In the modern world, three words seem to dominate the conversation: overwhelmed, overscheduled, and exhausted. It feels like we're all caught in this relentless race, constantly running on empty, stressed to the max.
But if we dive into the teachings of Jesus, he offers a different perspective. In Mark 12:28b-30, Jesus emphasizes the importance of loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This profound commandment reminds us of the significance of slowing down and truly connecting with God.
The humbling truth is, we can't genuinely love Jesus when we're always in a hurry. Rushing becomes the enemy of prayer, Bible study, and even being filled with the Holy Spirit. Many of us get so consumed with the hustle and bustle of life that we end up skimming the surface of our spiritual icebergs.
Jesus also taught about the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves. But if we're constantly on the move, how can we genuinely connect, talk, listen, and enjoy life with our loved ones?
So, here's a radical idea: We must eliminate hurry and rush from our lives. But how? Here are some steps inspired by the teachings of both Moses and Paul:
Moses, in Psalm 90, highlights the brevity of life. With the average lifespan being around 77.28 years in the USA, every moment is precious. Life is filled with both joy and pain, but it's crucial to remember that pain is temporary. At the end of our journey, we find solace in Jesus.
Paul's letter to the Ephesians also sheds light on living wisely. He urges us to be intentional with our time, making the most of every opportunity. This doesn't mean cramming our schedules with endless tasks. Instead, it's about focusing on what truly matters: our relationship with God, our loved ones, and our personal growth.
In conclusion, if we want to relate to God in an emotionally healthy way, it's time to step out of the fast lane. Embrace your limits, learn to say "no," and create margin in your life. In doing so, we can deepen our connection with God and experience the richness of a life lived with purpose and passion.
- Adapted from sermons preached at our Walloon Lake campuses on 10/29/23.
You know how icebergs are mostly hidden beneath the water, with only a small tip visible above? Well, that’s kinda how many of us are. We show the world a polished, "all-is-well" exterior while keeping our inner struggles and emotional baggage hidden deep down.
Here’s the kicker: It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature. Think about it.
Remember Moses? Led thousands out of Egypt, right? But he was also a stutterer and had some not-so-great moments in his past. King Saul? Tall and handsome, but also riddled with insecurity and jealousy. And don’t get us started on David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter, Timothy, and Paul. These biblical heavyweights weren't perfect. They had their fair share of mess and brokenness.
What's so inspiring about them? They were real, vulnerable, and God still used them for great purposes. Their stories remind us that, no matter our past or present struggles, Christ's transformative power can turn things around. He can use our mess to create a message, our test to give a testimony.
Paul’s journey sheds light on the beauty of vulnerability. Even with his impressive résumé, he chose to boast about his weaknesses rather than his strengths. Why? Because he recognized that it was through these weaknesses that God's power shined the brightest. When we’re weak, humbled, and fully dependent on Jesus, that’s when His power is most evident in us.
Many of us have "thorns" - those persistent problems or pains that we wish God would just take away. But sometimes, God doesn't remove them. Instead, He amplifies His grace, showing us that His power is made perfect in our weakness.
So, where does this leave us? We have two choices. One, we can get mad at God for not "fixing" things. Or two, we can embrace our vulnerabilities, lean into His grace, and recognize that when we’re weak, we’re actually strong. Because in our weakness, God's strength shines through.
Over the years and through various challenges, many of us have come to deeply understand Paul's words: "For when I am weak, then I am strong.” So, let's wear our scars as badges of honor, knowing they tell a story of grace, redemption, and God's unwavering love.
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on 10/22/23.
There’s a topic we, especially in the Western Church, tend to dance around - grief and loss. Let’s be real, it's inevitable. Everyone, at some point, faces challenges that pierce the heart deeply, whether it’s the loss of a loved one, betrayal, or an unexpected twist in life's journey.
Taking a leaf from Jonathan Edwards’ sermon on Job, Edwards highlighted that Job’s story is basically our story. While Job faced multiple tragedies in a single day, our losses might be spread out over our lifetimes. But hey, regardless of the timing, the pain stings the same, doesn't it?
Now, here's the catch: the Church often lacks the proper dialogue around grief. We've become masters of throwing around comforting phrases like "God is good always!" without truly acknowledging or sitting in our pain. The thing is, embracing and processing this pain is critical. Just as the Psalms and stories of great biblical figures like Job and Jesus teach us, there's life and growth after facing the tough times.
Let’s jump back in time and take a stroll with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Most of us dream of joining Jesus on the boat or feeding the 5,000, but Gethsemane? That’s a whole different ball game. This was the place where Jesus deeply felt His sorrow, preparing for the greatest 'grief and loss' in history.
Observing Jesus, we learn three essential lessons for our journeys:
Even during the hardest times, the light of Jesus shines brightly in us. As the Apostle Paul put it, our bodies might be like fragile clay jars, but they hold an extraordinary treasure - the presence and power of Christ.
Facing our grief and losses isn't easy. But with the right approach, leaning on our community, and drawing strength from our faith, we can navigate the toughest times and come out stronger.
Keep the faith, shine your light, and remember: after the darkest nights, there's always a dawn.
- Adapted from sermons preached at our 3 campuses on 10/15/23.
Have you ever felt like giving up because your faith walk seemed too messy or painful? Rest assured: you're not alone.
And maybe you've hit not just one, but ten walls in your lifetime. And each time, it's easy to ask God, "Why? Why now? Why this?" And while in those moments, you might've preferred a shortcut. In hindsight, you can be genuinely grateful for each challenge. They've shaped you, humbled you, and most importantly, drawn you closer to Jesus.
Consider Abraham - a titan of faith - faced with an unimaginable wall: the command to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. Can you imagine the internal turmoil? But Abraham's unwavering obedience showcased the depth of his faith. God's test was severe, but it revealed Abraham's heart and strengthened his relationship with the Almighty. This story is a poignant reminder that God knows what we need even when we don't understand it. Like Abraham, our blessings often come after we've confronted and overcome our walls.
So, where are you in your faith journey? If you're at a wall, feeling stuck or frustrated, remember that walls aren't dead ends; they're opportunities. They teach us to surrender, to trust more deeply, and to experience God's transformation from the inside out.
In the end, it's not about our frail and fickle love for Jesus; it's about His steadfast love for us. So, hold tight, keep the faith, and let's journey through these walls together, embracing the lessons and blessings they bring!
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on 10/8/23.