A Sacred Trust

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A Sacred Trust

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There is something about September that always makes me think about kids.  I guess it is the combination of the start of school, a new season of NextGen and the barrage of Back to School shopping ads.  Even though my own boys are long since grown up, I am still forever mindful of the needs of our children and the importance of this ministry area.  As a church, I believe our children are a sacred trust.  These beautiful young lives have been entrusted to us by God to care for, watch over, protect and raise up in faith. 

Those of you who, like me, are working your way into one of those older age brackets, please don’t misunderstand me.  I love you all.  But there is something about the vulnerability of a child at this most formative stage of life that I believe places a great onus upon us.  And with the new challenges that this generation is facing, I’m convinced that the church has an even greater responsibility to pour into these young lives.

This Sunday we will be doing something new.  For the first time, we will incorporate into worship a “blessing of the backpacks.” We are encouraging kids to bring their school backpacks with them on Sunday where during the service, they will be invited to come forward.  This is really just a way for us to pray over our children, and to remind them as they head off to school every day that God is with them.  We have a cross key chain that we will be attaching to every child’s backpack.  My hope and prayer is that every day as they throw their back pack over their shoulder, they will be reminded that there is a God who loves them and a church that cares about them. 

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The blessing of the backpacks will only take a few minutes, but I believe it will be incredibly important.  I hope that everyone will be able to be with us in worship this Sunday to share in praying God’s blessing, guidance and protection over our children.  This is also a great opportunity to invite a “not yet churched” neighbor.  Let them know we are going to be praying a blessing over the kids, and it is open to everyone.  We’ve also got a little surprise gift for the parents. 

This Sunday will also be the concluding message of our “Fight My Battle” series.  This has been such a great and powerful series. You won’t want to miss this final message.

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

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Getting in Shape

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Getting in Shape

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      So the Rock Run Raiser is just over 5 weeks away.  About two weeks ago it hit me that it was coming up soon and I inwardly shuttered.  Not that I don’t like the event. Just the opposite, I love it.  I’m just not in shape for it.  If you are not familiar with the Rock Run Raiser, it is an event we run every October.  It is a 2 mile challenge course race with 15 obstacles along the way.  Honestly, it’s a blast and many people do it for the fun and the challenge with little concern for their time.  

      But if you know me, you probably know I’m a little more competitive than that, and I want to do well.  In fact, my goal is to improve my time every year (And yes, perhaps to beat Pastor James who beat me by one second last year!)  But the thing is, if I am going to run the race well, I’ve got to train.  The Apostle Paul, in a letter to Timothy, reminded him that physical training is good, but spiritual exercise is even more valuable as it blesses our life today and for eternity.

     Thinking about the upcoming Run Raiser, and the fact that I have allowed myself to fall into “less than ideal condition,” caused me to reflect on this idea of spiritual training.  I’m amazed how easy it is to allow the busyness of life to keep me from getting out for a run or hitting the weights.   And sadly, the same thing can be true in our spiritual training.  It is easier than I care to admit to allow the busy pace of life to cut into my prayer time, my worship, reading and studying God’s Word, and the other things that build my spiritual strength.  

     We are in a series right now entitled “Fight my Battle.”  As I have thought about the series, it struck me how important it is that we stay in good shape, good spiritual shape, if we are going to fight our battles well.  When it comes to physical training, I tend to go through seasons when I train well and other times when I hardly train at all.  How much better off would I be if I just kept my training consistent. The same is true for all of us as we try to stay in good shape spiritually.  I would encourage us make our spiritual training a part of ever day.  Stay in great spiritual shape.  Because this is how we fight our battle.

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       By the way, if any of you do want to join me for the Rock Run Raiser, you can get all the information at www.rockrunraiser.com.   Have a blessed week.  I look forward to us all being together this Sunday as we continue our series.

    God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

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A Family Reunion

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A Family Reunion

   Have you ever been to a family reunion?  Over the years, I’ve been to several. It is often challenging to work out the logistics and timing to get everyone together, but it is SO worth it.  There is a joy and excitement that comes from reconnecting with people we love that we have not seen for some time.  Recently my wife Nicole got together with her 3 sisters (one of whom still lives in Belgium).  It was the first time they had all been together in 20 years!  What a blessing that was for her.

    For many of the same reasons, I love the first Sunday after Labor Day.  Our ministry is coming back into full swing.  LifeGroups get fired up.  NextGen, our Sunday morning children’s ministry, launches a new year.  And when we all gather on Sunday morning, it feels to me like a family reunion!  Let’s face it.  Summers in New England are short, so we try to squeeze in any vacation time we can.  And when we are not away, others are.  It begins to feel like we haven’t seen one another in forever.

     But this Sunday is our family reunion.  The kids are back to school. We are coming into our fall rhythm.  This is the perfect time for us to all be together for worship.  So I want to extend to you a special invitation.  This Sunday you are invited to the Rock Church Family Reunion!  This is going to be a great week to reconnect with people we may not have seen much over the summer.  Since we’ve just launched a great new series “Fight my Battles,” it is also a perfect time to invite new friends.

This Sunday our North Shore campus makes its big move into the Vision Max Cinema!

This Sunday our North Shore campus makes its big move into the Vision Max Cinema!

      I’m honestly so excited about this Sunday that I can barely contain myself. It is going to be wonderful to reconnect.  We have a great service prepared. This will also be our first Sunday at the Vision Max Cinema for our North Shore Campus, so that is going to be super exciting!  This is definitely a week you will not want to miss.  I look forward to us all being together this Sunday.

     God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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How I Fight My Battle

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How I Fight My Battle

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Have you ever been in a battle?  Some of you may be active or retired military and you have literally been in a battle, a war zone.  But you don’t have to have taken up arms to be in a battle.  Battles take on many forms in life.  I’ve heard more than one parent say to their kid “why is everything a battle with you?”  Some of you may have come up against some unexpected expense and now your find yourself in a financial battle.  Some have known the pain of a custody battle.  Many today battle addiction. 

Nicole and I are currently in a battle that I know many of you have also fought.  It is the battle that comes with a significant health crisis. Some of you have fought those health battles in your own life.  Others have fought the battle alongside someone you love.  Life is a beautiful, precious gift.  But life can also be a battle.  The truth is, virtually all of us will face one battle or another in life.

So the question becomes, how do we fight our battles?  What weapons do we carry into that battle?  What resources do we have to help us fight our battle?   This Sunday we will launch a new series entitled “Fight My Battle.”  You might recognize the title as coming from a worship song “This is how I fight my battle.”  In this series I, and our other pastors, are going to be honest and transparent with you about the battles we sometimes face, and how we choose to fight our battles. 

It is only a 4 week series, but it is going to be very impactful.  Trust me when I tell you that you will not want to miss a single week. 

One more picture from Day Camp.  What a great program we had this year!

One more picture from Day Camp. What a great program we had this year!

On another note, this coming Sunday will be our final week in our Amesbury downtown building.  On September 8th at 10:00 am we will be moving our North Shore Campus into the Vision Max Cinema on Rt. 110 in Salisbury, right off routes 95 and 495.  The first few weeks will be a bit of a “soft launch” as we work out the details of a new space.  Then on Sept 29th we will do a big Grand Opening of the new location that we will be promoting broadly throughout the North Shore region.  Please pray for this great and exciting transition.  And please invite your unchurched friends and neighbors.

See you Sunday.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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A Big Step Forward

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A Big Step Forward

     In just over 2 weeks, Rock Church will be stepping out in one of the greatest and most exciting ventures our church has ever embraced.   As you have probably heard, our North Shore campus is selling its buildings, and on September 8th, will be moving into a new location.  On that Sunday, our North Shore campus will begin worshipping at the Vision Max Cinema in Salisbury MA. 

      I am excited beyond words about this move.  Let me tell you why this new location is going to be awesome!

·         Ample parking!  There are literally hundreds of parking spaces surrounding the theater.  For some time now, we have known that the lack of parking has limited our growth in the downtown Amesbury location.

·         Handicap accessibility.  Our Amesbury building was constructed long before anyone gave a thought to accessibility.  This space is all on one level and fully accessible to all.

The Vision Max has over 250 parking spaces!

The Vision Max has over 250 parking spaces!

·         Amazing location!  Less than a minute off Rt. 95 and Rt 495, this could not be a better location for the truly regional campus as we intend our North Shore campus to be.

·         Climate Controlled. It may seem like a small thing, but having AC in the summer and dependable heat in the winter will be a big step forward.

·         Seeker friendly.  For many people who have never been to church, stepping into a traditional church building can be an intimidating experience.  But most unchurched folks go to the movies from time to time.  Being in a theater makes it a much easier first step to take.

      I do want to let everyone know that even though we are moving into the building on Sept 8th, we are not doing our “Grand Opening” until Sept 29th.  Because this is a brand new, and completely different, location for us, we felt it was important to have a few weeks to work out the details.  Then when we have our grand opening on the 29th, we can provide the best possible hospitality and worship experience to our guests.

     So let the count down begin.  We will have two more weeks in our downtown Amesbury building, and then we are off on this great adventure! Please keep it in your prayers.

God bless,    

Pastor Steve

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Meeting Together

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Meeting Together

Today in my devotional time I was reading from the book of Hebrews. Chapter 10 verse 24 says “let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”  In that one verse we are reminded of a couple important things. The first is that we must not neglect meeting together.  We are not meant to live out our faith in isolation. We are part of the body of Christ. This is our family.

Since the very beginning of the early church, Christians have gathered together to worship, to study, to pray, to share life together. That greatly happens in three ways for us today. First is worship. This is our weekly opportunity to be together with the whole family.   

Having an awesome week of Day Camp in Sandown. Next week is Plaistow!

Having an awesome week of Day Camp in Sandown. Next week is Plaistow!

A second opportunity is life groups. Here we get to spend time with fellow believers in a more intimate setting. It is an opportunity to grow deeper in faith and to do life.  

A third opportunity we have to gather with our church family is in serving. There are so many ways, within and beyond the church, that we can be doing the work of Christ. And while that can also be done in isolation, it is really meant to be done in community.  We are more efficient and more effective when we combine our gifts with others. But more importantly, when we work together with others we build relationships and encourage one another.

I know how busy life can be. We seem to have so many things pulling us in more directions than ever. But this passage reminds us that we must not allow that the busyness to keep us from meeting together as the body of Christ, where we can worship, study, build relationships and spur one another on. I think that is the second take away. When we gather it is an opportunity to encourage and be encouraged.  

The journey of faith can be challenging at times. This is why God calls us to relationship. He puts people in our lives who can help, love, encourage and spur us on. And we can be that person for others. Reading that verse this morning I was reminded of how important it is that we never give up meeting together and encouraging one another.  I look forward to us all being together this Sunday as we continue our series “You’ve got a friend in me!”

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

On another note, on Friday at the end of day camp we could use a bunch of extra hands to help us break down and clean up in Sandown beginning at 5:00 pm. Many hands make light work!

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At All Times

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At All Times

Psalm 34 begins “I will praise the Lord at all times, his praised will always be on my lips.” As I was reading that psalm this morning, two words jumped out of me; ALL and ALWAYS. I know in my own life I find it easy to praise God when everything is up and to the right. In those seasons of life when everything seems to be going great, how can we not praise God?

But what about the hard seasons? Most of us are going to go through seasons in our lives when it feels like a battle. Relational struggles. Significant health concerns. Financial setbacks. Wayward children. If we are to say as David did “his praise will always be on our lips” how do we do that? Here are a few thoughts.

DayCamp at our Sandown campus begins this coming Monday!

DayCamp at our Sandown campus begins this coming Monday!

  • First, we should remind ourselves that we praise God because he is worthy. He is the creator of all. He is the giver of life. He's always worthy our praise.

  • We must also remember that regardless of our circumstances, God is always there for us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He carries us through every season of life and we praise him for his faithfulness.

  • And we are mindful that our struggles are temporary, but his blessings are eternal. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, made out of love for us, we have promise of eternity in his presence. We will experience the glory of God forever.

Even our best seasons will not compare to the greatness of what we will experience in eternity. And our most difficult seasons are but a moment when seen from the point of view of eternity. So I say with David “at all times” and “always.” No matter what we may experience in this imperfect world, God is good and he is always worthy of our praise.

We are in the middle of a GREAT series built on clips from the Toy Story movies. I have to say, for what seem to be children’s movies, they are leading us into some pretty powerful and significant conversation. I look forward to us all being together this Sunday as we continue the series.

God Bless,


Pastor Steve

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Overwhelmed by Love

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Overwhelmed by Love

Setting up camp for 100 Rock Church folks at Soulfest

Setting up camp for 100 Rock Church folks at Soulfest

     As I suspect many of you have heard by now, about a week ago Nicole and I received news that has radically changed our lives.  When you hear a diagnosis of cancer, there are many things that are uncertain.  But even in these first few days, we are being reminded constantly that there are two things that are certain; the faithfulness of God and the love of his people.  

Thank you to the amazing team of volunteers who came out to help us load the U-Haul for Soulfest. More than I could possibly get in one picture!

Thank you to the amazing team of volunteers who came out to help us load the U-Haul for Soulfest. More than I could possibly get in one picture!

     To say that we have been overwhelmed by the love of the body of Christ would be an understatement.  The outpouring of prayers, words of encouragement and genuine offers of assistance have been amazing.  These expressions of love and support have come not only from within our Rock Church family, but from countless other churches and leaders.  

     Seeing the church respond in such an authentic and loving way reminds me anew of why God gave us the gift of the body of Christ.  I honestly don’t know how people make it through the difficult seasons of life without a relationship with Jesus and the love and support of a church family. There is really nothing else in this world that compares.  

     So I just want to take a moment to say thank you.  I thank God and I thank all of you for the gift of the church family.  We are just beginning this journey in Nicole’s battle with cancer.  We have our first oncologist appointment tomorrow, so we will hopefully know more after that.  But I am already grateful;  grateful for the power of God that I know will be displayed in this process, and grateful for the love of our Rock Church family, and beyond. 

God bless,     

Pastor Steve

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Fearless

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Fearless

On Sunday we launched a new series "You've got a Friend in me." Taking clips from the Toy Story movies as modern-day parables, we began with the scene where Andy is celebrating his birthday. A joyful day for him, but a scary day for the toys. What new toys will Andy get? Will he still want us? Are we destined for the yard sale?

We all struggle with fear. There are things in life that are unknown. There are those things that are out of our control. I am what is affectionately referred to as a "Type-A" personality. I am a planner. I like to be prepared. I try to anticipate potential bumps in the road so the journey goes well. And for the most part, that has served me well. But I also know that there can be a fine line between being well prepared and being afraid of risk.

What if we could live without fear. Can you imagine how that could change our lives? What experiences we might have if we were not afraid of the unknown. How much greater our relationships could be if we were not afraid of being vulnerable. How much more we could accomplish if we were not afraid of failure.

Soulfest is next week. If you have not yet registered, we still have a few tickets.

Soulfest is next week. If you have not yet registered, we still have a few tickets.

In the message on Sunday I encouraged us to imagine what it would be like if we could live fearlessly. I'm not sure we even realize how much our fears hold us back. This is often true in our personal lives and in our faith lives. Fear often keeps us from sharing our faith. Fear keeps us from loving unconditionally as Jesus has loved us. Fear keeps us from stepping out in ministry in ways that God has created us for.

So this is my challenge to all of us, including myself. Let's try to live our lives fearlessly. Life is short. Opportunities can be fleeting. Let's make the most of every day God has given us by not allowing fear to keep us hemmed in and held back. Let's share freely. Let's love fully. Let's risk boldly for the sake of Christ and his kingdom.

My hope and desire is that this would not only be true for us as individuals, but also as a church body. God has amazing things in store for Rock Church in the days ahead. As the body of Christ, let us embrace all that God has for us... FEARLESSLY.

Have a blessed week!

Pastor Steve

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You've Got a Friend in Me

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You've Got a Friend in Me

 

Thank you to everyone who supported the Youth Group car wash for Soulfest!

Thank you to everyone who supported the Youth Group car wash for Soulfest!

“You’ve got a friend in me.”  Does anyone know what movie that is theme song to?  If you guessed Toy Story, you are correct!  (Most of you are singing it to yourselves right now!)  Beginning this Sunday we will launch a new Rock Church series entitled “You’ve Got a Friend in Me~The Gospel in Toy Story.”  I know some of you are going to think I’ve finally lost it, but if you look beneath the surface of what seems to be a series of children’s movies, you will discover some very powerful Biblical themes.  

     So over the next several weeks we will be using clips from Toy Story I, II and III to lead into some important spiritual conversations.  Of course, we could address those topics without the movie clips, but here are 5 reasons why these clips will be great starting points.

  1. Movies are the parables of our day. Just as Jesus told simple stories to provide illustrations that everyone could connect to, movies do that for us today.

  2. Visual illustrations make the message more impactful.

  3. Family friendly movies help connect the message to people of all ages (including bringing spiritual truths to children).

  4. Movie clips remind us of Biblical truths in the future. Once a message has been connected to a movie clip, any time you see that movie in the future, you are reminded of that message.

  5. It helps with invitation. When we use things that have cultural relevance, it helps us connect the message of the Gospel to our unchurched friends and neighbors.

A perfect day for the women BBQ 2019!

A perfect day for the women BBQ 2019!

      This new series is going to allow us to address significant issues that most of us wrestle with in a way that is engaging and memorable.  I hope you will not only be with us for the whole series, but I would encourage you to use it as an opportunity for invitation.  And if you are up for a challenge, I would encourage you to watch the first Toy Story movie this week and see if you can guess which clip we are going to use first.  If you think you know, feel free to comment below!

      Have a blessed week.

Pastor Steve

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Whatever you do

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Whatever you do

    Have you ever noticed how we sometimes separate our faith life from our “regular” life.  This morning in my devotional time I was reading in Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  In chapter 3 Paul writes “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  Those first three words caught my attention this morning.  “Whatever you do.”

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     I feel like we sometimes think of our faith as something we practice at certain times.  Sunday morning we attend worship.  Then perhaps at another time during the week we participate in a life group or serve in some area of ministry.  But being a Christian is not something we do, it is who we are.  We are Christ followers.  As Christ followers, whatever we do, our faith is a part of it. 

     I want to encourage us to have a “whatever we do” attitude.  If we are married, we see that relationship through the lens of our faith.  At work, Paul says later in the chapter “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”  In our conversations, let our words reflect the love of Christ within us.

     Sometimes we live our lives in a way that seems to be compartmentalized.  But Paul is reminding us that our faith is meant to be integrated into every aspect of our lives.  Every behavior we exhibit, every decision we make, every word we speak is shaped by who we are.  We are Christ followers.  That is not to imply that we will always get it right.  It won’t always be perfect.  But we strive to live in such a way that our faith in Christ is reflected in all we do. 

     And so today, and in the days to come, I want to encourage us to see our faith, not as one aspect of our lives, but the very foundation upon which it is build.  Let our faith be that which shapes all other areas of life.  Whatever we do, let us do it all in the name of Christ, giving thanks to God.

     I hope you can all be with us this Sunday as we finish up our “Supernatural” series.  You won’t want to miss this final message.  We’ve saved the best for last!

     Have a blessed week.

 

Pastor Steve

BTW, don’t forget the youth group car wash today at our Sandown location from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. It is a fund raiser for Soulfest!

Also, Men’s BBQ rain or shine this Friday at 5:30 pm and the Women’s BBQ is on Saturday beginning at 5:00 pm.

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Freedom

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Freedom

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, Independence Day. This is the day we celebrate our freedom as a nation. I consider myself blessed to live in a nation with the extraordinary level of freedom that we enjoy in the United States. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to worship openly. I think freedom is one of the most treasured gifts that any human being can experience.

Don’t forget Pancakes in the Pine in Amesbury tomorrow morning. No better way to start off the 4th!

Don’t forget Pancakes in the Pine in Amesbury tomorrow morning. No better way to start off the 4th!

Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free.” There is freedom in Christ that is even greater than anything this world can offer. It is a different kind of freedom than we enjoy as citizens of a great nation. It is an inner freedom. A freedom from the bondage of sin. A freedom from fear. A freedom to become all that God intends us to be.

This week we will celebrate the freedom we enjoy as Americans. As we do that, let it be a reminder to us that as Christ followers we are recipients of an even greater freedom.  The inner freedom that comes by His spirit within us. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  Over 200 years ago brave men and women gave up their lives to win our freedom. and in the centuries since then, many more have sacrificed to preserve that freedom. In similar fashion, over 2,000 years ago, Jesus sacrificed his life at the cross to win our ultimate freedom.

This independence Day let us be grateful for the freedoms we experience in this nation and for those who fought for them. But even more than that, let us be reminded that there is freedom in Christ.  For those who Lord have set free are free indeed.

Have a blessed and joyful Independence Day! We look forward to seeing you this Sunday as we continue our Supernatural Series!

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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A New Thing

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A New Thing

     In my experience, change can be hard and change can be exciting.  Transitions can bring challenges and new opportunities.  If you saw my email from a few days ago, you know that Pastor Jon and Pastor Rachel are in the midst of a transition.  They shared with our North Shore campus that God is calling them to a new expression of ministry. If you know them, you probably know that God has given them a heart for people living on the margins; the hurting, the poor, the addicted. 

      As such, they are stepping out to launch a new ministry, seeking to reach the broken and the struggling.  They will begin in downtown Haverhill and grow from there.  This will not necessarily be a “Rock Church” ministry.  But it is certainly our hope that there will be opportunities to work together with this new ministry.

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     On Sunday July 7th at noon we will have an opportunity to celebrate their ministry and express our appreciation for all that they have done as a part of our Rock Church leadership.  We will share a meal together and then have an opportunity for people to share their words of thanksgiving for their ministry.  It will be held at our North Shore campus on Main Street in Amesbury.  But it is open to everyone, from all locations.  We will provide the main course and dessert.  If you would like to bring a side dish or salad, that would be welcomed.

      This Summer will also be a time of transition for the North Shore campus in terms of its physical location.  We are in the process of selling the building in the downtown.  And although we have some details yet to work out, it looks like we will have an amazing opportunity to move into the VisionMax Cinema just over the line into Salisbury.  This facility is only 2.5 miles from our current location.  But it has ample parking, is handicap accessible and is right off both routes 95 and 495.  I couldn’t imagine a better location for a regional campus.

       As God said through the prophet Isaiah “Behold, I am doing a new thing!”  God is doing a new thing in the lives of Pastor Jon and Pastor Rachel.  And God is doing a new thing in the life of Rock Church.  And I am convinced that God will be glorified in all of it.

God bless,    

Pastor Steve

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The Body of Christ

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The Body of Christ

Sunday we took a deep dive into spiritual gifts as we continued our new supernatural series. As part of that conversation, we looked at I Corinthians 12 where Paul compares the church to a body.  As Paul reminds us, every part of the body matters. Every part is important. Every part is necessary for the work of Christ to be complete.

Here are a few thank you notes from the Boys and Girls Club following our For Our Community work at Camp Tasker.

Here are a few thank you notes from the Boys and Girls Club following our For Our Community work at Camp Tasker.

I've been thinking a lot about that lately. God has called us to such a great and important work. And he has given each one of us gifts to be a part of that work. Based on Sunday's message (which if you missed you can watch at www.rockchurch.news. I want to ask you two questions. The first is this: have you discovered your gifts? One of our core convictions at Rock Church is that everyone is gifted to serve.

And when we say gifted to serve, we can really look at that from two perspectives. We have talents and abilities that could be a gift to the work of the church and the kingdom of God. But there are also those spiritual gifts, supernaturally given by God's Holy Spirit, specifically for the work of Christ. We all have both, and both are needed. What talents has God given you and how might those be used for the work of sharing Jesus and serving others? And what spiritual gifts has God supernaturally poured into you?  Those were specifically given to you for the work of his kingdom.

So, have you discovered your gifts? And my second question is “are you putting them to good use?” Your gifts matter to the kingdom of God. They matter to the work of Christ and his church. You have something beautiful, important and impactful to offer, and the body of Christ will not be complete without you.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few thoughts:

Well, that's just a sampling, but you get the idea. You are an integral part of the body of Christ. Without you the body will not be complete. But with all of us together, we can accomplish great things in the work of Christ.

God bless,     

Pastor Steve

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: FOR THOSE WHO ATTEND AT THE NORTH SHORE CAMPUS, WE WILL HAVE A SPECIAL ALL CHURCH INFORMATIONAL MEETING THIS SUNDAY AT NOON. I WOULD INVITE YOU ALL TO JOIN US.

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That Pentecost Power

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That Pentecost Power

This past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost. What an amazing day in the life of our church. We had over a dozen people baptized by immersion in worship and we're welcome 30 new members! In the message we focused on the coming of the Holy Spirit and what that means in our lives. In scripture we are told that the Holy Spirit brings comfort, strength, guidance, teaching, conviction and more. But perhaps most importantly, the Holy Spirit brings power.

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Shortly after the day of Pentecost, in chapter 4 of the Book of Acts, we read “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.” When it comes to sharing the hope of Jesus with others I think we are sometimes hesitant. We fear we might not have the right words. We fear our sharing may not be received well. We fear rejection. But what Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, is reminding us is that we need not be afraid. After all we have that Pentecost power within us. We have the power of the Holy Spirit.

When it comes to sharing our faith, I have to remind myself all the time that we do not do this in our own strength. Like Peter, Paul and the other early disciples, we do this work in the power of the Holy Spirit. This was the point of Pentecost. The disciples were instructed to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit before they began their work of proclaming the gospel. On our own, our testimony may seem to have modest impact. But with the power of God’s Spirit behind the proclamation, there is a supernatural power.

We read in the book of Acts that in the early church the Lord added to their numbers daily. Every day more and more people responded to the invitation to become followers of Christ. This didn't happen because Peter was such a skilled preacher. He was a common fisherman. This happened because the Holy Spirit put power behind his words.

You and I don't have to be John Wesley, Billy Graham or Andy Stanley to share the gospel. Even if we don't think we are very eloquent, even if we think we don't have the right words, let us not be afraid, or even hesitate, to share Jesus with those who do not yet know him. We simply have to share the hope of Christ in our own words, in our own way, and allow the Holy Spirit to bring power to those words.

I want to encourage us to share Jesus with someone this week. Invite them to church. Help them to come to know the life changing hope and joy that is found in Christ. There is no greater gift you could offer another person.

I look forward to us all being together this Sunday as we continue our series supernatural. I believe this is one of the most exciting and engaging series we've ever done. You won't want to miss this.

God Bless,


Pastor Steve

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Speaking the language

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Speaking the language

This morning during my prayer time I was rereading the story of Pentecost from Acts 2. What an amazing account of the coming of the Holy Spirit, bringing the power of God into the early church. Though I've read the story hundreds of times, something struck me this morning.  This revelation came during the part of the story where Peter is preaching and everyone in the crowd hears the message in their own language.

We will be celebrating baptism this Sunday at all campuses. If you would like to be baptized, but have not yet contacted us, please email  steve@rock-church.org .

We will be celebrating baptism this Sunday at all campuses. If you would like to be baptized, but have not yet contacted us, please email steve@rock-church.org.

This was a miracle, the very thing we talked about this past Sunday as we launched our new Supernatural series. It was a sign and a testimony, demonstrating to all the power of God working through the disciples. But it dawned on me that there was also a very practical component of this miracle. It allowed every person to hear the gospel in their native language.  How important is that! Imagine the difference it made for those people being able to hear the good news of Jesus proclaimed in a way that spoke directly to them.

It reminds me that even today, when we share the gospel, we need to speak people's language. And what I often need to remind myself of is that just because I'm speaking English to someone else who speaks English, doesn't mean I am speaking their language.  Speaking their language means not using "churchy words" that only long time Christians understand. Speaking their language means understanding contemporary culture well enough that we can use illustrations that are relevant and relatable. And speaking their language means being vulnerable enough to enter their world and communicate in a way that connects to their personal experience.  The apostle Paul wrote "I have become all things to all people that I might win some for Christ."  If we are going to reach people with the hope of Jesus, we need to enter their world and speak their language.

This Sunday is Pentecost. The day we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian Church. We will celebrate baptism and welcome new members. And we will continue to dig into the supernatural aspect of our faith as we explore the power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is an incredibly important day in the life of the church. I look forward to us all being together to celebrate it!

P.S. I would invite you to wear something red this Sunday. Red is the color of Pentecost because it reminds us of the spirits coming down as tongues of flame over the disciples.

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Do you believe in Miracles?

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Do you believe in Miracles?

There is a component of our Christian faith that is very much about the physical world around us.  As Christians, we are all about feeding the hungry, helping those in need, blessing others.  After all, it was James, the brother of Jesus who said:

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Our new series “Supernatural” begins this Sunday, June 2 at all Rock locations.

Our new series “Supernatural” begins this Sunday, June 2 at all Rock locations.

But there is also an aspect of our faith which is very much about the spiritual realm.  The unseen.  The supernatural.  This Sunday we are beginning a new teaching series that I am certain is going to be both powerful and fascinating.  The title of the series is simply “Supernatural.”

I think every human being senses at some level that there is more to our world than that which can be seen.  While not everyone can put words to it, I think we all understand that there is a spiritual realm.  That there are spiritual forces at work in our world.  And I believe most people, even those who do not yet know Christ, want to understand it better.  As such, I think this would be a great series to invite an unchurched friend to attend. 

Through the series we will dig into the work of the Holy Spirit.  We will look at spiritual gifts, including some of the more “charismatic” gifts.  We will explore the battle that goes on at the spiritual level, angels and demons and the spiritual forces of the enemy. 

But we are going to start the series with a topic that we don’t often talk about, but I am discovering many of you have experience at one level or another: MIRACLES!  As a part of this opening message, we will be sharing some stories with you that you will not want to miss.  It is going to be powerful.

I look forward to having every one of you in worship with us this Sunday as we begin this new series, SUPERNATURAL!  You will not want to miss it.  (seriously, if you have other plans, cancel them.)

God bless,    

Pastor Steve

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Favorite Days

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Favorite Days

Are there certain days of the year that you particularly look forward to?  Christmas?  Your birthday?  Thanksgiving?  Can I share with you one of my favorite days of the year that you might find a little bit surprising?  I love Pentecost!  After Easter, it is my favorite Sunday of the year.

If you are not familiar with Pentecost, it is a special day in the life of the church when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian Church.  At Rock Church we mark this special day with a joyful, Spirit-led time of worship.  As a part of this service, every year that I have been your pastor (that’s getting to be a LONG time!) we include in this service the welcoming of new members.  At times we have also included baptisms. 

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This year, as a part of our Pentecost services we are going to offer both.  There will be the opportunity for immersion baptism at all of our locations.  We will also be welcoming new members at all locations.  There are very few spiritual experiences in this life that compare to immersion baptism.  And there are few steps we take in life that are more meaningful spiritually than to stand before our church family and publicly profess our faith in Christ through the membership vows.

There is some preparation that goes along with both baptism and membership. For baptism, there is a brief orientation that we do ahead of time to be sure those being baptized understand the meaning and significance of this important step.  For membership, there is a class that we ask everyone to attend. 

Pentecost falls on Sunday, June 9th.  If you would like to be baptized on Pentecost, please reply to Lynette and she will connect you with one of our pastors for the orientation.   If you would like to receive membership, you can also email Lynette.  We will be offering the membership class at two, or perhaps three, locations depending on the number of people who wish to receive membership.  The class will be on Sunday June 2 in the afternoon and will run about 2 hours.

To go along with the Pentecost celebration I will give you a sneak preview of our new, very exciting, upcoming series.  Beginning June 2 we will begin a new series entitled “Supernatural” where we will be digging deep into the things of the spiritual realm.  This is going to be an amazing series, you will not want to miss a single week. 

We will also have a special message coming up this Sunday for Memorial Day that I know you are going to want to hear.  If you happen to be traveling this weekend, but sure to tune in on the livestream.

God bless,    

Pastor Steve

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Every Day

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Every Day

My guess is that there are things you do every day. Some of these are physical things. Brush your teeth, shower, make the bed, EAT! And there may be some things you do everyday that are meant to express emotion; hug or kiss your spouse, tell someone you love them, speak a kind word. There are some things we seem to naturally do every day.

 In the same way, I think there was certain spiritual things we are meant to do every day. Virtually every day I spend a few moments reading the Bible. It doesn't take a tremendous amount of time, but it keeps me consistently in the Word of God. And even though I've read through the Bible a number of times over the years, every day it seems like God reveals something new to me. I see something in a passage that I hadn't noticed before. Or it speaks to me in a new way in light of what I am going through or experiencing at that time.

 The other thing I try to do every day is take some time in prayer. To be honest, some days it's just a few minutes. Other days I may spend a little more time. But the important thing to me is that it is every day. Daily prayer keeps me connected to God. It helps me stay grounded. It encourages me, and helps me to rely more fully on God every day.

 I'm convinced that one of the keys to growing deeper in Christ is our daily practices. I would not go six days without a shower and then take a really long shower on the seventh day. I wouldn’t binge eat one day and then go without food for six. There are some things in life that were meant to be consistent, daily. I believe that is particularly important in our spiritual lives.

 Of course there are spiritual practices we do at other intervals. We gather as the family of God to worship once a week. I believe a consistent weekly rhythm of worship is also essential for our spiritual growth. But if the only way we're being fed spiritually is once a week in worship, we will not be as spiritually strong and healthy as we would want to be, as we need to be, to live out this life of faith God has invited us into.

 At the beginning of the year we gave out bookmarks to remind and encourage us to pray every day. I hope you are still keeping yours in a visible place. I hope you are working through the five areas. And I hope you are doing it every day. I am fully convinced that daily time with God is the bedrock of a strong and growing faith.

God bless,     Pastor Steve

BTW, don’t forget that this Saturday is our For Our Community Day of Serving.  It’s not to late to sign up at this link.  ALSO, THIS YEAR WE ARE DOING A FOOD COLLECTION AT EVERY PROJECT.  So we are encouraging every participant to bring a non-perishable food item to the work site with them Saturday morning.

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Top Ten

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Top Ten

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It’s crunch time!  We are just a week and a half away from our biggest outreach event of the year!  Our For Our Community Day of Service is coming up on Saturday May 18th.   So here is my top 10 list why you will want to be a part of this great event!

10)  There are over 30 projects spread over more than a dozen community.  By participating, you get to be a part of something REALLY BIG that is making a big difference in our communities.

9)  Free T-shirts.  We have a brand new, super cool, T-shirt designed for this year.  Every person who preregisters get one of these beauties!

8)  Make new friends.  This is a great opportunity to not only do great work, but do it together with some great people.  You might even make a new friend.

7)  You get to choose.  If you go to this link, you can see all of the projects listed out and you get to choose which project you want to be a part of.

6) Ministry wide and open to the community.  Because this will involve all of our Rock Church campuses, we have the opportunity to connect to folks who we don’t get to see every week.  And because it is open to the community, we can also invite our neighbors (who we don’t get to see enough).

5) Free lunch.  After the work, everyone is invited back to our Plaistow location for a giant BBQ.  There will be inflatable for the kids.  It will be a great time to celebrate the excellent work that was accomplished.

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4)  Projects for all skill levels and ages.  We have intentionally chosen the projects in order to be sure there is work for people at all ages and all skill levels.  It is a family friendly events, so kids are welcome.  What a great way to teach our kids the value of hard work and helping others.

3) It is only half a day.  The work will take place from 8:00 to lunchtime.  Because there are so many of us working together, you get to make a big impact in a short time.

2) Shine the light of Christ.  By serving others, we get to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and help the world to know that there is a God that loves them and Christ followers who want to bless them!

1)  FUN!   Every person who participate last year agreed, it was a blast!

   So, if you haven’t signed up yet, please go to this link and sign up today.  I did hear from a couple of folks who do not have access to the web or had difficulty the form.  If you were not able to sign up online, just email me at steve@rock-church.org and I, or someone from event team, will follow up with you to help you get signed up.

God bless,    

Pastor Steve

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