Lessons from Wawa

November 22, 2011 by

Contributed by Toby Ward, Elder Overseer of Outreach at Image Church

Recently my family and I were getting ready for church when the power went out. There’s never really a good time for that to happen, but a Sunday morning is about the worst. Trying to get 3 kids under 6 ready to go somewhere is not an easy task on its own, much less with no power. We got ready a little later than normal, and I needed to stop for some coffee. On our way we saw a car in the ditch with a  downed power pole next to it. Power was out for at least 2 miles down the road. We pulled into the local Wawa, and of course it was closed due to no power. Those things always happen when you’re late don’t they? We thought, no big deal, there is another one just down the road.

Upon pulling into the parking lot it was ridiculously busy. Not a single place to park. Once I went inside, THAT’S when the chaos REALLY started. There was more people in one building than any fire marshall would ever allow. People were fighting over the pastries, the cooks could not make sandwiches fast enough, the coffee was empty, and all 4 registers had a line 10 people deep. Wawa typically operates in a very efficient manner, and on that day they had lost control. It was absolutely nuts. At the coffee station, I overheard one co-worker encouraging another that it would all be OK. The other Wawa was closed, so they had to pick-up the pace. The manager was walking around offering to help everyone, and most willing to wait got free coffee for the inconvenience. You would have thought a natural disaster had just struck route 610 in Stafford.

That one Wawa being closed for only a few hours ABSOLUTELY ripped a HOLE in the Stafford community. People were losing their minds. Keep in mind that within a 3 mile radius there was another Wawa (with power), three 7-11’s, three Valero’s, an Exxon, a BP, and countless other eateries and coffee chops. Why was everyone crammed into this one place? Because Wawa had something everyone wanted: Simplicity. Wawa makes it easy for people to get gas, get some food, get coffee, and get out quickly. They are also typically very nice and helpful, which always keeps you coming back.

Wawa’s website says the following:

Our Core Purpose…

To Simplify Our Customers’ Daily Lives

Our Core Values…

  • Value People
  • Delight Customers
  • Embrace Change
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Do Things Right
  • Passion for Winning

I can personally say that on this day, they did all these things. Wawa obviously prepared its employees well for days like that. Wawa has integrated itself into the Stafford community, and we are better off for it.

On the way to church, I was telling my wife about the scene in Wawa, and it hit me: THAT’s what church is supposed to be like!! The church is the bride of Christ, and the product we have is the Gospel!!!!! How do we get people to see the Gospel as something they need like coffee or a doughnut with sprinkles? How can we make the Gospel as essential as gas for your car? How do we train/equip our people to feed on God’s Word like they feed their car with 87 grade with 10% ethanol? 🙂

We get back to the basics. We understand why we exist as a church. Recently, as elders at Image Church, we simplified our mission statement. Check this out:

Purpose (Why) to magnify Jesus
 
Vision (Where)to be a community of people reflecting the image of Jesus
 
Mission (What)to lead people to love God (Worship), love others (Community), and make followers of Jesus (Service).

Worshipa follower of Jesus worships God with all of their life

Communitya follower of Jesus lives in community just as God lives in community

Servicea follower of Jesus is sent to serve people in order to see them transformed by the Gospel

It’s that simple, and at Image Church we strive to integrate ourself into the very fabric of our community that God has placed us. I LOVE Dumfries, and I hope you do too. Check out the mission statement above, and prayerfully consider how you could get on board. Worship, Community, and Service are the three steps to reaching God’s plan for our lives, our church, and the people of Dumfries.

Simplicity.

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The God I am Willing to Know…

November 14, 2011 by

Contributed by Shannon Perkins, wife of Russ Perkins, Elder Overseer of Communities at Image Church

“This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”  (John 17.3 – NLT)

I submit that there are only two kinds of people in the world… those who need to know God and those who need to know Him better.  The good news is that God – the Creator who spoke the heavens into existence, the One who breathed life into being, the Sustainer who holds everything together — makes Himself known to man! The bad news is I don’t always take Him up on His offer.

In the sixth chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus describes Himself as the “Bread of Life”.   His audience was familiar with the provision of manna for their ancestors while they were in the desert, despite their misconception that it had come from Moses.  (Jesus rightly pointed out that, like the Bread of Life, the manna actually had come down to earth from God in heaven.)  As the Bread of Life, Jesus’ offering was eminently more valuable than the temporary sustenance provided in the past or the physical food this crowd came seeking that day.  Jesus offered … Truth Itself… nourishment for the empty soul that would enable the spiritually hungry to know God! Sadly for those who would ultimately choose to view Jesus as just the benevolent son of a carpenter, this truth would be too hard to swallow.   The crowd, unwilling to acknowledge their spiritual lack and their very real need for a Savior, would not come to know Jesus as anything but a momentary meal ticket.  They were only interested in the temporal…in filling their bellies.  To address the eternal need — to personally know God– would be too costly.  They simply were not willing to know God as The Bread of Life…so they walked away.  However, others in Scripture were willing.

In order for Abraham to know God as The One Who Provides, he had to give up his most prized possession, raising a knife to the son of promise whom he loved.  Could Ruth have known God as Kinsman-Redeemer apart from being brought to a place of utter destitution and complete dependency? (Ruth 1-4) For David to know God as a “very present help in time of trouble” (Ps 46.1), he actually had to need help in a time of trouble.  For Hagar (Gen. 16) to know “the God Who sees,” she had to come to grips with the fact that no one else did.  How could Jeremiah experience God as “Comforter in sorrow,” unless his own heart had fainted within him? (Jer. 8.18)  If Peter had not left everything…job, home, future how could he truly call Jesus “Lord” of all?  (Matthew 19.27)  How could John the Baptist recognize Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” apart from seeing himself as unworthy? (John 1) Lazarus had to experience death in order to know Jesus as “the Resurrection.”   (John 11.25) One woman had to bleed for twelve years in order to know Jesus as Healer. (Mark 5) Paul had to consider everything he trusted — his lineage, his academic accomplishments, even his religion – as garbage in order to know Christ alone as Righteous. (Philippians 3.8) These are only a few examples of the costs involved to personally know the only true God. 

So, how about me?  Am I willing know God in the way He wants to reveal Himself to me?  This is a question I’ve been pondering for quite some time.  Am I really willing to know God as Comforter?  Most likely, then, I will have to endure suffering.  Am I willing to know God as a Friend of sinners?  Then I not only have to admit I am one…I may also have to reach out to another.  If I am to know God as Refiner and Purifier, most certainly I will have to rid my life of internal and external impurities…displeasing attitudes, words and actions.  Knowing God as Lord will, by definition, require submission of every area of my life to His control.  Coming to know God in the new and fresh ways He desires to reveal Himself will cost me…that is certain.  But the value of knowing Him will far exceed that cost.  After all, as He was with Abraham back in the beginning, God Himself will also be my Very Great Reward. (Gen.15)

Because

November 7, 2011 by

Contributed by Russ Perkins, Elder Overseer of Communities at Image Church

So, let me ask you a straightforward question.  If you could have God’s help, would you want it?

Of course, this presupposes that you believe in God and that He is interested and involved in our lives. (He is!) To be even more precise, I mean the God of the Bible, namely — Jesus.  Jesus is the grand subject of the scriptures. All of the Old Testament points to His eminent appearance, and the whole of the New Testament declares His arrival.  Jesus is the centerpiece of all the scriptures. He is God come to earth in a bag of skin and bones.  

So then, back to the question at hand… Do you want God’s help? — or worded another way, do you want His hand on your life?  Lets go take a quick look at a man named Ezra. Ezra was an Old Testament priest responsible for helping a portion of his fellow Israelites return home from exile.  Something truly wonderful is revealed to us in the text that bears his name.

Ezra 7:9-10 (Holman Christian Standard Bible) – He (Ezra) began the journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month and arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. The gracious hand of his God was on him, 10 because Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the LORD, obey [it], and teach [its] statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Ok — did you read that? What did you see? — Let me tell you what I see. God’s hand was on Ezra. Why? Because Ezra had determined in his heart to study and obey God’s word, but that’s not all. Ezra would also teach its statutes and ordinances (laws and rules) to his fellow Israelites. Ready for some good news? – The same opportunity and privilege is ours as well!

We each can determine in our own hearts to study and obey God’s Word and to teach or pass what we are seeing and learning along to others.  God is no different today. If this was true for Ezra, it’s true for us right now.  

To the skeptic — one might argue, and rightly so — one verse a theology does not make — this is true.  Plenty more of the scripture would support my contention. But this very clear concise snap-shot from the life of Ezra remains compelling — at least to me… Perhaps others also?

The Mint

November 1, 2011 by

Contributed by Beth Seidler, wife of Chad Seidler, Director of Ministry at Image Church.

Multi-tasking is part of my DNA.  I can’t sit still very well for very long.  It drives my husband crazy.  Even when we are just watching TV or trying to relax, I have a basket of laundry in front of me.  I kind of have to be that way – I’m OCD – I work full-time, and we have two small kids.  This year for my birthday and Mother’s Day, I got a really cool present to help me with my multi-tasking (and my dislike for mopping).  It’s called “The Mint” – a genius little machine that mops my floor for me while I’m doing something else.  It even keeps track of where it’s been AND can navigate around things like furniture and rugs, etc.  All it needs to be able to operate is to “see” the signal that bounces off the ceiling from this little box (a form of GPS) you put somewhere in the room.  Just soak the cloth in cleaning solution, put it on “The Mint,” turn on the little box, and viola – come back in 30 minutes to a clean floor.

As I was turning on the little box for my magical self-cleaning machine the other night, I thought about how our lives should work like this little device I so love.  Just like my “Mint” can see the signal put off by the little box, others should be able to “see” that we get our direction from God’s Word – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105) – even when we are doing other things.

Our quiet time and Scripture memorization should be able to help us avoid the obstacles that generally hinder our work…just like how the “Mint” comes up against a roadblock, it backs up and goes another way, and then it remembers where the obstacles are so that it doesn’t travel that direction again.  Psalm 199:11-16 expounds on this…

11I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! 13With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

And when the day is done, wouldn’t it be great to look around us and know that everything we touched with God’s help was left a little better than it was before we were there?

Matthew 25:23 – 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”

I am a Prodigal

October 24, 2011 by

Contributed by Chad Seidler, Director of Ministry at Image Church

If you’ve attended one of our Gatherings at Image Church over the past 6 weeks or participate in one of our POD’s (Points Of Discipleship), you’re well aware that we have been studying Luke 15.  It’s a great chapter – Jesus tells a groups of sinners and “religious” people 3 stories about a lost sheep, a lost coin and two lost sons.  Since we just finished our series in our Gatherings, I thought it would be appropriate to share part of my story that I wrote for my friend Susie and her soon-to-be-published book.

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My story can be found in Luke 15.  You might be familiar with it – the story of the Prodigal Son.

“Prodigal” as an adjective is defined as recklessly extravagant; having spent everything.

I am a Prodigal Son.

Like the younger son in Luke 15, I came from a good family.  I have a solid Christian heritage – my Father and Grandfather were both pastors.  Christ and the Bible were central in our home.  I’m pretty sure I was at church within 5 days of being born.  If there were awards for perfect attendance at church and Christian school, I’d have a trophy case full of them.  Between church, grade school and college, I probably sat through at least 10,000 services, chapels, prayer groups and Bible classes.  I was spoon fed huge doses of the Bible, and I “knew” it from cover to cover.

A great heritage does not make a person…his choices do.

Like the younger son, I wanted what I thought was due to me now – I desired to live life on my own.  The moment I waved goodbye to my parents and was officially on my own, I felt like I was a kid in a candy store – so many choices to be made.  For the first time in my life, I had the freedom to do what I wanted and felt like I was accountable to no one for my actions.  I was recklessly extravagant.  My life began to spiral out of my control.  I was handcuffed by pornography and the false fantasies it created in my mind.  I was immoral in my relationships.  Common sense boundaries were shattered by my belief that I was in control.  My life was a total lie.  And not too soon after being out on my own, I squandered everything.  I made deplorable choices and quickly realized that I was no better than a muddy, rank pig.

Bad choices, no matter how deplorable, are forgiven only when you seek the Father.

Like the younger son, I had an epiphany – the consequences that come with owning-up to my sin must be better than continuing to live within that same sin.  I was sick of myself and who I had become.  I desired to repent and live a transparent life, no matter what consequences would ensue.  I didn’t care about the hit my career would take or if I would ever be relevant again – I simply needed my Dad again.  I released my pride; humbly and desperately I ran back, not knowing exactly what to expect.

When you release your pride, the door to forgiveness swings open.

Like the younger son, my Father lavished me with His love and forgiveness.  In fact, He was pursuing me all along.  I’m always in awe when I read about the father’s reaction to his son’s homecoming – “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)  I experienced that same reunion.  I came groveling for my Father’s forgiveness, but He interrupted my feeble pleas and showered me with His grace.  Without hesitation or condition, I was restored back into the family.  As King David had experienced for himself, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he [God] remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

Forgiveness opens the door to unimaginable restoration.

Like the younger son, despite my failures, my Father had great things in store for me.  When I ran back to my Dad, I just wanted to be a part of the family again.  I was convinced that what I had considered to be my “unpardonable sin” could in no way ever be fully forgiven; I was always going to be a second-class Christian.  But God is most glorified through the lives of broken people who repent and run to Him.  I love how Timothy Keller, author of “The Prodigal God,” describes what the Father had in store for the younger son…and me!

God’s love and forgiveness can pardon and restore any and every kind of sin or wrongdoing. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter if you’ve deliberately oppressed or even murdered people, or how much you’ve abused yourself. The younger brother knew that in his father’s house there was abundant “food to spare,” but he also discovered that there was grace to spare. There is no evil that the father’s love cannot pardon and cover, there is no sin that is a match for his grace. [This story] demonstrates the lavish prodigality of God’s grace. Jesus shows the father pouncing on his son in love not only before he has a chance to clean up his life and evidence a change of heart, but even before he can recite his repentance speech. Nothing, not even abject contrition, merits the favor of God. The Father’s love and acceptance are absolutely free. [1]

God still had a purpose for my life and desired to use me.  I am humbled by that every day.  I am 14 years into my restoration; it’s a process that will continue until I am face-to-face with my Father.  It’s not been easy over the years, and there have been many careless mistakes along the way, but I am always reminded of when I was in my own muddy pit and chose to run to my Dad.  He is faithful to forgive and restore.

Restoration by God is instant and unconditional…by man, it’s endless and conditional.

Like the younger brother, not everyone was happy for me or eager to accept God’s forgiveness on my life.  His older brother was bitter that his dad had freely forgiven and fully restored the Prodigal back into the family.  Prior to my restoration, I lived my life for others…not God.  I craved the attention and acceptance of everyone.  But when God pursued me and welcomed me back to the family, I immediately realized that the only acceptance that I need in this life is that of Christ’s.  My identity and security is in Him alone.  There are many people who have yet to forgive me and many that believe that God could never fully restore or use me.  But I don’t focus on that; that’s not my problem.  I am encouraged that God, for some odd reason, decided to use screw-ups and second-rates to make His name famous all throughout the Bible.  He still does so today!  I may be labeled and disdained by many around me, but I know with certainty that I am restored into God’s family.  God has great things ahead for me, and I humbly live that reality every day.

By no means is my life easy now; in most ways, it’s much more difficult.  But I know the promises of God’s Word, and I rest in them daily:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

“Prodigal” as a noun is defined as a person who leaves home and behaves in such a way, but later makes a repentant return.

I left home.  I behaved in such a way.  I made a repentant return.

I am a Prodigal.


[1] Keller, Timothy (2008). The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (p. 24). Riverhead. Kindle Edition.

For the Wives…

October 17, 2011 by

Contributed by Alex Shifflett, wife of our Worship Pastor, Brian Shifflett.

I’m a perfectionist in its purest form.  Not only that, but I’m a perfectionist that can only see perfection when things are done my way– the “perfect” way.  I’ve also acquired a somewhat domineering personality that I often write off as a “leadership quality.”  If something isn’t running smoothly, I can tell everyone involved what they need to do to most efficiently fix the problem.  As a newlywed, it has become my newest feat to make my marriage the perfect marriage, and not waste any time doing so.  In trying to achieve the perfect marriage, I’ve become a bit overbearing at home (sorry, Honey), constantly giving instruction to my husband on how he can do a better job.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!  While telling my husband how he can be better, I’ve completely neglected an entire half of our marriage– myself.

I began praying about a week ago that God would make me aware of all of the ways  I could improve as a wife, namely, that I would be extremely sensitive to Brian’s needs rather than my own.  Then, in God’s perfect timing, I left for a couple of days to attend meetings at my company’s corporate headquarters.  During the meetings, I was able to meet many of the higher-ups in the company, including my boss’ boss, Joe (who I found out later is a faithful Christian).  Over dinner one night, Joe reflected on his wife in great detail.  He showed us pictures of her and told us how beautiful she was.  He described her as an angel, as his gift from God.  I listened quietly as he went on, taken aback by his eagerness and joy to speak of his wife.  As beautiful as it was to hear a man speak of his wife in such a loving way, I couldn’t help but think of how my husband might describe me to others if he was being completely honest.  I was somber at the thought of it, because I knew I wasn’t the best wife that I could be, which is ironic because I expect Brian to be the most perfect husband.  This motivated me to read Scripture that would guide me in marriage.  The verses below moved me:

1Peter3:1-4 – In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News.  2 Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words, and they will be won over.  3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

All the husbands out there are thrilled with the first couple verses.  Yes, we are to submit to our husbands, even if our spiritual lives do not match up.  What is interesting about verse 2 is that our “Godly lives [should] speak to [our husbands] better than any words.”  Think about that for a moment, wives.  We can be patient, giving, and loving all day long.  We can be ‘godly’ women who read Scripture, pray, and serve others.  However, as soon as our husband walks through that door, that godly woman can disappear in an instant.  How dare our husbands not want to make dinner, or clean the dishes, or put the kids to sleep, or ask us how our day was.  How selfish!  Or maybe we should take a different look at it.  Perhaps we should keep that godly woman about us when it comes to our husband, seeing as how we do it for everyone else.  We should let our passion to live as God desires us to live speak louder than words. How could we truly be upset at our husband’s actions if we are truly being held accountable to our own?

Verse 4 hit me the hardest.  As I stated earlier, I’m a domineering leader who is outspoken and always right.  How on earth could this verse suggest that my inner self is a “gentle and quiet spirit”?  I had never considered that my “personality” was not how God had intended it to be, but perhaps it is the manifestation of too many years without Jesus.  It is clear in verse 4 that a gentle and quiet spirit is very important for a woman in marriage.  My take charge personality doesn’t allow God to intervene through Scripture or prayer, and it doesn’t allow my husband an opportunity to lead me so that I may follow.  What a  humbling thought: That I may have more work to do to than I ever imagined in order to have a perfect marriage in God’s sight, which will be much more fulfilling than having a “perfect” marriage according to my own plan.

Now, for all of you imperfect wives, I am going to challenge you to pray for your marriage in a way that you may not have prayed before.  Pray that God would reveal to you where He wants you to grow as a wife, and how you can be of a gentle and quiet spirit.  Let God work in you and through you.  Let Him be glorified through your unity.  Remember that when you think you’ve figured it all out, God will reveal more ways to shape you into the wife you ought to be, so long as you make yourself available to him.

The Former Blind Man

October 11, 2011 by

Contributed by Brian Shifflett, Worship Pastor at Image Church.

Since our church has been doing an in-depth study of Luke 15, my observations of just how self-righteous the religious leaders of Jesus’ day have intensified!  Take 5 minutes to read through John 9.  This is the story where Jesus literally causes a blind man to see.  There is much to be gained out of this passage, but since we have been talking about “elder brothers” recently, I want to focus in on verse 34: “They (the religious leaders) answered him, ‘You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?’ And they cast him out.”

For a second time, this man who was healed from his blindness is trying to tell the religious leaders that Jesus must be divine.  Now the man makes a pretty good point in verse 32-33 when he says, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  I’m totally tracking with this guy.  If I saw a man rub mud on another dude’s eyes and cure his blindness, I would think this man must be from God too!  But the religious leaders will not hear any of it.  Here is what convicted me from their response in verse 34:

If someone’s life has been transformed by Jesus, their story is worth listening to!

The religious leaders didn’t think they could learn anything from this man.  They even kicked him out of their place of worship.  They believed that their understanding of who God is, was much superior than this former blind man’s.  All the blind man believed was that Jesus changed his life, and he wanted everyone to know.  I encourage those of you who have a story about how Jesus changed your life to tell it!  I challenge those of us who think we know all there is to know about God to listen to those stories; that we might become more in awe at the miraculous work of Jesus.

Excuses

October 3, 2011 by

Contributed by Shannon White, wife of our Next Gen Pastor, Tim White.

My kids do not like cleaning up their messes.  They can always come up with some excuse for not doing it.  “I didn’t play with that.”  “But she got it out!”  “I’m too tired to clean up.”  The list goes on.

In the ladies Bible study, we talked about Moses.  Moses is famous for making excuses.  In Exodus 3 and 4 , God appears to Moses in the form of a burning bush.  He tells Moses that He has seen His people in Egypt and is going to deliver them.  Exodus 3:10 says,  “ Now go, for I am sending you to Pharoah.  You will lead my people, the Israelites, out of  Egypt.”  Moses then starts in with the excuses.   “Who am I?” “ They won’t believe me.” “ I’m not a good speaker.”  Then in chapter 4:13 it says, “But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please!  Send someone else.”

Moses came up with excuse after excuse of why he thought he couldn’t  do it.  Moses was right.  He couldn’t do it on his own.  This wasn’t about him though…this was what God was going to do.  God just chose to use Moses to be part of it.

As I think about Moses, I realize how much I am like him.  There are times when I know God wants me to do something, and I fight it like crazy.  I can come up with so many excuses to  rationalize why I shouldn’t do it.  “Someone else can do so much better.”  “I don’t have the time.  I have four kids to take care of.”    Matthew 22:37-38 says, “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.’”  God wants me to love Him with all that I have.  If I am loving Him that way, I will be willing to do whatever He asks of me.  When God wants to use me to do something, I just need to trust Him and obey.  He will accomplish it through little old me.  It would be sad to miss out on what God is doing and the opportunity to grow closer to Him because of too many excuses.

Living to the Fullness of God’s Will

September 28, 2011 by

Contributed by Tim White, Next Gen Pastor of Image Church

The last few weeks, I have been praying over and studying through the book of Colossians, as I prepare a winter series for our youth in Impact.  The series will lead our youth through the book of Colossians, which I believe will help our students to see who Christ is, what He has done, and how our lives are transformed to His likeness.  There is a lot to learn from Paul’s letter to the church of Colossae, and as I have been studying through it, I have been hit with a lot.  But in the end of his letter, Paul says a couple of things that have struck me the most:

Colossians 4: 12, 17  12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.  17And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

Paul writes two things to the church in Colossae that stand true today for God’s church all around the world.  (1)  As Epaphras prayed for others, we also should be praying for others – not just praying to pray for them, but to be praying that they would stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.  (2)  As mentioned for Archippus to fulfill the ministry that he had received in the Lord, we also should be striving to fulfill the ministry that we have received in the Lord.

God’s will is simple in the fact that He calls His church to, “Not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)   To know God’s will and to be able to live that out to its fullness, the church, those God has called out of the world, must no longer live for the world or as those of the world live.  We are to live transformed lives from the ones we ones we previously lived.  We can only be transformed by the renewal of our minds, which only comes by seeking after the One who saves and gives life.  No one can live to the fullness of God’s will or even know what that is if they are not seeking after God, spending time with Him both in prayer and His Word.  When God reveals to you His will, you are to obediently follow it, for it is good, acceptable, and perfect. God’s will for all of His people is that they live out all that He has planned out for them.

In all that I do in striving to live for Jesus, I have realized that my end goal should be to reach the fulfillment of the will that I have received from God.  It is my desire that I live obedient to God’s will and that all who God places in my life realize the truth of the Gospel and live to the fulfillment of God’s will as well.  I look forward to seeing what God will do in the lives of our students and the leaders of Impact, as we go through this year focused on transformation and living transformed lives to the fullness of His will.

YOUR Way…Not Mine

September 22, 2011 by

Contributed by Krista Rhodenhizer, wife of our Lead Pastor, Chris Rhodenhizer.

New York City.  Rush Hour.  Times Square.  How can you be in literally the craziest, most visible place in the country and be lost?  I will tell you how……. STUPID G.P.S.!  Yes, I said “stupid.”  Don’t tell my kids.

My close friends and family all know that I have serious issues with G.P.S.  “What if the roads have changed?”, I ask…. “What if it freaks out?” …. “What if we can’t get satellite signal?” BINGO!  It was in this moment, surrounded by a bunch of angry jaywalkers, flashing lights and cab drivers with a death wish, that I had absolutely NO idea which way to turn, because I was depending on a lady with an irritatingly calm voice who kept informing me that she was “recalculating……..recalculating….”  I was freaking out.  I am still apologizing to this day to my sweet friend who was with me.  That poor girl bore the brunt of my frustration that day.

Being a control freak, I like to have my way planned, and I like to decide which way I will go.  I want to look at a map and know “You Are Here,” so I can plan any alternate route or at least know which direction I am headed.  I do not like being out of control, and I HATE having to wait, let alone patiently wait.  Are you noticing all of the “I”s involved in my life?

I have so many aspirations of what I want to do “when I grow up.”  I always wanted to be a mommy.  God blessed me above what we could have imagined, and I have four amazing children.  So, now that my babies are off to school, I have, somewhat impatiently, told God that it’s time for me to make good on some of my “plans.”  Yeah, you can see how this is going to go…… “Wait.”  WHAT?  I am not sure I understand.  I have these plans because they are right for my family.  These plans are right for my ministry.  They are so I can serve YOU, Father!  This is not one of those stories where I tell you the end, and I was waiting for something so amazing and surprising that you will walk away inspired.  I am still frustrated.  I am still chomping at the bit.  I KNOW what I want.  Yet, I wait.

I am working through “Experiencing God” with the I-Chicks Bible Study on Wednesday mornings.  Last week, this verse that I have read literally thousands of times, knocked me on my tail.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

Conviction has been wearing away at me.  God promises in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance all that Jesus has said.  He was (and still is) doing just that.  I have no amazing new advice to give on what “God’s plan” is for my life or yours, but I DO know and believe His promises.  IF I remain in the Vine, daily surrendering, reading and meditating on His Word and seeking Him in prayer, He promises to remain in me and to produce fruit.  Apart from Him – apart from ABIDING in Him – I can do nothing.  Enough said.

My control issues, my need to plan my steps, my need to plan my DESTINATION, leads me nowhere.  Nowhere.  If I am daily plugged in to Him, He will daily center me in His will and produce fruit.  He will place me, in His timing, where He desires for me to be.  And I believe that at that time, I will already be just one step away from that destination, without even realizing where I am.  He doesn’t need to show me the map.  He IS the map.