Laurel Starling

06-18-17-child dedication-24.jpg

Next Tuesday, on June 27th, Laurel Starling, will undergo a major surgery on her skull. This surgery will lend to a year of healing for her as she begins helmet therapy.

Her parents, Andy and Peggy Starling, were the very first church members to join the planting stage of our church. They have been some of the most faithful and committed people to the mission and vision of The District Church. Countless lives have been impacted by their selfless service and ministry. It has been said over and over again, but there truly is no family like the Starling family. Although she does not know it yet, 3-month-old Laurel is blessed to be raised by parents who love Jesus and have trusted Him with His plans for her life.

Through this next season of their lives of changes to their family, we are asking our church family to cover them in your prayers and love. We are praying they’d rest in God’s Sovereignty and Grace. That they’d see the glory of God shown through this time. We are praying for God’s grace over the neurosurgeon and doctors.  

Many of you have asked how to support the Starling Family. Over the next week, we’ll collect a love offering for the Starling family. You can give directly online by selecting “Generosity for Starling Family" to help them with medical expenses. 

We love the Starling Family deeply; please pray about extending generosity to their family to help alleviate the major financial burden during this season!  

Shame In Light of The Gospel

Last Sunday, Pastor Boyd unpacked some truths of how the gospel impacts our shame. The truth is, while our shame would be completely justifiable before we were redeemed - we now have been given a new identity in Christ.

It's important that we define the differences between guilt and shame. Guilt, which Pastor Boyd discussed from the pulpit as well, is the feeling or notion that you have done something wrong. This is what happens when you fail to meet a standard either you or someone else set.

Shame, however, is the feeling that there is something wrong about you. At its core, it is an identity issue. Knowing this is key to understanding how the gospel will help us defeat it. As we fight back against shame, the greatest weapon we have in our arsenal is our new identity in Jesus.

One of my favorite passages that talks about our new identity is 1 Peter 2:9:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This verse is an excellent summary of who we are. It starts off telling us that we are a chosen race. Just like God chose the nation of Israel in the past, He has chosen us to be his people and his representatives on earth.

Next, we are described as a royal priesthood. We are given access to the sacred presence of God through prayer and praise. We are now counted among the few of ancient times who were allowed in His presence.

Finally, we are told that we are a holy nation. God took special care to ensure that the nation of Israel was set apart from those around them. Just as with them, he has worked in our hearts to set us apart from the world. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ, we are distinct from those around us.

The latter part of the verse is also an indication of how we can begin to embrace our new identity: by proclaiming the excellencies of God, specifically as the one who pulled us out of darkness into marvelous light. Our new identity shines forth when we put our focus on God as the one who gives us our identity, instead of ourselves.

Such a declaration of God's goodness is also an opportunity for sharing the gospel, which is our primary mission. Take some time this week to share with an unbelieving friend how excellent God is, and what He has done for you!

More Than An Employee

Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might."

 

Our beliefs about work are grounded in Scripture ( Gen 2:15). It is something God had intentions for and understanding of before man's fall. At some point in our history, man has removed the connection.  It can be a curse if our heart is not in the right place. What makes your job significant? What makes it valuable? Are you even looking at it with value? One third of your life will be spent at work. There needs to be an evaluation of how we are stewarding this facet of our lives. We have an opportunity to bear great fruit for eternity and to glorify God, or we have an opportunity to waste a valuable amount of time. 

Your ability to have influence is greater than you realize. What you do at work is a reflection of the God you serve. What are you currently reflecting? Your job may not be labeled "Christian" or have an environment that is holy, but does that mean you shouldn't live for Jesus while working? There shouldn't be a secular vs. sacred type of view with work. Our work should be a means of worship to God. When we are not worshiping God through our work, it becomes idolatry.  It can be a source of pride. It can even be a source of frustration rooted in ungratefulness. 

As followers of Jesus, we are to go beyond our job descriptions to fully define who we are.  When we do this, we become a blessing to those around us at work. The opposite affect is potentially becoming a liability or burden. We can look at work in a selfish way. You may be working a job that you don't want to be in. Your perspective needs to change, even if you're in a job that is not your long term goal. Whatever job you have in mind for the future will not change your poor attitude if your heart doesn't change first.  You'll carry your disappointments from job to job. 

Work is an actual act of worship. When you look at it this way, you can begin to see the potential influence you'll have on your environment. We are called to live on mission to our city and to all the places our feet tread.  By seeing that work is worship, the hope is you'll work as unto the Lord and with all your might. You should be one of the hardest working employees at your job. By standing out through your work ethic and dedication, you will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus.  He will get all the glory through your testimony.                                                                                                                                       

Sometimes it's hard to keep ourselves accountable to this view of work. Joining a Missional Community could be a great way to have others come around you to hold you to the gospel standards!

More Than A Parent

Deuteronomy 11:18-21
 

18 You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
 

What would happen if as parents, we modeled the Gospel in our home?  What if our lives were infused with God’s Word, that when we rise, lie down, speak, and walk, it would mirror God’s heart? What effect would this have on our children and the next generation?  The Bible shows us here in Deuteronomy that Gods Word and His commandments are to be evident first in our homes and our everyday life.  Parenting can be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. Let’s look at some examples of how we can apply practical ways to lead our families. 
 

As parents or persons involved in leading children, we need to saturate our homes with the Gospel.  This doesn’t necessarily mean to have a daily devotional at the dinner table at the exact same time every night and pray as a family at a pre-determined time.  Life happens sometimes and cannot always allow such regimented routines.  We must look to take advantage of every opportunity throughout our day to model the Gospel.  As the Scripture points out, it should be evident in all aspects of our lives, not just in brief moments.  Your daily routines should be filled with thanking and praising God, leading your children to see His hand at work.  
 

Saturating your home with the Gospel begins with your own walk with Jesus.  Kids will be able to tell if you are not modeling the very thing you are urging them to model.  We cannot ask them to behave and feel sorry for disobeying; if as a parents we are not vulnerable ourselves and allow our children to see us model repentance.  As Pastor Boyd brought out in the sermon “More than just a Parent”, it’s not just about what we teach them, but what we model to them.  Our children will model everything we do.  They will model how we treat our spouse, our neighbors, and others we have relationships with.  If you fall short, make sure you show your children the path to repentance and God’s grace.  Don’t show them the path to pride and denial of sin.  Worship and love Jesus with all of your life,  in all you do, and this will be the foundation for parenting and raising up children who will desire to know God themselves (Luke 10:27, Prov 22:6). 
 

An action step that you can take moving forward depends on assessing where you are in respect to parenting and your personal relationship with Jesus. As a parent, make sure your own personal relationship with Jesus is secure and founded in the Gospel. Make sure it is healthy and strong. Surround yourself with people who are modeling this well. Look for opportunities you may not be taking advantage of in everyday situations that will point children to the Gospel. 
 

If you are single or do not have children, then find someone with kids that you can walk along side with and encourage or serve.  It may be a single parent where the child is lacking a certain influence or the parent is overwhelmed.  You can have influence over children whether you’re a parent or not. Do not overlook the potential you have over the next generation in whatever circumstance you find yourself in today. 

 

Here are some resources that Pastor Boyd mentioned on Sunday to help you as you disciple your children:

You're Doing Better Than You Think

This time last year, in light of Mother's Day, I shared a phrase to our moms: "You're doing better than you think." 

There was a moment as I shared those words, that I felt a profound heaviness among our congregation. I can't really describe it to be honest, but I felt the weight of the discouragement and defeat that mother's feel daily.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. - 2 Corinthians 5:17

Paul declared to the Corinthian Christians, that they are made completely new. The gospel reminds us that our identity is not tied to our ability to perform, our failures, and/or our shame. Our identity rests solely in Christ. It's in Christ that we can find the approval we seek in Him alone. It reminds of this clip Pastor Steven Furtick shared from the movie Moneyball:

As we approach Mother's Day again this weekend, I wanted to remind and encourage our moms that in the midst of all your nightmares of your greatest failures crashing in on you, you don't even realize you are hitting home runs. You are doing better than you think. You are loved by God and your impact and influence is making greater strides than you realize. 

Pastor Boyd Bettis

 

Mother's Day, In Waiting

To my dear sisters and brothers in waiting, deeply desiring to grow their family:

First, I'm sorry. Hope deferred is so painful. And even harder when that hope of getting pregnant cyclically builds and is crushed. Or in having an adoption fail or the finalization of the adoption prolonged, seemingly endlessly.

To tritely throw a verse at you about patience seems heartless, and to boldly claim a happy ending about the unknown future is unhelpful. Are there many happy endings? Yes. Does hearing those bright, shiny, happy endings help those in the depth and heaviness of waiting? Perhaps... but often not. And then there are times like Mother’s Day approaching when your already-heavy heart feels trampled.

Maybe you're searching to understand WHY God may have called you to wait... because He could easily change your circumstances. 

I don't know why He has orchestrated this type of suffering for you. But He has, for now. I hope He sends the blessing of children into your family, whether biological or through adoption...but He alone knows the ending to your story. Whether He does or not, this season of painful waiting can often lend to questioning and searching about self and about God. One of the hardest, yet most helpful questions I was asked during our waiting was this:

"If God is good and all-powerful, yet He chooses never to give you children, will you still trust Him?" Wow. What a zinger.

So, in the midst of this trial, if someone (particularly someone who has no idea about the weight of this trial!) shares a verse with you, graciously accept it. Not as a trite band-aid (even if they speak it flippantly, as people often do when they're unsure of what to say!), but as an anchor for your heart, mind and soul. 

In the times of grief bearing down on you, when it's elevated by holidays like Mother's Day, Christ alone can bring comfort. Take your pain, your exasperation from waiting, your hope deferred, and tell it to Him (He knows it anyway!). Take your desires, disappointments (and every other emotion!) to Him in prayer. Seek His face. True worship of Him corrects our perspective, taking our eyes off of ourselves and onto Christ. 

Take a moment and praise Him. Praying Psalms 40 to Him is a good place to start.

Sincerely,

Ginny Hobbs

 

Living Under The Mighty Hand of God

Our image of pride may be one of a person at the gym trying to show off, or someone who's wealthy and wants everyone to know by all of the worldly things they possess.  Even though this is an obvious example, there are much more subtle ways that pride can take hold of our lives and daily actions.  We can have prideful thoughts that influence and direct our actions. Pride can even take credit for something God deserves glory for. 

It is important to look much deeper into what pride is and to understand what living in humility means.  1 Peter 5:5 says that "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble," and that only He can truly exalt us. The most dangerous form of pride can be one that many times no one notices. It keeps us from God's best.  It guides you away from God and towards your own ability, which can lead to pain and suffering.  

Verse 7 of 1 Peter 5 shows that anxiety is a factor in how we function as people. Anxiety can come as an affect of the daily strains and obligations of family life or pressures of a job, even bills that need to be paid.  These cares can become more than one can bare at times. Some may try and run from these cares or dump them off on someone else. You must fully surrender your will and worries to your Heavenly Father.  God never intended for us to function alone.  Don't let pride get in the way of carrying a lighter load of burdens.  Allow God and His church to share in your burdens and to offload some unnecessary worry today (Psalm 55:22). Anxiety may be a symptom of not being fully surrendered to Jesus.  

The Bible goes on to tell us in 1 Peter 5 that there are ways to help us accomplish this. We need to be sober-minded and watchful, especially of our adversary the devil. Being sober-minded is being calm, collected, aware of all your surroundings and its potential consequences.  I'm reminded of walking through my yard on a typical Florida day and seeing a snake that I can't confirm is poisonous or not. It leaves my sight and I cannot see it anymore. For the next few days I walk in the yard extra carefully and vigilant, not to accidentally step on the snake and be bitten.  It's not fear driving me, but a sense of awareness. We should not give the devil more credit than he deserves for our distress.  If we resist him and stand firm in our faith, God's grace will keep us established in Him (vs 9). Many times it's our own pride of not being able to let something go. 

So how do we fight it?


Stand firm in your faith by boldly proclaiming God's Word is true in your daily life. Worship God and remind the devil he is not welcome in your life, your family, or anywhere near your mind.  Speak out loud with boldness to silence the accuser. This intense faith should be matched by an intense and sincere humble spirit that keeps pride at bay and God ever present.  Pride leads to a fall and destruction (Proverbs 16:18).  It drowns out Gods direction and presence.  Live out these verses today and you can fight the devil and win.  

Humility In Submission

In 1 Peter 5:1-5, we see Peter set forth two sets of instructions - those for the men who were set up as elders, and those that were written for everyone else. In his sermon covering this passage, Pastor Boyd covered the standards set for elders, and instructed us that every man should aspire to meet those standards. Let's take a moment to contemplate the rest of the instructions.

In verse 5, Peter gives some simple direction to those who aren't elders: "Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' " This has a very simple message, but one that is very difficult to swallow for its target audience.

Peter doesn't specify who exactly falls into the "younger" category, as no numerical age has been given for neither "elders" nor the "younger." However, it would appear that the intended reader is prone to pridefulness, and resistant to external authority. In a culture where we are consistently reminded of our personal freedoms, this could describe several generations. 

So how do we respond? Well, there's a few things to note. We first have to recognize that all authority comes from God. This doesn't mean blind obedience, but it does mean humble submission with scripture as the litmus test for right and wrong. Secondly, since our elders will be carefully selected and vetted, and will be working for our good, we are to thank the Lord for these good gifts to the church.

Regardless of whether we feel they are working for our good, Hebrews 13:17 gives this instruction:  "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

Take a moment this week and pray for the Elder candidates, as well as those that God is still calling at The District Church. 

Why Suffering?


12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.  -  1 Peter 4:12-19


Anytime that I am able to give advice to someone or share my experiences, I am usually able to impart something of value for one main reason:  I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Suffering allows that same return; it aides our growth and brings blessing if we can just understand its meaning. 

Peter starts this group of Scriptures off very clearly. There is not a lot of deep interpretation that needs to be extracted. We should not be surprised if suffering comes in any form. Yes, God is a good God, but no where in the Bible does He exclude His sons and daughters from experiencing pain. As Pastor Boyd mentioned, even Jesus suffered the worst among us. One way God uses suffering is through fiery trials. This is a refining process that needs to take place in order to purify us (1 Pet 1:7).  It helps to bring us to a more genuine faith. Verse 12 ends with reminding us not to think our suffering is strange. Basically, it will probably happen more than once. - enough for you to remember God's faithfulness from the last time. 

Another source of suffering can be from our personal faith in Jesus.  Though physical suffering takes place for Christians in many parts of the world, Americans will mostly deal with this in a social sense. Christians are being marginalized more and more in our culture and may suffer emotionally and psychologically for their faith.  This is just as significant as physical harm, because it can suppress our witness.  Rejoice in this suffering because it brings glory to Christ. Do not only endure suffering, but rejoice in it.

Another clear indication of this Scripture is to understand God's will is not for us to live in an eternal state of suffering.  Like seasons, it should come and go, serving its purpose.  Don't bring any more suffering than what God intends and allows.  Your foolish mistakes and behavior can be a source of unnecessary pain (vs 15). Your selfish actions can lead to sorrow as a consequence of your choices. 

With Christ, suffering is not wasted.  It refines us and molds us into His image.  It reminds us that we need Him, and nothing we accomplish is because of how good we are. It is about how good He is to us. When we entrust our life to the One who is faithful, our suffering has meaning and purpose, it's a testimony to others. We endure suffering because Christ showed us the way.  As Pastor Boyd revealed, we hold our suffering up with support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are able to come through the suffering and stand on it by His work in us. This brings us to rejoice in it and through it! 

We would love to hear your story. How has God sanctified you and strengthened your faith through suffering? How are you now standing upon what once was crushing you?

Baptism

1 Peter 3:18-22 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Understanding Scripture can be challenging.  It can especially be challenging when certain Scripture has been misinterpreted or analyzed in many fashions over time.  These few verses here have several veins of truth that can be explored. Baptism is a significant part of our journey as Christians. Understanding its role is key to affirming and declaring our Salvation in Christ. 

Before we can address baptism in the context of what Peter has written, we must interpret what baptism actually is. Baptism is a symbolic picture of the resurrection of Christ as well as our own spiritual renewal. It is literally the submersion of oneself in water as an outward representation and proclamation of the inner submission to Christ as Lord and Savior. It symbolizes Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. When we are under water, it represents the death and burial. When we are raised from the water, it represents His resurrection (Col 2:12). We leave our sin buried and are raised a new creation in Him. 

This symbolic expression of the heart is important, but it is not what saves us. Only God can save us through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16-17). Verse 20 speaks of Noah’s experience with the Ark. God used water as a symbol to baptize the earth and rid it of evil. The Ark was the vessel used to save Noah and his family. 

As we enter verse 21, there can be some confusion if you only read part of it, “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you…”. Peter immediately illustrates that he is not referring to a physical baptism by, “a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God in good conscience, through the resurrection of Christ.” He was speaking of a spiritual truth.  When interpreting the Bible we must look to the overwhelming evidence of truth involving the subject matter (Proverbs 11:1, 2 Cor 13:1). We can't allow our incomplete knowledge of one or two verses to direct us to a false doctrine. 

Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross that he would be with Him “in paradise”(Luke 23:42-43). The thief was never baptized. 1 John 5:7-8 points to baptism as a testimony of our Salvation. It bears record and witness of our inward spiritual new birth. It is evidence of what’s already occurred. Salvation comes by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:13).  

Be encouraged today. Celebrate baptism as even Jesus Himself did (Matthew 3:13-17). Show your agreement with heavens, report of your decision, but rest assured in your salvation through faith in your declaration and acceptance as Jesus being Lord and Savior over your life. 

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Our next baptism will be on Easter Sunday, April 16th. You can read more about baptism and sign-up to be baptized below.