1 Comment

Why I Quit Reading the Bible on my iPhone

overview-collage.jpg

I guess it was a few months ago. I picked up my old faux leather New King James Spirit Filled Life Bible just to flip through the pages a bit. You know, for the sake of nostalgia. It was incredibly refreshing to read all of the highlights and notes in the margins. So refreshing, in fact, that I could hardly put it down.

This made me stop and think. Why does this feel so fulfilling? It's not like I've neglected to read the bible in recent weeks or months. I'm a regular YouVersion user, with badges and achievements to boot. But I began to see something that I was missing here. I can recall countless days where I'd read a chapter or two on my iPhone or iPad just so I wouldn't have to use the "Catch Me Up" function on YouVersion. I wasn't doing word or topic studies, I wasn't using cross references or really digging into the Word. I was simply reading the Bible like I read the Hunger Games on my Kindle...flying through to the end at light speed, munching on Cheez-Its all the way.

Why did this happen? How did the Bible end up on my chore list? Is it because my paper bible is living and active and my iPhone bible is simply electrical? No, I don't think it's that. I believe the Word of God is living and active, not the paper. So what is it?

I recently deleted as many apps off of my iPhone as I could without removing the things that make it a wonderful tool when I'm out and about -- maps, weather, urbanspoon, etc. I did this because I was always so distracted and disconnected from what was going on around me. I didn't talk to people as much or watch the birds fly or whatever else I missed. I was constantly pulled into some social media or news app or gaming experience when there was so much going on around me.

The point is, our little devices are causing a kind of self-inflicted ADD. Even when I'm reading the Bible or doing something productive on my iPhone I'm constantly tempted to switch over to whatever app is nagging at my attention span.

The Word of God deserves a special place in my life. Not on my kindle, not with my Cheez-Its, not at light speed. And after a month back with my paper Bible, it appears to be the only fool proof way for me. So that's it, I've gone back to paper...and it's awesome!

1 Comment

3 Comments

Expecting Joy

photo

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” — Job 8:21

We’re claiming 2014 to be a year of joy. As the days wear on — especially through the winter months — joy isn’t something we want to just hope, pray or dream for. We’re learning to expect it! As we prepare to become foreign missionaries in the very near future (click here for more on that) we're changing the way we think. It’s a journey we’re on together, and every day holds something new.

And speaking of something new...we’re expecting our firstborn child to arrive in August!Expecting Joy

All sorts of emotions have flooded our hearts since Christmas Day, when we officially had proof of the life growing and developing inside. It’s exciting, humbling, thrilling and terrifying, all somehow felt at the same time. We are so thankful for this blessing from God, and do not take lightly what it will mean to raise a child for Him. We’ll need lots of help along the way! It takes a village, right? Or something like that...

But can I be perfectly honest? Sometimes it's hard to just feel "joy". As a nurse, I've seen and experienced too much to bask in that blissful ignorance of anticipation that I see in so many expecting parents. It's easier to let fear win. It can be hard for me to plan for 5 months down the road when I don't know what might happen tomorrow. But I'm taking one day at a time, and training my heart to focus on Joy.

Our due date is August 25th so we'll be sure to keep you posted along the way. So don't forget follow our blog for updates!   

3 Comments

Comment

Start... (Update)

Screen Shot 2014-03-01 at 2.01.37 PM

Last summer I wrote a post about branching out and doing something that I enjoyed, even though it seemed like a stretch. (You can read that post here: "Start...") Here is an update to what I've been doing:

Shortly after writing about helping people with their finances, I had a few different meetings doing just that. It was great! Like I said before, I am good at this and enjoy helping others, but if I'm honest pretty much everything I know I learned from Dave Ramsey.

I've listened to Dave for about a decade now and I can attribute all of my success with finances to him. So I figured I should take this a step further. For the past few weeks I've been leading a small group in our Financial Peace University class at Rockford First. It is so fun to work with people face to face and to see how big a role finances play in our lives. Like Dave says, finances are 20% head knowledge and 80% behavior. These principles apply to more than just money and they are changing lives. I'm blessed to be a part!

Comment

Comment

Getting Away

Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better. –Albert Einstein

As you know by now, things are changing for us around here! We decided to take advantage of the change in our schedules to get away for a little while. One of our passions is traveling – and who doesn’t love a good road trip?? We loaded up the car and headed west, with some vague plans along our route and every intention of enjoying the open road!

11 2

Sometimes you just need to get away! It’s good for the soul—something about stepping out of your circumstances to see them from a different perspective. I needed this trip. Spending time as a family without much of an agenda, exploring the country and dreaming new dreams! It’s like pressing a reset button. It also gave me the chance to enjoy my husband in his element. I love how relaxed he is out in the wild. ☺

Here are some of our favorite photos from along the way…

Getting Away<Click to Enlarge>

Comment

1 Comment

When God Calls (Part 3)

World-Map

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...” — Matthew 18:19

Wow! What an incredible, crazy, stressful, fast and fulfilling year it has been! Through all the hard work and ups and downs, we've made it through our first year on staff at Focus One. There's nothing like seeing the life-change that this program produces in these students, who gave a year of their lives to the Lord. It truly makes it all worth it.

Even though this has been such an incredible year and we've already put a lot of work into welcoming the next class of students to Focus One, it turns out that God is changing our plans once again. Don't worry, Focus One is still happening and it will be another great year! But through different circumstances and through the Lord's leading, I will no longer be working with Focus One this year. While I am so sad to leave such an amazing team, what's so exciting about this is that Tina and I have finally felt the release to pursue our life-long dreams of becoming foreign missionaries!

We knew from the beginning that our time at Focus One was limited (just not how long) and that this was the next step for us. There's really no way that we could have put enough time and energy into pursuing this goal being so involved in a program like Focus One. And once again we come back to this: When God calls we answer. No matter how crazy it sounds or how hard it may seem, we know the Lord will provide for us and will equip us for what He's called us to.

At this point we don't know where the Lord is calling us, but we are going to start that process. The time has come to send in our applications and begin to seek out the Lord's plans. If you can, please remember us in your prayers. And don't forget to subscribe to our blog and check back for updates on what the Lord is doing.

1 Comment

Comment

Start...

Image

Life today has a way of pushing the things that are important aside to make room for so many things that are completely unimportant. I feel as though I am constantly working to weed out the meaningless addictions that life in the US has afforded me. From the internet to TV shows to sports to movies to all of the above on a handheld device. It's basically a full time job trying balance all of the countless distractions that come my way.

Recently I've been thinking about what I like to do. What would I do if I didn't have my current job (which is great and I'm not trying to leave or anything!) and wanted a hobby that meant something? I mean more than playing golf or camping or hiking -- which are things I love to do for fun and recreation. And today I had an idea! I think I might enjoy doing some minor financial planning for people on the side. I recently started reading Jon Acuff's new book, Start. So I think I'm going to just do it! I don't have a ton of extra time so I'll definitely start small, but I'm gonna start. And I think the best way to start is to help out with FPU at our church. I love Dave Ramsey. I like budgeting and finances and all the other nerdy things you can imagine at this moment as I type this. I like teaching and helping people. So I'm going to do it. And hey, if you're interested in my services let me know!

You've heard the saying, "We MAKE time for the things that are important to us."

I want to encourage you today. MAKE some time to figure out what makes you tick, what you like to do when the power is out or the President has taken over all your favorite channels. MAKE some time to love life in a way that doesn't involve your phone, tablet, etc. and your addiction to social media. MAKE time to BE who God created you to BE. If we would all just get a little better at this, I think we'd raise the bar of happiness and fulfillment in our lives to a whole new level. I'm with you Kid President!

Comment

Comment

Missions Trip to Nicaragua

Nicaragua Collage

One of my favorite things about Focus One is that each student is required to take a missions trip during his/her year of Focus. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to Swaziland, Macedonia, Denmark and Vietnam as a part of this program. This year I got to lead the team to Nicaragua!

We travelled to Managua to work with Ken and Kendra Doutt. They run feeding centers for kids all over the country. Nicaragua has one of the highest poverty rates in the world and 30% of the population is under 15 years of age. So many of these kids grow up scrounging through trash in the nation’s dumps, looking for food or scraps they can sell. The Doutt’s are working to provide food and clothing to these kids, and each year they run camps throughout the summer. With our help, over 40 kids were able to attend camp this week, where they received full meals, lots of love and a Christ centered education. You can find out more about what the Doutt’s are doing here: compelledbycompassion.org.

There were definitely some great moments that need to be captured, but to keep this from becoming a never-ending post here are a few:

I think the biggest moment for me was the second night of camp when we prayed for the kids. I prayed for these two kids that I connected with from the get go, Winston and Ariel. Ariel started crying right away, but Winston was hard from having been to camp before and from his past. I was just praying over them that they would find strength in God's grace, that they would be a light to their nation and that they would have a voice in their generation. Finally at the end I was hugging both of them, but Winston was curled up in my arms and started crying. I never knew the power of a hug until that moment. It was powerful. Winston was my dude and even thanked me by name in front of the whole camp.

After camp we travelled to Ometepe Island, the volcano island we could see from camp. We only spent one night there but it seemed like a week. We did a few school assemblies and some door to door ministry. The best moment for me was when I got to speak to a lady at her home. She said they had needs but that they were happy. I felt I should tell her that The Lord is pleased with her joy and that He would bless her because of it. She said they needed this house to be complete. They were sitting by a framed building with a roof on it and a pile of bricks on the ground. They didn't have money to pay anyone to build it. So we prayed that the Lord would help them build the house before the rainy season. We didn’t get to see the fruit, but we trust the Lord to provide.

I started getting sick the second day of camp. :/ From then on out every day was a struggle. It was frustrating because that never happens to me. I’m always the one with the iron stomach that never has issues in other countries. But I believe the Lord was using this as an opportunity for me to rely on him in a new way. And I definitely had to do that as the team leader.

Even through the ups and downs, it was an incredible trip! I love missions trips because they really put life into perspective. Not only that, but I know that this is my ultimate calling in life. So it definitely whets my appetite for where the Lord is ultimately leading us.

Comment

Comment

Slavery FTW?

"And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." - Romans 6:18

If I called you a slave, would you be offended? Many would. Slavery is a thing of the past in our modern capitalist culture. We are healthy, wealthy and wise. For the most part our needs are met, and we are free to come and go as we please. Yet I fear that this mindset is misleading many Christians today.

What does it mean to be a slave of righteousness? That we have to abide by rules or we will not make it to heaven? Not at all! God wants us to be healthy, wealthy and wise as long as it brings Him glory. Yet we constantly make righteous living a chore. Isn't righteousness the best way to live even if it means that we give up our freedom to live lives of chaos - lives without discipline - in which we are tossed about by our whims and selfish desires?

Our culture tells us that freedom means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, that I can be whoever I want to be and that I can make my own decisions. But even in our culture there are limits, there are laws, there are rules and we must abide by them or pay the price. It is similar in the Kingdom. The price is different and the reasons are different, yet the principle remains. We all know that our freedom in the U.S. was bought with a price. Yet how much more did Jesus pay the price on the cross for all of our sins that we may be spiritually free, that our spiritual debts would be paid? Righteousness is the fruit of that freedom. Righteousness does not denote rules and laws. It means that we are in right standing with the Lord, and thus we can live in relation to Him. I think we can agree that His way is the best way and the law of life is always better than the law of sin and death.

To be a slave to righteousness is to have a hunger and desire to know God and to live in communion with Him. As we abide in Him, He abides is us and we no longer begrudgingly live according to His law. We ache for it. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." I want to be a slave to righteousness, do you?

Other verses to consider: Proverbs 12:28, Matthew 5:6; 7:21, Romans 6:1-2, 18-23; 8:2, 1 Corinthians 7:23

"Lord, I thank you for the freedom that you bought for me on the cross. Thank you for your presence in my life. Help me to abide in you each day so that I may walk in right standing with you and live a holy life. Instill in me a renewed hunger and passion for you. To you be the glory. Amen."

Comment

Comment

Words of Wisdom from Bilbo Baggins

"It’s a dangerous business going out of your door. You step into the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." - Bilbo Baggins, in The Lord of the Rings

I recently read a blog by my good friend Michael Rivera called "God's Invitation to Know Him" (from June 2 on Pastor Jer's Blog). He wrote that the knowledge of God starts in the Word of God. This got me thinking, and I wonder if God will only allow you to go so deep in the Spirit if you don't have a firm foundation in the word. The word is how we test what we hear and see. 1 John 4:1 states, "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." Paul writes in Galatians 1:8, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." Without a firm foundation, we will surely lose our feet.

God relates to us like a father, who will keep information from a child because the child may not be ready for it. He knows how we will handle certain peices of information. If He were to show us the whole picture we would be overwhelmed, or we would miss out on what we would gain on the journey. In the same way, the word is the foundation that releases us to go deeper. If we aren't founded in the word, we may be led astray by the simplest deception of the enemy. The word is the starting point in the journey, and without it we cannot venture out into new places. Do you want to go deeper in the Spirit? Then you must be firmly grounded in the word of God. It must be written on the tablet of your heart.

Other verses to consider: Acts 17:11, Romans 16:17, 2 Corinthians 11:14

"Father, I thank you for your word today and I believe that it is truth. As I study your word, I pray that it will be written on my heart. I pray for wisdom and discernment as I venture deeper in you. I long to go deeper and I pray for your guidance in the process. Give me a hunger and passion for your word today. Amen."

Comment

Comment

My Trip to NYC

So I'm sitting on the couch with my wife and dog last Sunday afternoon at about 3:30pm. We had a busy day at church, I'm checking my fantasy football team, "Fleur de Brees," and I'm having a great week! Tina and I are planning out the rest of our day, and I don't think we even got past taking our dog to the park when the phone rings. I immediately knew what Taka was going to say... Our church just finished Love Week, as a part of our Love+Works series (loveworks.org). We gave hours of our time last week to be a blessing to our community. But when Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast, our Love+Works campaign became much more than a one week Rockford only service project. So our church teamed up with the NYC Dream Center and we pledged to send a truck full of supplies to help with the relief efforts. Long story short...

Taka: "Hey dude, we don't have room in the truck for all the donations, so we decided to rent a trailer and tow it behind the Focus One excursion. Think you can clear your schedule for the next couple of days and drive it to NYC?"

Jeremy: (thinking: YES!!) "Um, let me check really quick and get back to you."

5 minutes later...

Jeremy: "Hey man, yea I'm in. When do we leave?"

Taka: "5:00 pm. Get here asap!"

So I hopped in the Focus One excursion and we took a 26' truck and a U-Haul trailer full of supplies all the way to Rockaway Blvd. on Long Island.

I'd never been to NY so it was exciting, but we arrived as the sun was going down and we left before it came up. We didn't see much of the city and I didn't get on TV. We didn't even get to hand out any of the supplies to the people. We didn't get the thank you's and we didn't see any of the devastation that was the reason we came.

It wasn't glamorous.

But it made a difference. Pastor Jer recently said, "Do for one what you wish you could do for millions." That's what we did, and for that reason, it was awesome!

Comment

Comment

When God Calls (Part 2)

Rockford_First_exterior_2

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” — Proverbs 3:5-6

Well, despite our fears and hesitations with returning to Rockford, it is clear that the Lord is at work. Even through issues with living arrangements and Tina’s job search, we’ve been able to reconnect with our church and so many friends from our days in Master’s Commission. We loved Tennessee, but really our biggest problem there was finding a church where we felt at home. It’s so refreshing to be part of a community of believers that we know and love.

It’s also been great to work with Focus One, formerly Rockford Master’s Commission. So many memories of God moments, life-changing experiences, and lessons learned are flooding back. It is truly a joy to be able to pass those on to the next generation. Not only that, but to be a part of such an amazing staff is such a blessing. They are my family.

I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in the coming weeks, months and years.

Comment

Comment

Ouch!

We hate pain…

We run from pain…

We take drugs to alleviate pain…

We have this idea that pain is always bad. If we see someone going through something, we immediately associate that with negative thoughts. What did they do to deserve that? They must be having problems at home. They must be struggling with some habit or sin pattern.

But the truth is that pain is a natural part of life. I was listening to Joyce Meyer on the radio today and she made this one statement that really hit home. She said that brokenness in scripture can mean many things, but one of those has to do with birthing pains.

Sometimes God wants you to feel pain because he is doing a work in you. He is birthing something new in you and the only way for it to come out is through a painful process. This doesn't have to be a negative thing. It can actually be seen as a positive when we truly trust the Lord and worship him in our troubles.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 1:6

So when you start to feel broken - in your spirit or by the circumstances around you - don't be so quick to reach for the Motrin. And when you see your brothers and sisters going through trials, don't be so quick to judge. Ask the Lord if he is doing a work in you or others, and pray that He would provide the strength to see it through.

Comment

Comment

When God Calls

moccasin-bend-from-point

"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.' So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord.” — Jonah 3:1-3

I was sitting on the edge of a cliff overlooking the rolling hills and forests south of downtown Chattanooga. The wind was incredible, the hawks floating in mid-air seeking their prey, overcast skies, and all the cares in the world on my shoulders.

That’s right, I was standing on the precipice of one of life’s big decisions: "What is my next step?”

A few weeks prior, I had received a call from a great friend and mentor of mine, Taka Iguchi, offering me a job back in Rockford, Illinois at what is now called Focus One — formerly Rockford Masters Commission. I knew the last place in the world I wanted to return to was Rockford. I remember hanging up the phone after that brief conversation thinking, “Lord, I will not, I repeat, not, go back to Rockford unless you make it abundantly clear that that is where we are supposed to be.

Tina and I knew that our ultimate goal was to be on the mission field so we decided to start looking for opportunities to see if God was stirring our hearts to make a move through that phone call. Long story short, the missions options weren’t working out, I was leaning toward going to Rockford, but I still needed some clarity before I could commit. The last thing I ever want to do is go anywhere God isn’t with me.

It was in that moment, on the edge of that cliff, my life in God’s hands, that he spoke to me. The winds were raging, but he wasn’t in the wind. He spoke in a still, small voice in my heart. Essentially, it said this: “This is the path that I have for you, I am with you and am preparing you for my service.”

Thinking back, I recall having dreams about being back in Rockford, and it turns out that the Lord has been preparing us for this all along. So here we go…we’ll keep you posted on what the Lord is doing.

Comment

Comment

Words with Friends

"Life and death are in the power of the tongue."  - Proverbs 18:21

Words are everywhere. We see and hear them constantly. We use them to communicate. It’s estimated that the average woman speaks between 10,000 and 20,000 words a day. It is also estimated that the average person sees between 500 and 2,000 advertisements in a day. Think about what you are doing right now. You are reading a blog on your device of choice, written with words.

Can it really be that life and death are in the power of the tongue?

I remember going on a hiking trip a few years ago on the Appalachian Trail. It seemed like everytime we got to the top of a mountain, it was only to see the next mountain we had to climb. It got harder and harder each time, but it was such a blessing to have strong encouraging people on the team. Their encouraging words helped us over each peak, even when we thought we could go no further.

In his book, Awaken the Giant Within, Anthony Robbins writes, "Throughout human history, our greatest leaders and thinkers have used the power of words to transform our emotions, to enlist us in their causes, and to shape the course of destiny."

James 3:4-6 states: "Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity."

Do you understand the power we are talking about here? The tongue has the power to inspire men and women to greatness, and it also has the power to bring them to their knees. It can speak positivity or negativity, success or failure, good or evil, life or death into our lives and the lives of those around us.

When we learn to control our words, we are better able to control our thoughts, feelings and actions. And when we align our words with God's words, we see amazing results. We see positive attitudes and encouragement in times of trouble. We pray prayers of faith to move mountains, and we get to see the promises of God come to fruition.

This is the power of the tongue.

So think about your words today. Are you speaking life or death into the lives of those around you? What about your own life?

Other verses to consider: Matthew 12:33-37, Ephesians 4:29, James 3:1-12

"Lord, I thank you today for the words that you speak about me. I thank you that you work all things for good for those who love you. I thank you that I can cast my cares on you because you care for me. Empower me today to take control of my words. Help me to align my words with your words and to pray prayers of faith. I trust you and your promises, and I will honor you with my tongue today. Amen."

(This blog was written as part of the #Wisdumb series at Rockford First and posted on Pastor Jer's Blog. You can check out all 31 days of Proverbs posts there too!)

Comment

Comment

Out of this World!

"The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered."  - Proverbs 11:25

So many times in the bible we see God turning the tables on how we are to live. We've all heard the phrase, "The last shall be first, and the first shall be last." But this principle is still shocking to us because it is so counterintuitive to our human nature. We are naturally inclined to hang onto what we have, especially if we have bills, credit card balances and a weak economy.

While reading this passage, I was reminded of a teaching by Erin Campbell back when I was in RMC. She said something along the lines of, "You can't outgive God, but it sure is fun to try!" I love this because it really is how I believe God wants us to live, and it all comes down to having a heavenly mindset.

Jesus states in Luke 6:38, "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure - pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Is your standard of measure a heavenly one or an earthly one?

And this is not only about money. When you give, serve and love beyond yourself, Christ fills the gap. He says, "My strength is made perfect in weakness." It's so amazing when you come to the place where you have nothing left to give and you truly see God working through you. I believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote, "For it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20)." When we allow Christ to increase in us, we are able to live according to a heavenly mindset and give according to a standard of measure that is out of this world!

Other verses to consider: Malachi 3:10, Matthew 20:16, 2 Corinthians 12:9

"Lord, I thank you for all that you've given me and for providing for my family. I pray for a heavenly mindset today so that I can give according to your standard of measure. Give me the strength to give, serve and love more than I have today, and I trust you to fill me up again. To you be the glory. Amen."

(This blog was written as part of the #Wisdumb series at Rockford First and posted on Pastor Jer's Blog. You can check out all 31 days of Proverbs posts there too!)

Comment

1 Comment

The Audacity of Rest

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths." - Proverbs 3:5-6

A few years ago, I had the privilege of riding a boat out on the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The captain told us how the weather out there can take an unexpected turn for the worst in a matter of minutes. We talked about how Jesus and His disciples found themselves in a tight spot out on this same body of water and how Jesus woke up and calmed the storm (Mark 4:35). I love this story because, while the disciples are being tossed around by the waves, Jesus is sleeping! And after calming the storm, Jesus even scorned the disciples for their lack of faith. How many times do we do this exact same thing? Just like Peter in Matthew 14, we step out of the boat and fear the waves instead of trusting in the Lord.

Jesus' reaction to the storm is a beautiful picture of what true faith and trust looks like. He was resting in the midst of a storm because He knew that the storm had no power over Him. This Audacious Rest comes from true faith, because it is a way to worship the Lord in the midst of our circumstances. As we lift Him up, He gets bigger and our understanding gets smaller. But what's amazing about this is that it produces even more faith.

Perhaps you have a big decision ahead and you're worried about the outcome. Maybe your job isn't going well, your bills are too large, or you're in an impossible situation and you feel that there is no way out. So often, we become blinded by the storms raging around us, but we must learn to trust in the Lord and not allow our feelings and desires to overcome our faith. If we learn to acknowledge the Lord first in our circumstances, then we are better able to lay aside our own understanding and to put our faith and trust in Him. This is where peace that passes understanding is found, and this is where we find Audacious Rest in the Lord.

Other verses to consider: Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 4:6-8, 1 Peter 5:7, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

"Lord, I cast my cares upon you today because I know that you care for me. I lift you up over my current struggles, fears and doubts, and I ask for your grace and strength to trust in you with my whole heart even when I don't understand. No matter what I am feeling I will rest in you today because I believe that you are in control. I pray that peace that passes understanding will guard my heart and mind today in Christ Jesus. Amen."

(This blog was written as part of the #Wisdumb series at Rockford First and posted on Pastor Jer's Blog. You can check out all 31 days of Proverbs posts there too!)

1 Comment

Comment

The Move!

Tina and I just moved back to Rockford to work with Focus.One and we are so pumped to meet everyone and get started working with such amazing people. Updates to come!

Comment

Comment

Take it to Jesus

"And Jesus said to her, “neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  - John 8:11

How many times do we make mistakes and try to suppress them as though they did not happen? We want a sin habit to just go away, so we do everything we can to put it aside. Yet by doing this we are running away from the very thing we need. We must learn to admit sin when it surfaces and then take it to Jesus.

The woman caught in adultery came to the place where her sin was able to surface, and it was this very place where Jesus met her with redemption. This is the place where dependency upon Jesus is found. Sin will never simply go away. We must realize that we live in a carnal world and that we desperately need Jesus, the only true cleanser of our sins.

(This devo was published in MORE: A Compilation of Revelations, by Michael Rivera, Liz Reed, Ben Striker and myself)

Comment

Comment

The 3 "In's"

"This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."  - Psalm 118:24

Every day the Lord has a purpose and a plan for our lives. It doesn't matter how we feel, or what side of the bed we wake up on, it is His day and in that we can rejoice. We must learn to come alongside that purpose so we may live up to what God has for us. It's not always easy, but there are a few things that can help. First, Intentionality. Read Romans 6:13. It is our responsibility to take control of our thoughts and actions. If we are intentional then we will be able to line up with God's purposes. Second, Intensity. Read Hebrews 12:1-4. If we are intense about the things that we do, and give everything we have, regardless of feelings, we will be able to find strength in God to accomplish what He desires of us. Last, Intimacy with God. Read Matthew 7:21-23. It doesn't matter if we do countless great things. If there is no knowledge of God in what we do, then we have missed the mark. If we live our lives to know God, then we will know where He is leading us and how He wants us to expend our energy.

We must have intentionality to do the right things, intensity to do the right things with passion and drive, and intimacy with God to do His things with His passion to His glory.

(This devo was published in MORE: A Compilation of Revelations, by Michael Rivera, Liz Reed, Ben Striker and myself)

Comment

Comment

The Big Picture

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us."  - Romans 8:18

Life is full of happenings: this happens, that happens…we are tossed to and fro through every circumstance. Sometimes things aren't so bad, just a little bit of discomfort. Other times, it seems as though the bottom has fallen out: God seems so distant and we can neither see nor hear through the fog. When we come to this place, the one thing we must do is to set our eyes upon the truth that we know: God is still God.

God promises to work all things out for good for those who love Him. Paul considers no suffering even worth comparing to the future glory of eternity in heaven. In life or death there is a bigger picture, and the One in whom we can place all of our trust is the One who sees it. To find the strength to persevere, in every circumstance, we must set our minds on the big picture. The big picture is that though presently I cannot see, the fog will rise and God will still be there.

(This devo was published in MORE: A Compilation of Revelations, by Michael Rivera, Liz Reed, Ben Striker and myself)

Comment