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Helping People Live for God
Our vision is more than just a statement… it’s a calling. It’s an exciting calling, full of hope and promise. He has called us to be a living church. The calling isn’t about a service or a building… it’s about a group of people seeking life in God and fellowship with one another. There is nothing greater than serving God! We are committed to helping people discover the joy that only comes from knowing God personally.
God and Gandalf
by Preston Horn on Apr 07, 2014
“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” Though he was talking about himself, I’ve been realizing that Gandalf was also explaining the timing of God. Often we create our own expectations of how God should deliver his answers. We ask God for things based on our own narrowly-focused perspective. We ask him to drop whatever he was doing before and help us NOW. And when God doesn’t deliver, we start questioning things. Is God real? Does he hear me? Does he care about me? Why is he letting this happen? God missed the deadline! I gave him clear instructions on my Santa-style wish list and he didn’t come through in time for Christmas! It turns out, though, that God is working on a much larger scale.
Have you ever seen a movie where the main character is acting shady and you start to think he’s bad? All along he was supposed to be good, but now he’s not acting the way we expect him to. Is he bad now? I think he’s bad now! But in the end it turns out, he wasn’t bad at all. He just had a grander plan than we knew about. He had a plan that he couldn’t unveil or make obvious because it would’ve changed the entire feel of the movie. The suspense, excitement and even overall outcome was hinged upon his actions being specific and intentional. That’s how God works! He’s God of the universe, thus he’s taking into account all of his children at the same time. He’s playing a master game of chess and knows where all the pieces are at all times. When he doesn’t deliver the answer in time, we’ve got to realize that WE’RE the ones who set the deadline. God doesn’t have much of a track record for being early. That would be imperfect and wasteful. And he’s definitely not late, that would be sloppy and not his style. God is on time. But he’s on HIS time. He DOES answer. He IS real. He DOES hear you. But He’s waiting for the perfect moment. The exact second for things to fall in place. He’s ready and willing to answer, but he does so like Gandalf. He arrives precisely when he means to.
The Home You Want
by Elisha Garcia on Mar 24, 2014
Being newly married I’ve learned a lot things. I’ve learned helping in home affairs are important. I’ve learned that life happens very quickly and any time together should be cherished. I’ve quickly learned the old adage that “a happy wife is a happy life.” Most importantly I’ve learned that I have the ability and the responsibility to create the home I want.
If I want to see more love in our home, I’m responsible to show more love. If I want to see help and support in our home, I have to be the first to give help and show support. More importantly, if I want to see more of God in our home I need to be chasing after and pursuing more of God. The level in which I pursue God will directly determine the level of God in which my home experiences.
As men, we’ve been given special charge to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” Eph. 5:25. This shows our huge role as a leader in the home. Christ gave unselfishly to the Church. With obedience and passion He gave his everything to what mattered most to Him. As a husband I must give unselfishly, with passion and obedience not only to God, but also to my wife and home. As a husband I must lead our home with integrity, love, and compassion.
Don’t let your life, family, or home end up somewhere on accident, but rather through a collection of intentional efforts and choices press towards the place God wants you to be. Whether it’s love, support, or more of God, you and I are absolutely involved in the equation of what our home looks like.
Husbands, be intentional in creating the home you want.
by Natalie Salinas on Mar 14, 2014
Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about having patience and reminding me that everything is in HIS timing. As a person who likes to thoroughly plan things out in her head and wants to know what is right around every corner, this time has been a challenge. As a woman, and now a mother, I am constantly fighting the need to always have everything under control. I am finding out that the more I give in to my need for control, the more I feel like my life gets out of control.
There have been several specific things that AJ and I have been in constant prayer for lately. Sometimes it feels like when you pray for something so hard and so often you can start to get God’s voice and your voice confused. Then I get concerned that I am not going to know or see when God begins to work in my situations. What never fails to amaze me is that when God finally answers your prayers or open a door, It is the most clear answer to me.
As much as this season has been a challenge, this has also been such a fulfilling time for my family and I. God has already began to work in our situations and show us his love and grace. He is NEVER late! With all this encouragement I am receiving from God in my family, I will continue reminding myself that He will not be late for Living Church. There is so much excitement in my heart to know that God chose you and I to be apart of His will for Living Church and the people of Mansfield. In my excitement, there is also uncertainty and an itch to be impatient.
In every area of my life, there have been a few verses that have given me peace and the patience I need so badly. One being Exodus 14:14 “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” So short and so simple, but also very powerful. As a person who likes to have control of everything, I find myself repeating that verse in my head to remind me that I don’t always have to do all the fighting; God I already working in my favor.
Have You Thought About Eternity Lately?
by Derek Guynes on Feb 25, 2014
There are a lot of words. There are a lot of human arguments. There is a lot of human wisdom. Probably more human foolishness. We get tied up in a lot of theological debate. There are a lot of questions. There are some answers. Probably more questions though. Some people aren’t satisfied with the answers. Some people don’t see enough evidence. Some people see more than enough evidence. Some people are offended. Some people get mad. Some people just stop trying. Some people repent and seek forgiveness. Some get distracted. Some get discouraged. Some people overcome. Some turn to the world. Some turn to God.
Everyone dies, though. Everyone will stand before God. And there will be no more arguing.
“In the end, there are really only two types of people: Those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” – C.S. Lewis
Hebrews 9:27 − 28: “And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.”
God, let us not lose our eager expectation of Christ’s return. Though the love of many grows cold, let our hearts burn with love for you, for your word, and your church. Come, Lord Jesus, come!
by Truston Baba on Feb 10, 2014
Lately I’ve found myself praying a lot more than usual. Instead of praying during a scheduled time during my day, I’ve been crying out to God all throughout the day. Crying out for him to move on our behalf, asking for direction, peace, and wisdom. I pray for him to speak though me before meetings or conversations I have. I think the reason I’ve been communicating with God so much more is because of how helpless I feel. In a few short months Living Church will have to move out of Aristide. That fact brings a lot of hurdles. Hurdles that myself and the team have been doing our best to jump, but many of them feel too high for us to successfully navigate on our own. So we have been calling out to God.
Anytime I attempt to tackle a home repair or improvement project that I’ve never attempted before I find myself calling my dad. I call him and ask what tools I need, what step to do first, how much material to buy, and if he even thinks I have the skills to pull it off. Over the phone, halfway across the country, he has always been able to guide me through the project. In the same way I call out to my earthly father for guidance I’ve been calling out to my Heavenly Father for guidance.
All this time I’ve spent praying, I’ve noticed something about my prayers. I categorize them by difficulty. Three categories really: 1. Easy 2. Challenging 3. Impossible. We regularly ask God for things we think are easy like “where are my keys?” or “Bless my food” or “Give me a good day” we know these kind of prayers aren’t really a big deal for God to do. Challenging things are what I go to God with the most. Things like “Help me make a little extra money” or “Help me write a good sermon” or “Give me confidence to be a witness.” We are always talking to God about challenging things. I call them challenging because they aren’t easy, but in our mind we can see how it could happen. We see options for God in how he could answer them.
But for the last few months I feel like I have been praying a lot of impossible prayers “God give us a building”, “God bring in 10 million dollars”, “God show me something I can’t see with my earthly eyes.” What I’ve learned about myself is that depending on what “category” I’m praying for determines my confidence and amount of faith. Now don’t get me wrong; I have faith, but there is a difference in how I pray. If I think something is easy, I pray it in full confidence. But if I think something is impossible, I pray as if I’m trapped in a corner. But the truth is all of our prayers are the same to God! The Bible says God is big, that He is Lord of the universe, that He is in heaven and does whatever pleases Him. Nothing is hard for God, nothing is challenging for God, and nothing is impossible for God. In our finite minds, there are categories, but for God all of our prayers fall under one category: EASY! If you were to ask me who I wanted to get in a fight with: a hamster or a pit bull? I would say a hamster. But if you were to ask a lion “hamster or pit bull” it wouldn’t care because they are both easy wins. To a little child, a three foot pool is deep, but to a six foot tall man it’s the shallow end. God is always in the shallow end when we pray. He is only fighting hamsters! There is no opponent that can match Him!
With this realization, my prayers have changed. All things are easy for God! So, God, bless us with a free building! Give us 10 million dollars! Open our eyes to see what can’t be seen! God, we are trusting in that what is impossible with us is possible with you!
That same truth goes for you in your health, marriage, finances… whatever! What is impossible for man is possible with God. The areas that are challenging for us to keep our head above water are nothing but the shallow end for God. He can do all things, and we can do all things in Him. So I’m ready to fight some hamsters!
Starting the Year Off Right
by Ana Horn on Jan 27, 2014
Over the past 3 weeks, LC has journeyed together by doing a fast, seeking the Lord for our own lives and the future of our church. Like almost every time I do a fast, I came out on the other side of it with answers to questions I wasn’t asking. God is so faithful in that He spoke to me about things that I needed to hear MORE than what I thought I needed to hear. Here are a few things He spoke to me that I hope can encourage you:
1. You cannot force the hand of God. I quickly felt rebuked at the beginning of this fast as I had developed a mindset of, “Ok, God, if I do this fast, then you HAVE to do _______ for me.” Even typing that out I realize how ridiculous it is, but it’s how I felt. God reminded me that I don’t give things up (whether for a fast or just choosing to grow my relationship with Him) just to get OTHER things. I give things up to get more of HIM. This fast helped me quiet many areas of my life so that I could clearly hear His voice again, and it refreshed me in more ways than any of the things I wanted could have.
2. It’s okay to hope. Like truly hope for the best. We all know the saying, “When it rains, it pours.” And after many seasons of that, God showed me that by default, I started to plan for the worst to happen so that I could be prepared. And while I felt that was being a good steward, He showed me that it had gradually caused me to stop hoping in Him. And because of that, I had lost a lot of joy and peace and found myself living with a lot of anxiety. God led me to Romans 15:3, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Now, I CHOOSE to hope in God when praying for situations and circumstances in my life. I choose to believe He is working things out even though I can’t see it.
3. Usually if you think you’re mature, you’re not. Ha! God reminded me that maturity is a process that happens throughout my entire life, not a single moment that I arrive to one day. Some times, I feel like I get faith. I get patience. I get grace. And actually, maybe I did for what that season of my life was. But then I find myself in a new season where I’m anxious or I feel like I’m not enough or impatient with circumstances and situations. And I realize I don’t get anything. And God has to work in me and teach me grace again. Patience again. Faith again. Just in a new way now. James 1 says, “But you must learn to endure everything, so that you will be completely mature and not lacking in anything.” Endure everything? Wow. That will definitely take me a lifetime, and I don’t have to stay frustrated with current circumstances because at the very least, its making me mature and more into the person God wants me to be.
If the fast ended and you feel you are still waiting for your answer or your relief or your new chapter to start, take heart. The fast wasn’t a waste. God, our Perfect Father, knows exactly what we need and when we need to hear it. And while it may not be what we want or expected, He is faithful. I’m so excited to see God move in my life this year, and can’t wait for the future of LC.
Some Assembly Required
by Timm Horton on Jan 13, 2014
This past Thanksgiving, Bethany and I had the privilege of announcing to our friends, family and Living Church that we were expecting the birth of our firstborn. This was a moment for both of us, and we were overwhelmed as everyone shared in our joy and excitement over the holiday season.
That may be putting it lightly.
I can’t remember a time in my life where I felt more lost, flustered and generally out of place then standing in the baby store trying to purchase a few gifts for my expectant wife. So many brands. So many accessories. So many colors. I found myself overwhelmed by things I didn’t know even existed. And it was in that moment that the feeling began to hit me. The realization that eventually cripples every expectant parent at some point in the pregnancy:
“I have no idea what I’m doing!”
The holidays were full with lots of love, and lots of presents for our baby. Recently, I took my first crack at assembling some of the various hardware that had been gifted to us. Overwhelming. The amount of nuts, bolts, screws, widgets and doo-dads needed to assemble a pack-n-play simply boggles the mind. In a moment of utter frustration, buried up to my neck in tools and instructions. My dad, in an attempt to calm my nerves, said something that I’ve been chewing on ever since:
“Everything you need is here. And when you need it…you’ll know.”
That simple statement has replayed in my mind over and over. As I begin to consider what it means to be a father, and the new role and skills that will be required of me, I take comfort in that advice. I can’t help but feel that maybe God has spoken that same advice to me more than once. In those times when I feel buried in my own inadequacy, and positively overwhelmed by life’s situations, I rest easier knowing that God has already equipped Bethany and I with everything we need. God has brought us to Living Church. He has surrounded us with a family who will love our family, and in the days when we feel overwhelmed by what we don’t know, it will be that family that steps in and helps us figure it out.
Let me encourage you to not miss a week of our brand new series, “All In.” And if you and your family are on the fence; maybe you’re considering LC as your new home, or you’re family is wondering how you can serve on a ministry team. Maybe you’re curious about which Life Group would be right for you or God has encouraged you in your level of giving:
“Everything you need is here. And when you need it…you’ll know.”
The 3 Prayers of A Family Leader
by Christian Conatser on Dec 30, 2013
Leadership can be an intimidating thing. Whether at work or in your church, it’s the reality that the buck stops with you that seems unnerving. In many places, the decision of whether or not to take on a leadership role is up to you, but when it comes to parenting, there is little choice in the matter. These little humans are looking to you for guidance, education, provision, emotional stability, spiritual development, relationship advice, instruction on hygiene, law-and-order, language formation, philosophical understanding…..whoa!
I’ve always been the type to jump at leadership challenges. Many of them have been extraordinarily tough, but none have made me step as carefully and pray as diligently as parental leadership. Never had so much been on the line as when I became a father.
In James 1:5, scripture instructs us to ask for wisdom:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God… and it will be given to him.”
Since becoming a father, God has led me to understand a few important truths:
They Are God’s… He Is The Leader; I Am His Steward
Yes, this is my wife, and yes, these are my children, but even more so, they are God’s. I have been given the honor and great responsibility of being a steward of His prized loved ones. The first, and greatest, of my responsibilities is to come to Him each day, in order to receive his instruction for the my family. In my prayers for wisdom, God has led me to pray for these 3 areas:
Direction: “Show me where to go!?”
Each day, even on the ordinary ones, I must pray for God’s direction. He knows all of the stuff that I do not. In the big decisions and the little decisions. If I do this consistently, then I can be confident that as I go through life making thousands of decisions, they have been guided by Him.
Provision: “Give me what I need!?”
In my short run as a husband and parent, I have already been broadsided by unexpected financial moves; good and bad. It is so important for me to be prepared for times of famine, as well as being prepared for unexpected flows of income that must be allocated correctly. I am frequently concerned about what the price of my child’s education will be over the next 25 years, and how much I’ll need for retirement. Do all of the necessary research, but keep praying to God to keep you in step with all that’s ahead.
Affection: “Help me love the right way!?”
No one, and I mean NO ONE, is as perfectly balanced in dealing with children as God is. Scripture shows us a gentle, gracious, loving Father who is both physically affectionate and verbally affirming. In Matthew 23:37, He expresses His desire to gather us up as a hen gathers up her brood under her wings; what a beautiful picture. On the other hand, Scripture shows us a heavy-handed disciplinarian, who is not afraid to dole out the punishment that is required to raise His children. In Proverbs 3:11-12, He reminds us that His discipline is given out of His great love for us.
Showing affection properly to our children can be a great parenting challenge. Am I hugging enough/too much? Am I spanking enough/too much? Am I saying I love you enough/too much? We need God’s help to do this well. God is love; He knows best how to parent a child in the completeness of love.
Each of these 3 areas can result in hours of prayer time, and it would be well-deserved, but most of the time, the prayer should look something like this…
“You are the Father of this home, and I am your servant.
I depend on you for direction; please show me where to lead.
I depend on you for provision; please help me manage finances well.
I depend on you for affection: help me to love my family as you have loved.”
by Dan Hunter on Dec 17, 2013
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Christmas is a celebration. Christmas brings joy. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is not Christmas because of gifts, lights, or carols. There is nothing wrong with all of that. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the fanfare of Christmas and forget what it is really all about. Christmas is Christmas because it is the birth of Jesus, who God sent to save His people from their sins. This is why we celebrate. This is what brings joy. This is why it is the most wonderful time of the year.
Involvement Over Excellence
by Preston Horn on Dec 04, 2013
We can take a cue from Jesus that building a powerhouse team doesn’t require superstars or experts. In fact, Jesus went around and found some of the most unlikely dudes ever to be his teammates. He didn’t go and find the religious leaders or the sensational rabbis of his time. Instead, he snagged everyday guys and believed in them. He saw potential in training them and giving them ownership long before anyone would call them experts. The truth is that “experts” aren’t necessarily what you think they are. They’re not always people that went to school for a piece of paper that guarantees they’re an expert. In fact, I’ve found that becoming an expert is more commonly achieved in getting your hands dirty in that field long before ordering the textbook on Amazon. Some of the people I respect most in life never went to school for the things they do so well. That’s why I believe involvement trumps excellence. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s proven true for me. I’d rather have people thrown into a job without knowing much and letting them gain experience than waiting the amount of time required for them to become an expert. And don’t get me wrong, excellence isn’t a throw-away detail to me. I passionately value excellence in everything I do. But, I believe that excellence can be achieved while simultaneously achieving knowledge. It’s only through hands-on experience that someone can truly understand a concept, otherwise it’s all just theory.
So I’ve made it my goal in ministry to incorporate and involve non-experts into positions and responsibilities while they learn. Yes, it’s hard to watch someone flounder when I could step in and do it myself. Yes, I could probably do it two times faster if they weren’t involved at all. But that’s only true for the short-run. In the long-run, I will have achieved a team of experts that produce quality results time after time. And it’s to that end that the means are justified. The famous anecdote “one step backwards, two steps forwards” is a perfect example of this mentality. And when that second step forward is achieved, I may have just worked myself out of a job. Which seems exactly like what Jesus had planned for his disciples all along. Involvement over excellence eventually produces excellence.