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Rock Solid

house

The home I live in was built in 1923, still not around the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, but that is entirely a separate issue and I digress.  Over the years since I have lived there I noticed that my front porch was dipping a little on the right side.  So after some investigation it was discovered that there was very little or no support keeping it level. Cracks were visible on the walls, doors were beginning to become difficult to open or keep shut, in short it was beginning to affect the entire structure and since the porch was attached to the house if no action was taken it could have caused major damage.  So last summer I took on the project of getting support placed underneath making it a bit more level and solidified.  This taught me how extremely important a structures foundation is. Without a good foundation you are leaving the stability of everything to chance.  You may get by a few years but as time goes by and as things begin to settle you will discover how strong the foundation is.

Jesus spoke a lot about the importance of where your foundation is.  Truth is some rely   on themselves to carry on. Some depend on things like money, or possessions.  The point again being that for a time these things may get you by but they are but temporary. He tried to get us to see the big picture. He wanted us to build upon the eternal values. The things that out last what time has to offer us.  Since that leaves nothing in this life it of course leaves only that which is eternal, that which is life in Christ.

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27

foundation

Jesus here is speaking of the storms of life. Each is going to be able to withstand the storms of life based upon their foundation. Though they may seem similar on the outside only the storm will be able to measure weather or not the will remain strong or completely collapse.

We need to take time to do a self-inventory of exactly what we are built upon. What do we lean upon when things get difficult? No more than ever it seems like life is becoming like a violent hurricane bringing nothing but worry and fear. When we turn to scripture we must consider it carefully, believe it thoroughly, and practice it diligently and we can get through any storm and come out victorious remaining steady and strong.  

Strength & Courage 

Jeremy 

 

Extravagant

Sunset Sky

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? In the same way, if a flower blooms in the middle of Siberia, unseen by human eyes, does it go unappreciated? Of the thousands of mini-miracles through all creation that we are able to observe each day, think of the millions more that go unnoticed or unappreciated, even if observed. Do you know what it feels like when someone else gets credit for the good work that you do? Some amount of anger or jealousy may start to well up from inside and scream ‘let the truth be known!’ Give credit where credit is due.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  I Corinthians 10:31

We all like to be recognized for the work that we do. Whether that is a simple ‘thank you’ from a child or a friend when we help them out, or just being able to put your name on something when you are finished with a project, it feels good to be appreciated. What if you go the extra mile, or do a good deed for someone a dozen times and never get an ounce of appreciation from them or anyone else, was it still worthwhile? Do all your deeds that go unrecognized by men still become acknowledged by the Omniscient One? Does God see all your good works and measure them against your bad deeds and weigh your salvation on the scales of justice? What do you think He does with this knowledge?

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

When we look at the beauty and complexity in the world around us, a natural response is to be in awe of the creation and the hand of the creator that made it to be. If you have ever gazed at a work of art, an amazing feat of construction, or even the simple complexity of a flower, there should be some sense of appreciation to the hand(s) that brought it to be before you. A small sense of wonder and amazement brings glory to God when we start to understand how extravagantly wasteful he is with the beauty found in creation and with the grace that he extends to us all as well. It is an illustration of his love for us found throughout the world around us. How much he must love us!

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  Psalm 19:1-4

What about us? Do we like to go the extra mile and do things for others when we may not get credit or may even get criticized for it? Has a ‘no’ delivered in the best interest of a child ever been turned into an attitude of ‘then, you must hate me’? How quickly does our enthusiasm die down when we are unappreciated for the good that we do? Even if unappreciated by those around us, let do the right thing for the benefit of others and for God’s glory, and not just for our own selfish pride. May we sense God’s pleasure when we lay down our desires for the benefit of others.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  I John 3:1

Is there someone in your life for whom you will go overboard? What makes you want to lavish love on one person and not another? Be wasteful with the attention you show, with the kind words you say, and with your acts of love toward others. Even to those who can never repay you in kind. Just as through Christ, God displayed his enormous love toward us while we were still sinners, so we were meant to love others to the point they are overwhelmed. This is not for our own benefit, but to bring glory to our own Creator!

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:12-13

Strength and Courage in Christ,
Clark

Going Deeper

Have you ever met the person that always talks about Sunday messages not being very deep?  In church world I hear this a lot.  I grew up in a church where some people talked a lot about the deeper things of God but were mean, judgmental, and even hateful. They could break down systematic theology but did not love people.  They have attended church for 40 years, led Sunday school classes, and sat in the same pew every week.  They were called faithful and mature.  

This is like the man a 40 year old man in the baby pool with arm floaties on. At some point, maturity is getting out of the baby pool and diving in the deep end to learn how to swim.  If my kids are in that baby pool I am calling the police, because my kids need a safe place to swim.  

Who is more mature, the man who knows 100 commands of God and obeys 1 or the man who knows 2 commands of God and obeys both?  I would say the man who walks in obedience to God is the real mature one.

Growing in knowledge apart from obedience does not equal maturity.  Growing in knowledge and applying what you are learning (obedience) does equal maturity.

John 14:23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

Jesus summed up all of the commands into two… Love God and Love Others.  Loving God looks like obedience… Loving others is leading them to Jesus.  

Have you ever noticed at the pool all the rescuing happens in the deep end?  Do you want to be mature? Go share your story and the hope that you have to people in crisis!  That is what it looks like to love others and obey and love God. 

If you would put the Word of God in your heart, obey it, show how it offers you hope to the people in your life… You WILL BE found mature “In Christ” and in the center of God’s will for your life!  You will discover your purpose and live an amazing adventure.

Read. Listen. Obey. Share. Love.  GO BE VITAL

Recklessly, Obsessively Following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

A New Chance to Love

I’m a sucker for street performances. Whenever I wander the cement of big cities, I’m keenly attracted to the display of arts that people are offering–the rhythmic tapping of stick to bucket, the robotic movements of dancers, strumming melodies and piping horns. They’re quite courageous for putting their skills out there for everyone to judge.

I’ve done a bit of street evangelizing and it is quite nerve racking. You have an inner fear that someone will reject you, get angry at you, or the simple ignoring of what you have to say. It’s quite interesting how many people don’t want to talk to strangers and more so, don’t want to hear about Jesus. Street evangelism has pulled a negative connotation with it, in both Christian and non-Christian’s eyes.

In the Bible, proclamation of the Gospel required street evangelism. After Jesus went back to heaven, he left his disciples and all believers with the command of “going to the ends of the Earth” to tell of his great Word. There is a particular verse in Acts 8:6 that catches my attention when it comes to evangelism: “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.”

Sometimes I wonder that since we live in a nation where Christianity is the major religion, that we forget to live with an evangelistic mindset–one that seeks to make God known to those who don’t know him or those that do and have drifted from him. I like how Philip is framed in that verse, “crowds heard…all paid close attention.” 

Do people hear your words and pay attention to their meaning? Do they hear words that associate God in them or words that distract them from God? 

I’ve been on the big kick of applying what we learn in my latest blogs, and this is another scenario where it comes into play. Have you ever noticed that when you read scripture or devotionals, have a Jesus chat over coffee about the intricacies of Theology, that those learnings and discoveries feed into your random conversations with others?

I think God does that on purpose because he wants us to talk about him. He wants us to constantly and consistently integrate him into our conversations, so that we are being natural evangelizers. I don’t think we have to shout repentance in line at Subway, or demand someone to confess their sins before we hand them a coffee, but what if we subtly plant seeds of love and grace into our conversations which lead people to ask us why we speak the way we do?

Every conversation, every situation, is a chance to be like Jesus. If you examine his words throughout the Bible, they are full of love and grace, always wise and always willing to invest in whomever approaches him. Let’s continue to strive not for simple living, but purposeful living. Not for a mundane faith, but for an active, alive faith. One that implements Jesus in every situation we can.

Love Loud!
Cory Nikkel

Fighting at Any Age

 

            Lately my daughter has been leading the religious charge at school. Always there to correct someone when they are wrong. (I think she gets it from me.) She seems to be immensely close to Jesus. This closeness intrigues me.

            Think about it. Most of us have a hard time believing in something we have never seen, felt or heard. She has never questioned the presence of God or his workings. She knows in her heart that those she has lost of the last year are watching over her from Heaven.

            How many times to you do that? Trust completely in something you cannot see. There are many things we choose to believe and not believe that we do not see. Santa, aliens, big foot are just to name a few. Now we know they are not real, but there are some that believe with that is in them that they are real.

            How to we get to that point in our lives to fully trust and believe in Jesus? Is reading the Bible enough? Is going to church enough? No! You must be able to give your heart to him. For in Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

            Can you trust Him? Can you give your life to him? You can!jesus-wearing-the-thorn-of-crowns

 

 

 

United for Him,

Kyle

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