Friday, August 29, 2014

Living On Mission with Josiah

Living On Mission with Josiah
A couple of things jumped out at me immediately when I was reading about Josiah in 2 Kings 22. 
The first thing I noticed was that Josiah, “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2)  This sounds a lot like discipleship to me.  Of course he wasn’t taught or discipled directly by David, but evidently someone had learned some things from David and passed them down to others. We can be impacted by the lives of others. We should also think about the impact that our lives can have on others. Am I living a life I would want someone else to follow?  I’m so glad that Josiah was impacted by David instead of some of the other not-so-great-ok-actually-evil kings in his heritage.  What a great thing to be influenced by David who loved God wholeheartedly and ALWAYS turned back to God no matter how far he strayed.
Missional thought: Let’s be mindful of who is influencing us and who we are influencing.
The second thing I noticed was that Josiah instructed his finance department NOT to ask the construction leaders for receipts for the items they had to purchase in for the temple.  He said, “…they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.” (2 Kings 22:7)  (Obviously they didn’t have the IRS breathing down their necks!)  This shows either remarkable trust in these men based solely on their position, or that Josiah had built relationships with these workers. Bless him if this was based on respect for their position. How rare to find someone who is quick to honor another in this way! And double bless him if he had actually spent time building relationships with these men who served him as the king and served God by rebuilding the temple. I love that Josiah chose to honor and trust the people around him.
Missional thought: Relationships matter. Trust matters. Be a person who builds relationships of trust. 
Let’s practice living on mission!
Pastor Angela

Thursday, August 28, 2014

PRAY IT! - Boy King

Have you ever been side-tracked?  Have you ever spent (dare I say, "wasted") your time in hot pursuit of something, trying to get back what you thought was lost, taken from, or owed to you?  Something society told you was normal and that you should have?  I have. 

When I graduated high school, I went away to college for a year.  Then, due to some circumstances outside my control, my school plans were derailed.  Long story, short, I eventually returned to school, partly in search of a "college experience" I felt I never received, but believed was due me.  I mistakenly thought reclaiming this experience would somehow fill the missing piece of me that would restore my happiness and make everything right in my world.  Though I was unconvinced of this at the time, this could only be taken care of by an all-sufficient, all-loving, all-satisfying God.

I remember sitting in my dorm room, and I had a thought sort of "pop" into my mind that felt different from the normal 24/7 commentary that is typically racing through my head.  There had to be more than this.  Something had to change.  At that point, I began a rather long process of searching out God and surrendering to Him.  If Scripture indicated I would find Him if I searched for Him, then I would humor this God-Whose-Existence-I-Questioned and see if He would make good on this promise.  I mistakenly thought I was the originator of this thought, this effort, this search...

Deuteronomy 31:8 says "It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed."  Indeed, on the other side of that surrender to God, I began to see that what I had originally attributed to me was actually GOD.  God's grace came before me in the form of that prompting "thought", just as it had come in so many other ways before that:  in experiences and through other obedient, loving people (Kim Keller! - but that's another story...!)

On Sunday we were introduced to the story of Josiah found in 2 Kings, and we learned about the impact God's grace had in his life.  Pastor Todd asked, "Why was Josiah good?"  Simply, because of God and His grace.  Just like Josiah, the good in us is from God.  We are not good on our own. 

My pride had to decrease and my relationship with God had to exist and grow in order for me to humbly see that it was God and his grace reaching out to me.  It is God who is good in me.

John 15 is a wonderful passage where Jesus talks about the importance of abiding (or spending time) with Him.  He is very clear in John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Just like society would have me believe a "normal" college experience would satisfy me, society would also have me believe in and rely on my own independence to get things done.  But I have to humbly accept that the good in me comes from God.  I need Him.  I am not the vine.  I am the branch.

And then there is that one word:  Nothing.

That word just strikes a chord with me.


Jesus does not say, apart from me you can do a little bit.


I have come to believe in God... to be dependent on the Holy Spirit... to love Jesus so much... Nothing just won't cut it.  Nothing isn't "good enough."  Nothing won't satisfy me, nothing is not acceptable when it comes to other people knowing we have an amazing God and experiencing first hand His love for us... nothing won't get anything of eternal value accomplished. 

Here is where we take it to prayer.  Humor me and ponder these questions:

1.)  Think back on your story.  In what ways, through what people, and what circumstances was God reaching out to you with His grace to draw you to a relationship with Him?  Praise Him for that now.

2.)  Reflect on your current story.  In what ways might God be utilizing you as a form of His grace to draw others to a relationship with Him?  Are you letting Him accomplish this through you?  Or are you stubbornly trying to accomplish things apart from God?  Pray for continued opportunities to be used by Him to love on others and draw them to Him.

Dear God,
Thank you for your grace that sought me out and drew me close to you.  Thank you for how you were moving in my life even before I was aware of You and how much You cared for me.  Help me to be aware of how you might be trying to use me, or other situations you may use to help draw other people in my life closer to you.  Help me to be obedient to what you want me to say, do, and be, in order that I can be Your change-agent here on earth, impacting others for You.  Amen.

PoC Prayer Service is tonight at 7pm.  See you there!

Pastor Celia

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PoC's 2nd Anniversary

Dear PoC Family,

I still remember the moment when I was asked, “Have you and Kim ever thought about planting a church?”  Well, I had never considered planting, but did agree to seek the Lord on this.  Many of you know the story by now, but it didn’t take long before the Lord provided an answer in the form of a vision and a song.  Two years later, here we are, PoC.  God has been so faithful.
I want to invite you . . . and have you invite everyone you know . . . to help us celebrate our 2nd Anniversary as Point of Change Church of the Nazarene on September 14.  In just a few weeks we will celebrate God’s faithfulness to us over the past two years.  How exciting!
We will celebrate with a wonderful meal following the service.  During the service we will celebrate with new members, child dedications, and baptism.  Would you please let us know ASAP if you or a family member would like to . . .
  1. Be baptized.  Either for the first time or as a recommitment.
  2. Become a member of Point of Change.
  3. Have your infant or child dedicated to the Lord.
For any of these, simply contact Taryn Lopshire at
We are going to have a wonderful celebration.  If you’ve been wanting your family and friends to hear more about your church, this is the Sunday to have them visit.  I can’t wait to meet them.
Let’s Keep Talking About Jesus,

Pastor Todd

FAMILY IT! — Wednesday Family Devotional — “8 Is Enough”

Supplies: Bible; photos of family members at the age of 8 (2nd or 3rd grade)

What were you like when you were eight?  Looking back, I was a pretty typical third grader in the early 80’s.  I was average height with an average “build” and long red hair.  I lived with my parents on a one-block street where everyone knew and liked each other.  I had a sticker collection and loved to roller skate.  I played Barbies with my best friend who lived across the street.  I wore a lot of purple and carried a Pac-Man lunch box.  I watched Scooby-Doo after school and played Frogger on our Atari until I beat every level. Just your typical eight year old.

What about you?  Take turns sharing with each other what you remember about being eight.  Did you have any unique passions?  Was there anything that made you stand out from the crowd?  Do you remember liking that time of life or was it challenging?  If someone in your family hasn’t reached the ripe old age of eight yet, have them speculate about what they think they’ll look like and be like at that age. 

Read 2 Kings 22:1-2 together.  Paraphrase for younger children. 

I think we can safely say that Josiah was NOT a typical eight year old.  Few of us had to deal with the kinds of pressures and responsibilities that were thrust at Josiah.  While most of us were trying to be King of the Hill, he was was trying to be an actual king.  And let’s face it—he didn’t have the best role models in the world.  Both his father and his grandfather were evil leaders who turned their nation further and further from God.  Yet, Josiah managed to rise above his predecessors to do great things…beginning as a third grader.  Today when we see and eight year old in a difficult home life, we turn it into the justification for the inevitable poor behavior.  Josiah breaks the mold by turning from his upbringing, choosing instead to follow the one true God and becoming a leader comparable to King David.  It’s tempting to attribute this inspiring turn-around to the people in the story: Josiah’s character, his mother’s influence, surely SOMEone deserves the credit.

In truth, God is the only answer to what made Josiah different.  God’s prevenient grace went ahead and began to tug on Josiah’s heart, drawing Josiah closer and closer to the God who loved him, until Josiah was able to choose for himself whom he would follow.  Josiah’s choice changed the nation for awhile, leading them back to God.  And it was all built of the foundation laid by that same God.

God’s prevenient grace doesn’t just work on ancient eight year old kings.  It’s at work today in the hearts of everyone in your family.  Take some time to think: what foundation is God laying in my life right now?  How is Jesus setting the stage to draw me closer to Himself and His plan for my life?  What do I need to do to step up and build on that foundation?  Share your thoughts with your family.  Decide what action steps you need to take to engage and use that grace that God is pouring into your life.  

Dear Jesus, thank You for the incredible ways You draw us close to You.  Help us remember, Lord, that now matter how old we are, we can turn our hearts to You and experience Your greatness.  In Your Name we pray, Amen.


Did you and your family enjoy this devotional blog?  We'd love to know about it!  Our hope is to continue providing this weekly opportunity for families to do a devotion together.  If your family did this devotion, please shoot us an email, text or just post a comment to this blog.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

EXPLORE IT - boy-king: Guilty by Association

The story of King Josiah is found in 2 Kings 22-23.  2 Kings was originally one literary work with 1 Kings.  This one volume, called “Kings,” was originally written in Hebrew.  When this work was translated around A.D. 400 into the Greek Septuagint, the translators divided the work into the two books we have today.  This division was made more of necessity, based on the material able to fit on one scroll, than by considering literary form.

The account of King Josiah is found in two places in Scripture, 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35.  The two records of the same events are not exactly the same.  Some of these inconsistencies are minor, like the inclusion or omission of specific phrases, alternate name spellings, and extra details included in the 2 Chronicles account that are not in the 2 Kings record.  Here is a great guide to the parallels of these passages:

a.       2 Kings 22:1-2                             2 Chronicles 34:1-2
b.      -------                                            2 Chronicles 34:3-7
c.       2 Kings 22:2-23:3                       2 Chronicles 34:8-31
d.      2 Kings 23:4-20                          2 Chronicles 34:32-33
e.      -------                                            2 Chronicles 35:1-17
f.        2 Kings 23:21-23                        2 Chronicles 35:18-19
g.       2 Kings 23:24-27                        -------
h.      2 Kings 23:28-30                        2 Chronicles 35:20-27
The unique material to 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles ((e) and (g)) reveal the interests of each of the writers.  Challenges arise in (b) and (h).  We are given a different order of events in each book and the details of the death of the king are different as well.  Scholars disagree why these variances exist.  The authors of these two different books may be working from different traditions.  Before the stories were written down, there was an oral tradition and it is possible the stories were slightly altered as they were passed down.
The important themes of Josiah’s life are the same in both accounts and that is what we must focus on.  Josiah was born in 648 B.C.  He began to reign when he was eight years old.  He found the lawbook in the 18th year of his reign and in that same year renewed the covenant with the Lord.  There was widespread reform throughout the land.  He died during his 31st year as King (609 B.C.).
We can celebrate that God’s people, after straying from His Presence, returned and recommitted themselves to Him through the faithfulness of King Josiah!
Pastor Amy

[1] Hobbs, T. R. Word Biblical Commentary: 2 Kings. Columbia: Word, Incorporated, 1985. (316).

Friday, August 22, 2014

Living On Mission with Jude and the Holy Spirit

Living On Mission with Jude and the Holy Spirit
17 “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 17-23)
There’s a lot going on in this portion of Jude! The Holy Spirit is a common theme that really stands out as we look for ways to live out this passage.
Verses 17-19 warn us about the dangers of living without the Spirit. I think we have all experienced the tension between living out our own “instinctive” desires and living according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Our own desires are ungodly and cause division because they are directly opposed to the desires of God.  Here’s an example: We want our own way. All the time. God says, “My ways are higher than your ways.” We selfishly seek to obtain more – of everything.  The Kingdom way is, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor.”  (Luke 3:11)
Verses 20-21 teach us to persevere by building ourselves up and praying so that we can keep going until our final redemption. We are strengthened and transformed when we really know and experience the love of God. We have to connect with Him every day. We have to learn to live in His presence. This is where our power comes from.  This is where our life is.
Verses 22-23 show us the posture we are to take toward others. Only when we are fully immersed and aware of the love of God can we truly love others.  Only when we are full of the Spirit are we able to exhibit His characteristics toward others.  We can be merciful – if we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. We will passionately seek salvation of others – when we are full of the Holy Spirit. This is how we trade our own natural, ungodly desires for the desires of God.  
Let’s practice living on mission!
Pastor Angela

Thursday, August 21, 2014

PRAY IT! Hey Jude

Jude 1:20-21 "But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life."

Though Jude is short and sweet - only one chapter - it includes, like so many other books of the Bible, a call to prayer.  (Hmmm... there must be something to this prayer thing...)  Prayer is not a stand-alone call though.  In addition to praying, we are also building, keeping (or guarding), and waiting.  That's a tall order:  build, pray, guard, and wait!  Fortunately, what we also see embedded in this passage is our wonderful God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  Thankfully, this call is not something we do alone, or in our own power and strength, but with the help of God!

Dear God,

Thank you for loving me and drawing me close to you.  Thank you for saving me.  Help me to trust you and stand firm in my faith.  Continue to grow me for your good and your glory.  Amen.

Prayer service, tonight at 7pm.  Hope to see you there!

Pastor Celia

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Boy-King -- A Letter from Pastor Todd

Dear PoC Family:
I have experienced God’s “just in the nick of time” grace many times in my life.  Here is just a sampling:
  • When I was a young teen, I was playing with a nail gun on a construction site with some men from the church.  I hit the hammer onto a board when the gun backfired somehow, sending the nail toward my right eye.  It happened so fast.  The next thing I remember, I’m taking my glasses off only to find that the nail had shattered the right lens of my glasses.  God’s grace came to me in the form of a plastic lens.  
  • When I was in senior high, I was driving home from work.  I had just picked up my paycheck and was driving home on a snowy and mountainous West Virginia highway when a semi decided to pass me on the side of the road that had not been plowed yet.  His trailer jack-knifed and spun out of control, hitting my car like a baseball and sending me hurling against the side of the mountain cliff.  It happened so fast.  The next thing I know, I was laying in the middle of the road staring at my unrecognizable car with blood running down my face.  God’s grace came to me in the form of an old Buick that was too old for seatbelts.
  • When Kim and I first set out (with our incredible launch team) to plant Point of Change, we took a huge leap of faith.  One day we were praying here in the IBEW (our church building), praising God for His clear direction and next step for our church.  The next day I was having a full-blown panic attack because this crazy leap of faith came without a paycheck.  I remember sitting in the kitchen at the house telling God that we weren’t going to make it unless He stepped in.  The months leading up to the launch had happened so fast that it never occurred to me that my salary would be gone.  So, that was a loooooooooonnnnnnnnng Monday that ended with a phone meeting with my friends Lynn and Megan, our newly appointed Finance Team leaders.  They were calling to tell me to come pick up my first paycheck.  The launch team had decided to kick it into high gear and provide a part-time salary.  God’s grace came to me in the form of an answer to prayer and the kindness of friends.
This Sunday we are starting a new sermon series called, “Boy-King:  Guilty of Everything”.  It focuses on the life of Josiah as recorded in 2 Kings 22 & 23.  This young 8-year-old boy becomes the King of Judah after His sinful father is murdered.  What’s more, young Josiah has been raised in a court that has been apostate (formal disaffiliation and abandonment of God) for 57 years and that subjected all opposition to a reign of terror.  The young boy-king’s life is on a trajectory that seemingly can’t be stopped.  The nail has left the nail-gun!!  The car is racing towards the cliff!!  The paychecks have stopped!!!!  The only thing left to stop Josiah from barreling down his inherited path of destruction is the grace of God.  But, how will the grace of God come to Josiah?  In what form?
PoC, your life and my life have both been on a set path for some time.  Look at our nation, our fathers and our mothers, their choices and the choices of those who have come before them.  When you look at all that you inherited, what is the likely outcome?  I don’t know about you, but my life SHOULD have looked very different had it not been for God’s amazing grace.
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  Acts 20: 32
For the next three weeks, PoC is going to be exhilarating, joy-pumped, and grace-full.  Now would be a good time for us to invite those friends and family members to share in the waterfall!!
I’m praying for you!  Let’s keep talking about Jesus.
Pastor Todd

FAMILY IT! — Wednesday Family Devotional — “Mixtures and Solutions”

Supplies: Bible; cooking oil; 2 different drinks; 2 glasses

When I was growing up, one of my favorite TV shows was “Laverne & Shirley.”  One of the main character’s favorite drinks was milk and Pepsi.  (Gross, I know.)  Make your own “TV Show” drink by combining two different beverages in your house.  My guess is you could come up with some tasty ones.  Iced tea and lemonade, maybe.  Or perhaps Diet Cran-Cola?  If nothing else, whip up a quick glass of milk water.  Not as yummy, but it’ll make my point, because all of these are “solutions.”  Anybody taking chemistry in school this year will learn that.  You’ve combined these two things and now they make something new, something that can’t be separated again.  It’s a solution.

Try the same thing using one of your beverage choices and a little bit of cooking oil.  Stir it up really well.  Now wait a minute.  Almost immediately you’ll start to see the oil separate from the other liquid.  No matter how hard your mix it up, it will eventually split into its two parts.  That means it’s a mixture.

Read Jude 17-25 together.  Paraphrase for younger children. 

In the first half of his letter, this brother of Jesus shared about how dark the world is.  He didn’t mince words: there’s a lot of sin and it is EVERYWHERE.  It’s in our schools, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, even our homes.  Some people just seem to make it their life’s goal to try and mix up your relationships.  It’s like they enjoy dividing people and causing friction.  Bad attitudes and ungodly behaviors show up in our teammates, our coworkers, even our friends and family sometimes.  It can be hard to avoid!  

Beginning with verse 17, Jude encourages believers to persevere through it all.  He tells us to “keep [ourselves] in God’s love.”  The solution, ironically, is to be a solution, to allow our lives to blend with the Holy Spirit so completely that we become someone totally different—completely inseparable.  Too often we let Jesus in, but we keep the oily coating of doubt or past sin habits.  We get bumped our shaken in our faith, and pretty soon we’re separating out again, pulling away from our Savior.  Not good!  We don’t want to just mix it up with God—we want to be new creations, right?

How’s your solution?  Think for a few minutes about what you can do to make your relationship with God more complete.  Share some of your ideas with each other.  Now have each person in your family choose one as a goal for the week (i.e. “I’m going to spend ____ minutes in prayer every morning before I leave my room.”).  Set a date a week from now to check and see how everyone is doing.

Are you feeling mixed up?  Are there some things right now that are more challenging for you to get past?  Maybe there’s that one person who really knows how to rattle your faith cage.  Or maybe it’s a recent event that’s causing you to pull away from the Father a little.  Share that with at least one person in your family, and ask them to pray for you to increase your faith and belief in Jesus.

Dear Jesus, You are my solution.  You’re the answer to everything I need, to every want I could ever have.  Jesus, I also want my life to be a solution, a perfect combination of You in me.   Draw me close to You, Lord, so that I might never be separated.  As the world around me gets crazier and my faith gets rocked, keep me always in Your love.  In Your Name we pray, Amen.


Did you and your family enjoy this devotional blog?  We'd love to know about it!  Our hope is to continue providing this weekly opportunity for families to do a devotion together.  If your family did this devotion, please shoot us an email, text or just post a comment to this blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

EXPLORE IT - Jude Week 2

The 66 books that make up our New and Old Testaments are defined as canonical or the “rule, measure, or standard” we are given to follow.  There is also literature that that was written between 250 B.C. and A.D. 200 claiming to expand upon our canonical material.  This extra-biblical material is called the Pseudepigrapha, meaning “false title.”  This collection of books is written mostly by Jewish authors, but is preserved mainly by Christians.  These materials falsely claim to be written by authors such as Moses, Enoch, Abraham, or some other ancient hero of the faith.  This material is not part of the Jewish or Christian canon.
The book of Jude interestingly quotes two books from the Pseudepigrapha.  Jude 6 refers to an angelic fall, drawing from 1 Enoch 6-12 while Jude 14-15 quotes directly from 1 Enoch 1:9.  Jude seems to regard Enoch’s prophecy as inspired by God, but it is unlikely Jude saw 1 Enoch as canonical Scripture.  Jude also references another book, the Assumption of Moses, by discussing the dispute over the body of Moses between the devil and the archangel Michael (Jude 9).  The actual text of the Assumption of Moses is lost.  We only have secondary sources revealing the content of this book.
While most New Testament authors avoid material from the Pseudepigrapha due to its unreliable content, it is possible that some of its material is genuine.  It is believed that Jude is able to draw out truth in the midst of falsehoods.  We see Paul utilizing a similar technique when quoting pagan poets (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor 15:33; Titus 1:12), drawing out the truth while not supporting the poet themselves.
While God is truth and Scripture is truth, the world shows signs of truth here and there.  We are sometimes able to draw from non-Christian authors and music, using what was meant to harm us for good!
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20a).
Pastor Amy

Friday, August 15, 2014

Living on Mission with Jude in a Fight

Living on Mission with Jude in a Fight
Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.” Jude 3
There are times in our lives when everything feels like a fight. Our jobs are stressful. Our kids are running wild.  Our bank account is low and our debts are high. Our loved ones are not well.  We become confused by answers (or lack of answers) to our prayers. We battle dark thoughts, addiction, or depression.  We might be overwhelmingly grief stricken. During times like these we can be tempted to give up and throw in the towel.  We wonder if this faith thing really works. We shake our fist in the air and accuse God of not being there for us.  We find ourselves barely hanging on to hope by a thread. We all face battles at one point or another in our lives. 
We have to hang on and fight, Friends! Many things and sometimes even people will work against our faith. Hang on to Jesus. Hang on to the hope He plants in us. Hang on to His word. His word is called the sword of the Spirit, and that is just the weapon we must have for this fight. Fight to hang on to the precious gift that has been entrusted to us, guard it and cherish it.
One really great thing about this life of salvation is that it’s not something we’re forced to do alone. We’re not meant to do it alone. Remember, Jude wanted to talk about “this life of salvation that we have in common,” and “this faith entrusted to us.” (emphasis mine) We’ve learned that when we are living on mission – knowing that we are sent – we live with others in mind. And, the cool thing is that everyone else is doing the same!! So, we don’t have to be alone! We don’t have to be a solitary pillar of strength. On mission, we’re a family. We hold one another up. We fight for one another. We fight alongside one another on our knees in prayer. 
Let’s practice living on mission!  Put up your dukes!
Pastor Angela

Thursday, August 14, 2014

PRAY IT! Hey Jude

Jude 1:3 "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."

Jude was eager to get to what he wanted to talk about, but he HAD to take care of some other business first.  Regarding prayer, sometimes we can find ourselves in the same situation.  Have you ever wanted to pray, but really NEEDED to take care of some other business first?  I'm not talking about errands and chores, but things of a spiritual nature... things like our relationship with God and others. 

How is your daily presence/relationship with God?

How healthy is your presence/relationship with others?

Our prayer lives can hit a wall if we have issues that need addressed between ourselves and God, or ourselves and others.  Just like children who may want to hide from their parents because of something they did, we too can often put off our prayer time/conversations with God because we have some business to take care of with Him, like asking for forgiveness.

The good news is, our God is faithful.  1 John 1:9 says:  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Dear God,

Please search my heart and draw anything to my attention that needs to be forgiven, that needs to change, or that needs my obedience.  Please help me surrender every area of my life to you.


Tonight's prayer service is at 6pm (instead of the typical 7pm) for Blessing of the Backpacks.  All are welcome as we pray together for students, faculty/staff, and schools in our community. 

Pastor Celia

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

FAMILY IT! — Wednesday Family Devotional — “Fight for Your Faith”

Supplies: Bible; paper and pen

Have you ever worked really hard to do something that you really wanted to preserve, to keep just the way you did it?  I knew this family when I was a kid, and the mom was a neat freak.  She didn’t just tidy—she did spring cleaning almost daily.  While the kids were at school, she dusted every room, scrubbed the bathroom and kitchen, and vacuumed the whole house.  Every. Day.  And because a clean house was so important to her, when the kids got home from school, they weren’t allowed to go to their rooms.  They could play downstairs or do homework in the kitchen, but that was it until bedtime.  She didn’t want them to mess up the clean.  It was so important, she was willing to fight for those dust-free dressers and clutter-free floors.  Woe to any person who put a footprint on those fresh vacuum tracks!

Take turns sharing something your worked hard for that you wanted to keep.  Maybe you built a really cool tower with blocks or Legos and didn’t want to tear it down.  Maybe you drew an amazing picture on a chalkboard and didn’t want anyone to erase it.  Maybe you spent all day cleaning your room until it was spotless and didn’t want it to get messed up again.  Ok, maybe not that last one, but something, right? What made it so important to you?  What did you do or what were you willing to do to preserve it?

Read Jude 1-16 together.  Paraphrase for younger children. 

Jude wrote this great letter to all believers.  It’s not just to the church-goers of his time—it’s to anyone who has started a relationship with Jesus.  Jude warns us about a pitfall that many followers of Jesus stumble into.  He knows how great it is to start a saving relationship with Jesus, to have our sins wiped clean and be given a new heart.  We feel incredible, full of the power of the Holy Spirit.  Often we don’t recognize the darkness that other people are bringing back into our world.  Our friends begin to tease us because of our new faith.  The notice we’re acting differently—being nicer, not gossiping, helping people—and they tell us to lighten up and chillax.  Or worse, they start calling us names.  You turn to a friend who goes to a different church, and they tell you that it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you believe in God.  They twist the Word around and suddenly you’re not sure what’s right and what’s not.

When that starts to happen, Jude says we need to FIGHT FOR OUR FAITH.  We have to be willing to take a stand and defend what we believe, what we know to be true.  Just like the examples you shared earlier, we have to value the purity of our faith, of our relationship with Jesus so much that we’re willing to rock some boats to keep it strong.  

What are ways your can fight for your faith?  What are some things you can do to keep your relationship with God strong when other people are trying to mess it up or tear it down?  Share some ideas with each other.  Write them down.  Put them some place where you can all read them again.  This is one of those things that comes up again and again, and it’s good to have a game plan.  

My guess is some of you have already had your boats rocked a little.  Someone has walked on your clean carpets a little and you’re maybe wondering what’s what.  That’s ok.  Doubt and questions are normal at times.  If you have some questions about God or about faith, take some time to talk about them now.  What confuses you?  Is there anything about Jesus that just doesn’t make sense? Whatever’s on your mind!  Mom and Dad, if you’re not sure about some of these answers, you can always contact our Children’s Pastor Karin Orwig or our Youth Pastor Scott Perschall (or even Pastor Todd).  In fact, any of our pastoral team would be delighted to answer any questions you may have.  If that’s what it takes, do it!  Fight for your faith and for the faith of your kids!

Jesus, You did an amazing thing.  You died on the cross so I could have a relationship with God the Father, so that I could know forgiveness and be saved.  That is so important, Jesus, and I’m willing to fight for that truth in my life.  Give me the courage I will need to hold on to my faith in the middle of darkness and difficulties.  In Your Name we pray, Amen.


Did you and your family enjoy this devotional blog?  We'd love to know about it!  Our hope is to continue providing this weekly opportunity for families to do a devotion together.  If your family did this devotion, please shoot us an email, text or just post a comment to this blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

EXPLORE IT - Jude Week 1

Our Scripture passages for this week and next are from the book of Jude.  This short letter is only twenty-three verses long and tucked away in the back of the New Testament right before the book of Revelation.  It is written by Jude, a very common name in this time.  The Greek work for Jude (Iou,daj) can also be rendered as Judas, Judah, and Judea.  The most famous man with this Greek name is Judas Iscariot.
Because this is a very common name, the author specifies who he is in the opening of his letter.  By declaring he is “a slave” or “a servant” or Jesus, we identify this Jude as one of the few involved in the early church.  With his declaration to be a brother of James, we recognize this Jude as being the brother of Jesus.  The recipients of this letter would understand James to be the brother of Jesus.
We know this letter was written prior to A.D. 68 because Peter borrows some of the material from this letter in his own letter we know as the book of 2 Peter.  Jude wrote to Christians within the church, alerting them of false brothers in the faith who were infiltrating the churches.  These false believers and false teachers were encouraging division, doubt, and cynicism and being motivated by greed and lust.  Jude is emphasizing Jesus as Lord and even though freedom comes with our faith, it is not a license to do whatever we wish.  These teachings from Jude are very timely as we too need to be alert for false teachers trying to lead us astray.  We need to heed Jude’s instruction to pray, persist in faithfulness to God, and continue to be merciful to one another.
Pastor Amy

Saturday, August 9, 2014

PREPARE FOR IT! - Saturday Reading - Book of Jude

Tomorrow's sermon will include the following scripture.  
Let's read it together today to prepare our hearts.

Greetings from Jude

This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.
I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.
May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.

The Danger of False Teachers

Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.
In the same way, these people—who claim authority from their dreams—live immoral lives, defy authority, and scoff at supernatural beings. But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.) 10 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction. 11 What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.
12 When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots. 13 They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness.
14 Enoch, who lived in the seventh generation after Adam, prophesied about these people. He said, “Listen! The Lord is coming with countless thousands of his holy ones 15 to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict every person of all the ungodly things they have done and for all the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
16 These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want.

A Call to Remain Faithful

17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them.
20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.
22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

A Prayer of Praise

24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Living On Mission with Jesus

Living On Mission with Jesus

What do you think life is like in the Kingdom of God?  It’s probably not what most people expect.  Matthew 9 gives us some examples of the things Jesus did when He was preaching and teaching about the Good News of the Kingdom.  He healed a paralyzed man to prove that He could also forgive sins.  He befriended a tax collector.  He hung out with sinners.  He feasted instead of fasted.  He healed a sick (and unclean) lady on His way to raise a young girl from the dead.  He healed two blind men.  He exorcised a demon that kept a man from talking.  These things surprised and confused folks.  They didn’t expect a holy man to touch an unclean woman or to hang out with sinful people.  That was against the rules.  Wasn’t it?  Every time He demonstrated the way of the Kingdom, it went against religious traditions and WOW people didn’t like that…but they did like the miracles, and they did recognize that He had authority.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

We are called and commissioned to be His workers and announce the Good News about the Kingdom.  People will probably be confused because most have such a distorted view of God and His Kingdom.  Have compassion on them.  Heal them.  Befriend them.  Hang out with them.  Love them.  Give them a glimpse of the Kingdom.  We serve a mighty God who longs for people to come to Him and gain eternal life.

Let’s practice living on mission and get caught RedHanded – LovingOurCity.

Pastor Angela

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Contend Together - A Letter From Pastor Todd

Dear PoC Contenders,
I’m really looking forward to worshiping with you this coming Sunday.  Summer has roared by with such speed and I have missed being with all of you.  I’m excited to jump into this next sermon series, “Hey Jude: Put Up Your Dukes!”  I believe God has a lot to show us through this short but powerful New Testament letter.  I’d encourage you to go ahead and read through this great and wonderful “put up your dukes” scripture.  
Years ago, I helped direct a youth camp.  One night I was given the task of supervising a late night talk that was taking place in the tabernacle between some college-aged men and a group of female campers.  I didn’t know what the talk was about, but I sat in the back and listened to what quickly became a hot mess.  The men intended to talk to these young ladies about how to keep the bar high and how they should not settle for less when choosing to date someone.  A fine message  - Yes!  But, what I saw in the delivery was another motive, another agenda.  These self-appointed message-men, obviously, were taking great pride in being “that sweet guy” who offered such “cute” advice.  After the talk, those winky-eyed college men each received about a hundred hugs (the pay-off) each with all the “You are a princess” drama and tears that you would expect.  There was no mention of God, no mention of Jesus, no mention of the Bible.  It became clear to me that these young men were finding their significance in being “knights in shining armor” more than in being messengers of wise Gospel.
When I spoke to them that night, I had intended to bring a very positive and uplifting word about our shared hope, but a great big “BUT FIRST . . .” that could not be stopped rose up out of my chest and out of my mouth.  I couldn’t proceed to the message until I had first addressed this very “false” display that I had witnessed.  My message was, “Guard your heart . . . God must have the spotlight.”  I felt as if the most pressing thing at that time was to pull the focus back to God, to His Son, to His Spirit, to His Word, and to His mission.  Truth is, very wise men and women have had to have the same talk with me over the years.  It’s a needed understanding.
This is what we see happening in Jude.  Jude looks forward to talking to the church about the hope of Jesus’ salvation, but other things are happening.  A great big “BUT FIRST” rises up within Jude and contends for listening ears.  I think His message is just as meaningful, powerful, and applicable today as it was then.
I look forward to contending with you and your family this week.  Invite.  Invite.  Invite.
God is not done saving us.
Your Pastors Are Praying For You!

PRAY IT! Compassion for Crowds

When I see a large crowd, my first instinct is to retreat quickly.  Needless to say, you probably won't find me at Walmart on a Saturday mid-morning!  In Matthew 14:14, we read about one of the many, many instances of the compassion Jesus had for others, including large crowds.  "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." 

In Matthew 9, we are exposed time and time again to instances where Jesus acted compassionately toward those who were in need and hurting.  He extended friendship.  He provided healing.  He offered steadfast love.  In verse 13, Jesus suggests to the Pharisees, who are questioning his friendship with sinners, that they "Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ "

Jesus also had a top-notch prayer life.  One of the most essential things we can do as we live the compassionate life God has called us to is to pray for people.  Pray for individuals.  Pray for crowds.  Pray.  Yet this is often an easily skipped step.  Why?  Distractions of life?  A desire to skip ahead to actions that seem to have more tangible results?  Feeling like your own relationship with God isn't where it needs to be ,so how could you possibly come to God on behalf of others?  Whatever the reason, God has an answer:  Pray.  God has a solution:  Come to me!

Pray now for God to remove barriers and distractions. 
Consider selecting a specific time and place for you to pray as you and God work to make prayer intentional and consistent.
Prayer pairs quite well with Scripture - consider combining prayer and Bible reading time and see what happens.
Prior to interceding on behalf of others, spend some time praising God and thanking Him for what He has done for you (and others).  Spend some time asking God to forgive you.  God is faithful.  Remind yourself constantly of who God is... who it is you are praying to... and watch the obstacles and hurdles come down!

In order to pray compassionately for the people around us, we need a healthy prayer life, and we need Godly compassion.  Spending time with God daily is the response and solution to increasing our compassion for the people God has placed in our lives.

Jesus, stir my heart with compassion for the broken and hurting around me.  Teach me what it means to show "kindness" when I travel through my city.  Amen.

Join us tonight at 7pm - The PoC Prayer Service. 

Pastor Celia