Celebrate the Sabbath!

Hi SNC friends!
This past week we talked about the 4th commandment – “The Sabbath.” At the end of the sermon I invited you to join me on an experiment of observing the Sabbath for a month. The first step is to decide which day you will observe as the Sabbath. It needs to be a day you can stop working; slow down in life and take time to rest; get refreshed and be attentive to God. This is going to require preparation and trust. One of the first suggestions I made was to take time to think about what is truly restful for you. My suggestion was to make a graph on a piece of paper with two columns.  One column is labeled: “Restful activities;” the other column is labeled: “Not restful activities.” Then list activities in these columns – that you find yourself doing; that would fit into these categories. On your Sabbath day it might be advisable to do things that you find to be truly restful or refreshing for you.

Let me suggest that you join me this week in observing the Sabbath; and please make note of what kind of impact; if any at all; this practice has had for you. Was it difficult? What about it made this so? Was it restful for you? Not restful? Take time to make note of this and then let me know how it goes!

I have included a website with a few practical suggestions for how to approach Sabbath. May God bless you in your week ahead!

http://harriscreek.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/practicing-sabbath/

Pastor Ryan



How to worship God

Hello everyone,
We have pressed our way through the first three commandments. These are really all about how we approach God – what priority does He have in our life – how we are to worship Him and revere Him. One of the big emphases I’ve been trying to make is just how God’s commandments, to them, were truly unique in that day and age. The cultures around them did not worship God and did not worship the way He was calling the Israelites to. The Israelites were to be a light shining in the world – to show people the beauty of knowing the one true God – and that is why it was so important not to misuse His name.

Nowadays – we believe that we, as the Christian church, are God’s people. We are a light unto the world. Last Sunday I highlighted Hebrews 12:1 that says:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”

The question with the ten commandments isn’t how do we make God pleased enough with us to let us into heaven; but rather it is – how do we run the race of life with God and not get ensnared; entangled and hindered? The ten commandments paints a picture of a life set apart with God – a life where we don’t get entangled.

As you proceed through this week – this is a question I’d like to invite you to take before the Lord. God, what is entangling me? Is there a god in my life I have worshipped? Is there an idol in my life, something created that I have come to worship instead of You? Is there something hindering me? My invitation to you is – if there is something; use this opportunity to bring this before the Lord and to help you move beyond this – and then get someone who’s involved at the church – someone you trust – get them involved; so they can pray for you and walk with you through this.

To be honest; this can be an extremely painful thing – it may involve us letting go of some things that feel sacred to us and yet these things have entangled us. The question is – how far are you willing to go to be free?

One last thing . . . I’ve attached (below) the lyrics to, perhaps, my favorite song of all time and a link to this song (click here). Whenever we talk about these issues – it’s important to be reminded of just how much God loves us and that even though we find that we truly are beggars at the foot of God’s door – we have found grace there. I pray these things will be at the forefront of your mind this week. Blessings!

Pastor Ryan

We Are the Beggars at the Foot of God’s Door

We are gathered in cathedrals on a Sunday

We are shrouded in our pride and lust’s despair

We have heard that You said to go to where your hearts once were

Trusting we’d arrive to find You there

We have known the empty senses of a funeral

We are haunted by the promises of death

We have asked to see Your face and noticed nothing

But a well-timed honest smile from a friend

Oh we of little faith

Oh You of stubborn grace

We are the beggars at the foot of God’s door

We have grown cold to the kisses of our lovers

We have rolled the windows up and driven though

the forests of the autumn

The innocence of snow

The metaphor of Jesus in the dew

We have known the heated passion of the cold night

We have sold ourselves to everything we hate

We’re hypocrites and politicians running from a fight

We’ve cheated on a very jealous mate

Oh we of little faith

Oh You of stubborn grace

We are the beggars at the foot of God’s door

 We have known the pain of loving in a dying world
And our lies have made us angry at the truth
But Cinderella’s slipper fits us perfectly
And somehow we’re made royalty with You

Oh we of little faith

Oh You of stubborn grace

We are the beggars at the foot of God’s door

 

And You welcome us in



Freedom in the Law

Hello SNC family,

In Psalm 119:45 the psalmist writes:
” I will walk about in Freedom; for I have sought out your precepts.”
Later he says that he loves the law of God.
     I have to admit – for much of my life I have looked at the law with an eye of suspicion.  Not because I felt it was a lie – but because I knew it was impossible to entirely keep and yet there was a part of me that felt it was necessary to keep this impossible law in order to please God and gain His blessing.  I thought God gave us the law to tell us all we couldn’t do – to erase our freedom and tie us down – to be a cosmic killjoy.  But Psalm 145 – in its entirety paints a completely different picture of the law.  It is the longest Psalm, all broken into stanzas that begin with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  It is a grand treatise on what the law can mean to us.
    And in verse 45; the psalmist says this incredibly puzzling statement – He says he walks in freedom because he has sought out God’s precepts (His law).  Is he actually saying here what it sounds like – that the law- enacted into every day life – actually brings freedom????  To be sure – we’re not free to just do whatever we want – but when we walk in God’s law we experience a different kind of freedom – spiritual freedom – emotional freedom – freedom of conscience.
      After I began to enter a phase of aggressively seeking to find recovery in my addiction – I began to become confronted with a question.  Why doesn’t God want me to do this behavior?   You can put any sin in there.  Why doesn’t God want me to lie – why doesn’t he want me to dishonor my parents – or to sleep with my neighbors wife – WHY?  Why doesn’t God want me to get drunk; or use drugs?  I remember a conversation I had with a guy who told me he didn’t want to  follow God – or go to church because he didn’t want to stop drinking alcohol or smoking cigarrettes.  Which prompted me to ask him: “Why do you think God wants you to stop drinking and smoking?” He said: “Because those are bad things.” I said: “alcohol use is not prohibited by scripture; being drunk is.  I think we know enough to know that smoking is a destructive behavior physically but so is eating pounds of sugar a day.  There’s a Scripture where the apostle Paul says:  ‘All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial; all things are permissible but I will not be a slave of anything.’ The biggest issue for God is if you become a slave of something – like alcohol or smoking because that is not beneficial.  Jesus drank alcohol but He wasn’t a slave to it.”
    The man told me he hadn’t thought of it that way. The point I was trying to make was similar to what we see in Psalm 145 – and I think what we find as we build our lives on the ten commandments and the teachings of God  – we find real life; freedom. When we look at God’s teachings we see a deep wisdom given to us for how life is meant to be lived – and that’s what makes the law so powerful. It’s blueprint for healthy living that starts with God’s grace offered to us freely in Jesus Christ.
Let me invite you to take some time this week to read Psalm 145.  This man who writes this doesn’t see the law as a big colossal bummer – but rather as a life-giving solid path to follow the God who has freely given him love and blessing.  Let me warn you though – this Psalm is a marathon – it’s quite long so give yourself some time to sit with it and chew on it.  Be blessed this week!
Pastor Ryan


Isaiah’s Commission

Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah’s Commission

1) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2) Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3) And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4) At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5) “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” 6) Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7) With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8) Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Hello everyone, I truly hope you are having a great start to your week.  I can’t speak for everyone – but I know for myself – this last Sunday was a powerful reminder of how awesome and great our God is.  If you are anything like me – then you have been someone who has tried to fit God in a tiny box – reducing Him to bite size level so that you can understand, manipulate, or just feel comfortable with Him.  On Sunday I asked you to imagine you had wallet size photos and one of them was a picture of God.  The question was – what does this picture look like?  Many of us in the evangelical church have grown to really grasp a hold of God as loving; kind; patient and gracious – and to be sure; He is.  But we often lose sight of this other side of God – powerful, mighty, majestic, just; a warrior.  We can’t have one picture of God without the other or we run the risk of making Him an idol in our lives: a manmade god we worship.  We need to have a picture of God that is as accurate as  possible for our understanding, otherwise we begin to get in trouble. Read more…