2nd look

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!


2nd Look – Thinking Like Jesus

Hi everyone-
Welcome to 2nd look.  This last week we talked about thinking like Jesus; how we are meant to think more and more the way He does.  You may have noticed, this is a very intentional process.  We don’t really stumble upon it.  Certainly the Holy Spirit does a great deal of work in us to get us ready for this process of Christlike thinking; and then to help us throughout.  We may stumble upon truths because He leads us to them, but in the end, I truly believe our growth in our thought life has a great deal to do with our openness to it.  In my research last week I stumbled upon this short article in Charisma magazine about having the “Mind of Christ”.  I thought the author has some very insightful things to say and some great questions.  Let me invite you to read the article and sit with the questions she asks during your times with the Lord this week.

Have a great week everybody and may God’s will be done in our lives

Pastor Ryan

2nd Look 6.7.13

Hi everyone . . .
This 2nd look is special because it will also go to our PROJECT BLESSING people. The reason? Because this week we spoke about how Jesus lived a lifestyle of blessing and that as Christians who are on a journey to become more and more like Him – we will inevitably be called towards this lifestyle as well. Jesus blessed others – He did it naturally; daily; repeatedly; pretty much wherever He went. It blows me away to think we can do this too. Think of all the lives we can impact with this kind of lifestyle! Yes it involves sacrifice. It involves times where we are way out beyond our comfort zone – inconvenienced; but I can only imagine what kind of legacy we leave behind. Recently my mother announced her retirement after working in education for nearly 40 years! We had a huge party for her. There were close to 150 people there. My mother is someone who lives a lifestyle of blessing; not just with her family but with those she works with – her friends; people at church, etc.
It was so awesome to hear many of her co-workers get up and share how my mother has blessed them. We laughed, we cried; we rememberd. As the big retirement party progressed, I couldn’t help but be in awe of how God has used my mother to bless so many and in that process – has created a huge legacy through my mom. She has touched so many lives; all from this lifestyle of blessing she lives.
What does it look like to have a huge group of people devoted to living a lifestyle of blessing? What would the outcome be if those people not only blessed others but helped others catch the vision for this lifestyle as well? You could have a movement of blessing! God empowering peoples’ lives to bless others wherever they went.
One question you might have is: “Doesn’t this seem a bit far fetched; to build a lifestyle on blessing others?” Maybe. Or maybe the truth is that we all build a lifestyle on something. We all have things we choose to value – to pursue in life. These values are reflected in our day to day decisions, priorities and behaviors. I think the real question is not – “can I do this; or can I live this lifestyle of blessing;” but rather – “do I choose to pursue this and trust God will meet me and empower me to do this?”
A series like this; ChristLike In A Post Christ World – really gets at the heart of the question – What does it mean to be like Jesus – to live the way He did? Each sermon is looking at something He prioritized and lived. It can feel a bit overwhelming to walk away from every sermon with the question of if we are doing these things that we see Jesus doing. It may be easier to look at each of these sermons as movements in our lives that God is developing at different speeds in different ways. In other words – you may be at different places with each movement. For example – you may have no problem being around different people and blessing them – but prayer may be an issue for you; one that God is really working on. These sermons; these different aspects of Jesus life that it seems we are called to live; will all happen in their own way and own timing. One example from my life: I began to learn the value of blessing others in college and bought into it right away – but in my heart of hearts I didn’t really buy in to the fact that everyone was a candidate to receive blessing – not just a select few that I believed “deserved” it. I didn’t grasp or approve of the fact that Jesus blessed the Different; Dirty and Debauched of His society; and I am called to as well. It’s taken me years to come to grips with that and to become obedient to it (and to be honest; God is still working on my with this).
So every week in this series we are looking at Jesus and exploring how God is developing His ways in my life. I would invite you to join me in this movement of blessing! That’s why it’s not too lat for you with PROJECT BLESSING. Yes we are well into it – but if you haven’t started this – or if you’ve lost track with it – jump back in! The PROJECT operates with seveal guidelines in place:
1. Bless someone in your close family or friends network once a week.
2. Bless your church once a month (this is in addition to tithing).
3. Bless your community once every three months.
To bless someone means to meet a need – spiritual, emotional or physical.
Let’s see what God will do through us as we seek to bless others. I think you might be surprised to see what happens.

Have a wonderful week everybody!
Pastor Ryan

Second Look at the Lord’s Prayer

Hello SNC brothers and sisters!
Last week we looked at how Jesus is a man of prayer and how He taught us to pray. We looked at Matthew chapter 6 verses 9-13 and examined the prayer in depth. Let me remind you of the different elements Jesus mentions below:

Our Father, who is in Heaven, hallowed be your name
The first element is to celebrate God’s greatness – to revere His name.

Your kingdom come; Your will be done
The 2nd element is a prayer and desire to see God’s will realized – to pray for what God wants to actually take place.

Give us this day our daily bread
This part of the prayer recognizes our need for Him every day; that He provides for us; and we place our trust in Him to take care of our needs.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
We recognize the fact that we need His forgiveness and that we have received it; and then we seek His help to forgive others. That His forgiveness of us – frees us up to forgive others…

Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from the evil one
This is a prayer of strengthening in our trials to keep us from falling into temptation or to even going where temptation is likely to strike us.
This is also a prayer asking for deliverance from the Evil one. It recognizes we are in a spiritual battle against a very real enemy.

I finished with the question – how are you praying lately?  As I was thinking of this short article I thought how cool it would be to actually take a day to focus in my prayers on one element at a time.  Or to take a week and really take extra time during my prayers to focus on one element. I’m a big fan of trying new things with prayer. I look at it kind of like going out on a date with my spouse. I don’t always want to go to the same place or do the same things – want some variety, some adventure, some sizzle!  Maybe focusing on each element and approaching it from different ways might give you a renewed experience in prayer. And for those of you who are just starting out – this is a great format to use to help you get started.

Have a great week everyone!
Pastor Ryan

2nd Look 5.28.13

     When I was a college student – I had a professor named Mary Anne Lind.  She used to say something that haunts me to this day: ” Take what your most afraid of doing for the kingdom of God and go do it!”  I don’t know why this stuck with me.  Perhaps it was the sheer inspirational nature of the idea.  But nevertheless – here I am many years later still being reminded of this.
     As a Resident Director at Biola, I lived and worked with many different types of students; different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, ways of thinking, so forth.  This made for some really interesting experiences through the years.  There was one student in particular who I’m reminded of as I write this.  His name is Josh.  I remember when I first met him.  We were having an “all hall” event and amidst the chaos of 125 college students running around playing games – I saw Josh sitting with his arms folded along the wall – a frown on his face; looking to be having a horrible time.  Each arm was covered in tattoos; as was what I could see of his chest.  He was wearing a thin white tank top.  In addition to this he had a shaved head and thick glasses.  My first thought of him was that he looked like a skin head.
     To say Josh intimidated me was an understatement.  He looked mean; nasty and angry.  I figured, I would just keep an eye on him from afar; after all I was running an event – there was much that needed to be done.  But I couldn’t shake Josh from my mind.  Around that time- Mary Anne Lind’s voice reached out to me in my mind- “take what you’re most scared of doing for the kingdom of God and go do it”.
     So I took a deep breath and crossed the room.  He spotted me walking towards when I was about 15 feet away. His initial response was a frown in my direction and then looked away; obviously his way of saying I was not welcome.  I ignored this and kept going; sat down next to him and said: “Hey how you doing?  I’m Ryan the RD.”  He didn’t look at me and mumbled his name – “Josh”.
     I tried to make small talk but he didn’t seem interested. He told me he lived in my hall – was a freshmen and not much else.  So I said: “Well Josh, I gotta go cuz I’m leading this event.  You’re welcome to join us – or keep sitting here, it’s up to you. But let me ask you this – do you like eating?”  He looked at me with this quizzical expression and said:  “I have eaten from time to time”.
     “Great!” I replied, “Cuz I’d like to take you out to lunch.  for some reason I feel like I’d like to hear your story.  So if you’re interested let me know ok?”
     Then I walked away, wondering how many run ins I would have with Josh, certain he would never take me up on my offer.  The next morning I walked outside to find Josh had written a note on my board – it read:  “Lunch.. Tuesday.. noon- Josh.”
     So I responded with my own note: “Let me check and see if that time works for me I’ll write more later – Ryan”  Hey I wasn’t going to let this guy order me around!   Later on I confirmed that this would work.  We met on Tuesday and I asked him where he wanted to eat. He said he had a place in mind. So we got in his truck. He turned on the engine and his stereo began to blast scream-o heavy metal music; not my preference. I began to ask him about the music and appreciated the guitar virtuosity of the musicians. He began to explain his love of scream-o- showed me different songs – explained the lyrics; which were all Christian.
     We got to the restaurant and he began to transition from music into telling me his story. He came from a broken home; used to be a white supremacist skin head.  A few years before he came to Biola he got into a violent conflict with someone of a different ethnicity and it began to awaken some things in him. His life was going down a dark path and he began to explore religions. He stopped with Christianity and was now at Biola. You could tell – after speaking with Josh – that he was a very bright young man – with lots of edge to him. Very sarcastic; in your face humor; but underneath it all was this real softness towards God.
     We began to become friends that day and I got to watch as God continued to train him and lead him through Biola. Josh married a sweet and beautiful young woman of latino ethnicity named Justine.  He went on to law school. I’m sure he has gotten more tattoos and has a beautiful little baby girl. To this day – Josh wants to get me a tattoo that covers my entire chest and has promised to be right by my side on the night of Emily’s first prom – with a bat in his hand to let the young punk who comes to take my daughter on a date know that he is being watched.  🙂
     So why do I tell you this story? God taught me a huge lesson with Josh. Anyone can be reached and nobody is beyond the love and the saving work of Jesus Christ. I began to realize that I’m the kind of person who makes judgments of people merely based on how they appear to me and yet my time with Josh told me everyone has a story and they are loved by God.
     One of the big questions I left you with this Sunday was – who are “Those people” to you? The people who feel unlovable – unworthy of your time; hopeless; different; dirty? How do you treat them? We were challenged on Sunday that Jesus didn’t have “Those people”- to Him they are all just people; loved by God. This challenges me greatly but Josh is someone who has taught me more about this than most people I’ve met.
     This week, I invite you to continue considering with me this question of who “Those people” are in your life and ask God how he would like you to see them; to care for them.  My hope and prayer is that we become a church that powerfully loves and reaches out to our community.  It won’t happen without us seeing those in our community like Jesus sees them.  Be blessed this week!

Christlike 2nd Look

Hello everyone,

How do I become more like Jesus?  If this world needs Jesus – and God’s plan is to use us to bring Jesus to the world by making us more like Him while sending us out; then this question becomes even more relevant. It takes on new life for us; new significance. This is always a difficult issue to give personal examples about because you may sound like you’re bragging. “This past year, I’ve become like Jesus. Check me out!  Here’s what I do and I’m sooooo like Jesus now!!!!”.  Blech! Yuck!

So at risk of  sounding like I’m tooting my own horn – here is one thing I’ll say – as a Christian these last 25 years – I’ve found this journey of pursuing Christ and seeking to live life the way He does – to know Him – to have my character slowly transformed by Him to become more like His – has been the best thing in my life!   It hasn’t been easy – as a matter of fact; the process of becoming more and more like Christ – involves parts of me having to die to be changed. That’s not easy; but it’s worth it.  Seeking to love my wife like Christ loves His church has impacted my marriage in huge ways that have helped contribute to making it more of a safe; loving and passionate environment. Yes, we have our problems – and have experienced significant moments of struggle in our relationship but through it – I’ve seen God powerfully show up to help me love her – to own my destructive choices, attitudes and other things that hurt us. Becoming more and more like Christ has changed my marriage.

This is one example; and please know I am nowhere near believing that I have arrived; that I am completely like Christ.  if there were a “like Christ”- O – Meter; a scale of 1-10; 1 being – “not like Christ”; 10 being – “like Christ”; I’d consider myself a 3 or a 4. I still have a long way to go.

But here’s a question – is it even possible? I came across an article written by a dearly departed friend. I call him dear because the things he has written have impacted my deeply. I call him departed because he has recently gone home to be with the Lord Jesus. I call him a friend, not because  we were friends personally – but because God has used him in such powerful ways in my life. My dearly departed friend is Dallas Willard; and his article is all about looking like Jesus. Now let me warn you – this guy packs a punch – he can be a bit wordy – but there is a great deal of insight.  So let me invite you to sit down with this article this week, break it into chunks and think about what he’s saying. there’s some powerful stuff here.

Finally, let me remind you. The best first step for becoming like Christ:  get to know Him.  Sometimes I’ve found in my journey with Jesus that I need to take time to get reacquainted with Him.  This usually drives me back to the gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.  I truly hope your week is power-packed: filled by the Holy Spirit and that God uses you in wonderful ways to bring glory to His name.  Hope you enjoy the article – click here for the link.

How Post-Christian is U.S. Society? – The Barna Group

Check out the link below for a taste of what we will be talking about in the coming weeks.

The Barna Group – How Post-Christian is U.S. Society?.

Gasping for the Glory of God

Hi friends,

For this week’s second look I turn to one of my mentors in life: AW Tozer.  In this short devotional thought he takes what we discussed in church this last Sunday, to the next level.  Be careful though – this is a very challenging little article.  you may not be the same once you’ve read this…  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Have a great week!

Gasping for the Glory of God

True spirituality manifests itself in certain dominant desires. These are ever-present, deep-settled wants sufficiently powerful to motivate and control the life. For convenience let me number them, though I make no effort to decide the order of their importance. 1. First is the desire to be holy rather than happy. The yearning after happiness found so widely among Christians professing a superior degree of sanctity is sufficient proof that such sanctity is not indeed present. The truly spiritual man knows that God will give abundance of joy after we have become able to receive it without injury to our souls, but he does not demand it at once. John Wesley said of the members of one of the earliest Methodist societies that he doubted that they had been made perfect in love because they came to church to enjoy religion instead of to learn how they could become holy. 2. A man may be considered spiritual when he wants to see the honor of God advanced through his life even if it means that he himself must suffer temporary dishonor or loss. Such a man prays “Hallowed be Thy name,” and silently adds, “at any cost to me, Lord.” He lives for God's honor by a kind of spiritual reflex. Every choice involving the glory of God is for him already made before it presents itself. He does not need to debate the matter with his own heart; there is nothing to debate. The glory of God is necessary to him; he gasps for it as a suffocating man gasps for air.

Battle Cry

Hi Everyone!
This weeks 2nd look is a calling to sit with the armor of God.  to put it on every day.

My invitation to you is to sit with Ephesians 6:10-20 this week.
There are six pieces of armor and then Paul’s final exhortation to prayer.  I’d like to invite you to see with these items this week.  Below I’ve included a website link that can be helpful as you piece your way through the armor. As you read this passage and related passages to this armor, I’d like to invite you to consider what it means to you to have these pieces of armor in your life; and how essential it is for you to live out of these.  What does it look like practically for you?  My hope as you study this- is that you will be challenged to move deeper with God- to realize you are in a war- and that this armor is absolutely essential to you.  May God bless you this week.  Also note, there is a song By fernando Ortega that I have also attached.  this has been a song I’ve returned to throughout my life and has really been a huge blessing to me.  It’s a song that celebrates how awesome God really is.  my prayer is it will lead you to celebration even as you consider the armor he has given you.  Be blessed my friends.

In the battle
pastor Ryan





exodusHi SNC family and friends,

Here is the 2nd look for this week.  I was reading a book catalog for Christian Book Distributors when I came across a mini article by John Macarthur that I thought was very relevant to our discussion.  Here it is:
“Sometimes called the ‘hall of faith’ Hebrews 11 is one of the most well known chapters in the Bible.  It famously outlines the lives of Old Testament saints – the ‘heroes of the faith’ – of whom the world was not worthy because they trusted God no matter the cost.
In our celebrity driven culture, heroes are often defined by political power, financial success, athletic prowess, or acting ability.  But, as Hebrews 11 illustrates, that is not how Scripture identifies a true hero.  Abel was murdered.  Noah preached with no response, Abraham left home for an unknown land; Joseph was thrown in prison, Moses gave up a royal life for wilderness wanderings; and many of Israel’s prophets were persecuted to the point of death.  From a worldly perspective, these Biblical characters would hardly qualify as Heroes.