What does it take?

A rich young man asked about it and found out it would cost him a lot of money. A short cheater fellow felt he had to make things right. A woman at a well had to change her lifestyle and learn to get water from a new well. A Centurion acknowledged a higher authority. Hard to imagine, but a prostitute humbled herself even more than before. A couple of fishermen left their nets and went out of business. A church leader snuck into a secret meeting just so he could find out straight from the Teacher. Each example is useful in understanding just what it takes to follow Jesus. The cost is always higher than one would think.

 I heard a person talking about the cost of an expensive yacht one time. He said there is a point in yachts where if you have to ask it is probably too much. You see if you are wealthy enough to own it, you are probably wealthy enough not to care, or at least don’t have to ask what it costs. The good news is that a relationship with Jesus is available to every one regardless of our gender, race, and especially income. But make no mistake it will cost, but considering the reward is priceless it is a good thing someone else paid the price for it.

 This week as we continue on talking about New Beginnings, we will be talking about what it takes to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Come find out what it will take for you.

See you at church,

 Pastor Chris



A New Place

 
Do you remember the first time going to a new church?  Maybe it was just a visit or maybe you moved and had to find a new church.  Do you remember how you felt?  Did you worry about fitting in or whether it would be a friendly church or one of those other kind?  Did you wonder if they were judging you or if they were going to talk about you when you left?  Now you might be thinking that all those things are the paranoid delusions of an insecure adolescent, but the reality is that we probably all felt them at some level when trying out a new church.  Tomorrow we may have a number of new folks attend.  I wonder how they will feel?
 
The good news is that I know the kind of people you are at Wellspring Fellowship.  You are friendly, open, loving, full of compassion, and real.  You don’t put on airs, or act.  You don’t look down your nose and we all know we are no ones judge.  We don’t gossip because that is motivated out of hate, and it is just not something we tolerate at our church.   There is no status or privileged few; we are all in this together.  That is the way we are , but will our guests feel that way?
 
While we of course have no way of controlling how someone else feels here is my one encouragement for you; be who you are. No gimmicks, no sales job, or making something like something it is not.  No need for the extra special friendly sauce, because that will just come off as over the top.  Instead be your normal beautiful selves and I am confident that any guest that comes through our door will feel welcome, loved, and included.
 
Looking forward to what God brings this week and in the coming weeks.
 
God Bless,
 
Pastor Chris


Climbing

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Have you ever done something that taxed you in such a way that you had to consider, “Do I continue or turn back?” When you start up a mountain there is no mystery as to the goal. It is there in front of you in all its glory. No one is surprised when it gets steep. No one is shocked when the fatigue begins to set in. So what keeps you going?

Sometimes there are outside forces that make us continue. When a bear is chasing you, finding your motivation is usually not a problem. But most of the time it is what is on the inside that move us. Reaching the goal, getting to the top, challenging ourselves and accomplishing it, not wanting to give up no matter what, these are things that compel us forward. We want to hear the words “ Well done….”

The goals of Vision 2020 are the mountain tops for our church. It is no surprise that the going will be tough, they are tall mountains and the trail is steep. Our motivation too is not ambiguous. The world is in chaos. People are dying without Jesus Christ and he has called us to go into all the world. Every one of the goals of Vision 2020 are calling us to be effective for Jesus Christ. Still what moves you to keep going forward?

This week as we start the new ministry season I want to challenge you to consider what keeps you going. I want to call you to embrace some of the Biblical attitudes that will help us get to the top. We must keep climbing.

See you at church.

Pastor Chris


Here Comes Trouble

One year I was out in my back yard and it was the time of year where there were a lots of bumble bees on the flowers. I don’t remember what I was doing but at some point I knelt down to work on something. Suddenly I had a very uncomfortable sensation in my knee. I was being stung! I had knelt down with my knee covering up a bumble bee nest. Most of the time bumblebees are no trouble. Even their nests don’t really bother very much, unlike the yellow jackets who are evil and must be destroyed when discovered. But when I knelt on it the bee did what it is supposed to do when under attack and it stung me.

 Things are gearing up for the 2016/17 ministry season and I am excited to see where God will take us this year! But I also want to be ready for trouble, but it too is surely on the way. If we were doing nothing and not being effective, then the evil one would probably leave us alone. However, whenever Christians start doing things and start impacting their world, the evil one wants to make trouble.

We don’t need to run in fear, or be paralyzed into inaction. Rather we need to continue doing exactly what we are doing, with one small adjustment. Let’s be ready. Ready because the evil one will want to attack us. He will attack our relationships. He will attack us with distractions and drama. He will even try to tempt us into sin in order to stop the good things that we as a church are accomplishing.

 Be encouraged. We are not powerless, and that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us! Lets not give a foothold or any opportunity for the evil one to work! Lets be ready because here comes trouble.

 See you at church,

 Pastor Chris



Energized?

It is amazing how some commercials just stick with you. The energizer bunny is one such commercial.   It just keeps going and going and going. We are kind of like that too. We just keep going and going and going. We are busy people and we do a lot! Some of it is more productive than other things, but the reality is we are always doing. When do you stop and recharge?

I appreciate summer time. I have been on an educational schedule for most of my life. Of course growing up when I was in school, but then college, and then as an educator it seems that summer has always been somewhat of a down time. Now for some folks summer is just regular work with hotter temperatures, but usually somewhere in the mix is a vacation. A vacation is that opportunity to recharge.   Are you stopping to recharge this summer?

It is true that we can do all things through Him who gives us strength! AMEN! But it is also true that Jesus often got off by himself to pray. He was tired and needed to recharge and reconnect with God. It wasn’t that he wasn’t able to continue by relying on the Spirit to sustain him, but rather the very act of stopping to recharge was a vital part of that reliance!

 Are you recharging?

See you at church!

 Pastor Chris



Not Enough

Not Enough

“Here hold my Pepsi, and watch this. No I got it. Well actually I don’t ………… help.” Ever experience this chain of events? It looked heavy but you were sure you could handle it. When you were younger you could….. . Or maybe some circumstance or situation comes into your life, and you are sure you can deal with it. You don’t need any help and you are sure you got it handled until you don’t.

As humans we seem to want to demonstrate our competence even when we have no idea what we are doing. Like the two year old who is throwing a fit because they want to tie their shoes but they don’t know how, we often live our lives trying to handle it, what ever “it” happens to be. Learning dependence is difficult when what we want is independence. Ultimately, we must learn we are not enough.

You see no matter how good we become. No matter how strong, or how disciplined we are, it is impossible to reach a standard that is even close to the Holiness of God. Yet we are called to be like Him in His holiness. God realizes we will never achieve the standard, however it is still the standard. What gives? Why would he call us to be something He knows we can never achieve?

 Evil cannot be in the presence of God and eventually he destroys it all. There is only one solution to our miserable and self-inflicted conundrum. He must do it for us.   We have to learn what Paul learned, “ My grace is sufficient for you”

 Come learn how we scribblers can rely on the grace of our Savior.

See you at church,

Pastor Chris



Introductions

When you are out and about (finding opportunities to invite someone to church no doubt) you have to master the art of introduction. Introduction is that first and often awkward moment when you connect either yourself or someone with you to another human being.   This connection is often accomplished with some sort of context that allows for both the reason and circumstances of the introduction.   For instance I often meet new people at church and introduce myself as Pastor Chris Henderson. They usually have figured that out if I am meeting them after church, but sometimes it is before church and they don’t know me from the cable repair guy. By including my position, title, calling, or whatever other descriptor you want to use to understand what it means to be Pastor, they have an indication of who I am.

Often I am with my wife so I will say this is my wife Susan. By introducing her in this way, we hope that the guests meeting us for the first time will understand the unity we have in perusing the call of Christ on our lives, and the commitment we have made to the church and ministry. Of course there are other things that I could use to introduce her that would be completely ineffective. 

For instance I could say, “This is Susan she has really cool dance moves.” I will confess I have not yet tried this one (which explains my continuing to breath normally). One could imagine an instance where it would work out really well. The person might say “Really, me too” and then right there in the lobby of the church they have a dance off. It could be epic! More probably they (and Susan) would just look at me with a very confused look while their eyes are rapidly simultaneously locating their children and the exits. While this might be a somewhat odd example, I wonder if sometimes we don’t introduce God in equally bizarre ways.   We probably don’t mean to, but still we do it.

Having already considered bizarre trivia as an ineffective introduction method, consider the person who introduces God by telling someone about all the things that God is against. Even if it is true, I can’t imagine anyone really wanting that to be the first impression that someone has of them. We don’t often get to introduce God to someone who knows nothing about Him. Most probably have some sort of first impressions of Him from the experience of their life and living in this country. It may be positive or negative, but your introduction of Him might actually say more about you than Him.

Have you considered how you introduce God? Maybe we should. This week we will take a look at how God introduces Himself and there find some encouragement in the way we introduce Him to others.

See you at the dance off,

 Pastor Chris



Divided

Last night our country experienced a horrible crime. The gunning down of 5 Dallas police officers was an act of hate inspired by the evil one. An overemphasis on race and race relations by self-seeking and manipulative politicians all aided and abated by a willing media is also bearing its natural fruit, namely, violence and division. Such fruit make it easy to identify the tree from which they came…. by their fruit you will know them. Selective outrage by Black Li

ves Matter, who incites and organizes in order to protest police actions prior to any kind of investigation but then conveniently ignores the much greater violence occurring daily in the inner cities of Chicago, Detroit, or Oakland only further reveals an agenda rather than truly caring about any particular life or anything constructive. To God, all lives matter.

Racism of any form is foreign and has no place in those who truly follow Jesus. Jesus came to redeem everyone. The Biblical worldview rightly understands that all were created in the image of God. Black humans reflect that image just as beautifully as the white humans. In Christ there is no difference. To emphasize race as anything more than the result of a creative God who loved to create with variety rather than monochromatic boredom is to truly fail to understand God. This same God who created with such incredible diversity, is also the God who hates injustice. He hates the oppression of the poor and He hates revenge.

As I contemplate the chaos and division that the evil one has used and is using so effectively in our country, I am drawn to Matt 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Peacemakers are not a group of individuals who go around making peace; rather Jesus was talking about the qualities and characteristics of Kingdom people. That is people who follow Him and will indeed be rewarded by Him. They will be the ones who make peace. If we follow Christ we should all be peacemakers. We have a unique opportunity. Speak words of peace, deescalate the rhetoric, emphasize love, and embrace all humans. Insist on justice from our government and reject those who would use division as a means to obtain power. Pray for our country.

This week we will be talking about Vision 2020 and the importance of fellowship. I hope you come and are encouraged by what the church can do.

God bless,

Pastor Chris



Living in the Tension

The 4th of July is almost here and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on our country. I actually went back and looked at the sermons I preached on (or around) the 4th all the way back to 2006. While I did not read each one it was interesting as I looked at a number of them to see just the level of change in one decade. A lot has changed in 10 years, including me.

 

I will confess I am much more jaded, and a lot more cynical than I was a decade ago. Where once I would have proudly proclaimed my affiliation as Republican, since 2008, I am happily not affiliated with any political party. Where once I would have been convinced of the necessity for an interventionist foreign policy, I am much less enthusiastic for any new adventures into the morass that George Orwell so shockingly and accurately described as “endless war.”   This election cycle is proving to be a doozy and there are some significant political adjustments afoot not only in our nation, but as Brexit demonstrates, in the world at large. No doubt 10 years from now the world will be a much different place.

 

Culturally our country has dramatically changed as well. The high speed internet and changes in technology have made the exchange of information, news, and media all squished together and delivered to your phone at the tap on the screen. Often what is being offered on that screen is destructive and ubiquitous offerings of the multi-billion dollar pornography industry. Our country has seen the redefining of marriage to the point that our church can no longer participate in solemnizing or adding any credibility to State recognized marriage. Never satisfied, the new agenda would appear to be to erase gender.

 

Yet in all of this (and I could go on but I would depress myself) God has not given us permission to withdraw, isolate ourselves, or run away. In fact, all of this points not to an opportunity for isolation but the desperation of our calling. As people run headlong off of every cliff imaginable (most of their own making) we are called to intervene, as Jude says, “save some from the fire.”   We are called to live in the tension of being in the world but not of the world, salt that preserves in a culture that is rotting, and light in a very dark place. Ultimately our citizenship is not here and the reward goes to those who persevere in the face of all of it. This calls for patient endurance, not giving up and running away.

 

This week at church we will talk about what we can do living in this tension.

Pastor Chris



Don’t Bring a Friend To Church…

Recently I have been reading the book by Thom S. Rainer called “The Unchurched Next Door”.  This is a book about a project that he led where they interviewed over 300 people who were “unchurched”,that is they did not go to church.  The interviews involved a number of questions and then an evaluation of the responses and looking at what we could learn from actually talking to people who did not go to church. 
 
There are a number of shocking things that you learn when you read this book and some that are fairly obvious.   One of the surprising and shocking things I learned is that 82% of people are “somewhat likely” to come to church if they are invited.  I don’t know if this surprised you or not, but it did me.  It turns out that the reason people are not trying church out, is very simple.  No one has invited them.   Rainer found out that only 21% of Christians invited anyone to church last year, and of the 21% only 2% of the people invited were unchurched.  That was shocking to me.
 
Why aren’t we inviting?  There were a number of reasons why Christians are not inviting people.  Ranging from Spiritual lethargy (we are lazy), to a growing sense of inclusiveness (all dogs go to heaven), we fear rejection, as well as we come from churches that don’t invite people to church.  But think there might be another reason.  We invite our friends.
 
I don’t know about you but my friend list that doesn’t come to church is not really long.   Most of my friends on facebook are relatives or people who already come to church.   So if I determine to invite a friend to church that is great, but it will probably end up being less than 10 invitations in a year.  And once  you exhaust that list all that is left is to keep bugging the same 4 people.  That won’t go well.  Maybe that is why Jesus never encouraged us to bring our friends to church. Because if that is our evangelism strategy, it will not get the Gospel very far!
 
  Ultimately we have to go way beyond that, into the land that is outside of our comfort zone.  
Don’t bring a friend to church bring a stranger! That is where the gospel leads.  That is the essence of our call to “go make disciples of all the nations” and to be his witness to all the ends of the earth.  
 
This week we will be talking about being an “Invitational” church and the reasons we should not just bring our friends but strangers as well.
 
See you at church.
 
Pastor Chris