Jun 19 2017

Study Break

Today I try something for the first time. No, it’s not cauliflower or rhubarb…I still haven’t tried those either. Today I am embarking on a spiritual, physical, mental and emotional journey called a study break.

A couple months ago, the elders at our church decided to give me a study break during a portion of the summer season. I have had a sabbatical before, which is an attempt at completely shutting off all ministry responsibilities, and it was one of the most difficult months of my life. I felt guilty every time I thought about work. I couldn’t understand why I was getting antsy and if there was something wrong with me since I couldn’t “shut it down.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I liked having a month off. In fact, if it wasn’t for Seacoast Church giving me that month off, I don’t know if I would have taken the time to explore the possibility of God calling us to start Front Range. Yet, as beneficial as it was for my future ministry, it was very difficult in the moment.

A couple years later, I began hearing pastors talk about a “study break”. It started with one of our overseers, Steve Stroope, and then I heard it from multiple church planters who were a few years into the journey. As I began to explore what a study break was, it seemed like something that would fit my personality a little better. A study break…removing myself from the day to day operations of the church to take a step back, get some rest for my soul, spend some quality time with my family and focus on a couple key elements of the church. So I don’t have to shut it down? This is more up my alley!

Today, I begin this new journey and I’m praying it’s something that allows me to find rest and look at the big picture of our church. I’m praying that I get some sweet time with my family, while diving into a couple crucial areas of our church. I’m hoping that I walk out of this new journey more filled, renewed, excited and clear about the next season God has for me, our family and Front Range.

I would ask that you pray for me during this time. Pray for God to reveal Himself in greater ways to me. Pray for the strength to finish my doctoral thesis. Pray for me to learn, create and see what it is God has for me and our church during this time.

I am going to include my schedule here, so you can be praying for me along the way.

June 19-22 – staying local. I will be working on my Thesis, reading 2 books and watching 4 teaching sessions on culture (2 by Sam Chand and 2 found on RightNow Media).

June 23-26 – Visiting a church in San Francisco. I have been asked to speak at one of our partner churches, Epic Church, and while I am there, I am hoping to “interview” a few staff and serve team members to learn about what makes their culture healthy. I always have someone travel with me on trips, so for this trip, I am bringing Waverly. She is so excited to be going on a “date” with daddy to a different city. ☺

June 26-30 – Staying Local. I will be working on my Thesis, reading a book on personal health (haven’t decided this book yet so any recommendations will be accepted ☺), attending 2 Leadership Master Classes online.

June 30-July 5 – Annual camping trip with family and friends.

July 5-July 9 – Staying local and serving at a FCA camp. I will be working on my Thesis, watching 3 sessions on vision through RightNow Media and serving at a FCA sports camp with my entire family (located in Greely, CO)

Thank you for taking the time to explore the journey I will be on. Please pray for me that God will use this time to bring rest, as well as insights into how I can better lead my family, our staff and the church God has allowed me to be a part of. Thank you!!!

In Christ’s Love,

Ernest Smith

Aug 17 2016

Prayer – Day Ten

You did it!! 10 Days of Focused Prayer. I’m so grateful to be a part of an incredible church that believes and practices the power of prayer. Thank you Front Range for being an incredible community of Jesus followers.

My prayer is that you will continue to make your prayer lives focused, intentional and consistent. May we not allow the busyness of life, the distractions of life or the attacks of the enemy to get our attention off of Jesus.

I would encourage you to document what God showed you or said to you during these last 10 days. May the truths He showed you these last 10 days be truths that permeate your heart and mind moving forward.

Thank you for being on this journey with us. Thank you for taking time to pursue God. Thank you for allowing God to use your prayers to impact the hearts and lives of others. Even if you don’t see it, the prayers you prayed for the lost, those in the church, the leadership, the missionaries that FR supports, our government and many more people, God will honor those prayers and people were impacted these last 10 days. Thank you for letting God teach you and use you.

Spend time today asking God what your next step is. Ask Him what He wants you to focus on in your prayer life moving forward.

Prayer Focus – Day Ten: Your Personal Prayer Life

Pray for God to give you a renewed passion and drive as it pertains to your prayer life. Ask God to help you to be intentional, consistent and focused in your prayers. Ask God to give you a small glimpse of how He uses your prayers to change you and bless others.  

Aug 16 2016

Prayer – Day Nine

As mentioned in two other posts, the Bible gives us the greatest examples of how to pray and what to pray for. We would do ourselves a disservice if we don’t look at not only the most popular prayer in the Bible, but the one that Jesus gives us as the example of what and how to pray.

In Matthew 5:9-13, Jesus says “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’”

When we look at this prayer, we see 5 major components that should be evident in our prayers.

First, we are to give God glory. Starting our prayers by giving God glory, keeps our focus on what truly matters…honoring God with our prayers, not getting what we want.

Second, we are to pray for God’s will to be done on earth, as it is in Heaven. Praying for God’s will is ultimately trusting that His will is better than our own.

Third, we are to ask God to meet our needs. We should daily ask God to meet the needs that arise in our lives.

Fourth, we are to pray for forgiveness. Every day, we sin and every day, we need to ask God to forgive us.

Fifth, we should pray for God to deliver us from evil. The enemy, Satan, is real and he is continually on the attack. We are to pray for God’s deliverance in our lives.

Jesus gives us the greatest example of what we should be praying for. Take time today and pray through these 5 components of the Lord’s Prayer.

Prayer Focus – Day Nine: Missionaries Locally and Globally

Pray for the missionaries that Front Range partners with. There are multiple local missionaries who work for different non-profits and para-church ministries. Please pray for God to use them in our own town and state. Pray for the global missionaries FR has partnered with in Ecuador, Kenya and Northern Africa. Pray God would use them to bring the Gospel to the unreached people of the world. 

Aug 15 2016

Prayer – Day Eight

We talked a couple of days ago about praying the prayers of the Bible. How the prayers in the Bible teach us how to pray and what to pray for. If you want to read the first post on this subject, check it out here.

The Apostle Paul had some incredible prayers. He taught us to never cease in our prayers and he gives us a good blueprint for what we should be praying for.

One of my favorite prayers is found in Romans 15:30-33, where Paul writes, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

This prayer teaches us one of the most important things to be praying for and that is leadership.

Throughout history, no matter the culture, it has always been easier to criticize leadership, rather than pray for leadership. It’s easier for me to pick apart what someone does or doesn’t do. It’s easier for me to think I could do a better job. I have struggled with this at different times in my life and when I find myself criticizing leadership, whether that is our president, governor, mayor, or a church leader, God always brings it back to prayer.

God doesn’t open the Heavens and yell at me to pray. But rather I get this small thought in my brain that says “Are you praying for this leader as much as you criticize him?”

I want to be known for my prayers for someone, not my criticism of them. I want to be known for encouraging my leaders and bringing them before God, not tearing them down and wishing God had chosen someone else.

Let’s take time today and ask God to bless our leaders. Whether we like them or not. Whether we voted for them or not. Whether we agree with them or not. Let’s pray for God’s presence to be known in their lives and for God to move mightily in their life and through their life.

Prayer Focus – Day Eight: Leadership at FRCC

Pray for the leadership of Front Range. Pray for all of our serve team leaders, coaches and directors as they help people serve in their passion and minister to people. Pray for our community group leaders as they lead people into a deeper intimacy with Jesus and community with one another. Pray for our pastors as they lead leaders and care for people. Pray for the families of our leaders, that God would bless them tremendous for all they do. 

Aug 14 2016

Prayer – Day Seven

Praying!! No matter your religious beliefs, when people are pressed with challenges or hardships, almost everyone prays. Which also means that almost everyone has had prayers not answered.

Did you know there are about 650 prayers recorded in Scripture? That is a lot of prayers. But, did you know that only roughly 450 of those prayers received an answer? That means that 200 prayers went unanswered…or did they?

Over the years, I have wrestled with my prayers not being answered. Why didn’t God answer this prayer? Did God not hear me on this one? Does God not care about this thing in my life? These are all questions we ask when we believe our prayers aren’t being answered, but what if God answers every question? What if every prayer I have prayed was answered?

I have come to the belief that every prayer I pray is answered by God in one of three ways. God may say “yes”. This is the best answer…at least in our limited knowledge. God may say “no”. This answer hurts. It can cause us to question God’s love for us. The last answer God may give is “wait”. Wait can be the hardest answer to hear.

Wait? Til When? What do I need to do to get a yes? What do I need to do in the mean time? Why are you asking me to wait

In our microwave culture, we want what we want, when we want it. The same is true in our prayers; however, God is trying to teach us to trust in Him. No matter the answer God gives us, we are called to trust. To trust that He knows what He is doing, He knows what is best, He knows our deepest longings and what will fill us up.

Proverbs 3:5-6 states, Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight your paths.

Take time today and ask God to help you trust more in Him. No matter the answers He gives you to your prayers, ask Him for more trust. That is one prayer He WILL answer.

Prayer Focus – Day Seven: Political Season 

Pray for the political season our town, state and country is entering. Pray that God would place the right leaders in the right positions. Pray that God would make it very clear who the best people are to best live out His values and His truths. Pray that through it all, we would see God’s hand and grace in our lives.