"Prayer & Fasting | April 25-June 27th"

Spiritual Warfare: Prayer & Fasting by Lee Schnabel
Message Audio from Sunday, April 22nd

On Sunday, April 22nd Pastor/Missionary Lee Schnabel shared a timely and important teaching on the topic of Prayer and Fasting. He challenged us to use this tool to intercede on behalf of our leaders as we contend for their best by seeking God’s provision, protection, peace and presence in all things. Lee also invited the congregation to consider signing up to pray and fast each Wednesday (from April 25-June 27th) as an ongoing support to those who carry the heart and vision for ministry that flows from our collective efforts together as a church.

Prayer and Fasting Teaching Notes: Outline by Lee Schnabel
Increases Spiritual Formation
1.     Demonstrates humility: Psalm 35:13   
2.     Promotes self-control: 1 Corinthians 9:27, Isaiah 58:5
3.     Provides spiritual strength: Matthew 4:2

Extends to us Key Personal Benefits
1.     Greater spiritual authority over the works of darkness: Mark 9:29
2.     Increased manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit: Luke 4:14
3.     Allows us to see circumstances from God’s point of view: Isaiah 58:8
4.     Aids us in knowing God’s will: Isaiah 58:9

Conclusion: There are several exhortations in Scripture to pray for the leaders who provide oversight and spiritual guidance for believers. These include: Philippians 1:19, Hebrews 13:18, Ephesians 6:19-20


Prayer and Fasting Focus | Spring 2018

(April 25 through June 27)
The following is a list of couples and individuals who currently provide leadership for various ministries on behalf of CitySalt. Leadership as it applies to this list is defined as individuals who have agreed to carry responsibility in service to a particular area or group represented in our community of believers. This list does not minimize the contribution of all who participate and support a full spectrum of ministry expressions throughout our congregation, but recognizes those who have committed themselves to roles that provide vision, care and communication that helps to build and strengthen areas of our shared life together as a church.

  • Dusty and Julie Johnson - Dusty serves as Lead Pastor and oversees vision, ministry team and business of the church. Julie oversees our greeting team and is active in events and services.
  • John Rice (Laura) - John serves as Associate Pastor and is involved with discipleship, teaching and overseeing our prayer ministry that undergirds the ministry of our church.
  • Mike and Britni D’Eliso - Mike serves as Assistant Pastor overseeing outreach, logistics, security while participating as part of the teaching team. Britni oversees our Salt Blog and our team of devotional writers.
  • Pam Sand (Jared) - Pam serves as our Kids Ministry Director providing leadership for Sunday classes for young people.
  • Denise Jubber (Ron) - Denise serves as our SoulCare Director providing teaching and guidance for spiritual direction, Triad groups and self awareness curriculum.
  • Randi Nelson (Nolan) - Randi serves on our teaching team.
  • Sterling and Alisha Camden - Sterling serves as our Music Ministry Director and Alisha serves on our teaching team.
  • Margaret and Bill Fairchild - Margaret serves as our Women’s Ministry Director and serves on our church council. Bill oversees a men’s small group.
  • Darla and Mark Beardsley - Darla serves as our Communications Coordinator overseeing calendar, newsletter and website and Mark serves on our church council.
  • Susie Ralls (Steve Fisher) - Susie serves as our church bookkeeper and co-leads a women’s small group with Sara-Etha Schneider.
  • JoVone Kettwig (Bob) - JoVone serves as our Hospitality & Kitchen Coordinator.
  • Heather Woody - Heather serves on our church council and is an integral support for Women’s and Kids Ministry
  • Terry and Colby Sheldon - Terry serves on our church council. Terry and Colby also oversee our potluck and food service for Big Table Sunday’s.
  • Mark Gerber (Dee Dee) - Mark serves on our church council.
  • Stefan Schnabel (Jennelle) - Stefan serves on our church council.

At this time we are inviting you and others to a special season of prayer and fasting on behalf of these leaders. We ask that you consider how you might appreciate, encourage and most importantly pray for our leaders as they continue to provide vision, care and opportunities for people to connect and grow in their relationship with God and others.

 

We have summarized a number of ways you might consider praying and asking God to care for our leaders. The list is divided into two categories: Anointing for Service and Spiritual Covering as they serve.


Ways You Can Pray for CitySalt Leaders

Increased Anointing for Service (Impartation of the Holy Spirit)

  • Discernment - Praying for supernatural awareness of the Holy Spirit’s activity. May our leaders receive timely insight to situations and seasons affecting those who they serve. May they have an increased ability to see and partner with the work God is doing in their own lives and those around them.

  • Wisdom - Praying for supernatural ideas, answers and direction for themselves and our congregation. Would they walk in a wisdom that goes beyond worldly knowledge, experience, training or education. May they possess creative solutions for complicated problems that come up with those they serve.

  • Courage - Praying for supernatural boldness to stand firm in godliness and tenacity for Kingdom purposes.  May our leaders be strengthened to trust God, stand strong and step out on behalf of our church and for others.

  • Favor - Praying for supernatural empowerment and anointing to see and trust God as they respond with faith to God’s leading. May the places they exercise faith and obedience be met with God’s favor to open doors that need to open for expansion and close doors for their protection. Would they simply follow a trail that has already been blazed by the Lord.

  • Maturity - Praying for supernatural breakthroughs and spiritual growth. May our leaders have greater insight and awareness of God’s work. May they grow their ability to lead authentically and serve with motives and a heart of love that reflect God’s Kingdom activity.

Spiritual Covering (Over their lives as they serve)

  • Protection - Praying for a supernatural protection against powers, principalities and strategies of the evil one that intend on thwarting God’s work in and through our leaders. May God strengthen our leaders in common vulnerabilities (like distraction, division, temptation, discouragement and depression) that may keep them from living and serving from a place of spiritual health and fullness.

  • Provision - Praying for a supernatural provision for finances and necessary resources as they trust God with their time and service to Him. May the Lord maximize their efforts as they commit and at times limit other vocational pursuits for building up others and extending the ministry of our church.

  • Peace - Praying for a supernatural sense of God’s presence in all things. Not necessarily an absence of conflict or tension, but a growing awareness and trust that God is at work and we are simply partnering with what He is already doing.

  • Presence - Praying for a supernatural empowering for their current assignments and duties. May God provide assurance, confidence, gifting, skills and abilities to serve and steward the work of God through specific area of service.

Special Note: For more practical guidelines on fasting for a longer periods of time you can go to www.cru.org and search keyword “fasting” to find Bible studies and other excellent resources.


"A Letter to Parents"

Recently my wife shared with me the following letter. It was an honest, yet painful encouragement to parents who are contending for better days ahead with a teen or young adult. Our guiding phrase over the years has been, "We'll fight for you and even fight YOU for you" but this does not lead to warm and fuzzy parenting feelings!

This letter was written by Gretchen L Schmelzer Ph from the perspective of a teen to their parent. It seems to address much of the pain many parents experience while raising young men and women through the adolescent and young adult years.  I felt is was worth passing on to any parent who may feel like they are in a lose-lose situation with a child they love and are desperately trying to hold space for a better day in the future.

Hang in there my friends! May you sense the heart of a suffering Savior that modeled love and served the highest and best in us even we couldn't see or appreciate it. I hope you are encouraged and strengthened in your journey today.

- Pastor Dusty

---

Dear Parent:

This is the letter I wish I could write. This fight we are in right now. I need it. I need this fight. I can’t tell you this because I don’t have the language for it and it wouldn’t make sense anyway. But I need this fight. Badly. I need to hate you right now and I need you to survive it. I need you to survive my hating you and you hating me. I need this fight even though I hate it too. It doesn’t matter what this fight is even about: curfew, homework, laundry, my messy room, going out, staying in, leaving, not leaving, boyfriend, girlfriend, no friends, bad friends. It doesn’t matter. I need to fight you on it and I need you to fight me back.

I desperately need you to hold the other end of the rope. To hang on tightly while I thrash on the other end—while I find the handholds and footholds in this new world I feel like I am in. I used to know who I was, who you were, who we were. But right now I don’t. Right now I am looking for my edges and I can sometimes only find them when I am pulling on you. When I push everything I used to know to its edge. Then I feel like I exist and for a minute I can breathe. I know you long for the sweeter kid that I was. I know this because I long for that kid too, and some of that longing is what is so painful for me right now.

I need this fight and I need to see that no matter how bad or big my feelings are—they won’t destroy you or me. I need you to love me even at my worst, even when it looks like I don’t love you. I need you to love yourself and me for the both of us right now. I know it sucks to be disliked and labeled the bad guy. I feel the same way on the inside, but I need you to tolerate it and get other grownups to help you. Because I can’t right now. If you want to get all of your grown up friends together and have a ‘surviving-your-teenager-support-group-rage-fest’ that’s fine with me. Or talk about me behind my back--I don’t care. Just don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on this fight. I need it. This is the fight that will teach me that my shadow is not bigger than my light. This is the fight that will teach me that bad feelings don’t mean the end of a relationship. This is the fight that will teach me how to listen to myself, even when it might disappoint others.

And this particular fight will end. Like any storm, it will blow over. And I will forget and you will forget. And then it will come back. And I will need you to hang on to the rope again. I will need this over and over for years. I know there is nothing inherently satisfying in this job for you. I know I will likely never thank you for it or even acknowledge your side of it. In fact I will probably criticize you for all this hard work. It will seem like nothing you do will be enough. And yet, I am relying entirely on your ability to stay in this fight. No matter how much I argue. No matter how much I sulk. No matter how silent I get. Please hang on to the other end of the rope. And know that you are doing the most important job that anyone could possibly be doing for me right now.
 

Love, Your Teenager

by Gretchen L Schmelzer Ph, 2015

 

 

"Letter To A Sixteen-Year-Old" by Dusty Johnson

Recently, I was asked by a friend to write a letter addressed to their son. He and his wife were looking to celebrate his sixteenth birthday by showering him with words of blessing and intentionality as he begins his ascent to adulthood. They decided to invite friends and family to submit personal letters that would call out God's best in his life by collecting and reading them as part of the birthday celebration and a keepsake. As I prayed and put my hands on the keyboard for this young man, the following words came to mind. I hope you or a loved one might be inspired or encouraged by my letter to a special sixteen year old.

----

Dear Christopher,

Congratulations on turning 16. This is a special time in your life and definitely worth celebrating!!!  These next few years could be the most fun and exciting as you begin grow and mature into the man God made you to be and your parents have already seen emerging.  As you put into practice the beliefs and convictions already in your heart, you will find yourself building a strong foundation for the rest of your life. As you look to Him, I believe God will show you His best for your life.

Here are words of encouragement that I hope will be helpful at different points in your journey. These are thoughts and ideas that I have put together from my own teen years and from the raising of my three boys. I hope they are worthy of your consideration.

“Don’t be surprised when your parents fight FOR you and even fight YOU for you.”
Be mindful that your parents and other adults will always contend for God’s best in your life (even when you can’t see it or don’t want their help). They are a powerful force that you get to decide if they will be working FOR you or against you. Are you going to spend time and energy fighting them or working with them? Look for their love to show up even when it is uncomfortable.

“With Privilege Comes Responsibility.”
Your parents love for you is freely given and more durable than you think (even when you are at your worst). Trust is also given, but can be easily lost. If you choose to practice truthfulness with them, you will find they can open the world to you with their influence and blessing. If you take shortcuts or take advantage of their trust, you may find yourself fighting the one force on the planet that is constantly on your team, in your stands, and contending for your best all throughout your life. Here are three keys that I believe build trust and will enable them to open up of greater levels blessing and opportunity for you… Communication, Honor and Honesty. How you handle these will lead to limitation or freedom.  Choose freedom!

“Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.”
You will find plenty of people who will give themselves permission to participate in almost anything under the sun. I encourage you to learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit for direction in your life. This voice may ask you to lay something down, let something go, give something away or ask you to practice restraint even when everyone else seems to indulge. If you let Him guide you in the small things, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised how His guidance will show up in the big things. Don’t be afraid to go against the flow, my young friend!

“Be Kind to the 30 Year-Old YOU.”
As you consider the choices you will face in your teens and twenties, I encourage you to consider what your 30-year-old self might say about the decisions you make in the coming years. Will the 30-year-old-you be proud and grateful? Will your choices leave you with baggage or blessing? Will the testimony of your life leave a trail of good or bad consequences for your children to follow? This includes, but is not limited to who you love, how you live and what motivates your vocational pursuits. Aim high, your future spouse and children will be grateful!

In closing, I want to offer a personal prayer that I believe God continues to answer in my life.  It is a prayer that continues to seek God’s Discernment, Wisdom and Favor in all my adventures with Him. As you look to honor God, others and yourself with the choices you make in the years ahead, may you continually look for, contend for, and expect the following guidance…

 

Discernment – With the help of the Holy Spirit, may you have a timely sense of what God is up to and where He is at work in your life and the world around you.

Wisdom - With the help of the Holy Spirit, may you come to know what you are supposed to do or not do? Is it a time to fight, sacrifice, serve, contend, listen, wait, get counsel, pray, move to action or show restraint?

Favor - With the help of the Holy Spirit, may you come to know and expect the Supernatural Favor of God. May your faith grow in the fact that He can and will do miracles on your behalf when you trust the currency that feeds the economy of God’s Kingdom. And may He open doors that seem no man is able to open and may He close the doors that are simply not good for you to enter.

I wish you all the best!

Your Friend,
Dusty Johnson

 

"Deep Water People" by Dusty Johnson

I have always admired what I call, “deep water people.”

What I mean by this expression is a person whose journey through life taken them through some difficult years, but seems stronger as a result. Often it seems human suffering has a way of plunging a person into the deep end of the pool with God. If a person is ready and willing, somehow God transforms them into people of profound faith and great substance. I don’t believe there is a pill, shortcut or synthetic substitute to deep transformation; but pain often proceeds our greatest seasons of growth and maturity.

Somehow, I believe the phrase “deep calls unto deep” (Psalm 42:7) seems to express the idea of our Creator-Redeemer’s ability to address the deep and mysterious places in our lives. It seems as though our loving God looks for opportunities to move us beyond our superficial existence by transforming the interior places of our lives and bringing a sense of calm to the chaos. But make no mistake, in order for Him to make sense of our deep places, we must actively choose to plumb those depths and let Him in. It is this reason I believe our upcoming teaching series called, Discipline and Grace is an important topic for us to consider.  This eight-week series will focus on various spiritual disciplines we have often heard about, but may not be very familiar with.

Spiritual disciplines are personal practices that help us be attentive to deeper life issues. They can also help us develop better awareness of God’s activity in and around us as we strengthen our “spiritual muscles” through the regular exercising of our faith. In this way, we can become people better prepared for going to deeper places with the Lord. This is a personal practice (exercising the fundamentals of our faith) and is essentially opening ourselves to listen and obey the promptings of the Spirit so that we can know Him and walk with Him through any painful or difficult season.

And so, as we look at spiritual disciplines, here’s a question to consider? Is your spiritual growth dependent on personal discipline (personal effort) or does is rest on solely on God’s grace (unmerited gift)? I think the tension between these two ends of the spectrum is well expressed by the following excerpt from Richard Foster’ book Celebration of Discipline…

“Picture a narrow ledge with a sheer drop off on either side. The chasm to the right is the way of moral bankruptcy through human striving for righteousness. The chasm to the left is the way of moral bankruptcy through the absence of human striving. On the ledge is the path represented by the disciplines of the spiritual life. The path is drought with severe difficulties, but also incredible joys. The path does not produce the change or transformation, but puts us on the path where change can occur. This is the path of disciplined grace.”

As we take time to explore the benefits of practicing the spiritual disciplines, may we also look out for the unexpected gifts of grace that will free us, grow us and help us to live more fully as  “deep water” disciples of Christ.

Headin’ to the high dive!

Dusty Johnson

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Here is a list of the spiritual disciplines we will look at in the series over the next few weeks:

1. The Discipline of Solitude and Rest - The personal practice of learning to be alone and at peace with God, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s constant abiding and rejuvenating presence.

2. The Discipline of Prayer and Contemplation - The personal practice of listening and considering God’s involvement, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s guidance and instruction for life.

3. The Discipline of Fellowship and Community - The personal practice of being needed and being needy, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift that you are both a distinct, yet interdependent contributor in the Body of Christ.

4. The Discipline of Giving and Serving - The personal practice of active and undeserved generosity, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s abundant mercy and grace shown through the cross.

5. The Discipline of Simplicity and Sacrifice - The personal practice of de-cluttering life and detaching from lesser things, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s provision and invitation to Kingdom living.

6. The Discipline of Knowledge and Understanding - The personal practice of seeking God’s truth and being a constant learner, while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God’s timely discernment and precise wisdom when you need it most.

7. The Discipline of Worship and Praise - The personal practice of expressing honor, devotion and exaltation to God while being held in tension by the sovereign gift of God being the Creator, redeemer and patient pursuing Heavenly Father who expresses perfect love toward his wayward-prone kids.

Encouraging Words

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

“The beginning point of any discipline is delight” -Graham Cooke

“We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners all or life”- Thomas Merton

“The beginning point of any discipline is delight” - Graham Cooke

Mary Did You Know?

In the first chapter of the gospel of Luke, we find the good news of a divine interruption of to the ordinary through humble participation of a young, devoted Jewish girl named Mary. Through it we get a glimpse into the immaculate conception of the Christ child we know as Jesus. Most likely Mary would have known plenty about the expectation of a coming Messiah, but did Mary really know all that would unfold with this child?

When I think of Mary’s willingness to believe God and participate in this divine interruption to her life, I am inspired. Though the life of faith is full ups and downs, it consist of both the mundane and mysterious. Faith invites us to step into the unknown by yielding to an occupation of the Divine. It requires that we believe, submit and lean into the discomfort of learning new ways to navigate life that seem counterintuitive to our normal sense of control. Yet like Mary, it may well take us in a direction that leads to discovery of greater purpose and a sense of destiny for our lives.

Practicing the fundamentals of both routine and risky expressions of our faith are necessary for developing a heart of worship and honor to God. Like practicing scales on the piano, or free throw shots on the basketball court, it is no different with our faith.This kind of living creates the muscle memory needed to see, hear, and experience potential “God moments.”

This Christmas season, may you be inspired by Mary’s humility, devotion, and willingness to recognize and embrace a divine interruption. Her life was changed forever and it altered human history. I pray you would be strengthened to trust God for your future, and be encouraged to believe God for the seemingly impossible things He can do when we simply trust and obey.

Unto Him,

Pastor Dusty

Listen to the song “Mary Did You Know?” here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbysUxwQqNQ

 

 

Luke 1:36-38 “And did you know that your cousin Elizabeth conceived a son, old as she is? Everyone called her barren, and here she is six months pregnant! Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.”And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say. Then the angel left her.

 

Hebrews 11:1-3 NLT Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Romans 5:1-2 NLT 5 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh-YES

A friend just posted the following on her Facebook page… “The two hour school delay just turned into a snow day… And the children rejoiced!!!” I, too, absolutely love snow days in the Willamette Valley.

I love the anticipation of it coming, and the memories of when it came before.  Yet most of all I love when the light and serene flakes begin to form the beautiful white blanket over everything ugly, barren and rotten from the autumn past.  For me, waking up to an early morning of fresh powder seems to reach an innocent and child-like part of me that brings an unexpected peace and joy every time it snows.

Today is just such a morning.  After a week of bust hustle and bustle, waking to the snow on the valley floor was a welcomed sight for a weary soul. Almost a surprise and bonus sabbath day. For a few hours that early morning, everything heavy and stressful seems to slow to a simple and peaceful crawl.  For me it is a wonderful and welcomed reminder of the strong and abiding presence of the Lord.

Unfortunately the snow doesn’t last forever. Eventually the thick white blanket often turns to a crispy layer of dirty slush and can become more of an annoying hazard than a special treat. But though the snow and feelings of bliss may not linger long, I do take comfort in the fact that God’s presence will never leave or forsake us. His love and abiding presence will not melt or fade away. No matter what burdens we carry, stresses we feel or season we just came through, the Lord’s mercies are new every morning.  His daily provision of grace and mercy is big enough to not only cover our worst mistakes, heaviest burdens and challenging circumstances, but as we turn our eyes to Jesus, He swallows up the shame, pain and stress… they can disappear in the light of His glory and grace.

I’m grateful for the angel’s announcement recorded in Matthew 1:23 that God made his way into our human experience through the coming of Immanuel, which means “God is with us.”  As we look to and remember this great provision of peace and hope, may we receive Him as a gift that meets our child-like needs, as we respond with child-like faith as we turn our eyes upon Jesus.

May grace and child-like peace accompany you today!

Much Love,

Pastor Dusty

 

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Helen H. Lemmel, 1922

O soul, are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,

And life more abundant and free!

Refrain:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

 

Hillsong Version of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

http://youtu.be/czxd5oa-gi0

 

Isaiah 1:18 NLT

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

  I will make them as white as snow.

Though they are red like crimson,

  I will make them as white as wool.

 

Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!

  His mercies never cease.

23 Great is his faithfulness;

  his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Seeking Thin Places

Recently someone introduced me to the phrase known as “a thin place.” This person used it to describe a special place of retreat where she often goes to refresh her soul by spending deliberate time in the presence of God.  Curiously, I learned that many Christians came to know this phrase originating from a story in Ireland around 500 AD.  A Celtic Monk named St. Columba stood on a hill overlooking his community on the Island of Iona and was moved to pray.  He would later liken his experience to that of a thin place – a place where heaven and earth seem to be only thinly separated.

Like St. Columba, I believe there are special places on the planet where earth seems thin and heaven seems thick. Being a Christian camp and retreat director for over 10 years, I completely understand the idea of retreating to special places in order to “fast from the familiar and simply draw near to God.”  Often camps and retreats become special places where God feels extraordinarily close and we can experience supernatural peace, healing, understanding, wisdom and often direction for life.  But I never heard it described as a thin place.

Over the years, I have come to find some of my own “thin places.”  Places where I would retreat to His presence and refresh my soul.  In the early years of my teenage faith I recall a think place at the top of Kelly Butte in Springfield on Sunday evenings before youth group.  I would sit on a curb overlooking the city as Michael W. Smith would quietly serenade me from the cassette player of my VW Bug.  Years later it became a spot on the South bank of the Willamette River near Skinner’s Butte Park. It was there I could seek refuge from the chaos of my work day by using my lunch break to read my Bible or sit quietly before returning to work.  Still years later my thin place morphed into a gravel pullout next to a country barn just off an I-5 exit ramp before Salem.  It was there in the fog of an early morning commute that I would let praise and worship bubble out of my heart and into a recorder that later became original songs I played on my guitar.

Though the settings, activities, and places have changed, one thing remains the same: The need to minimize the noise of the world and maximize the presence of Jesus. A “thin place” may be a location, but I have also come to understand a thin place to be a condition of my heart that longs to seek, and a willingness of my soul that wants to be found. Often it is through the intentional seeking of the Lord where my soul can mature on the inside, so I can be better equipped for life circumstances on the outside. As we become “thin,” I believe we are more receptive to God’s voice and leading by maturing our inner world to better handle the complicated life circumstances of our outer world.

As you continue your journey as a devoted, loving, generous and contagious disciple of Jesus Christ, I want to encourage you to not be afraid of times when you feel thin. Rather, what if desperate times or seasons of weakness could become a time for greater invasion of His Spirit? What if thin places have more to do with the condition and intensions of our souls and the direction of our focus? What if the difficulties and challenges we face actually help us to foster a greater realization of His Divine presence? Simply put, what if our times of weakness can become thin places where we purposefully look for His strength?

I pray that thin places can be times where you can declare the reality of Jesus with John the Baptizer, “He must increase and I must decrease.” Be creative, try something new, or go somewhere unique where you can get quiet and alone with God.  As you do, I trust that He will meet you with “peace that passes all understanding,” and give you new perspective as you move through the present stresses in your life.

Thin-fully Yours,

Pastor Dusty

Scriptures:

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT

28 Have you never heard?

Have you never understood?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of all the earth.

He never grows weak or weary.

No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

29 He gives power to the weak

and strength to the powerless.

30 Even youths will become weak and tired,

and young men will fall in exhaustion.

31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.

Worthiness

Last week a pastor friend of mine defined his ministry as “comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.” Though most of us would prefer more comfort and avoid any disruption to it, recognize the value in leading people to places of discomfort with the intent of growing our capacity for greater relationship with God and others.

This past Sunday I kicked off a series of messages intended to explore the topic of WORTHINESS.  A definition for Worthiness can be expressed as “a belief that you are worthy of love and belonging.” Wrestling with our sense of worthiness is all too common.  Human beings are born with a deep-seated desire for life and vitality that connects us to a greater sense of purpose and existence. Unfortunately we are also all too familiar with various sources of pain and brokenness that leave us feeling less loved and less connected.

As part of our service, I showed a riveting video from a 2010 TEDtalk called The Power of Vulnerability by Dr. Brené Brown. In the days following this talk to nearly 500 people in Houston, Texas, the video went viral and has now been viewed over 1.5 million times (see link below). As a researcher and psychologist, Brown shares how her study of people has led her to discover an uncomfortable and vulnerable nemesis known as shame. She goes on to express the debilitating influence shame plays in hindering a person’s ability to see themselves as worthy of love and belonging. Yet, for us to unlock our own sense of worthiness, we must come to terms with our limitations and imperfections.  She goes on to share how vulnerability can be a powerful tool that can open us to a greater measure of acceptance and connection.

“I think shame is lethal. I think shame is deadly.

And I think we are swimming in it deep.”

- Dr. Brene’ Brown

In a moment of personal vulnerability on stage, she shares how this discovery caused a “spiritual awakening.” This lead her to pursuing a year of professional counseling that helped her get a grip on the importance of vulnerability and its role in becoming a wholehearted and thriving person.

I believe Dr. Brown’s discovery has a wonderful way of unearthing the beautiful message of worthiness found in the life and teaching of Jesus. Viewing the gospel through the lens of God’s relentless affirmation of His love, acceptance, and forgiveness is message everybody should hear loud and clear. It’s good news and it’s for every man, woman, and child.  This truth is both comforting and afflicting.

As we continue to explore the topic of Worthiness, I pray that God would help us better understand the disabling power of shame and the enabling power of vulnerability that can set us free!

Good is the News!

Pastor Dusty

Though Troubles Come

Why is it we are often surprised or discouraged by life’s challenges or difficulties? Isn’t it amazing how we can be enjoying a blissful “high” one moment only to be reduced to a sniveling “low” the next as we wrestle with doubt or worry over some unforeseen circumstance? Pure craziness!!
Maybe not unlike you, I am relieved to know that Jesus solved the conflict between God and me, and has given me the gift of the Holy Spirit to navigate life. Unfortunately, this does not include immunity for all future trouble or conflict in this earthly experience. For our benefit God allows pain, trouble and discomfort to aid in the building and strengthening of the person who is surrendered to His leading. While reading James chapter one this week, I was challenged to cultivate a new attitude toward these trials, and to let God mature me and help me become stronger and more complete in my faith.

This week I pray that you too will find a reservoir of help to guide you through your difficult or challenging times. May you become “mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (James 1:4b – The Message)

Looking to Him,

Pastor Dusty Johnson