18 Bible Verses for 2018 [You’ll be Encouraged]

Concept of a man follows the right way

 
As you begin 2018, we encourage you to begin on a foundation of Biblical Truth. Here are some verses to get you started, but we challenge you to build your life like never before on the principles of God’s Word, the Bible. Read it, meditate on what it means, listen to sermons online, memorize it and more.  If you do not have a church home that preaches and teaches the Bible regularly, please consider visiting our church.  We have many options for learning the Bible and for building great God-honoring relationships.  
 
Here are the 18 verses to start 2018.  Feel free to add your own. The Bible is filled with promises from God. 
 

Isaiah 41:10 – Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

 

Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  

 

Psalms 56:3 – What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

 

Psalms 34:4 – I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

 

Matthew 6:25 – Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?   

 

1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 

 

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

 

1 John 4:18 – There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

 

Isaiah 35:4 – Say to them [that are] of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come [with] vengeance, [even] God [with] a recompence; he will come and save you.

 

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

Exodus 14:14 – The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

 

Proverbs 12:25 – Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

 

Psalms 23:4 – Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 

Matthew 6:34 – Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.

 

Psalms 27:1 – The LORD [is] my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
 
 
Joshua 1:9  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
 
Here is more from our church that you may find helpful as you start this new year…

 



Facts You May Not Know About A Charlie Brown Christmas

The most popular Christmas special of all time next to “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” is “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It has been shown every year and often twice a year since 1965.  It is the only Christmas special to clearly present the true reason for Christmas and point us to God.

Here are 5 facts about the show you probably didn’t know AND

5 Truths About God that Linus’ quote from the Bible teaches us about God.

 

  1. The show was developed in less than 7 weeks on an extremely small budget.
  2. The show almost never aired. CBS executives originally didn’t like it for reasons ranging from not having a laugh track to the Biblical passage recited by Linus.
  3. The first special was commissioned by the Coca Cola Company as an exclusive advertising opportunity.
  4. The final program was finished just 10 days before the premiere.
  5. The negative view of aluminum trees presented in the show ruined the aluminum Christmas tree market. They were no longer manufactured after 1967.

 

As mentioned above, the Bible quotation has caused some controversy over the years. However, Charles Shultz, the creator, said that it had to be included since it was the true meaning of Christmas. The inclusion of the passage from Luke chapter 2 reminds us that the perfect answer to the question “Who is God?” is found in the Christmas story.  

 

Here are 5 key truths about God’s revelation of himself through Jesus’ birth and what practical significance that has for our lives.
 
  1. God wants to be known.

The entire Bible is filled with hundreds of accounts and stories of God revealing himself to people and communicating with them. Many people wrongly believe that God is distant and inactive in the world or in our lives. They believe that he is real, maybe even that he created the world and set it in motion – but that he has been “hands off” ever since (Deism). This is false. Scripture teaches us that God is actively involved both in world affairs and in our personal lives. He is both transcendent and immanent. That is, he is above and beyond all that we can comprehend and imagine, and yet he has chosen to be active among us and communicate with us and seek relationship with us. God wants to be known. He wants humanity to know him and has proved himself willing to go to extreme lengths in order for that to happen.

  1. Through Jesus, God reveals his identity

We know that God wants to be known because of the many ways that he revealed himself to his people throughout the Bible. God walked with Adam and Eve. He spoke to Noah. He called Abram to uproot his life and move to the place he had for him – and so on and so on throughout the Old Testament. He spoke through visions and dreams. He spoke to Judges and through prophets. He gave his written Law. He spoke in a still, small voice; and he spoke through thunder on Mt. Sinai. The Psalms declare that God can be known by the great things he has done in our lives and Romans even tells us that creation itself proclaims the identity of God to the world. And the list could go on for hours, but none of these, NONE of these – even if you added them all together, come even close to the fullness of God’s revealing his identity that exists in the person of Jesus Christ. God wants his identity to be known and Jesus’ is the ultimate proof of that.

  1. Through Jesus, God reveals his character.

Throughout the Gospels, we see God’s character made vividly clear in the person of Jesus. The Old Testament gives us a taste of God’s character and heart – but Jesus is the perfect and complete picture of God’s character. Sometimes it can be difficult to read through books like Leviticus and Numbers that contain chapter upon chapter of laws. But even these laws, along with the entire rest of the Bible, give us a glimpse into the character and heart of God. But Jesus himself is the ultimate revealing of God’s character. In Jesus, we find the heart of God. We find him caring for people, loving people, rebuking the hypocritical religious people, healing the sick, setting the demon possessed free of spiritual oppression, letting children come to him, bringing people back from the dead, and much more. In each teaching of Jesus and in the life of Jesus; in every story and every parable; every healing and every exorcism; we see the character of God clearly made known. As we read through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, we see the heart and character of God on display.

  1. Through Jesus, God reveals his purpose.

There is perhaps no clearer description of Jesus own mission and purpose in this world than we find in Luke 4:16-21 – Jesus’ mission statement:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

Though many of the people of Jesus’ day thought his purpose was to set them free from Roman oppression, Jesus came to set them free from something far more powerful and far more oppressive – sin, evil, and death – an oppressor that only God could conquer and overcome. Jesus came to set humanity free from enslavement to sin once and for all. He didn’t do this just to do it. He didn’t set us free for freedom’s sake – he set us free so that we might be in relationship with him and know him and love him. In short, Jesus’ purpose in coming was to do what was necessary to set us free from sin so that we could enter into a loving relationship with him. In Jesus, God made his purpose known, not only for the world at large, but also in our individual lives. His overarching purpose was to set each person AND all of humanity free from enslavement to sin and to provide a way for his people to be in healthy and holy relationship with him. Through Jesus’ teaching and his death and resurrection, we have the perfect revelation of God’s purpose.

  1. Through Jesus, God reveals his love.  

The love that Jesus exudes throughout the Gospels is the perfect display of love. Jesus himself said that the greatest and purest form of love is to lay down one’s own life for the sake of others (John 15:13). In Jesus life and especially in his death, God’s deep and unfathomable love was perfectly revealed as he laid down his life, not just for his friends, but for his enemies – those who hated him (Romans 5:8) – and for all of humanity. Even though we were still sinners, Christ died for us so that we could be made right with him – so that we could know him and commune with him forever. He was willing to endure the punishment we deserved and die the death we should have died, simply so that we could know and love him. His birth, his life, and his death are the perfect revelation of God’s love to humanity.

Christmas is an important time for believers to reflect on these truths and their importance for their faith. Christmas reminds us in ways that few other things can, about the true identity, character, purpose, and love of God. Only in the person of Jesus can we see all these things in their full and complete form. During this Advent season, as we approach Christmas Day, there will be nothing more spiritually meaningful than to reflect on and grow in our understanding of who our God is and what he has done for us.

We hope you affirm these truths and celebrate Christmas not only as a special time of year but in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you have questions about these truths or about a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact us here or visit us for a service.

We also have some wonderful Christmas events this month at our church. Follow the links below for more information and we hope you enjoy a very Merry Christmas.

Information on “A Charlie Brown Christmas” gathered from Wikipedia. Read more at this link.
 
Click the Graphics Below to Visit Other Pages for Events, Articles and Information.

 
 


5 Biblical Thoughts to Help You Still Give Thanks When Life is Ugh, Annoying and Bleh

How to Give Thanks When Life is

It is Thanksgiving time and yet perhaps it is hard for you to be thankful this year.  Perhaps finances are tighter than ever or cancer struck at the heart of your normally thankful spirit.  Maybe thankfulness seems to elude you this year because of  a series of smaller difficulties  that have piled up. Whatever the circumstances, the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5 that we are to give thanks in ALL things. How in the world are we supposed to do that?

Here Are 5 Ways We Can Learn to Give Thanks Even When Life Is Ugh, Annoying and Bleh…

1.      Relinquish control to God’s sovereign plan, knowing that He is never out of control. Even with the problem of sin and evil, God overrules and works all things for our good as we become more like Christ.

2.      Rest in God’s wisdom and love.  God is all-wise. He knows the end from the beginning and is always acting in love toward us, His children. We often cannot see that when in suffering, yet we can understand it when we compare parenting to God’s love.  As a parent allows a non-understanding, crying baby to undergo surgery, an immunization shot, or other pain for ultimate healing or good, so God does the same.  As the parent would not love the child if he/she stopped the pain, so God would not fully love us if He did not allow what was best. 

3.      Run to His Word. God’s Word, the Bible, contains “all things that apply to life and godliness.” We open it to find the truths we need, and we depend upon His Spirit to lead us in applying it to our situation and to our hearts personally. 

4.      Reach out to others.  In the midst of our pain, it is helpful to serve others.  Serving helps us get our focus off of our suffering.  It is an encouragement to know that we have helped others and been used by God to bring joy to them.  Even during Jesus’ suffering on the cross, He was mindful of His mother’s needs.

5.      Share your burden.  Don’t substitute fellowship with others for time with God; but if at all possible, find a close Godly friend who will faithfully listen and point you back to God’s truth when your faith begins to waiver. Confide in your church family to find healing and strength. God works through the body of Christ, the church. If you don’t have a church family, we would invite you to visit us.

For further consideration, please understand that the Bible isn’t a book that emphasizes thankfulness and then hides the fact that humans suffer. Here are some examples.  Adam and Eve suffered the murder of their son by his own brother.  Job suffered the loss of almost all he had. The faithful Christians in Revelation suffered. Hebrews 11 has a whole list of suffering saints. 

As we attempt to have this spirit of thankfulness, We are faced with the question of why God’s children suffer in the first place if an all-powerful God loves and cares for them. Though that seeming dilemma is not the point of this article, a few quick notes may lead you to further help and study.

  1. Sin. We live in a sin-cursed world. Romans 8:22 reminds us that all Creation groans because of sin.  In addition, the consequences of our own personal sin often bring pain. The sins of others can bring heartache, too.

    2.      Strangers. We are strangers in this world. Hebrews 11:13 reminds us that this world is not our home. This is not our place of rest. We can’t expect to be too comfortable here.  Heaven is our resting place.

    3.      Sons. We are sons of God. Therefore God, as a loving Father, brings suffering at times to discipline us in order that it may yield the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in our lives (Hebrews 12).

    4.      Satan. Job 1 allows us to see that Satan and his minions are allowed by God to bring about hard times for God’s children in order to bring glory to God.  Always remember though, that God’s glory and the good of his children are eternally bound together. Our good does not suffer to bring God glory. 

    5.      Selfishness. Although a derivative of #1 above, it still should be mentioned, because the selfishness of those we love (as well as those we don’t even know) can cause great pain.

Again if you feel that we can be of help to you are someone you know, please get in touch with us or stop in for a visit. We are here to point people to the Bible and the hope that is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
 


Christian Worldview Vs. Horrific Tragedy

 

Why a Christian Worldview Works Even in the Face of Unspeakable Evil
 
On Sunday November 5, at approximately 11:30 am a man walked in to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX and killed or wounded at least 46 people. Many questions arise in the aftermath of tragedy.  In the early hours and days, the questions are often answerable. How many died? Who was the killer? What did the authorities do in response? What was the killer’s motive? However, these questions quickly give way to the deeper questions that seem to be unanswerable. We all wrestle with questions like these about tragedies.

  • If God is good, why did he allow such evil, especially to people who identify as his children?
  • If God is in control of all things, why didn’t he stop this tragedy before it happened?
  • Why didn’t God allow the killer to be caught instead of just killing himself?

Although many of these types of questions are and will remain unanswered in detail, there are answers in the bigger sense. Though we may not understand the specifics of why this tragedy, why these particular people, or why this small church, we can understand from the Bible who God is, why evil exists and how God has victory over it.  Those answers come from what we call a Christian worldview.
We all have some sort of worldview if we realize it or not, and it matters!
A worldview is best described as the glasses through which we see and interpret all that is happening around us in the world. It attempts to tell an overarching story, to explain the universe in both grand and detailed ways. The story attempts to bring clarity and understanding to every part of existence.
A worldview:

  • Tells of origins (Where did the universe come from?)
  • Envisions a future (What is the future of the universe and our lives?)
  • Constructs ideals (What does a perfect world look like for all people?)
  • Provides rules of conduct (What is right and wrong?)
  • Provides a source of authority (Who is in charge?)
  • Gives a sense of life purpose (Why do we exist?)

Without a worldview of some kind, life has no meaning. There is no understanding of what is happening around us. Without meaning, living has no real purpose. Without purpose, there is no hope and reason to live.
We all seek to understand the world around us, especially in the midst of confusion, pain and tragic situations. From scientific questions to questions of good and evil, and why there is suffering we wonder why.  We seek guidance for decisions and meaning to life’s trials. We seek true beauty in art and wonder at the hate we see between human beings. These answers and more can be found through the glasses of our worldview.
God has provided an undistorted worldview through his word, the Bible, by communicating basic truths that are fundamental to every aspect of our life. This worldview brings clarity, purpose, and guidance for all of life.
Although there are many many worldviews that people follow, there are only two basic worldviews, a true one and a false one. The true one has only one definition. The false one takes on many forms. Let’s look at these two worldviews.
Firstly, let’s look at a non-biblical and false worldview summary.  Remember, there are many versions of this, but they all include the same fundamental points.

  • The universe came into existence by random chance or at best by means of an intelligent being or beings that we cannot know, understand or communicate with. There is no ultimate authority other than the most dominate being(s), which currently is humanity.
  • Currently in this grand ever evolving process, man is the center of all things. man has no ultimate purpose except in some organic evolutionary way. He is on his own. The strong survive, the weak are destroyed, and the random, chaotic evolution of all things continues.
  • Man should not be held to an absolute moral code, there is not one. Man should live in a way that is best for himself to enjoy life and survive as long as possible. After death, man will not be held accountable for his actions. Death is simply the end of existence. There is no future after death.
Secondly, let’s look at a Christian worldview. You can watch a very short video summary of a Christian worldview clicking below and then we’ll give you some reasons why this view works and makes sense even in the face of tragedy to the very people who hold this worldview. 
 

So how does this make sense in the face of tragedy even to those who believe this worldview? How does it bring hope to despair and meaning even to hardship?

1. In a Christian worldview, God is creator and therefore he is the authority over all his creation. He sets the rules for his creation. He sets both natural law i.e. gravity which cannot be broken, and he sets moral laws which can and have been broken. The reason we even know right and wrong and that murder is evil is because God created life, gave it value and gave us moral law. Non-Christian worldviews cannot adequately account for these facts.
The reason we know what happened in Texas was a tragedy is because precious life was taken and the Evolutionary answers of survival of the fittest doesn’t add up! In the depths of our soul, in our emotions and conscience, we know it was horrific evil because we know what good and evil are thanks to God
.
2. In a Christian worldview, God has not left his creation to suffer under evil indefinitely. At great cost to himself, he sent his only son, Jesus, who is God as well, to suffer and die in order to conquer evil and provide salvation from evil. Jesus entered into our suffering. He himself was tragically murdered. However, His death and resurrection from the grave prevents evil from ever conquering good completely.  In a Christian worldview, God always overrules evil with good even though for the moment, as with Jesus’ death, evil may seem to win.

3. In a Christian worldview, there is hope because of salvation in Jesus Christ. He conquered death, rose again from the grave and now provides eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.  Not only is evil like that in Texas overcome, but our own sinful heart can be forgiven and our relationship with God can be restored. We personally can have victory over evil and sin in our own life. We do not have to be captive to our own sinful condition.

4. In a Christian worldview, we have the hope of eternal life. For those who have accepted God’s gift of salvation which is free to us but came at great cost to him, it is not death to die. Yes, that is right, it is not death to die.  When God speaks of death in the Bible, he speaks of eternal death which is separation from God in Hell for those who reject Jesus’ gift and do not believe in him. For those who do accept his gift of salvation such as those at the First Baptist Church, death is not eternal. It is a passage way to eternal life. The Bible says that for those who have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ to be absent from this earthly body is to be instantly present with the Lord in Heaven.

5. In a Christian worldview, evil such as we saw in this situation is punished. Perhaps the killer supposed in his worldview that his ticket to freedom from the carnage he had caused by his evil actions was to kill himself thus ending life and entering a state of non-existence. No jail, no remorse, no guilt, no dread, he felt as many who commit such atrocities do, that killing themselves was the end. However, in a Christian worldview, this man went to Hell. He will stand before God in  the final judgement for his sin as we all will someday and then he will be condemned to eternal death in the Lake of Fire. There is no hope for him, no second chance. His fate is sealed. His worldview was horribly wrong in so many ways and at so many levels. Worldviews do have consequences.

What is your worldview? What are it’s consequences for your future? How do you process events such as these terrible tragedies? Do you believe that the universe happened from a “Big Bang?” Do you believe in the evolutionary process, the survival of the fittest, that life is random, futile, and meaningful only for the strong who survive? Do you believe that good and evil are simply cultural norms?  Do you believe there are no moral absolutes based on a moral absolute being who is designer, creator and ultimate authority, GOD? May we ask you to consider the Christian worldview. Use the resources below to learn more and consider God.

For those who have a Christian worldview, do not be discouraged even in the face of hard questions. God is in control. He does overcome evil with good. We are part of his plan in doing so. Share God’s good news contained in the Christian worldview with others. Share God’s love by reaching out to others and loving them. Pray for God’s help and strength for those touched by this and other effects of man’s sin, and look up for the Lord can come at any time.

Do you have questions? Would you like to talk about your spiritual life and relationship with God?  Contact us by clicking here or visit us for a service soon.

Click here for other helpful articles that can help answer questions about God, the universe, his relationship to you and more. 

Check out these other helpful articles below on our website for more information about God.  ​

 
 


As the Storm Rages

At the risk of seeming trite with a short article, we still wanted to address the pain, suffering, devastation and loss so many are dealing with right now and remind people there are biblical truths that address even these difficulties. Perhaps a brief survey of these truths will help prompt further study or a visit to our church for more discussion with our pastor.

We see often in Scripture the saints of God in times of suffering. Adam and Eve suffered the murder of their son by his own brother. Job suffered the loss of almost all he had. Actually, a good deal of Job’s loss was due to a weather-related event. The faithful Christians in Revelation suffered and even in Heaven seem to question why they were not being avenged for their suffering. Hebrews 11 has a whole list of suffering saints.

We are faced with the question of why God’s children suffer if an all-powerful God loves and cares for them. Though that seeming dilemma cannot be fully answered in our human knowledge and certainly not in a short article, a few quick reasons for suffering may lead you to further help and study.

1. Sin. We live in a sin-cursed world. Romans 8:22 reminds us that all Creation groans because of sin. People, nature and all the universe are under the curse of sin. In addition, the consequences of our own personal sin often bring pain. The sins of others can bring heartache, too. God did not leave us in this situation, but provided salvation through Jesus Christ, his death, burial and resurrection. Although we still experience pain in this life, we have the hope of eternity without pain and sorrow if we repent of our sin and accept his free gift of salvation. When all is lost, we can still have hope through Jesus Christ. God never promised an easy pain free life, but he did promise to never leave us or forsake us even in the storms. Even in death itself. For the child of God, death is God’s merciful escape from this sin-cursed world. Click here to learn more about how you can have a relationship with God. 

2. Strangers. We are strangers in this world. Hebrews 11:13 reminds us that this world is not our home. This is not our place of rest. We can’t expect to be too comfortable here. Heaven is our resting place.

3. Sons. We are sons of God. Therefore God, as a loving Father, brings suffering at times to discipline us in order that it may yield the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in our lives (Hebrews 12).

4. Satan. Job 1 allows us to see that Satan and his minions are allowed by God to bring about hard times for God’s children in order to bring glory to God. Always remember though, that God’s glory and the good of his children are eternally bound together. Our good does not stop in order to bring God glory. Somehow even our suffering is actually good for us in ways we may never understand until we get to Heaven.

5. Selfishness. Although a derivative of #1 above, it still should be mentioned, because the selfishness of those we love (as well as those we don’t even know) can cause great pain.

So, Here Are The 5 Biblical Ways We Can Learn to Cope Even When Life Is Hard

1. Relinquish control to God’s sovereign plan, knowing that He is never out of control. Even with the problem of sin and evil, God overrules and works all things for our good as we become more like Christ.

2. Rest in God’s wisdom and love. God is all-wise. He knows the end from the beginning and is always acting in love toward us, His children. We often cannot see that when in suffering, yet we can understand it when we compare parenting to God’s love. As a parent allows a non-understanding, crying baby to undergo surgery, an immunization shot, or other pain for ultimate healing or good, so God does the same. As the parent would not love the child if he/she stopped the pain, so God would not fully love us if He did not allow what was best.
Jesus himself suffered rejection, pain, and even death. God however was over-ruling in his sovereign control and brought about eternal good through the suffering of his own son.

3. Run to His Word. God’s Word, the Bible, contains “all things that apply to life and godliness.” We open it to find the truths we need, and we depend upon His Spirit to lead us in applying it to our situation and to our hearts personally. We encourage you to especially read the Psalms during difficult times.

4. Reach out to others. In the midst of our pain, it is helpful to serve others. Serving helps us get our focus off of our suffering. It is an encouragement to know that we have helped others and been used by God to bring joy to them. Even during Jesus’ suffering on the cross, He was mindful of His mother’s needs.

5. Share your burden. Don’t substitute fellowship with others for time with God; but if at all possible, find a close Godly friend who will faithfully listen and point you back to God’s truth when your faith begins to waiver. Confide in your church family to find healing and strength. God works through the body of Christ, the church.

As most of us watch the events in Texas, Florida and other areas in the paths of these storms, let us pray for grace and strength for those involved, give what we can by reaching out to help, and may we point people to biblical truth in the storm.
If you would like to join our church family to pray for those in the storms, please join us for a service soon.
 


6 Questions to Prayerfully Consider Before You Leave Your Church

 
Stop, Don’t Leave Just Yet…

6 Questions to Prayerfully Consider Before You Leave Your Church.

There are a lot of good reasons for you to leave your current church. There are also a lot bad reasons for you to leave your current church. The fact is that if your church life isn’t  messy and complicated from time to time then you aren’t doing it right. However, another fact is that if your church life isn’t refreshing and wonderful then you aren’t doing it right. This is how relationships work and your relationship with your church is no different. Like any relationship there will be seasons of pure joy, seasons of pure frustration, and seasons where everything seems pretty balanced.

Unfortunately, it’s the seasons of pure frustration that tend to drive people away from their churches, just like, unfortunately, people are often driven away from their spouses. But part of being in community together includes a commitment to one another through thick and thin, especially through the most frustrating times. To give up and leave your church when it gets difficult or messy is the easy thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.

It can be difficult to discern whether or not God is actually asking you to leave your church. Maybe you have wrestled with this before or are currently wrestling with it now. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you leave your church that I hope will help you sort through the situation and be able to discern what God is really asking of you.

 

 

1. Will I be able to walk with God closer and know Him better if I leave?

This should be one of, if not the primary question in your mind as you are thinking about leaving your church. Nothing in this life matters more than your relationship with God. Nothing. Not even your relationship with your church. If you can say with confidence that you will be able to grow deeper in your relationship with God at another place, then it is possible God is asking you to leave. However, this should not be a license to leave just because you are struggling to grow at the current time. Most of the time the inability to grow spiritually lies within us, not within our church. If you are a true Christian but aren’t growing closer to God, then it is most likely your fault. If anything, the lack of growth in your life should drive you deeper into the Christian community that you already have in your home church, rather than away from it to seek it somewhere else. Before you abandon your church, think deeply about the answer to this question.
 

2. Would Jesus be pleased with my reasons for leaving?

“Well, I don’t get along with someone there Jesus, so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Matthew 5:23-26.

“Well, I’ve been hurt by someone there so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Matthew 6:15.

“Well, it’s just too heavy of a load to deal with all the struggles there, so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Galatians 6:2.

“Well, I’m just really not getting what I need from that church, so I’m going to leave.” Jesus responds with Philippians 2:3-4.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. Most of the reasons that we hear from people leaving their church are not reasons that Jesus that would be happy about. When you enter into relationship with someone, or with a church, you have to take the good and the bad. No person is perfect and no church is perfect. If you are thinking about leaving your church because it isn’t perfect, search the Scriptures to see how Jesus would respond to finding out your reasons for leaving.
 

3. Have I done everything in my power to make things better?

Whether you are frustrated with the pastor, a specific person, a specific group of people, or something specific about the church as a whole – it would be childish and immature for you to leave if you have not done everything in your power to make it better. It does no good to whine about a problem or give up and leave if you have not offered a solution. More often than not, God puts frustration in our lives so that we can become sanctified and help sanctify those around us. Don’t allow your frustration to drive you to abandonment, let your frustration drive you to become more like Christ and help those you are frustrated with become more like Christ in the process.
 

4. Have I talked to church leadership about my frustrations?

Your pastors and other church leaders are probably frustrated by many of the same things you are. In fact, they are probably looking for people who feel the same way to help lead the charge to improve the situation. Even if your frustration is with the church leadership, you need to have the courage to express your frustrations to them and engage in a dialogue. By doing so, even if you decide to leave in the end, the church will be better off. Please don’t just leave your church without talking to your church leaders or at least explaining why.
 

5. Am I leaving to leave, or leaving because God has called me elsewhere?

God rarely, if ever, calls people away from something unless he is calling them to something else specific. When God called Abram away from his home and the only life he had ever known, He wasn’t just calling him away from Haran, He was calling him to Canaan (Genesis 12). When God called Paul away from his plans to preach in Asia, He also called him to preach in Macedonia (Acts 16). Don’t leave your church just to get out. If God is calling you to leave, He is most likely calling you specifically to another community of believers. Make sure you aren’t leaving just so be somewhere else.
 

6. Will I be moving to another church, or to the couch?

Whatever your reasons for wanting to leave your church, one thing is certain – you are not better off on the couch at home. If you are going to leave your church, make sure you are getting involved in another gospel centered, Bible-believing congregation. Too many people leave their church and never join another one. Similar to question 5, make sure that you have a plan to get involved in another church before you leave your current church.

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Please don’t leave your church without asking yourself these questions, or questions like these. There is too much church shuffling going on in our churches these days and it is not healthy for the people or for the churches.
 
Noah Adams – Noah is an associate pastor in Elgin, Il. and is excited about communicating and applying Biblical truth through the tools of social media and the world wide web. Noah works with Purpose Launch Ministries to help accomplish this task. 

 



A Note From God to Parents of Struggling Children

 

We know there are no perfect parents and there are no perfect children.  All parents go through stages of concern for their children. When they are young and when they are old, loving Christian parents have a great love and concern for children who may be straying in their walk with God. Of course

We do not claim to speak for God. However, by application, we can weave the truths of Scripture into what a letter from God might look like if written to the parents of a son or daughter who is struggling in their relationship with God.

We encourage you to read this and then study for yourself the scriptures mentioned and let God speak to and encourage your heart. Perhaps you can take some of these Bible truths and promises and infuse them into your prayer life for your children. May you be bless and encouraged. God loves your children!

Dear Mom or Dad,

​Don’t be afraid, I am with your dear child. I know when they sit down and when they get up, when they go out and when they come in. I formed them and made them. I understand them even though you may not. (Psalms 139) In my time and in my ways, I will strengthen them. I will help them. I will uphold them with my righteous right hand. (Isa. 41:10 and Isaiah 55:8-9) I am working every detail of their life out for good and for my glory (Romans 8:28 and Ephesians 1:11) because I loved them before you did.

I love them with an everlasting love. While they were yet in sin, I sent my son, Jesus, to die for them. (Jeremiah 31:3 and Romans 5:8) I have laid a burden on your heart to suffer for them, pray for them, and love them. That burden you feel, it is from me.
 
It is my Spirit leading you to love and care for their soul. I have begun a good work in them, I have lead you to love, care and pray for them and therefore it is right for you to expect that I will finish the work I started in them. (Philippians 1)
When my Spirit is leading you in prayer, He prays in deep ways that even you can’t understand, but touch the depths of my heart for your child. You may not know how to pray for your child according to my will, but He does. (Romans 8:26-27) Remember that my Spirit is at work in them even though you may not always see evidence of it. He is working to convince them of their sin, of my righteousness and that judgement is real. At the same time my Spirit is working to remind them of the free gift of salvation and a changed life through my son Jesus Christ.  (John 16:8)
 
I am the Good Shepherd. I will look after them. When they go astray, I will pursue them and bring them back. (Psalms 23 and John 10) You and I are coworkers together in this process. (1 Corinthians 3:9) but I am the source of their spiritual life, so let me do my work. Stay sensitive to my leading. Don’t get ahead of me, don’t lose your cool, be patient, firm, loving and continue to point them toward the truth in the Bible.  Don’t get weary in the work. Your effort is not in vain. I am using you in his life even if you can’t see it right now. (Galatians 6:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:58)
 
Thank you for loving your child. I love them too even more than you do. Trust me even if it gets worse before it gets better.  Once things got bad with my son, Jesus. He didn’t do anything wrong of course, but things did get worse before they got better. They did get better though and now everyone knows the plan was perfect.  It will be perfect in your situation too. My way is always perfect. It is always good and it is always loving. (Psalms 18:30)
 
Don’t forget that I love you and i love your dear child.
 
Your Heavenly Father
 
 
 
Thank you for reading this article.  Please browse our site for more helpful information. 

If we can help you with your family, pray for you or give godly Biblical counsel, please contact us or join us for a service soon.  

 



10 Ways to Enjoy God When Life is Busy

 

 
Many of us have good intentions when it comes to spending time with God. However there is often a long list of other things that can push this priority to the bottom of the pile. Family, work, school, sports, and other commitments can fill our days leaving little margin for the spiritual activities that really feed our souls. By not making time for God, we often leave ourselves empty, vulnerable to temptation, and without direction.

D.L. Moody, the nineteenth century founder of Moody Church and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, recognized his need for God and once said, “the only way to keep a broken vessel full is to keep the faucet running.” So how do we “keep the faucet running” in the middle of a hectic schedule?

Here are some practical suggestions:

 

Use travel time. The AAA Foundation recently conducted an extensive survey to better understand the characteristics of today’s American drivers. In this study they reported that the average driver spends over 290 hours driving every year. That is the equivalent of seven 40-hour work weeks! All of this time spent on the road can be an excellent opportunity for us to pray — with your eyes OPEN, of course! Storing prayer cards in the sun visor or console can provide some quick prompts to help you get started.

 

Multitask. If you can cook dinner while watching a Netflix show or helping one of your children review for a spelling test, then you can multitask. This means you should also be able to listen to worship music while getting ready in the morning or to pray while doing other projects which don’t require your full mental attention. You can look for natural connections to help you remember — like asking God to clean your heart while you are cleaning the kitchen or praying for a child to grow in God’s grace while you are doing an errand related to that child.

 

Rise and Shine. Although multitasking is great, ideally it is a good idea to prioritize some focused time with God each day. One way to accomplish this is by waking up a little earlier each morning to read the Bible and pray. The house is usually quiet then, and having the automatic brew cycle set the night before will allow you to wake up to the smell and the warmth of coffee. For most people, the key to getting up earlier is simple — going to bed earlier. It starts there — the night before. Nothing else compares to prioritizing and enjoying these regular blocks of focused time with Him!

 

Get some exercise. Look for ways to strengthen your heart while strengthening your body by filling your mind with truth while exercising. One way to do this is by listening to Christian podcasts or audiobooks while exercising. This is also a quiet time to talk with God in prayer.

 

Memorize and Meditate. Even in the busiest times, it is possible to use wait times to work on memorizing Scripture. A Scripture memory card can easily be stuffed in one’s pocket or bag so that it is available during down times throughout the day. This might be while waiting for a client, sitting in a doctor’s office, or passing time in the after school pick-up line. Memorization is more than simply recalling words; it is a great way to meditate on God’s Word! There are some great apps out there to help with Scripture memory.

 

In the Moment Prayers. God doesn’t care where you are or how noisy it is when you call out to Him. You can ask Him for wisdom and patience while in your favorite overstuffed chair in the early moments of the morning, while waiting in traffic, or while pushing a two-seater truck-cart down aisle 12 at Target. He is always present – always desiring to help and guide you.

 

Prioritize Church. Getting to church can be a challenge if it is not already built in to your schedule, but being with other believers and hearing the teaching of God’s Word is an important part of every believer’s life. Paul refers to the church as a “body” in which we all play an important role (1 Corinthians 12:27). By making this time a priority, you contribute your part to the body and to bringing glory to God.

 

Spend Quality Time with Other Believers. The Bible includes many admonitions directed at the things believers are to be doing for “one another.” These include encouraging, praying for, building up, serving, and more. We cannot be doing these well unless we are spending quality time investing in friendships with other Christians. This does not mean that Christians only spend time in deep, serious talk. Instead they share life and laughter together often making it easier and more natural to talk about the things that deeply matter.

 

Serve. Philippians 2 explains that Jesus Himself came to this world as a servant, and in the same way, every believer is instructed to use the gifts God has given to serve others (1 Peter 4:10). Serving can be little things like helping people throughout your day or it can be done in a more planned way by regularly serving in a certain ministry through your church. By humbly giving of yourself to bless others, you offer a gift of worship to the Lord (Ephesians 6:7).

 

Ending the Day. As the day comes to a close, it is good to take a few moments to reflect back over your day. This is a great time to confess any sin which God brings to your mind and thank Him for the many blessings He brought throughout the day. When areas of concern come to mind, give them to the Lord asking for His wisdom and strength.

 

If you are not already in a regular habit of spending time with God, choose one or two these suggestions and get started this week. You were made with a desire to relate to God built deep into your DNA, and by making time for this important priority, you will find great fulfillment in the love He desires to pour into your life.

 

We hope that in your busy schedule, you’ll take a “day of rest” as God did. A great thing to do is make that day Sunday and make worship part of that time. We hope you’ll take some time to join us for a service. We would love to have you.

 



Hate Waiting? 4 Truths About Waiting on God.

Waiting on God 

All of us hate to wait.  Waiting in traffic, at the doctor’s office, or for that pokey family member can cause even the most patient among us to become frustrated.  Frustration occurs when something out of our control gets in the way of our plans and goals.  And let’s face it, waiting causes frustration because we’ve done all we can do and are out of control in the given situation. We can only wait on God to work and answer prayer.  However, if you have been a Christian for very long at all, you have realized that waiting on God is a major part of our lives.  Why do we have to wait, and how do we wait without getting frustrated?

Why do we have to wait?

1. God tells us to.  Often parents tell young children to wait; and, like it or not, they must obey.

Look at the many commands and verses that imply that God, our loving Father, tells us to wait. 

Psalm 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Psalm 62:5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.

Psalm 123:2  Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

Proverbs 20:22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

Isaiah 8:17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.

Isaiah 40:31  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Hosea 12:6  Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.

Psalm 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

Psalm 37:7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.

Psalm 40:1  I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

Psalm 130:6  My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: 

Isaiah 25:9  And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Lamentations 3:25  The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

2. God’s ways and plans are wiser and better than our ways and plans. We wait for His time, which is the best time, whether we realize and understand that or not. Consider these verses from the Bible. 

Isaiah 55:9  For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.   

God has all power, wisdom and an eternal plan that he is executing flawlessly.

Job 9:12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?

Psalm 29:10 The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

Psalm 47:2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.

Psalm 83:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.

Psalm 93:1 The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.

Psalm 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

Daniel 2:20  Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:

Daniel 4:35  And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

How do we wait? When you are in a position of waiting on God, perhaps this acrostic, using the word “wait” will help you know and remember how to wait. 

Watch without anxiety. We are told to watch and pray often in the Bible.  The words associated with the Greek word “watch” in these passages means to keep alert and yet remain calm and collected.  It seems to have the idea of expectancy as well.  Continue to pray and watch for the answer.  Do not be anxious and nervous when it does not seem to happen according to your reasoning and timing.

Act on what you know to do.   We must continue to function according to what God has called us to do. We must go about the normal responsibilities given to our care by the Lord.  If the burden is great enough, the temptation for some is to “shut down” and do nothing but pray and fast.  God may lead you in this direction, but be careful here, especially if you are of an anxious and fearful temperament.  In most cases, the best solution is a combination of praying and fasting, and yet still working at what you know God has already given you to do.  Be cautious of prayer that is nothing more than “sanctified worry.”  This is when we find ourselves not really praying to God, but rehearsing our problem over and over again in our own minds in the guise of prayer.  Often it is best simply to pray a short prayer, leaving the care with the Lord and then continuing with our business of the day, trusting God to do the work we cannot.

Instruct yourself in the things of God.  Spend time seeking God while you are waiting. This is when God will reveal new things about Himself to you from His Word, preaching, good Christian books, godly friends, and even through the moving of the Holy Spirit in your heart.  This is not a time to complain, but to “Be still and know that I am God.”  Keep a journal, especially through very trying times, and write down all that God teaches you.  This is a prime blessing of waiting.  You will grow closer to God!

Trust.

 God is all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving.  His whole plan is for His glory and the good of His children.  We know this from Romans 8.  Sometimes all will seem chaotic and confusing as we try to wait for God to answer our prayer and lift our burdens; however, it is during this time that we must trust God.  Someone once said, “When you cannot trace God’s hand, you must trust God’s heart, power and wisdom.”  Most of the time we cannot trace his workings, but with the help of the promises in His Word and the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we can learn to trust Him.
 
If you feel that we can be of help to you in any way, please get in touch with us. Join us for a service. You’ll be encouraged in your journey. We are a family here and we try to help bear burdens and help during the waiting.
 
 


Forgiveness – The Gift You May Still Need to Give

Gift of Forgiveness The bows and paper have been tossed by now. The clothes that didn’t fit have been returned. Perhaps you are satisfied with all the gifts you gave and received. We hope so.  We all love the satisfaction and joy of knowing that the recipient likes what we gave them. But maybe some of us forgot a very important gift. This gift would benefit the recipient in immeasurable ways, while also liberating the giver from increasing bondage, providing vivid testimony to the gospel, and showcasing Christ-like love to the unsaved world. What gift could do all this? It’s the gift of forgiveness.

In his book Unpacking Forgiveness, Chris Brauns helps us understand that forgiveness is not only right (in that it glorifies God by obeying His will), but it is also best. God, as the standard of holiness and goodness, will only require of His people those things which are best for them. Our joy is completely full only when we live in submission to God’s design for our lives. And part of God’s good design for us is forgiveness to those who’ve sinned against us. Forgiveness is not a bitter pill to swallow; it is the doorway to maximum joy and peace.
 
Our ability to forgive others is a result of God’s forgiveness of us, and our desire to forgive others is based entirely on His forgiveness of us (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). Brauns highlights three ways in which our forgiveness must mirror God’s forgiveness of all those who’ve been redeemed:
 
1. Forgiveness is gracious (Eph. 2:8,9; 2:4; I John 4:10).God’s forgiveness toward us is a gift motivated by His love for us (Eph. 2:4). But though this gift is graciously offered to all, this gift wasn’t free: God paid for it with the blood of His Son’s death (I John 4:10). In the same way, our forgiveness of others must be freely offered even though it is costly. There is nothing that we have done or ever could do to receive God’s forgiveness; He graciously offers it because He is gracious. Our offer of forgiveness toward others must not be dependent upon their efforts, their remorse, or anything else we want them to do, feel, or say. And it will be costly. We will need to die to ourselves, our desire for revenge, and our pride.

2. Forgiveness is conditional.God’s forgiveness is graciously offered to all, but it’s only given to those who repent and believe (Acts 20:21). God’s forgiveness is dependent; it is conditional. Like any present, God’s gift of forgiveness in Christ must be accepted, or “opened.” As we graciously offer forgiveness to those who have legitimately wronged us, we pray and plead that they will accept it by humble repentance, just as God pleads with all to accept His forgiveness by repentance. Forgiveness is conditional in that both parties involved must be committed to the new life together. Forgiveness is not possible where humility is not present.

3. Forgiveness is a commitment. When God’s gracious offer of forgiveness (that is motivated by His love and costs the death of His Son) is accepted through repentance and faith, God justifies that person. He commits that He will no longer hold that person’s sin against them. There is a legal transaction that frees that person from the condemnation and punishment that was deserved. When we forgive another individual, we make a similar commitment. We enter into an agreement that, though wrong was done, we will no longer hold that sin against that person. Our forgiveness has freed them from the debt that they had accrued.

And this commitment is not temporary or insignificant. True forgiveness means that we are committing to never bring up the offense again – not to that person, not to another person, not to God, and not to ourselves. This is the commitment that God makes to us in Christ. He commits to remove our sin “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). What tremendous hope is found in this truth! “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Psalm 130:3,4)

Of course, forgiveness does not mean that all consequences of wrongdoing are immediately eliminated. Because sin affects others, consequences of sin must sometimes be carried out. And it is in this very process where forgiveness can be most sweetly displayed: Those who are truly repentant and have been forgiven are most ready to accept the consequences of their sin.

Forgiveness frees us from the captivity of revenge
. This world tells us that revenge is our right, and that we ought to get even with those who’ve wronged us. But this is in direct contrast to God’s Word. See, in God’s economy, those who forgive others are carrying out the very essence of the gospel. Those who have been forgiven are to be the ones who forgive, and they are to forgive in the very same way they’ve been forgiven. As a result, joy and peace will flood into our lives.

So, what is forgiveness? As author Chris Brauns has said, it is “a commitment by the offended to pardon graciously the repentant from moral liability and to be reconciled to that person, although not all consequences are necessarily eliminated.” If you forgot to give this important gift, consider giving that gift to some family members, coworkers, neighbors, and friends right away this year. You just might be the greatest benefactor of the gift you give another.
 
If we can be of help to you as you struggle with your hurt, please do not hesitate to get in touch.