Author: Heath Neal

But Its My Gift and I Don’t Want to Share

Remember the first day you got to drive a car? Alone? Maybe you were lucky enough to get a new car that day. Or maybe you were just grateful to be able to borrow the family car. Either way, you were given the gift of freedom. You didn’t have to depend on anyone to go where you wanted anymore. You could just go. I got to drive the family car when I was 16 and the privilege to do so was a gift I didn’t take lightly. I had dreams of grandeur, driving around and picking up my friends to go and do… I don’t know what. We didn’t do a whole lot other than hangout and play basketball. I found out quickly with my new found gift there was an expectation to share the gift with my sister. She was younger, but she needed the car to take her places also. I needed the car to get to the store, school, a friend’s house, and church. So did my sister. And now with the …

Is Your Love The Enduring Kind?

We recently started our third round of our in house Biblical counseling training called Equipped to Counsel. It is really exciting to spend nearly a year with people looking at how God’s truth changes people. I know His truth has changed me and I’m sure you can speak of how it has changed you, too. One of the things that we try to get across to our trainees is the idea of sacrificial love, or agape love. We’ve been looking at 1 Corinthians 13:7 as part of our sermon series. One of the parts of that verse says, “Love endures all things” (ESV). The NLT says, “endures through every circumstance.” To be honest, I think this is one of the truths hard for people to believe in counseling. On the surface we believe it. “I can endure anything,” we tell ourselves. “I’ve been through childbirth,” or “I survived (fill in the blank).” But real, sacrificial, agape love endures every situation, no matter how hard, or what the consequences may be. When someone comes for counsel …

Are You Living in the Hope of Tomorrow Today?

Everyday you wake up and it’s today. You don’t get a re-do on yesterday and you never wake up in tomorrow. Granted, tomorrow became today, but you get the idea, right? Every time we wake up, we get the chance to live in a fresh new today. But isn’t it common to want to live in yesterday or to anticipate tomorrow and miss out on today? I think this happens in our spiritual life as well. When we live out this new life we have in Christ (remember, you are saved by grace through faith! see Ephesians 2:8), we should look to the past with thankfulness for forgiveness of sins, mercy, love, judgment removed, and debt paid. Knowing what God has given us is important, but it isn’t enough. We can’t simply look at what has happened and say, “Okay. I’m good to go now.” We still have today to live. And, likewise, we know what future has been promised to us by God; namely, eternity with Him. That will be an incredible time! I …

Would You Like to Get Well from Your Sickness?

In John 5 we find the story of Jesus healing a sick man. We learn a lot about who Jesus is through this story. Jesus shows us He understands people when He saw him and “knew he had been ill for a long time” (v.6). Jesus demonstrates He heals us when He wants to because He wants to, not because we did something to earn it. Jesus shows that He is God in human flesh by speaking with authority to the man (v.8, 14). Jesus speaks with such a tone and with such assurance that the man instantly obeys. No objection, no disbelief, no self-doubt, just pure obedience to a believable authority. We learn some about human kind in the story as well. We see a man who sort of wants to get healed; “I can’t, sir” (v.7). Aren’t we often like this, too? “I need healing, but I’m going to sit here in my self-pity, not asking for help, just complaining about my situation.” Jesus asks an incredibly deep question, “Would you like to …

What Do Your Passions Say About Your Heart?

Where do your passions come from? Are you passionate about food, sports, your car? For some of us it revolves around our families. For others it may revolve around our extra curricular activities. Or perhaps for you it is your work. What are the things in life which make you excited? I love good food. One could easily say it is a passion of mine; ask the other staff members. I enjoy recommending specialty food items they have to try. I have tasted and enjoyed the wonderful flavor, so I want others to experience it as well. I believe my passion for great tasting food can lead other people to a great experience. But, if my passion comes from the wrong place, then I end up just serving my self and my own lusts in life. I may want you to try this incredible new entrée at the latest restaurant, but if my motivation is to make you like me, appreciate me, or herald me as the best connoisseur of food, well that isn’t God …

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 …