Strong

Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

-2 Timothy 2:1-7, NLT


What do you think of when you think of a strong person? Do you think of someone who never gives up? Someone who trains hard, fights hard, and gives 110% to the very last second? Someone who is trying to become a champion?

Or maybe, you think of someone who is battling some type of sickness and does so with a smile on his or her face. Someone who smiles even when it's a hard day. Someone who always puts others first and enjoys every moment in life.

Maybe you think of the mom or dad that has dedicated every day to raising a child or children, making sure that child knows she is loved and can become whatever she sets her mind to. She can imagine the world however she wants and even shape the world into something new if she so wishes.

Maybe still, you picture one of our military men or women, or one of our civil servants, who wake up every morning ready to give his or her life protecting others. He trusts the people standing next to him to have his back and the person giving him orders to be leading him in the right direction.

No matter who you imagine as a strong person, none of these people are truly strong without God on our side. At the same time, with God we can all become strong through his Grace and love. We can have the strength to go through our lives and not only survive but thrive as his sons and daughters.

This week, we will be looking into this idea of Grace more as we conclude our sermon series, Amazing Grace. I hope you'll join us.

Blessings,
Faith


Click Here for this Week's Faith Notes


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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Is the Bible Sacred?

A friend of mine who is a youth pastor in Texas is bracing herself for the aftermath of burning a Bible in front of her teens. You read that right, and there are no typos, she is burning the Bible. If it helps, she’s ripping out some pages first. 

You might be experiencing some anger, curiosity, or panic right now, and that is perfectly natural. She is doing this as part of an illustration on the importance of scripture. I know it sounds counter productive to that thought, but here’s her play. Tonight she is going to ask her students to recite all the scripture they know, and as they do she’ll rip out that verse of the bible and give it to them. Once they’ve recited all the scripture they know, which if we’re being honest will probably be less than a handful of verses per student, she’ll burn the rest of the Bible. The students will be left with just a few short verses, most of them probably clinging to “Jesus wept”. The point she’s making is that scripture is something they “need to KNOW, to memorize scripture because someday they might not have it otherwise. That there are people all over the world who don't have it. And for them to neglect their study of scripture is way worse than me burning the Bible.”

She has already taken a lot of flak from other youth pastors who are horrified that she’s going to burn the word of God. But then again, I’ve had a pastor yell at me for laying my bible down on the pulpit and not holding it while I read scripture. People have been upset about seeing a Bible on the ground. I had a really old Bible that was falling apart and pages were missing from years of use, I didn’t want to just throw it away in case someone saw me so I wrapped it up in another bag and threw the bag away. There is this ideology about protecting or treating the Bible with respect. I’m one of the few that thought it was an awesome idea and thought about stealing it for our students.

As angry as I just made some of you, or as angry as everyone else is at this friend of mine, you would think that the Bible is incredibly important. Her illustration sparked conversations about how to treat a book, something that isn’t God but merely a representation of the word of God, and most people got seriously close to equating the paper and ink with God himself. People couldn’t get past a burning Bible to realize that the thing they felt so deeply about losing was the thing they neglect 99% of the time and the exact reason she was burning the book in the first place.  If you were to ask me how many verses I have memorized, I’d stumble through a couple dozen or so but I would have next to nothing compared to what was burned.

A lot of people who care so deeply about not burning a Bible are the same ones who don’t care about it enough to read it every day. How angry are you that she’s burning the Bible? How angry are you that some of her students haven’t ever read the Bible outside of church activities? Jesus often had fun with the pharisees, who by the way loved the scriptures. I feel like they would be in the camp of never burn a Bible. But Jesus said “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” The Bible is important, the most important book we have, but it isn’t God. The book itself isn’t even anything special. And unless we are doers of the word as well as hearers, it means nothing. 

Nathan


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Nathan Persell serves as our Youth Director. When he's not leading devotions and playing basketball with teenagers, he enjoys disc golf and bike riding. Learn more about Nathan here.

Grow

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:11–13, NRSV


Last time, we looked at how God’s grace worked in our lives to enable us to cross the threshold of faith and become followers of Jesus. Now we want to see how God’s grace is necessary for our on–going growth in that relationship.

Healing

By way of analogy, we could look at how our body deals with disease processes. We could be living our lives as we always have, all the while, noticing a pain or other malady in our body. Most days we can function very well, but other days, not so much. We may see other symptoms, as well that indicate some is just not right. Think of that scenario as God’s grace drawing us to him. God is pointing out a problem and that problem causes us to seek a solution.

Eventually, we see a physician who diagnoses the problem and maps out a course of treatment for us that includes surgery and a change of lifestyle. She even gives us some directives to follow so we don’t end up causing further damage.

Decision

We now have a decision to make. Will we trust the doctor’s skill and diagnosis and go through with the surgery, or will we decide that we know better than she does and keep doing as we always have? It is a huge choice. We can’t do anything about what is wrong with us, except to stop resisting and give ourselves into the care of the professional. This is analogous to God’s grace forgiving us and granting us new birth.

We finally decide to trust our doctor, and the surgery goes off perfectly. However, the cure is only temporary if we do not make certain changes to our lifestyle. If we do not, there will be nothing else that can be done medically. So, we decide to make the necessary changes; and they are difficult. This third stage is growth or sanctification.

Now, any analogy breaks down if you push it too far, but it does illustrate the point.

GROWTH

God’s grace does indeed convict us and draw us to Christ. It also enables us to make a decision to give our lives to Jesus, but that is not all. In 1 Corinthians 3:1 Paul calls some of the believers “infants in Christ;” In John 3 Jesus says we must be born again. In many ways, when we begin our walk with Christ we are infants. You would never take a new born and expect her or him act as a full-grown adult. It is the same way with spiritual babies. As a new Christian, a person needs to be fed and nurtured so that they will grow; that is what God expects of us as well.

For the rest of our lives, we will be learning to respond to God’s grace in our lives, and as we do we will grow, if we respond positively that is. In this week’s sermon, we will look at the ways God’s grace enables us to grow and mature in Christ. I hope you will join us.

Blessings,

Alan

CLICK HERE FOR THIS WEEKS FAITH NOTES

Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.

Do you love me or Do you not?

Our Words

Words of encouragement are powerful, and if you are anything me, they can have power over you. In Gary Chapman’s Book the Five Love Languages, he outlines 5 unique ways we experience or show love. 

Words of affirmation are one of those unique ways. This is my dominate love language, and it has power to encourage, affirm, and motivate me to accomplish, to excel, to try harder, to work longer, and to love more. Sometimes when I feel discouraged, disillusioned, or despair, there are little word phrases that have the power to change my whole demeanor: “that was awesome”, “we need you”, “you did great”, “way to go”, “I want you”, “thanks so much”, “I love you”…….

His Words

While we are reminded in Acts 2: 42-47, that as believers we do need to love and care for one another, our ultimate approval, our ultimate affirmation, our ultimate I love you message does not, cannot come from other people. It should come from God. When we live for the recognition and support of others to motivate us, we set ourselves up for a never ending need to be recognized and approved. Yes, we do need one another, but the most satisfying, fulfilling, love and acceptance comes from God.

If you read through the New Testament, you get an unending love story to each of us from God. We have the unique and amazing standing in the love of Christ, as one loved and approved, by the work of our Savior. It is more satisfying, motivating and amazing than mere words can exclaim. Nothing compares. We don’t have to keep asking God to tell us that He loves us, He says it every day in every way in giving us Jesus. Here are four little words to remind us...For God so loved… (John 3: 16). Live in that daily reminder, and approval of God’s great love for you!

For more on this see Clay Scroggins message on Stamp of Approval.

Blessings, 
Lori

Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.

Begin

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NRSV)


When I was younger, the churches I attended made it clear about how to begin a relationship with God. We had to repent of our sin and ask Jesus to save us so we could go to heaven when we died instead of being condemned to hell. In other words, salvation was a transaction. It was simple, clear and understandable, but it was only a transaction.

I have come to realize that the salvation God offers us is so much more than a mere transaction it is a covenant of allegiance that brings about transformation.

GODS GRACE TRANSFORMS

Grace is God’s unmerited favor granted to us even before we know him and extending through our lives. That same grace helps us begin our relationship with God and a life of ongoing transformation. I have defined grace as God’s unmerited, undeserved kindly regard for us. That grace, God’s disposition toward us, enables us to respond to God’s offer of a relationship.

WE BEGIN WITH REPENTANCE

We begin our relationship with God by responding with repentance and faith. John Wesley said that repentance involved knowing that we are sinners, hopelessly separated from God and unable to do anything about our condition. This self-knowledge prepares us to hear the good news that God has done something about our condition and invites us to as new relationship.

SECONDLY, WE RESPOND WITH FAITH

Our second response to is faith, faith in Jesus Christ. When we know our true selves as sinners and hear God’s invitation, we respond with trust in what God has done through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The passage of Scripture cited above reminds us of several important aspects of this relationship. First, it was not our idea; neither is it accomplished by our power, but only through the grace of God. God’s grace conceived the plan, offered it to us and then enabled us to respond to the invitation. Second, as I said earlier our response is faith, trust in what God has done in and through Jesus Christ.

NEW LIFE, A COVENANT

Finally, beginning this relationship calls us to a new life, a life of “good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (verse 10). Beginning our relationship with God through Jesus is not a mere transaction, but a real relationship – a covenant. The point of this covenant is not to help us avoid hell and gain heaven, but to enable us to take up our calling to as bearers of God’s image in this world and work with God to bring redemption to the whole creation.

God desires this real relationship, and so God has taken the initiative to create the path and enable us to walk it. And that changes everything.

Blessings,

Pastor Alan


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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.