Thursday, August 18, 2011

Discovering Communion...

This past Sunday, I was setting up the communion table in the back of the middle school cafeteria where we meet each week.  One of our new ladies approached with curiosity and asked, "What's that?".  I answered, "Communion--we're going to receive communion today".  She immediately asked again, "What's that?".  I gave her a brief explanation of the Lord's Supper and what it was all about.  She then asked, "Can you show me where that is in the Bible so that I can read about it?".  Almost immediately, the best friend of this lady also walked into the room, saw the table, and asked, "What's that?".  Within minutes both ladies were seated at a table, Bibles opened, reading for the first time about Jesus' gift of communion.  Later, during the service when we were gathered as a church around the table, I couldn't help but watch with wonder as these two ladies received for the very first time these symbols of Jesus' sacrifice.  This coming Sunday, we will celebrate another first for these ladies when both of them will be baptized, along with others, in a backyard swimming pool.  We met these ladies, when in the sovereignty of God, our church was led to meet at the Severance Middle School.  You see, one of the ladies is the person who opens and shuts the building for us each week.  At first she would open the building, leave, and then return to lock up when we were finished.  Gradually she began staying longer and returning earlier until after several months, she began staying for the entire service.  And then she brought her best friend--and now they both have been attending every week ever since.  To me, the story is absolutely miraculous!  I've told them that most people go and find a church to attend.  However, they must be very special to God, in order for Him to go to all of the trouble of bringing a church to them!  These ladies illustrate the purpose and mission of Grace River--to be a safe place where anyone can come as they are and find hope and healing.  They also clearly illustrate the great love that the Father has for each of his children.  I'm glad that God has allowed Grace River to be a church without walls so that He can take us wherever we are needed.  More are waiting...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

GROWTH

Each morning, I am guided in my time of  prayer through a simple system that I developed years ago.  I have posted about that before in a blog entitled, "How to Be Heard in Heaven".  Like all systems, it is simply a tool to use and the way that I use it has continued to evolve through the years.  I invite you to use it and to make it your own in whatever way works best for you in terms of developing intimate times with the Savior each day.

Today I am focused on growth.  To the best of my ability I want to be in a state of prayer throughout the day, developing a desire to grow in these six specific ways.  I will be speaking verbal prayers.  I will be acting on opportunities that the Father may place before me today to grow in one or more of these areas.  As often as I think of it, I will be in my heart rehearsing, "God, grow my _______", putting one of the six areas in the blank or at times speaking all six, or even other areas that the Spirit may impress upon me.  After all, the point is to grow into His likeness--not just the one that I can imagine.  Here are the six areas that I'm aware of in which I need to grow today.

GODLINESS:  Father, I want to be a more perfect reflection of your Son--in every way.  Make me and mold me--break me--refine me--heal me.  Keep working until others can see Jesus in me.

RESOURCES:  Lord, I want to be a faithful steward with the things that you have given to me.  It's your stuff--not mine.  Show me today how to grow in my giving.  Bless me with more so that I can bless more!

OBEDIENCE:  Spirit, give me a sensitive heart to your leading today.  Bring to my mind every instance of hesitation that I might learn to obey immediately.  Show me my failures in the moment that they happen that I might learn from my mistakes.

WISDOM:  God, you have said that if I will ask, then you will pour out your wisdom liberally.  I'm asking.  Fill me with your wisdom that I might understand your ways and cooperate with your ideas.  I don't want to miss it.  Teach me in an obvious way today.

TALENT:  Jesus, you are perfect in everything that you do.  You have gifted me and you have resourced me.  Sharpen my skills today that I might be of more use to you in your work.  I want to be the best teacher, the best pastor, the best counselor that I possibly can be.  Perfect the gifts that you have placed upon me.

HUMILITY:  Lord, I know that you cannot use me effectively if I am proud and arrogant.  Continue to take me to the broken places in my heart until I am completely dependent upon you with no self-will remaining.  You bring down the proud and you raise up the humble.  Accomplish your purpose in me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Book

Last week, Tina signed a publishing contract with Kregel Publications.

I remember that more than fifteen years ago, Tina was in the cast of The Promise--a dramatic musical portrayal of the life of Christ, performed in an amphitheater near Glen Rose, Texas.  Over the course of a season, Tina developed some wonderful friendships--including a relationship with Dena Dyer--who is co-authoring the new book with Tina.  I also remember one evening after the show when one of the cast members (don't know who) approached Tina and asked if he could pray for her.  Included in his prayer was a prophetic word that "Tina would be published around the world".  At the time Tina had not written anything more significant than a letter.  She had never taught anything (other than Sunday School) and she had never spoken before a group except maybe to share a testimony.  Tina was a worship leader and a song-writer and so our assumption was that God would publish her music in some way.  In the last sixteen years, Tina has recorded two Cd's of her own songs, she has led worship in some wonderful places, and ever so slowly she began to write articles, stories, Bible studies, and books.  The book that Tina is writing with Dena Dyer is her third and the first to be published.  It's a long way from "around the world" but still, it's got a shot.

You can read some of Tina's writings at her blog:  Journey Moments or visit her website if you would like to invite her to your church or to your women's group:  www.tinasamples.com.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Samples' Family Update

It's about time for an update.  I have not written on the blog for quite some time.  Those that blog know that there are periods of time when you can post multiple thoughts everyday and then there are periods of time where there is just no motivation to write anything.  I don't know if I'm feeling especially motivated today or if I'm just feeling a big guilty for having not written in so long.  Either way...here I go.

I'll start with the family.  Tina signed a conract with Kregel Publications last week to write a book with one of her dear friends, Dena Dyer.  Both Tina and Dena (I like the way that sounds) are gifted writers, teachers, singers, etc.  They both have husbands who are hoping to ride their coattails all the way to the top.  This will be Tina's first published book and the Samples' house is praying for much success.  We plan to take the book on the road and to teach it wherever possible.  When the book is finished and the release date is anounced, I will certainly be letting you know (and asking to come to your church to teach it as well).

My oldest son Jaren will be marrying his fiance Jillian towards the end of this month.  It will be simple and small wedding in the mountains.  Jillian is in the Navy and they will be relocating to San Diego.  I've never been to San Diego but I look forward to visiting.  I hear that it is a wonderful place with great weather.  In the meantime, Jaren continues to teach guitar and to play in his band, A Texas Tragedy, with his brother.  They recently opened for Sheridan at a small venue in Littleton.

Zach, my youngest son, is changing schools.  Next week, he will begin his junior year at Resurrection Christian School.  He has been at Windsor for his entire academic career and so this a pretty big deal.  Rez will allow Zach to improve his grades and to get ready for college in a stronger way.  He is also excited about playing baseball for Rez.  Two years ago they barely missed winning the state championship.  We're looking forward to dedicated christian coaches who want to build strong character into their teams.  Zach is also looking for a car--something around $500--that runs, would be great.

As always, we appreciate your prayer.  We feel like God is doing a great work through our church--Grace River.  Many lives are being transformed as we continue to try to be a safe place where anyone can come as they are and find hope and healing.  I'll share more tomorrow (or the next day...lol).