2nd look

God Is Light: Where Real Living Starts, 1 John 1:5-7

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s 2nd Look.

 
On Sunday I quoted John Piper on the definition of Christian joy:
“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the word and in the world.”

I want to give you two other quotes from Mr. Piper for you to ruminate on this week:

“God will not turn away from doing you good. He will keep on doing good. He doesn’t do good to His children sometimes and bad to them other times. He keeps on doing good and He never will stop doing good for ten thousand ages of ages.”
 
“Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. It’s a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God.”

John Piper

What thoughts and feelings come up for you as you read these? In what ways do these quotes encourage you, what ways to they challenge you?

Have a great week everyone!!!!
Pastor Ryan



The Journey of Complete Joy, 1 John 1:1-4

Hello folks, welcome to the first 2nd Look of the year.
I invite you to listen to this song, every day this week, with me!
Center (Live)

May God grant you His glorious peace as you walk with Him!
Pastor Ryan

1 John 1:1-4

Here is Sunday’s Sermon for you to listen to again, or if you missed it on Sunday.



Christmas Is God’s Song Of Precious Estimation

“Epic Christmas 2019” Advent Guide
 
Hello everyone, and welcome to this year’s Advent Guide. In the weeks to come, we will be looking forward to the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
 
Simply put, Advent is a season of time, 4 weeks to be exact. It happens during the 4 weeks that lead up to Christmas. The word Advent is actually formed from a Latin word that means: “Coming” or “Arrival.”
 
There are many ways to approach Advent but what I want to do is give you a chance to reflect on some simple Scriptures and thoughts each week. Each Monday I will release a new Advent Reflection Guide for that particular week and it will go along with the theme from the previous Sunday’s sermon. 
 
Some practical suggestions:

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be distracted.
  • Set aside technology if you can. I’d suggest using a literal bible rather than your phone, as this device can be quite a distraction.
  • Open your time with prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to open your heart and lead you as you study and pray.
  • Read the Advent Guide portion for the day. Each day will have a brief selection or activity for you. 
  • Give yourself 10-20 minutes to reflect. If you want to go longer you can. If you miss a day, do not get down, Jesus still loves you! I don’t want this to be an exercise in shame. This is meant to be helpful- things happen and sometimes we forget or have to choose something else. This guide is here to help you reflect upon the Lord.
  • My hope is that this guide will help you take some time, maybe 10-20 minutes out of your day, to simply reflect upon the beauty and glory of Christmas.

 
An Intro to this Advent series: Epic Christmas
What is this series about? Many of us know the Christmas story, or at least we think we do. There is a part of the story that is not so well known, a perspective on how things went down that we don’t often recognize. When we see this perspective, Christmas begins to take on new meaning and purpose. It becomes a much more gripping tale of struggle, danger and dramatic suspense. In a word, it becomes EPIC! This Advent season, I want us to look at Christmas from a different vantage point, with the hope that we will see Christmas not merely as some silent peaceful night but rather as the beginning of the greatest love story. And the most daring rescue story the world has ever seen!
 
Join us Sunday mornings here at SNC for an Epic Christmas!

 Epic Christmas Advent Guide Week #4
Christmas Is God’s Song Of Precious Estimation
 
Monday: Opening Reflection
Read the Christmas story one last time. Luke 1:1-2:21
 
As you read, picture the story in your mind as if you are watching a movie or as if you were someone standing there watching it all happen. Can you imagine how it felt for everyone involved? Can you imagine the smells, the sensations? What really captured you during your time of reading and imagination?
 
Tuesday: Oh Holy Night
As this is Christmas Eve listen to Oh Holy Night one last time.
Here is one version you can listen to, although any version will do:
 
Lyrics:
O Holy night! The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appears and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees; O hear the Angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born
O night, O Holy night, O night divine!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is Peace
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us Praise His Holy name
Christ is the Lord; O praise His name forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim
His power and glory evermore proclaim
 
 
Wednesday: Merry Christmas!!!



Christmas is a Razor’s Edge Perambulation

“Epic Christmas 2019” Advent Guide

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to this year’s Advent Guide. In the weeks to come, we will be looking forward to the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Simply put, Advent is a season of time, 4 weeks to be exact. It happens during the 4 weeks that lead up to Christmas. The word Advent is actually formed from a Latin word that means: “Coming” or “Arrival.”

 

There are many ways to approach Advent but what I want to do is give you a chance to reflect on some simple Scriptures and thoughts each week. Each Monday I will release a new Advent Reflection Guide for that particular week and it will go along with the theme from the previous Sunday’s sermon.

 

Some practical suggestions:

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be distracted.
  • Set aside technology if you can. I’d suggest using a literal bible rather than your phone, as this device can be quite a distraction.
  • Open your time with prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to open your heart and lead you as you study and pray.
  • Read the Advent Guide portion for the day. Each day will have a brief selection or activity for you.
  • Give yourself 10-20 minutes to reflect. If you want to go longer you can. If you miss a day, do not get down, Jesus still loves you! I don’t want this to be an exercise in shame. This is meant to be helpful- things happen and sometimes we forget or have to choose something else. This guide is here to help you reflect upon the Lord.

 

My hope is that this guide will help you take some time, maybe 10-20 minutes out of your day, to simply reflect upon the beauty and glory of Christmas.

 

An Intro to this Advent series: Epic Christmas

What is this series about? Many of us know the Christmas story, or at least we think we do. There is a part of the story that is not so well known, a perspective on how things went down that we don’t often recognize. When we see this perspective, Christmas begins to take on new meaning and purpose. It becomes a much more gripping tale of struggle, danger and dramatic suspense. In a word, it becomes EPIC! This Advent season, I want us to look at Christmas from a different vantage point, with the hope that we will see Christmas not merely as some silent peaceful night but rather as the beginning of the greatest love story. And the most daring rescue story the world has ever seen!

 

Join us Sunday mornings here at SNC for an Epic Christmas!

 

 

 

Epic Christmas Advent Guide Week #3

Christmas Is A Razor’s Edge Perambulation

 

Monday: Opening Reflection

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:26-33

 

The mission was set. There were no questions. A virgin will impossibly conceive a child and this boy will grow to be the King of Kings and his reign will never end. Into a broken and dying world- hope is born. So much could’ve gone wrong. Think about it for a second.

  • Mary could have miscarried. Every child being birthed is a miracle in its own way. God orchestrated a healthy pregnancy.
  • Joseph could’ve divorced Mary but God intervened.
  • The kingdom of darkness sought to destroy Jesus again and again- but God snatched him away, protecting Him again and again.
  • A king hunted Jesus, but God orchestrated a midnight escape.

 

Every turn, was danger and challenge, and every turn God answers. His plan would not be thwarted. The adventure of Christmas was like walking on the edge of a razor, you stray just a little bit to the right or left, and you fall. So much could’ve gone wrong and yet, God had it in the bag! He was taking a leisurely stroll, on the razor’s edge, making a mockery of the enemy, and bringing His plan to fruition. Consider God’s power to make all this happen.

 

Question to reflect upon: Lord how does Christmas show me your power?

 

 

Tuesday: Luke 2:1-19

Read this scripture several times.

What is something jumping out to you from these verses?

 

Wednesday: Reflect Upon a Song

Here’s a YouTube link to the song: “He Shall Reign,” by Chris Tomlin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5UXgs6nvGM

 

Consider the words, asking the Lord to speak to your heart regarding what the lyrics are saying.

 

 

Thursday: Matthew 2:1-18

Read this scripture a few times.

Ask yourself: Lord how did you protect Jesus in this time?

What all could’ve gone wrong and yet you made it all work?

 

 

Friday: Celebration Project

On this day, how might you celebrate the greatness of Jesus?

Take some time to ask Holy Spirit:

“Lord, Is there a small way I can celebrate your greatness today?”

 

What does Celebration involve?

Acknowledgment– It involves turning your attention to something. Recognizing its importance, remembering how it has blessed you.

Sacrifice- Giving up of your time or resources to this particular thing to prioritize or value it.

What is a way I can celebrate God’s greatness and goodness today?



Christmas Is A D-Day Invasion



Christmas Is A Longing In Devestation

“Epic Christmas 2019” Advent Guide

 

Hello everyone, and welcome to this year’s Advent Guide. In the weeks to come, we will be looking forward to the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Simply put, Advent is a season of time, 4 weeks to be exact. It happens during the 4 weeks that lead up to Christmas. The word Advent is actually formed from a Latin word that means: “Coming” or “Arrival.”

 

There are many ways to approach Advent but what I want to do is give you a chance to reflect on some simple Scriptures and thoughts each week. Each Monday I will release a new Advent Reflection Guide for that particular week and it will go along with the theme from the previous Sunday’s sermon.

 

Some practical suggestions:

  • Find a quiet place where you will not be distracted.
  • Set aside technology if you can. I’d suggest using a literal bible rather than your phone, as this device can be quite a distraction.
  • Open your time with prayer, inviting the Holy Spirit to open your heart and lead you as you study and pray.
  • Read the Advent Guide portion for the day. Each day will have a brief selection or activity for you.
  • Give yourself 10-20 minutes to reflect. If you want to go longer you can. If you miss a day, do not get down, Jesus still loves you! I don’t want this to be an exercise in shame. This is meant to be helpful- things happen and sometimes we forget or have to choose something else. This guide is here to help you reflect upon the Lord.

 

My hope is that this guide will help you take some time, maybe 10-20 minutes out of your day, to simply reflect upon the beauty and glory of Christmas.

 

An Intro to this Advent series: Epic Christmas

What is this series about? Many of us know the Christmas story, or at least we think we do. There is a part of the story that is not so well known, a perspective on how things went down that we don’t often recognize. When we see this perspective, Christmas begins to take on new meaning and purpose. It becomes a much more gripping tale of struggle, danger and dramatic suspense. In a word, it becomes EPIC! This Advent season, I want us to look at Christmas from a different vantage point, with the hope that we will see Christmas not merely as some silent peaceful night but rather as the beginning of the greatest love story. And the most daring rescue story the world has ever seen!

 

Join us Sunday mornings here at SNC for an Epic Christmas!

 

Epic Christmas Advent Guide Week #1

Christmas Is A Longing In Devastation

 

An invitation!

During the Advent season, it is powerful to fast something. This means we cease some sort of activity during Advent to communicate our love and devotion to God and to free us up to hear from Him. One thing that is really powerful is that every time you long for this thing that you have given up you let it be a reminder to you of the longing mankind once felt for the arrival of a savior, and our longing now for the return of Jesus.

Some things people give up:

  • Television
  • Social media
  • Video games
  • Soda
  • Sugar
  • Caffeine
  • A certain type of food

*Please know that if you decide to fast food entirely you should consult with your doctor and research the best ways to go about this.

 

The point of fasting is not to make God like you more. The point of fasting is to communicate your love to God and to put yourself in a place to be more likely to hear Him. If you do not do it, that’s fine, but consider giving it a shot. Fasting would start on Sunday, December 1st and end on Christmas Eve.

 

Monday: Opening Reflection

The world was once a bright and safe place, full of hope and promise. Death, sickness, rebellion, and brokenness were not even a reality. There was God and there was man, closest of friends, in a good and beautiful world. But this friendship would not be robotic. God would not allow this. He would have man’s love and devotion but only if man would freely choose it; otherwise these things wouldn’t be genuine. So God gave man a choice.   Will you obey? If you do, there is life and peace and wonderful prosperity, but if you don’t, death will enter the scene and along with it all manners of brokenness.

 

Man and woman chose to rebel and the entire world was broken, plunged headfirst into darkness. Sin entered the scene. Death was now a reality. Rebellion, shame, pride, discord, sickness, and suffering all became a part of our human existence that was never meant to be there.

 

All was lost.

But God made a promise. Someday he would restore all that has been lost. For much of the Bible, leading up to the story of Jesus in the gospels, we see a world waiting in the midst of this devastation, longing for God’s promise to be realized. Ever since the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the world has been waiting for His return to vanquish sin and death once and for all.

 

So long ago- that baby in a manger, was the answer to our longing in devastation. He is the realization of God’s great promise to restore all that has been taken. Today, for the remainder of this time of reflection consider this question:

How does Jesus answer my deepest longings in the midst of a world in devastation?

 

Tuesday: Genesis 3:13-15; Luke 19:10

Read these scriptures several times.

Even after the fall, after all had been destroyed and darkness had fallen, right there at the beginning of the dark night God was making a promise that He would send a Savior to crush the enemy’s head and to restore what had been lost.

What is jumping out to you from these verses?

 

Wednesday: Reflect upon a song

Here’s a YouTube link to a version of the song: “O Come O Come Emmanuel.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZnuzNTxV9M

Take a listen to it.

Here’s a link to some lyrics:

https://genius.com/Christmas-songs-o-come-o-come-emmanuel-lyrics

Consider the words and ask the Lord to speak to your heart regarding what the lyrics are saying.

 

Thursday: Isaiah 9:1-7

Read this scripture a few times.

What caught your eye during your readings of the scriptures?

 

Friday: Longing Exercise

Have you ever taken time to imagine what it might be like when Jesus restores all things? Take time to consider this. What are you excited to see Jesus restore? Jesus said in Revelation 2:15: “Behold I am making all things new.” What are you excited about what He will do?



#9: Eyes To See

Hello everyone and welcome to the last 2nd Look of our Battle Ready series. I preached the final sermon of the series on Sunday and I have received a great deal of feedback from different people telling me what God has done with them during this series. Thank you!

I’m going to simplify things this week and invite you to consider these questions…

What did God show you during this series?
How did God encourage you or challenge you?
What might be your response to His work in your life?

Next week we begin our Advent series.   
All praise to Jesus!
Pastor Ryan



#8: Going On the Offensive with God

Hello everyone!

This week, let us reflect on the temptations of Christ. Matthew 4:1-11.
How does Jesus defeat the devil?
This is an interesting way to look at this passage.
Let’s consider this together.
Isn’t it amazing we have a king who has been tempted as we have been and yet remained sinless.  He is victorious!

May God grant you his glorious peace and joy as you reflect upon Him this week!

Pastor Ryan

 

 



#7: Footholds

Hello SNC!

Did you know that at the beginning of this year we had a goal in place? The goal was to get 80% of our people to either figure out what their rule of life is or to develop a rule of life.

Wait a minute Pastor Ryan… What’s a rule of life? I’m so glad you asked my brilliant and observant friend! A rule of life is a spiritual rhythm of living. If you read your bible ten minutes a day, that is part of your rule of life. If you set aside 5 minutes a day to pray, that’s part of your rule of life. It is an intentional structure you have in place to spend time with God and be nourished by Him.

Why is this important or helpful? Well, the truth is, many folks don’t even think about this. We just float through life. If we manage to get time with God it is likely a result of some accident than anything intentional, and yet we desperately need time with the Lord, because we are made for it.

My hope and dream for you, as we entered this past year, was to help you think about your life and journey with God. Everything we talked about this past year was oriented towards this! Do you remember how we began the year talking about “Sinking Deep with God: Helpful and Essential Practices of the Christian Faith”? This was geared towards you developing a rule of life.

Here we are, at the end of this year, and we are talking about spiritual warfare, being reminded yet again of the absolutely crucial need we have to be with God. It doesn’t happen unless we are intentional. As we get ready to begin the advent season, I invite you to consider developing your own rule of life for 2020. And I will be reminding you of this again.

Please remember we don’t do any of this to earn God’s love, we do this to grow closer with the God who loves us. We don’t do these things to save us, we do them to grow deeper with our Savior.

Would you consider developing a rule of life with me? I’ve attached a link here that can help you do just that!

May God bless you this week with his wonderful incomparable peace!

Pastor Ryan Low



Struggling with Doubt

Here are some resources if you or someone you know are struggling with doubt. Let me first say that while there are many answers and evidence for the truth of Christianity there is also a certain measure of faith we all need to have. I’m not talking blind faith, I’m talking about informed faith. I may not know everything for certain, but from the evidence I’ve seen, I’m choosing to trust that God is there.

After the sermon, one of you challenged me in regard to whether or not most atheists absolutely believe there is no God, beyond a shadow of a doubt. The person who challenged me said I painted atheists in an inaccurate light because most of them would admit that they don’t have full knowledge but from what they’ve seen they are choosing to believe there is no God. Fair enough. My point was not to create a straw man of all atheists but to point out that we simply cannot find ourselves at a place where we can never doubt our doubts, something I’ve found some atheists I’ve talked with unwilling to do. But that’s a faith step, right? I may not know everything but from what I do know, I’m choosing to believe _______. As Christians, we are making our own faith step based on the evidence we’ve seen.

What is this evidence? What are some resources that point me back to this? Let me give you a few:

Some apologetics books that answer many questions brought against Christianity

The Problem of God by Mark Clark

The Reason For God by Timothy Keller

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Gunning for God by John Lennox

When God Goes to Starbucks by Paul Copan

Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh Mcdowell

Some websites that are helpful:

– YouTube: Sean McDowell; William Lane Craig

– reasonablefaith.org

– gotquestions.org

– comereason.org

There are still many resources out there that I have not listed. Please know that if you have questions you can also email me and I will respond to you.

Thanks everyone!

Have a great day!

Pastor Ryan