All posts filed under: Personal Growth

Limited Faith in an Unlimited God

–written by JJ Cole Our God is not fickle, forgetful, or fragile in anyway.  He does not make mistakes.  He purposes the gaps.  He allows sacred spaces and blank places.  He leaves room. – Lysa Terkeurst Let’s talk about limited faith. Uncertain faith. Shaken faith. Questioning faith. Undeveloped faith. Challenged faith. For those of us who follow Christ and are growing in Him, the thought of anything other than unwavering, steadfast faith is abrasive. But in complete humility and vulnerableness, at any given time, I can identify at least one of the above descriptions to characterize an aspect of my faith. The story of Gideon is rich in evolving lessons as we follow his adventure. But I want to focus specifically on Judges 6:12-14 when we first meet Gideon. The way I read it, these two verses are key to understanding the rest of the story. They also speak to those of us who, at times, waiver and become shaken in our faith.  Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said: “The …

Jesus Has Redemptive Power Over Your Failures

This Sunday as we continue our new series “Nothing is Permanent,” we will be looking at 1 Chronicles 13-15 and 2 Samuel 6:12-15. This is one of my favorite passages in scripture but it is not an easy story to read. King David is preparing to bring the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. Throughout the Old Testament, the ark represented the very presence of God. So, as you can imagine, this was a big deal! However, in his enthusiasm, David fails to refer back to the proper way to move the ark (see Exodus 25:10-15, Numbers 4:4-6). When David sets forth with an impulsive plan, disaster strikes and the consequences prove fatal for one of his men. David set out to do a good thing for God and the people, but he went about it in the wrong way. Unfortunately, I can relate all too well. I come up with all kinds of great ideas “for God” and in my excitement to bring them to fruition I don’t always spend time seeking the …

You Can Influence People Beyond Your Ability

-written by Matt Clotfelter  All of us like positive statements. Statements like, “You did a great job!” “You are important to me!” It feels good to be affirmed after we do something good. Keeping this in mind, I try to apply this principle as a dad. I take every chance to give my sons positive feedback. I also try to give positive pre-action statements. “I know you can do it!” “You’ve got this!” These sometimes give us the nudge we need to do something well outside our comfort zone. As a kid, maybe you were nervous to ride a roller coaster, but you had a buddy with you to give you that common encouragement, ”What are you, chicken?” While this particular statement may not be the most positive, many a young man has done something they thought they couldn’t because of it. We find this same principle in the Bible. In Judges 6, we find an unusual encounter between an angel and Gideon. Unlike most of the encounters in the Bible, Gideon doesn’t even realize he …

How Do I Go And Make Disciples?

As a church, Southern Hills wants to be identified mainly by fulfilling the Great Commission. The Great Commission comes from Matthew 28:18-20, and we have made this our mission as a church—making disciples who make disciples. I’ve spoken to many people who have some fears when it comes to actually taking part in our mission; fears of not knowing where to start, or even what to say. One way to fulfill our mission is by inviting a friend, family member, neighbor, or coworker to church. While a good start, I want like to encourage you to do even more. The Scriptures give lots of description of what happens when someone becomes a Christian. I have taken much comfort from these passages and I would like to share a few with you, in hopes that the Word would embolden you. Here are a few realities of what God is up to when we share the gospel with people (and reminders of what He did for us): opening blind eyes and shining light (see 2 Corinthians 4:1-6) …

Are You Living Out The Forgiveness Given To You?

-written by Betsie Richards Some of my favorite Bible stories are the ones where Jesus gives open, no-holds-barred forgiveness to someone and. at the same time He puts the Pharisees in their place. It may be because I have a “bit” of a snarky side and when Jesus calls the Pharisees out, it makes me smile. It may be because I know I need that open, no-holds-barred forgiveness too.  I love the story of the woman who was caught in adultery and brought to the Temple where Jesus was teaching. Jesus silences a crowd full of accusers by writing in the dirt and telling the one without sin to throw the first stone. When the crowd leaves without one rock thrown in condemnation, Jesus replies to her with “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” This small statement is a declaration of forgiveness and purpose (see John 8:1-11) Another favorite of mine is the story of Luke 7:36-50. This passage tells the story of the “sinful woman” and how she washes Jesus’ feet with …

Together Let’s Act like the Church

–written by JJ Cole In the midst of a pivotable scene in the famous Mel Gibson movie “The Patriot,” Charlotte tells Benjamin Martin, “You have done nothing to be ashamed of.” Martin’s somber response was, “I have done nothing.  And for that I am ashamed.” I recently read through the book of Acts. So much ground is covered in those 28 chapters as we see the original disciples taking the torch and pressing forward with Jesus’ call “to go.” (see Matthew 28:19) In Acts, we learn of the courage and intentional acts of these men and women. (No wonder the book is called “Acts.”)  Peter and John were called into the streets of Jerusalem and it’s courts.  Stephen was called to stand his ground against the mob. Ananias was called to have compassion on an enemy. Paul was called to boldly take the message of Christ into the outside world, which would be us. It is sobering to contemplate what might be today, had these people not acted on their calling.  The privilege I have …

It’s a Beautiful Day in This Neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood, A neighborly day for a beauty, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day, Since we’re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please, Won’t you please, Please won’t you be my neighbor? Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was an amazing show. How many times growing up did you watch his show and honestly think this amazing man actually wanted to be your friend? Now, granted, at that age we believed many things that could never actually happen. But I’d like to think this man was different. There was something truly special about him. And there was something special about him. Not only could he …

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 …

Simple Ways to Show Love Does

A few nights ago, my 6-year-old son Sam proudly showed me his “to-do list.” I was struck by the simplicity of it and reminded of the childlike faith Jesus tells us to have in Matthew 18:3. I told Sam how much I liked and agreed with his list and he asked if he could hang it up somewhere “so everyone in our family can see it and remember to do these things.” As a result of our conversation, his list currently hangs on our refrigerator and every time I see it I think about one of the core values of our church family: Love does. Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – 1 John 3:18 Thanks to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, we now can have a relationship with God. We are not required to “do” anything to secure our salvation. It is a free gift that we just accept. In other words, we aren’t saved by our …

Acting as the Church God Had In Mind

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. – Acts 2:1-6 This text in Acts was the very beginning of something supernatural; God’s design for the church took on its fullness that day in Jerusalem. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and the others preached the gospel in the native languages of everyone present. It happened on the steps of the temple, then moved throughout all of Israel, Judea, and to the ends of …