Can't have the remodeled bathroom without fixing the leak!

Can't have the remodeled bathroom without fixing the leak!

Everyone I meet with longs for God's best for them, the long to be the person that they are designed to be, they long to live in freedom! This is precisely what we have been preaching about over this last month. IT IS FOR FREEDOM THAT CHRIST HAS SET US FREE!!

While this is our heart's desire, we self-sabotage. So, if we are going to live in freedom then we must be free to do some of the scary work to clear the decks for freedom to happen.

Imagine you want to remodel your bathroom. It is only old and dated and the time is now! Most of us would like to simply knock out the shower and put in a new sink, paint the walls and call it a day. But in the process, you discover there is some mold. Our instinct is to look the other way and put the new furnishings in and paint over the mold and hope it goes away.

Everyone who knows anything about bathrooms knows that covering the problem with some new paint and furnishings just pushes the problem down the road and that problem will be exponentially more substantial when you are forced to deal with it. The correct way forward is to expose the mold, all of it! To find the leak and fix it! And then to put everything back together, usually at 4X's the cost. :) At least you now have a remodeled bathroom with everything in working order ready to be used for the next 15 years!

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God Has Given You an A+

This week’s devotional is by Pastor Dani

This week’s devotional is by Pastor Dani

God Has Given You an A+

If you think back to your days in grade school you most likely fell into one of two categories: the students trying to catch up or the students trying to stay ahead. As Christians we can fall back into one of those categories, always thinking that there’s never enough we can do to make up for our past mistakes or we are constantly trying to do something to gain and keep God’s approval. Truth is, through Christ, God has already given you an A+ in the class of life. Because of the freedom that Christ has given us Christians already have an A. The lies that Satan tries to sell as truth (failure, judgment, and condemnation) have been washed clean by the blood of the lamb. We come in with a 4.0 gpa. There’s nothing we can do to make our grade better, and nothing we do will make our grade worse. 

By the Freedom that Christ has given us through his life, death, and resurrection, Christ, secured for us a perfect grade. We come into this world with an A+ not because of what we do or didn’t do but because of what Christ did because we were incapable of doing so ourselves. We don’t need to add anything to it. Paul said this in Ephesians 2:8-10:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

All the forgiveness, the approval, the purpose, the freedom, the redemption, the meaning, the righteousness, the cleansing, the significance, the worth, and the affection that we so long for and truly need are already ours in Christ. That’s the kind of God we serve, that’s the kind of God that loves you!

Pray this prayer aloud:

Father, I thank you that the same operative power that made me a Christian is the same operative power that keeps me a Christian. Your unconditional, unqualified, underserved, unrestrained grace through the completed work of Christ is enough. I have been given the freedom to trust you and know that I am yours forever and ever. Show me, right now, how to walk and live out this truth. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen. 

The only thing that counts . . .

The only thing that counts . . .

I am not how this became important, but there is something in our core being that needs to compare ourselves to others. We know we are doing a good job by being better than others, by being further down the road than others. And we find peace when our tribe affirms us, our convictions and our lifestyles.

We do this in regards to politics, to health, to education, and especially to religion.

Christians have not been immune to this sort of judgementalism and self-righteousness. Strange since the core of Jesus' teaching is selflessness, humility, and love. Do not judge, lest you be judged. But we just can't help it!

But, if we are going to truly live into the freedom that Jesus has purchased for us, then we have to let others be free along their journey as well. It is this tension that is the core of the Christian community. It is this tension that is startling to the world and affirms our faith to those around us. They will know we are Christians by the way we love one another.

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How is Jesus revealing himself to you?

How is Jesus revealing himself to you?

I think Easter is such an incredible day of celebration, and this last Sunday did not disappoint. I loved being together with my church family, leaning into this incredible theological and transformational truth. And the more I reflected on Easter, the more I longed to be more aware of the living God, the resurrected Jesus, in my life and in the world.

So many of us long for this to be more and more real in our lives, but most of us seem to miss it. It is probably because we are waiting for a sign from God, an unmistakable guide post, voice, or vision to confirm the reality of the resurrection. We think the incredible stories scattered throughout the scriptures are normative.

While those stories still may be normative, our timing is all messed up. Over the course of an entire life, God maybe shows up in a crazy and clear way once or twice. And those guys made the bible. For the vast majority of the people in the scriptures and in the world, Jesus reveals himself in more subtle ways over longer periods of time.

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How to take Sabbath

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This week’s devotional is from Pastor Jeff.

ENCOUNTER: Read Jesus words in Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

BE REFLECTIVE:

Last Sunday, at the end of my sermon on Pursuing a Life of Calm, Peace, and Rest, I left you with the challenge of considering God’s command to honor a Sabbath. “Are you serious?” was a common theme of the feedback that came my way. I also heard, “Maybe that works for other people’s lives, but certainly not mine.”

I know.

But I’m not sure what to do with that. You see, the only way I know how to honor God's command to take a Sabbath rest each week is to…

…Wait for it…

Take. Sabbath. Rest. Each. Week.

I’m sure the idea didn’t occur to God as a way to make us miserable or as an unnatural insertion into our “real” lives for his amusement or appeasement. And in fact, I don’t think religious duty has anything to do with it. I think that God commanded it because it is the best spiritual formation exercise to help us to live 24/7 in the Sabbath Rest that is offered by Jesus.

Here is, at least in part, what a sabbath is about: A Sabbath is a one-day practice of rest that…

Gives our mind and body an absolutely necessary break (medically/ physiologically.) It’s truly needed. (Just google it…)

Serves as a picture that God is in control of our lives and has provided, is providing, and will provide all that we have and all that we need.

Reminds us that my whole life is really only about walking with God and serving him.

In the sermon, there is a lot more content about the rest that Jesus offers. Let me encourage you to reflect on all that. But let me also encourage you as an application to that message to try taking a Sabbath this week or weekend. See what happens! :)

HOW TO TAKE A SABBATH DAY (Some suggestions)

-Pick one day. (Next Saturday or Sunday?)
-Start the day early (like Jesus is reported to have done.) with a restful time with a notebook giving him all that is on your plate and mind. And all that you are worrying about. Write that stuff down and put it before God’s throne and leave it there for the remainder of the day.

Then spend the day:

-Not at work
-Not doing maintenance on the house/car

Instead, spend the day:

-Loving people. (Seeing friends and family, blessing strangers, hanging with the kids, dating your spouse, writing encouraging texts to your friends, etc. etc.)
-Playing (remember what you actually LIKE to do??)
-(Literally) Counting your blessings
-Napping
-And telling God you trust Him - especially when all that weary and burdensome “stuff” that you are carrying comes up. Maybe practice repeating a simple prayer that comes in the form of a statement or question depending on how you are feeling: “You got this, God!” or “…you got this, God?”

Practicing a Sabbath is actually as simple as that. Walk with God, focus on him, and don’t spend the day “getting it all done.”

I hope you try it. God called us to it because it is a gateway to the Sabbath Rest that Jesus offers. I am confident that it may be exactly what your heart, soul, mind, and strength need.

______________________________________________________

9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God… 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…
-Hebrews 4:9,11

Working toward restored relationships

Working toward restored relationships

After my sermon on Sunday I have been wrestling with the message I preached. I love how much Jesus loves us, and I long to know that in the depths of my being. I can get my head, all day, around the idea that God loves me and when I sin, he forgives me, and when I betray him or ruin things, that he not only forgives me, but restores me. He restores our relationship, and restores my calling, allowing me to continue to serve Him and His Kingdom.

But what has given me pause this week is that this selfless love, this love that works towards restoration that we long to receive, MUST be directed towards those people in our life who have betrayed us, wronged us, broken us. This is master’s level love. This is what it means to not simply love others as we want to be loved, but to love others the way Jesus loves us.

So here is the hard work. Who in your life has wronged you? Who has broken relationship with you? Who have you closed the emotional vault on? Who is that person? _______________________________

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Everything takes time!

Everything takes time!

My dream is to be fit like Brad Pitt. :) Truthfully, I would just like to be fit enough to feel good in my clothes, and be able to do active things without feeling like I am going to have a heart attack. Both the moderate attempt at health and the advanced attempt at health only happen with intention.

All growth only happens with intention. And even more than intention, is time and effort.

Think about a goal that you have had. Why haven’t you accomplished it? Usually it is because you got bored, didn’t see results fast enough, or you lost the will. Whether it is losing weight, playing an instrument, or mastering a skill, going from dream to accomplishment takes effort and time.

The exact same thing is true in our walk with Jesus and our pursuit of godliness.

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Training for Godliness

Training for Godliness

I know. This is a bit of a hard sell. Most people don’t like the thought of training. “Training” conjures up images of our middle school gym teacher making us run laps until we feel like we are going to throw up.  “Training” makes us think (untrue) thoughts like God loves it when we are exhausted, miserable, and unhappy.  And it leads us almost directly to feelings of shame, because we know how fundamentally dis-inclined our DNA is toward discipline and consistency.

But this passage (and our sermon series on “The Pursuit of Godliness”) are actually really good news…

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The Power of God is working in your life.

On Sunday we discussed the power of Jesus. God has given us the power to change the world. Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy  and to walk humbly with your God. Before we can change the world we must first allow God to change us. How has the Gospel of Jesus’ power to reveal, revive, redirect, rev up, and reward affected you? In your quiet time read each of the scriptures and decide where you see God’s power showing up in your life. Then pray and ask God to provide power in the area where you need it most.

Power to Reveal

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Power to Revive- encourage build up

Psalm 3:3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me,  my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

Power to Redirect- Try again

Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again,

Power to Rev Up- encourage

Deut. 31:6  Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Power to reward

Gal 6:9 says Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.






To whom is God calling you to serve?

To whom is God calling you to serve?

ENCOUNTER: Read Philippians 2:1-11

I wish that God would speak clearly to me and tell me what he would like me to do. At least, that is what I tell myself I wish. The truth is, nobody wants that. In fact, anybody who approached Jesus with a specific ask, his answer was always too challenging, and often left the other person distraught.

If we are honest, Jesus has been incredibly clear in his teaching about the kind of people he longs for us to be, the values he longs for us to have, and the people he longs for us to serve. The problem is that each one of these things is not about power or status. Following Christ into these things will never result in a larger bank statement, in career advancement, or in more status in your peer group. In fact, it will cost all three.

This passage in Philippians is so challenging because Paul doesn’t just teach this, but uses Jesus, our Lord and Savior, as the illustration, the example. Jesus, who was in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. In fact, took on the form of a servant, even to the point of death.

With all that in the background, what would happen if we ask the question again, “To whom is God calling me to serve?” Who are the people in your your world, your work place, your neighborhood that you can leverage your privilege and power to see, empathize with, and care for? That is a great place to start.

Every one of us should have people in our lives who we are to expend our resources and capitol on to serve for the sake of Christ.

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FAITH: With Hearts In Hands and Brains In Cages

FAITH: With Hearts In Hands and Brains In Cages

Specious: apparently good or right thought lacking real merit; pleasing to the eye but deceptive.

“God said it; I believe it; that settles it” is one of those bumper sticker phrases that sometimes qualifies. Why? because though it initially sounds inspiring, bringing some Believers to their feet with loud cheering, it can also sound quite different to the populations Christ call his church to love and serve, like, “We’ve checked our brains at the door of the church” or “don’t confuse me with the facts.” Why? Because two of the three segments of that phrase are, to them at least, highly questionable. They may not be at convinced that God actually said it, nor are the willing to concede that anything is settled just because you might believe it.

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God's love isn't what changes our lives

God's love isn't what changes our lives

For as long as I can remember, everyone in ministry has been trying to communicate to this broken world that there is a God and that this God loves them very much.  So much, that He gave His only son to pay for our sins so that we can be in a restored relationship.  And in this restored relationship, we can now be fully embraced by God and live in the spotlight of his love and affection.  We sing our anthem, "Reckless Love," and our congregations swoon and weep as we celebrate over and over how much God loves us.

It is nice that the warriors who have worked so hard at transforming God's image from a one of judgment and wrath to love have won!  In fact, they have gained so much that nobody in the western world would even consider that there is a God who has anger or wrath.  Ok, maybe some old skool boomers, and for sure some old skool boomer Catholics.  But everyone else has a one-dimensional view of God, and that is that God is Love!

Instead of our culture reciprocating God's love and returning His affection, we have become spoiled brats.  

We love that God loves us, and that means that he is never to stop pouring grace and blessing on us.  But when that gravy train ceases either by God's providence or by our dumb choices, we freak out and throw in the towel.

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Finding Boo Radley in the Heart of God

Finding Boo Radley in the Heart of God

The 1962 film, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my all-time favorites. Of course, It’s the cinematic version Harper Lee’s novel by the same name. There are too many great and inspiring themes and subthemes in that story to cover them all, but one of my favorites is the subplot that focuses on the person of Boo Radley. If you recall, Boo was someone who was wildly misunderstood. In fact, he was rarely, if ever, even seen. Turns out, though, that while most people thought Boo was a dangerous, scary, figure with a cursed and dark heart, he was actually just the opposite. Instead of kidnapping, slaughtering, and even eating children (the unfortunate but popular myth about this enigmatic figure) he was a rescuer of them. In the end, instead of a propensity to thwart justice, seems Boo was a champion of it.

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Out of Mazari

Out of Mazari

Last Sunday was our annual “Compassion Sunday” where we encourage partnership with “Compassion International” to address and confront profound poverty in the lives of children through personal sponsorships. We were blessed to host Kennedy Krezi who grew up in the Nairobi slum of Mazari and is a graduate of the Compassion program there. Joining him in sharing some of their experiences, though, were three members of the team of MCC folk that recently returned from a trip to Nairobi to meet the children they are sponsoring.

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What's the deal with thankfulness?

What's the deal with thankfulness?

ENCOUNTER:  Read Colossians 2:6,7

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

What would you say if you were asked the question, “What kinds of things should characterize a Jesus-follower’s life as they strive to continue walking with him?…

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Healthy things grow...

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This weeks Devotion is by Danielle Kilgore.

From Sunday’s Sermon our action item was to memorize the saying: Healthy things grow, growing things change, when we’re changed we’re challenged, when we’re challenged you put your trust in God, when we trust in God it breeds obedience, obedience makes us healthy and healthy things grow. 

In today’s devotional think through those areas in your life where you see.
1. God growing things in your life. 
2. What was something that challenged so much that you had to place your deep unshaken trust in God?
3. What’s an area in life that you want God to make more healthier?
4. Pray and ask God to prepare you for deeper Trust in him as you prepare for a new level of growth and health.

Power Scriptures:
Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:13, Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 6:33, Ephesians 6:10-18

Suggested books from Danielle’s library 

Men and Women - Newness of Life: Trusting God in Times of Transition https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547042761/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_ClH2BbE7GE80R

Young Adults- The Chicken Runs at Midnight: A Daughter’s Message from Heaven That Changed a Father’s Heart and Won a World Series https://www.amazon.com/dp/0310352061/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_hnH2BbMT5ZHET

Kids- It Will be Okay: Trusting God Through Fear and Change (Little Seed & Little Fox) https://www.amazon.com/dp/140032419X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_YjH2BbYTWBZ12

You have one job.

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Devotional Posted by Michael Hill

Encounter:  

Meditate on Psalm 14:2

“The Lord looks down from heaven
    on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
    any who seek God.”

Be Reflective:

When the church is gathered for corporate worship, united in action and purpose, it’s easy to sense God’s moving. Like the Church in the book of Acts, we often encounter God’s presence when we’re together on Sunday…but what about the rest of the week? Do we take time to pursue the Lord, to seek God out as the treasure that he is?

Take a few minutes to talk with God about this. Ask God, point-blank: “How am I doing in seeking after you?” Allow space to listen for God’s response. Ask the Lord to increase within you a desire to grow more intimate in your relationship with Him.

Be a Blessing:  

The heart of the church is to love on our broken world. We are good people, we want to do good things! We see in Acts 4 that the Church pursued God; in return, he gave them “great power” and “great grace” to accomplish great things. They had one job: To be receptive to the presence of God. He took care of the rest! “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matt. 6:33

Be Together: 

We draw spiritual power and renewal when we worship the Lord together. Can you imagine the deeds of God’s great power and great grace that our Lord might want to display in us, the people of Marin Covenant Church? How much more so might God use us if we all seek Him as the treasure that he is!