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Plan B: Choosing to Trust Instead of Please - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Oct 01, 2014

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
 
It was in high school when I first found myself on the floor, writhing in pain. It felt like an alien was in my body and was trying to push its way out my lower back. Turns out I had a kidney stone. The doctor couldn’t explain exactly why I was so young with a calcified rock floating around in my bladder but he did say that something had to have been causing it. And that wasn’t my only stone. A few more have come since then. In college I was still getting stones. At that point, the doc had gotten to know me a little better and picked up on two words that were often spoken when he asked me about my diet. 
 
Mountain. Dew.
 
I had gotten into the bad habit of drinking Mountain Dew at breakfast, lunch and dinner… and everywhere in between. And the good ol’ urologist was blaming my citrus-flavored full-time companion for my kidney stones. It was time to stop. 
 
But my addiction wasn’t easy to kick. I found myself looking for that tall, cold bottle in the cupholder as I drove to classes. I would glance in the fridge and expect that emerald glare to shimmer off the can when the light would kick on. But, alas, my dear companion was gone. And my kidney stones stopped. 
 
The thing I loved was the very thing that was causing me pain. And the physical pain of a kidney stone is no comparison to the pain inflicted by a codependent relationship. When you become addicted to a person’s opinion, you eventually get hurt. We’re not made to please people. We’re made to worship and honor God. 
  • Do you have a relationship in your life that you need to walk away from? Are you suffering harm from that person or those people? Ask God to give you the strength to acknowledge His truth and walk away. Give Him 10 minutes of prayer and ask Him for strength.

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Plan B: Choosing to Trust Instead of Please - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Sep 30, 2014

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh  and whose heart turns away from the  Lord.”
 
I’ve become fairly codependent on the maps app on my phone. I don’t ever look up directions before I go somewhere anymore. I’ll just hop in the car, start ‘er up and hit the road. “Siri, can you tell me how to get to that bike shop?” And before I know it, I’ve got turn-by-turn directions for exactly where I need to go. It’s brilliant! 
 
But the convenience doesn’t come with a 100% guarantee. In fact, in the recent months, my dear Siri has betrayed me on more than one occasion. Last month I was on my way to a funeral and she put me in the parking lot of a slaughter house. No kidding. I think I had nightmares about that one. And a few weeks ago I needed Siri while I was near the Red River Gorge. But she told me I had no data signal and she couldn’t help me at all. I had put all my faith in her and she was leaving me with nothing. 
 
I didn’t have a Plan B. There was no one around to tell me what to do. There was no guidance and no direction. My codependency had left me directionless and lost. And that’s exactly how it works when we’re codependent on people.
 
Healthy relationships are great. I’m always seeking advice from others and asking for wisdom. But it’s all too easy to put all of our trust in a lesser source than God. We find ourselves unprepared when what should be peripheral wisdom becomes our primary resource for decisions. We should be working toward 100% dependency on God. We should invest in that relationship before we put all our trust in any other. 
  • Pray 1 Corinthians 1:30 as a prayer for yourself today. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
  • Ask God to show you if you’re seeking wisdom from a source other than Him. Ask Him to show you what you’ve been holding back from Him. Put 10 minutes on your calendar today to ask God to be your primary source of wisdom and influence. 

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Plan B: Choosing to Trust Instead of Please - Monday

Posted on Mon, Sep 29, 2014

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
 
My kids love it when I’m in charge of dinner. The other night I was swinging through the drive-thru to grab a pizza when one of them asked, “Where’s mom? Is she not going to eat with us tonight?”
 
“No. Mom’s out for the night. She went out with some friends.” The next words out of my daughter’s mouth were, unfortunately, not a surprise at all.
 
“Yes! Mom’s gone! No veggies with dinner!”
 
You see, my wife will put a side of vegetables next to that slice of pizza. She will drive past the McDonalds. She will sit at the table until all the peas are ingested. I, on the other hand, am more of a pushover. I’d rather not listen to the whining. I’m quicker to just avoid the tension and let the two, five, seven and nine year old make my decision for me. “You don’t want to eat your broccoli? I understand. Why don’t you head to the bath and try to get that Blow Pop out of your hair?”  It’s really just easier to let them make the call. 
 
The problem is that I’m wrong. I have worked myself into a pattern in life where the kids know that they’re going to get exactly what they want, not what’s best for them. That’s a lot how people-pleasing works. We might be pleasing everyone around us. And that certainly feels easier. It certainly takes care of the immediate problem. But, much like my kids when my wife is gone, you eventually end up with a belly ache. 
  • Do you have a pattern of pleasing people more than pleasing God? Are there any patterns that you might not be aware of? Pray through those questions and ask God to reveal to you any words that you’re hearing that aren’t from Him.
  • Is there a specific person in your life who tends to want what’s best for them instead of what’s best for you? Are they making decisions for you and are you allowing it? Ask God for direction in that relationship. Spend 10 minutes today to pray and ask God about it.

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Plan B: Choosing to Help Instead of Hurt - Friday

Posted on Fri, Sep 26, 2014

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 
 
Big, fat lie #5: Until I’m fully healed and strong, I cannot serve God.  
 
Hurting people hurt people. True. But healing people heal people. Notice the “ing” part. You and I don’t need to be fully healed to look outward. As you are healing, move toward helping others. Not one of your tears, fears or wounds is wasted in God’s economy. Not one. 
 
There is a great story in Luke about ten lepers. We often focus on the news that while ten were healed, only one returned to show gratitude. But there’s a commonly missed fact in that story tucked into Luke 17:14 that yields great hope to those of us with wounds.
 
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 
 
I looked up the word catharsis today. Webster defines catharsis as “a purging or cleansing of emotional tension; a renewing experience.”
 
Ten men received healing just by walking away from Jesus’ presence, as they were instructed. We’re told that “as they went, they were cleansed.” Ten men were completely restored to health.
 
By the time they got to the priests to receive their stamp of approval to return to society, they were well. They took Jesus at His word. He didn’t heal them and say, “Now, go to the priests.” As they took Him at His word, He healed them.
 
You know where I’m going, right? What would happen in our lives if we simply took Jesus at His word? Well, according to Scripture, we’d be healed.
 
From what do you need to be healed, friend? Walk in the direction Jesus Christ instructs. Healing happens along that way and no other.
 
And Jesus knows it isn’t just healing of symptoms that we need. It’s a purging of the emotional stress attached to our sickness. Catharsis.
 
I looked up another word, too. The word used in the text is “cleansed.” The Greek word for cleansed? Katharizo. Look familiar?
 
Truth #5: Serving others takes our eyes off of ourselves. 
 
As they went.” Sometimes the work God does in our lives happens as we go about His business, which is always about reaching out, finding the one lost sheep. 
  • Make a list of the ways in which you have been healed. Pray with a heart full of gratitude over this list.
  • Make a list of the ways in which you have yet to be healed. Pray over that one as well.
  • Where is God calling you to take your eyes off of your woundedness? Follow Him and find healing. 

Rebecca Hatton
Formation Director - Danville

Plan B: Choosing to Help Instead of Hurt - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Sep 25, 2014

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
 
Big fat lie #4: I can never forgive the person who wounded me.     
 
In her pivotal book, The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells the story of her Christ-centered family helping WWII-era Jews escape capture, and her eventual imprisonment in a Nazi prison camp. Her cruel and humiliating treatment at the hands of prison guards is hard to read. This amazing, godly woman recounts time and again when her faith in Christ was tested to the limits. But perhaps most riveting is the story that shows up at the end of her book. 
 
At a church service following the war, she came face to face with one of those guards. He made his way to her, thrusting out his hand, saying, “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein. To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” The words burned in her heart. Yet she wrote, “Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?”
 
As she took his hand in hers, she described, from her shoulder through her hand, a current seemed to pass from her to him, and in her heart sprang a love for this stranger that overwhelmed her. 
 
While it is hard to imagine, the key to total healing is, in fact, forgiveness. Forgiveness of the one who caused your wound(s). Releasing them unlocks the door to your prison. 
 
When I think of the deepest wound in my life, I am reminded that my real trek toward total healing had to include forgiving the person who wounded me. Really forgiving him and asking God to speak into his life. Only God could do a work in this person’s heart. Not my fear of him. Not my hatred for him. So I let him off my hook. And put him on God’s. Only the Lord could break his sickness. I may never know if he repented. But it was in that moment I was released from holding onto the pain and fear he had brought my way. 
 
Truth #4: Forgiveness releases you, not them. 
 
In the words of Corrie Ten Boom, “And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives along with the command, the love itself.” 
 
You’re off the hook. Now open the prison door and run to freedom. 
  • One step at a time. Who will you release today to God’s dealing? Fresh air awaits you. 

Rebecca Hatton
Formation Director - Danville

Plan B: Choosing to Help Instead of Hurt - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Sep 24, 2014

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
 
Big, fat lie #3: There is no hope for me.        
 
I have two noticeable scars. One is from Chicken Pox. The other is on my left foot. The result of a lead pipe falling on my toe. How I got that scar is the interesting part. That pipe held up the window in my bedroom. One night, my best friend and I were spending the night at my house when we were invited to join the neighbor boys for a little fun in the moonlight. One was a boy I had a crush on, and I figured it might be a good thing for him to think me slightly dangerous and adventurous. I’m laughing at the memory of it now. 
 
Well, about midnight, we were trying to crawl out my bedroom window, when wham! That pipe fell and slammed down on my toe! With all the ruckus (and, well, the screaming when I saw blood), our sleeping household was suddenly fully awake, and in flew my father. Those boys scattered quicker than lightning, and my friend and I were left to explain all the noise and why we were now fully dressed. (Because the last time he saw us we were skipping off to bed in our ruffly night gowns.) It cost a trip to the emergency room, a couple of stitches, and the eventual loss of that nail. Plus a two-week grounding for a crime I didn’t even get to commit! Worst of all, when my toenail grew back, it was slightly crooked! Every time I wear flip-flops, I’m reminded of the folly of my youth. Thus was the end of my career in danger-osity!
 
Listen, wounds have a tendency to define us. Those I described are admittedly minor. But what about the deeper ones? The ones no one sees. The ones we think about in the dead of night. The ones we dread anyone knowing about. The ones we’re sure will keep us out of heaven. 
 
If it’s true that Jesus died for all of our sins—past, present and future (and it is)—and that His blood and His blood alone is the healing balm for our wounds (and it is), then it’s true that there is no wound His work on the Cross didn’t cover and cannot heal. 
 
The words of a great song speak it so much better than I ever could: 
You are more than the choices that you've made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You've been remade.
(From the song, You Are More by Tenth Avenue Prophets)
 
Truth #3: There is only hope for you
 
Persevere! You’ve been remade by His wounds. 
  • Is there a wound in your life needing attention from the Great Physician? What if you were to begin your prayer time today saying this: “Lord, I need help and hope for…” 

Rebecca Hatton
Formation Director - Danville

Plan B: Choosing to Help Instead of Hurt - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Sep 23, 2014

John 8:44
He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Big, fat lie #2: I can figure this out by myself.

I held onto a secret in my life for about 10 years. It was fear of being found out. Fear of loss of the good opinion of others. Fear of being thought of as “less than.” That’s what I told myself. But really, it was pride. Pure and simple. Yep, one of the seven “deadlies.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

I’m pretty sure the dysfunction in my family of origin was silence. I grew up with the fear of expressing hurt. Say the good stuff, by all means. But don’t talk out loud about what hurts you, what wounds you. If you just don’t say it out loud, it doesn’t really exist. And certainly, don’t let the neighbors know!

So I believed that I just needed to keep quiet and carry my burden on my own. What I didn’t know, was that was exactly where the enemy of my soul wanted me. Alone. Isolated. In a vacuum. Where he could torment, accuse and convince me I would always have this suitcase to carry up the hill.

But the father of lies is ever trumped and defeated by our true Father.

Truth #2: Stay alone, stay messed up.

I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:5)

If you really want to heal your life, connect with our Father. Link arms. Get out of the shadows. And onto your knees.

  • Write it down. The thing(s) that wounded you. Speak it out loud. Tell someone. A trusted friend or respected person in your life.
  • Seek wise, godly counsel. Call Will at Harrodsburg Road, Adaryll at Richmond Road, or me in Danville. Or any person our staff.
  • Seek prayer with someone. We have people that come to our services every weekend just to stand in the valley with you.

Rebecca Hatton
Formation Director - Danville

Plan B: Choosing to Help Instead of Hurt - Monday

Posted on Mon, Sep 22, 2014

Mark 14:9
Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.

This week we’re going to look hurt in the eye and identify some big, fat lies that could hold us back. Strap in, hang on and get ready to fly. I don’t know about you, but some pretty big stuff held me captive for many years. Until I learned I was made to be an overcomer. Not by human endeavor, but rather by Spirit-power. And the only thing that dispels the darkness of lies is disinfecting Son-light. In order to know the truth, I had to recognize the lies. And for every lie, there is an overcoming truth. So here goes:

Big, fat lie #1: I will never get over this.

Wherever, whenever, however your dreams took a tumble, it is likely they still sting a little -- or a lot. Were you abused, neglected, unloved, treated like an object? Have you had a physical impairment, illness or handicap with which to deal? Did some power or person strip you of something precious? Did a loved one die and the reality has been so very difficult to deal with?

The imagery is clear. You are climbing a mountain. Thousands of feet uphill to go. Rest and relaxation await you at the summit. But you’re carrying a 100-pound suitcase with you. Solution. Drop the suitcase. Right now. And run to freedom. To rest.

To drag the past around every day will steal your future. Every single one of us will leave a legacy. The question is: Will yours be one of overcoming and forging a new path? Will the generations be changed, beginning with you? Will someone down the line point to something you changed that turned the tide of brokenness? Truth is truth. What truth will others tell of you long after you’re gone? That you fainted back into the couch, all Scarlett O’Hara-like? Or that you stood up, turned toward Jesus, and took off running at full tilt? What story will they tell of you throughout history?

Truth #1: The full story of your life isn’t completely written. Yet.

  • What is the most serious wound you’ve experienced in your life? How long have you been affected by it?
  • Spend some time today in the presence of the Father who can heal completely. He’s the only one I ever knew of who could turn back time. (Joshua 10:12-13)

Rebecca Hatton
Formation Director - Danville

Plan B: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer - Friday

Posted on Fri, Sep 19, 2014

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  
 
…I will make up to you the years that the locust has eaten…” 
 
Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 
 
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  
 
On a cold February night in 1970, I was on a date with my girlfriend. I'd had my license for two weeks. I never saw the stop sign. 
 
Driving through the intersection at 60 miles an hour, I broadsided another car without ever tapping the brakes. Glass shattering, tires screeching, cars spinning... it all seemed like slow motion. My car ended up on the other side of the road, rolling backward down a hill. No seat belts on. Four people went to the hospital, including my girlfriend. There were no fatalities, but the driver of the other vehicle was hospitalized for 29 days. I had a small scratch on my left ankle, a miracle, though I didn't understand it at the time. My girlfriend’s parents said, "You can never date our daughter again," and they meant it. It was the worst night of my life.
 
A lawsuit followed. My dad, who was separated from my mom at the time, had allowed the insurance to lapse on our car. There was a huge judgment against us. My dad filed bankruptcy, divorced my mom and left our family. My mother, co-signer on his debt, lost everything. We sold our house and moved into an apartment. My mother and sister each had a small bedroom. I bought an orange, free-standing hammock from K-Mart and erected it in the living room, where I slept for the next year-and-a-half.
 
My mom got a job in a bindery earning eighty dollars a week, gross. We were below the federal poverty level. I worked two jobs while finishing high school to help her financially. I missed 35 days of school my senior year. Had I not had a 4.0 GPA, they wouldn't have allowed me to graduate. 
 
To say this was a stressful season in my life would be a monumental understatement. I'd checked out of church several years earlier. I was as lost as lost could be. Shortly after the accident, a friend invited me to her church. I reluctantly accepted. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. The youth minister became a good friend and huge influencer in my life. He encouraged me to go to Bible College. On the day I left for college, carrying only $50 and a suitcase, he called. “God will make a way,” he said. He was right. God did.
 
Why do I tell you this, as I sit at my favorite Starbucks on a sunny morning, writing this final Devo for Jon’s message, Transform Instead of Transfer. Simply this: I want to give you hope, friend. I want you to know that God can raise up life out of death, beauty out of ashes, health out of brokenness, and a path forward when everything surely seems to only be a dead end. He can also teach you to forgive, let go, and move on. He did it for me. He redeemed it all. I'm praying today... He will do it for you. I mean that. Nothing would bring me more joy. 
 
It was the worst night of my life. Today, I count it as the best. God does stuff like that, you know. You can't put it on paper; but alas... I've tried.  

Gary Black
Regional Campus Director

Plan B: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Sep 18, 2014

A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense.   
 
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.   
 
Sometimes the best way to find healing from the hurts that other’s can cause in your life is to just try and understand them better.  Someone has said, “We’re all fighting a hard battle, so always be a little kinder than is necessary. Let me share a story that illustrates that.
 
My dog, Snoopy, was the best brown and black mixed-breed beagle any nine-year-old boy ever owned. He was also my best friend. Wherever I rode my chrome-plated Sears Stingray bike, Snoopy would follow. If I went to play baseball, he’d tag along, find a cool spot in the shade, and wait patiently until the game was over. Afterward, I'd mount my bike and old Snoop would run alongside, keeping pace as we made the one-mile trek home.
 
There were no leash laws back in those days, so Snoopy gained quite a reputation in our neighborhood for chasing cars, trucks and mailmen! His technique for “terrorizing” vehicles was always the same--bark and bite at the front tire, then the rear, then circle around the back of the car before making his “victory lap“ back to the front porch of our small brick home.
 
I'll never forget that warm August evening when a farm truck, pulling a flatbed trailer, came roaring down the street. Snoopy sprang to the task, bounded from the porch and darted to the street, aggressively attacking the front tire, then the rear tire.   
 
But as he circled behind the vehicle he misjudged the wheels of the trailer, which pounded his hind legs into the pavement. Yelping and panicked, he ran into the shrubs of a neighbor's yard. I rushed to his rescue and found him shivering, bleeding and frightened. As I reached to pick him up I was absolutely devastated by his response...he bit me! My best friend, my good buddy, the best old dog in the world snarled, growled and sank his teeth in my hand.
 
By this time, my mother had arrived on the scene. Noting my tears and confusion, she said something I‘ve never forgotten, “Son, he still loves you, but he’s really hurting. Don’t take it personally. He just needs some space."
 
I learned a valuable lesson that day; not only about dogs, but people. Sometimes they react very abruptly and angrily. Our tendency is to lash back, turn away, or just write them off. Instead, we should pray  and ask God for eyes of compassion and a heart of discernment. He will show us how to creatively look beneath the surface.  Don't allow someone’s negative reaction to diminish the power of your love. To this day, I still think of Snoopy when I read the words of the Apostle Peter, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (I Peter 4:8)
 
A vet took care of ole’ Snoop that day. Twenty-nine stitches and a few weeks later he was back on the front porch plotting his next car chase. And by the way, he never so much as growled at me again!

Gary Black
Regional Campus Director

Plan B: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Sep 17, 2014

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.   
 
She came into my office holding a crumpled letter. She stared at the floor for awhile, and then said, “I can’t get beyond this. I can’t forget what she said to me.”
 
I asked for clarification. “This letter,” she said. “The things she wrote in it. They’ve destroyed my life.” 
“How long have you had the letter,” I asked. 
“Three years,” she said.  
“How many times have you read it,” I inquired. 
“Oh, dozens of times,” she said, “maybe hundreds.”
“Give the letter to me,” I said. 
“What? Give it to you?” 
“Yes,” I said, “Give it to me.”
“What will you do with it?” she asked.
“What I do with it isn’t nearly as important as what you do with it. Give it to me.” 
 
Slowly, reluctantly, with a trembling hand, she reached out across my desk and handed over the letter; then she began to weep. After awhile I said, “Susan (fictitious name), now that you’ve given up the letter, would you be willing to give up the grudge?”
 
“But you don’t know how she hurt me.”
“You’re right,” I answered, “but you’ll never be released from her until you forgive.”
“But that wouldn’t change what happened.” she protested.
“You’re right, Susan," I said, "But it might change you.” 
 
She looked at me for a long time, and then said, “I’m willing to forgive her, but how?” So I led her through a prayer of forgiveness. After a few minutes she looked up, made eye contact with me and smiled. “I feel lighter,” she said. “I feel at peace.” 
 
“You should,” I explained, “Because forgiveness, when it is least deserved, has true, healing power.” 
 
She nodded her head. “I’ll remember that,” she said. Then she thanked me and left. She never mentioned the letter again.  
 
The Great Physician
Lord,
It occurred to me recently
that the moment I start
to hate or despise someone
I become their slave.
They affect my 
sleep, my appetite,
my relationships with others,
even my health.
 
Perhaps You were
trying to help me
save on medical bills
when You said,
"Forgive your enemies
just as your Father in
Heaven has forgiven you."
 
Lord, I'm understanding
more and more 
these days
why You're called
the Great Physician.

Gary Black
Regional Campus Director

Plan B: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Sep 16, 2014

They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.  
 
This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  
 
...become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.  
 
Over the years I've been in some pretty dark places...a forest at midnight under a moonless sky; inside a cave without a flashlight; next to the fresh grave of a loved one... but the darkest place I've ever been is a land called...ingratitude. Fact is, I lived there for many years.
 
The land of ingratitude is usually littered with debris from past hurt and pain. It's characterized by the fallout of anger and resentment. There’s not much happiness. Its inhabitants don't enjoy life, they endure it. I found a way out. Here are some steps I took: 
  1. I listened to my own words.  Seriously. If you could hear what others hear when you speak, you might be surprised...or ashamed...or both. I was. Do you speak "life" or "death" words? Do your words encourage or discourage? Ask a friend to help you monitor your verbal traffic for awhile. You'll gain much from their insight and assistance.
  2. Confess ingratitude as a sin. It kept a whole generation of Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. At least seven times in Exodus it says, "They grumbled." Each time God said, "Okay, one more lap around the desert for you guys." It's hard for God to use someone in a mighty way who has an ungrateful heart. It’s also hard to deal a death blow to bitterness.
  3. Explore new avenues and opportunities for praise. Think about this: you have the power to give God something that no one else in the world can give Him -- the daily love and adoration of your own heart. My friend, don't waste that.
  4. Relax in His sovereignty. God is a master at bringing growth out of our pain, and turning waiting into blessing. We think of waiting as a parenthesis. It isn't. God works while we wait...setting everything back down in order, in His time and in His way. Believing that God is always at work on our behalf, even in the darkness...helps chase away the darkness. We call that faith. 
If you're living these days in that dark, desolate, energy-robbing land called ingratitude, why not venture out and stand in the sunshine of thankfulness? Enjoy the warmth of gratitude. Let it free your soul. Spin and twirl and giggle a little bit if you’d like, but be thankful... deliriously so. 
 
People will notice. More importantly, you will change... for the better! Guaranteed. It's simple, really. And it sure beats the dark prison of bitterness. I promise. I’ve been there.

Gary Black
Regional Campus Director

Plan B: Choosing to Transform Instead of Transfer - Monday

Posted on Mon, Sep 15, 2014

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  
 
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  
 
One of my all-time favorite books is, Let Go by Fenelon. I highly recommend it to you. It taught me a very important truth many years ago: “The greater part of wisdom in life is knowing when to hang on and when to let go.”
 
Is there something in your life you need to release? Anger toward someone who hurt you? The pain of being misunderstood? A relationship that went sour? Your kids?
 
People often ask me how to let go. Here are some things we need to understand. Letting go means that we...   
  • Stop trying to control other people. More of us suffer from that than any other sickness.
  • Admit our powerlessness to change anyone but ourselves.
  • Care enough to let God get involved. We don’t give up on someone; we merely give them up to God. Big difference.
  • Accept others without judging.  
  • Resist the urge to be overly-protective.
  • Grant others permission to think, feel and act differently than us.  
  • Decide to resign as General Manager of the universe.  
  • Realize that we don’t have a corner on truth. In fact, we may very well be wrong about a lot of things.    
  • Refuse to value possessions over people.
  • Learn what’s "cancer" and what's "measles." Can I let you in on a little secret? Most of the stuff we worry about and overreact to...is "measles." 
  • Choose to fear God, not man.  
  • Learn to say, "I love you" without feeling embarrassed.
  • Make a permanent decision to see everything, overlook a lot and correct a little.  
If you ever expect transformation in your life, you’ll have to learn (and choose) to let go. There’s no Plan B.  
  • I ask you again... what, or who do you need to release? What do you need to surrender one, last time. You can do it! Bow your head, say a prayer and ask God to help you... then let go. Release your grip, my friend.  
Hear that sound? That's God (and me)... clapping and cheering for you!  

Gary Black
Regional Campus Director

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Saint - Friday

Posted on Fri, Sep 12, 2014

do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. 
 
We could seriously end our week together just praying the verses above. But, I like to tie bows on things, so let’s wrap up our discussion about being saints. 
Christ has an inheritance in the saints. Verse 18 confirms that there is glory in this inheritance—rich glory. All of us who choose to follow Jesus—to accept His gift of salvation—become part of “the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Individually, we matter a great deal to God. We mattered enough for Jesus to die for each of us. Collectively, we form a tremendous inheritance for Jesus by increasing His glory. This is what we’ve been talking about all along. It’s not just that as saints we are His beloved, His chosen, His set-apart people, it’s that by being saints, we bring God glory, and all the more by being grouped together. 
 
The irony? We are set apart by being set within the family of God. The community of the saints is a key component of sainthood. When I typed in the word saint on biblegateway.com to see what verses came up, I got nothing. They all say saints plural. Being a saint means being a part of a community. Being set apart for God and being united with others who have chosen to live the same way. We must work in tandem, not in tension with one another. This same plurality happens to Christ’s glory. The glory multiplies because of the lives of multiple saints.
 
Do you see? The greatest part of being a saint is the immediate community it affords us in the body of Christ. We were created to commune with God so that we could co-exist in deep relationship with each other too. Even better? The community of the saints proves the validity of our claim that Jesus is our Savior. John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Being saints gives us a place in God’s home and in each other’s lives. Let’s love each other well so others can join in the inheritance.
  • Are you in a Life Group? A great way to join with other saints is to find a group of people with whom you can do life. Here’s a way you can do that.
  • Take some time to thank God that His plans are not only to restore our relationship to Him through Christ, but also to each other. 

Amanda Carter
Worship Leader

I Know You Are But What Am I?: Saint - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Sep 11, 2014

Ephesians 4:11-13
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ
 
We talked yesterday about being vessels set apart to do the good work God prepared for us. Today’s Scripture passage reveals in detail how God’s saints may be used and why. The saints make up the body of Christ, and each saint is a unique vessel with unique design to be used not for his/her own glory, but so that we can be a whole picture of Christ for those not yet part of the family. Saints know the benefit of gaining a knowledge of the Son of God, Jesus. Such knowledge saves us. In order to help build the body of Christ and bring others along with us, we need to look like Jesus.
 
This passage seems extra special because it says “Christ himself gave” the differing roles in the body. How beautiful that they are different and yet they work together to bring “unity in the faith” and “in the knowledge of the Son of God.” Each gift acts as a color of paint that when used together, becomes a full, mature and accurate picture of Jesus. 
To be called saints means we agree to participate in using our gifts to build up the body -- the Church. How are you contributing to the church where God has placed you at this time? Do you view church as a place where you receive or a place where you partner in the work of painting the full picture of Jesus? These are not easy questions, but their answers give all of us the opportunity to evaluate whether we are partakers with Christ or simply takers of Christ. Let’s do the work knowing that “apart from [Jesus], we can do nothing” (see John 15:5).
  • Take a few moments to answer the questions above. Has there been a way God has been prompting you to serve that you need to follow through with?
  • Take some time to encourage someone around you in their gifts. 
  • Take some time to think through your gifts and thank God for them.

Amanda Carter
Worship Leader


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