Waiting For What’s Next Doesn’t Mean You Do Nothing

By | Business, Church Planting, Devotional, Encouragement, Faith, Jesus, Life Plan | 15 Comments

Inactivity rarely produces anything…
Waiting on God doesn’t always mean doing nothing…

Jesus said, “My time has not yet come” (John 2:4)… He was in a time of waiting…yet He continued to act on what He could do…

Do what you know to do today…
Take initiative towards change you know you should make…

In Joshua 3 they had to get in the water before it started to part…You may have to get in the water first, before you start to see results…

Create action…it is often then God begins to reveal the destination He is taking you towards…

What action do you need to take today?

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10 Ways High Character Leaders Lead – How to Identify One

By | Jesus, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | 5 Comments

Do you want to know if a leader has high character? You simply have to observe them long enough. We demonstrate whom we really are by what we really do.

Leaders with character can easily be identified. I’m sure there are others, but let me share a few suggestions to spot good character in leaders.

Here are 10 ways high character leaders lead:

The way they win. Leaders with character win without belittling others for losing. They don’t have to continually point out their record or kick the underdog when they celebrate. They are humble, recognizing they didn’t win without the help of other people.

The way they lose. Character helps you keep your head up in defeat – knowing you did your best and will try harder next time. Leaders with high character build from failure. They know their hard times were a large part in producing the good times, to the point they are willing to help others who are on the losing side.

The way they control. There are things to control – and usually those revolve around core values. High character leaders follow worthy visions, but they don’t try to mandate how other people participate in accomplishing the win. They value uniqueness in people on their team.

The way they empower. High character leaders don’t “hog the show”. They don’t have to be in the limelight. You demonstrate the pride you have in your ability to let others share the glory.

The way they invest in others. A leader with character will want others to achieve the dream with them. They will plan for a future which is inclusive – thinks of others – and strives to help everyone benefit from the vision. They will personally invest in the betterment of people on their team.

The way they listen. Listening may be one of the most important skills of a leader. It takes humility to be willing to hear from others. It takes wisdom to want to hear what others have to say.

The way they speak. The tone and attitude of the leader sets the atmosphere of the organization, but it also says a lot about the leader’s character. When a leader speaks arrogantly, or uses words like “I” or “me” more than “us” or “we”, it tells how the leader views others on their team.

The way they forgive. Grace is such an attractive and needed quality for a leader. To lead people well they need to know they can make a mistake and learn from it – without retribution.

The way they give. “Selfish leader” almost seems to be an oxymoron. Leaders with character are generous servants. They build and invest in others. They share the rewards of success.

The way they love. If you can’t love people you really can’t lead people – not with integrity at least. Leaders with character put other’s interests even ahead of their own. They genuinely care for people – all people.

What others would you add to my list?

5 Suggestions for Experiencing More Joy at Christmas

By | Christians, Church, Encouragement, Jesus | 5 Comments

But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. Luke 2:10-11

As I read the Scriptures, the ability to have joy is a gift. We may not always be “happy” with our circumstances, but we can have joy. Joy is a condition of our heart beyond the situations life may bring. It was “good news of great joy” the angels announced at the birth of Christ.

For many, however, living in the reality of joy at Christmas is harder than other times of the year. Memories of loved ones, financial struggles, health issues, and relationship woes often make for a very difficult celebration. And, have you spent much time watching the news recently? It’s enough to depress anyone.

Do you ever wonder why everyone else seems to find it, but you’ve been “left out” when it comes to “good news of great joy”?

How do we find the joy of Christmas? (You may want to read my previous post 10 Ways to Overcome a Sense of Christmas Loss. This post comes from another angle.

Here are five suggestions to greater joy at Christmas:

Lower expectations of others

We falsely expect others to respond as we want them to respond – or think we would. We expect them to react to our gift as we felt when we bought it for them. We thought they’d remember us and they didn’t. We sent a card – they didn’t. We tried to be nice – and they weren’t so nice. We shouldn’t hold others to an expectation we set for them.

People, even the best of people, will disappoint us. And, people are different from us. We aren’t responsible for the reactions of others. We are only responsible for our actions. We’ve been called to love others – and, that call doesn’t come with a list of stipulations for others to meet before we love them.

Increase your investment in others

If we aren’t careful, Christmas can become so commercialized, even within our own families, we unintentionally become selfish towards others.

Something supernatural happens when we share with people. Giving has an intrinsic value, which can’t be duplicated in any other way. 

By the way, I believe this includes extending grace, as it was given to us – this includes granting forgiveness to those who disappointed us.

Giving frees our heart of selfishness and self-centered tendencies we all have at times. And, Jesus said we give with one hand without the other hand knowing we gave. (paraphrase). So, we give expecting nothing in return. We give simply to be a blesser – and in turn we receive the blessing. 

Examine your life and address known sin

You can’t experience complete joy with a holy God if you are living contrary to His desires for your life. Where does your life need a realignment with God’s purposes and plan for you? Chances are good you already know. Is it an unforgiving spirit? Are you holding on to anger? Do you have continued, repetitive sin in your life?

Christmas is a great time to make new commitments, and re-dedicate your life to Christ. Then you have a whole year to strive in this area of personal growth. Could a revival of soul be what’s missing for you to have a merrier Christmas?

Change your perspective

Choosing to be joyful is not based on circumstances, but often comes by perspective. Where we stand always determines what we see. Stand in pity or resentment and we will see the world in bitterness and disappointment. Stand in faith and we will see the world from a more positive viewpoint. We will see hope and possibilities. 

The Apostle Paul wrote one of his most joy-filled letters – Philippians- while chained in a jail cell. (Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8)

The fact is – joy is a gift. It’s not based on what we have done or could do, but on God’s amazing grace towards us. It’s based on the hope of the righteous, not the reality of the moment.

Because of who God is and our relationship with Him we can choose joy, even in the midst of life’s struggles. And, then choose joy again. And again. And again.

Set your eyes on the prize

If you’re struggling to find joy in life, set your eyes on Jesus – the author and perfecter of your faith. (If indeed He is your Savior – if not choose His grace by faith now.) Set your sight on the glory to be revealed through your trials and circumstances. (Hebrews 12:2, Romans 8:18) 

God will write the final chapter of your story – and He’s not finished yet! You can trust Him. Look again at the manger – Jesus, the One who existed before time began, set the stars in place, lowered Himself in the form of a baby and was placed on a feeding trough, so He may give us access (through the Cross and resurrection) to a Holy God! I can find joy in this fact! Can you?

What suggestions do you have for finding more joy at Christmas?

10 Ways to Process the Emotions of Christmas Loss

By | Christians, Encouragement, Family, Jesus | 15 Comments

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. As the song goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year“.

But, for some people, Christmas can be a miserable time.

Many have lost a loved one, suffered the end of a significant relationship, or even had a severe personal loss of income or health. For the, Christmas is a just another reminder of what they no longer have. If we aren’t careful, the joy of Christmas is covered over with the emotions of loss, and rather than appreciating what we have or looking forward to what’s to come, we find ourselves in Christmas misery.

Several years ago, to prepare for a Christmas message, I consulted with two professional Christian counselors in our church Jennifer Degler and Elizabeth Ellis. With their advice and some of my own, I offered some practical ways to overcome a sense of Christmas loss.

Ideally, Christ is the answer. Apart from Christ there is no Christmas and there is no peace. These suggestions are not designed to take the place of that truth, but rather to give some practical tips to help you deal with loss at Christmas.

Here are 10 ways to process the emotions of Christmas loss:

List your losses – Death, divorce, injury, finances, children moved out this year – whatever they are – write them down. I’ve personally found journaling to be helpful. Admit the pain – write them down.

Share them – Certainly you should share them with God, but maybe with a close friend or with people who have experience dealing with your specific loss. Don’t be ashamed to see a professional counselor. Find support in a Bible study group or prayer group. We were designed for community, especially for times like this.

Grieve the loss – Every loss must be grieved. The intensity of the grief may be determined by the intensity of the loss. Some form of depression is a normal response to grief. We’ve almost created a culture where we think suffering is abnormal. Don’t be afraid to grieve – even publicly at times. It’s okay to be human.

Resist falling into despair – That’s where you live in a false reality that all hope is gone. It’s not. By the way, you don’t do that by ignoring them.

Take care of your physical body– Eat well, exercise, and get adequate rest. It’s more important during a sense of loss.

Be aware of negative thinking – Catch negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are positive and true. See Philippians 4:8.

Do something for someone else – There are many opportunities during the holidays to help people. Helping other people reminds us loss is universal and other people are struggling with you. Plus, something about giving fuels positive emotions.

Force yourself to participate in social activities – You won’t feel like it, but social support is critical in recovering from loss. No one benefits by becoming a recluse. In fact, you actually increase the likelihood you will become clinically depressed.

Avoid the comparison game – Don’t compare your losses to other people’s losses. Significant loss naturally makes us focus inward, but that never works. And, it’s dangerous.

Honor you losses with new traditions – Begin some new family rituals that will help you reflect on the good things you experienced with the person you have lost or will help you remember happier days to come.

In my Christmas message, I shared one more suggestion – one I believe is the most powerful of all. It’s this:

We have to learn to worship in tears. You have to learn to worship even in pain. When you realize God is good – even when it doesn’t seem life is good – you are better equipped to face the storms of life, which are sure to come.

Obviously, Christ is the peace of Christmas, and He can fill your brokenness. You can trust Him. This Christmas, let the Christ of Christmas fill the void and loss you have in your heart and life.

You can find all my messages on my Vimeo page at vimeo.com/ronedmondson. The message referenced is titled Obstacles to Christmas Joy: Loss.

12 Indications a Church is Making Disciples

By | Christians, Jesus | 16 Comments

I’ve often heard people say you can’t measure discipleship. I don’t know if that’s true.

It is certainly true you can’t necessarily put a number or percentage on discipleship growth – as easily as you can numerical growth, but you can tell, over time, if discipleship has happened or is happening.

Granted, it’s still going to be subjective, as is this post, but I believe the Bible gives us clear indications someone has been discipled.

Here are 12 indications a church is making disciples:

Those who have been in the church the longest complain the least. Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14

The church celebrates most when those far from faith come to faith. In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7

Members care about the needs of others being met more than their own personal desires, comfort or wishes. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:4

The church is willing to make sacrifices (and changes) in order to attract the lost. And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Acts 15:19

Gossip is not an issue. Passive aggression is rare. No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

There is certain joy, even during uncertain times, (including personal suffering). Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. James 1:2

The consistent teaching, from behind the podium to small group Bible studies, is a balance of truth and grace. Jesus came full of grace and truth. John 1:17

People willingly sacrifice, so financial needs of the church, within the church, and in the missions of the church are fully funded. No one has to beg for money – and people don’t disappear during a series on giving. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart–not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

There are no petty disputes or grudges among the people of the church. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15

The church takes care of each other well. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. Acts 4:34

The most appreciated people in the church are often the least seen. The leaders of the church are most likely to give up “their” seats, park further from the building, or do whatever is necessary to help the Body. The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11

Church members live their life with mission and purpose, without being asked to do so. Go, therefore, and make disciples… Matthew 28:19

Of course, there are no perfect churches. And, so no church has 100% of the people – or any one person – getting all of these right. But, increasingly over time a church making disciples should see growth and improvement in people who behave more like Jesus and more like who we’ve been commanded to be. That’s what discipleship is.

Let’s keep this going. These are a few that come to my mind. There are others. Prayer. Forgiveness. I’d love to post again — maybe “21 Indications a Church is Making Disciples”. Add one of your own in the comments. (And, give your Bible reference.)

7 Qualities of an Easy to Follow Leader

By | Church, Jesus, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | 20 Comments

Are you easy to follow as a leader?

I might ask – are you followable?

Followable may not be a Scrabble approved word – or even a word, but the application and the intent of the word is huge.

A followable leader has people who want to follow. See how elementary I can be?

Seriously, leaders who are easy to follow inspire people to join them on a journey and they develop loyalty from their team.

A couple of good questions to ask yourself: Do people want to follow my lead? Why would they want to follow me?

The best example I know of a followable leader is Jesus. Considering some of the reasons He was able to develop such loyalty among the people He led helps us learn why He was easy to follow.

Here are 7 qualities of an easy to follow leader:

Has a vision worth following

A leader needs a vision which lasts beyond today. There needs to be an element of faith and risk to motivate followers. The vision needs to take people somewhere they want to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. It needs to be a “bigger” reality than people are experiencing today. (Do I have to make that point for Jesus?)

Willing to lead the way

A leader who is easy to follow is willing to go first. They pave the way. (Jesus went first. He suffered first. He challenged the tired, worn out system first. Others could follow, because He led by example.)

Remains steadfast with integrity

Even through difficult days, a followable leader stays the course and keeps his or her character in tact. Followers know they can depend on the, resolve, strength and fortitude of the leader during the darkest hours. (Jesus remained sinless all the way to the Cross!)

Displays grace and patience

A followable leader extends grace and forgiveness when mistakes are made. They pace the team until the team is ready for greater challenges. They equip the team with the proper training and resources to complete assignments. (Jesus gave His disciples, and everyone He met, much grace.)

Challenges followers with high expectations

People want to follow someone who sets the bar for achievement high. There’s no intrinsic value in following easy-to-attain goals. (Jesus pushed the disciples beyond what they thought they could do. Recall Peter walking on water?)

Practices humble servanthood

To be followable, a leader should display humility and be a servant of others, especially those he or she is supposed to be leading. (Jesus washed the disciples feet.)

Places energy into others

Followable leaders consistently invest in other people. They give real authority and responsibility as they encourage and develop other leaders. They even replace themselves in key positions. (Jesus sent the disciples out and He’s left His church in our hands.)

Would you follow a leader with such qualities?

Which of these do you most need to improve upon?

7 Suggestions to Have the Best Christmas Ever

By | Church, Culture, Encouragement, Family, Jesus | No Comments

It’s Christmas time again. Seems to come every year about this time. The most wonderful time of the year.

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
Of Christmases long, long ago
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

(That could almost be a song. Wait a minute – I think it is.)

But, if you’re like many of us, Christmas will be over before you took time to enjoy it. You might even get past Christmas, realize how fast it passed, and so you set some new year’s resolutions to slow down and – maybe – enjoy Christmas more next year.

What if you could do that this year? Why not? Sounds like a good goal to me. Enjoy the celebration of Christmas. The birth of our Savior. Relish the time with family. Savor every moment.

Here are 7 suggestions to make this the best Christmas ever:

Set a limit on expenditures.

Something happens when Christmas becomes more about the value of the gifts than the value of the season. More, more, more only produces energy in a direction that can never really be sustained. (Read Ecclesiastes 5:10) Start with a budget. Be realistic. Stop comparing. One problem for many of us is that we are trying to compete with everyone else. Obviously, if you have more money you can spend more money (and less — less). But, make it your goal to invest more in people this year than in things you can buy. And, don’t feel obligated or pressured to buy gifts you can’t afford for people. It will only be a temporary satisfaction and produce a lot of guilt in the new year when you see those credit card bills start arriving in the mail. (And, usually the guilt starts as soon as the cashier hands you the receipt or you push the purchase button online.)

Set boundaries in relationships.

This is especially true for younger couples and families, but really for most of us. You can feel pressured by extended family and friends to be a dozen different places. Remember, you aren’t responsible for pleasing everyone — in fact — you can’t. It’s impossible. (Some have a harder time with that than others.) Don’t let everyone else determine your Christmas schedule. You may have to have some difficult, but direct conversations with relatives or friends. Again, be realistic. You can’t be everywhere. There are some places you can’t (or shouldn’t) avoid, but, as much as possible, control your schedule rather than having it controlled by others.

Plan and prioritize your time.

This is similar, but also includes how we spend our own time at Christmas. There are usually more demands for our time than time for our demands. Just as you did in creating a money budget, create a time budget. Set aside some time for you to celebrate Christmas as an immediate family — or in a way where you best celebrate. Then build around that time. It’s okay to say no. (Do you need to read that sentence again?) If you don’t, you’ll run out of time before you feel you ever really celebrated. It’s hard, but again, you’re trying to actually celebrate Christmas — the birth of baby Jesus. That’s hard to do when you have lost all control of your time.

Lower your expectations.

That you have on others and on yourself. Sometimes we set very unrealistic expectations on what others will buy or how they will respond to what we buy. We look for the “perfect” gift — to give or receive — and our enjoyment of Christmas is based on that search — rather than the real joy of the season. We also set unrealistic expectations on relationships. We watch too many Hallmark Christmas movies where everything works out in the end to the perfect holiday celebration and when it doesn’t happen at our house quite like that we get disappointed. Remember, we aren’t characters in a movie. We are characters in real life. Real life is almost never perfect. Learn to enjoy your celebration with all the quirkiness that makes your family unique from every other family. (Because every family is quirky in some way — in real life.)

Practice healthy disciplines.

Sometimes in the name of “celebrating” we over do it only to have guilt about it later. Don’t overeat or over-indulge. You will occasionally – it’s part of the season — but, be reasonable. Keep exercising. Sample rather than eat full portions. You’ll feel better and have less regrets after the holidays have ended.

Serve others.

Find and establish a Christmas tradition of service. Whether it’s serving at a food kitchen, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, or just picking up trash along the side of the road, you’ll better appreciate Christmas when you serve. The real meaning of Christmas is based around serving others. The baby born at Christmas came to be a servant. The best way to celebrate His birth is to give back expecting nothing in return. You’ll be the bigger recipient when you do.

Remember the reason for the season.

Yea, I saved the best and most important for last. On purpose. It’s also the one we push to last if we aren’t careful and the ultimate purpose of this post, so I wanted it to be the last impression on your mind. Jesus — the reason for the season. It’s simple — even cliche, but, it’s true and it’s powerful — if you do it genuinely. In the midst of the madness, rediscover the miracle of Christmas. A Savior — who is Christ the Lord — has been born to you. Establish a tradition that helps you best identify with the true meaning of Christmas. You could take time to explore a character of the Christmas story you’ve not considered previously. Research elements of the setting and culture. Read the major passages in Matthew and Luke repeatedly through the season. Listen to only Christmas music. Attend special Christmas services. Whatever works for you. Be intentional to practice celebrating the real joy of Christmas.

Not all of these will apply to everyone, but my guess is if there are a couple here you need to work on – to better celebrate Christmas – you already knew it. As we begin the rush of the Christmas season, pause right now, take a few deep breaths, and let’s make this the best Christmas ever.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

5 Words of Encouragement to the Church Planter or Young Leader

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, God, Innovation, Jesus, Leadership | No Comments

Recently I was able to share some encouragement with church planters in Chicago. Having been a planter twice, I understand the unique challenges facing planters. They are constantly struggling with leadership issues, finances and simply knowing what to do next.

I get it. Most of what I know now came from experience and the wisdom of others.

Many of the suggestions I shared are suitable for young leaders in any field.

Here are 5 words of encouragement:

The more specific you are the more we can help. Established churches have systems. Processes. Committees. Structure. Too much you might say and that’s why you’re planting. But we have budgets that have likely been approved long in advance. The more detailed you can be with what you need the easier it is to meet the need. Otherwise, it seems overwhelming. And, don’t be afraid to talk about money. Everyone knows you need it. Just don’t be surprised if help is more readily available in other ways.

Surround yourself with some encouragers. Make sure you have people who speak regularly into your life. People outside the work you’re doing. Some days theyll keep you going.

Seek your affirmation among the people God sent you to minister to. Great advice someone gave me. You’ll many times feel under-appreciated. You may not feel you’re doing any good. You’ll second-guess yourself and your calling. Get back into helping the hurting people — the work, whatever it is — God called you to. Be recharged.

Everything great starts with a humble beginning. Either in your personal humility or the humble beginnings of your work. Take your pick. We all want the grand and instant success. That’s seldom the reality. Those who launch big often had enormous stories of previously being humbled. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah? ?4?:?10

Protect your soul – and your marriage. You have to discipline to decompress. Paraphrase of Jesus: “Come to me all who are stretched, burnt-out, weary and heavy-burdened – I will give you refreshment for your soul. Live this truth daily. Put it as a regular practice of your life.

God bless you planter. Leader. Friend.

My Top 7 Goals to Accomplish on Easter Sunday/Weekend

By | Church, Jesus | 7 Comments

Easter.

It’s a time of year when churches have an opportunity shared only with Christmas in attracting visitors. Hopefully all of God’s churches will be packed Easter Sunday. That’s my prayer.

We’ve had months of praying, planning and preparing. We’ve done all we can do, but God is ultimately in charge of all that happens in our church – and yours.

I’m often asked, however, what I hope to accomplish on Easter Sunday – such an important day in the life of any church. It could seem overwhelming if we try to accomplish too much in one day, so what do I, as a pastor, have at the top of my list of goals for Easter Sunday. This year we’ve even added a Saturday night service, so it will be a weekend experience.

In this post, I want to share what I actually hope we accomplish on Easter weekend. Only 7 things. If we accomplish nothing else, and there are probably many other things we will accomplish Easter weekend, I hope Immanuel Baptist does these 7 well.

Gospel is shared

After we’ve made all the preparations, it would be like inviting people to a turkey dinner with no turkey if we don’t share the Gospel. Once we’ve worked hard to gather people into a room, we must not neglect to share the simple truth that Jesus lived, died, and rose again and by Him and through Him alone we can be saved. We must give people an opportunity to hear the Gospel – if for the first time or one of many other times. The Gospel is Good News for all people. All times. After all, that’s what we are celebrating Easter.

People feel welcome

I hope everyone who enters the doors of our church feels welcome. Regardless of what they are wearing, what side of town they came from, what they do for a living, their education status, whichever “side of the tracks” from which they arrived – let them feel the genuine love and kindness of God’s people. There will be those who don’t feel “worthy” to be in a church Easter (because they don’t yet understand than none of us are apart from grace). What better day to “love one another” than Easter Sunday!

Next is highlighted

I want people to leave knowing where the church is going next. For example, we will continue our series on an overview of the Bible after Easter. Then we will be in a relationship series next. People need to know that – in hopes they’ll want to return.

The church is presented well

This is the weekend, even more than others perhaps, where I hope our people are willing to sacrifice for visitors. I hope our leaders are the ones willing to move to the center of an aisle first, to make room on the ends of a row for visitors. I hope Immanuel people help visitors in the parking lot, even if they’ve never before worked in the parking lot. I hope people who seem to be looking for the bathrooms don’t have to look long before someone helps them. I hope the building is cleaner than ever. (That’s why we have had cleanup days scheduled several Saturdays.)

Just as when visitors come to your home for the first time, this is the time to be ready to receive guests warmly. I also want to answer as many questions as people may have about the church, so we are printing a special bulletin designed to give insight to visitors about who we are, what programs we offer, and easy places where they could quickly become a part of Immanuel.

Our people are encouraged

I hope people who call Immanuel their home church – even if they’ve been there over 70 years (and some have been) or just arrived in the last few weeks (and there are lots of those), will leave encouraged by what they experience Easter Sunday. I hope there will be a God-honoring pride that we did all God would expect us to do to present an atmosphere conducive for people to ultimately hear the Gospel. I hope they’ll be challenged for the days ahead and willing to sacrifice and serve even more, directly as a result of what God allows to happen Easter.

Children are safe and have fun

If parents entrust their children to our care they should be assured their children are safe and well-protected. In addition, I hope children leave telling their parents how much they enjoyed being at Immanuel this weekend. Children have a raw honesty about them. They don’t always know the words to say, but parents know whether or not this is a place their kids will be welcomed. Children are often a huge door to the families eventual active involvement in a church. And, this shouldn’t mean children don’t learn. Obviously, they need the Gospel as much as adults, but I believe truth can be shared in an inviting setting.

People leave with hope

Second only from hearing the Gospel, I hope people leave our Easter services with a sense of hope. Actually, that’s my goal every Sunday. The world can be a scary place. There will be lots of brokenness among us at Easter. As followers of Christ, we believe we hold the answer to hope for the world. It’s in the Resurrected Savior – whom we are celebrating – the King of kings and Lord of lords. I hope people don’t leave more confused or feeling guilty about their life, but rather they live knowing their is A Way, there is an answer – there is HOPE – in Jesus Christ!

Easter is coming. I’m praying for my pastor friends, for the church of Christ, and for those who will enter our gathering places this weekend, joining the Church in Easter worship.