Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jesus, Friend of Sinners ~ lessons from a song

by contributing writer Kristen Webb 

jesus, friend of singer - lessons from a song
On New Years Eve my family went to the church skate at the coliseum. I was enjoying skating, not really thinking about anything in particular and then I noticed the song that was playing. I recognized it as "Jesus, Friend of Sinner's" by Casting Crowns. I have heard it lots of times and have always liked it. I enjoy how the song talks about not judging people, but loving them instead. This is a value I have been passionate about since I was young; but on New Years Eve, the song hit me in a completely different way.

It overwhelmed me and healed me as I was gliding along among all those people.

I have struggled since I was a teenager with feeling like I am a failure, especially when it comes to my Christian walk. I think this stemmed from being a perfectionist and feeling I had to be perfect for God to be pleased with me. I felt like He was angry every time I made a mistake! This tainted my life and made everything a struggle. I thought life was just hard and that was the way it had to be. God said we would have trials and I thought the fear and sense of failure I was experiencing were the trails God was talking about. I just figured I needed to try harder to be perfect and endure all the emotional stress failing brought me.

But now I see that I needlessly endured the very things Jesus died to free me of.

What sort of things were affected by my perfectionism? Everything I did was affected!

Once, when I was helping out with our youth group, I created a permission slip for Snow Camp but forgot to change the date from the year before. Handing out a permission slip with the wrong date ruined my entire day.

Looking back I can see how silly this was because in the grand scheme of things it really did not matter to anyone else that the date was wrong. The youth knew that the permission form was obviously for this year not last year.

My whole day was made up of numerous events like the permission slip—of me judging myself and finding myself lacking. It was like I was continually playing this game to trying to be perfect and keeping score in my head. If I lost any points during the day I would feel like a failure, which led to depression and thinking I did not deserve anything good.

Looking back, I wonder if I was trying to fix the hole in my soul by being perfect.

I was sexually abused as a kid and it really messed me up inside. I did not deal with what happened or go to God to heal me, I just buried it all and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. I think I was trying to fix my broken heart by being perfect and I felt that if I could just not make any mistakes the deep hurt in me would go away.

The devil had me right where he wanted me.

This solo attempt to fix the problem added a huge amount of pain and stress to my life. There was no way I could be perfect so this just made my failures more painful, and spiraled me further into hopelessness. I was haunted by condemnation and felt unworthy and insecure.

But all the while, I was careful to not let others see my weakness. I taught others about forgiveness and grace but felt it did not apply to me.

So when I was gliding along and I heard the song about Jesus being a friend of sinners I had an epiphany: I realized all the things I felt God was mad at me for were sins! That made me a sinner and the song said that Jesus was a friend to sinners!

This song about God's grace did not just apply to others but to ME.

God was not mad at me or even expecting me to be perfect—He was wanting me to grasp His forgiveness and fully embrace His love for me. He died to free me from sin, and did not expect me to try harder but to trust Him. I couldn't do this on my own and I was not meant to even try...which is why my life was such an endless, epic fail.

I was hoping that being good would impress God and somehow fix my broken soul. 

But trying to be good without God actually fueled pride and separated me from God. God is not impressed when we try to be good on our own. The fact that I failed so often in my own strength was no surprise to God.

God was so aware of our weaknesses that He sent Jesus to die on the Cross to be our SAVIOR. I totally missed the crux of Christianity: the fact that I needed a Savior to save me from my sin—not just to forgive my sins so I could have a relationship with God and get into heaven but to free me from the power of sin in my everyday life.

All that pressure I had been putting on myself slipped away as I grasped that God's grace and mercy applied to me too.

I did not have to be perfect to please God, and my righteousness came from Jesus.

Relief overwhelmed me as I realized God loved me just as I was—a sinner—someone who makes a lot of mistakes. I don't need to marinate in condemnation when I blow it. I need to accept God's forgiveness, rejoice, and move on. All the shame I had been holding for years washed away. I could finally admit that I was not strong, that I had huge issues and that I was not the wonderful Christian I was trying so hard to be.

By believing all of Satan's lies I had tortured myself for years. But the the comfort that was flowing into my life as I skated around was so freeing.  Being free from pride and shame felt amazing. I had been trying so hard to have it all together and it felt great to have permission to be a mess.

It was going to be okay because my success did not rest in me but on God.   

I don't need to try to be good on my own strength. That is not my job! I can trust God to transform me and, if I stay close and listen and obey, He will lead me and change me.

While I was writing this blog another Casting Crowns song came on that describes how I don't have to figure it all out by myself. It is called, "Just be Held."


It is not by trying harder that I become someone God is pleased with, but by trusting more completely and surrendering all to Him. 

Kristen Webb boards horses in the country with her husband and three daughters - one of whom has special needs. She has been part of the HMC congregation for almost eighteen years.   You can find her over at her own blog, My Wild Ride Through The Door Of Faith

Friday, January 8, 2016

G2G Winter Studies 2016

Sunday Morning 10:30 am
Hanover Missionary Church - Upper Room
Sacred Gifts & Holy Gatherings by David C. Cook

Led by Carolyn Austin

Studies in the Old & New Testaments

Mondays 7:00 pm connecting time. 7:30 pm study begins
Hanover Missionary Church Portable
Fathered by God by John Eldredge

Led by Tor Hallberg

There is a path leading to authentic manhood, cut by men who have gone before us, sons following in the footsteps of their fathers, generation after generation. There are perils along the trail, even disasters — all the more reason to rely on the guidance of a Father who has gone before.

But in an age when true fathers are in short supply, how do you find the path to manhood? How do you steer clear of the dangers?

John Eldredge calls men back to a simple and reassuring truth: God is our Father. In life's trials and triumphs, God is initiating boys and men through the stages of manhood from Beloved Son to Cowboy to Warrior to Lover to King to Sage.
Fathered by God maps out the path of manhood? not more rules, not another list of principles, not formulas, but a sure path men have followed for centuries before us.

Find that path and become the man God sees in you.

Tuesday Morning 9:30 am
Hanover Missionary Church - Overflow
Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George

Led by Joan McCutchon

Guiding women through Proverbs 31, beloved Bible teacher Elizabeth George shows how God defines beauty and reveals how His "plan for success" is totally achievable.

Insightful and practical, this book reveals how women can make each day meaningful and delight in what God accomplishes through them. Readers will discover how to...experience progress toward goals, manage daily life more effectively, tap into unlimited energy & apply God's principles to relationships

Women will feel greater confidence and enjoy rich daily rewards as they realize who they are in Christ and what they can do when they follow His formula for true beauty.

Wednesday Morning 10:00 - noon
263 12th Ave Hanover
Signs of Life by Dr. David Jeremiah

Led by Rick & Joan McCutchon

With our society’s sometimes unfavourable view of Christians, it is all the more important that believers display what Dr. David Jeremiah calls signs of life — signs that Jesus has transformed us and that we are committed to Him and His kingdom. They are signs that ought to be detected from across the street, over the fence, down the hall, throughout the office, or in the pews, for it’s not enough to just talk about  Jesus. It’s also not enough to serve Him in secret with our acts of private devotion. We have to display the lifestyle of the Nazarene in the midst of a corrupt and darkened culture.

Signs of Life will lead you on a journey to a fuller understanding of the marks that identify you as a Christian. Signs that will advertise your faith. Personal imprints that can impact souls for eternity and help you become a person of influence who radiates relevancy, authenticity, generosity, and compassion every day — just like Jesus did.

Wednesday Afternoon 1:00-3:00
Hanover Missionary Church - Upper Room
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Led by Karen Schmalz

Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. How, Ann wondered, do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long and sometimes even dark? How is God even here? In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved by God. Let Ann's beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!

Wednesday Evening 6:30 pm
Hanover Missionary Church - Overflow
Corporate Prayer

Led by Caleb Dyck and Jason Bechtel

Eight weeks of gathering to pray together. Beginners welcome!

Thursday Morning 9:30 am
Hanover Missionary Church - Upper Room
Sacred Rhythms (6 week study) by Ruth Haley Barton

Led by Pastor Lyndsay

Do you long for a deep, fundamental change in your life with God? Do you desire a greater intimacy with God? Do you wonder how you might truly live your life as God created you to live it?

Spiritual disciplines are activities that open us to God's transforming love and the changes that only God can bring about in our lives.The disciplines of the spiritual life are the basic components of the rhythm of intimacy that feeds the soul, keeping Christians open and available to God. Each session offers specific practices that allow you to experience each discipline and incorporate it into your life.

Thursday Evening 7:00 pm
Hanover Missionary Church - Overflow
Sensible Shoes by Sharon Garlough Brown

Led by Pastor Lyndsay

A 2013 Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention Sharon Garlough Brown tells the moving story of four strangers as they embark together on a journey of spiritual formation: Hannah, a pastor who doesn't realize how exhausted she is. Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past. Mara, a woman who has experienced a lifetime of rejection and is now trying to navigate a difficult marriage. Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right. You’re invited to join these four women as they reluctantly arrive at a retreat center and find themselves drawn out of their separate stories of isolation and struggle and into a collective journey of spiritual practice, mutual support and personal revelation. Along the way, readers will be taken into a new understanding of key spiritual practices and find tangible support for the deeper life with God.