Power of Obediance

BY ETHAN FORTNER

Acts 3:1-10.

In this story, at the beautiful gate it speaks of a man that had to be carried every single day to this gate called "Beautiful".

The word that speaks deeply to me is the fact that it says that he was "carried" there. The man was crippled from the day he was born. So that means someone physically had to take him to this place called Beautiful. Not only that, but the man had to go every single day.

The Bible may not say it, but the only person I could imagine as being someone willing and passionate enough about getting this guy to this same place every day would be his best friend. If I was this guy, I would begin to get discouraged. I would begin to ask the question of why? Why am I carrying this person every day? Why do I take him somewhere where nothing will change? God does not call us to be successful, he calls us to be obedient.

In this story it says the man asked for things that would never heal him or satisfy him. But it's a place where God touched him. We as believers get so caught up in giving up on someone because we don’t see results. But what had to be going through the mind of the crippled man? If I went to the same place every day and got nothing worth my while, I think I would give up. I would not want to go anymore. It would almost be the same definition of insanity. People who don’t believe in God, tend to try the same things over and over, and expect a different result. Until they end up giving up. We as believers have to be the best friend of this man. When he wants to give up, we have to understand that we are in charge of taking them to the place that God would touch them.

We often get discouraged bringing our friends to church. They may come every week, and nothing changes. But we have to understand the power of obedience. It's not about what happens, it's about what God asked us to do. He asks us to bring people to a place where he can touch them, and when we do, it's on Him to touch them. It's not our job to change someone's heart, it's just our job to get them to a place where they can be changed. Be the best friend that does not care about seeing the same result day in and day out, be the friend that carries someone with you the gate expecting God to touch them.

Even in the story of Saul and Annanias. Annanias was not expecting Saul to be touched by God, he was expecting to be killed, but God told him that he was a "chosen instrument." Had Annanias not obeyed God, Saul would not have become Paul and changed half the world and built the Church itself. The power of obedience can change someone and even the world itself. 

He is Risen

BY PASTOR MYCHAL SEMPRUN

He is risen. These might be the 3 most powerful words is history. First Corinthians 15:14 says, "And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless." But why? Why is it so important that Jesus rose from the dead?

Our salvation lies in the power of the ressurection. Everybody dies. This sombering thought is sometimes overlooked. But it's true. So the fact that Jesus died is really nothing new and nothing special. But coming back from the dead? Now that is something different. That is something powerful. See Jesus didn't just die, he overcame death. When he rose from the grave he proved to the world that death no longer has any power. That yes, through Jesus, we too can overcome death. 

Now this becomes even more amazing when we remember that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that we have all sinned and fallen short of God's standard (Romans 3:23). In short, we deserve to die the death of a criminal. The very death that Jesus died on the cross. But the story doesn't end there! He rose! And by overcoming death, he came back with the promise that we no longer have death to fear. The same power that rose Christ from the grave lives in me and lives in you! Romans 8:11 says, "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you."

So, let's celebrate those 3 little words. He is risen! Happy Easter, or what I like to call it, Resurrection Sunday!

Blessings of Reading the Bible

BY ETHAN FORTNER

 

 

Reading the Bible. How often do we look at this idea being more as a chore than a life giving and encouraging experience? I want to simply talk about the blessing that can come from creating this habit in your life of diving into God's word. Studying the Bible is more than just reading words on a white page, it bring dreams to life, it gives you the word that you need to just keep going, and it is also a vessel for God to speak to you. We often pray the prayer asking God to speak, when really what he's been trying to say to you this whole time is in a chapter or a verse of the Word that he gave the world. John 1:1 states the simple truth that the Word IS God. He speaks through it, and there are so many unbelievable blessings that come when we read our Bible.

First things first, understand that sometimes this can be a hard thing to do in our busy day to day lives. I personally struggle each and every day to say to myself that I need to get up and get in the Word and in prayer. Our busy and stressed minds like to tell us that we have too many tasks to accomplish, that time could be used elsewhere. Feeding the kids before school, cooking meals, getting more sleep in before work, or accomplishing a task that you have been wanting to get done. However, there should be no task more important than to spend time with the person that saved you for eternity. Remind yourself of that daily. Find practical ways to get time with God. Wake up earlier or schedule your day differently. Five minutes or five hours, it doesn’t matter how long you get. I encourage you to get up, get out, and get in the Word. 

Here are some blessings you can see when you read the Bible:

The Blessing of Encouragement The Bible to me is one of the most encouraging things I can read. The stories within it show time and time again how capable and how caring our God is. God shows us in His Word what He does and how He cares for those who believe and trust in Him and even those who don't. The time that Moses and the Israelites faced an ocean and an army, God split the sea before them and destroyed the enemy attacking them. HE can do the same for you. The time that the woman did not have enough oil to keep her lanterns burning, God provided the oil. These stories give me encouragement to know that my God provides for me, and sees the battle in front of me. Reading your Bible gives you reminders of the God you live for. The Bible is more than just stories, however, it is a blessing of encouragement. I would write out each and every verse God has for you, but here are a few you can look up.

Isaiah 43:2

Deuteronomy 31:8

Psalm 23:4

God can also encourage you by speaking to you. God does speak through His Word. Maybe there is just something you have been waiting for God to say to get you through the season you are in or the season you are at, and through reading the Word, God can speak those words to you. The blessing of encouragement to me is huge, because with out it, our human minds would forget we have a Savior who loves and cares for us sometimes.

The Blessing of Revelation. Understanding the Bible sometimes can be hard, but the more you read the more you understand. Unfortunately we can never fully understand all of it, but when you grow close to God, He reveals things to you in his Word. Whether it's something about Him that you just never fully understood, or a verse that you have just never really been able to grasp. There are a lot of stories I've read in the Bible that I just didn’t understand the reasoning of them being in the Bible in the first place. I believe that God will reveal different things to different people in different parts of the Bible. It's the living, breathing Word of God. It speaks and He reveals. The story of Moses to me is going to have a completely different meaning than it will to someone else. People have favorite verses because it was something that they needed and God showed them. Reading the Bible is not only going to reveal some things about God, it will reveal some things about yourself and your life. Let God reveal something to you, get up, get out, and get in the Word.

The Blessing of Relationship. All of these blessings kind of collide with each other. Revelation brings encouragement. Encouragement brings relationship. Relationship brings revelation. Repeat. When you read your Bible you get closer and deeper in a relationship with God. This is one of the main goal in life we should have as being saved. To be in a relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords. The One who chose to die on a cross for my sins. The One who created me in His image, and the one who longs to see me in a relationship with Him. Why? Because He genuinely loves us. For all that He has done for us, I think we can find time to invest in our relationship with Him. It is the number one thing He wants with us. And to be honest, the blessing of having a relationship with God is hard to explain. So I encourage you to get up, get out, and get in the Word of God.

Why I Go to Church

BY MYCHAL SEMPRUN

 

When I was a kid my parents used to take me to church. My story is a lot like most churched kid’s stories. Mom and dad went to church; therefore, I went to church. I honestly didn’t think much about it, it was just something we did. Sunday morning meant church. Sunday evening, Church. Wednesday night? You got it, we were at church. I thought this was normal, that every family went to church. If asked why we went, I would have answered, “it’s what we do”. As I got older, I began to realize that not every family went to church the same way that mine did and that my answer of “it’s what we do” wouldn’t quite cut it anymore. There must be more to going to church than just going for the sake of going. So, why do I go to church? 

When I go to church I am encouraged. The church is designed to be a place where we encourage one another. Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” When the church encourages well, it becomes a place of comfort and peace, a place we can look forward to returning to. Being a Christian is sometimes hard, being surrounded by people who are encouraging helps make it a little easier. 

When I go to church my faith is strengthened. There are many challenges to walking out a Christian walk in our culture today. Sometimes doubt creeps in, sometimes fear, worry or anxiety. But we are better together, belonging to a community that I can share my hard times with will make my faith stronger. In community we grow stronger together and we stand more firm together. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” And Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. 

When I go to church I am loved. God is love. And as his people, the mission of the church is to love. When I go to church I see the love from both God and his people. 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” There is no greater desire on this planet than to feel loved and when I go to church I know that I am loved. 

Now I realize that you might be thinking to yourself, “I have been to church and didn’t experience any of those things”. I have been there too, and I have felt out of place and looked down upon at church. But I want to encourage you to not give up on church. We must remember, the church is not a building or an organization, it is the people of God. You and I are the church. So, If I want to experience a church that encourages me, I must encourage. If I want a church that strengthens my faith, I must be there to strengthen others. And if I want a church that loves, I must love. Rather than criticizing the church for what it is not, lets become the church that it should be. 

Giants By Ethan Fortner

1 Samuel 17: 48-52

As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. 51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their dead were strewn along the Shaaraim road to Gath and Ekron.

 

Have you ever felt unimportant? Or have you felt like you can't do something? Like some one maybe put you down? Or maybe you are like me, and on the regular you put yourself down.

You were gonna do this thing, and you thought you could do it! But someone made you feel like you couldn't?I remember my first time in baseball! I was about to pitch for the first time! My dad was there to support me! But my coach put out our other pitcher first! And he did awesome!

But as I watched him, I thought to myself..  I can't get out there and do that? I can't out pitch him?

And if you know the story of David and Goliath, David Is kinda in this same situation. His brothers are all older, bigger and better than he is! And when the Philistines came to attack, his brothers would clai that they had to be the ones to go, and david would have to stay and watch the sheep. Every time something is about to go down, his brothers try to prove they are the only ones qualified! And I can only imagine that David felt like he wasn't big enough to do it!

Why did David feel this way?

1. Sometimes it was cause of Words his brothers would say to him.

2. It is what David thought of himself.

Never let a friend or pier tell you that your dreams are impossible. Don't ever let you tell yourself that you can't accomplish the impossible! Why? Because even though David had these thoughts, he had extreme faith in God. God makes The impossible possible!

Have you ever been situation where you know you can do something but people don't let you do it?

For me, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I could ride my bike without training wheels! And my mom kept holding me back from doing it! "Mom I can do it" eventually she took the training wheels off and sure enough I was able to do it no problem! But that does not mean to act like a know it all. And all have you know, I crashed a lot with the training wheels on. It was my mom knowing full well that I wasn't READY for no training wheels, and it's the same thing in life. And i would guess that David probably couldn't hit the broad side a barn with his sling at first? But when his time came, He was ready!

Why was he ready?

1. He trained through trial and error

2. He had faith in God

So in conclusion. David was ready and prepared for the fight against Goliath! Even though people told him he couldn't win, that he was unimportant! But David was trained through his trial and error! He knew God was stronger than the Giant before him!

You have the ability to conquer giants! The same way David did.. the Giants of life! The walls that stand before you. The storms that you are in. the Giant will not win. I may not know they Giant that is trying to take over your life, but know that God has given you this time to prepare your sling skills for battle. Have faith that God is bigger, and your sling is His word and prayer. you can defeat the giant in front of you. the giant cannot win.

The Christmas Story

 

LUKE 2:1-20

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM URBAN HOPE CHURCH

Learning to Trust God (Part 2) - Relinquishing Control

By Christian Weed

In part one of Learning to Trust God, we talked about what the process of
building trust in God looks like. In this second part, we’re going to examine the
deeper heart of the issue of trust that underlies most issues for both Christians
and non-Christians alike: the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

 

Letting Go of Control
Learning to trust God is hard because it means learning to trust someone and
something other than ourselves. Why is that so difficult? Because it requires us
to relinquish our control.


If you have ever encountered someone who prides themselves on self-sufficiency,
you have met this issue face-to-face. Or maybe that someone is you.
As a person who comes from an extended family of farmers and ranchers, I
encountered this reality many times in that culture as a kid. The basic idea is this:
“I can provide everything I need. What do I need God for?”

Well, a lot of things.


First, we certainly aren’t capable of saving ourselves from our own sinful natures
and their consequences, and we’re certainly not capable of securing salvation for
the rest of humanity and conquering death. Jesus alone did that. He alone could
do that. He paid that price. Accepting that fact might be the most fundamental
part of the Gospel.


In that way, then, total self-sufficiency is an enemy of God. It’s an idolization of
self. In it’s desire to control, it falsely comes to believe that we can operate “just
fine” without Him.


What a terrible, subtle lie of the enemy that is.


Second, life with God and in His way is simply fuller, richer, and more beautiful
than on our own, even if it comes with its own set of new obstacles.


But if we can overcome that inclination to control, that inclination to a wholly self-sufficient
mindset, if we can come to accept Jesus as Savior by simply looking in
the mirror and realizing that we’re all broken people in need of God’s grace, 
healing, and redemption, we in turn must also accept that Jesus has proven His
right to be the guide of our lives. That means understanding Him and accepting
Him as Lord.


Understanding Jesus as Lord
In perhaps the simplest expression of what is required of us to be saved, Paul
writes this in Romans 10:9:


“…If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your
heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:9 ESV


If you’ll notice, Jesus as “Savior” isn’t part of the equation in this verse. Not
because the nature of Jesus Christ as the Savior of humanity isn’t important—it’s
of the utmost importance. It’s absent simply because the role of Jesus as Savior
is part of His greater role and identity as Lord.


But for many of us, we attempt to have one without the other (Savior without
Lord) in little corners of our lives, even if that isn’t really possible. For me, I have
a hard time trusting that God has a job or position in store for me that I won’t
hate. It’s a crippling fear that has bothered me for years. Its lack of trust is twofold:
one, regarding time; the second, regarding provision.


As a result, in my early twenties, I took various positions seeking fulfillment in my
life that was lacking. But, with every new job, the same void was present in my
heart. That’s ultimately what led me to go back to school after my first year of
marriage—to trust God enough that in pursuing His next step for my life, we
would be adequately provided for. I still fight that fear in pursuing my dream to be
a writer, ironically.


Trusting Means Obeying
If we’re really honest, our avoidance of entrusting God with the role of Lord in our
lives often comes down to this: we just plain don’t like being told what to do and
not do.


Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “If you love me, you will keep my
commandments” (John 14:15 ESV). In other words, if we love Him, we will
attempt to do what He wants us to do, not just what we want to do.

There was a whole show in the 1950’s whose title played in to this idea. It was
called Father Knows Best. And while earthly fathers are never perfect, the
principle of the title is well applied to God. For example, consider this typical
parent-child dialogue:


Child: “Daaad, I want a cookie!”
Father: “It’s 6:00 p.m. You can have a cookie after you eat your dinner.”
Child: “But I want one now!”
Father: “Trust me. It’ll be better for you to wait.”
Child: (reluctantly but acceptingly) “Okaaaaaay.”


Sure, we might feel “fine” if we eat that cookie, but our bodies won’t be as well
nourished as if we had eaten the broccoli and then the cookie.


The point is, despite what we may want on our own, God’s desires and plans for
us are simply better. That doesn’t mean we can’t want things; in fact, a major
goal of the Christian life is for our desires to align with His as we grow. But
because He is God and has a grand perspective of our entire life, He can clearly
see what we are in need of, far better than we can with our limited perspective.


“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
 “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT


If we believe that truth, we must learn to accept Jesus as Lord, not just as Savior
and then continue to live as we want. This renewal process of surrendering
control of every corner of our hearts and minds to His Lordship takes time, but
learning to trust Him in this way is a deeply important part of His process of
sanctifying us—of being made more like Him over time.


This is something that all people struggle with in some area or another, pastors,
plumbers, and politicians alike.


I encourage you to start asking God to lead you in awareness of the areas of
your life in which you have not surrendered your control. Ask Him to help you in
these areas where you struggle to allow Him to be Lord. This is a prayer that He
will always answer, because it’s about giving Him His rightful place in all parts of
our lives more fully.

Learning to Trust God (PT 1) -The Process

By Christian Weed

What does it look like to trust God?

Just like in our earthly relationships, trust, in relationship with God, is built upon the expression of character over time. And, as God has always done throughout time, He will reveal to us His goodness and His faithfulness—His worthiness of being trusted—if we will move beyond the realm of our comfort zones of limited potential, to the realm of unlimited possibility found in faith and trust in Him. 

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 ESV

A Part of Our Story

At the end of August 2017, my wife Sara and I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona from Laramie, Wyoming. For nearly six years, God had called us to plant a church in the city of Flagstaff very specifically. So, after preparing our hearts and minds for those years for what we knew lay ahead, in God’s timing, we uprooted ourselves from good jobs, friends, family, and what we knew and loved, to pursue what we knew was best—God’s calling.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 NLT

Every time prior to our move that we would even begin to consider church planting with an organization, denomination, or conference of churches, God would, in essence, say, “Pump the breaks. Just move and I’ll show you when you get there.” So, that’s what we did.

After coming here and quickly becoming acquainted with pastors Adam and Natascha Kling, it became very clear that this was what we were called here to, and why God had always impressed upon us that we were not to do any formal church-plant planning prior to our move; it was already being done by another group of people whose story He would weave together with our own! And, had we moved at our originally planned departure date of 9/22/17, we would have missed the launch of Urban Hope Church! God’s orchestration of timing is amazing!

But trust isn’t built overnight. It is a value and understanding between two parties that grows overtime. It is a process.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for faith, pistis, has strong connotation of the concept of—you guessed it—trust. And just as God desires that our faith in Him grow over time, He desires that our trust in Him would grow, too.

God’s Picture of Trust in the Bible

Throughout scripture, we see a picture of a God who is a loving Father, perhaps the best example of which is seen in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). In the story, a wayward son is met on the road back home by his father who isn’t angry with his son for having sinned and squandered his inheritance, but instead welcomes his son with open, rejoicing arms.

Trusting God, though, is often difficult because we project onto Him the broken and painful image of “fathering” that we experience in our fallen world. But He isn't like that broken image of fatherhood. He wants you to know that He isn't going to abandon you. He’s not a father who’s always in a bad mood when He gets home. He’s not going to walk out the front door and leave you alone. He’s not going to ignore you when you cry out to Him. He’s a good Father. He’s a good friend. And He deeply loves you.

In scripture, we also see a picture of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who is the seal of of our salvation; a faithful guide, friend, empower-er, comforter, and advocate.

And we see a picture of a God, Jesus Christ, the Son, who didn’t abandon His disciples in their moments of wavering faith, who healed the sick, who raised the dead, and who obediently chose a painful death on a cross on our behalf to ransom us from sin and death (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45).

That is the picture of God we see in the pages of the Bible. A God who clearly demonstrates and establishes that He is wholly worthy of our trust. But God hasn’t stopped. Just as He always has, God wants to reach out into each and every one of our lives—today—to show us His goodness, His faithfulness, and His trustworthiness.

Learning to Remember

God has evidenced to me time and time again that He is trustworthy, and in times of doubt, crisis, not knowing how to move forward, or feeling lost, I bring to mind what God has done before to remind myself that, in any moment, I can safely and rightfully put my trust in Him.

In the book of Joshua in the Old Testament, in chapter 4, God instructs Joshua to tell his people to take and gather 12 stones along the Jordan river, one for each tribe of Israel, as a sign of what God had done for His people in parting the waters of the Jordan River, just as He had done at the Red Sea with Moses and the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt. (If you haven’t read the story in the fourth chapter of Joshua, do.)

And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’” Joshua 4:21-22 ESV

In moments of life where God comes through for you in whatever way you are needing, build a “stack of stones” in your memory, just as the Israelites did, to remind yourself in times of trouble or doubt to come that God is trustworthy and faithful to come through.

But if you’re still wondering, “Can I trust God?” or thinking, “That’s nice for you. I’m glad God did something cool in your life, but He’s never done anything like that in mine,” ask yourself, “Have I ever actually given God the opportunity to show me that I can trust Him?” If you haven't, why not start now? Challenge yourself, little by little, to allow Him the space in your life to do something that’s outside of your control, and outside of your power to do on your own. He will build His case if you will allow Him the room to move.

Know this: trust is only as valuable as the thing in which it is being placed. Remember that when deciding in whom you are going to place your trust: you, or God?
 

SLOW DOWN

Slow Down

by Nikki Semprun

 

Today I was inspired to slow down. It’s a hard task for me what with working part-time, being a stay at home mom to a 1 year old, helping to start a new church in town, and on top of all of that…being pregnant. I just don’t have all the energy to do all the things that are on my to-do list, but someone needs to do them. Some days I feel like I get nothing accomplished, and then I look back on the day and yep, just as I expected, I didn’t get anything done that really needed to be. Just the mundane every day chores of doing a load of laundry (which still needs to be folded), picking up my child’s toys (for the 3rd time today), doing half the dishes…I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a good day, but the list of things that I was supposed to do today just didn’t happen. Maybe that was because I had to give my son a bath for the second time today, or because I am dead tired because I stayed up late last night getting work done. Maybe? It could be either one of those…or (fill in the blank) with any other scenario you might like to add. Slowing down in my life is not an easy task. I am a doer. I want to get it done when it needs to get done, and if I don’t have the time to get it done right then sometimes I get frustrated.  Anyone else with me?

So, when an inspirational mass email was sent to me today to slow down I read it. It didn’t fully sink in, but I read it. Sometimes you need to slow down to be able to see things that you might not have before. If I hadn’t slowed down, I probably wouldn’t have played hide and seek with my son, and heard him laugh for so long he could barely catch his breath. If I hadn’t slowed down, I wouldn’t have had the conversation with my husband about our future, or seen that the flowers I planted are actually starting to bloom. If I hadn’t slowed down, I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to write this because there are still plenty of things left on my to-do list for today.

So, if you’re like me and you have a list as tall as the Eiffel Tower that needs to get done... today... take a deep breath, step back and know that it’s ok if it waits a minute. Do something for you- have a cup of coffee, watch a show you’ve been dying to see, take a nap, read a book anything other than your to-do list. I promise, afterwards you will feel refreshed and ready to go.

I was reminded that Jesus tells us in Matthew that if we come to Him when we are weary and or burdened He will give us rest. I am always tired (even after my 2nd cup of coffee) so I needed this reminder today, maybe just as much as you did. It's comforting to know that amongst the chaos in my day, I have a God who brings peace and comfort. Sometimes we just need to hit the reset button and sometimes we need a hand doing it. 

KEEP IT BURNING

Keep It Burning

by Ethan Fortner

If any of you know how fire works, you know that it takes fuel, heat and oxygen. Fire simply will not function without one of these components, and in our spiritual life it reigns the same way.

If I were to light a match and tell you try and blow it out from about 10 feet away, you probably would not succeed. Unless you somehow had a leaf blower in your back pocket. See at a distance, fire cannot be put out, but the closer you creep in, the easier it becomes. So I say to you today, keep it burning.

 As a believer, each of us has a spiritual fire within us. A passion to pursue God. A fire that keeps us in love, a fire that gives us the desire to share the good news. God constantly asks through the Bible to keep your passion alive. And he also tells you of the things to avoid, that might put it out.

Romans 12:11 tells us to keep our zeal, and keep fervor in the Lord.

But certain things in life can put out your fire. And God is saying in Hebrews 12:2-3 to keep your eyes on him, even when those things try to put it out. Even when sin creeps into your life. Keep your eyes on me. Keep your fire burning. So that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

So what can put out the fire? I’d like to focus on 2 types of destruction. Outward Destruction, and Inward Destruction.

-Outward destruction is when someone or something else says things or does things, to you that begin to put out your fire.

 

-Inward destruction is when you say or do things to yourself, or think things about yourself that put out your fire.

 

Outward Destruction.

An example in the Bible of outward destruction in the Bible would be Judas Iscariot. Judas knew Jesus personally, and was so close to Him. But ultimately Judas let the thought of money, and the thought of power get to him. Judas so easily let the words of the Pharisees get to him, that his fire began dwindling. He let this idea in that money was not as valuable as Jesus. The words of deception from others got to him, and the root of all kinds of evil, (money) took him down a path that ultimately lead him to betrayal, and death. He let outward influence, destroy his fire.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character"

There's a quote that says "Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future."You have to be careful not to let certain friends and family say things that could corrupt your fire. If they get too close it could be put out be put out. Do not let the words of others, disarm your faith.

To hit on the thought of items, You can't let things of this world corrupt you. Sinful things or not. Games, movies, music, books. Ect. They will also corrupt your fire. What you inhale is what you exhale. And when things get to close. It will also put out your fire.Influence is the biggest weapon of change. Good or bad.  

Inward Destruction.

The thing about inward destruction is that it is always sparked by outward destruction. When someone tells you that you aren't beautiful. It makes you start to think it yourself. When someone tells you that you are the worst player on the team.  You start to believe it yourself. When someone tells you that you can’t do the job the right way, countless times to belittle you.You start to believe you aren’t worth it.

When someone abandons you. You start to believe that you aren't worth anything. And these things creep into your mind and you eventually become the one that puts out your fire.

In these situations, you have to be the one that instead of blowing out your fire. You have to let certain things stoke your fire. Such as reading your Bible, going to church, praying, listening to the good people around you, and ultimately understanding what God says you are.

Don’t let the world destroy you, but let the word uplift you. 

Because God says you are loved, cherished, and his chosen instrument.

YOU radiate light wherever I go.  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

YOU shine like a firework in the night. “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philipphians 2:15

YOU are a child of Light. “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”1 Thessalonians 5:5

YOU are designed for good works. "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

YOU are full of Fire. "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

So don't let outward destruction blow out your fire. Don't let inward destruction put out your fire. Instead, Stoke the fire and until it's too big to contain and control, and last but not least: Share your fire. Christianity was not meant to be bottled up, and neither was salvation. And Jesus absolutely will not be contained.

 If you have a fire. You have to build it up, and then when it's so big - you have to share it. And then light a fire within everyone else. Stoke your fire today. Read a chapter or two, pray for 5 minutes or 5 hours, I don’t know what you need to do to have a deeper intimate relationship with God. All I can say, is the bigger the fire, the more light you can see. The bigger the fire, the more warmth your soul might feel. The bigger the fire, the more change to an environment you have. We are the wildfire of hope. It’s time to start consuming what needs to be set ablaze in His love.