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Three Treasures in Your Pocket

Did you know that you could be carrying over $20,000 worth of treasures in your pocket???


I imagine you probably haven't given it much thought and may not have realized the value, so I want to highlight a few treasures that are at your fingertips through the bundle of resources available to you with our church's Faithlife subscription.


First off, you have the ability to connect with your church community, and that's PRICELESS. For you to actually experience that level of connectedness you need to do a few things:

  • Install the Faithlife App: Visit iOS App Store   OR Visit Google Play Store.
  • Turn on your Notifications: When you are in each group you will see "Notification Preferences" at the top of the page. Select "All In" and then edit it down from there. You may want certain notifications immediately and other groups to send a summary to your email at the end of the day. If you don't see the notification it's as if it didn't happen, which kind of defeats the purpose of having this tool to help us connect.
  • Complete your profile by adding a Profile Pic so that people can more easily identify you when you interact on here...You can even link social networks, and add other interesting and helpful info to your profile.
  • Post Updates, thoughts, prayer needs or praise to the Cross Culture wall. Here's more of what you can do in the group and how to do it so that the church can see it.
  • Here's a video that shows how we can use this to connect as a whole church and how our missional communities can use within their communications and connections:

https://youtu.be/pBfitCx_cAc



Second: You have access to thousands of hours of Bible documentaries, dramas, biographies, kids' videos, and more...including over 200 seminary-level courses (Logos MobileEd) on different topics that you may want to be learning more about, whether it's a particular book of the Bible, or learning a particular area of ministry that you are engaged in. Those courses alone are over $15,000 if you purchased them separately. I have enjoyed watching Kids shows and archeology videos with my family on here too.

  • Download FaithlifeTV to your device or find it on your Smart TV apps and login with your Faithlife account to have access to view all of these things.



Third: You have access to over $3,000 worth of Bible study resources that you can access on your phone, tablet, or computer with a program called Logos. It uses the same username and password and gives you incredible access for quick and simple Bible Study to help you grow in your understanding and application of God's Word more easily.

Here are some of the resources included in our subscription for you to make use of with the Logos App. There is even a FREE book of the month that you can log on to get each month to add to your resources. Download HERE.

Visit iOS App Store OR Visit Google Play Store 



Here's a video that gives a quick glimpse of what you could do with Logos:


https://youtu.be/SvYiB6CCQNk



If you had $20,000 sitting in your pocket, would you forget about it or would you make use of it? I want to encourage you to make full use of the resources that we have to stay connected and to continue growing in God's grace together.

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Turned Out and Tuned Out

I've been traveling the last couple of days and I have had a lot of time watching people interact. It seems that previous distance and suspicions of strangers has increased, but it's not a whole lot more than it used it be. Most people are tuned out from those around them and tuned into their device. The furniture used to be designed where you would sit next so someone..but still wouldn't talk to them.



Now even the furniture is designed to give everyone their own illusion of being separate. Maybe to give you a sense of privacy and the ability to not feel rude in tuning everyone else out.



How indicative is this of our individualism? We all want our own time, our own space, our own personalized devices, menus, etc. And in our pursuit of this individualization we miss out on the people around us. Our society is oriented toward a hyper individualism and yet the majority of people are starving for community and a sense of living a life of significance. It's sadbto me that most people will go through life without experiencing either of those things because they are tuned out and turned away from those around them and from the God who created them.


What would happen if we would always be looking for ways to Tune In to God and Tune in to others? This might look like finding ways to gather others or turning your attention away from your own things and tuning in and turning towards others. It was an interesting contrast how full the chairs were that faced out and how few people were sitting facing someone at the airport.


My hope and prayer is that as a church we will be the kind of people who tune in and turn towards others and are open to share life with others and be open and available to God.


(All photos brought to you from the LAX airport)

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From Fear to Faith

Many of you may personally know, and others may have personally observed while in the park this summer, my intense dislike of bees. Don’t get me wrong I value the purpose of bees on this earth, the role they play in pollinating, or their importance in the food chain, but I do not value their presence in my hair, or when they encircle my person, or their insistent desire to share my meal when I'm eating outside. I am the one who disregards all logic as my brain shuts down to flee any situation where I am anticipating their insistent presence and potential threat. Fear colors my judgment in those moments and it recently drove me to attempt to get out of a moving vehicle that I was driving in reverse! Not logical, not my finest moment, and truly embarrassing. 


A few Sundays back we looked at Genesis 12, in all of its entirety, while in the park. We see “The Call of Abram” as God invites him to pick up everything and head on to a place he did not know. In addition to the invitation was the promise that not only would God bless Abram, but would use Abram to bless those around him. I would venture to say, without personally knowing Abram, that this was a significant and life-changing event. I would also like to assume that he was most likely never the same after encountering God’s invitation and promise, but as we head farther down into the chapter we see famine and uncertainty throw a curveball into Abram’s faith journey.


Stress from the external pressures (severe famine) and anticipation of the unknown (would he be killed because of his beautiful wife?!?) seem to have impaired Abram’s memory of God’s invitation and promise. I think all of us can relate to Abram in his experience of fear. That is what fear does. It neurologically inhibits our brain’s ability to act rationally and moves us into survival mode. No amount of reason or logic will be accepted by any human when their brain switches gears into this mode. This is where faith comes in. Faith is the act of trusting God. I believe true trust leads us to true rest and true peace. It says, “God I believe you are able, reliable, do what you say, and are strong enough.” It’s out of this place of trust, dependence, and connection that our brains learn to overcome the experience of fear and all its related associates (doubt, anxiety, insecurity, etc.). It moves us into a place of declaring, believing, and remembering. How do we practically apply this as we navigate our own faith journeys? Practically speaking, full-body worship is our strongest method as followers of Jesus. It not only provides the oxygen and movement to get blood flow back to our brain, but it also throws in the element of recounting and reminding ourselves of who God is and who we are in His care. At times it might seem like succumbing to fear is a failure and highlights our lack of faith or worth in living out God’s call on our lives, but we can see from Abram’s story that that doesn’t line up with God’s heart towards us. Abram made many mistakes in his humanness and he still made it into the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) and was even known for his faith; mistakes and all! 


Where are the places in your life presently where stress from external pressures or the anticipation of the unknown are impairing your ability to receive the invitation of God for your life and the promises He has for you? Are there any places where you feel you’ve failed in your trust of God or don’t trust His heart and intentions? Take some time this week to sing, dance, pace, shout over those places, believing, declaring, and agreeing with all that God has said, remembering what He has done, and looking to the one who can move mountains and raise the dead.

Lastly, we weren’t meant to walk this journey alone, who is someone you can invite into this space to pray and believe with you?


Learning to keep walking in faith with you,

Mishawn

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Holding on to Hope

"I hope so!" How many times do we say that in a day? We all have hopes and expectations for every day and for the future. Sometimes what we hope for lets us down or disappoints us. There are things that we look forward to that just aren't as good as we remembered or as cool as what we hoped for. Some of those for me are the Little Debbie oatmeal cookies; I always think that they're going to taste good (like I remember them) and I'm always disappointed because they're nothing like I remember. That's disappointing.


There are also things that we look forward to that we can think will make us happy, but then when those things come we can find ourselves unfulfilled and looking forward to the next thing. Right now there are situations in the world that feel hopeless: Covid and Afghanistan come to mind right away. Personally, you may be facing sickness, loss of loved ones, work, or financial difficulties. We can despair if we are in those hopeless situations or when dwell on hopeless situations that others are in or that are happening around the world. We can despair and stop waiting/hoping for God to move when things we've put our hope in have let us down. How can we have hope in a hopeless world?


Our Missional Community gathering last Wednesday was an "UP" night and Joel broke us up into 1 Spanish and 3 English groups while the youth broke out to have their Youth group time. Each of our groups had a different Psalm to meditate on and ours was Psalm 130. It was a great discussion with new and old friends and I was left thinking about what we long for. The Psalmist said that he waited for God "more than the watchman waits for the morning," which pretty much sums up what hope feels like. That's a lot of waiting expectantly! He concludes by saying that his hope and trust is in God.


We had an interesting observation on the similarity in Hebrew between the ideas of waiting and hope, which means to wait with expectation...almost like a server looks attentively towards those they are serving...which we call "waiting on tables." Anyway, in Spanish "wait" is "espera" and "hope" is "esperanza" while desperate or hopelessness are "desesperado" and "desesperacion." All having to do with that the connection between waiting and hope. Proverbs 13:12 makes this connection well when it says: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."


As I went to bed that night thinking about these connections I had all of these different passages coming to mind that talk about hope and the uniqueness of the Christian hope from the many other hopes of this world. Our hope is in Jesus and what He has done, is doing, and will do!


Hebrews 6:19 says that "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain..." We can anchor the hope of our very soul in the very center of the presence of God; the Holy of Holies!


Hebrews 10:23-25 "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

+ We had this as a theme verse last year and it will be true every year until Jesus returns! We're called to hold firmly to our hope, the one we've put our hope in, and to those other hopeful believers whom we are sharing life with to live out this "blessed hope."


Romans 5:5 tells us that this "...hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."


There are many things in life that are disappointing and can be despairing, but when our hope is in God all day long (Psalm 25:5) we will not be put to shame and we will not be disappointed! Putting our eyes on Jesus and making Him the SOURCE and the OBJECT of our Hope will give us stability in a shaken world of hopelessness and despair. WE need this Hope and the world needs us to have this hope to share with them now more than ever before in our lives. Here are three opportunities to be filled with hope and to share hope with others:


1. This Saturday, September 4th, we will be gathering at the State Capitol Grounds for a time of Celebrating the Nations. This will be a powerful, hope-filled, and Spirit-filled time together that would be a great place to go if you or people you know are in the midst of hopelessness...Pray about who to invite who has not found the hope that we have in Jesus! Matthew 12:21 promises that JESUS is the one in whom the nations can place their hope!


2. It is the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts with Hope! It's in the presence of God together with the people of God that we are filled with faith and hope to live for God's purposes together. I want to invite you to join us on Saturday, September 11th for the Holy Spirit Weekend as we not only learn more about who the Holy Spirit is and what He does, but press into the presence of God to be filled with the presence, peace, and power of God that fills us with the love of God.


3. This Fall through Spring we will be exploring the book of Hebrews on Sundays and in it we will find reasons for our faith and hope as we look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and discover more ancient reasons for our faith and hope together. I'm excited to journey together through this powerful letter that is one of my favorite books of the Bible!


I HOPE to see you soon!

Sam

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I'll have my people talk to your people

Whenever I read in Hebrews that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, it inevitably comes to mind that old argument I have heard before which says: That the God of the Old Testament is far from us, authoritative and “mean” while the God seen in the New Testament is all-loving and merciful and near us. Is this assumption true? Not at all.


The more we explore the book of Genesis, the easier it becomes to see that the loving and merciful God that longs for close communication with all humanity has been there all along. We tend to believe that Adam was the last person to have direct communion with God and after the fall, God disconnected the line until Jesus came, but we see God after the fall approaching Cain even in the midst of his rebellion.


As a kid, hearing Bible stories on Sunday school, I always assumed that when Noah came out of the ark, God made a covenant only with him, but we can read in Genesis 9:1 “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them…” also on verse 8 “Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him…” God’s intention was to continue in direct contact with everyone after the flood and one way or another, that connection got lost once again.


When God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, He wanted a nation of priests where everyone could approach His presence and speak to Him directly. Instead, in Exodus 20 when the people of Israel heard God’s voice for themselves, they trembled in fear and said to Moses “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”


A relationship with God is unlike any other relationship. There is something so majestic and glorious about Him that people tremble in fear. Maybe it is the awareness of being in the presence of the one who sees it all, and knows every intention of our hearts. The temptation of establishing separation between God and us is constant.


Throughout the Bible we see this pattern that can be reflected in us today. It is a tendency to compartmentalize our relationship with God into small bite sizes we can handle, keeping the relationship formal, non-intrusive or confined to the church building or the Sunday Service time. Maybe we are limiting the relationship by seeking for others to represent us before God, maybe a pastor, an elder, a group leader, a parent or just that other Christian that’s been at it for longer than me.


God has not changed. His invitation for you is personal and intimate. Yes, he indeed calls us to relationship and communion with one another where He brings His blessing as we dwell in unity with believers. Even so, let us remember that He calls you and me to pursue Him for ourselves. Hebrews 4:16 invites us: “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.”


You do not need a representative to go to God on your behalf. Jesus has already opened the way through His sacrifice so that you may enter God’s presence not with shame, guilt, or duty but with confidence in the relationship God desires for you to have with Himself. He longs to directly commune with you and give you grace, mercy, and every spiritual blessing. Let us talk with Him.

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Be Sharpened!

My wife and I have been talking about our fitness and health a lot more these days. I think most of us would agree, the older you get the more upkeep you have to do! I told her that the only way I could stay in shape and regularly eat healthily is if I had a group around me who were doing the same and had similar goals. I had an experience with this concept with my spiritual life recently. I was picking up a couch from a gentleman on Facebook marketplace. I stopped by his house and he helped me load up the couch into my truck. I offered to pray for him and we ended up having an almost two-hour conversation about the different ways we have been seeing God move lately. I left that conversation feeling alive and encouraged, I felt spiritually sharp. 


That conversation was a great reminder for me. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. “ Proverbs 27:17 Seclusion and isolation have many negative effects associated with them but one of them is they have the ability to produce a spiritual dullness. Now I can’t think of very many tools where being dull is a good thing, in fact, many tools (especially blades) actually become more dangerous when they are dull. 


We want our knives to be sharp and effective. The Lord and the world around us are needing the same out of us. Are you feeling tired or experiencing a lack of motivation to do the Lord’s work or to encounter his presence? Maybe you just need a little sharpening. Perhaps there is someone you really look up to who is on fire for God. Go spend some time with them. Let them sharpen you, let them encourage and empower you. We were never meant to walk out our faith alone. I know that our problems are not solved by just getting around others, but, there is something powerful in walking together and empowering one another. So, I encourage you, if you are feeling dull and reserved in your spirit, to step out and allow yourself to be sharpened by your brothers and sisters in Christ!



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Careful Communication

Did you know that about 70% of our waking hours are spent communicating (writing, reading, speaking, or listening)? One thing that we sometimes forget is that communication must be understood to be effective. That's so simple that it seems that it's not worth mentioning, but how many times have we sent a text that made complete sense to us but when the recipient received it they did not understand what we meant? That's not even taking into consideration the times we write or say something that just doesn't make sense...I use speech to text all of the time and sometimes I hit "send" without proofreading what I am sending. Sometimes those mixups are funny, but other times they can be really confusing.


I have also had many cross-cultural conversations over the years where I thought we were all talking about the same thing but it turned out that we were all thinking different things. We were all using the same language but we were confused by what each other was saying. I've had this happen with Spanish words throughout Latin America and with English words here. Now, imagine my confusion, and amusement, when we were using Arabic words the other day with three guys from three different middle eastern countries and cultures to prepare the meal for last Sunday in the park. We didn't know this when we started planning, but when we were all talking about making Kabobs, we were all thinking of a different thing. I had no idea that the same word gets used in different countries to mean different things, so we had some good laughs when we were confused by the ingredients and processes that would be needed because we were all envisioning something different from one word: Kabob.



It got even better when we decided to expand the methods of preparation to include meat without a stick, which my non-Arabic ears heard in three different accents as kefta, kufta, and kofta. You can imagine my confusion when I was asking the right way to pronounce it and heard three similar yet different pronunciations...let's just say TomaYto/TomaHto. The good news was that, although pronounced slightly differently, we were all talking about the same thing!



Later that day, John and I were driving to the park and he was confirming directions and asked, "Left, right?" and I said "Right!" and then I was surprised when he started to turn left and I shouted "Right! Right!" Fortunately, no cars were coming and no kabobs were harmed in that sharp right turn!


It's really easy to get confused with communication! We sometimes have different words for the same thing or the same word for different things! We even have different ways some words are pronounced within the same language!


Last Sunday we were able to communicate and get on the same page, we had lots of fun, and everything was delicious, but it left me thinking a lot about challenges in how we communicate in our relationships with others and with God. When it comes to hearing from God and others, we can fall into a few traps that lead to confusing communication if we're not careful. Here are a few that came to mind as I was pondering the importance of good communication with God and with others.


1. Ignoring:

How many times have parents zoned out when their kids are saying "Dad! Dad! Dad!" and they don't even hear them? Or, some, may even be ignoring them despite actually hearing them. Sometimes God is speaking to us through His Word, through His Spirit, or through His People and we don't hear it because we have so much other noise and distraction in our lives. Other times we can just blatantly block it out on purpose. We can do the same thing in our relationships by focusing on our own things and not responding to messages or questions that we don't want to deal with. This does not lead to healthy communication. It's important for all of us to be "quick to listen and slow to speak" (James 1:19). When we relate to God through His Word we must take the time to make His Word a priority and pay attention to what it SAYS...slow down, read it a few times, try different translations, listen to it, or even write out portions to make sure that we actually see what it SAYS.


2. Interpreting:

In our relationships with others, we can sometimes only hear what we want to hear or what we think they are saying instead of actually listening and understanding what they're saying. Sometimes we take God's Word and we run it through the filters of our own desires and expectations and what comes out afterward is only part of what God said. When it comes to the Word of God it is helpful to keep asking the question: What does it SAY? And then what does it MEAN? We need to dig past what we expect it to say or what we want it to say. Only when we slow down to look and listen can we move on to actually interpret it.


3. Inaction:

Have you ever told someone to do something, confirmed that they understood and still nothing happened? They were basically saying: "I understand, but I just don't care." How does that make you feel? Unheard? Not valued? Disrespected? How often do we do that in our relationships? Someone tells us something, shares something important with us, and we don't do anything with it. How often do we do this with God's Word where we actually hear what it says, understand what it means, but don't take it seriously enough to apply it to our lives and do something with it?

James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."


I remember when Sarah and I had 8 kids in our home and things were really stressful and she said to me repeatedly "my head feels like it's going to explode!" I ignored that the first time and didn't think anything of it, then I filtered it and seriously thought she was speaking metaphorically when she brought it up again. It wasn't until after several times that it finally hit me that she actually meant that she literally felt like her head was going to explode and that it wasn't some figure of speech! When it finally hit me my heart was filled with compassion that led me to take action and I sent her to lay down to rest right away and then we started to figure out a plan for life that would help reduce the load that she was carrying. Can you imagine how much better our relationship would have been and how much more loved she would have felt if I had actually heard her the first time? Or, if upon hearing her the second time, I hadn't filtered it through what I thought she meant instead of asking her more questions to find out what she really meant?


I want to encourage you to be intentional to keep growing in healthy communication with God and with others by being an active, active listener who seeks to hear and not ignore, to understand and not filter things out, to adjust what you do because of what you now know and understand. Lots of people talk the talk, but to actually DO something with God's word and let it shape your passions and priorities shows that we care. When we take time to listen and understand those around us and allow what we learn to impact what we do this also shows that we care. Being CARE-FULL listeners will transform our relationship with God and our relationships with others! Being aware of the importance of this and seeking to grow in being CARE-full communicators by working to remove barriers that prevent others from hearing what we're trying to say will also be transformative. I want to invite you to press into both of these with me...and help me when I am doing or saying something confusing or careless by talking to me and helping me to also keep growing in caring communication as a part of this community.

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Accustomed

Have you ever grown accustomed to something you disliked or which caused you discomfort? Perhaps like me you have been waiting for the opportunity to patch the walls in your home and the sight of them still causes you to cringe but every time they seem to bother me a little less. If it’s not holes for you, what is it?

 

Is there something that has remained in your life because like me you have been busy with other urgent matters?  Maybe you have been waiting to work on your vehicle or rearrange plants in your flower beds? Perhaps it is a situation God has been calling you to change or address. Although it happens easily, there are somethings we should not get accustomed to.

 

Last week I managed to sprain my ankle and hurt my neck within one day of each other. Had you been over to visit at our home, you could have watched me limp around while turning my whole body in order to look at anything. It was probably a bit comical to look at yet with the pain I felt, I did not have a desire to laugh. I began praying for healing and doing just about anything that would help! Laying down, icing, massages, stretching, magnesium... you name it! I felt trapped and desperate. I couldn’t sweep, cook, or do much of anything else for more than a few minutes. As you can imagine, I was praying! Asking God for help was first on my mind.

 

Have you ever been there where I was - completely aware of your need for God to move? In Matthew 7:7 He says: Ask and you will receive. In the NLT, He says:


Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. [If] You parents … know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:7-9, NLT).

 

I have had problems with my foot many times and over many years now. Why have I not asked for healing before? I have limped through the pain but learned to "accept" it as a life long injury. Could you believe that it has never occurred to me that the God of the universe could heal my foot so that it wouldn’t sprain so easily? I am fairly certain that spraining my ankle that day was what hurt my neck.


In this past week, I have been challenged to ask God for healing not just of my neck but of my foot. Is there an area in your life that you grown accustomed to pain or dysfunction? God wants to bring wholeness to your life and mine.


Is there an area of your life that God wants to change? Perhaps like me, you have already given up hope or grown accustomed to it? Our heavenly Father is a good Father who desires to give good gifts to those who ask Him.


I pray that we would know the hope and power of God:

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power  that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:18-20, NLT).

 

I pray that your hearts would be flooded with the confident Hope and the knowledge of the mighty power of God. If God is for you, then who can be against you?

 

Keep on asking.

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More Than Religion

5 years ago I came back from a Sabbatical Summer having had the opportunity to think deeply about things that God had been teaching me over the previous 15+ years of ministry leadership and 30 years of following Jesus. I came away convicted by the realization that the area that God had consistently been dealing with me on since I first began following Jesus was actually about having a real relationship with Him. I know that we talk a lot about having a "relationship with God" in Christian settings, but the revolutionary significance of that and how we tend to want to bottle that up into forms that are more manageable really hit me. I realized that over the years God had been speaking to me through His word about areas in my life where I was religious and looked more like a Pharisee than I looked like Jesus. It was a powerful time that summer and it led to distilling those distinctions between a religious mindset and a relationship with God down to seven key differences. I have continued developing those thoughts while also taking the time to teach them in various contexts. Each time I go through this I grow more aware of how truly revolutionary an actual relationship with God through Jesus Christ is compared to our man-made substitutes.

Over the last year, I have written these thoughts down into a BOOK that I want to share with you for FREE as an e-book before it goes to print. We will be sending out the Introduction and Chapter 1 this week and the following chapters each week after that (there are 10 chapters total).

I welcome your input and comments, but more than anything I pray that you will be encouraged and challenged to grow closer in your relationship with God and to break free from the false dichotomies of License and Legalism as you pursue a living relationship with God.

Please click the link below if you would like to signup to receive the e-book:


https://forms.gle/y5u1dSnZEKvtcF418


Here's the Table of Contents:


Introduction: My Adventures in Missing the Point

1. Religion or Revolution?

2. Fearless

3. A New Thing

4. A New Law

5. Inside Out

6. Get It? Got It? Good!

7. Eye Can See Clearly Now

8. Wearing Uniformity

9. Where Are You Headed?

10. Liberating Life



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A Fresh Start?

Recently we started a project that we've been waiting for over 9 years to do on the outside of our house. For years we have "gotten by" with chairs sinking into the dirt when meeting outside or warning people to watch their step over the crack in the concrete or that raised edge. Things had gotten to this place from the wear and tear of time but also because of some trees that accelerated the destruction. Over the years we had to remove a tree that was breaking the driveway and then recently another tree that was beginning to rot down the middle because it hadn't been pruned correctly when it was young (I'm sure there is a good post that could be written with THAT as an illustration). Altogether it had left things a bit broken and empty (even with our pretty little flower bed).



Sarah and I had looked forward to a day where all of the old broken pieces would be removed and something new would take its place. When we were conceiving the different solutions we considered patching the broken things (my preferred option) or simply replacing what was there (the next easiest thing), but we knew that this was an opportunity for a fresh start. An opportunity to reimagine the driveway and outdoor space as it could be...building off of what had been and even taking some of the broken areas and using those to make something new that could better fit the house, but more importantly, better be used for loving our neighbors, not just by having a more pleasant and spacious area to share meals and evenings together but by making sure that they don't fall on their way up the driveway or when they're sitting outside at the table because they sank too deep into the ground!



This whole thing was both an event and a process. It took us a long time to get to the place where we could do this and there was a lot of activity on the day that the work began to rip things out, and the project even ran into some roadblocks that slowed it down, but it has continued moving forward and it is a new creation and, as grass and plants grow and as we finish other little projects on it, it will continue becoming the new creation it was designed to be:


YOU'LL HAVE TO COME VISIT TO EXPERIENCE THE NEW CREATION 😉


This Summer we will be talking about a "Fresh Start" as we study Genesis 1-12 and look at how God started fresh and how He kept giving opportunities for Fresh Starts as people messed up His good creation. I want to encourage you to join us on Sundays and come ready to share something with others and hear what others have to say too. It's never too late to start fresh! We may be tempted to try to patch things together, but that isn't what God wants for us. We may even believe that God just wants a slightly improved version of what we already are, but the truth is that God is AMAZING and that His desires are to do things that are exceedingly, abundantly, MORE than anything we ask or imagine! We are each invited to experience this new life that Paul refers to as being a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we are invited into being this new community as God's people (1 Peter 2:9-10). This ability to live in an authentic relationship with God and with other people is not possible in our old lives and ways, but IN CHRIST, we are a new creation and we can live as a new community.


This Summer is an opportunity to start fresh. There may be some things in your life that need to get demolished so that new things can be built and so that new life can spring forth. Are you willing to surrender those things to the architect who has good designs for your life? To a good Father who desires to give His child what is best? I encourage you to press into the new things that God has for you, and us together, as we keep listening to His word and applying it to our lives!

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