February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Our desire is that people enjoy healthy relationships, which are full of honor, safety, understanding, and respect, and we believe that this is what Jesus desires for us as well. Following His teachings about love and how to treat others is foundational to healthy relationships.
Unfortunately though, many of us know people who are struggling in unhealthy and sometimes dangerous relationships. And so, we’ve brought in Laura S. Williams, a survivor of domestic violence and our resident expert, to share with us how to help in dangerous situations. She has graciously provided us with the resource link below. It’s a PDF packet with important information about the warning signs of domestic violence. Click the link to learn more.
Do you need help?
If you need help getting relief from a dangerous relationship, there are organizations that can help. Below we’ve linked to two local safe houses. When you’re able to safely visit their websites, feel free to do so.
SafeHouse of Seminole County: http://safehouseofseminole.org
24 Hour Crisis Hotline: 407-330-3933
Harbor House of Orange County: http://www.harborhousefl.com
24 Hour Crisis Hotline: (407) 886-2856 or (800) 500-1119
Though not specifically related to dating or domestic violence, here is a supplemental resource related to teen texting. Give it a look when you have a chance.
Has the question: “What is my purpose in life?” ever crossed your mind? Have you ever thought about the future with fear,as you see all the different trials that are to come?
Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
This is a promise from God to watch over our lives if we are to only trust that he will. As you go about your week, remember God is in control. You don’t have to worry, just trust in Him and He will provide.
(This devotional was written by Josh Auli, our summer ministry intern)
Many of us this last Sunday watched the History Channel’s version of The Bible. I must admit that my family DVR’d it and watched the whole thing in entirety! It was very entertaining and the special affects were magnificent.
However, we did find ourselves saying one line repeatedly, “They should’ve stuck to the script!” I don’t want to ruin the story if you’ve never read it, but I want to throw the challenge out there right now to read the REAL story! I am surprised at how accurate the History Channel’s portrayal has been, but there are certain parts that the real Bible just portrays better you see. A few questions some of you may still be wondering – “How did the people eat wandering in the wilderness for 40 years? I thought Moses left Egypt the first time under slightly different circumstances? What’s the full story w/ Abraham’s son, grandson, and great grandson? Didn’t Joshua cross a river?” And this just is a few things! There’s a whole lot more that the Bible goes in depth with and gives you as Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”
I want to challenge you also to NOT DEVIATE FROM THE SCRIPT! God has a plan for you. Jeremiah in the book named after him tells us, that God knows us and has a plan for us! Here, in your city of Sanford, Lake Mary, Longwood, Debary, Deltona, and the rest of the great Orlando area and i4 corridor, God knows you, and has a plan for you. Stick to the script God has planned for you.
If you have any questions about the Bible please feel to contact us at our church’s website www.churchatthegym.org
Read: Romans 6:11-14
Part of the effect of today’s humanistic mindset is that we evaluate ourselves too highly. We compare ourselves to the world around us, and seem to be so far ahead of the rest of creation. Part of our pride likely lies in our perceived free will – it seems to be what distinguishes us from the animal world.
But what do we see here? In this passage, Paul says that we are either instruments (or tools) for sin or for God. This dichotomous thinking isn’t just found here. Other passages talk about only having one master, and of being either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. But Paul ups the ante here. He argues that we’re not just servants who pick a master, or slaves who are controlled by an owner. Rather, we are akin to mindless tools!
To be sure, the onus is on us in terms of which hands we will place ourselves in. But once we place ourselves in those hands, we tend to be freely wielded (by either sin or God). Don’t feel like digging in the garbage? Too bad – the tool-user says it’s time to dig in the garbage. Don’t think you know how to fix the leaky faucet? Well, the tool-user is going to use you anyway.
In the positive, this is exciting – if we allow God to pick us up and use us, there’s no telling what God may end up doing with us – we just know it’s going to be good, exciting, and for His glory. In the negative, this is frightening. As simple tools, if we allow ourselves to be picked up by sin, we’re going to be used by sin, whether we like it or not. And it’s shockingly hard to get out of sin’s grip.
We (I) need to come off of this humanistic high that says I’m a completely free agent in this universe. No, there are forces much stronger than me out there. I was made to be a tool for God and God alone. Unfortunately, my “tool nature” makes me susceptible to frequent use by sin. It’s only when I consistently get into the hands of God that I will consistently achieve my purpose, as a tool of God.
(This article was written by Chris Coultas, Worship Leader of the 10:0am Service)
Reading of Psalm 42:7
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
Reflection on Psalm 42:7
This is a stretch to be sure, but this could also be taken to refer to a church service or body of believers. “Deep calls to deep” …in other words, in a river, “depths” of many rivers converge into one, until they all fall together off the edge of a cliff, making the resonant chorus that is a waterfall. The many rivers must all converge and go in the same direction, they must all take the plunge together as well. Then at the base of the waterfall, they achieve their greatest power and beauty, as “deep calls to deep.” God’s presence and power will be strikingly absent unless our churches accomplish three things. One, our rivers must converge. We have to have the same mission and be going the same direction. Two, “deep” must call to “deep.” God didn’t say “shallow calls to shallow.” We have to get in on each others lives, on the depths, really understanding who we are, connecting with, and praying for one another. Finally, we must all take the plunge together. All the rivers of the waterfall have to dive together, take the leap of faith together, in order for the waterfall to achieve maximum force. If a river cuts out early, it’s taking some force with it (not to mention other rivers). Our churches must be defined by missional agreement, true love, and risk taking faith. Only then will we begin to hear the depth of God himself in our choruses.
(This reflection was written by Chris Coultas, Worship Leader of the 10:0am Service)
On April 20 & 21, 2012, a group of men from our church attended the 2012 Man Up Men’s Conference here in Orlando, FL. The conference featured powerful and insightful messages from Jerry Thorpe & Jim Groves.
Our guys had a great time getting to know each other better and learning more about how to be the men that God has called them to be.
If you would like to review the notes from the conference, please click the links below. These notes were compiled by one of our pastors. They may be hard to follow, but feel free to browse them for insights. Especially, check out the “Notes & Quotes” section at the bottom of each entry.
PS: Thanks to everyone who prayed for our safety and our growth while we were away!
It’s football season, so I think it’s very appropriate to talk about passion and excitement. Real fans wildly cheer their team’s victories, and occasionally, deeply mourn their losses. Do you identify with that, or are their other things that light you up? What do you get really fired up over, what excites you, what causes emotion to burn deep into your being?
Now another question, what are your most intense emotions. Really think about it – when you have an intense emotional reaction to something, what are you typically feeling. Chances are, the most common and intense emotions we experience are sadness, anger, or joy.
What about regret and remorse? More than likely, it’s been a while since you’ve truly allowed yourself to experience these emotions. Our culture idolizes personal happiness, glorifies anger and rage, and romanticizes sadness, so it’s “acceptable” to experience these emotions. Shame, guilt, regret, and remorse are the red-headed stepchildren in our culture’s collective bank of emotions. We live in a society of “no regrets.” We say it is meaningless to live in the past, and “What’s done is done.”
Yet when we embrace this mindset, we abandon the gravity of sin and forget the holiness of God. Furthermore, this nullifies the grace of God and downplays the sacrifice of Christ. When we reject remorse, we silence our consciences and the Holy Spirit within us.
When was the last time you wept over your brokenness? When was the last time you looked back on your day and realized you had abandoned God, that you had ignored His calling and thumbed your nose at His command? When was the last time you felt sadness wash over you because you disappointed God? The Bible records one particularly poignant story of two men who blatantly abandonded, betrayed, and rejected God. Their response was not to “forgive themselves” and move on immediately. Both men had intensely sorrowful reactions when they realized what they had done. Why do we not call all of our sins “betraying God’s grace?” Was it not our sins that put Christ on the cross?
Some may say this is a negative view of God – that He is full of love, grace, and is “the God of second chances.” These would say that we need to bask in the grace of God and freely accept it. Those statements are true – God is like that. Yet sin is sin, and after all He has done for us, is it not the height of arrogance to vaccilate freely between accepting the love of God while ignoring the will of God?
Some may say this is a dangerous approach to considering sin – that we as a society are prone to depression, and overemphasizing our faults and flaws would be extremely detrimental. This is also true. Yet God has left us with an appropriate way to deal with our own sin. Returning to the story I referenced earlier, who were these two men who abandoned God? Judas and Peter. Both men realized they had betrayed Jesus in their own ways. Judas felt sorrow and disgust at himself, and tried to erase his actions and distance himself from them – eventually his sorrow led him to commit suicide. Peter also betrayed Christ, and “wept bitterly” when he realized what he had done. Yet he stuck around long enough to run back to Christ with passion and humility when given the opportunity.
2 Corinthians 7:8-13 talks about a “godly sorrow” that yields repentance. God is not in the business of inducing depression. Longstanding shame and guilt only neutralizes us and makes us impotent for the Kingdom of God. Rather, God sends the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, to induce remorse, so that we would acknowledge our wickedness (incidentally, calling all our wrongdoing “wickedness” greatly increases its perceived severity) and turn from our ways (i.e., “repent”) towards a closer relationship with God.
David asked God to create a “new heart” in him after he abandoned the ways of God in favor of murder, sexual immorality, and passion (Psalm 51). In fact, the psalms are filled with the remorse of a man who would turn to God and run away from Him. Would that God would soften our hearts again, and give us a sensitivity towards our own sin, and passion for personal holiness.
(This essay was written by Chris Coultas, lead singer of the Church At The GYM Band)
It’s true. You are a masterpiece.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
God made us. Think about that for a second; God made you! He made you to do something great. This week as you go out and live in your community of Sanford, Lake Mary, Deltona, Deland, Debary, Longwood, or anywhere here in the Central Florida area; know that God made you a masterpiece.
(Contributed by Jason Williams)
Life is too short… to work at a job you hate, to do work that doesn’t matter, to do things that are not fulfilling, and to miss out on doing something big for God!
James 4:14 teaches us that “life is a vapor;” it appears for a little while and then vanishes away. We need to take advantage of the time that God has given us.
We need to be doing things that excite us and challenge us. When someone asks us, “What are you involved in?” Our excitement about our pursuits and passions should just flow from within us.
This week, Seth Godin share a few thoughts about being asked the question…
What are you working on?
If someone asks you that, are you excited to tell them the answer?
I hope so. If not, you’re wasting away.
No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there’s a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.
Hurry, go do that.
The point is, life is just too short not to do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling. Maybe it’s time to make some changes. The new year is coming…it’s a perfect opportunity to change things up and do something important.
(Contributed by Jonathan Williams. This post first appeared on Jonathan’s blog in December 2010)
Imagine yourself all alone in a new city. New faces all around. And, you don’t have any friends in town…at least not yet. Plus, you’ve got a new four year challenge ahead of you.
You’re a college student. You’re living in a dorm with people you don’t really know. You’re going to class, and it seems quite a bit harder than high school. And, home is a long way away.
You need some help. Some encouragement to help you along. Because the truth is…
It’s easier when you’ve got support.
Well church, that’s where Chris Gardner is. We just sent him off to college for the first time, and he needs to know that he has your support. There will be challenging days ahead, and you have the opportunity to encourage him along.
You can send him letters, cards, and packages. You can be a blessing! Here’s Chris’ mailing address:
800-200 Hammond Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32221