From My Heart to Yours! In one word – GROW!
2013 Vision Casting Message by Greg Bondurant
Thank you for giving $7,953.50 the last few weeks to help with benevolent needs. Thank you for blessing this community.
I have a special guest for you to meet today. This is Cathy Monteiro. Cathy is a 2nd Grade Teacher at Emerson Elementary School here in Westerville. Cathy introduced us to a family she knew and we helped them through last year’s Gift Shop. The daughter wrote us a thank you note. Here it is. Dear Westerville Christian Church and Miss Tracey, Thank you so much for giving us the bed, games, balls, and books. You guys are the best. You guys are like the nicest church EVER! God bless you guys. Once again thank you so much. I may be biased. But I too think we’re a pretty NICE church! However…
How many of you have ever played the board game Monopoly? The game is owned by Hasbro and has been around for nearly a hundred years. Sometimes I think it takes a hundred years to finish the game, but that’s just me! On January 9th Hasbro launched its “Save Your Token” campaign.[i] Players must vote for the token they want to keep. One of these is going to get the boot. It should be the shoe right? Of these, which is your favorite game token? One is missing. Does anyone know which one? I see the racecar, iron, Scottie Dog, wheelbarrow, shoe, top hat, and thimble. The missing piece is the battleship! Now here’s what I didn’t know. According to Lauren Sullivan from Today.com, “This isn’t the first time Monopoly has introduced replacement tokens. According to Hasbro.com, the lantern, purse and rocking horse got the ax in the early 1950s, making way for the dog, wheelbarrow and the horse and rider (the horse & rider eventually got booted from the box, too).”[ii]
Now maybe you’re curious? What’s going to replace the token that gets sent to jail and does not collect $200? One of these five: a toy robot, diamond ring, cat, helicopter, or guitar! I think the toy robot is kinda cool! Voting has been happening since last Wednesday. So far the iron is not flattening the competition. If you want to save the iron you’d better hurry. Go to Facebook.com and search “Save Your Token” or tweet #tokenvote. Voting ends February 5. Hasbro will reveal the new token on February 6! As you can imagine some traditionalists are none too happy about the change! Tabasco Ed said, “What is the point in messing with this tradition? Leave well enough alone.” Dana said, “Don't get rid of any of them. Companies think they always need to change things. It's a great game just the way it is!!!! LEAVE IT ALONE!!!!
But there is a reason for the change. Gerrick Johnson, a toy analyst for BMO Capital Markets said “The sales of board games have dropped dramatically as people turn to their smartphones and tablets. Newness helps sales and there’s not been allot of newness.”[iii] I want to share a message I’ve simply entitled, “From My Heart to Yours.” So, from my heart to yours as NICE as Westerville Christian is I also think we need some “newness.” That is I believe some changes are needed and here’s why!
I sense it in my own life. I think it’s easy to get complacent as a Christ follower - to think that the essence of Christianity is to show up one hour one weekend. A read an article by Adrian Boykin entitled Losing My Edge. And we can. Enthusiasm for God begins to fade. I’ve sense that in my own life and in the life of this church. So I asked my elders that question and they agreed. I asked a few other people that and they agreed. Now I’m asking you. Is your enthusiasm for God growing or fading? Here’s one way to figure that out. On January 26 we will provide you a website link. This link will take you to an online Spiritual Life Survey. You have a 14 day window (1/26-2/8) to complete the survey. May I forewarn you? The survey is comprehensive (20-25 minutes), completely anonymous and important!
Last October John Chilcote and I traveled to Atlanta to attend the Catalyst Conference. When the conference was over I started praying this prayer. “God, please give me one word that would change my life and the Westerville Christian Church in 2013!” He gave me that one word! GROW! In 2013 everything we do as a church will be centered on GROWING!
Practically, what does that mean? You have a number of items on your chair. A sermon outline, a FBR bookmark and a MP/baptism FYI sheet. Let’s take the sermon outline first. I want you to take notes. I think we have a better shot at growing if you take notes. I have come to understand I am not responsible for your spiritual growth. I cannot make you eat, but I am responsible for preparing the food. FBR is where you can get this awesome binder! The cost is only $2.00. Also, whatever sermon topic is taught in here, that same topic will be taught for Middle School and High School students. Simple is better. Studying the same topic puts everyone on the same page. I have also found that concise directions help. So here are some guidelines for ministry partnership and a little Q&A on baptism.
Look at the front of your handout. We divided GROW into four quarterly topics. Add to your faith – study in 2 Peter. Choose to forgive – Use your gifts and Share the story. If you will – guess what happens? You’ll grow! I’m especially pumped about sharing the story. Starting the weekend of Sept 7 & 8 we will spend the next 39 weeks studying the major themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. What’s exciting here is that this will be an all church effort. All adults, students and children will all be studying the same theme at the same time! But that’s then – what about now? Open up your Bibles today to 2 Peter 3:1. Do you need a Bible? Now why 2 Peter? This letter is all about growing in Christ! (Read 3:1 – now go the very last verse in 2 Peter – 3:18! That works for me? How about you? Let’s grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Highlight three words in verse 18. GROW – GRACE & KNOWLEDGE!
Let’s take GROW first. Grow mean “to increase.”[iv] It means to “make an effort.”[v] No one grows without making an effort. Even a baby has to eat. You want to get into shape. You have to make an effort. You want to learn. You have to crack open a book! You want your marriage to be better – you have to make an effort. Let me tell you about Fred & Edna. Fred and his wife Edna went to the state fair every year. Every year Fred would say, "Edna, I'd like to ride that airplane." And every year Edna would say, "I know, Fred, but that airplane ride costs ten dollars, and ten dollars is ten dollars." One year Fred and Edna went to the fair and Fred said, "Edna, I'm 71 years old. If I don't ride that airplane this year, I may never get another chance." Edna replied, "Fred, that there airplane ride costs ten dollars, and ten dollars is ten dollars." The pilot overheard them and said, "Folks, I'll make you a deal. I'll take you both up for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say one word, I won't charge you, but if you say one word, it's ten dollars." Fred and Edna agreed, and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of twists and turns, rolls and dives, but not a word was heard. He did all his tricks over again, but still not a word. They landed and the pilot turned to Fred. "By golly, I did everything I could think of to get you to yell out, but you didn't." Fred replied, "Well, I was gonna say something when Edna fell out, but ten dollars is ten dollars."[vi] Do you want to be useful for God? You have to make an effort. Choose to GROW! OK. So what’s it mean to grow in grace?
Grace is described as amazing. “A little boy was brought into our emergency room after ingesting part of a plug-in air freshener. After consulting Poison Control and monitoring him, the doctor wrote on his discharge papers, “Patient doing well. Getting ready to go home. Smells good.”[vii] Grace enables us to smell good. Do you know of anyone named Grace? I know Grace Cvelbar. You name a girl Grace because you are asking for God’s favor on her life. Do you ever pray before you eat? Sure. Why, because you’re asking for God’s blessing. Grace is favor or blessing. Better yet. Grace is unmerited or underserved favor. It gets even better. Grace is “receiving without deserving.”[viii] I was driving south on Route 3. What did that driver need from me? GRACE! Grace makes me think of Peter. Peter knows the sting of failure. His picture in the dictionary is right next to the word DENIAL! When Peter denied Jesus he thought his days were over. But Jesus gave him what he didn’t deserve – GRACE! Grace also makes me think of Peter’s first letter. Why? Peter’s dear friends are suffering from persecution and suffering pushes you to draw some wacky conclusions. Namely this BIG one! God doesn’t care. Have you ever thought that? Are you thinking that right now? What is going to prevent someone from going south spiritually? Grace sure helps, but Peter’s answer is knowledge. Knowledge is general intelligence. Knowledge implies understanding![ix] Here’s where I get into trouble. I let me feelings override what I know to be true!
Sometimes I feel like God doesn’t care. But knowledge tells me that he does care. He created us. He rescued us. He gave us his son. He had the power to prevent Jesus from experiencing pain but allowed that pain anyway. Know this to be true – God cares. Sometimes I feel like Jesus is just one of many people pointing us to God! Peter disagrees. Look at the end of verse 18. This is a doxology. Doxologies are offered to God, but this one is to Jesus because Jesus Christ isn’t just anyone! We are to spend our lives growing - making every effort to know Jesus more and more. Not so that we can spout facts about him, but to counter what we know isn’t true! Peter teaches what Jesus taught him. Jesus said he will come back. Luke tells us it will be just as he left. But the 2nd time everyone will see it!
I want to meet this man. His name is Jack Tanner and Jack is the minister of the Newtown (Conn.) Christian Church. Jack was interviewed by Paul Boatman and the interview was printed in Christian Standard Magazine. Paul asked Jack this question, “Do you have a word from God to us?” Jack answered, “My cousin Tom sent a message, “We mourn Newtown as Rachel weeps for her children.” That speaks to me. People I know and love are suffering beyond imagination. I hurt for pains too deep for words. I have not heard townspeople asking, “Where was God”” or “Why did he not stop this?” What I have heard is, “Church is where we need to be!”[x] And church is where we need to be. Because when we are connected with God and connected with people. We GROW!
[iv] Logos Bible Software, 2 Peter 3:18
[v] Allen & mark Black, CP NIV Commentary, 2 Peter, 224
[vi] http://www.gcfl.net/ten dollars is ten dollars
[vii] Reader’s Digest Humor Collection, Stupid Medical Tricks, 43
[viii] Paul Cedar, Communicator’s Commentary, 2 Peter, 241
[ix] Logos Bible Software, 2 Peter 3:18
[x] Christian Standard