Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas From the Edwards' Family

Merry Christmas To All!

A New Blogger in the Family

Now my third daughter, Kristi, is blogging. You can read it at  http://journeyofrediscoveringlove.tumblr.com.

Now that Kristi and Stephanie are blogging, I am a little intimidated. They both put their thoughts in writing so well; I'm not sure I can keep up.

Anyway... I am very proud of both of them.

Yes, I am most happy to be called a Son by God, but I am also thrilled to be called "Dad" by four beautiful young ladies.

He calls me "Son."

I am reading in Galatians, which says, “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
(4:4–7 NIV)

I can't help but think how wonderful it is to be called "Son."

My mom calls me Son. There is no doubt in that relationship. I don't have to guess where I stand in her eyes. My uncles would on occasion call me Son, and although I knew I wasn't really their son, I somehow felt received, valued and wanted.

God calls me Son.

I am not on the outside looking in wishing to have a place. I am on the inside, enjoying the privileges of sonship.

"Son" - I like it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What's in a Name? Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace


Isaiah 9:6–7 (NLT-SE)
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
 
Saturday, I watched the Republican debates. I have to tell you, the situation in the current political landscape looks dismal. You listen to conservative media and you would think that Obama is the Anti-Christ. You listen to liberal media and you think that conservatives are uncaring extreme capitalist. Each party works hard to demonize the other.
When you watch the debates, it’s amazing to me how each candidate presents himself/herself as the perfect candidate, able to answer any question that is thrown at them. We are creating an expectation that no one person can live up to.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Haiti and Convoy of Hope

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Haiti to see the work of Convoy of Hope, a compassion organization with a driving passion to feed the world.

On January 12, 2010, "the worst earthquake in 200 years - 7.0 in magnitude - struck less than ten miles from the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The initial quake was later followed by twelve aftershocks greater than magnitude 5.0. Structures of all kinds were damaged or collapsed, from shantytown homes to national landmarks" (Earthquake in Haiti). 250,000 people died without warning. Tens of thousands were buried in mass graves without identification.  The numbers are staggering and hard to comprehend. Nineteen months later, the cleanup is still going on. With Haiti being the poorest country in our hemisphere, the need for food, water and shelter is overwhelming. 

Convoy of Hope is one of many Christian based organizations that responded quickly and continually. In God's providence, before the earthquake, Convoy had obtained a warehouse, stocked it full of food and was able to respond immediately to the catastrophe. Hundreds of thousands of people received help and care. 

We distribute food through Christian schools, churches and orphanages around the world.

And Convoy is still there disturbing food and providing clean water to over 55,000 people each day through Christian schools, churches and orphanages. While there, I got to meet and play with some of the children who are being cared for. Their hearts are filled with gratitude and love.  

Haiti is only one of the many countries that Convoy is in. As of today, they are feeding 131,000 people a day around the world, along with many other compassion projects they are involved in.

Centerpointe Church is proud to be one of the financial supporters of Convoy. Whether it is a response to a natural disaster, or giving to One Day to Feed the World, we know that our giving is used to help others in need. 

You can find pictures of my experience at Missions Trip to Haiti 2011

Jesus said, “And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded” (Matthew 10:42 NLT-SE). No wonder Convoy is experiencing the favor of God and many open doors. They are offering many, many cups of water in the name of Jesus.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Peace I Can Live With - The Journey Begins


Over the past three weeks the theme of the sermons at Centerpointe have revolved around peace: “Peace I Can Live With.” You can listen to the messages at www.centerpointechurch.com.

The messages are based out of the passage found in Philippians 4:4-9 with an emphasis on the words, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”

These are not just messages studied, but also lived. I’ve been thinking about this passage for over ten years now, ever since my daughter, Stephanie who was ten at the time, was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It was a dark year for us, but God brought us through and eventually healed her.

Over the years my wife, Esther, and I have watched many walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.” One church I had the privilege of pastoring for eight years sat next door to a hospital, and every day I was reminded that there are people in pain, looking for peace.

I have also watched people try to console those going through pain as though they knew the issue would be resolved by tomorrow. I stood next to many coffins and heard many comments about how things were going to be fine: well-meaning thoughts but careless words.

God’s Word tells us that peace is possible, even in the toughest moments. This I know to be true.

Everyone goes through storms and each storm is significant for the person going through it. There are relationship storms, financial storms, health storms, occupational storms, etc. Sometimes the storms are momentary and sometimes they last for a very long time.

Over the last decade I have discovered that peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God while we are going through our trouble.

I have also learned that peace is not the same as ecstasy, or temporary experiences that make us feel good for the moment, but an inner stability and assurance that reminds us that God is in control.

More than these lessons, I have learned that real peace only comes when we get to know the Prince of Peace – Jesus. He is the one who has complete authority over the peace we can experience.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal" (NIV).

So I am now putting in writing my thoughts, studies, conversations, experiences and messages about this subject. My prayer is that it makes a difference.

Stay Tuned.

Friday, August 05, 2011

One Day My Name Will Scroll


As I sit in silence watching the names of ministers who went home to be with our Lord over the last two years, I am filled with gratitude and respect. I am thankful for all who have gone before me. Their lives have blazed pathways for the Gospel to be shared. I know only a few by name, but I connect with their calling and I am moved by their commitment.

One day my name will scroll with many others.
It will be listed under the heading of the Potomac District, God willing.
It will not be in bold, or highlighted, as if to say, “he achieved more;” neither will there be an asterisk beside it as if to say, “he cheated.”
It will be listed equally among the faithful – fellow pastors, missionaries, teachers and friends.

As the music plays and the names appear, most of those who are viewing won’t even notice or recognize my name amongst so many. They are watching for another.
But I pray there will be some who say, “That man was a Godly man, a faithful man, one that loved God and cared for people.” I pray there will be others who say, “He made a difference in my life,” or “he introduced me to Jesus,” or “he stood with me.”

Most of all, I pray they will say, “When I saw him, I saw Jesus.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

 
Happy Birthday Mom! I love you. I am proud to be your son. You have taught me many things like:
1. How to treat my wife with love and respect
2. How to pray in the morning for my kids
3. How to let others know they are valued
4. How to pray and give to missionaries
5. How to love the Body of Christ no matter what
6. How to keep a smile through adversity
7. How to relax and depend on God
8. How to read and apply the Word of God to my life - "Godliness with contentment is great gain."
9. How to look beyond today and look toward a great future.
10. What unconditional love looks like.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I Want To Be a Part of Somebody Else's Story

This is my prayer for Centerpointe Church, 
Fairfax and Northern Virginia:

Monday, July 18, 2011

There's an App for That!

Sunday I preached a message titled, "There's an App for That!" There are now over 450,000 apps for smart phone users, but here are some apps that have yet to be developed: 
  1. When someone cuts you off in traffic or cuts in front of you at the grocery store - you press an app and they go back 10 spaces.
  2. When you are taking a final exam - you press an app and you remember everything you study. Better yet, it takes the exam for you.
  3. When you are about to say the wrong thing to your wife - the app stops you in mid-sentence and changes the words. For example, your wife asks you how the meal was and you are about to say, "It's ok I guess." The app stops you and speaks for you saying, "Wow, I'm so glad we stayed home to eat, I could not have imagined a better meal today, and here, let me clean up for you."
  4. When you are bored of the person you are talking to, or they are annoying you - you press the app and the person disappears and someone else reappears.
  5. When you have too much to do and you want to go fishing - you press the app and it clones you.
  6. When you are feeling tired and lazy - there is an exercise app. It does the exercises for you while you eat ice cream.
What app would you like to have invented?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We're Still Havin' Fun.

Twenty-three years ago, Esther and I made a covenant to each other before God and a lot of friends. We promised to stay together "for better or worse, till death do us part."

It's been a great journey together. We are currently on our eighth move and have four beautiful daughters that each love God and are serving Him. As I am writing, Brittany and Kristi are both in Costa Rica on a missions trip.

We have experienced wonderful seasons of ministry and have made tremendous friends along the way. We have seen God work in us and through us. We can't imagine doing anything else other than pastoring. Yes, we are truly blessed.

Although we have had a great history, we truly believe that the best is yet to come. We are new pastors at a growing church in Fairfax, Virginia: Centerpointe Church at Fair Oaks, and serving with a great leadership team.

To all of our friends, we say thank you for your investment in our lives. You mean more to us than you can imagine. Our lives are rich and full.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thoughts From Sunday

Farsi Fire Bible
At home, I have over 15 Bibles. In my office I have another 15, many of which are study Bibles that have notes, commentaries, application and concordances. I have several more study Bibles on my Ipad, Iphone and computer.

In America, we are so blessed to have so many versions of the Bible and have access to commentaries and study notes. However, there are pastors and Christians around the world which do not have that same privilege. Because of persecution or poverty, they simply do not have access to God’s Word, let alone the study notes to help them understand.

Fire Bible is the name for the international language editions of the Full Life Study Bible, one of the few Pentecostal study Bibles in existence. It contains 77 theme articles, a concordance, 45 maps and charts, introductions to each book of the Bible, and Pentecostal study notes.

This study Bible has been translated into several languages and is now being translated into Farsi, the language of Iran and many parts of Afghanistan, where the persecution of Christians and pastors remain intense. By providing Fire Bibles to these pastors and Christians, we are saying to them that they are not abandoned nor forgotten. For more on the Fire Bible and its impact, go to www.biblealliance.org.

Our goal as a church is to raise at least $5,000 for the Farsi Fire Bible.

Here is a thought: count how many Bibles you have in your home and then ask the Lord and decide how much you could give to translate the Word into the Farsi language. Perhaps you could give $10 for every Bible you have. Some can give more and some can only afford less, but all of us can do something.

Over the next two weeks, we will receive a special offering for Fire Bible. If you would like, you can go to our web site and give today. Just go to http://centerpointechurch.com/v2/giving.

Creating Space
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalms 91:1 NLT-SE)

In our fast paced world, time is precious. It is difficult to find time to do everything we need to do just to survive. Finding time for God is often dropped down on the priority list when we get busy. However, creating space for God is the only way to live in this world with a sense of peace. 

Here are a few thoughts from Sunday:

  1. When I create space, I give God the opportunity to reveal himself to me. To spend time with God is to respond to His invitation. We must not come into a devotional time saying, “Watch me today, Lord, and tell me what you think.” No, it is a time for God to say, “Come along and watch me work today.” We need to know who He is. 
  2. When I create space, I give God the opportunity to restore and recalibrate my life. I give God the opportunity to examine my life; it is allowing God to search the depths of our heart - letting God search inside to discover why we are acting the way we are. Psalms 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (NLT) 
  3. When I create space, I give God the opportunity to recharge and redirect my life. It is God gives me strength to move forward and He reminds me of His promises. Promises of hope, peace, strength, assurance, etc.  Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” (NLT)


Here is what I need in order to spend quality time with God:
I need uninterrupted time.
I need a Place
I need my Bible
I need a humble and open heart
I want my journal.  

I trust the message encouraged you to create space for God to speak to you. Solitude, Prayer, and the Word of God will keep us from falling apart in a fallen world.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

I am grateful:

On Monday we celebrated our independence as an American nation. I spent the evening watching fireworks at Fort Meade. They were incredible.

In a time which Christians have a tendency to complain about our country, we should not forget to be grateful for what we do have. I have traveled to over 14 countries now and every time the plane lands in America, I am thankful to be home.

Here are a couple of things I am grateful for as one who is privileged to live in the United States:

  1. I am grateful that we have the ability to speak freely. I may not agree with what you say, but I believe you have the right to say it. Throughout the years, it is this privilege that has brought correction and justice. Words do matter.
  2. I am grateful that we can go to the voting poles and vote for our leaders.
  3. I am grateful that over the years, we have responded to compassion and justice. It takes years, but at least we take steps to care for each other equally.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to gather and worship in the church of my choice.
  5. I am grateful that I have the freedom to tell people about Jesus
  6. I am grateful for the freedom to pursue my dreams.
  7. I am very, very grateful for the ability to read, copy, and distribute the Word of God. This is not so in many countries today. For some, there is no access because of poverty. For some, there is no permission because of persecution.

Privilege comes great responsibility.

May we never forget. Repeat again and again the stories of freedom.

May we always examine our lives. Work toward love and justice.

May we pray extraordinary prayers for our leaders and country.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Honoring Dad

Exodus 20:12 tells us, “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (NASB). Sunday we had a wonderful time doing just that, celebrating and honoring dads.

Here are the points of the message:

1. We celebrate dads who made the decision to give up what they cannot keep, to gain what they cannot loose.

2. We celebrate dads who, in spite of all odds, maintain a consistent relationship with God and their family.

3. We celebrate dads who enjoy the journey while keeping their eyes fixed on the finish line.


Fathers play seven key roles in family life. They are:

1. The role of priest (Job 1:1-5)

2. The role of prophet (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6; James 1:11)

3. The role of protector

4. The role of provider (2 Thessalonians 3:10; Proverbs 14:23; 18:9; 24:27)

5. The role of lover

6. The role of comedian

7. The role of visionary

For every dad that has stayed up late, or changed the oil, or repaired the nail hole, or fixed a flat tire, or tucked your child into bed, or listened to your child’s repeated stories, or laughed at the same jokes you told as a kid, or played football in the back yard, or had tea with your daughter, or etc. etc. etc.

We honor you for being an exceptional dad.

To the fathers that help children dream and believe; to dads that guide, delight in, nurture, support, protect, mentor, cherish, listen, teach, encourage, instruct, comfort, bless their children and grandchildren, love and honor…

To fathers past and present we say, “Thank you!” 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Proverbs 3:9-10

Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine. (Proverbs 3:9–10, NLT)

Proverbs 3 is a chapter filled with promises of provision and hope, but it is also a chapter filled with conditions. "If you do..., you will receive..." Verses 9 and 10 focus our attention directly on our finances.

The following letter was found in a baking-powder can wired to the handle of an old pump that offered the only hope of drinking water on a very long and seldom-used trail across Nevada's Amargosa Desert:

"This pump is all right as of June, 1932. I put a new sucker washer into it and it ought to last five years. But the washer dries out and the pump has got to be primed. Under the white rock I buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and cork end up. There's enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one-fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You'll git water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you git watered up, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next feller."

(signed) Desert Pete.

P.S. Don't go drinking the water first. Prime the pump with it and you'll git all you can hold
(Keith Miller and Bruce Larson, The Edge of Adventure)

The NASB translates these verses as, "Honor the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty."

For Israel, honoring the LORD with the first fruits of all one's crops was a way of expressing gratitude to Him for His provisions. Today, we honor God by giving the first fruits (10%) of our paycheck to God. It is a statement about our priorities as well, which are always reflected in our checkbook. Tithing is a constant reminder of who's in charge and who is watching over us. It is a practical way of stating that God is first in my life and I completely trust him in all things.

Many people don't want to let go of what is in their hand because they are afraid that God won't let go of what is in his. However, he has always been trustworthy and continues to out give us every time.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Vision of Compassion


Generosity: An intentional benevolent act that serves to benefit others and reflects the Great God we serve.

The way we relate to others is a big deal for God. He takes it seriously how we are to respond to others. He is especially concerned about how we take care of those less fortunate than we are. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that talk about how we relate to the poor. We have a responsibility to stand up for them, serve them, care for them, feed and shelter them, educate them, minister to them and make them part of us.

Leviticus 23:22, says, “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the LORD your God. (NLT)

It was some four to six years ago when Third Day band member Tai Anderson asked Max Lucado a challenging question: "When your great grandchildren learn that you lived in a day in which a billion people were hungry and 27,000 people die every day of preventable diseases, how would they gauge your response?" Lucado is convinced that compassion is the church’s best apologetic. Here is a link to a message he spoke  at the Make A Difference Tour, October 2010: Lucado on compassion

We cannot live like Jesus lived without being compassionate.

Sunday, I shared several stories. One was about Scott Harrison, founder of Charity Water. Almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean drinking water. Unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all disease and kill more people than all forms of violence, including war. Scott decided to do something about it. Here is a link to his inspiring story: Charity Water

I also mentioned several other stories about a few people who decided to take simple acts of obedience that changed the lives of so many. Here is a list with their websites:

We may not be able to do everything, but we can all do something. One practical thing Centerpointe Church is involved in is Angel Food. Every month people place orders and come to the church to pick up their order. Furthermore, people donate food to struggling families and share with them the love of Christ in a practical way. It’s easy to do, and it makes a big difference. To submit an order for yourself and/or to donate a box of food to others, you can go to: http://www.angelfoodministries.com

On Wednesday, we are going to continue our conversation about compassion and look deeper into what scripture says about it.

Happy 100th Birthday Brazilian Assemblies of God


Sunday, Centerpointe Church celebrated with the Brazilian congregation that meets at 5:00 on Sundays the 100th anniversary of the Assemblies of God in Brazil. The service was filled with excited singing and dancing. They were truly grateful for the move of God in their country. This congregation has been meeting for three years now and is led by Pastors Erivan and Vania Marques. 

It was quite the party - and the food we had after the service was amazing.

I am in awe of what has been accomplished over the past century in Brazil. Because of a few people, filled with the Spirit of God, being obedient to the call of God, took the Good News of Jesus to Brazil, today nearly 27.3 million people now attend more than 198,000 Assembly of God churches in the region.

I am sure that missionaries like Alice Luce, Ralph Williams and Melvin Hodges had no idea of the impact their obedience would make over the years; they were simply following God’s leading. For more on this story, go to aginbrazil.

Simple acts of obedience can change the world. Like these missionaries, we must also be obedient. Who knows what God will do through us? 

Take a risk.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From Gratitude to Generosity


Generosity is not just about making people think we are good, nice and kind, it is about helping people see that God is good, compassionate and responsive to their cries.

Here are three thoughts from Sunday's message:


1. Generosity begins with a grateful heart. Take a moment and remind yourself of how others have been generous toward you. When is the last time you expressed thanks for such gifts? I am not a self-made man and we are not a self-made church. We each have been blessed by the tremendous generosity of others. If I am driving the Chevy S10 pickup truck of generosity, God is driving a Kenworth 18 wheeler.


2. Generosity is a statement of faith and trust. You never grow out of living by faith. As you continue to grow, God will continue to challenge you in more ways than you think. With faith comes trust, which work together like hand and glove. Corrie Ten Boom said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”


3. We are created to give, but tempted to keep. As we are created in God’s image, there is a sense of fulfillment when we are generous; however, the voices of fear and selfishness speak against it. We must combat these voices with trust in God and the Scriptures. Proverbs 11:24-25, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”


When all is “said and done,” let there be more “done than said.”

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Observations of Generous People

I have been the recipient of overwhelming generosity throughout my life. Here is a list of some personal observations about generous people:
  1. Generous people are grateful people. They have an acute understanding that everything they have has been given to them by God.
  2. Generous people are not always wealthy people. Wealth has nothing to do with generosity. See npr story for an interesting article.
  3. Generous people don’t need special recognition for their generosity.
  4. Generous people are attractive in personality, and they inspire others to be generous.
  5. Generous people don’t spend time complaining about things they don’t like.
  6. Generous people have no regrets. There are no strings attached and they don’t keep score.
  7. Generous people don’t wait for “someday” to be generous. Instead of talking about making a difference, they respond quickly.
  8. Generous people end life well. Those who think they got a raw deal in life, end up with resentment; but those who live with gratitude end life with a deep sense of the amazing grace that surrounds them.
If you want to leave a legacy of generosity, start living that legacy now.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Prayer


Richard Foster writes, “We today yearn for prayer and hide from prayer. We are attracted to it and repelled by it. We believe prayer is something we should do, even something we want to do, but it seems like a chasm stands between us and actually praying. We experience the agony of prayerlessness.” (Prayer, 7).

I get it. 

Even as a pastor, I sometimes have to force myself to pray to God because I am too busy doing the work of God. Weird, right? Or maybe it's not really the business that keeps me from praying.

Foster further states that one of the primary reasons we don't pray is that we have a need to feel we have everything "just right" in order to pray. We want to say the right words and have lived righteously that week, thus deserving to be heard. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it puts us in control, and prayer, in and of itself, recognizes that someone other than ourselves is in control. This kind of thinking also piles on the guilt, which reduces even more our motivation to pray. 

The truth is that we will never have it all together, but that is the beauty of prayer. God invites us to have a conversation with him knowing exactly who we are - thought life and all. 

Humbling... yes!

Amazing... yes, yes, yes!

At some point we have to recognize that what really matters in the beginning of prayer is that we simply show up.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

My Four Girls

Yesterday, I watched as Stephanie received her diploma from Evangel University. She graduated summa cum laude, meaning "the highest praise." Not long ago, she was a child - I blinked - now she is an adult. She is now off to tour the West Coast with the Evangel Orchestra. To say I am proud of her is an understatement.
All my girls have made me proud. They each have completely different personalities and keep Esther and I moving - ok, mostly Esther. Yesterday, we could not decide where to eat so we drove around Springfield, MO for 45 minutes until we wound up at McAlisters, which makes some incredible iced tea (I wanted to stop and ride go-carts, but only Melanie wanted to participate). We ended the evening at Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy, which finally won out over Andy's. It was a day spent in laughter and silliness.
I am humbled to have four girls that love Jesus and have a healthy and biblical view of life. I am also glad that my girls love being pastors kids. Our prayers have always been that the ministry would not turn them away from church or their faith.
It's going to be a wonderful summer with all four girls home. We will be packing up our house in Maryland and moving to Virginia, so I am sure there will be several family meals, a few tears and certainly there will be many times of laughter.
Loving Dadhood,
Keith

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Psalm 46

As a pastor, I have used Psalm 46 quite often, especially at funerals and times of crises, but this passage took on new meaning for me in October of 2001 while going on a missions trip to El Salvador. I went with a team from our church to build two of the one hundred forty-four Assemblies of God churches that were completely destroyed in the earthquakes in January and February of the same year. What took the churches years to build was totally destroyed in a matter of seconds.

While we were there we saw what it means for the earth to give away. On one of our trips, we drove past a set of mountains that were once a single mountain. The mountain just split into two as the top of the mountain turned into a mud slide.

We also had the opportunity to bring relief to a refugee camp by bringing clothes and food. Thousands of precious people, who once had homes, were now living in tin shacks and dependent upon whoever would come and bring food and clothing. They were completely dependent on the generosity of others. When speaking to the pastors and missionaries living their, I was amazed and inspired by their courage and confidence. Although everything was lost, their faith remained strong. They understood that the only thing on this earth that we can really trust is God. Everything here may fail, but our God is our Strong Tower.

Sometimes the mountains in our lives seem to split open. The things we thought were safe are destroyed. You may feel like life as you know it is falling apart, but the God of Jacob is your fortress. He is the place you can run to for hope.

May the Holy Spirit remind you of God's presence today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This is My Story

    The story of the resurrection is celebrated by almost two billion people around the world. We pause and remember what happened to our Lord when he entered Jerusalem for the final time 20 centuries ago. However, if we are not careful, the Easter story can be glossed over, and we can forget the surprise and shock of the resurrection. Let’s never forget the “aha” moment it really delivers. Re-read Mark 16:1–7 and let it surprise you again.

    Sunday, I asked you to think of your life as chapters in a storybook. You have an introduction (the set up), the body (the plot) and the ending (the significance).

Chapter One: My Life – Found Guilty

    All humans share the same story because we all have the same sin DNA. The crime has been committed and we are separated from God. There is an old saying that says, “We all stand equal at the foot of the cross.” Romans 3:23 says, "There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

    Chapter One is pretty bleak and is leading to a bad ending.

    But stories don’t end at chapter one. In the grand courtroom drama – Satan stands as the accuser, with a lot of ammunition to find us guilt and worthy of the death penalty.

Chapter Two: God’s DefenseThe Cross

    Jesus enters the courtroom, not as a defense attorney, but as a substitute. He does not declare us innocent; he receives our punishment. He doesn’t carry a briefcase full of notes; he carries a cross. He doesn’t even cross exam the witness against us; he takes on the shame for us.

    The cross is not pretty – it is painful. It is ugly and full of death. But it is at the cross where wrath and grace meet. Think of it, through the death of One Man, all the sins of the human race are fully paid for—past, present and future. When Jesus died, he took our place and suffered the penalty meant for us. He who was innocent paid the price so that we can go free. This is truly beyond human understanding.

    But this chapter has two parts, and the second part contains the resurrection.

    Without the Resurrection, Good Friday is simply a tragedy. Without the resurrection, Jesus is just another mad man. Without the resurrection, there is no hope in our eternal destiny.

    This leads us to chapter three.

Chapter Three: The VerdictReconciliation, Justification and Freedom

     He restored our relationship with The Father - Study Ephesians 2:14-18

     We are justified - Study Romans 3:22-25

     We are free - It doesn’t matter how many sins we’ve piled up in our lives. It doesn’t matter how guilty we are. It doesn’t matter how many skeletons rattle around in our closets. The death and resurrection of Jesus is God’s answer to our deepest needs.

    That is what theologians mean when they talk about the "finished work" of Jesus Christ. It’s not just a slogan; it’s a profound spiritual truth. When Jesus cried out "It is finished" (John 19:30), he meant that the penalty for sin had been paid in full.

    Freely His,
    Keith

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What a Celebration

I am reading the many tweets from pastors around the country celebrating how many they had in attendance and how many were baptized and converted. There is no doubt that souls are being drawn to the Savior and that God's spirit is moving in great ways.  I am excited about the Kingdom.

I love to see the Body of Christ come together and move forward with the work of redemption. Today at Centerpointe, the church came together for worship and then celebrated with a community outreach. From what I can tell, we had over 100 guests for the service and hundreds more that came from the community for our after service outreach event. I watched as many families which live close to the church walk up to join us.

I am proud of our pastors, volunteers and church family. They worked so hard to make this incredible day come together, and they treated everyone like an honored guest. 

My favorite part of the day was during the worship time. We baptized three people and several others made commitments to become Jesus followers. It really is why we do what we do - share the gospel the best way we know how and pray that people will respond.

I expect there will be many more days like today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Words are Inadequate

    Words are inadequate to describe how I feel about yesterday (Sunday). Centerpointe Church was given a clear mandate to impact Fairfax County for Christ. 

    A good day in church consists of connecting with God through worship, Word, and giving. It also consists of connecting with people and watching them grow in their faith. But a great day in church is when we get a chance to connect people to God for the first time. YESTERDAY WAS A GREAT DAY! From what I know at this point, six people gave their hearts to Christ and others came back to Him. Two people, from another faith, came to me and said, "I want to be Christian." I love my job! 

    When I drive into Fairfax every Saturday from Baltimore, I am overwhelmed with the amount of people that live here - over one million and growing. I ask God every week, "How can so few make a difference in the lives of so many?" Yesterday gave me the answer: If we work to consistently connect people to Jesus and teach them what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and continue to honor Jesus in everything we do, we will make a difference. I guess you could say it is all about Jesus.

    The day continued to be incredible. At a celebration service later in the day, I was officially installed as the pastor. Larry Hickey, Bob Rhoden, George Raduano, Rob Seagears, Steve Brimmer and Bill Fraznelli spoke to the church about what the Spirit of God is doing. Each brought a word from the Lord to challenge the church to move boldly forward. I am truly humbled that these men took the time to speak into the life of the church, as each has played key roles in my life as mentors, teachers and friends. I was doubly blessed to have Brian Biondo and Miki Fields bring their extraordinary musical gifts to the occasion. Adding to the day were the staff and friends from Trinity, and personal family members that persevered route 66 to celebrate with me.

    Steve Brimmer said it boldly, “Remember Keith, you are not the first pastor of this church, and if the Lord tarries, you will not be the last.” We have to follow God in our season. I pray that when the next generations speak of this season, they will be able to say, “They were boldly faithful.”

    The day was topped off with a delicious spread of desserts prepared by ladies in the church. They went out of their way to make our guests feel welcomed. I am so incredibly proud of them. The people of Centerpointe have embraced my family and me with open arms, and I can’t help but fall in love with them.

    It’s a new chapter in my life and the life of Centerpointe Church. I feel like the first sentence was clearly written. “The eyes of the Lord are searching for a people who are calling out to Him, and He found Centerpointe Church at Fair Oaks. In His sovereignty, His favor now rests on them.”


What a way to start a journey!


PS. A very special thank you to the staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make the house ready for guests.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where is My Hope?



Over the last seven days, our family has been through a tragedy. One of our family members died unexpectedly. Like many friends and family, I find myself speechless, and a flood of emotions still overwhelm me: anger, shock, grief, loss, confusion…

Where is God in the midst of this?

Where is God in the midst of disappointment and storms and sickness and unwelcomed circumstances?

When I got the news, I was working on a sermon about hope, but now struggle to find what it really means.

So I run to the only place I know that makes any sense during these times – the Bible.  I have to turn to scripture, because it offers hope, even in desperate times.It’s powerful in that it is honest about our feelings and our circumstances.Specifically, the book of Lamentations has a lot to say about pain and suffering. This is a book about pain as the author vividly addresses the extremes of human pain and suffering as few other authors have done in history. It expresses the hard questions that arise during our times of pain.

Lamentations gives no easy answers to the difficult questions, but it helps us meet God in the midst of our suffering and teaches us the language of prayer. Instead of offering a set of techniques, easy answers, or inspiring slogans for facing pain and grief. Lamentations supplies us with a voice for working through grief and instruction on how and what to pray. It also provides for us a focal point on the faithfulness of God and the affirmation that He alone is our portion.

Before reading it, I would encourage you to examine its context. Read why this book was written. Understand the historical setting. When you do, you will see that the writer clearly understands what we are going through as it pertains to pain.

Lamentations 3:21-26 says, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (NIV)

The Process of Restoring Hope:

Being a follower of Jesus, I have learned that no matter what we are going through, we are people of hope. Sin has robbed this world of hope, but Jesus has restored it.
Here are four things that I trust will help:

1. Remember:
“Yet this I call to mind.”  Literally says, “Make return to my heart.”
Even though everything around me lies in a heap, and countless lives have been lost … Even though everything I knew and loved has come crashing down, I have a hope.
Hebrew prayers had two consistent inclusions. The first is that they referred to God as the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The second consistent theme is a reminder that God delivered them from Egypt.

They were constantly reminded of who God is.
Fill in the blank, “God is my _______________”

2. Repent
Lamentations 3:39–42, “Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins? Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: “We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven.”

To repent is to face your failure and allow God to cleanse you. This is the only path to forgiveness and freedom. The consequences of not repenting is continual struggle and guilt without the hope of healing.

3. Refocus
Psalms 42:5, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and My God.”
The battle is in the mind. You have to intentionally fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Don’t play for second place. Fix your eyes on what is most important.

4. Rejoice
Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalms 30:5, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

There is no greater need than hope and no greater opportunity than now. Some men see only a hopeless end, but the Christian rejoices in an endless hope. Our hope is not built on frivolous sayings and shallow experiences. It is built on the fact that Jesus died and rose again.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Reflecting the Heart of God

Sunday was wonderful day at Centerpointe. The atmosphere of expectation and gratitude filled the building as we talked about reflecting the heart of God. It is a privilege, and also a great responsibility, to be chosen by God to reflect the image of His Son to the world. We, The Church, are the first glimpse the world has of Jesus. 

Ephesians 3:10 says, “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” 

The only way to be a true reflection of Jesus is by getting to know his heartbeat. The way we get a taste of His great heart is by reading Jesus’ prayers and studying his mission, message, motivation and actions. Let’s walk through them one at a time:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Kristi's Missions Trip to Costa Rica


Dear Friends and Family, 
March 29, 2010 

I hope you are all doing well. I know for me, this year has been a great journey with God. He has blessed me abundantly with an amazing youth group and church. I have grown so much and have been given so many opportunities to share God’s amazing love everywhere I go. 

This summer, I will be going to Costa Rica with my youth group (Remix Student Ministries) from July 16-23. I am excited to spread God’s love through games, drama, music, teaching, and more. We will be going into the local schools daily. 

There are two ways you could partner with me. The first of course is prayer. Please pray for safety and unity for our team. Also pray that God would use us in a powerful way. Secondly is finances. This trip is going to cost about $1,400. This will cover food, transportation, housing and project money. Any amount would be a great blessing and much appreciated.

Thank you for your consideration. 

His Servant,
                                                 
~Kristi Edwards

You can donate online through the following link:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It’s Great to Be Loved


Sunday I introduced the message by talking about Esther’s and my first kiss together. What made that kiss so special was the three words that preceded it – “I love you.” You see, I fell in love with this blond hair, blue-eyed girl in the registration line at Valley Forge Christian College however we did not begin dating until six years later. So when I said those words to her at a beach in New Jersey, I was overwhelmed to hear them coming back to me. To be loved is an incredible thing.

If you think that human love is great, then you have not even begun to scratch the surface of God’s incredible love. You see, I was not pursuing God when he displayed his love for me. He pursued me. In fact, while I was an enemy with God, He loved me (Romans 5:6-11).

I invite you to read Ephesians 3:14-19 and meditate once again on God’s love. As you do, here are some thoughts from the message: 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Sermon Series at Centerpointe Church @ Fair Oaks

video 

Tomorrow I begin a series called "The Unstoppable Force." It will be my first message as Lead Pastor of Centerpointe Church @ Fair Oaks.

This series is about The Church, The Body of Christ - Big "C". Jesus said he would build his church and the gates of Hell will not be able to overcome it. I liken it to a locomotive. Like most young boys, I was fascinated with trains. They were big and powerful. What was most impressive was the locomotive, pulling up to a hundred railroad cars up steep hills across the country. I used to count them as they would go by. The sound of the whistle signaled to the world that it was coming our way. 

"Locomotive" comes from two Latin words: Loco meaning "from a place" and Motivus meaning "causing motion". That's a great picture of The Church, "A Place Causing Motion."

When the church is working right, things happen. People are changed and communities are transformed.

I am excited about what God is doing in The Church and particularly what God wants to do at Centerpointe Church. This local expression of The Church is going to be a place where Faith Comes Alive.

Thanks Kris Celeste for putting our first message bumper together.

Enjoy the Journey,
Keith

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Last Day At Trinity


Sunday, March 13th, I said goodbye to some great friends and family. I know that many people leave churches for many reasons...ministers also leave – some for good reasons and some for not-so-good reasons. I happened to be blessed in that my reason for leaving Trinity was to become the lead pastor at Centerpointe Church at Fair Oaks in Fairfax, VA. I am doubly blessed because I had the opportunity to work with Pastor George Raduano and the incredible staff of Trinity for 4 ½ years. The leadership lessons I learned will be applied to the rest of life, personally and in ministry.

If there ever was a prescribed way of honoring someone when they leave, Trinity could write the manual. I feel very humbled by the church's love and encouragement. I was sent off with a gift certificate for a two-day retreat at the Antrim House for Esther and myself (Esther says we need to wait for six months when I am completely exhausted). I also received a cappuccino maker, which I am enjoying immensely. It was the perfect gift for me. I guess Pastor George did not want to see me drive 65 miles to get a cup of coffee from his office. Esther received a gift certificate to the Coach store where she, for sure, will purchase a new purse. The service ended in prayer for our family and a time of fellowship – many hugs, handshakes and encouragement. Many wrote cards with expressions of love, which Esther and I read together – with a few tears falling.

It was a great day. 

To Trinity – Although I was the discipleship and teaching pastor, I received more from you than you can ever imagine. You laughed with me when I made some blunders, and you let me lead and try new things. I will miss you. You have imbedded yourself into my heart. Centerpointe Church is going to look a lot like you over the next several years – worshipping…growing…serving.

To the Pastoral Staff – Thanks for receiving me as a team member quickly and helping me excel in my giftings as well as challenging my growth areas. You are all very gifted in your role and serve the church well.

To the Support Staff Q3 (you know who you are) – I can’t imagine what life would have been like at Trinity without your help. I will never forget our 8:30 breakfast times at Stone Mill, the missions weeks, and all the events and ministries we worked on. You are a great team. Thanks, Pam, for your leadership and passion for excellence.

To Pastor George – I came as a good friend and left with a best friend. Thanks for sharing your life and heart with me. You are truly a generous man of God. Your consistent leadership at Trinity has led the way to health and vibrancy.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May His face shine upon you. May He give you strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

With Love,
Keith