Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We've got a runner....

Most of you have probably read the book of Jonah - the most famous fish story ever told. Jonah, however, is more than a story about a man who was swallowed by a whale and lived to tell about it.

It's a story about a man who struggles with God's purposes and mercy. It's a story that reminds us that God's ways are not our ways:

Where we want independence, God wants obedience.
Where we want recompense, God wants humility.
Where we want to follow our own ways, God wants us to follow HIM.
Where we want personal success and victory, God wants compassion.

Jonah is a story of a man who thought he knew God but discovers otherwise when God asks him to do something that he doesn't understand.

If you haven't read all four chapters of Jonah before, pick it up and read it this week and then come join us this Sunday for the first of four sermons on the Book of Jonah.

- Chesney Szaniszlo


Monday, July 15, 2013

Lean into it

Ever heard that phrase before?

Lean into it

It's usually advice given to a person in a difficult or demanding situation where the rewards will be great, but it would be a lot easier to just be done.

In the third chapter of Philippians, Paul tells his peeps to "lean into it". He wants to communicate to them that he knows being a Christian is difficult.  Staying on the path of discipleship, fighting against our own natures, living a life that looks visibly different from the culture around you is difficult.

Paul tells the Philippians that his own spiritual journey isn't finished. There are still things he has to work on but he keeps on moving forward.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Moving forward and not becoming 'lazy' Christians is vital to growing in our Christian journey. We might be able to check of any number (or none) of the following:

I spend time in prayer everyday
I read the Bible all the time
I go to church every Sunday (or at least when I'm in town)
I encourage my family to sacrifice certain things so that we can financially support our church
I do my best to share the love of Christ with those I meet
I work to be patient and loving at home

Even if we can check off all of those, we still have work to do. Just because you exercise at the gym 3-4 times a week doesn't mean you can do the exact same thing every time you go. Your body gets used to those same things and stops responding as well. You have to 'lean into it' and do something new and more difficult every so often.

If we stop growing and stretching our comfort zones as Christians, then we stagnate and stop being good disciples and ministers for God.

If you are super comfortable with what you are doing as a Christian right now you need to think about what new thing God might be calling you to do for Him. If your discipleship journey isn't shaping you and growing you in ways that are wonderfully uncomfortable, then you need to ask God to give you a nudge.

God's not going to throw you into a pit of lions. He's going to help you take a small step in the direction of becoming the person He created you to be. And when you have gotten comfortable in that place, He'll ask you to take another. Yes, you can take rests, but don't stagnate in that comfy place.

Lean into the journey. You will be amazed at where it takes you.

Chesney Szaniszlo


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The soothing tongue is a tree of life...

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words can never hurt me.


I know I've written about this before but what comes out of our mouths is extremely powerful.

Our words can heal, give hope or forgiveness, and help those around us have a sense of God's grace and love for them.

Our words can also cause devastation, destroy relationships, and turn people away from the God who has called us to represent Him in this world.

Proverbs 15:4 states, "The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit."

God, help us to reign in our tongues and keep them from running ahead of our ability to show compassion and share grace. When we are frustrated, disappointed, sad, or mad help us to use our voices constructively, not destructively. Amen.

Chesney Szaniszlo