Fear & Ambiguity

Hello SNC friends!
What is holding us back?
That’s the question we ended the sermon with on Sunday. I’d like to share with you the two reasons that hold me back from joining Jesus in the mission…

1) Fear
2) Ambiguity.

1- Fear… In the past for me – this has been the biggest issue. For some reason I was afraid. I was afraid of being ridiculed or persecuted. I was afraid of being belittled. I was afraid of being stumped by somebody’s question. Often times – I have fears that are centered around a belief that exists for me deep within my heart – that in reality, if I go out and share the gospel – I’ll be doing it alone. I’ll be doing this with my own wits – my own charm – my own ability to persuade; and yet what was clear to the early disciples was that Christ was with them and that his authority and power were the most important things. Yet fear persists for me. It does help me to remember that I am not alone and that even when I say all the “right” things – the outcomes are still in God’s hands…

I can be afraid, but my prayer has been to be able to overcome my fear with boldness and compassion. I think this is a dangerous prayer. God will answer this – and you can bet the answer will be – “Yes… you bet… you got it… So glad you asked.” But let me warn you – if you do pray this – there will certainly be a moment where you will have an opportunity to take a step beyond your fear.

No way – Ryan isn’t afraid! Is he really? Yea… all the time… I’m even afraid when I preach!!!! But God allows me to take steps of faith and the great part is to see Him use me in those moments. It builds my faith, not in myself – but in Him… You can’t be brave unless you’re afraid. I don’t always win in this – but I’m finding when I step beyond my fear – God does some cool stuff…

2- Ambiguity…. This one has been particularly nasty in how it messes with me. “Ambiguous” means “unclear, not exact.” For me, I’ve had a great deal of ambiguity towards the calling of Christ, especially in believing that this calling is truly better than anything else the world has to offer. I’ve read Jesus’ words: “I came that they might have life and they might have it to the full…”

During my life I haven’t always deep down believed those words are true. I’ve wrestled with the question: Is this really better than anything else? Is living life with God, out on the Dangerous Edge of Things – really better than the American dream? Is it better than living for pleasure or comfort?

It’s taken me years to “Buy in,” I’ve spent a great deal of time ambiguous, or ambivalent about the calling of God. I’ve often been confronted with this attitude in my heart. Sometimes I actually think the kingdom of God is not as good as anything this world has to offer!!!! This has kept me on the sidelines. Thank God for His patience and continued wooing to me – to call me away from this ambiguity and to show me how wonderful it is to live this adventure with Him!

So what is holding you back? You know that God loves you right? He hasn’t given up on you. The things that are holding us back won’t just evaporate over night. It will take a while – but He loves you! Let me invite you to pray about this and offer whatever comes to mind, to God. Ask Him to take these things that hinder you and lead you in His way everlasting. Receive His love for you. Then look for opportunities to step beyond the things that hold you back. Take a baby step and see what God will do. You might be surprised! 🙂
I can’t wait to see what God will do with us!

Have a great week everybody!
Pastor Ryan



Fish anyone?

Hello Everyone,
For this week’s 2nd Look I want to show you an excerpt from a film that has literally been used by God to lead thousands to Christ. This week we look at the scene where Peter is led by Jesus to go fishing.
Whenever I read this scene in the Bible – I am so struck by the emotion of Peter. He encounters the miraculous – he comes face to face with God and he realized he is not worthy to be near this man, Jesus. So he tells Jesus to leave him. But God’s grace is so powerful. Do you notice – Jesus doesn’t say” “You’re right – you are a dirt bag.” He doesn’t deny that Peter has sinned either. So in Jesus’ silence there is admission that Peter is accurate He has sinned – but at the same time – there isn’t condemnation. He doesn’t say anything about Peter’s past. Rather He redefines Peter completely: “come with Me and I will make you a fisher of men…”
When we encounter the grace of God; it’s not just a moment that says: “You’re ok – it’s going to be alright” … a grace encounter does more than this – it REDEFINES us!!! Peter’s life would never be the same after that. His destiny would be forever altered. His character would be slowly transformed. That is what God wants to do with each one of us. He is not just saying: “It’s ok – don’t be afraid – You’s you’ve sinned but I love you …” He is also saying: “I’m redefining who you are … you look at yourself as a nobody but I say you are my beloved; my co-heir; a warrior for my kingdom… You say you are a sinner – and I say you are clean; spotless; holy and set apart for a purpose…” Everyday – we wake up to God’s grace that defines us. In many ways – we are all like Peter – kneeling before Him asking Him to leave – and Jesus looks at us and says: “Follow me – and I’ll make you fishers of men!” Amen, hallelujah. Thank you Jesus!!!

Pastor Ryan



Breaking Barriers

Hello SNC Folks!

For this week’s 2nd look, I’m going to share something that didn’t make the sermon. Have you ever heard of musicians making an album? Often times they need to pick 10 – 12 songs to put on the album but this means there are some songs that have to get left off for one reason or another. Then years later they release an album of unreleased material. What I’m about to share with you is like that unreleased material. I love what I’m about to share with you – but because of time I just couldn’t put this in… So here is the unreleased material from last week’s sermon!!!

God’s kingdom knows no boundaries – no barriers! As we watch Jesus live the kingdom we see He lives a life that breaks these barriers and I believe if we want to be used by Him we have to go with Him and do the things He does. Which invites the question: “How does He do it?” I’m glad you asked…:)
Jesus technique is breaking barriers:
1. Plants Himself in enemy territory – Jesus constantly goes beyond the barriers. He goes where people say He cannot go. He will march into the middle of enemy territory and begin building the kingdom. This statement is true: If we want to join Jesus and build the kingdom – it will often be “Out there.” I like to call it “Life on the dangerous edge of things.” When following Christ in kingdom building – it is most often outside our four walls. It’s going into the world and setting up shop where the people are…
2. Shows His Power – Jesus shows who He is through His teaching and His power. In the story of the Samaritan woman – He shows His power through sharing with her knowledge He couldn’t possibly know. I have been coming to believe and be convinced that this world needs Christians not to be “all talk.” At some point action and power need to be seen. As Christians we are told that each of us has been gifted by the Holy Spirit to build up the church. Are you aware of the ways God has gifted you for service? As a church are we content with being powerful in words but powerless in every other way? Jesus met real needs. He was good news before and while He shared good news. I believe we are called to be as well…
3. Speaks the beautiful truth – Jesus teaches the beautiful good news. He doesn’t make excuses, nor water it down. He’ll make bombastic claims He’ll say offensive things sometimes. But His teachings also bring freedom and hope to many who hear it. With the Samaritan woman – Jesus makes bombastic claims and He teaches some offensive truths – but in the end – what He teaches will bring salvation to this woman! Are we truly proud of the gospel? Are we willing to share it? When we do – we often experience the power of God. If we refuse – we don’t.
John Wimber often taught his congregation that Faith is spelled R-I-S-K? Ultimately it comes down to this. Are we willing to follow Jesus beyond the barriers? Are we willing to R-I-S-K? Have a great week everybody.

Pastor Ryan



Are You Gonna Go My Way?

Hello SNC friends!
This past week was our final stop in the Sermon On The Mount. We saw Jesus ask us this question: “Are you gonna go my way?” We spoke about the difference between the wide gate-wide road and the small gate-narrow road. Recently, my children and i have been listening to this song by a man named Lecrae. It’s a song where he calls out to young artists like himself who have bought into the “wide road” mentality and they don’t see the damage it causes. We are called by Jesus to follow Him – but it means we often will be walking a different road than the rest of the world.

So I’m going to do something a little different today. I’m going to share this song with you all. That’s not different; I’ve done this before. What’s different is that type of music I’m sharing with you. This is a rap song. Lecrae, in my opinion; is one of the best rappers in the business today and what’s even more awesome? He’s a Christian making Christian raps that are uplifting and wholesome. My kids absolutely love him. Now I know some of you do not enjoy rap music. I’d like to ask you to consider Lecrae as a modern day poet – and he is incredibly talented.

As you listen to the song – you may notice Lecrae is speaking out against the rap industry selling lies to the kids growing up in the city. They are selling the “wide road.” What is the “wide road” life you have been enticed with? Is there a path in life that Jesus is calling you to follow Him but it’s difficult???

I know this song may not be your cup of tea. But there is a very powerful message in this song – see if you can find it!
Have a great week everybody,
Pastor Ryan



To Judge or Not to Judge?

Hello everyone,
After this last Sunday’s sermon – one of you felt it was important to re-assert with me that while we are called to not be judgmental – that sometimes this is taken too far leaving us at a place where we don’t feel we can say anything is wrong because we are afraid of “judging others.” I think this is an extremely valid point, and I’m grateful to this person for sharing their thought with me. What Jesus is really addressing here is not whether we can say something is wrong – but if we are being hypocritical as we make judgments of others.

Jesus is painting a picture of a community in which people are helping each other remove the specs and planks from each others’ eyes all the while doing this with truth, humility and mercy. All the while this requires God’s leading with which we continue to ask God for in prayer trusting He is a good father and will provide it.

So Jesus is calling us to be a community marked by truth, humility and mercy; rather than judgmental, “Holier than thou,” kind of living. I pray we will be that. Sometimes this means we need to take an extra effort to give someone the benefit of a doubt and get to the truth with them. Sometimes this means we need to admit that we are not perfect either and that sometimes this person hurt us and we are partly to blame as well…Sometimes it means we need to admit we have labeled someone as a lost cause when in reality God loves them and doesn’t see them that way at all…the question is: Lord – how do you want me to see this person? Lord how do you see them? Do I have a right to see them otherwise?

This week – ask the Holy Spirit if there is someone you have judged without truth, humility and mercy. If so – ask God to help you look at this person and fight for these three things…God is faithful we can trust He will provide! Remember – Jesus looks at you with truth and mercy. Does this reality overflow from us to others? You live in a state of His grace and there is a song by Matt Redman where he says: Freely I’ve received now freely to give. Here it is.

Have a wonderful week everybody!
Pastor Ryan



Peacemaker

Hi everyone.
For this week’s second look I want to share a song with you. This last Sunday we talked about being peacemakers. God has called us to be a force of peace in this world. God has been expanding my faith, lately. He wants to blow our minds in this world and bring an explosion of peace, as people get freed in Jesus – and the crazy thing is…… He wants to use us!!!!! This song is an oldie for me. It was released in the 90s and even today it has the same power it had to me back then. In other words – it has been ministering to me for 25 years. below are the lyrics… Have a wonderful week and let this song minister to you, click here for the song. May God bless you
Pastor Ryan

History maker
By Delirious

Is it true today that when people pray
Cloudless skies will break
Kings and queens will shake
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you

Is it true today that when people pray
We’ll see dead men rise
And the blind set free
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you

I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again

Yes it’s true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We’ll see miracles, we’ll see angels sing
We’ll see broken hearts making history
Yes it’s true and we believe it
We’re living for you

I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again
(2x)

Into your arms, into your arms again
Into your arms, into your arms again

I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again



Pure in Heart

Hi folks-

Blessed are the pure in Heart…..

We talked about this on Sunday. I wanted to remind you of what this looks like for us.

It means singular focus – not dividedness. What it that singular focus?

Singular Trust

We trust in Jesus Christ and ONLY in Him; not ourselves, for our salvation. Our behavior; our “goodness” cannot save us – only Jesus does this. This is easy to forget. It becomes so easy to make our salvation and standing with God about our behaviors. Don’t believe me? Read the book of Galatians. The whole book is about this very thing. Our trust needs to be in Him and Him alone.

Singular Confidence

Who or what really defines our worth as a human being? Who defines the worth of others? Do we define ourselves by our success; our wealth; the opinions of others? None of those things last, none of them are eternal. The only thing eternal is God and He defines us as His beloved; His heirs; His children; clean and holy in His sight. This is where we get true confidence from: that we are holy and dearly loved by God through Jesus Christ!

AND we need to cling to this truth – to believe in it and trust it even when it doesn’t seem like this is true. YOU ARE LOVED AND WELL PLEASING TO GOD!

Ok but what about when I sin? Well consider how you may look at your child when they do something destructive to them. You may be exasperated with them but is it not because they are hurting themselves? I think this is very true for how God sees us when we sin. His heart breaks for us because He loves us and we are content with sin and destruction. We are content with “good enough” and not great! He is hurt because we build walls between us where we cannot receive the beauty of all a relationship with God has to offer. Like any father who loves his kids – He wants more for us than we want for ourselves because He loves us!

But do we live in this reality that He loves and is pleased with us? Is this where we get our confidence and identity?

Do you want to know where you get your identity? Do you have things you fear or are stressed about? Take a good look at those things? Often times we are afraid because we hold something dear and we think we might lose that thing. Perhaps we love those things because they give us identity and make us feel good about ourselves…Those things might take God’s place in our lives…interesting stuff.

Singular hope

What do we place our hope in? This is a major question! Our hope is in Christ and Him alone. There is only one thing in this whole world offering eternal hope to all: Jesus Christ. It’s fascinating how quickly we can begin to place our hope in other things.

As you progress through this week – ask yourself in your time with God – “Lord what have I placed my trust, my confidence and my hope in? Oh Father – please bring my heart back to this singular focus where You are the center of my life.”

Have a great week everybody!!

Pastor Ryan



Life Beyond Survival

Hi folks-

It has begun!!!  Our series on The Sermon On The Mount is officially here! I cannot tell you how excited I am to study this beautiful sermon with you all.

Please remember – The Sermon On The Mount is not just some teaching by Jesus on how we can be good humans. It’s a radical re-formation of how we think and how we view life. It’s a majestic portrait of the life we have always been meant to live and yet – as humans it is simply not possible to live this on our own. We need God to develop this sermon in our minds and hearts – to change us from the inside out.

For this week’s 2nd Look – I’d like to invite you to check out this youtube link of a live version of a song many of us know well. It is an earnest prayer for God to change us from the inside out – that He would transform our characters – and the way we see things. I have been praying God would start some really exciting things at our church as a result of the changes He does in our minds and hearts as we study The Sermon On The Mount!!!  Enjoy the song everybody and may it be your prayer this week!

Pastor Ryan