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Guidance: He Shows Us Our Steps

Photo by Bartosz Gorlewicz.

Photo by Bartosz Gorlewicz.

Working through a series called, "The Disciplined Christian Life," we've been looking at a variety of spiritual disciplines.  These disciplines, or practices, are tools that help us draw closer to God.   First we looked at the importance of fellowship with Christ and his people.  Then we started driving into a ways to communicate with God, hearing from him.  Study creates a longing for God, realizing that without God, we die.  Then we pray, because prayer changes us and prepares us to submit to God.  His ways are higher than our ways and when we submit to his ways, he starts giving us direction for our lives.  This direction, and more significantly, understanding this direction, is a spiritual discipline called guidance. 

Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way."  

Notice some things.  First, this verse is a conditional statement.  God will give direction when we delight in God's way.  Second, the direction is set by God, not us.  We don't say, "I want to go this way, is that cool with you God?" And third, notice that God establishes steps. The verse does not say God gives an entire road map for those who delight in his way.  It's rare that God says "Go to Nineveh."  Is common that he says, "Go," and then only provides the next step and the provision for a short walk.  We want to know the final destination, but he only gives us just enough. Sometimes it's only a single step.  

This Sunday, we'll be looking at this verse, closely.  How do we know God's direction?  Are there things we can do to hear a little more clearly?  Are there things we can do to know God's guidance better?  The answer is yes.  

You don't have to feel lost as you seek to know God's will.  Come worship with us this Sunday as we explore what it means to let God order our steps.  We meet for prayer at 10am and the worship service starts at 11.  See you Sunday! 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman

Submission is Freedom

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Submission is a spiritual discipline.  It's probably one that's not practiced well.  I realize the idea of submission freaks people out. We are often afraid to submit to anyone, including God.  Maybe because religion often distorts what it means to live and practice a life of submission and that, likely, fuels fear in those abused by religion.  But a biblical practice of submission leads us to the One who gives us freedom.   It seems like a paradox, but entering biblical submission frees us from bondage. 

We have a problem.  We struggle to live in biblical submission.  I think we can easily see how this plays out in social media. 

Before we go there, let's start with God's Word.  This Sunday, we'll look at 1 Peter 2:16. It reads, "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."  Now let's think about how people use perceived 'freedom' on social media. 

First, many people believe they are free to say anything they want on social media. Second, people believe that their public statements, no matter how vile or evil, are free from anyone's replies in which they disagree.  And third, our engagement on social media is usually either about freely forcing others to conform to the ideas we think are important (likely, the false gods of this world), or to show our friends how much better we are then them when it comes to freely conforming to the social pressures of this world.  

Why do even those who claim freedom in Christ act this way on social media? Because we wrongly believe that we are far more important and superior than everybody else. We think and act like our comments are more important than the millions of other people who think the exact same way.  In truth, we are in bondage to our own desires to be right, to be important, and to be seen by others as we desire to be seen.  We have a submission problem.  We don't want to submit to anything or anyone.  Even worse, we demand that others submit to us.  This problem keeps us locked in the sick bondage of our own creation.  

1 Peter 2:16 shows us a better way.  

"Live as people who are free," 1 Peter 2:16 says, "not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God." 

Did you know that Jesus never said anything of his own opinion or desires?  Every word he ever spoke was a word spoken in submission to the Father.  (See John 5:19, John 6:38, John 5:30, and John 8:28.)  In his freedom, he lived in submission.  

Did you know that the Bible speaks about how we are to rebuke our bothers and sisters who are in sin (not simply in opposition to our opinions or preferences) so that they might come back into God's will and freedom? (Matthew 18:15-35 shows us the way.)  Have you noticed how much discourse Jesus gets into where ideas are being brought into God's Truth?  These happen many times with the Pharisees, but they are far more significant when Jesus corrects his disciples and his disciples return to a life in submission to the will of God. 

And I'm sure you've read that we are not be conformed to the ways and thinking of this world, but to God and his ways.  In fact, Jesus died on a cross and defeated death so that you can be transformed into the freedom that only Christ can offer.  Jesus frees us from the bondage of living submitted to the wrong things, ideas, and people.  

Without Jesus, we are submitted to the gods of this world.  In Christ, we are free.  And in no way are we to use that freedom as a cover-up for the reality that we still worship the people, ideas, and social norms of this fallen world despite all Jesus has done and is doing to set us free.  We see it well in our social media behavior.  

However, as servants of God, we become submitted the very source of life.  We find freedom in submission.  When we no longer serve and worship ourselves and our desires; we are free to serve and worship God and live within his desires.  And he desires that we live free of the bondage of our sin.  

Submission is freedom from bondage, as paradoxical as that may seem.  But it's true.  The spiritual discipline of submission leads us closers to Christ, and in Christ, we can be free.  We'll be discussing this more on Sunday as we look at 1 Peter 2:16.  

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan 

Stay Connected with Our Faith Family

Church,

We use The City as our official on-line communication tool.  We share all that's going on on The City.  We also share information for Fellowship Groups, additional info on the week's sermon, prayer requests, way's to get connected, and so much more.  

There are things here that won’t be announced on Sunday morning or appear in the bulletin.  We don’t put all our announcements on Facebook and don’t plan to. We don't even put it all here.  And nobody has the time to text, email, and call everybody based on personal preferences.  So The City is the single best place for our church to share information.  

Are you on The City?  You can join here

The City can send you an email when new stuff is posted in each of your groups.  It can even send you an email when people comment on the posts and prayer requests.  That being said, it can be annoying when messages from The City bombard your email box.  At the same time, you want to keep up with what’s going on.  

The Daily Digest might be your solution! 

I use the daily digest for most groups in The City.  I get a single email with all the updates for that day.  I can skim over the various activity and click on anything I want to read in more detail.  Some groups, however, have timely posts and prayer requests so I’ve set those groups to email me immediately.  You can find information about how to set up your notifications for a daily digest on The City.  

Please, get on The City if you're not already set up and then set your email notifications in such a way that you can stay informed and stay connected with our Redeeming Life faith family.  Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need help getting set up on The City.  

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan 

Waiting for Jesus and Growing the Kingdom

Are we drifting through the Christian life?  Probably.  But this is not what Jesus called us to do.  Jesus told his disciples to “Stay dressed for action” in Luke 12:35.  And after the cross and resurrection, he commands that we “go” and advance the Kingdom.  This charge is for the God’s Kingdom within us as well as the coming Kingdom around us.  

This week Pastor Derek preached from Luke 12:35-48 on expecting Jesus and advancing the Kingdom.  It’s highly worth the time if you missed worshiping us.  You can listen to it here.  This text, within it’s context is a charge to live for the Kingdom of God now, not drifting, not floundering.  God is asking us to join him in his mission, and it’s good for us to be with Jesus in this way.  Really good!

The Great Commission is the charge to expand the Kingdom all over the globe, but that charge starts with us.  We too must continue to learn and grow in our relationship with God.  One way is to know God better and love him more.  The spiritual disciplines drive us to know God better.  They move us closer to God.  

James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”  The spiritual disciplines are practices to help you draw near to God and grow God’s Kingdom within your soul.  This Sunday, we are starting a Summer series called, “The Disciplined Christian Life.” It’s intended to help you draw near to God and allow his Kingdom to take more ground in your soul.  I hope you’ll join us and see great growth in your spiritual journey this summer. 

For the Kingdom!  
Pastor Bryan Catherman 

Make Disciples: Be Fruitful and Multiply

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In Genesis 1:28, God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply.  After the great flood, God told Noah to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1 and Genesis 9:7).  God tells Jacob to be fruitful and multiply because many nations and kings will come from Jacob's line (Genesis 35:11).  Many years later, God told the people of Israel (through Jeremiah) that he would bring them back from exile and they should be fruitful and multiply (Jeremiah 23:3).

God wants the earth filled with worshipers, to bring God great glory throughout the heavens and earth.  Psalm 22:27 and Psalm 86:9 are but a very small sample of Scriptures that prove that God wants a holy family populated all over the planet.  

Yet when we look at the state of the Church in America, most people panic and fear that the Church is dying or even already dead.  Millions of words have been written about how people don't like Sunday services anymore.  There is overwhelming worry.  It forces us to question if God really will have people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.  But Revelation 7:9-10 assures us that God will have a great multitude of worshipers from all over the globe. In addition, the Kingdom of God is advancing at a rapid rate all over the world (just not in our nation of apathetic believers).  God's plan will not fail. 

As we reach the New Testament, Jesus gives us the same command.  He tells us to be fruitful and multiply, only he uses different language.  He says, "make disciples."  That's Jesus way of saying he wants the Kingdom populated.  He's asking us to be fruitful and multiply Kingdom citizens.  Through us, God is populating heaven. 

Now, God raised the first human, Adam, up from dirt.  He could have easily raised up many more people from more dirt, and there's plenty of dirt on the earth.  Instead, God asks us to join him to populate the earth.  Physical brith and physical multiplication.  We get to play a part in physically populating the earth.  It's fun, but it's tainted by sin.  God also asks us to join him in populating Heaven.  Spiritual birth.  God could have also simply saved people without us; but instead, we get to be a part of this process too. We get to play a part in populating heaven!  It's called making disciples.  Making disciples is fun, but it too can be tainted by sin.  

Why would God do it this way? 

Just like the growth that comes through raising children, God is asking you to join him in making disciples because it draws you closer to him.  It teaches you many things about yourself, others, and about God.  God is calling you to join him.  Are you willing to come along?  God is asking us to be fruitful and multiply.  He is asking us to make disciples.  Come join him! 

You can listen the sermon on this from last Sunday by following this link.   

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan 

Love One Another (John 15:12-17)

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It's not easy to love people.  Jesus commands us to love people and we still struggle to make loving others a priority in our life.  Loving people is hard because we are so extremely selfish. We love ourselves but struggle to love others.  If given a choice, we wouldn't make any effort to love others; but Jesus didn't give his disciples a choice.     

In John 13:34, Jesus says, "A new command I give you. . ."  He repeats himself in John 15:12, stating, "This is my command..."  And what is this new commandment?  It's that you (Jesus' disciples) love one another.  And how are we to love other people?  Jesus qualifies this love by saying, "as I have loved you, you need to love one another."  

The 11th Commandment is serious business!  

I realize this is difficult.  I believe Jesus knows this is difficult--that's why he offers instructions on the topic.  And more importantly, don't miss that Jesus wants us to love others as Jesus loves us.  Don't miss that.  Jesus loves you!  And because he loves you, you can love others.  

As part of our Final Instructions of Jesus series, I preached a sermon from these verses.  It's called "Love One Another" and you can listen here.  I pray it helps you to love others as Jesus commanded. 

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan 

Abide in Christ / John 15:1-11

This Sunday I'll be preaching on John 15:1-11 and while there are many things that could be said about this chapter, I’d like to encourage you with two parts of Jesus’ command to abide in Him.

There are two parts to abiding in Christ; God’s part and our part.

GOD'S PART
There is much to be said here. God not only has accomplished our salvation, through Christ, but He is also the one that continues to accomplish our sanctification. In John 15:2 we see that God is the vine-dresser (or Gardener) that does the pruning. He doesn’t prune branches that aren’t producing fruit; He only prunes those who are already bearing fruit.

This should bring us great encouragement! God sees the flaws and imperfections in us and by His grace, He takes action and prunes us. While this is a gracious and merciful act, let’s be honest: pruning hurts! No one likes to be pruned but if we truly believe God is for us and pruning us for our own good (Phil. 1:6) then let me ask you two questions:

  • How willing are you to be pruned each day?
  • Do you truly trust God as He prunes you?


OUR PART
This is where we often get things twisted. Some lean way to far on God’s part and think there’s nothing they need to do in the midst of their own sanctification, but we read in 2 Peter 1:3-11 that we definitely have a role to play. Others will lean too heavily on “our part” and fall into a lot of works based thinking, which is also not healthy (Eph. 2:8-10).

So, I believe a healthy balance of both is vital to faithfully abiding in Christ. I would define our part as this: daily and intentionally finding ways to spend time with Jesus. This will can and should look different for everyone as they have their own unique walk with Jesus. At the core, there should be time in God’s Word, time in prayer, time with God’s people (fellowship, worship, celebration). There are many other spiritual disciplines that foster spiritual growth as well (silence, solitude, lament, fasting, etc.) In light of this, let me leave you with two more questions to consider:

  • What daily and intentional rhythms have you put in place in order to consistently cultivate your relationship with Jesus?
  • Look at 2 Peter 3-11 and then assess how well you’re doing in displaying those characteristics. Which one needs the most work? What will you do about it in the coming weeks?

I’m praying for you all and I’m looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday.

- Pastor Brett

Church Like a Teaching Hospital

I'm a veteran and use the local veteran's hospital for my medical care.  I also served as a chaplain resident at the same hospital, because the veteran's hospital in my area is a teaching hospital.  That means I was a resident chaplain working under an actual chaplain assigned to train me and others to be chaplains.  A group of us followed the chaplain on his rounds and observed him.  He asked us questions and assigned us patients.  We worked and learned and trained under his care.  The same is true for the medical students and nurses in training.  

As a patient at the veteran's hospital, I have a choice.  I can be frustrated when I'm served by residents (a.k.a. doctors-in-training) or I can understand that these doctors will be helping people in the future.  Some future doctors will help future veterans.  Am I concerned about the medical care of future veterans?  I should be, because past veterans cared about me when I was a future veteran.  The doctors who help me were once students.  Therefore, my willingness to receive treatment at a teaching hospital today is really an investment in the future.   

Local churches and those who are a part of local churches have the same choices before them.  Do you want the very best pastors and ministers today, for yourself only, or are you willing to be a part of a 'teaching church' that allows 'resident' ministers in training to serve and lead in various areas?  Are we okay if the lead pastor lets pastors-in-training preach, even when he's there?  Can we show kindness to worship leaders in training?  Or do we need to put out a call and have only the best in our churches?  Do we take part in training up future ministers or do we selfishly enjoy the labors of the other 'teaching churches'?    

At Redeeming Life Church, we think like a teaching hospital.  We're always looking for ways to train up and equip the next generation of pastors, church planters, missionaries, and ministers.  Our resources are very limited and it's not as if we're skilled like the arsenal of professors at seminary, but we're doing what we can.  And I believe our efforts for the Kingdom are paying off. 

Brett Ricley came to us as a campus-ministry missionary.   He was exploring a call to larger outreach directed at the entire city.  Not only was Redeeming Life a place for him to explore and grow into this greater calling, he helped build us up and he serves as my right-hand-man at the church.  Now, he's training up many others, including seminary students and other missionaries.  He's also still growing and learning as we launch him into a greater capacity as our Pastor of Mobilization, tasked to find more effective ways to reach our city, train more disciples, and plant more churches.   

Brett is not the only one learning and growing.  Doug Meyers will be leaving us in the coming months to plant a cowboy church in Anderson, California.  Josiah Walker started as an intern in our children's ministry and is coming on as our Minister of Students (which includes nursery through college student ministries).  Derek Earl is now serving as our Minister in Residence, meaning he is learning every aspect to be a pastor or church planter.  He'll be going through the NAMB assessment in August and will begin raising his own support.  We're raising up worship leaders, including one who is going through Worship Catalyst.  Arin Harrison is coming from Georgia to serve as our Women's Ministry Intern for 6 months.  We've had other interns in the past and expect to have many more in the future.  NAMB utilizes Redeeming Life to help develop other church planters, boots-on-the-ground.  We've trained up a couple saints to live on mission and now they're serving the Lord in Japan. Our previous worship leader serves on a bigger team at a larger church.  Our deacons are learning servant leadership while they serve locally with our faith family.  We've seen people get saved, grow, and move elsewhere to serve on mission wherever they go.  Many members are leading Bible studies and one-on-one discipleship.  Others step into the pulpit to develop better preaching skills.  And the list goes on and on.  We take groups to conferences and training opportunities and we host conferences and training at our church building too. 

Numerically, our church plant is small.  But this does not mean we can't make a big impact for God and his Kingdom. 

We care about our community today, but we are also making an investment in the future.  How?  This is largely in part because the amazing Christians who worship with us understand that we are like a teaching hospital.  They know that Sunday morning isn't going to be the biggest and best show, but they are not thinking only about themselves and what serves them best.  They could go elsewhere, but they serve our mission by simply being a part and doing so with a great attitude.  Our church members drive further to participate.  Our location is in an inexpensive area among warehouses.  Our building isn't the nicest or the biggest, but that's the sacrifice we're making for a future Kingdom impact.  Almost everybody serves in children's ministry and hospitality.  Prayer and grace are offered as newer preachers take the pulpit, developing leaders direct worship, and pastors-in-training learn and grow.  These saints truly are amazing!  We couldn't do it without them.    

Are you interested in making an Kingdom investment?  You can.  

If you live in the area, come join us.  Set aside your preferences and desires for the biggest and best.  You can serve by  joining us on Sunday.  It's an easy start and it's more valuable than you know.  

If you are not in the area, you can still greatly help up.  Being small and giving away so much, we could really use your financial help.  Please prayerfully consider supporting one of these future leaders or our development training in general.

You can give on-line here.  (Support missionaries like Brett with the Missionary Support Fund.  Support Doug's church planting efforts with the California Church Plant Fund.  Arin is supported by our Intern Stipend Fund.  Our Minister in Residence Fund helps us develop future pastors like Derek.  And our Pastoral Development Fund helps us purchase books and resources, send people to training, and make it possible to develop ministers for multiplication and future service. 

Thanks for joining us in this mission to see Utah redeemed by the power of the gospel!  If you are with us, thank you.  If you are financially helping us, thanks so much!  We couldn't do this without you. 

For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman   

 

Not My Will

Have you ever felt the agony that comes when you know God is calling you to do something you don't want to do?  The reality is most of the Bible calls us to stuff we don't want to do, but we know God's ways are better, so we trust him.  If you've felt this, you are not alone.  There are many people in the Bible that felt the tension of trusting God.  Chief among them is Jesus. 

Before going to the cross to die for the sins of the world (including yours and mine), Jesus went to one of his frequent prayer spots in the Garden of Gethsemane, across from the brook of Kidron.  It was during this prayer session where we read Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).  But let us not miss something significant.  Jesus was in agony over what was coming and what he had to do. 

The account is recorded in Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-48. John only mentions that they were in the garden across the brook of Kidron where Judas "knew this place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples."

Matthew 26:37 says he was "sorrowful and troubled."  Mark 14:33 says Jesus was, "greatly distressed and troubled."  And Luke records that an angel appeared to comfort Jesus and he was in agony so much so that his sweat was dripping like blood. (However, some manuscripts do not contain Luke 22:43-44.)  The point is that Jesus was very uncomfortable and he even asked God if there was any other way.  Nevertheless, Jesus was committed to doing the will of the Father, no matter what. Even if it caused him a sleepless night.  Even if he didn't want to.  And the will of the Father was that Jesus would die under the crushing weight of the world's sin so God and man could be reconciled.  

At times we feel agony and anguish over doing the will of the Father.  We worry and fret.  We baulk.  But in the end, we must say, "Not my will, but the will of God."  

The above photo is not a free-use photo.  It is never our desire to post copyrighted material without permission.  However, as I look at the many paintings of Jesus, praying in a beam of light, I just don't see the picture the Bible paints.  I think Michael D. O'Brien's painting, "Jesus in Gethsemane" get's at it a little better.  Can't you feel the agony in this painting? (Michael, if you would like us to remove this picture of your wonderful painting, please let us know and we'll be happy to do so.)   

Church, I will be preaching on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane this Sunday.  I know many of you are feeling this agony.  You are struggling in tension of trusting that Jesus' ways are better than the world's ways.  You know the information, but it's so hard to align your actions with what you know.  Sometimes it's even difficult to believe that Jesus loves you, but he does!  Don't be in agony, but if you are, trust God.  He's ways are better.  

I pray we see you Sunday!
Pastor Bryan  

Enter: The King (Matthew 21:1-11)

This week Derek is preaching on the day Jesus came to Jerusalem and everybody was excited. It was a huge deal.  Likely, it was the biggest parade many of the people had ever seen.  It was fit for a king.  Some were singing, some were laying palm branches down like a red carpet for his mule.  New York goes nuts when a wining team comes home.  They throw paper out the windows.  I wonder what they would do if Jesus came to New York?   

Many churches will talk about Jesus' Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus' Passion Week kicks off, but we want more time to discuss the events of that week before Easter so we're looking at the triumphal entry this Sunday.  It's part of our March to the Cross series that started with Christmas and ends on Easter. 

In addition, as we seek to develop leaders, they get opportunities to preach sermons from time to time.  As they do this, our staff talks about the text and share ideas.  I'm excited for Derek to be preaching again and I'm thankful that you, Redeeming Life Church, help us develop future leaders and pastors.  

Derek wrote the following for the bulletin and I'd like to share it here too:  

"Let’s play a hypothetical game. Suppose you had been keeping a secret--you are the rightful landowner of every square-inch of your entire neighborhood. Not only do you own the land, but you also have executive authority over every inhabitant on the land. Put simply, you are the King of your community.  And no one knows.  Now it’s time to let the “cat out of the bag,” and tell everyone. How would you do it? Flyers? TV announcement? Town hall meeting?  

"Jesus told the world (not just his community or neighborhood) that He was the King. There are 4 different accounts of this announcement in the Bible but I’ll urge you to read Matthew’s in Chapter 21. You will see that Jesus announced his kingship in a way that was quite unexpected.  At first the received him with praises, overjoyed that the King had finally come, shouting, “Hosanna! Hosanna!”  Of course we know that a week later these same people shouted for his crucifixion and death!"  

Here are some questions to help facilitate a conversation in your one-on-one groups and Fellowship Groups: 

1. How often do we cry out for Jesus to save us, either from our situations, problems, or misfortunes only to reject him when he shows up in a way that we did not expect?

2. Have you ever been looking forward to something or someone new only to be let down because your expectations weren't met? 

3. Has Jesus ever answered your prayers in a completely unexpected way or in a way that you did not want?

4. What should it tell you when you are disappointed with Jesus because he didn't do what you wanted him to do?  How can we shift our lives and expectations so they are in line with how the Bible says we should know and submit to Jesus?  

I hope these discussion questions are thought provoking and helpful this week as you meet for discipleship in your one-on-one and Fellowship Groups. 

For the Kingdom! 
Pastor Bryan