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Michael Voll

Father, Forgive Them

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Last week we started a sermon series at North Pointe called “Any Last Words?” It is focused on the last words of Jesus as he was hanging on the cross.

Words Are Powerful

One can learn a lot about a person by their last words. We hear what was most important to them, as well as their hopes and regrets. These words reveal what they want to be remembered for and pass on to others who will live on.

Jesus last words are very counter-intuitive. There are so many things that he says that are surprising, even shocking. However, when we get to know Jesus we begin to understand that his last words were a culmination of everything he taught in his ministry on earth.

This Sunday we will look into Luke 23:34 where Jesus calls out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Stop to consider that Jesus is saying this to people who have spat on him, beaten him, hurled insults his way, and then crucified him.

Incredible.

Even when the crowds were at their worst, Jesus saw them in the best light. He was thinking the best about them, and he thinks the best about you, too.

Use Your Words Wisely

Maybe this is hard for you to believe. Throughout your life you have had people think the worst about your intentions, actions, and words. Maybe you are the type of person who gives mercy to yourself but asks for justice to be meted out for everyone else.

Regardless of your story, Jesus wants to show us his great love and have us extend that to everyone around us.

I think the world could use a lot more love and forgiveness. And I suspect that you could too.

See you on Sunday. Ask someone to join you. Use your words to make a difference in a friends life. They just might begin to experience real hope, new life and lasting purpose in Jesus.

 

Watch last weeks sermon here.

Read last weeks blog here.

Any Last Words?

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The last words of a person can reveal a lot about their character, values, hopes, dreams and mental state at the time.

Last Words Matter

For some, their last words reveal their dry humor, such as the convicted murderer James W. Rodgers, who, when asked if he had a last request before going in front of a firing squad replied, “Bring me a bullet-proof vest.”

Leonardo da Vinci revealed his ache at not accomplishing enough in life on his deathbed. In his final breaths, he said, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”

I hope that when the time comes for me to utter my last words that they will be full of love, and lacking any regret.

Jesus’ Last Words Really Matter

Over the next four weeks and on to Good Friday we will look into some of Jesus’ last words from the cross. At his lowest moment, beaten, battered and bruised, rejected and reviled, Jesus spoke words of limitless love.

There is so much we can learn from his example.

Jesus was Selfless in Suffering, Praying in Pain.

He showed Greater Grace and Determination in Desolation.

Unlike Jesus, when I am going through pain I find it very hard to focus on anything else. There is a direct correlation between rising pain and lowering care for the needs of those around us. It is hard to help others when you are hurting.

As we look forward to Easter Sunday I want to invite you to join us on Sunday’s in one of our three services (9:30am, 11:00am, and 12:30pm) in either our North or South Auditorium or online at www.np.church. Our services are usually posted early the next week so you can view them when it suits you best.

As we dig deep into the last words of Jesus I know that you will be prompted to action.

Love is an action word. Love must do something. Even in pain, loneliness, rejection, and desperation.

So take action and join us on Sunday. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

Humbled, Excited and Nervous

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Humbled. Excited. Nervous.

These are just a few of the words I use to describe how I feel right now when asked by friends and family.

The role of Lead Pastor carries a tangible weight of responsibility that God has been preparing me for over the course of my 21 years in full-time vocational ministry. And for the last 14 years, I have been blessed to be a part of the North Pointe family. At times I wasn’t sure if there would be a chance for me to fulfill the calling of leading a church that God laid on my heart as a fifteen-year-old. Other times I thought our family would need to relocate to a different church, city or province to see this dream fulfilled.

I am so thankful that God had other plans.
He prepared me. He shaped me. And He told me to wait.
And His timing is always perfect.

As I write this I am trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I am now the Lead Pastor of North Pointe Community Church. But a strong vote of 98% of the membership and 97% of the soon-to-be members (you know who you are!) has confirmed that it’s true.

Humbled. Excited. Nervous.

I am humbled that God would take this small town kid and set me in such an important leadership position. I am humbled that God chose this broken man, who in times of heavy grief wondered if I’d ever pastor again. And yet, Christ in his mercy has seen fit to elevate me. Humbled.

Excited. Not the ‘kid in a candy store’ excitement that is erratic and unpredictable. It’s a growing sense of joy rising in me with a fire in my belly. “Greater things have yet to come, greater things are still to be done in this city,” echoes the popular worship song. I am thrilled to see the people who will experience real hope, new life and lasting purpose in Jesus Christ in the coming months and years. The future is bright. And I get to be a part of it. Wow!

Did I mention that I was feeling nervous? I have been in training for years and this is the next logical step. I don’t think you can ever be fully prepared for a position like Lead Pastor. At times the weight of responsibility piles on me. In times like these I am reminded that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is this nervous energy that keeps me on my knees. I need God more than ever. I haven’t arrived yet, I have just begun. Lord help me to lead with love, wisdom and integrity.

I am honored to be the Lead Pastor of North Pointe, and I look forward to what God has in store for us as a church body. It’s going to be a good ride.

Who Do You Follow?

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“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Mahatma Ghandi

I look up to my dad as someone I want to emulate and imitate for his many character strengths. As a child I did this through standing on the toilet seat and putting shaving cream on my face like he did when he was shaving, or leaning over the engine of a car that he was fixing and making sure that I got dirty just like him.

We all imitate someone, whether intentionally or not. Business leaders, pop culture icons, sports stars or our next-door neighbor. So, the question that needs to be asked is “whom are you following and why?”

As Christians, the ultimate example that we are to follow and pattern our lives after is Jesus. The Apostle Paul urges the church in Ephesus to “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1,2).

There are many great examples out there that we can and should follow. However, the most important person we will ever emulate is Jesus himself and his love in action on the cross. If we measure up to him we will never be found lacking.

Move Over Rory McIlroy!

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On Thursday, July 14 we had our 6th annual Golf Tournament at Raven Crest Golf Course. Although the weather was looking grim throughout the week, we were blessed with warmth, and sunny clear skies. As an added bonus we also had tons of mosquitos! What a relief! And of course, we raised money for our youth programs, including Route 56.

Probably my favorite part of the day is watching new golfers break in their clubs. It takes a lot of guts to play golf in a tournament, but we have structured the day so that whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie you can have a blast. This year Darryl and Sharon Fraess, the directors of Birch Bay Ranch played very well, considering they are fairly new to the game. I saw Sharon hit a HUGE drive…and I know it only takes one in every game to keep you coming back for more.

If you missed the tournament this year, make sure to join us next year. It’s a great chance to meet some people you haven’t before, get some fresh air and raise money for a good cause. Come on, it’s FORE the kids!

 

Leap of Faith

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Last Sunday Pastor Sean kicked off our message series entitled “Faith That Works,” an in-depth look into Hebrews chapter 11. It was great to see ‘the man behind the guitar,’ and hear his powerful testimony of how Christ had revealed himself to him at the age of 17. When Sean decided to put his faith in Jesus, he did so because he became convinced that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)-the only solid foundation to build his life on.

In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Harrison Ford’s character needs to cross a huge, gaping crevice. The problem? There is no bridge to cross the divide. He is told, “only in a leap from the lion’s head will [you] prove [your] worth.”  So, in a moment of surrender, he clutches his chest, closes his eyes and steps off the ledge…safely onto a bridge that is revealed after his leap. Whew!

Indiana Jones had no basis for trusting that his leap of faith would be rewarded. Yet, people who trust in Jesus have the Bible to guide their steps, containing the promises of God such as “I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)” and “I have prepared a place for you (John 14:2).” When you put your faith in Jesus, although you cannot see him, there is ample evidence that he will be there for you. Just check out the faith chapter (Hebrews 11).

Hands Down

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Have you ever used a finger trap? It is a child’s toy that tightens when you put your fingers into it and pull gently, making it almost impossible to remove your fingers. It’s a great idea for parents of overly active children! I also think it perfectly drives home a lesson that Jesus was teaching his followers about acts of service.

In Matthew 6:1 Jesus warns his hearers “Don’t do your good deeds publically, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in Heaven.” Everyone wants to be recognized for the good things that they do, but often this desire for recognition skews our motivation. We end up doing our acts of service to be seen and praised by the people around us. Jesus, on the other hand, wants us to let our good deeds shine so that everyone will praise the heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).

This week our Day Camp is in full swing with about 150 children and a dedicated team of volunteers involved in leading songs, crafts, games and teaching Bible principles. We are so proud of all of the people that make a camp like this successful. There are many unsung heroes that may never get the full recognition that they may deserve. But we know this: God will reward everyone for the good they have done.

The next time you are tempted to raise your hand so that people will recognize you for your achievements, take a second to consider the finger trap. You may be trading a few moments of praise for an eternity of reward.

Have a blessed week.

Training for Purpose

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Our BTO series is in full swing, and last week we talked about “Training for Purpose.”

Training is a word that conjures up various pictures-on the job training where a new employee is taught the nuances of a particular task or system, or perhaps someone running, lifting weights or playing their sport of choice. For many, it is a word tinged with pain; training often hurts, or at least stretches the trainee to the edge of their limits in order to make them better, stronger and faster.

The Apostle Paul encouraged his protégé Timothy to “train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7. In order to become more like Christ we must enter into strict training through reading the Bible, praying and obeying the commands of God. The payoff? Tremendous growth, and a reward that will last forever! (1 Corinthians 9:25).

At North Pointe we recognize that each person in the body of Christ (the church) is uniquely gifted and needs to fulfill a specific task to ultimately bring health to the church. Our role as leaders is to bring train people to fulfill their purpose. One of the ways we can best do this is through our SHAPE class, where each participant explores their Spiritual Gifts, Heart Passion, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. Once you’ve discovered your unique SHAPE, you can begin to serve with purpose. We want everyone in our church to be able to experience the rush that training for and accomplishing the purpose we were made for can bring.

The picture you see is of the volunteers in our Rainbows program. I am so honored to serve with them. They use their SHAPE to make a difference in the lives of children who have experienced a traumatic death or divorce. They are making a difference.

Train to be godly, train for purpose. We will be here to help you on the journey.

 

More!

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There must be more!

This longing of the heart expresses a deep question of purpose-“Isn’t there more to life than this?” Thankfully, the answer is “yes there is!’ However, this hunger will not be filled by chasing selfish ambition, but by living in relationship with God and service to him.

Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? We want more, so we give what we have to God. How does that work? St. Augustine is quoted as saying about God “You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” The ache of restlessness can only find comfort, peace and fulfillment in Christ.

I am thankful that when God made us that he put right into our DNA a desire to do good things (Ephesians 2:10). These good things are the choices we make, the words we say, and the actions we take in our ordinary, everyday lives. There is more…we were created to make a difference. Don’t wait to do something extraordinary-make the most of the ordinary with Christ at the center and heart of your life.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” Matthew 6:33.

Reach Up and Touch Someone

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If you survived the 80’s you will remember the emotional AT&T phone commercials that encouraged viewers to “Reach out and touch someone.” It was a reminder to pick up the phone and connect with friends and family on a regular basis, the cost and effort required was worth it in the end.

In my relationship with the Lord I have been reminded that I need to take the time and effort to connect with Him, because ultimately it is worth the effort. This has been confirmed time and again as I have drawn strength from my dialogue with God about my fears, hopes, dreams and disappointments. Isaiah 40:31 says “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Thankfully I don’t have to have a long distance plan for these conversations, and the line is always crystal clear, as long as I’m willing to listen to the Spirit guiding me.

The biblical view is that our ability to reach out to others and touch their lives is directly proportionate to the time we spend reaching up. Without a clear connection to God, our connection to others will be diminished in its returns. In John 15:5 Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

This week, may your life bear fruit that will positively affect others because you are connected and reaching for God. So reach UP then reach OUT and touch someone.

Pastor Michael