Category Archives: Blog

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.

3 Reasons to Stop Going to Church

Posted on Aug 21, 2016 | Download

Church can feel like a confusing and frustrating place in our culture. It seems like all the time we hear of a minister falling into sin or major doctrinal divides among denominations. Hypocritical, thievish, immoral, judgmental, these are some of the horrific words that are often used to describe the Church. And for many, even the “good” churches do not seem all that necessary. After all, I can download sermons and praise songs on my phone and have an entire worship service in my living room, right? It certainly beats sitting in a large room full of people I don’t like while pretending not to feel awkward until it’s over. Who needs church? This isn’t a new problem. 1 Samuel 1-2 records one of the worst church experiences most of us have ever faced. Elkanah and Hanna are a very sweet couple, and they are barren. Hanna desperately wanted children. So when she and her husband came to the temple (church) to offer the annual sacrifice, she prayed earnestly that God would give her a child. And this is where their bad church experience begins. Unhelpful Pastor Hanna prays sorrowfully and silently for a child. “Hanna was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13). Eli, the priest (pastor) saw her praying and somehow took her silent prayer for drunkenness: “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you” (vs. 14). Put yourself in this story. There you are, a God fearing woman (or the husband of a God fearing woman), bearing your soul before God, trying to trust Him, but also broken and frustrated. And the pastor judgmentally accuses you of being drunk. How would you react? Hanna’s response was humility. “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit… I have been pouring out my heart before the Lord.” Finally, Eli blesses her, (doesn’t apologize, mind you), and prays that she would have a child. Ungodly Church Elders Hanna made a vow that if God would give her a child, she would give him back to the Lord. God showed Himself faithful and blessed her with a son whose name was Samuel. She kept Samuel until he was weaned and then brought him to the temple to be raised as a minister to the Lord. Samuel would live at the temple with the priests for the rest of his life. That’s quite a vow for a mom to make. Chapter 2 tell us about some of the other priests Samuel would be influenced by—the sons of Eli. “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.” (Can you imagine if God called you worthless)? It goes on to explain why these men were worthless. First, “the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt” (verse 37). They had no fear of the Lord and did not care about the people, so when worshippers would come to offer a sacrifice, they bullied the people and disrupted worship just to eat some of the sacrificial meat. Second, they were sleeping with the female temple servants. If you were Samuel’s parents, would you leave your kid with these guys? Unmet Expectations So Hanna and Elkanah kept their vow and gave their child to the Lord. They have remained gracious and unoffended with their Pastor’s accusation of drunkenness, they have chosen to trust the Lord and leave their child in the company of these wicked church elders, and now they have gone back home where they are practically left with no children, yet again. What unmet expectations might they have experienced? Have you ever grown bitter with God thinking, “After all I’ve given to Him, why isn’t He being faithful to me?” But this was not their heart. God had, as of yet, given them no more children. Their circumstance had not changed. But they still came faithfully every year to give the annual sacrifice, and 1 Sam. 2:19 says, “His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.” It was after they came faithfully to worship that they were finally blessed with more children.   WHY? So is church really worth it? Why would this couple pour so much of themselves into being committed to the Church after such a terrible experience? There are at least three reasons we should never give up on the Church. Because God is Faithful When Hanna brought Samuel to the temple and showed him to Eli she said, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord.” Nothing in this life is truer than that when we obey God He abundantly blesses us. We remain faithful to Him, and therefore to His people, because He is faithful to us. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things,” (Romans 8:32)? Because Jesus Loves the Church The Church is the Bride of Christ. When we give up on the Church we are giving up on Christ’s wife. He paid a high price for her, and I promise He knows her flaws much better than you do. You have no right to give up on the Church until He does, and He never will. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Because YOU are the Church We have all seen hypocrisy, we have all been hurt by someone in the Church, and probably more often than that, we have all felt the fakeness of “playing church.” Honestly, sometimes it does feel easier to just stay home. But may I encourage you not to give up on the Church? Church isn’t just a place to be blessed and filled up, it is also a place to be a blessing and to pour yourself out. When you walk into a congregation and become frustrated that no one is kind enough to meet you and invite you into their circle of friendship, you be the Church and reach out to someone you do not know. When you see hypocrisy, you be the Church and live an example of godliness. When you see fake Christianity, you be the Church and show others what it means to be genuine. Where you see the Church not acting like the Church, you be the Church.

Trial and Error Evangelism

Posted on Jul 16, 2016 | Download

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — During a recent evangelistic outing, I was conversing with an adherent of New Age philosophy. He was a good old-fashioned hippie who sought external, internal and eternal peace through oneness with the material world. He believed that all of nature had the same spiritual value as do human beings. Normally, fellows with such a mindset are very calm and diplomatic. This guy, however, was downright hostile. Our conversation ended with him setting a Gospel tract on fire. I was tempted to leave the scene, but I decided to talk with one of this militant hippie’s cohorts instead. She concurred with his views, but was actually willing to have a respectful conversation about our differences. My discussion with her concluded with a friendly hug, and she accepted an invitation to my church. On another occasion when a friend of mine and I were looking to talk to people about Jesus, we met a Hindu guru and his Buddhist friend. In the months since my first encounter with those two, it has become clear that the Hindu gentleman is not only a non-believer, but he is totally hostile to the Gospel. He said that he unequivocally refuses to keep an open mind about Jesus, he won’t accept Gospel literature, receive prayer or be my guest at church. His Buddhist friend, on the other hand, has taken evangelistic tracts (and given me a Buddhist one) and is open to coming to Christian events if his work schedule permits. I know where both men work. From time to time, I visit my new Buddhist friend and we compare spiritual perspectives. I do not go to the Hindu guru anymore because it’s obvious he’s not interested in a discussion. He only wants an argument — and to ridicule Jesus. Sometimes, when we set out to proclaim Jesus to people, God will guide us directly to those who want to hear our message. Often, though, we have to discover who is interested and who isn’t through trial and error. This was the way Christ’s early disciples typically spread the message of salvation. When the Apostle Paul tried to share the Gospel in Corinth (part of modern-day Greece) he initially encountered those who “opposed and reviled him.”1 He turned away from that group and shared the message of Jesus with others. As a result, “many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.”2 When Paul and his missionary companion, Barnabas, preached that Jesus is the messiah in Antioch (part of modern-day Turkey) many “began to contradict what was spoken.”3 When they redirected their efforts, many came to faith in Jesus.4 Likewise in Ephesus (also in Turkey) Paul was sharing the Gospel with anyone who would listen. Yet when some “became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of” Christianity he moved on.5 When Jesus sent out his disciples to evangelize, he admonished them to turn away from people who were unwilling to “listen to” them.6 Yet, it should be noted, he was perfectly willing to send them to people who likely would reject the message. Jesus loved people so much that he wanted all to hear the Gospel. He didn’t believe it was ever a waste of time to discuss the truth with someone. However, he was strategic enough to move on when people clearly demonstrated disinterest in the Good News. He wanted to focus on those who would listen. Christians today should take exactly the same approach. 1. Acts 18:6 2. Acts 18:8 3. Acts 13:45 4. Acts 13:48 5. Acts 19:9 6. Matthew 10:14 Raymond Billy is one of Soma's missionaries who lives and ministers in Hawaii. For more information and to contribute to his mission work, visit http://www.modernday.org/field-workers/billy/.

Evangelism through the Heart

Posted on Jul 8, 2016 | Download

Compassion for the lost – that is what fuels the fire of evangelism in my heart. There are so many people who are lost in the world. We see people all around us who don't know Christ and appear to have their lives all together; yet they are filled with emptiness and have barren souls. We often categorize "the lost" as being the homeless, drug addicts, or people living in third world countries . . . and after all isn't it the missionaries’ job to reach the lost? Not according to the Bible. Anyone who has received Jesus as his or her Savior is called to proclaim the good news of Christ. Why then do we find it so difficult to share who Jesus is and what He has done in our lives with unbelievers? So many of us have adopted the misconception that evangelism means going door to door or presenting an unbelieving friend or family member with a prepared speech. We work up the courage, blurt the whole thing out, and hope they don't ask any questions, and then think "whew, I've done my duty for the year." No wonder so many non-Christians get scared when they see us coming! The model for evangelism that Jesus showed to us was sharing through relationship. God will sometimes bring us spur of the moment opportunities to share our faith. However, more often than not those opportunities come through friends, coworkers, neighbors, or family who are lost. I think non-believers want to see that we are human too, not some super -disciple whose feet never touch the ground. We are sinners who make mistakes, but we have a Savior who has set us free from the bondage of sin and bridged the gap between God and us. When we share how Jesus has worked in our own lives and the relationship we have with Him, that can spark a lot more interest than a speech blurted out at record speed. In Luke 8:16 Jesus says, "Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lamp stand, in order that those who come in may see the light.” People should be able to see Jesus in our lives, the way we behave, what we say and do. God brings opportunities to share His Saving Grace as our lives bear witness to Christ in us. "Why are you so happy all the time" or "How can you not be worried about this" are questions that open a door to share Christ with someone. John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him shall bear much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” Abiding in Christ is where evangelism begins. When we bear fruit our lives are a testimony to Christ’s power to change us. Although, our witnessing may only plant a seed that we don't see grow into maturity; we can trust that God will use that seed to "woo" that person to Him. I love how Rebecca Manley Pippert, in her book, “Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World,” sums this up: "If we are to be followers of Jesus, His values must permeate our values. We need to be concerned more with how our lives reflect His love, His holiness, His obedience, than with the latest witnessing techniques. When we live as Jesus did, in His power and with His presence, seekers will be drawn to us. Evangelism will not be a dreaded task to be ticked off every Wednesday. Rather, sharing Jesus will become a true delight and evangelism will become a lifestyle".

From Broken to Beauty

Posted on Jul 1, 2016 | Download

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you feel shattered? When everything in your life seemed to be broken and scattered on the floor in a million pieces? In these times, I find myself looking from my finite perspective and starting to feel hopeless, anxious, distraught, and clueless about how to move forward. How did this happen? Why did this happen? How do I move forward? It is so easy to become overwhelmed about our current state that we forget to fully surrender to God. In those times, we must rise above our circumstances and remember we are living not for ourselves, but for Christ. God reminds us of His infinite perspective. I am thankful for a God who looks at our mess, our chaos, our despair, and our brokenness and sees a future, a foundation, and a restoration in the making. When we are at the bottom, God is waiting for us to call out for Him so He can pour out His grace and mercy. He longs to personally meet us in the middle of our brokenness in a tender and loving way that only a Father can do. He crouches down to us and cradles us in His arms. It is here that we finally can exhale and restoration begins. He fills us with His peace even when we are in the middle of the storm. “He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure.” Psalms 40:2 “Praise be to the lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God that saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.” Psalms 68:19-20 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 How comforting it is to know we have a God who can empathize in all of our pain and weakness for He Himself experienced it. There is no pain, no weakness, no betrayal, and no struggle that He does not know. He experienced all of these and more. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-26 When we finally surrender to God’s sovereignty and give up control, we must surrender to His plan and His will. During times of pain we must remember to keep our focus on Him and He will begin to restore and rebuild. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isiah 55:8-9 “This is what the Lord says: ‘The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel.’ The Lord appeared to us from far away saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful.” Jeremiah 31:2-4 Our God rebuilds again and again. He restores over and over again. He gives us joy for mourning. There is beauty when He breaks us down to nothing so that He can begin to form new desires and fill our soul with new passions and new joy – joy that is greater than we could have ever imagined. He teaches us how dependent we are on Him during times in the valley. He shows us through the refining process that we are useless on our own and we must fully rely on Him for everything in all situations. He teaches us to always praise and worship Him, giving Him all the glory. When you are going through hard times, remember that God never promises us that life will be easy. Actually, He tells us our lives will be the opposite of easy. He tells us we will experience troubles and trials. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 The beauty is that even though we experience pain and trials, we do not have to experience despair and hopelessness. Christ gives us a hope and a future. The hope we are given is our anchor during the storms of this life. Out of the storm comes beauty and rebirth.

Chasing the Red Dot

Posted on May 18, 2016 | Download

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 The Red Dot If you’ve never owned a cat, I’m sure you have at least seen funny cat videos online. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat, but be sure to set a timer – the next time you look up, hours will have passed. I saw a video recently of cat after cat, time and time again dropping everything to chase a red laser-pointer dot. Anytime the dot appears, it’s game over and their attention is immediately redirected. There’s no stopping to think about it, it’s immediate. The cat could have been eating, playing with something else, or sitting and relaxing, and then all of a sudden – PING! WHOOSH! All you see is a streak of fur dashing down the hall to chase this red dot. Cats will try to run up walls, jump onto counters, off of couches, and into boxes that are ever so slightly and deliberately balanced just at the top of the stairs. All of this to try to catch this little red dot. Watching these cats made me think about all of the many things in life we chase. We chase after money, we chase after careers, we chase after people, we chase after ideas, we chase after knowledge…and if there’s enough time at the end of the day, we might chase after God. We each need to refocus on God because we get so easily distracted.   Listening to Jesus Jesus is straightforward. Yes, Jesus taught in parables, but when it came to the really important stuff, he was candid. “Follow me”, “love each other”, “seek me and you will find me”, “ask me and you will receive”, “put me first”, and “remember me.” These are all clear and concise commands. This is a blessing for my analytical brain because I tend to over-think and complicate everything. In a world full of confusion it's so good to have a Messiah who is straightforward!   Focus on Jesus With all of the “red dots” in our lives, it is so important to keep our focus on Jesus. For some people the red dot is Facebook, for some it may be inappropriate humor, for others, the red dot is ditching responsibility to ‘have fun’. The red dot can be anything that takes our focus away from God. The enemy is fixing traps for us and baiting us with these little red dots. The enemy knows that we may not jump into a trap willingly, but we might if we are distracted by chasing after something. What will it mean for you if you finally catch this red dot? You have to count it as loss. You may argue that what you’re dreaming and chasing after is not inherently a bad thing, but despite any good intentions we may have, if anything is taking God’s place in the center of our lives, it has to go. We can’t want that dream or goal or project more than we want Jesus.   “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” -Philippians 3:7-8  

Do You Like God?

Posted on May 11, 2016 | Download

Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. -1 John 2:15   Have you ever liked a photo on Instagram or a post on Facebook? Chances are you have. Now you might be wondering why I would bring this up, and I wouldn’t blame you. It seems out of place to talk about something other than Jesus on the church blog, right? Actually, Jesus himself always taught in parables, which are still relevant today. Our Messiah gave people bits of information that they could understand and relate to in the stories He told them – then He went a step further and explained what the stories meant and represented spiritually. Since the answer is probably yes to whether you have tapped that thumbs up icon on your well-used Smartphone, I’ll ask this question: do you “like” God?  The question is really asking do you have a close relationship with God that people envy? One that gives you an unbreakable bond to Him in everything you do? Or do you passively interact with Him? Do you just tap the thumbs-up on the Christian icons and like or favorite God every now and then? Imagine a phone with a bunch of text notifications – some are from God, some are from the world, and some are from Satan. Which ones do you answer the most? For me, the worldly ones, as well as Satan’s personal texts seem the most appealing at times. They appear as shiny and flashy ads and they seem like they will solve all your problems, but if you click on the ads they just lead you away from what you were focused on, cause viruses, and lie to you. Just like notifications on our phones, we can choose which messages to listen to in our lives. Do we listen to the voice of hope and peace and love? Or do we let whispers of ambition and pride and jealousy into our hearts and minds? We choose which messages to receive and in turn, it is our responsibility to answer them. What if the reason we don’t get more spiritual “texts” from God is that we don’t text Him back? If we don’t actively seek God’s word and character, we are left to piece together an incomplete picture of God and His plan for our world and for us. What if you just “like” what He posts and favorite all His tweets, but you don’t ever connect to Him personally? For us as Christians, if we don’t have a personal relationship with God through prayer and striving to follow his ways, we are just His metaphorical Facebook friends. We wrongly use the word “friends” and only know the easy-to-digest outer things about God because we refuse to engage on a deeper level. We as believers tend to just tap that thumbs up icon all day instead of actually connecting to our Savior and having a real relationship with Him. As followers of Christ we need to get off our spiritual cell phones and see that God is right here in the room from us – all we have to do is take a few steps off the couch and he will be waiting with arms open wide, ready to receive us.


Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function split() in /home/somatyler/somatyler.org/wp-content/themes/salient-child/archive.php:92 Stack trace: #0 /home/somatyler/somatyler.org/wp-includes/template-loader.php(74): include() #1 /home/somatyler/somatyler.org/wp-blog-header.php(19): require_once('/home/somatyler...') #2 /home/somatyler/somatyler.org/index.php(17): require('/home/somatyler...') #3 {main} thrown in /home/somatyler/somatyler.org/wp-content/themes/salient-child/archive.php on line 92