15Oct

Learning as We Go


“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
 

At Turning Point Church, we have endeavored to be a learning organization; a community of learning. Authors and leaders with helpful insight have been invited to speak into how we do church to help make us better Christ-followers.

On Sunday October 26th, we are going to take another step on that path, as we kick off our 40 Days of Joy spiritual growth campaign! We’ll all be reading Tommy Newberry’s book 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life and aligning our Sunday gatherings, midweek gatherings, and small group curriculum along that same exact theme.

Our slogan for the 40 days is “Think 4:8.” Rather than emphasizing that we “ought to” heed the apostle Paul’s above admonition, we’re going to be focusing on “how to” actually change our thinking to that which is more Christ-like. David Bruce and others will be leading us through this journey. I can’t wait to see how the Spirit changes us through this process.

One caveat: if you don’t like orange and work at Home Depot, you’re kind of out of luck. Similarly, you’re going to see a lot of yellow with our signage and swag items. So if yellow isn’t your favorite color, this will be an excellent opportunity for you to put your newly found 4:8 powers to work. 🙂

19Sep

Welcome Aboard!

It would be impossible overstate how happy I am that David and Cece Bruce have agreed to join the senior leadership team of Turning Point Church and to serve as Shepherds of our Small Group Leaders! They are remarkable people who have and will, to an even greater degree, help us more effectively move people toward Christ and build a God-honoring church filled with thousands of changed lives. Welcome David and Cece and thank you God! Check out their story below.

David and Cece have been disciples for over 2 decades. Although originally from the Bible Belt of Oklahoma, David was introduced to Christ and became a disciple in Moscow, Russia in 1991. Cece is from Stockholm, Sweden and became a disciple and got baptized while working abroad in Berlin, Germany in 1991. David and Cece fell in love in Stockholm in 1994 and were married a year later. They began their union as husband and wife in Moscow where eventually they served in administration for the Eurasia Mission Work within our sisterhood of churches.

In 2000, they relocated from Moscow to Los Angeles where David soon pursued his calling to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. He gained his Master’s Degree in Psychology from Antioch University, in 2006, and received his LMFT license two years later. Since 2007, David has been working at Kaiser Permanente as an Addiction Medicine Counselor for adolescents and families. In that role, he eventually gained the nickname as the “brain guy” due to his efforts to help people understand how the brain functions best. David has a devoted passion to understanding how God has designed the human brain and how insights from psychology and neuroscience actually support scriptural principles. David also maintains a private practice providing psychotherapy services.

Cece has a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. After her adventures in Moscow with David, she eventually took a position at the UCLA Medical Center. She is currently managing a surgeon’s private practice at Cedars-Sinai.

David and Cece have two amazing kids, Michael (17) and Kristina (15). Both were baptized as disciples in 2013 after being a part of the Turning Point Teen Ministry which had a transforming impact on their personal journeys toward Christ.

David and Cece serve as Shepherds of the Small Group Leaders of Turning Point. They have a deep conviction that small groups are the backbone, engine and heart of a healthy and thriving church!

19Aug

No Words

On Saturday August 9th, 2014, our youngest daughter Kennidy was baptized into Christ!

“8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”                                                                                                      1 Thessalonians 3:8-9 (NIV)

19Jul

I Stand By The Door

Primarily through the influence of my good friend Daryl Reed, Mike Upton, and I were able to participate is the 2014 North American Christian Convention in Indianapolis Indiana last week. The theme was ReMission. It was a remarkable gathering of 9,000 Christ-followers who were being called to recommit to doing whatever it takes to reach people who are far from God.

Tim Harlow, his team, and many others did an excellent job directing this year’s convention. He spoke about the need to have Christ-like compassion for those not yet in God’s family. During his message he read an essay by Samuel Shoemaker called I Stand By The Door. It was the most inspiring commentary on how Christians need to position themselves in order to help people who are searching for God that I can remember hearing. I found it especially helpful for those of us who have been Christians for many years and who can forget what it’s like to be “outside the door.” I hope you find it as moving as I did.

“I stand by the door. I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out. This door is the most important door in the world. It’s the door through which men walk when they find God. There’s no use my going way inside and staying there when so many are still outside. And they, just as I, crave to know where the door is. And all that so many ever find is only a wall where that door ought to be. They creep along the wall like blind men with outstretched groping hands feeling for a door, knowing that there must be a door, yet they never find it.

So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world is for men to find that door, the door to God. The most important thing any man can do is to take hold of one of those hands, and put it on that latch, the latch that only clicks and opens to that man’s own touch. Many die outside that door as starving beggars die on cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter, die for want of what is within their grasp. They live on the other side of that door. They live because they have not found it. Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it, and open it, and walk in and find God.

So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints, go all the way in. Go way down into the cavernous cellars and way up into the spacious attics in its vast roomy house, this house where God is. Go into the deepest of hidden casements of withdrawals, silence and sainthood. Some must inhabit those inner rooms and know the depths and heights of God, and call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is in there. Sometimes I take a deeper look in. Sometimes I venture in a little further. But my place seems to be closer to the opening.

So I stand by the door.

There’s another reason why I stand there. Some people get part way in and become afraid lest God and the zeal of His house devour them. For God is so very great and asks all of us. And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia, and they want to get out. “Let me out!” they cry. And the people way inside only terrify them even more. Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they’re spoiled. For the old life they have seen too much. Once you taste God, nothing but God will do ever again. Somebody must be watching for the frightened who seek to sneak out just where they came in, and tell them how much better it is inside.

The people too far in don’t see how near these people are to leaving, preoccupied with the wonder of it all. Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door but would like to run away.

So, for them too, I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in, but I wish they wouldn’t forget how it was, before they got in. Then they would be able to help the people who have not yet even found that door, or the people who want to run away again from God. You can go in too deeply, you can stay in too long, and forget the people outside the door. As for me, I’ll take my old accustomed place, near enough to God to hear Him, and know that He is there, but not so far from men as not to hear them and remember they are there too. Where? Outside the door… Thousands of them. Millions of them. But more important for me, one of them, two of them, ten of them, whose hands I am intended to put on the latch. So I stand by the door and wait for those who seek it. I’d rather be a doorkeeper.

So I stand by the door.” 

18Jun

Redemption

If at first you don’t succeed…second chances…do overs…

Redemption: an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake.

Few things in life are more inspiring than seeing someone fall flat on their face in failure, pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try again. Failure need not be final if we learn from it, refusing to give into self-pity or being a victim. 

Congratulations to the  2013/2014 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs! What an example of choosing not to be defeated by defeat; a lesson to us all. What an example of a true team.

May we all rise again after we fall. You never know what might lie ahead. It could be your proudest moment.

27May

Sabotage

As I was reading an article entitled The Dynamics of Small Church Ministry, the word sabotage jumped out at me. It’s a term that is typically used in describing an enemy’s tactics in war or a spy’s activity when involved in some kind of espionage. The fact that John M. Koessler mentioned in the context of the inner life of a church caught my eye.

One definition of sabotage, found in the Bing Dictionary, is “an action taken to undermine or destroy somebody’s efforts or achievements.” As you read Koessler’s observations below, ask yourself if these kinds of dynamics might be going on in your faith community, be it large, small, or somewhere in between. Here’s to not being unaware of our enemy’s strategy to undermine the work of Jesus, through his church.

“Small congregations are closely knit…These ties can produce a subtle bias that causes a small church to sabotage its own growth.  Members sometimes feel threatened as they watch the congregation’s size increase…Their frustration increases as attendance expands, because the church seems less familiar than before.” (Page 179)

“A pastor who encounters this mentality…reacts with outrage when he realizes that he and his congregation are actually working at cross purposes.  He prays and struggles to see his church increase in numbers, but the church’s members attempt to maintain the status quo or even decrease the size of their congregation…Ironically, when the congregation reacts this way to newcomers, it does so in the belief that its behavior is in the best interests of the church.” (179)

“Often the pastor mistakenly decides that the problem with the “old guard” is that they do not care about Christ or the church.  In reality, the opposite is sometimes true.  Their resistance however misguided it may be, is an outgrowth of their genuine love for the church and a reflection of their investment in it.” (180)

“The pastor is probably correct in his assumption that the church must move away from the past if it is to grow.  But it is unlikely that he will be able to make any headway until he first affirms that past. When long-time members see that he is willing to acknowledge the investment they have made and guard their history, they will probably be ready to set their sights on the future.” (180)

To quote Rick Warren, “it tales unselfish people to grow a church” and “for a church to grow, both the pastor and the people must give up control.” There’s plenty to chew on here, for leaders and members alike.

22Apr

Psyched Out of My Mind!

To quote Miles Finch from Elf, “I’m psyched out of my mind” about our last two Sunday Gatherings!

On April 13th, we celebrated with 313 of our families who completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University nine week course, which we called “Unchained!” We received a final progress report from 183 of those families and here are the stunning results! In just 9 weeks, 53 families are giving more in their offerings, 241 credit cards have been cut up, $429,939.47 has been saved, and $716,339.50 in debt has been paid off! That’s a total turnaround of $1,146,278.97 and the average family experienced a $6,505.00 turnaround!

Hearing people share their victory stories was exhilarating! After our gathering, we threw a big party complete with food provided by Big Fat Pita, Jovee deejaying, cakes made in the shape of credit cards being cut up and eaten, a dunk tank which Jay Minor bravely manned, and a dream box for people to put cards in on which they had written their dreams of what they were going to do for God once they are debt free. This entire process has been a total game changer for us and has produced an undeniable paradigm/cultural shift.

This past Sunday was our Easter Gathering. We entitled it THR3E and explored the three acts of creation, the fall, and redemption. The comment that I’ve heard and read most from people, many of whom have been Christians for 20 years or more, is that it was “the best Easter Service that they had ever attended!” 1,036 adults experienced it, nearly 300 kids enjoyed their KidsPoint classes and the Easter egg hunt, and a memorable time was had by all!

These two gatherings were milestone events in the life of our church family. During both, you could feel the Spirit moving in real time and see personal transformation right before your eyes! About this and all we’ve experienced, we say “…thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV). And yes, Miles and I are still “psyched out of our minds!”


17Mar

I Got Mine

As a faith community, we’ve fought against being an “it’s never enough” church in which Christian’s see their being and doing as a way of earning God’s approval through performance. True disciples already have God’s approval through Christ.  As the Hebrew writer put it, “for by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

Recently I gave a message about the great season of opportunity I believe we’re entering and wanting us to seize the moment and “redeem the season.” I also spoke about not drifting into becoming an “I got mine” church in which the sole purpose is to meet the needs of their current members. In these kinds of communities the attitude toward those not in Christ is good luck; I hope you make it; I’ve got my family, friends, career, and spiritual life so I really don’t care about helping you find God. This way of doing church is toxic and unacceptable, given that Jesus came “to seek and save those who are lost.”

Michelle Julian (pictured above with her husband Tino and their children, Ryan, Kiley, and Keira) sent me a really great email in response to the message. She and her family are devoted and dearly loved members of our church.  All I could say after I read her what she wrote was, “now that’s what I’m talking about!” She got it! It makes any communicator’s day when people receive what the Spirit puts on your heart to convey. She said it better than me so I included her email below. Ultimately, Jesus said it best; “freely you have received; freely give.”

Hi Kevin!

Had to share how much your message this past Sunday impacted me. I think you mentioned something about wanting us to be sure and hand out a few VIP Easter invite cards in out comings and goings during our day 🙂

After service I took the kids to brunch, to the Habit, as we do a few times a month. In our becoming “regulars” there, I have gotten to know the general manager who always has a cheerful, serving attitude and clearly loves taking care of people. Usually I find myself in a post-service, gotta-feed-the-kids (and get them home for some R&R) haze but this time I really “saw” this man and took a moment to talk a bit longer to him. I complemented him on his awesome attitude and his great staff. I told him it was for sure a big reason why we always came back. Then, I pulled one of those invite cards outta my purse and said “I know you’ve probably already been invited cause a lot of us from Turning Point come here but, you were literally the first one I thought of that I wanted to invite when these new cards were handed out today…partly because your amazing attitude reminds me of so many people from our church family and I thought, you might really love it at Turning Point so, here you go, please come!” His face broke into an even bigger smile and he gave me a sincere “wow, thanks so much!”

For me, it was a great lesson in listening to the Spirit and taking action, even though the busy-mom-of-three part of me usually tends to be lost in whatever I have going on in the moment. I feel like now I will be more intentional and more outward focused wherever I go. It’s not my nature to talk to people I don’t know but, after hearing your urgent prompting Sunday and also listening to Aimee & Tony talk about how they saw Turing Point as “having water they needed when they were thirsty”…It was just another strong reminder of what a special, unique family we have. Why would I NOT want to share this gift and the gift of Jesus with whoever the Spirit puts in my path!

Prayerfully, I will stay on this path of being more “eyes wide open” and be the light that God desires for me even though I find myself in a “busy-mom-season” of life. The biblical promise that I hold on to so tightly in this Season is Philippians 4:13, “I can do ALL this through Him who gives me strength.”   I’m holding on to the fact that I do now believe in my heart, that no matter WHAT my challenges & difficulties are in my life right now, they will NOT prevent me from achieving the destiny that God has set out for me!

Love & appreciate our TP family so much! Michelle

17Feb

Chains Be Broken

One of my favorite songs is You’ll Come. It was written by Brooke Fraser, originally performed by Hillsong, and is one of our favorites as a church. The lyrics that get me every time are “chains be broken, lives be healed, eyes be opened, Christ is revealed.” We really want everyone to experience those words.

To that end, we just began a church-wide emphasis called “Unchained!” We’re all taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University nine week course together. It’s helping us learn to manage our personal finances in a more God honoring way. As remarkable as the personal transformations have been and will be, there are two additional aspects of this that really make me happy.

First, I believe that by doing this we’re trying to live out the following core value: “we don’t want something from our members and attenders; we want something for them.” The aforementioned program is the very best resource of which we know for helping people be successful in managing the resources that God has given them. It has the potential to change family trees, family legacies and family destinies for the better. Thinking about generational paradigm shifts is so inspiring.

Second, I love the fact that idea to do this didn’t come from anyone on our full-time pastoral ministry staff. It came from Dave and Brenda Etterbeek (pictured above with their sons Gavin and Cole), a remarkable and beloved couple, who’ve been volunteering as youth ministry leaders for over 10 years. They felt the call of God on their lives to grow in the area of financial management so they attended a FPU class on their just over year ago. As a result, they have experienced radical personal transformation and felt compelled by the Spirit to pass on what He used to change them to help change our entire church. How cool is that?!

As Rick Warren said, “leadership is an action, not a position.” I LOVE MY CHURCH because of people like Dave and Brenda who love it too, “own” it, take its success personally, and help change and shape its culture as much as anyone else. I am honored to follow their lead and look forward to every one of our members hearing their own call from God and “making their mark” in helping craft who we are.

Now if I can just get my homework for this Wednesday’s FPU class done, I’ll be good.

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