Day of Encouragement

March 4, 2008

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Perhaps you’ve had one recently…Perhaps not.  Mine was the last 24 hours.  It was interesting because it had been a long weekend and I was tired.  There had been a few ups and a lot of downs. 

Without going into details about what the ups and the downs were, I think I was just tired, and so the downs were highlighted in my mind.  It wasn’t a bad weekend.  It was just a hard one.  Maybe you’ve had one of those before?

And then it happened, starting yesterday morning.

Someone wrote me an email that was so encouraging, it could have, by itself, put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.  But it wasn’t by itself.
A short while later, someone called my cell and left an incredibly encouraging voice mail.  Then I received a facebook wall comment that was encouraging while I was playing basketball last night. (My team won by the way, 48-38, with yours truly putting up 12.) 

I went to bed smiling and had a great night’s sleep, which is not unusual for me, I sleep quick and good on a typical night.  But this morning, I received a comment on this blog that was, once again, incredibly encouraging.

So I start off this day with the anticipation of readiness for a long, adventurous week, but armed with a little help from people who have communicated to me how much they appreciate me.

So I wonder who needs some encouragement today from me…from you?

Until next time…

Sunday Morning Recap 15

March 3, 2008

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, it’s time for the Sunday morning recap at Fellowship Church.  Billy already gave his here.  Here are some thoughts I had about my weekend at Fellowship Church.

*I attended a benefit dinner for Hearts for Heat this weekend.  Hearts for Heat is a ministry of Fellowship Church, and is doing an amazing job of providing oil for people in Worcester County.
*I ate with Massachusetts State Rep. Lew Evangelidis at the dinner.  Turns out he plays in my basketball league.  We haven’t played against one another yet, but when we do…
*Saturday we helped the Dancy’s move into Holden.  The team is coming together and the future of FC looks great!
*After that, I was sore.
*It’s amazing how when things fall apart, like in music practice or whatever, that God comes through and gets us past it.
*We are only a few weeks away from our Easter service, where we’ll all find out how to vote.  Should be a great service.
*Billy made some hilarious confessional videos for the service yesterday.  There was a lot of laughter, specifically at the last one when he was jamming out to Feist.
*Totally psyched about the guitar hero championships next Saturday at “The FC.”  Played for the first time in 2 months yesterday against Carie.  Gonna need to practice this week.
*I confessed that there are times I don’t think I can do the thing God has called me to do.
*Yes, I really did fail my broadcasting platform, and yes, then I did graduate with a real degree after working my tail off on learning how to talk.
*Yes, this was Moses’ problem too.
*No, I don’t doubt that I made the right decision to stay at Fellowship. 
*Were you inspired to find out what God’s vision is for your life?
*I love Fellowship Church in Holden!
*Have a basketball game tonight.  Pray for me that I don’t injure myself, and that some state rep for Mass. doesn’t injure me in any great way.
*My dad just called me and told me that his attendance at church yesterday was 800!  Go Hillcrest!

How are you doing?  Anything I can do for you?

Until next time…

Find out how to vote

February 29, 2008

The Iron Curtain

February 29, 2008

As I write this, I want you to know that I’m not angry and I’m not bitter at any particular Christian sect or group.  How’s that for a starter?

I wanted to write today about a phenomenon that exists in American Christianity of which I have thought about frequently and am attempting to change.  It’s an iron curtain, but not one of guns and hatred, but one of comfort.  This iron curtain is a spiritual one and rests not in Europe, Asia, or Africa, but just south of New York.  The curtain divides the northeast (and specifically New England) from the rest of the United States.

I moved here 10 years ago, being born in Northwest Ohio, going to college in Florida, and living for short periods of time in Tucson and Atlanta.  Almost immediately God gave me a passion for this area and for the people in Massachusetts. 

Outside of this place, the Northeast is looked at as a place that could do with or without God, a place that is cold to the gospel, and a place filled with rude people who drive as arrogantly as they talk (so 1 out of 3 ain’t bad).  But since I moved here, what I’ve found is people in love with the truth.  Not what they’ve been taught.  Not what they’ve been told.  Not necessarily with the traditions they’ve grown up with (though they have them too).  But the truth.

So here’s the thing I’m trying to figure out.  If this place is so cold to the gospel, then why would more people from this beloved “Christian culture Bible belt thing” we have going on from Florida to Idaho, not be moving their families away from this subculture in our society – one of affluence and comfort, to a very difficult place where it’s gonna take 5 years to see any kind of fruit?

I love going to conferences like Catalyst and C3 and other such venues to get fired up about what God is doing, but when I do, I wonder how many of these pastors or leaders or lawyers or teachers or whoever would be a great asset to our difficult task of reaching people with the gospel in the Northeast.

There are people going to the Middle East and Asia and the Philippines and third world countries by the scores.  And tons and tons of Christ followers are moving to some super-growing cities like Charlotte or Columbus (Ohio, not Gerorgia) to start churches.  But I don’t exactly see people lining up to make their way into New England (one of the great technology areas in the US, by the way).

And so we try to place a band-aid on a bullet wound.  The southern baptists, who I respect in a great way and believe are doing some great things, send their college students on yearly mission trips to New England colleges.  By the time the college grads are finished, many of them hate the winter,and despise working so hard to have 30 students come to their things when back home there was 100.  So in the end, they are seduced by the community back home.

What we need up here is talented men and women, the best and most creative people that places like California, Florida, and Texas have to offer(preferably people who are not cry babies when it’s cold), who will come and utilize those gifts here, even though they would probably be leaving their family and friends for a place not quite as cozy as home.  (But I do believe I recall Christ calling people that direction in Scripture)

People like Steve, who has brought his family here from Missouri, and worked through a lot of hard times in the process.  Or Anthony, who left the comforts of Pennsylvania in the late 90’s and who has now started 4 other churches besides the successful one he pastors now.  Or this church in Boston, which originated from a group of people that were sent from this church in Chicago because of the vision of this pastor and have done quite nicely for themselves.

I say all this today because I believe that the iron curtain that divides New England from the rest of the country is one-sided.  This area is ready for the gospel.  Not a subculture.  Not a conference. Not a political ideology.  Not even a Christian radio station (we can check that out on the internet if we really want to).  But the gospel.

And if there’s anything I can do to make your stay here more comfortable, just say the word.

Until next time…

The Transformation project

February 28, 2008

Sorry, no video today. 

But a request.  I’m looking for someone locally (Massachusetts) who has been given a passion by God in the past, but has not taken any steps toward accomplishing that vision.  It could be starting a ministry or a non-profit organization of doing a certain task, and it has bothered you because you know that you are supposed to be doing it but just have not. 

The person I need should have a strong desire now to jump in and take steps to begin this vision in the near future (specifically around Easter time and after) and want to be held accountable (as if) for whether they do take those steps or not.  If you’re interested, please email me at marty@fellowshipholden.com.

Looking forward to talking about it!

The Ramblings of Marty

February 28, 2008

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Although rambling rarely gets me anywhere, this morning will be more of a rambling post, because I have so much on my mind.

We’ll start our morning with a shout out to my Savior Jesus Christ, who loved me with amazing love and grace, and proved that love by taking the penalty for my sins by sacrificing himself as an atonement for the world.  I have believed and trusted (and failed many times over), and so this motivates me to do all of the things I do, including blog.

Also, yesterday, I was privileged enough to be on this list of growing blogs in WordPress.  I’m not on the list today yet, but I was yesterday, and that was pretty cool.  Thanks to those who read my blog and gain some value from the thoughts that flow through my head.

I wanted to give a shout out to two new friends who blog.  I’ve wanted to do this for a week now, but every day I’ve forgotten in the daily grind of things.  But you should really check out Steve and Garrett’s blogs.  They don’t blog on a daily basis yet, but when they do blog, it’s usually pretty interesting.

Last night my basketball team played a make up game.  It was the first game Carie was able to attend.  As you may recall, our team now has been beaten by 40 points, 20 points and in this post, 1 point.  Our team rallied around one another last night to win in an impressive 11 point game.

I say it was because of Carie.

My friend, Scott put in his usual 15 points, along with an impressive 3 pointer as the opposing team was attempting a comeback in the start of the 2nd half.  I chipped in 13 points, but with the addition of a really tall new guy who didn’t have a great shot but was a great presence in the middle, I was able to play the role of a shooting forward instead of a power forward, which you might say is not my calling.

So we won 46-35!

This weekend will be another great time at Fellowship Church.  I’m excited about what God is doing here on a regular basis, and this week will be Al’s first week being here two weeks in a row.  Woohoo!

Last week we announced that we will be combining our services for Easter Sunday, so be aware Fellowshippers that we’ll have one service at 10:30 am for Easter!  We’ll be announcing our new theme for this year that day as well!

Yesterday I took part in Watercooler Wednesday, an event you might want to look into if you enjoy blogging and culture.  It’s the brain child (I believe) of my new friend Randy Elrod, and it was a lot of fun to check out. I’ll be a regular at the cooler, Randy.

So my mind is now empty for the most part.  This afternoon, I’ll be sharing an idea we’ll be using for our Easter series for the purpose of utilizing and helping someone’s personal vision and potential.  I’ll post it around 2 pm.

Until next time…

Joy.

February 27, 2008