Tough Choices

Jesus said some interesting statements which oftentimes don’t make sense or are not popular.

This weekend, David spoke from John 6 – where Jesus was challenging His followers to make a choice. He had done a miracle in feeding people (which made him popular because who doesn’t like food?) and everyone was expecting him to continue meeting their physical needs, but in these verses Jesus is moving from the physical (eating food) to the spiritual (eat My flesh – drink My blood). He was asking the people (then and now) to realize that beyond physical needs, there is a spiritual need that must to be addressed. Will we continue to choose Him over the comfort of what’s easy?

There are seasons in life that are tough and the easiest thing would be to walk away from being a Christ follower. Sometimes doing the right thing is unpopular and the explanation of why or the understanding of what He asked us to do is uncomfortable or odd to those around us. And yet in the midst of those moments, in the trials, the temptations, the circumstances that are out of our control, the transitions…. we are confronted with questions; the same questions that Jesus asked His followers… (John 6:67) “Are you going to leave too?” His followers had a choice then and we have the same choice. In the midst of tough things, do we make the choice to walk away from Jesus or have that realization that when we walk away from one thing (Jesus) – we walk toward something else?

If we are not following Jesus, whom or what are we following?

Thoughts on Acts 10:1-11:18

Read today’s scripture here: Acts 10:1-11:18

Today’s blog written by: Shauna Charles

Thoughts on Acts 8:26-40

Read today’s scripture here: Acts 8:26-40

Today’s blog written by: Shauna Charles

Acts 8:28-31, 34-38  “The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?”…  The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?” So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus. As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.”

What an amazing story! I love how this man was reading the scripture (taking imitative to connect with God) and in the midst of that, encountered someone who was willing to take time to talk with him.  And as a result of that conversation, was able to hear the good news of Christ which resulted in life-change.  Then going one step further – being baptized! (There is power in the Words of the Bible!)

At LCBC we love hearing stories of lives being changed! Life change may be the result of an experience, a tough situation, a great circumstance, reading the Bible on your own, a conversation with a friend or family member… whatever your life journey brought you to the point of seeking Christ and change that occurred as a result of you connecting with him, we’d love to hear it! Every few months, we as LCBC Church get to hear the stories of many people whose lives have been changed because of Christ before they get into the pool to be baptized.  There’s nothing special about the water, about what is physically happening, but the story being the life in the water is why Christ died.  We are all lives, just like the Eunuch, who were headed down a path, read (or heard) about Christ and was changed, forever!

So what’s your story?

Thoughts on Acts 6:8-8:8

Read today’s scripture here: Acts 6:8-8:8

Today’s blog written by: Shauna Charles

Over the past few days, we’ve seen the church growing, changing, good things were happening and people were being changed because of what Christ did.  Of course with change and growth, there were people who were not happy with all that was happening around them, because it causes them to question themselves and their state of being.

Stephen was “a man full of God’s grace and power…” and yet the men from the Synagogue couldn’t stand him, because he was “performing amazing miracles and signs”.  They arranged for someone to lie about him and in Acts 7: 1 “Then the high priest asked Stephen, “Are these accusations true?” Stephen speaks (51 verses) truth about who they were, what they were doing, the history of their culture, bringing to their attention all the ways they failed their tradition, culture and most importantly, God.

“The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.

When I was attending Bible College, I remember discussing many times over, why God wouldn’t rescue him from this… wasn’t he doing what God wanted him to do? Why wasn’t he saved?  I don’t think we will ever fully understand the why behind it, but even in Stephen’s death he spoke forgiveness into the lives of those who were killing him.  (The amazing thing is that Jesus did the same! Luke 23:34)

“A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.”

In our current day we aren’t necessarily persecuted (to the point of death), but there are trials.  How do you respond in those times?  When people look at your life, do they see you responding in forgivness?  Will people be intrigued by your ability to press forward and faith in the times of confusion, unexplained pain and trial?  Life is difficult at times, but how do you respond?

Thoughts on Acts 3:1-4:37

Read today’s scripture here: Acts 3:1-4:37

Today’s blog written by: Shauna Charles

Again these verses tell the story of all that was happening in those days with the common themes running throughout: unity, miracles, healing and boldness.

Chapter 3 starts out with the story of the lame man who stayed by the temple gates begging for money. Peter and John (Jesus disciples) were walking by, noticed him and said they couldn’t give him that he wanted (money), but they offered him something even better. Health. Healing. Completeness. Knowing that because of all they saw Jesus do and all He had taught them, he could be healed.  The man responded and “got up and walked”.

Because this man had been so known, his healing spread throughout the Temple and Peter (filled with boldness) told the crowd that “through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.”

Acts 4 later says, “All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.”

I LOVE that! “United in heart and mind.” They saw the things they had to being for the common good, the common benefit. I recently heard a message taken from Ecclesiastes 4:6 that talked about holding loosely to things we have. Do you hold things so tightly, both hands grasping for everything or do you hold all you have loosely in one hand – open? There is a responsibility as Christ-followers to do life together. To live in community and to share each other’s trials and burdens.

Would you find yourself in the lame man’s position or Peter and John’s? Are you crying out or are you the one who is walking by, who can offer something to those around you?  There are times in our lives when we are the one in need.  But there are also times when we are the one who can meet the need. Where are you today? And what do you have in your hand? Do you hold it openly (ready to freely give) or are you clasping it tightly?

Thoughts on Acts 2:1-47

Read today’s scripture here: Acts 2:1-47

Today’s blog written by: Shauna Charles

So as we delve into this week of reading, we look at the birth of the Church! The first verse of Acts 2 says “on the day of Pentecost”, which some people call the ‘birthday’, or official starting point of the church.  Acts is a snap shot of all God was doing and the lengths He would go to bring change to the people and their way of thinking.

The first few verses of Acts 2 say: “On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place.” LCBC believes in people “doin life together”… what better example than this.  They people were together. There was an element of Community, a being in one place, obviously physically but also spiritually. They were experiencing the same things. Hungry for the same thing; for God’s presence to be with them.

“Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.”

I LOVE that God chose to show Himself to people — people from every nation. He used the one thing, their native language, to meet them where they were. I love how God “met” the people by allowing those who were believers to speak their language. My guess is that the people of Acts didn’t have understanding of what they were saying, but God spoke through the believers to reach those around them.  Like God did to Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3). Like He did with Balaam and his donkey (Numbers 22). God shows us again and again how much he desires relationship with us and He will use whatever means — our language — to meet us.

How often does God choose to “speak” our language?
What is God doing in your life – what change are you experiencing?

What If

These two words have meant so much to the founding LCBC families, the Elder Board, Church Leadership, staff and those attending LCBC Church. Those six little letters hold so much hope, promise and expectation for what was, can be right now and what is still to come!

When LCBC began in 1986 with 35 people meeting in a garage, there was a hope and an expectation that the lives of people in and around Lancaster County could be impacted by Jesus Christ. They knew there was no limit to what God could do, but that it would take commitment and financial sacrifice, not just by others, but themselves–and they were (and still are) willing to step up and to GIVE sacrificially!

LCBC has grown from one campus, staff of one and 35 people to multiple (soon to be five) locations, a staff of 150 and 11,000+ attending. LCBC isn’t expanding for the sake of expanding, central to that growth are people; Lives being Changed By Christ. We add locations so people who are far from God can connect, in their community, creating a place where those who have been changed can invite their friends, neighbors and family to come and experience change too.

The What If campaign kicked off October 2010 with 2,422 families pledging to give $18.5 million to continue expanding LCBC Campus locations throughout Central Pennsylvania. So far 42% of the pledged amount has already been received!

Since the start of What If, we’ve hosted several events to give opportunity for people to participate in that expanding vision. Here are just a few details:

  • What If Golf Tournament (October 2010): 228 participants raising $31,000.00. Watch for details of our next Golf Tournament – August 2012.
  • LCBC’s 25th Anniversary Celebration and an evening with Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Association) celebrating all God has done and anticipating what is to come – October 2011.
  • Over 30,000 names written on “smokey cloth” (Jude 1:23) representing the countless people who are prayed for, who have been or who are yet to be invited to LCBC. And we are so excited to hear all the stories of those lives being changed!

So What If…God isn’t finished with us yet?
What If…there are still more lives to be changed by Christ?