Weekly blog

Erie visioncast weekend 2015 : message in 8 tweets!

10455293_798562446848142_4338969477753255712_n 1. Our effectiveness as a church doesn't depend on the building we're in, but the mission we're committed to. #McLaneSocial

2. Our mission at McLane Church : To eliminate barriers to give people access to Christ #McLaneSocial

3. The #CHURCH is never a building, it's PEOPLE! #McLaneSocial

4. All throughout scripture, God reminds people that WE are the resource He primarily wants to use! #McLaneSocial

5. Part of living with a mission-mindset means doing what's BEST and trusting God to handle the rest.  #McLaneSocial

6. A church full of "mission-minded" people will TRANSFORM A REGION! #McLaneSocial

7.  Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love+helping out, not avoiding worshiping together but spurring each other on #McLaneSocial

8. What is God calling you to?  Is today the day to say, "I'm IN?" #McLaneSocial

www.mclanechurch.org

#McLaneSocial and #MEETMEatMCLANE

Sometimes we have to sit on the bench...

photo-1414788020357-3690cfdab669 This year, at the prompting of my wife (yes, she's the best) we've attempted to become a #footballfamly.  We've picked a favorite team, the Denver Broncos, and have spent 16 weekends cheering on Peyton Manning and his crew.

There is a lot of emotion in football.  There is the thrill of victory and winning, the pain of loss and defeat, anger from bad calls (or at least the perceived ones), anxiousness from a dwindling clock coupled with a close score...and, well, you get the picture.  All of these are pretty easy to identify with...because we've all been there at least to some scale in our lives.

However, there is one emotion that I've struggled to identfy with...until recently.  This  emotion is the one created by players who are on the team, but have to sit the game out.  Every week, there are the players who sit on the bench just waiting to contribute while the game goes on.  Take a second and try to imagine what that feels like?!

Have you ever been, "benched" when you'd rather be in the "game?"

Being a person who is a "do-er"...and one that hates to sit still, I don't give myself an opportunity to feel this emotion much.  If I see something that needs to be done...or something that needs extra attention, I do my best to go after it and add my contribution.

For the most part, life has trained us to act in this way.  If we strive to be motivated, or successful, or ambitious...we need to go after pursuits and assert ourselves.  This can be  very good at times...but it also can be very dangerous.  I didn't realize how dangerous it could be until I got sick. :)

This week, after contracting a bug, I've had to sit on the bench a lot.  I'm a Pastor by vocation...which makes the weekend like GAMEDAY!  To take this analogy one step further, Christmas time is like the SUPERBOWL and we're in the red zone!  After having to miss the weekend before Christmas at church, I'm living in the emotion of what the bench feels like.

So far, it's taught me a few things:

1. The bench is where you focus on cheering on your team.  Here's what I know: IT'S NOT ABOUT US!  What an amazing lesson that I need to continue to learn over and over.  Maybe you need this reminder too?  Whether you're in the GAME or on the BENCH...we alwasy need to be elevating those around us...because we're in this together.  The team is ALWAYS greater than the PLAYER.  Cheering from the bench is a HUMBLE and AWESOME responsibility...one that reminds us of a healthy perspective that life is not all about us!  I want to challenge you to never look at your life as your own prosperous adventure.  Who can you cheer on today?

2. The bench provides a wide-angled perspective of the game.  So often, when we're in the game, it's hard to step back and take an objective look at the big picture of what's going on.  Our perspective from being on the field is much more myopic than the panoramic perspective from further away on the sidelines.  Stepping away for a bit allows us to gain a much needed and greater perspective.  When this opportunity comes, we need to embrace it as a gift.

3. The bench is a reminder that you've been recruited.  I want to explore this one the most.  As I've struggled to sit on the sidelines...feeling like I have something to offer while not being able to do so, this one truth has stood out to me the most: God loves me for me.  I don't have to do anything to make Him more pleased with me.  I don't have be more ambitious for Him to love me more.  My CONTRIBUTION is not MY WORTH...and MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS are not what put me on the team.  God loves me for me.  God picked me and put me on the team.  Sometimes, we can get very mistaken on why we're at where we're at.  Aside from GRACE, we'd be nothing...and on a road to no where.  GRACE is what makes us who we are...and allows us to do what we do.  We can give our best, but our best can often become an idol that we work toward.  I've been reminded of this lately.  Have you thought about your successes?  If you believe your accomplishments have allowed you to achieve success, who first gave you your abilities?  TRULY, it all comes from God's grace!  This is a great reminder...that whether we're in the game or on the bench, God has CHOSEN us, PICKED us for the team and has us SECURELY on the team to accomplish His purposes...which HE WILL work out through us!

Psalm 138:8 says, The Lord will work out his plans for my life—     for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.

So, today, if you're in the game or on the bench, these things apply to YOU!  (1) Who can you cheer on around you?  (2)How can you keep a big perspective of what's going on around you?  ...and above all (3) Remember that  God picks us FOR US...and not for what we can DO FOR HIM.  He loves us for the unique, wonderful creation of YOU...the one He hand-made as a prized posession, chosen and loved to fulfill His great purposes.

Now, I'm ready to get off this bench...

"Could this be true?" : this weekend's message 7 in tweets

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 7.45.30 PM 1. We can miss incredible opportunities when we ignore God's promptings.

2. The Holy Spirit often moves in us through POWER, PROMPTINGS and PEACE!  

3. Through the Holy Spirit's intercession and power, our lives become re-ordered, to be in harmony with Gods will and plan.

4. The Holy Spirit prays on my behalf because God always knows what I need...even when I don't know what I need.

5. When the Holy Spirit prays on my behalf, God listens!

6. The will of God is the PERFECT plan for my life.  If I could see the big picture like God does, I'd never hesitate to choose it!

7. God has the power to work EVERYTHING together for good...not just the good things in my life.  

To watch the entire message, click HERE

www.mclanechurch.org

christmas 2014 fb cover

Generations unite. Don't miss a great opportunity in front of you!

IMG_1384 1920117_949633938399050_67831668494177551_n What does it take to bring generations together?

This is a question I've asked a lot lately...because in the past 3 days, I've found myself at two different events that brought together at least 3 generations of people respectively!

Strange.  This is not the norm in my life!

The two photos above provide a snapshot of these 2 events...

Let me go into more detail:

Event 1 was a guitar clinic that we put on at our church taught by a world class player, Josh Karickhoff.  It was aimed at giving practical tools to anyone interested in becoming a better guitar player.  Kids, parents and grandparents all came together to be inspired and equipped to grow in their musicianship!

Event 2 was a "Christmas carol-sing" put on by our local MOPS program at a nearby retirement home.  Our Mothers of Pre-Schoolers (and their children) wanted to serve our community by bringing Christmas cheer / and beloved toddler-chaos to a facility that doesn't get to experience the latter on a daily basis.  :) New borns were cradled by grandparents, moms and dads sat beside their moms and dads...and youngsters exchanged hugs and hi-fives with old timers!  It was an awesome display!

As I had a front row seat to both events, what warmed my heart the most was seeing multiple generations enjoying time together.  In a fast-paced and myopically-focused world, it's sometimes difficult to see how blessed we are when we get to share an experience with multiple generations.  

Think of those your work with, go to school with, commute with, chat on Facebook with, eat meals with, go to church with (gasp), and look forward to being with...  Now, how many of these events will put you with more than 2 generations?

If you're like me...maybe not many of them.  Yet...these are what take up most of our time.

So what brings multiple generations together?  In the case of my experiences this week, I can see two unique threads:

1) An open invitation ... and 2) a common interest

Part of what I love about this season is that it it is SATURATED with open invitations and common interests.  In this season, you can experience holiday parties, family gatherings, community service opportunities, dinners, worship services...and MORE!

When these open invitations and common interests are accepted and explored with intentionality, we are enriched!

Here's what I know.  We're all part of the same family...and we've got so much to learn from one another.  Generations can take their cues of what to-do and what not to-do from the generations that came before them.  Not only that, but we're given the opportunity to love and spread hope to the generations that will come after us, should we accept that opportunity!

We cannot do this if we're solely entrenched with our contemporaries.  With humity and respect, with a heart willing to learn...and with the boldness to step out of what may be comfortable and convenient, we can LEARN SO MUCH FROM THE GENERATIONS AROUND US!

You live uniquely positioned between the generations your are in the middle of for a reason.  Have you ever stopped to consider this?

As you make your plans to prepare for Christmas this year, consider how you'll best spend your time.  Maybe this year, try to include more activities that involve open invitations and common interests!

This is part of what Christmas is all about:  ALL people from EVERY generation being INVITED to celebrate and remember the story that UNITES us into one great family!

Vertigo : Abandoned -- message in 10 tweets!

BzwWhSmIEAApURA In case you missed this past weekend : here is Vertigo Part 4 in 10 tweets!

1. Salvation = rescue from a broken way of life -- in the present as much as in the future!

2. We often try to find solutions to perceived problems while missing the real problem.

3. We were created to live in relationship with something greater.  What will you worship?

4. Idolatry = worshipping something more than our worship of God.

5. The worship of anything other than God prompts God’s anger.

6. Sin is it's own consequence

7. There is a distance we feel when we put something in our life above God.  We feel the grind of life, not the grace of worship.

8. When parts of our life aren't what we want them to be, we need to begin by asking, "Who am I listening to?"

9. Betty Crocker won’t appear out of nowhere and beat you with a spatula if you make the recipe wrong…God won’t either.

10. Are you eating bad cake?

To listen to the entire sermon : click HERE

[vimeo 108706504 w=500 h=281]

What will YOU-HAUL with you?

Uhaulfoto Inspiration comes in the strangest locations --

Earlier this week, I found myself in an non-typical place to blog…at our local U-Haul hub.  Seeing equal parts inspiration and challenge to blog about this adventure, I decided to put down the book I had brought and accept the challenge!

As I mused about my surroundings, I was reminded that we all want to be moving.  At our core, we ALL desire to be on a journey to somewhere.  Stagnancy can mean death…or at least boredom!  (Unless you’re in a forced stagnancy, which challenges you to MOVE…or blog about moving…ha)   A child will tell you that sitting still is not as much fun as going someplace…and deep down, we’re all just big kids.  We all want to be going somewhere!

From where I’m sitting, I can see all types of things to help people move…boxes, carts, hand trucks, cleaners, polishers, hitches, harnesses, rolls of packing tape and wheels.  What is the least common multiple of all of these?  I think it’s found in the name.  U-Haul. These things help YOU HAUL.  2 words…2 parts.

YOU:  The onus is first on YOU.  YOU must drop complacency…drop the perceived inability to guide your life toward God given dreams or goals…and step up to LIVE the life you’ve been given.  No auto pilot.  No lack of ambition.  No false-holiness of waiting for God to move you while harboring an unwillingness to move at His impulses.

Do you want to GO?  Are you ready to GO?  Have you abandoned the fear of potentially not knowing where you’re GOING?  I’ll tell you…the most exciting parts of life are found as your foot meets a solid, straight path through the fog of following a God who is trustworthy.

YOU must be ready.  YOU must be willing.  YOU start the journey away from complacency.

Next is HAUL:

HAULing is a little more complex.  Hauling requires that you begin to sift through all that you possess…to choose what you’ll take with you.  We all accumulate stuff.  Sometimes it’s purchased, given or willed to us…sometimes we’re forced to take stuff!  When we’re in the process of moving, we must first decide what’s important and then pack it up to move with us.

Before we talk about packing up what’s important, let’s spend a moment on leaving behind what’s not.  I am a saver.  I have WAY too much stuff.  I tend to hold onto things that I may never need.  Every so often (usually at my wife’s prompting…and usually every Tuesday night before the big green truck comes in the morning) I take a mini-inventory of all that I have…and compare it with what I’ve used…and what I need.  So often I find a substantial disconnect between all have and all I need…favoring on the side of all I have.  I’m learning to embrace simplicity.  As simplistic living eliminates the distraction of things, it simultaneously fuels a greater emphasis on experiences.  We can live with a lot less than we think!  With a lot less STUFF…we can do a lot more LIVING.  There are lots of good and bad non-essentials that we can let go of when we’re moving.  We must be selective and shrewd to only keep what’s important.  Moving is a GREAT excuse to take inventory and get rid of what’s unimportant.

Next, it’s time to pack up what’s been selected as essential to move…aka let the game of “Life-Tetris” commences!

The goal is to fit all of our “essentials” into as small and secure of a space as possible.

We begin categorizing all that we’re taking with us.  The fragile things take extra care and get the most attention.  The larger and heavier things, we place on the bottom.  We then fill in all of the odd spaces with the odd things that make up our lives.

Soon, everything we care about is packed together into one bundle of all that we desire to take with us…or as Bono says, “all that you can’t leave behind.”  I think that phrase has special relevance when moving!

And when we’re all packed up, there is a feeling that comes over us, unique to any other feeling we experience.  I’m sure you can describe it better than I can.  You’ve felt it…its a mixture of feelings.  For me, this feeling is one of completeness, readiness, adventure, uncertainty and a little sadness yet dominated by gratitude and a hope for what’s to come.  (Clear as mud…I know)

Once everything is “in the box” so to speak, YOU HAUL and the adventure continues.

I’ve heard it said that life isn’t a destination, it’s a journey.  On this journey, what YOU HAUL can speed-up or slow-up your journey.

On this journey you’re on, what will YOU HAUL with you?

Sometimes inspiration comes in the strangest of locations :)

An outward expression of an inward change...BAPTISM!

baptism2009b-344x250 There is NOTHING in this world more powerful to witness, than God changing a life!

In EACH AND EVERY one of us, God wants to do a good work...He wants to fix and fit the broken pieces of our life back together.   He desires for each of us to experience real LIFE...and that LIFE is found behind His lead!

All across the Church, people are returning to God and declaring that they want to do life God's way...and when we turn to Him, He starts a redeeming (fixing, life-giving, eternal) work inside of us.

If this is YOUR story, than maybe NOW is the time you'd like to publicly declare just that!  Scripture declares that we demonstrate this desire to live behind Jesus's lead by getting baptized!

Our next baptism at McLane Church Erie will be on Sunday, October 5th.

Would you like to be baptized?

If so, fill out the form locate HERE -- and we'll make sure the whole church celebrates along side of you the change God is doing inside of you!

For more information about baptism, visit http://www.mclanechurch.org/main/index.php/First-Steps/baptism.html

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name. - Acts 22:16

I am a "sent one"

photo1

This past weekend at McLane Church, we were given a challenge...

This challenge was a call to recognize our God-given purpose in the places we find ourselves in all throughout the week.

Romans 10:13-15 says, 

For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

God has sent us to be messengers of GOOD NEWS!  It's our job to be intentional about seeing the environments we live in (work, school, social media, the marketplace, our homes...and many more) as places to be SALT AND LIGHT!

Where will you be this week?  How can you be intentional about being a "sent one?"  

I'd love to hear your feedback on this week's message -- or a story about what happened as you moved throughout your day intentionally as a "sent one!"  

 

Life's lemonade.

glass

One tall polka-dotted glass begs that you fill it with lemonade…especially in the month of August.  Feeling like summer was starting to slip away, I decided to hold on a little longer and make some lemonade.

We have this home-made recipe that we’ve made countless times to bring refreshment and relive the calm idealism of kids, lemonade and all that summer should stands for.

As I began to concoct a fresh pitcher this past week, I noticed something interesting about this familiar recipe.  I noticed it because I was thinking about what was going on in my life at the time.  

You see, to make a GREAT tasting lemonade, according to my recipe, you need equal parts sugar and lemon-juice.  The bitter paired with the sweet.  The too-strong to stomach with the too-sweet to savor.  

As I was mixing these two together I thought about these last few years of life with incredible highs…and lows.  I thought about my boys being born and I thought about those whom I’ve loved who have passed.  I thought about painful moves in career and new opportunities that have presented themselves because of it.  I thought about times in my marriage that have been seemingly effortless and other times that were much more of a struggle.

To stay in any one of those moments would be like drinking pure lemon-juice or sugar.  A great tasting life has them both.  

If you’re in a season right now where life is too sour to stand…or too sweet to savor…keep living and stirring the pitcher, because we believe in a God who’s promised “to refresh the weary and satisfy the saint.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

Sometimes how God refreshes us…is by giving us one more day of life to temper and stir all that we’re going through to make one tall, great tasting polka-dotted glass of refreshing lemonade. 

Wherever you're at, whatever you're going through, may God give you the strength today to continue to press on. 

 

8.10.14 Set list (and a month's worth of set lists at McLane Erie)

unnamed-2 You Are My VisionMary Elizabeth Byrne, Eleanor Henrietta Hull, and Rend Collective Experiment

O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing - Charles Wesley (Crowder Arr.)

Our Great God - Powell, Mac | Ortega, Fernando

In Christ Alone - Townend, Stuart | Getty, Keith

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8.3.14 Setlist

Psalm 66:5 Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!

Today is the Day - Paul Baloche and Lincoln Brewster

Psalm 66:3-4 - Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.

Our God - Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves, and Chris Tomlin

Whom Shall I Fear - Ed Cash, Scott Cash, and Chris Tomlin

Psalm 66:19-20but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Psalm 66:16Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.

I Am - Ed Cash and David Crowder

Amazing Grace (Chains are Gone) - Tomlin, Chris; Excell, Edwin O.; Newton, John; Rees, John P.; Giglio, Louie

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7.27.14 Setlist

RelentlessMatt Crocker and Joel Houston

1 John 4:16 (NLT) We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

How He Loves - McMillan, John Mark

Come Thou Fount - Crowder, David

Because He Lives - Gloria Gaither and William J. Gaither

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7.20.14 Setlist

Romans 8:1-2“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”

Beautiful One - Hughes, Tim

Romans 8:19-21 - “The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.”

Holy Is The Lord - Tomlin, Chris \ Giglio, Louie

Romans 8:31-39 “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way!”

In Your Presence - Elevation Worship

Raised To Life - Elevation Worship

 

 

 

From high above, you can see things clearly...

ChicagoOverhead Last week, my wife flew through Chicago.  As she approached the runway, she was taken back by the image above.  Through one window, she was able to see most of the 3rd largest city in the USA.  She had to capture it to share with me.  Wow!

What a perspective!  As we talked about this last night, we shared how grateful we were for perspectives like this...and for what they can teach us.

There is a BIG picture and a SMALL picture to every part of our journey in life.  In other words, there is an "on the ground" perspective...and also a birds eye view.

As we looked at this picture together, we were challenged to remember the big picture of our lives...and the perspective from which God navigates us with.

I'd love to know what this perspective speaks to you!  Feel free to share in the comments below!

 

 

 

"Stuck in the rain"...and the problem with overlooking small problems

broken-windowMy broken window theory. The other night, it was incredibly beautiful outside and we decided that it would be perfect to go and play tennis with some friends.  After the sun had gone down, we did just that.

About an hour into playing tennis, we heard rumbles of thunder and could see clouds rolling in over the bay.  We decided to stick it out and keep playing.  A half hour later, there were more consistent rumbles and flashes of lightning too.  We continued playing.  Fifteen minutes after that, we felt drops on our heads and hands.  We still weren't moved.  Finally, it poured and we scrambled back to the car.

As we were scrambling, I remembered that the window to the car was stuck down.  So, guess what, the driver (aka me) got drenched.  Rain was flushing into the car as I drove home using the wipers and also wiping the inside of the windshield so I could see.   What an inconvenience!!!

For a moment I thought, "Wow, this is the worst possible time for it to rain."  Two seconds into that thought, I realized that the window had been broken all day...even two days now...and I had two full days to fix the window but I didn't.  It wasn't until it rained that the broken window bothered me.

Problems like my "broken window" seem to be common.  These types of "small problems" often remain in a state of disrepair until it is absolutely URGENT that they get fixed.  The sad thing is that I knew the window was broken, I had all the warning signs that the storm was coming, I just played dumb...and I got wet. :)

How often do we allow small problems in our lives to go unfixed and choose to ignore them rather than to repair them.  As the broken window didn't seem so bad until the storm came, so can our problems seem insignificant until they cause a crisis!

My advice is to take note of the little things in life that you know you should work on.  Little problems turn into big problems under the "right circumstances."  Those "right circumstances" have a an even greater chance of coming with each ignorance of an opportunity to fix them.

"My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared." Proverbs 3:21-26

Don't let you motivation to fix a problem be that it's too late not to fix it.

 

Work day / service opportunity this SATURDAY...and a few "before" photos!

1522287_699396010127853_3685406124584371276_n This SATURDAY, the forcast will look like this:  Sunny, high of 73 degrees, and tons of fresh air!

The place to be on SATURDAY is McLane Church Erie for our annual work day!  This year, we'll have plenty of indoor AND outdoor work to do...would you consider joining us from 8-12PM?

We'll be painting our PowerZone area, doing some deep cleaning in our worship center, mulching and trimming around our building...and more!

Let's make a "splash" in our neighborhood and in our facility!

Here are some "before" pictures -- next week, I'll post some of the "after" pictures!  IMG_0454 IMG_0453 IMG_0455 IMG_0452 IMG_0451 IMG_0450

 

 

How to connect with "The Church and it's 20-somethings"

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 11.03.42 AM At the conclusion of Pastor Bill's message this past weekend, we were told about the new adventure that one of our former G3 Students, Taylor Snodgrass (@taysnodgrass5) is embarking on this summer.  He and his team are setting out to explore how churches all across our nation are effectively reaching out to 20-somethings!

What an interesting journey!  Taylor, Heather and Maria noticed an alarming trend among 20-somethings in today's church and have made it their mission to discover more about it.  The trend I'm referencing is this:

According to the BARNA group,  "nearly six in ten (59%) of these young people who grow up in Christian churches end up walking away from either their faith or from the institutional church at some point in their first decade of adult life."

Here's their reaction to the data: "We see the stats.  We see the proof.  We've heard the stories.  Now we are going to go see it all for ourselves.  But instead of staying stuck on how churches are failing to reach out to our generation, we want to look at the amazing things they are doing and how they are succeeding." 

This is why they're taking the summer to travel all across our nation to meet with some of the churches who attract 20-somethings with the greatest success.

And...they're encouraging YOU to come along for the ride through social media.

To learn more about who they are -- and how to keep connected to their journey across the nation this summer, click HERE

To watch Pastor Bill's entire message entitled, "Living beyond yourself," click below

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 11.31.21 AM

 

Companionship, meals and seizing the opportunity!

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 1.07.56 PM Companionship, meals and seizing the opportunity!

You may be interested to find out that the origin of the word "companionship" comes from two latin words: cum (meaning "with") and panis (meaning "those who break bread").

This means that the word, COMPANIONS, literally translates into "with those who eat together."

Who do you eat with?  Who are your companions?  Are you seizing the opportunities afforded by meals to get to know the people you are eating with?

We have been so blessed to have so much...and much of what we have, we can often take for granted.

We far too often miss the opportunites for physical AND non-physical nourishment that meals provide us with because we rush through them on our quest to get to the next "thing."

Sometime today, if given the opportunity...please stop, eat, and just enjoy companionship with someone.  You may find that in breaking bread together with someone, you're doing much more than just nourishing your body.

"They all ate and were satisfied" - Mark 6:42

A preview of this coming weekend at McLane Church Erie (5.25.14)

Hey Church -- I'm still so jazzed by the amazing stories we heard last weekend at our baptism service!  God is moving in powerful ways in the lives of people at our church.  That's what He is EXCELLENT at doing!  I'm praying this week that you are seeing instances of God moving in your life in powerful ways as well.  He's ALWAYS there...and ready to step in to help at a moment's notice.

I love how Romans 15 puts it in the Message paraphrase!  In verses 3 and 4, Paul writes,

"That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us."

He wades into our troubles -- endures the mess -- and helps us get out of it!  What a beautiful thing!

This weekend, we'll have some more really exciting things happening at our church.  For a sneak preview, check this out:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4WjlylOLmY&w=560&h=315]

Hope you're able to join us at 9 or 11 AM...and bring a friend with you!  God may use you to be an extension of his incredible "HELP" in someone's life!

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Small groups...should I or shouldn't I join?

With all of the opportunities that are constantly coming our way...how does one sort out which activities to participate in? Learning to separate out the good from the great, the practical from the impractical, the shoulds from the shouldn't-s often is a HUGE challenge.

Joining a small group may be one of these types of situations for you.

How do you choose if you should or shouldn't join one?

If you're on the fence, check out this story about Christina's experience with her small group.

It may help you pick a side of the fence to camp on if you're searching for this type of experience!

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 8.51.39 AM

To read the full story, click HERE or click on the picture above.

If you're interested in connecting with a small group at McLane Church Erie - click HERE!

Do you feel like your best days are behind you?

CLBS Do you have a case of “Chronic look-back syndrome?

(to be read like an infomercial…humor me)

Do you lie awake at night having dreams of what used to be?  Do you approach your life like the best days are already behind you?  Do you feel like your worth and potential have diminished over time?  Did you recently purchase bubble yum?

If you find yourself having one or more of these symptoms, you may discover that you have a case of “Chronic look-back syndrome” or CLBS as we’ll refer to this from hereafter.

Don’t worry.  This illness is much like the chicken pox.  Everyone has the potential to get it once…but if it’s taken care of properly, your immunity will build up making future cases unlikely.

Many people are currently suffering from CLBS...just listen to conversations going on around you.  You may even find that your family is prone to CLBS.  If you hear the words, “When I was your age…” or “there was a time when…” or “a loaf of bread or a movie cost only…” you’re most likely talking with someone who has it!  Chances are you’re in good company if you do have it!

The good news is that just as CLBS is contagious (through person to person contact) … the antidote is passed along the same way…through people!  And here’s the best part, the cure is free…and if you search deep enough inside…you’ll see that you already have it!

It’s not $19.95…you can’t double your order if you RETWEET this in the next 20 minutes…and there’s no sham-wow as a bonus gift for mentioning this ad.

However, if you choose to pass the antidote along, you’ll get more in return than you’ve given away…and you’ll never run out as long as you keep using it.  In fact, your immunity will be strengthened each time you help someone infected with CLBS!   You really can’t lose.

There is hope.

A little encouragement goes a long way to someone who seems to be stuck.  Set your faith forward and know that the best days are always ahead of us!

Spread the encouragement.  Give hope.  You do not have to be stuck :)  Pass it on!

What do you do to get unstuck?

 

Experiencing the bittersweet tension of Easter

EastertensionThere is an incredible tension between Palm Sunday and Easter.  I’ve wrestled with it more this year than in any previous year.  Here where I get stuck:

In a span of just seven days, we see a complete 180 degree turn of the human heart.  From extreme love and elation - to hateful accusations and a horrific death sentence.  From welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem with tears, shouts of joy and creating a “red carpet” of Palms for his donkey to walk upon - to the betrayal of Jesus into the hands of those who would spit on him, mock him, whip him and hang him on a cross to die a criminal’s death!

How COULD this happen?  How DOES this happen?  What do I learn about GOD…and what do learn about MYSELF through experiencing the seven days in between Palm Sunday and Easter?

Here’s what I’m learning:

Let’s start with God.  We learn that above all “feelings,” God remains steadfast.  We learn that God knows how fragile and fickle the human heart is.  He knows that with one breath we can praise Him…and in the next, we can curse him.   Through it all, He remains steadfast…and His love for us is certain.  Jesus wasn’t swayed by the people’s praise…or by threats, insults, and murder.  He came to fulfill the mission God gave Him…a mission of love…and he finished it no matter how he was treated.  Wow.

     John 2:24-25 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. No one     needed to tell him what mankind is really like.”

Next, here's what I learn about me.  I am fickle and my feelings change from week to week.  I am a different person from one day to the next it seems.

To quote a great band: “But I’m a million different people from one day to the next, I can’t change my mold, no” - the Verve “Bittersweet Symphony”

I am no different than the person who cried “Hosanna” and who a few days later yelled, “Crucify Him.”  I’m no different because when I’m not pushing toward God, I begin to let my feelings, circumstances and a myopic view of the world push me away from Him.

Unchecked feeling have a tendency to dull good perspective.  And when unchecked feelings rule, anything is possible.

This season, I’m delighting in the fact that God is above all my feelings.  His love for me is certain.  It will not change even as my feelings about him change.

I’m also celebrating the fact that what He did for me is immovable.  It isn’t conditional.  God’s grace for me is nothing about what I feel.  God’s grace ALWAYS trumps my feelings.

Lastly, I’m clinging to the tensions of faith.  The tensions that exist in clinging to hope while living in a broken world.  The tension between living with sight and walking by faith.  The tension between pain and promises.  Truly, the tensions between misalignments of Heaven and Earth in real time.

These tensions beg that we continue to walk forward and pursue a kingdom that is coming.  A kingdom that Jesus began ushering in…and now invites us to help bring it’s fulfillment!  These tensions are what keep us from becoming complacent insofar as the work isn’t finished yet!

May God continue to shape our hearts and perspectives this season…and may we never become complacent in our pursuit of Him.

What is God teaching you this season?

_______________________

Experience Holy Week 2014 at McLane Church Erie | 1654 W. Gore Rd. Erie, Pa 16509

Tuesday, 4.15 - 7PM : Fasting / Prayer Night

Friday, 4.18 - 7PM : Good Friday Service

Sunday 4.20 - 9AM and 11AM : Easter Celebration

www.mclanechurch.org

4 questions to help keep your heart soft!

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 10.34.48 AM A wise preacher once said, "I preach for Thursday...not just for Sunday."  The thought behind this statement is that it's easy to keep focused on God and what He's teaching us on Sundays.  However, as the week progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to recall these things as we walk through our week and the "natural entropy of memory" sets in!   However, to live WELL, we NEED to continue growing all throughout the week!  With that thought, I want to recap a HUGE lesson we learned this past Sunday:

In Zechariah 7, we see a group of people coming to the temple to seek God's favor.  They have a question to ask of God...and this question is about a "fast" that they had been doing for 70 years.  They wanted to know if they still had to do it.

How many times do we find ourselves asking, "Do I still need to do this?"  or "What's the point?" or "Is this even still worth it?"  I ask these types of questions all the time!

Rather than answering these questions directly, we learn about God's prevailing concerns about us in his response.

Zechariah 7:9-10 [9 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10 Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.]

It's almost like God sees the question about fasting...but then directs his answer to the true issue at hand...the condition of their hearts!  God is ALWAYS most concerned about the condition of our hearts.

Asking if we HAVE-TO-DO something can be a good indicator that our heart is not in the right place!  Yet, we need to always be mindful of the condition of our hearts.

As we processed this thought together,  I left our church with 3 questions to help us evaluate how our hearts are doing:

1. Where are you just going through the motions of life?

2. Is your pursuit of God for YOU or for HIM?

3. What do you need to do TODAY to soften your heart?

To help us carry this thought into Thursday :), I want to add a 4th question into the mix:

4. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LET GO OF TODAY TO SOFTEN YOUR HEART? 

Our time is too short...and life is too precious...to have hard hearts.  Being too busy can make us loathe the good things that we're to do...and it can give us more room to do the things that will keep our hearts soft (bringing peace and harmony into our relationships, showing love and loyalty to our neighbors, looking out for the weak and oppressed around us and practically stepping in to help)!

Is there something that you need to let go of today to keep your heart soft?

What will you let go of?  I'd love to know!