Aspen Trees and Christ-Centered Community

Heart-level, Christ-centered relationships with other believers are a vital part of a healthy, growing relationship with God. 

Years ago, a handful of adults and myself took a group of students from our church’s youth group on a several day hiking trip in the mountains of Colorado. It was actually this time of year, we left on July 5th. We had a really knowledgeable trail guide who also served as a sort of spiritual guide as well. Along the trail, he pointed out a lot of things in nature that teach us about spiritual realities. The lessen he shared from Aspen trees is one that I have never forgotten.

A little about these beautiful trees, they’re easily recognized by their white bark. They’re commonly around 3-18 inches diameter but they grow to an impressive 20 to 80 feet in height. They live about 150-200 yrs. You can find them in Colorado and parts of NM and and up in the northwest and some northeastern parts of the US and then all over Canada. 
Here’s the lesson to be learned from Aspen trees, they can’t survive alone. Rarely would you find just one Aspen tree. If you do it’s likely short lived.  By their nature, Aspens are not a solitary tree. Their roots run lateral, just below the earth’s surface and spring up and give life to other aspen trees. They’re roots aren’t deep, but they are connected. So Aspen tree growth is a community effort. They are all connected by their roots and they share nutrients and resources to help and support each other.
This is picture of us church! A huge part of us being rooted in Christ, is also being rooted in one another. We are to share the spiritual nutrients that God gives each of us. That’s true sense of fellowship. 

When you can, take some time to read through Romans 15:1-7. As you read, note the importance of how we are to value and interact with one another. Also, notice the example that we are to look to for how we relate to one another, particularly in vs 2 and vs 7. 

Church, let’s be good Aspens and make a concerted effort to share life with others in a way that helps them abide in and follow hard after Jesus!

Temperate in troubled times…

There’s a lot of heartache and ungodliness going on in our world right now. All you have to do is turn on the news or read your social media timeline to be reminded of that. But the last couple of weeks our Tuesday morning men’s Bible study has offered our participants a much needed, fresh, Biblical perspective. The study has been over the subject of being “temperate” or “sober-minded” from 1Tim 2:2. To be temperate is to be a Christ-follower with a clear, God-informed outlook on life and not in a constant state of anxiety because of world’s conditions. No matter how undesirable and ungodly our world may be, we have to remember, that this world is not our home or our final destination. We are ambassadors (2Cor 5:20) and citizens of a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb 11:28). So even in troubled times we can be temperate!

Our focus should not be on all the problems, but on the problem solver! Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

….let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

How do we become more temperate? Three words: FAITH, HOPE, LOVE.

Saving FAITH (Eph 2:8-9)

Eternal HOPE (1Peter 1:3-4)

Abiding LOVE (1Cor 13:4-6)

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

Would you say that your outlook has been marked by FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE or more like fear, dread, bitterness? It may be time to refocus….on Christ!

Big thanks to Dylan Schafer for leading our men’s study this summer. We meet each Tuesday morning at 6am and would love for you to join us.

Blessings,

Roy

Pursuing Relationships

On imitating Jesus in pursuing relationships with others:

He says “I love you” first, even when we respond with an indifferent shrug or the equivalent of a passing, “Oh, thanks.” And in this we discover why it might be hard for us to move toward others: the one taking the initiative in the relationship—the one who loves most—is the one who risks humiliation.

But imagine this. You believe that Jesus pursues you. You are letting go of old lies that suggest he doesn’t care and that you are forgotten. Because of Jesus, you no longer look for the easiest person to talk to when people gather. Instead, you move toward the quieter ones, the new person, and the outliers. Imagine a group of people who move toward each other—active more than passive, loving more than fearing rejection. They look glorious; they attract the world. This is an example of what the apostle Paul calls putting on Christ and is evidence of the Spirit of Christ at work in us.

Ed T. Welch, Caring For One Another: 8 Ways To Cultivate Meaningful Relationships With One Another

Praying together

Sunday morning during our time of sharing, we talked briefly about the importance of praying together as a family. I might’ve inadvertently made it sound overly simple, but it’s actually very challenging for all of us. Busyness is a real thing and finding, setting and keeping a time to pray together is hard! But it’s well worth it. And sometimes we fear that we might not sound eloquent when we pray, but the Bible says we should actually be careful to NOT pray in a way that tries to make us sound or look good (Matthew 6). Don’t worry about sounding good. Be honest, reverent in you heart, and real. God will hear you and that’s what matters. 
But then what? What should we say? I got the following from Focus On the Family and thought it might be helpful:
Perhaps you’ve never prayed with your children. But no matter how old they are, it’s never too late to start. It helps to remember that prayer is simply a conversation with God.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1.) Sentence Prayer. You can help yourself or your children pray aloud by using a sentence to complete, such as:
* “Lord, I thank you for …”
* “Lord, forgive me for …”
* “Lord, help my friend …”
* “Lord, help me be more …”
* “Lord, help me to let go of …”
* “Lord, give me the courage to …”
* Lord, one of the fears I need help with is …”
2.) Highs and Lows. Ask your children what their “highs” were from the day, and then ask them about their “lows” from the day. Share your highs and lows as well, and then pray for them together.
3.) Prayer Journal. Share your prayer requests with the other members of your family and then record them in a prayer journal. One person can pray for all the requests you’ve listed for the day. The next time you pray together, look over the requests you listed previously and update any changes and answers. This is a good way to see how God has been active in your prayer lives.
5) A.C.T.S. Prayer. This is a well-known form of prayer that is easy to remember:
* A stands for “adoration.” Begin the prayer by simply adoring God for who He is.
* C stands for “confession.” Spend some time confessing your sins.
* T stands for “thanksgiving.” Take time to thank God for the blessings that He has given to you and your family.
* S stands for “supplication.” Lift up specific areas of your life in which you need God to supply for your needs.
I hope y’all find this helpful. I’m not a prayer expert by any means. But I do believe in the power of prayer and I believe that a lot of people I love would be closer to God and one another if they prayed together.
Much love. 
Live for more!
Roy
Sent from my iPhone

We’re all struggling…

We’re all struggling in one way or another. One of the most overlooked, but most effective ways to serve others is to let go of our superiority, and have the humility to ask for help. We can foster real friendship by simply saying “I need your help.”

Would you be willing to share how your struggling with a trusted friend and simply ask them to pray for you?

Showing and sharing weakness is countercultural and can seem counterintuitive, but it’s not counterproductive! God tells us that we need each other. He commands us to pray for each other and bear one another’s burdens. We certainly don’t know better than Him.

Imagine a world where lonely independent superiority is replaced by gracious dependence on God and one another!

“…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -Jesus, John 13:34-35

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2

#bettertogether #ChristlikeRelationships

Better Together

We’re starting a new series this weekend at Grace Bible! Looking to the example of Jesus, and seeking the power of the Holy Spirit, our prayer is that this series will better equip us to live out God’s encouragement to us found in Eph 4:1-3 to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Join us Sunday, at 10:45am!

Christian, Husband, Dad, Pastor