Anchored

Another year has come and gone… Recently coming back from a retreat with a theme of “Anchored”, we remember that Jesus is our anchor in the storm. Our hope is anchored in Him, especially when we’re faced with uncertainty or when oceans roar!

A lot can happen in a year and I’m sure we all had our fair share of ups & downs in 2018. Isn’t it always so easy to thank God and trust in Him when everything’s going your way? But when things start getting a little shaky, who do we hold onto? When our path starts to waver, who do we lean on?

Hebrews 2 challenges us to keep our hope in Christ and not on any other future hope. Jesus is our solid rock & firm foundation! In a construction sense, Isaiah 28:16 says that Jesus is a tested stone, or a cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. And those who believe in Him will not be disturbed. What a great promise that is!

You see, we have an assurance in our anchor, Jesus Christ. We won’t drift away or be shaken because like an anchor, what Jesus has done for us through His death & resurrection is the steadiness and security we desperately need! Without Him, we’re relying on our own strength and surely we’ll fail… Why wouldn’t we trust in the One who keeps us grounded in His never-ending love and consistently provides for us?

So with 2019 just around the corner, our hope & prayer for you is that you will be anchored in Christ. That could mean more Quiet Time during the week, keeping a steady Bible reading plan, attending an early morning prayer gathering, or maybe something else that the Lord is tugging you toward! But may next year be filled with much hope in Him as you continue to grow in the Word and seek Him more!

Happy New Year!

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” – Hebrews 6:19

Reflection Song: Christ Is

Almost God

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

In The Light

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

Honesty Is The Best Policy

If we are to follow Christ then truth, honesty, and integrity are essential. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Honesty is a necessary component in following after Jesus. Conversely, dishonesty will pull us away from Him.

This past weekend we led praise at the New Life Summer Retreat, which had the theme Honesty. It was a really authentic time of worship and growth. Unlike your “conventional” retreat, there was no guest pastor to preach amazing sermons. Instead, testimonies were shared within small groups, and several were shared during the main session. We were really encouraged by these powerful stories and it was apparent how relationships were beginning to grow because of them.

Being honest with others isn’t easy in a time where we hide behind communicating through text messages, Facebook statuses, and Instagram comments. It’s so easy to mask your true self. But the testimonies shared were powerful and displayed how God has worked and is working through each and every one of us, molding us into the son or daughter He intended for us to become. What I was reminded was that honesty not only shows your character, but it also shows your faith. Throughout the Bible we are assured that it is impossible for God to lie. That’s a lot harder to say for ourselves… but with God setting the example, we ought to strive to be more true to others and to ourselves.

Proverbs 11:3 says “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

In fact, we heard many stories of struggles, difficulties, and straying from God. A lot of it was covered up by deception, lies, and even trying to fool oneself. But as soon as they shared about how the truth was discovered (or re-discovered), that because of Jesus Christ we are a new creation, the stories took a turn where lives began turning back towards God the Father!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I thought of my own testimony – of who I was and who I’ve become because of Christ. We’re all constantly changing and experiencing changes. So it is important that we never lose sight of what’s ahead so that we stay true to who we ought to be in Christ. Surround yourself with honesty, truthful people, so that you too can be more honest and open with others, yourself, and God.

Today, let’s remember to stay in the truth, speak and live the truth, and you may also be helping others around you to the Truth! Jesus, the author of eternal salvation, is the way, the truth and the life… Let’s motivate and cultivate honesty through the love He’s shown us!

Reflection Song: Only You