I was talking to one of our eighth graders the other day who was blowing my mind. She was talking about how she’s learning to code, something I haven’t the first clue about. As she’s telling me some of the things she’s able to do with that, my eyes and mouth were getting wider and wider. For instance, she was learning how to send a text message that when opened could hack into someone’s phone and grab every piece of information on it. Can you imagine carrying that sort of responsibility at the age of 14? To always do the right thing...knowing you could basically destroy someone else’s life with the touch of a screen and the information you knew.
It got me thinking about our responsibility as Christian people, especially today, in this world we are living in.
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10 ) We have a responsibility to serve one another, not just our Christian brothers and sisters, but it is in our service that all will see God's grace in action as we demonstrate our faith.
We have a Christian responsibility to encourage one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up." It is easy in this world to become discouraged because of work, relationships, finances, what we see in the news, school, the list goes on. So, it is our Christian duty to help others believe, overcome and stay faithful in a discouraging world.
We have the responsibility to help carry one another’s burdens. Galatians 6:2"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Nobody needs to walk alone in the valley. We need to walk with each other and lighten the load many carry on their shoulders. Jesus removed our greatest burden at the cross. So, we need to help our brothers and sisters who are lost in the valley.
James 5:16 says,"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." We need to pray for one another. We must intercede for our brothers and sisters and pray on their behalf. Powerful and effective prayer will make all the difference.
To whom much is given, much is required. As Christians, we have a responsibility toward others. It is not a choice, it is required.
We also have a responsibility to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Mathew 28:16-20
As I told my Middle Schoolers the other day, it might not be the popular thing to do, they may not like what we have to say, and what we have to say may even clash with what is “legal”. But what is legal is not always right. We have a responsibility, people need to hear about Christ and know his commands. It’s a great responsibility. Those who see us not doing these things may never know, they be turned off by us and that may keep them away and we may not see them in glory. Now that’s a huge responsibility.
But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. (Matthew 12:23)
This past year my family and I had our best year with our garden. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. The smell of the dirt as it is tilled in the spring, the first sight of new plants emerging in the spring, and the last of freshly picked produce—the whole thing is something I really enjoy.
However, a garden requires regular, almost daily, attention. Leaving the garden unattended for one week can be disastrous. Between tiling and harvest, there is planting, watering, pruning, keeping an eye out for pests, and worst of all—weeding. I despise weeding.
The effort it takes to grow a crop is great. But weeds… somehow they just happen. They are the first to sprout and the last to die. They need no nurturing to flourish and seem to be able to survive in the worst of conditions. These products of the curse take up valuable nutrients which ultimately hurts the plants we want and diminish crop yield.
You know life is a lot like this—in particular discipleship. Growing in our relationship with Christ takes deliberate effort, constant attention and time. Yet somehow, like weeds, bad habits and attitudes quickly creep in. They just appear and before we know it, they choke the joy of the Lord right out us. They distract us from our fruit-bearing purpose.
Today, I simply want to remind you to tend to your relationship with God. If there are some bad habit or attitudes that have crept in, they need to be removed. Eventually, as we tend to our relationship with God, there will be a great harvest when we are rewarded for our diligence with some delicious, life-giving fruit.
Be Encouraged by God's Word
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?” . . .
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
- Psalm 42: 1-3, 5, NIV
In Isaiah 26, the prophet speaks of the perfect peace that is available to GOD’s people. Isaiah tells us how GOD planned to discipline His people while still listening to their prayers. In the first part of verse 9 he says, “My soul yearns for you [the LORD] in the night…” I understand that yearning for light. Darkness and night often represent sin and evil in Scripture. We are in a period of time where both appear to be increasing exponentially. This can become overwhelming.
When I was in the Navy I frequently stood guard on a missile launcher and its warheads. Because of the nuclear capability of these missiles, we had to maintain a watch 24 hours a day, all year round, even at sea. More than a few times I stood watch from 4:00 to 8:00 AM, and sometimes the darkness was deep. On nights when the sky was overcast, we didn’t even have starlight. I can tell you it’s scary, even when you’re carrying a loaded gun, because you are essentially blind. Your mind can imagine things that aren’t really there. Real sounds can be difficult to comprehend properly. And the darkest part of those nights is just before dawn. When dawn does arrive, there is a special joy and a sense of relief. I experienced this more than a few times.
Spiritual darkness is increasing, and I expect this will continue until the Lord returns. Ephesians 6:12 speaks clearly to us about what is going on, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” But please keep in mind the promise given in 2 Peter 1:19, “And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…” How awesome to know that joy, relief and peace that passes understanding are available for us.
Good morning to all, as we prepare to head into the fall season - what is your heart longing for? As for me I am always hoping to capture the Big Buck to harvest which most years turns into a doe, but we hunt for food and not for trophies. As a Dad I enjoy watching my daughter Jalee harvest her deer and not worry about getting one myself. What season does God have you in your lives.
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
A wise Pastor once told me that we will have those times (seasons ) when we may feel like God is nowhere to be found. It may seem as though he has forgotten us and our troubles in life. In those times that we feel we do not hear the voice of God do we still listen, or do we move on? Recently I had gone through such a time and I talked to God about what I was feeling at the time. Not long after that I had a message from a young man in Florida who told me that God wanted me to come back to my first love? WOW talk about timing, and a wakeup call to deepen my heart into the things of God.
The eyes of all look expectantly to YOU, And You give them their food in due season.
A wise pastor also told me that God is always near and to expect him to move in our lives when we are seeking him through all that we go through. Fall is also the time for harvest here in Kansas, many farmers are relying on good harvest to carry them through the winter.
Then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:4
Whatever season you may be in remember that God is with you and loves all of us.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations.
Have an amazing day!
Read Mark 4:1-20, the parable of the Sower.
It can be easy to get discouraged when we are witnessing to someone and the Spirit does not seem to be working. Earlier this week, I had an encounter that restored some of my faith in the way the Holy Spirit moves in people. I have a certain co-worker that I have been “planting seeds” with. We were hired around the same time, got promoted to complimentary positions at the same time, and have worked together very closely for the last three years. This co-worker was raised Catholic but does not practice any sort of faith as an adult. Because my faith is important to me, aspects of it come through in our conversation, and I’ve invited her and her family to church several times, but I never saw any change starting in her life. One day this week, she and I were talking and our conversation randomly turned to Alexander the Great. She started doing some research into Alexander, and asked me “It says he was born in July 356 B.C. What does that mean?” I explained that means that he was born roughly 356 years before the birth of Christ, and she seemed confused by that. A short time later, she comes to me after looking up some other information and says “Okay: God, Jesus, and Christ. Who are they, and how are they connected to each other?” What followed was a one-hour discussion about God, the Trinity, Jesus as God come into the world, and his role as the Messiah. When the conversation was over, she left work with plans to read the Gospel of John when she got home.
All this happened after three years of me talking about my faith with her in general everyday conversation. As I was praising God for finally moving in her heart, I was convicted on two points. First, I have a very limited view of the world. God, who is eternal and outside of our concept of time, did not “finally” start to move in her life. He loves her enough to send His only begotten Son for her (John 3:16). He has been lovingly guiding her towards Himself longer than the three years I have known her. Second, I’m merely a seed sower. I cannot force the seed to sprout. Now that the sprout has started to grow, I have a responsibility to foster healthy growth. But I had no room or authority to get frustrated with God for not moving as quickly as I would have liked. We cannot see the way the seed develops once it has been sown, we need only have faith that the true Gardner loves those he has created.
Allow me to wrap up with Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
What to do with A New Day- A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
Psalm 31:15 My life is in your hands. Save me …
James 4:14 You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Your life is like a fog. You can see it for a short time, but then it goes away.
Psalm 90:12 Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise.
Colossians 4:5 Be wise in the way you act with those who are not believers. Use your time in the best way you can.
Ephesians 5:15-17 So be very careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools. 16 I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times. 17 So don’t be foolish with your lives, but learn what the Lord wants you to do.
The following quote hangs in my laundry closet. It both challenges me and haunts me.
“This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever; in its place is something that I have left behind...let it be something good." – Heartsill Wilson mostly
We don’t have a whole lot of control over time and little control over circumstances. What we do have control over is our choices with the time we have and the circumstances we are in. We often hear that question: what would I do if this were my last day on earth. It probably isn’t your last, but it is a day, and when you pile one day onto the next you eventually end up with a lifetime. So, I challenge you as you begin a new day to pause, to sit in stillness, to ponder, “What shall I exchange this day of my life for today?” And then let God whisper some good ideas into your soul.
Song by Kathy Troccoli – My Life is in Your Hands Life can be so good/ Life can be so hard
Never knowing what each day/ Will bring to where You are
Sometimes I forget/ And sometimes I can't see
That whatever comes my way/ You will be with me
My life is in Your hands/ My heart is in Your keeping
I'm never without hope/ Not when my future is with You
My life is in Your hands/ And though I may not see clearly
I will lift my voice and sing/ Cause Your love does amazing things
Lord, I know, my life is in Your hands
Empty Cupboards/Full Hearts
1st Kings 17:12-16
She said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, but only a handful of meal in a barrel and a little oil in a jar. I am gathering two sticks, that I can go in and make it for me and my son, so we may eat it and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make a little cake for me first, and bring it to me, and afterward, make some for your son and you, for thus says the Lord God of Israel: The barrel of meal will not run out, nor will the jar of oil empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” She went and did what Elijah told her to do, and she, he, and her household ate many days. The barrel of meal did not run out, nor did the jar of oil empty, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Elijah.
There once was a meeting in the middle between a prophet and a widow. They both come together in the sharing of their strengths. They both come together in the shared vulnerability of their needs. The robe of this holy prophet has nothing but holey pockets. He is empty of material resources. Do not underestimate him though, for he carries with him the promise of his God.
The widow’s cupboard is too bare of meals to share. Do not underestimate her though, for she carries with her a mustard seed of faith enough to risk obedience. The widow places her trust in the word of the Lord from the lips of a stranger. They meet each other in the midst of their shared vulnerability like the broken bread of the sacrament. In the middle of this sacred moment……. God provides!
It is a beautiful foreshadowing picture of what the church of Jesus Christ will become. Each week we come and meet each other in the midst of both our strengths and our weaknesses. Out of our strengths we help to bear each other’s burdens. In confession of our weaknesses we peel the social distancing masks from our hearts. In the bearing and the sharing, God provides.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7
I have often wondered why boys especially; have such an affection to dirt and mud. They can be clean and spotless one minute then the next, look like the Charlie Brown character Pig Pen.
I grew up on a farm in Nebraska where some of my fondest memories always involved dirt. Playing in the garden with my toys, walking barefoot through the mud and most of all the day I spent with my old red wagon fastened by a rope; pulled behind the tractor in the corn field as my father cultivated it for the last time of the growing season. The corn stocks were over four feet tall, towering above me sitting in that wagon, with the leaves slapping me in the face as we sped through the corn field. The dust was so thick I could barely see the back of the tractor and ever so frequently at the end of the rows I would have to pick up the wagon, empty out all the dirt and quickly carry it around to the next row, set it down and jump back in. This went on hour after hour. By the end of the day you could not tell the difference between a lump of dirt or me, unless I opened my eyes or mouth to show a little white mixed with the dirt.
It was one of the happiest times of my life, being pulled in my wagon, playing in the dirt, and more importantly being with my father.
It could best be expressed as a relational attraction: 1 Corinthians 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. We are related to the man made from dust and more importantly to the one who created the dust, breathed His Holy breath into it creating us, setting us apart from all other creations, made into the very likeness of the heavenly man.
Romans 9:20-21O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay
What an honor to be the dust that was used by the Creator to form the clay into you and I, into a precious vessel of His image. And yet no two vessels are exactly alike, rather each created for God’s perfect purpose. All that is required of us is to yield to the purpose, allowing God to do all the rest.
So, to answer the question why do I like dirt? Because God created it, formed it, shaped it into you and I and called us His own, with His Holy Spirit breathed into us.
May He pour out His Grace and Love upon you and give you Peace, both here and in the not yet.
And Oh, by the way, take time to pick up a handful of dirt, and say hello to God’s creation, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
When God Showed Up
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
I Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened
Psalms 84:11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless
I know many of you know my daughter Angie and her husband Michael. They have to be one of the most faithful young couples, always ready and willing to serve where ever and when ever asked.
In August my daughter Angie and Michael put their condo up for sale with the hopes of buying a “real” house. They put it on the market and it sold that very afternoon. We were confident that God was giving His stamp of approval for them to get a house. We also knew that we would have to have a contract or at least an offer on a house by September 11th in order for the sales to coincide. They needed to have the closing dates on both homes on or near the same day.
For weeks Angie went out diligently every day on line and looked at all the new listings that were being posted. We found several we liked, but before we could even make an appointment to see them someone had put an offer on them. I knew Angie and Mike were getting a little anxious and were beginning to wonder if God was going to show up in all of this. I kept telling them that God started this process and He would see it to the finish. They just needed to keep the faith and keep being obedient in serving the Lord. Angie helps clean the church every week and Michael helps mow the lawns plus they are faithful servants in the sound booth and the Welcome Center.
As September 11thrapidly approached I even begin to wonder what God was up to. I kept telling myself the worst case scenario would be that they would have to move in with me for a few seeks until something came available. Every day we would keep looking and searching. I was really beginning to wonder when God was going to show up in all of this. As I was driving to work on the morning of the 11th I reminded God that this was September 11th and we didn’t have a house yet. (Like He really needed to be reminded!) About that time a song came on the radio that I had never heard. The word were just what I needed to hear about how God always shows up in answers to our prayers and that we need not worry when He has control of our lives. So I handed all my worries back to Him (Again!) and said, “OK Lord I’m going to trust you for a house today.”
I came in to work and a guy in our church was in the kitchen talking about his house he was getting ready to put on the market. I knew this guy’s house would have all the upgrades and done in impeccable fashion. So I got the address and the name of the realtor that was going to list the house. It was smaller than what we had hoped for and it didn’t have a basement but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to take a look. So I call the agent and made arrangements to look at the house at 12:30 PM after Angie got off work.
I picked up Angie around noon and I proceeded to tell her about this house and asked her if she wanted to go see it. As I was driving she said she really was hoping for a basement and a little bigger house. So I pulled into a parking lot so we could talk. I told Angie that if she didn’t really want to see the house then we needed to save the agent the time and trouble showing it to us. She agreed. So I called the agent and canceled the appointment.
There was another house that Angie had seen that was available but a little above our price range and she wanted to know if we could at least drive by it and see what it looked like. I told her to go ahead and get the address and we would see where it was located. As she was looking up the address she said, “Mom, look at this house. It just popped up on my feed and was listed only 20 minutes ago.” I took her phone and looked at this really nice looking house. I asked her for the address and realized it was only a few blocks from where we were parked in the parking lot. We drove by the house and checked out the back yard and it looked like someone was still living there so I told her to go ahead and ask their agent if he could make arrangements to see the house. To make a long story short, their agent made the arrangements and we went and viewed the house at 2:30. We really liked the house and the agent told us he would go back to his office and look up the information about the house and talk to the listing agent. Angie was worried that someone might come in with an offer because she and Mike really liked the house. The agent said to them, “I know you guys are believers, so go home, pray about it and if this is the house God has for you it will still be available in the morning.” He called back a little later and asked if we could meet again the next morning (Saturday) at 9:30 AM.
We arrived at the house with family in tow and looked all through the house. Searched every nook and cranny and envisioned what it would look like with their belongings in it. We were certain that God had provided this house just for them. We told the agent that we wanted to make an offer on the house. He told us we would go to his office and draw up the paperwork. I was the first one to go out of the house and as I was standing on the porch stoop and looking over the rail down at the flowerbed below a small piece of concrete by the garage door caught my eye. It wasn’t very big but it had some words written in the concrete. I leaned over to see what it said. “What? No! It can’t be!” I took a few more steps down and looked over again. “That can’t be what it really says!” “But it really does!” I walked all the way down and stood in front of this little piece of cement and I yelled up the stairs at everyone standing up there, “Well guys, this is really your house. God even put your names on it written in cement!” Here on this little piece of cement were the names Mike and Angela!
Now what would be the chances of the names Mike and Angela being written together on a little piece of concrete outside of the house they were wanting to buy? Only when God shows up!
“I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.”
The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in of the very mind and intent of God.
“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
The greatest note of triumph ever received in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ- "It is finished!" (John 19:30).
May God’s grace and love be with you and your family this very day.
A picture of grace
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— ... Ephesians 2:1-22
I am not sure I’ll ever completely comprehend Gods Grace. But he gave me a small picture of it the other day through my kids (here I go again). My oldest (3 years old) got upset at my youngest (1 year old) the other day and slapped him, kinda hard, over a toy (when will that fight end?!) We don’t allow hitting, so I had my oldest sit in time out. As the oldest was sitting there my youngest slowly walked over and sat beside him, silently, he cocked his head and looked at him sweetly, not in the “haha you’re in trouble way” that I totally would have done when I was little. He was giving his big brother a sweet, I’m here for you, I still love you look. As I’m fumbling to get my phone out to take a picture of this sweet brother moment that I’m melting over, my youngest then climbed up on his brothers lap and gave him a hug. I caught that one on camera! All I could think was “now that’s grace”.
Receiving a deep love when we don’t deserve it. Forgiveness at the ready. Wide open arms.
This is only a snapshot and doesn’t even come close to the measure of Gods Grace. We’rehuman, and my boys don’t always react to each other in this way, typically it’s you hit me I hit you back, you’ll get what you deserve in the measure you gave it to me.
How different would our world be if we would extend to one another even an ounce of the grace God gives to us. We get do over after do over, forgiveness on top of forgiveness, mistake after mistake from him.
Our world today reminds me of the parable Jesus told about the servant. His master forgave a huge debt and he turned right around and required imprisonment for what another owed him, forgetting the grace he was given.
What are we giving our fellow man? What are we requiring of those who owe us a “debt”? Are we receiving Gods Grace? Are we willing to give it back 70 times 7?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
Someone once said, “I can resist everything but temptation.” Let me just ask, how quickly do you fall into temptation? Giving in to our weaknesses is such an easy thing to do—especially in a culture where self-control is a virtue at the bottom of the list.
Over the past few weeks my wife and I and several others have been on a rather strict diet. We’re not doing it to lose weight; we’re not attempting to radically change our lifestyle—we’re simply disciplining ourselves and practicing self-control for 30 days. The main practice of this diet involves the elimination of sugars, grains, and dairy—three things that I absolutely love! And let me tell you, this has been more difficult than I originally thought. It has truly tested my will power. Before the diet, there was no temptation to sneak a few pieces of candy here and there. I simply ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Now I can’t even watch a football game on TV without the lure of a Sonic Blast calling my name. It’s been a battle, but thus far, God has helped me remain faithful.
All of this has been causing me to think about discipline and temptation more and more. Believe me, there have been moments when I’ve thought—what’s one tiny piece of candy? What harm will it do? No one would ever notice. But then a phrase keeps popping up each time that happens: If I compromise here, where else in my life might I be tempted to compromise?
Jesus tells a story of man who went on a journey, but before leaving, he gives his servants some money. One receives 5 talents, the next 2, and the last 1. After the journey the man returns to see what his servants did. The first two servants doubled their talents, but the last servant did nothing. To the two servants who doubled the talents, the man said, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (See Matthew 25:14-30)
Again in our world, it seems that the virtue of self-control is not highly valued. But I wonder today where God has asked you to be faithful in small things? Even if no one would notice, where can you be trustworthy? If you continue to compromise in one area of your life, where else might you be tempted to compromise?
This week, pray that God would produce in you the fruit of self-control (and the ability to say ‘no' to that candy bar).
II Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;”
Everyone likes to win! It could be a ball game, card game, chess, checkers, or even a $2.00 coupon from the grocery store.
Think about it. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I’m in this to lose?”
Most of us want to win regardless of the contest. The problem is sometimes we come up against a situation, competition or game where we just do not possess the skill level to compete, let alone win!
If we are going to have any chance at winning we are going to need a good coach.
This is also true on the spiritual level. For too long I fear many of God’s good glory bound people have taken their spiritual life for granted. We need to embrace God’s Word as our spiritual coach.
The reality is, you do not, will not, cannot become a standout ball player by simply hanging out at the ball park or going to every game. To excel at anything one must have a purpose which motivates focus and discipline.
Might I suggest we embrace the purpose of being salt and light in a world that so needs light!
If we do this, then I think we will be able to say with Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”
For today, don’t back up, slow up or give up, until He takes you up!
When I was in elementary school, I remember being terribly frightened by an image in a preview at our local theater. I couldn’t go to sleep without the lights on for days. Old movies on TV like the original Frankenstein had a similar effect on me, but I was hooked. A combination of fear and wonder drove me to watch more and more. A form of tolerance built over time and it took stronger and scarier images to provide the same feelings. They didn’t keep me awake at night anymore, but sometimes I would dream about them.
Our GOD is bigger than the boogie man! Some of you may remember this line from a Veggie Tales video. The main idea was to help children understand that monsters on videos, tv and movies are made up, actors in costumes. The song also helped communicate the greatness of the one true GOD.
The times we are in now seem to be pretty scary for a lot of people. I think contemplating the greatness of our GOD and the wonders of His creation is needed. As GOD said to His people in Isaiah 41:10
“ fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I believe we will all do better if we focus more on our Creator and Sustainer than on the system of this world.
Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:3-9
As most of you may know that I recently started a position with KJCC teaching carpentry to young men who have made some choices that have had negative consequences in their lives. What a blessing this has been as in the last week two young men have come to me asking for prayer over their lives. Most of these young men have no guidance on the outside once released. I truly believe that they do not have much of a chance outside of a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We as Christians are planters of the seed and the Lord is the one who waters these seeds. When the seed falls on good ground it produces fruit, when not on good ground it withers and dies. This is true of all of us if we do not continue to allow God to water the seeds that have been planted.
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
1 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ Matthew 13:15
Somewhere, somehow, and sometime these two young men have heard from God and responded! I pray that the seed will grow into the beauty of our risen Savior and not the darkness and ugliness of the world. We also should have ears that hear and eyes to see the things which God has for us. When we focus on the things of the world we lose our focus on God and the seed that has been planted will be choked and not produce.
“Therefore hear the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
May our fruit produce a hundredfold and Glorify God.
Have an amazing day!
I have two daughters: Rory (5 years old) and Andi (1 year old). I know its cliché to say, but it’s very true that they do grow up so fast. The truth of this struck me in a special way today, however. This afternoon I went to a local tea shop run by a good friend of mine. He has four kids, and Rory is best friends with their older daughter. As I was talking to my friend, he turned to the young volunteer that was working there with him and said, “That’s Rory’s daddy.” This young person who I’ve only talked with long enough to buy my tea and never officially met lit up with recognition at that description. She knew who Rory was because my friend’s kids talked about her, and by extension, she knew something about me.
This encounter brought me to a realization about our role as the children of God! John 1:12-13 says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” I have talked at length before about the role of God as our Father, but I had never put much thought into the role we play as the children of God. In the Genesis account of creation, God created mankind in His image, and 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 has this to say: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” I believe that this is as much about us being God’s children as it is about Him being our Father!
When people learn about God, will they be able to recognize him as your father?
Walls and Carpenters:
A pondering by Holly Woodbridge
Scripture to Read - Ephesians 2:11-22
Scripture Focus: 14 Because of Christ we now have peace. Christ made both Jews and non-Jews one people. They were separated as if there were a wall between them. But Christ broke down that wall of hate by giving his own body. 15 The Jewish law had many commands and rules. But Christ ended that law. Christ’s purpose was to make the two groups of people become one new people in him. By doing this Christ would make peace. 16 Through the cross Christ ended the hatred between the two groups. And after Christ made the two groups to be one body, he wanted to bring them back to God. Christ did this with his death on the cross.
This past Sunday as our kids dug into Ephesians 2, we found that Jesus is a bit like the HULK, Wreck-It-Ralph, and Thor: He has this power to demolish walls. However, unlike these guys, He didn’t use a fist or a hammer. He used a cross.
So, what is this wall that He demolished? It is a dividing wall, like most walls. The dividing wall in this passage is about circumcision particularly (Sorry to make you squirm, guys.) It divides the Jewish Believers and the Gentile Believers in the church of Ephesus. They are all believers, but there is this dividing wall between them, this wall of hate (vs.16).
I asked our group at Kids Crossing, “What things divide us and build walls between us today?”
They said things like: what sports team you cheer for, what politician we vote for, the color of our skin, and whether to wear masks. They are spot on, aren’t they?
In our room we had built a giant wall of cardboard boxes and Micah got to knock them down. Then the kids, without instruction, started kicking any remaining boxes out of the way. Hmmm… what a great idea. Instead of trying to rebuild that wall, they got rid of any remaining rubble that separated them from each other.
*HEY! You CAN try this at home, and at church and in your neighborhood.
Later in the lesson, we built a table and chairs out of the rubble. You see, Jesus doesn’t just knock something down and leave a mess. He makes something NEW. That was what the cross was all about.
A table works very differently than a wall. A wall excludes, a table invites. A wall brings division, a table brings conversation. A wall is cold, a table is warm.
Remember, our Savior was a carpenter. And He not only sat at tables, he built them.
So, the next time you are at church (which should be this Sunday) look around, knock down a wall and invite someone to your dinner table.
Welcome To The Family
By: Debby Kerner Rettino
Welcome to the family
We’re glad that you have come
To share your life with us
As we grow in love
and may we always be to you
What God would have us be
a family always there
To be strong and to lean on.
May we learn to love each other
More with each new day
May words of love
be on our lips in ev’rything we say
May the Spirit melt our hearts
And teach us how to pray
That we might be a true family
Altars and Alligators
Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Abram begins his journey with the Lord as he sets out for the promised land. He finally arrives at the place of Shechem in the land of Canaan. The passage tells us that Abram built an altar to the Lord somewhere near the branches of Moreh, the great tree, and it becomes an important trail marker for those who would follow him in faith for the future. One hundred and seventy-five years later, Jacob comes to the place of this altar, digs a well, settles in this place and buries all his household idols, declaring that only God will be his Lord. Eight hundred years later, Joshua comes to Shechem and sets up his own altar near the spot of Abram’s. Abram blazed a trail of passionate worship and then left markers for those after him to follow.
Every once in a while our family takes a trip to where I grew up as a kid. There are plenty of stories that I will tell of the goofy things I did that they should never do. Yes, guys, there really was a 14-foot alligator that lived in Alligator Lake in Lake City. No-my friends and I-should not have tried to see how close we could get to it. You know how I walk with that limp in my left leg (I’m kidding….I’m kidding!)
I do, however, try to include conversations about the deep places and events that helped shape me in my walk with the Lord as I was growing up. I am intentionally setting up an altar for them to see. I want them to know of the significant times that the Lord appeared to me. I want to set up trail markers of passionate faith. I don’t want to pass it on in a wooden way. I want to share those experiences in such a way through the Spirit so that they can know that the Lord can set your life ablaze as a living altar if only we will let Him.
Hebrews tells us that there has been a whole cloud of witnesses who have been faithful to share with us the story of the great journey of Faith. They have left trail markers all along the way. It’s our turn now! I love how the Steve Green song puts it.
Oh may all who come behind us
Find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion
Light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us
Find us faithful
There are often things that make us uncomfortable, like these for instance:
Jesus describes hell in Luke 16 as a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.
He also tells of a time when people will be separated into two groups, one entering into His presence, the other banished to “eternal fire”, a place of eternal torment and unquenchable fire, where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret from which there is no return.
He calls hell a place of “outer darkness”, comparing it to “Gehenna” that was a trash dump outside of Jerusalem where rubbish was burned and maggots abounded.
Therefore we need a rescuer; one who can take us from a state of depravity and eternal punishment, simply by accepting Him as our Savior and His gift of redemption.
Jesus died for us so we could have access to heaven through Him. Through a relationship with Him as our Savior, His mercy gives us access to enter heaven, into God’s glory, without fear of the torment of hell. As Paul expressed it: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:33).
There is a hunger within each of us that longs to be what God created us to be, even when we are not sure of what it is, we long for what will nourish and quench our soul.
To live a relationship with Christ is to live as Christ; the one who sustains our life with true life; both in the now and the not yet and then to gain eternality in the kingdom of heaven with Christ. For this reason, Christ spoke more of hell than of heaven, so that by His great love for us we could avoid hell’s eternal wrath; simply by accepting His eternal love and grace; by faith.
Oh yes, about the uncomfortable bicycle without a seat. Growing up on the farm, my first bicycle was an old one abandoned by my uncle. It had no seat, no brakes, two rotted flat tires and numerous missing spokes and more. To ride it, I would push it up a pasture hill, sit on the back fender leaning over where the seat should be, to barely reach the handle bars. Then coasting down the hill, I would run head long into a livestock fence that would stop and bounce me backward. Uncomfortable Yes, but for a very young boy, what great fun. Eventually my father put new tires on it, a few spokes, a chain for the peddles and brake, and oh yes, a nice big padded seat. Now you know the rest of the story.
May you find the conclusion of your story to be with Jesus Christ in heaven. God Bless you in your relationship with Christ as you journey through life with Him as your Savior and Lord.
“Your love has given me much joy and comfort, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.”Philemon 1:7
We need friends to share our journey.
Here is a quote from Dinah Craik. She says, “Oh the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person-having either to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
That’s what the Chinese call their tea time. It translates as touching the heart. Dim sum is linked to the centuries of old tradition of drinking tea which began with travelers needing a place to rest on the ancient Silk Road in china. As merchants traveled long journeys to sell their goods, teahouses dotted the roadsides giving sojourners respite and refreshment. Because we are all on a journey of faith, we need a place to rest and refresh. We are all in the middle of something none of us seem to quite understand. A journey where we need a time to refresh our souls with friendship. We need the refuge of a friend that understands and provides that safe haven.
Our unfinished stories are what we seem to hide from one another when it is what truly revitalizes our soul. Because you see, we all face unknown chapters, vulnerable to questions we can’t answer and unexpected turns when life goes off script. What gives us strength for the journey is to know we are not alone. So do you long to be refreshed? Stop and refresh your soul with a friend. Dare to be known. Share your unfinshed stories.
Maybe you are like me, good at connecting with people to get things done. It’s easier to keep busy and build friendships based on what I think others want or may need form me. But we aren’t created to journey alone. We need friends to welcome us as we live our stories, unfiltered. Sometimes what keeps us isolated from having close friends are wounds from past hurtful friendships.
Even with all the modern technology in place today studies show that we are the loneliest generation. We have lost the intimacy of being known. We’ve become adept at connecting with lots and lots of people on social media about thing we do and how we do them, but we hide who we really are and how we really feel. Too many of us are desperately lonely.
Dare to be refreshed by friends. Real friends with live bodies that you can talk to face to face. Share burdens with and eat with and fellowship with. Let other people get to know you.
One way to do this is to join a life group or small group in your church. I love my small group. We have great fellowship, great discussions and best of all they know my story and they love me anyway! We share each other’s stories and our lives in community together. Rooted is the beginning of such a journey. If you haven’t found one to join contact me and I will help you get started.
Before Rooted, there was no one I could trust with my heart and my needs. But staying silent with our stories comes at a cost. There is not greater burden than an untold story. We first did Rooted as a staff and I waited until the very end to tell my story and I kept hoping that Pastor Michael would forget that I hadn’t shared my story, but no such luck. It was really hard to share my hurts with my peers but once I did I realized that I was robbing others by not sharing where God has brought me from to where I am today! And I found in sharing my unfinished story with others helped them to open up and share with me as well.
God whispers in Galatians 6:2 Carry one another’s burdens.
Two are better than one…For if either of them falls, the one will life up his companion. Furthermore if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone. And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
This passage is often read at weddings but these words were meant for everyday travelers who had to walk from town to town. They were exposed to the cold elements and robbers at night when they stopped to sleep and rest. We all need this comfort and security; a friend to refresh us on the journey.
Dim sum. Touch the heart. Friendship- it’s food for the soul. Dare to share your unfinished story. Dare to be known. Be refreshed. Give yourself permission to: Make time for friendships. Refresh your heart with real soul-to-soul conversations. Be vulnerable. Prioritize one-on-one with a friend or two. Stop off the road of business.
Larry Crabb writes, “When spiritual friends share their stories…they rest. There’s nothing to fix, nothing to improve…Gather with other travelers on the narrow road, pilgrims who acknowledge their confusion and feel their fears. Then together, live those questions in God’s Presence.”
Are you in the middle of an unfinished story on your journey of faith? Is God inviting you to find a friend to carry the burden with you? Then, take the risk. Invite someone in. Dare to be known. Join a Rooted group
Love you all,
1 Peter 4:17
“…… If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s;
When we preach,
When the truth is preached,
The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.
May God’s grace and power be with you and your loved ones this very day.
A friend of mine sold four very old silver dollars for $20 a piece at an auction. When I asked him about the coins, he said, “Those were my wife’s coins. She got them when she worked at a restaurant several years ago. One of her customers had a ticket for $4. He had no other money on him at the time except for those four silver dollars.”
I was stunned by this story. Four silver dollars that someone paid $80 for at an auction. All four coins had the inscription written on the back “ONE DOLLAR” so the man had every right to legally pay his bill with the currency, but he obviously did not realize the true value of the coins. What made those ONE DOLLAR coins so valuable? Their content (silver) and their age (historical/antique value).
Many folks today are much like those old coins at the auction. They have been given a label by society, government, business, church, etc., and that label has given them their designation of their own personal value. They carry their value with them everywhere they go, much like those silver coins carry “ONE DOLLAR” on their backs. Unfortunately, the label does not tell two important things about the person: their content (what they are made of) or their historical value (their life experiences).
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t have much value, I simply want to remind you today that you are more valuable than what your human-made label denotes. Your content and your accumulated experiences tell a different story. Others may not see it and may even mistakenly sell you short of your true value and what God sees—much like the man who surrendered his valuable coins to pay for a $4 meal. But your true value is greater than you’ve possibly ever imagined. Just consider the price that God paid for you:
“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God." (1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT)
Dear Church Family,
Let me begin by saying thank you for your faithfulness to kingdom priorities during these unprecedented days! You have humbled me with your steadfastness, cards of encouragement, phone calls of support and a myriad of texts!
We re-opened once again for in-person services on Wednesday, September 2nd. Small groups, teens and other Wednesday night scheduled events were in full swing. Our in-person worship services will begin this Sunday, September 6th. We will have worship services at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Sunday school will be at the 10:00 AM hour. Children’s church and nursery will be available during the Sunday school hour, as well as the 11:00 AM worship. There will not be a nursery available during the 9:00 AM worship.
We are encouraging everyone to wear a mask during our in-person services. We understand some are not comfortable wearing masks. If you do not choose to wear a mask, we ask that you allow us to check your temperature at the door. It takes less than 3 seconds and is totally hands free. If you register a temperature greater than 100.4 we ask that you return home and watch the service online.
Sunday is also Communion Sunday. We will have the pre-packaged communion cups available in the foyer by the office Thursday afternoon and all day Friday for those of you that are still viewing the services on line.
Also on an exciting note, there will be a special guest singer here Sunday by the name of Robert Brooks! You won't want to miss it!
Thank you once again for your faithfulness in all aspects of building and supporting God’s Kingdom work!
Serving Christ ~ Loving People,
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
I sat in my car the other day at a stoplight singing this at the top of my lungs because as the world swirls about me one thing remains faithful and one thing remains true! I may not know what tomorrow will be like, or next week or next month will look like, but I continue to draw on his faithfulness and will continue to crank my radio when this song comes on and sing:
“I love You, Lord
For Your mercy never failed me
All my days, I've been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
And in darkest night You are close like no other
I've known You as a Father
I've known You as a Friend
And I have lived in the goodness of God, yeah!
And all my life You have been faithful, oh
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God!”
Here’s a link to the song if you’d like to hear it.
Notes from the Staff @The Woods