Living It Out – June 19

from Pastor Andrew

Christian faith boils down to relationship. Our relationship with God, as His special creation, was broken by sin. Relationship is restored through faith in Jesus Christ, secured by the Spirit, and will be enjoyed in its fullness forever in heaven. Relationship informs everything about our spiritual journey. It even informs the concept of the Fear of the Lord.  

The fear of the Lord is one of those spiritual concepts that is hard to fully grasp and even harder to live out. Maybe these three ideas will help.

  1. The fear of the Lord should cause us to recall the work and character of the Lord. God has done great and mighty things. But his work is not in a vacuum. He is not an isolated supreme being that cannot be connected with. His work and character clearly point to His desire for relationship with His people. The fear of the Lord should draw us closer to Him. 

  2. When you read and think about the fear of the Lord, substitute a phrase such as “awe before God,”
    “reverence for God,” “submission to God,” or “obedience to God. 
    This will help you focus on the attitudes and actions of the fear of the Lord. The concept of the fear of the Lord may leave us undone but it should never leave us unaffected.
  3. Your response to the fear of the Lord reveals our
    relationship with Him.
    When you have a good relationship with those in authority, their work and character, even when authoritative or startling, brings a sense of awe and comfort. But when the relationship is not good, there comes a sense of guilt, fear and trepidation. 

Psalm 76 is a song for war and it will stir in us either a sense of awe that we are on the winning side or fear that the mighty one is coming in wrath. This week consider if you are more often in awe or fear before the Lord.



Living It Out – June 12

from Pastor Andrew

Bruce J. Schulman in his 2001 work The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics contends that personal liberation and rebellion against authority became key themes of the 1970s, as Americans sought individualism through new outlooks on religion, popular culture, and sexuality. These themes had profound and lasting impact on the direction of America that we still see today.

I would contend we can see these themes way before the 1970s and the impact has affected the whole human race. We could use Schulman’s conclusions as a good definition of sin and how humans tend to relate to God. Psalm 73 encourages one action in light of the impact of sin in the world; draw near to God.

The encouragement to draw near to God is all throughout scripture. Here are four truths from Hebrews 10 and an example that may help as you draw near to God.

  1. Remember God sees you as perfect already. In Christ, you who are being sanctified by the Spirit, are now, already, before God perfected.
  2. Sin will keep you from God. Whether sin from your past or present; confess it, repent of it, kill it, and believe that God “remembers our sins and lawless deeds no more”.
  3. Be intentional and reverent. You’re drawing near to God, don’t come flippantly or carelessly.
  4. We have a new way, not the old one. Our nearness to God is not based on ritual and sacrifice, but on relationship with Jesus Christ.

The example: John Owen was a great Puritan writer and preacher. In a letter he said to a friend, “Christ is our best friend, and ere long will be our only friend. I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with Him.” Owen was also intentional about his communion with God. He said, “Friendship is most maintained and kept up by visits; and these, the more free and less occasioned by urgent business . . .” In other words, in the midst of all his day-to-day activities and responsibilities, he made many visits to God. These visits were not simply to make requests but primarily to build relationship. Finally, Owen concluded there were two things that kept him near to God. “I must now say, that, after all my searching and reading, prayer and assiduous meditation have been my only resort, and by far the most useful means of light and assistance. By these have my thoughts been freed from many an entanglement.”

The two essential practices for nearness to God; prayer and careful, persistent meditation. 

Spend time today investing in your relationship with God. It is good to be near God.



Living It Out – June 5

Psalm 71:18 says… So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.

It should be our continual prayer and desire to have the opportunity and ability to proclaim the might, power and goodness of God to the coming generations. To join God’s mission of kingdom multiplication, we have envisioned and begun a 3 year process to catch and ride God’s wave. God has and continues to multiply disciples, leaders, groups and gatherings and we desire to join Him in his mission.

To ride God’s wave we have to get in shape. Year 1 of Catch the Wave is about getting healthy. We want healthier relationships with God and with one another. We want healthy church systems of discipleship, assimilation, membership and groups. We want healthy and fruitful ministries. Health will result in deeper relationships, clear steps to connection, and greater fruitfulness with less burn out. As we get healthy, we can step into the water and begin developing wave riding skills.

Year 2 of Catch the Wave is about momentum.In this phase we will begin seeing more and more engagement and fruit in the areas of disciple making, leadership development, groups working together and generous hearts giving to help people KNOW, LOVE and BECOME like Jesus Christ. This will result in changed lives and greater joy throughout our fellowship. As we grow in our skills we begin riding bigger and bigger waves and seeing God do bigger and bigger things.

Year 3 of Catch the Wave is about gatherings. It is still a wonderful mystery what God will ultimately do through our little fellowship; but if we are healthy, ready and faithfully gaining momentum, I believe God is going to use our fellowship to do bigger things than we can imagine. We can be used to proclaim God’s might, power and goodness to another generation and beyond. Let’s Catch the Wave!



Living It Out – May 29

 

from Andrew Bee

Bridges link roads together. Bridges connect places that would not normally be connected. Bridges make new destinations possible. But you don’t want to stop on a bridge. If you stop on a bridge things clog up fast.

This week was a bridge Sunday. Some things come to a close and other things are about to begin, so we pray.  But please don’t stop on the bridge. Keep going so we can all reach the destination. 

  • Sunday, June 4th, we’ll begin our 9:30am summer service schedule. Don’t stop on the bridge, make the change and keep coming. We’ll have some fun and continue to grow together as a fellowship throughout the summer.
  • Cruise Night is in full swing, and there is a place for you to serve. Don’t stop on the bridge, be intentional and sign up for a Friday or two this summer. It is going to be a great Cruise season.
  • Your small group has been great, and they CAN continue through the summer. Don’t stop on the bridge, keep meeting. Keep making time together a priority. Keep stirring one another up to love and good works. Keep going.
  • Your neighbors will be out in the yard more, because it’s getting nice. Be wise in the way you act toward them; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you have an answer for everyone. Don’t stop on the bridge, keep engaging them with love and the good news of Jesus Christ.

God is leading us over a bridge to some pretty amazing places. Don’t stop on the bridge, keep going. Keep praying! Keep gathering! Keep multiplying!

 


Living It Out – May 8

from Pastor Andrew

Getting dressed is something I do every day. Be thankful! My guess is, you get dressed every day too. It is what we do and it is a good thing. Paul uses the idea of being clothed, or getting dressed quite often. The simple act of getting dressed can be a tangible and daily reminder of resurrection realities.

In Colossians 3,  Paul instructs us to “put on”, get dressed in, or clothe yourselves in compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, and above all, in love.  Before I get dressed, I think through my day. What meetings do I have, who will I be around, what situations will I be in. This motivates and informs what I put on. The same is true for these spiritual clothes. Paul begins with three terms that should motivate and inform our “getting dressed”

Paul says, we are God’s chosen ones. This is a favorite term for the people of God through the Old and New Testament. It should remind us that we have been included in God’s historical work of salvation and gathered together as part of His people for His purposes.

God has chosen you.There are two qualifying words. We are not simply chosen, we are Holy and Dearly Loved. The result of God’s choice of us is that we are HOLY, we are special and set apart. It is a done deal and a growing reality. God’s great love is the basis for all of this, His choosing and willing work to make us holy, all flows out of His love for us. 

Here’s my challenge. This week, every morning. Take a moment to reflect on the resurrection reality that you have been chosen and made holy all because God loves you with a great love. Then, with your heart and mind set on these heavenly realities, through prayer, put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, and above all love. Make note if you notice a difference in your home, on the job, and in your own heart.



Living It Out – May 1

from Pastor Andrew

May 1st is the third anniversary of my best friend’s suicide. It is a day I will remember for the rest of my life, many people will. That would not be the case if his life had not impacted so many others for good. My friend was a great teacher, pastor, and he inspired people both young and old. I was privileged to know him and to watch his life as a distant observer, a colleague, a father of young people he inspired, and as his friend. I miss him and I know he is missed.

Three years removed, people still ask “why”. It is a fair question. There are explanations for the despair and desperation which blinded and overwhelmed him to the point of taking his life. But at this point I find people are not asking for reason and rational, they are asking about purpose. They’re asking what good and Godly purpose comes from this horrible thing, if any.  

Personally, through my own lengthy grieving process, I have come to the conclusion that through my friend’s life and tragic death he is teaching his most important lesson ever. A lesson that in life he niether learned or taught well. My friend is teaching me, and anyone who will listen, that we must put sin to death.  English theologian John Owen said it this way “Do you mortify (put sin to death)? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you. My friend stopped killing sin one day. One day became two. Days became weeks, and weeks became months and then years. In the end, sin killed him.

The idea of putting our sin to death is one we don’t talk about enough. We tend to couch it in terms of “sanctification”, which of course it is part of, but that is too pleasant a word. We talk about sin in general terms and acknowledge we need to work on things in our lives, which we do, but that is far too passive an approach. We do not see putting sin to death as our daily duty, but it is. It is a command to those who believe. To those who have been raised with Christ. We must name sin, see the danger and threat of it, and in the power of Christ through His Spirit we continually resist sin, fight and contend against it, and have victory over it again and again.  Sin has been condemned and conquered through the Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is the reality. We must execute that sentence. The promise is that if we execute sin, we will live. This is not because putting sin to death is conditional to our salvation, but it is connected and coherent with our salvation. Overcoming sin in an ongoing, ever growing way, is the fruit of a true believer and brings life out of death.

This week as I remember my friend, as I pray for his family and for those he impacted who still struggle to understand, I pray that we would be inspired by this lesson–kill or be killed.



Living It Out – Apr 24

 

from Andrew Bee

After celebrations we tend to clean up and get back to “normal” life. After the big day we do the dishes, pack up the decor, send out thank yous and move on. Last week we celebrated the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now we are at risk of just getting back to “normal” life. After the resurrection, Jesus called his followers to live as though the new creation had broken into this world. Jesus sent his Spirit, his resurrection power and presence, so his followers could live like they’d been raised to new life with him.

30 years later, Paul encouraged the Colossians with the same call; live like Christ is risen, because He is.  Paul encourages them with the truth that Christ is first place in all creation, He has the right of the firstborn to inherit all things, and He was first to be raised. But not the last. We have been raised with him by faith. 

With that reminder, that we have been raised with Christ who is seated at the right hand of God, we are to live in light of the things that are above. The resurrection calls us to set our minds on on things above not on the things of earth. It is easier said than done, but with Christ and by his Spirit, all things are possible. 

This week be Intentional about focusing your minds on the truth of God found in his word. Use the MCF bible reading plan or find another reading plan online. Pray and ask God to open your mind to understand the scriptures, and in your interactions with other believers, be intentional to talk about the truth of God together. 



Living It Out – Apr 17

 

from Pastor Andrew

Lee Strobel, in his book and more recently in the movie, A Case for Christ says; “The entire Christian faith hinges on the resurrection.” The apostle Paul says something similar in 1 Corinthians 15:14. “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

There are many scholarly arguments supporting the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Any theory about the resurrection must be able to adequately account for these three truths that even critical scholars admit.

 

  1. Women discovered the tomb following the crucifixion.
  2. Jesus’ disciples had real experiences with whom they believed was the risen Christ.
  3. As a result of their testimony of the resurrection the Christian church was established and grew.

One of my favorite modern comparisons supporting the second truth, is one Chuck Colson’s makes to the Watergate cover up of the early ‘70s. As Nixon’s “hatchet man” and the first one to go to prison for his crime, Colson’s comments bear special weight. He said; “I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

If you haven’t settled the question of Jesus’ resurrection (or even if you have), I challenge you to investigate it on your own. Here are links to a few resources to read or, simply go to the movies. Link 1, Link 2, Link 3.



Living It Out – Apr 10

 

from Pastor Andrew

But God. These two small words have enormous power and overflow with Gospel truth. 

This past Tuesday our staff team looked at Ephesians 2:4-10. Verses 4-5 say “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”
 
The passage continues declaring some incredible acts of God, which he does in spite of us but for our joy and His glory because of His mercy and love. Romans 5:8  is another well known “but God” passage that says something very similar. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
 
The fullness of God’s love and mercy came to dwell among us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus demonstrated love and mercy in all that he said and did, most powerfully and vividly by dying on the cross in our place. He clearly told his disciples,others, and us through his word, that his suffering and death was the plan all along and that it was the most loving thing God could do for us. By faith in Jesus Christ we can receive that love and it changes everything.

On one of the most celebrative days of Jesus earthly ministry, Jesus weeps. He weeps because the people he loves are missing the point. They have not understood and many never will. He is our example of God’s love, His heart breaks for the lost and the blind. As our champion He saves us and uses us to proclaim His love to others. Don’t miss that.

 


Living It Out – Apr 3

from Pastor Andrew

Faith in Jesus Christ should become faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Put another way, your faith in Jesus Christ should impact your life in radical ways. That is what we mean here at Meadows, when we talk about helping people BECOME LIKE Jesus Christ. We have three phrases you can use to gauge your BECOMING progress. One caution; the gauges will be as accurate as you are honest.

Are you dying to self?

Dying to self is what Jesus puts forth as the prerequisite of following Him (Matt. 14; Mark 8; Luke 14). Paul teaches that we are to see ourselves as crucified with Christ. That our old life is dead and we have been given a new life to put on and walk in (Rom 6; Gal 5). Dying to self means that we once pursued things that brought us pleasure, satisfaction and significance but now we pursue what pleases God. Is there growing evidence of that in you?

Are you obeying the word?

This is the logical next question. If you have died to self then are you obeying the word? Simply are you reading the word, seeking to understand it as best you can, and then putting it into practice? Obedience is not in our knowing, or our believing. Obedience is in our doing.

Finally are you living in victory?

Living out the word of God brings about changes in our lives. This is far easier talked about than done but the word changes us from the inside out. As we live out the word we will see victory, the evidence of the overcoming power of God in us, which bares kingdom fruit through us.

One final note. The Christian life is about progress not perfection. One day we will be made perfect, for now we focus on progress. So, what do you see in your life?