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An Inspiring Injury? A reflection on Kevin Ware.

On Easter Sunday, two college basketball programs with legendary coaches battled it out in the NCAA basketball tournament for a trip to this year’s Final Four in Atlanta.  Louisville with coach Rick Pitino vs. Duke with coach Mike Krzyzweski.  It was March Madness at its best!

But then during the game something horrific happened.  Louisville player Kevin Ware ran out and jumped to attempt a block of a Duke player’s 3-point shot and as he landed on his right leg, he suffered the most gruesome compound fracture I’ve seen since Joe Theismann, quarterback of the Washington Redskins was hit by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants in 1985.  Players on the court along with millions watching in horror on CBS were sickened by the severity of the injury.  Coach Pitino was in tears.  Then something even more amazing happened.  Kevin Ware called his teammates over because he wanted to tell them something before he left for the hospital.  He wasn’t feeling sorry for himself.  He didn’t tell his teammates how much his leg hurt.  He wasn’t worried about himself at all.  What did he say?  He told them, “Don’t worry about me.  Win the game!”  Greatly inspired by this, his teammates did just that.  They went out and won the game.

There is a profound lesson we at New Heights can learn from Kevin Ware.  I don’t know where Kevin Ware is spiritually, but what he expressed to his teammates is very Biblical.  He put his team before himself.  The Apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12 that the local church is like a human body.  Each of us at New Heights is like a body part that makes up the body of Christ.  Some of us are hands, feet, knees, shoulders, etc.  We all work together to be Jesus to our community and world.  This is God’s will and plan for the local church.  But for God’s plan to function properly, each person who is part of New Heights has to have the same attitude as Kevin Ware did on Sunday after his injury.  We must put the team before ourselves.  If this doesn’t happen, the church can’t function properly and will be of little use to God.

How does this play out in real life? Sometimes we may feel “injured”  – we have been hurt by someone at church. Or maybe we don’t feel like going to church on a particular Sunday(s).  Maybe something else is competing for church in our schedule and priorities.  Maybe we are just too tired.  No matter what the circumstances, the call of God and of Kevin Ware is the same – put the team before yourself.  Ask yourself: what am I putting before my team at New Heights?  What is getting in the way of me contributing to “winning the game for Jesus” here in Inver Grove and beyond?  Little in life is more important that being an active and involved member of your church where God is using your gifts and talents to bless others and draw them into that intimate, love relationship with God that every person was created for.  Put the team (NHCC) before yourself and watch God do awesome things for the Kingdom of God through our church!

 

Spiritual Zombie Apocalypse?

“The dead know where you are and they are hungry!”  Such a sentence brings to mind an image of zombies walking the streets in a slow but non-relenting march, searching for food.  And YOU are on the menu!  And their favorite part of you is of course your brains!

Have you noticed that our culture appears to be fascinated with zombies lately?  Shows like “The Walking Dead” and movies like Zombieland and more recently “Warm Bodies” are incredibly popular.  They all tell the story of the zombie apocalypse – when the dead come back to life, usually via a mysterious virus, and seek us living folks out for their next meal.

March is here and Easter falls on Sunday, March 31st this year.  As strange as it may seem, did you know you can actually draw a parallel with these popular zombie tales and Easter?  Don’t believe me? Look at Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, 5that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus” (NLT).

In these verses, the Apostle Paul says that all of us are dead in our sins.  We are in essence “spiritual zombies”- alive physically in this world yet spiritually dead because of our sins. In contrast, we who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord have been given spiritual life (new life both now and for eternity) by God when He raised Jesus from the dead.  That is what Easter is all about. It’s a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus which opens the door for our resurrection from the dead.   The fact is all around us walk the spiritual dead.  Without Jesus, they are all headed toward a “spiritual zombie apocalypse” where they will stand before the judgment seat of God with no hope of salvation.

To finish our zombie comparison, do the people in your life who are dead in their sins know you are a Christ follower?  Do they know where you are when they need someone to talk to about the deadness inside their heart?  Do the spiritually dead know where to find you when they are hungry for the truth of the Gospel?  If not, they need to today because the real Apocalypse (Jesus’ return) is coming soon!

Treasure Principle…

Feb 1, 2013 – If you were at our church’s annual meeting on Sunday, January 20th, you know that God has made it obvious that this is the year He may be opening the door for our church to have its own place to worship and to use as a launch pad for ministry to our community.  As you may have guessed, securing our own space for our church takes money.  We’ve been a church that has a history of living month-to-month financially.  To make this type of move, with all its unforeseen costs, we will need funds in reserve.  How are we going to get the money we may need to secure our own building?

Many churches give repeated direct appeals to their congregations asking for more money.  I once attended a church in California that I stopped attending because of several months of weekly appeals to give more money to help meet their budget.  As a pastor, I’ve always shied away from New Heights being one of those churches that are always asking for money.  Yet recently I have felt convicted by God that this is not completely right.  Did you know Jesus spoke more about how we deal with our money than He did on the topics of heaven and hell combined?  If Jesus spoke so frequently about money, should I completely ignore it as a pastor?  No! But instead of using the strategy of other churches (repeated appeals for money) I thought I would examine what God says through His Word about our money.

So this month, we are starting a sermon series based on the book: “The Treasure Principle” by Randy Alcorn. This is an encouraging and convicting book, showing the immeasurable joy that comes when one gives of their treasure as God wants them to. What you won’t find in this book is a how-to on gaining wealth. Alcorn doesn’t tell us how to play the stock market, how much of our check to put into savings each week or the exact percentage we are to give to God each month (He does address tithing but from the standpoint that tithing is the least amount you should be giving).

The point of the book is making wise investment decisions with our money by gaining treasure in heaven. This is based on what Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be”(NLT).

All that we have, our time, talents and treasure, is God’s.  And since it is God’s we give to Him what He asks us to give and give it to who He wants us to give it to. This is a special responsibility God has given each of us, taking care of (or managing) His resources. If we manage them faithfully, great blessings from God will follow and your life will be transformed! God wants to challenge our faith through this sermon series.  I challenge you to faithfully attend each Sunday and hear the sermons (or podcast them from our website at: www.nhccigh.org if you can’t make it) and watch the Holy Spirit transform your heart and habits regarding your resources!