Pastor Steve Rains' Blog
One of the joys of pasturing is being able to go to the hospital shortly after a mother has delivered a precious life into this world! There is something wondrous about gazing into the face of a baby. Lungs that are inhaling and exhaling for the first time! Eyes that are trying to focus and adjust to the newness of light! The parents absorbing the reality that life will be very different for them now on.
All around us are signs of life, because all around us are the finger prints of God, and wherever God is, there is life! The challenge in seeing life is that all around us there is death too, because the wages of sin is death. I guess the question we must ask is what are we seeing? What are we focusing on death or life? Which brings oxygen to your being, and hope for you future? Without a doubt it is life! This week choose life in all you do. In your relationships! In your struggles! In your conflicts! Life wins!
Next Sunday (10/2) from 2:30 to 3:30 at 21st Street (Outback Steakhouse to Wannamaker) I encourage you to participate in Life Chain. Life Chain is a peaceful and prayerful public witness of pro-life individuals standing for 60 minutes praying for our nation and for an end to abortion. It is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.
Light For The Lost Banquet – You have until tomorrow to register for the Light for the Lost Banquet (Tuesday, October 4, at 7 pm). A great steak dinner will be served - $5 for adults, $2.50 for children 6 and under. Call the church to RSVP!
We are just 5 days away from hosting the Willow Creek Leadership Summit at TFA. It is an incredible two day venture into high octane leadership development and personal growth that none of us should miss. Life isn't about remaining where you are, it is about pressing on and multiplying who you are. If you have not yet registered I want you to do so. To all you TFA'ers who haven't registered yet, let me just shout out to you that you can still get a super great rate! Just contact the church office, and we will get you set-up. Have a great Saturday, and we will see tomorrow. If you are looking for a church home and live in the Topeka area come and join us tomorrow at 8:15 or 10:30!
Grace to you,
There are many of us within Topeka First that know individuals or families that has been personally affected by the devastation that occurred in Joplin, Missouri. Yesterday afternoon I spent some time on the phone with a pastor from Oswego that is helping to coordinate meal teams to come in and serve the workers that are so diligently giving of themselves during this time of massive need. If you are interested in going to Joplin to serve either on a meal team or construction team please respond back to me as soon as possible. Convoy of Hope, the disaster relief arm of the Assemblies of God is there offering aid. If you would like to make a donation I would encourage you to make it through them. Here is a link to help you to do that https://donate.convoyofhope.org/. Please be praying for the people of Joplin and the relief and rescue workers!
Impacting, encouraging, exciting, humbling, and optimistic – those are just a few of the words that I would use to describe what I have felt in my heart as TFA had the privileged of hosting Saturate Topeka. An outreach sponsored by the Kansas A/G youth department. Over 150 students from all over our state gave of themselves over their Spring Break to make an eternal difference in the life of their peers and our community. Last night Darin Stroud gave challenging message from 1 Kings 18, calling the students to be “All in.” 1 Kings 18 is the account of Elijah taking on the prophets of Baal. Intimidation and the unknown can be overwhelming. Elijah stood toe to toe with 450 prophets of Baal. Surely, looking into 900 eyeballs could cause you to second guess? But, when God has spoken and when your desire to be obedient to Him is greater than the number of eyes looking back at you really what do you have to lose? I want to encourage you as you begin your week to be courageous for Him. You never know how the Lord will show up! It was Jim Elliot who said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
This past Sunday we launched our "Welcome Campaign" here at the Blvd Campus. It is a remodel project that will benefit our foyer and south entrance of the church.
The plans look great and will tremedously enhance our facility. If you haven't heard what the plans entail let me briefly share it with you. A new canopy will be installed that will allow a vehicle to partially pull under it. New concrete will connect walkways on the south entrance and provide a gradual slope to the front door eliminating the current step. New doors and windows will be installed.
The foyer will gain an additional 400 square feet by removing office walls, this will allow for a smoother traffic flow, and provide a gathering place for people to connect with one another. The restrooms will be enlarged as well. The cost of the project is $150,000. As of Sunday we have over $52,000 pledged. We are 1/3 of the way there! I encourage you to prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you do to be a part of the "Welcome Campaign." Together we can accomplish this project together!
I hope if you were at church the past two week you took the opportunity to find a Life Group to join. There are over 30 groups to choose from. I am really excited for the group we are a part of to get up and going next week. It seems like forever since we have gotten together, and we have new folks to add to our group this time around too. If you are hosting a group I want to encourage you to continue to invite people to your group. Just the other day I was in conversation with someone new to our church that is interested in Life Groups and they were so grateful for receiving a personal invite from someone that is leading a group! Not sure if you want to get involved in a Life Group yet? Here is a great reason:
“Harvard researcher Robert Putnam notes that if you do not belong to any group but decide to join one, “you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half” (John Ortberg 2003).”
So there you go another reason to get connected to a Life Group, it isn't to late. Go to the www.topekafirst.com and click on the Do Life Together tab to look at all the different groups.
I arrived early this morning at the church. The purpose was twofold. The first mission was to send one of my boys on a Royal Rangers outing to Wichita. The other reason was simply to get some things done. But, it is that first reason that is sticking out to me this morning. I'm not sure how many boys went, but I do know they were excited! It is going to be a day of games, racing pinewood derby cars, and stopping at the Golden Arches (the requirement of every road trip)! I wish I could have gone, but it didn't work out. The men that did go are hero's in my book. Being willing to give a day to invest in the lives of their son, and the other boys that went is priceless. I'm wrapping up Tony Dungy's latest book on the Mentor Leader. There are some great thoughts in the book, and I would encourage you to read it because it is all about investing in people. Jesus boiled life down to two things - loving God, and loving people. Dungy gives 7 E's to enhancing peoples lives. I'm going to do my best to make them a part of my life, and I invite you to join me! Here they are:
- Engage - It's impossible to mentor from a distance. Without engagement, you cannot lead effectively.
- Educate - Workers who are new to a task cannot be empowered and elevated until they've been educated in what to to.
- Equip - Mentor leaders create an environment in which others can be productive and excel.
- Encourage - "Correction does much, but encouragement does more." -Goethe
- Energize - "Without inspiration, the best powers of the mind are dormant. There is a tinder in us which needs to be quickened with sparks." -Johann Gottfried Von Herder
- Empower - As a mentor leader, you have a responsibility to engage, educate, equip, and encourage them first -- and at every appropriate point thereafter, as well. You can't just walk in and empower them. If they're not ready, you're only setting them up to fail.
- Elevate - Raising up leaders is the truly self-less goal of every mentor leader, the culmination of focusing on others. To elevate your followers means to help them reach their God-given potential, even it means preparing them to replace you.
Let's invest in people - young and old, because God has invested in us!
Everyone has left the office a little early today. Tonight’s activities have been cancelled due to another snow storm. I love the snow! It never gets old. In fact as I sit at my desk right now, I have my window opened a bit, and the shade pulled up. It is so quiet, and peaceful. To think one of the busiest roads in Topeka is right around the corner from my office window and you can’t hear the cars speeding by speaks of the solitude of the moment.
The stillness, the silence, the tranquility all remind me of a word found throughout the Psalms. It is the word “Selah.” There is discussion as to the meaning of the word. Many believe that it is a musical term meaning to pause, and to reflect.
Afternoons like today with the snow gently falling cause me to do that. It causes me to pause and reflect upon the glory of God. What is interesting as you read through the Psalms is that the word “Selah” just doesn’t appear in times of praise, but also in times of discouragement.
One of my objectives this year is to be intentional throughout my day to take “Selah” breaks and pause and reflect upon the Lord. My prayer is that as I do that I will be arrested by grandeur of who God is. For some reason I can’t but believe that is what happened to the Psalmists as they frequently penned that word.
So, take a Selah break today, and be still and know that He is God! Man, I had better run, that air is getting pretty cold!
I enjoy the gym. Crazy as it may seem, working out is more a hobby to me than drudgery! I am glad for this mindset and hope that it remains for a long time. To be honest, I get kind of grumpy if I am not exercising.
It wasn’t too long ago that I was doing my morning routine at the gym, and there was this guy there. He was running laps, lifting weights, and sweating hard. I finished up my workout and was walking out when I noticed the same guy who had just spent the last 45 minutes of his life trying to improve his health, heading back into the club with a cigarette in his mouth. Something just didn’t seem right with the picture.
Understand I am not trying to be critical of him. I realize we all have issues that entangle us as we try to live healthy lives. All I need is to be exposed to homemade ice cream and my gym time becomes a waste. As I drove away that day, I couldn’t help but think of the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy when he said, “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.” (1Timothy 4:8)
Taking care of your physical body is important—there is no denying that. But even as we take care of this physical body, the reality is things shift and change! What good is it if I build a temporary temple, and neglect the spiritual one? As that Scripture says, when you build spiritually you aren’t only helping your future, you are helping your now! You are becoming stronger, more flexible, and have greater endurance to become the person God designed you to be. So take care of yourself, but prefer godliness over all things, because godliness will last.