Fingerprinted

By: Kevin Thomas, Lead Pastor
black and white fingerprint
I’ll confess: I’m boring.  I’ve never been arrested—for anything. I’ve never gone through the process of being detained, read my Miranda rights, fingerprinted, booked and locked in the slammer for the night. To some of you that’s a relief; while others of you are rightly disappointed.

Over the past months, the enCompass Leadership Board (click here if you aren’t quite sure who serves on our Leadership Board) has diligently sought to “fingerprint” our church. We’ve continually inquired, “What’re the unique qualities of enCompass that show up every time we touch something?” In our booking efforts, we’ve embraced three defining values of our church:

Belong. We believe every person needs and deserves a place where they are accepted, respected, valued and loved.  We want each person who walks through our doors (and into our lives) to let out a contented sigh of relief—as if they just settled into their own well-worn family room sofa. It’s not until we feel at home that we are truly ready to grow.

Grow. We believe every person wants to grow to become the person God created him or her to be. This growing process isn’t always easy, convenient or even enjoyable—learning to love and follow Jesus is filled with a wide variety of unexpected, and even unwanted, twists and turns. (See our series on “Seasons” for some examples.) Yet somehow through this mysterious journey our love for Jesus and for each other grows deeper and stronger.

Serve. We believe every person wants to make a difference with his or her life. At enCompass we’ve never stopped believing we are called to share God’s grace with an ever-expanding number of people. We aspire to share an attitude of grace, words of encouragement and practical support to those among us and those around us. In just a few days, we’ll head up to Camp Cherith for Memorial Day weekend as a tangible expression of our love for this camp that’s devoted to Jesus and over 600 campers each summer.

It looks likes we’ve all been fingerprinted—clearly marked with the unique design of church devoted to the cause of Jesus in our community.

Many thanks for being a part of our rather arresting endeavors.

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Sacrifice Bunts and the Conundrum of God’s Will

By: Deron Vaupel, Ministry Administrator

When I played baseball in high school, one of my coaches ALWAYS reminded us to know exactly what we were going to do with the ball if it came to us. As someone who wasn’t necessarily very good at baseball, it was usually pretty stressful when the ball was coming my way. If I field it cleanly, am I going to be able to turn the double play? Will the runner on second try to advance if I throw to first? What about making the cutoff from the outfield?

Always developing these hypotheticals meant that we had to keep our heads in the game, always know where runners were, how many outs, the score, and probably several other factors I’m forgetting. It was a lot of responsibility for someone who, as I already mentioned, wasn’t very good at baseball. But at the same time, it gave me a greater sense of confidence that I might be actually able to do something to benefit my team.

This situational awareness is a pretty basic practice for baseball, or any athletic endeavor for that matter. It’s also quite practical for life in general, given some conversations that have been happening recently at enCompass regarding purpose, calling, and where people are at in their faith journey.

In scripture, people called by God frequently have a very specific interaction with a supernatural being: an angel, the voice of God, etc. God provides specific direction for people about what needs to happen and how they will be a part of his work. However, in my limited experience, it’s actually rare that people have a direct intervention that provides clarity for their lives. It does happen, but not as often as we’d like.

For those of us who grow frustrated by this perceived ‘silence,’ there’s the example of Daniel  (Chapters 1-6). Scripture doesn’t have an account of Daniel being called to any particular area of ministry or service…rather it talks about his forced exile and slavery in the king’s court. But through those extremely challenging situations, Daniel was able to hold strong to his faith and conduct himself in a way that not only glorified God, but also led others to a deeper understanding of God as well. Somewhere along the way, Daniel learned that God had called him to a way of life that was about more than just himself, and that translated to an awareness of how to conduct himself in the most difficult of circumstances.

prepared baseball playerMy baseball experience and Daniel’s story have a pretty great intersection. As we seek to follow God’s calling in our day-to-day lives, there may be times where we are called into something uncomfortable, unexpected, or seemingly foolish. If we decide beforehand how we’ll handle whatever situation comes, we are much more prepared to handle ourselves in a manner that reflects God’s Kingdom. This falls right in line with Paul’s challenge in 2 Timothy 2 to be ready to preach the gospel in season and out of season. We may not have a clear sense of God’s specific calling in each of our lives, but at the very least we can have a developing awareness of how God might be creating opportunities for us to be used for his Kingdom.

Photo credit: slapstix55 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND