2nd look

Fear God

“When we approach God – the only accurate and healthy option is fear.”
The neighborhood I grew up in was on a hill. My best friend, Chris, lived at the top, I lived on the bottom. I would often go to Chris’s house after school – we’d watch MTV – pretend to do homework – play video games and eat whatever was in sight. Hey Michelle, if you ever read this – I owe you dinner.

Anyway – it was very typical for me, when I went to Chris’s house, to take my skateboard with me and when I went home I’d ride. In those days all of us traveled by skateboard. The ride from Chris’s house to mine was about a quarter of a mile – most of it straight downhill. You could really get flying on the way by crouching real low on your board – thus decreasing your drag and rocket downhill – watching the asphalt rush by you like a river below your feet. The danger of falling was always very real but that is what made it exciting.

One day – we were at Chris’s house and we all decided to ride down the hill to my house – Chris was out of food. ūüôā So we all grabbed our boards and headed out. But before we left Chris told us that he had been thinking of doing an experiment. He was a math whiz – computer and science genius, but after this day I learned even though you may have a high IQ it doesn’t mean you’re smart. Chris had been calculating and planning. He believed he could ride down this hill balancing on his skateboard with his knees. He was going to ride the hill kneeling!

We told him we thought this was a stupid idea. We called him names and said it would never work. Chris calmly argued using his reason and calculations he had made. He truly believed by properly apportioning his weight he could make up for the increase of speed and bumpiness in the ride. He also told us he would employ a technique of holding his arms out to his side using them like a balancing pole. He had it all figured out. There would be no swaying him from his mission. So we let it go.

We set off down the hill. There was Jeff, Chris and I. Jeff used the “crouching tiger” technique and blasted downhill at hair raising speed. I used a very casual slow weave technique pretending I was surfing a lazy wave. Both Jeff and I got to the bottom of the hill before Chris. We stopped and looked uphill. He had gotten about a quarter of the way down. His arms were straight like arrows pointed horizontally, mimicking the balancing pole. He was in his kneeling position; facing forward on his board with his lower legs and feet splayed behind him; resting on the backside of the board. He was going straight down the hill at a slower pace. Everything seemed to be going well until he started to gain speed.

He couldn’t weave to make his board slow down – or kick his board’s nose up to make the tail drag. He couldn’t put a foot down because he was on his knees. All he could do was submit to the fact the board was speeding up and he could do nothing to stop it. He would later tell me he wasn’t afraid of this because he knew it would happen and he would make proper adjustments . . . But what Chris did not account for was something the speed would do to his balance. As he went faster – the board began to wobble and weave below his knees. Normally, when you are standing you can adjust to this by bending your knees and using your legs like shock absorbers, but since Chris was only using the legs above his knees – he began to sway in his hips – which knocked off his balance.

Jeff and I stood at the bottom of the hill and watched as my friend’s experiment went terribly wrong. In a brief instant his board slightly snagged on something in the road and because it was already bobbing and weaving the wheel’s edge caught too much and sent the board twirling sideways from beneath his knees. Chris kept going however; inertia kicked in and he was propelled forward; knees down into the hard asphalt. We watched my friend bounce on his knees; then fly up and crash down again on those knees before he would roll into the curb. As the good friends we were – we raced to his rescue, and I’d like to say I didn’t laugh but approached him with concern and sympathy, but that would be a lie. I laughed the whole way there. I laughed for weeks afterwards. I’m still smiling today.

What was Chris’s mistake? He didn’t respect the hill. He didn’t respect the speed and what it would do to his balance. He didn’t respect and he paid dearly for it. Chris would ride that hill again. For him to never ride it would be an improper fear. Chris rode that hill on his feet. He rode it with respect because he now knew what could happen if he didn’t. After that day – Chris found that the only option he had when approaching the hill with his board – was fear and respect. With God it is the same way. We saw how the Israelites were encountering God and there was no option for them but fear. There was either the improper fear which leads to mistrust and distance from God – or there was proper fear which led to them not sinning; them living in respect and obedience. The hard part for us is that we Christians often forget that there is no option¬†for us when we approach God. We may play games with God – don’t take Him seriously; offer Him part of our lives but not the whole; play “Good Christian” when others are watching and yet behind the scenes live with compromised integrity. We treat God like that hill – playing games – trusting our own intuition all the while heading for a crash – destructive consequences. We can get sucked into this idea that the way we live doesn’t matter to God now that we have Jesus and yet it seems nothing can be further from the truth.

To be sure – we are loved and forgiven because of Jesus and nothing will really take that away – and yet we are saved for a purpose. We are called to become more and more like Jesus and this movement involves obedience; and submission to God. This movement involves respect – reverence – fear. Here’s the question I want to leave you with to ponder this week:

What does your fear of God look like? Is it an improper fear that mistrusts God – fears Him and even looks at Him as a harsh father who seeks to hurt His children? Or is your fear a proper fear? Is it more about reverence, respect; obedience; and submission? This is a proper fear; knowing you owe everything to Him and He is absolutely worthy of your praise and obedience. Or perhaps you fall in the third category – where you don’t fear at all. In many ways you live as if God has redeemed you then lost interest. So now you can live for whatever you wish to live for. This may be a category that is more fraught with peril than the other two because we really don’t take into account whom we are messing with. Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not saying God is going to strike you down with a heart attack if you sin and are disobedient to Him – but He can. He is that powerful and wise. I think we go against His counsel and design to our own peril and yet we choose this path quite often. What fear do you have of God: improper; proper; or absent? Let this be a matter of discussion for you and the Lord this week.

May you be blessed in the Grace of God!
Pastor Ryan



Law vs. Grace

Hello Everyone,
I’m sitting here very excited. The last 7 weeks have been a very challenging study of the “law” portion of Exodus. I’m very grateful to God for His guiding in this time because as I said when we started this – I was not looking forward to teaching the law. He has been very faithful. With this said – let me invite you to not let your study end there. There is always something to learn from God’s Word and I invite you to go deeper with this. There are great online resources and commentaries out there that can help you grow deeper in your study of any passage of Scripture. I truly hope you have been blessed and challenged in this study. To be honest, I’m still being challenged from the sermon on murder and adultery. The study for that sermon – preaching it and my own reflections have continued to speak to me and it has honestly been unsettling to me at times. (I referred to this earlier in one of my 2nd looks.) I hope that God has touched your life through our study as He has touched mine.
¬† ¬† Okay – so what is our second look this week? ¬†Well – on Sunday we spoke about a lot of things – basically we spoke of lessons we can learn from the law. ¬†As Christians, the Old Testament law has a different significance for us than it did the ancient Israelites. ¬†There are many wonderful things we can learn from the law but it wasn’t necessarily written to us. ¬†The law doesn’t save us – it’s not designed to. ¬†Following the law doesn’t make God happy with us so that someday we’ll go to heaven. ¬†If anything, the law can show us how guilty we truly are. ¬†The law for us as Christians – is a beautiful portrait of a perfect and holy God – calling His people – who He redeemed – to follow Him. This is a powerful lesson to learn from the law: to see the holiness of God in its words and to see that¬†Redemption leads to a calling.¬†Let me repeat that –¬†Redemption leads to a calling.¬†¬†This has been something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. ¬†Like many of you; I’ve grown up in the church – grown up around Christianity. ¬†For much of that time – I thought God was angry and displeased with me because I wasn’t following the “rules.” Then when I entered my late teens and early adulthood, I began to bristle against. this. ¬†I was tired of feeling like a screw up – tired of feeling guilty. ¬†I began to lean away from the law; to lean away from feeling obligated in my faith – to God. I didnt want to read books by anybody who made me feel bad about myself or my faith. In my early twenties I discovered “grace.” I became this big “grace” guy – God has given us grace and even if I screw up and don’t follow Him He will still love me…. So…. this means it doesn’t really matter what I do.
¬† ¬† ¬† But then addiction entered my life and there was this huge battle between grace that gives me permission to do whatever I want – and the law written in me that said I need to be perfect to please God. I couldn’t balance this. Is God mad at me for all the ways I stink and fail Him – or is He happy with me even though I hurt myself; Him and others? ¬†Which is it???
¬† ¬† ¬† Now here I am in the last year of my thirties and beginning to see that my picture of grace can be destructive. ¬†Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my heroes writes in his book- “The Cost Of Discipleship”; that there are two kinds of grace:¬†Cheap¬†and¬†Costly. ¬†He says¬†Cheap¬†grace is actually at war against the church and it is an incredibly destructive force. ¬†Cheap¬†grace basically is the kind of grace that says: ¬†“It doesn’t matter what I do – God will always love me anyway – so I don’t need to follow Him or submit to Him.”¬†Costly¬†grace; the right kind according to Bonhoeffer; basically says: ¬†“We didn’t deserve Christ but in His grace God gave Him to us and as a result we are no longer our own but we belong to Him. ¬†We don’t live any way we want because we have received God’s costly grace and are His now. ¬†Our redemption leads to a calling“.
¬† ¬† ¬†This is something we need to think about and ponder as Christians. The Apostle Paul writes about this when he says: “You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”¬†The law reminds Israel and us that they were redeemed for a purpose. ¬†Paul reminds us we have been redeemed for good works – to be God’s masterpiece. Think about it – when we don’t do these good works that God has set aside for us – we aren’t living the ” God’s workmanship” life that we were meant for. I can’t help but wonder the untold amount of good deeds left undone – all that has been lost. ¬†Have you heard of the principle of compounding interest? ¬†It basically says – if you invest a little bit of money in a savings account – or some kind of investment account; and you do this over a long time – the interest will grow and compound and you can become quite wealthy as a result. But if you don’t do this – it will be that much more difficult to raise money in the short time. You can likely lose thousands or millions of dollars in compounding interest! I can’t help but wonder how many good deeds have gone undone and have been lost – in my life; many of them small deeds that over time compound our impact for the kingdom – like compounding interest; and when we fail to do these small deeds – the impact is lost. ¬†We are redeemed by Jesus for a purpose! The law teaches us that. What is your purpose? And what are the things that hinder you from pursuing that?
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Maybe this week is a great time to bring this question before God – Lord, what are the good works You prepared for me to do in advance? Is there anything hindering me in that process? Take this before God and let Him lead you in this; but be ready because this question usually results in action. ¬†He’s got plans for you my friend. ¬†Have a great week!
 
Pastor Ryan
 


Contentment

Hello everyone,
My day has begun with a very reflective note. Tim Deaver sent me a link to a video about a man who stands outside one of the most “busy” abortion clinics in the US. This man has devoted himself to standing there and preaching and handing out booklets – praying for young women – and giving himself; rain or shine; to the defense of those who have no voice: the unborn. In the video we see this man faithfully standing there – not abusing people but offering the love of Christ and begging them to reconsider their actions. I have attached the¬†link here. It’s about 8 minutes long, but very thought provoking.
This last Sunday we closed the service talking about contentment. The thought I shared was that our contentment is impacted greatly by our view of this life. Do we truly believe and live like this life is all there is? Because if we do – then of course we would want a bigger house – more fun – more money – more influence – a replacement of our spouse – better health – etc – and we might grow disillusioned or discontent with our lives as they currently are. It’s at those moments we become more susceptible to coveting what belongs to others and more susceptible to stealing – or lying – or adultery – or dropping our sabbath – or worshipping things that are man-made or created. Things can go sideways for us and at the heart is this question – do I believe and live like this world is all there is?

Or . . .

Do I believe there is a greater reality that is outside this world? Is there a kingdom being built on this earth that is eternal? If there is – then maybe some of the things we often get discontented with are actually not as important as we think. I’m not saying we should forget our jobs – our families – ditch out on our mortgages and stop paying taxes then move to a mountain convent somewhere; because “hey – this life isn’t that important.” No I’m not saying this. It’s important to pay our mortgages – pay our taxes, love our families – take care of our bodies – work hard – these are all good things; but sometimes they become more important than the calling of God in our lives. Sometimes our priorities are out of whack. We may work hard at our jobs but NOT because we see our job as a place where we can worship God – serve Him and share the gospel with others. Rather we work hard to build our own kingdom on earth; to amass wealth and influence. When we do this – things can go sideways. The question is – “What am I living for: this world – or for eternity?” Is eternity what drives our values and actions.
The Apostle Paul says: “Set your minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” I’ve heard some people say: “That boy is so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good.”¬†But unfortunately what happens is – that many are so earthly minded they are no heavenly good. Do we see this life as all there is?
Now back to this guy in front of the abortion clinic. I see a story like this and I’m reminded of this reality: what it could look like for a man to get excited about doing eternal things. According to this video – since the guy started his ministry he’s helped save over a thousand babies and ministered to many pregnant women. Here’s a guy who is so heavenly minded he’s doing a lot of earthly good. It challenges me. I dream of seeing people get motivated to do eternal things while here on earth. I dream of being used by God to help people find God’s heavenly calling in their lives.
Do you have questions about God’s calling for you? Let’s talk about it. Call me – email me – let’s set up on appointment to sit down and discuss this. Take time to pray on this and ask God what His calling is for you but be warned – if you start looking for this – if you really take God seriously here and are willing to follow – HE WILL ANSWER YOU! It will be a ride – an adventure.

May God bless you this week! 

Pastor Ryan


Murder? Adultery?

Hi SNC Fam,
Man this last Sunday felt heavy. ¬†I don’t know if you felt it – but this was one of the most challenging sermons I feel I’ve preached in a very long time. ¬†Not just because of the material itself but because of how God challenged me in preparing it. ¬†Let me explain…
¬† ¬† As last week progressed, I was thinking about how I would preach this sermon – the content of what I was sharing with you all – when a thought began to come to mind about some people I know. ¬†I don’t know them well – as a matter of fact, I do not know their name but one thing I’m certain of – they are drug users. ¬†We call them “meth-heads.” I’ve run into them several time because they live on my street and God has directed me to pray for them. I rarely see them and usually when I do I’m heading out so it’s difficult to stop and talk with them…. But I’m practically certain they are drug users…
¬† ¬† God has placed a soft spot in my heart for them – has reminded me of them often and yet I have really not reached out to them. My thought process is –
”¬†well I don’t really want to bother them – or they wouldn’t want to talk with me – seems like a waste of time. ¬†I don’t want to throw my “Pearls before swine so to speak…”
¬† ¬† But if I was really honest – and God led me to this last week – I deep down believe that to talk with them would be a waste of time — because they are a waste of time. After all – they are “meth heads” – there is no way they could receive the gospel and there is no way they could really change and if they even wanted it – would I really be willing to help them????
¬† ¬† And then Jesus says- “if you call your brother a ‘Raca’ or a fool”- it’s like you murdered them. ¬†It’s not that I call them names although that really can be quite debilitating and painful – it’s that I’ve come to label them in my mind. ¬†I’ve come to believe this lie about them. I don’t see these people trapped in drug abuse as God’s creation – beloved by Him so much that He would send His Son to die for them. ¬†I see them as a waste of time…
     Can you imagine how much this nailed me to the wall???  Here I am preaching about this and confronted with the deep dark truth of my own heart. Oh God have mercy on me Рa murderer and adulterer Рa sinner. Oh God what would You have me do?  Oh God Рplease change me Рlet me live by Your Word Рbelieving that You are speaking to me through it.  Oh God through the power of your Spirit Рlet me not label people Рor tear them down in my heart or with my words. Oh Lord that You might lead me in a mission to bring light to this dark world and to build Your kingdom. Oh God have mercy on me a sinner.
     I want to close this post with a song.  the starting stanze to the song says this:
Lord, I want to feel your heart
And see the world through your eyes
I want to be your hands and feet
I want to live a life that leads
¬† ¬† ¬†This is true of my heart for us all. ¬†It’s hard to admit that our hearts can be dark places and yet we have found the truth – Jesus who loves us in spite of our brokenness.. ¬†May we see the world through His eyes. ¬†And may you be blessed this week. ¬†Enjoy the song!
Blessings
Pastor Ryan


What does it mean to “honor your father and mother?”

Hi everyone,
I truly hope you had a wonderful sabbath celebration. If you joined us last Sunday then you may remember we spoke about our relationships with our parents and the 5th Commandment which is: “Honor your father and mother.” As I said – for some of us; this is a heavy commandment; one that involves pain – bitterness – regret – and all kinds of other feelings; and yet this is an area that I believe – if it is observed – can lead to a great deal of freedom and healing in our lives. It can lead to us walking unentangled with Christ and seeing a great deal of fruit produced. But as with many good things in this world – it doesn’t come easily. In fact – it may even feel impossible. You may find that in your heart there is no desire to honor your parents. All you may have there is a desire to HAVE a desire.

If this is true of you – then the very first place to begin is prayer. The Bible tells us God has placed His Spirit in your heart to re-form you into the image of Christ. The goal: We look more and more like Jesus. Jesus honored His Father – and His earthly parents. It wasn’t always easy. But God places His Spirit in your heart to make you open to the things that He wants. Maybe the very first place to begin is with prayer.

The tragedy of the Ten Commandments is that they are impossible to observe and that we are doomed to fail them. The beautiful truth of the Ten Commandments is that we are doomed to fail them . . . And God knew that. This is why He sent Jesus and why He puts His Spirit in our lives to walk with us to guide us; and to work His fruit in us. So naturally, the first place to turn with this issue is to Him. I want to invite you to let this be your prayer if you are struggling with this commandment – or any of God’s other commandments:

Dear Father God,
I recognize you are the Almighty Living God of the universe and there is none who equals You. I trust Your wisdom and Your love for me. I trust that You would invite me to a journey with You where I walk with hope; meaning and freedom. Thank You for all You’ve done for me.

Lord I need to confess that some of what You have called me to is difficult – and sometimes it feels impossible. This is where God, I need You to lead me by Your Spirit. Oh Father help me to follow You – to obey You – because right now there is a part of me that doesn’t want to. Please change my heart in this. Please help me desire what You desire. Please help me trust You when my desire isn’t there. And please remind me of the grace You’ve given me in Jesus. I thank You Jesus for dying for me on the cross; and I praise You because Your sacrifice is enough! Oh Lord may Your will be done in and through me. Be honored my King, my Savior, my God. I love You because You first loved me.

There have been multiple moments in my life where I have confronted callousness; deadness; numbness; belligerence and anger even towards God. Where I’ve had to ask God to accept that this is simply true of me and that I desperately needed Him to do some surgery on my heart – to change me and help me. God has shown up in those moments to begin new movements in my life – but sometimes the biggest thing is to simply be honest about where you are at. My hope and prayer for you this week – is for you to be reminded of God’s great love for you and His great wisdom that He truly knows the best way for us to live – and that God would give you desire and strength to follow Him.

Be Blessed Everyone,
Pastor Ryan



Celebrate the Sabbath!

Hi SNC friends!
This past week we talked about the 4th commandment – “The Sabbath.” At the end of the sermon I invited you to join me on an experiment of observing the Sabbath for a month. The first step is to decide which day you will observe as the Sabbath. It needs to be a day you can stop working; slow down in life and take time to rest; get refreshed and be attentive to God. This is going to require preparation and trust. One of the first suggestions I made was to take time to think about what is truly restful for you. My suggestion was to make a graph on a piece of paper with two columns. ¬†One column is labeled: “Restful activities;” the other column is labeled: “Not restful activities.” Then list activities in these columns – that you find yourself doing; that would fit into these categories. On your Sabbath day it might be advisable to do things that you find to be truly restful or refreshing for you.

Let me suggest that you join me this week in observing the Sabbath; and please make note of what kind of impact; if any at all; this practice has had for you. Was it difficult? What about it made this so? Was it restful for you? Not restful? Take time to make note of this and then let me know how it goes!

I have included a website with a few practical suggestions for how to approach Sabbath. May God bless you in your week ahead!

http://harriscreek.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/practicing-sabbath/

Pastor Ryan



How to worship God

Hello everyone,
We have pressed our way through the first three commandments. These are really all about how we approach God – what priority does He have in our life – how we are to worship Him and revere Him. One of the big emphases I’ve been trying to make is just how God’s commandments, to them, were truly unique in that day and age. The cultures around them did not worship God and did not worship the way He was calling the Israelites to. The Israelites were to be a light shining in the world – to show people the beauty of knowing the one true God – and that is why it was so important not to misuse His name.

Nowadays – we believe that we, as the Christian church, are God’s people. We are a light unto the world. Last Sunday I highlighted Hebrews 12:1 that says: ¬†“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

The question with the ten commandments isn’t how do we make God pleased enough with us to let us into heaven; but rather it is – how do we run the race of life with God and not get ensnared; entangled and hindered? The ten commandments paints a picture of a life set apart with God – a life where we don’t get entangled.

As you proceed through this week – this is a question I’d like to invite you to take before the Lord. God, what is entangling me? Is there a god in my life I have worshipped? Is there an idol in my life, something created that I have come to worship instead of You? Is there something hindering me? My invitation to you is – if there is something; use this opportunity to bring this before the Lord and to help you move beyond this – and then get someone who’s involved at the church – someone you trust – get them involved; so they can pray for you and walk with you through this.

To be honest; this can be an extremely painful thing – it may involve us letting go of some things that feel sacred to us and yet these things have entangled us. The question is – how far are you willing to go to be free?

One last thing . . . I’ve attached (below) the lyrics to, perhaps, my favorite song of all time and a link to this song (click here). Whenever we talk about these issues – it’s important to be reminded of just how much God loves us and that even though we find that we truly are beggars at the foot of God’s door – we have found grace there. I pray these things will be at the forefront of your mind this week. Blessings!

Pastor Ryan

We Are the Beggars at the Foot of God’s Door

We are gathered in cathedrals on a Sunday

We are shrouded in our pride and lust’s despair

We have heard that You said to go to where your hearts once were

Trusting we’d arrive to find You there

We have known the empty senses of a funeral

We are haunted by the promises of death

We have asked to see Your face and noticed nothing

But a well-timed honest smile from a friend

Oh we of little faith

Oh You of stubborn grace

We are the beggars at the foot of God’s door

We have grown cold to the kisses of our lovers

We have rolled the windows up and driven though

the forests of the autumn

The innocence of snow

The metaphor of Jesus in the dew

We have known the heated passion of the cold night

We have sold ourselves to everything we hate

We’re hypocrites and politicians running from a fight

We’ve cheated on a very jealous mate

Oh we of little faith

Oh You of stubborn grace

We are the beggars at the foot of God’s door

 We have known the pain of loving in a dying world
And our lies have made us angry at the truth
But Cinderella’s slipper fits us perfectly
And somehow we’re made royalty with You

Oh we of little faith

Oh You of stubborn grace

We are the beggars at the foot of God’s door

 

And You welcome us in



Freedom in the Law

Hello SNC family,

In Psalm 119:45 the psalmist writes:
” I will walk about in Freedom; for I have sought out your precepts.”
Later he says that he loves the law of God.
¬† ¬† ¬†I have to admit – for much of my life I have looked at the law with an eye of suspicion. ¬†Not because I felt it was a lie – but because I knew it was impossible to entirely keep and yet there was a part of me that felt it was necessary to keep this impossible law in order to please God and gain His blessing. ¬†I thought God gave us the law to tell us all we couldn’t do – to erase our freedom and tie us down – to be a cosmic killjoy. ¬†But Psalm 145 – in its entirety paints a completely different picture of the law. ¬†It is the longest Psalm, all broken into stanzas that begin with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. ¬†It is a grand treatise on what the law can mean to us.
¬† ¬† And in verse 45; the psalmist says this incredibly puzzling statement – He says he walks in freedom because he has sought out God’s precepts (His law). ¬†Is he actually saying here what it sounds like – that the law- enacted into every day life – actually brings freedom???? ¬†To be sure – we’re not free to just do whatever we want – but when we walk in God’s law we experience a different kind of freedom – spiritual freedom – emotional freedom – freedom of conscience.
¬† ¬† ¬† After I began to enter a phase of aggressively seeking to find recovery in my addiction – I began to become confronted with a question. ¬†Why doesn’t God want me to do this behavior? ¬† You can put any sin in there. ¬†Why doesn’t God want me to lie – why doesn’t he want me to dishonor my parents – or to sleep with my neighbors wife – WHY? ¬†Why doesn’t God want me to get drunk; or use drugs? ¬†I remember a conversation I had with a guy who told me he didn’t want to ¬†follow God – or go to church because he didn’t want to stop drinking alcohol or smoking cigarrettes. ¬†Which prompted me to ask him: “Why do you think God wants you to stop drinking and smoking?”¬†He said: “Because those are bad things.”¬†I said: “alcohol use is not prohibited by scripture; being drunk is. ¬†I think we know enough to know that smoking is a destructive behavior physically but so is eating pounds of sugar a day. ¬†There’s a Scripture where the apostle Paul says: ¬†‘All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial; all things are permissible but I will not be a slave of anything.’ The biggest issue for God is if you become a slave of something – like alcohol or smoking because that is not beneficial. ¬†Jesus drank alcohol but He wasn’t a slave to it.”
¬† ¬† The man told me he hadn’t thought of it that way. The point I was trying to make was similar to what we see in Psalm 145 – and I think what we find as we build our lives on the ten commandments and the teachings of God ¬†– we find real life; freedom. When we look at God’s teachings we see a deep wisdom given to us for how life is meant to be lived – and that’s what makes the law so powerful. It’s blueprint for healthy living that starts with God’s grace offered to us freely in Jesus Christ.
Let me invite you to take some time this week to read Psalm 145. ¬†This man who writes this doesn’t see the law as a big colossal bummer – but rather as a life-giving solid path to follow the God who has freely given him love and blessing. ¬†Let me warn you though – this Psalm is a marathon – it’s quite long so give yourself some time to sit with it and chew on it. ¬†Be blessed this week!
Pastor Ryan


Isaiah’s Commission

Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah’s Commission

1) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2) Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3) And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4) At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5) “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” 6) Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7) With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8) Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Hello everyone, I truly hope you are having a great start to your week. ¬†I can’t speak for everyone – but I know for myself – this last Sunday was a powerful reminder of how awesome and great our God is. ¬†If you are anything like me – then you have been someone who has tried to fit God in a tiny box – reducing Him to bite size level so that you can understand, manipulate, or just feel comfortable with Him. ¬†On Sunday I asked you to imagine you had wallet size photos and one of them was a picture of God. ¬†The question was – what does this picture look like? ¬†Many of us in the evangelical church have grown to really grasp a hold of God as loving; kind; patient and gracious – and to be sure; He is. ¬†But we often lose sight of this other side of God – powerful, mighty, majestic, just; a warrior. ¬†We can’t have one picture of God without the other or we run the risk of making Him an idol in our lives: a manmade god we worship. ¬†We need to have a picture of God that is as accurate as ¬†possible for our understanding, otherwise we begin to get in trouble.


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2nd Look – The Practice Of The Presence of God

Hello friends! Preparing for this week’s Second Look – I was reminded of a book I read in college that continues to challenge me to this day. It was written by Brother Lawrence and titled:¬†“The Practice Of The Presence of God.”¬†I would love for each of you to pick this book up and read it but I understand that may not be realistic, so how about I give you some quotes from this extremely thought provoking book. Perhaps this week you can sit with these quotes and ask yourself the questions and take time before the Lord in prayer:

  • How often am I aware of God’s nearness to me?
  • In what ways do I live that reflects or shows that I am aware He is near to me?
  • In what ways do I live that is more me counting on myself rather than on God?
  • What are some things in my life that may blind me – or distract me from God’s presence?

Six quotes from “The Practice Of The Presence Of God” by Brother Lawrence

“There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

“We should fix ourselves firmly in the presence of God by conversing all the time with Him . . . we should feed our soul with a lofty conception of God and from that derive great joy in being His. We should put life in our faith. We should give ourselves utterly to God in pure abandonment, in temporal and spiritual matters alike, and find contentment in the doing of His will, whether He takes us through sufferings or consolations.”

“Let us think often that our only business in this life is to please God. Perhaps all besides is but folly and vanity.”

“He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us that we think.”

“Think often on God, by day, by night, in your business and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone.”

“I regard myself as the most wretched of all men, stinking and covered with sores, and as one who has committed all sorts of crimes against his King. Overcome by remorse, I confess all my wickedness to Him, ask His pardon and abandon myself entirely to Him to do with as He will. But this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways; He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them; I beg Him to make me according to His heart and always the more weak and despicable I see myself to be, the more beloved I am of God.”

It blows me away to think of the potential – to have this moment by moment relationship with our Lord. How powerful and wonderful this can be! I pray this inspires you this week – that we have a great opportunity presented to us every moment. To meet with our Savior! May you experience His love, mercy and nearness to you this week!