Tag: drew steadman

Find Your Place

Have you ever renovated a house? Five years ago, my family bought a house that had been sitting vacant for 11 years. The first day we started clearing things out I distinctly remember thinking we had gotten more than we bargained for. There was still food in the fridge, dirty rags in the cabinets, multiple layers of wallpaper on the ceilings and a bomb shelter with rotted sheet rock and six inches of slimy stagnant water. It was one of the grossest days of my life.

Even though we had our work cut out for us, I’m an optimist and started the project convinced we’d be finished in six to eight weeks. Four months later the house was just a shell, far from being done, and to make matters worse, I didn’t know how to put it all back together again. It felt completely hopeless and I felt completely helpless. This was not the only time I’ve had this feeling – in fact, any time I’ve ever been a part of building anything, I’ve experienced this.

I believe one of the greatest tactics of the enemy, especially in this hour, is to make us feel hopeless and helpless. This powerful lie holds the Church back from who God intends us to be. It’s easy to feel hopeless about the world around us and helpless by our own limitations. I can barely take care of my kids and survive my job, what can I do about systemic poverty and religious persecution? If we aren’t careful, these feelings lead us to paralysis.

1 Peter 4:4-12 tells us we all have a part to play.

Peter calls us stones, which on its own seems insignificant, but when joined together with other stones by the hand of a Craftsman, can become almost anything. We are called to be Christ’s Church, His spiritual house, hosting the presence of God. Don’t choose to be isolated by fear and helplessness, instead, take your place on the wall.

When people come together and each one does his or her part as a living stone, something incredible happens.

We become a beacon of hope; we stand out in the midst of hopelessness. And our city cannot help but pay attention.

IN RESPONSE

Resolve to live as a light in our city wherever you are. No matter where you live or work, you can have an impact on those around you!

Next, find a place to serve. There are many places to serve here at our church and we’d love for you to be a part. Check out our volunteer page to view these opportunities and apply! We would also like to invite you to pray about making a commitment this fall to attend either the 8:30 a.m. or the new 5 p.m. service to make space for someone new. Last year around this time we had a major influx of guests – new families, young adults and especially college students. Our hope is to be able to provide a seat for everyone.

Imagine if all of us did our part. Imagine the impact on kid’s lives, on our first time guests, the families that receive discipleship and our city. Take your place on the wall and let’s see the world around us transformed! Sign up today!

By Drew Steadman, Director of Ministries and U.S. Church Planting

Failure to Fix Ourselves

It’s almost the new year which means it’s to review my resolutions from last year. The fact that I have to review them is probably the first indicator that things didn’t exactly work out. Fortunately, I’m not alone.  According to the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people actually achieve their resolution.

Resolutions represent what matters most – family, faith, health – yet we are terrible about making progress. For me, this time of year brings up the uncomfortable reality that I don’t do the things I want to do, nor am I the person I want to be.

Romans 7:19-25 illustrates this struggle:

 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

We want to honor God, we want to walk free from sin and we want to serve others, but often we do the exact opposite.

This feels depressing, but this is the Gospel.  We cannot fix ourselves; that is the whole point. Jesus rescued us from our sin through salvation; that is the beginning. But His work didn’t stop there

Too often, we receive salvation as a free gift, but then go right back to trying to fix ourselves and live righteously.

And inevitably we fail because we still cannot fix ourselves.

What is the solution?

  • Confess your need. Romans 7:18 is a cry for help.  Confessing our need to God and to others is often the first step to breakthrough.  Why?  Because God moves in the humble, those who recognize they cannot fix themselves.
  • Seek Jesus. Romans 8:5-6 describes the power of living by the Spirit.  This comes from a lifestyle of seeking God.  Spend time with God in the morning, set aside time to pray throughout the day and make worship a lifestyle. Rather than condemning yourself over your sin, pray for help! The more you are full of Jesus the more you will look like Him.
  • Stand on your identity. Romans 8 is a powerful portrait of our identity in Christ.  When we fail, we easily believe the lie that we are a failure.  The longer we fail, the more entrenched the lie becomes.  Eventually you will live out who you think you are.  Start walking in freedom by declaring the promises in this chapter, even if you don’t feel it.  To become who you want to be you have to know who you already are.

In Response

By all means, have resolutions this year.  But resolve first and foremost to radically seek Jesus and you will soon find that there is power for everything else.

By Drew Steadman, Director of Ministries and U.S. Church Planting

Lifegroup Changed My Life: An Invitation to Connect

Lifegroup changed my life.  It was never one specific meeting – in fact, I’ve long since forgotten most –but somewhere along the way I woke up and realized my life has been forever changed through 13 years of intentional community.

I’ve found it’s the simple things that change the world; it’s the power of the mundane.

The simplicity of accountability, encouragement and Godly friendship is what empowers us to grow in Christ and live out our calling. This is why Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Choosing to meet together consistently isn’t always flashy.  At times, my Lifegroup feels like crowd control with 15 young kids, and honestly, sometimes I’d rather just get some rest.  I’ve experienced disappointment as past groups fell apart, close friends moved away and as I’ve seen friends walk away from the Lord.  But still, when I reflect on my life, it’s been the consistency of “meeting together” that’s transformed me.  I would not be the man I am today without it.  God designed us for relationships and we’ll never reach our fullness in Him without it.

Life is busy.  Relationships are hard.  Nevertheless, you need community if you want to grow deeper in God. I pray you can experience this so  you too can look back and say, “Lifegroup changed my life.” But getting there requires a choice to prioritize meeting together, even in the midst of busy lives.

On October 2nd, we are hosting Connect.  It’s an opportunity to interact with multiple Lifegroups representing different personalities, seasons of life and geographic areas so you can find your right fit. The event includes a free meal and childcare.  If you are not currently in a group, please pray about attending and taking this initial step towards getting connected.

And if you are in a Lifegroup, pray about inviting someone to Connect whose life could be changed by Lifegroup. We’ll see you there!

Register for Connect.

By Drew Steadman, Director of Ministries and U.S. Church Planting

Psalm 23: A Second Look

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 (NASB)

Psalm 23 is one of the most popular passages in all of Scripture.  We love the imagery of God leading us to quiet places and refreshing us.  We memorize it, put it on greeting cards and posters; all because we love its reassuring tone.

Yet too often we miss its core message. There is an abrupt transition in verse four that takes us from a nice Hallmark field to the valley of the shadow of death. It’s easy to skip this part as gloom and despair don’t necessarily fit alongside a beautiful green meadow.  But it’s this valley that provides the key message of Psalm 23.

God does lead us to good places, but the road often winds through dark valleys. Pain and hardship are a part of life and it is in these moments when God reveals Himself most powerfully.  Notice what else changes in verse four.  For the first part of the Psalm David speaks of God only in the third person; “He leads me.”  But after the valley there is a powerful change.  The psalmist no longer speaks about God; now He directly speaks to Him, saying, “You are with me.” Pain is difficult, yet it is often the trigger that leads us to spiritual intimacy.

It’s in the dark places we learn of God’s nearness.
It’s in the valley we build relationship with Him.

In these moments, we truly begin to understand, “You are with me.” We may be surrounded by enemies, but in the midst of it God is preparing a rich table before us (v 5). There will be challenges in life, yet God’s desire is to turn your fears into a feast. God hijacks suffering and turns it into a vehicle of grace, and it all starts with knowing, “You are with me.” Read the psalm again and take some time to answer the following questions.

In Response

  • When have you experienced God’s nearness in the midst of darkness?
  • How did God reveal He was with you?

By Drew Steadman, Director of Strategy Development/Director of US Church-Planting

Find it, Keep it

I grew up in a Godly home. When I was a kid, my parents had pretty strict media standards for our family. I’m grateful now, but that means while you were watching Saturday cartoons on network television, I was watching Bible cartoons on the Christian channel. You had Transformers, I had Superbook.

The one story I never understood was the parable in Matthew 13:45-46 about a merchant who sold everything to get a pearl.  I still remember watching this cartoon of a wealthy man who had it all.  He a nice robe, really fancy turban and a beautiful home filled with nice furniture.  One day he went out and found a man selling a pearl, which to me just looked like a small, shiny rock.

But the man’s eyes lit up when he saw the pearl, and he went and sold everything – I mean everything.  The cartoon showed the man’s possessions being sold off in detail until all he had left were some cheap old clothes.  The man grabbed the money and exchanged it for this little rock.  And then the story was over.

This story just did not make sense to my five year old mind.  Why would someone give up all of that just to get a dumb rock?  Aren’t the clothes, the furniture, the home and everything else better?  It felt like a story of a poor man getting scammed, not something to celebrate.

The problem was my perspective.  I did not understand the value of the pearl so I did not understand the purpose of the sacrifice.

Pearls in the first century were the most valuable jewels in the world.  There are historic accounts of Roman emperors spending the equivalent of over ten million dollars on just one pearl.  One general financed an entire war by selling just one of his mother’s pearl earrings.  To understand the sacrifice in this parable you must first understand the value of the pearl.  I’ve found the same is true for our relationship with God.

Following God is costly, but the treasure gained is far greater than any price we will ever pay.  When we see what He is worth, the cost starts to seem insignificant, and like the merchant, we will gladly pay whatever it takes.

If you want to live wholeheartedly for Jesus it will be costly, but if you keep your eyes on the treasure, I believe the cost will start to seem rather small compared to what is gained.  Do whatever it takes today to find the Treasure, and when you find it, do whatever it takes to keep It.

By Drew Steadman

Director of Strategic Development

Did you miss this sermon? You can watch it here!