Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Family: The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree!

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I was riding my bike home from a mentoring meeting the other day and had a moment that triggered a thought!  Let me give you the setting, the moment, and a challenge.
The setting:
I was on 40th Street, having just left the University Starbucks.  My mentoring meeting had gone very well.  I was excited by the conversation we had.  The young man I was meeting had shared his hearts desire of being a good husband, father, and child of God.  He had shared deeply about his father, himself, and his son.  His desire to be a good and godly father excited my soul.  I can already see the parents passion for Christ at work in their child.
The moment:
As I was riding, and thinking about the meeting I had just left... I noticed two young men walking toward me.  They were about 12 years old.  The one on the left caught my attention.  He had on dirty jeans, old sneakers, and a trashy looking tee-shirt.  He had a cigarette in his mouth, and an angry look on his face.  What grabbed me was his eyes.  They were filled with hate, anger, fear, and conflict.  As I smiled at him, he glared at me!  I smiled back harder, and sent out a happy "Hello."  All I got in response was a grunt.  And then came my thought!
What family did this young man come from?  What were his father, grandfather, and uncles like?  Did they take him fishing, boating, swimming, or bike riding?  Did they do family vacations?  Did they go to church, or Life Group?  Did they hold him at night, say their prayers, and tell him the great plans God had for him?  Did his parents coach him at soccer, cheer for him at Little League, and faithfully attend every back to school night?  Did they tell him they loved him every single day of his life?  If the eyes are truly the window of the soul then the answer to these questions was no!
There are entirely too many young people like the one I saw wandering the streets of San Bernardino looking for trouble.  We need to grab these kids, wrap our loving arms around them, and bring them into our Life Groups.  We must be the family they do not have.  We must pray the prayers and give the hugs that they do not now receive.  We must plant the word of God and the love of worship in their hearts.  We must show them a safe and happy place that gives their entire life a new point of reference.  We must tell them they are loved!  By the grace of God, and with His strength, we can do this!
I love you all,

Dad's Disobedient Dog by Linden Malki

When I was growing up, we had a beagle. She came wandering hungrily into our camping spot one summer when we were in western Montana trout fishing, miles from anywhere, and we figured she must have been left by someone who had stopped by the side of the highway, probably to give her a rest stop, and she had run off and they had had to leave. She was very cute, very friendly,smart, and could sit up and beg like a pro. She had one major problem--she obeyed on her own terms. We brought her home and she was a reasonably good dog by her own definition. She knew she was restricted in the house to the kitchen, on the linoleum. I found her one evening almost entirely in the dining room--with one rear paw stretched back to have one toe on the kitchen floor.
How often are we like that? The basic thing we are called to do is obey, and we sometimes stretch it as far as we can reach back to home base. One problem with that is that we don't have the freedom we could have with willing obedience. When Spokane enacted a leash law as a rabies quarantine measure, Flopsy hated it. When she was able to slip out of the back yard, she didn't come back by herself; usually we got a call from animal control that she had been caught begging somewhere. Finally it got to where she wouldn't come home at all. She would occasionally see Dad somewhere in town, and she would come up to the car and jump in and be all friendly--until he pulled up to our driveway. She apparently thought of herself as Dad's dog, and she was all for the petting and dog food plan--until obedience was required.
We can spend all sorts of effort struggling with the fences designed to keep us on track instead of trusting that God knows what He is doing. But we miss out on what God could do with us if we obediently commit to what He has called us to do.

Linden Malki

Saturday, May 26, 2012


DON’T BE MISLED     2 PETER 2:4-10     5/26/2012

Welcome:  Spend a few minutes having a snack, meeting new people, and connecting with those in your Life Group.  Unplug from the week and prepare to engage!

Worship:  Connect with God through songs, prayers, and creative arts.  Invite the Holy Spirit to move and minister in your group!  Be open to God’s leading and presence!  Enjoy this time with God and one another.

Word:             “God is love so I can do what I want.”  “God is kind, so He will never really punish me.”  Some Christians have taken the love verses in the Bible and used them to draw wrong conclusions about God.  At a Christian conference, some years ago, the leader of an international Christian television program explained how they edited out the negative portions of scripture so that only the positive declarations went out to encourage the people on Sunday morning.  That is a great attendance builder, It is not the Christian thing to do.  We must hear the entire message of God.  Anything less puts both the audience and the messenger in peril!

1.         Have you ever eaten a recipe where somebody left out an ingredient?  How was it?


2.         Read 2 Peter 2:4a, 5a, 6a.  Do you see a pattern in the verses?  What key words describe what is going on?


3.         What key concepts do you find in 2 Peter 2:5b, 7.  What is the key word used of both Noah and Lot?


4.         2 Peter 2:9 gives us a very stark contrast.  What is it?

5.         If the righteous will be saved and the unrighteous will face judgment then we need to know how to be righteous!  God gives us the answer in Romans 3:21-26.  What is the key to being saved?  What must we do for God to see us as righteous?



6.         The ABC’s are a great way to remember and to share this message of salvation.

ADMIT YOU’RE A SINNER                     Romans 3:23 (NLT)
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,

7 And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead’ (to bring Christ back to life again).”   8 In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.   10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

7.         Take a minute in your Life Group to give people a chance to respond to God’s invitation.  Is there someone who has come to the point where they are ready to Admit their a sinner, Believe Christ died for them, and Confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is their Lord?  If God has brought you to this moment, don’t miss it!


Witness:          Reflect upon 1 Peter 3:15 (MSG) as you pray for your OIKOS!
15 Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ,
your Master.  Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Family: Our First Ministry

One of the saddest statements I ever heard as a youth pastor was when a young man in the youth group said the following to me: "I know you all think my dad (a deacon in the church) is a really good guy and really spiritual, but you guys don't know what he is really like!"

This one statement broke my heart. I can name countless children of pastors and ministry leaders that have left the church and want nothing to do with God, many of whom are that way because dad spent a lot of time ministering to the church, but missed his family.

1 Timothy 3:4-5 (NLT)
[Elders] He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.
5 For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

Our first area of responsibility is our families. If I am teaching all of the world about Christ yet miss my kids and my wife, I have missed my target. Family is sometimes the hardest to minister to, because they see us at our best and our worst, but we still need to do it.

There are nights where I just want to crawl in to bed and go to sleep, and sadly sometimes I do. But we are trying to develop a habit with our family of reading scripture, memorizing scripture and praying before bed. How about you, do you pray with your family, do you read scripture together, what keeps you from doing this?

I pray that my children will never say of me, what I have heard many children say of their parents. I pray that I am same at home, on the road, and at church.

Does your family know they are your first priority in ministry?

Pastor Chris


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Families: The Challenge To Do It Right

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.This is how Leo Tolstoy began his major novel, Anna Karenina. It's easy to find people bewailing the state of the modern family. We look around and everywhere we look, we see unhappy families with their own disaster areas. Some of them look OK on the surface but have rot underneath; some flaunt their messy drama in public.
But this is nothing new. Some years ago I was putting together a Father's Day lesson for an adult class. As I looked for Biblical examples of fathers, I was surprised to realize that practically every family we see described in the Old Testament was flawed, some massively so. Even giants of the faith had messy families. God asks a whole lot of us!
He gives us an assignment that is basically impossible for us in our own strength. Even Abraham and Sarah made a lapse in faith of which the fallout is still with us, when they tried to "help" fulfill the prophecy of an heir. David, the "man after God's own heart" had sons who were literally mortal enemies, one of which rebelled agains his father. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, turned his back on the true God and produced a son who was world-class historically stupid, and lost the larger part of his father's kingdom.

Poet Robert Frost defined "home" as "the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." The question is: when they open the door, are they smiling? And is it a genuine smile? I grew up with relatives showing up at the front door, often without warning, assuming they would be welcome--and they were. Family vacations were usually built around driving distances between relatives. I'm not quite sure how best to define "happy family", but I think it's one of those things that you recognize when you see it. My own family was not perfect, but good enough that my brothers and I stayed out of major trouble and in touch, and in turn raised kids who are friends as well as cousins. At a major family reunion several years ago, some of the more distant cousins found it odd that my grandfather's descendants were almost all still active in churches. I suspect that that is a key reason that we are happy as families and an extended family. One incredible blessing I am looking forward to this summer is a trip to Finland with my son and the Lambert family (who are cousins of mine), to touch base with the original homes of my mom's parents and Mark's grandparents, who came from the same part of Finland. I am looking forward to this experience with folks with whom I not only share an ancestral culture and family, but a family heritage of faith.

Family - Frank P Zummo Jr.

I went to a funeral today.  Not my favorite thing to do, but necessary.  My very good friend Gary lost his dad.  His name was Felipe. I had only met his dad once but knew of him and heard great stories about him all the time.  As I sat in the back row of the sanctuary, waiting for the service to begin, I focused my attention on the two large screens up front which were streaming a slide show of Felipe’s life.  The screens showed Felipe with tons of different family members, in tons of different places, in every picture!  Wow, I thought, “I didn’t realize how big Gary’s family actually was.”  And then I looked around the room which was packed full of the same people that I had been watching on the screens! 
It is often said that families only gather for weddings and funerals, which sadly, is often the case.  But not this family!   Felipe made sure that his family was around himself and each other for more than just “major events”.  Family members shared touching stories about their dad, grandpa, uncle and friend, including a handwritten note by a granddaughter that was read by her dad.  When the note was finished, (and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place), it was clear that Gary’s dad was close to everyone in the family from the oldest to the youngest.
A lot of people think of their family members as giant pains or huge inconveniences that they would rather not be around if they had their choice.  And sadly, I think that happens in the family of God.  “Let’s skip life group tonight, those people are nuts”. “I’m tired of seeing the same people week in and week out”.  Have you ever heard that?  Have you ever said that?  When we say those things or at least think those things, it proves that we don’t get it.  God wants us to surround ourselves with our families so that we can laugh together, play together, eat together, cook together, cry together, learn together, pray together………………be a family together!  Gary’s dad understood the importance of family and I saw it today at his funeral.  Felipe got it!  How bout you???

Frank P. Zummo

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Forward: One Foot in Front of the Other

A couple of years ago my brother in law had the brilliant idea to climb half dome, in Yosemite valley. We were there on a family vacation and he thought it would be fun. So one morning at 5am my dad, Jeremy and I set out on this journey. We were doing great, before we knew it we had reached the top of vernal falls, and then Nevada falls. At this point in the journey we hit new territory for me. The walk through little Yosemite valley was beautiful, it is now probably my favorite place in Yosemite. Then we hit the switchbacks. I was exhausted we were about 5 miles in with 3 to go. I remember thinking, "one foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other." After a long hard climb, we made it. As I sat at the top, a scary thought crossed my mind. "I have just given my all to get up here, I am wiped out, and now I have to hike the 8 miles back to camp, somebody call the helicopter."

My own experiences with discipleship can be a lot like this hike. Someone encourages me to go farther and longer with God than I ever have before. I start out strong, working hard, moving quick. I see new things I have never seen before. Eventually I begin to get weary. Now comes the choice. Do I quit here and go home, or do I just keep going, "one foot in front of the other."

Sadly I have seen many Christians quit when they get weary, and they never get to see the view from the top. But again it does not end at the top, we must keep going. Now it is time to hike back to the bottom, grab a friend and do it all over again!

How is your discipleship journey, do you sprint and quit, or are you in it for the long haul?

God Bless,
Pastor Chris

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Looking Forward--Letting Him In and Letting Him Out, by Linden Malki

Think about the heart: blood comes in, blood is pumped out. If it doesn't get in, it can't get out. If the output valve or artery is blocked, fresh blood can't get in. Either way--you're dead.(This metaphor came out of a discussion with a lady from one of our groups--and she said she'd watch for it on my blog.) This is the way we are physically designed. Not only does the heart beat but our lungs suck in fresh air and let out stale air. We eat so that we may expend energy. Our very lives depend on each heartbeat, each breath and each meal.

We are created this way on a lifetime scale as well. First, we drink in God's love, and begin learning the basic stories, concepts and principles. Then we work on digesting it, fitting it all together; what does it mean? Sometimes this stage is challenging for people around us as we ask tough questions and express theories. Sometimes we get stuck. If we are honest with ourselves and open to God, we will come out in a place where our will truly and willingly lines up with God's will for us. Then what God has done in us will overflow through love, service, obedience and the use of our spiritual gifts.
This week we are talking about mothers and others who have been at our sides as we grow physically and spiritually, in grace and wisdom. Families were designed by God to provide nurturing and discipleship, even though we don't always live up to the design. Communities of all kinds are provided, at best to also support and help us grow. Celebration gives us the opportunity to praise God and share in worship and teaching. Life Groups bring us to together as a spiritual family to encourage and care for each other. Mentors point us to God's design for our lives. Spiritual maturity is not a do-in-yourself project; it is a process in which we are challenged, taught, guided and supported by others along side of us on the same journey. We have as a guide the Holy Spirit, and the presence of Jesus with us. And we will never get to the end on this earth; because we were not created for this world, but for the presence of God. We are made to grow toward the Kingdom of God and away from anything that is not fit for His presence.
God fills us and we are called to absorb it and turn it into an outgoing spiritual gift. We are not called to simply drink it in and do nothing; He can only give us more of Himself as we let Him out into our world.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Life Notes: Thank You, Mothers Day - Pastor Paul Reinhard

THANK YOU!     MOTHERS DAY     5/13/2012

Worship:  Connect with God through songs, prayers, and creative arts.  Invite the Holy Spirit to move and minister in your group!  Be open to God’s leading and presence!  Enjoy this time with God and one another.

Word:             On Sunday, we said Thank You to the women in our lives seven different times for seven different things.  Today we are going to revisit these areas and open up the discussion to all.  We are going to ask how mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, pastors, shepherds, coaches, and interns can do these seven things better as we love and serve our OIKOS!  Doing these things will help us make a profound difference in the lives of those around us!

1.         Can you think of a verse special thing that somebody has ever done for you?          How did this special something make you fell and how did it affect your life?


2.         As we consider our areas of Thank You ask these two questions:
            Why is this important?  How can I do it better with those in my OIKOS?

A.        How can we help our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, Life Group children and others to grow spiritually?  Think about practical and specific things that you can do to help nurture spiritual growth.      2 Timothy 1:5


B.        How have people not related to you helped you?  Are there young people in your OIKOS that you can adopt spiritually?  Who has God given you?  How can you love them and help them in practical ways?  Romans 16:13


C.        Is your home a safe place?  Do you provide an environment of love and welcome where people can come and experience the grace of God?  What steps can you take to create a sanctuary for those needing rest?  Acts 12:12

D.        The story of the wedding at Cana is one of my favorites.  I always get a kick out of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Jesus essentially tells his mom that fixing the problem at hand is none of His business.  Mom thinks otherwise.  Over Jesus objection, she tells the servants to do whatever her son says.  When you read verse 11 it forces you to ask the question… Did Mary push her baby bird out of the nest?  How can we help those in our OIKOS to move to the next level of life?        John 2:1-5 & 11



E.         Sometimes God calls us to get our hands dirty!  I have been pooped on, peed on, thrown up on, bled on, and snoted on.  I have been hit, threatened, and maligned.   I have visited jails, bars, sat with the dying, and been the one to tell a parent that the teenager they love so much has just been shot and killed!  Sometimes God taps us to be His representative in terrible  situations.  How do we handle these times?       Mark 16:1



F.         Everybody needs a cheerleader!  Everybody needs somebody to believe in him or her!  Everybody needs somebody to believe they are the best and the brightest!  How can we better encourage, support, and believe in those around us?  Is there somebody specific that God would have you invest in and champion?  How?                Mathew 20:20



Witness:          In a national research project, Dr. Thom Reiner concluded that 96% of the unchurched are “at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited.”  However, “only 2% of active churchgoers invite an unchurched person to church over the course of a given year.”  [8 to 15  P. 40]  Think about the possibility.  If you take the risk of faith and invite somebody to church… they just might come!           Acts 1:8 (NLT)    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Outward: Solid As A Rock

By Michael White

Man...if anyone could make Moses look was Chuck Heston!  I mean look at the picture and tell me he doesn't look hard core!  What an epic moment too!

I love the movie "The Ten Commandments" starring Charlton Heston.  I watched it every year when I was a kid.  I didn't grow up in a Christian home, but for some reason, I loved these kinds of movies.

I used to watch the movie and pretend I was Moses with hands raised...the fate of a nation hanging in the balance of my own strength!

Interestingly enough, now as a husband and father, I actually feel like the fate of my family hangs in the balance of my strength.  While there is truth in the need for me to provide for my family, the idea that their livelihood solely hangs on my strength is a bit arrogant and self-important.

Some time ago, the Lord led me back through Exodus 17 which is the passage about the nation of Israel coming under attack of the Amalekites.  In verses 10-13, we read about the epic moment that Chuck Heston portrays with such intensity!  It's that moment when Moses needed to keep his hands lifted toward the Lord in order for the battle to be won.  As he grew tired, the battle swayed into enemy hands.  So, Aaron and Hur came along side him, held up his arms, and the battle was won!

Yet, as I read the passage again, the Lord drew my attention to a portion of the story never preached.  Verse 12 says, "When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it"  While Aaron and Hur get the glory for helping Moses, the rock did as much for his rest as the other guys.  Nobody ever gives credit to the rock!

Many of us crave to be Moses, the one most responsible, or maybe the most visible.  Others may prefer to be Aaron or Hur, the supporters, but who at least get some screen time.  Yet, I have never met anyone who wants to be the rock, the overlooked, often forgotten contributor to the moment.

Over the past 2 years, God has taught me the importance of merely being the rock.  Being the quiet, unnoticed source of strength and support.  

We often wonder if we have the strength to be the "Moses".  But the real question is, do you have the strength lay to yourself down and just be someone else's rock? No acknowledgement...nothing in return...just simply a quiet, unassuming source of strength and support!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Outward: The Circles Widen

I remember when I was in the Army and all I had to think about was me.  Saturday morning I would rise when I was ready, eat when I was hungry, and go wherever the day took me.  When I was tired I went to bed, and if I was bored I would call a friend.

Then I left the Army and met Karen.  Suddenly we decided when to get up and go to bed.  Saturdays we decided where to go and what to do.  Chick flicks were now on the movie going agenda.  The budget included rent, utilities, and insurance.  And I didn't need to make my bunk all by myself!

Along came Chris.  Suddenly he defined when we got up and when we slept.  Or if we slept.  He defined which Disney film we were going to watch, and what kind of food we were going to eat.  Saturdays were no longer mine.  They were ours.  But I laughed, and cuddled, and wrestled, and played in ways a single soldier never could.

Jennifer added a new dimension.  Now there was little boy things, and little girl things.  The kids swam, played golf, played soccer, and filled our home with joy, laughter, and their friends.  Watching them grow and become was, and is, the greatest joy of Karen's and my life!!!

Jennifer and Chris added Shannon and Jeremy to the family.  Now six people made decisions about where we were going on vacation and what restaurant we would go eat at.  Six people and their luggage filled the car.  Christmas and Thanksgiving grew, birthdays grew, Mother's Day and Father's Day became more complicated.  Suddenly we were sharing our children with three other schedules and groups of people.  But a pride began to fill our hearts about what our family was doing, and who they were becoming.  We watched as our children began to send a ministry ripple of their own out into the world.

Along came Zoe, Hannah, and Luke.  Each one was a super blessing but now we take two or three cars on vacation.  Nine plus Nate and Birget fill our dining room table.  Christmas looks like an explosion at a Target store.  Dinner now includes vegetables and salad for everybody on a diet and mac and cheese for those who are not.  When the kids sleep over and they climb up into my lap for a bedtime story my eyes fill with tears and my heart pounds in my chest.  My cup is full and I don't know how it could get any better.  I would not trade these little treasures for anything in the world.

Life Group meets on Wednesday night and adds another dimension of OIKOS.  Sunday morning adds a hundred more.  Now we have a medical group, a mechanic, an accountant, and a dentist.  There is the checker at Staters we talk to and the waitress we invite to church.  Our kids joke that we can't go anywhere without getting into a conversation with someone.  Each one of these precious people has a story, an OIKOS, a spiritual journey.  When I see what God is doing in the lives of those He is using I am blessed and humbled to be in the mix.  I see the circles growing, spreading, and bearing Kingdom fruit.

Gone are the days when my life consisted of budgeting $326.10 each month.  Making my bunk.  Straightening my clothes, washing my VW Bug, and deciding when, or if, to get up on Saturday morning.  But when I think of all the rich, wonderful, blessed people that God has brought into my life I could never go back.  It is busier, messier, and harder yet more gloriously wonderful than anything I could have imagined!

The older we get the larger our circle grows.  God designed us to handle more people, relationships, and responsibilities at each stage of life.  As Christians, we have the privilege of inviting people to join God's family and enter our OIKOS.

If there was only me, I would have no idea what to do!  Life would be dull without the coming, going, and growing.  If I did  not have my parents above me, wife beside me, church around me, children behind me, and grandkids in tow I would not know what to do, or where to go.  So I praise God for my OIKOS, even on the craziest of days.  I know that God wants my heart and home to be open to all whom He chooses to send.  Because some people are still floating on their own, and they haven't begun to grow and build their circles.  They need to plug in, and learn how.

I don't know what season of life you are in.  But whatever it is, and wherever you are, God will give you the grace, strength, and wisdom to welcome those whom He brings to you.  Rejoice in your growing circle, and rest in God's provision.  Even on the craziest of days!

I love you,
[Pastor, Poppie, Paul]

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Outward: Blinders - Pastor Chris Reinhard

If I don't make eye contact with the guy at the gas station, maybe he won't ask me for money! If I walk by the signature gatherer in front of the grocery store fast enough, maybe they won't bug me! If I walk through the mall with intention and keep turned the other way, maybe the cell phone salesman will leave me alone! If I keep my head down when I get home from work and quickly walk from the driveway to the house maybe the neighbor won't come over and bug me about my yard! 

Do you ever want to just put the blinders on and go about your day? Maybe I am the only one who has ever had these thoughts, but I doubt it. We are so inundated with needs, wants, concerns and criticism that our natural protective reaction is to shut them out. On the other hand what are we missing out on when we do that. I am not saying that we have to let everyone in, but we may want to take off our blinders and look around a little more. 

On the way out of our condo the other day Shannon, being friendly, said "good morning" to our neighbor, a young lady that lives next door. This opened the door for the young lady to ask a question: "what do you guys do here on Wednesday nights, I always hear singing?"

Well, Wednesday nights is our life group. What an amazing opportunity for Shannon to share with her. Over the last week the neighbor has been over to our house a couple of times. Shannon helped her with a ride to school, and she wants to join us on Wednesday and bring a friend. 

All of this because Shannon took a moment, looked up, and said "Good Morning." This is not the first time she said Good Morning, but it turned out to be the right time. 

Lift your head up, remove the blinders, see who is around you and share God's Love with someone!

God Bless,
Pastor Chris


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Looking Outward:Sharing Light by Linden Malki

I went to a small Christian college that had women's dorms with closing hours.One year there was this guy who would hang around in the bushes near the front door of a dorm just before closing, and as people were coming up the walk, he would jump out, shine a flashlight in someone's face, and ask "Are you saved?"  I'm sure he thought he was sharing light, but it was not an effective method of evangelism! Yes, we are supposed to tell the story; in fact, we who know Jesus were told by someone who told someone, who told by someone. going back to the original witnesses of Jesus' earthly life, death and resurrection. Look at Jesus' final instructions: " will BE my witnesses..".(Acts 1) He didn't talk about what to do, but rather what we ARE. St Frances of Assisi, whose life in the context of radically following Jesus is remembered eight hundred years later, said "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." The world sees our lives before it listens to what we say. Again, we cannot separate the love and knowledge of God in our lives from our love for the people we touch.
We are each called to reach out in different ways to different people. Jesus told his followers to be witnesses in Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the world. We as a church support people who are called to Kazakhstan and Africa with our finances and our prayers. We as individuals are called to San Bernardino, or Highland, or whatever our own Jerusalem and Judea are. My own calling seems to be on Ninth Street, where God sends people, usually people who already know Him, who have something on their hearts to talk about and pray about. Some of them are long-time prayer partners, yesterday, one was a long-time customer who came by not to buy anything, but to see how I was doing, and we shared what God was doing in our lives--and I had not realized before that he was a Christian. When Peter challenges us to "be ready to answer when you are asked about the hope that is within you", this assumes that someone is seeing this Hope in our lives. We are like candles--we have to have Light first, and then we can share light with someone who does not have it, and strengthen the light of those who do.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Life Notes: False Teachers - Pastor Paul Reinhard

FALSE TEACHERS     2 PETER 2:1-3     5/6/2012

Worship:  Connect with God through songs, prayers, and creative arts.  Invite the Holy Spirit to move and minister in your group!  Be open to God’s leading and presence!  Enjoy this time with God and one another.

Word:             In 2 Peter 2 the Apostle Peter puts on the gloves and comes out swinging.  He is deeply concerned for the purity of the gospel, and keenly aware that false teachers will arise to pervert the truth for which he is preparing to give his life.  For several Sunday’s we are going to look at the dire warnings Peter gives us if we stray from the truth.  Today we are going to look at an ancient pattern for staying on the right track!  Enjoy!

1.         Have you ever heard and believed a story, which turned out to be totally false?

2.         The Book of Ezra describes how he led a group of Judean exiles living in Babylon to their home city of Jerusalem (Ezra 8.2-14) where he enforced observance of the Torah and cleansed the community of mixed marriages.[2][3]  Ezra, known as "Ezra the scribe" in Chazalic literature,[4] is a highly respected figure in Judaism.[5]         [Ezra Wikipedia]
A.        Read Ezra 7:1-10.  What declaration is made concerning Ezra in verses 8-9?
B.        Ezra 7:10 gives us the reason why God was with Ezra.  Write down the three         things that Ezra did in 7:10.  Carefully consider the order they are in! 
            What   lesson can we learn and apply to our own lives?
            1.         ____________________________________________________________
            2.         ____________________________________________________________
            3,         ____________________________________________________________
3.         Read Matthew 7:24-27.  Jesus tells us a story about two people.  How are the two             people the same?  How are they different?  How does each story end? 
A.        Which parts of the Lord’s story do you identify with?  Which man was Ezra?
B.        Is there a change you need to make?
4.         This is the second Bible verse I ever memorized.  I learned it in the King James thirty-five years ago.  I have never forgotten it.  Read it aloud from each translation.  I pray that God will plant this verse deep in your soul and that it will explode in your heart!
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does
not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval.
Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed
and who correctly explains the word of truth.

Witness:          Reflect upon 1 Peter 3:15 (MSG) as you pray for your OIKOS!
15 Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ,
your Master.  Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

By Michael White

When I was a child, I loved watching superhero cartoons!  I must confess that I was a Green Lantern fan...mostly because he was different and not as mainstream as Superman. Another reason I loved the Green Lantern was because the person changed from generation to generation. Whomever held the position of Green Lantern wore the ring of power and served as the current protector of the universe! Unlike the other superheroes, the Green Lantern title passed from generation to generation. How cool is that?

I was always fascinated by the diversity of the supers! They each came from such distant and diverse places.  They all had their own unique look and special powers. Yet, in spite of the differences, they came together to champion the greater good and defeat evil!

That sounds an awful lot like our church family! So diverse, such different backgrounds, unique in our looks and spiritual gifts...yet one common purpose...championing the greater good and defeating evil!

When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a superhero.  I wanted to be the one to save the world.  I also wanted to have cool powers.  Now that I'm an adult, my desires to save the world haven't changed...only the costume that comes with the job.  Our church family may look like a bunch of "Clark Kent's" but I see a bunch of super heroes!

Embrace your inner "superhero"! Wow the world with your "super powers"...those spiritual gifts God gave you! Stand with your chest swelled, shoulders back, and poised to strike! And like the Green Lantern, steward the responsibility given to you today but be sure to pass on your powers to the next generation.  And instead of wearing a symbol on our chest...let's point people to the Cross of the One who has the greatest power of all!

Be blessed and don't forget to smile!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Image Detail

The older I get the more I realize how lucky I was as a child.  I was surrounded by a family that was uniquely committed to one another.  My parents, grandparents, great grandparents, aunt, great aunt and great uncle gathered for every birthday, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.  My family loved being together, and they loved one another.

But when you sat at a dinner table the debate was on.  People argued about unions, budgets, mayors, governors, presidents, and what somebody was wearing.  I don't remember how old I was when I discovered that America had Republicans, and Democrats.  I grew up believing they were the damn Democrats and the damn Republicans.

No matter how passionate the debate, or how pointed the argument... we were always family.  I grew up with the absolute knowledge that everybody in the family would offer me an opinion if they disagreed with something I was doing.  They hated my long hair, pot smoking, beer drinking, and rotten grades.  My family let me know how they felt.  But I was still a member of the family.

The same should be true in the church family.  We should be so committed to one another that nothing can separate us from the love of the family, or the thoughts of the family.  Speaking truth, ruffling feathers, growing up, and staying connected are all part of family life.  It is true for our birth family, and our church family.

As we move INWARD with one another in our Life Groups and Mentoring we would do well to remember the words of St. Paul in Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

See you Sunday,

Inward: Loving The Different - Pastor Chris Reinhard

Luke 10
3But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him... 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

At the Catalyst convention last week Dave Gibbons was talking about us loving others. He used the story of the good Samaritan as an example, and said, "we need to love those that are unlike us". It was one of those lines in a sermon that just slip on by in a moment of time, but impact us far beyond that. 

It is easier to love those that are like us. Those that are within our Oikos. The old saying "birds of a feather, flock together," applies to Christians as well. This speaker challenged me to look in my life and see who I am loving that is unlike me. In fact if we take it to extreme that Jesus did, it would be the person that is the polar opposite of me.

How about you, do you only love those that are like you? Or are you willing to love the different?

Pastor Chris


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Looking Inward: Loving as God Loves - Linden Malki

Loving those around us sounds easy, but gets complicated because we aren't perfect. We can hurt each other, and annoy each other very easily, often because we think it doesn't matter--they love us anyway. I keep running across Scriptures and Christian writers who stress that Godly love does enable us to love in spite of the hurts and hangups that are part of living life together. But what does it really mean to love like God? Too often we think of it as being longsuffering; overlooking things, tolerating things. And we are grateful that God puts up with us, such as we are. But look at the other side. God doesn't let us off the hook on His standards. He doesn't say it's OK to be mushy and tolerant of sin and irresponsibility.He isn't. I know too many families who think that "being there for their kids" means not upholding standards and values. I recall a bratty small cousin who dictated what and when he ate (I once saw his mom run to the store when he changed his mind in the middle of dinner); but when he developed diabetes his mom had to take control, and he became a much nicer kid to have around. God knows that we need to learn to live as responsible, mature adults, and sometimes He allows us to learn stuff the hard way. On our own, we can't love our friends and family as God does; we need His wisdom and His strength to say and do what needs to be done, gently, prayerfully, and firmly with love.
Last year, when our Life Groups began praying for our Blessing Lists, I had a dream or vision of a Narnia-type scene, with a lot of people, many of whom I recognized, but they were like super-Technicolor. I realized that I was seeing people that had been through the refining-fire process--all the annoying parts of their personalities were gone, and the good parts were now perfect. I got a glimpse of how good it will be to know the people we care about as God made them to be, and how much better and deeper even the most loving relationships can be in God's presence. C.S. Lewis once wrote that we have never met a merely mortal person--that everyone we meet was created to be a perfect, immortal being--but only in a right relationship with an eternal God.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Inward: Loving Others - Frank Zummo Jr.

God says “love thy neighbor as thyself”!  How are you doing on that one?  Do you drive by your neighbor’s house and murmur about the fact that they never mow their lawn?  Do you wish your other neighbor would fix one of the 9 cars in his driveway? How about our neighbors on the freeway?  Do we always have big love for them?  In today’s time of instant messaging, skyping, and electronic everything, it’s seems easier to just drive by everyone, hit the clicker, drive into the garage, and click it closed behind us!  How about those inside the house with us once we get home?  Do you sometimes wish everyone was quietly and neatly awaiting your arrival, instead of running through the house like wild animals, not even conscious of the fact that you’ve made it home?  Have you ever thought “It would be a lot easier to love them if they acted like normal people”?  Never thought like that?  Me neither!  Well maybe once or twice.

The fact is that we tend to love others conditionally or based on how they act towards us.  But that’s not what God says.  The book of Mathew says “to love those who persecute you”!  Luke says “if someone takes your coat, to give them your shirt too”!  Luke also says “and if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners do that”!  Ouch!!!!!!!! 

The world expects  “an eye for an eye”, or “do unto others before they do unto you”!  But as Christians, we are called to a higher standard.  An “out of this world” standard!  A standard that will cause the world to stop and take notice.  Love your enemies???? “Where did that come from?”   “I’m glad you asked” you can say, “let’s go grab some food, and I’ll tell you all about it”!

Frank P. Zummo