Monday Musing (4.14.2014)

I’m sitting in my office on Monday afternoon, nearly 3:30pm in the afternoon, and still can’t get over what we’ve experienced recently as a church.  Wow!  Seriously?!  It’s rare, but I find myself near speechless…  Nah!

Here are a few thoughts that are bouncing around in my brain from yesterday:

  • The Campus: When I look around at our new Burnsville Campus, it never ceases to amaze me how many people have stepped up and helped to make our new worship space what it is – warm, inviting, exciting, relevant and so much more.  I’m blessed by the countless incredible volunteers who have absolutely poured it out for Jesus in an effort to make His name famous in our new building.
  • The Music: Yesterday was the first time we’ve experienced live music from a full band and it was nothing short of awesome!  Pastor Brian has done an outstanding job recruiting, training and leading musicians and vocalists, all in an effort to glorify the Name of God and in leading people to a place of reflection and adoration through music.  Image
  • The People: I serve the greatest church in Minnesota…really!  No, REALLY!!  I cannot imagine a more exceptional group of men, women and children to do life and ministry with.  If you’re reading this and you’re a part of Illumination Church, that means YOU!  What’s more is that I am so encouraged by how many new people God is drawing to IC.  I’m looking forward to our continued growth in life and ministry as we continue to be a church on purpose, with a purpose and for a purpose.  
  • The Volunteers: From IC Kids to our Greeters and Parking Attendants and more, IC is blessed by the people who have stepped up to make our ministries possible; to make them what they are.  God is using the volunteers here at our church to help change the way people view God.  Thank you for those within Illumination Church who continue to step up and pour it out.  It matters!
  • WHYIC?: Talk about impact – our WHYIC? campaign is being seen far and wide.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share IC with our new community and beyond and to be able to engage people where they’re at, inviting them to partner with us in life and ministry and all of the reasons why.  From the tee-shirts to the invites, the black “goodie-bags” and more, I can hardly wait to see how God uses this campaign to reach people.  It’s going to be awesome!

This week I’m looking forward to:

  • Going to 2 services on Sunday morning.  We’ve added a second service and changed the times of our Celebration Services for convenience and in order to accommodate for the growth that we’re expecting as well as to allow our amazing volunteers an opportunity to serve as well as attend a Celebration Service without missing a beat.
  • Starting our new “The Power One” series.  It’s going to be phenomenal!  I’m so excited to kick things off this coming weekend in sharing about one of the most powerful numbers in existence: the number 1.  
  • Encountering Christ.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to encountering Christ with the people of our church as well as with the people that will come and be a part of IC for the first time.  Looking forward to being a part of what God’s going to do this weekend.

So there you have it; some things that are bouncing around in my head on a Monday afternoon.  

I pray that you find encouragement in who you are in Christ.  I pray that God’s presence is both felt and in experienced in your life this week and that you others will see Jesus in you and me.  

Until all hear,

Pastor Andrew

Red Dot Faith

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If you have an iPhone, like me, you’re probably used to seeing those red notification dots on your screen indicating that the app requires attention. If you’re anything like me, they tend to build up and the numbers inside those pesky red dots continues to grow. Eventually, my screen looks like it has a full-blown case of chicken pox. I hate it. Those dots all represent things that I need to do. Eventually, I have to take intentional time out of my day to go through them all until my screen is clear again. Victory is usually short-lived, though, and the little red bubbles of uncompleted tasks start showing up like they never really left.
 
The one that I have the hardest time with, though, is the one on my Bible app. I try to keep up with reading plans and devotions. I set reminders in the app so I don’t forget. When the red dot on the Bible is present for more than a couple hours, I feel like I’m neglecting God. It’s almost like that red dot represents God sitting there on my phone screen saying “Hey, remember me? Why don’t you open this app?!” The guilt of letting that dot remain on my screen builds. I get anxious, like I’m failing some way. I could turn off the notifications, but then I imagine I’d feel even guiltier. The longer it remains, the more anxious I get. My stress level builds, like I’m going to somehow lose my salvation if I let the number inside the bubble get any greater than “1”. Sometimes I go into the app just to appease the little red dot. “Whew,” I think to myself, “I can’t be that bad of a Christian- look, my red bubble is gone!”.
 
I’ve somehow come to equate my closeness to God with a red dot my phone screen. No dot = good Christian. Red dot with number “1” in it = Average Christian who better attend to his Bible app or face God’s impending wrath. Red dot with any number greater than “1” = The apocalypse will surely happen, and it will be my fault.
 
Today in my reading (no red dot!) I came across a simple verse that spoke amazing truth about the work of Christ on the cross and what it means for us. Peter stands up in Acts 15: 11 and says “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” Undeserved grace. There it is: a 2-word answer to my feelings of inadequacy when I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job for God. Undeserved– we can’t DO anything to earn it. If I read my Bible 50x a day and memorize 180,000 verses, I’m no more deserving of His grace than anyone else. Grace– a favor, a gift, extended to me out of kindness. Nothing more. No strings attached. If I’m willing to accept it, He’s willing to give it.
 
I don’t mean this to be an excuse for not going to church, or not reading your Bible, or not praying, or not paying attention to God in any other way. It was a reminder to me, and hopefully to you as well, that no one can DO anything to earn God’s grace and salvation. We simply have to accept it. Understanding that His grace is available to us not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what HE did through Christ, allows us to live without the burden of inadequacy. We won’t be perfect. We will stumble and fall. We’ll have times when we feel directly connected to God. We may have times when we feel completely apart from Him. Regardless of where we are, I am confident that He remains right by our side, continually offering the amazing, undeserved gift of His grace. We just need to accept it.
 
Jason Reynolds | IC Youth Pastor

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: Week 1 – “Jeff-Who?”

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Jeff-Who?

This past week we kicked off our new series titled “Heroes”.  If you happened to miss last week’s sermon you can find it here (HEROES – Week 1).  Similar to the Hall of Fame that the NFL has in Canton, Ohio, there is also a “Hall of Faith” that is described in Hebrews 11.  There we find the names of individuals who were placed in the “Hall” based on the hope and confidence they had in the Lord.  There are names that many of us easily recognize such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David and many other names that are not as easily recognizable. We focused on Jephthah (jeff-ta) in the message this past week as he portrayed the following traits that can be considered heroic:

  • Forgiveness: Despite being shipped out of town by his family and forced to fend for himself, Jephthah came to the rescue of the same people that abandoned him when asked.  We all have people in our lives that we can extend forgiveness to; family members, friends, people at work, people at church.  Maybe they said or did something to us that cause us to treat them differently.  Forgiving them and loving them is one way we can truly be “heroic” and allowing others to see Christ through us.
  • Integrity: Despite making a vow to the Lord that causes Jephthah to sacrifice something he loves most, he does not waver in his commitment.  Many times we make vows to God that we will change our behavior, change our thoughts, etc., if He will only rescue us from a situation.  If you’re like me, following through on that commitment rarely occurs.  Integrity means, “being a person of character”.  In our world today it is hard to find someone with integrity.  If we can people of our word and exhibit strong character we will stand out for Christ to others.

Join us over the upcoming weeks to learn about more heroic characteristics that all of us can exhibit daily.  I found a great quote on heroism that I think wraps it all up nicely,

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”

Have a blessed week,

Michael Bergstrom

Heroes Intro – Week 2

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A message from Pastor Andrew about this coming weekend. Check it out…

“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!”

HEROES – Week 1

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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!

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!