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What’s NEXT?

In last week’s message I said, “God didn’t shout His love from heaven, He showed His love on earth when His Son became flesh and blood.” What Jesus did on the cross was the ultimate act of true connectedness. The thing that blows me away is what He asked in return:

“FOLLOW ME.” – Matt 4:19, Mark 1:17

How does a person “follow Jesus”? I think that’s an awesome question that doesn’t get asked enough. I think the most important thing in following God with your life is always moving forward. We never follow by taking backward steps. If you find yourself moving backward, you aren’t following, you’re falling. The best thing you can do to follow is take some great next steps and you can begin that today:

Here are some great NEXT steps:

  1. Begin reading your bible EVERY day. I would begin by reading at least 5 mins, your time there will grow. Use a translation you can actually understand (I vary between NIV, NLT, ESV with a little bit of “the Message” thrown in). You can begin a reading plan HERE. We have 21 day and 100 day reading plans at the NEXT table at both Vertical locations.
  2. Get involved at your local church. Don’t just attend, be a part. The people whose lives are being changed the most are those involved in changing others lives on a weekly basis. If you attend Vertical you need to join a VTeam today and you can begin that process HERE.
  3. Forgive someone whom you have issues with. The greatest hinderance that I see to growth in people’s lives is in the area of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness will stunt your growth like a teenager smoking cigarettes! Seek forgiveness and pray for reconciliation – stop focusing on what’s wrong with others and focus on what’s wrong with you.
  4. Confess secret sin for purpose of breaking its hold on you. Some people can’t move forward because they are carrying something spiritually heavy and rather than confess and repent so they can move on, they choose to hide and conceal. Our care and prayer team (orange tent after the service) is always there to listen and pray with you. Secret sin will always keep you from what’s NEXT.
  5. Examine your habits and environments. Is there anything in your life that causes you to sin? What will it take to remove that temptation from you? Sometimes we have to remove ourselves from things or places that cause us to walk in our old lifestyle.

These 5 things aren’t a very exhaustive list but, for me, these are things that I believe will point us towards what’s NEXT. I do know this to be true: God’s plan for you is GREATER than your plan for you. So take a NEXT step and watch Him move in your life.

I can’t wait for Sunday!!! I hope that you will finally do what you know you need to do.

What Does 4S Mean?

This past weekend I shared the statement, “People see my belief through my service.”

In my message I took the liberty of looking at Mark 2:1-12 through my own journey to Jesus Christ. As I thought about the faith of these four men who carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus it took me back to a time 15 years ago when I was like the paralyzed man. Though I have never been physically paralyzed I was definitely spiritually paralyzed – I had needs only Jesus could meet, forgiveness that only He could give. I needed Jesus but I just did not yet have the faith to believe. When it comes to the things of God I might as well have been this handicapped man… I needed some people to get me to Jesus and God sent them to me.

“People see my belief through my service.”

JD and David Crowder

One of the men on a corner of my “stretcher” was a man named John David Coxe (we call him JD). JD served at the church Keyna and I had begun to attend. JD seemed like a guy who wouldn’t love Jesus – he was big, burly, a man’s man who worked on a construction site.  1 year earlier Jesus had saved John David. JD was always kind to me, I could tell he was different. One day JD invited me to go to a conference with he and some other guys and I was blown away. I couldn’t believe that this church guy had asked me to go ANYWHERE with them. On that day and through his service at the church, God put John David on a corner of my stretcher to show me love and acceptance as an outsider.

The difference JD made in my life is a big part of why Vertical serves the way that we do… it’s why we have people in the parking lot, people waving, saying, “good morning…”. People opening the doors, helping you get some coffee and get a great seat. It’s why some are here before 7am to set up sound, lights, instruments. It’s the extra things that God uses to make Vertical special. This reminds me that people see my belief through my service. Every single person who calls Vertical home needs to have a place where they are helping others see the love and acceptance that JD showed me when I nervously showed up at church.

At Vertical Church our VTeams are a representation of Jesus working IN and THROUGH people. If you attend with us you hear me say it all the time: “I don’t want something FROM you, I want something FOR you”.

4S stands for Shadow Sunday’s are Starting Soon”! What is Shadow Sunday? Shadow Sunday is your opportunity to find your place to make a difference in people’s lives at Vertical Church by shadowing/apprenticing with our excellent VTeam leaders/servers. There are so many opportunities to serve at VC.

Host Team: VIP (1st time guests), Greeter, Cafe, NEXT Table, Parking, Usher Crew.

Production: Lights, running audio, running what you see on the screen, creating videos, computer graphic design, camera person.

The Road Crew: Beginning early Sunday morning, and throughout the early afternoon, these devoted volunteers lift, load, and arrange to make our Church services and family ministry environments possible.  If Christ is calling you to help Build his Church, the Road Crew is for you.

VKidz: Volunteer leaders, small group leaders, storytellers, running technical side of VKidz production, worship leaders, crowd control.

Vertical Worship: Musicians and singers. Must be willing to audition.

I know starting to serve is a HUGE step for people. What you need to know is that as HUGE as the step is it will also pay HUGE dividends in your spiritual life. In many ways service activates our faith – it adds to it. It will take a dim faith and fan the flame to a point where it shines again.

Are you ready to take a “NEXT” step and help people see Jesus through your service? Comment below and say “I would like to find my place!” and someone will be in contact with you!

A Mid-Thursday Encouragement

It’s Thursday. Maybe you’ve had a tough week. As hard as you have attempted to let this week be different spiritually for whatever reason, it didn’t happen and you just don’t understand why. On Sunday you felt great, you were “All In” and today you kind of feel like a failure. Let me encourage you: Follow through is one of the hardest disciplines and it is so easy to get off course.

If satan can get Adam and Eve off course in the middle of Paradise he can certainly distract you on a Thursday.

You CAN get back on course today. The devil is a liar and telling you that you already got off-track so “you might as well quit”. Be victorious for in Christ you have already won the battle. Here’s some things that will help:

  • Catch up on your Bible reading. You have only missed 4 days. Day One is here, Two here, Three here and Four here. You can find each days devotional questions on my website, http://mikepittman.org/
  • Did you sign up to take the NEXT class this Sunday at 9:20 am? It’s time for you to quit just attending and take that next step whatever it may be. Respond in the comments below and say, “I’m coming to NEXT!”
  • Do you have kidz? Make sure to join us for the “ALL IN SplashFest” at White Lake Water Park on Saturday, August 25th at 6:30 pm. This is going to be a great chance for you to meet others including our staff. I look forward to a little splashing with all of you!
  • Who are you inviting to “ALL IN WEEKEND”? Sunday morning, August 26th is the day I would ask you all to be praying for. That person that you have prayed for, the one that you KNOW needs to experience Vertical – do whatever it takes to get them here on that Sunday morning as I am bringing a message that they need to hear.
  • Do you want to learn to how to share your faith with others? VGroups are Vertical small groups that meet in homes all over our region. Our next VGroup semester is going to begin in September and we are starting it with a church-wide study that is going to help everyone of you learn to be confident in sharing what God has done in your life with others. If you’re anything like me you always need help in this area. Make plans to join us IMMEDIATELY after the service for a free meal and the opportunity to be part of a VGroup in your area.
  • Would you like to H.O.S.T. a VGroup video study in your home? Here’s what it means to H.O.S.T.
    H = Have a heart for Jesus and Vertical Church
    O = Open up your home
    S = Serve people in your home
    T = Turn on a DVD player
    If you think that you and 5-8 of your friends could do this study together 1 time per week contact our VGroups Pastor, Danny McLamb on facebook or email him at DannyMc@govertical.org
  • If you were supposed to come to a VTeam Vision Night and missed it you CAN join us tonite at 7pm for our last one. Honestly, this has been an incredible week and I would love for you to experience this. Let me know in the comments below that you would like to attend so we can plan for your meal.

Don’t quit – start today!!! Your lunch hour is a GREAT time to read the scriptures. What a great way to get your heart ready for the 2nd half of your day!

By the way… below is the “In the Know” video that did not play in Sunday’s service. I love you all and am praying WITH and For you.

Helping People Move from Here to There

 

Have you ever been on a people-mover at an airport or an amusement park? It’s a pretty awesome concept (I loved George’s idea on Seinfeld to put them around the city). People get on this moving floor and as the continue to walk they move 3 times as fast as normal. People movers make it easier for people to move from Point A to Point B.

Years ago I realized something about the calling on my life: I am in the people mover business. My job is helping to move people from Spiritual Point A to Spiritual Point B and beyond.

At Vertical Church we have worked really hard in this area. We have systems in place that assist us in those goals (Host Team consisting of Parking, Greeting, VIP (1st time guest), Ushers, Cafe, Prayer Room, First time calls). We want to help them to:

  • Move from 1 visit to 2. While our ultimate goal is that people enter relationship with Jesus, our immediate goal is to help them string together consecutive visits. I once had a man say to me, “Pastor, I have never been to church 6 weeks in a row in my life.” Now he has – that’s a win to us.
  • Move from making a private decision to a public decision. When people are sitting under the teaching of God’s word we recognize that the Holy Spirit is at work on that person’s heart and mind. It is so easy for people to make mind decisions that never seem to make it to their heart. It is our job to help them make that transition. We direct everyone who has questions to go by NEXT. NEXT is a table located at the exits staffed with people who are trained to help people take their next step, whatever it may be. We try to make taking a next step easy because we know that actually taking the step isn’t.
  • Move towards being doers and not just hearers. We teach some pretty heavy stuff and the truth we place before our people can change their lives but only if our people apply what they’ve learned. Hearing preaching doesn’t change our lives – doing something with what we hear changes lives. We will not be changed by preaching osmosis (absorbing teaching that changes us).
  • Move from death to life. Never misunderstand, what we are involved in is supernatural. God is changing hearts, minds, lives and eternities. We feel it’s our job to help them move from death to life,  not just in this world but in the world to come. Eternity is promised by God to those who call upon Him for salvation.

This weekend at Vertical we will baptize people that I have personally prayed for… some for a while. This is real and this is supernatural.We’re in the spiritual people mover business and I thank Jesus for allowing me to be part.

How Do I Know What I’m Supposed to Do?

I have found that the life of following Jesus is one of many important decisions strung together for the glory of God. It is so important that the decisions that we make are the ones that we truly feel God is leading us to make. We cannot haphazardly jump from one decision to the next because it seems to be the right one.

It is so important that we wait on God.

In the story of the Apostle Paul’s conversion God made him wait. If you know the story, he was a pretty bad guy towards God. Feeling like a crusader against Jesus and “the Way” (what they called Christianity in its inception) he literally was a leader in bringing all of these blasphemers against Judaism and God to justice. But Jesus intervened:

[3] Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. [4] And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” [5] And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [6] But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” [7] The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. [8] Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. [9] And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:3-9 ESV)

So he went into the city and waited for God to tell him what to do. The story goes on to tell us how he learned “what you are to do”:

[10] Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” [11] And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, (My note: NOTICE THAT WHILE PAUL/SAUL IS WAITING that HE IS PRAYING) [12] and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” (Acts 9:10-12 ESV)

So he did. Saul of Tarsus received his sight again (scales fell from his eyes – read it for yourself) and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. God told him what to do: 1st, he rose and was baptized then he ate some food. The next thing we see in scripture he is in the synagogue telling people about Jesus, his new calling in life.

This morning as I thought on the fact that it is Friday and Sunday is fast approaching I couldn’t help but think about how many of you who read my blog, whether you attend Vertical Church or not, NEED TO TAKE A NEXT STEP. What is that next step?

What is God telling you to do? I can’t tell you that, YOU need to ask Him. Stop what you are doing, pray right now, and continue that prayer. What is He telling you to do? For some of you your next step is:

  • You need to be saved. You need to receive the forgiveness of Jesus, given in His own blood through His purposeful sacrifice on the cross. What are you waiting on – receive Him into Your heart and life TODAY! (don’t know how, contact me and I will lead you there).
  • You need to be baptized by immersion. New Testament baptism ALWAYS takes place AFTER conversion. 1st you receive Jesus, THEN you are baptized. Many of you are under a continuous conviction because you know that you have this out of order. I would call you to remove this hinderance to growth from your  life. (if you need to be baptized you can sign up for that here - the next Vertical baptism is February 12)
  • You need to repent of sin in your life. Maybe there is something that you have buried that you don’t want to deal with – you try not to think about it but it’s always there. Stop what you’re doing, confess it to Jesus, ask for His forgiveness then TURN (that’s what it means to repent) and go in the other direction from that sin.
  • You need to forgive someone and/or be reconciled. Unforgiveness is poison to your soul – it eats away at you. You may say,”They don’t deserve my forgiveness!!!”, but YOU DESERVE to be free from allowing them to continuously hurt you. Unforgiveness is like you taking poison and expecting the other person to get sick from it. God can free you from this but you must give it to Him and allow Him to free you of all of this.

Maybe you need to join the church. Maybe you need to join a VGroup. Maybe you need to serve on a VTeam. I don’t know the answer for you but I do know that this Sunday at Vertical Church is a day in which we will celebrate Communion with Jesus through the Lord’s Supper. I would challenge you all to enter into prayer in preparation for this important day. Sunday may be the beginning of your new life with Jesus Christ.

So often we want to know God’s big plan for our life – He will not give you that answer until you have done the NEXT thing He is instructing you to do. First things first.

So I ask you, what IS God telling you to do?