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gods at war – Week 1 follow up

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We started a brand new series this past week called gods at war. In this series, we are looking at the things that we look to for significance, purpose, and meaning as gods or idols that we allow to sit on the throne of our heart and to what we give our allegiance. If you missed part 1 of the series, you can listen to it HERE.

We laid some groundwork as we began to identify what idols are competing for our heart. To this end, I wanted to share some potential areas to look for the gods at war in our lives. Much of what I am about to share comes from a book by Kyle Idleman by the same name – gods at war.

Read Joshua 24:14-15

According to the 4 options that Joshua gives for us to choose to worship, we must look at…

Our PARENTS – “the gods your fathers (and mothers) served beyond the Euphrates River”

There is no doubt that spending around 2 decades in close proximity to our parents will tend to influence and shape us. What/who did your parents worship? Was your dad’s career the most important thing? Did it determine his mood? Are you now tending towards those same things? Did your mom seem to obsess over appearances – everything had to be right, nothing out of place?As a result, have you followed in their footsteps and find your identity and worth in what other people think of you?

Did your dad worship sports…sex…money…status…beer?
Did your mom worship shopping…career…children…entertainment?

Think about what was held up for you in your home.
The most natural path in the world is to adopt the gods of our parents. If you have chosen to worship God, how much of that is your parents’ decision and how much is  your own?

Our PAST – “the gods your ancestors served in Egypt…”

These represent the gods from our past that have never went away. Do you ever find yourself struggling with things from the past that you thought you had left behind a while ago? Maybe you’ve invited the Lord into your life, but you’re still paying attention to the old gods. Perhaps when we meet Christ, the old gods fall silent for a while. But they regroup. They want to rule our hearts again.

So even if you have chosen the Lord in the past, the challenge is for us to “choose this day whom we will serve.”

What do you need to leave behind in order to follow Jesus more completely?

Our PRESENT (culture) – “the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live…”

Now I am not here to bad mouth culture because God has placed us here in this culture. However, He still requires complete allegiance to Him despite what the culture might be doing all around us right now. We live in a culture where diversity prevails – many groups…many different gods.

The list of things begging for our allegiance and devotion (making promises of significance that they cannot keep) are many. Two significant factors that consistently determine which gods win the war of our heart are time and place. Could it be that we have our own idols that are hiding in plain sight? Maybe they are so common in our culture that we have slowly adopted them as the new normal?

Think about what is held up and pursued in most TV shows, movies, or songs. What are the gods that our culture glorifies and honors?

Our PRIZE – God Himself – “but as for me and my family, we will choose the LORD…”

It is my prayer that this series will show us that this is the only real option – that all of the other gods waging war for our heart look promising, but they do nothing to satisfy our thirst.

Reflect on what a relationship with God has brought into your life. Now compare what the other gods have brought into your life.

It is time for us to start calling these gods’ bluff. What have they really done for us? If anything, they have enslaved us…robbed us…disappointed us.

Read Psalm 86:8

I hope that you will start to identify the gods that are at war for your heart right now. Maybe they are from our PARENTS, our PAST, or our PRESENT, but I hope that we will choose the PRIZE and also say that “we will serve the LORD”.

I believe that it will be of great value if you can join us on this 6 week journey. We will be doing messages on Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM and discussion groups on Wednesday nights at 7 PM. We will give you some great tools to help you defeat the gods at war for your heart.

DIG DOWN DEEP

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Hey everyone!

Man is it cold out there! I hope you’re staying warm. Let’s think of those who have no shelter and ask God to use us to change their situation as we have opportunity.

On Sunday, January 19, we had a message entitled Dig Down Deep. In it, we were challenged to pursue peace in the situations that we find ourselves in our normal flow of life – yes, even with the difficult people. I would say especially with the difficult people. If you weren’t able to be here and hear this message, I would challenge you to listen to it here.

We mentioned that our pursuing peace with difficult people is one of the things that separates us from our culture and world. Our culture and sinful nature will tell us that we should retaliate when we have some wrong done against us. Today, I want to challenge that thought process with the words of Jesus.

Read Luke 6:27-35

I want to highlight some key phrases in this passage as Jesus is challenging His followers to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world by pursuing peace with those who have done wrong against us. We must dig down deep for this to happen. It does not come natural for us which is why Jesus says…

“to those who are willing to listen” – not everyone is…are you?

“love your enemies…do good to those who hate you…bless those who curse you…pray for those who hurt you” – Are you still willing to listen? Some are not, but this is what Jesus says is one of the ways that we can show that Christ is in us.

“If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other also” – This is implying that what they do to you is going to hurt. It is not enough to pursue peace with those who have never hurt us. Anyone can do that.

“If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also” – This is where we are encouraged to shock them with our peace pursuit. We are generous with peace because God was generous in providing a way for peace between us and Him.

“do to others as you would like them to do to you.” – Jesus said this long before your momma!

Then Jesus moves to the punchline…
How does doing good to others who do good to us separate us from what a non-Christ follower would do? We are challenged to dig down deep and go BEYOND what the world would see as normal.

But why? Why would we do such a thing?

“then your reward from heaven will be very great” – Do you prefer to win the battle with the difficult person OR win the blessings that come from choosing God’s radical way?

“and you will be truly acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked (difficult people)” – When we DIG DOWN DEEP and pursue peace rather than digging in and retaliating, we are reflecting the heart of the merciful God and how he has responded to us.

How can we accept that grace and mercy and love and then turn around and not extend it to the people around us – especially the difficult people?

​It’s time to DIG DOWN DEEP and pursue peace.

Romans 12:17 – “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”

Focus IN

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Focus In

Hey Northline!

I hope you were able to go through the email that I sent out earlier this week called Focus UP. In it, we were challenged to develop a focus to grow our relationship with God – not out of obligation, but out of opportunity. There is a song that captures the way in which we can continually focus UP this year…here it is.

Today, I want to move to the 2nd area of focus that I had mentioned which is to Focus IN. By this I mean to set goals/resolutions that will focus on the changes that need to happen in your personal life. This might be in relation to your health, attitudes, job performance, family dynamics, emotions, etc.

Thinking back to Sunday’s message, we must take all of our goals through the process of Philippians 4:13 – personal desire (“I can do everything…”) – divine direction (“through Christ…”), divine dependence (“who gives me strength.”, and personal decision.

Begin this process by reading Psalm 139:23-24. Ok…now read it again. Ok…now in your own words, pray it back to God.

This will put you in a good position to see the areas of your life where you need to Focus IN. After coming up with some areas of change that need to happen IN you, take those things through the process of Philippians 4:13 by asking the following questions…

  • Is this something that I really want/need for my life? (“I can if I want” – personal desire)
  • Is this something that God desires for my life? (“I can if God wants” – divine direction)
  • Will I need to rely on God’s strength to accomplish this? (“I can if I rely on Christ” – divine dependence)
  • Will I move now…how? (“I can if I move now” – personal decision)

This is not a scenario where you pick one question or a couple of questions to see if it fits. If I am going to see changes in my life in 2014, then I need to take my goals and resolutions through the lens of all 4 of these questions.

Is it something I want…like really want?

Is it something God wants…does Scripture show God’s heart for this area?

Does it require my dependence on God…or could I do this without His help?

What will I do to move now…what small, simple step will I take today?

We will see that 2014 can be a year of tremendous change in our lives if we will Focus IN.

And remember…you can through Christ!

Focus UP

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Hey everyone!

Man I feel worn out and almost thawed out from the craziness that we experienced this week with the weather.

As promised, I wanted to follow up this past Sunday’s message with a series of emails that will help us to take the message into action. If you were unable to be there and would like to listen, you can go here and listen to the message titled “Beyond Wishful Thinking.”

As the first service in 2014, I wanted to spend some time talking about what we can accomplish this year. We looked at Philippians 4:13 and learned the true meaning of this verse. We must remove the word “can’t” from our vocabulary if we are going to have a year of life-changing impact.

We closed the message by challenging us to focus our “I can through Christ” in 3 different directions – up, in, and out. Today, I want to challenge you in this idea of Focus UP.

Read Psalm 42:1-6Psalm 63: 1-8John 4:10-14, and John 6:35, 47-51.

In these verses, you will see a theme develop. Do you notice what it is?

It is using the analogy of our relationship UP with God is as necessary as food and drink for our bodies. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if that is how you view your relationship with God?

What a tremendous opportunity that we have to be in a relationship with God! Yet for many of us, this opportunity feels more like an obligation. Yet, we probably eat and drink and don’t view it as an obligation. “Well I guess I have to eat again. I better force myself to get this drink of water. What a drag!” If you are anything like me, you view eating and drinking as an opportunity – most often it is an opportunity of great joy.

SO when you read these verses of hungering and thirsting after God, read them in light of the opportunity that we have been given to know God and be known by Him. Why would we ever allow this opportunity to be viewed as an obligation?

As you focus UP and make some changes in your commitment and relationship to God, may they be changes that are driven out of opportunity and not out of obligation.

Here are some FOCUS UP questions to keep in front of you for 2014…

  • What does God want to do in your life in 2014?
  • What areas could you allow God to enter into in 2014?
  • What discipline do you have the opportunity to start as a way to connect with God more deeply and passionately?
  • Could this be a year where you FOCUS UP and connect with God so intimately that He becomes the most important person in your life?

As you reflect on these questions and FOCUS UP, it is my prayer that you will have an amazing year!

And I know… “you can through Christ”!

Pawns for the KING

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King vs Pawn

I hope you all had a great Christmas with your family and friends. What an honor to reflect our hearts towards the fact that God sent His Son to this earth to get messy so that we could have a relationship with Him. The lyrics to O Holy Night captures it beautifully…

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til HE appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope…
Let all within us praise His holy name!

We had an incredible day on Sunday as many people were here to be challenged by the reality of Christ’s birth. It is based in history and requires little faith. The faith comes in when we realize the significance of WHY Jesus came – to rescue us from the penalty of our sins. (If you missed the message, you can listen to it here.)

We mentioned that since Jesus is King, then we must be the pawns that are there to serve the King. This is clearly seen when God decided to entrust the lowly shepherds with the message of hope that He was sending to the world. Through the unmatched (Jesus), God invites the unexpected (shepherds…me…you) to experience the undeserved.

These shepherds were often looked down on in their society. They could not keep ceremonial laws, they moved often, and they weren’t allowed to testify in a court of law.

Two points stick out about the shepherds involvement in the account of the birth of Jesus.

These unexpected shepherds who experienced the undeserved were…

1. Genuinely changed by seeing Jesus (Luke 2:17-18)

Something happened in them that caused people to take notice. Before seeing Jesus, no one believes them about anything. After seeing Jesus and telling people all about it, people are amazed at what they are saying. God used the people no one would believe to be the 1st human witnesses to invite the unreached to believe that the long awaited Savior had come.

Now that’s pretty impressive! This is the power that God has to change a life. As pawns for the King, it is our job to get people in environments where they can see Jesus. Once this happens consistently, it is impossible for them to stay the same. Jesus changes lives!

2. Changed people that went back to same environment (Luke 2:20)

These shepherds returned to tending sheep. But they were different! Many people assume that when they are changed by God that all of their troubles and frustrations will automatically change as well. Instead what we see in the lives of the shepherds is that they “returned” – they went back to their same old job. However, there was a significant change. The change was in THEM not in their surroundings.

When we are made new by God, we still have the same family, job, relationships, struggles, etc. The difference is that we are different. We go back to our same old jobs, but as a brand new person. We go back to our same old families, but as a brand new person. We still have the same old struggles in life, but we approach them as a brand new person.

As we wrap up Christmas week and enjoy the fresh start that a new year brings, may we be mindful of the role that God has called us to play in His plan to reach the world with His love, grace, peace, and forgiveness. May we (like the shepherds) tell others about the hope that is found only in a relationship with God.

We are the unexpected that have experienced the undeserved and we have been forever changed by it. As a result, let all within us praise His holy name!

We are pawns for the King!

24 HOURS

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Hey Northline!

I don’t want to keep bugging you, but I don’t want this opportunity to pass by you.

You have 24 hours until our Christmas service. I hope that you have that as a “must experience” event on your calendar. We are concluding our series The Thrill of Hope and it will be a day that you will not soon forget.

I’m asking for your help in a couple of ways and you have 24 hours to complete this mission.

Get somebody here with you…
There is no greater gift that you could give someone this Christmas than an invitation to meet the Savior who changed the world. So whatever you have to do – call, email, text, Facebook message, all of the above – try to bring someone with you tomorrow.

Pray like crazy…
There is no way that we want to have a service that has been carefully planned and thought through but lacks the power of God. Will you please pray that God will move in a way that will increase our faith for the next time that we pray? That we will be so blown away by the way that He answered our prayers for the next 24 hours that all we can do is talk about how great He is.

This is your mission should you choose to accept it. You have 24 hours.

Let’s go!

Ryan

Christmas at Northline

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Hey everyone! I hope that you are not losing your mind with final arrangements as Christmas is quickly approaching.

With all of the stress that surrounds this holiday, we need some time to re-focus our hearts and minds to what really matters. THIS SUNDAY, December 22 at 10:30 AM, we will be having our Christmas service at Northline. We are wrapping up (unintended Christmas pun) our series called The Thrill of Hope. In this series, we have seen God’s plan to bring hope to us through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ.

I hope that you will make every effort to join us for this special day. I would challenge everyone to also invite someone to be here with you. We have several things planned that will make for an unforgettable day.

We hope to see you at Northline on Sunday at 10:30 AM! (earlier if you want some coffee and donuts)

Merry Christmas!

Ryan
Lead Pastor
Northline – a church where people matter
www.northlinechurch.com

P.S.
We will not be holding our Tuesday prayer meeting time or Midweek Motivation on Wednesday for the next 2 weeks (December 24/25 and December 31/January 1). Take this time to live and share your faith out with family and friends. It also presents a great opportunity to invest into those relationships and then invite them to Northline.

The Thrill of Hope – Your Story

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Jason and Mei

..’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth

God sent His Son so that you could become His child.
God sent a sinless baby to pave the way to adopt a sinful adult.
A Child was born so that you could be born again.

But what does “born again” mean? It sounds churchy and…weird. But it really is a beautiful concept.

Born again describes what happens to those who say YES to Jesus Christ as the way provided for us to be made right with God. We were born once into our biological family and we are now “born again” into the family of God like the picture of adoption. The adoption process is accompanied with layers of formalities, legal issues that must be observed, and transactional paperwork that must be completed. But at the heart of adoption is a relationship that forms between a parent and child.

I want to give us a few questions to think through in relation to last week’s message. If you missed it, you can listen to the December 15th message here.

Consider these questions…

People from ancient Roman cultures would wait to see how a person turned out before they adopted someone. Would you consider adopting a child if you knew that child would eventually grow up to disown you?

What does it mean to you that God desires to adopt you as a child of His?

Read Galatians 4:4-7. The term “Abba” is a very relational term that means dad or daddy. What other names do you use to address God in your prayers?

Do you struggle with self-worth? Do others around you struggle with self-worth? Does it make a difference now that you know how God views you? Would it make a difference if others knew how God views them?

We are no longer to look at God through the lens of what we’ve done, but who we are…a child of God. If you get a chance, read this story and watch the video at the bottom…

If you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior, that’s your story.
If you have not, it could be.
Because your adoption papers were signed the day Jesus died for your sins to redeem you from the consequences of being a lawbreaker. Now you have been invited to be His child. Your part is simply to say “YES.”

“YES, I believe that when Christ died for me, He paid for my sins. YES, I want to be adopted into the family of God. YES, I want to live for Jesus every day of my life.”

I hope this Christmas we will experience The Thrill of Hope that comes along with knowing that we are loved enough (failures and all) to be adopted by God through the sacrifice of His Son.

Join us for our Christmas service THIS SUNDAY, December 22 at 10:30 AM as we wrap up The Thrill of Hope Christmas series. Make sure to do everything you can to get some people here with you. It’s amazing what could happen if we would just extend an invitation.

See you soon…
Ryan

I’m on the Edge…

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[p]In Luke 6, Jesus teaches about His kingdom and what it looks like to live for His purposes rather than our own. HINT…many times it is the exact opposite of what is normal for us.[/p]

[p]He describes those He blesses as poor, hungry, crying, hated, excluded, mocked, and cursed. How many of us want a little bit of that? None of us, right? We all want to be rich, well fed, always happy, loved, included, praised, and blessed. This is why so many of us miss out on God’s best for our lives. We believe that all of the latter are signs of God’s blessings when really they are our feeble attempts at finding fulfillment.[/p]

[p]Jesus actually teaches us that we should be happy (leap for joy) with being poor, hungry, hated, etc. because our reward is not here, but awaiting us in heaven. He then adds the “Really Jesus?” list. He tells us to love and bless our enemies and to live generous (over the top) and forgiving lives. All of this is again motivated by what awaits us in heaven and not what it will bring us in this life. How can we call Him “Lord” and not do what He says? It is foolishness and will destroy us.[/p]

[p]So I am reading all of this and am on the edge of my seat. I am like, “Jesus this is what I desire…I want that for my life…it’s weird, but that’s what You’ve called us to.” I want to be that true follower (edge of my seat). Then I realized…if I am just on the edge of my seat, there is still personal security there. Jesus is asking us to abandon ourselves from what we think, feel, and believe is normal for what He says. In other words, Jesus doesn’t want us on the edge of our seat, He desires for us to fall off of our seat and trust that He and His ways will catch us and sustain us. That is what abandoned looks like. That is what a FULLY DEVOTED follower of Jesus Christ looks like.[/p] 

[p]It must start with one willing person. The goal, contrary to popular opinion, is to empty seats not fill them with people on the edge of their seat. Only then will we be the followers that Jesus desires. Maybe then those who have not yet begun a relationship with God will find substance behind our words![/p]

[p]In words – I want that…I’m on the edge of my seat.[/p]

[p]In actions – Let’s live it…let’s fall off of our seat and do what Jesus says we should do.[/p]

 

Again…again

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[p]Have you ever heard a child when they first learn to talk? It is quite entertaining to watch. One of my favorite phrases that a child says (in their own dialect) is “again”. It usually plays out like this…[/p]

[p]You do something that the child really enjoys like holding them and spinning them in circles. Their face looks terrified when you begin (which really entertains you). Then, when you set them down, they look up and say, “Again…again.”[/p]

[p]This is how I feel when it comes to Northline. We go on this whirlwind of an adventure to see what God is going to do next. This adventure is exhausting at times and seemingly spinning out of control at other times. However, we are left with the same words when it is all said and done, “Again…again.”[/p]

[p]We ask God to continue to work in us and through us as His church. We are on mission to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That mission is quite an adventure that we want everyone to get in on by exploring, experiencing, and expressing Jesus Christ.[/p]

[p]So as our prayer today is “again…again.”

God, will you continue to rock our world and bring people to faith in You?

Will you use us to show your love, grace, forgiveness, and hope to the world around us?

We have seen You do it and we, as Your children, are asking “again…again.”[/p]

23695 Northline Rd Taylor, MI 48180

734-287-3544