Leading Out of Love

February 7, 2012 by

Contributed by Brian Shifflett, Worship Pastor at Image Church

Periodically, I turn to 1 Timothy 3 to remind myself of the type of man God has called me to be as an Overseer at Image Church.  Being a leader is not often easy, and so upholding God’s standard for my life is not only important to me…it is essential for me – essential because leaders are often required to make tough decisions and/or say tough things.  The character qualities laid out in 1 Timothy are foundational to being able to make those tough decisions and say those tough things in a godly, Christ-exalting way. 

I wonder how hard it must have been for Paul to seemingly always have to confront the early church on issues of false teachings, conduct, etc.  I could even see how some would have thought Paul to be overbearing or just plain mean.   At the beginning of 1 Timothy, we see Paul urging Timothy to stay in Ephesus so that he could address certain false teachings (1 Timothy 1:3).  More false teachings=more tough things to say=more confrontation.  Sounds like a great time, doesn’t it?  Yet, it is verse 5 that makes everything make sense.  1 Timothy 3:5 says:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Paul led strong in that way because he loved people.  He loved God’s people.  He loved the church.  He loved Jesus, and he loved the Gospel.  To Paul, nothing was as important as making sure the church heard and understood the full Gospel – nothing more, nothing less.  Some of us may have had someone in our lives that has given us solid godly advice before.  Regardless of how you felt at first, aren’t you thankful for it now? 

I am thankful for Paul’s convictions out of love.  I am also thankful for leaders around me who strive to make tough decisions and say tough things out of love for people.   Of course, no one is as loving or as pure as Jesus.  But we can strive to live and love like Jesus, as we boldly defend Him like Paul did.  My prayer for Image Church is that our leaders would always stand up for the full Gospel – because the heart behind that is one of love, whether it feels like it or not.


What Do Others See?

February 1, 2012 by

Contributed by Shannon White, wife of Tim White, Next Gen Pastor at Image Church

Have you ever woken up in a rotten mood?  Last Tuesday, I woke up and was just plain miserable.  It was one of those mornings where no one could have done anything right.  I was so grumpy, I didn’t even want to be around myself!  I knew that I needed to get into the Word, and the sooner the better.

I had been reading in Philippians, and that morning I started reading through chapter 2.  As I was reading along, verses 14-15 were like a smack on the head.

In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you.  You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.  Let your lives shine brightly before them.

Wow!  My whole morning was filled with complaining and arguing with my kids.  Paul wasn’t telling the church at Philippi to do things without complaining and arguing if they felt like it.   They were to abstain from those attitudes so that others would see Jesus through their lives.

I thought about how it is important to model Jesus for the world around us.  Last year when we took our daughter Brianna to back to school night, we had to wait outside for the doors to open.  We were standing behind this couple with a daughter that was probably eight or nine years old.  The husband was miserable.  He was complaining about the teacher his daughter had the previous year, complaining that the school had too many first year teachers and so on.  We could not wait to get into the school.  Later in the school year, I saw that family again.  They had a sticker on their vehicle announcing the church they were apart of.  I would never have guessed that the man attended any kind of church.  It really made me think about how we act in front of others can impact their view of Jesus.  It can make them want what we have or can turn them away.

As I continued to think about the verses, I was reminded that I should be modeling this behavior not only for the world around me, but also for the children that God has given to me. That morning, I was far from modeling Jesus. My children are all 6 and under and have not yet given their lives to Jesus.  They are the ones I need to be modeling Jesus in front of.  I pray that I would be able to refrain from grumbling when I have not had a good night of sleep or when my children are up by six in the morning.   I pray they would instead see the fruits of the Spirit in my life.


January 25, 2012 by

Contributed by Tim White, Next Generation Pastor at Image Church

Numbers 20:10-13Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.

Here in the book of Numbers is the account of how Moses lost his opportunity to enter the Promised Land with the rest of the Israelites. What happened here that was so bad that God would punish Moses as He did? As the Israelites had done many times before this, they found themselves facing a hard situation on their journey to the land that Moses was leading them to – the land that God had promised them. They found themselves in a place with no water. The Israelites would cry out to Moses, just as they had many times before this – “Why have you brought us here to die, it would have been better for us to stay in Egypt than to have come to this place.” (Numbers 20:4-5)  Moses went to God and received instructions to gather the congregation together, to witness God’s power and grace in providing them with water – “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” (Numbers 20:8)

As God commanded, Moses gathered the congregation. But Moses failed to follow God’s directions. “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.  How did this happen?  Moses was given clear directions from God, yet he failed to follow them. Moses had lost control with the people. His anger and frustration with them had gotten the best of him. In his loss of control, he failed to obey God’s commands that would bring glory to God. Moses’ loss of control brought hardship upon himself. Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.  He now had to miss out on the Promised Land that God was giving them – the very land that Moses was leading the people to.

Throughout the month of January, our I-Kids Discovery Land classes have been studying self-control and how God desires His people to live a life with self-control – choosing to do what we should do, not what we want to do. To live a life out of control causes pain to yourself, as we see here with Moses. Losing control can cause pain to others as well, and does not reveal God to others or bring Him glory. The other day, my daughter Brianna got angry with her younger sister, and I overheard her say to her sister, “Brooke, I am so angry with you right now, but I am just going to give you a hug.” I then looked up to see Bri giving her sister a hug instead of her usual swat that would lead her to being punished herself. I have heard other great things from parents on how our children are trying to live lives with self-control, but as parents and followers of Jesus, we to need to live and example self-control in our lives as well.

God desires His people to live lives that reveals Himself to others. If we fail to live lives of self-control, we risk missing out on opportunities, as Moses did. We risk causing others not to see Jesus in us, and we risk not bringing glory to God who gives us life.

The Sovereignty of God

January 16, 2012 by

Contributed by Krista Rhodenhizer, wife of Chris Rhodenhizer, Lead Pastor of Image Church

I wouldn’t really classify myself as a worrier. Control freak, yes. Procrastinator, yes. But really not a worrier…. (hence, the procrastination).  I have always attributed this to the fact that I had a good, reliable upbringing. My parents were always there for me. They consistently showed me faithfulness, love and respect. They taught me that I could depend on my Heavenly Father.  I guess I always knew that when it came down to the wire, I wasn’t alone.  So, psych major that I am, I think that this has a lot to do the fact that I don’t experience that worrisome fear very often. Yet, I am learning throughout my life experiences that while my God is loving, forgiving and completely and utterly faithful, He is SOVEREIGN.  (Gulp).  Things don’t always turn out well.  In the end, in the light of eternity, yes. Yet in this life on earth, we are guaranteed hardship.

Job 1:21 – And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

I have had deep loss in my life. Unexpected and unexplained loss.  Yet, I can honestly tell you that it has not caused me to be consumed by fear. I need to be completely clear here. I am in NO way saying that I have done something right or special that has rescued me from this thing of fear or worry. If anything at all, it’s that I have SEEN and EXPERIENCED that in the middle of the bottom falling out, I have seen Him. He is still there, and He is still in control.  It is the most bizarre peace. Truly, peace that passes all understanding.  I think that sometimes, when your fear is realized, there is some kind of comfort knowing that it still isn’t too much for Him. HE gives to us. All that we have, He has given.

I have been studying Hosea in my quiet time with God, and this verse has been whispered to my heart on a regular basis ever since I read it weeks ago.

Hosea 2:8 – And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.

She (Israel) was given every gift and every good thing by her Husband (God), and yet even after her wandering and disobedience and loss…AFTER she returned to His goodness, She still did not see that it was HE who gave her everything she had. The Lord truly gives, and it is His to take away. I am incredibly thankful that His sovereignty gives me rest in Him.

4 Growing Qualities of a Spiritual Leader

January 7, 2012 by

Contributed by Chris Rhodenhizer, Lead Pastor of Image Church

1]  You are able to handle praise and criticism – 1 Timothy 3:6

Spiritual Leaders should begin to naturally deflect praise to their teams – if they don’t have a team to deflect praise to, they are not leading anyone!  If you don’t want to experience criticism, then don’t lead, and if you just want praise, then definitely don’t lead!  I once heard that we should treat praise and criticism like gum – chew on it for a little while, but don’t swallow it – spit it out!

2]  You are able to confront conflict well – 1 Timothy 3:3 “…not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome…”

There will be conflict – if there is not conflict nothing is going on.  When things are moving forward, changing, bringing about things that transform, there will be conflict!  People, at some point, will have conflict and bring conflict; we as Spiritual Leaders must deal with this well.  We can NEVER, EVER afford to lose our cool, to go off on people – it is never justified.  Some may tempt you to lose it, but we must remain gentle, sometimes stern, but never quarrelsome.

3]  You are able to limit your liberties – 1 Corinthians 10:23-33

We are free in Christ, as Scripture tells us, to be able to do many things, but those things should bring Him glory.  Some of us are free to write what we want, eat/drink what we want, and even go where we want to go, BUT, if you as a leader know this may specifically cause your brother or sister to stumble, then think twice.  One area we need to be especially careful with, in the 21st century, is social media. This is a great tool, but once you write it, the whole world sees it – once you upload the picture, the whole world sees it!  Spiritual Leaders need to use biblical wisdom when speaking to the masses over social media!!!

4]  You are able to assume the best – Romans 12:10

Spiritual leaders should first do this with those they lead and with those they lead with!  We should immediately assume that others had the best intentions, with whatever it is they did.  This protects us from bitterness and from always thinking the worst of others.  We should also celebrate one another.  When others experience success or they get a great opportunity, we should be happy for them and celebrate with them!  This keeps us healthy and keeps our character in tact!

Family Traditions

December 28, 2011 by

Contributed by Angie Scott, wife of Mike Scott, Elder Overseer of Web/Graphic Arts/Media at Image Church

Traveling to Mom-mom and Pa-Paws for Thanksgiving, decorating the Christmas trees the Sunday after Thanksgiving, nagging Mike to put up the outside Christmas lights, clam chowder on Christmas Eve, baking a birthday cake for Jesus,  & black eyed peas (for good luck) on New Years Day. These are all part of The Scott family traditions.

My kids look forward to ALL of these activities. If I forget or change the way we do things, I am quickly reminded about our traditions. This year I set up our family Christmas tree in the basement and mindlessly started to decorate it. When my kids got home, my youngest daughter, Cailyn, was very disappointed that I had decorated the tree by myself. She told me that we always decorate the family tree while watching a Christmas movie. I told her that I forgot, and we would definitely decorate it together next year.  Cailyn looked so sad that after I put her to bed, I undecorated the whole thing and planned to re-decorate with my family.  Sometimes I get so caught up on my plans and my agenda that I forget what is really important.

Mike and I are making memories and forming holiday traditions that I hope my kids will carry on with their kids.  We have always incorporated Jesus and Santa at Christmas. Santa brings three gifts to our children the way the wise men brought the 3 gifts to Jesus. This is one of the traditions that has made Christmas fun for our family.

Whatever your traditions are, I hope you take this time to remember to treasure them. Treasure Jesus and the precious gift that He was for all of us, treasure your family and the time that you have with them. God is the treasure of our lives. The greatest gift we, as Christians, can give another human being is to teach them about Jesus and lead them to Him by example.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


December 20, 2011 by

Contributed by Mike Scott, Elder Overseer of Web/Graphic Arts/Media at Image Church

Recently, my oldest daughter Courtney came into the family room with something that was troubling her. I asked her what was wrong, and she sat down next to me with her laptop and sighed. She opened it up and showed me a picture of the Bible on a document that had nothing but profanity and false sayings about everything we as Christians believe. She told me it was from a friend’s Facebook page. She explained how she contacted him and told him it was offensive, and through some back and forth conversations, he summed-up that he was an atheist and didn’t believe the Bible or God, so it didn’t bother him at all. I had the opportunity to share with her that this is unfortunately how a lot of people in the world are – the “Walking Dead” that don’t have the Holy Spirit in their lives to help guide them. I also shared that she just needed to continue to be the witness that she has been. At the end of the conversation, she said something that really stuck with me. Courtney said that it just really hurts my heart and troubles my spirit to read that and think that other people believe that. At that moment, it hit me hard. I thought about how de-sensitized we as Christians really are sometimes, especially we who work around people every day and hear and see this played out. When we hear someone use the Lord’s Name in vain, does it make us cringe, or do we just brush it off and ignore it? When we see people for who they really are without the Holy Spirit, do we pray for them to accept what God did for them and to receive salvation?

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. [ESV]

We are transformed when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives. We are made a new creature, and old things are passed away. We are fortunate enough as Christians to serve a living God who sent His Son Jesus to die for us and cleanse us of all our wretched sins. We are blessed to have the Holy Spirit living in us to help convict and guide us and encourage us to not be conformed to the wicked ways of the world. What things are in our lives right now that are not pleasing to God or that would cause us to be desensitized? If we reflect, I am sure that there are things we all could eliminate watching, listening, or participating in on a routine basis. Now is the time to clear-out all the junk in our minds or lives that are holding us back from being what God wants us to be.

Busy, Busy, Busy

December 12, 2011 by

Contributed by Christi Hellmund, wife of John Hellmund, Elder Overseer of Finance at Image Church

I am sitting in front of my Christmas tree, going through a mental check list of all the things that must be accomplished by this time next week – shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, decorating, cleaning, partying, studying, and that is only half the list.  Many times this past week, I have found myself stressed out and short with those closest to me.  It’s so frustrating that at the most “joyous” time of year, we are so consumed with all of our “to do” lists that we are far from joyous.  I was at the Aldi near our house not long ago trying to do some Christmas shopping, when a yelling match broke out between 2 people who were old enough to know better, and it was all over who was in line first.  Fuses are shorter and tension runs higher this time of year.

With all of the busyness and stress, I lose focus on what is really important.  Christmas is not about cookies and packages.  It is about our Savior who came wrapped in skin and was laid in a manger.  I have been reading Luke 2 this week and verse 19 has hit me hard.  It is a short little verse that follows  the busyness of travel, the birth of Jesus, and the visitation of the shepherds.  “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”  The word “ponder” is what strikes me.  It is not a word that I use often.  It means “to weigh in mind or to reflect on” according to Webster.  I do not take a lot of time to ponder this time of year. Part of my stress and frustration is directly related to this lack of pondering. If I would take more time to reflect on what God did for us so long ago in sending His Son, then maybe I would not get overwhelmed with what needs to be baked and what needs to be bought.  Maybe I would realize that those things are not worth focusing on and be more gracious when fights break out in front of me or someone cuts in line. Please take a few moments with me and ponder how amazing that night so long ago must have been! I am sure that Mary was overwhelmed and exhausted, but she took the time to ponder the events of the day and treasured them. She wanted to remember and reflect on their meaning.  I am committing myself to ponder the birth of my Savior, His many blessings, and His call on my life.  I challenge you to take some time to do the same.  Maybe we can become more joyous this time of year by focusing on what really matters and change how others view Christmas in the process.

The Perfect Gift

December 6, 2011 by

Contributed by John Hellmund, Elder Overseer of Finance at Image Church

The end of the year is fast approaching, and many of us are more stressed out than ever.  There are the holiday parties, gifts to buy, traveling or getting ready for guests to visit, and what seems to be an endless list of other things to take care of.  I know as I was praying and thinking about what to write, all these things kept floating through my head. 

One thing that brought me back to reality was hearing my kids say the Christmas story.  It is always great to hear my 6 and 4 year olds telling me about the first Christmas, as we use our Christmas countdown calendar to count down to Christmas.  Yes, they may only be doing it because they want to get the piece of candy each day, but at least the truth is being ingrained in them.  They know that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus being born.  They can tell you where He was born and who came to visit Him.  They know an angel announced to the shepherds that the Christ was born and that all of a sudden a multitude of the heavenly host was there praising God.   They will tell you about the wise men that came to visit the new King and the gifts that they brought.  They know that when King Herod heard about a new King, he was mad and tried to kill all the male children under the age of two.  They know that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt.  Most importantly, they know why Jesus had to be born and how He would one day die on the cross as the perfect Lamb. 

Even though my kids know all these things, they still get wrapped up in the commercialism of Christmas.  I don’t mean Santa, but the excitement of new toys and games and whatever else they may want.  We have taught them that the reason we give and receive gifts is because God gave us the perfect gift in His Son, Jesus.  This is what I hope we as Christians really reflect on this year.  Let us take the focus off of the material gift and place it on the reason we are giving gifts at all.  We are all sinners and in need for salvation.  Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  The penalty for sin is death as stated in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus is the perfect gift and our only way to experience salvation.  This Christmas season, please take the time to share with your family and those that you come across the true reason for the season.

The Joy in the Rain

November 29, 2011 by

Contributed by Heather Ward, wife of Toby Ward, Elder Overseer of Outreach at Image Church

Four years ago, I grabbed my 4 month old son and hopped in the back of the car, as my sister-in-law rushed my brother who was very sick and in immense pain to the hospital.  Ironically, the radio was playing the song, “Bring the Rain by Mercy Me – a song which is about trials being brought into your life to bring you closer to God.  For my family and I at this point in our lives, it was definitely “raining.”  My 38 year old brother had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was soon going home to be with the Lord, and there was absolutely NOTHING I could do about it – except turn to Jesus.  Jesus was testing my faith.

In James 1:2-4 it says: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Trials can be defined as “a state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance or belief.”  Our natural reaction to pain or anguish is definitely not JOY!!! Our natural reaction is that of despair and to turn to self, which leads us nowhere but down a slippery slope of depression and hopelessness.  However, in James 1 we are told as Christians to make a conscious choice to face our trials, not just with our head up and looking to Jesus, but with JOY!  What kind of joy are we supposed to have in the midst of suffering? The joy that we don’t have to rely on self, but that God is sovereign and in control.  The joy of knowing this trial does not define us, but Christ does.  The joy that each and every trial we go through refines us and readies us for our Savior.  Finally, the joy that the victory has been won, and that we will be spending eternity with our Savior.  How can we not have joy considering those things?  We should be filled with joy no matter if we are in a trial or not. 

Even Jesus himself endured the cross for us with joy according to Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus found Joy in knowing He was accomplishing God’s will by paying our debt to set us free.

We, too, should approach our trials the same way – by looking for the joy and the end result, instead of wading in a pool of self pity.  Our trials are minuscule in comparison with Christ enduring the cross.  Jesus has given us the perfect example on how to handle our trials, but His perfect example is not only that.  Rather, it is something far greater – the perfect complete substitution for our sin.

I miss my brother dearly, but knowing that God was and is in control gives me joy.  Also knowing that my brother is pain free and with our Savior in Heaven gives me joy.

I encourage you to have joy about whatever trials you may be or will be going through.  The process of going through these trials, as painful as they may be, can draw us closer to God and make us who God wants us to be if we let Him.  So count it all JOY!