Lent, Week 2: Patience

26 Feb

Whether you’ve given something up for Lent, like chocolate, or you’ve added a new spiritual practice, like praying more, we all need patience. The Hebrew word for patience means to wait for, to look for, to hope, to expect… So in this second week of Lent, it’s the perfect discipline to look at as we seek and wait for the Lord.

Consider Psalm 37:7 which says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” What we love about this Lenten season is that as we give up or take up things for 40 days, it isn’t just the act of giving/taking them up but the patience behind them as we think about the Lord and wait patiently for Him. And in these days leading up to Easter, it isn’t an apathetic waiting but an expectant waiting – an active waiting.

But we all know that it isn’t easy. Many times, we’ll be tempted to give up and lose our cool. Hebrews 12:1 says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance (or patience, or endurance) the race marked out for us…

Do we run a race calmly and nonchalantly? No. The kind of patience we need in our walks is an active and dynamic patience as we face difficulties, endure trials & temptations, and trust in God’s promise and timing. It’s already been 8 days since we started and I’m sure many of us are having a tough time but instead of letting impatience and restlessness overcome us, let’s try resting in God’s perfect timing and strengthen our patience. Continue to be in His Word so that when you feel lost or anxious, you will have a better idea of the course of action needed to actively wait for Him and endure.

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. -Romans 2:7

Reflection Song: Christ Is


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 1: Dirty Foreheads (An Ash Wednesday Blog)

17 Feb

“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” – Genesis 3:9

…a verse that we often hear on this day to remind us that we came from dust and will return to dust. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the day where we mark our foreheads with the ashes from burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday. It also marks the beginning of the 40 days of fasting many of us tackle each year – from junk food, to shopping, to the internet, to games… we usually fast something to imitate Jesus in the desert.

And though Ash Wednesday isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, we follow this tradition to reflect and prepare for Easter. You may or may not be attending a church service for it but as you think about the countless number of dirty foreheads going around the world today, consider the significance and meaning of it. In the shape of a cross, some may leave it on for a moment, and some may even leave it on all day as a public profession of faith.

And soon (about 40 days), we’ll contemplate the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Let today be a reminder of that as you see the foreheads around you. We were once dirty but made clean because of Jesus, continually being made more like Him. And during this Lenten journey we will post weekly thoughts like last year so that we can prepare the way of the Lord together for Easter.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,they shall be as white as snow;though they are red as crimson,they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Perfect Love (A Valentine’s Day Blog)

13 Feb

The other day at our church small group, a few of us were talking about the unfortunate lack of communication these days and how that’s impacted our signs of affection. It’s gotten to the point where we aren’t sure what “I like you” means anymore because some feel the need to differentiate “I like you” with “I like like you”! That’s some real emphasis there!

With Valentine’s Day so imminent, those who have a date may be getting ready for whatever’s planned – but those who don’t may be wondering “does he/she like like me?”, much like the classic “he loves me / he loves me not” flower petal plucking…

But I think it’s great that Valentine’s Day lands on a Saturday this year because the following day is Sunday, the day we gather together to worship the One who truly loves us. And in case you aren’t sure how much God loves you, let’s take a look at the very famous verse, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

You see, God showed His love for us on the cross with His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. There’s no doubt about it after reading that verse that it’s because of God’s perfect love. And in case you need that extra emphasis or clarification, take a closer look: “For God so loved the world…” – that’s like saying, “For God loved loved the world”! That’s quite some love! It’s the same perfect love that casts out fear and insecurity (1 John 4:18)… the perfect love that helps heal & cure… perfect love that we are made aware of and get to experience every day.

So whether you’ve got plans or you’ve got plans to stay at home, God so loves you… in fact, God is love and His perfect love is unconditional, unmatched, and unmeasurable.

Reflection Song: One Thing Remains

Temple Of Legos

12 Feb

We attended the first night of the Re:New Conference by the Luis Palau Association, here in Wayne, NJ. There were some great leaders leading the night such as Luis Palau, Francis Chan, and worship led by Kristian Stanfill and the Passion band. It was a great night of worship and prayer, as well as being fed by the Word and being inspired & informed of the things going on in our NJ/NY/CT region.

But during Francis Chan’s talk, the part about Jesus’ prayer from John 17 stood out in particular:

“…I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

That “oneness”… that “unity in the Trinity”, if you will, is what was the center of the night. Uniting all peoples of all races and of all denominations and backgrounds to be one. Francis Chan illustrated this by taking out a single Lego piece (and if you aren’t familiar with Legos, maybe Mega Bloks are more for you?) – saying that we, you & I, are like a Lego piece. On our own we are individual and separate but, like Legos, we are meant to be built together as the temple – attached to each other so that those attached will see the glory of the Lord.

Francis Chan
(Francis Chan holding up Legos)

And, mind you, that’s not the physical temple like what’s mentioned here in 2 Chronicles 7 because now we are the temple. And I love what he said next because it really drove it home: In 1 Corinthians 3:16 it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

The “you” in that verse is actually plural like “y’all” but the “temple” is singular. We are to be one in the Spirit. What a massive idea! We may each be a Lego piece but each of us are part of the same temple – you may be a bottom piece, a middle piece, or a piece that goes on top, but we’re all singular… one.

So we need to function like the way Christ wanted us to function. By ourselves, Legos aren’t all that great… it’s when they come together that they build something more and something better. Right now you may feel alone and may be going through something or maybe it’s something as imminent as being anxious about Lent. But we need to be patient and continue to build this body, this community, this temple. We’ve been saying here that 2015 will be a big year – and we truly believe it. It’ll take time, but we pray that the church would be undivided and build up for something greater in the Kingdom of God!

Stay attached and stay united. Jesus is coming soon!

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Smiling Galaxy Cluster (SDSS J1038+4849 from Hubble)

10 Feb

You may have heard on the news of the recent finding by the Hubble Space Telescope… a smile found on galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 seen here :

hubble
(Taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope)

Much like last year’s Hand Of God, you can’t help but think of God smiling down at us. It’s funny how all the “stars aligned” to bring us this image. But it’s a great reminder to know that we give God pleasure and make Him smile.

How do we make Him smile/happy? Some ways are by making Him a priority, obeying and serving Him. We should have faith and hope in Him, revering and honoring Him. Psalm 147:11 even says “the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

God created all and it is for His pleasure that everything exists and were created. How are you doing in your walks with Him? Where can you grow in your life to continue giving God reasons to smile? Remember that He takes delight in His people (Psalm 149:4) so as you live faithfully and humbly for Him and His glory, worship Him and enjoy the close & intimate relationship He offers us all!

To quote our song Here Today: “His love is intimate, His power is infinite”! We get to know this mighty and awesome God and He wants to be a part of your life. We hope today you are reminded of His faithfulness and presence in your life as He smiles on you and makes His face shine upon you (Numbers 6:25)!

Reflection Song: Here Today

It Is Finished

4 Feb

“Tetelestai!”, shouted Louie Giglio at Passion 2015, as he began to illustrate just what that word means: the single Greek word that covers three in English… “It is finished”. It is only mentioned twice in the New Testament, and both are in John 19 when Jesus paid it all and died for us on the cross. But what exactly is finished?

The system – everything we knew before, the religious system – is finished. Sin – the very sin that makes us dead, but no longer has power over us – is finished. Shame – and all that’s tagged along with it such as guilt, condemnation, pity… – is finished. And self – you & me, the small picture… because Jesus was selfless and sacrificed Himself for you & me – is finished.

But the beautiful thing about Louie’s talk is that he talked about what’s next: When Jesus said, “It is finished” that’s when it began for us. “It” may be finished, but it’s also a brand new start. With Jesus’ last breath, came our first – His last words are our first. We didn’t know life until He gave it to us – our life begins where His ended. Tetelestai.

John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that we would have life to the fullest. We are already in the second month of 2015. It feels like just yesterday we were talking about the New Year. What needs to finish in your life so that you can begin anew? In fact, in just 2 weeks it will be Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent as we prepare for Easter. So today, we invite you to reflect upon your life as the big picture and consider the things that are done & finished, in Jesus’ Name, so that you would have life to the full. It’s not about you or me. Let’s make it about Jesus Christ.

Reflection Song: Here I Stand

In The Light

2 Jan

We just spent most of this week with Pilgrim Youth Group at their “In The Light” winter retreat. Looking back, I can’t imagine a better way to wrap up 2014 and kick off 2015! There were incredible times of worship, fellowship, and new relationships being made… an all-around encouraging retreat. But when I heard the theme “In The Light”, I couldn’t help but think about the old dc Talk song from my own youth group days. The lyrics go like this:

I keep trying to find a life on my own, apart from You
I am the king of excuses – I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do
What’s going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions that I’m still a man in need of a Savior

I wanna be in the light as You are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my light and be my salvation ’cause all I want is to be in the light

Maybe you’re reflecting upon the past year and as you look at yourself you see darkness, regret, or shame. But on the contrary, we are co-heirs with Christ who are meant to shine! We’ve all heard the passage before from Matthew 5: you are the light of the world… So where does that leave us?

We ought to strive to be the light we were meant to be – to strive to be more like Jesus! We believe 2015 is going to be a great year… not just because of all the new movies coming out or our own personal New Year’s resolutions, but because it’s another year to press on and reflect the image of Christ (and you can’t create a reflection without light!). That means in your schools, homes, workplaces, etc. too!

Start this new year by admitting that you’re not perfect but need the One who is. Jesus is the One we need and the One we need to obey. Let’s work on being more like Him, making our lives holy and pleasing sacrifices of worship, and trusting in His holy Name. No regrets, no guilt, no fear… let this year be a year where you prosper – make 2015 a great year for a new “you” to be in the light and shine the light of God!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Reflection Song: Christ Is

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