2nd look

From Debt Fueled Slavery to Living Free

Hey folks! Yesterday Mike and I spoke on steps we can take to move towards financial freedom and living soundly with our finances. I received some feedback yesterday that is worth discussing.

 

Some of you may have been in there thinking: “There’s no way for us to do what you are saying. What if I need a new car, and I need it to be reliable, and gas efficient, because I’m a heavy commuter? Is it ok to get a car loan to buy a more reliable car than take a risk on a $2000 clunker? What if I’m only making $500 or a $1,000 a month and my company doesn’t give me a 401k or health insurance, and I barely have enough to pay rent? And sometimes I go over and have to use a credit card, is that ok? What if I have so much debt that the interest is killing me and I’m drowning in it? What if I’m in my senior years, on a fixed income and some of the things you are saying are just not relevant to me? Isn’t it good to have a credit card so that you can have a credit score?”

 

These are great questions. Our hope was to teach sound financial principles. Only you can decide what works for you but we truly believe living by a budget is the best, most sound way to do things. We believe that taking out loans and going into debt is something we should try to avoid. If you have to take on debt, you do, but this doesn’t make it the best or first choice we should take. If you have a credit card, and use it, then pay it off at the end of the month, then that works for you. Great! For my wife and I, that technique only invites destruction; but for some of you it works. Great keep it up!

 

Aly and I have had to make tough decisions and we have many more to make. No matter how much I may hem and haw, I cannot avoid these principles. How YOU apply them may be different than I do- but I still believe in them.

 

In the end- you have to ask yourself: Does this work for me? Does it actually work or am I falling into deeper slavery to debt?

 

Here are 3 great online resources for you to check out regarding sound financial practices.

 

This has a great budgeting resource and other great advice:

https://www.daveramsey.com

 

This is a great resource for those who are beginning their financial journey:

http://financialfreedom-journey.com/5-tips-starting-financial-freedom-20s/

 

This is an amazing website with tons of articles and resources. When I read this site, I thought, man this guy is just like me:

This is a great article on spending habits and how to get them under control:

https://adamhagerman.com/how-to-control-spending/

 

Also if you have further questions you can email me. I am not a guru, but I’d be happy to talk with you and help you explore some answers.

Have a great week everybody!!



Amazing Generosity

Hello SNC!

Here is a quick summary of the main points from Sunday’s sermon.

 

5 Blessings of Living Generously

 

  1. We get to join God in what He is doing
  • When we live generously, we get to join God in blessing the world.
  1. The promise of eternal reward
  • God promises us that when we are generous we build up treasures in heaven!
  1. Real life benefits
  • Scripture points to generosity as a foundation for true life- and scientific studies are finding this to be true.
  1. We break free… from wealth’s tyranny
  • When we are generous we shift the allegiances of our hearts. We choose to follow God and serve him rather than our wealth.
  1. We get to see God provide!
  • When we step out and risk with God, we get to see him provide!!!

 

Here’s a quick question for you. How do you view generosity? Do you view it a blessing not just for others but also for yourself? Here are a few scriptures to read this week.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Matthew 6:19-20 and 1 Timothy 6:17-19

 

What might God be leading you to do in light of what we know to be true of generosity?

 

Have a great week everyone!!!

 

Pastor Ryan

 



Money and Possessions

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

 

Read this passage a few times this week and every time, reflect upon the following questions. Let’s see how the Holy Spirit may direct you.

 

Please remember, this is not meant to be an exercise where you beat yourself up; but rather to simply embrace or admit what is true and give it to the Lord asking Him to direct your heart, mind and life because he is gracious and patient with you!

 

1 Timothy 6:17-19

 

1) Is my wealth a source of my pride and personal worth?

2) Is my wealth, or is God, the thing I put my hope in for my comfort, enjoyment and future?

3) Am I willing to be generous when called to?  

 

 

May God’s peace be with you this week!!!

 

Pastor Ryan



What I Do With Me

This week I want to discuss with you what we believe is the blueprint for growing as a Christian! As a matter of fact, we believe that if you are growing in these three ways, you will thrive as a Christian throughout your journey with God. This doesn’t mean things will always be easy or peachy keen- but you will deepen and grow with the Lord.

 

What does it look like to grow as a Christian?

We need to grow in three ways…

 

First, we need to KNOW the Gospel.

KNOWing the Gospel is about the development of our minds. It means we grow to think more and more like Jesus. We learn from His teaching and we grow to know them so well that they change the way we view everything.

 

Second, we need to LIVE the Gospel.

LIVEing the Gospel is about having a relationship with God’s church and most importantly, having a friendship with God Himself. This is what the Gospel teaches: because of Jesus we can now have a relationship with God! So as Christians we need to emphasize these relationships in our life.

 

Third, we need to SHARE the Gospel.

SHAREing the Gospel is about getting out there and SHAREing the love of Christ with our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members and more. As Christians, we receive the love of God and it is meant to pour through us onto others.

 

Why do I share this with you? Well, this Sunday we discussed making intentional choices to benefit our body, our mind and our soul. We talked about how these things are gifts to us from God. As you can see, our three ways of growth involve us making intentional choices to care for our bodies, minds and souls. It’s all about being INTENTIONAL!

 

What is a small beneficial change you can bring into your life to be good to your body, your mind, and soul? Let this be a matter of prayer for you this week.

 

May God’s peace rule your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!!!

 

Pastor Ryan



What I Do With Time

Hello and welcome to this week’s 2nd look.

 

For this week I invite you to just take an extra 30 seconds.

 

It’s pretty simple: at certain points throughout the day take an extra 30 seconds while doing something and during that time, simply enjoy it. View it as a gift from God and enjoy. If your child hugs you, take an extra 30 seconds. If you are eating a fantastic meal, slow down, take an extra 30 seconds. If you’re looking at a beautiful sunset, take an extra 30. See what I’m saying? Give yourself some time this week to enjoy the fact that God has blessed you with this moment.

 

God is an amazing Creator and when you take the time to enjoy what He has created, you begin to see everything with new eyes. He is such a brilliant artist! Oh, how lovely it is to see all the different hues and colors in this world. The fearsome and ferocious nature of the ocean and yet it’s stark and wondrous glory. The fantastic tastes and smells that are available to us. None of it was necessary. God made it that way. It wasn’t an accident. God is a brilliant yet playful and generous artist. Let’s take time to enjoy that!

 

Have a great week and may God grant you His wondrous peace!

 

Pastor Ryan



The Heart of the Matter

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

 

This past Sunday we began a new series titled, “What I Do With What I Got.” This is a series about how we live our lives with the things we have in our possession. The fancy word for a series like this is, “Stewardship.”

 

This first sermon was really a starter, to get us to the most basic and fundamental truth we all need to embrace: we are to be living biblical stewardship. Here’s an excerpt from the sermon:

 

The key to biblical stewardship that creates beauty in our lives is a simple 5-word phrase, “None of this is mine… It’s all God’s.”

 

In the sermon, we looked at how “the earth and everything in it is the Lord’s”

(Psalms 24:1). Think about that for a second. Everything upon this earth ULTIMATELY belongs to God. I talked about how this is one of the easiest truths for us to acknowledge mentally but it’s very difficult sometimes for us to live in this reality. We often take back ownership of things and the ironic thing is: Those things we mistakenly believe we posses, often become the very things that possess us.

 

Take a look at the things in your life that you prize or cherish. Maybe it’s your car, your 60-inch flat screen TV, your play station 4, your family, your beautiful house, your job, or something else. Make a list of these things. When they come up in your life, take some time to thank God for those things that He has blessed you with by allowing this thing to be present in your life. Then, turn around and acknowledge that no matter how beautiful this thing is- it is actually God’s and ask Him to do with it whatever He wills, because it’s His after all.

 

This isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes we don’t realize just how deeply and intensely we are holding on to the things in our lives. Sometimes we feel like we have fully surrendered something to God’s control only to find that we take it back from Him when we feel it is threatened in some way. Regularly acknowledging that all we are and all we have belongs to God and is at His disposal is a necessary thing for us to live biblical stewardship, which is actually a beautiful way to live.

 

This week, I invite you to take time each day to think of things you treasure in your life, to thank God for them and then to acknowledge before God that these things- no matter how much you cherish them- are actually not yours after all. They are His. It’s ironic how this can be such a freeing thing to be reminded of!

 

May God bless you all this week!

Pastor Ryan



Joy

Greetings everyone, and welcome to week 3 of our advent series: “The Arrival.”

 

This week we looked at the idea that “When Jesus arrives He opens the door to Christian joy.”

But what is Christian joy? This is how we defined it:

   Christian joy is a good feeling…

         …of well being.

              …built on great standing.

                 …in a glorious Savior.

 

This week reflect upon this wonderful truth and then also going before the Lord and asking the Lord to give you this joy. This will be our final week of entries as next Sunday will be Christmas EVE!! I hope you all have a blessed week!

 

Monday December 18, 2017

Time to give ourselves some gifts!!!

So often we hear that Christmas is a time about giving gifts to others. Which is very true. But I say we also need to give some gifts to ourselves. Gifts of joy!!! How do we do this? Starting today, and going through every day this week, find something you enjoy. It can be a small thing, something you enjoy for 30 seconds or a minute longer than you might otherwise. If you enjoy hugging your spouse, hug them for a minute longer. Take time to slow down and simply enjoy it. If you enjoy Christmas decorations, slow down and look at them for a little longer. There are all kinds of things. So often we move too fast, we don’t get the time to slow down and enjoy life. It’s like this scene I saw in a movie where a young man was devouring food at an incredibly fast pace and an older man who was sitting with him said, “Hey, be careful. If you slow down you might actually taste something.” Do we miss out on joy that could be had simply because we are moving too fast to enjoy it?

I invite you today to take something you know you enjoy. Maybe something that you are thankful to God for, and intentionally choose to enjoy it for a little bit longer. As you do, really try to turn your mind towards enjoying it, being grateful for it. These are little Christmas presents we can give to ourselves every day and many times they can be absolutely free of charge!

 

Tuesday December 19, 2017

Read this Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20.

As you read look for signs of joy. What do you notice in this story? So often for me, I don’t read this story and come up with new, novel or profound revelations, but rather I read it and simply enjoy the story. My invitation for you today is to do the same!

 

Wednesday December 20, 2017

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice…

How do we keep Christ at the forefront of our thoughts? We rejoice in Him! Take some time today to think about the awesomeness of Jesus. You can think about the awesomeness of who He is, what He has done, and what He will continue to do. You can think about the promises He has made, or the wonder of what He has taught us. Let’s take some time today and simply enjoy Jesus!


Thursday December 21, 2017

God’s fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Joy is actually a fruit of walking in step and connection with the Holy Spirit. What does this mean?  It means you cannot produce joy on your own. Just like we couldn’t produce the baby Jesus on our own. Only God can do that! When Jesus arrives, joy arrives with Him because of how great, wonderful and marvelous God’s gift to us is in Christ!!! Today, my invitation to you is to consider your journey with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it’s time for you to ask the Spirit to develop more joy in you as you walk with Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to develop His gifts in your life and also to show you if there are any ways you are not walking in step with Him. If He reveals something to you, then simply ask him to lead you in His way, to correct your course. Walking in step with the Spirit is literally the most life changing, life-transforming thing we can do.

 

Friday December 22, 2017

Blow the lid off the joy.

If you are daring, listen to this song and then look for a way to express joy in a way you wouldn’t normally. Maybe it’s dancing. Maybe it’s simply yelling or proclaiming out loud that Jesus is awesome. Maybe it’s banging on a drum, or doing jumping jacks, or singing with reckless abandon. What would it look like to blow the lid off our joy? Give it a shot today!!!!

 

Go Tell It On the Mountain by Little Big Town

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBF5kMjzMis

 

Saturday December 23, 2017

Soak it in…

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Take some time today to soak in the Christmas love! Enjoy the season. Enjoy the lights, enjoy the music, and enjoy the smells of Christmas. Take some time to do something intentional to enjoy Christmas. The season is almost over!!!!

 

May God bless you and your family this Christmas!

Pastor Ryan



Love

Howdy everyone, and welcome to week 2 of our advent series: “The Arrival.”

 

On Sunday we looked at the idea that “The Baby IS God’s LOVE!” Jesus Christ in the manger IS God grabbing a bullhorn and saying to the world: “I LOVE YOU!!!!” This week I invite you to join me in reflecting upon this wonderful truth and then also going before the Lord and asking how we may join Him in loving others.

 

As the apostle John wrote:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1 John 4:11-12

 

We’re also going to spend some time this week reflecting on the nature of God’s love. Jesus’ arrival opens the floodgates to God’s love being poured out upon humanity in a different way than it was before. And ever since His birth, this love is powerfully present for us. I hope you are blessed in your reflections this week!

 

Monday December 11, 2017

We’re going to start this week with another beautiful song for you to reflect upon. This is Celine Dion’s version of “Oh, Holy Night.” As a musician and a vocalist, I appreciate the incredible vocal work she does on this song. The power at which she belts out the word, “Noel” literally robs me of breath. It’s amazing. If you haven’t heard this version you are in for a treat! However, I also want you to consider the lyrics of this song as you listen. I’ve put them here for you. Not only is this a beautiful song, but the lyrics are so descriptive, so profound. This song looks in awe at the fact that this night of Christ’s birth is so powerful! Check it out and reflect on the lyrics for this song… Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sEP5_7DMu0

 

Tuesday December 12, 2017

Can you remember a time when you realized, “Oh, man that person really cares about me.” or “Oh, wow, they really love me!” What was happening? My guess is, they were doing something that demonstrated to you they care. Often they were sacrificing something for you, or doing something for you they absolutely didn’t have to do.

God’s love is demonstrated for us in Jesus Christ!

Today let’s reflect upon this verse from 1 John 4:10. What do you notice from these words? Give yourself a few minutes today to read this verse and consider its words. It talks about God’s love and what His love motivates Him to do. Then consider that Christmas is the enactment what this verse talks about.

 

Wednesday December 13, 2017

God’s love for you is without condition.

What does this mean? It means He loved you before you ever did anything to deserve it. His love exists for you regardless of your good and bad behavior. He loved you before you loved Him, and nothing changes that. Here are some scriptures for you to consider with this:

1 John 4:19

Romans 8:35

Ephesians 2:1-5

What thoughts and feelings emerge for you as you consider that God’s love for you is without condition?

 

Thursday December 14, 2017

God’s love for you is Eternal.

This is really kind of a crazy and mind-boggling thought. God is eternal. God is unchanging. God is not going to change his mind regarding you. His love for you is eternal and his intention is to love you eternally. Let’s continue in Ephesians 2 reading verse 6-9.

Can you see God’s intention to love you forever? Everything He does on Christmas, begins with His love. It is eternal.

 

Last night I had a conversation with a gentleman who told me he had a hard time with the idea of being alive 10,000 years from now. He figured at some point he’d just be so sick of everything; that he’d beg to be released from existence. He asked me if I ever thought about that. I told him I have, but then I am reminded of the glories of heaven. It’s hard to imagine being alive forever. It seems like after awhile heaven would become a droll place when we forget that God is so glorious and we will be in awe of His glory and kindness is such a way that thousands of eons could pass and we may not even know it. The Bible tells us one day for God is like 1,000 years for us (2 Peter 3:8). He exists outside of time. Heaven will be a place where we experience no time- just God’s glory and kindness. Heaven, in my humble and limited estimation, will be a place of joy, worship, glory, and play before God. It will be a place of peace, rest, celebration and exuberance. We often forget that God is a great Creator with unending imagination, and He has given us this quality as we are made in His image. It doesn’t seem unlikely, to me, that we will be building, designing, and creating glorious things with God. The imagination and the depths of God’s beauty, combined with the joy of his kindness towards us and living life on a completely different scale where time is not involved, makes it seem likely to me that eons of time will pass and we will not care. Because the reality is that time will be of no consequence to us. I say this all to say- one thing is clear- God’s love will be eternal for us- and it’s all possible because of Jesus!

 

Friday December 15, 2017

God’s love for you is life transforming.

God’s love changes the course of our lives. God’s love directs us, and redefines us.

Let’s read Ephesians 2:6-10. Pay particular attention to verse 10. You are now a masterpiece created in Christ Jesus to do good works!!! What are these good works? They are the same works Jesus spoke about when He said, “Those who believe in me will do the things I’ve been doing and more because I go to the father.” God has planned these works a long time ago- for you. What did Jesus do? He loved people. He brought the kingdom of God to them. Check out Jesus’ messianic job description and as you read it consider that Jesus wants you to do the same stuff.

Now read Luke 4:18-19. John tells us that just as God loves us we ought to love one another. What is a way you can show God’s love to someone this Christmas season?

 

Saturday December 16, 2017

Enjoy the beauty of the Christmas season.

One final invitation to you is to take time- even if it’s short- to enjoy the beauty. Maybe you go look at Christmas lights, or watch a Christmas movie, or go to a nativity scene. In all of this, I encourage you to take some time to slow down and consider that the baby is God’s love and kindness sent for you!



Hope

Over the next 3 weeks I will be giving you some scripture, to reflect on some beautiful things that arrive with Jesus. This week we looked at Hope. When Jesus is born, it’s not just a baby being born in a stable but rather it is the moment when the door swings wide open to HOPE. Here’s the thing though. This isn’t just your standard run of the mill, “Geez I really hope this happens for me” wishful thinking kind of Hope. This is the, “God promised it; God will make it happen so I will expect it with confidence” kind of Hope. When Jesus is born true Hope explodes into reality for anyone throughout the history of mankind. This Hope is ever present for us, it is life transforming and it is ETERNAL!

 

This week, my invitation is for you to, on a daily basis, take some time to reflect on the amazing and wonderful Hope God has given us in Jesus Christ! Below is a list of scriptures and exercises to do every day to help you really dive into this concept of Hope!

 

Monday Day #1: He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin

Listen to this song by Chris Tomlin that proclaims this great and glorious hope we have in Jesus!

Really try to give this song a listen every day!

        

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2NzLqpod0I&list=RDJ2NzLqpod0I

 

Tuesday Day #2: An excerpt from the Jesus storybook Bible

Back at the beginning of time- all had been lost when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, but even back then God made His promises to us. This excerpt is taken from a beautifully illustrated children’s Bible. Take some time to read this passage and consider the hope its words…

 

Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: “It will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!” And he would. One day, God himself would come.

THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE

 

Wednesday Day #3: Isaiah 9:5-7

Take some time today to read and reflect on this scripture written below.

For unto me a child is born, unto me a son is given;
   and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called

   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end,
   on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness
  from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

Can you think of several hopeful statements in this passage?

 

Thursday Day #4: Words of reflection

Today we are going to reflect on a poem by Emily Dickinson, and then afterwards, I invite you to consider words that describe the hope God has given you and write them down on a notecard for you to tape or put somewhere you can see it. They don’t have to be anything super deep or philosophical. It could be a simple word or phrase. But it needs to make sense to you.

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all….

~Emily Dickinson

 

Friday Day #5: John 1:9-14

Let’s reflect upon another great scripture passage filled with Hope.

 

Saturday Day #6: Colossians 1:26-27

With arrival of Jesus a new Hope has exploded into reality. God has come to us, to dwell in our hearts. Look at this amazing hope in this passage! What do you notice??

 

This is a brief list of verse and exercises for you this week as you reflect on advent! May the Lord bless you my brothers and sisters!

 

Pastor Ryan



How to Make a Pickle

Matthew 11:28-30 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”—The Message

 

I invite you to read this Bible passage this week. I love this translation of these verses. I think it beautifully captures the heart behind Jesus’ words and invitation to us. Unfortunately, for many of us, we don’t know how to lay our burden at Jesus’ feet and take up His yoke. In many ways this is why we are talking about these false narratives. We all have a need to be freed from at least one of these false narratives and it can be quite frustrating to see just how slow the journey to be freed is. But the more we grasp just what our false narratives are, the more we can do the beautiful work of replacing them with the truth Jesus teaches and shows us. I want to finish this 2nd look with a list of the true narratives from this series.

 

Which of these narratives gives you more freedom from the heavy burdens you may be carrying in your soul?

 

Have a great week!

 

Pastor Ryan

 

The True Narratives of our Good and Beautiful God

  • God is truly good, no matter the circumstances!
  • God is a good father and is wholly trustworthy!
  • God is lavishly generous to folks who don’t deserve it!
  • God IS LOVE!
  • God IS HOLY!
  • God sacrifices Himself for those He loves!
  • God has us in a process of transformation!
  • God wants us to simply BE WITH HIM