Fall Leadership Training

My recent reading of Real Life Discipleship by Jim Putman left me intrigued by an interesting observation he made about Jesus, saying that He had “completed His work” as recorded in John 17. He poses a great question – How could Jesus say this when He had not yet gone to the cross? His answer is that the work God had given Him to do and the work that He had completed was to make disciples!

This completed work led to His final assignment to his followers (Matthew 28) to go and make more disciples. For our church, LIFEgroups are the vehicles we have chosen as our primary avenue for making this happen. It is through our groups that people’s lives are connected in such a way that God uses the combination of His Word and these relationships to help us grow into missionary followers of Jesus who love God, love others, live the mission, and continue the process of making disciples. SO, that begs the question, how are you doing in your assignment to “make disciples?”

In order to help us all take steps in that direction, you will be blessed by the line-up of trainers we have with us for the one-day Fall Leadership training on Sept. 25. I am thrilled to have a practitioner with us this year as our keynote speaker to challenge us to be even more effective in this high calling! Bill Donahue is one of the most recognized names today among discipleship pastors around the nation as God has used him to shape and influence the lives of countless men and women in their quest to live in obedience to this command of Jesus to “Make Disciples!” Join us for this one-day training — you will not be disappointed!

Find more information and register for the Fall Leadership Training.

 

 

1 out of 5 People Still Do This…Do You?

one out of five

According to research by Onovative, a marketing firm in Louisville, KY, what only 1 out of 5 people still do is worth our consideration for Summer Advance.  This Sunday, June 26, is our final Sunday for this emphasis.  Summer Advance is the plan for our church to fully fund our needs for the month of June and prepay additional expenses incurred with Vacation Bible School (June 27-July 1), Student Camp (July 25-29) and Children’s Camp (August 1-5). These three events provide the greatest opportunities each summer for individuals to hear and respond to the gospel.  Summer Advance allows us to recognize the value in these events and commit ahead of time to make sure the resources are available at the time when they are most needed.

So what is it that 1 out of 5 people still do?  The answer is: Carry A Checkbook. For some reading this electronic blog post, there may be some confusion.  Prior to electronic banking and the popularity of debit cards, most Americans routinely carried a wallet for cash and credit cards, and they carried a checkbook.  The fact that only 1 out of 5 people still carry checkbooks means that when people arrive at church and are presented with an opportunity to give an offering in worship, they may find themselves without cash or a checkbook.  Unless they have already set up and established online giving, they are without opportunity to give. I know that I may have good intentions to give to some cause later, but often discover that by the time I get home, I have forgotten all about my good intention.

I want to encourage you to be sure that you have considered what you will give this week to meet the need of our Summer Advance goal of $500,000.00. Many have already given, but this Sunday will be a significant time to give generously. I am pleased to announce that our church now offers TEXT TO GIVE.  Why?  Because while only 1 out of 5 people carry checkbooks, According to the Pew Research Center nearly 7 out of 10 Americans carry a smart phone with them daily. Text to Give provides a secure manner in which to give when individuals desire to do so while in worship or any other time they choose.  Text to Give provides a way to give consistent with how many people live.  While our church still receives offerings of all kinds (cash, check, stocks, gifts in kind, online giving) this provides one additional way to help people do what they sense God leading them to do in the moment. In order to use this service, you will need to set up your account online to connect your giving with your cell phone number.  To set up your account go to www.firstnorfolk.org/give and click on the Mobile Online Giving link to set up your account.  Once set up, during the offering or after an appeal to give to support a certain mission or cause, you can simply text your gift.

If you have questions or any difficulty setting up your account please contact our financial controller, Wendy Howard at whoward@firstnorfolk.org

However you do it, I want to encourage you to participate in helping children and teens come to know Jesus this summer by allowing God to use to invest in His Kingdom work this summer!  We give, not for ourselves, but for God’s glory! Let’s exceed our goal this summer!

 

4 Benefits for Children at Vacation Bible School

“Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16, HCSB®)

 

Vacation Bible School!  It’s summertime! Church buildings everywhere are splattered with posters and signs promoting VBS. Why? What is the big deal about VBS? Churches have found that VBS is a tool that continues to have great effectiveness in demonstrating how much they value children in their communities. Preparation is made months in advance for this week. Dollars are spent on supplies and refreshments that are sure to bring smiles to the faces of countless boys and girls! While true this still does not answer the question, why do all of this?

That can be answered by reading the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 18, where He declared, “Let the little children come to Me…” It is true that Jesus loves the little children, and the church follows His lead in doing likewise.  VBS says – “Let the Little Children Come!” VBS reminds all adults of the value and beauty of childlike faith.  When the church is buzzing with the noise of children’s voices, the sounds of feet trying hard not to run inside the hallways of the building, and the echoes of children singing praises to God through worship, there is a fresh sense of what it means to be the church!

Beginning on Monday – June 27, our church begins what promises to be one of the most amazing weeks of the year – Vacation Bible School! I want to remind you of four blessings that will be your child’s if they join us this week:

FUN!

Any way you slice it, every day at Vacation Bible school children see and experience moments of laughter, smiles, and exuberant joy.  This happens in the hallways anticipating entering the worship center for the early morning worship kickoff.  Singing loudly of God’s love is amazing with hundreds of children. Running and playing outdoors during recreation also brings smiles to the faces of children and adults alike. Then those amazing snacks at break time bring additional satisfaction! To top it all off, children love the way Pastor Eric makes the opening and closing celebrations more FUN than most would believe each and every day!

DSC_3444 blog

FRIENDS!

Each year at Vacation Bible School children discover new friends who have moved to our area.  They discover the opportunity to meet friends of friends.  They are encouraged to bring friends each day with them, and they are encouraged to grow like Jesus  – “in favor with God and man” by learning to be a better friend to those around them.  Additionally, children will make new friends with adult and student leaders in each classroom. God made us for relationships with himself and others.  VBS allows many children to make friends for life.

FAMILY!

VBS means opportunities for the entire family.  This year we will offer classes for parents of children on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to address issues of parenting. Middle School students have their own event called CRAVE on Monday – Wednesday evenings where high school students and adult leaders will engage students in incredible bible study and fun activities afterwards.  Thursday evening is  all about family.  We will eat together, join in a great celebration of all that has occurred during the week, and drop by classrooms to see what children have been doing. More than all of these, VBS will provide clarity to children on what the bible teaches about how to be a part of God’s family (John 1:10-12).

FOREVER!

The greatest blessing for children participating in Vacation Bible School is that they are learning the Bible.  The prophet Isaiah writes, “The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the Word of our God remains forever.” (Isaiah 40:8) This week provides an opportunity for children to learn, study, memorize and experience this Word of God that will last forever!  I want to encourage you to consider how your children will benefit from understanding the truths they will learn from Psalm 139 this year at VBS.  Consider how blessed their friends will be from this experience.

For Registration/ More Information visit  www.firstnorfolk.org/vbs

Want to see who is new to our Church Staff? Welcome…. Brent and Kate Wilson

Brent Wilson family picWe are excited to introduce to our church, Brent and Kate Wilson and their two daughters, Eden and Scarlett. Brent begins his first Sunday as our Minister to Young Adults by preaching in the Onetwentyseven worship gathering in the chapel at 9:30 a.m. on July 3. Brent and his family are relocating here from Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Brent is a native of Kernersville, N.C. and has served in churches while attending school at Boyce College and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He has a heart and passion for seeing people come to know Jesus. He loves to preach the gospel of Jesus so that others might know what it means to have new life in Christ. He has a heart to shepherd people and is convinced that this is what God has called and prepared him to do. Outside of vocational ministry, Brent enjoys hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, playing and watching sports, playing guitar, hunting, reading, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

Kate grew up in a pastor’s home and has lived in a variety of cities and church settings in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Texas .  In addition to being a wife and mother, she earned her Bachelors of Science in Women’s Ministry from Boyce College in Louisville, KY. She and Brent married in 2011 and are both passionate about using their gifts to serve God in vocational ministry.

Please pray for Brent and Kate as they transition their family to join us in the work God is doing in our midst.  Pray for them to find housing, meet friends, and establish new relationships with people far from God who they may help to find new life in Christ.  Why not send Brent and Kate a welcome message at bwilson533@gmail.com

Four Possible Giving Teachers…Which one most influenced you?

We enter this world selfish as a result of the fall. This leaves us in need of being taught to give generously, but who will teach us? There are at least four very good possibilities.

But since you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you –see that you also excel in this grace of giving. – 2 Corinthians 8:7

I recently cleaned out 20+ years (1986-2006) of tax return documents and receipts and took them to my friend’s document shredding company for proper disposal. As I made my way through mounds of paper, I came across some mail in each year’s tax files from the church I was attending during that tax year. I could not resist the opportunity to open these letters and review my year-end giving record to my church as I cleaned out these files. I was amazed that I never missed any money I gave away during my lifetime, and I noticed a pattern of increasing my giving over this time as my income and resources grew. I smiled as I reflected on what God had entrusted to my care and how blessed I have been on this journey of learning to trust God to provide for my entire life! I was thankful, but to whom?
The Bible makes clear that my gratitude goes first to God, because “every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above…” James 1:17. I also realized that I am grateful to four others who have taught me how to give of what God has entrusted to my care. Maybe you have benefited from the same teachers in your life. If so, today is a good day to stop and say “Thank you.”

PAUL
From reading my bible, and especially the letters written by Paul to the New Testament churches, I have gleaned much from God inspiring Paul to be very specific in teaching other followers of Jesus about giving. He took seriously the command of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20) to teach new believers everything that Jesus had commanded, including his instruction on giving. For more about Paul’s teaching on giving see , Romans 12:3-16, 1 Corinthians 16:22, Galatians 6:7-10, II Corinthians 8-9, Philippians 4:6-20 and 1 Timothy 6.

PARENTS
As a young child, I was keenly aware that my mother specifically gave a tithe of her income each and every week. She took out her checkbook each Saturday evening and wrote out a check for one-tenth of her week’s pay and placed it in her offering envelope, ready to place in the offering the next day. While we did not have a lot in material possessions, we always had enough. I credit my mother with teaching by example and instruction about the portion of our possessions that we were to return to God. I am thankful that I was taught by word and deed the value of giving to my church as a child.

PASTORS
In the summer of 1980 before leaving for college, our church air-conditioner had to be replaced. I am forever grateful to my pastor, Dr. Fred Lackey for calling our church to a challenge that summer to double-tithe for one month to meet the needs in our church. I trusted my pastor, and God used him to teach me about the blessing of giving over and above my tithe. His call to action stretched my faith to do more than I thought possible.

PEERS
It was election night in November of 1980, the day Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States that I recall getting a phone call that my father had collapsed from a heart attack and I needed to return home from college. As a broke college student, I was unsure of how I would make this trip back home. I had gone to see a friend in my dorm and when I returned another friend, Dale, had left an envelope on my desk with “Philippians 4:19” written on the envelope. Inside was cash I would need to travel home. I am sure I had read the book of Philippians before, but never had this verse come so alive before now. It was in this moment that I saw a living picture of how “My God would supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus!” This peer was used by God to teach me a lifelong lesson in being generous with God’s blessings. His example spoke volumes. That summer, I also saw God provide for my needs for college in ways I could have never dreamed or imagined.

So, my question for you is…Who taught you to give? Giving is not our nature. The effects of sin are overwhelmingly strong, so we enter into this world selfish to the core. As a result, we must be taught to give. A heart transformed by the love and grace of God expressed in Jesus is the only remedy for this selfish nature. Once we follow Jesus, we begin a journey of learning what it means to give generously and sacrificially for God’s kingdom purposes. God uses many tools and teachers to help us grow in this journey. As we grow, we learn to live with our hands open, receiving from the Lord and giving generously as he entrusts his blessings to us.
Would you reply with your story of who taught you to give?

Changing Four Letter Words to Three

I remember it like it was yesterday – a ministry moment of clarity that has been etched in my memory for more than 25 years. My pastor, Dr. Dennis Newkirk, had been travelling home from Arizona and arrived home around 2:00a.m. on Sunday morning.  As our staff was walking into a pre-worship staff meeting on that Sunday, he mentioned being tired.  I replied, “That’s right, you have to preach three times today.” As if on cue, he turned abruptly and retorted, “No. I get to preach today. I do not have to preach today.”  He smiled and entered the office for our brief meeting.

Why does this stand out in my mind?  I think it was the clarity with which he spoke and the instantaneous response to my statement. He did not need to think for a moment in his reply. It was a well-engrained attitude he had developed about the privilege of preaching the gospel of Jesus each week. It was also a profound moment of teaching for a young youth pastor to hear from his senior pastor. I have never forgotten that moment.  It was not a rebuke, nor a harsh reprimand.  It was a statement never to be confused in my mind again.

This powerful lesson was not lost on me.  I have repeated that statement more times than I can recall.

I believe this simple change from the four letter word HAVE to the three letter word GET can be applied in much of life. Have you considered it in your response to our high calling of financial stewardship? 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 records some of the most profound words in scripture that embody this idea of having to vs. getting to.

Remember this, the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously, will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart – NOT out of regret or of necessity (HAVE TO), for God loves a cheerful giver (emphasis added).   -2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (HCSB)

Consider the attitude expressed by Paul to these Corinthian believers. He reminds them (and us) that the best and most generous gifts should proceed first from the heart, not out of a sense of guilt or obligation. The decision to give to the Lord through His church may be viewed by some as something they HAVE to do, as if it is a burden or an obligation.  Others, however, have grown in their giving to understand the secret of generosity is that it is indeed a privilege that is ours to partner with and to be used by God to give in ways that bless others and make a difference in their lives. These Corinthian believers were getting to share in the work of God as He used them to supply the needs of the body of believers in Jerusalem.

Consider how Paul illustrated the attitude of GETTING to GIVE as expressed by the Macedonian believers. In 2 Corinthians 8:4 he describes this group of believers as being generous beyond their ability to give. He wrote, “they begged us intensely for the privilege (GET to) of sharing in the ministry to the saints…” (emphasis added). Wow!  What a different attitude toward giving. Our giving begins with a right heart and a right attitude.

Prayer:  Lord, would you help me grow to have a Christ-like attitude in my generosity toward others through your church. Would you help me grow to be like the Macedonian believers who understood that we get to join you in your work through our giving of our touch, time, talent, testimony and treasures? Help me today to see what I get to do on Your behalf instead of approaching my day with what I have to do. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your Kingdom’s work here on earth.  – Amen