Here are the headlines of a Chicago newspaper a few years ago…

Corpse Discovered After Four Years

For the past four years, many of Adolph Stec’s neighbors figured the reclusive elderly man had abandoned his neatly trimmed bungalow to the growing weeds and bushes.

Over time work crews came to shut off his water, his gas, and his electricity. For years the mailman bypassed his residence, thinking it was vacant. Once and a while, a neighbor would mow the lawn or knock on the door and receive no answer. But it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that the developers who bought Stec’s home at a tax auction three years ago finally stepped inside to find a man’s body almost completely decomposed in his living room chair. A newspaper from 1997 was at his side. Police described the remains as “mummified”.

“One day about four years ago he said hello from across the yard, and was never seen again,” said next door neighbor Peter Vella, 66, as he was cutting his front lawn Wednesday afternoon. “The grass in his yard got as high as two feet, so for 2 or 3 years I mowed his too. I didn’t want the neighborhood to go to pot.”

For now, it is unclear exactly when he died or the cause of death. Police said the only leads are the newspapers and mail in Stec’s home that appeared to be as recent as Feb. 1997, when Stec was 72.

After this story broke many asked the question, “How could this man die and not be missed?” “Why didn’t anyone care enough to simply check on him? This is a painful reminder that many people in our culture are painfully lonely. Stec wasn’t lacking information; he died with a newspaper by his side. Stec was lacking key meaningful relationships.

We are living in a world that puts a high value on self-sufficiency. At our fingertips we have instant access via the internet to any information we need without leaving the safety of our homes. We can email, text, message and chat without seeing anyone face to face. We can buy anything we want and have it delivered to our front door. If we do decide to leave our homes our attached garages allow us to drive in and out without seeing or speaking to our neighbors. Our culture is sinking deeper and deeper in “information isolation”.

Earlier this week I was shopping for Amy’s birthday and met a lady working at Kohl’s. She was very friendly and after seeing my “findhopeinhim” email address she asked, “Where do you go to church?” I told her I was a pastor and she proceeded to tell me that she went to a very large church but was finding herself very dissatisfied. She said, “I love the message and the pastor. The services are awesome, but I show up and nobody knows I’m there. I do not know the pastor and if something happens to me or my family who am I going to call. Who is going to preach my funeral?” I stood there stunned for a second. I gathered my thoughts, encouraged her and went on my way.

I have thought a lot about this conversation over these last few days. Saturday I got a call to do a funeral for a man who had no pastor. The family called me on a recommendation although I had never met them in my life. Unfortunately, “Information Isolation” isn’t just happening in our neighborhoods, many people are experiencing it week after week in our churches. It may not be a neighbor whose body is decaying while we sleep just yards away but it might be the person sitting next to you every week in church that has bought the lie that this Jesus thing is a “God and me” thing. They celebrate, sing, and gets lots of good information but they don’t pursue the soul filling opportunity to share life with people who love Jesus and know the person who shepherds them week in and week out.

Our church verse is Luke 10:27 “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” As I thought about that verse I realized that God is identifying our need for a relationship with him as the highest priority in our life, but then He makes sure that we don’t fall into the trap of “this is a God and me thing”. In essence Jesus says, “Don’t just love God; love other people with the same focus and energy that you love yourself.” Jesus wants us to love others as ourselves not because that’s what good Christian people do but rather because that is how we are designed. God created us to live life and share life with others.

I truly believe that every person has a name and every name is important. Let me encourage you not to fall into the trap of being a number and simply showing up. Share your life and give it away to others. Some of you may remember the old TV show CHEERS. The whole story line and set was built around a bar where people knew one another and were sharing life. I’ll never forget the song that opened and closed each episode especially these lines that rings over and over in my head, “Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name.”

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Have you ever thought about how good it feels when someone knows you and calls you by your name? A few days ago I was walking in a store and from a distance I heard a small voice calling, “Pastor Jeff, Pastor Jeff!”. I turned and from the other end of the store here came a little girl running to greet me with arms opened wide. I gave her a big hug! With expectation in her voice she exclaimed, “When are we starting Bible Club?!! “When are we starting Bible Club?!!” It is an amazing feeling to be known and called by your name! One of our core values at LifeSong Church is that “every person has a name and every name is important”! You are not just a number or a soul, you are a unique creation of our awesome God and He knows you by name and calls you by name John 10:3 “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” I want to know you and when you walk through the doors of LifeSong Church I want you to hear your name and feel like you are at home. I want to hug your neck(unless you don’t like to be touched) and tell you how much we love you. We are living in a fast paced world that seems to be taking less and less time to really get to know people and love them. We have exchanged real relationships for Facebook likes and retweets. Here is a pretty strong test for you…. If somebody in your household dies who are you going to call to preach their funeral? I know that is a morbid thought and your thinking, Pastor Jeff why did you go there? Here is the point, when it gets right down to it nothing is as important as the relationships you build in your life. I don’t want to just be a preacher you see and listen too. I want to know you and your family and pour my life into yours. You have a name and I believe that name is awesome and important!

1. The People Have To Love Jesus

This is the obvious #1. God is the author of love, He is the best lover of all, and the Bible describes Him as, “God is love.” When we love at our best Jesus is the center of our love and affection.  No church can love well unless they love Jesus first!

2. Create An Environment That Helps People Share Life Together

It is difficult for healthy relationships of love to develop within the church unless people spend quality time together. Churches that learn to love well within their body are churches that know how to share life together. Sharing life means, “no masks, , honest conversation, laughing together, crying together, and mutual accountability.”

3. Keep Politics Out Of The Church

I am not talking about national or local politics here, I am talking about church politics. Show me a church that has politics going on and I will show you a church that is divided. A church that is divided has no chance of fulfilling her mission. A church that is not fulfilling her mission is lethargic, dead and loveless.

4. Have A Culture of Love

This is simple. Tell people that you love them and show them that you love them. I have always been a pastor who want to be with the sheep and love on the sheep. As LifeSong has grown and the demands for my attention and time from people have grown I have found it difficult to learn balance. I want to be there to hear needs of someone, but I also want to be out there in the middle of the crowd touching people and loving them. I want to model loving well and I want our people to love well. A culture of love is what people are hungry for and that has to come from leadership down to the people.

5. The Church Has To Be Externally Focused

Show me a church that is not externally focused and I will show you a church that is dying on the vine. Loving well means you put others above yourself. Going back to #1 on the list, when you love Jesus first then you cannot help but to be externally focused because that is the heart of Christ. A church that loves well is a church that loves her community like Jesus loved His.

I Am In Love

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

As a kid I was just like every other boy who could care less about girls. All I wanted to do was play outside and wrestle around with my buddies. As time passed and I grew up I always dreamed that I would find a girl that was perfect for me. Along the way there were many opportunities of girls I liked and girls that liked me, but for one reason or another they just never fit. While I dated many girls there was only one girl that I considered a girlfriend. I think I was about 13 or 14 years old at the time and that lasted long enough for some older boy to come along and catch her attention.

At the age of 19 I met a girl, Amy Cashion, that changed my life and has been changing my life and rocking my world ever since. She is the only woman that I have ever loved. She is the only woman that I completely trust my heart to and plan to spend the rest of my life loving. Every day I get to wake up next to her and face my day knowing that I have someone that believes in me and is behind me 100%.

Today we get to spending the day together, that is all that matters. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing as long as we are together. We are in love, more in love than we have ever been! When I look at her my heart leaps and her beauty captures me. When I think about the next 42 years of life I rejoice because I know I will get to start each day loving this beautiful woman of God.

“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Eph. 5:15 – 17)

My mind is like a racetrack. My thoughts are spinning in my mind 100mph. I am constantly thinking about what is next, all the solutions I need to come up with or analyzing what just happened. I can be physically present but, in reality be a million miles away. Amy often brings it to my attention, but I generally have a good excuse or at least one that I think is good.It is not bad stuff that I am thinking about, but what am I missing out on by being so distracted?

In general I would say that we live in a culture that stays distracted 90% of the time. We can’t stay off of our phones and computers. We walk around with IPods stuck in our ears. We are dashing from here to there trying to keep up with the rat race. Most of us Americans spend at least 20 hours a week watching TV. Distractions are everywhere and life is blowing by us. Life that we are only present for parts of it.

When I read these verses in Ephesians it was like God was waving the caution flag in my life. “Be careful how you are living. Are you making the most of every opportunity with your wife and with your children. Are you stopping to celebrate the wins and enjoy the blessings I have put in your life? For us, not to be foolish, means that we don’t waste our life and let it fly by us. I don’t to wake up one day and have regrets about how I spent my time.”

So I have a simple statement that I am going to seek to live by, “Wherever you are, be all there!” I can do this!

It is very easy to get lulled into that place of nothingness, the place where we just wake up everyday and do the same old thing expecting a different result. Deep down in our heart we know that the result is going to be the same old, same old. Dissatisfaction with your life begins to build and there you are. What do you do? Well you have 3 choices: 1. Do nothing and just simply exist from day to day. (Bad choice!) 2. Do something stupid that involves running from your current life. (An even worse choice!) 3. Do whatever it takes to be passionately in love with the God who created you and has a purpose and plan for your life ( That is a great choice!).

Here are 3 great reasons to stop going through the motions:

1. God has BIGGER PURPOSE for your life

Going through the motions blind us to God’s activity and sucks all the energy out of our life. When we put the priority on our relationship with God He will interject energy and perspective. When we have no goals that we are reaching for it is very difficult to be motivated. However, it is not just goals, but it is pursuing the purpose and plans that God created you for. That is where we find our ultimate satisfaction.

2. You Want BETTER

You know it. I know it. It is obvious that we all don’t want to spend our life going through the motions. What it boils down to is a decision to change.

3. Lives Will Be Changed Because You Change

Immediate impact is that you start getting better and people around you have a more positive person in their lives. Your attitude changes. Your goals change. Your heart changes. All of those things equal to a better environment. Long term impact is God wants to use you to change peoples lives for His glory. You will look back and say as King David said, “Who am I that God has brought me and my household so far.”

In a time of reflection I have written the top 4 things I want to do with the rest of my life and your included!

1. I Want To Love My Lord. I want to love Him more and understand His love for me.

2. I Want to Love My Wife. Even though we’ve been married for almost 20 years I think our marriage is just beginning to find a depth. I think that comes from going through hard times together in life and building trust. There were times in my last pastorate that if Amy had not been walking that road with me I probably would have quit ministry. I want to learn how to love my beautiful wife completely in a way that gives her everything she has ever wanted from a relationship.

3. I Want to Love My Kids. My girls are such a blessing. I am excited every day to see them grow and change. Their failures and successes make me smile and as time goes by their beauty astounds me. To all the guys out there that think they may date my daughters : GOOD LUCK!

4. I Want To Pour My Life Into People. I have thought a lot about this one in the sense of what is the best way for me to do that. I love being a pastor. My passion is with the people. I want to love you well. I want to lead you well. I want to know you and give you my best. I want for you to feel the presence and the passion of Jesus Christ coming from my prayers for you, from that hug on Sunday morning, and from the words of encouragement that I can offer you. I want for you to hear God speak into your life loudly when I preach. Where ever God takes me I want to take you there with me. I want to cast the vision the God puts in my heart and let you know that it cannot happen without you. I am on a mission! I am a mission to make you feel as important as Jesus says you are when He gave His life and died for you on the cross.

When I am dead I want my colors to be clear. I have lived for Jesus with all that is in me. I have loved my family and been a man of love, conviction and integrity before their eyes. I have fulfilled my calling to invest my life into people that they may be saved and challenged to soar for Jesus.

The Next Step of Faith

Posted: March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

When I was a kid I remember playing basketball with my brother. He would always beat me. He beat me in H-O-R-S-E and he beat me in 21. He was 18 and I was 10 but I believed in my heart I could beat him and I never gave up. I would fight to the last bitter point. That flame of the fight in my heart has never died out and I wake up everyday thinking what can I do today to bring the fight to the things that matter most.

For the last 20 years I have brought that fight to the things of God. He doesn’t need me. It is not Jeff and God. He alone is God. I respect Him and believe that it is not my job to lead Him, it is my job to follow. Following is simple and hard all at the same time; It’s about listening and obeying. I can’t count how many times I have told people this, but I believe this statement alone separates many people in what they will see God do in their life and ministry. Here is the statement, “When God speaks obey Him immediately!”

That is the world that I seek to live in everyday. It is a huge challenge of faith. Often times the things that I hear God speak don’t make sense to my human logic. Some people would say, “You need to balance faith with wisdom.” There is no doubt that we need wisdom, as much as we can get. My belief is that there is huge wisdom in faith. If God says it then He has completely taken my wisdom off the table and replaced it with infinite wisdom.

Here is where I am living in this today. Last week during our week of fasting and prayer I asked you to pray that God would clearly speak about hiring a full-time Elder over our Next Generation ministries. We believe that God has spoken and we are actively pursuing a next level leader for this area. The criteria for this search is this: 1.Someone who can bring a wealth of experience in Next Generation Ministries. 2. Someone who has a clear vision and can lead our Youth and Children’s ministries to the next level and beyond. 3. Someone who loves our community. 4. A leader among leaders.

We believe that God has given us clear direction. You can join with us in prayer today that God would make the path straight. You can pray that God would provide the resources necessary to make this huge strategic move for our youth and children. I am praying that God would speak to people as they read this to commit to a higher level of giving to help us fund this position or someone who God is speaking to give a one time gift. We are stepping out in faith (“When God speaks obey Him immediately!”) and the result is going to make a huge impact! HUGE!!

Email me if you questions or you sense God is speaking to you about this. jeff@lifesongchurchonline.com

A Call To Fasting and Prayer

Posted: March 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today is day 28 of our 40 Day Prayer Challenge. These last 4 weeks have been filled with challenging words from our book “Draw The Circle” and God’s Word. Just like with any other challenge that we may take on our greatest success is found when we put our heart and soul into it. There is tremendous growth potential in this challenge that moves beyond these 40 days but extends out for the rest of our lives. (If you haven’t began reading “Draw The Circle by Mark Batterson I strongly encourage you to get a copy and begin reading today.)

I want to lead you in taking the prayer life of our church to a whole new level. This can only be accomplished if you join with me in a time of fasting and prayer. Beginning March 10th we will enter into a time of corporate fasting and praying. I want to encourage you to begin to prepare for this time. First, determine if you are willing to commit to a 7 day Daniel Fast (fruits and vegetables). Secondly, email me at jeff@lifesongchurchonline.com and simply tell me that you are committing to this fast.

This coming week we will be releasing a fasting guide as well as several important prayer items that we will be focusing on during this week of fasting and prayer.

I want to encourage you to be apart of this fast. This season of prayer may be the most important season of prayer we have ever entered into corporately as a church.

Here is a preview of our upcoming sermon series:

Draw the Circle–  Ends March 16th

Family Worship Sunday– March 23rd

Pull  (Personal Evangelism Training)- Begins March 30th- April 13

Week of Love Invades– Begins April 6th

The Rock–  April 20th Easter Sunday

Jesus Is Enough

 

LifeSong Church wants to be a catalyst to giving you a better life, a better you and a better relationship with God!

LifeSong Church is not a consumer driven church. We are not here to provide a recreational program for your kids, entertain you for an hour on Sunday morning, or give you a place to be buried when you die. As a matter of fact when people come to me and ask, “What kind of programs do you have at your church?” They are surprised when we say, “none”. Ok, maybe one. No, really it is an agenda. Yes, we have a clear agenda. We want to advance the mission of Jesus Christ by encouraging, equipping, motivating, teaching, loving, and challenging people to use their life to be a missionary where they live, work and play.  Although, here are 5 things that LifeSong Church can do for you.

1. Help You Start A Relationship With Jesus Christ
Regardless of what kind of life you have lived up to this point Jesus is desperate to start a new relationship with you. We can help introduce you to Him. He is the best thing that has ever happened to any of us. Our church wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Him and we are excited for you to meet Him!

2. Help Restore How You Feel About Church
The Bible describes the church as the “bride of Christ”.  A bride prepares herself for the groom. Every action and every thought focuses on that day when she gives herself totally and completely to Him. With that in mind, their is no place in the church for selfishness, personal agendas, politics, division, and worthless pursuits. Everything is done for the purpose of One, Jesus. Our passion is create an atmosphere of love, preparation, expectation and intimacy.

3. Introduce You To People You Can Share Life With
Everything in life is about relationships. The quality of our relationship with Jesus Christ determines the quality of all other relationships in life. We want you to share life with people who are passionate about their relationship with Jesus Christ. It is true that we become like the people we hang out with.

4. Empower You To Invest Your Life For A Greater Purpose
God has a calling and plan for your life. He created you to be unique. There is no one who has your personality, life story, sense of humor and giftedness. He wants all of us to use our lives to glorify Him. Our desire is to empower you to leave your mark on history by investing your life for the cause of Christ.
5. Make Loving God and Loving People The Greatest Priority In Your Life
This statement sums up the passion and heartbeat of the church and what God’s Word tells us is the most important thing that we can do.