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Archive for December, 2014

Getting Ready (Spiritually) for 2015

How did you do spiritually in 2014? Would you say that you grew spiritually, stayed the same or took a step backward over the last 12 months? Could you truly say that you truly “followed” Jesus consistently over the past year?

Imagine someone came to you and said, “I want you to teach me to do what you’re good at – I want to learn from you!” and you happily agreed. You made an appointment with them to come to their first session but they were a no-show. The person then apologizes and sets up another appointment with you. No show again. I bet you would wonder what’s up with this person. You certainly are having second thoughts about whether they want to do this or not. Now, imagine the next day you run into someone who proceeds to tell you that they heard you had taught “Mr. or Ms. No Show” everything you know. I bet you would be like, “far from it!!!” 

Follow me here: They SAID they want to learn but they never did anything. Yet, they are telling people that they are following your every step and are attaching their name to your name. People do that all the time with Jesus.

The calling on our life, yours and mine, is to be a “disciple”.  To follow Jesus:

Matt 4:18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 ”Come, follow me,” Jesus said, ”and I will make you fishers of men.”

We aren’t “followers” of Jesus because we have taken on the title of Christian. In marriage, is the sole purpose taking someone’s last name or is there more to being married than that? Jesus’ purpose in calling us to follow Him wasn’t to gather a group of people who would call themselves by His name but don’t actually do anything – no life change, no application of His teachings, no helping others.

The simple way that I define a disciple is “a follower of Jesus who helps others follow Jesus.”

That’s what we want to help you to do this year: FOLLOW JESUS. One thing I have learned through the years about myself is that If I don’t have a plan to follow, a map of some sort, I probably won’t end up at the desired location.

This past Sunday at Vertical I shared with our church a challenge for the new year. We have a process we call “NEXT” that is designed to keep you moving towards your next spiritual step. They include things such as:

  • Pray to receive Jesus.
  • Begin to pray daily.
  • Read 21 day devotional (available at NEXT table).
  • Get baptized.
  • Begin serving at Vertical – Join a VTeam.
  • Find a VGroup (small group) to be part of (available thru NEXT).
  • Read 100 day devotional (available at NEXT).
  • Begin to financially Give regularly.
  • Take VERGE class to join Vertical and become a partner.
  • Continue to follow daily using the S.O.A.P. method (S = read scripture, O = observe it’s teaching, A = apply it today, P = pray about it)

I want all of you to be able to say at the end of 2015 that you have done and are continuing to do this daily. And once you have done all of this we continue to help others do the same.

A couple of other challenges I shared were:

  1. I want you to do the above with 2 to 3 people. You will hold each other accountable (“how’s it going? did you read…?”)
  2. If married, do this with your spouse. Share it with your children.
  3. Find 2 other people (not your spouse) to walk with as well so you can help one another.

The last thing I shared is that beginning this coming Monday, January 5th, we will begin the “Follow Fast ’15″. We will spend 6 days (Sunrise Monday until sunset Saturday) fasting as a church. I don’t know if you have ever fasted before but I assure you, there is no greater way to clear the spiritual cobwebs than thru fasting. I guarantee you that, if you do it right, you will grow spiritually through your fast. We will give further instructions about that over the next couple of days.

I want to follow Jesus with my life and hope that you do as well. 2015 is gonna be your greatest year ever spiritually, I believe it.

To My Facebook Friends Who “Don’t Like Church”

It must be hard to be Facebook friends with someone like me.

I can only imagine. All the comments about my church and the people who attend there. All the bible verses. I try really hard to abstain from flooding your newsfeed generic pics of fields with bible verses and positive quotes attached. I also work hard to avoid divisive opinions designed to create controversy, not to mention the pics of my food.

I’m glad we’re still Facebook friends – I enjoy the glimpse I get into your life. And if you’re still reading this post, I am grateful, because I wanted to share something with you about myself and my church.

On April 13, 1997, JESUS changed my life. Before that day, I didn’t know what I believed. Go back one year prior, I didn’t believe. As much as I didn’t want to believe there was that part of me that would think, “what if I’m wrong?” There was always something about God that wouldn’t let me go. In the months that led up to that fateful day in April I began to think, “I don’t know if I believe in God, but if He is real I want to know Him. If God is real, I need to know Him.

“If God is real, I need to know Him.

I guess that’s where my journey really began – When I stopped trying to deny Him and decided that I would seek Him. Kind of like those “wise men” we see around the nativity scenes at Christmas. They saw His star in the sky and were aware that it was a sign. As they followed that star, journeying towards Bethlehem, they were seeking the Messiah.

So I met Jesus in ’97. I have tried really hard to follow Him since that day. I have not always done well. I have sinned. I have fallen. I have been a hypocrite. I have tried to be faithful and not always succeeded. My heart and mind have wandered. But I have tried to keep my heart with Him – I have worked to keep my motives and heart pure. I have repented more times than can be counted.

People who follow Jesus aren’t perfect. We are on a journey; sometimes we’re good representatives, sometimes we aren’t. That’s the life of a person trying to live their lives according to God’s Word.

There are a lot of people who don’t attend church because they’ve been.

That is the reason that there is a Vertical Church. We began VC because we believed, with all of our hearts, that there are people all around our region who believe in God but don’t really care for church. You see, I do not think that everyone who doesn’t attend church are bad people, bad parents, atheist, agnostics, hateful, hate God, etc. There are a lot of people who don’t attend church because they’ve been. I get that.

Here’s what I wanted to tell you about Vertical Church: I would love it if you would join us at one of our locations this weekend for our Christmas Services. Here’s some things you should know before you attend:

  • Come as you are. We are really casual, so don’t feel the need to get “church clothes”. I usually wear jeans.
  • Bring the Kids. We are having a Christmas party in VKidz, so your kidz up to 5th grade will LOVE Vertical.
  • Be who you are. We wanted to create a church that anybody could come and check out the facts about Who God is without judgement. We believe the Gospel changes lives.
  • Come ready to learn. Our teaching is scriptural AND applicable to every day life because we believe God’s Word changes lives.
  • You’ll like the music. Our music reflects today. It is filled with life and wonder as believers sing to our God Who is near.
  • We aren’t “churchy”. Both locations being in non-church buildings can be helpful as we recognize going into a new place is intimidating as it is. We wanted to create a place where people who felt outcast by the church could find their way back to their God.
  • It begins in the Parking Lot! We wanted the experience to begin in the parking lot as we were aware that people decide whether they like something quickly.
I want you to at least have an open heart about Who God is and what He could mean to you if you gave Him a chance. 
Sunday Morning: Lumberton Location (at Cinema Four Theaters) – 9am and 11am ** Bladen Location (at Bladen Community College) 11am
Christmas Night of Worship (Music and a Special Christmas Message): Vertical Bladen – SUNDAY NIGHT at 7pm ** Vertical Lumberton – MONDAY NIGHT at 7pm
Whether you attend or not, seriously, I am glad you are my “Facebook Friend” and want to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas.