Serving does the heart good.

This past Monday (July 4th) we had a group of Waterwatermark servemarkers gather together to serve the city of Ferrysburg. We helped with the 4th of July picnic. The city puts on a free family-friendly fun party to celebrate. They were calling for volunteers and a Watermarker saw the need and rallied a bunch of us to help.  We had a blast and we had an opportunity to be a blessing to the organizers.

I personally found my heart come alive in the midst of the serving. I had the privilege of hanging out with Jeremy Hower and helping kids with the bounce house. Here are some of the reasons my heart came alive through this serving experience:

  • This was organized and championed by a Watermarker who is not on our staff team. She heard about the need and led the charge and did an amazing job communicating and organizing!  Way to go Christine!!!
  • We didn’t dream up our own event, we simply added willing hands and good attitudes to an existing event in need of volunteers.  The organizers of the event are great people and it was a joy to work alongside them.
  • I had a lot of great opportunities to meet all kinds of new people and chat. As an extrovert this filled up by batteries. As a missionary to West Michigan it was a reminder of all the different people in our community we are summoned to love in Jesus’ name.
  • This serve event took place in the community that we are starting another Watermark gathering site. We already have people living and working there, but I was thankful to practically serve and connect with more people in the community before starting any gatherings there. It gave me greater passion to join other churches in seeing people experience life with Jesus.
  • Everyone had a great attitude. I was so proud of all those who participated! We wore t-shirts that said, “sent on mission”, but I was more thankful that I saw people lovingly living it out.
  • I got to see my kids jump in and serve. I desire for my family to be people who look to help others and not merely look at ourselves. This opportunity sparked conversations in our family about what we value, why we serve, and being the presence of Jesus.

So I thank God for the chance to participate in a small way to His big Kingdom movement and I thank Him for breathing joy into my heart. I pray God will keep my eyes and heart open to the moments He brings me to serve others.

How about you?  Where might you have an opportunity to join in and discover the joy of serving others?

Vision of the past

When we started Watermark Church in 2003 we started it with a picture of what we believed could and should be. We started with a snapshot vision.  I wanted to share the original first attempt at picturing the preferred future of our faith family and wider community. This gives a bit of insight into the original DNA, prayers and dreams of our faith family.

Here is our original vision snapshot:

“Because Jesus is the center of our lives and we are devoted to Him, there is a contagious sense of awe, joy and generosity. As a result…

> people are constantly living life together in unity
> the wider community is being served and transformed
> the community’s understanding of what it is to follow Jesus is being redeemed
> the lost are becoming followers of Jesus
> the next generation is a catalyst for the movement and an example to all believers
> God’s Spirit of creation inspires innovation throughout the body
> new churches are being planted from Watermark throughout the world

The entire time the church is giving praise, credit and recognition to God.

And the Lord is rapidly expanding His Kingdom…”

 

I’m still inspired and praying for God’s breakthrough. Also, the seeds of these dreams have grown and still are found among us. 🙂

7 Letters Resources

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I have thoroughly enjoyed studying and teaching through the seven letters to the churches in Revelation found in Revelation 2-3. What makes the teaching even more meaningful is that I was blessed to learn about each city/church this Summer by traveling to each place in Asia (western Turkey). The trip was outstanding, the teaching was challenging, and I was able to go on this trip with my father.

Below are some of the resources I have used for this series (besides the Bible):

1) Traveling to Turkey on a Biblical Study Tour with Brad Gray. This trip was a spiritual, intellectual, and physical experience. I highly recommend going on a trip with Brad. It is worth the investment. I hope to take a group of Watermarkers to Turkey or Israel someday for a trip like this!  Here is Brad’s info and trips.

2) Guidebooks: A couple good guidebooks help you walk through the site, learn more of the background, and present some interesting information. I’ve used “A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey” by Fant and Reddish. I also utilized “Biblical Turkey: A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor” by Mark Wilson.

3) Commentaries: I used a number of commentaries, but I enjoyed “Revelation” by Ben Witherington III and “Revelation” by Mark Wilson the most.

4) Book: “The Seven Cities of the Apocalypse” by Roland Worth is an outstanding book that puts together a wide variety of resources to explore each church community being addressed in the letters. This book is out of print and pricey, but I used one from a library. Yeah for libraries!

5) Websites: Ray Vanderlaan has good stuff on Israel and Turkey on his site: “Follow the Rabbi”.  I like to explore sites through pictures at “Bible places”. Another site/publication I enjoy is Biblical Archaeology Society.  Mark Wilson has a website with some information at “Seven Churches Network.”

All of these resources were very helpful, but the most impacting was the trip to study the letters in the places they were written to. The trip pulled together the passion, the pictures, and the information into a transforming experience. The best part of the trip and the study was that I experienced God, His love, and His mission.

I am thankful to my church family for giving me the gift of time to travel this Summer to experience God and His story in this way. I am grateful to the group that I traveled with, for the impact on my life. I am also thankful for my father who traveled with me, and helped make the trip possible. Finally, I am blessed to have a wife and family that encouraged me to go and experience this (even though I was gone a couple weeks).

You can watch the “Seven Letters” teaching here (with follow up questions for small groups).

BELONG :: Resources

575466_10151463461398763_38007252_nBELONG :: Next Step Resources

Kids Belong Event:

Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

Century Club Ballroom
356 West Western Ave
Downtown Muskegon

Learn more: www.kidsbelong.com/event

 

Kids Waiting For A Forever Family:

Visit Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange: http://www.mare.org

See pictures of kids in need of a home right here in Michigan.

 

Organizations To Answer Questions And Help You Take Next Steps:

Learn more about Foster Care and Adoption:

Department of Human Services: www.michigan.gov/dhs

Bethany Christian Services: http://www.bethany.org/

Catholic Charities: West Michigan: http://ccwestmi.org/foster-care-adoption

 

Additional Ways To Be Involved:

Provide a short term loving environment for a child whose family is experiencing a pressing difficulty:  Safe Families: http://www.bethany.org/main/safe-families-children

 

Prayer guides to pray for orphans here and around the world:

http://kaywarren.com/wp-content/uploads/Orphan-Care-Prayer-Guide.pdf

http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/User/Document/Fosterprayerguide.pdf

 

Pray and ask God what He is calling you to do.

 

Adopt a foster or adoptive family. Decide to be an encourager, supporter, and helper to a family that has answered the call to adopt or foster. Pray for them and give them courage.

 

Open your home to a refugee: http://www.bethany.org/grandrapids/refugee-foster-care

 

Assist with the work our partners do in South Africa and Haiti with orphans and vulnerable people. You can go on a trip, support those going, or give financially to help support our partners. You can do this by writing South Africa or Haiti on the giving envelope.

 

Get educated about the needs around us and around the world:

Some Books:

Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting” by Johnny Carr.

Fields of the Fatherless: Discover the Joy of Compassionate Living” by Tom Davis

How to approach the news.

Where do you get your news from?  Is it really needed?

As an apprentice of Jesus, I recognize that I am sent into the world to join God in what He is already up to.  Therefore, I need to be aware of the mission field right here in my community.  The news of the day is an important tool in discovering the attitudes, perceived needs, and values of my mission field.  So, as followers of Jesus, how should we approach the news?

Theologian Karl Barth recognized the importance of Scripture in engaging the world and news of the day.  He said:

“…take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”

Barth appears to be saying that we need to be informed in the ways of God and the issues of the day, but that the foundation for our perspectives and opinions should find their roots in God’s Word.

How then should we approach the news?

Here are some questions to intentionally engage the news of the day:

  • How do I feel when I hear this?  Why do I feel this way?  What has shaped my opinion?
  • Are my thoughts and opinions influenced or shaped by God’s Word?
  • Does God say anything about this issue in Scripture?
  • How might God desire to bring grace/mercy to this situation?
  • How might God want to bring justice/truth to this situation?
  • How can I participate in bringing this grace and justice?
  • What does this tell me about the mission field God has placed me in?
  • What need is being highlighted?  How can I be be the presence of Jesus there?

Finally, we can be an activist through prayer.  Jesus taught us to pray: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”  He is teaching us to ask God to make our lives, our communities, and our world – look more like heaven.

So, here is a little saying to prompt us to be prayer activists as we encounter news:

The news of the day, is an invitation to pray.