numbers of the groups.
2. Each group was assigned one of our elders.
3. Then each family unit was assigned to one of the three groups.
Both of the last two steps were performed via a “blind draw.” In other words, I printed the names of each family in the congregation and put them in a bowl. Then I drew one name out of the bowl...they were assigned FLG#1; the next name was assigned FLG#2; then next FLG#3. Then we went back to FLG#1, etc.
The hope in shuffling groups this way is that we will fellowship with folks we don’t currently spend a whole lot of time fellowshipping with.
So...what group are you now in? Fair question. However the results of the random draw are currently being reviewed by the “accountable” firm of Kimbrow, Morris, and Sweeney (see Hebrews 13:17).
Once this prestigious firm has given their official certification and okie-dokie the new groups will be posted and lists made available to the congregation.
As I mentioned last week, this past Monday I had oral surgery. As far as oral surgeries go, I cannot remember a more pleasant experience.
When they were taking me back, I guess they sensed some nervousness and asked me if I’d like some nitrous oxide before the doctor came in...now who’s going to say “No” to that!
Well, when the doctor came in to start the IV, they began to take the nitrous off my nose. I protested, “Hey don’t take that away!” The doctor sort of smiled and said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got something much better for you.”
I don’t recall much of anything after that. I woke up, walked out, got in the car (I remember all of this), asked Monica if she knew how to get home and was, allegedly, asleep before she could answer.
Many times we think we’ve got it pretty good here. We have food, clothing, a job, we’re happy...we may even be tempted to believe that we’re living the good life and that things could not get any better for us.
But if the truth were to be told, we really have no idea how much better it can be. Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:1-4:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jesus is preparing a place for us...and it is so much better than what we have here that there is really no way to describe it. Paul tells us, though, in Philippians 1:23, of his desire to “...depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…”
So don’t be deceived by the “laughing gas” the world (and Satan, for that matter) wants you to be content with while on earth. It may seem pretty good for now...but remember, “The world and its desires pass away…” (1 John 2:17).
God has something so much better in store for us. We only need to wait, and He’ll give it to us in His time!
Have you ever had one of those days where it seems that nothing goes right? A day when everything that can go wrong does go wrong? Yep! Me too.
In 1972, Judith Viorst published a book about that type of day called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The gist of the book is that Alexander is having one of those days and he think he’ll move to Australia. But in the end his mother points out that some days are just like that...even in Australia.
For a few weeks now, I’ve had a tooth that has been hurting. For a few weeks now, I’ve been able to manage the pain with over the counter medication. For a few weeks now, I’ve known that Sunday night was coming.
Sunday night the over the counter pain reliever would not relieve the pain...plus another tooth was also hurting. Try as I might, I could not sleep at all.
So Monday morning I was told to call the dentist (there’s one in Bentonville who, well, she and her husband are the ones who started Bentonville Christian Academy, so I called her).
She took the x-rays and said the one on the top either needed a root canal or extraction...my choice. But the one on the bottom, well, she wanted me to go see an oral surgeon because something “funny” was going on with the roots. They made me an appointment for Tuesday.
To make a long story short (too late!) on Monday, April 18 I am having two teeth surgically extracted. The OS recommended general anesthesia (he thought the roots were “funny” too - I’ve yet to see the humor). So as long as I’m out, he may as well get both of them.
Monica has assured me she will have her video camera rolling as I wake up...just in case someone in the room has two heads or the like (right, Addison!).
So, why am I telling you this? Two reasons. First, does anyone want to help me purchase a plane ticket to Australia?
Second, because this “minor surgery” is a big thing to me and I covet and request your prayers: for me, the success of the procedure, and for my family...especially Monica (I’m not exactly the most patient of patients).
I am a big believer in the power of prayer: when times are going good, but especially on terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days...even in Australia!
A brief parable…
Once upon a time, an old man was having some issues with his younger neighbor. So the old man began to spread rumors that his neighbor was a thief. As a result, the young man was arrested. After a lengthy trial process, the young man was proven innocent.
But because of all that had been said, from the initial accusation and throughout the trial, the young man lost his job and nobody would hire him. So the young man sued the old man for wrongly accusing him.
In the course of these proceedings, the old man told the judge: “They were just words, comments, didn’t harm anyone.”
On the day the judge was to announce the verdict, he gave some unusual instructions to the old man. “I want you to write down all the things you said about the young man on this pad of paper.” The judge then ordered a recess until the old man was finished.
When court reconvened, the judge told the old man to then cut up the pieces of paper, being careful not to let any of them fall onto the floor of his courtroom.
When this was done, the judge told the old man to come back tomorrow and he would give his verdict. Before he adjourned for the day, the judge told the old man that on his way home, he was to throw the pieces of paper out the window of his car.
On the next day, when court was in session the judge told the old man: “I find you guilty of all charges.
“Before I pass down your sentence, I need you to go out and gather all the pieces of paper that you threw out your car window yesterday.”
The old man said, “I can’t do that! The wind spread them and I won’t know where to find them.”
The judge then replied, “In the same way simple comments may destroy the honor of a man to such an extent that one is not able to fix it. If you can’t speak well of someone, rather don’t say anything. Let’s all be masters of our mouths, so that we won’t be slaves of our words.” He then awarded the full damages the young man was seeking.
A brief application...
Gossips are worse than thieves because they steal another person’s dignity, honor, reputation and credibility which are impossible to restore. So remember this: when your feet slip, you can always recover your balance; but when your tongue slips, you can never recover your words.
On Friday, April 1, a movie will be released that I would encourage everyone to plan to see. The movie is titled, “God’s Not Dead 2.” As the “2” implies, it is a sequel to the 2014 movie “God’s Not Dead.”
In the first movie, a Philosophy professor asks his class to write “God is dead” on a paper and turn it in for a grade (so as to skip a “needless debate”). One of the freshmen, though, will not deny his faith. So he is given the final 20 minutes of three classes to present his case that God is NOT dead.
Outside of promoting an unbiblical, but widely believed in the denominational world, teaching concerning how a person is saved, the first movie was a very good movie.
From the previews I have seen, the second movie promises to be just as good. A high school teacher is forced into a high profile legal case because she quoted Jesus in her class room (and, by the way, you just might recognize the exterior shots of the high school...it is our own Siloam Springs High School!). (note: I have since discovered that SSHS may only appear once in the movie and is not every exterior shot of the high school, sorry about that)
As I have not seen the movie, I cannot tell you how it ends...not that I would even if I had already seen the movie. But I would like to tell you about the point, as I see it, of the movie.
We are under attack! Satan has unleashed everything in his arsenal against us. He uses politics, threats, name calling, and, well, anything else he can think of to try and silence Christians.
Some people say that Christians are not being persecuted...that we have just had a “monopoly” on mainstream thought for so long that as other thoughts are accepted it only seems like persecution.
Persecution does NOT require the spilling of blood. A state can pass a law that protects religious freedom and it is branded anti-this or anti-that. Then professional sport leagues say they are going to take this or that event from a city in that state unless the state stops discriminating against a certain group of people: this is economic persecution.
Satan doesn’t want you to think you are under attack. Part of his plan is to make you think that you are somehow at fault for not showing “compassion” for those with whom you disagree. He wants to turn everything into a political issue, where there is no right or wrong, only opinion.
God is NOT dead! Nor is His Word and His Word is the only standard we need. He tells us what is right and what is wrong.
In one of the previews of “God’s Not Dead 2” I viewed, the teacher under fire makes this statement to her lawyer: “I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.”
May all of us have the same resolve!