Blog

Comfort in the Chaos

I’m going to confess something: I’m a bit of a worrier. I worry about my parents getting older and needing more specialized care, about my brother traveling for his photography business, about the lack of moisture and the consequent fire danger, about answering the phone because my introvert nature makes it a scary proposition, about all sorts of things! And absolutely none of them are actually within my control.

Last fall my mom had complications with a back operation that put her at serious risk and in the hospital and a physical rehab unit for nearly two months. I found myself spending way more time worrying and crying than I did reading the Word and praying. Driving to the hospital one day, I remember God pressing on me that if I have enough time to worry about the situation, then I also have enough time to pray about it. If I can devote time to being concerned, I can devote time to reading His Word.

The Bible never says that we should worry more or stress out or try to do everything on our own. It actually says the exact opposite: Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious about anything, but to pray and give thanks about everything. Worrying will not change anything, but trusting in God can change everything!

And Jesus Himself told us not to worry. His words remind us that since we see God cares for even the birds and the grass, we should know that He will take care of us. And after all, worrying will not add a single hour to your life or make anything better in the long run (Matthew 6:25-34). These reminders, among so many others in the Word, are the only thing that can keep me from spending too much time worrying.

When we worry, it is an attempt to take control over situations that can never be in our control. We turn from faith in God to fear of the unknown. We worship the problem instead of the Problem-Solver.

But every time we pick up the Word or turn to the Lord in prayer, He takes our burdens upon Himself. His words can give us peace in the midst of the chaos, comfort in our trials. What a tremendous blessing He gives us, when we turn to Him!

 

God-Shaped Hole

I see it every day, this need for more: more money, more popularity, more beauty, more love, more things. Our world is desperate for more. We grasp for the next best thing, only to find that there is another next best thing waiting for us. Always wanting, never satisfied seems to be the theme of today’s society.

Yet, the “things” will never be able to truly satisfy us, because there will forever be newer, better, more on the horizon. As John Piper said, “Every person or thing we trust will eventually fail us, except Jesus. Only He can bear the full weight of our hope.” The only One who can truly satisfy is the One who created you and me.

We all have a God-shaped hole inside, and no amount of stuff can ever fill it up. Only God can. It is a void in each of us that only He can fill. He alone can “satisfy [you] more than the richest feast” (Psalm 63:5 NLT). Only the One True God can “satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing” by simply opening His hand (Psalm 145:16 NLT). Jesus said that He came into this world, not to steal, kill, and destroy like the thief, but “to give a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10 NLT).

If you find yourself constantly searching for something to fill you up, there is only One that will last more than a brief moment, only One that can truly satisfy: Jesus. “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9 ESV).

Does your God-shaped hole need to be filled? Have you been searching for something to quench your thirst, to ease your hunger, to bring you lasting joy, to satisfy you? Don’t look to the world with its fleeting pleasures. Look to the Lord, who can satisfy your longing soul and fill your heart with joy eternal!

Tetelestai

If you read the Bible accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion, you might note that He spoke seven times while He hung on the cross. He asked the Father to forgive those who persecuted and crucified Him (Luke 23:34), reminding us that we must forgive those who hurt us. He told the repentant thief that he would join Jesus in Paradise (Luke 23:42-43), reminding us that heaven is real and it is never too late to turn our hearts to Jesus. He asked His disciple, John, to take care of His mother (John 19:26-27), reminding us to think of others first, no matter what we’re going through. He cried out in anguish to God (Mark 15:34), reminding us that we need to pour out our own hearts to God to find our strength in Him. He noted that He was thirsty (John 19:28), reminding us that those who thirst for Living Water will always be refreshed. He called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46), reminding us that we need to place our lives in God’s hands at all times and in all circumstances.

But is was His words just before He committed His spirit to God that have been swirling tetelestaiin my mind for the past few weeks: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The Greek word tetelestai is here translated to “it is finished,” but it also means “Paid in Full.” In Jesus’ time, this word was often written on the bottom of ledgers  when the debtor had finished repayment.

What a dramatic description of Christ’s work on the cross! He went through all the agony and pain and selflessness and separation from God, so that we wouldn’t have to. He willingly gave His life so that our unpayable debt of sin could be finished, paid in full! God sent His One and Only Son to give His life as a payment for our sin — a free gift of grace! As one of my all-time favorite songs says, “In this world where something’s worth is based on what someone would pay, it’s nice to know I’m worth one Jesus to You” (“Tetelestai” by everybodyduck). And it is so nice to know that you and I are loved more than we will ever know by Someone who died to know us (Romans 5:8).

But do you know what is even better? As Louie Giglio put it, “Jesus’ last word is our first. It is finished. When He died, our life began.” He died and that wasn’t the end of the story! He is risen! And when we choose to turn from our sin and follow Him, we are raised to new life with Him and promised eternal life by His side.

Today we celebrate the reason for our faith (1 Corinthians 15:14-19): the finished work of the cross and the resurrection of our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a glorious day! I pray you have a blessed Easter, rejoicing in the One who died and rose again for you.

 

And just because I think the words are beautiful, here are the lyrics to the second verse, the chorus, and the final refrain of “Tetelestai” by everybodyduck:

I can’t quite understand how one like You could love me

Covered with sin, I know I’m not a pretty sight

Yet I can’t count the times You’ve wrapped Your arms around me

Despite the blackness of my heart You held me tight

You knew alone that I could never buy my freedom

The price for all my sin was more than I could bear

You sent Your Only Son as payment for my burden

A perfect sacrifice for all mankind to share

And when there’s no love

I have You, Lord

Before the earth was formed

Your plan for me You knew

And in this day when something’s worth is based on what someone would pay

It’s nice to know I’m worth one Jesus to You.

It’s nice to know I’m worth one Jesus to You.

So when I feel this life of mine has no real value

And there’s no one who’d care if I should live or die

I remember just how much You gave to have me

You paid so much for something no one else would buy

 

Triumphal Entry

I was watching golf with my dad a few weeks ago, when Tiger Woods made another return to the course. Even with all the controversy that has surrounded him in recent years, the cheers for his appearance were loud and long.

Almost two thousand years ago, another controversial person made a triumphal entry–not onto the golf course, but into the city of Jerusalem. For three years, Jesus had been traveling the countryside, stirring up people with His rebellious ideas. Then, when the time had come, He headed back to Jerusalem. Matthew 21:1-11 describes the Triumphal Entry of Jesus. As Jesus rode a donkey into the city, people laid down their coats and cut palm fronds to lay in the street to honor His passing. They shouted, “Hosanna!” The Hebrew word hosanna means “save us.” They did believe Him to be the Messiah, but misunderstood the way He would save us. They thought the Messiah would come to lead the armies to crush their Roman oppressors and usher in an age of unparalleled prosperity. But He didn’t come to save us from government oppression or financial woes or hard times. He entered Jerusalem knowing He would die to save us from so much more–from our own sin and death to righteousness and eternal life with Him!

Tiger Woods can’t save us–he honestly can’t even save himself. Only Jesus can save us. Has He saved you? Has He made His Triumphal Entry into your heart? If not, there’s no better moment than now to make a decision to follow Him out of death and into life.

I pray that this Holy Week, you would be abundantly blessed and that we would all take time each day to reflect on all Jesus did for us.

And if you’re in the Montrose or Ridgway area, please join us next Sunday for a special early Easter worship service at 8:30 am, followed by a fellowship breakfast, and regular Sunday service at 10:30 am at Colona Community Church. We hope to see you there!

Saving Daylight

It’s a crazy time of the year for me, and changing over to Daylight Savings doesn’t help in the matter. I’ll never understand why they call it “Daylight Saving Time,” since there are actually no more hours of daylight than there were before. Yet the clocks change, and my system is thrown into a tizzy (It makes me almost miss living in Arizona, where they don’t follow Daylight Savings!). I should laugh at man’s attempt to control what only God has power over, but instead I am too tired to laugh, because somehow, man has managed to steal an hour of my life.

 

count rugen!!!!!
At least we can laugh at Princess Bride memes about Daylight Savings!

While the clock ticks away, and I look at the pile of things I haven’t finished yet, one verse continues to flit through my mind: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I know that is Him, speaking to my heart, urging me to remember that all of this is in His hands. He’s reminding me that if I simply take a moment to quiet the chaos, He will give me the energy and wisdom to complete all I need to do.

And I’m so grateful for that reminder, for knowing that I need not struggle to focus and check items off of my to-do list while desperately trying to keep my eyes open with one less hour in my day today. I can choose to be still and rest in Him, and I have faith that the work will be accomplished with renewed energy…tomorrow!

I pray that you have a blessed and restful day with the Lord.

 

Be Magnified

Magnification. The older our eyes get, the more we appreciate it! But there is another type of magnification that the Bible speaks of which is much more important to our souls than our eyes.

When Mary, at that time the soon-to-be mother of Jesus, said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46, KJV), what did she mean? Mary was saying that she gave more importance to the Lord than anything else. She magnified Him above all things. Even King David, a man who ruled all of Israel, spoke of  magnifying the Lord and how God desired that from us even more than a sacrifice on the altar (Psalm 69:30-31, NKJV).

Magnifying God above all else is not easy to do. We have a plethora of distractions available to us every moment of every day. Smart phones, TV, the Internet, work, general busyness, there is always something that can keep us from resting in Him, focusing on Him, worshipping Him. But the benefits of magnifying the Lord above the things of this world are eternal!

There is a song by the group We Are Messengers that speaks so beautifully to this, called appropriately, “Magnify.” One verse of the song says, “My sight is incomplete and I made You look small; I’ve been staring at my problems for way too long.” We humans have a tendency to do just that—focus on all the things that are going wrong, instead of how the grace of God has brought us through so much. Yet when we magnify the good, when we adjust our heart lenses to focus on the grace of God, when we examine our lives from His perspective, we see how truly blessed we are. And all our troubles seem much smaller, much more easy to manage, when God is magnified, instead of our problems.

 

magnified
We Are Messengers – “Magnify”

 

Do you want peace in the craziness? Magnify the Lord. Do you want hope in your desperation? Magnify the Lord. Do you want light in the darkness? Magnify the Lord. Magnify Him: seek Him first, set Him higher, honor Him more, and all these things shall be added unto you.

I pray that He is magnified in your life today and every day! God bless you!

 

If you’d like to hear the whole song by We Are Messengers, you can click here for a link to the YouTube page to watch the official music video. 🙂

Light in the Darkness

We live in a fallen world. This is never more apparent than when something as awful and tragic as a school shooting occurs, but the darkness surrounds us all day, every day, whether we notice it or not.

candle

What is darkness, but the absence of light. And what is light? According to the Word of God, Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Therefore, it stands to reason that the darkness in our world is evidence of a lack of Jesus in society.

If we are followers of Jesus, if we believe in Him, have trusted in Him for salvation, have given our lives to Him, He lives within us. We believers, His Church, are the lampstands (Luke 11:33), the cities on a hill (Matthew 5:14), the jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7) that Jesus shines His light through. If we don’t shine His light onto others, how will they ever see it?

Wherever the light of Jesus shines, the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5). But one small candle in a stadium of darkness doesn’t feel like it’s making much difference. We need to come together, put aside petty differences and offenses, focus on Jesus and His truth, and combine our lights into one brilliant spotlight, shining Jesus so brightly onto the world around us that they cannot deny His presence. When they see Jesus in us, they will see hope.

Light up a path to Jesus, so that the lost can find their way to Him and know He is the only Way, the only Truth, and the only Life!

bridge

Worship His Holy Name

praise-1154566_640

Sunday mornings at Colona Community Church are unlike many churches out there today. After our pastor opens with prayer and a member presents a reading from the Word, we grab our hymnals out of the handcrafted racks on the back of each antique pew and are led through a few traditional hymns by our song leader and pianist. That’s the “worship portion” of our service. That’s it. No hundred-member choir; no six-piece band with guitar and drum solos; no big screens with the words of the songs projected over colorful backgrounds. I’ve been in churches where all of these play a part in the service, and they are beautiful, but they might lead some to question whether ours is really even a time of worship in comparison to a more modern worship service.

So what is worship? According to the dictionary on my shelf, it is “reverent love and devotion; to honor or love devotedly.” In other words, whatever we devote our love, thoughts, time, and energy to is what we worship. Real worship is so much more than singing a few songs on Sunday morning. Worship is how we live our lives in response to God’s love for us. As A.W. Tozer put it, “If you’re not worshipping God on Monday the way you did the day before, perhaps you’re not worshipping Him at all.”

Worship can be done in silence or clamor, in stillness or exuberance, in whispers or shouts, so long as we are focused on Him and feeling, knowing, saying in our hearts that God alone is worthy to be praised. “Honor the LORD for the glory of His name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness” (Psalm 29:2, NLT).

But we can’t truly worship God unless we know Him—not just know about Him, but really get to know Him on a deep and personal level (John 4:23). We do this by reading His Word, by pouring our hearts out to Him in prayer, by listening to Him in quietness, and by drawing closer to Him in all circumstances. And, of course, by faithfully trusting in who He is.

Worship should encompass our entire lives, for it is in worship that “God imparts Himself to us” (C.S. Lewis). It is in those times that we are devoting our thoughts, time, love, and energy to God that we are worshipping Him. Be it with a quiet hymn on a Sunday morning or a spirited dance to your favorite For King & Country song on a Thursday afternoon, worship comes from the heart, where God’s throne rests.

worship.jpg

If you’re ever in need of a place of quiet worship and devotion to the Lord, please join us on a Sunday morning in Colona. We’d love to have you worship with us!

Fellowship of the Saints

Here at Colona Community Church we practice the fine art of “potluckery.” Yes, that’s right, once a month (typically the second Sunday) we get together after the service to share copious amounts of delicious food and sweet fellowship.

Fellowship is hugely important in the Christian life. The apostles in the very early days of the Church knew the importance of fellowship. In the second chapter of Acts, Luke reports that the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Learning, fellowship, eating, and prayer were all of equal value to the beginning of the Church, as they should still be to all believers today. The chapter finishes by saying, “Every day they continued to meet together….They broke bread…and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2:46-47a). There can be no doubt that meeting together and eating together brings us closer to each other and to the Lord.

And God commands us to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the  habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25). He wants us to spend time in fellowship so that we can “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24) and “[encourage] one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The more time we spend in fellowship with one another, the deeper and stronger our relationships with God and with our church family become. Fellowship keeps us encouraged and energized for serving the Lord with joy.

Corrie ten Boom once said, “When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles.” The devil knows that meeting together, breaking bread with each other, and encouraging one another, strengthens our ties, hones our will to serve, and binds us in love. So, if we want to fortify ourselves against the wiles of the devil, fellowshipping and eating together are wonderful spiritual exercises.

We may only be a tiny little church here in Colona, but we are one big family. And all are welcome to join our family in fellowship with each other and with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Refined in the Fire

The silversmith  must pay very close attention when he is melting down silver to create his lovely pieces. He can’t simply toss chunks of silver into a bowl and place it in the fire, checking back on it in a few hours to see how it’s melting. No, he must sit right beside the crucible, constantly watching and caring for the silver. Should he look away for even a moment, the silver can scorch. So he sits and he stirs, ever mindful of the moment when the silver is finally ready to be taken from the fire. And how does he know when that moment has arrived? When he can see his reflection mirrored perfectly in the surface of the melted silver.

And so it is in our own lives. God is our silversmith, placing us in the fire to refine us through trials and tests of our faith. But He never leaves us alone in the fire. He doesn’t take a break to grab a snack or watch the Super Bowl or walk the dog. No, He is always right there beside us during those difficult times, caring for us, ensuring we don’t scorch in the flames. And when He can see Himself more clearly reflected in us, that’s when He knows that the refining has been complete and He removes us from the fire.

Know that when times are tough, God is right there beside you, watching you transform — and if you are trusting in Him, you will be refined into something more beautiful than you can even imagine: a reflection of God Himself.

 

  • I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. Zechariah 13:9
  • For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. Psalm 66:10
  • Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?” Jeremiah 9:7
  • Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. Daniel 11:35
  • He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Malachi 3:3

 

Praying that you have a blessed week!