Devotional Thoughts

Here is where our pastors and leaders share their hearts, and words of encouragement.  You can subscribe to these posts and receive them in your inbox when a new post is published.

 

Immoveable!

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

FrustrationI received a phone call today from one of the leaders in our church. She has spent countless hours counseling, comforting, confronting, and even cajoling someone in whom she has actively discipled to live for Christ Jesus and not her former way of life. During this time there have been victories and defeat as she mentored and loved her. Now, this individual has regressed. The frustration and sadness could be heard in this leader’s voice as she shared with me on the phone. Sound familiar to you? As leaders and disciple makers we too have experienced heartbreak. I heard someone once say, “Ministry would be great if not for the people!” We must remember that Jesus died for those people, in whom we are included.

Paul encourages us with his words to the Corinthian church. We are reminded that we must be strong and immoveable. Nothing should be allowed to knock us off course. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! Our Lord does not want us to be miserable or grudgingly serve him; He wants our work to be full of enthusiasm and enjoyment—even when we experience setbacks. And finally, we are reminded that nothing we ever do for the Lord is useless! He redeems our time and our effort.



Taking Care of Mom

 

mom coffeeJohn 19:25-27
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

It has often been said that when Jesus went to the cross He was already thinking of you and me. He knew those in whom He would ransom by taking our place in death. I’m convinced we were certainly in His thoughts and the purpose of His motivation.  John’s gospel account gives us a unique detail from Christ’s crucifixion. Before Jesus said “It is finished.” (19:30) we see something else that He was very mindful of—His own mother! At this moment, on the cross, if anyone had ever had a valid excuse of being too busy to care for His mother surely Jesus would have. Instead, even in the midst of physical and spiritual agony Jesus had loving concern for His mom and her welfare. How about you and I? Do we allow ‘life’ and ‘things’ to prevent us from making sure our mom is well taken care of? How is your relationship with mom?



Is God asking you to stay?

ballerina-project

“Movement through a position is far easier than sustaining a position.” The picture – a suspension of a single moment – makes it look easy. And, in truth, the greatest dancers make it look easy in life. But it isn’t easy.

Sustaining a position takes self-control, dedication and gumption to fight.

Does God have you someplace and is asking you to stay? To balance? To be patient on His timing? Staying in one place for humans who are in a state of constant motion, can be the hardest thing we do in obedience to God. But the resulting beauty is worth it. His Will is worth it!
 
-Koren Obispo
 (Kid Master/Children’s Pastor)


The God of Second Chances!

Jonah banner
 
Our 5 part series on the book of Jonah starts this Sunday (January 18th)…
 
Week One- Running from God- When we are in rebellion, running from God, “backsliding” etc., He pursues us, welcomes us back and redeems us. We need to stop running and let our pursuer catch us. (Jan 18th)
 
Week Two- The Call of God- What is God’s calling for each of our lives (specific and general)? God gives a second chance for those who have been running from that calling. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance as the Scripture says. (Jan 25th)
 
Week Three- The Message of God- God’s message to us when we are fleeing from him with our lifestyle or even in just a moment’s weakness is REPENT! The heart of God is to save and restore. (Feb 1st)
 
Week Four- Prejudice- Our many prejudices have caused relational conflict with others (and God). God gives a second chance. Not just for forgiveness but for unity. (Feb 8th)
 
Week Five- I am So Angry- Our anger (men especially) has caused strife in the home, broken marriages, and broken children. But God gives us a second chance! (Feb 15th)

 



What is the Gospel?

Gospel's Three Main Functions



Life Groups

3-D Life Groups

 

Our vision for every Life Group is to have three dimensions. To explain those better we will do so by breaking down the mission verse for Whistling Pines (why we exist):

 

“God gives lonely people a family. He sets prisoners free, and they go out singing.” Psalm 68:6 (NIRV)

 
  • God-
    • Time set aside with God.
    • People have three fundamental needs. The first is transcendence (the need to connect with the Creator)
    • Bible study, prayer, contemplating and discussing the things of God
    • He sets us free
  • Family-
    • Time spent with the body of Christ
    • The second of people’s fundamental needs is community (the need to connect with others through deeply satisfying relationships)
    • Entering into one another’s lives.
    • Intentional discipleship
    • The problem with our idea of community most of the time is that it tends to be exclusive of people outside the community
  • Go out-
    • Time spent with those who don’t know Jesus yet
    • The third of people’s fundamental needs is significance (the need to have a purpose in life and do something meaningful)
    • Intentionally reaching out
    • The group as a whole may focus on one particular area, or each of its members be involved with their own circles of influence
    • It’s not about adding one more thing to our busy schedules
A Life Group is a family that lives out the mission of God together.
 
For More information about our church vision please click here


Meet the Holy Spirit

Beautiful day to you church!

I want to follow-up on this past Sunday morning and also encourage you for this new week. In my sermon, “Meet the Holy Spirit” I went through many characteristics of a person that the Holy Spirit possesses. He is not just some active force or abstract or metaphysical idea. He is not just a symbol of the presence and power of God, He IS the presence and power of God! I concluded the message with challenging all of us to consider/meditate on/pray about this question: “DO I WELCOME THE PRESENCE OF GOD?“. If you were not here and would like to hear the sermon, you may do so here– Conversations with John: Meet the Holy Spirit. We then had a precious time in worship as a response to the message. I feel such a need for our Body to not just learn about the Holy Spirit but even more so, experience the Holy Spirit! Again, I ask that each of us consider the question: Do I welcome the presence of God in my life?

I also wanted to share this email with the church that I received from Joanne (Jacquart) Pyle this morning:

Your teaching on the Holy Spirit was very good! It was a reminder to me again to “listen” to that voice of the Holy Spirit. In fact, for each new year I usually set goals, but this year I clearly heard only one to focus on. (This was hard for me because I’m a goal setter and list maker) I have hanging on the wall above my computer: “The Holy Spirit is speaking… Are you listening?” He has directed me in so many ways in the past and I’ve seen His miracles, but sometimes I get too busy and don’t “hear” those nudges of the Spirit.

On New Years Eve you asked me where I had an article printed… It was one of my personal experiences when I listened to that nudge of the Spirit. Thought you might like to read it – it’s an application of what you were teaching. :)

Here is a PDF of her wonderful short article, Live – Nudge of the Spirit 12-30-12 that was published in Live Magazine. It is a powerful story.

Be led by the Holy Spirit!
Love you guys,
Pastor Shawn



Is Tithing still for the New Testament Church?

Two weeks ago I gave a short teaching/exhortation before the collection of our offerings concerning the question, “Is Tithing a New Testament Principle?” This was a 13 minute exhortation examining two New Testament Scripture passages relating to tithing. Is giving 10% of our increase still a viable expression of giving to the Lord for the furtherance of His kingdom and church? Or, was this just part of the law in the old covenant (Old Testament) that our dispensation of grace in Christ has removed? 
 
If you were not in attendance to hear this, or would like to listen to this again, you may do so here:
Is Tithing a New Testament Principle?
Also, to study further or just to follow along, here are some notes of interest:
  • Tithing began before the law was introduced. The Law simply regulated the tithe. In Genesis 28, Jacob (before being named Israel) set-up an altar to the LORD and said he would worship and give a tenth (or tithe) there. And even predating that, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, 400 years before the time of Moses and the Law (Genesis 14:18-20).
  • This is what the New Testament says concerning this tithe:
    Hebrews 7:1-10 (NASB) 1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. 4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.…8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
  • The tithe is not clearly reinforced in the New Testament the way it is in the OT, though giving absolutely is.
  • However, it is not clearly abolished either.
  • Matthew 23:23 (NLT) “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
  • The Apostle Paul also carries over the concept of tithing as described in the law into the church:
    1 Corinthians 9:13-14 (NASB) 13 Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? 14 So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.
  • The clearest NT pattern of giving:
    • 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV) 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
    • Jesus was impressed with the widow’s giving, because she gave all. (Luke 21:1-4). Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and then follow Him! (Mark 10:17-27)
    • Jesus said…“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

… something to prayerfully consider…



The Whole Truth…and nothing but the truth

Dear church:

I feel compelled to invite you to church this Sunday. That might sound somewhat strange as some of you reading this come almost every Sunday anyway; some do, some do not. Regardless, I believe God has a special word for us this Sunday and I don’t want you to miss what the Lord is saying to our church!
We have been teaching through John 14:6: “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This week we are going to look at TRUTH. In ancient Greek culture, truth (Gk: aletheia) was synonymous for “reality” as the opposite of illusion. When Jesus said He was the truth, it was not just a random adjective that he chose. “Truth” meant “the manifested,” “the essence of matter.” We are called on to be real too; to manifest or embody Jesus in every aspect of our lives. To be the real deal. We will also look at GRACE and how a half-truth about grace is a whole lie.
Please plan on coming this Sunday morning at 10 AM!
Love you guys,
Pastor Shawn


Identity of a Doulos

Jesus shows the ultimate example of servant leadership by washing His disciples’ feet in John 13. John sets the stage by saying in verse 1; “He now showed them the full extent of His love.” Serving others is truly an ultimate expression of the Father’s love. Why would the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dress down like a slave, stoop and wash dirty feet?! John shows us it was because He knew His identity and possessed the Father’s love.

 

Jesus was able to ‘demote’ Himself willingly because: 1. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power. (He knew that God was in control of His life and ministry.) 2. Jesus knew He came from God. (He knew that God was the source of His mission in life.) 3. Jesus knew He was returning to God (Jesus had an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one.) (vs. 3)

 

Being a servant was Christ’s identity. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Gk: doulos), being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5-7) A doulos (or bond-servant) is a slave who when set free says, “I love my master and do not want to leave you” voluntarily giving up his or her freedom and giving their allegiance to their master. A doulos is devoted to their master to the disregard of their own interests.

 

Identity precedes and affects behavior. Jesus set an example for us that we should do likewise and even promises that we will be blessed if we do. We can serve others, and in doing so serve Christ, when our identity is that of a doulos of Jesus!

 

The Full Extent of His Love