Weekly Blog

I want to take a moment to encourage you today. I know you are fighting a battle with something in your life. It might be temptation, or illness, or maybe it just seems like nothing is going right. But it will get better. You will persevere and thrive. I’m positive! God helps us cope with trials by offering us encouragement. Here are some messages of Encouragement from His Word: Psalm 31:24 says, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Proverbs 18:10 tells us, “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” He tells us in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” In Isaiah 43:2 He assures us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” We are called to praise Him for His comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” In John 14:27 we read, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”   God’s Word offers us unending encouragement, but it is not our only source of solace and comfort. We are also called to encourage one another (1 Thes. 5:11). So today, even as you may be struggling, take a moment to offer encouragement to another person. If you can’t find your own words of encouragement, share some from His Word! Working together we can create a community of encouragement!...

What does it mean to be a witness? The common definition says a witness is a person who has information useful in a case being heard in court. You might be surprised to find that Jesus’ meaning of the word isn’t far off. Our Lord calls all of us Followers of Jesus to take the information we know about Him and share it with those who need to hear it. Their salvation, and whether they are found guilty or innocent on judgement day, depends on them having and accepting that information and Jesus into their lives. Jesus’ last words—His COMMAND to all of His followers—were, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). His disciples took up that command and passed it on to all believers. They said: “We were eyewitnesses from the beginning” (Cf. Luke 1:2); “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16); and, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20). So how can you witness to those around you? Share The Gospel - “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Reveal that Jesus Is the Savior of the World - “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Give Glory for The Love of God - “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Praise The Forgiveness of God - “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:42-43). Testify about The Grace of God - ” … my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24). Celebrate The Hope of Eternal Life - “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). So how will you witness today?...

What do you do when you face temptation? Temptation is a part of our everyday lives, but thank the Lord we never have to face it alone! The truth remains, however, that we do face it. So what do we do? It is important that you never underestimate temptation. It is a snare that catches you when you least expect it. It may appear small, but even the smallest temptation can grab hold of your life and open the doors to larger temptations. Having said that, it is also important  that you never overestimate temptation. There is no temptation you will face that cannot be conquered by God’s grace! As Romans 6:6 tells us, because our old self was crucified with Christ, we are no longer enslaved to sin. When you face temptation, even the smallest temptation, here are four actions you can take. Pray. For any trial we face, the first action we take should always be prayer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) Take time to look at the outcome, the consequences of your decision. If you give in to the temptation, what affect will that have on your life, your faith, the lives and faith of those who care about you? “The truly righteous man attains life, but he who pursues evil goes to his death.” (Proverbs 11:19) “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Look at your relationships. We are told in Scripture to make sure that those closest to us can uplift us and help us on our journey. “My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. … my son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths for their feet rush to sin.” (Proverbs 1:10; 15) “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17) Keep your focus on Jesus. His sacrifice has freed you from the bonds of sin. He can shield you from temptation if you ask it of Him! “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)   I am Positive, friend, that you can defeat any temptation you face, because Jesus is on your side!  ...

“You are NOT to do whatever you want” (Gal. 5:17). To Do or Not To Do? “Do whatever you want.” Those words usually come after you have asked someone’s advice or input and they know you aren’t going to follow it. Or maybe your spouse says, “I would rather … but do whatever you want.” I would guess that most of the time those words mean the exact opposite; that person truly thinks you are making the wrong choice. Our culture, however, has taken those words and run with them. We live in a time of “Do whatever you want.” Advertising, sitcoms, movies, music, and even our politicians tell us that our happiness comes from buying, listening to, watching, and doing what we want. Impulse buys come from “doing whatever you want.” Eating that second serving, even though you are already full, comes from “doing whatever you want.” Listening to music that is offensive or hurtful to those around you comes from “doing whatever you want.” Opening our mouths and saying hurtful things happens because we decided to “do whatever you want.” Are you seeing a trend here? Very little that is fulfilling, enriching, and gratifying to God comes from making that decision to “do whatever you want.” Paul knew this, and that is why he admonished the Galatians, “You are not to do whatever you want” (Gal. 5:17). Paul wasn’t telling them that they couldn’t have a rich, fulfilling life. He was telling them that if they let their sinful human nature, their flesh, make their decisions then they were not following the promptings of the Spirit. Jesus gave us the Spirit to be our guide. I’m not saying you should ask the Holy Spirit if you should have that second helping of pasta, but if you consistently seek the Spirit’s input into your life then the carnal impulses will gradually decrease. We cannot allow our sinful nature to take control. Those decisions lead to adultery, fighting, harming others, harming ourselves, and addictions. Following the promptings of the Spirit leads to love, joy, goodness, gentleness, moderation, and community. That, my friend, is what our spiritual journey is about. We must open ourselves to Jesus so He can change us from the inside out, because we can’t change without His help! So when you step out of bed tomorrow morning, start off by saying, “Today, Jesus, I want to do what You want!”...

Being a parent is not easy. It takes time, dedication, effort, strength, love, patience, and so much more. But having access to both parents or having strong parental role models can be vital to a child’s development. As we approach Father’s Day, I have a special message for all of the Dads out there and for those who fill that role for children who need a father figure. #DadsMatter! I can’t think of a single part of my life more difficult and rewarding than being a Dad. But I wouldn’t trade a minute of it! This weekend, I would like to ask you to join me as we honor those men who step up and accept the call to be a Dad! In Ephesians, Paul notes that the command to honor your father and mother is the first commandment with a promise. Children honor their parents so “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” As Followers of Jesus, we do not need to be told about the importance of fatherhood. Scripture is filled with dozens of verses on fathers and the responsibilities of fatherhood. Fathers are essential to the well being of their children. You and I are doubly blessed because we have access to our Heavenly Father and because He models for us what fatherhood should look like. As our Heavenly father: He is the source of our existence. He provides for us. He corrects us. He loves us unconditionally.   How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1) As we prepare to honor Dads this weekend, take a moment to honor God by reading these verses: Matthew 6:9-13 1 Corinthians 8:6 Galatians 4:6 Hebrews 12:5-11 1 John 3:1, 9-10   Happy Father’s Day from the most blessed “Dad” in the world! - Pastor Rich...

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage” (John 14:27). We take this time each year to celebrate the hard work and dedication our graduates have put into their academic pursuits. What an accomplishment! They are entering a new season of life, ready to take on new challenges and step into new opportunities. When you look at being a graduate that way, aren’t we all graduating into new opportunities and seasons of life? Just as I would say to each of those graduates, I want to say to each of you: Live a Life that Matters. Seize those opportunities and embrace the season you are entering. Here are three ways you can live a life that matters: Live with Passion Jesus says in John 10:10, “I came so that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Embrace the awesomeness of our world, enjoy yourself, and share that passion by living the life Jesus calls you to. Live Life with Humility Paul writes in Philippians 2 that even though Jesus was God’s Son He took on the very nature of a servant. He humbled Himself even to the point that He died for you and me! Put other’s interests before your own. Do for others what no one else will. Live Life with Purpose If you are a Follower of Jesus, your life does not belong to you. “If anyone is in Christ you are a new creation, the old has gone the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your new life is a life of meaning, a life of purpose. Live it!  ...

I EXPECT miracles from God. I don’t just hope for them. I don’t just pray for them. I believe in faith that God can do anything, remove any roadblock, and turn any situation around, even things I would never think of! I’m defining a miracle here as “an intervention in the natural universe by God, a phenomena that transcends natural laws, or a divine act by which God reveals Himself to people.” God created everything, and He has the power to change that creation. Natural laws do not constrain Him, they are His laws! Perhaps the greatest miracle is when He chooses to reveal Himself to people directly. What a blessing! The Bible is full of miracles. Look at Daniel and his miraculous protection from the lion. God used Moses for a whole string of miracles: the plagues that led to God’s people being released from slavery, drawing water from stone, the parting of the Red Sea, miraculous provision in the desert, and the gifting of the Ten Commandments. During Jesus’ time we see healing and casting out of demons, water turned into wine, Peter walking on water, and thousands fed by bread and fish that would barely feed a family. Scripture is quite literally one miracle followed by another. God doesn’t change. His miracles do not stop. So don’t doubt for a moment that miracles are taking place all around you! Are you looking for a miracle in your life today? What are you praying for? Are you asking because you hope God will grant that miracle, or are you believing in FAITH that He is sending someone right now to work that miracle in your life?! Nothing is impossible with God, NOTHING! I am Positive!...

Did you know that almost a third of the Bible is prophecy? In the Old Testament, prophecies were given as guidance to the people. God used prophets as His messengers to His people. Through them, He warned of what would happen if the people didn’t stop worshiping other gods. The prophets told of the trials the people would face for turning away from God. And in the darkest times, they foretold the birth, ministry, and death of Jesus, messages of hope for the people. But prophecy didn’t stop after Jesus returned to Heaven. In the New Testament, the word of prophecy was a positive word that people could run to, not something they were afraid of. The power of the Spirit inspired (and still inspires) messages intended to edify and encourage the Church. According to St. Paul, prophecy is given to confirm and encourage and can only occur in a place and at a time that Jesus is known as Lord and honored as such (1 Cor. 12:1-3). So why did the New Testament Church need prophets, and why do we need prophecy today? For guidance and direction. Face it, we get busy and sometimes we neglect the need to listen for the guidance of the Spirit. In those times, and in those times when the Church as a whole needs direction, prophecy provides the clarity we need. We see this in the New Testament as the Church was starting to grow. Prophecy guided them as they dealt with persecution, hardship, and teaching a new way of life. It does the same for us today. To instruct the body of Christ. In the Old Testament we see many instances where God used prophets to instruct the people, and Jesus continues to gives guidance through prophecy. What a blessing that we can always count on His instruction! As a means of revelation. One thing we will never be able to fathom is God’s complete understanding of what will happen when. The Book of Revelation is a great example. Even though we can hold that prophecy in our hands, it is impossible for us to fully understand parts of it at this time. Even when we can’t understand, however, Jesus works through prophecy to set a path for us that leads us to His side. To build the Church. As the Body of Christ, we work as one. Our goal is to spread the message of Jesus to all corners of the earth. Prophecy guides us as we do that, and it helps open doors and hearts to Jesus’ message and love.   I am so incredibly thankful for the gift of prophecy in our lives! It offers hope, guidance, instruction, and encouragement no matter what we are facing. Through it we can discern God’s desires for our lives and it helps us as we share Jesus’ never-ending love with the world. Today I will say a special prayer for a new generation of prophets to guide all Followers of Jesus as we continue on with our task. Will you join me?...

We are called to honor our parents every day of our lives. In fact, it is one of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:12, God tells His people, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” This weekend is Mother’s Day, a holiday we’ve celebrated in the United States since 1914, and we have the opportunity to love and honor our mothers by dedicating a whole day to her! This year, take time to thank your mother for all she’s done for you. Thank her: For the sacrifices she’s made. For allowing you to make mistakes, but always being there after. For making you do chores and teaching you responsibility. For always being your biggest cheerleader. For always listening. For showing you what love is. Your mother is a precious gift from God. So call the mothers in your life, or if you can go visit them. Take this opportunity to tell your mom how grateful you are for everything she’s taught you, and how she helped shaped you into the person you are!  ...

You have a purpose, a God-given purpose. And God has given you the gifts you need to fulfill that purpose! Not sure what your purpose is? We’re not put on this earth without guidance, and we are not left to wander around lost. God has given us a manual explaining why He created us, what our lives should look like, what we should absolutely avoid, and what our future holds! Turn to God’s Word. Build your life on eternal truths. Ready to live your God-given purpose? Ask these five questions, pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you answer them, then live your life with purpose!   What is the center of my life? Is it yourself or God? Your center determines your strength, and God is your unshakable center! Keep Him there on a daily basis.   What does the character of my life look like? What kind of person do you want to be? Do you recognize the fruits of the Spirit in your life and use them for God’s work? Your character is a testimony to others of God’s work in your life!   What contribution do I want my life to make?  How will you use your spiritual gifts and abilities to make a difference? Are you serving in both the church and the world? We are created to serve others. That is our leadership!   What does my life say? God’s purpose in your life gives you a unique voice and message to share. As we are instructed in Philippians 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[a] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.”   Where is my community? Are you active in fellowship? Are you committed to other Followers of Jesus? Ephesians 5:25 says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Can we love our brothers and sisters any less?   Your purpose isn’t shaped by other people or their opinions. Listen for God’s voice. Follow the promptings of the Spirit. And follow the examples Jesus gives us in Scripture. By doing those three things, you will have the answers to the questions you’ve just asked. You will discover your purpose and learn to use your gifts fully for God’s master plan! I am Positive you will!  ...