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.
As we continue through our Welcome Home sermon series we welcomed guest speaker Gary Hatt who spent some time sharing what God has put on his heart over the last little while.
Our new sermon series, ‘Welcome Home’ explores what it means to find our home in God, and to create a home for others. When we discover the depth of God’s hospitality towards us, it changes how we live in our neighbourhoods, even how we pour a cup of coffee. As we explore over the next few weeks what Jesus is doing to make a home for us. God is interested in making your home in him. So welcome home!
Our loved to life sermon series covered the seven deadly sins and we explored each vice and opposed them with each of their virtues. Pastor Evan shares on Easter Sunday the virtue of love. Love doesn't have an opposing vice. Love has the capacity to walk in and out and walk all over the vices. Love can overcome envy, love can reach out those who feel unworthy and pick them up. No vice of ours has a power strong enough to withstand our loving God.
Love like anything else we are passionate about provokes us to speak and to act. A love that is not declared lacks something essential. The life of Jesus was about declaring his love for us and raising from the dead was about the power of God. God invited us into the story of reconciliation. You are a part of reconciling the world back to Christ. What could it look like for us to share and demonstrate what it means to love our community? What does it mean to sacrifice everything for our world?
Pastor Preston shares on Palm Sunday the story of the passover meal and the last supper as we head into the week leading up to Easter. The disciples and Jesus had a meal together and we often remember this story. In this story, Jesus also washes their feet and gives the disciples a new commandment. It was to love one another. We've been talking about virtues and vices in the sermon series and they say that love is the pinnacle of all virtues. We will not overcome our vices by just trying to be virtuous, that's why the core of it all is embodying a posture of love. You can't love someone in a vacuum; it's an action. We can only love because he loved us. Let us be reminded we have been made clean and the love was given long before today.
As we get closer to lent Pastor Evan shared this week in our series Loved to Life: Anger to Justice. He looked at the kinds of anger, where some can be good and some can be bad. There are three main types of anger he describes. The first emotional anger is minor annoyances, the second type, becomes a vice when it's deep rooted in who you are, and the only way to ease that is through some form of vengeance. In our minds with this type we might believe if we got restitution then we would feel better. The third kind of anger this holy anger. It tells us that something is not right and we need to do something about it. Justice is on the other side of anger, but the definition is sometimes misguided We get the definition of justice wrong in our culture all the time. God's understanding of justice has to do with making things right and reconciling all things onto himself.
As we get closer to Easter, Pastor Preston shared on the journey from Envy to Courage. He explored how envy clouds our vision, and how God’s love leads us into new life. Envy and courage hinge on how we relate to the goodness in others. there are at least three evil components to envy: the deep discontent that comes when I see that another person has what I want; the desire to have it for myself; and the desire for it to be taken from him.
When we talk about gluttony and lust there are a couple words that immediately come to mind: food, alcohol and sex, but actually there are a lot more to those words. God gives us desires and God actually believes desires are good things and they are given to us as gifts. As we work through what it means to see something in moderation and temperance sometimes the desires of our hearts can consume our minds and can control our actions.
What does it look like for us to be the people of God, who enters into our story and He does it not to take things away, but to allow us to fully enjoy those things. Let's not be the kind of people who give in to consume each other, but to be like the grace filled example of Jesus.
Every Sunday through out the season of lent we're looking at a virtue and a vice. This week Pastor Preston explores the path from Greed to Faith by looking at the story of Abram and his nephew Lot. Lot's life had led him to a life of acquisition and living a life of greed. The story becomes hopeless. People who are overcome with greed are filled with doubt, they feel like they lack what they need. They aren't able to draw close to people, it breaks things down. In the story, Abram was a man of hope. Hope is more than expecting something good will happen, that's just optimism. Hope is rooted in a person, God is working to make good happen. Hope believes that wealth and greed will not satisfy, but it's usable to get to the goodness in our lives. Hope does not need to conquer or control.
We continue on our "Loved to Life" sermon series where we are exploring God sending his son, Jesus to enter into the story in a place of tension. Each week we'll explore a different vice and virtue and examine the journey. Pastor Evan shares on what it means to move from sloth to faith and move through the tension between. In today's culture sloth is defined as lazy or an inability to get moving. It's so damaging in our context. We would say laziness is one of the worst things in our culture because we are obsessed with productivity. What if there is a different definition? What if the definition was about a deeper sense of not feeling worthy. If you don't feel worthy enough then why would you try and work hard? Jesus enters into the story and begins to teach our value and worth. The spiritual work for us is to learn from Him what it means to be receptive to the great divine gift God has given to us.