Thursday, February 28, 2013

Struggling to change

Why do so many people struggle to change, to grow, to thrive? Lately I've felt discouraged. I'm wondering if our church is creating a place that helps people really grow, really change, really become followers of Jesus Christ. We want to create a church that encourages people to come as they are.

But all of us are not who we need or want to be. We know we could be better followers of Jesus Christ. We could be more disciplined, we could be more loving, we could be more obedient. We all have room for improvement and growth. People are like diapers, they need to be changed often. And for the same reason!

God accepts us as is but he loves us too much to leave us there. So God gives us grace to grow.

So are you growing? Are you changing? Or are you content to live as you currently are?

Some of us are comfortable living in sin, missing the mark God has for our lives. Some of us are controlled by our lusts for happiness, pleasure, possessions...addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, success, gossip, anxiety...worshiping idols of family, work, money, power.

Are you putting on a good front for others but you know you aren't growing? You know you aren't free. You know you are stagnant. You know you are compromising, justifying your sin to God. Seriously?

Some believe that God's grace is a place for us to wipe our feet. Some believe in cheap grace which costs us and God nothing. But grace is costly. It cost God the Father his Son dying on the cross. So as you look at Christ on the cross, are you really going to say, "Thanks Jesus! Now I'm going to go do what I know you wouldn't be pleased with but hey, I'll be back in a bit to ask for forgiveness."

I know when my kids act that way there are consequences. Don't you think your Heavenly Father will have some consequences for you? When my kids pursue things that are contrary to my standards for them, our relationship suffers. I love them unconditionally. Nothing they will ever do will make me love them less. But our fellowship suffers when they make sinful choices.

So what should we do? How about a personal inventory. Look at these lists from Galatians 5. Which areas do you struggle with? Pray about how God wants to grow you:

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit,let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So what do you think God is trying to do in your life? Do you need to change? Do you need a spiritual workout regiment? 1 Timothy 4:8 says  "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

So put some practices into place to help you grow. Grab some others who want to radically pursue God and spend time with them. Read the Bible. Pray. Don't give excuses. Memorize scriptures that help you break your old habits. Be brutally honest with yourself and God and see how God will start to grow you.
-- 
Grace and peace,

Steve

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Newsletter article March 2012

The church in America is slowly becoming less and less relevant to people. Less then one in five Americans worship at a church on any given Sunday. Every year, 4,000 churches call it quits, close their doors, and list their property for sale.

Yet if you follow Jesus, you know that the local church is the hope of the world. You have experienced the life-changing relevancy of God’s word and his community. Could it be that the American Church is using irrelevant ways to communicate Christ with our culture?

“If you want to reach people that nobody’s reaching, you have to do things that nobody’s doing.” This quote is from Craig Groeschel a pastor in Oklahoma City and has shaped my thinking for several years. There are many people who do not attend church here in Wray. But we want to change that because we believe that everyone spends eternity somewhere. So in an attempt to reach people that nobody’s reaching we are going to have our Easter Sunday service at Kitzmiller Auditorium. Be sure to invite someone who doesn’t attend church and join us in leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bible in 90 Days :: Day 12 SOAP reflection

The Bible in 90 Days reading for Friday, October 7 is Numbers 21:8 - Numbers 32:19.

Daily SOAP devotional:

Scripture: Numbers 22:38 - 
"Well, I have come to you now," Balaam replied. "But I can't say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth."

Observation
: The entire reading for today contains some of the strangest stories in the Bible. The verse that spoke to me most comes from the crazy story of Balaam. Not sure what to make of the Balaam story without a bit more study.

Application: The words, "I must speak on ly what God puts in my mouth" spoke to me as a pastor. Every week I preach and try to have something worthwhile to say. I seek to speak God's word to the good people of Wray. I desire to speak only the words God would have me speak.

Prayer: Father, help me guard my tongue and be wise with my words. Do not allow my words to be swayed by pressure from others or inappropriately influenced by the culture. Let me speak your words. Amen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bible in 90 Days :: Day 11 SOAP reflection

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The Bible in 90 Days reading for Thursday, October 6 is Numbers 8:15 - Numbers 21:7.

Scripture: Exodus 14:35 -
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this wilderness; here they will die."

Observation: It is amazing that the Israelites would "band together" against God especially after all they have seen God do. Our fears are so powerful and can stop God's plans in their tracks. I fear that I and others could band together against what God desires to do here in Wray, in our community, in our church because we are afraid to do what God is asking us to do.

Application: Do not fear to do what God has called you to! Do we fear people or failure more then God? If we do, could we be "banding together" against God just as the Israelltes did and delaying or even missing God's current plan for our lives and our church? May it never be! May we be a people and a church that dreams outrageous dreams for God!

Prayer: Dear Lord, give me passion for your name! Keep me from fearing people or failure. Let me fear you alone and in so doing do what you have called me to. Allow our church to join you in your work rather then being banded together against you. Amen.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bible in 90 Days :: Day 9 SOAP reflection

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The Bible in 90 Days reading for Tuesday is Leviticus 14:33 - Leviticus 26:26.

Daily SOAP devotional:

Scripture: Leviticus 18:5 - 
Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.

Observation:
Here in this passage, God continues to give the religious laws to the Israelites and the Israelites are instructed to keep the law. To obey the laws means to live by them. This obviously means that the law functions as a guide for their lives by which they live. But I also believe it means that those who keep the law will also live; they will have life because they live by the law.

Application: Our society is antinomian. For the most part we don't like laws and decrees. We resent being told what to do. But here God says that if we wish to obey him, we will live by his laws and if we live by his laws we will have life. This idea, that living our lives according to God's laws is the best way to live, is difficult for most modern day Americans to understand. 

Prayer: Father, hep me to keep your laws and decrees. Empower me to obey you and to live. Let me never believe the lies of this world, that to live however I please is best. Remind me always that following your laws is the best way to live and that it is the only way that brings true life. Amen.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

After the sermon :: God's Big Picture part 2

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Two weeks ago we began our current series God's Big Picture. So far we've seen that the Bible is one book about one person (Jesus) about one thing (God's kingdom). Yesterday we looked at Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:26-27. Here we saw the pattern of the kingdom. God's kingdom is God's people in God's place under God's rule and blessing. In Genesis 1:1 we see that God's people are Adam and Eve, God's place is the garden, and God's rule and blessing is rest (perfect relationships - God and human beings, man and woman, humans and creation).

If you haven't heard yesterday's sermon check it out here

Hopefully you are all participating in the Bible reading program. The Bible in 90 Days reading plan is available here and the e100 reading plan is available here.

If you'd like to use YouVersion, an online Bible, register for an account and use the reading plans: Bible in 90 Days or e100 plan.

If you create an account at Bible in 90 Days, you can login each week and listen to weekly audio lessons about your reading. The lessons are great and well worth your time! Check out week 2 here after you create an account.


Finally as you read, how should you respond? Let me suggest the S.O.A.P. method. Here's how it works:


Read the passage and find the one thing you believe God is telling you that day. Then journal about it using the acrostic SOAP as a guide.
S: Scripture-Write the ONE scripture that you feel God is using to speak to you in today’s reading
O: Observation-What might He be telling you with that scripture?
A: Application-How can you apply it to your life?
P: Prayer-What is your prayer to ask God in helping you to make that application?
If you use YouVersion, be sure to follow Steve's progress and comments on his Bible reading and you'll see how he uses the SOAP method. You can also follow his thoughts at stevewynkoop.net.

The overall goal is to encourage you to read the Bible daily. So start today! Take up and read!
And be sure to join us Sunday for part 3 of God's Big Picture.