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Is This Church For Real ?

Sat, 23 Feb 2008 20:07:00 +0000

Today, a sign in a church lobby caught my attention:

"You know, if you want a church where you can pretend for an hour or two that everything is just fine with you, with your family, and with the world, then we're probably not for you. But, if you want a church where you can tell the truth about how it is, and know that it's okay, maybe you'll find a home here."

Is this church for real, or what ?



I Like Post-Moderns !

Fri, 22 Feb 2008 17:06:00 +0000

Been doing a lot of reading lately on post-moderns.
I like post-moderns.

Actually, post-moderns have a lot in common with us.
1. We all have deep interest in the SPIRITUAL.
2. We all want a religion we can EXPERIENCE !
3. We all want to participate in COMMUNITY LIFE.
4. We all value AUTHENTICITY and TRANSPERANCY.

In short, we’re all about RELATIONSHIP.
RELATIONSHIP with the Supreme.
RELATIONSHIP with Life.
RELATIONSHIP with Others.

We are GroupLink.
We are all on a journey together, trying to get from this life to the next.
Maybe we should be hooking up with more post-moderns.
They seem to have a great desire to get there.
And we have some Good News to share with them!

What do YOU think ?



It's My Choice

Sat, 06 Jan 2007 02:55:00 +0000

For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now that I must make a choice. Because of Calvary, I'm free to choose. And so I choose.

I CHOOSE LOVE . . .
No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
I CHOOSE JOY ... I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical. . . the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.
I CHOOSE PEACE . . . I will live forgiven. I will forgive so that I may live.
I CHOOSE PATIENCE . . . I will overlook the inconveniences of die world. Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I'll invite him to do so. Rather than complain that the wait is too long, I will thank God for a moment to pray. Instead of clinching my fist at new assignments, I will face them with joy and courage.
I CHOOSE KINDNESS . . . I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
I CHOOSE GOODNESS . . . I will go without a dollar before I take a dishonest one. I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse. I choose goodness. !
I CHOOSE FAITHFUENESS ... Today I will keep my promises. My debtors will not regret their trust. My associates will not question my word. My wife will not question my love. And my children will never fear that their father will not come home.
I CHOOSE GENTLENESS ... Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
I CHOOSE SELF-CONTROL . . . I am a spiritual being. . . . After this body is dead, my spirit will soar. I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal. I choose self-control. I will be drunk only by joy. I will be impassioned only by my faith. I will be influenced only by God. I will be taught only by Christ. I choose self-control.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

To these I commit my day. If I succeed, I will give thanks. If I fail, I will seek his grace. And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.
MAX LUCADO
When God Whispers Your Name



Holding onto an Offense

Wed, 13 Dec 2006 13:48:00 +0000

How do I know if I am holding onto an offense ?

The Blame Test
Do I blame everybody else for my anger and bitterness? “It’s because of what THEY did, HE did, SHE did.” This is an indication that I have been offended and I can’t let go. I say, “It would be so much better if that person was out of my life.” Blame is an indication of an offense you need to let go.

The Bitterness Test
Have I been keeping score? There’s a mental check list in my mind, and every time a person does something, I say, “You OWE me!” I may have had a person that made a major mistake in the past, and I am STILL holding it over their head. No matter how good they are to me, I keep saying in my own mind, “You OWE me!” I can’t forgive the offense. With this attitude, I am killing my relationship with them. And it’s because I can’t let go of the offense. If I want to save my relationships, I better let go and not bring it up again.

The Behavior Test
Do I ever find myself reacting to someone, not because of what they have done, but because they remind me of someone else? Do I remember something that my parents did to me as a child, and when someone seems to act the same way, I blow up? I get upset? I can rehearse it, and try to figure out ways to get even. Or I can release it, and experience God’s grace and forgiveness.

Everyone is going to be hurt in life. How I respond to that hurt is going to determine my level of happiness. For my own peace of mind, I need to let go of the hurt. Resentment doesn’t hurt the other person. It only hurts me. I am the one who is stewing, while others are going on with their lives.

I may say, “They’ve hurt me too much. I just can’t forgive them.” I’m right! I can’t! It’s only through the power of God in my life that I can forgive.

Christmas is the right time to repair relationships.



Parking Lots and Sales

Sun, 03 Dec 2006 01:09:00 +0000

I recently heard someone say that they were pulling into a parking lot, and the space closest to the building opened up. They said it was a sign that God was with them.

And then two weeks ago I heard about two people who were sick and one of them was healed. And they were talking enthusiastically about how God had intervened to heal the one person.

And the whole time, I’m thinking, “What about the other person? They didn’t get healed. Where was God? Why didn’t God intervene for them ?

And just last night I heard someone say that they had been in a store and saw something that they really wanted and it was on sale. And they said, “This just shows how good God really is!”

If God can help people find things on sale, why doesn’t he spend more time doing something about things more important - like earthquakes, or famines, or sickness?

When you think of God, or when you hear about God, what image comes to mind? An old man with a long white beard, who is behind the curtain, working all the levers? He’s healing some. And he’s finding parking places for others?..– Rob Bell



Escaping Our Hell

Thu, 19 Oct 2006 14:47:00 +0000

I heard a couple from India describe the work that they are doing in Calcutta.
They run a rescue mission for women who are slaves in the brothels.
Many of these girls are either run-a-ways or have been sold by their parents for money.
Many of them are country girls who have been sold as slaves to city pimps.

When these girls come to the rescue mission and begin to make life-changing decisions, they are not always able to escape the “job” that they have.
Until they are actually able to escape from the hell they live in, they continue doing what they have always done.
The husband and wife are heartbroken because they can not help all of the girls escape.
They can only “hide” a few girls at a time.
They can only pay for a few girls at a time to leave the country.
And, of course, they could be killed if the pimps ever found out that they were helping girls to escape.

So……these girls continue to do what they have always done…even though they have given their lives to Jesus Christ.

What I’m trying to say is that we all are in the process of “escaping” the hell that we have been living in.
So….patience, mercy, and grace are all gifts that we all need to give one another….while we are in the process of becoming what God wants us to be.

God’s love for us never ends.
I am so glad that God has never stopped loving me.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. (Jeremiah 29:11-12)



Poem

Wed, 04 Oct 2006 20:56:00 +0000

What’s to come in this world of mine?
Where will I go when I leave it behind?
Will I go up, or will I go down?
To get what I want I must turn my life around.
I want to sit with Jesus, just him and I,
But I must get rid of my sins before I can ever fly.
I grit my teeth day by day,
As I sit and watch Satan try to stand in my way.
He laughs in my face and says, “You’ll never make it,”
And I’m not so sure how long I can take it.
There is one thing I know, and it is true,
God loves everyone, and, Satan, that includes you.
So before I let Satan pull me down,
I’ll get rid of my sins and turn my life around.
I’m on my way to Heaven,
So, Lord, please take my hand,
And guide me with your footsteps,
So I can be a better man.


Mario J. Mares
(small group member)
09/29/06



Loving My Neighbor As Myself

Thu, 28 Sep 2006 18:49:00 +0000

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Wondering what it means to "Love my neighbor as myself" ?
I know I care enough about myself to feed myself. Should I, likewise, care enough about my neighbor to make sure she is fed if she is going hungry? If I clothe myself, should I also make sure others have adequate clothing? If I provide shelter for myself, should I care enough about others to make sure that there are shelters for my homeless neighbors? If I care about my own financial well-being, should I not, also, care that others have their financial needs met? If I show compassion and patience with my own faults and failures, should I not have compassion and patience with others? If I drive myself to work, school, church, the mall, or entertainment, should I not provide transportation to others not so fortunate? If I am interersted in my own spiritual growth and development, shouldn't the spiritual needs of others motivate me to acts of kindness and love? Is this what is means to "Love my neighbor as myself" ?



Spiritual Junk-a-holics

Tue, 06 Jun 2006 13:03:00 +0000

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Wasn’t it our Master who said, “When you throw a party, do not invite your friends or your relatives or your rich neighbors. But, when you throw a party, invite the poor, the crippled, and the blind ?”

Wasn’t it our Master who said, “The healthy do not need a doctor, only those who are sick. I did not come to befriend the righteous – but I came to befriend sinners.”

Wasn’t it our Master who was accused of being an alcoholic and a prostitute lover ?

And wasn’t it the religious junk-a-holics that gave him the most grief ? All they wanted to do at their parties was sit around and argue about religious stuff !

So……….if I am going to throw a party, I need to serve more hotdogs to those of a different lifestyle – and less and less hotdogs to my religious friends. After all, if I am indeed healthy, I’m not the one who needs the Hotdog Therapy!

This whole thing is not about religious get-to-gethers – it’s all about reaching out to those who desperately need it most.

It’s all about Loving God and Loving People – whether they’re “His” or not.

So, don’t get me wrong, I love my religious friends and enjoy their company. I’m just looking for a few of them that will sit with me on my back porch with my prostitute friends.



Hotdog Therapy

Fri, 02 Jun 2006 14:01:00 +0000

I’ve come to realize that the hotdog was not intended for nutrition.
The hotdog is for therapy !

Want a casual backyard party with friends ? Break out the hotdogs !

Want to camp out, slow the pace down, and enjoy life a little?
Roast a hotdog !

Want to celebrate a birthday or graduation?
Someone will probably want a hotdog !

Hotdogs are for times of celebration. When you just want to say, “It’s great to have you here—with our family and friends!”


Yep, the hotdog is the King of Relational Therapy sessions throughout the country !

And hotdogs go with anything.
Hotdogs can come with a bun or without a bun.
They can be cut up and sauced in a crock pot.
They can be put on a stick and charbroiled.
Hotdogs go well with mustard, ketchup, pickles, relish, onions, hot peppers, cheese, chili—and anything else your imagination allows.

So, when you need some relationship therapy—bring out the hotdogs ! In reality, it’s probably the RELATIONSHIP itself that is the therapy that we all need. The hotdogs are merely a perk.

So, sure, I’d love to break bread together with you, but please don’t forget the hotdogs !










Creating Community part cinq

Wed, 31 May 2006 20:33:00 +0000

Creating Community part cinq(Taken from Bread for the Journey blog - http://www.george24.blogspot.com/Check it out !)I left our small group last night with mixed emotions. I was on the one hand excited about those who were genuinely interested in starting a small group (our small group was a "turbo" group that was created so that couples could come together to experience small group with the possibility of starting one this fall. We had our usual fun time together sharing, connecting and praying together.On the other hand, it was sad, because it was the last time that we will together on a consistent basis as a group. Relationships were formed, bonds were created.We prayed and Alex got a new job.We ministered to Dan and Barb when Dan's dad passed away.We prayed with Matt and Elizabeth concerning some extended family issues.To be candid with you, that might not have happened if we weren't in relationship, connecting with each other.Here's some observations we came away with from our group (not in any order):Keep the group smallLet the group evolve to its own purposeRelationships are the purposeBe flexible as to attendanceFind ways to reach those who don't know Christ is select settings and times outside of regular small group meetingsBe vulnerable (vulnerability brings forth vulnerability)Don't worry if the house if perfect or notUse paper platesJust do it!Learn as you goEach small group meeting can be differentNow then, let's summarize the section five of Andy Stanley's book, Creating community.This section is entitled, "processes need reality".Stanley writes, "we must make a distinction between a person who leads a group meeting and a person who leads a group."A person who leads a group meeting can be anyone in the group who is comfortable with navigating the discussion.He writes, "because of this, we encourage our groups to rotate responsibility for leading the discussion" (which we did in our small group with a lot of success).A person who leads or oversees a group, on the other hand, is someone who meets five reasonable criteria.1. Leaders have to be connected. Connected to First Assembly.2. Leaders need character. 3. Leaders must embrace our groups culture, that "relational" is the word to describe where we want to be at First Assembly.4. Leaders must have good chemistry with other leaders5. Leaders need to have a level of competence.The role of the leader is simply to serve as a shepherd in two ways: by faciliating the group and by monitoring the group.This has to do with process issues, such as where the group is headed, when and where the group meets, who is leading the group and what the group will be studying. Also....People issues, such as how connected people are feeling, how openly people are sharing, how much people are growing, and whether the group is poised to multiply.Stanley goes on to write that we don't need more information to start a small group, we simply need to apply what we know.We have so brainwashed the church that we think to effectively minister we must sit in rows and fill a notebook with ideas and "learn" the concepts before we serve.BUT THAT DOES NOT WORK IN BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS!I quote, "people need to be trained around the core principles they need to know, not an endless amount of information that is nice for them to know."What are the six essentials we need to know?1. Think life change. The purpose of a small group is to see life change.2. Cultivate relationships. Relationships are like bank accounts: They require regular, intentional deposits.3. Promote participation4. Replace yourself As leaders, we train leaders while we lead.5. Provide care.6. Multiply influence...Multiply!Finally, Stanley writes that we must set up for success.We set ourselves up by success by focusing on the few things we do really well and[...]



Creating Community part quatre

Wed, 31 May 2006 20:32:00 +0000

Creating Community part quatre(Taken from Bread for the Journey blog - http://www.george24.blogspot.com/Check it out !)Mike Yaconelli in his book, "Messy Spirituality" writes:"Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality, not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws, but because we let go of seeking perfection and instead seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God's being present in the mess of our unfixedness."Connection is so very important in our culture today. People want to connect. That's not the issue. The issue is breaking us all out of our apathy and lethargy to connect. Connection costs. It costs our time and effort.Andy Stanley writes, "As important as small groups are in executing our strategy, it all falls apart if people have a difficult time connecting. If they cannot get into a group, then we cannot deliver on the benefits of a group."So true.Let's again ask the questions:What do we want people to become?What do we want people to do?Where do we want them to go?This is done in steps, incrementally. There are three different "locations" to describe our environments that can connect people relationally and help move them into small groups.Stanley calls it their, "foyer to kitchen" strategy.Like the rooms of a house, the environments of the church function for different purposes to help people connect.We desire that people go from the foyer as a guest, to our living room as a friend, to our kitchen as family. We desire that our small groups connect to the extent that people have "refrigerator rights," as Randall Neighbor said.Let's go to the foyer. Foyers are to be designed to change people's minds about church. Most people today don't have a problem with God, they have a problem with the church. They view the church as being irrelevant to their everyday lives. The foyer would be our worship services on Sunday mornings.We must continually stay relevant to where people are!Then there is the living room. Our living rooms are medium-sized environments designed to change people's minds about connecting.This would be our adult electives and other smaller settings where people begin to get to know one another.Then there is the kitchen table. The kitchen table is often where life's most meaningful conversations take place.It's where we being to feel like family.Small groups are to be designed to change people's minds about their priorities, as Stanley writes, "that through the activity of God and the influence of their group, their priorities and God's priorities will line up; that over time, their lives will change."One of the barriers to participating in a small group is the decision-making process of deciding where we fit in.Some people fear they will be trapped if they join a group..That after a few weeks, the group will not be what they wanted or expected and it will be too late...They will be STUCK. As Stanley writes, "and so for the next eighteen to twenty-four months, they will be condemned to group hell."North Point Church has 8 week "starter" groups, which is a group that "dates" for 8 weeks. If the group gels, they continue on for the entire covenant period as a fully functioning community group. If it doesn't no hard feelings. No questions ask.Let me ask you these question and try to generate some response. How can we do this at First Assembly of God. How can we help people overcome this fear?How can we get folks to joi[...]



Creating Community part trois

Wed, 31 May 2006 20:32:00 +0000

Creating Community part trois(Taken from Bread for the Journey blog - http://www.george24.blogspot.com/Check it out !)Now then, what is going to be our strategy? Andy Stanley asks the question: When people think of your organization, what is the word they will associate with it?Another question is: What do we want it to be?Are we an "evangelistic" church?Are we a "worship" church?Are we a "doctrinal" church?Are we a "recovery" church?Are we a "service" church?Or are we a combination of any of these?What is "our" word?What we are seeking is to be a "relational" church. We desire to emphasize our relationship with God, intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.In the pursuit of these relationships:Some come to faithPeople worshipTruth is taughtthe broken recoverand material needs are met.We want to "do" ministry in the context of relationship in communities, as Stanley writes, "not on committees."Churches need strategy. And I agree that finding our "word" is a great place to start in defining what our strategy will be.So...let's go on.How do we choose our strategy (our plan of action..Intended to accomplish a specific goal)."A great strategy is simple to understand and easy to implement.I understand the philosophy of "seeing people saved" at church. I lived that for almost 20 years of being a pastor.I still desire to "see people saved" at church.Sometimes, however, people want to belong before they are willing to believe. As Stanley writes, "they want to "taste and see" if it is good before they are willing to jump in.Why small groups?Groups decentralize church leadership and care. Our groups gives us many shepherds in our church, not just a few. Groups enable more people to serve.Groups help develop authentic community.Groups offer maximum flexibility.This point is especially important for group leaders who might be experiencing burnout.Groups members can schedule their own meetings times around their personal schedules. No one is tied down to meeting at one time on one particular day. The group can meet on the day they choose. Some might meet once a week, some twice a month, some once a month.Groups don't only offer flexibility when they meet, but also where they meet. They can meet anywhere or, if they so choose, they can rotate meeting locations to avoid burnout on one specific leader.Groups allow us to be better stewards. Groups remove the primary limits to growth.What is the overall goal of a small group? Multiplication! Multiplication in the short term is hard, but in the long term is very profitable. Like every living thing, every group has a life cycle (Randall Neighbor said 18 months). Every group eventually comes to an end. That's why one of our ultimate goals is to start a group so that other groups might be started! Stuff to chew on.....[...]



Creating Community part deux

Wed, 31 May 2006 20:31:00 +0000

Creating Community part deux(Taken from Bread for the Journey blog - http://www.george24.blogspot.com/Check it out !)I read a quote this morning when I sat down to my desk: "We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you." Jesus put it like this, "give and it will be given to you."In other words, when I open myself up to relationship with others, I receive relationship and community in return.It costs doesn't it. It costs our time and effort, but are the rewards great or what!We talked yesterday about the dream that God has for all of us - to live in community. Today let's ask the question. What are some of the things we need to consider to make God's dream a reality? What are some strategies that allow the prayer of Jesus (that we might be one) to be experienced by more and more people?Well, we must clarify our goal. What is the point of our church? We can get so busy as a church family and get caught up in the "tyranny of the urgent." Let's ask ourselves these three questions:1. What do we want people to become? In other words what do we want the result of our small groups to be? A lot of churches are either skill-based churches (people becoming proficient and effective in certain skills. There are classes, seminars, courses, conference, training, and lots of it. And "lots of it," is better right? Or not?A lot of churches are Bible-knowledge churches. Their core purpose is to help people become biblically literate. Let me quote Andy Stanley, "on the surface, this seems to be a very noble goal. What church that believes in the divine inspiration of the Bible doesn't want its people to be biblically literate...But in and of themselves, I would suggest they aren't the goal."What is our goal? Jesus said it well in Matthew 28 to, "...Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have commanded you."We are to make disciples. And here's an important quote from Andy, "Jesus was saying that as we go through the NORMAL STUFF OF LIFE - as we go to work, interact with our friends, and do all the things we normally do - our purpose is to relationally connect with people in such a way that it encourages them to follow Christ. 2. What do we want people to do? The first question is the what? The second is the how?We want people to love God and love people. Jesus said to, "love the Lord your God with all your heart...And love your neighbor as yourself."This is not a one time love but a love that shows itself on a continual, daily basis. I would suggest to you that spiritual growth is not one more seminar or conference but a process measured by demonstrative growth in our love for God and for others. I quote, "it is not a complete program or the acquisition of a skill, but a continual expression of love in our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationships with one another. Saying spiritual maturity is a point in time is like saying physical fitness is a point in time."Intimacy in any relationship just doesn't happen. So we are to love others within our church family, and those outside our church family. What do we want people to become? We want them to grow in their relationship with Christ. What do we want people to do? Continually pursue three vital relationships - intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.3. Where do we want people to go? What is "home plate" for our church?Is it a "class" where someone learns more?Is it a service group that impacts the community or an area inside the church?Is it a doctrinal seminar [...]



Creating Community

Tue, 23 May 2006 13:55:00 +0000

(Taken from Bread for the Journey blog - http://www.george24.blogspot.com/Check it out !)Andy Stanley has a great little book out called, "Creating community - 5 keys to building a small group culture."Great book.I like his quote on the flyleaf of the book, "small groups are not an appendage to our ministry; they ARE our ministry. We think groups. We are driven by groups."This is the direction we are headed in as a church.Let's summarize the 5 keys in the next 5 days, taking a key a day.Key number one: People need community.Stanley talks about going to Starbucks and finding a card there that they give employees that states on the front of the card, "create community. Make a difference in someone's day." On the back of the card it states, "When you work at Starbucks, you can make a difference in someone's day by creating an environment where neighbors and friends can get together and reconnect while enjoying a great coffee experience."Wouldn't it be interesting to have a card that we hand out at our church that says on the front, "create community. Make a difference in someone's day." And then on the back it could say, "When you come to First Assembly, you can make a difference in someone's day by creating an environment where neighbors and friends can get together and reconnect while enjoying the presence of God."People are lonely. I am around people all day, every day, and yet there are times in the midst of a crowd that I feel lonely. I don't think I'm the only one. The only way to overcome loneliness is to connect with others on a deeper level. Stanley writes, "We are a culture carving relationship. In the midst of our crowded existence, many of us are living lonely lives. We live and work in a sea of humanity, but we end up missing out on the benefits of regular, meaningful relationships."God intended from the very beginning that we live in relationship with others. When we aren't in meaningful relationship, we suffer natural consequences, whether we realize it or not. We lose perspective on life.We begin to fear intimacyWe become selfishWe begin to experience poor health.Stanley writes, "Living life alone does not accurately reflect the One whose image we bear." Henry Cloud writes, "God created us with a hunger for relationship-for relationship with him and with our fellow people. At our very core we are relational beings."One of God's biggest dreams for us is authentic community.Did you know that God has a dream for you?Jesus prayed in John 17, .....protect them by the power of your name - the name you gave me - so that they may be ONE as we are one."God desires that we be one.God desires that we truly live out our faith, being real with one another in authenticity and truth.Jesus goes on to pray in John 17:21, "so that the world may believe that you have sent me."Wow....the greatest "apologetic", as Francis Schaeffer writes, is Christian community."By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another," Jesus said.That's what God has called the church to be about: creating environments where authentic community can take place.[...]



Getting It All Together

Fri, 19 May 2006 20:11:00 +0000

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Check out the view from here !

Wed, 17 May 2006 01:37:00 +0000

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You should be up here, seeing it the way I see it !



The GroupLink Chain

Sat, 06 May 2006 15:32:00 +0000

Here's another picture riddle !(image)
A friend said that my pictures are too easy.
O.K., here's a harder one !
Let's have a deep discussion about why I chose to post this picture !



Community: Always Room for One More !

Sat, 08 Apr 2006 18:08:00 +0000

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You're Invited !



Sharing

Sat, 11 Mar 2006 04:15:00 +0000

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Your comments, please ?

Tue, 28 Feb 2006 21:32:00 +0000

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KIDS FIT WELL IN SMALL GROUPS

Thu, 23 Feb 2006 17:00:00 +0000

A few Sunday nights ago, my wife and I experienced the delightful small group that meets in the home of some friends.

We arrived at about 6:00 PM, and the husband escorted us into the kitchen, where some families had already gathered, standing around the spacious kitchen counter, talking excitedly about their week, and helping themselves to the generous supply of chips, dip, and soft drinks.

Others continued to arrive, and eventually we all made our way to the living room, where we were invited to participate in a group worship experience led by a DVD and the children of the group. My wife and I were so blessed as the kids eagerly called out selections that they wanted to sing. Some of the girls spontaneously led the group in some sign language they had learned in KidZone.

My friend read a short devotional and asked for prayer requests. The kids were amazingly attentive through this whole time. Soon they were dismissed and scrambled to the basement, where familiar sounds of childhood play lasted the rest of the evening.

The couples began to enjoy adult conversation. We were delighted at the level of friendship in the group and the freedom that each couple had to share important parts of their lives that needed prayer and mutual encouragement. Topics like family, career, schedules, and children were uppermost in their minds. Deep and meaningful prayer together concluded the evening.

All of us left that home that night with a feeling that the Lord Jesus had also been there and had helped us all to minister to one another.






The Death of Religion

Sat, 03 Dec 2005 05:44:00 +0000

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Happy Endings

Fri, 02 Dec 2005 14:51:00 +0000

The human race has hobbled along on their Achilles’ heel for a long time, trying to get back to how it was …in the beginning. Religion is man’s attempt to make himself feel better about the whole mess. (Wasn’t it Karl Marx that said, “Religion is the opium of the people” ?)

But, if there IS a supreme being who wants to help us, and IF it (supreme being) HAS tried to make contact with us and has left us all sorts of clues to its existence, then it must be possible for us to find it (him/her) too! Hopefully, it (God) has made it relatively easy!In my own personal search, I have found religion to be empty, offering no hope.(for any happy endings….)

Christianity has been plagued with people who have the same limp that I do, and much of Christianity is man’s attempt to define, control, manipulate others’ concept of God. (judgmental…making outcasts feel very uncomfortable……)

Ironic that Christianity’s leader started out by being a friend of those who didn’t have it all together. I hear he was accused of being a drunkard and a prostitute lover. And that he seemed to forgive those who were “caught in the act.”Seems he spent a lot of time with those “types of people.”Yet, the religious right seemed to have a big problem with him and didn’t view things as he did. (He just wasn’t judgmental enough for them, I guess, and wasn’t into making “social outcasts.”) Too bad for him. It cost him his life.

So……….maybe Christianity needs to get itself back to the beginning….Maybe I owe it to myself to look past all the junk that Christianity has picked up along the way – and find out how it was intended to be…in the beginning.Perhaps the beginning holds the clues to the happy endings ! Eh ?



Journey

Sat, 19 Nov 2005 04:41:00 +0000

In the beginning........all was beautiful. Some spend a lifetime trying to get back...to the beginning. Others find their way when they are young...back to the beginning. Both are on a journey.......to the beginning.The beginning...Begin....