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How valuable is Jesus to you?

What is your faith worth? Pastor Troy Murphy posed that question before unpacking the story of the sinful woman who anointed Jesus in the home of a Pharisee (Luke 7: 36-50). Here are some key points from Troy’s message on Sunday, Oct. 15:

*The sinful woman in this story recognized her need for Jesus and was willing to use an expensive bottle of perfume, which was worth a year’s wages, to anoint Jesus. How much is Jesus worth to you? The value of something is directly proportional to your need. So greater the need, the greater the value for something. If we recognize our great need for Jesus, we will understand how valuable He is.

*The woman in this passage used her tears to wipe Jesus’ feet, a sign of honor and love. When Jesus entered the house, the Pharisee who lived there didn’t bother to wash Jesus’ feet, which would have been a sign of respect. It’s interesting that the religious leaders of the day looked down on Jesus, while the sinners understood his worth.

*The woman in this story made herself vulnerable by entering the Pharisee’s home. She could have been thrown out,  or even stoned. But she humbled herself before Jesus. Are you willing to be humbled for your faith? We must be willing to step into a place where we are exposed and not worry about the consequences. Our faith should be so valuable that we are willing to be humiliated or humbled. Many people believe in God but don’t want to lay their pride on the table and be humbled.

*The Pharisees didn’t like to hang out with so-called sinners. They looked down on Jesus because he did just that, hung out with those who were down-and-out in society. Is your faith worth loving sinners? We should have grace and love for sinful, broken people because God calls us to do that and because we are sinful and broken ourselves. We should love those who don’t operate in the same moral fashion as we do. We should love those who appall us by their actions. Jesus looked beyond the behavior of people and saw their hearts. When we radically love sinners, we set up the opportunity for radical transformation to occur in their lives. The gospel message says we are to love all sinners, regardless of the severity of their sins.

*When debts are forgiven, those with bigger debts are likely more grateful than those with smaller debts. When we consider the debt of our sins, we should be grateful for the price Jesus paid to pardon our debt. Is your faith based on gratitude? It’s in the midst of pain and suffering and loss that we more fully recognize the debt that was paid on our behalf.

*The sinful woman displayed her love for Jesus, she didn’t just talk about it. Your faith should be evident. It’s a reaction and shows itself out of a thankful heart. We need to do more than just know about God or learn more about him. The Pharisees were good at knowing a lot of religious information. We need to put our faith into action. If all we do is talk about Jesus, our faith is dead.

*Many people trust in God for their own outcome. They’ll trust in God as long as He comes through for them. They fit God into their agenda, rather than fitting their lives around God. Does your faith have a limit? You must be willing to pour out everything and lose it all for Him. Jesus told the sinful woman that her faith saved her. She was willing to give up something of great value (expensive perfume) for Jesus. She put her faith into action and didn’t worry about the cost. That is the kind of expression of love God wants from us.

*Our faith cannot become like punching the clock on Sunday morning. It cannot become an obligation to show up once a week to church. We can’t look at Sunday mornings as getting a little bit of God, or getting our weekly spiritual fix or boost. How does your faith reflect salvation? Our life should be lived out in worship to God every day of the week. It’s not about doing good works to earn favor with God. It’s about living joyfully and gratefully out of response for what he has done for you.

Posted by Mike Vandermause with

O'Vell has long-term commitment to youth

New Student Ministry Pastor Dave O’Vell, who joined the Community Church staff on July 31, has worked with youth his entire career.

Dave oversees the GBCC high school and middle school ministries (grades 5-12) and said he was called to student ministry specifically after graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University.

“Just being able to watch students take those next steps,” he said. "They are in such a state of constantly growing. It’s just an exciting time to be able to walk with someone through the adolescent years, watch them mature and grow up physically and spiritually. (I like) that dynamic of shaping someone’s future, helping them get an understanding of where God fits in.”

Dave and his wife Amy have been married since 2001 and have two daughters, Hayley, 13, and Alyssa, 11. Dave is a lifelong Penn State football fan while Amy roots for Ohio State, which might lead to some conflict in the O’Vell household on Oct. 28 when the two teams clash.

“Amy’s all right with Penn State until they are playing the Buckeyes,” said Dave with a smile. “It’s a shame.”

Speaking of football, Dave and his family got to experience Lambeau Field for the first time during Packers Family Night in August (see photo above).

Dave would love to see the GBCC student ministry make a difference outside the walls of the church.

“My dream would be that people in the Green Bay area know our student ministry by name because it’s making such a huge impact in the community, in schools and on the sports fields,” Dave said. “That people know us for just sharing God’s love with the community.”

Dave and Amy and their girls like playing games as a family and also spending time outdoors. They explored Door County when they moved here from Illinois in the summertime. Amy works at Howard Elementary School and  enjoys planting flowers and landscaping in her spare time.

Dave is the son of a pastor and expressed an interest in giving his life to Christ while in grade school during a Vacation Bible School event, and soon after his mother helped him cement that decision. He has worked in student ministry in a variety of places, including a stint in Australia with Youth For Christ.

Dave loves to see students grow in their faith, no matter where they are on the journey. “Seeing that kid who was grumpy and made to come to youth group start to enjoy it or even start to invest in Christianity for the first time,” he said. “All the way to the dedicated Christian kid who realizes, ‘I need to build back into other people, it’s not just about me. I need to start putting into practice the changes God has made in me.’”

Dave also enjoys working with volunteers and helping them on their faith journey. “I kind of have a coaching heart, so being able to coach and develop the volunteer team and just seeing real ownership from them is great,” he said.

Dave spent the first 11 years of his life in Pennsylvania and another four years in Syracuse, New York, before moving with his family to Port Huron, Michigan, where he graduated from high school.

After trusting Christ as a kid Dave said he experienced the typical ups and downs. “Middle school was when it got real serious for me,” he said. "I think I understood it even deeper as you continue to grow and get older. My middle school years is when it really started to click for me — the relationship rather than the religious aspect of it."

In high school Dave said he is thankful he was surrounded by a group of Christian friends. "We weren’t perfect but we did a good job of keeping each other accountable, calling each other out,” Dave said. "I avoided some of the pitfalls and pressures other kids face.”

Some of the experiences from his youth are still pertinent when working with kids today. “The pressures are still the same,” Dave said. "There’s definitely more avenues and temptations for kids now than back when I was in high school. Technology and that sort of thing. I try to tell them, ‘You’ve got to find that core group.' We are built for community. If you try to go solo it’s not going to be a good thing."

During his days working with youth in Lead 222 Dave got to know GBCC Pastor Troy Murphy and former Pastor Pete App. When someone suggested earlier this year that he apply for the youth minister job at GBCC, Dave’s first reaction was to say no.

“It was not that I wasn’t interested,” Dave said. “It was more that that would be too good. That’s a pipe dream to be able to work at Green Bay Community because everything I heard and experienced from Community was just how authentic and healthy the church staff and everything is. And so it was like, 'I don’t want to put my name in the hat because I don’t want to get my hopes up.’ ”

Dave eventually changed his thinking and after having a conversation with Troy, came away with one thought: “This is where I’ve got to be. Amy was listening to the phone conversation and 30 seconds in said: ‘We’re moving to Green Bay.’"

Posted by Mike Vandermause with

A letter from Pastor Troy...

A Spiritual Family

Community Family,

I wanted to write to you at the end of this series Generous God and tell you how excited I am to be part of our church family. We are, in Biblical terms, a spiritual family that is committed to loving God and others. Our church has celebrated almost 50 years of God’s provision, blessing and life change. The local church is not only God’s strategy for reaching and healing a broken world but also our training ground where we can practice loving one another. Loving each other in the church means bringing our time, talent and treasure together to equip one another to reach out to our city with the Good News. I am reminded nearly every morning of the privilege I have in serving you and the responsibility I carry to teach you the truth from scripture.

One consistent message we see in the Bible is how the church works together through the response of generosity. Many passages address this virtue as one that only comes from someone who has believed and trusted in the gift of Jesus for our salvation. When we embrace this divine generosity from God we cannot help but become a generous family that meets needs.

This season we have experienced God deepening our love for him but we have also seen some shifts in our attendance and giving at Community. So I want to give you a pastoral challenge:

I want you to evaluate how God has used Community Church to grow, care for and bless your family. Think about the moments when God has touched you through a ministry, children’s and youth events, Sunday services, Family Night Live, a pastor or staff member. If you or your family have been impacted then Community Church needs you. There are three ways you can respond:

  • First, if you are not a regular giver to Community Church then I would ask that you begin. Start with as little as 1% of your income. Your regular giving will support the staff, church ministries and ministries in our city.
  • Second, if you are a regular giver then I would ask you to prayerfully consider an increase. We strive for excellent stewardship and transparency and would invite you to get any information you need to make that decision.
  • Third, would you prayerfully consider a sacrificial gift that is over and above your regular giving? Our desire is to make ourselves whole from low giving this summer and set up a strong cash emergency fund that will enable us to withstand low months of giving.

I want to thank you for being part of Community Church. Our hope is to reach our city with the Good News of Jesus Christ and create a campus that welcomes anyone looking for hope. My last request is that you pray for hearts to become generous beyond measure.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.   -- 2 Corinthians 9.6-7

 

Serving together,

Pastor Troy Murphy

 

Posted by Troy Murphy with

Believing vs. trusting God: What's the difference?

What does it mean to trust Jesus? Pastor Troy Murphy addressed that question during his message on Sunday, Oct. 8. Here are some key points:

*The ultimate source of our discontent is the failure to love God first. If you love something more than God —  money, time, power, control — you wind up deeply dissatisfied and discontented. You can’t know generosity until you have fully received the generosity of God.

*Charles Blondin was known for his expertise in walking a tight rope over Niagara Falls in the 1800s. He started hauling a wheelbarrow containing a sack of potatoes across the Falls with ease. He asked the crowds of people watching him if they thought he could cross the Falls with a person in the wheelbarrow, to which they all responded affirmatively. Then he asked for a volunteer to get into the wheelbarrow. No one came forward. That, in a nutshell, is the difference between belief and trust. You can believe in something but until you get in the wheelbarrow, do you really trust?

*James 2: 18-19 points out that even the demons believe in God. As Christians we are called not just to believe in God but trust him. Belief requires a trusting response.

*How do we reconcile trust vs. belief. When trust is involved, it’s a relationship of dependence. It’s like taking the first step on a staircase where you don’t know where it leads.

*One form of doubt people have about God is that they once trusted Him but had a falling out, usually caused by circumstances. We must remember that when we trust God it’s not supposed to be dependent on an outcome that we want. Many people trust God to come through with the things they desire.

*There’s another form of doubt, when people come from a position of seeking and searching. They really want their questions about God answered. They are in a seeking posture for the truth. John 20: 24-29 tells the story of doubting Thomas, who needed some assurances about Jesus’ resurrection before believing. In this case doubt was the first step toward trust. It’s OK to have doubts if you are earnestly seeking the truth.

*Many Christians get stuck believing that we must know more about God in order to become more spiritual. This is not true. Jesus reproved the Pharisees, who supposedly had all the religious answers. Jesus said to the Pharisees: You don’t know me because you don’t have a relationship with me.

*When you choose to trust Jesus, it’s like waving the white flag of surrender. It’s getting into the wheelbarrow. Or in the case of Peter in Matthew 14, it’s getting out of the boat and walking on water. Trusting Jesus is stepping out of what you know and can control. It was a ‘wow’ moment for Peter. The God of the Universe is longing to surprise you  that way and bring you freedom.

*When Peter took his eyes off Jesus he became afraid and started to sink. We can quickly lose our faith if we get distracted or lose sight of Jesus.

*So many of us are not free. We are entangled by money issues or busy-ness and can’t respond to God’s call. Trusting God is about freedom, not guilt or shame. Trusting Jesus will bring fulfilling freedom.

*Trusting God is not about doing more for the church or getting pumped up emotionally. God doesn’t require that you learn the right things or earn favor with him. He’s calling you to let him push you across this thing called life. When you know God intimately you are compelled to surrender. And when you are met with a generous God you can’t help but be generous in return.

Posted by Mike Vandermause with

God's view of giving

How does God want us to give?

Pastor Troy Murphy offered a four-part answer to that question during his message on Sunday, Oct. 1 at Community Church:

1-Give with no limits

Generosity is not measured on numbers but on the gratefulness of your own heart. You could be giving 10% of your income and be considered greedy, or 1% and be considered overly generous.

In Luke 18 we read about a rich young ruler who asks Jesus, in essence, what he has to do to be spiritual. He liked rules rather than a heart conversation, because following rules is easier. You can check the box and you are done.

The rich young ruler was looking for the minimum amount required to satisfy his spiritual obligation. Jesus turns the tables and says we should give with no limits. Unfortunately, the man sees the treasure of Christ and decides his worldly wealth is more important.

2-Give as a discipline of freedom and faith

It’s easy to become stuck on money. The more you have, the more you put trust and hope in it. If we develop the discipline of giving, it frees us to proclaim that God is the giver of our money. It was never ours in the first place, so when we give it away, we are being stewards of someone else’s possessions.

3-Give as a response to what you treasure

In Luke 19 we read about a corrupt tax collector named Zacchaeus who was stealing and robbing from his own people. When Zacchaeus met Jesus he turned over a new leaf and gave much of his wealth away, including four times as much to those he cheated.

When Zacchaeus met Jesus his heart was transformed. Following Jesus was worth everything to Zacchaeus, so he started giving his money away. His mindset totally changed — he didn’t see it as his money anymore but God’s.

4-Give faithfully and generously

You cannot be generous without receiving the generosity of the Father through Jesus. You must realize your own brokenness and poverty, and that God is rich in grace and mercy. He gave you everything you have. We should be generous in the same way God has been generous to us.

God wants you to start giving. It’s a heart issue, not a money issue. God wants us to be better stewards of what he has given us. My prayer should be: God open my heart to be more generous.

Posted by Mike Vandermause with

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