Archives For Ember Church

recovery

It would be wrong for me to say I’m a healthy person. I am overweight, a person who deals with issues like anxiety and lack of self worth, and I really love Cheese and Bread. With that confession out there I have in the last 6 months set out on a journey to work on getting healthier. It has been hard, sometimes easy, rewarding and down right annoying. I discovered, while eating better that I am clearly addicted to sugar and found myself in the “in between times” eating to deal with stress. I’m a stress eater? Where in the world did that come from and how did I never even notice this?

I set out on this journey not because heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer are in my genes, but because every time I ate something acidic I would get major heartburn and a pain in my side. A lame reason I know but sometimes it takes dumb circumstances to get us on the track to working on bigger ones.

What I discovered after a few months of eating a restricted diet is I was no longer having stomach pain from acidic things. It was absurd. I could now eat salsa with no problems.

Another thing began to happen. I started drinking only water, green tea and coffee. My body was constantly being flushed of toxins and being sustained on being “clean”.

And then it happened…

Pain…

I’ve endured pains before. I am used to them being overwieght and not in the greatest shape, but now I was feeling pain in places I never did before. My neck pain is out of control. My back and hip pain seem to come in waves for no reason at all.

A funny thing about Dairy and Cheese. They are foods that cause inflammation. I cut them out and you would think that if I was now ingesting anti-inflammatory foods that it would reduce inflammation and I would feel like 1 million dollars.

Well the truth is the inflammation I had previously was masking the pain in other areas. Basically this “thing”, this lifestyle that for all intensive purposes was killing me, was also numbing all kinds of other issues.

This realization has forced me to work on all kinds of areas that were never part of the “deal” of this diet. Posture, stretching, fitness, strengthening areas that are not in a normal workout to support the years of abuse on my body that the inflammation was hiding.

So now you must be thinking to yourself: “why is the word recovery in the title of this post?” – glad you asked.

Sunday I announced to our church that God had been speaking loud and clear that we are a “recovery church”. That is an odd statement, I know, but let me explain. Recovery is often associated with alcohol or drugs, but I have come to the conclusion that it needs to be associated with recovering things that have been stolen from us. It might be Joy has been stolen because of fear, Peace has been stolen because of abuse, Sobriety has been stolen because of addiction, kindness has been stolen because I am a “me-aholic”… The truth is every one of us as christians are in recovery because the enemy is stealing from us daily and we need to take it back by force!

There is one thing I have learned though about recovery that has now been solidified by my inflammation issue. When you remove the thing that is killing you there is also a discovery that it was making all the other pain numb. Hidden pain that was getting worse and worse and you never even knew. Now that it has been removed you are forced to deal with all the other things that it was hiding in your life.

Just like my health journey, when it comes to recovery this may end up being more painful than it was before… But it’s worth it.

When you remove the things that anesthetize your spirit then the spirit of the Lord can heal you from the inside out. 

It’s in that moment that you can say:
I might be in pain but YOU are my healer
I might be afraid but YOUR love casts out that fear
I might be sad but YOU bring joy everlasting
I might be confused but YOU give me a peace that I can’t understand
I am no longer a slave to the things I did before, but that also means have have so much more work to do… This time with YOUR strength.

When I was thirsty…

October 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

I have, in the last 37 years, had the pleasure of attending, being associated with or speaking/leading in many kinds of churches. I have been in liturgical high churches, charismatic, pentecostal, ones that speak in tongues, ones that don’t, those that have bands and those that think music is wrong, ones that don’t allow food or coffee in the church and those that eat popcorn and serve lattes, ones that center around communion and others that never do it… You name it and I have seen it.

There is something I want to point out though…
The father LOVES ALL THE FLAVORS of His bride. Even if we as Christians decide which flavors are holier than others (which quite frankly is judging on non-essentials), the Father sees us all on level ground and ALL His children.

So what then marks us as “mature” Christians?

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1

Simply this: How you do Sunday means NOTHING if you are not LOVING people recklessly Mon-Sat.
You are a clanging cymbal and God wants His bride to sound like a band that is in tune!

In the end Jesus will say “when I was thirsty did you give me drink… when I was naked did you give me clothes… when i was in trouble did you come to my aid?”

He will NOT say “when you DID church did you….”

Don’t just go to church… try something radical and BE THE CHURCH!

stripper

How to Pick Up a Stripper and Other Acts of Kindness: Serving People Just as They Are
By Todd Stevens and Erin Stevens

I was looking through the available books to review and came across the genius marketing title of this book. I know about strip church and organizations like “hookers for jesus” so I decided to dig in a bit more. It was then that the covers’ small print came into view. “and Other Acts of Kindness: Serving People Just as They Are”.

It was that line that compelled me to grab this book and quite frankly I was not prepared for the roller coaster it had me on. As a PK I have been doing ministry my whole life. The last 18 years have been spent doing ministry alongside my wife. Not even a year ago I co-founded Ember Church and have spent many hours praying with my co-pastors about the unique vision God has given our church. We have done a few “outreach/missional” events that were just for the sake of loving our community and were floored at the difference in response compared to a “need based” event. We knew we were onto something about what God wanted us to do. It was just difficult to really flesh out what this all meant.

I started reading this book and God just hit me. This is it! These guys figured it out. It is so simple, but such a challenging and lofty God sized vision. Friendship Community Church calls it “servant evangelism”. It doesn’t sound revolutionary and honestly it is more ancient than it is modern. It is Jesus’ way. It is all about love.

Here is why I love this book. It doesn’t just give the biblical way of loving and serving. We preach that every week. They went practical too. The Steven’s lay out what worked, what didn’t, success and failure in a way that truly challenged my view of outreach. They lay out one section on intentionally loving your enemy and going a step further than praying for them.

I am still wrapping my head around this book because I think I have stumbled onto the voice of God in regards to a mindset we want to cultivate in our church. Love others and be ready at all times. It is much more than that and I know that sounds like just a simple and basic statement, but it’s often the simple things that we forget. It is the simple things that we stop because we have been paralyzed with apathy and self.

This book took me to a place I haven’t been to in a long time. I ordered 4 more copies for our staff and I am looking forward to reviewing and praying through the implications of their journey on our church.

This is a 5 star book and a must read for any church leader.

——–

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this BOOK free from booklook bloggers to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life in a Lazy boy

July 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

lazyboy

Imagine you have a lazy boy chair at home with an awesome cup holder and the push out foot rest. The chair is worn in nicely and even contours perfectly to your butt. You are so content with your coke in hand as you watch your Tv. Nothing is getting you out of that chair. God says “it’s time to go out and tell somebody about jesus” but you have become complacent and immovable in your contentment. 

CONTENTMENT Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.  – however this can breed complacency and apathy. 
Our imbalanced contentment becomes a justification for not being concerned about the lost.
Are you that person?

Maybe you are sitting in that chair and it is a nice chair, but you just can’t ever get comfortable. God hears your grumbling and instead of bringing judgement on you He gives mercy and grace. God supplies you with a brand new leather chair with a built in iPad! You sit in it and love it for about a week. You begin to complain and grumble again.

“There is no cup holder in this one and I want the old one back!”

God says, “tell somebody about Jesus” but you can’t hear him because you are too busy not recognizing that you are where God wants you and you would rather complain. Are you that person?

DISCONTENTMENT: Unhappy with everything – breeds contention and grumbling.
Our imbalanced discontentment isolates us from God’s Goodness and mercy. Instead of wanting more of the BREAD OF LIFE we want more of food that does not satisfy.
Are you that person?

When someone in the Scriptures submitted their life to Christ…it was complete and total surrender and not “submission based on convenience.” It is a selfless walk.
We are told to find our life and live it to the fullest we must lose our life first. (Matthew 10:30)

So if both Contentment & Discontentment can lead to things not of God, how should we operate?

Apostle Paul said: “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11)

Another option…A HOLY DISCONTENT – You have learned to be content in whatever circumstances, but You are also ready and waiting as you shadow God closely. While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you. Complacency and grumbling pull you away from the character of God’s grace.

There you are in that lazy boy. It’s nice and it has the butt contour. It has a few tears in it, the cup holder has lost it’s form and can no longer hold your coke can. You are enjoying the comfort of what God has given you and not complaining about a few springs poking through. You are sitting at the edge relaxed, but ready to leap if God calls you. You can hear His voice and you are not stuck.

“The man, who is deeply discontented with himself, is probably growing fast into the full likeness of Christ.” – Spurgeon 

THRILL your hearts with the CLOSENESS of the love of God. 

EmberGF

Good Friday 2014: We spent a ton of time in prayer, as a church leadership, about our first Good friday service. Our hope was to make an invisible God visible to our congregation in a new way. We wanted it be a clear and a stark contrast to Sunday morning and the resurrection. Easter means so much more when you have to walk the road of the cross with Jesus. We ended up writing a script based on our own spin of the stations of the cross based on the Word. What we were left with was mind blowing and heart wrenching.

Here is our script. All the text copyright 2014 Ember Church (Mark Carpender, Adam Fagan-Kela, Joel Klampert, Ed Pichette II), but we want to make this available to any church that wants to use or any part of it for their services. We hope this blesses your congregation and stirs hearts towards Jesus!

Here is the audio from our service. By the end of the night there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
The Script is below and has songs we used as well.

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