Monday, January 31, 2011

Revolution Sunday

Click Here to Listen to the Sermon for Sunday, January 30, 2011 by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Scripture Reference: Acts 2:42-47

Read the news and it’s easy to see what the world’s idea of revolution is.  As a follower of Jesus, revolution is something different.  There are no guns or bombs, we don’t hate or kill; he calls us to something more. 
At MVCC, we’ve been challenged to give up New Year’s Resolutions and make a New Years Revolution in our community.  We’ve been studying Acts 2:42-47 in light of the first church, historic revivals, and the conditions of today’s church.  We have decided we want to start a revolution at our church.  We are going to spend the next year exploring what it means to be a church like the first church, a group of people that are so caught on to Jesus’ mission and calling that our very lives change.
We want to be radically generous, givers in a world of takers, sacrificially sharing our resources and time to make a difference in this world.  We will learn to live on less so we can give more generously.  We will purposely reduce our busy schedules so we can volunteer more.
We want to be revolutionary with our love, welcoming in those who the world casts out, loving the ones that no one else loves, and practicing forgiveness and reconciliation in our relationships.  We will be intentional in building bridges, inviting people in, and getting to know one another.  We will eat together, pray together, worship together, serve together, and reach out to others together.
We want our faith to reform us, to change who we are because we follow Christ.  As we become new beings in Christ, our lives will begin to look so different that it should amaze others.  We will change from takers to givers, from haters to peacemakers, from those who worry to people of prayer. And we will do this together.
Jesus called us to shelter the homeless, clothe the needy, welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, adopt the orphan, reach out to the outcasts, and support the widow.  He told us to be known by our love and our action, not by politics or protest signs.  He taught us to be useful in the world now, not just hope for future in heaven.  He wants us to be unified in our community and to be busy about his work.  This is our challenge and this is the journey we are on.
This last Sunday, we began this journey.  We had a different type of worship service.  We began in the sanctuary with prayer and praise, and we continued in the fellowship hall with a meal together and a presentation on our new step in ministry. 
We are beginning a new small group ministry called REVO Groups.  These groups will be unlike the old idea of small groups where one person teaches a lesson and a few other people passively listen.  These groups will be focused on putting faith in action.  They will study Acts 2:42-47 and begin practicing what that will look like in 2011.  Though the whole group will meet only once each month, individuals and families in the groups will be encouraged to have meals together or call each other throughout the month.  Each group will take on a service ministry that they will perform throughout the year.  The intent is for us to get our hands dirty and put our faiths to the test as we do real life-to-life ministry.
There is much more to these groups, but the heart will be intentional relationships that help us to grow in our own Christian walk and help us to reach out to our community and make a difference.
I challenge each person who reads this to consider joining one of our REVO Groups.  Give me a call at the office at 602-955-9414 or send an email to for more info.  If you are not in the Phoenix area, please take the challenge and find a local church in your own community that encourages personal growth and small group ministry.  Make the needs of others a personal call to action in your own life. 

Pastor Rodger

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Shiny Imitation or Real Gold?

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, January 23, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Scripture Reference: Acts 2:42-47

A Shiny Imitation or Real Gold?

As a child, I saw an ad in a magazine for a free gold coin.  The ad actually said “FREE Solid, Gold Coin*.”  I fell for the advertisement and mailed in the form.  At the time, I didn’t recognize the significance of the comma after solid and the asterisk at the end.  When I received the coin in the mail weeks later, I was sorely disappointed.  A real gold coin is 1.25 inches in diameter and 3mm thick.  The coin I receive is less than ¼ inch in diameter and about the thickness of a few sheets of paper stacked together.  It was solid all right, just not solid gold.  My father had to explain to me what marketing was and how you had to watch for the small print.  Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson that day and I have never forgotten it and I still have the coin to this day.
It is disappointing to expect one thing and receive something less.  Sure, the coin I received was shiny and gold colored.  It is also solid.  But it isn’t the real thing.
Through my 15 years as a Christian, I have often felt the same way.  We have so twisted Christ’s message over the last two-thousand years that most people don’t really know what it means to be a Christian.
Acts 2:42-47 shows us what the first church was like. 

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What an awesome vision.  How cool might it be to experience that kind of community today?   Maybe we can, if we are willing to ask ourselves some hard questions. 
  • What if the people of today’s church started acting like this first church?
  • What if we intentionally built a close community together by eating together, praying together, and serving others together often?
  • What if we shared what we have, giving out of every paycheck to help the needy?
  • What if we worshipped God in our daily actions, in our business dealings, and in the way we treat people, not just by coming to church once in awhile?
  • What if we loved and welcomed everyone, no matter who they were, what their skin color what, what their sexual orientation was, what their economic status was, what their past mistakes were, or what their legal status was?
  • What if the prayers of others became calls to action in our own lives?
  • What if it really mattered in our lives that we follow Jesus?
  • What if each of us actually made a difference in this world, because we love God and love all the people He created?
Why, that just might be revolutionary…
Our challenge from this series is for Christians to become part of a community that serves Jesus.  If it’s Mountain View, then commit to being here and commit to intentionally getting to know your fellow believers.  It takes time, it takes work, it takes sacrifice… But, it’s worth it.
A community that catches Christ’s vision to love the world is a rare and precious thing.  Like the real gold coin, it has weight and value.  We can choose that kind of community or we can choose the shiny imitation that has little value.
Community like this can change the world.  It has in the past.  Will you take the personal challenge to make it happen again?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Revived Church

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, January 16, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody

Scripture Reference: Acts 2:42-47

When God Works a Special Awakening upon His Church

In times past (and not so past in some places) the annual “Revival!” signs would sprout on church lawns. Known by insiders as a “week of meetings,” the annual revival event was expected to draw a large crowd to hear a proven preacher expound the gospel so folks could walk the aisle at decision time to be saved (or for you Calvinists, to walk the aisle to confess you have evidence you are already elect).

I have always been troubled, however, that a mighty work of God’s Spirit can be scheduled by a church committee a year in advance on the church calendar.

How would we know when God was going to “revive” his church?

What if God didn’t show up?

Is he allowed to show up at some other time during the year?

I’m not trying to be sarcastic here. These are legit questions. So I did some digging.

I found that “awakening movements” or renewal movements have happened many times in history.  They are always unexpected. They surprise the revived church as much as anyone else. Real revival, one finds upon a little research, is an act of God. An act from God.

It is not an event planned by his church (complete with tent and a neon “Jesus Saves” sign). 

And it usually appears during a time of immense dissatisfaction with the reigning spirituality. It seems that when people are hungry for God, he shows up in a special way. (Isn’t that just like him?)

Periods of renewal have specific characteristics.  Renewal periods documented in the UK and the US include up to four major spiritual awakenings in the past three centuries. You may know about some of them from your history classes. One spurred the end of slavery in England under men like William Wilberforce. Another was a return to the ideals of personal piety and the study of scriptures in the new American colonies (think John Wesley and Methodism). Yet another was the awakening of the early 1800s that spread the gospel west of the Allegheny’s during westward expansion.  Awakenings had great impact on oppressed labor, the poor, gave rise to hospitals, orphanages, colleges and schools. Most recent was the revival that spawned a huge Pentecostal/charismatic movement in early to mid 20th century ( a movement that continues globally to this day).

OK, that was a long paragraph. The point of it was to show that spiritual awakening movements really changed how people live, both inside and outside the church. Societies were changed.  In fact, the church during these awakenings looked strikingly like the very first church in Acts 2.42-47.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. [New International Version]

Maybe this church in Acts is the official Bible snapshot of a church in the midst of awakening! This church determined that they would not disregard God’s empowering moment. They would and did resist being sucked in to the values of the culture around them. They would be the weird ones; the “different” folks. They would do their best to try and exhibit the heart of God and his priorities for human beings.

·         Personal devotion to God was more important than simple identification with a religious group.
·         Relationships of affection with one another became primary.
·         Society outside the churches was transformed by the transformation of the Christians
·         Prayer, disciple-building, and service characterized churches.

So what does all this mean for us today?

It means that rather than planting a sign that revival is going to happen next month, we acknowledge that God is in charge of awakenings, not us. And we should desire his coming to awaken us by his Holy Spirit. We should long for it. We should pray for it.  This is not without precedent:

“Revive me according to Your loving kindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.” Psalm 119:88

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said. Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'   John 7:37-38

For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.    Isaiah.57:15

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your Presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You.   Psalm 51:10-13

Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?   Psalm 85:6

I believe we should pray for renewal and repent of our complacency.
I believe YOU should pray for renewal and repent of your complacency.
I believe we must pray for a move of God upon this church and the churches of this city.

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
2 Chronicles 7:14

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Church of First Priorities

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, January 09, 2011 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody.

Scripture Reference:  Acts 2:42-47

Revolution Starts with Dissatisfaction

The miracle of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2 was the next salvo in a revolution begun by Jesus. This revolution began with his very coming to us, but became urgent and pointed by this resurrection. The apostles, eyewitnesses of the risen Christ, experienced this linguistic wonder in front of thousands. There was no hiding this act of God.

And just as supernaturally, the normally conflicted Apostle Peter suddenly became filled with the Spirit of God to speak. And speak he did! Tracing the work of God in human history, he told of its climax in the crucifixion and resurrection, and then zeroed in on the individual human heart. “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified!” Conviction of the crowd was rampant, and three thousand souls believed and were baptized that day.

It didn’t stop there. This crowd was an instant church. The first one! There is no template for this. What do we do?  

Form a committee? Start a Sunday School? Build a building? Call a pastor?

None of the above.  Here is what the first church did:

·         They became apprentices devoted to learning the Word of God
·         They changed their lifestyle to that of a close and caring community of faith
·         They made worship and prayer their primary common activity
·         They saw to it that material needs were met by the members of the community

In short, they determined  that they would NOT look like the culture around them. They would be the weird ones; the “different” folks. They would do their best to try and exhibit the heart of God and his priorities for human beings.

No longer would self-aggrandizement be considered a virtue. Power would now go to the one who serves. Popularity, beauty, and riches would be swept off of the altar of cultural idols.

In short, a revolution was beginning. And down through history this revolution called the church has sometimes been amazing in its ability to reflect God’s glory.  Other times it has done an abysmal job at it, being more the problem than the solution. SO how do we become the good guys in the fight?

It seems each Christian in each new generation must make their own decision to be a part of the Jesus Revolution.

Have you?  Well?