Church Blog

Good morning everyone! In recent years, as God has lovingly crucified my self-focus, it’s nearly tore me in two. But God wasn’t interested in numbing my pain with encouraging words, even with words that were true. Instead, he was interested in making me better—making me entirely new—and that meant putting to death the things inside me that were making me sick. God has no use for clichés that make us feel good in the moment. Not if they keep us from dying so that we can truly live. He is equally uninterested in reinforcing self-deception by allowing us to deny our own sickness. God wants us to see the parts of ourselves that are broken, so that we welcome his healing instead of denying we need it. Insecurities feed us lies about ourselves and our worth, but they also reveal truths about our idols, our misplaced focus, or our misplaced priorities. Insecurity is a sign of spiritual sickness, and until we can admit that and confess it, we will never address the source of the pain. Nice words about our belonging only hide it for a while. In the hands of the Great Physician, God can use pain and insecurity for our benefit. He can use them to humble us, to teach us, to grow us. He shows us the idols we’re hiding and wrests them from our tired hands. That is the strange, surprising, upside-down good news of Jesus Christ. Whenever you feel like a failure or a hack, whenever you worry that you’re not a good parent or spouse, whenever you fear you’re not enough or that you can’t keep up with it all, there is a sense in which God responds, “Yes, that’s true.” And this is, amazingly, good news. You can be a failure. You can be “not enough.” And then you can stop trying to make yourself big enough or capable enough to carry the weight of the world, because God never designed you to do it. Once you realize that, you finally taste the freedom of no longer trying to be what only God can be. The gift of smallness, of humility, of dying to self—it comes in an ugly package, but the most beautiful treasure is inside. What are the differences between a worldly approach to a “true self” and a godly approach? Philippians 2:5-11

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Nov 17th at 6:15am


Good morning everyone! Leaving Behind the Self-Help God If you’re feeling lonely, overlooked, or insecure, you might be tempted to worship the self-help god that many books and speakers espouse. This god exists to make you feel better about yourself. This god can make you feel special. This approach to God is a reflection of how the church has adopted the language of our culture. What is interesting about the Christian self-help approach is that it’s markedly different from God’s. Consider the story of Moses, when God called him to speak to Pharaoh. Moses felt inhibited by his weaknesses. He didn’t feel capable of speaking to Pharaoh or of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, because he only saw his disqualifications. And how did God respond to Moses’s doubt? He didn’t give a self-help pep talk. He didn’t affirm Moses’s leadership or his talents or gifts. He didn’t hug him and cheer for him and speak encouraging words over him. God didn’t do any of those things. Instead, he changed the subject. God affirmed his own strength, his own leadership, his own self, because the outcome never hinged upon Moses. This story was not about Moses’s strengths. Moses was never meant to be the hero. Only God could deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, so he directed Moses’s focus back to him. God responded similarly when he appointed Jeremiah, a prophet who was concerned about his youth. “I do not know how to speak; I am too young,” he worried (Jer. 1:6), but God didn’t coddle or dote on him. Rather than assure Jeremiah he was talented for his age, that he had great leadership skills and a terrific personality, God simply affirmed his own self: “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (1:8). Once again, God directed his servant of his own limitations and onto the limitless God. God cares about our insecurities, but the difference between a self-help god and the true, living God is focus. The one true God responds to our insecurities with reassurances about himself. In doing so, he releases us from the source of our paralysis, shifting our gaze from the “can’ts” to the One who can. Consider a difficult situation in your life right now. What would it look like to consider that overcoming that situation has everything to do with God’s strength and nothing to do with your own? Jeremiah 1:4-8

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Nov 10th at 7:13am


Good morning everyone! The False Promises of High Self-Esteem When we’re dealing with insecurity, brokenness, and fear, the world says, “Focus on YOU! You are great. You are special.” This message even has a God spin to it: “God has an amazing plan for you!” Those messages are not bad or wrong in and of themselves. It’s important to take care of yourself. But that can’t be your focus. The promises of high self-esteem can only take you so far. It’s true that low self-esteem is one cause of insecurity. When you struggle with degrading lies about who you are, the answer is biblical truth about God. His love, his compassion, his acceptance, his affirmation: it’s all a healing balm for the wounded. But there is a second cause of insecurity: self-preoccupation. Self-preoccupation assumes that every slight, every rejection, every awkward interaction is about you. Self-preoccupation raises the stakes of dating, parenting, working, and serving by turning it all into a referendum on your worth. It also magnifies your flaws, because you are constantly aware of them. Low self-esteem and self-preoccupation intertwine, but it is crucial to know the difference between them. Why? Because they require different solutions. If you try to treat your self-preoccupation the way you treat low self-esteem—namely, with affirmation—it actually makes the problem worse. The affirmation only feeds your self-focus—and your need for more and more affirmation becomes insatiable. The only path out of self-focus is self-forgetfulness, which is why affirming messages rarely help. In my own life, those messages didn’t pry my gaze off of myself, they simply handed me a mirror with a Jesus tint. What I needed was freedom from thinking about myself, even when the thinking about myself was positive. The answers to life’s greatest questions are not inside you or even about you. Whether it’s the solution to your deepest needs or the healing to your biggest wounds, your self does not have them. At some point, you’ve got to turn your attention to the One who does, to fix your eyes on the only One who can heal your wounds and set you free. In what ways might thinking positively about yourself distract you from God? What is the difference between loving yourself and focusing on yourself? Proverbs 4:25

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Nov 9th at 4:47am


Good morning everyone! The Mirror Reflex It’s hard not to look in a mirror, isn’t it? If you walk by a mirror you are going to take a look. We all do it. This reflex is also true in relationships. We’re constantly looking to others as a reflection of us. When we do this, we allow other people, our possessions, and our profession to shape our self-image. When the reflection is good, we feel great. When the reflection is bad, we feel insecure. The mirror reflex causes us to make everything about us, even when it’s not. Maybe a friend doesn’t say hi to you at work, so you assume she’s upset with you. Maybe the cashier at the store is impolite, and you take it personally. Maybe you volunteer to serve at church and feel hurt when nobody thanks you. When you treat people like mirrors, you create a world that is all about you. Take social media. Studies show that Facebook directly impacts personal satisfaction, because users interpret the “likes” and comments as a measure of their worth. It’s easy to compare: Why don’t people like my photos as much? Are my kids not as cute? Do people care about me less? But it doesn’t stop there. Consider marriage and relationships. Have you ever pressured your spouse into doing something, or acting a certain way, because of how it reflected on you? Has an unhealthy dating relationship shaped the way you see yourself? How about friendships? When a friend didn’t call you back or didn’t respond to an email, did your imagination run wild with questions like, “What did I do wrong?” Maybe she was simply busy, but you immediately jumped to conclusions about yourself. That’s because all of our relationships can function as mirrors. When I realized that I had made my relationships and ministry all about me, I saw that my confidence was bound up in their successes or failures. A successful writing ministry meant I had value. Successful friendships meant I was lovable. But the reverse was also true, which left me devastated and insecure. This is the natural course of all idolatry. Whenever we put anything before God, it’s only a matter of time before it turns on us. What is something in your life that you are insecure about? Where do you think that insecurity comes from? In what ways does it make you focus on yourself? Psalm 135:15-18

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Nov 8th at 6:33am


Good morning everyone! The Best News on Earth There are two ways of saying, “It’s not about you.” One is a rebuke, a finger-wagging sentiment. But there is another way of saying it, and hearing it too: “It’s not about you” can be freedom. The friend who rejected you, the parent who hurt you, the boss who insulted you, the neighbor who was rude to you—it’s not about you. Their brokenness, their cold, piercing words; none of that was about you, but them. When your house isn’t as big as you’d like it to be, or your ministry isn’t as successful, or your name isn’t as well known, thank goodness it’s not about you. Your marriage, your calling, your life here on earth, none of it is about you. It’s all about God, from the first to the last, and that is some of the best news on earth. When you make things about you that are not about you, it’s a terrible burden. Deep down, we all know that if we could stop trying to people-please, stop trying to measure up, stop focusing on our flaws, and stop dwelling on rejection, life would be a lot easier. If we could only focus a little less on ourselves and a little more on God, our shoulders would feel so much lighter. But the challenge is, how? Shifting your focus off of yourself and onto God is much harder than it sounds. As broken people, our gaze naturally drifts inward, making vanity a tough pattern to shake. Once I was able to see my own self-preoccupation—both the allure and the peril of it—God took me on a long journey to freedom. He taught me how to adjust my sight back onto him, and it literally changed my life. Once I grasped the truth that life is not about me and shifted my focus onto Christ, it became the song of my heart, one I can’t stop singing to others. I know from my own experience that it’s hard to look straight in the face of your vanity, but it’s how we break the spell of self. And oh how it is worth it! May God shine on the hidden places in your heart and grant you the courage to see yourself honestly. Why do you think realizing “it’s not about you” could be freeing? Psalm 139:23-24

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Nov 7th at 5:56am


Good morning everyone! Harold and Louise are an extraordinary couple. We had the privilege of meeting them at a recent marriage conference we were hosting, and we were instantly drawn to them. There was a sparkle in their eyes and an adoration they obviously had for one another. They couldn’t help themselves from smiling every time their eyes met. Even though they were both in their seventies, they acted like two teenagers in love. We spent as much time around them as we could that weekend, because we wanted to learn the “secret” of their lifelong love. We wanted to know how their love had grown richer with time, and how even through painful setbacks in Louise’s health, they both remained joyful, optimistic, and passionately devoted to one another. Louise shared a story with us which gave us a glimpse into their lifelong love. She said, “Our first date was on March 17, so on April 17, Harold brought me a long stem rose to celebrate our one month anniversary. I was genuinely impressed by his thoughtfulness, but I didn’t expect the roses to come very often. I was so surprised when he brought me another rose on May 17 to celebrate our second month together. I smiled and thought, ‘Wow! This fella is a keeper!’ She looked at Harold with a smile and continued her story. “After we got married, I expected the roses to stop, but on the 17th that first month of our marriage, another rose appeared.” She paused to squeeze Harold’s hand, and tears began to form in her eyes as she smiled and said, “It has been fifty-four years since our first date, and every month on the seventeenth for 648 months in a row, Harold has brought me a rose.” As she finished her story, I (Dave) was simultaneously inspired by their love story and at the same time feeling like an insensitive jerk for never having done anything for Ashley that could match that level of consistent thoughtfulness. Harold definitely challenged me to raise the bar in my own marriage! I obviously can’t build a time machine and go back to the beginning and start that type of tradition, but I can (and you can too) start today to bring more thoughtfulness and romance to the marriage. Harold and Louise would be quick to tell you it takes a lot more than roses to build a strong, lifelong marriage. The flowers weren’t really the point of their story; it was the thoughtfulness behind the flowers. As I spend time with couples who have faithfully loved each other for decades, I’m convinced their “secret” is really no secret at all. It’s a simple choice to put love into action by consistently serving, encouraging, supporting and adoring one another. As we wrap up this seven-day journey, we encourage you to think about one or two new habits you’d like to implement into your marriage and one or two negative habits you’ll take action to remove from your marriage. Your habits will shape your marriage, so make sure you’re creating the right habits together. I Corinthians 13:4-7

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Nov 6th at 5:50am


Good morning everyone! I am convinced that people don’t care to hear about our Jesus until they meet the reality of Jesus in our lives. Our history with Jesus and what he has done in our lives is the most effective salvation message we can share with others. Our history is “his story.” Truth lived out is the best sermon. One evening after I spoke at a pregnancy care center, a board member came forward to close in prayer. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw this board member was a guy I’d known in high school. Well, let me clarify. I knew who he was. He didn’t have a clue who I was. He had been in the überpopular crowd. He was a star athlete who dated the beautiful girls. I was easy to miss. After we chatted for a few minutes, he got a very serious look on his face. Then he said something I won’t forget. “You know what is really odd, Lysa? All those years of high school and college, I was a very visible person, had lots of friends and received a college basketball scholarship at a major university, yet no one—no family member, peer, girlfriend, teacher, coach, professor, fan—not one person ever told me about Jesus. All those years, all those people, and not one time did someone try to tell me the truth. Finally, when I was 21, someone shared how they met Jesus, and it radically changed my life.” His statement startled me. I hope it startles me for the rest of my life. No one is beyond the reach of truth. Who in your life needs to hear his story in you? Jesus will handle all the details. We obey. God brings results. - By Lysa TerKeurst Matthew28:18-20

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Nov 5th at 6:46am


Good morning everyone! When People Let You Down Disappointment feels like a heavy rock sinking to the bottom of my spirit—especially when others disappoint or deceive me. Often I ignore my disappointment, shut it in a box and hope the lid holds. Sometimes I gloss it over with a quick, “People will let you down, but God never will.” True, but does this really help me process the hurt? One morning, I poured out my sadness, anger and disappointment to God about a close relationship. As the tears slipped down my face, I begged for an answer: What do I do with this? Show me. I’ll do it because what I’ve been doing is not working. In my spirit, Jesus said, “Grieve.” Really? I questioned. I remembered that Jesus knew disappointment—Peter’s denial, Judas’s betrayal and the disciples falling asleep during his anguish before his crucifixion (see Matthew 26). Jesus understood my pain. So I cried, feeling every ounce of the disappointment. I told God all the things I wished were different, all the things I thought this person had done wrong, and what I wished this person would change. After the winds of grief subsided, I was done. Grieving was the bridge I had to cross to move beyond the disappointment. On the other side, I could embrace the relationship for what it was, not what it wasn’t. Only after we’ve allowed ourselves to grieve will we know how to respond in the way God wants. We may need to talk to the person who disappointed us or get godly counsel. We may need healthy boundaries or to just let it go. Once we’ve completed those steps, the words “People will let you down, but God never will” will be comforting, not empty. Psalm 62:8

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Nov 2nd at 6:24am


Good morning everyone! “Growth opportunity” is the phrase our family uses for a fight, and two of my children were experiencing a big opportunity to grow one day. Hand on my hip, I preached to them: “Outside this house, people may or may not be kind. But inside this house, before you speak, you must ask yourself: ‘Are my words kind, necessary and true?’ If the answer to all three parts of that question is yes … proceed; but if the answer to any part of that question is no … remain silent. Does that mean we don’t address hard issues? No. But it will be done with respect and honesty.” Then I ushered these precious teens outside, instructing them to figure out their issues together. Thank you very much. Have a nice time on this warm little bench on this warm little day. After that particular growth opportunity, I considered writing some Bible verses on the palm of my hand. Think of how handy it would be to just flash my palm up with this verse in bold ink: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3:9–10). Later, that same chapter of James reads, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (verse 16). I do not want disorder and every evil practice in my home. And if envy and selfish ambition (which are where ugly words come from) are the keys that open the door to that evil mess, then I will do everything to tame tongues, including my own, in my home. Psalm 19:14

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Oct 31st at 5:49am


Good morning everyone! Belittled Trapped like a firefly in a mason jar. Stifled, I peered out, watching others’ dreams, hopes and joys twinkle and fly by my stagnant ones. My own desires sat dusty in my valley of pain. Extinguished. Exhausted. Expectant no longer. “I’m so sorry your dreams are dashed,” my friend offered. “I wish I had known sooner how painful this disappointment has been. It would been an honor to walk it out with you.” “Thanks. But a broken heart is silly. Especially in light of others’ pain.” Who was I to be sad about a mere breakup? Silenced by self-doubt. Belittled by unworthiness. I diminished my pain, fearing it insignificant. In the process I belittled God’s care about my pain. Healing had been offered, yet I walked away, thinking it not worth his trouble. My friend took my hand, and we journeyed back to when she had lost two children. Someone then had told her to check her pain at the door. Keep it in perspective to others’ pain. We journeyed back to another time when pain was acknowledged, not tucked in a dark corner. Then she turned to the Lord, who administered healing from the grief of empty arms and empty cribs. My friend took my hand again and we journeyed forward. “Don’t belittle your grief. Your pain is genuine. This valley is real. You must acknowledge the Lord is near and accept his help to get out.” My friend granted me permission to feel my ache and loss. Drastically different than her own, yet no less honest. In that moment I realized I’d held my pain at a distance. Yet truth resonated in her words. No one loves us or offers healing like God does. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge the pain, like Job did in Job 7:11. To become aware of the Lord’s care—an “always there” presence. No matter what other voices have said, your pain is valid. God cares deeply and longs to heal you. No pain is too great … or too small. Often we just need someone to remind us that God longs to remove the lid on our mason jar and fly next to us, out of the valley. II Corinthians 1:3-5

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Oct 29th at 8:55am