2nd look

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


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



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


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!



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!


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!




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.



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


God Transforms – Thanksgiving


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

I am taking a bit of a detour this week. As it is the week of a great holiday, Thanksgiving, I invite you to join me with taking time each day to be thankful to God. Call it a thanksgiving appointment. Put it in your daily calendar. 5 minutes to consider things you are thankful for and then simply to thank God for this.


You may have heard this verse many times before. I know I’ve shared it, but it has rocked my world over the past couple years.


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Philippians 4:6-7


Do you notice one of the key components to living life with less anxiety and more peace… is thanksgiving.


Let’s be thankful on this great week of Thanksgiving!

May God bless you with His peace and love this week!!!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone,

Pastor Ryan

God Is Self-Sacrificing

Howdy folks and welcome to 2

Let’s try an imagination project this week.


An imagination project? What in the world is that?


You ask a great question. I often find I think of concepts using images or pictures. For example, I may think of grace as a big gift with wrapping paper and an amazing bow; and this gift is something God just came up to me and gave for no reason at all. Or maybe grace is a fire that sparks to life in my chest and consumes all of me- transforming my life.

You see what I mean?


This past weekend we talked about how God has come to find us, to rescue us, to bring us back to Him. Now, let’s do an imagination project. Come up with a picture of this: God coming to get you. God knocking down every barrier to rescue you. Let me give you an example, my picture. I see God running through the countryside and everywhere He goes walls rise before Him that I’m building. But He’s bursting through them, toppling them, nothing stopping him to save me. Picture this! Come up with a vision of it; then sit with that vision this week.


If you are really daring, send an email to


and tell her what image you came up with. Later this week, we may post your responses (without names of course) on Facebook and our website! Let’s celebrate this truth that God is breaking down every barrier to save us!!!
Having trouble picturing God’s pursuit? Check out this song.
The imagery used here is pretty awesome and I think the song is right on!

Check it out


Pastor Ryan

God Is Holy

Hello everyone and welcome to November!

I saw a Christmas commercial the day after Halloween last week! The holidays will soon be upon us and I couldn’t be more excited!!! No particular reason there except that we get to celebrate Jesus’ birth!!! Yay! Ok, and now on with our 2nd look.


For the 2nd look for this week I’d like to take a quote from the book and ask you to consider it this week. What thoughts arise for you as you consider this statement from the book? Have a great week everyone!


Pastor Ryan


God is against my sin because He is for me. And if I am in sin, God stands against those desires, Macdonald is saying, because they cause my destruction. I would not have it any other way. To be sure, I am prone to excusing my sin or rationalizing my weaknesses, but God is not in that business. Though we are now reconciled through Christ, God is not indifferent to my sin. It hurts me and therefore it hurts God—because God loves me.


God does not make me feel bad, or shame me into better behavior. Nor does He use fear or guilt. God’s method of changes is the highest of all. God’s holy love burns the dross of sin out of our lives. It is God’s kindness that leads to genuine repentance (Romans 2:4). As Macdonald said: “love loves unto purity” (pg 123-124).


God Is Love

In the chapter 5 of The Good and Beautiful God one of the main points Dr. Smith makes is that there is a terrible irony we learn from the parable of the prodigal son. He points out: It wasn’t the broken, sinful son who was kept from the party, but it was the self-righteous son.


This is something we constantly need to be on the lookout for in our lives. Self-righteousness is the belief in us that we need to earn God’s love through our good behaviors AND that we have! In the parable of the prodigal son, the party being thrown at the end is a metaphor for the Kingdom of God. The younger son, the sinful, party animal that squandered his father’s inheritance is now in the party because he was willing to admit he had blown it and he wasn’t worthy no matter what he did. But sadly, it is the older brother who is left outside the party, because of his self-righteousness.


Let me ask you a question. Is there any part of you that believes that somehow God loves you a little more when you are good than when you are bad? Is there a part of you that believes those who are good, those who behave a certain way, are a little more deserving of God’s love than others? If you believe these things you have the seeds of self righteousness within you and you will need to watch out for this.


I say this out of experience in my own life. I will readily admit to you I don’t believe I can do anything to make God love me more than He does right now. But I look at the pressure I put on myself, at those moments when I feel I have sinned and I can honestly say- I struggle with that feeling that God is unhappy, and that He loves me less.


The problem is that this self-righteousness robs me of joy and peace in God. It also robs me of empathy and compassion towards others who are trapped in sin. I find I need to remind myself that I am no more deserving of God’s love than that guy down the street whose sin is apparent to all. Somehow, I forget that and find myself judging them.


It’s tough. It lurks in the shadows of our hearts. But we need to root it out when we find it. I invite you this week is to examine your heart for any seeds of this self-righteousness. If it is there- grab it, and throw it away! Then remind yourself once again that nothing you do makes you more lovable to God. He loves you simply because you exist.


Have a great week everybody. And May God grant you His peace that comes from knowing His amazing love!


Pastor Ryan

God Is Generous

Howdy SNC brothers and sisters,

It’s 2nd look time!


This week I invite you to treasure hunt with me. What do I mean by this? Take some time to hunt for treasure of course!!! Duh!!!


Once you stop rolling your eyes at me (which I concede I totally deserve by the way), join me in looking through the scriptures for some ways God is generous to us. What are some verses you know of, or can find in both the new and old testaments where we see God’s generosity? Then write it down somewhere. Maybe on a notecard, or maybe put it as a reminder on your phone, and put it somewhere you can see it. For those of you who are really bold, take another step and write the verse on my Facebook page and tell me about God’s generosity!!!


My hope for us this week is to start thinking and talking about how generous God is to us!! I pray this will be a wonderfully peaceful thought for you this week!!!


Pastor Ryan