Important Church Announcement

This morning, we had to make a very difficult announcement.  I know some were not able to be there, and I wanted to pass along what I said so you could know the situation:
We have talked about over these last few months that our giving has been down, and we are not making ends meet.  We made some heavy cuts to our budget to offset the difference in the hope that we can continue to meet.  Unfortunately, our giving has continued to decrease and we are not making our new budget demands.  With the potential for high rent prices coming up here, and our inability to find a place to meet that would be in our price range, along with large annual expenses coming up soon for the church, the management team has made the difficult decision to close the church.
 
I know this is not what any of us wants to hear, and there’s really no easy way to say it, and nothing I can say now would lessen the feelings you have in this moment.  However, I want to focus on the positive.  While this is challenging news, today is actually the 8th anniversary of the church.  This congregation has been in existence for 8 years, reaching out, loving others, serving this community, and changing lives.  I know since I came here three years ago, we have had seven baptisms.  Seven changed lives forever, and I know there were many more before that. And that’s not even counting the lives we’ve touched in our families and among friends who have lives elsewhere, but have been impacted by our actions.
 
So as for what will happen going forward, we will continue to meet until June 24th, which will be our final service.  The reason we’re ending earlier than our lease is the large annual expense of our insurance which runs out on June 30th.  On that day, we will have our service, and then we will head over to the pavilion by the park right here and have a potluck meal together.
 
We want to bless you all in whatever decision you make going forward.  If you want to stay until the end, or if you want to begin looking for your next church now, we encourage you to do what you are being led to do.  I know that some families may want to look for a church together, and so please stay in touch with each other and when someone finds something they like, they can let the rest know.
 
As for Amy and I, we have begun our search for a new church as well, and we are waiting to see where God will lead us going forward.  At this point, we don’t know if God wants us to stay in the area or has something else in mind.  Our plan is to wait on Him and we know He is faithful and will show us the way soon.  We want to thank you all for the opportunity to serve here at New Life, and the blessing you have been in our lives. 
 
I know this is hard, and this is a sad day.  And while we will need to close our doors, it means God is opening new ones for each and every one of us.  God will use what we have learned here, what we have done here, and what we have shared here to go forward and be a blessing wherever we may go.
If you have any questions and comments, please feel free to reach out to me or any member of our management team. I know this is a challenging announcement, and it will take some time to process.  Take care and God bless.
Tim

Monday Morning Preacher: Lead by Serving

 

This whole section we have been going over the last two week have been under the umbrella of the opening verse to the passage:

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:21

So as we talk about the relationships between husbands and wives, children and parents, or slaves and their masters (which would be employee and employer in our context), we must always look back to this verse as our guide to understanding what Paul is saying.

Yes, it’s hard to say “Wives, submit to your husbands.”  But it is not said in a way where a husband dominates a wife, or makes her into a servant that does everything for Him.  In fact, Paul challenges the husband to essentially submit to his wife.  To put her needs above his own.  To love her as he would love himself.  To lay down his life for her, if necessary, out of his love.  And in both cases, it is the choice both the husband and wife makes because of their love.  They can choose not to, but their relationship will lack the joy they were so desperately wanting when they said “I do.”

It’s hard to say to kids sometimes to “Obey your parents.”  But for the children, doing what your parents want will get them the freedom they so desire.  And for parents, you must love them as children as Christ loves us as children.  There are times when we need to show grace.  There are times when we need to be strict, but we must make sure that in all things, we speak the truth about Jesus in love to them, so they grow up knowing and loving the Lord.

It’s hard to say to an employee “Obey your boss.”  But even if they pile on the work, and give you some of their responsibilities when they shouldn’t, unless they ask you to do something against God’s law, do it with a joyful heart.  Work hard as if you’re working for Jesus.  And for the bosses out there, don’t threaten them to work harder.  The best bosses are the ones who love and encourage.  Don’t rule the company out of fear, but out of respect. How God treats us is how we should treat each other.

And so this is really a call for servant leadership.  Obey who you need to obey and submit to those you should submit to.  But if you are “over’ someone, show them the same love that Christ showed you.  And what was that?

Philippians 2:5-8: In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

Jesus understood this completely.  He has authority over us but was under authority of His Father.  He was willing to do what His Father asked, while showing us love, compassion, and mercy, all things we didn’t deserve.  And so, we should do the same for others.  Show them love, compassion, and mercy.  Place them above ourselves.  Submit to one another just as Christ submitted himself for us, and gave His life so that we can have a relationship with God again.

Monday Morning Preacher – Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:3

 

When you’re safe from something, does it bother you anymore?

  • When a storm has a history of producing hail or tornadoes passes by your home, and everything settles down, do you still care about it?
  • When you’re expectantly waiting for a call from the doctors, and he or she finally lets you know that the condition you have is not cancer, do you continue worry about it?
  • When you have been working for weeks to speak in front of a large crowd of people, and you finish the speech to a round of applause, are the nerves still there?

The answer is probably no.  Once you know you’re safe and the danger has passed, all the nervous energy disappears with it.  And it makes sense because it’s one less thing on your mind, and your focus can turn to something else.

This mindset is a major problem when it comes to our faith.  Why?  Because when we come to saving faith in Jesus, when we are washed in baptism and go from death to life and we are saved from eternal separation from our Creator, we forget about what it’s like to be on the other side.  We forget the fear and the dread of dying apart from God and spending eternity without Him.  Our focus shifts to the eternal life we have in front of us, and not the old life we left behind.

As we discussed on Sunday, what those who are apart from God believe in is simply a guess.  Philosophers, who are considered the experts when it comes to logic and reasoning, can only speak of life after death by beginning their statement with “Well, I think…” or “I assume” or “It will probably be like this…”  There is no certainty because their claims cannot be proven.  There is no test to see what is on the other side to verify if they speak the truth.  So what atheists and those who choose reason are relying on are a human being’s best guess.  And if it’s just a guess, are you willing to gamble your soul and eternity on a guess?  It would be like walking up to a roulette wheel and placing all your money on any random number, hoping for the best.

When it comes to the Bible, it is coming from someone who isn’t guessing about eternity.  It is coming from the one who has always existed.  John 1:1-3 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”    And it also told us in our passage this week, “I said to myself, ‘God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.’” Through these verses we know that Jesus, the one who speaks to us though His Word, knows what’s on the other side because He has always been with God, and that there will be a day of judgement when we must answer for our actions here on earth.

And there are so many people out there, including the ones we love and care about, who are just rejecting this truth.  But just because they choose not to believe in a day of judgment, doesn’t mean it will not come.  Just because any one of us rejects an idea, doesn’t make it any less true, if it is, in fact, truth.

So knowing this, my question is what are you doing about it?  Honestly, what is our purpose, our mission as Christians? Being disciples making disciples.  We act like disciples of Christ so that we can win the lost and baptize them to become disciples of Christ.  It’s a pretty simple and straightforward expectation that Jesus had for all who called Him Lord.

But notice I said “expectation” and not “command.”  Jesus expected us, because of our love for Him and our desire based on our love for Him to go out into the world and to win it for Christ.  Not because He told us to go, but because to follow Him means we would.  Without hesitation.  Without fear.  Without excuses.  Without anything getting in our way.

Judgment is coming for us all and are we going to put our faith in the truth of the Word of God or the guesses of human beings?  And are we going to let those we love and care about believe in these cleverly devised assumptions, and be separated from God and us forever?  And if your answer to this question is no, it’s time to rise up and get moving.  Nothing should ever stand in your way between you and that person God has placed on your heart.  Like a storm, the danger may have passed, but it is still in the path of others, and what are we doing to make sure it leaves them unscathed as well?

Always in the Present

Is it crazy to think that we only experience a half dimension of time? Once a moment has gone by, it can never be recaptured. Yes, we can watch a video or instant replay of a specific moment in time, but when it passes, it passes forever.

And does this realization helps you to see the power and supremacy of his words to Moses in Exodus 3 where God says, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.'”

What God is saying here is that He is always in the present. Yahweh, the Hebrew word used here is the first person present tense of the verb “to be.” This is why the verse sounds odd, but it tells us a lot about the God we place our trust.

God is always in the present. We may only have a half dimensional view of time, but what if God’s what if God’s view of time is 3D? What if he can be present in every situation? What if He can experience every single moment in history, through every single person and animal of creation, at one blink of an eye? It’s just more amazing than we could every comprehend.

But do you know what this does? It gives us hope. God is not reacting to the world around us. God is not reacting to an instant replay of events like an official of the NFL rules if the last play was a legitimate catch. God is present with us in every moment of every second of every day of our lives, and the lives of those around us.

We are never alone. We are never left to struggle through life without anyone supporting us. God is the great I AM. And He is great because He will walk beside us and never let us leave His sight. Just take a moment today and thank God that He has never abandoned us in our greatest joys and difficult struggles. He always has and will be I AM.

Wrong Narrative

This past week, I went to Nexus ThinkNext workshop for church planters.  While not technically a “church planter” in the traditional sense (since I wasn’t around when New Life was officially started), our church is five years old and still in the small, sapling stage looking to grow into a deep rooted tree in this community.

But during this workshop, we had Dr. James Bryan Smith, a professor at Friends University in Wichita, KS come and speak on spiritual formation.  And he said something very profound that I never thought of before.  In terms of everything in life, but especially in our faith, we live within a narrative and our narrative has a profound effect on every choice, every thought, and every aspect of our lives.

Let me give you as an example.  Being a sports guy, I always have to drag it back in this direction.  I grew up a New England Patriots fan and still continue to be one to this day.  I know, big shocker.  But growing up and watching the rise of Tom Brady from pick 199 of the draft to, in my opinion, the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), I have a narrative that tells me he is expected to succeed and to do well every season.  Enter Peyton Manning.  Granted the expectations of Manning were great throughout his career and he capped it all off with a Super Bowl win this past week.  Now, Manning beat Brady this year, who I argue is the best.  But that goes against my narrative.  So what do I tend to do?  I dismiss it because it is against the norm:

  • Well, Brady has four Super Bowl rings to Manning’s two.
  • Brady has a better win percentage overall in his career and against Manning (11-7)
  • Brady has a better postseason resume.

And I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.  I have a narrative that I believe in my head, and I am so wrapped up in it, when confronted with a counterpoint, I dismiss it as being an abnormality.

But let’s take this thought and bring it to the realm of our faith and with God.  What’s your narrative when it comes to God?  When you think about God and what He does and how He acts, do you have the right thoughts?  Let me ask it this way.  When you sin, do you see God as this Being in the sky who is looking down on you in disgust, ready to punish you and wipe you out for your offense against Him?  Or how about if you do good, do you see God as a means to an end and God will just bless you immensely for doing what He has asked?  And after listening to those questions and really thinking about how and why we act, do you realize that both of these narratives about God is wrong?

Our God is not a God who is mean and is just looking for an excuse to punish us, and He is also not a God who blesses us strictly on our obedience to Him.  If we see God in this way, if we see God as punishing us for failure and rewarding us for success, every decision we make will be fueled out of fear.  We’re not Christians because we love Him, we’re Christians because we fear being rejected by Him.  And with this point of view, when we hear the truth about God, and who He truly is, can you see why many Christians would reject it and push it off as some type of aberration, like I’ve been doing all week about Peyton Manning?

It’s time for us to have a correct view about God.  It’s time for us to stop believing the lies that fit into incorrect narratives we may have been taught in churches our whole lives.  It’s time for us to start breaking down these walls and see God for who He really is.  So let’s share some truth, and instead of dismissing it, meditate on these words and see if this goes against your current view of God:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us.

Does this sound like a God who would love you one minute and hate you the next?  Does this sound like a God who would base His love on your actions?  Or is this the God who loves you for being you because He was the one who fearfully and wonderfully formed you in your mother’s womb? (see Psalm 139:13-14)  If you truly meditate on these verses and the way God is just the epitome of true, self-sacrificial love, how does that change your view of Him?

It’s time for us to change our narrative about God.  It’s time for us to stop looking to Him in the wrong light.  And this is critical not only for our relationship with Him, but also how we describe God as we walk out the door each morning to make disciples.  If we don’t see Christ correctly, it will alter how we preach, teach, and share His gospel to the rest of the world.  So let’s take the time to learn and know the real God: the One that we find in the Bible, written by God Himself about Himself, and not through faulty human interpretations.

Defying the Obstacles

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.

 – Acts 14:19-20

If I was honest, I think I would usually skip over that last part of verse 20, not thinking much of it.  So he went to Derbe, the next town over, the day after being stoned.  Paul must be a tough guy. But when you honestly look deeper, you’d realize how much endurance Paul really had.

Many scholar disagree on where Derbe was actually located, but the best guess is that it was about 40 miles away to the east of Lystra.  That would be about a three day journey…for a healthy person.  Now imagine being Paul, still bleeding from the cuts covering his body.  Every single bone and joint aches from the bruises.  His nose is still displaced from the last rock they threw at him.  He’s struggling with every breath because some of the rocks broke ribs and are throbbing just below the surface.  And on this day, the very next day, he left and went t Derbe walking down the road while leaning on Barnabas.

But because of his faithfulness, “They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples…” (Acts 14:21a).  It was because he was willing to go, despite the difficulties, many people came to the Lord.  And when we continue, it says, “Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith…” (Acts 14:21b-22a).

Why is the return to these cities so significant?  First, this is where he just came from.  Where he was attacked, where he was beaten, where he was left for dead.  But that’s not all.  From Derbe, there would be a road that would lead right to Tarsus, his hometown.  A place where he could get away from it all and just take the necessary time to recover from these injuries.  And although he may have looked down the road, he turned around and walked in the opposite direction, back to where new disciples needed encouraging.

These disciples he turned and walked to needed to see him again.  The last thing they saw was his broken body walking away from the city.  They probably thought he would ever come back – whether he died from his injuries on his way to Derbe or that he was too scared to enter the city.  It was months later, but there stood Paul.  And as they looked at his beaten, disfigured face, the scars covering his face, arms and legs, and the blood still staining his clothing, he tells them to keep fighting for the faith they have claimed for their own.

And as we look at our life, our challenges, our struggles, how much fight do we have in us?  When we’re beaten, when we fail at fulfilling our mission in life, how do we respond?  Paul was the type of man that believed God was greater than every trial, every beating, every difficulty that came his way.  And he proved it through his actions, like what we see right here.

My question for us today is this:  Do we have that same mentality?  When God calls us to action, do we let anything get in our way to distract us, deter us, or scare us from action?  My hope and prayer is that we all become more like Paul, willing to fight every step of the way for the God who loves us so deeply.

The (Wrong) Force Awakens

Note:  I didn’t see the movie and I don’t have any spoilers to put here.  It’s sad that I have to put this here for people to be willing to read this…

I don’t want to start a fight or cause any problems here.  But with all the hype and anticipation, it’s something we need to talk about.  And many people might attack me for saying something because it seems like it’s sacred and speaking out against it would cause many people to become combative and hostile.  What I’m talking about is Star Wars.

Last night, while most people were rushing to get in line to get the perfect seats for the sold out first showings of the movie, I was in a meeting, and then sitting at home watching TV.  And while watching one of my favorite shows, The Big Bang Theory, one of the characters said something profound.  Wil Wheaton, a Star Trek character who plays himself in the show, said something to the effect of:  “Guys, it’s just a movie.  Whether it’s a huge disappointment or the most amazing movie ever.  At the end of the day, it’s still just a movie.”

But one of the more troubling things watching Facebook over the last few months is the intensity that this movie was coveted.  When tickets were on sale, many were celebrating and pumped that they got one of these tickets.  As a new trailer was released, people got more excited and talking about greater expectations of the movie.  And now was the day has some, how many posts are out there with people threatening “defriendation” for any spoilers about the movie?  And then how many posts afterwards about how amazing the movie was and how it changed their lives.

I get it.  Do I want to see the movie?  Yeah, I do.  I grew up watching all the movies and seeing them all.  I even joked with my wife about asking my brother in law when he comes next week to watch all six and then go see the new one.  But at the end of the day, the movie is not going to be life-altering.  It’s not going to change my outlook of the world.  It’s not going to change the course of my life forever.  It is…just a movie.

And so, in a time like this, in a season like this, I just think about what truly is important.  This is Christmas.  This is a time to stop and reflect about the birth of a Savior.  A birth of a King who truly did change the world forever.  And while many people waited years, even decades, for this episode to be made, the Jews waited hundreds even thousands of years for their Messiah to come.  And in reality, He was worth waiting for because the birth of this one child would change the course of human history forever.

And with this coming child and His future death and resurrection from the dead, He has saved us from our sins.  He has saved us from our brokenness.  He has saved us from our separation from God.  And that is something worth waiting for.

Micah 7:7 says, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

So I’m not writing this to ruin your fun, just for us to think and reflect.  It’s okay to get excited about things.  I get excited about things all the time.  It’s okay to wait in anticipation.  But are we obsessing over something that doesn’t deserve to be obsessed about?  And why do we as Christians show so much more excitement and energy for the coming of a movie, than to share our love for Christ with those we love and care about around us?  We can talk about a movie, but it won’t impact their lives (well, unless you’re one of those “evil” people who share spoilers).  But yet when it comes to sharing about Christ, the Savior who can change a life, and can change a person’s future trajectory for the future from hell to heaven…why do the majority of Christians seem less excited, or less willing to speak up? Is the wrong force awake within us?

So enjoy the movie.  Talk about how great it is.  But at the end of the day, it didn’t change your life or who you are.  Seeing it first or not seeing it first didn’t change your life or who you are.  It doesn’t have the power to do that.  I pray for this time of year, in this moment of anticipation is for all Christians to have the same passion for sharing Christ and fulfilling the mission God placed them on earth to do, as they do about sharing their thoughts and feelings about a movie.  I hope that force will awaken in all of us this Christmas.

Reflecting on Christmas

As we come up to a week before Christmas, it’s important for us to stop and reflect on the meaning of the season.  Between the parties, the ugly sweaters, the shopping, and the gift-giving, the meaning of the season can be lost between everything else that is taking our attention.

But instead of just going through the Christmas story, I want to focus on the importance of this day outside of the typical manger scene.  Jesus came into this world in the midst of darkness – a darkness that we have caused to fall on this earth.  The world God created was perfect, but because of sin caused by Adam and Eve, our perfect world is now broken.

The crazy part is that God had a plan to restore us before He even created us.  Think about that for a moment. We sinned against God, and He knew it was going to happen, and He created us anyway.  He knew that He wouldn’t be able to exist or have a relationship with broken people, but yet, He found another way and that way was His own Son.

The only way to break the bondage of sin was through death – a sacrifice.  Something pure that all the sin could be passed to and then executed so that the person offering the sacrifice could walk away pure.  But not matter how many times an animal was placed on that altar, there would always be a need for another, and another, because we just can’t stop ourselves from failing God and breaking the commands He gave us.

And so God thought of this plan.  A plan to send His Son to be the last sacrifice to end the need of sacrifices.  By having no sin of His own, He would be able to take the sins, all sins of past, present, and future, upon Himself and redeem the world forever.  But only if we make the choice to have a relationship with Him.

So all this happened because God placed it into motion before the world even began.  And all I can say is how much more love does God need to show us?  What more could He do?  We sinned.  We failed. We walk away.  And God reached out and said, “It’s okay.  I have a better way.  I know what to do.  I’m going to fix this.”

And so as we reflect on Christmas, we need to remember one thing:  None of this would have happened if Jesus wasn’t born.  There would be no salvation if there wasn’t first a birth.  There would be no salvation if there wasn’t first a manger.  There would be no salvation if God didn’t love us in such a deep, remarkable way.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8

God Has Fixed This

The New York Daily News today wrote an article entitled, “God Isn’t Fixing This” mocking political figures around the country who have called for prayers in the wake of another tragedy.  Now, I don’t care what side of the aisle you fall on politically.  I don’t care what side of the debate you fall on when it comes to gun control.  That’s not the point of me writing this.  I want to talk about the true cause of the events that have been happening in our country and around the world lately, and that’s called sin.

It is sin that causes people to do horrific things.  It is sin that caused a fractured relationship between us and God, and it is also sin that caused us to have a fractured relationship with one another.  So why do people go out and cause harm to others?  It’s because this sinful nature within us that will cause us to put all logical reason and morals aside to do something we think is right, or our purpose, or something that is better than God really wants from us.  Galatians 5:19-21 tells what how this sin is manifested in our lives: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Notice that everything on that list is negative.  Everything on that list would cover why senseless acts of violence happen.  This is what sin causes.  This is how sin destroys.  This is how sin causes events like the one we saw yesterday, or in Paris, or Sandy Hook, or Boston, or Columbine or 9/11, or anything other of the other countless events we could name.

So why turn to prayer?  Because we can’t fix sin.  We do not have the ability to overcome something that is more powerful than us.  So we pray to The One, the Only One, who has come to this earth and has defeated it.  And that is Jesus Christ.  He was able to come down from heaven, live a sinless life, be crucified for going against the status quo, and defeat sin once and for all through His resurrection from the dead.  Because he lived, even though we don’t deserve anything for rebelling against Him, we can now be restored if we just turn back to Him.  If we just accept what He has done for us.

If this world would just call out for Jesus, the true Jesus, sin can be eradicated.  But nothing we do, outside of that, will help our current state.  The truth is, if people are overwhelmed by their sin, they will find a way to do what they desire to do.  If they want to commit violence, no matter how many weapons we take away, they still have fists.  Sin is sin, and when we are controlled by it, it will continue to find an outlet.

So why do we pray?  Why do we call for prayer?  Because we need the One greater than us to come through in these difficult situations.  We pray for those who lost a love one to be with those who need to be comforted.  We pray for those who are hurt and may be fighting for life, that the doctors and medical staff can heal what has injured.  We pray for those who are scared and still in harm’s way, that they will be protected from these people who would want to do the unspeakable to them.  Finally, we pray that God will heal the hearts of the broken, to find those who are in this hopeless state and think that violence is the answer, and instead, show them Jesus and replace the sin in their lives with hope.

In my mind, saying, “God Isn’t Fixing This” is not the right thing to say in a moment like this.  Because God has fixed this.  God has solved the problem of sin and the root cause to all violence and acts of destruction that humans do.  The real problem is a matter of the heart.  Because we have free will and we are not mindless robots, God has given us the ability to choose.  And as long as choices exist, and sin exists, some people will choose evil.

But if the world would just turn to God, turn to Jesus, and admit that we have a sin problem, and lay it down at the foot of the cross, true transformation can happen.  People who are lost, hurting, or want to do harm and find hope, peace, and love.  So because there are still people in this world who do not know Him, I will continue praying.  I believe what God told us in 2 Chronicles 7:14 to be true: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

So I hope today, of all days, we will all turn to prayer because God has fixed this and God will continue to be with us.  Because there is power in prayer, and if we would all pray together in faith for God to show Himself, He will do something amazing in the midst of tragedy.

The Mission: Tempted

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”

This common saying is one that has been around for many years and even dates back to a Latin proverb from the 1500’s.  So what’s the meaning behind it?  You always look at your own circumstances and are never satisfied.  It’s the feeding of the belief that everyone else always has it better than you do.  And this is probably one of the best ways Satan can continually attack us – through tempting us to desire something better.

When we can’t be divided because we truly believe we of one mind, one heart, and one Spirit in our cause; when we can’t be distracted because we know what we should and shouldn’t be focused on; and when we can’t be diluted because we understand what God wants from us through His Word, the next course of action is to tempt us with something “better.”

This type of attack goes all the way back to the very beginning and Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve were given an amazing blessing we cannot fathom.  They lived in a world with perfect unity with God.  There was no death, no pain, no hurt, no sorrow, no guilt, no shame.  Just complete, perfect, amazing bliss.  And yet, Satan couldn’t let it stand.  He went to Eve, and challenged that perfect feeling by saying she could have more. And she had a decision to make.  Genesis tells us:

“’…God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:5-6)

Having a perfect life wasn’t good enough for Adam and Eve anymore.  They saw that they would be like God.  They saw that God was powerful and could do many things they can’t.  And so they were willing to eat because they felt that what God planned for them was not as good as what they could plan and desire for themselves.

And this is the trap we fall in.  When we sin, when we choose to follow a way other than the one God lays out before us, we choose “the other side.”  We choose the side that we think is better than our current predicament.  We are essentially looking at God and saying to Him, “You have your plans for me, but I don’t like them.  I think I can do better on my own, so I’m going to forge my own way.”  And at the end of the day, God was leading us in one direction to protect us, not to stifle our lives.

Our goal is to be content with where God has placed us.  Only then do we stop worrying about “keeping up with the Joneses” or the “grass on the other side” and start loving everything that God has blessed us with, whether it is good health, meeting all our needs, great friends and family or any of the other blessings along the way.  And even if things aren’t perfect, it doesn’t mean He’s not with us.  He is helping us every single step of the way.  Our goal is to make sure that we are not buying into the lies that are being laid down before us, but rather trusting that God knows all and knows the best path for us to take.  Only then, when we feel content, can we then go and make disciples as we have been charged to do.