Month: June 2014

Freedom in Christ

By LuAnn Edwards

When I hear the word “freedom,” I am thankful for my freedom in Christ.

Jesus wants us to walk in His truth, the truth of His Word. His Word brings us freedom, not bondage. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

What are you struggling with today? Is it guilt, depression, insecurity, bitterness? To be set free and become a fruitful Christian, you need to know who you are “in Christ” and win the spiritual battle for your mind.

There was a time when my mind was bombarded with thoughts from the deceiver. They were thoughts of condemnation (I could never be good enough), hopelessness (I could not live up to the expectations of others) and rejection (would the Lord give up on me?). Satan loves for us to believe these disgusting lies so we will walk in defeat. We cannot walk in freedom if we continue to believe this deception. We can, however, walk in truth! John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Once I began to believe the truth that I was accepted, secure and significant in Christ, I was able to receive freedom.

Below are some truths that taught me who I am in Christ. If you have accepted Jesus into your life, these truths are for you also.

I am a child of God and I belong to him (John 1:12 & 1 Corinthians 6:20).

I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1, 2).

I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind
(2 Timothy 1:7).

I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12).

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13).

There is a battle for our minds. If the devil can make us ineffective, he has us where he wants us.How do we overcome this? “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). In other words, we renounce the lies and accept the truth of God’s Word.

What should we focus our minds on instead?  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

Now, when I recognize my thoughts as those not from the Lord, I remember this verse and focus upon whatever is pure, right and true. I am not condemned or hopeless. I am God’s chosen, and I am to live as a believer who is free, because I am free! “Live as free men…live as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).

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Intimacy in the Lord’s Supper

By: Karen Polich

Experiencing the Lord’s Supper always astounds me. Knowing that we have the opportunity to partake in the intimate worship of our Lord Jesus Christ through something that He did with His disciples deepens the moment. It is an honor that comes with responsibility. An extraordinary gift bestowed upon us because of God’s grace.

The Lord’s Supper brings me to a place where I can experience Christ in the past, the present and the future. It is time for reflection within my own heart. Have I given everything to God? My sins, fears and failures, hopes and desires? I can rejoice in His glory as we await His return.

My worship is deepened knowing that God might do something in me that only He can do.

There is beauty in the intimacy of communion with Him through the Lord’s Supper, remembering His broken body and the blood He shed.

What awaits my eager heart as I worship Him with sincerity?  Do I seek Him boldly? Do I hesitate? He who makes each day new seeks me. All that is required of me is that I bring myself to Him with a pure heart. Not a perfect heart, but a forgiven one.

His presence is unmistakable. Lavishly He reveals Himself. Jesus gave us the ultimate gift of salvation, reconciling us with God. We read the words of John the Baptist, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29. Jesus was without sin, but about to take on the world’s sin as He sat with His disciples celebrating the Passover meal. In those moments He was still teaching. Honoring Him through the Lord’s Supper, I too have the opportunity to put my trust in Him and learn, seeking Him with gratitude and a heart of worship. His love, forgiveness and grace are waiting to be received.

What about you? What intimate moments do you experience through the Lord’s Supper? We would love to hear from you in the comments section.

The Lord’s Supper is recorded in Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:7-20.





Where is God Sending You?


By: Robert Thomas

I think my favorite aspect of Malawian culture is how simple everything is.  Were I to go and share the Gospel in Albuquerque, say on the campus of the university for example, I would be worried about holding people’s attention, and afraid that I’m either bothering someone or that they’ll leave because they’re busy.  It wasn’t like that in Malawi; people were continually willing to stop what they were doing and listen to the Gospel.

Out in the African countryside, the villages are distraction-minimal.  (I’ll qualify that only by saying I was preoccupied by all the animals such as goats and roosters walking around, but they were distracting only to us, the foreigners.)  In America, the culture we live in shouts for our attention.  A simple drive across town while listening to the radio features several companies using visual and audio advertisements to lure us in.  To live here is to be surrounded by a flurry of lights, images, and sounds, all calling you to spend vital pieces of your life on them.

If America is a cacophony, Malawi felt more like darkness.  The people are influenced by ancestor worship and small divisions of other religions, but all those do is contribute to the feeling of darkness.  There is so, so much need in Malawi, and this need can be met by simple people who have taken the time to travel halfway across the world, far from their homes, to share about the Light of the World, and what He’s done in their lives.  The people there are receptive to this.  They want for clean water, enough food, and a livable wage.  They also want to be taught about God, and they want bibles, but more than anything, their souls are thirsty for, and ready for, the Living Water Jesus provides.

In this case, it doesn’t take a career missionary, or one trained by a seminary.  As a 22 year old college graduate with a history of shyness, a healthy dose of introversion, and a degree in film, I would never have picked myself out to be one who could go and share my faith in a foreign country.  But I do know this without a doubt: God wanted me to go to Malawi, and to ignore that mission would have been objectively wrong.  I’ve learned not to count myself out of something I feel unqualified for, because my God is enough to fill my inadequacy.

My question is this: since there is so much need in this world, and Christians are ones who can meet these needs, where is God sending YOU?

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The Other Side of Pain – Hope in the Midst of Life’s Work

The Other Side of Pain – Hope in the Midst of Life’s Work By: Karen Polich

How is your work life? Are you excited every day, anticipating another great day with an amazing boss and wonderful coworkers? Is it a grind? Do you sigh heavily as you prepare yourself for another day doing something that you simply don’t want to do? Has your hope diminished?

1 Peter 2:18-25

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Pastor Cook discussed Peter’s words and what we are called to do. God has given us instructions with His clear intention that we endure whatever our circumstances may be. We are called to be a living and active illustration. (Romans 8:35-39)

What might God be working in your life? Does He have you walking through a difficult situation right now? Could He be after the process of your growth? We are called to follow the footprints of Christ. Your actions may be the only glimpse of Christ a difficult boss sees. Are you seeking out the opportunity to shine as His example? Excellence in all we do as we follow Him. That is the hope on the other side.

Want to hear more from Pastor Michael Cook? Listen here.

Abundant Life

By: LuAnn Edwards

Are you filled with the peace of God? Are you overflowing with joy and abounding in love? When we abide in Christ, He lives through us and we bear His fruit. I believe this is the abundant life Jesus talks about in John 10:10.

The Christian life is not just an adequate life; it is full of blessings – God blessing us and us blessing others.

When we allow Him to lead us and we rely upon Him with complete trust, He will work through us. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20a). In addition, each one of us is a new creation in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17). No longer should we live in the past or the ways of our past. We should now live for Christ and desire a deeper, personal relationship with Him.

An abundant life comes as a result of abiding in Christ so we will bear fruit. To abide in Christ means we completely surrender ourselves to Him and walk in obedience. We bear fruit as we continue in our daily walk with Christ. This daily walk should be one of personal commitment and getting to know Him better through prayer and Bible study. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Bearing fruit, such as peace, joy and love, honors the Lord and brings gladness to our hearts.

Peace abides in us if we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord. In John 14:27a Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” Jesus has personally given us this gift; He is our peace! Peace is a special place of knowing He is always present, along with believing He is working all things together for our good. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…” (Romans 15:13a).

An abundant life is filled with joy.

When others see this joy in us, they long for it too. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).We should always be joyful, for the joy of the Lord gives us strength (Neh. 8:10). Joy also comes through loving others.

In 1 John 4:11-12 we read, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” Our love shines outward as we deny ourselves and our selfish desires and put others first. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4). These verses portray a beautiful picture of love.

An abundant life is a life growing in Christ. It is a life dedicated to prayer and gaining knowledge through His Word. Through this walk of surrender, trust and obedience, Christ richly fills us with His peace, and we experience overflowing joy and abounding love.


The Other Side of Pain – The Battle We Face

The Other Side of Pain – The Battle We Face By: Karen Polich

Are you arguing for Christ or against Him?

You really are the best argument either way. When someone looks at you, at your personal life, they see Christ. What do they see?

1 Peter 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

We are engaged in a battle every day. The environment we live in is hostile. How do we handle that? Peter teaches two simple concepts.

  • Be determined to overcome personal sins.
  • Be dedicated to win over a lost society.

Our time here is temporary. Peter warns us to abstain from sinful desires. Is he only talking about the big things? No, it is in the details. Pastor Cook talked about those things that can creep in and then begin to rot your soul; the small, unseen, insidious sins. Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” Our lives should resonate with Jesus Christ. Why? Someone is always watching. The world loves a failure in the Church, so don’t give them evil in your life to slander Jesus with. Our failures usually come when we are focused on self instead of on Christ. Let it be that your good deeds show them who Jesus is. The world may still slam you, but God’s righteousness will shine. Righteousness is God’s incredible perfection that He pours into our hearts and lives. We are changed from the inside and can focus on Him. In the battle we face, are you arguing for Christ today?

The Simplicity of Contentment

The Simplicity of Contentment

By: Kristi Sullins

 “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.”

These are words that hang on the wall right above my desk.  I am a lover of the written word so instead of art I cover my wall in quotes, phrases and verses that speak to me.  The above quote above hangs front and center.  I remember clearly when I found it.

In 2013 I had the amazing opportunity to go to Malawi, Africa.  This was a mission opportunity I never dreamed to have, and to be honest was considering a Jonah approach to the trip as time grew close.  My first day out in the villages changed me forever.  Each small house and poorly clothed villager brought new questions to my heart.  Why were they so happy?  Why did they operate with such a spirit of contentment?  Do they know what they are missing, and how much more life has available?

My first interaction with children brought the desire to haul them all to America so they would have what they needed.  Surely children need more than old tires to play with and balls made of string and trash.  Of course, they need more than mashed corn and sugar cane to thrive.  It was clear to my American eyes that there were things that needed to be changed.

Thankfully God refused to let me look through my American eyes very long.  He allowed me to see the reality of their contentment.  It was present in the laughter of the women as they worked together to shuck the corn.  They had friendship.  It was present in the smiles of the children as they played and worked.  In spite of their lack of things they had joy.  You could hear it so clearly in their worship songs.  They would not limit the music to just one day a week.  They sang as they worked.  They sang as they rode the bus.  They worshiped throughout their day.

By my standards, they did not have many reasons to sing.  There was hunger, disease and poverty.  What is there to sing or smile about?  The answer was they were content with where they were and what they had.

After the second day my prayer changed from “Please Lord do not let me make a fool of myself” to “Please Lord help me understand the source of their joy”.  God graciously answered that prayer.  He led me to a young mother holding her little girl sick with malaria.  Praying over this little one left me feeling stressed over how God would answer.  It left her mom with peace that God had heard her prayer and He would handle it in His way.  He led me to a school that was full of children, but greatly lacking the supplies they needed.  I was full of regret for all they were missing.  They were full of joy that we cared enough to bring them the message of a God who loved them, and left them with real soccer balls.  The clearest understanding came from my interpreter who day in and day out displayed God’s love for those around us.  Her passion for the lost pushed her to walk miles with me even though she battled pain from surgery.  With no pain medicine available and no complaints ever voiced, she taught me that there was never an excuse to lose joy.  Her joy came from God and was not altered by her current reality.  These were flesh and blood examples of Paul’s words in Philippians 4 “I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content”.

There in the fields of Africa I was reminded that the simplicity of contentment in life is found in letting God be God.  It is not in what you have or what you can get.  Happiness is not found in the ease of your life, but in the source of your joy.

“Everything is amazing, and nobody is happy” hangs on my wall now to remind me of the lessons from Africa.  It helps strip away what stains my view of contentment, and takes me back to reality.  Oh to be happy when life is not amazing!

The Other Side of Pain – Hope in Loneliness and Isolation

The Other Side of Pain – Hope in Loneliness and Isolation

By: Karen Polich

1 Peter 2: 4-6

As you come to Him, the Living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”

Loneliness…something Pastor Cook says he sees so often; loneliness leading to a sense of isolation. What is on the other side of that loneliness and isolation? The Living Stone.

We have a Savior who relates to our circumstances.

He understands. He was rejected. He experienced the things that we experience and when we come to Him, we are not alone. He is the Living Stone, our foundation. We are connected to a Savior who understands us and we are connected to each other by the Living Stone.

Peter takes us back historically to when Solomon was building the temple. He reminds us of the victory and the living foundation of Jesus Christ. The rejected stone becomes the perfect fit. (1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 5:15, 1 Kings 6:7)

At times, when we feel lonely, we tend to cut ourselves off. We cut ourselves off from those around us whom we love and from the Church, the very place we can get help. Peter wants us to understand that we are different. We have a Savior who receives every sinner. We are different because our identity lies in the holy connection with Christ. This connection makes us part of a holy and royal priesthood. We are distinct and have our identity in Christ.Colossians 3:3-4 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in Glory”.

What are your circumstances today? Whatever today looks like, there is hope and you are never alone. You are becoming a living stone through the Living Stone of Christ.