Late spring and summer can be a busy time juggling every area of life including work, travel, and kids. My prayer is that this season would be a time for you to experience God’s presence and power in your own life. A scripture that has come to my mind lately is from Ephesians 3:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)
It’s amazing how this continues to be true in the life of Timberlake Church. My prayer is that it is also true for you.
Several years ago, when I was in Bible College, we read a book by Bill Hybels called Just Walk Across the Room. You may be familiar with it; it provides some really good, practical strategies for evangelism. Being the overly idealistic, arrogant college sophomore I was, I remember thinking, "Who needs a book to tell people about Jesus? Shouldn't everyone do this naturally on their own; how hard can it be?" Not too long after that, I got a part time job at an upscale restaurant and I discovered something: evangelism is challenging. Plain and simple.
I remember walking in on my first day thinking, "I'm going to be a spiritual sage to all these poor pagans, and I'm sure after a couple weeks - at most a month, all of them will be passionate Jesus followers, selling possessions to move to Central America." I also remember leaving my first day discouraged, embarrassed and feeling more like a crazy religious nut than I ever had before in my life. Now, through this process, I did discover some really helpful things about evangelism, like: don't be pushy, make sure I know a little more than the basic tenets of faith, and don't make any assumptions about people. I also noticed something I really didn't expect: I'm not that great of a personal evangelist.
Now, when it comes to telling people about Jesus, maybe you're a natural, and are able to tell anyone at any time, the good news about Jesus Christ. Maybe for you, meeting a stranger at a coffee shop, getting to know them a little bit, and having a chance to share your faith with them is the epitome of a great day. And maybe even for you, it always ends with the person outside the coffee shop, weeping & repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus into their heart. But, my guess is, if you're like me, that doesn't describe evangelism for you at all. See, the Bible describes evangelism (or telling other people about Jesus) as a spiritual gift.
And He [Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ Eph 4:9-11 NKJV
In this verse, the work of an evangelist is described as something designated by Christ. Implicitly with that idea, is the notion that not everyone has been given this gift. For me, that was a liberating concept. Through all my failed attempts to convincingly articulate reasons to follow Jesus to my friends, co-workers, and family members, I was starting to feel like a failure. What this verse actually describes, though, is the idea that not everyone will be good at this, that its ok to not be a great or even decent personal evangelist. Now, on the other side of this conversation lies a pretty important question: "What am I supposed to do about sharing my faith then, if I'm not that good at it?"
In what the Bible describes as "The Great Commission," Jesus' parting words to His disciples before ascending into heaven are to "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" (Matt 28:19 NKJV). I think this principle holds true for us today as followers of Jesus as well; that part of being a believer and follower of Jesus, is to share our faith, and here's how I think most of us can practically have a part in this: inviting our friends to church.
I discovered a few years ago, that there are a lot of places around the city and region where people are really good at telling people about Jesus, often times in a way they can understand. I also discovered that these places had systems and processes in place exactly for people like the friends I was inviting, people who didn't know Jesus. Timberlake Church, I can confidently say, is a great place for people who are undecided about a faith in Jesus Christ. At Timberlake (and at a bunch of churches throughout the area), people who are undecided can ask questions, meet some normal people, and have the Christian faith explained to them in a logical yet non-threatening way, which I think is awesome!
So, for the next few weeks, as Easter approaches, I've been thinking a lot of who I can invite to church. I still have a lot of friends that I spend time with regularly who don't have a relationship with Christ and I know how much Jesus loves them and how badly He wants their hope to be in Him. At the same time, I know that I'm not the world's best evangelist but I can probably get them to come church long before I can walk them through what believing in Jesus looks like - maybe you're in the same place.
My hope and prayer is that you'll consider bringing someone with you to church this Easter season, so they can hear the good news about Jesus Christ.
Student Ministries Pastor
I’ve been thinking a lot about creating time to find a God-perspective. I think there's a critical spiritual principle that applies whether you're in high school or you have grandkids in high school; it’s the principle of capitalizing on opportunities to break from the routine, and it’s something that Jesus models in his life and ministry. Here's what Luke 5:16 says: "But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer."
It's interesting to note that, amid a hectic schedule of itinerant speaking, teaching, and healing, the author notes the importance for Jesus to get alone and refresh. Now, I think it's easy sometimes to carry this principle too far and get in the realm of "if you're not having a personal alone time with God on the side of a mountain, you're unspiritual." In fact, scripture never indicates that Jesus did this daily, but it does indicate that he needed quiet times like this to recharge.
Along with that, it seems necessary for us, as an important part of following Jesus Christ, to take opportunities to break from routine, get away, and refresh spiritually. Now, that obviously looks pretty different for all of us, but maybe this year it’s committing to one morning a week, where we get up early and set aside time to tune into what God might be saying to us. Maybe it’s a hike, or a bike ride, or taking a drive. Maybe for you, it’s as simple as taking 2 minutes to pray with your spouse right before you turn in for the night.
Regardless of method, here's my hope in my personal life -- to make sure I'm in a position to tune into whatever God might be saying to me, and to break from my routine long to enough to hear from Him.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve been pondering the purpose of marriage. Obviously some people see marriage as a romantic fusion of souls and bodies. Others see it as a responsibility or a chore…a commitment to perform a series of duties for another person. Still others see it as their best highway to happiness. What we’ve come to find, however is that God’s design for marriage is richer and deeper than any of these perspectives.
Marriage has a sacred purpose. The intimacy and closeness of two married people creates a perfect setting for growth, maturing, and lessons in holiness. If we approach marriage with the right perspective and attitude, it can be one of the most glorious pursuits in all of life. If we come with the wrong outlook, it can quickly deteriorate into a place of pain, frustrations, self-centered loneliness, and deep brokenness.
Building a strong marriage is one of the greatest challenges in the world. Yet when we listen to the wisdom God has to offer, it can be a satisfying and life changing journey that shapes our souls and connects us with God and others.
Pastor Rusty Gerhart
This week, I sat down to write out my goals for 2013 (something that I do every year around this time). Over the years, my goals have become a little more specific and less vague, with the hope that I will actually accomplish some of them. Let me give you an example: for fitness, in years prior, I would have written "have beach photos on Facebook that I’m not ashamed of", where this year I wrote "go to the gym 4 times a week and don't eat Jack-In-The-Box after 9pm"... I probably still won't have the desired outcome, but you get the idea.
Anyway, in this process, I spent some time evaluating how I did with last year's goals and how I hope to realize some of the ones I failed to meet. In this process, though, I took a moment to stop and think about everything God had done in my life in the past year-- and it was awesome! As I thought through my hopes and dreams in 2012, there were so many areas where I didn't hit the mark I'd hoped to, but there were also many areas that I noticed God had worked in my life in the way that only He could. As I was reflecting on this, I thought of a story in the Bible:
Joshua 4:4-7 says: “So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
It’s a story where God tells his people to take some rocks from a river and place them on the shore. At face value, it’s interesting at best, really confusing if we're honest but, what's great about this story (especially at times like the turn of the year) is that God not only suggests, He commands us to remember! To remember the good things He's done. Maybe this year that's true for you. Maybe this year it will be important for you to, not only set resolutions, hopes and dreams, but to say, "God, thanks for what you've done this past year." I know they may only be rocks to some people, but to me, they represent a change and a fresh start. Maybe they represent forgiving someone you never thought you could, or taking a spiritual step that seemed really intimidating, or perhaps getting involved in leading in an area that has proved incredibly rewarding.
So this year, in addition to a list of hopes, goals, and achievements, I encourage you to spend some time remembering the good things the Lord's done this past year. I know it was very beneficial for me, and I hope it will be for you too.
Can you believe Christmas is a week from today? The mall parking lots are getting a little crazier, the last-minute window to get those final gifts purchased is sneaking up on us, the non-stop cookie baking has begun and the Timberlake creative team is putting the finishing touches on a memorable Christmas Eve service you and your family won't want to miss. Invite a friend, invite a neighbor, invite a sibling or a cousin to hear a message of what the season is all about; our Savior that was born on that silent night. Our Savior that brings a light to the darkness and a peace that passes all understanding.
Join us for one of our 7 indentical services in Redmond or Issaquah:
In Redmond on Sunday, 12/23 @ 9:45 and 11:15am or Monday 12/24 @ 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm.
In Issaquah on Monday, 12/24 @ 4pm.
Remember, no Saturday night service in Redmond this weekend and Issaquah's Sunday services are moving to Monday at 4pm.
See you soon!
1 Timothy 4:10 says, “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.” In our world, people seek to find hope in many things. For some it is their job and the race to the top of their profession. Others find hope in the possibility of luck; that one day their life will be turned upside down by a chance encounter. Still others find hope in their money and possessions. Yet, everything this world has to offer will not satisfy the desires that God has placed within us.
As Christ-followers, our hope is placed in the living God! It is based on who God is and all that God has done. When times are good, God is the same. When times are bad, God remains unchanged. Whereas people fail, God never fails. God has revealed who he is through Scripture, and most fully in the person and work of Jesus Christ. God loves us so much, that He is willing to do pretty much anything and everything to be in relationship with us – even send His only Son to die on our behalf!
What’s more, God always keeps His promises. We can trust that He will be faithful. He has promised many things – including that a day is coming when it will get better. A great reversal is going to happen. The first will be last, and the last will be first. The wicked will be judged, and the righteous rewarded. Those who are suffering – physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually – will be comforted. I believe these things are true. Why? Because my hope is in the living God! A God who keeps His promises. A God of love. A faithful God. This gives me reason to hope no matter how desperate a situation I’m facing. This gives me reason to labor and strive – to keep on going and to hang in there no matter the circumstances. I’m so thankful that the hope I have is not based on who I am, but rather on who God is!
Senior Associate Pastor
It’s not often we get to be part of something big… something that will make a difference not only today, but for future generations. Building Hope is an opportunity to do just that – to be part of what God is doing now, in the future and for eternity! We are embarking on a new initiative at Timberlake Church where we will have the opportunity to partner together to make a difference. God has been up to some pretty amazing things and it’s time to look at what’s ahead for us… God is giving us the window of opportunity to expand our reach deeper and wider. He’s asking us to make more room for people – especially kids – to come to know Jesus. And we need you in order to make it happen! In the weeks ahead we really encourage you to carve out time to come to a service each weekend, attend a Town Hall meeting or small group get-together, and hear about the opportunity God is placing before us as a church. We’re looking forward to how God is going to use each of us to continue to build HIS kingdom! By the way, it will all happen in true Timberlake-style with no weird stuff, guilt trips or awkwardness. Just the encouragement to keep taking our next right step!
Join us for Week 2 of Building Hope tonight @ 5:30pm in Redmond or at one of our 4 service options in Redmond or Issaquah tomorrow morning!
Join us beginning October 20th/21st for our new message series 'Building Hope." You won't want to miss a weekend...
Great relationships don't happen by accident and they don't get better without work. In this series we'll gain insight into dealing with the difficult people in our lives and the ones we love (even if they're the same person). Join us this weekend in Redmond on Saturday at 5:30pm or Sunday at 9:45 or 11:15am. Or at our Issaquah campus on Sunday at 9:00 and 10:30am. See you then!