Jesus Has the Final Word On Everything

1356537_26838575This Sunday we are looking at one of my favorite passages. It’s a passage that reminds us of why we can have hope no matter what we are facing. It’s a passage that grounds our lives in Jesus Christ.

So today for my post I don’t want to give you a lot of thoughts. I’d like to let Scripture speak to you. So the following is Ephesians 1:19-22. Here’s what I’d ask you do.

Slow down.

Read it quietly or aloud.

Read it a few times.

And let God speak to you through it.

We believe that Scripture can reveal God’s word and direction for us. So why not do that with this piece of Scripture.

“I ask God to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, endless energy, boundless strength! All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything.

The beauty is that Scripture is true. Jesus does have the final word on everything, which means anything you are facing is not the end of your story. God has more for you, and he has the final word on everything.

Journeying Together is Healing

1254520_81286112On Sunday we looked at the story of Ruth, and the power of committing to someone’s journey. The book of Ruth begins with Naomi her mother-in-law in a deeply dark place. She moves to a foreign country, and her husband and her two sons die. This leaves her alone in a foreign land, without support, without care, and with two foreign daughters-in-law.

She is hurt, spiteful towards God, and bitterness oozes out from her. She decides to journey back home. She is so bitter that when she arrives home and people say, “Is that Naomi” (which means pleasant in Hebrew)? She responds with, “No, call me Mara now” (which means bitter). So she has gone from being pleasant to bitter. She now totally identifies with loss, bitterness, and hurt as her companions. She says God sent her away full and brought her back empty.

This is the hard place that she is in. Yet in the midst of this difficult, and this Plan B, things change for her. Things change for Naomi because of her daughter-in-law Ruth.

Ruth commits to being with Naomi no matter what. Naomi seeks to push Ruth away, to say she can’t be helped, to say there is nothing that can be done (Ruth 1:11-13). But Ruth refuses to give up on Naomi. She commits to her that she will be with her no matter what. She says “Where you go, I’ll go, where you live I’ll live, your God will be my God. We will be together”.

And it is this commitment to journeying together that begins to change not only Naomi but also Ruth. Through a series of amazing events, God begins to restore to Naomi some of what she has lost. God begins to heal her. And this only happens though because Ruth committed to journeying with Naomi for the long haul.

The story ends with Naomi being happy and full of joy as she cuddles with Ruth’s new baby, her grandson. Her life moves from Plan B back to God’s promises.

From this story we landed on the main idea that we need each other. Not in the clichéd, hallmark, or sentimental way. But in a real – deep life – can’t get through life without one another. I need you, you need me, we need each other.

So we ended with a challenge. That for some of us we need to go be a “Ruth” to someone else. We need to commit to journey with them, to care for them, and to love them like Ruth did. And while we can’t be a Ruth to everyone in need, that is not an excuse not to be there for someone in need. That was our challenge.

We also challenged those of us who are in Naomi’s place to reach out to a “Ruth”. To not refuse the help that a “Ruth” can bring. To not push away that relationship.

Because the truth is the only way we get through life is with one another. This is the beautiful thing about the church ~ Naomi’s and Ruth’s commit to journeying together and both find a new hope in the process.



Teaching Notes

Big Idea: We need each other; we need to journey together.

Teaching Points:

  • Here’s the truth and this one is thoroughly biblical: throughout life you will face one situation after another that will be completely beyond what you can handle. Pete Wilson
  • We need one another to get through Plan B times.
  • Naomi means “Pleasant” in Hebrew; Mara means “Bitter”.
  • No longer are these emotions that afflict us, they are emotions that define us.
  • Ruth commits to journeying with Naomi.
  • People who are in a deep place of hurt often push away the only people who can help
  • When you are in Plan B, you need community more than ever. Yet because of the pain that comes along with Plan B, it’s easy to miss the God-given gift of community.  Pete Wilson
  • We need one another.
  • “I will go where you go. I will live where you live.”  Ruth
  • Just because you can’t help everyone does not give you an excuse to not help someone
  • We can’t benefit from the power of community until we dare to face who we are.  Pete Wilson

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

Have you ever been like Naomi, so consumed by hurt, that it defines you? How did it happen? How did you move out of it? Have you ever had someone “be a Ruth to you”? What was that like? How did they commit to journeying with you? Why do you think it’s hard to be a “Ruth” to someone? Why do you think it’s hard to allow others to be a “Ruth” to us? Who is God calling you to jouney with? Is God asking you to allow someone to journey with you?

Discussion Question for Families:

Talk to your kids about the importance of caring for one another. Talk to them about how Ruth helped Naomi by being there for her. Ask your kids if there is anyone they know that needs someone to be there for them. Ask them about ideas for helping them, and then use their ideas.

Challenge for the Week: Be a Ruth to Someone; Invite a Ruth to Journey with You

Cliched or Not it’s True : We All Need Each Other

1103018_28726094This week at church we are going to look at a clichéd statement that is absolutely true. We are going to look at this statement, “We need each other”.

Unfortunately this is something that is said all over the place. It’s said in companies, in advertising, in banks, in schools, in communities, and it’s applied to almost every situation. I’m not bemoaning that fact but sometimes when something becomes ubiquitous it also becomes meaningless.

Well come Sunday we want to restore some of the depth to that statement, “We need each other”. Because the truth is that statement is incredibly Biblical. There are over 50 references to “one another” statements in the Bible. Statements that direct us to the fact that we need each other, that we need one another, that we cannot get through life alone.

And this is so true, and obvious, but it is something we often fail to actually live out. So often when we are in difficulty and we do need others, it’s the time we shut others out. So often we get so busy that our commitment to “each other” is to pray for them when we happen to think of it; rather than deeply committing to another person and to journey with them.

So that’s what we are looking at on Sunday, the story of Ruth, and the power of journeying with someone.

But before we get there why not spend some time reflecting. Who has journeyed in your life that changed you? Who committed to you and changed you because of that commitment? Why not thank them, and then ask God this radical question that we will explore on Sunday: who should you be committing to?

An Impossible Step of Faith

200390_9299On Sunday we looked at the story of Joshua in Joshua 1 and 2, because the story of Joshua is really a story of “Plan B”. The Israelites have been in a holding pattern for years, wandering in the desert, wondering when their breakthrough would happen, wondering when Plan B would end and they would move into the promised land.

This is where we find the Israelites in the first few chapters of Joshua, anticipating the future but not sure how to get there.

And God comes and speaks to Joshua and tells him something clear, but also something difficult. He says take the Ark and go and stand in the Jordan River. That’s it. That’s all he says. That’s all he gives.

The difficulty is that the Jordan River is what stands between the Israelites and the Promised Land. The difficulty is that the Jordan River is not a lazy peaceful river. In verse 15 we read the Jordan River was raging, at flood stage, was not peaceful at all. The Jordan River starts way up high, and runs very quickly towards the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.

And so what is happening is all the water, all the rain, all the moisture is now rushing downwards creating a raging, flood-high, dangerous river for Joshua to cross.

And God says go step in the river and wait. That’s it. That’s all Joshua has to go on.

But Joshua takes an impossible step. He steps into the raging waters. He steps into the flood and he waits, and God acts and does a miracle and makes dry land.

But here is the thing: God doesn’t act until Joshua has taken the step. God doesn’t do the miracle first, God’s miracle comes after the trusting step of faith.

So on Sunday we looked at how if we want to get out of the “Plan B” situations we are in, it often takes a step of faith. It often means us taking an impossible step. It means us trusting in God, and then stepping out to see how God might come through.

The main point was this: To move out of Plan B, requires a step of faith.

We closed by asking ourselves: what is our Jordan River, and what is our step of faith? What is the obstacle we face that is stopping us from moving forward into the Promised Land? What is the obstacle that is stopping us from receiving God’s promises? And what is the step God is asking us to take? For some it’s a phone call to a fractured relationship, for others applying for that job or starting that business, for others, to admit that you need help. The point is that before God acts, he asks us to trust. So what step in trust is he asking us to take?

The challenge then this week was simple: take the step of faith, and step into the flood. My prayer then was that this week we all might see dry land, and walk through to the Promised Land, as God proves his faithfulness to us.


 Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: To move out of Plan B, requires a step of faith.

Teaching Points:

  • Suffering, of course, can lead you in either of two directions: It can make you very bitter and close you down, or it can make you wise, compassionate, and utterly open. Richard Rohr
  • God’s promises don’t have an expiration date.
  • When life doesn’t turn out the way you thought it was going to turn out, you may think you’re losing control. But the truth is, you never had control in the first place. Pete Wilson
  • We don’t give up on God, and we don’t give in to fear.
  • You grow more through difficulty and hardship than through the easy times of life.
  • Plan B times are tough, but they are also times of growth.
  • First, that God asks us to take a step of faith, Second, that we don’t always know how things will turn out, Third, the step is often difficult
  • Moving out of Plan B requires an impossible step.
  • “Plan B situations force us to rely on a power outside of ourselves” – Pete Wilson
  • In Plan B times our faith will either grow or shrink.
  • What step is God asking you to take?

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

How have you seen Plan B times either shut down someone’s faith, or be a reason it grows? What about you personally? Has a Plan B time ever shrunk your faith, or opened it? How before has God ever asked you to take an impossible step? What happened when you stepped out in faith? What obstacles or river are you facing now? Do you have a sense of your next step? Who can help you support you as you take it?

Discussion Question for Families:

Talk to your kids about this week’s story, and how Joshua has to trust in God. Teach them that sometimes God asks us to take steps before we know what might happen.

Ask them if they have any obstacles in their life (Jordan Rivers) and what step God might be asking them to take. Pray about their obstacles, and help them take their next steps.

Challenge for the Week: Take the step into the flood.

What’s Your River, Obstacle, or Challenge?

1445165_51775350This Sunday we are looking at how to do you get out of “Plan B” times. You know the times where life seems to fall apart, where Plan A is long gone, where you’re not sure how to move forward.

We are going to be discovering how to find the next step to take to start to move back in the right direction.

The difficulty is that the step we are all asked to take is often into a raging flood. It’s a difficult step, into a fearful situation. But we are going to be looking at Joshua and how God moves in his life to lead him forward.

But before we get there, feel free to read Joshua 1-2 ahead of time,and I have a question for you. What obstacle are you facing in your life? What is the difficulty you are facing right now?

For Joshua he was facing a river that blocked his way to the promised land. What is it for you? A job, a relationship, a health challenge, an uncertain future, what? Are there any obstacles before you? Spend some time reflecting on where God is calling you, and what seems to be stopping you.

And then come on Sunday we are going to see how not only can we overcome obstacles, but how God can do miracles. How he can give us the next step to take, and bring us to our promised land. And that is something worth finding out.

Fearful Futures, to Trust in God’s Control

829311_28468256On Sunday we looked at how in reality we control so little of our lives. Most of the time we move through life like we have great control over the outcomes of our life: friendship, career, marriage, parenting, future, health, etc. The truth though is that often we don’t have control, and when we get reminded of that fact we move from Plan A to Plan B.

Plan B times in our lives is when we realize we aren’t sufficiently in control to make our desired future come to pass. It’s when we realize the plan and promises of God that we were moving forward towards seem further away than ever before.

This is when fear comes in. Fear fills the void of our lack of control. When we don’t have control fear starts to take a grip on our lives.

And on Sunday we looked at how fear must have gripped David. David wanted to be king of Israel. David was promised to be king of Israel, but David is in a “Plan B” time of his life. It doesn’t look like he will be king. Saul, the current king, is trying to kill him and David is just trying to survive.

So after being on the run for months, David and his men are hiding in the back of a cave as Saul and his men hunt from him. They are full of adrenaline, scared, and anticipating what might happen. When all of a sudden the most unusual thing happens. Saul the current king comes into the cave alone, and doesn’t realize that his enemies are right there hiding in the shadows.

David’s men quickly tell him, “This is the moment. This is your time. Here is an opportunity from God. This must be how you become King.”

And David faces a decision. He can kill the king, something he knows isn’t right, or do nothing and stay in this “Plan B” place. He can kill the king, walk out of the cave and become king of the entire nation and only one person would die. That’s it. It’s simple, straightforward, and immediate. He could kill Saul, walk out with his men, and take charge and lead. He could regain the control in his life he’s lost. He could stop having to hide in caves just to survive. And he needs to make this decision now.

Or of course…he could trust in God.

See the decision for David to kill or not kill Saul is really a decision about trust. Will he trust in God, or trust in his fear that this is the only time and way he will become king. Will he trust in God’s plans for his life, or trust in fear that says take control of your life and make this happen. David is placed in a place of tension choosing where to place his trust: in fear or in God.

And David chose to trust in God. That God will get him to become king, but not through regicide hiding in a cave. God will be faithful to him, even though David has no idea how God will accomplish his promises.

Fear tempts us into trying to take back control. God asks us to trust that he is in control.

So on Sunday we ended with the main point that when we are in the “Plan B’s” of life we can either trust in fear, or trust in God. And fear will always drive us further from God. Fear casts out God of our lives, and leads us into difficulty every time.

So we ended by asking two simple questions: Is there any area of our lives that are being driven by fear? And do we trust God?

First, if fear is driving something in our lives, we need to recognize it and challenge it. And we challenge fear, not be debating or entering into a discussion with it. We challenge and root out fear by trusting in God. 1 John 5:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. Love is the antidote to fear. So we overcome fear, by trusting in God, and his love. We choose like David to not believe in fear, but believe in God.

So we ended the service with one clear and simple challenge. That whenever fear grips our hearts this week, to turn to God and focus on his love and his promises that we do not need to fear, but can trust in him. So may you this week experience all of God’s love, and see fear loosen its grip on any part of your live. Because we get out of our Plan B’s of life not by following fear, but by following God.


Sermon Notes

Big Idea: We need to choose to trust in fear or to trust in God

Take Aways…

  • The fact is this: we are not in control as much as we think we are
  • the natural and normal response to a loss of control is fear.
  • “When life doesn’t turn out the way you thought it was going to turn out, you may think you’re losing control. But the truth is, you never had control in the first place” Pete Wilson
  • A decision made out of fear will never be a good one.
  • Two options: To fear and grasp for control, or to trust and let go of control.
  • A bad option when things are good seems like a good option when things are bad
  • Whenever fear asks you to make a decision it is the wrong one
  • But that’s one way we can identify the devil’s voice: it always plays to our fears. Jonathon Martin
  • Fear casts out God in our lives. Jonathon Martin
  • Is there any area of your life – being driven by fear?
  • Do you trust in God?
  • Trust in God and his love, and get rid of fear

Adult / Group Discussion Questions

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

When have you been in a “plan b” in your life? How has fear gripped you in “plan b” times? What areas of your life are filled with fear right now? Can you relate to the temptation David faced to force things on his own? When have you ever had to make a choice like David’s? How can centering on God’s perfect love for you, help to cast out fear of your life? How can you trust in God deeper this week?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families

Talk to your kids about fear, and how it can grip us. Talk to them about what makes them feel better when they are scared (parents, friends, God, etc). Share with them how when we get scared focusing on God and his perfect love for us can help us to get rid of fear. That God is always there for them. Share from your own life how God’s love has helped in a time of fear.

Challenge for this Week

Trust in God and his love, and get rid of fear

Is fear driving your future?

Spooky old photoOn Sunday we are looking at the topic of fear. And here is the truth: fear grows when we feel we are not in control. The less control we have in our lives, the more fear takes hold.

And this can happen all over the place. We lose our job, and fear is in charge. A friendship breaks down, and fear directs our decisions. Our Plan A’s turn into Plan B’s and fear has a heyday.

The point is this when we lose control, fear grows.

The problem is that we aren’t ever really in control. I mean I know this is not a fun thing to say – but we actually control so little in our lives. We live with the semblance of control. We plan, prepare, and proceed if we are in control. But things shift, the economy changes, a phone call from our doctor, a friendship fails…and we find out we aren’t in as much control as we thought. That’s when fear fills that void.

But that’s not the only way it needs to be. The options aren’t pretend control, and fear. There is a third option. One of trust that we are going to look at on Sunday.

But before we get there I think there is a good question for us to ask today:

Is there any area of your life that fear is driving?

Because fear is subtle, it is hidden often just below the surface, but it so often drives our decisions, thoughts, and lives. So spend some time asking that question and reflecting on it. Because here is the truth: a decision made based in fear, is rarely the right one. So on Sunday we are going to look at how fear drives us, but also how we can live free of fear. Because there is a beautiful promise in 1 John 5:18, “perfect love casts out fear”. So we are going to work this all together, where hopefully we can leave with less fear, more trust, and most importantly, more hope.

What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up Like You Thought He Would?

planb-postcard-frontOn Sunday we started our new series called Plan B. And we began by saying something that is honest, but difficult: Plan B’s suck.

They just do. They are hard, they are difficult, and they not only can test faith – they can break our faith. Because true “plan b’s” of our life are where we cry out to God – “why” and “where are you?”. The hardest situations to really move through are when you’re following God’s will and your life falls apart. It’s easy to understand why things fall apart, when we make bad choices. But the really tough “plan b’s” are when we follow God, and things still fall apart. It’s at those points that we do cry out “why God?” and “where are you God?”

So we began by recognizing that Plan B’s are hard. That they are difficult. That they not only test faith, but they can also break faith.

We then began to look at the life of David, who had many plan b’s in his life. He gets anointed to be King of Isreal, and then nothing happens for a long-time. And when things finally start to get moving it all falls apart so quickly. He becomes a hero killing goliath, gets noticed by the King, becomes a favorite of the people, starts to marry the King’s daughter – and it all looks like God’s promise that he will be king will come true.

But it all falls apart. And it falls apart badly, as Saul (the present king) tries to kill him.

David moves from being sure of how God is moving his life forward, to doubting and unsure what is going on. The promise that seemed just around the corner, now seems so far away. So David does what any of us would do – he runs. He runs for his life. I also think he runs too because he is not sure what to do or where to go.

And this is the trouble in Plan B’s; we have the temptation to run but so often we run in the wrong direction. Rather than running towards God, we run away from him. Rather than running towards community and church, we run away from those connections. But this isn’t what David does. David in 1 Samuel 19 runs to Samuel. He runs to the prophet the one who anointed him. David runs but doesn’t give up on God even in the dark.

And this was our main point on Sunday. That in the Plan B’s of life we can’t give up on God. We can’t give up on God, when things fall apart. And just because we aren’t in control, doesn’t mean that God has lost control. If we ever want to find our way towards God’s promises it means not giving up on him, even as everything falls apart. I’m not saying that’s easy. I’m not saying it’s simple. I’m simply saying I think that’s the only way we get through the hellish places we sometimes find ourselves. We need God.

So we ended with this challenge: that if you’re in a plan b place, don’t run from God but lean into others. Share with others where you are at, be like David and run to trusted people, run to God and don’t give in to fear and darkness. Next week we’ll look more at that. But I think the first thing we need to do when Plan B’s jump out unexpected is to resist the temptation to run and to lean into God, others, community, and care. And that’s what we learned on Sunday.

 Sermon Notes

Big Idea: When Plan B’s happen, we can’t give up on God.

Take Aways…

  • What do we do when our plan A’s fail?
  • “Everyone has shattered dreams” Pete Wilson
  • Sometimes the plan b’s in our lives bring about God’s best later on.
  • God’s will in the moment doesn’t always come to pass
  • God’s promises don’t have expiration dates.
  • When Plan B’s happen, we can’t give up on God.
  • “Your dream may not be happening, and things aren’t turning the way you expected, but that doesn’t mean your life is spinning out of control. It just means you aren’t in control” Pete Wilson
  • Don’t run from God

Adult / Group Discussion Questions

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

When have you been in a “plan b” in your life? What made it hard? What made it easier to get through? How did God get you through it? Can you relate to the temptation to run when things get tough? How so? Are you in a plan b place right now? If so, who can help you and support you during it? If not, who can you support that is in a plan b place.

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families

Talk to your kids how sometimes hard things happen. Talk to them about the importance of turning towards God. Share with them from your own life, how that’s happened and what you did. Use your life to teach them, and to get closer to them.

Challenge for this Week: Don’t run from God but lean into others / Support others who are in a Plan B place.

Plan B

On Sunday we are starting a brand new series called “Plan B”.

pete_wilson-plan_b-coverFor the summer we are going to be using some of the themes and thoughts from Pete Wilson’s book Plan B to structure our sermons. This way if you miss a sermon, you can catch it online, and read about the same theme while you are sitting at your cottage, deck, beach, or wherever you may be. It will help us to move in the same direction even as we have holidays, and getaways.

So the whole point of the series is this: what do you do when God doesn’t show up like you thought he would? What do you do when things fall apart? What do you do when plan A fails and you’re in plan b, c, d, e,…..or q. How do you get through the difficult times? How do you find God’s voice and direction during plan b’s? What do you do when things go bad?

So that’s where we are going for the summer, and we’re starting in on Sunday by looking at the life of David in 1 Samuel 16-19. So if you get a chance why not read it over and see how David’s life is a lot like ours: with ups, downs, doubts, and God’s faithfulness.

And lets discover over the summer how to make it through the Plan B’s of life because the truth is this: if you’re not in one now, one will probably come around. So we might as well prepare for the Plan B’s.