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Second Chances

This Sunday we are so blessed to be able to conclude our series on discipleship here at Second Ave. Church. During this journey we’ve looked at Peter, John, Phillip, Nathanael, Judas, and we’ll conclude by looking at Paul. This series has shown us many things, both good and bad for us as God’s children to incorporate into our discipleship journey. Here are a few things to highlight in this post.

  1. God uses ordinary people. With the exception of the Apostle Paul, most of the disciples were not chosen on merit, but rather on faithfulness. Granted all the disciples of Jesus grew, were equipped, and well prepared to live out the Great Commission, when they were called they were normal, ordinary tradesmen. Wherever your station in life is at the moment rest assured God can and will use you!
  2. Faithfulness should be our measuring tool, not success. It is really hard to be an enthusiastic, committed disciple of Jesus Christ when you’re not seeing fruits from your labor. Look at your efforts through the lens of faithfulness. Are you showing up? Are you faithfully praying for your church, its leadership, and mission? Are you a committed spouse? Parent? Son or Daughter? Are you showing support and devotion to your family? Are you faithfully giving financially where you can? Faithfully giving your time when you can? If you answered yes to all or a few of those questions know that God is using you and will continue to use your faithfulness to expand and make the Kingdom more apparent.
  3. Go in grace! In the Gospels Jesus sends His disciples out on numerous occasions. We as the people of God are always called to go and change the world. You’re not called to look like the world, embrace the world’s values, think like the world thinks, or be found in the world. God has called you to go and change the world. Now, is the time to go:)

Truth, Obedience, and Discipleship

Friends, we need more people in our world today who love truth. Their is a dearth of people who believe in absolute truth as taught in the word of God and tradition of our church, and that is a problem. However, the good news is God is still on the throne, God is not shaken by any of this, and in the end as Billy Graham says so well, “I’ve read the last page of the book, and we win.” But, in the meantime as we desire to live into who we are as people who live to establish the Kingdom of God through the work of the Holy Spirit, what happens in the present? The good news is discipleship looks different for different people, but it all has the same end: a renewed love and passion to know and live for Jesus Christ.

  1. Learn to be obedient in small things. One of the most compelling stories in the gospels is Jesus telling the parable of the talents. In this text, three men are given a certain amount of talents. One man was given five, another two, and the last man was given just one talent. The understanding from the master who gave each man a certain amount of talents was that they would be obedient and acquire more talents through the talents they had been given. The first man doubles his talents and now has ten. The second does the same and now has four talents. The third man, tells the master that since he was afraid of him, he hides his talent in the ground.

Unfortunately, the master is furious with the third man over his laziness and disobedience, so he throws him out of his house into the darkness. The narrative ends on a chilling note, but it does have quite a bit we can learn from it: 1) You are blessed with gifts. You have a certain gift or for quite a few of us gifts that you are blessed with and can use to bring God glory. Use your gift. Use your gift to bless others, and you will be amazed at what God can do. 2) Obedience comes in using your God given gift. Obedience is often seen a negative light where someone is yelling at someone to obey them and listen. Obedience is positive. It is freeing. Obedience is best understood as using your spiritual gift (s) and living as your were created to be. Use your gift! 3) Encourage others to use their gifts as well. The third man in this text was afraid and uncertain, wouldn’t it have been amazing if he had good people that came along side and encouraged him to use his talent? I know this story is a parable, but it symbolizes a lot of real life scenarios, we need good people to encourage others to use their gifts for the glory of God.

 

Encourage someone today. Believe in someone today. Pray for someone today.

Living Into the Resurrection

Friends, we are children of the Resurrection. We worship on Sunday because that was the day that Jesus rose from the dead. But, what does living into the resurrection look like in the hear and now? Here are a few things to consider:

  1. For Resurrection to occur something has to die. That’s one of the toughest things for us to wrap our minds around, many times we as human beings want the joy of resurrection without having to have anything die. My encouragement is to die to yourself, die to your desires, die to your wants, die to your hopes, and dreams. But, allow God to resurrect His dreams, allow God to fill your heart with what His heart cares about. Resurrection only works when something dies.
  2. Vocalize progress. Living into the resurrection is a process. Many times people take big steps, but for a lot of people the process is much slower. But celebrate and vocalize progress. Celebrate when someone has a spiritual victory. Rejoice with them in victory, learn to offer ways to improve, but be very intentional about celebrating success.
  3. Finally, be present with people. Be with them in good times or bad. Pray with them. Love them. Encourage them. Life is meant to be together with people. Be with them.

The Journey to Joy

In our journey through the book of Ruth this month, one of the most common themes is this journey from grief, hurt, confusion, loss, towards joy. Essentially, how do we as human beings move towards the blessing and promise? That is an easy question to ask, but it can be a particularly hard question to understand. I hope the ideas below help to bring some clarity.

  1. Understand your situation. One of the most common mistakes we make is to not fully understand why we’re in the tough situation we find ourselves in currently. Wrestle with and try to understand where you may be at fault, and begin to understand the smaller decisions that led to the current moment of trouble. The hurt and pain you are experiencing more than likely you had some part to play in it. Now, I’m not saying that you have to beat yourself up, but it is important to understand how you arrived at the moment you’re experiencing. So, understand, learn, and grow from the situation.
  2. In Ruth the answer is present, but it is not one that many like to hear: Ruth works and Ruth takes a big risk. Ruth shows that move forward in life many times prayer and hard work are the answer. I love what renowned author and preacher Charles Spurgeon says, “Work as though it all depended on you, but pray as it all depended on God.” Let’s learn how to work hard at work, in our relationships, in our home, and in our love and admiration for God. Ruth in chapter 3 takes a big risk by lying at Boaz’s feet. A foreign woman was not supposed to do this. But, Ruth takes a risk, trusts Naomi’s idea, and in the end is redeemed and now has a home and a family. Don’t get me wrong, risks do have inherit risks and can fail. But, we serve a God who desires His children to risk and step out in faith. So, don’t be afraid. Trust in the promise of God, and know that God will provide.
  3. Ruth is patient. Boaz drops quite a bombshell on her in chapter 3: someone else is closer to redeem you than I. Ruth returns to Naomi in the end of chapter 3, and she is instructed quite simply to be patient as Boaz will complete it all today. Friends in your journey be patient. God will show up and lead you to where you need to go.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

I do apologize I’m not a super prolific blog writer. I hope to become much better:) Friends, we have been on an amazing journey through the book of Ruth these past two weeks and will finish up here in the next two weeks. If you haven’t been on this journey with us you are invited to come and experience what God is doing through this powerful story of pain, loss, drama, heartbreak, and ultimately redemption and faithfulness. God is good. God is faithful. The story of Ruth reminds us of that in powerful ways. Here are a few things to remember.

  1. Pain and loss are part of life’s journey. Ruth and Naomi in this powerful story endure heartbreak, pain, loss, and death in ways that many of us have experienced. The picture here is a reminder that even in the midst of loss and grief God is with you. You don’t have feel alone or abandoned. Now, in the moment of trial it can seem easy to forget how much and how great God loves you. But, we’re reminded in this story how God provides and how God takes tough situations and brings about great blessing for those who remain faithful. Wherever you find yourself at you’ll need to trust God, and let your trust be great and unconditional. Trust God to help heal your past, make sense of your present, and guide your future. Regardless of your situation, trust God and know that He is for you.
  2. People are many times what God uses to answer prayers. I challenge you to really wrestle with this notion: what are the instruments or the tools that God uses to answer prayers? Now, I believe in a powerful, big God who can use and do anything He pleases. However, God chooses many times to use people to answer prayers. When we pray for healing God sends people in our lives to encourage, comfort, and bless us. When we pray for wisdom God has a way of bringing people to us who often have great and wise things to say. One of the primary ways God answers prayers is through people. As chapter 2 unfolds I encourage you to see that Boaz is a redeemer, family member, but also an answer to Naomi and Ruth’s prayer. Boaz is generous, kind, and willing to give Ruth a chance. This week I challenge you to be generous, be kind, and give someone a chance. You’ll be amazed at how God can open doors.

Living into the Resurrection

Friends, what a joy it was yesterday to walk with the women to the tomb and find it out that it was in fact empty! Christ has Risen! Those three words are words of love, words of hope, and words of life. But, I don’t want us to hear those words and think they bare no meaning in the present. Those aren’t just good words of the past or a hope for the future. Rather the words, He has Risen, are for us now. Here are a few ways that we as God’s people can live faithfully into the resurrection.

  1.  Being kind and being grateful

One of the main characteristics people should always say of Christians is they are kind and grateful people. Sadly, that is not always the case. Living into the Resurrection helps us see life as God only always intended it to be. We as humans are loved and precious. When we live life through the lens of the resurrection we see ourselves as God intended and that changes everything and allows us to be kind even when we find it difficult. Living into the Resurrection allows us to look at life and be incredibly grateful, because life makes more sense through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Let’s strive as God’s people to always hold and challenge each other to live into the Resurrection, so we can be a church and the people of God that the world can see are kind and grateful.

2) Brings peace in the midst of death.

Death is one of the most scary, uncertain times for people. The sad reality is we all have been affected by the death of a loved one. Without the Resurrection of Jesus, the reality is there is not much comfort or hope. But, since Christ has been raised from the dead, and that is one of the most verified facts in human history, we have the hope, peace, and comfort knowing that are loved ones who have died have been raised to be with Christ. What happened to Jesus that first Easter Sunday will in fact happen to us as well! When we live into the Resurrection it will bring peace in the midst of death.

 

Friends, we live in a world that is looking for hope, looking for understanding, and looking for something to believe in, let’s be a people that live into the Resurrection both now and forevermore.

All Saints Day

We are coming to a Sunday in our church calendar that is filled with emotion, memory, and wonder. On Sunday November 5th we are going to be celebrating a day where we remember all the amazing men and women who passed away from last All Saint’s Day.

We will remember their witness, their love, their generosity, and their testimony for Jesus Christ on this side of eternity. All Saint’s Day is a day of celebration and a remembrance that the faith of many in the past has set our church up for the present and will prepare our church for the future.

So get ready to celebrate, to remember, and to know that it is because of the Saints of that our faith is strong. Use the day to learn, to remember, and to share stories. Please contact the church office to ensure that we have your loved one’s name recorded on the official list.

Living Fearless

Over the past few weeks our messages have taken us to the book of Daniel where we’ve asked a tough question, “In the midst of trying, chaotic times can we as followers of Jesus live fearlessly? If so what does that look like?” To be honest, the only person who did it perfectly was Jesus Christ, Himself, but lots of good examples Biblical and throughout history have come close. Here are just a few take away points from our journey:

  1. God has to have first place in your life.

One common theme throughout scripture is that God doesn’t like to be in second place. God doesn’t just deserve first place, in fact He is deserves every place and every moment of our being. Daniel’s story is a great example of how we can make sure that God always retains first place in our lives.

Daniel turns down the King’s choice wine and meats in Daniel 1 to stay pure to the dietary restrictions he knew following Yahweh. Daniel steps out in faith to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, giving God the glory and sparing many, many lives of the wise men of the Kingdom. His mind and heart are focused on lifting up Yahweh and making Him great above all earthly pleasures, comforts, or even people thinking well of him. Daniel is a great example of how to give God first place in your life.

2. A second reality is to be the same person at all times.

This can be very difficult. I struggle with being the same and genuine quite a bit, because there are people who push my buttons, people who say one thing and do another, and people who we flat out disagree with, I’m inclined to believe that authenticity and genuineness is a struggle for most people, not all people, but most. Daniel even in the midst of great political unrest, Nebuchadnezzar running into the fields and becoming somewhat wild and deranged, he never loses sight of who he is and never stops being real and authentic in the story.

Pastor Levi Lusko had a great word to remind us how to stay the same person at all times, he says that when we know who Jesus is, our identity becomes very apparent. Meaning if we know Jesus is the great shepherd, there’s no doubt we are in fact a sheep. Daniel knew Yahweh was a God of love and grace and his protector. Daniel knew God could be trusted and that shaped all of his time in Babylon. Know who God is and who you are will become apparent.

3. Don’t be afraid to jump in the water.

My daughter is a three year old diva. She is three probably going on fourteen. But, she does have certain things she is afraid of. We are working with her at being able to jump into the pool without being afraid. We’ve always told her that Mommy or Daddy will catch her, but she’s afraid of having her head under water, afraid she won’t be caught, and the list can go on. We as humans are great at making lists, but after awhile she jumped, she was caught, and she loved it!

This life is an amazing adventure, don’t be afraid to jump into something unknown, because God will catch you and be with you through it all.

 

on The Holy Spirit

Our recent sermon series has been very rewarding on the Holy Spirit. It has been very fulfilling and rewarding to dive into a study where we examine, observe, and learn a lot about the Holy Spirit and what He is doing in our day and time. Here are a few things for us to take away and continue for us to be talking about:

  1. The Holy Spirit is still working.

This has been one of the overarching themes in our entire series. The Holy Spirit is still working in our day and time. When Christ the spirit of truth would come (John 14:16), Christ never said that the Spirit was coming temporarily rather that this Spirit would come until the Second Coming. Friends, the Holy Spirit is still working and moving in our world in big ways and small ways.

Relationships being restored, addicts being pulled out of addiction, marriages being healed, angry hearts being filled with compassion, and forgiveness being offered are just a few examples of the Holy Spirit’s continual work in our lives. We won’t always understand, like, or even agree with the Holy Spirit does but we do know that everything He does is good and gives Christ the glory. Be in awe and amazed that Christ is still working.

2. The Holy Spirit helps our hearts become more like Jesus.

One of the biggest goals of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives is for us to become more and more like Jesus every day. The Holy Spirit is one of the biggest factors in Christians moving further and further on their path of discipleship. Moving in our discipleship journey often involves using our spiritual gifts, bearing spiritual fruit, and being able to use the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to determine what is Biblical and theologically sound.

This is a process that the Holy Spirit looks to finish in all of our lives. Some of us move very slowly and others mature much faster. The key is not the rate of spiritual maturity, but the fact that we are maturing more and more all the time. The Holy Spirit is excellent at helping people mature as disciples of Jesus Christ, so trust in His ability to help you become more and more like Jesus as you bear spiritual fruit.

3. The Holy Spirit will never fully be understood but can be trusted.

A proper dose of fear is appropriate when viewing the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person who is powerful, mighty, and can be far greater than our wildest hopes and dreams. His power is infinite, but I firmly believe His love is greater. If there are questions you have in regards to the Holy Spirit that’s okay. Fully being able to understand the Holy Spirit would put Him down on our level as a human being, and human beings aren’t worthy of our worship only God is. You can trust the Holy Spirit. He loves you, wants to use your gifts and skills in mighty ways, and will continue to move and work in our fallen, broken world.

Heroes of the Faith

Church, we have a brand new series coming out starting this Sunday. It is only a two week series, but I will tell you the series more than likely will return in the future. We are looking at heroes of our Christian faith. Now, I will say it is impossible to choose everyone, because our faith has had some giants come before us. However, who we have chosen are two people who can teach us, inspire us, and remind of our task in 2017: to pass our faith on to the next generation. Here are a few things to remember as we begin our time.

  1. Faith is an art not a science.

It is true that there is only way to receive salvation, and it is only through the saving blood of Jesus Christ. However, when we begin to live our faith out it will look drastically different for different people, because we all have different gifts. Not everyone is called to be a pastor or a missionary, but we all are called to be committed. We all are called to zealously pursue a loving, intimate relationship with Jesus every day of the week, not just Sunday morning.

Bloom where you’re planted, do what you’re gifted at and what brings you joy, and above all serve the Lord with gladness and thanksgiving. God will use people who are obedient to do some amazing things in this life. We all have different gifts, and when we use them toward the glory of God the Kingdom expands on earth.

2. We are part of an amazing story that will continue.

God’s salvation story predates us, and it will continue after us. We live in an amazing story, and God is just looking for us to play a small part in a narrative that brings Him the honor and the glory. Be blessed in also knowing that you and I know the end of the story. God wins. There is no better peace than that my friends. But, for a lot of us we still wait, and we know the end is not here yet.

I just want to remind you of the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Hold fast friends, the end is coming, but just not yet. In the meantime let’s make this one of the best chapters ever in God’s salvation story.

Everyday Living

One of the most challenging areas in our spirituality is to live for Jesus everyday, all the time. It’s easy to be on fire and passionate about your faith when you are on a mission trip, a retreat, during a major holiday, or a big personal event in your life such as a wedding and even a funeral. But, during the mundane ordinary moments of our lives, does our faith suffer in the ordinary times? For many of us even myself, I think that answer is a resounding yes! The question remains how do we prepare and not succumb to the spiritual lull of the ordinary times? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Don’t See the Resurrection as just an Easter Event.

The enemy desires to strip the power and importance from the Resurrection. Nothing would make the enemy happier than to silence our mouths about the Resurrection on 51 Sundays out of the year. The Resurrection is any every day celebration and every day reality. When we wake up in the morning we can arise with hope, when our heart continues to beat day in and day out we can thank Jesus for the life we’ve been blessed with, and when our heart stops beating one day we can have the assurance and hope that we will be physically resurrected as well.

The Resurrection changes everything. It is the Christian’s message, hope, source of comfort, source, of power, and moment of victory. Don’t just put it on one Sunday out of the entire year.

2. Serve and Grow in your Faith in Areas of Life you Enjoy

God is calling us to a life of fulfillment and purpose. In so doing God is looking to use people in areas where they are already gifted to help build the Kingdom. If you enjoy opening your home to others, look to begin a Bible study, or have someone over for dinner who doesn’t receive many invitations. If you enjoy fishing look to begin to make friendships and relationships with those who fish at a similar lake, God will use these friendships to open up conversations about spirituality. If you enjoy to teach, look to sign-up to teach or help a Sunday school class. Church, the list is endless, you will find much enjoyment and satisfaction in your life when you use what you’re gifted in as a ministry for the Kingdom.

3. This One is Self Explanatory: Find Effective Meaningful Worship

God is powerful enough to be worshiped in many ways. Look to worship God and connect with Him all the time. We often lose our way when we only seek to worship God for one hour on Sunday morning. Look for ways that feel authentic and meaningful to you to worship God, and you will be blessed and strengthened in the ordinary moments of life.

on Palm Sunday

Church, this Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the most important week in our church calendar and our Christian existence. I encourage you on Sunday to come with eyes anew to hear the story, feel the excitement, but also be aware of what is brewing behind the scenes of this celebrated entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem. Get ready to wave your palm branches and shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

There are a few takeaways I hope we as a church can embrace and take with us throughout Holy Week.

  1. A spirit of humility.

I think it is very easy to look at how quickly things went south for Jesus in many ways and for us to have a spirit of pride. Thoughts such as, “We would never do that,” “We wouldn’t have fled,” and so on are very easy for us to think. We have to remember at that time the Resurrection hadn’t occurred yet, and during our time we have the blessed assurance that Christ has been raised for the dead. It is tough to say how any of us would act in a hypothetical situation, but let’s make sure we act humbly and gracefully during Holy Week.

2. Celebrate that Christ has come.

What great news! What an amazing God we serve who makes Himself known to us and wants us to know Him. Palm Sunday is the beginning of something incredible! Christ continues to come into our lives when we expect Him and in many cases when we do not.

3. Do not be silent.

When you receive great news you have to share it. It’s human nature, if you win the lottery you more than likely will call all of your family and friends, probably right after you find out how much the IRS cut will be. Tell the good news, post it on social media, invite your family and friends to church, and keep talking about what God has done and what God is doing.

Bearing Fruit

Friends, it is supposed to be a time to start planting and begin thinking of spring and renewed life. However, as my temperature gauge measures that it is 11 degrees outside those thoughts may need to take a back seat for another week or so. Whenever the temperature is warm enough and we begin planting and waiting for our flowers to form buds and our fruits and veggies to bear fruit we will consider it a major success to have a garden that is full of life and color. I personally would consider my garden/plants a huge failure if they failed to grow, did not produce fruit or flowers, and essentially did not move into becoming a full, mature plant.

My encouragement is for us to see our spiritual growth the same way. We are called not to remain small and immature, but we are called and instructed to bear fruit, fruit that will last. Here is how that process often looks like.

1) We don’t grow alone or without help.

Plants need water, sunlight, often times fertilizer, and to have weeds removed to grow properly. Human beings don’t grow alone or without help. There is a current movement where many people are claiming to be Christian without needing to go to church. Personally, I have some serious concerns about because everything I’ve witnessed and seen has borne evidence to the reality that we grow in very tangible ways when we are regularly connected to other believers.

It is true that individual meditation and solitude do bear spiritual fruit, but I firmly believe they need to be maintained in the proper balance. We need each other’s prayers, encouragement, wisdom, and accountability to help us in our faith journey.

2) Weed removal is crucial to having beautiful, mature plants.

Paul reminds the church of Galatia in Galatians that the flesh desires that which is contrary to the things of the spirit. We live in a world filled with both ideas, deeds, words, and actions that will build our spirit up and also tear it down. Maturity comes when we are able to know the difference. John Wesley used his Quadrilateral to help know the difference between things of the flesh and things of the Spirit. The Quadrilateral included looking at scripture, reason, tradition, and experience to see if the idea or action went against was from the flesh or the spirit. It is important to note that Wesley always included the Word of God at the center and as the foundation of the Quadrilateral.

This helped Wesley remove harmful ideas/thoughts that dampened his Spirit, and it also helped him become a wise mature Christian.

3) You grow best in good soil.

Soil that is rocky, filled with chemicals, and things not genuine to it will not produce good plants for the most part. The same thing is true for people for the most part, when we have friends, co-workers, or even family members that don’t build us up in the Lord it can be tough to grow in your faith. My advice would be to find a church, small group, or even a mentor that will pray with you, answer questions, and help you to grow in your faith. It is never too late to begin or to continue to grow we need to never stop learning. You will be immensely blessed when you find good people to help you grow.

The Kingdom of God

We have begun a new journey. Our overarching journey has always been to know Jesus more and be found falling in love with Him each and every day. However, our purpose is to have our theology stretched during this time in such a powerful way that we can continually become mature, courageous Christians. One big step toward that transformation is for us to live into and understand this doctrine of the Kingdom of God.

  1. The Kingdom of God’s first glimpses came in Jesus’ incarnation.

When we discuss and look at incarnational theology one of the phrases we don’t see is the Kingdom of God. We often look at the relationship between sin and God’s relationship with humanity. But, the conversation doesn’t often reflect on the first fruits of the Kingdom of God. We see the Kingdom as a future reality where God rules with a perfect peace, perfect love, and perfect grace and the first glimpses of that are Jesus’ earthly ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension.

“Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Is one of the most common phrases uttered from Jesus in all of the Gospels. It is a reminder and a call to a sense of urgency that something has shifted in the cultural paradigm. There’s a new reality, a new kingdom, a new covenant, and a new future destination and they all are centered in Jesus Christ.

2. The Location of the Kingdom is quite impossible to pin down.

One of the big debates in scholarly circles is where will the Kingdom be located. Since earth has been affected by sin, some scholars believe the old Heavens and old Earth will pass away and a new location will be created. Other such as NT Wright believe that the Kingdom of God will come down from Heaven and the location will be on earth. Both ideas have merit and credibility, the thing to know and remember is that the future location is not important. What is important is do you know the ruler of the Kingdom?

Loving your Neighbor

We have had a great sermon series looking at Jesus’ charge to His followers, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” One of the key phrases occurs after the charge, “For all the law and the prophets hang on these commandments.” During our journey we’ve looked at who we are as a church and who we are as a people. As we look at ourselves we determined there are aspects and qualities to our character that we particularly admire and those that cause us much shame.

In our search and discovery of who we are as a people, we discovered that we are a seasonal people. The writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us in chapter three that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun. These might not be words you want to hear, but you are in your current season of life for a reason. God’s reasons and methods are always perfect but not always understood. Where you’re at during this season, I encourage you to find perspective, find ministry opportunities, and always look to continue your sanctification. Because, no matter if life is going well or the bottom has fallen out we can continue to be faithful in spiritual disciplines, faithful in prayer, faithful in worship attendance, faithful in fellowship, and faithful in giving. Time is a great blessing and amazing gift, my encouragement is for us never to waste our days and moments on this earth. You can be a good, loving neighbor regardless of the season you are currently living.

I am someone who doesn’t like to get my hands messy. I don’t really enjoy BBQ ribs or chicken wings if I have to eat them with my hands. My preference is to use my fork and knife and cut them rather than pick them up with my hands. Messy and Brian Sandell is not a good combination. It is very interesting that many of us treat our relationships the exact same way. When our relationships are clean, on the surface, and baggage free most of us are fine. When pain and hurt and loss creep into our relationships, plague our neighbors, and begin to dominate the conversation we begin to feel uncomfortable and become distant. Unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations are not places where we like to find ourselves. Jesus as our example always looked to embrace and love people no matter how uncomfortable the situation. He healed lepers, ate with tax collectors, blessed and loved people whose lives were a mess, and he even forgave the people who crucified Him. What an example to follow! Here are a few steps we can take:

  1. Realize and know God saves people, not us. We are called to be faithful not saviors.
  2. Recognize that failure and loss are events not identities. God does not create failures, but because sin is real failure is an event.
  3. Look to pray faithfully every day, and look to get involved in one ministry opportunity. Your character and heart will be changed if you commit to this 100%!
  4. You will fail and fall short but look to persevere and never stop. God equips and goes with you.