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



A Call to Prepare

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

For this week I’d like to invite you to read the story of Mary in Luke 1:26-38. Try to read it several times this week. Close your eyes and picture the scene in your mind, or even try to put yourself in Mary’s shoes. What thoughts, emotions do you feel in this passage? What things to do notice or observe. On Sunday we will get into this story and my hope is for you to spend some time with it this week!

I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas season!!!!

Pastor Ryan


Advent Week 3

Hello Everybody!

Welcome to this week’s 2nd look!

 

As you may recall we are in our third week of the advent season. Last Sunday we talked about how when Jesus appears- a doorway has opened to God’s wisdom being available to us. God’s wisdom.. What is that? Do you remember how we looked at God’s wisdom being Redemption; righteousness and holiness? These things are available to us in Jesus Christ. This week, I’d like to invite you to read a passage everyday to consider how Jesus has become for us wisdom from God. Take five minutes a day, and read the verse and simply reflect on it. What feelings or thoughts does it bring to mind?

 

Here are the Bible verses for this week:

 

Monday: Colossians 1:24-29

Tuesday: 1 Peter 1:8-16

Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (emphasize verse 18)

Thursday: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Friday: James 3:13-18

Saturday: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

 

Have a great week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



Advent Week 2

Hi everybody.

This is the beginning of week 2 of advent.

Here is what we’ve looked at so far:

Miracle #1: When Jesus Appears Nobody Becomes Somebody.

Miracle #2: When Jesus Appears Nowhere Becomes Somewhere.

If you remember from the sermon- we talked about how Jesus chose to make himself a kid from the wrong side of the tracks because he chose to be a servant; and because he chose to be planted in the middle of darkness to bring the light of God. This week as we continue looking forward to the birthday of our savior- I’d like to invite you to consider these verses that talk about these issues. Please remember to give yourself a five minute space of time to read a verse and simply reflect and pray on it. What truth is it teaching you? Have a great week everybody!

Monday– John 1:1-13

Tuesday– Matthew 20:28

Wednesday– Philippians 2:5-11

Thursday– John 8:12

Friday– 2 Corinthians 4:6

Saturday– Ephesians 5:8



Advent – Week 1

Hello Everyone!

On this first week of the advent season I want to invite you to try something.

Some of you may be aware that one of the traditions in advent is to give up something as you wait for the birth of Christ. Maybe you give up Starbucks coffee – or soda – or ice cream late at night. Maybe you give up TV or playing computer games. Who knows what it is. The point is – that whenever you long for that thing you gave up – you take that moment to remember the longing mankind has for a savior and you let that moment be an opportunity for prayer and reflection.

As the advent season goes on, I also want to invite you to join me with doing some daily advent “timeouts.” What is this? Each week I’ll send you some Bible verses, you read one a day and take a 5 minute “Timeout” to simply sit and reflect on that verse. Each compilation of verses will follow along with the sermon theme from the previous Sunday…

This week the theme of our sermon was: “When Jesus appears; nobodies become somebodies…”
Here are the verses for our Daily Advent Timeout:
Monday- John 3:16
Tuesday- Romans 5:8
Wednesday- Ephesians 2:1-10
Thursday- 1 Peter 5:6-7
Friday- Romans 8:37-39
Saturday- John 1:9-13

Have a great week everybody!!!

Pastor Ryan

PS- have you pulled out the Christmas music yet? I’d like to recommend to you some really amazing Christmas cds that my family and I have been enjoying over the last couple years. They are made by indie artists.  The albums are titled:
“A Christmas Together” and they come in different volumes made by Christian independent artists. You heard one of the songs this past Sunday. Well done – very creative – and many new Christmas songs to really freshen things up for you.  Click here for a link to the cds.

 



What Does Jesus Want For Christmas?

Hello everyone-

The question we left open this week is – “What Does Jesus Want For Christmas?”

We focused on 2 things
To treat others justly and with kindness and compassion. To help others – to meet needs – to love – to go beyond just mere words – but let our gratitude for Jesus overflow in acts of love to others.
Maybe what Jesus would love is simply to have more of us this holiday season. Maybe it could be as simple as 5 minutes a day of pure – undistracted time with God. I would be willing to bet you that if you did this – that over time you might want more. You might move to 10 or even 15 minutes! It’s amazing how much this can become some of the sweetest time of our day. Why? Because deep down in ways we don’t completely understand – we need it. Maybe this isn’t just a great gift to give Him – but to us as well..

This week, I’d like to invite you to keep considering this question – to take time if you have kids, to sit down and discuss this with them. If you are a grandparent – ask your grandkids or invite them to do something with you. If you are a kid, or a single person; maybe consider doing something with your friends.

This could literally be the most meaningful thing of your entire holiday season!

But please don’t forget this. Sometimes the greatest gifts aren’t big extravagant things – but they come in moments where we are at the grocery store; or walking down the street and God gives us a chance to really listen to someone; or to meet a need. All it takes sometimes is for us to be looking for the opportunities the Lord brings to us.

I pray you have a wonderful week! I am so grateful for you guys. May God bless you!

Pastor Ryan



Every Interruption Is An Opportunity

This Christmas season; we can become weighed down with all we have to do. It’s no coincidence that the holidays are listed by many people as one of the most stressful times of year. Inevitably – what happens is we get interrupted. Things go wrong – issues arise; something fails to work the way we want; and even more stress can be created. But the thing I really hoped people walked away from Sunday with was this idea that every interruption can be an opportunity – to return to God. To accept that He is not surprised; to re-affirm that we are His servants; and to look for His will in the midst of the interruption.

My true hope is that you will encounter God in the midst of your holiday season and that maybe in those moments when things aren’t going right – you might be reminded He is here; He’s in control; and He may have something for you.

This week, I’d like to give you an invitation. Interrupt yourself. Maybe set a timer on your phone – and when the alarm goes off – find a quiet place and listen to some quiet Christmas music – or just get alone and take some time to pray. Interrupt yourself – give it shot. You might find it is the most sacred part of your day – and holiday season!

Have a wonderful week my friends!

Pastor Ryan



Sacrifice the Good for the Better

Hello SNC friends and family:
I once took a class in seminary on preaching. My professor used to say: “Your sermon is only as good as the stuff you left on the chopping floor.” What he meant was – you can tell how good your sermon is by judging the stuff you left out of it. If the stuff you left out of the sermon is good – then the stuff you put in, must be even better! There are two premises in this thought.
You need to leave stuff out of your sermon. You cannot put everything in there. Some stuff must be left out…
You can’t only leave the garbage – for the sermon to be great – you will also likely need to leave some good stuff out too!

This is really hard for me! This may actually be one of my greatest challenge as a preacher. I want to include everything – even the stuff that isn’t that great. But sometimes you gotta just say no!

This may be one of the biggest issues we face with the holidays. For some reason – it’s just harder to say “no” at this time of year. No to buying gifts we can’t afford; “no” to taking an extra slice of chocolate Santa Claus cake; “No” to that party – “No” to the shopping malls. And yet it can often be our inability to say “No” that robs us of joy this Christmas season.

In our move to return our gaze to the baby; there is often going to be a decision that needs to be made; something we inevitably will have to say: “No” to, and it may not even be a bad thing. The hardest stuff to say “no” to tend to be good things; but sometimes we need to sacrifice good things in order to focus on the great.

So here are some questions:
What are some practical and simple ways for me to return my gaze to Jesus this holiday season; to really enjoy the Christmas story?
What things might I need to say “No” to; that might even be good things, but they rob me of the Great?

Please keep in mind – this isn’t about making you a slave at Christmas to some new way of living… If you don’t want to make changes; don’t. But if you are like me and somewhere along the way you’ve found it’s so easy to lose the joy of Christmas; maybe it’s time to reexamine your approach to the whole thing. Or maybe you are looking to change some things up. Sometimes change can be healthy, fun and refreshing. For me, I often find I need to say no to good things – in order to be able to pursue the great.

May the Lord bless you this week

Pastor Ryan



Easter Week

Hello everyone,
Welcome to 2nd Look. My prayer for you is that you would have a wonderful week and be reminded often of the great love Christ has for us – that He would lay down His life for us. I’d like to invite you to look up some verses in your Bible that talk about how Jesus’ love motivates Him to die for you – and the great hope we have found because He rose again from the dead! Take time this week to meditate or think deeply on this truth. Friday night at 7pm is our Good Friday Service we do with our brethren over at the Hub Church. We will have the service here at SNC. I truly hope you can join us – for both Good Friday and Easter Sunday!

As I close this 2nd Look – I want to give you three quick blurbs that describe where we are heading with our Sunday morning sermons for the remainder of this year. I am very excited about what we will be exploring and can’t wait to get started.

Before I give you the three blurbs, I want to share the main theme with you for the rest of the year. It is two words:  Beyond Survival

I am passionate about living a life that goes beyond living paycheck to paycheck – weekend to weekend – pleasurable experience to pleasurable experience. I want to dare to dream that our lives can be marked by growth, purpose; joy; transformation; redemption; and even victory in being a force of change in this world. That is a life that goes Beyond Survival: A life that is exciting to live and, I believe, a life truly better than anything this world has to offer. That is a life that goes “Beyond Survival!”
So what are the studies we have?

  1. “Life Beyond Survival: A Study of The Sermon On The Mount:” We will take several months to study one of the greatest, most influential, powerful and impactful speeches the world has ever seen. If you are not a Christian – your life would still be transformed by trying to live this sermon – although you will likely find it near impossible. As Christians – we are meant to live this sermon in the transforming power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the things Jesus talks about here – can literally transform you. The truths Jesus mentions in this sermon have saved marriages; freed people from blindness and bondage to stress and anxiety; they have literally changed the course of history. You will not want to miss a Sunday during this series – it’s going to be A-MAY-ZING!!! But let me warn you – the more you live this sermon – the more your life will change. You will never be the same – so if you are a person who doesn’t like transformation – change – purpose or joy – this may not be the sermon series for you – but if you are; then make sure to join us starting the very first week after Easter Sunday and running throughout the summer.
  2. “Church Beyond Survival: A Study Of The Book Of Ephesians:” I’m very excited about this study. Ephesians is a manual on Christian living and life in the church. It is a book packed with amazing theology and a brilliant look at the church that moves in the power of the Holy Spirit. In this book are incredible studies on our identity in Christ, marriage and relationships; life in the Spirit, the church; and even the armor of God. It’s going to be powerful as we consider what God intends for us as His church! Ephesians is probably my favorite New Testament letter. I am more than thrilled to be studying this book with all of you. We will begin studying this book at the end of August and will likely be in it into next year.
  3. “Beyond Surviving The Holidays:” This is our advent series this year. We will take a break from Ephesians to do a little topical series on going beyond hanging on for dear life during the holidays. How do we get the most out of the holidays emotionally and spiritually – even when we are so busy buying and wrapping gifts – running from one holiday party to the next; one Christmas turkey to the next? It can be overwhelming. Well I’d like to discuss with you a recipe for peace and joy during the holidays!

So I hope you are as excited as I am. Please be in prayer that God would open our hearts as individuals and as a church to what He has ahead for us.
Have a wonderful week everybody
Pastor Ryan



Jesus The Strength

If you were with us last Sunday you may remember we spoke about how Jesus is meant to be our strength; our vitality; our purpose; the change agent in our lives; and our ability to have self control. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. He calls us to remain in Him for apart from Him we can do nothing. This is a pretty large claim. After all – how many people have you known who would earnestly look at you and say: “Follow me for apart from me you can do nothing?” That is a claim of the most audacious order.
But is it true? I think this may be one of the biggest problems the church faces today.  We may sing songs about Jesus and all He has done but we often end up living our lives as if He doesn’t exist. Someone called this: “Practical atheism” not that we don’t believe in Jesus – we just live our day to day lives as if He doesn’t exist. In the 90s there was a band called: “Live.”  They wrote a song called: “Operation Spirit.” One of the lines from the song goes like this:
“Hear alot of talk about this Jesus
A man of love a man of strength
but what a man was 2000 years ago
means nothing at all to me today.
He could’ve been
telling me about my higher self
but he only lives inside my prayer
so what he was may have been beautiful
but the pain is right now and right here.”
What are they saying? Yea sure this Jesus was a neat guy but everything He was means nothing to me today. I’ve got my pain and my life and while this Jesus guy lived a beautiful life – it doesn’t help me in the here and now. Here’s the problem – that is simply not what Jesus claimed. Jesus claimed He was the answer to life’s problems and questions; that apart from Him we could do nothing.
I think “Live” points to an issue I’ve often had in my 39 years connected to the church. I hear a lot of talk and yet have seen few lives changed. I’ve even seen how my life has failed to change even though I’ve gone to church. I wrestled deeply with my journey with God. Is this whole thing real? Are we really different because we know Christ? Have we really found an answer here – or just another set of questions? I began to wrestle with this question: If Jesus is really here – what am I missing? This question hit me hard in college. I looked around me and in me; and saw prayerlessness; a lack of change and this fruit of the Spirit Paul talked about.
“God I don’t want to be here if you’re not.  I want more.  If there is more to have…”
This is when I began to come into contact with many writings and challenging experiences and God has been so good and faithful to begin to show me what it means to have a Christ centered life. He has repeatedly challenged my thinking through the years. Bringing me face to face with the destructive ways I think – and how my mind needs to be transformed – and that this is a slow process. God has repeatedly brought me back to my need for relationship with Him and with His church; And He has stoked a fire in me to Share the Gospel with others and to get out there and do the things Jesus did.  So as my mind and my relationships; and my life changes; it grows to look more and more like Christ. This is what it is meant to be. We are meant to look more and more like Christ. Let me remind you of this Scripture:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.  Romans 8:29.
He knew you before time and His plan; that you would be conformed to the image of His Son – that you would look more and more like Jesus.
Isn’t this crazy!!!! Bring it back to Christmas. A baby lying in a manger; so many years ago; was there so you could be brought into a process of becoming more and more like Jesus! To have Jesus as the center and the strength of your life.  Amazing.
Have a great week everybody.  may you find your strength in our precious King Jesus!
Pastor Ryan