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5/21/17 Sermon Questions

TABITHA:  Abigail – Week 5

1 Samuel 25:1-39

Life Group Questions:

  • As a group, please take time to read the text aloud together.
  • What surprised you about this portion of Scripture? What stood out to you? What did you learn?
  • Have you ever had anyone talk you out of making a foolish decision, as Abigail did for David? What happened?
  • Why do you think God included this particular story into His Word?
  • What kind of people do you allow to speak into your life?
  • How can we pray for you this week?

 Sermon Scripture:

1 Samuel 25:1-39

1 Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. Then David moved down into the Desert of Paran. A certain man in Maon, who had property there at Carmel, was very wealthy. He had a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, which he was shearing in Carmel. His name was Nabal and his wife’s name was Abigail. She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite.While David was in the wilderness, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. So he sent ten young men and said to them, “Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! “‘Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my men, since we come at a festive time. Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.’” When David’s men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David’s name. Then they waited. 10 Nabal answered David’s servants, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. 11 Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” 12 David’s men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word. 13 David said to his men, “Each of you strap on your sword!” So they did, and David strapped his on as well. About four hundred men went up with David, while two hundred stayed with the supplies. 14 One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.” 18 Abigail acted quickly. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, five seahs of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. 19 Then she told her servants, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.” But she did not tell her husband Nabal. 20 As she came riding her donkey into a mountain ravine, there were David and his men descending toward her, and she met them. 21 David had just said, “It’s been useless—all my watching over this fellow’s property in the wilderness so that nothing of his was missing. He has paid me back evil for good. 22 May God deal with David, be it ever so severely, if by morning I leave alive one male of all who belong to him!” 23 When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground. 24 She fell at his feet and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say.25 Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him. And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. 26 And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal. 27 And let this gift, which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you. 28 “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live. 29 Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life, the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling. 30 When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel,31 my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.” 32 David said to Abigail, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. 33 May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.34 Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.” 35 Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, “Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.” 36 When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing at all until daybreak. 37 Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. 38 About ten days later, the Lord struck Nabal and he died.39 When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head.” Then David sent word to Abigail, asking her to become his wife.

 

TWO INTELLIGENT TRUTHS FROM ABIGAIL:

  1. WISDOM SPEAKS TO THE FOOLISHNESS IN OTHERS. (1 Samuel 25:14-19)
  2. HUMILITY CAN BRING OUT THE GREATNESS OF OTHERS. (1 Samuel 25:20-35)
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5/14/17 Sermon Questions

TABITHA: Deborah – Week 4

Judges 4:1-16

 Life Group Questions:

  • What lesson has your mom taught you that you will never forget?
  • Share some ways our society does, “what is right in their own eyes.”
  • Have you noticed at times in your life that you’ve had to in effect hold the hands of those that you’re leading, raising, come along beside?
  • When was the last time that you essentially dropped what you were doing and grabbed someone by the hand and entered into battle with them?
  • Who needs you to do that for them, like Deborah did for Barak?
  • How can we apply this passage about Deborah to our lives this week?

 

Sermon Scripture:

Judges 4:1-16

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, now that Ehud was dead.So the Lord sold them into the hands of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. Sisera, the commander of his army, was based in Harosheth Haggoyim.Because he had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, they cried to the Lord for help. Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time.She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: ‘Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them up to Mount Tabor. I will lead Sisera, the commander of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.’” Barak said to her, “If you go with me, I will go; but if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. 10 There Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali, and ten thousand men went up under his command. Deborah also went up with him. 11 Now Heber the Kenite had left the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ brother-in-law, and pitched his tent by the great tree in Zaanannim near Kedesh.12 When they told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor,13 Sisera summoned from Harosheth Haggoyim to the Kishon River all his men and his nine hundred chariots fitted with iron. 14 Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. 15 At Barak’s advance, the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and army by the sword, and Sisera got down from his chariot and fled on foot. 16 Barak pursued the chariots and army as far as Harosheth Haggoyim, and all Sisera’s troops fell by the sword; not a man was left.

 

 

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5/7/17 Sermon Questions

TABITHA SERIES: Hannah – Week 3

1 Samuel 1:1-28

Life Group Questions:

  1. What did you learn about God from Hannah’s story?
  2. What did you learn about prayer?
  3. Luke said, “Every follower of Christ can learn to pray in desperation by following four principles of Hannah’s life.” Principle number one is to identify the problem. What problem do you need to identify in your life?
  4. As a life group, take time right now to follow the four ways to pray from Hannah’s story. Have each of your group honestly present the problems they need to identify to God in prayer. Spend time as a group laying out God’s promises from Scripture and trust them! Spend time together praising God for who He is.

Sermon Scripture:

1) IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM. (1 Samuel 1:5-8)

But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” 1 Samuel 1:5-8

 

2) PRESENT IT IN PRAYER. (1 Samuel 1:9-18)

9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”  12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” 15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.   1 Samuel 1:9-18

 

3. TRUST IN GOD’S PROMISES. (1 Samuel 1:19-20)

19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”  1 Samuel 1:19-20

 

 4. REST YOUR SOUL IN PRAISE. (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.

“There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

“Do not keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.

“The bows of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.

“The Lord brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.

“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
on them he has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

“It is not by strength that one prevails;
10     those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.

“He will give strength to his king
and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
– 1 Samuel 2:1-10

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4/30/17 Sermon Questions

TABITHA SERIES:  Rahab – Week 2

Joshua 2:8-14

Life Group Questions:

  1. How has your past hindered you from the full life that Jesus wants you to have?
  1. How do we know Rahab’s faith was based on facts and not just feelings? Joshua 2:8-11
  1. Is it surprising to you that Rahab is listed in the passage of the heroes of our faith? Hebrews 11:31
  1. What attribute put her on that list? What does that say about what God values?
  1. Over the last two weeks we have discussed two women who have incredible redemption stories. How has God fueled your faith from the stories of Ruth and Rahab?

 

KEY THOUGHT:

RAHAB SURRENDERED HER PAST AND HER PRESENT TO THE ONE TRUE GOD THAT PROMISES TO REDEEM HER FUTURE.

Sermon Scripture:

Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. 12 “Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign 13 that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” 14 “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.” – Joshua 2:8-14

“31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. – Hebrews 11:31

 

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4/23/17 Sermon Questions

TABITHA SERIES:  Ruth – Week 1

Ruth 1:15-19 

Life Group Sermon Questions:

  • We all have a need for acceptance. From where does that need come?
  • Are there dangers associated with our need for acceptance?
  • Describe a time when you felt you needed to behave or dress differently, or even be different, to be accepted. Describe a time when you felt accepted.
  • Ruth was a Moabite. Naomi and Boaz were Israelites. What motivated Ruth’s loyalty and faithfulness to Naomi? What motivated Boaz’s kindness to Ruth? How did Ruth respond to Boaz’s kindness?
  • As Christ followers, what significance does our acceptance of others, or even acceptance of each other, play?
  • What is a Kinsman-Redeemer? What does that have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

 

Sermon Scripture:

Ruth 1:15-19

15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.” 16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. 19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

 Ruth 2:8-12

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

 Ruth 3:7-13

When Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he went over to lie down at the far end of the grain pile. Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down. In the middle of the night something startled the man; he turned—and there was a woman lying at his feet! “Who are you?” he asked. “I am your servant Ruth,” she said. “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer of our family.” 10 “The LORD bless you, my daughter,” he replied. “This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a kinsman-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your kinsman-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it. Lie here until morning.”

Ruth 4:13-17

13 So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” 16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

 

 

Defining Moments

4/16/2017 Sermon Questions

Sermon Questions 4/16/17

Defining Moments – Week 6

John 20:1-10


Review what exactly a “defining moment” is.

We know that just a couple of days prior to the events in John chapter 20, Peter blatantly and fearfully denied his Lord, after brashly proclaiming his loyalty, even to death. Pastor Luke discussed Peter’s likely emotional state early on that Sunday morning – before he saw the empty grave. What are some of the things Pastor Luke mentioned? How do you think that affected Peter’s experience that morning?

  • What is your response when you know or feel you have let Jesus down? What should it be?
  • What was Mary Magdalene’s initial response after her graveside experience? What was John’s?
  • What was Peter’s? Speculate as to what yours might have been.
  • What is the impact of the empty grave clothes not only being present but apparently neatly taken care of? (note: Lazarus still had his grave clothes on when Jesus raised him from the dead.)
  • Pastor Luke used the word, “GOSPEL” as an acronym. Do you remember for what each letter stood? Discuss the significance and helpfulness of this acronym.
  • Jesus Christ’s resurrection is the key to everything we as Christ followers believe (see 1Corinthians 15:14-19). What are the five eternally meaningful implications Pastor Luke spelled out based the truth of the resurrection?

John 20:1-10

Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together, and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own home. (NASB)

Contemporary Worship

We Bring Our Highest Praise

Something that has really sunk deep into my heart lately is the concept of us bringing God our highest praise. What that means to me is that no matter what I may feel or get out of it, I’m to give God my everything. This is because of how incredibly worthy and deserving our God is.   As human’s, we are very feeling driven. We desire to receive and to “feel the Spirit” as we worship God. That is a wonderful thing but I believe there is a danger when that is the driving force behind why we worship. Regardless of what we feel, we should humbly come before the King of Kings with a great offering of praise and worship on our lips. David sums it up so well in Psalm 145:3, “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.”  When we come before the Lord, let our hearts declare His glory. Let us not come with the attitude of selfishness, but with a posture of thankfulness, gratitude, praise and surrender. When we worship collectively and individually, let our anthem resound as it is so eloquently written in Psalm 100:4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.”  What I have come to find is that when I personally enter into worship and take this attitude with expectancy in my heart, God hears my cry. When we are willing to chase Him with reckless abandon, He will pick us up. He hears our prayers. He will not fail. He never does. With that in mind, let’s not be so concerned about what we are feeling when we worship. Let’s lift and turn our hands outward as a sign of surrender to Jesus Christ, the only one who can save us. The only one who is worthy and who deserves our highest praise. 

Savior King
By Nathan Fry

Let our hearts declare Your glory
Let our praise reach to Your throne
Here and now we have but one purpose
To lift the name of Jesus, our Savior King 

All praise to You who saved us
We cry to You, be lifted high
You alone have set us free
Savior King, oh Savior King

Our voices rise before Your presence
Declaring holy is Your name
Your kingdom here as is in heaven
We lift the name of Jesus, our Savior King

All praise to You who saved us
We cry to You, be lifted high
You alone have set us free
Savior King, oh Savior King

All the earth will know Your power
You reach the farthest heart
Oh, Savior our defender
Our strength is in Your arms
Oh, Jesus have Your kingdom
Oh, undefeated God
We stretch our arms toward heaven
Be praised Oh Matchless One

All praise to You who saved us
We cry to You, be lifted high
You alone have set us free
Savior King, oh Savior King

First Free Kids

Fragrance of His Family

By Jessi Uran

The other day as I was dropping my daughter off at the Mom’s Day Out program here at church, a dear mentor of mine saw me in the lobby and walked straight over to give me a hug. She asked how I was doing (how I was REALLY doing) and then told me specific ways that she would be praying for me that week.  It wasn’t until I walked out to my car after our interaction and headed off to work that I noticed something different about myself. I smelled incredible. I was even tempted to pull over and close my eyes to take it all in, I smelled THAT GOOD.

Maybe this has happened to you before? You embrace someone, maybe your mom, or the love of your life, and whatever perfume or cologne they were wearing at the time rubbed off on you and you could smell it the rest of the day?

Here’s the thing. Something else rubbed off on me that morning too. You see, this particular woman is one of those people you walk away from and because they know the Lord and walk with Him so closely, you feel like you’ve been in the presence of Jesus. It may seem small, but the Holy Spirit really used that lingering aroma from her perfume to teach me something. He used it to tell me, “Jessi, my sweet daughter, I want you to know me so well and to enjoy spending time with me so much that when people walk away from an interaction with you, no matter how great or how small, they can’t help but breathe in and notice my “scent”.

It’s the kind of thing that can’t be duplicated or created any other way than by simply being at His feet and delving into His Word. Here’s to a week of encouraging one another along the way as we seek to know Him and obey- offering up our lives as an aroma pleasing to our Lord.

 

 

Not My People

Editor’s Note: Since God truly is our “all in all” (Col. 3:11), He rightly has unfiltered access to all of who we are: the parts we’re happy to display, and the rest that we’d rather not.  This is the foundation of the relational intimacy for which we’ve been made; our Lord settles for nothing less than all of us.  We are made for Him, and He sets the standard.
Today’s blog post reminds us that there are times when Jesus must set Himself against our inclinations to wander, and this is for our good and His glory.

When I was in college, I volunteered as a Young Life leader. That meant I spent my afternoons driving to a local high school, only to awkwardly walk through the cafeteria, trying to befriend high school girls, and eventually, tell them about Jesus.

Every summer, we took hordes of high school students to a camp in Colorado, where we promised they’d have the “best week of their lives.” Midnight obstacle courses, pool parties, and delicious family-style meals were all punctuated by “club,” a gathering where we’d scream songs at the top of our lungs, and then later quiet down and listen to a speaker talk about God and this man called Jesus. About three days in, the speaker stopped talking about God and started talking about sin, something he told hundreds of teenagers they were powerless to fix.

That day was never fun. And neither is today’s passage from Hosea…    To read this post in its entirety, please go to the “She Reads Truth” website SHE READS TRUTH

Letter to our Daughter

by Jessi Uran

Summer 2016: A letter to our daughter drafted in light of the recent shootings and terrorist attacks throughout the world. It is our fervent prayer that when she is older and reads each line, that it will be through the lens of knowing Christ as her personal Savior.

My Sweet Girl,

In the face of death and evil, you may weep and feel fear rising in your chest like the swell of a great wave…

Remember that it is God’s Word that gives us strength. Your body may be hurt, or sick, or hungry, and you may see horrific loss; but if you are a child of God, having proclaimed your need for forgiveness of sins and placing Christ on the throne of your heart, no one can claim your soul The Spirit alive and living inside you is the same Spirit that holds the world together and who gives breath and life and meaning. You are different. The world fears most things, but you fear nothing. Fear is not in our redeemed and sanctified DNA. Every piece of armor you could ever need on this earth to combat the enemy of your heart has already been given to you. It is the very armor of Christ Himself.

Boldness and strength, this is the character He calls you to. You are never alone. He is always with you. The wind and waves obey Him and He will make a way. He has done it for our family, and He did it for the Israelites. He will do it again. We do not cower in the face of death. Because if we die, we gain eternity. And if we live, we gain Christ Himself. This is your identity.

When a great shadow seems to hide His face, and you wonder what is to come of this world…

Remember that it is God’s creation that points to His sovereignty. He is on the throne, and we surround ourselves with His beauty even when the world seems ugly. It is in your bones to pursue distant lands and go on brave adventures. We fill deep the well of our souls with the works of His hands and all it has to offer. We watch sunsets and feel the salty mist of the sea on our skin. We inhale the smell of pines and listen to the loons at dusk. We venture out, and we are better for it. We love the earth and care for it, but not for the earth’s sake. We love it because of Who made it, and Who it reflects. When we see big things, it reminds us of our big God.

Every trip we take and every road we travel reiterates the boundless perfection of our Creator. He holds the balance. In Him, our tendons move and our lungs expand. Nothing exists and nothing is sustained without Him. You’ve seen this for yourself. You were kept safe, but you were not kept locked down. We do not live our lives in fearful retreat. We are cautious with what we see, what we read, what we hear, and with the friends we keep…but when it comes to this bright and shining world, we leave caution at the door and keep adding to our passports. This is your responsibility.

If you experience persecution or rage towards another threatens to consume every fiber of your being…

Remember it is Christ’s sacrifice that shows us true Love. None of us can claim righteousness. We are no different from our neighbor in our need for God. He is the true King who will bring forth justice at the right time. Talk of race, or gender, or beliefs may muddy the waters and cause us to lose focus; but we must always come back to our need for forgiveness and the privilege we have to forgive. If you know Jesus and His redeeming work, then you were drawn by His cords of loving kindness, and nothing else. Shame and judgment have no place in the way we interact with others or lead them to the Cross. We are not condemned; therefore, we do not condemn. His love for us is not contingent upon our love for Him; therefore, our love for others is not contingent upon their love for us.

How easy it is to care for a soul who is docile and grateful. That requires nothing. But we lace up our boots and care for the ones who may hurt us in their hurting. We don’t confuse our burden with our battle. Our burden is for the lost to come to saving knowledge of Who God is and what He did for them. Our battle is against spiritual forces that have nothing to do with our neighbor. Each immortal soul is to know your heavenly stamp of Christ through your love. This is your commission.

His Word, His World, and His Work on the cross. By these thing we are to wage our war. For darkness will never prevail where the True Light abides.

We love you always,

Mom and Dad