Tuesday, November 20, 2007
In the hustle and bustle of my life, very rarely am I still. Activity for God is a cheap and easy substitute for intimacy with God! I fill my daytimer with appointments that keep me from slowing and experiencing time alone with the Master. Yet He knows my need for rest, for solace, for replenishment.
Shepherd boy, David wrote from first hand experience when he expressed thoughts on God's leading to green pastures and by still waters. The wise shepherd knows that nervous, anxious sheep need aggressive care and leadership. David declares, "He MAKES ME lie down". Why does He MAKE us lie down? I am convinced that it's because we don't want to.
David knew other terrain than green pastures and still waters. He knew parched land and turbulent storms. Of those times he said:
●"How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? For ever?" (Psalms 13:1)
●"Hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble." (Psalms 69:17)
●"My soul thirsteth for thee...in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is." (Psalms 63:1)
●"My heart is smitten, and withered like grass." (Psalms 102:4)
And so David's discoveries in the twenty-third Psalm were incredible! He exchanged a thirsty land and withered grass for green pastures. He was no longer a lost sheep for he found the Shepherd. His thirsty soul was restored. The Shepherd granted him a miracle beside the still waters.
Jesus is the Great Shepherd and He knows what you need. He will quiet your soul and will lead you to a place of peace.
Monday, November 19, 2007
He is all I want!
A Child was asked to quote the 23rd Psalm for her Sunday School Teacher, and with great confidence began by saying, "The Lord is my shepherd, He is all I want". While misquoting the verse, she nailed the theology.
When the Psalmist said, I SHALL NOT WANT, he was establishing another beautiful benefit of belonging to the Shepherd.Namely, The Shepherd assures me!
When you establish the relationship of Shepherd and sheep, you have all that you need. Two dynamics come into play.
1) CONFIDENCE - When I live my life in light of the fact that I have a shepherd, and not just any shepherd, but Jesus Himself, I walk in confidence. A quiet assurance of protection, leadership, and grace rises in my life. I lack nothing, I have no want. He has my best interest at heart all of the time. That means that anything that I might need, He supplies. This assurance of provision leads to another wonderful dynamic:
2) CONTENTMENT - When I realize that He is my shepherd, I realize also that I can live in total peace recognizing that all I need is already mine. I don't wrestle with petty lusts and desires for more and more. I am content because I am satisfied with Him.
I challenge you, as a follower, to walk confidently and with contentment with the ASSURANCE of the shepherd's provision.
THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, HE IS ALL THAT I WANT!
WE HAVE A SHEPHERD
Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
much we need thy tender care;
in thy pleasant pastures feed us,
for our use thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, thine we
are. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, thine we are.
Benefit # 1
The Shepherd KNOWS me!
The text says, "The Lord is my shepherd..."
The Lord (Yahweh), the God of the universe, the creator, sustainer of all things...
He is MY shepherd. There is an intimacy, a personal relationship. I know Him and He knows me. Lots of people ask, “Do you know Jesus?” A better question is “Does Jesus know you?” Matthew 7:23 describes a time when Christ will say to many, Depart from me, I never KNEW you. It is important to be known by the Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and cares for them. More about His care later. For now, soak up this thought that you can say, "The Lord is MY shepherd". Not just "A" shepherd, but "MY" shepherd.
David spoke of God's knowledge of his life in Psalm 139:1-4.
O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my
going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
In April of 2003, God stirred our hearts regarding our place in ministry. That stirring led to a clear call from the Lord to relocate our family to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to plant NorthStar Church.
Under God’s gracious hand, and with the help of the North American Mission Board and faithful partners just like you, NorthStar stands today as a vibrant community of faith!
Strong leaders are in place, a growing ministry of small groups exists, building
plans are coming into clear focus. Over the past four and a half years,
NorthStar has experienced miracle after miracle as God has expanded His Kingdom
through this young congregation. Lives have been changed, eternity impacted, and
many new believers are becoming devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
Now, The Hanberrys are embarking on another chapter in our lives and ministry. I
have accepted a call to become the Associate Pastor of the First Baptist Church
of Olive Branch, Mississippi. My role there will include leadership in the areas
of education and missions.
We will serve at NorthStar Church through Sunday, December 9th, before assuming
this new ministry position. Our hearts are full of a wide range of emotions.
While we are saddened to leave our faith family in North Idaho, we are thrilled
at the assurance of God’s call and direction for us. We are also excited to see
what God has in store for NorthStar Church. This has been such a labor of love,
and we know that even as much as we love NorthStar, God loves her more! He has
great plans in store for this precious gathering of believers.
Please pray for our family as we transition and please pray about your role and
responsibility to continue on as a faithful partner to this ministry! NorthStar
Church needs you now more than ever.
At this time, I certainly want to say, “THANK YOU!” to each and every one of you
who have been a part of our lives over these past four and a half years. Your
prayers, cards and letters of encouragement, and your generous financial
participation have made this ministry possible. You have blessed us as a family,
and words could never adequately express our gratitude.
In the coming weeks, please contact us regarding your continued partnership.
Again, NorthStar still needs you! Contact information is below.
Again, thanks! We love you.
Scott Hanberry -Founding Pastor Scott@NorthStarChurch.us
Tom Magee - Worship Pastor Tom@NorthStarChurch.us
Bennett Sanderson - Missions Pastor Bennett@GlobeOutreach.org
Friday, November 16, 2007
Over the past four years, I have devoted myself to the study of prayer. Not just an exercise in academics...My goal has been to not only learn about prayer, but also grow in my personal prayer life. Working with a group of leaders in our church, I have focused on how to initiate a culture of prayer. (More about that work in upcoming entries.) For today, I share the words of a Baptist Pastor from California.
Teaching a Church to Pray: How to have a vital prayer ministry. by Daniel Henderson
I followed a pastor who served the church 40 years. Bringing change to this
congregation would be either a supernatural work of God or professional suicide.
My first sermon at this new church stressed the importance of learning to pray
in community. Our priority, I said, was to become a house of prayer.
Most people are prone to become complacent; instilling a desire to seek after
God was essential to revitalizing Arcade for a new level of impact. And that
desire had to ignite in the lives of individuals if the church as a whole was to
Gather the Prayer Leaders
I announced we were looking for people who seriously wanted to pray for the
church. I didn't know them well enough yet to select leaders for a ministry, so
I sought out people who were already passionate about prayer. A handful
volunteered. Along with the current prayer leaders, they formed a core that
would lead a prayer renewal. I trained these leaders in four areas.
1. The personal attributes of a prayer leader. Building the hearts of prayer
leaders is the most important step. I remind them, "Prayer ministry will never
go any farther than the personal passion of those who lead it."
The first attribute we target is motive. The leaders must be clear in mind and
heart on why we pray. It's not a church growth strategy; it's not to twist God's
arm to bring revival. Prayer is not about the church. The focus must be on
seeking God and knowing him, not on seeking what he can do for us.
The second attribute is conviction. We have 130 programs going on at Arcade.
Some people think of prayer as program number 131. Our leaders cannot. Prayer is
not another program at the church, prayer is what drives everything we do.
The third attribute is longevity. Inspiring others to pray is a permanent
calling. Early on the morning of a scheduled prayer gathering, I reluctantly
tossed the warm covers aside and dragged myself out of bed. After leading
multiple prayer meetings every week for years, I pleaded with God, "I'm tired,
Lord. How long must I do this?" "How long will you dress, shave, and brush
your teeth?" I felt him say. "Until you die. So shall you pray." Prayer leaders
need a dream of dying on their knees.
2. The vision for corporate prayer. Our individualistic culture robs us of a
vision for corporate prayer. Private devotion is upheld as the ideal. But
Scripture teaches that the church prayed together. And Jesus taught us to pray
in a collective sense. The language of is essentially, "When y'all pray, pray
'Our Father,' and 'give us our daily bread.'" His ideal was that we pray in
People who have considered this teaching have asked me, "Which is more
important, private or corporate prayer?" I respond, "Which leg do you need
to walk on more, your right or your left?"
3. The practical dynamics of effective prayer meetings. I grew up in a church
whose prayer meetings were, well, boring. A mournful hymn, an unrelated Bible
study, and thirty minutes listing the woes and needs of the community left me
feeling as though the whole world was suffering from slipped discs and financial
trouble. Effective prayer meetings move beyond "bless him, be with her" prayer
to elevate pray-ers into the presence of God.
Jesus taught the disciples to begin in adoration—"hallowed be thy name." We
developed meetings that began in worship and focused not on informing God of all
the troubles he already knows about, but on drawing the people into communion
with God. I teach our leaders, "If you pray to seek God's face, you'll know his
hand. But if you're looking for his hand, you may miss his face."
Our weekly prayer meetings now begin with opened Bibles, prayerful declarations
of God's character, and spontaneous songs of praise. All requests are held at
bay until we have worshiped well and connected with God's heart, mind, and
4. Principles for managing prayer meetings. We want prayer leaders to facilitate
effective, engaging prayer meetings. Part of their training involves managing
the common distractions—lack of focus and members who mumble lengthy,
disconnected discourses. We teach the leaders to implement clearly defined
themes for focus, and to use a song and gentle instruction to center a group
that has disengaged.
Some of our leaders fret over whether God approves of the direction they give
the meetings. I tell them, "God's not wringing his hands over whether you pray
for India or South America next. He's simply delighted that you are leading his
people into his presence."
That first training class became a six-week program that we have repeated many
times. During the program, each leader has opportunities to lead the group in
prayer, and afterward we discuss and encourage their leadership. We also expose
them to extraordinary forms of expression—prayer walking, prayer partners, even
Internet chat room prayer. The goal is to release them to begin prayer
initiatives in the ways God is leading them. Shortly after we began our
first training class, I announced a three-day out-of-town prayer gathering. I
anticipated twenty might accept the invitation. More than one hundred came to
that first prayer summit. The enthusiasm of our trained prayer leaders had
already begun stirring the church. In the past eight years, we've had 22
retreats, each one directed by lay prayer leaders and attended by between 80 and
Our Thursday evening prayer meeting, which attracts hundreds of people, has become the church's context for vision casting and ministry initiation. Our trained leaders have created dozens of opportunities for prayer expression, including prayer meetings, pastor's prayer partners, and our World Prayer Center, an intercessory ministry for the church worldwide.
It's been said that when we work, we work; but when we pray, God works. I'm discovering the best work I can do is to pray and train others to lead prayer with a passion to see God at work. It's the investment that brings life change and lasting renewal as we build a house of prayer—together.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
“The local church is the hope of the world" ~ Bill Hybels
"Church isn't where you meet. Church isn't a building. Church isn't what you do.
Church is who you are. Church is the human outworking of the person of Jesus
Christ. Let's not go to Church, let's be the Church." ~ Bridget Willard
"I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." ~
"My prayer is that we will let God build the church His way as we await our
Lord’s return." ~ John MacArthur
"Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy,
cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her
to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,
but holy and blameless." ~ The Apostle PaulSome people hate church...some have
childhood memories of church, but feel like church is irrelevant to their lives
today. Some people seem to thrive on the connections and relationships that they
find in church. Regardless of your feelings about church, the church is God’s
primary way to accomplish His purposes on earth today.
You might hear statements like, ''I don't have to go to church to be saved. I
don't have to belong to a church to be a Christian. I can worship God in my
heart.'' I’ve heard this popular dodge numerous times. It's sometimes difficult
to refute because it happens to be true . . . to a point. Nothing you do and
nothing you can join makes you a Christian. The Bible makes it abundantly clear
that Jesus is the only Way; that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
So what is the value of the church?
Church is a family....a shelter, a place of safety and friendship, hope and
direction. In church, Pains are divided, joys are multiplied. Members weep with
those weeping and rejoice with those rejoicing! Life is shared. There is nothing
like the local church when the local church is working right! It transforms
lives heart by heart… soul by soul… life by life.
This isn’t new....its how God designed the Church. There was once a community of
believers who were so totally devoted to God that their life together was
charged with the Spirit’s power. In that band of Christ-followers, believers
loved each other with a radical kind of love. They took off their masks and
shared their lives with one another. They laughed and cried and prayed and sang
and served together in authentic Christian fellowship. THAT’S THE CHURCH!
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and
to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled
with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All
the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their
possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they
continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes
and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the
favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were
being saved. ~ Acts 2:42-47
Monday, November 05, 2007
DECLARE HIS GLORY AMONG THE NATIONS
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Psalm 96:3-5
NorthStar Church has actively pursued an Acts 1:8 mindset and we have been heavily involved in local and regional missions. NSC has tackled mission projects in (our Jerusalem) Coeur d'Alene, (Judea) places as close as Kingston and Priest River, Idaho, (Samaria) places like New Orleans for disaster relief efforts or Southern Idaho for construction, and even (to the ends of the earth) through mission projects in places like Vancouver, B.C.
In late September, I traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal for a two-week opportunity of working with the Sherpa people of eastern Nepal. What a life-changing experience. This was not only my first international mission experience, it also carried the distinction of being NorthStar Church's first overseas mission opportunity.
This Wednesday (November 7th) I will be sharing about that experience at 6:30 p.m. at NorthStar. More to come soon about this amazing trip!