He is Risen!

Matthew 27:57-66; I Corinthians 15:1-19….12 But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is THE defining event of Christianity.  That makes Easter the most important celebration we recognize throughout the year.  The resurrection of Jesus is so critical to Christianity that without it, there would be no Christianity.

I love to watch history shows and time travel shows that raise the question, “What would the world be like if this happened or didn’t happen?”  The question I would raise is this, what difference would it make if Jesus were not raised from the dead?

The religious and political leaders who led the way for Jesus’ death sentence would most likely have had nothing to concern themselves with if Jesus were not raised.  Matthew tells us that the religious leaders had to conspire with the guards from the tomb to fabricate a story that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body in order to try to cover up the resurrection.  But if Jesus were not raised, they would have been able to simply show people his body in the tomb.

For the disciples, on the other hand, it makes a great deal of difference whether or not Jesus was actually raised.  The disciples are repeatedly described as fearful, doubtful and disbelieving regarding Jesus resurrection.  It took a great deal to convince them of his physical resurrection.  But once they were convinced, it radically changed their lives.  Each one went forth willing to suffer prison, beatings and even death in order to spread the good news about Jesus resurrection.  The resurrection of Jesus is central to Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.  In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul highlights the significance of the resurrection to the message stating unequivocally that if Jesus was not raised from the dead then their preaching and faith in him is completely worthless.

The Apostle Paul further makes it clear that the message about Jesus’ resurrection is founded on evidence not wishful thinking or fabrication.   He lists numerous individuals and a crowd of 500, many of whom were still living, who were witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection.  He also mentions the fact that the events of Jesus ministry, death and resurrection, were the fulfillment of scripture where they had been forecast long before they came to be.  Then he describes the effect of his own personal encounter with Jesus and the dramatic way in which the risen savior had completely changed his life.  These three elements continue to offer confirmation of the resurrection of Jesus for believers today: the testimony of the disciples contained in the New Testament, the confirmation of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and our personal experience of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.

1.  How do these three elements impact your response to Jesus?

2.  The following  link is for an article that outlines a series of evidence based arguments for the validity of the resurrection.  A professor I had in college once said that the logical proofs for the existence of God may not convince you to believe in God, but they prove that it is not mere whimsy or stupidity to believe in God.  Discuss the article with others and consider how it supports you in your faith and how it may help others consider faith in Jesus.  http://crossexamined.org/10-reasons-accept-resurrection-jesus-historical-fact/

3.  What would your life be like if Jesus had not risen from the dead?

Unexpected Endings

Scripture highlights: John 12:12-19; 23-27; Luke 19:28-44; 22:31-35

I’m late again this week getting out my blog on this bright sunny Monday – it’s not because I’ve been out enjoying it!  Neither rain nor hail nor sunny day will keep me from getting done, eventually.

We celebrate on Palm Sunday, what we generally call the triumphant entry.  Jesus entered Jerusalem with a fanfare of shouts, people waving palms (As we would wave a giant foam finger shouting, “You’re number one!”), and laying their coats in his path like a red carpet of welcome and adulation.  Jesus week leading up to Easter started off that way, but the week would not continue with such jubilance.  There would be a lot turns that were unexpected by the people around him.  Betrayal, beatings, crucifixion, and death will follow.

We have all been there.  Everything started off with great promise then life went sideways and the unexpected has put you in a crisis.  With this message I felt an accumulated sense of burden for people facing great difficulties in life.  A job that promised security that was lost or one that promised a satisfying occupation that turned into a hated drudgery.  It may have been a friendship that turned bitter.  For you it may have started off as your year, then your health failed.  Many live the heartache of a child that has turned away and is lost in dangerous behavior.  Some of you remember a wedding day filled with excitement but now wonder how you ever could have gotten into this situation.  Unexpected endings.

1.  What is your unexpected turn of events?  How did it start with hopeful promise and how did it turn into a terrible challenge?  What did you do to navigate it?

Sometimes we imagine that if we just knew the future we would be able to go forward in a strong and fearless manner.  But that is not assured.  Even though this is a common prayer, we do not always accept God’s will when it is revealed.  Jesus knew what lay ahead and he even tried repeatedly to tell the disciples, but every time he did the disciples responded with confusion or argued with him.  The greatest obstacle to knowing the will of God is our willingness to debate God, rather than obey God.  Jesus knew the future and yet he proceeded.  He was willing to suffer and die for our sin.  In fact, when Jesus saw the city of Jerusalem he was moved to tears.  But his tears were not for himself.  He looked into the future of his people and that city and wept over them, not himself.  His longing was to was to draw us into his embrace.  He wanted to simply reach out and get his arms around you and pull you in close.

2.  Many wonder, if Christ loves us so, why would he allow us to go through crisis?  I have found that people who best navigate crises with faith are those who have a well cultivated, daily walk with Christ.  How is your daily walk with Christ preparing you to live in all circumstances?

Jesus encouraged his disciples at one point during the last supper by asking them to remember the way they went out on a mission journey and God provided completely. Remembering is key to hope.  Remembering what God has done is the source of light that shines on your present moment to give you hope.  God has provided.  God has restored. God has healed.  God can meet the present need, will guide me through, and has an answer.  That light from behind is what shines forward to give a pin dot of light in front of you to lead you forward.

3.  What challenges are you facing?  Create a list of past providence, a list of the times God has come through in the pinch.  Give thanks.  Make it a daily practice to give thanks.  Hope will follow and faith will emerge stronger.

Sometimes when facing overwhelming challenges, temptations, and battles the only option we have is simply to obey God.  I am very open with the fact that Janice and I are not perfect (She is closer to perfect than me, of course!).  We are strong personalities and sharing life together is not always a smooth ride.  Either of us can be selfish.  I thank God for his presence in our lives!  He is our deliverer.  In the midst of times when conflict could take over and destroy our relationship, God interrupts.  God’s word, the Holy Spirit, and his salvation in us demands certain things of us.  A good dose of the fear of the Lord can be good medicine.  God requires of me that I love and lift up my wife!  God interrupts my selfish, self pitying, self serving fat headed attitudes.  He forces me to stop, listen, care and respond to my partner.  Without that outside intervention, we could be lost.  Our response, is not conditioned on feeling like, it is obedience.

4.  In Philippians 2, we are called on to have the attitude that Jesus had.  Jesus was humble and obedient, even to death on the cross.  Are you humble before God?  Does that humility produce obedience?  How has obedience opened the way to God’s greater blessing?  Has obedience allowed God to be your deliverer?

Jesus wants to just get his arms around you and draw you in, remember that.  At a critical turning point in our oldest daughter’s life, she let her walls down and let God in. Her description of that moment was that it was like God wrapped his arms around her and gave her a great bear hug.  In the midst of your crisis, God may be shaking you, waking you, demanding your attention, but nonetheless, he will not let go.  Let God get his arms around you today.

 

 

 

from Served to Server

John 13:1-17 Jesus washed the disciples feet, modeling a servant leader’s attitude & actions. Mark 10:41-45 “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.…For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus turns everything on its head.  Our natural attitude in life is to hope to advance in life so that we no longer have to wait on others, we want to be the one served.  We want to be a consumer who gets what we want.  We want to choose the channel and watch our show.  Jesus wants something else.  He wants servant leaders.  The disciples struggled with this.  They vied with each other to claim the top spot next to Jesus.  They even argued with Jesus when he told them his plans.  Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.…For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

Being a servant requires a selflessness.  That is, the ability to set ones own needs and interests aside for the sake of others.  Many of us find it hard to switch from being consumers to being servers.  This requires that we change focus to others instead of ourselves. Consumers look for what they want, servers look out for others.  This is an essential transformation in the christian in order to truly be like Christ.

Are you a consumer or a server at church?  In other words, do you think that everything should be done the way you prefer?  Do you go to church to sit and be served or to serve others?  Do you think that it is more important that things at church should suit members or that things should be done in a way the reaches out to new people.

Servant leaders do not lead for their own purpose or fulfillment.  They treat those who serve under their direction as partners, not as their servants.  They build teams with common purpose.  Vous Church in Florida describes it like this, “If you’re too big to serve then you are too small to lead.”

How can a leader also be a servant?   How do you stack up as a servant leader?  How important is it for you to become a servant leader?

It is essential that everyone find something they can do.  One of the marks of spiritual maturity is that we go beyond being a consumer and begin to serve God and others. What you do is not as important as the need for you to get involved.  Look for a place to contribute.  Look for something you CAN do and offer to do it.  its often the little things that go undone.  The little things that can fill the gaps in welcoming someone new when they come in the door, you can do.  The little things that can be done to show hospitality to guests with coffee and personal care, you can do.  The little things that help a class full of kids to be safe and well cared for, you can do.  We can go on and on.  If you are waiting for something special, something that excites your passion, something that will be worth your time or something to hit you with a lightning bolt of inspiration, you are waiting for the wrong thing.  Grab hold of some little thing you can do and do it!

What can you do?  If you are not doing it, why not?  

We are busily working to produce a list of the serve needs that we have in church every week to help you to find something you can do.  Watch for it in the next two weeks and enter in to Serve.

 

 

 

Growing in Circles

Growing in circles is about how we join together to grow, not by sitting in rows facing a wall, but by facing each other in a circle.  A small group where we can grow together.

What does it mean for us to grow?  Our goal is to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples.  Hebrews highlights three areas of growth to be concerned about:

  • Transformation – A disciple of Christ must live a life transformed by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. (Heb 3:12)
  • Transferal – The gospel of Christ must be transfer, passed on, to others to be disciples who make disciples. (Heb 5:11-14)
  • Transience – Disciples must be consistent, not transient or indifferent, about getting together in order to grow and serve Christ fully and effectively. (Heb 10:23-25)

In Church we offer a lot of different kinds of groups aimed at helping us grow as a disciple of Jesus.  There are social groups that mainly bring people together for fun and fellowship.  There are Bible studies and classes that educate us with important information.  There are prayer groups for that purpose.  We need another kind of small group that could be called transformational.  Transformational groups are different from all the other types of groups, although they incorporate elements from all of them.  A group that is transformational will have these characteristics:

  • Rooting for Each other – This is a circle of people who want to help each other grow in Christ to maturity and to experience God’s best.
  • Open about Struggles – Trust invites members to be open and honest about their hopes and struggles as they seek to live for Christ.  This allows members to respond to each other and receive instruction with encouragement to follow Christ faithfully.
  • Learn to Ask and Answer Spiritual Questions – Many people cannot share their faith because they have not cultivated the ability to ask or answer spiritual questions.  These groups become the training ground for witnesses of Christ’s salvation.
  • Grow Together – By uniting together consistently, seeking to serve the Lord, we intentionally build one another up as the body of Christ.

Bible studies alone, prayer meetings alone, attending worship alone will not produce Disciples Who Make Disciples.  This requires intentionally pursuing discipleship together.  Many people were stirred when I said that we can’t attend church our whole life and still keep crying that we’re not being fed.  We can’t expect to be fed by someone else like we were incapable of feeding ourselves.  I declared that we have to pick up a spoon and put it in our own mouth! The real distinction of maturity is that we have learned how to serve others the good news about Jesus.  That’s what transformational groups are all about.  Taking the spoon in hand, making up our minds to get together with others on a consistent basis to encourage and motivate each other to live for Christ.  Together we learn to ask and answer spiritual questions. That not only enables us to better live in Christ, but to tell others what Christ has done.

I am dedicated to talking about this and working until we can establish transformational groups that will turn us into a church that is fully equipped to share Christ with our community and the world.  Are you ready to take a step forward in your walk with God? Let me know that you want to gain the preparation and support to begin a group to transform lives.

Take these steps next.

  1. Pray asking:  who, how, when?  Who would God lead you to meet with?  A friend from work, another Christian couple or a neighbor?
  2. Invite someONE!  You can begin by inviting one other person or couple to join you to talk about the weekly message, to read a devotional and talk about it, to watch a video series or just to get together for a weekly spiritual check up.  Then see how God leads from there.
  3. You could begin by simply inviting someone to dinner or coffee.  Maybe it could become habit forming!  How long has it been since you’ve invited someone to dinner or coffee because you are interested in their spiritual growth and you want to really get to know them?
  4. Now sign up!  Let me know that you want help to take that step forward.  We are building a team.  Join that team today!

 

A Question of Connection

Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. 2 Cor 5:11 NLT

We have a fearful responsibility to the Lord, but what is it?  Is it to be a good person?  That is what many of us think.  In fear of the Lord I must be good.  Though there is truth to that, this verse casts a different vision.  We have a fearful responsibility to work hard to persuade others to turn to Christ for salvation.  If you and I are not good, we will have a hard time convincing anyone that God is good.  If we are not loving and compassionate, we will not convince anyone that God loves them.  So being good matters because it not only betters our lives but it lets us make the character of God visible to others and it lets us touch others as the Body of Christ.

At Galloway, our mission is to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples.  Connect-Grow-Serve highlight the process we follow to accomplish our mission.  Our motto, which characterizes this process, is that we transform people through Christ, one relationship at a time.  Connect-Grow-Serve are not programs.  CGS drive the questions that shape our programs.  A key question that Connect drives home is simply this, What are we connecting people to in this program?

For example, if we are program driven we may begin to believe that if we can attract people to a program that we have accomplished our mission.  Thus we will concentrate on making the program attractive, even spectacular.  I shared the story of the experience Janice and I had in working to start a youth group in a church many years ago.  We thought that the youth would be impressed if we promised to take them to Hershey Park for something really BIG and EXCITING!  They just yawned, been there, done that.  It forced us to completely change our outlook on what matters most.  We started doing little get togethers and outings that helped them to build relationships with one another and with us.  We realized that they had to care about being with each other if we were ever going to have a group that would show up and listen to what we could share with each other.  The backbone of our Galloway Youth is the breakout time they do at meetings were they get the chance to know one another and grow as their leaders help them search for real life answers from God.

What if we apply this to other ministries?  I love talking about our Free4All ministry through which we give away clothes each week on Wednesday nights.  Obviously we connect people with clothes there.  But is that all we can do for people?  Is that our best gift and our highest goal?  Are we transforming people through Christ, one relationship at a time? Are we connecting people with people, who can connect people with God?  Ok, if we embrace the priority that the mission to make a connection with people should stand above making a connection with clothes (Connecting with clothes is not small thing-it is important!) then we ask, how do we resource the ministry to do that well?

On any given Wednesday we may have as many as 6-10 dedicated volunteers working in the Free4All.  What are they doing?  Most are focused on sorting clothes, hanging clothes, and placing clothes on racks.  Only 1 or 2 people are focused entirely on connecting with people by greeting them, helping them shop, and otherwise engaging them in conversation. IHere’s how I would like to see our staffing breakdown.  6-8 people working on clothes.  6-8 people working with people – 1+ greeter (who also keeps count of how many people we serve), 1+ hospitality (serving cold water and hot water for coffee, tea or hot chocolate), 4-5 who help people shop and get to know them.  Where do you see yourself in that lineup?  By the way, we need women and men.

Let’s look at our children’s ministry for a moment.  For the past year I have been emphasizing our need to build a stronger team ministry.  If we consider our mission you will recognize why.  Just like youth ministry we can get caught up in building a program and not actually pursue a mission.  We have a mission to lead our kids to:

  1. Connect through faith with Jesus as their Savior and to build up relationships with their parents, teachers, mentors and other kids.
  2. These are the relationships that will help them Grow as young Christians in knowledge and understanding of the Bible, in the ability to pray, to worship, to be led by the Holy Spirit and to put God first in their life.
  3. As they grow we want them to learn to Serve God using the gifts God has given them and to share their faith in meaningful ways with others.

If we are going to build relationships the way we want to, how does that define what we do?  To begin with, it tells us that we need people and why we need them.  If we have a group of kids gathered for Galloway Kids Ministry how many people do we need?  A minimum of two are required to create a safe environment for the kids and the leaders.  Now multiply that by the number of different age groups of kids and different time slots.  What if the groups is made up of 20 kids, how many adults do we need.  There are guidelines frequently used to set adult to child ratios depending on the age group that we can use as a guide, but why do they matter?  Well, it helps maintain discipline, it provides more hands to do the work with kids in a large group.  But more importantly, it helps us to build Connections with kids.  Think of the impact of a room staffed with plenty of excited and invested adults who are there to build bonds with kids as teachers and mentors instead of just one teacher and one helper on duty.  Think of the lifelong impact on kids who see that level of commitment and dedication from their adult leaders!  Obviously this takes a team committed to making connections with kids and a passion to help them connect with Jesus.  A director and a few helpers cannot accomplish these goals, only a chorus of hard working, dedicated, and passionate people working together can do it.  What about the families?  If our mission includes connecting with the parents, what must we do?  Of course, communication through every media is vital but what can we do to help build more than a drop off program for parents.  Consider this, we use a computer based check in system.  Why?  To ensure a safe and secure environment for our kids.  But, on a Sunday morning, what do we want parents to connect with, a computer?  For years it has broken my heart to see us understaffed for our kid ministry both inside and outside of the classroom.  That under staffing has forced our leaders including our directors to remain always in the class room and gives little opportunity for anyone to connect with parents.  In fact, we have seldom had someone consistently present at the check in stations that are at the entrance to those ministries.  Directors and other leaders don’t get opportunity to get to know and engage parents and family members and parents don’t get to know them.  There are thus missed opportunities to invite families to take a step further involving themselves in the church or even in Galloway Kids Ministry.  So what do we want to connect families to, a computer, a piece of paper communicating policies or a person?

We can, and should, press further these questions in regard to all our programs in all our areas of ministry.  Take some time to explore these questions below and find someone to discuss them with this week.  Pray over these areas of ministry and ask, is this my area of calling?

  1.  Think about ministries you are or have been involved in recently.
  • What was that ministries mission?
  • What was it trying to connect people with?
  • Was it with a service like clothes or a program of some kind?
  • Has it accomplished the higher goal of connecting people with people, who can connect people with God?

2.  I asked in my message, How connected are you?  I asked this at both the beginning and the end of the message.  

  • At the beginning of the message, the question focused on whether you feel like an outsider or do you feel connected?  It also asked if you feel relevant to the church. How do you answer that question, How connected are you?
  • At the end of the message, the question changed to focus on how connected you are to others as a person who has an important role in connecting others to God.  How connected are you to others who need to make a connection with God?  How connected are you to other Christians in helping them grow in Christ?

3.  Did this message inspire you to become a connection builder?  Where and how?  Is it at home or work, kids or youth ministry, Trail Life scouting ministry, Free4All, Sunday morning welcome team, or some other area of ministry?  Are you going to reach out to seek opportunity to make a connection?

 

Seed Time to Harvest

Running late but still working on the Monday morning blog 0n Monday evening!

Last week, Mike Cable shared his story with us on Sunday morning  (see previous blog and listen at http://gallowaychurch.org/sermons ).  The whole time I was listening to him I was thinking, “This is what Church is all about!”  What do you think?  What is Church all about?  More specifically, what are we all about here at Galloway?  That was our big question this week.

I have been seeking God hungry for the vision needed to lead Galloway since I came as pastor nearly four years ago.  Initially, I hoped to find a ready made direction already embedded in the congregation from previous leaders.  Even so I could not discern a clear sense of mission present.  So I considered what the church had been known for at various points in its history to understand that journey – charismatic cutting edge contemporary worship, powerhouse youth ministry, children/family ministry, and great leaders.  Each of these have served to some degree to provide the branding that helped distinguish the ministry at Galloway.  Each has had a season as programs have grown and then changed.  It is normal for programs to have a season and for God to move us on to what comes next.  For their season each of these, I believe, have given some sense of identity to Galloway.  This, however, may prove a problem if we have built our identity on a program that really doesn’t express our vision in a way that the whole church can embrace beyond the program.  Why, because we need a vision that provides continuity to all of our programs, that maintains our sense of purpose and identity no matter what programs come and go.

cgs logo 150Connect-Grow-Serve are words that we have had on materials and banners for a couple of years now.  I have been working to articulate and apply this as a ministry model to unite our efforts.  What is CGS about?  Connect-Grow-Serve is a PROCESS FOR MAKING DISCIPLES.  CGS is not a program or a set of programs.  A process for making disciples describes the way we are given to help someone make a connection with God and grow as a disciple of Christ.

Mark 4:26-29 describes the kingdom of God as a farmer planting seeds and after an amazingly mysterious period of growth that only God fully grasps and enables, the farmer harvests the fruit from the field.  Anyone who has gardened understands that growth is a process that they can’t control but they can contribute to that process with water and care. In I Corinthians 3:1-9 the Apostle Paul applies this very clearly to the process of making disciples.  Disciples grow from worldly people through spiritual infancy to maturity.  Paul described the process at Corinth, where he had planted seeds and another teacher named Apollos watered them and God made them grow.

DISCIPLES MAKE DISCIPLES WHO MAKE DISCIPLES.  In the next three weeks I will unpack each area of focus as a part of the process and share practical next steps for us.  We will continue to characterize this process with the more descriptive expression we have been using:  Transforming people through Christ, one relationship at a time.

I have some questions to leave you with, please give them some thought and discuss them with a friend or small group.  You may even want to send me a reply to offer your responses.

  1. What is Church all about?  In my view, Mike’s story provides a snapshot of what Church is all about-someone becoming a disciple who makes disciples.  Do you have a snapshot in your own life story?
  2. A friend of mine raised an important question.  How do we help a person grow from a starting point of faith to being a growing disciple of Christ?  What are the ways we can help that process along?
  3. How should MAKING DISCIPLES WHO MAKE DISCIPLES shape our ministry?

 

Seeds of Faith

Listen to sermons at http://www.gallowaychurch.org

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”  Mark 4:30-32 NIV

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it [a demon] out?”  He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-21 NIV

Mr Mike Cable was our guest speaker for Sunday morning.  Mike and I had been talking about some recent events in his life through which God was bringing hopes and dreams to fruition.  Initially, I asked him to share a quick testimony but as events continued to unfold Mike realized more and more the ways in which God was bringing together seeds of faith that had been planted in his life many years before.  Mike’s story is a great inspiration and he brought us all a powerful challenge.

Mike moved to this area when he was about 12.  Soon after they moved in, a neighbor, who was an attorney and an active member at Galloway, invited his family to church.  They accepted the invitation and visited Galloway just once.  After that his involvement with church was scant at best.

About five years ago, Mike made some stupid mistakes and landed in prison.  This is a bad place to go, but the story didn’t end badly.  Prison became a catalyst for change in his life.  During his four months and twenty-two days in prison, he was introduced to the Bible and to Jesus Christ in a way like never before. One of the people he encountered while there was his old neighbor who had invited him to church at Galloway.  When Mike was released he immediately went looking for a church to help him grow in his new found faith.  Where did he go?  Even though his old friend no longer attended Galloway, that was the one church Mike remembered visiting.  He has been a faithful attender for the past five years jumping in wherever he could to learn, grow, and give.  Seeds a neighbor planted years before finally bore fruit.

Mike has been actively involved in developing our men’s ministry and getting men involved in hands on work in our church and community.  This has led to an active role with Mustard Seed Missions.  This is a ministry in Venango County that partners with County agencies to meet needs of the poor and disadvantaged in our area.  Part of that effort includes providing furniture and appliances to families in need.  Mike has been recruiting men from Galloway and other churches to help deliver these items.  Last month we completed our ONE THING  project for Jan/Feb collecting sheets and blankets for Mustard Seed (go to our website to learn more about our One Thing monthly projects). Mike shared firsthand reports of delivering beds that those sheets and blankets cover. Mike emphasized that the motivation for delivering these items to families is more than just giving people stuff.  All of those deliveries, all the furniture, appliances and bedding are seeds of hope and faith sown into families in need.

Mike is the product of others who had done so for him.  He uses every opportunity to give that gift to others.  Mike challenged us all to go and sow seeds of hope and faith.

Take a few minutes to read the following questions and reflect on them or discuss them with a friend or a small group.

Mike gave us all a packet of mustard seeds.  He brought to light the significance of the mustard seed in the parables Jesus told about it.  He pointed out how small the seed is and yet how large and powerful it can be when put to use.  This is the way faith works as well.  He drew a meaningful distinction between having “little faith” and “small faith”.  He noted that the disciples were ineffective because they had “little faith” but Jesus said that even “small faith” likened to a mustard seed can move mountains.  Mike helped us to see that, whereas, “little faith” (wavering, uninvested) can’t do much even, a small amount of rock solid faith in Jesus can produce dramatic results.

  1. How would you describe your faith – little and ineffective or small but solid?  Why?
  2. Can you look back on your life and see where others planted seeds in your life?  How did that help you to gain and to grow in faith?
  3. Mike challenged all of us to make the investment in planting seeds of hope and faith. He said no matter whether we are young or old, busy working or retired, we have no excuse.  We can plant seeds in others lives if it is just in persistently praying for another to know the Lord. So, what about you?  How are you doing?  Have you decided you are too young, old, busy, or whatever?