Listen To Dan’s interview with Josh from Sunday, October 8th:
[letter from Josh & Carley]
This morning, Carley and I announced to the church that we will be transitioning out of our role here at Trinity. At the end of January, we will be moving to Boise, Idaho where we will begin a yearlong church planter training residency with Trademark Church.
Church planting has always been near to my and Carley’s hearts. Our passion has only been increasing the more we have thought and prayed, and the more we grow in our understanding of the priority of missions. This, coupled with the desire to move west to be near family, has helped us to see this church planting residency as an incredible opportunity to prepare us for the future. The decision has been years in the making as we have sought the Lord and his leading as well as listened to wise counsel from trusted advisors. Obviously, a decision like this one is full of mixed emotions as we are sad to say goodbye to our church family here, yet excited to pursue the opportunity God has given us.
The obvious question in all this is: what will we be doing? In a nutshell, the next year will be spent working alongside Trademark Church as they provide us with training and practical experience in the area of church planting. Trademark Church is part of the Acts 29 Network, which is a church planting network dedicated to planting churches and training church planters, both locally and globally. It is their desire (and ours) to see the gospel impact cities around the world through the ministry of local churches. Over the next year we will be actively involved in discipleship, missional living, and investing in the local community as we seek to bring the gospel to bear on the lives of those living in Boise. The goal of this residency is to equip Carley and me to be involved in church planting, whether as a lead pastor or part of a planting team, in the western United States. You can find out more about Trademark Church here and the Acts 29 Network here.
There is still a lot that needs to fall into place over the next three months before we move. We are in need of financial support, prayer, jobs, and housing. If you are interested in partnering with us, there are two main ways you can do that.
There are many things we need prayer for, but a few of them are:
A place to live in Boise
Financial support raising
Strengthening of our marriage in the coming season of big transitions
Safety as we drive across the country in the middle of winter
Friendships and a welcoming community
For missional living to become more natural to us
Confirmation in how we are called to partner in church planting
As part of our residency we will need to raise financial support. If you would like to partner with us in this way, you can give through our church website. Click here to donate. (Select Church Planter Training – Boise)
We are so grateful for the part Trinity has played in our lives. Thank you for how you have supported us and provided a gracious place for me to grow as a pastor. The time we have been able to spend with your children has been particularly sweet and we will miss having active roles in their lives. Some of our best memories from the last 5+ years have been with them. We will miss you!
January 21st will be our last Sunday at Trinity. I will be preaching that morning and following the service there will be a small “going-away-party.” It would be wonderful to see you there.
Josh & Carley Hibbard
Three Barriers to Obeying the Great Commission (and how to overcome them)
This past Sunday I challenged our church to be fully engaged in Jesus’ mission to make disciples and plant churches. But responding to the Great Commission is no easy task. Each day we are faced with our own insecurities, our own sin, our desire for comfort, and we dismiss the task at hand. As I was preparing for Sunday’s sermon, I thought of three different barriers we face that often keep us from making disciples. I want to take a moment to identify each of them and provide (what I hope to be) a helpful way forward.
We are not communing daily with Jesus.
I once heard a pastor say that most Christians are not eager to share their faith with others because their faith is comprised of something that happened 20 years ago and not something that is happening today. In other words, if our Christian life is built on attending church a few times a month and remembering a “salvation experience” we had in the past, we are not in communion with Jesus. If, when we talk about our faith, we are always recalling past experiences, rather than current ones, we are not in communion with Jesus daily.
To commune with Jesus daily we must establish regular rhythms in our lives where we are reading Scripture, gathering with our community groups, partaking in the sacraments (communion and baptism), sitting under the preaching of the word, spending time in private and corporate prayer, and being discipled by other Christians. It is through these every day rhythms that we are communing with Jesus and experience the vibrancy and joy of the Christian life. As we do this, we will be all the more eager to invite others into what God is doing among his people.
We love the suburban dream more than the kingdom of God.
While the suburbs may appear physically safe, if we are not careful they can suck the life out of our soul. Suburban culture has a way of lulling us into a dangerous apathy toward God and the life he has called us to as Christians. The typical suburbanite values (idolizes) comfort, money, college degrees, jobs, traveling-sports, cars, luxury, and security (safety) at the expense of everything else. As Christians who live within a suburban culture, we can all too easily walk this same path, completely unaware of what we are doing. We push our kids just as hard toward the aforementioned idols as our non-Christians neighbors do, subconsciously competing against (and keeping up with) them. We spend more time thinking about work than our families or our church. We spend our money, time, and resources the same way our neighbors do and it kills any motivation we may have to make disciples.
In order to live faithfully within our current context, we have to first repent of the way we have idolized school, sports, jobs, money, material possessions, etc., and receives God’s grace. Then, in response, we must begin to lay these idols down at the foot of the cross where we are then empowered by the Holy Spirit to go. If we continue to value comfort and security over the self-sacrificing-take-up-your-cross-daily lifestyle Jesus calls us to, we will never walk into the joy he has laid before us. Making disciples is not comfortable, it is not safe, and it won’t bring financial prosperity, but Jesus has called us to it, and we must joyfully obey.
We don’t feel equipped for the task.
It’s common to hear Christians confess they feel ill-equipped and unprepared to make disciples. On the one hand, I am grateful that Christians see disciple-making as something that requires training of some form or another. Jesus spent three years training his disciples to make more disciples. Christians should absolutely seek life-on-life training from an older and more seasoned Christian to aid them in the task of making disciples. However, on the other hand, we may have overcomplicated the task of making disciples. No one needs a seminary degree to make disciples. We do not need to have been Christians for three decades before we start making disciples. Jesus’ method for making disciples was messy, but simple. He invited others into his life and as he went about his business he showed them what disciple-making looked like.
If you are feeling unprepared or ill-equipped to make disciples I have three suggestions that I hope are helpful:
Find a mature Christian who is actively engaged in making disciples, and attach yourself to their hip (metaphorically, of course). Learn from them in real life situations and allow them to disciple you.
Become a student of the Bible. Being a disciple is committing oneself to learn from another. As Christians, we must be committed students of God’s Word: learning from it, memorizing it, living it, and allowing it to transform our entire life. As we do this, we invite others along to join us – this is discipleship.
Check out the resources at www.radical.net. (click on the “resources “ tab). This website is full of sermons, books, blogs, talks, and other means of teaching Christians how to make disciples.
Look into the lives of almost anyone living in the Chicago suburbs, and you see something they all have in common: busyness. A frantic life pace that runs from one thing to the next, often trying to balance the schedules of several kids, a dog, and household chores (not to mention work). Add to that the stress of thinking about the future, and you have a recipe for burnout.
This frantic life pace is no different for Christians. This pace of life leaves little to no room for us to engage in a fruitful walk with God outside of the hour or so we mark on our calendar each Sunday morning. In Scripture, we see that a faithful walk with God takes time. It takes time to pray, time to read, time to meditate on what we have read, and time to love and serve others. But time is not something we have much of because we’ve already filled it up with busyness. So, here is what I want to say… this summer – Pull back. Stop. Rest.
I, too, am busy, often. I overbook my schedule, commit to too many things, think I can handle more than I actually can, and then volunteer myself to do more. Several months ago I stopped and asked myself “What am I doing right now that is not commanded of me in Scripture?” In other words, how much of my life is spent doing things that God does not require of me? For example, I’m training for a marathon (this takes about 8 hours a week of training). This is a good thing, but God does not require me to do that. I’m working on my blog. Again, a good thing, but God has not required me to do that. We do a lot of things that God does not require of us, yet we tend to neglect the things he has required of us.
Jesus said, “…the Sabbath (rest) is made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” God has quite literally given us rest as something we should be doing. It is his gift to us because He knows we need it. We should not be working hard in order to rest, but rather, we should rest in order that we can work hard. We should work from rest, not for rest.
So, the good news is there are many things we can pull back from, maybe for a month or a whole season, in order to rest. Rest does not mean we cease all activity, but that we enter into a time where we acknowledge that God is in control. We acknowledge that our kids will still get into college if they skip one season of baseball or an after school club. We acknowledge that God is more concerned with our family’s well being than we are, and if He has called us to rest, then we can do it in faith knowing that He is in control.
If you’re feeling too busy, burnt out, stressed, or angry, it is likely time to pull back from the things you are involved in, specifically the ones God has not required of you, in order to be refreshed spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Take a few weeks, a month, a semester to pull back from some of your commitments (again, the things God has not required of you) and enter into a time of rest. Use this time to read God’s Word with more intentionality. Open a Bible commentary or theology book and drink deeply of God’s truth. Spend long periods of time in prayer. Invite your neighbors over for dinner and demonstrate to them a hospitality that comes from knowing God. Use a time of rest to show your kids what matters most in life – not their extracurricular activities, but what God has called us to do as Christians. Use a time of rest to show your spouse that they still matter to you. Use a time of rest to have your passions for God fanned into flame.
This summer, create space for rest. In Christ we are free to rest from our busyness and enjoy God.
When evangelicals are asked about what baptism is, a typical response goes something like, “baptism is a public declaration of my faith.” This is how I grew up understanding baptism, and from what I can tell, so did many others.
Although the New Testament does not quiet put it like this, the previous answer is not inherently wrong. I think the general idea of a “public declaration” can be drawn from several of the passages in Acts which describe particular baptisms, but at the same time we must draw attention to the fact that baptism is so much more than this. If baptism were only a public declaration of our faith, then why must we use water? Why must one be completely submerged? And why must baptism be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Surely there must be an easier way to publically declare our faith? The answers to the pervious questions lead us to acknowledge that baptism is incredibly symbolic, and as such, points to something much more significant than a public declaration. Baptism is symbolic of our union with Christ. In other words, baptism is an outward symbol of an inward (spiritual reality).
Romans 6:3-5 is significant to our understanding of baptism when it says, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Here we see the key to understanding our baptism within the broader frame work of our salvation: our union with Christ.
When a Christian is baptized they are submerged in water. This submersion into water is symbolic of our participation in Jesus’ death and burial (Galatians 2:20). We are buried with him in his death. Then, as we rise from the water, it is symbolic of the reality that we too have been raised with Christ to newness of life (Colossians 3:1). Baptism is a symbol of our death to our old life and the beginning of our new life in Christ.
As we have the opportunity to witness several baptisms on Sunday, April 23, let us take that time to remember and celebrate our union with Christ.
With a baptism service coming up next month, I decided it would be unifying to bring the whole church up to speed on how we are approaching teaching on baptism. The next two months will highlight the class we are teaching to those who will be baptized, as well as a theology of baptism as seen through our union with Christ.
For those who desire to be baptized at Trinity, a short class must be taken in order to make sure baptism is properly understood. Tim Chester, a pastor in the UK, has written a wonderful booklet called “Preparing for Baptism” that we have chosen to use. In it, he details three things (signs) that baptism is and why they are significant. I hope you find these as encouraging and helpful as I have.
1. Baptism is a sign that we have a new hope. Mark 1:4-11
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus himself is our only hope of salvation from sin, in both life and death. Baptism is a sign of this new hope that we have in Jesus.
2. Baptism is a sign that we have a new family. Galatians 3:26-4:7
In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Through our union with Jesus, which comes about by faith and is symbolized in our baptism, we now have a new family. This family is made up of all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for their salvation.
3. Baptism is a sign that we have a new life. Romans 6:1-14
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Baptism is a sign that through faith in Jesus, we have died to sin (our old life) and been raised to a new life (a resurrection life) where we now become partakers in God’s act of recreation.
Having both grown up in the church, Carley and I were well aware of Jesus’ command to “go and make disciples,” better known as the Great Commission. As we grew up, we became accustomed to the Great Commission being attached to outreach programs, missionary stories, evangelistic events, and short term missions trips. All of this lead us to think of Jesus’ Great Commission as an event or program that the church did every so often.
When we left home for college, we both got involved in churches which placed an enormous emphasis on this idea of “living on mission.” These were phrases and ideas that were unfamiliar to us, but the basic principle was that, as Christians, we had been called by Jesus to radically reorient our lives around our identity as his disciples and the mission he had given us (to make disciples). We slowly came to realize that the Great Commission was not only something for missionaries, or pastors, or the super Christians, and that it was not an event or a program, but in fact it was a way of life. Being a Christian means that I reorient my entire life around my identity in Jesus and the mission he has given me. The everyday moments and rhythms of everyday life become opportunities for me to point others to Jesus.
When Carley and I moved into our apartment complex in June of 2015, we began to pray and ask that God would give us opportunities to meet our neighbors. It was no accident that we were here; we trusted that we were placed in this apartment by God for the purpose of loving our neighbors. Not long after we began to pray, we saw God creating opportunities for us to build relationships.
One neighbor (who we will call John) in particular I have gotten to know quite well over the past few months. Our friendship started last summer because he saw me walking to my car one day with a fishing rod. He asked me where I was going fishing and thirty minutes later we had exchanged names and begun building a relationship around a common interest. Over the next year we continued to talk whenever we would see each other outside. I make sure to ask him how he is doing (genuinely) and make sure to listen well. John and I have since been able to talk about work, church, family, sports, and of course, our fishing. I took a risk one day and invited John out to church. He was interested, but seeing as Sunday is his only day off it will be hard for him to make it as he needs to rest. Regardless if John makes it out to church or not, I must keep loving him the way Jesus has called me to.
It is my hope and prayer that God will use me to share the gospel with John. I have seen up close the brokenness in John’s life, his addictions, and sins. I long for him to be freed from these things; I pray that God saves John and begins to transform his life. I long to celebrate John’s life as a new creation in Christ.
The more I think about it, the less complex this whole “life on mission” thing is. It really is as simple as loving our neighbors.
Several years ago our church aligned itself with both The Gospel Coalition and 9Marks ministries. In light of Dan’s sermon this past Sunday, we wanted to take a moment to briefly explain who these ministries are and why we are aligned with them. 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 calls Christians away from associating with those who call themselves Christians but whose life and doctrine does not match the biblical gospel. In many ways over the past century, Christian churches and denominations have compromised on key biblical doctrines which have led to a complete departure from the gospel presented in Scripture. The pastors and elders of Trinity have a biblical mandate to uphold this gospel and protect the doctrine of the church. With that in mind, we wanted to take a moment to talk about two ministries which we have aligned ourselves with in an effort to protect the gospel in our church.
“The Gospel Coalition is a fellowship of evangelical churches in the Reformed tradition deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures. We have become deeply concerned about some movements within traditional evangelicalism that seem to be diminishing the church’s life and leading us away from our historic beliefs and practices. On the one hand, we are troubled by the idolatry of personal consumerism and the politicization of faith; on the other hand, we are distressed by the unchallenged acceptance of theological and moral relativism. These movements have led to the easy abandonment of both biblical truth and the transformed living mandated by our historic faith. We not only hear of these influences, we see their effects. We have committed ourselves to invigorating churches with new hope and compelling joy based on the promises received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” (thegospelcoalition.org)
As a church, we are committed to communicating the gospel faithfully and making it the central informing message of our congregation. We are grateful for our affiliation with the TGC and the theological support they provide. We encourage all in our congregation to visit their website.
“9Marks does everything we can to help pastors, future pastors, and church members see what a biblical church looks like, and to take practical steps for becoming one” (9marks.org) There are nine marks of a healthy church which are promoted by 9Marks Ministries and affirmed by us here at Trinity. These nine marks are foundational to healthy church life.
A Biblical Understanding of Conversion
A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism
A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership
Biblical Church Discipline
A Concern for Discipleship and Growth
Biblical Church Leadership
As a church, we will continue to uphold these 9Marks and align ourselves with this biblical understanding of the life of a local church.
As an independent, non-denominational church we recognize the importance of aligning ourselves with like-minded ministries (in this case TGC and 9Marks) who serve to keep us grounded in the essentials of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as a biblical understanding of the local church.
Our alignment with both of these ministries also allows visitors to get a better understanding of who we are, what we believe, and how we function as a church. Our church’s information can be found on both the TGCs and 9Marks website. We have had several families over the years join us because of our affiliation with these ministries and hope to see more in the future.
As we move forward with our mission here at Trinity, we desire to keep the gospel of Jesus Christ central to everything we do. Please, join our pastors and elders in prayer that God would, by his grace, preserve the true gospel in our church and transform lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
A seasoned preacher by the name of Tim Keller (you may have heard of him) once quipped to a room full of preachers “your first two hundred sermons, no matter what you do, are going to be terrible.” That may be enough to discourage a young man away from preaching, or it may just be the motivation he needs to put in the years of hard work. I am not sure the exact number of sermons I have preached over the years, but it can’t be more than 30. So, according to Tim Keller, I still have a long way to go.
I can still remember the first sermon I preached here at TCC. Countless hours went into preparation, and many (many) less into sleep. That morning my mouth was dry and my heart was racing. I was unable to eat anything for breakfast and I know there were two thousand people in the sanctuary. I essentially read my entire sermon from my manuscript, afraid to move away from it lest I say something heretical or foolish.
Being a young preacher is an experience that is hard to put into words. It’s an exciting time, but also a time that requires a deep willingness to learn and to fail. It’s odd to think of failing as something we must be willing to do, but preaching is hard work and it is often small (and big) failures (a better word may be mistakes) that can be our greatest teachers.
One of the most helpful things for me as a young preacher has been to be a part of a “preaching group”. There’s a group of six of us who are a part of the preaching rotation at our church and we meet every few months to discuss our previous sermons and offer encouragement, as well as plenty of constructive criticism. The constructive criticism that I have received during these meetings has been, by far, the most humbling, yet beneficial, experience I have had.
Also, in preparation for each of my sermons I sit down with one or two people the week before to discuss how I plan to preach the text and ask for advice. Not one of my sermons has been a solo effort, but rather a collaborative one. This process helps to ensure that I am not only teaching the text correctly, but that I am able to speak to as broad an audience as possible.
As a young preacher it can be easy to think of these early sermons simply as “practice”. Simply as a time of preparation before the real work of ministry begins when (if) God calls me to be a lead pastor elsewhere. But this is a mindset that must be fought and stomped out. The pulpit is not a place for practice, it is the place for ministry. A young preacher may lack certain experience, but so do rookies stepping into the batter box for the first time. That rookie is no longer practicing, he is performing his duty. A classroom at a seminary or Bible college is a great place to practice preaching, or even on the Saturday afternoon before you preach, but not Sunday morning. Sunday morning is the time and place to preach all that the Holy Spirit has lead you to preach; it’s the “big leagues”.
One thing that the Lord has confirmed during the past year or so has been my calling to pastoral ministry. Upon starting seminary back in 2013 I quickly became wrapped up in the academic environment. And not that this is a bad thing, but what ended up happening was that my sermons began sounding more and more like lectures. I was more concerned with pointing out the little details of each nugget of theology contained in the text, rather then showing how that theology changes the way we live rightly before God. Upon God’s confirmation of my call to pastoral ministry, he also began to shape my sermons differently.
TCC has been a very safe place to grow as a young preacher. I know I’ve had sermons go poorly. I know I’ve said things I wouldn’t say again. But the people of TCC have been so loving and gracious towards me during this time. When people ask me about the church I am currently serving in, the first thing I talk about is how wonderful the people have been towards me as a young preacher. I am beyond grateful to our church for the encouragement, constructive criticism, and support you have shown to me.
Satisfaction– A word meaning, “the fulfillment or gratification of a desire, need, or appetite.”
Chasing satisfaction is exhausting. As soon as we find something that satisfies one of our desires it always seems as if something else comes along which causes us to lose satisfaction in the last thing. We then begin the process of searching for the “next best thing.” Once our clothes no longer satisfy, we get new ones. Once our favorite band no longer satisfies, we find a new one. Once a boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse no longer satisfies us, we get a new one. We keep chasing and chasing until we are brought to a place where we begin to question God’s goodness towards us, because there is nothing in our lives that is satisfying.
Christians will all confess that God is good, for the Bible confesses, “Oh, how abundant is your goodness…” (Psalm 31:19) However, when life’s circumstances seem to shift out of our favor and when nothing we do, purchase, own, or love seems to satisfy – we question God’s goodness towards us.
“Any Christian questioning God’s goodness towards them has not looked closely enough at the cross of Christ, for at the cross of Christ – God satisfied our deepest longings and desires.” This is the good news of the GOSPEL!
As humans, we are too easily satisfied in things less than God.
Too Easily Satisfied:
We search for satisfaction in so many things that do not matter, or in things that serve almost no purpose. We want to be satisfied with the way we look so we buy new clothes to try to satisfy that desire, but in a short time we will no longer be satisfied and will have to buy new ones (even when we don’t need them). Or we begin a new hobby; we play video games and seek out the newest technology; we seek out new romantic relationships, we seek out a new job and new friendships – all to meet the end goal of satisfaction. We say, “If only I could do ‘that’, or if only I could have ‘that’, then I would be satisfied.” Ask yourself, “What am I chasing after right now? Do I think that particular thing will satisfy?” Whatever that thing is, if it is not God, it will not satisfy.
I do not want to create a false dichotomy by making material possessions, hobbies, food, sex, or anything else seem meaningless (they are full of meaning because of God). However, I believe we can make the argument that everything in life serves this purpose – “to point beyond itself to the One who truly satisfies.”
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10, ESV)
When God gave us Jesus Christ He gave us the richest, most incredible gift imaginable! The illustration falls short of truly capturing the richness of all that God has done for us in Christ, but it is as if our dad gave us a brand new 2015 Ferrari and we say, “No thanks, I’ll take the used ‘94 Honda Accord…” In Jesus Christ, God has given us His: love, acceptance, forgiveness, eternal life, abundant blessings, reconciliation, redemption, adoption, family, AND HIMSELF; yet we are seeking satisfaction in something else!? It seems laughable, but yet on a daily basis we seek satisfaction in so many other things besides Jesus. Those things may satisfy a desire for a short time, but the things of this earth will NEVER fully satisfy the longings of the human heart.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew. 5:6)
The human heart longs for satisfaction, but will not find it in the things of this world. When we seek CHRIST’S righteousness, when HE is our end goal, when HE is the one we delight in, when we join HIM in HIS mission; when we enter into relationship with HIM – then we will be truly satisfied. Satisfaction is found only in the universe’s most supreme Being, not the things which point us towards Him.
Last week we read in Jonah chapter two a prayer (psalm) of thanksgiving. God had saved Jonah from certain death and while still in the belly of the great fish he turned to God and thanked him. At the end of my sermon I encouraged us to write our own psalm of thanksgiving to God for what he has done for us; particularly his saving grace in our lives. Below is my attempt at doing so.
I encourage you all to take a moment and write your own psalm to God. Take note of what God has done for you and praise Him! if you would like to share your psalm with the church, please email Betsy Andersen and she can publish it in an upcoming newsletter.
In sin did my mother conceive me, but by your grace I was born into one of your families.
I confessed your love for me as a young child; but strayed from your teachings.
Although I knew your teachings, they had not taken root. Though I knew your love, I failed to embrace it.
Lacking in wisdom I quickly became a fool; a tree planted by steams of water, I was not.
The desire for a life apart from you and your people.
Years passed as my way was established, but yours ignored.
My life drifting out to sea, away from your law.
My thoughts would never have wandered to you; I was the sovereign, I thought.
But you, you hurled a snow storm in my path. As white flakes fell to the ground I began to sense your presence like I had not in quite some time.
The flakes piled higher and we were snowed in.
Confronted by your grace and the love of your people; your Holy Spirit touched my soul.
Renewed from the inside out; my hard heart was broken and my thick head softened.
Lord you, you alone had saved me; united to your son.
Forever, Lord, I will praise your great name.
May you strengthen my faith so that I may honor you.
With a voice of thanksgiving I come into your courts with praise!