Epic Fail…then what?

Hello SNC brothers and sisters!

For this week’s second look I’d like to direct you to 1 Corinthians 10:12-13:

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (NLT)

This past week we looked at one of the darkest chapters in the book of Exodus. The Israelites fail; they fall and do so at a mind staggeringly quick pace. We talked about how anyone can fail in this life and not just the little “oopsie daisy” type of failures; but the huge monumental: “My life may never be the same” kind of failures. Then I shared with you  two lessons we can learn from the failure of the Israelites. The first lesson looked at how the Israelites’ failure began with absence. We looked at how the absence of Moses was deadly for them and how we also need a “Moses” in our life. Moses may be a literal person there to hold us accountable – or it may be certain guidelines we keep in place to protect us from failures. The reality is – we can all be tempted – we can all fall. This is what 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 tells us. Look at how Paul starts his exhortation. He says: “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”  This is something that many of us forget. We think we are above temptation or just impervious to it. But we’re not. Temptation is common to man and Paul guarantees for us that we will be tempted – and that God will be faithful to provide a way out – an exit point.

I don’t know about you but I am a bit of a cautious person in enclosed spaces and I have a bit of an overactive imagination. One way this shows up is that when I walk in a room I’m aware of exit points. When I’m on a plane, I know where the exit doors are because if we somehow crash in a lake or the ocean, I want to know where I need to begin swimming to get out of the plane. When I’m in a theatre, I want to know where the exits are in case there is an earthquake. I once was on a boat going to Catalina; a little yacht that transported people from the mainland to the island in about two hours. Shortly after we pushed away from our dock my mind began to run and I began to look for places I can hide in case a band of robbers took over the ship (yes I’ve seen Die Hard one time too many). I could hide there then figure out a way to get a distress signal out. I know it’s crazy but hey – when this stuff happens, I’ll have a plan ready; and then who will the weirdo be???  🙂

My point is – the more helpful and accurate way to look at things is to have a plan ready – a structure in place for when temptation comes; because it will. You may have heard it said: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  I would add to that: “Failing in your plan – is planning to fail.” If we fail to plan, or if our plan is faulty then we are in trouble – we may be already defeated and we don’t even know it yet.

I don’t say this to make you overly paranoid – but there is a sobriety upon which we must place this issue.  We need “Moses” in our life to safeguard us – to be that wall between us and failure. For me one of the most powerful Moses’ I’ve had has been an uncompromising decision and effort to be known by others. I am someone who has decided it is better to be known than hidden. I’ve chosen to let people into my life – not everybody but a group of men whom I trust with the deep dirt in my soul. They have – in turn trusted me with their dirt.

I cannot tell you how much this has impacted my life not just in the fact that I have a group of Moses’s holding me accountable – but even in making my life more rich. I am known and am loved. This has deeply and profoundly impacted me. Just this one behavior of having a group of men in my life who know my junk – has blessed me beyond what I can measure. I have been blessed with wonderful friendships that are truly deep and fulfilling. I can honestly say I never had brothers when I grew up – but God has provided me brothers since my college days. These men know me and I know them. Our families are growing up together and I am so grateful to God that He used my addiction to push me towards this way of living. It requires boldness and wisdom to share your true self – but I have never regretted this – and nothing has impacted me more than this. This has been a powerful “Moses” in my life; and these men are now the escape that I believe Paul was talking about in our verses above. When I’m tempted – I call them – text them – get coffee with them. I admit failures to them and there is no compromise here.

I pray for you that you may find Moses’ in your life. Sometimes it will feel risky but it might make all the difference in the world for your road in the future. I know that days will come when I am tempted – but I also know I have my Moses’ there keep my eyes pointed towards God.

Have a great week everybody!

Pastor Ryan

 



Contentment

Hello everyone,
My day has begun with a very reflective note. Tim Deaver sent me a link to a video about a man who stands outside one of the most “busy” abortion clinics in the US. This man has devoted himself to standing there and preaching and handing out booklets – praying for young women – and giving himself; rain or shine; to the defense of those who have no voice: the unborn. In the video we see this man faithfully standing there – not abusing people but offering the love of Christ and begging them to reconsider their actions. I have attached the link here. It’s about 8 minutes long, but very thought provoking.
This last Sunday we closed the service talking about contentment. The thought I shared was that our contentment is impacted greatly by our view of this life. Do we truly believe and live like this life is all there is? Because if we do – then of course we would want a bigger house – more fun – more money – more influence – a replacement of our spouse – better health – etc – and we might grow disillusioned or discontent with our lives as they currently are. It’s at those moments we become more susceptible to coveting what belongs to others and more susceptible to stealing – or lying – or adultery – or dropping our sabbath – or worshipping things that are man-made or created. Things can go sideways for us and at the heart is this question – do I believe and live like this world is all there is?

Or . . .

Do I believe there is a greater reality that is outside this world? Is there a kingdom being built on this earth that is eternal? If there is – then maybe some of the things we often get discontented with are actually not as important as we think. I’m not saying we should forget our jobs – our families – ditch out on our mortgages and stop paying taxes then move to a mountain convent somewhere; because “hey – this life isn’t that important.” No I’m not saying this. It’s important to pay our mortgages – pay our taxes, love our families – take care of our bodies – work hard – these are all good things; but sometimes they become more important than the calling of God in our lives. Sometimes our priorities are out of whack. We may work hard at our jobs but NOT because we see our job as a place where we can worship God – serve Him and share the gospel with others. Rather we work hard to build our own kingdom on earth; to amass wealth and influence. When we do this – things can go sideways. The question is – “What am I living for: this world – or for eternity?” Is eternity what drives our values and actions.
The Apostle Paul says: “Set your minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” I’ve heard some people say: “That boy is so heavenly minded he’s no earthly good.” But unfortunately what happens is – that many are so earthly minded they are no heavenly good. Do we see this life as all there is?
Now back to this guy in front of the abortion clinic. I see a story like this and I’m reminded of this reality: what it could look like for a man to get excited about doing eternal things. According to this video – since the guy started his ministry he’s helped save over a thousand babies and ministered to many pregnant women. Here’s a guy who is so heavenly minded he’s doing a lot of earthly good. It challenges me. I dream of seeing people get motivated to do eternal things while here on earth. I dream of being used by God to help people find God’s heavenly calling in their lives.
Do you have questions about God’s calling for you? Let’s talk about it. Call me – email me – let’s set up on appointment to sit down and discuss this. Take time to pray on this and ask God what His calling is for you but be warned – if you start looking for this – if you really take God seriously here and are willing to follow – HE WILL ANSWER YOU! It will be a ride – an adventure.

May God bless you this 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