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I Timothy: Dialed In To Character - Monday

Posted on Mon, Aug 31, 2015

I crossed a great divide recently. Last week I turned 55. Oh wow. I said that out loud. I meant to lie. Well, as the kids say, “Own it.” 
 
The day after my birthday I was in the checkout line at a store, when the cashier smiled brightly and said, “It’s Tuesday! You get the senior discount!” I practically snarled at that poor girl! Whaaat? Senior? Yep. It’s real. 
 
So I’m choosing to embrace it. After all, a discount is a discount. On a grander scale, I’m also choosing to use my next 55 years to live and lead out of what God has been teaching me. 
 
Let’s start with the truth: I am not a great leader. Really. I’ve even read a bunch of the books on the subject. Still not a great leader. 
 
But I am a pretty good follower. Few things excite me more than being shoulder-to-shoulder with other believers, accomplishing something amazing, something beyond our ability to accomplish individually, something God-sized. 
 
I wonder if God doesn’t want you and me to practice followership more than leadership. Paul admonishes Timothy to be sure he has his leadership skills in order in 1 Timothy 4:6-8 as he declares, “...you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed. Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.
 
Is it possible that the first rule of leading is following well? See, in this life, we always have things to learn and re-learn. Even once you start getting discounts. 
  • In what ways do you follow well? 
  • What would your ability to lead look like if you were wholeheartedly following the only One worth following?
  • Read 1 Timothy this week. Yes, the whole book. 

Rebecca Hatton
Care Support Leader

II Thessalonians: Journey to Clarity - Friday

Posted on Fri, Aug 28, 2015

2 Thessalonians 1:11b (NLT) May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 
 
Faith isn’t always a journey of warm-fuzzies. In fact, I got angry with God recently. I’d been asking Him to heal my daughter and He didn’t appear to be paying attention. I was frustrated, tired, sad. And I let Him know about it. I demanded answers to unanswerable questions. I wore myself out railing at the heavens. I didn’t realize I’d become short-sighted about my faith in this corner of my heart. I wanted God to give me results, not to comfort me when I couldn’t see the answers. What I thought was trust in God had become the expectation that God should give me everything I wanted. I needed a heart change.
 
Sometimes our faith clearly invites us to take a step - an issue becomes so clearly exposed by your growing relationship with Jesus that you need to - and want to - make a change with God’s help. Pornography. Sex outside marriage. Shady business practices. But, the more God gets ahold of us, the areas of sharpening can become more subtle. You’d think my daughter being hospitalized would be a place of extreme clarity when it came to growing my faith; but, instead, it was more ambiguous. For me, it came down to my need to let God have the driver’s seat - for my own good. Faith enabled me to release my daughter to His love for her.
 
Behind God’s invitation to believe Him, follow Him, trust Him… He is truly good. He cares about what happens to us. And He knows that deepening our faith is good for us. Because as our faith is refined, we’re prompted to live in ways that impact the world around us. And as Paul wrote in today’s text, we receive power we need to accomplish the good things He wants to do in and through our lives. 
  • What are you walking through today? How would faith that God is who He says He is and does what He says He’ll do change the way you’re navigating this season?

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

II Thessalonians: Journey to Clarity - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Aug 27, 2015

2 Thessalonians 2:15 (NLT) With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.
 
I had an unexpected conversation yesterday with a man who spends his entire day calling churches across the country. It’s his “ministry”... asking pastors to answer the question, “Can you tell me what you have to do to come to Jesus to be saved?” What a great exercise for a pastor, right? I had actually spoken with him once before, shared the Gospel in response, and parted with him on good terms. So I was completely stunned by the turn our conversation was about to take.
 
Something had changed drastically. Since our previous conversation, he’d become convinced that our own suffering was the one and only path to Jesus. Say what? Sure, we can go to Scriptures about the suffering which sometimes accompanies following Jesus. We can also find texts about persevering during these seasons. But his new theology was a huge departure from the Good News that we are made right with God by faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. Naturally, I began asking questions. But my gentle inquiries were met with a growing hostility, and the accusation that I was being controlled by Satan, who wouldn’t allow me to listen to him. Wowzer! 
 
This disturbing conversation served as a reminder of what can happen when we depart from the whole counsel of Scripture and begin focusing on one sliver of the big picture in isolation from the rest. Keeping a strong grip on the teaching passed along to us is critical. If we don’t stand on the solid ground of the truth of the Gospel, we will be led down all kinds of other paths. Stand firm. Keep a strong grip. And allow God’s Good News to forever remain amazing to you and to those with whom you share the love of Christ.
  • Want to brush up on the Good News? Spend some time reading and meditating on Romans 3:19-25.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

II Thessalonians: Journey to Clarity - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Aug 26, 2015

2 Thessalonians 3:1b (NLT) Pray that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes, just as when it came to you.
 
In my second year at the University of Kentucky I moved in with two teammates from the track team. Neil and Kevin were from New Albany, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois, respectively. Money was tight, and I lived for months on just-add-water pancakes, peanut butter sandwiches, and plain spaghetti. So when Kevin’s parents visited one weekend and took us all out to dinner, it was a big deal. Steak and potatoes wouldn’t happen otherwise.
 
During dinner I shared that I was born in Illinois. My entire family was from the western side of the state - hours away from Chicago. You know how you mention you’re from somewhere and, if there’s any connection someone has there, they ask if you know this person and so forth? Like there was ever going to be any kind of connection, I started comparing notes with Kevin’s mom. Only to be shocked to discover she had gone to school with my aunt - and they had been best friends. The connection wasn’t revealed until we started digging and discovered the thread. Kevin and I were practically friends-in-law… is that a thing? 
 
There is a similarly hidden thread when it comes to the Gospel. I know who shared the Gospel directly with me, but I often wonder who poured into whom for the Good News of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection to get all the way to me. Did it start with Paul? Peter? Thomas perhaps? Whatever the pathway, I’m thankful that God, in His limitless wisdom, could see and direct the thread so I would get to know Him, love Him, follow Him with my life, and share Christ with others! 
  • You and I are part of this continuing spread of the Gospel. Who are you sharing Jesus with today? Are you sharing in words, through actions, or both?
  • Who shared the Gospel with you? Take time to thank God for them. If you can, thank them for their faithfulness to share Jesus with you.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

II Thessalonians: Journey to Clarity - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Aug 25, 2015

2 Thessalonians 2:13b (NLT) We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. 
 
A few years ago I had a streak of experiences that dented my tendency to trust the car mechanic I was using. Whenever I took a car in for a minor repair, I walked away with a long list of recommended - often expensive - repairs. I grew tired of wondering if all these repairs were necessary, so I decided to learn more about cars and tackle the work myself whenever possible. Repair manuals were huge in the learning process - along with YouTube videos and just getting my hands dirty. I’m thankful now for the ability to make informed decisions about maintaining  our cars. Looking back I can see the shops who were trustworthy and those which were not. 
 
Knowing the truth brings clarity. And a priceless confidence comes with it, an assurance that all is well, a growing sense of trust. Our place in God’s family is based on the truth we believe about Jesus - that He is God’s Son, that He died on the Cross to take away our sin, that He was raised from the dead. Our confident assurance comes from hearing and believing the truth. 
 
The best way to discover this truth? Immersing ourselves in the manual - the Bible. God’s words are there for us... to taste for the first time, to feed on as we grow, and to feast upon for a lifetime. As God’s truth permeates our thoughts and actions, we find our salvation becomes more vibrant and settled, and our sense of security in Christ grows ever more secure.
  • At Southland, choosing to trust is a core value. We want to begin conversations assuming others have positive intentions. How might choosing to trust affect your relationship with God and others?
  • Trusting in God’s truth about Jesus is the pathway to being part of His family forever. Have questions? Email me! I’d love to help!

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

II Thessalonians: Journey to Clarity - Monday

Posted on Mon, Aug 24, 2015

2 Thessalonians 1:10 (NLT) When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.
 
If your life is being controlled by an addiction, you get help with quitting, right? But what if your compulsive addiction is quitting itself? I’m not talking about moving on from a job for growth or taking the next logical step in your career. I mean the kind of quitting that seeks to avoid accountability, challenge, or growth. The kind dominated by fear of failure - or success - due to control issues, fear, or anxiety. Quitting is tempting enough without having experienced the buzz of the addictive, temporary relief when the pressure comes off instantly. While quitting is an easy way out - it’s almost never the best way forward. 
 
Paul wrote to the people in Thessalonica to encourage them to stay the course in the face of persecution - to run from the temptation to quit. He encouraged them to keep going, to persevere. To do this, they would need to keep their focus on Jesus and on the Good News, not on the way things appeared to be going. Not on the counterfeits offered by the world or the devil. 
 
Paul’s encouragement to the Thessalonians is the same for us today. When you’re tempted to throw in the towel, to give up, to quit… instead, take another step, pray again tomorrow morning for that loved one’s salvation, keep loving and serving in your difficult workplace, stick with your spouse through the struggle. Faithfulness is just as habit-forming over time. Choose to live out what you believe. And you’ll discover God’s pathway is one marked with peace and joy in spite of circumstances. And your life of faithful following will resound as praise to the God who loves you and gave His life for you.
  • In what areas of your life do you need to persevere instead of quitting? Tell a friend about it and ask them to pray for you to have strength to keep going.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

I Thessalonians: Journey to Ministry - Friday

Posted on Fri, Aug 21, 2015

1 Thessalonians 5:11  So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 
 
It’s Friday. I am so thankful you’ve tuned in to our time together this week. I want to encourage you to keep pressing in to God’s heart to hear His voice and respond with your life. When you accept Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into your life to equip you for all God has in store. Your identity as a child of God is settled and there is nothing that can separate you from His love! With all of that being true, there is still more great news. We actually get to serve others on God’s behalf. We represent Jesus to the world around us. We join in God’s great work of redeeming the world which broke into this world when Jesus got up out of the grave!
 
Our journey to ministry is a journey to adventure, but it won’t be without challenge. That is exactly why Paul said what he did in 1 Thessalonians 5:11. We’ll need encouragement, both for ourselves and others. Well timed encouragement has made a huge difference in my life. 
 
For the time that my father was alive here on earth I was radically blessed. In my adult years my dad used to call me on his way to preach on Sundays and he’d leave a message telling me what he was praying for me and my family. He always included words of encouragement and affirmation. I’m a different person than I would be had he not done that.
  • Today, let’s find a way to encourage three people. Shoot out a quick email, send a text, share a message via FaceBook, write a good old fashioned note or simply make a phone call. Who can you encourage right now? Let’s do this!

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

I Thessalonians: Journey to Ministry - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Aug 20, 2015

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12  Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live….
 
This week we’re on a journey to ministry. If you wanted to learn how to invest money from one of the very best, you’d turn to a guy like Warren Buffet. Interested in next level interior design ideas, spend your time with HGTV. When it comes to next level ministry Paul is your man. He evangelized the world like no other missionary in history. His impact is still being felt, just shy of 2,000 years after he traveled sharing Jesus.
 
One interesting tip from Paul was actually to simplify. He challenged his friends to basically live a quiet life, mind their own business, and work diligently. It’s amazing that he saw value in hard work and simple living. He traveled, preached to masses, shared the gospel with famous politicians and still instructed his fellow believers to keep it simple.
  • A question to wrestle with today is, “Are you too busy to make an impact in people around you? Are you too scattered, too fragmented keeping up with all you are responsible for?” It might be that our busyness has us living outside of God’s will. How can you downshift and simplify and as a result be more effective in your ministry?

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

I Thessalonians: Journey to Ministry - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Aug 19, 2015

1 Thessalonians 3:12  And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.
 
I don’t do a good job of staying up with technology. It’s just not my jam. Recently I was talking with a friend at work and she said her Fitbit measured her sleep patterns. All along I thought those silly things just counted your steps. As my Podcast guru Tony Kornheiser would say, “If you want to take more steps, just walk more. Why do you need something to tell you that?” But tracking sleep patterns, now that is pretty cool.
 
So Paul expects that believers would actually grow in their capacity to love. He expects that when we’ve received love from the Lord we’ll increase in ability to give love away. As a matter of fact he sent Timothy to check up on his friends in Thessalonica. Timothy came back and reported good things. Timothy kinda acted like a spiritual Fitbit
  • The question today is, how are we doing? Have we increased in our capacity to love others? Are we seeing good results in our lives? Here’s a challenge: Ask three people closest to you if they see evidence of more or less love in your life over the past 6 months to one year.

    (Not that close to someone who will be honest with you? Join a Life Group here at Southland. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE)

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

I Thessalonians: Journey to Ministry - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Aug 18, 2015

1 Thessalonians 2:8  We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.
 
We recently had a chance to share our fridge with a neighbor. They had their own shelf in our fridge for cheese, yogurt, barbecue sauce, soy sauce and many other perishables. At least once a day they’d show up on our door to retrieve whatever they needed for their meals. It was a pain for them but fun for us. Normally we’d both be sitting in our homes, taking care of our own needs, but for this week we got to share.
 
Paul shared a lot more than a fridge with his Thessalonian friends. He shared his hope in Jesus. He didn’t do it from a distance, but up close and personal. Sometimes we picture sharing the gospel as standing on a stage or presenting a compelling case for a skeptic relative over Thanksgiving dinner. More often though, Jesus gives us a chance to extend ourselves and just be kind. Being helpful, generous with our time and supportive when others need it can be the glimpse someone needs to see Jesus.
  • Are you hiding from someone?  Is there someone Jesus is compelling you to invest more time into? Maybe you need to stretch yourself by jumping in to one of our life giving ministry opportunities? Click here to find out how you can give life.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

I Thessalonians: Journey to Ministry - Monday

Posted on Mon, Aug 17, 2015

1 Thessalonians 1:3  “As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
 
I’ve heard it said before that you judge a tree by its fruit. When personified that means you judge the results of a person’s life. What kind of person are they and what flows from their life? Taking that thought further you end up asking the question, what factors contributed to someone’s success or failure in life? 
 
For a guy like Paul, a total revolutionary who lived in an extreme way giving up everything in his former life to spread the message of Jesus, the results mattered. He called himself an Apostle to the Gentiles. He considered his mission to spread the message, telling people who weren’t born Jewish, that they had a place in God’s Kingdom. That’s a MASSIVE undertaking!
 
So when Paul invested his life in the people from Thessalonica he wanted that time, his ministry, to count for something. In verse 3 of the first chapter he highlights three things he is grateful to see true in the lives of those he poured into. Here’s the breakdown of the “results” evident in their lives:
 
- faithful work
- loving deeds
- enduring hope
  • What’s the product of others’ investment in you? What is the fruit of your life? Make a list of the fruit you see on display as a result of others’ spiritual investment in your life. This will help us prepare for our journey to ministry this week.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

Colossians: Journey to Truth - Friday

Posted on Fri, Aug 14, 2015

Colossians 3:12-17 (NLT) Clothe yourselves with...
 
Since God chose you to BE the holy people He dearly loves….”  That’s a pretty awesome line.  We could stop the devos right there and just go BE happy!
 
But, we learned earlier this week that the “since” we have in Christ is a “BEcause of.”  So, we have to finish.  This “since” comes with a responsibility.  
 
As Christ-followers, we DO have new life, we ARE chosen and loved by God, we ARE hidden in Christ and we WILL share in His victory party.  What’s our response?  BEcause of this, we get dressed up!  Not in clothing to impress, but in clothing to reflect.
 
Colossians 3:12-17 is what our lives look like when we live in our new identity.  We don’t put on clothes of this world, we put on clothes that reflect who we are IN Christ.  Paul doesn’t say, “God will dress you;” no, he tells us to dress ourselves.  We have the responsibility to live like Christ.  We get to BE in Christ, so we are to DO things as Christ would DO them.  
 
We get the BEnefits of the BE-ing, but we also have the responsibility of the DO-ing.  Go BE as you DO and DO as you BE.  You BE in Christ so DO as you BE….IN Christ.
 
That’s Paul’s point in this letter.  Jesus is who we center our life around.  We have all the BEnefits of His life.  So go live like it!  As you DO, the world around you will BE impacted and will see Jesus IN you.  So put on the clothes of One who is holy and dearly loved.  BEcause YOU ARE!
  • Read the list of what Paul tells us to put on since we are IN Christ.  Do you reflect this list?  What clothing is missing from your wardrobe?
     
  • Pray this prayer: “Father, I clothe myself as one who walks IN Christ.  I choose to reflect His life IN me as I take each breath.  Thank you for choosing me and loving me dearly.

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Colossians: Journey to Truth - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Aug 13, 2015

Colossians 3:4 (NLT) And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.
 
Isn’t it awesome when someone shares a generous gift with us?  No strings attached--just a straight up gift!
 
Every summer my family is blessed to be able to spend a week in Florida with my parents and my brother’s family.  My parents are the most generous people I’ve ever known and they love to provide that week of vacation for our families to share together.  It’s a week of just hanging out and relaxing as one big family and it’s the highlight of our year.  We start counting down the days to the next one on the last day of the current one!  
 
On our own, my family of four couldn’t afford to go where we go and stay where we stay for that week of vacation year after year.  But my folks love to bless us by sharing this generous gift with us.  No strings attached!
 
Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:4 that we’ve been given a generous gift from God and it comes with a share of the glory of Jesus.  Not only is our identity IN Christ, but we get to share in His glory as well.  All of the blessings of Jesus are ours because our life is IN Christ.  
 
Jesus will come back and when He is revealed to the whole world as the ultimate champion, everyone will see His glory and we will share in that victory party.  His generous gift is our ticket in.  No strings attached.  But now it’s your turn.  There’s someone out there who needs you to share Jesus with them so they don’t miss out.
  • Pray this prayer: “Father, thank you for the generous gift of new life that you have given me.  Thank you that I get to share in the victory party that You will throw when Jesus returns. Show me who I need to share Jesus with so they will share in this party too.

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Colossians: Journey to Truth - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Aug 12, 2015

Colossians 3:3 (NLT) For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
 
There’s a bakery in Lexington that has the most amazing dessert.  It’s called a “Mallow Bar.” It’s a 4x4 inch mound of goodness. 
On the outside it’s literally a small mountain of fudge icing.  UH-MAZING enough, right?  Hold on though; it gets better.  Underneath is a teacake that will blow your mind.  The cake and the fudge make it perfect you say?  UH-NO!  Hidden deep inside of all this goodness is the best buttercream you could ever dream of.  The whole thing is incredible, but that buttercream hidden inside...it’s the real deal.  It’ll make your eyes cross.
 
I like when there’s a surprise hidden inside of something that’s already good on the outside.  
 
Paul tells us in Colossians 3:3 that we died to this life and that our real life is hidden in Christ.  Catch that.  Our “real” life.  The way we were meant to live from the beginning is hidden in Christ.  Christ is IN us and we are IN Christ.  That means when God looks at us, He sees us hidden in all of the goodness of Jesus.  What’s that mean?  It means everything.  
 
Because we have a “since” (see yesterday’s devo) when God looks at you, He doesn’t see one flaw.  He sees Christ and His perfection.  You’re hidden in all of the goodness of Jesus and that truly is UH-MAZING!
 
Are you able to see yourself the way God sees you - a perfectly accepted child of the King?  That’s what you are, you know?  Your identity is hidden in Christ and nothing will change that.  You are the real deal so walk in freedom with your identity secure in Christ.  
  • Today, make a list of what you know to be true about Jesus.  In front of each of those words, write the two words, “I am.”  “You are” because you are hidden in Christ.  That’s a great surprise.
     
  • Pray this prayer: “Father, today I simply say, thank you.”

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

Colossians: Journey to Truth - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Aug 11, 2015

Colossians 3:1-2 (NLT) Since you have been raised to new life with Christ...

Have you ever been accused of not having any sense? You make a dumb decision without thinking it through and people say, "She has no sense!" There've been times in my life when I have to wonder myself if I had any sense. Like when I swung our cat around by his tail or when I used the same science fair project 3 years in a row! I had no sense for the outcome of those stellar moments! Ever lost your sense?

Like me, you may not have a lot of "sense," but I'm here to tell you that you do have a "since." Paul reminds us as Christ-followers that we do have a "because of." "Since" we have been raised to new life with Christ, we actually have the ability to set our thoughts and affections on things that are not of this world, things that are Heavenly. Without the new life in Christ, without that "since," we are stuck in an old life that dwells on the blues of this life. But the good news is that we do have a "since."

When you look around at the things of this life and get fearful, depressed or stressed out, have some "since." Take hold of the gift God has given you of new life, new thoughts and new affections. Set your mind on Heaven and have hope. Choose joy. Rest. Laugh out loud. Make people think you have absolutely no "sense" at all and be grateful that you have all the "since" in the world - another world.

Take a few minutes today to be still and silent. Focus your mind on Heaven and imagine what it's going to be like to be in the presence of Jesus.

  • Pray this prayer: "Father, thank you for raising me to new life with Christ. Help me to live in the presence of Jesus now and to daily focus my thoughts on the hope I have in You."

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor


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