We had great plans for starting the new year…and then…
Have you ever had carefully-arranged plans, then something rolled in and caused them all to change? That is certainly the Santillanes family’s story for the beginning of 2022. Sometime shortly after Christmas all four of us began feeling sick. Sure enough, all of us tested positive for covid. As anyone who has had covid would tell you, it’s no laughing matter, which we can confirm. But I’m happy to report we are finally all well and today is the final day of our quarantine. Thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the sick and the families suffering through all of this, as well as for our frontline medical workers.
I appreciate Pastor Craig and the way he stepped in to preach last Sunday on such short notice. I can say from experience that it’s not easy to do. I’m grateful for his effort and his message.
God values humility, not pride, in His Kingdom. The verse from Luke 18:14, For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted, is a direct challenge to our modern way of thinking and living.
John Stott wrote, At every stage of our Christian development, and in every sphere of our Christian discipleship, pride is our greatest enemy and humility is our greatest friend.
When it comes to our relationship with our own society and culture, we struggle as Christians. Certainly, the world is becoming more and more hostile toward Christian values. Especially In the past few years, it’s easy to see an increasing anti-Christian bias in the media, government, business, and entertainment. The culture that readily accepted Christian thought and morality is not the same familiar place it was in the past.
I believe the greatest issue facing Christianity today is the way Christians respond to our changing culture. Too often, our response has come from a place of pride and arrogance, which leads to arguing and putting down, belittling and shaming.
What should we do instead?
I think it would benefit Christians to acknowledge, confess and repent. The way we have lived our lives has harmed the Church. How? The Church, as a whole, has a reputation problem. More Americans have a negative opinion of the Church today than ever before. At one point, not long ago, it ranked at the top of institutions and organizations in confidence from Americans. Now it ranks in the middle and continues to decline. Fewer and fewer Americans see the church as a positive influence. Research has revealed that men and young adults are the groups most likely to avoid the Church.
I believe much of this is the result of neglecting Jesus’ most important commandment to His followers: love your neighbor as yourself. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught that it is not about who our neighbor is or is not, it’s about being a neighbor and being ready to show love. The obvious teaching is that our neighbor could be a complete stranger. We need to be loving neighbors more today than ever.
Remember, you are an ambassador for God’s Kingdom. Don’t hide it. Don’t run from it. While we serve as ambassadors, remember our words should be gentle, not harsh. The Gospel is offensive enough on its own, we don’t need to be offensive too. Too often, we can interfere with the work the Gospel can do to prove our own point, settle our own case and let our pride get in the way.
The past two Sunday's we announced that we had some wrist bracelets available for everyone to serve as a reminder to seek God’s Kingdom first in our lives. Using Matthew 6:33 as our primary verse, we are asking everyone to set an alarm at either 6:33 AM or 6:33 PM (or both) to pray… Pray that you will seek first the Kingdom of God. Ask Him to reveal how He is working in you and around you. Ask Him how you can join Him in this work.
Monsters In Our Closet
Coming in February we’re preparing a particularly unique sermon series. Many of us have people in our lives who could benefit from tackling some of the monsters in our closets. These monsters have names: like rejection, worry, fear of death, depression, scarred past, or unforgiveness.