Detours

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GUEST BLOGGER: RICHARD NASON:

Did you ever think your life would end up where it did? Did you ever think that things would get harder and not easier? Do you ever feel like life owes you an easier time? I never signed up for this. This was not how life as a Christian was supposed to be. Every thing was supposed to be unicorns and roses. After all I am now a child of the Most High God and I am supposed to have an easier and better life. Ever have those thoughts? You are definitely not alone.

My life has not worked out the way I would have foreseen but then again God is in control and it all works out the way He feels it is best. It is not always easy to accept that fact but if during this time you can sit back and reflect on everything that has occurred you can see what God has done for you. The key is to really look deep and see the changes that have taken place. This is not a surface reflection!

I have been in a major, and I do mean major, detour in my journey of life. When Pastor Andy talked of the scenic route, I don't think he included the path through the barren desert. But sometimes God needs you to walk where few others will to teach you what He is made of and how He will help you. I believe He wants you to really know that He is there for you no matter what you are going through.

Learned I have! Love for God and Christ above all others has been the first and foremost lesson. I have had to lean on Him for all things for there are times when other brothers and sisters cannot help me and when only He can. He has been there every minute, through every heartache, financial pressure , emotional state of mind. You name it and He has been there and is still. "Be still and know that I am with you." Psalms 46:10

During those times when it all seems waaaayyyy more than I can handle I recall to mind my favorite saying. I have given a new definition to a popular saying that perhaps you may have never thought about.   Put up or shut up.  I have learned that if I truly believe that Christ is the real answer in my life then I need to put up my faith as a testament to what God can truly do and believe that He will help me or else I need to shut up about my faith. If I falter and lack faith that God will help me then how can I possibly expect Him to!!!

I have often asked, why can I not have the faith of the men of old. Faith like that of Abraham, Noah, Daniel, Joshua, Moses. What stops me from having that kind of faith? And that is a rhetorical question my friends, because the only person stopping me from developing that kind of faith is myself. I just heard this today and I absolutely love this. "We have as much of God as we actually want" A.W.Tozer   I do not want to limit Him in my life in any way. I need Him more than you can possibly know.

There are days I wonder if things will ever get better and there are days where I get tired of battling. But then there are days when I feel that things will turn out ok, days when I can handle the battle because I know He Is with me. My faith is still not where I wish it to be but it is increasing day by day. I keep my nose in His word every day and my prayer time has increased more than all other aspects of my journey; except the love that has grown in my heart for my Father and His Son.

I have been on a detour and though the scenery has not been pleasant I have been able to learn more and more how to rely on my God. I have learned to strengthen my faith, how to pray even more, how to love Him ever deeper. This is the road that has made it easier for me to firmly believe that I am a child of the most high God. He is with me and my hope is that you too experience this feeling even during your most trying times!

Guaranteed Life Change in 2018

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2018.....wow, that's crazy! It seemed like yesterday we were counting down 3...2..1.. as we entered the 2000's. 

Many of you had a very difficult 2017. Many dealt with a loss of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, health problems, among other things. You're so glad it's over. 

As we start the new year, many of us will start some resolutions in hopes of bettering ourselves. Losing weight, getting fit, dieting, exercising, and eating better are the more popular but I want to challenge all of you with something better, something that will help in every resolution and every decision you make in 2018. Last year I challenged our church to read through the Bible in a Year. 37 people took on the challenge. It was difficult at times, easy to fall behind but so beneficial. We are in a time where there is such an easy access to reading God's Word. We used the YouVersion app this year and did the Bible in One Year. My challenge this year is the 2018 rendition of it found here. Here is some of these responses I received from those who took on this challenge: 

  • Janet Gentle: "From someone who has never read their Bible cover to cover this has been a great accomplishment and challenge for me! I have gotten so much closer to God because I have really come to know him on a much more personal level. Reading about all He has done for his people, how He loves us and is always with us. I heard the words before but thought maybe it was just something people said. Reading God's words in black and white have changed everything!!! It was like receiving a letter from a father I have never known and realizing that he has been there and loved me all along!! The peace that it has brought to my life is the best gift I have ever received! I don’t worry about things like I used to. I pray about everything, and trust God. Have I got it all figured out?? No, but I am forever a work in progress trying to keep in the front of my mind that I am His masterpiece and that He loves me so much that He gave His only Son so He could have a relationship with me. It puts me in awe every day!!!! I can’t wait to do it again!

 

  • Richard Nason: "I make it a point to start my day with the Bible reading because my Lord sets the tone for the whole day. We become so busy yet if we can't afford even a few minutes for the Lord what does that really say about our priorities. Even if it only takes 15 minutes and that is all we gave Him during our busy day, at the very least it is something. We acknowledge His prescense in our life and that is tge most important thing. I owe the Lord at least this and so much more. The Bible reading helps me to focus on the fact that He is ever present and that He is there throughout my day. So many times I call on Him and I feel confident because I started my day reading His word and He will be with me because He knows I am trying to be with Him. The biggest take I get from all of this is what kind of Christian are we truly if we cannot even give God a few minutes from our day. We owe Him ever so much more but if we can't even find a little time to spend with Him, how can we expect Him to help us? A real Christian does not profess to being a foxhole soldier.

 

  • Katie JacobsDespite the fact that I've fallen behind in the past month or so, I absolutely loved this Bible in One Year reading plan.  It has made my faith so much stronger.  I read parts of the Bible that I had never studied before and it increased my knowledge and understanding so much.  For example, I am so thankful for the fact that we have direct access to God through prayer after reading the Old testament and learning about all the sacrifices that were required. I also feel like my trust in God has grown so much through reading this plan.  I've gone through a couple of tense and stressful situations this year and had such peace throughout.  I know that came from growing in my relationship with Christ.  I was able to bring some Bible passages to mind at these moments.Finally, I loved the motivation. It was great having a little devotional and set readings planned out for me everyday. It took the guess work out of my Bible time and made it easier to spend time with Christ. Doing this plan was a great experience and I look forward to doing something similar in 2018.

Here's what this will look like: If you decide to take on this challenge click here. Starting Monday January 1st, I will send a daily email with my thoughts on that day's reading. You do not need to reply. I will check in to see how you are all doing sporadically. 

Advice: Schedule this time, don't try to find the time. (We schedule what's important) This plan has audio so you can listen on the way to work as well! Lastly, if you fall behind, don't give up! I guarantee you will be different at the end of the year! 

Finding Peace This Christmas

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My children are no longer at the age where I can tell them their behavior during the year has everything to do with the gifts (or coal) they receive on Christmas. With the holiday so close, children naturally get more excited about the gifts and cookies and, in turn, lose focus on what we feel is the most important. And for all of us, what's most important is different. Today, what's most important to my wife and I is to genuinely celebrate Jesus Christ. For some of you reading this, it's something different....and that's ok. I get it. It hasn't always been this way for us either.  Right now, we're in the thick of it all - Christmas shopping, work parties, and bearing down at our jobs so we can actually enjoy our time off. It's an ongoing tension coming to a head on Christmas Eve. Sometimes, I'm not really good at handling this tension. I tend to overreact. Other 'less important things' can tend to take place of what's the most important. The peace that should come in the season doesn't necessarily show on my face. 

I wonder how I would've done over 2000 years ago as Joseph. How would I have reacted if my girlfriend (Mary) had become pregnant (not by me) and having the whole town question the both of us. Then, in our search for a place to give birth to the Messiah, there's no room at the Inn. We have to go into this smelly barn with the animals. I imagine my complaints would be heard. I imagine I would say plenty of things I would regret. I imagine my wife (pregnant and certainly uncomfortable in every way) would look at me in disbelief as if to say, "You're kidding right? I'M PREGNANT not you.!" The circumstances were not ideal. But are they ever?

The great thing about following Christ (or, at least should be) is that perfect peace is not dependent on our circumstances, it is dependent on trusting God.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3

The more we pursue Christ, the more peace we have. Ask those around you that do this. I'm not the same person I was many holidays ago and I'm so thankful. He has given me more peace in my life than ever before. In the times where I've lost loved ones, had financial burdens, or was unsure of my career, I had peace. I have Christ. 

What if this was the first holiday you truly leaned into Christ? Sometimes the chaos in our lives stem from our push for independence. We convince ourselves that "we got this!" when all along He's ready to intervene and give you some much needed peace. Instead of going to Him as a last resort, how about going to Him first? Trust in Him and see. Your holiday will be different. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

My prayer is that you will not go blindly into this holiday. I'm praying that this is the year where relationships are appreciated more than ever before and God is put in His right place. #thereasonfortheseason