The Vineyard Church | Syracuse Site http://vineyardny.org Fri, 24 Jun 2016 17:13:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 Heroes & Villains http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/20/heroes-villains/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/20/heroes-villains/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 19:07:48 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6638 “Heroes & Villains” June 16th – 19th, 2016 Chris Honess, Westcott Site Pastor “The Messiah – The One Who is to Come” Jesus is the Hero. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  . . . I have […]]]>

“Heroes & Villains

June 16th – 19th, 2016

Chris Honess, Westcott Site Pastor

The Messiah – The One

Who is to Come

  1. Jesus is the Hero.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  . . . I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.

John 1:29, 34 p. 1063

  1.   Sometimes it is difficult to believe.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Matthew 11:2-3 p. 976

  1.   We are blessed when we believe.

Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

Matthew 11:6 p. 976

 

Helpful Steps to Believe . . . Even when it’s Tough

  1. Look back and remember.
  2.  Look outside your circumstances and reflect on God’s activities.

 

Action Step:   I will look back and remember this week.

 

Watch the full message here.

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Six Sayings of a Healthy Family – Week 6 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/13/six-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-6/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/13/six-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-6/#respond Mon, 13 Jun 2016 19:06:23 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6584 “Six Sayings of a Healthy Family” June 9th – 12th, 2016 John Elmer, Lead Pastor “I’m Sorry” Families are made up of broken people. . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . Romans 3:23 p. 1129   When we say “I’m sorry,” we bring healing. […]]]>

“Six Sayings of a Healthy Family

June 9th – 12th, 2016

John Elmer, Lead Pastor

I’m Sorry

  • Families are made up of broken people.

. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .

Romans 3:23 p. 1129

 

  • When we say “I’m sorry,” we bring healing.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

James 5:16a p. 1219

 

How to say “I’m Sorry”

  1. Recognize your responsibility in the situation.

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment . . .

Romans 12:3 p. 1137

  1.   Be humble enough to admit it to the other party.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,” God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

1 Peter 5:5 p. 1223

  1.     Do not minimize.

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Matthew 5:37 p. 970 

  1.   Change behavior.

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.

Matthew 3:8 p. 967

 

Action Step:   I commit to follow Jesus for the first time.

 

Watch the full message here.

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Profiles: Amanda Ward http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/08/profiles-amanda-ward/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/08/profiles-amanda-ward/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2016 16:40:05 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6551 By Doug Dowty Can heavy metal, tattoos and administrative work bring you to Jesus? Amanda Ward knows for sure. The 23-year-old dynamo says she’s always seeking Jesus. But that doesn’t mean losing your soul. Now the administrative assistant and youth intern at the Vineyard in Syracuse, Amanda spent her later teen years in the church’s […]]]>

Heavy metal, tattoos and Jesus

By Doug DowtyAmanda Ward

Can heavy metal, tattoos and administrative work bring you to Jesus?

Amanda Ward knows for sure. The 23-year-old dynamo says she’s always seeking Jesus. But that doesn’t mean losing your soul.

Now the administrative assistant and youth intern at the Vineyard in Syracuse, Amanda spent her later teen years in the church’s youth group. She met her longtime ex-boyfriend there.

But she’s also run the fan group for Christian heavy metal group Manic Drive. She took lots of photos – another of her loves – and started the fan group before the band even knew she existed. They later allowed her to continue.

“I like having people’s backs,” she says. “I like watching people succeed and being in the background.”

After a difficult breakup, she reconnected with herself and Jesus by getting an ever-growing number of tattoos: the Holy Spirit and God are referred to as ocean or water on her right arm. And there’s also Batman. She quotes Batman Begins: “Why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”

Even as a young teen in Solvay – when her family was between churches – Amanda never let go of Jesus. She hung out with the pot-smokers and counterculture crowd, but never felt pressured into it herself.

People knew what Amanda believed: “I like Jesus, and that’s it,” she recalls of being a teen. “I prayed every day.”

Those loves – of helping others, breaking the norm and loving Jesus – haven’t left her. “I’m still that kid, but I’m a grown up now,” she says.

But she learned a valuable lesson a few years ago. After meeting her boyfriend at Vineyard youth group, the couple continued being involved in everything from weeknight youth groups to retreats. Eventually, the couple grew further apart, but kept trying to make it work.

Despite finding a boyfriend at church — in the “perfect” way — Amanda knew she was starting to lose touch with God.

When the relationship ended, she reconnected to God by returning to her counterculture roots. And she realized just how easy it was to get wrapped up in something else. She learned it’s OK to break the norm.

Amanda knew that the next step she was supposed to take was a college degree. She’d always loved photography, and so she planned to attend Cazenovia College.

But she was conflicted. So she sought out her longtime mentors, Vineyard pastor Evan Brownell and his wife, Michela. They had another option: Amanda could intern at the church.

Amanda ultimately decided to stay at the Vineyard, a decision she doesn’t regret.  “I love administrative work!” she says with an excited smile.

Her internship ends in November. And whatever happens next, she’s confident Jesus will lead her in the right direction.

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6 Sayings of a Healthy Family – Week 5 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/05/6-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-5/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/06/05/6-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-5/#respond Sun, 05 Jun 2016 20:06:57 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6498 June 2nd – 5th, 2016 John Elmer, Lead Pastor “Let’s Talk” The quality of our communication determines the quality of our relationships. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Proverbs 10:11 p. 637   Keys to Healthy Communication      Be positive. Therefore encourage one […]]]>

June 2nd – 5th, 2016

John Elmer, Lead Pastor

“Let’s Talk”

The quality of our communication determines the quality of our relationships.

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

Proverbs 10:11 p. 637

 

Keys to Healthy Communication

 

  1.    Be positive.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 p. 1188

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24 p. 644

 

  1.   Ask questions and really listen.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry . . .

James 1:19 p. 1216

 

  1.   Speak the truth in love.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 p. 1175

 

  1.   Have spiritual conversations.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect . . .

1 Peter 3:15 p. 1222

 

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deuteronomy 6:7 p. 182

 

Action Step:   I will have a 10 minute conversation with the person in my family who I talk to the least.

 

Watch the full message here.

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6 Sayings of a Healthy Family – Week 4 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/30/6-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-4/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/30/6-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-4/#respond Mon, 30 May 2016 16:53:31 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6479 “Six Sayings of a Healthy Family” May 26th-29th, 2016 Jess McCray, Pastoral Intern “NO” When our NO says YES to God’s plan for our family   Say NO to busy and say YES to rest. The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside […]]]>

“Six Sayings of a Healthy Family

May 26th-29th, 2016

Jess McCray, Pastoral Intern

NO

When our NO says YES

to God’s plan for our family

 

  1. Say NO to busy and say YES to rest.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.

Psalm 23: 1-3 *pg. 548

                                                                                                                        

  1.   Say NO to frenzy and YES to focus.  

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 pg. 1041

 

  1.   Saying NO is an act of love.  

Now Jesus LOVED Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazurus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

                                                                                                               John 11:5-7 pg. 1076

 

Action Step:  I will say NO to _________________ so my family can say YES to rest, focus and love.

Watch the full message Here.

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6 Saying of a Healthy Family – Week 3 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/27/six-saying-of-a-healthy-family-week-3/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/27/six-saying-of-a-healthy-family-week-3/#respond Fri, 27 May 2016 13:28:18 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6436 May 22, 2016 How Can I Help? By Gary Dawkins 1. Identify a need.  . . . so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the […]]]>

May 22, 2016
How Can I Help?
By Gary Dawkins

1. Identify a need.

 . . . so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him
John 13:4-5 p. 1079

2. Take action.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.
John 13:14 p. 1080

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5:13 p. 1171

3. Acknowledge your blessings.

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13:17 p. 1080

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:38 p. 1033

Action Step: I commit to dedicate at least one hour of my time this week to helping someone else.

Watch the full message Here

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6 Saying of a Healthy Family – Week 2 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/16/six-saying-of-a-healthy-family-week-2/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/16/six-saying-of-a-healthy-family-week-2/#comments Mon, 16 May 2016 10:50:33 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6354 May 15, 2016 Let’s Go To Church By John Elmer Families do best when part of a church. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 *p. 1082 Though one may be […]]]>

May 15, 2016
Let’s Go To Church
By John Elmer

Families do best when part of a church.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 *p. 1082

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 p. 665

How to Grow Healthy Roots in Church

1. Make being part of church life a high priority.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 p. 1211

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
Proverbs 14:8 p. 641

2. Talk about spiritual life together.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 p. 182

3. Do ministry together.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10 p. 1174

Action Step: I commit to have a conversation with my family about our role at church.
*page numbers for sanctuary Bibles.

Watch the full message Here

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6 Sayings of a Healthy Family – Week 1 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/10/6-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-1/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/10/6-sayings-of-a-healthy-family-week-1/#respond Tue, 10 May 2016 14:36:36 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6280 May 8, 2016 I Got Your Back By John Elmer 1. We are called to carry one another’s burdens. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 p. 1171 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their […]]]>

May 8, 2016
I Got Your Back
By John Elmer

1. We are called to carry one another’s burdens.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 p. 1171

But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
1 Timothy 5:4 p. 1194

2. Healthy families stick with each other.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17 p. 645

Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:7 p. 1152

3. Healthy families bring the Kingdom of God into each other’s lives.

Since they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof over the place where Jesus was. Then they lowered the cot on which the paralyzed man was lying.
Mark 2:4 p. 10

Action Step:

I commit to “I Got Your Back” for a family member this week.

Watch the full message Here

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The Jesus Experiment – Week 6 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/04/the-jesus-experiment-week-6/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/05/04/the-jesus-experiment-week-6/#respond Wed, 04 May 2016 15:24:40 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6219 May 1, 2016 You will be my Witness John Elmer, Lead Pastor You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart – Jeremiah 29:13 We are to invite people to connect with Jesus. “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. […]]]>

May 1, 2016
You will be my Witness
John Elmer, Lead Pastor

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart – Jeremiah 29:13

We are to invite people to connect with Jesus.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come.”
Matthew 22:2-3a

Telling our story is a priority.

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
John 1:41

  1. Where I was.
  2. What Jesus did.
  3. How that changed me.
Invite them to take a step.

“Come and see,” said Philip.
John 1:46

 

Watch the full message Here

Action Step:

Share your story with someone else.

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The Jesus Experiment – Week 5 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/24/the-jesus-experiment-week-5/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/24/the-jesus-experiment-week-5/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 01:34:33 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6162 April 24, 2016 Give by John Elmer, Lead Pastor You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart – Jeremiah 29:13 Jesus calls us to be radically generous. “Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, […]]]>

April 24, 2016
Give
by John Elmer, Lead Pastor

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart – Jeremiah 29:13

Jesus calls us to be radically generous.

“Freely you have received; freely give.”
Matthew 10:8

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:38

“Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Matthew 19:21

Generosity goes against the grain.

(It is killed by debt, greed, and fear.)

Generosity is released when we buy into a greater purpose.

“They begged us to take the money so they could share in the joy of helping the Christians in Jerusalem.”
2 Corinthians 8:4 (TLB)

“Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything–all she had to live on.’”
Mark 12:43-44

How to start:
  1. Start tithing.
    “I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty
    Malachi 3:11
  2. Give something to someone.
Action Step:

I will take the ‘Tithing Challenge’

Watch the full message Here

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The Jesus Experiment – Week 4 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/18/the-jesus-experiment-week-4/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/18/the-jesus-experiment-week-4/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 13:25:28 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6148 April 17, 2016 Heal the Sick by John Elmer, Lead Pastor You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13 Health is a big issue. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. John 5:3 Jesus often brought incredible […]]]>

April 17, 2016
Heal the Sick
by John Elmer, Lead Pastor

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

Health is a big issue.

Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.
John 5:3

Jesus often brought incredible moments of healing.

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
Matthew 14:14

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick you your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
Matthew 28:19-20a

Jesus’ followers are to continue to bring healing.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Matthew 10:8

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

We can use the Five Step Prayer Model:

1) Ask and listen.
2) Invite the Holy Spirit.
3) Pray.
4) Check in.
5) Bless what God is doing.

Action Step:

Pray for a person who is sick.

Watch the full message here.

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The Jesus Experiment – Week 3 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/10/the-jesus-experiment-week-3/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/10/the-jesus-experiment-week-3/#comments Sun, 10 Apr 2016 22:37:02 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6137 April 10, 2016 Give to the Poor by John Elmer, Lead Pastor You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13 When we follow Jesus we will do God’s works. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only […]]]>

April 10, 2016
Give to the Poor
by John Elmer, Lead Pastor

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

When we follow Jesus we will do God’s works.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 7:21

Caring for the poor is God’s heart.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

When we serve the poor, our relationship with Jesus is enhanced.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.
Proverbs 19:17

“Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”
Acts 10:4b

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
Matthew 25:34

Action Step: I will help pack meals during Feed My Starving Children

 

 

Watch the full message here.

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The Jesus Experiment – Week 2 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/04/the-jesus-experiment-week-2/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/04/04/the-jesus-experiment-week-2/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 12:12:47 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6108 April 3, 2016 Receive the Holy Spirit by John Elmer, Lead Pastor You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13 The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the […]]]>

April 3, 2016
Receive the Holy Spirit
by John Elmer, Lead Pastor

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…
Matthew 28:19

When you connect with Jesus you receive the Holy Spirit.

…the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
John 1:33b

When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…
Ephesians 1:13b-14a

The Holy Spirit helps us experience the Father’s love.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:16-17

Action Step: I will sit and listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit this week.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

View the whole message Here

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Profiles: Chris Holmes http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/03/31/chrisholmes/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/03/31/chrisholmes/#comments Thu, 31 Mar 2016 16:49:50 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6095 By Doug Dowty Chris Holmes had to lose the girl to find Jesus. At least, that’s how it worked out. Holmes, 34, had other loves in life: basketball (he played semi-pro), drinking (he was a bartender), rap music (Eminem) and partying (Armory Square circuit). He’d been the popular jock at Onondaga High School, setting records […]]]>

By Doug Dowty Chris and Renee

Chris Holmes had to lose the girl to find Jesus. At least, that’s how it worked out. Holmes, 34, had other loves in life: basketball (he played semi-pro), drinking (he was a bartender), rap music (Eminem) and partying (Armory Square circuit).

He’d been the popular jock at Onondaga High School, setting records in football, basketball and track. He first dunked at age 17, despite being under 6 feet tall.

His plan was to attend junior college near Albany and become a professional basketball player. But after a brief stint with the Albany Patroons team, he returned to Syracuse and bounced between jobs.

His first long-term girlfriend was Catholic, so he went through the motions to get confirmed. The faith didn’t stick. A few years later, he had two children with another girlfriend. But the couple turned out to be “oil and water,” Chris recalls, and that relationship ended, as well.

Then, in September 2013, he took a chance on an online date. Her name was Renee. And he knew there was something different about her.

“She didn’t need anyone to be happy,” Chris recalled. “I thought she was way out of my league.” But Renee Markus took a chance on Chris, too. She started coming to all of his rec league basketball games. She loved her family and the outdoors. She got along well with Chris’s two girls, ages 4 and 9, who split time between Chris and his ex-girlfriend.

Renee had grown up in a religious family, but wasn’t going to church regularly. Early on, God wasn’t a big part of their relationship, Chris recalls.

Together, they started going to church. And the experience changed Renee. For Chris, those changes weren’t always welcome.

He was bartending in Syracuse’s South Side. Renee didn’t feel comfortable around all the drunks anymore.

He was still listening to explicit music. She wanted him to stop. He wanted to be extremely physical. She wanted to slow down.

After two years and mounting friction, Renee called Chris last fall: it was over.

Distraught, Chris turned to the pastor of the church they were attending in Liverpool. “Let her go,” the pastor advised. She’s not interested in you anymore.*

That turned Chris’s world upside-down. But in the pain, he found a Savior. He started seeking God at every opportunity. That included coming to the Vineyard on Saturdays for worship. He joined a Bible Study at the Liverpool church.

“Through the heartache, I found Christ,” Chris said.

Secretly, that’s all Renee wanted all along. She took another risk and decided to break the silence.

“I didn’t think you’d ever talk to me again,” Chris told her. “I found my strength in Jesus.”

Renee’s prayers had been answered. In the past month, the couple got back together.

“I was too concerned with things that aren’t important,” Chris said. He’s left bartending and got a promotion at a Verizon store. And he’s promised to take one day at a time with his lost – and found – love of his life. Chris says he’s a new man, and Renee says she’s seen the changes in him.

He’s been proving himself over and over again since they got back together, she said. “How impossible all this without a Creator is!” Chris declared.

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The Jesus Experiment – Week 1 http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/03/28/the-jesus-experiment-week-1/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/03/28/the-jesus-experiment-week-1/#respond Mon, 28 Mar 2016 14:02:03 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6055 March 27, 2016 Follow Me by John Elmer, Lead Pastor You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13 Jesus invites us to follow Him. After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow […]]]>

March 27, 2016
Follow Me
by John Elmer, Lead Pastor

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13

Jesus invites us to follow Him.

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and follow him.
Luke 5:27-28

Follow me includes total allegiance and focus.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

Life is best when we follow Jesus.

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”
Luke 18:29-30
Action Step: I am committing to follow Jesus for the first time today.

I am committing to do “The Jesus Experiment.”

 

See the full message Here

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Profiles: Will Abt http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/01/31/willabt/ http://vineyardny.org/blog/2016/01/31/willabt/#respond Sun, 31 Jan 2016 17:24:36 +0000 http://vineyardny.org/?p=6078 By Doug Dowty Will Abt had it all: drugs, girls and cars. A Tipp Hill drug dealer, he was clearing $3,000 a day. He had two 70-inch televisions, a truck, two motorcycles and a car. But that wasn’t all. Will was also an honors graduate from West Genesee. He earned an honest living in an […]]]>

High-rolling drug addict back from brink:
“I started praying my a** off!”

By Doug Dowty Will Abt (1)

Will Abt had it all: drugs, girls and cars.

A Tipp Hill drug dealer, he was clearing $3,000 a day. He had two 70-inch televisions, a truck, two motorcycles and a car.

But that wasn’t all. Will was also an honors graduate from West Genesee. He earned an honest living in an auto shop.

He was living two lives.

He knew God existed: Jailed as a teen for illegal pills, he’d been locked up with inmates who yelled and screamed.

After a week of no sleep, he fell on his knees and prayed. Ten minutes later, a guard told him the news: he’d been released until his court date.

But years went by, and the dark side took over.

He began dealing drugs after getting hooked on painkillers after a motorcycle crash. He’d been robbed at gunpoint. He’d retaliated.

Terrified, Will went to rehab in Florida three times. The first two times, he relapsed the day he left.

But he rediscovered church in Florida. And God moved again.

“I threw my hands in the air, and started to feel a warm, comforting sensation,” Will says. “I felt a hand on my shoulder, and for a minute, I felt weightless. It was as though God was telling me just open myself up, make myself able to receive Him and he would make everything all right.”

The Florida church sent Will to the Syracuse Vineyard when he came home. But the demons continued. He’d worship and connect with God, but get high as soon as he left.

His third time in rehab ended in 2015. He got a job in Florida fixing up high-end cars, like Lamborghinis. But he relapsed again.

Back in Syracuse, Will got busted with drugs. He wound up in jail for months.

Will knew this was his last chance to make something of his life.

His dad promised to stop talking to him if he ever got in trouble again. His twin brothers, only 5, hadn’t really ever known him.

“I started praying my a** off,” Will says.

He pleaded guilty and got three years’ probation. With help from Vineyard pastors, Will got a construction job and started a group for parents with drug addict kids.

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