Jesus at the Center

As Christmas is upon us it’s hard not to notice the lights, decorations and all of the hard work we put into making everything look just perfect for the holidays. One thing that always stands out to me is the nativity scene. It seems that there just aren’t quite as many set up as there used to be. The thing I love about the nativity scene is that Jesus is always in the center…and all eyes are on Him.
 
 
 
This is a great reminder to me. Through all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the most important thing now (and always) is placing Jesus at the center of all we are and all we do.

I want Jesus to be the center of everything…
the center of my life
the center of my family’s life
the center of the Church
the center of my work

We live in a world with so many distractions… and let’s not forget our adversary,

who loves to use those distractions to try and pull us a way from Jesus.

 

One distraction I have found to be a hindrance- a roadblock- in my Christ-centered life is getting involved with too much. Being too busy can be a tool the enemy uses, and one that is a common struggle for most people. Personally, I’m active in a lot of different groups, meetings at work and at church. All the things I’m a part of are great causes and have great meaning, but the tasks and time that each one of those things takes can take over my true purpose very quickly.

I have found, when I try and put an order of importance on my priorities and stick to that order, I sometimes fail miserably.

I tend to allow all these good, meaningful things to become the center of what I am doing instead of Christ being the center of all I do.
There is a difference.

 
Through God’s grace in my life, I’ve also discovered this: when I place Jesus at the very center,
my priorities are set by God as he shapes me into who He wants me to be.
 
I encourage all of us to take a step back this Christmas and holiday season. Take a step back and allow Jesus to be the center of it all.
Only we can do this for ourselves, and when we do, we can truly thank God for His amazing generosity by sending us His one and only Son.
 
Make this your prayer while you listen to Israel Houghton’s song “Jesus at the Center.”
 
Author:
Christ Follower, Husband, Dad
Worship Leader, Faith Assembly
 

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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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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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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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