Guest Post by Kerrie DeBerry

Yesterday at church as my husband was doing announcements before preaching, I came up from the nursery to see my 3 year old at the pulpit by his leg. He handled it well and she came back to me in the pew, while I grinned as the entire church watched this all play out. Now, how would I have responded to my 3 year old at home WITHOUT 200 eyes looking at me? Is there a gap between how I respond to things in private vs. public? If someone was a fly on the wall of my home what would they observe? Of course we are all different to a degree in the comfort of our own homes. I wear things at home I am not going to parade around church in, I have inside jokes & teasing, playful things with my husband I will not share around others. We have family quirks just for us, not for the world to see. This is not what I mean. When evaluating this area of my life in a healthy way, I am referring more to my heart, my spirit, how I am relating to God. How do I speak to my kids when giving general directions or when correcting? How do I respond when the clothes I just spent 30 min folding are thrown around the floor? In our home, how do I speak about other people not present? How do I speak to my husband? How do I use my time, my energy? How do I use my phone? Is what I post indicative of reality or making myself look good, showing my good works before men? Or is it a healthy, truthful representation of my life, my kids, and authentic? And is my phone or something else making me far less present with my family or am I exercising wisdom with my time?

Our life in private and the thousands of decisions we make when no one is looking will eventually spill over. Charles Spurgeon said, "Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than a talented hypocrite." And when there is too big a gap between our private & public life do we run to fix it or try harder or fake it better? No, we cannot attempt to touch ourselves up and make ourselves something other than we really are. Instead, we need to first run to Christ, the one who takes us as we are but promises not to leave us as we are. He has sent his Spirit on a mission to change every part of us, in every context of our lives. So as we depend on the Holy Spirit's power instead of our own ability to patch up our morality we slowly but surely become authentically Christian in private and in public.

If we are united to Christ, the Holy Spirit is cleaning us from the inside out, making us more Christ-like. So when we are hypocrites, when we are harsh with our kids, when we do things that make us feel the weight of our sin, we run to him for forgiveness and grace. He's lived each day perfectly on our behalf-in private and public. And then by his Spirit's grace and power we strive to close that gap between public and private a little more each day, knowing he is with us as we do so. 

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My Open Letter to the Church

Guest post by Bob Ouzts

 
 

To the Body of Christ,

Our country is awash in division and contrast. Just a few weeks ago two million people were celebrating in the streets of Chicago for the Cubbies and last night thousands were in those same streets not to celebrate a victory but to protest one. Yes, a victory for some and for others a great loss. For some a sense of freedom and for others real fear. 

Our country was founded on the heels of division and today our country is still divided. We have red states, blue states, plastic bags and no plastic bags, no guns, and more guns. We seem to be at war with our own pledge to be indivisible. 

God's word says he sets up kings and he takes them down. Yet, half of our country is in fear of the one president leaving and the other of the president coming in. Our United States is easily diagnosed as severely divided. 

As Christ followers, we must remember that we are only one nation when we are under one God and never will we be one nation under one man. (I am speaking here of the Church.) 

The Church is not a country; it is an invisible kingdom with an invisible King who made himself visible. We are exiles and aliens in a foreign land, the poor who are made rich, and the weak who have been made strong. We are the "called out ones;" adopted sons and daughters of God. We are not our own; we are his. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! And not just say so, but act so!

Let us strive to resist the temptation to be in the middle of a mud-slinging contest. Rather let us work hard to wash the mud away. Remember love covers a multitude of sins. 

Yes, there are strong divisions and strong opinions (and we all have them), but they are like a clanging cymbal without love. 

Laws were written for broken men, but love was written when Jesus was broken for us. The U.S. Constitution was written in ink, but God did not give the Church a constitution; he gave us a covenant that was ratified in his own blood.

Jesus was not brought forth from a polling booth, nor was he put in place by the popular vote or an electoral college. Jesus wasn't inaugurated at the White House and he did not fly in on an Air Force one. He came in on a donkey to set up his kingdom. He does not sit in an Oval Office, but rather at the right hand of the Father. More importantly, we did not elect him, he elected us. He did not win an office or force his agenda, he was in perfect submission to authority and was crucified in order to bring all men to himself. 

His law is love and his commandment is to love. The highest law is not enacted by the Supreme Court, the highest law came from Jesus (when he summarized all the Law and the Prophets): to love God and love one another as he has loved us. A royal law for his royal priesthood.

Those who are in real fear need real love. Remember we preach and we believe that "a perfect love casts out fear." We may be free as Americans to protest, and but we are bound as Christians to love one another.

Many are looking for change but few are willing to be changed. Jesus isn't interested in changing America by way of an election or government edict. He is, however, interested in changing his Church into his likeness by his grace.

Our enemy is not wearing flesh and blood, but our King became flesh and blood to put to death the world, the flesh, and the devil (all of our true enemies). American democracy is the way our country is ruled. It is ruled ultimately by its people and, therefore, its best ruler is broken. There are broken people in the streets rioting, there are broken people peacefully protesting and there are broken people here this morning complaining about those broken people.

God asks us to pray for those who rule over us. I think now is a perfect time to ascribe rulership to our Father and pray for the men who he alone has permitted to rule over us. 

Jesus did not ask us to go and make Republicans or Democrats. He asked us to repent and believe and go and make disciples. It must break His heart when we say "I'm with her" or "I'm with him." We must worship our Creator, not his created people or its institutions. Honor his people, yes. Respect institutions, yes. But never are we to worship them. 

He did not say "when they go low, we go high." He said when I go low my Father is lifted high. So what are we to do if Jesus has saved us from the world? He said to be in it but not of it. He said to wash feet, give a drink not only to your own people but bless those who come against you. He said to share the Gospel. Yes, there is good news for sinners of which we are the foremost! Let's not get distracted by or caught up in the buzz on social media or in arguments or even "Making America Great Again." Let's stay focused on Jesus Christ instead and Make His Commission Great Again!

To close, let's meditate on the words of Daniel found in chapter 7:

"I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

In Christ,

Pastor Bob Ouzts
The Bride Church 
Yuba City, CA

 

surrendering my control and pride.

I have come to realize that my controlling personality stems from pride. Every aspect of my life is critically planned, analyzed, and executed because I have a fear of not being in control of every situation. If you did not already see my previous post HERE, I am 13-weeks pregnant with our third baby. on the way Each pregnancy has been so unlike the other, but this one has been the hardest on me.

Around the 8 week mark I began to experience intense nausea, fatigue, and headaches. Unlike the migraines I experienced with Max (which seemed to occur certain times of the day), this lasts all day long. For the past five weeks our little love seat in the living room has been my new home. There are days when I rely so much on Calvin to get snacks ready or to help me with small tasks because I physically cannot do much of anything.

Nick, my mom, and my sister have been by my side since day one of all of this and could tell that I really am not feeling well. My normal demeanor is to go-go-go and I rarely complain about getting things done because it is in my nature to just get things done. I can remember way too many times when I would (and still do) ask one of them to help me buy groceries, cook dinner, clean the floors, or help with the boys. In my mind it was hard for me to ask for their help, not because I didn't think they were capable of doing it, but because they might not do it my way. 

To be honest, most of the time I think that my way of doing things is the right way. There really is no other way. I take pride in how I clean. I take pride in how my boys act. I take pride in my home. I take pride in how I organize. The problem with this mentality though is that when one of these things does not go as planned, I get depressed, sad, and feel like a failure. Trying to control all these areas in my life because of my pride places an unrealistic expectation upon myself and others. 

So while being on the couch sick is not fun at all, I am thankful that God has used this low point to show me those places in my heart that I need to surrender my pride. I am not always going to do things right and I am not always going to be well enough to ensure all my ways are perfectly executed. Pregnancy has always been a reminder to me that I am not in control of my life. There is no way for me to ensure the safety and health of our little baby growing inside of me, even with the best nutrition, rest, etc. etc. and it daily humbles me to know God will always be in control; not me. This also comforts me.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
— Proverbs 11:2
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.
— Proverbs 16:19
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 My mom and great aunt cooking some healthy meals for me and the family. 

My mom and great aunt cooking some healthy meals for me and the family. 

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