Friday, October 25, 2013

How do I walk in the Spirit - part 2 of 2

3) I must feed the Spirit.  When we feed the flesh we will think and respond in the flesh.  When we feed the Spirit we will respond spiritually.  I feed the Spirit by reading the Word of God, by studying the Word of God, by listening to teaching and preaching on the Word of God, etc.  The Bible is our spiritual food.

4) I turn to the Spirit first in time of trouble.  When I am faced with a crisis how do I respond?  Where do I turn for help?  When I am walking in the Spirit, I rely on the Spirit when troubles mount.  I pray first.  Instead of throwing up my hands in despair I rely on my faith and God’s promises.

5) I am offended by worldliness. When I am walking in the Spirit, I am offended by sin.  I find that I am increasingly in contrast to culture.  Light and Darkness have nothing in common, therefore I should be offended by culturally acceptable positions that are opposed the Scripture.

6) I am sensitive to my sin and desire to make quick confession.  When I am walking in the Spirit I am quick to make confession to my sin.  I will immediately understand that my relationship with my Savior is not what it should be because of the sin in my life.  I will immediately repent and confess my sin as sin unto God. 

7) I am growing and not complacent.   When I am walking in the Spirit I will be growing in my relationship and knowledge of Christ.  When I have no desire to grow or learn I should quickly reevaluate whether or not I am walking in the Spirit. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How to walk in the Spirit? (part 1 of 2)

We often teach and preach about the importance of ‘Walking in the Spirit’ but what exactly does that look like?  Specifically, what should change in my life if I am walking in the Spirit?  How do I do it and how do I know if I am walking in the Spirit?

1) To walk in the Spirit, we must first be aware of God’s Spirit and we must be aware that His Spirit resides in the life of the believer.  That may seem elementary to some, but it is vitally important.  I have known several people who felt ill but refused to go to the doctor because they did not want to know if they were sick or not.  Some later found out that they had cancer.  Once they were aware that they had cancer, it changed everything.  They began to deal with the cancer.  They began to live life with a different outlook.  They began to be aware of their health, their diet, their time, etc.  Now, I know cancer is a bad thing, but once a person is aware of the disease, it changes them.  We have the Holy Spirit of God living within us.  Unlike cancer, the Holy Spirit is a very positive thing in our life yet we often ignore the fact.  We don’t act like we have God’s Spirit within us. We must spend time studying Who the Holy Spirit is, How He works in us, and How we are to respond to that. We must be aware of Him.

2) If I am walking in the Spirit I will look at things spiritually.  I will take a spiritual application on a subject.  My first response in any situation should be with God in mind.  Problems that come my way, people that I meet, conversations that I have, blessings that I receive; all of these should be opportunities for me to grow in my relationship with my Savior.  

To be continued...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The prodigal needed to come home on his own!

When the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) finally "came to himself" he headed back home.  His father was of course looking for him "afar off" and ran to meet him and celebrated his return.  I find it most interesting that the Prodigal needed to come back home - his father did not go into the "far country" to find him and bring him back or reason with him why he should return.  When the son finally realized his error, he knew where to go and he knew he would be welcomed home.  His father was expecting him and welcomed him home.
images (3)In our current "me first" culture that we live in, people who have left always expect others to come get them.  If a family begins to get sporadic in their church attendance and eventually stop attending church, it seems more often than not that when questioned about their absence they assume someone should have come to them and encouraged them back.
The church is right where its always been.  It is up to those that have left to come back when they are ready.  It is not the churches job to hunt down those that have become disenchanted with church and have stopped attending.  Remember the parable: the father stayed home, kept hoping and praying and expecting the wandering one to come back.
It appears to be the same way in families today.  A young person gets upset with their parents and takes off to make their own way.  After not talking to their parents or family for a period of time, they begin to develop a mindset that the parents need to track them down and call them back home.  The parents however, are right where they've always been.  The wandering child is welcome home at any time.
Now, we also have the story of Christ the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go and find the one that is lost.  How about that principle you ask?  In that story Jesus went to find the one that is lost.
The key is the fact that the lost sheep was LOST.  It had not left voluntarily, but had become disoriented or injured and lost the rest of the flock.  The Prodigal Son LEFT home voluntarily and the Father waited for him to return.  The Lost sheep was indeed LOST and the Good Shepherd went to find it.
If you are wandering - head back home.  God is waiting for you.  Your church family would love to see you.  Your family is missing you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Why our church is growing?

Cedar Hill has grown consistently over the last 9 years at a rate of about 10% per year.  We have seen the congregation grow from around 30 to about 130.

1. There are many people both here at Cedar Hill and around the world that are regularly praying for Cedar Hill.

2. Cedar Hill takes a solid, unapologetic stand upon the Word of God.  All of our services are centered around teaching and preaching the Word of God.

3. Cedar Hill has sought to strike a balance between being traditional and conservative in our worship without being ‘dead’ and complacent.

4. The ‘old guard’ of membership at Cedar Hill has an uncharacteristic desire to see newer members become involved and take roles of leadership.  There is no power struggle between varying senior members and newer or younger members.

5. The Pastor preaches the Word of God with enthusiasm. 

6. Cedar Hill excels at communication both internally and with those interested in the ministry.  The Pastor and board at Cedar Hill share all information with the congregation.  There is never a feeling among the congregation that they do not know what is going on.  The Church uses technology and social media effectively.  The website is thorough and kept up to date.  Facebook and Twitter are used to share the goings on of the church ministry.  Email is used to communicate with the church on an almost daily basis to keep everyone abreast of events and prayer requests.

7. Cedar Hill ministers to who God has sent our way and plans for those we do not have yet.  We have many people involved in the children’s church ministry because we have many children come during the church hour.  We have many people involved in the nursing home Bible studies because God has given us opportunities every week to work at our area nursing homes.  We don’t have many teenagers yet, but we have plans in place when we do.

8. Cedar Hill supports our missionaries.  Approximately 25% of our budget each year goes directly to foreign missions.  Cedar Hill does not participate in a ‘faith promise’ program.  We budget missions.  We send our missionaries prayer letters just like we expect them to send us.  We send our special prayer requests to our missionaries just like they send them to us.  Many members of our church email our missionaries regularly.  We have many members that receive missionary letters individually.  We have a Ladies Missionary Fellowship that prays for and communicates with out Missionaries.  We have a Missions committee so we are able to better keep track of their needs.  Our church KNOWS our missionaries and it is has made a huge difference.

9. Our nursery and nursery workers.  Many families that visit Cedar Hill will make their first stop and will get their first impression from our nursery.  Cedar Hill is growing because people find our nursery to be clean and well equipped with the latest in safety devices.  Our staff is prepared and readily asks the pertinent questions of each child.  People feel secure leaving their child in our nursery. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013


When a choir sings, members not only synchronize their voices and breath, but new research shows their hearts beat at a similar pace as well.
Research by Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg found the pulse of choir membersincreases and decreases in unison when they sing.
The study, part of an overarching project called Body Score, evaluated the heart rhythms of 15 18-year-old high school students as they hummed, sang a Swedish hymn and chanted a slow mantra.
“Singing regulates activity in the so-called vagus nerve which is involved in our emotional life and our communication with others and which, for example, affects our vocal timbre. Songs with long phrases achieve the same effect as breathing exercises in yoga. In other words, through song we can exercise a certain control over mental states,” Bj√∂rn Vickhoff, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.
The researchers are unsure exactly why the synchronized heart rhythms occur, but speculate it is because of the regular breathing pattern that comes with singing in unison. As a result, they also hypothesize this could have health benefits, which they ultimately hope will lead to more understanding of how music could be used in medical rehabilitation and preventative care.
“In the case of controlled breathing, the heart rate or pulse decreases when breathing out during exhalation in order to then increase again when breathing in during inhalation. This is due to breathing out exhalation activates the vagus nerve that lowers the heart rate which slows down the heart. The medical term for this fluctuation in heart rate the connection between breathing and heart rate is RSA and it is more pronounced with young people in good physical condition and not subject to stress. Our hypothesis is that song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out exhaling occurs on the song phrases and breathing in inhaling between these,” Vickhoff said.
“We already know that choral singing synchronizes the singers’ muscular movements and neural activities in large parts of the body. Now we also know that this applies to the heart, to a large extent.”
This study was published in Frontiers in Cognitive Auditory Neuroscience.

* Pastor Gunther's thought:  This must also be true of traditional Congregational singing as well!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why men have stopped singing in church!

An interesting article worth reading - especially in relation to more contemporary churches where singing hymns is going out of style: