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Leadership Blog

The Right Message
Feb 19, 2018

Do we know what message we are sending out? Whether we are consciously communicating or not, we are sending a message. Our actions, our words, our tone, they all send a message. It is important for us to understand that message and ensure we are not sending the wrong message to our fellow brethren and the rest of the world.

In 1948, the dramatic film Grapes of Wrath was seen as a useful propaganda film by the Soviets. This film depicted the journey of a destitute family from their repossessed farm in Oklahoma to backbreaking work in the Californian fields. It showed the hardships and the harsh conditions of the migrant worker camps. The Soviets felt that this film would show the dangers of capitalism and illustrate the greatness of their philosophy. As the ruling officials showed the film to the people, though, the opposite reaction occurred. Instead of proving the negatives of capitalism, the people became outraged. Even the poorest American family could still afford a car, a luxury they were not able to have.

Likewise, when we espouse the message of God’s love then act in hurtful and hateful ways, we end up distorting the message. Consider James 3 8-10:

8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

Here James is pointing out the need for us to use our words carefully and always for the Kingdom. Too often we find ourselves gossiping or putting others down. How can we claim to be disciples of Christ when we do these things?

Even our words spoken flippantly will be held against us. In Matthew 12:36, Christ reminded us all that we will be held accountable to even idle talk:

36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. We are ambassadors, we are agents. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

We are to be a reflection of the Kingdom, glorifying God in all we do and say and even think. And we have all failed at this spectacularly.

To stop here would leave us all feeling defeated, as there is no way we can fulfill this task. But the greatness of the Gospel is not in convicting us, but leaving us with Hope. We, in our own selves cannot be perfect. We cannot reflect the Kingdom by what we ourselves do, say, and think. Rather, we must realize who gives us strength and who may make us successful.

Consider the vine imagery that Christ gives us in John 15:4-5: 1

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Here Christ makes it clear that we cannot bear the necessary fruit by ourselves. We need to rely upon God’s Wisdom, and His Spirit.

So let us return to the beginning. What message are we portraying as Christians. Too often we think we must portray a message of perfection. We must be beyond reproach. We must never show any dirt of our fallen hearts. But this only works if we were able to bear fruit ourselves. It is only through a close walk with Christ that we can bear fruit.

“ 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

So what are we to do? The message we are to give the world is a large and complex discussion. But the first step in that is to understand our role. We are not responsible for developing the message. We are responsible to obediently and humbly seek the Father and walk in His Path. It is through these efforts that we may give the Right Message to the world. They look at us and expect perfection, because our Lord was perfect. But Christ reached out to us in our imperfection. He did not make us perfect and leave us to maintain perfection ourselves. He is the only source of truth, of perfection, and of love.

As you go through your week, consider ways you communicate to others. Do you cut down others with your words? Do you gossip? What is just one way you can better reflect Christ in your speech? The world is watching our message. We must ensure they see God’s message instead.

Leadership Blog

Does God care about the little things?
Feb 14, 2018
 
Pregnant rumblings chore charts lost keys. What do these three things have in common? 
 
They are a few of the little” things of life. Are they too little to bother praying about?
 
1. Pregnant rumblings. Genesis 25 tells us that Rachel was barren and Isaac prayed on behalf of his wife. She became pregnant and there was turmoil in her womb. Verse 22 (NKJV) says that she asked God, If all is well, why am I like this?” And then God, the Creator of all the universe, tells this one little mother why there was rumbling in her body. That’s a little thing in the scope of the world a pregnant woman’s question, but our God cares about the questions we have, big and little.
 
2. Chore Charts. When my kids were young, teaching them a work ethic was important to me. I wrestled with them (and we had rumblings) often! So I began to ask God to help me teach my kids. Five different times, God gave me creative ways to develop chore charts to help our home run more smoothly. As my kids grew, the chore system needed to change and I sought His direction each time. It’s a little thing in the scope of the world a chore chart for my family, but our God cares about the questions we have, big and little.
 
3. Lost keys. Last week at Bible study, a young mom could not find her keys. Many people looked EVERYWHERE for hours. We believed God knew where they were and prayed for God to help us find them. About an hour later, I got a phone call, I think I have someone’s keys in my bag. I don’t usually start my homework for the week, but I kept feeling compelled to get my Bible study book out and look at it. When I did, I saw a set of keys.” It’s a little thing in the scope of the world a set of keys, but our God cares about all the circumstances in our lives, big and little.
 
My mom would say this quote as I was growing up, I know God cares about little things, because God is the Lord of my life and my life is made of little things.” I am thankful for many of the qualities of God. One of the things I am grateful for is that He cares about little things.

 

 

 

Leadership Blog

Battle of the Blankets
Feb 12, 2018

I love to sleep. If you know me, you know I love my bed just as much as I love my food. I love sleeping with at least two pillows so it doesn’t feel like the bed is empty. I don’t like sleeping with a sheet because I feel too confined and it’s unsafe (my logic... I need to be able to have a quick escape if someone breaks into my room, I can’t be having my sheets tucked under my bed at all angles). I love sleeping like a starfish, sprawled out on every inch of my bed. I just love my sleep!

But my relationship with sleep can be unhealthy at times. Some days, I choose to sleep in until the very last possible moment before my day begins. Some nights I work extra hard to strategically plan my routine for the next morning so that I can be super efficient. Once in a blue moon, I’ll even sleep in most of my outfit for the next day so that I can sleep for an extra 5 minutes.

I’m telling you guys... it is bad. Sometimes it is so bad that on some mornings, I put God on the back burner. I choose to sleep in an extra hour or 30 minutes rather than spending time with the Lord. I tell myself, “well I can just do it later.”

That is NOT okay! God does not deserve to just “fit in” with my day. He deserves to get first priority as soon as I wake up. And it isn’t really because He deserves it (although He does) but it is because He changes the course of my day!

This month, our ministry starts early and ends late. We are eating breakfast by 6:30am and starting ministry by 7am. So I’ve had to discipline myself in getting up early to spend time with the Lord. My first alarm goes off at 5:07am and then my second one (just in case) at 5:17am. And to be honest with you, the discipline of getting up early and spending time with the Lord hasn’t been this huge revelation... but spending time with Jesus does fill my soul. His grace pours over my heart when it is dry. I? will always leave refreshed when I spend time in His presence, because He IS the source of nutrients for my soul.

Friends I want to encourage you, spend time with the Lord. Read the Bible. Turn on some music and worship. Dance. Write out a prayer. I promise you, you will be filled up. I promise you He will satisfy the deepest parts of your soul.

Leadership Blog

Wonder 119
Feb 08, 2018

Back in Vietnam my squad and I wrote our own version of Psalm 119.

Each verse in Psalm 119 starts with a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. We followed the same pattern with our alphabet. Each team has their own “chapter” that they were responsible for writing. It is a bit long, but I promise you, it is worth it. It will give you a good glimpse of what kind of people I have the privilege to do life with and the life we are striving for as a body of believers.

Chapter Shema
Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End.
All we are is found in You.
Anchoring our souls in the waves of Your love.
Abiding in the goodness of Your grace.
And only one thing we seek, to dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of our lives
As we wait in anticipation, knowing.
Above all, You are.

Behold, the heavens declare the glory of God.
By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made. Their starry host by the breath of His mouth.
“Beloved”, You call us by name, perfect and complete.
Breaking the chains of our flesh in habits.
Blessed are we for You set us free!
Because You first loved us we are able to walk in boldness.
Becoming sons and daughters You created us to be.
Bravely declaring the Word of the Lord.

Christ our King, and our Lord.
Crucified You redeemed our sins allowing us to be born again.
Condemnation is no longer part of our lives, shame no longer defines us.
Calling us higher to walk in Your Spirit and
Continuously we seek to serve through Your love.
“Come follow Me”, You said,
“Carry your cross.”
Completed and finished is Your victory over death.

Chapter Bloom
Declare the Name of the Lord to all the witnesses.
Do not forget His great faithfulness.
Depend fully on His mercy and grace.
Desire more of His Spirit, always.
Devote yourselves wholeheartedly to prayer.
Dedicate your ways to Him.
Dwell in the house of the Lord daily.
Do not forget His great faithfulness.

Endure all trials with steadfast faith.
Enemies will come but God has already won.
Endlessly approach His throne when sorrows swallow you whole.
Empty hands lifted high are ready to receive the Lord’s blessings.
Exalt His Name, near and far.
Exclaim His wonders.
Earthly possessions will soon be forgotten.
Endurance in the Lord will bring the crown of life.

Flourish in full bloom for we are His daughters.
Fear has no choice but to flee at the mention of His name.
Free from bondage, you are already forgiven.
Forget not His promises.
Face the enemy with God’s all-surpassing power.
Faith is an action, not a feeling, so jump.
For the fullness of joy is found in being fully who He says you are, so
Flourish in full bloom for we are His daughters.

Chapter Zion
God You are good.
Great is Your love throughout all generations.
God You are matchless.
Great is Your Name above all names.
God You are infinite.
Galaxies proclaim Your majesty into eternity.
God You are glorious.
Glory is Your declaration and wonder is our response.

Hear my hearts cry, oh God.
Help me in my darkest hour.
Heal my downtrodden spirit.
Hungry am I for Your all-consuming presence.
How vast is Your love for us.
How marvelous is Your name.
Heaven declares your Hallelujah.
Hallelujah is the Lamb.

Chapter Chayah
Joy, unthinkable joy, your joy is my strength.
Jealously demanding as the grave; You are enough, You are enough.
Joyously I lift my hands in surrender, You alone order my steps.
Justified by Your blood, I am victorious in Your love.
Joy, unthinkable joy, You came to earth in search of me.
Jumping and dancing when you call my name. Freedom reigns, freedom reigns.
Joyfully I kneel weeping at Your feet. Your greatness surpasses all understanding.
Jesus, Jesus my joy unthinkable.

Kindness and goodness overflows from Your presence. I have everything I need in You.
Kindle the fire within so that I may abide in Your presence.
Knock down the walls, the walls of my heart. I want to be totally known by You.
Know my heart, oh Lord, as I am chasing after You. You are my one desire.
Keep me in the palm of Your hand, far away from all of Satan’s schemes.
Kings on earth have selfish ambitions, but Your love invites me to a feast at Your banquet table.
Knees will bow at the sound of Your great name. Nations will sing Your praises forever.
Kingdom come so that I may live in the fullness of who You are. I want all of You.

Lord, Your love is immeasurable.
Lavished over all the earth.
Let me linger in Your goodness and faithfulness.
Let me dwell in Your promises with laughter and joy all the days of my life.
Lead me in Your way everlasting.
Lead me down Your perfect path.
Lead me to love You deeper and seek You with my whole heart.
Let me rest in Your presence all the days of my life.

Chapter Jubilee
Maker of Heaven and Earth, we love to sing Your praises.
My heart declares Your infinite glory.
Momentary glimpse into the depths of Your love refresh my soul. All of creation, including the
Mountains bow down in humble submission.
My heart will also do the same, I see Your
Majesty and I will remember the faithfulness and
Miracles which You have promised us.
Maker of Heaven and Earth, we love to sing Your praises.

Never, Father, will You forsake me.
Never will You leave my side.
Never will I walk alone through a valley
Night and day I will abide.
Never Lord will I cease to praise You.
Never, will I doubt Your love.
Never will my foundation be shaken.
Nothing will cause my eyes to wonder; my grace is fixed on You above.

Oh, how great are You Lord. How I long to be like You.
Open my mind to comprehend Your greatness.
Open my eyes to see people like You do.
Open my mouth to speak love and truth.
Open my hands so that I may give all that I have to You.
Open my ears to listen to Your voice.
Open my heart to love more like You.
Oh, how I long to be with You all the days of my life.

Chapter True North
Praise the Lord who is faithful.
Patiently we wait for His Kingdom to come.
Praise the one who seeks after the lost,
Precious are they in His eyes.
Praise Him whose promises I cannot break,
Peace floods my soul because I trust in Him.
Powerful is He in His pursuit of me.
Perfect love washed away fear.

Redeemer, You are worthy of praise.
Righteous Savior, You are my portion.
Reverently I enter into Your presence.
Resting in Your promises, I remain.
Rejoicing in Your eternal pursuit.
Resting in the delight You bring.
Refine my soul, oh Lord.
Remember me and let Your favor fall.

Shares of sin entangle us,
Sorrow floods our souls.
Selfishly the desires of our flesh overcome us,
Songs of sadness enter our hearts.
Suffering through tribulation, we
Seek truth in the world but find it only in The Word.
Sin no longer binds our souls.
Sufficient is Your grace.

Chapter Joy
Through the trials
The Lord's goodness
Testifies His faithfulness.
Thoughts of praise are all around me.
Trouble hearts no more.
Thanksgiving erupts a song of joy.
Treasure is built up in Heaven
Through God’s loving grace.

Victorious we stand,
Valued by our Heavenly Father.
Vessels for His kingdom work,
Very sure of His love for us.
Victims are we no more.
Valleys of hope we walk in.
Vast is Your love Oh Lord,
Visible signs of Your miracles.

Wholeheartedly I come to You,
Weight lifting off my soul.
Whisper Your love Oh God,
Wrap me with the Holy Spirit.
We call ourselves Wonder Church because
We seek after one thing.
Wonderful it is to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Chapter Leadership
Yelling Your love for me while whispering to my soul.
Yahweh, I call upon Your Name in my darkness,
Yet Your goodness remains.
You have captured my heart within Your kindness.
Yearning after You I lay down my own wand and follow after You with all my heart, mind, and soul.
Your love satisfies the depth of my soul.
Yes, I will follow You always, I will continue to seek after Your heart.
Yeshua my king, may Your reign be eternal and Your kingdom everlasting.

Leadership Blog

Don't Judge Me
Feb 05, 2018

In May of this year, I will have served in student ministry for 7 years. Over those years, there have been a number of phrases and sayings that I have heard students say on a regular basis. A number of these sayings have even migrated their way into the vocabulary of adults. There is one saying, however, that I hear more often than any other in the church and it is of concern to me because I think it strikes at a big piece of how discipleship works and what makes Biblical discipleship beautiful.


“Don’t judge me!”


We’ve all heard it said, or said it ourselves, at one point or another. The proverbial “get out of jail free” card. However you feel about this statement, what really matters is what Scripture says about judging someone else, and that is what I want to focus on in this brief article.
The issue centers around Matthew 7:1-3 which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? (ESV)” However, a look back in chapter 6 reveals multiple warnings against hypocrisy, specifically in regards to prayer and fasting. If you then read Matt 7:3-5 what you will find is yet another warning against hypocrisy. The issue, then, appears to be not that all judging is wrong but that hypocritical judgment is wrong.


In my experiences with people who say “don’t judge me”, they rarely (read never) say this in regard to what Matthew 7 is talking about. I fear that what they are saying actually goes against an important facet of discipleship. What I think many people are communicating when they say “don’t judge me” is “don’t tell me that what I’m doing is wrong.”


If that is what is truly meant by “don’t judge me” then I would have some serious questions about how someone is supposed to love a brother or sister in Christ who has fallen into sin. Can we truly love Christ’s bride while letting her choose the road that leads to death? I don’t think so.


As believers, we should be cultivating a culture of loving rebuke. A culture where we care enough about another believer to lovingly but firmly tell them that something they are doing is indeed sin. In 1 Corinthians 5, the apostle Paul is dealing with an issue of sin that has arisen in the Corinthian church. In verse 12 Paul says “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” Paul clearly thinks that it is perfectly okay for a Christian to “judge” another Christian. Do I think that we should use this right as a stick to beat people with? By no means! This judgment should come from a heart that knows the destruction that sin causes and a heart that loves someone enough to drag them off of the path that leads there.


So let us be a people who judge well. Let us judge without hypocrisy, let us judge without self-righteousness, and let us judge in love.

Soli Deo Gloria

A 2018 message from our Pastor

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