Focus

Dear Church,
How easily distracted are you? Some believe that our attention span is around 10 seconds. That means by the end of this sentence you are already thinking about something else. HEY! COME BACK! It gets even worse when we are surrounded by things that may be threatening or harmful to us. So how can we live lives focused on Jesus?
 
In Psalm 25 David wrote, “My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” Notice a few things here.
 
  1. Focus on the Lord does NOT mean we won’t get caught in a snare. Hard times are going to happen in life. It doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong. Jesus never promised that life would be absent of struggle-follower or not.
  2. Focusing on what’s wrong won’t fix it. The whole point of a snare (trap) is that you get stuck. They are designed, not only to get you stuck but to keep you stuck. The more you focus on the trap the more likely it is that you are just going to get more stuck.
  3. The Lord can only release you if you put your faith in him. Do we really believe that “only he will release my feet”? We will only look to the Lord if we actually believe he can and will release us. We don’t believe it because we are released, but rather when we believe it we will then be released.
 
If you are still reading, congratulations on staying focused all the way to the end. Let’s also realize that many others never made it past the first paragraph. As disciples who make disciples, part of our job is to help others focus on Jesus through their hard times too. Be ready with a word of encouragement for them, and remember that they are always watching you-hard times or not.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


New Year, New Outlook

Dear Church,
Happy New Year! It’s 2019 now and with the new year comes the idea of fresh determination, inspired goals, and a resolve to get things done. In years past I have determined to eat healthier, to exercise more, and to clear the house of all clutter. While I started out excited and consistent, my resolve eventually faded by spring, every single time! My determination grew stale, my inspiration dissolved, my resolve gone. 
Why? Why after so many promises to myself, and the effort that initially went in, would I give up? So many plans and dreams of what my life would look like 6 months down the road, gone by the 3 month mark!

In December I began thinking of all the things I wanted to do in 2019, the goals and the plans to accomplish them. And I thought, as maybe you did, what’s the point? Who am I fooling? I know there is no point, I will fail! And I would have. I would have failed if I kept my goals focused on me, and looked to meet them in my own strength. I would have failed if my inspiration was from anyone other than the Lord. I will fail every time if that is my formula.  But God! I love these two, seemingly simple, words. But God! I have now set this as my goal for 2019: To delight in the Lord, and seek ways to bring Him glory in every single situation I face. Easier said than done. This has already been tested in these first 8 days of 2019. My New Year’s Eve was spent in urgent care after falling and hurting my wrist. I rang in the New Year on the couch, on pain meds, icing my sore muscles and feeling pretty sorry for myself. I was worried, I was in pain, frustrated, and overwhelmed. And was not delighting in the Lord.  But God. Those two simple words helped pull me out of my negative mindset. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love for me, in spite of my sin, made me alive by grace, through Christ! (Ephesians 2:3-5) There is no better reason to delight! So I began to try to find ways to thank Him even in the midst of my confusion and hurt, I tried to see ways to bring glory to Him, instead of focusing on me.  In the last 8 days, I have had 4 sets of x-rays, seen a specialist, heard best and worst case scenarios, and have been very overwhelmed. But I have tried to find ways to delight in the Lord. Four sets of x-rays, BUT GOD provided! I only had to pay for one as my insurance paid the first 3! Saw a specialist, BUT GOD made a way! I had a reasonable co-pay and the doctor spent a lot of time explaining things. Heard the possibilities, including potential surgery, BUT GOD is in control. So overwhelmed, BUT GOD comforts. I have had many family and friends praying for me, and encouraging me, and parents who have dropped everything to help me! When I choose to delight in the Lord, my outlook on everything else is aligned with delighting in Him. In 2019, will you make your primary goal to delight in the Lord? I believe that if you do, your other goals will be more easily accomplished as your inspiration will never expire. Here’s to delighting in the Lord in 2019! Happy New Year! Many Blessings, Pastor Sarah



God Knows We Can’t Be Perfect

Dear Church,
There are so many people who are afraid of making a mistake. Are you one of them? In fact, people are so afraid to make a mistake that they don’t do anything at all. Instead, they just sit around saying “What if I’m wrong? What if I miss God?” But God tells us that if we miss Him, He will find us! If we wander off somewhere and not sure where we are, all we have to do is lift up our hands and say, “Jesus, come get me! I think I made a wrong decision.” God knows we can’t be perfect, so He sent His son as a perfect sacrifice for us. Now we’re pressing toward the mark of perfection. In Philippians 3, the apostle talks about pressing forward to what lies ahead and forgetting about the past. God is calling you to press forward today. Stop living in fear of making mistakes, because we all make mistakes…period! God is not asking you to not make mistakes. He’s calling you to press forward, trusting Him to lead you. He’s asking you to call upon Him. Don’t live in fear of your imperfection. Live with faith in God’s perfect plan for you.
 
Blessings,
Sherry


New Adventures

Dear Church,
 
Starting on a new work or life project, such as moving to a new house, or starting a new job, can be exciting for many of us as our life progresses, but sometimes we do not realize the challenges that will come with things like these. We are excited to move, excited to begin work in a new place, but once we’re in the process of moving or in our first work day, the excitement can slowly fade as realization sets in-the house has a leak in the roof, you have tough clients at your new job and things will be harder than you thought. The same can apply for our spiritual lives. Many of us have friends and family who might be new to church, to them and to us being able to worship and share the word of God with them might be our new beginning. As a teenager, God decided he wanted me to commit to him as much more than what I was committing to any other thing in my life. As you can imagine at first, it was something that my teenage self was hesitant about. But little by little I began to give it more and more of time, more of myself, and beginning a personal walk with Christ has led me to a new life that I could have only imagined about. Just as starting moving to that new house or starting that new job can be challenging at the start, the end result of your hard work and all the time you invested will pay off in amazing ways. That house can be your dream home, and that job could be the path to a fulfilling career. There will be difficulties along the way, but at the end the results could be blessings beyond your wildest dreams. There is no need to wait to set New Year’s resolutions each year, instead of waiting, you could start something great here and now.
 
Pastor David


You Show Up. God Works.

King Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and Jerusalem, along with all the people of God are being threatened by armies from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir. Their armies look capable of totally destroying all of God’s people. Then, into this situation God says, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” Let there be no mistake. God is the one who brings victory to us. We cannot overcome on our own. Yet, he does require something of us-show up. Showing up will require faith but it will also give us a front row seat to view the victory God is providing us. Last Wednesday at the annual business meeting we talked about the financial shortfall that we are currently experiencing. This has forced us to reduce and eliminate various support services. However, you can show up and let God make a difference through you. You can show up by volunteering to help on a lawn care team (mowing and trimming on a rotation), in the church office (answering phones, doing computer work, or special administrative projects), or around the building (waxing floors, cleaning carpets, etc.). Sign up on a YES! Card if you want to show up. There are plenty of opportunities for you to show up during the Christmas season too. Show up before God in prayer by praying for people to invite to all that will be happening throughout the month of December. Show up by giving invite cards to neighbors and friends. Show up by putting together gifts for guests that come to worship with us. Show up by bringing someone to the Christmas Party on Friday, December 7th. Show up for Christmas movie nights. Show up as we serve together the week before Christmas. Don’t be afraid of that which seems to be insurmountable. Stand firm, show up, and the Lord will be with us. He will bring the victory. He will bring justice. He will break yokes. He will overcome addiction. He will destroy anxiety and depression. He will work. He will bring victory. Happy Thanksgiving! Pastor Tim


Discipleship or Belief?

Dear Church,
 
“We need our behavior to align with our belief. This starts in discipleship, described in four major steps as each step leads to the next step.
 
Step One: Growing – Spending time in the WORD
Step Two: Serving – Getting involved because of the time in the WORD
Step Three: Mentoring – Helping others learn & walking with them through it
Step Four: Replicating – Teaching others to Mentor others”. (Taken from a training on Discipleship by Simone Monroe) This reminds me of something we’ve been discussing in worship… Disciples Making Disciples! As you’ve heard about this over the last year or so you might have understood the plan for disciple making, understanding for maybe the first time the life applications that must take place based off the Christian’s Commission in Matthew 28:16-20. Perhaps you began attending a Learn Group class, or maybe even joined the Equip Discipleship Study! Both are great! But are you practicing Discipleship or Belief? It is not enough to believe in discipleship. You must practice it! It’s not enough to be a disciple; you must teach others how to be a disciple and to make disciples! You see, belief guides our behavior. If we believe, but do not act, we are not really disciple-makers. Just disciples. And that’s great. But Christ didn’t tell us to BE disciples. He said MAKE disciples. Let’s be sure that we are obedient to the calling He has given us as Christians. Let’s be consistent in our belief leading us to action. Let’s be disciple-makers! Many Blessings,
Pastor Sarah


Rejoice!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

God always wants his people to be joyful (notice I didn’t say happy), this joy is given by God; and you can experience it even during difficult times in your life.  

The word rejoice in the bible means to have a supernatural joy given by the Holy Spirit.  It means to be joyful, not just happy.  Happiness is conditional, however; joy comes from the Lord!  This joy is produced by the Holy Spirit, so we as believers can be joyful always!  

You might  have gone through many hardships in your life.  Your parents might have neglected you, maybe you were abused or treated badly by a loved one, family member or friend.  When you give your life to Christ you become a part of the family of God, and God becomes your father.  God then places His Holy Spirit on the inside of you, and you begin to experience an indescribable joy deep down in your heart! You then start to realize that God’s love for you is eternal, and nothing will be able to separate you from his joy and love; the devil himself cannot separate you from God’s love; so you no longer need to fear any situation or circumstance. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is your strength!

Pastor Marcus


Take Back What Hell Has Stolen

Dear Church,
Recently I started reading a book by Jim Putman called, “Real Life Discipleship.” In that book he identifies four stages of spiritual development.
 
  1. Infant-moving from death to life by being born again
  2. Child-a believer but is primarily focused on “me”
  3. Young Adult-has experienced spiritual maturity
  4. Parent-helping others to move from death to life to faith to maturity to parenthood
 
I always thought that discipleship was the process of growing from infancy to maturity through Bible studies, Sunday school and sermons. However, I am now realizing that discipleship is an intentional relationship with someone to help guide that maturity and then send them out to do the same for others.
 
This understanding of discipleship is where we really get to take back what hell has stolen from us and those we love. My previous understanding left me isolated and unable to show people what I wanted them to see. My current understanding of discipleship means we aren’t going to settle for fake, and we aren’t just going to take care of ourselves. We are going to walk with people by faith into their healing, wholeness, salvation and holiness.
 
We cannot settle for being a church of spiritual Young Adults. We must press on to be spiritual Parents that go into all the world (neighborhood, workplace, school, etc.) and make disciples. The gates of hell will not be able to overcome us because the power of the name of Jesus is more than enough. This Sunday I will wrap up our sermon series on what this looks like for you. I can’t wait to see you there.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Are You Stalking Jesus?

I had the opportunity to attend a destination wedding and it was a beautiful experience. I was part of the wedding party and as we were walking down the aisle, I realized that the wedding wasn’t only going to be the invited guests but all the people in the resort were joining us from afar.  At that moment I became very aware that people are staring, and if I make a mistake they will know. I was feeling the pressure of being perfect. Chasing perfection always comes with pressures. Pressure in finding a good job, pressure in making money, pressure in making your parents proud, or even your spouse proud. Pressure in raising your kids right; even pressure in naming that child right. Now we are all stressed and have no rest. Matthew 11:28 says “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” Jesus calls all of us who have no rest and promises to bring relief to our souls. We all need rest because one way or another we are always looking to be perfect. As I walked down the aisle I did stumble on my long dress but no one seemed to care. The other bridesmaids stumbled a little too; even the bride did as the sand didn’t make it easy to walk. We were all trying to walk perfectly and in the end we all didn’t. So no matter how much money we make or how our children to turn out to be we can find relief in Jesus. He can take all of that stress away so cast your burdens on to Him. Let’s not just chase Jesus but let’s stalk Him.
Blessings,
Jacki


Storm the Gates of Hell

Matthew 16:18, “…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
 
I love the International Feast! The food is amazing and the worship is probably as close as we are going to get to being in heaven. Everyone pitches in and takes care of all the work that is necessary to pull it off. Did I mention how much I love the food?
 
This year the feast has really gotten me thinking about “the big C” Church-not just our congregation but the entirety of God’s Church around the world. Throughout this year we have been talking about the importance of discipleship-growing closer to Jesus and helping others grow closer to him too-but then the Lord revealed another aspect of what we are supposed to be doing as the church.
 
We don’t just help others. We storm the gates of hell. We don’t just help people feel better. We take back what hell has stolen. We don’t sit in a service hoping we have paid enough for fire insurance. We willingly take on the fires of hell in the power of the gospel to bring salvation, restoration, healing, and wholeness.
 
Here is the message I’m hearing from God in all of this. “Don’t stop short.” Don’t just pray. Cry out to God with all your heart. Don’t just read the Bible. Study God’s word like your life depended on what it says. Don’t just fellowship with others. Build real relationships that help you and others make disciples. Don’t just come to a church building. Be the church that storms the gates of hell to take back what hell has stolen. Others are depending on us to have the faith to lead them to faith in Jesus.   Let’s show this world what “the big C” Church can do!
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


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