Monthly Archives: January 2016

Take up your cross, and follow me

Take up your cross, and follow me
Mark 8:34-35
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.
Throughout my four years at Bible school we studied the Bible very intensely, reading through all different sections of the Bible and having them come alive. However, this section may have been one that has stuck with me most and continues to challenge me almost daily. Possibly you know it better from Matthew 16:24,25 or Luke 9:23,24. Whenever I see in the Gospels that multiple writers have found it important to include something, my brain clicks in and I desire to see why.
Why does this particular verse hit me so hard? Because Jesus isn’t vague, His message isn’t easy, and he’s only giving two choices. Jesus either allows people to continue in their selfish ways, hanging on to their lives and eventually losing them. Or, following Christ, taking up our cross, letting go of control of our lives, and having our lives be saved. So we can choose, try to have control even though it will never work, or just let God take control now. It’s truly a simple decision, however living it out and continuing to make that decision each day may not be so simple.
When we think about the cross we may only think of a necklace people wear around their necks now, or a symbol someone has in their house, but the cross had a much different meaning when Jesus spoke of it. This verse says we each have our crosses, and Jesus’ was death. Jesus literally had to carry the cross that he’d die on, he’d have to watch friends abandon Him, be humiliated, and ultimately die for nothing he’d done wrong but to save those who had done nothing to deserve it. Giving our lives likely will not mean death, but it could mean giving future plans, possessions, and even dreams to God.
We either choose to hold tightly onto our lives eventually having control slip away, or we give control to God right now and allowing Him to lead us on our next journey.

 

Pastor Nikki Ragush

Good News!

By Pastor Heidi Kratz

When is the last time you heard some good news? Good news can change your whole day or even your whole outlook on life.

Every morning before heading out for the day, I check the weather report and the latest news. The weather channel can sometimes bring some good news when you can see a forecast for warmer weather especially during this time of year. Catching up with the news on the other hand is not always the most encouraging way to start your day. There is a common thread through most news stories…hurting people. There are concerns about the economy, fear of terrorism, unrest and war in different parts of the world. Where is the good news?

Luke 8:1 reads “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.”

In Kids’ Church we have been studying the video series “What’s in the Bible” with Buck Denver. We have learned that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the first four books in the New Testament. These four books are called the Gospels. The word “Gospel” means good news. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus. Jesus is the good news. He is the one who can bring hope to the lives that are lost and hurting.

In Jesus’ day there were no news channels to check up on the events of the day, but people had similar experiences. People were hurting. They had different fears and were confused about the problems they were experiencing. Jesus went from “one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news”. Jesus healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and calmed the storms. He brought good news where ever he went.

In Luke 8:39 the man who was healed went away and told everyone in his town how much Jesus had done for him. In a world that doesn’t always hear good news, we need to share it with others. The hurting world needs to hear that the good news of Jesus can bring peace and hope to our lives.

Vitality

By Pastor Ruth Denboer

Titus 3: Do What Is Good

1Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. 2They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone.

3Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4But—

When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.

8This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

9Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. 10If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. 11For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.

I love that this section of Titus is called “Do What Is Good”. As mentioned in our Vitality 2016 meetings, vitality requires us to focus on what God is calling us to do and what He has asked us to refrain from doing.

We should always be ready to do what is good, to be gentle and humble. We should know the truth as mentioned in verses 4-7 because these teachings are good and beneficial for everyone.

However, we are also instructed to refrain from certain things as well. We are not to slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. We are to avoid foolish discussions so that divisions do not happen between the believers.

If we are determined to live this way, we will live with vitality in our personal lives, which will bring vitality to the church body, and through the church body, we will bring vitality to the world.

Beware of that weapon of destruction … the wedge of discord.

Let’s choose a life of vitality!