Confronting the Challenges
Difference Maker • January 17, 2021 • Josh Reich
All dreams, visions, and change projects face challenges. We have to face them to move through them. Moral authority (influence) is what gives us the ability to confront the challenges in our lives. When we live a life that can’t be argued with, that people can’t turn away from, we will have influence that lasts.
Praying and Planning
Difference Maker • January 10, 2021 • Josh Reich
To accomplish what God puts on our hearts, we will need to pray and plan. Often, we lean towards one end of the spectrum: we pray and wait and do nothing, or we plan and plan and take God out of the equation. But God’s hand was on Nehemiah as he prayed and planned.
Vision For Your Life
Difference Maker • January 3, 2021 • Glen Elliott
We need to discover God’s vision for our lives and the way that we do that is by seeing what breaks God’s heart; praying through that so that we can move forward with our one word for the year that fits into the vision for our lives. That word or vision doesn’t have to be grandiose, it can be very simple like grandkids, work, etc.
ADVENT: Anticipating Christmas • December 20, 2020 • Josh Reich
When we think of joy, we often think of happiness, but joy is actually deeper than happiness and is not connected to our circumstances. As we are in the season of Advent, the season of waiting, we wait with anticipation, but we wait knowing what God has done in the past. These past works are not only what we hope for in the future, but also how we experience joy in the incomplete places of our lives today. We know God is at work and that He gives good gifts to his children. In Advent, we need to learn to enjoy the good gifts God has given to us.
ADVENT: Anticipating Christmas • December 13, 2020 • Glen Elliott
In our relationships, our world, and in our hearts, we long for peace. No matter how difficult our circumstances, we can have peace right now. But peace is not the absence of conflict or trouble, rather it’s based on a real, active, and trusting relationship with God through Jesus. Jesus creates an open relationship with God that results in a powerful deep inner peace. So when peace eludes us, we refocus on the one who gives peace - the Prince of Peace.
ADVENT: Anticipating Christmas • December 6, 2020 • Josh Reich
Advent/Christmas is about hope, the hope that Jesus came and will one day come again, but we often lose that hope. 2020 has taken hope away for many of us, and a lot of us have become jaded. Yet, we are invited to hope in Jesus, because He hears us. Even as we wait, we can still have hope. Because the night does end, and the sun rises again.
Changed People Are Connected People
This is Pantano • November 29, 2020 • Glen Elliott
We won’t, and we can’t grow on our own. We all have spiritual blind spots, and we need others to help us see them. God brings others into our lives and uses others to grow our faith. The Bible encourages us to choose wisely who we invite into our lives and who we allow to influence us. We need to be proactive in allowing others to help us become more like Jesus.
We Are Unapologetic Grace Givers
This is Pantano • November 22, 2020 • Glen Elliott
Our world operates on the principle of fairness and justice. Many people practically live by the belief of karma, even if they are not Hindu or Buddhist. It’s the law of “you get what you deserve.” However, Jesus turns that all upside down. He offers grace. He gives us what we don’t deserve and could never earn. And the grace he gives allows us to be unapologetic grace givers.
This is Pantano • November 8, 2020 • Josh Reich
So many connect the church with a building. During the seven plus months of COVID, we did not have physical services, but we were still the church. The church in China is exploding and can’t have buildings. The church is bigger than a building. Church is who we are wherever we are. That’s because the church is part of something bigger - the kingdom! So we put the kingdom first in our lives and as a church body. We look to join God wherever he’s at work and help expand God’s influence in our lives and spheres of influence.
This is Pantano • November 1, 2020 • Glen Elliott
Jesus tells a story about a shepherd leaving the flock of ninety-nine sheep to go find the one. He tells the story in the context of his own example. He welcomed and connected with those who were considered lost and needing to repent. Everyone has value and matters to God. So we go looking for the one who needs Jesus. There’s nothing that matters more.
Offense and Forgiveness
Unstuck • October 4, 2020 • Glen Elliott
For many of us, bitterness can be traced to a relationship that didn’t go as we hoped or we experienced some deep hurt from. Often, we will hold onto things that the other person isn’t even dealing with, allowing them to take up real estate in our hearts. We must learn how to confront what we can address, then forgive. Forgiveness is the path to freedom from the bitterness and the power the hurt has over us.
Grief and Lament
Unstuck • October 18, 2020 • Rebecca Hamlin
Life can be a series of ungrieved losses. Loss is incredibly difficult to navigate in life and if we don’t deal with it, we will become angry, bitter, or depressed. Grief and loss are a part of life, and a place that Jesus meets us in. God’s invitation is to bring our grief to him through lament. In lament we bring the full range of human experience and emotion, the depth of our pain, the reality of our loss, our brokenness, our questions, our doubts to God. As we do that, we also remember his character, we recommit our trust in Him, and we rediscover our hope.
Expectations, Disappointments and Cynicism
Unstuck • October 25, 2020 • Josh Reich
At some point, we look up in life and think, “I expected life to turn out differently.” We expected to be married by a certain age or that our marriage would go a certain way. That we would have kids by now, or they would play out differently. The same goes for our health, our careers, house, etc. What do you do when your expectations in life aren't met? If we aren’t careful, we end up disappointed and cynical, which leads us to a place of bitterness.
When God Doesn’t Make Sense
Unstuck • October 11, 2020 • Josh Reich
One of the biggest places we experience bitterness is when God doesn’t do what we hope or expect. Why does God allow certain things to happen? Why does He stop some things but not others? We must learn how to reconcile our bitterness towards God so that we can handle the other places bitterness creeps in. When we do this, God changes our perspective to begin to see what He is doing behind the scenes of our lives that we can’t see.