Everyone Wants A Hit

Habits… we all have habits.  Some of us have habits regarding our habits.   It all started off as a gift from God, our creator.  The brain’s ability to develop habits to handle things we do over and over again made our work easier and more enjoyable.

But that did not last long.  It lasted, precisely, from creation in Genisis one to the point Adam and Eve committed the first sin in Genisis three.  At that exact moment sin not only entered creation, it entered into their very lives and everything changed.  Suddenly, what was meant to make our lives better (habits) also became things that actually harmed us, had the potential to destroy our lives.  At that point, the ability to create bad habits and addictions was born.

If you missed any of weeks one or two of “Everyone Wants A Hit” please visit our SoundCloud account.  We desire to see you free from habits that hurt you and those who love you.

Join us Sunday for part three at Stuttgart Harvest Church (9:30 and again at 11:00).

 


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Thank you Jesus (even though we will miss Donny and Brooke)!

Thank you, Jesus, for allowing us to be part of your great big plan to see souls eternally connected with you!

After several years of service to Stuttgart Harvest Church, Donny will be embarking on an exciting new journey of preparing/training to start a church.

Donny does not yet know where the church will be but he told us it will be somewhere outside of the Stuttgart region.  They do have their first feelings of God narrowing down the town search… and that is great, exciting news.

Donny asks us to pray for them as they have many, many things to focus on and much training to do.  Among the items high on the list is the selling of two homes. We know what a huge task that can be. It is hard enough to sell one house.  Pray for them as they get houses ready to sell.

Pray for them too as they will be uprooting their family.  Once they know for sure to where they will be moving they will be making transition plans.  When they do arrive at their new location, they will begin to develop new relationships with unchurched folks, all part of starting a church from scratch.

Pray for them as they continue to learn, grow and train for church planting.  There is so very much to do and they will be extremely busy.  Pray for God to give them the wisdom and clarity they need for each step of the process.

Church starting is a daunting task but God will lead them on this great journey.  Pray for them and wish them well as they begin this 18-month to two-year journey of preparation.  Blessings to Donny and Brooke (and their family) as they take this great step. We are grateful to call them trusted friends and we join them as some of their first cheerleaders and partners in prayer!   Thank you, Jesus, for calling us to tasks larger than anything we can ever do on our own.  God, you continue to prove it is You who changes lives and we are simply along for the ride of our lives.


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What’s the Big Deal About a Virgin Birth?

Ask most people about Jesus and his birth from a virgin mother and you are likely to get many answers.

It was prophesied… so it had to happen in order to fulfill prophecy and some might say it had to happen to show Jesus was supernatural.  Okay… but why was a virgin birth a MUST?

My friends at Interlink have summarized it here… because it really is a big, huge deal:

Warning! Theology ahead!
So, why is a virgin birth part of Jesus’ story?  Though some scholars include revealing God, bridging the chasm between God and humankind, saving humankind, and rescuing the whole creation as the purposes of the virgin birth of Christ, they are actually the purposes of the incarnation of Christ (why God became a man).
The virgin birth was the means of the incarnation of Christ (how God became a man). While the incarnation began at the birth of Jesus and continues forever, the virgin birth lasted only a matter of hours.
The distinctive purpose of the virgin birth of Christ was to free Him from the original sin in His incarnation (God becoming a man).
The ordinary processes of transmission of racial heritage were interrupted, in His case, by the miraculous conception.
But, we should not assume that the mere fact of a virgin birth would break the chain of sin. The unique circumstances associated with His birth help us to appreciate the fact that He was born without sin.
The Bible declares that He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21); and “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5).  Satan had nothing in Christ (John
14:30); he has no claim on the sinless Son of God.  Leon Morris rightly says: “Sin gives Satan his hold on men, but there is no sin in Jesus as in others.” (F.F. Bruce, Gen. Ed., The New International Commentary on The New Testament, 18 vols. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Company, 1984, Vol. IV: The Gospel According to John, By Leon Morris, p. 660)
Through the miraculous overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was born sinless.  His conception served as a sign of the uniqueness of the Person who was born.  Jesus’ virgin birth and His deity are inseparably connected. If Christ were born in the natural way—that is, if He had a human father—He could not be God.  He would be just a human, and would have inherited the sinful nature. Jesus is God—not because He is born of a virgin; but because He is God, His incarnation had to be by way of a virgin birth.

So, yeah. A virgin birth. Really… it is a big deal… sinlessness of God as a man demanded a virgin birth (no human father).


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You did not get here alone…

 

 

 

Think about your family growing up.  Every family has unspoken rules.  You grow up, slowly being informed of these rules through family behavior.  Think about these questions:

  • How did you handle conflict?
  • What was the family method for solving problems?
  • Was forgiveness obvious and regular?
  • Did you often see forgiveness asked for and given?
  • How did your family communicate?
  • Who was typically in control?
  • Was your family quiet or loud?
  • Did you have dinner together… if so… what were your conversations like?
  • Were there certain topics that could not be talked about or was everything fair game?
  • How was anger expressed?
  • Was it more positive or was it more explosive?
  • Were threats and guilt used to manipulate?
  • Were people encouraged to keep growing in their personal relating skills?
  • Were you relaxed at home or often “walking on eggshells?”
  • Did you serve each other or were there only one or two who were expected to serve?
  • What were your family relationships like with other families?

These things shaped your views on relationships and many of these values became your values… which means many of your family struggles may have become your struggles too.  You have not become who you are all by yourself.

Here is a difficulty: sin and grace live together in all relationships.  Sin gets in the way of what grace can do but grace covers what sin causes.  Where sin and grace intersect… great things can happen but if not guided through the intersection, devastation can result.  

Wisdom from your friends is not enough.  Techniques from self-help books will let you down and not bring you lasting change.  These promise you can change relationships without changing yourself and will leave us struggling with:

  • Letting go of the hurt.
  • Getting angry at the person who complicates our life.
  • Being defensive when challenged.
  • Avoiding conflict.
  • Being too political at work.
  • Thinking broken, hurting relationships will never get better.
  • Talking about people behind their backs.
  • Lying to others because you are trying to control what they think.
  • Lowering your standard to gain someone’s approval.
  • Envying other relationships.
  • Controlling others.
  • Exploding on people when things don’t go our way.
  • Pushing people away from us.

You see, God made you for relationships and this side of heaven all relationships are difficult.  Because deep inside we know relationships are important, we are tempted to make them the ultimate goal but God wants them to, instead, be part of leading you toward His goal.   There are no secrets that will lead you to problem-free relationships and at some point, you may wonder if relationships are even worth the struggle.  But God keeps us in messy relationships for his redemptive purpose so stay in there.  Through this series, we will see God’s scripture offering us a clear hope for relationships.

I hope to see you Sunday morning as we continue this journey through God’s perspective of bad blood.


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Tis The Season… of Bad Blood

 

 

Okay, okay, Harley.  I heard you.  There is evil in me that hurts all of my relationships (see part one of Tis The Season… Of Bad Blood on Soundcloud).  But what about the bad things people do to me?

Fair question.  Your relationships are not only harmed by what you do and say…   You are also hurt by others.   Let me share with you what I learned from a mentor.

Sometimes we hurt them.  Sometimes they hurt us.  And often it is both.  This side of heaven we will always be sinners relating to other sinners.

Here is a big truth.  Even when we are sinned against, we are responsible for how we react.  This is the only way we can hope to stop the destructive cycle and power of sin in a relationship.

Read Micah 6:8 for direction:

“No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,

   and this is what he requires of you:

to do what is right, to love mercy,

   and to walk humbly with your God.”

God had this written knowing you would be sinned against.  And He knew our tendency would be to hurt them in response to them hurting us.

This is what we often do:

  • I bitterly confess your sins to myself. “I can’t believe they did that to me!”
  • I confess your sins to someone else.  “Listen to what he did to me!”
  • I confess your sins to God asking Him to hurt them. “God… when are you going to finally do something to them?!”
  • I confess your sins to you as I yell and scream.  “How dare you?!”

These ways of thinking about and talking about the sins of others are destructive because they fool us into thinking the problem is only outside of ourselves.  But the Bible reminds us that ultimately our biggest problem is still in our hearts because we now are dealing with our response.

Said another way… when our hearts have been dramatically hurt by the sins of another, we must guard our hearts so we are not trapped in sin’s destructive cycle.  Being hurt makes us want to hurt.  That makes our need for Jesus huge.

Being patient, humble, forgiving and gentle are not calls to roll over passively.  This is God calling you to actively respond… but to respond with His response.  

It is true, the best parts of life and the worst parts of life are all found in relationships.  God has given us what we need to navigate relationships between people who hurt each other.  He has given us His Word.  Don’t ignore it, don’t leave it on a shelf.  He has given us His Spirit.  Don’t ignore Him.  Listen to Him, don’t just do what you want.  He has given us the church family.  And yes… even there are relationships to navigate.

Even in the deepest relational turmoil, we are never alone.  While our problems have everything to do with sin, our relationship potential has everything to do with Jesus.

Hope to see you Sunday as the church gathers to celebrate together what Jesus is doing in our lives.


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#SHC6060 Let’s do this!

The Barna research group reported that “Of more than 70 moral behaviors we study, when we compare Christians to non-Christians we rarely find substantial differences.”  

 

Something is terribly wrong.

Perhaps this, even though not written directly about us, describes us: Matthew 13:15  “For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.”

If we want what we can produce, we just need to do more and be better and we might see some subtle improvements.  But if we want what only God can produce (Galatians 5:22-23 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control.) then we will have to do this His way.

For a branch on a fruit tree to produce fruit it must do one thing.  It must stay connected to the tree, the trunk.  Connected, it will produce fruit.  Disconnected it will not.  To really follow Jesus you must stay connected moment by moment.  To produce what God desires to produce through your life you must stay connected minute by minute but so often we don’t.  We usually just give God an acknowledgment or two during our busy days and that just gives us the illusion of being connected.

The #SHC6060 experiment will start you on a journey of more and more connectedness with Jesus.  The #SHC6060 experiment:  Set an alarm on your phone or watch to alert you every hour of your awake day (and place sticky notes where you will see them often; when the alarm goes off… pause and talk with God… tell Him this next hour is His… Ask Him to direct you and guide you… Listen to Him… Respond to Him… stay connected to Him; share with us on your social media using #SHC6060 how God is directing you.

We will fail more than we succeed in staying connected to Jesus but we will succeed more and more as we stay connected to Jesus.

I’m so glad you are on this journey with us!


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