Category Archives: Blog

6 things you need to remember when you feel anxious.

Posted on Oct 23, 2017 | Download

Anxiety is a monster. It can cripple us or make us act in ways that we would never otherwise act. It can cause us to believe the most incredible of lies, and can even keep us from the things we care about the most. Anxiety has the ability to make you forget the things you know to be true. Here are 6 things you need to remember when anxiety takes over.   1. YOU DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE. Fear and anxiety almost always have to do with the future. Where will the money come from? What will the doctor’s test results say? Is he/she going to leave me? Will my position be a part of the company’s downsizing? What makes anxiety so powerful is the thing that should conceivably make it powerless. That is, the future is unknown. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Yet we act like prophets, predicting a gloomy future. We convince ourselves that particular events will take place which, in reality, rarely do. Usually we turn out to be far more pessimistic than prophetic. That’s why Jesus tells us, “Don’t worry about these things, saying [to yourself], ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs,” (Matt. 6:31-32).   2. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. When we become anxious we forget that there are people who care about us and will not abandon us to do it all alone. Whether it is your family, your church, or your community, you are not alone. There are people you can talk to who love you, who will listen to you and who truly want what’s best for you. Above all, you have a Heavenly Father who promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,”(Hebrews 13:5).   3. GOD HAS NEVER FAILED YOU. Anxiety makes us forget all the ways God has come through in the past. When we have been in need, God has always provided. Why do we still not trust Him? We must remember God’s faithfulness in the past. May we declare with faith, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread,” (Ps. 37:25).   4. GOD IS BOTH GOOD AND SOVEREIGN. Most of us tend to gravitate toward one or the other. God is either good or sovereign. But can He really be both? For those of us who have an easier time believing God is sovereign and is able to keep bad things from happening to us, it’s easy to sometimes doubt His goodness because He doesn’t always keep bad things from happening. For those of us who trust that He is good, it’s hard to reconcile that with His sovereignty because, if He doesn’t want bad things to happen to us then He must not be powerful enough to stop them. But God is both sovereign and good. He is in complete control of your life and He works all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). You may go through difficulty, but He will be with you. "He will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deut. 31:6).   5. GOD HEARS YOU. It’s hard to have faith when it seems like so many of our prayers go unanswered. Is God even listening? But I wonder how often it is that our prayers actually are answered and we are just not paying attention? Some of the most encouraging seasons in my faith are the seasons when I have used a prayer journal. You write down your prayers in a journal, and leave space to come back later and write down the answer. Sometimes it isn’t that prayer doesn’t work, but that we forgot what we prayed for. So when God does answer our prayer we aren’t even paying attention. Keeping a prayer journal gives you tangible proof to look back on and remember that God hears you when you pray. Unfortunately, we often still have doubt even when our prayers are answered. In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis says that even when God does answer our prayers, “[We can] see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and therefore ‘it would have happened anyway,’ and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective.” But our God does hear us. And He encourages us to, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7).   6. THERE IS VALUE IN SUFFERING. Even if what you fear does happen to you, there is hope in the hurt. It’s easy to talk about the value of suffering when you are not currently suffering. But when a hard season comes, it’s often all but impossible to be confident that there is anything of value here. But there is always promise in the pain. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” (Romans 5:3-5). We don't rejoice for our sufferings but we can always rejoice in our suffering, because God is always working in the background to use it to make us more like Him and bring us closer to Him. Suffering in itself isn’t good, and it certainly isn’t enjoyable. It hurts. But suffering has value because it often bears such wonderful fruit in our lives that we are, in a sense, thankful for it after we have come through it.   This article appeared first at KennethEugene.com.

Babylon’s Blend

Posted on Oct 18, 2017 | Download

This article was adapted from the REACHING THE REMNANT sermon series. CLICK HERE to listen to the whole sermon. Have you noticed how weird music has gotten? Why is it filled with so much sex and occultist content? Why not the supernatural and sports, or sex and food? Why this ‘mixture’ of weirdness? Revelations 17 and 18 speaks of a spirit that will be at work in the last days known as ‘the spirit of Babylon’. She is called The Great Harlot who, “having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality”, will be judged by God for making the nations “drunk on the wine of the passion of her immorality.” Revelations 18:6 says, “Pay her back even as she has paid, and give back to her double according to her deeds; in the cup which she has mixed, mix twice as much for her.” This mixture goes all the way back to the Tower of Babel. That Which Has Been… In Genesis, chapters 10 and 11, we read about a man named Nimrod who led the first organized rebellion against God. The Lord had commanded Noah in Genesis 9 to: “Be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” Nimrod, who’s name means ‘rebellion’ or ‘we shall revolt’, decided to settle in the land of Shinar and make a name for himself by building a great city and a tower that could reach above the clouds. This sounds eerily similar to what Lucifer said in his heart in Isaiah 14! In this story, we are also told that Nimrod ‘became a mighty one upon the earth’ and that he was a ‘mighty hunter before the Lord’. In Hebrew, ‘Mighty Hunter’ was an expression used to describe ‘one who hunts men to enslave them’ and the word used for ‘become’ means ‘to defile, to pollute oneself ritually; sexually’. Could it be that Nimrod gained his power and influence through sexual abuse and rape? Since the word for ‘before’ means ‘face to face’ and is used to describe being in God’s presence, it stands to reason that as an act of rebellious defiance, Nimrod began conducting rituals involving sex right in front of God. Perhaps the tower was not a tower at all, but rather a temple where Nimrod ‘mixed’ sex and the supernatural, thereby establishing the first ‘false religion’ — later to be called the worship of Bel — famous for extremely explicit sexual rites. By the way, Genesis 11 tells us that Babel means ‘confusion’, but comes from the root word balal which means… “to mix”. This mixture of “sex and the supernatural” is seen in various places in scripture. In Daniel 5, Belshazzer, the Chaldean King of Babylon, seems to be familiar with this ritual since he ‘tasted the wine and called in his wives and concubines and began to worship false gods’. This may be why Daniel ‘made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank’.  Let’s RECAP…  Nimrod: Led the 1st unified rebellion against God. Established the 1st “kingdom” the world had ever known. Introduced the 1st organized “false religion”.  … Is That Which Will Be Do these things sound familiar? Daniel 7, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13 together describe the time of the end when ‘the man of lawlessness’ will: lead a final rebellion against God. set up a ‘one world’ government upon the earth. draw worship away from God and unto himself. Nimrod seems to prefigure the Anti-Christ, who will rise up in the last days to hunt and harm God’s people. The Apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation, also wrote: “Little children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18) Maybe this is why sex and the supernatural are being mixed so heavily into today’s music. Perhaps it is a sign of the times; a precursor to what is ahead for the world? After all, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, did tell the people not to bow down and worship his image until they heard the music play! (Dan. 3:5) The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 13:11 to ‘understand the occasion; to discern the time and to wake up from our sleep.’ The Apostle Peter reminds us that, “the end of all things is near. Therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer,” (1 Peter 4:7).  Nimrod has not stopped hunting God’s people. The spirit of Babylon is still at work today. The Great Harlot is mixing greater amounts of sex and the supernatural than ever before and is offering it without measure to our children in this last hour. Let us be of sober spirit! May we refuse to ‘drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality, for she will be paid back double according to her deeds, in the cup in which she has mixed.’ Let us remember that ‘the Lord God who judges her is strong’!  And Let us not shrink back to destruction but rise up with faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who saw, heard and even felt the music, but didn’t bow down! This article was adapted from the REACHING THE REMNANT sermon series. CLICK HERE to listen to the whole sermon.

10 Virtues That Will Help Our Kids Overcome

Posted on Oct 11, 2017 | Download

10 Virtues That Will Help Our Kids Overcome.   This blog post comes from this past week’s sermon, Reaching the Remnant ~ wk4 ~ Decorated With Sprinkles.   Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were “…10 times better than all those around them.” Not only did they not succumb to the pressures of the worldliness around them, but their influence has also reached from generation to generation and still impacts us today. This is what we want for our children. Here are 10 virtues that will set your children apart from the world and set them up to have great influence to the world around them!   1. HUMILITY Let’s teach our kids how to value others above ourselves and call-out behavior that is rooted in pride. Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.   2. RESPECT Let’s teach our kids how to honor their elders and peers by interacting with kindness and call-out every ill-mannered behavior. Ephesians 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.   3. PATIENCE Let’s teach our kids the value of waiting, and call-out whining about not getting what they want when they want it.   James 4:1-2 What causes conflicts and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from the passions at war within you? You crave what you do not have.   4. FORGIVENESS Let’s teach our kids that holding on to grudges harms them more than it does their offender, and call-out any unwillingness to extend grace. 2 Corinthians 2:7 You should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.   5. COMPASSION Let’s teach our kids how to help and encouragement those who are hurting and call-out judgmental behaviors that keep them from reaching out with love. Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.   6. DILIGENCE Let’s teach our kids to treat every task as an opportunity to please God and call-out every form of laziness and negativity toward hard work. Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men.   7. CONTENTMENT Let’s teach our kids how to have peace and joy when life is not exactly how we hope it to be and call them out when they complain about their situation. Philippians 4:11-12 I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.   8. HONESTY Let’s teach our kids to tell the truth even when it hurts and to call-out every type of deceptive behavior. Proverbs 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.   9. GENEROSITY Let’s teach our kids to freely give of themselves and their treasures and call-out stingy and selfish behavior. Proverbs 11:24-25 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.   10. COURAGE Let’s teach our kids to face their fears head on and call-out them out when they are letting their emotions rule their decision. Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.   PRAYER: God, I pray these virtues over my children today. I ask that Your Holy Spirit would override my flesh and empower me to live out these virtues myself and instill them into the heart of my kids. Thank You for Your faithfulness and that Your Word always accomplishes what it goes forth to do. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of my family’s hearts ever please to You! Amen

There’s Safety In Community

Posted on Sep 19, 2017 | Download

Everyday is an illustrated sermon when raising sheep. Just as the kids were leaving for school this morning, a neighbor's dog came strolling up. The shepherd (my husband) knew why it was here: to chase those sheep. The sheep knew it too. The dog seemed harmless. He even rolled over on it's back when we would walk up to it. My husband tried to run it off but it kept coming back. The kids got upset because they just knew that the dog was friendly. The sheep are on high alert. They're frozen with fear. We watched closely to see if the dog would go after the sheep with us standing near. He catches their scent on the ground and within seconds begins to chase them. And the race is on! Round and round the barn they go as the shepherd starts to intervene. Down into the front pasture they sprint, startled and running for their lives. My husband strategically times his move and cuts in between the sheep and the dog. I help hold the dog off while the shepherd gets them safely to the sheepfold. All the while I am thinking back to the moment those sheep saw the dog. They stood clustered together, watchful and nervous. Had they just stood together and held their ground, the dog would not have chased them. In fact, he would've lost interest and moved along. But they ran. And ran. And ran. The shepherd said, "No, that dog won't likely attack them but he will run them in the ground. The pregnant females would lose their babies. They have to stop running." Our enemy, according to the Word, has weapons formed against us (Is. 54:17). He tries using them but we are promised that they won't prosper. The enemy may not destroy us, but he would be happy to keep us in a frenzy, running and running and running until we are so ragged that we fall. Perhaps this is a word for some of us. Stop running yourself ragged. Stand your ground. Stand safe in the community of fellow believers. Stop running and face the enemy head on. Don't let him chase you one more moment. Paul told us in Ephesians 6:13, "Put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after battle (yes you will have to fight a few) you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground!" The first piece he lists is the Belt of Truth. TRUTH. Our ultimate and greatest defense against our Adversary, the opposer of Truth. Hurl Truth in the face of the enemy and watch him run. You do not have to listen to his lies. You do not have to reason with his shame. You do not have to hide from his intimidation. You do not have to run in a panic. You have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you! You are in the Good Shepherd's sheepfold and He has prepared a table for you in the presence of your enemy (Ps. 23:5). Take heart and fight the good fight.

God is teaching you to fight.

Posted on Jul 19, 2017 | Download

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”  (Jeremiah 12:5) Why does anyone hire a personal trainer? Think about it. We give someone money to make us to do things we don't want to do. We literally pay someone to put us in pain, make us sweat, and smack our hands away from chocolate chip cookies. Why? There are a couple of reasons. We need accountability. A big part of having a personal trainer is simply having someone else there to make sure you show up and to call you out when you don’t. We need a standard. We need someone else in our lives to push us further than we are comfortable going because we know the result will be worth it. If we were working out on our own, we might stop when it hurts or when we get tired. But a trainer knows that we can usually do more than we think we can, and will push us to do so. We need a coach. Especially when we are first starting out exercising, it’s difficult to even know where to start or what to do? Should I run three miles immediately, or should I work up to it? Should I bench-press and exercise my legs on the same day or alternate days? How many repetitions should I do? Etc. We need a coach to show us what to do. God is our personal trainer. He puts you into situations that are hard, frustrating, and even at times discouraging, not because he enjoys seeing you suffer, but because he wants to see you persevere—to win! When we face trials it’s natural, and even right, to pray that God would rescue us from them. Sometimes God will answer that prayer with an emphatic and miraculous, “Yes!” and it’s wonderful when he does. Other times, God may answer with “No” or “Not yet.” These are not inferior answers, and they do not mean you lack faith. God’s answer may be “no” because you are in training. He is saying to you, like he said to Jeremiah, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?” God told Paul the same thing in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9: “A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me… Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” When we face difficult, we should pray earnestly and faithful that God would rescue us from it (he is our Savior, after all). But we should not become discouraged when he chooses not to do so, because these are the times that he wants you to learn to trust him, to persevere and to grow. In every trial you face, remember, God is teaching you to fight.   Kenneth Reid is a Christian, husband, dad, blogger and song writer from Tyler, TX. He works at Somachurch as the office administrator. Follow his blog at kennetheugene.com.   Photo by Solal Ohayon on Unsplash

7 questions to ask when you lose your love for God.

Posted on Jun 28, 2017 | Download

We all find ourselves in a place from time to time where our passion for the Lord begins to diminish. 16th Century Reformer, Martin Luther, said in his 95 Theses, "The entire life of believers [is] to be one of repentance." Repentance should mark our Christian walk. If we aren't constantly repenting it may be time to reevaluate whether our relationship with Jesus is genuine. Our pastor talked a couple of weeks ago about the scripture in Matthew 24:12 that says, "Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold." In his message he suggested seven questions you should ask yourself when you begin to feel like you're losing your passion for Jesus.   1. When is the last time you shared the Gospel with someone you know is an unbeliever? All it takes is a glance at our Facebook pages to know that we can't help but talk about the things we're passionate about. If we are truly passionate about the gospel, sharing it with others will be our natural response.   2. When is the last time you invited an un-churched Christian to your church or Small-Group? James 5:20 says, "Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." Bringing the wandering Christian home should be something we eagerly seek to do.   3. How often do YOU come to church or Small-Group? The Church is most often referred to as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. It is almost inconceivable that a Christian can be a passionate follower of Christ, but care very little about His Body and Bride.   4. When is the last time you prayed for someone outside your own Christian Community? If we aren't thinking and praying for people outside the church, then our hearts are not hurting for what God's heart hurts for. Namely, the lost!   5. When is the last time you privately prayed for someone inside your own church community? We have to be in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are our spiritual family and we should care about them as much as our own family.   6. When is the last time you privately prayed at all? Prayer is the proof of dependence upon God. If we are not praying, we can't say that we truly depend on God.   7. Do you faithfully give toward the Great Commission? Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart is also," (Matt. 6:21). How can we say our heart is for the lost if our wallet is not?   You can hear the whole sermon this blog post was based on here.

How to erase anxiety from your life

Posted on Jun 7, 2017 | Download

Through the years of ministry, I have spoken to so many who struggle with fear and anxiety. It can hit like a tidal wave at any moment but the consensus say the middle of the night can be when it strikes the hardest. Ranging anywhere from mild anxiety that keeps their minds from resting to sheer panic that wakes them up in a flash of terror. Then the mental barrage of worse-case scenarios, what-if's and all the questions.....Who? What? When? Where? Why? I've had these moments myself and watched a pattern in my mental behavior that was completely opposite of how I live and what I believe. So I asked the Lord to show me what my response should be when those moments strike. I've shared before that I am learning to stop, take a deep breath and turn the focus from me or my problem or the scenario, and begin focusing on and speaking out truth and praise: Who God is. What He has done. When He has come through in the past. Where He wants to take me. Why He has given me grace.   Psalms 63:6-8 gives us a pleasant alternative to those middle of the night panic sessions. "I lie awake thinking of you (God), Meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; Your strong right hand holds me securely." I think God knew we would be prone to worry and fret. He also knows that the enemy of our souls is especially nocturnal.... he thrives in the darkness. When we practice turning our minds and thoughts to God, we are letting the light shine in the darkness and the reward is peace. It's the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) What a beautiful benefit He has given us in knowing Him and choosing to think of Him, even when anxiety and fear try to rule our hearts. We are held securely in Him. What peace! And what a reason to praise!    

Don’t Freak Out

Posted on Apr 5, 2017 | Download

Don't freak out. Talk to Me. Don't freak out. Trust Me. Come to Me.  First. Before your spouse, your parents, your friends. Before Facebook. The peace you yearn for is only satisfied when it is from Me. Why trust Me? Because I am the, I AM. I am the Creator. The earth on which you stand, I made that. The trees, flowers, grass, I grew that. Put your hand on your chest, I commission every single beat. Stop looking for answers and comfort from people who did not create each fiber of this universe.  Come to Me first. I am greater. I am bigger. I am more than you will ever know or could imagine, and I Am with you. Running away and hiding does not separate us. You cannot hide in light or darkness from Me. Please stop. Let Me in. Let Me love you how your heart has been longing. I made your heart, I know what it needs. I am what it needs. That "freak out" feeling, your unsatisfied spirit...I, and only I, can sooth it. I AM, trustworthy, bigger, mighty, a loving Father, a just God, a Holy Spirit, and have proven My love. I have a plan. The blueprints, I drew them. The results are already in…and I am good. So, Don’t Freak Out. Talk to Me. Your car stopped working. Will you trust Me? Your bank is empty. Will you trust Me? Your body is sick. Will you trust Me? Your home is broken. Will you trust Me? You lost your job. Will you trust Me? You lost a beloved one. Will you trust Me? Your heart is lonely. Will you trust Me? Your sins are suffocating. Will you trust Me? With your greatest fear. Will you trust Me? With your deepest desire. Will you trust Me? Will you give it all to Me? Will you loosen your grip and give it back? Deep breath. Come to Me. Come, let Me pour out My peace upon you. Let Me lighten your load. Let Me teach you My ways. Let Me share what is on My heart. I love you. I am calling you out of fear. I am calling you INTO trust. Don't freak out. (just a little of the) Proof: Exodus 3:14, Deuteronomy 6:13-19, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:4, Deuteronomy 31:8, Proverbs 3:1-6, Matthew 6:25-33, Psalm 139:7-12, John 14:23-27, Isaiah 40:28-31, Psalm 139: 13-15, Romans 5:1-11, Matthew 11:28-30, John 3:16-17

Simplify to Amplify

Posted on Mar 15, 2017 | Download

Simplify To Amplify One of our elders recently preached a sermon entitled, “Revived.” Of the many impactful words he shared, one of the phrases that really stuck with me was, “When God calls us out on something, He calls us unto something.” I recently stumbled upon a podcast that outlined reflective practices meant to be target strengths, weaknesses and areas of opportunity in our individual lives. The podcast recommended two practices 1) 80/20 analysis and 2) thinking big. The 80/20 analysis comes from the Pareto Principle, where generally speaking, 20% of causes typically generate 80% of the results. Think – “20% of the people are doing 80% of the work.” In the instance of this podcast, the host encouraged listeners to evaluate and emphasize the 20% of their life from which they derived the majority (80%) of their happiness. Then, prioritize towards that specific 20%, rather than get lost in the remaining 80% that doesn’t bring happiness. The other practice, thinking big, forces us outside of our comfort zone, rather than simply accept the way things are currently. He used the figure 10X. Rather than being reactionary, he encouraged proactive behaviors by setting big goals, 10X goals, and working backwards from this big end result to identify the steps necessary to reach that big goal. Not only are these great self-improvement practices, these concepts relate to our walk with Christ and really materialize the concept of being called out. Consider 2 Peter 1:5-10: For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. I encourage you to perform an 80/20 analysis in your personal and spiritual life. What are the few truly rewarding pursuits you are involved in? Why not focus and prioritize towards these impactful pursuits rather than getting bogged down with the mundane remainder of ill-rewarding pursuits. What kind of change would you see in your life if the majority of your time spent generated Kingdom impactful results that glorify God and share His grace? Ask yourself - Where is your time going? Where is your worth placed? Are you over-extended or running ragged? Do you find very little time for things that truly matter? These are tough questions to ask yourself, but don’t be shy. Be brutally honest. If time is our most valuable asset, are we being good stewards of focusing our time on Kingdom pursuits – being used by Him and bringing glory to God? One of my favorite sayings is “Without margin, there is no ministry.” This can be true in many areas – finances, attitudes and especially our time. If I pack my schedule so full with what I think I HAVE to do, am I missing out on joining God at work RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME? In the context of this 80/20 analysis, am I focusing on the impactful, or going through the motions with the less effective? The second concept – thinking big, setting the goal and working backwards can be directly applied to our spiritual lives as well. This week, my pastor shared about praying to the Lord to increase our faith. Think of Peter on the water, sinking, rather than grabbing hold of the steadfast hand of Christ. When I hear “think big” my mind goes directly to “God sized ideas”. What are the things we are embarrassed to share because they seem so outlandish to our current situations? The root of thinking big, and subsequently praying big, is faith. We must have faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). I can be guilty of limiting beliefs. We all do it. This is human nature. However, God is not and will not be limited. As believers, we have a unique opportunity to join with God in His work, for His glory; but to be a part of His BIG picture, which we cannot see in its entirety, we MUST have faith. The popular 1950s book, The Magic of Thinking Big states that “Action cures fear.” This is completely true in our spiritual walk. Faith is the action that cures the fear that cripples us. So, this blog post is titled, “Simplify to Amplify.” At the most basic level, we must prioritize and have faith. As believers, we are called out by God, but when we are called out for something we are also called unto something. What is God calling you to? Do you have the margin, or time in your life that enables us to approach the throne in freedom, with faith, to join with God where He is leading? How can you simplify, in an effort to amplify? Are there areas of your life that are consumed with things that are detracting from our ability to live out the will of God and to be used powerfully by Him? Are you afraid to trust God to lead you into a new season of change? Are you afraid to specifically pray to the Lord for faith to believe in your “God sized ideas?” Perhaps you are entering a season of required simplicity or rest to “get back to the basics?” Trust God. Simplicity is necessary to more clearly hear from the Lord and be filled with His Spirit and grace as you embark into a new season or a renewed calling. Place your focus and faith in Him.

Give Life

Posted on Sep 16, 2016 | Download

I will never forget the past two and a half weeks. I am overwhelmed. I am inspired. I am encouraged. I am forever changed. The call of our church this past year has been to go “further” and “deeper” in Christ as we seek to live a life worthy of the calling (Ephesians 4:1). My prayer is to encourage you through sharing how the Lord is teaching me, for His glory, even in the midst trial and pain. My two-year old nephew tragically passed away a little over a week ago. Before he passed, I spent many late nights and early mornings in the hospital by his bedside. These are moments I will never forget – moments of blessed assurance that the Lord was right there with us, providing peace in the midst of chaos; a good shepherd in the midst of a shadowy valley. In those moments I was surrounded by the peace and comfort of our Savior. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 I love the promises found throughout God’s word. It is so easy to read over these promises as they register in your mind. Too often, it is not until we are broken down and have worn through every ounce of self-reliance that these same verses resonate in our hearts. C.S. Lewis wrote of how God uses pain. “It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” These moments with Remy were eternally rousing for me, moments of refinement and encouragement. I will forever cherish the precious moments I spent with Remy by his bedside. We sang, prayed and read scripture. One night, I read him a poem I remembered from long ago - “Only One Life, Twill Soon Be Past" by C.T. Studd. One particular stanza provided both an encouragement and challenge: Give me Father, a purpose deep,             In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;             Faithful and true what e’er the strife,             Pleasing Thee in my daily life;             Only one life, ’twill soon be past,             Only what’s done for Christ will last. “A purpose deep.” “Faithful and true.” “Pleasing Thee in my daily life.” These words resonated with me. It speaks of a singular purpose, a purpose of glorifying God, remaining faithful and true. So much life has come from Remy’s passing – physical life, spiritual life, and emotional life. I like to say, “God used Remy to give life.” The amount of glory given to God in these last few weeks speaks to an all-knowing God and His perfect plan. I say “God used Remy to give life” because what people less familiar with the story may not know is that through Remy’s death, he was able to give life through organ donation. His blood type was extremely rare, and due to his gift, two other people that had very little hope were given life. We call Remy a hero. God used him to give life! At his memorial, 5 people committed their lives to Christ. More life! His parents - my sister and brother-in-law, have held steadfast in their faith, trusting God during the darkest time in their life. Their confidence, strength and resolve to glorify God through it all is unbelievably inspiring. Since his passing, countless testimonies have been shared of how this story has impacted the lives of others. To God be the glory! These are people Remy and his parents have never met. What life! What an impact! Through the grace of God, this precious two-year old boy has been used by God, impacting more people than most can reach in a lifetime. One of the greatest gifts I have from my nephew is a precious inspiration to be used by God, as Remy was, to “give life” and return glory to Him. In Remy’s story, both his life and his ability to give life to others returned glory to God. We have been given the gift of life through Christ, so we may be used to bring Him glory. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 So, what do I mean by “give life?” To “give life” in this metaphor is to be used by God to return glory to Him. This is done through our relationship with Him and our relationships with others. The Chaplain leading Remy’s memorial prayed that we would all “remember what life is all about – Our relationship with God, and our relationship with others.” In Matthew 22, Jesus shares the two greatest commandments – “Love the Lord your God…and love your neighbor.” God can use everyone in different ways to “give life” and glorify Him. While not everyone can give a physical gift of life like Remy, we can be used by God to “give life” in our families, our marriages, our careers. All of this can bring God glory. We can “give life” through love; through mending broken relationships, through redefining priorities, through intentional discipleship, through pursuing missional living, through outreach, and most of all, through praying for one another and loving one another. In all things - our thoughts, our actions and our lives as a whole, we are to love the Lord and love each other. The time the Lord gives us on this earth is not certain. Intentionally living out these two commandments is how we can be used to return glory to Him. Remember the poem above – “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Be encouraged! No thought, action or deed is too small to be used for God’s glory. Do not discount your age, position, status or capabilities. God can use any person, at any age, for His glory. Just look at Remy! “Now to Him who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20 However God uses each of us to “give life”, I am confident it will continue to lead each of us on the path of “further, deeper” as we seek to live a life worthy of the calling. “Give life”, grow in Christ and experience the joy of going further and deeper with Him.


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