I Went To Church On Monday

As a Pastor I believe it is my responsibility to attend church. It stands only to reason that if we encourage our church family to have a Sabbath Day and attend church then all Pastors should do the same.

So, I went to church today on Monday, August 11th.  I attended Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama and Church On The Move in Tulsa, OK.  

I plan to begin sharing those things that "jump" out at me as I sit in the service.  Here we go!

Church of the Highlands - Pastor Chris Hodges

On Judgment Day in Matthew 7:21 Jesus said that Many will say on that day I called you Lord, but will not enter heaven. Why?  Jesus said I will look at them and tell them it’s because I never knew you.  We didn’t get close.  You thought I needed your attendance.  That was nice, but that’s not what I wanted.  You thought I just wanted to get a little money.  That’s nice, but that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want those things.  I wanted YOU!   I wanted to be close to you.

I got saved at 15 with perfect church attendance.  Never missed a single church service a day in my life, and I didn't know God.  I did everything my church told me to do and didn't know God.  I would have been that one that showed up and called you Lord and did not know you.  God never created you to be a religious person.  He created you to be in relationship with Him.  If this church has one single message, it is that God wants relationship with you, not religion.  He wants to be close to you.

God sees you as someone He wants to be intimately close to.

The heart of your God is I just can’t wait for them to get here. God never wanted you to be just a Sunday Christian.  He made you from Him, to be with Him,  and also to express love to Him.  He wants you to love Him back.  All He wants from you is for you to love Him back. How beautiful. How simple. 

What's the Holy Spirit saying to me?

Holy Spirit: How do you see God, Russ?  The Israelites saw God as someone who took them into the wilderness to kill them. How do you see Him?

Do you see God as someone who can't wait until your arrival?  Get to know Him. He's full of anticipation.  He's waiting.  He's almost giddy.  God wants YOU.  He wants to get close to YOU.  

Me: My image of God has not been what it should be. This image of God thing has been stirring in me for a year.  Wow!  He wants to get close to me!

Church On The Move - Pastor Willie George

We are talking about one of the most important things, one of the most important ideas that we will discuss as a church . It is something we want to bring a new emphasis to. "Saved people serve people."   1 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul writes do not be unaware of spiritual gifts. Yet, most people at Church On The Move do not know what their spiritual gift is and that’s my fault. I want to help you in this journey where you really begin to uncover what God has gifted you with.  Every saved person has at least one spiritual gift.

When we are focused on the gifts we don’t have, then we’ll be blinded to the gifts we do have.  At times we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be used by God through our gifts because we become enamored with someone else’s gifts.

You have one.  Some of you have more than one.  And this church won’t be what it is suppose to be if I don’t get you on our team.  I need you.

What's the Holy Spirit saying to me? 

Holy Spirit: God has something significant for you.  He hasn't created you just to survive.  Your greatest sense of fulfillment will be when you discover your spiritual gift and quit being enamored by someone else's gift. You need to focus on the gift God's given you.  

I've given you that gift to serve others.

Me: God forgive me for being so enamored by someone else's gift that I don't see my own gift. Help me focus on how you gifted me so I can serve others. 

In conclusion

I encourage you as you attend church services to ask yourself at the end of the day "What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?"  Journal those things the Holy Spirit speaks to you and then three months later go back and reread your journals.  I think we will begin to find a refreshing, a reminding, and a renewing rise up in our lives.

Have a blessed day!

Russ

Pastor Russ Update - Boy In The Plastic Bubble? NOT!

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There was a movie that came out in 1976 (hey, the year I graduated high school) called The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.  It was about a boy who lacked an effective immune system.  The actor was John Travolta.  In no way am I John Travolta,  nor do I plan to live in a plastic bubble.

First of all I want to thank you for your prayers during this critical time. As most of you know I was stung by a yellow jacket last Wednesday, August 30th in my temple area.  I am allergic to the venom and went into an anaphylactic reaction.  My throat began to close up and thanks to the Lord, the reaction of my family and those in the medical field,  I am alive today.

I have so much I want to say concerning the events of last week.  Each and every decision, the timing of those decisions were SO CRITICAL.  The decisions that my personal family made to those moments leading up to last Wednesday, the decisions that our Freedom Family made to those moments while I was in the ER and OR.  I believe every moment and every decision made is the reason why I am still alive. It is why we must continually be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudging in our lives moment by moment.

I have taken the week to rest.  The doctors have put me on meds to come down off the meds so my sleep pattern is out of whack.  After writing three blogs on Monday morning at 3 a.m. to updating you Thursday morning at 6 a.m. my body is in a recovery mode. The energy level can come and go so quickly. 

Thank God for a strong wife and family.  While my body was fighting to stay alive Lisa carried a spiritual and emotional load that cannot be comprehended.  You can imagine that her sleep pattern is out of whack as well. As a family we are still processing through this, but know that the determination and focus to build His Kingdom if anything has only intensified.

We will begin a new series in August called Random Thoughts.  I will take a few Sundays to  share the things that have come out of the events of last week.

As Freedom Family we have definitely had a summer of Eating Together, Playing Together and NOW Praying Together and Growing Together!  I’m ready for the fall and to find a routine to move forward.

PLEASE LISTEN TO THESE LAST WORDS!

We were not just made to survive.  We were made to do something significant.

WE WERE CALLED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE WITH A GROUP OF PEOPLE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

·      WE ARE FREEDOM CHURCH!

·      WE ARE FREEDOM FAMILY!

·      WE ARE FREE!

It's time for all of us to come out of our plastic bubble.  Thanks again for your prayers!  Hope to see you Sunday as we begin our new series "Random Thoughts."  

Russ

 

 

 

 

Freedom Church: Who Are We? Part 2 - The Big Picture

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Have you ever lost your keys? Trying to find those keys become your primary focus.  You check your pants pockets.  You check the kitchen counter.  You check your coat pocket. You backtrack every move you've made since you got  home. 

To all the women out there have you ever lost an earring?  Why does finding that one earring become such a focus (you have twenty other pair in your closet)?  Because every pair of earrings has a story behind it.  Those were my grandmother's earrings.  Those were the earrings your friend gave you two Christmases ago.  Those were the earrings your husband gave you on your fifth wedding anniversary. Those earrings are your favorite pair. Every pair of earrings has a story behind it. 

Why do we spend so much time and energy over the things we've lost?  Because we are passionate about those things we've lost.  

Jesus was passionate about lost things. In Luke 15, while He was speaking to the IRS agents and the sinners, He told them how important lost things were:  the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.

In Acts 1:8, Jesus commissioned the disciples to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. He was commissioning them to become searchers; searchers for lost people.

We have provided a diagram in this blog that shows you things we are passionate about at Freedom Church, but the BIG PICTURE is we are to become searchers for lost souls.  There are two opportunities that we have in finding people. Jesus modeled this while he was on earth.

  • Invite and Invest
  • Invest and Invite

We will dive into these methods over the next two blogs.  In the meantime allow yourself to become searchers as we go into Mauldin, Simpsonville, Greenville, South Carolina and the uttermost parts of the earth. Why?  Because just like those earrings have a story behind them, every lost person has a story behind them too!

 

 

Freedom Church: Who Are We? Part 1 - Our Vision

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Have you ever had a situation in life that left a LASTING impression?

I recently spent some time with some of my family members and my great nephew had a loose tooth.  Whenever he took that tooth and began to wiggle it back and forth it would trigger a reaction.  Stomachs would become queasy.  Others would get up and walk away. My niece, my brother-in-law,  and my nephew were all affected by the wriggly tooth.  There was something from their past that they were tied to causing the trigger reaction.  I tried to dig, but they could never tell me what had happened. 

While this situation was insignificant, there are other situations that are so significant that we find ourselves tied to them for life.  For instance, the woman at the well.  Here is a lady who had been married five times and now she was living with a man.  I guess on the sixth man she finally gave up on marriage.  

I wonder what situation in her life had made such a LASTING impression that she was tied to it for life.  Because of it she went from one relationship to the other trying to fill a void. That is until she had a genuine encounter with Jesus.

He was a Jew and she was a Samaritan.  He was a man and she was a woman. But for the first time in her life she honestly felt and experienced a deep and genuine love.

Her life was radically transformed.  She was free from something that had her tied down her entire life.  

We all have situations in our lives that have made a lasting impression.  Something that we are tied to that causes us to trigger.  We get angry.  We feel rejected.  We feel guilt.  We feel shame.  We feel insignificant.

Somehow we find ourselves tied to our past just like the woman at the well UNTIL we honestly experience the deep and genuine love of God.

That's our heart and our passion at Freedom Church; to see every person's life radically  transformed by a genuine encounter with the love of God. We invite you to become a part of the Freedom Church family as we take the journey together to experience a deep and genuine love that will radically transform our lives.

To read more about Our Vision and Our Passion as a ministry, follow the highlighted links below.

Our Vision | Our Passion

Russ Muse