- Finally got confirmation that the number baptized two Sunday’s ago was 42!
- This past weekend was hectic but great.
- Friday night I was at church for the rehearsal of the wedding I was doing on Saturday.
- At one point one of the organ petals got stuck.
- Remember in “Dumb and Dumber” when they did the most annoying noise in the world…ummm yeah, I’m just saying.
- Had to call Earl so he could line up a repairman while I continued with practice.
- After practice I put the final touches on getting ready for the class I taught on Saturday morning.
- Had 45 people show up for the “Get Connected with God” class.
- I tried to cram it all into 2 hours, but ended up going 2 1/2.
- As I’ve been getting e-mails in response, the #1 complaint has been that the class wasn’t long enough.
- I said it before and I’ll say it again…this class is awesome!
- Here are some excerpts of just a few of the e-mails I’ve gotten…
- “I would recommended that EVERYONE take this class if you ever offer it again”.
- “I wish I would have had this class much earlier in my Christian life…I hate to admit it, but I still feel like a baby in the Word- but now that I have the tools, that is going to change”.
- “This class has given me a game plan”.
- “This class…will take us (husband and I) into a higher level of knowing our God and understanding our purpose”.
- “I guarantee you that everyone who took the Get Connected To God class today came out with a better understanding of what it takes to develop the habits we need to grow to spiritual maturity and how to bring that about”.
- The wedding went very well then in the afternoon.
- Congratulations to Ronnie and Kristy Yarnell!
- At the reception, we sat with the organist who was asking questions about United.
- Our table was about in tears with laughter watching this guys expressions as we kept sharing and you could just see the shock on his face.
- He kept asking, “Wait a second, you did that in church”?
- He said he wants to come visit…he’ll be easy to recognize…he’ll be the one with his mouth gaping open the whole time. 🙂
- Sunday I’ve already blogged about, but I’ve heard some really good stuff in the meantime about how people felt convicted and challenged by the Experience.
- The new web-site is also getting a lot of good feedback and a lot of traffic.
- One person I forgot to mention in my excitement of announcing it last Friday was Ashleigh Schwindt. Many of the pictures on the site she shot and I’m glad we have someone with her skills in the church.
- Ashleigh has her own photography business and I’m in love with one of her models!
- We are hosting Micah Brickner this week at the church to help him in his internship with our region of the denomination. Micah wants to plant a church in the next few years so he’s spending the week with us learning the good, the bad and the ugly (insert whatever staff person’s face you want with each:)).
- Please pray for Micah and my good friend, Chuck Frank as the region attempts to plant as many churches as possible in the next 5-10 years.
- If you’re interested in something like this, go here.
Archives for July 2009
Today marks 16 years since I became a follower of Christ! Does this mean I can drive the church van now? In all seriousness, it is the best decision I ever made. I was doing well in business at the time, but ever since I met Lisa, I had felt that there was something missing in my life…there was definelty something she had that I didn’t. There was something about her life and church that was nothing like mine.
About 7pm that night there was a knock at my door and it was 2 guys I had met from Lisa’s church. While I knew Keith and Marvin were good guys, I didn’t invite them in, but instead offered to sit with them out on the front porch. After a bit of conversation, they asked me two questions that forever changed my life.
“Gilbert do you know for certain that if you were to die today that you would go to heaven?” I quickly responded, “Of course I would”. Then they asked, “If you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, ‘Gilbert, why should I let you into my heaven’, what would you say?” Again I was quick with an answer, “Well I go to church and I try to do the best that I can. I know I haven’t been perfect, but I definelty try to do more good than bad”.
What they shared next with me, shocked me in some ways, but at the same time revealed that missing piece I was searching for. Over the next 20-30 minutes they shared with me the Gospel. For the first time it made sense! Why had I never heard this growing up in church?
Marvin and Keith shared that…God wants to give us heaven as an absolutely free gift and there is nothing we can do to earn that gift, nor do we even deserve it. The problem for us though is our sin. Even just 3 sins a day adds up to tens of thousands over the course of a lifetime. Are we really going to be able to stand before God and say how “good” we were? I had to agree that “no, I sin a lot more than 3 times in a day”. I was starting to getting a sinking feeling…maybe I was too quick to assume that I was going to heaven when I died.
They continued on by sharing that while God loves us and doesn’t want to punish us, He is also just and fair and must punish our sin. In my mind I swore…I dropped a couple of “F” bombs as I thought about how messed up I was…not even realizing at the time that I was compounding my problem. “How in the world am I ever going to me good enough to repay God for all this,” I thought.
What they shared next answered that for me…I wasn’t ever going to be good enough. “Well then we’re all just going to hell then,” I asked. “No,” they said. “Well then what’s the solution?’ They asked me who I thought Jesus was. “Well he was the Son of God, he was a good teacher, he did some miracles, he taught us how to live”. “Yes, that’s true” they replied, but “Who is Jesus?” “My goodness taking the SAT’s was easier than the questions these guys are throwing at me,” I thought. “I don’t know…please tell me”.
What they shared next literally has changed my life forever. “Jesus was actually God Himself, who took on human flesh and blood and lived the perfect and sinless life that you and I can never live and then died on the cross so that all of our sins can be forgiven”. In other words, someone needs to pay the penalty for your sins…either it will be you standing before God claiming that you were perfect, or you’ll allow Jesus to pay it for you.
I remember starting to well up with tears as I realized that God loved me so much that He had come to die for my sins. Marvin and Keith shared some other things with me, but I just couldn’t escape the realization that if I continued down the path I was on, I deserved eternal punishment in hell and I recognized that I actually deserved it. But then also realizing that Jesus made a way possible for my sins to be forgiven…even remembered no more…gave me a sense of peace and hope.
When they were done talking they asked if everything had made sense and if i was ready to ask Jesus for His forgiveness and leadership in my life? Years later Marvin told me, “We didn’t really have to ask you that question…you could see it on your face that you had just had an encounter with Jesus and that you were ready to put Him first in your life”.
So right there on my front porch, on July 27, 1993, I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and help me down a new path in life. From day 1 then I realized that you don’t do good things in order to be saved, but as proof that you are saved. Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them”. My fear is that too many people claim they love Jesus with their mouths, but yet their hearts are far from him. In other words, Jesus said, “If you love me, then you will obey my commands”. Again not because you’re trying to earn God’s favor, but rather out of gratitude for what He did for you. Here’s another way to think of it…Jesus gave up His life for you and now He wants you to give your whole life (time, money, actions, words, thoughts) back to Him.
So here we are 16 years later. Have I been perfect…no far from it…but I am perfectly forgiven and to the best of my abilities as the Spirit of God which lives inside of me directs me, I try to follow His every prompting. I often say that, “God wants and has a better plan for your life than you even have for your life”. I can say that with confidence because for 16 years now I’ve seen it played out in my own life.
I’ll wrap up with this…”If you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven’, what would you say?” If the answer has anything to do with anything other than Jesus, then review what I wrote above and pray and ask for His forgiveness and leadership, then commit to following Him for the rest of your life. What’s cool is if you do that today…you and I will share a spiritual birthday…so happy birthday to me and happy birthday to you!
- Sitting in my office getting ready for our staff picnic.
- Had a great day!
- Couple of minor glitches in the set-up portion and the keyboard died in the 10:45 (RIP), but other than that we couldn’t have asked for a smoother day.
- First, any day when people come into a relationship with Christ, it’s awesome…4 more today…God is so good!
- I’m really loving the new song “Yours Forever” that the team has done the past few weeks…great stuff!
- I also liked the new song today called “Ready Now”. It was cool to intro it at the beginning of the Experience and then use it as a response song to the message.
- I love doing vision messages. Nothing gets me fired up more than reminding people why we’re doing what we’re doing.
- The response so far to the message has been incredible…the real test will be in actually applying it…hope for a lot of new faces next week!
- The bumper video that Aaron put together was awesome. What’s funny though is it took he, Brian and I almost 2 hours to record the voice overs. For some reason we couldn’t get the equipment to record it right…so we did it again…and again…and on a different machine…and again…and on a different machine…and…
- It’s a shame some of them didn’t come out…Brian and I were having a lot of fun coming up with different things to say.
- The two videos I used today I thought were powerful as well. Here are the links. Pauline Jacobi getting robbed. Penn Gets a Bible.
- I love that line…”How much do you have to hate someone to believe that there is a heaven and hell yet not tell someone how to escape it”. (paraphrase)
- Again it amazes me that an atheist understands that better than many people in churches.
- So one more time…Do whatever you can to invite people next week as we begin the REWIND series, by looking at the decade of the 70’s and specifically John Lennon’s, “Imagine”.
- Also be sure to check out the new web-site and join the United Worship Experience fan page on facebook.
Some of you have already figured this out because you’re on the new site and made your way here. Others of you get the blog through a feed so you have no clue that it happened…In any case we have a new web-site and my blog is now being hosted off-site.
The web address is still www.unitedworshipexperience.org. On it you will notice a much cleaner look and since most of you voted with your mouse, Facebook and the United fan page is now the way to leave your comments about anything United. Check out the new site and let us know what you think. Thanks to my wife, Lisa for another fantastic site…this is her third one she’s done for United and it looks great!
As for my blog, it is still linked off the United site, but you can now reach it directly at www.GilbertThurston.com. There are some new features and you can still leave comments. All the old posts are listed, but not everything has been tagged yet so watch for that in the future. Thanks to Ann and Allison Hospelhorn for all your hard work getting things transferred!
For those who have an RSS feeder for the blog and/or Podcasts of the sermons, make sure you go to the new site(s) and up-date your feeds.
- Had breakfast/lunch with my first pastor from after I became a Christian, today.
- Great to catch up and hear what God is doing in his midst and ministry.
- I’m feeling much better today!
- Had some bad news today that hit me pretty hard…still processing.
- On the other hand, there is some exciting things that happened today which I’ll share in a post right after this one.
- I got a treadmill delivered this week and so far have been faithful to be on it every day.
- Figured I’m not getting any younger and should get some exercise from time to time other than the Wii. 🙂
- Really excited about the REWIND series coming up in August…don’t forget to be in your seats on time for the wild stuff we have planned!
- I’m working on a huge project right now for the entire church that is going to be so awesome when it’s done, but right now is kicking my butt and everyone who helps…quite overwhelming, so we could use your prayers.
- Ok…can’t wait to tell you the exciting news…so time to hit publish and get to that.