The way in which we treat each other that people will know God. All our other values of story, generosity and worship flow into community. Pastor Evan shares on Lake Ridge’s value of community. At the very beginning of creation we see in Genesis 1:26 we are made for community. God said let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness. Father, son and holy spirit created us in their likeness. This is why we have this deep soul calling to be connected. To have relationship in it's truest form is to admit you need them in order to grow into who you are. We must learn to rely on each other. It’s hard to admit we need each other. How are you learning to need the person next to you? Choose to need each other, because that is the message of God and what you actually made for.
You are what you love. Pastor Preston introduces our new sermon series So Ride On. The series is about exploring our four main values at Lake Ridge and this week he explored our value of "Story." Jesus wanted the story to get into our lives and our hearts. Pastor Preston uses Matthew 11:27 to share the story where Jesus discussed with his disciples the story of God and his willingness to share of all it with them and us. We are included in the story of God. Your story is part of this story - you are not just an onlooker - you are a participant. Reading the story of God and trusting the story teller himself to step into the world is what fuels us.
Pastor Evan wraps up the sermon series with a few stories of seeing God in the train wrecks with Courtney and Lindsay. This sermon series has profoundly important for us not just the scripture or the stories, but because this is actually the heart of what God calls the church to be about. Broken, messy people doing life together with the help of Jesus. Jesus promised you that life was going to come off the rails. The greatest offence we could do is to hide. When He has given you a community of followers of Jesus and a community who speak the life of God in our life and story. God draws near to us. He would move into the neighbourhood and demonstrate his heart and his passion in our messy lives. In the midst of our doubt, pain, anger, and fears. God faces you in the midst of your fear. He does it with compassion, with love and with courage and truth.
Pastors Evan and Preston sit down with a few of the people at Lake Ridge to chat about where God has been a part of their story and their experiences. Rick, Natasha and Pat share stories of shaping moments in their life and how they believe God has been present in them. You'll notice there is not a completion point in their stories. The journey is still going and there will be many more ups and downs. Part of what we do is care for each other and in sharing our stories we heal.
Some of the train wrecks come from outside and some come inside ourselves. There are sometimes hurts or lies that linger inside ourselves. Pastor Preston shares what it looks like for us to pay attention to the train wrecks on the inside of us by teaching from Galatians 5:22. God is very interested of what's going on inside. We have a hard time admitting there are some pieces of destruction or darkness inside of us. We would rather be told how to clean up the pain and mess inside of us. We may want a sermon that teaches us how to follow rules, hurt less and how to make it look better on the outside. God is working to liberate us, love us, free us from the shadows of sorrow, guilt and shame.
Life can go off the rails sometimes. Pastor Preston shares on Isiah 43:4 and what it's like to go through deep waters. We see the idea of a flood and being washed away happening through out the scriptures because it was a very real threat at the time. The scriptures are full of stories about how God is with you in the river. Even today, we can relate to what it's like to experience the fear of be washed away, or having a force hit that sends you off track. You remember the moments when the water overtook you. It's God who ultimately reaches for us.
The story of God and his people is filled with train wrecks. We aren't overly comfortable with train wrecks or messy situations. Pastor Evan shares the story starting in Acts 6:8 where the religious leaders were fearful of the changes happening and that brought a lot of tension. Out of their fear and desire to control they made up stories about Stephen. When asked, Stephen makes the brave decision to share truth and in turn is stoned. Pastor Evan challenges us to notice where we see God in this story. What does it look like for us to bear witness to truth in the midst of difficult situations? What does it look like for us to have new eyes for our train wrecks where God is speaking and working?
The biblical story is a group of people who are deeply challenged by life. The scriptural context is almost a total train wreck with God present in it. Pastor Evan kicks of our new sermon series, "Train Wrecked" by highlighting one of the most prominent stories of a train wreck. The heart of God is revealing himself in the midst of chaotic, difficult and challenging situations. God carries us through our train wrecks. Like a father carrying their child. God comes close to us and draws near to us in these moments. Sometimes train wrecks happen to us or sometimes we create them. Either way God draws near to us.
Pastor Preston wraps up our sermon series on prayer by sharing about imagination. Jesus uses the imagination through all his lessons by creating images, stories and metaphors. God speaks to us in our imagination. For example, Jesus uses a water metaphor to help us understand how his love pours from us. Jesus said what you say flows from what is in your heart. What Jesus pours into us then we pour that out of us. So can we trust our imagination to allow God to speak through it? How do we filter our own thoughts versus what God is trying to show us?
God's M-O is love. So full of love. We do not pray God's nature into existence. God exists as who he is: a God of love. Sometimes we pray as though God's nature is kept on a shelf. God's nature is always there. We don't need to pray it into existence. When we pray for God to do something God gives himself to us to make us the people to affect change. We are agents of prayer. We are agents that change the world. Where are the places in your life today that you need to be reminded you are part of God's work? It's in prayer and action that God's love fills and changes our lives.
We are thrilled to have Pastor Evan Spencer join us to share with Lake Ridge Community Church what God has laid on his heart. Pastor Evan continued in our sermon series on prayer "Can you hear me?" He shared how when we see our prayer life connected to our whole life then we can draw on a larger body of communication. Prayer is a conversation with the one who made us. It’s done in many different ways and a ton of different channels. Love of God and love of neighbour go together and our neighbours need us to be people who pray. He encouraged us to connect our prayer journey with those around us. And asked, "what if your neighbour and your neighbourhood needs most from you is not the perfect face, but the full exposed authentic journey of God?"
Pastor Preston starts of our new sermon series on prayer. It's called, "Can you hear me?" We sometimes wonder if God can hear us, don't we? Prayer is a complex thing. We can assume God is not listening or God is not talking. There a whole bunch of lies we tell ourselves with prayer whether it's about God or us. God is fighting for you. This is about God saying I want to talk to you to flush out these lies. It's one thing to say there is lies, but it's another thing to build into us what is true.
On the final week of our sermon series Pastor Evan takes a different approach of summarizing the story by reviewing the whole letter from Paul in Colossians and asking individuals to read parts of it through out the message. Paul was writing to the people of Colossae attending a small house church, who are ultimately brand new to the faith. Paul is encouraging them to seek Christ and trust. Paul wants us to know that no matter what we do God's love is not being withheld. His love is present with us. God's love is pouring over you and it's always been there.
Paul writes the letter that’s surprising to them. It’s maybe as surprising to them as it is to us now. He talks into about grace and love. He then goes into a complex family situation. Why does he do that? Pastor Preston shares quotes on what he learned as he spent the week reflecting. We need to be covered by God's kindness. Only love remains above all else. Paul goes from love to a controversial statement around how we are to act. Paul is actually opening a door for Jesus to enter into our lives. Jesus is changing our lives about the most core areas of our lives.
Pastor Evan explores the next part of the letter from Paul to the people of Colossae. This week Paul addresses some individual challenges that some individuals are facing. Previously Paul was addressing the church and what does it look like to ask yourself is Jesus enough for you? What does that life actually look like? Paul begins to give a vision for change in your life and specific behaviors. Paul is not saying don't do these things because God won't love you, what he is saying is God has always loved you. Now that you are discovering that love you can put to death some destructive behaviors in your life. We mix that order up. We when we think about behavior we say change your behavior and then come to Christ. That is a lie. You are not what you do. You are who Jesus says you are. Part of discovering who you are is about discovering who God made you to be.
Pastor Evan shares on the letter written from Paul to the early church in Colossae. They were this messy group of people from all walks of life, just like us. In this place they began to learn the expanse of God. The jewish law was about connecting with God with a system of rules and regulations. We do this today in church too through our own traditions and perspectives we bring in. As humans, we like to earn what we have and the law made that possible. Paul reminds us there isn't anything you can do earn your salvation: it's a gift. It might have felt like moving from the comfort of a large system, like a cruise ship to a raft. You have to put your faith in Jesus. You have to trust the raft is more sturdy and sound and will take you places that you could never go in a cruise ship. And Jesus will lead that raft because Jesus is on that raft too.
Pastor Preston shares a poem Paul wrote to the Colossians. Paul did not lay out a theology that was a complex language, he gave them a poem to meet them where they are at. This poem or hymn became a centrepiece for the early church. Sometimes the way to get through the complexity of the whole thing is to go simple: He lives in you.
Pastor Evan shares the story of Paul writing to the early church of Colossians and in their young church they had people in all walks of life. They were just a small group of messy people that were trying to figure out how to hear the voice of God and try to apply what they were learning about this Jesus guy they were hearing about. They weren't perfect and they hadn't figured it out. But they could see little signs that God was in this place.
Pastor Preston wraps up our sermon series "Welcome Home" by sharing on compassion and friendship. Jesus comes to us first to meet us with his compassion first. He is taking us to experience compassion. We sometimes hear messages that our filters have us thinking Jesus wants us to do more. To be hospitable, host a meal, be more neighbourly. The story of God is not asking you to be Martha Stewart. The story of God is about making a space for you. This is why it's a story of compassion. We can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly. When we are filled, we can fill others.
Pastor Evan explores the importance of hospitality and the barriers we perceive there to be around it. What is your definition of hospitality? What are the barriers you perceive to inviting people into your homes and your life? Maybe productivity? Fear? Self-preservation? Insecurity? So if we look into the deepest parts of our humanity we can suddenly see there are not so many differences between the stranger and us. Our calling as the people of God is not to change people, but to create a space where change can happen. What does it mean for you to be a person who creates safe places for people to experience our loving father in heaven.