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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!
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)
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!
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!
Happy Mother’s Day!
One of the biggest challenges I face for staying on mission is overcoming discouragement. (And you probably know moms face discouragement on the all-important mission of raising kids!) What about you? Do you ever face discouraging voices when trying to do exactly what God is calling you to do?
But God in his grace invites us into his work and into his battles. As we try to answer, we will almost certainly face discouraging voices aimed at stopping us in our tracks. This morning, Pastor Sara Taber brings a message from scripture that offers helpful insight that can help you stay in the game.
This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us worship the
So Corona has kind of changed everything – right? But we are persevering and I hope you are, too. Later tonight, we have an on-line gathering for prayer and to encourage one another for missional living. It’s not the same as sitting at a table or in a living room, but it works for conversation. We don’t try to sing, and when we try to pray as a group, it’s a bit more awkward. But we make it. We have a long standing habit of closing with the Lord’s prayer together. It’s pretty out of sync, but we make it. And it is good to “see” one another. We haven’t tried communion yet. We don’t have plans for that tonight, but for our next gathering we will give it a shot.
Our discipleship gatherings are actually doing pretty well in terms of participation. It seems to be more consistently attended. It feels more leader led – conversation around the group happens less – and while side conversations can be a distraction to the rest of the group, I find them to be generally healthy. It means people are connecting, and new ideas and insights can be brought in to the conversation. That doesn’t happen easily on line, so our conversations are less enriched. However, it is a gift to be able to connect this way. We are grateful!
Sunday worship has been interesting. We’ve been sending out morning messages and have been posting them on-line. So far, it’s just been me, but next week, Sara Taber will bring the message. This is something that we probably wouldn’t have done apart from the Corona pandemic. But the technology is affordable and the internet makes it easy. As our goal is to invite, encourage, and equip people for life on mission, posting on-line is creating a resource that can be tapped over and over again. We’re keeping them short and to the point – fifteen minutes or less. We’d appreciate your prayers for this work.
Lastly, how do you do mission in the neighborhood? In Florida, there’s a rule that limits gatherings to 10, and of course everyone is supposed to be socially distanced. My friend Gregg, who leads a church called Champions Way, told me he organized an Easter worship service in his cul-de-sac. Everyone on the cul-de-sac stayed in their own yard but they pulled off and Easter worship service. Inspired by that, we have been inviting two families to join us in our cul de sac every Sunday. (If you count the dogs, we had thirteen in attendance today.) It’s a good spot for this. Ours is the only house on the cul de sac, so there is plenty of space and it’s out in public, but we aren’t interrupted by cars backing up. The weather has been great. We enjoy shade from our front yard oak tree. I bring my guitar and we sing a bit. I preach a short message based loosely what is posted on the video message. I contextualize it a little for our cul-de-sac congregation. It’s conversational. (Is that worship? Is that “up”?) After worship, we hang out and visit. It’s really nice to be with people, even in that small gathering. Last week, after worship, we all pitched in to help a neighbor with yard work. (Was that mission? Was that “out”?) This week, we talked about some of the challenges of discipling our kids, of raising them in the faith. (Were we encouraging one another? Investing in one another? Was that “in”?) Whenever you see Up-In-and-Out, you are seeing the church. And it hasn’t been hard.
What’s going on where you are? How are you doing life on mission during Corona. By the way, if you are on the front lines of this pandemic, thank you! One of our asides this morning was to remember where our help comes from (Psalm 121). May the Lord be your help, and we are grateful that he is working through you to help. You are in our prayers. And we are also praying that God would stop this disease.
May the Lord be with you!
Here’s a short message for Sunday May 3. Ever felt left behind by the command to “Go to all the world and make disciples”? And what is a disciple anyway? Message from LoveFirst Coast for Sunday – just click on the link!
This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Let us worship the Lord!
There’s too much too report!
But we’re having a gathering on Zoom Sunday night to talk about a rhythm for the season ahead and to pray. If you’d like to be a part of that, email me at email@example.com. If you have a prayer request, you can email the same address – or better yet submit a prayer request by clicking prayer request on the menu.
I’d like to tell you about Pastor Sara Taber coming to work among us, and about her amazing family and the steps they are taking to build missional community in the Gables. I’d like to tell you about Zoom discipleship gatherings. I’d like to tell you about cul de sac, socially distanced worship. I’d like to hear how everyone is doing. And how we miss each other but we’re still grateful for the ability to connect. I’d like to tell you about the creative ways our mission partners are trying to keep things going and about opportunities for mission on the First Coast. I’d like to tell you about some ways to support Young Lives, the young moms and their babies.
I’d like to tell you about praying for revival, about hearts turning to God, and about a real openness to the good news of the gospel. God is at work!
But there’s too much to tell! So hey, if you can, join us Sunday night!
If you are on the LoveFirst Coast email list, look for an email later this week.
And if you missed last weekend’s message, Shouting, Thanking, and Praise, just follow this link. (It’s on YouTube.)