What Is The Reason To Celebrate?

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What is the reason to celebrate?  

This is a great question and a pretty loaded one at that, you know?!  There are so many incredible things deserving of celebration and not the least of these the mere fact that it’s Christmas time; the time of year where we recognize and focus on the gift of God through His Son’s birth.  That’s worth celebrating!

While there are many, many reasons to celebrate, the purpose of this blog is to celebrate how God is at work in regards to our new building in Burnsville (12156 Nicollet Ave, Burnsville).  

Five reasons to celebrate our new building:

Reason #1 – This past week, Wednesday, the City Council lead by Burnsville’s Mayor, Elizabeth Kautz, voted in favor of our church taking up residence in Burnsville.  The City Council issued us our CUP (Conditional Use Permit).  This was the last step in allowing Illumination Church to take up residency in the city and begin the buildout.  Burnsville, Savage, Bloomington and Eagan (4-corners) as well as Prior Lake, HERE WE COME!!!

Reason #2 – The property owner has agreed to invest $80,000.00 This money will go toward the demolition and reconstruction of our Worship Center as well as our Fellowship Hall.  What’s more is that the property owner has agreed to invest an additional $30,000.00 of his money into a mandatory covered trash and recycling receptacle, a necessity in order for our church to take up occupancy.  That’s an invest of $110,000.00 from the owner that he is willing to spend in order for our church to be there.  That’s worth celebrating!!

Reason #3 – Having our own facility will allow us the opportunity to facilitate the ministry that we believe God has been calling us to, ministry that is real and relevant in reaching the lost for Christ as well as changing the way people view God.  We will have our own space to worship in, to host community events, a place for our children and youth, a facility to use for various ministries, and a place to pursue the people that God has called us to with a concentrated effort week in and week out.  No more set up and tearing down means more time and energy invested in the community and the body of believers.  That’s reason to celebrate…especially if you’ve been a part of the set-up and tear-down crew ;0 

Reason #4 – Multiplication.  This is always something that we’ve seen in our future as a church.  By securing our own space we will be able to multiply the amount of worship experiences we are able to offer.  Instead of being limited by time and space on a Sunday or mid-week, we will be able to have more Celebration Services as well as various other programs including SONshine Kids, FireLight Youth, Ignite classes, community ed., counseling, weddings, funerals, baptisms, dedications and much, much, much more.  Volunteers who were once limited to either serving or attending service, but never both, will now have options and can do both.  That’s a reason to celebrate!

Reason #5 – Obedience is our success.  That’s a CORE value of our church and has been sense our inception.  We’re not bogged down by the standards of this world as tempting as it can be at times.  Instead, we believe that this is something that God placed upon our hearts and we want nothing more than to be obedient to what he has called us to.  It’s in obedience that we determine our success.  The fact that we are being obedient gives us reason to celebrate!

The work has just begun…

With the incredible opportunities that lie ahead of us, the work has just begun.  Though we’ve raised $38,337.00 to date and having had our first Serve Sunday at the new facility with many projects taking place, there is still a lot of work in front of us, and while some might be overwhelmed by the projects and money that needs to be raised, we are excited because this is an opportunity like never before for us to step up as a church and to go all in for what we believe God calling us to.  With that in mind, here are some ways that we still need to work…

  1. Prayer.  We need a lot of prayer.  Prayer for God’s will.  Prayer for favor in the community.  Prayer for the finances to come through.  Prayer that we don’t come up against any snags as we move forward with the building.  Prayer that people all over will be excited about our church and want to be a part of how God is moving in Illumination Church.  Prayer for our staff and incredible volunteers to be effective in sharing the gospel.  We need prayer!
  2. We still need to raise approximately $70,000.00 additional dollars to meet our projected budget for the buildout and building launch; money that is necessary in building the stage, buying chairs, furnishings, paint, building supplies, marketing and advertising, landscaping, signs, updated ProAudio (lights and sound), and more.  
  3. December 15th is our next Serve Sunday.  You can sign up to partner up with many others from within the church on this day to help build out the administration wing, to help demo (demolish) walls and ceiling tiles, etc., to help patch and paint, to help remodel bathrooms, to help with landscaping and more.  It’s a great way to connect with others and to serve the church and community.
  4. Spreading the word.  We NEED people like you to continue to get behind the work of God in and through Illumination Church and help spread the word.  We want to reach as many for Christ and it begins with one; the power of one person and one conversation and one invitation.  Who knows how God might use you as you get excited and tell your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers about what God is doing at Illumination Church.

So as you can see we have a lot of reasons to celebrate!  Will you join with us in celebrating and making an eternal difference in the lives of so many who need Jesus as we partner together through our SOS (secure our own space) initiative?!  

Pastor Andrew

 

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HEROES – Final week

This past week we buttoned up our series that we called HEROES; a look at various characteristics of a biblical hero.  What a great series and what an awesome opportunity for me to share one of my favorite stories and characters in all of the Bible, Ruth.

This short 4-Chapter book is a truly amazing, heroic story that includes great love, loyalty and commitment, faithfulness and truth, all tied up with a beautiful redemption message in the end.  It almost reads like a romance novel of old, yet is full of suspense and action.  One can’t help but be drawn in to the story and the lives of the characters in the story, women like Orpah and Naomi and Ruth.  Awesome!

If you haven’t already I encourage you to take some time this week and read or listen to Ruth in its entirety with a heart open to loving in a whole new, God-focused, selfless way.  

At the end of the sermon on Sunday I posed a few questions for your consideration.  In this short blog I want to take just a minute and reflect on these questions:

QUESTION 1 – Where are you being asked to step out in faith and love someone else in a completely selfless way?  In what specific ways could you show that love? 

Could you fight the need to be right, and instead bite your tongue when dealing with someone you care about?  Maybe you’re being shown someone who needs to be served in a specific way that you know you can serve, but you’ve been struggling with finding the time or energy.    

QUESTION 2 – Where do you hide behind a mask of “this world” vs. showing your authentic you?

Do you really tell anyone that 10% that you need help or struggle with?  Who holds you accountable to living life the way that God calls you to?  Are you always “alright, fine or great”?   Who in your faith community do you connect with and take down the walls of the world?  Reach out in faith that someone else is going to love you selflessly and is not only willing but eager to walk along side you in your journey and lift you up in your pain.  

 

QUESTION 3 – Where do you need to exercise more complete faith in God as your redeemer?  

Do you live daily with the knowledge that you have already been redeemed?   Do you know in your heart that the price for your life has already been paid through the perfect life and death of our Christ Jesus?   Do you fully understand that and what Paul writes in Romans 8:28,”And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV).   If He is leading you, calling you, or asking something of you; He already has a plan that includes caring for your every need. 

That about wraps up my thoughts for this week.  I invite you to share your thoughts, findings and insights as well.  

Have a blessed week!

~Carrie Guarrero 

 

SOS Update (11.26.2013)

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SOS Update – 11.26.2013

There is so much excitement about the SOS (secure our own space) Initiative; so many wonderful and incredible things taking place surrounding the possibility of us, Illumination Church, taking residence in our own permanent facility in Burnsville (12156 Nicollet Ave, Burnsville, MN).  In this short blog I’m excited to share some of the latest updates on our new Burnsville Illumination Church space!

  • Financial(s) to date: Our projected budget amount to secure our own space and be able to build the (Burnsville, MN) facility out for optimal use is $110,211.00.  This budget amount includes everything in the Worship Center (chairs, stage, lights, sound equipment, and more) as well as the SONShine Kid’s Wing, Fellowship Hall, Conference Room, Administration Wing and more.  *An itemized list is available at your request. Simply email Pastor Dan with an inquiry at: dan@illuminationchurch.com.  As of Sunday, November 24th, we have raised a total of $37,037, which is just over 1/3 of the way there.  Here is what it looks like broken down:
  1. ImageNOTE: We have an active graphic, which shows us weekly updates at our Sunday Celebration Services at Twin Oaks Middle School.  As you come in be sure to look for the Light House near Guest Central.  It will have the latest in financials.
  • Burnsville City Commissioners Town Hall Meeting:  At the City Commissioners Town Hall meeting last night, Pastor Dan and I sat in as the Burnsville City Planner gave a report and recommendation to the five Commissioners sitting on the board.  It was interesting listening to someone outside of Illumination give an explanation of what our intentions are both within the building as well as throughout the community.  For me, the coolest part of the whole meeting was at the end of the City Planners presentation.  Asked by the Chair of the Board if any of the Commissioners had questions or discussion items, a hand quickly shot up.  Anticipating some push-back, I sat in utter amazement as the Commissioner actively encouraged the other Commissioners to strongly support our church in our desire to secure our own space as he would be recommending approval.  What’s more is that he gave several reasons why he felt a church in their community would be a wonderful thing.  Immediately following the first Commissioners response another hand of a different Commissioner was raised who decisively agreed with the first Commissioners recommendation and threw in his thoughts on why our church in this space at this time would be a wonderful thing.  Soon after a motion was made and adopted and the City Commissioners voted unanimously, 5-0, to accept our proposal and to make a recommendation on our behalf to the Mayor and City Council at next week’s meeting, December 2nd.  What an exciting experience; one that will not quickly be forgotten, and one that is a pre-cursor for what everyone believes we will receive from the City Council as well.  Praise God!
  • Serve Sunday (11.24.2013): Last Sunday was the first of our Serve Sunday’s at the new facility.  27 people showed up and worked for nearly 4 hours cleaning, constructing, landscaping, scrubbing, smiling, working, hauling, laughing, sweating and doing life and ministry together.  All reports that I’ve heard were phenomenal; a huge success!  Here are just a few snapshots into what our Serve Sunday looked like:
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    Because of the amazing hearts and work of those who were able to make our Serve Sunday, we were able to clean the restrooms (deep clean), prep all of the SONShine Kid’s classrooms for painting, significantly clean up the yard with landscaping, frame in the offices in the administrative wing, tear out SheetRock in preparation for a hallway and much, much, much more…

Church, I am absolutely amazed at God and what He’s doing!  I couldn’t have imagined any of this had I tried.  What’s more is that I am overcome with joy and pride (a good sense of pride) at our church whom have stepped up in so many ways, whether financially or physically or spiritually and more, God is using the men and women and youth of our church to do incredible things together, things that will serve to change the way people view God in a community that is desperate for a church that is real, relevant and reaching.  Way to go church!

I’m looking forward to continuing in this journey together over the days, weeks, months and years to come…

But wait!  There’s more…

Here are just a few ways that you can still be involved in our SOS Initiative…

  1. Get signed up for our next Serve Sunday Project (December 15th) – info@illuminaitonchurch.com or sign up on Sunday.
  2. We are still $73,174.00 away from our projected budget for our new space.  We’d love for you to prayerfully consider how God might be leading you to give sacrificially in an effort to see our initiative reach it’s fullest potential.  You can give online (www.illuminationchurch.com) or give on Sunday morning at our Celebration Service.  Be sure to “earmark” your SOS Initiative offering as separate from your tithes and other gifts.
  3. Annual Commitment Cards: We are asking everyone to prayerfully consider what they might be willing to sacrificially give above and beyond their tithe toward the SOS Initiative.  You can download and print a card online at http://www.illuminationchurch.com or ask for Commitment Card at our Guest Central table on Sunday morning.
  4. Prayer: We need to be intentional about praying through this process and for our community, that God will use these efforts to advance His kingdom and to make His name famous; that God will give us favor in Burnsville in Savage in Prior Lake and in the community that we believe God calling us to.
  5. Spread the word: We’d love for you to share the exciting things that God is doing within Illumination Church with your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc.  What’s more is that we would love for you to invite those in your community and spheres of influence to come and experience, first hand, the way God is working so that they might experience the work of the Holy Spirit through you and Illumination Church as well.

Blessed to be your Pastor and co-laborer in Christ!
Andrew's Signature

Pastor Andrew

“HEROES” – Week 2

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“Chasing Lions” – Sunday, November 17th, 2013

This past Sunday we picked up week 2 of our series, HEROES, an intentional look into some of the qualities and characteristics of a hero.  And while we understand and could all agree that a hero is readily defined as, “an ordinary person capable of extraordinary feats for the betterment of others”, there are some very specific attributes, which contribute to better understanding who or rather, what a hero is.

One key component of a hero is a lion chaser; someone who is willing to face their lions (fears) head on – not only face their lions, but chase them down into a pit and go to battle with their lions.

Check out the message, “Chasing Your Lions”, here…

There are really 2 main ideas that we need to remember when it comes to heroic attributes in terms of chasing and facing our lions:

#1 – Lion Chasers Acknowledge Their Lions
While most people are good with running from lions, even avoiding them all together, lion chasers are intentional about acknowledging the lions in their lives.  In this case lions are representative of the fears we have in life: fear of finances, fear of failure, fear of relationships, fear of faith, etc. and while it’s sensible for people to run in the opposite direction from man-eating lions, one of the characteristics of a hero is someone who is willing to face their lions head on, acknowledge their fear and be intentional about dealing with them, one at time.

What’s keeping you from acknowledging the lions in your life?

#2 – Lion Chasers Are Risk Takers
It makes sense that coming across a lion in the wilderness short of an intentional safari or without the confines of a cage inside some zoo, that coming face-to-face with a lion could be considered pretty unlucky.  Think about it.  Lions in their natural habitat are called “king of the beasts” for a reason.  Now insert man into the king of the beasts stomping grounds and it’s understandable how one might think this type of scenario to be pretty crappy.

Not lion chasers.  No!  Instead, they lock eyes with the lion (fear) and actively chase it down.  Granted, this is a huge risk, right?  But what’s a greater risk: chasing down the lion and doing battle with it or remaining paralyzed for much of your existence due to the fear that holds you captive?  I’ll take my chances with facing my fears any day.  Yes.  Chasing lions is risky business, but in Christ all things are possible and we are not called to live in fear outside of the fear of the Lord.  All other fears are unnatural and learned behaviors.

God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but one of courage and love and sound mind.  It’s up to us to live in the fear of the Lord and the freedom that comes from knowing and living for Him.

What’s keeping you from actively taking a risk in the Lord?

HEROES: A look at what’s coming…

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HEROES: We grow up with heroes in our lives, men and women that stand out above the crowd because of some super-human strengths or incredible abilities, strengths and abilities that are used to help and save others.

What are the characteristics of a hero? Where are heroes found? Do real life heroes exist? How about you? Are you capable of being a hero?

In our series, HEROES, we are going to examine the lives of some men and women that stood out above the rest; people that God used in significant ways to help or save others just like you and me. We’re also going to look at what we can learn from these biblical heroes and how we can apply their experiences and characteristics in our lives today.

You, too, have a hero inside of you!

“Living Life as an Underdog”

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This last weekend, God revealed to us the value there is in living life as an underdog.  If you weren’t able to be join us for our Celebration Service, I want to invite you to be a part of the message.  You can check it out online (here) or by going to https://vimeo.com/77942246.

UNDERDOG

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, one of the things that I looked forward to at the park was hitting the swing sets and having someone give me an underdog.  You know, someone getting behind you, loading up and running all the way through and under you while pushing you to great heights.  Man, that was an awesome feeling as a kid!

One of the cool things about being a dad is sharing experiences with my kids that I enjoyed as a youngster.  Just the other day my daughter, Tailyn, was sitting on a swing and called out to me, “Dad!  Can you come give me an underdog?!”  Man, that is an awesome feeling as an adult!

If I were to sum up an underdog beyond the act it would be helping someone achieve something that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to accomplish on their own.

Did you catch that?  Attaining something that we couldn’t otherwise reach on our own.  Sure, there are those that are skilled enough on a swing to pump their feet and to reach great heights on a swing in time, but never an underdog on their own; the speed, the velocity, the height, and all within a short period of time.  No.  An underdog is only achieved when someone helps us get where we couldn’t otherwise get on our own.

GIDEON, THE UNDERDOG

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament of the Bible is of a guy named Gideon; an Israelite who had learned to live in fear of the Midianties and Amalekites because of their barbaric treatment of his people and the subsequent power that these powers from the east possessed.  If you’ve never read the story, it’s a doozy.  You can check it out in the book of (Judges 7).

The long and short of the story of Gideon is this – God took Gideon and the Israelites to heights that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to achieve on their own.  It was through Gideon that God spared the Israelites yet again.

Through the story of Gideon there are at least 5 lessons that we can learn.

LESSONS FROM GIDEON AND GOD

Lesson #1 – Direction
Throughout Gideon’s encounters with God, he was receiving direction from the LORD.  It wasn’t Gideon wandering through the desert trying to figure things out on his own.  Instead, God was specific with Gideon on what He had in store for him; what He expected from Gideon and was calling him to do.  What’s more is that Gideon was open to the LORD’s leading and receiving direction from God.  He wasn’t concerned about the inconvenience or the cost or the work that was required to follow God’s leading.  Instead, Gideon wanted to be certain that he knew God’s direction and asked God for a sign; three signs in fact, as a way of being sure of the direction that God was leading Gideon.

In our lives, we need to know God in order to know His direction.  If we don’t know God, how can we ever know or understand His direction let alone follow His direction?  Some of the best ways to know God include reading the Bible, mediation, prayer, living in community with other believers, and actively living out our faith.

What’s keeping you from knowing God and understanding His direction for you in your life?

Lesson #2 – Worship
In light of Gideon’s encounter with God and at God’s faithfulness, he had but one response; to worship.  Gideon fell prostrate or flat on his face before God; a position of humility and respect.  It was a natural response for Gideon to worship God in light of their relationship and his understanding of the LORD in his life.

As far as body language and personal position, there is no lower position a person can take than flat on their face or prostrate.  This is an incredible display of the acknowledgment that someone (God) or something (God) is significantly greater than you are.  It’s a humble position, and yet, one of the most powerful positions a person can take.  It’s an attitude and application of worship and recognition that God is God and I am not; that He alone is great and worthy to be praised.  Falling on your face is an act of worship and display of love and humble fear.  We are called to worship like Gideon

What’s keeping you from worshiping God?

Lesson #3 – Strategy
After Gideon experiences worship to God, his next step in line with what God was calling him to was to develop a strategy in order to live out God’s commission in his life.  Gideon was a skilled man with a creative ability to make things happen; evident in how he separated the chaff from the wheat in an unnatural place and position.  His commission from God to take out the Midianites and Amalekites was no different.  Instead of barging in to the enemies camp with only 300 men verse their tens of thousands of men, Gideon knew that he needed to be strategic about how he would accomplish what God was calling him to.

While some in circles might suggest that strategizing is a lack of dependence on God, I couldn’t disagree more.  God has given us an intellect and experiences that we are to use in our daily living.  We need to be strategic – strategic about life, about our relationship with God and more.  If we are not strategic about accomplishing the things that God is calling us to or strategic about how we are growing in our walk with God, how does that honor God?  Let me tell you.  It doesn’t!  Instead, we must be intentional as well as strategic in an effort to honor God and live out his commission and calling on our lives.

What’s keeping you from being strategic about God in your life and the things that He has/is calling you to?

Lesson #4 – Obedience
Okay, so once Gideon has developed a strategy for how he is going accomplish what God was calling him to, his next natural response was to be obedient to God.  This is where the rubber met the road for Gideon and his army of 300 men.  The time for strategizing was no more and the time was upon them to do all that God had called and commissioned them to do.  The only thing left; to act in obedience and live it out.  And that’s exactly what Gideon and his army did – they lived out their strategy in an effort to honor God.

In our lives, we are usually pretty good about most things leading up to this point, but it’s when we are faced with the reality of action that we tend to stumble, back pedal or even run the other direction.  What good are all of the other steps if we aren’t willing to live out what God has/is calling us to?  We need to be willing to walk in obedience, to be intentional about living out that which God has commissioned in our lives.  It’s up to us to obey and we leave the rest of up to Him.

What’s keeping you from being obedient to the things that God has/is calling you to?

Lesson #5 – Commitment
Commitment.  This might be the toughest for Gideon yet.  He executes his strategy and God’s calling and commission in his life; he’s in the enemy camp with tens of thousands of soldiers drawing their swords and running around in complete chaos.  It must have been incredibly intimidating to know that at any moment the worst of what you thought imaginable could be happening to you.  The noise.  The panic.  The people.  The animals.  The campfires.  All of it must have been sensory stimuli to the max, yet in the midst of all of what was going on, when it would have been easier to cut bait and leave maybe watching from a distance, Gideon and his army STOOD THEIR GROUND and were committed to that which God had called them to.  It was that commitment that brought them ultimate victory over the armies that had kept the Israelites captive for the last 7 years and living in fear for their lives.

Commitment is something that mankind is greatly lacking, isn’t it?  It’s always great to get into something, but sticking with it in the heat of the battle can be exhausting, taxing, frightening and so much more.  How difficult it is to stand our ground in the midst of the battles that rage around us.  Yet that is exactly what God would have you and I do; stand our ground and stay committed.  It’s through the battles and the subsequent victories on the other side that we will experience the fullness of that which the LORD intends for us.

What’s stopping you from honoring your commitment to God and to the things that He has for you?

I pray that we may experience the direction of God like never before, that we would worship Him as a way of life, that you and I might become more and more strategic about how we execute what God is calling us to, that we would be obedient to the LORD’s commission in our lives, and that when the battle is being waged, that you and I might stand our ground as we trust and obey.

Until all hear,

Pastor Andrew

“Obedience Is Our Success”

Epic Fail: Complete and total failure when success should have been reasonably easy to attain.Image

Have you ever experienced one of those “epic fail” moments in life where something that seemed so easy and should have been attainable fell apart?  Of course you have!  We all have.  Everyone of us has failed at something, sometime, somewhere in our life.

Failure
What is failure?  In order to really answer this accurately you have to know where your standard of success comes from, right?

What is your standard of success – at work, financially, in your home, with your relationships, at your church, in philanthropy, etc.?  If you’re like most, your standard of success has been developed over the years according to the expectations of this world.  In order to be considered successful you have to make a certain amount of money or be in a specific type of relationship, you have to have a lifestyle that meets these standards through the vehicles you drive, the toys you have, the square footage and location of your home(s), etc. The list for what we have come to understand as success is exhaustive and exhausting.

It stands to reason then that “failure” is a lack of accomplishing or meeting the standards for success that we and others have superimposed on society in our country and around the world.

If that’s the case, my understanding of success, where do you fall?  Where do I fall?  Are we successful in some things or at all?

New Standard
Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome said of the standards of this world:

“Do not conform to the pattern (standards) of this world, but be transformed (new standards) by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2 | NIV

If this is how we are called to live our lives, a process of redefining and living according to a new set of standards for success this side of heaven, what keeps us from success according to the word of God?

At Illumination Church
Within church circles around the globe there have been standards of success set up for the local church: how many “members” do you have, what is your average attendance, what’s your annual budget, how many staff members do you have, how many new salvations/conversion have you experienced within your church, baptism, sanctifications, and on and on and on…  I’m exhausted even typing up these questions that we, as Pastors and leaders, are asked and ask others in reference to success.  And these are just some of the questions that we face.

Please don’t get me wrong.  Numbers and statistics matter…WHEN USED APPROPRIATELY!  I’m a numbers guy and I do care about large numbers.  Sounds contradictory right?  It’s not!  What I mean by “I’m a numbers guy” is this: every NUMBER has a NAME and every NAME matters to God.  The more we have an opportunity to interact and engage with people, the more we get to share the gospel (good news) message of Christ and that matters!  The more we baptize; the more people are taking a stand for God and going public with their faith and that matters!  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I don’t want to be about numbers to have the “largest” church for personal gain or independent pride.  That’s not what this is about.  That’s NOT the standard of success that I have for Illumination Church.

Inside Illumination Church, obedience is our success.  Obedience is our success!

We will not be guided by a set of standards according to the world, however well-intentioned they may be.  As a church, we’re not interested in gauging our success based on the latest statistical reports from church experts or based on the bias’ of this world.  No!  Instead, we are a church that is committed to a standard that says, obedience is our success – obedience to God, to His word, to his commands and commissions.  These will form our standard of success.  Obedience is our success.

In Your Life
What is keeping you from success in your life?  It’s probably the same thing(s) that keeps me from feeling like I’ve somehow arrived or have achieved or reached or whatever word you want to use to describe your level of success.  Screwed up standards.

Last week at our Celebration Service at Illumination Church I shared a message that addresses these concerns: (Click here to watch the message).  If you missed the message, I want to encourage you to check it out as I believe that God will speak to you through what He did on Sunday morning.

What I Want You To Know
What I want you to know is that obedience to God needs to be our standard for success as individuals and as a church.  We can’t live according to the standards for success of this world and believe that this is honoring God.  I believe what we must do is shift our thinking and begin living in a way that expresses obedience as our success in life (finances, family, faith, fitness, etc.) and in our church.

What I Believe We Need To Do
What I believe we need to do is get into God’s word; I mean really dig in, and discover what His standards for success are.  We need to reprogram our minds and arrange our idea of success based on that which honors God, his Word, his commands and his commissions.  Now this will take some time and intentionality, but if we were dedicated to honoring God and believing that obedience is our success, things will never look or be the same again.

How We Do It
I’d love to give some profound insight as to how we go about re-arranging our thinking and setting up a new standard for success.  That said, I really can’t.  It’s too simple for that, and as simple as it is, we are always tempted to make it much harder than it needs to be.  How do we do it?  We put one foot in front of the other and we live it out.  That’s it.  Start with prayer.  Begin reading your Bible.  Highlight, circle, underline and bookmark everywhere and every time God sets up a standard for success throughout the Bible, specifically the New Testament (a theological discussion for another blog).  Write these standards for success down on a sheet of paper and live them out.  Become obedient to the word and the will of God.  That’s success!  It doesn’t matter what this world, which we can’t take any of with us, tells us.  Obedience to God is our success!

Andrew Anderson
Illumination Church | Lead Pastor

What If? – Vision

What If? – Vision (click to watch the video)

We finished up our “What If?” series this past Sunday, and what an incredible time together as God shared the power of living out a vision.

The question that was posed Sunday was this: “Have you ever believed a lie, lived a lie or sold a lie?”

Too often we accept the lies of this world, which ultimately become something that we live out and eventually can turn into something that we sell to those around us.  This is common in nearly every area of our lives and is something that we have to intentionally wrestle against.

One of the lies that we, as individuals and as a church, have come to believe is the lie that tells you and me, “You can’t make a difference.”  What’s crazy is that the more we hear this crap, the more we believe it and the more we live it out.  We actually become so accustomed to believing this lie that we begin to sell it to others and justify why we can’t make a difference, making excuses like “If people only knew my past” or “I don’t have the skill set to make an impact” or “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the money” or “I don’t have the experience” and on and on and on.  It’s awful, these lies that we listen to, believe, accept, live out and recreate to others.  It’s just awful, and it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Let’s take it to Scripture for a minute.

There are many significant figures throughout the Bible, that nearly goes without saying, and no where do I find a more significant man when it comes to living out a vision than that  of Ananias.  In the book of Acts, Luke shares a testimony about a vision that Jesus gives to this man, Ananias, as well as his response and the power of obedience in living out a vision.

10 Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied.

11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

13 “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.”

15 But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.
(Acts 9:10-19 | NLT)

Here’s what I think is so significant about Ananias obedience in living out the vision that Christ gave him and a question that we need to consider.  Because of Ananias’ choice to actively pursue the vision that God gave him in spite of the circumstances of this world, his obedience literally changed the trajectory of the Christian faith…literally!  Now, the question.  If Ananias had not been obedient to the call of God in his life by way of the vision that Christ gave him, would our faith be nothing more than antiquates; a faith that is talked about as a novelty?

So if God could use someone like Ananias: a man without a PHD or a MBA, a man without a ton of experience or all of the skills necessary to make a difference; if God could use his simple act of obedience in living out the vision that God gave him, what can God do through you?  What can God do through us, the church?

Let me take out all of the guess work for you and just tell you…God can do more than you or I could ever imagine in our obedience and in living out the vision that Christ gives us.

You don’t believe that.  Check out what Jesus tells his disciples: a group of misfit teenage guys who are trying to figure out this whole life and ministry thing by the minute:

Jesus: 12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12 | NLT)

Let me give an example for you to chew on.  Jesus, after he kicked death in the teeth and conquered the grave, went and showed himself to his disciples and followers; 120 in all (Acts 1), and commands them to go and take their ministry to Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  120 men and women; guys and girls without the power of social media (Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat, you get the point), and to share their lives and faith with a world in need.  There were no cars.  There were no trains.  There were no planes.  They didn’t even have the latest in foot fashion (Nike, Adidas, Reebok, TOMS, etc.).  What they had was a vision from Jesus to change the way people view God.

Here’s the thing, within a few hundred years, better than half of the Roman nation were Christians because of the disciples commitment to living out their vision.  Did you get that?  Men and women gave up everything in pursuit of the vision that Jesus gave them and literally walked thousands of miles into hundreds if not thousands of communities to share their lives and faith with others.  And it changed a nation; the most powerful nation on earth in that era.

If God did all of that with a group of 120 people who were simply willing to live out their vision, what could/would God do through you, through me, through Illumination Church today if we were committed to the call and cause of Christ today, tomorrow and into the future?

What if you lived out your vision?

What if we, as a church, lived out our vision?

Obedience is our success and I believe that God is calling us to share and to live out our vision in our community: Shakopee, Savage, Prior Lake, Burnsville, Jordan, Bloomington and beyond.

Buckle up!  It’s gonna be quite a ride!!

– Pastor Andrew