Author Archives: Ryan Story

True Humility

Imprisonment and Doubt #3  November 22 True Humility

C. S. Lewis said, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” I am not a humble guy. Pride is one of the hardest sins in my life. This has always been a struggle for me. The thing that is ironic to me is that I struggle with both sides of pride, the self-conscious part of pride, and I struggle with the egocentric part of pride. Any given day I can have sinful thoughts that I am the greatest, smartest person on this Earth, to the next day thinking that everything I do is useless and meaningless. That is why I enjoy that quote by Mr. Clive Staples Lewis (bet you did not know his name was Clive) because he can tap into the core of what humility looks like, thinking of ourselves less.

I have enjoyed studying John the Baptist over this last month or so. I try to make sure that I read as much as I can about a Biblical topic before I write. One of John’s most famous quotes he ever says is found in John 3:30, where he says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is one of those common Christian jargon verses we like to throw around and make for some amazing Christian tattoos. But like many things in the Bible, things that have been written, we have lost the true meaning, the real depth of the beauty that John is saying.  Sadly, I have to admit, I did not realize that John the Baptist said this in John 3. I feel ashamed to admit this, but when I first started reading, I said to myself, “I thought John 3 was all about Nicodemus and Jesus.”

Take today to really, really study a conversation that is had in John 3:25-30. A disciple and a random Jewish man (I am assuming) are having a conversation, and they ask John a question. They even ask it using “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), which is a huge sign of respect in the Jewish culture. The men proceed to listen to John as he waxed eloquent exaltations about Jesus. John was a man with a following. John was thought of as one of the champions of the Jewish nation, Elijah. John was a man who could out-preach the Pharisees. John was a man who knew his place.

John knew who Jesus was, as many reading this do. If we want to begin to think about Jesus as John did we have to answer two paramount questions:

1)What areas of your life do you need to start decreasing?

2) What areas of your life do you need to start letting Jesus increase?

Are you trying to control too much in your life? Are you afraid to give, or serve because you do not know when you would get that time or money back? Are you afraid to ask God how to serve Him because it might not be in your plans? When will you start acting like Jesus and finally stop gossiping, swearing, or talking negatively about someone? When we get to a place where those are the hard questions, we get to a place where John was. John was able to serve God faithfully, boldly, and so counter-culturally that he was used to be the small spark that ignited the Jesus movement. And it came from one simple idea; I am going to humble myself, so Jesus can indeed be seen through my actions.

Pastor Ryan Story
Student Pastor

Prep Work

Ministry #3  November 15       Prep Work

John the Baptist had very clear orders for his life.  Matthew 3:3 says, “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare
the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” John’s entire life mission was to prepare hearts and minds for the moment when Jesus would start His ministry. John dedicated his life to preparing the way for Jesus. That kind of dedication is admirable. John was bold, John was an outcast, and John never gave up because he knew what he was preparing.

While I write this my son who is a year and a half, and my five-day-old son are both asleep. While I am still called to model and live out what Jesus told me to do in The Great Commission, I feel compelled to make sure that I am preparing the way for my sons’ lives similar to what John did for Jesus. Now when John was preparing the way he was announcing that the Kingdom of God had come. While I do not plan on preparing my sons for any sort of Messianic complex, I do plan on doing everything in my ability to make their path is as clear and straight as possible, so they walk the way the Lord wants them to. The way I look at how I should be preparing the way is similar to John. John was willing to live a life of sacrifice, discomfort, and complete devotion to the task of developing the way. 

Every Christian has a person in their life that they should be working to help make their paths straight. No Christ follower is ever going to say they want to be a stumbling block in someone’s life. So we should all take a moment and pray to find out what things we need to start doing to help straighten someone’s path for them to get to God. Imagine how John felt as the Jesus movement started taking off. Imagine all the toil, all the work that John put in would have been well worth it the moment John started seeing people being healed, people being taught, people starting to draw around the One that John was sent to prepare His ministry.

My hope and prayer in my life is that I can pave the way to God so well for my sons that my ceiling will be their floor. I want to help remove every sin I struggle with if it means my sons have a better shot at serving Jesus. I plan on living a life that opens up a path for my boys. Now clearly every parent is going to say that. But as Christians, how often do we focus on making sure we are living our lives to clear the path for our co-workers, friends, or even the random person you walked passed in the grocery store. Take some time today and think about the things you need to start doing to open a path up for those around you. 

Pastor Ryan Story

Student Pastor

The Spirit of Elijah

Miraculous conception and birth #3  November 8 The Spirit of Elijah

Be honest, have you read the Bible and not understood what something meant? Sadly, we run into those hard verses, and if we did not have Google, we all might be in serious jeopardy. I will admit, preparing to write about John the Baptist I ran into such a verse. Luke 1:17 says that John “will go before him (Jesus) in the spirit and power of Elijah.  Now we all know what John the Baptist did, if not I recommend reading the Bible a bit. John was to prepare the way for Jesus, but when reading this, I ran into “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”  Instantly, I paused and let out an unexplainable sound of confusion. What does it mean to have the spirit and power of Elijah? Better yet, how do I take this verse and make it applicable to my life? 

John and Elijah had something in common. Now we must not think that John is the reincarnation of Elijah. John himself even dismisses that claim. The spirit that John and Elijah both had in them was a bold, uncompromising stand for the Word of God. Elijah was willing to stand against King Ahab, Jezebel, and the false prophets of Baal. Elijah never wavered, never backed down, and was willing to say what he needed to say and do what he needed to do to be obedient to God.  Likewise, John the Baptist stood up to a Jewish and Roman nation that viewed him more as a madman than an instrument of God. John preached against the self-righteous religious elite. John and Elijah were not always perfect. Both had moments where they questioned God. John’s moment came while he was facing his death in a jail cell and Elijah’s came by a riverbank facing virtually the same issue. There were moments in both these men’s lives where they lost sight of things, but that never took away from the fact that God was still their primary focus.

There are a lot of times in our lives where as Christians we can fall into a stereotypical doormat Christian. Whenever a Christian speaks the truth, it is amazing how often the world will rebuttal with “that was not godly.”  It can become a scary thing if we become the type of Christian who operates in the safest most non-confrontational way.  Now there is a time for meekness and gentleness, but there are times when God’s people need to rock the boat.  I am not saying to sin while doing this, but there needs to be a point where God’s people come out of hiding and be willing to show they live for Him. It is easy to live an undercover Christian lifestyle and just go to church on weekends and no one knows it. We should all be willing to take a page out of John or Elijah’s book and be willing to speak the truth (this must be done in love) boldly.

Imagine a nation where all the people who claimed to be living for Jesus turned around and were not afraid to evangelize to their co-workers or fellow students. What would it look like if Christians were bold enough to not act like the world and were willing to take public scrutiny for the sake of Jesus? Imagine the world where men lead their families as they were designed. Imagine the world where teens would be willing to pray before school every day. Imagine the world where we stopped to pray for people who were hurting. A follower of Christ is meant to be bold, is intended to be counter-cultural, and a follower of Christ has no fear in this world.

Pastor Ryan Story

Student Pastor

Fallen – His End #3

Devils and Demons | The End
Pastor Ryan Story | Student Pastor

Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese soldier who continued fighting World War II a full 29 years after the Japanese surrendered because he did not know the war was over. In 1944, Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. His orders were simple: “You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that is the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you to give up your life voluntarily.” On March 10th, 1975, Onoda was found and surrendered his sword to the Pilipino government. Despite fighting and killing people after World War II ended, Onoda was still hailed as a hero in his return to Japan.

The scariest adversary is one that does not know they are defeated. Onoda was willing to stay loyal to the cause and never give up, despite the fact the war had already been won. I often encounter students who ask me, “Why is life so hard despite the fact that they live for Jesus?” One of the only answers I can ever think of is the fact that Satan knows he is defeated, he knows he lost, he knows his final resting place. I do not imagine “the roaring lion” taking this loss well.  The Devil is a frantic sore loser who wants to take everyone down in his path. Since Jesus has set us all free from the Devil’s grasps, we should expect adversity, trials, and tribulation.
I am a huge strategy game fan. Any game where you have to get into someone’s head to win is an instant favorite in my book. The Bible is clear in several areas about what Satan does. There is never a moment where the Bible is not clear about how he is here to attempt to bring us down. Now I know that when the Devil swings and it connects it hurts. I have seen great Christians brought down and broken because of sin and temptations. 2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Let us all understand that he is out to get us, let us not be ignorant of that. Be on guard, but if we know there is an enemy that is never going to give up trying to destroy us, who will be relentless, who will attack us in the most horrific ways at times, let us remind the Devil that because of Jesus and what He did on the cross we shall never be outwitted or ignorant of his designs. I love the NIV translation on this verse because instead of designs it says schemes. The Devil is a roaring, sore loser who wants to ruin anyone’s life that he can before his end is met.

An adversary who does not know he lost can only win, if we let him. Too often in life, we focus more on the schemes and less on the gift of salvation and the victory that brings us. We all wake-up and fail in our walk with God.  We all stumble, but losing a battle is one thing, but do not give up on fighting the war because of one bad day. That is exactly what a losing enemy wants out of you. An enemy that does not know he has lost is scary, but a victor who refuses to give up is stronger.   

Fallen – His Preachers #3

Devils and Demons | Transformed?
Pastor Ryan Story | Student Pastor

I remember when I first got a Walkman. If I am not mistaken, I was about 11 years old. I walked up to the old Harmony House in Waterford and bought two cassettes. Now I had gotten cassette tapes as gifts in the past, but this was the first time I bought my own. The first two cassette tapes I ever purchased were the soundtracks to Batman Forever and Dangerous Minds. Do not judge.  In 1995, Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” and Coolio’s “Gangster Paradise” where and still are the greatest songs ever. I remember getting back home, and my parents asked where I was, and I told them. I do not recall the exact conversation, but I remember getting my Coolio cassette taken away because my parents deemed it inappropriate. Looking back on it, I can see that them wanting to keep certain influences away from their children was the right call; however, I do have those entire songs memorized to this day. Now, I am not trying to degrade the hip-hop culture or even take shots at rap music, but I often catch myself realizing how much influence media of all types has on my life. While in my day it was the hip-hop revolution that took place, I am pretty sure when 1980 hairbands or The Beatles became popular young people were influenced as well.

I am not a legalist when it comes to movies, television, video games, or music. I have my lines that I will not cross when it comes to what I deem viewable. I also do not always think that “the devil controls Hollywood,” but I do believe that there are some very anti-Jesus sentiments out there. I love movies. In high school, I use to listen to all types of music from country to rock to rap. And be honest, who does not love watching prime time sitcoms, as I write this I have “Friends” playing on Netflix. We all have our media vices.  With all of that being said, the truth is the things we watch or listen to, do in fact influence us. This is a fact we cannot deny. Sadly, we often run toward our entertainment vices instead of running to better our walk with Christ.

We could talk all day about how the Devil is out to destroy our lives, but I do not think that he always uses such aggressive tactics. Sometimes all he has to do is get us to not read our Bible, or to skip Church because of a football game, or to skip a Growth Community because there is a band in town. Again none of those activities is necessarily sinning, but if we are not careful, we start being influenced by worldly entertainment. At times I feel we have all failed to live up to Paul’s warning in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world.”  If you are going to brush me off and say “I can watch football and still be a Christian,” I totally agree. Paul says in the second part of Romans 12:2, “But be transformed.”  Be honest if you are listening to music you should not, or watching movies or television that you should not, into what are you being transformed? The Devil does not want us to transform into what Jesus wants us to become, he wants us to conform to the world. Sometime this week turn off the TV and open your Bible, read it with your family. Take an honest look at the shows you and your children watch. How do they help you with growing in your prayer life? Take a second to look at the songs on your Spotify, how godly are they? There are seasons in our life where we have to remove certain vices and focus on growing our relationship with Jesus. It scares me to think how many Christians the Devil has tricked into a lukewarm lifestyle with just music preferences.

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