ROOTS - growing deeper into my relationship with God

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

Every area of our life is rooted in something. You know, the place where we draw from to find our identity. Our purpose. The map or plan in our everyday. Sometimes roots grow deep into what we desire to achieve with our lives. Sometimes they get tangled into the web or relationships or a specific person. Sometimes its our dreams the we find our roots growing through. Roots can also grow into dark places as well and we can even find our deepest longings woven into behavior the doesn’t reflect the best versions of ourselves. What is your life rooted in? Wait…reality check. Is your life truly rooted in Jesus? 

Or, a better question -  How SUSTAINABLE are you as a human being? 

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You know…to the people around you. Your family. Your spouse. The people you work with. Maybe, even the company you work for. The friends you hang out with on the weekends or those you connect with during the week. Are you a viable source of hope and strength for them because your roots are invested in the heart of God or are they a shallow root systems that goes barely below the surface in your relationship with your heavenly Father? 

Any good root system rises and falls based on the water source it is planted by. In Psalm 92, we get a picture of this in what the Psalmist writes…

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!””

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If Christ is the stream that never depletes and always has a fresh source than why do we so often sink ourselves into toxic water sources that poison our hearts rather than keep us hydrated and ALIVE?

Whatever your age or season in life, it takes courage to slow down enough to grow a root system in your life so that you can BEAR FRUIT. We were born to BEAR FRUIT not live our lives as BARREN TREES. 

God’s HOPE for us as human beings is to grow, produce and share GOOD FRUITS that grow out of the depths of our hearts for our own sustainability and others. 

Some of us aren’t growing very good fruit because we are root systems aren’t in the right SOIL. What soil have you planted you identity in? Today is the day to maybe do a little digging in your heart and ask yourself the tough question. Change is possible. You can re-plant yourself by the stream that always refreshes your soul. It will take work, though. Investment. Constant attention. Sacrifice. But, the payoff is so amazing. You will grow strong like a tree that can stand the test of time. The winds can’t blow it over. Life’s storms can pull it down. It yields amazing fruit for others to take and grow from. 

Look in the mirror and ask yourself again, “Where are my roots planted?” 

Be Encouraged...

Pastor Mark

What Really Matters...

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7 ESV

Growing older is a process. If you haven’t had it yet in life, you will most likely at some point look in the mirror and ask, “What happened?” You may try and dye your hair (or that goatee), botox those wrinkles, shave your back…and spend endless hours in the gym trying to regain that youthful spirit again. I’ve done some pretty funny things to retain my younger days.  Youth pastors for over 25 years, Brenda and I spent most of our younger life hanging out with teenagers and creating moments for them to experience a relationship with God. A few years ago, I looked into the mirror and said, “God, what’s next? I don’t want to become old and crusty. And, I can’t afford to die the gray away every week.” Gently, my heavenly Father reminded me that the ‘fountain of youth’ isn’t found in a bottle but in a baton that you pass to the next generation. So, I packed up my dreams of becoming and set sail for the hard work of trenching. Digging out a path for the next generation to find Jesus and do things to share his LOVE greater than I ever did or my generation could. 

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This weekend we dedicated all four of our Experiences at 29:11church to our Tribe Youth students. We let them take over our church and share with us what its like to be 17 again. To remind us that they need us…my generation and all those who have gone on before to be a part of their journey. This picture moves my soul. Zion led us in an anointing service and I got to pray over students in four different services. In this particular moment, I got to pray over Caleb and Sebastian. Two young men who have such potential and hope to make a difference for Jesus. I remember praying that they wouldn’t wait until tomorrow…but they would take this very short window of time and live for God with all the courage that He has already enabled them with. So, one day, they can look in the mirror and see a reflection that didn’t hold back anything when it came to their relationship with God

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Everyday, over 5,000 suicide attempts take place in this great country with students from 7th-12th grade. That’s 5,000 individual lives who have the potential to live with complete purpose. Our work is cut out for us. Who’s willing to get their shovels out and trench with me? The next generation is counting on us! God is counting on us! I looked over at two dear friends in their 70’s and 80’s in the worship pit with me on Sunday and said, “YOU both inspire me to never lose site of what matters to the heart of God!” 

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I’m so thankful to be a part of a church community at 29:11 that is doing just that. Digging through the pain of life so the “living water” can flow through. So…so…beautiful. #tribetakeover #potential #planhopepurpose

Be Encouraged,

Pastor Mark

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(if you get a chance, listen to Zion’s message on David’s anointing as a young shepherd boy that he spoke this past weekend…it will be up on our 29:11 APP after Tuesday of this week and will inspire you no matter your age)

New Mercy

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

New things. Who doesn’t like something that’s new and fresh? From the scent of laundry pulled from the dryer or hanging on line in your backyard to the smell of the inside of a brand new automobile just driven off the lot. New things remind of new start, a clean beginning, another chance. This powerful verse in Lamentations does just that as well. It reminded the children of Israel and still does for us today that God’s mercies are new every morning. 

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There is something so unique about a good night’s sleep. You awake with a little more pep in your step - with a fresh perspective on whatever your had been thinking about the night before. God designed us this way. Recently in our 29:11 Church community, we celebrated over 25 baptisms. On both campuses we were celebrating the new life by letting go of the old in the cold water below. The youngest was 10 and the oldest was 80. Not only was it a fresh start for those that were taking the plunge but for all of us watching it reminded us of the new life that God has promised us day in and day out because of the awesome sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us. Just watching the baptism recap video brought me to tears knowing the stories behind each person’s face. Realizing the new mercies on a daily basis gives us a sense of gratitude for this amazing God who sent His only Son to pay the price so we could embrace renewal everyday. No more Old Testament laws to stick to or sacrifices of blood and death captured for hundreds of years before Jesus hit this earth. This verse really was a prophetic word for us thousands of years later. Everyday through Jesus we have the hope of living fresh, clean lives. What a beautiful truth to realize as the minutes tick by. Each one of them reminding us of the hope we have in our Savior. 

His mercies are new.

Be Encouraged...

P. Mark

Vision Devos - Day 4

Vision Week Devotional

ONLY ONE

Day 4

WHY

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 NLT

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We looked into the HOW to allow Jesus to be the main character of our stories, but WHY is it important?

When we humble ourselves enough to remove us from the center of our stories, we allow Jesus to be the main character. And He shows up in crazy ways that we haven’t begun to dream of yet. We allow Him to do NEW and powerful things in us and through us.. We will never stop having living room sessions if we allow Jesus to be the main character of our lives. Keeping him as our focus keep our hearts at peace and rest. When we start to rely on ourselves we become the “fixers” rather than focusing on our heavenly Father. 

Praying this is a great day of hope and vision for you. 

BE Encouraged…

Pastor Mark

Vision Devos - Day 3

Vision Week Devotional

ONLY ONE

Day 3

The Starring Role

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Roman 8:28 NIV

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Every good film surrounds itself a central character who’s story unfolds right before our very eyes. Our lives are much the same. Most likely you won’t see yourself up on the movie screen but all too often we live our lives thinking everything in life sort of surrounds around us. 

How do we make Jesus part of our stories? We identify our needs. Are our needs rooted in ourselves? Do we need to be on the mic or in the spotlight every weekend? Do we need to be the main character of our story?

Are we reaching for Jesus or are we taking what the world has to grow our own empires? If Jesus is at the main character of our stories we show grace when it’s underserved...we reach out to the outcasts...we leave the 99 for the 1. We humble ourselves when in the world personal kingdoms are worshiped. When Jesus is the main character of our stories, we will ALWAYS be part of what He is doing. Our success will always be in keeping Jesus the main character of your story. 

What are some areas of your life that you can make Jesus more the central character than just an “extra”?

Live making Jesus the most important thing...

Be Encouraged,

P. Mark

Vision Devos - Day 2

Vision Week Devotional

ONLY ONE

Day 2

Where we’ve been… Where we’re going

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7-10 NIV

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Where we’ve been is what we’ve sewn. We’ve sewn into ministries and outreaches. 29:11 Kids is growing because we know the importance of raising up leaders. We’ve grown outreaches because the needs are ever present. What if we could do more than passing out pizza on mill? What if we were a solution for those needing mental and physical health care? We have a Savior ready to save. We’re reaping growth. We’ve expanded our physical church but more importantly, we’ve expanded community. We’ve grown community groups, new ministries  new outreaches. 

But we’re not finished. We’re still sewing. We’re not done growing leaders, expanding ministries, The needs are great but God has allowed the church to expand and meet the needs. WE ARE NOT DONE DOING GOOD. Can you imagine a church where every person is doing something to reach out beyond the walls of a church building to help make the community around us a healthier place to live, raise families, provide for the needy and so much more? It’s possible…all it takes is EACH of us being willing. Whether you’ve been coming since the Living Room Experience or started last week, would you be willing to pray, asking God to give you a clear vision on what you can do? 

Take a moment to step out today and get involved in something. No matter how small or big IT all makes a difference. 

Be Encouraged,

Pastor Mark

Be Encouraged with this week's special VISION WEEK DEVOS

Vision Week Devotional

ONLY ONE

Day 1

Light

Read: 

John 1:1-5

"In the beginning the Word already existed.

    The Word was with God,

    and the Word was God.

He existed in the beginning with God.

God created everything through him,

    and nothing was created except through him.

The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a]

    and his life brought light to everyone.

The light shines in the darkness,

    and the darkness can never extinguish it

Light within us reflecting Jesus."

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Ever watch the beginning stages of blooming plants? Their leaves reach toward the sun. They crave it, they bend toward it. 

We all long for light deep within our souls, we bend toward the light and this powers everything we do. We all come from a place of longing. What if we can start to live in that light the way Jesus intended? What if we started to accept that we don’t have to strive for light...we don’t have to bend toward light...but that love is chasing us and Light longing for US?!

It has always been Jesus’ light shining in us, in our darkness as Light to the love that has always been for us. Because Jesus has always been with mankind, since the beginning of time…we can trust that He will never “leave or forsake us.” Take a moment today to ponder on the amazing PLAN of our Heavenly Father. As John 1 states, from the “beginning.” Keeping your “awe” and “wonder” about our awesome God keeps your relationship fresh and exciting. He has LOVED YOU always. 

Be Encouraged,

Pastor Mark

TREES REPLANTED...

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, GOD, the woman who sticks with GOD. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 MSG

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We live in a world that chases after relationships, stuff and titles don’t we? It’s really a chase of “identity” as we try to fill our hearts with something that we hope will matter enough to satisfy our souls. The prophet Jeremiah saw the same thing in his generation. And, he spoke to it in this powerful scripture translated into The Message version of the Bible. We are blessed when we chase after the things that matter. That starts with pursuing a relationship with Jesus above all things. When we are connected to the Vine (John 15) we find that most things fall into place. Our perspective finds a clear view and leaning on our heavenly Father makes the waiting periods of life more doable. Determine in your heart to trust and stick with God no matter what. Develop that relationship day by day as you spend time connecting with your heavenly Father.  Trust your life and all that goes with it into the hands of our God. Live like that tree planted by streams of water…the “living water.” Be more determined in your life to know Jesus…today.

Be Encouraged! 

Pastor Mark

*Find ways to get to know Jesus more on our APP devotional page as well as by downloading YOUVERSION in your mobile APP store to get an electronic version of the Bible on your mobile device to carry with you everywhere you go!