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!
 

1 John_1

Scripture:  1John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Observation-What does it say?  Though it is not labeled directly, the authorship of this letter is attributed to the apostle John.  The style and authoritative tone are strikingly similar to that in the fourth gospel.  In this letter, John addresses ideas and philosophies that were creeping into the church.  Much like today, the church was facing pressures from outside groups to incorporate things that were contrary to the gospel.  On top of that, some of those who were the most vocal of making these changes had abandoned the regular meetings, proposing that their spirituality had progressed beyond this.  

Understanding-What does it mean?  I took an art history class once, which was both fun and highly frustrating.  Some of the “opinions” of the meanings of different pieces of art, and the time periods they were made in, were swayed by the political and moral leanings of both the professor and the author of the text.  But I digress.  In the class we discussed the modern art movement and “art for art’s sake.”  The major theme in the modern art movement, which started in the late 19th century and carries through today, was the autonomy of art and the artists freedom of expression.  In other words, the art only needs to be an expression of the artist to be art, there was no longer the need to have any quality or mastery of form.  

And so, without any attention paid to form, purpose and true meaning, we are left with a cheap imitation of true art.  Where art was once defined by pieces like the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo, we now see art in the form of “Lipstick urinals” https://collections.lacma.org/node/177865.  Similarly, we can experience the same cheapening in life when our focus is drawn away from truth.

The Christmas season used to be depressing for me, and for many it still is.  When the season is separated from the hope brought into the world through the birth of the messiah, we are left with celebrating for celebration sake.  The focus is then put on the presents and food, which always left me searching for more.  But when we remember that the birth of Jesus is where our hope begins, we can continue to celebrate on through the year and into eternity of the wonders of the love which Jesus showed to us.  In this time of the year, I am looking to celebrate the only one who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:13-16).

Life Application:  Jesus, thank you for coming to earth in the form of a man.  Thank you that you took on the weight of my sin by dying on the cross.  Thank you for making me complete.  Help me to always return my focus to you, the true light. 

-Tyler Galloway 



2 Peter_3

Scripture

2 Peter 3:1

Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.

Observation – What does it say?

Peter, in this letter he wrote to all believers everywhere, states his purpose for both letters. As one translation puts it, “to stir you up by way of reminder.” In other words, he wasn’t writing with some new information or breaking news to blow their minds. He was writing to remind them of things they already knew.

Understanding – What does it mean?

We don’t always need a new truth or new revelation. Sometimes, what is most necessary is for us to be reminded of something we’ve already heard or read or known. And the Holy Spirit will use that reminder to stir us up inside and get our minds focused in the right direction. 

Life Application

It’s easy to hear a sermon or open a passage of the Bible and start to half-listen or skim, thinking, “Oh, I’ve already heard this. I know where he’s going with this.” Or, “I’ve read this passage many times before and know it inside and out.” But as soon as we do, we close our spiritual ears and eyes and remove the possibility of God stirring us up. 

Possibly most harmful is doing this around the truths that are most central to our faith. If we aren’t careful, we become numb to phrases like, “God loves me,” “Jesus died on the cross,” “I’ve been forgiven of all my sins.” We experience little or no emotion around the most incredible truths in the universe! What a tragedy! 

This Christmas, that was my prayer; a request for God to open my eyes once again to see the power and great significance of Immanuel, God becoming man and dwelling among us. That God would restore my sensitivity where it’s been lost. And he’s begun to do so!

God, please forgive me! As I take time to remind myself and meditate on these great truths and promises, stir me up! Stir us up inside and change our thinking as you remind us of the truth. Amen.

– Levi Thompson



Ruth_1

Scripture
 
Ruth‬ ‭1:1-2‬ ‭
 
“In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.”
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
A severe famine had hit the land of Judah. A man originally from Bethlehem, who now resides in Judah, named Elimelech, took his wife Naomi, and his two sons Mahlon and Kilion to live in the country, which wasn’t affected by the famine, Moab. One problem though, Israel and the people of Moab did not have a happy history. You see, the Moabites and their descendants were excluded from the congregation of Israel for 10 generations because of their idolatry (Deut. 23:1-4). And now you have Elimelech, (whose name means “My God is King”), take his family away from the land God has given them, to move to a land which He did not particularly approve of.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?
 
Trust God through the good times and the bad times.
 
Now I’m sure we all know the book of Ruth thoroughly by now from Pastor’s sermon series on it a couple months ago. But I just wanted to refresh our memories from it. 😊
 
Elimelech, the spiritual leader in his household, made a “business decision” he thought was best for his family here. Instead of trusting that God would provide, he tried to solve the problem himself by moving his family away from the land that God had given them. It would be a decision that would cost him dearly. Soon after his decision to move to Moab, Elimelech lost his own life, and also the lives of his two sons, leaving his wife widowed. Elimelech forgot the meaning of his name, “My God is King”. If he would of remembered it, he would of realized that he should have submitted to God’s ways, instead of doing it his own way. It’s a life lesson I know I can learn from. To know that when life’s troubles comes my way, am I going to trust my ways over His? Or am I willing to stand firmly in my faith, in my belief in Jesus? To know that nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26) and that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13).
 
Life Application
 
Walk by faith, not by sight.
 
Father God, help me to be a man who leads my family according to Your will and Your ways. May Your Holy Spirit continue to guide me and direct me in those ways. Help me to be that man who walks by faith not by sight. I know that even though things may look tough and there may be rough roads ahead, may You give me the discipline to ultimately trust in You, Your faithfulness , and Your goodness. May I seek Your purpose for me through it all Lord. In Your Holy name I pray, Amen.
 
-Moses Gaddi
‬‬


Psalm__51

Merry Christmas everyone!

Scripture

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

Psalm 51:17 NIV

Observation-What does it say?

Psalm 51 is a very powerful one, as King David wrote it after being confronted by the prophet Nathan for committing adultery with Bathsheba. Please read 2 Samuel 12:1-13 for the full exchange between those two men. It basically led to David being convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent and Nathan assuring David that his sin has been put away. He will not die.

Understanding-What does it mean?

Do our mistakes lead us to Godly sorrow or worldly sorrow?

Godly sorrow leads us to repentance, true inward change of the heart. Worldly sorrow is sorrow that doesn’t lead to inward heart change because it is a momentary sorrow. It is typically a result of getting caught and not wanting to deal with the consequences of our sin. 

King David’s Psalm demonstrates true godly sorrow and repentance from his heart. Also, the consequences of his sin led to him to draw closer to the Lord, not further away. 

Life Application

Repent and be healed! Move on!  Go and sin no more, just like Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11)

As Bible.org states, “The tragic death of David’s son is a consequence of David’s sin, but it is NOT the penalty David deserves for his sin.”

There are consequences to sin. David and Bathsheba suffered the consequence of their sin, which was that they lost their son conceived as a result of their affair. However, King David’s response to that was quite humble. (Please see 2 Samuel 12:14-21).

Too many of us, after suffering the consequences of our sin, don’t move on. Consequences are meant to teach us, just like a parent who disciplines their child. However, it should train us to be stronger and better, not continue in the same unhealthy sinful cycle. David had his son by Bathsheba taken away as a consequence of his sin. Did he keep mourning after that? No. He moved on. 

Jesus came, died and resurrected to set us free to the guilt of our past. This Christmas and beyond, let’s truly live that out! The enemy no longer has a hold on us and his lies no longer have to keep us in bondage. We are conquerors because of Jesus, who is the reason why we celebrate today! 

Thank You Jesus for You, the most precious gift we could ever ask for. Amen! 

-Michelle Gaddi



1 Peter 5

Scripture

1 Peter 5:5-7
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,

“God opposes the proud
    
but shows favor to the humble.”[a]

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Observation 

Peter is writing to the elders – how to behave themselves towards their “flock” – and then to the “flock” – to be obedient and humble, and to cast their care upon God.
 
Understanding

In a world that tends to focus on the best selfie, the best social media image, spending time focused through a camera lens…or, perhaps more correctly, a phone screen – humility is counter cultural.  But the message of the double-digit years (1 Peter is thought to be written between 64-68 AD) is just as applicable today. 

Yet, what we often to do is take credit for our successes yet call out to God when things don’t go to plan…which, verse 7 actually tells us to do – cast our anxiety, our worries, our concerns on to Him. 

Life Application

May it not be only when we are anxiety ridden that we humble ourselves; but, instead, may we eat, breathe, live, rest in our humility…recognizing God as the source for…well, everything.

STAY HUMBLE. <3

Rei

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



I Peter 4

Scripture
 
1Peter 4:12-13 
 
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
 
Observation-What does it say?
 
Peter, the rock, was the author of this letter, which was distributed to groups of churches in what is now Turkey.  He was likely in Rome while he penned this letter while he was on a preaching trip.  It was most likely written during the reign of Nero.  The “fiery ordeal” which he was talking about is most likely a direct reference to the organized persecution of Christians under Nero’s rule.  During this persecution, Christians were regularly tortured in various ways.  One of the most horrific displays of this came through using Christians as street lights.  They would be tied to stakes and burned alive to provide light during the night time hours.  Amidst this, Peter encouraged fellow Christians to embrace the suffering we received with joy in glory it would bring God.
 
Understanding-What does it mean?                                                                                              
 
I hate to work out with weights.  There is nothing more loathsome in my opinion than standing in a room, repeatedly picking up something and putting it down again.  It is so, so, so, so, so boring.  Not to mention, it hurts and makes me sore.  Why people pay for a membership to go stand in a room with other stinky people and pick up things is beyond me.  But, I guess it may offer some type of motivation to not suffer this boredom by yourself.  

No matter how badly I hate this dumb ritual, I regularly find myself in my little garage gym, picking things up and putting them down again.  I do it because I have reconciled the fact that it is good for me to suffer in this way.  Suffering, in the form of exercise is nothing new to me.  I have long enjoyed the suffering of long distance running and cycling.  Knowing that each step, or pedal stroke, over a long haul makes me better and strengthens my heart, legs, lungs, and my mind.  My military friends refer to the willingness to accept impending doom as “Embracing the Suck.”

Throughout the first letter of Peter, he encourages us to embrace suffering with open arms.  In contrast to suffering for a better body, suffering for the sake of Christ yields an eternal reward.  The results of exercise are fleeting, especially when the Christmas baked goods enter the scene every December.  But suffering in the name of Christ always yields the everlasting glory.  So while we may never be burned for our belief in Christ, we may suffer in other ways.  We may be looked at as crazy, or silly, for believing in the message of the cross.  Which, in a world  overwhelmed with the need of acceptance, can be a weight that seems too much to bare.  

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the [b]author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 
Life Application  
 
Jesus, help me to never take my eyes off you.  Despite the suffering that we may encounter, give me strength to endure until the day I see you.  Help me to look past the things of this world, which can be so enticing, to see what I truly desire, which is to be complete in you. 

-Tyler Galloway



Psalm_48

Scripture

Psalm 48:1

Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,

Observation – What does it say?
The sons of Korah wrote this Psalm, this song, declaring God’s worthiness of praise, specifically for his protection of Jerusalem from their enemies.
Understanding – What does it mean?
God is worthy of our praise.
 
I find that if I’m not careful, it’s so easy to take all God’s blessings for granted. I wonder how many times God blesses us or answers our prayers and we find ourselves in the company of the 9 lepers.
 
Ten men with leprosy cried out to Jesus for help. Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests and, as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them noticed and came back to Jesus, praising God. Jesus responded…
 
Luke 17:17 “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”
 
God expects our praise. It’s what he deserves. For the way he always provides for all our needs, for the way he protects us and has blessed us to live in a time of peace, for the warm shower and the soft pillow, for salvation and his continual demonstrations of love for us, his forgiveness and continual presence with us, for hearing our prayers and giving us purpose, etc.
 
How often do I gloss over yesterday’s blessing to bring today’s request? God forgive me!
 
Life Application
Praise him! Come to him first with praise and thanksgiving, before presenting my requests.
 
I want to be obsessed with God, consumed with him and not just his gifts, in love with him and continually overflowing with praise. I may be the needy child, but I don’t want to be the needy, ungrateful child.
 
– Levi Thompson


Judges_17

Scripture

Judges 17:6

“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

Observation-What does it say?

Israel has fallen away from God’s ways once again. They had no godly king or judge ruling over them. They should have turned to God, and proclaimed Him as their king. Instead, they let other people’s outside influences once again determine how they would act. They began creating idols and worshipping false gods. Ultimately the people “played God” and did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. 

Understanding-What does it mean?

We must put God on the throne as King of our lives in order to truly see what is right in this world.

Micah and the people of Israel are really acting no different than the people of this world today. They were surrounded by a society and world that tried to justify their sinful actions. They were more concerned with PLAYING CHURCH, rather than BEING THE CHURCH. Then to top it off, the people basically took the attitude of, “if it feels right, it must be right.” That is a very dangerous approach to take. They were putting themselves on the throne of judgement, determining what was right and wrong. By doing this, they were repeating the history of what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and letting themselves be deceived by the enemy.

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:5-7 NIV

Life Application

So who is truly sitting on the throne of my life? 

If God sits on the throne of my life, does He have total authority to tell me what to say or do? Or do I try to fight Him over control, and only allow Him authority over me when it is convenient to me?

It kind of reminds me of the old bumper sticker I see from time to time that reads “GOD IS MY CO-PILOT”.  Now I’m sure the people who made this bumper sticker had their hearts in the right places when coming up with that saying, but it just still isn’t quite right if we plan on putting God on the throne of our lives. It still portrays a picture that it is us in the driver’s seat, going where we want to go and doing what we want to do, and if the road gets a little too bumpy, we have God on our side, who can steer us back on track. Now what the bumper sticker should read is “GOD IS MY PILOT, AND I AM HIS CO-PILOT”. Now this paints a more accurate picture of what a life should look like if God is truly on the throne of our lives. It is God who is driving, He is the one who has total control of our destination and how long or fast it takes to get there. We are there alongside Him, to listen to Him, submit to His instructions , learn from Him, and follow His lead along this journey. If we can manage to do that, we are ensured to reach our “final destination” and enjoy being in paradise with the One who loved us enough to lead us through all of life’s long, twisty, bumpy, and treacherous roads. 

-Moses Gaddi



Psalm__46

Scripture

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble….God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day…..The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress….He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:1, 5, 7, 10-11 NIV

Observation-What does it say?

Most of the Psalms were written by King David, but there are different scholarly ideas about who wrote this one, Psalm 46. Regardless of the author, this Psalmist recognizes where his hope lies and wrote this song to encourage his audience to do the same. He describes His relationship with the Lord as one of refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble, as the One who keeps him standing firm, not able to fall. God is always with him/us and He is where we find true rest.  

Understanding– What does it mean?

A wise man (or woman) builds his house upon the rock.

When our foundation is built on Jesus Christ, we will stand firm even through life’s ups and downs.

““Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” Luke 6:46-48 NIV

Life Application

Put our hope on the One true Rock, Jesus Christ. 

“…and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4 NIV

I love the hymn, “ My hope is built on nothing less.” 

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name….On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Through all of the hustle and bustle of the season, let’s rest in the true Reason we celebrate, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior and King!

-Michelle Gaddi

 
 


James_5

Scripture

James 5:13-16 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Observation James 5 begins with a warning to the rich – those who had hoarded wealth and oppressed those who worked for them.  Then it speaks to perseverance – being patient in suffering.  Then it turns to the power of prayer! <3

Understanding
 
It’s always a good time to pray.  Troubled?  Pray. Happy?  Pray. [Praise.] Sick?  Pray. But, while God is all powerful and can work through ANYone, he calls us to be righteous and filled with faith as we pray. 
 
Life Application
 
I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to be a part of unanswered prayer – out of praying with weak or ineffective prayers, an unrighteous heart or lack of faith.  And it starts with the heart…
Matthew 12:34b
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Proverbs 4:23
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.
Luke 6:45
The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
So, may we protect our hearts, watch our words and pray with faith…and may those prayers go forth with power! To check out the discussion or to join in click here.
 
Rei