Archive for the ‘church’ Category

New Creations

baptism snapshots

If there is one thing that brings me more joy than most events it is when we baptize people at GCC.  This past Sunday we got outside and into the river.  The storm clouds held off long enough for us to get into the river and do some dunking.  It was a very special time for me as we baptized two teens, one that has been coming to Impact for years and another who has only been attending for about a month now.  I was brought to tears several times as people shared their testimonies of what God has brought them through so far in their lives.

An exclamation point was put on the day when a young man, Jason, who attended GCC for the first time that day and had given his life to the Lord that morning asked if he could also be baptized.  Jason didn’t come prepared to be baptized, or to even get wet for that matter.  He was dressed in jeans and a polo shirt – but that didn’t stop him.  Jeans and all Jason went into the river with us and came out a new creation!

Thank you Jesus for grace that is available to all.

Naked and no shame


This morning Dan Fontaine, missionary to Quebec, spoke on the importance of being open about our lives.  He referenced one of my favorite portions of Scripture in the book of Genesis.  Honestly, I think I could preach from the creation account for months and not feel like I was repeating myself – such incredible stuff right there!  Dan asked a question after reading from chapter three

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”   verses 8-11

The question was this, “Who told you that you were naked?”  It’s the same question that God asked Adam and Eve.  They were never told that they were naked.  They discovered that they were naked when they acted in disobedience to what God had asked of them.  Rather than walking around in their nakedness they made clothing of fig leaves to hide their stuff.  And nothing has changed in the years that have passed since this time.

We have been hurt and we hide in order to keep from being hurt again.  We have failed to we hide in order to avoid being asked to try again.  We have words spoken over us that are negative so we put on the clothing of over-doing it to compensate for that negativity – because we HAVE to prove those words wrong.  

It is our failure to stand in our nakedness and say, “here I am, this is the real me.”  that keeps us from being real with people.  Because of the barriers that we build up around us for protection we push people away and we lose the community that we were meant to be a part of.  We were created for community.  Relationship with God and others.  That is why we exist.  When we fail to connect with others we lose the ability to be whole and healthy.  Isolation keeps us from living lives of purpose and stops us from being free.

I believe in small groups.  As a member of a small group at my church for the past twelve years I will say that I could not do life without having people actively involved in my life.  I need people who will speak words of encouragement, correction, life and hope into me.  I need to do the same for others.  

If you attend Grace Capital Church and have not gotten connected into a small group let me challenge you right now, get started.  Drop the excuses and get involved.  There are people who need you just as much as you need them.  For those of you who have been involved in a small group and have taken a break for a while, let me encourage you to get back in the game.  Maybe you don’t feel like you get anything out of the group.  Can I ask you to change your thinking?  Try another small group, but this time go with the mindset that you are bringing something to share with someone else.  I would go one further and challenge you to pray this prayer, “Lord, use me to help someone else.”

We need to be open about our lives.  Getting involved with a small group is a great way to do this.  

I pray that you will allow yourself to be naked and have no shame.

You Belong


I’ve spent a few years on a treadmill reading these words on the wall in front of me at Planet Fitness.  I think about their philosophy and how it can translate to the church.  

A place where anyone can be comfortable.  A diverse community of people who are engaged together for a common goal.  A place where a lifestyle can be developed and matured.  

I’m not so sure that I would say it’s all about you.  Ultimately it’s all about God.  It’s often when we take on that attitude that things get all messed up.  But I love the line that says, “we are not here to kiss your butt, only to kick it if that’ what you need.”  We need to be available to speak into peoples lives.  We need to speak the truth in love and help people in their times of need.  Sometimes that involves a little butt-kickin’…

Overall I believe the church is the place where all people belong.  We need to create an environment where people of all walks can come together to find the true hope that comes through a relationship with Jesus.

Do you feel like you belong?  Why or why not?


Every once in a while in our efforts as a church to use something culturally relevant in communicating the message of  Jesus we are misunderstood.  It’s usually another believer that is the one that is offended rather than our intended audience – those who have not yet connected with Jesus.  It happened again today.  In my inbox was an email from someone who was very upset about our latest attempt at promotion.  Here it is:

How dare you try to combine obama with Jesus for your Easter services.  obama in NOT the savior.  Only our Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ is our savior.

Again, how dare you disrespect Jesus in the manner you are doing.

Shame on you!

Where it gets a bit sketchy is that we have not implied that President Obama is Jesus.  What we have done is use a piece of pop culture in the artwork that was done by Shepard Fairey and tweaked it in a way that shows that Jesus is the only true source of hope.  Here is my reply:

I must apologize for your confusion with the signs that we have created and are using for the promotion of our Easter services at GCC.  On the contrary, we are not in any way linking President Obama to Jesus.  We are actually trying to communicate where the TRUE source of HOPE comes from – Jesus Christ.  Some may trust in government to carry us through tough times but they will be found lacking in the end.

It is only through a relationship with Jesus Christ that we each can find HOPE.  That is the message that we are trying to communicate to people and I am sure if you join us for our Easter services that is the message that you will hear.  With that being said, if you are a member of another church in the area please continue going there.  While we want all to hear the Gospel we really are trying to reach out to those who do do not yet have a church home.

Again, please know that we are sorry for the way that you have interpreted our signs.  We acknowledge fully that Jesus Christ is the only WAY, TRUTH & LIFE.

Here is the promotional piece.  You decide…


April 7th update on this post.  We keep kicking up dust here.  Check the link here:“hope”-at-easter-time/

Swinging For The Fences


A hard lesson that I learned many years ago was in regards to trying too hard.  This came about when I preached one of my first messages.  It was a horrible experience.  The message had 5 main points, 3 sub-points per point, and 5 examples per point.  I honestly don’t understand why people remained in their seats.  I was all over the place and quite sure that more people left with questions than answers that day.  After debriefing the experience with my Senior Pastor he gave me an analogy that helped me realize what I had done.

I was swinging for the fences.  I had the chance to deliver a great message to an eager audience and in my haste to cover all the bases, I struck out.  I was striving for a home run rather than playing it safe with a base hit.  Rather than realize that one single message would not become a life-changing experience for each listener I pulled out all the stops and ended up sitting on the bench.  I had it within me to serve up a great message that would have impacted someone’s life that morning and could have potentially helped others along on their journey to connect with a loving God.  Instead, I thought that I would be saving the world with my words.

Far too often we become far too full of ourselves and we forget that the life change that can happen when we speak comes not from us, but through the work of the Holy Spirit in us.  This was a valuable lesson for me to learn.  My prayer is that many others will learn through my experience rather than have to live through the same.  Babe Ruth may have set the record for the most home runs but he also led the league in the most strike outs.  (career home runs 714 – career strike outs 1330)  The message that we proclaim week after week is far too important to strike out on.  When proclaiming the Gospel we need to be clear, precise, and focused.  I now understand the idea of settling for a base hit when it comes to communicating truth to people.  

The same goes for anything that you do.  Yes, do all that you do with excellence, but understand that all that is needed to make the world go around is not dependent solely on you.  Trying too hard can be, not only your own undoing, but many others as well.  I would much rather prefer to have someone move from base to base as they journey towards home than to swing for the fences and strike out week after week.  An RBI still ends with a score.  

Too many strikes and they don’t let you swing any more…

Can you settle for base hits when you understand that they bring forward progress?

A Greater Impact


This Sunday we gather all together in one giant combined Family Celebration Service to make our commitments to the Greater Impact building expansion.  I can’t even begin to say how excited I am for this weekend!  All along we have been talking about how this expansion is for those yet to come – and it is.  Over the last 4 years we have seen over 600 new people begin a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.  We know that this region has so many more people that need to connect with God.  

“The best is yet to come.”  That’s a direct quote from Pastor Jack Hayford as he shared with us just over a year ago.  I believe this whole heartedly.  God has placed us in this region and shown us amazing favor.  Each person who calls GCC home has the ability to make an impact in the lives of many others.  As we follow the calling of God in each of our lives we see more added to our church body.  As we expand our facility for future generations we look expectantly to the Greater Impact that will be made here in Central NH.

As you prepare for this Sunday’s Family Celebration please be in prayer.  We are asking each person to make a sacrificial commitment towards the Greater Impact campaign.  It’s not equal gifts, it’s equal sacrifice that we are challenging people to.  We’ll see you all at 9:30am this Sunday for a standing room only service that will exceed our imaginations!

For more info you can check out the Greater Impact site.

Instead of a Show

This post may offend some.  I’ve got to stick to my guns in how I believe so I make no apologies.  I’ll just quote a little Billy Joel: “You may be right, I may be crazy, but I just may be the lunatic you’re looking for.”

I received an email the other day about a Bible Reading Marathon that will take place on the steps of the NH State Capitol Building.  The thought behind this event is based on Isaiah 55:11

My Word…shall not return unto Me void but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

It’s a great Scripture and I agree with the Scripture in the sense that when I sit down and read God’s Word I will be changed.  When I open myself up to what God’s Word is saying to me it will not return void.  However, reading the Bible is NOT a magic spell that you can recite in a public place to change the hearts of those who walk by and hear it.  All this amounts to is a public spectacle that will again play the us vs. them game.

Here’s the plan:

What’s It All About? The Bible Reading Marathon (BRM) goal is to give glory to God. BRM is a way that the Holy Spirit can witness to those who read God’s Word, while others are blessed as they hear it being read. BRM call our attention to the fact that God has esteemed HIS WORD even above HIS Name [Psalms 138:2]. It is the Bible that clearly reveals who God is, as well as who we are — lost sinners who can receive eternal life and a home in Heaven when we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord of our lives. This BRM ends the day before the Presidential Election, prayer can change the Heavenlies for the election outcome. 

I love the Bible.  I spend time daily reading and journaling through God’s Word in order to apply it to my life.  I know the transforming power of the Word of God.  I have experienced it personally and see it actively working in the lives of many people.  But this is not how it’s done.  I understand this is an attempt to bring people into alignment with the Word of God before the elections take place as this is scheduled to take place October 28 – November 3 each day from 6am to 8pm.  It’s a valiant but misguided effort. Yes, I would recommend getting many people to read God’s Word.  But do it for personal growth.  Do it in a way that will lead to change within the readers heart.  Sit quietly and ask God to open His truth to each of you as you read His Word.

There is a fantastic Scripture that addresses what this event measures up to.  You can find it in Amos 5:21-24


I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.
My prayer is that we spend more time living our lives in a way that shows the personal transformation of God’s Word in us.  That there would be a flood of justice in our community and beyond.  That we would each do our part in living responsibly and caring for each and every person around us – regardless of political affiliation, race, religion or economic status.
So, don’t show up at the State House.  Just read your Bible and let what you read work in your life then go and live justly all the days of your life…

Great Expectations

We had our small group tonight.  I was impressed by the Holy Spirit to be thankful for how He is leading so many new people into relationship.  As I looked around the room tonight I realized that of the 17 people that were there Kim and I were the only 2 people that were around before our building was built.  In just 4 short years we have seen exponential growth that has led to some amazing relationships.

As we enter into a new phase of building at GCC with the needed expansion for a Youth Center and additional sanctuary space I look with great expectation to the many more who will come.  It is incredible to see how much of an impact we have had in this region so far but I am also excited for those yet to come.  

Holy Spirit, do what you need to do… in my life and beyond, that we would have a greater impact here in Central NH.

Good Shepherd?

This morning we took a look at Jesus from the perspective of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus made the claim that He was the Good Shepherd.  In that day and age everyone knew a shepherd or was a shepherd.  This reference was known and relevant to the people that He was speaking to.  Here in NH we have farms and animals but the reference is somewhat lost on me.

What does a good shepherd do?  How do you determine if a  shepherd is a good one or a bad one?  What are the characteristics that make a shepherd good?  Sheep are helpless animals.  They are stupid.  They lack the ability to take care of themselves.  A good shepherd is one who would care for the flock.  He would guide his flock into lush fields where they could eat.  A good shepherd would be vigilant in his watch over the flock.  If a wild animal came into sight a good shepherd would act to protect the sheep from the predator.  If one of the sheep went missing from the flock a good shepherd would go out into the wilderness to find the missing sheep and return it to the safety of the flock.

I read all of these qualities and I play the comparison game.  Am I a good shepherd?  As a pastor that is another job title that I could have.  Pastor and shepherd are synonymous.  I struggle with this.  I know that there is much work that the Lord still has need to do in my life.

I get frustrated by people who do the things that they know they should not and yet they still do them.  I find myself annoyed by those who ask for advice and then do the exact opposite of what I have offered up to them.  I struggle with patience in dealing with those who end up lost and in trouble.  In some cases when trouble comes I take on an attitude that “you made your bed, now lay in it.”

Just this past week in while traveling in New York I was with a large group of pastors from around the nation and we were given the treat of attending a New York Yankees game.  The real treat came in witnessing the Yankees lose but that is not the point I am making here.  After the game came to an end we shuffled back to the buses that brought our group of 150 or so pastors to the game.  As we all boarded the buses we found that one of the pastors had gotten disoriented on his way back to the bus and had gotten lost.  He wasn’t answering his cell phone and had no idea of how to get back to where we were all waiting for him.  After about an hour of waiting for him to find his way back to us I was ready to say, “Good luck!” and start the bus myself.  There were others who felt the same way.  Thankfully there were some who were leading our excursion to the Bronx that would “leave no one behind.”  I can remember Twittering the thought that if I was Jesus the missing sheep would have been dinner.  

I need help.  I understand that no one is further from perfection than myself and yet I still grow weary some days in dealing with other people problems.  I gain a feeling of satisfaction when I am able to help others and yet in the blink of an eye I can resist answering the phone for fear of having to deal with “another issue”.  I know that I am not alone in feeling this way and I know that it isn’t right that I feel this way.  I cling to the Good Shepherd in dealing with my own issues.  I desire to be molded by His example as I strive to be a good shepherd myself.  I am ever thankful that “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

As I am protected, cared for, guided, and found in my depravity; I pray that I can do the same for those I have been called to do the same for.  I know that the example that the Good Shepherd sets for me is one that I can learn from.  I know that the impact the Good Shepherd has had on my life personally is one that leads me to want to do the same for others.  I just pray that I can…


Here’s some background information about Soles4Souls, the organization that will distribute the over 800 pairs of shoes that were collected this morning at Grace Capital Church.