Journal Entries
Every weekday you will find a journal entry here from someone different in our church family. 
 
Click the scripture title and scroll down to see a comments section where you can ask questions, share insights and post your own SOUL Journal entry for the day!
 

Colossians__2

Scripture  Colossians 2:8  See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.

Observation-What does it say?  Paul writes this letter to the church at Colossae, another city in modern day Turkey, while still in prison in Rome.  The letter was also intended to be read to the church in Laodicea.  Colossae’s population was primarily Gentile, however there was a large Jewish population, and therefore they struggled with problems arising from Jewish legalism and pagan mysticism.  “Colossians contains teaching on several key areas of theology, including the deity of Christ (1:15–20; 2:2–10), reconciliation (1:20–23), redemption (1:13, 14; 2:13, 14; 3:9–11), election (3:12), forgiveness (3:13), and the nature of the church (1:18, 24, 25; 2:19; 3:11, 15). Also, as noted above, it refutes the heretical teaching that threatened the Colossian church (chap. 2)” (John MacArthur).

Understanding-What does it mean?  I once worked with a man who told me, “You aren’t going to heaven because you eat pork.”  I also had another person tell me, “You aren’t really a Christian unless you have been baptized by a Catholic priest.”  And, there was the other one who said, “You aren’t really saved unless you speak in tongues.”  I’ve heard probably one hundred or more reasons as to why I’m not going to heaven, or why I’m not “really” a Christian.  Most of these statements have come from really well-meaning people, some of whom I really loved.  

I myself have fallen into this category of adding things to what the Bible says.  And I have the tendency to fall into a pattern of considering worldly “wisdom” above what the Bible tells me.  For me this wisdom generally falls into two categories: health and wealth.  I can be very religious about following the religions of health and wealth, trying to become the best and richest version of myself possible.  The problem with this is that it always leaves me empty and wanting more.  Additionally, because these are selfish ambitions, they can be completely contrary to what God has called us to.

I would rather have my life be defined by how well I represent the true message of Jesus, and his saving grace through his death on the cross.  To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).    So while it would be nice to have a six pack, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” 1 Timothy 4:8.  

Life Application  Jesus, help me to remember to trust in you first.  In my finances, I want you to have control, so help me to give beyond my means.  Help me to remember that, ultimately, my time on Earth is short and that seeing you in eternity is more important than being obsessed with my health now.  Give me the right words to say and the knowledge of when to use them.  

-Tyler Galloway



Colossians_1

Scripture

Colossians 1:13-14 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Observation

Paul is encouraging the Colossians, letting them know he prays for them because of their faith in Christ and love for God’s people. He again reminds them that he is praying for them that the Holy Spirit would continue to fill them with wisdom and understanding and reminds them that they share in the inheritance of his holy people.

Understanding

God rescued us! We were living in the dark! Being ruled by the darkness! We were headed for eternal separation from the light, from God, from His love.

Its interesting how we like to say that we found Jesus. Did we really…? Think about it. We have all those moments where we know God was there speaking to our hearts, bringing people in our lives to speak the truth to us, wielding circumstances in hopes that I would turn to him.

We all have moments when our eyes finally open and we see HIM but did we really find him?

He was always in pursuit of us.

Psalm 23:6 “Surely His goodness and steadfast love will pursue me relentlessly all the days of my life.”

The Holy Spirit was always there speaking to my heart, to my spirit, waiting for that moment when my eyes would open, I would see him, then he could rescue me!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Application

Follow hard after Him! Psalm 63:8

He relentlessly pursued after us to save us from the kingdom of darkness. Let’s make a commitment to relentlessly pursue Him.

If we seek Him we will find him when we seek him with all of our hearts. Jeremiah 29:13

Holy Spirit lead the way. Empower us, teach us how to love and pursue the Father the way he deserves. In Jesus name, Amen.

Deborah Lee



Philippians_3

Scripture

Philippians 3:7-12 NIV

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Observation-What does it say?

I love this chapter! First, Paul talks about putting no confidence in our flesh, and instead consider those accomplishments loss for the sake of knowing Christ. There would be no need for Christ if all we had to do was follow a set of rules and regulations. Next, Paul encourages the church to keep pressing forward no matter what was behind, as they continue to be perfected in Christ and look above to their citizenship in heaven, not on earth. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

Less of me equals more of Christ. 

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:39, Matt. 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, John 12:25).

As Paul noted, his long list of accomplishments meant nothing and he would lose all of it just to have more of Christ in his life. No wonder God chose to use him for great things! He was more concerned about taking the focus off of his own needs, wants, desires, pride, and security, and laid it all down for the Lord, to put the focus of his life on what pleased the Lord and giving Him glory for all of it alone.

We can be the most beautiful/handsome, popular, wisest, gifted, talented, richest, best dressed, charismatic, healthiest, happiest, most perfect, law abiding citizen on this planet, but without faith in Christ, it means nothing. Without love for others and the heart of a servant, it’s just outward works that God is not impressed with. 

“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Psalm 10:4 NIV

Life Application

Take on the form of a servant, like Jesus did. 

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8 NIV

What is the practical application of losing our life for Him? It’s taking on the form of a servant, like Jesus did. He left all the riches of heaven for you and me. He came not to be served, but to serve. (Matt. 20:28, Mark 10:45).

When we think of our own lives, what must we surrender to Him in order to be a better servant to Jesus in our marriages/relationships? In our church? With our finances? With our time? To our supervisors? To our children? To the lost and broken? 

Dear Jesus, you are a prime example of someone who gave up everything, even your own life, for the people you loved and were called to serve. And as Scripture says, You didn’t even use your equality with God to your advantage, but lost your life completely for our sake. I pray that You would give us Your heart of servanthood, and break us of any pride within ourselves that would make us boast in ourselves. May our lives boast in You alone because without You, we are nothing. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi



Philippians_2

Scripture

Philippians 2:2-4

then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 

Observation

Paul and co-author Timothy address the church of Philippi.

Understanding

Paul says “then make my joy complete by…”

And, while the church of Philippi living out humility may have brought Paul joy, humility most often brings joy to the one who lives it out.  With humility there is no pride, no expectation, no entitlement.  When we set aside these things, it becomes much easier to be “like-minded, having the same love, being in one spirit and of one mind.”

Humility is exemplified by Christ who stepped off His throne in heaven to come to earth and heal, love, care for the outcasts.  Who – of ALLLL people – is, was and always will be better than us or above any human form.  Yet, he humbled Himself in order to love people, teach them and turn their hearts towards God.  May we do the same!

Life Application

Be humble.

Like Christ, value others above yourself.

Like Christ, love others.

Like Christ, honor others.

Like Christ, put the interests and needs of others – especially as it relates to relationship with Christ or eternal life – above our own. 

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Philippians__1

Scripture  Philippians 1:29-30  For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Observation-What does it say?  Philippi is a city on the Egnation way, an east and west highway in the northern part of Macedonia.  Because of it’s geographical location, Philippi was subject to various ideas and schools of thought influencing and disrupting the church.  Therefore, in opening his letter to the Philippians, Paul encourages the church to work on their unity. Part of the need for unity is to live a life worthy of the church.  Paul also encourages us in our suffering. Our life in Christ is not only believing, but also suffering.

Understanding-What does it mean?  Something I never want to do again in my life is go through a police academy.  The five and a half months of intense learning and training were some of the worst months in my life.  But, whenever I think of my time spent in that classroom, in the PT field, and at the range, I laugh and smile, knowing it was some of the best time in my life.  I made some great friends, and most importantly, I grew as a person. Like anything difficult to complete, whether it be a marathon, a college degree, or climbing a mountain, the joy is not only in the outcome, but in seeing how far we have come.  Some of the worst or hardest times I’ve ever gone through in life are often the times I look back at with the most joy. When I think of suffering, Job almost always comes to mind.  In everything Job lost, he grew closer to God and his dependency on God grew as well.  In our own suffering, the joy comes not only in knowing that some day we will be with Jesus, but joy also comes in knowing that we are separating ourselves from this world of sin and pain.  As we all know, life is not pretty or well put together. At the worst times we will have car accidents, or loose a job, we might even find out we have a disease with a grim outcome. But as we learn to trust in God and to suffer with Him, we can sing like David did in the wilderness.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You ]earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh [c]yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.  Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.  My soul is satisfied as with [d]marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.  Psalm 63:1-5
 
Life Application  Jesus, teach my heart to know that your love is better than life.  When I am low and hurting, I know your word restores my life and my bones.  Send your peace on my heart when everything seems to be falling down around me.  I love you, and I know in suffering I am being drawn closer to you.
 
-Tyler Galloway


Proverbs_ 3

Scripture

Proverbs 3:11-12

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,

   and do not resent his rebuke,

12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

   as a father the son he delights in.

Observation

King Solomon speaks most likely to his descendants offering instruction, understanding, and wisdom.

Understanding

God loves you!!

I remember when my girls were small it seems I was correcting them for everything.

When I saw them running for the street, I would pull them back and say,“when you cross the street stop at the curb, looking both ways, and if no cars are coming then you can walk to the other side.”

When I saw them yanking a toy from another child’s hand I would say to ask for it and say “please”, when they give it to you say “thank you.”

Over and over and over again I told them the correct way to do certain things. I’m sure they dreaded hearing my voice at times especially because it may have seemed I was only going to keep telling them all the things they are doing wrong.

Really, I just loved them. I didn’t want them to get hit by a car and I wanted them to be nice human beings that could someday have friends:)

Application

Hebrews 12:5 “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

God is transforming us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. He loved us enough to have sent Jesus to redeem us from our sins, and he continues to show his love for his children by correcting our ways to conform to His image.

God may bring about his correction by his word, people, or situations.

Let me tell you, God loves the heck out of me!

Thank you Father for your love. I am so grateful to belong to a church body that cares so much about discipleship in turn shows your love for me!

Deborah Lee 



Ephesians_5

Scripture
 
Ephesians 5: 1-2a
 
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Paul is writing the Ephesians, urging them to walk in love, walk in the light they are filled with by Christ, and walk in the wisdom Jesus has shed on them through His teachings. Paul urges them to stay clear of the unbelievers’ influences, for that could lead to a grim path. Instead, they should be a light to them. They should help expose them of their sinfulness and their need of Jesus. Ultimately Paul wants to see them filled with the Holy Spirit, living a life that brings glory to God.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Does the life I live reflect Jesus and His ways?
 
I try to constantly remind my kids that as soon as they walk out that door, no matter where they go, (school, church, a friend’s house, a party, or even at their grandparent’s house), they are carrying my family name. “SO DON’T MAKE A FOOL OUT OF ME!”  My wife and I try to raise them the right way. We give them the tools they need to be successful, but it’s up to them if they decide to use it or not. It’s a daily prayer my wife and I share, praying our kids are making wise choices when we are not around.
 
I believe the same can be said about us as Christ Followers. When we choose to follow Jesus and get baptized to make our public declaration of our new life devoted to Him, we are now adopted into the family…the family of God. We too carry His name wherever we go. So am I making a fool out of Him? Am I telling people that I am a Christian, but my actions are proving otherwise? Am I living a life that is showing others the characteristics of my Father in Heaven? I sure hope so. After all, God also gives us everything we need in life to succeed. He gives us His Word, His Holy Spirit, and His Church to help guide us with our decisions. He also has an open direct line of communication whenever we’re stuck. We can pray to Him anytime, anywhere! How can we not succeed in life?! So let’s use these tools He blesses us with, and go out in this world and make Him proud!
 
Life Application
 
I am a child of God. Time to show the world the things my Father taught me.
 
Remember when you were a kid and your parent taught you something new? You couldn’t wait to try it out on your own, and even show your friends what you learned. For me it was tying my shoes, tying a neck tie, learning how to drive, or even grilling a steak. The bottom line is my dad taught me, and I repeated it, and showed it off and applied it to my everyday life. How can I show others the things my Father in Heaven has shown me? I can tell them about the love of Jesus. I can show them an unconditional love and forgiveness. I can give to those in need.
 
Father God, help me to carry the name of Christ Follower out in this world in a way that makes You proud. Open my eyes to those opportunities to do so. May those around me get a glimpse of Your light, and yearn to want more. In Your name I pray, Amen.
 
-Moses Gaddi


Ephesians__4

Scripture

Ephesians 4:32 NIV

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Observation-What does it say?

Paul opens this chapter by encouraging the church to be united as a Body in Christ and to grow up in maturity as they each do the work that Christ has called them to do. Paul then gives instructions for Christian living. The one highlighted to me was the last verse, about forgiveness.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Unity in the Body of Christ is impossible without forgiveness.

Paul LOVED the church and he knew what would lead to its disunity and ultimate destruction. He talks about several things such as impurity, greed, unholy living, lies, anger and unwholesome talk (aka slander/gossip). He then brings it back to Christ and reminds the church of the importance of being kind, compassionate and forgiving towards each other. He wanted them to remember what Christ sacrificed for them and how Christ loved and forgave them. Healthy churches are forgiving churches. 

Luke 17:3-4-Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Matt. 18:33-35-And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Matt. 6:15-But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses

Life Application

Confess to God any unforgiveness or bitterness lingering towards a brother or sister and forgive them from your heart.

Dear Jesus, we pray for Your strength to forgive our family from our hearts. We desire to love and forgive like You do. Teach us Holy Spirit to put aside any differences, anger or bitterness that the enemy would use to divide and destroy us, and instead help us remain united in You. Help us remain united to the mission You have called us each to and to do our part well. Help us to work together as a whole and healthy Body, growing in maturity with You as our Head. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi



Ephesians_3

Scripture

Ephesians 3:17-19

17 … And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Observation

Paul begins this Chapter revealing the mystery and marvel of God’s plan for the Gentiles.  Then he begins praying for the Ephesians. 

Understanding

Some notes to be taken…as Paul prays, he prays that the Ephesians:

  • Would be rooted and established in love
    • As Christians, follows of an all knowing, all powerful and loving God, we are called to be rooted and established in love, to reflect God’s love to those who know him and to those who don’t. What a powerful base to live from, to make decisions from, to speak from, to think from.
  • May have power
    • God’s plan for us is not to be docile robots, but individuals with power – power to heal, power to choose, power to speak up.
  • May grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ
    • There’s songs and scriptures that speak to this, but have you ever just sat and thought about this phrase? God’s love is all encompassing.  The same God that made the expansiveness of space, the mystery and depth of the sea, the height of mountains…THAT is the God who made us, loves us, calls us.
  • May be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God
    • ALL the fullness of God…I don’t think our human brains can even comprehend that. But the part that we can comprehend is big and oh so good. So, may we allow ourselves to be filled!

Life Application

Pray. 

Pray with boldness that Desert Streams would be rooted and established in love, have power, that we would grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, may be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God.

To check out the discussion or to join in click here.



Ephesians__2

Scripture  Ephesians 2:10  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Observation-What does it say?  The letter to Ephesus, absent of some of the personal greetings used in Paul’s other writings, may have been a circular letter passed around to a number of churches in the region, which is now western Turkey.  One of Paul’s main concerns in this letter is a message of unity and completeness in the church.  He then “proceeds to show the steps towards their fulfillment. First, God has reconciled individuals to Himself as an act of grace (2:1-10)” (Barker, K.).  Because of our disobedience, we are cut off from life, but, through his grace we are reconciled. 

Understanding-What does it mean?  One of the hardest obstacles I have come to face, as a parent, is sticking to being the voice of discipline to my kids.  I really am just a big push over when it comes to holding their feet to the fire.  However, I know how important it is to help them gain their sense of discipline.  It sets them up for future success in faith as well as in other pursuits in life.  I have seen, too many times, the result of a child who was not taught to have discipline.  A child without discipline turns into a thirty year old who lives at home, without a job, and doesn’t take responsibility for their own.  Disciplining a child allows them the opportunity to freely turn back and see that it was done out of your great love for them.  

Paul’s words, here in the book of Ephesians, echo the words of the Psalmist in Psalms 90.  For both point out that we are not the driving force of our time here on earth.  It is God who prepares for us good works to be done.  It is our job to have the discipline to carry out that good work.  When we live outside those good works, we face the consequences of our decision of disobedience, namely separation from Jesus.  However, God, as Peter wrote, shows His deep love for us in His patience.  “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him” (3:14-15).   

Much like I know my boys’ future success is dependent on building discipline now, so also does my faith depend on being disciplined in what God has asked me to do now.  God’s discipline is keeping me from the things that can ultimately keep me separated from Him in eternity.

Life Application:  Jesus, help me to seek out the good works you have prepared for me.  And when those seem hard to find, help me to remember the things you have shown me in scripture.  Help me to be kind to others, be generous to widows and protect the orphans.  Help me to offer words that encourage, and not words that tear down.  Above all, in everything I do, be evident through me.   

-Tyler Galloway