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Latest Blog Posts in September 2016

Culture Shock: I’m Possible - Friday

Posted on Fri, Sep 30, 2016

Mark 10:13-16 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus had a propensity for spending time with the least likely people. He visited the house of a tax collector (Luke 9), He shared a drink of water with a sexually immoral Samaritan woman (John 4), He allowed a prostitute to wash His feet (Luke 7), He touched lepers (Mark 1), and He welcomed little children (Mark 10). These were the people in Jesus’ day who seemingly had nothing to offer. So accordingly, everyone either ignored them or shunned them. But not Jesus. Jesus took note of them. Jesus made time for them. Jesus offered them His undivided attention.
One of the greatest needs in our day is to restore value and dignity to others. We all pass by countless people every day who feel neglected, rejected, or worthless. They feel like they have nothing to offer the world and that their lives mean nothing to anyone. But these people are children of God who have been made in His image. They have infinite value and worth. And just like Jesus spent His time with those everyone else passed by, Jesus wants His followers to spend their time with those everyone else passes by. 
What would it look like for you to regularly incorporate rejected and lonely people into the rhythm of your life? Is there anyone who comes to your mind right now who you know you need to spend time with and extend attention, dignity, and love to?

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Culture Shock: I’m Possible - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Sep 29, 2016

Luke 4:17-21 The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to Jesus. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.” He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
When people are asked, “Why do you think Jesus came to earth?” the response often resembles something like, “To get people to heaven.” And of course that’s true! But more than simply extracting people from earth and safely bringing them past the pearly gates, Jesus wanted to bring heaven down to earth, to take what is true of the kingdom of heaven--love, truth, holiness, purity, justice--and see it become the present day reality for all mankind. 
Because of that, following Jesus is about so much more than simply believing in Him and knowing that our souls will be saved when we die. It is about advancing Jesus’ mission on earth and giving all we are to see His heart and desires realized in our day, to see His kingdom come and His will be done--in the world just as it is in heaven!
Where there is hurt--Jesus’ followers are to bring healing. 
Where there is sorrow--Jesus’ followers are to bring compassion.
Where there is brokenness--Jesus’ followers are to bring restoration.
Where there is division--Jesus’ followers are to bring unity.
Where there is injustice--Jesus’ followers are to bring reconciliation. 
Think about the needs in the world at large today. Think about the needs in the lives of people you know personally or live close to. What could you do to bring heaven to earth by establishing justice and working for reconciliation?

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Culture Shock: I’m Possible - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Sep 28, 2016

Judges 6:14-16 Then the Lord turned to Gideon and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” The Lord said to him, “I will be with you.” 
Can you remember a time in your life when you felt like you didn’t have a chance to be used? To make an impact? To stand out? If so, you are in good company! Because Gideon, a man who God would eventually use to lead the entire nation of Israel, felt that way. 
When God told Gideon that He had great plans in store for him, Gideon simply couldn’t believe it. Gideon informed God that his family had no influence and that he himself was the least influential person in his non-influential family. In other words, “Hey God, I’m not the sort of person you want to use.” But God quieted Gideon’s self-focus and said, “Go in the strength you have… I will be with you.”
Like Gideon, we often need to be reminded that God isn’t planning to use us because of who we are and because of what we have to offer. Rather, God plans to use us in spite of who we are and in spite what we have to offer. God doesn’t need our strength. He has enough strength of His own. God doesn’t need our brilliance, He’s wise enough on His own. 
God has all the resources in the world. And His pattern isn’t to use those who have the most resources but rather those who are humble and available. He’s looking for the faithful, the open, the obedient. 
  • Denver Moore once said, “I’m just a nobody who is trying to tell everybody about somebody who can change anybody.” Is there an area in your life or ministry where you feel like God wants to use you even though you are very under qualified?

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Culture Shock: I’m Possible - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

Mark 10:42-45 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
It’s intrinsic to human nature to want to be great. Musicians dream about being first chair in the orchestra, not second chair. Football players dream leading a game-winning drive in the Super Bowl, not riding the bench. News anchors dream about reporting for a major network in a leading city, not working for a never-watched local affiliate in South Dakota. By nature, people want to be great. But as Jeremy Cowart has said, “Greatness should serve a greater purpose.” 
The world tells us, “Life is about getting to the top so you can be in charge, have power, and do what you want.” But Jesus flips the script and says, “Life is about loving God and loving others.” And because of that, the only way to make it to the top in the kingdom is by denying yourself, seeking God’s glory and serving others. And not only does Jesus repave the path to greatness, He reshapes the motivation for greatness as well--not for selfish purposes but for selfless purposes--so you can give your life away for others. 
What would you like to be great at? Maybe you want to be great at photography like Jeremy Cowart. Or maybe you want to excel in education, sports, music, fashion, speaking, entrepreneurship, management, comedy, ministry, etc.  Whatever it is you want to be great at, have you allowed God to make you into the type of person who, if you actually achieved greatness, would actually use your greatness to bring Him glory and serve others?
  • Memorize Mark 10:43, “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Culture Shock: I’m Possible - Monday

Posted on Mon, Sep 26, 2016

Acts 20:35 You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
John Chrysostom is widely regarded as one of the most eloquent preachers to ever live. The name Chrysostom was given to him during his very influential ministry and literally means, “golden-tongued.” When he spoke, people loved to listen.
During John’s day, Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) was the most influential city in the world. And since the people who lived there believed they had the best city in the world, they thought they deserved to have the best preacher in the world, too. And they were willing to do anything necessary to bring that about. So one day the church of Constantinople kidnapped John Chrysostom and forced him to be their pastor. Seriously. And instead of going back home, John interpreted the kidnapping as a sign from God and ministered in Constantinople for the duration of his ministry.
John wasn’t a feel-good preacher; he was a confrontational preacher. He boldly preached against sin and regularly called the rich in the church to renounce greed and give their money to the poor. He admonished them, “It is not for lack of miracles that the church is stagnant, it is because we have forsaken the angelic life of Pentecost and fallen back on private property.” He said to the rich about about the poor, “they are the healers of your wounds, their hands are medicinal to you. You receive more than you give, you are benefited more than you benefit. You lend to God, not to people.”
It’s hard to speak challenging words like John did, but it’s even more challenging to actually apply them, to give our hard earned resources away and to humble ourselves to receive healing from those we are helping. But we can’t become like Jesus and faithfully live out the gospel unless we are willing to become vulnerable to those in need and generously give what we have. 
  • Who in your life is like John Chrysostom and regularly challenges you to give more away? 
  • In the past, how have you responded when you have been challenged to give more?

Dan Hamel
Teaching Pastor

Culture Shock: Prayerful and Prepared - Friday

Posted on Fri, Sep 23, 2016

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  1 Peter 4:10
We know a bit about what it means to be connected these days. Our homes are filled with devices which light up and do their thing when they're plugged in. We’ve got computers and phones that rely on an invisible Wi-Fi signal. We live in a culture which has been overly encouraged by all this electrical and electronic “connection” to become disconnected from one another. When it comes to relationships, connection is more critical than ever. 
What connects us to one another? Our needs and our gifts. We share our needs. Then we open the door to others by using our giftedness to help them at their point of need. In doing so, we help one another carry the burdens of this life. We connect with God in this same way. We bless God with our gifts of love, attention, affection, and we receive… well, everything.
So what do you have to offer? What gift do you have to give? There are so many diverse gifts in the church - teaching, giving, praying, leading, encouraging, and more. One of the best things you can do for yourself and others is spend some focused time discovering and then honing your giftedness. Malcolm Gladwell poses the idea in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Whatever your gift, what if today you began pursuing those 10,000 hours, putting all your energy into discovering and developing the way God has gifted you so you can impact people around you in a personal and potentially life-changing way? The world would be better for it. And I think it would bring a smile to our Father’s face.
  • Is it tough for you to think of your God-given superpower? Spend some time talking with Him about it. He loves to reveal His direction and open our eyes to the way He has made us, why He made us, what He put us on this planet for.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Culture Shock: Prayerful and Prepared - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

...continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8
Remember the Y2K Bug? All the doom and gloom about the coming apocalyptic shut down of our entire culture because of a glitch in the way computers calculated dates? Rumor had it that the Millennium Bug would cause mass problems as the cyberworld would believe it was now 1900. It did, in fact, create a bit of hysteria. But 1999 ticked over into the year 2000 and most of the problems that did crop up were resolved quickly and are now a distant memory.
Sure, a few bus tickets in Australia were invalidated, some slot machines in Delaware stopped functioning, and a few computer systems began displaying the year as 19100. And we must admit, there was a Japanese nuclear plant whose radiation monitoring equipment stopped functioning, but the situation was quickly handled and no one was injured. 
There were people who felt it wise to be prepared for the worst on January 1, 2000. Are you still trying to work through the supply of bottled water you stockpiled for that big day? Seriously though, it’s good to be prepared for eventualities in life. Not worried. Not troubled. Just prepared
One thing we’ll all need to be prepared for is the eventuality of encountering sin in this life. Whether it’s our own foibles, flaws, or flagrant disobedience... or someone else’s… we’re going to either step in it or have it spewed onto us at some point. How do we prepare to deal with sin? Today’s text says love is the answer. How about you? Are you prepared to love? Are you growing in that place? And how far will you go to extend love? Will you give away the same measure of love you’ve received? Spend some time today to be prayerful and prepared to love. 
  • Who is a good example of love in your world? Think about their life today. How can you become more like that person? If you can, take time to talk with them and learn more about the way they live out the quality of love.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Culture Shock: Prayerful and Prepared - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Sep 21, 2016

We are pressed on every side by troubles… but never abandoned by God.  2 Corinthians 4:8-9
I bought a broken down car last year. I wasn’t planning to drive it anytime soon, so we did a Title Only Transfer, which meant it would sit without a license plate until I fixed it. One day I noticed a bright orange sticker on the car informing me it would soon be towed away. I quickly called the number and let the police know the car was not abandoned, just awaiting repair. I was instructed to move it into my driveway to resolve the problem. It appeared the car was abandoned and left to rot there on the curb - it hadn’t been moved in a while, didn’t have plates, had a few rust marks on it. It didn’t seem to have an owner, let alone a home. 
In the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, Tommy talks about selling his everlasting soul. His reason? “Well, I wasn’t usin’ it.” Translation: Nothing was happening in his life in a spiritual sense. Sometimes we wake up to find ourselves there, too, don’t we? We languish in the same place emotionally. We grow stagnant in our pursuit of God. We might have even taken root on the couch, binge-watching entire seasons of shows-gone-by. We can sit around for so long that we suddenly look up and wonder if we actually are connected to Jesus. We wonder if we’ve been abandoned. Not that we meant to land there. We’ve just been adrift. We feel like there’s no way God would have waited around for us. We would have R-U-N-N-O-F-T and left ourselves long ago. 
So there we sit, feeling stuck and abandoned. The good news about God’s acceptance of us is that our feelings have nothing to do with it. It’s a fact. Jesus never leaves us. There is, therefore, no reason EVER to give up in this life. Even in the place of stuckness - or difficulty or pain or sin - you can refuse to buy into the lie that you’ve been abandoned. God is here. Now. Waiting for you to turn to Him. 

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Culture Shock: Prayerful and Prepared - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Sep 20, 2016

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and thankful heart.  Colossians 4:2
Ever just feel troubled? Maybe you’re awaiting the car repair estimate. Your teenager is ten minutes past curfew. The company has just announced layoffs. There’s a mass, but we’ll need to do a biopsy. In this life, we know we will have trouble. But we also know we’re invited to take heart because Jesus has overcome the world. 
Still, it can be distracting when we’re in that time of uncertainty. And that’s exactly the enemy’s tactic. If you’ve decided to pray instead of worrying, Satan will do anything possible to get you distracted. It’s a very real spiritual assault. It’s also war in the world we see around us. And furthermore, there’s a battle front in our interior world. Distraction. Distraction. Distraction.
So, what can you do? Three things: Rest in Jesus, who had defeated the enemy. Be cautious and wise when responding (and not reacting) to the prompts the world is sending your way. And then make an internal decision refuse to participate in creating the trouble. Sometimes it isn’t a circumstance, Satan, or someone else - but it’s you “borrowing trouble”.
Our minds can be very restless, looking around for something to do. Our mind truly believes it has the capacity to figure everything out for us. The world and the enemy merely needs to reinforce that sense. But it’s not true. We aren’t enough on our own. We need God to break through the fog. 
So what’s the antidote? Focused, alert prayer. Taking every thought that comes through our mind captive and checking it to see if it is true or a distraction. The best way to engage in this is to get quiet with Jesus. We attend to God and allow His Spirit to have His way in us. And we discover a deep sense of peace in the process. 
  • Silence and peace is God’s language. Distraction is the voice of the enemy. Take some time to get quiet and show up with Jesus in this moment. Ask Him to help you take the swirling, troubling thoughts captive and help you know which ones to keep and which to let float away.

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Culture Shock: Prayerful and Prepared - Monday

Posted on Mon, Sep 19, 2016

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
I have a friend who thinks about disaster scenarios all day long. Professionally. He’s a contingency planner. I can’t imagine doing his job. His responsibility is to ensure continuity of the business he works for in the event of any number of situations they hope never occur. An unforeseen possibility is not an option in his line of work. So he dreams up catastrophic situations daily, then brainstorms processes and solutions to navigate them.
I said I couldn’t imagine doing his job, but I guess I actually can. Because I’ve done it. Not professionally, but personally. Have you? You know, sat around... we won’t say worrying, but… thinking about all the bad things that might happen to you, your parents, your kids, your job, your house, fill in the blank. And then spending huge amounts of cumulative time thinking about what you’ll do, what you’ll say, how you’ll react to these imaginary situations. OK, so maybe worry is the word.  
Good ol’ Mark Twain said, “Worry is like paying a debt you don’t owe.” But here’s the deal: You can spend an hour trying to think up a hundred things that might happen today, but it’s only going to play out one way. And more than likely the events that actually occur won’t even make your list. So don’t be troubled, Jesus tells us. The best way to be prepared for every eventuality is to stay close to Him. You can take heart because He has overcome the world. No matter what happens today, tomorrow, next week, He has won…therefore we have won. 
  • Do you spend days, hours, or even five minutes worrying? Replace that time with prayer this week. Let worry be your cue to draw close to Jesus. Troubles will come at some point, but Jesus will be with you. And He will know what to do when the time comes. 

Will Briggs
Care Pastor

Culture Shock: Convicted and Compassionate - Friday

Posted on Fri, Sep 16, 2016

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:17)
Yesterday we noted that suffering is universal and affects believers and nonbelievers alike. Jesus said, In this world, you will have trouble… (John 16:33) We can no more escape suffering that we can escape air, sunshine, or darkness, but as previously mentioned, suffering can be a blessing when viewed with a deeper perspective. Today, allow me to share two other benefits of suffering:  
  1. It brings us closer to God. The very best lessons I’ve ever learned in life have been a result of pain or suffering. Frank Laubach wrote, “God cannot get close when everything is delightful. He seems to need these darker hours, these empty-hearted hours to mean the most to people.”(1)  True, indeed.  
  2. We learn to appreciate the absence of suffering. One doesn't learn how to appreciate abundance if he’s never experienced deprivation. We don't appreciate our health until we've known the dregs of sickness. Until we’ve experienced rejection we don’t truly know how and why to extend unconditional love. There’s much learn from our pain, and most of it is beneficial. Never waste your pain.
On a plaque in a hospital in New York, are these words, entitled “A Creed for Those Who’ve Suffered.”
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I am, among all men, richly blessed.
My prayers were answered. (Author unknown)
(1) Letters By A Modern Mystic, Frank C. Laubach, Fleming H. Revell, 1937, p. 49.

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

Culture Shock: Convicted and Compassionate - Thursday

Posted on Thu, Sep 15, 2016

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:14 NIV)
Peter wrote to encourage believers who were being persecuted, yet their only “crime” was following Jesus! Life’s not always fair, nor is suffering. It seems like an oxymoron to say the words "suffering" and "blessing" in the same breath, but those who’ve suffered and persevered understand. Adversity introduces us to ourselves, and we usually learn life’s most important lessons in the University of Pain. Today and tomorrow, let’s consider a few truths about suffering, some of which are quite beneficial.
  1. We learn trust. Job said, Though the Lord slay me, yet I will trust Him (Job 13:15) The deepest faith trusts God’s grace regardless of circumstances. It’s not the easiest faith; just the deepest. It’s the same faith that Jesus displayed on the Cross, trusting His Father in the midst of the pain. When our mind’s say, “Why?” our hearts say, “Trust.”
  2. It’s universal. We all experience suffering; some more than others. None are exempt. Both believers and unbelievers get cancer, die in accidents, experience rejection, abuse, job loss, handicaps, and addictions. Jesus didn’t promise Christians an inside track on a problem-free life. In fact, sometimes the “victorious Christian life” is just barely being able to hold our nose above the water.
  3. We experience love and community. Without suffering, there’s no need for compassion. Without pain, we wouldn’t receive the wonderful gift of having someone take our hand and say, “I’m here. I care.” Two are better off than one. If one of them falls down... the other can help him up (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Are you hurting these days? I’m truly sorry. I don’t like suffering… but I’ve learned to expect it, accept it, and learn from it. And though it’s difficult to understand at times, I have Jesus to carry me along, and you do, too. We’re never too heavy for Him, ever. I promise.
Challenge:  Ask God to show you what you can learn from your current difficulties. Write it down, then thank Him for the “blessing(s)” on your list.

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

Culture Shock: Convicted and Compassionate - Wednesday

Posted on Wed, Sep 14, 2016

Peter begins verse ten of this week’s text with an intriguing comment: Whoever would love life and see good days… Then he goes on to tell us how to have good days! 
  1. Control the tongue 
  2. Don’t lie
  3. Resist evil 
  4. Pursue peace 
  5. Pray 
My Aunt Joyce hit a homerun with all five, but especially number four. As a boy, our family would visit her house in the summers at her farm in Troy, OH. It was my happy place. I didn’t really know what “a saint” was in those days, but if I had, I would’ve nominated her in a heartbeat. Her words were pleasant, her deeds were noble, she was honest to a fault, and many times I heard her say, “I’ll just pray about that!”  But peace… well, that’s what being around her felt like… always. To this day, I consider her one of the most peace-filled people I’ve ever known. By the way, she also made waffles from scratch every morning. As a boy who usually ate frozen waffles, that alone made her a saint! 
Paul identifies peace as a fruit of the Spirit. The Greek word means “a settled spirit.” It’s being able to lay in bed at night believing everything’s going to be all right, when things aren’t alright. Peaceful people are peacemakers too, because peace leaks! Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God (Matthew 5:19)
My aunt Joyce died before I reached my teen years… cancer… but her impact on my life continues, and I’m eternally grateful. When I think of good days, I think of her, and I think of peace. Peter says in verse 12, “work hard at living in peace with others.” She did that, and it changed my life. 
Challenge for today:  Be better at being a peace-filled person than anyone else you know. Listen more, forgive more, and encourage more. Some might ask, “Won’t that make me like some kind of doormat?” No, but it will make you like Jesus.

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

Culture Shock: Convicted and Compassionate - Tuesday

Posted on Tue, Sep 13, 2016

We’re in the midst of the most rancorous and hate-filled campaign in modern political history, with only eight weeks ‘till Election Day. In the meantime, may I encourage you not to be emotionally co-opted by the media? Also, remember that the world only needs one Savior, and He’s not a Democrat or Republican!
The Apostle Peter gives sage advice: Don’t repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech (1 Peter 3:9)
I see three things worth noting:    
  1. Words matter. Researchers tell us we spend almost a 20% of our lives talking, and our words, if compiled, would fill fifty novels! The Bible reminds us to choose our words carefully, for they have the power of “life or death” (Proverbs 18:21). Words can hurt or heal, wound or sooth, encourage or discourage, and make or break relationships. I’m often sorry for what I said, but rarely sorry for what I didn’t say. Words matter.
  2. Words create possibilities! Parenting experts tell us that it takes ten positive words to offset the impact of one negative word spoken to our children. Picture a child who is resoundingly encouraged and affirmed, and you’ll see a child with unlimited potential. That’s the power of affirming words.
  3. Words bring peace. Nearly all breakdowns in relationships begin with unkind words which escalate into conflict, but kind words create a culture of peace. Charles Colton said, "We should have all our communications with men as in the presence of God, and with God as in the presence of men." If we took that seriously, there’d be markedly more peace in our homes, churches, workplaces and lives.
Challenge for today: Today, instead of returning “insult for insult,”  think of ways to return a blessing instead. Speak “life” words this week and note the difference it makes in others and yourself.

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

Culture Shock: Convicted and Compassionate - Monday

Posted on Mon, Sep 12, 2016

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8
In last weekend’s message David taught from 1 Peter 3:8-18.  Over the next five days, we’ll revisit the passage to find other things to glean. Today, let’s think about about church unity, using some simple guidelines from verses 8-9. We might call these essentials for a healthy church.  
First, he says, Be like-minded. That doesn’t mean we agree on everything; it does mean we’re civil when we don’t. Most division isn’t caused by issues; it’s caused by people. It’s more a result of how we behave than what we believe. Unity is a choice, not a feeling. “Be like-minded,” says Peter, then he explains HOW in just nine words:    
  • Be sympathetic. That’s not a high value these days. Observe social media and you won’t find much sympathy… unless someone dies. That’s sad, isn’t it?
  • Love one another. Love is much deeper than just doing good deeds. I think of it as a yearning of the heart; a heart that only feels whole when it can bring some measure of joy or peace to others.  Know who that reminds me of? Yep, God! He delights in bringing such gifts into our lives. As Paul wrote, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him… (Romans 15:13)
  • Be compassionate. Notice he says be, not feel. Compassion without expression is basically worthless. Oscar Wilde said, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” In other words, compassion requires action. It’s putting feet on your good intentions.     
  • Be humble. The only people who worry about being humble are usually people who aren’t. In fact, truly humble people rarely think about themselves at all; they think about God and others. By the way, it’s a process… but even the smallest bit of humility will do much to foster unity in the church.
Challenge for today:  Use this week to measure yourself by these nine words. God does.

Gary Black
Teaching Development Director

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