Works of God

We are thankful that God is always at work causing team members to look more like Jesus. We desire to testify of the grace of God in our lives, and that through the working of Christ in us, you will be encouraged in your relationship with Jesus.

What defines you?

definethumbI’m writing this article as the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (hopefully ending in a win for the Giants). If I asked you to define who Eli Manning is, you may respond with, “He’s a football player,” “He’s the quarterback for the New York Giants,” or “He’s a seasoned eight year quarterback who has over 26,000 passing yards in the record books.” Without knowing him personally, these are the immediate things that define who he is in our culture.

This semester I was challenged with the question of what defines me. What am I living for? What am I really on this earth for? I don’t think these thoughts came from one particular wake-up-call moment. These thoughts have been in process for quite awhile, and this semester they have caused me to define my life purpose.

Author Francis Chan helped me realize that I don’t want an “American-Dream Christianity;” author Michael Emlet challenged me to go after Bible knowledge and theology; editing 5 Questions About Eternity (an in-process gospel tract video series) made me answer what the most important questions in life are, because our postmodern culture interprets life to be all about what makes them happy; and the Lord put it all together through the reading of His Word and the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Because I am a wicked sinner saved by God’s grace, my response is to live my life in light of my justification, reconciliation, and sanctification. So, I live my life and exist for the Glory of God. But that’s the surface life purpose statement that I grew up learning. At some point this purpose statement had to be matured and unpacked or I would coast through life with no grounded purpose to why I live. So in year twenty-four of my life, I’ve unpacked my purpose to be glorifying God through worship, evangelism to the lost, and the discipleship of other believers. These things give me a reason to live each day. I desire my life to be defined by these things. So whether I’m spending time in prayer and reading God’s word, editing a video, hanging out with a friend, or just living life in any area I can have a purpose statement to back up my actions; to back up my existence! So when people are asked to define Laura Kennedy, by the abundant grace of God, they can communicate the very things that I live for.

So what is your purpose statement? What things define you as a person? How will you live out this new life you have in Christ?

-Laura Kennedy

P.S. In case you were curious, the Giants beat the Cowboys, 37 to 34 with an unbelievable field goal block in the last few seconds by Giants #90, Jason Pierre Paul. :)

 

Psalms for Life

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Psalm 36:5-10 “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!”

More often than not I meditate on New Testament passages, but recently I’ve been going through the Psalms and writing down all the verses pertaining directly to worship. I’m doing it for my own personal walk with God while also working towards using more Scripture in our worship services. So far I’m loving it! The Psalms are great for reminding us of the grandeur of our God and His loving condescension. His steadfast love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, etc. These are such paramount, life-changing truths!

I love the metaphors the psalmists use in helping communicate truth. David, in Psalm 18 talks about how in his distress he cried for help and his cry reached the very ear of God. The whole earth quakes as God then flies on the wings of the wind, consumed with a glowing-hot fury as He swoops down to rescue His child. God did all that because of one desperate cry. What a passionate, fervent love our God has for His own!

So let me encourage you to go to the Psalms. If all of life is worship, why not go to the inspired songbook as a God-given resource for life helps? God definitely uses it to straighten out my thinking and I think He’ll do the same with you.

-Jonathan Jarret

   

Joyous Trials

joyoustrialsthumbThis past summer, while studying James at Northland Camp, the Lord starting working in my heart about what trials are used for in our lives. It starts in James 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” God has been teaching me about how He uses trials to change me, but recently He has been showing me even more of how the trials He sends my way are really for my good and His glory.

As we studied James, I was also going through the New Testament in my devotions. When I came to I Peter, that’s when my view of trials began to change. It was amazing to see the parallels in James and 1 Peter. The verse that really caught my attention was I Peter 1:7 which says, “That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus.” So God was showing me through James and Peter that my trials are not just times where I get joy from coming out of a situation, but that the trial itself is actually for my good. I need to treasure those times because of the end goal: the glory of Christ in me. For example, I hate running, and when I run it’s not just to get it over with, it’s to see the end result. God is still working in my heart to teach me this.

I began to understand the fact that my trials are joyous and that they work patience in me, but also, that they are for the praise, honor, and glory of Christ in me. That is not the end though. With excitement I went on in I Peter only to be stopped in my tracks again. I Peter 1:15-16 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, ‘Be ye holy: for I am holy.’” Automatic shut down–I was convicted. I started thinking about all the times I have responded in my trials with an unholy view. I started thinking about my sins: my selfishness, pride, and many others. I was starting to get discouraged, but God was using this in my life to point me to Christ, who is holy, and who lives in me. Christ suffered just like us and went through trials, yet He was holy. “So,” I thought, “how can I be holy?” God immediately brought to mind that I can be holy because Christ is in me. I can trust that He will do whatever it takes to make me more like His Son, Jesus Christ who is holy.

The last few verses of I Peter 1 have been constantly on my mind. I Peter 1:23-25 says “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” My inheritance is imperishable because of a holy God. It is well worth the run.

-Sarah Roe

 

Thinking Vertical

thinkingverticalthumbThis past Sunday morning, Will preached from the end of James 3 in Sunday School. This is a passage that we are all pretty familiar with. We studied it as a team and as a camp staff at Northland last summer. The passage contrasts living life according to a wisdom from God and living life according to our own natural “wisdom” that we have as fallen human beings. The passage describes man’s kind of “wisdom” as earthly, sensual, and devilish.

As Will was talking through the text, He said that when we are living by wisdom from above, we have a vertical outlook on life. We are interpreting this life according to God, His will, and doing the right thing, right now. When we are living by our own “wisdom from below,” we have a horizontal focus on life. We are living life according to our desires and in the power of our flesh. This whole vertical/horizontal illustration of how I live my life hit home with me. I have studied this before, but I think this helped make it a little more clear to me.

The 3 words used to describe this “wisdom from below” are the words earthly, sensual, and devilish. I can conduct my life in an earthly way, living horizontally according to only what I can see. I can conduct my life sensually, living horizontally according to only what I feel. I can conduct my life devilishly, living horizontally by allowing myself to be influenced by this world system that is under the control of Satan.

I recognize this horizontal way of living in my own life. I live in an earthly way when I see trials as problems that I must solve right now in my own strength, instead of looking vertically and seeing God’s gracious hand leading me through hard things in His perfect will to expose areas of weakness and mature my faith. I live in a sensual way when I see temptations to sin as impossible to resist or as more attractive than God, instead of looking vertically and remembering that God will not allow me to be tempted “above that I am able” and will “make a way to escape,” and that every temptation is a chance for me to exercise myself for godliness. I live in a devilish way when I allow things to become idols that dominate my thinking and time, instead of looking vertically and seeing that God is the only one who is worthy of all my worship.

I cannot live life according to my own wisdom, always getting tripped up by fleshly stuff, groping about aimlessly on this horizontal plane. No, I need the wisdom that can only come from God and the relationship that I have with Him through Christ. My view must be vertical as I humbly submit myself to God’s will and strive to do the right thing, right now.

I’m thankful for this reminder from James.

-Matt Reid

   

God Loves Me

godlovesmethumbHow do I know that God loves me? Well, there is no real simple answer; it’s rather complex actually. However, as confident as I am that I have hair on my head (and I do), and as confident as I am that I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful little girl, I am confident that God loves me.

There are many reasons that I know God loves me, but for now I just want to share three of those reasons.

The first reason is the most convincing and the most wonderful reason. The Bible tells me that God loves me and demonstrated this love to me by pursuing a relationship with me at the cost of His own life. He died to secure a relationship with me. Not only this, but He rose from the grave, then called me to receive this relationship, convinced me of my need of this relationship, and graciously gave me His new life.

The second reason might sound a little strange to most, but God kindly afflicts me. Affliction, in the world’s eyes, is usually not associated with love, but God is constantly reminding me that I am satisfied most when I am enjoying my relationship with Him. So, recently He has brought about many trials in my life. A few weeks back we had a circumstance where many things in our trailer broke. Life would be a lot simpler if we did not need a microwave/oven, refrigerator, entertainment systems, or space heaters. The truth is we often get content with life and even start to float along enjoying our lives as if life itself was what we were trying to gain. On top of this, my truck, which pulls my house from week to week, started to freeze up on turns – this turned into quite an ordeal, the ball joints needing to be replaced, as well as the steering column needing various parts replaced. So, how is this love, you ask? Well, God very kindly, in mercy, allowed me to see that the things of this world don’t provide me the satisfaction that I was created to have. Yet with my near sightedness, I often cannot see the beauty of my Savior, Jesus, because I get my focus on things that are made with hands. In love, God afflicts me to remind me that I can run to Him and find all my heart’s desires.

The third reason I know God loves me is that He blesses me. He does not just afflict me to show me my sinful and idolatrous heart, but He constantly pours out His blessings on me. In the last year, I have been blessed with a little girl – Evangeline Mercy. She is such a joy and a bundle of fun. But with increasing family come the trials of more spending and more responsibility. Since having the baby the Lord has graciously provided a house (a beautiful 5th wheel trailer), a truck, TONS of baby stuff, daily food, vacations, work, money, and even more. All of these things cost a lot of money, but we have had to shell out relatively little compared to what has been given to us freely. Take for example this last week, I took the truck in to get fixed – it was going to cost me over $1,300. I went to pick up the truck, resigned with the fact that I was going to have to foot the bill and was even trying to look at the bright side (look at all the miles I will get on my Delta credit card!). As I went to check out, the clerk told me that someone had called in that morning and paid the entire bill and wanted to remain anonymous! Wow! Unexpected - Yet, very expected – that is just how Jesus works. Constantly providing for our needs. Even a trip to Jerusalem for my further education has been provided for and I have not had to pay anything. I could write story after story adding up to thousands and thousands of dollars that have been provided. God is always faithful to take care of my family and me!

So, God loves me because He gave me a relationship that I did not deserve, He constantly reminds me that I need Him through life trials, and He continually provides for my daily needs and even many wants! I know God loves me! I then am immediately rebuked. Do I love people? For how will I know that the love of God abides in me? If I love others! I pray that God will allow my family and I to be a blessing to others so that they too will be able to say with confidence, “God loves me!”

-Josh Roland

 

Spend and be Spent

“And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the LORD, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah: And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, [namely], Elnathan the son of Achbor, and [certain] men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people." (Jeremiah 26:20-23 )

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This year I’m reading through the Bible chronologically. A few days ago I came across this story in the middle of the book of Jeremiah. A story like this would be easy to overlook in the midst of a long account of Judah’s exile, but I found my heart drawn to Urijah’s life. Urijah faithfully and boldly prophesied the words of the Lord and ended up giving his life for that message.

As I praised God for the sacrifice of Urijah, the Spirit began convicting me of the state of my own life. I do not suffer persecution. Actually, my life is very easy. I don’t wake up everyday living in fear of being killed for my faith in God. I began to see how comfortable I really am in my Christian life. God’s shown me how many times I will go throughout my day with godless thoughts and motives. I should have boldness that’s rooted in a deep faith and love for God. The message of the gospel that God has given me to proclaim is what should drive everything I do each day.

“God, help me to be willing to spend and be spent for the sake of the gospel. May I be willing to even lay my own life down.”

-Reba Snyder

   

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