The Passion of Jesus: The Plan Is Set In Motion, Mark 14:1-11

Hello SNC brothers and sisters!

Welcome to 2nd Look.

 

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that has ministered to me through the years. In many ways, the lady in this week’s passage reminds me of this song. I invite you to listen to this song as you read Mark 14:1-11 again.

Here’s the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cel_O-qy0i0

 

There’s a concept that emerged in studying the sermon.

Consider this:

This woman could give to Jesus what she prized the most because she realized her truest and greatest prize was and is Jesus Himself.

What does this concept mean to you? 

 

May God grant you more of his glorious peace this week as you walk with Him!

 

Pastor Ryan

 

 



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



Defeating the Junk That Destroys Us

2nd Look 3.21.16

 

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the 2nd look for this week. This week is very special as it is the week leading up to Easter. So I’m going to depart from typical 2nd look modus operandi and simply invite you to immerse yourself in the Easter story this week. Take some time daily to read the passion story. I have copied over a reading plan for you to use as you progress through the week leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. In a way, you will walk this week with Him. I pray the Lord blesses you and your loved ones.

-Pastor Ryan

 

Day 1 (Palm Sunday): Read Matthew 21:1-11

(for more reading: Luke 19:29-44 Mark 11:1-11, John 12:12-50) 

Day 2: Read Matthew 21:12-20 and John 12:1-14

(for more reading: Mark 11:11-33) 

Day 3: Read Matthew 21:20-27

(for more reading: Matthew 21:28-23:39, Mark 11:20-12:44) 

Day 4: Read Luke 22:1-6 and Mark 14:1-11

(for more reading: Matthew 24-25, Matthew 26:17-30) 

Day 5 (Last Supper): Read John 19:1-16 and Isaiah 54:7

(for more reading: Luke 22:7-52, John 13-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, Mark 14:12-72) 

Day 6 (Good Friday): Read Mark 14:53-15:41, Isaiah 53:5-6, and 1 Peter 1:18-21

(for more reading: Luke 22:47-53, Luke 23:39-43, John 19:1-37) 

Day 7: Read John 19:38-42 and Romans 6:22-23

(for more reading: Mark 15:42-47, Matthew 27:57-66) 

Day 8 (The Resurrection): Read Mark 16:1-7 and Matthew 28:1-20

(for more reading: John 20:1-21:31, Acts 1:9)

 



Live In Truth

Hello everybody. Here’s a question I think would naturally arise from this past week’s sermon:

 “Ryan, you talk about how important it is for us to live in truth. How do I know I’m doing this?”

 Let me give you several things that are indicators you ARE living in truth…

 

1. Lying is not present.

This is obvious. Lying is the opposite of truth, and when we lie to God, ourselves, and others, we create a sort of momentum of untruth in our lives. It becomes easier to lie again. We become a tiny bit hardened to the fact that we have invited untruth in our lives. Now, the natural question is: Yea I get that Ryan, but what about those moments like when your wife asks you – hey honey do you like this dress? Obviously, this is a tricky situation. I would suggest you opt for truth even in situations like this – but you don’t need to give them a full out assault. You could say something like: “Honey to be honest, I don’t really like that dress on you…. And you know, it’s uncomfortable for me to be here shopping with you and you ask me these questions.” You could always just say: “I don’t want to go into this conversation” and then run away!  But the reality is – if you don’t like the dress and you lie about it – then she may buy the dress and you will have to see her wearing it over and over again. Lying is usually something we do to protect ourselves. We tell ourselves we are protecting the other person – but deep down that is actually a rare occurrence. We are protecting ourselves… In the end, it usually bites us. Living in truth is a healthy place to be. It may be awkward sometimes – and certainly we need to speak the truth lovingly,  but in the end, lying rarely ever helps..  

 

2. Growing to cling more and more to the truth of our identity in Christ.

We live in truth, when we make an effort to learn and remind ourselves about our identity in Christ. Do you know your identity in Him? Do you know how God sees you? Do you know who He says you are to Him? This is extremely important and can be very freeing for us. A great book on this issue is: “The Search For Significance” by Robert McGee. The more we can be reminded of our true identity in Christ, the more freedom we begin to experience in life. This is some of the most powerful truth you can know.  Seriously. It’s life changing stuff!

 

3. I know and am able to acknowledge the truth about me.

One of the most damaging things to us is our inability to know and acknowledge truth about ourselves. Here are some powerful areas of truth we need to know and acknowledge

  • Our feelings… so often we don’t have a good sense of what we are feeling in life. We are tired and we don’t know it. We are angry, lashing out at others and not able to see it. We are weak, unwilling to admit it. We lack emotional awareness and it can create havoc. One way to combat this is to take some time at the end of your day, and sit down and think back over your day. What things did you feel during the day? What was going on when you feel these things. How do you feel now? You can also stop at any moment and simply take stock of your feelings. This develops emotional awareness and can help you in the long run.
  • Thoughts And Beliefs: For many of us we are led by our thoughts and beliefs. The things we truly believe will lead us. They are like a pair of sunglasses through which we view the world. Everything is colored by them. We often need to learn why we do the things we do. Why did I react the way I did to that situation? It often has largely to do with some kind of belief system we carry within ourselves. Let me give you an example: the next time you get angry, take a moment and ask yourself: “What am I truly angry about right now? Can I describe what is making me angry in a short succinct sentence? What belief is driving this anger?” It’s not always easy but you can go deeper and deeper with this and discover some powerful reasons why you live the way you do? Why do you feel the pressure you do? Why are you a work-a-holic? Why are you addicted? There are deep roots and getting to the truth of these things can have powerful consequences! 

4. Others know more and more of the truth of me. 

As humans our most natural tendency is to protect ourselves and stay hidden from others. This was the first thing we see Adam and Eve doing after they fell in the garden. They hid. We’ve been hiding ever since the garden. But this is not a movement of truth. Each of us needs a handful of people who know what’s really going on with us. They know our weaknesses, or strengths, our failings and accomplishments. They know how we truly feel and what we truly believe. They know our dreams and our fears. We don’t need a large group like this but we need a few folks. The more people know the truth about us – the more we can find deeper healing. The challenge is- for many of us as Christians, we worship together on Sundays; but in many ways we are alone. We struggle in our marriages but nobody really knows. We struggle with pain, sadness, anger, addiction and nobody is there to love and help us through it. We need this in our lives.

 

So as you think of these four indicators of living in truth, please remember: God loves you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have this down. God is going to keep leading you towards these things. He has not given up. The question is: “Are we ready and willing for him to develop these things in our life?” I guarantee you: it will change your life.

 

Have a great week everybody!

 

Pastor Ryan



We Love Because He First Loved Us

“We love because He first loved us…”
1 John 4:19.

This verse has been haunting me over the last few months especially with my Bell’s Palsy. From the very beginning of the onset of Bell’s, I heard very loudly from the doctors that I was likely overstressed and needed to rest while I worked through this illness… I had one doctor who told me that this was my body telling me it couldn’t keep doing the things it was; that something needed to change.

Following doctors orders I went to an acupuncturist when my family was visiting Mammoth. As I lay there on the table – this woman putting needles in my face, feet, hands and head; she asked me a very powerful question: “Ryan if stress is part of the issue – which I believe it is – what is causing you stress?”
I began to talk it through with her. It felt ironic to me; this woman was clearly a Buddhist; didn’t subscribe to my faith in Jesus but she had a deep peace about her and somehow God was going to use her to minister to me. At one point in the conversation she said: “Ryan, I just think that all this pressure you put on yourself; that maybe you carry for other people – is really never going to be lightened until you learn to let other people go and realize the person whom you are really trying to receive love from is yourself. In the end, the only person who can give you love – is you.”
Upon first glance that sounded fine and all. It had some inspiration to it, something in me related to it – but then I realized that even that was empty. It’s taken years for me to grow to a place where I even like myself. Why would I be looking for love from somebody who I don’t even like or respect? I’m not eternal, I’m not powerful – I’m just a small life living in a small town in a small area of the world. And then the reality is – if loving myself was the key – I would think I’d have figured it out by now. It seems so far away… Something was missing in this. If the key is me just looking in a mirror and saying I love myself and then believing it – that seems easy enough, until I don’t do it well – then can I love myself and accept myself when I cannot love and accept that I love and accept myself?????? It’ so confusing.
Unless, I was never the person I truly needed to receive affirmation and acceptance from. I found myself on that table – a human pin cushion – saying to this young acupuncturist lady – “In my worldview – I think it’s wonderful to love ourselves – but the truth is that ability to love ourselves flows from the reality that we are deeply, truly and perfectly loved by the God who made us. That even in those moments when we are truly human – we fail – we betray – we curse – we stray – that God’s love remains.” Then these words came out of my mouth and they struck home with me: “I guess so much of the weight I carry to please others – the weight I carry to be the best doggone preacher the world has ever seen – the pressure I put on myself to be a perfect father – the pressure I place on myself to say just the right thing to people who are struggling – the pressure I feel to be Jesus even when I can’t – that pressure comes when somehow I lose touch and awareness of the fact that I am loved already; loved perfectly; loved truly and deeply…”
Man that was a huge thought. We both sat there and she said: “That is beautiful – will God love you even when you lose awareness of the fact that He loves you?” I said “Yes”. Then she said – “So I guess to the level you can embrace that truth – is the level you can release some of this weight…”
Why do I say this following up a sermon on marriage? Because we need to be reminded of it every day: WE ARE LOVED! It is this love that inspires us; it frees us; it heals us; it empowers us to love others. To love our spouses.
I’d like to invite you to take some time this week to read 1 John chapter 4:17-21. God’s love for us is hand in hand with our love for others.

Please know that you are loved right now. As a matter of fact, you’ve never been more loved than you are right now. God’s love for you has been written in His mind throughout eternity. He can be nothing towards you but loving. I hope this gives you peace today and brings you freedom. All the stuff we DO must flow from who we ARE –

And YOU ARE LOVED!!!



Defeating Sin In Our Lives

Hello everybody, welcome to this week’s 2nd look!

If you were with us on Sunday you may recall that the sermon was pretty heavy. We were talking about destructive sins that we should seek to avoid and eradicate from our lives.

 

I want to repeat something very clearly. Defeating sin in our lives – especially the ones that are of the nature discussed in Ephesians 5:3-7; is never an overnight thing. It’s a journey. We will have strong moments and weak moments. We will make mistakes but all along the way God will be with us.
The big thing for us as a church is that we not be deceived.  These sins are a big deal and yes – we need to battle against them. So how do we do this? I want to share with you three things that strengthen us for the battle with these sins… These things don’t guarantee that you’ll always defeat the sin – but I do believe these things will put you in a position of strength to wage war and achieve victory and freedom. So what are these three things?

1)Honesty.

Truth has a way of setting us free. Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” We must live in truth. In order to see victory in our lives we must be willing to be honest with ourselves, God and others. Sometimes we need to be willing to admit that we have a problem. Some of us need to admit that we ARE the problem. Some of us need to be willing to admit that the way we’ve been approaching things isn’t working and that we need help… Whatever it is – it seems to me the most important changes that lead to victory and growth always begin with honesty. Unfortunately, honesty is often the last thing we want to move towards, but if you want to see more and more strength freedom and victory in your life over these sins, it’s abundantly clear – you must be honest.

2)Strengthening relationships

We cannot get victory without strengthening relationships in our lives. There it is, plain and simple. But what is a strengthening relationship? Here’s some thoughts:
  • It is honest. Folks in these relationships are truly known – the good, the bad and the ugly. They are real with each other and therefore can support each other when they are weak.
  • It celebrates and pushes growth. A strengthening relationship is one where both parties seek to help the other be the very best version of themselves that God wants them to be. They will not settle for each other caving in.  They celebrate and push each other to grow.
  • It is simply there. Folks in a strengthening relationship are known and not alone. This is a relationship where they are doing life near each other. Their families know each other. They are journeying together.
  • It directs back to God. The chief aim in these relationships is for us to grow and deepen in our relationships with God. These friendships inspire this.
Strengthening relationships are absolutely key to finding strength, victory and freedom from the deadly sins in Ephesians 5:3-7. Without them you will fail. I’ve never seen someone succeed in this without these key relationships. The question to ask yourself is: Who fits the bill of what we described above? If you have no one currently fitting that bill – then who could fit that bill?

3)Seeking And Delighting In God.

Folks in recovery groups like to say they are putting their trust in a “higher power.” The greatest power we have is actually not our own. It is the power of God. One of the key components to victory over destructive sin in our life is actually to delight in and seek God; to have a daily relationship with Him that informs and transforms us. It involves reading the Scriptures, prayer and other spiritual disciplines. This can be very helpful for you and very healthy as well. If this is an area of weakness for you; or an area where you feel clueless and at a loss, let me invite you to seek help. There are folks in our church who have a wonderful relationship with the Lord and would be very helpful in getting you on a path with God. This relationship is something Debbi talked about on Sunday – discipleship or Jesus apprenticeship.  However you name it – the basic idea is that this is one person helping another in their relationship with God.  We all need it…

 

In a few months we will be discussing Ephesians 6 – the spiritual warfare section. The truest form of battle against sin and spiritual warfare – involves us putting on the armor of God. You may want to check it out. Read Ephesians 6: 10-18!

 

There is much more to say on this subject but these three things will put you squarely on a pathway that leads to strength victory and freedom. This week – in one of the commentaries I was reading to do research they writer said: “We don’t just fall into holiness.” That really stood out to me. We don’t just slip up; or just stumble along then all of the sudden – wham bam we’re holy! We don’t become an amazing musician because we just had a piano in our house for years and all the great intentions to learn it. At some point we need to be intentional to learn. We don’t just fall into holiness – it is a journey and it takes intention on our parts. We wage war against these sins in our lives by making intentional, even risky choices. It requires bravery but freedom requires nothing less.

Have a great week everybody
And may God strengthen you as you walk with Him and serve Him

Pastor Ryan



God Goes Before Us!

When I got home on Sunday, I began to kick myself for missing an illustration within the sermon. I was telling this to my wife and she says: “2nd look honey – just put it there.” She’s so smart!

So here it is.

You may remember from the sermon that I tried to build a case that like the Israelites – we have God going before us, and that our task is to follow.  I also pointed us to the fact that when God makes His calling upon us: the big life callings; and the small everyday decision kinds of callings – He is with us and goes before us.

Because I have come out of a background of addiction; this is often something close to my mind, but did you know there is a Scripture that talks about God going before us in relation to temptation? Here it is:

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

 

This verse has been hugely powerful to me through the years. What does it say? Every man will be tempted; every one of us. It’s not a question of IF but a question of WHEN. For me as a recovering addict, I would look at this verse and say – “ok so this is natural to be tempted. It’s normal, it’s human and yet God calls me not to go down this road. So do I battle this temptation alone?” Look at the next part of the verse:

 

“But when you are tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

 

God will provide a way out.  He has gone ahead to open the door for us. Soon my battle with addiction took on a new emphasis. It wasn’t just – how do I say no to my temptation – it was now – where’s the exit. Oh Lord give me the strength to choose this way out that you have provided, over the destructive addictive behavior I desperately want to choose!

 

Even in this verse we see a picture of God going with us and before us. I truly hope that you are reminded just How great our God is this week. He has an intention for you, and I truly believe He goes ahead of you to see this intention become true. Like I said at the end of the sermon: “We often wonder if God will show up – but the reality is: He’s already there – will we show up?!?”

 

May God bless you this week

Pastor Ryan



Law vs. Grace

Hello Everyone,
I’m sitting here very excited. The last 7 weeks have been a very challenging study of the “law” portion of Exodus. I’m very grateful to God for His guiding in this time because as I said when we started this – I was not looking forward to teaching the law. He has been very faithful. With this said – let me invite you to not let your study end there. There is always something to learn from God’s Word and I invite you to go deeper with this. There are great online resources and commentaries out there that can help you grow deeper in your study of any passage of Scripture. I truly hope you have been blessed and challenged in this study. To be honest, I’m still being challenged from the sermon on murder and adultery. The study for that sermon – preaching it and my own reflections have continued to speak to me and it has honestly been unsettling to me at times. (I referred to this earlier in one of my 2nd looks.) I hope that God has touched your life through our study as He has touched mine.
    Okay – so what is our second look this week?  Well – on Sunday we spoke about a lot of things – basically we spoke of lessons we can learn from the law.  As Christians, the Old Testament law has a different significance for us than it did the ancient Israelites.  There are many wonderful things we can learn from the law but it wasn’t necessarily written to us.  The law doesn’t save us – it’s not designed to.  Following the law doesn’t make God happy with us so that someday we’ll go to heaven.  If anything, the law can show us how guilty we truly are.  The law for us as Christians – is a beautiful portrait of a perfect and holy God – calling His people – who He redeemed – to follow Him. This is a powerful lesson to learn from the law: to see the holiness of God in its words and to see that Redemption leads to a calling. Let me repeat that – Redemption leads to a calling.  This has been something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time.  Like many of you; I’ve grown up in the church – grown up around Christianity.  For much of that time – I thought God was angry and displeased with me because I wasn’t following the “rules.” Then when I entered my late teens and early adulthood, I began to bristle against. this.  I was tired of feeling like a screw up – tired of feeling guilty.  I began to lean away from the law; to lean away from feeling obligated in my faith – to God. I didnt want to read books by anybody who made me feel bad about myself or my faith. In my early twenties I discovered “grace.” I became this big “grace” guy – God has given us grace and even if I screw up and don’t follow Him He will still love me…. So…. this means it doesn’t really matter what I do.
      But then addiction entered my life and there was this huge battle between grace that gives me permission to do whatever I want – and the law written in me that said I need to be perfect to please God. I couldn’t balance this. Is God mad at me for all the ways I stink and fail Him – or is He happy with me even though I hurt myself; Him and others?  Which is it???
      Now here I am in the last year of my thirties and beginning to see that my picture of grace can be destructive.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of my heroes writes in his book- “The Cost Of Discipleship”; that there are two kinds of grace: Cheap and Costly.  He says Cheap grace is actually at war against the church and it is an incredibly destructive force.  Cheap grace basically is the kind of grace that says:  “It doesn’t matter what I do – God will always love me anyway – so I don’t need to follow Him or submit to Him.” Costly grace; the right kind according to Bonhoeffer; basically says:  “We didn’t deserve Christ but in His grace God gave Him to us and as a result we are no longer our own but we belong to Him.  We don’t live any way we want because we have received God’s costly grace and are His now.  Our redemption leads to a calling“.
     This is something we need to think about and ponder as Christians. The Apostle Paul writes about this when he says: “You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” The law reminds Israel and us that they were redeemed for a purpose.  Paul reminds us we have been redeemed for good works – to be God’s masterpiece. Think about it – when we don’t do these good works that God has set aside for us – we aren’t living the ” God’s workmanship” life that we were meant for. I can’t help but wonder the untold amount of good deeds left undone – all that has been lost.  Have you heard of the principle of compounding interest?  It basically says – if you invest a little bit of money in a savings account – or some kind of investment account; and you do this over a long time – the interest will grow and compound and you can become quite wealthy as a result. But if you don’t do this – it will be that much more difficult to raise money in the short time. You can likely lose thousands or millions of dollars in compounding interest! I can’t help but wonder how many good deeds have gone undone and have been lost – in my life; many of them small deeds that over time compound our impact for the kingdom – like compounding interest; and when we fail to do these small deeds – the impact is lost.  We are redeemed by Jesus for a purpose! The law teaches us that. What is your purpose? And what are the things that hinder you from pursuing that?
        Maybe this week is a great time to bring this question before God – Lord, what are the good works You prepared for me to do in advance? Is there anything hindering me in that process? Take this before God and let Him lead you in this; but be ready because this question usually results in action.  He’s got plans for you my friend.  Have a great week!
 
Pastor Ryan
 


Murder? Adultery?

Hi SNC Fam,
Man this last Sunday felt heavy.  I don’t know if you felt it – but this was one of the most challenging sermons I feel I’ve preached in a very long time.  Not just because of the material itself but because of how God challenged me in preparing it.  Let me explain…
    As last week progressed, I was thinking about how I would preach this sermon – the content of what I was sharing with you all – when a thought began to come to mind about some people I know.  I don’t know them well – as a matter of fact, I do not know their name but one thing I’m certain of – they are drug users.  We call them “meth-heads.” I’ve run into them several time because they live on my street and God has directed me to pray for them. I rarely see them and usually when I do I’m heading out so it’s difficult to stop and talk with them…. But I’m practically certain they are drug users…
    God has placed a soft spot in my heart for them – has reminded me of them often and yet I have really not reached out to them. My thought process is –
” well I don’t really want to bother them – or they wouldn’t want to talk with me – seems like a waste of time.  I don’t want to throw my “Pearls before swine so to speak…”
    But if I was really honest – and God led me to this last week – I deep down believe that to talk with them would be a waste of time — because they are a waste of time. After all – they are “meth heads” – there is no way they could receive the gospel and there is no way they could really change and if they even wanted it – would I really be willing to help them????
    And then Jesus says- “if you call your brother a ‘Raca’ or a fool”- it’s like you murdered them.  It’s not that I call them names although that really can be quite debilitating and painful – it’s that I’ve come to label them in my mind.  I’ve come to believe this lie about them. I don’t see these people trapped in drug abuse as God’s creation – beloved by Him so much that He would send His Son to die for them.  I see them as a waste of time…
     Can you imagine how much this nailed me to the wall???  Here I am preaching about this and confronted with the deep dark truth of my own heart. Oh God have mercy on me – a murderer and adulterer – a sinner. Oh God what would You have me do?  Oh God – please change me – let me live by Your Word – believing that You are speaking to me through it.  Oh God through the power of your Spirit – let me not label people – or tear them down in my heart or with my words. Oh Lord that You might lead me in a mission to bring light to this dark world and to build Your kingdom. Oh God have mercy on me a sinner.
     I want to close this post with a song.  the starting stanze to the song says this:
Lord, I want to feel your heart
And see the world through your eyes
I want to be your hands and feet
I want to live a life that leads
     This is true of my heart for us all.  It’s hard to admit that our hearts can be dark places and yet we have found the truth – Jesus who loves us in spite of our brokenness..  May we see the world through His eyes.  And may you be blessed this week.  Enjoy the song!
Blessings
Pastor Ryan


What does it mean to “honor your father and mother?”

Hi everyone,
I truly hope you had a wonderful sabbath celebration. If you joined us last Sunday then you may remember we spoke about our relationships with our parents and the 5th Commandment which is: “Honor your father and mother.” As I said – for some of us; this is a heavy commandment; one that involves pain – bitterness – regret – and all kinds of other feelings; and yet this is an area that I believe – if it is observed – can lead to a great deal of freedom and healing in our lives. It can lead to us walking unentangled with Christ and seeing a great deal of fruit produced. But as with many good things in this world – it doesn’t come easily. In fact – it may even feel impossible. You may find that in your heart there is no desire to honor your parents. All you may have there is a desire to HAVE a desire.

If this is true of you – then the very first place to begin is prayer. The Bible tells us God has placed His Spirit in your heart to re-form you into the image of Christ. The goal: We look more and more like Jesus. Jesus honored His Father – and His earthly parents. It wasn’t always easy. But God places His Spirit in your heart to make you open to the things that He wants. Maybe the very first place to begin is with prayer.

The tragedy of the Ten Commandments is that they are impossible to observe and that we are doomed to fail them. The beautiful truth of the Ten Commandments is that we are doomed to fail them . . . And God knew that. This is why He sent Jesus and why He puts His Spirit in our lives to walk with us to guide us; and to work His fruit in us. So naturally, the first place to turn with this issue is to Him. I want to invite you to let this be your prayer if you are struggling with this commandment – or any of God’s other commandments:

Dear Father God,
I recognize you are the Almighty Living God of the universe and there is none who equals You. I trust Your wisdom and Your love for me. I trust that You would invite me to a journey with You where I walk with hope; meaning and freedom. Thank You for all You’ve done for me.

Lord I need to confess that some of what You have called me to is difficult – and sometimes it feels impossible. This is where God, I need You to lead me by Your Spirit. Oh Father help me to follow You – to obey You – because right now there is a part of me that doesn’t want to. Please change my heart in this. Please help me desire what You desire. Please help me trust You when my desire isn’t there. And please remind me of the grace You’ve given me in Jesus. I thank You Jesus for dying for me on the cross; and I praise You because Your sacrifice is enough! Oh Lord may Your will be done in and through me. Be honored my King, my Savior, my God. I love You because You first loved me.

There have been multiple moments in my life where I have confronted callousness; deadness; numbness; belligerence and anger even towards God. Where I’ve had to ask God to accept that this is simply true of me and that I desperately needed Him to do some surgery on my heart – to change me and help me. God has shown up in those moments to begin new movements in my life – but sometimes the biggest thing is to simply be honest about where you are at. My hope and prayer for you this week – is for you to be reminded of God’s great love for you and His great wisdom that He truly knows the best way for us to live – and that God would give you desire and strength to follow Him.

Be Blessed Everyone,
Pastor Ryan