What’s Faith Got to do With It?

Dear Church,
 
When I was a kid I would do some of the silliest things. Most of the time those things would drive my parents crazy. Times when I got kicked of the bus, or got detention for saying very inappropriate things to a classmate, or using words that I heard in a movie (even if I didn’t know what they meant).
 
There were so many conversations about right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, helpful and unhelpful. I got grounded, yelled at, spanked (although probably not enough) and sent to my room. Yet, in all that happened never once did my parents ever question their love for me. Why?
 
First, they loved me because we were connected; we were family. Second, they loved me because they had faith that I was growing, learning and developing. I want to suggest that these are the same reasons why we are supposed to love others, even our enemies. We love them, not because we always feel like it. No, we love them because we are connected to them. Even if they aren’t part of the family of God right now we love them because we have a hope that someday they will be. Our love says, “I’m not giving up hope on your growth!” Our love says, “I believe that what Jesus did in me he can also do in you.”
 
See, loving others isn’t about having feelings of love. It is about having the faith to believe that God’s love in us can impact their lives just like it impacted ours. We don’t love others because they are easy to love. We love them because we believe that the love of Jesus really can change lives.
 
What does your love say about your faith? Do you trust God enough to love those who hate you, or persecute you, or work with you, or live with you, or worship with you? Do you trust God enough to love you? Do you have faith to believe that denying the desires of your flesh and submitting to God’s Holy Spirit really can produce love in you? He will respond to your faith.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Be a True Worshiper

Dear Church,
 
Worship is so much more than just singing songs. It is a condition of the heart and a state of mind. We can even worship God passionately without singing a single note. Our worship for God is born in our hearts, it fills our thoughts, and it is expressed through our mouths and through our bodies.
The world often thinks of worship as “religion”, which could not be further from the biblical concept of worship. It’s about a personal relationship, spiritual intimacy and passionate expressions of devotion from people who love God with all their hearts. This is true worship.
The Bible says that God is seeking those who worship Him ‘in spirit and in truth’.
I find it interesting that He does not want just anybody to worship Him. He wants true and genuine people. He does not want to be worshiped out of fear, obligation or religion.
True worship is a result of intimacy with God. Worship God today with your WHOLE heart, and be a worshiper in spirit and in truth!
 
Have a blessed week!
 
Sherry


Focus on Focus

Dear Church,
“Why did you say that? What if they think you are being lazy? What if they don’t come back because you aren’t investing enough? Are you investing enough? What are the Elders going to say?”
 
So we just finished our series on Focus as we followed Paul through Acts 17 and 18. Two Sundays ago I was describing focus as an act of faith rather than an act of self-confidence and I mentioned only spending two hours in preparing for the sermon I preached four weeks ago. Even as I was sharing that with you the questions above began to race through my head, which means that even as I was preaching on focus I was struggling to stay focused. Isn’t it amazing how easily we can be distracted?
 
I was even tempted to make this article all about justifying the comment so that I could feel better about the questions in my mind, but that would only feed the distraction. Instead, I’m just going to acknowledge the distraction and let the Holy Spirit work through it.
 
See, one of the best ways to overcome distraction is to talk about it out loud. When we try to hide something we only stimulate fear that one day it might come out of the shadows, but when we openly share it we begin to see that there is nothing to fear. The paradox is that when we speak about our insecurities we will become more secure with ourselves and what God is doing in us.
 
1 Corinthians 4:5, “He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” We can’t be focused on the light of Jesus and try to keep things in the dark at the same time. So just expose what is hidden-talk about it. Jesus has good things for you in the light, and you’ll find that you aren’t the only one there.
 
In Him,
Pastor Tim


Victory

Dear Church,
I think all of us have experienced moments of loneliness or depression at some point in our lives. Many of us have struggled with having no one to talk to or to reach out to, especially when you have to wait for your friends to have free time in order for them to give you a moment of their time.
In Jesus, we have a never-ending friendship, but what is almost unreal is how he is willing to listen to us regardless of how crazy or impossible our situation may seem. In Psalms 77:19, the Bible tells us how God led his people through the Red Sea along with Moses and Aaron. “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”
That is exactly what God does for us. He leads the way even when we do not notice Him working in our lives. Notice how God did not tell Moses how to go around the situation he was in but instead He led him through it, which is exactly what we need as we go on in our lives. We need someone to lead the way for us so that we may be victorious.
Sometimes victory means letting go of feelings of loneliness or depression, and simply trusting how God is willing to give us all of his time when we need Him.
Pastor David


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


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