Archive for November, 2010

The Miry Bog

November 29, 2010

Contributed by Chad Seidler, Director of Ministry/Assistant to Lead Pastor at Image Church

Happy Thanksgiving!  I trust that each of you had a wonderful start to what hopes to be an exciting Holiday season.

As I considered what I was going to write about this week, I had decided on compiling a list of many of the things that I’m thankful for this year.  It’s been quite a year for me and my family, and I thought it would be healthy to do.  However, I never got around to posting it online, as I had very little computer access this week since we were on vacation in Mississippi.

We drove through the night on Saturday to return home, just in time to make it to the late Gathering at Image Church.  As Rhody concluded the Challenge 77 series, he shared from one of David’s Psalms that speaks very clearly of the foundation that we, as believers, share in Christ.  It is truly one of the things I’m most thankful for this Holiday season.  Check this out…

Psalm 40 – I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.

This past Tuesday, my son Noah and I went fishing with my Uncle Finis.  It was our second day of fishing, and I was very much looking forward to it.  Evidently, Noah didn’t need to fish a second day, as he was still spinning his fish tales about how he and Finis had caught 100 fish the previous day.  (It was actually around 25, but all fishermen have an ingrained ability to exaggerate.)  So as Finis and I fished the pond by his house, I kept a close eye on Noah as he circled the pond and played in the pasture. Of course, it didn’t help to give him any instructions, as he was going to do what any 5-year-old boy was going to do in that circumstance – explore and get in some type of predicament.

About 20 minutes later, Noah called out for me from the other side of the pond – “Dad, I’m stuck…Help me!”  As I approached him, I couldn’t see his shoes at all…his feet were completely buried in mud up above his ankles.  He couldn’t budge and definitely needed help.  I pulled him out and set him up on a bank to clean him off and let the mud dry.  As I got him somewhat cleaned, I told him that he shouldn’t get so close to the muddy area next time, or the same thing would happen again.  “I know that, Dad…I’m OK.”  And off he went…

It wasn’t but a half hour later that I looked back across the pond, only to see Noah stuck in the same exact spot!  This time, though, he was quiet about it, and so was I.  I watched him for a couple of minutes, as he tried to get himself loose of the mud.  I wish I could have been privy to his thoughts – “I can’t let Dad see me…Why didn’t I listen and learn the last time…I can’t ask for help…I can get out on my own.”  The more he tried to help himself, the worse-off he got, until he completely lost his balance and went entirely into the pond.  All pride lost and options exhausted, Noah finally cried for help, and I was right there to pull him out of the muck a second time.  My initial reaction probably wasn’t the best – “What were you thinking?  Don’t you ever listen?  Why do I have to stop what I’m enjoying to help you?”  After we walked back to the house and I gave Noah quite the hose bath out in the yard, we talked about what happened, shared a laugh about the whole ordeal and all was well.

As I was reminded again of Psalm 40 yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of Noah and the pond.  Actually, I couldn’t stop thinking about myself.  Tell me if this sounds familiar…

  • I make a terrible decision and get stuck in the muck of my life.
  • God is there to pull me out.
  • I think I’ve learned a lesson, only to turn immediately around and get stuck again.
  • God is there to pull me out.

Again and again.  The Apostle Paul describes how I feel the best in Romans 7:15-25 (click to read the passage).  He’s talking about himself, but I certainly feel the same way every day. 

I can picture God looking at me from the other side of the pond, watching me try to rescue myself from my self-imposed muck, and He’s thinking, “Cry out for me…I’m here for you!”

Which brings me full circle to what I’m thankful for not only this Holiday season, but each day of my life.  I’m so thankful that I serve a God who is loving, faithful and forgiving.  He’s rescued me from a life that was destined for death.  He continues to rescue me daily each time I take my eyes off Him and place them on self.

We closed yesterday’s Gathering by singing Psalm 40 (click here).  The song closes with these words – “How long to sing this song?”

To me, the answer’s quite simple – I will sing this new song of praise that God has given me every day while I’m here on this finite earth, and then every moment when I’m with Him in glory!

Love Your Enemies?

November 22, 2010

Contributed by Brian Shifflett, Worship Pastor of Image Church

Luke 6:27-31 – But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

I sometimes wonder if my life as a Christian looks any different from those who do not claim to follow Christ.  After all, it should!  The verses above are rather convicting when evaluating one’s own Christian walk, because let’s be honest, revenge is sweet!  However, Jesus calls his disciples to a higher standard when dealing with our enemies and those whom would hate us.  And yes, if you claim to follow Jesus and proclaim him as God, you will be hated at some point, in some way (Luke 6:22). 

Let’s look at verse 29, “To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also…” A strike on the cheek in this culture was viewed as an extreme insult.  The point of this example is that though believers will be subject to abuse, insults or taken advantage of, their reaction should be one full of God’s compassion and not of retaliation.  It is important to note that this verse is not meant to be a command for every circumstance but is an illustration of how love for one’s enemy should look.  It does not prohibit government, military or police force when necessary but, instead, deals with individual conduct.  Being compassionate and reacting differently than the world should be how this verse is properly understood.

The remaining part of the passage deals with generosity.  Those who have been extended much grace should be the most generous people in the world.  God calls us to give generously and cheerfully without expecting anything back in return (Luke 6:34-35).  It sounds crazy to a lot of people, but doing such things demonstrates that we are “sons of the Most High” and God is glorified (Luke 6:35).  Let’s all evaluate ourselves and see if the life we live looks different than the rest of the world.  Does it demonstrate God’s compassion and generosity? After all, it should!

The Joy of Answered Prayers

November 13, 2010

Contributed by Tim White, Next Gen Pastor of Image Church

In the Book of Colossians, Paul writes to the followers of Jesus at Colossae, who heard the Gospel from Epaphras, a fellow servant in Christ. Paul writes to the church to encourage them in their faith and lets them know that his heart and prayers go out to them as they grow in their faith and knowledge of God. His prayer for those he had never met was expressed in Colossians 1:9-10:

9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Just this past week, I ran into someone from my past that had been praying a similar prayer for me and my family for the last 23 years. At the age of 9, many of us from the neighborhood I lived in were bussed to the church for AWANA’s. An older lady by the name of Mrs. Bennett was my AWANA leader. I have very few memories from the one year I went to AWANA, mainly the games and snack. What I didn’t know was that Mrs. Bennett never forgot about me and never stopped praying as well. For the last couple of years, my Uncle David and his family have been going to the same church that I went to AWANA’s and the same church that Mrs. Bennett is still a member of. My Aunt and Uncle help out Mrs. Bennett with the food pantry there at the church. Somehow, the connection was made, and she shared with them how she remembers my family.

So this past week, I went with my Uncle to pick up a meal that Mrs. Bennett had prepared for another family in the church. At her home, my Uncle introduced me, and this now 80 some year old lady remembered who I was instantly. She began to share stories and asked how the rest of my family was doing. She told me that she had been praying for me and every one else who came to AWANA’s off the bus that year. I was amazed and blown away by those she remembered, and the fact that she was still praying for every one of them. She then asked what I was doing, and I shared with her how I was part of a church plant called Image Church and served on staff as the Next Generation Pastor. Mrs. Bennett was instantly full of joy to know that her prayers for the last 23 years had been answered. It was a day that I will never forget, and one that I hope to experience some day in my life.

As Christians, we should be praying for others, just as Paul prayed for those he only heard about, and Mrs. Bennett who prayed for those she spent two hours a week for 8 months. We should be praying for those who know and believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savoir as well as those who don’t. We should be praying that all will come to a full understanding of the knowledge and wisdom of God, and that all will walk in a manner pleasing to Him, bearing fruits in every good work.

I have changed the way that I pray for others and know that If I am persistent in my prayers for others to come to know Jesus, I too may one day be full of Joy when those prayers are answered.

MANNA Challenge 77

November 6, 2010

Contributed by Chris Rhodenhizer, Lead Pastor of Image Church

In just a few weeks, Toby Ward (our Elder Overseer of Outreach) and I will have the unique opportunity to travel oversees and see first-hand the nutrition/education centers in China that we as a church have been supporting for a few years through MANNA Worldwide.  Check this out…