Monthly Archives: February 2008

A Haunting Question

By | Message Series, NewSpring | One Comment

Years ago, a minister was talking to a church about the life-transforming good news about Jesus. How that Jesus died in our place to pay for our sins, opening the way for us to have a personal family relationship with God. And how He arose out of his grave three days later assuring us that we would live forever in Heaven. All of this a totally FREE GIFT. 

Then he jolted them with a question. “Why should anyone hear this good news twice before everyone hears it once?”  Most of us have heard it a lot more than once. Many of us hundreds of times. But did you know that over half the world’s population has never heard about Jesus at all?  What if you or I were one of those three billion people?  Would you want somebody to care enough about you to do something about it? 

360 Weekend starts in a few hours. It’s all about what NewSpring is out to do to change the world. And what you can do individually.  In the Saturday night service, I’m going to be talking about what we’ve been up to for the last four decades. It’ll surprise you when you find out what you’re already getting accomplished. In both Sunday services, I’m going to blow all of our minds with radical ideas about missions that will take all of us where we’ve never been before. I can’t wait to get started. 

Mark

A Tent in the City

By | Family | 2 Comments

After almost four months of apartment living, we are now preparing to move into a house. You may be familiar with the old saying, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” That is certainly the case with me. Although Mark and I lived in four different apartments during the early years of our marriage, we have been in a house for the last 20+ years. Not that any house is perfect, but compared to apartment living, a house does offer many benefits that one can get used to and maybe even take for granted.

First of all, I have learned that living in a small loft apartment is a little like living in a tent in that there would seem to be little or no insulation keeping the cold air from penetrating the walls. Of all the winters to be in an apartment, we chose this one! I am looking forward to being in a house that keeps the outside temperature at bay.

I didn’t realize how fond I had grown of having a laundry room. Stephen is currently the host of my laundry area, which consists of a small closet just large enough for the two appliances to face each other. This means that when transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, I must stand right up against the dryer, while bending forward to open the washer door and scoop the clothes out into a basket and close the door. Then, while holding the basket, I maneuver around to stand against the washer, bending forward to open the dryer door and dump the wet clothes in. Of course this is still much better than the years I remember hauling laundry to an outdoor washer and dryer load by load.

Another thing I really miss is having trees to look at through the windows. From our apartment’s back door, there was one rather lovely tree positioned just next to the large garbage container belonging to the business behind us. I tried to seriously focus on it for the few weeks it had lovely bright red leaves. However, before the leaves had fallen off, the ice came and went, leaving the tree bare and quite deformed. So I’ve uncharacteristically kept our shades closed for the duration. Normally, Mark and I play a little game with our windows. As we each go through various rooms, he closes the blinds, I open the blinds, he closes the blinds, I open the blinds. Not to be contentious, we just like different things in that department. I enjoy the sun beaming through the windows; he doesn’t like the glare, so we adjust according to whoever is in the room. (This also keeps dust from accumulating on the blinds because they keep moving all the time.)

I miss having a two person kitchen. Mark is so helpful in the kitchen and I really enjoy it when we can do things together. In our apartment kitchen, even one person is crowded and must be strategic in the opening and closing of appliance and cupboard doors and drawers to avoid frustration or even disaster.

That’s just a few things I have learned (or remembered) from apartment living. I am very thankful for God’s gracious provision for us wherever we live, but I am looking forward to being back in a house soon with a renewed appreciation for all the benefits that go with it.

360 Weekend

By | NewSpring | One Comment

I know I’m getting a little bit out front on this one because we still have one more weekend in our Silence series, but I’ve just got to tell you what’s coming March 1st and 2nd. It’s 360 Weekend, NewSpring is going global!   Anyone who attends any of our services knows how passionate we are about reaching Wichita and the surrounding area with the love of Jesus, but that’s not enough for us. We’re convinced that God has huge stuff for NewSpring to do literally AROUND THE WORLD!

Actually, we’re already up and running and have been for years. NewSpring helps financially support well over a hundred missionaries in just about every corner of the globe.  But that fact pales in comparison with the bold initiatives we’re about to take on! More to say in the next few days.

Good-bye and Hello

By | Family, NewSpring, Next Step | No Comments

In the morning, Mark will be speaking at the funeral of a dear friend, Dick Walker. Back when Mark was on staff at a church in Houston, TX, we met Dick and his wife, June. While we were in Houston, we faced several tough challenges and the Walkers were like adopted parents to us as we were still young kids in our early twenties and they were about the age of our own parents back home in Fort Worth. Since 1978, we have kept in touch and they have even made that long trip from Houston to visit us a time or two since we’ve been in Kansas. Although it’s difficult to say good-bye to someone we love so much, we look forward to being reunited when we join him in Heaven some day and knowing Dick, he’s already found a fishing boat and I expect to enjoy a fish fry with him when we get there.

In contrast to the sad good-bye, I have once again met some great new friends at NewSpring! I am co-leading one of the new Starting Point groups that began last weekend and as always, it is very exciting to get acquainted with every group member. They each have an incredible story to share and a refreshing point of view. In case you are not familiar with Starting Point, Mark and I talked about it during a recent weekend message entitled, Invite God Into Your Day.

If you are at a point in your life where you have questions about Jesus, faith, or the Bible, if you are brand new in your relationship with Jesus, or if you are returning to your faith after an absence, I hope you will join us in Starting Point! 

Mary Alice

Adventure Avenue Theater

By | NewSpring | 3 Comments

When NewSpring’s 252 Theater (the main KidzWorld space) opened up, I thought I’d seen the most engaging kids space in the country. By the way, I wasn’t alone. One of the leading Children’s ministry magazines listed the 25 “must see” facilities in the country, and NewSpring was on the list. Much of the reason for what we have is the genius, imagination, and round-the-clock work of Dale Poore and his team.

Even if you’ve never seen any of our kid’s space, you’ve seen his work in the Worship Center for countless series, most recently Holidaze and Success Street. What’s really amazing is his ability to create jaw-dropping sets on a shoestring. I’m reminded that inexpensive materials in the hands of a true artist can result in masterpieces.

Well, get ready to be dazzled. The Adventure Avenue Theater (kids space for preschoolers) opens this weekend. It’s the first phase of the KidzWorld expansion we started raising funds for last Fall. Children’s Pastor, Dan Kubish has been giving me daily tours, and as soon as I think I’ve seen the best, the next day’s installation wows me even more.

This weekend, it’ll be up and running. And no matter how old you are, you can get a peek. Adventure Avenue Theater will be open after each morning service for a brief walk-through. Trust me, it’ll make you wish you were four again!

Mark

Are you looking for a who or a what?

By | Just Thoughts | One Comment

Along with my One Year Bible, I also like to read My Utmost for His Highest each day, which is a collection of writings by Oswald Chambers. (By the way, if you like to read biographies, his is really worth reading – Abandoned to God.) My particular copy of Utmost has lined margins so that I can journal different thoughts or events that might relate to the subject of the day. As I was reading today’s thoughts, I kept glancing back at yesterday — it was on prayer.

Prayer is so often misuderstood. Have you ever heard the saying, “I believe in the power of prayer.”? I think that would be a little like saying, “I believe in the power of the telephone.” Let me explain. Suppose you were stranded on a dark and lonely stretch of road with a flat tire and you used your phone to call for help. When your spouse, parent, friend, or towing service came and fixed your car, would you hold up your phone admiringly and say, “I believe in the power of this phone. It fixed my car.” No, probably not. You would be thankful for the phone which allowed you to contact the person who actually came to your rescue, but you would give credit and express appreciation to the person, not the phone. That is why I don’t like the phrase, “I believe in the power of prayer.” Prayer is the means God has given us to communicate with Him, but we sometimes worship “prayer” rather than the God Who answers.

So, that brings me back to Oswald Chambers. In yesterday’s excerpt, he is talking about disappointment in prayer and he states that sometimes we “demand an answer from God, instead of seeking God Who gives the answer.” He goes on to say, “The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.” The scripture passage he references is in Luke 24:21 where some disciples are explaining their disappointment that God had not fulfilled what they believed He had promised. This little vignette is full of irony — give it a read — but start back in verse 13. The people in this story missed the Who, looking for the what.

Great Trip

By | Next Step | No Comments

newspring-group-north-point.jpg

I have just experienced some southern hospitality that I will not soon forget! At North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, the Starting Point Leadership and staff welcomed our group with open arms and we left with a great deal of encouragement and insight.

Here’s a picture of our group in front of the Starting Point Hallway at North Point. Our group attended a SP Leader Huddle, a worship service, a tour of the building and then enjoyed a meeting with the North Point leadership over a delicious lunch. What hospitality!

For a little fun, on Saturday night, we attended a taping session with Anita Renfroe and our ladies (Mary Lou Booker, Ginger Humble, myself, Doris Garrett and Diane Borg) had the opportunity to have our picture made with Anita.

ladies-with-anita.jpg

Silence

By | NewSpring | 3 Comments

Have you checked out GodisSilent.com? In case this is the first time you’ve heard of it , it’s a website we’ve launched in preparation for the Silence series which starts this weekend. People have been invited to share their stories about crisis times when it felt like God was silent. I’ve been totally blown away by what I’ve read. No doubt about it, it really rocks our spiritual equilibrium when life collapses, and we can’t seem to locate God.

I’m going to really let down my guard right now, and let you in on something. A month ago I wasn’t looking forward to this series. You know how I’m always saying the next series is the most important one I’ve ever done? I really mean that when I say it, but I wasn’t pumped up about this one. I knew I needed to take the issue head on, but I didn’t really want to. Here’s the part I hate to admit. When I planned the year I just allocated three weekends for it instead of the usual five, because I didn’t want to get trapped in a long treatment of material I knew was needed but wasn’t excited about.

But two things happened. First, I got really engaged and started serious prepping by looking at the topic in the Bible. It blew me away to see how many great men and women felt that God was silent, and made it known in no uncertain terms. I also began to see a clear pattern of how they successfully navigated through their crises. What I learned is HUGE! The second thing that happened, was I read GodisSilent.com every day. Many times what I read drove me back to the Bible again for more clarity.

Bottom line. I now have about ten weekends of material I have to cram into three! I’m more excited about Silence than any series I’ve ever tackled. Here’s my promise to you. No trite answers. No saccharine solutions. No goofy sayings. Just taking on some of life’s toughest questions in total integrity and academic honesty.

This is going to be awesome!

Mark

I’m Here!

By | Next Step | 4 Comments

Just responding to some of the comments ….

I do plan to blog on this new site and I’m very excited to share some things with everyone especially in the coming weeks. I am about to leave on a trip with our current Starting Point leaders. We are going to attend some leadership training in Alpharetta, Georgia at Northpoint Community Church. If I don’t forget to pack my camera, I’ll share some of our adventures along the way.

Love you all — thanks for asking for me!

Mary Alice