Monthly Archives: January, 2015

Family: The Home is Central to the Word of God

Genesis 2:16-17
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 3:2-3
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Family. We all have one. What’s yours like?

When you look at the family you came from are you left with good memories? Happy moments where love and security abound? Thoughts of family vacations or holiday traditions? Or does reflecting back mean digging up long-ago buried memories of pain and rejection? Hurts of past disappointments or broken promises? What about when you look at the family you have now? When you look at your family are you able to smile? Do you consider them a blessing or a burden? Does going home mean preparing for battle or being embraced by those you hold dearest? Maybe going home just means silence and loneliness? What does family mean to you?

I’m excited about this month’s focus on families. Why? We all have them. They’ve either made us who we are because we want to be like them or because we will do just about anything to not be the same as them. They are who has influenced us good, bad, and ugly. I’m excited about our month of families because the truth is… they’re broken.

We live in a world of broken families and shattered lives all trying hard to put on a façade of happiness, to look like we have it all together, to appear that we aren’t struggling.

We are.  All of us.

Doesn’t sound too exciting right?! But this is the part I’m excited about. We don’t have to hold it together, to put on a show, or to pretend that everything is ok. We have been invited to be loved by the One who fixes the broken, who holds together the pieces when we’re shattered, who can give joy in the midst of any struggle. The One who can comfort us, help us, heal us and love us.

Unconditionally.  Forever.

I read a book a while ago about the phenomenon of college age kids leaving the church. This book had all the reasons why 18 year olds didn’t want to be a part of the church anymore and why they were walking away from their faith and their God. Statistics, facts, interviews… it had it all. I finished the book and wanted to throw it across the room. Not one single solution. I care about the problem but I care more about how to fix the problem. The book ended up in the garbage. Here’s the thing, I don’t need to tell you your problems. You experience them every day. Our desire is that your families don’t end like that book… in the garbage. You’re not too broken or too shattered. There is a solution and we want to help you find that solution. Whether it’s your marriage, your parents, your kids, your siblings, your extended family, or friends who are like family. I want to invite you over the next month to join us on this journey to see families like God sees them.

So let’s start there. In God’s Word. In your home, in your families, in your relationships, with your kids… where is God’s Word found? Is it found at all?

Whether you’re young or old, married or single, with children or without, a child or a teenager, you and your family are important to God. So much so that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior God welcomes you into His family!

We see from the beginning of creation with Adam and Eve that God created humans to live in families. We also see from the beginning the problem that sin causes in families. As we dig into God’s word we see exactly how God uses normal, sinful people to bring about a Savior. We see what leaving a legacy can look like when we look at people like David and Noah and their desire to follow God with their families (and yes, they were often broken too!) We see the purpose of marriage when we look at Christ’s relationship with the church. And we see the importance of parenting when we see God as the perfect Father. We can search the books of Psalms and Proverbs for thoughts and wisdom on relationships and parenting. Or look into Paul’s letters to the New Testament churches for instructions on how to handle problems in relationships. Over and over again, God’s Word shows us families and relationships and how they function are important to Him. No matter what you and your family are dealing with, what problems you face, or what encouragement you need, God promises to help you and your family through it… if you let Him!

I’m excited about this month of focusing on families because I’m excited to see what happens when we as a church family are challenged and encouraged to look to God’s Word and not to the world for help in our marriages and families, in parenting and friendships, in how we live our lives each and every day by ourselves and with others.

My hope and prayer this month is that you and your family will commit to join us for these 30 days. That you’ll commit to spend time each day in God’s word individually and with your family. That you’ll allow God to lead your family and begin to see the incredible things that only He can do!

He’s invited you to come to him…

Matthew 11:28-29
28 “Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls.

Will you take Him up on it?

Family. We all have one. Where’s God and His Word in yours?

Spend time in God’s Word… By yourself and with your family.

The River Devotional – January 30th

Statistically speaking, most people who are reading this have already quit on their 2015 resolution. It’s crazy to think that we as human beings cannot achieve at least one full month of change. Whether we tried to eat better, work out, stop smoking, or be better husbands or wives, we all failed at completing our goals! Failure is a hard thing to deal with. If you wallow in your failure, then the enemy has already beaten you. We are human and we are going to fail! That is a fact of life and there is nothing we can do about it. No matter how hard you push for change, all of us will fail in some area or another. The key to failing is not the failure itself, but how you respond to it. A great concept taught to us by Rocky Balboa is, “It’s not how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving!” We, as Christians, are called to a life of seeking Him everyday, but that does not mean we will or can be perfect. The Apostle Paul talks about this very concept. Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The Apostle Paul tells us that he had not attained where he should be, but he would not dwell on his past mistakes or failures. Instead, he would keep moving forward toward the prize which Christ has called him too. That prize is heaven, and he would not let anyone, anything, or past mistake keep him from moving forward. My prayer for you today, is that you do not let your past mistakes or failures keep you from moving forward into the life Jesus Christ has called you to.

The River Devotional – January 23rd

Change is an incredible thing. It gives us a chance to turn from something and go another direction. We can change our feelings or attitude toward something, change our occupation or change the way we view life. The definition of change, is to make or become different. I don’t know about you, but I seek change in my life everyday. Change is exciting and can bring about newness in many facets of our lives. However, I am thankful that Jesus Christ does not change. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I am truly thankful that my actions and the things I say, do not change how Jesus Christ feels about me. Jesus has promised us that He will not change. No matter what happens in this world or how unstable things seem to be, I can stand firm in the knowledge that Jesus Christ sits on His throne and does not change! I pray today that you understand the loving power of Jesus Christ and can have peace knowing Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

The River Devotional – January 16th

A few years ago I was wasting time searching around the internet, when I came across an incredible article. It was not written by a Christian or from a Christian standpoint, but was truly profound. It discussed the importance of overcoming obstacles and achieving things in the face of adversity. I saved a few excerpts from the article and wanted to share them with you. “But now, on the verge of a new year, it’s time to take a step back and realize a powerful, central message that came through loud and clear in 2011: Determined people who chase the ‘impossible’ can prove naysayers wrong and bring change beyond what nearly everyone imagined.” I read the article and was amazed by the message because it talked about bringing ultimate change to the world, but stopped short of explaining how we bring change to the world. At The River, our vision is to see God “change people’s world”. We believe in and have even experienced the changing power of Jesus Christ. We get to see and hear stories everyday, of how Jesus steps into someone’s situation and changes it drastically. We hold strong to this belief! The reason I brought up the article though at the end of the article it says, “The world could be counting on you— and not even know it.” Well I want to take it one step further and say the world IS counting on you. We have been called to spread the love of Christ to the world. He already did the work we couldn’t do, but it is our job… wait, it is our duty, it is our obligation as followers of Christ, to show the changing power of Jesus Christ. May your conversations, attitudes, actions, and life shine the changing power of Jesus Christ, because the world is counting on us!

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

The River Devotional – January 9th

Happy New Year! As you begin the New Year, with all of the promises and resolutions of change, may you remember where real “newness” comes from. II Corinthians 5:17 says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Jesus is the one who brings change in our life. Whether we are trying to quit a bad habit, lose a few pounds, or striving to put Christ as the center of our life, we must remember whom we seek in this time of change. I love the end of the verse that highlights the departure of the “old” and the arrival of “new”. January 1st brought in 2015, a NEW year. May the old dissipate in your life and may you put Christ at the center of the new. My prayer for you is that no matter what area of change you seek in your life, you make Jesus Christ the center of that change.

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