2nd look

#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



#5: The Enemy’s Strategy, Part 2

This week I invite you to check out a few quotes from a book titled,
Lord Foulgrin’s Letters” by Randy Alcorn. The book is a compilation of letters written from Fourlgrin, a high ranking demon, to his apprentice, Squaltaint, a lower-ranking demon. Squaltaint has been tasked to destroy a man named Jordan Fletcher. The book is a way to look into the mind of the enemy, like reading the enemy’s mail.

This book is seemingly a very capable sequel to “Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. Both books are worth a read. I am going to share a few quotes with you from Lord Foulgrin’s letters as they speak to what we looked at on Sunday.

The book begins like this:
“If Jordan Fletcher wasn’t happy, it was only because he needed something else- someone else or someplace else. All his life, happiness has been just one step around the corner. He’d spent his life chasing around that next corner… And the next and the next and the next. Jordan never realized that all the time he’d been hunting happiness, someone had been hunting him.”

Below are some excerpts:
(Before you read these, please keep in mind that these are quotes written by one demon to another. The Tyrant this demon mentions is God. When this demon mentions sludgebags he’s referring to humans.)

“…To get you started, here are Foulgrin’s rules of the Sting:
1. Never lose sight of your goal- Fletcher’s enslavement.
2. Find just the right bait, tailor-made for him. Be sure the hook is well hidden.
3. Use as many lures as you can. He may pass on 1 but bite on the next or spend his life moving from one to the other.
4. Make him promises and actually keep a few now and then, so he doesn’t catch on to the setup.
5. Tempt your prey with what he wants to have, but give him what you want him to have. Lure him, coddle him, reassure him. All will be well, even as he fatten him for the Lord Satan’s altar.”

High command has reiterated our commitment to making children our first priority. Kill them outright. Abandon them to the streets. Subject them to every form of abuse in Homes. Make them fatherless, but be careful to close their ears to the Tyrant’s seductive invitation to be their father. Drugs, prostitution, and pornography are ideal instruments to hurt the brats, indirectly and directly. And don’t forget one of the most effective forms of child abuse: Parents giving their children whatever they want.

“If you must be a Christian, make him a moderate one, the kind who makes sure he ‘doesn’t go overboard’ or ‘Get radical’ or ‘Go to extremes’. Let his Christianity be one more category of his life, alongside business, sports, and hobbies. If that’s all it is, it’ll do us little harm and enemy little good.”

If you must know the reason you did not read about my exploits is things didn’t go as planned. This Barbara, unexpectedly, was under protection. The Ghost indwelt her. A warrior defended her. While it’s true the enemy sometimes lets us have access to them, even when He does He often turns it around, twists it and draws them closer to Himself. We followed her in the shadows and every time it looked like an opportunity, a sludgebag came out of nowhere, one of them was an enemy warrior disguised as a street vendor… the woman was oblivious to it all… I couldn’t lay a finger on her. Humiliating.

“The Tyrant is aware of our schemes and desires the vermin to be aware of them. By declaring war on our schemes He admits how effective they are.  Your job is simple, Squaltaint, keep Fletcher from putting on this armor! The enemy gives them no armor to protect their back. As long as they face us with a raised shield and sword, we cannot defeat them. But when they put down their guard, we can move in for the kill.
 The best strategy is twofold. First, convincing them the kingdoms of light and darkness can maintain a detente, a peaceful coexistence. Second, minimize your frontal assaults, and use cunning and trickery. Subtlety. Deception. Disguise. That way you can keep him from recognizing the reality of the spiritual warfare going on about him.”

What jumps out at you from these quotes?

Have a great week everyone and may God’s power and peace be with you all!!!

Pastor Ryan



God is Great

Hello SNC brothers and sisters.
We just finished our series, “Let’s Talk About God: 5 Essential Things to Understand About God.” I truly hope The Lord blessed you as we reflected on truths about who HE is!

Now it is time for us to move ahead and begin our new series, “Battle Ready.” You may remember that we’ve been looking at the fact that in Christ we are all meant to be ministers. Each of us has a part to play in the massive movement of the Kingdom of God on planet earth!

One of the biggest issues for us is: We have an enemy who wants to destroy us and to destroy any part we might take in what God is doing.

There are 2 ideas this upcoming series is built upon:

1. We are born into and live in a war.

2. We are either ready for it or we are not.

I’ve been very excited about this series for some time but I must admit the battle within me has been fierce and severe, confirming to me that the enemy does not want us to talk about this. But we will!

PLEASE IN PRAYER FOR THIS SERIES. Please pray for me, as the battle has been very intense. Please pray for our worship band, our small groups, and for the Sunday morning worship services. That the name of Jesus will be lifted high and that the enemy will NOT be granted entry into our midst. Please pray that God would open our hearts and minds to whatever He would wish to show us.

This is going to be a very intense series but there is wonderful potential. We’re going to talking about healing things, freeing things, empowering things, and most importantly we are going to declare together the name and authority of Jesus Christ over our lives! I’m looking forward to our Sunday morning services. There are going to be some awesome things ahead!

-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-

On October 6th I am going to be out of town. I have been given the wonderful privilege of going to a “Wild at Heart Boot Camp” in Colorado. This is a 5 day, intense, prayer, healing, warfare, masculinity, ooo-Ra retreat being led by Ransomed Heart Ministries!
What does this mean for SNC when I’m gone? I have invited a good friend of mine, who also happens to be my spiritual director, to come speak on the power of prayer in the midst of warfare. Cameron Hedges is a graduate from Biola and Talbot Theological Seminary in Biblical Studies and in Spiritual Direction and Soul Care. He is a former pastor, and a licensed spiritual director. Most importantly, he is a man who deeply loves Jesus and loves to help people in their own journey with Christ.
I’m very excited for my dear brother to be here to share with you all.
Get ready to be Battle Ready!

May God grant you His peace and power this week,

Ryan
 



God is Joyful

Hello everyone!
This week’s 2nd Look involves several simple questions to ponder.

What if the beautiful things, the pleasurable things, the joyous things of this world are all meant to point us back to a God who is joyful and wonderfully artistic in all He does?

What in my life that brings me joy didn’t have to be that way? It’s that way because God made it to be so.

How do I enjoy God as I enjoy these wonderful things?

Think and pray about these things. This week may God grant you wonder, and peace that are found only next to Him!

Pastor Ryan



God is Mysterious

Hello everyone!

On Sunday we discussed the mysteriousness of God. To continue with that thought I invite you to read and reflect on Isaiah 6:1-8.

What do you find in this passage that is mysterious?
Why does Isaiah react the way he does?
Why is he so terrified?  

Imagine what you are reading in this passage as if you were in the room. What might you feel?

Take some time this week to reflect on God’s mysterious existence, nature, holiness and love for us.

May God grant you his peace this week!
Pastor Ryan



God is Wise

Hello everyone!

Below is a link the to song I opened the sermon with and the “final questions” I ended the sermon with for you to reflect upon.
 
Here they are:
 
God is God by Steven Curtis Chapman
 
Final questions:
 – Can I trust God’s wisdom even when life doesn’t make sense?
 – Who or what do I turn to first for wisdom?

Check out James 3:17
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
     
This Is WHAT GOD’s WISDOM LOOKS LIKE! 

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.
 
Sometimes the things we think are so wise actually lead to death and oppression of our lives and soul. Sometimes those things can be found in the church and yet they are not God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom is pure, peace loving, etc… Take time this week to reflect on this verses. Is there something that has looked right to you in the past and yet it has led to some form of death in your life?

– How do I feel knowing that this God who is immeasurably brilliant- actually takes time thinking about me?  

Take time to reflect on these questions and listen to the song this week…
may God grant you understanding of the riches of his wondrous love and mercy, available to you right now and forever!
Pastor Ryan



God is Good

Psalm 27:13
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.

This is my favorite verse from this week’s sermon. What does the Psalmist imply here? The Psalmist lives with comfort that He will see God’s goodness, even in the midst of terrible trials. He looks forward to it. He looks for it!
I invite you to join me with this week in taking time each day to consider how God is pouring out His goodness upon you. For some this will be more challenging than others. Some of us are in dark times, and yet if we have eyes to see, we may be able to see God’s goodness to us even in small ways.
Let’s be confident we will see God’s goodness together!
May God bless you this week!
Pastor Ryan



Life Transforming Question 3, Romans 8:35-39

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s 2nd look!

Below are a list of the weekly themes in each sermon of this series.

Romans 8:1-4: We are justified: We are freed from the curse of sin and death

Romans 8:5-14: The Spirit the flesh and the battle of sin: We are freed and enabled to fight sin

Romans 8:15-17: The Amazing holy Spirit in our lives!

Romans 8:18-28: The Spirit is with us in our suffering

Romans 8:29-30: our destiny- to become like Jesus

Romans 8:31-32: If God is for us who can be against us?

Romans 8:33-34: Who will bring a charge against those whom God has chosen?

Romans 8:35-39: What shall separate us from the Love of Christ?

What has really spoken to you throughout this series?

In what ways has God encouraged or challenged you?

How have you responded to this?

 
May God grant you His great, glorious and incomparable peace this week!

Pastor Ryan



Life Transforming Question 2, Romans 8:33-34

Hello everyone!

For this week’s 2nd Look I will be giving a brief re-cap.

First we looked at how God’s way is not a way of condemnation but a way of restoration. We are the ones who get really good at condemning either others or ourselves.

We looked at Shame. Here’s Dr. Curt Thompson’s definition:
“One way to approach the essence of shame is to understand it as an undercurrent of sensed emotion, of which we may have either a slight or robust impression that, should we put words to it, would declare some version of ‘I am not enough: there is something wrong with me: I am bad: or I don’t matter…..’ It is born out of a sense of “there being something wrong” With me or of “Not being enough,” And therefore exudes the aroma of being unable or powerless to change one’s condition or circumstances.”

Have you ever felt those messages Dr. Thomspon mentioned? How do we address this?

Romans 8:33: Recognize the charge and charge-er: What is the message of shame? What is the charge or accusation being brought against you and who is the one accusing you? Is it you? Is it someone else? Is it the devil himself? We need to state what the charge is- and who is bringing it.

Romans 8:33b: Declare you are chosen: No matter what the charge- whether it’s deserved or undeserved- you are chosen by God! He has removed your guilt. We need to speak this to the shame.

Romans 8:34: Cling to the King: We need to cling to the promises God makes us- and we need to get vulnerable with Him and with others. We need to bring our shame into the light. We need to be able to be open or even boast about our weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on us!

Take some time this week to consider this. Shame is undeserved condemnation in our lives. Let’s put shame to shame!!!

May God bless you this week with His glorious and incomparable peace guarding your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

Pastor Ryan