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Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...

Website URL: http://www.thegracetabernacle.org E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Christmas Skit

Saturday, 11 December 2010 11:00 Published in Church Resources

Church "Friends and Family" Skit

Here's a short church skit that I wrote for our church Christmas Party. We had searched online and weren't able to find something that spoke of Christ, was humorous, was short, and was simple. So I jotted this down and we gave it a try. Corinne recruited (or more accurately: conscripted) two married couples, did a half-dozen practices, created a living room set on stage, and setup the place with microphones. The skit takes about 12 minutes to go through, depending upon how fast the actors deliver their lines. Overall, it was very well received; the only negative was getting the sound loud enough for 400 people to hear. Feel free to use skit for your church and modify it as needed. Enjoy!

Church Skit













Props: Couch, wireless mics, Christmas tree (decorated), gifts, platter of hors d'oeuvres.

Scene opens with Grace & Renee at the Christmas tree, finishing up decorating. Carols playing softly in the background.

 

Woman 1: I think the tree looks even better than last year! Thanks for having us over again, it is so much more fun decorating a tree together.

(Move to sit on couch, pick up coffee cups, etc.

Woman 2: Why else do you think we had you over? We love having our friends over at Christmas time. Here! This is an early Christmas gift. (Hands a wrapped gift to Woman 1) Open it!

Woman 1 unwraps gift and holds it up looking at it, slightly confused.

Woman 1: What...what is it?

Woman 2: It’s a elephant candle holder! It's from our recent missions trip to India. I had to get it – have you ever seen anything like it?

Woman 1: Well, that’s, um, great. [sets gift on coffee table] Sure beats the time when you gave me that big Bible…

Woman 2: You told me you loved that Bible!

Woman 1: Well, I do. It’s beautiful; I just don’t love reading it.

Woman 2: Wait a minute, so you’ll celebrate Christmas but you won’t read the book that tells you all about it?

Woman 1: Well, what’s there to know? The story is about baby Jesus being surrounded by pigs and stuff…

Woman 2: Well, there’s a lot more to the story than just a baby in a manger, and besides, Jesus was Jewish and there probably weren’t any pigs around the stable where He was born.

Woman 1: Jesus wasn’t Jewish, silly... He was Christian!

Woman 2: No! He was Jewish!

Woman 1: Christian!

Woman 2: Jewish!

Woman 1: Christ--!

Woman 2: Je--!

Woman 1: Okay, okay, well, you don’t have to get all testy and all. Alright, then tell me, Mrs. Bible-know-it-all, how can Jesus, "The Leader of the Christian Church" be Jewish?

Woman 2: Look, Jesus was born a Jew, lived His whole life as a Jew, and never became a Christian. There was no Christian church. It’s those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and follow Him who are Christians.

Woman 1: Okay, now you’re getting too heavy for me. Let’s get back to these gifts. I brought something for you – and it’s not from India. (Starts to hand a wrapped gift to Woman 2)

In comes Man 1 (Woman 1's husband)

Man 1: Hey guys – umm, what’s this? (looks at Woman 1' gift)

Woman 2: Hi there, here, have a hors d'oeuvre.

Man 1: Sure, what do we have here?

Woman 2: Well, here we have gorgonzola with endive palms (Man 1 grimaces), here we have escargot fried in an Indian Lassi batter (Man 1 makes another face), and here we have pigs in a blanket.

Man 1: Oh, I’ll have some of those!

Woman 1: Okay, so Jesus couldn’t have any pigs in his manger, but we can have them here at this Christmas party?

Woman 2: Well, we’re not Jewish.

Woman 1: But Jesus was?

Man 1: Jesus was Jewish?

Woman 1/Woman 2: No!/Yes!

Man 1: I guess I never thought of it, but it sounds right. After all, Joseph and Mary were Jewish right?

Woman 2: Right!

Man 1: I remember it was something like they had to go to Jerusalem to be counted.

Woman 2: Well, it wasn’t Jerusalem it was Bethlehem. But otherwise you’re right.

Woman 1: Hey, how did you get to be such a theologian?

Man 1: Our kids go to Discipletown! [note: our church's children's ministry program]

Woman 1: Theology from Discipletown?

Woman 2: Joe, I didn’t know that!

Man 1: Yep, been dropping them off and going out with (Woman 1) for some coffee. I leave my cell phone number just in case. Hey! It’s a free babysitting hour! And the kids love it!

Woman 2: Um, does Pastor Russ know that?

Man 1: Probably, they go running in every Sunday like two squealing pigs.

Woman 1: Pigs again!

Woman 2: Of course they love it, No, I mean does Pastor Russ know that you’re just dropping them off.

Man 1: Nope, and no one’s telling him you understand? I leave the cell number on the sign in sheet just in case.

Woman 2: What I understand is that you need to get yourself into church some day.

Man 1: Yeah, right. The day I walk into church is the day the roof falls in!

Woman 1 (a little irritated): What’s that supposed to mean?

Man 1: Nothing really, I’m just making an excuse for not going. Besides, I don’t think they really want a guy like me.

Woman 2: And why wouldn’t we want you? Do you smell? (sniff)

Woman 1 (teasingly): You’ve been hanging out with the pigs again?

Man 1: No, I shower every morning and use deodorant. It’s just my personal life that may not smell so good to God.

Woman 2: Alright, (Man 1), here’s my one sentence sermon: the Bible says that all of our righteous deeds are like filthy, stinky rags to God. You’re no worse off than the rest of us. All of us need a savior and that’s why Jesus came as a baby in the first place!

Man 1: Yeah right! You can say that, but I don’t need some cosmic killjoy with a list of rules forcing me to give up all the fun I’ve been having.

Woman 1 (sarcastically): Just a little while ago, you were saying our house is underwater, your job is in jeopardy, the kids are driving you crazy, and you can’t stand my mom coming out for a little visit…Is that the fun you’re talking about or I have missed something?

Woman 2: What fun are you having that you don’t want to give up?

Man 1: Well, you know….!?

Woman 1 /Woman 2: No, I don’t!

Man 1: You church people are always doing super spiritual church stuff. I don’t want to do all that!

Woman 2: You don’t want a life that’s joyful, meaningful and pleasing to God?

Man 1: Sure I would, it’s just that I don’t want to give up all the other stuff that I do that I know that is not pleasing to God.

In comes Man 2 (husband of Wife 2)

Man 2: Ahh, there’s my beautiful wife. Been looking for you. The clover-spiced kumquats are finished on the grill.

Man 1: You’re kidding right?

Man 2: No, they’re really cooked. Blanched, fried and now simmering.

Woman 2: I better take a look at them. Thanks, honey.

(Woman 2 leaves)

Woman 1 to Man 2: Man 1 was just telling us God would blow a gasket if he ever came to church.

Man 2: I don’t think God has any gaskets…

Man 1: Well, not that. It’s just that I don’t want to be like you and (Woman 2).

Man 2: (Man 1), you’ve known me for a long time. What about me don’t you like?

Man 1: Besides the hat? Nothing really, it’s just that you always go to church and you spend your vacations doing church stuff…

Man 2: Oh, like the short term missions trips that we’ve done? All that means is that we love serving God and giving back something to Him. He has done so much for us. And hey, (Woman 2) gets some great recipes out of it!

Man 1: I just don’t think God likes me a whole lot, and I’m not sure I like Him!

Man 2: Well, (Man 1). God does like you, in fact He loves you. The Bible says...

Woman 1: Whoa, your wife already gave Joe a sermon!

Man 2: Well, then here’s Part II, and it’s quick: The Bible says that God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever would believe in Him would inherit eternal life.

Man 1: Isn’t that the verse that the football player, Tim Tebow paints under his eyes?

Man 2: I’m not sure. But I have seen him paint Ephesians 2:8-10 – Hold on, I have it in the Bible, right here. [reaches for Bible and opens it, reading] “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast...”

Man 1: So Tim Tebow really believes in Jesus?

Man 2: Yep. Lots of well known people have believed in Jesus.

Woman 1: And they believe this story about the baby and the pigs and the manger?

Man 2: I don’t know about the pigs, but I’d be surprised if they don’t believe the Bible’s account. You see, Jesus’ birth is not just a cute story about pudgy babies. It’s about God’s love and man’s sin. That our sins were so serious to God, He would have to send every person away from Him. Many people would be separated from God in this reality and the next, which is Hell. So Jesus came, to be our savior, to reconcile us to God. But He had to be fully man first. So He came, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, and rose again on the third day, fully man and fully God.

Man 1: Well, my kids have been saying something like that to me too.

Man 2: You should listen to them.

Man 1: Maybe I will. Services are the same time as Discipletown, right?

Man 2: Yep. Same as Discipletown - 10:30 every Sunday. We also have some great adult classes and Sunday School for kids at 9:00. We’d love to have you stop by for more than just babysitting.

Woman 2 Returns holding a platter:

Woman 2: Crusted Thai Crickets anyone?

Getting God to do what you want

Wednesday, 08 December 2010 23:16 Published in Blog
So often, I meet people who are trying to get God to do what they want. They'll try anything--anything from bartering with God, to various "do-gooder" actions, to trying to buy God off with gifts of money or time. It's pretty common. This may sound ludicrous to the average person when all is going well for them, but for those who are anxious or desperate, these kinds of steps become a bitter reality; they are desperate, they've tried everything, and when nothing else seems to work, they turn to God.

Sadly, it's not unheard of for a religious charlatans to take advantage of this common dilemma for people. In my opinion, most modern TV evangelists are essentially hawking a method to manipulate God-- they say that if you want God to do some particular thing all you have to do is follow a certain set of steps--namely send that particular TV evangelist lots of money to demonstrate your faith--and God will respond by bringing to fruition whatever it was you "claimed" by faith. Here's the problem with all of this: God is not a genie, He's not a vending machine, He's not at our beckon call, waiting to fulfill our latest wish.

The problem is that so often we want God to act on our terms--when and how we think is best. We are convinced that this particular pressing matter is not a fanciful whim but something of major importance that God must provide. We want a spouse, we want healing, we want a certain career, we want a specific lifestyle. We want, we want, we want.

And so often, I've heard people mutter in disgust that God didn't fulfill His end of the bargain therefore they don't believe in Him, or won't follow Him, won't honor Him, or something along those lines. Since God didn't do what they wanted, they won't do what He wants from them. But this mindset is fraught with problems!

First, it misunderstands the nature of God's supreme wisdom. So often the thing we want is truly harmful to us or detrimental to the plan He has for us. Case in point: when I was a new believer, I knew a beautiful young model who was a customer in my parent's store. I began praying that God would make it so that I would date her. Now, that's a crazy idea. This woman was a million miles away from the Lord. She was on a different life-track than me. And let's be realistic, I'm a pastor and that's not exactly the kind of life that would endear the fidelity and devotion of a young model. As it turns out, God knew what was best for me all along and now I have a fabulous wife and marriage. It took time for me to figure out that my Heavenly Father knows best.

Second, this mindset misunderstands the nature of God's supreme will. The average person thinks that God is actively involved in making us happy and comfortable. But that's not what going on at all! I've heard so many people say words to the effect that "God wants me to be happy". Now what we need to accept is that hard truth, that as dissonant as it sounds to our minds, God does NOT necessarily want us happy (I'll explain in a moment). We need to realize that we are all under God's judgment--even me, a pastor. The Bible says that all of us have sinned, all of us have gone astray, all of us have cast off God's rule from our lives and all of us seek to live as Lord of our own lives. Rather than giving us happiness in life, God's most important goal our our lives is that we come to Him in repentance so that we can get back on track with His will for our lives. Think about this, if we're striving for things that God does not want for us, why would He want to encourage us along a path that He knows is not in our out best interest?

What people don't understand, is that one of the main reasons for the pain and misery in this world is to prove to us that life is NOT perfect and that we need a savior. The goal of pain is to bring us to God, that we might come to Him and be reconciled to Him. God is the highest source of all that is good, and joyful and meaningful in this world. However, as long as a person seeks to find happiness in something not rooted in Him, then He will not condone, support or encourage them on their path. They will never find the peace and joy they seek because true peace and joy only come from Him and He will not give these gifts to those who do not seek to find them in Him. So often, people want God to coddle them in their rebellion and sin when in reality He is calling them to utterly abandon their old life and living their new life in Christ.

Third, it misunderstands the nature of God's dealings with us. Again, when people want some thing--often they are asking for an outright miracle that disregards the laws of science, consequences, reality, etc. The average person has a poltergeist view of God--that He should make things levitate across the room to do things like: prove His reality, make our lives easier, guide us in decisions, etc. This is not how God works with us. He is not out to suspend the laws of nature to placate our whims. In nearly all cases, God wants us to proceed the old fashioned way--through careful obedience to His prescriptions.

Fourth, trying to manipulate God is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding about how we determine and/or learn God's will. Along with these ideas and matters I've already mentioned, people seem to think that God will communicate His will to them through wild and fantastic signs. I've heard about people driving by signs as they were praying, and taking the message of the sign to be a message from God. Yikes! That's just an absurd, Ouji board view of how God talks with us. The reality is that God has given us broad and specific instructions in His Word; the Bible. The Bible contains everything we need for life and godliness. We don't need anything else. All we have to do is learn what it says, and prayerfully live out what we've learned. That's how God guides us and directs our steps. As we follow God along the path, there will be plenty of times where the expedient route seems easier, better, happier, wiser, etc. But the scriptures say that there are ways and routes that seem right, but really lead to death.

So with all of these points that I've listed, rather than seeking to manipulate God, what we really need to to is seek Him to be able to surrender our whole lives and hearts to God. His will and plan for us is best. He is wiser, more righteous, more loving than us and what He wants is vastly superior to what we even want. The peace, joy and satisfaction that we are looking for in life will not come from us getting God to do what we want, but rather when we learn to trust Him, walk with Him, obey Him and then to be filled with the love, joy, peace and strength that He supplies.

So, those are my thoughts, I'd love to hear yours.

Ways to Get the Family Talking

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 11:35 Published in Blog
Some Ways We Like to Build Family Relationships

1) Family Devotions: On many/most nights when I'm home, we break out the Bible and read a verse or two as a family. Almost always we read from the Book of Proverbs--it's a great collection of God's principles for successful living. We usually read two or three verses, discuss them, and then apply them to our lives. Before we close, I ask each person to share how that verse should impact their lives. Then, when we close in prayer, each person prays that specific item to God, asking His help to live out those principles. The purpose is to teach our kids the principle that God's Word speaks to specific situations in life, that His ways are the right way, and that we can only live out His ways by Him working in and through us. We often give out little candies as rewards so the kids love it. Also, for the Christmas season, see our page on how we celebrate the Advent here

2) Family Board Games: Hopefully every family plays games together. Some of our favorites are Chicken Soup for the Soul and WizDumb. Both of these games are designed as glorified conversation starters. Not only do they help us get to know one another better, but they are good for loads of laughs--and it's important for the family to laugh a lot. Another thing we've done is created a board game together. After a couple of years, the kids still ask to pull it out and play it. It's not that hard to create a game and it builds another level of appreciation into the moment. 

3) Watching Sports: While we do occasionally watch a family movie together, I find that watching sports allows us still to develop relationships. Often I'll explain the principles or strategy to the kids while the game is on. Likewise, the little bios of the players usually provide great fodder for conversations about life/decisions etc.

4) Playing Sports: I find that one of the great "Ah, that was great!" activities we do is playing sports together as a family--usually this amounts to Roller Blading, Biking or Swimming. The best, though, is touch football. I find that touch football uniquely gets everyone involved at a level where they are engaged, excited and having a blast. The older kids are designated QB's and Corinne and I are designated receivers. The youngest is the designated Full Back who does a great time running his routes, unless he runs wildly in the wrong direction, which happens about once a game.

5) Ministry Together: It's so important that our children see that Christ is real and working in our lives. One way that they can see that is when we are all in a place where He is working in us and through us. Therefore, when possible we like to involve our kids in ministry with us. Two are still a bit young for this, but our oldest has really thrived with the opportunity to serve along side us in the office and on Sundays.
What are ways that you get your family talking?

Disney World on a Budget

Tuesday, 26 October 2010 18:17 Published in Blog
Okay, we just got back from Disney World and had a great time. It was all we hoped for--fantastic weather, wonderfully kind and helpful staff, great times on the rides, mind-blowing technology, wholesome fun. It was a wonderful trip and one that we are going to remember for the rest of our lives. 

We had an absolutely amazing time that cost us only about what airline tickets cost for us to fly to see Corinne's family in California. Lots of our savings came from specific decisions we made ahead of time and really worked out in massive savings that surprised even us. All throughout this trip, we saw how a few pieces of key information really helped us have a great time that really wasn't too expensive. We kept telling ourselves, "We've got to post this so other people can hear about it..."

So now that we've been back for about a week, I wanted to get some of our thoughts online while they are still fresh in our memories. If you're considering a trip to Disney, hopefully these tips might save you a penny or two, or twenty thousand (literally).

First, let's go over the places where you can (or will) spend money at Disney:

1) There's the ticket price just to walk into the place that's going to set you back about $80 bucks each (before quantity discounts, which we'll talk about in a minute)
2) You can rent strollers for $10 bucks a day
3) There's the "Hoop De Review" show at Fort Wilderness for about $200-250 for a family of 5
4) Table service restaurants are about $25 per entrée
5) Counter service restaurants are about $15 per entrée
6) Souvenirs -- in the parks they are relatively standard from shop to shop- -hats go for about $19-24, t-shirts go from $14 to $35. Those benchmarks will give you an idea of what you'll pay for coasters or playing cards or jewelry, etc.

So, here's how we saved huge amounts of money on our trip:

1) Book through AAA - if you are planning on going to Disney World, and don't have a AAA membership, get it and then book your trip through them. Getting a membership just for the trip would pay for itself in both cost savings as well as time savings (we'll get to the time in a minute). They also included some coupons and free Disney luggage tags which made great souvenirs for the kids. 

2)
Camp at Fort Wilderness - this alone literally saved us thousands of dollars. Through AAA, our campsite was about $40 per night. Compare that with a minimum rate of $240 in the resorts, and you can see how the savings adds up. But not only is this cheaper, but it is incredibly fun!!! We camped in a tent, but a pop-up camper would get the same rate. 

Camping at Fort Wilderness is a bit like camping in a happiness factory; everyone there was having a great time. The campground has a huge pool with a great zero-depth playground pool for the kids, a twisting water slide that we all loved, crafts in the morning (a bit cheesy, but the kids liked them), a great campstore that sold just enough stuff to keep you from running off grounds too often, and best of all, campfire singalongs and movies every evening with Chip and Dale. These campfire singalongs were terrific--the cowboys that led them seemed like the real-deal. The songs ranged from cowboy bumba-deda-deda-bum songs to Hokey Pokey songs, to pretty ballads that kind of made you tear up. It was great. Plus there was a campfire where you could bring your own marshmallows or hot dogs for roasting.

The "Comfort Station" facilities were also super-clean, had nice showers and a coin-op laundry facility which is fantastic if you are there for longer (like we were). One of the things you definitely want to consider if you have the ability, is bringing bikes. As the campground is large, getting around the campground (like to the pool) can be a lot of walking or time consuming as you wait for the shuttle. With that being said, we didn't bring ours and although it was fine, regretted that decision.

Lastly, Fort Wilderness seems to have the quickest access to Magic Kingdom because you're not having to take the Monorail--you just hop on the ferry and cross the lake, and the ferry is an event itself. Another major benefit of staying at Fort Wilderness is that you get all the benefits of being on a Disney Resort--for instance, the parks have resort patron's only hours that are really cool, the ride wait times drop to almost nothing during those hours. For what it's worth, in the camping area, we highly recommend site 2024 or 2026--they are the largest sites that allow for the most privacy (if there is a fault to the camping area, its' that the sites are relatively close together. Yet, considering where you are, the sites were nicer than many other campgrounds we've stayed at over the years). 

3) Skip the "Public Transportation" and drive -- except for Magic Kingdom, all the other parks are best accessed using your car, GPS, and using the trusty Diamond Parking Pass from AAA (see below). Doing your own driving will save you hours over the course of your stay. Likewise, having your car by the theme park entrance also allows you to store a cooler/food that you can hit up halfway through the day. We'd also recommend bringing along a GPS. While it is true that there are very good directional signs all over the park's road systems, but the GPS got us from Point A to Point B so easily, it was great. I could easily imagine a tense ride as a family it trying to get to a park early, and getting lost on the roads. Do make sure you ride the monorail, the kids loved the break of sitting down and it was fun to see the park from a different angle.

4) Get the Diamond Parking Pass from AAA - this was a HUGE part of our overall costs savings. Not only is it a free parking pass, but Diamond Parking is super-close parking that is basically the same place as the Handicapped parking. Not only is it really cool to simply park and walk right into the park, but being so close to the main entrance also allows you to stow stuff (like food/gear) in your car so that you can go back and forth to your car during your stay. Without the Diamond Parking Pass, you're stuck in those incredibly far parking spots that require a tram to access. Another cool feature about Diamond Parking is that you "follow the Green line" (as the attendants will tell you) from the ticket booths, winding past all kinds of cones/barricades right up to the park entrance. Lastly, the Diamond Parking often had different entrances so you also bypass the long lines at the check-in gates. Totally cool all around. One point though, later on I was talking with a AAA Rep near the Daytona Speedway about how great the Diamond Parking Pass was and she mentioned that they are limited in availability, so I'd definitely recommend asking about it when you place your ticket order through AAA. 

5) Book your stay for early/mid October -- in fact, I can't think of a better time to go. All the park employees kept mentioning to us that it was the best time to be there. First, it's the cheapest time to be there for lodging/tickets. Plus, the weather was "cooler". In actuality, it was still in the upper 80s throughout our stay (even into the low 90s). It was warm enough that we were able to want/enjoy the water rides but not so warm that we were dying. There was a couple of times when we were overheating, so I can't really imagine going when it's much hotter. Also, because early/mid October is the slowest time of the year, the lines were relatively minimal. Even then, we still had to wait about an average of 20-30 minutes per ride and once or twice nearly an hour. Even with the "Fast Pass" (which is really great) some rides sold out early in the day. The matter of short lines is not just a matter of convenience put also economics: Why drop a small fortune on higher rate/busier days where you spend your day in lines all day and are only able to go on a few rides? Also, don't forget to look at the park schedule (the concierge has one for all the parks) and check out the hours so you can plan out which park to visit when.

6) Wear small, tactical backpacks -- this is another one of those details where the specific item made all the difference. I and the kids all had small, tactical backpacks that hold water and a few extra things. They are light, not cumbersome, cool (as in temp), and give you the ability to have lunch, soda, snacks, etc. on your back and ready whenever you need. Lots of people had larger school packs, but they looked miserable lugging these hot and heavy packs (even when empty) throughout the park all day. For us, we loaded them up every morning with water and snacks, put 'em on and took off. They were great to have, even after wearing them for 10 hours. Having these small, tactical packs saved us big bucks in drinks/food costs.

7) Bring a Small Fridge -- I have a small refrigerator in my office at church and we brought it along for the trip. It cost me about $50 and we just plugged it in at our site and kept it running the whole time we were there. Except for the constant hassle of sandy gravel getting into it (we only could keep ours directly on the ground) having it there helped us keep a wider range of food without having to buy a lot of ice every day (though we still needed to buy a bag each day for our cooler).

8) Make use of Costco and Walmart -- Both are about 25 minutes from the campground. The GPS and maps say they are pretty close, but when you go through the campground and through traffic, it'll take about 20-25 minutes to get there. So it's definitely not a place you want to go to every day. But having both nearby gave us access to cheap food, cheap gas, and cheap souvenirs (yes, Walmart in Orlando has a great selection of Disney t-shirts, towels, etc., some that I liked even better than the authentic Disney World souvenirs). Plus, a trip off base helps you feel like you are still in the real world. For the cheapest gas and ice, Costco can't be beat.

9) Book your stay for 8 days in the park and 8 nights in the campground -- We spent a lot of time on Disney's website looking a configuration of days in the park/nights in the campground that provided the best bang for the buck. We changed days and nights many times to arrive at 8 days and 8 nights being the best use of cash. The final cost for that 8th day in the park is about $3 PER PERSON! That's an incredible ticket price and I challenge you to find an event so memorable or majestic for such $15 for the whole family. Plus, here's an important side benefit: Many vacationers drop thousands of dollars on their trip and they want to make best use of their trip. To maximize their buck, they wake up early, hit the park's opening and then stay till close. That might work for couples with teens, but it's brutal on little kids. More than once, we saw exasperated parents unable to understand why their 3 year old was crying because they didn't want to stay any longer. We found that the trick to this dilemma is to have 8 days of tickets. All those days allowed us to:

1) casually get ready for the day each morning (we had some nice breakfast times as a family)
2) not have to "close" the park every night 
3) not have to visit every ride on the first day
4) and most importantly--it allowed us to truly enjoy the other features of the resort, such as the pool and campfire sing-alongs. Those other events served as let-off points where when the kids started getting cranky and worn out. It was great to be able to go back to our tent site, swim in the pool, or get set for a campfire and movie. Having 8 days allowed us to be relatively leisurely (afterall, this is Russ Brewer writing, when am I ever really leisurely?) in our time usage. If anything, it helped me not to personally be frustrated with each days efficiency knowing that we had plenty of time to see and do the parks. 

So these tips helped us stave off thousands of dollars in extra costs and impulse purchases. Our family had a wonderful time, and we weren't stressing about the credit card mounting up the whole time.

Lastly, if you're going to Disney World anytime soon, we wish you a great and wonderful time.

Peccability or Impeccability, that is the question...

Tuesday, 07 September 2010 08:27 Published in Blog

I remember back when I was in Bible college, we studied the matter of whether or not Jesus could have ever sinned. No one debates that indeed He never sinned, for that is settled in scripture by various passages such as 1 Peter 2:21-23:

1 Peter 2:21-23 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously...

Likewise, there are many other passages that speaks to the absolute purity of Christ:

  • - Never did He cross God's purposes.
  • - Never did He seek His own will rather than God's (John 6:38).
  • - Never did He do something that was unlike God (Hebrews 7:26).
  • - Never did He do something that was impure, sinfully harsh/mean/critical.
  • - Never in His heart was there a doubt about God or a moment of bitterness (Isaiah 63:7). [Some other time, I'll discuss the reason for Christ's words on the cross: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" But I will say this, back then the ancient way to refer to a Psalm was to quote it's first line and I'm pretty sure that Christ was citing Psalm 22 (which prophetically spoke of that moment and what it would entail) to show the people that it was being fulfilled in their presence. So rather than being doubt in God, it was reminding people of one of the great passages that prophetically told what God's Messiah would endure].


So, back to the impeccability of Christ; all this is to say that Jesus was fully human and like us in all ways but one--He never sinned.

This underscores an important truth that we all need to understand: God's standard is perfection and since we are imperfect beings, our ability to enter heaven is only because of Christ's perfection and righteousness. Habakkuk 1:18 says that God is too pure to have any evil in His presence. 1 John 1:5 says that God's holiness is light a light where there is no shifting or shadows. Therefore, if I were to bring my unredeemed sinful soul into the presence of a perfectly pure God, I would be bringing their dark sin into a place where there has never been sin, rebellion, or selfishness. Thus, Christ has to be perfectly righteous because, according to 2 Corinthians 5:21, we need Christ's righteousness to cover our sins. 

Allow me to take a moment longer to explain this point: We are sinful beings. Yet, because Christ's righteousness covers us, we can enter into God's presence. The biblical word for this is "atonement" where Christ's righteousness (His life as manifest in His blood) covers our sins and blots them out. Atonement speaks of covering our sins so that we are no longer bringing our sinful selves before God. Instead, we have access to the Father through the righteousness of Jesus Christ His Son. This is why Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me." Thus, when the Father looks upon us, He sees the perfection and obedience of His beloved Son. This is why we need to be "IN CHRIST" to enter heaven (Romans 8:1, Ephesians 2:13). So hopefully it's clear that Christ had to be totally perfect and without sin for us to enter heaven. If there was ever a point where Christ had sinned, then not only would He be unfit for heaven, but His righteousness  would no longer be righteous  and He would be unable to make us pure before the Lord.

The reason why people hold so fervently to the impeccability of Christ is because of the reality that since Christ is in Heaven now, if He actually could sin before, then He could still sin now. If He could still sin now, then their may be a point where He might sin in the future. If that ever happened, then our atonement is always in jeopardy. But if Jesus cannot sin now, then it never could sin before.

I might respond that while all this may be true, it misses out on the eternal nature of the Son and the Father. Being that Jesus is eternal, His obedience is eternal. When Jesus says, “I always live to do the Father’s will” then He
always lives to do the Father’s will. If everything He says is true, then that statement is always true too!

Likewise, since the Father is omniscient (and so is the Son) then the Father will know if there ever would be a time when Jesus would sin in the future. God can look to the eternal future and knows that His Son has always and will always obey Him. Thus, for God to accept the infinite sacrifice of Jesus, it inherently includes the fact that God, with infinite understanding knows that His Son will completely obey Him forever. Thus, the sacrifice of Jesus is forever sufficient and acceptable. Praise God!

So all this brings us to the debate about Christ and sin: could He EVER SIN? Was it even possible? The fancy terms for this is the impeccability (inability to sin) or the peccability (ability to sin) of Christ.

Okay, so let's dive into this topic further. To keep the discussion going we also need to understand that sinfulness is not NECESSARY to be fully human. Often people say "To err is human..." but that's not
entirely true. Adam and Eve were created as total and complete humans, yet they did not have to sin. When they sinned, it was a willful introduction of rebellion into their lives. It was not already there. There was nothing corrupt in their DNA. It was not mandatory. So despite the fact that they did sin, we need to understand that they did not HAVE to sin. Sin was not an automatic component of humanity.

However, the sin nature has been passed down to us from Adam. The sin nature is the willful bent that we all have towards sin. We see this in the animal world all the time. I have a cute yellow lab at home. When I drop some food on the floor, he's very good about rushing over to eat it. But it always cracks me up. If I drop a piece of meat on the floor, he snarfs it up in a moment. But if it's a piece of lettuce or broccoli, he might pick it up, he might lick off the salad dressing, but he spits out the vegetable. It's not in his nature to eat and unless forced or tricked, he won't eat what goes against his nature.

It's the same with us. We have a sin nature. It's our bent. When given the opportunity, we will sin. I've seen this many times in life. One of the clearer examples was back when I was on a short-term missions trip in Croatia. The Bosnian War has recently ended and the people were struck with grief and guilt. You may recall that the Serbs and Bosnians were killing each other so systematically that it was called genocide. The reason, I was told, was because they were so filled with fear that the Serbs shot their Bosnian neighbors and visa-versa. It's not that they were monsters--but they were motivated by their nature for self-preservation, even at the expense of their neighbor's life. We might think that we're a sophisticated, moral society, in reality we're a couple of laws away from taking things into our own hands.

So why am I going into all this? To explain that we all have a sin nature except for two people--the First Adam and the Second Adam. The First Adam is Adam from creation. The Second Adam is a biblical term for Christ (e.g Romans 5:12-21). Jesus was fully human, but like Adam, He was not born with a sin nature. It was not passed on to Him. You might recall that in Luke 1:35 the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary in such a way that she conceives Jesus. Because the Holy Spirit was involved in Jesus’ conception, there was no transfer of the sin nature. Like Adam, He did not have to sin.

Okay, let’s get back to the peccability versus impeccability discussion. The question that has been debated for centuries is this: Could Christ have even sinned to begin with? Adam was without a sin nature, but sinned anyway. How about Jesus? Could He have sinned? Put another way, was Christ peccable (able to sin) or impeccable (unable to sin)?

Most scholars say that Christ was impeccable, that is He could not have sinned. I basically agree, but have lingering questions.

Now aside from debating for debating's sake, why discuss this question anyway? First, there is the practical matter of looking to Christ for encouragement when we're struggling. It’s nice to know that Christ understands what it feels like to be human. Second, any doctrine we hold must account for all of scripture, and there are a handful of verses that need to be addressed. One of the key verses is Hebrews 4:15 which says, “
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

I've often wondered, if Christ could not sin, in what way was he tempted? If He could not sin, was He truly tempted as we are? It would seem to me that this passage says the exact opposite: that Jesus DID undergo temptations. How can Jesus undergo temptations if He fundamentally could not sin?

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Jesus was tempted like we are. Nor am I saying that He felt any inclination to sin. But it seems that the debate over peccability/impeccability violates scripture.

Here’s one passage them helps me understand the Impeccabilty/Peccability question.  In John 6:15 Jesus had just fed the 5,000 and the crowds were intending to make Him king. At that moment, if Jesus agreed to their plans, He would have sinned because that would be contrary to the will of God. Knowing this, Jesus left them and went away to be alone in the mountains. We don’t know the exact reason why He left them. However, the net result was that He was praying to His Father and was fully removed from a course of action that would be sin.

Furthermore, in John 6:38, Jesus explained that He only does the Father’s will. He told them, "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." It seems that He was referring back to that moment when the crowds wanted to make Him king the day before. He turned them down because it was not the Father's will.

In that moment when the crowds sought to make Him king, there were two ways to handle that situation: 1) Decline the crowds and go to the cross = God's Will. 2) Accept the crowds and go wherever the path led = Man's will. The fork in the road was set before Christ. And like always, He chose the right and perfect way, the way of submission and obedience to the Father. (For what it's worth, for most of us, we just chose our own way and wonder why life seems to get so scrambled). But the Impeccability Argument seems to imply that there was no real "fork in the road" for Christ. It seems that Jesus technically “could” have let Himself be commissioned as King. It wasn’t a magnetic force field that kept Him from sin, it was His purity and holiness.

At the same time, I don’t think there was ever a chance of Christ sinning. Christ was not in the throes of indecision at these moments. Yes, Christ who was God, who the day before made atoms rearrange in space/time to become fish and bread and a solid support to Him in water, this same God could do whatever He wanted. At the same time, however, Christ who was perfectly pure and holy, always WANTED to conform to His Father's nature and will. One who is pure, loves God's ways. One who is righteous wants to live out the law of God. One who is holy conforms to God's nature. This is true of us too--that the more we conform to God, the more we will love Him, His ways, His principles and our hearts/minds will increasingly pursue those things that God is pursing.

So while I stand with the Impeccability folks I wish that the position allowed for more flexibility with passages such as Hebrews 4:15. I never want to say that Christ sinned, nor would I want to say that there was ever a conflict in His heart about sin-- I just don't understand how the removal of even the possibility of sin fits Hebrews 4:15.

My conclusion is not on one side or the other (though I’d want to go on record and say that I’m with the Impeccabilty Group). It’s just that as I study scripture, I think that the question itself is ultimately not valid. Scripture doesn’t allow us to hold to a position that either Christ could have sinned and did not (because then our salvation would always be in jeopardy) or that He could not have sinned in the first place (because then passages such as Hebrews 4:15 and John 5 don’t make sense).

Ultimately, I rest with scripture. Scripture tells us that He faced the same situations and trials we faced, yet passed through them in complete obedience to the will and nature of God. Praise God for our righteous and Holy Redeemer!

So those are some of my thoughts, I'd like to hear yours...

Maine Vacation 2010 - Set 3

Monday, 06 September 2010 20:34 Published in Pictures
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Rungs Rungs2 RussCorinneView RussKidsBeehiveMarker RussKidsSongoLock RussKidsTop RussOCeanRocks WesOceanRocks WesRocks WillLadderTableRock

Maine Vacation 2010 - Set 1

Monday, 06 September 2010 20:31 Published in Pictures
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1Lighthouse BackofCorinneKidsWoodoverMarsh BarIslandSandbar BarIslandSandbarKids BeehiveFamilyView CorinneandKidsSebagoLake CorinneKidsGraftonNotch CorinneKidsGraftonNotchRock FamilyAT Sign FamilyTableRock KidsHikingRocks KidsRocks

Maine Vacation 2010 - Set 2

Monday, 06 September 2010 20:17 Published in Pictures
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BeehiveAlethiaView BeehiveRussKids BridgeXing MaineHikingRussandKids RungsRussKidsView RungsWill RussKidsonWoodMarsh RussTableRock WesTop WillSongoLock

Side-Stepping Popularity

Monday, 06 September 2010 08:28 Published in Blog
John chapter 6 contains the well known account of Jesus feeding the 5000. This amazing story demonstrates that Jesus as God has the ability to create something from nothing. In other, more fancy words, Jesus has the power to create ex nihilo. He has the ability to bring atoms into existence and fashion them together to form real objects. All without touching them. His command, His will, His word is enough that nature follows.

Likewise, just after the account of the Feeding of the 5000, John's Gospel then provides the account of Jesus walking on water. This is another example of His divine capabilities as His will causes nature to be rearranged so that normal properties of water are changed and He is able to walk upon it.

While these are amazing feats of awesome command, I want to highlight a side comment made my John in 6:15--"So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone."

What I find convicting about this verse is the clear principle that not all popularity is good, right or rightly motivated. In this situation, the people wanted to make Jesus their King. To my fleshly mind that sounds like a complete success for His objectives--finally, He's demonstrated His truth and power and the people have seen and believed. They have turned to Him in droves. They are ready for their King Messiah. Quite possibly, His number of supporters has now outweighed His detractors. You would think that Jesus is ready to take Airforce One and land on the aircraft carrier triumphantly declaring "Mission Accomplished!"

But that's not what Jesus did. Instead, He withdrew from them and went to the mountains to be alone. Fascinating. What did He do? Well, we can gather from other passages that at times such as this, Jesus withdrew to be alone to pray. To be alone to seek God, to commune with Him, to maintain fellowship with Him and His divine will. Had Jesus not done this, the whole atonement/redemption of humanity would have been lost. God's divine plan and purpose for the life of Christ did not include of brief hiatus of kingship on that side of the cross.

You see, there are times when popularity is not a good thing. There are times when God's will is not that we are well received or well regarded by the general populous. There are times that accolades and praises are actually put in the hearts and mouths of people as a tool of Satan to tempt and deceive us. There are times that giving into to the will of the people is turning away from the will of God. Yikes, that is shuddering, especially for pastors.

I often wonder why God grants success to some pastors and not to others. I think these principles about popularity have something to do with it. On the one hand, there are charlatans who have so manufactured success that they are far from the will and blessing of God. And on the other hand, there are pastors who have followed Christ so purely that they have kept away from people-pleasing and thus their ministries are relatively small. But in between these two groups is (what I suspect) the largest group. This middle group is full of pastors like me--pastors who are still learning these principles of popularity and success.

I think that the pastorate is rife with men who need to learn when success is valid or when it is invalid and I have a hunch that one of the most pivotal reasons why God has not given them success is because they are still developing the proper wisdom and discernment to know when to walk away from the crowds. Because their own convictions and reasoning is so easily led astray, and not yet fully and steadily trained on the absolute will of God, God has not (indeed CANNOT) grant them success, for success would lead them away from the work He has called them to do. 

Now of course, I'm not saying this as one who has mastered it, but rather one who is still learning to not interpret the applause as synonymous with success, to break away from the people and to meet with God and be sure that His will is being done, rather than the people's will.

Just some thoughts, I'd love to hear some of yours...

Blessings to you!

Church Sign Ideas

Saturday, 04 September 2010 18:49 Published in Ministry

Current Church Sign Ideas

Holiday Sign Messages
Luke Sign Messages
John Church Sign Messages
Romans Church Sign Messages
Hebrews Church Sign Messages
Psalm Church Sign Messages


1 Corinthians Church Sign Messages (coming soon)

2 Corinthians Church Sign Messages (coming soon)

 

Some Church Sign Principles

One of the best ways that a church can interact with its community is via its church sign (aka the church marquee). Often they are movable type, often they are lighted, often they are the only way passersby know anything about the church. Often the only understanding your neighbors have of your church comes from the church sign. That is why it is extremely important to take it seriously.

Despite its importance, in my opinion it seems that churches misunderstand and misuse the power of the church sign. Often church sign messages are so trite that they are just plain annoying. Sometimes they are way too harsh. Sometimes they are clouded by "churchese" lingo that only other church-people understand. Sometimes they are just confusing.

I've been our church's "sign guy" for over seven years and we've been blessed with countless people who first "heard" about our church through the church sign. It's one of the most common reasons people first visit our church (our website is the MOST common reason people hear about us; you can read my article on Good Church Web Design here). Some of our most committed, core people decided to first visit years ago because of our church sign.

But like many other church-sign-message-creators, I know what it's like having to come up with a message each week. I've had to come up with our church's message over 350 times. I know what it's like to go through the classic bouncing around steps that sign creators struggle with--hunting across the internet, buying church sign message books, flipping through Daily Bread Devotionals. Eventually, I pitched all that stuff and began just looking through the Bible. Having been doing this so long, as being that I am a pastor and have seen the tangible fruits of this ministry, I've developed some pretty concise thoughts on what churches should be doing with their church sign. What follows is my "Philosophy of Church Sign Messages"--I sincerely hope it blesses you and strengthens you in serving our Lord as you serve your community.

Know the Purpose
The most important point to understand about the church sign is its purpose. The church sign serves as a running dialog between the church and its neighbors. Since many of these neighbors drive by the church sign every day, a good church sign develops something akin to shepherding or discipleship. Each time your neighbors drive past your church, they will instinctively read your sign and take in its message. Over time, they will build an impression of who you are and what you're about. So with this daily exhange with your neighbors, what should you communicate?

Put Up God's Word - Because it Fulfills the Great Commission
To me there is only one answer and it's obvious: God's Truth. Now I have some biblical reasons for this. First, when you read Christ's final words to the apostles, Jesus laid out the master plan of what were to be doing in Matthew 28:19-20. His familiar commands was to: "Go into all the world making disciples..." That word "making disciples" is just a single verb in Greek that means "to disciple." Therefore, Christ's final commands were to disciple the nations.

In light of this as the final mandate from our Lord, I'm often surprised at how rarely I see churches posting God's Word. What a perfect venue to teach scripture to this hungry world. And yet churches seem to love posting cute messages that don't say anything of value. Compare the value of messages like "A sharp tongue will cut your own throat" and "Forbidden Fruits Makes Message Jams" with this one from scripture: "Jesus Is The Radiance of God's Glory - Hebrews 1:3". Which one honors God more? Which conforms to Matthew 28:19-20 more? Scripture just has beautiful weight that the cute/coy messages don't have.
God's Word has enough profound and sublime truths in it that we don't need to make up our own cute/coy messages. 

So if you are planning to disciple the nations, your marquee should contain the information God wants to convey to the world. The church sign messages should primarily be the words of scripture that apply to the general public. You should be putting up portions of the Bible that teach your neighbors about God. My hope and goal for our church sign is that because of our messages, the residents in our community have a more refined, indepth knowledge of the Lord just by virtue of driving by your church daily for years.

Put Up God's Word - Because it is the Means God Uses to Regenerate Souls
So once again, I believe that nearly all messages need to be directly tied to scripture. There is another important reason for this. If you look up James 1:28 and 1 Peter 1:28, you'll see that it's the Word of God that brings about regeneration of the soul. God wants us to be about disseminating His truth. Therefore, I seek to make my signs as close to scripture as possible. That way, if the person were to really take it to heart, they'd be taking the actual words of God to heart.

Put Up God's Word - Because it Teaches People Where to Go in Scripture
When I post scripture, I also like to bring the community verse-by-verse through the books of the Bible. This doesn't mean I cover every verse, but I do work through entire books from start to finish. This is why I have those other links at the top of this article--they are lists of passages designed for church signs that sequentially work through individual books of the Bible.

I know it's a bit of a long shot, but I do believe that there will be some people who will notice that I keep tying messages to specific books of the Bible. My hope is that after several weeks/months, they will actually have an idea of what the Bible book is about. I'd be thrilled to hear that someone's interest in Romans or Hebrews or John was piqued by our signs so that they actually broke open their Bible and read for themselves.

Along these same lines, I know first hand that many unbelievers (and some believers too!) view the Bible as a really thick book and they have no idea of what it contains. They may have heard that it has some great stuff in it, but for the life of them, they have no idea where to find it. Putting up God's Word tells them that the Bible has the real answers/truth their is looking for.

Therefore, another primary goal I have is to post the gems of scripture so that people can see for themselves that God's Word is full of rich and glorious truths. I am very selective on what verses I post. There's no sense in posting difficult, inscrutable verses that only confirm people's wrong view of God's irrelevance. For instance, recently I embarked upon taking our community through the Gospel of John. It didn't take me long to realize that so many of the truths we cherish as believers just don't make sense when boiled down to a church sign. I ended up having to pass over many/most of the best passages. Which brings me to my second point: 

Don't Post Fire and Brimstone
If we are discipling the nations, let's think through the normal process of discipleship. As a pastor, when I meet with someone to disciple, I  start with where they are at and then use God's truths to bring them to the next level. The same applies to church signs. Let's not find the most inflammatory verses to post--we don't do this in normal conversation or ministry, likewise let's not do this with our church sign either.

For this reason, I strongly suggest not putting up verses like "Repent or Ye Shall Likewise Perish." Certainly that is true, and certainly its what people need to hear and understand. Yet throwing this in the face of your commuting neighbors fails the basic discipleship principle of shepherding where you lovingly lead people along towards the Lord. Even when Christ said those "Repent" words, the whole culture was ready and primed for the coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist had been laying down the foundation of repentance for years. So when Jesus said "Repent!" it was in the context of the whole culture expecting His arrival. At this point, we need to realize we're working in communities where they don't even believe God exists, let alone that they need to repent of breaking His laws. But if we spend years putting up biblical principles, over time their hearts will be plucked by the Holy Spirit telling them that yet again, they are not following principles from His Word.

So the church sign message needs to strike that balance of not being overly harsh and "gotcha" but still giving the truths the world needs to hear. This is where my "through a book of the Bible" method really comes into play. If I am working through a book of the Bible, seeking out nuggets that are spoken to all people, I will often find truths that are comforting, encouraging, etc. Occasionally, I'll find truths that are strong and weighty. If I have already established a rapport with my neighbors, these "harsh" messages will be within a book that has many other truths as well. I trust that our neighbors will say, "wow, that's a strong message" but then say, "But then again, it's from that Roman's book and their messages are often very encouraging and meaningful to me. Maybe that harsh message is something I need to consider just as much as the encouraging ones!" So a strong message has to be in the midst of a long conversation where the reader has learned to trust the church's voice. However, if all I do is post "Turn or Burn" messages, the community ends up tuning out our church as being full of cranks.

Don't Be Trite, Coy or Kooky
This brings me to another important point-- the church needs to have a coherent/cohesive message. Generally, the most common mistake I see with church signs is a lack of a coherent "voice" or message with the community. I would imagine that many of these churches have wonderfully dedicated volunteers trying to come up with something to say. They might find some cool saying, or some coy catchphrase, or some gotcha saying, or something the pastor wants--the end result is that if it sounds good it gets posted. This may bring relief to the person having to come up with a new sign message all the time, but the voice ends ups being more schizophrenic than comforting as they fold in a morass of hopeful, trite, harsh, boring, and confusing messages. 

The most egregious example would be a message that I've seen more than once: "Forbidden Fruit Creates Messy Jam." That's coy and cute, but horrendous for a church sign. What in the world does that communicate to your neighbors? I can only imagine what it tells people: For the hard rocker, it just says your too trite to be trusted. For the wayward profligate, it says that you won't accept them. And in general it just says you're strange.

The same goes for wording such as "Join us for our CH_ _ CH--what's Missing, U R" Ugh. Why would I want to go to some place that's so unstable that they require me, a complete stranger, to fill in what's missing? Aren't they complete in Christ?

I wish I could call up these churches and explain to them that the world is not looking for cute, coy messages. At our church, we often have people tell us that they first decided to come to our church because of our church sign. I believe one of the reasons is because we don't use coy little phrases.
Now, I'm sure that the average passerby doesn't think this deeply about these kinds of signs which further reinforces my point--using trite messages actually teaches people to just to ignore your church. Rather than be ignored, I want people to read our church sign every week in hopes of gaining wisdom, teaching, inspiration, etc. I want them to begin thinking of us as a place they can readily find truth about God.

So going back to my main premise, good church sign messages distill God's word into a manageable portion that universally speaks God's necessary truth to unbelievers. For instance, right now our church sign says, "Come to God to Find Grace and Mercy - Hebrews 4:6". Compare that message with a local church's sign that also currently reads "Life has no pain that heaven can't heal." Our message cites chapter and verse (they almost always do) and it's a truth that can actually change a person's life. If they heed that message, they would be coming to God for grace and mercy. Now the other church sign could be good in theory, and it's not the worst I've seen by a long shot (there is also a church that currently says "The Gospel of the Wizard of Oz" -- I have no idea what that's about). But anyway, in the former case, I'd never post it because:

1) it doesn't really make sense
2) it offers a platitude for very real problems using a phraseology that I just don't think unbelievers can understand
3) it's not directly tied to scripture
4) it seems to be saying (to me at least) that death is better than life (while that is technically true, our immediate high school communities have had about 8 suicides in the past two years, so I'm not looking to bolster that idea in our area).

Don't Scold
Going on, I think the church should NOT scold the community or making political statements. We're to be about the Gospel, and while politics is important, our mission is to be the pillar and ground of truth in the world, not the pillar and ground of political controversy. Likewise, until the Lord regenerates a person, they will likely have horrendous political views and why make that a barrier to them coming to Christ? When they surrender to Him, their views on many issues will change, so leave that the the work of the Holy Spirit and not the church sign.

Invite People to Your Events
Another common message that I have on our church sign is essentially: Join Us! I often put up things we're doing to invite people. While it would be nice if people actually came, that is not my primary purpose. The reality is that people don't usually just walk into a strange church for an event. But constantly posting the events at the church tells the community that there is life in our church and that we actually WANT them to join in this life. Likewise constantly inviting people communicates that we genuinely will welcome them when they finally decide to come. I believe we've had visitors who decided to stop in to our church directly because we invited them from the church sign. 

Change The Message Frequently
Lastly, church sign messages should change frequently, preferably weekly (which is what we do). If we are truly discipling the community, then each week is a new opportunity to impart God's word to the world. Likewise, a weekly change communicates that your church is crisp, professional, trustworthy and that you've got your act together. Churches that leave the same message up for 3,4,5,6 weeks at a shot just says "Ho, hum, no worries, I'm just looking to fill this space, pay no attention, I don't really care if you read this or not anyway, just go about your business and we'll all be fine, thank you."

Feel Free to Use Our Church Sign Messages
So all this is to say that I have posted at the top of this page many church sign messages that we have used. Keep in mind that these are my "rough draft" messages. My process is to prayerfully work through a book and jot down some ideas (which are these) and then from here I give the messages to our sign volunteers who post them every week. It would be too much time for me to recreate my monthly lists that we actually post, and with so many "Join Us" messages, it wouldn't be helpful anyway. So these are my rough ideas, though usually they go up just as they are first conceived. There are a handful of messages that I've listed here that didn't actually make it to the marquee, but I include them because perhaps they would be useful in your situation.

Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your feed back and ideas. If you have some messages that you'd like me to post, email them to me and if they make the cut, I'll give you credit.

All for God's Glory!

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