A Time For Prayer

Untitled design.jpg

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:1-10

Tallahassee, FL, Hot Yoga Studio. Three lives lost.

Sandy Hook Elementary School where over 27 children and teachers died.

Tree of Life Synagogue, 11 people dead. 

Parkland High School, 17 students and staff members 

Las Vegas, 58 innocent lives taken

Pulse Night Club, 49 dead.

Burlington, Washington, 5 dead. Sutherland Springs, Texas where 26 members of a Baptist church were killed one tragic Sunday morning. Santa Fe, Texas, Roseburg, Oregon, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. There are many others too. Hundreds in fact.

Over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, we are once again left to mourn the loss of innocent lives. Over thirty people are dead, with many more wounded, and just like the events of the past, there are no answers for our questions. Heartbroken I read the stories of a mother who lost her life sheltering her two-year-old from harm. Arturo Benavides, 60, was grocery shopping on Saturday at the Walmart with his wife. He was paying at the register when the shooting happened. Mr. Benavides was an Army veteran and a bus driver for Sun Metro, El Paso. 

In Ohio, the victims were Monica Brickhouse, Nicholas Cumer, Derrick Fudge, Lois Oglesby, Logan Turner, Beatrice Warren-Curtis, Thomas McNichols and Saeed Saleh.


These were mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers. All fellow image bearers.

At some point this week, you may find yourself with the opportunity to engage in heated debates over the cause of these tragic attacks. It will be tempting to defend a political party or a closely held right. Most certainly emotions will run high, blame will be assigned, lines will be drawn, and mourning will turn to anger. 

As those who carry the name Christian, we must pause in these moments. We should not shrink back, but provide wisdom amid the shouting. Certainly, there will be a time for action, but today I’m reminded of what the Apostle Peter urged those who he called “sojourners and exiles”.


But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:9-12

As the body of Christ awaiting our King to return, we are sojourners and exiles living in a home that is not our home, and as such, we are called to be at all times sober-minded and full of grace. (1:13) Paul even warns Timothy not to engage in senseless debates and arguments because it could potentially damage the hearer. (2 Timothy 2). Our motivations should be different. Each conversation with a family member, co-worker, or some random person on the internet is a chance to share wisdom and grace. This is how you act when you are living in a foreign land. Your language is not their language so your approach should mirror the Kingdom of God, not the culture of this world. 


As Christ’s example to the world, we should take time to pray. We should also search the depths of our heart and repent if we have been complicit in the continuance of racism or the dehumanizing of any people group. We should pray for the victims and their families, pray for our cities, our neighborhoods, and our churches. We should pray for wisdom on when to speak, and grace for what to say. Let us mourn for those who cannot mourn, become peacemakers in a time of strife, and hunger and thirst for righteousness in a wicked world. 


Don’t use this time to add confusion and personal opinions to a lost world, use this time to pray.

-Lyell Walker


The Dangers of Spiritual Drift

DRIFT.jpg

In the message on Sunday, I spent some time teaching from Hebrews 2 and pointed to the writer’s warning about spiritual drift. I felt it was a serious enough warning to mention it again in this blog. My hope is that you understand that there is no standing still in our Christian life. You are either growing in your love and obedience to Jesus or drifting away in hardness and rebellion. 

The warning is found in Hebrews 2:1-4. 

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” 

For thousands of years, God has been telling His story. He used angels, prophets, signs, wonders, miracles, the Holy Spirit, and even His Son, Jesus. The story is simple, our sin broke the relationship between God and man, and that sin must be punished. However, God loved the world so much that He sent His son to take the punishment for us. If we turn from our sin and put our faith in Jesus, our punishment is paid, and we are saved. This is great salvation! This is amazing news! By faith, our punishment is paid by Jesus, and we are made citizens of a brand new kingdom! We have a new family where God is our Father, and other believers are our brothers and sisters! 

This news is meant to put every other thing on earth in its proper place. If our sin is forgiven, then our shame is washed away. If our punishment is paid, then we have no reason to fear God’s wrath that is coming to judge sin. If Jesus really came to earth in human form and rose from the dead, then we can look to one day in the future where He will return and rule on this earth as the greatest, most gracious king, that ever lived. 

This news is a big deal, but the Hebrews in the early church started to drift from it. And, we are close to drifting from it as well. 

We drift by letting our eyes get fixed on things that don’t matter or profane things that cry for our attention. We get distracted and eventually stop looking at Jesus. We let our hearts get stirred with things like comments on social media posts or the adrenaline rush of having people tell you how great you are. Eventually, our hearts aren’t stirred by Jesus. We chase a spiritual high in worship music from large churches or great messages from celebrity pastors. This makes us unsatisfied with the local church that is full of people who want to share their life with us. We get consumed with what someone did to us or didn’t do for us, and we forget to be a servant. We lose what it means to be a Christian in the real world, and our neighbors are robbed of seeing the gospel.

The message of Jesus is great news because it means you are free. But, it is also great news because of what it does on the inside of you. The message of Jesus is more than just a message of salvation; it is a message of ongoing transformation. My prayer for you is that this message rings in your ears all week. Revisit this message. Pay much closer attention to this message. Go back to what you have heard so that you can combat the dangers of spiritual drift.

-Marshall Ochs


You Say

Lauren Daigle

The Other Side of The Jordan

JORDAN.jpg

Israel was made up of twelve tribes, each tribe a descendant of one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Israel is just one giant extended family. But in Joshua 20, we see three tribes of Israel choose to live apart from the rest of their family. The tribes of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh decided to stay on the other side of the Jordan River because it was more comfortable to live there than to live with the rest of their family. After years of living apart from their family, those three tribes forfeited being a part of their families memories and heritage. 

Fast forward a few thousand years, and we see the same thing happening in our church family today. We often choose comfort over being a part of a church family just like the Gadites, Reubenites, and the tribe of Manasseh. For some of us, we may be choosing the comfort of not letting people close enough to hold us accountable for our actions. If we never let people in, they can’t ever fully see the areas of our hearts that need growth. For others, you may feel uncomfortable sacrificing time that you think should be spent doing whatever you want. Maybe you attend a Sunday morning service, but you don’t want to sacrifice any time during the week to be a part of a community. And for a lot of you, being a part of the church family is uncomfortable because the church has hurt you time and time again. It’s a place full of sinful people, and they will, unfortunately, let you down because of it. But they are still your family as a part of the Kingdom of God!

Family can be messy and broken. The ones we love are the ones we know how to hurt the most. But family can also be such a beautiful picture of forgiveness and love without conditions. Your family knows you better than anyone else and chooses to love you anyway. What a beautiful example of being a part of God’s family. The church knows how to hurt you. It knows how to cut you deeper than anyone else can. But the church also knows how to love you, and it loves more fiercely than anyone else can through the Holy Spirit.

Growth can’t happen without being uncomfortable first. It forces you to examine your heart and doesn’t allow you to stay the same. Take the risk of being a part of God’s family. It may sting a little, but the reward FAR outweighs that risk.

-Kelsey Turner


Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

Hillsong UNITED

Worship: A Resource

WORSHIPRESOURCE.jpg

Have you been struggling to find music to use in your worship time at home? We want to help! Music is such a powerful tool to remind ourselves of who God is, and for generations, people have used music as a way of teaching and remembering what has been taught. We see David encourage us to worship in song over and over in the Psalms.

"Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!" Psalms 47

One of the albums that we have had on repeat is There Is More by Hillsong Worship. You may recognize some of these songs from our very own worship services, such as Who You Say I Am and So Will I (100 Billion X). The album is full of songs that will fill your heart with the truth of the gospel and remind your soul of who our King is.

You can find the album on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube or wherever you listen to music. Check it out!


TOUCH OF HEAVEN

HILLSONG WORSHIP

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

FOOT.jpg

In Joshua 6, God commanded Israel to conquer the city of Jericho. It was the first major city in the new land, and a giant wall surrounded it. The wall was built in three tiers. The first tier was cut into bedrock and ran vertically into the second tier which was made of stone. The first two walls were about 12-15 ft tall. The third tier was made of mud bricks and stood 20-25 feet tall. From the base to the top, it stood almost 40 ft. I’m sure every Hebrew had their opinion about how to conquer the city, but God gave strict instructions to Joshua.

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. On the seventh day, you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.” Joshua 6:1-7

God told Israel to walk around the walls, and He would give them the victory. To summarize the story, Israel obeyed God’s instructions and marched around Jericho once for six days, and seven times on the seventh day. They cried with a great voice, and the walls fell to the ground. Israel received the victory by obeying God, and all they did was walk. I find it interesting that walking is all they did for the past 40 years, and walking is what brought the victory. It’s funny how we can walk in disobedience for 40 years or walk in obedience for 7 days.

The book of Joshua is a perfect Christian study in sanctification. God used Joshua’s leadership to teach Israel about obedience and conquering the enemy. Jesus is doing the same thing in our life by asking us to obey Him and put sin to death.  Jericho is a symbol for the strongholds in our life that are full of sin. They are areas of our heart, ruled by a foreign king, and Jesus is our better Joshua leading us to victory. 

Your city may not be named Jericho. It might be called Racism, Hatred, Anger, Bitterness, Gossip, or Fear. Whatever the city is called, Jesus wants it to crumble. He has a battle plan, and it is very similar to what Joshua told the Israelites. Do the thing you have always done, walk. Walk through your daily life, but do it in obedience to Christ. 

Don’t walk through life cursing your surroundings or complaining about where you live. Don’t walk through life being angry with everyone you meet. Don’t walk through life with bitterness 40 ft high. Jesus has set you free from slavery. Jesus has saved you from darkness and is calling you into marvelous light. 

Walk through life obeying the commands Jesus gave us. Walk through life loving your neighbor and being thankful in all circumstances. Walk through life with the peace that rivals anything on earth. Walk through life cherishing Jesus as the most valuable thing in your life. 

Some of the cities in your heart have walls taller than Jericho. At times it can feel overwhelming, and there seems to be no hope in sight. But, if you follow Jesus in obedience on a daily basis, the walls will come down. The walls always fall when you put one foot in front of the other and take obedience one step at a time. 


-Marshall Ochs


Song In My Soul

Phil Wickham