Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It’s Been a Great Year – And It’s Not Over Yet.



As I write this blog, we’re a little more than halfway through the 2016 calendar, and it’s already been a great year at Mount Pleasant Christian Church. In fact, there’s not enough room in this blog to list all the great things that have happened so far. There was “Night to Shine” our first prom for special needs folks, Change the World week (over 400,000 meals prepared, the frames of 5 houses constructed, and countless other people served in and around our community). We’ve had mission trips to Romania, Poland (2), The Dominican Republic (home build), Cookson Hills Christian Home in Oklahoma, Big Creek Mission in Bear Creek, Kentucky and Mexico (VBS), and we’ve got remaining trips to Austria, Mexico and Myanmar on the calendar. Each of these trips provided opportunities for people to be served and the gospel to be presented. We had almost 400 students and volunteers at Camp Allendale for a week of church camp as well as over 200 students attending Christ in Youth MOVE and MIX Conferences. Our Bible Bowl teams capped off another successful year by placing 2 teams in the top 3 at their recent National Tournament. Our preschool continues to grow and serve the families of our community. We’ve kicked off a new Soul Care ministry along with a new Financial Freedom ministry. Our Home Group ministry is growing, I could go on and on. It’s been a great year and its only July 27.

I have always had a vision for a church that provided multiple opportunities to reach and serve people. And while Mount Pleasant Christian Church is far from perfect (there’s no such thing as a perfect church), I’m seeing that happen each and every week. So let me encourage you to embrace that vision and that opportunity by making some important commitments for the remainder of this year. First, commit to faithfulness in worship. While we are a church that is involved in lots of ministry opportunities, our major focus continues to be our weekend services. The Bible encourages us in Hebrews 10:25, Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing… (NIV) I know you’ve got a busy life. I know weekends are filled with lots of options when it comes to your time. But I also know the great value of committing an hour and fifteen minutes to worship. Making that commitment is something you’ll never regret. Second, get connected through a Home Group and through regular service. Church was never intended to be a, “Just show up once a week” experience. We can’t live out the “one another” commands of the New Testament (love one another – serve one another – bear one another’s burdens – etc.) if we’re not “connected.” Get connected to a Home Group (you can even recruit your own Home Group) and say “yes” to the many opportunities to serve on a weekly or monthly basis. Third, Be faithful and consistent in your financial support. It takes money to do ministry – especially when your ministry is so focused on making an IMPACT both locally and globally. We operate on a fiscal year that runs from July 1 thru June 30 and we have begun the 2016/2017 fiscal year a little behind our budgeted needs. This isn’t unusual as lots of our church family are gone through June and July with vacation and lots of other activities. And I know that “back to school” always brings an extra expense to families with young children. But our financial commitments are continuous and we don’t want to fall behind. We’ve got operational costs to support the great campus God has blessed us with, a large staff (and families) to care for, and significant opportunities for IMPACT through the IMPACT Center (food & clothing) our IMPACT Chin ministry, local & global mission partners, and the list goes on.

So here’s my encouragement to you. Take some time today to thank God for the ministry of Mount Pleasant Christian Church (say that prayer right now - it really is incredible). Ask God’s blessing on the many ministry opportunities that are before us throughout the remainder of this year. Then be prayerful and thoughtful about your response to the three commitments I’ve shared. Be faithful in worship, get connected through community and service and give faithfully. I can tell you that one of the greatest decisions my wife Sandy and I have ever made, was the decision to be faithful, consistent and generous supporters of our local church. There has never been a moment when we regretted or fretted over this support. We have our weekly gift automatically taken from our account so it’s here even when we’re not. And I can tell you from years and years of firsthand experience, no matter how much we give, we can never out give God.

Jesus cares,

Pastor Chris

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Financial Freedom


One of the things I love the most about Mount Pleasant Christian Church is that we are able to offer ministry opportunities to meet a variety of needs. No doubt that’s one of the reasons why we see all kinds of people in our community, oftentimes people who attend different churches, coming to us for things like Bible Study opportunities, Youth & Adult Sports opportunities, Counseling, Pre-school, Mom to Mom, Support Groups and you can go on and on. I love that about our church!

One of the ministry opportunities we offer that I’m most excited about is our Financial Freedom Ministry. Simply stated, the purpose of this ministry is to provide Biblically based financial resources for our members (or anyone in need) to become excellent stewards (managers) of God’s money. Now, this is nothing new as good Biblically based financial stewardship has always been a part of our teaching at Mount Pleasant. But we’re “raising the bar” in what we’re able to offer to help you become a good steward. In addition to offering Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) at different times throughout the year, we’ve also begun to offer Dave Ramsey’s “Legacy Journey” which is a seven-week Biblically based class that teaches you how to live and leave a legacy for generations to come. But there’s even more. In addition to these classes, we now have three Dave Ramsey trained Financial Coaches to assist you with special questions and needs. These coaches will come alongside you to help you achieve your financial goals no matter where you are in your stewardship journey – whether you’re living paycheck to paycheck, saving for some special need like college for your children or planning for retirement. These “coaches” are not insurance specialists or brokers and they won’t try to push or sell any products. Their sole mission is to help equip you with practical advice and a Biblical toolbox to enable you to become financially free so you can fulfill God’s purpose for your life. Depending on your specific situation, they might recommend qualified professionals for you to consult with (tax attorney, estate planner, etc.), but you will be in control at all times. Our coaches will only make recommendations to you, the follow through is up to you. And this confidential service is being offered at no cost to you.

There’s no question that being financially free is God’s will for all of us. The Bible teaches us that everything belongs to God (Psalm 24:1, The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.) so when He entrusts something to us (like money), we need to follow His instruction and His guidelines for how it is handled.  That’s God’s expectation. And God knows how easy and how dangerous it is to lose the right attitude or perspective about money. That’s why Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NIV) Don’t make the mistake of being a slave to money. Use however much or little God has entrusted to you for His glory. We can help you do that through the Financial Freedom Ministry.

If you’d like to take advantage of this ministry, then just contact Don Vandoski at 317-513-5859 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday (please respect those times). He will confidentially discuss your situation and connect you with one of our coaches. You can also learn more about this ministry by clicking here. Don’t keep putting off taking steps toward financial freedom…act now.

Jesus cares,

Pastor Chris

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Focusing on Faithfulness


Because of my age, I, like many others in church, have a great love for the hymns of faith that I grew up singing when I was a boy. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t love all the contemporary songs that we sing today, because I do…I absolutely do…I love todays songs just as dearly as those songs from the past. But whether or not you’re talking about the songs of yesterday or the songs of today, one of my favorite things to do is learn the story behind the song. Let me give you an example. In the little church I grew up in we would end every service the same way. We would stand together and sing the hymn, Blest be the Tie that Binds. Here’s the story behind that song:

Centuries ago John Fawcett was the pastor of a poor church in Wainsgate, England. Since he was a talented and dynamic preacher, he received an offer to be the pastor of a large, affluent church in London. It was a great opportunity, but it presented a problem: He dearly loved the congregation in Wainsgate, and it was killing him to leave. After he and his wife had packed away all their belongings, members of the church came to see them off. During their goodbyes, Mary Fawcett said to her husband, "John, I cannot bear to leave!" He thought for a moment and said, "Neither can I. And so we won't. This is our home, these are our people and this is where we will stay." John Fawcett spent his entire fifty-four-year ministry serving this one church. Shortly after making this decision, he wrote these words...

 
Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
That's the verse everyone knows. Here's one of the other verses.
We share each other's woes, our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
This song reminds me of an immutable truth in the church, whether you’re talking about yesterday or today…we need community…we need each other. 

Fall break is over and I hope that everyone who was able to get away had a fun and restful vacation. This two-week break (just like spring break) has an impact on three weekends of worship and always puts a dent in our momentum. So my hope, and my strong encouragement, is that as we move into the end of the year we will commit (or re-commit) ourselves to faithfulness in worship, growth and service. That’s something that can begin as early as this weekend as we kick off our annual stewardship series with the first of four messages called “The New ABC’s of Financial Freedom.” I hope you picked up your free copy of the book and, if you’re in a Home Group, I hope you’ve purchased your workbook (the cost is only $5). This series isn’t something that’s focused primarily on giving but on what it means to be a good steward with all the resources God has entrusted to us.  We’ll be talking about some very important financial issues that impact our lives every day.

 So, to those who’ve been gone, “Welcome back.”  And to all of us, “Let’s get focused on faithfulness.” 

 
Jesus cares,
Pastor Chris

Monday, February 2, 2015

How to do the Impossible


I’ve got a confession to make. In this modern day of computers and a seemingly infinite number of software programs to help you manage your time and schedule more efficiently, I still use a good old fashioned “to do” list. I discovered a long time ago that something significant happens when I take a pen and paper and write down a list of the things I need to accomplish during a particular day or week. The only down side is sometimes my list seems overwhelming. My “to do” list for this particular week covers an entire page from top to bottom. I know I’ll feel good at the end of the week when most, if not all the items are checked off but looking at my list today feels a little depressing and, honestly, a little impossible.  Have you ever felt that way? Fortunately I memorized a great quote years ago that helps me in moments like this. It came from St. Francis of Assisi and it’s great advice to anyone who lives with a lot of responsibility. “Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” 

Now I don’t want to be misleading in any way.  I’m not routinely involved with doing things that would fall into the category of the impossible…not in the strictest sense of the word. But sometimes the things I need to do feel impossible. But whether the task is impossible or simply feels impossible the solution is the same. Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible. In other words, do what must be done then do what can be done.  And eventually you’ll look back and see that you’ve accomplished more than you ever imagined. 

So much of success in life is wrapped up in an attitude that says, “I’m not going to give up…I’m not going to quit.”  That has always been and will always be the key to success in life. And so that’s how we need to approach each day in life. In Psalm 90:12 David writes, So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.  Now, I don’t believe David is writing about counting our days, he’s writing about making our days count. How do we do that?  The answer is by doing something. We get up every morning and whatever it is that’s in front of us we start by doing what’s necessary, then we do what’s possible and in the end we find we are doing the impossible (or what once seemed impossible). How do you think Noah built the ark? How did Nehemiah rebuild the walls of the City of Jerusalem? The answer is one day at a time…one board, one stone at a time. We make our days count when we do what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and end up doing the impossible.

Jesus Cares,

Pastor Chris

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Giving

Dear Mount Pleasant Family & Friends,

Greetings in the name of Christ, I wanted to take a minute to write and share some important information with you. 

At Mount Pleasant Christian Church we operate on a fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30. That means we’re just a little more than 2 months into the 2014/2015 fiscal year. Because the fiscal year starts in the middle of the summer we always start a little slow with our giving and this year has been no different. Financially we are in very good shape with regard to our income verses expenses but after the first 10 weeks of the fiscal year we are $122,218.45 behind in our general fund giving. Now, again, because of the way we manage God’s money we are not in any trouble with regard to our income verses expenses. However, if we continue at this pace it will ultimately effect our ministry commitments on some level. So I’m writing, first, to inform you and second, to challenge you to help us remove this deficit so our ability to operate our local ministry and support our global partners will not be in jeopardy. I am deeply thankful for all the generous people who support the ministry of MPCC and I trust that God will continue to provide-but sometimes we just need to be reminded of the need. 

One of the best things Sandy and I have ever done with regard to our stewardship is make our giving automatic. I’m out of the pulpit anywhere from 8 to 12 weekends a year but we continue to give every weekend even when we’re gone. You can learn more about that by contacting the church and asking for information. Our online giving is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just log onto www.mpcc.info to learn more. And, as you know, each week we have a time of offering in each of our services. 

Thanks in advance for your help in removing this deficit. Please continue to pray each day for the ministry and impact of Mount Pleasant Christian Church both locally and globally as we strive to change the world one life, one family, one opportunity at a time.

Jesus cares,

Pastor Chris

Monday, July 14, 2014

You're Never Too Old


Back in September 2007, one of the most incredible stories in the world of sports unfolded and yet very few people knew about it. It happened on a Saturday afternoon when 59-year-old Mike Flynt took the field for the Sul Ross State Lobos. Not as a coach or a trainer, but as a player. He was their starting linebacker. Flynt had played for this Division III team back in 1970, but was forced to quit before his senior year. And the truth is he never got over the regret of not getting to play that final season. So, when he found out that he still had one more semester of eligibility, he signed up. Sports Illustrated called him “the ultimate college senior” because he was a grandfather, a member of AARP and he was eight years older than his head coach. But his playing was no gimmick. He had to earn his spot on the roster just like everyone else. When interviewed by a local paper Flynt said, “The opportunity like what I’m going after right now is just a testament to what you do at any stage of your life if you just take a few minutes every day to prioritize your health and take better care of yourself.” 

I love this story. Maybe it’s because I just celebrated my birthday, but I don’t think so. I love this story because it reminds me that most of our limitations in life are self-imposed. You don’t find any verses in the Bible where God says you’re too young, too old, too weak, too poor, too uneducated or too anything to be used by Him. The reason why is because there are certain qualities that trump all the limitations you can imagine. One of them is faith and one of them is a willingness to suit up and give something a try. That’s what Mike Flynt did. 

Recently I was reading through Acts 2, and the miraculous event that happened on the Day of Pentecost that ushered in the beginning of the New Testament Church. When the people who were witnesses to that event were trying to figure it out the Apostle Peter stood up and gave an explanation that was based on some prophetic words spoken years earlier by the prophet Joel.  The prophecy described things that would happen in the last days and one of the statements (Acts 2:17) was, Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. (NIV) Now, I don’t want to be guilty of misusing this verse of Scripture but I just love the idea of old men dreaming dreams. The Bible is filled with story after story of God using people with lots of years (uh, I mean experience) to accomplish His will and His purpose in the world. There’s no reason why you can’t be one of them. 

Psalm 92:12-14 says, The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green. (NIV) You’re never too old to bear fruit for God, not if you live by faith and you’re willing to suit up and give something a try. So decide today to never let the number of candles on your birthday cake keep you from dreaming big dreams and pursuing whatever challenge, opportunity, desire or interest comes your way.

Jesus Cares,

Pastor Chris

Monday, June 30, 2014

Finishing


 
One of the most moving passages of Scripture in the Bible is found in Acts 20 where the apostle Paul shares an emotional “goodbye” with the Ephesian Elders. This takes place during Paul’s third missionary journey after he has spent three years with these men pouring his life into theirs and equipping them to lead their local church.  He’s about to leave and travel to the city of Jerusalem where, by his own words in Acts 20:22, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. As he shares his heart with them he reveals the deep desire of his heart when he says, in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  (NIV) He tells them his hearts desire is to “finish the race” and “complete the task.”  With those words Paul reminds us that there is great value in finishing what you start.

In 1912, a marathon runner named Shizo Kanakuri was chosen to represent Japan in the Summer Olympics at Stockholm. He began the race but along the way was overcome by the heat so he stopped at, of all things, a garden party for refreshment.  But he stayed too long – more than an hour. At that point he thought it was too late to get back in the race so he made his way back to his hotel and then, anonymously, boarded a ship and sailed home, too ashamed to tell anyone he was leaving. For more than 50 years his disappearance was a mystery and he was listed as a missing person in Sweden. Then, one day, he was discovered living a quiet life in southern Japan.  In 1966 the Swedish Public Television network called him with an offer: Would you like to finish your run? The 85- year- old Kanakuri accepted, and he traveled to Stockholm to finish the race he had begun so many years before.  This time he crossed the finish line.  His final time was 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds. His story and Paul’s words remind us that our reward is not found in starting the race, our reward is found in finishing.

So here’s the question: Is there something you have started but have failed to finish?  It’s never too late and you’re never too old to get back in the race. Start running today, the finish line is still there.

Jesus Cares,

Pastor Chris

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