Making Good Investments

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There are certain lessons that we learn throughout the course of life that come from some very unforeseen places. Let me share one of these lessons with you. In my first year of ministry, the youth pastors gathered for a meeting at the district office. Many of us were in our first years of ministry, and so I thought that we were gathering for an overview of district ministries and how things worked. For most of the day this was true. But then came a lesson from a very unforeseen place—our district administrator came in and gave us all a teaching on the importance of making sound investments for our retirement. I couldn’t believe it! Here I was in my very first ministry opportunity and we’re talking about retirement. As I look back on it, it was very wise. 

While it is crucial for us to be wise in our financial investing, the lessons taught to me that day transcend the financial world into the Kingdom of Jesus! Let me share 3 lessons on investment that need to guide us into greater kingdom impact. 

1. Identify What You Have to Invest—God has given each one of us a different amount of resources (Time, Talent, Treasure). We need to have a good understanding of what gifts we have, time we can give, money or other resources that can be given to make the greatest impact. If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, ask God to reveal them to you and utilize them. If you have been blessed with income, identify that which can be invested into Kingdom advancement. 

2. Invest Wisely—no person invests in something without doing homework to see if the investment will yield a return. The same in Kingdom work. When you make an investment into the Kingdom, be aware of the potential return and also the risk. Invest wisely 

3. Expect a Return—When we yield our investments (Time, Talent, Treasure) to God, expect that He will use them to accomplish Kingdom ministry. He always builds His Kingdom. Don’t invest with a lack of faith—trust God to do His work! 

If we are about the Kingdom of Jesus, we need to be investors. 

Where has God called you to invest in His Kingdom? Will you make that investment? 

Passion

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How would you define the word “passion?” If I could have individual conversations with you all, I would imagine that I’d hear a wide variety of definitions. Some might say that passion is something that you really like or care about. Others might equate passion to physical or sexual acts of attraction between a man and a woman. While others might define passion pursuing. As I was writing this article, I decided to check out the definition of passion from the dictionary. I couldn’t believe that there were over 10 different entries (not to mention the synonyms and antonyms) for the word passion. Many of your answers were covered in the overall definition. All of this leads me to the conclusion that passion is such a broad word that many of us are limited in our understanding of the word. 

Our limited understanding of passion often leads us to an impotent view of what passion really is. And as I oftentimes suggest, let’s take our definition from Jesus. His definition of passion includes many of our definitions—being motivated to action, caring, pursuing. But when I look at Jesus and His passion, one thing I notice is a definition that many of us wouldn’t give, but the dictionary does list it a long way down—passion is about submission. When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus, we see three things: Jesus is passionate about people (loves us deeply); Jesus humbled Himself to make salvation and restoration possible (came to Earth as God Incarnate); and He submitted Himself to God’s plan of redemption (suffering and dying on the cross for us). Jesus is passionate about the mission of restoring our relationship with Himself. This is what drove Him. It is why He came. It is why He suffered and submitted to the plan. 

We have a theme each year for our Annual Business and Prayer Gathering. This year’s theme is Passion. As we come to our gathering to seek the face of God passionately, I want to ask you to pray over and meditate on these three questions that will shape our church and ministry and relationship with Jesus and His church over the next year. 

  • Would you classify yourself as passionate for Jesus? 

  • How does your passion for Jesus enhance your life and ministry? 

  • Who are you sharing your passion for Jesus with? 

While these are very basic questions, I firmly believe that it’s in the basic (simple) questions that the greatest depth takes place. 

I look forward to interacting with you about your passion for Jesus and how/where it is expressed. I know that when we are passionate about Jesus and the things He’s passionate about, our lives will be transformed to be more like Him each and every day. 

Take a Look in the Mirror

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There is something that I do every morning before leaving the house that will make or break the day. I eat breakfast, take a shower, spend time with the family before we begin our days. While these are very important, I must make sure to check myself over in the mirror. It’s here that I discover whether or not my hair looks good or whether there’s a piece of food stuck in my teeth. I can take inventory on my appearance simply by gazing into this piece of glass. 

While some people hate looking at themselves in the mirror, I do believe that there are some great benefits to this self-examination. It is through this self-examination that we are reminded of who God has created us to be. But I fear that many of us don’t take this opportunity to understand, appreciate, and value the very person that God has created us to be. My friends, it’s time to take a look in the mirror and see ourselves accurately in the way that God has designed. 

The Apostle Peter wrote his two letters to a church that was scattered everywhere and enduring some terrible persecutions. Because of this, some of the people were forgetting their identity. Peter took the opportunity to hand them a mirror, so they could see and be reminded. God is doing the same for us today—this is who Jesus says you are: 

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10) 

Church family, this is who you are. You have been given an identity in Christ, you have been chosen by God to be His holy people. You are special. You have been created with and for a purpose. We can be sure of that. And if at any time you doubt this, make sure to turn back to His word so that Jesus Himself can hold the mirror while you take a good look at who God has created. 

Life 2019

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It is hard to believe that some of our Circle Drive Students will be headed to Life 2019 almost a year from now! The Life Conference is put together by our denomination, The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), every three years for our youth throughout the country. There will be around 8,000-10,000 teenagers from different Alliance youth groups in one place to worship, grow, and serve God together as one family. 

The theme for Life 2019 is "Awakened," ie: "awakened to an amazing Life in and through Jesus."1 Top Notch Speakers and Christian Artists will be there for the purpose of "Awakening" the next generation. They will do this by showing them that God wants to use them now, and that there is an entire nation of believers just like them. It is the desire of the leaders and speakers of the Life Conference to see the power of the Holy Spirit "Awaken" our students to what the Lord is trying to show them in their lives and to "Awaken" them to the potential that God has given them to make a lasting impact on this world. 

Many other things happen on these trips. It will give another youth leader and myself a chance to further our connections with the students. We will be spending a week together worshipping, serving, and talking about God. There will be opportunities to discuss what is going on in their lives and what they think God wants them to do. This Conference is a time where God may use this event to open their minds and hearts to Him. After returning from Life, we as a church get the privilege of continuing to disciple the Next Generation of students, who desire to live a life for God! 

Thank you for partnering with Circle Drive as we take this step to invest in these students. 

Please be praying for the youth, that God will begin to work in their lives NOW by preparing their hearts for what He wants to show them and that we will see fully devoted followers of Christ growing and going forth from our church. May God "Awaken" the lives of the Next Generation so that they may come to know Jesus, thrive in their relationship with Him, begin to do more for Him, and launch new disciples for Jesus. 

Pray also about how you might financially assist these students as they work to raise funding to go. 

All for Jesus, Pastor Moe 

1 Boal, Dan, National C&MA Youth Director 

Summer in the Psalms

I love how each book of the Bible encapsulates an aspect of our walk with Jesus. Some of the books display the stories of how God works in the lives of people. Others display the heroic stories of faith and how God overcomes all things. Others display the doctrine and theology that we need to grasp to understand who God is, all that God has done and promises to do for us. We also see books of Scripture that capture the human condition in our walks with God. 

One such book is the book of Psalms. If you’re not familiar with this book, the book of Psalms is a collection of 150 psalms (songs) that were written by a variety of people, most notably King David. In these psalms we find people singing about a huge range of emotions and circumstances. What is it like to worship God when we feel alone? How do we carry on when everything seems stacked against us? How do we celebrate and worship God? Where do we run when the things of life get hard? How do we face issues of loneliness, pride, self-worth, value, love, and how do these transcend to our relationship with Jesus? The book of Psalms is a treasure-trove of our connection with our Savior. 

Summer in the Psalms. Beginning on Sunday, June 10th, we will look at different psalms and glean from our forefathers the important lessons on how to walk this life of faith. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see God work powerfully in our lives as we learn how to seek Him in and through every circumstance. Make sure to pray about who you will invite to be a part of this series and pray that God would draw you closer to Him through it. You won’t want to miss this Summer in the Psalms. 

Circle Drive Students Update

What does the youth group do on a Sunday Night?
A typical Sunday night looks like this: announcements, games, worship, a brief message, and then we break into small groups to go over the message. 

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Why is it important that parents and church people know what we are talking about in Youth Group?
It is important for them to know so that they can be praying for the students, asking God to work in their lives. As a parent, this also gives you an opportunity to ask your teenager specifically what they learned that night. Knowing what we are talking about will also give anyone that is building a rapport with a student a chance to speak to them about what they are learning. 

What are we studying now?
We started a new four-week series on Faith, specifically Grace and how it is crucial to your Faith. Last Sunday we unpacked what Grace means and what Faith means and then we dove into how Grace does impact your Faith. During this study I have seen God work in my own life. God's Grace is something given to us even though we do not deserve it. We have never earned it, nor will we ever be able to earn it. John Stott defines it this way, "Grace is love that stoops and cares and rescues, " and I would like to add even though we don't deserve it. Stop and think about this definition for a minute. Who stooped down for us, cared for us, and rescued us? Jesus did, and not one of us deserves this sacrificial act! This term and the power of its meaning brought me often to my knees this week, and I pray that it impacts the youth and you in the same way that it impacted me. 

Grace is essential to our Faith (our trust, or belief in God) because there will be times in our lives where we may have doubts, there will be days when life is hard, and we begin to think, "Does God love me?" It's at this time when God steps in and reminds us of His Grace. He saved us from our sins, and Hell, even though we don't deserve it. He sacrificed His only Son so that we could be saved. If we can remember God's Grace in our doubts, fears and hard times, then we will remain strong in our Faith. 

Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." 

Water Your Grass

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Have you heard the expression, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?” I would imagine that many of you have. There are times in life when we look at our own lives and for some reason or another conclude that others have it better than we do. They have a better family. A better job. Better cars. A nicer boat. Better relationships. Their “yard” is the picture of what we see on HGTV, while we feel that ours looks like a picture from Kansas during the Dust Bowl from the Great Depression era! So, what do we want? We want green grass! We want their yard! 

There are many lessons to learn from this illustration. The most obvious lesson is the danger of coveting; desiring that which belongs to another. It is very dangerous, and Scripture warns us against this. While this could be an entire letter in itself, I think that there’s another struggle that we face in this illustration. The main issue is that we need to take some time to examine why our grass isn’t quite as green. Friends, if you want green, healthy grass, it needs WATER! You must water your own grass for it to be healthy. 

Our new message series is entitled, “Water Your Grass.” We are going to take the month of May to identify areas in our lives, whether spiritual, physical, or emotional, that need to have care. As believers in Jesus, this needs to be of paramount importance. We must care for that which has been entrusted to us by God, culminating in the response of the psalmist from Psalm 35:9, “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in my salvation.” This verse sums up what a “well-watered lawn” looks like—one that rejoices in God! 

As we look towards this series, I invite you to pray about the areas of your life that need some water. Pay attention to the areas that God shows you and be careful not to reject what He shows you, even if you don’t agree. God longs for soul care. I can’t wait to see what Jesus will do during this next season as we take care of the grass on our side of the fence. 

The Baby With the Bathwater

Do you like to get new things? There is such a thrill whenever we get something new. There’s nothing like slipping on a new pair of shoes for the first time or the smell that comes from the first ride in a new car or experimenting with the amazing things that my new iPhone can do. Adults aren’t the only ones who love new things. My children love new things; their faces completely light up whenever they get a new toy or game or when my daughter gets a new outfit. We all love new things! 

This idea of new is better isn’t simply left to our society, but the Church seems to buy into this as well. We love new ways of doing things, singing new worship songs, new dress styles, and involving technology into our worship services. It is good to do new things! The church should like things that are new and fresh. In fact, the Psalmist writes in Psalm 96:1 that we should, “sing to the LORD a new song.” New is good. 

While new is good, when did we come to the thought that the old is bad or inferior? When did modern methodology replace ancient theology? One of our problems is that we tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Friends, just because something is old doesn’t mean it is bad. Yes, we need new ideas and songs and methods, but that doesn’t mean we abandon the things that still work and are still relevant. We need to strive for growth, and that growth requires a foundation that was laid by the generations before. 

So how can we make this dichotomy work? Let me give you 3 suggestions. 

  • Read books by Dead People. I know what you’re thinking. I probably had the same thoughts the first time I heard this statement. But the truth in it is amazing. The generations before us had the same issues and struggles in their walks with God. When we read through how they handled these issues, we gain such a wealth of wisdom. Read books by St. Augustine, the Westminster Catechism, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, A.B. Simpson, etc. 
  • Be Open to New Ideas. When was the last time you prayed for a new passion or vision or desire? When was the last time you sang a new song or experienced something out of your spiritual comfort zone? Realize that by being open to new ideas, you don’t have to abandon the old. Simply build on the foundation that God is laying for you. 
  • Choose What Benefits. There’s really good old things, but also old things that should be left. There are great new songs, but some that should be left alone. Make sure that everything lines up with Scripture and is profitable. 

I pray these will be helpful to you. 

I find that the quote attributed to St. Augustine is very applicable to our discussion of old v. new. He writes, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things charity.” May God bless us as we continue to seek after Him! 

Christ Our Healer

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Spring is technically here, and Easter is on our minds. It is a time where we reflect on Christ, what He has done for us through His death and resurrection. We often think about the atonement at this time, which is what Christ did for us with His sacrifice, death, and resurrection so that we could be made right before God. This leads us to focus on Christ as our Savior, but what about Christ as our Healer? 

Scripture makes it evident to us that Divine Healing is from Jesus and His "substitutionary atonement", (His sacrifice for us to make us right with God). We see this in Isaiah 53:5, which was foretold about Christ at least 400 years before He was born, "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed." The Apostle Peter also talks about the atonement being linked to healing us when he says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”. 1 

This Easter as you celebrate Christ's death and resurrection remember that when He shed His blood on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead that He not only saved us eternally from our sins, but through the atonement, He has healed us from our spiritual and physical sicknesses if we seek Him as our healer. 

So this month as you reflect on Christ remember that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."1 Which means that He can heal you of any sin that you need to overcome, or addiction, and He can heal you in your physical sicknesses if He would chose to do so, just like He did in the Gospels. He loves you, and you can come to Him with confidence in His healing power if you seek healing through what Christ did through the atonement. 

__________________ 

1 1Peter 2:24 ESV 

1 Hebrews 13:8 ESV 

Preparation for Easter

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Lent is the time of preparation and reflection before Easter. During this time, we take time to draw near to Jesus and contemplate the incredible love, grace, and hope displayed on the cross of Calvary and through the Resurrection the following Sunday! This year, we were challenged to prepare and reflect on the message of Easter as we took the 45-Day Challenge through the Gospels. I am absolutely loving this journey and pray that Jesus would show you more and more about who He is as we undertake this journey together. 

We are now just about half-way through this challenge. I trust that you’re finding this experience rewarding. Reading Scripture never disappoints. The Bible is God’s Holy Word written directly to us. In it He speaks of great truths, messages of encouragement, and hope for a life spent with Him. While reading Scripture to know God more is a good idea, it’s not the real purpose of reading Scripture. I want to give you 3 things that take place when we read Scripture that go far above simple knowledge. 

  • We Read Scripture so that Jesus Can Transform Us. Simple knowledge isn’t good enough. If we were after knowledge, the Bible would be a textbook. But in fact, we see that the Word of God is used to make us into a new being; one that has encountered the True God and is being made like Him.
  • We Read Scripture so that Jesus Can Equip Us. The purpose of the message series, Knowing Jesus, is taking the opportunity for Scripture to impart life lessons on how Jesus would handle the situations in life so that our attitudes and actions glorify Jesus and draw others closer as well. May we be thoroughly equipped (2 Tim. 3:16-17) 
  • We Read Scripture so that We Can Be Encouraged. We all need encouragement. We all face difficult situations in life that cause us to question whether following Jesus is worth the trouble. But when we look to Scripture, we see the testimony of God’s faithfulness. He was faithful to believers of the past—ministering in times of distress and oppression. He is faithful to believers now and will continue to be in the future. One of the most encouraging things we see in Scripture is that Jesus tells us how everything ends—He wins. Sin is defeated, and an eternity awaits us. What can be more encouraging to our perseverance than knowing it all works out! 

This is what Scripture does. 

I want to encourage you to continue in seeking Jesus through the Scriptures. If you’ve fallen off the wagon of the 45-Day Challenge, let me encourage you to get back into Scripture. It’s never too late. God longs to transform you through the Word.