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Archive for May, 2011

Baptism Videos

Baptism Sunday's are always special at Vertical as we celebrate the newness of life that comes from people repenting of sin and giving their life to Jesus. As a public profession of faith all baptism candidates do a video to share their story. Here are some of those stories:

 

 

 

 

Quick Friday Hits

I wanted to touch base with you all for a quick Friday post…

  • DO NOT MISS this Sunday as we kick off our brand new series, "Family Vacation", where we will bring summer to you! Just because the weather has gotten warm doesn't mean we start to take it easy.
  • This Sunday is gonna rock as my boys, Flying Backwards, will be leading worship!
  • You can check out all of the pertinent Vertical News on our enews letter, VNEWS, HERE. You can also sign up to receive it weekly at that link.
  • The next few weeks are going to be unbelievable!!! Very excited about this series and all that we have planned for you.
  • We will be doing baby dedications for children 2 years and younger on June 19th. In order to take part you must attend our Baby D orientation on June 5th at 9:30 in our Waumba Land Theater. Step one is to register HERE.

I close by sharing a couple of post you may have missed and should check out if you did:

  • Remember WWJD (what would Jesus do)? On Tuesday I answered  it.
  • So often people think that they have gone too far for God to truly love them. I speak to this fallacy in this post.
  • Jon recaps last Friday's Night of Worship.
  • A young man shared this truth with Jon: “Friend, the greatest tragedy in life is to be alive and not know why.”

See you Sunday!!!

What do I have to do for God to Stop Loving Me?

[33]  And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33 ESV)

Have you ever wondered how far is to far when it comes to straying from God? Ever felt guilt and shame to the point that you no longer felt you could come back?

You didn't feel that way because HE made you feel that way. You can never stray so far that your Father in heaven quits loving you with a love deeper than earthly minds can comprehend.

In the above verse King David mourns the death of his son, Absalom. The circumstances surrounding his death show us the depths of a father's love:

  • Absolom fled his father, David, and Jerusalem after having his brother Amnon killed for raping his sister, Tamar.
  • Even though he fled, "the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead." (2 Samuel 13:39 ESV)
  • After David allowed Absolom back into the city he (Absolom) "…stole the hearts of the men of Israel." (2 Samuel 15:6 ESV), betraying his father.
  • Absolom declares himself King (2 Sam 15:1-2).
  • David ends up having to leave the city, essentially running for his life (again).
  • Absolom has sex with his fathers concubines on the roof of his father's house for all of Israel to see – the ultimate betrayal.
  • As David's numbers grow they eventually went to battle with Absolom's forces and he ends up dying in a very unhonorable way

Absolom's death meant David was safe, he could now go home and assume the kingship that was stolen. But David wept for his son and even wished he could have died in his place after all that Absolom had done against him.

Now that's love. And God loves you even more than that.

  • Young man who strayed from your parent's plan and finds yourself struggling with the pain of addiction: God can and has forgiven you – life forgiveness begins with Him. 
  • Young lady who gave yourself away only to find that he used you and wasn't worthy of you: God can and has forgiven you – a new purity will come from a new relationship with Jesus. 
  • Husband who betrayed your wedding vows: God can and has forgiven you – He longs for you to receive it – THIS is where restoration of your family begins. 
  • Mother who has placed everything before Jesus and feels worn and ragged: Jesus is waiting for you to fall at His feet that He might restore your soul.

You can't make him stop loving you. Maybe you should stop running from Him. [38] For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, [39] nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV) 

I believe it. You should too because it will change your life!

There is Failure and Sin in the Church

Is it me or is it easy to get discouraged when you just aren't hitting the mark spiritually? Peter knew this discouragement first hand:

[26] And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. [27] And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ [28] But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” [29] Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” [30] And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” [31] But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. (Mark 14:26-31)

[69] And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” [70] But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” [71] But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” [72] And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Mark 14:69-72 ESV)

This is Peter. Jesus' "boy"! You know, Mister "You are the Christ…". Mister, "Jesus, if that's You walking on water command ME to come to You" (which he did – Peter stood on water). How could someone who was so close to Jesus, someone who had experienced all the Peter had fail so greatly. And knowing that Jesus knew Peter would fail (Mark 14:30) why did Jesus still choose him to lead His Church?

[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

Is that as amazing to you as it is to me?

Here's the deal, we all fail. You may try hard and may be winning in many ways but you aren't "there" yet. God knows that. God uses broken people. God isn't looking for you to be perfect, He's looking for you to be His – to be surrendered to Him, to be emptied of yourself so that HE can fill your emptiness with Himself.

Can I point out an obvious: there is failure and sin in the church! Every week Vertical Church  has people coming who don't have a relationship with Jesus. Sinners! I'm proud of it! We straight up let sinners come to Vertical Church – I'm thankful they want to come. By the way, that's why we are here!!! I am not burdened that there are people in our church who live a sinful lifestyle, I'm glad they are coming and learning; I hope they are drawing closer to receiving Jesus. What grieves me is when I learn that people who are supposed to be followers of Jesus are living out a sinful lifestyle.

(By the way, all churches have sinners in them – there are just some who have forgotten that they are because they have learned to overlook the sin they see as minor in their life.)

I know that God has called the Church to be His holy bride which is why we are constantly pushing the believers and challenging them to draw near to God. We want to help the saved to be passionate about Jesus so they can lead others to Jesus. However, people fail. They miss the mark (Romans 3:10). Often times the church tends to cast off and leave our members who fail instead of helping people get back on track. Shall we never forget that Jesus loves imperfect people, people like His buddy Peter whom He met with AFTER Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus; Jesus said to Simon Peter:

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” …“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep…  And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Let's continue to encourage people to draw closer to Jesus, especially when they fail. That's what Jesus would do.

Sunday Nite (at a loss for words)

Pastorally speaking, this weekend was one of the most incredible weekends that I have EVER experienced! No hype, no over-excitement – just plain indescribible. 

I am seriously at a loss for words as there's no way I can describle for you the joy that fills my soul. Beginning in the order these things happened here is my best shot:

  • All glory to God for what HE did through Team Vertical this weekend.
  • We began Friday night with our 1st "Night of Worship" at the Carolina Civic Center. What an amazing venue to do this type of event. To say that Vertical Worship took it to another level would be an understatement – so, so excellent for our Savior. Musicians were top notch, worship leaders were next level – incredible. But for me, the story of the night were not the people on the stage but the worshipers… the only time I have been in a worship environment where the people in the crowd connected so vocally was at a worship leader conference in Southern California years ago (and that was 2,000 worship leaders!!!). To hear our baby church praise Jesus so loudly, with all of their hearts and voice = repeated flowing tears. The way our crowd sang… the passion in which they lifted their voices… many times the worship leaders would just stop singing BECAUSE the crowd was singing so loudly you just wanted to hear them carry it. I see it as Psalm 47 being lived out: Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
  • My 2nd greatest prayer for Vertical would be that Vertical Church would truly be a church unashamed to worship our Jesus with passion. Friday night that dream was realized.
  • My greatest prayer? That we would always bring Him glory.
  • On Saturday I had the opportunity to see my friend, Andy Smith, marry his love, Kaylyn Doherty. Both of these young people are special to me and I trust their marriage will bring glory to Jesus. I look forward to seeing God's plan for Andy's life played out. We also look forward to having Andy around Vertical this summer.
  • Sunday morning was a one-off message titled "Dunked". Being that we were celebrating baptism yesterday I decided to teach on the subject of baptism, clearly laying before our young church the reasons behind biblical baptism. 
  • We made a big decision last week about Sunday's message: to challenge everyone who is at Vertical who had not been biblically baptized according to the scriptures to get up at the end of my message and get baptized on the spot.
  • WE BAPTIZED 29 PEOPLE YESTERDAY!!!! Hallelujah!! Many of these people testified in the water. I asked them to share who brought them. Almost all were brought by a Vertical attender. Seeing people turn to Jesus from their sin NEVER gets ordinary! 
  • Here's the deal: Over the past 3 months we have seen over 100 people indicate that they have prayed to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. THAT’S AWESOME! What isn’t awesome is that most of them haven’t followed through with what I believe the Bible teaches is the 1st step of obedience – baptism by immersion. Yesterday was believing that we could help some of them take that step.
  • Thanks to Elevation Church for helping us to make preparations. There is no doubt in my mind that if they did not show us how to do this effectively we would not have baptized as many as they did. I hope as we grow up as a church that we will invest in and help younger churches do things well like Elevation and Newspring has done for us.
  • And thanks to our amazing team who went overboard to make this day a success. I pastor the greatest church planting team of people in America. Just sayin'…

The greatest weekend ever ended with a Covenant Partners meeting last night. 4 significant things happened: 

  1. We introduced our Elder team to our partners and Leaders. The way our church is set up is that as Lead Pastor I serve as the leader of our Elders. I have the option of choosing a staff member of being on there as I so choose. Because of his partnership with me in the Gospel, Donnie also serves as an Elder. The board is completed by Pastor Jeff Isenhour from Arran Lake Baptist whose church has been a blessing to Vertical; Greg Blaine, who was chosen from a number of qualified laymen to help lead us and Pastor Dennis Harrell who is still viewed as a Pastor to 3 of our 5 staff members. Vertical Church is certainily of Pastor Dennis' lineage (if there is a such thing) and he is as proud to be part as we are to have him.
  2. After celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus through baptism in the AM, we celebrated His sacrifice in the PM by remembering through taking the Lord's Supper together. 
  3. We ordained our Worship Arts Pastor Jon Lloyd into the Gospel ministry. A very special time for me indeed. We spent some much needed time in 1Timothy 3 as we carefully talked about Paul's charge to Timothy.

But the best part of last night was the stories brought by our leaders. Who would've thought that people giving testimony of serving in the church would make people weep? There was much to be thankful for as we celebrated the areas in which we're winning.

Like I said, it was a most incredible weekend – one that I will not soon forget. I cannot get over that Jesus is allowing me to do this. Craziest thought? Greater things than this shall come if we keep our eyes (and ears) on Him.