Tag Archives: God

Into the Unknown

This morning in Sunday School, we talked about the Prophet Jeremiah (chapters 42-43).  Israel asked him to seek God’s will for their lives as their enemies were coming.  What God told them was completely illogical, and went against what they thought they wanted to do.  We also talked about other examples in the Bible where God asked his people to do crazy things—Noah and the ark, Abraham leaving his country to follow God to an unknown place, Jesus asking us to love our enemies, and on and on.  As the students were reminded, there will be times that God asks us to step out in faith and do something that goes against what the world says is logical.  And when that time comes, if we choose to follow Him, he has something better planned for our futures than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

 

We are at that place in our lives.  We absolutely LOVE our students, youth parents/families, church staff, and Wesley.  However, we have felt God calling us to something new, and we know that when God leads us, we must follow.

 

Words cannot describe the heaviness in our hearts as we deliver this news.  We will miss so many people, and we thank God for the time that He has given us together.  If we only focused on the leaving part, we wouldn’t be able to make it.  But we know that God has a bigger plan and purpose than any of us could imagine.  He has a plan for our family, and He has a plan for the Wesley Youth and their families.  Since He is calling us to begin a new chapter, we also believe that He is already preparing someone to come and love the students and minister to all of the youth families.

 

We would also like to give some insight into this decision.  As most of you know, Staci’s family is in Oklahoma, and Michael’s family is in San Antonio.  This means we are almost 9 hours from Staci’s family, and 5 from Michael’s.  As Josiah has gotten older, it has been difficult being so far away.  It is our desire for him to grow up closer to his grandparents and other family.  As we began to feel God drawing us to a new stage, we felt Him leading us towards the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  This will be a great central location between our families (3-4 hours for each).  Staci also has a lot of family in Dallas, including her grandpa who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Many of you also know that we went to school in Dallas and met there.  All that to say, we feel the DFW area will be a great next step for our family.  We have also considered the Tyler area, because of our love for Pine Cove, the area, and Staci has family there as well.

 

In August, Michael began pursuing his Alternative Teaching Certification in Middle School Math.  One of his favorite parts of youth ministry is teaching the students, and we are looking forward to this new career choice.  We also feel that this will be a great springboard for ministry to students in a different setting, because we all know how much impact teachers can have on students.  While we have absolutely loved working with students for 5.5 years (over 3 of which have been at Wesley), we feel it is time for a different pace.  We will still be a part of ministry at whatever church God leads us to, but it will be on a volunteer basis.  This will also give Michael the opportunity to become more involved in the worship ministry of the church, which has always been one of his passions.

 

We have also applied for a ministry called Apartment Life.  If we are accepted into this program, we will be able to minister to people at our future apartment complex by planning a monthly event, welcoming new tenants, celebrating new babies, etc. in exchange for a portion of our rent.  We will also be encouraged and empowered to build relationships with our neighbors, possibly start an apartment Bible Study, and invite them to church.  Our prayer is that this will allow Staci to stay home with Josiah.

 

Please keep our family in your prayers during this time of transition.  We are trying to sell our house, and Michael is currently applying for teaching jobs.  We have no clue how God is going to work all of this out…all we know is that He is calling us to step out in faith.

 

We will continue to pray for the students, families, and Wesley as they are also in a time of transition.  As we mentioned earlier, we believe wholeheartedly that God has someone wonderful planned to come in and work with the students.

 

After visiting with our pastor and sharing all of this, we have collectively decided that our last Sunday will be January 5, unless Michael gets a job and needs to start before then.  It’s all coming so quickly…and it’s taking a lot of faith to resign without having something else lined up.  But we just keep on praying that God will provide and that He will help us rely on Him wholeheartedly in this time.  And while we are so sad to leave everyone here, we are excited to see what He has in store for our family.

 

Thank you to all of our friends and family, both here and away, for all of your encouragement and support.  We are so blessed to be a part of the ministry at Wesley.  While leaving our students and the youth families is the absolute hardest part of all of this, we know that God has a plan.  And just like we learned in Sunday School, His plan is always better than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

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–Michael and Staci

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P.S. If you’d like to read about our decision to move down here over three years ago, you can click HERE.  It’s a great reminder of how God orchestrates everything and how His plan is always the best.

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A Post Of Thankfulness Part 1- By M

I’m not on Facebook all the time, but I get on enough.  Anyway… I guess the popular thing to do for the month of November is to post something everyday that you are thankful for.  I think this is a great idea and awesome way to remember the true heart of the Thanksgiving holiday (Turkey and football are nice, but you get my point).

The only thing with posting something you are thankful for each day, most people start strong and by the second week of November most people stop.  So I decided to make sure I get all 30 days of thankfulness in, I’m going to post all thirty things right here, right now… but so I don’t bore everyone to death I’m actually going to break this into 2 posts –15 today and 15 later this week– and I’m going to try to keep each one relatively short so you can read through them all.  (Lastly, they are in no particular order)

Here we go!

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1.) My faith – It has made me who I am today

2.) My wife – The way I’ve described it before is that we are so much better together than apart.  Staci helps me be a better person in so many ways and challenges me to always grow and mature in my faith and in my daily life…. and we have so much fun together and so so so much more!

3.) My son – He is a sweet little guy and has already shown me so much about life, unconditional love, and so much more.

4.) My family – Since I already mention my personal family unit (Staci and Josiah), this one is for my immediate family.  Couldn’t be blessed with better mom, dad, brother/sister-in-law, and sister.  Also, all of Staci’s family is so special to me.  You hear all kinds of in-law horror stories… none here!  🙂

5.) My family – I know I already said family; this is for all the extended family!  I love my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. And once again, all the in-laws are awesome too!

6.) My job – Working with Staci is awesome. And getting to hang out with our students is awesome!

7.) Our students – We have an amazing group of kids at Wesley.  Love them to death!

8.) The Wesley Staff – While I’m still focused on the job front, we do have an incredible staff at Wesley

9.) Wesley Church Members – OK, one more for Wesley.  We do have some really awesome people in our congregation who care so much about their faith and each other.  What a great church family for Josiah to be raised in!

10.) Our house – Being able to build it from the ground up was a pretty cool experience. We love it and couldn’t be more happy to be here.

11.) My Heritage – Can’t lie… I love being a Mexican.

12.) The Spurs – Grew up loving them, going to games, watching them on TV.  I have lots of great (and not so great) memories with this team.  Love the way the Spurs really bring the city of San Antonio together… which brings me to…

13.) San Antonio – My home town.  It was an awesome city to grow up in.  I still love going to visit when I get the chance.  Mom, Dad, you better never move from there or I will be mad!

14.) The internet – Let’s face it… you wouldn’t be reading this if it weren’t for the inter webs!  But honestly, I love it for the quick and easy access to information and for how easy it makes keeping in touch with friends and family through email, facebook, blogs and…

15.) Facetime/Skype – I love that even though my immediate family are hundreds of miles apart we can still keep in touch through video chat!  And, it’s not like the really choppy stuff from back in the day; we’re talking quality audio and video here.  It’s especially nice with Josiah here so that he can see his family and they can see him even though we are so far apart.
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So those are a few… I’ll have more up soon so stay posted!

During this month of Thanksgiving, what are some things that you are thankful for?

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– M


SAMESTATE Concert – By M

Still trying hard to keep these posts coming regularly 🙂

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Recently, Staci and I, had the privilege to put on a free concert at Wesley Church where we work.  I have never felt so overwhelmed in my life, and yet never felt so rewarded afterward (… well, actually it at least ranks in my top 5 rewarding feelings for sure).

I never knew there was so much that went in to putting on this kind of event.  I wont go in to all the details or anything, but from booking the band, to providing for their stay, to getting the equipment rented, and trying our best to get this thing some publicity, it was quite a task.

I think one of my favorite parts of the whole thing was actually getting to meet the guys from SAMESTATE and Climbing Blind (we booked them to be the opening band).  They are all great people and it is so awesome to see honest, Christian young men trying to do spread the Word by using what God has gifted them.  It is also cool to be introduced to some new music that I probably wouldn’t have ever known about other wise.

Here are a couple of pics from the show:

Climbing Blind

SAMESTATE

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And Some of students:

You gotta go check out these guys!  They have great music and great hearts!  I wish the best for them and hope that God continues to use them in their ministry!  I leave you with this last thing:

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-M


A Year Ago-ish Today – By M

I feel like I can’t say this phrase enough, and I know I’ll just say it more and more as time goes on, but “time flies!”  It’s hard to believe that it has already been over a year that we began the process of building our house!  About a week ago, last year, we signed all the paper work and got everything all picked out, and our house started the preliminary stages of being built.

This was all we had… Smiles and an empty lot!

Over the summer (which was, by far, the craziest summer of my life) we saw our house go up and have been so blessed to be in our first and brand new home!

And here we are a year later…

We have now been in our new house for nearly 8 months!  And I remember when it felt like we would never be moved in!

God has blessed us so much!   And we couldn’t be more thankful!  We have been given an awesome and beautiful new house! And a little one on the way!  I don’t think we’ve posted anything with his new bedroom that we have been working on, so I’ll go ahead and post a little teaser pic (I know Staci will want to do a full post sometime later on).

And now we’re only a little over 2 months out from our son’s due date!  ….so speaking of crazy summers…. 🙂

That’s more or less what’s new with us… What has been going on with you over this past year?  I know a lot of you are having babies too!  I think Staci and I counted up about 14, or so, couples of our friends who are expecting or have just had their first baby this year!  So Crazy!  So what’s going on in your neck of the woods?

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– M


What Are You Waiting For?

I recently read an article in “Neue” Magazine entitled “True Love Isn’t Waiting”.  You can check out the article HERE.  80% of “young evangelicals” (ages 18-29) have had sex, as opposed to 88% of non-Christian, unmarried young adults.  In fact, 42% of young, unmarried Christians said they are currently in a sexual relationship, while 53% of non-Christian young adults admit the same.

Are those statistics shocking to anyone else?  As I read the article, I was just blown away.  The church is openly opposed to pre-marital sex, but there is obviously a huge disconnect between what is expected and what is done.

I agree with the article in that one of the huge reasons these statistics are what they are is that sex is avoided as a topic of teaching and discussion in the church.  Granted, most students hear multiple forms of “true love waits” talks in youth group, but by the time they get to college, many don’t seem to remember what they’re actually waiting for.

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I just read a book entitled “What Are You Waiting For?” by Dannah Gresh.

Through straight-talk and practical examples, Dannah helps young women to see why God has made us the way we are, why waiting is such a big deal, and the incredible rewards of being pure.

In the first few chapters, Dannah introduces us to the Hebrew word used for intimate sex throughout the Old Testament: yada.  As in “Adam lay [yada] with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.” Genesis 4:1.

yada: verb.  to know, to be known, to be deeply respected

In other words, yada is both a deep respect and an emotional knowing.  The same Hebrew word is also used in relation to God and us.  For example: “Be still, and know [yada] that I am God” Psalm 46:10.  And “O LORD, you have searched me and you know [yada] me.” Psalm 139:1.  Dannah puts it so well when she says:

It’s clear from these verses that yada isn’t about a merely physical act.  Rather, yada is a word of intimacy that transcends the physical.  It describes the whole knowing of a person.  It portrays an uncovering and embrace of the nakedness of another.  There are no secrets and nothing is held back…This is the heart of yada.  To be known–just as we are–and still be pursued.

She also tells a story from the Bible of a horrible act of incest (Genesis 19).  When she looked up this Hebrew word for “lay”, she found something else entirely.  This word is shakab, which basically means “to exchange body fluids.”  She goes on to say:

Some sex is God’s sex.  It’s yada.

Some sex is counterfeit.  It’s shakab.

Our culture sells us shakab, while God has perfectly designed yada.  Dannah goes on to explain and expound on these concepts.  She also talks about the amazing gift of grace and starting over if you’ve already made mistakes.  And she does a fantastic job.  Her transparency and straightforwardness are exactly what this generation of young women (and men!) need.

I highly recommend “What Are You Waiting For?” to every unmarried young woman.  I also recommend that you read it if you’re a parent of a young woman, or if you will be someday.  And even though this is written for girls, I agree with Melody Carlson (a teen fiction author) when she says that guys should read it as well.

I’ll leave you with one last excerpt from the book:

God’s call for sex to be preserved for one man and one woman who have not even a hint of sexual experience anywhere else is in context with His plan to portray Himself and His love to a lost world.  I believe the exclusive passion and commitment of a bride and groom is meant to be a picture of an exclusive, exciting relationship with Jesus Christ that is free from any other gods.  When people witness the passion and mystery of the rarely seen couple who are still emotionally engaged with each other “after all these years,” it gives credence to the possibility of something lasting and passionate.  And the apostle Paul said such a relationship will be so rare in our world that it will be called a “mystery.”  He went on to say it will make people hungry for the mysterious, exclusive love of Christ.

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So what are your views on this?  Do you think it’s something the church needs to address–aside from the occasional youth group talk? 

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–Staci

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Please take a few seconds to rank my review of this book HERE.

You can purchase the book from Amazon HERE.

You can check out the first chapter and find more information about the title HERE.

This book was sent to me by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group through the Blogging for Books Program.  You can find more information about Blogging for Books HERE.

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Cooking for 90

On Tuesday of last week, I didn’t think I was going to survive.  I’d been cooking for a group of 90 students and adults at U.M. ARMY (our high school mission trip) for a little over a day, and I thought I was going to die.

I called my mom and left a voice message that was something to the effect of, “Momma, I just wanted to call and talk.  Oh, and I have a new appreciation of you.  Cooking at camp sucks.”

Earlier that day, I’d tried to light the stupid gas oven for over 15 minutes, without success.  I finally just sat in the floor and almost cried.  I’d been to MANY camps, mission trips, etc., but I was way more tired than I’d ever been before.  Maybe the fact that we got up around 5:15 a.m. every morning had something to do with it…  I now understand what they’re talking about when they say that cooks have the hardest job.

I was honestly wishing that I hadn’t agreed to be the kitchen coordinator.  But then I was able to go to the pool with our students…and everything changed.

I walked around and took some pictures of the students in the pool and playing volleyball.

And then I had a chance to just sit and talk with some of “our girls” and some other students on the bleachers.  And it was literally the highlight of my week.

For any of you who have been a part of a youth ministry (either as a student or an adult), you know that a LOT of connecting takes place over the summer.  So much bonding happens at camp and other events.  Quite a few of our students that went haven’t been very active in the youth group up until this past mission trip.  So I was hoping for a chance to really bond with them.  And since I had to be in the kitchen (or going to Wal-Mart or Sam’s) all day, I felt like I wasn’t getting that.

But on Tuesday night, it was great.

We just sat and talked about school and sports and youth camps and Compassion International and lots more.  I feel like God gave me those couple of hours with those girls.  In fact, I know that He did.  He knew that I needed it–not only so I could get out of the kitchen before I tore the oven out of the wall but also so that I could grow closer to some of these girls.

Because ministry happens when relationships are formed.

Wednesday through Friday, I was able to go out and visit the work sites for a few hours in the afternoon.  After we (Michael’s mom and a girl named Becca–who completely saved me in the kitchen!) went on our daily Wal-Mart run (which consisted of 3-4 baskets full of food to get us through the next day), we’d hurry and prepare that night’s dessert and/or snack, and then we’d have some free time.

Since I was craving time with our kids, I was able to drive around and visit the students and see all of the awesome work they were doing.

I was SO proud of them!  They did everything from build wheelchair ramps and porches to replace siding on houses to painting to fixing floors and roofs.  It was awesome to see God use them to bless the people in the town where we were.

Even though I felt so tired before I headed out to see them, it became one of the best parts of my day.  It was as if I was re-energized after I saw what a great job they were doing.

By the end of the week, I was really glad that I was asked to be in the kitchen.  All of the recipes turned out great (thanks for all of the desserts and snacks, Mom!), and I was able to go and visit with everyone instead of just having my work group of students.  God knew what He was doing–as always.

In fact, I’d like to do kitchen again sometime.  Granted, I’ll do a few things differently–like take my own pans, mixers, etc.; buy thin bacon instead of super thick bacon (I guess we should have looked at the package!); etc.–but I would like to do it again.  Well…maybe without the gas ovens.

It turned out to be an incredible week.  And I’m thankful that God allowed me to be a part of the ministry that took place.

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What is the biggest number of people you’ve ever cooked for?

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–Staci

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I Don’t Get It – By M

Ok maybe I do get it… but it’s just not how I am any more.  Let me explain what I’m talking about…

I know that I mention Jon Acuff in probably half of the blogs I write.  I don’t mean to be a creepy-psyco fan or anything; I just happen to read his blog often (along with several others) and I read this post about “The Hangover 2”, and it got me thinking…

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Quick Disclaimer:  This post is NOT meant to be written towards anyone.  It is also MEANT to be a non-judgmental assertion of some of my thoughts.  If you have seen or plan on seeing “The Hangover 2”, please know that I would never EVER judge you for what you may or may not watch at the movies.  That would just be ridiculous.

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With that said…  When I first heard about the first movie, I already had one good reason to not go see the movie: The name.  I know, I sound like my mom….  😦    But truthfully, that is enough to stop me from spending $10 at the theater.  I can’t exactly imagine anything good coming out of a movie with a title like that.

However, I really would like to make this post about more than just one movie.  There’s something I find a little disturbing in the trend of the young generation of the church/Christians.  We seem to be really good at justifying things that we do that we know we probably shouldn’t.  This applies to more than just movies; you can apply it to TV shows, books/magazines we read, things we do on the weekend, things we do with our boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.

I think that’s why I liked Acuff’s blog post so much.

If you didn’t click on the link, his post is essentially about the excuses that  Christians make when they see movies that they know, like “The Hangover”, will be full of all kinds vulgarity, and probably shouldn’t see anyway.  We make excuses like being “relevant” and “with the times”, covering your eyes during the nudity, focusing on the “deeper” meaning of the film, or, in Acuff’s terms, reverse Jesus-Juking anyone who questions you watching it (in other words calling someone judgmental and closed-minded for not watching it, and for judging what they haven’t seen).

I think about the verse Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  And also in 1 Corinthians 10:23 ” ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’—but not everything is constructive.”  I have a choice to do whatever I want to do.  God isn’t gonna stop me.  And… I like that!  I like that God doesn’t force me to love Him, or do anything on His behalf.  However, some things that I want to do just aren’t good.  Some things I want to do, in the words of Paul, are just not “beneficial” or “constructive” to me.

I am a firm believer in finding God in “secular” things.  Staci and I are always connecting movies, TV shows (especially LOST), music, and books (even including Harry Potter) to our relationship with God.  I love to find God in things that people didn’t intend because I believe that what the Bible says about all creation singing His praises is true.  But I also believe we can find these things in movies much more wholesome (great, using another word my mom uses) than movies like the “Hangover”.

Once again, I want to reiterate that I am not trying to judge those who do what they do.  It’s their choice.  I’m also not trying to sound “holier-than-thou” by saying that I have simply chosen the alternative.  The truth is, I didn’t always make these kind of decisions in my life.  Remember at the beginning of this post (which was so long ago that you probably don’t) that I had said I do get why people watch these kind of movies. There was a time in my life when I would have gone (and did go) to the opening night of movies like the “Hangover”.  Where I watched what I thought looked funny regardless of vulgarity.  In fact, I  even owned a handful of those kind of movies.  I laughed at the worst parts and scoffed at those who thought I was doing the wrong thing.  And then I realized that God has the best thing for me, while most of things I do are only the “good” (or, a lot of times, not so good) thing.  So now I have stopped watching many of the types of movies and TV shows I once found funny due to vulgarity, and the funny thing is, as I have moved away from watching those things, the less I have a desire to see one, and the more I am convicted when I do watch one.

This post isn’t meant to judge, just to hopefully get you thinking.  ” ‘Everything is permissible’ – But not everything is beneficial…”

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What is the best movie you’ve seen in recent months (and if it’s “The Hangover 2” be honest.  Like I said I won’t judge you)?  What’s one you’re looking forward to in the upcoming ones?

(For me, by far, Inception is the best one I’ve seen recently (even though that was a while back).  And I know it sounds nerdy, but I’m actually excited for Harry Potter 7 pt. 2 this summer.)

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– M

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Learning… Still Learning – By M

It’s been a few posts since I wrote a serious one, and I feel like I’ve gotta just write this and put it out there.  …This post could also be subtitled “This is me being real.”

Isn’t funny how God will teach you stuff when you don’t ask for it?  And then sometimes he heaps more on just for fun, and you’re sitting there like “Ok, God, I get it you win!”  That’s been my life last night and today.  Let me tell you about it.

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Last night I was so mad at one of our neighbors that I coulda set fire to his car and not even cared one bit (ok, maybe a little bit exaggerated, but I did want to slash his tires). Without going into vast details, I felt very wronged by a neighbor of ours.  I was furious!  And for me that’s pretty big news… I’m usually pretty levelheaded.  I even explained to Staci that I had only been that mad maybe 2 or 3 other times in my entire life.

How many of you have heard the verse in Proverbs that says “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown” or “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD”?  Well let me just say, that both these verses apply to my wife.  Staci has always really helped challenge me in my daily Christian walk, and last night she did it again; so I just needed to brag on her for a moment.

After things had more or less resolved and Staci and I were getting ready for bed, I explained to Staci the anger and hatred I still had in my heart.  At this moment Staci hit me right in the heart muscle when she reminded me that we needed to love that man, pray for him, forgive him, and maybe even take him some cookies!  And I’m left sitting there thinking… why do you have to do this to me?!  Why won’t you let me be mad?!  And then I remembered the verses I mentioned above about “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown” and “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD”.  My wife is incredible!

If I were to explain the story of why I was so upset, probably 9 out of 10 would say, “Hey, you had a right to be mad.  That guy was a jerk!”  In fact, I know I told myself that lie several times last night.  Staci helped remind me that as a Christian I gave up my rights.  Jesus commands us to to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  I think Jesus should have tagged on  to the end of that phrase “even when you’re really, really mad (and have a “right”) to be mad at your neighbor.”

As a Christian, I have given up my rights to follow my desires and to live a life God has called me to.  I, honestly, do feel ashamed of my anger, and, although it took some warming up to, I am excited to bake some cookies for this guy and take them over.  I just hope he doesn’t think we’re trying to poison him or something.

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So at the beginning of this post I mentioned that sometimes I think God gets a kick out of teaching us more when we really don’t want it.  As much as I felt like I learned my lesson last night, I got on my Google Reader and two of the blogs I read mentioned something along these lines.  First, Jon Acuff of SCL had written for “Serious Wednesday” that he had been convicted of judging his hair stylist and explained that whole story, which really hit me in the heart, and then Donald Miller’s post for the day was entitled “Want to be Happy? Forgive Your Enemies.”  Once again… shot in the heart!

So, needless to say, God has been forming me in these last 24 hours… we’ll see what He throws my way next.

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When was the last time you wanted to rock your “neighbor’s” world (in the wrong way)?  What has God been teaching you in your day to day circumstances?

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– Michael


Worry

My cousin sent me the notes from her pastor’s sermon.  It is exactly what I needed.  I’ve really been worrying a lot lately.  I’m not a huge worrier by nature, but when I do worry, I worry big time.  And once I start worrying about something, it seems like everything else just snowballs and before I know it, I’m completely overwhelmed.

When I read these notes and looked up the verses this morning, I was reminded that God is indeed in control.  He knows my future, and He’s going to take care of me.  I really don’t need to worry–it’s going to be ok.

I thought that I’d pass these notes on to you.  I hope they encourage and remind you like they did me.

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BREVITY – STOP WORRYING

DREW SHERMAN @ COMPASS CHRISTIAN CHURCH – COLLEYVILLE, TX

Theme verse of the year: 2 Timothy 1:7

Scripture: Matt 6:25-34; Psalm 118:24

STEPS TO STOP WORRYING FOR YOURSELF AND LET GOD TAKE CONTROL

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1. GIVE – Give your worries to God

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

*Stop thinking you can do this on your own.
*Stop being a control freak over your spiritual life.

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2. INVITE – Invite God to take control over yourself

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  1 John 4:18

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”  Ephesians 3:16-18

*Prayer “Holy Spirit will you release in me a spirit of power, love, and self control. Not a spirit of fear, timidity, and anxiety.”

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3. FOLLOW – Follow God and He will take care of you

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:25-34

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

See also: Matthew Chp 11; The story of Job

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THINK:

Have you ever gotten to the end of a long day and wanted so desperately to simply lie down and get a good nights rest? However, as you lay there you become anxious. Our thoughts are flooded with worries about tomorrow and things that have happened in your day. You finally drag yourself out of bed 6 hours later feeling more tired than when you laid down, and now you are worried about being tired and how you are going to function on top of all the other worries that kept you tossing and turning all night. It seems as if our world lives in a perpetual state of worry. In fact, it seems as if the church has become a place of greater worry than ever before. Yet we read those words in Timothy that we are not part of a timid movement, but a movement of power! The question we have to keep coming back to is what Paul says in Romans, “If God is for us who can be against us?” Those are brilliant words for those who know Christ. We need not worry because Christ …IS…FOR…US! What are some of the things you worry about? Why do you find it so hard to turn those over to God? What is the number one worry that you need to let go of today? How will you live in power and not timidity this week?

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LIVE:

Sit for a moment, close your eyes and try to put yourself in the culture that Jesus lived. No running water, poverty, multiple gods, incurable disease, and a multitude of other problems. It seems as if worry was an essential part of living, yet they
found hope in a savior named Jesus. He was bigger than their circumstance. Look for ways to make Jesus bigger than your circumstance.

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We sang “It Is Well” after reading about the composer (Horatio Spafford).  Read his story here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Is_Well_with_My_Soul Or watch it here:

Then we ended with this

 

Still by Hillsong

Hide me now
Under your wings
Cover me
within your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God

Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know his power
In quietness and trust

 

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I’m SO thankful that my cousin shared this with me.  And I’m thankful that her pastor taught about this.  But most of all, I’m thankful that it’s true–there really is no need to worry because God is in control.

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–Staci

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“Go With God”

Levi Smith is one of our very favorite artists.  His lyrics are so clever, and his music is great.  One of our best friends from college introduced me to his music because her sister was friends with him, and Michael saw him in concert at DBU our freshman year.  Every since then, we’ve both been huge fans!

Most of his songs don’t have anything to do with God or faith.  In fact, my favorite is called “Bitterness is Sexy”, and it’s about being dumped.  The lyrics are hilarious — I’ll have to post them sometime.  Anyway…even though most of them are about other things, he has a few really great songs about his faith.

One of his songs really goes well with what we’ve been going through over the past few months.  I thought I’d share the lyrics with you.

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Go With God by Levi Smith

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Seemed like a chill swept the room
As you slowly broke the news
And shock spread across each face
Disbelief is soon replaced with blank stares
Into nowhere
And though I knew this day would come
I’m not ready to be left undone
And some say that nothing good can last
How quickly time has passed
It hurts, you know
To see you go

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But don’t look to the right or to the left
Set your gaze to what lies ahead
There are trails to blaze and memories to make
And so whatever it takes

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Go with God
If you can’t stay
I’d be a fool to stand in your way
And go with God
And follow ’til
‘Til you find yourself in the middle of His will

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No one could take the place you have among us
Or fill the void left in your wake
And all that you’ve done here will not be soon forgotten
But you can’t be contained in the pictures we take

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So don’t you look to the right or to the left
Set your gaze to what lies ahead
There are trails to blaze and memories to make
And so whatever it takes

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Go with God
If you can’t stay
I’d be a fool to stand in your way
And go with God
And follow ’til
‘Til you find yourself in the middle of His will

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Roll on
Roll on
Roll on my friend
Roll on
Roll on
Roll on

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It hurts, you know
To see you go
Go with God
Go with God

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Who knows what tomorrow holds?
Who knows what tomorrow holds?
Who knows what tomorrow holds?
But I know who holds tomorrow

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And though I knew this day would come…

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–Staci

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PS.  Sorry for all of the . s … the paragraph space isn’t big enough.  : )

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