God Is ... Love w/ Craig Groeschel

Craig Groeschel, of LifeChurch.tv in Edmund OK, launches our One Prayer campaign with the question "Why would God love ME?"  Like John Wesley, he knew that God loved the world and he knew how to point at others and say "God loves you."  But Craig, like many of us, found it hard to comprehend that "God loves me."

Two questions prompt his thoughts:
  • Why would God love someone as BAD as me? Job reflects upon his encounter with God and says "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). Paul said to the church in Corinth "for I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Corinthians 15:9).
  • Why would God love someone as INSIGNIFICANT as me (among six billion people on planet earth)? Moses said to God when he was being called to liberate the children of Israel “who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11). David said to God as he led worship with his people "but who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you" (1 Chronicles 29:14).
God does not just love you - there is more to God than that.  God is more that what God does, God is LOVE.  "Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:8-10).  We are not reflecting on God's action, we are paying attention to who God is ... God is LOVE! That changes everything!
  • God's love COVERS your sins. "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). When Adam and Eve rebelled in the garden, God covered them with the skin of an innocent animal (see Genesis 3:21). When a son rebelled against his father and squandered his fortune, the father welcomed him home and covered him with a new robe (see Luke 15:22). Paul said to Titus "when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy" (Titus 3:4-5).
  • God's love makes you SIGNIFICANT. "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you" (Jeremiah 31:3).  See Luke 15 for the stories of the widow looking for a lost coin, a father with two sons, and a shepherd with 100 sheep left 99 to find the one lost sheep.
So this is Craig and my prayer for you this day: "for God so loved (insert your name) that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16). Amen.

I will post a link to the online version of the sermon at a later date.  It's worth the watch!  Craig is a great storyteller and offers the gospel in a fresh way. Meanwhile check out his books below:

INTERPRETER magazine for May/June of 2009

The Interpreter magazine for May/June of 2009 asks the questions "What if we ... Rethink Church?"  I am sure that it will only be a matter of time before our communication team's marketing strategy, i.e. ReThink Church, becomes our theology for some.  Having said that, the question is on target, late in coming for too many churches, but right on target.  Consider the following articles:

CIRCUIT RIDER magazine for May/June/July of 2009

The recent issue of Circuit Rider is focused on the difficult topic of MONEY.  You may want to check out the following articles:

ONE PRAYER Campaign for 2009

This year at Queen Street Church, the early service will feature preachers from several churches as we seek to be in union with churches around the world.  Last year LifeChurch.tv invited other pastors and churches from around the world to share in Jesus' ONE PRAYER for the church, to share in hearing God's word, and enter into service to a broken world.  This year's One Prayer messages emerge from each preacher's desire to convey a single truth emerging from the phrase "God Is ... ."  
  • "God Is ... Love" from Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv in Edmund, OK.
  • "God Is ...  Here and Anything Can Happen" from Dino Rizzo of Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, LA.
  • "God Is ...  in Control" from Greg Surratt of Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, SC.
  • "God Is ...  Incomparable" from Mark Batterson of National Community Church in Washington, DC.
  • "God Is ...  Strength" from Francis Chan of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA.  
  • "God Is ...  Waiting on You" from Mark Beeson of Granger Community Church in South Bend, IN.
  • "God Is ...  " from Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.
Last year's theme was built on each pastor's simple prayer for the church "Make Us ... ."  You may want to check out last year's messages from several of the the preachers we will be hearing.
I am praying that you will enjoy the coming month as we ponder the mystery of our God.

Books for Your Reading Consideration

In a season of economic uncertainty, you may want to consider these books for your personal and small group study:
  • During difficult economic times, it's tough not to focus on getting by with less and waiting for the next bit of bad news. But, as Christians, how do we to respond to what's happening on Wall Street? In Upside Living in a Downside Economy, Mike Slaughter, pastor of Ginghamsburg Church, offers insight into seeking God's perspective in our daily money concerns. With clarity and a servant's heart, Slaughter addresses vital topics such as money and marriage, financial and spiritual investments, personal motivation and God's will, and determining priorities. (There is also a four-session DVD and Leader's Guide for Upside Living in a Downside Economy that can assist participants in strengthening their spiritual connection while making economic corrections and, most importantly, responding according to God's plan).
  • Enough is an invitation by Adam Hamilton, pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, to rediscover the Bible’s wisdom when it comes to prudent financial practices. In these pages are found the keys to experiencing contentment, overcoming fear, and discovering joy through simplicity and generosity. This book could change your life, by changing your relationship with money. (Also available is a five session video study with leader guide. Adam Hamilton presents such topics as Introduction: Faith in the Midst of Financial Crisis, When Dreams Become Nightmares, Wisdom and Finance, Cultivating Contentment, Defined By Generosity plus a Bonus video: To Be A Blessing).
  • Finally, Bishop Robert Schnase, offers us a devotion titled The Balancing Act. Our lives are filled to capacity with routines, habits, conversations, surprises, and disappointments. With all that's going on in life, it's easy to miss those quiet moments of grace which come more often than we realize. But they are there. A collection of thirty short and insightful devotional readings originally written for his blog, Bishop Robert Schnase invites readers to take a daily look at how to watch for and include God in their lives. The Balancing Act is written to inspire prayer, conversation, questions, and change. Feel free to use it as a personal daily devotional or in small groups.
Click the links below to purchase these books at Amazon:

Pastor's Column in the May Newsletter

Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Greetings in the Name of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I am spending times these days wondering and praying and dreaming and pondering about our life together. I celebrated with God our hospitality as we welcomed the Association of Congregations for Holy Week worship here – I am ready to do that again tomorrow! I marveled at Jacob Mewborn’s creativity as he led his time in preparing worship celebrations for us throughout Lent and Easter. I prayed for Sammy Hudson as he has led us in worship for the past 2 years and now prepares for a full summer of ministry at The Refuge. I keep being surprised by Bridges Baker and our kids … we had 11 children in the nursery the Sunday after Easter! I prayed for the communion of saints as their number was increased by the addition of our brother David Callaway and sister Louise Burkett. I prayed for the continued ministry of our Congregational Care team after we dedicated them for ministry among us last month. I dreamed of our kids at Southeast Elementary School becoming the best of who God intends them to be and live according to God’s purposes for their lives. And I wondered … and I prayed … and I dreamt … and I pondered …

Father God, what are you up to on Queen Street? I am convinced that we are the people to lead this community into God’s preferred future. I am clear that God’s vision for us is to seek the welfare of the city where we live and trust that God will provide for our welfare as part of that broader prosperity. I am committed to seeing that the next steps are taken to lead God’s people forward, even if it is a land filled with giants as well as milk and honey. Yet I come back to that question, “Father God, what are you up to on Queen Street?”

This summer we will need to spend some time reorganizing our lives. When we move back into in our renovated spaces we will need to spend several days together moving equipment from one space to another. We have things scattered about the church that need to be reorganized and stored in new spaces. We have spaces that were formerly children’s spaces that now need to be repainted as adult and/or dual use spaces. For me all of this is a sign that God is also inviting us this summer to relook, rethink, reevaluate, reorganize, and retool ourselves for ministry together on Queen Street. So I come back to the question, “Father God, what are you up to on Queen Street?”

So I ask you to join with me in praying, “Father God, what are you up to on Queen Street?” I know that God is at work on Queen Street and in the midst of the servants I have come to hold so dear in our life together. Our leadership team is working on ways for us to spend this summer in wondering, praying, dreaming and pondering together as we seek to answer this question. My hope for you is that you will join us in this prayerful work and find your place for ministry among the saints and sinners who worship together on Queen Street.

Grace and Peace, Allen