2nd look

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

 



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
nd 
look!

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

amber@snchurch.com

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
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zE4bNa-b88

 

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

 



God Is Trustworthy

Hi SNC brothers and sisters.

 

For this week’s 2nd look I invite you to join me in counting your blessings.

 

At the start of everyday take a few minutes to write out some things that God has blessed you with. Dr. Smith challenges us to get up to 50 or a hundred blessings by the end of the week. You can start simply by listing things like family, or beautiful sunsets, but ultimately the aim is to open our eyes to how far God has gone to bless us each and every day. You may be surprised to see just how much our great heavenly Father blesses us.

 

I will start by giving you my first ten things that I thought of, that came right off the top of my head, in no particular order.

 

Here they are…

  • My beautiful amazing wonderful wife!
  • My awesome great super cool kids.
  • Music: God you bless my life with all kinds of music.
  • Deep breathes: I love deep breaths, they feel so satisfying.
  • A roof over my head.
  • The Ocean and the Mountains.
  • JESUS: For saving me, cleansing me, giving me a new name.
  • My dear brothers and sisters at SNC!
  • THE HOLY SPIRIT: For loving me, guiding me, empowering me.
  • Coca-Cola!

 

What might be on your list?

Have a blessed week everyone!

Pastor Ryan



God Is Good

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

 

“Pastor Ryan, you said God isn’t an angry God; but isn’t he? Let’s be honest, the God we see in the Old Testament seems plenty angry a lot. Didn’t He say in Exodus 20:4:

for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me…’? And what about in Psalm 95:11 when God said: ‘In my wrath I declared they shall never enter my rest…’?

 

“This seems to me to be a picture of a God who gets plenty angry and then gets plenty even. It’s nice to say God isn’t an angry God- kind of a wishy-washy nice sentiment. But the reality is God is often offended and gets angry, we see it in the scriptures!”

 

It’s actually quite easy to walk away from a reading of the Old Testament and see a God who can throw cosmic temper tantrums- and get revenge and all these things. But we also need to remember that God’s wrath is never impulsive. What I mean is I see God bringing justice and judgment upon nations in the Old Testament but this is after repeated rebellion and rejection of God reaching out to them, or in the face of God’s repeated goodness and provision for them. Perhaps the best thing God could do in that moment was to bring justice- to at least try to save them.

 

Think about this: when we let a kid get away with doing whatever they want to do are we actually helping them? I would submit that we aren’t. We may think we are but in all actuality we are hurting them by not providing them with healthy boundaries and a place to form a moral compass.

 

Is God impulsively angry? Consider this- God let the Canaanites spit in his face, worship other gods in detestable and horrific ways (involving ritual rape; torture and murder of people of all ages including children) for hundreds of years before he said, “Ok enough is enough. There is no redemption left for you; your souls are so hardened; for the protection of everyone else you must be shut down.” God did the same thing to the Israelites when they went sideways. He sent prophet after prophet to them, begging them to change, but they wouldn’t. In fact, they began to kill those prophets.

 

In the Exodus passage, God is punishing the sins of the father “up to four generations” but this is 4 generations of people who are completely rebellious like their fathers were. When God declares his people will “never enter [His] rest” it seems to be a statement made in anger. But Eugene Peterson’s biblical translation “The Message” has a beautiful perspective on this.

“Drop everything and listen, listen as he speaks:
    “Don’t turn a deaf ear as in the Bitter Uprising,
As on the day of the Wilderness Test,
    when your ancestors turned and put me to the test.
For forty years they watched me at work among them,
    as over and over they tried my patience.
And I was provoked—oh, was I provoked!
    ‘Can’t they keep their minds on God for five minutes?
    Do they simply refuse to walk down my road?’
Exasperated, I exploded,
    ‘They’ll never get where they’re headed,

    never be able to sit down and rest.’”

 

Kind of a different perspective, huh? The reality is that God is patient and kind, even with those who are spitting in His face. At some point though, justice must be served. At some point God has to say: Enough is enough. I think we sometimes take a handful of verses and create a picture of God that isn’t entirely accurate. When we see the entirety of the Old Testament we see a different God than an angry, petulant, childish supreme being who is looking for a reason to zap us with a lighting bolt. God is better than that. He is good!

 

Have a great week folks!



What Are You Seeking?

Howdy folks,

Welcome to this week’s 2nd Look.

This past Sunday we began a new series titled: “The Good and Beautiful God” based on the book (same title) by James Bryan Smith. I invite you this week to read the book- but in addition to that- take a few minutes each day to simply reflect on three simple passages. Maybe you choose one passage every two days then switch them up. What are these scriptures teaching us about how God wants to work in our minds and hearts to change us from within?

 

Here are the passages.

  • John 14:26 and John 16:13
  • Romans 8:5-9 and Romans 12:2
  • Philippians 2:5 and Philippians 4:8

 

Have a blessed week everybody and check this out:

The first soul training exercise is SLEEP! I know this is a rough one for me. I confess I can be quite a night owl. But I know that sleep is very good for me. My aim is to really try to get to bed earlier. Maybe you are like me. Let me invite you to join me in trying to get more sleep this week. Let’s see what this will be like for us! Good luck!

 

May God bless you all with his peace!

Pastor Ryan