Author: Heath Neal

Today is the Perfect Day to Change

The past few Sundays, we’ve talked about how nothing we have is really ours and because it’s all God’s, we should be willing to give to the Lord.  This truth is the why of managing well what we’ve been given.  So, what does the how look like?  I think that starts with Today. Here is the great thing about today: you can only live in it.  You can never live in yesterday again.  It’s gone.  You will never live in tomorrow because today is always here.  It never goes away.  Today you will go to bed, fall asleep, wake up again, and it will be… you guessed it… today.  We live in today.  This is the reality of life.  When it comes to finances, and really everything we manage, are we living in today or are we trying to live in yesterday? Are we living in today or are we trying to live in tomorrow?  Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring. – Proverbs 27:1 It’s really kind of foolish to try to …

Are You a Believer or a Follower?

Recently through Scripture reading, I’ve come to this conclusion: there is a difference between a believer and a follower, especially when we are talking about Jesus. Christ Believer – Someone who thinks Jesus is God in human flesh. I think that is a pretty good description of a Christ Believer.  This person believes in Christ’ power, authority, and ability to save. But… (Couldn’t you just feel a “but” coming.) But according to scripture, we can not stop at, “I believe.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. – James 2:19 When Jesus walked around with His disciples, He healed many people and cast out many demons.  A common thing we see about these demons is they all believed Jesus was the Son of God.  They believed He was who He said He was, but what good did it do them?  They definitely didn’t become His disciples.  In fact, they often asked Him to go away and leave …

It’s Not All About The Benjamins

Even when we aren’t talking about money, we often talk about money: As good as gold Another day another dollar Gold digger Made of money Money doesn’t grow on trees Worth its weight in gold I was struck by this the other day when I read a passage of scripture, ironically not about money. Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” – Hebrews 13: 5-6 “How is this not about money?  It literally says, ‘Don’t love money’ in the text.” I’ll give you that, but the passage isn’t about money. I had never noticed how the writer of Hebrews had used money as the hook to draw the reader into a deeper discussion.  Yes absolutely, don’t love money, but not because money is bad.  Not because God doesn’t want you to have money.  The writer isn’t …

Can You Hear Me Now? Listening with Intentionality

“Are you listening?” “Listen to me.” “Just stop talking and listen.” I feel like I will never stop telling my children to listen to me. And if they would take the time to listen, I wouldn’t have to continually tell them to close the door when they come inside, to put their shoes in the shoe bin instead of leaving them on the floor, and to not complain but speak kind words about other people. I know my kids hear me, but they aren’t fully listening to me all the time.  Listening isn’t just hearing what is said to you.  Listening is even more than hearing and understanding. Listening is hearing it, understanding it, and acting on it.   If I tell my daughter to brush her teeth every night before bed, she isn’t listening if she doesn’t actually do it.  When understood, listening should create in her a need to brush her teeth every night. James 1:22-25 makes this point clear for us as Christ followers: But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must …

Have You Experienced the Living Water in Your Life?

I had the privilege of going on this year’s summer mission trip to Nicaragua.  It was my first time to that country, but not my first trip to a Hispanic country as Karen and I were missionaries in Mexico for five years.  Going into the trip, I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of the culture.  I learned there was a lot I didn’t understand.  For example, in Mexico, most everyone has access to clean affordable water.  In Nicaragua, this isn’t always the case. One of the projects we got to work on was installing a water tower at a family’s house.  The family had been using large drums and buckets to store water for drinking, cleaning, and bathing.  As I spoke with the mother, it became clear they may have lacked water at times, but there was no lack of living water, as Jesus refers to when he meets the woman at the well in John 4. She kept telling me her “testimonio” as she called it, which means testimony.  She nearly …

Your Identity in Light of a Good God

This upcoming Sunday we celebrate Father’s Day.  For some of us, it is a day to celebrate with our father and say thanks.  For some of us, it is a day to remember our father and be thankful.  And for others of us, it is just another day as we never knew him or he wasn’t worthy of celebration.  I’ve been thinking about this recently.  I once had a professor say to me he never prays “Heavenly Father” because he doesn’t want to bring up bad memories of bad fathers for his students. I understand the heart, but I think this keeps a side of God at arms length. On Sunday we will be singing the song Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin.  I think it is a very appropriate song for Father’s day.  Two things stand out to me in the chorus: You’re a good good Father It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are And I’m loved by You It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who …

A Butt Kicking That Will Change Your Heart

This Jonah series is kicking my butt. (Missed a message? Listen to Sunday’s messages by clicking here.) chapter 1: “You can’t run from God.” If I’m honest, I try to. chapter 2: Jonah cries out for God to save him from the uncomfortable state he is in, but not to change his heart.  I do that too! chapter 3: God doesn’t call me because I am able, but because He is able. My potential isn’t in me, it’s in Christ.  But I seem to think I can do it because of my skills and who I am.  Do you feel this way too?  Please tell me I’m not alone in realizing how much like Jonah I am! This is good though. Until you realize you need change, you will never ask God to change you.  Until you realize you need change, you will never kill your old self; you will never live Galatians 2:20: My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So …

Who Needs The Hope of Your Resurrection Story?

I hope you have been a part of our “My Resurrection Story” series that finished on Sunday.  And I hope you got to experience the Easter service as well.  Not because it was the largest attendance to date (which is pretty cool), but because truth was preached.  The morning centered around the truth that the story of Christ’s resurrection is also our story.  If you were there, you experienced the Spirit of God expressing this through every aspect of the service. It’s almost hard to put into words how great it is to gather as the body of Christ and experience God’s presence together. So, what is your resurrection story?  When I think about that, I consider how I am a different person.  I know Christ, who lives in me, has made me different than I what I used to be.  I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can basically remember, but I didn’t really know the resurrected Christ until I truly started surrendering to Him and letting Him change me.  And honestly, it’s …

Renew Your Mind by Changing the Way You Think

A truth you’ll hear a lot here at Southern Hills is that your old self is dead and now Christ lives in you.  He is now in the process of renewing you. Sanctification is the biblical word for this.  You are continually being made more like Christ when you read the Bible, when you seek to put Him first in your life, when you chose to love God and show love to other people.  God is literally changing who you are to reflect His image.  Paul says in Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think…” It’s the renewing of our mind where Christ changes us and makes us anew. I’ve been reading a neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf, and she talks about this renewing of your mind.  She says, “Scientists are finally beginning to see the brain as having renewable characteristics; it is no longer viewed as a machine that is hardwired early in life, unable to adapt, …

Welcome to the SoHills Family, Neals!

When I was introduced to the church in November, which to me feels like an eternity ago, Shannon talked a lot about where I have worked in ministry and what I will be doing here at Southern Hills.  Being a new member of the SoHills family, I thought you would like to know more about who we are.  So… Hi, my name is Heath Neal, and this is my wife Karen. We have a 5-year-old daughter, Reese, and a 3-year-old daughter, Vivian, and live in Bremen. I grew up in the Atlanta area and am a huge fan of the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks. Although I lived elsewhere for nearly twenty years, it has been fun to come back to Georgia and live so near to where I grew up. I love sports, reading, being outdoors and spending time with people. Karen hails from outside of Nashville, TN, where she grew up on the family farm. They no longer raise cows and tobacco, but every spring you can go and pick fresh strawberries. We always take …