Family Matters: Follow Up for Husbands by Rick Sutton

Goodness. 4 weeks out from the series on Family Matters. Kind of getting foggy, right?

Here are some things to remember: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:25-28 ESV) So, given the Scripture, what are things we can do? Here are some of my intentional practices:

1.  Look for and recognize evidences of God’s Grace in your wife’s life…and speak of it. Tell her what you see and how impressed in the work of God in her life. And be truly impressed and grateful.

2.  Tell your wife how grateful you are to God that He would choose to gift you with your wife. Scripture says “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22 ESV)

3.  Be patient. Practice patience. While you are at it, start adding the characteristics of Galatians 5 (the Fruit of the Spirit) as a disciplined plan.

4.  Pray and practice study as a discipline. Demonstrate that you understand the Word of God and can handle it in a mature manner.

5.  Tell your wife you love her often….and mean it. God has given you a wife as your primary responsibility. How you conduct yourself with your wife is more telling about your walk with God than anything else.

-Rick


Do You Want to Hear from God by Don Jankowski

Don Jankowski has been at Good Life from the very beginning. He serves as the Lead Usher as well as facilitates the Wednesday morning journal group that meets at Panera Bread on University and Tuttle at 6AM. Here is a word from him in respect to hearing from God.

Do you want to hear from God?

Do you want to hear God when he speaks to you? Do you want to be closer to the Holy Father? Do you long to be blanketed by the protection and direction of the Holy Spirit?

If the answer is yes, the first step is to want it enough to slow down and be quiet. If we desire our Father to be our intimate protector and guide, we have to be silent. If we want to hear Him, we just have to listen for Him. He is always there, are we aware? The static and interference of daily life sometimes makes it hard for us to hear the voice of God. However we can use today’s tools and technology to draw us nearer to the Father so that his voice is like thunder in our ears. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8)

Many of us pray often to God. We pray for direction, we pray for wisdom and we pray for help for ourselves and loved ones. After we petition God, do we actually listen for His response? Do we silently wait for every utterance of his words? This is hard for some of us, when our lives are filled with busyness and distractions.

In the times of Moses and even in the days of Jesus, there were not the distractions that we have today. Long days tending to crops or sheep held many silent opportunities to meditate and communicate with God. Likewise, travel from town to town was a long walk or donkey ride. Without a car radio, they would travel in silence with little else to do but listen to God.

Today, we often travel long distances, to work or to visit family and friends. Why can’t we travel in silence and enjoy the presence of our Lord? We can. All we have to do is turn the radio or cell phone off! Imagine that, nothing in our car but the presence of our Heavenly Father. Do you doubt then that you will hear God? “Let us arise and go, so that I may make an altar to God, who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone” (Genesis 3:5).

Another way to hear the voice of God is through His word. “Man shall not live by bread alone. But by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4. Is you setting aside quiet time every day to hear from the Holy Spirit? Do you start each day reading the bible or devotionals? When you go to sleep, are your final thoughts on Sportscenter, or God your Father? Make time each day for your Provider and your soul will be tuned to hear God’s word in your life.

Technology today can distract us. Also, it can give us tools to be more aware of Jesus. It is amazing that we can read the Bible in the palm of our hand on our smart phone. There are many Bible apps that enable us to read God’s word in the grocery store or while we are waiting to pick up kids from school or practice. Many of us have daily devotional books, but do we read them? Why not have a daily prayer emailed to us each day? Would you rather read the world’s email or God speaking directly to you daily? Rather than listening to music or sports talk, why not listen to Podcasts? Many of the great teachers of today offer podcasts of their sermons. Good Life Sunday messages are saved for future playback. God is speaking to us through some of his most skilled and faithful servants. Most of us have a daily calendar, where we can set reminders on our phone or computer. We can set them to remind us to pray daily. We invite you to join your brothers and sisters at Good Life at 1:28 every day as our phone alarms remind us to pray for our church. We all set alerts for appointments at work, why not set appointments to listen to God? Let’s vow to use the tools of the world to bring us closer to Jesus and the only life that lasts forever.

There are many distractions fighting for our attention. The enemy wants us looking anywhere but to God. Our lives can be filled with the Holy Father if we slow down, pray and be quietly listening. The technology that distracts us can also be used to focus us. Then surely we can have the Holy Spirit living inside us, speaking to us and guiding us.

The Lord our God has shown us his glory and majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire” (Deuteronomy 5:24). Are you listening?

hear


Journal Group- David Cotrone

So what is journal group? A journal group is simply a gathering of people who spend time reading the scriptures, writing about what they read and then sharing it together with the group.

Instead of making it too complicated I wanted to share some notes from David Cotrone. He is in one of our groups. I love hearing God speak through our people.

If you are interested in getting connected to a group just shoot me an email at jason.smith@goodlifefl.com

Verses:

  1. 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
    1. Scripture commands us to stand and to stand firmly, not just stand.
    2. How interesting to have to remind ex-prisoners of their freedom?
  1. Implies our being prone to run to dead works, not only running to sin, but also running to anything besides Christ. Anything that isn’t Christ = Slavery
  1. 5:4 “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
    1. How can you fall from grace? By not trusting in it. Not by sin, as the world views sin, but by the sin of unbelief.
  1. Reference: Hebrews 10:29 “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”
    1. The Spirit of grace can only be outraged by our unbelief. Grace is the free gift of God in light of our weakness and sin. Then how can it be outraged? By our sin? Of course not. We were saved at our weakest. It can only be outraged by our unbelief in the free gift of grace. This unbelief is submitting again to a yoke of slavery. Think Romans 5:1-11.
  1. 5:5 “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness”

Journal

The author of Hebrews tells us to beware of the “deceitfulness of sin” in Hebrews 3:12-13.

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

 

What is the deceitfulness of sin? How do we avoid it?

Sin draws us away from God in two ways. First it leads us into rebellion. These are our blatant sins. The lying, stealing, lusting, hating, un-forgiving, things we do. These are those things where we are actively ignoring God and listening to sin, believing the lie that these things are better. But sin draws us away in one other way that is even more deceitful then these things.

So many of us know that moment when the Spirit convicts us in the middle of some emotion or action in which we realize, “Wow. What am I doing? I don’t want this. This is sin.”

This is when sin becomes its most treacherous, it’s most deceitful.

As soon as the Spirit convicts, sin swoops in to remind us of our most recent actions or emotions and then urges us as some sort of Holiness Police.

“You can’t run back to God! Don’t you remember what you were just doing? What you were just thinking? There is so much rebellion in your heart and God is so holy. You need to do something before you go back to God.”

Sin could even quote scriptures from Romans, “… do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience…” Romans 2:4

This is the deceitfulness of sin. This is why, so sadly, we as ex-prisoners of the law and dead works need to be commanded, urged, and pleaded with to stand firm in freedom.

What other sort of people have to be reminded not to submit again to slavery? Did anyone have to remind the freed African American slaves not to submit again to the harsh yoke of their oppressors?

The craziest thing is that Paul’s command to not submit to slavery is not chiefly a command to stay away from sin. Yes, we are to stay away from sin. But the more powerful reality is that chiefly this command is a command to stand firm in the fullness of the freedom of the cross in the midst of your sin. Daily, moment by moment we are prone to wander, yet we hold fast to the Cross, not to our fighting against that sin. We fight against sin because we are free regardless of that sin.

He is commanding them and me to not run to dead works. There is nothing I can do, sinful or otherwise that can alter my place before God. If we want to not fall away from grace, then we trust grace as our only hope.

What do I value as more sinful, gross, blatant sins or trusting in dead works? Which is worse, adultery or trusting in dead works? How about murder verse dead works?

I pray that I would see that trusting in dead works is as weighty a sin as all the rest combined! It is so easy to think that trusting in dead works is almost some sort of holiness in us! It isn’t, it is sin and the worse kind.

It is you falling from grace! Trusting in your dead works is the only way to fall from grace! Trust in the freeness of the Cross. It is your only hope.

This is what makes grace so hard. This is the offense of the gospel.

The gospel of Christ urges us in the middle of the black filth of our sin to say, “Before I move out of this sin, even as I stand here, knee deep in the filth of my sin, Christ is enough!”

In Galatians 5, Paul is urging these people to not believe the deceitfulness of sin that is yelling to them, “Be circumcised. This will get you closer to God.” What is your circumcision today? What dead work do you think you can add to the Cross that will save you?

Lord, I want such scandalous hope in grace. To laugh in the face of sin and its lies that dead works could ever help me. You are not bargained with. You are holy and as such I am lost with no hope. I have nothing. No work. No hope in anything. Not yesterday. Not today. Not tomorrow.

All I have is what you give me. All I have is grace because you have in eternity past, in love, predestined me to sonship. Why? Because of my works? No! Based on no work I have done, good or evil, you have saved me, so that the purpose of election might stand. You have given me a salvation that comes through nothing except the crushing of Christ in my place.

All is grace. Stand firm.


The Wilderness by Josh Smith

Good Life Church is currently working our way through a 16-week series called “Mark it Down.” Throughout this series we will journey through the Gospel of Mark. Jason has challenged the leadership to study Mark in our personal time and pray for God to speak to our church through it. As I spent time in the first chapter of Mark, one aspect stood out to me above all else—the wilderness. We find John the Baptist, baptizing people in the Jordan River. John is not simply baptizing a few people. The scripture says, “The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” Mark 1:4-5 (NIV). John is baptizing multitudes of people when Jesus arrives. John baptizes Jesus, the Heavens tear open and God speaks! The Father says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11b). Can you imagine this? This moment has to be one of the most glorious in all of scripture! Many may consider this the greatest mountaintop experience of our existence.

Immediately after this, we might expect parades and massive celebrations. By modern standards, you may expect TV interviews and talk shows, magazine covers and product endorsement deals! I mean, God just ripped the sky open and spoke His approval! However, there is no celebration for Jesus. There is not even a brief moment to pause and reflect on this gloriously amazing occasion. The scripture says, “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels attended him” (Mark 1:12-13). I don’t know about you, but my human mind skips like a record here. My human nature begins to question God’s logic on this one. Then, gravity sets in. Who am I to question God? If there is disconnect here, it’s on my end, not His!  In the book of Isaiah, the prophet records this, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Our views of the mountaintop experiences in life are incomplete at best, and we emphasize the parts we understand. We see them as cause for celebration and tend to relax. We convince ourselves that things are going great right now and we deserve some downtime. What a dangerous way to live. The enemy never takes a day off or stops searching for ways to destroy us. Scripture says, “Be alert and of sober mind. You’re enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We have to learn to see these moments for all they are worth. While they are a cause for celebration, they cannot be the source of all joy in our lives. God often gives us these moments to embolden us and prepare us for the wilderness ahead. For Jesus, God knew what He was about to walk through and He visually and audibly declared His love, approval and support for Him before sending Him into the wilderness. If you get nothing else from reading this, don’t miss what God is doing here. He is showing His love and approval for His son, both shamelessly and publicly. He knows what Jesus is walking into. He see’s the trials ahead. And I’m not just talking about the next 40 days! God knows His only son is going to become sin, that we might taste freedom! When we think about it this way, it’s not so foreign. We do this in our lives with those we love all the time. Every time I am about to leave for another tour with my band, my wife goes out of her way to make sure I know how much she loves me and I do the same for her. She knows I’m about to spend my nights either driving through the dark or, at best sleeping on a bus at 70mph. I will spend my time away in a whirlwind that lands in a new town every day. At the same time, I know that she will have to carry all responsibilities of our household by herself. She will walk and feed the dogs, do all of the cooking and cleaning and sleep alone at night, all while working a full workweek. It is vital that we both fully know that we love each other before we walk into our own wilderness. It doesn’t stop there either. While we are apart, we do our best to remain connected through phone calls, text messages, even FaceTime chats. Why? Because we need support in the wilderness! Distance, time, temptation and weariness can destroy us. The scripture tells us that the angels were attending to Jesus, even in the midst of His wilderness experience. So why do we have to walk through the wilderness at all? For victory and God’s glory! God does not allow us be tempted and tried just to watch us fail! He has given us his Spirit and all the strength that comes with it! “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world…” (1 John 4:4). Every part of our faith journey serves a purpose. The mountaintop, the valley, the wilderness—wherever you are, God is with You. He has a plan for your life, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you…” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).


More than a Song by Josh Smith

ImageAs many of you know, Josh Smith joined the Good Life team on Easter Sunday. Though Josh is an accomplished vocalist, musician and songwriter, I was most impacted by his humility and teachability during the interview process. (Sometimes rare characteristics for people who spend a lot of time on a stage or platform). As Josh continues to grow into his role at Good Life by leading worship on Sunday’s, discipling young worship leaders and developing worship bands, he also is responsible to set an example for worship throughout the week. We are blessed to have Josh as a part of our team and the following post is the first of many that will help us re-define and re-direct both the idea and practice of our worship of JESUS CHRIST.

-Jason Smith

MORE THAN A SONG 

Have you ever walked away from a Sunday morning worship service feeling a little let down? Feeling like you didn’t really connect with the Lord? Wishing you had reached the “mountain-top”, but instead feeling like you are still in the “valley”. I know I have. There are a lot of possible factors. Maybe, the songs weren’t my favorite, or the lighting was all wrong. Maybe, the people sitting next to me were singing off key (and so was the worship leader). It was either too loud or too quiet or both at the same time, if that is even possible. The pastor never even said hello to me. The coffee was way too hot and the cream was too cold! Somebody was rude enough to eat all the muffins. And don’t even get me started on worship slides! I mean, how am I supposed to sing along if the person running the program can’t even keep up with the band? If you’ve ever found yourself speaking or even thinking along these lines, we have something in common. We have both, at times, grossly misunderstood worship!

True worship has little to do with music, and much to do with our lives. In Romans 12, Paul tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the Lord. It even calls this our “…spiritual act of worship”. It challenges us, not to conform to the world, but to be transformed through the renewing of our minds. Worship is born out of our daily walk with Jesus. Before we can sing, “We raise our white flag and we surrender all to You”, we have at least be in the process of doing it! Jesus is much more concerned with the lives we live than the songs we sing. When we live our lives outside of obedience to Him, our songs are empty and offensive to Him.

In the book of Amos, God’s people had abandoned the ways of the Lord, but had the nerve to still carry on church services! God said this about their music, “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:23-24

        So, why bother with church at all? You might say, “If Jesus is more concerned with our daily walk, certainly He won’t mind if we just don’t show up on Sunday”. Or you could say, “Well, my walk isn’t so great and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”

Let me share with you what I am learning in response to these thoughts. God WANTS us there! Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” You see, we absolutely need God AND each other. God has created us to depend first on Him, and second on our faith community (local church). It doesn’t matter if you are far along in your journey or just starting out, the weekly gathering of the local church is for you!

So there is value in being there, but what about participating? What if singing, or clapping, or raising hands isn’t “your thing”? The scriptures speak to that idea as well. In Ephesians 5:19-20, we are told to address one another with, “…psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Singing along isn’t about your talent level or how you feel that morning. We sing to celebrate who God is, what He has done and what He has promised to do! We sing to express our gratitude! We sing to remind each other to chase after Jesus!

Worship is more than a song. Worship is more than a positive energy or a warm and fuzzy feeling. Worship is more than what we do from 10:30-11:45 every Sunday at Tara. Worship happens as we follow Jesus. It is a life sacrificed for Him everyday.

So I leave you with this thought to chew on, if you want the “mountain-top” experience this Sunday, spend Monday through Saturday climbing the mountain.

Climbing the Mountain,

Josh Smith, Worship Pastor


Good Life Church Update 7-29-13

Here is a video including a recap from Good Life Church’s 7-28-13 service as well as a preview of our next weeks service.

See you on Sunday at Tara Elementary School in Bradenton @ 10:30am

Bring a friend!


Opportunity to Serve TODAY! 4:30-7:30 (3pm Showtime if you can help set-up)

Just a reminder, Good LIfe is partnering with my good friend Jerry Parrish and the Manatee County YMCA, along with many other local churches by serving at the Pride Park Summerfest from 4:30-7:30pm at Community Church of God at 1003 63rd Ave East. Bradenton. Come, bring your family, meet new friends and help serve an area of our city that has seen it’s share of struggles. Pride Park is made up of many amazing people and families just like yours. There are some incredible people, like Jerry and the YMCA, that invest a lot of time and energy into serving this community and this Saturday is just another example.

Many Good Lifers have already confirmed that they are in to help and to be there to support. Admission and Food is free. I can’t wait to hear the stories of what is going to happen as our people connect and live out the fact that “love changes everything!” I have included a pic of the flyer to provide you with additional information. Come flexible to step in a serve when and where needed. 

Jerry and the team are looking for some help with set-up, so if your free for a 3pm arrival, I am sure it will be appreciated! Can’t wait to hear how well it goes today!

 

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