Expectations or Expectant?

This past Thursday night, September 17th, we kicked off our Stronger at Home series. These meetings are being held on alternating Thursday nights at 8pm, via Zoom. In hindsight, we realize the title might be misleading. 

 

Stronger at Home isn’t about “Safer At Home”, pandemic-related mandates. Stronger at Home is about growing in faith while also working through the specific challenges we face from living in a pandemic. We are not meant to be at home and isolated. We are not “stronger” this way. Yet even during these times, our walk with Jesus continues. Stronger at Home aims to equip homes of all kinds to build a toolbox of strategies that allow them to remain strong in their faith, regardless of life’s circumstances, while providing a space to connect. 

 

On Thursday night, we spent time exploring the expectations we cling to. We all have expectations: For how our children should respond or behave; for how our spouse or friends should show love; for how school should look, church should look, our home life should look, good leadership should look … We also have expectations we place on ourselves - what makes us good parents, how we should be helping our friends, what we should do to manage stress, and so on. 

 

For many of us, 2020 has intensified these expectations. The more that life is disrupted, the more we tightly cling to our expectations. Our need to control and create ideal environments and relationships becomes the way we address uncertainty, fear and isolation.

 

Our actions and reactions often are driven by the expectations that we have set for ourselves and others. Whether we are aware of them or not, these expectations influence our relationships, how we experience joy, how we see our identity, and our awareness of God’s work in our lives. 

 

What if, instead of clinging to those expectations, we adopted a spirit of expectancy? To be expectant is to wait with anticipation. We can be expectant for what God can and will do in our lives. 

“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness

while I am here in the land of the living.

Wait patiently for the Lord.

Be brave and courageous.

Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” -Psalm 27:13-14

We can release our expectations with the confidence that God can do an even greater work in our lives and the lives of others. When we adopt a spirit of expectancy, we become partners with God in our homes.  

How do we shift from expectations to expectancy? First, we have to identify the expectations that are driving our attitudes, behaviors and responses. What expectations are keeping us from experiencing joy and allowing room for God to work?

Then, we confess and release those expectations to God. We recognize that we are approved by God and that we are in need of God.

Finally, we reframe our expectations in anticipatory statements of what God can and will do.

God can fill in the gaps of my parenting.

God will comfort me in my loneliness.

God can teach me to appreciate my spouse. 

God will be constant and faithful regardless of leadership.

God can put a worshipful spirit in my heart regardless of where that worship happens.

 

What expectations will you reframe today? Where can you begin to wait on the Lord? 

 

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;

in the morning I lay my requests before you

and wait expectantly.”  -Psalm 5:3

 

We invite you to join us on Thursday, Oct. 1, at 8 p.m. for our next Stronger at Home discussion. We will meet via Zoom to discuss the topic, “It’s OK to not be OK.”

 
 

Jesus is King

Election season is here.  It doesn’t feel like it ever really stopped, though, since the last election.  We continue to be bombarded by political propaganda.  And even before the last election, the media was thrown under the bus and into the ever increasing list of sources of untrustworthy political propaganda.  Advertisements on TV and on our computers and phones are constantly trying to garner our support, or keep it.  We’ve been told that everything we see and hear is a lie, unless it’s from me, and we’ve heard that from more than one me, so everything must be a lie. 

 

In an election year, all of the voices get louder and more polarizing.  There are two sides.  Right and wrong, good and evil, socialism and fascism, etc.  No matter what side a person is on, the “other” side is motivated by fear, either of what is, or what will be.  My side is mostly reasonable, with a few extreme exceptions.  

 

The onslaught of noise has us hoping in our candidate, for an end to the other side, an end to the noise, and end to the unreasonableness or unfairness we perceive.  We look to our government as the source of hope.  And we look to our President as a god and King.   Martin Luther said that to have a god is to have something in which the heart entirely trusts.  And before we all jump to say that we’re not in this category, where do you look for the answer to the side you don’t trust in the election?  

 

But, we already know that there is only one God, only one place our heart can entirely trust.  And we already know that God, the ruler of all things, has placed Jesus on the throne of His people.  We already have a King. 

 

Revelation 19:13, 16

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

 

Isaiah 9:6–7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

 

He has been given all authority, and rule.

 

1 Corinthians 15:24-25, 27

Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. . . . For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” 

 

And He and will return all to subjection under God.  There is only one God, and God has established one King.  Jesus is trustworthy, has proven it, and already has victory over even the final enemy, death.  So we are secure.

 

And all of the governing authorities rule with authority God gives.  This says nothing of the leader.  Follower of Jesus or not, America or not,  the authority of the office is allowed and instituted by God.

 

Romans 13:1

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

That’s not to say that we look at a leader and trust in them.  We are not to give leaders a pass because they are God’s leader, or because they are better than another.  No.  We trust in God, and in the authority that He establishes, which is wielded in this case by the one who is elected.  And we trust that even what people or even a President might mean for evil, God can use for good,  as He did with Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 50:20.  

 

So, do not fear.  We already have a King, one who gave up His life for us.  We already have God, the only place our hearts can entirely trust.  And we are already secure as His children, purchased by the blood of Jesus, and made heirs of His kingdom, which shall have no end.

 

Vote for a President, but hope and trust only in our King.

 

Teammates,

Matthew Wipperman

Pastor and D.M.M.

the Church

 
 

Back to School - Let's Pray

It is that time of year when school is back in session! We all know that this year it looks a lot different. One thing remains the same. Our schools, teachers, parents and students need our prayers!  We can ALL participate in this and be intentional with how we pray for students and teachers of all ages. Here are some ways to pray. May God’s will be done as you:

“pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18

 

Praying for the Administration:

  • Pray that high level positions will be filled by men and women with Godly values and principles.

  • That decisions for your school are made with wisdom and compassion.

  • For a clear direction from God on how to move your school forward and meet the needs of the students and staff, especially during this time of covid19.

  • For overall protection from the spread of the virus for all of our communities.

 

Praying for your Teachers:

  • That they will accept God’s gift of salvation.

  • “We ask you God to give our teachers spiritual wisdom and insight so that they might grow in their knowledge of you. We pray that their hearts will be flooded with light so that they can understand the confident hope You have given those you called. We also pray that they understand the incredible greatness of your power for us who believe in you.” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

  • “Lord, teach our teachers to always be humble and gentle. Teach them to be patient with each other and us, making allowances for faults because of Your love. Let everything they say be good and helpful so that they words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:2, 29)

  • That they will teach with excellence and creativity.

  • That they will respect each child as God’s creation – unique individuals.

  • For patience and energy to teach with passion each day.

  • That Christian teachers can stand out and make a difference in the school, supporting the values of their Christian students.

 

Praying for All Students:

  • That there will be a high level of respect for each person among students.

  • That students can choose against negative peer pressure and dangerous choices.

  • That students will have high respect for authority.

  • “Lord, may students in this school clothe themselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. May they make allowances for each other’s faults and readily forgive those who offend them. “ (Colossians 3:12-13)

  • For strong, positive friendships to develop within the student body. Friendships that build each other up and keep them from being led astray.

  • That students can control their tempers. (Ephesians 4:26)

  • That students can accept and learn from loving discipline.

 

Praying for Unbelieving Students:

  • That each student will learn of God’s great love, provision for salvation, and accept God’s forgiving Grace.

  • That hurting students will receive Godly counsel, friendships, and compassion.

  • “Jesus, may those in this school who don’t know you learn to put off their love of this world and the things it offers. For we know that loving this world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. May they learn to love you, to crave you, and to be filled up by you.” (1 John 2:15-16)

  • “Heavenly Father, may the students of this school let their roots grow down into you, and let their lives be built on you, so that they may know how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love is for them; and may they see that love through me.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)

 

 

Praying for Students who Believe:

  • That you will be an example to fellow students in how you live, what you say, in your love, and in your purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

  • That you will have the strength and courage to daily stand up for what you believe in, speaking truth to those around you.

  • For unity among believers, that you may unite and work together to impact your school. That you may encourage and support each other, so that none of you may be caused to stumble or fall. (Romans 14:13)

  • “Lord, I pray that those of us at this school who know you may learn to offer ourselves as pleasing sacrifices to you, because of all you have done for us. May we be a living and holy sacrifice that you find acceptable. Teach us to not copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but to let you transform us in to new people by changing the way we think. Then, we will know your will for us, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

  • For the power of the Spirit to speak the name of Jesus, telling of His promise of salvation to all who believe.

 

 
 

Tested

This article is written by Sheila Anderson a memeber of our Leadership Board.

Crises can have the unique advantage of pushing us to examine why we do what we do. When our world is disrupted, it’s an invitation from God to pause, and consider with Him the basics: What is important? What’s not? How will I choose to spend my time, energy, and resources going forward? Like most of you, I’ve been wrestling with those questions in these upended times. So have my family and work team. We’ve asked individually and collectively, “What is crucial to keep front and center now?” I want to reassure you that the staff and Leadership Board have been continually and prayerfully considering those questions on behalf of the Church. God’s work and our mission with Him as a body of believers - to connect people to life in Jesus -has not stopped. While the means may look a little different right now, the goal remains the same. And we continue to trust God to guide and provide.

The world has shifted, and needs in our communities have been revealed more starkly than ever. In response, we urgently need to be the visible reflection of Christ, both as individuals and as the Church. But first, I invite you to pause, and consider with us, what Jesus said to His disciples at a time when their own understanding of the world was being shaken: “I am the Vine, you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 Job one for each of us is to stay connected to life in Jesus. Out of that Life flows everything we do at the Church: worship, serving our neighbors, praying, or meeting together in lifegroups or 1:1 relationships. And that Life flowing out of us is the missional heartbeat of God, to draw all people to Himself.

The Board invites you to join us in all these practices at the Church, in addition to being sustained by God’s Word and prayer, as you stay connected to Jesus. We welcome your prayers as we seek to lead as God desires, and your input, questions and thoughts. You can connect with us at info@livelifetogether.com. God’s richest blessings as you follow Him! 

 

Hot Coal Friends

When is the last time you sat around a campfire? Perhaps it wasn’t too long ago and you can picture the red hot embers in the middle of the fire, the ones that burn the brightest and the hottest.  And then can you picture what happens if you were to remove one of the pieces of wood, or coals from the fire and set it away from the fire?  It begins to cool off and it really doesn’t take too long before it is no longer burning, or red hot.  That is a lot like what happens to us when we don’t have any “hot coal friends” to encourage us in our walk with Jesus and keep us on target for our mission of connecting people to life in Jesus.

 

Living in community matters! And perhaps we know that now more than ever. When something is taken away from us we miss it and we realize perhaps we have taken it for granted. God did not design us for isolation.  He designed us to need each other and to live in community.  As you know at the church we talk about how we go about connecting people to life in Jesus in three major areas: lifeWorship, lifeGroup and lifeServe.  In 2020, since March those areas have looked quite a bit different. And yet, we have still been able to worship and live life together and serve others.  And, we still need community!

 

Thankfully we have technology that allows us to still see one another and communicate and care for each other. Whether it is zoom, or facetime, or email, text, a phone call or visiting face to face from a safe distance we can connect with each other.  We need to encourage one another and stay grounded in God’s Word and pray for one another.  Right now we need to use our God given imaginations on how we can continue “meeting” together. Who have you called to check in on lately?  Who have you sent a note to in the mail asking them how they are doing and seeing if there is anything they need help with?  Who are you reminding of the promises of God that bring us hope?  How can you still serve those around you? (check out what our youth did for their virtual mission trip) 

 

The enemy would like us to be isolated and alone and feel as if there is no hope. He would like us to make excuses for why we can not reach out in love. There are still plenty of ways that we can serve and care for one another.  We have recently started up a Mom to Mom group at the church that is meeting every other week on a zoom call for encouragement and time in God’s Word.  (for more information email Becky Enright at raugustine301@gmail.com) Are you looking for someone to be in a 1:1 relationship with?  (contact Amy Meyer at ameyer@livelifetogether.com )  And you can always pray for one another, perhaps the greatest gift you can give is to pick up the phone and offer to listen and then pray with someone. 

 

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”  2 Timothy 1:6