One of the reasons we exist as a church is to help people become "fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ."  We firmly believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and the standard for living.  We also believe that God's Word speaks into every part of our lives.  As a result, we work hard to provide a wide variety of classes, seminars, small groups, and opportunities for spiritual growth.

Throughout the week, small groups meet both on campus and in people's homes.  To learn more about openings in our small groups and to plug in, click here to e-mail Pastor Joel.  Many of our small groups break for the summer, so you may need to wait until September!

Power Outage

Posted by Joel Plantinga on OP1er @ 1:52 PM

We all know that we take electricity for granted until we lose it.  All of us have, without thinking, flipped a switch or pushed a button while the power is out, not even thinking how dependent we are on it for so much of our lifestyles.

I recently read the Book of Acts and when I finished just said "Wow."  If you've read it, you know that God's power is the driving force in the early church from changing hearts, releasing prisoners, and healing people.  While I was touched and moved by those stories, the recurring thought that kept coming at me was that of a power outage in today's church.

So much of what we do feels religious to me.  And I'll share that I have an aversion to religion.  In his book "Power Through Prayer", E.M. Bounds says that "Nothing is so dead as a dead orthodoxy, too dead to speculate, too dead to think, to study, or to pray."

Wow.  In other words, we can have good theology and still be stuck in a power outage.  The Holy Spirit breathes life into us as we allow him to flow in and through us.  As we become captives of the Spirit, we become filled with power.

Let's be honest:  How many of you come to church on Sunday EXPECTING God to show up?  How many of you believe lives will be changed when we worship?  When we pray, has it struck us that we are in communion with the CREATOR of the universe?  

The kind of power that moved the early church can't be channeled or contrived through new programs, ideas, and ministries.  It's a God thing, and we need HIS power to fill all of us.

God help us!

The Blessing of Adversity

Posted by Joel Plantinga on OP5er @ 5:04 PM

Nobody likes adversity.  I would imagine that very few of you wake up in the morning, despite the promise of Romans 5 (the one that suffering eventually leads to blessing) crying out in your prayers "Oh Jesus bring it on today!  Let's see what kind of adversity we can have!"  Nobody WANTS to walk uphill into the wind when it comes to life.

And yet, adversity DOES present a golden opportunity for spiritual growth.  Let's face it: when things are going well, we tend to put things on autopilot and cruise through life.  But when things get tough, we have to dig deeper and in the Christian life, reach to God for strength and wisdom to get through the trial.

About four weeks ago I had my Achilles tendon resected and re-arranged.  Through the recovery time (which is still ongoing), I have lost a lot of independence, endured some significant pain, and realized how much I've taken for granted simple things like climbing stairs and walking.  I'll be honest in saying that it's been a tough time!  I was ready for the physical problems.  But I had no idea how depressed I would feel at times and how worthless I would feel at others.  I praise God for an amazing wife/kids who keep me smiling and a great church family who has prayed me through that.

And yet as I look back, I've found myself in deeper prayer.  I've experienced more praise and gratitude over the small things.  I've been more thoughtful of the plight of others, and have tasted the grace and restoration of God through it all.  While I wish I didn't have to have a major tendon lopped off to get all that, I've found goodness in my adversity.

So what are you facing today?  Maybe instead of praying it away, you can ask God to walk you through it to show you something new about Him, you, or the life He wants you to have.  The Bible tells us that He uses ALL things for good for his called people, right?  Let God redeem the pain!

-Pastor Joel

Growth Moments

Posted by Joel Plantinga on OP12er @ 12:20 PM

This is Pastor Joel.

I'm starting this for a few reasons.  First, I love writing and need something to keep me focused on writing as a discipline.  It's so easy to have a pile of "projects" that one never gets to, so this blog forces me to write.  My goal is to upload a new post every week.  If I'm gone, I'm hoping another staff member will fill in.

Second, I want to generate more conversation about and interest in spiritual growth.  I find that when we talk about something, we become more conscious of it during the week and tend to find ways to integrate it into our lives.  It's akin to car shopping:  have you found that when you're looking at a particular model that you see that model more during the week while you're driving?

Finally, I want to gather the collective wisdom of this blog's readers.  I don't have all the answers, and neither do you.  Even together, we don't have all the answers.  But we enrich each other's lives.  So feel free to share comments underneath.  But be warned:  inappropriate or non-germaine comments will be deleted.

I want to begin by sharing what I'm reading right now.  I'm a multi-tasking reader, and with my recent Achilles surgery, I have had more time to read.  My small group just finished "Not a Fan" by Kyle Idleman.  WOW!  What a challenging book.  The basic premise is that too many of us settle for being fans instead of heeding the biblical call to be followers, no matter the cost.  I'm also reading "Take the Stairs" by Rory Vaden.  This book talks about how every successful person learns to do the things he/she doesn't want to do and does them with discipline.  One quote stands out from Vaden:  "Procrastination and indulgence are nothing more than creditors who charge us interest."  Great stuff!  And in God's Word, I'm going through the Book of Acts.  I love seeing faith in action, and am so convicted sometimes about the lack of faith in my own life and how much I need prayer power and obedience to fill my life.

So what are you all reading?  Feel free to share in the comments section.  Time to send the kids off to camp!


jeanette said...

Posted on OA9er @ 6:06 AM -
Im reading Rick Warren's
The purpose driven life

Sheila Simpson said...

Posted on OP7er @ 4:47 PM -
This is rare for me, but I'm currently reading 3 different books as part of various devotions or study groups. I'm a very undisciplined reader. I need the accountability of other group members. I love the interaction when I study in a group setting. I feel I get the most out of the book that way. However, God also wants me to "study" one-on-one with Him and that is such a sweet study, no words can discribe.

So anyway, I'm reading, "Becoming a Woman of Influence," Carol Kent, with the Women's Leadership Team and that is an awesome study I'm really looking forward to getting deep into; "The Case for Christ," Lee Strobel, with our Laughlins' couples' Bible study group - also a great study - I think we are on Chapter 8 or 9 but taking a summer break; and "Love Dare," Stephen & Alex Kendrick, as a "love dare" with my husband. I gave him the book for Father's Day and also bought my own. I'm really excited about this one. Who doesn't want more love and a deeper acceptance in their life and especially their marriage?!

I'm enjoying all three of these studies because I am being stretched and challenged on every front through these books. Lastly, through it all, no matter what else I'm reading, I have an NIV Women's Daily Devotional Bible and I'm currently in 1 Peter. Wow, that has been a journey. I've done every day's devotional to this point, not always consistently each day, but always being pulled back to do another day and not give up.

Blessings and love to everyone else who is on this spiritual growth journey. I'm looking forward to great things coming from this blog. Thank you Pastor Joel!

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Make sure to stop by the Information Center after church to see what books are available to be checked out of our expanding collection!


For any questions on things related to opportunities for spiritual growth, please e-mail Pastor Joel or call the office at (661) 266-3400.


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