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


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!



A Weekend you Don’t Want to Miss!

Good Life!

First off let me start out by saying how thankful I am to be home from a lot of traveling. From Texas, to Mississippi and then Alabama, I have been away many nights the last two weeks.I had the privilege of teaching at Pinelake Church while I was gone, giving the church an update on some of the team and stories at Good Life. Here is the link if you want to watch.

I heard great things about service on Sunday and I am so thankful to the Good Life team for working hard and being used by God to lead and serve! A HUGE THANKS to Josh Price for teaching while I was out.

Josh taught on worship and I have heard from many that it was inspiring and challenging. The early church devoted themselves to worship as they lived and existed in a constant state of awe in the presence of God. OH, HOW I WANT THAT!

This weekend we are closing out the CommunITY series as we will study the impact the early church had on it’s city.

Today, we have the privilege of living in one of the most beautiful places on EARTH! The Sun Coast is incredible and our proximity to the top beaches in the country paint a great postcard. But I think each of us don’t have to look very far to realize our community is in desperate need of experiencing the love of Jesus. Many people are still struggling to stay above water as the housing market inches its way out of the drastic hole from the last 5 years, jobs are still tough to find, families are falling apart, crime is still evident and making its way into even the nicest of communities, almost 1700 of our county’s public school students are homeless, the school system is struggling with a financial crisis and it is affecting jobs, quality of education and facilities. Finally between 70-80% of Manatee and Sarasota County are considered unchurched. As believers, we can’t choose to bury our heads in the sands of our beautiful beaches while our cities struggle. The things the early church devoted themselves to brought change in their cities… the same should be true for us.

So let me give you a head start to experiencing Sunday… On Saturday, we are partnering with my good friend Jerry Parrish and the Manatee County YMCA, along with many other local churches by putting on the Pride Park Summerfest from 4:30-7:30 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 ours. There are many people, like Jerry and the YMCA, that invest a lot of time and energy into serving this community. 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.

WHAT A WEEKEND! Pumped to see you all again!


CommunITY Update

Good Life!

I am back in town from an amazing student camp in the Austin area. It was a long but rewarding week of ministry. 

So far in the CommunITY series we have studied how the early church devoted themselves to both the teachings of the apostles and prayer. We were all challenged in both areas to take steps in our lives to devote ourselves to the same things. “Start small, start now.”

2 Weeks ago many of you took on the challenge to start reading the Bible. Proverbs is a book of wisdom in the Old Testament and has a life load of practical advice and wise sayings. The challenge was to read one of the 31 proverbs each day in the month of July. I have had a blast reading through this with you. God is reminding me of some stuff I had forgotten and revealing to me new concepts and commands. I am so pumped that many of you are experiencing God’s Word daily for the first time in your lives. Keep it up! If you have missed a say , or two, or more… Be encouraged, it’s not too late to start back today. Start small, start now!

Last Sunday, as we studied the importance of prayer to the early church, we were each challenged to pray 7minutes a day, 7days a week for the rest of this month. For some of you, 7minutes is a small fraction of your normal prayer life. For others, 7minutes is the most you have prayed in a day, ever. Many of you got a P7 bracelet this week, but if not we have a whole bunch available on Sunday to help remind you to pray and to open up conversations with others about the challenge. 

This Sunday we will study two practices the early church devoted themselves to. Fellowship and the Breaking of Bread. Both required intimacy, sacrifice and both helped the early church stay focused on Jesus. Good Life is already becoming a people who love to hang together and enjoy each other’s company. The environment we experience on Sundays reveals we are on the right track but we all have a lot to learn about opening up for the sake of the health of the whole body. We will also have the chance to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. PUMPED!

See each of you at 10:30am. If you are reading this and have yet to join us on a Sunday, COME ON ! We meet at Tara Elementary School in Bradenton! See you there!


CommunITY Part 1 Message

Sermon is Up and Loaded from Sunday!

Looking forward to seeing each of you on Sunday July 7th, 2013. 10:30am for CommunITY Part 2. The early church devoted themselves to PRAYER. Can’t wait to enter into this time together! PUMPED!!


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