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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Pray Circles Around Your Future and Fears

Praying Circles Around Your Future and Fears.

 

City on a Hill Church’s new sermon series Circles: Praying Circles Around Your Future and Fears.

We want to invite you to join together with your church family asking God to do the impossible and improbable in us and through us individually and collectively. As we seek to build, become and be a city within a city reaching our city with the life changing message of Jesus Christ one life at a time. We want to begin 2012 by inviting everyone to join us in ”

The Daniel Fast”. It is an invitation to engage in a spiritual discipline that connects or reconnects us to God for 21 days.

Our goal is to pray circles around the future God has intended for us as we seek His face. Jeremiah 29:11-13 teaches us that God has a future and a plan for us and it can be discovered as we seek Him. Romans 12:1-2 teaches us that we can know the perfect pleasing will of God as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and become transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are praying that God would do a mighty work in us. We are praying that after God has accomplished that mighty work in us He would then do a mighty work through us affecting the lives of family, friends, neighbors, those spiritually lost and far from God and those wanderers who have become distant from God. We are fasting and praying to see hundreds of lives changed. We are believing for 1000 souls in Jesus name. We are boldly asking for miracles, signs, and wonders confirming the Word of God. We are praying and believing for salvations, healings and deliverances to the glory of God.

Pastor Mike will be preaching a four week series inspired by heroes of faith in the Bible and Mark Batterson’s new book The Circle Maker. During the series Pastor Mike encourages everyone to read the chapters of scripture presented each week, complete the study guide as a weekly devotion or with a few friends as a small group. Begin circling your future and your fears in prayer by making a list of what you want to see God do in your life and through your life. Pray circles around the future of City on a Hill Church asking God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon our church and city convicting people of their sin and convincing them of their need for a Savior. Pastor Mike will also be sharing some specific requests concerning City on a Hill Church’s future throughout the series and inviting everyone to circle these requests in prayer as well.

What an incredible way to begin the New Year fasting, praying and seeking God’s face individually and collectively as the body of Christ! We know this is going to be a huge challenge. We also know we are going to experience God in ways we have only dreamed about over those 21 days. Our worship gatherings are going to be intensified by our pursuit of the Savior Jesus Christ, the empowering of the Holy Spirit, and the favor of God the Father.

Who:

The entire City on a Hill Church family will be invited and encouraged to participate in the fast and we are asking our Ministry Team and small groups to join us as we seek God during this exciting season.

When:

Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 6 pm: Begin the “Daniel Fast”.

Sunday January 29, 2012 at 6 pm: Break the Fast!

What:

The Daniel Fast is a partial fast, which means that we will eliminate some common things from our daily diet, but will have generous options available. We will focus on eating fruits and vegetables that are pure and simple. We have included a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid.

*If you have any known medical conditions or suspect such conditions, consult your doctor before beginning the fast.

How:

There are multiple online resources available on the Daniel Fast. One thing you’ll notice is that there are many ways to do the fast. This is, in part, due to the lack of clarity in the bible as to exactly what Daniel did during his fast. However, to keep it simple, we will include in a booklet what City on a Hill Church will be doing during the fast and some of the resources we will be using. This fast will require preparation as most meals will be made from scratch. We will have some recipes available online.

Resources:

www.christ-web.com/missions/farho/daniel-fast

www.danielfast.wordpress.com/

www.hacres.com/recipes/recipes.asp

Levels of Participation:

Twice in the book of Daniel a fast is mentioned. Once is for 21 days and the second for 10 days. We are asking our Ministry Team to join in the 21 day fast but if circumstance won’t allow the full fast, we ask that you would set aside 10 days during the fast to join us in prayer and fasting.

Booklets will be provided January 8 during our services. It is our sincere prayer that you will begin praying about joining together with your church family believing God for the impossible and improbable to His glory.

Love and Blessings,

Pastor Mike

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2011 in COAH

 

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Remember, Rehearse, Rejoice

Last Friday I climbed my mountain, the fort at Fort DeSoto, to be alone with God. This has been my place of meeting with Jesus for the past two years. On Friday there was something different happening in my heart and spirit. As I climbed the steps to the climb I was getting flashbacks on January 2010. Each step seemed to create even more vivid memories of prayers prayed. The feeling was quite overwhelming because with these memories came intense emotions that were attached. The feelings of desperation, uncertainty, faith and expectation were flooding my memory and taking me back. I began to rehearse some of the prayers I had prayed. I began to rehearse the feelings of uncertainty as I looked over my shoulder at the past two years. I began to rejoice openly and unashamedly at the miraculous journey I have been on. I feel like I have been on a 24 month roller coaster ride with God as the attendant giving me the ride of my life. I recalled the circles I had walked at the top of that fort crying out to God for my healing, calling and vision. I remembered writing down my dream and then watching the dream written on paper come to life in ways I could never ask, think, dream or imagine. I rehearsed the miracles Native Sun warehouse, Willis Johns Recreation Center, 85 member Launch Team, a huge sound system donated, a travel trailer donated, a second sound system donated, 45 showing up to our first Launch Team meeting, growing to 85 on the Launch Team before we opened, God holding back the rain at our first baptism, 80 baptized in the first 16 months, and the list goes on and on of God’s hand of favor and His amazing grace. I just stopped asking and started rejoicing and my rejoicing turned into PREJOICING! No, I didn’t spell it wrong I began PREJOICING over what God is going to do. This is just the beginning for us. The past two weeks God has been preparing my heart and challenging me to dream bigger than I ever have before. My dream has been expanded far beyond the borders of my imagination. God has stoked the fires of my imagination and placed in my heart an impossible and improbable dream. This excites me to no end. This fires me up like never before. Why? Because this dream is so big in can never happen without God. This dream is so audacious that it can’t happen without audacious faith in a supernatural God. As I looked over my shoulder at the past two years I realized I had been here before. It was deja vu all over again:) Two years ago all I had was Jesus and a dream. The odds were stacked against me. The statistics were not in my favor but God was and is! I climbed that mountain last Friday and I began to remember my story which is now a part of HIS-tory, I rehearsed the past 19 months and the salvations, miracles, signs, and wonders, I rejoiced in my God and my Savior and the work of His hands. What about you today? I encourage you to look over your shoulder. Review your prayer lists. What has God done? What is God doing in your life? Circle the wagons around your dreams. Circle the wagons around your hurts. Remember God’s grace, Rehearse His good deeds in your life, rejoice that He isn’t done with you. Be encouraged!

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in COAH

 

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A Church on Our Knees

Last week I picked up a copy of Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker. It was right on time for this season in my life. Mark is a church planter and pastor and in his book challenges us and reminds us of the significance and necessity of fervent, consistent prayer. The past few weeks I have had divine direction to leave the office and go to my place of prayer and pray over my life, my family, City on a Hill Church, COAH’s Ministry Team, and our city. I picked this book up “by chance” last Friday while in the bookstore. As we all know nothing happens by chance it was a divine interruption, a divine intersection for me. I am 19 months into this sovereign move of God called City on a Hill Church. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt we would not be experiencing what we have experienced without consistent, fervent prayer. This church was planted out of a season of prayer and fasting like never before. City on a Hill Church has seen miracle after miracle and provision after provision because of God’s grace and consistent, fervent prayer. I myself can honestly say I have never been closer to my God, Savior, and King Jesus in my entire life because of consistent, fervent prayer. The Circle Maker challenged me to “look over my shoulder” at all that God has done in and through my life and the life of City on a Hill Church. I found myself weeping tears of joy and celebrating this beautiful yet brutal journey in church planting and pastoring. I know this hasn’t just been my prayers but the prayers of a church on our knees. I have had a faithful group of men and women consistently and fervently praying over me, my family, and this church. For that I am forever grateful to you [you know who you are]. Reading The Circle Maker over the past few days has re-ignited my fire and re-stoked the flames of my imagination to dream even bigger than before and to make big asks of God like never before all to His glory of course. On Friday after reading a few chapters I got into my car and drove a huge circle around the city praying for the lost to be found and wanderers to come home. I asked for God to transform the lost and wanderer into disciple making disciples and send them as missionaries back into every culture in our city to His glory. I staked my claim over this city in Jesus name and walked properties, some abandoned and some occupied trusting God for what I know He has promised, a permanent home for City on a Hill Church. All the while I praised, thanked, glorified, and exalted Him for our 11,000 square foot miracle on Dr. MLK street North. I “looked over my shoulder” and rehearsed the day I walked into the Willis Johns Recreation center and heard Brad Rice call out my name. I smiled and treasured in my heart that God had removed my reservations [UNCERTAINTY] because He already had reservations [A place to call home] for COAH. I drove by our current home and prayed over the building and the staff fervently. As I drove through the city God expanded my vision and gave my dreams, dreams:) I dreamed of all the ways we could serve God in a permanent location. I prayed over and drew circles around a youth development/mentoring program, martial arts program, School of Urban Missions [Seminary], Wednesday night services with a full compliment of ministries for the family, counseling center, car care clinic for single moms, after school program, Christian school and more! I told you it was a God sized dream. I prayed circles around the future impact it would have on this city, region, and ultimately the world. I prayed circles around the promise I feel and has been confirmed in the hearts of numerous people over the past 19 months concerning a debt free building given to us or purchased for us to the glory of God. You see my dreams are all debt free dreams. We have committed as a church to never be a slave to the lender which means if we don’t have the resources to buy it outright than we don’t buy it. I believe in my heart that our miracle is coming. Just putting it in writing takes great faith. I know full well one day I will “look over my shoulder” and pull this blog up to rehearse the good deeds of God. I have a “sun stand still” faith and audacious faith requires audacious action. Let me encourage you today to “look over your shoulder” at what God has done in, for, and through you and then turn your eyes toward the future and begin praying circles around your God ordained dreams. One day we will celebrate together all that He has done! Here is what I know, all of this can and will happen if City on a Hill Church is a Church on our knees. All that has happened and all that ever will happen will be birthed through consistent, fervent prayer. Draw your circles today. Got to go I got some praying to do:) Be encouraged!

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in COAH

 

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All Bottled Up

Over the weekend I preached a message in our SING! Christmas series where we are studying the first four Christmas carols from Luke Chapters 1 and 2. This weekend’s message was called Zechariah’s Song from Luke 1:67-80 which takes place under some unusual circumstances. Zechariah was a priest in the countryside of Judea. He was married to a woman named Elizabeth. They had tried for years to have a child but they were unable to have they what they so desperately wanted, a child to call their own. Even though they didn’t get what they so desperately wanted nevertheless they loved and served God faithfully never bringing into question the goodness of His heart toward them. Stop for a minute! Don’t you wish we could have that kind of testimony? They loved and served God despite their current situation. What they didn’t know is that they were going to be playing a huge part in fulfilling a promise God made to mankind hundreds of years even before they were born. They knew of the past. Zechariah was a priest he knew the Old Testament. He knew the good deeds of God. They could see the present. They knew what life looked like for them. However, they couldn’t see the future. They didn’t know that God was going to invite them to become a part of man’s salvation history. They were going to have a son who would be called the greatest prophet to ever live. They were going to be the parents the forerunner of the Messiah himself. Jesus’ personal ring announcer if you will, John the Baptist. The name John means, “God is gracious.” God had a plan for their lives. God has a plan for your life. Be encouraged! Now here is where the story gets a little squirrelly. The Angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah and tells him his prayers have been heard and answered he is going to be a Daddy! Sounds pretty awesome huh? Well Zechariah like so many of us opens mouth and inserts foot. He started looking at things in the natural versus the supernatural. He started trying to figure out the divine mystery of God and questioned how this could be since he was old. Now an Angel is standing before him telling him what is up and he is questioning the angel! Come on man. So God said, Hush yo mouth son! You won’t be able to speak until you see my promise come to pass then you will know. Shut up! So for nine months Zechariah served in the temple but could speak until the day finally arrived. It was time to give birth to his son. Elizabeth gave birth and they were trying to figure out a name. The family wanted another name, a name that was within the family. Remembering the Angel Elizabeth told them the boy is to be named John, God is gracious. After a struggle with Zechariah’s family. Zechariah’s mouth was opened his tongue was loosened and he said, NO! The boy’s name will be John! Zechariah’s broke out into praise and thanksgiving to God. He had a song in his heart for nine months. Can you imagine him watching his wife grow in her pregnancy longing to sing praises to God for His goodness? Can you imagine how hard it must have been not to utter songs of thanksgiving and praise for God’s exceeding goodness to he and his wife? Zechariah couldn’t hold it any longer! Here is his song! Read Luke 1:67-80. Zechariah’s Song wasn’t just about the miracle of having a son. It wasn’t just a song about God’s goodness to grace to he and Elizabeth. His song had a message for the world, “Salvation is Here!” You see just three months after the birth of John the Baptist would come the birth of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. John would go on to prepare the way for Jesus’ public ministry, life, death, and resurrection from the dead defeating mankind’s three greatest enemies satan, sin, and death and offering us salvation and new life. Zechariah’s song was a song of salvation for all of mankind. Imagine how hard it was for Zechariah when a pregnant Mary visited pregnant Elizabeth and John lept in her belly full of the Holy Spirit. I imagine he longed to break forth into praise to the greatness of God and yet his tongue remained silent. He had a long time to think and pray over the lyrics. Ask yourself these questions. What are you waiting on God for? What has God promised you? What are you believing God for? Could you be a part of a Christmas miracle for somebody today? What dream is being conceived in your heart? I don’t know how long you’ve have been waiting. You know your past better than anyone. We have Bible as a testimony to the greatness and goodness of our God. You know your present better than anyone. No one knows what is happening inside your head and inside your heart in real time or the present better than you. You know your circumstance you are familiar with it because you are living in it right now. What is bottled up inside of you? Notice with me that when Zechariah’s tongue was loosened he didn’t start screaming about the nine months he was made silent. No, no my friends he broke forth in bottled up praise and cried out “Blessed be the Lord.” He didn’t let nine months of silence inhibit his praise. He got his praise on! He didn’t let nine months of waiting make him bitter it made him better. He couldn’t see John with his own eyes. He saw his answer to prayer growing for nine months. He felt him kicking inside his mother’s womb. And then finally he saw the answer to his prayer born. What are you waiting for? When it arrives are you going to break forth in radical praise or are you going to break forth into a bitter dirge? Are you going to sing a new song or the blues? We have a choice. What is getting bottled inside of you today? My prayer is that it is praise and adoration. My prayer is that you will see the grace of God in your life. My prayer is that we won’t say, “Look what God has done TO me.” rather we will say, “Look what God has done FOR me.” Be encouraged!

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in COAH

 

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$$$$$ SLAVE $$$$$

 Proverbs 22:7 (ESV) The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

When we planted City on a Hill Church we decided right from the very beginning we would never be a slave to the lender. In my 20 plus years in the church and in my 16 years of ministry I have seen great churches fall into the trap of becoming slaves to the lenders. Building buildings that they could not afford for the sake of “growth” an “if you build it they will come” field of dreams kind of mentality. Unfortunately, I have watched as ministry has taken a back seat and bill paying becomes a priority. The people are strapped with a heavy burden and it can feel almost as if they are taxed for attending. I have watched as the pastors have moved from risk taking leaders to nickel and nose counting managers. I know it sounds harsh but it deeply saddens me to see this kind of thing happening in an epidemic fashion in our country. Some have built cathedrals unto themselves and then walked away leaving the people to carry the debt and burden. In our day and time so many of us are living pay check to pay check we get monthly bills at the house. Some times there is more month than there is money! Then we come to church and get our bill for attending and when we leave rather than saying, “It has been a real pleasure.” We say, “It has been a real pressure.” My heart breaks for the people. At City on a Hill Church we decided that we will never be a slave to the lender. Are we going to have a church building? Absolutely! We believe God is going to give us or buy us a church building. Will we and do we save to buy a building outright? Absolutely as God provides we choose to be good stewards with God’s resources. The benefits to renting are endless. No lawn care, no maintenance, no electric bill, no water bill and he list goes on and on. God has provided for us an 11,000 square foot facility right in the middle of our community. It has everything that we need. It has more than we need and we are thankful. Not being a slave to the lender allows City on a Hill Church to do the work of the ministry. We are able to care for those within our congregation who find themselves in need. We partner locally with the city to minister to the needs of single moms, the homeless, the poor, the needy. We partner worldwide to see churches planted, Gospel crusades, bible colleges built in foreign countries, children receive a Christian education, and the list goes on and on to the glory of God. Now is it important to tithe and to give? Absolutely! According to Jesus in Matthew 23:23, Yes you should tithe but you should not neglect justice, mercy, and faithfulness. I believe in tithing! I believe in giving! We are made in the image of God and part of the image we bear is to be givers. We can give without loving, but we can’t love without giving. The people of City on a Hill Church are ridiculously generous. I don’t have to strap a heavy burden onto them. They give because God gives. They give out of grateful hearts because they understand the grace, love, and mercy of God. They give because they know they can trust us to be good stewards of God’s resources and blessings. Our core value is we are blessed to be a blessing. God has given us a certain amount of time, talent, and treasure and He expects us to use it to Love Him, Love people, and Preach Jesus. They give not out of duty but out of grateful loving hearts. As the pastor of City on a Hill Church I choose not to look at giving records. I chose to trust in God’s grace and the leading of the Holy Spirit to put in each person’s heart what they are to give.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

It really boils down to a trust issue. I choose not to be a slave to the lender. When we become slaves to the lender God is no longer our benefactor we start looking at people as benefactors. People are not benefactors, they are not resources to be used up and discarded. People are people and they deserve to be loved, accepted, and respected. The giving at City on a Hill Church doesn’t determine the size of our vision or mission God does. He is our benefactor. When He that time we will enjoy the blessing of our amazing location and incredible blessing He has already provided. Because we choose not to be a slave to the lender I am free to love and pastor my people. The people God has entrusted to my care as I remain with them under His sovereign care. Because I choose not to be a slave to the lender I don’t have to worry about becoming like a shepherd described in the first part of Ezekiel 34 I know I can be like a God appointed shepherd in the end of Ezekiel 34 to the glory of God. I pray you hear my heart on this. I pray we lead our families like this. I pray we stop building cathedrals unto ourselves and leave a legacy of souls not buildings. I pray buildings will be tools used to the glory of God not monuments to men’s achievements. I pray we leverage every building God entrusts to His shepherds to reach the lost, serve out cities, and change our world. I pray that men would not write a check with their mouths that there tail ends can’t cover. I know one day City on a Hill Church will have a permanent home but I can not help but praise God for the one He has so graciously provided! It was and still is an amazing miracle of provision and a sign of God’s sovereign hand upon City on a Hill Church. Be thankful for what God has given you and use it to His glory. Don’t look past your blessings and forget what God already has provided! Be encouraged!
 
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Posted by on December 5, 2011 in COAH

 

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