Viewing entries tagged
christianity

Not Every Day is Good

Not Every Day is Good

I am a homemaker, A stay-at-home-mother, housewife, manager of domestic affairs, whatever you may call me; I get the privilege to stay at home and raise 3 beautiful boys, it’s not easy but it’s worth it. 

I say that I get the privilege to stay at home with them because I believe that there is power in the way I think about it and speak about it; “it” being my job as a mother and a wife.

Lately, I’ve been getting frustrated due to the fact that things don’t always go my way. That’s where negativity and frustration decided to creep in my life.  

All These Things

All These Things

Have you ever been frustrated, looking for your keys, while you’re late for work, and haven’t had the chance to have breakfast or your coffee? Or how about having a looming deadline, and your kids won’t go to sleep, and all that stands between you and the deadline is a quick proof reading and hitting the send key?

What about this; being at your wits end in that relationship, feeling under appreciated, and feeling as though you are holding the weight of that relationship.

Aren’t those situations the worst?

The Worthy Unworthy

The Worthy Unworthy

What's keeping you from reaching your true God-given potential? Scripture says this, "Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

We talk about legacy at Freedom and what it means to leave something positive behind for our family, our community, and our world.

How excited do you get when you hear a story about a young person being the first in their family to graduate? Or a non-profit celebrating an anniversary of helping people for "X" number of years? Or a country gaining precious freedom from oppression?

What Motivates Your Response?

What Motivates Your Response?

How do you respond to disappointment? I ask this because disappointment is inevitable in life and I'm learning that how you respond makes all the difference. There was one major disappointing factor that I was not prepared for. The truth is, this should not have caught me by the surprise. But it did.

In my city. The place where I am raising my children. The place that I feel called to spend the rest of my ministry career, if it is in the Lord's will... I was hit by a menacing racial slur.

Watch Your Mouth

Watch Your Mouth

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Did your mother ever tell you this, “if you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”? Even if your mother never told you this, I bet you’ve heard it from others and have probably repeated it yourself. I am self-aware enough to admit that I talk a lot. Especially when I’m passionate about something. If you know me personally you know this fact is true!

Right now this nation—this world looks like it's gone to the birds! Every time you turn on the TV there is some sort of injustice. Some aspect of debauchery. Some sentiment of hate, ill will, political rivalry that honestly contributed to making me physically sick this weekend.

Let me be real.

I was disappointed and disgusted to the point that I wanted to either speak out or disengage. Honestly, none of those options would have been helpful.

So, I turned to Facebook (yes you guessed it).

I’d had enough. People were going to hear what I had to say and I wasn’t going to hold back any punches. I was going to put in my two cents, forget that, I was about to withdraw my account and throw in all the cash!

But every time I typed a post, something caused me to delete it before I hit “post”. What was it? It was the conviction caused by a simple proverb written by the wisest man who ever lived.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)

The word that I was about to speak was not going to be served on a silver platter but on a platter of frustration, anger, and disappointment. Thank God that the Holy Spirit in God’s grace held me back from speaking in that vain.

Why do I share this?

  1. Right now there is a lot of raw emotion with what’s happening in our country. Let’s be honest. Things are messed up! If you say you can’t see it or feel like it will blow over, then honestly, you are part of the problem.
  2. We (notice I said WE), who consider ourselves Christians, cannot stand aloof and watch injustices happen without speaking up (Psalm 82:3-4). However, “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Let’s be conscious of our communication. Let’s choose solutions over slander.
  3. Jesus has won. No matter what we see or what we hear we have this promise: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I'll end with this.

You'll hear and read a lot of opinions in the news and social media. Some things you will agree with, others you will not. As you consider your response, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Wake Up

Wake Up

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My son finally fell asleep.   I could clean, get a head-start on supper, read my library book, or just mindlessly scroll through my Facebook newsfeed. Yes!

But first, coffee.

I stood up from the couch and peeked over at my baby, still snoozing by the window. I tip-toed toward the kitchen for my mug, silently applauding myself for being so stealth, and turned the corner. I narrowly missed stepping on a singing bear next to the couch. I slowly and easily stepped up to the kitchen floor and crossed the breakfast area toward the cabinet when, SCREEEEEEEEECH!

I froze.

Waited.

Waited.

Yep.

WHEAAAEEEEEAAAAAAAA! The baby started wailing as if someone pinched him. As I ran to pick him up, I heard, “Mama? Mama? I need a drink!” A tiny tip-toe on just the right spot on the wood floor of my kitchen was all it took to get things wild and crazy in my house.

What if that’s all it took by God to get us moving?

What if a simple nudge in the right direction was all we needed to serve and honor Him with our full potential? For me and many others, it takes much more than a gentle push to wake up from our sleep.

More than once, God has made his desires clear to me, only for me to stubbornly ignore them. Whether it was inviting a friend to church, helping someone in need, reading my Bible more, shedding some of the sinful baggage to which I cling so tightly, or spending more time in prayer; God has given me direct instruction and obvious insight to His will for me.

So often I find more selfish ways to fill my time. I procrastinate and get to His calling when it’s more convenient. He wants more from His children than just commitment. He wants some follow-through.

When God wanted Jonah to preach in Nineveh, stubborn Jonah acted a lot like I do and ran in the opposite direction.

God was persistent and ended up sending a gigantic fish to swallow Jonah to wake him up. Ironically, it was in the belly of the fish where Jonah begs for help. Had he gone where God was calling him in the first place, Jonah would not have been hanging out in a fish gut!

Christians often take the long way around and ignore the initial nudge, then ask for God’s assistance when we find ourselves in a tough situation.

Just like my sleeping baby, it is easy to get warm and comfy where we are in our relationship with God. Salvation is awesome because from it, we receive rest, peace, and assurance. But salvation does not end once we receive freedom. That is where it begins!

Ask God where He wants you to go, then go! The path may not be easy or practical, but His will for us is perfect. Just going is oftentimes much easier and more rewarding than running in circles, avoiding His calling.

  • Maybe you’re just beginning to hear the little creaks in the floor as God is gently asking you to get moving on His mission.
  • Maybe you’ve been running for a while and you’re exhausted and frustrated.

Wherever you are on your path, submit yourself to His will and lean on His word and promise of peace and grace. He has called us to His purpose, and while we do His will, He will refine and renew us.

Sum Total: Truth

Sum Total: Truth

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As we met as a staff this week we spent some time looking at Psalm 119:103-105, 160. We reflected on how important the Bible is to our daily lives. The writer of this psalm writes these beautiful words "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth" (Psalm 119:103). I was convicted. I've read that verse so many times but it really impacted me in a significant way.

We all have favorite things we love to eat. For the writer, I assume it was honey. For me, admittedly its burgers and fries. I could eat burgers and fries every day, no questions asked! Give me a hot, juicy burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, ketchup and mustard and you will not get a complaint from me! How much better for my health is God's word.

How much more should I look forward to hearing the timeless truths that will provide a "lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

We closed on verse 160, "The sum of Your word is truth, and everyone of your righteous ordinances is everlasting" (Psalm 119:160 NASB). The writer of The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible puts it this way:

"Your words all add up to the sum total: Truth. Your righteous decisions are eternal." (Psalm 119:160 The Message)

Are the words to the Bible tastier than a well done, burger with a side of greasy fries to me? Are they so vital to my life that without them I stumble or stub my toe as in a dark room filled with my kid’s toys (parents will get that one)? Do I understand that kings have never been able to destroy these words and that they will continue to endure till "kingdom comes"? Maybe I am not the only who's taken back by what the writer of Psalms says.

Maybe it's time to look at this sacred text with new lenses. Not just as a meal that’s tasty for the moment but fades to a memory soon after. But rather, as a never ending buffet of timeless truths that will satisfy, direct, equip and transform your world moment by moment until eternity.

Ferguson & The Case For Intentional Community

Ferguson & The Case For Intentional Community

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Photo Credit: USA Today In the past few months, weeks and especially the past few days we’ve seen our news media, Facebook and Twitter timelines flooded with one major story, Ferguson.

No this won’t be an opinion piece about wrong or right decisions. I’m not even going to share what I think was done right or what was done wrong.

The reality is that right now, we have opposing sides who see things very differently and understandably so.

Racism and injustice has long plagued our nation. The glorification of violence and crime against others has also plagued our nation. Look through the history books. Look at TV shows and film.

So what do we do? Live in silos and keep “them” over there, while “we” stay over here? Absolutely not. That’s what has caused what we are living through and experiencing now.

I was watching a news report about Ferguson that showed two images. The first was a police officer getting his head chewed off (figuratively speaking) by two individuals in an extremely intense moment. The second image was that of these same individuals with the police officer embracing in an extremely touching moment.

What happened? What made the difference?

May I offer this suggestion?

Intentional community.

It’s something we talk about a lot at Freedom. It’s actually one of our four core values, the others being the Gospel, Discipleship and Legacy.

What do we mean when we say “we value intentional community.”

Intentional community for us is founded on coming to a simple conclusion: That which connects us, is much stronger and richer than which divides us.

From the beginning of time we learn that man was once intimately connected with his Creator. But disobedience lead to the first separation (Genesis 3:6, 8-9). Then pride and envy (Genesis 4:6-8). Then greed (Genesis 13:10). Then racism (Exodus 1:9-10). Then religion (Matthew 9:10-11). Amongst other things.

Yet one Man, was able to break through all of these boundary lines to restore unity between man and his Creator and between man and his fellow brother/sister.

Yes, that was Jesus.

He broke through the ultimate separation, time and space to enter into our messed up, degenerate world. He didn’t find it condescending to come down to our level. He didn’t find it burdensome to meet us where we are. But rather, it was His passion to come and restore this lost unity (John 3:16, Philippians 2:6-8).

What makes it even more amazing is that we were the ones who were wrong (Romans 5:6, 8). Yet He pursued restoration and gave it to us as a gift (Ephesians 2:8). That is good news. That is the Gospel.

Remember the two images I mentioned above? One picture intense with anger. The next picture intense with understanding. The reason is, both parties decided to put their differences aside and get to know each other. They decided to engage in intentional community.

David Anderson, shares this African proverb in his book Gracism: The Art of Inclusion:

When I saw him from afar, I thought he was a monster. When he got, closer I thought he was just an animal. When he got closer, I recognized that he was a human. When we were face to face, I realized that he was my brother.

Sometimes our boundaries are racial. Sometimes cultural. Sometimes political. Sometimes economical. But in order to break through each barrier, it always has to be intentional.

Jesus intentionally pursued you and me because He valued us. Now He sends us to intentionally pursue others regardless of race, culture, economics, political standing or position on the Ferguson case (Matthew 28:19-20).

How do you do this practically?

You change your table of community.

You intentionally reach out across the divide. You begin to engage intentionally with individuals who don’t look like you, live like you, or know what you know. You learn their struggles, their hopes and their dreams. You become a friend. Then you will become family.

That’s what we are doing at Freedom.

We are intentionally fostering a community where individuals are encouraged and able to engage in intentional community.

A community where we realize that what connects us is much stronger and richer than what divides us.

We are broken, undeserving, sinful people, who are being loved and pursued by a perfect, sinless, all deserving Savior. Through Jesus we find restoration not only with God but with each other so we can love across boundaries (Galatians 3:27-28) and make a unified, tangible difference in our community, region and world (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 5:14-16).

Here are some great resources by David Anderson as you begin to see how to engage in intentional community: Gracism: The Art of Inclusion & Letters Across the Divide

Learn more about changing your table of community in this great video for someone who is living this:

10 Reasons You Should Show Up

10 Reasons You Should Show Up

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Check the update at the end of the post below! Wow! Who would have thought that what began as a late night conversation between my wife and I (which my wife totally shrugged off at the time) would be coming to fruition in just 5 days! I don't know if you've heard but this coming Sunday, October 12, we are having our first monthly preview service with a series called Built for More. You maybe wondering what a preview service is.

Its a full worship celebration, almost identical to those we will have when we officially launch in March, just 6 months from now. The only difference? These services will be once a month on the second Sunday. The preview services dates and time can be found here.

So we, Team Freedom, want to give you 10 reasons why you should attend a preview service?

  1. It's probably 5 minutes from your house...everything is around the corner in Niles.
  2. You like free coffee. We won't judge you if you come back for seconds, or thirds...well maybe...kidding.
  3. You work a lot! Come enjoy some down time.
  4. You've been meaning to find a new church anyway.
  5. Are you new in town? So are we. You'll fit in great!
  6. We love kids and our Freedom Kid's team is willing to take good care of yours while you have fun with the big kids.
  7. Our service is short and straight forward.
  8. You don't have to be perfect and have your life altogether to be accepted.
  9. You know you are built for more. So we are kicking off an awesome teaching series to lead you to living out your full potential!
  10. We love Jesus, we love people and we love seeing people find freedom in Jesus.

There you have it! 10 reasons why you should join us for our preview services starting October 12 at 10 a.m. inside Eastside Connections School!

Here's the address: 315 N 14th Street, Niles, MI 49120.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Update:

We had an awesome time! Here are some pics >> First Preview Service

We've Been Set Free

We've Been Set Free

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Today, so many people have the feeling that being a follower of Christ is largely defined by a list of dos and dont’s. Their mind automatically thinks that in order to be “good enough” to be a Christian they have to go out of their way to do something or be someone. They feel burdened, stressed, confused, or even condemned.

The concept that seems to slip by unnoticed is that there is nothing we can do and no one we can be that will ever gain us admittance into the kingdom of God. It’s already been done.

Jesus set us free!

We are no longer enslaved to a life of sin and guilt. It’s like someone unlocked all the doors to the prison, but some people haven’t realized it yet. Or maybe they’re afraid of what’s waiting for them on the other side.

I believe in the vision of Freedom Community Church because it will be a church devoted to showing people that the chains are broken and we have been set free.

It will show them that it is worth stepping out into the freedom Christ won for us on the cross so that we can embrace the fullness of the life he gives. This freedom will help people realize that being a true follower of Christ doesn’t mean living a life driven by obligation, but desire. A desire to walk with him and experience the connection and joy we were created for.

Niles is a community in need of a movement where the focus is on the message of the cross rather than a message of “this is how you should behave.” It is a community ready for the freedom Christ gives.

It is a community ready for “a gospel-centered movement called Freedom Community Church.”

Really...Another Church?

Really...Another Church?

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I've come to enjoy getting the question "So, what do you do?" I can never tell the reaction I'm going get when I answer, "Well, I'm actually in the process of establishing a new church with a few friends." Some people, even "churchy" people don't get why in the world I would venture out on this endeavor.

Truthfully, even I've wondered why we're starting a new church. Then I remember that I'm not starting anything new. God is at work and has always been. We’ve only been invited to join Him as He builds His Church.

From the beginning of Christianity, God has used the establishment of new churches across the world as the primary vehicle of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They come together to celebrate Jesus' life and mission. They come together to learn how to live out this mission, and are mobilized to teach others to do the same.

Unfortunately, some churches have fallen into one of two extremes. They've either become self-serving and stagnant or they've compromised biblical principles for the sake of progress.

However, there are some churches who have stayed true to the central message of the Gospel found in the Bible. They've also progressed with the world around them. These churches are not stagnant but are alive with individuals who live and serve with passion and purpose as they follow Jesus.

When God laid it on our hearts to establish Freedom Community Church in Niles, Michigan, He called us to establish that type of church.

We were compelled by His words in Isaiah 43:19 :

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

I've had the privilege of speaking with leaders in the community and it's been amazing to hear what's happening in Niles! God is truly doing a new thing in our community. Freedom has been called to join Him.

Specifically, we've been called to help people find freedom in following Jesus.

Along with that, we've been called to help foster intentional community across boundaries. We believe we are greater together than we are divided. We've also been called to inspire and equip people to pursue excellence at home, in the marketplace and in our community. We believe that as we learn more about Jesus, we will begin to reflect His nature; how He loved and served those around Him.

Maybe God is doing something new in you. Maybe after reading this you feel compelled to be a part of this "new thing" God is doing. Here are three ways you can do so:

  1. You can pray for the establishment of Freedom Community Church
  2. You can help Freedom meet its financial needs by giving generously to the work being established
  3. You can join our launch team whose goal is to successfully launch Freedom Community Church

We would love to have you be a part of this “new thing” that God is doing.

Let us know how God is calling you to join him at work in Niles with Freedom Community Church by sending us a message here.

So, are we starting a new church? Yes and no. Yes, we are joining God's global movement to establish authentic communities who embrace, teach and live out the mission of Jesus. No, there's nothing new about that!

The Gospel

The Gospel

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“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

It’s hard to believe that even though I grew up in a Christian home, attended a year of Christian school and was a baptized member of my church, I didn’t know what the Gospel was!

The sad reality is that there are a lot of Christians that don’t know what the Gospel is. It’s not their fault. I’ve heard countless sermons where the Gospel was not preached. The Gospel is the good news of the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

To be even more direct, the Gospel is the free gift of God’s favor which we did not earn, through the sacrifice of His Holy and blameless Son, Jesus, to save undeserving, unholy sinners from the penalty of death.

As humans born separated from God we have no hope (Psalm 51:5). Adam, who was the first created human, started a downward spiral that led to the degradation of humanity resulting in death. This was the result of his disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-24, Romans 5:19).

Because of that, our lives were to be lived in fear of God as we awaited judgment; because as humans bent on rebelling everything godly, we could not come into the Holy presence of God (Deuteronomy 5:24-27).

Then we read this:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Not because we deserved it. Not because we asked for it. But because of His grace and love (Ephesians 2:4-9). Romans 5:8 says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Through Jesus, those who repent and accept Him as Lord over their lives, no longer need to be afraid of imminent death. They have been declared righteous, freely and completely in His name. They have the guarantee of eternal life.

This is freedom!

Have you accepted this free gift of eternal life? If not, I encourage you to accept Jesus as your Savior.

If you want to gain the freedom only found through Jesus Christ, I invite you to pray this prayer:

Dear God, I have lived life separated from You. My sins are many but I know through Jesus, my slate will be wiped clean. Forgive me for all the wrong that I’ve done. Help me walk with new desires and turn my heart and mind to You. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place so I can have the hope of eternal life. I accept the gift of faith and salvation. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

If you just prayed this prayer, send us a message here, I would love to connect and celebrate with you!

Verse to Remember: For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19) Learn More About The Gospel: http://www.amazon.com/The-Explicit-Gospel-Re-Lit/dp/1433530031

(This post is taken from the upcoming daily devotional entitled VII: Seven Days of Gospel Reflections)