2nd look

Advent Week 3

Hello Everybody!

Welcome to this week’s 2nd look!

 

As you may recall we are in our third week of the advent season. Last Sunday we talked about how when Jesus appears- a doorway has opened to God’s wisdom being available to us. God’s wisdom.. What is that? Do you remember how we looked at God’s wisdom being Redemption; righteousness and holiness? These things are available to us in Jesus Christ. This week, I’d like to invite you to read a passage everyday to consider how Jesus has become for us wisdom from God. Take five minutes a day, and read the verse and simply reflect on it. What feelings or thoughts does it bring to mind?

 

Here are the Bible verses for this week:

 

Monday: Colossians 1:24-29

Tuesday: 1 Peter 1:8-16

Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (emphasize verse 18)

Thursday: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Friday: James 3:13-18

Saturday: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

 

Have a great week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



Advent Week 2

Hi everybody.

This is the beginning of week 2 of advent.

Here is what we’ve looked at so far:

Miracle #1: When Jesus Appears Nobody Becomes Somebody.

Miracle #2: When Jesus Appears Nowhere Becomes Somewhere.

If you remember from the sermon- we talked about how Jesus chose to make himself a kid from the wrong side of the tracks because he chose to be a servant; and because he chose to be planted in the middle of darkness to bring the light of God. This week as we continue looking forward to the birthday of our savior- I’d like to invite you to consider these verses that talk about these issues. Please remember to give yourself a five minute space of time to read a verse and simply reflect and pray on it. What truth is it teaching you? Have a great week everybody!

Monday– John 1:1-13

Tuesday– Matthew 20:28

Wednesday– Philippians 2:5-11

Thursday– John 8:12

Friday– 2 Corinthians 4:6

Saturday– Ephesians 5:8



Advent – Week 1

Hello Everyone!

On this first week of the advent season I want to invite you to try something.

Some of you may be aware that one of the traditions in advent is to give up something as you wait for the birth of Christ. Maybe you give up Starbucks coffee – or soda – or ice cream late at night. Maybe you give up TV or playing computer games. Who knows what it is. The point is – that whenever you long for that thing you gave up – you take that moment to remember the longing mankind has for a savior and you let that moment be an opportunity for prayer and reflection.

As the advent season goes on, I also want to invite you to join me with doing some daily advent “timeouts.” What is this? Each week I’ll send you some Bible verses, you read one a day and take a 5 minute “Timeout” to simply sit and reflect on that verse. Each compilation of verses will follow along with the sermon theme from the previous Sunday…

This week the theme of our sermon was: “When Jesus appears; nobodies become somebodies…”
Here are the verses for our Daily Advent Timeout:
Monday- John 3:16
Tuesday- Romans 5:8
Wednesday- Ephesians 2:1-10
Thursday- 1 Peter 5:6-7
Friday- Romans 8:37-39
Saturday- John 1:9-13

Have a great week everybody!!!

Pastor Ryan

PS- have you pulled out the Christmas music yet? I’d like to recommend to you some really amazing Christmas cds that my family and I have been enjoying over the last couple years. They are made by indie artists.  The albums are titled:
“A Christmas Together” and they come in different volumes made by Christian independent artists. You heard one of the songs this past Sunday. Well done – very creative – and many new Christmas songs to really freshen things up for you.  Click here for a link to the cds.

 



What Enables Your Faith?

Hello everyone,

I want to give you a verse to contemplate with me this week. Here it is:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21

Take some time to read this verse every day. What do you notice? What comes to mind for you as you read?

I pray the lord will bless you as you reflect on His word this week!

Have a great week everybody!

Pastor Ryan

 



Just. Love. Jesus.

Hello Everyone,
As we close this book of Ephesians, we are left with a powerful reminder.
Just. Love. Jesus.
This love grows from God’s great agape love for us.
A love that moves Him to action.
A love that moves Him   To pursue us
                                        To identify with us
                                         To Sacrifice for us
                                          To live with us
                                           To forgive us
                                            To be for us.
This week I’d like to invite you to read Ephesians 1:3-14 again and look for the ways God has loved you. It’s pretty amazing.
Have a great week everybody!
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



Are You Ready…

Hello everyone!  For today’s 2nd look I want to take some time to reflect on a very popular verse written by Peter. Here it is:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.                                        — 1 Peter 3:15-16

When it comes to being someone who can share the gospel – the question I often ask my self is: Am I prepared to give a defense for my faith? Am I prepared to explain what it is I truly believe and why I believe it? Can I share with others just what my story with Christ is? This is extremely important for us in the process of sharing the gospel. I think many of us avoid sharing the gospel because we are afraid of looking foolish – so we go to the other extreme; we determine that sharing the gospel is not for us, (someone else can do it), and we simply never prepare our minds and hearts for this. This is a problem because we see Peter encouraging us to be prepared to give an answer.
I’d like to ask you ponder several questions that will help you prepare yourself to give an answer:

1) Could you explain what the gospel is, in clear terms, if you are asked?
Here’s a quick explanation: Jesus is God; He died for you and He rose from the dead. Turn to Him, and you will be set free.
2) What are some of the most difficult questions you’ve heard critics of Christianity ask? Have you ever researched how to answer them in these questions? There are some very simple websites you can look up, and please keep in mind some great books. If you have questions you want to research, please contact me, I may have some books and websites that I can point you too. This kind of thing is a passion for me! I love to share this with others. And I cannot tell you how much it has helped me when I share the gospel – to have thought through these questions. It has also enriched my own worship of the Lord – and given me a great sense of peace when I wrestle with doubt. Yes I am human and I have moments of doubt. When those moments hit, I go back to the questions and answers I have studied, I remember God’s faithfulness in my life. This all helps!
3) Could you describe what knowing Jesus has meant to your life? Critics can attack the philosophy side of Christianity – they can attack the historicity and the ethics – but it’s very difficult for someone to deny your experience. Often times this will speak more loudly than all the philosophical arguments for Christianity.  When we share of our faith – it’s important to be able to give our testimony – do you think you could share it quickly and clearly?  Here are some things you could address – who you were before you knew Christ – how you came to know Him – and what your life is like now.
4) Are you bathed in prayer? The truth is nothing you say can change someone’s heart towards the Lord. This is entirely up to the work of God in their heart. When we leave the house are we bathed in prayer?

These are some powerful questions that will help you get prepared to give an answer for why you have placed your faith in Jesus. I pray God will bless you as you wrestle with them.
One last suggestion: practice. It may sound silly, but I will often have practice discussions with nobody when I’m driving somewhere. I’m just talking through my testimony – and how I would share my faith. I pretend there is someone who is genuinely interested to hear what I have to say and I have a dialogue with them. Sure it looks weird to the person sitting in the other car who sees me – but I’m getting practice in. Sometimes we just need the practice; and in the end please remember – God is going to speak through you and do whatever He wishes. This is bigger than your or my ability, and God is faithful. He has all the authority and He has not left you alone. Take courage my friend; we have a world to reach!

Have a blessed week!

Pastor Ryan



What’s The Deal With Church?

As a Christian, you are meant to be in close relationship with the church. When you became a Christian, one of the first things to happen was you were placed in the church. The church, in its original design, is meant to be a family, a lifeline, a place of healing, of challenge; and of growth for you. It is also a place for you to connect with God’s mission for your life.
With all these things in mind – how do we deepen our connection with the church? I want to give you two quick suggestions.

  1. Get Involved.

Sometimes we think that the bulk of our Christian growth will occur when we come to church on Sunday mornings. This is actually not true. Sure Sunday mornings are great and can help us grow – the reality is – much of our transformation with God happens Sunday afternoon to Saturday night. It happens in the context of relationships. Getting involved at church gives us opportunities to keep learning – to get to know other believers and let them in to our lives – and to use the gifts God has given us! So how do I get involved?

  • Small groups.  I highly suggest getting into a small group.  This is where the church is actually MOST powerful. You learn, you get known, you get challenged. Small groups are amazing. At the beginning of next year we are beginning a new small group approach called: “Next Step Groups.” I will tell you more about it in the weeks to come – but these groups have potential to be Very powerful!  Maybe you could be a part of a small group – or host one?
  • Volunteer. Did you know that church volunteerism is at an all time low all over the country? This is a shame for two reasons – 1) The church needs help and 2) If we don’t volunteer we don’t use our spiritual giftedness and we miss out on a huge blessed part of being a Christian. As a church we have many areas of need – children’s, youth, worship, maintenance, sound team, prayer warriors, visitation experts, and much more.  The question is this?

What interests and passions has God put upon my heart? 
How do I use these things to bless the church?

Those gifts, those passions weren’t placed there on accident. God has wired you this way for a specific purpose. Volunteer and see how He uses you to do eternal things!

  • Other events and outreaches…. Many times at church, we have events to build community – to do outreaches, or to simply help us grow as Christians. Consider coming to some of this stuff. It really helps you get to know people and can enrich your experience.

2. Get Open.
I think often times the church is simply not able to be THE CHURCH because it’s a closed space. We try to protect ourselves because we’ve been hurt – but in the end we protect ourselves from the very thing that heals us – others. In the church – we are experts at being together but alone. I want to suggest two questions that you can ask each other that can change the way we do life together… These are questions that are key to healing and transformation – and yet we rarely ask them. I think we as a church need to get these questions into our rotation. Are you ready?  Here they are:

  1. What is God showing you….? What is God doing in your life? Where is He leading you?
  2. ….And what are you going to do about it? What’s the next step. Now you see God doing some stuff in you, what are you going to do in response?

These two questions can literally change the way we relate to each other and they can ultimately be a source of deep community and healing for each other. This is real stuff here. These questions help open us up. But they are risky. We need to be willing to go deep. If we do open up – the church can become a place unlike anywhere else in the world. It can become…The Kingdom of God coming to life in our midst!
I’d like to invite you to consider these things with me this week. May you be blessed to see, be reminded, and experience God’s love and mercy freely given to you every moment of every day!

Pastor Ryan



What Do You Really Think About Prayer?

Hello everybody-

I want to ask a simple question this week.

What do you really think about prayer?

I’m a firm believer that we live in line with our true beliefs; our deep down, honest to God, ACTUAL beliefs. So the question I often wrestle with is: “What do I really believe about prayer?”

   Do I truly believe it is effective? Deep down – do I think it makes no difference at all whether I pray or not? Do I truly believe my prayers are heard? Does God really care about my prayers? 

    These are great questions that actually impact my prayer life. In the end, the way you answer this major question of what you really think about prayer – will impact if you pray or not. Once you come to grips with what you truly believe; the next questions are – “what does the Bible say about prayer?” and Do I know anybody whose experience with prayer verifies what I see the Bible teaching about it?” 

   These questions have meant a great deal to my prayer journey. I’d like to invite you this week to wrestle with this issue. To consider it. What does prayer mean to you? What does it truly, deep down mean… to.. you….

 

Have a blessed week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



What Is The Gospel?

whatdoesitmean2BChristian?

Hello everyone!

Last night Deron, Miriam and I went to do a visitation of someone from WOWJAM and we ended up seeing their entire family come to Christ!!! It just hit me again- how powerful the Gospel is and how powerfully our God is working behind the scenes to prepare peoples’ hearts for salvation: your neighbors, co-workers- friends- family members… God is working!!!!

 

This last Sunday we talked about what the Gospel is. Do you remember?

I’m going to say it like it is:

Jesus is God

He died for you

And He Rose from the dead

Turn to Him

And you will be set free.

 

Would you do something for me this week? Repeat this to yourself. learn it. If you want to go deeper- look up scriptures that tell us more about each point. But in the end- memorize this very simple picture of the Gospel, and then pray God would give you someone to share it with. The best way to learn the Gospel- is to share it with others. Have a great week everyone!

 

Pastor Ryan