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.

 

 

On Tough Questions of the Faith

We are just wrapping up a very challenging series: Tough Questions of Christianity. I will this series beyond most series that we have preached on has stretched me and challenged my understanding of the gospel in many ways. I hope we don’t back down from tough questions of our faith but rather we look at challenging issues with a spirit of prayer and grace. Here are a few things I hope we take away from this time:

  1. Tough issues do arise, but God’s love towards you never changes.

This is where people can really have a hard time, “My life has begun spinning out of control, does God still love me?” The simple answer to that question is yes, God still does. God doesn’t always approve of all our actions or words, but God’s love for us never fails and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:31-39).

The sad truth is we do forget this amazing love at times during our Christian walk, but that is one of the amazing functions and purposes of the church and other Christians to remind us that God’s love towards us never changes.

2. Inexplicable tragedies do not rattle God or question His authority.

When we’re faced with difficult loss, hurt, or tragedy we often doubt the goodness and grace of God. My encouragement is for you to always remember the words of John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome the world.” It is natural to question God when we look at a world where it seems that things are spinning out of control. God can handle our doubts, fears, and angers, but God doesn’t want you to stay there. One of the blessings God does bring is that he will use fear, doubt, and hurt and bring you closer to Himself.

God will always allow free will but always will remain in complete control. This is one of the most amazing areas of Christian theology, and we serve a God who really is this powerful. God will always sit on the throne even when he gives human beings complete and total freedom.

3. The best step-show you care.

Many people often ask how to live out their faith, what to do, what to say, and really want to do good in this world. My encouragement is to always show people: both those doing well and those in pain that you care about them. Seek to listen. Look to engage. Offer a hug when appropriate, but above all is be there and show you care. God is still moving, speaking, and bringing people to know Him, and He is using His church to accomplish all of this in many powerful ways.

 

Advent Devotional no. 2

Advent Devotional:

Scripture: Micah 5:2, ““But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[b] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”

Bethlehem? Why there? Of all the great cities of the ancient world to have the Son of God be born, why Bethlehem? It could have been Rome? Jerusalem? Cairo? But Bethlehem? Out of this humble town the Savior of the world was born for that we as people are forever grateful. God chose to come in humility and live into servant hood. Nothing about Christ’s birth was glamorous: laid in a manger, born in a stable, no beds even for his mother or father, and the only people to see him that night were lowly shepherds. Jesus came to be the Savior to all people: the rich, the poor, the educated, the ignorant, the talented, and the trainwrecks all people are saved and loved by Jesus. This Advent season let’s remember that those irritate, annoy, drive us nuts, and those who we view aren’t worth our time are people who are loved, cherished, and saved by and only by Jesus Christ. What a great gift that is!

Questions:

1) Settling differences can be difficult, who are we at odds with in our life? How can we make peace with them?

2) Our prayer lives need to be filled with more humility, how can we reorient our lives to be more faithful in praying for others and for the will of God?

Advent Devotional No. 1

Part of our hope during this Advent season is to have our hearts changed to reflect more and more of who Jesus is. We will post Advent devotionals throughout the season, and we encourage you to also look for other Advent resources as well.

Advent Devotionals for 2016

Day Two:

Isaiah 40:1-5

“40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord[a]; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.[b] 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Thoughts:

We are living in a time where many people in our neighborhoods, at our schools, at our jobs, and in many other places need hope. They need hope to know that their pain isn’t the final word, their efforts aren’t in vain, and they can experience joy in this life. Well, we as followers of Jesus Christ know where our true hope can be found: in our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what Advent is all about: it serves as a reminder to us that we are called to prepare the way of the Lord for family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and even enemies. Let’s be intentional about this Advent season.

Questions to consider:

1) Comfort is something many are seeking this Christmas season, how can you be a source of comfort to those hurting around you? What do you need comforted from?

2) What difference does Jesus make in our lives?

Action: During these action steps we hope that you don’t seek to do these in vain, but rather take great time and consideration for these. Please take the time to tell a spouse, child, friend, family member, or neighbor about something or someone that give you hope. Please be detailed and let that person know why they give you hope. Stay tuned for more.

on Heaven

As the dust continues to settle from last week’s presidential election one overarching truth has been the dominant force in the societal narratives these days: our country is extremely divided. We have the left digging their heels in, and the right not wanting to budge either. Words such as anxious, fearful, and nervous can be used to describe many of us during these days, even those who are in Jesus Christ are nervous! I’ve been experiencing many emotions, but I will say as I write this post I’m at peace. In looking at Heaven I’m reminded that God is in control and are future is set. One big teaching moment during these days for us as the church to look at: have we put WAY too much hope in flawed human beings we call politicians and not enough hope in Jesus Christ?

1) Let Heaven blow up your expectations about what good is.

I love what Louie Giglio says, “We don’t think a lot about Heaven, because we often equate Heaven to our best day here on earth.” I’m writing to remind you, Heaven will be better. Heaven will always be better than our earthly existence. There are many reasons to always choose Heaven and always fix our eyes on Heaven, but one reason trumps them all. In Revelation 5:12 John writes that the angels were singing, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Heaven is better because of Jesus. There is nothing that this Earth can bring our way that will be better than being in the presence of Jesus for all eternity.

Heaven will always be better. We fear often on earth because we fear this is as good as it will get. I want to remind you that Jesus has prepared a place for us, and He will come to take us to that place. (John 14:1-6) One thing I can bank on, Jesus always keeps His promises.

2) Stop trying to work your way into Heaven.

Many of us hold true to the promise of scripture: we are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) We quote this scripture, talk about it, preach on it, but there are  many of us don’t live this truth. We either fall in one of two camps: 1) we try to work our salvation out tirelessly or 2) we don’t take the promise of our salvation and the need to produce spiritual fruit seriously enough.

So, where does that leave us? Well, if you’re like me I’m an action guy, and here is what I encourage you to do: 1) Know your salvation without a shadow of a doubt. Many of us have this amorphous time when we prayed a prayer when we were young, and we think we’re saved. No, no, no know the time and the day when Jesus entered your heart and reconciled you to Him. If you don’t know the day or time, make today a HUGE priority to recommit your life and ask Christ to save you today.

2) Understand who you are in Jesus Christ. What I mean in saying this is you are beloved. You don’t have to prove yourself, Jesus will always point to the Cross to remind you, you are beloved. Live as a beloved Son or Daughter. Pray out of love not obligation. Worship freely and joyfully because you want to not because you live in fear. Allow the Holy Spirit to shift your motivation, and you will be amazed at the results.

3) Join and Go. There are many steps in your Christian journey, this in no way is an exhaustive list. But, I encourage join a church and a Christian education opportunity that allow you to explore, ask questions, and grow. When opportunities arise, especially those that correspond with your gifts, be confident and go and serve. Look to dialogue with Christian leaders and people you respect, and they will begin to show you wonderful ways and opportunities where you can live out your faith.

 

 

 

 

On Stewardship

We come to a somewhat awkward topic: stewardship. Before we dive in more fully let me be clear what we mean by stewardship: the proper and efficient way to manage resources for the maximum amount of good. In getting back to the previous sentence, stewardship feels awkward when we treat it as a sales pitch. In stewardship we aren’t trying to sell you anything, rather we are calling the church and the people of God to live into their identity as followers and friends of Jesus Christ. Here are a few things to consider as many of us not just at Second Ave. look at stewardship.

  1. Don’t get caught in the comfort illusion.

When I say this, I want you to know that you should hold on to enough to feed, clothe, and house your family. But, if we look around at much of our possessions, much of our resources I’m fairly certain the truth will emerge: we have WAY more than we need. The average American household has three television sets and over 300,000 belongings. We are blessed to be able to acquire many material possessions.

However, if we look at Jesus’ examples in the gospels people of means aren’t spoken of very positively. Jesus tells His followers that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 19:24) He tells the rich young ruler he can follow if he sells his possessions and gives money to the poor (Mark 10:17). Do wealth and Christianity mix? Well, the answer is yes and no. Many wealthy people are very devoted, generous Christians, meanwhile wealth can also become an idol or temptation that ensnares many people.

Many people desire to live comfortable lives, but always know that living comfortably doesn’t always lead a happy, fulfilled life. God is calling all of us to be faithful and generous let us look to listen always to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

2. Generous People Break Status Quos

Part of our frustration in our country right now is many of us don’t like the status quo. We want things to change, situations to improve, and people’s lives to become better. However, the sad reality is that won’t happen if we keep acting normally. To go alongside that generosity is sadly not the norm in our world today. My charge to you as you read this is to do something. Not everything. The world’s problems are too big for one person or church to do everything, but everyone can do something. Pray as a family to do something big and look to serve together. Our country is ready to change the status quo for the better and it will happen not through any government mandate but through generous individuals, families, and churches. Be blessed and always look to give what the spirit leads you to give.

 

 

 

On Politics

Many of us have politics on our minds during these days. We are walking in fear and trepidation as we fully don’t know what will happen on November 8th or in what direction our country we go. Here are a few reminders for the days and weeks ahead:

  1. Look to rise above all the noise.

We live in a culture that is filled with shouting, name calling, and belittling people all the time. We are called to be a people who live in the world but are not part of it. Jesus’ followers are called to be salt and light, and in so doing we will push back the darkness, the noise, and the chaos our world seems to be in at the moment.

Learn to respect all. Pray for those who hurt you with their words, and we need to be a people who know the truth of scripture, live the truth in love, and look to bring others to follow Jesus no matter what.

2. God won’t be surprised by the results.

I promise God won’t be surprised when CNN declares the winner. We live in a time and a day when many Christians love to talk about faith but many don’t want their faith tested or stretched. This will be a time that will test and stretch your faith especially if you did not vote for the winning candidate. Please know that God is not surprised, and God is calling the church to continually stand up and be the church during these times.

3. Don’t get distracted in the minutia.

The entire goal of our existence is to bring others to a life saving relationship with Jesus Christ and to enjoy Jesus forever. Please don’t get bogged down in the political name calling and noise of this generation. Politics are important. It is important to know the candidates and to vote your values, but please know that God raises up leaders both elected and not to accomplish His will all the time. He’s been doing it since Creation, and I know He will continue to do it until the Kingdom fully comes.