What are you looking for freedom from?

I have been meditating on freedom lately, as I prepare to meet – my wife and I with another dear Christian couple to study the Bible together. We gather regularly, like so many of you do, in hopes of gleaning some practical wisdom for our lives. I may not know much about you; or know you at all, but one thing I think probably describes us all. We are looking for true freedom. Maybe its freedom from addiction. Maybe its freedom from past hurt. Maybe its freedom from unhealthy thoughts that plague your mind. I know each of those circumstances must bring much pain to those who bear those burdens. I certainly don’t want to make light of those situations. In fact, I mean to answer them. I mean to help you truly address them which this next statement.

The Bible describes all of humanity as being in bondage to sin and death.

Fundamentally, we suffer from all other forms of bondage (no matter the arena it appears in) because of this one basic fact that tragically unites all of humanity. The New Testament states is bluntly, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). One thing I have truly come to appreciate about the Bible is its varied and often picturesque way of communicating our origin, our problem, and the remedy. For instance, in one of those picturesque moments, the Bible describes us as, “…you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient” (Ephesians 2:1-2). 

We truly feel and experience empathy for those of us who are going through difficult times or feel that they are in bondage to something. We are truly hope for liberation – for freedom. And I wish that for each of you!

So recently I was reading the New Testament book of Romans – chapter 1 verse 17. Though the language might not strike you as endearing, it speaks to true freedom. That big word justified can be simply be read as just as if I’d never sinned. You see, fundamentally, all our bondage traces back to human sin. However, God wants mankind to experience freedom through Jesus Christ. And the good news is that God takes care of everything that needs to be done for us! He sends Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus lives a perfect life and by some miracle God chooses to take his perfection….and give it to us!! So, it is just as if we had never sinned. What awesome news. I hope you come to experience true freedom through Jesus Christ, particularly as the holiday season is coming fast open us.

If you’d like to hear more about this freedom; if you’d like to know how you can conquer addiction and bondage in your own life, let me invite you out to our Home Bible Study at Fellowship that meets Sunday afternoons at my home. You can send us a message through out website at www.renewchurch.me

 

True Longings in Life

Could you imagine living your life without true longings in your soul?

That would be hard to imagine, wouldn’t it? I mean, come on, isn’t longing and desire what gives life its zest? Can you imagine navigating our short existence on this terrestrial ball without desires, aspirations, hopes, dreams? That would be a pretty poor way to experience life!

Good news is we were never intended to go through life with such robotic mechanicalism – without ever experiencing the longings that induce our emotions to laughter, to tears – from joy to sadness, from gratitude to generosity – and so on. And to make sure we fully understand that true longing in life is at the heart of the very existence of every human being, God gave us the book of Psalms! This one, in particular, has always meant much to me and I have been feasting from it again lately:

 Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
though its water roars and foams
and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah

There is a river—
its streams delight the city of God,
the holy dwelling place of the Most High.
God is within her; she will not be toppled.
God will help her when the morning dawns.
Nations rage, kingdoms topple;
the earth melts when he lifts his voice.
The Lord of Armies is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah

On first read of this Psalm, you might be prone to think it’s more about God than it is our own creative intent to long. However, look again. Isn’t igniting deep, soul-intoxicating longing for God the point of King David who wrote it? Actually, David’s soul is already aflame with such impassioned longings for God that he can’t keep it to himself!

Niagra Falls

It overflows into this piece of beautifully inspired poetry – right into our own lives, like the waters of Niagara Falls that cascades into Lake Ontario below it.  And speaking of a river – did you notice one is mentioned in this Psalm? The character of God is of such mind-blowing boundaries and significance that David needs to employ picturesque language throughout the Psalm in order to scratch the surface of the depths of wonder of our heavenly father. 

Won’t you go to him today to have the match of the wonder of God struck aflame? Long, and long deeply for more of him – in the middle of this complicated terrestrial ball we call home? Don’t settle for such paltry, passing longings this broken world will offer – hold out for more of God!

Longing to Labor in Prayer

Well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us but, we are a nation that prays!

Prayer

Research organizations who specialize in polling statistics have for many years chronicled the fact that Americans are a people who pray. The Pew Research organization recently published that “55% of Americans say they pray every day.” Since we as a nation are direct descendants of our English Puritan ancestors who first landed at Plymouth over 300 years ago, it shouldn’t surprise us that prayer is still deeply ingrained in our national identity. Of course, this supposed commitment to prayer should not be taken as any clear evidence of our understand or commitment to a thoroughly biblical understanding of the Christian faith or a biblical understanding of prayer. Notwithstanding, the fact that so many of our friends an neighbors, Christian or not, have a tendency towards prayer is a great pre-evangelism tool. That is, it can be used as a discussion starter that can then lead to a Gospel presentation.

But enough of that for now. Moving on to what is a thoroughly biblical understanding and commitment to heart-felt prayer – I long to pray more! In fact, I long to become one who labors in prayer as the constant mode of my life.

How are you doing at it? What are you doing to elicit it in your life? For many yearsI have wanted to grow deeper in my understanding of a biblical theology of prayer while at the same time growing more practiced in a continual habit of effectual, biblical prayer. As part of this, we recently spent a few Sundays studying prayer in our Sunday evening small group in our home, as part of Renew Community Church – the Church plant that I lead. One of the last verses we studied on prayer was this one by the Apostle Paul – Pray Continually.” Short and to the point – right? Well, I want to excel in what Paul means by this. I want that spiritual life indelibly marked out by an unceasing prayerful attitude.

I long to be so intimate with my heavenly father that I pray unceasingly – that I pray just like my savior did in his short life on this earth!

And as our church plant gets started – Renew Community Church, my desire has been that we become a church that fulfills this command on prayer, not only individually but corporately as well. I long for Renew Community Church to become a church that makes hell shake by its commitment to prayer! I long for Renew Community Church to become intimately engaged in the act of a continual lifestyle of praying. One that would be seen as uncommon. One that is marked out by bold, mountain-moving, kingdom-expanding, life-saving, prayers that leave a legacy as a result of their power!

I hope God’s Holy Spirit burns that same commitment indelibly in your own identity. Need some help, like me, to become more prayerful? I hope some of these resources are useful for you. Let me know what you think. What you have found helpful.

http://meredisciple.com/tag/jon-tyson/

https://www.gty.org/library/questions/QA157/what-does-it-mean-to-pray-without-ceasing

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-do-i-pray-without-ceasing

Finding your Treasure

Where does your treasure lie? What treasure are you looking for? Notice I did not say, “Are you looking for a treasure?” If you are standing vertical and have a pulse, then you are searching for something – what is it?

Blaise Pascal, a famous French mathematician and philosopher, put it like this: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” But th
at’s the problem, right? That “filling with created things,” part. We will fill our hearts with anything that we think helps us make since of this life. We will do anything, go any place and try anything just to find our “belonging” on this spinning globe.

So as many of you know, I just preached a sermon this past Sunday entitled, “Christ: Our Endless Treasure.” That wonderfbible-verse-luke-12-where-your-treasure-is-there-your-heart-will-be-also-2014-1024x791ul little verse that we probably often just read over in Colossians that says, “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”. I won’t get into my sermon here since I hope to be able to get it listed on our website soon. But I do want to hit on a verse that I simply mentioned in passing towards the end of that sermon. Luke 12:34 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. The concept in this verse, and behind it (that we were made to long for something) really is the great equalizer of all humanity I think. That is because the one thing all humanity has in common, in spite of all our differences, is that innate desire, deep down in us all, longing for significance.

Do you feel that longing today? Is it especially strong today? Is it compelling you to seek to fill it with some placebo? If the truth be told, perhaps many of us seek to navigate life by actually seeking to quell that desire. Maybe for some of us to permit that desire is actually a painful thing because it lets you know just how real you really are. We shouldn’t quell it or settle for a placebo though. Rather, you should actively seek to place your treasure in things above. That is the point of Jesus’ words to his followers in Luke 12:34 above. So why don’t you give that a try?  You were created with a purpose. And as Augustine so famously said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.” Looking for rest? Find it in Jesus this week. He said himself, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Does that sound like something you can use this week? Well, run to him and ask for it. He will give generously, that’s his very nature. 

May all your worries cease to be worries as you find your rest in Him this week!

Treasure Hunting

TCTWhat’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever found? Maybe you’ve won something expensive at one point in your life….no, not like the sort of prize Ralphie’s dad in that humorous Christmas Classic A Christmas Story. No, I am not talking that trivial. In fact, I mean something serious. Something genuine. Something life changing!

As for me, no, I have never won anything! I have never even gone treasure hunting with a metal detector in my hand but I have seen great wealth. While in the military, I had the opportunity to view the King Tut exhibit in Giza, Egypt in a museum still in site of the great pyramids and the Sphinx. What an experience that was! Just how rich was King Tut? Of course, we all know by now that the old Pharaohs of Egypt would bury all their great wealth in order to have it in their next life. It is estimated that all the treasures that are part of Tut’s exhibit have a value of around $15 million dollars today but some estimates place the replacement value at a staggering three quarters of a billion! Another source did this calculation on the wealth of King Tut: “The combined value of all the objects in the tomb of King “Tut” is put at $15,000,000. Had this sum been invested in safe 6 per cent bonds 3,400 years ago, it would today amount to $4,800, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000″.

WOW! Now that is STAGGERING treasure…and I don’t even know how to say such a large figure!

Did you know that there are approximately 1,810 billionaires in the world today with an aggregate net worth of $6.5 trillion dollars. But before you start to get deflated about your own significance since most of us are just normal middle-class people, did you know that you have access to wealth beyond compare? Yes, you do! That’s what I’ve learned from a little Bible verse I will be preaching on soon at a local partnering church. So where do I get this nugget (pun intended I suppose) of truth about all this wealth that is at your disposal?

Colossians 2:3 says, “…in [Christ] lies all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” 

 Notice it says “All” the treasures of wisdom and knowledge belong to Christ/are found in Christ. There is not one treasure to be found outside of Christ. He has them ALL! And he wants to give them all to …. YOU!  Yes, you. And now, not once you’re more pleased with yourself.  He can’t be more pleased with youSo, when you are prone to discouragement this week, wrap your mind around this…all the wealth of King Tut invested at 6 per cent, over the last 3400 years, plus the aggregate wealth of ALL the billionaires in the world are a mere trifling pile of rubbish next to your wealth in Christ! Hold your head up high you heir of Christ!

What else does the New Testament say about our wealth? Here are a couple snippets:

-Ephesians 3:8 those treasures are unsearchable!
-1 Peter 1:4 those treasures are imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,

So my rich friend, put on your treasure hunting outfit, leave the old metal detector behind, and DIVE DEEP in the treasures awaiting you in Christ this week!

 

Longings in the Midst of a Beautiful Snowfall

What get’s you reminiscing? Is it an old movie? Perhaps an old black and white movie hardly remembered by a younger generation. Maybe its an old childhood memory. Or maybe for you, its when you pass by that old neighborhood you’ve long since moved out of. But maybe you say, “Well, I am not really the sentimental type.”

Well, I really am the sentimental type…and I admit it! I am sentimental about most anything I’ve experienced in younger life. Childhood memories. Easier times. I must admit that sometimes when I still make the trip back home where I grew up, I sometimes find myself compelled to drive through the two old neighborhoods where most of my childhood and early adulthood were evenly split. I can’t help but drive through those old memories of my life, just reminiscing.

Maine Snowfall 2017
2017 Southern Maine Snowfall

Let’s fast forward to today – February 13, 2017. Its the biggest snow storm of the year here in Maine – southern Maine to be exact. They were calling it a blizzard. Wow, is it beautiful! I love the snow. In fact the reason why the Northeast is my favorite region of the United States is because I love the four distinct seasons of the year. So we have roughly 2-3 feet of snow on the ground with a little more to come as the week progresses. What does the beautiful blanket of snow have me reminiscing about? This verse

As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields
seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11 The Holy Bible)

I long for that! Oh how I long for it! I long for the Words of God to water the earth and watch it come to life. My body feels it! My mind wont let me forget it! I long for it insatiably! I long to see God’s words accomplish what they are supposed to because though I don’t know much, I know if God has spoken, then they must be kind, loving words, Words intended to give life. To make things bud with great beauty. To be sure, many of those kind, loving words are woven within a greater context of judgement. But would we really scorn the judging eye of one who really loves us and wants out best – I hardly think so. Let me invite all of you…each of you to hope for that same longing. There is nothing you need in this life more than the Word of God. God has created you by the mere spoken words of his mouth (Gen. 1:27-31). God does not make any mistakes. Why don’t you turn to Him and His words….in the Bible.
I hope this post speaks to you in a meaningful way! I hope you are encouraged from it. If you are, post some comments for me. If this post helped direct you to greater meaning…to God, then please forward this post or recommend this post to your friends! And let’s connect and talk more.
We all have a hunger that this world cannot satisfy!

A new church for the community begins!

Its on…God willing!

Do you have a green thumb? I’ve never been much of a gardener – though I’ve always wanted to have my own fruit and vegetable garden that I start, maintain…and hopefully enjoy the fruit thereof! I’d never say I have much of a “green thumb,” but I love the idea of lush plants, growing things and enjoying their beauty. My wife and I have the joy of being first time home owners – what a blessing from God that is! Though the never-ending “to-do” list isn’t exactly the highlight of my free time. I am also not much of a “fixer upper” kind of a guy (though that’s a story for a different blog post).

So what abou385d201bc0ae51b59213159c6563a738t my “green thumb”, or lack thereof? Our favorite room in our new home is a sun room on the backside of the home. Not original to the home, a subsequent owner had it added on at some point. Regardless, it was a definite selling point for us when we viewed the home throughout the search process. As you would expect, its full of windows, allowing beautiful sunlight to flood the room at all angles. It’s a cozy sort of room because of the presence of the sun. It’s also a great room for plant life to bloom also because of all the life-giving sun flooding its space. So when we closed on the home and I moved in ahead of my family who were yet to be in Maine, one of the first things I did was to purchase some plants at the local Home Depot, expressly for our beautiful sun room. I’ve since given over their care to my talented wife. We love to see their green lush leaves flowering because of the sunlight, adding beauty to the entire room.

Makes me think of Zechariah 4:10. Most of us would probably need a little extra time just to find that more obscure book of our Old Testaments while we probably scratch our heads, wondering why we should even go to that obscure place deep in the Old Testament. Well, this verse will help you understand why the investment of time would be worth it. That verse is encouraging. Its inspiring. It “gives life” to the weary soul who stumbles across it. It will fill your soul with beauty and life – just as those beautiful plants in our sun room, soaking in the life of the sun, fill our hearts and souls with the overflow of their beauty! And if that verse flows with such life for us,  I cannot begin to fully comprehend just how beautiful and uplifting it must have been for God’s chosen people – the first recipients of that ancient prophesy. God’s people were used to small beginnings. If you’ve ever read any parts of the Old Testament of the Bible, you’ll quickly get that idea. Its as if God had some intention of creating small things, seemingly insignificant things. Small things are just the beginnings of things. But things get watered. They get fed. They prosper and then, with just the right amount of nurturing, they bloom into something BIG. Something beautiful and meaningful. Then, and only then, do you get to look back and understand that out of meager beginnings come significant things!

That is a great analogy of what church planting is all about. Not much to see at the beginning, to be sure. Hence the idea of “planting”. All things planted need time to grow. They need to be nurtured, fed, watered, given plenty of sun light. If cared for the right way though, beautiful things will come. Significant things. Things that begin to give life to all those who behold what God has done.

And so it is with Renew Community Church. We are starting small, but don’t despise us for that. Its the best soil for God to do the cultivating and to grow something beautiful in His timing. Like our lives. We’d love to invite you all out to be a part of that process as Renew Church gets started this coming Thursday night, February 9th. Come, be a part and let God cultivate your life (renew it – hence, our name). As many of you know, we have our Informational Fellowship this coming Thursday at our home (see website and our Facebook page). We start at 7pm and we’d love to have you!

Let us know what you think about that verse, about the way God delights to bring beauty our of small beginnings…The Lord rejoices to see His work begin!

What the New Year Holds for Renew Church

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Whether you want to admit it or not, and whether your ready for it or not, the New Year is here to stay.

For Renew Community Church the New Year holds some exciting potential! After an unexpected Fall season, we are praying and preparing ourselves for a good start in 2017. We are beginning to fill out a calendar of events in the first quarter of the year that will, Lord willing, allow us to begin to gather together, to reach out and engage. As most of you are aware of by now, we start off with our Informational Fellowship on Thursday evening February 9th from 7-8:30pm at our home. We are excited to have a worship leader with us that evening who will lead us in “Behold our God”  and “The Power of the Cross.” I can’t think of two better songs to get Renew’s life started off than these two! As God’s people we should seek to always keep our gaze on Him! For as we look to Him we find our strength to engage in life with one another and as we then behold our God together in a corporate context, we find strength to reach out with the Good News of Life in Christ to the lost.

Want to get ready for our informational fellowship and set your heart ablaze with a vision of our God? Click on the two songs above and they will take you to where you can listen to each one of them. I am providing this so that if these songs are new to you, you can come on Feb. 9th prepared to worship! So what can you expect on February 9th? We will have an intimate gathering at our home where we will have some food, fellowship, vision-casting, worship and prayer for the lost. I want to encourage you each to consider who you might bring to that event who might have an interest in being part of Renew Community, or who might go out and share with others about our new church.

Beyond that evening, here is just some of what you can expect to see coming:

Renew Community Fellowship Meals and Prayer: A regular gathering beginning approximately a week later (stay tuned for exact date/time)
“Ring in the Spring” Block Party: We did one of these in the Fall but we thought moving it to Spring would be a nice touch!
Hosting Mission Teams: Renew has just formed a relationship with an out of state church that will begin to send mission teams this coming summer

Where do you fit into all this? I’d love to explore that with you but in the meantime, let me personally invite you out to our Informational Fellowship where you will worship with brothers and sisters in Christ, hear what God is up to in expanding His kingdom and get a vision of how you can be a part of what God is about to do.

Go Hard after God in All Things!

 

Informational Fellowship Meeting February 9

Third Times’ the Charm (We Hope!)


Happy New Year! We hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are ready for a new year in the Lord. It’s been a bit of a unique time for our family and by extension the church planting work that we feel God has called us to here in Southern Maine.

God has been faithful and used family illness and even the loss and grief of Ron’s Mother’s passing to deepen our understanding of Him and His work as we embark on this journey. You can read more of Ron’s thoughts on this season of life on his blog post here.

Finally, we wanted to let you know that we have rescheduled our Informational Fellowship to Thursday, Feb 9. We are praying the weather will hold for that day and we won’t have to reschedule AGAIN. They say three times the charm, right?

We’d love to see you at this gathering to learn more about what we feel called to do and to find out how you might be able to help expand the Kingdom of God here in the Kittery, Maine area.

If you would be willing to invite a friend, and forward this page to those who may help to help get the word out, we would be very grateful. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Sincerely,
The Plocinski Family


New Date

Thursday,
February 9

7:00pm-8:30pm

thurs-feb-9

Location
The home of our church planter
Ron and Melissa Plocinski:
2 Ledgewood Drive
York, ME 03909
(Just off Rt. 103)

map

RSVP

Please call Ron and Melissa at home or sign up using the form below.
(207) 606-0421

rsvp

Informational Fellowship RSVP

Lessons learned

header-leadership

Happy New Year!

It’s about two weeks late but I hope that greeting finds you all getting off to an encouraging start for 2017! So…how is the New Year shaping up for you? It’s probably kind of hard to tell at such an early point – right? After all, our typical new year’s resolution attempts are not only woefully pragmatic and short-sighted, but they are also very individualistic. Not that any of those are without any merit. After all, as Americans, we have within us that engrained individualistic, independent spirit befitting a country birthed out of a spirit of independence. But that individualism can certainly be a hindrance, especially when it comes to spiritual realities. Spiritual lessons can often be interpreted incorrectly, not seen or ignored altogether because of that streak of independence within us. After all, it can be difficult, even if you are a Christian to submit ourselves to the lessons God brings our way as he seeks to more fully conform us to the image of Christ.

What lessons can you look back on in 2016 that now have the benefit of a different vantage point? For me, the last half of 2016 was certainly not what I had planned! Melissa and I were supposed to have the Informational Fellowship of Renew Community Church (our “kick-off” event). I had planned for this event to go well, giving us the “boost” we need at the beginning of this ministry endeavor. As is often the case, God intended something different. He intended, and intends, His glory to be revealed in all things as He works out His will in our lives for his glory and for our good. So, how did God do that in my unexpected end of the year? I had no idea we’d have to cancel the Informational meeting, not once but twice! Not a good start for any church plant. Perhaps that’s the result of my prayer that God would go before us and do as He pleases in my church planting endeavors. Maybe that was a dangerous prayer, but I can’t help to continue to pray it even as we make plans to reschedule that event. I can now better understand that God was seeking to teach me that I need to release my “control” over our church planting activities and allow Him to lead, even when it’s through twists and turns and not a straight path.

So as we take that first big step into the unknown of 2017, I hope that under the kind, providential hand of God, you will have an over-abundance of “life, liberty and happiness”. But more than that, I hope that your soul will have greater longings, insatiable longings to draw closer to the God of the Scriptures who has seen fit to give us another year of life on this earth. I hope that this year will see you growing deeper – like that tree in the first Psalm – that because it is planting by streams of water, its roots grow deep and strong, giving much life and beauty above for all to behold. I hope that you become more beautiful in Christ!

So, happy New Year! Let me know how it is going for you, and how you hope to grow closer to God in this New Year. What lessons did you learn in 2016? What are you hoping for in 2017? Please post some comments, thanks!

I will leave you with my favorite quote: “It’s not great talents God blesses so much as it is great likeness to Jesus. Oh God, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be!” (Robert Murray McCheyne).

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