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Obedience out of your comfort zone – by Joy Krolak

When I was younger I went to church almost every Sunday with my family. I would go to youth group and then join my parents for the adult service afterward. During these years I received exposure to the Gospel and to God’s Word, but I always walked away from every service the same. Sometimes I would have a desire to change, but ultimately I just wanted the assurance that when I died I would go to heaven. I didn’t want to do anything uncomfortable or do anything that would involve risk.

In church it seems like we listen to convicting messages and easily walk away just feeling convicted. But that is not submitting to Christ; that is not living out the Gospel. In the Gospels, Jesus didn’t get upset with those that didn’t know. He got upset with those that knew and didn’t do anything. Take a look at Luke 18:18-30. When Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor it says, “…when he [the rich young ruler] heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.”

He was not willing to respond to Jesus in obedience. He was not willing to give up his earthly possessions. He was not willing to risk it all for following Christ. And Jesus responded, “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

In contrast I thought of Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector who’s mentioned in Luke 19:1-10 (who also has a pretty great children’s song written about him). He wanted to see Jesus and meet with Him, and the opportunity came when that would happen. But he was known for being a thief, for cheating people of money. The crowd was confused as to why Jesus would want to meet with such a crook. And right there Zacchaeus repented and said he would give half of his income away to the poor and pay back four times the amount that he stole from people. And Jesus said, “Today is salvation day in this home!”

It’s not enough just to feel bad or to feel guilty, we are called to repent when we are guilty and respond in obedience. And let me tell you, there is so much freedom that comes through following Christ and submitting to Him. When we are following after our own selfish desires and things of this world we are held captive to those things.

The biggest impact in my spiritual journey happened when I started being involved with a community of believers. Their faith spurred me on and their love for the Lord inspired me to get in the Word and get to know him. And when I began getting in the Word, God began changing my heart which began changing the way I lived my life. God began giving me the courage to take risks, to step out of my comfort zone. If there’s anything I would urge you to do it would be to get involved with a community and get into the Word, or as Brad said so well, to “look intently into the Word and persevere in the Word”. Allow God to speak truth to you, to convict you, and share your experience with others that can help keep you accountable.

Brothers and sisters, every day we have the opportunity to repent or walk away sad. I love what Brad prayed over us on Sunday- that we would “step out of our comfort zone” and choose to obey Christ. Where is God calling you step out of your comfort zone? What do you need to repent of? What risk is God calling you to take?

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Joy Krolak was serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the last two years, working with college students. She’s currently back in the states connecting people to God’s mission for the world, and preparing to go back to Bosnia and Herzegovina long-term. She loves being in nature, reading, playing board games and cards, and having deep conversations with people.

Receiving The Word – by Jack Hebb III

It’s early Wednesday morning, and I find myself on a 3rd attempt at writing the blog for this week. I’ve always considered it an honor and not something to take lightly, but after Brad’s sermon last Sunday, I feel it even more so. Since the service, I’ve been almost overwhelmed with thought (not something I’m accused of often) because it seemed like there were so many things to talk about that were brought up with just 3 verses of scripture.

1. God’s Word is powerful, it is true, and it is life changing. Like Brad has mentioned in several services, it is also unfortunately under appreciated. I’ve been in awe just trying to wrap my head around all the aspects of it and everything that’s transpired to bring about the Bible as we know it. When I think of the “simple” things like the birth, history, and future of the world, or the stories of Godly men and women like Moses and Paul written by the hands that lived them. When those things already impress, something like “Word of God Himself” is mind blowing to put it lightly. Much of my awe turned to conviction though since I, like many I’m sure, have been guilty all too often of not showing God’s Word, and in turn God Himself, the respect It and He truly deserve.

2. Be quick to hear, and slow to speak struck me, as well. First, because I had blog writing on my mind and I found myself listening for the sake of a task and writing notes in my head, rather than being still, quiet, and simply listening because God wants me to hear. Although my intention to write a decent blog might have been good, it still became a distraction. Being “slow to speak” became a concern since I didn’t want to mislead any who might read it or misrepresent God’s glory that it’s written for. As I write it now thoughts cross my mind like whether I listened enough, or the fact that writing was never really a strong point for me. In spite of those thoughts, there is a peace that passes understanding, a pat on the back that says, “do not worry,” and a whisper that comforts saying, “be silent, and I will speak to you.” By no means will I claim this blog is being told to me by God, but that I could find the inspiration from God and lean not on my own understanding. All the meanwhile sympathizing with Moses when he said, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant because I am slow and hesitant in speech.” (Exodus 4:10).

Whether the struggle is momentary or life long, complex or simple, a serious addiction, a slip in discernment, doubt, or even trouble writing a blog to honor Him. The solution is found in His Word, and in Him. There is power in the Word and the Word made flesh, Jesus. Trust in Him, trust His Word because it is the only word you can trust in, because He is always true to His word, and only His Word can save.

When the disciples heard this, they were utterly astonished and asked, “Then who can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26-27)

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

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Jack serves as VLC webmaster. He also works as an IT Admin running the websites of ScreenUSA.net and GrinderCrusherScreen.com. He enjoys almost all typical “geek” associated things, anything that makes him laugh, and especially loves his wife and son.

Navigation – by David Baalbergen

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word
of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:16-18

This past Sunday Brad spoke on James 1:12-18. I would love to focus today on the latter part of that section. It really stood out to me as he was reading it from the stage huddled over his pillar-like stand as he slowly rocked back and forth.

First, there is this idea that someone can be deceived on the character of God. We, hopefully, know that God is unchanging; He is unshifting, He is steady all the time, and leads us perfectly. He is the good shepherd, the keeper of our souls, the granter and sustainer of our salvation. God is good. To put it in the form of another allusion that will help us understand what I, and hopefully James, are getting at here is that God is like the North Star. He is our coordinates in dark times. He illuminates our way when nothing else is available. God is good, all the time.

Sailors in the old times before smartphones and satellites would use the stars to navigate at night. They would find the North Star, get their bearings and be on their way. Sometimes, however, they mistook the North Star for another. You see, there are planets in our solar system that travel around, unlike stars. In fact, in ancient Greece they are called “πλανήτης (planētēs)” which means “wanderer”. If a sailor were to look at one of these he would follow a temporary trajectory, that would lead him off course and the next day be different. All this came to my head while Brad hugged his podium as he read these words.

This interested me and Monday morning I went to the Greek. In verse 17, the word for “variation” is “παραλλαγή (parallagē).” This is a compound of two words, “παρά (para)” and “ἀλλάσσω (allassō).” These coupled with the previous Greek word “οὐ (ou)” (meaning “no”) can be translated, “not in close proximity to change or shifting.” Now that we have struggled through some ancient sailing techniques, astronomy, and some New Testament Greek, let’s get to the main point.

God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good. God is the better North Star that is not placed amongst the varying stars and planets that will lead us into temptation, sin and eventually death, but God stands out from the rest, in no way can his works be mistaken for evil. He clearly brings us forth from our dead, depraved states and parades us into His glory through salvation. This is awesome! God saw us: lost in our dark world, in our dark sin, heading towards death. He intervened through the redemptive work of his Son. But He did not leave us here on this dark world as lost. He is bringing us forth. He is leading us, guiding us towards Him.

Time to get real. This breaks me. So often I feel as though I am on this world with sin throwing itself in my face and I feel abandoned. I feel as though every morning I wake up to run the gauntlet through sin towards nowhere. Until eventually my tired, defeated body stumbles into glorification. This is not the case. This is a lie. I have been deceived, as noted in verses 12-16. God has not left us here to root around in our sin and temptation. God has guided our way through the darkness, through the pain, through the struggle. God has not abandoned us, God has set himself as “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

And not only that, I am not some broken vessel attempting to make myself holy. I am among the firstfruits of his creation. We are highly valued. We are the best of his produce. This is not our innate nature, but this is a status attributed to us because that is how God sees us.

Alright, so finally, thank you for taking time to read this, dear brothers and sisters. Know that you are valued, that you are cherished. You are not left alone to struggle with your temptation and sin, but God has descended, died in your place, and has made a path clear for us through his Word in Scripture. Take heart, my co-heirs in Christ, for we are not abandoned, but, “[e]very good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:17-18)

BP_DavidBaalbergen
David Baalbergen serves as Youth Minister and plans to pursue ministry opportunities for the rest of his life. He currently attends Kennesaw State University and is studying History Education.