by Pastor Steve Murray | January 1, 2015
Dear Real Life Church
2015 is going to be a landmark year for Tina and I, and I believe it will be for the church as well. We've decided to start the year off focused with 21 days of prayer and fasting. We've done this several times, and every time has yielded great results. We want to invite the entire congregation to join us and the RLC leadership team as we take time to align ourselves with God, examine our lifestyle, and our contribution to others, with the purpose of honoring God in every area of our lives.
Something significant happens when a community chooses to focus on spiritual, physical and relational growth with one heart and mind. This is why we're calling this ONE HEART. Each of you can choose what and how you will fast and pray, but all of us will be in unity. We will begin together starting this Sunday, January 4th and will end with a Night of Worship on Saturday, January 24th at 6pm.
Tina and I have chosen a modified Daniel fast (visit http://danielplan.com for info) and will include early morning daily prayer. Some will fast media, some food and others certain luxuries. Whatever you choose to do, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in selecting what is right for you and avoid comparing yourself to what others are doing. We'll also be sending out daily devotional emails to help guide your prayer focus. Isaiah 58 describes the kind of fast God wants us to participate in. Many people fast so they can move the hand of God on their own behalf, but they miss the point. God tells us to go without so others can have. In other words, don't focus on getting Gods favor for yourself, focus in on hearing God's direction for you to help set others free. This is our goal with this fast.
During this journey, the church sanctuary will be open Monday through Friday from 6:30-7:30am for those of you who want to spend some time in prayer before work or school. Our prayer room will also be open for you to access during the day Monday through Friday (stop by the front office for access). Those of you that would like to set up your own prayer meetings at your home for others to join you, please feel free to do so (email Pastor Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help connect others to your group).
In addition to the fast, we'll be starting a brand new series called ONE HEART, where we'll be teaching about the power of having one heart for God, in our relationship with each other and the church, and in our God-given purpose. I believe that as we are aligned in this journey of prayer and fasting, we will launch into a healthy and blessed 2015 as a church and in our families!
It's with One Heart that Tina and I wish you a happy new year!
Pastor Steve and Tina
by Pastor Taylor Murray | April 14, 2014
*Click Here to see original post on taylormurray.me*
I graduated from Bible college and knew everything. I had my first 10 sermon series ready. I had all these ideas that I was GOING to implement within my first two days on the job. We were GOING to grow immediately. All my friends from Bible college were going to be jealous. People were gonna be like, “Noelle and Taylor are such great youth pastors. I wish I could live with them and have their awesomeness rub off on me…”
And then I woke up and realized how much of a cheesehead I was being.
Within a month of moving home from Bible college I was told that we were taking over the youth ministry. The first few months were great… We lost leaders, and some of the ones that stuck around didn’t want us there. Preaching was just awful. I quickly realized that all those brilliant sermon series I had prepared my sophomore year of college were just the opposite. They were just terrible. I was no longer surrounded by hundreds of other young leaders aspiring to build the church. I was in Maple Valley, a city about 1/100th the size of Portland. I was in my second year of marriage living upstairs in my parents’ house. I worked nights and Noelle worked days, which meant we saw each other at church and on Saturday mornings. And all of our free time consisted of trying to make this youth ministry not completely fall apart.
I pretty much hated everything. But for some reason God kept reminding us that we were on a journey… one that we’re still on.
We learned a tough lesson that we still have to re-learn from time-to-time: When you hate the process, the process hates you back and sets out to make your life miserable until you realize that God has you where you’re at for a reason. I know that’s long and not profound… but seriously. Whenever I got frustrated with where the youth ministry wasn’t going (weekly) or how many student’s weren’t coming (weekly), or the time I didn’t have to spend (daily), my focus was turned away from where God was trying to take me… what he was trying to teach me.
Thankfully I have a good wife who didn’t let me slump for too long. She constantly reminded me of what God had already done in such a short time. All the ways He’d provided. All the things that were actually working. Once I began to take my eyes off of the leaders we didn’t have, I was able to see the potential in the ones we did have. When I stopped focusing on the amount of students causing us stress (plenty), I was suddenly able to see the ones who were there, hungry.
Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
If your perspective is on what’s not working, it’s going to keep not working. If your perspective is on what God is doing in spite of what’s not working, you’ll suddenly see the a whole new set of opportunities.Don’t hate the process, embrace it.
by Pastor Steve Murray | January 23, 2014
Luke 18 tells us of a man of great influence, wealth and accomplishment, who asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” We might also venture to say that he meant, “How can I experience ultimate fulfillment?” Jesus responded, telling the man to “Go sell what you have and give to the poor.” Why did Jesus say this? It’s because He knew that accomplishment alone is not enough to sense fulfillment. It’s only when we give of what we have to meet a need that we find true fulfillment or “eternal life” (also translated as “Life of the Ages”).
When you use what you have (your knowledge, talents, experiences and resources) to serve others, things like depression, addiction and self-destructive behavior begin to decrease. When you start to contribute to your family, your community or your church, you’ll tend to start experiencing true fulfilment.
This is one of the greatest things you can teach your children at a young age. As my 3 boys grew up, we were constantly doing things like feeding the homeless, going to impoverished places and bringing shoes to children in villages. We tried to make these kinds of things a normal part of growing up. I would always say, “This is what Murrays do!” Now as grown young men, none of them suffer from a low sense of self-worth. All three are fulfilled in their lives, and much of that is because they are constantly contributing to the lives of others.
So, what about you? How are you contributing to those around you? What is the Holy Spirit putting on your hear to do? Who is he leading you to serve? Do you want to experience this “Eternal Life” here today?
Then, BRING IT!!!
by RLC | May 6, 2013
VISION NIGHT 2013 was a blast! We spent some time celebrating where we've come from, all that God's been doing, and where we're going. And then we PARTIED. We danced, ate a ton of food, and had a blast in the SUN! God is up to great things, and the future is bright for RLC!
If you missed it, here's our ANNUAL REPORT explaining the boring stuff (details, financials, goals, FAQ's, etc). If we've missed something, please email Taylor@reallifechurch.com.
by Pastor Steve Murray | April 10, 2013
Check out this special video message from Pastor Steve. He talks about Seasons we face, and how to respond (concluding message from Sunday, April 7th, 2013)
by Pastor Steve Murray | February 18, 2013
Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save that which is lost.” He certainly did a great job of doing just that. My prayer is that the same may be said of us as followers of Christ. In 2013, let’s commit to doing so as individuals and as a church community.
Jesus was in a constant pursuit of forgotten, oppressed, hurting, and even spiritually prideful people. Remember Zacchaeus in the tree and the woman caught in adultery? What about His story of the prodigal son and his “spiritual” brother? Or how about his attention to ignored children, his concern for the marginalized poor or the sick who were unclean, the demon-possessed guy separated from society? I think you get the point...
The people Jesus went looking for were people who have ended up in one (or more) of 3 conditions:
1. Lost Sight. They lost sight of what it means to love God with all their heart, soul and might. They often allow personal preferences, passions and sins guide them instead of submitting those things (the good and the bad) to God.
2. Lost in a System. These are people who have been forgotten or marginalized because of society, culture, economic status, even religion. We see this in Jesus being upset with those who ran the temple. Their system required you to bring an animal or buy one at the Temple for the sacrifice for their sins. Without money or an animal, the common people had no access to worship. To be marginalized is to be forgotten, ignored, unvalued. Jesus intentionally looked for these kinds of people.
3. Lost in Destructive Religious and Cultural Mindsets. Rules in and of themselves aren’t wrong, but if we’re not careful, they can have the tendency to override love and kindness, which are far more important. The Pharisees were just like this. They were okay with repaying evil with evil. They freaked out if someone even touched or helped a sick person on the Sabbath, saying they were spiritually defiled. Unforgiveness and judgmental mindsets are often unnoticed, yet so destructive and we can lose our way. There are many people who are lost in this way and don’t even realize it.
God wants us to live at peace with Him, with others and with ourselves. So, He intentionally sent Jesus to save us and exemplify the things that bring redemption to the world. Forgiveness, humility, honesty, authenticity, prayer, generosity, healing, encouraging, grace, finding the best in people. Throughout the New Testament, we find many ways that Jesus (and others) exemplified what it means to seek and save that which is lost (i.e. 1Cor 13; Romans 12:9-23).
As we grow in our walk with Christ and knowledge of His Word, we’ll begin to see that this “seeking and saving that which is lost” stuff is our job, too. Saving is more than just converting people to a belief that Jesus died for their sins. Salvation is realizing, receiving and responding to Jesus’ forgiveness and healing power. And following His example.
Here are a few goals for us to reach for in 2013:
1. Invite. Make it a habit of inviting someone to church. We ALL have neighbors, friends, our barista, family members, parents of our kids’ friends, etc. And don’t just invite people to church. Be open and available. You’ll never really know the impact that just ONE invitation, encouragement, prayer or act of kindness can have.
2. Seek out people who have never been Baptized and invite them to consider it.
3. Look Around, Don’t Assume. Next time you go to church, step back and look at the people there. Is there anyone you see who is neglected, forgotten, ignored, or simply by themselves? Is there a family in crisis, pain, or socially dysfunctional? Is there anything you can do to change or lift the burden from them? Don’t assume that someone else will see them, or that their friend is in the restroom. Reach out.
4. Join a LifeGroup. Invite those that are spiritually starved, hopeless, or just lonely.
5. Take a stand and speak up for someone or something that has no voice. The unborn, the imprisoned, those physically, mentally and society-challenged, etc. If you can’t find any, you’re probably not looking, because they’re all around. (Pr 31:8)
6. Spend some time with your enemy. Everyone has encounters with people who live or value lifestyles that violate our own values or lifestyle. But loving the enemy was at the top of the list for Jesus. He found the good in those who society considered to be evil. This is probably the most unobserved and misunderstood exhortations given by Jesus. As followers of Jesus, we are to seek and save the lost, including our enemies. This could be a neighbor who is a drunk, a boss who is condescending or even someone in the church who isn't quite as "far along" as you are.
7. Get out into the community. Participate in non-church events and activities. Join a club, get a membership, become a coach, take a class, work on a charity or fundraiser with community members who don’t have a faith background.
Let’s seek and save the lost—after all, someone did that for us!
by Pastor Steve | December 10, 2012
When Your DUCKS Get Moved
My wife likes her "ducks in a row." Everything is in its place, at the same time, every day. I'm a lot different. I prefer to play with them and throw them into a beautiful pile in a random order. This doesn’t go over well even if my artistic arrangement better serves her, they are still her ducks and she doesn’t want me to mess with them.
In the Church world, as well as in other communities, we have some of our own "ducks." Things like meeting times, traditions, styles, chair arrangements, office territories, titles, roles and other habitual experiences that make up our comfort zone. As Real Life Church blends two congregations to make ONE CHURCH, some of these preferences will probably be poked (sometimes intentionally, and other times unintentionally). This is to better serve our church, our families, our community and most importantly the Lord. Our problem is that, as the pastors and leaders, we've moved peoples' ducks with little warning. Some may be saying, “finally” or “I love it,” while others can’t seem to find anything good and are thrown off balance.
The reason God spoke to Moses to move millions of people out of Egypt was so that they could freely worship and have an abundant life. But, even though this was the intent, some hated having their ducks moved. They grumbled, complained and sowed discord so that they could get back to Egypt where they would have what was familiar to them.
We need to realize what took the Israelites too long to realize: you can’t ever go back. Many end up stuck in a wilderness state, not able to go forward and wishing they could get back to “normal”.
Here's a few things to consider so that we don’t end up like the grumblers, missing out on the promised land:
Embrace tension instead of resisting it. Things take time. When you see things that feel different or look insufficient, don’t freak out—just remind yourself that things are growing, changing and shifting, and this is a GOOD thing! And always ask yourself, "What can I do to help make this better/stronger/healthier?"
Find the good. The job of a police officer is to walk into a room or drive into a neighborhood and spot any sign of threat or disorder. Our job as Christians in community is a bit different. We find what’s working first and we celebrate it. On our first Sunday of joining two churches, I was startled to hear a few peoples' comments criticizing our children’s classes. After two weeks of cleaning, restructuring, and working so many hours (many people were at the church til 1am to prepare the classes), someone with a negative eye came in and found some minor problem and highlighted it. In this church community, we need to take a different approach. So many others walked in and thanked our workers and celebrated the over 100 children that were able to be checked in and taught God’s Word in a safe and fun environment. So, let’s find the good and celebrate it!
Be Available. Be ready to serve wherever and whenever you see a need. This will help you navigate through our new normal.
Let's open our eyes to see the Holy Spirit’s orchestration. So many Christians want God to move in their lives, yet they fail to respond when God-interruptions come. Church, let's look at interruptions, introductions, and irritations all as an opportunity for God to do new things in our lives and in our community.