Fragile Growth

Connection Offerings

By Karen Polich

There’s something about our habits. We usually do what we usually do. We usually don’t do what we usually don’t do. How do we make the shift? – Michael M. Cook

We all have a role in the body of the Church. Pastor Michael M. Cook wrapped up the Fragile Growth sermon series on Sunday. This eight week series focused on moving forward in our growth as followers. Connection Offerings, teaches from Colossians 4:7-18; looking at five people and their traits. What if we adopted these traits? Listen to the podcast here.

Availability (Tychicus). He was available and dependable. God is more concerned about our availability than our ability. Are we ready to say “yes” when He can use us?

Useful (Onesimus). He was faithful. We see in Philemon 1:11 that he had failure in life, but God still used him. Failure does not have to be final. In failures, we have a choice to give up or move on. It is important as a believer to have the capacity to move forward. God can do anything. There can be new starts and things can turn around. It’s all possible.

Reconciliation (Mark). There is a fine line between we are not right with each other and we are now right with each other. Choosing a church is simply a matter of deciding which group of radically flawed individuals you will commit your life to.

Be careful and be slow to write people off. – Michael M. Cook

Prayer (Epaphras). He was always “wrestling in prayer”. The opposite of prayer is self-reliance. What does a prayer warrior recognize? God is able to do things that we are not able to do. It is heavy, hard work. Not a prayer warrior? What would get you to become one? What can God accomplish that you can’t?

 Generosity (Nympha). Everything she had was at God’s disposal. Is this how we live? Much can happen when we have a generous heart and hold nothing for ourselves.

Whatever condition we find ourselves in, we are all in this together. What would it look like if we all adopted these traits, wrestling in prayer as we give and make ourselves available for His Kingdom? We are all needed somewhere right now.



Dealing with Others

By Karen Polich

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6

Christian life is difficult at times because we keep getting in the way – Michael M. Cook

Pastor Michael M. Cook continued the Fragile Growth, sermon series in Colossians, with Dealing with Others. Listen to the podcast here.

Christ followers have an important responsibility in how we deal with “outsiders”. The differences between someone who knows Christ and someone who doesn’t are huge. Jesus was separate from sinners in that He was set apart (Hebrews 7:26), but he was a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). He kept Himself separate from the sin while being a friend.

We are to emulate Christ as closely as we can. Christian separation does not mean isolation. We should be insulated, but never isolated. The Gospel is needed most in the darkest places. To live as God as called us we can look to Colossians 4:2-6. Pastor Cook’s key sermon points give us clear direction from God’s Word.

Our character must be prayerful. We are instructed to pray continually, to be devoted to it. This can be difficult because most of us would rather do something than pray for something. In prayer, we are lifting it to God. Prayer lifts the Gospel above the circumstances. As we focus our character, it needs to be anchored in prayer.

Our conduct must be careful. Paul is calling Christ followers to live with purpose and action. We will not win people to Christ with passive niceness. When we exhibit love to others, it is the argument of all arguments. It demonstrates who Christ is. We are not called to isolate ourselves, but to engage.

Our conversation must be graceful. Our words are important and should be full of grace. God is pouring grace into our lives which allows us to pour His grace out to others. When others can see the Gospel in us, something can happen.

I’ve never won anyone to Christ in a debate. It is possible to win the argument but lose the person. – Michael M. Cook

Not only are we in Christ, but we have the responsibility of winning others to Christ.





Family Part Two – Children

By Karen Polich

God’s plan for families begins with parents who seek Him first and follow His direction. This partnership has a profound impact on children. God’s Word teaches us how, when living with trust, we can lead our children in His ways.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:18-21

Children obey your parents. For this to function, there must be structure in the home. Proper leadership establishes direction. Children crave structure and order. When they have it, it brings freedom. When they know the boundaries, they too can begin to grow into who God created them to be. Structure in the family means there is accountability. It is the same for each of us with the Father. It also means mercy and grace can flow into the lives of children. Parents can teach them about forgiveness and why boundaries matter. God has set boundaries in every life for our own protection.

Fathers, do not embitter your children. Children crave approval from their fathers. Fathers must be willing to say “I’m sorry”, when they are harsh beyond what is needed or speak with words that should not have been said. Leading children comes with great responsibility. Children are fragile and fathers are called to love them. Leading from a “God first” life builds trust.

To live with submission, love and obedience, we must start with trust. Trust is over all of it. Husbands and wives, you must put God first. Seeking Him before anything else builds the trust that leads to obedience. An obedient life bears the fruit of a life with God at the center. Obedience is a mixture of submission and love. When we yield to the Father, we can live the life He intends for us, a life beyond our imagination.

What would our lives look like if we were doing everything we are supposed to do from a biblical perspective? Do not settle for anything less. He offers us His best. We can choose to embrace it.

Listen to the Fragile Growth sermon series here.



Attention to Attire

By Karen Polich

How do we “bear with each other”? (Colossians 3:13) Are we cloaked in our old ways are wearing our new wardrobe? Pastor Cook’s message, Attention to Attire, from the Fragile Growth series, looked at how we interact with those around us. (Listen to the podcast here.)

A church family provides connection, comfort and passion. It can also bring irritation, frustration and unmet expectations. How we choose to deal with the others in our life sets us apart. This push and pull with people happens not only in a church family, but in all areas of our existence.

We’ve been given the gift of a new wardrobe. Through Christ we are given what we need to handle the challenges that come while experiencing life with others.

Colossians 3:11-16 has five characteristics of our new wardrobe.

Compassion. We should feel compassion for others. Do we have a mercy zone?

Kindness. This is the “doing”. Demonstrating our compassion with action shows kindness. What creative ways can we truly meet a need for someone else?

Humility. Jesus made himself nothing for us. Humility isn’t the absence of strength. It’s using our strength to help others.

Gentleness. Are we able to set ourselves aside and help others, demonstrating a gentle spirit?

Patience. This is the virtue of dealing with a difficult person over an extended period of time without writing them off or losing our cool.

We’ve all got choices. We can put on the new and seek to forgive when wronged, show patience for the difficult person and be kind. It may cost us something in return. We may have to let go of anger or disappointment. We may have to let go of ourselves and simply seek Him.

John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Christ is all and is in all. When we dress in these five characteristics, bound in love, Christ is reflected.


Blending Jesus

By Karen Polich

Jesus + Anything Else = Trouble – Michael M. Cook

A blended Jesus quickly derails a life. Faith can become so weakened that Jesus isn’t even part of what or who is being worshiped.

Beware of the blender. There is no need to add anything to who He is. Life around us shouldn’t guide who we serve. As we grow in our faith, have we ever thought that our relationship with Him is not weakened by what is taken away as He makes us new, but by what we add in? How can you start with something already in its purest form and then choose to add anything to it?

Pure Jesus. He’s the One. Pure faith comes when we don’t blend cultural beliefs and ideas into “our Jesus”.

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, to learn more about an unblended Jesus. He shared three elements of “pure” Jesus. (Colossians 2:6-23)

New Life. We are made new in Christ. It is God who is cutting things away from our hearts, bringing us closer to Him and who He has called us to be.

Christ did not come to make bad people good or good people better. He came to bring life. He came to make dead people live. We are made alive in Christ. Trust Him, embrace Him, be careful not to add anything else to the mix.

New Identity. Think of it as related to the debts we cannot pay. How do we reconcile all that we cannot change? There are words we shouldn’t have said and those we know we should have. There are the things we did or didn’t do. All of the things we’ve done in our imperfection. None of it is who God created us to be. What’s the answer for it all? It takes something beyond this world, beyond what we can do. He has taken it away and nailed it to the cross. We can do nothing, but He can everything. He alone brings salvation through grace.

New Freedom. We are made new, filled by the Holy Spirit and given new life. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. Hebrews 2:14

Seek Jesus at His purest. He is the One.

Unfolding a Mystery of God

By Karen Polich

How much potential and possibility do we have in our Christian life? It is difficult to fathom how God can live in us and we in Him. The mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27b) Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, explored this mystery related to living out our full potential. Listen to the podcast here.

Colossians 1:24-29 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

This speaks to the possibilities in every disciple’s life and helps clarify the potential in a “God transformed” life.

Christ is not diminished in us. It is a challenge to understand. His presence, received through salvation will be something that changes us. His presence released, strengthens us. It is not us, but Christ living in us and loving through us.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:20

In the Christian life, we have tremendous help through the Holy Spirit. Will we use it? No matter the pressure faced in life, help is at hand. He resides in us. We need to move out of the way and let Him lead.

The power of Christ in our lives communicates something about our potential. We can exchange our strength for His. We often try to get to the point where we can do things on our own, which is impossible. We can’t, but He can. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

The prospect of Christ in us reveals the hope of glory. Often we swim in failure. Without hope where would we be? We have hope now and hope in the future. There is more waiting for us beyond today and this life. (Romans 8:11, Psalm 17:15)

How great in the Kingdom, can we be in terms of Kingdom building for the cause of Christ? What is our full potential in Christ? As we grow spiritually in fragile space, know that the Holy Spirit is there to strengthen us as we live a life transformed by God.






Center Point

By Karen Polich

He created you and everything around you.

We all have a center point, the authority we give our allegiance to. Who (or what) is at the center point of your life? Take a look at life and evaluate what is the center piece. Where is your worship? Is God the center? Is it money, time, work, an upcoming wedding, fitness, the next vacation, or children?

What happens when Jesus is the center? Get ready. When Jesus is at the center you know, He won’t leave things the same. He’s going to ask you to love those who hate you. He’ll drive you to give more away. Your time, resources and priorities will become His. He’s not going to leave you alone.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:15-23

Why should Jesus be at the center?

  1. He made you and everything around you. The Son is the image of the invisible God. He is God, full and complete. Jesus lived among us in flesh, fully God. (Hebrews 1:3, John 14:9) Jesus is the first-born over all creation. Everything was created through Him and for Him.
  2. He bought us. (Colossians 1:19) We have been reconciled to God through Christ.

When Jesus is the center point, we see fruit and results in our lives.

Fragile growth is just that, it’s fragile. God never intended for us to stay as we are. He has plans and a purpose for every life. When we put Jesus at the center point of our lives, we can live life as it should be. What is your center point?

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, here.





Shaping a Path

By Karen Polich

How would you describe your life right now?

God has called us to bear abundant fruit. As believers, it is not finished simply when we choose to follow Christ. Salvation through God’s grace is only the beginning. Growth through God’s path should follow.

Pastor Michael M. Cook began a new sermon series, Fragile Growth, from Colossians 1:3-14. What path are we on and is it God’s path for us? Listen to the podcast here.

Let’s look at our lives, praying for God to awaken us from any drifting. What areas are bearing fruit? Where can we grow? New growth is fragile and brings us to a vulnerable place, but as Paul reminds us, we can start with faith, love and hope. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, love for God’s people and hope, we can begin to bear fruit.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:3-6

Paul reminds us we should be ever growing in our walk with the Lord. Many understand the grace of God. It is seen in the image of the crucifixion. God sent Jesus Christ to save us by His grace. What is sometimes missed is the way of God. God’s path for our lives is what sets us up for real growth.

Why do we see believers whose actions contradict their salvation? It is simple. Understanding God’s grace is not the same as understanding God’s path. The space between is where fragile growth occurs. It is where we develop into the difference makers we are called to be.

Examine where you are today. What steps can be taken to bring about the abundant fruit that comes when we go the way of God?

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8