Monthly Archives: April 2015

A WATERSHED MOMENT

bible reading

 

Watershed – a point in a chain of events at which an important change (as in one’s fortunes) occurs (Merrriam-Webster)

Have you ever had a very distinct watershed moment in your life? I’ve had a few. One such moment was in November of my senior year of high school while sitting in my bedroom reading my Bible…

 

Today I wrap up my blogging series MY FAVORITE BIBLE VERSES. At a very pivotal moment in my life, God used a very specific Bible verse to set my life on a course that I have never regretted.

 

As a senior contemplating my upcoming graduation, I knew that I needed to have a better idea of what I was going to do with my life. Since the time I was a small child I had always wanted to be a police officer. To be honest, I had never really considered much else. As far as I was concerned, it was the cops life for me! But during my last few years of high school something weird started happening. Thoughts began to flash across my mind regarding the possibility of going into ministry vocationally – specifically to become a youth pastor. I had been extremely active and engaged in a dynamic student ministry at the Christian Youth Center in Joliet. The difference it had made in my life (and the lives of my friends) was monumental. I thought it might be very rewarding to have my life’s work be something that makes an eternal difference. My inner conflict came in the fact that I also still wanted to be a cop – so now I was confused!

At this time of soul-searching and praying regarding the will of God for my life I came across this verse:

 

Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2

 

BOOM! Just like that, it felt like God hit me between the eyes. I couldn’t have been any more convinced even if he had appeared to me in a burning bush! 2nd Timothy 4:2 was God’s personal message to me – “Quit making excuses, no need to pray about it any longer – make the decision to go into ministry and I will lead you and provide for you.”

 

That was almost 38 years ago. I can honestly say I’ve never looked back. I am in no way implying that anyone who takes 2nd Timothy 4:2 seriously also needs to go into ministry; that’s just the way God applied the verse to my life. He has proven himself faithful over and over again!

 

Are you reading your Bible regularly? At what watershed moment might he meet you as a result?

Peace,

Dave

 

March 22 Baptism Video

In Matthew 28:18-20  we read some of Jesus final instructions to his disciples…

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

We refer to this as the Great Commission. It’s Jesus sending us on a mission to make disciples (followers of Christ). A key component of the process of making disciples is to baptize them. In the video below Pastor Dave shares a few thoughts about Baptism and then you get to hear some amazing faith stories. Enjoy!

Grace,

Chris

Flannel-graph Jesus!

boy-gives-lunch-to-Jesus

 

I first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ explained to me in a way that I could understand when I was in 5th grade. As an outreach in our neighborhood, a lady (Mrs. Koop) was hosting an afterschool Good News Club in her home (think lots of flannel graph, Kool-Aid and cookies!). Having grown up in the church I knew all the basic facts about Jesus – but I had never been challenged to respond to the message and place my trust in Jesus. I crossed the line of faith the first time I was asked to!

 

2 Bible verses that were explained to me that day will always be a couple of my favorite verses.

First…

For this is how God loved the world: He gavehis one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Mrs. Koop inserted my name in that verse, so that it read – “For this is how God loved Dave: he gave his one and only son, so that if Dave would believe in him he would not perish but have eternal life.” God actually loved me! What a wonderful thought! God saw my need for forgiveness and loved me enough to send his only son to die in my place.

 

Secondly…

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20

Jesus is speaking here and he is inviting me to open the door of my heart to him. He is knocking, but I must answer. I answered by expressing my faith in a simple prayer – asking him to forgive me.

 

While I certainly didn’t come anywhere close to understanding all the ramifications of what I had just done, I knew that I was different. I knew the decision I made was very important. I had a sense of joy and peace and excitement to know that now I truly was a child of God by faith in Christ.

 

Two great Bible verses that everyone should know and embrace!

Peace,

Dave

Jesus Has Changed My Life

On Easter Sunday we showed the video below that tells the story of how Jesus has changed the lives of three people in our church. So so powerful… our church mission is to be a loving community where ordinary people experience the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.

Thanks to Mary Ellen, Sarah, and Mike for embodying the mission and sharing your stories!

~Scott

Don’t Get Squeezed!

squeezed

 

Continuing my series of blog posts on some of my favorite Bible verses, today I would like us to consider:

 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

 

I remember when I was in high school often seeing it in the JB Phillips paraphrase:

 

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

 

A few basic lessons I’ve learned from this verse that have been with me for most of my life…

 

  1. Because I am a Christian my life should be distinctly different from those around me who do not know Christ.
  2. God’s will for my life is to be changed from the inside out. It’s not a simple matter of behavior modification but a true, internal change – the very way I think should change and then my behavior will naturally follow.
  3. God’s will for my life is awesome! He only wants what is best for me and that is: For my life to bring glory to him!

 

Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. Don’t be afraid to be different. As you allow God to change you and you experience his plan for your life firsthand – I guarantee you will have no regrets!

 

Peace,

Dave

One of my favorites

One of my favorite Old Testament stories is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18). Apart from being exciting and even a little funny, I think it’s a beautiful story of God revealing himself to a stubborn people.

Some things I love about this story

  • That Elijah stands up to King Ahab knowing it could mean his life (v.18). 
  • That Elijah, 1 man, takes on 450 prophets of Baal because he trusts God (v. 22)…talk about being outnumbered!
  • That Elijah challenges Baal to answer with fire (v.24)…Baal was the “god” of fire!
  • That Elijah taunts them (v.27)…not usually a nice thing to do, but I’d say it was deserved in this situation.
  • That Elijah calls the people to himself and then rebuilds the altar of the Lord (v.30)…symbolizing the work that needs to be done in the hearts of the people of Israel.
  • That Elijah has 4 large jars filled with water and then dumped on the offering not once, not twice, but three times! (v.33-35)…made it perfectly clear that this was not some kind of trick.
  • That Elijah prays that God would answer and make it known that he is the one true God (v.36) and God does just that!

But, the thing I love the most about this story is how the people respond in v.39. They fall to the ground and worship God! I wonder what it would have been like for them in that moment. They must have realized the foolishness of following Baal. Probably were a little scared, maybe even terrified. I wonder if they even remember how they got off track in the first place…was it related to a specific event, or was it more of a gradual process?

Grace,

Chris

STUPID WORRY

what-me-worry

 

Today I was having a pretty good day. And then came a slightly unsettling conversation, followed by a somewhat foreboding email. And just that quickly my day darkened. I felt a lot of anxiety. I was worrying. And I hate it when that happens. Can you relate?

 

As a Christian how are we to respond when life circumstances freak us out? When we find ourselves struggling with worry? We are certainly not immune just because we are believers.

 

I remember way back when I was in high school, my Sunday school teacher shared these verses with us:

 

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 

I remember her explaining that anytime we find ourselves worrying, that is a signal that we should instead be praying. That is great advice. I’ve learned that when I find myself stressed-out and worried I need to bring that burden to God. It really is amazing how much it helps. Spending time talking to him  almost always gives me a new perspective – a much better sense of calm and a genuine hopefulness.

 

So this morning when the dark clouds came rolling in upon my spirit – I went for a walk around the block. I admitted my worry to God. I asked for his wisdom and peace. As a result, I was able to regain my focus for the day and no longer allow my joy and peace to be hijacked.

 

I highly recommend that the next time you find yourself worrying – take a few minutes to pray and give it to God; you won’t regret it!

 

Peace,

Dave

Tune in not out

Do you ever tune things out that you’ve become familiar with? Maybe road signs and billboards on your route to work…TV commercials you’ve seen countless times before…the instructions given before a flight. When things become commonplace it’s easy for us to tune them out and move on to the next thing. I think we’re in danger of doing that same thing in our faith journey. Today we remember the cross. We remember the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior. A story that most of us are very familiar with. A story that we recognize as important. It may take discipline to focus in when our mind is telling us to tune out, but it’s worth it. Here are a few reasons why…

1 – There’s power in the church gathering in worship. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us to continue to meet together in order to encourage one another (or “spur one another on” as the NIV states). Being with God’s people has a way of lifting our spirits, enhancing our worship, and strengthening our faith. 

2 – Without Good Friday, there’s no Easter Sunday. To truly celebrate the resurrection, we need to remember how Christ got there. Without the cross, there’s no forgiveness of sins, there’s no promise of our own resurrection with Christ. Easter is the more fun part of the story, but it’s only part of the story.

3 – The cross is central to the Gospel. Romans 3:24-25 tells us that we’ve been freed from the penalty of sin through Christ’s sacrifice. We are to remember Christ’s death throughout the year - Communion is one way that we do that (I Corinthians 11:23-26). Today we remember His death in a special way.

4 – It keeps us humble and dependent. The message of the cross is offensive to our pride and self-sufficiency. Romans 8:3 tell us that God did for us (through Christ) what we couldn’t do for ourselves. The cross reminds me that I’m not as good as I like to think I am. That I NEED a savior.

I hope you’ll take time to focus in on the cross today. We’d love to have you join us for our Good Friday service tonight at 7pm. I’ll leave you with these song lyrics that I hope become your prayer for the day.

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

Grace,

Chris