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Faith Despite the Flaws

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I love spring – birds singing, flowers growing, new life. But in reality, it’s not all beautiful. Think stubborn mounds of blackened snow, dirty streets, muddy shoes. It’s messy. And while Facebook would have us believe that life consists only of beautiful people, well-behaved children, and photo-worthy meals, we all know that there’s more to it. Real life is messy. Illness, conflict, uncertainty, betrayal. Even church can be messy, especially when growth and change and developing vision are part of it. HCC is blessed with all of this. A building under renovation, a wealth of different cultures and ideas from our church family, a search for how to be relevant to a world in need. Transition.

So how do we navigate through the mess? Author Mike Yaconelli had this to say, “Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality – not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives.” What freedom there is when perfection is not our goal. What relief there is in knowing that our God understands the struggles and walks through them with us. How amazing it is that his unconditional love never falters. How blessed we are to know that we can be confident of this “that he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

As we move forward in life and in church, amidst change and challenges, we can trust Jesus to lead us. Let’s be a family that lives out grace and forgiveness. Let’s commit to loving more and complaining less, even in the messy parts, and passionately seek God in everything we do.

Blessings, Cathy Little

The Impact of Obedience

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clay potsIn John 2:1-12 we read about a very special wedding that took place in Cana whereby we are presented the first recorded miracle attributed to Jesus. I would like to share some thoughts about this story that I found interesting from a recent devotional. Often, the focus of this story is found in verse 11 which reads “What Jesus did here in Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed His glory; and his disciples believed in him.”

However, after the wedding is over and everyone has gone home, it is interesting to ponder on who was the most impacted by this miracle. The guests were oblivious to what Jesus had done, they simply knew they had enjoyed an awesome celebration that uncommonly served the best wine of all at the end. Jesus’ mother and the disciples were definitely impacted. But the servants must have also been profoundly impacted. They had been given the opportunity to participate first hand in this miracle. Imagine the fear and trembling they must have felt as they approached the master of the banquet to taste the wine that they knew was just water they had drawn themselves. Then to see his reaction to the fact that it was the best wine of the event must have been life changing for them.

God often functions the same way today. He gives His servants the opportunity to participate in His Kingdom plan if we choose to get involved. The servants from this story displayed two very important characteristics. First of all, they followed Jesus’ instructions to the letter regardless of how difficult or ridiculous they seemed. Secondly they demonstrated tremendous faith in Jesus when asked to present themselves to the master of the banquet. The question is: are we willing today to exercise this same obedience and faith in our Christian walk? If so, we too will be given the opportunity to be involved first hand in God’s plan and see His glory on display. God is so good.

 

 

 

How to Turn Your Life Around

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mountain switchback photoFollowing Jesus is life-changing.  He turns your life around: from despair to hope; from loneliness to belonging; from restlessness to peace; from confusion to purpose; from fear to love. Ultimately, from death to life. Jesus says: “… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the ful” (John 10:10b).

Jesus’ invitation to an intimate relationship with him is clear: “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me”(Rev 3:20). Will you open the door to Him? You may be thinking that your life needs a turn around.  If so, opening the door to Jesus is the only true way to change.

Perhaps you have already experienced Jesus’ life-changing grace? I have. I was once, years ago, a desperate, lonely, confused wanderer until God got ahold of me, and I made the choice to surrender to Him. The mystery of His saving grace of salvation is a one-time event, but the abundant life he promises comes when we surrender daily to Him. Jesus doesn’t promise a trouble-free life, but he does promise to be with you through it all (John 16:33).   Someone has said: “it’s not enough to trust Jesus, you have to obey him too”.  We are reminded by Paul in Col 2:6: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him…”  Other translations say “walk in Him”.  The verb tense here is ‘present continuous’, meaning tokeep walkingdaily with Jesus – that’s the abundant life!

Perhaps you have a loved one who is not following Jesus? It aches to see them make bad decisions, when you know that God has created them for intimacy with him, along with all the benefits of a meaningful life.  Maybe you’ve had numerous conversations with them that appear to be going nowhere.  The good news is that the Lord “is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).  Keep praying that he/she opens to the door to Jesus’ knocking, and surrenders to the Only One who can turn your life around.

God bless,

Darren Bardati

Photo Credit – Tanner Larson

Renewing Our Minds

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“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2
Over the past several weeks I have put into practice a more specific way of reading the Word after being challenged by this verse.

I find we live in a culture where we become so easily swayed by the philosophies of the world, and that whoever has the best argument wins, yet that’s not the way we are to be. We are to find ourselves deeply rooted in Christ with an unshakable foundation. This takes time and practice. By approaching the Word of God in new ways, we may find ourselves challenged and growing in new ways as well.

For one season, I found myself focusing on a simple and short passage and meditating on it through prayer, while in another season I found myself drawn to read the letters of the Apostles in one sitting, reading them as a letter and not letting the chapters and verse numbers get in the way. Each new way implemented has given a new perspective and greater insight into different aspects of God nature, but the main goal here is to renew our minds. The more we invest in searching His precepts out, the more we will discover the depths of His truth. I have begun to dive into the Word in shorter spurts, more frequently throughout the day around a similar concept. This helps me to continue to renew my mind and give place to be challenged and changed by His Word and by His Spirit.

 

“If you want answers you’ve never had before, you need to pray prayers you never prayed before!” – Bunty Bunce (Global Missionary and Speaker)

 

In the same fashion, I believe that finding new ways to dive into the Word will provide new ways to see the nature of God and to understand His precepts!

 

Don’t just read the Word, let it renew your mind and change your way of thinking. Let it transform you from the inside out and create an unshakable foundation for your life in a world that gets shaken quite regularly.

Many Blessings

Hudson Taylor Wells

Community Pastor

A New Year’s Challenge

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Recently I was reading in Matthew about Jesus and his birth – and something struck a cord in my heart. In Matthew 2:1-2 it says:

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

The coming of Jesus was accompanied by some pretty amazing things, but one that still blows my mind is that God put a whole star in the sky to announce his birth to the world.

Imagine being a stargazer like the Magi.  One night, while tracking the stars – something changes… a completely new celestial body appears where it should not be. Something new. Something unknown.  Something impossible.

And then these wise men realize that this coming star announces the birth of a King. This was so remarkable that they decided to follow the star to Israel.

I think the part of this story that challenges me the most in this passage is that the Magi were not afraid to act. They traveled a great distance to find Jesus, to worship him, and to bring him gifts. And I ask myself, when God does something new, unknown, unpredictable in my life: Do I embrace it, or do I fear it?

I want to encourage everyone at HCC to look for what new things God is doing this year, and step out toward those opportunities like the Magi did when Jesus was born. Embrace the wonder of what God is doing in our church, and in our community – and then act upon it. Its a short lesson from the Magi, but a good one!

Thanks!
David Kelly