Learning About God at the Beach

Standing on the beach and staring at the ocean can make us feel small. We may even feel like there is so much going on around us (birds flying and feeding, waves never ending, avoiding sea weed and jellyfish). With all of this going on around us, it can be difficult to see or hear from God; or even allow our minds and spirits to be quiet and calm so we can learn more about God.

Two mornings in a row, I’ve had the opportunity to just walk on the beach and learn 3 amazing things about God, God speaking to us, and something about us:

1) We have heard God’s love is like the ocean (vast, endless and never ending). As the waves were coming in, it occurred to me something is trying to stop them or at least break them apart. Then, looking at the land and feeling the breeze, it dawned on me that we are like the land and the breeze. We’ll try and try to stop God and His love from reaching us; but it just keeps coming and reaching out for us.

2) We can see there are many waves and they can be loud. We know the waves are there but we also have ways of tuning the sound and the presence of waves out. It was at this point I felt God saying the waves are like His voice, His words trying to speak to us. A question to think about is: How often do we really pay attention and tune in to hear the voice of God instead of ignoring it? Water is life. Without water, the land would dry up. So is the same with us when we try to avoid and run away from God. We need His life giving spirit each and everyday.

3) Last but not least. This morning there was a lone sea gull trying to search for food and wandering about. This reminded me of us, as humans. We are constantly reaching out and wandering about to find something, anything that will fill us up. Just as the water kept coming toward the land and the sea gull, God is always reaching for us. It is in Him we find fulfillment. It is in Him we find spiritual nourishment. It is in Him we find our purpose.

My prayer is that we never look at the beach or the ocean the same way again. May we be the people who see God everywhere!

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New Life

Ever had a day that you feel like you did everything wrong and nothing went right? Of course you have! Everyone has at some point in our lives. This is true before we encounter Jesus Christ and come to know him and it even happens after we come to know him as Savior.

Something to remember, if you’re a believer remember this and if you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, listen up, you are a new creation in Christ. (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)

You may feel like you make mistakes and keep sinning in your life. We ALL make mistakes, but we should also remember that our sin has been bought and paid for by the same Creator who made us! If you have never personally met Jesus Christ in your heart, let me introduce him. Jesus was a man who live about 2,000 years ago. We can find much about his adult life in the Bible and about his life in other reliable historical sources. He was a man who did not sin and was tempted in every way possible that we are tempted today. Don’t believe me? Right after Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness (really a desert) and fasted from food for 40 days. Jesus knows what it is like to be deprived of physical nourishment. The Tempter came and said, “if you’re hungry turn these stones into bread to satisfy your hunger.” Jesus responded, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word from the mouth of God.” Jesus was tempted to make things happen himself rather than trust in God. We are tempted to rely on our own strength more so than trusting in God for provisions.

Then Jesus was placed on top of this tall mountain and the Tempter tempted him to jump saying, “He has commanded the angels concerning you and they will take you in their hands and you won’t hit your foot against a stone.” Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Do not test the Lord, your God.” Jesus was tempted with his very life, if he jumped his misery would have been over, but he would have missed out on the fulfilling life God had planned for him.

The Tempter placed Jesus on top of the world and said, “All these kingdoms could be yours if you just bow down and worship me.” Jesus said, “worship only the Lord your God.” Jesus had every opportunity to take the life of luxury and not have to live the life he did, but Jesus still chose to go to the cross for you and for me. The luxuries in this world stay here and do not go with us, and they only provide short term satisfaction. Jesus knew true joy and true life is living the life God intended.

Sinning means veering off the path. When we sin, we get further away from God. Our sin, my sin, needs to be paid for to bring us into the right relationship with God. Jesus died on the cross so that we have the opportunity, you have the opportunity to realize you have value and can be made right with God. Because of this, you have the chance to seek God with your whole heart and experience life as God intended. Life is not always easy, but being made right with God allows us, allows you to know forgiveness which gives peace and joy beyond understanding.

You have the choice to accept this love God has for you. Whether or not you believe in God, God believes in you and desires you to get to know him and spend time with him in the Word (Bible), with his people (church worship and community), and personal prayer time (speaking with God daily).

No matter what you have done wrong, or feel you have done wrong, God is always there waiting on you. Forgiveness and new life is yours! Jesus rose from the dead for YOU to have new life.

God created the heavens and the earth; but YOU are his most valuable creation!

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Mission Trip Begins

I have the great opportunity to lead a team of 18 people, most of whom, have not been on an short term mission trip out of the state.

We are not thinking we’re going there to do stuff for the people, we have something different in mind. We desire to learn, love, listen to and show people the light and love of Jesus Christ.

Our goal is to learn about a new culture and experience and witness how other people live when we escape from the suburbs. This will be important to meet people where they are.

We get to love. The work we do with the community will be done out of love so that we can help those who need help. When we go, I pray, others will see the reason we’re there is not to do the work for them; but yo serve and love them so they remember they are not alone.

We never know who we’re going to encounter or what the other person might be going through. I pray we all have listening ears to hear what’s said and respond out of love. This is for when we travel, when we’re there and this “task” maybe within our team itself.

All of the above is great but the most important thing we will do is to show others the light of a Jesus Christ. Our mission is to serve out of love and to speak about Christ. There may be members of this team who do not yet know Christ, but I pray they begin to know Him on this trip so all people can see the joy life can have and the peace He brings.

What a task this next week! With God working through us and in us, it will be incredible what happens.

Many Blessings

So often in this life, we tend to focus solely on our own circumstances and situations. When we think others are getting things we want, or we feel we deserve, we can place ourselves into a dangerous mindset.

There is a reason the last commandment is “Do not desire your neighbor’s house. Do not desire and try to take your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17).

Always looking at what other people have and what we don’t have makes us lose focus of the many ways we are blessed. We have many more blessings than we realize, all we need to do is open our eyes and our hearts.

The first commandment is “You must have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2). Keeping this commandment means that we are trusting in the guidance of God and the ways God works through us. We can have so many “gods” in our life (TV, video games, computer, phone, friends, food, etc…), but none of these “gods” can ever be as personal and as life giving as Jesus Christ.

The truth is that Jesus Christ (God in human flesh) came to earth to live a life we couldn’t live and he died a gruesome death. Jesus knows how we are tempted, how other “gods” try to take control of our lives, but he still died for you and for me. 3 days later, he proved death and the world could not keep him down, so he rose from the dead (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 23, John 20). He rose to show the power he gives us through the Holy Spirit is enough to strengthen us and to show us we truly have everything we need in Christ and do not need to worry we do not have enough. You have been gifted with so much more than you may know. Seek to live a live of gratitude and you will find abundant peace and joy from the Creator of the Universe who perfectly created you.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
1) What are some things I am thankful for?
2) What will I do to not allow the other “gods” to control me?
3) Who can I help to remind them they are loved and adored by God?

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Live Differently in God’s Presence

This message is over Exodus 34 and how Moses shined after meeting with God. Have you felt like people don’t, or you don’t, feel differently after going to worship? This message is hopeful because God gives us chance after chance after chance. I pray you’ll see how God is calling each of us to be the lights that shine as a city on a hill to bring people into the Living God’s presence with us.

Streamed live on May 31, 2014
Youth Director, Ryan Stratton, leads this message on “Living Differently in God’s Presence”
Scripture: Exodus 34

Grace and Peace to YOU!
Buda United Methodist Church (www.budaumc.org)

You are invited to join us for worship anytime. Our mission is to empower people with the love of God and make disciples for Jesus Christ.

Life Is Beautiful

All around me the birds were singing, the trees were dancing, people were having fun and worshipping; but me, I was feeling low for some reason.

I’m not sure why I felt like I was in a funk for almost 24 hours, but I was. We all have felt like nothing around us is good or we can’t really see the beauty around us. Now, if we stay in this state for a long period of time (ie weeks), then something may be unbalanced.

I began noticing that I couldn’t see the beauty and joy around me, so I called out to God. No answer. Even in worship, I did not feel like
worshipping. But I kept praying.

The Apostle Paul said to “pray always,” and not to worry or be anxious about anything. Jesus even taught about not worrying and relying on God.

Something happened later in the day. When I look back on it now, I can see that God placed the right people in my path and I in theirs. The gray on the world faded and colors appeared. Laughter and smiles were noticed and joy came back in my heart.

I have seen God continually show up and remind He is always here. If we’re not careful, we’ll miss Him in the people and nature around us. He loves it when His children pray and talk with Him and will surprise us in the way prayers are answered.

Now, the trees dancing bring a smile to my face again, listening to people is more heartfelt, and the joy of life is incredible. Praise be to God!

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