The Blog

Advent Blog Series: LOVE
Dec 07, 2017

As one way to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, we are introducing a blog series to examine the four primary virtues of Advent - Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.  Published on the first four Fridays in December, this second installment examines Love and is written by Lynna Clark.


Halleluiah and Pass the Biscuits

It’s funny…but not like ha-ha funny. More like the cheese smells funny, type of funny. I have no problem with the virgin birth; the resurrection of Christ; the parting of the Red Sea; or the universal flood. I do, however, wonder about one particular reoccurring theme throughout Scripture...love.

When an old religious guy with questions on his mind met with Jesus one night, he led with a compliment. He called Jesus “Rabbi” and expressed his belief that Jesus had been sent to teach. He acknowledged His miraculous signs and went so far as to say that apparently God was with Him. Quickly Jesus brought him to the fact that he was loved by God. In fact, Jesus assured him that God loves the whole world. It seemed more important than anything else old Nic wanted to talk about.

It’s a good word. But to break that down and receive it personally is hard for me.

I mean, how CAN He?

He knows where I’ve been. He hears my thoughts.

An unexpected storm tosses us about and causes me to toss my cookies into the bait bucket. Immediately I cry, “LORD! Don’t you care?”

With Peter I warm myself by the enemy’s fire and swear I don’t know Him.

Yet He loves ME?

I really find that hard to believe.

Like broken-hearted Peter, I go back to doing the only thing I know. The Lord of the universe has risen from the dead, but so what?

I have really messed up. Surely He’s done with me. Obviously I can’t be trusted.

Then in the distance, I see a little smoke rising. A small fire burns and a Man calls out a greeting. When I get there, He’s cooked breakfast of all things: Grilled salmon and hot buttered biscuits. My tummy growls, but worse than that, my soul hurts. My best Friend is standing there serving up my favorite meal though He knows I betrayed Him.

I’ll never understand it. But it’s true.

He loves me.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted or hungry, or destitute, or in danger or threatened with death? As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’ No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39 NLT

Jesus loves ME and there is not a thing I can do to change that!

Halleluiah and pass the biscuits!

To hear the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, find John 3:1-21; For more on being in a storm while Jesus takes a nap, read Mark 4:35-41; To warm up by a fire and watch Peter deny his Friend, see Luke 22: 54-65; For breakfast by the sea with Jesus, read John 21:1-14.

By the way…

He loves you too and there’s not a thing you can do about it either!

 

The Blog

Advent Blog Series: HOPE
Nov 30, 2017

As one way to prepare our hearts for the Christmas season, we are introducing a blog series to examine the four primary virtues of Advent - Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.  Published on the first four Fridays in December, this first installment examines Hope and is written by Steve Noell.


Hope needs pain.

Without suffering, without anguish, without pain, there’s no need for hope. When shalom reigns, hope will be no more. When all things are reconciled to God and there is harmony in creation, hope will be no more. There will come a day when all we see is illuminated by the light of Christ and abundant joy flows freely, unhindered by sin or fallen, broken things.

That day is not today. Likely, it’s not tomorrow either.

There are hints of abundant joy and light; when we have eyes to see, we see them all the time. But they are not the rule. Instead, love is trampled, and there is neither justice nor equity among humanity. Relationships hurt and we struggle through our days.

Lean in; this is important, so I’m going to whisper, okay?

That’s where hope thrives.

Hope thrives in dark places, in life’s open wounds. Indeed, it is the only place hope can thrive. The hope of Christmas is now and always has been the hope of a healer. The birth of Christ was God jumping into the open wound of our lives, living there, working there. God with us. The Apostle Paul is most decidedly not talking about Christmas in his letter to the Romans, but he nails the relationship between suffering and hope so well, it is absolutely applicable. From The Living Bible, Chapter 8, verses 20-21, Paul says, speaking of the coming day when harmony is in all things:

“For on that day, thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay—the things that overcame the world against its will at God’s command—will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God’s children enjoy.”

There are thorns, thistles, sin, death, and decay. Paul is no stranger to it, nor are those to whom he writes, and he writes to us. He writes from the shadows of thorns and thistles, through the stench of death and decay, to us, and he writes of glory and freedom and enjoyment. That’s hope. That’s what we have in Christmas.

Author Rob Bell calls that “ruthless hope” (What Is the Bible?, 2017). When we think of Advent, we think of a time when we’re bleeding, when a healer has not yet come. Yet, we hope, ruthlessly. In the face of darkness, we hope. He’s coming. The healer is coming. The savior is coming. We’ve been told. We’re leaning in, leaning forward from behind the thistles, being pricked as we do, but we’ve been told. He’s coming. We’re hoping, ruthlessly. And it fills us. It turns our eyes from the present darkness and looks for a star in the east, a star to follow hopefully, ruthlessly.

 

The Blog

Fixer Upper
Nov 20, 2017

Almost two years ago, my husband, Zack, and I embarked on a HUGE renovation project – probably caused by one too many Fixer Upper episodes.  We took on this project with the dream to do it ourselves.  We had no previous experience with a project this size, and when we found our house, I seriously wondered if my husband was playing a joke on me.  But as I sat in what is now our dining room, I slowly began to visually strip the “ugly” parts of the house and started to see what it could be.

When thinking about a renovation or “fixer upper,” I’m reminded how we, as children of God, are changed one little piece at a time.

Webster’s Dictionary defines renovate as “to restore to a former better state as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding; to restore to life, vigor, or activity; to revive.”

Isn’t this what we are doing daily as we walk in a relationship with the Lord?  He takes us just as we are…broken.  He sees the ugly pieces and cleans, repairs, and restores them.  He can heal all our wrongs and all our wounds.

“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds,” Psalms 147:3.

Just like our home, a place that had been covered in layers of old paint, battered paneling, and worn linoleum flooring, God sees all our layers and starts to slowly peel away the past hurts, past mistakes, and past messes, and He reveals something beautiful. He doesn’t just cover us up or repaint us; instead, He transforms us from the inside out.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will,” Romans 12:2-3.

When we first entered our home and began mapping out the design, we wanted to take down some walls, however, we couldn’t simply come in swinging sledge hammers.  We first needed to take steps to ensure we had a solid foundation, including beams that would support and hold up our home.  God is doing just that with us.  He gives us strength when we think we have nothing left.  He holds us up when we feel we could fall, and He gives us the support we need to stand.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak,” Isaiah 40:29.

We were washed clean, forgiven, and restored to life by the cross. We are not just “fixed” or “looking new” – we are brand new, completely restored in the eyes of our God.  He saved us not because of anything we’ve earned or done, but His beautiful mercy covers our sin and gives us a new life.

“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5.

Just like our “fixer upper,” which is far from complete and will always be a work in progress, the same is to be said of us.  No matter where we are in our lives or what may be in our pasts, we are all in need of repairs and some restoration.  We simply need to look to the only One who forgives sins and can give life.  All we must to do is offer our full surrender.  He can create beautiful.

So the question remains, in the words of one of my favorite designers: “Do you have the guts to take on a Fixer Upper?”  Will you let God work to build something beautiful out of your story?

 

Kristine is the Assistant Director of Children's Ministry at Life Church, and loves teaching kiddos about the love of Jesus.  She also loves being able to cook in her kitchen again after a long renovation project.  Email her at

Coming Events

Christmas Bureau Distribution
Daily, from 12/18/2017 to 12/20/2017, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Life Church will once again host Rowan County's largest toy distribution, serving needy families in our area who would otherwise not be able to afford gifts this...

When Holidays Hurt-Women
Every Tuesday, from 11/28/2017 to 12/19/2017, 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Ladies, we know the holidays aren't always the "most wonderful time of year." For some, it can be a time of stress, pain, loneliness, or remembrance. Join us on Tuesday...

Christmas Eve Eve Worship Night
Saturday, December 23, 2017, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Join us on Saturday, December 23 for our annual Christmas Eve Eve service. This will be a special night of worship and carols for you and your family to celebrate...

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