Tag Archives: God

Showers: Helping you figure your life out since always

“So Anna, what are you going to do with your life?”

“Anna, what’s your passion?”

“Anna, what are you going to study in college?”

“Anna, what are your plans for the future?”

These questions used to terrify me and irritate me to no end. Every day, someone asks what I’m up to or what my plans are, and up until about 35 minutes ago in the shower, my response ranged from “Well, I think I’ll go out for running back in the Dallas Cowboys*” to “Let’s be honest, I’m going to die alone with 74 cats and nobody will notice until 3 weeks later.” It was a sad, unfulfilling existence with no real direction or passion. And then I realized what has been in front of me this whole time.

The world.

All of it.

The whole thing.

I want to see it. 

If you don’t believe me, check my travel board on Pinterest.

Allow me to expound a little.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

-Hebrews 13:14 NLT

If you’ve grown up in church, or even attended church for any length of time, you’ve either heard this verse or some iteration of its message. We are sojourners and pilgrims in this world. We have no permanent residence here, we are simply passing through. One might even venture to say that we are merely guests here, passing through on our way to the Home that Christ is preparing for us in Heaven (John 14:1-4).

Fair warning, this could get a little eisegesis-y, but bear with me.

So we’re guests of the world. It’s an interesting thought. This place is not our home, we are just stopping through on our way Home. And what does a proper guest do for their host? I believe Miss Manners (yes, I just did make that ancient reference.) would say that a gift is in order. Do you see where I’m going with this? Flip back to John 15, if you have your Bible available (and if you don’t, open another tab and google it. The internet is a magical thing.) and check out vs 18-27. This is the part where Jesus is briefing His disciples on everything that is going to happen after He ascends into Heaven. Jesus wasn’t just going to leave us to our own devices when He went to prepare a place for us, He planned ahead and left us the Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as a gift. When we receive salvation, it is said that we receive the ‘gift of salvation’ or the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit.’ A gift. Are you tracking with me? Guests give their hosts gifts, the Holy Spirit is a Gift, and the logical conclusion is…

Obviously to buy the world a novelty corkscrew and a nice bottle of wine to say thanks for letting us stay for a bit.

Ok no really though.

When Jesus was training the disciples, He frequently commanded them to spread the gospel wherever they went.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

-Acts 1:8 NKJV

And since the Holy Spirit is now within us, our job is to be witnesses wherever we are. Consider it a thank-you gift to the world for putting us up as we pass through. But above all, we are following a direct command from God. 

This is the part where my wanderlust comes in.

I’ve always loved to explore. I love to see new places, try new things, go on adventures. I can distinctly remember being approximately 7 years old, going out for a date with my daddy in his work car, telling him I wanted to go to India. I had no idea where India was or what was there, but I wanted to go there. And then I got older and Tanzania sounded cool. And now I’m looking at going to Bible college in Italy. This dream of traveling the world is becoming more of a reality as time goes by. It is now that I realize that the world is my passion. I want to see the as much of it as I possibly can. I want to meet new people, and hug them, and tell them about Jesus. Geez I sound like a starry eyed traveler. But it’s all becoming clear to me now, this is what I want to do with my life. Not necessarily be a missionary, but rather be a sojourner. I realize now that I have this incredible gift, the gift of salvation, of the Holy Spirit, and I want to share it, share Him, wherever I land.

That’s what I want to do with my life now.

Fact of Life: If you listen long enough, Jesus will tell you what to do. And if it’s really His idea, He’ll provide the means to make it happen, too.

 

*Note: After a few offers from the Cowboys, I’ve had to stop telling people that’s what I wanted to do. They didn’t seem to understand the joke.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Galatians 3:15-25 (SN)

Galatians 3:15-25 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Trading My Sorrows – Darrell Evans
Let’s Worship – Terry Clark
Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? – Delirious?
Once Again – Matt Redman
10,000 Reasons – Matt Redman
Blessed Assurance – Traditional

So as we’ve seen, the Law is obviously inferior to Grace. There’s nothing that we can gain by being bound under it, and there’s joy in knowing that we are free. But why is it inferior? In this passage, Paul addresses that question. Basically, there’s three reasons that Grace is supreme.

1) Grace came first

God gave Abraham the promise way before he gave Moses the law. When someone makes a covenant, a third party cannot come in later and make a new covenant that overrides the first one. Even when the Mosaic law was in effect, God still operated by grace. He never changes, and his nature has always been the same. The means did not yet exist to free sinners, but salvation in the OT was still based on looking forward to the promised Messiah, and the justification that He would bring.

2) The Law came through a Mediator; Grace came directly

When God first established His covenant with Abraham, He did it directly. No third party, nothing. He even took Abraham out of the mix by doing it while Abraham slept. By contrast, He had to go through a mediator to give the law to Moses. According to Paul,

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.
(Galatians 3:19-20 ESV)

God felt that it was important enough to go to Abraham directly. He wanted all humanity to know that OUR WORKS DON’T MATTER!!! Goodness this theme comes up quite often in Galatians!

3) The Law is obsolete

Have you ever read those books of crazy laws? They’re filled with laws that are still on the books, but due to years of neglect and the changing culture have become completely irrelevant. The Mosaic law is sort of the same way. Due to Jesus’ work on the cross, we don’t have to be bound up by all of those restrictive rules and regulations (alliteration ftw!). We are free in Christ to live as He would please. It’s awesome!

Tagged , , , ,

Sermon Notes: 1 Samuel Ch. 2

1 Samuel 2 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Everlasting God – Brenton Brown
O Praise Him – David Crowder* Band
Victory – Gateway Worship
How Great Thou Art – Traditional
Desert Song – Hillsong United

Here we have Hannah giving thanks to God for the miracle of her conception. As we saw last week, she was barren, but God gave her a son.  In return, she dedicated him to a life of service in the temple. This praise that she has for God is pretty cool. She isn’t trying to interject anything of herself, she’s just telling everybody how awesome God is. She’s telling God how awesome He is. Here’s a few excerpts:

And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD.
My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.

The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

A few themes:

1) There is nobody like God. Duh. He’s GOD. I need to be reminded of this though because it’s way too easy to forget.

2) God is in control at all times. On top of that, He doesn’t necessarily follow our expectations. In Hannah’s case, He gave her a child. In her praise, He takes the poor and makes them rich, giving them opportunities they would never have in and of themselves.

3) God is judge, and all will answer to Him. It’s interesting to note that Peninah (Hannah’s rival) is never heard from again from this point forward. Hannah continues to bear children, six in all.

So the really cool thing here is how Hannah praises God for who He is, even though the circumstances weren’t perfect for her. She knew that she was rarely going to see her firstborn son, but she also knew that God was going to get massive glory through it. Samuel turns out to be one of Israel’s greatest prophets.

Take home: praise God, even when circumstances don’t necessarily look perfect; God knows what He’s doing. And it’s going to be awesome.

The chapter has a bunch of other stuff about Eli’s sons really messing things up in the temple, but I think I’ll leave this post as it is for now.

Fact of Life: I don’t care how many times I sing it, How Great Thou Art is still my favorite ever. Seriously.

Tagged , , ,

Sermon Notes: John 4: 27-42

We pick up here right after the account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, and now we get to see the fallout from that. We have the reactions of the disciples, the woman, Jesus, and the Samaritans.

1) The reaction of the disciples.

The first reaction the disciples had was one of somewhat stunned awe. I mean think about it, here’s Jesus talking to a WOMAN. In Jewish culture, women were pretty much at the bottom of the totem pole. They were baby-making housekeeping machines, and that’s it. But they don’t question Him, they watched and respected Him.

Main point: We don’t always know what God is doing, but He does. Knowing His plan isn’t your job. If you knew what God was doing, there would be no need to trust Him with your life. His plan is better than anything we could possibly imagine.

2) The reaction of the woman.

When Jesus talks to the woman, the first thing she does is leave her water pot. Check this out, they didn’t have indoor plumbing, so the water pot was the only way that people could get water into their homes. If you don’t have a means of getting water, you’re gonna die. This lady straight* leaves her WHOLE LIFE at the well to go tell the world what just happened to her. That brings us to the second thing that she does as a direct result of her encounter with Jesus: she goes into the town and tells EVERYONE. Now think about it, she’s a woman. And not only that, but she’s a SAMARITAN woman. She doesn’t have a whole lot of *street cred. Her life is transformed by Jesus, and suddenly nothing matters except telling everyone what He did.

Main point: God’s desire for us is to leave our whole lives behind to follow after Him. He has so many blessings that He is waiting to pour out on us, but we have to let go of everything else and trust that His plan is infinitely better than what we could ever think of. When God gets a hold of us and transforms our lives, the natural byproduct is that we can’t shut up about it. Think about this: your life could be the only Bible that some people ever read. Does your life reflect that God has transformed you?

3) The reaction of Jesus.

So after this whole shindig, the disciples are like “hey, you should probably eat something…” and Jesus is like “Nah, it’s cool, I already did.” Notice here that Jesus and the disciples are talking about two completely different things: the disciples are talking about physical food, but Jesus is talking about spiritual food. Jesus’ satisfaction comes from doing the will of the Father. He’s not into the whole physical thing, His head is completely in the spiritual realm. Life isn’t about the things that are seen, but rather the things that are not seen.

1 Timothy 2: 3-4 – For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Main point: Our will should be to do the will of God. Life isn’t about the physical, it’s about the spiritual. When we get a hold of that, we can experience the joy that comes from living for the Kingdom of God.

4) The reaction of the Samaritans.

So the Samaritan woman runs into town, talking all about this Jesus guy. As soon as the others hear her testimony, they believe it. They ask Jesus to stick around for a few days, and they believe for themselves.

Main point: If we have truly been transformed by God, our natural response will be to tell others.

Final thought: It’s not about me, it’s about what God is doing.

*I’m sorry! I’m listening to Lecrae right now so I got my ghetto lingo goin

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Sermon Notes: 1 John 5:18-21

Finished the book of 1 John this week, so here’s the final bits of information from that. If you’re new to this, my note taking style is kinda confusing, so you can skip to the bottom for the main point if you want.

3 things we know:

  • Whoever is born of God does not sin.
  • We are of God. (Of: source, point of origin)
  • The Son of God has come and given us understanding so that we may KNOW God.

Sin (in context): as a pattern of life, habitual practice.

The Son of God came to keep us from (habitual) sin, to allow us into relationship with God. He protects us from the advances of the evil one.

You are of God, He needs your entire life.

  • Am I submitted to His will in all areas of my life?

Being of God is a thing that can never be lost.

We not only KNOW Him who is True, we are now IN Him through Jesus.

  • Everything comes back to Jesus.

Final thought: Guard yourselves from idols.

  • Make sure that there is NOTHING that will distract you.
  • Judges 17:4-18:4
  • Deuteronomy 6:10-12 –Make sure you don’t forget who saved you in the first place.

We are actively being opposed, there is a need for guarding.

  • Deuteronomy 12:3-5

Understand the Son

Understand the Life

Understand the implications of that Life.

Biggest thing I got this week: Christ protects us from the evil one, but that doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down. We can’t assume that we’re invincible from temptation, we must make a conscious effort to be in a constant state of surrender and submission to Christ.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Ode to the Shower

Dear Shower,

Oh, where to begin? Shall I write a flowery intro? Or just cut to the chase?

Well then. Since no flowery intro has come to me, I shall simply tell you how I feel.

I love you, Shower. You’re the best friend anyone could ask for. You’re always warm and inviting, ready to wash away the dirt and grime of the day’s events. You’re ok with me singing OneDirection at the top of my lungs when we’re hanging out. Not many people would put up with that, but you do. That’s what I love about you, Shower, you’re so tolerant and non-judgemental. You don’t care if I’m covered in horse manure or if I have paintball schrapnel in my hair. It’s so refreshing to be with someone like you. You accept me for who I am, dirt and all.

-Anna

Now if I was to make this spiritual, I could say that Jesus is the same way. Because He is (except for the tolerant and non-judgemental bit… but let’s not get into politics here.) He accepts us for who we are, dirt, slime, paint, et al., and He washes us clean and renews us daily.

Fact of Life: Yoga pants are God’s way of telling us that, no matter how bad things get, He loves us.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sermon Notes: Galatians 1:11-24

Galatians 1:11-24 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

All For You – Paul Baloche
We Have Come To Worship You – Richie Furray
Victory – Gateway Worship
Arms Of Love – Craig Musseau
Once Again – Matt Redman
Revelation Song – Kari Jobe
Praise Adonai – Paul Baloche

So people were having issues with Paul claiming to be an apostle. They said that it couldn’t happen. So in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he addresses that issue. What’s his defense? Jesus. He points out that he was called by Christ alone, and that his conversion was the work of no man.

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

And if his conversion was the work of no man, then his growing in the faith was less so. The “normal” model of discipleship at the time would have been for Paul to go sit under one of the Apostles for a while. He would learn from them as he had learned from his rabbinical teachers before he was converted. Instead, he goes to the middle of nowhere and spends time alone with Jesus. Three years alone with Jesus, in fact.

…I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

This is actually pretty ingenius. God knows that Paul does not need more knowledge. He’s spent his whole life gathering knowledge. What he needs is to get to know how grace affects that knowledge. In the light of the gospel, all of his knowledge of the law suddenly became insignificant, and grace prevailed.

Finally, Paul points out that he wasn’t exactly doing what man would expect him to do after he matured in the faith.

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles…
(emphasis mine)

Now I’d honestly never really given this much thought before, but it’s really a crazy idea. Paul, who was raised as a Jew, and was basically your A+ model rabbi-in-training, would have been a perfect candidate to witness to Jews. He could relate to them, they knew who he was, and they would probably listen to him. But he’s called to the gentiles??? Really? I mean the irony here is just great. Paul is now going to a people where his previous training means absolutely nothing, and in fact it may actually cause others to be prejudiced toward him. But God isn’t interested in what we think works, He’s interested in doing what brings Him glory.

They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.

So I guess that was really the point today. God’s plans might seem a little crazy. In fact, the whole gospel is a little crazy. And that’s okay. When we can’t understand why something works, God gets the glory.

Tagged , , ,

Sermon Notes: 1 John 5:13-17

[Link coming soon to a server near you]

Being a child of God requires a complete transformation. It’s a change of nature, from sinful to being a manifestation of Love. Once we were dead in sin, but since we are now of God, we are purified like God. Our goal is to walk as Jesus walked. His nature should be our nature.

Life and death depend on your relationship with God.

Believe: To rely on, to depend on, to place faith in.

  • It’s a continuous manner of life. A continuous transformation.

Puppies bark because it is their nature. God’s people love because it is in their nature to do so.

2 different kinds of knowledge:

  • Head knowledge
  • Experience

John is writing so that the people would KNOW, beyond head knowledge, Life, the Source of Life, and the Means of Life. He wants them to experience it, and have it solidly planted in their brain beyond doubt.

Matt. 7:21- Relationship with the Lord isn’t just works. You can do all the flashy tricks you want, but He wants your heart more than anything.

Real faith in a real person, expressed in day-to-day life. That’s our goal.

Key idea of prayer: The conformity of our will to His.

  • Luke 18:1-Pray always, do not lose heart
  • Prayer is the expression of our dependence on Him.
  • Prayer requires persistence and dependence.

John 9:31- God hears and responds to those who pray according to His will.

Biggest thing I got this week: KNOW God. In your head and your heart, beyond doubt. Knowing God is a constant process though, and our goal is to conform our will to His through prayer. (See above, because I don’t think I can reiterate it much better.)

Tagged , ,

Sermon Notes: 1 John 5:6-12

Ok, here’s the sermon notes from last week. Heads up though, unless you have my brain, this will probably not make sense. I did, however, make a conscious effort to put an application at the end, so you can feel free to skip down there if you want.

Love is a necessary expression of a relationship with God

Love is produced by the Holy Spirit in God’s children.

God Himself testifies to the divinity of Christ

  • It’s not man’s opinion.

John 15:26- The Holy Spirit is a helper from the Father. His job is to testify to the Father.

3 who testify: Father, Word, and Son

(Fun fact: Old Testament law requires at least 3 witnesses in agreement)

  • Spirit = Holy Spirit
  • Water = (near as we can tell) Father
  • Blood = (near as we can tell) Jesus

God has given us eternal life in His son

  • Son = Life
  • No son = No life
  • It’s an all or nothing deal.

With God, you can either go all in or fold. If you want eternal life, you must put all your trust in Him, you can’t hold anything back.

The biggest thing I got this week: God is all or nothing. You can’t give Him half of your life, or bits and pieces. It’s everything, or nothing. Handing over everything is a frightening proposition, which is why it is paramount to know that you trust Him entirely. If you don’t allow Him complete control over your life, it’s because you don’t trust Him. He’s outlined the reasons we have to trust Him here, the question is: Will we?

Tagged , , , , ,

Sermon Notes: Ruth chapter 4

Ruth 4 – Pastor Mark Neely

Worship:

Blessed Be Your Name – Matt Redman
‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus – Louisa Stead/William Kirkpatrick
Lord I Give You My Heart – Reuben Morgan
The Stand – Hillsong United
One Thing Remains – Jesus Culture

Last week was sort of a cliffhanger (hint: if you don’t know what happened in chapter 3, check it out) . Ruth is left waiting for Boaz to take care of a few loose ends regarding their marriage and her subsequent redemption. Not to worry though, in chapter four Boaz takes care of business. Like really, he takes care of business.

He goes to the gate of the city, which at the time was equivalent to the forum, or downtown. Everyone would gather there to do business transactions, and the elders of the city would attend to whatever it is they attended to there. He goes and singles out this guy (who remains unnamed, more on that in a tiny) who he needs to negotiate with in order to redeem Ruth.

Now this unnamed guy misses out on the opportunity of a lifetime, and I want to look at that for a second. Boaz presents him with the opportunity to take possession of this field that’s in Ruth’s name, and at first he accepts. Ruth must have been devastated by this. But Boaz mentions that there’s a catch: to take the field, he has to take Ruth. He’s not really willing to do this, so he says that Boaz can go ahead and have them both. Because of this guy’s unwillingness to take a risk, he passes up the opportunity (through Ruth) to be remembered forever as part of David’s (and thus Christ’s) lineage.

How often do we miss out on things just because of our unwillingness to take risks? Sometimes the thing that God asks us to do are difficult. They’re risky. This guy said it a whole lot better than I could, so I’ll let him talk:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

So Boaz takes a bit of a risk (although I bet that he was pretty willing to do this…considering his relationship with Ruth and what not) and redeems Ruth and her field. He marries her and carries on her family line. Their son is named Obed, who ends up being David’s grandpa. Everything works out pretty well for Ruth and Naomi, and everybody gets blessed to the max.

The imagery here is so cool! Boaz loves Ruth so much that he will do anything to redeem her. He has to make himself a part of her family to do that, so he does it without a trace of hesitation, even though it was a little bit crazy. Likewise, Jesus loves humanity so much that he came to Earth and became part of the human family in order to redeem us. The plan might have been a little crazy, but it worked. And now, like Ruth, we are blessed with an inheritance far greater than we would have ever dreamed possible.

Isn’t the Old Testament awesome?!

Tagged , , , ,