9 Keys To Unity In The Church

Hey Church!!

One thing that is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT to God and that Satan has done AN INCREDIBLE job of destroying is unity within the Church.  Not Connection Church…God’s church…The whole Church…The Body of Christ.  That’s you and me regardless of our denomination, preferences, background, and fine lines of theology. Here’s 9 keys to maintaining unity in the church from 1 Corinthians 1-4:

  1. We need to understand how serious God is about unity and take it seriously ourselves! 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”  In this scripture God’s temple represents the church…His people. It may seem harsh that God will destroy anyone who destroys unity in His church but GOD IS SERIOUS ABOUT UNITY!
  1. Remember church and life are NOT ABOUT YOU!! Church and life are first and foremost about Jesus!  He is life and without Him we have no life.  Second, church and life are about others! PERIOD! If we make it about anything else we are wrong! UNITY AND AGREEMENT ONLY EXIST WHERE SELFISHNESS DOESN’T!! 1 Corinthians 1:10 (See also James 4:1-3)
  1. Realize satisfaction only comes through the riches of Christ! Looking to others for satisfaction (including spouses and children!) places unrealistic expectations on them that they WERE NEVER MEANT TO FULFILL! THEY CAN’T! They weren’t created to satisfy you and you weren’t created to be satisfied by them! Unmet expectations lead to disappointment and disappointment leads to strife! FIND YOUR SATISFACTION IN THE ONE WHO CREATED YOU AND HAS GIVEN YOU ALL THINGS! 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
  1. Don’t forget it was an encounter with God’s grace that saved you…not your own effort!  God did it all.  WE WERE AND ARE NOTHING APART FROM GOD’S GRACE AND HIS WORK!  This should be humbling and we should approach each other in light of this fact and with the humility it brings! 1 Corinthians 1:30
  1. Recognize that we have nothing – no spiritual gift or fruit – that was not given to us by God!  Every Christian has been given spiritual gifts for the advancement of God’s Kingdom (not our own!) and ALL of them are important! Without them the Church doesn’t function properly! What gifting is God calling you to use for His glory! 1 Corinthians 4:7
  1. NEVER FORGET that the messenger is NEVER more important than the message! I have said it before and will say it again…If this is EVER true of Connection we officially SUCK as a church! It is not about A MAN it is about THE MAN…JESUS! Before you follow someone’s gifting you better check the fruit of their life! 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
  1. We MUST watch our MOUTHS by GAURDING OUR HEARTS! Nothing promotes strife like Gossip and Jesus said it is from the overflow of the heart that our mouth speaks.  If we have an issue saying things that we shouldn’t we need to have a heart check! (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:10; James 3:5,6)
  1. Check your motives!  Ask yourself, “If every dream I have came true who would be exalted? Me or Jesus?” 1 Corinthians 4:5
  1. Live with the mind of Christ! If we all strive to serve each other the way Jesus served us there will be no room for strife! (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5-8)

We can’t be all that Jesus created us to be or have the impact He desires us to have on the world if we settle for a FAÇADE OF UNITY in the Church! It’s time we take this as seriously as God!

See you Sunday!

Brandon

Hey Church!!

Hey Church!!

This week I really don’t even know where to begin! It has already been an INCREDIBLE week and it’s only Monday! Here are five things that I am REALLY excited about right now:

  1. SALVATIONS – We had the AWESOME privilege of being a part of another person making a decision to place their faith in Christ on Sunday! If you claim to be a follower of Christ and that doesn’t get your blood pumping you better check your spiritual pulse!! There is truly nothing better than seeing people go from death to life as they trust Jesus for their salvation and surrender to Him as the Lord of their life. Remember…
    • Apart from Jesus people are poor…In Christ we are rich.
    • Apart from Jesus people are broken…In Christ we are made whole.
    • Apart from Jesus people are bound…In Christ we are set free.
    • Apart from Jesus people are in darkness…In Christ we walk in the light.

2. BAPTISMS – If you missed the baptisms Sunday you really ought to cover yourself in honey and sit in a fire ant bed! OK…that may be a little extreme but you really did miss out on a great time! We baptized 10 more people who made professions of faith in Jesus! One of those was my son Jackson who has talked non-stop about wanting to be baptized since the last baptisms in May. It was an awesome experience to baptize him and see the excitement he has had about professing his faith in Jesus in front of our church family!

3. MISSION TRIP – Not only did I get to baptize my middle son but I also get to take my oldest on his first mission trip this week. We will be going to Boone, NC with Kingdom Builders Ministries to do construction work for those in need. Please be in prayer for us (14 of us from Connection) as we go to be the hands and feet of Christ in North Carolina. I’ll be praying for all of you while I’m soaking up some good, cool mountain air!!

4. OUR CONNECTORS – I CAN NOT say enough how blessed I am by those who serve each week as Connectors (People who serve in the church to help connect unbelievers to God and believers to each other). You guys are doing an amazing job. Don’t ever underestimate the impact you are having on the Kingdom. I get so much feedback about how welcome people feel from their car to their seat. You know it’s Jesus when people are smiling while parking cars in the south Georgia July heat! REMEMBER our worship starts when people turn off of HWY 80 or Lester Rd. into the parking lot!

5. THIS SUNDAY – I am absolutely loving this series we are doing on The Vision! We are looking at God’s vision for His Church (The Big C) and Connection. I CAN NOT WAIT for this Sunday as we look at Luke 10:1-20 and talk about what the focal point of every church should be. That should be pretty obvious hence my first point this week…

Point 1 – Duh!

Be praying that God really opens our eyes to who He is and that people experience His life changing power through worship and His Word!

Have an awesome week! Looking forward to Sunday!

Brandon

10 Things I Want Most…

Hey Church!!

Here are the 10 things I want most in life…

  1. For my wife to feel esteemed and loved and to realize that she is a gift of God and gifted as a wife, mother, and minister of the gospel! (Ephesians 5:25-28)
  1. For my children to be secure in themselves through the love and affirmation of God, the love and affirmation of their parents, and the understanding that they are called to a great Kingdom purpose!
  1. For my parents, in-laws, other family and friends to know how much I appreciate all they’ve invested into my life and that their investment would produce a return 100 times greater than what was sown.
  1. For the people of the church I pastor to know how grateful I am to pastor such amazing people and to know that I truly love them and have their best in mind…even when I can’t always be everything they need me to be. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9)
  1. To make a Kingdom impact that is far beyond my ability so that God receives the glory! (John 3:30)
  1. To make the gospel plain for people to see and easy to apply in their lives. (Ephesians 3:7-9)
  1. To see people realize and step into their potential as children of God leaving nothing on the table! (Ephesians 2:10)
  1. To have the same attitude as Christ who, being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. (Philippians 2:5-7)
  1. To live a life that honors God. That my thoughts, motivations, and actions would be pure and pleasing to Him. (Psalm 19:13,14)
  1. To simply be content with the riches of Christ…He is the GREATEST GAIN…His grace is more than enough! (Philippians 4:10-13; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Not listed…FOR JESUS TO BE MY HEART BEAT AND THE BREATH I BREATHE.

He is not a want…He is a Reality
He is not a part…He is the Whole
He is not the fruit…He is its Source
He is not a priority…He is Life

Hey Church!!

Hey Church!!

Here’s a few things that are burning on my heart to share with you today…

First, I am still blown away by the things that God did Sunday morning! We saw three people come to faith in Christ (We literally watched them go from spiritual death to life! AMAZING!) and dozens make a decision to step out from the baggage of the world and say God “Here I am” use me! THAT IS AWESOME!! Remember…faith in Christ is not the end destination it is the beginning of a new life and a new journey!  Our personal encounter with God doesn’t stay personal…It goes public!

I also want to say that I am PUMPED about the baptisms this Sunday!! It never gets old seeing people publicly profess their faith in Christ and it’s always incredible as we celebrate the new life that we have in Jesus. I want to encourage you all to come out and celebrate with us this Sunday…If heaven is throwing a party we should too!! (Luke 15)

Finally, I am already loving our current series The Vision. We are looking at the vision that God has given us, Connection Church, but more importantly the vision that God has for HIS CHURCH! If we can grab hold of the things we talk about in these four messages I truly believe God will use us to CHANGE THE WORLD! Amazing…WE GET TO BE A PART OF LIVES AND ETERNITIES BEING ALTERED!! CHANGED LIVES ARE A POWERFUL PERSUASION FOR CHRIST! Remember…Our purpose in life is advancing the Kingdom and this CAN and WILL happen when we unlock the potential God has placed within us with some key truths…

  1. A personal encounter with JESUS leads to a clear public purpose. (1 Samuel 9:27)
  1. You HAVE BEEN appointed and empowered to advance God’s Kingdom! (1 Samuel 10:1-2)
  1. You have a NEW LIFE that came with a NEW PURPOSE! (1 Samuel 10:8-13)
  1. You ARE who HE says you are…PERIOD!! (1 Samuel 10:14-16)
  1. We’ve got to come out from under the baggage and step into our God given PURPOSE! (1 Samuel 10:17-24)

Grab hold of these truths and let’s change the face of the earth with HIS GLORY! If you missed this message check it out on the website or you can hear it on itunes by searching Connection Church in the itunes store.

Have a great week!!!

Brandon

This Sunday!

Hey Church!!

Three things that are on my heart for this Sunday…

First, I’m PUMPED about this Sunday and being back after 3 weeks of praying and preparation for things that are coming up in the next few months.  I truly believe this Sunday is going to be one of those Sundays that springboards us into the next chapter of the story that God is writing and that we get to be a part of at Connection Church!

Second, if you’ve ever wondered why the Church (Big C) and Connection Church exist you do not need to miss the next 4 weeks! I CAN NOT wait because I LOVE talking about why Jesus established the Church and how Jesus working through us is God’s plan for renewing the face of the earth!

Finally, this Sunday’s message is going to be looking at our potential as followers of Christ and as His Church to advance the Kingdom and change the world! THAT IS WHY WE EXIST!! I am praying (and ask you to join me in praying) that the truths we look at this Sunday will serve as KEYS to UNLOCK all that God has put within us!! God has put more inside of you than others can see on the outside!

CAN’T WAIT!!!  GOD…BLOW OUR MINDS!

KEEP PRAYING…KEEP INVESTING…KEEP ENCOURAGING…KEEP INVITING!!

Love y’all

8 Things to Remember When Sharing Your Faith

Hey Church!!

Today I want to share 8 things that are HUGE when it comes to sharing our faith with others.  These are non-negotiable!! They all come from Acts 8:26-40

  1. Ask God to lead you to opportunity!  Sounds simple enough…why don’t we do it?  If you ask God to put people in your path who need to hear about Jesus He WILL DO IT! Philip was obviously seeking opportunity to share Christ with someone. SO SHOULD WE!
  1. Listen to God! (v.26)  Philip was in-tune with God and listening for His leading. I’m amazed at how many times people tell me they’ve been “asking for direction” (which often means they really know what to do already but are hoping God changes His mind!!) and when I ask them, “have you listened?” I get the deer in the headlights look!  We’ve got to slow down enough to listen to God and be in tune with His leading.  WHEN YOU ASK GOD A QUESTION LISTEN FOR THE ANSWER!
  1. DO WHAT HE SAYS!  Verse 26 tells us that God spoke to Philip and said “GO”! Verse 27 begins with, “So he started out…” (Also look at verse 30 he “ran” to the chariot!) For many of us we already know who we are supposed to be sharing with it’s just a matter of obedience.  For too many opportunity has come and opportunity has gone. The question is “When will we do what God has already said to do?” STEP UP TO THE PLATE!! YOU CAN DO WHAT GOD HAS TOLD YOU TO DO!!
  1. Listen to the person God put in front of you! Verse 30 says Philip “heard the man” meaning that he was actually listening to what the eunuch was saying! Listen to the person in front of you so you can engage them in a context that shows them the gospel is actually relevant to their life! Remember they are not “a project” for you just to ramble through some theological discourse with! They are a person that God loves (if He does we should too!) and Jesus died for!
  1. Actually share the gospel! (v.34, 35) St. Francis of Assisi is quoted all the time for saying “Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words.”  Sounds great! The only problem is that the Bible says faith comes from “hearing the message” (Romans 10:17) (I’ll cover works or deeds in a moment so all of you St. Francis fans just calm down!) If we don’t tell them “the reason for the hope that [we] have” (1 Peter 3:15) they may think we’re great people but thinking we’re something great doesn’t bring them into a relationship with God! Trusting in Jesus as your Lord and Savior does! How will they know if we don’t tell them?
  1. Invest in the person! (v. 35) – From his own preparation Philip was able to invest into this mans life! Philip was prepared to share the gospel but we also know that the way Philip lived his life backed up what he confessed with His mouth! Key word…BALANCE!! (Acts 6:1-7 – He served widows by waiting tables…Acts 8:4-8 – He ministered to the sick and those in spiritual bondage) This is where he showed people his faith by what he did! Don’t confess one thing and do another!!
  1. Journey with them! (v. 36) Philip actually spent time with this guy! He didn’t just run up to the chariot, hand him a “gospel tract” and run off! He stayed with Him on the journey until the eunuch was ready! God was patient with you, be patient with others!
  1. Invite them to a relationship with Christ! (v. 36-40) – This is when the deal got done and the eunuch came to faith and a relationship with the God of the universe! There is no better feeling than this! When someone you’ve spent time with, invested in, and journeyed with comes to know Christ, whether responding to a message at church or over a cup of coffee, you are literally watching someone go from death to life! HOW COULD WE RESIST THIS OPPORTUNITY!!

A little long…but SO IMPORTANT!! KEEP PRAYING…KEEP INVESTING…KEEP ENCOURAGING…KEEP INVITING!!

Love y’all!

Brandon

Hey Church!!

Hey Church!!

Today I want to share something that has really been burning on my heart lately.  It comes out of Acts 6:1-7 and is VITAL to the Church and the advancement of the Kingdom! In these verses the church is growing rapidly and God is really producing amazing fruit through the preaching of His word.  Then it happened…“a complaint” arose!  I know it’s hard to believe anyone would ever complain in church!! But they did. The complaint was that some widows weren’t being taken care of as well as others. (We are going to bypass a LOT of details that go along with this to get to the main point.)

So…now the young church has a decision to make. Do we drop everything to meet the needs of the widows (insiders) or do we continue doing what we’ve been doing by preaching the word of God?

The church today is faced with the same dilemma.  Do we cave to the many voices on the inside while turning a deaf ear to those who are lost on the outside (which is what typically happens) OR do we turn a deaf ear to those on the inside and focus on those who are lost on the outside?  The answer: YES!!!

As a church I believe Jesus left us a two-fold mission.  The first part is to go into the world and make disciples! The second is to take care of those who are in need (This would certainly include those within our on Body of believers).  The breakdown happens when we allow the voices on the inside to drowned out the voices on the outside!  When we do that we cease to be the Church and become a country club seeking to only please our “members” and maintain what we currently have!

The tendency of the church is to turn inward! LISTEN TO ME…THIS IS NOT AN OPTION! WE MUST STAY FOCUSED ON CARRYING CHRIST TO THE WORLD!! IF WE DON’T CONTINUE TO DO THIS WE NEED TO SHUT THE DOORS AND FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO!!  PERIOD!

The early church appointed seven men to take care of the widows and the apostles continued to preach the gospel.  What could have been a hindrance to the church became a catalyst and according to verse 7, “…the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”

Even the Jewish priest were being converted to the faith because the Body of Christ (the Church) was being the Body and the church as a whole remained focused on going and growing disciples not just staying and maintaining!

If people come to know Jesus it will be because God used us to reveal Him! Keep looking outside the walls of the church! It’s not about us…it’s about those who don’t know Christ yet!!

STAY MISSIONAL! INVEST IN SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T KNOW JESUS…INVITE THEM TO A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS…AND ENCOURAGE THEM IN THEIR NEW LIFE AND JOURNEY!!

Love y’all!!

Brandon

10 Things We Must Constantly Pray For (Part 2)

HEY CHURCH!

Today I want to give you the last 5 things that we must CONSTANTLY pray for. Remember, all of these biblical truths come from Acts 3 (Again, READ IT…IT’S GOOD!).

  1. v. 6 – That we’ll have DEEP POCKETS! This is one thing I’ve never been accused of…deep pockets!  Though Peter had no earthly wealth he was RICH in CHRIST! Though Peter couldn’t produce a handout that would last for a moment he was able to offer treasure that would last for eternity! How rich are you? (By the way if you’re reading this, you’re loaded compared to most of the world!) Not in worldly wealth but in things that really matter. If you don’t have eternal treasure, Jesus has plenty to go around…all you have to do is accept what He has already offered!  Bottom line…you are as RICH in CHRIST as you WANT to be! NO EXCUSES!
  1. v. 7 – That we’ll walk in the assurance of God’s FAITHFULNESS! You know Peter had some confidence in God’s faithfulness!! Think about what happens if Peter yanks this guy up by the hand and God doesn’t heal him! Rather than being the guy that God used to heal the lame man he becomes the guy that abused the crippled beggar by the doors to the church!  We need to pray that we will walk in the same assurance of God’s faithfulness knowing that He will do all that He has promised.  Walking in faith is not the absence of doubt or fear it is doing what God has told you to do even when doubt and fear exist!
  1. v. 7-10 (See also Acts 4:1-4) That we’ll see changed lives that lead to changed lives!  If anything gets my blood pumping it is seeing CHANGED LIVES!! These people saw the power of Jesus to change a person’s life! Acts 4:1-4 tells us that many of them eventually came to Christ themselves! A changed life is a powerful persuasion! (Hence why so many of us have P90X DVD’s that we don’t use!!)  Pray that changed lives will roll through this community like dominos!  One changed life impacting the next until every life has been impacted for Jesus!
  1. v. 12 – 26 – That we’ll meet those far from God in a context they’ll understand…not one that we’re comfortable with!  Let me explain…Peter began addressing the people at the temple on grounds they could understand…the Old Testament. They were FAMILIAR with the prophets.  It was a context (or way of presenting the truth) and a connecting point that they understood!  Our presentation of the gospel MUST connect to people in a way that shows them the relevance of the gospel to their lives!  It’s not as complicated as it might sound…look for common ground with the person and share how Jesus has worked in your life in similar situations!
  1.  v. 17 – 26 – That we’ll never change the content (truth) of our message!  While the context can and should change to meet people where they are, the content must remain the same.  The content, or truth, that we must proclaim is the gospel; Jesus was born, lived a perfect life, died for those who aren’t, took our place on the cross, was buried, 3 days later He was raised from the dead by the power of our Heavenly Father, He showed himself to the disciples and many others, He descended to Hell, punched the devil in the mouth, ascended to the right hand of God the Father in order that He could make intercession for those who place their trust in Him and He sent the promised Holy Spirit so that we would be a united and empowered people filling the earth with God’s glory! THAT’S THE GOD I WANT TO SERVE!!

Keep praying…keep investing…keep inviting!! Let God’s Kingdom come and HIS WILL be done on earth as it is in HEAVEN!

YEP!!

Love y’all!

Brandon

Hey Church!

Each Tuesday I want to share some things with you that are on my heart and/or important for you to know about…here’s the first installment…

Four things I want to share with you today…

  1. I’m STILL pumped about all that God did on Sunday! I know of at least one girl who gave her life to Christ and entered the Kingdom of God…We need to CELEBRATE! (Luke 15) My prayer for you and challenge to you is that the celebration doesn’t just happen from 10:45 – 12:00 on Sunday morning, but that it overflows into our families, workplaces, and the rest of our lives! God is not a part of our lives…He IS our life and authentic worship and rejoicing in the life He gives draws people to Him!! (Acts 2:9-11DECLARING THE WONDERS OF GOD)
  1. Don’t miss the Vision Dinner on July 10th after church (Free lunch WOOHOO!) This is an awesome time for our staff because we get to talk about the vision that God has called us to as a church. We get excited about CONNECTING PEOPLE TO GOD AND PEOPLE TO EACH OTHER!! This is the first step in becoming “More than a Member” at Connection. We don’t have members because that typically denotes that you “attend”. We believe God has called us to be CONTRIBUTORS and not just CONSUMERS! WE ACTUALLY HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF CONTRIBUTING TO THE GROWTH OF GOD’S KINGDOM! How could we not want to be a part of that!
  1. I want to ask you to be praying that we would baptize 100 people in the year 2011! It sounds crazy that we would ask God for more baptisms this year than we saw in the first two years…but we serve an Ephesians 3:20 God! Let’s invest (share your heart for God, testimony, invite people to church) in the people around us and invite them into the Kingdom through Jesus! If you have accepted Christ as your savior and haven’t been baptized with water…YOUR NEXT STEP IS ON JULY 17TH! (The next baptisms)
  1. Finally…I LOVE OUR CHURCH…PERIOD!!!!  As I stood at the altar praying for people this past Sunday I was reminded again why we started this church! Connecting people to God and to each other NEVER gets boring!!

Oh yeah…Pray the 5 things from last Thursday’s Blog from Acts 3! (If you haven’t read it yet check it out!) I’ll post 6-10 this Thursday!

I CAN NOT wait until this Sunday! Bring a friend! See you then!

Love y’all!!!

Brandon

10 Things We Must Constantly Pray For (Part 1)

Hey Church! 

Today I want to share 5 of the 10 things I believe WE MUST CONSTANTLY PRAY FOR! All of these come out of Acts 3. Read it…IT’S GOOD!!!

Here we go…We MUST PRAY:

  1. v. 1 – That we’ll always pursue PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS with Jesus…not RELIGIOUS RITUAL! Peter and John were going to the temple to pray, pursue, and obey the living God…not to check off another religious ritual that was empty of God’s presence!    
  1.  v. 2, 3That we’ll recognize our need for Jesus! Apart from Christ we are worse than lame…we are DEAD! The lame man thought his greatest problem was physical…not realizing it was spiritual! No physical satisfaction will EVER satisfy our spiritual hunger! (John 6:35)
  1.  v. 4That we’ll recognize the need for Jesus in others! Peter looked straight at him but he didn’t just see a crippled beggar…He saw a soul that was empty! We MUST PRAY that we recognize the need for Jesus at the core of EVERY person!
  1. v. 5 – That we’ll have boldness and confidence in the message of JESUS! Peter knew that the gospel has the power to raise the dead! Remember Jonah…the guy that got swallowed and regurgitated (Yummy!) by a big fish? He RELUCTANTLY preached an 8 word message and 120,000 Ninevites repented and turned to God! The gospel is powerful…pray for boldness and confidence to proclaim it!
  1. v. 5 – That god will put people with attentive ears in front of us and THAT WE WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITY! The lame man gave his attention to Peter and John even though he was confused about what he would receive.  If we ask, God WILL place people in front of us to share the gospel with. The question we must answer is will we take advantage of the opportunity and not hide behind the lie that “living a good life” is enough! We must always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have. (1 Peter 3:15) 

I will post the last 5 next week. Until then print these out and pray them like CRAZY and without ceasing AND watch God open the doors!

One thing I do want to make sure you see in these 10 Things We Must Constantly Pray For…They are all focused on increasing God’s Kingdomnot increasing our comfort! Let’s get after the devil’s butt and expand the Kingdom of God! Not even the gates of Hell will prevail against HIS CHURCH!

WOOHOO!!!

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