Almost God

10 Aug

So close… but God, if you just answered these prayers you would really be God!

Isn’t that how we think sometimes? This is one of the challenges from Pastor Sam at this past CYG Summer Retreat. “Oh God, You are almost God.” That on our journeys, we ask of God but we see that things don’t always go our way… We forget that what we have with the Heavenly Father is relational, not transactional. In fact, for any healthy relationship it’s important that you’re not keeping score or treating it like a vending machine relationship, and it’s the same with God.

And as we continued to dive deeper into the retreat theme of “Stepping Out”, it was good being reminded (with the stories of Zacchaeus in the sycamore-fig tree and Peter walking on water) that sometimes we need to take a step of faith and trust God – from where we were to where He’s leading. But so often we box God up and limit our perspective of Him, not allowing Him to be all that He is. So what a refreshing sight it was to see so many clenched fists open during worship, lives being changed for a new future, and hope being restored all across this church!

God is good all the time and He always has the perfect plan for your life. We hope that whether you’re reaching & stretching to get a better glimpse like Zaccaheus or you feel like you’re reluctantly taking a step of faith like Peter, you’ll be blessed as you strive for more in your walks with the Lord. Don’t put a cap on who God can fully be in your life. He isn’t almost God – He is always God. Open up your heart and life to the new possibilities only possible through Jesus!

Reflection Song: Here I Stand

Christ Is Risen!

27 Mar

He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. (Matthew 28:6)

Jesus is alive! He’s conquered sin & death and we are alive in Him. We hope that wherever you are today, you will be able to celebrate the risen King – it’s something worth celebrating!

Death couldn’t hold Him down!

We glorify King Jesus Christ
Who died for all our sin
He came to save, conquered the grave
Now we’re alive in Him
He Has Overcome

Happy Easter!

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome

Good Friday?

25 Mar

What makes Good Friday good? To those unfamiliar with today, they see a man who was earlier proclaimed as King being mocked & humiliated, tortured & killed. Yet on this day, as believers, we gather to pray, to worship, and continue to prepare for the third day…

…because the story doesn’t end here.

All good stories have a good ending. And though Good Friday may seem unusual to any who don’t know, we know that we can find hope in the cross… the cross that was meant to kill, yet is now a symbol of life for us.

It is said in Isaiah 53:3-5, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Jesus took our sin, our guilt, our shame… all of it to the cross on our behalf. What a burden we no longer have to bear. And that’s a feeling that ought to make us feel good.

Praise God for that cross today.

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood

Prepare The Way (Palm Sunday)

20 Mar

I think it’s great that today is both Palm Sunday and the first day of Spring. Something a lot of us do around this time is a little spring cleaning. Tidying up, making room for summer, preparing for a new season… And in a lot of ways, that’s what Palm Sunday is too.

The Bible accounts the crowds in Jerusalem making a way for Jesus. And even us today, we may have given some things up for Lent in order to make more room for Jesus in our lives. It’s our own version of spring cleaning. What better day to recognize how Jesus can enter than Palm Sunday!

Whether you’re at church or unable to attend, today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final days leading up to Good Friday and Easter. But we all have obstacles in the way. Take a moment today to re-prioritize so that there’s nothing obstructive in our lives. Let’s start today off right and invite Jesus. Clean out the things we don’t need so that He can fill us instead, as the one who satisfies.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection

13 Mar

Easter is a time to celebrate the empty grave!

It’s a time to proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” from the Mystery of Faith. And I love what Charlie Hall does with this proclamation in his song, Mystery: “Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, proclaim His coming. Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, lift your eyes.” And the death & rising truly is a mystery, but it’s a mystery worth celebrating.

It doesn’t end with Jesus’ death & resurrection! In fact, the Bible says that we too have been resurrected with Christ! Romans 6:1-14 is titled “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ”. We were buried with Christ through baptism into death so that we could be raised with Him to live a new life for His glory.

Easter is easily a time where we can contemplate the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice, and His death & resurrection. We may have even heard/read/recited John 3:16 more than we can count. But don’t let the power of the resurrection in your own life continue to be buried. We have been raised with Christ!

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Brothers & sisters, prepare for that very resurrection as we draw even nearer to Easter. We are alive with Christ and if sin & death are no more through the power of Christ, continue to be steadfast in your Lenten journey and in your lives. Glory to God!

Reflection Song: Unending Praise

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Lent, Week 5: Prepare The Cross

6 Mar

Shortly after Valentine’s Day, stores were marking all the red & pink chocolates on clearance and slowly stocking the shelves with purple & blue chocolates… eggs, bunnies, and for a second I got thrown off by chocolate crosses.

“What’s that doing there–oh wait, that’s right…” Last I checked, Easter is still an important holiday in Christianity. Often times we associate the cross as means to Jesus’ resurrection, which overshadows the actual purpose of a cross: death.

Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

What does it mean to prepare your cross? When Jesus says to take up your cross daily, it means to be ready to die in order to follow Jesus. That’s pretty heavy! But it’s part of surrendering ourselves to the Lord. And that’s what we should be doing in this time: intentionally living each moment, preparing that cross.

Billy Graham once said, “It is possible for us to stand on the wrong side of Easter and look at the cross all our lives and never be redeemed or saved.” Don’t let the cross be overshadowed by all the things going on as we approach Easter. Remember the cross, its meaning and its significance for us.

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

Lent, Week 4: Prepare Your Heart

29 Feb

We’re about halfway into Lent (today is Day 17, for those of you who keep count). You might find yourself to be in autopilot mode by now, possibly numbed to the reason why you started fasting. But hopefully not!

I’ve discovered that halfway into Lent is the easiest to get stuck in a routine, continuing just because you already started. Even those around you may have picked up on it by now: “Oh, he can’t have soda.” But I believe right now, in the in-between, is a crucial point for our fasting and our Lenten journey as a whole.

You may remember in Luke 10:38-42, Mary & Martha opened their home to Jesus. Notice the difference in their attitudes? Both want to honor the Lord but for some reason, the busyness takes over Martha. Some of us have an urge to stay busy, especially if it’s to distract us from thinking about what was given up during Lent! (Right?)

We think because we gave it up, that’s good enough for the Lord… but our hearts need to be in the right place. Don’t let the actions of what you do overshadow the heart of the actions. In your fasting (or supplementing), take time to think about what God has done for you so that you can appropriately reflect and celebrate with the time you have. Give Him your heart, your life, and attention over your gestures and actions.

It’s easy to bury Lent within Lent. But dig deep and keep the purpose strong. Bless the Lord who continues to bless you and strive to make the rest of this time a time to make it count. The things we consider precious are so dull in comparison to Him!

Reflection Song: Because Of Your Love

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)

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