Wednesday, September 24, 2003

QUOTE FOR TODAY (and an accompanying Bible passage): "The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer."(Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari)

"But be doers of [God's] word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in the mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act--they will be blessed in their doing." (James 1:22-25)
Looking for an inspiring speaker who tackles many life issues in a compelling, down-to-earth style? Looking for a motivator who can challenge your organization to be its best? Looking for an evangelist to cap your ministry group's outreach efforts? Consider inviting Mark Daniels to fill one of these roles for you. Contact Mark at
Here are some prayer requests and reminders that I've just shared with the people of our congregation...and now I'll share them with the rest of the web...

(1) Diane is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant procedure, beginning October 1. Pray for Diane's complete healing. Pray that God will encourage both her and her family during this time of great challenge.

(2) Continue to pray for Isaac, asking God to give him healing and to grant peace and guidance to his parents, Sheila and Matt, and their family as they deal with his situation. (By the way, Isaac is in kindergarten and loving it!)

(3) Pray for the people in Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C., who are still without electrical power in the wake of Hurricane Isabel. Ask God to grant peace and the hope of Jesus' resurrection to all who mourn their losses following this hurricane. Ask God also to help people to rebuild their lives, doing so on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ, in the wake of Isabel.

(4) Remember this coming Friday's 3N Party, happening at Friendship's church building, 1300 White Oak Road, Amelia, Ohio, from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M. We'll welcome Christian rock band, Star E11even (featuring our own Andrew Wood on guitar) and my brother, the comedian, Marty Daniels. (By the way, Marty is also now doing morning news reports for several radio stations nationwide, including one in Chicago.) Everybody is invited...bring your friends, especially those who don't usually go to church...they'll see Christ and the Church in a completely different light!

(5) We'll have another of our Wednesday night discussions of The Purpose Driven Life tonight, from 7:00 to 8:30 P.M. It happens at the church building, 1300 White Oak Road, Amelia, Ohio. These have been great, meaningful, and for me anyway, helpful discussions!

(6) Update: So far, we've received $2500.00 in pledges from other congregations toward hiring a part-time youth director (Tim Vogel) and a part-time music director (Kathy Luccasen) for Friendship in 2004. This represents 12.5% of the $20,000.00 to make this happen next year. I am really excited about that...and you can be too! We also recently received a $1500.00 Mission Festival offering from the congregation I formerly served in northwestern Ohio and I am going to recommend that Church Council designate this money for hiring a youth director and a music director next year. Continue to pray that God will incite the congregations we've approached to provide us with help in this effort. I firmly believe that filling these two positions will help jumpstart our outreach efforts in this community.

I want to thank the people of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Cincinnati and of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, near Okolona, Ohio, for their support of this new venture of faith!

(7) A number of people have expressed interest in becoming members of Friendship. We'll have a new members class on October 22, 29, and November 5, from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M. at the church building. If you'd like to be part of it, let me know. You'll get an overview of our basic beliefs and some information about the vision and mission of Friendship. So, long-time members might find it interesting too!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Looking for an inspiring speaker who tackles many life issues in a compelling, down-to-earth style? Looking for a motivator who can challenge your organization to be its best? Looking for an evangelist to cap your ministry group's outreach efforts? Consider inviting Mark Daniels to fill one of these roles for you. Contact Mark at
QUOTE FOR TODAY: "Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that's a tough call. That's rebellion."
--Alice Cooper, The London Sunday Times, found on a very cool web site:

Monday, September 22, 2003

Purpose Driven Living:
Fellowship, Loving Other Followers of Jesus
Romans 12:5
Matthew 12:46-50

[shared with the people of Friendship Church, September 21, 2003]

Not long ago, a woman named Adelina Dominguez died in San Diego. At the time of her death, she was thought to be the oldest living American, 114 years of age. Shortly before she died, she was asked by the Associated Press why she had lived so long. She said that it was all because of God. "I knew God had a purpose for my life," she said. No matter how long we may exist, we only truly live when we have a purpose.

Right now at Friendship, we’re exploring Purpose Driven Living, using Rick Warren’s wonderful book, The Purpose Driven Life as the framework for our worship, Sunday messages, and Wednesday evening discussion group. If you haven’t picked up your copy of the book, I encourage you to do so. Last week, we talked about God’s first purpose for our lives: to love and get to know God better. The simple word we use to describe this is worship. Today, we move onto God’s second purpose for us.

Back in the community where I served as pastor before coming here to start Friendship, a family–a mom and a dad and three teenage children, who were from another community far from us–received a sizable inheritance. With it, they bought a long-abandoned property in our area and there, began to manufacture and sell furniture. They lived close-by us for a long time before I met them. Still, I picked up snippets of information about them. When members of our congregation invited them to attend worship with us, they were politely and firmly rebuffed. I got reports of how the husband would sometimes impolitely lecture people on their spiritual inadequacies. When asked where he went to church, he replied that he didn’t need any church.

Finally, a few months later, one of the teenage family members stopped by my office for some reason and we talked. I learned that the family attended church in their living room each Sunday, with dad as worship leader and preacher. “We don’t need any other church. All the churches are corrupt. So, we have our own church and stay pure,” the boy told me. I asked a few questions and he warmed to his subject. “For example,” he asked me, “when you say the Lord’s Prayer, do you say ‘in earth as it is in heaven’ or do you say, ‘on earth as it is in heaven’?” When I told him that we said “on earth as it is in heaven,” he said, “That proves you’re corrupt too. The Greek in the New Testament says ‘in earth.’” I explained to him that I had taken Greek and that the preposition to which he was referring–en in Greek–like many prepositions, could be translated in or on or several other ways. Besides, I asked, wasn’t he getting hung up on a minor point? “No,” he thundered, “that’s very important!” I tried again by pointing out that what the Bible says is of “first importance” is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, turning from our sins and receiving Him as God and Lord of our lives. But I got nowhere with the kid.

That encounter underscored something important. While it may be theoretically possible to be a solo follower of Jesus or for family groups to pursue their own independent way, it doesn’t seem to work in practice. Too often, when people decide to be their own church, something gets out of whack.

Jesus calls us not only to love God, but also to love our neighbor with the same intensity, passion, and commitment with which we love ourselves. By neighbor, Jesus means every other human being.

But if we never learn to love the neighbors who are part of our church, how in the world will we ever love those who don’t share Christ with us? The church is God's learning lab in which He teaches His followers how to follow Him, including how to love others.

This leads to God’s second purpose for us all: to love our fellow believers in Jesus. This is what the Bible calls fellowship.

Jesus gives us some notion of what our fellowship is to be like in one of our Bible lessons today. As the lesson opens, hostility and hatred toward Jesus is rising. The good church-going religious folks of first-century Judea are sharpening their knives, looking for a way to kill Jesus off. It must have frightened Jesus’ earthly family, His mother and His brothers. They’d heard the reports about His ministry and about the plots on His life. One day, they show up in the community where Jesus was preaching, teaching, and healing. Perhaps hoping to “talk some sense” into Jesus or maybe wanting to grab Him and cart Him off to a safe place, they stand aloof from where He speaks with His followers– His disciples–and a crowd of other listeners

Somebody in the crowd tells Jesus that His family is waiting to talk with Him. Our Bible lesson tells us:

"But to the one who had told Him this, Jesus replied, 'Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?' And pointing to His disciples, He said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.'"

You see, when Jesus calls us to be in relationship with Him, He calls us also to be in relationship with His Church.

There’s a good reason for this. A Scottish pastor was concerned because a once-active participant in the life of His congregation hadn’t worshiped or been involved in any ministry of the congregation for some time. So, he rode out to the man’s farmhouse one evening. The man invited the pastor in and they sat down in the living room before a cozy fire. They talked about anything and everything. In the midst of their conversation, the pastor stood up, grabbed some tongs, pulled out an ember, bright yellow, and then set the ember down on the brick in front of the fireplace. Then he just sat down and proceeded to talk with the man.

As the conversation wore on, the once-hot ember lost its spark and faded to grey. The man saw this and looked at the pastor. “All right, pastor. I’ll see you on Sunday.” In the Church, there will be times when we rub each other the wrong way. That’s to be expected. As someone said, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.” But we need the support, inspiration, encouragement, and even the correction and the confrontation that we encounter when we dare to get up close and personal with other believers in Jesus.

I found that when I was growing up, there was nobody who aggravated me more than my brother and sisters. But there was also nobody I loved more. Jesus puts us with a family of brothers and sisters so that through the challenge of committed relationships, we learn to love Him and others.

In his book, Rick Warren identifies four elements of fellowship with other believers: (1) There’s membership. That means we belong to one another. That’s what Paul is talking about in our other Bible lesson for today. We are, he says, members of one another. We’re one body, Christ’s body the Bible says, and He wants to use each one of us to encourage each other and to help each of us become all that God made us to be. There’s friendship in which we make a commitment to love, no matter what. Another passage in the New Testament says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” There’s partnership. This is when we make a commitment to serve one another and to serve the world together. The result of partnership, the Bible says, is that the “whole body”–the Church–is “healthy and growing and full of love.” Finally, there’s kinship. That’s devotion to one another.

To fulfill God’s second purpose for our lives–fellowship, we need to be committed to more than just showing up on Sunday mornings or to pleasant chit chat over coffee and cookies.

Fellowship entails investing ourselves in the lives of other members of our congregation. Friendship Church, though certainly far from megachurch status, is already too big for us to enjoy intense fellowship with every other member. But the next time there’s a small group Bible study or a group getting together to do something else that Jesus calls us to do, promise yourself that no matter what the personal investment, you’ll get involved and be committed to knowing and caring about the other group members. That’s how God helps us grow as believers who depend on Him and grow as lovers of God and neighbor.

In the movie, The Lord of the Rings, there’s a scene in which the main character, Frodo, decides that he must proceed on his quest without his friends. The loyal Sam discovers Frodo already launched out in a boat. “Frodo, no!,” he cries, “Frodo! Mr. Frodo!” “Go back, Sam,” Frodo replies, “I’m going to Mordor alone.” “Of course you are,” Sam says, “and I’m coming with you.” At this, with Frodo still paddling away from shore, Sam begins wading toward Frodo. Frodo is appalled; he knows that Sam can’t swim. When Sam’s head goes below water, Frodo cries out for his loyal friend. He gets to where Sam went underwater and pulls him out. Choking from the water in his lungs, Sam tells Frodo, “I made a promise Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to. I don’t mean to.”

Jesus has promised all who believe in Him that He will never leave us. One of the ways in which He fulfills that promise is by placing ever Jesus-follower in a church in which we can care for each other, listen to one another, encourage one another, and challenge one another in the Name of Jesus Christ. God’s second purpose for every human life is to be part of His family, the Church, and to live in deep, committed fellowship with them. Let’s commit ourselves to doing just that!

[The first reference I found to the true story of Adelina Dominguez appears in a sermon by Pastor Ken Albright of Damascus Friends Church in Damascus, Ohio. However, I also ran into it in several other sermons explicating this second purpose God has for us. So, I surmise their source is material created by Pastor Rick Warren and Saddleback Valley Church.]