You’ve heard it said “good things come in small packages” and no doubt that’s true. Unlike our young children and grandchildren, we (who are older and wiser) know that the biggest gift under the Christmas tree is not always the most valuable.

This past week at RCC , we hosted some very big , burly men from the Power for Life strength team , who not only wowed us with their feats of strength , they also delivered a HUGE gift to our church — namely 350 decisions for Christ ! It was almost surreal seeing so many people stepping out of their seats and coming to the front to say YES to following Jesus.

Over the course of 3 days, the Power Team held 9 assemblies in our local public schools and each night they did a 90 minute performance at the church. They ripped phone books in two , blew up water bottles like balloons , lifted telephone poles over their heads , smashed concrete blocks with their bare hands , tore license plates and bent steel bars with their teeth. Sound crazy? It sure was! But it was worth all the craziness to see that many respond to the Lord.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to the RCC church family who donated funds , provided meals ( man can those guys eat ), delivered flyers, brought friends, worked as VIP counselors, set up and broke down the stage each night after the show. I would especially like to thank Ron and Amy Shirley for their hard work and dedication to the Lord and for their heart for reaching the lost.

Now the real work begins as we follow up on everyone who responded over this past 3 days. Pray that we will help many find their connection within the body of Christ and grow toward maturity. No doubt about it– good things DO come in BIG packages!

The other night we were wakened suddenly by the sound of hissing and clawing in the eaves of our attic. Creepy? You bet…..but what could it be up there? There’s nothing worse than standing around at 2:30am, knowing that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it–at least until morning.

My best guess is an opossum. They’re ugly, they’re nasty, they’re mean and they don’t back down easy! If anybody has an idea as to how to get rid of these creepy creatures, we are ready to hear it.

Things do go bump in the night. Sometimes it’s the wind, sometimes things do fall over and SOMETIMES it’s a REALLY BIG SQUIRELL or an unwelcomed OPOSSOM!

Just the other day, I revisited the colorful story of Peter’s fishing excursion with his partners after the resurrection; tucked away in the closing chapter of the gospel of John. Seems that Peter, (not really knowing what to do but needing to do something constructive and productive), returned to the very thing he may not have wanted to do–but knew HOW to do. Peter may not have been highly skilled in many things, but the man knew how to catch fish! Unfortunately, he’d been out of practice for a while.

For the past three years, Peter had been traveling with Jesus and assisting him in his ministry along with the other eleven disciples. He hadn’t been anywhere near a boat since he saw Jesus walking on the water and my guess is he hadn’t missed those late nights and early mornings trying to carve out a living catching fish !

However this one fishing story is amazingly true. Peter, the ever impulsive disciple tells his friends that he’s going fishing. He did not care who went with him, but like most natural born leaders, he convinces the rest of the group to join in and they gladly follow Peter. And why not? They might just pull in a catch.

Well, hours go by and there’s nothing to show for their effort. Not even a nibble. The evening sunset slowly fades to black and they spend the whole night on the water with nothing to show for their efforts. As the morning sun glistens over Lake Geneseret, a familiar voice carries across the water. “Throw your net on the other side of the boat and you’ll find some fish”.
Peter and his fellow fisherman must have thought: “Who does that guy think he is —telling us how to fish? Doesn’t he know we are professionals? We are sick and tired after being out here all night and the last thing were gonna do is pull up our nets on a whim and toss them on the other side. It’s just too much work after a long night.

But for some reason, Peter and the guys decide to give it a go one last time. One more toss on the other side of the boat and we’re throwing in the towel– not realizing that they were about to get their nets stretched for the biggest haul of the season; maybe ever!

Once Peter realized it was Jesus calling from the shore, the ever unpredictable disciple, forgets about the catch, leaves the nets to his partners and makes a mad dash for the shoreline. NO WONDER they caught so much fish– it was Jesus calling the shots.

One word of instruction from Jesus is a hundred times better than ALL of our best efforts. In fact, our best ideas on our best day are no match for the master’s voice. Peter wasn’t 100% sure it was Jesus speaking from the shoreline, but he was willing to give it one more shot.

Let me encourage you not to give up. Don’t throw in the towel. Many of us have been doing it the hard way and not listening to the “still small voice” calling to us from the distance. When we position ourselves to hear the voice of God, when we listen and obey, we may just haul in the biggest catch of our lives! It does not matter if it’s a business venture, a ministry endeavor or a financial decision. Listen to that still small voice inside. Our God longs to speak to us. We only need to listen and obey.

Good Stuff in the Works

April 6, 2009

Today is Monday….enjoying the day with my bride…although it’s raining cats and dogs here in Raleigh. We’re planning on a busy week as we approach the Easter weekend. Last night Janet and I met with the core group of our Young Couples from the church. Had a delicious Italian dinner (which I rarely pass up), followed by some strategic planning for our upcoming cookout for the RCC Young Couples on April 19th.

I’ve been very excited about our church reaching out to the neighboring community. Some of the managers from the Beechwood Apartment complex ( just a mile or so down the street) have been coming to our Sunday services and we are building some good friendships with the Harris Creek Elementary staff ( about 3 miles down the street on Forestville Rd). Both groups will be tapping into our “Angel Food” ministry (a discounted food distribution service that many churches are using in recent days). We will also be sending nearly 50 elementary students home each weekend with “buddy back packs” filled with healthy drinks and snacks for under-resourced families who are struggling to put bread on the table.

Please pray with us that our Beechwood Block Party will be a smashing success as we continue to reach out in love to our neighbors and friends the first Saturday in June. Enjoy this amazing Holy Week with your family and spiritual family!

JIM

March 31, 2009

Hello Friends,

I’m extremely excited about our church’s upcoming 25th Anniversary celebration coming up this June 28th. Seems hard to believe it’s been 25 years …..in doggie years that’s like ….well…a very long time.

The theme for the celebration hasn’t quite landed on the front lobe of my brain….but for a working title we could call it “Yesterday and Today”. Some of the friends who will be helping us celebrate the day….Jeff Stockford (RCC’s first worship leader ) Robyn Liner (songwriter/author/worship leader and pastor’s wife) and Jesse Spradley (son of Robert and Diana Spradley / now worship pastor at Jubilee Christian Fellowship in Denver Colorado) and a few more yet to be named (that’s a clever way to say….we’re still working on it !)

It all begins on Friday night with a Worship Concert…..(with Mark Stahl and the RCC Band along with Jeff , Robyn and Jesse sharing both new songs and some classic ones too.

On Saturday, graduates from RCCS will be having a reunion on the campus….and Sunday we’ll celebrate with hundreds of RCC friends both old and new….25 years of changed lives…all for the glory of God !

Consider this a personal invitation from me to you — to join us for a weekend of celebration……..we’re gonna have a blast!

JIM

It’s a rainy Thursday but still a beautiful day both inside and out! Are there challenges facing me today? You bet. Are there obstacles that stand in my way between where I am and where I need to be? Absolutely. So what else is new?

The Apostle Paul told us that we are destined for trials if we desire to live a godly life in Christ. Trials are not to be avoided; they are to be fully embraced. The book of James tells us to “consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds, knowing that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. It goes on to say “perseverance must finish it’s work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

The goal for each of us then as followers of Christ is to be mature and complete, with nothing lacking in our arsenal. If tests and trials are God’s means to develop us and shape our lives –so be it! There’s no one I’d rather be sculpted by than by the Lord himself.

March 23, 2009

Hey guys,…….catching up on the blog….today I’m officially a ” texter” if that makes any sense. I guess it’s never too late to catch up to the rest of the world ! Been meeting to write for quite some time.
For all my facebook friends out there…..let me tell you for certain….God is good all the time ! I don’t say that because I’m a pastor…..I say it because I’m a devout follower of Christ. The christian life is not an easy life— but it’s still the best life of all .
Enjoying my day out of the office with Janet. Picked up some good books to dive into , picked up a salad for lunch and now I’m catching up on some writing ( with ESPN in the backround /keeping up with the NCAA tourney).
Hanging out with my boys as Janet heads out to RCC’s ” Ladies Night Out”. The girls are getting ready to head out of town for the Ladies Encounter Weekend coming up in a few weeks. If it’s have as good as the Men’s…watch out……
JIM