A Powerful Combination

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A Powerful Combination

Dear Friends,

     We are just over a week into our 60 day prayer challenge.  How's it going?   If your life is anything like mine, you probably have had some days when it went great, and some days when it didn't go as well.  I will confess to you that there are days when I get distracted.  There are days when I have early appointments that I feel like I rushed my prayer time.  For those days when it doesn't go as well, I just want to encourage you to hang in there, stay the course, keep at it.

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     In time, this practice of morning prayer will become a rhythm in your life.  In fact, it will come easier and easier as it becomes a more natural part of your daily routine.  I see daily prayer in much the same way as I see weekly worship.  I've found that over time, weekly worship has become so much a part of the rhythm of my life that I could not imagine missing it.  In the same way that prayer helps me to get my day off to a great start, worship becomes the foundation of my week.  

     There is something about coming together with your church family that is renewing.  The time spent in community with people I love, and the time spent in worship of the God I love, has a way of restoring my strength and refreshing my hope. In fact, like daily prayer, I believe weekly worship is a game changer!  

     I know that life is super busy and there are a lot of things vying for our time.  But as we continue into this new year, I would like to encourage you to make weekly worship as much a part of the rhythm of your life as we are beginning to make daily prayer.  Together these two make a powerful combination for a great life!

     I also want to remind you that when you gather with your church family in worship, it is more than just a blessing to you.  You are also a blessing to others.  You bring something beautiful, important and precious to all of us.

     Finally, I want to remind us that we are launching our new schedule at our newly combined Rock Church North Shore campus this Sunday.  The new schedule will include two Sunday morning times, 8:30 and 10:45 am along with Tuesday night CR and Thursday night dinner church.

     I look forward to us all being together this weekend as we continue our series "Game Changers."  I promise it will not only be a blessing to you, but you will be a blessing to others.

In Christ,

 Steve

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Prayer is the Game Changer!

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Prayer is the Game Changer!

Dear Friends,

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I am blown away by how many of you responded to the invitation on Sunday to commit to pray EVERY day for the next 60 days.  If you were at one of the Rock locations or watching online, you will remember that there were some key components to your decision.  This is to be dedicated time, set aside for just you and God.  We encouraged you to take this time at the very beginning of your day so it could set the tone and provide a spiritual foundation to all you do.  And we suggested 5 areas of focus for your prayer: your family, your church, those in need, those who do not yet know Jesus and yourself. 

How’s it going so far?   Have you been able to do it each day?  If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up.  Just start again tomorrow.  The important thing is to stay the course.  The series we are in right now is called Game Changers.  And I absolutely believe that prayer will be a game changer for us if we can make it a part of our daily rhythm, every day, to spend time in the morning in an intentional conversation with God.

It will be a game changer in your personal life as you approach every day with the godly attitude and the heart of Christ that comes from having spent time in the presence of God.  It will give you strength and perseverance for the challenges of life.  It will give you a heart of love and a spirit of joy that you can bring into every relationship and encounter you will have.

But I also believe it will be a game changer for our church.  Hundreds and hundreds of you made this commitment in person on Sunday. And I’m discovering that many more of you who were attending via the live stream made the same commitment.  If hundreds of us will come together every morning in prayer for our church, our leaders and our mission I have no doubt that you will shake the gates of hell and help to bring the kingdom of God on earth!

I hope every one of us can be together in worship this Sunday as we continue this Game Changer series.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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The Best Year Yet!

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The Best Year Yet!

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Dear Friends,

I love the start of a new year. I mentioned in last week's blog that I am an eternal optimist. I believe that in Christ all things are possible. As such, the new year is ripe with potential and possibility.  In fact, I'm convinced that this year is going to be the best year yet. I believe it's going to be a great year for Rock Church and the life-changing work that God has called us to. But I also believe it can be the best year yet for you and I.

By the way, that is not hype. I believe that this will be our best year yet at Rock Church because we are going to fulfill our mission with greater impact than we ever have. We are going to reach out in new ways, we are going to take risks, we are going to see more people come to Christ and grow deeper in faith than we ever have. For example, did you see what is happening in Amesbury and Newburyport? Rock Church's North Shore campus is about to be born. It's going to be awesome! And I believe this is just the beginning of what God has for us this year!

But more than a great year for Rock Church, I want this to be a great year for you. I want to see God work in your life in richer, fuller and more powerful ways than you have ever experienced. I want your relationships to be the best they've ever been.  If there are areas of your life were you have been held in bondage, I believe this is the year for freedom. I want this to be the year you grow deeper in love with Jesus than you have ever been. I want to see you prosper in life in more significant ways than you have ever known. I truly want this to be your best year yet.

To get us started in the right direction we have just launched into a new series entitled "Game Changers."  In this series we will talk about five choices, five key decisions, you can make that will make this year your best yet. If you missed the first message, you can catch it at rockchurch.news.  This Sunday we will be talking about a decision, a step, that is so essential that I would invite every man, woman and child in our congregation to implement it. This decision literally applies to every one of us. We can all do it. And it is a game-changer!

I want to wish each one of you God's joy, hope, peace and prosperity in 2019.

   In Christ,
Pastor Steve

On a personal note, please keep John Sainsbury and his family in your prayers. Naomi passed away a couple of days ago. There will be a celebration of her life at our Plaistow campus on Saturday, Jan 5. There will be time to visit with the family at 10 am, the service will be at 11 am.

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The Eternal Optimist

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The Eternal Optimist

Our Rock Church Choir gathering before one of the concerts. Our final performance will be this Sunday in Amesbury at 10:00 am.

Our Rock Church Choir gathering before one of the concerts. Our final performance will be this Sunday in Amesbury at 10:00 am.

Dear friends,
    I pray you all had a joyful and blessed Christmas. On Christmas Eve, as part of the message, we reflected on the fact that Christ came into our world to give us a fresh start, a new beginning. At the heart of our Christian faith is the understanding that because of Jesus we have received a clean slate. The sins of the past are washed away, and we are made new in him.
   On more than one occasion I have been accused of being an eternal optimist, and I'm sure that is true. I believe the future is bright. I believe possibilities abound. I have always believed that the best is yet to come. That belief, that optimism, is not built on some naive view of life that chooses to ignore reality. I know that sometimes things are hard. I know that life will have its troubles. I know there will be setbacks. And like all of us, I have hard days. But because I have Christ, I have hope. And that hope fuels an optimism that believes that God has greater things in store for us with each new year.
    Of course there is a partnership here. God has a glorious future for each of us. But we must embrace it. We must do our part to step into each new day, each new year, prepared to make it the best year yet. This Sunday we will launch a new series that I am super excited about. I've gone back and forth on a few different titles for the series, but I've decided on "Game Changers."  I believe there are certain choices, certain decisions we can make that will allow us to fully experience the new life that God has for us. I believe there are certain steps we can take that will make 2019 the best year yet. It will be a five week series. Each week we will dig into one critical choice we can make that can be a game-changer in our lives. I believe God has something life-changing for you in this series. So I would encourage you to make the decision right now that you will be with us in worship every Sunday for the next five weeks. I cannot think of a better or more impactful way to launch the new year.
   God Bless,

Pastor Steve ,

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Prince of Peace

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Prince of Peace

Dear Friends,

“And he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  I was thinking today about some of the names by which we know Jesus.  In this verse from Isaiah, which we often draw upon in this Christmas season, we are reminded that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.

Years later, in the teaching we now call the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims “Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called children of God.”  It would seem evident from scripture that we are not only called to follow the Prince of Peace, but that we ourselves are meant to be peace makers.

But what exactly does it mean to be a peace maker? 

·         Sometimes to be a peace maker is to seek to bring reconciliation where there has been relational division or struggle.  Just as Jesus reconciled us to God, we are meant to be reconcilers, restoring peace where there has been brokenness.

·         Sometimes to be a peace maker is to bring a calming presence to a chaotic situation.  Just as Jesus brings peace into the storms of our lives, as the bearers of Christ in this world, we ought to bring his peace with us into chaotic or conflictual situations.

·         Sometimes to be a peace maker is to restore emotional peace. By his coming, Jesus brought peace to our hearts.  It is the peace of knowing that God is with us no matter what we face. It is the kind of peace that takes away our fear.  In the same way, we are meant to bring emotional peace to those whose lives we touch every day.

We live in a world that is greatly marked by brokenness, fear, chaos and division. But as Jesus followers, we are meant to bring healing, reconciliation and restoration.  As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are meant to be peace makers in our world.

The Plaistow performance of our Christmas Concert will be this Saturday, Dec 22 at 4:00 pm.

The Plaistow performance of our Christmas Concert will be this Saturday, Dec 22 at 4:00 pm.

It is a little bit ironic that we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace with a dizzying flurry of activity that often leaves us anything but peaceful.  So I pray for all of us that we may find peace in this Christmas season, even in the midst of the busyness.  But more than that, I pray that we may be peace makers.  That we would bring the peace of Christ into our homes and our workplaces, our church and our community.  I prayer we would bring the reconciling, healing peace of Jesus into every conversation and every situation we encounter.  Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

PS, don’t forget to pray for and invite your “ONE” for Christmas Eve. Services will be at 3 & 5 pm in Plaistow, 4 & 6 pm in Sandown, 5 pm in Amesbury and 7:30 pm in Newburyport.

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Who's your one?

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Who's your one?



Dear Friends,

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In this blog last week I asked the question:  How do we make a difference when there are so many in need?  The answer, quite simply, is one at a time.  So my question for this week is “Who is our ONE?”   I think this question is particularly important when it comes to how we share our faith with others.  It is wonderful to pray for a city or a nation.  But I want to encourage us to make it more personal.  Who is the one person that you can be praying for right now who does not yet know Jesus? Who is the one person who is hurting or struggling that we may be able to help?  Who is the one person who is lost or lonely that we can reach out to.

Who’s your “one?”  Who is the one person you are praying will come into a life changing relationship with Jesus?   And then, building on that foundation of prayer, who is the one person that you are reaching out to with the good news?  I would like every one of us to choose one person that we will pray for every day. But more than that, I would love it if every one of us had one person that we were witnessing to, loving on and inviting.

Right now we are in the midst of the most effective time of the year for outreach and invitation.  I have seen and read numerous studies that show that unchurched people will often attend worship if they are invited by a friend.  At Christmas time, the rate of receptivity to that invitation is even higher. And . . . Christmas Eve is actually the time that unchurched people are most likely to be open to an invitation.  So there is never a bad time to invite.  But at Christmas time, the positive response rate is at its highest point.

So, who’s your “one?”  Who have you been praying for?  Who have you been trying to witness to?  And who could you be inviting to join with you on Christmas Eve for a beautiful and moving Candlelight service?   

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As a reminder, we will have Rock Church Christmas Eve services at 3 pm, 4 pm, 5 pm, 6 pm and 7:30 pm.  Plaistow services will be at 3 & 5 pm.  Sandown services at 4 & 6 pm, Amesbury service at 5 pm and Newburyport at 7:30 pm.  Also, don’t forget that our Choir Christmas Concert are coming up on Sunday Dec. 16 in Sandown, Saturday Dec. 22 in Plaistow and Sunday Dec. 30 in Amesbury.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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One at a time

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One at a time

Dear Friends,

By taking a tag from the gifting tree, we can help one family at a time.

By taking a tag from the gifting tree, we can help one family at a time.

7,631,124,617.   That was the population of the world at the moment I began writing this blog. Let’s be honest, we live in a big world!  There are many people in our world in need of help.  There are many in need of prayer.  And there are many in need of Jesus.  When we think about the magnitude of the need, it can be overwhelming.  How do we make a difference when there are so many in need?  I think the answer is simple: One at a time.

Sometimes when we look at the needs of the world around us, it can be discouraging.  How could we ever make a dent?  Where do we even begin?  I can almost hear the enemy whispering in our ear “There are too many.  The need is too great.  Do you really thing YOU can make a difference?”  To which God responds “Absolutely!”   And the way we do that is one at a time.  I heard someone say recently “do for the one what you wish you could do for all.”

There are a lot of hungry people in the world, and neither you nor I could feed them all.  But we can feed one; one person, one family.  There are many people in the world who struggle with poverty or homelessness.  We can’t help them all. But we can help one.  And there are many people all around us who do not yet know Jesus, or who have fallen away from their faith. There isn’t any one of us who can reach them all.  But we can reach one.

By reaching out to one neighbor who is alone, we can impact one life at a time.

By reaching out to one neighbor who is alone, we can impact one life at a time.

The way we make a difference in the world is one at a time.  Over time, after one has come to Christ, we can reach one more.  And one at a time, over the course of a lifetime, we can reach many.  And if each of us does what we can, reaching just one at a time, collectively we can reach thousands through Rock Church alone.  And what is great is that each one that we reach can go one to reach one themselves, and then two, and then many over a lifetime.  So there is a ripple effect that can have a greater impact than we could ever imagine.

I believe every one of us can make a significant difference in the world.  We do that one at a time.  When we help one neighbor in need, when we feed one hungry child, when we share Jesus with one lost soul, we are changing the world. We are having an impact.  We are making a difference.  Don’t ever let the magnitude of the need discourage you.  Just dig in.  Start somewhere.  Make a difference, one life at a time.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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How will you prepare?

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How will you prepare?



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Dear Friends,

    This Sunday is the beginning of Advent.  The word "Advent" literally means "coming."  And so in this Advent season we look forward to and prepare for the celebration of the coming of Christ into our world.  I'm curious, what will you do to prepare for the coming of the Christ child?

     Many of us will mark the season by decorating our home, trimming the tree, putting up the lights and cranking up the Christmas music.  I love this part of the Christmas season!  The decorations, trimming and music become for us a visible and audible reminder that something special is about to take place. It heightens our sense of anticipation for what is to come.

     Some of us will plan or participate in gatherings of family and friends.  These gatherings are a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with people that we may not have seen in some time.  And these celebrations force us to break from our routine and set aside time to be with the people we love and care about.  It also reminds us of what a wonderful gift they are in our lives.

     For many, there will be shopping and gift giving.  The exchanging of gifts helps to reminder us that Jesus came to be the greatest gift of all.  He came to bring the gifts of peace and joy, life and love.  And his birth brought the gift of hope to every person in this world.

Weather permitting, we will be dismantling the field of flags this Saturday, Dec 1, beginning at 10:15 am. With a good group, we should be able to do it in 30 minutes. Join us if you can at our Plaistow location.

Weather permitting, we will be dismantling the field of flags this Saturday, Dec 1, beginning at 10:15 am. With a good group, we should be able to do it in 30 minutes. Join us if you can at our Plaistow location.

     As we go about our decorating, as we prepare for wonderful gatherings, as we pick out the perfect gifts, may all of it point us back to the ultimate meaning of the season. This is a celebration of God's perfect gift, given for us.  And so I pray that these next four weeks that we call Advent will be for each of us an opportunity to prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus.

    In this time of preparation, I would encourage you not to rush the season.  Savor the moments with friends and loved ones.  Take time each day with God in prayer.  Make room for Jesus in this holy season.  Experience the fullness of the joy that is the birth of Christ.

     This Sunday we launch a new series entitled "Redeeming Scrooge."   It is going to be great.  I know you are going to love it!  I look forward to all of us being together this Sunday and in the weeks ahead as we approach the celebration of Christmas.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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For these I am thankful

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For these I am thankful

Dear Friends,

     Let me begin by simply wishing you all a joyful, blessed Thanksgiving.  Even though I am not a big fan of cold weather, I do love this time of year.  There is something very special about this season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Tomorrow, as we celebrate thanksgiving, I hope we will all pause to consider the many blessings in our lives.  So let me ask you this question. If I were to sit at your Thanksgiving table, as we went around and each shared something for which we are thankful, what would you say?  What are the top one or two things in your life for which you are most thankful?  

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     Personally, I'm thankful for a home in which to live and food on our table.  I'm thankful that I get to do work that I love and find meaningful. I'm thankful for good health and the strength that God gives me to serve Him.  But if I had to narrow it down to the top two, that would be pretty easy.  First, I am thankful for the people in my life. I'm thankful for my family. For a wife who loves me (in spite of myself) through 37 years of marriage, for my sons Chris and Sam that I am so very proud of, for my mom and the gift of being able to live under the same roof, and for my brother Bill and his beautiful family.  Under that same blessing of people in my life, I am also thankful for good friends with whom I get to share life, for a team of amazing leaders and pastors that I have the privilege of co-laboring with in the work of Christ and for all of you, our Rock Church Family.  I love you all and thank God for you.

    Secondly, I am thankful for the gift of faith.  I would be hard pressed to fully express my thanks for the gift of knowing the hope of Christ and his Lordship in my life.  There is no greater blessing in this world. Jesus gives my life meaning and purpose.  He is the source of all hope.  He brings a peace that cannot be found anywhere else.  And as I think about it, I realize that there is a point at which these two blessings, the people in my life and my faith in Christ, intersect.  So, on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the people who, in my youth, helped me come to know Jesus; people who invested in me and poured into me in order to lay a foundation upon which my faith could be built.  And I am grateful for every person since then that has helped me to grow in my faith.

      How about you?  On this eve of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?  I hope everyone of you can join us this Sunday for the final week of our "Blessed" series where we will continue this conversation about blessing, Thanksgiving and gratitude.

In Christ's love,

Pastor Steve

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Blessed!

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Blessed!

Dear Friends,

Wow!  What an amazing week we have had here at Rock Church.  Our veterans services on Sunday were just awesome.  There is something so powerful about watching veteran after veteran stand, come forward and be thanked by our church. Would you believe we had over 600 in worship at our various services and locations this week. 

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Coming up a week from tomorrow will be our For Our Community Thanksgiving Dinner.  I am so excited about this.  This free Thanksgiving Dinner will take place at our Plaistow campus on Thanksgiving Day from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.  This dinner is open to everyone in our region.  This is a great opportunity for singles or couples without family in the region, or for families who do not have the means or the setting to host their own Thanksgiving Dinner.  I heard the other day about a family where the mom has been battling a serious illness.  Because of that, they are just not up for the work, time and energy that goes into preparing a Thanksgiving meal at home.  So they are going to join us for this community dinner. How great is that!  This dinner really is for anyone who wants to enjoy a great meal and great community on Thanksgiving.

You can help us make this an awesome event in two ways.  The first is to volunteer.  We need people to cook, bake, set up, serve, clean up, breakdown and provide transportation.  If you would like to help in any way, please go to this link to choose your place of volunteer service.

The other area of help we need to extend the invitation. You can do that through personal invitation of anyone you may know that would like to join us.  You can also help us spread the word by sharing it on your social media.  If you go to this link, you will find a FB event that can be shared. Or you can post this direct link: www.thanksgiving-dinner.org

We are asking people to let us know if they are coming so we can be sure to have enough food prepared.  If you would like to join us, or if you are inviting a friend, you can let us know at this link. 

This Sunday we will continue our series “Blessed.”  As a part of this message, I will be sharing with you some of the exciting plans and strategies that I believe will help Rock Church move towards our vision of reaching the lost with the hope of Jesus in the years to come. You will not want to miss it!

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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The Best is Yet to Come!

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The Best is Yet to Come!

I took some time away last week. It was an opportunity to get some rest and renewal before we launch into a very busy season in the life of Rock Church. But it was also a wonderful time for prayer and spiritual reflection, a time to seek God’s continued vision for our church. I am more convinced than ever that God has great things in store for us in the days ahead. On Sunday, November 18th I will be sharing with you a vision of where I believe God is leading us. I will speak live, or by video, at every location that Sunday morning.

Prior to the November 18th message, we will be hosting vision gatherings. The first two will be this Sunday, November 11th at noon in Amesbury and at 4:30 pm in Plaistow, then on Monday November 12th at 7:00 pm in Sandown. These gatherings, open to all, will be an opportunity to hear some of the background on what will be shared November 18th. It will also be a time for questions and conversation. The content will be the same for all three gatherings. So if you would like to participate in one of these, you are welcome to attend whichever of the three works best for your schedule.

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I also want to remind you of a couple of other big things coming up. This Sunday, November 11th is our Veterans Day service. In worship we will take time to thank and honor our veterans. If you have served in the military, have a friend or family member who has served, or are just grateful for all who have served to protect our freedom, I hope you will be with us. This is also a wonderful opportunity to invite someone who has served or has a family member currently serving in the military. Don’t miss this great opportunity to reach out to a friend or neighbor with an invitation.

Then on Thanksgiving Day we will host a free community Thanksgiving Dinner. We can use your help in two ways to make this a great event. First, we need volunteers. You can sign up to cook, decorate, set up, serve, clean up or provide transportation at this link. We also need your help in extending the invitation. This community Thanksgiving dinner will be a great opportunity for:

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  • Someone who is single, or a couple, with no other family nearby to share Thanksgiving dinner with.

  • An elderly person or couple who would not prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for themselves.

  • Any family without the setting or the means to prepare their own Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Homeless individuals or families.

  • Anyone who loves to be with people and wants to celebrate Thanksgiving in community!

One of the most challenging parts of a dinner like this is just getting the word out. So please help us by personally inviting, by posting it to your social media or perhaps by attending yourself! We are asking people to RSVP so we have some idea how much food to prepare. Anyone can sign up at this link.

God is doing great things at Rock Church, and I am convinced that the best is yet to come! See you Sunday.

God bless,

Pastor Steve

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Honoring our Veterans

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Honoring our Veterans

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Did you know that there are more than 20 million veterans in the United States?  It happens that Veterans Day falls on a Sunday this year. So on Sunday Nov. 11 we will be taking time at each of our Rock Church campuses to honor our veterans and our active duty service men and women. I share this with you for several reasons.   If you are a veteran, I want to personally invite you to be in worship at one of our Rock Church locations.  We want to have this opportunity to thank you for your service. We are also doing a new video this year.  So, if you would send us your picture (if possible, in uniform) by Nov. 3rd we would love to include it.  See the attached newsletter for more details.  We genuinely need the pictures sent in by Nov. 3rd so we have time to produce the video.

If you have an immediate family member on active duty, we also invite you to be in attendance, as we would like you to share their name so we can pray for them.  If you have a son or daughter, husband or wife on active duty, we would also like to include their picture in the video.  Again, see your newsletter for details.

Additionally, if you know anyone who has served our nation, please invite them to join us for this service. Many of our veterans are hurting.  There is no better way to begin to help them than to offer them the hope of Christ and the love of a supportive Christian community.  We will also honor and thank all of the veterans who come to be our guests at this service.  Please reach out to the veterans among your family and friends, neighbors and coworkers.  We would be so pleased to have then join us for this special service.

Finally, if you are grateful for the freedoms that we are blessed to experience in our nation and the brave men and women who have served to protect and preserve those freedoms, I hope you will make a special effort to be with us for this service.

I look forward to us being together Sunday for these special services.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

 

 

 

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Did I mention I'm an introvert . . .

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Did I mention I'm an introvert . . .

Have I ever mentioned that I’m an introvert?  Depending on which studies you read, estimates show that somewhere between 25% and 50% of people are.  So I know I’m not alone.  But even if I were alone, I’d be OK with that. (That’s a joke only the introverts will get!)  But there is one aspect of being an introvert that bothers me.  My wife, a classic extrovert, can strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere.  That just doesn’t come to me naturally.

The reason that bothers me is because I know there are people all around us who do not know Jesus. And I also know that to share our faith, we have to build relationships.  But to build relationships, we have to talk to people!  I’ve never been very good at starting conversations with strangers.  But I’m working on it.  I’ve started doing several things:

I pray for opportunities.  I try to pray every day that God will open up opportunities for me to have conversations with people I do not yet know.

I look for openings.  Sometimes it will be something about the other person.  For example, if someone is wearing a Patriots jersey, it is a perfect opportunity to ask if they saw the game.  Once that conversation gets started, there is no stopping it.

I try to capitalize on delays.  I was buying groceries the other day and found myself in the line with a bagger who was clearly a trainee. So the person ahead of me was all paid, but the cashier couldn’t start checking my groceries because there was a pile of items yet to be bagged.  The checkout clerk was clearly uncomfortable that the person ahead of me, and I, were being held up.  I could have impatiently thumbed through a magazine from the rack or checked my phone.  But instead I broke through my introverted shell and struck up a conversation.  It wasn’t deep or profound (it may have been related to cheese cake), but it was a start.  Instead of being frustrated by the delay, I made the most of the moment. And I have no doubt that God will put me in this checkout clerk’s line again some time so we can continue the conversation.  

Join us for Plaistow’s Trunk or Treat this Saturday from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

Join us for Plaistow’s Trunk or Treat this Saturday from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

I try to use people’s names. At the supermarket it’s easy.  They all have name tags.  At restaurants, if they don’t introduce themselves, I’ll ask.  There is something about using a persons name that helps build a foundation for a friendship. 

Here’s one last idea, notice and follow patterns.  For example, if you go to the same gym, around the same time, on the same days, you will soon begin to see the same people.  The same is often true of restaurants and other places of business.  Seeing people repeatedly in a certain setting becomes an opportunity to build relationships.  

So introverts, rise up. Even the likes of you and I can break through our walls, begin conversations and build relationships that can one day lead to opportunities to share our faith.  If you pray for it, God will open the doors and give you the courage you need to step through.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

Announcement

There is a large prayer event occurring at the SNHU arena in Manchester on Sunday night, October 28th, from 6-8 p.m.  It is sponsored by ifmypeoplene.org.   There is no charge but they are encouraging registration. 

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The value of a soul

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The value of a soul

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     In the message last Sunday we talked about the value of a soul.  I can’t seem to get that question out of my mind.  What is a soul worth?  What would I be willing to sacrifice if it meant there was even the possibility that someone might come into relationship with Jesus.  What might I be willing to give up if it meant a soul might be saved, a life redeemed?

     As we talked about on Sunday, that sacrifice comes in many forms.  Sometimes it is a sacrifice of time that we invest in ministry or in building a personal relationship that allows us the opportunity to share faith.  Sometimes it is the sacrifice of the familiar or the comfortable.  There will be times when we must step out of our comfort zone, or embrace change, in order to better reach that lost soul.  There will also be times when the sacrifice is financial, investing in the work of God through the church. Our generosity becomes like seeds sown in a field that, in God’s perfect time, bring forth a harvest.

     No sacrifice is easy. But when I consider any sacrifice God may call me to in light of this question “What is the value of a soul” I find I struggle with it less.  When I think of the immeasurable gift that my relationship with Jesus has been, I can’t help but want every person to experience that gift.  And when I think about the sacrifice Jesus made for me, it puts my sacrifice in perspective.  I wouldn’t say I “enjoy” sacrifice.  But I take joy in knowing that my sacrifice can change a person’s life in this world, and ultimately their eternal life. 

     So I will willingly share my time, because it helps reach the lost.  I will embrace change that may be uncomfortable when that change helps us be more effective in the mission.  And I will gladly give generously from what God has given to me knowing that investment will help save souls for eternity. 

God bless,

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     Pastor Steve

          I want to remind you that we will be setting up the field of flags this Saturday (October 20) beginning at 9:00 am at our Plaistow location.  As we did last year, we will be setting them in the area closer to the road.  It is a somewhat smaller area than the back field, but much more visible.  We need lots of hands, so I hope you will join us.  Based on last year, I would expect to be done before 11:00 am. If you are able to help, please drop me a quick email so I know the help we need.

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5:15 AM

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5:15 AM

5:15 AM. That’s what time I started writing this blog. That’s a little earlier that I sometimes start working, but I couldn’t help it. For weeks now I have been sensing in my spirit that God is preparing to do something great, something amazing, something awesome here at Rock Church. And this morning, I awoke with such a sense of anticipation that I just couldn’t wait to start the day.

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One of the many exciting things coming up is that we are preparing to launch Sunday morning worship in Newburyport. For months we have been offering a Thursday night service at our Newburyport campus, and we will continue to do that. But we are now ready to add Sunday morning to the schedule. For the first several months, we will do a once a month “preview service.” The first of these will be Sunday October 21 at 10:00 am at our space on the Rt. 1 traffic circle.

These preview services will give us an opportunity to work out the logistics of a Sunday morning experience in a new space as we continue to build our core group at this new location. We are looking for “missionaries” to serve in Newburyport. These missionaries are people from our existing campuses who are willing to be a part of a launch team to help get this new Sunday service off to a great start. If you think you might be called to help in this important work, I would invite you to join us for this first preview service and learn more about what God is doing in Newburyport.

This new work in Newburyport is just one component of a greater vision that I believe God has given us to reach this region for Christ. Over the next couple of months I will have much more to share with you about what God has placed on my heart for Rock Church. I’ll be 56 years old this Saturday (I know, that’s really old!). But I have to tell you that I am more excited and energized for our ministry than I have ever been.

Before I sign off, I want to remind you that we have some great outreach opportunities this month.

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  • This Saturday, October 13, will be the Rock Run Raiser. You can register at this link. We can also still use some volunteers. You can sign up here.

  • Next Saturday, October 20, will be the Field of Flags set up at 9:00 am at our Plaistow campus. Bring a hammer and join us. It is a great experience, and a wonderful way to honor our veterans as Veterans Day approaches.

  • Trunk or Treat. These have become a great outreach event to help us connect to unchurched families and children. It also offers a family friendly alternative to what Halloween can sometimes be. Donations of snack sized candy can be dropped off at any campus this Sunday or next. We also need trunks! Go to www.trunkortreat.rocks for all the details.

This Sunday we will continue our series “Follow the Leader” as we dig into one of the most unusual and intriguing stories in the gospels. You won’t want to miss this!

God bless,

Pastor Steve



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Why a Mud Run?

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Why a Mud Run?

Dear Friends,

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     The Rock Run Raiser is coming up in just over a week on Saturday October 13th.  Personally, I can’t wait.  I’m running it and I hope you will too.  If you are not familiar with it, the Run Raiser is a 2 mile obstacle course/mud run that takes place right at our Rock Plaistow campus.  The run is organized in “waves” that step off every 20 minutes beginning at 9:00 am.  There are both competitive and non-competitive waves.  If you want to compete for prize money, sign up for a competitive wave.  If you want to run it just for fun, go with one of the non-competitive waves.

      But this event begs a question.  Why would a church organize a mud run?  On the surface, it doesn’t seem like a very “churchy” event. Well, first of all, it is a charitable event with all proceeds going to great missional causes, include our For Our Community initiative.  But even more importantly, it is open to the community.  This is the kind of event that helps us connect to people who have no church home. 

      As we often say, everyone needs Jesus.  But sometimes our challenge is connecting to people who do not yet have a relationship with him.  That is why events like the Rock Run Raiser, Day Camp and Trunk of Treat are so important to us.  These community outreach events are our opportunity to meet, and begin to build relationship with, those in our communities who do not yet know Jesus. 

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     So I’m inviting you to support this event in one or more of the following ways:

·         We need donations of water bottles, fruit (apples, oranges, bananas) and granola bars.  Those can be brought to any of our locations this Sunday.

·         We need many volunteers.  We need help on Friday Oct 12th with the final set up and we need help on Saturday Oct 13th at the various stations of the race.  You can choose a place and time to volunteer at this link.

·         We need people to participate in the race.  If you are up for the challenge, you can get more info and sign up at this link

     The Rock Run Raiser happens to fall on my birthday this year.  So I invite you to come out and help me celebrate by being a part of an awesome event!

While we are talking about great outreach opportunities, I also want to remind you that we are going to do a Christmas concert this year. Rehearsals begin next Thursday. If you love to sing, I would encourage you to email Pastor Beth to let her know you would like to joins us.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

 

 

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In a Makeshift Chapel

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In a Makeshift Chapel

Dear Friends,

     I had an amazing experience on Sunday afternoon.  A wonderful young woman who had recently come to Christ wanted to be baptized.  She wanted to do the baptism at her home, to be celebrated with family and friends. When I arrived at the appointed time, I discover that, in the small alley way next to her apartment, she had created a makeshift outdoor chapel.  A semi-circle of chairs surrounded a table with a basin of water for the baptism. 

       Family members, friends and neighbors gathered to celebrate with her.  We held a simple worship service outdoors in this alley as neighbors walked by on the sidewalk just a few feet away.  As I introduced the baptism, I shared the heart of the gospel and the meaning of baptism with those gather and all within hearing.  As she was baptized, this sweet woman shed tears of joy, understanding that this sacred moment represented her new life in Christ.  Honestly, it was beautiful. 

     I left that experience a little emotional, thanking God for the privilege of sharing in such a beautiful moment.  As I drove through the streets of Haverhill on my way home, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it would be if every person could have the experience that she had.  Then in a moment of unbelievable juxtaposition, I passed a sign that advertised a “Pagan Pride Day” event.  I almost had to stop and do a double take.  I couldn’t help but think that there are still so many who are disconnected from Jesus.  I believe with all my heart that Jesus really is the way, the truth and the life.  So I celebrate the wonderful ways that God has been at work in our church, but I also recognize that there are so many more to be reached.  Everyone needs Jesus. 

      I want to remind you of a couple of important opportunities.  This weekend is our Alive! Women’s Retreat.  If you register today at this link you can still get in.  Saturday night is “The Overflow”, an event that is bringing together various churches in Amesbury for a night of outdoor worship. It takes place in the Millyard beginning at 6:00 pm.  And don’t forget the Rock Run Raiser coming up on October 13th.

Join us October 13 for the Rock Run Raiser. Register at rockrunraiser.com

Join us October 13 for the Rock Run Raiser. Register at rockrunraiser.com

      Finally, I want to let you know that we are testing a new church wide texting service that will allow us more flexibility and functionality.  If we have your cell phone number in our data base, you should receive a test message from us this Saturday.  If you don’t receive the text, please put your current cell number on your connection card on Sunday so we can include you.  You will always have the opportunity to opt out, but I hope you won’t, as this is the most effective way we have of getting information out on short notice.  This is particularly important as we approach winter in case of weather related cancellations.

      I look forward to continuing our series “Follow the Leader” this weekend.  We have a great message for you.  You won’t want to miss it!

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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Love, Love, Love.

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Love, Love, Love.

Dear Friends,

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     Starbucks got it right.  I was sitting across the table at a meeting recently and couldn’t help but notice the Starbucks cup that Pastor Beth was drinking from.  It simply said Love, Love, Love.  I wonder sometimes if we have not over complicated the gospel.  Jesus summed up all of scripture in this: Love God and love our neighbor.

     There is a man I’ve gotten to know.  Well, I say I know him.  The truth is I’ve never met him.  I’ve read his book, seen some videos and have heard him speak on a couple of occasions.  But it feels like I know him.  His name is Bob Goff.  Bob seems to have two defining characteristics. He is perpetually joyful.  Seriously, the joy of Christ just overflows from this guy.  He has an exuberance and passion for life that is absolutely contagious.  And, as near as I can tell, he loves everyone!  He loves his wife and he loves the mailman.  He loves his best friends and he loves complete strangers.  He loves cranky neighbors and he loves orphan children halfway across the world.  He just loves people, because this is what it means to him to follow the leader.

     God loved us while we were yet sinners, and as an expression of that unconditional love, He sent his own son to give his life that we might be saved.  Over 2000 years, Christianity has become quite complicated.  Deep thinkers, Biblical scholars and learned theologians have broken down and nuanced every aspect of our faith.  And there is a time and place for much of that.  But increasingly I believe it comes down to this: LOVE.  Love God and love our neighbors.

        Love is not always simple.  Love sometimes means boundaries.  Love sometimes means accountability.  But love also means grace and forgiveness.  What makes it love is it is born out of a genuine desire to bless others.  Love wants the very best for others.  Love leads us to share the gospel with those who do not yet know Jesus.  Love motivates us to generosity and kindness.  And love sends us out into the world to serve and help others. 

     Everyone needs Jesus.  How do we effectively reach others with the good news?  In our rapidly changing world, our methods may change, but the foundation remains the same.  LOVE.  When we love others as Jesus has loved us, it opens the door to sharing and invitation.  Let’s keep it simple.  Love God. Love Others.  Do Good.

     Ladies, don’t forget our Alive Women’s Retreat coming up in just over a week.  Info and registration here.  We also have our Rock Run Raiser coming up on Saturday Oct. 13.  I’ll be running in it.  I hope many of you will join me in “Getting dirty for good!”  Info and registration at www.rockrunraiser.com.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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Reflections on 9-11

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Reflections on 9-11

Dear Friends,

     I am writing my blog on September 11th.  In my morning prayer, I spent some time reflecting on those events, now 17 years past, that seem like yesterday.  There are so many facets to that day.  So many images indelibly etched in my mind.  So many stories of courage and heroism.  As those stories are remembered and retold, I am always moved by the selfless and sacrificial acts of both civilians and first responders.

First Responders at the Plaistow 9-11 observance

First Responders at the Plaistow 9-11 observance

     Self-sacrifice, a willingness to put the needs of others ahead of our own, is often what defines a hero.  It is also the defining mark of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was the ultimate example of self-sacrifice for the sake of others.  He gave his life that we might live.  He sacrificed himself that many might be saved.  We are just beginning a new series entitled “Follow the Leader.”  In this series, we will work through the gospel of Mark as we explore what it really means to follow after the example of Christ.

     As I’ve reflected on the events of 9-11, it struck me that the heroes of that day exemplified for us the true nature of discipleship.  To “follow the leader,” to live after the example of Christ,  does not necessarily mean we will be put to death.  But it is an invitation to live a life of self-sacrifice.  As Christ followers, we are called to put others ahead of ourselves, even as Jesus put our needs ahead of his own. 

     For some of us, self-sacrifice will mean giving up our time, or sharing our resources, to help someone in need.  At times, it will mean giving up what is comfortable or familiar to us in order to better reach someone else with the hope of Christ.  On the surface, self-sacrifice sounds painful.  It is contrary to our human nature to care more about others than ourselves.  But in time, we also discover a great joy in blessing others, in serving God and in advancing His kingdom above our own. 

     As we reflect on the events of 9-11, may it inspire us to live selfless lives, putting the needs of others ahead of our own.  Seeking to serve rather than be served.  Striving to be a blessing rather than be blessed.  This was the example of Jesus and an important part of what it means to follow the leader.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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I Can't Wait . . .

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I Can't Wait . . .

Sandown Old Home Day Breakfast this Saturday at 8:00 am.

Sandown Old Home Day Breakfast this Saturday at 8:00 am.

     I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS WEEKEND!  I am so excited I can barely contain myself.  Let me tell you why.  This Sunday is our Rock Church Fall Kick-off.  We’re launching a great new series.  It is the fall start of our NextGen Kids program. Our LifeGroups return to a full fall schedule.  Choir starts back up this week.  This place is going to be buzzing!

     The weekend actually begins on Saturday with the Sandown Old Home Day.  As always, we will have a strong presence there.  Beginning at 8:00 am, at the Sandown Town Rec Building we will be offering a free hot delicious full breakfast “for our community.”  If you would like to help cook or serve, please email Pastor Beth.  We will also have a booth at the Old Home Day celebration where we will give away waters, engage with our community and will be collecting school supplies for under resourced children.  If you are coming to the Sandown Old Home Day bring school supplies to share.

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     This Sunday we’re declaring a “bring a friend” Sunday.  Fall is a great time to extend an invitation to a friend or neighbor to join us at Rock Church.  If you were with us last Sunday you should have received a post card to invite a friend.  If you didn’t get one, feel free to copy the image to the left and send the invitation electronically.  Connected to our bring a friend initiative, we are going to try something new this Sunday.  If you bring a guest with you to worship, we are going to provide you with a DD gift card.  We want you and your guest to have coffee on us sometime in the coming week.  We want this to be an opportunity for you to hear from them how their experience was, answer any questions they may have and just reconnect. 

     I’m also super excited that this Sunday we will launch our NextGen Kids program.  In Sandown, NextGen will be at 10:00 am.  In Plaistow, it will be concurrent with our 10:30 service.  But we are going to try something new.  To give children a taste of worship, we will start with the kids in the service, and then release them to their classes. We are also preparing to launch a separate 9:00 am NextGen in Plaistow in the near future.  If you might be interested in helping with that, please email Glenda.  In Amesbury we will start this week with a breakfast and orientation for the kids, with the full NextGen program starting the following Sunday at 9:15.  To register your children for any of our NextGen programs, please go to this link.

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       Now can you see why I am so excited.  This is going to be an amazing weekend.  I haven’t even had time to tell you about the new series we are beginning “Follow the Leader.”  But trust me, it is going to be awesome.  It may completely redefine (in a good way) what you think it means to be a follower of Christ!

     I can’t wait to see you this Sunday.  And don’t forget to bring a friend!

God Bless,

    Pastor Steve

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