Community

The Power of Community

This past weekend we showed this video as part of our weekend services at SeaCoast Grace! I’m so inspired by these women who have courageously walked through a difficult season and found the hope and healing they needed, because of their willingness to face the pain and disappointment in their lives, in a safe community with others. Here are their stories…

A New Adventure

An open letter to the staff and leaders
of SeaCoast Grace Church…

Dear Friends:

This letter is a difficult one to write, because for the last four years SeaCoast Grace Church has been my home. The people have been my family. And the experience of worshiping here has been life-changing. When Jennifer and I started at SeaCoast in February 2009, the church still met in the East Auditorium and the ground for the West Auditorium had not even been broken, nor the vision shared. When I think about all that has happen over the last four years, I stand amazed at all that God has done and how He has provided through His people at SCG. These last four years, have been an exciting time in SeaCoast’s history. And it’s been an honor to be part of that journey.

This letter is even more challenging, given that the last year has been one of my most fulfilling and fun seasons of ministry in my career. I work with an incredible team of people, love the people I serve, and find myself really excited over the growing momentum for small groups. However, after four, personally transforming years at SCG, I believe God is leading me and my family on a new adventure, in order to be closer to our extended family. And so it’s with sadness and joy, I announce that I have given my notice at SCG and will be leaving to move back to Sacramento at the end of this month to accept a similar role at Hillside Christian Church in Roseville.

I fully intend to do whatever it takes to prepare SCG for this transition! And I’m fully confident that all of you will continue to champion the mission well. As I spoke with key leaders over this past weekend, I was encouraged to see their faith-filled reactions. They are some of the best leaders, I have ever worked with! Not only are they supportive of the mission, but they are passionately in love with Jesus. And knowing you and your character, I have full assurance that you will continue to bless these men and women as they faithfully lead this ministry forward.

Your prayers for me and my family during this transition are appreciated. Again, I say thank you for your leadership, support and for your commitment to this ministry. My life has been truly blessed and I leave a deeply grateful man.

Blessings,
Bryan Hardwick

Why Can’t I Do This On My Own?

A glimpse into Week #4 of our Why? series curriculum…

We were never intended to live our lives apart from God. In fact, it’s impossible to try to live the Christian life apart from Him. God has not called us into a relationship with Himself, only to leave us alone to find our way through the maze of life. Prior to His departure, Jesus promised a Counselor who would guide us into truth and act as our guide and companion. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, not only empowers us to become like Jesus, but he also fills us with a supernatural ability to do great things for God.

As Christians, God has placed the power source in our life and therefore we have access to unlimited power by plugging into God’s source for strength. And as we do, we will not only demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22-26, but experience a strength that we never would apart from the power of God.

Such was the experience of Peter, who apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, denied Christ three times, but who later under the power of the Spirit, proclaimed Christ boldly and won many to Jesus. When we as believers live in the power of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of the Spirit’s work is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.

Here’s what Pastor Doyle had to say…

Why Am I Here?

The most basic question everyone faces in life is, “Why am I here?”  At the heart of this question is, “What is my purpose?” Self-help books suggest that we should look within, at our own desires and dreams. But in order to really understand the answer to this question, we must start with God and His eternal purposes for His creation. Real meaning and significance comes from understanding and fulfilling God’s purposes for putting us on earth. God created us to worship Him, and until we understand that, life just will not make sense. To discover your purpose, you must turn to God’s Word, not the world’s wisdom.  As the Scriptures remind us, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone”  (Ephesians 1:11).

In Acts 9:1- 9, Saul of Tarsus thought he knew his purpose on earth. He thought he was serving God by passionately opposing anyone who espoused ideas about God that differed from traditional Judaism. When Jesus got Saul’s attention, by temporarily blinding him on the road to Damascus, God gave him the name of Paul and called him into a new life of speaking boldly about Christ’s identity as Lord and Savior of the world.

Each of us is God’s workmanship, His masterpiece. God has crafted you with specific abilities, passions, and training to be used for His glory. Though you may be prepared and suited to be a mechanic, administrator, cart driver, or song writer, your purpose is to glorify to God.  And whatever it is, God wants you to do it well! Bring glory to God in all that you are and all that you do!

To go a little deeper on this subject, check out Pastor Doyle’s message from the weekend services…

The Best of Orange County

The Orange County Register published it’s 19th Annual Best of Orange County today. However, in a world of chain restaurants and shopping outlets, the results were very disappointing, as the popular vote favored places like Taco Bell! Seriously…who votes for Taco Bell to be one of Orange County’s Best Tacos or Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour as the Best Restaurant in Orange County? Yes, I love Farrell’s! I worked there back in high-school. And I get why it wins for Best Ice Cream, but come on readers Best Restaurant? Certainly, we can do better than that! So, here’s my own list of the Best of Orange County, based on some of categories in today’s newspaper…

Best Bowling Alley: 300 Anaheim

Best Family Attraction: Disneyland Resort

Best Grocery Store: Trader Joe’s

Best Organic Food Selection: Sprouts

Best Beach: Crystal Cove State Park

Best BBQ: Beachwood BBQ

Best Breakfast: Crema Cafe

Best Fast Food: In-N-Out Burger

Best Chinese: Fortune Cookie

Best Cupcake: Sprinkles

Best Ice Cream: Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour

Best Frozen Yogurt: Yogurtland

Best Hot Dog: Portillo’s

Best Mexican: El Torito Grill

Best Steakhouse: Park Ave

Best Italian: il Garage

Best Seafood: Original Fish Company

So what are some of your Orange County favorites?

God Uses Imperfect People

Think God can’t or won’t use you? Well, you’re in good company! If you think about it, there are many reasons why God shouldn’t have called you, or me, or anyone else for that matter. But God doesn’t wait until we’re perfect to use us! In fact, the Scriptures are full of the stories of men and women, who in spite of their greed, lust, impulsiveness and imperfections, where used greatly by God to fulfill His purposes. Here’s a few examples, from the Bible’s who’s who:

Abraham lied
Sarah laughed at God’s promises
Moses stuttered
David’s armor didn’t fit
John Mark was rejected by Paul
Timothy had ulcers
Hosea’s wife was a prostitute
Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning
Jacob was a liar
David had an affair
Solomon was too rich
Jesus was too poor
Abraham was too old
David was too young
Peter was afraid of death
Lazarus was dead
John was self-righteous
Naomi was a widow
Paul was a murderer, so was Moses
Jonah ran from God
Miriam was a gossip
Gideon and Thomas both doubted
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal
Elijah was burned out
John the Baptist was a loudmouth
Martha was a worry-wort
Noah got drunk
Did I mention Moses had a short fuse? So did Peter, Paul and lots of folks!

Satan will tell you, “You’re not worthy!” But Jesus says, “So what? I AM.” Satan will tempt us to look back and sees our mistakes. But God looks back and sees the Cross. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. So say “yes” to God and watch him do something amazing in you and through you today!

A Grace Filled Response

In reading the headlines and social media threads over the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A founder Dan Cathy’s comments, I was reminded of Bill Hybels loving and grace filled response to Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, who under pressure from a gay advocacy group, canceled his appearance at the Leadership Summit, just a few days before the event.

I encourage you to listen to Bill’s response, made in front of a global audience at last years Summit, for I believe his wise words can speak to the issues of our day and give us some great ideas on how we can lovingly respond…

Creating Margin

In reading the recent headlines, I believe that our society is suffering from a societal epidemic: overload! We’re exhausted and hurting, struggling to keep up with life. We feel distressed, but we’re not clear why. We’re besieged by anxiety and fatigue; and our relationships and bodies are suffering because of it. The flood of daily events seems beyond our control. The bottom line is that we are overloaded, and we’re living on the edge.

Today our stress levels are unprecedented and studies have reported that 80% of Americans need to reduce stress in their lives. Change, debt, hurry, noise and complexity all contribute. Because of a rapidly changing job market, we’re more insecure. Because of the breakdown of the family, we’re more alone.

This past month at SeaCoast Grace Church we talked about the need to create margin in our lives by honoring the Sabbath, creating moments of sanctuary with God, and subtracting the things that keep us distracted in our pursuit of him. Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Without margin, especially in the key areas of emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances, any sense of well-being is unlikely.

In the past, margin was a normal part of people’s lives. They lived on farms. They had time to help a neighbor and attend social events. And they didn’t have all the shiny things that distract us from resting. Unfortunately, what was designed to make our lives simpler has only made it more complex. We’re dialed in 24/7 and have so much information at our fingertips. But, are we really better off?

So if you find that your emotional energy is gone, how do you get it back? Here are six things to consider:

  1. Cultivate social support systems –  Some people fill us, others drain us. We need to intentionally develop relationships that nurture us, with people who understand us and care about us.
  2. Get a pet – Pets are loyal and often affectionate—just the kind of things that increase our emotional reserves.
  3. Reconcile relationships – Broken relationships are huge emotional drains. Forgive and let go!
  4. Rest – Try to set aside time regularly to just “be still” and let God be God!
  5. Laugh – Nothings recharges my battery like a good laugh. Spend time with friends or doing things that make you laugh. Nothing like a good I Love Lucy episode for me!
  6. Create appropriate boundaries –  We need to be able to say “no” at times, so we can say “yes” to God’s best!

Day of God & American Independence

Back in 1986, I spent the 4th of July in the Soviet Union. I remember that day like yesterday! And for the last 26 years, I have reflected back on it with fond memories. You see, on that day, a Soviet college student named Alex and I met on the streets of Leningrad and struck up a conversation about America and God. Alex so wanted to be an American. He had heard so much about this land of freedom. And despite the Soviet propaganda of the time, he believed America was a land of hope.

Being that he wanted to be an American, I mentioned to Alex that on every 4th of July, America pauses to give thanks to God for their freedom and independence. We talked about how America’s freedom came with a sacrifice; and we eventually talked about the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made on behalf of everyone in the world, in order to know and experience freedom in Christ. It was a long conversation, one that led way into the morning hours. In fact, with the white nights of now St. Petersburg, we were completely unaware of how late it was and almost missed getting back over the bridge, in order to get back to our hotel for the night.

Before meeting Alex, he had never heard of God. But he was so intrigued by our conversation, especially after showing him our American currency, which says, “In God We Trust,” that he was willing to make certain sacrifices in order to engage in a conversation about spiritual things. That night as the taxi dropped us off at the hotel, Alex thanked us for spending the day with him. And as we parted ways, his last words to me where, “Today will always be known to me as the Day of God and American Independence!”

Twenty-six years later, I still remember my day with Alex and pause to pray for him. I don’t know if he ultimately got to America. I don’t know if he remembers our conversation. I don’t know what God is doing in his life. But God does. And I hope that one day in heaven, there will be a man named Alex who taps me on the shoulder and says, “I never forgot the Day of God and American Independence!”

Happy 4th of July!

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