God Is Holy

Hello everyone and welcome to November!

I saw a Christmas commercial the day after Halloween last week! The holidays will soon be upon us and I couldn’t be more excited!!! No particular reason there except that we get to celebrate Jesus’ birth!!! Yay! Ok, and now on with our 2nd look.

 

For the 2nd look for this week I’d like to take a quote from the book and ask you to consider it this week. What thoughts arise for you as you consider this statement from the book? Have a great week everyone!

 

Pastor Ryan

 

God is against my sin because He is for me. And if I am in sin, God stands against those desires, Macdonald is saying, because they cause my destruction. I would not have it any other way. To be sure, I am prone to excusing my sin or rationalizing my weaknesses, but God is not in that business. Though we are now reconciled through Christ, God is not indifferent to my sin. It hurts me and therefore it hurts God—because God loves me.

 

God does not make me feel bad, or shame me into better behavior. Nor does He use fear or guilt. God’s method of changes is the highest of all. God’s holy love burns the dross of sin out of our lives. It is God’s kindness that leads to genuine repentance (Romans 2:4). As Macdonald said: “love loves unto purity” (pg 123-124).

 



Jesus Sends the Disciples and Loses His Cousin, Mark 6:7-30

Hello and welcome to the 2nd Look.
For this week I want to share one of our main points from Sunday’s sermon:

 

If you are a follower of Jesus, you will be SENT!

 

Yea, I know Ryan.

 

No seriously. You. WILL. BE. SENT!

Seriously???

 

I think we hear a line like this and we nod our heads in approval but deep inside we don’t really buy it.

 

Well, maybe somebody else will be sent, but not me. And if I’m to be sent, then where, cause I’m not that go-over-the-seas type of guy…

 

We think maybe this being “sent” is for someone else. But the reality is, we will all be sent.

We need to ACCEPT AND EXPECT this!

We might be sent across the street to our neighbors, sent across town, or across the county. We may be sent across the country or the world. But the reality is this:

as followers of JESUS- WE WILL BE SENT!

 

Here are 2 verses I’m sharing with you to support this idea.

John 14:12

Luke 4:18

 

I invite you to read these verses and see if you can figure out how they support the main point I’m making that you will be sent.

 

And here’s the cool thing! When we are “sent”, and we actually go in obedience to God- these are the moments we see Him move and we get to work in partnership with Him, under his guidance and empowering. It is SO Cool; and this is what makes the Christian faith an adventure. When we don’t go with God as He invites us- we miss out on a huge joy of the Christian life.  

 

One last question for you to consider: “Lord; how might you be wanting to send me?”

 

Have a great week everyone!!!

 

Pastor Ryan



Jesus the Compassionate

Hi friends,

This week I want to invite you to spend some time looking at a teaching on compassion and what it means to be a neighbor. Last Sunday we talked about what Kingdom Compassion (KC) looks like. Jesus teaches on this in Luke 10:25-37.

Here’s a question to consider while you read this: What ways is this man showing compassion to his neighbor? What makes it so difficult to show compassion in this way?

Enjoy this teaching and may God grant you his wondrous peace this week!

Pastor Ryan



Jesus the Healer

Hi everyone,

I want to give you a simple question to consider this week:

“What do I really think about the kingdom of God?”

Some of us don’t think about it at all. Some of us are aware that the kingdom of God is here but we really don’t grasp what it is. Some of us believe the kingdom of God is powerfully present in us and yet we don’t really live as if this truth touches our lives.

“What do I really think about the kingdom of God?”

Take some time this week and simply let yourself sit with this question. Let it be a matter of prayer for you. The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:20: “for the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” It was clear to Paul that the kingdom was something much more than fuzzy, happy words; a very real, very present powerful thing.

“What do I really think about the kingdom of God?”

May God grant you peace this week as you wrestle with this question!

Pastor Ryan



Tithing As Worship

2nd Look 11.15.16

 

Hi folks,

Welcome to this week’s second look.

For this week I’d simply like to invite you to take time each day to read and reflect on 2 Corinthians 9:1-15. As the week progresses what seems to emerge to you from this passage? This passage has been a great comfort and encouragement to me this past week as I was preparing for Sunday’s sermon. I truly hope it will encourage you as well.

 

Have a great week everyone and may the peace of God be upon you all!

Pastor Ryan



Live In Truth

Hello everybody. Here’s a question I think would naturally arise from this past week’s sermon:

 “Ryan, you talk about how important it is for us to live in truth. How do I know I’m doing this?”

 Let me give you several things that are indicators you ARE living in truth…

 

1. Lying is not present.

This is obvious. Lying is the opposite of truth, and when we lie to God, ourselves, and others, we create a sort of momentum of untruth in our lives. It becomes easier to lie again. We become a tiny bit hardened to the fact that we have invited untruth in our lives. Now, the natural question is: Yea I get that Ryan, but what about those moments like when your wife asks you – hey honey do you like this dress? Obviously, this is a tricky situation. I would suggest you opt for truth even in situations like this – but you don’t need to give them a full out assault. You could say something like: “Honey to be honest, I don’t really like that dress on you…. And you know, it’s uncomfortable for me to be here shopping with you and you ask me these questions.” You could always just say: “I don’t want to go into this conversation” and then run away!  But the reality is – if you don’t like the dress and you lie about it – then she may buy the dress and you will have to see her wearing it over and over again. Lying is usually something we do to protect ourselves. We tell ourselves we are protecting the other person – but deep down that is actually a rare occurrence. We are protecting ourselves… In the end, it usually bites us. Living in truth is a healthy place to be. It may be awkward sometimes – and certainly we need to speak the truth lovingly,  but in the end, lying rarely ever helps..  

 

2. Growing to cling more and more to the truth of our identity in Christ.

We live in truth, when we make an effort to learn and remind ourselves about our identity in Christ. Do you know your identity in Him? Do you know how God sees you? Do you know who He says you are to Him? This is extremely important and can be very freeing for us. A great book on this issue is: “The Search For Significance” by Robert McGee. The more we can be reminded of our true identity in Christ, the more freedom we begin to experience in life. This is some of the most powerful truth you can know.  Seriously. It’s life changing stuff!

 

3. I know and am able to acknowledge the truth about me.

One of the most damaging things to us is our inability to know and acknowledge truth about ourselves. Here are some powerful areas of truth we need to know and acknowledge

  • Our feelings… so often we don’t have a good sense of what we are feeling in life. We are tired and we don’t know it. We are angry, lashing out at others and not able to see it. We are weak, unwilling to admit it. We lack emotional awareness and it can create havoc. One way to combat this is to take some time at the end of your day, and sit down and think back over your day. What things did you feel during the day? What was going on when you feel these things. How do you feel now? You can also stop at any moment and simply take stock of your feelings. This develops emotional awareness and can help you in the long run.
  • Thoughts And Beliefs: For many of us we are led by our thoughts and beliefs. The things we truly believe will lead us. They are like a pair of sunglasses through which we view the world. Everything is colored by them. We often need to learn why we do the things we do. Why did I react the way I did to that situation? It often has largely to do with some kind of belief system we carry within ourselves. Let me give you an example: the next time you get angry, take a moment and ask yourself: “What am I truly angry about right now? Can I describe what is making me angry in a short succinct sentence? What belief is driving this anger?” It’s not always easy but you can go deeper and deeper with this and discover some powerful reasons why you live the way you do? Why do you feel the pressure you do? Why are you a work-a-holic? Why are you addicted? There are deep roots and getting to the truth of these things can have powerful consequences! 

4. Others know more and more of the truth of me. 

As humans our most natural tendency is to protect ourselves and stay hidden from others. This was the first thing we see Adam and Eve doing after they fell in the garden. They hid. We’ve been hiding ever since the garden. But this is not a movement of truth. Each of us needs a handful of people who know what’s really going on with us. They know our weaknesses, or strengths, our failings and accomplishments. They know how we truly feel and what we truly believe. They know our dreams and our fears. We don’t need a large group like this but we need a few folks. The more people know the truth about us – the more we can find deeper healing. The challenge is- for many of us as Christians, we worship together on Sundays; but in many ways we are alone. We struggle in our marriages but nobody really knows. We struggle with pain, sadness, anger, addiction and nobody is there to love and help us through it. We need this in our lives.

 

So as you think of these four indicators of living in truth, please remember: God loves you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have this down. God is going to keep leading you towards these things. He has not given up. The question is: “Are we ready and willing for him to develop these things in our life?” I guarantee you: it will change your life.

 

Have a great week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



Dual Reach August 2014



God, I Just Don’t Understand

“God, I really like some things about you but if I was honest, there are some things I see here that really don’t make sense.”

I have to be honest, this prayer has been mine on and off during my journey with God. I have especially struggled with some of the things I see God doing in the Old Testament. I’m not sure if any of these things have caused me to doubt God’s existence because I trust that He has a greater reason and that just because He doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. While this issue hasn’t caused me to struggle in my belief – it has caused me to struggle in my trust of God – in my faith. It has caused me to wrestle with the goodness of God and that has been quite disillusioning at times.

A few years ago when I was working at Biola, I set up a lunch appointment between one of my students who was an atheist and two Biola philosophy professors. I even got to tag along and watch as these two brilliant men gently sought to have an open and constructive dialogue with this young man. They sat down over lunch and this young man began to ask questions. He was very well read with some of the new atheist literature and you could tell he was very bright. I already knew this – I had met with him several times. Now in retrospect – from the perspective of an outside observer – it seemed to me that the professors handled the young man’s questions although it was reported to me later that the young man was bragging to his friends that he had stumped the philosophy profs. It didn’t look that way to me at all – however one could fairly accuse me of seeing what I wanted to see in this.

During the luncheon – the young man began to address evil and God’s goodness. They began to really and deeply wrestle with the philosophical questions. At one point though they really challenged the young man and asked him: “Joe (not his real name) – how does the fact that evil exists – or that God seems to do evil things in the Old testament – really disprove His existence? Or rather – does it just prove to us that you don’t like or understand the way He does things?  

This was a very powerful question for me; and it felt like a huge moment in the conversation. It seemed to me that Joe didn’t really have a compelling answer to this question. Since that luncheon that question has often stuck with me. I had a friend who heard an atheist speaker accuse God of being wasteful proclaiming that humanoids have existed on this planet for up to 150,000 years before we have records of them being fully realized humans. So what did God do with all the humanoids? The speaker accuses God of being incredibly wasteful in His plan – unless there was no God at all. But this is a big jump that one could make but it’s definitely not ironclad. If there were humanoids; (Which we still haven’t really found fossils for); then God would have a reason for how and why He dealt with them the way He did. How does this prove He doesn’t exist – but rather the speaker didn’t like the way it seems God does things? Unfortunately for my friend – this article opened the door for him to begin deeply questioning His belief in God and ultimately led him to abandon his trust in Jesus. When he shared this argument with me I was reminded of the two philosophy professors debating that brilliant young student in the Biola Burger Pit.

When we look at the questions leveled at God’s goodness; like we did last Sunday – this question is of vital importance. How does the fact that God doesn’t seem to make sense here – really disprove His existence – more than prove that you don’t like or understand the way He has done things?

In addition to this question has been recent scholarship – some of what I shared with you – that has been extremely helpful to fill in some of the blanks in this discussion and paint certain things in a different light. This is what has been so exciting for me – because as an inquisitive and skeptical man – I have found that the fact there are answers to these questions is something that frankly: feels good, like lifting a weight off my shoulders.  It also amazes me – deepens my worship and trust of God.

I’d like to direct you as I close this 2nd look to several resources. If you enjoyed last week’s sermon and want to go deeper – here are some links I’d like to invite you to check out. The scholar I’d like to direct you to is Paul Copan. This guy is a hero to me. Below are links to his website and a couple of his books.  There are other scholars out there but for now – I’d like to direct you to Paul because he has done a great deal addressing the questions that we brought up and discussed last Sunday.

http://www.paulcopan.com/articles/

http://www.amazon.com/God-Moral-Monster-Making-Testament/dp/0801072751/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392771995&sr=1-1&keywords=paul+copan

http://www.amazon.com/When-God-Goes-Starbucks-Apologetics/dp/080106743X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1392772021&sr=1-3&keywords=paul+copan

Have a wonderful week everybody!

Pastor Ryan



God Goes Before Us!

When I got home on Sunday, I began to kick myself for missing an illustration within the sermon. I was telling this to my wife and she says: “2nd look honey – just put it there.” She’s so smart!

So here it is.

You may remember from the sermon that I tried to build a case that like the Israelites – we have God going before us, and that our task is to follow.  I also pointed us to the fact that when God makes His calling upon us: the big life callings; and the small everyday decision kinds of callings – He is with us and goes before us.

Because I have come out of a background of addiction; this is often something close to my mind, but did you know there is a Scripture that talks about God going before us in relation to temptation? Here it is:

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

 

This verse has been hugely powerful to me through the years. What does it say? Every man will be tempted; every one of us. It’s not a question of IF but a question of WHEN. For me as a recovering addict, I would look at this verse and say – “ok so this is natural to be tempted. It’s normal, it’s human and yet God calls me not to go down this road. So do I battle this temptation alone?” Look at the next part of the verse:

 

“But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

 

God will provide a way out.  He has gone ahead to open the door for us. Soon my battle with addiction took on a new emphasis. It wasn’t just – how do I say no to my temptation – it was now – where’s the exit. Oh Lord give me the strength to choose this way out that you have provided, over the destructive addictive behavior I desperately want to choose!

 

Even in this verse we see a picture of God going with us and before us. I truly hope that you are reminded just How great our God is this week. He has an intention for you, and I truly believe He goes ahead of you to see this intention become true. Like I said at the end of the sermon: “We often wonder if God will show up – but the reality is: He’s already there – will we show up?!?”

 

May God bless you this week

Pastor Ryan



2nd Look – Thinking Like Jesus

Hi everyone-
Welcome to 2nd look.  This last week we talked about thinking like Jesus; how we are meant to think more and more the way He does.  You may have noticed, this is a very intentional process.  We don’t really stumble upon it.  Certainly the Holy Spirit does a great deal of work in us to get us ready for this process of Christlike thinking; and then to help us throughout.  We may stumble upon truths because He leads us to them, but in the end, I truly believe our growth in our thought life has a great deal to do with our openness to it.  In my research last week I stumbled upon this short article in Charisma magazine about having the “Mind of Christ”.  I thought the author has some very insightful things to say and some great questions.  Let me invite you to read the article and sit with the questions she asks during your times with the Lord this week.

Have a great week everybody and may God’s will be done in our lives

Pastor Ryan