Take a Look in the Mirror

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There is something that I do every morning before leaving the house that will make or break the day. I eat breakfast, take a shower, spend time with the family before we begin our days. While these are very important, I must make sure to check myself over in the mirror. It’s here that I discover whether or not my hair looks good or whether there’s a piece of food stuck in my teeth. I can take inventory on my appearance simply by gazing into this piece of glass. 

While some people hate looking at themselves in the mirror, I do believe that there are some great benefits to this self-examination. It is through this self-examination that we are reminded of who God has created us to be. But I fear that many of us don’t take this opportunity to understand, appreciate, and value the very person that God has created us to be. My friends, it’s time to take a look in the mirror and see ourselves accurately in the way that God has designed. 

The Apostle Peter wrote his two letters to a church that was scattered everywhere and enduring some terrible persecutions. Because of this, some of the people were forgetting their identity. Peter took the opportunity to hand them a mirror, so they could see and be reminded. God is doing the same for us today—this is who Jesus says you are: 

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10) 

Church family, this is who you are. You have been given an identity in Christ, you have been chosen by God to be His holy people. You are special. You have been created with and for a purpose. We can be sure of that. And if at any time you doubt this, make sure to turn back to His word so that Jesus Himself can hold the mirror while you take a good look at who God has created. 

Life 2019

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It is hard to believe that some of our Circle Drive Students will be headed to Life 2019 almost a year from now! The Life Conference is put together by our denomination, The Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), every three years for our youth throughout the country. There will be around 8,000-10,000 teenagers from different Alliance youth groups in one place to worship, grow, and serve God together as one family. 

The theme for Life 2019 is "Awakened," ie: "awakened to an amazing Life in and through Jesus."1 Top Notch Speakers and Christian Artists will be there for the purpose of "Awakening" the next generation. They will do this by showing them that God wants to use them now, and that there is an entire nation of believers just like them. It is the desire of the leaders and speakers of the Life Conference to see the power of the Holy Spirit "Awaken" our students to what the Lord is trying to show them in their lives and to "Awaken" them to the potential that God has given them to make a lasting impact on this world. 

Many other things happen on these trips. It will give another youth leader and myself a chance to further our connections with the students. We will be spending a week together worshipping, serving, and talking about God. There will be opportunities to discuss what is going on in their lives and what they think God wants them to do. This Conference is a time where God may use this event to open their minds and hearts to Him. After returning from Life, we as a church get the privilege of continuing to disciple the Next Generation of students, who desire to live a life for God! 

Thank you for partnering with Circle Drive as we take this step to invest in these students. 

Please be praying for the youth, that God will begin to work in their lives NOW by preparing their hearts for what He wants to show them and that we will see fully devoted followers of Christ growing and going forth from our church. May God "Awaken" the lives of the Next Generation so that they may come to know Jesus, thrive in their relationship with Him, begin to do more for Him, and launch new disciples for Jesus. 

Pray also about how you might financially assist these students as they work to raise funding to go. 

All for Jesus, Pastor Moe 

1 Boal, Dan, National C&MA Youth Director 

Summer in the Psalms

I love how each book of the Bible encapsulates an aspect of our walk with Jesus. Some of the books display the stories of how God works in the lives of people. Others display the heroic stories of faith and how God overcomes all things. Others display the doctrine and theology that we need to grasp to understand who God is, all that God has done and promises to do for us. We also see books of Scripture that capture the human condition in our walks with God. 

One such book is the book of Psalms. If you’re not familiar with this book, the book of Psalms is a collection of 150 psalms (songs) that were written by a variety of people, most notably King David. In these psalms we find people singing about a huge range of emotions and circumstances. What is it like to worship God when we feel alone? How do we carry on when everything seems stacked against us? How do we celebrate and worship God? Where do we run when the things of life get hard? How do we face issues of loneliness, pride, self-worth, value, love, and how do these transcend to our relationship with Jesus? The book of Psalms is a treasure-trove of our connection with our Savior. 

Summer in the Psalms. Beginning on Sunday, June 10th, we will look at different psalms and glean from our forefathers the important lessons on how to walk this life of faith. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see God work powerfully in our lives as we learn how to seek Him in and through every circumstance. Make sure to pray about who you will invite to be a part of this series and pray that God would draw you closer to Him through it. You won’t want to miss this Summer in the Psalms. 

Circle Drive Students Update

What does the youth group do on a Sunday Night?
A typical Sunday night looks like this: announcements, games, worship, a brief message, and then we break into small groups to go over the message. 

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Why is it important that parents and church people know what we are talking about in Youth Group?
It is important for them to know so that they can be praying for the students, asking God to work in their lives. As a parent, this also gives you an opportunity to ask your teenager specifically what they learned that night. Knowing what we are talking about will also give anyone that is building a rapport with a student a chance to speak to them about what they are learning. 

What are we studying now?
We started a new four-week series on Faith, specifically Grace and how it is crucial to your Faith. Last Sunday we unpacked what Grace means and what Faith means and then we dove into how Grace does impact your Faith. During this study I have seen God work in my own life. God's Grace is something given to us even though we do not deserve it. We have never earned it, nor will we ever be able to earn it. John Stott defines it this way, "Grace is love that stoops and cares and rescues, " and I would like to add even though we don't deserve it. Stop and think about this definition for a minute. Who stooped down for us, cared for us, and rescued us? Jesus did, and not one of us deserves this sacrificial act! This term and the power of its meaning brought me often to my knees this week, and I pray that it impacts the youth and you in the same way that it impacted me. 

Grace is essential to our Faith (our trust, or belief in God) because there will be times in our lives where we may have doubts, there will be days when life is hard, and we begin to think, "Does God love me?" It's at this time when God steps in and reminds us of His Grace. He saved us from our sins, and Hell, even though we don't deserve it. He sacrificed His only Son so that we could be saved. If we can remember God's Grace in our doubts, fears and hard times, then we will remain strong in our Faith. 

Ephesians 2:8-9: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." 

Water Your Grass

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Have you heard the expression, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?” I would imagine that many of you have. There are times in life when we look at our own lives and for some reason or another conclude that others have it better than we do. They have a better family. A better job. Better cars. A nicer boat. Better relationships. Their “yard” is the picture of what we see on HGTV, while we feel that ours looks like a picture from Kansas during the Dust Bowl from the Great Depression era! So, what do we want? We want green grass! We want their yard! 

There are many lessons to learn from this illustration. The most obvious lesson is the danger of coveting; desiring that which belongs to another. It is very dangerous, and Scripture warns us against this. While this could be an entire letter in itself, I think that there’s another struggle that we face in this illustration. The main issue is that we need to take some time to examine why our grass isn’t quite as green. Friends, if you want green, healthy grass, it needs WATER! You must water your own grass for it to be healthy. 

Our new message series is entitled, “Water Your Grass.” We are going to take the month of May to identify areas in our lives, whether spiritual, physical, or emotional, that need to have care. As believers in Jesus, this needs to be of paramount importance. We must care for that which has been entrusted to us by God, culminating in the response of the psalmist from Psalm 35:9, “Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in my salvation.” This verse sums up what a “well-watered lawn” looks like—one that rejoices in God! 

As we look towards this series, I invite you to pray about the areas of your life that need some water. Pay attention to the areas that God shows you and be careful not to reject what He shows you, even if you don’t agree. God longs for soul care. I can’t wait to see what Jesus will do during this next season as we take care of the grass on our side of the fence. 

The Baby With the Bathwater

Do you like to get new things? There is such a thrill whenever we get something new. There’s nothing like slipping on a new pair of shoes for the first time or the smell that comes from the first ride in a new car or experimenting with the amazing things that my new iPhone can do. Adults aren’t the only ones who love new things. My children love new things; their faces completely light up whenever they get a new toy or game or when my daughter gets a new outfit. We all love new things! 

This idea of new is better isn’t simply left to our society, but the Church seems to buy into this as well. We love new ways of doing things, singing new worship songs, new dress styles, and involving technology into our worship services. It is good to do new things! The church should like things that are new and fresh. In fact, the Psalmist writes in Psalm 96:1 that we should, “sing to the LORD a new song.” New is good. 

While new is good, when did we come to the thought that the old is bad or inferior? When did modern methodology replace ancient theology? One of our problems is that we tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Friends, just because something is old doesn’t mean it is bad. Yes, we need new ideas and songs and methods, but that doesn’t mean we abandon the things that still work and are still relevant. We need to strive for growth, and that growth requires a foundation that was laid by the generations before. 

So how can we make this dichotomy work? Let me give you 3 suggestions. 

  • Read books by Dead People. I know what you’re thinking. I probably had the same thoughts the first time I heard this statement. But the truth in it is amazing. The generations before us had the same issues and struggles in their walks with God. When we read through how they handled these issues, we gain such a wealth of wisdom. Read books by St. Augustine, the Westminster Catechism, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, A.B. Simpson, etc. 
  • Be Open to New Ideas. When was the last time you prayed for a new passion or vision or desire? When was the last time you sang a new song or experienced something out of your spiritual comfort zone? Realize that by being open to new ideas, you don’t have to abandon the old. Simply build on the foundation that God is laying for you. 
  • Choose What Benefits. There’s really good old things, but also old things that should be left. There are great new songs, but some that should be left alone. Make sure that everything lines up with Scripture and is profitable. 

I pray these will be helpful to you. 

I find that the quote attributed to St. Augustine is very applicable to our discussion of old v. new. He writes, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things charity.” May God bless us as we continue to seek after Him! 

Christ Our Healer

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Spring is technically here, and Easter is on our minds. It is a time where we reflect on Christ, what He has done for us through His death and resurrection. We often think about the atonement at this time, which is what Christ did for us with His sacrifice, death, and resurrection so that we could be made right before God. This leads us to focus on Christ as our Savior, but what about Christ as our Healer? 

Scripture makes it evident to us that Divine Healing is from Jesus and His "substitutionary atonement", (His sacrifice for us to make us right with God). We see this in Isaiah 53:5, which was foretold about Christ at least 400 years before He was born, "But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed." The Apostle Peter also talks about the atonement being linked to healing us when he says, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”. 1 

This Easter as you celebrate Christ's death and resurrection remember that when He shed His blood on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead that He not only saved us eternally from our sins, but through the atonement, He has healed us from our spiritual and physical sicknesses if we seek Him as our healer. 

So this month as you reflect on Christ remember that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."1 Which means that He can heal you of any sin that you need to overcome, or addiction, and He can heal you in your physical sicknesses if He would chose to do so, just like He did in the Gospels. He loves you, and you can come to Him with confidence in His healing power if you seek healing through what Christ did through the atonement. 

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1 1Peter 2:24 ESV 

1 Hebrews 13:8 ESV 

Preparation for Easter

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Lent is the time of preparation and reflection before Easter. During this time, we take time to draw near to Jesus and contemplate the incredible love, grace, and hope displayed on the cross of Calvary and through the Resurrection the following Sunday! This year, we were challenged to prepare and reflect on the message of Easter as we took the 45-Day Challenge through the Gospels. I am absolutely loving this journey and pray that Jesus would show you more and more about who He is as we undertake this journey together. 

We are now just about half-way through this challenge. I trust that you’re finding this experience rewarding. Reading Scripture never disappoints. The Bible is God’s Holy Word written directly to us. In it He speaks of great truths, messages of encouragement, and hope for a life spent with Him. While reading Scripture to know God more is a good idea, it’s not the real purpose of reading Scripture. I want to give you 3 things that take place when we read Scripture that go far above simple knowledge. 

  • We Read Scripture so that Jesus Can Transform Us. Simple knowledge isn’t good enough. If we were after knowledge, the Bible would be a textbook. But in fact, we see that the Word of God is used to make us into a new being; one that has encountered the True God and is being made like Him.
  • We Read Scripture so that Jesus Can Equip Us. The purpose of the message series, Knowing Jesus, is taking the opportunity for Scripture to impart life lessons on how Jesus would handle the situations in life so that our attitudes and actions glorify Jesus and draw others closer as well. May we be thoroughly equipped (2 Tim. 3:16-17) 
  • We Read Scripture so that We Can Be Encouraged. We all need encouragement. We all face difficult situations in life that cause us to question whether following Jesus is worth the trouble. But when we look to Scripture, we see the testimony of God’s faithfulness. He was faithful to believers of the past—ministering in times of distress and oppression. He is faithful to believers now and will continue to be in the future. One of the most encouraging things we see in Scripture is that Jesus tells us how everything ends—He wins. Sin is defeated, and an eternity awaits us. What can be more encouraging to our perseverance than knowing it all works out! 

This is what Scripture does. 

I want to encourage you to continue in seeking Jesus through the Scriptures. If you’ve fallen off the wagon of the 45-Day Challenge, let me encourage you to get back into Scripture. It’s never too late. God longs to transform you through the Word. 

Under God’s Authority

Rules. We all hate them. The times when I struggled with them the most were primarily when I was a teenager. Not only are there rules but there is, beyond that, the authority figures, who make the rules! 

Most of us have stories of when we have not followed the rules that an authority has set before us. I will never forget when I was a senior in High School, and experienced one of these times. My friend and I had just dropped off someone, and as we were driving away from his house, I remembered that the road coming up was a very steep hill with a sharp drop off. Now, this was in a residential neighborhood, and the speed limit was a low speed, and there were warning signs about going too fast because of the sharp drop off. However, in my head, there were visions of glorious airtime, and the Dukes of Hazard theme song played in my head as my comrade and I would soar through the air to new heights! 

Ignoring all the warnings and rules placed by Authority (the Town and the DMV) I sped off excited about my future as" Bo Duke." The car went flying off the drop-off, and we got some significant air -time! But, and this is a BIG BUT, I didn't realize that the incline on that road did not go straight but, rather, turned! Instead of landing on the street, the car dropped from the air to land on the sidewalk, taking out a mailbox and getting a flat tire! 

Many times in our lives we think that the rules and authorities in our lives are there to take all our freedom from us, or that they are out to get us. But as believers in Christ, we need to understand that this is not what God wants from us. God tells us that we are to be under the authorities that He has placed in our lives and by submitting to the rules and authorities over us, we will have more freedom than if we were to disobey the authorities ordained by God. 

Think about this for one minute. There I was, a senior in High School getting ready to graduate with my whole life ahead of me. What if when I flew over that hill a parent had been walking with their newborn child, and I hit them and killed them. Instead of the freedom of conquering the mountain, I would have experienced a lifetime of guilt, jail, no marriage, no children, and the list goes on. 

A lot of people - even Christians, see God's Word as a book of rules. But God at creation gave Adam "a one-rule world." They had many things they could do, like multiply, name the animals, AND they got to spend time with GOD, in PERSON, and He had provided such that they lacked NOTHING!!! He gave them all the trees to eat from in the garden as well. Except for one. And that was the ONE rule: to not eat of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." 

Then you get Satan into the picture tempting Eve to eat the fruit by telling her that they would be like God. She did, and it was man's first rebellion against God. They thought they could be free from God's authority in their life and instead of that freedom they received pain and death. 

God's Word is not a book of rules so let’s not view it that way, but view it as a book of God setting us free from the law of sin and death through Jesus. It should also give us a mindset of obedience to God to place ourselves under the authorities that God has put in our lives - our parents, bosses, law enforcement, or anyone else that could be over us - because God has commanded us to abide in His word! When we do this we "will know the truth, and the truth will set us free."

Time to Celebrate “Love”

The month of February elicits strong, emotional responses out of many people. Not only is it the month of the Super Bowl (and this game always seems to bring about passion from even the most uninterested people), but it is also the month where we celebrate “love”. Some people absolutely love to celebrate Valentine’s Day. They will wear pink or red all day, send flowers or cards to their special valentines, head to the store to make sure they pick up the heart-shaped Russell Stover box of chocolates, and express love in countless other ways. While some people are very excited about celebrating Valentine’s Day, others come together and celebrate their disdain for the holiday. Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, we in fact do celebrate love. 

I like to celebrate on Valentine’s Day. But one thing I know and long to impart to my family and loved ones is that we need to have an accurate view of love to fully appreciate and celebrate love. There is no better place than Scripture to find the definition of love, and today I want to take you to 1 Corinthians 13: The Love Chapter. In here we see Paul give an amazing discourse on love. Most of us know the passage: love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, and the list continues. This is what love is! As we celebrate true love this year, let me draw you to a couple of points about celebrating Love. 

  • True Love Originates in Jesus Christ—1 John 4:19 states that “we love because He first loved us.” All love begins with God. He’s the source of love. He’s love perfected. He loves perfectly. There is no way that we can be loved any more than what He already pours out on us. We celebrate love because we are loved by Jesus Christ. This love then pours out of us onto others. This is real love. 
  • Jesus’ Love is Described in 1 Corinthians 13. Instead of simply hearing that love is patient and kind, instead hear it as Jesus’ love is patient, kind, doesn’t envy or boast, isn’t proud or rude, isn’t self-seeking, doesn’t keep records of wrongs, always hopes, perseveres, never fails. And these words don’t fully encapsulate Jesus’ love for us—it is much greater! 
  • Love is a Choice—will you choose to allow the love of Jesus to flow from you to those around you? Will you choose to love your spouse with Jesus’ love? Your children? Your church family? Your coworkers? Your classmates? There are times when people around us will seem unlovable. If we try to love on our own, it will be an impossible task to love them. But with the love of Jesus, all things are possible. We must love. 

What an amazing display of love we see! 

My prayer and encouragement for you is that you would celebrate “love”. Celebrate Jesus’ love for you. Celebrate the love He gives you to pour into others. Don’t withhold the celebration—love is worth it!