Week 1: Weird…Because Normal Isn’t Working!

Print This last weekend we kicked off an incredible new series we’re calling, “Weird…Because Normal Isn’t Working!” Why a series like this, one might ask?  Well because we pulled some stats that, according to the standards and culture all around us, are considered to be pretty normal.  What you’ll find after looking over these stats is that normal isn’t working; not at all.  What’s more is that I believe that God has, is and will continue to call us to live as those who are “weird” (different, unique, strange, etc.) in comparison to the standard norm of the world around us. Check out these fast facts: “Normal”, by definition: (Oxford New English)

  • Conform to a standard; usual, typical
  • The usual, average, or typical state or condition

“Normal”, by statistics: Marriage –  (according to: McKinley Irving, Family law)

  • 41% of first-time marriages end in divorce
  • 60% of second-time marriages end in divorce
  • 73% of third-time marriages end in divorce

Debt – (according to: NerdWallet Finance)

  • Average credit card debt per household in the U.S. is $15,191 with a majority of credit card holders occupying 3 or more credit cards at one time
  • Average mortgage debt per household in the U.S. is $154,365 to date, with an average median household income of only $28,051 nationwide
  • Average student loans for college graduates in the U.S. is $33,607 while the average a college graduate from the class of 2013 will make is only $45,327.  After taxes, that’s $2,448 net income, which means that a student would have to work 13 months, 3 weeks in order to pay off their college debt, not including interest or other fixed expenses.  Most graduating seniors will pay off their student loans somewhere between 10 to 25 years after graduation
  • As of April, 2014, the total consumer debt within the U.S. is estimated at more than $11.68 trillion dollars

Obesity – (according to the Center for Disease Control)

  • More than 1/3 or 34.9% of U.S. adults (over 19) are obese
  • More than ½ or 69% of U.S. adults (over 19) are overweight
  • The percentage of children aged 6 – 11 years in the U.S. who are obese has increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012.  Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12 – 19 years of age has increased from 5% to 21%.

Education – (according to DoSomething.org)

  • Every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the U.S. alone.  That’s 1 student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 every day
  • The U.S., which had some of the highest graduation rates of any developed country, now ranks 22nd out of 27 developed countries

Crime – (according to FBI.gov)

  • In 2012, there were at estimated 1,214,462 violent crimes (murder, rape, fights, etc.) reported in the U.S.
  • In 2012, an estimated 8,975,438 property crimes took place across the nation
  • The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) estimated that agencies made approximately 12.2 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in 2012
  • These crime rates have increased by 15% for violent crimes and 12% for property crimes each of the last 2 years

Alright, so I think that we can all agree that “normal” isn’t working, right?! So if “normal” isn’t working, what’s the alternative?  It’s seems obvious enough, yet somehow or another so many of us mess it so often.  The opposite of “normal” is “weird”, and that’s exactly what we’re called to: a weird life; a weird way of doing life and ministry. This past week we looked at what’s necessary for us to take a stand for God in living as one who is weird by all of the standards of the world.  It begins and ends with taking a stand for God in the face of adversity.  When no one else is willing to step up and step out, God calls us to conquer the GIANTS of normalcy in our lives, similar to how a teenage boy, David, stepped out and stepped up against a giant champion named Goliath from a community called, Gath.  Daily, for forty days, twice a day, this dude would come out and defy the army of Israel as well as the God whom they served.  While it had become normal for this to take place and for no one to do anything about it, David wasn’t willing to accept normal and so became weird in his attitude, approach and actions.  It was awesome and is one of my most favorite stories throughout the Bible. If you want to read more about the story of David and Goliath, check out 1 Samuel 17 or click here.

There are 3 different lessons that we learn from David’s encounter with Goliath about what is necessary if we are going to take a stand for God and live as those who are called by God and considered weird based on the bias’ of the world we’re living in.  Here they are:

  1. The ways of the world should feel uncomfortable to us (as Christians).   In the story of David gearing up to take on Goliath, we learn that King Saul tries to outfit David, nothing more than a young teenage boy, with the armor of a grown man.  David had never worn anything like this before nor was he well versed with a sword or spear.  As he walked around in the armor a bit, it became painfully obvious that the gear was uncomfortable and wasn’t going to work.
    o   Like David, when we try the strategies and approaches of the world, they should feel foreign and uncomfortable to us.
    o   As the Spirit of the LORD is within us, is leading us and directing us, the normal ways of the world will feel less and less “normal” to us.
  2. Living for God, we should expect opposition. Is anyone surprise at the giant, Goliath’s, response when he sees David come to the battle line?  Here is a kid and he’s calling out a dude that’s over 9′ tall, who’s body armor likely weighs more than the boy in front of him.  Wow!  Goliath opposes David, calls him all kinds of names and yells out murderous threats at the kid.
    o   The Bible never tells us that living for God, which will always be perceived as “weird” by the world’s standards, will be easy…
    Matthew 10:22 (NIV) – Jesus said: “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
    o   Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies?  Good.  That means that you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
    o   When we live to please God, we will be grossly misunderstood and judged.  The world will always perceive us as “weird”.
  3. We are called to take a stand for God in the face of normalcy. Against common sense and man’s better judgement, the things that are to be considered relatively normal by the standards of the world, David had no business going to battle against Goliath.  That didn’t matter!  Instead, David recognized that God had a call on his life and he was willing to take a stand for God in the face of normalcy, regardless of what people were going to think and say of him as well as the obvious risks to his health.
    o   If we are going to follow God; His ways, His directives, His desire, His will for our lives – we must defy the standards of the world and take a stand for God
    o   Every day we have to come against and conquer the GIANTS that present themselves as pretty “normal” things in our world, things like:

    • Alcoholism
    • Divorce
    • Sex outside of marriage (before marriage, extra-marital affairs)
    • Pornography
    • Gossip
    • Apathy
    • Etc.
    • Etc.
    • Etc.

When you and I learn to live our lives for Jesus, we will become “weird” to the world.  We have to come to the place where we recognize that being weird is not only better than the alternative, “normal”, but that it’s an honor to answer the call to take a stand for God in the face of what this world considers normal. I asked the question yesterday in light of the word that we received from God, “what giant’s have you allowed to keep you from taking a stand for God in your life?” Here are some practical applications that we can make this week in taking a stand for God and in going to battle with our giants:

  • Ask God to reveal the GIANTS you’re facing in your life; the “normalcy” of this world
  • Be quiet and be available; allowing God to show you these things
  • Make a list (write them out)
  • Surrender them to God through prayer
  • Look at your least every day this week and choose to stand against these GIANTS – surrendering each and every one as often as you need to, allowing God to move in your life in standing up to and in overcoming these GIANTS

I pray that you will find freedom from your giants today and that you will exercise the courage you’ll need to step up and step out in order to live the weird kind of life that God calls you to this week! ~Pastor Andrew

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Monday Morning Mind Dump – 5.19.2014

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This past week was phenomenal in so many ways!  It’s hard to believe that it’s over as fast as it came, but our church was able to host the first-ever Mobilized2Action ministry conference.  It was both humbling and incredible; so many pastors and people gathered together under one roof for a time of intentional growth through critical and creative thinking.  I’m thrilled that we were able to be a home for such an amazing event!

We had an incredible Celebration Service yesterday with Pastor Jeff Maness brining the message.  God moved through Pastor Jeff and in the life of our church in a challenge to consider the power of one invitation.  I’m so grateful to be able to do life and ministry with an amazing person, pastor and leader like Jeff.  

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I loved getting to pray over the names of the individuals that God laid on your heart to invite to Illumination Church.  We’re looking forward to praying over those cards again at our staff meeting this week.  We’re trusting God to move in mighty ways through you as you step out in faith and invite your friends to join you at Illumination Church – “The Power of One Invitation!”

I’m reminded week in and week out what an incredible church I am a part of.  I love doing life and ministry with you here at Illumination Church!  I absolutely love it!!  What’s more is that I’m so proud of how you continue to step up as a church to further reach after seeing the mission and vision of Illumination Church (change the way people view God | real and relevant in reaching people with the light of Christ) fulfilled here in our community.  Keep it up, church!  The best is yet to come…

-Pastor Andrew

Hello! My name is Sarcasm

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Hello!  My name is Sarcasm
This issue has been on my mind for the last two weeks. Today it wrecked me!
I’ve been identified as funny, quick-witted, and sarcastic for the majority of my adult life. I’ve taken great pride in bringing people to tears with laughter. I’ve especially enjoyed occasionally catching someone off-guard after taking a drink of something and resulting in spraying the contents of their mouth EVERYWHERE. Classic.
Wikipedia defines Sarcasm as “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark, a bitter gibe or taunt”.
Speechless!
This is what I’ve been proud of?! A tool of destruction, now a characteristic making up what others call “me”. Is this the ME I’ve wanted to be? Is this the ME I’ve been called to be? This response was followed by frantically trying to remember any time my words may have hurt or caused insecurity in someone. I was pretty successful, but as the minutes went by I realized something. Even if I had the ability to remember each instance and reach out to them and apologize, how many were able to mask their wounds until they escaped my presence? How many?
I immediately went to Ephesians 4 where I found the following verses.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29)
“Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes–these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.” (Ephesians 5:4)
Read them again and ask yourself where you think sarcasm fits into your life. How about your ministry? How about your relationships? I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now. It DOESNT! We know by these passages that our words are to be used to encourage others. The opposite is, as 5:4 states, “..not for you”. 
Now stay with me here.
 I AM THE WORST OFFENDER!
I have been in ministry for 7 years now. A worship leader, youth volunteer, and now a worship pastor. I have been sarcastic with students, adults, pastors; you name it. It brings me to tears to think that students may be afraid to confide in me because of my “humor”. To be apart of a ministry that promotes a welcoming and loving environment and then act the way I have, leaves me full of shame and regret, but here is the beauty in all of this. GRACE. I have the opportunity to be the change I seek; to stand and fight the social parasite I helped create.
Jesus did not come to earth to condemn us, but to save us. This truth and the love that we see through it applies to this situation as well. He used a tragedy (used, not caused) to open my eyes to an area of my life that needs to be brought to light and to be battled for change.
I have contacted many friends who I love and respect asking them to hold me accountable and to also partner with me in eradicating sarcasm from our ministries and from our lives.
Will you partner with me?
Will you too choose to stand and fight for change?
-Pastor Brian

Shells & Starfish

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If you’re like me, then we have these two things in common: one – you’re ridiculously good looking…and two – you seem to always have a full plate; not in the second helpings-food lover way (I don’t eat very much), but in the sense that I seem to constantly have more going on than I know what to do with.
Maybe your full plate is portioned out evenly across obligations such as work and daily commutes, activities (soccer, dance, or softball games), family time, and eating & sleeping. Regardless, that plate is full. You’re maxed out!  Anything more slips right off the plate or clears another item or thing from its position. Regardless, both lead to the same outcome and that is that you end the day with a mess on floor. Alright, alright… you get the point with the plate. But hey, if you can honestly tell yourself you weren’t seeing the vast imagery of a loaded plate in your mind while reading this, then go ahead, I give you permission to stop reading (not really).
Back on point…
Now, did you notice that I left out not only time at church, but daily devotionals and prayer altogether?
So here I am. A fully loaded plate full of wonderful and God-honoring activities yet still lacking in the very things that keep me well connected to my God. Now I’m sure that most of us have pondered this and have wanted to do a daily devotional and to be in Christ-centered small-groups, LifeGroups, and bible studies, and to do as we are called; to pray without ceasing. But HOW do we fight for change?
It’s time to re-learn the word “No”. This simple two letter word begins to act as a buffer between good things and the great things. By saying no, we can reclaim time for rest, time for reflection on God’s word, and time for speaking with our God who has been patiently waiting for us to “fit” him back into our days.
I’m reminded of a story that has stuck with me for years now. A boy is walking on the beach with his parents collecting broken sea shells. His hands are full of the broken pieces when he comes upon a rock with a large starfish on it. Instead of immediately picking up the starfish and taking it with him, he simply stands there and looks discouraged. When his parents ask him what’s wrong and why he doesn’t pick up the starfish, he begins to cry, “My hands are full of sea shells and I can’t pick it up.”
It’s time to cash in our shells for starfish.
What are some things that you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to the more important things in life?
What steps can you take toward clearing some room on your plate?
Is God at the center of your plate or is he even on your plate at all?
– Pastor Brian

Monday Musings (4.28.14)

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This last week we picked up in our “The Power of One” series and looked at The Power of One Step.  Here are a few thoughts that I’d like to revisit from yesterday’s message:

  1. In order for us to experience the power of one step, our steps must be intentional. (Mt 14:22,23)
    Jesus modeled a life and relationship with God that included times of solitude dedicated to prayer.  This was never more pronounced than before any major event, happening or event in the life of Jesus or his ministry.Before we make decisions and take steps toward what we feel God might be calling us to, we absolutely MUST make time with God, seeking His face, a priority in order for us to really be intentional about each step we take.
  2. Fear is the number one reason that people don’t step up or step out in faith. (Mt 14:24-30)
    Money, reasoning, opportunities, etc.  These are just some of the barriers that stand in our way and keep us from pursuing the God-sized dreams in our life.  The reality is that these all pale in comparison to fear.  Fear is the biggest setback we often face when it comes to taking our first steps toward anything.
    In order for us to be effective in stepping into what God is calling us to, we must both address and choose to overcome our fears.
  3. As long as our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the impossible becomes possible. (Mt 14:31,32)
    Seriously?!  Peter walked on water.  That’s impossible according to the standards of this world.  Yet we serve a God that isn’t confined by the finite thinking of humanity.  No!  We live for a God who is all about the possible in the impossible.
    As long as our eyes are fixed on Jesus and not on the things of this work, anything becomes possible in and through Him!

So here are 3 questions that I think we ought to be wrestling with this week:

  1. What “mile” (opportunity) is waiting for you to take the first step?
  2. What storms of life have you allowed to hold you back from stepping out in faith?
  3. What step do you need to take right now, today, in this moment, to begin the journey that God has in store for you?

“The journey of every mile begins with one step.”  There IS power in one step!  So go on and step out in faith today!!

Here’s what I’m excited about from this past week…

  • An amazing community! It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly welcoming and friendly the people here at Illumination Church are.  Just blows my mind!
  • IC volunteers are second to none.  I am so incredibly blessed by the way the people of our church step up time and again to give of themselves; their time, their experiences, their gifts and more.
  • The way the Spirit of God is moving in and through Illumination Church.  It’s absolutely outstanding to be a part of what God is doing both in spirit and in breadth.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this coming week…

  • I’m looking forward to this weekend’s message; a message focused on the power of one meal.  I can hardly wait to experience communion for the first time in our new Burnsville campus.
  • I’m excited to spend time connecting with our volunteers and leaders as we dream of ways to continue to execute our mission and vision within our new community.
  • I’m thrilled to spend time reading, processing and praying.

May the grace and the peace of God be evident in your life as you seek the face of God and desire to grow in knowledge, in understanding and in your relationship with Jesus this week!

-Pastor Andrew

 

Monday Musing (4.21.14)

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Yesterday was AWESOME!  Seriously, I can’t think of much better than celebrating an empty tomb and a resurrected Christ.  What’s more is that I can hardly imagine experiencing this celebration any other place than with Illumination Church.

Here are some of my reflections from yesterday:

  • The tomb is EMPTY!
  • Jesus is ALIVE!!
  • In Him we, too, are made ALIVE!!!
  • 7 people responded to the gospel and gave their lives to Jesus!
  • 9 people in all responded to commit or recommit their lives to Christ!\
  • I’m totally excited about our new, now current series, “The Power of One”
  • One choice can change everything! (from yesterday’s message)
  • We moved to 2 services: 9 & 10:45
  • The band was phenomenal in leading the church to a place of reflection and worship.  Never hurts to kick things off with a little Journey, “Don’t Stop Believing”.
  • IC has the most incredible volunteers and leaders!
  • I’m reminded once again that one of the things that sets IC apart is the people; an amazing community that takes doing life and ministry together to a whole new level.
  • Healing.  For many, yesterday was a day of healing in many ways.

Here are a few of the things that I’m looking forward to as a church this week:

  • The message this weekend, “The Power of One Step!”
  • IGNITE kicks off on Sunday night (a practical and hands on look at the Bible) – Sunday night from 6 to 7:30 @ our IC Cafe
  • Connecting with and getting to know some of the many new faces and families here at IC.
  • Continuing to connect with the community around our new campus in Burnsville

I’m praying that the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of God in our lives will be evident this week both in word and deed, that people might see Christ in and through us as individuals and as a church.

Until all hear,

Andrew

Monday Musing (4.14.2014)

I’m sitting in my office on Monday afternoon, nearly 3:30pm in the afternoon, and still can’t get over what we’ve experienced recently as a church.  Wow!  Seriously?!  It’s rare, but I find myself near speechless…  Nah!

Here are a few thoughts that are bouncing around in my brain from yesterday:

  • The Campus: When I look around at our new Burnsville Campus, it never ceases to amaze me how many people have stepped up and helped to make our new worship space what it is – warm, inviting, exciting, relevant and so much more.  I’m blessed by the countless incredible volunteers who have absolutely poured it out for Jesus in an effort to make His name famous in our new building.
  • The Music: Yesterday was the first time we’ve experienced live music from a full band and it was nothing short of awesome!  Pastor Brian has done an outstanding job recruiting, training and leading musicians and vocalists, all in an effort to glorify the Name of God and in leading people to a place of reflection and adoration through music.  Image
  • The People: I serve the greatest church in Minnesota…really!  No, REALLY!!  I cannot imagine a more exceptional group of men, women and children to do life and ministry with.  If you’re reading this and you’re a part of Illumination Church, that means YOU!  What’s more is that I am so encouraged by how many new people God is drawing to IC.  I’m looking forward to our continued growth in life and ministry as we continue to be a church on purpose, with a purpose and for a purpose.  
  • The Volunteers: From IC Kids to our Greeters and Parking Attendants and more, IC is blessed by the people who have stepped up to make our ministries possible; to make them what they are.  God is using the volunteers here at our church to help change the way people view God.  Thank you for those within Illumination Church who continue to step up and pour it out.  It matters!
  • WHYIC?: Talk about impact – our WHYIC? campaign is being seen far and wide.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share IC with our new community and beyond and to be able to engage people where they’re at, inviting them to partner with us in life and ministry and all of the reasons why.  From the tee-shirts to the invites, the black “goodie-bags” and more, I can hardly wait to see how God uses this campaign to reach people.  It’s going to be awesome!

This week I’m looking forward to:

  • Going to 2 services on Sunday morning.  We’ve added a second service and changed the times of our Celebration Services for convenience and in order to accommodate for the growth that we’re expecting as well as to allow our amazing volunteers an opportunity to serve as well as attend a Celebration Service without missing a beat.
  • Starting our new “The Power One” series.  It’s going to be phenomenal!  I’m so excited to kick things off this coming weekend in sharing about one of the most powerful numbers in existence: the number 1.  
  • Encountering Christ.  I cannot begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to encountering Christ with the people of our church as well as with the people that will come and be a part of IC for the first time.  Looking forward to being a part of what God’s going to do this weekend.

So there you have it; some things that are bouncing around in my head on a Monday afternoon.  

I pray that you find encouragement in who you are in Christ.  I pray that God’s presence is both felt and in experienced in your life this week and that you others will see Jesus in you and me.  

Until all hear,

Pastor Andrew

Red Dot Faith

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If you have an iPhone, like me, you’re probably used to seeing those red notification dots on your screen indicating that the app requires attention. If you’re anything like me, they tend to build up and the numbers inside those pesky red dots continues to grow. Eventually, my screen looks like it has a full-blown case of chicken pox. I hate it. Those dots all represent things that I need to do. Eventually, I have to take intentional time out of my day to go through them all until my screen is clear again. Victory is usually short-lived, though, and the little red bubbles of uncompleted tasks start showing up like they never really left.
 
The one that I have the hardest time with, though, is the one on my Bible app. I try to keep up with reading plans and devotions. I set reminders in the app so I don’t forget. When the red dot on the Bible is present for more than a couple hours, I feel like I’m neglecting God. It’s almost like that red dot represents God sitting there on my phone screen saying “Hey, remember me? Why don’t you open this app?!” The guilt of letting that dot remain on my screen builds. I get anxious, like I’m failing some way. I could turn off the notifications, but then I imagine I’d feel even guiltier. The longer it remains, the more anxious I get. My stress level builds, like I’m going to somehow lose my salvation if I let the number inside the bubble get any greater than “1”. Sometimes I go into the app just to appease the little red dot. “Whew,” I think to myself, “I can’t be that bad of a Christian- look, my red bubble is gone!”.
 
I’ve somehow come to equate my closeness to God with a red dot my phone screen. No dot = good Christian. Red dot with number “1” in it = Average Christian who better attend to his Bible app or face God’s impending wrath. Red dot with any number greater than “1” = The apocalypse will surely happen, and it will be my fault.
 
Today in my reading (no red dot!) I came across a simple verse that spoke amazing truth about the work of Christ on the cross and what it means for us. Peter stands up in Acts 15: 11 and says “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” Undeserved grace. There it is: a 2-word answer to my feelings of inadequacy when I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job for God. Undeserved– we can’t DO anything to earn it. If I read my Bible 50x a day and memorize 180,000 verses, I’m no more deserving of His grace than anyone else. Grace– a favor, a gift, extended to me out of kindness. Nothing more. No strings attached. If I’m willing to accept it, He’s willing to give it.
 
I don’t mean this to be an excuse for not going to church, or not reading your Bible, or not praying, or not paying attention to God in any other way. It was a reminder to me, and hopefully to you as well, that no one can DO anything to earn God’s grace and salvation. We simply have to accept it. Understanding that His grace is available to us not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what HE did through Christ, allows us to live without the burden of inadequacy. We won’t be perfect. We will stumble and fall. We’ll have times when we feel directly connected to God. We may have times when we feel completely apart from Him. Regardless of where we are, I am confident that He remains right by our side, continually offering the amazing, undeserved gift of His grace. We just need to accept it.
 
Jason Reynolds | IC Youth Pastor

HEROES – Final week

This past week we buttoned up our series that we called HEROES; a look at various characteristics of a biblical hero.  What a great series and what an awesome opportunity for me to share one of my favorite stories and characters in all of the Bible, Ruth.

This short 4-Chapter book is a truly amazing, heroic story that includes great love, loyalty and commitment, faithfulness and truth, all tied up with a beautiful redemption message in the end.  It almost reads like a romance novel of old, yet is full of suspense and action.  One can’t help but be drawn in to the story and the lives of the characters in the story, women like Orpah and Naomi and Ruth.  Awesome!

If you haven’t already I encourage you to take some time this week and read or listen to Ruth in its entirety with a heart open to loving in a whole new, God-focused, selfless way.  

At the end of the sermon on Sunday I posed a few questions for your consideration.  In this short blog I want to take just a minute and reflect on these questions:

QUESTION 1 – Where are you being asked to step out in faith and love someone else in a completely selfless way?  In what specific ways could you show that love? 

Could you fight the need to be right, and instead bite your tongue when dealing with someone you care about?  Maybe you’re being shown someone who needs to be served in a specific way that you know you can serve, but you’ve been struggling with finding the time or energy.    

QUESTION 2 – Where do you hide behind a mask of “this world” vs. showing your authentic you?

Do you really tell anyone that 10% that you need help or struggle with?  Who holds you accountable to living life the way that God calls you to?  Are you always “alright, fine or great”?   Who in your faith community do you connect with and take down the walls of the world?  Reach out in faith that someone else is going to love you selflessly and is not only willing but eager to walk along side you in your journey and lift you up in your pain.  

 

QUESTION 3 – Where do you need to exercise more complete faith in God as your redeemer?  

Do you live daily with the knowledge that you have already been redeemed?   Do you know in your heart that the price for your life has already been paid through the perfect life and death of our Christ Jesus?   Do you fully understand that and what Paul writes in Romans 8:28,”And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV).   If He is leading you, calling you, or asking something of you; He already has a plan that includes caring for your every need. 

That about wraps up my thoughts for this week.  I invite you to share your thoughts, findings and insights as well.  

Have a blessed week!

~Carrie Guarrero 

 

“HEROES” – Week 2

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“Chasing Lions” – Sunday, November 17th, 2013

This past Sunday we picked up week 2 of our series, HEROES, an intentional look into some of the qualities and characteristics of a hero.  And while we understand and could all agree that a hero is readily defined as, “an ordinary person capable of extraordinary feats for the betterment of others”, there are some very specific attributes, which contribute to better understanding who or rather, what a hero is.

One key component of a hero is a lion chaser; someone who is willing to face their lions (fears) head on – not only face their lions, but chase them down into a pit and go to battle with their lions.

Check out the message, “Chasing Your Lions”, here…

There are really 2 main ideas that we need to remember when it comes to heroic attributes in terms of chasing and facing our lions:

#1 – Lion Chasers Acknowledge Their Lions
While most people are good with running from lions, even avoiding them all together, lion chasers are intentional about acknowledging the lions in their lives.  In this case lions are representative of the fears we have in life: fear of finances, fear of failure, fear of relationships, fear of faith, etc. and while it’s sensible for people to run in the opposite direction from man-eating lions, one of the characteristics of a hero is someone who is willing to face their lions head on, acknowledge their fear and be intentional about dealing with them, one at time.

What’s keeping you from acknowledging the lions in your life?

#2 – Lion Chasers Are Risk Takers
It makes sense that coming across a lion in the wilderness short of an intentional safari or without the confines of a cage inside some zoo, that coming face-to-face with a lion could be considered pretty unlucky.  Think about it.  Lions in their natural habitat are called “king of the beasts” for a reason.  Now insert man into the king of the beasts stomping grounds and it’s understandable how one might think this type of scenario to be pretty crappy.

Not lion chasers.  No!  Instead, they lock eyes with the lion (fear) and actively chase it down.  Granted, this is a huge risk, right?  But what’s a greater risk: chasing down the lion and doing battle with it or remaining paralyzed for much of your existence due to the fear that holds you captive?  I’ll take my chances with facing my fears any day.  Yes.  Chasing lions is risky business, but in Christ all things are possible and we are not called to live in fear outside of the fear of the Lord.  All other fears are unnatural and learned behaviors.

God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but one of courage and love and sound mind.  It’s up to us to live in the fear of the Lord and the freedom that comes from knowing and living for Him.

What’s keeping you from actively taking a risk in the Lord?