The Rippling Effect of Influence

churchYesterday we combined with another church in our community for our Sunday morning worship service. We are a predominantly white church and they are an African-American church and we worshiped together with a third church joining us about a year ago. For our service yesterday, some of their praise team members joined us for the music portion. Since our churches have different styles of music, they had to learn the songs “our way.” One of the songs was brand new to them (or at least most of them) and they had less than a week to feel comfortable with it. They were great!

A large portion of the service was given to testimonies and we had several individuals share. A recurring theme was how the influence of our church (which has been around for over 50 years) made a difference in the lives of people.

Here are a few examples:

– one gentleman who shared is in leadership in another church in Wilmington. He came to faith sometime after his teen years. He said some of the early seeds of faith were planted in him at the High School Prayer Breakfast our church offered when he was a student.

– another testimony was given by a man who recently moved back to Wilmington and has found a place of acceptance and support in our men’s group called “The Cave.” During his testimony he shared how he remembered coming to church here as a young boy. Now he is back and his kids are involved in our children’s ministry.

– one of our elementary aged boys was baptized near the beginning of the service. He was baptized by his grandfather who is a retired Baptist preacher who is serving as an interim minister at a local church. He meets with our pastor and several other pastors for prayer each Wednesday. He said he came to Wilmington to retire, but instead found revival. The father of the boy who was baptized grew up here at the church and has several family members who are still a part of our church family. He and his wife also serve in our student and young adult ministry.

I was impressed with the idea of how God has used this particular church family to influence so many individuals and families. While our church is far from perfect (just like any other church you would visit), God has used her to be a place of growth and life change for many individuals. Sometimes it is good to stop and celebrate who God is, what He has done and how He uses people to accomplish His purposes.

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Who Do You Think You Are – a review

who-do-you-think-you-are-bookIn his latest offering, Mark Driscoll writes about the importance of finding our identity in Christ and not in our accomplishments or failures. Through the pages of the book Driscoll shares stories from people who have wrestled with their identity in Christ in light of past experiences. One woman talks of surviving brain cancer along with struggling with some issues with her family. In referring to her past experiences she says this: “They may help explain me, but they don’t define me.”

In the opening chapters Driscoll identifies a distinction between a biography and a testimony. A biography is about person’s life, accomplishments and determination. A testimony is about Jesus and how He steps in to be our Savior. Our story is more about our testimony – who we are in Christ and what He has done for us – than a biography based on our own efforts and experiences.

Each of the chapters start with the phrase “I Am” and each spells out a different aspect of our identity in Christ. To help explain our identity, he walks through the book of Ephesians and uses Paul’s words to help us see who God wants us to be.

While I thought all of the chapters were well written, I thought the chapters on suffering and spiritual gifts were well written. Driscoll ends each chapter with the scripture references he used. It is obvious he spent quite a bit of time in study as we wrote this book.

Who Do You Think You Are is a good read on our identity in Christ and a good resource for those studying the letter to the church in Ephesus. He uses a lot of scripture throughout the book, but also adds personal stories from people who have walked through these identity issues. It is a good read.

(I received this book from BookSneeze.com in exchange for my review)

90 Day Challenge – Week 5

GOYOYesterday’s reading completed Day 35, which signified the end of week 5 in our 90 Day Challenge. Now that we are over one-third of the way through, hopefully we are saying consistent in our reading and, more than that, growing in our understanding of God and His Word.

We are moving swiftly through the book of Acts and it presents such a great picture of what the church should look like. As they met together, they shared whatever they had with one another and met each other’s needs. Because of how they loved each other and treated each other, God brought more people into their fellowship. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a group that loved genuinely and served selflessly?

As persecution comes on the church, the followers of Jesus spread out from city to city and village to village. As they went, they shared what they knew about Jesus. As you read the sermons and testimonies that were shared, the followers of Jesus always came back to His life, death and resurrection. It was simply about Jesus.

Hopefully we are reminded and encouraged to simply share what we know about Jesus with those we encounter. Keep up the good work in your 90 Day Challenge.