Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Climbing Towards Financial Freedom

This week at Overlake, I'm tackling the topic of Incinerating your DEBT in our IGNITE series, and I'm curious...

Do you have a story of being in debt? Do you have a story of climbing OUT of debt?
How did you do it?
What sorts of lifestyle changes did it require?

Do you have a story of climbing out of debt, and then going backwards into it again? (This MIGHT be our story...and we've been on this cycle a couple of times...)

How does saving come into it for you? I'll bring the message on Sunday, but for now, I'd like to learn from you...

Together Accomplishing MORE!!

Friends of Overlake Christian Church,
Ever since we launched our OCC 2012 Vision Campaign last fall, I’ve felt prompted by God to shoot for 100% participation by Overlake's MEMBERS (those folks now attending OCC who’ve actually gone through the our membership process). I knew that if our members were empowered to participate through prayer, through serving and through financial investment, we'd be able to accomplish EVERY part of the vision that God wanted to accomplish through OCC 2012.

After we shared the heart behind OCC 2012 with our entire church family last fall, we tallied just over 50% participation among actual, OCC members; and honestly…I battled with Jesus - and with some discouragement. I have never been a part of a church that was going after a more selfless vision than Overlake, and I knew this vision truly reflected the heart of Christ. So I joined our elders in praying for a greater amount of participation from the Overlake family.

Throughout 2010, as stories of how our campaign initiatives were progressing, the number of OCC 2012 participants edged up slowly…but consistently. Then came our September TAKING AIM series (that ended Sunday, Sept. 26). With its focus on education and challenge, each week we added dozens of new families into our OCC 2012 Vision Campaign at various levels of commitment (and not just OCC member families)! All of this has given me great pleasure, but even more importantly, I believe with all my heart that it gives God great pleasure as we pursue a greater vision as a church.

And the bottom line? God has given us 100% participation among OCC's members. In fact, He’s given us MORE THAN 100% participation when you include the nearly 200+ households that have committed, but aren’t yet actual OCC member households! I am so excited! So grateful! So honored to be a part of a church like Overlake!

And God gets ALL of the glory!!!
So, I just wanted to cheer you on, Overlake! Great job! Let’s now fulfill our commitments! Let’s pray! Let’s serve! Let’s give! And let’s continue to bring glory and honor to Jesus! He’s the one whose love started this whole journey, anyway!!

Be blessed today…and we'll see you SUNDAY as we continue our IGNITE series!

News of New Directions...

Early this summer, my good friend and partner in crime, Pastor Jesse brought me in on a journey that God was taking him on…a stirring to expand God’s Kingdom through church planting. He and Marisa had been praying and fasting, and were confident that God was calling them to plant a church specifically designed to reach their brothers and sisters who are far from God. I know how sensitive they are to God’s prompting…it’s HIS call that led them to Overlake seven summers ago.

After prayer and discussion with our Executive Pastoral Team and our Elders, we feel led by God to affirm the stirring of God in the Butterworth's lives and to release them to pursue church planting in the Greater Seattle area. We seek to partner with Jesse and Marisa:
Through blessing.
Through resources (books, training materials, etc.).
Through finances (of a limited nature).
Through gratitude (for the amazing ministry that Jesse and Marisa have brought to OCC these last years).

I AM excited. I do believe that God has been working on my heart towards this regard, and I honestly want to be the kind of leader that releases leaders. I also know that all throughout scripture, God brings people in, builds them up, and sends them out. I’m on board with God. This has the potential to be a HUGE Kingdom win.

But I have to be honest (as I have been with Jesse) about my personal sadness which is due almost totally to the friendship that Jesse and I share. If you’ve been around OCC for a while, you have probably sensed that Jesse and I are the best of friends. I’ve never had a ministry partner so connected as we charge the hill for God together. We craft OCC services together. I preview his songs and give feedback, he previews my messages and makes them better (although he is responsible for a FEW of the lame jokes you’ve heard through the years). We touch base several times a day. We share several meals a week. The Butterworths do Christmas at the Howerton’s house. We’re in a Life Group together. So what I’m feeling is based upon the reality of separation.
YES, I get it…Jesse’s not dying, cell phones still work, and we’ll still sushi together every once in a while. Also, you’ll continue to see Jesse around, leading us at OCC when schedules allow. But I’m still wrestling with some grief - and I just wanted to be honest about that, because I’m betting that more than a few of you who love Jesse’s talent and leadership will feel grief as well. It’s OK. Give it back to God. It’s God’s fault, anyway. It’s His call that started this whole thing. HE can handle it.

In order to make this the greatest investment in God’s Kingdom possible, the elders have asked Jesse to explore communities west of Lake Washington, or areas roughly twenty miles from Overlake’s campus in Redmond. Jesse and Marisa are in that prayer process now and they request your prayers as they seek to land in just the right location.

Jesse isn’t looking for hundreds of Overlakers who love his music to attend this new church plant. His vision is to target people far from God. He IS literally looking for a dozen rough and ready missionaries to plant with; men and women who are willing to immediately give sacrificially, serve sacrificially, and invite shamelessly. If Jesse speaks with you personally about his vision (which he has the elders’ blessing to do), count it a compliment…it means he has identified you as that kind of servant leader.

Finally, there will be some who read the news of this move and will wonder about Overlake. You know that we are poised (after an incredible summer of growth) to move into a HUGE fall season of harvest, firing on all cylinders. Some might be tempted to see Jesse’s move as a distraction at best, or as a competition to attract committed, giving church members at worst.
Don’t do it.
Don’t go there.

God is in control. God is on high. God is sovereign. God’s Spirit is prompting Jesse and giving wisdom to OCC. God’s Spirit comforts and carries. Jesus himself promises to build HIS church, and He will continue building His church called Overlake as He is choosing to expand His church. He has not given us a spirit of fear…He has given us a spirit of LOVE, and it is with that spirit that I choose to celebrate the years I’ve served with Jesse as a gift, and to bless him and release him to the fullness of God’s call on his life.

As for a timeline, Jesse will continue to lead Overlake in worship through most of the fall. We’ll have a special service of commissioning the Butterworths, and we'll celebrate November's release of the new LIVE worship recording with especial poignancy. We'll also be praying for Jesse and Marisa on this new adventure – new both for the Butterworths and for Overlake!
But "new" has never been a stretch for God. Remember, He’s the one who says this:
Behold I am doing a new thing!

We’re thankful that God loves us, that God has a unique plan He is unfolding, and we’re thankful that HE is doing a new thing in all of us!