Author: Heath Neal

Who We Are, What and How We Do It

If you have been around Southern Hills at all in the last year, you know something new is coming. It has been on the horizon for a while now and we are getting super close to moving to City Station. Obviously, a new building means a new location, new procedures, new habits, new needs, new people.  While it’s been the buzz at SoHills, City Station isn’t the only “something new” that has been going on in our church. Over the past several years, our church family has been intentionally working on becoming disciple-makers. While an old command, we want to approach each day with this mission made anew. Because of Christ in us, we are seeing more and more new people walking through our doors, ready to take on this mission as well. Our mission of making disciples who make disciples is hard to miss when you first come to SoHills. After you have been on campus a few times, you’ll start to understand (or least we hope you’ll understand) why this is what we do. Our mission comes out of …

Are You Choosing to be Wise?

We have been studying 2 Timothy on Sundays for the last 4 weeks. As a pastor, I love Paul’s writings to Timothy. Paul gives him, a younger pastor, clear direction on what to do in his role. At the same time, he is giving us clear direction on how to live out the role of every believer. If you haven’t, I’d encourage you to read through 2 Timothy on your own. As we close this series, I’d like to focus on two verses: All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul understood that wisdom comes from one place: God. God has left us His wisdom in Scripture, written out for us to read, learn from, and live out. We know it is truth, and not just something that …

The Underserved, Reckless Love of God

On Sunday, Keith did a tremendous job of telling us about the story of David returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. I encourage you to read 1 Chronicles 13-15 in its entirety for a complete understanding. At the end, we find David celebrating who God is and what God has done for him and Israel. King David was “skipping about and laughing with joy.” (1 Chronicles 15:29) I’m reminded of the worship song Reckless Love.  The chorus says: Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found Leaves the ninety-nine I couldn’t earn it I don’t deserve it Still You give yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God I think this must have been some of what David was thinking as he celebrated the return of the Ark to Jerusalem. It had been staying at the house of Obed-edom because when they tried to move it before, they had disobeyed God and His anger burst out against them. But while it stayed …

I’m Your Community, Like It Or Not

Ever since the message on Sunday where Shannon talked about us belonging to each other, I can’t get the Pat Benetar song “We Belong” out of my head.  I may be dating myself here, but the lyrics from my youth keep bouncing around up there:  We belong to the light We belong to the thunder We belong to the sounds of the words We’ve both fallen under Image me singing this out loud at the top of my lungs in my… ehem… “singing” voice. Whatever we deny or embrace For worse or for better We belong, we belong We belong together I’m not sure where Pat was going with the belonging to the light and thunder part.  Honestly, I think songwriters just make stuff up because it sounds good.  But she was on to something with the end of her chorus. We can deny it or we can embrace it, but either way, we belong together. In the context of her song, she is talking about herself and someone she loves. In the context of …

Gaining Perspective on What Matters Most

During the Christmas Season, we read a lot about Jesus’s birth. I love the birth story in Luke 2! But there is another birth story we find in Luke 1, that is of John the Baptist. John’s birth finally happened after Elizabeth and Zechariah had probably given up hope of ever having children as they were both pretty old. And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. – Luke 1:58 There was much rejoicing and celebrating for the arrival of this new baby.  Everyone couldn’t wait to know what they would name it.  But when Elizabeth said, “His name is John!” everyone was shocked (Luke 1:60).  How could that be his name? He should be named after his father.  It’s interesting how their friends and relatives “knew” what was best for them.  I don’t think anyone meant any discontent by the suggestion, but they didn’t know the whole story. We see back in verse 13, an angel had told Zechariah he was to name his child John. So …

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 …