Jan 6, 2019
Armor of God
Series: The Story
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  • Jan 6, 2019Armor of God
    Jan 6, 2019
    Armor of God
    Series: The Story
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  • Sep 23, 2018The Apostles Creed #6
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    The Apostles Creed #6
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    Sep 16, 2018
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Dare To Dream

Have you ever been asked the question, “In your dreams, what would you do if you knew you would not fail?” I have been asked that a few times in my life and depending on the stage of life I was in, I have had different answers. Lately, everyday life has consumed me and it wasn’t until recently that I realized I have forgotten how to dream. My husband and I were contemplating some simple house remodeling and he posed the question, “In your dreams, what would this space look like?” I immediately snapped off a negative answer because I knew the funds weren’t there to make my “dream” space come true so why even fathom the thought? In essence, I was closing the door before it had the chance to even be opened.

 

Then in hit me: I do that to God all the time. I give reasons why I can’t do certain things for Him or in His name because I think they won’t work. I have stopped dreaming of possibilities that might further His kingdom. Why? Because I tell myself I’m not capable, or it is impossible, or I’m too stretched with other responsibilities, but most of all–what if I FAIL?

 

Here is a phrase many of you have heard from Pastor Todd: “He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”

 

If your dream is truly God-inspired, then God will make a way for it to work. And get this, it isn’t because you are the best at whatever it is. But through Him, He will give you the strength and the knowledge in order to accomplish His works. In Matthew 19:26 it says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

So the next time you think you have a hair-brained crazy idea, think closely that it might just be a God-given dream. And if there is the slightest possibility you think God planted that idea in your heart, offer it up to Him and see where He leads you.

 

Dare to dream again folks!
By: Sarah Cross


Honoring God On Facebook?!

I stared at the screen and was secretly turned off by what I read.  The words were flippant, rude, and lacking grace.  The worst part was that they were typed by someone I respected.  (Okay, let’s stop the train right here.  I promise this isn’t going to be a blog where I throw stones at others and forget myself…keep reading.) Has this ever happened to you?  You see a post from someone and it throws you for a loop, because your conversations with them have never hinted that they would say these types of comments out loud.  OUT and LOUD are the key words here.  The words aren’t said out loud…they are written, and social media seems to have given us permission to type things that we might never say out loud to someone. Unfortunately, the impact is that these passive aggressive comments damage our ability to evangelize later on.

As I continued to digest these words, I found God knocking on the door of my heart, and he seemed to be asking me to search myself and my social media habits.  He pointed out to me, that I peruse the vast number of posts way more than He would desire me to.  Have you found yourself becoming addicted to this “social newspaper” of sorts?  This place where you can go for a good laugh, the goings on of your friends, Shutterfly coupons (woo-hoo!), yummy recipes, and sometimes even a good cry?  If so, you aren’t alone.  What’s worse; has it ever taken you away from time you could have spent reading God’s word? (See, I told you I would throw myself under the bus.)

The question is, how can we honor God through our social media habits?  You might think that sounds crazy, but, yes, we can honor God even on Facebook.  He asks us to be His light, and to show the character of Christ in every situation.  So, let’s work together, and encourage each other, to honor God by using social media in moderation and as a tool to build up the souls around us, instead of becoming addicted to it and using it to tear down others.

Friends, we have such a big job here on Earth. Being the hands and feet of Christ is no little task.  Let’s not let ourselves get sucked into the world so completely that we lose sight of this challenging but amazing commission.
By: Ashley Duff


If It Matters To You

“If it matters to you, it matters to Him.” (I apologize to whoever it was that posted this phrase on Facebook that I am not giving credit to. I can’t seem to remember who you were!) When I read this line it hit me like a ton of bricks. Maybe you can relate to this scenario:  You are in a group of people and it is time to share prayer requests and praises. You cringe at the thought of sharing. You don’t want to open up to anyone about the big stresses in your life, let alone the things that might seem miniscule to others. Plus, sharing the good things might seem like bragging. So, you sit there quietly listening to others share, then keep your mouth shut when it comes to your turn. This is me to a T. Why would I want to burden others, let alone God, with my problems? I can handle it on my own, right? And, why would I want to pray to God with my “little things” in life? I don’t want to seem like a bother to anyone, especially God.

But Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Notice it says ALL. It does not say, “Everyone but you.” What is also interesting is that this verse is an if/then statement—meaning, IF you come to me, THEN I will give you rest. Well slap my hand to my forehead! If I don’t come to Him, then how am I to get any sort of rest/resolution/decision/closure? What a light bulb moment for me! From my big to my little problems, which I might “think” matter only to me, they really do matter to Him as well. I just have to go to Him first. It is that simple. I love simple!

So the next time you think you are NOT going to pray about something, remember: “If it matters to you, it matters to Him.”

 

By:  Sarah Cross



Thrive

“Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on High
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive”

Last Sunday you saw a promotional video for our new children’s corporate worship service, and these were the words being sung in the background. Why? Because we want your children and your families to thrive. This new service for children, Growth Point, is meant to give your child a chance to worship, give an offering, hear God’s word, and learn about prayer among peers so that they grow as one body and can support each other. They’ll meet in room 211, which is the large children’s meeting room. At the same time, Branch Out will meet in the first children’s classroom as you go down the children’s hallway. This will be a time for parents to converse with one another in a casual environment over a cup of coffee. Other parents can be our best resources, and we hope that getting to know other families and learning how they are “doing life” in Christian homes, will be a great asset to you. Both begin at 10am this Sunday!
By: Ashley Duff


Just Say Jesus

Sarah’s Confession Time: I am not a good “Pray-er.” Now, don’t get me wrong. I DO pray and I CAN pray. What I am saying is that I am NOT one of those eloquent people you hear pray on Sundays who seem to have just the right words, or the TV Evangelist who prays over the masses, or even my Dad who always seems to be the appointed one to pray before extended family meals. I am more of a “conversationalist” with God when it comes to my prayers. I pray in simple thoughts and easy words. And get this, often times I get side-tracked, interrupted, forget what I was praying about, or even fall asleep!

Sometimes, when I am down or feeling utterly helpless, I have NO words to pray…NADA. I know I NEED to pray, but honestly there are times when I have absolutely nothing. Can anyone relate? Maybe you are completely exhausted, distraught, afraid and ashamed, have a broken heart, have been hurt so bad that you are angry, or stressed about life at the moment. While I don’t have answers to any of these problems, I can say that you are definitely not alone. When I don’t have the” right” words to pray, I am reminded of the song, “Just Say Jesus” (2013) by 7eventh Time Down. You know, God already knows what is in your heart; He just wants you to come to Him. So even if all you can get out at the time is “Jesus,” then that is more than enough for Him. I have included the lyrics of the chorus that have helped me so many times. I hope it helps you too.
When you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus
There’s still power in the name
The name of Jesus
If the words won’t come
Cause you’re too afraid to pray
If the words won’t come
And you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus
By:  Sarah Cross



Happiness is a Movement!

At High School Camp this past week, we heard some amazing messages from Todd Austin and John Freed.  Specifically, John Freed shared on Wednesday night of camp about the story of the 10 lepers that Jesus healed in Luke 17:11-19.  Remember in this story that only 1 of the 10 lepers who were healed returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  We were challenged with the thought,
“Do we base our happiness on what we have or how thankful we are?”
Then the speaker challenged us with several points from Colossians 1:3-14 on how to be happy!  I needed to hear these and I wanted to pass them on to you.  Read them slowly and take each one deeply.  There is good truth in each one.
To be happy, you have to have faith!
To be happy, you have to be grateful and faithful!
Happiness is not a feeling.  It is a movement!
Happiness comes from being in community (church services, Sunday School, growth groups)!
There is a direct correlation between your prayer life and your happiness!


Prayer Life

Sometimes I feel stumped in my prayer life; not because I don’t know what to pray for.  There are plenty of prayer requests and concerns out there.  No, I get stumped because it begins to feel routine.  It begins to feel like a laundry list of things to pray for, and I’m not sure where to begin.  I feel like I go through the list and fulfill my duty to pray, but I don’t actually hear my Father speaking to me or sometimes even feel His presence.  Have you ever felt that way?  Lately, I’ve been trying to identify the reasons for this hindrance in my prayer life, as well as what I can do to change it.  Here is what I’ve come up with.

  1. I don’t always set aside enough time for my “quiet time”. I find myself putting God in a box and saying, “Okay, Lord, you’ve got about 15 minutes to speak to my heart…let’s get this show on the road!”  (I haven’t had too much success with that one.) Instead, I need to make sure that on some days I allow a little more time with Him, as well as recognize that not every prayer time is going to feel deep and spiritual.
  2. I don’t always make my prayer time a sacred, protected time. Instead, I allow annoying thoughts to creep into my head, like “Did I email back so-and-so?”, and “I can’t forget to wash that baseball uniform before tomorrow.”, or even, “I wonder if my friend, Suzy Q, was offended when I said this to her?”.  MY BRAIN JUST WON’T STOP! So, for the things that belong on a to-do list, I try to make sure I have my list right beside me so that I can write them down and get them out of my prayer time.  For those other roaming thoughts, I try to turn from analyzing myself or the situation, and instead lay it at God’s feet, so that He can do with it, what needs to be done.
  3. Another way to overcome these feelings is to seek the help of those who have been in a rut like this before. I am all about “how to” and inspirational books.  Recently, I’ve been using a devotional from Beth Moore called, Whispers of Hope.  She lays out a great structure for prayer that is different than what I’ve typically seen.  Using her structure has definitely improved my prayer time lately.
  4. Lastly, I don’t always take time to slow down and appreciate what is around me, and channel Him through the things that speak to my heart the most. For instance, sitting outside and listening to the rain fall or the wind blow; or going for a walk in the woods, where the silence is like a peaceful blanket on my soul.  I rarely get to do this, but whenever I get the chance to, I take it, because those are the moments in which He reveals himself to me.
Dear friends, I hope that if you are in a prayer rut right now, that you’ll be able to feel God’s presence more deeply in the coming days and weeks.  I pray that your heart can begin to feel alive in Him again, and that you feel the connection He desires to have with you.
By: Ashley Duff


Where Is Your Focus?

In Philippians 4:8 we find eight characteristics that describe where our focus should be. This week I have a little contest for those who read these blog posts! The first person to name the eight characteristics that are found in Philippians 4:8 and respond to me (Sarah) via e-mail () will win a prize! Want to go even deeper? After each characteristic, try to identify 1-2 things you can think about this week that represents that specific characteristic. I don’t need you to share that information with me by the way! Ok, ready…set…GO! Disclaimer: staff and those related to me are excluded from winning a prize. But feel free to still look up the scripture! Enjoy!
By: Sarah Cross


Band-Aids Don’t Heal Bullet Holes

Those are lyrics from a song that is on the popular music charts right  now. The entire song is about a relationship that has gone bad. As I heard that song on the radio today, it made me think about this: Every person on the planet is searching for a cure for the holes (real or imagined) in their lives. “I’m lonely.” “I’m stressed.” “I’m stuck in a pattern of abuse.” “I’m too big.” “I look too old.” Some look to other people, or the latest spiritual teaching, or a new diet or … fill in the blank. All of those “cures” for what is wrong with us are band-aids. They truly won’t heal our hearts.

The only TRUE healing of hearts comes through accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is through his sacrifice on the cross that we can be made well and whole. Remember to share the love of Christ with every person you come in contact with today. Jesus IS the Way, the Truth and the Life. Everyone needs a Savior.

By Becky Clouse



Make Your Life A Ministry

As I stood before the altar this past Sunday, I couldn’t contain the tears that threatened.  We had all been called to the front of the sanctuary to praise God for our call to ministry.  God touched my heart and assured me that He definitely has a plan for me in ministry.  If you’re like me, you’ve asked questions like, “Where are you calling me, God?” and “What exactly is ministry?”  Ministry seems like a big deal, right?  Surely it must require that I be a part of the clergy, or on staff at a church, or even the leader of a huge program at church.  Right?  Wrong. {sigh of relief}  All those areas are definitely areas of ministry, but you don’t have to be a leader in the church to be in ministry. You don’t even have to be in the church to be a part of ministry, nor do you have to be a bible scholar or free of sin.  {What??}  That’s right. All that is required of you to be in ministry is a willing heart; a heart that wants to spread the love of Jesus Christ.  God calls each and every one of us into ministry.

Last Sunday’s message was focused on this, and I love how Pastor Todd pointed out that we don’t have to have all our ducks in a row to be involved in ministry, nor do we have to be a part of a church program to be in ministry. Those are wonderful opportunities that I highly recommend, but being in ministry can also be more of a personal call in your family and community.  The other day, I read the same message from one of my favorite authors, Lysa TerKeurst.  She wrote, “If you are a woman who honors God right where you are, YOU ARE IN MINISTRY.”  This wasn’t the first time that I had heard this type of message, but for some reason, it hit me that day.  I can choose to make my entire life a ministry if I honor God in every moment.

I was curious about the definition of ministry, and so I looked it up.  Here is what I found: “The office, duties, or work of a religious minister.”  I think I’d have to respectfully disagree with Webster on this one. {Is that allowed?}  That definition makes ministry seem very formal.  There is a time and a place for all types of ministry, but I’d like to challenge you today to make your life a ministry.  I intend to accept this same challenge. So, whether I am making dinner while all three of my children try to talk to me, or waiting in line at WalMart, or sitting in the stands with other parents at a minor league game, or dropping my child off at preschool…I want to remain in ministry.  I want to get to know people.  Be real.  I want to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  {Gotta love those fruits.}  Will you join me in the challenge?
by: Ashley Duff