Soul Friendship and Mentorship

Hello everyone, welcome to the 2nd Look!

On Sunday I talked about the importance of having deep soul friendships. I mentioned a Soul Friend is “someone who supports, collaborates with, encourages, pushes, and builds you up to be the best you that God made you to be.”

 

I want to share with you about a different kind of soul friendship. I call it “Spiritual Mentorship,” “Spiritual Coaching,” or “Spiritual Direction.” This kind of soul friendship can be very encouraging and powerful! I actually see a Christian Spiritual Director once a month.

 

Christianity Today published an article in 2003 describing Spiritual Direction in this way:

 

What is spiritual direction?

 

Spiritual direction is a voluntary relationship between a person who seeks to grow in the Christian life and a director. The latter is not, notice, a counselor or therapist. Rather, he or she is a mature Christian who helps the directee both to discern what the Holy Spirit is doing and saying and to act on that discernment, drawing nearer to God in Christ.

The focus is on intimacy with God, not on the solving of clinically identified psychological problems. The whole sinful orientation of the self, not any particular dysfunction, is the “problem” to be addressed. The director helps directees identify ways they have sought satisfaction and fulfillment from sources other than God, in the process pushing God aside. Directees are led to hear the Holy Spirit (the “real spiritual director”) calling them back onto the right path. The director’s role is one of coming alongside, rather than dictating a program. The relationship thus shares some features with the Celtic ideal of a “soul friend” or “anamchara.” However, its nurture usually flows only one way.

Being a good spiritual director requires not a doctorate but mature theological knowledge, a degree of holiness, and a knack for discernment.

 

I see both a therapist and a spiritual director and I can honestly say there is some overlap between the two but spiritual direction is really focused more on what God is doing in my life and learning to hear Him better. It has been hugely beneficial for me. Spiritual direction is not usually free. Sorry, but when you think of investing in your spiritual journey with God, and that this journey is in actuality more important than anything else, perhaps spending $40-$60 an hour isn’t that bad. If you are interested in spiritual direction here’s a link for you:

 

https://www.graftedlife.org/spiritual-direction/find-a-spiritual-director

 

Thanks everyone and may God bless you this week!

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

 



Jesus Sends the Disciples and Loses His Cousin, Mark 6:7-30

Hello and welcome to the 2nd Look.
For this week I want to share one of our main points from Sunday’s sermon:

 

If you are a follower of Jesus, you will be SENT!

 

Yea, I know Ryan.

 

No seriously. You. WILL. BE. SENT!

Seriously???

 

I think we hear a line like this and we nod our heads in approval but deep inside we don’t really buy it.

 

Well, maybe somebody else will be sent, but not me. And if I’m to be sent, then where, cause I’m not that go-over-the-seas type of guy…

 

We think maybe this being “sent” is for someone else. But the reality is, we will all be sent.

We need to ACCEPT AND EXPECT this!

We might be sent across the street to our neighbors, sent across town, or across the county. We may be sent across the country or the world. But the reality is this:

as followers of JESUS- WE WILL BE SENT!

 

Here are 2 verses I’m sharing with you to support this idea.

John 14:12

Luke 4:18

 

I invite you to read these verses and see if you can figure out how they support the main point I’m making that you will be sent.

 

And here’s the cool thing! When we are “sent”, and we actually go in obedience to God- these are the moments we see Him move and we get to work in partnership with Him, under his guidance and empowering. It is SO Cool; and this is what makes the Christian faith an adventure. When we don’t go with God as He invites us- we miss out on a huge joy of the Christian life.  

 

One last question for you to consider: “Lord; how might you be wanting to send me?”

 

Have a great week everyone!!!

 

Pastor Ryan



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

I want to remind you of the lessons of powerful faith we learned from the story in this week’s sermon. I’m going to rephrase them a bit.

 

  • Powerful faith begins with desperation and dependence.

It all begins with us knowing we are completely powerless without Christ.

We are truly dependent upon Him.

  • Powerful faith is active.

It’s not just sitting there thinking about it. We begin exercising faith when we actually take a step- when we actually follow.

  • Powerful faith is persistent in overcoming obstacles.

If we know there is no better place to be than by Jesus’ side, faith says: “I will stop at nothing to get close to Jesus!”

  • Powerful faith somehow played a role in the miracle.

Think about this. Jesus told the woman: “Your faith has made you well.” Well, we’d actually be more inclined to say: “God made her well,” or “Jesus healed her.” But somehow- some way- this woman’s faith, and Jairus’ faith, played a role. The true nature of just how faith impacts God’s movement is a mystery. I wish I could give you a clear explanation but I cannot. The reality is… It’s a mystery. All we can do is simply know- that my faith, somehow- makes a difference. Think about that. God has taken us- those who were His enemies, radically saved us through Jesus, and then given us a role to play in the kingdom! How amazing is His love for us!!!!

 

Folks, my invitation to you this week is to consider these powerful faith lessons and ask yourself what the state of your faith is.

 

Have a wonderful week everybody.

If you like music here is a great song about faith.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNwt7LQiYck

 

May God’s peace be with you all!

Pastor Ryan



Jesus and the Storm, Mark 4:35-41

“When faith is M.I.A.,
fear is not far away.”

 
Good morning SNC brothers and sisters.
It’s 2nd look time!
 
This week I invite you to consider the question I left you wit on Sunday.
 
The question went something like this:
Think about something you are nervous, worried or scared about in your life. Something that may feel like a storm coming against your “boat.” Now think about how you view Jesus in the midst of that storm? Does He seem distant, aloof, uncaring, or the opposite? In your mind is He the one with the solution or do you feel tempted to look elsewhere? Who is Jesus for you in the midst of this storm?
 
Bring this to God in prayer this week and consider Mark 4:35-41 again as you pray.  We mustn’t forget who Jesus is and just what He is capable of! 
 
Have a great week everybody and may God strengthen you in the grace of Jesus Christ!
 
Pastor Ryan



Jesus’ Kingdom Parable Part 2: , Mark 4:21-34

“God is always more profoundly moving than we think He is; even when it seems like He is doing nothing at all.”

 

This is perhaps the center point of the sermon from this past weekend. When we realize this, we come to see that our task is to find where He is at work- to find what He is doing and then to join Him in the harvest!

 

I closed the sermon on Sunday talking about how this idea was true in the life of Joseph. But he wasn’t the only biblical character where this was true. God was working in Moses’ story even when it seemed He wasn’t. God was working in the story of the Israelites even at those moments when He seemed silent. God was active behind the scenes in the story of Esther. God was a force-moving incognito at times in the story of David. The list goes on and on.

 

This week, I invite you to pray with me. “Father, give me eyes to see some of the ways your Holy Spirit is working around me, or in me. Father, give me the courage to join you when you reveal to me what you are doing.”

 

Don’t be surprised if He shows you something this week.

Have a great week everybody! May God grant you his peace beyond all understanding!

 

Pastor Ryan



Strength For Dad’s: 5 Things That Strengthen Us For the Journey

Hello Dads!

I truly hope you had a wonderful Father’s Day. I want to give you the list of the power-ups for dads I shared in yesterday’s sermon. Anyone can be blessed to have these things in their lives, and as you look at the list- I invite you to pray and ask the Lord: “Father what would be your invitation to me with these power-ups?”

I truly believe in the restorative, inspiring, strengthening power of each of these things. Check them out and let them be a matter of prayer and conversation between you and God.
Here they are:

 

5 Power-Ups for Dads!

  • Regularly celebrating that first and foremost: I AM God’s Son

This can be a wonderfully freeing, and hopeful truth we so often forget but desperately need to have at the forefront of our minds.

  • The presence of true brothers in my life

A true brother is like-minded with you; walks alongside of you; wants to see you become the best version of who God created you to be; celebrates truth with you; has your back and supports you.

  • The gift of a haven

A haven is a place of refuge, restoration, and rejuvenation. We all need a haven… or several!

  • Embracing the fact that I am human, and so is everyone else

Dads are human beings. We need to embrace the fact hat we are human. This can show up in different ways. For some of us it means we need to give ourselves some grace- yeah we are human and we make mistakes. For some of us as Dads it means that we are only human and therefore we will always have things we can learn. We haven’t arrived. For some of us as dads embracing humanity means we can give grace to our kids or our own parents. Embracing humanity is a huge idea!

  • Holy Spirit empowering

Finally we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Real transformation as dads doesn’t happen through our own sheer grit and determination- it happens through holding tightly to Jesus- walking with him- enjoying him and then letting God transform us!

 

As this week progresses, let these power-ups be present with you. Let me invite you to simply put these before God and see what He might say to you. What might he have you know or understand? Is there an invitation he is giving you in all of this?

 

Have a great week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



Jesus Doesn’t Do It Right, Mark 2:18-22

Hi folks-

Welcome to this week’s 2ndLook!

If you remember, this past Sunday we talked about how Jesus is joyful and so is his Kingdom. We often get this picture of God that He is an austere, overly serious, unhappy, and opposed to joy. Because we think God is all of these things we begin to think we must be these things as well. I have had multiple conversations with people through the years who think it’s actually inappropriate to get excited in church- to be loud, to jump around, to dance. I think in reality Heaven is going to be all of these things and more. We are going to celebrate for the rest of eternity.

 

Think of something you enjoy in life. I don’t know about you but I’ve often caught myself thinking- I enjoy this thing but I’m pretty sure God either feels nothing about the fact that I enjoy this thing or He actually is unhappy that I enjoy this thing. Maybe He thinks I enjoy it too much? But I would rarely think God is actually enjoying the fact that I’m enjoying this.

 

I used to go to the beach to play and ride waves. If you were to ask me if I thought God loved the fact that I enjoyed this I’d probably say that I didn’t think God felt one way or the other about it. But as the years have gone by I’ve begun to realize that God is a heavenly Father who loves His kids and loves to give good gifts to His children. Sure He disciplines us at times but He does this because He delights in us.  I have begun to realize that my enjoyment of His creation is an opportunity to celebrate with Him. Hey, even God saw what He created and said: “It is good!

 

Now one person might say: “What if what you are enjoying is sinful? God wouldn’t possibly enjoy that we are sinning would He?” I don’t think God enjoys us becoming enslaved to things. Certainly, He will call us away from things that are bad or enslave us. And that is where discipline comes in. But so often I’ve found myself thinking God may not even enjoy my laughter or the fact that I’m having fun. No, God only enjoys when we are beating ourselves up, denying ourselves something, reading our Bible and being super Christians doing spiritual disciplines.

 

We hear the phrase “spiritual disciplines” and it freaks us out because we can’t possibly imagine how the disciplines could be a joyful experience. The word “discipline” is such a heavy word. But even the disciplines can be acts of joy.

 

I think we need to add the word “delight” to the list of spiritual disciplines. What would it look like for us to intentionally delight in things and let our delight turn us towards God in gratitude and celebration? If you see a great sunset; delight in it, drink it in, and then proclaim with God that His creation is good. We get a great hug from our spouse, or kiss… delight in it! God made this to be a wonderful thing to us. Delight in it and thank God for it. We eat a great meal; delight in it, celebrate the great gifts God gives us in a simple meal.

 

Everyday there are reasons to be grateful and celebrate all around us. My invitation to you: Let’s delight and celebrate something every day this week. Your celebration can simply be to enjoy and then turn to God with a simple prayer of gratitude. Today I had a great lunch with a friend and during this lunch we spoke about real things close to our hearts. What a sweet time of discussion and being real with one another. I just sat back and enjoyed great food, good laughter, being vulnerable and thanked God for these moments because I think He was very much enjoying that conversation too.

 

The bible tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father above. Let’s enjoy Him enjoying us this week!

 

Have a great week everyone!

Pastor Ryan