Stepping Out!

The 12 steps of A.A. are great tools to use for any situation, any life experience, they are for anyone and everyone…it isn’t just addicts that can utilize these principles for all our affairs! The principles we learn working the steps, these are also principles to look for to make sure you are living a better life, living your faith, living in recovery…are you living these in your every day life?

step 1: honesty
step 2: hope
step 3: faith
step 4: courage
step 5: integrity
step 6: willingness
step 7: humility
step 8: self-discipline
step 9: love
step 10: perseverance
step 11: spiritual awareness
step 12: service

We are all learning and growing, no matter what step we are currently working, no matter how long we have been a christ follower or if we are still kicking the tires of faith. These 12 steps really work. We can have changed lives and be engaged in this life for the good of it all and we can do it with compassion.

To find out more about the 12 steps and how we work the steps at Evergreen come to ER Tuesday nights. Potluck at 6pm, programming at 6:30. Childcare available.

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14 NLT)

As people of God, we can do together what we could never do alone, and when you bring Jesus into the mix, there is no telling what we can do!!

Who doesn’t love that first date?

Realize that most stress and tension is just growth trying to take place.

The sadness creeps in like the sneaky woodtick on a dog-attaching and burrowing into the skin, feeding off any positive inklings one may have felt only moments before. Don’t worry.

You could have a blossoming romance developing, the first stages of dating when all you want to do is know everything there is to know about the tocking of the mind and the ticking of the heart of that special someone. Staying up all night to talk, don’t need to eat or sleep cause all you need is to hear the voice and feel the hope of this perfect love. Each day you could feel reborn. Each day you learn more about yourself as you learn more about him and what he want for your life and the lives you influence. Earthly desires fall away when you are close to him, when you can sit with his hands wrapped around your shoulders, or holding your hand, filling your heart with hope- the things you have gone through, the mistakes you have made do not matter when you are with him.

When you are with him you can use your past to not only mold your future for better but help those who need and desire a better life too. To be not of the world but still of use in this world means you do not isolate but instead extrapolate a better situation to put yourself and your family in.

Don’t get caught up in the worries of things not gotten. Quit searching for answers to questions not asked. Just let the trinity unfold the story before you for the next clue in the amazing life.

Come to Evergreen Community Church this Friday at 7pm and again on Sunday at 10am to meet the man of your dreams.

Take the Plowed Road

Last week, I went on a road trip with a group of gals to a church about an hour away from Pine City. We decided to take a short-cut. Unfortunately, the short cut was a road that had not yet been cleared from the snowstorm 2 days prior. It took us 45 extra minutes to get to our destination.

How often do we try to take short cuts in life, only to be harbored by the rough road we choose?

I often get caught in the performance trap, trying to make up all the wasted time; I was a prodigal daughter and I want to make up for the spoiled brat I used to be and still am at times. I often battle the feeling that I am not worth God’s time or love. I don’t fully understand love in general so I study the bible in hopes to learn how to love in a healthy way. The fear of being unloved will affect my ability to retain or absorb what I read, will affect my ability to wholly believe with everything in me, every part of the bible. Not to mention affecting my ability to apply it to life. Does anyone else feel this way? Please tell me I am not alone!

When I was a non-believer my stance was I did not believe in all the fantastical things that the bible records. None of the miracles, none of the stories of redemption, and especially Jonah in the whale, it is physically impossible! Pastor Seth challenged us in a message a few years back to make the decision to believe. Don’t argue semantics, just choose to believe. It was from that message that I began to discard the old way of thinking and adopt a new life.

For Evergreen’s Christmas series, we have a huge God-meter on stage at church. Pride on one end, fear on the other and Godfidence in the middle. For today, the unbelief I need to get past is that I am not important. And every time I try to combat that thought I jump right over the Godfidence part of life and into pride like leap-frog.

The challenge is how to live a useful life, still realize it is not about me, and at the same time feel totally loved and confident of God’s love.

Many days I do not feel worthy to be part of God’s church. I am much like the apostle Paul in the sense that I slandered (murdered in my heart) Christians, I passed judgement, I made fun of the stero-type, I dis-trusted, I rebelled with my behavior, my language, my lifestyle, choosing the world over the word. Since I didn’t grow up in the church, what did I think I was rebelling and repelling from? I think there is the knowledge and the desire in every single human for that connection to God. I think everyone wants to be loved by God. I think it is built into our biology. I only spent a few short years in Sunday school, I barely remember the old dusty attic of the Lake George bible chapel where we met for class. I had a rudimentary understanding of the memorization of the books of the bible, some key prayers and passages, and of course I remember the felt board ‘make-believe’ stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah, Jesus. Even for that short period I was affected for my life to come. God was setting the stage, preparing my heart for this time, my life now. He prepares all of us, each of our histories has set the stage for what is to come.

When I came back into the fold, I snuck back in, hoping not to be noticed, for fear I would not be accepted, not by the people- although that is always a fear- but more importantly I wouldn’t be accepted by God. That I had drifted too far away, was not important to His work and not needed. And truthfully, I am not needed. God doesn’t need me to further his work for the kingdom, he can choose someone else to do the job I am doing. So, the fact that I am here, in this moment, that I am in the work I am, helping my church operate behind the scenes, teaching kids, teaching recovery from the prodigal life, proves that God loves me, He desires a relationship with me, wants me exactly where I am and I can wake up everyday and decide to partner with him or not. Love is about acceptance. Acceptance of myself. Acceptance of the responsibility of my role as a child of God, daughter of Christ and in so accepting, I can accept that God loves me. He has the same love for you. You have the same responsibility to choose. Do you accept it?

God cleared the road to me, just like a snowplow. And he cleared the way to you. Use the right road.

May God our father himself and our master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our father when our master Jesus arrives with all his followers. -1 Thessalonians 3: 11-13

Appreciation

October in Minnesota is the best time of year. Colors pop, weather cools, new clothing styles to refresh our palettes, new foods to can, harvest, create. It’s also Pastor Appreciation Month. For many congregations, that identification ranks right up there with Columbus Day. It means very little, if anything, to most churches.

Many people cringe at the idea of showing anyone extra appreciation or honor if they’re being paid for doing their job. I have even heard, “Well, if we give above what we give in the offering, then he will just expect more and more. He might even expect a pay raise. It’s better not to show all our cards in one sitting.” Wha??? I don’t know about you, but I am not playing poker with MY pastor! I am being guided spiritually, emotionally, relationally by someone who invests time, energy and money into MY well being, MY growth, MY soul. And I am not the only one in the congregation!

So, how do we show praise and honor to the leaders of our church? At Evergreen, one of our pieces of our culture is “We are a generation of Honor”. We honor up, honor down and honor all around. And when we honor and respect those around us, we ultimately honor God by respecting who He has placed in authority over us. How can we avoid worshiping a personality while simultaneously loving and blessing our pastors and setting them up to win and succeed in serving us? Here are a few places to start…

1. Obey The Bible

The pastors (elders) who lead the affairs of the church well are worthy of DOUBLE HONOR, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. I Timothy 5:17

Point Blank. End of story. It is in the bible, therefore we believe and follow the teachings to the best of our ability. Don’t refuse to honor your pastor because you’re afraid it will go to his head and cause him to be arrogant. How foolish! Honor and encouragement foster humility, not pride.

2. Verbally Affirm Them

Dear brothers, honor those who lead you. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love. I Thessalonians 5:12

Not only should I use my mouth to encourage pastors, I should also use my hands. I can write a card, send a gift certificate, compose an encouraging email, or post on Facebook and Twitter how much I love and appreciate those who lead the church. I can brag on them in public and pray for them by name.

3. Consistently Defend Them

Do not listen to an accusation against a pastor (elder) unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. I Timothy 5:19

At some point, people won’t like something our leaders say or do, and they will talk about it. When we hear these comments, we should quote this verse and explain to the gossiper and anyone else who is listening that we won’t put up with that kind of harmful slander against our pastor. Gossip should not be tolerated in any case, but especially to those in church leadership, you are working against the integrity of God’s church when you engage in those conversations! You wouldn’t let someone talk about your kids or spouse in front of you. Get your pastor’s back!

4. Faithfully Bless Them

For the scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while he is treading out the grain” and “The worker deserves his wages.” I Timothy 5:18

Generosity is a biblical principle. We do not need to ‘one up’ each other with generosity. That is not the spirit in which we give. Find out what your leaders enjoy and pray about giving it to them as a gift. Pay attention to what gives them joy, it is okay to see them as humans! Get creative! It could be something as simple as babysitting so your Pastor and his wife have a date night, gift cards, words of encouragement, offer to help with small tasks, if you have a vacation spot, let them use it. There are so many ways we can show honor and appreciation!

The more we honor and care for our leaders, the better they will love and shepherd and serve us. They win, we win, and ultimately God is glorified and His church is advanced. Let’s follow God’s instruction by loving on our leaders. Pastor Appreciation month is a great place to start.

ideas and concepts inspired by claytonking

There is no BOLD in obscurity

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11

There are three aspects to our self-concept as humans. Since we are not God (thank God!) we often do not know the plans He has for us, much less what would be in our own best interest. The three aspects of self are:

Self-ideal which is our picture for our future.
Self-image which is our present image of self.
Self-worth is our secret reputation we feel about ourselves.

In order to improve our current circumstances we need to take responsibility to ask God for a vision for our life. We cannot control outcomes. Please accept this. But we can ask God to reveal a vision for us to work toward. This is quite simple. Spend time with God asking what He wants for our career, our relationships, where we live, where we play; when we go to Him for every and all things we have an ideal that is from God not from our own ego. Yes, I would like to be a billionaire rock star bombarded by paparazzi and adored by everyone too, but does God want that for your life? If we create our ideals from what we truly believe God is sharing with us, we can go forward with bold faith that no matter how easy or hard it is, it comes from Him and therefore we will succeed at it!

Which brings us to the present self. When we create goals based on God’s design we share them. By verbalizing our goals we can get support, accountability and help from those God has placed in our life. This will then improve our self-image since our present circumstances will be easier to make our ideals reality. This also helps our secret self-worth heal into a more positive image of ourselves. When we can see our worth through God”s eyes, when we create a life that is God-centered it opens the doors to grand possibilities. You don’t need to be a rockstar to make a difference, you just have to have Jesus!

Today, at Evergreen, Pastor Seth Hinrichs shared some of the goals God revealed to him about our church. Message series that get us to the heart of our bad choices. Tangible classes that teach the disciplines so we can teach others about our faith. Hosting round table events for our fellow rural church leaders to collaborate and learn from each other. Launching Evergreen Recovery to further reach the last, the lost and the least and create lasting life change in our community. The list goes on and on!!

THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY HOPE FOR THE WORLD. At Evergreen we orbit our personal finances, schedules and talents around the mission of His church.

LET’S BRANG IT CHURCH!!! Fall launch is 7 days away. Invite, bring, give. Not cause of who you are, but because of who He is.

I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I could not be found. I, the Lord, speak only what is true and declare only what is right. – Isaiah 45:19

Life requires Conception

A self-concept is our distinctive combination of convictions, assumptions, life experiences, memories, feelings, and dreams for the future that make up the image we see in ourselves. If you are not aware of your concepts, you are at a disadvantage and it diminishes your capacity for growth, contribution and joy.

Last week, Pastor Seth spoke of “All Hat and No Cattle” to mean we need to examine our lives and see whether we are walking a Christian walk or are we just talking Christianeze. To honestly answer the question we need a solid self-conception.

When faced with a problem, is your number one question, “What is my part in the equation?” Do you pray for God to reveal clarity and boundaries and a Christ-like perspective on it? Or do you first look at others, placing blame, justifying actions or diverting focus to something unrelated?

Evergreen is launching it’s faith-based 12 step ministry on October 30. This weekly time for fellowship, worship, teaching and small group is designed to catapult a Christ-like self-conception. It is designed to figure out how to walk the walk, not just talk the talk in living out a fulfilling life. There are so many other opportunities at Evergreen too. LIVING A BETTER STORY is our fall launch series, beginning September 16, and it is just the tip of the iceberg for great life changing messages all year!

Jesus says, “Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20

What do your actions say about you?

IS YOUR CHURCH JUST ANOTHER TALK SHOW?

Last week, Pastor Seth, Lead Pastor of Evergreen Community Church published Evergreen’s CODE, a series of statements that illustrate Evergreen’s core values; the common thread being our vision; to share the story of Jesus with Relevance, Imagination, Compassion and Excellence. Evergreen staff work very intentionally and unapologetically to feed lost souls the R.I.C.E. of Jesus.

WE ARE A HOSPITAL NOT A CATHEDRAL. We believe Jesus came for average, broken, addicted, messy people; not religious people. Therefore everyone is welcome, no one is perfect and anything is possible. We are a safe place for a dangerous message.

All over the gospels the Word of God tells of who Jesus hung out with, what he was sent to accomplish and who he was sent for. Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and to moral values. At Evergreen we try to look through Jesus’ views, NOT WORLD VIEWS. Anthropologists John Monoghan and Peter Just explain religion as,

“it seems apparent that one thing religion helps us do is deal with problems of human life that are significant, persistent and intolerable.”

Is religion bad? Of course not! There are lots of good practices and tips and habits that we can learn, adopt and practice to improve our lives. For instance, the Oprah Religion has many positive attributes. But religion isn’t Jesus Christ. And if churches are not preaching Jesus Christ, if they are not adopting the values of Jesus Christ, then they are just another talk show. EVERGREEN IS NOT PART OF A RELIGION. IT IS PART OF A MOVEMENT OF GOD.

We attempt to meet people where they are at and allow Jesus to move them so they don’t stay where they are at.

Who is ready to put on a candy striper uniform and join the movement?

Who wants a better life?

All your existence in this world is a training for a better life to come. At Evergreen Community Church we believe this training is best developed in the form of serving the Lord through serving His local church.

He said to His disciples, “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.”- Matthew 9:37

Many people quote verse 37 and misconstrue this concept. They read, “the harvest is great but the workers are few,” and think “well, I guess it’s just up to us to make church happen.” Often churches run so long on empty only providing mediocre weekend experiences that aren’t reaching anyone.

Is your church working with the few who are serving week in and week out; the same ladies teaching the same Sunday school class (heaven forbid MEN become good role models for our future leaders!) The same hospitality crew serving the same coffee, the same worship team singing the same music? If you are stuck in a church with these problems, please read on to verse 38…

So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:38

God is in charge of the church. God is in charge of equipping the church with the right tools, talent and the right people. As a body of Christ’s church we are to be obedient to God’s will for our lives in the form of watching for Laziness, Procrastination, Insincerity, and Fear and replacing those defects of character with Activity, Promptness, Straightforwardness and Faith.

Many people are ready to give their lives to Christ if someone would show them how. Jesus commands us to pray that people will respond to this need. Often, when we pray, God answers our prayers by using us. BE PREPARED FOR GOD TO USE YOU TO SHOW ANOTHER PERSON THE WAY TO HIM.

Take an inventory. Are you creating liabilities in your various working environments, or striving for building assets for God’s great glory?

Props 2 The Local Church

WoW! I am almost speechless and still a little slap happy at the experiences I witnessed Easter 2012! The teamwork, the organization, the fun, the laughter, the prayers and the tears were SO worth seeing us reach DOUBLE what we could in our building ( we are EVERGREEN COMMUNITY CHURCH and we rented out the school auditorium for our 1Day Easter celebration!) So many more opportunities to see people come to Jesus! Every number is a life touched by Jesus, not only in Pine City, but all across the world with all the churches united. THIS is how we carry out the vision of Evergreen; to share the story of Jesus with relevance, imagination, compassion and excellence! Glory to God!

We had approximately 420 people in attendance (double our average) and 26 baptisms, half of which were spontaneous! How awesome is it to witness the spirit of God moving people to take the public step in faith that they had no idea they were going to do when they woke up yesterday morning!!
Seeing life change NEVER gets old!

Every area of ministry killed it yesterday! I saw greeters welcoming people as if to their own home, tech and worship crews focussed and ready to go, our youth group eXtremers eating all their muffins:) I KID! -they did an awesome job at their table and it was even awesome{r} seeing so many of our eXtremers get baptised. Not to mention all the new faces worshipping Evergreen style!

Our Pastor, Seth Hinrichs shared such a moving story in his relevant, capitvating way, and our worship team leading music with energy and light, partnering with DJ John Outspoken; a perfect mix of a worship experience! Evergreen staff and volunteers came with their A-game and it was so meaningful to serve and witness!

I encourage everyone that helped either at Evergreen or their own church home, to pat yourself on the back, give praise to God for the day and REST this week! Evergreeners, now we know our capabilities…there ain’t no turning back!!

Isaiah 61: 3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

What was your 1Day experience this Easter 2012?