The beauty and burden of Christian faith is that every believer shares the same responsibilities. There is no hierarchy of who does and does not live the Gospel. In our lives, during the week, as well as on a Sunday morning, each one of us are commissioned by Jesus Christ to welcome, serve, worship, and give. Through simple acts of intentional warmth, we make Love real whether it is at the office park, or the parking lot at church. And the paradox of Christian faith, is that we fill up by pouring out. So when our faith begins to run dry, the first thing we must turn to is what I can do to share and show the love of Jesus to the people around me whether is at worship on Sunday or walking the dog on Tuesday.
My prayer for you over the next few days is that you will have found some closer connection to God in your everyday chaos, and that your life can be lived victoriously even if the size of the storms in your life is not reduced. Not to be totally cliche, but it really ISN'T the size of the storm that matters - it's the size of our faith in God that changes everything. See you Sunday at 9:15 or 10:45 AM as we come together to remind ourselves, refill ourselves, and pour out God's goodness to one another!
Elections are divisive by definition. But Jesus calls for unity.
At Big Life Community Church, we come together around Jesus.
It's our sin that divides, simplifies complex ideas into caricatures, and condemns others... but Jesus calls us higher.
1) We all err and sin. None of us are "in the right." We all miss the mark daily. Stay humble - when you feel pride or self-righteousness creeping in, return to humility. (Rom 3:23)
2) Put God first. Put loving (being charitable, serving) people next. This is God's Commandment for believers. (Matt 22:36-40)
3) The enemy steals, kills, and destroys the evidence of God's Spirit - love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Be careful to not be the voice of the enemy in tearing others down... regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the small amount you know about their perspective. (John 10:10, Gal 5:22-23)
4) Do not condemn those different than you - hint - it's everyone. We believe there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1). If you find yourself buying into condemnation, immediately repent and turn your attention back to following and mirroring Jesus.
We believe as a Church organization, and as individual Jesus followers we are called to a BIG LIFE of faith, encouragement, and unapologetic positivity. As a Church, we are committed to both affirming the freedom God created us with as individuals, as well as always pointing to the high bar Jesus set for us and our relationships to God and to others. This means we offer grace and respect to one another as unique parts of the Body of Christ and encourage one another to turn towards Christ in all our decisions and life choices.
So this week especially, we celebrate God's abundant hope for you. We pray blessing and encouragement over each of you right now as you read. We affirm Jesus' call to love and serve and invite you into a closer walk with Him through studying the Word, and joining us in an ever expanding, bigger, GOOD life of servant hood, humility, and generosity.
Micro prayers can change your life.
Become a person of micro prayer: When you notice something, the beauty of a tree, the cool breeze, the sun and clear sky, someone in the car next to you, the fast food employee... say a micro prayer of thanks. "Thank you God for this moment / that tree / this weather / this sunshine / this car that safely transports me." "I pray blessing on that person today." "Thank you God for her/his work."
These micro prayers will transform YOUR mind and perspective as well as positively impact the spiritual condition of the world around us!
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Are you ready for what is coming next?
In the Old Testament in the story of Joshua, we find the Jewish people preparing the enter the Promised Land. It had been a time of wandering and refinement up to this point. They had spent generations Geoff Mitchell, M.Div.under the oppressive boot of slavery. Finally God sent Moses to deliver them from Pharaoh. With a power not of this world, God parted the Red Sea and protected the Jewish people. Yet this protection led to 40 years of wondering in the wilderness, the discouragement of the people, and ultimately the death of Moses. So when Joshua takes over the reigns of leadership from Moses on the threshold of entering the Promised Land, he pauses to make sure they were up for the task.
Joshua 24:14-15: "Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
You would think a nomadic people with a tattered faith would not need to be rallied once more as they finally enter the Promised Land. Yet Joshua makes the people pause and ask if they are truly invested in what God is about to accomplish. Fitting words for our church, I believe.
Sunday, September 11th, is the Grand Opening at our new location, 197 East Washington in Oswego. It will be a day of celebration, faith, and excitement. So much effort, prayer, sacrificial giving, and good old fashioned sweat has gone into making this day a reality. Yet even as we approach this much anticipated transition, I am asking our entire church to pause before God and renew ourselves to the mission in accountable ways. We much choose God together as a congregation for this building to become the Church.
Here's what God needs to choose to serve Him:
1- Choose to pray - Pray for our new space to be scared space. We are a culture that has lost the language of the sacred. Yet as believers we know that when the church gathers we encounter the Holy. Let us reaffirm our trust in a Holy, Sacred, and Almighty God who is seeking to change the lives of ordinary people. In this commitment, we pray for life change for ourselves and others, and we rise above the cliche of "we are finally getting our own building" and instead aim to pursue the God who is always pursuing us and others.
2- Choose to serve God. Unless you are out of town, be at worship September 11th. This is a great opportunity to share Jesus through serving as the Church, and an unparalleled opportunity to invite people to come and see. An invitation to the grand opening is something to which people will be receptive. God started Big Life to share Jesus with people who need faith. Recommit to that mission through sharing an invitation and serving as the Church.
3- Choose to renignite your spiritual growth. The natural tendency in us all will be to believe we "have arrived". That had to be what Joshua felt when he shared this message from God. Yet we believe God deserves better from our daily lives. If we only ever bring the same intensity to our faith that we have now, or have had in the past, we will soon fall flat and stagnate. Renew your commitment to growth - growth in your relationship with God - growth in your consistency in worship, growth in your generosity, and growth in your invitational and welcoming efforts. Choose this day to grow.
4- Choose to be a person of welcome. Anticipate a wave of visitors the first few months. Some people show up because of intentional invitations from people of our church. Others came to the garage sale and were interested in what we are doing. Some will appear for the pure novelty of the new location. Others will be dragged there by God to hear what they need to hear. I want you losing sleep over these folks' spiritual welcome at Big Life. Intentionally welcome all people- step away from your familiar conversations each week to say hello to someone you do not know. Embrace your responsibility and know we are all spiritually accountable for how we receive people that God sends to our church. Preaching and worship are important, but most people move from visiting to belonging because of the welcome they received from people NOT employed by the church. God is raising the bar for us in these next few months. Let's make the most of it. Choose to be God's person of welcome.
Tonight is a big meteor shower. Little bits of dust and ice and mineral will fly through the atmosphere leaving a stunning show of light and fire for any who look up into a clear night sky.
It's incredible that we as humans, lumpy bits of protein and fat and minerals might look up into the sky and be amazed. Maybe we will take our children out to teach them about the universe.
Or we might sit in our homes built of wood and metal and concrete and watch images and sound flash into little electrical boxes in front of us and find rest.
Or we might jump into our metal and rubber gas-burning machines to go to work to find purpose and provide for our next meals and upkeep of our homes and machines.
My point is this, our lives are extraordinarily... ordinary. Even with all the incredible things around us, we create and strive and push, yet we all live with a nagging sense that "there has to be more." As complex and incredible as our ordinary lives are, we are all missing out... until we turn towards God.
God has embedded this incredible universe, and us, His creation, with hearts and minds that long for him. We are incomplete without a relationship with our Creator; it doesn't matter what we attempt to fill that void with, we remain incomplete without God's supernatural love and power.
I have heard faith described like an onion, that the deeper you dig, the more you know, the next layer you turn over - only reveals more richness and depth and beauty and power.
Our hope for you is simply that you seek God. If you've been a person of faith since you were young, or if you are just starting to pursue God, just look for Him. Get hungry for Him. Know you need Him. Everything rich and good and full of beauty in our lives flows from Him.
We often look at people who do big things for God as though they are cut from a different cloth. It is easy to believe we are excluded from the miraculous, earth shaking faith we think we see in others.
However, God is our ever present Counselor. God is interested in our daily life. God wants to be included in our morning coffee, our commute, our work, and our conversations. Put faith in the middle of how we REALLY spend our time, relationships, and money.
When you string together these ordinary moments, checking in with God, sharing His love and counsel, it IS extraordinary faith. It builds deep confidence in His care. It develops unshakable trust. It opens our eyes and ears to His leading - that we will need at more difficult times.
On the cross, Jesus changed everything. The scriptures say that the "curtain in the temple was torn" as Jesus died. The curtain was placed in the temple to allow some holy leaders to have access to God, and to keep everyone else out.
Don't put up a curtain in your life. Seek God in your ordinary moments... and in doing so build an extraordinary relationship with the living God.
What a week.
It has been a week that shouts of transgressions and tragedy. Social media, news outlets, and coffee conversations are filled with discussions of the boundaries of the law, the state of our society, and the many ways human decency seems to be challenged right now.
As a Christ-follower, it is important that we move forward in our words and deeds intentionally at times like this. It is important for us to identify what is good, and do what God asks of us rather than joining in the noise of opinions and frustrations.
In Romans 12:2 the Bible describes that we must be cautious. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Discerning the will of God for our lives, let alone our society and country can seem difficult. Fortunately, God provided a guideline in Micah 6:8:
He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.
In simple terms,
See you Sunday at 10 AM as we worship the living God! We believe this one hour each week can change every other hour of your life! Invite a friend, you may never know the difference it will make.
What is our role as believers?
It is one of the most misunderstood aspects of modern Christianity. Perhaps because we are not aware enough of God's active role in our life and in our world, we can become confused about where we stand, and what is required of us, in relation to God and others.
But the Gospels, the words of Jesus Himself, are very clear. There is no wiggle room to put on a different hat than what God ordains for us each.
We are commanded to:
We are commanded not to:
We exist to
1) Share Jesus 2) Welcome others 3) Give God better.
This is meaty stuff. Yes, we simplified it into 7 words. However, don't ever be misled that something simple is not also the highest bar set in the history of humanity.
We will each feel tempted to fall into the trap of placing ourselves and our opinions and even our beliefs and experiences in faith higher than others. Be careful, believers! Jesus, and Jesus' followers must walk forward into the world in love, humility, and deep self-awareness of our own frailty and faultiness. Only Jesus saves. Only grace triumphs. Only the Lord is God. Everything else, every idea, every sin, every word and posture, fades into nothingness in the light of His glory and goodness.
See you Sunday at 10 AM! We believe this one hour each week can change every other hour of your life! Invite a friend, you may never know the difference it will make.
"The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays." -Søren Kierkegaard
Do you ever wonder why life is so full of anxiety? We worry over money. We worry for our kids. We worry for our health. We worry about our jobs.
As believers we are invited into a loving relationship with an all-powerful God who gives us the good (and challenging) gift of free will. We are invited to welcome Him as our Lord into our decisions, into our choices, as our Advisor and ever-present Counselor... but we are free to NOT.
This week while driving we heard this quote on the radio: "God will either give us what we ask for, or give us what we WOULD HAVE asked for if we knew everything He knows." (Tim Keller) Even as believers we still often buy into the notion that God is absent from our prayers or ignoring our needs as times become challenging.
As Christ followers we can trust that:
SO answer these very important questions right now:
Now invite God in. "God, I give these to You. I trust You. I believe in Your power in my life and over all things of earth and heaven. I love You. Amen."
Do the work to make this an automated habit. Try to list these at least once per day until you are accustomed to inviting God in as every need / want / gratitude arises. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6)
See you Sunday at 10 AM! We believe this one hour each week can change every other hour of your life! Invite a friend, you may never know the difference it will make.
Decisions surround us. Some days seems like a river of choices we are trying to swim through. Some choices we make on autopilot - like whether we want coffee to start our day. Other decisions we labor over with worry and calculation. It all adds up.
"Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other." -C.S. Lewis
Lewis puts it into stark terms. Every choice we make adds up like a piggy bank of decisions. We have all felt the crush of too many bad choices weighing down our souls.
God offers guidance and hope when we turn to Him for help. The Bible leads us to time-tested wisdom. The Holy Spirit whispers help to us, advocating for the best possible outcome for your life.
So next time you find yourself with a choice, lean in to God.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." - Jesus in Matthew 7 & 8