Greetings & Salutations SPV Saints!
I’ve noticed I’ve been using this phrase a lot lately, especially during our 10-10:30 time of Live Prayer: “man, there’s a lot going on in the world!” And while that’s true, I feel like it’s healthy to remind ourselves that it’s unlikely we could find a single window of time where that statement wasn’t true. Now, one of our big issues is that due to the fact that we are in the Information Age, we are obviously made so much more aware of not only what is going on around us, but within minutes, seconds even, what is happening on the other side of the world.
Thanks to the likes of Un/N Korea & Putin/Russia, the topic of nuclear threats have been on the rise the last few years and yet, one of the most famous Christian authors/theologians ever, C.S. Lewis, provided a pretty incredible commentary on such matters all the way back in 1948, that is as relevant today for us as it was almost 75 years ago:
“In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.’
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things--praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts--not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”
Wow, what an amazing perspective! Now, I’m not suggesting we bury our heads in the proverbial sand and pretend the issues and threats of our day aren’t real or shouldn’t be taken seriously. But…we cannot and should not allow them to dominate our lives and even rob us of the very life we’re afraid of losing to begin with!
I LOVE the classic Easter text from the morning of the resurrection: “why do you look for the living among the dead?” (LK. 24.5). And as powerful as that statement is, I believe flipping it can be just as powerful: “why do you /we focus on death (or the potential of such) when there is so much life around you/us (to be lived)?”
Go out & live some life today…to the very fullest.
Much love to you all, Pastor Chris.
Hi SPV Family,
This is Patricia.If you plant an apple tree you get apples you don’t get oranges from an apple tree.
Years ago I planted a navel orange tree and the fruit was large, juicy and very sweet. The tree grew and needed to be trimmed back so I got out the loppers and trimmed the tree, well actually I over-trimmed the tree. I cut out the part that was grafted in the tree and what was left was the root stock called Trifoliata orange. The fruit was so bitter and filled with hundreds of seeds . When the tree grew back out it looked beautiful and the fruit was bright orange but the inside of the fruit was not sweet or juicy and was very bitter to the taste.
I have really enjoyed hearing the sermons on Galatians, and many of the sermons spoke to me on a personal level. Thinking about the contrasts in Galatians made me think of my orange tree and the fruit we produce.
In Galatians chapter 3 Paul talks about receiving the Spirit of God because we believed in Jesus Christ, not because we obey the law. We are all taught to obey the “Rules'' from very early in life. If we obey the rules then we will be rewarded, this reward is because of our good behavior. God’s way is not man’s way, God gave us the Holy Spirit because of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. We don’t have to be good to receive the Holy Spirit, we just have to believe in Jesus. Because we believe in Jesus, we are saved by grace and not by the works we do. The finished work of Christ brings us into the right standing of the Father, not being a certain race, color, male, female, slave or free, but by Grace alone. Grace “The divine influence of the heart.”
We are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26 NLT
In Galatians 5:19-22 we see the difference between following our sinful natures or allowing the Holy spirit to produce fruit in us. The Holy Spirit was placed inside of us to teach us and show us Christ and when we allow the Holy Spirit to live through us, we can produce the kind of fruit that changes our lives and the lives of others. In Romans 13:14 it says “put on Christ” this means that we choose to be guided by the Mind of Christ, and when we are guided by the Holy Spirit we won’t be doing what our carnal nature craves. Fruit is produced by the tree, apples grow on apple trees and oranges grow on orange trees. Living by the Spirit of Christ produces good fruit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
Galatians 6:8 says Those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
How do we live to please the Spirit? Verse 10; Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to those in the family of faith. It is easier to produce good fruit when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.
Living by the Spirit of God gives us freedom, we are not enslaved to the law, we don't have to follow the law to be good enough to be rewarded with the Holy Spirit. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. Love is our superpower and God’s love changes the world and takes us along for the ride.
Galatians 6:15 What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.
May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
Blessings and love,
Psalms 62:5 “My soul, waits silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.”
Hi Church –
It’s Deb here. Pastor Chris asked me to share this word in the all-church email this week. It’s based on what I heard the Lord say to me before Live Prayer a couple of weeks ago so bare with me if some of it sounds familiar.
I was reading a Facebook Post created by my niece Stephanie, who is an English teacher and an amazing writer. She really allows the Holy Spirit to arrange her words so that they captivate and I love how the Lord used her situation with her teenager to speak right into my spirit as well, even though I’m passed those “teenager” years. She was essentially talking about the stress of being a mom to a teenager with “attitude”.
Here’s an excerpt of the post: “I went to my room. Sat on my bed, and in an effort to quiet the racing of my mind, I opened my devotion. But before I read, something in me beckoned my heart to seek out hers. I called her into my room, motioned her to come close, opened my arms and watched my irritability soften as it held tightly to hers. There were no words; I just held her, and she just let me. And in an instant, the private irritation she thought she was so good at controlling came seeping out through her tears as she began to break in my arms. “The mounting stress, the piles of homework, friend issues and trying to manage it all”…She’s been trying to keep it together by holding it all in, but she doesn’t realize holding it in is what’s holding her down”?
Right there – it hit me! Those words, paraphrased for the chorus of a new song I just had to write:
Doesn’t she know
That holding on is what’s holding her down
Doesn’t she know
That life is all about letting go
Doesn’t she know
How could she know
The Lord has really been working in me about “Letting Go” so when I read the words about “Holding On”, I knew this was His voice through the pen of my neice. It’s not just piles of homework and the stress of being a teenager. Even as adults, some of us are guilty (yet redeemed), of continuing to HOLD ON. We hold on to things, people, ideas, ways of thinking, etc…, far too long. We hold our emotions, stress, or frustration in until we’re going to explode. One of the positive attributes in my own personality is that I’m really good at “follow through” (which is another way of saying “holding on”). I’m persistent and I’ll persevere to the end. All good…..until it’s not. Until the Lord says….Let Go. And then it’s a cross-roads. Holding on is just easier. It’s comfortable. It’s like those old shoes that are worn out but they are our favorites. But when the Lord spoke to me about “Letting Go” this time, I really didn’t know what he wanted me to let go of. Fear, frustration, control. Oh yes. We have worked on those over the years. But the next word he gave me really took me by surprise and shook me a little. “EXPECTATIONS”. My gut felt this word rumble deep down….“I want you to Let Go of your Expectations”.
So as I pondered a little, it wasn’t really “expectations” it was “MY Expectations”. How “I” thought things should be, what “I” thought was “right”. (Me, me, me. Not again Lord. I thought we got rid of that Debbi flesh. HA!) Don’t get me wrong - I think the Lord does want us to have expectations. He wants us to expect his return (Heb 9:28). He wants us to expect an answer to prayer (Ps 5:3). So what’s wrong with “MY Expectations”? I actually had to let go of the air that was filling my lungs with a sigh. Tears rolling down my face. “Expectations” were why Jesus was put to death on the cross. The Jewish people “expected” a warrior in their Messiah. They “expected” someone who would fight against the Roman empire and overthrow with force. They didn’t “expect” a meek, humble man. So when they were given the choice to save him from the cross, they said no and shouted “Give us Barabbas” (Matt 27:21) And now here I am, centuries later. Holding Jesus on that same cross because I expected things would be different. He would be different. I could feel the heat of my own heart burning as it skipped a beat. And yet – like he did with Peter after the rooster crowed three times, Jesus looks at me with compassion. So much compassion that I am compelled to “Let Go”, realize that holding on is what’s holding me down, breath in, exhale, and “Let God”.
This message may or may not speak to you at this time in your life, but when I think about it, it might be appropriate for our church body as we prepare for our upcoming season of transition. I believe God wants us to hold on to him. Let our souls rest in Him alone. But I also believe he’s calling us to practice “letting go” with the gentle reminder that His ways are higher than our ways (Is 55:8-9). I pray that the Holy Spirit does fill us with expectation – but expectation that is drawn from Him alone, amen?
PS – If you’re on Facebook, I encourage you to go read Stephanie’s “teenager attitude” post here: https://www.facebook.com/stephanie.silvey.1/posts/10226417414282843) – and give her some love in the comments if you want.