- Identify what you’re afraid of. It may be obvious to you at first--a big presentation at work or a difficult conversation at home. Or it may be more subtle--it’s not a fear about the presentation itself, it’s a fear about not being qualified for the job; it’s not a fear about the difficult conversation, but the state of the relationship.
- Spend some quiet time with God just talking to him about this fear. Ask God to help you take a step toward him. To figure out what that step might be, ask yourself: what would I do with this fear if I was completely confident that God was with me?
What am I afraid of? That’s what we’re asking ourselves in Week 6 of Follow, our summer message series. We said that following Jesus does not lead to a pain-free life, but it does lead to a faith that overwhelms fear. Reaching that place where our faith is so great that it overwhelms and overshadows our fear is a lifelong journey, but here are some ways you can move forward this week:
We’re in week 5 of our summer message series, Follow, which is all about the invitation to follow Jesus. (Missed the previous weeks? It’s not too late! Catch up by watching the message videos online.) This week we looked at a tension that all followers of Jesus experience at some point: the tension between God’s agenda and our agenda, the tension between what God wants and what we want. Maybe you’re experiencing this tension in a situation or relationship right now: your conscience is telling you to do something, but you don’t want to do it; God’s Word is inviting you to change a habit, but you want to hold onto it; a trusted friend is trying to help you with something, but you want nothing to do with it. It might sound scary to experience this tension, but it’s in this tension that you learn so much about yourself and have an incredible chance to grow your faith. Because when you experience this tension, you have a choice: you can follow your will--or--you can follow God’s will. Followers of Jesus choose to follow God’s will even when it’s at odds with their own will, wants, and desires. This is deeply challenging and ultimately requires surrendering control and surrendering to God. Spend some time today talking to God about how this message challenges you. Try praying with this song: Control
Oh how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To open my hands up
And give You control
-“Control” by Tenth Avenue North
It’s August (wow!) and that means we’re halfway through our summer message series, Follow. This past weekend, in week 4 of the series, we looked at the question: what do followers of Jesus wear?--not in terms of their clothing or physical appearance, but in terms of what they “put on,” how they treat others and what qualities form their identity. St. Paul tells us that followers of Jesus clothe themselves in “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). What does each of these virtues really mean?
This weekend was week 3 of our summer message series, Follow, which is all about Jesus’s invitation to follow him. One step we are all called to take in following Jesus is to love others and not to judge others. But Jesus didn’t just ask his followers to be loving, he commanded them to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) Loving others as Jesus loves us means putting our love into action in an extraordinary way. It means loving those who are tough to love, regardless of whether or not we feel they are worthy of our love. It means loving others in a way that is self-giving. It means acting toward others first with love. Loving others and not judging others is a simple concept, but it’s not easy to put into practice. One of the traps we can fall into in our journey of faith is that we can begin to confuse discipline with discipleship (following Jesus). We can begin to think that all that matters is my disciplines--I go to church, I pray, I follow the rules. We might even fall into a pattern of thinking that says: all that matters is that I’m “good with God.” Disciplines are great and helpful, but they need to be in the context of discipleship. Because Jesus said that as followers of his we are to be marked not by our disciplines but by our radical love for one another.
Is there a situation or relationship in your life where you are judging someone for doing something wrong, breaking the rules, or acting unfairly? What would it look like for you to treat that person first of all with love?
We’re in week 2 of our summer message series, “Follow.” (You can catch up on this series by watching the week 1 and week 2 message videos online.) We’re taking the summer to explore the invitation to follow Jesus and asking some questions about it, such as: Who is the invitation for? What is the invitation about? In week 1 we discovered that the invitation to follow Jesus is for everyone, including sinners and unbelievers. In fact, all of Jesus’s first century followers did not believe in him when they were invited to follow. We also discovered that the invitation to follow Jesus is not an invitation to rules or religion, but an invitation to a relationship with him. In week 2 we looked at the question: what does it really mean to follow? Since the invitation to follow Jesus is an invitation to a relationship with him, following Jesus means taking steps--big or small--in his direction. What’s your next step in following Jesus? It’s different for everyone and it depends on where you are today--what your current response is to the invitation to follow Jesus. Today, commit to identifying your current response (no, not yet replied, maybe, or yes) to Jesus’s invitation to follow him. And then, from wherever you are today, take a step or even just a lean in the direction of Jesus. In prayer or quiet time today, ask God for the wisdom to know your next step in following Jesus and the courage to take it.
This weekend we wrapped up our message series, Half-Truths, by looking at the common saying that God won't give you more than you can handle. This is true if we mean that God is provident and in control or that he is always with us. However, God often gives us more than we can handle. God allows us to be overwhelmed by the demands and struggles of life. Why is that? When life is good, we tend to think it is our creativity or skill or intelligence that has made it so. We get deceived into thinking that we can manage life all on our own and that we don’t need God. God allows us to be overwhelmed so we will turn to him and rely on his presence and his power. Ultimately God gives us more than we can handle so that we can grow in faith. Faith and trust in God grows when we are challenged to meet the demands of life. The whole truth is that God will not give you more than you can handle without his help. Spend some time with God today sharing the biggest struggle you are facing right now. What’s overwhelming you and why? Pray that you will walk the valleys of life with faith and trust in God’s power and presence. Try praying with this song: Mountain
Missed this weekend’s message? Want to share the message with a friend going through a difficult season of life? Watch the message video online.
We’re in week 4 of our message series Half-Truths. The half-truth we confronted this weekend is that the Communion we share at Mass (we call it the Eucharist) is a symbol. (If you missed this weekend’s message or could use a second viewing, watch the message video online.) It’s true that the Eucharist is a symbol--all sacraments are symbols. They are physical signs of what God is doing spiritually to our souls. Communion is a sign or symbol of what God wants to do for us. It is a sign that he wants to nourish us and provide for us. Just as our body needs food and nourishment, taking Communion reminds us that our soul needs nourishment as well. Communion is a symbol, but it is so much more than that, too. We believe that the Eucharist truly is the body and blood of Jesus Christ and that when we celebrate Mass and receive the Eucharist, we are participating in the very death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Spend some time this week reflecting on the Eucharist and your approach or attitude towards it. Do you approach it prayerfully and gratefully? Do you return to the world with a renewed commitment to service, to loving others, and to following Jesus? Ask God for the grace to be an active participant in the Eucharist. Ask God for the grace to allow the Eucharist to change your heart and your life.
We’re in the middle of our message series, Half-Truths, and this weekend we looked at the half-truth that says: all religions are the same. This is true if we mean that all religions ask many of the same questions, such as: Who is God? What is the meaning of life? How should we live? But the whole truth is that all religions ask the same questions, but they arrive at very different answers. In this weekend’s message we explored how our Christian faith answers one of the most fundamental questions that all religions ask: Who is God and what is God like? Christians believe that God has revealed to the world his very nature. God is a community of love we call the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The community of love that is the Trinity confirms our hunch that love is the greatest value that exists. For all eternity, the three persons of the Trinity have loved each other. And the goal of our life is to be drawn into that community of love. Pray today for a deepening understanding of the truth of the Trinity. Pray that through your life, you will be drawn into God's community of love.
This weekend we explored the half-truth that says: you don't need the Church to connect with God. This is true if we mean that you don't need a church building to connect to God. We can connect with God anywhere and everywhere. But the Church is not primarily a building or an institution--the Church is the people of God. We absolutely need the Church in order to deepen our relationship with God and to become the people God has created us to be. In this weekend’s message we explored three specific reasons why we need the Church to connect to God. (If you missed it, you can watch it here.) We need the Church to connect with God which means we need to be connected to a local church--and not just connected, but actively involved and committed. Today, reflect on your commitment to your own local church, whether that’s New Roads or another church community. Reflect on your current connection with that church community, and then, select a concrete step to further your commitment to your local church. What does committing to a local church look like?
This weekend we kicked off a new message series called Up Close & Personal. It’s all about celebrating the season of Easter by getting to know Jesus better. As we begin this series, it’s helpful to take a moment to reflect on where you are today. How well do you feel like you know Jesus right now? What has formed your impressions about who Jesus is? Teachers? Parents? Friends? Movies? Books? One of the very best ways to get to know Jesus better is through Scripture, particularly through the Gospels. The challenge for this series is to pick one of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and read it during this series. Today, decide which Gospel you’ll commit to reading over the next few weeks and a time of day when you can devote 10 minutes to reading it. Then, share your plan with others--it’s a powerful way to commit yourself to a goal! Comment below to share your plan and see how others are committing to get to know Jesus better during this series.
P.S. Looking for a way to read Scripture on the go? Download the Bible App (iPhone/iPad or Android). It’s free, easy to use, offers multiple translations, and allows you to add your own bookmarks and highlights.