Can't help but share. . .

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Can't help but share. . .

I’ve been reading in the book of Acts this week during my morning prayer time. In chapter 4 there is a great story about Peter and John being dragged before the Jewish rulers.  Peter had just healed a man,  and the 3000 who accepted Christ at Pentecost had already grown to 5000 converts.

Christian community puts the joy in life. Have you found a LifeGroup?

Christian community puts the joy in life. Have you found a LifeGroup?

The high priest, rulers and elders were beside themselves.  This whole Jesus movement was getting out of control.  They were not sure what to do, but they knew they must do something.  So after a night in jail, Peter and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council).  Following an interrogation, they were commanded never to speak or teach in the name of Jesus again. 

I love their reply, found in Acts 4:19-20.  “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him?  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 

Have you ever had something you just couldn’t help but talk about?  Perhaps it was a new restaurant you visited or a movie you were blown away by?    I still remember Superbowl LI when the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit to win in overtime.  People couldn’t help but talk about it for days, even weeks. 

For the disciples, that was Jesus.  After hearing him teach, watching him heal, witnessing his resurrection, they couldn’t help but share the good news about him.  What they had experienced in Jesus had so transformed their lives that they just couldn’t keep themselves from telling others about him. 

That’s how I want to live.  I desire a life so transformed by the gospel, so impacted by Jesus, that I can’t help but share him.  For the disciples, there were many forces that sought to silence them.  And even in our culture today, there are those who would seek to suppress the proclamation of the gospel.

But may it be said of us that we have been so powerfully transformed by the love and forgiveness of Christ that we can’t help but tell everyone!

Have a blessed week.  I look forward to having us all together this weekend as we continue to explore the life of Peter.  You won’t want to miss it. 

 God bless,

Pastor Steve

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Called

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Called

   This week at Rock Church we began a new series on the Life of Peter.  Peter was the first disciple called by Jesus.  For Peter, everything began with this calling.  As we dig into that story, we see that Peter was called not only to follow Jesus, but to serve him.  In the years that followed, Peter would use his unique gifts, talents and abilities to serve God in ways that would change the world.

Mark Your Calendar.  For Our Community Day will be May 18th!

Mark Your Calendar. For Our Community Day will be May 18th!

     You and I are the ones called by Christ to be world changers in this generation!  God has poured wonderful, unique gifts and talents into each of us that are meant to be used for the work of Christ.  One of our core convictions at Rock Church is that everyone is gifted to serve.  When we serve Christ, we have the opportunity to be a part of something that is not only changing the world here and now, but is shaping people's eternity. 

     My heart's desire is that every one of us would find our special place in the work of Christ and his church.  I believe we all want to know that we have invested our lives in something truly significant.  There is such a sense of joy, satisfaction and purpose that comes from being a part of the work of God's kingdom, that I would want every person to have that experience.

     However, I have discovered that there are certain "myths" that sometimes keep us from having that experience.

Myth #1:  I want to serve, but I don't have time.   I know we are all super busy.  But God gives us enough time to do the things he calls and equips us to do.  In fact, there are many ways to serve that only require an hour or two a month, but are still a very important component of our church's ministry.  If we make the decision to serve, God will help us make the time.

Myth #2:  I have no special skills.  That is a lie from the enemy.  Everyone of us has God given gifts and talents that are needed in his work.  In fact, there are things that you would be good at that you haven't even discovered yet.  But as you respond to God's calling, those gifts will begin to emerge within you.

Myth #3:  I'm not needed.  Sometimes we look at the work of the church and it seems like everything is covered. It is easy to assume from initial appearance that the ministry is fully staff.  This is also not true.  At this very moment we could use additional help in hospitality, coffee prep, children's ministry, youth ministry, administrative work and care ministry. We need people to sing, play instruments, operate the sound board, run the worship computer and assist with livestream.  We need photographers, gardeners, cooks and carpenters.  Can you set up tables, move chairs, make phone calls, send greeting cards, vacuum or clean.  We need you!  There are more ways to serve in the church than you could ever imagine, and there is always room for more on the team. 

      Like Peter, you and I are called.  We are called to follow Jesus and we are called to serve him.  I know that everyone of you has something beautiful and precious to share in the work of Christ.  There is no greater joy or satisfaction than to be a part of the world changing work of God's kingdom.  If you have not found a place to jump in, please talk with your campus pastor or another ministry leader and we can help you get started.

    Have a great week.  I look forward to us all being together this Sunday as we continue our series on the life of Peter "Imperfect."

   God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Imperfect

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Imperfect

Have you ever looked at your own life and wondered "Why would God ever use the likes of me?"  Personally, I want to be used of God. I want to be a part of building his kingdom and fulfilling his mission. I pray I can be a significant part of the work of Christ. But then I look inward and think about the many ways I've messed up. I look at my own brokenness, my hang ups and my failings.

I think about the times I could have been courageous but instead was fearful, times I should have trusted God but doubted, moments I missed great opportunities to serve him. I suspect many of us have had those moments.  Our shortcomings and our imperfections cause us to doubt if God would really have a place for us in his kingdom work.

But the good news is that God is in the habit of using ordinary people, with all of our struggles, shortcomings and sin, to do great things. God seems to delight in using cracked vessels to bring living water into the world. And nowhere is that more evident than in the life of the apostle Peter.

Peter, the very first disciple that Jesus called, was an ordinary fisherman. He was no one special in the eyes of the world. He made mistakes. He was brash and outspoken, and yet at times fearful. At some of the most critical moments of his life he failed, even denied, Jesus.  In a word, he was imperfect. Yet Jesus called him to follow, and used him to build the very foundation of his church.

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Today is the beginning of Lent. Lent is that season of preparation leading up to the celebration of Easter. This Sunday we will begin a new series entitled "Imperfect."  In this series we will dig into the life Peter. Beginning with his call, we will follow Peter's journey of faith and his life with Christ.

I know you are going find Peter’s story both encouraging and inspiring as it is a powerful reminder of how God uses the ordinary and the imperfect to accomplish great things. We can see in the ways that Jesus uses Peter that, in spite of our frailties, every one of us has the potential to be world changers. I hope you will do all that you can to be with us in worship in these coming weeks for this important and impactful series.

Also, don't forget to change your clocks this Saturday night. It is "spring forward" so turn your clocks ahead. I know that puts worship an hour earlier, but we will have coffee ready when you arrive!

Have a great week.

God bless,

Pastor Steve

On another note, if you are not currently in a life group, we are launching a new 6-week study on the Lord's prayer. This brand new group begins this Sunday at our Plaistow campus at 4:45 pm.  This new group will combine engaging video based teaching with the opportunity for honest questions and dialogue. Walk-ins are welcome, but if you would like to pre-register, please drop a quick email to Sherry Lucia.

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Synergy

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Synergy

Can I share with you one of my favorite words? Its synergy.  In its simplest terms, synergy is the concept that we can do more together than we could ever do separately. In other words, when you put us together, the result is greater than the sum of the parts. In math, 1+1+1=3. But in ministry, with the synergy that comes from our combined gifts and abilities, 1+1+1 can equal 5, or 10 or 20 lives changed.

This is why I love being a multi-site church. Because of the sharing of gifts, resources, talents and abilities across our ministry, we are able to accomplish so much more for the kingdom of God then we could ever as three individual churches. For example, this week was our monthly women's event "Grow." I heard from a number of people how awesome and impactful that program was on Monday.  We were able to offer a program of that caliber because of the synergy of women from all of our campuses sharing their gifts for a single purpose. It allowed us to offer an opportunity for spiritual growth that none of our campus as individual churches could ever have done. That is just one example, of course. We see that synergy expressed over and over again at Rock Church. And every time that happens, we are able to have a greater impact for the kingdom of God than we ever could have otherwise.

One of my priorities for us in this coming year is to continue to build on our synergy. My goal is to find greater and greater ways that we can multiply the gifts that God has given us here at Rock Church for the greatest kingdom impact possible. For us to see that great impact, there are a number of things we can do in order to build synergy.

Mark your calendar: For Our Community Day 2019 will be held on Saturday May 18,

Mark your calendar: For Our Community Day 2019 will be held on Saturday May 18,

  •    We can constantly remind ourselves that here a Rock Church we are ONE Church in many locations.

  •   When we share our gifts, we can think about the impact we can have ministry wide, not just in our campus.

  •    We can network across locations, using our gifts in combination with others.

  •    We can share resources, supplies, equipment and space across campuses in a way that strengthens our overall work.

  •    We can collaborate across ministry areas in a way that advances our overall mission.

Well, you get the idea. With a little thought and creativity you can probably come up with a dozen more ways we can build synergy. In the end, what matters is the mission.  God has called us to the great work of bringing the hope of Christ to many who do not yet know him. It's a big job. But when we pull our gifts and resources together in a way that creates synergy, we can accomplish more for Christ than we ever imagined.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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In Just Four Weeks . . .

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In Just Four Weeks . . .

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In exactly four weeks it will be the first day of spring! That means at least three important things. The days will be longer. The birds will be singing. And our "For Our Community Day" will be right around the corner. Last year, for the very first time, we organized this massive community service day. We had hundreds of volunteers spread over dozens of community service projects, all intended to bless our communities.

This year we hope to grow it even bigger. But we will need your help. A project of this size requires an amazing team of people to serve in various capacities before, during and after the event.  Here are some of the ways you could help us make this event even greater than last year.

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  • We need team leaders. We need people who can help before the event to plan projects, logistics, marketing, food, set up, break down and more. We also need many site leaders to oversee the teams on the day of the work.

  • We need projects. If you are aware of a potential service project, we want to hear about it. We would love to double the number of projects we were able to do last year.  You can help us identify new additional projects.

  • We need donations. We will need donations of water and snacks for the work teams and dessert for the barbecue after the work is done. We would also welcome financial donations for supplies and other expenses.

  • We need participants. That means two things. First, of course, we need you to plan to join us on that day. We would also love it if you would invite your friend, neighbor or co-worker. This event is not only about the work we accomplished. It is also about doing it together with our neighbors in a way that allows churched and "not yet churched" folks to build relationships.

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There is one more thing you can do. This Saturday morning we will have our first planning meeting. If you think you might like to help in any way in preparing the event, if you might consider being a team leader, or if you just want to hear more about the event, we invite you to join us this Saturday at 9 a.m. at our Plastow campus.

I believe this will be an amazingly impactful outreach event. Mark your calendars for Saturday May 18th. You will absolutely not want to miss this.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Love is . . .

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Love is . . .

Can you imagine how this could change the world? That was the question I ended my message with on Sunday. After working phrase by phrase through the Apostle Paul’s description of what love is, I couldn’t help but ask “What if?” In the 13th chapter of his first letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul explains to them that love is patient, love is kind, love is humble, it seeks what is best for others. It is not easily angered. Love forgives. Can you imagine how it would impact our relationships, our families, our workplaces and our communities, if every one of us actually loved one another with the kind of love that Jesus has shown us?

Save the Date:  For Our Community Day 2019 will be Saturday May 18.

Save the Date: For Our Community Day 2019 will be Saturday May 18.

We are living in a world where many are not patient, are not kind to one another, are not humble. We are living in a culture of offense where people are quick to become angry and slow to forgive. In our world, people are often more concerned about themselves than they are about others. But what if we could flip that narrative? From its very beginning, the Christian faith has been a movement of love. This was the example Jesus gave us. Love is at the heart of the writings of Paul, John and others. Love IS the movement.

Every movement starts somewhere. What if this one started with us? By us I mean you and I, our church, our community. Can you imagine the difference that would make, the impact it would have, if we genuinely treated one another with the kind of love that Paul describes in this passage? It would be transformational. It would be revolutionary. So here is my idea. Let’s begin in the most natural place. Lets begin in our families; our biological families and our church family. In our homes, with our families, let’s treat one another with extraordinary patience, kindness and humility. Let’s be slow to become angry and quick to forgive. Let us love our families as Christ has loved us.

And in our church family, right here in Rock Church, let us display the radical love of Christ in how we treat one another, in how we speak to others and how we speak about them. Let us choose to live unoffended. Let us be a people of extreme grace. After all, that is what Jesus has done for us. Let us build one another up in love (I Thes. 5:11). Let us support and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we could truly one another with this selfless love of Jesus, not only would it be life changing to each of us, but it would be irresistible to those who do not yet know Jesus. There is nothing more winsome, more invitational, than a body of believers who truly love one another.

I pray that our whole family, each and every one of us, will be together this week in worship as we continue our series “Love Is . . . “

God bless,

Pastor Steve

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Everyone is meant to Grow...

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Everyone is meant to Grow...

Dear Friends,

Did you know that at any given moment we have between 30 and 40 LifeGroups meeting here at Rock Church? Many of those meet in one of our buildings, but we also have quite a number that gather in people's homes. At last count over half of our active adults were engaged in a life group. That’s awesome!

Let me tell you why I'm so excited about that. LifeGroups are at the very heart of our mission. At Rock Church, the mission is to reach and disciple people for Christ. The "reach" is all about connecting people to Jesus who do not yet know him. Or perhaps reconnecting those who have wandered away from an active relationship with him. The "disciple" part of our mission is all about helping people who have come to know Jesus to grow deeper in their faith. This is where life groups become so important. Life groups at Rock Church are a place where believers, and even seekers, can develop relationships with other Christ followers. They are a place where we can love and care for one another by doing life together. They are also a place where we can dig into the word of God and grow deeper in our understanding of the Christian faith. Ultimately, life groups are your best opportunity to grow and mature in Christ.

So I'm very excited about how many of you have already found your way into a LifeGroup (some of you two or three groups!)  And I am grateful for all of you who lead groups, and those of you who open your homes to host groups. I am also so appreciative of the leadership that Ed and Sherry Lucia give to our LifeGroup ministry. LifeGroups are such a wonderful place of community and growth that I often hear people say that it is the highlight of their week.  Honestly, I would love for every person in our congregation to have that same experience. If you are not yet in a LifeGroup, I hope you will check out the opportunities at www.RockLifeGroups.org. There are so many groups gathering at different times, and on different days, that there is bound to be something that fits your schedule. From time to time we also offer short-term groups. These short term opportunities are a great way to sample LifeGroups and discover what they are all about.

We have a saying here at Rock Church.  "Everyone is meant to grow."  I believe it is God's desires that every one of us would grow deeper in relationship with him and in our love for one another.  LifeGroups are one of the best opportunities we have to do just that.

Have a great week. Don’t forget that we are at day 30 of our prayer challenge.  Please consider making LifeGroups a special focus of your intentional prayer time today.

God bless,

Pastor Steve

PS Here are some exciting opportunities this Saturday:

Rock Church Tech Team is looking for Volunteers!

Benefits include:
Early Entrance to music events/services, Reserved Seating, Backstage Passes and Wi-Fi Access!

Looking for volunteers for ALL campuses in ALL areas
Sound - Projection/Video - Lighting
More info at the Volunteer Invitational
Sat, Feb 9th at 10 am at the Plaistow Campus

The Tech Team works in conjunction with our Music Ministry to inspire people to pursue God through worship and creativity.  Our goal is to create an atmosphere conducive to worship without distraction.

The Trust Without Borders Mission Team invites you to Celebrate Love

Join us at Rock Church North Shore in Amesbury, MA on February 9th, 2019 5:30 -10:00 PM for an evening of quality time with your loved one, meeting other couples and learning to dance.

Heidi and Larry Mongeau have taught various dance classes professionally for over 15 years. They will be teaching a dance called “The Nightclub Two Step”. Don’t wait get your tickets today!!! Tickets Start $30

See a team member or email Jessica Pontes @ jpontes320@aol.com for details.

 

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A Good Time to Say Thank You!

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A Good Time to Say Thank You!

Dear Friends,

Sunday, for the first time in a very long time, we canceled worship at all locations. I have to confess, I really didn't want to. I hate to use the word hate, but I hate missing worship. I love seeing everyone. I love being together. And I love it when we worship God together as a family. But what really tip the scale for me was the recognition that it takes dozens and dozens of volunteers to fully staff our Sunday morning experiences. Plow trucks and shovelers, musicians and hospitality teams, nursery workers and children's ministry, life group leaders and worship leaders, the list goes on and on.

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And to be honest, my concern was not that our volunteer servants would not show up. To the contrary, I was concerned that many would come out in spite of the dangerous conditions. We have an amazing team of people who are incredibly committed, and I just didn't want to put any of our folks in harm's way driving in the snow, sleet and freezing rain. That got me thinking about how blessed we are to have such great, sacrificial servants in our ministry. I could not be more proud of, or more grateful for, the hundreds of folks in our church who have found a place to invest their time, talents and gifts in the service of Christ and his church.

So I think this would be a great time to say thank you.

  • Thank you to the people who keep our parking lots cleared, our walkways shoveled and our buildings in great shape.

  • Thank you to our hospitality teams, to those who prepare food, and our baristas who make coffee every week.

  • Thank you to our nursery workers, children's and youth ministry volunteers who pour faith into the next generation.

  • Thank you to our small group leaders who create community and lead our discipleship efforts.

  • Thank you to our musicians and worship leaders who prepare every week to bring us into the presence of God through Sunday worship, CR and Thursday Dinner Church.

  • Thank you to our prayer teams who intercede for our ministry and who pray with those in need every week.

  • Thank you to those in our care ministry, our mission teams and others in outreach who show the love of Jesus to the hurting, the lost and the lonely.

  • And thank you to countless other servants of Christ who work in greatly unseen and unheralded supportive roles that make the ministry of Rock Church possible.

     I love and appreciate every one of you.

At Rock Church we believe that every person is gifted to serve. You have gifts and abilities that are needed for the work of Christ. If you've not yet found your place of service, I would invite you to speak with a ministry leader or your Campus Pastor. They will gladly help you find a place on the team.

In Christ,

Pastor Steve

PS, this is a great time to mention the 'Tech Team Info Fair.’  Come and explore what is involved in joining this amazing team of volunteers who work behind the scenes to make all things tech awesome at Rock Church.  This will take place on Saturday February 9th at 10 am at our Plaistow Campus. If you think you might be interested in serving in this area, we invite you to come and hear these opportunities

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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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