The First Sign – Men’s Collectives

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Men’s Lunch Collective – Mark Horn

Read: John 2:1-11 NLT

Key Players in the Miracle

Advocate(s): Jesus’ mother clearly had a relationship of some sort with the bride and groom to be so concerned about the lack of wine as to take action to solving the problem. Do you have advocates in your life who can take your needs to Jesus? When we are in a place of need these people will come to our aid without hesitation or the need for prompting.

Assistant(s): The servants in this scene are assistants to Jesus’ miracle. They were obedient to earthly and heavenly authorities regardless of whether or not it made sense. These will be people who may or may not know Jesus. These are people that Jesus can utilize in your life to make a miracle happen even when they don’t understand it. 

Announcer(s): The master of ceremonies testifies to the goodness of Jesus’ miracle even though he has no idea where the wine actually came from. Again, these people may or may know Jesus, the source, but they recognize the extraordinary and make it known to those around them. 

Audience: The disciples play no role in the miracle other than those who stand by and watch Him work. However, what they witness changes them. They see the glory of Jesus revealed and the scripture says that they believed in Him because of it. There will always be those who witness the miracles from a distance, but still benefit like the guests and the couple in this story who have great wine to finish off their party. 

Key Principles of the Miracle

Reflection: The most profound aspect of the water to wine miracle is the mountain of symbolism that is at play. It would take hours to fully unpack all of that. However, I believe that any miracle of God will always reflect His nature and serve as a sign pointing to Him as the source. The wedding symbolizes our relationship to Jesus. The wine represents new life, but also a replacement of the law of water with the covenant of blood. The lack of wine represents Israel’s spiritual state. The filling to the brim symbolizes that Jesus desires to give us life, and life to the full. The list goes on. How do the miracles you have experienced point back to, and reflect, the God who made them happen? 

Reverberation: If we are not careful then we will begin to think that our miracle only effects us. The truth is that any miracle of God will have a ripple effect that touches lives way beyond us, even if they don’t see or know that God made it happen. I am willing to bet that people did not soon forget the wedding where the bridegroom served the best wine at the end of the party. When Heaven meets earth, and the miraculous takes place in our midst, many cannot help but be touched by its power. 

Response: We can’t witness a miracle of God and be the same. The change could be minor, but there is no doubt a demand on our lives to change the way we think and live. The response is that of the disciples, which is to believe more deeply in Jesus and for our faith to grow. Every time we experience a miracle, no matter how big or small, we are summoned to a deeper knowledge of God’s powerful presence in our lives. 

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Men’s Evening Collective – Dale Bailey

The First Sign: 

Genesis 1:1 Tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, and the spirit of God was hovering over it. In Revelation 12: 7-9 it tells us that there was a war in Heaven, and Satan and his angels were cast out of Heaven to the earth. 

We humans live in a supernatural world. The supernatural does not live in a human world. The supernatural has always been. We were created in it. There are more things going on around us that we can’t see than we can see. 

Supernatural is defined as a manifestation or event attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.

Miracle is defined as an event not explained by natural or scientific laws, such an event may be attributed to the supernatural. 

The Supernatural is natural to God. This is how he operates. He can see in the future, we can’t. 

The Grave Robber talks a lot about promptings and nudges by the Holy Spirit, and how one compliment, nudge or act of kindness can change someone’s life forever. Sometimes it is one nudge or a process with many steps or nudges before someone gets it. 

God wants us blessed and wants us, in return, to bless those around us. He owns the process and he can do it however He wants. If we are in tune with the Spirit, and those promptings, then we get the chance to be part of the process. Our readiness could make the difference in being blessed or blessing others. 

How do we become engaged in the process? How do we hear that still, small voice? I want to be ready, don’t you? 

1.Expose those hidden sins. Sin separates us from God. Unforgiveness, Lust, Jealousy, Greed, Pride are sure ways not to hear God. 

2.Ask God to open your eyes to see Him and your ears to hear Him. We have not because we ask not. 

3.Spend time with your heavenly Father. You have to get off by yourself in His presence, worship Him and just hang out. Just begin to thank Him for all He does for you and He will hold you and begin to whisper things to you. When my wife calls me on the phone, with only one word I know it is her because I spend a lot of time with her. If a stranger calls I have no idea who it is. You learn to recognize His voice by spending time with Him. Do we get it right 100% of the time? No. That should never stop us, because a soul is worth more than an occasional, “I missed it.” 

4.Start looking for those supernatural events in your own life. They are going on all the time? You just have to learn to recognize them. Once you begin to see them you will better sense His presence.

I want to be part of the process, don’t you? Begin blessing people by following those promptings and you could be the reason someone sees who Jesus really is. 

 

 

 

Slow Down

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Slow Down, Don’t Miss The Miracle!

I absolutely love the title, Don’t Miss The Miracle, from this past weeks reading in The Grave Robber, which brings me to the question: Is it possible for us to become so self-aware that we become unaware of His presence? If you could only see my facial expressions and body language, they are shouting a mighty “yes!”

For what it’s worth, we can try and blame our excessive self awareness on a busy season of demands, daily distractions that have allowed time to slip through our hands, or cycles of frustration because the residue of pain has kept us from reaching out and looking to Him. I like to think of it as being chronically distracted by self and what could be, instead what is and is to come! The present is our friend, not our foe. Embracing our “now” doesn’t mean we have to like it, but it does allow us to slow down and receive today all while remembering how He brought us through yesterday. His mercies are new every morning and this is where His Spirit speaks loudest to me.

I just recently named my quiet time, Rev Up, Fess Up, and Get Up! Whether I have 10 minutes uninterrupted or a glorious 30 minutes with my King, I Rev Up with worship and praise in my heart. I Fess Up with what I need to share and I Get Up knowing that He loves me, He is for me, and He rewards those that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 says it well, But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. My facial expressions and body language shift even now as I read His word! It truly is life to these bones and I hope it is to yours as well!

Mark Batterson shares godly wisdom and encouragement throughout his book. I want to leave you with a few thoughts to ponder until we meet on March 3rd. Mark says, he believes one of the truest tests of spiritual maturity is seeing the miraculous in the monotonous. I believe this to be true, but some days are better than others for me. Mark challenges us to not allow the residue of pain to keep us from believing in the miraculous. He also calls us to remember the man in Mark 9 who said to Jesus,“ I believe, help me with my unbelief?”

I will be reading along with you The First Sign, which will carry us through page 61 in The Grave Robber. Feel free to leave comments or responses to this post! I surely want to hear from you and how you may have been impacted as we journey together!

Promises

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IDENTIFYING THE PROMISES OF GOD

If you were to do a quick search of the word “promise” in the Bible you would find that, depending on your translation of choice, the actual word does not show up too often. In fact, the highest count of the word “promise” is found in the New Living Translation with 118. Also, when “promise”does make an appearance it is not always in reference to a promise God has made to us, His people. So what does this tell us?

For some people, this could be a discouraging revelation considering our desire to trust, believe and walk in the promises of God. Dont be discouraged! The truth is that a promise of God does not always come with the word promise attached to it. Rather than skimming the pages of the Bible for the word “promise”, it might be better to look for times when God makes a guarantee. For example:

 Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus offers us multiple guarantees in this verse that we read in all three services this past Sunday. What guarantees does Jesus make to those come to Him and get away with Him? He says:

  • You WILL recover your life.
  • He WILL show you how to rest.
  • You WILL learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
  • He WILL NOT lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
  • You WILL learn to live freely and lightly.

These sound like some pretty great guarantees. Jesus doesn’t say that He might do these things depending on how feels that day. Jesus doesn’t say that when we get our act together He will do these things. No, what Jesus says is that if you are tired, worn out or burned out all we have to do is come to Him and He WILL do all of these things. Where else are you going to find a guarantee like that? These types of guarantees or promises are all throughout the Bible.

EXAMPLES OF GODS PROMISES

Fear

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Identity

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Gods Character

“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” Numbers 23:19

Wisdom and Insight

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

Gods Provision

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Seasons

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This past Sunday we learned that God is the author of the seasons of our life. We also learned that God is the author of the seasons, days, and years.

So, we see God as the author of the spiritual seasons of our life and the physical seasons that we experience throughout the year. The physical seasons that God created can teach us a lot about the spiritual seasons that we walk through.

On Sunday, Executive Pastor, Aaron Kennedy, talked about the positives and negatives of each season of the year. Spiritual seasons are the same way, and more often than not, we tend to focus our attention on the negatives, missing the beauty which is there to be found. Our perspective matters.

Looking at the seasons from the perspective of agriculture, specifically the grower, can help us understand what type of season we are currently in, and what we can expect during that type of season.

Spring: Birth, Genesis, Beginning

Spring is the season of preparing and planting. In spring, attention to detail is most important. In spring, growers begin by preparing their land and soil for planting. Soil prep is about removing obstacles which would prevent the seed from taking root and growing. Soil prep also involves insuring the health of the soil. When the soil is ready, the seeds or saplings can be planted.

Spiritually speaking, a prepping and planting season can often be the most painful and tedious. This is where all of the “weeds”are removed. Anything that will obstruct the growth is taken away. The soil of our souls is plowed through, making way for the seed that will grow into fruit for the kingdom.

In the Spring season, we receive a small deposit that will yield a large reward.

Summer: Vitality, Youth, Progression

Summer is the season of growth and vitality. In summer, attention to healthy and sustained growth is the most important. Growers spend their time tending their crops. The key word for this season is vigilance.

Spiritually speaking, summer is often our favorite and most enjoyable. We see the growth happening. We feel alive and progress is being made all around us. The seed which was planted is growing and mostly, our job is to soak up the nutrients and water that God provides for us to grow.

However, summer can be a season of danger. If we are not careful, this is where we begin to coast and take growth for granted. We expect to always be in this season. We sometimes take our eyes off of God in these moments and the thief comes to steal or poison the crop. This is why vigilance is so important in the season of summer.

Fall: Harvest, Maturity, Gratification

Fall is the season of maturity and harvest. In fall, attention is given to assessing the ripeness and health of the finished product. Growth has slowed and crops are hanging full of fruit. Growers will spend their time watching carefully for the perfect moment to harvest their crops, and distribute them.

Spiritually speaking, this is the season where we enjoy the fruits of a long season of growth and share our fruits with those around us. It is important that we allow the fruit to grow to full maturity. We do not want to share a crop that is premature. On the other hand, we do not want to share fruit that we were late in harvesting. Even worse, we do not want to get so comfortable with growth, that we become selfish and allow good fruit die on the vine. The fruit we bear is not only for ourselves, it is for those around us. The harvest is always meant to be shared.

Winter: Reflection, Wisdom, Tranquility

Winter is the season of reflection and wisdom. In winter, attention is given to learning from the previous growing season, enjoying the bounty, and gaining wisdom for the next year. Growers will take time to rest, recover, and reflect. Likewise, they will allow their fields to infold and stabilize after a vigorous season of growth and harvest. However, there is still work to be done as farmers plan for the next planting season.

Spiritually speaking, this is the season of slowing down and learning. It is in the reflection where wisdom is gained. It is counter-intuitive for most people to slow down. We have just harvested a bountiful crop and we want more. Sometimes this drive leads us to jump over the winter and try to make spring come early. However, the winter is the season where we learn to make our next season of growth and harvest even better than the last. Winter is also the season where we rest. The season when the soil of our soul has to time to infold and recover.

 

Conclusion

When we stop to look at the natural seasons God created, then we see that He has provided a picture of what our spiritual seasons often look like. Although our spiritual seasons can be longer or shorter than the natural seasons of the year, what happens in the midst of them, and our role while we are in them, remains consistent.

Each seasons brings challenges, but God works in us during every season, even when it seems like growth isn’t taking place.

In reflection, here are a few questions to think about:

Based on the descriptions of the seasons above, what season do you believe you are in spiritually?

In light of your spiritual season, how does your perspective need to change? How does your behavior need to change?

Prayer of Trust

Father, thank you for being in control. Thank you for creating the seasons, days, and years. Today, I choose to trust you with the season that I am in. Today, I will live for your glory knowing that you will write a testimony through my years. Have your way, God.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Why Accountability?

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Have you ever felt like something was a good idea until you had to face the consequences of your decision? Why would we ever prefer good over God’s best? Were we being impatient? Did we grow weary in the process? In our search of answers, did we rely on ourselves and begin to cherish our privacy and independence to the point that we had isolated ourselves from community?

A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment. Proverbs 18:1

In my own journey of developing community and fellowship, I discovered the need and healthiness of being with others in the Christian faith. Leaning, gleaning, and believing with those that God has brought around you equips us for the journey! Not only is it biblical, it is the life that Jesus has called us to and one of the greatest commandments.

Jesus says, in John 15:12

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

Love is more than unconditional love that wraps its arms around someone that is hurting. It is also tough love that holds one fast to the truth and directs His sons and daughters when we begin to veer from what we know is God’s best for us.

Some of us have that person or group of people in our lives that are that strong voice. Much of what I have learned and benefited from in my walk with the Lord has come through other believers that made a choice to invest in me personally. These mentoring relationships can come in different forms. In Just Lead, Sherry Surratt breaks these down in a way that was easy for me to comprehend. There are peer mentors, spiritual mentors, the mentor you will never meet and specialized mentors. Peer Mentors are individuals who are in a similar stage of life as you and are passionate about growing in the same way. Spiritual mentors are a voice of wisdom and counsel who will challenge you spiritually. They are the mentors that you will never meet, who speak to you through blogs, books, and social media that can develop you personally. The final area is a specialized mentor. This is someone who has strengths in certain areas that you could learn from to continue your growth as a leader. God makes it very clear that he has called us to healthy relationships within the Body of Christ. Where there is accountability, there is responsibility. Our responsibility is to pursue these relationships, with diligence, but also allow for flexibility as our seasons in life change.

He said,” Go and make disciples and teach them all things I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20

I believe Acts 2:42 gives us a picture of what community looks like with accountable relationships. The believers continued on steadfast in several ways. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. It’s so vital that if we are going to grow in Him and experience the fullness of His joy that we take heed to Hebrews 3:12-14. It cautions us to stand firm, don’t waver, don’t be deceived, or harden yourselves towards God. It challenges us to remain faithful to the end, trusting God as when we first believed. Believers in accountability don’t watch one another, they watch out for one another. It is the “ I got your back” mentality! Hebrews 10: 23-25 encourages us to not waver, but motivate one another in acts of love and good works. Most importantly, don’t forsake meeting together as some do! Embrace the good, the bad, and the ugly! Life is better together with His sons and daughters!

Take time to reflect on who He has surrounded you with and the resources that He has provided you through your current community. Maybe this is an area that you feel is lacking. Whatever the case, begin praying and asking Him to define what you need during this season. He is sure to deliver in His timing! He is faithful!

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Gina Robinson
Life Groups Assistant Director

Five Things You Need to Know

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Open Door, I hope things are well and we are praying for you! I wanted to get this out to you guys so that you can celebrate and help spread the word about the following information! God has been beyond faithful to us and this church and unto Him is all the glory, but here are some highlights from the first three months of 2014!

  1. We paved the parking lot PRAISE THE LORD! Not only were we able to accomplish this but we did it without touching the building fund at all! Because of the faithfulness of your giving we were able to make vast improvements to our property and continue to move forward in building phase 1 of the Next Generation Building Campaign debt free!
  2. We launched a youth and young adult facility at 650 Fire Tower Road. This is nothing short of a miracle as we received the space for a fee that is unreal. This gives us the space for continued growth in our Four18 youth ministry and Uprise young adult ministry. Later this summer we will be moving some offices to that space as Open Door School continues to grow and move forward. Some of our small groups will move there in the upcoming weeks. We are in the planning stage for a dedication service for that location in the upcoming weeks when signage and renovations are complete. More information to come soon about this!
  3. We started our third service at 6pm and have been nothing short of blown away! We believed for more than 200 people in that service and God has provided. We have had well over 200 people both weeks and continue to see God grow our Sunday morning services at the same time. Please be praying for us as we are adjusting to the new schedule, and praying for volunteers so that the service can continue to grow.
  4. Overflow, our youth camp for grades 6-12, is closely approaching and we have had the best sign up ever. As of this morning, we have 90 students who have signed up! If you want to go please don’t wait as space is limited and getting close to filling up. Click here to register. It will be a week that will literally change our students’ lives! We are also looking for counselors for that week. Click here if you are interested. Please fill out the form and we will contact you soon!
  5. Last thing, we are starting a new series April 6 that I believe will be one of the most powerful times in our history and I want you to be in anticipation and praying as that date approaches. We are starting a series called 40 Days leading through Easter and into a Night of Worship scheduled on May 14. During this time we are calling for all of Open Door to set themselves aside unto God. We will do this through fasting, prayer, and daily worship. In our services that month we will be having special times for communion, a baptism service on April 13 (Click here to register), Easter, and ending with a Night of Worship focusing on the Holy Spirit. You will be hearing more about this powerful series in the upcoming weeks but I want you to begin to pray for us and for yourselves that we would be open to all God has for us during that time!

I love you and am praying for you! Please don’t hesitate to call us if you need anything and be encouraged today because “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!”

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Aaron Kennedy
Executive Pastor

Unity

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Praying and thinking about all that God has been doing in such a small time in our church body. It’s been a truly amazing year already and I can’t even begin to dream big enough to know what God is going to do for the rest of it. As awesome as that is, I have a word of caution for us in our church, families, businesses, and really in everything we do.

The other day I was getting my cardio in at the gym and when I do that I’m usually listening to some worship music getting my Jesus jam on! This one word came to mind. It was simple yet so profound in what it means to all of us. Simply put it was the word UNITY.

Two passages from Scripture come to mind when I think about this word:

1 How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
2 For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
3 Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.
-Psalm 133:1-3

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
-Matthew 5:9

These verses are powerful when applied to all aspects of our life. God commands a blessing where there is unity and blesses those who seek peace with each other. As we move forward as a church, as families, and as people who represent Christ in the work place, choose to be one that brings unity wherever you are. Protect unity when possible and CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF! :)

Always remember, no one can keep you from where God wants you, when your desire is His will. You are all sons and daughters of God, not because of us, but because of Him. May we help bring what Jesus Himself prayed “Your kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven”.

Today, my prayer for you is that His kingdom would be found in you as it is in heaven! Love you and praying for you today!!

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Aaron Kennedy
Executive Pastor

Four Things You Need to Know

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We wanted to update you four things you need to know going on at Opendoor:

  1. This past Sunday we announced that our first Sunday night service will begin on Sunday, March 9 at 6pm! Our desire is to reach new people with the message of Christ and to provide the same environment we do on Sunday mornings. To do this, we need you to pray because we need volunteers in our children’s ministry, guest services, production team, and all aspects of ministry to help us move forward in this service. If you want to volunteer in any area, please email Teresa Butrum at teresabutrum@go2odm.com.
  2. I updated the congregation this past Sunday on where we are looking for a space to lease for our four18 and Uprise environments along with office space. I am excited to report that we believe we have found a location that God has for us in this season. We are close to signing a lease, which will enable me to share the exact location. Until then, when you pull on Firetower Road, please pray God’s will for our church that He would protect us, watch over us, and guide us like He always has. More information is soon to come.
  3. Improvements to the parking lot are well underway. We just need days with good weather and without snow and rain to finish it. Thank you for your patience as we are trying to make it easier to get on and off campus on Sunday mornings.
  4. Praise God, we have seen incredible growth since the first of the year. We had record crowds for the month of January and if you have attended a service, you obviously have experienced this. Thank you for your patience and thank you for the love that you share with each other that allows us to continue to do what God has called us to do. It’s amazing to see all that God is doing! I believe we are all a part of a true move of God in our midst. My prayer for you is that you continue to seek God like never before. As we as individuals seek God, then corporately there are no limits to where God will take us and what He will do in us and through us!

We are so blessed to pastor and serve this church. Thank you for your continued prayers. Our desire is to go and do all that God has called us to and enjoy the ride that He has us on. Please consider volunteering and helping us reach more people with the Gospel. We love you and are praying for you.

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Aaron Kennedy
Executive Pastor

Now Hiring: Second Grade Teacher

Can you smell it? The distinct fragrance of anointing oil. Although this scent can be found in many churches as it’s usage comes right out of Scripture…how often is it detected in a school or child development center? At our Opendoor School, the answer is often.

The excitement of Christmas has come and gone; the erratic temperatures common to Eastern NC seem to signal to the bugs, microbes, influenzas, aches, and pains that it’s their season to rule and reign…. but not on our watch and not in our school. That’s because Opendoor School is built on the Word, God’s Word, His Healing, Restorative Word. So as I write this, I’m listening to the fervent prayers of our Staff as they move through the building, praying and anointing the classrooms and hallways…yes, and I’m enjoying the fragrance and the peace as I know ground has been taken, protection and health spoken. We take this seriously because we know it’s our inheritance as His children!

Sound too good to be true?

Want to sow into this ground of praying for students as you teach, guide, and impact young lives?

Are you an educator with a heart for ministry and teaching?

We may have a place just for you!

Opendoor School is pleased to begin the process of identifying the next addition to our school staff: Second Grade Teacher for the 2014-­15 Academic year.

Application, resumes and reference are now being accepted!

Applicants require:

  • NC State Teaching License
  • Personal Testimony of a Relationship with Christ
  • Prior Experience in Primary/Elementary Education
  • Working knowledge of classroom technology: (Smart Board, Apple Computer Products, etc.)

Please apply in person at Open Door Ministries, 4584 Reedy Branch Rd, Winterville, NC 28590. Telephone 252 321 2486 (221)

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Deana Kennedy
Senior Pastor / Life Groups Director

#Idol Series Challenge

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We recently began a new message series called Idol. We’ll be taking the next few weeks to explore the things that can distract us in life and what it really means to worship God.

We issued a challenge to the church to encourage your pursuit of God.

  1. Acknowledge His Presence – Recognize God’s Spirit each morning and ask Him to lead and guide you.
  2. Get in His Word – Spend time each morning reading two chapters from the Bible, allowing God to speak through His Word.
  3. Turn the Worship up – Think about what kind of music you are listening to. Does it honor and glorify God? Start listening to music that strengthens your relationship with God.

We hope you’ll join us as we pursue God and position ourselves to hear from Him!

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