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All, Books
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Book Review: The Hobbit

The-Hobbit-1024x1024Book 15 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

The Hobbit (by: J.R.R. Tolkien)
Link to this book

Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf. Hobbits. Gollum. It’s hard to imagine modern culture without these names. I wonder what Tolkien would’ve thought if he only knew how amazingly loved these books still are.
It blows my mind that entire college courses have been done studying these books.
I’m not going to go into any kind of explanation here. Just to say that the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are probably going to be annual reads for me for a very long time. It’s a great way to escape our world for a little while and travel through Middle Earth.

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All, Books
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Book Reviews: The Hunger Games

hunger-games1Book 12, 13, 14 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

The Hunger Games (by: Suzanne Collins)

Link to this book

This book series will always have a special place for me because we used the first movie (The Hunger Games) for part four of our series “Church at the Movies”.  The author said she first thought of the idea while flipping channels one night between soliders fighting in Iraq and reality TV. She said it seemed odd that two people about the same age were living completely different lives yet both competing for a prize. One was competing for their lives and the freedom of a nation while others were competing for their 15 seconds of fame.

While this trilogy is completely made up, it does present some great life lessons.
We’re taught to never doubt our abilities. We are also encouraged to see that given the right circumstances, greatness is waiting to be revealed in all of us. Katnis (the leading figure) never asked for everything which happened. However, she rose to the occasion.

This book makes me think of the great quote, “Some are born with greatness. Others have greatness thrust upon them.”

One person can truly change a generation if they are willing to pay the price.

This was a fun read and quite a few twists and turns. Definitely recommend it for your next vacation or down time.

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All, Books
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Book Review: Ir-Reverend

Irreverend-book-coverBook 5 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Ir-Reverend (By: Greg Surratt)

Link to this book

First of all, I love this guy. Before Greg Surratt was my leader as the president of the ARC he already had my respect as a great pastor and man of God.

Then I read his book. What can I say? It’s everything a great book should be. It’s encouraging, uplifting, funny, challenging, and then some.

I’m a sucker for good stories and this book is packed full of them. My favorite one would have to be when he took his staff to a movie theater to watch a ‘family movie’. Let’s just say there was a mix up in what they were suppose to be viewing! Classic greatness.

Greg also does a great job diving into the deeper issues of his faith with a transparent honestly which will leave you looking deeper inside yourself as well.

This book gets 9 out of 10 stars.

Well worth the read.

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A Letter to RLC, All
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A Letter to RLC>>>

Hello RLC!

What an amazing weekend! It was definitely up there as one of my favorites for sure.  Here are a couple of things I took away:

#1- It’s important not to allow ourselves to be seduced by the good things in our lives. Make sure to get with someone this week and take a true, honest look at yourself. Where is God on your Top Ten list?
It’s been amazing to see how our current series SOUL DETOX has impacted so many lives.
What’s even more amazing is the best of this series is still to come! The next two weekends we will be discussing TOXIC THOUGHTS and TOXIC WORDS.
We’ve been talking about detoxing our souls but now it’s important to not let them become poisoned again. These two areas are among the most poisonous things we deal with from day to day. Can’t wait to share TOXI THOUGHTS with you this Sunday.

#2- Some have been asking about the message archive on the RLC website. Currently the latest messages have not been uploaded to the site. However you can still view the entire worship experiences on the RLC YouTube Channel. See the entire worship experience and enjoy it all over again.

#3- Two Worship Experiences. BIG SHOUT OUT to the amazing RLC Dream Team for pulling off another excellent week of Two Service Option Sundays. This has been a big step for the DT and they have responded in an amazing way. I love RLC!

#4- Easter is only 40 days away! Plans are being made now to make this Easter Celebration the best one yet! We’ve even considering offering a 3rd worship experience. Have you thought about who you are going to invite? This time of the year is the best for inviting friends and neighbors who usually do not attend church at all. Let’s not just go to church, let’s BE the church!

#5- Do you want to do more? Do you want to feel like you are a part of something bigger than yourself where you can plug into something worthwhile?  Do you want to make a difference with your unique talents and abilities?
If so, why not join the team at RLC? At RLC, we believe that your design reveals your destiny. Let us show you how. With two services on Sunday  there have never been more opportunities for you to plug in and become part of the team. Want to know more? Email us here.

Hope you all have a great week and I look forward to seeing you this coming weekend!

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentines Day

Some of us look forward to this day with great excitement. Others of us not so much. No matter where you find yourself never forget you are loved, cherished, and honored by all of us at RLC and, most importantly, by our great God. We sincerely hope you have a great day.

 

1 Corinthians 13

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

 

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Why Life Groups? They Help Grow My Relationships

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They help me grow my relationships.

Hebrews 6:1-3 NLT

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.

1. Grow my relationships with others. Life is so much better together. Psalms says, “Oh how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” However most of us don’t experience a lot of unity. When we get to know each other and build relationships we slowly earn ‘buy-in’ into each others lives. Our opinions carry more weight because we have time invested. We slowly build trust. These are the people who can truly become life-changers. They can speak into our lives with weight and clarity because we’ve both taken the time to get to know each other and understand our complex life situations.

2. Grow my relationship with myself. There’s an old phrase which simply says, “Know Thyself”. Most of us have no idea who we really are. Mainly because we all have blind spots. There are certain things about myself I either cannot see or choose not to see. Either way, they are there whether I like it or not. Life Groups are a place where someone else who has ‘buy-in’ can show me these blind spots. Maybe I have untapped potential in a my life but have never noticed it. Someone else can point it out. Maybe I have a anger problem but don’t really want to address it. Someone else who I trust may be able to talk to me where my wife or kids wouldn’t dare.

3. Grow my relationship with God. The best way to get to know God is in the context of a group.  Life Groups should never take the place of your personal daily devotion time. However, in a group you can study out the Word of God and discuss what you find. You can relate a spiritual understand and apply it to real life situations. You can even request godly wisdom from others around you. When you are around other people who are pursuing God, your going to move farther.

 

Life groups help me grow in my relationships.

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A Letter to RLC, All
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Letter to RLC>>>

Howdy RLC!

What an amazing weekend we’ve just had. It was awesome! This next week is going to be even more spectacular as well and I cannot wait to see what’s going happen. here are few things I want to share with you today:

#1. This past Sunday was the RLC One Year Anniversary Celebration. It was great. Thank you to everyone who came out in spite of the snow and icky weather to celebrate. RLC is now 1 year old. It’s amazing to see how far we have come and everything God has done. Can’t wait to see what’s in store this year. For those who were wanting to see it again, here is a link to the one year anniversary celebration video the media team created.

#2. This Sunday is a special day as well for RLC. It’s the first time ever RLC has offered two new worship experience options—> 9:30am and 11am.
Now, you might be thinking “BIG DEAL” but to those who have embraced the vision of RLC IT IS. This is an opportunity to provide those far from God with multiple opportunities to come and hear about a God who loves them. It’s an opportunity for those who’ve wanted to get involved with the church to do so. It’s also an opportunity for the serve teams to worship one/serve one. It’s a great day. Can’t wait till this weekend.

#3. I want to say a HUGE WELCOME to over 19 new dream team members! Way to go guys. It’s so great to serve with you. At Real Life Church, we believe it’s one thing to GO to church and another to BE the church.

#4. We have a house now to make it a home.  There are still opportunities available for those interesting in serving. Where can you make a difference in the lives of others?

  •  Media Team
  • Video editing
  • Worship Band
  • KidsLife

Click here to get more info about any of these serve opportunities.

#5. Found people find people.  This is one of the best times of the year to invite those you know who are far from God. Now with two worship experience options it’s easier than ever.  If you’ve found the love of God in your own life you’ll agree there’s nothing greater than helping someone experience it as well.

#6. LIFE GROUPS

 

Let’s do this.

Have a great week.

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All, prayer|fasting
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Day Twenty-One: Because There’s More

It’s not only about us. We need to be free. We need to be close to Jesus for our own wellbeing, but also for others. Because there’s more … is why we fast and pray.

What are God’s purposes on the earth today? Are people in bondage, desperate for freedom, crying out to a God they don’t even know? Does He desire to use us to break their chains? Yes and yes! The real question is whether you and I will interrupt our lives and our routines to help.

If you read Isaiah 58 carefully, you see that the chapter actually begins with God rebuking the people who were fasting because their form of fasting was merely a mundane outward display to demonstrate their religiosity. God is looking for the real deal!

Men, women and children desperately cry out for help every day, all over the world, perhaps even right down the street. They are abused, oppressed, misused, hungry, alone, forgotten, and crushed. That is why the fast God desires is not an empty, passionless religious act that bears no fruit.

God has a specific purpose for fasting and prayer.

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. —ISAIAH 58:6–11

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All, prayer|fasting
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Day Twenty: The Main Dish

Guest post from Free Chapel:

You’re in the home stretch of this fast and right about now you may be having dreams about hot, fluffy, brown yeast rolls. So, I encourage you to stay strong as we have a conversation about bread.

In ancient times bread was regarded as the main course because it was a main source of nutrition. Long before our TV commercials proclaimed, “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner” the slogan would have been more like, “Bread: it’s what’s for dinner.”

When God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they were given specific instructions on what to eat that final night; they were to “be ready,” with no time for dough to rise, so a very important part of the Passover meal was, and continues to be, unleavened bread.

Their wandering in the desert for forty years made it hard, if not impossible, to plant and harvest wheat for bread. So the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not” (Ex. 16:4). They ate that “bread of heaven” daily for the duration of their time in the desert.

As you can see, bread wasn’t a “take it or leave it” side option like today.

Now, thinking about how important bread was in the history of the Israelites, we look at John chapter 6. Jesus’ words in this chapter were pivotal, even for some of His followers who could not accept His claim to be “the Bread of Life.” The chapter begins with Jesus multiplying five small loaves of barley bread and two small fish that a little boy in the crowd was saving for his lunch.

When they followed him the next day and asked for more miracles, He replied,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”—JOHN 6:32-35

“I am the bread of life.” What a statement! Jesus stated, “I am the bread of life,” in that culture, intending to get their attention. He wanted them to understand, “You need Me every day. You can’t make it without Me. I’m the central issue of your life. Without Me, without bread, you’ll perish.”

I can do without a lot of things, but I cannot do anything without Jesus. He’s not something at the end of the table in a basket that I can take or leave. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16

Eat to your fill of His presence today!

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All, prayer|fasting
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Day Nineteen: Someone To Challenge You

Guest Blog Post from Free Chapel:

In 2 Kings 13:14-19, the prophet Elisha was on his death bed. And, Joash, King of Israel, came to him for one last piece of advice because the Syrians were attacking the country. Elisha told him to take a bow and arrows and put his hand on the bow.

These scriptures may not make a lot of sense to you concerning the theme of fasting, but I want to tie them together over the next couple of days in a way that I feel the Lord would have me share with you.

Do you know that everybody needs a man of God in their life? You need someone who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but someone who will tell you what you need to hear. Someone who won’t just make you feel good, but someone who will also challenge you.

I was thinking about how Elisha had a double portion of the anointing of Elijah. Before he received that, 2 Kings 2 says that Elisha tore his robe into two pieces and took up the mantle of Elijah. Notice he had to take off before he could put on. And we have to rid ourselves of some things before God will send the double portion anointing.

I believe God’s double portion anointing can come on us for complete victory, when we rid ourselves of sins like offense, unforgiveness and pride. On this fast, let’s get rid of some things so we can receive other things from God.

When you take that stuff off, you humble yourself. And James 4:6 says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Fast for complete victory in your life. Victory is when you completely overcome the enemy. It is the cutting off of Goliath’s head. It is the dancing on the grave of your enemy. It is not co-existing with partial victory. Jesus came “that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Jesus came to bring complete victory.

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All, prayer|fasting
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Day Eighteen: Living Inside Out

Guest post from Free Chapel

Continue to be open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit during this fast because the only cure for sin is to be cleansed and changed from the inside out. When it comes to the heart of man, what goes in also comes out.

That is why Jesus exposed the Pharisees for their pious religious front. He called them pretenders and hypocrites, saying, “You are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything impure. Just so, you also outwardly seem to people to be just and upright but inside you are full of pretense and lawlessness and iniquity.”—Matthew 23:27-28

They looked the part. They played the role. They religiously went through the motions. But they spent much more attention creating the outward standard than they spent following the inward standard. What is on the inside will show on the outside. Think about it this way: When someone gets sick and nausea takes hold, that person doesn’t need training on how to make what is on the inside…come out. The body knows how to do that all by itself! When you have junk inside—junk comes out. But in like manner, when you have Jesus inside—Jesus comes out.

I think the longer that we serve the Lord the easier it can be to get caught up in the routine of religion. I have to fight that at times. I feel the pressure to be what I am expected to be outwardly even though I may feel totally drained inside. That is why we have to be careful not to put so much energy into keeping up the outward appearance that before long it’s just that—an exterior whitewashing to cover a withering interior. It is dangerous for a person or a ministry to be growing outwardly but shrinking in passion for Jesus inwardly.

If I sense my passion for Jesus beginning to fade, I fast. I can’t stress enough how fasting helps you regain the edge when you are growing dull. It immediately helps you get refocused on only those things that really matter, and cleanse yourself of the rest. Fasting helps you maintain the inward brokenness that allows God to make your outside match your inside. It’s living “inside out.” You don’t have to fake it on the outside when you are full of the Lord on the inside.

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All, prayer|fasting
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Day Seventeen: When Should I Fast?

As you are ending your time of fasting you may be thinking when you will do this again?

At Real Life Church, we only fast corporately once a year. However, that doesn’t mean you should only fast then. This spiritual discipline can benefit you greatly as it becomes a new habit for you.

Here is an excerpt from an article I read recently on When We Should Fast:

1. When you are facing a mammoth task that you cannot do by yourself.

Nehemiah fasted while rebuilding the temple.

Examples: moving, launching a new business, starting new career, the adoption of a child

2. When you are facing physical danger.

Esther called a fast when her people faced persecution

Examples: facing surgery, preparing for military duty, performing a dangerous job or task

3. When you are under attack from the enemy.

II Chronicles 20 – King Jehoshaphat called a fast when his enemies surrounded him

Examples: when you face opposition to fulfilling the promises of God for you and your family.

4. When you are appalled at society

Ezra 9, Jonah 3

Examples: widespread abortion, the promotion of the radical homosexual agenda, the spread of immorality through the media

5. When you desire for your church to grow and prosper

Acts 2: 42, 47

6. When you encounter demonic oppression

Mark 9:17- 29

Prayer and fasting will cause Satan to tuck his tail and run!

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