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!
 

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



2 Kings_15

Scripture

2 Kings 15:35 Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the Lord.

Observation

2 Chronicles 27:3 Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the LORD and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel.

Fortifying the walls of the city would help to protect against outside enemies.

Understanding

Protect your relationship with the LORD.

Song of Solomon 2:15  Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoke the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.

Little foxes can be such a nuisance for gardeners. Little foxes come in and eat your fruit that were not intended for them. They can ruin your garden, your days and months of hard work.

You may not see them when they actually come in but you see the damage that is done, the holes that were dug, the flowerbeds that are torn.

Little things can cause a big problem that can ruin a relationship.

Watching T.V. Is not a big deal but when I am watching my favorite show instead of talking to my husband that I haven’t seen all day, that could create a distance in our relationship if it’s done consistently.

It’s the same way with all our relationships but especially with the LORD which is the most important of all.

There are so many little things throughout the day that can deter us from staying connected to the LORD, the mundane things like chores or down time, or no time. The list could go on.

Application

Guard your time with the LORD.

Psalm 63:3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’

We have experienced Him and know that He is and has to be our foundation. Let’s fortify our walls of protection that secure our relationship with the LORD, that will keep us from falling away.

Have a set time that you spend with LORD, like a date, an appointment, that is not meant to be interrupted or broken.

Worship is one of the best ways that keeps us connected and we can stay connected throughout the day.

Start fortifying your walls today.

Take a look at your day and get rid of the little foxes that are creeping in. Seal up the holes by first guarding your most important relationship.



Galatians_6

Scripture
 
Galatians 6: 9-10
 
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
 
Observation
 
Paul continues to urge the church to act in according to the Spirit, but rather than looking at this through the lens of the law he centralizes it around the church itself. He also encourages the church to continue acting in goodness as it will lead to an abundance in return.
 
Understanding
 
A proper harvest will be reaped when the body of Christ moves in unison.
 
I find it ironic that Paul places these verses in tandem with one another. Often as a church we focus on bringing people to Christ, outside of the church, that we forget to recognize our family whom we gather with frequently. I’m not saying that we mistreat one another, but showing the goodness of God to people who already believe is just as important as showing it to someone who doesn’t. The phrase familiarity breeds fondness comes to mind, as we become fond and comfortable with one another yet we don’t always extend goodness to one another. Again, I want to emphasize that I am not indicating that we mistreat our church family, but we don’t always show our gratitude. Gratitude is not designated to only a small time in November when people are forced to say what they are thankful for. Gratitude expresses appreciation and goodness about a given thing. It’s the little things like buying the person you sit next to every Sunday a coffee from Mainstream, it’s posting one of PG’s one-liners that resonate with you, it’s offering to take someone out to lunch after service.
 
So why am I saying all this? Knowing each other and truly showing the goodness of God to those who we serve with will lead to not only a move of God within our own church but an overflow into our community. If we desire to see other people come to know Christ we must first hold the mirror up to our own church and ensure that we act with integrity and goodness with each other. As Paul says the moment we give up of doing good with each other is the moment we give up on doing good elsewhere. How do we act when we are comfortable with each other? Does it glorify God and bring goodness and gratitude to those we serve with?
 
Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
 
Life Application
 
Prepare for the harvest by appreciating the workers.
 
Let’s be more intentional about connecting with our family and letting them know how thankful you are for them. It could a simple gesture like writing a note to someone in the church, or hanging out them outside the church walls. The point is the harvest is plentiful but the workers must be motivated to reap the harvest.
 
-Allison Khan