Archive | August 2014

The Un-Envisioned Place

If you have ever been in a situation that you hadn’t thought you’d be in, a place you didn’t want to go surrounded by people you didn’t want to go there with, this devotional by Francis Frangipane will bless your socks off. And if you’ve never been in that place, well, read on for some spiritual “Wheaties” that will help you navigate that un-envisioned place when you come to it on your life journey.

 

“If we look at the heroes of faith in the Scriptures, we will find people that, without fail, were people of vision. Yet, upon deeper study, we also discover that, even as people of vision, they often found themselves in circumstances that were unlike anything they expected. Yet, it was in this “un-envisioned place” that God established character in His servant. It was here where the Lord released power that fulfilled destiny.

Consider Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. He wrote of his “great desire” to travel to the church in Thessalonica more than once. Yet, he said, “Satan hindered us” (1Thess. 2:17-18).

Paul must have believed that God was telling him to travel, plant churches and evangelize. Yet, if we look at Paul’s life, it seems Paul found himself often stuck in jail, not traveling on apostolic journeys. Although he felt that Satan had thwarted him, God was watching. There, in dark, mildewed cells, Paul allowed the character of Christ to emerge: singing hymns at midnight, rejoicing always, praying without ceasing (see 1 Thess. 5). Jail was not what Paul envisioned for himself, yet in the crucible of this un-envisioned place, by keeping his heart like Christ’s, he stayed inspired. From prison he turned to writing and there penned some of his most profound epistles. 

What seemed like a setback, in God’s hands becomes a setup for greater victory! Paul and the other leaders thought that Christ would return in their lifetimes. Having been put in prison and unable to travel, they were forced to write their revelation and not just speak it. Thus, instead of only reaching their generation by personal contact, their writings would touch lives for nearly 2000 years!

Or consider the apostle John. At the end of his life he was exiled to a lonely life on the Isle of Patmos. If anyone was a “people person,” it would have been John. He could have become bitter. Certainly, this was not what God wanted for this man, the last one who had been with Jesus Himself? Yet if he had not been exiled, we would not have been given the majesty of the Revelation of John. 

Or what of Joseph — betrayal, slavery and jail was not what this great man envisioned, but it’s what the Holy Spirit used to transformed a dreamer into a mighty leader in Egypt. Or did David expect after being anointed by the prophet Samuel, that he would find himself in a wilderness, a fugitive for seven years? No, but it was here, in the injustice of the wilderness years, that God forged in David and his followers the greatest sense of unity the Old Testament would attain. 

So also with you. Your current circumstances may not be what you envisioned for yourself, but they are no obstacle for God. Paul learned that God was fully able to reveal Himself, not only in the expected places, but in that which was unexpected as well. 

Paul wrote, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14). 

I love this verse. Paul wrote that in a time when he might have despaired of life itself. But God is faithful. No matter what the setback seems to be, God always leads us in His triumph in Christ. We can find the sweet aroma of Christ in every place. 

He is there with you. As you exercise your faith, as you rest, trusting in Him, do what Christ would do in your circumstances. Unbelief will flee as you become Christlike in the crisis. God will turn your setback into a setup that releases destiny in the un-envisioned place.

(c) 2014 Francis Frangipane  Used with Permission http://francisfrangipanemessages.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-un-envisioned-place.html

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Saying No

If you often feel overwhelmed by people’s expectations, but hate disappointing people, you’ll be encouraged  as you read this devotional by Holley Gerth.

“I sit across from my counselor and share about the pressure I feel to meet expectations. She listens and then responds, “It sounds like you think it’s a sin to disappoint people….”

“Um, yeah” I reply, “Of course it is.”

She smiles and then says, “I think we need to talk about that.”

It turns out we’d just uncovered a HUGE lie in my life. One that contributed a lot to the anxiety I feel. Somewhere along the line I’d bought into the equation Loving people = Not disappointing them. But if that equation is true, then it would mean Jesus wasn’t loving. After all, he disappointed people tons. The disciples wanted him to be a political leader and instead he chose a different path. Folks followed him around and he often took off into the wilderness to pray instead of giving them what they wanted. His family pressured him to chill out and start acting more like a normal son and he said that people who did God’s will were his family and carried on. If Jesus disappointed people and he is the most loving man who ever lived, we’re certainly going to disappoint people too. And what’s more, we should following his example by disappointing people for their greater good…and ours too. 

After I got home from my counseling appointment I pulled out one of my favorite books ever to reread a few passages. In Changes that Heal, Dr. Henry Cloud says…

If we feel responsible for other people’s feelings, we can no longer make decisions based on what is right; we will make decisions based on how others feel about our choices. Jesus said, ‘Woe to you when all men speak well of you’ (Luke 6:26). If we are always trying to keep everyone happy then we cannot make the choices required to live correctly and freely.

We can’t determine how successfully we are living the Christian life by who is unhappy with us. 

Woah. I first read the original version of this book almost twenty years ago and it still gets in my business {in the best possible way}.

Because of the way I’m physically wired, the calling I have and a variety of other factors in this season of my life I’m learning this: To love people well in the long-term I will sometimes have to disappoint them in the short-term.
Changes that Heal explains that we are responsible to people but not for them. Yes, we are to be considerate and kind toward others but there will still be moments when we need to say “no” and set limits and they’ll be disappointed. And that’s okay. It’s the same thing God does with us. And looking back over your life, aren’t you so glad God didn’t give you everything you asked for?

Disappointing people is not fun. Especially for those of us with tender hearts. But it’s essential to living well, taking care of our relationships and fulfilling our purpose. And it’s not a sin. Instead it’s a loving, strategic choice we all must make at times.”

(c) 2014 Holley Gerth Used with permission http://holleygerth.com/scandalous-news/

A Ticket to Ride

A Ticket to Ride…that song pops into my head whenever I think of  the Bikers’ Church crew. This week their ride takes them to Whittier, and you are invited to join them. There won’t be very many more chances this season, so gear up and come ride Sunday, August 31st at 3 PM 4335 Laurel Street. Call 349-0255 for more info or email info@akjoy.com

Spiritual Heart Health

Today’s devotional thoughts by Christine Caine remind us of the importance of taking care of our spiritual health as diligently as we take care of our physical health. Is it time for a check up?

“Unhealthy habits can often account for the breakdown of our physical bodies. For example, the more common causes of a physical heart attack are stress, a high-fat diet, lack of exercise, smoking and high blood pressure. By eliminating the potentially harmful behavior patterns that lead to blockages in our arteries, we can prevent a heart attack from ever happening. The best cure is prevention.

The same is true in our spiritual lives. We cannot ignore those things that cause a blockage in our spiritual heart muscle. Lack of spiritual health can cause us to leave our first love, which will eventually lead to a spiritual heart attack. Once we suffer such a heart attack, we find that our hearts no longer beat passionately for God or his purposes. Instead, we substitute formalism for faith and empty ritual for the life of the Spirit. In essence, by just going through the religious motions, we plug ourselves into an artificial life-support system. We mistakenly think we are alive, but in reality we are only existing.

If we disconnected the wires from our empty rituals, there would actually be a spiritual flat line with no evidence of the life of God flowing in and through us. We were never created to settle for mere religion. Jesus did not die so that we could have a religious belief system––but rather a life-giving relationship with our Father.

If we fail to care for our spiritual hearts and neglect their health, we will never possess the spiritual strength we need to love God completely. By guarding our hearts, we ensure that the enemy has no access to them and is therefore unable to steal the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

I believe that as Christians we all possess a sincere desire to love God with all our hearts, yet we often unknowingly allow little things to build up inside of us. Slowly, these small subtle obstructions form very large blockages, which over a period of time clog our spiritual arteries and harden our hearts by depriving them of access to their life source. We must do whatever it takes to ensure that these have no place in our lives as followers of Jesus.

Point to Ponder

Are you guarding your heart from a spiritual heart attack? Are you engaging in healthy spiritual habits and avoiding those things that cause spiritual blockages? You don’t have to be a victim. You can take care of your heart, keep it healthy and strong, and use it to love God and others more.”

(c) 2014 Christine Caine Used with Permission  http://www.christinecaine.com/

A Future and a Hope

gemsDid you ever notice that some people catch all the breaks? They seem to sail through a streamlined life devoid of bumps and potholes, while the rest of us often feel like we’re driving down a washboard road during spring breakup season. There are times on our journey when it may seem like we’re traveling through the Whittier tunnel and no end is in sight; only the dark. In these seasons of our  lives what we need the most –  and feel  like we have the least of –  is hope. The hope of a better future ahead, that tiny pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel that encourages us that the end is coming and that we’re going to get through this.  Click on the arrow below to listen to this week’s hope filled  message. Pastor Marlan’s message holds out hope for a future that endures as we make our way through our tunnel and pothole seasons of life.

 

 

Here is the bulletin for this week

Bulletin 8-24-2014 final

Events

thumbs_up_bciyThe Events page of this blog has been updated. You will notice that several ministries that were on vacation for the summer are gearing up to make a come back in the fall. Any and everyone is welcome to attend JCC events – they are all open to the public. You don’t have to join up or pay up to take part in these activities, just show up. If you enjoy get crafting, eating, studying the Bible, sharing some good wholesome laughter, watching movies, riding motorcycles, and a host of other pastimes, you’ll find something you enjoy doing here at JCC. Check out the Events page or go to http://akjoy.com/ and click on the Ministries tab for more in-depth information for these events.