Transitions

There are countless transitions that happen throughout our lives. Often times they’re small, but sometimes they’re big and extraordinarily important. Let’s say you move to another city far away from home, that’s a big transition. If you leave the job you started your career at, that’s a big transition!

Transitions can have a positive or negative impact on our lives depending on how we adapt to the transition. Sometimes transitions happen when we least expect it. If a family member passes away it will be a transition getting used to life without them. If you a lose your job it is a transition to find a new job and a new flow of life. What we do with these situations that we’re handed matters. It can be the difference between flourishing through the transition or limping through to the next season of life.

Surprise Transition

Surprise transition is when we are given a situation we did not necessarily ask for and it often happens very quickly. Often times we have a hard time readjusting because we didn’t see this coming. In surprise transition it is imperative that we step back, take a deep breath, and lean on Christ. When we begin to believe the lie that we are all alone or that there is no hope, we have lost. Without that alone time with God, without a deep relationship with Him, without trust in God, we will slowly but surely be burnt out by our situation. That’s why it is so important to lean on Jesus in all facets of life. When we cast our burdens and anxieties on Him and trust Him with our lives, He gives us the strength to finish the race He’s called us to. We may not be able to control what situation we are handed but we can control what our reaction will be.

Planned Transition

Planned transition is a transition that is planned and is something that you have time to prepare for. This one can easily bring anxiety when what you have planned doesn’t go as well as you thought. Planned transition can be just as stressful as surprise transition. Again it comes down to what we do with what we’re given. Something I’ve learned is that you need to leave white space when you plan because God might have something planned that you weren’t expecting.

The benefit of a planned transition is we see it coming before it happens, but we must steward the knowledge of transition in a healthy way. When we see a transition coming, a way we can draw near to God is by fasting and praying. When we do some form of fasting and we spend time in prayer, we align ourselves with God and we grow closer to Him so that we may know Him and His will. Prayer is powerful, it is the first thing we should be doing before we do any sort of planning.

Common Ground

Although these two transitions come to be in different ways, they are still similar. They are still transitions into a new season of life. Our lives are full of seasons, good and bad. What we need to do in every transition is cling to Christ and our identity in who He is. When we are rooted in Him, nothing can shake us. Transitions are inevitable, how will you respond?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Todd Diemer

Hymnal to Hillsong

Recently I had an opportunity to preach at a small church in Southeast Ohio. It was amazing! I was able to meet new people, experience a different setting, and see a different way to do church.

Prior to me preaching there, I knew that they did church somewhat differently. This church was more of a traditional church with hymns, responsive readings, and doxology. The church I currently serve at plays songs by Elevation, Hillsong, Bethel, etc.

The town that the church was in was a town of about 1,700 which is much smaller than I’m used to. Altogether this was very much culture shock but pleasingly eye opening. Since I knew that the worship at this church was going to be different, I began to ask questions to the people around me as to whether hymns were better for a Sunday gathering or if contemporary music was a better fit? As you can guess I received a wide variety of answers. Some people believed that Hymns were the only way to do worship and others thought that contemporary was the standard and to them, hymns didn’t reach that standard. Another person thought that we should do both as to not upset anyone and serve both the long time attendee and the younger generation. This sounded like the best answer yet until a close friend who was raised in both cultures made a profound point.

He pointed out that both were worship to God, one was not above the other. Then he continued and pointed out that our call is to make disciples of all nations, that we need to reach our community and those around us. As a worship leader, he wants to bring everyone into an encounter with God whether that is the lifelong Christian or someone who has never experienced Christ before. He wants to bring people to a deeper level of relationship with God and to a deeper level of worship. Hymns are great for those who grew up singing them but the question is, is it great for someone who is stepping into a church for the first time? Hymns are just as worshipful to God as contemporary worship is and vice versa. The wrong question is, whether or not one is more worshipful to God than the other. The right question is, which style of worship will bring a first-time guest to an encounter with God?Let’s not let our preferences get in the way of what God wants to do in someone’s life.

When we go on long term missions we try to learn the country’s language, we dress like them, and we play/listen to the same music as them. We do everything to bridge the gap between us and them. Why in our local context would we not do the same? Why would we make others bridge the gap to us?

In every part of our life, we should be bridging the gap to the lost. To make them build the bridge is contrary to the Gospel.

Let’s start building bridges.

 

 

 

 

Photo by Michelle Jimenez

Making Coffee | July 25, 2017

Yesterday I was reading out of the book of Ezekiel and it struck me with a view of God’s love. It was chapter 18 and at this time, Israel was in exile, the chapter was talking about how turning from wickedness to God would then eliminate all the evil things a person has done in the eyes of God. It amazed me how turning to God could change the direction of someone’s life. At the end of this chapter, the final verse just tied it all together and is what I’ll be focusing on today.

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” Ezekiel 18:32

So often we hear that God “changed” from Old Testament God to New Testament God. But this shows that God was the same God in the past, now, and in the future to come. His full character was shown in Jesus on earth.

God doesn’t have pleasure in the death of anyone, but instead, desires that all turn and live! Let’s not wait, let’s not hesitate. He has a full life and a full plan for us to live out. Turn to Jesus and live!

 

 

Photo by Aneta Ivanova

Making Coffee | July 18, 2017

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:21-24

 

There are times when we feel as if there is no hope for us, that our situation isn’t going to get better. You might be feeling this from missing the mark of what God wants for you or from something out of your control.

Lamentations 3:21-24 tells us that God’s mercies are new every morning, that is shown by us still waking up the next day after missing the mark of what God commands. Even in our lowest moments, He hasn’t given up on us, He hasn’t forsaken us. God is our portion, He is our inheritance. Therefore we can have hope that God will sustain us so that we can continue to chase Him.

His steadfast love never ceases regardless of the situation. Remember that whatever you have gone through or whatever you are going through doesn’t change His love for you. Keep chasing Him and pursuing His will for your life.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Ryan Riggins

What I Learned From the Streets

Recently, I had an experience that has stuck with me. I’ve done it many times before and I’m noticing a pattern, a common response. What I’m talking about is street evangelism, going to a certain area (i.e. A downtown) and just talking to people. I’m sure that many of you have had very interesting, unsettling experiences with people who do this but it doesn’t have to be that way. The street evangelism that I’m talking about is different from the way a Jehovah’s Witness or a Morman would do it. What I’m talking about is just purely going and talking to people, casual conversation, not carrying a tract or an agenda, but just going out and showing people the love of Christ.

Relationship

The first thing that I learned is that people desire relationship. We have so many things in our world pulling for our attention, making us think they care when in reality they have their own selfish agenda. When you go and have a conversation with someone on the street or at a public event and you don’t have an agenda, they sense that and appreciate it. Our God is relational and we need to show that for others. We’re not here to push an agenda, we’re here to show them that the creator of the universe loves them and that they matter.

Don’t get me wrong, this can get scary, especially when we ourselves struggle to create relationships. We have to push through and remember that they desire relationship just as much or more than we do. People can make the statement that God can use someone else to carry that out but the thing is, He chose you!

Hope

The second thing that I learned is that people have a deep desperation for hope. They want to know that there is a purpose for them being alive, and regardless of their situation, they can overcome. Without Jesus, all hope is only temporary and will at some point fade away. What we want to do is bring hope and healing to a broken world. Through the casual conversations, I was able to bring a hope to people by sharing my story and how Jesus transformed my life.

Love

The third thing that I learned is that people desire to be loved. We were designed to be in relationship with God and to feel His love. If someone doesn’t know Jesus how are they supposed to know how to receive that love? By simply taking time out of your day to talk to someone, shows them that you care and they see the love behind what you’re doing.

People have searched far and wide for love and haven’t found the true love that comes from the Father. We have that inside of us because of the Holy Spirit in us and we weren’t given this love to hold it in but instead give it to others.

Conclusion

Through all of the times I’ve been intentional about talking to people, I’ve seen that they are desperate for the love of Jesus. People were created to be in relationship with God and you can see that in people. When they don’t have that relationship you can see how they are in desperate need of it. Through Jesus, we find relationship, hope, and love that fulfills us.

Go out and share your story, when you share your story it shows what God can do in someone’s life. Even if you feel like you don’t have a compelling life story, your story matters and is important. Your story is so important that you need to share it with others! When someone sees what God can do in your life they will believe that God can do it for them.

 

 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 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

 

 

 

 

Making Coffee | July 13, 2017

I think we can get so lost in life that we truly forget purpose. Bills come, relationships that drift, or our schedule being too full are all things that can make ourselves get so lost in life that we forget the purpose it. Sometimes these things can be so overwhelming that we feel as though we have no purpose or that there is no reason for our existence. That’s the opposite of what is true and God wants us to know that.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

The author of this psalm is worshipping the Lord because he understands that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by God. We were not made by chance, we are not here on accident.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Paul says it perfectly in the book of Ephesians, we are God’s handiwork. We were created to do good works, to do works that represent the love of Christ and that glorify God.

We weren’t created to be average. We were created to worship God, to dream big, to influence the world. Let’s start seeking God as we dream big and change the world. Ask God what it is that your role is in His purpose for your life and chase after it!

Making Coffee | July 11, 2017

There seems to be a trend lately, and that trend is a self-serving Christianity. It’s this idea that everything is about us (those who are already Christians). I think I am just as guilty of this as anyone! I’m sure we’ve all heard and done “Church Shopping” and so often we hear that a couple didn’t choose a certain church because it didn’t cater to them in a certain way. That’s not why we’re here though! We’re here to serve others, to be Christlike.

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Jesus came not to be served, but to serve others, to give Hise life for many. We’re called to be like Christ, therefore our focus shouldn’t be on us but should be on serving others. Our focus should be outward instead of inward. I guess the better question to ask when looking for a church home is, 1. Do they preach the Bible? and 2. Is their main focus on reaching the lost? Let’s not miss an opportunity to serve someone else today.

Making Coffee | July 10, 2017

Let’s face it, Mondays can be hard, we come off of an amazing weekend and here comes Monday with loads of work. This is a routine that can be extremely grueling, I mean we have a whole subculture around hating Mondays! It’s easy to feel like this, to start hating Monday, but it doesn’t have to be that way, we can operate in a way where we have joy every morning.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

In this scripture, Paul is telling us that in everything we do, regardless of what it is, we should do it in the name of Jesus, giving it our best. While doing whatever work we are doing, we should give thanks to the Father for what we get to do. When we start having the mindset that we are doing everything for Jesus, and that we are to represent Christ’s love, we have a different perspective. When we realize that we carry the hope of Jesus, we have a joy about us that people can see. With this joy, we can attack every day like we are blessed to do what we do because it’s true! We don’t have to do work, we get to do work. When we see the purpose of our work in Jesus and glorifying God, we will have a new freshness to what we do. As you’re making your coffee today, remember that you are where you are for a purpose, God wants to use you, don’t let a Monday make you miss what God has for you!

 

Making Coffee | July 8, 2017

Let’s be honest, our life is busy, we have more things to do than we have time. We often get lost in our tasks and the product of that is late nights and early mornings. Because of this, we forget that we need to rest and pause. We feel as though we don’t have the time to do this. Although we feel like we don’t have time to rest, we need to make time, we’re commanded to rest in the Lord.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[e] just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-10

The Sabbath is a time of rest, a time where we completely rest in the Lord. God leads us by example in this by resting on the seventh day of creation.

Rest is needed to flourish as God has intended us to and if we want to walk out what our calling is, this is a necessity. When we make time for rest, we shouldn’t wait until we are tired. When we make rest a priority and a regular discipline, we will see ourselves beginning to be able to handle our schedule and tasks. Let’s rest because it’s beneficial and it’s what God’s desire is. Take some time out of your day today to sit, pray and worship. Create a time to disconnect from everything else and connect to God.

 

Making Coffee | July 6, 2017

Have you ever thought of light and dark? The concept of turning on the lights in a room, and how it eliminates the darkness? I think it’s profound that darkness is just the absence of light.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus tells us that He is the light of the world and that when we follow Him we will never walk in darkness. We have been found and will never again be lost or in darkness. This is an amazing reassurance that we are loved by the creator of the universe and that no matter what, He never leaves our side.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we are told that we are the light of the world. We are told to go and let our light shine before others so they see what we do and glorify God. We have what the world needs, we have hope, and that hope is Jesus. Let’s let our light shine today. Let’s show the world that there is hope in Jesus. Let’s show the world that God loves them!