2nd look

To Judge or Not to Judge?

Hello everyone,
After this last Sunday’s sermon – one of you felt it was important to re-assert with me that while we are called to not be judgmental – that sometimes this is taken too far leaving us at a place where we don’t feel we can say anything is wrong because we are afraid of “judging others.” I think this is an extremely valid point, and I’m grateful to this person for sharing their thought with me. What Jesus is really addressing here is not whether we can say something is wrong – but if we are being hypocritical as we make judgments of others.

Jesus is painting a picture of a community in which people are helping each other remove the specs and planks from each others’ eyes all the while doing this with truth, humility and mercy. All the while this requires God’s leading with which we continue to ask God for in prayer trusting He is a good father and will provide it.

So Jesus is calling us to be a community marked by truth, humility and mercy; rather than judgmental, “Holier than thou,” kind of living. I pray we will be that. Sometimes this means we need to take an extra effort to give someone the benefit of a doubt and get to the truth with them. Sometimes this means we need to admit that we are not perfect either and that sometimes this person hurt us and we are partly to blame as well…Sometimes it means we need to admit we have labeled someone as a lost cause when in reality God loves them and doesn’t see them that way at all…the question is: Lord – how do you want me to see this person? Lord how do you see them? Do I have a right to see them otherwise?

This week – ask the Holy Spirit if there is someone you have judged without truth, humility and mercy. If so – ask God to help you look at this person and fight for these three things…God is faithful we can trust He will provide! Remember – Jesus looks at you with truth and mercy. Does this reality overflow from us to others? You live in a state of His grace and there is a song by Matt Redman where he says: Freely I’ve received now freely to give. Here it is.

Have a wonderful week everybody!
Pastor Ryan



Prayer for this week

– Hello folks – Here’s a prayer I’d like to invite you to consider each day this week. Have a great week everybody!!!

“Dear Lord,
It’s hard for me to relate to announcing to everyone with a trumpet when I tithe; or standing on a street corner praying out loud; or to dumping ashes on my head when I fast! Lord I don’t even fast! So as I look at this section from The Sermon On The Mount: Matthew 6:1-18; it’s a bit difficult to entirely relate to what I’m seeing Jesus talking about. BUT, I can relate to doing things for honor, recognition and respect from others. I confess that sometimes my largest motivation is to please others; rather than to see You be glorified. What’s even worse is that I sometimes find that I’m doing these things without even realizing it! Oh Lord, this week, would You give me freedom from this rat race of trying to please and impress others? Would You lead me and help me to seek Your glory first. If I tithe; let me tithe for Your glory! If I pray; please place at the forefront of my mind that I have a wonderful opportunity to talk with You; let me not cheapen it by using prayer to try to seem more ‘Christian’ than someone else. In essence Lord; please help my heart to match my mouth, and most of all – may You do this for Your glory. Amen!”

 



Peacemaker

Hi everyone.
For this week’s second look I want to share a song with you. This last Sunday we talked about being peacemakers. God has called us to be a force of peace in this world. God has been expanding my faith, lately. He wants to blow our minds in this world and bring an explosion of peace, as people get freed in Jesus – and the crazy thing is…… He wants to use us!!!!! This song is an oldie for me. It was released in the 90s and even today it has the same power it had to me back then. In other words – it has been ministering to me for 25 years. below are the lyrics… Have a wonderful week and let this song minister to you, click here for the song. May God bless you
Pastor Ryan

History maker
By Delirious

Is it true today that when people pray
Cloudless skies will break
Kings and queens will shake
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you

Is it true today that when people pray
We’ll see dead men rise
And the blind set free
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you

I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again

Yes it’s true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We’ll see miracles, we’ll see angels sing
We’ll see broken hearts making history
Yes it’s true and we believe it
We’re living for you

I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again
(2x)

Into your arms, into your arms again
Into your arms, into your arms again

I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again



Pure in Heart

Hi folks-

Blessed are the pure in Heart…..

We talked about this on Sunday. I wanted to remind you of what this looks like for us.

It means singular focus – not dividedness. What it that singular focus?

Singular Trust

We trust in Jesus Christ and ONLY in Him; not ourselves, for our salvation. Our behavior; our “goodness” cannot save us – only Jesus does this. This is easy to forget. It becomes so easy to make our salvation and standing with God about our behaviors. Don’t believe me? Read the book of Galatians. The whole book is about this very thing. Our trust needs to be in Him and Him alone.

Singular Confidence

Who or what really defines our worth as a human being? Who defines the worth of others? Do we define ourselves by our success; our wealth; the opinions of others? None of those things last, none of them are eternal. The only thing eternal is God and He defines us as His beloved; His heirs; His children; clean and holy in His sight. This is where we get true confidence from: that we are holy and dearly loved by God through Jesus Christ!

AND we need to cling to this truth – to believe in it and trust it even when it doesn’t seem like this is true. YOU ARE LOVED AND WELL PLEASING TO GOD!

Ok but what about when I sin? Well consider how you may look at your child when they do something destructive to them. You may be exasperated with them but is it not because they are hurting themselves? I think this is very true for how God sees us when we sin. His heart breaks for us because He loves us and we are content with sin and destruction. We are content with “good enough” and not great! He is hurt because we build walls between us where we cannot receive the beauty of all a relationship with God has to offer. Like any father who loves his kids – He wants more for us than we want for ourselves because He loves us!

But do we live in this reality that He loves and is pleased with us? Is this where we get our confidence and identity?

Do you want to know where you get your identity? Do you have things you fear or are stressed about? Take a good look at those things? Often times we are afraid because we hold something dear and we think we might lose that thing. Perhaps we love those things because they give us identity and make us feel good about ourselves…Those things might take God’s place in our lives…interesting stuff.

Singular hope

What do we place our hope in? This is a major question! Our hope is in Christ and Him alone. There is only one thing in this whole world offering eternal hope to all: Jesus Christ. It’s fascinating how quickly we can begin to place our hope in other things.

As you progress through this week – ask yourself in your time with God – “Lord what have I placed my trust, my confidence and my hope in? Oh Father – please bring my heart back to this singular focus where You are the center of my life.”

Have a great week everybody!!

Pastor Ryan



Hunger and Thirst?

Hi folks-

For this week I wanted to share something with you from one of my heroes of the faith – AW Tozer.

The following is a thought provoking statement:

“if your soul cries out to God, for the living God, and your dry and empty heart despairs of living a normal Christian life… Then I ask you: Is your desire all absorbing? Is it the biggest thing in your life? If your heart cries ‘yes’ to the questions you may be on your way to a spiritual breakthrough that will transform your whole life…”

As a young man of 24 years old – I was confronted with an ugly truth. I remember I was reading Psalm 63 where it says “my soul thirsts after you like a dry weary land”…. I wrote those words in my journal then paused. The truth was that my soul did not thirst after God. Or at least I didn’t feel that thirst. My flesh was firmly in control I suppose. I didn’t feel that thirst for God nor could I say I wanted the things of God in my life. In that moment I began to get honest with God: “Lord I don’t thirst for You, and while that is a scary thought, I have to believe that You love me even though I am not hungering for You. Oh God – please change my heart towards You. I don’t know how to change it on my own… I don’t think I can. I need You to help me… Please Lord.”

This was one of those moments where I believe I sensed God communicating to me very clearly: “Now you are ready for Me to love you.” Since then God has steadily built a hunger in me for Him. What’s interesting is how He has done it. I think He has done 2 major things to help build a hunger in me:

1) He has caused me to question the benefits of hungering for things this world has to offer me. Does the world really have something to offer me that is better than what God offers me? When I could truly sit down and contemplate this question, I have continually come up with the answer: “No!”

Pleasure, the praise and adoration of others, wealth, health, influence, comfort; none of this gives me eternal hope, meaning and purpose. Much of this stuff is here today and gone within a flash. Basically put – God caused me to have doubts – in the greatness and the most brilliantly flashing treasures this world has to offer. This has literally changed my life and my posture towards God. All the things I put my hope in and in the end I often arrive to the same place that Solomon arrives in Ecclesiastes: “All of it is meaningless.”

2) God slowly began to show me the riches I am offered in Him. True peace; true laughter and joy; deep meaningful relationships; living in the wonder of God’s grace and mercy; being forgiven; having an eternal meaning and purpose. ALL OF IT IS ETERNAL!!! NO MAN CAN GIVE YOU THIS AND NO MAN CAN TAKE IT AWAY!!!! The more I find that this world has nothing to offer me that even holds a candle to what God offers me; the more I find I thirst for God because; true life is really found in His presence!!!

Maybe this weekend in the service – you were wrestling in prayer. Maybe you are where I have been in my journey – no thirst for God. Let me ask you to consider the two things I listed above. I am daring to agree with AW Tozer – because it seems like a brazen promise and yet God told us we will find Him when we seek for Him with all of our hearts.

I hope, dream and pray for spiritual breakthroughs for us as individuals and as a church. May God’s kingdom come mightily in our midst. May His Holy Spirit lead us to hunger and then lead us to breakthroughs that transform our whole lives!!!

Pastor Ryan



Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?!?

What are you hungering for?
     This is the question we were left with on Sunday. In reflection on the sermon I realized I put more energy into discussing how we need to be intentional to battle against the things that hinder us and our ability to follow God. Bu there is another side to the story when it comes to pursuing righteousness. How do we grasp a hold of those things that are righteous? How do we pursue them?
     Remember that righteousness, as we discussed on Sunday, is Whatever isright or just in itself, whatever conforms to the revealed will of God.
 How do we chase hard after these things? How do we hunger for the best things God has to offer in a world that seems to hunger for the exact opposite?

     I want to give you a few questions to ponder this week in your time with the Lord.
  1. What are some righteous things or opportunities in my life? Take some time to list them.
  2. How can you “go where the righteousness is?” How can you intentionally choose to make this righteous behavior or opportunity a priority?
  3. What are some things that might be battling against that?

     Any movement of righteousness in your life is going to be battled against. Just count on it.
     The truth is sometimes we need God’s hep to simply desire or hunger and thirst for righteousness. What do we do if we don’t have that hunger? The first thing is – to ask for it. Ask for this hunger from God and trust that over time – He will give it to you more and more. From there – the idea is to simply follow His leading. It may not be easy but true blessing follows when we follow God.
     I pray this week God will give you a deeper hunger and thirst for righteousness as you walk in the light of His love; grace and mercy for you . . . have a great week everyone!
Pastor Ryan

 


Life Beyond Survival

Hi folks-

It has begun!!!  Our series on The Sermon On The Mount is officially here! I cannot tell you how excited I am to study this beautiful sermon with you all.

Please remember – The Sermon On The Mount is not just some teaching by Jesus on how we can be good humans. It’s a radical re-formation of how we think and how we view life. It’s a majestic portrait of the life we have always been meant to live and yet – as humans it is simply not possible to live this on our own. We need God to develop this sermon in our minds and hearts – to change us from the inside out.

For this week’s 2nd Look – I’d like to invite you to check out this youtube link of a live version of a song many of us know well. It is an earnest prayer for God to change us from the inside out – that He would transform our characters – and the way we see things. I have been praying God would start some really exciting things at our church as a result of the changes He does in our minds and hearts as we study The Sermon On The Mount!!!  Enjoy the song everybody and may it be your prayer this week!

Pastor Ryan



Empty Tomb

Hello SNC friends and family!
Here’s my encouragement for you this week: What does the empty tomb mean to you? What did it mean to the disciples? They went from men afraid and locked up in a house – huddled in self protection – when they encountered the risen Christ. Next thing you know – they are preaching in the temple – the place being managed by the men that had Jesus killed. Something changed. The empty tomb was not a “so what” moment. It was a life-changing earth shaking cataclysmic moment. What is it to you guys?

I’m not asking this question to shame you. God is not a fan of shame. But He is a fan of truth. Perhaps you are at a place in your life where the empty tomb means nothing to you. Or perhaps it is something that blows your mind and inspires you to follow Jesus. Either way – the only place we can start is an honest place. What does the empty tomb mean to you? I’d also like to ask you to pray that God would open your mind and heart to all the empty tomb can mean for you. 

The truth is – when the disciples encountered the empty tomb it began a radically new vision of life – a radically new direction in life – for them. I think this can be true for us as well.

What direction might the Lord be desiring to take you on? Are you open to it? What holds you back? These are all great questions to reflect on, then offer to the Lord for His guidance.

I truly hope you had a blessed Easter. This next Sunday we will begin a new series I am very excited about. Life Beyond Survival: A Study Of The Sermon On The Mount!

You wont want to miss it!!
God bless you this week my friends!

Pastor Ryan

 


Easter Week

Hello everyone,
Welcome to 2nd Look. My prayer for you is that you would have a wonderful week and be reminded often of the great love Christ has for us – that He would lay down His life for us. I’d like to invite you to look up some verses in your Bible that talk about how Jesus’ love motivates Him to die for you – and the great hope we have found because He rose again from the dead! Take time this week to meditate or think deeply on this truth. Friday night at 7pm is our Good Friday Service we do with our brethren over at the Hub Church. We will have the service here at SNC. I truly hope you can join us – for both Good Friday and Easter Sunday!

As I close this 2nd Look – I want to give you three quick blurbs that describe where we are heading with our Sunday morning sermons for the remainder of this year. I am very excited about what we will be exploring and can’t wait to get started.

Before I give you the three blurbs, I want to share the main theme with you for the rest of the year. It is two words:  Beyond Survival

I am passionate about living a life that goes beyond living paycheck to paycheck – weekend to weekend – pleasurable experience to pleasurable experience. I want to dare to dream that our lives can be marked by growth, purpose; joy; transformation; redemption; and even victory in being a force of change in this world. That is a life that goes Beyond Survival: A life that is exciting to live and, I believe, a life truly better than anything this world has to offer. That is a life that goes “Beyond Survival!”
So what are the studies we have?

  1. “Life Beyond Survival: A Study of The Sermon On The Mount:” We will take several months to study one of the greatest, most influential, powerful and impactful speeches the world has ever seen. If you are not a Christian – your life would still be transformed by trying to live this sermon – although you will likely find it near impossible. As Christians – we are meant to live this sermon in the transforming power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the things Jesus talks about here – can literally transform you. The truths Jesus mentions in this sermon have saved marriages; freed people from blindness and bondage to stress and anxiety; they have literally changed the course of history. You will not want to miss a Sunday during this series – it’s going to be A-MAY-ZING!!! But let me warn you – the more you live this sermon – the more your life will change. You will never be the same – so if you are a person who doesn’t like transformation – change – purpose or joy – this may not be the sermon series for you – but if you are; then make sure to join us starting the very first week after Easter Sunday and running throughout the summer.
  2. “Church Beyond Survival: A Study Of The Book Of Ephesians:” I’m very excited about this study. Ephesians is a manual on Christian living and life in the church. It is a book packed with amazing theology and a brilliant look at the church that moves in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this book are incredible studies on our identity in Christ, marriage and relationships; life in the Spirit, the church; and even the armor of God. It’s going to be powerful as we consider what God intends for us as His church! Ephesians is probably my favorite New Testament letter. I am more than thrilled to be studying this book with all of you. We will begin studying this book at the end of August and will likely be in it into next year.
  3. “Beyond Surviving The Holidays:” This is our advent series this year. We will take a break from Ephesians to do a little topical series on going beyond hanging on for dear life during the holidays. How do we get the most out of the holidays emotionally and spiritually – even when we are so busy buying and wrapping gifts – running from one holiday party to the next; one Christmas turkey to the next? It can be overwhelming. Well I’d like to discuss with you a recipe for peace and joy during the holidays!

So I hope you are as excited as I am. Please be in prayer that God would open our hearts as individuals and as a church to what He has ahead for us.
Have a wonderful week everybody
Pastor Ryan



SHARE the Gospel!

Hello SNC Brothers and sisters-

Wow what a great weekend. Saturday night’s Catalyst service was such a sweet time of worship and prayer. I will remember it for many years to come; Thank you Jesus for allowing us to be together and to worship You!!! Sunday morning was also a great time with so many people present and baptisms; great worship and studying the Word. I was just blessed and I hope you were as well..

I want to take this 2nd look to fill in some blanks. Over the last few weeks we’ve been talking about our church’s values but how does that translate into our next steps as a church? So we’re supposed to KNOW, LIVE and SHARE the Gospel – what are some next steps we are going to take as a church to pursue these values and get them more deeply ingrained in us?  I’m so glad you asked that question!!!  🙂

Moving forward from here, there are several different areas that we as a church need to emphasize:

1) Spiritual Formation and Discipleship.

As I have said during this series – “I don’t know much – but I do know this – we are called to ‘make disciples.” Much of this process involves helping people grow in their relationships with God. There are several areas of major concern and development for us in this.

a. Small groups. Almost nothing we do in our church addresses our values (KNOW, LIVE, SHARE) like small groups. Small groups happen at various times and locations during the week with a variety of people from our church, examining a variety of topics. What do small groups do? Well – first of all – they teach you and help you Know the Gospel more deeply. Secondly – small groups get you into a more up close and personal environment with other believers. They help encourage you – inspire you – hold you accountable – pray for you. Small groups tend to be where we minister to one another (which is Living the gospel) and often times – you can bring a friend to a small group (Share the gospel). Small groups are essential and the reality for us is – we have a lot of our people involved in small groups – but as our church grows – we need to create more. Not only that – but we need to continue training up new small group leaders! This is an area of huge need for us and we need to take intentional steps to work on this.

b. New/young believer next steps mentoring: I’m becoming more and more convinced that maybe the reason why God doesn’t bring new believers to some churches is because those churches wouldn’t know what to do with a new believer if they had one. Do we have a plan in place to mentor new and young believers? Do we have a team of people who can disciple/mentor? Do we have accessible material that is truly helpful for those starting out in their journey – to build roots in their faith? This is another area we are going to need to develop. Recently – we have been reviewing new believer material and will be offering a class down the road for people who are interested in being mentors/disciplers.

c. Continue offering resources for people wanting to grow deeper in their journey with Jesus. I’ve had a dream that we could have something called a “Center for Spiritual Renewal” here at our church. To be honest – I’m not sure what that would look like – but my hope is that we’ll have something up and running in a few years that is a powerful resource to help people grow in their relationship with Christ!

Let me take a break for a moment to highlight something. These concerns fall under one team: “Adult Discipleship” – and for the last couple years; that team has been without leadership. WE need a leader to take this challenge – to take this team and run with it! Please pray about this! This is such a vital area of development and growth for our church and we need a leader in there to partner with me to develop these crucial ministries. Man you wanna talk about making an impact for the Kingdom of God and here at our church?  Being part of this team will do that!!

2) Missions and Outreach

As a church – we must reach out. It is simply naive and we would be gravely misled to believe that the world is just going to come to us and ask us what the gospel is and then get saved and all we have to do is sit here and wait. That is not the story I see in the Bible and it’s not what I see in every day life. Now, I’m not saying this never happens – but the majority of the time – we need to get out there and reach our community – our town – our state – our world. As a church we need to be a force of blessing and love in the name of Christ – with the express purpose of winning others over to Jesus! We need to do this and if we don’t we are being disobedient to the calling of Christ in our lives. That may sound blunt and that is because I am being blunt. 🙂 The biggest pressure we are going to face is to keep our faith “In house” so to speak – but Christ calls us to “Go public” with the gospel. So where are some areas we will be making steps?

a. An annual missions trip. Every year our church will be doing an annual missions trip. This is a huge undertaking but it is deeply worth it. I’d like to see us do more missions work in conjunction with our denomination. They have a missions arm called: “Reachglobal.” It’s an amazing organization. Here’s their website: http://go.efca.org/ministries/reachglobal

So this is going to be an area of focus – we need to be a church that supports and goes on missions trips. I want to invite you to consider that you may be called on one of these trips with us. I can guarantee you that while a missions trip may be challenging for you – it will touch your life. The story I hear over and over again is how grateful the person who went on a mission trip is because they went. A missions trip can be challenging – tough to raise funds – but it is deeply worth it and it is within our calling as Christians to Go into ALL the world and make disciples.

b. Local outreach events – we will continue to focus on blessing our community and helping those in need. My hope is that many in our church will be able to testify to how God used them in this community because they jumped in with local outreach efforts..

c. Fighting human trafficking: Here in Los Angeles – we have one of the largest human trafficking hubs in the world. There are a variety of ways to get involved with fighting this horribly tragic movement in our town – and currently we are researching and looking for ways to get our church involved. Please be on the lookout for this.

So these are our major areas of “next step” development. Please keep Dennis, myself, our other elders and team leaders in prayer because they are continuing to need God’s leading and blessing. I’m so very thankful for these faithful men and women and am looking forward to more ministry ahead. Please be in prayer for our church in these ways:

1) God would inspire us as individuals to evangelize – to build relationships and seize opportunities God gives us to share the gospel with people who don’t know Jesus! This church doesn’t grow because of its pastor – it grows because people in the congregation get committed to the mission of outreach in our community and to our oikos. Please pray our people would get inspired and become a force of sharing the gospel.

2) Please pray for God to raise up new leaders for our adult discipleship team – our missions and outreach teams – our children’s and youth ministry – and our worship team.

3) Please pray for a radical movement of God’s Spirit in our midst and through us – that we would be empowered to love and to meet needs in very real ways – and that we would be given a vision for how we can do that.

Thanks everybody- have a wonderful week!!!

Pastor Ryan