LoveFirst Coast July

We’ll be taking a break from organized, scheduled events for July.  It’s a good season to rest.  In August, we’ll resume our gatherings, but with one change:

Instead of meeting every other Sunday for Worship Gatherings and every other Monday for Huddle Reunion, we’ll be meeting on Mondays (taking 5th Mondays off).

But why move to just Mondays?  First, it’s a move to a consistent night.  That’s easier to manage, and easier to keep on everyone’s radar, and less confusing.   Meeting Sundays some weeks and Mondays other weeks presented made it hard to develop a rhythm for life and mission.  It’s much clearer to say, “Hey, we do this thing every Monday, and I think you’d find it helpful.”   Also, while there are conflicts in everyone’s schedule, there seem to be less conflicts on Monday nights – at least for now.  We anticipate that things will open up in the future.  We may need to adjust again.

Our worship gatherings (UP) will be on 2nd and 4th Mondays.  They are just what you’d expect – gatherings to worship the Lord and celebrate what we see God doing.

Huddle Reunion (IN) is for anyone who’s living life on mission.  Each week, we take one discipleship topic and review it, but the main purpose is to encourage and equip one another for life on mission.

Finally it keeps the weekends open for mission (OUT).  Sunday nights are one of the best times to connect with people, to form a group, and to engage in mission wherever you find yourself.

But for now, it’s July.   The weekly messages will still be going out, but mainly, it’s a month to rest, pray, and ask the Lord to prepare you for the season ahead!

Enjoy a month of sabbath!

 

 

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Three Healing Steps – John 11

We are called to be a part of God’s work of healing, but how?  For some insight, we look to see how Jesus does that in John 11 where we see him…

Listen, Love, and Pray.

Special thanks to PRMI, the Community of the Cross, and the School of Healing Prayer who introduced me to the idea of healing being about Listening, Loving, and Praying.  If you’d like to learn more, I recommend Brad Long’s book, Let Jesus Heal Your Hidden Wounds.  Blessings! 

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Invited Into Healing? Acts 9:10-19

Good Morning!  The call to follow Jesus includes an invitation into God’s ministry of healing!  If you are reluctant to step into that, there’s a guy you could identify with in the book of Acts.
This is the day that the Lord has made!  Let us worship the Lord!
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Do you want to be a healer?

Announcements:  This Monday night, 7pm huddle reunion on Zoom. If you want to be a part of that, shoot me an email or a text or even a facebook/instagram direct message would probably work.  I’ll fill you in.

Also, LoveFirst Coast exists to invite, encourage, and equip people for life on mission.  We believe that part of God’s mission is reconciliation.  There’s a great need for reconciliation in our world today, probably most obviously along racial, generational, and political lines.  If you are engaging in the work of reconciliation wherever you are, I just want you to know we are on your side.  If we can encourage you and pray for you, we’d be honored.

Last week we posted the question – do you want to be healed?  If you are recognizing the brokenness, the wounds, the ailments in your own you life, last week was just an encouragement to say, “Yes, I want to be healed.”  And to seek it.

This week, the question is a little different – are you willing to be a healer?

Psalm 103-1-3 Bless the Lord, oh my soul, all that is within me bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives your sins and heals you diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

The Psalmist makes it clear – Our God is a forgiving God.  Our God is a healing God.  He heals your diseases.  And healing is leading us toward thriving!  – Forgiveness.  Healing.  Thriving.

But what is healing, anyway?

Healing is actually about setting things to the way they are supposed to be.

Physical healing is what gets all the press.  When the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the cancer is cured, when the virus is no longer a source of illness – all that is physical healing.

But physical healing is only one aspect of healing.

Many people need relational healing.  I have observed that people who are in “sick” relationships, broken relationships often suffer physically, too.  While obviously someone hurting another person can lead to physical injury – Living in a prolonged way with unresolved anger, or worry, or fear of another person can actually lead to physical problems, physical illnesses.   Reconciliation feels good for a reason, because it’s a step toward healing.

Many people need emotional healing.  We can carry emotional wounds for years.  Experiences of loss, or trauma, or abuse, can leave us emotionally wounded, looking for ways to cope, limping along.  And these things start to interact, right?  For example, we might ease the pain by coping in some unhealthy ways and find ourselves addicted.  Grief over a loss can make it hard to engage a healthy way in our relationships.  We might withdraw – we might try to control people  – and then our relationships get sick, too.  And it can show up physically.  For what it’s worth, I’ve had a powerful experience with emotional healing.  And boy, did it ever help me to forgive myself, to forgive others, and it helped me connect better.  And I felt better!

And of course, there’s also a need for healing in our relationship with God.  Psalm 103 connects forgiveness of sin with healing and thriving.  Sin leads to brokenness with ourselves and our relationships.  Forgiveness from God is often the first step toward other forms of healing.

And get this: God is the healer.  God invites us into that work.

Some people enter healing professions directly.  Physicians, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, nutritionists, trainers.  I am so grateful for these folks.  I am so grateful to count some as friends.  I am grateful for the work healing professionals do.  If you need healing, be sure to seek their help!

But what I’m asking today is this: Healing professional or otherwise – Do you want to be a part of God’s work of healing?  Do you want to bring healing to the wounded, hurting, grieving, ailing people around you?  I Peter 2:9 says we are, through Christ, a “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’ special possession – called to declare the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into a his marvelous light.”  Chosen by God to be a royal priesthood – a priest is an intermediary between God and people.  A priestly ministry is a ministry of representation:  We are called to represent God to this hurting and broken world.  That work definitely extends to healing.  Your call to follow Jesus is a call into healing.

Maybe you are thinking – wait, what?  Me?  A healer?  Like those guys on TV who make it such a big show?  Well no definitely not like those guys.  Healing should never be a shown.  When Jesus healed, he often moved people to a more private setting.  That’s because when Jesus healed, he was acting in love.  Love doesn’t make a scene at someone else’s expense.  But yes you and I – we are called into healing.  Does that raise in reluctance?  If so, you can identify with a guy named Ananias who we read about in Acts 9.  He was a reluctant healer.

Acts 9:10, a guy named Ananias hears the Lord’s voice.  [Read 10-14.]

A little background.  This guy “Saul of Tarsus” had been terrorizing the early church, violently disrupting people’s lives, arresting them, throwing them in jail for following Jesus.  Saul had participated in murders.   Ananias was not eager to go do this act of healing.  He had reservations, which he mentions to the Lord.  [Read 13-14].

Can you relate?  Let me just suggest that the Lord calls his people, all of his people, to be about his healing work.  That might be an easy step for you – but it might be a hard one.  You may have to make some major adjustments like Ananias did.

But the Lord says: [15-16]

So he goes to the house.  And listen to his words.

Brother Saul…  he begins by acknowledging love for someone who had been an enemy.       Jesus changes our relationships with our enemies.

Do you have any enemies?  Any person, or maybe group of people you despise?  If Jesus sent you to them, would you go?  Would you greet them as brother or sister?

He took the time to explain.

And then he lovingly prayed.

I want to draw your attention to two forms of healing.

First – the prayer was for Spiritual healing.  To be filled with the Spirit.  To have God himself living within him.  The physical healing followed.

And two other forms of healing began.  He would always remember the guilt of having terrorized God’s people.  But it became a testimony about the greatness of God’s forgiveness.  And – he began to enter into a loving relationship with the very people he had once hated.

He was healed spiritually.  He was healed physically.  He was healed emotionally.  He was healed relationally.  And Saul of Tarsus would become Paul the Apostle, the writer of half the New Testament.  Ananias got to be a part of that.

Today, I’m just going to leave you with this question and a thought:

First the question: Do you want to be a part of healing?  Are you willing to overcome reluctance to be a part of God’s work of healing.  You know, I suspect that if Ananias had refused, God would have taken care of Saul some other way.  But what a privilege to be a part of that legacy!

And now the thought:  Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, a sixteenth-century Spanish explorer, was the only survivor of a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico, and he was washed ashore on the Texas coast.  A Gulf Coast tribe of Native Americans found Nunez and adopted him.  (Actually, they enslaved him).  But he decided to love them. They were a sad lot, victims of drought and famine, and many of them diseased.  Nunez reported that he had nothing to give them, no scientific knowledge and no medicine.  All he had was himself and prayer.  But to his amazement, in giving them this loving, faithful touch, Nunez began to see the tribe healed.  This is what he said.  “Truly it was to our amazement that the ailing said they were well.  Being Europeans, we thought we had given away to our doctors and priests our ability to heal.  But here it was.  It was ours after all; we were more than we thought we were.” (There’s A Lot More To Health Than Not Being Sick, Bruce Larson, Word Books, 1981, p18)

Is that true for you, too?  Do you know, you and I, we are probably more than we think we are.

Next week, I’m going to wrap up this little series on healing with some practical steps.

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What’s Ailing You? Do You Want To Be Healed? LoveFirst Coast Sunday Message

Anger, anxiety, suspicion, fear, depression…  There is so much of that right now! But none of that captures the life for which we were created.  There is an alternative!  What would that life look like?  Is it available to us?  And do we really want it?
Jesus comes near and asks, “do you want to be healed?”  How will we respond?
This is the day the Lord has made.  We are gathering for worship tonight at the Alexander House (320 S. Buck Board Dr. 32259).  If it’s raining we’ll meet up at Davis Pond Blvd.  Rick Smith is preaching.  Bring a picnic for yourself and family (no sharing due to Corona).  We’ll worship at 7:00.

 

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Seem like hell out there? Let’s gather for worship – because mission matters!

This captures my imagination: Jesus once said that the gates of hell would not prevail against his church.  Wow!  And the church is on the move!  But what is this church Jesus speaks of?  What is it’s clearest, simplest form?  How would you recognize it when you see it?  How is it moving?
At it’s most basic level, you get the church whenever a group comes together for worship, discipleship, and mission, deepening their relationship with God, with one another, and spurring one another on to love and good deeds.  That’s Up-In-and-Out.  That’s the church.
At LoveFirst Coast, we say connection to the church is needed for life on mission.  The way we connect varies, but finding a way to connect is essential.  Without connection, support, prayer, guidance, and mutual encouragement, our life and mission can drift away from the purposes the Lord has for us.  So what do we do?
For now, let’s gather and worship God. We’ll look at scripture for insight.  We will pray for one another.  We’re still being careful about Corona, but it is time to get together.  Meet at the Alexander house at 320 South Buck Board for outdoor worship.  It’s easy to maintain our distance.  Please bring a picnic supper for your family at 6:30 if you’d like to eat with us.  We will celebrate communion (with health in mind).
Come and be encouraged and equipped for life on mission!
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Pentecost Sunday

Happy Pentecost Sunday!

Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most popular verses in America.  But how often have you looked beneath to discover more about the plans God has for us.  When I think of this verse, I often jump to consider what God plans to do for me.  So often, I don’t think about what God’s plans to do in me and through me!  God’s plans for us included the gift of the Holy Spirit – and we celebrate that today!  Listen carefully as Pastor Sara shares from God’s word about who we are, who God is, and what God has done for us!  (13 Minutes)

 

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The Why of Mission

“Start with Why” Simon Sinek says.  What is the “Why” of mission?  Before Jesus sent the apostles out on a mission that is still impacting us today, he spent forty days going the why.  Why are you on mission? (Or why not?)
May the message encourage you and renew your passion for God’s mission!

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Your Mission

Have you been drawn into God’s mission?  Why?  Can I share with you why I’m on mission – because I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same for you?

To explain, let me ask this: What do you think of the idea, the dream, of heaven on earth?  It’s something we pray for every time we pray “…Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Imagine with me what heaven coming to earth would be like.  When heaven comes to earth, fear and anxiety take flight.  When heaven comes to earth, people are valued because God values them.  When heaven comes to earth children are cared for and protected; they receive lavish love because Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.”  When heaven comes to earth, needs are met, forgiveness reigns, people love across differences, grace overcomes every divide, and money and power are used in ways that bring joy, meeting needs and always, always honoring God.  When heaven comes to earth, no one drinks to forget, no one takes drugs to escape, no one takes their own life.  When heaven comes to earth, no one beats up helpless people and posts it on the internet.  There’s no corona, no cancer, and no one saying, “how tragic.”  There is no despair, no cruelty, and no abuse of power.  There is no hunger, no sweat shops, no human trafficking, no injustice of any kind.  When heaven comes to earth families are sustained and supported, people find welcome, abundance,  and the relentless practice of kindness. Generations meet at a common table, virtue is passed on, understood, appreciated, and celebrated. When heaven comes to earth, people thrive.  Courage, hope, faith, love, and joy characterize each day.  No one suffers alone.  No one cries alone.  No one dies alone.  No one ever, ever loses faith, gives up, or fails to love – because heaven has come to earth

I know that some people are on mission to get people to heaven when they leave earth.  Believe in Jesus and go to heaven when you die.  But if we limit mission to that, we miss  the beauty of the vision of what we pray for ever time we pray the Lord’s prayer.  And we forget that heaven coming to earth looks a lot like the life of Jesus!

John 3:16 tells us God loves the world.  Jesus said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  He is at work remaking this messed up sin-filled world. And into that mission, he invites you!  Do you hear his invitation in your heart?  Do you think God may be inviting you into his mission?   

It’s so much bigger than any of us!  So Jesus invites us to pray, and to ask for God’s kingdom to come, for God’s will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  In doing so, he supernaturally invites us into the mission of bringing that about.  He invites us to pray so God can do what he needs to do in each of us so that the world becomes a different place. Mission, heaven coming to earth, starts in us.  

At LoveFirst Coast, we know staying on mission is hard.  It’s harder when you feel like you are doing it alone.  But we believe God has invited you into it and we want to do what we can to help you stay in the game? If you know what I’m talking about (and even if you don’t), there’s a space we are creating every other Monday to help.   

This Monday night, May 25 from 7:00 – 8:30, we’ll focus on remembering why we dare to do this life on mission.  Come and be equipped, encouraged, and prayed for!

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Knowledge, Love, and Action!

Jesus not only brings us into a relationship with himself, he invites us to represent him.  How’s that going where you are?
Sometimes, the problem is not what we know or don’t know – it’s what we do (or don’t do.)   Stepping into God’s mission is one of the hardest things around – and one of the best things we could ever do.
May this message encourage you as you seek to represent Jesus where you are, and give you some ideas about next steps to take!
Just click on the link below!

If you want to learn more about ways to recognize God’s Kingdom, and learn more about shalom, check out the Canyon and the Cross in our discipleship resources, or just click on this link!

Thanks for stopping by!

 

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