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Part 1 9.18.16
Part 2 9.25.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Kevin Brady, Elder
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Nobody likes a know-it-all. By the way, they really never know it all anyways and if you delve in and study their response you usually find a flaw in their understanding. Do you really think you COULD know it all? Even if you studied the Bible nonstop for the balance of your life, you will realize that you are incapable of knowing everything and that God designed it that way so you would need someone beyond yourself. However, we often times take a snippet out of a book, magazine, blog, or such and use that as the basis of our understanding. Take Proverbs 3:5 by its lonely self. Without backing up and reading verses 1-4 and 6-35 we miss where we came from and where we are going. Therefore, verse 5 to me only holds me for the moment and not challenging to remember what God told me and where it will take me.
Here’s where I’m going with this. Verses 1-4 basically tell me not to forget God’s teachings and that I should wear them and store away safely in the heart. I believe wearing them is akin to something that you put on everyday as a part of life or a part of protecting yourself from the elements. Storing them in your heart is a protective place guarded by 12 pairs of ribs that are designed to protect the heart. Keep in mind that the heart is the center source of determining life or death, as well as the driving force for the feelings that direct a person’s actions. Pretty darn big deal if you ask me. Therefore, the 1st 4 verses tell me where I came from and begin to tell me how to act.
Verse 5 is the action part with so much to unpack. Trust is something humans have a hard time doing outside of themselves. Let alone trust in God whom you can’t see or touch outside of seeing His wonderment. Trust with all my heart means to place ALL of my confidence, my lifeblood, and my feelings which dictate my actions….. it is EVERYTHING. Leaning not on my own understanding means that I can’t use what I limitedly know as a crutch/support/aid in helping me stand on what I think I know. I understand that God did not choose me for my formal biblical training or my own ability, but he chose me as the right vessel to carry His word and to speak what he puts on my heart. I can’t tell you how many times I am asked something that paralyzes me, but my mouth opens and speaks God’s truth and mercy. By no means is that me speaking, but the Holy Spirit using me for His glory.
This brings us to the acknowledging part which guides me at the end of those paralyzing moments. Verse 6 clearly states that I need to acknowledge (i.e. admit, recognize, validate, show gratitude, endorse, certify, attest to) that all I am comes from God and that He shall direct my path. I think of a time way back before there were roads. If you were going somewhere you looked for a path. And if you traveled that path often, it would be worn with the certainty that it was the correct path that others could count on. Therefore, I believe that if I testify of God’s works in my life and travel the paths that He sets in front of me, there will be certainty in others that it is a worthy path to follow and it will gain more traffic.
As important as I think it is to have a basis from where I came, and an action plan to carry it out, I still think I need reminding of what I’m supposed to carry out. Since I have gotten quite lengthy already, I’ll simply share my take-aways from the balance of verses in Proverbs 3. Verse 7: Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. Verse 9: Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase. Verse 12: For whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. Verse 13: Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. Verse 21: My son, let them not depart from your eyes, keep sound wisdom and discretion. Verse 35: The wise shall inherit glory, but the shame shall be the legacy of fools.
To fold this all up in terms that I can understand, the beginning verses give me the history to study; verse 5 gives me the action item; the balance of verses give me the roadmap and checklist of what will help guide my path. The one thing I know about myself is that I can analyze and fix most everything I put my mind to and what keeps me humble in my simplicity is taking a moment to contemplate how God sent His only son, knowing that He has no sin, but He sent Him to die for the sins of all mankind past, present, and future. I have no understanding on how He could do that for me and it brings me to my knees. However, the understanding that He gives me is enough to find refuge in His awesomeness and to prepare myself for the day He calls me home the rest is simple faith that He will guide me in what I don’t understand.
Part 3 10.02.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Joel Burgess, Head Deacon
For where your treasure is, your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
This is one of those verses you read and say to yourself...”no duh”, but then you read it over and over again and it becomes more impactful with each read.
Dana and I talk often about the fact that that raising four daughters in this overwhelmingly consumer driven society is a losing battle. My typical guy answer is that we can fix it by selling everything we own and go be missionaries in some remote place on earth. Dana quickly brings me back to reality saying that we have work to do right here in Plainwell (I love this woman for keeping me grounded in reality). With the girls, we often fall flat on our faces by letting teachable moments pass us by. We do our best however to remind them both through our actions and words that their best asset in this life is a kind heart, not the physical things you possess.
There are a lot of things vying for our heart in this world. Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life; or maybe better stated, a person's life is a reflection of his heart. So, what are our hearts focused on? Endless fundraisers, buying sports T-shirts and uniforms for every school sport under the sun, drivers training fees, a new wake board for the boat, the latest shoes, or a smoothie maker? I’m a believer that there’s nothing wrong with any of that “stuff”, but how exactly does any of it bring glory to God? More importantly, what does putting the “stuff” in front of bringing your time, treasure, and talents to God say about your heart?
I’m a worrier. I’m filled with anxiety. I’m often overwhelmed with the family budget. There is truly no explanation how we survived financially over the last 18 years of marriage other than by the grace of God and knowing that he will always provide exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. Jesus calls us to change our hearts from the temporary to the eternal. Or, as my grandma said to me once, “you never see a hearse hauling a U-Haul trailer”. I miss that lady.
Finally, I’m so thankful for the leaders at North Point who have put endless hours into our church building project. The Finance and Focus on the Heart teams always go back to the same question of whether or not we’re spending our money to bring the light of Jesus Christ to our community. The process has been slow, tedious, and has at times brought us in a completely different direction than what was planned. The good news is we will soon have a permanent church home. The bad news is the cappuccino machine, the fog maker, and the laser show didn’t make the cut….
In Christ Alone, and For Christ Alone,
Part 4 10.09.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Matt Evers, Deacon
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 15:10
During this time that we are taking to focus on the Heart it does not really come as a surprise that we would encounter a verse asking for God to “create in me a pure heart.” What exactly does this mean though? Certainly in this day and age we forget what the meaning of “heart” was for those that came before us. We all know that your heart is the internal organ that pumps blood to every portion of our bodies. This one organ and its continued function is perhaps the single most import aspect of us being alive. To those who lived before the advent of modern medicine and anatomy the heart was more than just that.
The heart in earlier times was the area of our bodies where much of our nature and essence of our being emanated from. The heart was the center of a person’s life force and it was the place most connected with our emotions and desires. This is the part of a person that drove them, that held their desires and dictated their behavior. We still pay tribute to this belief in our language every day. We speak of someone who attains an accomplishment or dream of theirs as having gotten their “heart’s desire.” We talk of someone who has lost passion for something by saying “their heart just wasn’t in it.” We will attempt to express extreme love for a person by saying we “love them from the bottom of our heart.”
Although we pay homage to this belief every day I think we have lost a bit of the power of this meaning because we as citizens of the modern age know that our minds are the seat of our emotions, desires and being. For me when I hear the call to “create in me a pure heart” I equate that with calling to create a pure mind with pure desires. What the Psalmist is calling for is a change to the basic essence of who we are, to the basic fabric of our being. This is a call to change us though and through. This is a call to God to help replace our sinful desires and nature with His desires and nature, but it is much more than that. When we start to think of our sinful natures I cannot help but be drawn to Romans 7:19.
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.
At first I thought that this verse was about asking God to replace our sinful desires with a pure heart that would no longer desire sinful things. I think that this is part of the point but ultimately I come back to the fact that we are human. I think that this call for a pure heart is also an admission of our status as humans. We have all discovered as Paul did, that we are beyond the ability to avoid sin and to truly have a pure heart. Even though we want to do the right thing we are helpless to follow through on it. We are by our fallen nature inherently sinful and beyond repair in that regards. Although with the spirit’s help we may resist some of the sinful desires and drives in our being, we will never ever ever… ever ever be good enough to merit God’s forgiveness. We may want to do the right thing but we will continue to do the things that we do not want to do.
I believe that this verse is calling for God to create in us a pure heart in the only way that is possible for us as humans. That is of course that God, through the redeeming blood of Jesus makes our hearts purified clean white and blameless. We will never be able to completely escape the evil desires of our hearts (and minds) until Jesus returns, but through his sacrifice our hearts can be counted as pure and we can know the joy of his salvation.
The second part of the verse seems to follow directly from the first part in my mind.
Renew a steadfast spirit in me
The word steadfast implies an unwavering, determined and dutiful spirit. In my thinking this flows from the first part of the verse because without God creating a pure heart in us it is impossible for us to have a steadfast spirit. I don’t know about the rest of you but I have difficulty having an unwavering and determined spirit concerning something that is hopeless. How could we possibly maintain a steadfast spirit against sin if in the end it is a hopeless battle? It is the very fact that through Jesus this is not a losing battle that we can gather the courage to stand strong and steadfast against sin.
So here is my prayer after reading this scripture, meditating on it and coming to whatever imperfect understanding of it that I can come to as a human.
God, create in me a pure heart and mind. I know that I am incapable of this, my heart is not pure and although I try, I still continue to sin and desire sin. Give me your mercy and create a pure heart for me in the only way possible- through the blood of your son Jesus Christ, my Lord. Renew my spirit to be steadfast, determined and unwavering against the evil desires of my heart and encourage this spirit because I know that through you, this battle is not hopeless but that your victory certain.
Part 5 10.16.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Tenneil Shaffer
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7
I don’t know about you, but my life is not very “peaceful.” I find it interesting that this verse was given to me to write a blog on. Everything Pastor Jason preached on was exactly what I struggle with on a daily basis. Anxiety, fear, control, etc…. And I’m supposed to be rejoicing in God through it all?! Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I could use some major improvement in this area! At one point during the sermon, Jason was praying and asked us all to think of our one fear, our one worry that stops us each day. I actually leaned over to my husband and stated, “I have 50.” He laughed at me, but I was actually serious. Are all parents like this or only me?
So this is my family.
Look at my boys – I love them. So why can’t I be at peace with them? Why do I still yell at them and get frustrated? I guess because I’m a mom and that’s what we do. I love them so much and I know they are a gift from God yet it is hard to realize that on a daily basis. I worry about them like you wouldn’t imagine. I already stress out about the days they will start driving and what they will become as adults. Why do I worry about these things?!
So what do I do about this? How do I learn to release all my fears and instead rejoice in the Lord?
I think I need to just stop. Stop doing. Stop stressing. Stop worrying. Stop working. Stop cleaning. Just stop. Just look around, find something I can be thankful for and REJOICE in the Lord for giving it to me. As I look around while writing this, I see my dog sleeping soundly in her bed. Here is a picture of my dog, Lyla. She is such a good girl. I’m very thankful that we have her yet she creates so much more work for me as a mother (which again, stresses me out).
Along with my dog, I have my essential oils diffusing next to me (yes, I’m obsessed with oils), and a comfortable bedroom that my husband worked so hard building for me. I need to be thankful for these things. I need to stop and realize the wonderful things God puts around me every day. When I stop and acknowledge this, the peace fills my heart and relaxes me.
You know, so many things in my Christian walk are spot on. I really do feel like my heart is in the right place. I’m always thinking in the best interest of what Jesus would want. My heart longs for that relationship with Jesus and I really feel like most of the time I have it. So I wonder why I struggle with this world? I guess this earth is just a broken place. I need to come to realize that and move forward rejoicing during it. That’s a hard thing to do…. Rejoicing when you are in pain or frustrated. I can’t say that is an easy task. Again, that is why I’m going to just stop. If I stop in the moment, redirect my mind, and focus on the Lord and what is important, that should get me through each day. I’ll stop, pray, and rejoice! As Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” That is what I intend to do!
Part 6 10.23.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Jason Zimmer
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
The Past Sunday we studied John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
This text is located toward the end of the gospel of John. Jesus is giving His disciples some of the very last instructions He would give before being tried and crucified. I’m sure the disciples were terrified to think that they would be left alone without their Savior and Friend but, Jesus promised even though He would be gone physically, He would remain with them by sending the Holy Spirit (Counselor) to live in them.
This is why we can have peace. Peace comes as a gift from the Spirit and is available to the Christian. This peace is true, pure, settles troubled hearts and removes fear. It’s a perfect peace…a peace from God.
Unfortunately, many Christian never experience the fullness of God’s peace. I think this is because many fail to ask for God’s peace. Peace is a gift; it’s something that we can count on. I’m convinced that this is why Jesus says, “I do not give as the world gives.” In other words, Jesus is saying, my peace is guaranteed, it won’t fail you, or let you down. I’m not like that empty promise you heard, or like that commercial that claims to have life’s remedy. Jesus is saying, I’m faithful, I’ll never leave you or forsake you and I’m ready to give you peace.
I wonder if you’ve taken the time today to find peace? In the midst of our trials and struggles, there is peace to be had. This peace only has one source and it’s Jesus. I hope and pray that today you will turn to Him and ask Him for the peace that only He can give. May the Lord give you His perfect peace.
Part 7 10.30.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Mark Immink
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Psalm 37:4
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is a trustworthy statement because Jesus said it in Matthew 6. However, I think that if we switch the order, the statement is also true: “For where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” I believe that this is what Psalm 37:4 means. David writes, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” If your heart is found in the Lord, then your treasure, your desire, will be the same as the Lord’s.
Let’s unpack this a little bit: delighting in the Lord is the same as putting your whole life into the Lord. Both Moses and Jesus spoke of this same command that David is sharing with us, “love the Lord with all of your heart.” This command doesn’t give us room to flirt with God, or to half-heartedly commit to him. It is clear from these texts that God wants all of us. ALL of us. This includes our hopes, dreams, and joy! We are to look to God as if we were under water and he was our oxygen tank. He is our source of all. It seems only right that we give all of ourselves to the source of all.
I would like to encourage us, all of us, to really ask if we delight in the Lord? Listed below are a couple of questions that may help us to process how we view God. My hope is that these questions can be a light on our lives that help us to see blind spots in our lives, to help us see where our desires are too weak.
Do you look forward to your time with God?
Do you have time for God?
What “gets in the way” of you spending time with God?
What does my prayer life look like?
On an average day, would anyone recognize me as a Christian?
What am I doing for the Word of God to abide in my heart?
Part 8 11.06.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Joel Burgess
“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1
We so often turn to God when things aren’t perfect, asking for his hand in grace and hoping he will step in and turn the ship around. So what then happens when things are good - do we fall on our knees and thank the Lord for his blessing? Do I thank him when the car wash doesn’t rip off the rear wiper on my car? Do I thank him every day when my 4 girls come home from school safe and happy about how their day went? I’d like to say the answer is yes - always, but I know in my life that’s not always the case. I’ve come to understand that seeing and hearing God during hard times may be difficult because I don’t always see him and thank him for the everyday ordinary things that His grace shines down on me.
God is always part of our lives. He’s part of our marriage, our children, our friends, our experiences, so why is it so hard to remember to thank him for the countless great things that happen every day? I guess it’s because we’re not always focused on God with all our heart. With all our heart….with ALL our heart….with ALL our heart. This says to me that it’s an all-in proposition.
As I write this, I realize I have fallen short in my family by not living this verse every day in front of my kids and Dana. The Pulse series has helped me re-focus my heart toward God and I’m so thankful for that.
So, if you see me in church on Sunday and I all of a sudden cry out “Thank you Lord for these stupid metal chairs”, think nothing of it - just trying to be all-in.
Give thanks unto you Lord, for you alone are God and you alone are good.
Part 9 11.06.16
PULSE BLOG FOR THE WEEK...
by Kevin Brady
Confession Time! At first I didn’t get it. I’ve read Psalm 26 over and over again trying to figure it out. How could someone ask God to examine their heart knowing that He already has and also that our hearts are flawed. Can you seriously utter that you have led a blameless life and not faltered? I mean, is there anyone that wakes up in the morning and can’t wait to get to school and take their chemistry test or get to work for their performance review? I thought I had issues, but I think I would like to meet the person that willingly loves to have their flaws pointed out. Then I get to verse 11 in the second half of the sentence and see “Redeem me and be merciful to me.”
I guess where I was thinking, until I heard Janet Hoke’s testimony this morning, was what kind of person would want to be tested to begin with let alone being tested by the Creator that already knows all of our flaws? Then Janet mentioned that “God does not condemn.” Then it hit me… I think David was genuinely asking God to search his heart and tell him what still needed correction so he could give ALL of his heart to God even though the resume listed in Psalm 26 was pretty flawless. Therefore, the outward appearance is pretty easy to fix, but the heart takes special investigation and you often times need to research diligently and ask the expert for the steps to fix what is wrong.
Since I am one of analogies, let me throw this one out there. Since it is fall and my gas leaf blower appears to be in good shape aside from the miles put on it, it still just doesn’t sound right and doesn’t live up to its full potential. Basically low on the output scale. I could have just set it aside for trash and purchase a new one, but I put in some research with some experts on the web and felt that if I tore it all completely down and spent some extra time on the carburetor (heart of the 2 stroke engine), I could fix it. Off I went and the end result is I have a fine-tuned leaf blower now. I’m the leaf blower and God is the Web expert. He’s not throwing me away and replacing me, but redeeming me. He’s working on my carburetor and fine-tuning me with the merciful care only he can provide. He’s increasing my output!
Thanks for allowing me to weird out on you here with the analogy. Long and short is that I have to genuinely seek out God’s word in my heart to uncover what needs fine-tuning and know that his mercy, kindness, love, and patience is what guides His hand in redeeming me.
In Christ Alone.
North Point Kids is based on Psalm 139:14 “I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. We are all created by God and created exactly how He wanted us to be. Children are a high priority to Jesus and they are here at North Point too!!
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