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Latest Blog Posts in July 2016

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 51 - Friday

Posted on Fri, Jul 29, 2016

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.  Psalm 51:16-17
Jesus confirmed David’s words in Psalm 51 when he told this parable in Luke 18,
“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!  I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Man, I love that parable. And I love David’s words. “You will not reject a broken and repentant heart.” God is not asking us to be perfect, or to earn the right to be near Him. He’s asking us to be honest. All week we have learned through David’s pain. And I am willing to bet that something from this Psalm has shed light on some pain of your own. I hope you are beginning to see that we serve a loving God, who wants us to recognize our rebellion. He breaks us in order to bring us real joy and relationship. And He gives us His Spirit so that we can make it through any temptation. He is a good good God, and more than anything, He wants a real relationship with you. 
  • Throughout this series we’ve created music videos to go along with each Psalm. For Psalm 51, we chose the song “O, Come to the Altar.” Watch and listen. Maybe today is the day you need to come to the altar and lay down your sin.

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 51 - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jul 28, 2016

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.  Psalm 51:10-11
David was a warrior king. Many many battles were fought and won by him. Many men died by his sword. David was a fighter. And before he wrote this Psalm, David’s heart was fighting against God. For all of the wars that David fought, there was an even greater one going on for his soul. His sinful desires vs. God’s Holy Spirit in him. A holy boxing match, if you will. And let me tell you, those sinful desires fight dirty. Round one, an affair with Bathsheba. Sin 1. Round two, a drunken night to cover up his tracks. Sin 2. Round three a murdered husband. Sin 3. It seemed like David was working really hard to pin the Holy Spirit to the mat. To push God out forever. But, when God sent Nathan to confront David about his sin, he broke. And in an unexpected turn of events David repented. He turned from his sin and begged God to be made new. And then something unbelievable happened. In the final round, the Holy Spirit knocked out sin.
In the midst of his pain and sin, David knew one thing. The only way to defeat temptation was through God’s Holy Spirit. He knew without the Spirit, he didn’t have a fighting chance. And that is still true for us. For a child of God, victory will always be the Lord’s because “the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”  God’s incredible grace extends into the past and into our future, like David, all we need to do is repent and ask for it. Victory over sin is guaranteed for you today in Christ.
  • Are you fighting with God or for God today? Do you need help knocking your sinful desires to the mat? Ask the Holy Spirit to fight for you today. God wants to come to your rescue.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 51 - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jul 27, 2016

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.  Psalm 51:7-8
Today we are in the middle of Psalm 51. In the center of David’s pain, we find a plea for joy. For restoration. But the most interesting line of the verse is found in the middle of his request for joy. “You have broken me.” I find this line to be so intriguing. David understands that great joy is found on the other side of brokenness. But what does that mean? How can joy come from being crushed? “You have broken me.” It sounds painful. Like walking on crutches or shattered glass. But God doesn’t break us senselessly or accidentally like a broken bone or a dropped glass. I think it’s more like breaking a horse. His breaking has great purpose. Horse breaking is all about intentionality and relationship. It is a bending of the horse’s will to it’s master’s. It is teaching the horse to trust his leader. And this is what God does with us. In our wildest of places, He is patient but firm. He sometimes allows pain and sorrow. He loves us too much to leave us in the wild, and He has great plans beyond our breaking. Plans for Joy. David understood that out of brokenness came joy, because God’s breaking builds trust. It builds alignment and strong relationship. In the beginning of the breaking process, the wild horse doesn’t understand the good relationship that is in store. And we are the same. God longs for relationship with us, and if we are willing to be broken, we will go on an incredible ride with Him.
  • Are you broken? Maybe it is time to look for the joy. 
  • The breaking is less painful when the horse cooperates. How can you cooperate with what God wants to do you in your life? Journal your thoughts.

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 51 - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jul 26, 2016

Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.  Psalm 51:2-3
Yesterday we read Psalm 51 and discovered some serious pain in David’s life. Pain that he caused by choosing sin. Psalm 51 is David’s cry for help. His moment of truth. It is like he finally looked in the mirror after avoiding it for a whole year. It’s pretty easy to pretend that the sin we are choosing is no big deal, but at some point, we all have to face it. Yesterday we talked about the fact that God is willing to meet our imperfection with His grace. But how do we start the conversation? David’s started with his friend Nathan calling him out (2 Samuel 11). And after that conversation, he penned these words:  “I recognize my rebellion.” He confessed. He started by telling God (and himself) the cold hard truth. I am broken, and I need your help. Step one to repentance? Recognition. You gotta face the facts. Own it. 
Confession time. I have this really bad habit of not finishing my coffee at work. And I somehow have ended up with multiple mugs in my office with a little bit of coffee left in them. Not really a big deal. I mean, it’s easy enough to just dump the coffee and wash the mug. Well, apparently not if you’re me. I set things down and totally forget about them. Recently, I was standing in my office when one of my co-workers exclaimed “EW, HANNA! THAT’S DISGUSTING!!” I was mortified when I realized he’d discovered my growing pile of now extremely moldy mugs. He uncovered my rebellion! And isn’t that the way with sin? We can hide it. We can put it on a high shelf and try to forget about it, but the longer we leave it, the nastier the mold.
  • Are you dealing with rebellion? Maybe like David and myself, you need a friend to point it out to you. Talk to a close friend today. Be real. Be honest. 

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 51 - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jul 25, 2016

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Psalm 51:1
Psalm 51, as Gary said this past weekend, is a Psalm that never should have been written. David wrote this Psalm about a year after his affair with Bathsheba. At this point all of the dominoes had fallen. Because he chose to sleep with the beautiful woman bathing on a roof (something he thought was a one time decision), many lives were altered forever. What he thought would be a one-night stand turned into a pregnancy, a murdered husband, and eventually the loss of a child. So. Much. Pain. And unfortunately that’s the way of it, isn’t it? When it comes to our sin, we so often believe the lie that it’s just a one time thing. Or it won’t hurt anyone else. But if we all get honest, we’d have to admit that’s never the case. Which is why I love the way David starts this Psalm. He is completely up front about his sin. No excuses. And he doesn’t appeal to God saying, “Look, it’s been a year, and I think I’m good enough for you to forgive now.” No, he says forgive me “because of your unfailing love” and “because of your great compassion.” See, David knows something true. He can never earn God’s mercy. He can never do enough good to outweigh the bad. But he knows God loves him anyway. 
When it comes right down to it, there is nothing you can do to deserve God’s grace. As a matter of fact, most of us have done quite the opposite. I know I have. But here’s the beauty. All God asks for is a repentant heart and an honest belief in His love and compassion. 
  • Are you stuck in a big mess today? I promise God wants to hear from you. Stop hiding. Tell the truth. He wants to meet you with His mercy and compassion.
  • Read Psalm 51. Are you willing to be that honest with God today?

Hanna Wahlbrink
Creative Director

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 23 - Friday

Posted on Fri, Jul 22, 2016

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In the year 2000, the band Fuel released a song called Bad Day with the following lyrics:
She left a note and said, “I'm sorry, I had a bad day again.”
She spilled her coffee, broke her shoelace. 
She smeared the lipstick on her face. 
Slammed the door and said, “I'm sorry, I had a bad day again.”
Ever had a day like that? The kind of day where you just want to throw your hands up in the air and give it all up? Most of us have experienced a spilled-the-coffee-broke-a-shoelace kind of day. Some of us probably feel like that happens more often than not. 
Worse, most of us have had really, really bad days. Days that include words like cancer, violence, anger, war, death. 
How can we come to a point where we, like David, can say, "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life"? All the days. As in every single one. Even the really really bad ones. 
Because when we have faith in the Good Shepherd, the One who restores our soul, we have complete trust and confidence that He is ultimately leading us to a place of rest. When all the days of this life are over, the good ones and bad ones, we will step into eternity. And if we have followed faithfully in those right paths, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. With that long view of eternity, we can view the days of our life with a different perspective. We can walk through the valley, we can eat in the presence of our enemies, because we know that God will be faithful to bring us into His rest.
Psalm 23 begins and ends with rest, and it reminds us through and through that God is in control, and that His presence is our peace.
  • Finish your Psalm today:
    • Even when ______________,
    • God’s mercy and ________ and ________ will comfort me every day.
  • If you want to share, Tweet to @southlandcc or email djackson@southlandchristian.org

Dan Jackson
Campus Leader - Georgetown

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 23 - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jul 21, 2016

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5
For kicks, my college roommate and I identified an arch nemesis for each other and looked for opportunities to laugh about it. Our imaginary foes were usually encountered on an intramural soccer field or at the cereal bar in the campus dining hall. Superheros we were not!
In reality, most of us do not know what it's like to actually have someone with a name and a face who is bent on our destruction. At worst, we may deal with the school bully, a frustrating or conniving coworker, the controlling boss, or a sibling rivalry.
We do, however, face enemies and threats in terms of forces that are hard to understand and even harder to combat (i.e. racism, terrorism). As I write this, I feel very much like we as a nation are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. What are we to do when we feel that enemy pressing in?
Psalm 23 does not deny the presence of evil or of forces seeking to destroy. Rather, it reminds us that even in the presence of our enemies, God prepares a meal for us. This is not a rugged, battleside campfire thrown up in haste before we meet our doom: it is a banquet table set before us, prepared thoughtfully with us in mind, unconcerned with the enemy lurking at the door.
God draws us to a place of peace and blessing. As the forces of darkness surround us and when evil gnashes its teeth in the night, our place is first and foremost at the table communing with God. Only then, when we have learned to dwell in His peace and His sovereignty, can we learn to engage in the battle, knowing only then that it truly belongs to the Lord.
  • Continue writing your own Psalm today:
    • Even though __________, you invite me to a place of _________.
  • If you want to share, Tweet to @southlandcc or email djackson@southlandchristian.org

Dan Jackson
Campus Leader - Georgetown

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 23 - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jul 20, 2016

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
I love the mountains. I've climbed the highest mountains in New York State and Maine, twice. There's nothing quite like standing on top of the world looking down on the mountains and valleys below!
Because of its central location to my other siblings, my parents have decided that Denver, Colorado, is their most probable landing spot upon retirement. But living at the base of the Rockies makes my mom feel nervous, like something - a great shadow - is always looming in the distance.  
I guess that's the difference between a mountain and a valley. You either cast a shadow or live in one.
Unless you're forest ranger or an eagle, you can't live on a mountaintop your whole life. We all walk through valleys. We all experience seasons in our lives where the magnitude of the mountains around us feels overwhelming. The walls around us seem insurmountable and we are unsure if we’ll ever break out of the shadow into the light.
David knew as well as any human being the loneliness and despair of walking through the valley. Yet, he also knew that he did not walk alone. He knew that he would walk through the valley, not die in it. God would be there, with His wisdom, guidance, discipline, authority, and presence, every step of the way. Even the very shadow of death itself is nothing more than that: a shadow. Those who belong to the family of God need not fear death because Jesus Christ has already walked through that valley for us, and He came out victorious.
We don't live on the mountains: there is a valley somewhere on the other side. If you’re underneath a shadow today, take comfort in the presence of the Good Shepherd.
  • Continue writing your own psalm by acknowledging God’s presence:
    • Even though __________, I do need to be afraid.
    • Your _______ is a comfort even when I _________.
  • If you want to share, Tweet to @southlandcc or email djackson@southlandchristian.org

Dan Jackson
Campus Leader - Georgetown

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 23 - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2016

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Psalm 23:3
When I was in fifth grade, I deliberately wandered off into the woods, in the middle of a New York winter, as nighttime approached. For starters, let’s just acknowledge that I was a cotton-headed ninnymuggins of a child! But I also realize that I am just as prone to get myself lost in the woods today as I was thirty years ago. The old hymn by Robert Robinson rings true for me: 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
If left on their own, sheep will wander off incessantly, often to their own demise. Sheep need a shepherd to guide them along safe and good paths, lest they wander too close to a cliff or a predator and meet an untimely end. When the master comes for his flock and finds all the sheep accounted for, he does not praise the sheep for not getting lost; he praises the shepherd for finding, leading, and protecting them.
King David was a man who needed restoration once in awhile. The same man who slayed giants for God’s glory, also committed adultery and conspired to have an innocent man killed. Like a sheep, like all of us, David strayed from righteous paths. As much as any of us, he knew that peace and rest at the deepest levels of the soul only come by the grace of God. The Good Shepherd patiently and persistently picked him up, set his feet on solid ground, and welcomed him back to the fold. 
The Good Shepherd does the same for you and for me. Our restoration, our obedience along right paths, is for His name’s sake. God gets the glory when each and every one of his sheep comes home!
  • Continue writing out your own Psalm. Today, start with these four phrases:
    • He restores my soul.
    • He draws me away from _______.
    • He leads me to ________.
    • He receives glory when I am ________.
  • If you want to share, Tweet to @southlandcc or email djackson@southlandchristian.org

Dan Jackson
Campus Leader - Georgetown

A Playlist For Our Lives - Psalm 23 - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jul 18, 2016

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:1-2
“You have three tasks due today.” 
I often wake up to notifications like this on my phone. The project management app, Asana, is a lifesaver when it comes to helping me stay on top of all the things I need to accomplish in any given day or week. It helps keep my attention on all the tasks that need to be done… which isn’t always a good thing.
Living a called-out life of seeing God’s will done here on Earth as it is in Heaven, is an integral part of the Christian faith, but I often need to remind myself that doing things for Christ is not as important as being who I am in Christ. 
Psalm 23 begins with the refreshing reminder that God's calling on people is an invitation to rest. Over and over throughout the Old Testament God's people are promised that they will one day enter his rest. The hope we have in belonging to God is… rest! 
Jesus echoes a similar calling upon our identity: “Abide in me and I in you. Apart from me you can do nothing.” It's not that God doesn’t want us to do anything; it's that He wants our doing for Him to flow and grow out of our being with him.
Psalm 23 is comforting because it begins with the place of rest. God is our shepherd. Regardless of where we may have wandered or strayed yesterday, last week, or last month, the Good Shepherd invites us back to himself. He invites us to rest in green pastures where streams of living water flow.
Psalm 23 is an incredible reminder not just of who we are, but of whose we are. As we apply these truths this week, try writing your own Psalm. 
  • To begin, use this template:
    • God is my _______.
    • I don’t depend on my _________ or my __________. 
    • I can rest in _____________ and His _________.
  • If you want to share, Tweet to @southlandcc or email djackson@southlandchristian.org

Dan Jackson
Campus Leader - Georgetown

King Of Hearts: The Heart Of A King - Friday

Posted on Fri, Jul 15, 2016

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
Poetry was always lost on me in school. I’m too black and white, too concrete, and the abstract was beyond me. We’d read a poem and then discuss the meaning. It never made sense. When the teacher would bring perspective about the primary interpretations it seemed like a joke.
What’s interesting, though, is when poetry and prose come to life in a song, I don’t despise it. I actually love it. There is something about words and a melody that change the game for me. Songs that don’t really make sense lyrically work for me when I can experience the music.
Many Psalms were written to express gratitude and praise to God. While my love of poetry hasn’t matured as I’ve gotten older, my appreciation for the art of worship has. Regardless of your appreciation for poetry, Psalms, songs or the like, let’s take some time today to worship God and thank Him for all He’s done in our lives.
Here are a few options to prepare our hearts for today, and express gratitude:
  • Read Psalm 145 OR 
  • Listen to your favorite worship song OR
  • Write your own Psalm. (What would the theme be? What lines would you choose to express your mood, thoughts, emotions, etc?)
  • Also, join us this Sunday for our next message series called “Psalms - A playlist for our lives.”

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

King Of Hearts: The Heart Of A King - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Jul 14, 2016

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done….
I sat across from Max and had to strain to hear him. His voice has been quieted by a medical issue and he can’t speak above a whisper. One of the most incredible, encouraging, kind, generous and selfless men I know has all but lost his voice. If there is anyone on God’s green earth that should be full throated and healthy it’s Max. He uses his words to build up all day, every day. Yet his voice has been quieted to a whisper and I don’t like it.
Max, however, spent our entire conversation expressing gratitude for all that God had done in his life. Seriously, ALL he talked about was how he’d been saved, his life was so full and rich, and he trusted God completely as much now as he ever has.
In Luke 17 there is a story of Jesus healing a group of ten lepers. Whatever you know about the disease the least we can say is, in the first century, it completely and utterly ruined your life. Jesus healed them all and gave them their lives back. Luke notes that only one returned to say, “Thank you.”
That leper caused Jesus to take notice. My friend Max isn’t even healed and he has no doubt caused Jesus to take notice. In what areas of your life have you failed to express gratitude?
  • Make a list of things you are thankful for. Spend time praising God for these blessings.
  • Make a list of people you need to express gratitude to. Pick one and reach out to say thanks today. Repeat daily until your list is complete.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

King Of Hearts: The Heart Of A King - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Jul 13, 2016

Then King David turned to the entire assembly and said, “My son Solomon, whom God has clearly chosen as the next king of Israel, is still young and inexperienced. The work ahead of him is enormous, for the Temple he will build is not for mere mortals—it is for the Lord God himself! Using every resource at my command, I have gathered as much as I could for building the Temple of my God.
David no doubt had his legacy in mind. He was pumped to know his son would carry out the dream he had of building God’s temple. To that end, David gave an astounding amount of material wealth to bring the temple to life through his son Solomon. David went beyond that and called the leaders to follow Solomon and also give of their personal resources to make this happen. 
We’ve heard the one about the wealthy person that leaves millions of dollars to their dog or parrot or cat. Entire universities have been funded for decades on the dollars left in the name of families that want their legacy to count for something. While most of us won’t have a building built in our names, we still have the chance to leave a lasting impact, beyond what we often realize. You never know who you will impact and what can result.
If Andy hadn’t taken me up on my request for lunch I may have never finished bible college and wouldn’t be where I am today, seeing hundreds of people give their lives to Jesus in baptism each year through Southland. If Stefany hadn’t answered God’s call to adopt then my son Jordan may have never had a real chance in life. If we don’t invest ourselves as a church we are one generation away from extinction.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

King Of Hearts: The Heart Of A King - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Jul 12, 2016

And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction. This is in addition to the building materials I have already collected for his holy Temple.
When I’m frustrated with someone, let’s take my wife as an example, I typically withdraw. I focus mainly on the thing I’m mad about. I stop complimenting and encouraging her. I think about how wrong she is about this thing and then add a list of other things she’s wrong about. I decrease my communication with her. I’m frustrated.
What about when I am SUPER HAPPY with someone? I am pumped. I build them up and thank them. I share whatever I can with them. I’m glad to go the extra mile. My demeanor is light and fun. I’m also encouraging to my wife, kids, friends and even strangers. When I’m super happy, I’m super happy.
David either didn’t have an issue with, or quickly got over, his rejection from God about his building of God’s temple. In David’s life we see an amazing principle on display. The principle is that gratitude fuels generosity. When we have gratitude in our heart, our circumstances cease to dictate our actions. David could have withdrawn, sulked, complained, blasted on social media, or cursed God. Instead he believed God’s plan was best and went the extra mile giving his personal wealth to construct the temple. It is clear the gratitude he had for God resulted in generosity.
Most of us reading this have more wealth than the vast majority of the world’s population -- how are we doing with generosity? Do we view our finances as something God owns and we manage or do we spend it all and pass along a few leftovers to Him when we have them?
  • Here at Southland we believe God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. Check out this 10 - 10 - 80 plan to learn more about planned generosity. 

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

King Of Hearts: The Heart Of A King - Monday

Posted on Mon, Jul 11, 2016

David rose to his feet and said: “My brothers and my people! It was my desire to build a Temple where the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, God’s footstool, could rest permanently. I made the necessary preparations for building it, but God said to me, ‘You must not build a Temple to honor my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.’”
In the scripture we just read David is told he can’t build the Temple. Ever been told “no” by God? How’d you respond? Someone else got the job. The person of your dreams ditched you. They had kids easily and you can’t. They never have trouble with money and we struggle. He left me after I prayed for a miracle in my marriage. When we’ve been told no or rejected, it just plain stinks and usually stings.
David likely felt like he had this honor coming. He had served God in ways big and small for many many years. Scripture even says that David was “a man after God’s own heart.” A king of his stature hasn’t been told no very often, and I’m guessing especially not late in his career! But it wasn’t God’s desire for David to do this and he gets an explanation. As we’ll discuss more tomorrow, he accepts God’s decision and instead of getting bitter he freely gives all he has (which is A LOT) and funds the project he won’t have oversight of.
Let’s do a heart check today.
  • What are you feeling right now? What is your emotion? What has been your prevailing feeling over the past few days? What about the past week? Where is your heart in relation to the fruit of God’s Spirit? 
  • If we are anxious, fearful, lacking contentment, impatient, angry or something else shy of contentment and joy-filled, it’s likely we aren’t at a place to respond to God’s will for our lives. Take a moment to share your emotions with God and ask Him to bring you peace.

Nathan Head
Executive Pastor of Ministries

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