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8.15.2019

Praying in Faith

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministries

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. … And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. — Hebrews 11:1-2, 6

Hello Church Family,

There is more power in prayer than we know. Praying in faith is not a wishlist we dangle in front of God, hoping He’ll bite. Praying in faith is how we lay hold of God and obtain what we ask for. There are things that exist that didn’t use to be because people asked and received. There are situations in place that were not there until people prayed then into being.

One vivid example is nestled in a valley in the local San Bernardino Mountains—the product of the faith and prayers of Henrietta Mears and a few Christian leaders some 80 years ago. A visionary leader in Christian Education during the last century, Ms. Mears began praying about founding a Christian camp where churches from Southern California could send people for retreats to learn from God’s Word and be equipped for Christian service.

When she and a few leaders from the Hollywood Presbyterian Church drove up Highway 38 and turned up the valley to Forest Falls, they passed the Forest Home camp, which was for sale. Seeing that it cost $350,000, a fortune in 1937, Henrietta declared, “Don’t even bother to stop … we can’t afford all this.”

Two testimonies of the camp’s role in God’s mission stand out. By the chapel at the lake, a plaque tells Billy Graham’s testimony. Near that spot, God led him to resolve difficulties he had with some things in the Bible and simply preach what it says, without any doubts. That decision marks the beginning of God’s profound blessing on his ministry, which He’s used to bring tens of thousands to faith in Christ.

Also at the camp is a prayer chapel “filled with books–literally thousands of pages of personal history where guests write out their decisions, prayers, and cries to God.” I’ve looked at those pages and read about the direct, personal impact God has had on those who have come there to look to Him in prayer.

Hebrews 11 tells us that a Christian is someone who

•  looks to an invisible God to receive things we don’t see
•  is convinced that God exists and is active, right here and right now
•  expects to receive what we don’t yet have
•  knows that God commends our faith in Him
•  believes that what God wants for us is best for us

God is on a rescue mission, reaching the lost who refuse to trust Him or even believe He exists, so He can give them life by faith in Him. All of Scripture portrays God’s mission and calls His people to take part in it, by reaching out to others in faith that He is working to make them His own.

Northpoint Church is on that same mission. Every Sunday, we gather for a purpose: to praise God, receive instruction from His Word, and to ask Him to equip us for His mission, believing that God is with us and ready to bless us with success.

To the praise of His glory.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

8.9.2019

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Hello Church Family,

As the teacher said above in the book of Ecclesiastes, there are seasons of life, and we are about to step forward together into a new one in the life of our fellowship here at Northpoint.

We have started down the path to finding God’s direction for our new lead pastor. This week is an important first step: the all-church assessment of our ministry, but past, present, and future. Everyone who calls Northpoint their church home should participate, as this allows God to speak to us through His people. Every voice is important. While in the end, the answers and direction come from God, He has told us that it is wise to know the condition of our fields and flocks and to plan before starting a major project. God inspired Nehemiah with the great vision to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem, but the first thing he did was to examine their current condition.

That’s what we are going to do. Here are some key points to remember in the process:

1. While everyone can participate in taking the online assessment tool, there are just a few questions that apply to a “household” only, and those are completed by one member representing that home.
2. A link to the assessment will be available THIS Sunday, August 11, in the resource folder and in a special all-church email. Please set aside 20 to 25 minutes to pray and work through the online tool.
3. The assessment will also be available in a paper version at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays.
4. You will see the name “HCIC” on the survey; this is the firm that developed the questions, and nothing more.
5. Answer with how your heart is inclined to respond to the question, as if a friend were asking; don’t fret over what the “right” answer may be.
6. Questions may seem open to interpretation; don’t worry about it, answer based on how you understand it. If you’re thinking that way, likely, others are too!
7. Some questions relate to “our current pastor”; answer based on the current leadership and pastoral team.

I know that sometimes it feels like we’re always taking a survey: on the phone, after we buy something online, or down at the store. But this is much more important. This is the time for everyone to participate in the direction we think is best for the life of our church. It’s very Biblical: leaders listen to and know the people God has entrusted to their care, and this is just one way to do that. There are going to be more opportunities and listening in the weeks and months ahead. Sharing our lives together isn’t a one-time event, it’s a daily process of prayer, seeking wisdom from the Scripture, and walking together in a life of faith. It’s fellowship. It’s community. It’s loving each other. And it’s listening. And that’s what the all-church assessment is all about: listening and learning from each other.

We ask that He will give us the desire of our hearts and make our plans succeed.

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9

If you have any questions, please seek out one of the elders this Sunday, or contact us by email HERE.

In Him,

Tim East
Northpoint Elder

 

8.1.2019

Abiding Prayer

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministries

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. – John 15:4

Hello Church Family,

Commentator Eric Metaxes reports that one of the first events to take place on the moon was when Buz Aldrin took communion inside the space capsule, and then read the words of Jesus in John 15:4. At that historic moment, he acknowledged Christ as central in one of man’s greatest accomplishments.

Christ has been directing world events, past, present, and future working in the world and shaping history through His church. Our prayers have immense power because Jesus is alive and listening. Prayer teaches us to live in the reality of who Jesus is and how He works through His people.

Take in Christ’s words to His disciples on His final night before going to the cross. Then pray in light of what He accomplished there—conquering sin and death on our behalf.

• I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Jesus reveals the true nature of our relationship with Him. He is the Source who gives life and strength and produces all the fruit in our lives.
• Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Christ’s hand is in every event in our lives. Prayer acknowledges His right to do as He chooses with us. It sees His love in everything He allows to happen and receives the good He intends for His children.
• Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Christ made us utterly free from sin and free to live at peace with our holy God.
• Abide in me, and I in you. Living free from sin by Christ’s power keeps us connected to His provision.
• As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. We are absolutely dependent on Christ for all things.
• I am the vine; you are the branches. Relying on Christ’s power is the essential reality of the believer.
• Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit. Christ alone produces fruit in us.
• For apart from me you can do nothing. Confess your utter inability to produce anything apart from Christ.
• If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. Acknowledge Christ’s absolute right to judge us and act in our lives as He sees fit.
• If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Praying in Jesus’ name means expecting Him to answer our prayers in ways we cannot imagine.
• By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Prayer owns our role as Jesus’ disciples and rejoices in the glory He receives and deserves.
• As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. We live in the reality of God’s infinite, eternal, and unbreakable love for us now and at all times.
• If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. Abiding in Christ means exhibiting holiness in our actions moment by moment, through Christ, who obeyed to the uttermost, triumphed over sin, and conquered death on the cross.
• These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Through prayer, God’s children daily enter into Christ’s eternal joy at all times and in every circumstance.

Abiding in Christ means living out His active presence within us as individuals and among us as His church—the community of the living Christ—praying with power and rejoicing in the praise of His glory!

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

7.25.2019

Not of This World

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministries

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. – 1 John 2:15-17

Hello Church Family,

It’s been said that Satan fell by the force of gravity. The world has tremendous pull. After all, it’s everything we see. We’re made from the stuff of earth and live in it all our days. Being made by a perfect God, it’s a beautiful place, filled with many beautiful and desirable things—things we enjoy and even need. And making our way in the world—meeting our needs, finding our place, making our mark—occupies so much of our time, effort, attention, and prayer. It’s so easy to overlook one important fact. This world is dying—just like we are.

Prayer shifts our focus from our dying world to the Lord of life. Prayer isn’t just about getting what we want from God. It’s about getting what God has for us. It teaches us to want what truly matters. The habit of prayer trains our hearts to desire what lasts forever. In Paul’s words, prayer releases our control to the God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

Prayer overcomes gravity and the pull of earthly things by training us to desire heavenly things. Through prayer, God lifts us and uses us to lift others by the power of Christ. In a world that is passing away, prayer pursues the eternal plan of our eternal Father and embraces everlasting hope in a world where all other hopes die. Prayer makes us heavenly minded, so we can be of earthly and everlasting good.

The world lives only for what it can see. The earth’s passing pleasures are the only good it knows. Its finite resources are the only supply it can imagine. The people surrounding us are lost in darkness. They’re trapped between scarcity and longing because they believe only in what’s visible and know nothing better than what they want. The threat of anything that might deny an immediate want or take away a felt need simply cannot be tolerated.

We bring the light of hope to this dark world—the hope of Jesus Christ. We don’t see Him, but by faith, we know that everything comes from Him and that in His right hand are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11). We worship Him and go to Him in prayer because we believe that He is God and that He is good.

Spend time with God in prayer today. Go to the eternal, invisible God and seek all your good from Him. The grace of God flows from One who spoke the world into being, then shaped and filled it by His word. Receive all you need from His hand. Imbibe eternal joys right now, right where you are.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

7.18.2019

That Blessed Hope

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministries

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. – Titus 2:13

Hello Church Family,

Mrs. Murphy’s wheelchair was a fixture at my home church. Most of the time, it sat in a corner of a room off the platform, waiting for its occupant. Then, just before Sunday service, Mr. Warren, Mr. Shook, or another faithful servant would help Mrs. Murphy get her twisted body from a car into her chair and wheel her in for worship.

And worship she did! With her face cocked to one side, she’d listen to the singing, the preaching, and the testimonies. Mrs. Murphy worshiped in spirit more than body, because her body was broken. Blinded and paralyzed in a car accident years before, her movement and her life were almost entirely limited. So there was a profound irony in her oft-repeated testimony of hope and joy in the Lord, “Once I was blind, but now I see.” You see, it was not until her car accident that Mrs. Murphy found Jesus Christ.

Fanny J. Crosby, the blind hymn-writer of the 19th century, had a very similar spirit. Born blind, she often rejoiced that the very first thing she’d ever see would be the face of Jesus when she awoke after death.

It was Jesus who spoke this world into being. With an eye for beauty, He gave shape to a formless world. With a heart of love, He filled its emptiness for us to enjoy. Being the Lord of Life—the Great I Am—God gave us life, so He could give us the world for our own. Blind eyes and broken bodies remind us that sin has marred the good world God gave us. Wars and rumors of wars tell us that what’s wrong with this world is us. It was our sin that broke the beautiful world we received. But that’s not the end of the story.

A look at my life, these days, reminds me how much I need Mrs. Murphy’s testimony. My body is telling me I’m no longer young. Things I’ve aspired to all my life still seem to elude me, and with each passing year, the hope that I’m progressing becomes more of a sham. What am I striving for, anyway? When my parents passed
away, I moved up in line. Now I’m one step closer to life’s back door. The door marked, “Exit.”

Not to worry. I’ve got Jesus—or rather, He has me. I was made from the stuff of this world, and my body’s passing away with it. But in Christ Jesus, I’ve been recreated for another world, where sin and its brokenness are defeated. Jesus opened death’s door and leads to life. An old song has new meaning, ringing with hope.

This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Just up in Glory Land we’ll live eternally.
The saints on ev’ry hand are shoutin’ victory.
Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore.
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

O Lord, You know I have no friend like You.
If heaven’s not my home, then Lord what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

There’s a phrase you hear every now and then, “It’s all good!” Well, no. Not really. This world and our lives are clearly broken. It’s not all good. But in Christ, we have hope. One day it will be—and so will we.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

7.12.2019

Moving Forward Together – The Path Begins: Lead Pastor Search

By Tim East
For the Northpoint Elders

I will lead them; I will make them walk by streams of waters, on a straight path in which they will not stumble. – Jeremiah 31:9

Hello Church Family,

Over the past year, we have been seeking God’s direction for our church. You may recall that starting last summer here at Northpoint, we worked through some listening sessions as part of our larger effort to Restore + Rediscover + Rebuild. A great deal has been achieved, and we have seen both internal and external growth. We are now entering a new season where we’ll take what we’ve learned and begin Moving Forward Together.

We are about to step out on the path to finding our next lead pastor—one of the most important tasks in the life of our church. On this coming Sunday morning, we will be sharing all the work that is underway or starting soon. The destination is clear, but we can be sure the road will have some twists and turns. We’re going to walk this trail together, following God’s leading, but working with all our hearts toward this goal.

Finding the man God has prepared for us is a two-way conversation. We must clearly present our church to the world of candidates: what we hold to be true, what we value, and where we believe God is leading us. Every local church is a unique expression of God’s kingdom and His purposes, and we need to say who we are. At the same time, the man God is leading to us must be able to understand this so that he can be sure of God’s calling and direction for him and his family. He will then be in a good position to share his vision, passions, and life of faith with us.

There will be three broad directions we’ll be working on starting this week:

The first is a Church Assessment Process that will be announced this Sunday and start on August 11. This is a tool that everyone will participate in to gather information, shape our vision, describe our values, and see how God is working at Northpoint. All of which will help direct our search for a lead pastor.

The Church Assessment will involve everyone who calls Northpoint their church home. Everyone will receive a link to an online tool with questions that have been developed to allow you to describe your personal views, how you would prioritize various goals and ministries of the church, participation in church life, some household information, and questions about what you would like to see during the transition and in the new lead pastor. There will even be an opportunity for you to add personal thoughts. And of course, the entire assessment and input are completely confidential and anonymous.

Between now and August 11, there will be more information and instructions on how to complete the assessment, and it will then be open and available from that date through August 25. In addition to the online tool, there will be paper versions available in the Foyer and in the Church Office.

Please pray about this process and your participation in it; it’s the chance for everyone to speak into the life and ministry of Northpoint and help in setting our direction. God often speaks through His people, and this gives us all the opportunity to share our hearts and to listen. The results will be presented back to the congregation in October.

Secondly, a Lead Pastor Search Team will be formed this summer. This team will have a big job: they will define the candidate we’re seeking and then go on to review resumes, interview candidates, and present their recommendations to the congregation.  The Search Team will be made up of both elders and general members of Northpoint and affirmed by the membership.

Thirdly, a Northpoint Church Profile and a Candidate Profile will be drafted by the Search Team. The Church Profile describes Northpoint as a whole: our history, the various ministries, how we’re organized, our mission, vision, and values. The Candidate Profile outlines the experiences, educational requirements, qualities, and ministry skills of the individual we think would best fit our church.

As we’re completing the Church Assessment, the other two efforts will begin moving forward. These are just the first steps in a long path before us, but we’ll all walk down it together. If you have any questions, or would like to know more, just look for me or any of the elders this Sunday, or click HERE to email the elder team. We’ll be seeking God’s guidance in all of this.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” – Ephesians 3:20

In Him,

Tim East
For the Northpoint Elders

7.5.2019

The Great Prayer Revival

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 29:12-14a

Hello Church Family,

The Panic of 1857 hit the North Church of New York City hard. Corruption had led to financial collapse in the region. Factories closed and people left. The Dutch Reformed congregation began to shrink, so, in July of that year, they appointed Jeremiah Lanphier as City Missionary of downtown to help increase Sunday enrollment.

Burdened by the task, Mr. Lanphier called for prayer and distributed a handbill. “HOW OFTEN SHALL I PRAY?” it asked. “As often as the language of prayer is in my heart; as often as I see my need of help; as often as I feel the power of temptation; as often as I am made sensible of any spiritual declension or feel the aggression of a worldly spirit.” That, of course, means to pray pretty much all the time. The bill announced that every Wednesday from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., there would be a prayer meeting at the back of the church.

Noon on September 23, 1857, found the faithful servant pacing the backroom by himself. About halfway through the designated hour, Jeremiah heard the footsteps of the first responder. By the end of the meeting, six people were praying.

On October 7, there were forty people, so they decided to meet daily. In six months, ten thousand businessmen were gathering every day to pray in New York alone. Prayer moved from city to city, until over one million converts were added to American churches, as the Holy Spirit simply moved individuals toward God in prayer. Stories abound of God’s working in individual lives and civic districts.

Hell Corner in New Hampshire was a notorious stronghold. After one man unleashed a volley of coarse profanity, someone quipped, “We need a prayer meeting here in Hell Corner.” To everyone’s surprise, plans began to get one under weigh. But there was no one to lead it, so they called a deacon from a church in another town. At first, four hardened sinners came to Christ in answer to prayer. Soon a core group of believers formed around them. The gates of hell could not prevail against the prayers of God’s people. Other stories abound.

During a prayer meeting in New York, a hardware store owner urged his fellow businessmen to set a godly example. After the meeting, a manufacturer came into his store and confessed he had been cheating the storeowner for years and offered to pay back everything he had stolen.

A notorious criminal named “Awful Gardiner” embraced Christ as Savior, to everyone’s surprise. He became one of the thousands who forsook their evil ways during this spontaneous revival. A noticeable decline in crime and vice, which no legislation could hope to produce, resulted from the Great Prayer Revival of 1857-58. And God used this time to prepare our nation spiritually for the coming horrors of the Civil War.

This spiritual revival came at a time of economic decline. It followed a period of economic prosperity, marked by spiritual decline. Where are our hopes? Where does our good truly come from? What do we truly desire—the good this life has to offer or the God who gives us life, the world, and all good things? We will find the answer with God through prayer.

So let’s pray!

Summer Prayer at Northpoint:
• Vacation Bible School (July 8-12): Ask God to use this week to lead people to Christ and make them grow in Him.
o Pray for someone you can invite to VBS this year.
o Pray for the week to be completely staffed with volunteers.
o Pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence to make God’s Word come alive in us.
• Student Summer Camps: Ask God to “hit reset” on their relationship with Jesus Christ.
o Junior High camp (July 14-18): Ask God to speak into the lives of our junior high students.
o Senior High camp (July 22-27): Ask God to speak into the lives of our high school students.
o Revolve College Group: Ask God to draw our college students closer to Christ.
• Men’s Ministries: Ask God to lead the men to take their stand as men of God at the Men’s
Breakfasts on July 20 and August 17.
• Women’s Ministries: Pray for the Pieces of Love ministry and the Christmas Tea preparations that are under weigh this summer.
• Prayer Ministries: Come into Christ’s presence as you pray together with God’s people every Sunday at 8:00 AM and Monday at 6:00 PM.
• Leadership Search: Pray for wisdom for the Nominating Committee for new elders to led
Northpoint. Pray also for God’s guidance in our search for a new lead pastor to lead us to seek God in His Word and in prayer. Pray for a man who is gifted in effective spiritual leadership.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

6.27.2019

Focused Faith

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. — Philippians 1:27

Hello Church Family,

There comes a time when we have to choose. Living as we do in the land of the free, our freedom to choose is precious to us. Robert Frost’s famous poem reflects his choice at a crossroads:

I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Choice resonates deep in the hearts of a free people, and multiple options are essential, given human diversity. But God is our Rock, and His Word does more than bewilder us with endless options. In His loving wisdom, God informs our freedom and reminds us that there are right paths and wrong ones, and it’s crucial which we choose.Christians choose Christ—the Lord of Life. He makes all the difference. Jesus Himself is the “Pearl of Great Price” and the “Treasure Hidden in a Field,” worth selling everything else to gain. With all of our individual preferences, interests, and desires, whatever gifts, focuses, and perspectives we bring to this life, the incomparable Christ commands everyone’s attention, like one great musical conductor.

One recipient to Paul’s letter to the Philippians was a merchant woman named Lydia. Something had been stirring in her heart for a long time. Successful in business, living in a reputable city, and wanting for nothing, Lydia longed for something more. For reasons only she knew, she was drawn out of the city every Sabbath, down to the river, where a few Jews gathered to pray.

When Paul came there and preached the gospel, a light came on. Jesus. He was what she’d been looking for all her life. She found full and free forgiveness by believing that He died for her sins on a cross and rose from the grave in victory. Lydia chose Him.

Then there was the slave girl. If anyone knew the darkness, she did. Deeper than the bondage of being owned by others, demonic possession held her in its grip. The great python spirit of the Oracle of Delphi used her voice to speak his words. Her lungs and vocal cavity uttered messages from someone else and told diabolical fortunes that people paid handsomely to hear. And her owners profited tremendously.

One sentence from Paul set her free in the name of Christ. Paul and his companion were arrested and beaten for disrupting business, and her life went on. But now, no demonic influence clutched at her throat and made her say whatever it wanted. She was herself again—completely free to worship her Deliverer and speak His praise.

Paul’s prison guard had a completely different background. He knew the marshal life and understood discipline and the need for order. Keeping the prison meant keeping the peace, and he kept it tight and the prisoners secure. Living in the chain of military command, this jailkeeper understood the consequences of letting just one escape.

So Paul and Silas were locked in the middle of the prison with no chance of escape. But for some reason, the savage beating they’d received didn’t keep them quiet. At midnight, he heard them praying and singing praise songs. THAT had never happened before! Neither had an earthquake so strong that it shook the prison doors open and broke the stocks holding the captives.

Life was becoming incalculable for this man of order and accountability. Of course, all the prisoners must have escaped. The only thing to do was to kill himself before the Romans did. But those two singers life stopped him, just like they had stopped the prisoners from escaping. He found himself washing their wounds with his own rough hands and feeling a deep sense of guilt in his softening heart.

So he asked, “Sirs (the word meant “Lords”), what must I do to be saved?” He believed in the Lord Jesus, just as they told him, and the Philippian jailer was saved, along with his whole household.

This Jesus, who had made an eternal difference in all these different lives, held the attention of each one. The Spirit of Jesus who had set them free now enabled them to set aside their differences to focus on the Savior. Loving Him enabled them to love each other honor His name.

With eyes fixed on Jesus, they all could tell others how to be free in Jesus’ name and live with joy.

To the praise of His glory!

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

6.20.2019

The Church Compassionate

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” — Matthew 9:35-38

Hello Church Family,

“Daddy, can I help?” Those four words used to strike fear into my do-it-yourselfer heart. They meant my kids had discovered my escape and in child-like faith invaded my faltering attempts at home repair. Juggling children and my fixer-upper aspirations never exactly worked, and I was typically torn between my love for my kids and the need to get things done.

Somehow, my father never had that problem. He knew how to include me and welcomed my help.

Jesus had some pretty busy days, and the needs around Him often stacked up well above His head. Matthew records a busy time when He crossed the Sea of Galilee, taught His followers, healed a paralytic, fended off challenges from His enemies (three times), called a disciple and joined him for dinner, healed one woman and raised another from the dead, gave sight to the blind and speech to the mute, continued healing the multitudes, then looked up, only to see crowds of people coming to Him for more. Just reading about it takes your breath away!

In human form, the infinite God was limited to one body and could only do so much, yet His infinite heartfelt compassion for the masses of people wandering in a world cut off from its Creator. So the God-Man did what humans do when life gets overwhelming. He asked for prayer.

Christ came in human flesh to die in our place for our sins. His death and resurrection were central to His great plan of salvation for the whole world, in which He intends to include us. But God is no do-it-yourselfer. While only Christ could accomplish our redemption on the cross, He extends His compassion and offers His salvation through His people. Jesus wants us to share His heart and complete the task He began while He was on earth.

Jesus asked for prayer because He wants our help to reach a lost world. When the Holy Spirit descended from heaven, it answered the prayer Christ told His disciples to pray. The church is the constantly regenerating answer to Christ’s prayer for laborers to go into His harvest. We are the answer to Jesus’ request—just as He intended.

Like Jesus, we live in a world clamoring in vain for hope. Whether they know it or not, those who surround us are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Christ sees our human struggle and knows it’s of our own making, but He’s full of mercy, and in compassion, He longs to deliver.

Our job as His Church is not to add our voice to the clamor of the crowd. We’re more than just another voice competing to be heard. We are the People of the living God—the Risen Christ—who is mighty to save. And save He will, as His people proclaim the hope of the gospel to those around us—the people He sent us to.

Our heavenly Father does a much better job than I did at including His children in His work. Pray for God to send His laborers into His harvest. And when you pray, ask if you can help. In childlike faith, tell your Father, Here I am! Send me (Isaiah 6:8).

A Second Chance
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:43). Christ’s oft-repeated words are more than an admonition. They’re a second chance. If you think you’re free to choose as you please, think again. Being cut off from God by sin also cuts us off from the freedom and ability to hear God’s voice. Jesus offers it back.

You hear the rancor and conflict in the news, and it affects every level of society. I’ve never seen a time when people clamped their hands over their ears so firmly. Dialogue has all but disappeared, disagreement gets defined as hate, and Christian truth receives reflexive suspicion whenever it’s brought up.

Stiff knees and backs have plagued humanity since the fall, and only God’s infinite grace in Christ Jesus can enable us to kneel before our Maker. Hearing and heart problems threaten our eternal souls, because of the human impossibility to listen and respond to the Lord our God.

But Christians believe in miracles. God can give us an ear to listen to the Holy Spirit, but it will take a miracle. He’s willing to lead us to people he wants us to reach, but it will take a soft heart that only He can give. God is able to save the souls of those around you, but it will take faith that He can and will.

Ask God to give His church ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to respond to Him. Watch and pray and expect Him to work in miraculous ways—in you.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

 

6.13.2019

Let the Fire Fall

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. – Acts 2:1-6, 33

Hello Church Family,

Dark images of crowds walking along the dark roads of Yosemite fill one of my earliest memories. Unbeknownst to me, as I walked, Rangers of the National Parks Service were tending a massive bonfire high up on Glacier Point. They were preparing a nightly ritual nearly 100 years old—The Fire Falls.

Thousands attended each year, anxious to see the spectacle of fire falling like a waterfall for 1700 feet. Every ear awaited the call from David Curry, “Let the fire fall!”

Twenty centuries ago, fire fell from heaven, filling Jesus’ small band of disciples and calling people from every nation, kindred, and tongue to Christ. When God’s Spirit falls on his people, great things happen.

Let the Fire Fall Email FB Banner 2019

• God moves His people to speak: They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
• Miraculously, people understand: Each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
• God speaks to people worldwide: Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven … each one was hearing them speak in his own language (2:5, 6b).
• God connects His truth to life: But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
• God saves people from sin: And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
• The gospel is proclaimed in power: This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
• Christ’s resurrection is proclaimed: This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
• God brings conviction of sin and saves souls: Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
• The name of Jesus Christ is exalted: Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

God once accompanied his people in a Pillar of Cloud by day and a Pillar of Fire by night. He spoke often to his servant Moses from that same pillar during their 40 years wandering in the desert. The same “fiery, cloudy pillar” later filled God’s temple, making his people Israel distinct and renown in the ancient world.

But after centuries of persistent sin, God departed from His people. Ezekiel watched God’s glory ascend from the temple, move eastward, and leave the Land of Israel. By the time of Christ, it had been gone 400 years. At Pentecost, it returned.

After over 240 years of God’s blessing on the United States, our culture is systematically attempting to oust the Lord Jesus Christ from our nation. Dismayed, his church is rallying to respond. But no amount of human effort in and of itself can avail to turn the spiritual tide. But our God is now as always mighty to save.

Pray as his people, “Let the fire fall!” To the praise of his glory.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

 

6.7.2019

The Myth of the White Hat
 
By Dave Dussault
 
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
 
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free … everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” – John 8:31-32; 34-36
 
Hello Church Family,
 
Back in grade school, my hero was a cowboy named Roy Rogers. I understand that he and his wife were both devout Christians and role models of moral integrity. They stood for right and fought against evil. Their weekly TV sagas reinforced essential values that gave moral clarity to me and to everyone else in American society. In one half an hour every week, the man with the white hat foiled the schemes of the liar, cheat, thief, or murderer wearing a black hat. Kids like me were entertained and instructed.
 
Children need this kind of instruction. Families and society benefit when entertainment offers moral clarity and a clear understanding of right and wrong based on universal standards of truth. In America, the Bible played a central role in defining the truth that everyone adhered to or at least felt we should follow. The years when I grew up were a kind of golden age of American ideals—days many long to return to. Good guys always beat bad guys, just like America did in World War II. It’s funny how we always identify ourselves as the “good guys.”
The Myth of the White Hat Email FB Banner 2019
 
It’s essential to identify with the moral ideals we strive for. But moral integrity demands honesty and constant vigilance to be sure we’re honestly doing what’s right. Jesus’ famous command, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to judge. It means we need to judge ourselves first since we ourselves will stand before God in judgment. God’s Word is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. It judges us as well as others—the “good guys” and “bad guys” alike.
 
Honest judgment messes with our hats. The truth is, our “white hat” is dingier than we like to think, and those guys with black hats aren’t always as bad as we’d like to think. I came of age just as America was confronting its own sins—institutional racism, self-serving foreign policy, inconsistent application of the principles of democracy, hypocrisy in our personal and national standards. Moral honesty hurts. It’s healthy but hard to swallow.
 
It’s so easy to take pride in our high standards yet ignore our persistent lapses. We know standards are important but deny our inability to live up to them. We hide from the truth of who we really are and adjust our standards so we look better. Life’s more livable that way. “Nobody’s perfect,” we say, hoping we won’t be held accountable—won’t be judged. Funny. We hide from the truth about ourselves and call that freedom.
 
But clinging to a lie is anything but freedom. The ugly truth is that everything we do is fraught with sin—even our best moral efforts. The Bible does more than reveal God’s perfect standards. It exposes our wicked hearts, self-serving motives, and moral depravity. It forces us to confront the connection between our brokenness and the sin in our lives. Like surgery, God’s truth causes pain in order to bring healing.
 
One thing on earth sets us free to face the healing truth—the grace of God in Jesus Christ. No longer condemned for our sin, we can now see ourselves honestly because our sin died with Christ on the cross and longer controls us. We rose with Christ at his resurrection, so now we’re free to live in harmony with God and each other, as He intended. No longer slaves to sin.
 
Putting on a white hat doesn’t turn us into good guys. Only Christ does that. No amount of men in white hats will save our nation. The Son of Man, God the Son, has conquered sin. Christ sets people free indeed. Ask Him to lead you to someone you can lead to Him for eternal salvation, and see what He does. He’s mighty to save. For the praise of His glory.
 
The Gospel Truth
 
There’s a difference between believing that Jesus rose from the dead and trusting in the living Christ. Our faith is more than intellectual assent to a particular set of ideas. We were saved when we trusted Christ to forgive our sin, and we walk by faith that He cleanses, enables, and provides for us every day.
 
There’s a difference between agreeing with the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and believing that Jesus is mighty to save. The “Church Militant” advances by winning souls to Christ. No soul can be compelled to trust Him for salvation. Everyone must choose to trust Jesus as Savior, and God is the one who accomplishes that miracle.
 
God has chosen us as Christians to proclaim salvation in His name. He calls us to speak out in faith that He will work through his saints as we tell others that Jesus died for their sins. Being a moral example and setting a scriptural standard is essential for us as Christians. But the Good News is that Jesus saves, and Jesus alone.
 
Pray for boldness and guidance in telling others about Jesus and his love. Pray for faith that He will save others through the gospel, as you tell it to them. Faith overcomes the world. That’s a fact, the hope of the world, and it’s the Gospel Truth.
 
In Him,
 
Dave Dussault
 
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
 
– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

5.30.2019

Yield and Come

By Holli Worthington
Northpoint Women’s Ministries

“Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD
and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever,
and serve the LORD your God …” – 2 Chronicles 30:8

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears,
you always resist the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 7:51a

Hello Church Family,

An interesting thing happened at the end of our women’s conference this year. As the speaker closed in prayer, she asked the Lord why so many of us have so much head knowledge and so little heart knowledge, and she felt God say, “It’s because you’re stiff-necked.” Now, this caught my attention because number one, she was teaching on Mary and Martha, not Exodus. Number two, it seemed very directed to us. And number three, stiff-necked is not something I want to be.

I see three types of responses we could have to something like this:

Denial. She’s not talking about us! We aren’t like that. I’m not like that.

Disbelief. God doesn’t speak to people like that!

Discernment. How does this line up with God’s Word? Could this be true of us? Is this true of me?

Yield and Come Email FB Banner 2019 2

We all have the capacity, even the proclivity to be stiff-necked. In fact, God’s people are infamous for it. For 400 years, the Egyptians had enslaved God’s people, forcing them to work endlessly making bricks to build the kingdom of Egypt. They cruelly murdered the Hebrew baby boys, fearful, because the people were growing too numerous. God’s people cried out to him, and God heard and acted. He staged a rescue mission that in the coming generations would be his prime instrument for conveying his eternal plan of salvation. God was orchestrating a stunning masterpiece, and this was the prelude.

It began with the plagues he brought on the Egyptians that destroyed their land, culminating in the angel of death who killed every firstborn unless they were covered by the blood of a lamb on their doorpost. Then there was crossing the Red Sea on dry land, which ended in the drowning of the Egyptian charioteers. There was bitter water made sweet, bread from heaven, and water from the rock. God led his people with a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. He provided Moses as prophet and intercessor on their behalf. And God graciously provided a pattern of worship to show them how they could have a relationship with him.

But the people were stiff-necked (Exodus 32-34). In spite of all God’s demonstrations of power and provision, they demanded their way, in their timing. They refused to live by faith. And because of that, they never entered the Promised Land (Hebrews 3:19).

Over 400 years later in 2 Chronicles, at the dedication of the temple, Solomon warns the people not to be stiff-necked like their ancestors, but to yield to God. Centuries later, Stephen accused the Jewish leaders, right before they stoned him, of being stiff-necked, always resisting the Holy Spirit. They too refused to live by faith. Like their ancestors, they would not yield to God and believe him.

According to the dictionary, to yield is: 1. to give up as to a superior power or authority, 2. to give up or surrender, 3. to relinquish or resign.

The superior power that we are to surrender to and relinquish control to is not an enemy who is against us, but is our Father, the all-powerful God, who is full of wisdom and knowledge and understanding, who is also gracious, merciful, full of compassion and steadfast love for his own. There is no better alternative.

In 2 Corinthians 5:7, Paul says, “We walk by faith and not by sight.” This is the Christian life. Faith is what pleases God (Hebrews11:6). Trusting in his promises, believing him when all appearances are to the contrary, yielding to God’s ways when we don’t see the logic or benefit.

If you’ve ever driven outside of the U.S or even outside California, you might have come across a roundabout. A roundabout is a circular intersection where drivers travel counterclockwise around a center island. There are no stop signs or traffic signals. They are an ingenious little solution to keep traffic flowing at intersections and prevent serious accidents. Now the key to these little marvels of modern travel is the willingness to yield. As cars enter the circle, the other cars already in the circle have to yield—the refusal to yield results in chaos. To keep the flow going there is a constant yielding going on.

Constant yielding is what keeps the power of the Holy Spirit flowing in our lives. We can accumulate knowledge until our brains are full, but if we don’t humbly yield our hearts and wills to God and his ways every day—every moment, we will become stiff-necked, resisting the Holy Spirit and distant from God.

God invites us to yield to him and come into his presence. Let’s pray and ask God to give us the grace and humility to do just that.

Through Him and to Him,

Holli Worthington

5.23.2019

A Light in the Darkness

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. – Acts 2:32

Hello Church Family,

Take I-10 West, exit at La Brea, go left on Wilshire, and you’ll come to the La Brea Tar Pits. You may have gone there as a child to see the discovery that brought to light the extinct species that once roamed the Los Angeles basin—mammoths and saber-toothed cats. If so, you’ll remember the depictions of how they died—struggling to free themselves from the tar that dragged them down into the pit of death.

A Bible reader can’t fail to recognize in these images the trap of human sin and its consequences. The very struggle to be free drove them deeper into the quagmire and increased the agony of their inevitable death. God’s Word honestly portrays the fate of fallen humanity, despite our noblest intentions and best efforts. All have sinned and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23 and 6:23). God in his grace won’t let us deny this fact, because He’s determined to save us from sin. And He’s given his message of salvation to the people He’s redeemed, so we can proclaim it to the world.

As twenty-first century Christians, we’re not eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. But as people who have set their hope in that historical fact—which the apostles witnessed and proclaimed—we’ve been delivered from the curse of sin and have eternal life. We are witnesses to the living reality that the living God has set us free from the curse of sin.

The curse of sin is more than punishment for wrongs we’ve done. The curse of sin is the grip sin has on us—on our drives and desires. Sin twists the image of God in each of us into raving defiance of our Maker. It perverts the blessings of life into ceaseless demands for more. It makes our Maker and the Giver of Life—the One faithful and true Guide for life—into our mortal enemy, because we reject Him as Lord. And so, every craving of our heart dominates our destiny, turns us against Him, and brings death.

Sin turns our highest aspirations into objects of pride that we boast of in defiance of God. The gifts God has given us—our families and homes, our work and accomplishments, the beauty we love and the truth we cherish—become objects we covet and cling to instead of God, even though they drag us away from Him and down into hell.

Sin turns our innocent pastimes into idols. The movies we watch, our favorite TV shows, sports, quilting, cooking, gardening are all joyous pastimes that easily become domineering addictions. Even ministry morphs from being our gift of service into a way to shine before others and an attempt to impress God. Charitable giving turns from a humble offering into a display of personal goodness. Worship stops focusing on praising God and becomes a matter of personal taste and self-satisfaction.

This is the evil inside each one of us. In his grace, Jesus enables us to see our sins—especially our favorite ones—and confess them for what they are so we can be forgiven. He turns our focus from the sins of others back onto ourselves, so we can see our own sin, confess it, and be clean. God has broken sin’s curse and made us new. He’s pulled us from the pit and set us free.

And of this, we are all witnesses. The good news we proclaim is the historical fact that’s central to our faith. Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave. It’s also the present reality that Jesus reigns in heaven and in our hearts, so we’re no longer slaves of sin doomed to die.

This is the good news everyone needs to hear and the gospel we have to proclaim. To the praise of God’s glory!

The Truth about Truth
Truth is essentially binary. Darkness and Light, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Death and Life.
Wisdom accepts this fact, trusts God with it, and obeys Him. The world wants its own way and questions God’s right, his wisdom, and his intentions in calling the shots. There is no gray without black and white, but the doubts of this world blur essential distinctions.

Where God calls us to embrace his righteousness, the world questions the truth. While God calls us to proclaim salvation in Christ, the world asserts that no one’s perfect, but we’re not really all that bad. Permissiveness masquerades as grace, and indifference pretends to be love.

We are passing the time when passivity works. Tensions are mounting in our land, confrontations developing, and conflicts arising. Playing it safe is becoming the most dangerous thing we can do. We need to proclaim the truth. The church must be distinct, and events will no longer allow us to blend in.

Ask God to wake up his church. That’s what “revival” means. The world needs God’s people to shine God’s light, and sting with the salt of the earth. Pray for God to do what He alone can do—transform us into agents of change and ministers of reconciliation, who call the world out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

5.16.2019

An Update From the NP Leadership Team

Mark Kiker
Elder Chair

Here is the latest on the Leadership Team’s efforts. As mentioned before, we have divided up the Leadership’s workload into subcommittees that will work together to frame the questions and propose solutions back to the entire team. The entire team will make the final decisions, but by having smaller groups clarify specific areas, we can make advances in many areas at one time.

Pastor Search – We have hired a ministry partner, NL Moore, to assist with the pastor search. They have a well-defined process as outlined in some of their literature: “Our approach begins with understanding. Understanding who you are, where you want to go and working together to determine the best way to get there. Our approach balances the very best objective insights with your subjective needs. Broad participation by congregation, staff, and leadership on the front end empowers buy-in and support at the finish line. One size does not fit all when it comes to pastoral leadership. Our team understands that your church is not only an organization, it is also an organism: a unique expression of the living Body of Christ.” NL Moore is involved in many searches, including leading the search for a replacement EFCA West District Superintendent.

You will be hearing more about our planning as we begin meeting with NL Moore. We have a long way to go, and we encourage you to be in prayer for our future pastor.

Elder Expansion – Within a few weeks, Northpoint members will have the opportunity to affirm the proposed persons who will serve on a search committee for new elders. Once affirmed by ballot, we will gather and finalize names and start our vetting process for new elders.

Choral Music – We continue to talk to many about this area. The subcommittee is thankful for the input from the congregation and will continue to move this discussion forward. The Leadership Team affirms our heritage of choral music and seeks to delineate how that will continue at Northpoint.

Deacons/Deaconess – We are outlining the unique role that these people might have as we designate those who can assist the elders and who lead exemplary lives in Christ. Biblical qualifications for deacons/deaconesses are in 1 Timothy and Titus.

Key Perspectives and Documents – As part of the pastor search process, we are collecting and reviewing key church documents that will be shared with candidates as we move forward.

Discipleship – We are looking at coordinating some areas of teaching and training that will assist in the growth of all who come to Northpoint. Our goal is to bring people to Christ and multiply disciples with more formalized growth opportunities.

Finance – The ministry continues to be funded – the bills are being paid, but we are slipping. We are now about $31,000 below last year’s total giving fiscal year-to-date (last month it was about $18,000 under). We are also about $100,000 under our budgeted needs for the year, again down a bit from last time. Staff is doing a great job of not spending beyond our means. Please prayerfully consider how the Lord has blessed you and how you can share that blessing with others. We are thankful for the diligent giving of our congregation, but we are entering a time of need as pastor search costs start becoming a reality.

Updates will continue as we move forward and we ask that you be in fervent prayer for God’s grace to be reflected at Northpoint.

Under His love,

Mark Kiker
Elder Chair

5.9.2019

Living the Difference

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 1:1-3

Hello Church Family,

Living life is a lot like driving a car. It’s a stream of decisions—of ongoing course corrections—to keep us going in the right direction. Left to ourselves, we veer off course. We only get to our destination by habitually steering back onto the road and purposefully navigating to where we want to go.

As Christians, our “navigator” is the Word of God, and our “destination” is life with God. Every day we live offers a practicum in living like a citizen of heaven, where a good God reigns and richly provides everything we need. Every choice we make steers us either closer to Him or further away.

And God makes all the difference. In a world cut off from its Maker and Sustainer, life is essentially a competition, where evil reigns. Malice and harmful motives create suspicion and destroy trust, as fallen people deceive their way to what they want or think they need. In desperate attempts to convince others—and ourselves—that we’re basically good, we pretend to have good motives and intentions, while we’re really motivated by the need to get ahead, no matter how we harm others. Put-downs and gossip become our modus operandi as we scrabble to gain an advantage.

But believers in Jesus Christ have tasted and seen that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8). We live in His eternal abundance and infinite supply. God’s Word tells us that God did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, and the Holy Spirit assures us that He will graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32). Steering toward God frees us to turn away from the earthly scramble, trusting in the One who freely gives us all things.

So as Christians, we have a new desire for God’s truth. We take nourishment from God’s Word and feed on pure spiritual milk. Cultivating an appetite for things that make us grow into our salvation, we come to look and act like the God who came from heaven to earth for our sake.

How could Christ have done that for us if He weren’t completely confident in His Father’s goodness and certain of a positive outcome? The prayer, not as I will, but as you will, expresses more than surrender to the Almighty. Submission means trust—rest in the God of perfect love who can turn anything—absolutely anything—into good for the one who loves and trusts in Him.

Living as a Christian means steering toward Christ in every decision, feeding on God’s truth, trusting in His goodness, and growing to the place where we look and live like His Son. To this world, that makes us odd, but from heaven’s point of view, it makes us right at home, even while we live on earth.

To the praise of God’s glory!

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

5.2.2019

Presenting Every Man Complete

By Pastor Scott Williams
Adults and Families

Hello Church Family,

This past Easter, many of our church families took advantage of the free family photo right out in front of the Northpoint water wall. For my family, like so many in our church, this has become a tradition we look forward to each year. The water wall has become the center of our campus, not only because of its location and the natural beauty it provides but because it declares one of the most central statements that we hold so dear. Have you read it recently?

It says, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28)

What a clear declaration of what the church, and Northpoint in particular, is all about. We proclaim Christ as the great redeemer of a lost people, as the perfect sacrifice for sin, as the one who is supreme over all, and as the one whom our future hope rests. We also not only exalt Christ, but with God’s wisdom, we labor to admonish and teach everyone so that we can become complete or mature in Christ. The church proclaims Christ and engages in community life where we push each other to become more and more like the one in whom we proclaim.

In the next verse, verse 29, Paul adds this personal note, “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.” Paul states here that he labors and strives to accomplish the goal of verse 28 through the power of God. This is no mere casual endeavor that Paul is engaging in, but a strenuous pursuit of helping others become mature in Christ. Paul gave himself to the ministry of helping others. His life demonstrates to us all that each believer has an obligation to labor toward the spiritual benefit of others.

One of the key aspects of being a follower of Jesus Christ is that we reject our sinful tendency toward self-centeredness and seek the benefit of others.  Mark Dever in his great little book on discipleship writes, “Being a disciple of Jesus means orienting our lives toward others, just as Jesus did. It means laboring for the sake of others. This love for others is at the heart of discipling. We set our sights on serving others for Christ’s sake, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).” Following Jesus means, like Jesus, we orient our lives toward others.

Orienting our lives toward others is something that is not just for pastors or elders, but for every member of the church. Is this a characteristic that describes you? Every week, when you pull into the church parking lot on a Sunday morning, are you thinking more about what you are going to receive, or how might you bless someone else that morning? When you attend your weekly bible study or small group, do you look to help those who are having a hard time connecting or in need of encouragement? When you walk in your neighborhood, are you praying for opportunities to have a spiritual conversation with your neighbors or an occasion to invite them to a church event?

Following Jesus means, like Jesus, we orient our lives toward others.

In Him,Pastor Scott Williams
Adults and Families

4.25.2019

The Promise that Gave Birth to the Church

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. – Joel 2:28-32a
 
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! – Luke 11:13

Hello Church Family,

Little Kara, our granddaughter, injured her arm last Friday. She waited bravely through long hours at the medical center, being examined and getting x-rayed. Finally, the doctor mended the arm and made it feel better by applying a splint. Then at home, when all was over, the three-year-old applied her new medical understanding, by “splinting” her baby brother’s head “so much that it will never hurt.” So cute!

And so simple. Kara, of course, had no idea of what was really happening. What that big machine did that took pictures of her little arm. What Mommy and the doctor were talking about, as they looked at the shadowy pictures. Her grasp on this vast and complex world is growing, but it’s as small as she is.

Prayer means coming to God as a child, so trust is essential. The real world is vast, beyond our growing, but helplessly simple human understanding. We really do not know what to pray for as we ought (Romans 8:26a). We pray for what we need or want. But only God knows how things work, where things are going, and what is really best.

The Promise that Gave Birth to the Church Email FB Banner 2019

As Israel pined away in exile, God gave them a spectacular promise. It came in the form of a prophecy they could barely understand. It’s fulfillment came in a way no one could have expected, through a chain of events that were impossible to anticipate. But God worked through centuries to bring it about.

He also worked through people, their deeds, and their prayers. By faith, a few understood that Jesus was the promised Messiah, God’s Son, but all rejected the idea that He would die on a cross for the sins of the world, rise from the grave, appear to many, then ascend into heaven. But that’s how their prayers were answered and Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled—God’s mysterious plan to send the Holy Spirit to inhabit his people and create his church.

Our grasp on the divine plan is as simple as the medical knowledge of a three-year-old. Yet we still play a crucial part in the unfolding work of God’s kingdom. God does what’s needed to advance his kingdom, as we pray for what we want and feel we need. Like children, we know in part, and our prayers reflect our limited understanding. But God answers in ways that use our prayers and actions to accomplish his great and mysterious plans for good.

Fulfilled prophecy is answered prayer—prayer that God inspires as well as answers. God’s people are not passive, but it is God who makes everything we pray and all we do effective. God cares for you infinitely, but you also play a part in his eternal plans. Out of love, He listens to your prayers with intense love and interest, but He also knows what He’ll accomplish by the way He answers.

As with you and your life at this time, God is the author of this point in Northpoint’s history, too. What seems vague and uncertain to us has a clear and definite purpose in God’s unfolding plan. He’s listening to our prayers and leading our plans. He will guide and He will answer in miraculous ways that we really could never imagine, to the praise of his glory. He’s that amazing!

In Him,Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

4.18.2019

How to Walk in Jesus

By Pastor Taylor Mendoza
Northpoint’s Student Ministries

Hello Church Family,

Christians grow the most when their lives revolve around Jesus Christ. We could call this a “Christocentric lifestyle.” This means that every moment of your life has some connection to our Lord and Savior. Although the apostle Paul didn’t use the term “Christocentric lifestyle,” the concept is present when he told the Colossians to “walk in him” (Colossians 2:6). To walk in Jesus is to have a manner of life that is slow, consistent, and active. In essence, it is a life that is consistent with the person and work of Christ. When Christians walk in Jesus they grow into people who have lives that are firm, stable, and effective for the kingdom of God.

How to Walk in Jesus Email FB Banner 2019 3

We all want to grow, but have you ever asked yourself how you could be more effective for the kingdom of God? Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the crazy busyness of life and felt guilty over the amount of Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance you have had recently? Does the concept of walking in Jesus feel fuzzy? I know that I have often felt ineffective, overwhelmed, and fuzzy when it comes to my walk. Thankfully, we don’t have to be left in the dark and we don’t have to feel this way. The apostle Paul taught the Colossians how to walk in Jesus. He did so in three ways in Colossians 2:6-7: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

1.    Keep being taught the truth about Christ.

One of the ways that we continue to walk in Jesus is by hearing continual teaching about the facts of Christ. Paul told the Colossians that they were taught the gospel and the mystery of Christ by Epaphras (1:6-7) and they were to look back to the first time they heard the teaching of the gospel, and to presently continue learning and thinking about Christ. This was to be done by listening to the teaching of the apostle Paul who was building off of Epaphrus’ ministry.

Practically speaking, one of the most dangerous places to be for a Christian is a place where they aren’t learning anything. Thankfully, at Northpoint Church, there are many opportunities to hear and process good Bible teaching. However, it is possible to be so spoiled by good expository preaching, great Sunday school classes, great small groups, and wonderful adult ministries that we lose our desire to keep on learning things about Jesus Christ. One incredible marker of a Christian walking in Jesus is learning the truth about Jesus. This only happens when we attend church often and listen well to teaching.

2.    Submit everything in your life to the lordship of Christ.

It is not enough to simply learn the facts about Jesus, but a Christian who walks in him also receives him. John MacArthur once commented that Christians sometimes believe “their behavior has no relationship to their spiritual status—even if they continue wantonly in the grossest kinds of sin and expressions of human depravity … [Christians] have been told that the only criterion for salvation is knowing and believing some basic facts about Christ.” Paul makes it clear that in the same way you received Jesus as King and Lord of your life, you also are to continue to receive him as Lord over your life.

Practically speaking, when you came to faith in Jesus Christ, you didn’t just believe the facts about Christ, you became a disciple of Christ. You also became a citizen of his kingdom (Colossians 1:13). A disciple learns and serves his master, whereas a citizen faithfully serves and loves his king. What area in your life doesn’t look like it has come under the lordship of Christ? Could it be the way you use your time? Let that helpful and convicting app “Screen time” be your guide. Could it be the way you spend your money? Is giving to the local church and kingdom work something that’s on your radar? The list could go on, and if you have no idea on where to begin, ask your wife, your children, or just an honest friend (if you have made it this far in the article, stop here and text or call a friend and ask them about what areas they think you have not fully submitted to Christ).

3.    Continue being strengthened in Christ.

Finally, Paul insists that Christians who walk in Christ grow stronger. He says this in a few ways. First, he speaks of Christians as already firmly rooted in Christ. Secondly, he speaks of the Christian as currently being built up in Christ. Thirdly, he speaks of the Christian as currently being established in the faith. All of these terms are done passively, meaning that God is the one who caused you to be firmly rooted (which he has) in Him, and he is currently building you up into Christ and is establishing you in the faith.

Practically speaking, although you are not ultimately responsible for your growth and strengthening in Christ, you do play some role. Your role is to keep being taught the facts of Christ and to keep submitting every area of your life to the lordship of Christ. We ultimately do this by running back to the gospel, which is about the grace of God in Christ for sinners and for his glory. Preach the gospel to yourself. Memorize the gospel by meditating on texts such as (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:31-34; Isaiah 53:3-6; Romans 3:23-26; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Pray the gospel, sing the gospel, review how the gospel has changed you, and study the gospel with great biblical books.

We learn more about Christ and we submit our life to that teaching, but God gives the growth and does the strengthening. Resolve yourself to come to church often, find a small group and get plugged in, read a Christian book, and read a book of the Bible slowly. Ask self-reflecting questions, identify the idols of your own heart, and submit them to Christ. Above all, rest in the fact that God is the one who is rooting you in Christ like a tree, he is building you up like a cathedral, and he is establishing you in the faith.

In Him,Pastor Taylor Mendoza
Northpoint’s Student Ministries

4.11.2019

Freedom, Community, Meaning

By Geoff Grant
Northpoint’s Director of Worship Arts

Hello Church Family,

Perhaps some of you remember meeting my good friend and mentor, Justin Francis, during our recent Night of Psalms. Justin has been integral to my development as a worship pastor, and most of whatever wisdom I could lay claim to would likely be linked somehow back to him.

A while ago, Justin explained to me a principle of producing art that I find uniquely illustrative of something I’d like to discuss in this article. Over sushi one afternoon, Justin explained that a well-produced album (or painting, film, poem, art, etc.) exists on sort of an axis of success. It goes like this:

Time Quality Affordability 2019

Time
Quality
Affordability

To produce good art, the artist or producer aims to find the right combination of these three ingredients, each at the expense of the other.

To create a really quality album really fast is very expensive.
To create a really quality album really inexpensively takes a very long time.
To create a very fast and affordable album will probably not be of the best quality.

I experienced this firsthand with our album, Songs from Psalms. We desired to create something of quality while staying within a very reasonable budget. Thus, the album, intended to be finished last October, was finally posted in mid-March. Ah, how we learn.

And so there is this give and take within producing. Each element is good and necessary and ought to work together to produce something great. This wisdom from Justin shares some unique contours with a larger principle outlined by cultural commentator and pastor Mark Sayers, and ultimately descriptive of a biblical anthropology.

Mark Sayers explains that human flourishing could be illustrated on a sort of axis with the components being freedom, meaning, and relationship (or community). Sayers uses the illustration of reservoirs— a healthy person, and in our case, a healthy Christian is orienting life around filling his reservoirs of freedom, meaning, and relationship.

Freedom: the ability to act freely on our convictions; to not be entirely dictated by external forces; a healthy inner life of choice.
Meaning: a transcendent story or narrative; a worldview; a deep identity from which we are drawing purpose.
Relationship/community: a people to belong to; a corporate identity; a community to be a part of with whom we share in life.

Now, all these are good things, necessary to Christian flourishing. However, the problem we face in American culture is that one of these ideals overwhelmingly outweighs and dominates the other two.

Freedom.

This is easily illustrated.

Perhaps you’ve been in one of these conversations concerning an intense desire for church community. “We need to do life together and really live into the body of Christ.” Yet Monday night prayer or growth group evening rolls around and we just don’t feel like it. Or better yet, we need some time to ourselves to recharge. Freedom at the cost of community.

We all desire the deep sense of connection to God that comes through long hours pouring over his Word, drinking in the life-giving story and subtleties of the gospel, but how often do we choose to sleep in, or flip on the ol’ Netflix to turn off our brains. Freedom at the cost of meaning.

It is increasingly common for a church member to attend a Sunday gathering once or twice per month. Instead, it is professional football on TV, club soccer tournaments, online church (whatever that is). Freedom at the cost of community and meaning.

We live in a culture that is supercharged with freedom. We face a barrage of options in the most simple decisions of life. The grocery store offers two hundred types of cereal. We need to read forty reviews of shovels before buying one (guilty, but to that point, I have a great shovel). We are resistant to commit our time due to a crippling fear that something better might come along.

And this is compounded by a culture that coerces us to believe this infinite freedom is some utopian vision of the good life. We see an Instagram feed from the mother of four, running four miles up a mountain, making a four-course breakfast for her kids and reading half of Genesis all before Saturday soccer games—no limitations. Movies feed us this idea that the more we can cut ourselves off from transcendent meaning, we will discover our truest self. “Be the best version of you.” The advertisement tells us that if we simply buy ________ we will have this overflowing life of joy that is demonstrated by the smiling, attractive, healthy, popular people on the screen. And friends, if you didn’t know, it’s all fiction.

Unlimited freedom is a failing vision of the good life—social media, movies, and advertisements want us to believe that the more freedom and autonomy we have the happier we will be. “Do what you want when you want, and you will find the happiness you want.”

Christ offers us a different vision of flourishing. We are actually called to sacrifice some of our freedom to embrace a life of meaning and relationship. Luke 15 provides a beautiful picture of this. Here we see the prodigal son disconnect himself from the community of his family (relationship) and disavow his the story of his inheritance (meaning) to take on a life of complete autonomy and “reckless living”  (15:13). The son is redeemed when the good father welcomes his son back into loving community and identity as his son. The son sacrifices his unlimited freedom for the goods of community and identity (meaning).

So what is all of this to say?

Friends, be cautious of the ways we as Americans embrace an intense priority of freedom. To be a part of true community is to sacrifice a measure of freedom. To put on the character and grace of Christ as our identity requires a sacrifice of autonomy.

:: “I just don’t feel like going to church this morning.”
:: “But I know the value of being in community with God’s people.”

:: “Let’s just skip growth group tonight.”
:: “Actually, we ought to discipline ourselves to live life publicly, amidst Christ-centered community.”

:: “Sermon is over; let’s beat the crowd and get to the car.”
:: “Perhaps we should linger, and spend time encouraging, being known by and getting to know the family of God.”

I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to pray that God gives each of us a hunger for gospel-enriched lives and vibrant relational living. Pray that we are willing to sacrifice personal freedoms to that end.

In that spirit, would you consider attending the all-church prayer gathering TONIGHT, Thursday, April 11, at 7:00 p.m. in the Worship Center? This is a time for us to come together to praise God for his faithfulness, confess our need for him, thank him for his provision in Christ, and plead with him to move in our church and in our city.

Here, in corporate worship and corporate prayer, we find a beautiful symmetry of these three reservoirs. We, free in Christ from the enslavement of sin, come together as a church in relationship and community, to engage with the creating God of the universe, the author of life, and the only source of truth and meaning.

In Him,

Geoff Grant
Northpoint’s Director of Worship Arts

 

4.4.2019

At Home and Abroad

By Tamene Menna
Pastoral Assistant

Hello Church Family,

Fourteen years ago, when I was in Ethiopia, I came across a mission group that was passionate to share the gospel. I quickly learned that the team came from America to reach unreached people groups in Ethiopia. At that time, I was a seminary professor, and along with my father, I was involved in mobilizing Ethiopian evangelical churches for mission and church planting. Given this, I was very excited to meet these folks.

Pastor Mark Spansel, then one of the pastors at Northpoint (who later became my close friend), was the leader of the mission team. He told us that they came all the way from Corona, California, wanting to help reach the unreached people groups in Ethiopia. I was amazed by their passion and readiness to take the gospel outside of their comfort zone to a culture completely foreign to them. I gladly joined the team for a week of mission work doing door to door evangelism—taking the gospel message to those who had never heard it before. This was my first experience of Northpoint Church, the leaders’ vision and passion for the mission and the members’ readiness and commitment to participate in spreading the seeds of the gospel to my home country. Ever since that point, Northpoint has made several mission trips to various parts of the world, including places such as Kenya, Botswana, India, Greece, Spain, and Mexico.

Northpoint’s mission commitment is not only global but local. Since 2012, the Lord has placed in our elders’ hearts a shared vision of being a multiplying church. As a result of that vision, ReBuild Fellowship was born. ReBuild is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural church in Riverside, California and was launched in September 2016. The church is led by Dr. Kimani Gathere and his wife, Lydia. Kimani and Lydia have been members of Northpoint since 2004 and have participated in various ministries of the church.

ReBuild is a growing church plant with members devoted to unity, service, and evangelism. The church meets at a strategic location near UC Riverside, and they have continued to reach out to university students and to do evangelism in the local neighborhoods. The members meet for fellowship and Bible study at pastor Kemani’s home on the third Friday of every month. ReBuild Fellowship recently held an all-church workers orientation on Saturday, March 2, 2019, where they gave a training seminar for all the church’s ministers.

ReBuild is already involved in local church planting. In June 2018, a couple (Pastor Mel and his wife Trish Campbell) left ReBuild Fellowship to launch Fellowship Corona, meeting at Luseno School here in Corona. Fellowship Corona continues to grow. Regarding his vision for local mission, Pastor Kimani says, “We want to be active and visible locally and will find new ways to be relevant and resourceful to our community.”

Praise the Lord for how He used Northpoint to plant ReBuild and multiply its efforts. Many of you here at Northpoint have been praying for them. Some of you have been visiting, helping with their children’s Sunday school, and encouraging them. They are grateful for that. I would like to thank you all for taking part in this work of God’s kingdom.

May the Lord continue to use us together for more local missions and to see more and more people transformed in our community and around the world. As we celebrate what God has done, let us also look forward prayerfully and readily to what he will do in the future through us.

In Him,Tamene Menna
Pastoral Assistant

 

3.28.2019

An Update From the NP Leadership Team

By Mark Kiker
Elder Chair

Hello Church Family,

The Northpoint Leadership Team has been meeting with a focus on planning and progress on several items. We are making good strides forward and want to quickly update you on several areas. We have divided up the leadership team’s workload into subcommittees that will work together to frame the questions and propose solutions back to the entire team. The whole team will make the final decisions, but by having smaller groups clarify specific areas, we can advance our processes in many areas at one time.

Pastor Search We have vetted several outside ministry partners and will be selecting one soon. These partners will help us navigate the entire process of searching for our next lead pastor. We gathered recommendations from our denomination, past relationships, and referrals. We have a conference call with one of the finalists on April 8. Once we have a partner in place, we can begin defining the series of steps needed to find the man God is preparing.

In general, we will follow these steps:

– Create: Hire a ministry partner and form a search team. The ministry partner and the elders will develop a church profile (who we are) and pastor profile (who we are looking for), and various application forms and processes. Those products will provide the search team with a framework to eventually vet candidates.

– Seek: Gather referrals, recommendations, and resumes with an initial screening application from possible candidates.

– Discern: Narrow field to a select group. Candidates will be offered a more focused application, then after review, may meet with our ministry partner and do search team interviews. We may have a team visit candidates at their present location and then engage them in deeper interviews with the elders.

– Call: We then select a single, final candidate for a Candidate Weekend. The congregation will have opportunities to interact, and then the elders will offer the name for affirmation by our members.

We have a long way to go, and we are encouraging you to pray for our process and our next pastor.

Elder Expansion
 You will soon be asked to affirm a search committee for vetting prospective elders. This group will assist the elder team in finding elder candidates. A vote will be taken on a Sunday via paper ballot for our membership to define this committee. These folks will gather names, do some preliminary vetting, and create a pool of candidates. The candidates will then go through an “elder in training” process for training, vetting, and possible addition to the team.

Choral Music – As discussed at the Town Hall meeting a few weeks ago, an elder subcommittee is proactively working on this area to free up the entire elder team to focus on the pastor search and elder expansion.

Deacons/Deaconess – We are looking into identifying men and women who can serve in areas of oversight and assistance to the elders. This would also free up time for the elders to steer the other efforts with greater vigor.

Mission, Vision, and Values – We will review our existing documents in light of their contribution to the pastor search conversation with candidates. We may add clarification as needed to reflect our perspectives on the future.

Constitution – We have gotten feedback from trusted denominational leadership that our constitution might be in need of review. It was written when the church was much smaller and may not reflect the structure needed to guide a congregation our size. Any changes would be brought to the members for review and approval.
Discipleship – We need to increase our focus on disciple-making: reaching, teaching, and sending. We have many areas where we are impacting our multiplication of disciples, but desire to expand our efforts to “present everyone mature in Christ.”   – Colossians 1:28 ESV

Finances – We are stable, but have declined a bit. We are roughly $8,000 below last year’s total giving fiscal year-to-date and about $60,000 under our budgeted needs for the year. The austerity of our staff has made that drop manageable, plus we have consistent cash flow and an increasing bank balance since August when our fiscal year started. We encourage all of you to give as you have been blessed and to continue to be faithful as God calls his children to be generous in their giving for the sake of his Kingdom.

As we see God’s will unfolding before us, continue to pray for his wisdom and guidance in all things, and be prayerful about the financial area as we seek to be good shepherds of his provisions.

In Him,

Mark Kiker
Elder Chair

 

3.21.2019

Why Sing Songs from Psalms?

By Geoff Grant
Director of Worship Arts

Hello Church Family,

I find myself this week reading a book for seminary that invites some interesting discussion. It isn’t so much the content of the book that has been occupying my attention, but rather the style. The author seems to oscillate rapidly between logical, academic coherence, and artistic ambiguous prose.

This is to say, one sentence I’d comment to myself, “Wow, that is a great point.” And the next, “I have no idea what he is trying to say here.”

The reason I employ this metaphor is I believe it illustrates one of the challenges our culture faces in corporate worship. More and more, as the disciples and ideas of post-modernism challenge our already modern culture, language is following the trend of subjectivity and ambiguity. Post-modernism makes the claim that “reality is subjective,” “what is truth to you is not truth to me”—more and more progressive culture aims to strip the world of anything concrete and transcendent, saying the only thing that is objective is that everything is subjective, which is one of the primary fallacies in this worldview.

I wish I could say confidently that the church is immune to this movement. Unfortunately, I think many of us are unaware of how much the ideas of modernity and post-modernity have formed us. It is in guarding against this that I’d like to call to attention our corporate worship, the words we say, and primarily, why we sing songs from Psalms.

Two passages come to mind in thinking about the words we sing. Joshua 1:8:

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.”
and Colossians 3:16:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

A broad stroke theme common to both of these verses is that we ought to seek for the Word of God to shape and form our thoughts and desires. God’s Word is steadfast and true. It is not changing and it is not wavering. We submit our ways to his Word and we desire to have our character formed by its content.

A subtle way that a church can be co-opted by the culture around it is by gradually taking on the language of the culture; in our case, a subjective, emotion rooted language rather than singing true things, honest things, concrete and clear from the Word of God. We see this in many of our contemporary Christian songs. I don’t need to give an example, but one wouldn’t be hard to find. Their words will be loose—shells of content, ghosts of meaning, waiting to be embodied by the worldview of whoever sings them.

Herein lies some of the greatest value of singing the Psalms in our corporate gathering. To sing the Psalms is to allow the very truth of who God is to flow from our mouths, to form how we think and feel. And I’m talking about specific things!

God is eternal (Psalm 102)
God is good (Psalm 25)
God is gracious (Psalm 145)
God is holy and just (Psalm 99)
God is merciful (Psalm 6)
God is all-powerful (Psalm 115)
God is all-present (Psalm 139, 90) …

to name a few.

And you’ll see this when we gather to sing together. Many of the songs we sing are simply straight from Psalms.

Oh Give Thanks (Psalm 107)
Taste and See (Psalm 34)
All People That On Earth Do Dwell (Psalm 100)
Forever (Psalm 136)
Although We Are Weeping (Psalm 126)

You can listen to all the songs we sing by following these links:

Spotify

iTunes

And additionally, we embrace the Psalms by artfully crafting and interpreting them into our varying contexts. Our Songs from Psalms album is now published and streaming; give it a click to listen today here:

Spotify

iTunes 

YouTube

Bandcamp

We are so thankful that God gives us words to sing to him. He leads us and shapes us even in how we speak and sing his praise.

We’d love to see each and every one of you at our Night of Psalms on Sunday, March 31, at 6 p.m., to sing the Psalms together and celebrate this great gift of the Psalms. We’ll have coffee provided by Restoration Roasters, treats and snacks, and Songs from Psalms albums will be available for purchase to benefit the NP Worship Ministry.

May God continue to increase our love for him and daily form us in the image of Christ, as we read, learn and sing his Word.

In Him,

Geoff Grant
Director of Worship Arts

3.14.2019

Two Threats to Church Unity

By Pastor Taylor Mendoza
Northpoint Student Ministries

Hello Church Family,

During my junior year in college, one of my professors assigned reading the entire New Testament looking for every reference on the church. It was a fruitful exercise, and one that I wish was assigned more in the classroom. Perhaps the most striking thing I learned from this task was how many references in the New Testament are about the unity of the church. It became clear to me that since we worship one God, the church should be one with each other.

Sadly, in many churches, unity is not talked about. Some have said before that the greatest danger for the church is losing her unity. Unity is sacred among the church body and should be protected by the leadership and the congregation. However, there are at least two major threats to church unity.

The Threat Toward Gospel Doctrine

The first major threat to church unity is a threat to the gospel itself. The center of our faith and fellowship is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is perhaps clearest in the letter to the Galatians where the apostle Paul confronted them for abandoning the truth of the gospel. Put simply, Paul told them that the gospel was the good news of salvation. This was according to the will of God who gave his Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins and delivered us from the power of Satan. God in his grace raised Jesus from the dead in his resurrection, so that it is not by works but by faith that we are justified. Ultimately, the gospel brings glory to God (Galatians 1:1-5).

This is what we call “gospel doctrine,” and the Galatians had abandoned it. Gospel doctrine is the foundation the unity of the church is built on. Without the clear teaching of the gospel, there is no good news for sinners. Without the right understanding of the gospel, the church is fragile and unstable like a house built on a foundation of sand. The apostle Paul confronted those who had turned away from the true gospel, distorted it, and ultimately, who would be accursed if they didn’t repent (Galatians 1:6-9). Likewise, we need to know that we play a role in protecting the unity of the church around the doctrine of the gospel. This means that we must know the gospel well enough to spot a gospel that is different than the one of the New Testament.

The Threat Toward Gospel Conduct

The second major threat to church unity is a threat to the right application of the gospel. A church that gets the gospel right, but does not walk in gospel conduct is a hypocritical church. The gospel changes hearts, redefines our identities, and causes us to shine as lights in a dark world. The threat to the right application of the gospel comes when we no longer walk in step with the gospel. This is exactly what the apostle Peter did that caused Paul to “opposed him to his face.” We read in Galatians 2:14: “I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel.” Brilliantly in chapter 1, Paul confronted those who threaten the doctrine of the gospel, and in chapter 2, he confronted Peter who did not have the right conduct flowing from the gospel. In other words, Peter acted like a hypocrite and he jeopardized the unity of the church.

Two practical ways that we as believers can protect the unity of the church by having gospel conduct are our love for one another, and our humility. Love for one another is a direct response to the love that God has for us in sending his Son. Now because of Christ, the gospel says to us that we are free, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13-14).

Humility begins in the heart and extends to others. In order to receive the gospel, we must be in a place of weakness and humility in order to put our faith in Jesus. When it comes to humility, Christians have (or should have!) a realistic view of themselves. As the Scripture says, “ Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor” (Gal. 6:2-4). You play a role in protecting the unity of the church by keeping your conduct in step with the gospel. This also means you help others keep their conduct in step with the gospel as well.

Painted Lady Butterflies and Unity

Church unity is important, and yet in this world, there is no truth so solid as gospel doctrine, no community so humane as a gospel conduct, nothing so resisted and yet so redemptive as both together, and nothing so worthy of our utmost devotion. Protecting unity, by protecting gospel doctrine and gospel conduct is the direction that our church should go.

This past week, I took a stroll around our church campus only to notice hundreds of painted lady butterflies migrating. It occurred to me at that moment we can learn from these butterflies. They were all going in the same direction, and they were going together. Our hope on the Northpoint Church Leadership Team is that we would all go in the same direction together as we protect our gospel doctrine and our gospel conduct. God is bound to bless a church that protects its doctrine and its conduct; may we do the same.

In Him,

Taylor Mendoza
Northpoint Student Ministries

3.7.2019

Precious and Very Great Promises

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” – 2 Peter 1:3-4

Hello Church Family,

Christians are more than people of faith. We are people who trust in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins, was buried, rose from the dead, and has ascended into heaven. Our living Savior reigns today.

Before He died on the cross, Jesus predicted what He would do. That prediction was a promise He fulfilled. Knowing God is more than knowing theology. It’s knowing Him by faith, believing his promises, trusting them, living by them, and proving in our lives that they’re true.

Holiness comes by faith in God’s power. True freedom—freedom from sin, not just punishment for sin—comes from walking by faith, or “Standing on the promises of God.” It means taking what Paul says seriously every day. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:31a-32).

God has promised in his Word that we will …
• Partake of His Nature:“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
• Escape Corruption:“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. … And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:33b-34).
• Escape Sinful Desire:“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. … And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:16, 24).
God has promised in his Word that He will …
• Provide All We Need:“But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith” (Luke 11:28)!
• Give Us Good Things:“No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11b). If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11)!
• Protect Us:“The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:7).
• Supply All Our Needs:“Bless the LORD, O my soul, … who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:2-5).
• Answer Our Prayer:“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10).
• Give Strength in Our Weakness:“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).Growing as a Christian means getting to know God better. Sound doctrine is essential to discerning truth from lies about who God is. But Christian growth means learning to walk in that truth. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation”(1 Peter 2:2).And prayer is an exercise that’s essential for living for Christ and to the praise of his glory.Praying on the Promises
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).Ask God to teach us as a church to take Him at his Word and trust in his promises. Pray that we will learn to see our circumstances in light of what He has promised to do and trust Him to do it. Pray that He will do this in your life and in our life together as a church. Pray for your small group, your friends, our congregation, and our leaders.In Him,Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

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2.28.2019

Let All You Do Be Done with Love

By Tim East
Northpoint Elder

Hello Church Family,

Paul was finishing his letter to the church in Corinth, and no doubt, it had been a difficult one to write.  He had corrected them over a dozen times for dividing into factions, falling for false teachings, gorging on all the food when the dined together, and the list could go on.

And such are all of us: striving to do well, but failing; willing to do the good, but finding ourselves falling into temptation; and always needing both admonishment and encouragement.

Paul wants to sum it all up in one final statement, something that would pull it all together, and here is what he said:

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men (adults, not child-like), be strengthened. Let all that you do be done in love.”

Five short commands. Just a final few words. In fact, if they’d been living out these five, they might not have needed the entire letter. But they did need to hear them, and so do we—especially the last one.

We are to be watching: watching for threats and watching for opportunities to show love. We are not to be shifting like sand, but to stand firmly in our faith. Faith here is THE FAITH “once for all delivered to the saints,” that which we all share in common. We are to stand firm the person of Christ, his work and his Word, not our personal opinions, biases, or preferences. In those, we are to yield to our brethren and submit to one another in love. But always firm in the faith.

To “act like men” is to accept responsibility like an adult, not making excuses as children often do—to grow up, as Paul would encourage them so often.

To “be strengthened” is the only command in the passive voice in this text: literally, to allow yourself to be strengthened. Our strength only comes from the Lord and his Spirit, working through his Word, and from no other source. We cannot strengthen ourselves, as we have nothing but God’s strength on which to draw.

Finally, and bringing all these together: let everything we do be done with and in love for one another and for the world. If we try to accomplish God’s work and God’s will for our lives, but we don’t have love, we cannot do either. Love is displayed so often by what we do and don’t do, especially when times are tough. Love means we don’t hold grudges. We don’t remember wrongs. We go the extra mile. We take the extra blow. We put on humility. We impart courage to the weak. We don’t walk out. We keep on loving. Even if we don’t particularly like someone, we set that aside and we love them with all our hearts and all God’s strength flowing through us.

Let this be said of our church, our families, our conversations, and our lives: everything we do is done with love.

In Him,

Tim East
Northpoint Elder

2.21.2019

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:19-25

The Dawn of Redemption

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint’s Prayer Ministry

Hello Church Family,

Creating is fun. Developing an idea and bringing it to life brings a one-of-a-kind joy, almost like giving birth. Struggle pays off. Difficulty brings a reward. Turn on a light bulb or computer, take a ride in your car or watch TV, and you partake of the benefits of the creativity that made life what it is today.

But starting over is a drag—all drudgery without inspiration. All demand and no motivation. Starting is exciting, but starting over brings a sigh. All life on earth as we know it is God’s “redo,” but God never becomes weary or tired. He’s fully committed to making all things new.

And humanity is what’s broken. We are the thing that’s gone wrong in God’s creation, and He’s determined to make us right. After all, we’re the race He created in his own image to rule the earth. What God accomplishes in mankind He is accomplishing for the whole world. He’s making us new in order to make all things new.

The God who spoke light into a dark world, gave shape to a formless world, and filled an empty world is doing much the same thing in those who trust Christ. Redemption through God’s Son ushers in a new creation free from sin and corruption. Here’s what this process looks like.

Deep inside we know that things aren’t as they should be. Conflicts in nature reveal this truth. Conflicts in society make the human disorder painfully real. There’s no denying the problem, but we refuse to admit that the problem is our sin, nor do we look to God to solve it. So a deep longing remains in each individual. All creation is groaning with the desire to be put right.

From God’s perspective, his creation is in labor pains, giving birth to a new creation. God is remaking the fallen world. In Christ, the pains Christians suffer are not pointless. They anticipate a new world created in Christ Jesus, because each Christian bears the seed of God’s new and eternal creation—the Holy Spirit, who resides in everyone who trusts Christ.

In essence, the Spirit within us is that new life, growing and developing. Eternal life is being born from this fallen and doomed world in the heart of the believer.

From start to finish, birth is an uncomfortable process. Something inside needs to come out. The new world that God’s creating in us is foreign to this world. Divine righteousness is alien to the fallen world we live in. There’s no way to imagine what a child will be like before birth, and no one can conceive what God has in store for his new creation. But we know that it’s good, and we long for it to come. Our hope is certain. It just isn’t here yet. So we groan with patient but hopeful anticipation.

But God’s Spirit helps us in this process. Since He’s God, He understands God’s purposes. Since He lives in us, He knows our limited understanding and appreciates the pain that goes with new creation. In our pain, we call out for help, often not knowing exactly what we want.

The Holy Spirit helps our inarticulate groanings, by praying them for us, in a way that make sense to God and aligns our longings with the his good and acceptable and perfect will (Romans 12:2). As life goes on and labor pains increase, we grow into the mind of God and come to appreciate—even desire—his will. We learn to want what God wants.
life!

Prayer is so much more than getting what we want from God. Prayer teaches us to want what God has for us and cultivate a taste for eternal riches. And it gives us strength to endure the things God uses to accomplish his work in us, knowing that the plans of a good God are good. We don’t know what our future will look like, but we know we’ll look like Christ, because the Father is perfecting his image in us.

Prayer is how we participate in God’s new creation. As we pray for ourselves, God’s answers prepare us for the day when He adopts us as mature children, ready to receive our inheritance. God’s answers to our prayers usher in the new creation the world’s been longing for since it was wrecked by sin. That’s how God works all things together for our good and to the praise of his glory.

By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. – Proverbs 24:3-4

Ask God to give our leaders at Northpoint wisdom to lead our church and lay the foundation for our future. Ask Him to give them understanding of who we are and what God desires us to be as a body. Pray for knowledge to inform their thinking and planning, as we step into the future God has for us. Pray that they learn to walk by faith in the God they don’t see but is always with them.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

2.14.2019

Songs Northpoint Sings

By Geoff Grant
Northpoint’s Director of Worship Arts 

From time to time, I receive questions about the songs we sing together on Sunday mornings. At Northpoint, we sing a wealth of themes and types of songs. We sing songs composed hundreds of years ago and songs composed days ago.

We try to choose songs that emphasize different aspects of God’s redemptive story. Broadly, our songs aim to emphasize:

God’s character and perfect creation –

We sing songs that remind us who God is. He is holy and loving, powerful, and just. He created all in existence, and he is worthy of our affection and esteem.

Holy, holy, holy
Lord, God Almighty
Early in the morning
Our song shall rise to Thee
Holy, holy, holy
Merciful and mighty
God in three persons
Blessed Trinity

Our fallenness and need for redemption –

We sing songs that give us space to confess our sin to God. This is the appropriate response to God’s holiness. When we see his perfection, we are disturbed by our imperfection. We recognize the brokenness of God’s creation and long for its redemption. We confess our sins, and he is faithful and just to forgive. (1 John 1:9)

Lord, I believe the hold of sin is strong
And stout its heart to pluck me from Thy love
But stronger is thy grace, oh raise me up
Spirit help my unbelief

Our redemption in Christ –

We sing songs that ground our identity and hope in the perfection, sacrifice, and Lordship of Christ. The ailment of sin plagues the heart of man, and Christ is the only remedy. We sing songs that exalt him as Lord and recognize him as our redemption.

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Our future hope and the coming kingdom –

We sing songs that call to mind our future hope in Christ. We sing songs that thank God for the eternity we will spend with him. This is to remind us that our present trials are to be redeemed by God’s eternal reign, and we are ultimately citizens of his eternal kingdom.

We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more

All of the songs we sing together are available to stream and listen to on our Songs Northpoint Sings playlists. You can subscribe to these playlists; we update them regularly with the songs we sing together in worship. You can find them here:

Spotify –

iTunes –

https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/songs-northpoint-sings/pl.u-pMyll2jh4PWeND

Our heart behind doing this is to give everyone the opportunity to familiarize themselves with songs we sing, to better participate with the congregation, and also to seek out specific songs that were especially encouraging and useful.

I am so encouraged by the singing of the church when we gather on Sundays. May the Spirit of God continue to shape us in the image of Christ—and may we unify our hearts to that end as we gather in corporate worship.

In Him,

Geoff Grant
Northpoint’s Director of Worship Arts

2.7.2019

The Helper

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. … He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. – John 16:7, 14-15

Hello Church Family,

“Faith is … the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Most of reality—especially ultimate reality—is unseen, so we live and conduct ourselves by faith. We talk about “mind over matter,” but actually, matter comes from mind—the Mind of God. Or, as Hebrews puts it, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). God reveals Himself in nature and speaks in his Word, so his Holy Spirit is essential to our relationship with Him. At one time, God walked among us in the person of Jesus Christ. But now, He lives within us in the person of His Holy Spirit. When He left earth, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be our “Helper.”

Here are some ways the Helper helps:

• He bears witness through his people about Jesus Christ. – “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).
• He convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. – “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11).
• He keeps us from falling away in times of trouble. – “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away” (16:1).
• He guides us into all the truth. – “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (16:13).
• He glorifies Christ while He’s away, by telling us of the riches we have in Him. – He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (16:14-15).
• He keeps us rejoicing until we see Jesus again. – “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (16:22).
• He enables us to ask and receive from the Father in Jesus’ name. – “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. … In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf” (16:23-24, 26).
• He gives peace in tribulation. – “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (16:33).
Praying in the Spirit
The Holy Spirit is someone worth getting to know. Seek Christ in prayer and through his Word. He is our Treasure, and the Spirit of God reveals Him to us.
Christianity is more than a subculture. It’s the kingdom of Christ. The Church is not developing a worldview or crafting a comprehensive understanding of the world for others to consider. We’re proclaiming Christ, the King and Savior of the world. His Word created the world. His blood redeemed the world. And He rules the world through the truth of His Word and the work of His Spirit, who is in us.
The fact is, we have serious business to do here on earth. So let’s pray for the Spirit’s help to do the work of Christ for the praise of His glory.Pray for:
• The Holy Spirit’s prompting and direction for opportunities to tell others about Christ’s love and sacrifice for sin.
• Powerful conviction of sin, the debt to God that it brings, and the inevitable reality of judgment.
• Strong faith at all times, especially in trouble or persecution.
• A clear understanding of the truth and conviction that leads to action.
• An appreciation of what matters and has lasting value.
• Unshakable Joy.
• The ability to ask and receive from the Father in Jesus’ name.
• Peace in Christ during times of tribulation.In Him,Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

1.24.2019

Forgive Us Our Debts

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

Hello Church Family,

Hello Church Family,

And forgive us our debts. … – Matthew 6:12a

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1st John 1:7-10

Holy Father, deliver us from the lie that we are basically okay, only needing minor improvements to be pleasing to you. In your grace, enable us to see our sin and admit it to you. Lead us to despair of our own ability to make ourselves right before you. Make us long for your cleansing, then wash us and make us whiter than snow.

A great lie baits the trap of sin and death. We are lulled by the idea that everyone has some good and some bad, and what really matters is which one we choose. Thank you, Lord, for the frank evaluation you give us in your Word. It’s far more harsh than a diagnosis of cancer, but it’s true. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. All hope of salvation and cleansing from sin lies—not with us—but with you.

Your sentence of death for sin is just. We can’t blame you. We disobeyed your command, knowing the consequences. Our sin cut us off from you—the Source of Life—and brought us death. We can’t blame you for what we did. But we do. Release us, Father, from the lie that it’s not our fault, so we can confess our sin and receive your forgiveness.

You made man in your image, so human aspirations are huge. By nature, we take on challenges and strive to conquer. We need your light to reveal the fact that all our efforts are hopeless apart from Christ. Of all our sins, the greatest is self-righteousness—our insistence on getting things right on our own. Only your grace can set us free to give up our efforts and receive your forgiveness as a free gift. Sin entangles us every time we try to “be good” on our own.

Pour out your grace, Father. Whet our appetite for you. Make us hunger and thirst for you, O Living God. Make us acutely aware of our lack of connection to you and of the fact that we are responsible for it. Cleanse us of our sins. Set us free to know and enjoy you, through Christ, our God and Savior.

To the praise of your glorious grace! Amen.

The greatest power is not the ability to identify sin and punish sinners. The greatest power is the ability to save sinners. And Jesus saves. That is God’s message to us and our message to the world.

Once, a man named Uzzah reached out and touched the Ark of the Covenant and was struck dead. A couple named Ananias and Saphira lied to God and died on the spot. God is frightfully holy, and sin brings death. But the earth-shattering, universe-shaking miracles of God’s Word are works of grace: when Moses and the elders of Israel went up Mount Sinai and saw the LORD and lived; when God became flesh and dwelt among us. Through Christ, we too see God yet live.

Prayer exerts the miracle of salvation. Every time you pray, you enter boldly into the presence of God, who is holy, holy, holy in a deadly, deadly, deadly way. Yet you live. Hallelujah! God has great plans for his people, and they all center around his power to save. Let us live in that power in order to proclaim that Jesus saves.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

1.17.2019

Road to Joy

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

Hello Church Family,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. – Philippians 4:4-9

The road to joy begins with praise, is walked in prayer, and steeped in reflection. It starts by knowing how infinitely rich we are because we belong to Christ, our Maker, and Redeemer.

A seemingly simple man, Brother Lawrence worked in the kitchen of a monastery and later repaired their sandals. Over time, he developed a remarkable joy and sweetness, depth and wisdom, by “practicing the presence of God.” In everything he did and everything that happened, he recognized that God’s presence was what truly mattered, and every event factored into God’s plan. To Lawrence, nothing happened that was outside God’s good and acceptable and perfect will (Romans 12:2).

Christ Himself is our treasure, the wellspring of joy. And He’s right here with us—all the time, wherever we may be. Joy flows from walking with Jesus wherever we go—an infinite treasure who will never leave or forsake us.

We also have completely open communication with the Father. In Jesus name, we can ask God for anything, tell Him everything, and trust Him in all things. He listens, He cares, and He will answer. Access to the Almighty brings confidence. His wisdom gives peace. His love fosters rest.

Tell God everything you need, and expect Him to provide. When He answers, “No,” He has something better. Make thanks a habit, so you can keep the connection between what you receive and the good Lord who gave it. Let his omnipotence replace your weakness, and his enabling allay your fears.

But, believe it or not, joy is an acquired taste. It doesn’t just happen. We need to cultivate an appetite for the true riches in Christ. What holds your attention? What occupies your mind? Let God direct your focus to things of eternal value—things that satisfy and nourish the soul. Let God turn your eyes to what is …

• true and verifiable, not false and deceitful
• honorable and fitting, not demeaning or degrading
• righteous and consistent with God’s standards
• pure, without moral defect
• pleasing, winsome, and attractive
• deserving of approval and praise
• of outstanding quality and worth telling to others

Joy isn’t earned or bought. We have nothing to give God but everything to receive from Him. The road to joy is the path of walking with the Good Shepherd—following his guidance, learning from his wisdom, receiving his provision, basking in his goodness, and delighting in his glory.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

 

1.10.2019

Restore + Rediscover + Rebuild Update

By Mark Kiker
Northpoint Elder Chair

Hello Church Family,

In the summer of last year, the Leadership Team unveiled a plan to move us toward the future: Restore + Rediscover + Rebuild. The Lord has restored much, allowed us to rediscover many things, and He is now helping us as we start to rebuild.

We have done much, but still, we have major initiatives before us.

Where the Lord has brought us so far:

  • Hired Interim Pastor and Youth Pastor – We brought in Dr. Tony Chute from Cal Baptist and affirmed Taylor Mendoza as our youth pastor.
  • Council from Denomination – We have ongoing meetings with Bob Osborne from the EFCA. He has helped the elders to process lessons learned. He is providing advice, training, facilitating discussion, and sharing his experience from many years of assisting churches.
  • Listening More – Large group listening meetings were held, plus many small group interactions were had, and we continue to have individual conversations with members. We seek to clarify issues, repair relationships, in addition to strengthening communication and feedback.
  • Staff Support – More time spent with staff. We have been interacting with staff on a regular basis as time allows, attending more meetings, providing more guidance, and encouraging our paid staff.
  • Elders/Directors Fellowship – We are invigorating relationships amongst the leadership team and directors with more fellowship times together.
  • Choral Music – We reintroduced choral arrangements via the Inland Community Choir presence on two Sunday mornings and hosted one of their Christmas Concerts.
  • Congregational Meetings – We review finances and update members at these meetings, and we have one on the books for January 27, 2019.
  • Finance and Attendance – We are stable and improving. Not out of the woods yet, but the Lord is blessing us through increased giving and consistent attendance

Where the Lord is leading:

  • Update on Financials and Attendance – Our January 27 Congregational Meeting will allow for more reporting on finances and giving. Please plan on attending.
  • Plan Music Ministry Year – We are reviewing and planning the calendar year in music with Geoff as we seek to include choral music going forward.

Where the Lord might take us next:

  • Leadership Team Meeting – The leadership team will be gathering on January 19 for an extended planning meeting. At that session, we will reaffirm our ministry vision and focus. We will be praying and discussing where the Lord is leading and how we might move forward with the wisdom and guidance He provides. Please be in prayer for this day.
  • Expand the Elder Board – We will be looking for men that the Lord might be calling to eldership. We will discuss this on January 19 also.
  • Formally initiate Pastor Search Process – February will see us begin the process of seeking our next lead pastor. At that time, we will lay out the series of tasks needed to open the search. We have no timeline for completion, as we understand the Lord of the Harvest moves His workers around His fields as He sees fit.

Please pray for the elders and pastors as we seek guidance and wisdom from the Lord at our January 19 meeting.

In Him,

Mark Kiker
Elder Chair

1.3.2019

Christmas: A Love Story

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

Christmas is the greatest love story ever told. It’s the story of God’ love for you. It’s not magic. It’s a miracle performed by God. It didn’t just happen to happen. God planned it every step of the way—to make us his own—his perfect Bride.

A Determined Lover: God is the Main Character in his Word, and his love drives the story of the World. The Christmas story tells the romance of redemption—God loving and winning a people for himself.
God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Ephesians 1:4). Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25b).

A Rejected God: The backdrop of Christmas is the ache of evil—the wound in the world that goes deep into the heart of everyone in it. And our wound is self-inflicted. We used our freedom to reject our Maker. His ongoing intention and our aching need are to restore the relationship our sin has broken.
What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away (Hosea 6:4). He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (John 1:10-11).

The Virgin Birth: God sent His Son to be born of a virgin, and this event was a miracle. God himself caused Mary to conceive Jesus. Because God was His Father, Jesus is God also—the one and only God-Man. With Mary as His mother, Jesus is human like you and me. He’s One of us.
• “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us (Matthew 1:23).

The Perfect Man: Jesus came from a perfect home to a hurting world. The pain we endure and the evil we decry have roots inside each person except Jesus. Though untouched by sin, he shares our pain.
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1st Peter 2:21-22).

The Radiant Bride: In his Beloved, God sees the beauty of his own creation. The church is his Bride. Sanctification is growing into the splendor of all our loving God intends us to be.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25b-27). You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you (Song of
Solomon 4:7). We love because he first loved us (1st John 4:19).

A Responsive Bride: God gave those who rejected him the freedom to be restored to him.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).

Glorious Consummation: The same Jesus who came before will come again. Life has a purpose that will one day be realized when Christ returns for his Bride, and we will be with him forever.
The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and
so we will always be with the Lord
(1st Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Imminent Expectation: Everything we hope for—all we have in Christ—will be realized when he returns in glory. The hope of Christ’s return is an ever-present possibility.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable,
and this mortal body must put on immortality
(1st Corinthians 15:51-53).

Every story reflects the great story. Every conflict-complication-climax-resolution cycle, in every tale or epic, reflects the Christmas story—the story of God’s love for his people. It’s not over, but we know how it
ends—for our good and to the praise of God’s glory.

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

 

12.27.2108

The Love of God

By Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

I can still hear my sister’s voice in the dark bedroom we shared in our house on 107th Street. “I can’t wait for Christmas! Can you?” Every year, every child’s heart echoes the same longing. An inner yearning draws us toward the Big Day. We “can’t wait,” but somehow we must. Time stands in our way.

What we wanted were presents, but our excitement spoke of something more. Not Santa—I’ve never believed in him—but it was a Person we longed for. Someone special—one-of-a-kind and long expected.

Presents under the tree are a very imperfect way of training hearts to long for Jesus. But there’s another way to look at Christmas expectation. Children aren’t the only ones who long for Christmas to come. God the Father was longing too.

In the beginning, God created a perfect world, and then he created us, out of love. God’s first words to Adam and Eve, our greatest great ancestors, spoke of a gift. He gave us the world. Gift giving is more than a Christmas tradition. It’s how God’s world works.

God’s love is freely given, and he made us in his image, so we could freely receive it. But when we did, we cast the Giver away, thinking we’d be more free. The story of the forbidden fruit is no myth, like Santa Claus. It recounts the moment sin began—when humanity cast God aside.

From that moment, God has pursued a plan to get us back. More than a helpless longing for some desired day, God’s love is a purposeful pursuit. Without violating our free and independent will, the Father determined to bring us back to himself. In some unimaginable way, while we’ve been waiting on God, God has been waiting on us—intent on making us his own.

After the fall, God reached out to Cain, who clung to his murderous way. Seth’s descendants “called on the name of the LORD” but ultimately forsook him. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD, but his children rejected the Father’s love.

But God refused to let rejection have the final word. He chose one man—Abraham—and bound himself to him and his descendants. To protect them from the world’s evil, he outlined his holy standards. Obedience would bring God’s blessing and disobedience his curse. In this way, God reached out through his people to show the world his love and how he blesses those who love him.

God kept Israel separate from the rest of the world. They were his people—a holy people—not to be stained by sin. Their isolation protected their purity, but it shut out the world. And God loves the world. The entire Old Testament tells the story of God’s love reaching to a lost world through his chosen people.

Finally, the long-awaited day came when God could enter the world to save the lost. Born as One of his own people, his own people did not receive him (John 1:11). But God the Father made his Son’s death a sacrifice for sin so that to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

At long last, God could embrace the whole world, create his church, and call us his own. To the praise of his glory.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive: https://northpointcorona.org/ministries/prayer/

The rest of NP News for 12.27.2018 can be found athttps://northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

12.20.2018

God is My Hero

By Holli Worthington
Northpoint Women’s Ministries

“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron. And her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. …

The angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you shall have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. …’

And Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.’” – Luke 1:5-7,13,18-20

Imagine Gabriel’s thoughts when God tells him that the good news he will bring to Zechariah will not be believed!

Gabriel—who stands in the presence of God—and whose name means God is my hero, was sent to tell Zechariah that his prayers had been answered. This mighty messenger of God was bringing astonishingly good news straight from the throne room of God, the long-awaited answer to a heart cry from a childless couple. And the news was more than good. Not only were their prayers answered for a child, but they were to be given a son!

A son who would bring them joy and delight,
a son who would be great in the sight of the Lord,
a son who would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth,
a son who would bring people back to the Lord,
a son who would prepare the way for Messiah!

The answer that Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for in their desire to be parents was so much bigger than they could have imagined. Maybe Zechariah didn’t believe because his perspective was so small. His desire for a child was for himself and Elizabeth, to provide a legacy, and fill their emptiness. Zechariah never dreamed that God would use his longed-for child to prepare the way for Jesus to come and fill the emptiness of all mankind.

Zechariah certainly didn’t expect such a personal answer, complete with a special delivery angel. He had most likely given up on this particular prayer. In his mind, the time had long passed for this prayer to be answered. He probably expected God to answer his prayer long ago, while he and his wife were still young, while they had energy, while all their friends were having children, not now when they were the age of most grandparents. That would have been a fine plan, much more logical! But God hardly ever does what is logical to us or what we expect. He goes far beyond our limited minds!

Much like I do, Zechariah and Elizabeth had likely mapped out the best way for God to answer their prayer, and when the answer didn’t follow their plan, unbelief resulted. Because of Zechariah’s unbelief, he was struck silent for nine months, unable to speak about the marvelous work God was bringing about for all of them. How many times does unbelief in my own heart result in silence instead of believing, trusting and proclaiming God and his amazing work in my life?

I wonder if Gabriel—who, remember, stands in the presence of God, and whose name means God is my hero—wondered, How is it that Zechariah won’t believe? Doesn’t he grasp how great God is? Doesn’t he know that God does what he says he will do? Doesn’t he understand that God accomplishes his purpose regardless of the obstacles? Doesn’t he realize that God’s plan is so much bigger and better than what he wants?

God tells us in his Word that Zechariah was upright and observed the Lord’s commandments blamelessly. He wasn’t perfect, but he was part of the remnant of God’s people who lived by faith. Yet still, he struggled with unbelief. What was so obvious to Gabriel, Zechariah missed because he was focused on the improbability and obstacles instead of on God with whom nothing is impossible. During those nine months of silence, Zechariah’s sight was heightened and his focus turned to God so that when his voice was restored, the first sounds he uttered were blessing and praise for God, the hero who was bringing about the salvation of his people.

This Christmas, let us spend more time coming boldly to the throne room, in the presence of God, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, so that we can proclaim to all who will listen: God is my hero.

In Him,

Holli Worthington

12.13.2018

This article originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition website and is reposted by permission from the author.

3 Ways to Help Outsiders Feel Welcome in Your Church
By Ronnie Martin

Honestly, this shouldn’t be so hard.

But for a good majority of “unchurched” or “outsiders” coming through our church doors, we often make it real hard. Their status as “clearly not insiders” is glaring from the moment they’re greeted by either an overly enthusiastic team of awkward cheerleaders inviting them into the happiest place on earth, or a holy huddle of scary-eyed rabbits praying they don’t have to make eye contact with the newbies.

The reason I begin here is because it’s where the journey often begins for the unbeliever coming to your church.

So what can we do to help outsiders feel like welcome, without turning church into a preference-driven smorgasbord of gospel-lite hors-d’oeuvres? In other words, how do we make the gospel comprehensible to those who’ve had little or no relationship to it? My suggestion is simply this: We use gospel hospitality to extend an invitation to gospel reality.

Gospel Hospitality

Comfort doesn’t have to be a seven-letter curse word in the church. The first thought that likely enters the mind of a person when they enter a church is Am I going to feel comfortable here? It’s a good question. Here are two simple ways we can show gospel hospitality in the church.

Be friendly. Most outsiders are going to have little problem with Christians who are genuinely warm and kind to them. It’s tragic how many churches struggle in this area. I’ve come to realize that friendliness actually needs to be taught.

At our church, we have a deaconess of hospitality named Jillian, who teaches our people how to be friendly. Friendliness should never be assumed. Church members need to know that showing Christ’s love begins by taking a genuine, hospitable interest in the people God brings to us.

Be helpful. Walking into a new church can be confusing. Regardless of how big or small your building is, to an outsider it can feel scary and overwhelming. Part of being friendly is answering questions people will have but might be hesitant to ask. If you’re in a gathering space where navigation is not so obvious, make sure people know who you are, where they need to go, and that you’ll be happy to answer any questions you haven’t covered. Basic stuff, I know, but I can’t count the number of churches I know that make newcomers feel like they’re entering an escape room.

When a person has been served well with friendly, helpful, gospel-driven hospitality, they’re given an unspoken invitation to hear the uncomfortable reality of the gospel.

What are some ways to do that? Here are three.

1. Acknowledge Outsiders

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. (Col. 4:5)

Whether you do so at the beginning, end, or somewhere in between, respectfully acknowledge those coming in who don’t consider themselves followers of Christ. Far from being exclusive, this communicates that people with a diversity of beliefs, perspectives, and worldviews all have a valued place in your pews. It’s an opportunity to break down some of the stereotypes perpetuated by pastors who “talk down” to the lost. Instead, we can speak favorably of the grace of Christ to those who live in the absence of his favor.

2. Avoid Insider Language

Let your speech always be gracious . . .  (Col. 4:6)

I don’t mean to avoid using words like propitiationjustification, or sanctification—explain those terms well, because they communicate the grace of Christ. What I mean is avoid using insider language that makes someone feel like they just walked into an exclusive club where secret passwords and exclusive handshakes are the order of the day.

Resist using acronyms and cutesy names for ministries and events that would make it impossible for anyone attending their first Sunday to know what on earth you’re talking about.

3. Accept the Folly

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being (1 Cor. 1:18saved it is the power of God. 

Paul tells us the message of the cross is foolish to those who haven’t been saved by it. If that’s true, it’s a message that doesn’t need to be dolled up. It can’t be. Yes, it needs to be clear and compelling, but it needs to be preached by men who don’t fear the convicting nature of its content. A comfort-driven gospel fails to articulate the alarming discomfort of a suffering Christ. That’s what Paul says needs to be comprehended every time a preacher opens his mouth.

There is no set of tricks or gimmicks to assure outsiders will automatically feel welcome in your church, though many churches go to silly and embarrassing lengths to sell the world a brand that was never intended to be marketed. We do know that when the gospel is hospitably practiced and humbly preached, the Spirit loves to save many who are perishing and bring them into the blood-bought community of the Son.

12.6.2018
The Difference Hope Makes
By Dave Dussault

Have you noticed it’s getting darker? No, it’s not the time change and the sun going down earlier. There’s an increase in spiritual darkness—like the growing preference for Halloween over Christmas. The Christian faith has gone from passé to suspect, as American culture increasingly defines freedom as doing what I want without interference, rather than the right to govern myself. Individual desires and drives are being unleashed and taking control—forces that undermine life, vitality, and true freedom.The world is not pretty much okay—maybe in need of an adjustment here and there but not too far off. That delusion needs to have some light shined on it—true light, harsh but revealing—to help the world know just how dark things really are. We need the light of truth, righteousness, but above all hope.

That’s where we come in. When Jesus said, You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), He was calling His people out and giving us an assignment. He put us on a lampstand so we can shine. His words, You are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), echo the same idea of penetrating distinctness. God’s people are different to make a difference. We’re in the world but not of it. We penetrate and illuminate.

So what’s the difference? Hope. Christians show the world that sin does not have to be in control. The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:11). The Holy Spirit is working in every believer, empowering righteousness, purity, and holiness.

God not only tells us how to be pure. He enables us to live as we should. His grace gives hope by making holiness “doable” for the believer. God calls Christians to holiness, so the world can see what holiness is like and that in Christ it’s possible.

While the world has given in to sin and given up fighting the evil within us, Christians bring the hope of holiness. We make a difference by being different. At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. We shine the light of holiness and hope when we walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8).

Two thousand years ago, God revealed His righteousness in Christ. Jesus’ life displayed the perfect standard by which God will judge everyone on earth. But His grace appeared to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). God now reveals His righteousness in us.

When Christ entered our world the first time, it pined in the same darkness we face today. As we anticipate the coming Christmas holiday and prepare to celebrate that first Christmas, we shine the light of hope. The Baby in the manger will come again to reign on earth and make the world the way it should be, to the praise of His glory.

Prayer for Today

Ask God to send revival. Pray that it will be deep, making the love of God the fountain of everything that Christians desire. Ask God to make the coming revival wide, extending to Christians all around the world. Pray that it will be high, exalting Christ above all the leaders and powers of the earth. Pray for it to last long and shape world history for centuries to come.

Pray also for revival to come to Northpoint, moving each person in our body to seek Christ in prayer and the study of God’s Word. Ask God to draw us to Himself and into the world, serving His kingdom by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And pray for this revival to take effect, not only in our church leaders but in us as a congregation as well.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

 

11.29.2018

Unwrapping God’s Perfect Gift
From Dave Dussault

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible Gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:15

The entire Bible tells us about who God is and His plan to redeem our lost world. He accomplished that plan through Jesus—God’s only Son, wrapped in flesh. Jesus is the greatest gift there ever was, sent directly from God. Take some time to reflect on who Jesus is and all we have in Him.

Sufficient: We have everything we will ever need through Christ—Really!
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Enrichment: In God’s plan, multiplied thanks come from His multiplied blessings.
You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11).

Light and Life: Unconquerable Light and Life are in Christ and ours through Him.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:4-5).

Abundant Grace: We receive everything through Christ, including grace to enjoy it.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace (John 1:16).

God in Flesh: Christ created the world, is not of this world, but He became one of us to redeem us.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Lamb of God: Christ alone takes away the sin of the world, by His death on the cross.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)!

Risen Savior: Through Jesus’ resurrection, we are born again to a living hope.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

Our Keeper: Jesus guards and keeps us on our way to heaven.
To an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:4).

Prophetically Promised: Christ Jesus is God’s long-promised King.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2).

Assurance of All We Need: Christ gives us certainty that God will meet our every need.
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:32)?

Greif Bearer: On the cross, Jesus bore our sins and sorrows.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4).

Guilt Bearer: On the cross, Jesus took our punishment.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6).

Heart of God’s Redemptive Plan: God promised Jesus at the beginning of time.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).

Conquering King: Jesus is God’s Triumphant Ruler who will rule with perfect justice.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal  of the Lord of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Coming King: All our hope is in Christ’s return in glory.
This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).

Righteous Judge: When Christ returns there will be a day of perfectly just judgment.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:31-33).

Worthy Ruler: Jesus Christ is the only One in heaven and earth who Is worthy to reign.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing (Revelation 5:12)!

Our world is temporary and troubled. Christ is the eternal Prince of Peace. Let Him dominate your focus during this holiday season. Or, in the words of Helen Howarth Lemmel:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His Glory and Grace.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

11.22.2018

Something to Thank About
From Dave Dussault

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble … He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!Psalm 107:1-2, 15-16

You may not have noticed it. You may even wish it didn’t happen, but this morning … you woke up! You have received a gift—a new day—today. Thank God!

Some days are challenging. Some are difficult. Most seem ordinary. Some days are important—even monumental. But every day is a tailor-made gift from God, worth thanking Him for. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24). Now that’s a good command to obey.

Thanksgiving Day is significant for countless reasons. It’s a national holiday, focusing us as a people on gratitude toward God. It’s a reminder—not of pilgrims and turkeys—but of God’s mighty hand providing for His children and the founding of our country. It’s a spur to God’s people to say “Thank You” for all He’s done and all He’s doing.

The word “thank” is similar to the word “praise” but not the same. To “praise” means to brag about how wonderful someone is. To “thank” someone means to acknowledge something they’ve done. While “praise” boasts, “thanks” recognizes. Thanks” connects something good to its source and gives credit.

As God’s church, we are called to open the eyes of the blind and set prisoners free, to inform the ignorant and remind the forgetful. Christ has reconnected us to the God who made us. Our job is to help others make that connection, and the practice of giving thanks keeps the connection alive. It opens our eyes to the daily miracles of God’s providence, so we can see His hand in everything that happens—even if it’s just the dawn of a new day.

Today, for example. The sun comes up on a world of dazzling beauty. God created it and gave us eyes to see it. Stars march through the night sky with astounding regularity. The sun runs its course over a skyline no sculptor could imitate. Rivers flow through lush valleys as birds sing in delight. Each day gives
us people to engage, friends to enjoy, and family to love. Work brings us things to do, challenges to take on, and meaning to our activity. So we thank God for each new day.

Life, though, is a good-news-bad-news proposition. Death is a reality we can ignore but not avoid. The evil we see and pain we feel tells us that all is not right with the world. Sin—our fatal disconnection from God—is a carefully concealed but undeniable, unavoidable, and unconquerable reality. But Christ has overcome the sin that broke our world and the death that haunts our days. That fact is the fountain of all thanks.

The Good News of redemption in Christ has steadily advanced from the first Pentecost to this day. From Jerusalem to Corona, Christ has built His Church just as He said He would. The gates of hell have not prevailed against missionaries who spread God’s Word, monarchs who forged its truth into structured society, and martyrs who gave their lives to spread the gospel across the world. And so we say thanks.

Thanks acknowledges Christ’s triumph even when the church turns on itself. Both Catholics and Protestants have persecuted the faithful, yet the truth has more than survived. Persecution has driven God’s people throughout the world. It was the state church that chased the pilgrims to America. More than stiff, stilted figures, with blunder busts and strange speech, the pilgrims were real people running for their lives and searching for freedom. Their quest was for all we abundantly enjoy today.

What God gave them He gave us. Free worship. Abundant easts. Self-determination and self-governance. The right to decide for ourselves and pursue God’s leading without government interference. And so we say thanks to God from whom all blessings flow. He loves to bless and provide for His own, even though we don’t deserve it. And we have been blessed and will be blessed to the praise of His glory.

Noticing God’s Blessings

It’s often difficult to take time, but it’s so worthwhile. Busyness can be blinding, and there are forces at work to keep our eyes off our good God. Making time to give thanks is a deliberate process that brings rich rewards. It connects us to our God and Maker. It enables us to see His providing hand and sense His presence. Time with God is precious and essential, so be sure to make room for your Maker.

Think through some specific ways God has blessed you and give Him thanks. Maybe the video in this link will help.

Giving Thanks

  • Spiritual: In what ways has God blessed you in your relationship with Him?
  • Relational: Identify friends and family members God has used to bless you.
  • Physical: Notice God’s hand in your health and your life situation.
  • Social: How has God blessed you with freedom and opportunity, goals and ambitions and success?
  • Financial: How does God provide for you financially, even when you’re in need?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. – Ephesians 1:3-4

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

11.15.2018

“We Are Responding”
From the EFCA

In what has amounted to the deadliest wildfire in California history, 90 percent of Paradise, California, has been destroyed. More than 7,600 single-family homes and 260 commercial structures burnt to the ground. Forty-eight lives lost and hundreds more missing.

The following is an excerpt from a blog post written by Mark Lewis, director of EFCA Crisis Response, after he witnessed the aftermath of the wildfire:

“Black. Gray. White. Brown. The colors of the burn area. The landscape is charred. After 15 minutes of driving, we start to see the remains of cooked cars and piles of ash and twisted metal marking the remains of buildings. Brick chimneys stand like tombstones over the remains of still smoldering homes, neighborhood after neighborhood, for mile after mile.”

Eighty homes of EFCA congregants were destroyed by the fire, leaving just two families from Paradise EFC with homes to which to return. Eighty families displaced and facing the prospect of a nearly impossible rebuild. Still, by the grace of God, all the congregants’ lives were spared. From the ashes, God has provided hope.

As you read this, Crisis Response and the EFCA Western District are collaborating to mobilize response efforts in Paradise. Our ReachGlobal Crisis Response team is currently on the ground, responding to this horrific loss of life and property in Northern California. Along with the physical restoration, the team is focusing specifically on trauma care – providing support, counseling and love to those who experienced this disaster firsthand.

Support the Response

We’re responding, but we need your help. Amid this devastating crisis, there also lies significant opportunity. The people of Paradise, California, need the hope, love and overwhelming peace of Jesus Christ.

Will you join us, then, in coming alongside the people of Paradise, California? In response to this disaster, we need prayer, financial support and for the word to be spread:

Pray. Pray God’s peace, comfort, hope and restoration over Pastor Art Worthington, Paradise EFC and all those affected by the fire in the Paradise community. Pray also for God’s wisdom, guidance and strength for those currently on the ground responding.

Give. After Hurricane Harvey – by God’s grace – you contributed more than $1.6 million for relief efforts. The devastation of the Paradise wildfire has been even more catastrophic on our EFCA family. We need your financial support to bring restoration to Paradise.

Share. To help us spread awareness of this need, we ask that you’d share this message with your church body and dedicate a special offering to help those affected by this wildfire. To help you do so, we’ve provided: the video below (available for download on Vimeo), a bulletin insert and several prayer requests.

More information will be available in the coming days. For updates on our response to the Paradise wildfire and to get involved, visit https://www.efca.org/california-wildfire-response.

Despite the brokenness of this world, we have a sovereign God who loves, cares and restores. Amid this tragedy, let us take hope in our unchanging Savior. May God be glorified in the midst of this disaster.

Donate now.

 11.8.2018

Building a Legacy That Lasts
By Pastor Taylor Mendoza

Hello Church Family,

A leadership guru, John Maxwell, once said that good leadership is influence, but great leadership is determined by the leader’s legacy. Legacy is what a leader leaves behind after he is gone. Legacy is the real proof test of whether or not that leader was great. Legacies that last require hard work on our part. Further, legacies that last require that we pour into someone who will outlive us.

Death is the great equalizer of all of humanity, and since no one will escape it, we ought to come to grips with the fact that we will eventually go home and be with the Lord. However, the question of our legacy will still stand years after we have gone. Our legacy will depend on whether or not we raised the next generation in the gospel. We do this by being parents. Not everyone is in the same stage of life, yet the church as a whole (elderly, parents, singles, and youth) is responsible for building a legacy that lasts. How do we do that? Here are some thoughts worth considering.

1. Pass the Baton.
The most essential thing for building a legacy that lasts is passing the baton from your own life to the next generation. Much like a relay race during a track and field event, each person must recognize that they have one section of the race. And so it must go throughout human history. This was the heart of the apostle Paul who, over 2,000 years ago, taught his disciples the gospel of Jesus Christ, and then likewise, encouraged his pupils to do the same to the next generation. Paul told Timothy: “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

Teaching the next generation the wonderful truths of the gospel shouldn’t be a secondary and helpful thing, but a primary one. Some may object by saying that being youth-orientated will lead the church to adopt seeker-sensitive models of ministry in order to attract more young people. But the church doesn’t need to do that. Paul did not tell Timothy to be youth-orientated, but to be gospel-orientated.

To be gospel-orientated in discipleship is to be youth-orientated biblically because we recognize that the kingdom of God is bigger than our preferences and lives. Theologian, Owen Strachan, once called on the church to risk being youth-orientated, so as to build strong families. This is a risk because you have to be willing to trade in your dreams of self-driven comfort, ease, quiet, mobility, and indulgence for the self-sacrificial but far more enjoyable goal of leading a generation to know and worship God and to glorify him. So my question to you is: Where are you passing the baton?

2. Live and demonstrate your joy in God at home and church.
Little people are always watching. Youth today are feeling the pressures of what can be called “achievement-orientated” families. This occurs in both biological families and the family of God. How does a family become achievement-orientated? If your first priority is saving up for college and retirement—good things to do!—then you’ll naturally make the family a place of achievement. The Christian family is not scared of “success,” of money, good grades, and a two-car garage. These can be blessings from God, yet there are far more important concerns.
The family is created by God, and the Christian family is devoted to God in the church and in the home. This is an issue of keeping the main thing the main thing. Every family should not be achievement-orientated, but worship-orientated. David once remarked in Psalm 16, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The presence of God and the joy that came in being in his presence was the ultimate priority of David’s life. In the Westminster Catechism, we read that the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

If you were given the opportunity to ask your children, or the next generation at Northpoint, to name the chief end of the family, or of the church, what would they say? Would it be: “The chief end of this family and this church is to glorify God and enjoy him forever?” No doubt it is a high calling, yet it is the most rewarding. Remember little people are always watching!

3. Get them to Church.
Lastly, the discipline of getting the next generation into the church is the secret for building a legacy that lasts. John said, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (1 John 5:2). Later he said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (5:21). Our love for the children of God (all believers) is displayed by our love for God and obedience to his commands. We avoid idolatry and protect our hearts from loving other things other than God. We certainly have a mandate to help the next generation understand and practice the same thing.

The late Eugene Peterson once wrote a book entitled, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” That title says it all: discipleship is long. If you have children, get them to church. The fellowship that they will have, even if they do not like it, will help them understand the love of God and will protect them from idolatry. Do not give them the choice; help them to make sure that as long as they live under your roof, they will be a part of the church.

If you give them the opportunity to decide for themselves, they might think that you really don’t think it is a priority. A great way to get the next generation involved in the church is sending them to winter camp for a concentrated time in the word without distraction (sign-ups begin this Sunday online!). Yet, one thing is for sure: we need to raise up the next generation in the gospel if we are to have a legacy that lasts for the sake of God’s glory.

In Him,

Taylor Mendoza
Pastor of Student Ministries

11.1.2018

Fulfilling a Sense of Community
By Rich Simpson

Hello Church Family,

This last summer I earned my Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University by completing research on the theory of transformational learning. My study involved interviews with small group participants at Northpoint Church. Knowing the robustness of Northpoint Church’s small group adult ministries that includes Sunday morning discipleship groups, growth groups, the men’s and women’s groups, the college-age group, and GriefShare, I sought to discover the transformational learning elements found in these experiences that foster personal transformation. The hope being that these elements could be incorporated into biblical teaching and group meetings to assist leaders and teachers in their planning, execution, and assessment of learning, creating a more transformative learning environment in small groups.

One of the principles emphasized throughout my study was the power and authority of Scripture. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teachings, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While man-made systems and structures could strengthen the biblical learning process, it was for the sole purpose that the power of Scripture be fully realized in the lives of small group members, offering a more holistic approach to leading and facilitating small group transformational learning.

Most of the participants indicated relational elements of their small group that contributed to their transformative learning experience. Although there was an underlying significance of how God would work in their lives through His Word and the Holy Spirit, much emphasis was on the love and care they received from other individuals in their small groups. Further, sharing life and growing deeper in relationships with group members had a significant impact on how participants dealt with their difficult situations. Eight elements or factors of the small group experience were identified as contributing to the change individuals experienced:

Acceptance and love. Many stated how others were patient, encouraging, and non-judgmental to them while going through their struggles.

Care and concern. Participants noted how important it was to them that they knew they had people in their small group who cared about them and were praying for them.

Open and honest. Individuals emphasized being able to wrestle with a difficult situation or struggle while others in the group helped them think through it by coming alongside them with sincerity and open ears.

Shared life experienceSharing life to these participants meant more than just sharing stories. It meant sharing in the burdens of life, coming alongside those that needed it, and going through the good and the bad together as a group.

Deep relationships. Connection and familiarity with small group members played a significant role. As groups met and discussed some deep, intimate issues, stronger, more meaningful relationships were built.

God’s Word. While for the majority of the participants, small group was relational, it was also a time for biblical study and reflection. It was clear from some that a focus on God’s word and how it relates to their lives was an impactful element of the small group experience.

Leadership expectations. Strong leadership, fairness, and consistency amongst the leaders of small groups was a contributing factor, as well.

Comfort. Comfort and confidentiality added up to a feeling that a small group is a safe place and a refuge for the members.

Leaders played a significant role in not only setting the tone and expectations for the group but also being an example members followed when it came to reaching out and caring for others in the group. While the study of God’s word was a central purpose for many of these small groups to gather, there was an underlying focus on sharing life together that really seemed to make a difference. Connecting relationally meant group members being open and honest to share what was going on in their lives and that being reciprocated by others in the group. Being able to share and relate to personal experiences was essential to participants. Five of the identified eight elements that fostered transformation in individuals could be categorized as relational in nature. Quality time spent as a group and sub-groups was critical, as well, giving members ample opportunity to get comfortable with one another. Nearly all participants indicated how important it was for them to make connections with others in the group that would allow for regular support and encouragement from people that were sensitive to their struggles and were not quick to judge.

Participants pointed out that along with love and acceptance came understanding from others and opportunities to give love because they had received love. In this sort of cooperative, life-sharing environment participants’ healing came by listening to others’ struggles and helping them through theirs, as well. This lead to deeper relationships being built as people let down their guards and became vulnerable to others in the group. Over time, within the group, as a member experienced a dilemma, a need to reorientate their lives, or in some way change, the group would be ready to assist that individual. Most often transformation described by participants happened over time, but their small group played a significant part in fostering it.

One of the primary purposes of the church is to disciple, and that learning is fostered through interaction with God, the Bible, and others to promote spiritual growth. Recognizing God’s design for community within the body of believers, my research concluded that the relational elements of small groups, such as love, care, prayer, and connection create a transformative learning environment where personal transformation is likely to take place through the transparency and development of close relationships with others in the group. Jesus himself modeled small group learning as he encouraged regular fellowship with groups of his followers that included time with the larger crowds, the twelve disciples, and his three closest followers. Further, the early church is given the explicit instructions in Romans 12:9-13 to do what this study’s findings reveal:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”

It is no surprise that Christians doing what God has commanded them to do has a transformative impact on people’s lives. Deep relationships, the ability for Christian believers to authentically connect and love one another as Jesus loves them, is just as important as small group curriculum and process.

Through small groups, God works in a dynamic rather than narrow way, and I encourage you if you are not already, to get involved in a small group at Northpoint—to get plugged in. We have some great groups here. Small groups are one way the church fulfills its obligation to nurture the spiritual maturity of believers by equipping individuals for the work of ministry so that everyone may be presented mature in Christ. These findings emphasized that by fulfilling the sense of community that God has created us for, small groups shape and change people’s lives.

In Him,

Rich Simpson

10.25.2018
Worship: Our Response to What God Has Done

Hello Church Family,

Easter is one of the biggest holidays in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church—it is a busy day full of rituals and ceremonies. On Easter, believers go to church and perform different kinds of spiritual activities—all under the guidance of the chief priest. At the service on Good Friday, faithful Orthodox men and women kneel down and rise up 100 times or more until they get too tired to continue. This is done in the name of worshipping God and pleasing him.

Another holiday that is eagerly looked forward to and celebrated each year is called Kulbe Gabriel. Kulbe Gabriel is a very famous church. It is a pilgrimage site known for annual spiritual ceremonies and processions held by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Pilgrims travel from miles around to Kulbe Gabriel to fulfill their vows and give gifts to the church in an attempt to please God. Many people walk to this church bare-footed—feeling that this will please God more. The church is located at the top of a hill. Some pilgrims, seeking extreme devotion, carry heavy rocks on their backs up the hill to the church. Oftentimes, by the time these same pilgrims are ready to return home, they are physically exhausted or too sick.

These examples showcase human effort to please God. But they are not successful.

Biblical Christianity is a work of God only. We have nothing to offer God; God has accomplished everything for us in his son. There is nothing we are expected to do to earn God’s favor. All we must do as sinners is acknowledge our desperate need and cast ourselves upon Christ for mercy. We come to God empty-handed, and by faith, we receive the blessing of eternal life. Our status with God does not depend on our righteousness; it depends on Christ’s. He made us alive with Christ and made us his own. He made us new creations in Christ. Therefore, we give no credit for ourselves—only a heart that is filled with worship for God. Having understood our salvation is a gift from God by faith in Jesus Christ, we are left with one response: worship. Our lives should be a continuous act of praise and love for God for his goodness to us in his son Jesus Christ. Worship is not a duty; it is a response and attitude. God does not want our strenuous efforts or our “rocks”—he wants our hearts. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 11:33-36,

 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

In Him,

Tamene Menna
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

10.18.2018
Made Alive
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
– Romans 12:1-2
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 
– 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. 
– Philippians 2:13

Hello Church Family,

Are Christians better than other people? Humility, reality, and the clear teaching of Scripture tell us no. We’re sinners like anyone else. Christians have no right God’s blessing. No virtue of our own sets us apart from the rest. We have no cause to brag. God doesn’t love us because we’re somehow special.

So, what makes a Christian different?

Christ.

By faith, we have Jesus Christ, who is someone like no other. Because of Christ, the Spirit of the Living God lives inside those who believe in Him. There is more to the Christian life than a distinct worldview and moral system. Christian worship is more than training our emotions to embrace biblical truth. Christian life and worship is transformational. Jesus is making us new.

Christian worship starts with presenting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice and letting Him make us into what He wants us to be. God’s Word does more than inform us. It changes us—miraculously.

The process begins with changed motivation. God’s Word renews our minds. Pangs of guilt that sting the conscience spur us to deeper dependence, more than they drive us to more fervent action. God works in those who worship Him, and cause us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:13). In other words, He gives us new wants and desires—the “seedlings” of new life in Christ.

As transformation unfolds, God changes our actions. Forgiveness in Christ brings cleansing to our unholy lives. John’s familiar words assure us that if we confess our sins (when we admit that our sin is sin) He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1st John 1:9). Forgiveness doesn’t make sin okay. It makes us different—pure and holy.

Christians don’t conform to the image of Christ. Christ transforms us and makes us like Him. And He does the work. We simply live it out.

Christ also frees us to live in His presence. It’s a dreadful thing to stand in the presence of the living, holy God, who is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Sinners fall before Him, begging the rocks to hide them, but because of Christ’s sacrifice for sin, we stand before almighty God unveiled, unprotected, unhidden. An encounter that used to bring instant death is the daily privilege of the believer. That’s prayer.

And Christ puts us on display before the world. As Christians live openly for the whole world to see, we display the holiness, beauty, and glory of Christ. God makes His appeal to the world through us. Who in the world is adequate to enter into God’s presence then represent Him to the world? In Christ, we are.

Prayer operates in this transformational reality. It recognizes that the Christian life is a miracle that takes place day after day in those who look to Christ in faith. Prayer expects God to answer in ways that shape us into His image to the praise of His glory.

The Work of God’s Spirit
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8
Seek God to renew the transformational reality of the Christian faith in us as a church. Pray for the entire body of Northpoint, and especially for those who are called to minister to us professionally.Pray for …
• An increased sensitivity to God’s truth as we read and study His Word
• A deeper awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit and attentiveness to His voice
• Openness to the Spirit’s conviction that sets us frees from sin
• Confidence in the power of God working in and through us
• Infectious joy in our life and service, no matter the circumstance
• More and more opportunities to proclaim Christ and meet the needs of those around usIn Him,Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

10.11.2018

Let it Go

And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

And David returned to bless his household. But Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” And David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD—and I will celebrate before the LORD. – 2nd Samuel 6:14, 20-21

Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. – Psalm 149:1-5

Hello Church Family,

Have you ever been embarrassed by someone else’s enthusiasm? Maybe their exuberance was a bit over the top—or maybe way over the top. Almost everything we do brings an element of self-consciousness because what people think of us matters. Sometimes, though, it matters a little too much. Some things are over the top good—worth risking a little embarrassment for unrestrained exuberance.

That’s the story behind the story of David and his wife, Michal. After years in exile, David was on the throne, so he let loose. With all his might, David danced and praised, celebrating the LORD who saw him through his trials.

But his wife wouldn’t have it. David’s enthusiasm for God wasn’t to her taste. Impressions mattered more to her than praise. What would people say? David’s dance of praise was sure to inspire a titter of gossip.

Take a minute to consider. Take your eyes off yourself and count your blessings. Notice God in your life—the life He gave you. Think of the ways He’s protected you. Remember the people He’s placed in your life. Marvel at His leading. Self-forgetfulness brings such freedom! And only when we learn to see God in everything do we come to praise Him for everything.

Pull back the curtain of life’s events and objects, and peer into the heart of the One who put them there intentionally for your sake. It’s hard to have too much enthusiasm for the love of our infinite God. Unrestrained praise flows to us from God’s unrestrained love, and then it flows back to Him again.

Take a lesson from the psalmist’s lavish hallelujah (Psalm 149:1-5). Unrestrained praise …

• Releases creativity. Sing to the LORD a new song.
• Defines who we are as God’s people. [Sing] His praise in the assembly of the Godly.
• Gives direction to our emotions. Let Israel be glad in his maker.
• Finds joy in God’s authority. Let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
• Employs all our resources and faculties. Praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
• Makes us a source of God’s delight. The LORD takes pleasure in his people.
• Trains us to delight in what He’s done for us. He adorns the humble with salvation.
• Trains us to embrace God’s glory. Let the godly exult in glory.
• Brings joy even in our rest. Let them sing for joy on their beds.

Unrestrained praise expands our God consciousness and shrinks our self-consciousness to the praise of His glory.

Reasons to Praise

The habit of praise teaches us to see the truth in David’s words, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm23:6a). Praise pierces through the haze of daily life and reveals God’s hand at work.

• God’s goodness is fundamental to His nature. His mercy flows from His goodness in response to a fallen world.
• God’s goodness does not preclude His judgment on unbelievers nor hardships in the lives of believers.
• God’s goodness is often seen through His mercies, which sometimes come to believers in very ordinary ways and oftentimes is appreciated only in hindsight. (from Tony Chute’s sermon on September 23)

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

* * * * *

8.20.2018

The Key to a Treasure
 
Hello Church Family,
 
“God will be a sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation, and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.” – Isaiah 33:6
 
When Isaiah wrote these words, the people of God were in dire straits. The enemy was literally at the gates. There was a superpower trying to take over their country, and they were acting like they didn’t belong to the ultimate Superpower.
 
We too need a sure foundation for our times, now more than ever. In our world, in our nation, in our church, and in our personal lives we need something steady, strong, and unshakable. God promises to be that for us.
 
God himself is a sure foundation of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. And he doesn’t just give us enough to muddle through with, but he offers a rich store—an abundant supply! Thankfully, he gives us the key to this storehouse of treasure: it is the fear of the LORD.
 
What is it to fear the LORD? Charles Spurgeon defines it as a “fear of offending, disappointing, or misrepresenting, a fear born in reverence, in a spirit of adoration. It is like the fear a son or daughter would have of disappointing or bringing dishonor to a beloved parent, a parent they love, admire and want to be like.”
 
So we fear God when we see him for who he truly is, as revealed in his Word, and we relate to him according to that truth.
 
How do you act toward someone who is the creator and ruler of the universe,
who knows everything and is infinitely wise,
who is all-powerful and able to accomplish everything he plans,
who is utterly good and always does what is best and right,
who is incapable of breaking his promises,
who is full of grace, mercy, and forgiveness toward you,
and who loves you perfectly?
The people Isaiah delivered God’s message to were beneficiaries of a history filled with God’s deliverance. God had chosen to reveal himself to them; they knew who he was, they had experienced his goodness, but they didn’t treat him accordingly. They didn’t trust God like he deserved to be trusted. They didn’t worship God like he deserved to be worshipped. They didn’t obey him like he deserved to be obeyed. They didn’t fear God.
 
God’s people unwisely put their trust in other kings when in reality they were subjects of the King of all creation. Because they didn’t fear God, they weren’t seeing things clearly, they weren’t living in reality. The reality was God could save them if they trusted him, but instead of resting on God, their sure foundation, they were running scared, with no deliverance in sight.
 
Psalm 11:10 and Proverbs 9:10 say,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…”
Proverbs 1:7 says,
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.”
 
Knowledge is not just an accumulating of facts, but here it means understanding and discernment. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and understanding because when we fear God—when we see him for who he truly is and live in light of that—that is when we are seeing things clearly, as they really are. That is living in true reality. Only then do we have the wisdom and understanding to properly relate to the world around us, to ourselves, and to God.
 
God’s people offended him and misrepresented him to the enemies at the gate when they acted as if God could not defend them, as if God was not trustworthy or powerful. They didn’t fear God and therefore did not relate to their enemy with the benefit of assured deliverance, wisdom, and discernment. However, at the last minute, they repented of their misplaced trust, and God mercifully and graciously delivered them.
 
When we fear God—when we act in alignment with who God is, trusting him because he is trustworthy, sovereign, wise and good—we will experience the truth that God is a sure foundation for our times. God will provide the wisdom, discernment, and deliverance that he knows we need
for our times of political and social turmoil,
for our times of change and challenges in our church,
and for our times of trial and testing in our personal lives.
 
This precious promise is ours because as believers we are united with Jesus, our beautiful Savior in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and salvation. (Col.2:3, 1 Thes. 5:9)
 
In Him,
 
Holli Worthington
 
8.13.2018

The Psalms Album

Hello Church Family,

We are making an album!

On Sunday, September 2, Chelsea and I partnered with several great musicians and an amazing engineer to begin recording the foundational tracks for the Psalms album. The recording session went great! I am so blessed to be surrounded by a community of God-gifted musicians and friends; these brothers and sisters are such a joy to labor and create alongside.

These songs are really special to me. They are really special to Chelsea and me, and to the family of Northpoint. These seven songs embody a season of the church that I anticipate we will hold dear in our hearts. Though our past several months as a church haven’t been easy, there is a certain sweetness that we have experienced in pressing in closer to the body of Christ.

Through the Psalms, we explored places in the human heart where many of us are uncomfortable. Psalm 73 gives voice to a brother who doesn’t understand why the immoral receive earthly riches, while the godly is oppressed. Psalm 77 helps to cry out to God in our anguish. Psalm 54 guides us in rejoicing through God’s victory, and Psalm 90 sings with anticipation, redeem us oh Lord! Return to us!

John Calvin explains that a healthy knowledge of God requires a healthy knowledge of ourselves. In that same spirit, both the church father Athanasius and the contemporary theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer observe: the Psalms are a window into the human experience; a guide to teach the Christian how to turn to Christ in the midst of our experiences and our human emotions.

We were so blessed by our time together in the Psalms this summer, and our hope is that this album will act as a type of monument, a stone of remembrance—so to speak, as we reflect on where God has led us as a church and remember how he has been faithful to us in revealing his love, grace, and comfort through his Word. As we press on as a church and anticipate what God has in store, my hope is that this album would remind us of his faithfulness in the past and encourage us to look ahead as a church, eager to see what the Spirit has in store.

I want to express my deepest thanks to all of you who have been so affirming and encouraging to Chelsea and me in regard to these songs. It is a new kind of courage for us to create something as vulnerable as these and put them on display for the entire church. Thank you so much for your support, your kind words, and your love.

As we come into the final stages of recording this album, we could use some help from our church family. There are some costs that come alongside these final steps. Up until this point, Chelsea and I have been covering these out of our own pockets and we’d be so grateful to lean on all of you to get the project finished. If you so feel led, continue to this link to find out how you can partner with us producing in this album!

There are some cool incentives for pledging to support the album: CDs, bumper stickers, even the opportunity for Chelsea and me to come play a house concert for your growth groups and friends—or Chelsea and I will write a Psalm of your choice! Check it out here.

It is our joy to share this project with you. And with your help, we hope to have the album available by the end of October.

Thanks for singing with us!

In Christ,

Geoff Grant

8.30.2018
Let’s Sing Together
Hello Church Family,
 
Chelsea and I watch old TV shows from time to time. One of our favorites is The Andy Griffith Show. There is an episode, and specifically a scene, that comes to my mind often. The plot revolves somehow around Barney and Andy having a double date, and the four characters gather at Andy’s house.
 
The scene: Andy, playing his guitar and the four of them singing loudly through a selection of their favorite tunes. An evening of entertainment spent singing and smiling with one another; what a blast! Right?
 
Something really perplexes me about our day and age. At this time in history, we find ourselves more surrounded by music than ever. Music in the doctor’s office, music at the grocery store, music in the car ride, and music on the Bluetooth speaker at home. We are surrounded, sometimes bombarded with music. Never in history has music been so accessible. CDs are cheap, the radio is practically free, and constant, online streaming gives us whatever music we want whenever we want it. “All I want is you and … MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC!” (You’ll amaze me if you know that song.)
 
What perplexes me is this: Though we are more surrounded by music than ever, we seem to be singing together less than ever.
 
Sunday morning worship is my primary sample here. Gone are the days when we boisterously sing with all our might (click here to see what I mean) and present are the days when congregational singing is not really well understood. I think there are a few factors to this:
 
1. Individualism
Our American culture is in so many ways driven by and geared toward the individual. The communal nature of singing together can seem foreign and odd. I am more likely to belt out Empty Chair and Empty Tables in the shower than to boldly shout “How Great Thou Art!”
 
2. Consumerism
Most the time when we engage music these days, it is in receiving it, not participating in it. We consume songs, listen to musicals, hear scores in films, soak in the symphony. To contribute to the experience is not usually our first move as consumers.
 
3. Commercialism
Frankly, “Christian music” these days is not geared toward congregational singing. Not without exception, the commercial nature of the Christian music industry is often more concerned with the individual consuming music than the corporate body singing it together. Have you ever been singing in church and you thought, The range of this song is just too high for me! or, I feel like every week I go to church we sing five songs I’ve never heard before! Well, sometimes what sounds best on an album is not what works best for corporate singing.
 
After Jesus and the disciples partook of the last supper, they sang a hymn together (Mark 14:26). Paul instructs the church to sing together in thanksgiving (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16) and so too did Israel sing, well … a lot.
 
So how can we seek obedience in this? What would it be to sing loudly and passionately?
 
Well, to be honest, I am so encouraged by Northpoint. I think we are a rare community, in that we love to sing, we love to worship, and we love to hear each other sing. We have a great building for singing and an amazing team of servant-hearted brothers and sisters who work hard every week to provide a space and atmosphere conducive to congregational singing.
 
We already do a handful of things to make congregational singing a truly corporate activity:
• We sing singable songs
• We sing songs we know
• We introduce new songs mindfully
• We sing in comfortable keys
• We aim to keep the volume at a broadly comfortable level
• We choose songs very carefully
 
I am so thankful to be a part of a church that values singing.
 
Here are some notes of encouragement on how we can even still grow in our singing:
 
• Do not be embarrassed about the quality of your voice – Somewhere along the road, we became over-exposed to professional singers, and that quality became the standard. Hearing a trained voice is a nice experience, hearing a body of bold and passionate Christians is a moving experience. Sing boldly!
 
• Look at each other when we sing – This is a tough one. If you try it, you’ll know what I mean. Due to the individualistic nature of music and especially “worship music,” we often prefer to be in our own little world during singing. When we make eye contact with each other, it sometimes feels weird! Don’t let it! “Address one another with songs! Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord giving thanks always!” We are brothers and sisters bought by Christ; let’s share our love for God with each other, and join our voices as one.
 
• Don’t let the stage fool you – Movies, magic shows, sports games, standup comedy, and lectures. We are so used to the rhythm of the performing being on stage and the passive receiver being in the “audience.” When we gather on Sunday’s we are all active contributors. We sing to God and to each other, we hear from God’s Word, and surrender our being to Him, we all partake equally in the cup and bread, and we fellowship with each other as family. Don’t let the stage fool you into thinking this is a concert or a lecture; our Sunday gatherings are banquets, and Christ himself is the feast before us.
 
Heritage Hymns in Heritage Hall
 
In that spirit, we are going to be holding a Hymn Sing on September 30, in Heritage Hall at 6:00 p.m. The hope of this evening is to join our voices together singing hymns of the faith and enjoying this rich heritage of corporate songs. Hope to see you there!
 
In Christ,
Geoff Grant
Worship Arts Director
8.23.2018
The God Who Waits
 
Hello Church Family,
 
Our God is an awesome God. He answers prayers with incomprehensible wisdom and power. Real and regular people like you and I have received direct and powerful answers to prayer on the spot. Elijah called down fire from heaven. Hezekiah received the destruction of 185,000 enemy soldiers overnight. David brought down Goliath. One hundred and twenty disciples of Jesus received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the church was born. Our God hears and answers our prayers.
 
Our God is also eternal. He answers prayer in His time, not ours. Waiting for God to give His answer to our prayers is a kind of faith “workout.” Peter tells us that strong and pure faith is more precious than gold that is refined in a fire (1 Peter 1:7), and waiting through trials and difficulties is God’s purposeful, faith-building process. But God’s purpose gives us hope and helps us make sense of our experience.
 
Here are some reasons why God waits to give an answer to our prayers:
 
• To include us in His larger plan: When Elijah felt alone when Jezebel refused to give up after his stupendous victory over the prophets of Baal, God told him that 7,000 people remained faithful to Him, and He had Elijah anoint Elisha to continue his work.
• To teach us determined, trusting obedience: God has built His church on people willing to trust Him and follow His ways. The Mayflower Pilgrims, for example, put everything—including their lives—on the line to follow God’s Word, and they lost nearly all they had. But Thanksgiving Day was born out of gratitude for His miraculous provision.
• To show us His faithfulness in everything: There’s nothing our God cannot do, and nothing this evil world does can frustrate His plans or harm His people. Even death holds no fear for us.
• To teach us how to surrender to Him and know that He alone is God: All the evil in this world comes from Adam’s refusal to trust and obey God’s clear command. Christ’s submission to His Father’s will makes hope and redemption available to all who believe in Him.
• To cause us to cling closely to Him: The nearness of God is our good, yet we still tend to stray from Him. Waiting on God draws us back to His side.
• To prepare us to receive His call: It is when we are most convinced that we’re ready for God’s blessing that we are least prepared for His call. Moses tried to deliver God’s people 40 years before he was the kind of man God could use.
• So He can save more people: God’s timeframe is longer than ours, and His horizons are far broader. When we’re ready for Christ to return, He’s still seeking other souls to save. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). 
 
While You Wait …
 
• Remember to rely on the truth of God’s Word.
• Read, reflect on, and trust all it says.
• Connect what God says to what you experience.
• Watch what God does and notice His faithfulness along the way.
• Receive whatever happens as His will.
• Expect God to do good for His own.
 
Essentially, there are four ways that God answers our prayers. Sometimes, He simply says, “Yes,” right away, like Elijah. He also makes us wait to receive what we ask. Or, He may tell us, “Not this, … but this,” and God gives the best gifts when we leave the choice to Him. But there are times when God’s faithful people receive a clear, “No,” when we pray. But He always answers for the good of His children and for the praise of His Glory.
 
In Him,
 
Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
 
– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.
 
The rest of NP News for 8.23.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

8.16.2018

The God Who Hears

“I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.” – Psalm 116:1-2

Hello Church Family,

The Bible is full of instances of answered prayer. God brings about His plan of redemption through His people, so He pays attention when we pray. Since God’s people play a key role in His plans, our prayers have a special place in His heart. At times, though, God brings us into desperate situations to show us how desperately we need Him. When we ask Him, “Teach us to pray,” He takes it seriously (Luke 11:1b). For example, God called David from being a shepherd to become king of Israel, but also to be the ancestor of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). And so God guarded His chosen one through all circumstances of life—even when he was suffering the consequences of his sin.

When David received the grave news that Ahithophel supported Absalom, his first response was prayer. “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness (2 Samuel 15:31).” And immediately, God provided the answer. A friend came up to David, who was just the right person to undermine the plans of Absalom and Ahithophel.

His name was Hushai the Arkite. Promising complete loyalty to David, Hushai agreed to go back to Jerusalem and pretend to support Absalom. After Hushai won Absalom’s confidence, the usurper included Hushai in his plans and asked his advice. “Ahithophel says we should attack David now, before he can set up a defense. What do you say?”

“I don’t know,” Hushai cautioned. “David is pretty cagey. You’d better take time to gather your forces and get ready.” When Absalom took Hushai’s advice and his, Ahithophel knew the delay would bring certain defeat. As Absalom took time to prepare, his renown but devious counselor withdrew to take his own life. The deception worked. David won in the battle against his own son, and his throne was preserved. At great cost, David’s prayer was answered.

Prayer is so much more than sanctified wishful thinking. Whoever trusts Christ for salvation is a child of God. Christians are more than just another religious group. “[We] are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).”

So much of what happens in our lives is God’s way of testing our faith and showing us what He is able to do for His people. God has a way of teaching us to pray in faith, believing that He will answer.

And He will answer. For the praise of His Glory.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

The rest of NP News for 8.16.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page athttps://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

8.9.2018

I Do Not Cease Giving Thanks for You

Hello Church Family,

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. … – Ephesians 1:15-16   

I want to stop for a moment and give thanks for the many blessings that God has brought to Northpoint and to Corona through the many believers who are part of this wonderful body.

When I listened to Dr. Chute talk a few Sundays past about the signs of health that he sees in our church, I stopped for a moment and considered what I saw around me over the last month or two. I watched a group of wonderful ladies and men come together in just a few days to help put together a memorial service and reception for one of our founding members. The children, who had dispersed over the years, spoke of the kindness and sacrifice they experienced from the many Northpointers who came to serve. I’ve sat among 20-30 members, who meet on campus every Monday evening, as they prayed for God’s work and God’s people. I saw many at the congregational meeting who communicated passionately about Northpoint, calling us to excellence and trusting that God had given us the people, gifts, and resources to fulfill the mission together. I heard the many stories of those who have been overseas this summer, speaking of the powerful work of the Spirit in the church abroad.

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. – Colossians 1:28-29

I then had the blessing of attending one our Restore + Rediscover + Rebuild listening sessions with the members of Northpoint who spoke about their thankfulness for Northpoint’s commitment to the truth of the Word, and to God-glorifying musical worship. They spoke about community and long-term relationships that had produced great fruit in their lives. They spoke about small groups, Sunday school, youth ministry, children’s ministries, missions, and men’s and women’s ministries. I was even more encouraged by the feedback we heard regarding opportunities for improvement. One of the genuine signs of a healthy church is the desire to identify mistakes, needs, and weaknesses, and to then find solutions together. As A.W. Tozer explained in a book of compiled sermons titled Rut, Rot or Revival, if you live with the status quo, your church is headed in the wrong direction. Revival is an important and necessary part of a healthy church’s, and the healthy believer’s, walk in the Spirit.

Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. – Romans 12:1

It is in this spirit of thankfulness, and from a desire to see our body deepen its heart for God’s work, that I urge us to commit our time, prayers, and resources, to taking advantage of this transition. Pray. Pray courageously and often. Pray about where your heart is at and about where God wants to take you. He is perfecting each one of us and calls us to do His kingdom’s work.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

I am praying for all of you that you would know the Lord in His majesty, that your lives would be filled with the Spirit, and that you would be compelled by God’s love for the work of service to the church and to the world. It is in Christ’s name that we pray.

In Him,

Steve Flood
Northpoint Elder

8.2.2018

Christ, the Loving Husband

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:25-33

Hello Church Family,

The glory of God shines in the Bride of Christ. Jesus is at work in His church to reveal Himself to the world, and He shows His love to the world primarily in the way He loves His Bride the church.

Christ is a husband to His people. How does Jesus show His love? His Word expresses it clearly, but He also demonstrates His love in the way He treats His church—the way He created us and the way cares for us and perfects us for eternity with Him.

Christ’s Love for His Church …
Is Sacrificial: Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
• Christ would not be denied His Beloved. In obedience to His Father, He gave Himself up to the curse and condemnation of the cross to purchase His Bride with His blood.
Is Purposeful: that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
• Christ gave Himself for the church so He could sanctify Her (make her His alone, holy and pure), by forgiving our sins, as we confess what His Spirit reveals to us through His Word (1 John 1:9).
Is Pleasing to Him: so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
• Christ seeks our infinite perfection and beauty. He died for our sins to make us His own perfect bride. He has a vision of who He intends us to be, and He’s working to perfect it in us. We are a blessing to Christ, and He blesses us so we can be a blessing to Him.

Binds Us to Him: In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.• By making us His Bride, Christ has made us one with Him. He is our head, and we are His body. The church is united to Christ as part of His body because He made us one with Him on the cross and in the resurrection.

Brings Him a Blessing: He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
• Christ is working in us, individually and as a body, lovingly perfecting His character in us. His work beautifies His Bride, who rejoices in her beauty and gives herself to Him out of love.

Shines in Our Closest Relationships: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
• God foreshadowed His plan to unite us with Christ in the essential institutions of humanity.

Is Our Call: However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
• Christ reveals His love in our marriages, where He calls us to imitate His love.
• Pray for our love to reveal and exalt Christ in our homes and in our church.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

7.19.2018

Hear the Word of the Lord
 
“Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!”‘ … So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. … So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” – Ezekiel 37:4, 7-8, 10
 
God’s resurrection power has been active since long before Christ rose from the grave. Ezekiel’s odd but famous story is one of countless examples. Sin brings death but the Spirit of God brings life. 
 
No one portrays God’s restoration of His people quite like Ezekiel. All through history, even to our day, the people of God have cycled into sin and judgment, but God has brought them back to life. From the beginning, humans have chosen death, but God has given life. What He did with fallen Israel after it pined away in exile He has done again and again. And He’s doing it in our day.
 
Human potential is the “false god” worshiped in our day. Confidence in the flesh is bringing death all around us, as our culture puts Christ on trial once again and finds Him wanting. But trust in Christ gives life when His people humble themselves before Him and acknowledge that He is LORD. Together, let’s call on God in the name of His Son to deliver His Church from darkness and restore us to life and health and power to live for His glory.
 
But God accomplishes mass transformation on an individual basis, and he’s filling heaven one soul at a time. Pray also that God will lead you to those around you who need new life. Pray for specific people you know to hear the Word of the LORD through you, so His Spirit can enter them and give them new life.
 
Believe that He can and that He will—through You. To the praise of His glory.
 
“Hear the Word of the LORD” (37:4). God’s Word has power to raise the dead.
• Ask God to reveal Himself at Northpoint through the proclamation of His Word.
• Pray for faith that God will use us to save souls and bring them new life.
 
“I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live” (37:5). God’s Spirit gives life.
• Pray for the Holy Spirit to give life to and through our ministry as a local body.
• Confess our sin of self-sufficiency, and ask for new and dependent life to grow in its place.
 
“And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live” (37:6a), God restores complete health and function to His people (Ephesians 4:15-16).
• Ask God to rebuild Northpoint according to His plan, to reveal His will for our body, and give us eyes to see and hearts to follow His will for us as His people.
 
“and you shall know that I am the LORD” (37:6b). God reveals Himself through His Word and in His work within His people.
• Pray that God will reveal Himself to the world through Northpoint so that all will know that Jesus Christ is LORD.
• Ask Him to put specific people on your heart for you to reach out to.
 
Pray in faith, believing that Jesus Christ is LORD and that He Himself is at work in Northpoint, to exalt His name, by saving the lost and sanctifying believers through the power of His mighty Word.
 
In Him,
 
Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry
 
– Each week, Dave updates a monthly Bible reading plan and writes a Bible and prayer focus, “Prayer Life.” The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.
 
The rest of NP News for 7.19.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

7.12.2018

When the Whole Church Shows Up!

We’ve been having a blast this week at Northpoint’s Vacation Bible School. We had 290 kids from our community officially register (the most in the last 5 years), and as I can attest, they’ve all shown up. What a blessing. Praise the Lord!

This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit, and the kids have been challenged to learn how the Holy Spirit grows the characteristics found in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit, in their lives.

A point of encouragement for me has been watching over 100 volunteers from our church help pull off this major event. So many volunteered, that every role was filled. All of them. I wish I could name and thank each and every one of our volunteers for their dedication and hard work toward making this week so meaningful for these kids, but there are too many! I can, however, name a few main leaders: I want to give a special thank you to Terilyn Brown and Jenn Lemen for leading this year’s VBS. I also want to mention Andria Brucks, Leslie Schuller, Isabelle Cordil, Matt and Amy Beyersdorf, Heidi Holt, and Tri Nguyen for going the extra mile in leading this week.

What has struck me so far is what God can do when the whole church shows up to serve Christ and his church. VBS is one of those events in the life of Northpoint that require so many of you to make it a great success. And our body has shown up. As I have walked the campus these first few nights, I have been so encouraged to see folks from every age and stage in life volunteering in some way. Whether it has been helping with crafts, games, teaching, leading a small group, preparing food, leading worship, or performing the nightly drama, all these volunteers have demonstrated what the heart of Northpoint is all about: serving God to bring the world the saving message of Jesus Christ.

Watching all of our volunteers this week has continually reminded me of this passage from Romans 12: 4-6: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

What a wonderful truth it is that when God calls us to be part of the family of God, he also gives us gifts needed to further his kingdom. Not only does he gift us, but he gifts all of his children differently so that the church can faithfully and effectively fulfill its mission—and praise God for that! Can you imagine the disaster VBS would be if all of our 100+ volunteers all had the same gift? If all our volunteers were teachers, we would we have a 2 and a half hour lecture each night with no games, worship, food, etc. I doubt seriously that anyone would have shown up for day two.

Not only does God give us different gifts, but he also promises that in our diversity of gifts, he will bring unity. Unity that is what we find when God’s people serve out of their various areas of giftedness. It’s a unity in our diversity. As that verse in Romans says: “so we, though many, are one body in Christ.” This is what I have seen during the first 3 nights of VBS 2018. And with 2 evenings remaining, I’m sure I’ll see God bringing our body an even deeper sense of unity as so many serve out of their diverse giftedness.

So thank you Northpoint, for being the church this week and serving so faithfully!

In Him,

Pastor Scott Williams

The rest of NP News for 7.12.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page athttps://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

7.5.2018

“Rejoicing in Our Great God”

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

We were made for worship. John Newton penned “Amazing Grace” after God transformed him from a slave trader and self-described “wretch” into an abolitionist and preacher of the gospel. Christ has freed us all from slavery to sin. Forever in heaven, we’ll delight in giving Him praise and thanks. Worship is our destiny.

Psalm 92 is a great place to start rehearsing for heaven. And now is the best time.

Ways and Reasons to Worship: The abandonment of joy in the Lord —

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!

• Give God the glory for your freedom from sin. Relinquish any claim to personal credit.
• Think of the many ways God gives us to enjoy worshiping Him. Tell Him, thank you.
• Reflect on how God has shown His steadfast love and the many ways He has blessed your life. Give Him praise for each one.

Expectations in Worship: God brings down the wicked and exalts the righteous —

How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O LORD,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

• The only way to know God is through divine revelation and illumination. Praise God for revealing Himself in Scripture and making Himself known in your life through His Spirit.
• Put the wicked into God’s hands and trust Him to deal with them faithfully. Rejoice in the specific things He has done to bring down wicked people and reveal Himself through His people.
• Think of ways God has protected and defended you, and give Him praise for the ways He reigns in your life and circumstances.

Hope for Worship: Rejoicing in the Lord for time and eternity —

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

• Place specific areas of your life in God’s hands, and expect His help and blessing.
• Look to God to make us, His people, flourish in ways that bring Him glory.
• Pray that you will continue to bear fruit for Jesus and proclaim His perfect goodness and righteousness.

A Life of Praise
We live every moment in the presence of a loving God. He is inescapable. Sometimes this thought crowds us with concern. Instinctively, we know our sin, so the scrutiny of the Almighty disturbs us. By nature we prefer our sin, so we find His pristine holiness confining. Little do we know the freedom God intends for His people. Little do we understand the complete abandonment Christ’s blood has bought us. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

A life of praise is a life that is free—and knows it’s free—from sin. God’s law guides us without constraining us. His Spirit makes holiness both possible and desirable. It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). He makes Godliness what we want to do so that all holiness is all freedom.

Prayer for Northpoint
Ask God to set Northpoint free, so His Spirit defines who we are, leads where we go, and empowers all we do.

1. Our Pastors and Directors: Brent Whitefield, Scott Williams, Terilyn Brown, Geoff Grant, Taylor Mendoza, Tamene Menna, and Marti Wiegman.
• Pray for the anointing of God’s Spirit on their lives and ministries. Ask God to use them to equip us for Godliness.

2. Our Lay Elders: Tim East, Steve Flood, Mark Kiker, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zechariah.
• Pray for the anointing of God’s Spirit on their lives and ministries. Ask God to use them to lead us where He would have us go.

3. Our Church Staff: Michelle Balga, Bob Brown, Andria Brucks, Jacob Williams, Carolee Jefferson, Amber McEwen, Mark Norland, Corie Saunders, and Teri Vaughn.
• Pray for the joy of the Lord to be their strength.

4. John Sloan, Brent Whitefield, and their families: Seek God’s Grace and guidance and blessing as they serve Him in the churches where He is calling them.
• Pray for God’s presence with them wherever they go, in whatever He calls them to do.

5. Our Church Body: Pray for the anointing of God’s Spirit in your life and throughout our church.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave writes a monthly Bible reading plan and weekly Bible and prayer focus, “Prayer Life.” The preceding is a recent installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

6.28.2018

Taylor Mendoza Vetting Committee Update

Hello Church Family,

As part of the “Restore, Rediscover, and Rebuild” process that we’re going through, I want to give you an update on the process. As we have discussed, the Northpoint Elders are recommending Taylor Mendoza be promoted from Director of Student Ministries to Pastor of Student Ministries. Our church’s constitution requires the elders submit a vetting committee, made up of selected elders and Northpoint members, for affirmation by the Northpoint membership. To that end, the elders recently announced the following for the Taylor Mendoza Vetting Committee: elders Tim East, Steve Flood, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zachariah, and Northpoint members Karen Sherwood, Rich Simpson, and Keith Tront. Each of the congregational members was selected because they represent the general make up of our church. Karen has been on the Northpoint staff in the women’s ministry and is a parent of kids in our student ministries. Rich works at Cal Baptist University as the registrar, and for many years, was a youth pastor in Riverside. Keith is a longtime Northpoint member who is well versed in the Word, and who disciples several men here. This past Sunday, the Northpoint congregation voted overwhelmingly to affirm the vetting committee.

The intent of this committee is NOT to rubber-stamp the elders’ recommendation for Taylor’s promotion but to evaluate thoroughly his character and qualifications in light of scriptural requirements (Titus 1.5-9, 1 Timothy 3.1-7, and others).

For it says in 1 Timothy 3:2-7:

“Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

While the pastor of student ministries will not be an elder, he will be included on the Leadership Team, which is comprised of both pastors and elders. Previous student ministries pastors were on the Leadership Team, and Taylor’s presence and input there is very much needed. In fact, in many ways, Taylor is already fulfilling almost all the responsibilities of previous student ministry pastors: he leads our high school and Revolve ministries, oversees the junior high ministry associate, Jacob Williams, leads mission teams to other countries, counsels struggling teenagers, preaches occasionally in the main services, and leads communion and baptism.

Calling a man to the role of a pastor is a serious task that requires time. The answer of the vetting committee will be either yes—affirm Taylor as a pastor—or, wait—not yet. The elders’ goal a couple months ago was to be able to vet Taylor in order to present him to the congregation for affirmation as a pastor at the July congregational meeting. Due to the compressed schedule and everyone’s limited availability over the next month, we have decided the best course of action would be to hold a special meeting in the fall to allow the committee the appropriate amount of time to appraise thoroughly Taylor’s character and relationships.

We are excited to see the next chapter that God has for our body at Northpoint, and we are thankful for you as we serve alongside you. Thank you for your prayers and support. We have been extremely encouraged by you. Please continue to pray and trust that the Lord’s will be done here at Northpoint.

In Him,

Vinoj Zachariah, Elder
– On Behalf of the Elders

6.21.2018

Love: Our Relationship with Each Other

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. – John 15:12-17

What does love look like? Look at Christ and you’ll see it. Love looks to the good of others and lays down its life to accomplish that good. Love is the mark of the church—the bond that holds us together with each other and with Christ.

Pray for love of this quality to grow in our body at Northpoint, and ask God to produce it in you. Christ-like love is a high command. Look to Christ and He will enable you to live the love He has for us.

The High Command: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
• The love Christ calls us to is sacrificial, and He alone can produce it in us. Trust Him to do it.

Our Closest Friend: You are my friends if you do what I command you.
• Jesus commandment is to love one another as He loved us—by laying down His life for us. Ask God to lead us by faith to walk in love and trust Him with the consequences.

A New Relationship: No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
• In Christ, God is our Friend, and Jesus tells us what is on His heart for us to know. Ask God to reveal Himself to you more and more fully.

Our Call from Christ: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.
• Christ chose and appointed us to go and bear lasting fruit. Expect God to produce His fruit in you—especially Christ-like love.

Our Promise from Christ: so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
• We can expect God to answer our prayers so He can accomplish His call through us. Pray for
increased faith.

Our High Command: These things I command you so that you will love one another.
• Love one another is a command worth repeating and a call only Christ can accomplish in us and through us. Praise God for His patient work to perfect Christ’s character in you.

Love One Another: Things to Remember
• Christ asks nothing of us that He has not already done Himself. He is able to shape us into His image.
• Jesus Christ is your Friend. He is alive in heaven today and right by your side right now and always.
• In response to our prayers, Jesus discloses Himself to us, so we can know Him and His will.
• We are His chosen ones—Christ’s Beloved.
• Christ Himself has promised to answer our prayers. Pray expectantly.
• Rejoice in Christ’s love for us and in us.

Prayer for Northpoint

Ask God to create Christ-like love within you and within our church body at Northpoint. Pray for …

1. Our Pastors and Directors: Brent Whitefield, Scott Williams, Terilyn Brown, Geoff Grant, Taylor Mendoza, Tamene Menna, and Marty Wiegman.
• Ask God to equip them to lead us in loving each other.
2. Our Lay Elders: Tim East, Steve Flood, Mark Kiker, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zechariah.
• Pray for God’s strength and protection on them, so that by imitating them, we imitate Christ.
3. Our Church Staff: Michelle Balga, Bob Brown, Andria Brucks, Jacob Williams, Carolee Jefferson, Josh Figueroa, Amber McEwen, Mark Norland, Corie Saunders, and Teri Vaughn
• Pray for the love of Christ to flow through each one of them as they serve Christ in our church.
4. John Sloan, Brent Whitefield and their families: Seek God’s Grace and guidance and blessing as they serve Him in the churches where He is calling them.
• Ask God to perfect His love in them as they pursue His will for their lives. Pray for personal openness to God’s work in their hearts and lives.
5. Our Church Body: Pray that God will make you open, accepting, and trusting, as He exposes areas in your life where He wants to make you grow.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave writes a monthly Bible reading plan and weekly Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is the latest Prayer Life installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive.

6.14.2018

Rebuilding at Northpoint

Our Town Hall Meeting and All-church Dinner ended with a sweet time of fellowship this past Sunday evening, and our time together may have been a turning point for our fellowship here at Northpoint. We have been through a lot of changes in the past few months, and we have some challenges to face as we move forward, but by God’s grace and sustaining hand, we are moving forward to “Restore, Rediscover, and Rebuild” our body here at Northpoint Church.We have so much to be thankful for: a strong church family, many effective ministries, and a great staff serving the church, and God will build on this foundation.

Speaking for the leadership team at the meeting, we realized that over the past year we often fell short of who we needed to be—knowing that there is no effort that isn’t accompanied by errors and shortcomings—but in our failures are lessons God desires us to learn. And after praying for guidance, here’s what we think He’s teaching us:

1. Clarity – Going forward, we plan to make our direction and expectations clear from the start. Of course, there will be corrections and adjustments along the way, but it’s always best to have clarity and unity.

2. Communicate – We’re going to improve our communication: more often, more focused on listening, dialogue and discussion. We’re going to going to listen more and seek out as many viewpoints as possible.

3. Relationships – We recognize how important it is to build and maintain relationships, with our staff, with our leaders, with our congregation—and with each other.

4. Expand – We’re going to expand leadership and bring in more voices: we’ll grow the size of the Elder Board, we’d like to add to the pastoral staff, and engage the ministry directors more often to sit at the table and work with the elders on the direction of the church.

5. Labor at the Task – We’re all going to work very hard, and this is a call to all of us, everyone who attends Northpoint. This is a call to labor at the ministry, to love, to support, and to encourage one another.

Restore, Rediscover and Rebuild

Over the next two or three months, you’re going to see gradual changes here, but we’re going to start on restoring our relationships before we move outward to other goals. The pictures and graphics below chart our course together for the months ahead:

Each phase has important goals and they build on each other: as we gradually complete one, we’ll be ready for the next. And as you can see, everyone at Northpoint has a part to play in finding God’s will for our congregation. Please be in prayer about your part as we grow forward together.

In Him,

Tim East, Elder
On Behalf of the Elders


6.7.2018

Abide in Christ

Abide in Christ: Our Relationship with God

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be
full.
 – John 15:1-11Christ calls us to bear fruit in our lives and in the world. We bear fruit only when we abide in Christ. Pray that we at Northpoint will abide in Christ and that He will abide in us, so we can bear much fruit. Pray for Christ’s words for yourself, your family, our church, and whomever God lays on your heart.

•  I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Bearing Fruit is the Father’s purpose. Ask Him to accomplish it.

•  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. Christ’s Word cleanses us. Praise God for your salvation and security in Christ.

•  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. We only bear fruit by being connected to Christ. Pray for a spirit of dependence that remembers: Without Him we can do nothing, but we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

•  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. The consequences of not abiding in Christ are severe. Ask God for a healthy and holy fear of Him.

•  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Abiding in Christ brings answered prayer and glorifies God the Father. Praise God for using you to bring Him glory. Expect Him to answer when you pray.

•  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. The Father’s love comes through the Son. Abide in Christ’s love by obeying His commandments, as Jesus did.

•  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Serving the Father’s purpose brings joy. Receive the joy He has for you now and forever.

Abiding in Christ: Things to Remember

1. The Father’s purpose is for us to bear fruit.
2. He prunes branches that bear fruit and discards branches that don’t.
3. We bear fruit when we abide in Christ and He abides in us.
4. If we don’t abide in Christ, we are thrown away, wither, and are burned.
5. Abiding in Christ brings answered prayer.
6. Bearing fruit glorifies the Father and proves we are Jesus’ disciples.
7. We can do nothing apart from Christ.
8. The Father’s love flows from Him to the Son and from the Son to us.
9. We abide in Christ’s love by obeying His commandments, just as Jesus kept His Father’s commandments and abides in His love.
10. Abiding in Christ brings us Joy.

Abiding in Christ: Prayer for Northpoint

1. Our Pastors and Directors: Brent Whitefield, Scott Williams, Terilyn Brown, Geoff Grant, Taylor Mendoza, Tamene Menna, and Marty Wiegman;
2. Our Lay Elders: Tim East, Steve Flood, Mark Kiker, Mike Russell, and Vinoj Zechariah:
3. Our Church Staff: Michelle Balga, Bob Brown, Andria Brucks, Jacob Williams, Carolee Jefferson, Josh Figureoa, Amber McEwen, Mark Norland, Corie Saunders, and Teri Vaughn
4. John Sloan, Brent Whitefield and their families: Seek God’s Grace and guidance and blessing as they serve Him in the churches where He is calling them.
5. Our Church Body: Ask God to give us the joy of seeing Him accomplish His purpose in us at Northpoint. Pray that we will learn to abide in Him, bear much fruit, and glorify our heavenly
Father.

In Him,

Dave Dussault
Northpoint Prayer Ministry

– Each week, Dave writes a monthly Bible reading plan and weekly Bible and prayer focus, Prayer Life. The preceding is the latest Prayer Life installment. You can pick up both offerings at the Information Center in the Foyer on Sundays, or sign up there to receive them via email. You can also click here to find the archive. 

5.31.2018

Getting Unstuck – A Call to a Shared Vision

Hello Church Family,

King Solomon once wrote, “The toil of a fool wearies him, for he does not know the way to the city” (Ecclesiastes 10:15). A man without direction is a fool who is stuck. In the New Testament, the wise are associated with Christians, and the fools are associated with non-believers. Christians are going to God and His city. In going to God, Christians travel the same ground that everyone else walks on, breathe the same air, drink the same water, pay the same prices for groceries, get the same distresses, and are buried in the same ground, yet with each step, the believer is preserved by God.

However, it is possible to be reminded of the providence of God and yet still be stuck. Even an entire church can be stuck. One visionary, Will Mancini, has claimed the cause for being stuck: “I remind churches all the time that the church in North America is over-programmed and underdiscipled. And in case you are wondering: programs don’t attract people; people attract people.” In other words, many churches feel stuck, yet they run to programs, and not to a vision of disciple-making for the answer. Feeling stuck as a church comes from a lack of a shared vision.

A shared vision gives clarity, inspiration, and conviction. Through much prayer, the key to getting unstuck and remaining unstuck is a shared vision. Much of this has to do with the fact that God is a God of vision. The book of Isaiah is full of pictures of the future that God puts before us. The Minor Prophets, such as Haggai, Nahum, and Micah, are filled with pictures of where God is taking His people. And in the New Testament, we see Jesus giving a vision to the apostles, to Paul, and to the entire church.

There is tremendous power in vision. Consider the powerful illustration of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist, who survived the Nazi death camps of World War II. During his time in the concentration camps, he was sustained by his vision of reuniting with his wife and lecturing after the war on the psychological lessons learned in captivity. Frankl found that vision was a means of survival. Lack of vision meant death, but the power of true vision meant life. Prisoners who had died “lost all hope for a future and were inevitably the first to die. They died less from lack of food or medicine than from lack of hope, lack of something to live for.”

Think of the power of vision that resulted in hope for the Thessalonians. This led to one of the most incredible statements in the Bible made by the apostle Paul: “For we know brothers and sisters, loved by God, that he has chosen you. …” (1 Thessalonians 1:3-5) Paul essentially is saying that he knows with certainty that the Thessalonians are saved. How could Paul make such a statement without seeing what was in their hearts? The answer is in the next verse: “because our gospel came to you not only in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” In other words, the Thessalonians were consumed with a Spirit-given, Word-empowered vision in the gospel that resulted in steadfast hope.

However, the Bible also makes clear that a plan must be set in place to make the vision a reality. It’s been said that vision without execution is a daydream, and execution without vision is a nightmare. Jesus alludes to this in Luke 14:28-30: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” Jesus’ final words are frightening. He implies here that planning is not only good but will spare someone significant embarrassment, massive stewardship problems, and even life-threatening situations.

So if shared vision is the key to getting unstuck, then it’s fair to say that Northpoint Church needs a vision, and not just a vision, but a plan to go along with it. Although I am not paving the way for our vision, my desire for you is that you would be a part of the process of finding one.

Here is how that might look:

1. Receive a vision from God for the purpose of direction. I am not suggesting by any means that we should all sit around or go out into the desert to wait for God’s audible voice, and to await a vision of chariots of fire. I am suggesting that God gives specific vision, perhaps starting with the glory of God, to a church who prays and prays a lot. God is faithful to answer the prayers of His people.

2. Get focused and motivated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as I said before, vision is good but is useless without a practical plan. At Northpoint Church, more than ever, we need all members to serve, give, and minister in the church. This is not to be done by our own ability, but by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. I invite you to take advantage of the summer: serve the church, serve our leadership, make disciples, plan a Bible study, read a book on prayer, and most of all, be satisfied in Jesus.

3. Aim for unity. The vision that I am proposing is not a personal and individualistic vision, but a shared vision. It is not enough for one person in our congregation to have a vision while the rest do not. As a body of believers, we are called to a shared vision because in Christ, unity matters.

4. Remember the unimportance of practically everything. Ministry without clarity is insanity. Think of the number of things Jesus accomplished in his short life on earth, yet he didn’t heal every person, he didn’t cast out every demon, neither did he teach everywhere. God had given him a vision for His people, and He completed it. While He accomplished His vision, it was also the one that was given to Him. Jesus understood the unimportance of practically everything—that is, everything else other than what the Father gave Him to do. In His case, vision involved laying down His life for His sheep.

In Him,

Taylor Mendoza

Student Ministry Director

5.24.2018

An Update from the Elders: Transition

Hello Church Family,

As most of you know, we are in a period of transition here at Northpoint, and this will involve stabilizing and clarifying our ministries focus. While it may be difficult, this is healthy for any church to engage in from time to time. Over the next month, we will be bringing on an interim pastor who will play a pivotal role in re-energizing our efforts to “make disciples who make disciples.” We are hopeful as we watch God’s will unfold over the years to come.

Some of you may have heard that another transition is happening in our staff. Brent Whitefield will be stepping aside from his position as the Pastor of Missions and Outreach at the end of June. God has called him and his family to a new ministry in Florida where he will have responsibility for mobilizing disciples for the work of ministry locally and globally. A number of things relating to this new opportunity made it clear to him that it was the Holy Spirit’s guiding work. Brent emphasized to the leadership team that this transition is not directly related to John’s departure. He reinforces and supports the elders’ efforts to stabilize and move forward. In his seven years here, God has given Brent valuable experiences to draw on as he undertakes his next role in ministry. He will be here for the next few weeks to help make a smooth transition and to continue our teaching commitment in northern India. His last day will be Sunday, July 1.

From Brent:  “I wanted to thank you all for your love and care for my family these past few years and for allowing me to minister and lead. Being a pastor here has been a great joy and privilege, and I have made friends who will be with me a lifetime. I trust that each of you will pray for and support your elders and pastors all the more in the days ahead, and for the wisdom in selecting new leaders to carry on the work of making disciples who make disciples. I believe that as a church, the best days are ahead; I can’t wait to see how God will use this body to be a light to this community and to the nations.”

At the end of this Sunday’s service, Brent will make the announcement. And then right after, the elders will be up at the front to answer questions that you might have about transition plans.

In Him,

Mark Kiker, Elder Chairman – On Behalf of the Elders

5.17.2018

An Update from the Elders: Hard work, Patience, Prayer, and Love

Hello Church Family,

As God continues to work His will and purposes here at Northpoint, it’s a good time to thank Him for providing for us and to pray for His continued guidance and direction. That’s something we can be so thankful for here;  God’s people are praying and seeking Him, which is so important right now.

God has promised to give us His wisdom. As James says so clearly: we should ask God, and He will give generously to all without finding fault—and we are certainly seeking that now.

In this light, we, your elders, want to share with you where we’re heading as a church; while much is still to be discovered, a plan for the weeks and months ahead is coming together.

First, we need to restore and rebuild our trust and relationships, and that’s where we are going to focus our attention right now. Nothing is more important than our love and fellowship based on trust, and changes in ministry can put some strains on those bonds. So for the next month to six weeks, we’ll be working diligently, meeting with leaders, staff, and members of our congregation on this. You won’t see many dramatic changes during this time; we need to renew our strength that comes from unity.

Next, we’ll start to expand our conversations and rediscover who we are and who God wants us to be, what defines us as a church, what are our strengths, and where do we need to do better. Again, we’ll be listening, praying, talking, and perhaps a little dreaming about what God might lead us to be and to do.

During this phase, you will see some gradual changes as we bring in an interim pastor to minister on Sundays and during the week, and we will gradually make small adjustments, especially to improve areas that need shoring up.

The third phase—and this might go through the summer—will be to rebuild. Guided by what we have learned, and prayerfully seeking God, we’ll start to move forward together in clearly defining what we want to be, and begin looking for a new lead pastor.

All of this will take a great deal of hard work, patience, prayer, and love for one another, but every day we see these very qualities being displayed. All around our church the works of the ministry continue: caring for one another, bearing each other’s burdens, forgiving, loving, and encouraging. We are God’s church, we are a loving church, and God has promised us that we will fulfill the good works that he called us to before the foundations of the earth—to His glory and our joy.

In Him,

Tim East
Elder

5.10.2018

Rehearsing the Gospel

Hello Church Family,

Chelsea and I enjoy canoeing more than any other hobby. There is something serenely beautiful about being on the water, slicing the calm with the paddle, hearing the ripples skirt along the boat. As much as Southern California allows us, we try to get out and keep our strokes and skills in practice. Canoeing requires repetition, and canoeing well requires keeping this practice in a regular rhythm. Knowing the strokes and learning how to “read the water” is all incredibly useful information, we’re intentional to grow in those areas and thankful when we do. However, it is the practice, the consistent rehearsal of canoeing that makes this an enjoyable hobby rather than a burdensome workout.

I would propose the same is true of most skills. Whether it is practicing your golf swing, painting a landscape, planting a garden, or building a picnic table, repetition and practice are the driving motions of learned concepts. You could watch a hundred videos on how to throw a curveball, but the theory alone will not produce a great pitcher.

In Paul’s letters, specifically those to the Colossians and Ephesians, we receive a vision for living the Christian life in community. Regularly rehearsing our faith in Christ together. Paul invites the church in Colossae to “take off” their old self, identifying the earthly manner in which they once walked, and to instead put on love. He writes:

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

As James K. A. Smith says, “putting on Christ takes practice” and isn’t it true that we tend to move toward what our hearts truly desire? Jesus seems to affirm this reality as he asks his first disciples, “What is it that you seek?” or “What do you really want?” (John 1:38) and similarly when he thrice asks Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21). This call to put on Christ, to put on love, could be the habituating or rehearsing of our new identity, being in Christ.

This is my desire for our weekly gathering as Northpoint Church. I long to gather with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, for the very purpose of:

–    putting on love,
–    letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts,
–    putting on thankful hearts,
–    letting the Word of Christ dwell in us,
–    teaching, correcting, and warning each other in wisdom,
–    singing psalms and hymns together,
–    giving thanks to the Father in Christ.

I have recently become fond of employing the word liturgy in a more broad application. A lot of the time when we hear “liturgy” our minds ping back to “high church,” smells and bells of Catholicism, or rites and rituals of the Episcopalian church; but the term liturgy most simply refers to a particular arrangement of service or practice.

Chelsea and I have certain liturgies we perform when we canoe: we take the canoe off our car in a certain way, enter the canoe a certain way, paddle together in a particular rhythm, stop and proceed using certain set steps, and so on.

Similarly, when we gather to worship, our desire is to rehearse the reality of our identity in Christ. We have liturgies that aid us in practicing this “putting on the character of Christ”. Perhaps you have even identified these rhythms in our corporate worship:

–    we recognize God’s perfect, holy character and his creating power,
–    we recall the fall and remember our past rebellion and our present sin,
–    we celebrate and embrace Christ as our atonement and redemption,
–    we anticipate the future day when all will be made right and we will dwell with Christ himself.

Whether we rehearse these truths and respond to God’s goodness in song, reading, hearing the word, partaking in communion, or celebrating God’s grace in baptism, we desire to habituate bearing thankful hearts in Christ and finding our identity, both individual and collective, in Christ. Amidst all these things, we receive God’s grace, wisdom, and revelation in his Word. We respond in thanksgiving, and we feast on the Bread of Life together.

There is immense value in our gathering weekly to “put on Christ” together. Putting on Christ takes practice, and it can only be rightly done in the presence of other believers. My prayer is that our Sunday gatherings would grow us and aid us in our love for God, our hope in Christ and our dependence on his Spirit.

In Him,

Geoff Grant
Director of Worship

5.3.2018

The Hope of Heaven

Hello Church Family,

In his book, The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis wrote: “We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about ‘pie in the sky’, and of being told that we are trying to ‘escape’ from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is ‘pie in the sky’ or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric. If there is, then this truth, like any other, must be faced, whether it is useful at political meetings or no. Again, we are afraid that heaven is a bribe, and that if we make it our goal we shall no longer be disinterested. It is not so. Heaven offers nothing that a mercenary soul can desire. It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to. There are rewards that do not sully motives. A man’s love for a woman is not mercenary because he wants to marry her, nor his love for poetry mercenary because he wants to read it, nor his love of exercise less disinterested because he wants to run and leap and walk. Love, by definition, seeks to enjoy its object.”

More than half a century after they were written, Lewis’ words still resonate today. In our current sermon series on 1 Thessalonians, we are confronting a community of believers who were not shy or reticent about discussing heaven. In fact, one of the pressing concerns of the apostle Paul in his letter is the impatience of the believers for the return of Christ and their reunion with him. The Thessalonian church was a group of people who had staked everything on the hope of eternity with Christ. They would never have dismissed yearning for heaven as ‘pie in the sky.’ Rather they were a body actively waiting, with great expectation for the return of Christ.

We do not know when Christ will return. We are not invited even to speculate on when it will be. Yet, while it is certain that we are closer to that blessed event than the Thessalonian church was, what is our level of expectation? Are we still a community which is waiting for the Lord with eagerness and anticipation? Does our excitement manifest itself in urgency in witness and service? Do we love Christ so much, that our reunion with him is the most exciting thing we can imagine?

What some dismiss as ‘pie in the sky’ is the great hope of the believer. The Thessalonian church was a great model of what a hopeful community of believers looks like, prays like, witnesses like, and waits like. May God fashion us into a body of Christ-followers who long for his return, our hope firmly fixed on our promised future in his presence.

In him,

Pastor Brent 

4.26.2018

An Update from the Elders

Northpoint Family,

As we continue to work through the transitions that have come to us since Pastor Sloan resigned, we have talked with many of you. We have heard sorrow, confusion, grief, disappointment, understanding, and resiliency. And we see people trusting in God and desiring to pray and serve. Many have defined this as a time of dependency on the Lord and watchfulness as we see His will unfold. We look to Him for guidance, direction, and comfort. As many of you are long-term attendees and members, there is a stability in the fact that our community will continue and we will grow closer to the Lord and each other.

The Sloans are in transition also. Some of you have asked what is next for them. Pastor John has taken a senior pastor position at a church outside of Huntsville, Alabama. He has already begun filling their pulpit and will be planning his family’s move at some point. Pray for the Sloans as they make arrangements.

As we call on God for direction, the elders have devoted themselves to prayer and seeking our next steps. Some of the items discussed include more conversations between the elders, pastors, and our ministry directors. These two groups provide leadership and reflect a servant’s heart as they work with all of you in the harvest fields of our campus and community. They bring insight that will help the elders guide through this time.

As elders, we will be increasing our focus on prayer and providing more opportunities to gather together. You will hear about prayer times that you can join; maybe get a prayer list that can guide your supplications. One such opportunity is the Weekly Prayer Meeting that happens every Monday evening at 6:00 p.m. The group meets either on the Heritage Patio or in the Commons. It is a one-hour, structured prayer time, open to anyone who wants to come. Please consider joining. Call the Church Office for more information.

The preaching schedule has been laid out, and we want to share that with you. Some names might swap around, but here is the tentative outline. As you know, we have begun a series working through that book of 1 Thessalonians. This will take us into June, and we will plan more as we approach the end of the book.

Date               Speaker                  Text
4/29 Brent I Thess. 2:13-20
5/6 Scott I Thess. 3
5/13 Taylor I Thess. 4:1-12
5/20 Brent I Thess. 4: 13-18
5/27 Scott I Thess. 5: 1-11
6/3 Brent I Thess. 5: 12-28

On Monday, April 30, the leadership team will begin to vet the ministry partners that we might bring in to assist. As the Lord wills, these persons or teams will help us map out our steps in seeking an interim pastor. Our denominational leaders are calling this person an “intentional interim,” meaning that the person will have a defined role to play as he preaches, teaches, and helps us along the road toward our next lead pastor. When the new lead arrives, the interim will step away.

Please pray for us, the process, the ministries, and the congregation, as we seek to heal, stabilize, and then move forward. We covet your prayers.  If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please feel free to talk to us, or email at leadershipteam@northpointcorona.org

For the Elders,

Mark Kiker – Elder Chairman

4.19.2018

The Times They Are A-Changin’
 
For our teachers who travel twice a year to minister in NE India, there is in the city of Shillong a coffee shop called Dylan’s Café, that is one of our favorite hangouts. They make a mean plate of pancakes and bacon for those who yearn for some comfort food. The only drawback is that the cafe is an homage to the Nobel-prize winning, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. So as you dine there, you are subjected to more of Dylan’s tunes than any human should be reasonably expected to tolerate.
One of the most frequently played numbers is called: The Times They Are A-Changin’.
 
That song’s refrain readily comes to mind these days as I reflect on the situation in which Northpoint finds itself. There can be no denying that our church has now entered into a season of flux. Our senior pastor has transitioned into ministry elsewhere. We are now without a lead shepherd, and there will be a period of reflection and seeking God‘s will before we identify a new one. Change can be disconcerting, even for those who normally relish it. There can be little doubt that some things will look and feel differently in the future. For those who do not normally welcome change, it can bring a fear that can sometimes be debilitating.
 
Since changes and transitions are inevitable in life, how we respond to them makes all the difference. Sometimes fear can cause us to want to resist or reverse change. This is seldom a healthy attitude. As a church, we always want to be reforming in the direction of greater faithfulness to God and effectiveness in witness. Though we cherish some traditions and do not seek change for its own sake, we seek the kind of change that makes us more like the body Christ intended us to be. We dare not make an idol either of tradition or novelty.
For the Christian, in the midst of uncertainty and change, we find great comfort in a God who never changes. As the people of God, we have the assurance that when we gather, Christ is with us. When Christ is with us, there is no reason to fear. Many times Jesus admonished his disciples not to fear but instead to trust in him.
 
Periods of change can also be a time to engage in healthy reflection and redirection. It is a time to reaffirm and take comfort in the things of which we are certain: God’s love, goodness, and grace, his Word, his preservation of his chosen ones, the hope of eternal life, and much more. It can be a time to re-order our priorities as well. It is more important than ever that we will be committed to God’s word and to prayer. It is more important than ever that we cleave closely to the body of Christ and serve one another. And it is more important than ever that, in a time of necessary reflection, we do not descend into a morbid introspection, but recommit ourselves to reaching out to a world that is lost and desperate without Christ. While we wait patiently on the Lord for his guidance, we do not hit the pause button on reaching out in witness. And while we honor the past and learn from it, we move forward in unity, confident in the power of the gospel. We do not fear that the times they are a-changin’, because we are confident that God is using the period we are passing through to grow us and use us for our good and his glory.
 
In Him,
 
Pastor Brent Whitefield
 
4.12.2018

 

A Message from Your Elders:

Dear Church Family,

To everything God has created, He brings seasons of change, and we are going through such a time now. As difficult as these transitions are, they ultimately work for our good and God’s purposes.

As you may know, on March 11, John Sloan tendered his resignation and is now pursuing his next chapter in service to the Lord. We all are thankful for the years of ministry and leadership that John provided and the transformations we saw in many relationships and individuals. We are also saddened as he and his family move away.

The remaining staff pastors, Brent and Scott, will continue as they have with shepherding, counseling and leading. They, along with others, such as Tim East, Mike Russell, and Taylor Mendoza, will anchor our preaching ministry for the next few months.

Our current framework for moving forward is to bring in a full-time, interim pastor who has the experience of providing wise shepherding to a body that is going through transition. This will happen in late summer and provide a consistent pulpit ministry. We will continue to use our gifted pastors and leaders in the pulpit as well. This transitional pastor may also assist in leading staff and provide administrative support to ministries for continuity. He will then step away once we find our next lead pastor.

We will continue to work with ministry partners who can help us through this transition. We are receiving counsel and assistance from the EFCA Western Region staff. The EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America) has deep resources that will come alongside our elders and pastors. We may be bringing in a team to help us formulate a ministry plan. This effort will take time to reach the recommendation phase. They may do an all-church written/online survey, conduct interviews with ministry leaders, and gather demographics on our congregation and community. We will then focus on the opportunities and suggestions identified by their efforts.

We have a lot of work ahead of us. There is much to be prayerful about. There will be much to research, ponder, and decide. But through it all, we are confident that our great God will show us His unfolding will. Join with us in prayer as we seek Him.

 

Much more will be communicated as we make progress. Feel free to talk to any elder or staff pastors at any time. You can also email us all at leadership@northpointcorona.org.

In Him,

Your Elders

4.5.2018

Each week, our own Dave Dussault writes Prayer Life, NP’s weekly prayer guide. You can get it via email by contacting him at davedussault21@gmail.com, or you can pick up a copy at the Information Center in the Foyer each Sunday.
 
Here’s what Dave sent out recently:
 
God’s Peace
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” — Philippians 4:8-9
 
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” The answer to that question really depends on which mirror we use, and there is a mirror that does more than tell us how we look. It makes us new.
 
Looking into God’s Word reveals the many facets of His glory, and no one who sees the Lord leaves unchanged. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2nd Corinthians 3:18).
 
Time spent with God in His Word and in prayer changes our relationships, renews our spirits, and transforms our character. It teaches us the peace of God as we walk closely with the God of Peace. Remember, spending time with Him is a miracle that Christ accomplished on the cross, when He created peace between God and Man. And day by day, over a lifetime, God is perfecting in our lives the miracle He accomplished in our hearts the moment we were saved.
 
God’s first marching order for believers is to love one another. Time with Him gives believers a shared perspective even when we disagree. It gives a common goal even to people with competing agendas. There is something more important than my wants, my preferences, and my plans. God’s truth and His will take charge in our lives as we read His Word. Divine power and heavenly priorities predominate in hearts devoted to prayer, and we learn to let go of our desires, so we can embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
And releasing our wants frees us to let God take care of them. God doesn’t demand that we not have desires. He assures us of His provision. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). When He says “No” to one thing, it’s so we’ll be free to accept His “Yes” to something else, in His good time. Prayer lives in the current of God’s bountiful, ongoing, and wise provision, as we come to know His goodness at all times and in all things. And that brings peace. A life of peace. “The peace of God” (Philippians 4:7).
 
Time with God also gives us something to occupy our minds. It brings songs in the night, light in our darkness, and hope in times of despair and loss. “Your Word is truth” said Jesus to the Father (John 17:17). Reading God’s Word sets our feet firmly on eternal truth, giving us confidence, by enabling us to discern lies and distinguish truth from falsehood. It turns our souls from going down the wrong path and leads us “in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3), as we turn our thoughts on to things God delights in.
 
• Reflecting on what is “honorable,” or worthy of respect, trains us to value what pleases God.
• Thinking on what is “true,” honest, and reliable equips us to reject what is false, deceptive, and unsteady.
• Occupying our minds with what is “just” conforms our thoughts and values to God’s perfect standards.
• Focusing on what is “pure” cultivates a taste for all things wholesome, with no trace of moral impurity.
• Things that are “lovely” promote peace and harmony with others, dispelling conflict.
• “Commendable” things are well spoken of, because they’re positive and constructive, not negative
and destructive.
• All these qualities are “excellent” and “worthy of praise”—things worth focusing our minds on.
 
Training our focus on these virtues helps us to know what God is like and what pleases Him. Gazing on God through His Word and in prayer—thinking on “these things”—unites us with God and makes us like Him. It also brings peace in our relationships, as vastly different people learn love, value, and eventually display the splendor of God’s character in infinitely diverse ways.
 
To the praise of His glory.
 
The rest of NP News for 4.5.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

3.29.2018

Our TAGD for this week is a reposting of what Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach, wrote for Easter last year. Enjoy.

The Unique Message of Easter

Hello Family,

Easter is a wonderful occasion for Christians. Not so much because it is a “holy day.” As Protestant Christians, we are not altogether comfortable with the notion of holy days in the first place. There is nothing intrinsically more holy about this Sunday than any of the other 364 days on the calendar. Nor does the importance of Easter lie in the fact that it is a “holiday.” Every religion has its holidays, often occasions for revelry that are only thinly connected to the original event that they celebrate. Christians don’t do holidays terribly well anyway. Easter is a fairly subdued event in the West. If you like celebrations with gusto, observe Muslims at Eid, Jews at Purim, or Hindus at Holi.

Rather, the significance of Easter is that it calls us to remember and reflect on the one event that sets the Christian faith apart from every other faith. The one historical fact that, if true, renders all competing truth claims about God false: the resurrection of Christ. All other religions in the world are essentially wisdom traditions: organized attempts, through holy men and holy books, to offer prescriptions for living lives that will please the gods. All the faiths ever devised are man’s attempt to make their best guess at what God is like and what he requires of us. Christianity is unique in that there is no guesswork: we know who God is and what he requires because we know Jesus and what he has done. And through the resurrection, Jesus proved that he is no holy man pretending to be divine, but that he is indeed a member of the Godhead itself. Therefore the word of God is not the shifting sand of human “wisdom” but is a person, Jesus Christ. We can have confidence that his word never changes, never needs to be updated to suit the times of the spirit of the age.

The resurrection is one of the best-attested facts of the ancient world. So well does the evidence line up in its favor, that were it not a miraculous event, nobody would have any doubt about its historicity. And it is this fact that makes Easter the most significant event in the history of the church and the world. It is the thread that holds the whole sweater together. Because the Christian faith is based on the Word of God in the person of his son, Jesus, its whole validity and significance ride on the truth of the resurrection.

Other faiths do not live or die on the basis of historical facts. They can be molded to suit the evolving human view of God. As those who believe in and have staked their eternal destiny on the resurrection, we do not shape God’s Word to suit our tastes. We cannot. Nor do we create our own wisdom, because we have Christ, who is the wisdom of God. As Christians, we do not make up our faith as we go along because Christ is alive and with us by the Spirit of God.

So as you celebrate Easter this week, remember: Christ’s resurrection vindicates all of his claims about himself, it allows us to know, with certainty, who God is and what he expects. Most importantly, it gives us a living hope and an example: proving what Christ has done for us in his victory over sin and death, and showing us how we must then live in light of this truth. Your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members who don’t know of or believe in the Easter message cannot know God or have a relationship with him. And they may never hear unless they hear it from you. Won’t you tell them?

In him,

Pastor Brent

3.22.2018

Curse Jars, Soap Bars, and the Futility of Perfecting the Tongue
 
Hello Family,
 
I hope you’re enjoying this rainy day. My prayer for you this week has been that God would “satisfy you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5).
 
It’s a strange thing to remember, but I recall the scenario like it was yesterday. I was sitting in the back of my seventh-grade class at Clara Weisenborn Junior High in Dayton, Ohio, when, from the front row, a fellow student, Adam, interrupted the teacher for a poorly timed and decidedly unfunny one-liner. The response of the class was total silence. Not even a nervous giggle. To his credit, Adam was undeterred. He thought that perhaps the class hadn’t really heard his joke, so he tried a second time, even louder. Again, crickets. Confused by the lack of response, Adam leaned forward in his seat, backside entirely off the chair, and uttered his joke again, with even greater confidence, only this time both the teacher and the students turned to him with daggers in their eyes, as if to say, “Enough!”
 
After about a three second delay, taking advantage of the tension in the room, I whispered loudly and sarcastically to Adam, “Say it again.” The class erupted with the sort of snot-bubbled screeches that junior high kids produce when trying to bridle belly laughs.
 
That was the worst thing that could’ve happened to me. I spent the next two years of my life trying to duplicate my comedic success, blurting out rejoinders, comments, and ill-advised jokes to little avail. My poor teachers didn’t know what to do. They got a hold of my mom, and said, “We just love John; he’s a great student, but he will not stop talking at inappropriate times. He cannot control his tongue.”
 
Well, that was thirty-three years ago, and I would like to tell you that once I made it through junior high, I never made another poorly-timed comment; I’d love to tell you that since then I’ve never spoken out of turn, made a sarcastic remark, or hurt someone with my words, but unfortunately, mastering the tongue is not a battle that any earth-bound person ever totally wins. The consequences get larger, and the words we use may change, but the struggles remain. To be sure, if we open our mouths, we will sin.
 
The Scriptures have much to say about the control of the tongue, or the pervasive lack thereof. The book of Proverbs warns us that “when words are many, sin is not absent” (Proverbs 10:19). When Isaiah meets the Lord in his temple, the prophet summarizes his sinfulness this way: “Woe is me! … I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). When the Apostle Paul presents that powerful and poetic indictment of all human sin and rebellion against God in Romans 3, he says this: “None is righteous, no, not one … they use their tongues to deceive. … Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
 
When the biblical writers want to make a case for the complete brokenness of humanity, they start with an area of sin that no one has conquered: the use of our tongues.
 
So what do we do with this area of weakness? Well, certainly, there are some practical efforts that we can (and should) employ, for example:
 
:: Pause before speaking, and evaluate the intent of your words before you say them.
:: Establish a pattern of complimenting other people.
:: Endeavor to “put off” those words that cut, tear down, or destroy.
:: Resolve to say only things that build up other people, and show grace to them.
:: If you tend to use profane language, ask someone else to hold you accountable when you sin.
 
These are helpful and God-honoring practices that we should commit to. However, the first and quintessential step in taming the tongue is recognizing our complete inability to do so in our own strength.
 
This inability is meant to drive us to Jesus, who controlled his tongue in every way and in every circumstance in our place. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
 
A friend of mine says that pulpit malpractice is preaching the imperatives without reminding your audience of their inability and need for Christ’s obedience on their behalf. Yeah, but you say, “Won’t preaching our inability discourage people from even trying to obey?” The answer is: yes … it will discourage them from trying in their own strength.
 
New Testament scholar, Daniel Doriani, says: “The tongue daily demonstrates both our sinfulness and our inability to reform ourselves.”
 
Curse jars and soap bars may occasionally deter one from uttering a mean-spirited or profane comment, and if you feel like they’re of help to you, by all means, use them. But true progress is rooted in increased brokenness, greater self-suspicion, a deeper dependence on God’s grace, and the recognition of who we are in Christ.
 
Christ has made us new. The Holy Spirit now resides within us. God loves you (even when you curse). And the more that we completely depend on the power of God through prayer, and recognize God’s steadfast love for us, the more we’ll actually experience growth. Growth in humility. Growth in patience. Growth in love for others. And growth in holiness, even in the way we use our tongues.
 
In Him,
 
Pastor John

3.15.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Scott Williams, Northpoint’s Pastor of Adults and Families.

Heart Motives

A few years ago, I heard a message that changed my perspective on sin and the struggle with sin. Dr. John Henderson gave a talk here at Northpoint to many of our churches leaders, and he started off his remarks with this: “Whatever rules your heart rules your life.” He went on to explain that in Scripture, the heart is seen as the home base for all our meaningful thoughts, feelings, and actions, and that ever since the Fall, our sinful nature is rooted in the heart. Often times, when we discuss sin, we define it too narrowly by only thinking of it in terms of specific actions. Sin is not just specific actions that we do, but it also involves our deeper motives and desires behind those actions.

For instance, look at what Jesus says in Matthew 15:17-20: “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” One of the things that Jesus is emphasizing here is the location from which all sorts of sin flows: our actions flow out of the desires of our heart. So, in order to truly deal with our sinful actions like slander, theft, or sexual immorality, for example, we must look for change at the heart level.

This can only truly begin, of course, when we become a Christian. Upon trusting in Christ, the Scripture says that our heart of stone is taken away and we are given a new heart. Upon salvation, one of the things that happen is that our motives and desires are renewed. However, on this side of heaven, we will still battle with our old sinful ways. Paul says in Galatians 5:16-17: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other.” According to Paul, the believer now lives in the very real struggle of either gratifying the desires of flesh or gratifying the desires of the Spirit. This, then, brings us back to Dr. Henderson’s astute observation that whatever rules your heart rules your life. In other words, if we live gratifying, or being motivated, by selfish motives, then it is sin that is ruling us. But if we live gratifying the desires of the Spirit, then it is Christ who is on the throne of our heart.

What are some of those sinful desires that can rule our hearts? There are many, but here are a few: we can be ruled by lust, which, broadly speaking, is the desire, or craving, for something that is outside our grasp. Lust can be seen as a craving for approval through money, sex, status, possessions, and the list can go on and on. We can also be ruled by a sense of fear of losing whatever we do have. In that case, our lives are ruled by a fear of poverty, suffering, disapproval, disrespect, or loneliness, for example. Yet another selfish desire that can fight for the rule of our heart is the desire for pleasure, or comfort, where we seek out only those things that satisfy that need.

While each of these desires at some point fight for the rule of my heart, the one that resonates most is pleasure. And not just not just in a physical sense, but in the sense that I can tend to evaluate the things in my life through the grid of, “Is this pleasing to me?”

Employing Dr. Henderson’s observation opened my eyes to a whole host of ways that my heart is motivated and ruled by a sinful desire to be pleased. I am pleased to be proven right. I am pleased to be liked and respected at church. I am pleased when I can come home to a quiet home, which with three small kids, rarely happens. I am pleased by music that speaks to me. I am pleased when a sermon points out the sin in others but not my own. I am pleased to be in control when I want to be, and not in control when I don’t want to be. I am pleased when my wife wants to watch “Suits” instead of “Call the Midwife.” The list of things where I seek comfort and pleasure can truly go on and on.

How often do many of us evaluate our marriage, our friendships, our work, and maybe even the church, through the sinfully selfish grid of, “Is this pleasing to me?”

BUT HE GIVES MORE GRACE. What beautiful hope-giving words those really are. It is so encouraging to know that God not only forgives our wretched self-seeking and self-pleasing ways, but he also supplies us with that which will be truly satisfying and pleasing through Christ. In fact, it was Christ who promised to give us living water so that we might never thirst again. It is only when Christ is on the throne of our heart that our motives will be driven by him, and when we will find our satisfaction in him.

In Him,

Scott

3.8.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach.
 
A Promise-keeping and Preserving God
 
Recently, I had the privilege of accompanying a group from Northpoint to visit Israel and Jordan. The trip was a wonderful experience on many fronts: it was a great opportunity to make new relationships, to enjoy good food, and to see places of significance in biblical history. For me, there were so many takeaways from the trip that I would need many pages to describe them all.
 
One of the most impressive things for me was the opportunity to view the Promised Land from many different heights and angles. Looking out at Israel from the vista of Jerusalem, or from the ancient city of Megiddo, or from across the river Jordan at Mt. Nebo (where Moses first espied it) is an inspiring experience. At the same time, we were able to learn about and appreciate the history of the land and its people. Ultimately, I went away more impressed than ever with the steadfastness of God in keeping his promises to a particular people in a particular place. The promise of God to Abraham: that he would fashion from him a people of his choosing and would preserve them in a land he had prepared is the fulcrum on which rests the whole Old Testament narrative.
 
Of course, God could have chosen to raise up a people for himself on a remote Pacific island, where they would have been protected from any possible peril. The land that he chose for them, Israel, is the opposite of that. It is a place which has been a crossroads throughout human history. It has been the bridge between Africa, Asia, and Europe for as long as mankind has traveled, traded, and warred. The land is difficult to defend and easy prey for large, powerful armies. It is a piece of real estate that has been fought over so often, that in a place like Jerusalem, for example, there are at least 15 different layers of civilizations for archaeologists to dig through. Throughout history, the people of Israel have never been the most numerous, and rarely the most powerful people in the region. They suffered exile and subjugation at the hands of the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans; and those are just the ones before the time of Christ.
Yet God’s work of preservation and restoration on behalf of his people is a miracle at which we should marvel. No doubt, you have met many Jews in your life. But have you ever met a Canaanite, Amalekite, or Hittite? Those people, though they were in their day, larger and stronger than the Israelites, have been consigned to the trash heap of history. The people of Israel are unique in their survival since prehistoric times. Though his people were often unfaithful to him, God has always proven faithful to them. And though they often failed to acknowledge it, the people of Israel owed their very existence to God’s miraculous undertaking on their behalf. Nothing else can adequately explain their survival. Yet from time to time, God chose to remind his people that it was his grace and not their strength or skill that won the day.
 
On the road from Galilee to Jerusalem, you may pass by the spring of Harod. This is the place where God instructed Gideon to cut down his army from 10,000 to 300 men. Tactically, of course, this made no sense; they were facing a Midianite army which was already larger than theirs. But God wanted to prove something to the people of Israel. He said to Gideon: “The people who are with you are too many for me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’” Though the Israelites could not help but see that it was God who won their battle, their memory and gratitude were short-lived.
 
For those of us who are in Christ, the new people of God, we succumb to the same temptation all the time. When we achieve something, we are tempted to give all the credit to ourselves. Part of growing in Christian maturity is understanding that we owe everything to God, and the victories that we achieve are achieved in his power and his power alone. And the benefit of doing this is that we see the faithfulness of God showcased again and again. In Christ, God has made a promise to us, and it is a promise that he will keep. If we persevere, it is because he has preserved us; when his promise is kept, it is because he is faithful, not because we are. This way of thinking requires humility. But aren’t you glad that your spiritual survival is not dependent on your own strength, skill, ingenuity, or faithfulness?
 
In Him,
Pastor Brent
 
The rest of NP News for 3.8.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

3.1.2018

Thoughts Inspired by Diminutive Heroes

Hello Family,

I have been praying for you this week, that God would “strengthen you and show you a sign of his favor” (Psalm 86).

I have a sister who lives in Middle Tennessee. She and her husband have a house on 27 acres of wooded land, which includes a volleyball court, a basketball goal, hiking trails, a barn, and even cows. It’s a veritable hillbilly Disneyland. So most of the time there are more than enough options to keep nine kids—her five and my four—occupied when we visit.

However, the last time we made the cross-country trek, it rained almost every minute. Literally. And I’m not talking about the gentle spritz that we experience as Southern Californians; I’m talking about bone-drenching, bucket-filling, baseball-sized drops, the kind that soak your clothes in a matter of seconds.

So, as parents, we were huddled in the living room trying to figure out what to do with all these kids. Since six were teenagers at the time, we knew that just about every suggestion would be met with, “Meh. That sounds boring.” So we said, “Let’s go to the movies.” The first showing of the day was pretty cheap—a prerequisite when you’re buying a total of 13 tickets!—but we only had two choices: Minions and Ant-Man. The overwhelming choice was the latter. Since movies about superheroes who shrink down to the size of a bug and ride on the backs of giant ants to save the world from evil yellow jackets don’t tend to stick with me very long, I don’t recall much about that story. But I do remember one line, where the villain says as he faces impending doom, “The things I’ve done can never be forgiven.”

Even though it was a movie for young adults, I think that sentiment is one that people of all ages share: there are things that I’ve done that can never be forgiven. Who hasn’t felt that way at one time or another? I hear this statement as a pastor all the time. And I get it.

This week, our ladies of WOW studied the so-called Parable of the Prodigal Son. And I heard that Holli Worthington did a terrific job of explaining it. It’s a powerful story of rebellion, restoration, mercy, and forgiveness.

But it’s not the first of such kind in the Bible. Not by a long shot.

The book of Hosea gives a similar account concerning the children of Israel. Repeatedly, they run from God, dishonor him, “whoring” themselves out to cult prostitutes (Hosea 4:12-14.) They show no regard for the Lord who redeemed them. Instead, they worshiped and sacrificed to gods of wood and clay.

Consequently, throughout this book, we read about God’s horrific judgment that he promises to bring on his people for their idolatry, and he does, in fact, discipline them severely. But following every one of God’s judgments, it seems, are reminders of his steadfast love and the completeness of his forgiveness.

Every time God says, “I’m going to wipe you out because of your idolatry,” he says afterward, “But how could I destroy the people I love. I won’t let you wander off forever. I will woo you, and win you back to me. My love for you will never fail. You will be called mine again.”

Every time the people of Israel repented, God instantly forgave them. There was no sin too great; no offense too egregious. One Old Testament scholar says, “There is no hesitation in the divine response. It is almost as if God longed for the occasion to speak of salvation rather than judgment.”

We might say it this way: there is a relentlessness to God’s forgiveness. God delights in restoring his wayward children. It’s almost as if he cannot wait to do it. To be sure, God is not impetuous; he never gets swept away by his emotions, but his love is real. It is deep. It is rescuing. It is freeing. And his forgiveness is boundless. To his perpetually recalcitrant people, God says:

“I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow” (Hosea 14:4-7).

Perhaps you can relate to the conviction that your sins are beyond forgiveness. Take heart: God’s forgiveness is yours in Christ. Completely. You don’t have to earn it or even show that you deserve it. Our God is one who loves to forgive the repentant; he is eager to lift up the broken.

By God’s grace, he yearns to mend our broken hearts are restore our hope. This is not a consequence of willpower or doubling down on our efforts to be better. Instead, it is accomplished by the Lover of Our Souls, the one who allows us to say, “Great is thy faithfulness.”

In Him,
Pastor John

 

2.23.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Steve Flood, one of Northpoint’s elders.

The Body of Christ – One Body, One Family, One Heart for Each Other

To start our conversation, I want to share a few thoughts about my family at home. As the father of three daughters, I have enjoyed watching three completely different young ladies growing up in front of their mother and me. Laura and I are amazed that there can be so many differences when they have all grown up in such similar circumstances. Their personalities, interests, and gifts take them and us in so many different directions. The same can be said about my marriage with Laura. Our differences are both a strength and a challenge at times. At the end of the day, however, our entire family comes together to eat around the same table. In our diversity, we understand and appreciate that we are still one family.

My family at home is a simple example of family, but it is not unlike the body of Christ. Each one of us being a son or daughter of one Heavenly Father. From 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, we read: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The entire chapter of I Corinthians 12 addresses this reality in much greater detail.

From this, we learn that our Father delights in diversity, and at the same time, sees us in unity. It is in Christ that we have become one. And, it is by the Spirit that this happens.

We must contrast the life in Christ with the world’s effort to produce a similar unity. If you have lived in the world for at least a decade or two, you realize true spiritual unity is alien to the world. It desperately desires unity and peace, but in its attempt to nurture tolerance and peace, it produces division and tension. The difference between the two is in the One we are longing to satisfy. In Christ, the object of our affection is our God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. In the world, the object of our affection is the self or a personal worldview we expect the world to conform to.

It is important to understand these two distinct realities because living a life with God and our Christian family as the objects of our affection will be realized in its fullness when we are in heaven with Christ and with each other. In Colossians 3:1-4 we read: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

We are to live our lives here like we will be living them in heaven. Paul calls us, in Colossians 3, to put on the new man (and woman) that we will be when we are with Christ above, in glory.

What will this reality be like? In one word, it will be love. In John 13:35, we understand that Christ’s disciples are known by their love for one another. We are told in I Corinthians 13 that when everything else has passed away, faith, hope, and love will remain (the greatest of these is love), and finally we see love in Colossians 3:12-17: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

The language of the new covenant in Christ is a language of family, a language of relationship, and a language of love, which necessarily characterizes our family. As we are conformed to His image, we prefer and serve one another, giving glory to God in the presence of man, and building up the Body of Christ unto maturity. And, when He finally calls us home, we will take our new nature with us, having already become one with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I am thankful for each of you, and I pray that the body of Christ would be a pure reflection of His love for us.

In Him,

Steve

2.15.2018
The Lord Is Our Banner
Dear Family,
There’s something spectacular about the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. At least I think so. Friday night, my husband and I tuned in to the opening ceremonies of the XXIII Olympic winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Tom lasted about 5 minutes before turning his attention to his iPad to scan his favorite news sites. But even he had to admit that the Olympic rings made of 1,200 drones were pretty amazing. Or maybe he was just excited because the ceremony was drawing to a close.
My favorite part of these events is watching the teams of ecstatic athletes march into the stadium under the colorful billowing banners of their countries. Smiles beaming, arms waving, selfies snapping—this is a moment they will remember for a lifetime. And every time I see Team USA enter the arena lead by the Stars and Stripes, each of our athletes proudly adorned in red, white, and blue, I can’t help but be moved by a wave of pride as well.
 
A banner or flag is something that identifies and unifies a particular group of people. It’s often used in situations far more serious than a game, with much more at stake than a medal. In military settings, a banner can serve as a rallying point for troops. Soldiers embroiled in battle can reassemble around their banner to find protection, receive aid, gain strength, and obtain orders to continue striving for victory.
How fitting that one of the names of God in the Old Testament is Jehovah-Nissi, which means, The Lord Is Our Banner. It only appears once in the Bible, in Exodus 17. The event takes place not long after the Israelites are miraculously delivered from Egypt by the mighty hand of God. Journeying through the wilderness, they come under attack from the Amalekites, a brutal and warlike nomadic tribe.
After 400 years of living as slaves, fighting a war was not something in the skill set of the Israelites. Under God’s direction, Moses assigned Joshua to marshal a band of soldiers from this fearful bunch. Meanwhile, Moses stationed himself on top of a hill overlooking the armies below. In his hand, he held the staff he used to strike the Nile, and God parted the waters saving his people. It was the same staff with which he had struck the rock at Horeb, and life-giving water flowed, enough for all the people.
Clearly, this battle was an unusual one. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel would win, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek would gain the advantage. As the hours wore on, Moses’ arms grew weary. So his brother Aaron and another man named Hur stood beside him, one on either side and held his arms steady. So together, Moses was able to hold the rod of God high until the sun set. That day, the people of Israel won an overwhelming victory over Amalek and his people. Talk about an unexpected upset!
This was a moment Moses wanted the Israelites to remember for a lifetime. There was no doubt as to who the true Victor of this battle was. Exodus 17:15 reads, “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, ‘The Lord Is My Banner.’” It was to remind them that though they were weaker than their enemies, God would forever be their refuge and strength.
The New Testament describes our lives as believers as athletes in a race or as soldiers in battle. And as Christ-followers, we have a banner that goes before us, the King of Kings. In his name, we are identified and united. In the battles and struggles of life, we look to him as a rallying point, our place of strength, safety, and direction. The banner of the Lord is not a mere symbol; it is a promise of strength, power, and salvation. And the insignia on this banner is love.
So, are you feeling a little on the weak side considering the obstacles before you? Let us run to our God, our divine rallying point; and there find all we need to be victorious in his power and might and for his glory.
Under his banner of love,
Marti
 
2.8.2018

 

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Geoff Grant, Northpoint’s Worship Director.

Why Choir?

Hello Family,

Last fall, the Northpoint elders made the decision to apply some philosophical changes to the Northpoint Choir (for a summary of those changes, click here). Since then, the Northpoint Choir has been gathering and working to apply this philosophy. In leading the choir last season, I experienced a joyful community of singers who exude a vibrancy in worship and a zeal for remembering and celebrating the gospel as we spent time tuning our hearts and tuning our voices to serve the congregation in corporate worship.

Well, amidst these changes, I have had several thought-provoking and encouraging conversations. Often coming from people who have noticed the change in choir philosophy, these conversations could often be summed up with the question: “What then, is the purpose of the choir?” Before I answer, I have to say that I personally love choir. I love the sound of voices in harmony, dissonance, unity. Given that, I want to try to be objective in painting a vision for choir, as I am tempted to mix in my own love.

I am reminded of a passage in Nehemiah after the Israelites finish building the wall. Ezra and Nehemiah build up two choirs to lead the people of Jerusalem in singing God’s praise. The Hebrew phrase here that translates to choir is also often also translated as the company of them that gave great thanks. Ezra and Nehemiah each follow a different group of singers to different sections of the wall to “offer great sacrifices and rejoice, for God had made them rejoice with great joy… and the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”

I love the phrase, the company of them that gave great thanks, (as clunky as that is), and I love what that presses on our philosophy of choir. See, when we gather every week to study God’s Word together, we sing songs and hymns, pray together, collect the offering, fellowship, etc., we, the whole church, are this company of them that give great thanks. We gather to rejoice and to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice that has been made on our behalf: Christ. God has made us to rejoice; he has restored us! In a sense, the entire church body is the choir. We gather week after week to proclaim and celebrate our gracious God. We gather to feast on Christ, to place his selfless love before us, and to embrace his righteousness and acceptance as our true identity.

But what does this have to do with the Northpoint Choir? Okay, I’m getting there. But first some clarifying points.

The Special Song

Hebrews 10 tells us that the only pleasing offering to God is Christ. No works we do, no ritual we frequent, no beautiful song we sing is a worthy offering to God. The ultimate purpose of the choir is not to, in some way, contribute a fragrant offering of music to the Lord. When the choir sings a song for the congregation’s listening, that practice, in and of itself, is not what is glorifying to God. What is glorifying to God in this scenario? The hearts of those both singing and listening, contemplating the sacrifice of Christ, confessing their need for Christ, opening themselves to Christ, surrendering their priorities, desires, preferences, schedules, and relationships, etc., all to the lordship of Christ, is glorifying to God. This is the highest value of a special song. 

Beautiful Music

It is important to remember that God is not interested in how beautiful our music worship sounds. In fact, he is explicit to say, “Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters. And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” God is interested in our hearts, not our beautiful music. One could make an argument that God values beauty, which is demonstrated in his creative character (Genesis 1) and his attention to aesthetic detail (Exodus 25-30). But in the economy of new covenant, Christ-purchased, corporate worship, the values are different. It isn’t the beauty of our praise, but rather the brokenness of our praise that is a delight to God. So we can rule out that the purpose is to make our worship more beautiful or better for God.

“Well That Was Lovely”

Further, when the choir does something outside of leading corporate singing, like a reflective or devotional song, its end is not met in merely filling a time gap, or offering a moment of pleasant listening. What does the song point to? Our hope is that it will merely stir our affection for God. If it is beautiful, let us rejoice in God’s beauty. If it is difficult and dissonant, let us reflect on the fallenness of the world and give voice to our need for God. If it is thought-provoking, let our thoughts dwell on the ineffably gracious mind of Christ.

Ancient Future 

The Northpoint Choir does not exist merely to maintain a tradition. Rather, we remember, cherish, and honor the past, embrace and celebrate what the Holy Spirit is doing in the present, and eagerly anticipate what the Spirit will do in the future. I have been so encouraged by our corporate worship and the choir’s faithfulness in leading us. I am excited and ardently anticipating what the Spirit has in store as we continue forward in this new season.

To best understand the purpose of our Northpoint Choir, it is helpful to call to mind the purpose of our corporate gathering. In brevity, we gather corporately to:

  • Dwell in the proclamation of God’s Word
  • Confess our need for Christ
  • Remind each other of the gospel
  • Express our thanksgiving for Christ
  • Unify our hearts, in Christ
  • Encourage one another, in Christ
  • Celebrate our union with Christ

Another way it could be said is this: “We sing corporately to form our love for God and to be formed by our love for God.” – Isaac Wardell

At it’s finest, the Northpoint Choir will simply lead us into this celebration. It will aid in pointing the gathered congregation to Christ. The choir is a set group of brothers and sisters who sing with us on Sundays, whilst embracing this understanding of corporate worship. The choir will hunger and thirst for Christ and encourage the gathered body to do the same. Everything the choir does will ideally conform to these ends. Now, we will fail at this, as our flesh loves to impose its own will. I will fail at leading in this, as I can scarcely go minutes without sinning; my need for Christ is equally present on the table as everyone else—and THAT is the point! My hope and prayer for the choir is that God will build a community of singers and Christ-lovers who will be quick to praise, quick to confess, quick to repent, and quick to give thanks.

YOU have the opportunity to be a part of this community! Would you consider joining the Northpoint Choir?

Perhaps, you’re reading this saying, “I don’t think I’m quite there; I might be too proud or too opinionated to lead in this kind of gathering.” Well, if you are actually thinking something like that, you’re probably the perfect person to sing in the choir. Why? Because you’re proud and opinionated? No, everyone is proud and opinionated. What we desire are brothers and sisters who see their sin, recognize their need for Christ, and who want to invite others to do the same.

This season, the choir will rehearse for four Wednesdays (6:30 p.m.-8:15 p.m.), will lead corporate singing for three Sundays, and will lead the congregation in the Good Friday service. If you are interested in joining the Northpoint Choir, please send an email to me (Geoff Grant) at ggrant@northpointcorona.org.

In him,

Geoff

2.1.2018

Waiting is the Hardest Part

Hello Family,

Not long ago, Jenine and I walked into a local Jack in the Box, and we were surprised to see a separate kiosk from which a patron could order if he didn’t want to wait in line to talk to an actual person. (I know what you’re thinking: What possessed you to eat lunch at Jack in the Box? I’d have an easier time explaining the Trinity than answering that question.)

But this is a fast-growing trend. I just read an article this week in USA Today that revealed McDonald’s plans to open 1,000 new restaurants worldwide, and many will be equipped with self-service ordering systems.

Now, I’m not against expeditious food service or line-free ordering, but I do fear that our natural proclivity toward impatience is being pumped with steroids because, in part, of the speed at which we get the things we want. We are so used to pushing a button or even just making a voice command, and we are instantly accommodated.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m no Luddite. There are plenty of incredible benefits of technology. With Bluetooth, for example, I can call a friend, search for a song on my iPhone, and probably even take a selfie, all while driving (for the record, I’ve never tried the latter).

But here’s what’s happened: we have amalgamated so many cultural values to our everyday lives—one of those values being speed—that it’s become almost impossible for us to wait. For anything. And we want in the spiritual domain exactly what we have in the technological domain: instant gratification.

We’re not interested in persisting. And we’re certainly not interested in discipline.

Well, prayer is a discipline. It takes focus and patience. Martin Luther called prayer “the hardest work of all,” because it’s a spiritual act, done in the spiritual realm, where real, intense battles take place.

That said—at the risk of sounding melodramatic—tonight we go to war. Tonight we engage in spiritual battle, appealing to the Lord to hear us and answer our prayers. It will take effort and focus, but we believe that God will attend to our pleas.

Will you join us at 7:00 p.m., in Heritage Hall? It’s a small investment (only one hour), but the reward could be incredible because “we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:14-15).

See you tonight,

Pastor John

 
1.25.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Scott Williams, Northpoint’s Pastor of Adults and Families.

A Clean Heart

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” – Psalm 51:10-12

Hello Church Family,

This past week, I just happened to go on a long walk by myself on Tuesday night. There was the need to get some exercise, and also the need to just get away with the Lord. As I walked and talked with the Lord, listening to music on my iPhone, a playlist brought up “Create in me a Clean Heart” by Keith Green, that wonderful Christian singer from the 70s and 80s.My first thought was: Wow, this is an old song! But as I listened to Keith sing the words of Scripture, based on Psalm 51, I was immediately flooded with memories of a younger me. The first time the power of these lyrics hit me, I was singing the song in youth group (yep, that dates me a bit). Back then, there was such honesty in Green’s confession for needing a “clean heart,” a “right Spirit,” and to have the “joy of salvation” restored to him. As I walked last week, I remembered those times in youth group when I first trusted in Christ, first realized the depth of my sinfulness, and the first time I experienced the joy that only Christ can give. Those lyrics were part of what drew me to the Lord, and one of the reasons may be that we sang the song over and over again. It seemed like every time we met, we had to sing it, but even so, God used it to shape me and draw me to himself.

Now, fast-forward a few decades later, and the words from “Create in me a Clean Heart,” still resonate with me today, perhaps more so, as I now know Keith Green drew them from the original author, King David, in Psalm 51. David is described as being a man after God’s own heart. He walked many years with the Lord, and yet, he still struggled with sin and discouragement; he needed his joy restored. He was also prone to going his own way, living for himself, and seeking comfort in temporary pleasures. What a reminder this is, that no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, our heart still needs a good cleaning from harboring attitudes of self-reliance, finding comfort in other places, and seeking other joys. I know that can be true of me. Too often, I can come home and want to be left alone to watch the news, surf the Internet, or just decompress. Thinking that these temporary escapes will somehow restore and refresh me is certainly not true. When I give an honest assessment of myself, I see someone who all too often, works, parents, plans, leads, and relates out of a spirit of self-reliance and self-centeredness. As a result, I am left exhausted, frustrated, irritable, and sometimes joyless.

The verses from Psalm 51 offer hope. David penned them knowing full well, that God would not cast him aside, but would, in fact, restore to him the joy of his salvation. I am reminded every time I read or sing these words, that our God is faithful to redeem and restore those of us with dirty hearts. There is no greater joy than the joy that comes from being in God’s presence. What great words of hope: “restore unto me the JOY of your salvation.” They describe the total blessing and the intimate and personal relationship with the Lord. They describe a relationship that will uphold each of us in our struggle with sin and self-reliance.

So if you don’t have Keith Green on your playlist, then shame on you! Not really. But take some time this week to ask God to do his cleaning work in your life and to restore the joy that comes from being a child of the King.

In Him,

Pastor Scott

1.18.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Pastor Brent Whitefield, Northpoint’s Pastor of Missions and Outreach.

Why Human Life is Important to God

Hello Church Family,

This week, we will commemorate Sanctity of Life Sunday, affirming our stand for the dignity and worth of human life, and against the practice of abortion. The sanctity of human life is, of course, something that we should and do celebrate every week as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. But what are some specific ways that we can participate as we reflect on the sanctity of life this Sunday?
Pray:
The most important thing that we as Christians can do is to pray. We need to pray for a revival in our land that will bring people to Christ, and in changing their hearts, give them a new concern and care for the unborn. We need to pray for our political leaders, who have it in their power to make changes, to pass God-honoring laws that protect the most vulnerable in our society. Pray for those who participate, one way or another, in the abortion industry to repent and seek forgiveness from God. Pray that the day will come when abortion will be so uncommon that a sanctity of life Sunday will no longer be necessary.Support:
Secondly, we should support the work of places, such as Corona Life Services, who offer a Christian alternative to abortion. Organizations like CLS are under tremendous pressure to water down their life-giving message to comply with godless government directives. Pray that they will have the courage to stand up for their convictions, and the ability to continue to operate with the spirit of Christ. Pray that the families with whom they interact will not only turn away from abortion but turn to Christ as Savior. We can also support them financially, through attendance at events and fundraisers, and with volunteer hours.Act:
As Christians, we can be agents for change through participation in the political process, organizing and attending marches and rallies, raising awareness about the cause. We should not be silent on an issue that is so near and dear to the heart of God. We should be thankful that through political advocacy, abortion has become more restricted in many states over the last few years, and the total number of abortions has been going down. We can hope that through continued, concerted action, the tide may turn decisively against abortion in our land. But our advocacy should not stop at the condemnation of abortion. We must also help with the alternatives. Namely, we should be at the forefront of advocacy for adoption, the most attractive alternative to abortion. Christians should adopt children themselves, support Christian adoption agencies, and provide support for adopting families. Recognizing that we ourselves have been adopted into God‘s family, we must always treat adopted children as first-class citizens in our midst.As we take time to reflect on the sanctity of life this Sunday, let us remember why human life is important to God: because we were fearfully and wonderfully made in his image, and reflect, however imperfectly, his glory. In upholding life, we glorify God, which is, after all, the chief end of man.

In Him,

Pastor Brent

1.11.2018
This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Marti Wiegman, Northpoint’s Director of Women’s Ministries.
 
Who Do You Say Jesus Is?
 
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
Last Sunday evening at the Golden Globes Awards, Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. Her impassioned and inspiring acceptance speech had the audience on their feet and the national media buzzing about a potential presidential run.
 
There was a lot to admire in Oprah’s speech, but there was one thing she said that really caught my attention. She made the comment that, “speaking YOUR truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” as if truth is a personal thing—you have your truth and I have my truth. That might sound good but it’s not sound thinking.
 
Sadly, this concept has found its way into the church. A number of years ago, the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life published a major study on religious beliefs and practices in the United States. One of the more significant finds was:
 
• 70 percent of all Americans believe that many religions can lead to eternal life.
But perhaps the most surprising discovery was:
• 56 percent of all evangelical Christians believe that many paths, other than faith in Christ, lead to God and eternal life.
 
More recently, LifeWay Research at the request of Ligonier Ministries (founded by R. C. Sproul) conducted a similar study with more stringent criteria. The study singled out those who called the Bible their highest authority, who said personal evangelism is important, and who indicated that trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross is the only way of salvation.
• Yet nearly 50 percent agreed that “God accepts the worship of all religions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.”
 
The author of the article reporting on this LifeWay study made this observation: “The most striking thing is how many of these folks evidently see no contradiction between their casual universalism and the evangelical creed that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.” (G. Shane Morris, “The Federalist,” October 10, 2016, “Survey Finds Most American Christians are Actually Heretics”)
 
In our society today, it seems so progressive to be accepting of everyone’s truth. But Romans 1 warns that when we reject God’s truth for our own ideas, proclaiming how wise and sophisticated we are, we actually become fools. It’s important to hold to a sound understanding of what truth is, including the related reality that opposing ideas can’t both be true.
 
For example, we all understand that you can’t say two plus two equals four, but also equals five and nine and sometimes 23. In the same way, you cannot bring contradictory statements of faith together and say that they are all true:
 
• Hindus believe there are hundreds of thousands of gods.
• Buddhists will tell you there is no personal God who can be known at all.
• Muslims believe in Allah, but he is not the God of Scripture, and they deny the death and resurrection of Christ.
 
Obviously many churchgoers today still think that there is room for more in heaven than Christ followers—for God-seeking people who do good and help others, whatever they call themselves. The Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Mormon, or just the nice guy next door who likes the idea that God and heaven exist but doesn’t believe much more. Certainly, a loving God wouldn’t do anything so horrible as to send good people to hell just because they put their faith in a power by another name than Jesus Christ.
 
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he called out in agony to his Father, “If there is any way for this cup to pass from me, spare me.” And God sent an angel to encourage and strengthen him to endure the cross he had to face. Why? Because there WAS no other way, and there IS no other name, whereby we can be saved.
 
In Women of the Word, we have been studying through the book of Luke. This past week, we looked at chapter nine where Jesus turns to his disciples and asks them life’s most important question: “Who do you say that I am?”
 
Peter speaks up on behalf of the team and answers, “You are the Christ, the Messiah sent by God to be our Savior.” That’s the only right answer. Because Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life.
 
So let me ask you: Who do you say that Jesus is? It’s a question we all must answer, and that answer will impact us for eternity.
 
Let’s stand firm in God’s truth, in our hearts, in our church, and in our community. This is the truth—the good news: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in HIM should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
 
Living together in truth,
 
Marti
 
The rest of NP News for 1.11.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

 

1.4.2018

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Tamene Menna, Northpoint’s Pastoral Assistant. Tamene holds a PhD from Talbot. He and his wife, Tigist, have three children: daughter Lelena, and sons Liam and Lucian.

Praying Together

Hello Family,

I grew up in Ethiopia, which is located in eastern part of Africa, also known as the “horn of Africa.” Ethiopia was a communist country for about 17 years. Many of the churches during that time were underground fellowships where Christians were harshly persecuted by the communist government. During these trials, the Christians met and prayed together for hours. Through corporate prayer, those Christians received the strength to remain faithful to Christ in the face of persecution and trial. Under similar circumstances, corporate prayer was central in the life of the church in the first century. The early Christians used to worship and pray together in the temple, in the synagogue, and in their house churches. Prayer matters individually and as a church body—we pray because we believe God is at work!

Speaking of praying together, one of the things I love about our church is it’s commitment to prayer. It has been a great joy for me to pray together with brothers and sisters in Christ who are passionate about seeking the Lord in prayer. The upcoming all-church prayer meeting (see below), led by Pastor John, is one of those holy places where we come together as one body to intercede for one another, our church, our ministries, and community.

Opportunities for prayer include:
• Church prayer meeting on Mondays @ 6 p.m.
• Pre-service prayer meetings on Sundays @ 8 a.m.
• Women’s prayer gathering on Wednesdays @ 11:45 a.m.
• Hour of Prayer, February 1 @ 7:00 p.m., Heritage Hall

I would like to invite you to join us!

In him,

Tamene

The rest of NP News for 1.4.2018 can be found on the “This Week” page at https://www.northpointcorona.org/this-week/

12.28.2017

A New Year’s Prayer

Hello Family,

A little over a week ago, Jenine and I went shopping to buy Christmas gifts for our four children.  Our goal was to start and finish this (daunting) task in one day, even if it meant staying out late to do so. When we arrived at our first destination, the Tyler Mall in Riverside, Jenine asked me, “Where do you want to begin? Do you want to start in a men’s section and try to find something for Quinn and Luke?” My immediate response was, “Where’s our list?” Jenine said, “You know how hard it is to shop for teenagers; I don’t have a list. Hopefully, we’ll see something that we think they’ll like.” I then replied, rather curtly, I’m sure, “Without a list, I have no idea where to even begin.” (I apologized later for my rudeness.)

I’m a list-maker. This is how my brain works. Writing things down helps me think with greater clarity and remain focused. This is one reason that I sometimes write out my prayers.

To be sure, God desires our unrehearsed and unguarded communion with him. As John Bunyan once wrote, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.” I echo those sentiments. However, if we’re not careful, we can get in a rut and neglect some of the key elements of biblical prayer (e.g., worship, thanksgiving, confession, supplication).

Biblical prayer should be both spontaneous and planned. Heartfelt and prepared. Sometimes we cry out to God when we don’t know what to say and trust that the Spirit of God will intercede for us, which he does (Romans 8:26). But on other occasions, it’s beneficial to write out our prayers or even pray through words that others have penned, such as the Puritan collection, Valley of Vision, or Kenneth Boa’s Praying Through the Scriptures. Written prayers help us to focus on what matters most to God.

With that in mind, I’ve included below the prayer that I prayed this morning. Rooted in and enriched by the aforementioned Valley of Vision collection, it is both a guide and a sample of one way to write out our prayers. I’ve changed the pronoun ‘I’ to the plural ‘we’ so that we can pray it together, even while we are in separate locations.

May God stir within our church in 2018 a greater dependence on him and richer joy in him than we have yet to experience.

In Him,

Pastor John 

Our Father,

We come to you now in desperate need of your sustaining power and endless grace. We have been hasty and short in our private prayer; we have been quick to rely on our own strength and planning; we have subtly moved you to the periphery. Awaken our hearts to feel this folly; to rue this lack of understanding of you and of ourselves.

Our first sin of the day, our insistence on autonomy, leads to many others: the neglect of those around us who are in need, the presumption that we are justified in our thoughts and actions, a lack of love for our neighbor, and worst of all, a lack of love for you.

Our reliance on our strength has led to countless failures on our part. Lord, help us. Keep us this morning from robbing you of the worship you desire, and of which you are alone worthy. Keep us this morning from having lofty notions of ourselves, while entertaining thoughts of you that are mundane, and ordinary. Keep us this morning from giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt, while questioning your every motive. Keep us this morning from praising you with our mouths, while remaining spiritually aloof and disconnected.

With our voices we sing praises to you, and with our mouths we proclaim you as Lord, but our hearts are slow to feel. Gratitude eludes us.

Father, forgive us as we have dishonored you with our priorities, allowing our minds to be captivated by temporal things, while remaining unmoved at thoughts of your kindness. Your holiness. Your salvation.

May we never forget that you have our souls in your hands. You uphold us by your strong right hand. You give us everything we need, and indeed, so much more than we deserve.

Remind us of your unfailing love. Impress upon our minds the merits of Christ’s atoning work for our sin. Enable us to believe. Grant that through the lens of repentance we may see more clearly the beauty and sufficiency of the cross. Let your mercies draw us to yourself. Cause us, by your grace, to long for your coming.

Father, enable us to rest in this: to all who confess their sins to you, you are faithful and just to forgive. This is our assurance: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ; in Christ, we are free indeed. When you forgive, you remove our offenses as far as the East is from the West. For those who trust in you alone, nothing shall separate us from your love: not trials, nor victories, not failures, not successes, neither valleys nor mountaintops. For you keep us for yourself.

Be our portion. Give us more grace. Stir our souls to trust only in you. There is no peace so rich as to rest in the finished work of Jesus, the only one through whom we dare approach you, and the one in whose name we pray. Amen.

12.21.2017

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Taylor Mendoza, Northpoint’s Director of Students Ministries

Does the Bible tell One Story?

Hello Family,

In the fall of 2012, I was a freshman in the Bachelors of Applied Theology program at California Baptist University, where I experienced an awakening. One of my professors consistently used the word, meta-narrative when he referred to the Old Testament’s story arc. The phrase meta-narrative literally means master story or the biggest story.

My professor told us that the Bible tells one cohesive story from Genesis to Revelation. Even though there are many stories captured in the 66 individual books in our Bible, God was telling us one story. Much like Sauron’s Ring of Power in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, my professor argued that there was “one story to rule them all.” For example, it is not a coincidence that the biblical story starts in a garden (Genesis 1) and ends in a garden-city (Revelation 22).

Today among theologians, the idea of a master story is all the rage. They are wrestling with the question: Does the Bible tell One Story? The answer is an enthusiastic yes! The Bible was written by a myriad of human authors ranging from Moses to Paul. Yet, at the same time, 2 Peter tells us that no human author wrote on his own. The Holy Spirit inspired these men to tell one cohesive story (2 Peter 1:19-21). You could say that the Bible has one Divine Author, namely God himself.

Beginning to look at the Bible as one story may help you put your Bible together. It may cause you to see things that you may have never seen before. It takes your Bible reading from black and white to Technicolor. It brings clarity and shape to your understanding of who God is; what He is doing; and where this world will end up. Understanding the big story is the secret to finding Jesus in the Old Testament. And it is the hinge on which you can understand all of world history.

My modest yet revolutionizing proposal for you is this: Try Reading the Bible as one big story. Today, most theologians are in agreement that the one big story is “God’s wonderful plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.” Kevin Deyoung, who has written an excellent children’s book on this topic called, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher brings us back to the Garden, begins in Genesis and moves to Revelation painting a picture that explains the beauty and power of Christ in all the Bible. His book is highly recommended and a must-read for this upcoming Christmas morning.

Another way to think about this master story is to divide the Bible into four major chapters. Chapter 1 is Creation. Chapter 2 is The Fall. Chapter 3 is Redemption. Chapter 4 is Consummation. This was wonderfully displayed and masterfully articulated in our recent Choir Christmas Concert. The Christmas season is all about entering into God’s chapter of redemption.

Creation (Chapter 1)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth (Genesis 1:1). God is the creator of both the natural and supernatural world. God has always existed in perfect love (Ephesians 1:1) and has always been one, yet distinct in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God spoke and out of nothing the world came into being. He created man and woman in his image (Genesis 1:28) and gave them a purpose best articulated in the Westminster Confession: To glorify God (by) enjoying him forever. Adam and Eve enjoyed God with personal interaction and unhindered praise. God dwelt among his creation without separation or void.

Fall (Chapter 2)
Yet, despite all the wonders of creation, our first parents disobeyed God and exchanged the glory of God, for their own glory (Genesis 3). They were removed from the Garden of Eden, death entered the world, the relationship between Creator and creation was severed, and humanity no longer enjoyed God by glorifying him. Since then, not a single person has avoided sin, but rather all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23). Paradise was lost. The wages of sin was death (Romans 6:23). Hell, along with eternal punishment, destruction, and banishment are the result (Revelation 19-20). And now all of creation groans inwardly longing for some sort of redemption (Romans 8).

Redemption (Chapter 3)
But God being rich in mercy and because of his great love, poured out his grace by bringing good news to those who have fallen (Ephesians 2). God has provided a way of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The perfect Son, the perfect solution, the perfect man would die a gruesome and humiliating death on a cross in order to redeem that which was lost (John 3:16; Col. 2:9; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ has paid our debt, he took our punishment as our substitute, and he became our blood sacrifice washing us clean. The snake crusher crushed the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:18-20) and bought at the price of his own blood his chosen people.

Consummation (Chapter 4)
The ultimate gift of such a redemption is the promise that we get God back. We are reconciled to God (Colossians 1:21-22). In the near future, all of heaven and earth will sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy. Worthy is the Lamb who was Slain!” All of God’s people from every tribe, language, nation, and country will stand together in worship to their great God (Revelation 7). And God will wipe away every tear, make all enemies his footstool, and create a new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22). Best of all, we will dwell with him again and we will see his face.

As you read your Bible ask yourself the question: How does what I am reading fit into the biggest story? What chapter am I in? Now, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ illuminate the Scriptures for you in such a way that you glorify him even more.

Merry Christmas!

Taylor

11.26.2017

This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Scott Williams, Northpoint’s Pastor of Adults and Families.

‘Tis the Season to Be … Busy!

Let me ask you a question: Have you, in the last few days, weeks, or months, been tempted to answer the question of “How are you?” with the answer, “I’m doing good, but things are just really busy”? In today’s culture, busyness is almost seen as a sign of value. The notion is the busier you are the more important you must be. But let me just suggest to you that in our business, we can actually be robbing ourselves of some of the spiritual and relational fruit God wants us to receive.

When Jesus taught the parable of the sower, he made a very vital observation about how the things in our schedules can choke out our spiritual lives (Mark 4:1-20). In this parable, the sower threw seed, which represents the Word, on different types of soil, which represent the state of people’s hearts. One of the soils where the seed falls seems to be good and the seed even begins to grow until the thorns come. They make quick work of the new sprout and choke it out and it yields no fruit. In verses 18-19, Jesus says: “And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” The worries of this world, and the desire for more and more things can have a devastating effect on our spiritual lives. Most of us in the church won’t fall prey to rank apostasy or heresy, but we all could be derailed by the worries that life may bring, and the desire to find our happiness in material things.

Pastor Kevin Deyoung, author of Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, in remarking on this passage says it well: “Jesus knows what he’s talking about. As much as we must pray against the Devil and pray for the persecuted church, in Jesus’ thinking the greater threat to the gospel is sheer exhaustion. Busyness kills more Christians than bullets. How many sermons are stripped of their power by lavish dinner preparations and professional football? How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still enough to learn from them? How many times of private and family worship have been crowded out by soccer and school projects? We need to guard our hearts. The seed of God’s Word won’t grow to fruitfulness without the pruning of rest, quiet, and calm.”

So as we enter into this glorious (but busy) Christmas season, let’s make sure we take time to let the seed of the Word sink a little deeper into our hearts. The adage, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” isn’t just a cute rejoinder, but it is what we need to remember and reflect upon. Not only do we need to remember that he is the reason for this season, but that he is the reason for every season. Let us continue to take time from our busyness to taste and see that the Lord is good.

Fighting busyness isn’t an easy task and it often takes the help and encouragement of other believers. That’s why this spring, all of our Growth Groups are going to be encouraged to read Kevin Deyoung’s aforementioned book. His work isn’t a “how to” on becoming less busy, but a needed explanation of the reorientation our hearts need to make as we fight against the dangers of life’s busyness. So be on the lookout mid-January in the Northpoint Foyer and pick up your copy of Crazy Busy.

By his grace,

Pastor Scott