BLESSINGS FROM HEAVEN

WHEN WE SAY WE ARE BLESSED, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

  • Luke 6:20-23 (NIV) 20 Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.

 

To most Jewish people in Jesus’ time, the word “blessing” evoked images of…
  • a long life,
  • wealth,
  • a large, healthy family,
  • a full barn, and
  • defeated enemies.

 

But Jesus tells us that in order for us to be truly blessed and happy in this world it starts with an inward attitude towards circumstances – it needs to be one of unwavering faith in God

 

So many of us fall into the trap of thinking that happiness comes from
  • having great possessions, or
  • holding an exalted position, or
  • enjoying the pleasures and
  • popularity that money can buy.

 

But Jesus tells us that that no amount of “things” can substitute for a personal relationship with God the Father.  If we put God first and pursue relationship with Him then we enjoy our best life now AND then comes heaven (even more blessings!).  We can have our cake and eat it too if we would seek His ways first and foremost.

 

Circumstances, to a person who sees with the eyes of faith and the values of heaven, are not a hindrance to us experiencing joy and happiness. 

 

We are joyful in spite of because God is in control and He has our best interest at heart and that is attitude!

 

Are we growing up in our walk with God or are we still being babies and wanting to walk away from God when it seems like we are not experiencing life the way we want God to bless us?


Are you Gracist?

  • Galatians 3:26–28So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

Racial tensions and discrimination is out of control in America. You and I, we can take sides and build walls; or we can be gracists and build bridges.
 
What is a gracist?
Racism: speaking, acting or thinking negatively about someone else solely based on that person’s color, class or culture.
Gracism: the positive extension of grace and favor on other humans regardless of color, class or culture.  From Gracism: The Art of Inclusion, by David A. Anderson
 
In Jesus, we are one.
Race, class and gender, how well you jump through man made hoops, all become secondary to Jesus.  
It’s not that they cease to exist. 
It’s not that we cease to be white or black, cease to be rich or poor, cease to be male or female.
It’s not that we cease to make mistakes…it’s just that those things no longer are reasons to keep us apart.
We reach across those divides, and we show favor to those who are different from us, just as God did for us in Christ.
 
This is the gospel of gracism:
God’s grace not only makes us acceptable to Him, but to each other.
God’s grace not only heals our relationship with Him, but our relationships with each other.
God’s grace not only bridges the divide between us and Him, but between “us and them”. Now it’s just us.
 
We as believers, should be leading the way in reconciliation because God led the way in reconciling us to Himself.
Let’s be gracist this week!


Putting Jesus First

Sunday we talked about putting Jesus first and that meant reordering your life around Him as the center and prioritizing what you have to serve His purposes first and foremost.
 
The challenge was to continually determine if He was first in your life by your thoughts and actions.  Take the test again today…
 

QUESTION 1:  Am I trusting and leaning on God or myself?

  • Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT) 5Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
 

How am I doing on living out the reality of these truths?  Give yourself a score from 1-10:  1 being not good at all and 10 being I am rocking it!

  • God is the source of all good and He wants to provide for me.
  • I don’t have to worry because I believe that God will meet all of my needs
  • I trust God and then look to see how He wants me to partner with Him.
 

When we fully believe those statements we will live accordingly.  Our actions will line up with what we say we believe. 

So in the midst of trying situations we will not budge from the fact that God has promised to meet all of our needs and He will fulfill that promise. 
 
QUESTION 2:  Who or what is the object of your affections?
 

Our minds, like the needle of the compass, can focus on many things during the course of the day.  But in the end when it is left to settle it will settle on the objects of our greatest affection. 

What does your mind come to rest on? 
Put these in order of priority.
  • God
  • Your job
  • Your family
  • Your girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Athletic pursuits/Sports
  • Money
  • Personal accomplishments
  • Personal possessions
  • Other ______________________________________

   The person who serves no other gods but God will find that his thoughts usually swing around until they focus on God.  He thinks about God, meditates on his truths. 

He worships Him and sees Him in everything around him. 
 
QUESTION 3:  Who are you trying to impress?
 

Circle the one that is number 1. 

  • I live to please myself
  • I live to impress others
  • I live to impress God.
 
People who serve God alone will be controlled by what God wants for their lives.  They will find themselves asking God to reveal His plan for their lives so that they can do what He wants.  They will find themselves saying, “God I will follow you wherever it leads and no matter the cost.”  They will seek to see where God is at work and join Him instead of inviting God to join them, because they truly want to impress God and no one else.
 
QUESTION 4:  What are we living for?
 

We have only one life to live and at the end we will stand before God and give account for it. 

What will be the overriding theme of your life?  Another way to put this is to ask yourself, “What do I want on my tombstone?”  Take a moment to write that down.
 

Having done the test what do you need to do to make Jesus number 1?



BBQ Update

This last weekend we had our Family BBQ and it was a great success.  It was our desire to connect with 50 people who have never been to DSC so we asked the church family to invite their family and friends to the event, and many of you did.  At last count we connected with at least 35 new people on Saturday evening; there were more new people there, but those are the ones that we can account for having met and connected with.
 
Many of our guests commented on how much they enjoyed themselves and were blown away by the generosity of the church family and I had a number of church members tell me later that their friends and family who attended were more open to attending one of our Sunday services.  We are continuing to build relationships and looking for the opportunities to share the Good News with people.  Remember good works produces good will that leads to the Good News.
 
I want to say thank you to all of you who made this event a success: Debbie Dunn who spearheaded the evening, Layla who had such a passion and creativity for it, Justin Eaves who organized the activities, Adina who headed up the food, Michelle who invited everyone in Santa Clarita it seemed, and to every one of you who invited someone and who attended – thank you all for working towards fulfilling our calling to multiply Christ followers!
 
And the job is not done – this was only stage one.  We ask that you continue to invite those people who attended to come to our Sunday services and we ask all of you at the church to make Sunday mornings so amazing that people experience the presence and power of God in such a way that draws people to Him.
 

Have an awesome week and see you on Sunday. PG



Partying Like Levi!

  • Luke 5:27-32 (NIV) 27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
  This is so great, the first thing Levi does as a new follower of Jesus was to invite all his friends over to his house for a party so that they could meet Jesus.  One thing I know, they were not Christ-followers – they were probably other tax collectors – people who were rough and raucous and well…sinners!  
 
But that is exactly why Levi wanted them to meet Jesus – so that they could experience His love and grace.  So he throws a party!  My kind of guy!  He invited neighbors, friends, clients, other tax collectors and they had fun together.  They ate, played games, laughed and had a great time together.    
 
We are throwing a Levi party this coming Saturday.  The family BBQ is designed exactly for this reason.  We are going to eat together, have fun together, we are going to be the good news before we share the Good News.    So there is still time, let’s go all out for this party this Saturday.
 
I am asking you to…
INVITE – Personally invite at least 3 people who don’t attend DSC to the Family BBQ.  
 
CONNECT – At the BBQ, engage in meaningful conversation with people you don’t already know and begin to build a relationship with them.   Relationship is the currency for discipleship. It is our goal to develop meaningful connections with guests that would lead to an opportunity to show them the love of God.  
 
MEET A NEED – As you connect with people, if you discover a need they have, do what you can to meet it.   Jesus was always looking to meet people’s needs when he saw them. Whether it was praying for healing, sharing the truth, inviting them to follow him, or something else, Jesus made the most of every opportunity to meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of people.  
 
I am praying that many people will get a chance to experience Jesus this weekend as we all do our part to make this happen.


Together Everyone Accomplishes More

Every group of people is known for something. Just hearing their name or seeing their symbol can evoke emotions.  
 
What about the church?
What do we want people to know about us?
What are we trying to accomplish?
What is it that should get us out of bed every morning? What is it that should bind us together with all other Christians—regardless of age, race, background, or church affiliation?  
  • Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

 

In other words, you’ve gotten a lot from being a follower of Jesus. Now it’s time to start being and doing as a result. It’s time to start being and doing…together!  
 
Why? Because…together we can do more!  
 
There are people all around us that aren’t experiencing what we get to experience by following Jesus.
There are people all around us that don’t have a relationship with Christ at all.
We have the opportunity together to help people connect with God.  
 
But it doesn’t stop there.  
 
There are people all around us that don’t have any kind of real friendships with people who love them no matter what.
There are so many people that don’t feel accepted, don’t fit into any group, and they’re just lonely.
They are looking for a loving group of people to take them in.  
 
We have the opportunity together to help people connect with God and His people in an incredible way.  
 
Over the next few weeks you will be hearing about our Family BBQ happening on October 19th.  It is an opportunity for us to band together as the body of Christ at DSC to accomplish the mission of reaching lost people and bringing them into the family of God.  Join with us in this endeavor to bring people into a lasting and life changing relationship with God and His people.  
 
SAVE THE DATE: 
Family BBQ October 19thfrom 4-7pm.
Family Games, food, fun and the chance to be salt and light. 
And invite someone who does not know Christ to attend with you.


Spiritual Growth Comes With Community

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)  As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.  
 
I love knives!! In fact I just got a beautiful knife for my birthday.  There’s nothing like a sharp knife that cuts through the stuff you need to cut through.  My dad never sharpens his knives so whenever I visit home I am frustrated by the amount of effort it takes to do the simplest cutting tasks. 
 
The Bible tells us that we are to be sharp not dull and one of the ways we are sharpened is through community.   We have been talking about the fact that we are created for community, and God instituted that even before the fall.  Now more than ever we need then community of believers in order to stay sharp.  
 
The Bible also tells us that when people meet together that God is there to bless – so if you want to receive the blessings of God you need community.  
 
Here is the thing about Christian community – being sharp is to be desired and is a good thing, but the process of sharpening is sometimes not so much fun. The payout is amazing but we tend to hide from the sharpening because it is sometimes painful and difficult.  Many times we despise the ones who are lovingly sharpening us and we want to hide from them – but remember that we were created for community so that we can be made in the image and likeness of God and so that we can be sharpened to be effective at what He has called us to.   
 
Lean in to community – don’t run from it, don’t hide from it!


Comfort Comes from Community

We are talking about connecting in community in the next month here at DSC and in specific this week we are talking about how comfort comes from community.  As a result I wanted to share this letter I got from someone from the church family.  

I was thinking about your teaching last Sunday and the comment you made that it was your fantasy to have a church of Christ followers demonstrating their love for God and One another by showing it in very real and practical ways.
 
These last few weeks since we moved back into our home after living in a hotel for 7 months we experienced some unexpected needs.
 
While The renovation team that repaired our home did a beautiful job on the actual renovation part—the way they “packed” our home belongings was a mess! Boxes were everywhere from upstairs and downstairs and in the garage and nothing was marked. boxes were piled high on top of furniture and furniture was out of place. it was a bit like an obstacle course to say the least. Needless to say we were not able to cook as we couldn’t find our pots and pans etc. I spent the first week crying!!!
 
First I want to say that there were several avenues of help from church and the most important thing to know about belonging to a community is letting your community KNOW you need help.
 
I texted my Grow Group Leader (who had already checked in on me)
My grow group leader, Joni posted on our FB page and several offers from our Grow Group immediately came flooding in of meals and offers for help of whatever was necessary along with daily and much needed prayer support.
Thank You Yuka for the amazing Chicken Curry!!!..
and All my grow group for prayers and encouragement and help!
There were days I knew I was being carried by the prayers of my amazing Grow Group.
 
Second, because I serve at church-I let them know and additional meals and prayer support,
Texts (Thank you Pastor Warren, Levi and Crystal) and offers came in.
Thank you Ken and Deborah Lee for the amazing dinner and prayer and tech support you provided us. Larry and I appreciated it more than you could ever know.
 
Community living means you have a family you can count on when you need it most. Larry and I were at our worst. We are still in the midst but making progress. The community at Desert Streams means everything to us. I just want you to know..PG..it’s not a fantasy. It’s a reality. We Feel blessed at Desert Streams church,
 
Larry and Tina Kudelka.
 
We were created for community and God uses it to provide comfort and help for us!


God Wired Us For Community

You don’t have to look far to discover that there are some really unique people in the world.  We’re unique in how we look, how we talk, and how we interact with others. We also value different things.
Take Charlotte Lee, for example. Charlotte, a 32-year-old from Seattle, has acquired more than 5,000 rubber ducks that she houses in her basement.
Paul Brockman from Germany owns 55,000 dresses! He claims they’re for his wife.
Then there’s Jian Yang, a gentleman who collects Barbie dolls. He’s got more than 6,000 dolls and has spent almost $400,000 on his hobby.  
 
Every day we encounter people with different stories.
Different backgrounds.
Different differences.
And these differences can be good things, right? They add variety. They make things interesting.
 
But differences can be stumbling blocks too.  Face enough relational drama, and we soon begin to fantasize about living on an island by ourselves.   
 
So what do we do with that?
We can choose to not care and just do our own thing.
We can choose to build a wall around ourselves and shut out anyone who is different to us…boring!
 
Or we can lean in to a truth that can revolutionize our lives.  You see the truth is that…
 
GOD WIRED US FOR COMMUNITY
 
He made us to connect with one another. 
He made it clear that we are not to be lone rangers, that we were meant to live together in community.
 
But if I am going to be honest that community is not so easy at times.  When you engage in God’s plan of community it is going to be messy, confusing, complicated, complicated, confusing, draining…and the list goes on. 
BUT God never asks us to do things that are detrimental to us.  The end result is always that what He is asking of us is for our own good and we need to push through. 
 
In the next few weeks we will explore God’s plan for us for community and all of the amazing benefits that are available to us when we choose to push through the discomfort to experience the payouts.  Come join the community.  Yes I know we have some “unique” people in our DSC community but you will discover that the variety spices up our lives.  
 
Say it out loud every day this week – God made me to be a part of community.


Working from Rest

Hi Family!  July is fast approaching and as is our custom we take time to rest, to have a Sabbath month. The word Sabbath means an intermission, a break from the normal routines.  We are committing July to be a Sabbath because rest is important to God. He commands us in Exodus 20:8-11 to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” He tells us (yes, me and YOU) to set aside a day where we don’t work. But not just us… our sons, daughters, servants, animals, even aliens. God tells us to do this because WE NEED THE BREAK. He cares about us, He is tender and compassionate towards us, and he understands our frailty. In God’s deep love for us, he asks us to please chill out for a day, so that we don’t burnout, breakdown and lose our effectiveness. Keeping the Sabbath isn’t just a day off full of binging on Netflix or ESPN. We have to make sure we are connecting with God as well. During July, we are going to change up our routine at DSC in order to rest: to refresh ourselves, recover strength, and restore God’s peace. This includes in our daily, personal lives, too.   Here are some things you should consider including in our month-long Sabbath:

Think about God & Take Inventory of your life:  

Spend time thinking about God and His greatness. Remember why you love him, and that he loves YOU.  Check your priorities. Ask God these questions and listen for an answer: 

  • Are all these things I’m involved in good in your sight, Lord?
  • Are they the best I could do with what You have given me?
  • Am I striving to live in my own strength or Yours?
  • Am I hearing Your voice?
  • Am I following after You?
  • Am I leaning on my strength or Yours?

 

Spend time with God daily:

Set aside a time to meet with God daily. It refreshes us, renews us and gives us strength for the hard times.

Make time for PB&J (Prayer, Bible reading, and journaling). Start SOUL Journaling (go to https://www.desertstreams.com/soul-journal/ if you aren’t sure how).

Commit to putting down your phone and spending the first five minutes and last five minutes of your day with God.  Check out our 31 days of rest handout.  

Spend your Sundays with your church family worshipping God:

We also need an extended time that’s set aside to be with God and his family. Too often we get sidetracked with our Sabbath and think it means spending time out with our family and friends, having fun. This is important but it’s not the primary objective of the Sabbath. Taking time to worship God should be our first priority.  The only way place we can truly find rest is in God’s presence. From that point, we branch out into time spent with family, friends, and recreation. 
Whether we understand it or not, to connect with God requires connecting with His family, a Christian without a church community is a contradiction!  And don’t just limit it to Sunday – spend time with the family in fellowship.  Our 31 days of rest handout has suggestions on how you can do some of those things, check it out.
 
So let’s get ready to REST, God’s way!