Home Group Love.

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We have been praying for a young mom who has been away from her husband and young child for months serving our country in the Middle East.  She came back today!  Her home group has been praying for her and helping her family while she has been away.   I was touched by this effort by people who have been in home group with them.  One brought them back from the airport, two prepared the banner, one baked cookies, one provided a welcome home balloon and flowers and one prepared a meal and has it waiting for them in the freezer.

I was touched.  I think they were too.  Welcome home dear one!

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My friends…..

I didn’t know when we launched the church that I would spend so much time surrounded by preschoolers!  They have become some of my best friends. They have taught me some of the most important lessons and they have given me some of my biggest inspirations!

I experienced this when my own kids were little but I had forgotten how children see truth so clearly and express truth in a profound way.  I hear conversations among children and am astounded by how well they “see” life. 

I love how my friends give love so unreservedly. They inspire me to live in the moment and especially love in the moment.  I am thinking of my little friend Cady that always has to give me a hug in the morning and when she goes home (thanks to her mom for making the time to make this special moment possible).  She gets so excited to see me because she is anticipating the hug and her arms extend and her fingers wiggle before she falls into my arms. I love that she always wants to give me a hug at the end of the day whether she has had a good day or a bad day! Yep…important life lessons. 

ImageHere is another friend who I see during the week and when he comes to church on Sunday, he looks for me.  He likes to ask me questions.  He knows that I will take the time to consider his questions and not give him an easy answer. He pushes me to think in a different way.  He never lets me off the hook and I have to stretch to come up with satisfactory answers. He trusts me to be present and bring everything I have to the moment. 

When I saw this photo tonight of my sweet little friend, I realized how much I receive and learn from my new “short” friends.  What a sweet surprise it has been getting to spend time with these unique young people!  Life is good.

Sacramento

melissalinda melissaspeakingWhat a delight that I was invited to speak at a lwml rally here in Sacramento and tomorrow a local church here. I come prepared to encourage others in their faith and as they serve and am always on the receiving end!  I leave so encouraged.  Thank you ladies of Zone 4 of the LWML! I am especially thankful for my hosts, Londa and Luther Skov.  Their hospitality was out of this world!

 

Celebration Sunday

 

This Sunday we celebrate what God has done and is doing at Concordia. We will show video clips of people who have been part of Home Groups and what God has done in their lives.  The single service of 10am will be followed by a pot luck brunch.  Bring your favorite dish and join the festivities!

I saw this article by Pastor Rick Warren about being prepared with our testimony. I love the questions he poses as we think about this:

  1. What my life was like before I met Jesus.
  2. How I realized I needed Jesus.
  3. How I committed my life to Jesus.
  4. The difference Jesus has made in my life.

    So what is your story?  Are you ready to share it?  If you want to read the entire article, I have copied it here.

Help Your Members Prepare a Testimony

By en

 


Soul WinningThe Bible teaches that when someone becomes a believer, he or she also becomes God’s messenger (2 Corinthians 2:17). One of the ways we help our members at Saddleback to understand this is we teach them how to prepare a testimony.

I tell people, “You may feel you don’t have anything to share, but that’s the Devil trying to keep you silent. You have a storehouse of experiences that God wants to use to bring others into his family.” The Bible says, “Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10 GW)

This is what we tell people as they prepare a testimony –

Your testimony is the story of how Christ has made a difference in your life. Peter tells us that we were chosen by God “to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you.”

This is the essence of witnessing—simply sharing your personal experiences regarding the Lord. In a courtroom, a witness isn’t expected to argue the case, prove the truth, or press for a verdict; that is the job of attorneys. Witnesses simply report what happened to them or what they saw.

Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses,” not “You will be my attorney.” He wants you to share your story with others. Sharing your testimony is an essential part of your mission on earth because it is unique. There is no other story just like yours, so only you can share it. If you don’t share it, it will be lost forever. You may not be a Bible scholar, but you are the authority on your life, and it’s hard to argue with personal experience.

In truth, your personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors as professional salesmen, but see you as a “satisfied customer,” so they give you more credibility.

Personal stories are also easier to relate to than principles, and people love to hear them. They capture our attention, and we remember them longer. Unbelievers would probably lose interest if you started quoting theologians, but they have a natural curiosity about experiences they’ve never had. Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to theirs.

Another value of your testimony is that it bypasses intellectual defenses. Many people who won’t accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble, personal story. That is why on six different occasions Paul used his testimony to share the gospel instead of quoting Scripture.

The Bible says, “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.” The best way to “be ready” is to write out your testimony and then memorize the main points. Divide it into four parts:

  1. What my life was like before I met Jesus.
  2. How I realized I needed Jesus.
  3. How I committed my life to Jesus.
  4. The difference Jesus has made in my life.

Of course, you have many other testimonies besides your salvation story. You have a story for every experience in which God has helped you. You should make a list of all the problems, circumstances, and crises that God has brought you through. Then be sensitive and use the story that your unbelieving friend will relate to best. Different situations call for different testimonies.

Work with your member to help them develop a testimony that they can share with friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

Beautiful Easter

It was a beautiful Easter celebration at Concordia.  We had four worship experiences and launched the EDGE format which is highly music driven worship.  It was a beautiful day from beginning to end.  We had 50 first time guests check out Concordia on Easter.

In the busyness I captured just two photos.  When I looked back on them, I thought how beautifully it captures what Concordia is all about….a blessing passed from generation to generation!  These were two teams that served on Easter.  The two greeters, mother and daughter. They were dressed alike. It was so cute I snapped this photo.

greeters

Then I snapped this photo.  It is of one of our elders and young James.  They were the usher team for one of the FAM JAM worship experiences.

usherI loved how little James took his usher duties very seriously.  One weekend I was in the office when he came in and began his sorting duties. He wanted to make sure all the communication cards from the adults and from the children were neatly gathered.  He sorted through the offerings and made sure they all went neatly into the plastic zip lock back that gets put into the safe.  He knew the responsibility entrusted to him was great.  It was beautiful to see him serve and know he was entrusted with a special and important task.

I love to see how Concordia helps people of all ages discover their gifts and use them for the sake of the proclamation of the Gospel.  I love seeing us lift up the gifts of the young especially. I believe it will keep them engaged in God’s work and Word as they grow.