Monthly Archives: March 2008

Moving and Easter Weekend

By | Family, NewSpring, Next Step | 5 Comments

The big moving day finally came last week. We have now moved into a lovely house and it is wonderful! Lots of windows looking out at beautiful scenery, lots of cupboards, my own little TV in the kitchen that has HGTV and Food Network instead of news and sports… (although, I will say that Mark suffered through my favorite programs on many occasions while we were confined to the apartment) and the all-important laundry room — I love it!

After three long days of signing papers, packing, moving, cleaning, unpacking, etc. I was quite exhausted when the weekend came. Since it was Easter, my schedule for the weekend was a little unusual. One of the Starting Point groups that I’m in on Sunday chose to cancel for the weekend because several group members would be out of town. The other Starting Point group I’m in on Sunday chose to meet on Saturday evening before the worship service in order to help make room for our special guests on Sunday. So, on Saturday I participated in a Starting Point group at 5 and then attended the worship service at 6.

If you were in that Saturday worship service, you know it was absolutely awesome! I’ve never been in a service quite like that one. I left that night feeling I had truly been in God’s presence in a very special way.

Since I didn’t have an SP group on Sunday and I had already attended an absolutely awesome worship service, I decided to exercise my option to stay in on Sunday morning. It felt very strange, but after I got Stephen and Mark off to church, I really enjoyed having this wonderful, quiet house all to myself. Totally comfortable in jeans and my NewSpring hoodie, I relaxed with a cup of coffee and unpacked a few more boxes.

As I contemplated lunch and my still mostly empty refrigerator, I decided I really needed a little trip to the grocery store for a couple of things, but it was almost time for Mark and Stephen to get home, so I decided to wait until they arrived to let them know where I was headed. (That was my first mistake.) When they arrived, Mark decided to go along with me to the store, so he, in his dress slacks, sweater and dress shoes and me with no make-up, in my jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers, drove to Wal-Mart on this beautiful Easter Sunday.

As soon as we stepped out of the car, someone called out to Mark and wanted to tell him about how much they love NewSpring. I kept moving forward, hoping they would not realize we were together. As soon as we got our shopping cart, someone else spoke to Mark about the service as I moved straight ahead to my task. It seemed like with every aisle there was someone else, dressed for this wonderful day, who wanted to greet Mark and speak to him about either the broadcast or the weekend services. As I quickly turned around the corner of one aisle where another conversation had started, I heard Mark say to this couple, and I want you to meet my wi……., his voice trailed off as he looked and realized I wasn’t there. How embarrassing!

When he caught up with me he had a grin from ear to ear. I told him I just thought of something I needed from the other side of the store and could he please go get it for me and meet me at the checkout. While he was gone, I grabbed the last couple of grocery items I needed and made a dash for the express lane. I met Mark there and as the gentlemen scanned my items, I began to feel I was “home free.” Just as I swiped my card, the checker looked up at Mark and asked “Have you had a chance to relax a little since the service this morning?”

It’s a good thing I’m a good sport, because Mark was very amused at my self-consciousness and had to laugh out loud on our way home. Then, after I dealt with my embarrassment, we were both excited to realize how many people in our community are being blessed by the ministries of NewSpring. We are both so thankful and excited to be a part of what God is doing here! And next time I go to the store with Mark, I’ll make sure he’s in jeans too!

Mary Alice

Finish Never

By | Family, Just Thoughts, Next Step | 3 Comments

It was 31 years ago that Mark and I were planning our wedding. In 1977 personal  computers were not available to create wedding invitations, so we went to a printer to choose ours. As we looked at different poetic messages, I caught sight of one that said we were pledging our love forever. Now, at the tender ages of 18 and 20, even the concept of 15 or 20 years was difficult to really grasp, but I wanted to communicate that this young man I loved was so important to me that I couldn’t ever imagine us being apart — even in eternity.

I was so excited that day that he put that ring on my finger and changed my name to his. At that moment, we became a family. In 31 years together, we have experienced many wonderful times and many difficult times — sometimes simultaneously. During the most difficult times, I believe our commitment to one another, made before God, helped us to weather the storm together.  

As I talk with new believers, so often I am asked about my relationship with the Lord. How does it work in my life? Are my prayers answered? Do I have doubts? It’s a little difficult to describe a life time relationship in a few short sentences, but what it boils down to is that my relationship with Jesus Christ has grown over the years in many ways just like my relationship with my husband has as we’ve lived life together. Each day I know Jesus a little better. As I pray, I talk to Him about my life and through reading the Bible, He shares with me more about Himself and what His plans are for His kingdom and my place in it. He works in my life in such a way that I am constantly aware of His presence. It gets better and better everyday and I always look forward to tomorrow knowing that He will still be with me and He always has plans.

As I was reading “My Utmost for His Highest” today, Oswald Chambers was talking about our personal relationship with Christ. He concluded with “Begin to know Him now, and finish never.” That’s what’s really wonderful about my relationship with Jesus — it really is forever!

 Mary Alice

Monday after Easter

By | NewSpring | One Comment

Just sitting down in my office after walking around the campus today reflecting back on Easter.

  • Diane Borg who works in the Next Step Ministries department was going through the decision cards from Easter. She told me that even though she hadn’t gotten through all the cards there were many people who accepted Jesus in the services this weekend, and what really excited her was that there were individuals from all age groups. It never ceases to amaze me how God can take one simple message and speak to so many different people with it. God is Awesome! Can I get a witness on that one?
  • You NewSpringers are incredible! With the rapid growth we’ve been experiencing this year, the team was getting really concerned that especially the 11:00 service wouldn’t be able to handle any more people, so we asked you guys to consider celebrating Easter in the newer, smaller Saturday night service. We thought maybe a few hundred of you might be willing. You guys blew our minds! I was in a counseling appointment leading up to the Saturday service so I had no idea of what was happening until I saw Lance waiting for me outside my office. There was a look of shock on his face as he said, “Man, Mark it looks like Christmas Eve out there.” Your willingness to make that adjustment, made it possible for many guests to attend in the Sunday Services. My heartfelt gratitude!
  • Did you catch Lance’s version of Don Francisco’s song “He’s Alive?” That blew all of us away. The song’s about as old as Lance is, but his updated version was one of the most powerfully meaningful experiences I’ve ever had in my 51 Easters.
  • Kidzworld was awesome as always. Special stuff had been planned on Saturday night to encourage Sunday attendees to move to Saturday, but again expectations were shattered. Childrens pastor, Dan Kubish said than on Saturday, there were about 400% more kids we projected! My thanks goes out to Dan, Debbie, and the team of hundreds of volunteers who make our kids’ ministry the one I wish I’d grown up in.
  • This gives me a chance to thank all of you who volunteered this weekend. You had as much to do with all the lives that were changed as I or Lance, or anyone else did.
  • I can’t say it enough. I SO love what God is doing at NewSpring right now. I’ve never seen anything like it. It has to be God! Nothing else could explain it.

Mark

Texas Our Texas

By | Family, Just Thoughts | One Comment

If you’re not from Texas, the title probably doesn’t ring a bell, but growing up in Texas, we sang a song by the title Texas Our Texas. It just popped into my mind this morning as I’m sitting here at Panera enjoying a cup of coffee. Mark and I have been talking about the conference he just spoke at earlier in the week. It is a joy for me to see how God is using NewSpring and Mark to encourage and inspire other pastors around the country to take a fresh new look at what God is doing through His church today and how we can all be a part of it.

Later today, I’ll be taking notes for Mark in another meeting. It’s great to be here! But, we’ll be glad to get back home shortly. We are Kansans now, even though Texas still calls to us sometimes.

We’re also talking about Easter weekend coming up. It’s very exciting to anticipate what God is going to do at NewSpring this Easter!

Mary Alice

Springing Forward

By | Just Thoughts | 3 Comments

It’s that time again! We get to set our clocks ahead one hour this Saturday night so we will start our day an hour earlier on Sunday. Now, you might not be as excited about this as I am, but I will tell you that at our house we start the weekly countdown right after Christmas. It goes something like this….. on January 2nd, Mark says, “I can tell the days are already getting longer.” or “Just think, if it were summer we would still be waiting for the temperature to cool down at 8 pm.” or “This time next month, the sun will still be high.” This goes on all through the winter months.

Why? Maybe because winters in Kansas get very long and cold and the time change is the first event that really marks spring for us — even if it is accompanied with snow and/or the blustery north wind which we now expect to greet us most everyday. Just the fact that the sun is high in the sky at 5:30 or 6:00 pm is encouraging. So, at our house, setting the clocks forward brings a celebration even if it does mean losing an hour of sleep. ……….Ready to celebrate?

This Sunday is also Discovery Reception which is an opportunity for getting acquainted with all the NewSpring ministries up close. We have a record breaking number registered — 53! The last Discovery was just six weeks ago and we had a large group then. It’s really amazing how God is bringing so many people to NewSpring and how excited they are to get involved. If you would like to attend Discovery, it’s not too late to register online — come join us!

Mary Alice

The Point

By | Just Thoughts | One Comment

If you’re still reading along on our Odyssey 08 journey, you’ve just read about the dedication of the Tabernacle in the book of Numbers. At the end of the list of the special offerings brought on each day of the dedication ceremony there is a very short group of verses that really captured my attention.

 89 Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord spoke to him from there.  Numbers 7:89 (NLT)

Do you find it fascinating that God chose to speak to Moses from this place? Before this, God had spoken to Moses from different places like the burning bush and the top of Mt Sinai, but now Moses goes into the Tabernacle and he hears God’s voice speaking to him from the place of atonement where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. There is way more significance and symbolism here than I would dare to try to list or explain, but what really intrigues me is that God, Who created and sustains the entire universe, chose to “house His presence” in this place. Certainly, God wasn’t looking for a place to stay. He didn’t need a tent to live in. The point is, He made Himself available, in a tangible way, to the people. It was about a relationship, not a religion.

As you read the Psalm passage today In Psalm 50, God refers to the sacrificial system when He says,

9 But I do not need the bulls from your barns or the goats from your pens. 10 For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.  11 I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it. (NLT)

He goes on to say,

 14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. 15 Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” …………giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. Psalm 50:14-15; 23a (NLT)

Thankfulness can only happen within a relationship. For instance, I’m thankful for my car but I’m not thankful to my car. I’m thankful to my husband and to God for providing the car for me. Thankfulness requires a relationship and relationship is what God has always desired and made provision for with the people He created.

As you continue reading in the next few days, you’ll discover how thankful the people were during these days right after the dedication of the Tabernacle. Come back and tell me what you think.

Mary Alice