Church Words

2 years ago I was riding in a car with a guy in the middle east and he asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee. I excitedly told him that I did. He quickly jerked the car out of heavy traffic to a little coffee shop and a man came to the window and the two of them started speaking in Arabic. As I sat there, I remember how helpless and uninformed I felt as they rattled on about my cup of coffee. Eventually of course, a hot cup of coffee arrived at my window and I was grateful…but I also had wished I understood Arabic.

Sometimes, I wonder to myself how many people sit in church gatherings all across the world every week and hear words and terminology that sound like a foreign language they only wish they could understand.

One of my most passionate desires when it comes to preaching the truth of God’s Word is that people would understand what in the world I am talking about! Nehemiah 8:12 says, “…they (the listeners) understood the words which had been made known to them.” Boy do I pray that the blessed people God has allowed me to preach to in this life might say the same.

For the next 3 weeks at the Rock church, I feel God has called me to preach for the purpose of understanding some very important “Church words”. Some words that people may have heard said throughout their entire lives, but couldn’t even begin to fully explain their meaning if asked. I believe it is part of my job to make sure “they understand the words which are made known to them” or everything spoken has become a waste of time…no matter how religious we sound.

Join us for the next 3 weeks as we endeavor in our ecclesia to exegete a plethora of…. “Church Words”. See what I mean.

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3 Things You Can Do

Christmas Eve is 14 days away…

Here are 3 things you can do in that time:

1. PRAY! Nothing will be more important to these efforts than the power of prayer. Pray for our broad ranging community that desperately needs Jesus. Pray for the health, protection and encouragement of all staff and volunteers. Pray for the technical logistics to operate smoothly during the largest tech effort we’ve ever put forth by far. Pray that people receive Jesus as Lord!

2. INVITE! 2500 wallet sized invite cards have been dispersed into your hands. Get rid of them! Invite your restaurant server, hairdresser, boss, school friends, cashiers, gas station worker, drive thru window worker, cousin in another town, mechanic, oil change workers. Look around yourself & invite as many people as possible in the next 14 days.

3. ATTEND! With 3 gatherings in 2 locations, we hope you are making concrete plans to be there. We are praying these gatherings will be filled with people passionate about worshipping Jesus & reaching the lost.

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Deer Season 2013

I understand that not everyone deer hunts or has even the remotest desire to. I respect all of those people and their different likes, interests and hobbies so this is in no way seeking to convert anyone to hunting. However, deer hunting has been a long standing November tradition in my family and I wanted to share a few reasons as to why I believe it’s about much more than hunting an animal.

1.) It forces me to spend time alone with God. There is a powerful reality that exists, when you walk into the woods in the dark am hours, sit down and wait for the sun to rise. I often arrange my seat and then sit in the deep forested, cold silence and stare up at the stars. In those moments, it’s like you almost can’t help but begin praying to the mighty God of the Universe. Then the Sun rises and with it, the woods come alive with various wildlife activity that in some strange way fills the soul to the brim as you sit there and watch. It’s no wonder Romans 1 says, “His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…”

2.) It’s incredible quality time with my family, most of all my son. There are no words to adequately describe the joy I feel sitting in a 2 man ground blind with my oldest boy, whispering about life while watching the woods around us. As I was sipping coffee during a brisk afternoon hunt, Preston was asking me how I met and married his mother. I told him how we met in college and he asked how I knew to marry her. I told him how God confirmed it in our hearts and answered various prayers and he asked me how old he should be before getting married. On and on it went. I firmly believe that I have a vital window of opportunity with all 4 of my little kids to build myself a place in their hearts. Deer season this year provided me a chance to deepen the bond with my young son. My hope and prayer is that special moments like these will allow me, their Earthly father, to have a voice of credibility and influence in their lives as they grow older. When the conversations get much more serious, and huge life decisions are before them, I pray that God will have used these quiet moments in the woods to make them open to my fatherly counsel.

3.) It makes me miss my beautiful wife. When I 1st met Erin, I was “smoked” instantly. That was 16 years ago. I love her more now than I ever have in our nearly 12 year marriage. With what God has done and continues do through the ministry, I am gone more these days than I used to be. I cannot stand being away from her! But in a strange way, I like missing her. As I spent hours sitting in the woods this week, my mind wandered most consistently to thoughts of my wife. I like when I come home through the door and she is standing there. I love my other kids that weren’t old enough to go yet and I missed them immensely, but not as much as I missed Erin. Apart from Jesus, she is the most important person that will ever be in my life and I spent a lot of time in the woods thanking God for her.

4.) I like actually deer hunting too…but it’s way behind the above mentioned.

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Trunk or Treat 2013

It has taken me a few days to settle myself down from the exhilarating experience of watching God use Trunk or Treat to reach out to the surrounding area. It was one of those moments where you really did have to be there to fully understand the magnitude of what transpired. In addition to extending my most sincere thank you to all that helped serve on Oct 30th, I wanted to share 3 quick thoughts/observations about Trunk or Treat:

1. It was incredible to watch the church serving in unity in such a huge capacity! We are called of Jesus to serve together for the sake of the gospel, and that is exactly what happened Wednesday night. From the police officer directing traffic that attends the Rock, to the massive parking lot crew, hospitality table workers, everyone who committed to a trunk, the tech people, box maze workers, those that set it up, tore everything down, ran out for emergency candy, built the castle entrance…it was incredible! It was the church functioning in amazing unity, which I believe honored God.

2. We were able to engage the community face to face in mass. I am not of the belief that Trunk or Treat is supposed to be the “Anti-Halloween”. Rather, I believe it’s purpose is for us to extend our hands of compassion and generosity in the name of Christ. God allowed us to interact with literally thousands of people. I was so encouraged to watch those representing Jesus engage people with a contagious smile and demeanor that exuded God’s grace and mercy. Thank you for being a body of believers that “gets it”.

3. God is doing something in and through the Rock church. No question about it. His mighty blessings continue to pour down upon us in heavenly excess. We must continue to both recognize that and be responsible with what God is giving us. I have no interest as a pastor in becoming a church that seeks to hoard the blessings of God. My prayer is that we will continue to look outside of ourselves, our buildings, events etc and repeatedly ask the Lord…”Lord, how and where do want us to invest what you have given us?” I always want to be a church that continues to look for the intense work of the ministry to which we are called. We have countless areas before us to reach with the gospel…a town, a region, a nation, the ends of the Earth! Let’s take a moment to celebrate God’s goodness to us this week, and then let’s get back to work!

God bless you all!
Pastor Wes

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“Yet You are holy.”

Psalm 22:2-3

“2 O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.
3 Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.”

Yet You are holy.

This one phrase speaks wonders of the calling on our lives as worshippers.

Often we feel like the psalmist does in verse 2. We cry for the Lord and get no answer; we’re searching for something from Him and seem to come up empty; we feel desperate and alone. Maybe we just feel overwhelmed by all the things that life seems to be throwing at us. I know there are Sundays when the last thing we desire to do is worship because nothing seems to be going right.

But in verse 3 of this chapter, we’re reminded of something incredible. The psalmist says, “Yet, You are holy.” No matter how I’m feeling whether discouraged, empty, alone, or even numb — God is holy. God is good. God is faithful.

That is why we worship.

Not because we feel like it or because we’ve had a good week—but because our God is holy above all others, because He is worthy, because He is God.

When we focus more on our situation and our problems than on the unmatchable God that we serve, we are battling God for His glory. We are taking the attention away from Him and giving it to ourselves. Even on our worst days, God has done and is able to do more than we can even comprehend. (Eph. 3:20)

As the weekend approaches, ask God to prepare your heart and mind to worship Him in the way that He desires, forgetting about yourself and focusing on the fact that above all else, He is holy and He is worthy of our worship.


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My Thoughts about Church Hayrides

Over the last week, the Rock church has hosted 2 hayrides at my home, one for couples and one for ladies. As I watched wagon ride after wagon ride fill up with people, I had a few thoughts.

1. I am so thankful to be a pastor. I so enjoyed riding on the wagon with the couple’s groups and driving the tractor for the ladies. On both occasions I found myself thankful that God allows me to be a pastor to such great people.

2. Fellowship for fellowship’s sake is important to the church. In Acts 2:42 the scripture tells us, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Fellowship is placed right along side the teaching of scripture, communion, and prayer. I watched so many believers interacting with each other and cultivating godly relationships and I was just reminded of how important that is for us as a church to do.

3. People newer to the church community were made to feel welcome and more connected to the “larger whole”. It’s a painful thing when people that are new to the church want to be more involved and welcomed but feel marginalized and unknown. Being new to anything is tough for most people. I watched several new couples show up as well as ladies and be warmly welcomed by those that have been established at the church for a while. I listened as long-time attenders asked questions about people’s lives, interests, families, jobs, beliefs etc. It was so great to watch people throughout the night that arrived a “newer person” be drawn further in to the church body by the compassion and interest shown by “the regulars”.

Some may think last week was just a few hours of an old fashioned hayride. However, for this local body of Christ known as the Rock…it was biblical fellowship.

Pastor Wes

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All The World.

Well Rock Church, another team has been sent to somewhere in the world and returned! I had the extreme honor and pleasure of leading 4 great men to the Middle East for a one week visit to a missionary that we support.

Many people asked us, “Why on earth would you go to the Middle East?” Well we were able to see all sorts of mind blowing Biblical sites. We also wanted to show our missionary that besides the financial support we provide, we believe in what they are doing and want to be a part of it. We certainly feel the responsibility to Christ’s command to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” I guess the following is why we went to the Middle East.

We were gone from Saturday to Saturday. Mid week, on Wednesday night, at a popular local mall, we met a young Muslim man who was just interested in improving his English. One of the guys talked with him for over an hour at the mall, then we invited him back to where we were staying to continue our talk. We didn’t realize this conversation was going to last until the very early hours of the next day.

This talk turned into a phone call on Friday afternoon when the young man’s brother wanted to talk to us and ask questions about Christianity. Seeds planted.

Talking to Muslims is not like talking to an unbelieving American and anyone who approaches conversation with a Muslim with an American Gospel drum-banging church culture mindset will probably not have much of a conversation. Muslims do have some textbook questions and things that they believe about Americans and it’s worth stating here. Granted, Muslims in America are different than Muslims in the Middle East. Here they witness American Christians. Over there they are told what to believe about American Christians.

To help those who may know someone who is a Muslim, but have no idea how to engage them for the Kingdom, I offer some of the things learned on our week long visit to the Middle East.

Before you ever begin a conversation with a Muslim, be prepared with the following: first, don’t jump right into religious talk. Build a foundation of respect and friendship. The religious conversation will come about naturally, don’t worry about that. Second, be certain that whoever you engage is going to be knowledgeable! Muslims, unlike Christians, are raised in their faith. They’ll know the answers to your questions and are prepared to answer and back it up with the Qur’an.

So what are some of the questions I may be asked by a Muslim and should be prepared to answer. Though not comprehensive this snap shot should help you.

1)   “What are your views of Mohammed?” (He is their holy prophet, held in as high of regard in their religion as Christ is in Christianity. No matter how you feel about Islam, the truth is that Mohammed really lived and really wrote the Qur’an. If you disrespect or insult Mohammed or the Qur’an, you have lost your audience as well as whatever chance you’d hoped to have for sharing Christ. Be assured, they will not disrespect or insult Christ or the Bible.)

2)   “What are your views about drinking?” (This is strictly forbidden in Islam and they believe all Americans drink. You must show yourself to be moral. Often debated as a grey area in Christianity, it is not grey in Islam.)

3)   “Why do you say Jesus is God?” (Muslims consider Christians polytheists, belief in multiple gods. They do not believe that Jesus is God, though respected and revered. He is one of God’s greatest prophets but Allah is God alone, not Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God would not defile himself to come to earth as a man.)

4)   “How can you accept a corrupt book as truth?” (The Bible; they believe it is corrupt due to many translations throughout the years. Multiple authors, span of time in writing, they do not accept its validity. They will, however, respect someone who adheres to belief in the Bible, the teachings of Christ. Though they don’t accept it’s validity they won’t disrespect or insult it.)

Expect these questions, they will be asked at some point in time or another! We need to Biblically master the answers to these questions and know how to answer them with confidence. You should also be prepared to share your testimony. Most Middle Easterners hold the belief that all Americans are Christians; that from birth we are raised in Christianity. This is just simply not true and if you have a testimony about not being raised in a Christian home, becoming a Christian later in life, this will shock your audience.

We talked to one Muslim convert to Christianity and he asked that we share this about the work that is being done in the Middle East. “There are thousands and thousands of people leaving Islam and coming to Christianity. We must pray for workers because the harvest is great.”

Ripped right from the pages of the New Testament when Jesus told His disciples to pray for workers because the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few, they are experiencing the same thing in the Middle East right now!

You may not hear about Muslims coming to know Christ every day, but they are. You may not think that Kingdom work in the Middle East is worthwhile; if that’s the case I pray that the Lord opens your heart to this vast people group that is in desperate need of His Salvation!

If you have any questions about talking to a Muslim person; if God has laid it on your heart to do something locally to reach out to the Muslim community, let us know, we’d love to talk to you!

Thank you to all who prayed for our safety in travel and in the land. We certainly had moments where we felt God’s hand upon us. We are deeply moved at the amount of prayer and the care you have shown us both before and after this trip. Remember, missions trips aren’t just to a foreign land. Every day is a mission trip and the One who sent us, is with us! Now Go!

-Pastor John

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