Jon opened his message this week with a tweet from Pastor Jim Ruddy that read, “What you are going through is not nearly as important as how you are going through it.” Aside from the revelation that Pastor Jon has a twitter account, he wanted to communicate that we have the choice in how we handle situations and what attitude we have towards the things that happen in our lives. We can’t always control when bad things are going to happen but we can control whether we turn that over to God and live in the joy that he offers rather than the suffering of the moment.
Jon had Jen and Bill D’Alessandro come up and share about a recent struggle they had. Jen while waiting in her car at work was assaulted by an armed robber. He opened the door, rustled through her purse, and hit her in the face with a gun. She complied and the guy left. She called the police, and Bill came and picked her up to take her home. As she was processing through all that had happened, she came to the realization that despite everything, she was going to be ok. She would heal and she had a great family, a great job, and things were going to be ok for her. Things were probably not as great for her attacker. She thought of what kind of the situation that man might have been in to bring him to that point. Instead of holding a grudge she turned it over to God and prayed for the man. Everyone around her was shocked at the way she approached these events and God was glorified in the midst of a difficult situation. Not that what the man did was ok or good, but God used her choice to be joyful to bring glory to His name.
Jon then shared the story of David and his son Absalom. When Absalom openly opposed his father and David left Jerusalem he didn’t want his son to die. He even told his army that if they came across Absalom to treat him gently because of David. Despite the evil that Absalom did to bring himself glory and power. David’s identity was in God and that allowed him to be gracious to Absalom despite all the evil he had done to David. Jon concluded his message with some pointers for how to choose God and be joyful daily. First, he said to pick out a verse of the bible that illustrates God’s goodness in all things. Then, take that verse and start to memorize it and recite it daily. Keep it on a card or a post-it note that you can pull out whenever you need it. Second, he recommended getting a journal and creating a chronology of God’s faithfulness in your own life, both the good things and the bad things and writing down how God used each one. Similar to how David wrote down Psalms to chronicle the struggles and joys he had during his own life.
Roy started his talk off by showing us a picture where an individual can see an old woman or young woman. The lines are the same they don’t change; to see the difference you have to change how you “see”. Our worldview often is so ingrained in our thinking that we can’t see it until someone with a different way of thinking comes into our lives. Jesus saw the world very differently than we do today. Roy identified four aspects of our western worldview that often come into conflict with the world Jesus Christ saw and taught us to see. It is important to note that Roy was not encouraging us to drop these ideas completely but to see how these concepts, especially at their extremes, aren’t always congruent with Christianity.
1. Free thought. We believe free will and thought are God given gifts. It can get out of balance when we think that there are no authorities of information other than our own opinions. Often this leads to people rejecting concepts such as revelation.
2. Self-confidence. We as Westerners are more independent, or at least believe and strive for independence. The conflict comes into play when we think that if we could just control everything in our world it would be a better place. While there are some merits to thinking this way Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, or “helper”, implying that we can’t do everything, nor should we, ourselves.
3. Materialism. It is a common belief that only the material world exists. The biblical worldview along with other cultures see reality different in that the spiritual world is just as real, sometimes more real, then the physical world.
4. Rationalism. The western world is consumed by that which is provable and measurable. All that exists or that can be experienced doesn’t fit neatly into those categories. If miracles are real how could we ever prove that rationally? We can see the result or effects, but how can we explain how it works? Some things transcend our ability to understand.
See Roy’s Notes below for more detail on his message.
While it is difficult to acknowledge, let alone talk about, our deepest vulnerabilities and areas of brokenness, the church is to be a safe community through which people can experience the love, hope and healing of Jesus. When the church chooses to not talk about our vulnerabilities and areas of brokenness, people remain stuck and their sin grows. That is why we are so grateful to Andrew and Kaylee for bravely sharing their story with the church.
Andrew shared about his nearly two-decade long struggle with pornography and sexual addiction, which started soon after his mom had died when he was a kid. About a year ago, Andrew joined a group that God was using to help set him free. For the first 9 months he was in this group, Andrew was sober from pornography. However, despite the success he was experiencing, he shared that his relationship with Christ was not growing. 9 months later, Andrew relapsed he and Kaylee hit their lowest point. Andrew was completely broken and hopeless. Kaylee was angry with God and had grown to hate Andrew. They decided to separate for a week and were not sure if their marriage would survive. That’s when God met them.
For the first time in Andrew’s life, he cried out to God for help and God clearly spoke to him. God led him to James 1:5–6 and asked him, “Where is your faith in me?” During their week apart, Kaylee also gave up her desires for what she wanted the outcome of their story together to be and started seeking God. God started healing her fears and anxieties and gave her the peace for which she longed. It was at their lowest point that God met them and started to bring love, hope and healing to them individually and to their marriage.
Pastor Jon spoke on how God does not call the people who have it all together, but instead calls the broken and the weak to follow him and serve others.It is your struggle that qualifies you to serve.Our goal is to not chase perfection on our own but is instead to surrender our weakness to God and to others. That sort of surrendering requires humility. Pastor Jon shared 9 marks of humility. Humble people are 1) thankful, 2) teachable, 3) able to affirm others, 4) able to celebrate the success of others, 5) will do any task no matter how small or menial, 6) do not need to be right, 7) are people who pray, 8) who seek the advice of others, 9) and who are honest about their weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
Watch the Video below before listening to the audio file!
Chris Parker opened his message by referencing 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In a Harrah’s poll that was recently conducted, only 34% of Americans that were interviewed would consider themselves as “happy”. The study aimed to prove that gratitude is the secret to true happiness. Additionally, Chris explained that gratitude highlights seven key elements: it develops meaningful relationships, it improves physical health, it improves mental health, it enhances empathy, it results in better sleep, it increases self-esteem, and it increases mental strength. Chris illustrated and emphasized the fact that 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 specifically references giving thanks inall circumstances rather than giving thanks forall circumstances. This is important to distinguish as it acknowledges that everything in the world is not of God. To be grateful is to have an understanding that what you have is good enough. Chris concluded his message by referencing a quote: “If we wait for every beggar to have his horse, we shall never be grateful for a ride. If we wait for every person to be fed, we shall never be grateful for our daily bread. If we wait for every person in the world to have a roof, we shall never be grateful for the roof that covers us while we sleep. If we wait until no one ever dies, we shall never feel grateful for life.” Chris petitioned the congregation to get out of the mindset of comparing ourselves to others and replace that with a gratitude-based mindset.