Monday, March 31, 2008
We started New Era because so many people, especially in our area of the country, have exchanged a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ for a dead religion of habit. One of my favorite writers, Donald Miller, says, "If [Satan] can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent him from engaging God." I recently heard an interesting comparison between dead religion and a flu shot. Apparently when someone receives a flu shot, they are actually having the flu virus injected into them. However, the amount is small – just enough for their bodies to build up an immunity to the flu. A lot of people have "just enough Jesus" to build up an immunity to Him. They believe in God and they go to church, but in reality they don't really know Jesus on a personal level. This is why we exist as a church and why part of our vision is to passionately change the culture around us. We want to show those who are lost and hurting how real and fulfilling a relationship with Jesus is. This past weekend we celebrated our 2 year anniversary at New Era (starting with karaoke at a local coffee shop). Yesterday our Sunday Service was devoted to giving God glory for what He's done in and through our church in the past 2 years. Ronnie preached on how in the Old Testament of the Bible, when God did something miraculous for His people, they would build an altar so that they would never forget what God had done. Last week we built our own altar (a wooden cross) and yesterday we encouraged people to write on the altar what God has done during the past 2 years of their life. It was an upbeat, joyous celebration. Here are a few cool statistics of what God has done through our humble church in the last 2 years: 50 people have come to know Jesus as Lord, 28 people have been baptized (public declaration of faith), over 30 people are involved in small discipleship groups, and at least 40 people are using their gifts to serve God and His people. May we never forget what God has done in our lives.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Leading up to Easter Sunday, our pastor, Ronnie, really challenged our church to invite, invite, invite friends, family, co-workers and total strangers to our Easter Service because Easter (like Christmas) is one of those days where people who don't normally go to church, often attend. Yesterday, at our Easter Service we had an abundance of visitors. The church was packed. Ronnie preached a powerful message geared mainly towards those who may not know the Lord. He talked about faith and doubt and encouraged people with doubts to "poke around" the idea of Jesus, much like Thomas physically poked around the wounded body of Christ after His resurrection. He also shared about how God loves us based NOT on what we say or do or believe, but that He loves us because He loves us. It was a moving message and at the end, before we took communion, Ronnie gave an invitation to accept Jesus Christ. 8 people accepted Jesus for the first time! Praise God! It was a wonderful celebratory morning and the presence of God was felt in a undeniable way.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Here's a few recent pictures of little Joe. He's just over 4 months, weighs close to 16 lbs, and is 26 1/4 inches long (97% percentile for his age!). He's started rolling over, chewing on EVERYTHING, and last week on vacation he got in the pool with mommy for the first time. More pictures (and maybe even video!) coming soon.