See how the people of enCompass are experiencing God both in the church and in their personal lives.
By: Mark Deisinger
Where I work we have a newly-opened café area. My employers believe that what software writers do is turn coffee into code, so they provide coffee and a few other amenities to us. Some other outfit keeps things stocked and functional. It's a nice arrangement, though the coffee and donut table at enCompass wins, hands down, for friendliness and, let's be honest, because of the donuts.
Caffeine does unpleasant things to me, but when I head downstairs in the morning to get a cup of decaf, I always see this sign, which I have arranged just so for a photo:
Delightful and reassuring, no? Yes. But also, sometimes, just completely wrong. In fact, sometimes the sign is dusty from not being touched for weeks. It just sits there, advertising the availability of fresh coffee, when in reality it has no clue whether the coffee is fresh or not. The sign is not smart or informed, and is not reliable.
Today as I write this was one of those days when the sign was … mistaken. I got a cup of decaf (it's the one with the orange proboscis), but when I took a sip I immediately and fully knew, as much as I've ever known anything, that the coffee was brewed the previous afternoon and had been sitting in the decanter for roughly 16 or 17 billion hours. All of the aromatic oils had dissipated or chemically changed into nasty, spiteful, cynical molecules with grudges. Oh, and trust me, those of you who can ingest actual caffeine, decaffeinated coffee doesn't really need any help in the “being bitter” department.
I've learned to be more careful about how much I trust the sign. Some things just aren't what they advertise themselves to be. You can certainly come up with your own examples. We all know that department stores that have sales all the time aren't really having sales; they're just playing with pricing to draw interest. Movie trailers are designed to hide flaws. I've heard it said that the goal of dating someone is to conceal information until it's too late.
But most of us need a jolt in the morning, for one reason or another. I don't think this is an accident. I think it explains why there is dew on the grass, and why sunrises can be so beautiful, and why the presence of newborns is refreshing.
The Israelites, after escaping Egypt, were given manna every morning (and a double portion the day before the Sabbath) to get them through the wilderness. That was a gift direct from God's own hand, and it kept the people from starving. It's also, of course, a lesson for us all that God stands ready to provide for us on a daily basis. Lamentations 3:22-23 says this (NIV):
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
His compassions are new every morning. If you put a sign in front of His compassions that said “Fresh Brewed This AM,” that sign would never be lying to you.
But that's kind of half the story. Just like I have to go to the café to get my decaf every day, the Bible hints quite a lot that we need to go to Him every day, too, to stay in touch and get some blessing action. I'm not a particularly stellar practicer of Christian disciplines, but I know they're important – private and communal prayer, private and communal worship, fellowship with other believers, acts of service and giving, and daily devotions.
I'm reminded of something a pastor of mine once said to me, speaking about a meeting he had with another person (he did not say who the other person was, and I don't even know if I knew the man). The man he was meeting with told him, speaking of his own spiritual state, “Pastor, I'm starving, but I'm not hungry.” What I believe he meant was that he knew, intellectually perhaps, that he desperately needed to be closer to God, to partake of the compassions that God had laid out for him, to eat of the spiritual food that was provided for him every day. Sadly, he didn't feel the urge to partake. His heart had gone cold toward God. A sad state of affairs, robbing him of the benefits of having a close relationship with the One who loves him best.
But there is hope, for that man and for us, all of us who have dry periods in our relationships with God and with others. Ezekiel chapter 37, which I will not quote here but you should go read right now, is the scene with the dry bones. God raises the dry bones up and gives them flesh and breath again so they once again live. He is, after all, the God of resurrection. Go get some fresh coffee.
By: Amber Harder, Communications
"It was Sunday morning and I was tired. It had been a particularly hard night with the baby, and not just that night but the 100 nights prior to it too. The thought of making it to church early to attend 9am Connect seemed overwhelming, exhausting, and next to impossible.
We broke the news to our kids over breakfast. “We’re not going to make it to 9am Connect today. We’ll just be going to church today.”' --Continue Reading
By: Deron Vaupel, Ministries Administrator
"Just like any other August, I expected our conversation to be about budget revisions for the coming fiscal year, but I was very mistaken. Instead, I was hearing from Kevin about his new job with Young Life, and my mind started going several different directions. What does that mean for me? What does that mean for enCompass? What time frame? What needs to happen in the next few months?..." -Continue Reading
By: Matt Deitner
"I don’t want to alarm anyone but enCompass seems to have a problem. As problems go it’s a good one to have. From the very beginning we had made up our minds that we wanted to be a church that impacted the local and global community positively for the Kingdom of God. We intended to do that through both the time that we spend serving and the gifts that the church receives. The problem that we realized existed is that we lacked a clear strategy for how to do exactly that..." -Continue Reading
By: Alex Blackwell, Student Ministry Pastor
"...A few weeks ago we had a student ministries event getting Nelson’s ice cream. When we walked in to the room we would sit down in to enjoy our MOUNDS of ice cream, I noticed what was very likely a date outside the window. I looked up at the students at our event and I started making up the voices and words that the couple was conversing about. Very innocent, I assure you – nothing against the couple..." -Continue Reading
By: Deron Vaupel, Ministry Administrator
"...There’s something special about younger dads coming together with ‘seasoned veterans’ to talk about our mistakes, successes, challenges, and hopes (not to mention the interspersed YouTube videos). We’ve learned a lot from each other about different ways to teach our kids and how to incorporate our faith into the day-to-day of parenting..." -Continue Reading
By: Mark Deisinger
"...It’s widely understood that the overwhelming majority of people on social media portray only the positive, happy parts of their lives. This leads to an insidious trick we play on ourselves. Here is the lie we tell ourselves: A lot of people, maybe most people, are happier than me..." -Continue Reading
Photo credit: Nick Harris1 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND
By: Samantha Sir
"...When I first came to enCompass, I did not let myself get attached. I have been hurt by the Church in the past and have been a part of several church families, causing me to stay guarded. Through a combination of the authenticity of the sermons, music, and most importantly the people, I have really felt accepted and valued in this family..." -Continue Reading
By: Sarah Arend
"...We need to internalize the truth before the attacks come so that when they do (which they will) we will already be equipped. In times of peace, or even when things seem mundane, it is so easy to get lax. It’s easy to look at past hardships and think, 'Well I’m glad that’s over so I can rest,' or even to think, 'Hey, you know I deserve a break after all this hard work.'..." -Continue Reading