Hope

Over the next 3 weeks I will be giving you some scripture, to reflect on some beautiful things that arrive with Jesus. This week we looked at Hope. When Jesus is born, it’s not just a baby being born in a stable but rather it is the moment when the door swings wide open to HOPE. Here’s the thing though. This isn’t just your standard run of the mill, “Geez I really hope this happens for me” wishful thinking kind of Hope. This is the, “God promised it; God will make it happen so I will expect it with confidence” kind of Hope. When Jesus is born true Hope explodes into reality for anyone throughout the history of mankind. This Hope is ever present for us, it is life transforming and it is ETERNAL!

 

This week, my invitation is for you to, on a daily basis, take some time to reflect on the amazing and wonderful Hope God has given us in Jesus Christ! Below is a list of scriptures and exercises to do every day to help you really dive into this concept of Hope!

 

Monday Day #1: He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin

Listen to this song by Chris Tomlin that proclaims this great and glorious hope we have in Jesus!

Really try to give this song a listen every day!

        

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2NzLqpod0I&list=RDJ2NzLqpod0I

 

Tuesday Day #2: An excerpt from the Jesus storybook Bible

Back at the beginning of time- all had been lost when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, but even back then God made His promises to us. This excerpt is taken from a beautifully illustrated children’s Bible. Take some time to read this passage and consider the hope its words…

 

Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!” And he would. One day, God himself would come.

THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE

 

Wednesday Day #3: Isaiah 9:5-7

Take some time today to read and reflect on this scripture written below.

For unto me a child is born, unto me a son is given;
   and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called

   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
   on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness
  from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

Can you think of several hopeful statements in this passage?

 

Thursday Day #4: Words of reflection

Today we are going to reflect on a poem by Emily Dickinson, and then afterwards, I invite you to consider words that describe the hope God has given you and write them down on a notecard for you to tape or put somewhere you can see it. They don’t have to be anything super deep or philosophical. It could be a simple word or phrase. But it needs to make sense to you.

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all….

~Emily Dickinson

 

Friday Day #5: John 1:9-14

Let’s reflect upon another great scripture passage filled with Hope.

 

Saturday Day #6: Colossians 1:26-27

With arrival of Jesus a new Hope has exploded into reality. God has come to us, to dwell in our hearts. Look at this amazing hope in this passage! What do you notice??

 

This is a brief list of verse and exercises for you this week as you reflect on advent! May the Lord bless you my brothers and sisters!

 

Pastor Ryan



Mary’s Song: A Mother’s Song of Hope and Joy

Hello SNC brothers and sisters and welcome to this week’s 2nd look.
 
I truly hope you had a wonderful holiday with friends and loved ones.
I want to invite you to consider this scripture this week:

“He has shown thee, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee. But to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God” Micah 6:8

Think about the three things Micah lists here:

  • To do justly.
  • To love mercy.
  • To walk humbly with God.

Take some time this week to consider what these three things are. Obviously one of our big points on Sunday was about walking in humility with God. What do these things mean to you; and how does it intersect with your life?

Have a great week everyone!

Pastor Ryan



Pastor Ryan’s Top 15 Christian Books And Authors

Hi friends!

If you are looking for something great to read- something to challenge, inspire, encourage, or help you, or if you’ve been wondering what books have inspired the thoughts that you hear from Sunday to Sunday -then take a look at these. Each of the books I’ve listed here has shown up in my thinking and preaching; No I didn’t come up with this stuff on my own! I would highly recommend for any and all of you to check them out. They have all been a huge blessing to me and I truly believe they’d be the same for any of you. With each book is a link that will take you directly to Amazon where you can buy it. Some of them, I’d imagine, you can get on audiobook as well. I listed them by title in alphabetical order.

Check them out.
 
 
1) Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

A Spectacular book about being in the wondrous grace of God

2) The Bible

This is the most obvious choice of all!

3) Desiring God by John Piper

A book that woke me up to the reality that God is someone I’m meant to know and enjoy. Deeply challenged me as a young man.

4) Experiencing God by Richard Blackaby

Helped me understand how to see God moving in and around me and then to join Him! Try the workbook!

5) Healing Care; Healing Prayer by Terry Wardle

Super impactful book for people who are looking to help others get healing and freedom. This book is one I try to read over and over again

6) Hiding From Love by John Townsend

This is perhaps one of the top three most impactful books to my life. The opening illustration; to me; was worth the buying the book alone. This book has powerfully blessed me.

7) Letters From a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd

In my early twenties I deeply wrestled with my faith. I never saw myself as a deep philosophical thinker- and reading the really deep books was difficult for me. This book was so readable and yet addressed major questions that I often wrestled with. I loved this book. I don’t currently have any because I keep giving them away.
 

8) Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen

A short little book about being God’s beloved. Awesome!
 

9) Men’s Secret Wars by Patrick Means

This has been one of the most important books that has helped me understand the fight with addiction and getting free!
 

10) Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

Huge book… just huge!
 
 
Dr. Fee really challenged me to see the Holy Spirit in a powerful new way!
 

12) Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach

I came across this book in college and years later it still profoundly impacts my life. It really opens our eyes to the importance on living life WITH God!
 

13) The Search for Significance By Robert McGee

You hear me talk about knowing the gospel? Yea- It’s this book’s fault! A wonderful book about finding our identity in Christ.
 

14) Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

I highly suggest you take the test and read this book! Everybody!!!! I don’t suggest you buy it used. Then you cannot take the test.
 

15) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge

Very important book for me, on manhood.



My Own Prison

2nd look- 4.18.16
Hi everybody and welcome to the 2nd look!

I wanted to start this 2nd look by showing you a recent news editorial I found to be quite inspiring. It’s a story of forgiveness.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/on-the-road-innocent-michigan-man-ends-up-working-alongside-crooked-cop-that-locked-him/

As you consider this story and our sermon this past weekend, I’d like to add some quick practical things to keep in mind when it comes to forgiveness.

  • Forgiveness is a process… It may take time- sometimes you will need to forgive over and over again. That is normal. The biggest thing is when our hearts want to resume the resentment (and who knows why this happens but sometimes it takes a while to let things go), we need to be reminded we cancelled the debt this person owes us- we have wiped the slate clean- they are forgiven… It can take awhile for some things, but this process is worth it in the long run.
  • Following God’s example is truly helpful… When wondering how to forgive- God’s example we looked at in yesterday’s sermon is truly helpful. Spend time in Ephesians 2:1-10 this week to be reminded of this. Here’s a quick recap of God’s approach for forgiveness:
  • God embraces the truth of what has happened. God doesn’t ignore that he’s been sinned against, or pretend it never happened. This isn’t forgiveness. He embraces the truth.
  • He has a larger vision. God has a larger vision. Sometimes we need to have a larger vision than just what has happened. Maybe we need to see the person who hurt us the way God sees them- or see His vision for all of us; or maybe see that the hurt that has happened fits within a grander purpose that will ultimately result in God’s glory- or maybe we can hold hope that in the end; this painful thing will be long forgotten- that we can let go of it. Our ability to forgive can be hugely impacted by our ability to see a larger vision.
  • He Cancels the Debt. God cancels the debt. He doesn’t expect justice- and is not plotting revenge. He has cancelled the debt. This is really a beautiful picture of what forgiveness really is. It’s not us trying to pretend like nothing ever happened, or having to be best friends with someone who hurt us. That can happen sometimes- but this is not the truest aim of forgiveness- the true aim is to cancel the debt.
  • He wishes and seeks the best for the person who has hurt Him. This probably challenges me more than anything else. It’s easy sometimes for me to cancel the debt- but for me to pray and hope for God’s will to be done in their lives; that they would see God glorified in and through them. This is sometimes tough; but it’s undeniable that this is how God forgives!

 

 

I invite you to go to the Lord with this question this week:

Is there someone you need to forgive? A family member? Co-worker? Friend? Yourself?

 

Have a wonderful week everybody.

May God grant you his peace that surpasses all understanding!

Pastor Ryan



Your Fruits Depend On Your Roots

Hello SNC Friends!

For this week’s second look I’d like to remind you of our sermons major statement.

 

“Your Fruits Depend On Your Roots”

 

This week I want to invite you to ask these questions with me. Take at least 5 minutes a day and simply sit with these questions. There’s no need to force things or come up with some huge epiphany – simply sit in the quiet with God – ask these questions and see what comes up. Let me warn you though – these are some very powerful questions that can be quite life altering. Here they are:

 

Lord – what’s going on between us?

 

Is there anything in my life that pulls me from you – that puts a wall up between us?

 

Is there something you’re trying to teach me?

 

Is there something that hinders me from hearing you and being closer to you?

 

May God bless you guys- have a great week!

 

Pastor Ryan

 

 



Rhythms of Grace

Hello SNC friends and family and welcome to this week’s second look. For this week I’d like to direct you to click here listen to this beautiful song titled “Rhythms of Grace” by Hillsong United. 

 

These are the lyrics of the song. Take some time – sit down and consider the lyrics of this song. Let it be a prayer for you this week.

 

Have a wonderful Week everybody!

 

Rhythms of Grace

 

My life is a life for your cause

My will laid aside for your call

And reserved all the depth of my heart

Only for You

 

I’m caught in the rhythms of grace

They overcome all of my ways

We align in each step that we take

To live for Your glory

 

There’s none beside You, God

There’s none beside You, God

 

You’re there in dark of the night

While holding the sun and its light

Through the triumph and trials alike

There’s no one beside You

 

Your voice calls the stars by their name

You whisper them all to their place

To testify of Your wonder and praise

Both now and forever

 

There’s none beside You, God

There’s none beside You, God

I live my life to shine Your light

‘Cause there is none beside You, God, oh

 

No eye has seen, no ear has heard

The depths of Your love, Lord

No mind can fathom the love You deserve

How great You are



How The Holy Spirit Leads

Hello SNC Friends!

For this week’s second look I’d like to start by directing you to a Bible verse.

 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

 

This past Sunday we talked about three invitations the Holy Spirit gives us. He gives us an Invitation To Truth; and Invitation To Know And Live In The Grace Of God; and an Invitation To Something That Brings Glory To Jesus. Each of these invitations are not “Overnight Results” kind of things. They are like journeys. God will often invite us into a truth journey and it can take some time – but are we willing to follow where he leads us- even if it is painful? Sometimes – to learn grace – we need God to do some healing work freeing up the places in our hearts where we cannot receive God’s grace. That can take time – and can sometimes be painful. And Sometimes – the invitation to something that brings glory to Jesus can take years to develop. You may be doing something in ten years that is way out of what you expected you would be because God has been slowly moving you in that direction! Sometimes that journey of trusting God and choosing to do the things that honor Jesus are scary – or seem undesirable – and yet – this is God’s invitation. Do we take it?

We look for these invitations – these fingerprints of God but in the end – it all comes down to whether we truly believe this verse above. I’d like to invite you this week to read this verse with me every day. Take five minutes and consider it’s words – let it roll around in your mind. You might be amazed what this verse may say to you over this week.
May God bless you guys – have a great week!

 

Pastor Ryan



What Is God Doing In Your Life?

Hello Everyone

And Welcome to this week’s 2nd   LOOK

 

“What is God doing in my life?”

 

This is a question we as Christians need to get used to asking. What is He doing? What is He showing me? Where is He leading me?

 

These are all forms of that same initial question. As we want to walk in Step with the Spirit – this seems to be one of the most important questions we can ask. How can we walk in Step with Him if we don’t see what He’s doing in our lives – or what He is trying to show us.

 

This week, I’d like to invite you to take some time to begin asking this question. Or ask one of the other three questions. Take some time everyday to pray and ask the Lord to show you how He is at work- and then to maybe take a good look at what is going on to see if you can see His fingerprints on your life.

 

It’s always pretty exciting and awe inspiring when you can see God at work in you.

 

Have a wonderful week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



Who Is The Holy Spirit?

Hello SNC friends and family,

Last week we looked at 4 simple but major truths about who the Holy Spirit is.

This week- as you continue to consider the person and the presence of the Holy Spirit- I’d like to leave you the quote I shared from RA Torrey. Take some time to read this everyday this week. Let your mind just marinate in this short article. This quote has continually ministered to me over the years. Have a great week everybody!

 

“Before one can correctly understand the work of the Holy Spirit, he must first know the Spirit himself. A frequent source of error and fanaticism about the work of the Holy Spirit is the attempt to study and understand His work without first of all coming to know Him as a Person.

            It is of the highest importance from the standpoint of worship that we decide whether the Holy Spirit is a Divine Person, worthy to receive our adoration, our faith, our love, and our entire surrender to Himself, or whether it is simply an influence emanating from God or a power or an illumination that God imparts to us. If the Holy Spirit is a person and a Divine Person, and we do not know Him as such, then we are robbing a divine Being of the worship and the faith and the love and the surrender to Himself which are His due…..

It is also of the highest importance from the practical standpoint that we decide whether the holy Spirit is merely some mysterious and wonderful power that we in our weakness and ignorance are somehow to get a hold of and use, or whether the holy Spirit is a real Person, infinitely holy, infinitely wise, infinitely mighty and infinitely tender who is to get a hold of and use us. The former conception is utterly heathenish, not essentially different from the thought of the African fetich worshipper who has his god whom he uses. The latter conception is sublime and Christian. If we think of the Holy Spirit as so many do as merely a power or influence, our constant thought will be, “How can I get more of the Holy Spirit,” but if we think of him in the biblical way as a Divine Person, our thought will rather be, “How can the Holy Spirit have more of me?” The conception of the Holy Spirit as a divine influencer or power that we are somehow to get hold of and use, leads to self exaltation and self sufficiency. One who so thinks of the holy Spirit and who at the same time imagines that he has received the Holy Spirit will almost inevitably be full of spiritual pride and strut about as if he belonged to some superior order of Christians. One frequently hears such persons say: ‘I am a Holy Ghost man’, or ‘ I am a holy Ghost woman.’ But if we once grasp the thought that the holy Spirit is a Divine Person of infinite majesty, glory and holiness and power, who in marvelous condescension has come into our hearts to make his abode there and take possession of our lives and make use of them, it will put us in the dust and keep us in the dust. I can think of no thought more humbling or overwhelming than the thought that a person of Divine majesty and glory dwells in my heart and is ready to use even me.

It is of highest importance from the standpoint of experience that we know the holy Spirit as a person……



Happy New Year!

Hello Everybody.

This week’s 2nd look is blissfully and blessedly short. I’d like to invite you to take some time to reflect on How God has been good to you this year, and how you might want to respond to Him. I want to invite you to think about something you might want to try this year that would help you grow closer to God. What is that thing? How will you know when you’ve done this thing? Who can help you do this thing?

Think about this thing, pray about it and ask God to reveal this to you. Remember we do this thing – not to make God love us more – He already could not love us more than He does – but God does want to see us grow and thrive as Christians. What is one way we can grow?

Have a great week!

Pastor Ryan