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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.

WARNING: Bad News Ahead…

For many of you, January 2015 has been an INCREDIBLE month. You are seeing CHANGE happen in a lot of exciting areas of your life. Some of you are motivated, moving and dreaming about the possibilities that lie before you. You are seeing God in a deeper way – a relational way. You’ve never been closer – never felt like you were getting “it” like you are right now. That JACKS ME UP!!! I believe I might be addicted to seeing God change people’s lives.

The “Change” series has been a great one – Literally one of my favorites from almost 4 years at Vertical Church. The momentum and the evident presence of God in our midst lately at both locations is just mind blowing. I am SO thankful to God for blessing us with His Manifest Presence among us as we seek Him.

Unfortunately, I need to warn you about something. There is some possible bad news ahead:

You won’t always feel the way you do right now.

The night of February 5th, 2011 was the 2nd longest night of my life. (You can read about the longest night here) When I went to bed that night I felt like my life would change forever as the next day was Launch Day for Vertical Church. I could not sleep for anything. And when I would fall asleep I would quickly wake up and look at the clock. I COULD NOT WAIT TO GET UP AND FINALLY, AFTER ALL OF THESE YEARS OF DREAMING, HAVE CHURCH IN OUR CHURCH PLANT!!!

The following Saturday night, same thing. This pattern continued for a few months until one Saturday evening, I slept peacefully and was surprised to be startled by the alarm clock at my regular 5:15 am.

See, it’s important that you understand that I LOVE MY CHURCH!!! But I have to be honest, sometimes today I struggle to get up at 5:15 am. As exciting as Vertical is, and as much as I truly can’t wait to get there, we have done this 207 times. Ride your favorite roller coaster 207 times and tell me if you get the same rush as the 1st few… Vertical is not new anymore, and if we don’t guard our heart we will allow “the ordinary’s” to slip in.

You won’t always feel the way you do right now.

Just as you have heard us talk about over these last 4 weeks, rainy days will come!!! In our 1st year we had like 1 rainy Sunday, but they indeed came! Distractions will happen. Opposition will arise. People will try to discredit you. Your enemy, the devil, will tempt you. What do you do when you don’t want to fall or fail?

  1. Focus on God. Remember I talked about it last Sunday?!? Nehemiah 4:14, “Remember the Lord…” You heard Donnie quote Nehemiah yesterday from chapter 6 – so repeat after me: “I am doing a great work and I CANNOT come down!” Don’t stop what you’re doing. Focus on God, focus on next and get your eyes off the distractions around you.
  2. Pray. Verse 9 says, “They were trying to intimidate us, imagining they could break our resolve and stop the work. So I prayed for strength to continue the work.” The common response in most of our lives is to work harder during times like this. We need do what Nehemiah did – stop what you are doing and PRAY. Take it to God, focus on Him, remember what He said, then get back to work.
  3. Let God fight your battles. Through the years I have had multiple bouts with people whom I felt were opposing me. I remember one particular Sunday night crying out to God from my driveway and sensing Him instructing me to pray for them and allow Him to handle this situation. That’s what Nehemiah did, he prayed, “…remember those who were trying to intimidate me.” And God did. They completed God’s plan and finished the wall in 52 days.

I Have Never Met Someone Who Didn’t Come Down

Your bad news is actually good news – you are aware and you can be ready! You may feel really strong right now but you won’t always feel that way, and that’s OK. If you never come down from the high you’re on you are different from every single follower of Jesus that I have ever met. It’s important that you recognize this and recognize that opposition doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, opposition often points to the fact that you are doing something right. Never forget what Donnie said yesterday, “The closer you get to doing what God wants to do through you, the harder your enemy will fight to stop you.”

I love watching God work in YOUR life. Let Him. I’m praying for you.

God isn’t Limited by You Unless…

We prayed about starting Vertical for a long time. It was over 5 years from the time I began hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit until the point that it actually became a definitive action.

About 1 year before we actually stepped out to start Vertical, Pastor Donnie (Vertical Church’s Executive Pastor) and myself had to determine if we were going to just keep dreaming and asking, “what if?” or if we were actually going to start a church. Our plan: Begin a full fast on a Monday morning, pray and seek and listen to God through His Word, have no contact, and on Thursday morning we will reconvene and talk about our time.

(Funny side note: we were both invited to a Pastor’s gathering on Monday morning where they were serving a pancake breakfast. THAT was awkward.)

When we gathered together on Thursday we were blown away by how unified our time apart was. But the thing that really messed us up?

 

God let us know that HE was going to do this. We could either allow Him to use us or we could watch someone else do it.

There was no way that we could watch someone else live our dream!

Immediately the doubts started creeping in: “What if I don’t have what it takes?”. “how will I pay my bills?”. “What if no one comes?”. “What if we fail?”. These are all things that “doubt” whispered in my ear.

In the Gideon story, Gideon had his own doubts:

Judges 6:14 “And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” [15] And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 

Gideon thought he didn’t have what it takes. But God wasn’t limited by G’s limitations and He is not limited by ours either. What do you do when Doubt whispers, “you could never pull THAT off!” You realize GOD isn’t limited by you!!! God wasn’t asking G to depend on his own strength but on HIS!

In Luke 24:38, Jesus asks His disciples, “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? 

God was going to conquer the midianites but He was going to use someone to do it – it might as well be Gideon. Gideon’s greatest hinderance wasn’t weakness, it wasn’t standing or position – Gideon’s greatest issue was doubt and fear.

What’s keeping you from trusting God? God isn’t limited by your weakness – He’s only limited by your lack of willingness to trust Him.

You REALLY Can

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

You really can. If Jesus is alive inside of you then…

You can repair that broken relationship through His strength.
You can obtain the strength to live for Jesus daily through His strength.
You can overcome your addiction through His strength.
You can be consistent in your relationship with God one day at a time through His strength.
You can control the words that come out of your mouth through His strength.
You can control the food you put into your mouth through His strength.
You can believe Jesus to lead you in what’s next for your life through His strength.
You can invite that friend to attend church with you this weekend through His strength.
You can forgive the person who abused you through His strength.
You can be a Godly example to your children through His strength.
You can represent Jesus in the workplace in a positive, non-judgmental way through His strength.
You can find God’s true plan for your life through His strength.
You can pray for a hurting person through His strength.
You can invite a friend to attend church with you this weekend through His strength.
You can share what God is doing in your life to someone you feel led to share with through His strength.
You can forgive the spouse who broke their marital vow to you and to God through His strength. 

You really can. If Jesus is alive inside of you. It’s His strength, not yours. That strength is at your disposal. All you have to do is receive and depend on it.

(You) I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

The Follow Fast

Vertical Church will do a 5 or 12 day fast beginning at sunrise on Monday, January 13th through sunset on Friday, January 17/24th.

As we go into this new year we are asking God to help us to love Him more than anything and to love people as much as we love ourselves. The purpose of “The Follow Fast” is one of personal devotion and spiritual cleansing. As we learned last year in Psalm 25:4 says, we are praying and asking God, “Make me to know Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths.” Fasting is one of paths that God uses to increase our faith.
The goal of fasting isn’t doing without food – the goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. During this time we are connecting with God and disconnecting from our busy lives. Work hard to remove some of the distractions of your life (tv, facebook/twitter, video games, texting) and replace that time with things that will nourish your spirit (the bible, prayer, a spiritual book).
We want everyone to participate in the fast in one of 3 ways:
  1. A Specific Food or Activity Fast – Omit a specific type of food from your eating. Example: all red meat. all processed or fast food, or sweets. You may fast from a regular activity or habit like Facebook or TV. Some may do a combination of all of this. Important thing: have a plan and stick to it.
  2. Daniel Fast – Consist of fruits, vegetables and water only. Also omitting distractions (tv, facebook/twitter, video games, texting)
  3. Juice Fast – Fruit and vegetable juices and water only.
  4. Water Only – This is the normal fast referred to in the Bible, how Jesus and the early church fasted.
If you are going to be successful it’s important to prepare. It’s easy to prepare for a water only fast – but for others (juice or Daniel), having the necessary items will help you to be more successful. Below is a sample of some fasting menus.

FRUITS, VEGETABLES, JUICES, AND WATER

Breakfast

• Fruit smoothie with whey protein

Mid-­‐morning Snack

  • Fresh fruit or fresh vegetables Lunch
  • Raw vegetable salad with light, organic dressing and vegetable broth soup Mid-­‐afternoon Snack
  • Fresh fruit or fresh vegetables Dinner
  • Fresh salad with light, organic dressing and steamed or grilled vegetables

    SAMPLE MENU 2: LIQUIDS ONLY

    Breakfast

• Fruit smoothie with whey protein

Mid-­‐morning Snack

  • Herbal tea or vegetable broth soup Lunch
  • Raw, juiced vegetables Mid-­‐afternoon Snack
  • Fresh fruit juice or fruit smoothie with whey protein Dinner
  • Vegetable juice or vegetable broth soup

    SAMPLE MENU 3: MODIFIED DANIEL FAST

    Breakfast

• 1–2 servings whole grains with fresh fruit juice

Mid-­‐morning Snack

  • Fresh fruit or fresh chopped vegetables Lunch
  • 1–2 servings whole grains; fresh salad with legumes and light, organic dressing Mid-­‐afternoon Snack
  • Fresh fruit juice or fruit smoothie with whey proteinDinner
  • 1–2 whole grains; fresh salad with legumes and light, organic dressing
We will have a daily online devotional for each day of the fast to guide you as you take the Path towards a greater faith.