So, today begins our call to 50 days of prayer for Heritage Church. Thank you for being a part of this daily prayer group. March 18th marks 40 days before our Just1 Unity Celebration. 40 days is a period of time that is often recorded in the Bible as a time of preparation, testing or fasting. Consider all of these significant moments in Scripture.
Rain fell for 40 days and nights during the Great Flood of Noah’s day; Jonah gave Ninevah 40 days to repent after he prophesied their destruction; Moses was with the Lord for 40 days and nights when he received the Ten Commandments; Moses sent the spies into the Promised Land for 40 days before they returned with their report; Elijah fasted 40 days without food or water on Mt. Horeb; and, Jesus fasted for 40 days when he was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4).
Our time together on April 26th will allow us to look back at God’s faithfulness, celebrate what He has done, and look forward into the yet to come! As we leave our Just1 Celebration we will be calling our entire church into a 10 day prayer commitment to consecrate ourselves to the Lord and seek Him and His Kingdom first! This additional 10 days of collective prayer will conclude our 50 day journey!
Let’s pray that God will prepare us individually and corporately for a new season of Heritage Church loving and serving the Quad Cities.
” But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
This coming weekend, we will launch into a new series that will take us through our Easter celebration. We’re calling it “Heroes: From ordinary to extraordinary,” and we’re pretty pumped to see how the Lord will use this time in the lives of His People.
Please pray for the people who will come to a Heritage location during this season as we approach the Easter season. Pray they would encounter Jesus in new ways and go from ordinary to extraordinary by HIS power.
Here’s a sneak peek into the series
Heroes: From ordinary to extraordinary
Superman. Captain America. Frodo. Luke Skywalker. Mother Theresa. Martin Luther King Jr. Whether fictional or real, the stories of heroes move and inspire us to want to be more. For most of us our lives feel pretty removed from any heroic potential, but the truth is that we ARE made for more. We encourage you to join us as we explore how we can embark on a journey that moves us from ordinary to extraordinary. [Watch Now]
Feb 28/Mar 1 – The Hero’s Journey – Intro Week
March 7-8 – The Hero’s Journey – Know [Jonathan]
March 14-15 – The Hero’s Journey – Join [Nehemiah]
March 21-22 – The Hero’s Journey – Fight [Hezekiah]
March 28-29 – The Hero’s Journey – Yield [Abraham]
April 3 – [Good Friday] The Hero’s Journey – Yield/Live [Jesus/Thief]
April 4-5 – [Easter] The Hero’s Journey – Live [Jesus]
To Those Who Will Pray –
Jesus once said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) When he said it, he wasn’t being prophetic; but rather he was being honest. He was simply speaking the truth. In fact, in another part of the conversation, he told them that the world would hate them because of their association with him.
Now, I’m not sure what they thought or felt at that moment, but I do know this. They ultimately had peace, and here’s how I know that. It’s because of what Jesus said right after declaring that they would have trouble. He said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In that moment he did what he has done countless times throughout the ages, he gave Himself as the solution to the problem…the answer to the question. He simply offered the reality of who He was, is and is to come; and that right there…in and of itself…is all we need no matter what we face.
In light of the vast trouble in this world, there are a number of ways we could pray in this next season; but I want to invite you to pray in two ways:
- For the persecuted Church around the world
- Our church right here in the QCA
I’ve provided some ways for us to do that together below.
Keep pressing on.
The Church around the world:
:: On Sunday, February 15, ISIS-affiliated terrorists beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians who were kidnapped in Libya. The terror group videotaped the beheadings. Pray for peace in Libya, Egypt, and the entire Middle East, as well as pray for the international community and their response – particularly during Sunday services, February 22.
:: Here are 5 ways to pray from Ephesians:
- Please pray persecuted believers would know the hope God gives (Ephesians 1:8).
- Pray the Holy Spirit would strengthen them (Ephesians 3:16).
- Please pray persecuted believers would know how much God loves them (Ephesians 3:17)
- Pray they would know how to share the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).
- Please pray persecuted believers would fearlessly tell others about Jesus (Ephesians 6:20).
:: How to Pray for Practical Needs
- Please pray persecuted believers would have access to a Bible.
- Pray they have the courage to remain in their homeland.
- Please pray for believers who have been rejected by family and friends. Pray that God would surround them with a new Christian “family” who loves them and supports them emotionally and physically.
- Pray for God to be an advocate for women who are socially vulnerable or have lost the custody of their children because of their faith.
- Please pray that God would provide persecuted believers with jobs and safe places to live.
Our church right here in the QCA
:: This is a busy and important season in the life of our church. We are advancing in our projects related to the Ericsson School building, operationalizing our strategic plan and preparing to launch a new church year…all as we continue to lead the church family to live loved, linked and SENT. It is a time where the Lord must show up, go before us and grant us favor. Please continue to pray that He will continue to do each of those things.
:: Pray for those who made life-changing decisions during our Renovate Series. This was an impactful series for many people. Pray that they would continue to invite God to renovate their lives.
:: Pray that the Heritage Church family will increasingly live linked through the winter Journey Groups, and that through those investments we will be a community that continues to multiplying disciples and leaders.
:: Pray the Lord will lead many people to a salvation experience through new life in Jesus. Pray for spiritual protection and for mature believers to come alongside and disciple them as they lean into that commitment.
:: Pray that the Lord, Jehovah-Nissi [“Our Banner”] will continue to go before us in the Ericsson School Building initiatives and in the preparations for our “Just 1” church celebration at the iWireless Center on April 26. Pray that he would grant us continued favor in every area, resources in all logistics and impact that brings Him glory.
:: Pray by name for the person/people God wants you to invite to connect with Him as we move towards Easter in our Heroes Series. Pray that God would draw many people into relationship with Him as we celebrate the most important event in human history…the resurrection our Lord.
:: Pray for the people who will come to a Heritage location during this season as we approach the Easter season. Pray they would encounter Jesus in new ways and go from ordinary to extraordinary by HIS power.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – Jesus, John 13:34-35
How we approach the mission God has given us…matters.
We can create situations that God is able to work through us or in spite of us. Clearly “through” us is better. None of us ever want to hinder the work God, but how we approach opportunities to live SENT…matters.
Years ago, I came across a quote from former U.S. Senate Chaplain, Dr. Richard Halverson, and it’s stuck with me. He said:
“You can offer your ideas to others as bullets or as seeds. You can shoot them, or sow them: hit people in the head with them, or plant them in their hearts.
“Ideas used as bullets will kill inspiration and neutralize reality in the life in which they are planted.
“The only risk in the seed approach: Once it grows and becomes part of those in whom it’s planted, you probably will get no credit for originating the idea. But if you’re willing to do without the credit . . .you’ll reap a rich harvest.”
Dr. Halverson is right! We don’t have to read very much in the Bible to realize that seed planting is more Biblical than sending rounds down range. It is also more effective; but in our zeal, we can end up turning people away from God instead of toward Him.
As we seek to live SENT, it will continue to be increasingly important to lead with love. It is the mark of a believer. Jesus said it is how people will know we follow Him.
However, we need to communicate the truth in love…not love in truth. [ref. Ephesians 4:15] There is a difference between the two.
Delivering love in truth is the bullet method. It leads with force and impact. It more about information delivery without the context of genuine relationship or sufficient care, and it can hurt more than help. However, communicating truth in love is seed planting. It leads with love. Its rooted in sincere relationship, and it leads to a greater harvest.
It should be our primary delivery system. Planting seeds, not bullets.
The difference between the two is significant, and both have a tremendous ripple.
So…which method are you using in your marriage, family, workplace or any other relationship? It matters.
In Part 2 of this post, we’ll look at some specific steps to help us ensure we are planting more seeds than bullets in all of our live SENT opportunities.
Until then, look for ways to lead with love, and seek to plant seeds that God can use to grow into a great harvest to life change and impact in the people he has positioned in your life.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” – Mark 10:27
Happy New Year! It is 2015, and we are all poised to experience a new year with new opportunities and challenges…successes and failures.
There’s something invigorating about the start of a new year. Each January 1st feels like a fresh start…a new beginning; and its in these moments that we make resolutions.
Sometimes these resolutions are to break an addiction, improve fitness, end a habit or start another. Whatever the specific resolution, we’re typically seeking to be better, healthier, more disciplined and more successful version of ourselves.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with New Years resolutions. They’re goals, and goals are good. They have the potential to help us accomplish things we deem a priority; but for those who make resolutions, the vast majority fail to keep them.
Here are some very interesting statistics released by the Opinion Corporation of Princeton, New Jersey, a few years back:
:: 62% of people make New Years resolutions
:: 8% are successful
:: 19% achieve resolutions every other year on average
:: 24% never succeed and have failed on every resolution every year!
There are lots of reasons why some succeed and others fail. The goal may be too big. The planning may be lacking, which reminds me of the old saying: If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.
That’s true, and I’ll add making a decision based on a date alone or submitting to a date as the means to a better you is a plan to fail. In fact, believing that combining a certain date with willpower will yield different results is simply a recipe for failure.
Real change…real improvement is always only found in Jesus. He is the one that transforms. He is the one who sets free. He is the one who positions us to leave the past behind us to step into a future where we are new creations. [ref. 2 Corinthians 5:17]
To break an addiction, to change behavior or to ultimately become a better version of ourselves requires the power of Christ at work in us…not willpower built on a new year.
A New Year resolutions plan that can position anyone for success starts and ends with submitting to God and not a calendar date.
Dwight L. Moody once said, “If God is your partner, make your plans BIG!”
He was right!
That being said, I encourage you to take a few moments right now to pray. Seek the face of the only one who can transform you into all you can be in 2015.
Know that I’ll be praying for you as you do.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
In 1914, the celebration of Jesus’ birth brought a literal peace to war during World War I in one region of Belgium.
The cease-fire now known as the “Christmas truce” began on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches for Christmas. They started by placing candles on trees, and then continued by singing Christmas carols. Silent Night was one particularly significant song.
When the British troops in the trenches across from them heard them, they responded with singing, too. The two sides continued singing and then shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon, there were calls for visits across the killing fields. These warriors then met in “No Man’s Land”, which was the area between the trenches, to exchange small gifts like chocolate and jam. 
So the birth of the Prince of Peace once again brought peace as the soldiers met and exchanged presents.
This weekend as part of Christmas celebration will will dig into how the presence of God brings peace!
Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us,” and he is the Prince of Peace. He brings peace. He commands peace. He offers peace. He provides it to those who will receive it. [ref. John 14:27]
Is there an area of your life in conflict this Christmas?
Do you need to experience the peace of Christ?
Maybe you need to call a truce with someone in your family or workplace; or perhaps you need to call a truce with God and quit wrestling with Him.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, brings peace into any and every situation. His presence changes everything: in war, in families, and even in our private lives.
Christmas makes true peace possible. No matter what we are facing or dealing with, Emmanuel allows us to know His Peace.
Having His peace does not mean there is no conflict, trouble or difficulty. No. The peace of God means we are at peace in our hearts and minds in the midst of those things.
We may desire peace; but even when we work at it, doubt, uncertainty, fear, worry, anxiety…even sin…can creep in and create conflict with in us. True peace is found only in a relationship with Jesus.
If your life is marked by stress, worry, conflict, fear or a lack of peace in any area, ask Jesus to fill you with His peace. His peace is a gift and it passes understanding. [ref. Philippians 4:7]
 Information obtained and adapted from Wikipedia.
So invite a friend and we’ll see you there.
Once the holiday season starts there is an inherent busyness and rituals of preparation that we begin to engage with. Some of these are comforting and remind us of wonderful memories, favorite people, and special experiences. Our expectations often run highest at Christmas as we look toward December 25th!
The reality is though that some of our focus during the holidays can leave us empty, tired, and wondering if there might be more. Before Christmas arrives this year, we invite you to look for new ways to prepare your heart, family, and home to experience the Hope that the Christ of CHRISTmas brings.
24: Purity [Candlelight Service]
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
This Thanksgiving, I am keenly aware that our God works and moves at levels and times that I cannot even begin to comprehend. The fact that He was and is and is to come blows my mind! He moves in the realms of yesterday and tomorrow. Paul wrote, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [Colossians 1:17]
That is incredible!
Thanksgiving provides an occasion to recognize and thank our God who functions like that. He works and moves in ways that position people and circumstances to accomplish His purposes and bring Himself glory.
God is always working beyond our knowledge and understanding.
Just consider the circumstances surrounding the pilgrims on that first Thanksgiving Day. Although there is some debate about this, there is an incredibly cool story about how God used one young man’s journey to make a huge difference. It is the story of a Native American named Tisquantum of the Patuxet tribe. His story involves being kidnapped in 1608 and sold into slavery in Spain. However, by God’s providence, he was sold to monks who not only provide instruction about language, faith and God; but they also provide him with freedom. Eventually, Tisquantum is able to travel back to his home after ten years only to find his people are all gone. A terrible sickness killed them all.
Tisquantum was the only one left from his tribe, but the story does not end in the despair. Ultimately, Tisquantum, more commonly known as Squanto, would befriend Englishmen, called pilgrims. He would help them learn to live in their new land; and when the first autumn came, they held a feast to thank God and celebrate his merciful blessings.
That, my friends, is a story of a God who works and moves in extraordinary ways. More details are recorded in a book called Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, by Eric Metaxas; and our family has taken time to read this story as part of our Thanksgiving day celebration. The final lines of the book capture the impact of God’s higher ways:
Hallelujah! Who but the Glorious God of Heaven could so miraculously weave together the wandering lives of a lonely Patuxet brave and a struggling band of English Pilgrims in such a way that would bless the whole world for centuries to come?
Here’s the thing. If you follow Jesus Christ, you will be led into situations this Thanksgiving where he wants to work through you. Make the most of those opportunities. Love well. Forgive much. Live with hearts filled with joy & praise.
If you have not yet given your life to Jesus, today could be the day. God will bring opportunities before you this week where you can choose to be reconciled to Him through Jesus. Do it!
Stop striving in vain.
Start a relationship with Jesus. If you are ready to take that step, you can even do that right now by taking the following steps.
- Admit that you, like everyone else, are a sinner.
- Ask for forgiveness from God.
- Start a relationship with God by trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
You can do that right now by simply talking to God in a prayer like this:
Dear Lord Jesus: I know I am a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the dead. I trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I give all I am to all of you. In your name I pray, amen.
“To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.”
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
To Those Who Will Pray –
Did you know that the entire Gospel of John is summarized in one verse?
After writing 20 chapters, John succinctly records the ultimate purpose in preparing this book. It is in verse 31 of chapter 20, which says he wrote so that you and I “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
He wrote so others may have life in Jesus, and that is the same reason we ought to pray. It should be the greatest reason we are praying.
E. M. Bounds once wrote, “Prayer is God’s settled and singular condition to move ahead His Son’s Kingdom.” If that is true…and I believe it is…then prayer must become our utmost focus.
It must be the thing we did yesterday, the thing we do today and the thing we do tomorrow. All other activities must take their proper place behind this most prominent calling.
As you approach the throne of God this month, go with confidence and determination so that all “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [they] may have life in His name.”
Keep pressing on,
When the last lifeboats were launched from the Dorchester, the chaplains prayed with the soldiers who couldn’t escape the sinking ship.
27 minutes after the torpedo struck the Dorchester, it disappeared below the waves with 672 men still aboard. The last anyone saw of the chaplains, they were standing on the deck, arms linked and praying together.
One survivor recalled what he saw from the water: “The last thing I saw, the four chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”
Of the 940 men aboard the Dorchester, only 230 survived. Many of those who did, and specifically four owed their lives to the clergymen who were found to be adequate for the task.
The dictionary defines adequate as: as much or as good as necessary for some requirement or purpose; fully sufficient, suitable, or fit. Synonym: sufficient.
Did God make Clark adequate? Sufficient?
Absolutely! Chaplain Poling was adequate because God made him so. Poling selflessly gave so another could live.
The Apostle Paul wrote about sufficiency. He said, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” [Philippians 1:20]
What would it look like for you to be more sufficient?
What about us as a church?
We don’t have to be at war on sinking ship to experience that kind of adequacy, but we do need to have as Paul said “sufficient courage”…to live well in every circumstance so that Christ is exalted in our bodies…by life or death.
What is adequate…fully sufficient…in your life? What isn’t?
Take a few moments right now and talk to God about what areas of your life are adequate and which are not.
Then ask him to make your life adequate instead of safe.
But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9
[Source of pictures & facts: Wikipedia]