God’s Faithfulness for 28 Years

November 12 marks the 28th anniversary of the founding of Eastridge Community Church. This morning I shared about the anniversary on the Covington Campus as part of the offering thought. Here’s what I shared:

Twenty-eight years ago this very morning, a group of about seven families stepped out in faith with the goal of starting a Bible-believing church unlike anything Newton County had ever seen. That first Sunday, we met at the home of our founding pastor, Rob Raynor. We sang some worship songs together, took Communion out of Dixie cups, and had a devotion, and then some of us got stuck watching the kids while the adults made some decisions about what we were going to be.

After our first service that day, my grandparents drove down from Marietta, where they had been in Sunday School and a service at their own church, and met us there at the Raynors’ house. They gave us the gift of our first Communion tray and some money to help start the church.

My grandparents, who would later move to Covington and become ministry partners here at Eastridge, were among the first in an unbroken line of faithful giving to support God’s kingdom through Eastridge Community Church.

Since November 1989:

  • We have opened two campuses on the east and south sides of Newton County.
  • We started a campus at Lake Oconee that spun off into a distinct church with two campuses of its own.
  • We have a Spanish-speaking ministry that is coming soon.
  • We have raised three sets of missionaries from this congregation and supported many others. Our global outreach stretches into Poland, Peru, India, Mexico, Ethiopia, and Honduras.
  • College students in Washington, DC who will be among the next generation of movers and shakers on the world stage will do so with the foundation of faith in Jesus.
  • Babies have been saved from abortion, the homeless have been given a second chance, and the chains of addiction and hurt have been broken.
  • Countless people have met Jesus through Sunday mornings, Thursday nights, children and student ministry, Trunk or Treats, Spring Flings, Christmas Eve services, and so many other venues.

All of this is possible because the Eastridge family gives so faithfully. Because you give, God uses us to bring hope and life change through Jesus Christ to this county and beyond.

I wish those of us who were there that first Sunday morning 28 years ago could thank all of you personally for giving. On behalf of everyone who stepped out in faith in 1989, thank you.

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Creative Arts 90-Day Challenge: Firmly Connected

Chapter Four of Prayer, entitled “Conversation With God,” is my favorite so far. Tim Keller spent a lot of time at the start of the chapter looking at philosophies of language and how God must be able to speak. He then tied these ideas in with the truth that God speaks to us through His Word.

The first conclusion from this discussion so far is that, when we read the Bible in faith, our time in scripture becomes in itself an act of prayer.

The concept that follows is that the Bible is our language-learning laboratory for discovering how to pray:

This was an eye-opening thought to me! I had never considered reading God’s Word as an integral part of my prayer life.

My favorite quote from the chapter tied it all together:

Your prayer must be firmly connected to being grounded in your reading of the Word. This wedding of the Bible and prayer and cause your life down in the real God.

Now I see both my reading of the Word and my prayer life in a whole new light.

Creative Arts 90-Day Challenge: The Desire To Pray

Chapter 2 of Prayer, Tim Keller gave me a pretty hefty gut check. The quote below has led me to really examine my prayer life:

I told a group of staff members in a meeting last week that my prayer life is my constant struggle. I wrestle with praying the same things all the time with little deviation or change. My richest prayers often come when I’m driving; other times they can almost be rote.

Am I beating myself up a little over my prayer life? Possibly. Because I want to pray, and I’m aware of how much I should pray. But does that desire burn within me to inspire passionate communication with God? That’s where I fear I fall short.

For a long time, I’ve desperately sought after a more vibrant prayer life. Maybe it starts with a check of my desire to pray. I’m hoping that as we dig deeper into this book, I’ll discover some of the answers and keys to making prayer more exciting for me.

Creative Arts 90-Day Challenge: An Intelligent Mysticism

In our Creative Arts ministry at Eastridge, we’re undergoing a 90-day challenge in which we’re reading two books: Prayer by Timothy Keller and Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. Part of this challenge is sharing our insights…so I thought, what better way to share than on this site. Here goes…

I just polished off Chapter 1 of Prayer. I knew I was going to fall in love with the book when Tim Keller quoted Flannery O’Connor’s wonderful Prayer Journal quite a bit in this chapter. You see, I’m a massive fan of Flannery O’Connor because she was an author from the South – Georgia, no less – and was a believer in Jesus. Heck, she even made her way into the title of my book!

One quote in particular struck me, and I think it will become a regular prayer of mine:

Why did this particular prayer jump out at me? I think it stems from my desire to be all-encompassingly in God’s presence. I want my mind to be uncluttered when I approach the the throne of God; I want my thought to only be on Him and to only be on what will bring Him glory. Flannery O’Connor expressed this sentiment in her gloriously inimitable way, and I love it!

Later on in the chapter, Keller recalls the words of Scottish theologian John Murray in another, longer quote that I deeply dig:

I love the concept of “intelligent mysticism.” The idea brings together the head and the heart in a way that makes perfect sense when describing faith. For me, sometimes my relationship with God can be cerebral. I can ponder and overthink my spiritual life to a fault. At other times, it’s deep and emotional in a way that’s almost unreal.

These two approaches to faith aren’t opposites; in fact, they’re facets of the same thing. In the rarest and richest moments, the cerebral and the mysterious come together in a most satisfying way, and the phrase “intelligent mysticism” encapsulates that tension between the two extremes.

What do you think? What stood out to you from this chapter?

From PJ Media: Fifty Years After a Tragic Diving Accident Paralyzed Her, Joni Eareckson Tada Still Offers a Message of Hope

Some incidents change your life forever. For Joni Eareckson, July 30, 1967, was one of those days. The day started out like a typical summer day, and the 17-year-old went to play in the Chesapeake Bay with her sister. Joni misjudged the depth of the water and dove in. She broke her neck and was paralyzed from the neck down.

An accident like Joni’s would shake most anyone’s faith, and her experience was no exception. She went through depression and anger and even had suicidal thoughts. Her life turned around when she learned how to paint with a brush between her teeth.

Continue reading at PJ Media

From The Resurgent: Politico Demonstrates a Shortsighted View of the Book of Proverbs

The way the news media approach scripture is always interesting. Quite often, the only time you’ll see a reporter or author quoting scripture in the media is when they are using a verse against a conservative, to call him or her a hypocrite or to throw a verse or two in his or her face (often out of context).

The latest example? Over at Politico, Joel Baden, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, has noticed that Marco Rubio has been tweeting scripture verses lately, many of them from Proverbs. So Baden decided to hold forth on what he calls “probably the most Republican book of the entire Bible.

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From PJ Media: Robert Jeffress’ Church Choir Debuts ‘Make America Great Again’ Hymn for Trump

On July 1, a rally entitled Celebrate Freedom took place at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The event featured a speech by President Donald Trump and music from the orchestra and choir of First Baptist Church of Dallas…

It’s wonderful to love your country. It’s a great thing to pray for America. It’s perfectly understandable to view our freedoms as a blessing from God. But at the same time, it’s frightening that far too many people who claim to follow Christ are willing to allow Him to take a back seat to patriotism, nationalism, and Republican politics.

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From PJ Media: Do Some Evangelicals Go too Far in Their Efforts to Bring Patriotism into the Church?

The 2016 presidential election brought politics and faith together in a way that excited some evangelical voters but made others uneasy. Then-candidate Donald Trump courted the evangelical vote in an astonishing and unprecedented way, and the melding of Christianity and nationalism created a most unusual marriage.

Trump’s nationalism combined with the effort to win evangelical voters gave some Protestant leaders, like the Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore, pause. Other leaders, like Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Texas pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress, placed themselves firmly within the Trump camp, which paid off come Election Day.

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From The Resurgent: Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party Leader Resigns Because Of His Christian Faith

It’s a statement we hear a lot coming from conservatives: “I don’t understand how a person can be a Christian and be a liberal.” Between remaining faithful to policies on abortion, transgenderism, and the size of government that fly in the face of Biblical beliefs and the general hostility toward faith on the Left, political liberalism is becoming increasingly less of a place for a Christian to feel at home.

The latest example has happened across the pond, where Tim Farron, once the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party, has stepped down from that position because he found it difficult to reconcile his party loyalty and his faith in Jesus Christ.

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From PJ Media: Another Prominent Christian Divorce Demonstrates Why We Need to Support Each Other

My parents celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Believe me, they’re aware of what an accomplishment it is these days to have had such a long marriage, and they credit their commitment to Jesus as much as to each other.

It’s heartbreaking to see how few marriages last a long time, and Christians aren’t immune to divorce. (The stats that Christian marriages end in divorce as often as non-Christian marriages isn’t quite true, but the numbers are still staggering.) Even well-known Christian “celebrities” can fall victim to divorce, as we’ve seen recently in the case of Lysa TerKeurst.

Continue reading at PJ Media