Reflections on 9-11

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Reflections on 9-11

Dear Friends,

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

 First Responders at the Plaistow 9-11 observance

First Responders at the Plaistow 9-11 observance

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

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

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

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

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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I Can't Wait . . .

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I Can't Wait . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless,

    Pastor Steve

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Bring a Friend

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Bring a Friend

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    Wow, what a summer this has been!  This morning I went out early to walk and pray.  I began to reflect on what an amazing summer of ministry this has been.  Golf Tournament, For Our Community day, Honduras Mission trip, Soulfest, two weeks of Day Camp, Men’s Retreat, two Salisbury Beach Concerts (actually one of those is tonight), Plaistow Old Home Day, Amesbury Days and more (and we still have Sandown Old Home Day to come on Sept 8).  Every one of these events has been an opportunity to advance our mission to share Jesus and to help people grow deeper in faith.

     On Sunday September 9 we will have our Rock Church Fall Kick Off!  This day marks the beginning of a new season of NextGen (our Sunday morning children’s program), the launch of new Lifegroups and the beginning of a great new series entitled “Follow the Leader!” I would like to declare September 9th a “Bring a Friend” Sunday.  Throughout the summer we have been sowing seeds, making connections and building relationships.  Fall is a perfect time to extend an invitation for a friend or neighbor to join us at Rock Church.  If you were fortunate enough to meet someone new at one of our summer outreach events, this would be the perfect time to reconnect and invite them to join us.

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     For those who attend at our Plaistow campus, I wanted to share some exciting news with you.  This summer we experimented with a new service schedule (9:00 and 10:30 am).  The response to the new schedule has been overwhelmingly positive, so we have decided to continue the schedule into the fall.  We will also be offering NextGen at both service times.  I am super excited about this!

     I also want to let you know that our Newburyport campus is gearing up to expand to Sunday mornings, while continuing to offer the Thursday night dinner worship.  We are going to begin Sunday morning services by doing a few monthly “preview services” as we build a full team there and work out the logistics of Sunday worship in our new space.  The first of those will be on October 21.  We are looking for “missionaries” who are willing to be a part of the launch team for our Newburyport Campus.  You will be hearing more about that soon.

      Have a great week.  Join us this Sunday at any of our Rock Church locations.  If you are traveling, join us on-line or catch the rebroadcast on Monday.  We have a message this Sunday that you will not want to miss.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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Great Fall Kickoff!

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Great Fall Kickoff!

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     I love the fall in New England!  While I’m not trying to rush the final wonderful weeks of summer, I am looking forward to a great autumn.  Not only is it an incredibly beautiful time of year, it is also the time that our ministry gets back into full swing.  This year we are going to mark the launch of a new school year and a new season of ministry with a great fall kickoff on Sunday September 9th. 

     That day we will begin an awesome new series entitled “Follow the Leader.”  In this new series, we will work our way, chapter by chapter through the Gospel of Mark as we explore what it really means to be a follower of Jesus.  You will not want to miss a single week of this series.

     This great fall kickoff will also mark the beginning of a new year of our NextGen children’s program and LifeGroups .  With all the children and families we had an opportunity to connect to at Day Camp, we are expecting to see God do great things in this new year of NextGen.  And we have some great new LifeGroups coming this fall. 

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     We are also going to use this September 9th Great Fall Kickoff as an opportunity for invitation.  We have invitation post cards that we will have available for everyone to use.  Please begin praying now about who you will invite.  We are also going to be mailing invitation cards to people who have visited our church in recent months.  We need people who would be able to help us write some personalized post cards that we can send out in the next couple of weeks.  If you can help with this, please email Lynette

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      By the time you read this we will be about half way through our second week of Day Camp.  It has been an amazing blessing to the kids.  I want to personally thank everyone who volunteered!  What an awesome team.  I also want to remind you that this weekend is our Men’s Retreat.  Please keep them all in prayer that God would use this weekend to draw all of them closer to Him.

      Have a blessed week.  Don’t forget that this Sunday we wrap up our At The Movies Series with a clip from one of the biggest movie franchises of all time.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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By Our Love

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By Our Love

Dear Friends,

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     Do you ever wake up with a song in your head that you can’t seem to shake?  Even though I had not sung this song in years, I woke up this morning with “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” playing in my head.  It was a song we sang 40 years ago around the campfire at Camp Wanakee.  While the song itself was simplistic and repetitive (like many church camp songs and praise choruses of its time) the truth of that chorus endures.  Other will know that we are followers of Jesus by the way we love one another and others.

     I’ll confess, that is not always easy.  I had an experience this week where, because of the incompetence and indifference on the part of another person, a situation became much more difficult and frustrating than it needed to be.  To be very honest, in the midst of that experience I was not feeling very loving. Ever been there? 

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     When we are confronted by frustration, disappointment, anger or hurt, it can be hard to respond with the love of God. But these are the moments when it is all the more important that we maintain our love.  This is our witness.  This is the way others see Jesus in us and through us.  Can you imagine how different our church, our community, our world would be if in all things we responded with love.  I’m not always good at that, but it is what I’m striving for.  And on those days when I begin to lose sight of that, God sends me a song.  “And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.  Yes they'll know we are Christians by our love.”

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     I do want to take a moment to celebrate this week’s day camp at our Sandown campus.  We’re about half way through the week and it has been awesome!  We have a great group of kids, an amazing team of volunteers, and the Spirit of God is all over this program.  Facebook has been lit up with great pictures and encouraging comments from parents raving about the program.  What a great way to bless our community and share the good news of Jesus.  I will tell you that on Friday, after the closing BBQ with the families, we could really use some help breaking down and cleaning up.  We also have to get everything reset in Plaistow for the second week of camp.  So if you can spare an hour or so beginning around 5:30 pm on Friday in Sandown, or at 9:00 am Saturday morning in Plaistow, I know the team would be so grateful.  Many hands would make light work.

      This Sunday we continue our series “At the Movies.” There are only a couple of weeks left and we’ve saved the best movies for last.  You will not want to miss this Sunday!

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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What a week!

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What a week!

Dear Friends,

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     What an amazing time we’ve had at Rock Church this past week!   First, we had a group of approximately 120 people attend Soulfest.  We worshipped together every morning.  We had daily life groups.  We shared meals and great conversations. We prayed, laughed and cried.  Testimonies were share that moved our hearts closer to God.  And we concluded the week with an amazing outdoor worship that included over 20 baptisms.  Oh, and we also saw some amazing concerts (many of them in the rain!)

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     This past Saturday we also had our first ever community outreach event at our newest campus in Newburyport.  Pastor Paul and a great group of volunteers set up an outreach booth and a couple of inflatables for the kids.  Before the rain came down at lunch time, the team had a chance to interact with hundreds of guests, sharing the love of Jesus and an invitation to worship.  If you have not been following what is happening in Newburyport, it is pretty exciting.  They have their own storefront space.  They have been doing a Thursday evening dinner and worship every week with a growing core group.  And in October we will be launching Sunday morning worship.  To do that, we are going to be looking for some missionaries to help with that launch.  You will hear more about that in the weeks to come.

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     At the same time, a great group of volunteers have been preparing for Day Camp. We will offer two weeks of Rock Day Camp this year, beginning in Sandown next Monday (Aug. 13) and in Plaistow the following Monday (Aug. 20).  We have already maxed out our registration with over 150 kids signed up.  These two weeks are going to be EPIC!   And they are a great way for us to connect with unchurched families in our communities.  We could still use a few more volunteers, particularly for Sandown.  If you think you might be able to help in any way, please email Glenda Maglio.  

     This weekend we will continue our series “At the Movies.”  I’m not going to tell you what the movie clip is, but I will give you a hint.  Can you picture a 50 foot high Stay Puft Marshmallow man?   The scene may seem a little absurd, but there is an underlying lesson that is life changing.  Trust me, you will not want to miss it!

      I look forward to us being together this Sunday for a great time of worship.  Have a blessed week.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

 

 

 

 

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Finding Your Joshua

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Finding Your Joshua

    On Sunday we talked about the Biblical concept of mentoring.  Looking at the life of Moses, we see that he had Jethro and Joshua.  Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was a mentor to him.  Joshua was the young man that Moses mentored.  It was Joshua who went on to lead the nation of Israel after Moses died.  And it was Joshua who lead Israel into the Promise Land.  We all need a Jethro, someone who is pouring into our lives to help us grow.  And we all need a Joshua.  We all ought to have someone in our lives that we are investing in. 

 We have over 100 people attending Soulfest with Rock Church.  Pray for us for a great week.

We have over 100 people attending Soulfest with Rock Church.  Pray for us for a great week.

     So who is your Joshua?  Is there a young person in your life that you are investing in?  Is there someone you are helping to grow and mature in wisdom and knowledge, someone you are helping discover faith?  There are many ways to serve God, but mentoring a young person is one of the most impactful.  Think about the impact that Joshua had as the leader of Israel.  He was able to do that because of the investment Moses made in his life.  Can you imagine the ripple effect?   When we invest in the life of a young person, there is a multiplying effect as they, in turn, impact the lives of others.

     There are many ways to do this, but the first step is almost always proximity.  In other words, we have to put ourselves in situations where we will have the opportunity to talk with a young person, hear their story and get to know them.  That might mean volunteering as the coach of a team or a scout leader.  Or it may mean helping in some capacity in a children’s or youth program in the church.  It would be nearly impossible to overstate the importance of this area of ministry.  It is at this stage that a foundation is being formed upon which a person will build their entire life.

 Men's Retreat is coming up Aug 24-26.  Men, there is still time to register.

Men's Retreat is coming up Aug 24-26.  Men, there is still time to register.

     One opportunity to serve in this area is coming up very soon through our Summer Day Camp program.  This year we are doing two weeks of Day Camp.  From August 13-17 we will offer the program in Sandown.  Then August 20-24 we will host Day Camp in Plaistow.  I know we still have some opportunities to serve at both.  But right now we would particularly like to fill out the Sandown team.  You don’t have to be available all day or all week to help.  We can use help in various shifts throughout the week.  Day camp is a great way to invest in the lives of young people, many of whom do not yet have a relationship with Jesus.  Imagine the difference you could make at this critical stage of a young person’s life.  If you would like to know more about how you can get involved, please email Glenda.  There will also be a volunteer meeting this week on Thursday August 2 at 6:30 pm at our Sandown campus. 

      Speaking of mentoring, our biggest youth event of the year, Soulfest is this week.  Please keep us in your prayers for a great week and for God to move powerfully in the hearts of our youth. 

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Who is your "one?"

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Who is your "one?"

Dear Friends,

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     On the wall in my office, right in front of me as I sit at my computer, is a plaque that says “One Matters.”  Our church received the plaque about a year ago when we received the “One Matters” award from our denomination.  The One Matters award is given to churches in recognition of excellence in evangelism.  That plaque has been on my wall for a while now.   And as often happens, it has begun to blend into the background.  It is actually no less visible than it was the day I hung it up there.  I’ve just gotten so used to it being there that I don’t always notice it now.

     But for some reason, today I did notice it again.  As I reread it, I began to think about the meaning and power of those words “One Matters.”  There is a worship song we sing, Reckless Love, that says that God leaves the ninety-nine to seek after the one.  The lyrics are taken from the parable of the lost sheep found in the gospels of Luke and Matthew.  The award, the song, the scripture reminds us that “One Matters.” At the heart of the gospel is the truth that every lost soul, every broken life, every hurting person matters to God. 

 A few of our Garden club ladies taking a well earned rest.

A few of our Garden club ladies taking a well earned rest.

     I believe all of us need to have a “one.”   Who is your one person, the one you are praying for every day to come to know Jesus?   Who is the one person you are trying to share faith with?  Who is the one person you are inviting to come and experience the love of Jesus?  I want to encourage all of us to have a “one” because every “one” matters.  Can you imagine the impact it would have on our church and on our community if each of us reached just one person for Christ?  

    Everyone needs Jesus.  But sometimes when we look at the vast number of people in our world who do not yet know him, it can feel overwhelming.  How could we ever reach all those people?  But I want to encourage us to think about it differently.  Rather than focus on the crowd, focus on the one.  Focus your prayers, your efforts, your outreach, your invitation on the “one” that God has put on your heart to reach.  Think about it.  If every follower of Jesus would reach just one, we could win the world for Christ in this generation.  Who is your “one?”

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

P.S. Those of you who have been on one of our Texas Mission trips might like to know that Texas Steve is coming up this weekend.  He and Libby will be in worship with us at the 8:45 am service in Sandown.

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Greater Things

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Greater Things

Dear Friends,

     This week I have been reading from the Book of John.  In his account of Jesus’ life, he records these words that Jesus said to his disciples. “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these.”  I believe these words were meant not only for the disciples in the early church, but for every generation of believers that would follow.  And yet, it seems unimaginable that we would do even greater things than Jesus himself.  Jesus healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, even raised the dead.  Jesus fed the masses and taught thousands.  Is it really possible that we would do greater things? 

 Soulfest is coming up in less than 2 weeks.  If you would like to attend , you need to register right away.   We only have a few tickets left.

Soulfest is coming up in less than 2 weeks.  If you would like to attend, you need to register right away.  We only have a few tickets left.

     As mind blowing, and humbling, as it is to imagine, it is absolutely possible that we would do greater things.  It was for this purpose that God sent his Holy Spirit to dwell within us.  That we, his disciples of today, might do greater things in His name.  Miracles?  Yes.  Feed the hungry and help those in need?  Without a doubt.  Proclaim the Good News to thousands?  Absolutely. 

     I sense in my spirit that God is preparing to do greater things in, and through, our church than we have ever seen.  I believe that in the coming months God is going to move powerfully in our midst.  I believe we are going to see young and old passionately pursuing Christ.  I believe we will see people make decisions for Christ and be saved for eternity at every service and in every location.  I believe we are going to see miracles.

     But I want to be clear than none of that is going to happen by our own strength.  Certainly, we must do what we can do; serve, invite, give, welcome, etc.  But we must rely on God to do what only He can do.  The Old Testament prophet Zechariah wrote “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.” When Jesus says we would do greater things, it is because of the spirit of God working within us.

     I know of no great movement of God that was not founded in prayer.  I would ask us to begin now praying for a great movement of God’s Holy Spirit to empower the work of our church.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would be at work in the hearts of seekers, drawing them towards a life changing relationship with Him.  Pray for our children and young people, that they would be on fire for Christ.  Pray for our long time Christians, that they would rediscover their first love, that passion for Jesus that they experienced when they first came to know him.  Pray for our worship, that every week it would be a joy filled, Spirit led celebration of who God is, and what he has done in our lives.

 Our CR program will be hosting a BBQ this Tuesday, July 24, beginning at 5:30 pm.  It is open to everyone.  It's a great opportunity to learn more about what CR is and the great things that are happening.   For more info on CR, click on this link.

Our CR program will be hosting a BBQ this Tuesday, July 24, beginning at 5:30 pm.  It is open to everyone.  It's a great opportunity to learn more about what CR is and the great things that are happening.  For more info on CR, click on this link.

     If you believe as I do that there is power in prayer, I want to extend to you an invitation.  In my prayer time this morning, I felt God say to me that we must pull together a team of Christ followers who are passionate about prayer to partner with me in praying for our church.  If you would like to be a part of this “Pastor’s Prayer Team” I would ask you to email me at steve@rock-church.org.  Send me your name and preferred email address.  Periodically, I will send out emails with areas of focus that I would ask you to pray for.  The only thing I ask is that when you receive one of these emails, that you actually stop and pray in the moment.  Then in your daily prayer time, continue to pray for this area of need or opportunity.

     I seriously believe that God is preparing to do greater things right here in Rock Church.  But I also believe we lay the foundation for that in prayer.  I invite you to join me in this intentional way.  Have a great rest of the week!  I look forward to us gathering for an amazing time of worship this Sunday.  You won’t want to miss it!

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Summertime!

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Summertime!

Dear Friends,

     I hope you enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July!  Summer is a great time at Rock Church.  Just last week we launched our summer series “At the Movies.  80’s Edition.”  We kicked off the series with a clip from “Field of Dreams” that led us into a powerful and thought-provoking conversation about a question every person asks: What happens when we die?  If you missed it, I would encourage you to catch the livestream recording at this link.  This week we have another great conversation coming based on a clip from . . . (watch my FB feed for a hint.  Friend me while you're there!).

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      One of the great summer events that Rock Church participates in each year is Soulfest.  This is an amazing 3 day Christian music festival held up at Gunstock.  If you are interested in attending but have not yet registered, we still have a few tickets.  Check out all this info at this link.  Regarding Soulfest, I also want to let you know about an opportunity to make a real difference in a young person’s life.  We have dozens of young people who go with us to Soulfest.  It is literally the highlight of their summer.  Every year at Soulfest we have unchurched youth who attend having been invited by a friend.  These young people spend a week immersed in great Christian music, worship, small groups and community.  And every year we have young people return home having made the decision to place Jesus Christ as the center of their lives.

       But every year we have some young people who would like to go, but simply don’t have the means.  The full cost for the event for the ticket, the campsites and all meals is $150.  To help some of these young people who would like to go but cannot afford the full cost, we try to provide half scholarships.  If you would consider providing one or more $75 scholarship, each one would allow another child to attend.  You can give right on line at this link or you can drop a check in the offering with Soulfest scholarship in the memo line.  If you are intending to help out with a scholarship, please email Sheri Williams to let her know, we will set aside a ticket for that youth before they are all gone.

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       A couple of other great things coming up this summer that I want to highlight are Day Camp and the Men’s retreat.  We will have a week of Day Camp at our Sandown campus and a week at our Plaistow campus.  For more information or to register, go to this link.  If you would be interested in helping, please email Glenda.   Men’s retreat is coming up on August 24-26.  This great event is open to men and young men of our church and community.  For more info or to register, click on this link.

       One final item I would like to talk to you about is summer giving.  Because so many folks travel during the summer, it always seems to happen that our church falls behind financially during these months.  Something that would be incredibly helpful is if you would consider setting up your tithing on some form of recurring giving.  We basically offer 3 ways to do that.

·         EFT (electronic fund transfer).  This is a paper form you fill out to set up electronic giving from your bank to the church on a schedule you set.

·         On line giving through your computer or mobile app.  This is similar to eft but done through an online form.  Along with your online giving, this page allows you to pay for your registration for Soulfest, men’s retreat, day camp, etc. right on line.

·         Text Giving.  This form of giving is super easy to set up and use.  We’ve put together a 3 step instruction page at this link.  Text giving can only be done through a credit or debit card.  To do bank transfer, you have to use one of the other two.

I believe in the work that God has called us to as a church.  I also believe that tithing is an important spiritual practice that helps us to grow in faith.  By setting up automated recurring giving, we have the assurance of knowing that our stewardship and our support of the work of Rock Church is consistent, even when we are away.  Be bold in your generosity and see how God honors a generous heart!

Have a great rest of the week!  I look forward to us gathering for joyful, uplifting worship this Sunday.  You won’t want to miss it!

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Amazing!

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Amazing!

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Can I just say that Saturday was amazing!   We had over 250 people (267 to be exact) participate in our first ever “For Our Community” day of serving.  We had preschoolers and octogenarians, men and women, professionals and novices working side by side to make a difference in our communities.  Since the event I’ve heard wonderful stories of how God worked to provide for the needs of the day and brought it all together.  For example, yesterday I heard about the paint store owner who not only provided the paint we needed for half price, but then took the day off to come and help us with the Sandown Central School project!  How cool is that?  I want to thank everyone who helped to make this day such a great success.  If you would like to see a few pictures from the day, check out this link.

I also want to take a moment to remind you that this Sunday we begin a new series “At the Movies: 80s Edition.”   All through this series we will use clips from some of the greatest and most memorable Hollywood blockbusters ever.  This week we will begin with a clip from one of my personal favorites “Field of Dreams.”   You won’t want to miss a single week of this series.  It’s going to be awesome.  This is also a good time to remind us that in Plaistow we have begun our new Sunday worship schedule of 9:00 and 10:30 am.

 Men's BBQ  Monday July 9th

Men's BBQ  Monday July 9th

 Day Camp Aug 13-17 & Aug 20-24

Day Camp Aug 13-17 & Aug 20-24

There are a few other things I want to quickly remind us about.  Men, remember in the summer we don’t do First Monday or Men’s Breakfast.  In their place, we have the Men’s BBQ coming up next Monday, July 9th and the Men’s Retreat on the weekend of August 24-26.  You can find more info at this Link.  Parents, registration is now open for Rock Day Camp.  This has become the premiere event of the summer for our kids.  You can get more info at this link.   Youth and families, Soulfest is right around the corner.  For more info or to register, click on this link.

One final thing I want to talk about is summer giving.  As I’m sure you know, summer is a time when families will often vacation or travel.  Here at Rock Church we celebrate those special family times.  The one challenge that often creates for our church is that giving can be very inconsistent during the summer.  If you are not already set up for some form of e-giving, summer is a great time to get started with that.  E-giving allows you to set up recurring giving in a way that is simple and easily managed.  Personally, Nicole and I have used e-giving for years.  We love it.  We believe in the work of our church and the importance of supporting it in a consistent way.  E-giving makes that possible even when we are away.  There are several different ways to set up e-giving.  There is EFT (a paper form you fill out), on-line giving (done through your computer or an app on your phone), and there is text giving done through your phone.  At this link, you will find helpful instructions for all three.  If you have a smart phone, I think text giving is probably the quickest and easiest, but they are all great options.

Have a great rest of the week!  I look forward to us gathering for our new At The Movies series this Sunday.

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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A Big Week!

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A Big Week!

Dear Friends,

This is a big week for us at Rock Church.  Thursday marks the beginning of the Amesbury Days, Saturday is our For Our Community day of serving and on Sunday we begin a new Sunday worship schedule at our Plaistow location. 

Amesbury Days is a week long community celebration that begins on Thursday June 28 with the Block Party.  Our Amesbury Campus is situated right in the heart of this huge Main Street event.  It is an awesome opportunity to connect with our unchurched friends and neighbors.  We will have a booth set up giving away water, freeze pops, coffee and more.  We will also have an inflatable for the kids.  And all around us will be food vendors, booths, games, activities and entertainment.  If you would like to help, please contact Pastor Jon.

I suspect you all know what our For Our Community Day is by now, but if you would like to know more, check it out here.  I will say that if you haven’t registered yet to help out with one of the 14 service projects we will be leading, it’s not too late.  Click on this link to go directly to the registration page.

And finally, I just want to remind you that this Sunday is July 1st.  That means we will be launching our new Summer worship schedule at our Plaistow location.  I know you will really love this new 9:00 am and 10:30 am morning schedule.  It will allow you to attend worship and still have time for special events and outings with the family. 

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One final thing.  I want to give you a sneak peak at our new Summer series.  Beginning July 8th we will premiere “At the Movies: 80’s Edition.”   We will be drawing important spiritual truths from some of the greatest movies of all time, including Field of Dreams, Indiana Jones, Karate Kid, the Princess Bride and other classics.  This is going to be a fun, engaging series where we will draw important life lessons from some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters.  In week one we will take on what, according to Google, is the most frequently asked questions in life.  You won't want to miss a single week.  And by the way, the popcorn is free!  

Have a great rest of the week!

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Let Summer Begin!

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Let Summer Begin!

Dear Friends,

This week we celebrate the official first day of summer.   I know that in some traditions, the church virtually shuts down during the summer.  Not so for Rock Church.  Summer is one of the busiest, most active, most exciting times of the year for us.  While there are some ministry areas that take a brief sabbath, we have a ton of awesome special events during the summer.

I don’t want you to miss out on any of these great opportunities, so I would like to take a moment to highlight some summer event you will want to know about.

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·This Saturday, June 23rd, is Plaistow’s Old Home Day.  We will be participating in the festivities with an outreach booth and as part of the parade.  If you would like to help at the booth, please drop us an email at this link.

·Amesbury Days begin June 28th with the block party.  We will also sponsor the Pancake Breakfast and have a booth at the fire works (both on July 4th.)  If you would like to help with this, email at this link.

·For Our Community Day.  I’m sure by now you have heard about this.  We already have over 200 people participating in the day in a wide variety of ways.  For more information or to sign up to help at one of the projects, please click on this link.

·New Summer schedule for our Plaistow Campus.  Beginning July 1 we will be going to a 9:00 am and 10:30 am service schedule at Rock Plaistow.  This will allow people to get an earlier start and still have the opportunity to enjoy great summer outings and events.

·Summer Day Camp.  We will again be offering great summer day camp programs in both Sandown and Plaistow in August.  For all the details, go to rockdaycamp.org.  Registration is now open and it is only $29 for a week long full day program.  Invite your friends and neighbors.

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·Soulfest.  We will be taking a large group of youth and family campers to Soulfest again this year.  Soulfest takes place the first week of August.  To register or for more information, click on this link.

·Grounded.  Our monthly youth drop in program is open this Friday night, June 22.  Additional summer dates for Grounded include July 27 and August 24.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.  Fun. Games. Food. Music. Join us and bring a friend. For youth in grades 6-12. 

Believe it or not, there is more.  Men’s and Women’s BBQs, a great new “At the Movies” summer series, men’s retreat.  The list goes on.  Check out all these great summer events HERE.  This is going to be a hot summer at Rock Church.  You won’t want to miss a moment. 

Have a great rest of the week.  We’ll see you Sunday!

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Why FOC?

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Why FOC?

Dear Friends,

            By now you have probably heard me speak of the For Our Community day coming up on Saturday June 30th.  I’ve talked a lot about the what and the how.  What is it?  How will it work?  How do I sign up?  You can get all those answers at www.forourcommunity.org.  But today I would like to talk about the why.  Why are we doing this event?  Why am I so excited about it?  Why does it matter?

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     There are at least 3 big reason why I am excited about this event.  First, it is an opportunity to express the love of Jesus in our communities in a very tangible way.  We are going to help, repair, beautify, improve and enhances schools, libraries, recreation areas, a fire department, a youth camp for under privileged kids, a ministry to the poor and homeless and more.  In one day, through hundreds of volunteer service hours, we are going to make a genuine positive impact in our communities.  That’s awesome!

      The second reason I think this day is so important is because we will do it side by side with others.  That will mean two things.  It will be an opportunity for us to build relationships with other Rock Church members that we may not have previously known.  It will also be an opportunity to work side by side with our unchurched neighbors.  Building relationships with people who do not yet know Jesus is the first step in sharing our faith.  Working side by side to “do good” in our community is a great way to break down the barriers that sometimes separate believers from those who have not yet come to know Jesus.

     A third reason I think this For Our Community day matters is because it begins to change the narrative. Sadly, people outside the church often have a “less than positive” impression of who Christians are.  In the media and in other ways, Christ followers are often portrayed as judgmental, self righteous and hypocritical.  But the Christians I know are loving, kind, generous, caring people.  When we love, serve and bless our community, I believe it helps people to see the church in a different light. 

 Join us Sunday as we continue our series Neighboring!

Join us Sunday as we continue our series Neighboring!

      So those are some of reasons I believe you are going to want to be a part of this day.  But let me give you one more “why.”   It is going to be a blast!   Sure, it will be work.  But we will get work side by side with some great people.  We will get to make some new friends.  And after the work is done we are going to have a great party!  You can pick your project and sign up right now at www.forourcommunity.org.

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

Speaking of For Our Community, on Saturday June 23 we will be participating in the Plaistow Old Home Day.  we are looking for a few volunteers to take a shift in the booth greeting guests, giving away water, etc.  If you can help, please email Pastor Jon.

 

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Let the countdown begin

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Let the countdown begin

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     Let the countdown begin.   The “For Our Community” day of serving is less than 4 weeks away.  I believe this is going to be one of the best outreach events we have ever organized at Rock Church.  But we need everyone’s help.  So here is my Top Ten countdown of how you could help make this event an amazing success.

10) Donate baked goods or water to be available at the worksites.

9) Help us put out lawn signs.  We need 10 people to put out 10 signs each in different communities.

8) Invite a group you are a part of.  Are you in a scout troop, LIONS club, martial arts studio, community group, club or other organization?  Invite them to participate (We’ll get you some invite cards to share.)

  Help us get out lawn signs on everyone community!

Help us get out lawn signs on everyone community!

7) Choose your project and sign up your family, your friends and yourself this week.  We need to plan for food and T-shirts, so the sooner you sign up the better prepared we can be.

6) Put out posters and invite cards.  We’d like to distribute these any place the public will see them. 

5) Help with the prep.  There is a lot of behind the scenes work to be done.  We can still use additional volunteers to be on the set up team, clean up team, and project planning team. 

4) Participate in the golf tournament. As you can probably imagine, there will be some cost to putting on the For Our Community day.  A portion of the proceeds from the golf tournament will help fund this event.  To sign up to play or be a hole sponsor, go to this link.

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3) Did I mention sign up early?   That is so important and helpful.  Here is the direct link to the sign up page.

2) Help us talk it up.  We want to invite the whole community to be a part of this great event.  One great way to do this is to talk it up on social media.  We’ve set up an event on Facebook that you can share with your friends at this link. Let people know you are participating and invite them to do the same.  Additionally, if you have connections with a newspaper, radio station, television station or other media outlet that might help us share the invitation broadly, please let me know.

1) PRAY.  I am looking for prayer partners who are willing to pray every day leading up to June 30th that God would use this outreach to bless our communities and help us connect to our unchurched neighbors.  If you are willing to commit to daily prayer for this, please let me know.

     Email me to help in any of these “Top Ten” ways or follow the link provided.  I know in my heart that God is going to do great things through this event.  You will not want to miss it!

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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What a weekend!

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What a weekend!

Dear Friends,

 Thank you to all who helped with the Blessing of the Bikes on Saturday!

Thank you to all who helped with the Blessing of the Bikes on Saturday!

     First I just want to say “Praise God!” for what we experienced this past Sunday as we celebrated Pentecost together.  We had great, joyful, powerful experiences at all locations.  And at our Plaistow campus we got to do something very special.  On Easter we had a number of folks baptized by immersion at our Amesbury Campus.  This Pentecost Sunday we had 10 people baptized by immersion in worship in Plaistow.  What an exciting and inspiring worship that was! 

     Speaking of exciting, I want to share some excited news with you regarding this Summer.  First, we are going to be offering an all new “At the Movies” series that you are not only going to love, but will want to invite all your friends to.  We did a similar series a few years ago and it was our best attended Summer series ever!  You will hear more about that in a few week.

 New Series begins this Sunday!

New Series begins this Sunday!

      Also, beginning July 1 we will be introducing a new Summer schedule in Plaistow.  For some time I have felt that there was a better option for us than 9:45 and 11:11.  So, we are going to make a transition this Summer to a 9:00 am and 10:30 am worship schedule in Plaistow.  I think this is going to be excellent for our ministry for several reasons:

  1. It’s easier to remember.  Let’s be honest, 9:45 and 11:11 are not the most natural times to offer service.  This summer as we invite guests it will be much easier for them to remember 9 & 10:30.
  2. It offers an earlier option.  Particularly during the Summer, there will be weeks when people have travel plans or summer activities.  This 9:00 am service will give an earlier option that allows people to attend worship and still participate in other plans.
  3. It offers an earlier end time.  The 10:30 service allows the option of a somewhat later service, but still gets people out for other great family activities prior to noon (even with time for coffee after worship).
  4. It gives us more time between services.  While not a huge difference, it does give us a few extra minutes between services for better transitioning.
 Landscaping in Sandown

Landscaping in Sandown

     So spread the word.  Beginning July 1 we will have a new summer worship schedule in Plaistow and it’s going to be awesome!  Before I wrap up I want to take a moment to thank all those who came out on Saturday to help with landscaping and flowers at our Rock Sandown Campus.  Great job everyone!   It looks awesome.

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

 

 

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Pentecost!

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Pentecost!

Dear Friends,

     I’ve always loved Pentecost.   To me it is one of the most exciting days of the year for Rock Church.  The story of Pentecost is found in the book of Acts chapter 2.  It tells of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, placing within them the power of God to preach, teach, heal and serve.  It marks the birth of the Christian church and the beginning of the Great Commission! 

 Blessing of the Bikes is this Saturday, May 19, weather permitting.  Watch FB and email for any possible date change.

Blessing of the Bikes is this Saturday, May 19, weather permitting.  Watch FB and email for any possible date change.

     The great thing about this story is that it was not a one-time occurrence.  God’s Holy Spirit is as much with us today as it was with the first disciples.  Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, you and I have access to the power of God to do his work in this generation.  That’s awesome!  Because let’s be honest, the work of sharing Jesus and serving others in His name takes strength and courage.  Sometimes we may not feel like we have what it takes.  And that may be true.  On our own, we don’t have what it takes to live out all that God has called us to do and be.  But because we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, God’s presence, power and strength within us, we can do all things!

     I look forward to us being together this Sunday for the celebration of Pentecost.  We will be welcoming new members at several services.  At our Plaistow Campus we will celebrate baptism (by immersion, in the sanctuary!)  At all locations it is going to be a great time of joyful worship.  You will not want to miss it.

 We will be having a "Planting Party" this Saturday at our Sandown campus at 9:00 am.   Helpers welcome!

We will be having a "Planting Party" this Saturday at our Sandown campus at 9:00 am.   Helpers welcome!

     I also want to remind you to mark your calendar for June 30th.  On that day, we will hold our first “For Our Community” day of serving.  We are up to about a dozen projects so far spread over 9 communities.   This is going to be an amazing opportunity to bless our region in the name of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Just like that first Pentecost story, we get to be a part of a huge and visible movement of God by sharing his love throughout our communities!  We need you and all your friends to join us in this great effort.  And don’t forget that after we work through the morning, we will all come together at our Plaistow location for an amazing “after party.”  Food, music, games, activities, inflatables and train rides for the kids and more. 

     Registration officially opens on June 1.  However, we are already signing up help for the teams that are doing planning, preparation, set up, breakdown, etc.  If you would like to help with the work of bringing this great day to fruition, please visit www.forourcommunity.org to sign up.

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

 

 

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The Power of Stories

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The Power of Stories

Dear Friends,

 Don't forget we will be celebrating baptisms on Pentecost, May 20th, at our Plaistow location.

Don't forget we will be celebrating baptisms on Pentecost, May 20th, at our Plaistow location.

      I was reflecting on Sunday’s worship, and how moving it was to have Rick and Melissa share their story.  There is something powerful about stories, isn’t there?  Amazingly, there was much more to what they recorded than we even had time to share in worship.  I hope to show move from this amazing interview in which Rick shares powerfully about the difference that Monday Night Men’s Lifegroup has made in his life, and Melissa tell us how her daughters have been blessed by our Nextgen ministry.  It was awesome! 

     I think we need to share more stories.  Every day people’s lives are being impacted in profound ways by their faith in Christ.  I hear stories of healing.  I hear stories of reconciliation and restoration of marriages, families and friendships.  I’ve had people tell me about the chains of bondage that have been broken in their lives by the power of Jesus Christ.  Every story is personal, unique and powerful.  We need to share more stories.

      Do you have a faith story to share?  Has Jesus impacted your life in a powerful way?  Has being a part of our church family been transformational in some way for you?  We would love to hear your story.  Stories bring encouragement.  Stories give people hope.  I would be willing to bet that many of you have a story to share of how God has blessed your life.

 Our new Newburyport sign!

Our new Newburyport sign!

      Not only would I love to see us be more open with sharing our stories within the church family, but beyond the church.  Your story is a testimony to Jesus.  When you share the impact that God has had in your life in some specific way, it is a witness.  I would encourage us to be more open and free in sharing our stories with those in our neighborhoods, our work places, our families and more.  And if you have a story of how Jesus has worked in your life that you would be willing to share, let me know.  I would personally love to hear it.

      Don’t forget that this Sunday at all campuses we will, as part of our Mother’s Day service, be taking free family portraits.  I look forward to us all being together for worship this special Sunday.  Also, remember that the following Sunday is Pentecost (wear RED).  We will be welcoming new members at all campuses and celebrating immersion baptism at our Plaistow location.  If you are interested in membership, we will have an orientation this Saturday at 1:00 pm at Rock Plaistow.  If you are interest in Baptism, please email Lynette.

    God Bless,

Pastor Steve

 

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Our Biggest Outreach Ever!

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Our Biggest Outreach Ever!

 

Dear Friends,

       I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this first ever “For Our Community” day.  If you didn’t hear about it yet, let me tell you what this is all about.  On Saturday June 30th we'll deploy hundreds of volunteers to more than a dozen simultaneous service projects in and around the communities of Amesbury, Newburyport, Haverhill, Plaistow, Newton and Sandown.  All volunteers will receive for free a "For Our Community" t-shirt.  Following the work there will be an “After Party” that will include a BBQ, activities, live concert, inflatables for the kids and much more!  

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      This is not only for those of us already in the Rock Church family.  We are inviting everyone  from the surrounding communities to serve side by side with us.  This will be a great opportunity to connect with some of our unchurched friends and neighbors as we bless our communities together.  My hope is that everyone in our church will take advantage of this opportunity to participate in this exciting event.  With the full participation of our church, along with invited community guests, I believe that the outcome will be amazing!  I am certain that we can renew how our community and the world sees the church and our values.  Not as inwardly focused, but as a loving people who desire to serve Christ by serving others.      

     We are currently in the process of developing the teams to do the advance planning, preparation and support work to pull this large event together.  We are looking for team members in all of the following areas: Project participation, planning and coordination, the after party set up, community partner coordination, event promotion, and post party clean-up.  If you would like to be a part of any of these support teams, please click on this link to sign up.  It is going to take a great team of people to pull off such an epic event.  On June 1 our project list will be finalized and participant registration will open.  Mark your calendar right now!  You will not want to miss this event.

      There are a couple of other quick things I want to lift up.  You won’t want to miss our Cinco de Mayo missions event this Saturday.   You can see all the detail in the newsletter at this link.  I also want to let you know that we are planning a special service for Mother’s Day.  As a part of that, we are setting up an area at each campus to do free family photos with mom!  Also, this Sunday is our next Membership orientation.  If you are not currently a member of Rock Church but would like to know more, please join us Sunday at 2:00 pm at our Plaistow campus.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Grateful for you.

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Grateful for you.

Dear Friends,

Got joy?  I’m convinced that it is God’s intention that we live lives of joy.  Jesus said “I have come that you may have life and life abundant.”  That doesn’t mean life is always going to be easy or fun.  But one of the great things about living a life in relationship with Jesus is that we can experience joy, even in those times that are not easy. 

On Sunday, we talked about how living a life of gratitude helps us to experience that life of joy that God desires for us.  One of the important keys to living a life of gratitude is to express it openly.  That means praising God for the blessings he places in our lives.  It also means intentionally thanking other people for the ways they have blessed us.  I challenged folks on Sunday to intentionally thank at least one person every day this week.  So, here is mine for today.

I want to thank YOU!  It would be difficult for me to fully express the gratitude that I feel for each and every one of you.  I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life to be a part of such an amazing church.  Let me tell you why I love and am grateful for our Rock Church family.

  • First and foremost, there is a love that permeates this church family that is awesome.  It is a love for Christ and a love for one another.
  • There is a heart for the lost.  I believe one of the things that makes Rock Church great is our passion to reach those who do not yet know Jesus. 
  • People are genuinely sacrificial in their service to Christ.  I have been inspired over and over again at the way so many of you are generous with your time, your talents and your resources to help others and to advance the kingdom of God.
  • I’m also encouraged and inspired by the passion I see in so many of you to grow deeper in Christ through lifegroups and other discipleship opportunities. 

Some churches are great with outreach to the lost, but never seem to grow deeper in faith.  Other churches are very serious about growing deep in the Word, but don’t seem burdened for those all around them who are living without Christ.  I am so grateful to be a part of a church that has a heart for both.

Can I tell you one other thing I’m grateful for.  I’m grateful for our amazing leadership team.  I’m not sure we even realize what an incredible team of pastors and ministry leaders we have at Rock Church.  God has blessed us with an abundance of talented, bright, passionate, committed, sacrificial servant leaders.  I thank God for each and every one of them!

Who are you grateful for today?   Take the opportunity to tell them. 

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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