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 Does It Matter?

A look into Week #3 of our Why? series curriculum…

Most people think that Christianity is irrelevant to their life. They wonder how these ancient documents written over 2,000 years ago could really apply to them today. They ask, “How is following Jesus’ teaching really going to make me a better person?” They wonder if it’s for real, and how it will really improve the quality of their life. But the reality is, the God who we worship is the same yesterday, today and forever and that His plans and purposes don’t change. And that same God has given us the Scriptures to instruct us in the ways of Him.

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you make. Your commitments can develop you or destroy you, but either way they will define you. Many of the hardships of life occur because we base our choices on unreliable authorities: culture, tradition, reason or emotion. We justify our actions with phrases like, “everyone else is doing it”; “this is the way we’ve always done it”; “it seemed logical” or “it just felt right.” However, these reasons are flawed by the fall. Therefore, we need to be committed to God’s final authority in our life, the Scriptures. For as Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

If you want to be prepared for every good work that comes your way, you need to decide to make the Scriptures the ultimate authority in your life and determine to first ask, “What does the Bible say?” when making decisions. For the Spirit of God, uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God.

Here is what Pastor Doyle had to say…

Is the Tithe Biblical?

I recently received an email from someone calling the tithe an Old Testament practice that had no relevance to Christians under the New Covenant. Here’s what the email said in support of the author’s statement, “The Bible does not anywhere indicate that tithing is applicable or expected in our time at all. It was a system which was brought in following the exodus from Egypt and the forming of the children of Israel into a nation of their own.” Here was my response…

In looking at the Old Testament practice of tithing we see that Moses communicated to the children of Israel, we tithe “so that [we] may learn to revere the Lord [our] God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23). As we all know, learning to reverence the name of God is a timeless principle—as crucial today, as in the days of Moses. Long before Moses, the Bible records Jacob’s promise to God, “Of all that you give me, I will give you a tenth” (Genesis 28:22). Long after Moses, Jesus reaffirmed the practice of tithing (Matthew 23:23)—not for outward appearances, but as an outward expression of an inward reality.

In tithing, we learn the principles of Christian stewardship and what it means to depend upon our heavenly Father and less upon ourselves. Therefore, the tithe becomes our standard, not out of a sense of obligation or to earn God’s favor, but as an act of worship, recognizing that God owns it all. However, I would also assert that the New Testament raises the bar on this principle of stewardship, with 2 Corinthians 9:7 setting forth the central New Testament principle for giving, “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.” In other words, God loves a hilarious giver, which suggests that we are to strive to go beyond the tithe in our offerings. In fact, I happen to know of many great men and women of the faith, who give upwards to 60-90% of their income to the Lord, not out of obligation, but out of love and devotion to God, who they believe owns it all!

I do agree that nowhere in the New Testament does it designate a percentage of the income that a person should set aside, but it does say that our giving should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Therefore, giving was strongly encouraged and a part of the New Testament system.  And because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:23, I believe that Jesus sets the “tithe” as the standard, but in no way should that limit us in our giving. For in looking at the Scriptures, we see that we can never out give God, and if we take this biblical practice seriously, I believe we will truly experience the blessing that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). I also believe that as the church lives out this standard, which it is far from realizing, we will fulfill the Great Commission in our generation and meet the needs our communities and world (Matthew 28:18-20).

So what do you think? How might you add to the conversation?

The Prayer of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick, who lived in the Fifth Century, was originally from Britain. He was captured and shipped to Ireland, which at the time was a violent, dark land of warlords and Druids, and endured six years of servitude as a slave. During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer, and he emerged with a strong, unbreakable bond with Jesus. He grew spiritually deep and wise, and gave himself in service to his Lord. He escaped the captors and returned to Britain. Later, God strongly led him to return to Ireland as a missionary. His courageous ministry, braving danger at every turn, ushered Christianity into the entire land. This powerful prayer is often attributed to him…

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

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?

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