Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.  
Matthew 11: 28-30
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Intentional Spirituality | Focused Meditation

On my hour or so drive to work, I often recite a medley of various scripture verses that begins with Psalm 1.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on it he meditates daily…

I try to avoid recitation of the scripture becoming just part of my driving routine.

 

To help with this, I meditate on the words to understand better what God intended in giving them to us.

Pastor Jon would say, “Let them marinate.”

 
No matter how many times I recite the first two verses of Psalm 1, I always find it fascinating (and incredibly helpful) to be reminded how the subtle progression of sin can take over our lives. Of course this includes my own life, to the point of even becoming comfortable with it.
 
Take a look at this progression as shown in this Psalm, using physical activity and the laws of physics:
 
Psalm 1 speaks to a person first walking, then standing, then sitting.
When we walk we can decide to move left or right, or even turn around with our momentum requiring less energy to change direction.
But then we stand, requiring a bit more energy to get moving again.
Finally, when we sit down, it takes even more energy to get up and get moving.
 

So too is the progression of sin. It can look like this:

 
  1. We look to the crowd- the world- and start listening to their advice (…council of the wicked)
  2. We justify wrong behaviors, instead of evaluating the advice of God’s absolute Truth
  3. We begin to slow down, stop to accept the advice, believe all the lies and do what the ungodly do (…stand in the same way as sinners)
  4. After sinning repeatedly and ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we begin to sit comfortably in the sin, justifying behavior we know is wrong and often even begin to defend the behavior to others or in secret (…sit in the seat of mockers)

 

But then Psalm 1:2 goes on to say …but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on it he meditates daily. So while the Psalm warns about the propensity for sin to creep in to our daily lives, verse 2 tells us that by being in the Word (the Bible) we delight in the law of the Lord.

This means that by being in the Word consistently, we are directly connected to the Source of Life itself.

We are not just understanding absolute Truth, but actually delighting in it!

 
The other critical aspect of this verse is meditating on it every day.
Making the time- and being consistently intentional- is crucial, and is also hard because it takes discipline.
 

Eighteen years ago I didn’t look forward to my long drive to work, but I can now say that this drive continues to be a real blessing. It has provided the time I may not have otherwise carved out for my daily spiritual feeding and meditation. My time in the car encourages my intentional and focused discipline and draws me closer to my Savior.

We eat physical food each day to stay physically nourished. How much more important is our spiritual nourishment!
How do you carve out time from your busy schedules for your spiritual feeding?
 
Author:
Randy Ortgiesen is a Husband, Father and Grandfather
who loves Jesus and serves as an Elder at Faith Assembly.

 

 


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Living in the Light

Recently I was leading our congregation in the old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
I’ve always been intrigued by a particular phrase in verse 1.
 
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changes not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be
 
There is no shadow of turning with God.
Think about that for a minute.
 
 
A shadow is formed when an object blocks another light source.
This means there has to be an external light source in order for a shadow to be created.

 

There is no light source other than God. He is the source.
There is no shadow when He turns.
There is no other source of Light and Truth.
He is constant, everlasting, and never-changing.
Without Him, there is only darkness… not even a shadow!

Mind. Blown.
 

Consider James 1: 17

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
 

…or I John 1: 5-6

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.
 

So what does it mean then; to live, to worship, to embrace His light?

 

When we live and worship in the shadows, it may look a little something like this:

Living in fear, shame or regret
Faking it, in fear of being fully and honestly known
Denial of our own character flaws & how they impact others
Sweeping issues under the rug, hoping they’ll go away
Judging others, while ignoring our own secret stuff
Creating unnecessary drama or conflict
 

When we live and worship in the Light, it may look a little something like this:

Choosing to live in honesty, tempered with love & compassion
Embracing God’s grace and forgiveness, and extending that to others
Allowing for vulnerability & relationship, with ourselves and others
Realizing none of us are perfect, only humans saved by an incredible, merciful God
Exposing the lies we believe & replacing them with the light of Truth
Extending love, grace and peace to others

When we truly believe the concept that we are not the Source of Light and Truth- only God is-

we can then understand that we are mere reflections of His light.

 

We don’t have to perform. We don’t have to be harsh with ourselves or others.
We simply reflect Him.

It sure takes the pressure off doesn’t it?
 

But here’s the other thing: it also takes effort on our part… the practicing the Truth part.

Uh oh.
 
It takes digging into His Word, meditating on His Truth and intentional abiding in Christ.
It takes a whole lot of honesty and humble introspection.
It takes letting the Spirit reveal the Truth to us and embracing it deep in our souls.
It takes practice to flesh it out in our real lives, not just in our heads.
 
So I ask you dear friend, what are you reflecting?
 
P.S. I love this version of the hymn. Check it out!

 
 
Author: Michelle Marx
You can read more of Michelle’s writing on her personal blog PianoGirlSpeaks,
or for Seedbed.com.

 

 

 

 


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Everyone Needs Compassion

“Everyone needs compassion” are the first lyrics in Chris Tomlin’s
song “Mighty to Save.”
This word “Compassion” has really become a focal point for
me over the past 10 years.
I think about our compassion for others and Christ’s compassion for us.
 

How many times a day do we receive grace?

How many times a day does God look at us with compassion and mercy?

The answer is an emphatic…Unending!

 

We can look throughout the Bible and see God’s compassion in the Old Testament and Christ’s compassion in the New Testament. Through Christ, we can see a living example of what compassion is supposed to look like.

God has worked on my heart to be more compassionate. What better way to show the love Christ to others then to be compassionate towards everyone? Not just the people that are easy to get along with, but those we don’t always see eye to eye with.

Ephesians 4:32 says

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
 

We have a tendency to be quick to judge and condemn just because someone isn’t living the way we are living or doing the things we are doing. Through all of the negativity, political differences and racial tensions that seem to divide our country; is it possible we can let compassion and the love of Christ shine through what we say and do? Let’s put those things aside and be compassionate to all.

1 Peter 3:8 tells us to

…be like minded, be sympathetic, love one another, compassionate and humble.
 

One of God’s challenges for us today- and every day- is to love one another and show compassion to those hurting and in need.

Take a listen to this Hillsong version of the song, and join me in this compassion journey.
 
Author:
Ryan Bivins
Worship Leader, Faith Assembly

 

 

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Thankful In All Things

Well, it’s that time of year again!
 
We gather with family, eat more than we should, laugh and talk around the table sharing memories…
what a wonderful effect celebrating Thanksgiving can have on us.
 
 
 Many people, including myself, will reflect on the things in their life that they are thankful for:
Our spouse
Our children
Our parents
Our siblings
Our jobs
All the necessities of life
and the list
goes
on…
 
I know as Christians we want to be thankful, but at times people or circumstances can make it difficult to accomplish.
Lord help us!
 

Colossians 3:15 says,

…and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you are called in one body, and be thankful.
 

Psalms 100: 4-5 says,

…enter His gates with thanksgiving and to enter His courts with praise, be thankful unto Him and bless His holy name.
 

God calls us to be thankful in all things, at all times, because of His great provision and love for us.

His care covers us, sustains us, and carries us through challenges in life that call us to thankfulness.

When we look at how He provides for us, we see His hand of provision through

every circumstance that faces us daily.

 
I want to encourage us to look at the things we encounter every day and give thanks for all the things the Lord is doing in our lives.
Let’s try every day to think of things to honor the Lord, allowing us to give Him thanks for all things.
 

It is amazing how the Lord works!

I started this blog last week just to find myself challenged to be thankful every day. This week has been a real test for me, but with God’s grace I am bound and determined to practice thankfulness continually.

 

With God’s help, you can too.
 
Author:
Ken Drew
Jesus Follower, Husband, Father, Grandfather and Elder at Faith Assembly

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Discovering Jesus, the Real Deal

I often have conversations with people seeking to understand my story in discovering Jesus.
 
Frequently, I get this specific question: 
How do you know your religion is real?
 
My answer always gets me excited because it reminds me of my own search.
 
The answer without hesitation is this:

Christianity isn’t a religion as much as it is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 
Jesus is the only person in any religion that is still alive and was raised from the dead by God, proving everything he said when on this earth. He was seen by over 500 people after the resurrection. This happened only a little over 2000 years ago. This miracle- and many others God did through Jesus in his 3 years of ministry- is not only documented in the Bible, but also confirmed by secular historians of that day.
 
1 Corinthians 15 speaks to this.
 

The evidence of the Bible being true, from an archaeological standpoint, is another way one can know Christianity is real. Even as recent as the last decade, locations (and types of destruction of Biblical cities/Biblical events) have been discovered and unearthed.

A few of many examples:

The walls of Jericho falling in- instead of out- when God’s people marched on the city and the walls tumbled down. Based on the type of wall construction, it was a miracle for them to fall in (not out) at that very moment in history.

Prophecy fulfilled as God used the prophets of the Old Testament to predict hundreds of events that would take place in the future… and some of them thousands of years later. The most notable prophecies are about Jesus. It was foretold where he would be born, what family line, how he would die, and how he would be raised from the dead in three days. Powerful stuff!

Lastly, and maybe most convincing to others that know us, are changed lives.

 

When the Holy Spirit draws us, repentance takes place and we submit to God’s Lordship over our lives. We accept Jesus as our personal savior; this is our new birth and call to action to work out the salvation that God, through Jesus, has worked into us.

An important part of that call to action is being prepared to tell your story.

 
Since God is in it, it is the best story you could ever tell.
 

God will use your story powerfully as you share how Jesus is the real deal in your life.

 
So friends, tell it boldly and confidently.
 
Author:  
Randy Ortgiesen is a Husband, Father and Grandfather
who loves Jesus and serves as an Elder at Faith Assembly.

 


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Prayers for Our Children (With a Little Help From Paul)

Parents tend to pray for their children,
no matter what religion they may or may not profess.
I’ve met parents of dozens of different nationalities,
religions and philosophical backgrounds.
One thing we all have in common is deep concern for our children.
 
It’s interesting that somewhere along the way, it seems to be innate that our concern for them often turns to prayer for them.
It often seems it’s the God of the Bible and Christianity that parents turn to even if they haven’t had a personal history believing in Him.
 
In Ephesians 1: 15-23, Paul is praying for the Ephesian believers.
The following points warm my heart when thinking in terms of praying for our children:
That God would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in their knowledge of Him.
(vs. 17)
That the eyes of their hearts would be opened so that they’d know the hope of His calling of them.
(vs. 18)
That they’d know the surpassing greatness of His power toward those who believe in Him.
(vs. 19)
 
That these things are done in their lives by the same power and strength that God used to raise Jesus from the dead. (vs. 19 – 20)
 
It would seem to be a parent’s job to lay awake at night with concern for our kids.
Let me encourage you to turn those moments into praying moments.
Borrowing Paul’s prayer when we pray for our children elevates what we’re praying for them;
from the circumstances of their lives, to the condition of their lives.
 
And, perhaps God’s involvement in their lives is not a matter of mere religion,
but an actual relationship as we pray they’d come to really know Him.
 
What’s more, you may be surprised how praying this prayer will change your life as well.
After all, God knows that change starts with us. 
 
Pastor Jon is Lead Pastor at Faith Assembly

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I’m So Busy!

How many times have we used these statements?

I’m so busy!
My life is so hectic!
I have NO time!
 
I am as guilty as anyone else.

The Lord has been speaking to me lately about how to use my time more wisely. It seems our time is consumed by many things in our everyday life; running kids to soccer practice or games, working on things around the house, personal appointments… oh, and let’s not forget about work.

We obviously have many things vying for our time. I know we should, and even need, to do these things.

How about the times our busy lives affect our Bible reading or we don’t spend enough time in prayer? Then there are the times we can’t help in a church ministry because our time is so stretched, or we can’t help someone in need in our church or our neighbors.
I’m sure there are many more on this “can’t do” list.
 
Psalm 28:7 says

The Lord is my strength and shield… my heart trusts in him and he helps me.

In the Bible, we read many stories where Jesus made time for those in need-

whatever and whenever the need might have been.

 

Jesus took time to…

Teach (Matt 21:23)
Heal (Mark 5:21 – 40)
Feed (Mark 6:30)
Witness (John 8:14-18)
 
I came across this quote on the internet I haven’t forgotten:
(author unknown)

God does not call people as a favor, but because He has something for them to do.

 

What is God calling me to do today? What is God calling you to do today?

Let us all be open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Let us all start today to make the Lord the focal point in our lives and allow Him to work through us… then walk in His leading.
 
Let’s not wait.

When the Lord speaks to us about something he wants us to do, let’s take time to say:

Lord, use me in whatever way you want.

 
Author:
Ken Drew
Jesus Follower, Husband, Father, Grandfather and Elder at Faith Assembly

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In the Eye of the Storm

As a worship leader, I can’t help but take the old or new songs and apply them to my life. It’s something God has used to not only draw me closer, but also to reflect on and help me through difficult times.
 

In my life currently, God has used Ryan Stevenson’s song “In the Eye of the Storm” to help me through a very difficult situation. Not only am I experiencing some trying times, but our country too, along with those severely impacted by hurricanes and natural disasters.

 
In recent days, I have been pointed to Psalm 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life of – whom shall I be afraid?

 
We all have real struggles in life, things that are tragic and hard to deal with.
God tells us in His Word that his promise still stands and He is the stronghold in our lives.
God is with us in the dark moments…the moments we feel alone.

 

The chorus of “In the Eye of the Storm” goes like this:
In the eye of the storm, You remain in control
In the middle of the war, You guard my soul
You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn
Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm
 

Are you experiencing troubled times or difficult situations today?

Be encouraged by this song and know that God is in control of every storm in life we face.

He is our light and salvation…our stronghold in the storm.

 
You can check out the song via YouTube below.
 

Click for video

 
Author:
Ryan Bivins
Worship Leader, Faith Assembly

 


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Defining Truth

Truth as defined by Webster is that which is true and in accordance with fact or reality; accurate or exact.
 
In the 1828 yearly edition of Webster, definition for the word truth even quotes Jesus in the gospel of John stating “Sanctify them by your truth father, your word is truth.”
 
The Bible states, “If teaching or advice is true, then it will agree with the words of Jesus. Luke 9:35
 
Disciples Peter, James and John actually heard God audibly at Jesus baptism,
“This is my son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased, listen to Him.”
 

These days, we often hear statements like “Truth is what I define it to be.”

 
Regrettably, comments like these are a common way of thinking… that each of us can define our own truth.
This comes from a belief that truth is not an absolute, but rather relative to an individual’s way of thinking.
Without absolutes, right and wrong can not only be defined however we want it, but can change when convenient.
 
Perhaps we believe it’s okay to steal since it is needed, it’s okay to lie if we don’t get caught or
it’s okay to view inappropriate things on a computer since it’s private. I say no. No, no, a thousand times no!
Until we discover God’s truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit, this can be seemingly acceptable behavior.
 
All truth is God’s truth. He doesn’t use it to hold us back, but to create loving boundaries for our good.
 
God provides the absolutes for living a life that is not only pleasing to Him, but also contributes to a healthy society. Without moral absolutes, actions become chaotic and each person lives only for themselves. Acting on truth is a choice, and like many choices God allows us to make influences how we interact with people and God. If we agree it is only God’s Word that reveals truth, then we behave one way and it is noticeable. If our behavior is not based on God’s truth, this too is noticeable…. by a spouse, by a child, by employers and by God.
 

So how do we define truth? Not by the world’s standards,

what our friends say or what’s fed to us by the media.

Only by the Word of God.

 
As Christ followers, let’s tighten the Belt of Truth and put on the Armor of God!
We can’t act on truth- or even model it- until we personally discover it, and then choose to do what is right.
 
Author:  Randy Ortgiesen is a Husband, Father and Grandfather
who loves Jesus and serves as an Elder at Faith Assembly.

 


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A Stone of Remembrance

Everyone experiences moments in life that are big.

Birthdays like… 13 (finally a teenager!) 16 (now I can drive!) 18 (I’m an adult!)
Graduations & new jobs
Wedding day & new homes
The birth of your first child & raising a family
All those same milestones with your children and grandchildren
Your own life transitions and eventually, retirement

It seems that our church is in the middle of one of these types of moments right now as we’re working through the purchase of a new campus for our grade school.

 
 
What about moments that mark other big personal life changes?
Reaching a major life goal
Paying off your house
Getting a promotion
Discovering a new thing about yourself
Experiencing deep personal healing
Restoring a lost relationship
 

It seems that the biggest life moments tend to center around the deeper and more personal things. They shape our lives and create the deepest memories.

 
Sometimes they can be harder to talk about, and sometimes we can’t wait to stand on a roof and crow. They are the moments that tend to mark the change from what was to what has become. The last thing we want to do is go back to the old life of what was.
 

In Joshua 3 & 4, we find the story of Israel crossing the Jordan River on their way into the Promised Land. This moment marked the end of two eras in Israel’s painful history: 400 years of slavery in Egypt and 40 years of desert wandering. This particular generation of people was well acquainted with the on-going pains of desert life; food and water were a constant concern, safety from dangerous neighbors plagued them and a continual sensation of not belonging anywhere reminded them they still had not found home.

God told them to cross the Jordan River with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant. Joshua describes the waters immediately receding as far north as the city of Adam (15 miles upriver), as well as all the tributary streams down river toward the Salt Sea (Dead Sea). By the way, the river was already at flood stage as always at this time of year.

While crossing, Joshua picked up 12 stones from the middle of the river and built an altar of thanks to the Lord in the exact place the priests were standing, while all Israel crossed in front of them on dry ground. He also ordered the leaders of Israel to pick up 12 more stones in order to build another altar of thanks after they finished crossing. That altar was built near the city of Gilgal.
 
Joshua named this altar a “Stone of Remembrance” to remind Israel that what was will never be again, and what has become
is now their new freedom.
 
The “Stone of Remembrance” was a permanent symbol of God’s faithfulness.
It visually showed that…
God provided through their painful hardships
God declared they had come to their place of promise and freedom
God provided a reminder that freedom deserves reverence
God provided a visible barrier to never return to the way things were.
 

Mark your big moments with a “Stone of Remembrance.”
Raise it so it’s plainly visible in your life and home. Keep it as a reminder that by God’s grace, You will never return to the way things were.

 
Author: Jon Marx, Lead Pastor at Faith Assembly
 
 

 


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Grace in the Grey

 

It would be nice if the world were always black or white, where issues and circumstances were either one way or the other,
right or wrong, good or bad and so on…life just might be easier to navigate.
 
Don’t misunderstand, I do believe there are absolutes in this world.
Good and evil. Right and wrong. I believe this with every fiber of my being.
I also believe that these things are instilled deep inside of us.
Things such as a true sense of justice, crimes that turn our stomachs
and leave no doubt in our mind, actions and words that hurt, steal or wound.
 
 
There are all kinds of right and wrong… pretty obvious ones.
 
I believe that God himself created us to know it.

But while there are black and white issues in the world,

there are also circumstances that live somewhere between the black and white.

Somewhere in the blur of the grey.

 

We don’t typically like the grey.
The grey is nebulous. The grey doesn’t offer quick and easy answers.
The grey can present itself suddenly, or very slowly over time.
And the grey isn’t always wrong…or always right.
There isn’t always a cut and dried practical, logical, or spiritual answer.
One of the problems with human nature is that we are often too quick to jump to conclusions about other people and their grey.
Too quick to look at a situation we think we know a little something about and call it black or white.
Too often, I’ve witnessed people quoting scripture to “prove” their judgement of what they perceive
as right or wrong…for everyone else but themselves.
 
Without knowing all the facts.
Without walking in their shoes.
Without understanding their journey.
Without, well… grace.

Truth is, real life is lived in a variety of colors.

Remember when you were a kid playing with watercolor?
Sometimes when certain colors were mixed- or mixed too much-
they would blur together to make a not-so-pretty, unattractive mess.
Sometimes our life is like that. Messy. Okay, maybe more than sometimes!
 
 
This is where grace comes in.

The loving them through it part.

Giving people grace and time to work through their grey, even if you don’t agree and even if it’s not on your timetable.
And guess what, that includes

grace for you.

If God offers us His grace and love to lavishly, who are we to not offer that same grace to ourselves and others?
And the beautiful thing is that Jesus- the one who entered our fallen grey state- is also in our grey even now,
working on our behalf, gently leading us into clarity… and eventually, full color.
 
I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
Psalm 94:18-19
 
 Author:  Michelle Marx
You can read more of Michelle’s writing on her personal blog PianoGirlSpeaks,
or often under the topic of Soul Care for Seedbed.com.

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