Definition of Lifer:
One who belongs to Jesus, and chooses to join with like-minded believers at Life Community Church to worship Him, serve Him, and make Him known among an ever-changing community to find fulfillment in following the never-changing Christ
I can’t believe the Grayson’s have been in North Carolina for almost two months already! Time really does fly when you’re having fun! I want to thank you for your kindness and sincere welcoming of me and my family.
This Sunday, we will conclude our series on The Harvest. I pray God has changed you and given you a deeper love for Him and desire for sharing the gospel with a world who desperately needs Him.
As you continue to pray for this Sunday, I want to challenge you to go one step farther. I want to ask you to begin a fast with me on Saturday from 12:00pm until Sunday 12:00pm. I realize, for some of you, because of medical or other reasons, you won’t be able to fast the entire 24 hours. If that's you, would you consider fasting a meal, from social media, or from something that you feel you can’t live without?
Some of you may not be familiar with the examples and commands in Scripture to fast and pray. (Joel 1:14, Matt.6:16-18, Acts 13:2-3) Here is my personal definition that might help you understand the purpose of this particular fast.
First of all, let me explain what fasting is NOT.
So, what is fasting?
So why am I asking Life Community to join me in fasting? We fast because we’re hungry for God’s Word and God’s Spirit in our lives. We fast because we long for God’s glory to resound in the church and God’s praise to resound among the nations. We fast because we yearn for God’s Son to return and God’s kingdom to come.
We fast simply because we want God more than we want anything this world has to offer us.
So, LCC, would you join me? Let’s fast for a deeper love and hunger of God. Let’s fast and pray, "Lord, here am I, send me." Let’s fast and pray that many would come this Sunday who do not know Jesus as Lord but would meet Him that day in a saving way!
“Desires for other things”—there’s the enemy. And the only weapon that will triumph is a deeper hunger for God. The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with “other things.” Perhaps, then, the denial of our stomach’s appetite for food might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. What is at stake is not just the good of our souls, but also the glory of God. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. The fight of faith is a fight to feast on all that God is for us in Christ.
"What we hunger for most, we worship.” – John Piper in A Hunger for God
I love you, church! Let’s expect God to move mightily!
I’m so excited about the addition to our ministry team here at LCC. Pastor Chad Grayson is a great encourager who shares my heart and the heart of our Lord concerning reaching a lost world with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. Noah Darnell is a gifted young man who is willing to do whatever it takes and is excited about joining Greg Ottaway in leading us in worship. We’ve been blessed, and God is preparing us to join Him for a supernatural work in the Triad.
As we’ve begun this transition, many don’t know what to say to me. That's okay. I don’t know what to say either. I just know that Jesus is my life, and He called me to this church. He entrusted me with this church, and I have the responsibility not only to lead it, but as a visionary, to prepare His body -- His bride -- for the future. It’s never been about me. It’s always about our Lord and His church, this body of believers.
God has called us to be light in a world that is dark. He has called us to be salt in a world that is no longer thirsty for the God who created us. He loved us, died for us and now offers us peace, love, joy, fulfillment and contentment. God has called us to be “all in” -- to go into all the world and proclaim the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. He’s called us to be Great Commission Christians!
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matt. 28:19-20)
The Great Commission could be completed in our generation. We have unprecedented opportunity, technology and resources. But it requires Spirit-filled believers who haven’t gotten over where Christ has brought them from and what He has done in their lives. The great author and preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “I would not hesitate to say that there is no more thorough test of our individual profession of faith than our attitude toward the missionary enterprise of the church.”
God is calling us out so that one day when He calls us up, He can say “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I mentioned this recently on Facebook, but for those who didn’t read it let me say it again: The central issue of the church is not growth but health! When the church is healthy, growth will be a natural byproduct.
The older I get, the less concern I have with what I have or have not done and the more concern I have for what I have or have not become. May we become spiritually healthy, genuine, authentic followers of Jesus Christ. May we be burdened over a lost world, and may we be willing to step out by faith and to do something about it.
We’re standing in the doorway of an exciting, fruitful year. The question is, "Will we walk through it, or turn and walk away?" All heaven is watching, and our Lord is waiting. Why not bow your head, and make that decision right now?
Our God is worthy! Let’s be willing. Here we are, Lord! Use us!
For the King and His Kingdom,
As we enter into the year 2020, may God give us 2020 vision concerning our lives and His Kingdom. In fact, that’s the series I’m beginning as we prepare for the New Year: “2020 Vision.” There are doors of opportunity that God is going to open for us this year, but we must be intentional, available and step out by faith.
My goal for the last few years has been to prepare LCC to grow, both numerically and spiritually. That’s why we renovated our children’s wing and added Kidz World. My family and this church have always been the priority of my life apart from my relationship with God. I’m excited for what I believe God is doing. He’s been leading, confirming direction and answering prayer. I believe God is preparing us to impact the Triad with the gospel and to bring hope to those who are hurting. But it will require all of us as a unified team being spiritually sensitive and faithfully active.
Paul said in I Corinthians 9 that we are in a race, and we are to run it in such a way that we win. Winning a race depends not only on the speed of the runners but also the skillful ability to transfer the baton. If the baton is dropped, precious seconds are wasted and the race may be lost. If the runner fails to pass the baton, he is disqualified from the race altogether. There comes a time when we have to pass the baton to other leaders to impact this generation and the next.
I have invested 25 years of my life in this wonderful church, and as I’ve prayed and fasted, I believe God has led me to Dr. Chad Grayson. I look forward to lovingly and skillfully passing the baton to him so God’s church will be strengthened and will impact our community with the glorious gospel. He will continue what God allowed me to begin years ago.
I will serve with Pastor Chad for approximately two years before I pass the baton, and we’ll share pastoral ministries and the pulpit. We will alternate sermon series on Sunday morning and whoever is not preaching on Sunday morning will preach Sunday night. I’ll be preaching in January, but I’ve asked Pastor Chad to preach on Sunday morning, January 12th, and that evening, after the service, we’ll welcome the Grayson family with a church-wide fellowship.
I also have another surprise. I’ve asked Noah Darnell to join us as we kickoff the New Year as a worship intern. Noah grew up at LCC and is a gifted young man with great musical skills and one who loves people. This is going to be an exciting and challenging year, so put on your spiritual glasses and pray for our Lord to give us 2020 vision.
In conclusion, as we prepare for a New Year let me ask you a few questions I often ask myself…
Don’t just read those questions, but why not take them into your prayer closet and ask them in the presence of our Father?
For the King and His Kingdom,
This is my favorite time of the year when we give thanks for the many blessings of life and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s a time when we gather with family and friends. We enjoy the biggest feast of the year: turkey, dressing and all the fixings. Immediately after Thanksgiving, we put up the Christmas tree, the lights, the wreaths, and the Hallmark villages. Before we know, it our house looks like Christmas land.
But what if all of those things we enjoy disappeared? What if it all became so secular that it lost its meaning? Giving thanks and celebrating the birth of the King is at the heart of Christianity. We would have no one to thank and nothing to celebrate if it wasn’t for Jesus Christ. And yet our nation that was founded on God is wandering far from God.
The decline of Christianity in the United States continues at a rapid pace. It seems many are so busy enjoying their blessings that they’re blind to what’s going on around us. According to Pew Research, 65% of American adults identify as Christians, which is a 12% decline in the last decade. Now keep in mind, just identifying as a Christian doesn’t make you one. Today over 26% of American adults identify as atheists, agnostics or nothing in particular, which is up 17% since 2009. And the number of the non-religious are escalating, not declining.
So here’s the question.
What should we give to Jesus this year on His birthday?
I believe an honest answer to that question is simple and undeniable. He wants US!
What would happen this Christmas if we were God’s gift to the world? What would happen if every morning we woke up and said, "Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do, and wherever you want me to go, I’ll go!" If we did so, what would happen in our lives, our homes, God’s church and the Triad?
During that first Christmas, the Bible says “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) In other words, Mary treasured the things that the shepherds had said and thought about them often. This Christmas, may we treasure all the things that God has said, and focus on the truth that God wants US. When we surrender to Him daily, we’ll experience the love, joy and peace that only He can provide. And we’ll not only have a Merry Christmas, but we’ll have a happy New Year.
Let’s live for the King and His Kingdom,
Last month, our Compassion Can offering was extraordinary as you faithfully gave to provide for those who can’t provide for themselves. We gave $113,299, and I believe all of heaven rejoiced. Your love and kindness expressed through giving will touch orphans and rescue women and children who’ve been exploited through human trafficking. Sujo John and Samuel Thomas were ecstatic and almost to the point of tears when I shared with them. Thank you for your sensitivity and generosity.
Patsy and I have been on ocean cruises before, but a river cruise is something we’ve always wanted to do. And thanks to your generosity, we leave on our Viking River Cruise on Tuesday, November 5th. We will go to Prague for a few days and from there we will go to Nuremberg, Germany, to begin a cruise on the Danube River that will go through Regensburg and Passau, Germany, then Krems and Vienna, Austria, and conclude in Budapest, Hungary. Words can’t express our appreciation, but we are eternally grateful. What a privilege it has been for me to serve this great church for 25 years.
As we rapidly move towards another Thanksgiving, let me challenge you to find yourself a quiet place where you’ll not be disturbed, and take the time to give thanks. Reflect on the goodness of God and fervently pray for our nation. I am so grateful for the blessings of God. I’m thankful for my family, my freedom and faithful friends like many of you. We have so much to be thankful for, but I am deeply concerned and burdened over our country.
The spiritual climate is rapidly changing as our country grows progressively darker. The voice of truth is being silenced while the vices of men are becoming stronger. There’s a lack of leadership as a nation once founded on God has chosen to abandon God and is spiraling dangerously out of control. What once was considered sin is questionable among many, and accepted by others. Christians are continuously portrayed as intolerant, close-minded, mean-spirited people who are extremists.
Unfortunately, there are some who call themselves Christians yet live in direct opposition of Christ’s teachings. They are either spiritually immature or wolves in sheep’s clothing. Followers of Jesus Christ trust and obey Him, and their love for Christ and others consume them. Love doesn’t mean we go along to get along, nor does it mean that we ignore, accept or condone sin. We can’t accept what God says is unacceptable. Sin always brings heartache and sorrow therefore we must love people enough to tell them the truth. We must speak the truth in love.
As we move towards the conclusion of another year may we have a greater boldness, a greater burden, a greater faith and a greater love for our Lord and others! May we work while it’s still day, because nights coming.
Your Pastor and Friend,