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Go ye therefore 1/2 mile down the road from the church.  I got to share the Gospel today with a man who lives very close to our church.  Contrary to popular belief. . . not everyone in the rural south is saved.

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I have been reminded in the past couple of weeks that God’s people have a high calling and that we must follow Him on His terms.   For example:  Carrying out the Great Commission while we compromise our integrity and character is not God’s agenda for us.   The highest and purest goals can be soiled through low living.   Doing the right thing the wrong way brings reproach on the process and the product.

Many of you have requested the video we produced for Sue Call’s celebration service.  So here you go:

Why did you skip church?  You probably had a perfectly well thought out excuse. . . right?  Here are a few reasons your presence at Church is required.  

Your presence in worship is a HUGE encouragement to your pastor who has worked hard to communicate God’s Word effectively.

Your presence in worship is an encouragement to your fellow believers who need to see others on the same journey. (Heb 10:25)

Your presence in worship is necessary for your own edification as your heart, soul, and mind are encouraged by the preaching of God’s Word. 

Your presence in worship communicates your priorities to a watching world. 

Most importantly. . .  your presence pleases God.  (Heb 10:25)

This is Cottage Grove’s redneck missionary to Puerto Rico.  I thank God for him!

43 kids.  2000 eggs.  100 future cavities.  Last week our church invited our community (a function of ACROSS TN) to our Easter egg hunt and to our Easter worship service.  result: 4 new families came today with their children to hunt eggs and hear the REAL Easter story. 

1.  The way my iPod seems to suddenly weigh 5lbs as it dangles from my clothing.

2.  The way my ear buds never seem to stay in the appropriate position while running.   I might as well just poke them into my nostrils.

3.  That wheezing noise I make when I get about 1   1/2 miles into the run. 

4.  People who pass me in their cars and smile at my pain.

5.  People who pass me in the car who not only smile while they pass, but also feel it necessary to wave. . . . and expect me to have the energy to wave back.

6.  The fact that I constantly have to fight the urge to walk. 

7.  That pain in my side that always develops and persists even though “experienced” runners (who are all liars) keep telling me, “Ahhhh just run through it.  It will go away”.  

8.  Hills.  Why can’t it all just be slightly downhill? 

9.  People who want me to stop and talk after I have spent considerable time convincing myself to keep running.

10.  Other runners who actually look “happy” while they glide along efortlessly up steep hills at a pace I will never attain. 

Yes, there are some things about the run that I do not enjoy, but I love the benefit of running.  My health has improved significantly since running.  I have set goals and reached them.   My diet has improved b/c I want to have the energy needed to atain my goals.  The greatest lesson from running though is endurance.   Long suffering is listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as one of the Fruits of the Spirit.  Endurance (patience) is a quality that must be cultivated in my life.  It doesn’t come naturally.  Running through the pain doesn’t come naturally.  While your instincts tell you to stop and rest, your drive to win the race tells you to keep running.  I have found that my spiritual life is very much the same.  We must keep running the race set before us.  The benefit of endurance is awesome.  The finish line, although not visible yet, will be worth the run.

Growing a church sometimes feels like hauling water uphill using a leaky bucket.  You know people need Jesus.  You know they need to connect to a church somewhere.  You know that Jesus would make a HUGE difference in their lives.  They seem interested but never come to church.  So what do you do? 

You visit with people in their homes and write them nice cards and they just won’t darken the door of the church.  You connect with people on Facebook, Twitter, email, snail mail, telephone, telegraph, morse code, and with smoke signals and they still don’t come.  You even trained your fat fingers to manipulate those freakishly small keys on your cell phone so that you can connect through texting.  Your church spends money on outreach events so that connections can be made with the community and they do not come.  Sunday morning rolls around and you find yourself hoping and praying that young couple you talked to at Wal-Mart, who promised they would come, walks through the door. . . . and they don’t.  FRUSTRATING scenario that plays itself out Sunday after Sunday.  

Then one glorious Sunday that contact you made during the week strolls through the door, shakes your hand, and has no trouble finding a seat b/c many of your church members decided to go to the lake, take in a ball game,  sleep in, plant a crop, take a trip, get a pedicure, stubbed their pinky toe (making it very hard to sit in a pew), or pick their belly button lint.  Whatever the excuse it is EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING!  So, what do you do?  

Sometimes growing a church feels like hauling water uphill in a leaky bucket.    

Do you quit?  Do you stop connecting?  Do you become cynical of God’s ability to save and the church’s ability to disciple? Do you just ignore Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28 because the water keeps pouring out of you leaky bucket?  You know you can’t quit.  The work is hard but the pay off is awesome so you persist.  

My advice is simple.  Keep hauling the water, keep trudging up the hill, and plug those pesky holes in your bucket.

Read this by Thom Rainer. .  .  HERE.