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Summer Off

Thanks to all of you that have taken the time to visit us here at the NCC Blog.  Our bloggers are taking a much needed break and will return shortly.  Feel free to search through the archives while you are here, in case you missed some of the really thought provoking articles from Robin, Zach, and Mark.

August 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where is God in all our suffering?

February 4, 2010

Current events around the world and especially in Haiti cause many to stop and ask the question, “Where is God in all of this?”  Why if God is all powerful and really loves us does He allow suffering in this world we live in?  Many people point back to Genesis chapter 3 and blame Adam and Eve or free will for all our suffering.  Which to me seems entirely unfair to them, because even if they were able to avoid the temptation, which of  their children or grandchildren would not.  Who before us or including us is able to avoid such a temptation?  It certainly seems today that few people avoid much of anything.  So before we go blaming Adam and Eve, put yourself in their shoes and see how well you fare.

So let’s take a quick look at Genesis chapter 3 and see where suffering entered the world and find out where God is.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”  4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Well there you have it, free will.  They choose to disobey God because the temptation was just to great and will now suffer the consequences of their choice.

16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

After all that you would think that God would want nothing to do with them, but in reading verse 21, I for the first time figured out where God is.

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

God still cares.  God is still there for them to provide and protect, much as He is today.  Later on through Jesus, God provided the solution to this separation that they caused.  In reality, I mean a separation that we have all caused at one time or another.  So suffering entered the world.

Today we see much suffering and we also miss much suffering.  We see it in Haiti.  We see it the loss of lives to disease.  We see it choices of self destruction through drugs, alcohol, and violence.  We see it in divorce.  There are too many to list here, but you get the picture.  Where we miss it is in the lives of those dealing with a marriage that is falling apart and heading towards divorce.  This is especially painful in the lives of children and sometimes follows them into their adult lives affecting future relationships.  We miss it the lives of those suffering with disease and illness that are not readily visible to the unsuspecting observer.  Illnesses like Multiple sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Vertigo, and many others.  They don’t appear to have anything wrong with them, people will say.  We also miss it in the lives of those suffering from depression or other mental illness.  Again there are way to many to list here.

It would probably be very surprising to many of us to know just how many people who attend Northside each Sunday are in this group of silent sufferers.  But to look at many of them you could not tell it.  They serve in various ministries with a joyful heart, never complaining. To see some of them worshiping God, you would think that their lives were just about  perfect.  I would imagine that these are the very people that when they wake up each day know they have to continue to deal with the hand they were dealt, but their very next thoughts are to thank God for His many blessings.  They know it would be so much worse without Him.

These are the people that know where God is, in all this, He is right there, ready to provide and protect.  I can’t say I am personally in this category of silent sufferers, but I do know several people who are.  However if I were, I believe that 2 Corinthians 12:9 would be my verse.  I would own it.

9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If you find yourself in this group, trust in Jesus, his power is so much stronger than our own.

February 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Top 5 most viewed posts of 2009

Title Views
Rich Toward God (Part 2 of 5) 224
What a Difference Christmas Makes (3 of 4) 103
Rich Toward God (Part 5 of 5) 97
The Journey 94
New Year’s Resolutions for Christians 80

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Year’s Resolutions for Christians

With the new year fast approaching it’s time again to be thinking about those pesky new years resolutions.  It is estimated that 100 million Americans will make new year resolutions and that 4 out of 5 will not keep these new resolutions. Below is a list of the most popular resolutions made each year.

  • Lose weight
  • Manage debt/save money
  • Get a better job
  • Get fit
  • Eat right
  • Get a better education
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress overall and/or at work
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others

I propose that we take a different approach for 2010.  If you are a Christian then you have the best guidance for making and keeping resolutions that anyone can have, the Holy Spirit.  Why not try to improve upon these nine characteristics of Christian life.

Galatians 5:22-23

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control.

Love

God set the example for us to follow when he sent His son as a sacrifice for each one of us.  He didn’t do it because we deserved it or because we earned it.  He did it because He could and because He wanted to.  This next year, why not try to show someone love without expecting anything in return and once you see how good that feels, try it again.  Pretty soon, showing love to others will become a way of life for you.

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Joy

Jesus endured the cross because of the joy it would bring us in the end.  Have you ever tried to pick someone out of a crowd that has no joy in their life?  Pretty easy isn’t it?  In 2010, why not try to be joyful. Even in our sufferings we can be joyful.  Jesus has already conquered death for us.  If you are joyful, then it is almost impossible for others around you not to feel joy, also.  Lets start a Joy Revolution.

Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Peace

Peace is much like joy. It’s there for the taking. Jesus says he wants us to have peace. Why not be at peace with everyone and everything.  I wonder if we were at peace would we have all this stress heaped on us?  Would we naturally be healthier?  Only one way to find out.  In 2010, be at peace.

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Patience

It seems that today nobody has much patience. I’m trying to remember a story told by Bill Hybels about a time when he was traveling. Aboard the plane a man was complaining about sitting next to this young woman with some sort of problem. She was unable to control what she said or did and he didn’t like being next to her. Hybels offered to trade him seats and ends up spending the entire flight talking with the woman. After the flight landed one attendant came up to him and said, “You must be a Christian.”  He was surprised and said, yes he was, how did she know?  She replied that no one other than a Christian could have that much patience.  Does that story reflect you?  If not, 2010 would be a good year to make that your story.

1 Timothy 1:16
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Kindness

There are a lot of people out there during this economic climate that sure could use some kindness.  Whether it is to help them with their problems or just a shoulder to lean on, people need kindness.  Since we should have an abundance of it, why not try to show it in 2010.

Ephesians 2:7
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Goodness

Always endeavor to be good and do good.  Living a moral life and looking for the good in others can be the best witness a Christian can have.  Why not spend 2010 being good and doing good things for others.

2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Faithfulness

Living by faith is by far the strongest example of Christian living.  If we knew everything that was going to happen before it did then what kind of life would that be?  We trust God to provide and protect—that is having faith.  Why not use 2010 to increase your faith.  Do something to stretch your faith.  Step out into a new ministry where you don’t know, for sure, how it is going to work out.

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see

Gentleness

I wonder what it would be like if we treated everyone the same way we treat a newborn baby. Careful and gentle, not wishing to injure or harm them.  What if everyone else treated you that way?  I wonder what kind of world we would live in?  Well, it has to start somewhere, so why not with you?  Why not decide to be gentle with everyone you encounter in 2010.

Ephesians
4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Self-Control

Imagine if you were the poster child for self-control.  What would you be like?  Would you always think before you spoke?  Would you never impulse-shop?  Would you never loose your temper with anyone?  Would you never be tempted to do the wrong thing when no one is looking?  Probably not, because everyone would look at you when they thought of self-control.  If you don’t qualify as the self-control poster child, why not begin working on that in 2010.

2 Peter 1:5-7
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

12/17 Jude

Jude is the writer of this short book and is the brother of James.  He writes a warning about godless men who are among us.  They are identified as those that change the grace of God into a license for immorality and they deny Jesus.  Then he goes on to site examples of this from the past.

4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

8In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

If you know of people like this you would be wise to avoid them. God calls us to fellowship with other believers and not fellowship with the ungodly.  While we should befriend the unbeliever to help lead them to God, we should not let them sway us towards their own beliefs or lack of.

This will be the last blog post on Reading the New Testament.  We still have the book of Revelations to read.  Hope you all enjoyed this quick read through the New Testament.

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/14 1 John 4-5

God is love.  John writes that love comes from God.  If you do not love then you can not know God, because God and love are inseparable.  God showed His love by sending His only Son to this earth as a atoning sacrifice.

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

So if we truly love God then we must love others.  During this season of love, show someone how much you love them.  Do something out of love for another person.  Not out of guilt or request, but just out of simple love.

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/13 1 John 3

The definition of love is that Jesus laid down his life for us.  He did this for the best of us and also the worst of us.  He did it so that the worst of the worst would have the same hope as all have.  Once we understand how deep this love is for us, we should in turn show that same level of love for others.  If someone is in need should we not help them out.  Helping others demonstrates that we understand what God’s love is.  Love is not shown through words alone, they must be accompanied by actions.

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

During this season of giving, let your actions speak louder that your words.  This is a favorite saying, Your actions speak so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” Hopefully that is true of you also.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/12 1 John 1-2

1st John was written by the Apostle John.  In chapter 1 he writes about walking in the light.  God is light and the darkness is where evil exists, where sin is a way of life.  If we claim to be Christians and we follow after Jesus, we can not exist in the darkness.  Walking in the light allows our lives to be examined by others and our imperfections to be seen.  Walking in the darkness hides our imperfections, our sins.  We fool ourselves and others when we try to hide in the darkness.  God will eventually shine the light on us at some point and then we need to decide whether to continue in the darkness or accept His way into the light.

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Personally, I prefer the light.  While it is difficult out in the light for all to see, it surly beats slinking around in the dark.  Walking in the light doesn’t mean you are expected to be perfect, it just means when you are not, God forgives you.  He has more faith in us than we deserve.

December 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/11 2 Peter 1-3

In his second book Peter writes about certain qualities we as Christians should possess.  He starts with faith and then tells us to add the following.

Goodness
Knowledge
Self-control
Perseverance
Godliness
Brotherly kindness
Love

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We should exhibit these qualities and they should continue to increase as we grow.  If we strive after these qualities then we will be effective and productive in our knowledge and work for the Lord.  What are you doing to allow them to grow in your life?

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/10 1 Peter 4-5

Peter writes in chapter 4 that we should not be surprised when we suffer.  When we do suffer we should not focus on the trial, but instead we should focus on Jesus.  He suffered greatly for us not for himself.  If we keep our focus on him during our suffering we will in turn bring glory to God as our creator and to Jesus as our savior.

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

19So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Many times we wonder why us?  What did we do to deserve this?  I think those questions are impossible to answer.  But to observe the Christian who suffers and still praises God and thanks Him each and every day they are alive and for all of His many blessings is truly something to behold.  I have seen this firsthand and those people are nothing short of amazing.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/9 1 Peter 1-3

In chapter 1 of 1 Peter we learn several instructions that we need in order to attempt to be holy.  First we must prepare our minds for action.  Next we must be self-controlled.  Thirdly we must set our hope on the grace of Jesus.  Fourth we must be as obedient children.  Lastly we must no longer conform to our evil desires.

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

It is difficult for us to imagine what it means for us to be holy when we compare that to a holy God.  I often wonder what must I do to have my name and the word holy compared in the same sentence.  At least now I understand how to get started in the right direction.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

12/8 James 4-5

James chapter 5 has a section of scripture entitled “The Prayer of Faith.”  It states that if we are in trouble we should pray.  If we are sick we should have the elders of the church pray over us.  When we or others offer up prayers to God in faith, God will answer them.  I guess the question is how much faith is required.  But I believe that if we truly believe that God will answer,  He will.  Now whether it is on our time line or His is another question.  It also states that we will be forgiven and the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Verse 13 states that if we are happy then we should sing songs of praise.  I see many people on Sunday morning who are truly happy during worship time.  You can tell by the look on their face.  I also see others who look, well they look like maybe they backed over their cat on the way to church.  Okay maybe not that bad, but sometimes not so happy.  We should always be happy when we are in the presence of God singing praises to Him.

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment