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Feeling overwhelmed, challenged, or that life just won’t give you a break?

As we continue our study through the letters that Jesus dictated to the seven churches in Revelation, we come across the letter to the church of Smyrna. Through this letter we will see how to excel in the midst of hardship and persecution as Christians. From day to day challenges to the persecuted church around the world, Jesus has much to say to give us His heart, perspective, and passionate perseverance.

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Join us as we start a new study series exploring the seven letters Jesus dictated to the seven different churches in the book of Revelation.

Each church were dealing with different struggles that we still deal with in our lives and in the church today. Hear Jesus speak to each of these directly with how to overcome!

We start with the letter to the church of Ephesus. This was a church Paul started. loved and fought for. Jesus has many positive things to say about their ministry but also a few concerns.

We can do all the right things but lose our entire foundation if we lose the passion of our love with Christ and one another. Join us as we see what Jesus has to say about being a person or church that does all the right things but lost their love (and how to get it back).

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Often times, I have addressed church hurt and pastor hurt over the years. Many have stories of being hurt over the years and I am one of them who has a couple stories under my belt. For some, they have experienced a messed up pastor or church. Others just simply had a different way of viewing a situation but it still hurt. Then for others, if we are honest, the pastor or church may have been bringing a truth we did not want to accept and we embraced it in pain instead of humility. There are many reasons for church hurt.

However, that is not the point of this post. This post is about the other side that most never see. It’s when the pastor is hurt.

Pastoral relational hurt is one of the biggest reasons pastors resign and leave ministry.

In my case, we are very relational church. The people in our church family are just that, family. When people leave out the back door without a word, let you know they won’t be back in a text, or leave in explosive ways out of the blue…. it can be very damaging.

I won’t bore you with all the stats but over time when these situations happen, they back up on a pastor. They get harder and harder to process and not take personally. I have been the lead pastor of the same church for 14 years and while the good, deep relationships far out number the painful goodbyes, there are days that the collective hurt weighs heavy.

I guess as a pastor, I’m now suppose to leave you four bullet points on how to leave a church well but I don’t feel like that’s the point of this post. I simply want to shed a little light on a side of things most don’t get to see.

When you leave a church, communicate.

If God is leading in a new way, let the pastor celebrate it with you as you leave the front door that is always open instead of sneaking out the back. (I have many of these stories and love when we can celebrate new starts with people we love).

If you are leaving, don’t say that you are just taking a short break to try to soften the blow. Tell them you are leaving and do so on good terms. Saying you are taking a break usually leaves a good pastor praying for you, reaching out to you, and then confused over time.

If you have a concern or frustration, share it and talk it through. Far too often, things that could have been addressed when they are small become huge, explosive, and damaging.

I realize not all people go to a relational church. I have had people share with me that they have never met their pastor or that their pastor would not recognize them on the street. (This blows my mind)

However, if you go to a relational, smaller church and you feel you need to move on …. consider it as a break up and talk it through. Keep unity even if you’re not staying in the church.

Far too many people leave a church for another church like they decided to start going to Wendy’s instead of McDonalds for their hamburgers. Don’t be a consumer.

Leave with love, communication, and unity.

Random Thoughts.

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TSF is Changing

This sermon serves as two studies….

The first 30 mins are a study of a day in the life of Jesus that teaches us four important steps on how to find God’s will in our lives. If you feel stuck in a rut, have a big decision to make, or want to find God’s purpose…. this is a great study for you.

The sermon also lays a foundation for the last twenty minutes of the podcast which covers what we mean when we say, “TSF is Changing”. As we enter into the summer months, we start a season of following this pattern of Jesus to find what God has for us next.

If you are a Fellowshiper, we encourage you to watch the entire podcast this week so you are ready as we enter into this time of communication, listening, and seeking together.

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This is the last in a three week study on heroes of our faith who also happen to be women. We have looked at how to stand strong where God positions us through the life of Esther. We were encouraged on how to position ourselves for God’s provision through the life of Ruth. Now, we dig into the life of Rahab to learn how to make a difference in spite of past sin and/ or social status!

How does a gentile prostitute from a heathen nation become a hero of our faith? What does her life choices mean to us today? Join us as we celebrate how God uses the “least of these” including us!

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Psalm One

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Psalm One – ESV

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, 
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.”

The first chapter of Psalm reminds us that there are two different ways to be living; the ways of the world and the ways of the Lord. They are contrary to one another and set us on two different paths to two different destinations.

The ways of the world often leads us to more struggle, bondage, and pain. The Lord is wanting to lead us to freedom and life.

Consider some of the words that the author gives us about living like the rest of the world. It says if we live by the “counsel of the wicked” (the way we think/ human logic), “stand in the way of sinners” (make our stand in this world), and ” sit in the seat of scoffers” (become comfortable with the ways of man), then we will lose our passion and purpose. He compares it to like chaff that will perish and blow away.

However, he points to the alternative as an option that leads to a life of more! One where you do not wither, you yield fruit, and are constantly nourished like a rock hard tree planted by streams of water! There is even a promise that comes with this … “In all he does, he prospers.”

That sounds really good! Yet, many of us still struggle. Why? I believe it is because we were taught, raised in, and surrounded by a thought process that does not match up to the ways of the Lord. There is a great deal that falls under the title of logic, wisdom, and “that’s just the way things are” that really don’t match up to God’s ways. So, how do we find the better way when we are so used to life as we know it?

We find the answer in the Psalm itself… “delight in the law of the Lord, and on His law meditate day and night”. The Word of God reveals to us the thoughts, ways, and directions of God! Many of us know the general feel of the Bible. Many of us have our favorite sections and maybe a couple sections we try to avoid. However, to really be able to counter the thoughts of this world that are our “norm”, we must be digging into the Word, reflecting on the Word, following the Word, and being encouraged by the Word.

There is so much more than the Bible telling you to try to be a good person. His Word is a stream that you are able to take root into and find life! You can not keep mixing a little of Jesus and a little of the world to try to get through. The way of the world is perishing, the way of the righteous is known by the Lord!

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Brennan Manning

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Is you think the testimony of Ruth is about a little lady needing rescued by a man, you are missing the whole point!

As we study the life of Ruth, we find an example of a strong hero of our faith that made bold decisions based on faith that led her to God’s provision in her life. She not only found redemption for herself but was grafted into the story of redemption for all people! In you are struggling today, check out this study concerning one who you can learn from. To most, Ruth have seemed a simple woman of meager resources but she teaches us how to live to be strong in faith!

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