The CHOICE of JOY…

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 NLT

Did you know that JOY is a choice? Not that superficial surface happiness that finds it’s hope in the stuff of life. I’m talking the real, down deep “I’m-going-to-smile-and-not-give-up” sort of attitude that mirrors our Jesus and then we see in the life of the Apostle Paul. We know that Jesus endured the pain of the cross yet chose to to love and complete what his Father had sent him out to do despite his pain. But this apostle who wrote a large portion of the New Testament faced some tough circumstances, too! Paul describes some of his day to day life in 2 Corinthians…

“I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 NLT

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Talk about struggles, this guy faced them, right? Life seemed to blow a heavy headwind his way with each turn. And, we know that he writes the book of Philippians, where he is imprisoned under house arrest, to encourage our hearts. JOY was a definite choice for this man. Whether its stubbing your toe or a life altering event…CHOOSE JOY. Make that choice to focus your heart on Jesus and see the good that is happening in you even amidst the bad all around. Make it a part of your daily routine to choose JOY. Right now, think of FIVE quick things that you are grateful for. From family to the beauty all around us. See, just five small reflections can change your mood and mind immediately! 

Be Encouraged…

Pastor Mark

Read Philippians 4 for more JOY filled words…

 

Putting It Into Practice...

“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Philippians 4:9 NLT

Praying this over our staff, team and church today. Praying it over YOU, too. So challenged by keeping my focus on track and not going back to old patterns. How about you in the new season? What are you doing in your life to make a few changes? What are you putting into practice? Sometimes it’s just by sharing together what is happening in our lives that we can be inspired to take that new step. 

Putting into practice what God is challenging your heart with is what spiritual growth is all about...

Putting into practice what God is challenging your heart with is what spiritual growth is all about...

Here’s what’s been happening with me…I have been running consistently over the last few weeks. Trying to hit at least 2 miles a day. I am attempting to read the Bible in the Message version this year which has been really interesting reading even Old Testament passages out of such a modern translation. Taking lots of notes! Journaling lots of thoughts but trying most importantly to stay consistent. Books I am reading right now would be “The 4.8 Principle” by Tommy Newberry which I am encouraging our staff to read. I know you would benefit as well so order a copy if you want to go deeper in changing how you think. Also reading “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek, a book Kevin Balzer gave to me that I have to read in small bites because it’s so dense on learning to serve people you work with rather than just manage. 

How about you? Share an area or two you are being challenged and what you are doing about it with someone today? What are you currently reading or watching? What are you putting into “practice” on a daily basis to think more like Jesus, live stronger and more joy centered?

 

Be Encouraged, God is up to something new!

 

Pastor Mark

You Are What You Think...

“Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable.” Philippians 4:8 GWT

Today is a GREAT day to put into practice navigating your thoughts to think on the GOOD things in your life today. If you didn’t know it already, most human beings can create up to 50,000 thoughts a day!  That’s a whole lot of thinking on on, right? From the moment your feet hit the floor in the morning until your head hits the pillow and even beyond that your brain never stops. 

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So, would you say the sum of those thoughts move you forward on a daily basis, pull you back or leave you right where you are? Focusing to think on the things the Apostle Paul encourages us to focus on can mark a season of change for you, for me like never before. Is there a thought pattern, a negative mindset that you have allowed to become part of your daily routine that you could uproot today? Keep fighting for the thoughts the Apostle Paul encourages us to resonate on. We are what we THINK! What an awesome time in the year to make some practical changes to those 50,000 thoughts! Where do you start? With that next thought…

Be Encouraged.

Pastor Mark

The Open Pages of 2018

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Just wanted to encourage you both. 2017 was no doubt an awesome year of growth for you whether you can see it or not. The victories, the challenges, things you overcame and even things you still struggle with. There is no perfect year but if we can see change in different places. Hope in areas where there was no hope before. Grace where we hadn’t given…if we can see something moving in a better direction than we can see growth. Take a moment to reflect on areas of growth for you in 2017. Over the next few days allow your mind to sift back through the year.

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So, 2018 is like an uncharted sea.  A blank canvas. An empty notebook. What do you see? What will be written? Jump into it fearlessly stepping ahead being led by God like never before. Brenda and I love you both and believe in the power of your life. May you know Jesus more like never before…

Be Encouraged…

Pastor Mark

What Word Describes...YOU?

19 Joseph was her promised husband. He was a good man and did not want to make it hard for Mary in front of people. He thought it would be good to break the promised marriage without people knowing it. 20 While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She is to become a mother by the Holy Spirit. 21 A Son will be born to her. You will give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from the punishment of their sins.”

22 This happened as the Lord said it would happen through the early preacher. 23 He said, “The young woman, who has never had a man, will give birth to a Son. They will give Him the name Immanuel. This means God with us.” 24 Joseph awoke from his sleep. He did what the angel of the Lord told him to do. He took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have her, as a husband has a wife, until she gave birth to a Son. Joseph gave Him the name Jesus.

Matthew 1:19-25 NLT

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Still reading through these handful of verses. So much depth in between the lines. Mainly describing Joseph and his plight. One word seems to define and describe him: OBEDIENCE. Whether he was wanting to protect Mary’s reputation or follow what he had heard in his dream…he followed with complete obedience. 

What word describes my life, your life? My decisions, your decisions? What would God’s word describe about me? Take a few minutes to think about that. Try to major on the good words, the “what God sees in you” words rather than what you don’t see. Even if the negative crowds the good words out decide to re-define how you see yourself by looking at your life through God’s. He sees the weaknesses, but he also has determined to believe in the STRENGTHS. He is our God of the impossible (Luke 1:37). 

Be Encouraged, 

PMark

Every Name...

“This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:”Matthew 1:1 NLT

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Reading through verses 1-17 of Matthew chapter 1... lots of names. Lots. Usually I skip over them... sort of mumbling their names and reading fast when I read that portion out loud. I recognize a few...but mostly none. Today, I am reading slower. Saying each name out loud. I am reminded that each name listed...each family...each man and wife...each child...all used to carry the lineage of bringing Christ into our world. All were a flicker of light that would reveal a raging fire in the bright light of our Savior to come. Jeconiah. Sheltiel. Zerubabel. Azor. Eliud. David! All men who lived, breathed, sinned. All men who also felt the power of God to help them overcome the trials and temptations. All worthy to be listed in God’s Word. Just human beings…like you, like me. 

And, it helps me realize that there is no perfect life... EXCEPT one. 

 

The Son.

14 generations of faulty humans.

14 generations of struggles and temptations and trials.

14 generations of preparation.

God finds us in our mess and if we are willing… he uses us to do something impossible.

Turning beauty from ashes.

Building towers from ruin. 

Growing righteous oaks from the hard, crusty, dry soil.

He can use us…

Like Mary.

Like Joseph.

All we have to be is willing. Broken. Surrendered. Amidst our imperfection our heavenly Father finds a way to bring hope through us. Turning our weaknesses into amazing strength.

Be Encouraged...come home to Jesus in your heart the Christmas. 

P. Mark 

Season of Gratitude...

GOD smelled the sweet fragrance and thought to himself, “I’ll never again curse the ground because of people. I know they have this bent toward evil from an early age, but I’ll never again kill off everything living as I’ve just done. For as long as Earth lasts, planting and harvest, cold and heat, Summer and winter, day and night will never stop.”Genesis 8:21-22 MSG

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Seasons are a common grace for this world. A glimpse of the heart of God who makes all things new. We know that delays are always God’s kindness toward us. That growth comes from the death of a seed. That it takes trees years and years to grow. That a set of leaves falling off every year allows for hope to show up in a fresh way. Notice the season you’re in. Feel the ache of change? The painfully slow waiting? Praise God that He is preparing you to experience His mercies in a new and fresh way. Praise God that He’s following through with the promise He made to himself to allow seasons to complete a great work in you. Take a moment today to stop and pause and PRAISE GOD for something in your life that is in a season of change. Even if it’s painful, thank God for the change you are experiencing. Tell someone about it!

Be Encouraged...

Pastor Mark/Rachel Dishman

Seeing It Through Gratitude...

“Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.” Psalms 63:3-4 NLT

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God’s love and care for us surpasses the temporary circumstance of how it my feel times. Through surrounding our anxious thoughts in prayer we can find HOPE in our relationship with Jesus. Start to praise God for the answer to your prayers before you even see it. Your Gratitude Challenge today is to pray about something that is really heavy on your heart that you haven’t witnessed an answer for. Start to THANK GOD, yes…even PRAISE HIM for the outcome even though you can’t see it. 

Be Encouraged...

Pastor Mark