Hello! My name is Sarcasm

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Hello!  My name is Sarcasm
This issue has been on my mind for the last two weeks. Today it wrecked me!
I’ve been identified as funny, quick-witted, and sarcastic for the majority of my adult life. I’ve taken great pride in bringing people to tears with laughter. I’ve especially enjoyed occasionally catching someone off-guard after taking a drink of something and resulting in spraying the contents of their mouth EVERYWHERE. Classic.
Wikipedia defines Sarcasm as “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark, a bitter gibe or taunt”.
Speechless!
This is what I’ve been proud of?! A tool of destruction, now a characteristic making up what others call “me”. Is this the ME I’ve wanted to be? Is this the ME I’ve been called to be? This response was followed by frantically trying to remember any time my words may have hurt or caused insecurity in someone. I was pretty successful, but as the minutes went by I realized something. Even if I had the ability to remember each instance and reach out to them and apologize, how many were able to mask their wounds until they escaped my presence? How many?
I immediately went to Ephesians 4 where I found the following verses.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29)
“Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes–these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” (Ephesians 5:4)
Read them again and ask yourself where you think sarcasm fits into your life. How about your ministry? How about your relationships? I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now. It DOESNT! We know by these passages that our words are to be used to encourage others. The opposite is, as 5:4 states, “..not for you”. 
Now stay with me here.
 I AM THE WORST OFFENDER!
I have been in ministry for 7 years now. A worship leader, youth volunteer, and now a worship pastor. I have been sarcastic with students, adults, pastors; you name it. It brings me to tears to think that students may be afraid to confide in me because of my “humor”. To be apart of a ministry that promotes a welcoming and loving environment and then act the way I have, leaves me full of shame and regret, but here is the beauty in all of this. GRACE. I have the opportunity to be the change I seek; to stand and fight the social parasite I helped create.
Jesus did not come to earth to condemn us, but to save us. This truth and the love that we see through it applies to this situation as well. He used a tragedy (used, not caused) to open my eyes to an area of my life that needs to be brought to light and to be battled for change.
I have contacted many friends who I love and respect asking them to hold me accountable and to also partner with me in eradicating sarcasm from our ministries and from our lives.
Will you partner with me?
Will you too choose to stand and fight for change?
-Pastor Brian
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Polar Plunge for a Purpose

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On Tuesday, April 29th, our staff was nominated by Pastor Edgar Rodriguez of New Hope Church in Moville, IA to take “the plunge”. The challenge was for our team to jump into Prior Lake (38′ at best), participating in a polar plunge. While seemingly crazy…AND IT WAS, the purpose behind the plunge wasn’t crazy in the least.

Through our simple act of jumping into Prior Lake, looking like a bunch of goofs and screaming like some pre-teen girls on a roller coaster ride, we had pledged to raise awareness and money toward cancer research.

As a staff, we are able to both sit back and laugh at how crazy we were/are as well as really consider why we did what we did. It was an amazing experience and worth every bit of what we did if we are able to raise awareness toward the fight over cancer as well as raise financial support in helping research possible cures for this illness that is above any socio-economic barriers, color lines, age, race, country, creed or gender.

This polar plunge experience has inspired creativity in us as a team to come up with other ways in which we can contribute both individually as well as corporately toward doing something in the fight against cancer.

We ask that you join us in praying for and thinking about ways that you might get involved in changing a community affected by cancer one life at a time.

-IC Staff

Shells & Starfish

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If you’re like me, then we have these two things in common: one – you’re ridiculously good looking…and two – you seem to always have a full plate; not in the second helpings-food lover way (I don’t eat very much), but in the sense that I seem to constantly have more going on than I know what to do with.
Maybe your full plate is portioned out evenly across obligations such as work and daily commutes, activities (soccer, dance, or softball games), family time, and eating & sleeping. Regardless, that plate is full. You’re maxed out!  Anything more slips right off the plate or clears another item or thing from its position. Regardless, both lead to the same outcome and that is that you end the day with a mess on floor. Alright, alright… you get the point with the plate. But hey, if you can honestly tell yourself you weren’t seeing the vast imagery of a loaded plate in your mind while reading this, then go ahead, I give you permission to stop reading (not really).
Back on point…
Now, did you notice that I left out not only time at church, but daily devotionals and prayer altogether?
So here I am. A fully loaded plate full of wonderful and God-honoring activities yet still lacking in the very things that keep me well connected to my God. Now I’m sure that most of us have pondered this and have wanted to do a daily devotional and to be in Christ-centered small-groups, LifeGroups, and bible studies, and to do as we are called; to pray without ceasing. But HOW do we fight for change?
It’s time to re-learn the word “No”. This simple two letter word begins to act as a buffer between good things and the great things. By saying no, we can reclaim time for rest, time for reflection on God’s word, and time for speaking with our God who has been patiently waiting for us to “fit” him back into our days.
I’m reminded of a story that has stuck with me for years now. A boy is walking on the beach with his parents collecting broken sea shells. His hands are full of the broken pieces when he comes upon a rock with a large starfish on it. Instead of immediately picking up the starfish and taking it with him, he simply stands there and looks discouraged. When his parents ask him what’s wrong and why he doesn’t pick up the starfish, he begins to cry, “My hands are full of sea shells and I can’t pick it up.”
It’s time to cash in our shells for starfish.
What are some things that you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to the more important things in life?
What steps can you take toward clearing some room on your plate?
Is God at the center of your plate or is he even on your plate at all?
– Pastor Brian

Monday Musings (4.28.14)

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This last week we picked up in our “The Power of One” series and looked at The Power of One Step.  Here are a few thoughts that I’d like to revisit from yesterday’s message:

  1. In order for us to experience the power of one step, our steps must be intentional. (Mt 14:22,23)
    Jesus modeled a life and relationship with God that included times of solitude dedicated to prayer.  This was never more pronounced than before any major event, happening or event in the life of Jesus or his ministry.Before we make decisions and take steps toward what we feel God might be calling us to, we absolutely MUST make time with God, seeking His face, a priority in order for us to really be intentional about each step we take.
  2. Fear is the number one reason that people don’t step up or step out in faith. (Mt 14:24-30)
    Money, reasoning, opportunities, etc.  These are just some of the barriers that stand in our way and keep us from pursuing the God-sized dreams in our life.  The reality is that these all pale in comparison to fear.  Fear is the biggest setback we often face when it comes to taking our first steps toward anything.
    In order for us to be effective in stepping into what God is calling us to, we must both address and choose to overcome our fears.
  3. As long as our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the impossible becomes possible. (Mt 14:31,32)
    Seriously?!  Peter walked on water.  That’s impossible according to the standards of this world.  Yet we serve a God that isn’t confined by the finite thinking of humanity.  No!  We live for a God who is all about the possible in the impossible.
    As long as our eyes are fixed on Jesus and not on the things of this work, anything becomes possible in and through Him!

So here are 3 questions that I think we ought to be wrestling with this week:

  1. What “mile” (opportunity) is waiting for you to take the first step?
  2. What storms of life have you allowed to hold you back from stepping out in faith?
  3. What step do you need to take right now, today, in this moment, to begin the journey that God has in store for you?

“The journey of every mile begins with one step.”  There IS power in one step!  So go on and step out in faith today!!

Here’s what I’m excited about from this past week…

  • An amazing community! It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly welcoming and friendly the people here at Illumination Church are.  Just blows my mind!
  • IC volunteers are second to none.  I am so incredibly blessed by the way the people of our church step up time and again to give of themselves; their time, their experiences, their gifts and more.
  • The way the Spirit of God is moving in and through Illumination Church.  It’s absolutely outstanding to be a part of what God is doing both in spirit and in breadth.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this coming week…

  • I’m looking forward to this weekend’s message; a message focused on the power of one meal.  I can hardly wait to experience communion for the first time in our new Burnsville campus.
  • I’m excited to spend time connecting with our volunteers and leaders as we dream of ways to continue to execute our mission and vision within our new community.
  • I’m thrilled to spend time reading, processing and praying.

May the grace and the peace of God be evident in your life as you seek the face of God and desire to grow in knowledge, in understanding and in your relationship with Jesus this week!

-Pastor Andrew

 

Monday Musing (4.21.14)

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Yesterday was AWESOME!  Seriously, I can’t think of much better than celebrating an empty tomb and a resurrected Christ.  What’s more is that I can hardly imagine experiencing this celebration any other place than with Illumination Church.

Here are some of my reflections from yesterday:

  • The tomb is EMPTY!
  • Jesus is ALIVE!!
  • In Him we, too, are made ALIVE!!!
  • 7 people responded to the gospel and gave their lives to Jesus!
  • 9 people in all responded to commit or recommit their lives to Christ!\
  • I’m totally excited about our new, now current series, “The Power of One”
  • One choice can change everything! (from yesterday’s message)
  • We moved to 2 services: 9 & 10:45
  • The band was phenomenal in leading the church to a place of reflection and worship.  Never hurts to kick things off with a little Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing”.
  • IC has the most incredible volunteers and leaders!
  • I’m reminded once again that one of the things that sets IC apart is the people; an amazing community that takes doing life and ministry together to a whole new level.
  • Healing.  For many, yesterday was a day of healing in many ways.

Here are a few of the things that I’m looking forward to as a church this week:

  • The message this weekend, “The Power of One Step!”
  • IGNITE kicks off on Sunday night (a practical and hands on look at the Bible) – Sunday night from 6 to 7:30 @ our IC Cafe
  • Connecting with and getting to know some of the many new faces and families here at IC.
  • Continuing to connect with the community around our new campus in Burnsville

I’m praying that the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of God in our lives will be evident this week both in word and deed, that people might see Christ in and through us as individuals and as a church.

Until all hear,

Andrew