Monday, June 30, 2014

Am I Growing?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5: 22 and 23

Years ago a friend introduced me to a way to examine my life and ask if I am growing spiritually.  The idea is that if I am keeping in step with the Spirit then there should be evidence of the fruits of the Spirit growing in my life.  So for each of these nine “fruits” simply ask yourself:

Am I growing in this area?
Am I going backwards?
Am I just treading water – maintaining my place?

It helps to write them down (or print this page) and if you are growing, give yourself a little up arrow next to that fruit. If you are going backward put a little down arrow and a dash if you are just staying the same. 


Is your heart more or less tender towards God? 
Does expressing love for God draw you to worship? 
Are you engaging in more acts of service – especially the kind where you don’t care if anyone notices? 
How do you respond to people who seem unloveable?


If you were to record your conversations and attitudes through the day, how often would you catch yourself laughing, celebrating and just rejoicing in the goodness of God and the wonder of His creation? 
How often would you catch yourself grumbling or complaining?
Are you more or less joyful than you were a year ago?

It may be that your circumstances are more difficult than they were a year ago – so you have to take that into consideration.

Overall, are your mind and heart more at ease and at rest in God or more troubled and anxious? 
Do you find yourself relating to people in ways that promotes peace or stirs up dissention? 
Is your home or office more or less peaceful than it was a year ago?

(and the word here is often translated as Patience)
If you are already working on Kindness go ahead and give yourself a down arrow here.

How do you respond when you don’t get your way? 
What’s your reaction when you are forced to wait – in traffic or in a line at the grocery store?
How have you handled unanswered prayer?  
Can you wait gracefully?
Are you more or less patient than you were 12 months ago?


Are you more likely to do good things for other people when you are not going to get any benefit from it? 
How likely are you to show kindness to the anonymous people around you – like those who wait on tables and clean your office or school? 
Are you more of less likely to affirm or encourage people now than you used to be?

(and this word could also be translated as Generosity):

What proportion of my income are you giving to God’s work? 
Is it greater, less or the same than last year? 
Does your heart desire to give more? 
Are you giving in other ways? 
Are you finding ways to use my time and talents for ministry? 
What’s  your reaction when someone asks to borrow your stuff or take a moment of your time?


Are you more committed today than you were 12 months ago? 
Are you more dependable? 
How you been better or worse at making and keeping promises? 
How are you doing with procrastination?
If you are waiting to take this test later, give yourself a down arrow here.


This has to do with our attitude and style of relating to others.

Do people find you more or less approachable? 
What tone of voice do you use with family, friends, co-workers, classmates, strangers? 
When you have to speak a hard word to someone can you do it gently with love and a genuine concern for the person?

Self Control

Are bad habits more or less troubling to you? 
What about the language you use and how you speak to people? 
Are you more or less likely to give into impulses that move you away from God? 
Are you more or less likely to give into temptation and sin?

Now take an honest look at this list and ask yourself:

Am I bearing fruit?  Is my life changing?

The expectation is that for those of us who follow Jesus is that we would be changing – bearing fruit and actually becoming more like Him year after year.

If you aren’t growing ask yourself:  What steps do I need to take to keep in step with the Holy Spirit?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Time to Shake It Up!

It’s finally time to Shake It Up and tomorrow we begin one of my favorite weeks of the year – Vacation Bible School (VBS).  I love the energy and excitement that only a room filled with kids can create (and we’ve got 550 kids registered).  I love lasers and disco balls and disco walls and bubble machines and funny videos and everything else that makes the week such a blast.  But  I also recognize that at times I can get so caught up in the production and the programming that I miss what it is that really makes the week special  – the opportunity we have to touch the hearts of kids, parents and families.

This week the vision of Mountaintop becomes – helping OTM families learn and share that life is better with Jesus because He makes us better at life.   We will be doing that by building on a verse that has always captured my imagination:

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  
They were filled with the Holy Spirit.  
They were bold when the spoke God’s word.
Acts 4: 31

That’s the verse our kids will be memorizing this week.  Tomorrow night I am going to challenge the parents to memorize it as well and I hope that all of us at Mountaintop might share that challenge.  It’s a great verse to pray for our church – and for all churches.  Pray that we will remain devoted to prayer – it’s the engine that drives the church.  Pray that God will move in ways that shakes the ground beneath our feet.  Pray that all we do will be empowered by the Holy Spirit.   And pray that we will be bold as we proclaim that in Jesus Christ we have found a better way to live.

To the glory of God!

PS:  The acronym VBS has probably become outdated.  Anyone on staff or volunteering will tell you this is not a Vacation.  Spend just a few minutes in the auditorium or in one of the rotations and it’s clear that this isn’t School.  But the week is definitely grounded in the Bible.  Here’s an overview of what our kids will be learning

Monday:  God Shakes the World.  The Death and Resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 27: 45-51, 54 and 28: 1 – 9)
Tuesday:  God Shakes His People.  Happy Birthday, Church!  It’s Pentecost! (Acts 2: 1 – 17 and 37 – 41)
Wednesday:  God’s People Shake their World!  Jailhouse Rock (Acts 16: 22 – 34)
Thursday:  Shake Your World!  Preach the Good News to Everyone, Boldly! (Acts 28: 28 – 31)

It begins with a Family Night Kickoff at 6:00 tomorrow evening.  I hope you will all be there to Shake It Up! – and who knows, you just might wind up on shaking on stage with a chance for a great give away.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Shake It Up!

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4: 31

From June 22 – 26 Mountaintop (the place where we meet) is going to be shaken as the summer’s Vacation Bible School encourages families to Shake It Up!  The week begins with a Family Kickoff on Sunday evening and then Monday through Thursday kids will discover how God rocks our world.

Here are four things you can do help us Shake Up Mountaintop!

Volunteer. We are nearing 500 children who have registered to join us as we shake it up and that means we need a lot of adult and teen group leaders.  There is childcare available for all volunteers who have children younger than three.  If you are available to serve just click VBS Volunteer.

Donate. We need a lot of items during VBS week for our crafts, snacks, etc.  If you can help provide something, please look for the donation board this Sunday in the church atrium.  Your help will be greatly appreciated!

Register.  There is no cost for VBS but you have to register and registration closes this Sunday June 15 so don’t put off  - register right now simply by clicking on VBS Registration.  And here’s some great news – this year we are offering Extended Times to Shake It Up!  To make it possible for parents whose schedules make it difficult for their children to attend VBS, this year we are offering before and after VBS care for Kindergartners through 5th graders.  Kids can be dropped off beginning at 7:00am and can be picked up until 6:00pm. We will make sure they get to and from their VBS groups. The cost for extended care is $125 for the week (even though VBS ends on Thursday we will provide care on Friday from 7:00am – 6:00pm and partial scholarships are available).  YOU MUST BE SIGNED UP FOR EXTENDED CARE BY JUNE 15.

Invite friends.  The only thing that can make VBS even more special is to invite a friend and a family to join you.  It’s the perfect way to learn and share that God’s love will Shake Us Up!