Church

Sweet Spot

Writing a blog on this subject has crossed my mind SO many times.  After this past Sunday, I couldn’t wait any longer…

I’m not a super emotional gal.  I don’t tend to cry about things “typical” girls cry over.  However, there is one area that I cry without control EVERY TIME! There is no explanation other than the fact that I’m viewing something beautiful.  For example, when I’m watching a sporting event (especially the olympics) and someone is just in their moment.  They’ve been working, practicing and preparing for countless hours for their five minute ice skating routine, or 10 second vault, or world record race.  The sheer beauty of what they’re doing and what they must be feeling overwhelms me.  I love seeing someone doing what they were born to do.  A sense of pride comes over me even though I’ve never spoken to this person in my life.  I know, weird right?

Typically a downhill skiier lives in a mountainous region of the world.  Based on their environment they had opportunities starting at a young age to flourish at a particular sport.  Have you ever wondered if you could have been the worlds best __________ if you lived in a community where that was the normal activity?  When we lived in Michigan, hockey was a popular sport.  I’ve never lived anywhere else that it was.  It would be abnormal for a boy living in Georgia to pick up a love for hockey.  Kind of like a Jamaican learning how to be on a bobsled team.  Wait…there’s a movie about that.

This past weekend, I had one of these overwhelming moments.  I couldn’t control my emotions as I looked around and saw the band members at my church worshiping.  I love to worship, but I also love to watch others worship God.  It is one of the most beautiful things in the world.  These people were in their sweet spot.  They’ve played guitar, drums, piano and used their voice for many years.  But when you see someone using their talents for The Lord, it is unmistakable.  Seeing someone find their “moment” is a wonderful thing to witness.

What’s your sweet spot?  Have you found it yet?  We all have one. Have you asked The Lord to help you find it?  Look around and evaluate the environment you live in. Maybe you are ignoring what God wants you to do?  Let him guide and direct you.  You won’t regret it.

Praise Report

Thinking on things of the past can often be a bad thing, but tonight it was a very good thing.  Downstairs in Rock City (our children’s church room) our church board met for our monthly meeting.  A huge part of the meeting was dedicated to a praise report.  This is always my favorite part of board meetings.

Ministry can be stressful at times.  There are always lots of decisions to make and they are all important.  The pressure to do the right thing is high.  The best quote of the night came from Stacey.  She thanked the board for being patient with us when we make mistakes.  Ha!  Of course we make mistakes.  We’ve never done this before.  But the truly amazing thing is to see a list of things that happened over the last month that couldn’t have happened without God’s hand on Echo Church.  The best of all on the list is the nineteen people who accepted God’s gift of forgiveness!  It just makes it all worth it!

Here’s the complete list:
We have grown 100 in attendance from the summer months.
192 people saved YTD.
Hot Springs VBS.
We went from 31 volunteers in the children’s department to 64 volunteers.
Canoe trip.
Amanda Nitcher has returned to lead worship at Hot Springs Campus.
Tithe has increased 44% since we started the 90 Day Tithe Challenge.
28 people were baptized this year in Pleasant Hill.
5 Have signed up to be baptized in Hot Springs.
We have gone to two services in Pleasant Hill.
Friends Day
Started building out the offices but have put no money into it.
We are continuing to support Bible translation in the Central Eurasia area.
Received a basketball goal, a beautiful couch and a school bus as donations.

PRAISE THE LORD!

A Look Back

Curiosity got the better of me this morning.  I was looking at a group page  on facebook for members of our church.  I scrolled to the bottom and hit “view older posts”.  I kept hitting that button hoping to get to the first post.  Quitting crossed my mind  numerous times because it was taking much longer than expected.  I zoomed into the past year skimming as I went.

I slowed down a bit when I got to last November.  There were a lot of posts about work days and pictures of the progress on our current building on 7 Hwy. in Pleasant Hill.  Those were fun to look at.  Sandy posting what the dinner for the night would be, pictures of car lifts being removed and people just plain excited about what God was doing.

It probably took me 45 minutes to get to the beginning of the thred.  Forty-five minutes I really enjoyed.  Funny, the reason I was on the group page today was because I was trying to think of as many new people as I could to add to the current group.  I came up with 17 friends to add.  If I remember right, Stacey started the group on November 27th with 17 friends.

The beginning was full of comments on everyones excitement for the possibility of starting a new church.  The future of Echo Church was uncertain.  Actually, the church didn’t even have a name at that point.  Everyone rejoiced when the Yagers signed the papers on their new building for their business.  It meant we would have a place to meet from the beginning!

Wow, from meeting in homes to meeting in a 10,000 square foot building. Meeting with 17 people to now meeting with over 300!  God is still on the move!  Looking back has helped me see just how far we’ve come.  I can’t say it enough…”Thank you God for using me!!!”.

Super Volunteer {number 1}

I’m not sure what worship song it was this past Sunday, but it was really fast and full of energy.  Near the end I looked up at our drummer Justin Cook to see how in the world he was keeping up.  His arms must have been on fire.  At the last beat he glanced up with a huge smile on his face.  He really enjoys what he does.  I love seeing passionate people using their talents for God.  It’s such a blessing.

Then, I thought for a moment about Justin.  On that Sunday alone he would play the drums for two services, run the cameras after worship, we would see the baptism video he compiled and edited and to top it off, our Hot Springs campus would watch the sermon video he put together as well.  He was involved in four different areas in one day.  I love it!

I want to challenge everyone to get involved in your local church.  I promise there is a need somewhere.  Even if it seems like they have enough volunteers…there is always a need.  Don’t just go for the message or for the worship, or because your kids beg you to go…get involved!

Thank you Justin for all you do for the Lord!  We love you!

Greater than Spielberg

There are so many movies that add rain to a scene just for dramatic effect. ( http://www.ifc.com/fix/2012/07/best-rain-scenes)  They must teach that at film school I guess.

Well, several weeks ago at church a friend of ours gave his testimony of how God saved his wife who had a major stroke this past year.  I think the entire congregation was in tears as he poured his heart out.  His love for his sweet wife was so evident…God’s love for them was so evident.  Then, at just the right moment, as if someone said, “cue the rain”, it started to pour.  Our metal roof was buzzing with water.

I don’t think many noticed the rain that day.  I like to think God was just adding it for dramatic effect.

 

Sermon Recap {August 19, 2012}

My goal was to do a weekly recap of Shawn’s sermons.  Well…it hasn’t exactly happened the way I planned.  So, if I can put my yummy cup of coffee down I will attempt to write my first one.

Shawn spoke on everyone’s favorite thing – tithing!  Oh wow, does that word bring up a variety of emotions.  I don’t think he’s spoken on tithing in the one and a half years Echo has been around.  God gave him just the right words to help and challenge us all.

Malichi 3:8-14

 8“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. 11  “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; 12  “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the Lord of hosts. The People Complain Harshly 13  “Your words have been harsh against Me,” Says the Lord, “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ 14  You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance,

Here’s a few of my favorite parts:

—  In verse 8 it speaks of robbing God.  For years I thought that if I didn’t tithe I was robbing God of money.  Silly girl.  God has all the money…he created it.  It’s referring to us robbing God of something he LOVES to do – bless us!

—  Our tithe is to be set apart.  He referred to the Garden of Eden and how there was one little tree that was set apart to not be eaten from.  When Adam and Eve decided to use that which was set apart, there were major consequences.  Why do we think tithing is any different?

—  Romans 11:16 talks about how the lump is also holy.  It’s not talking about lumpy gravy but the lump left over after the firstfruits.  God can do more with the 90 percent than we can do with 100 percent.  God wants to bless our 90.  Don’t rob him of that!

—  Another moment I really loved was at the conclusion of the service.  He asked everyone to stand up who started attending Echo since we’ve been meeting in our new building (which was 6 months ago).  I’m not good at estimating, but I’d say at least half ,if not more, stood up.  He asked them to remain standing and look around at those sitting.  It was a great picture. Those standing thanking those who were here before them who were faithful to tithe.  They paved the way  to their seat being filled. Well, actually, they paved the way to their seat being purchased!  And those seated seeing what their tithe was going towards…souls!

I was surprised to hear an overwhelmingly positive response from Sunday’s sermon.  We serve an awesome God people!  He cares about EVERY part of our lives, including our money.

Current Stuff

Yesterday we had a youth fundraiser (a youth pastor’s favorite thing in the world to do). This one was actually pretty cool, and easy. A local restaurant, Due Amici, an Italian eatery came to us with an idea and we jumped on it. Yesterday after church the students got to serve the tables and 10% of the sales and all tips went towards youth camp. This also provided some publicity for the fairly new restaurant.
Andy getting the first order.

Tyler helping Andy with the big table. They all did such a great job, especially since they’re all too young yet to have their own jobs.

Haley and Brittney making drinks. (Landon had my phone right before I took this pic and I think his little buttery fingers got on the lens…that’s why it’s so hazy)

With a clean lens…here are the Pastor and some of the board members showing their support. I love that no matter how old you get, there’s always a girl side and a boy side.

Brian and Melissa with their happy server, Kelsea.

About two weeks ago I took the boys to our favorite park in Hot Springs

Ashton and Landon on the rope pyramid. It was such a beautiful day.

Ashton on top of the pyramid…”Hurry Mom, take my picture!”

After playing we went for a hike and their little boy eyes were on the look out for caterpillars. Landon was the first to find one. He loved it and took care of it all day. It even made it all the way home with us and then we had to let it outside so it could eat.

Ashton did finally find one of his own, with his brothers help. They were so excited!

We had such a good time together at the park while Daddy was at a boring meeting. We thought about going and rescuing him, but we didn’t want to get him in trouble.

I love my boys and am so thankful for days like that Saturday. As they get older those days will be harder to find. I’m soaking it all up while I can. I tell them they will always be my babies, and let me tell you, they do not like to hear that. It always makes them laugh though. I am praying that God keeps a hold of them so tight; that He will protect them; be real to them and keep them close to him through the years to come.