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 Peter 5


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.


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.

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.



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

I Peter 4

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 48:1

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 17:6

“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



“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 5:13-16 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

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.


James 4:5  
Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
Observation-What does it say?  
The book of James, which is written by the brother of Jesus, covers a range of topics, most notably our faith in action.  In chapter four, he turns to a set of attitudes and behaviors which we should avoid: jealousy, covetousness, pride, etc..  In verse five, James reminds us of the amazing reality that the maker of the universe wants to be with us.  In a practical way, he shows how the materialism around us can deter us from being close to Him.
Understanding-What does it mean?  
I was sitting in the middle of the football field, with my eyes closed, thinking to myself, “I look really stupid.”  My cross-country coach had us sitting quietly thinking about racing, thinking about our breathing, thinking about crossing the finish line a winner, all while the football team and the cheerleaders were milling around us.  But my coach had a point, we couldn’t run to our full potential unless we had practiced it in our minds as well as in our bodies.  In fact, nowadays sports teams spend a lot of money on sports psychologists who help their players visualize being at the top of their game.  When you watch the olympics, you might catch a glimpse of an ice-skater standing on the side of the rink, flailing their arms around, visualizing their routine before it starts.

As Christians, one of our ultimate realities is we are going to spend eternity with Jesus.  I recently listened to a sermon by a pastor named Dave Lomas.  He was teaching on Revelation 4, and the picture of worship in heaven it gives us.  Lomas used this as a starting point to show that, since God wants to be the center of our hearts and that we will spend out eternity giving Him glory, our time spent worshiping on earth is an act of practice and visualization of eternity.  When we attend church on a Sunday morning, it is a practice of the corporate worship we will come to realize in heaven.

I find this to be the best way for me to rid myself of the distractions this world brings.  It is very hard for me to think about wanting a better paycheck or a bigger house, when I am surrounded by a group of God’s children who are immersed in singing of the greatness of God’s love.  Similarly to James, the author of Hebrews tells us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” by continuing to meet together (10:24-25).  In Ephesians 5, Paul writes of how we can be imitators of Christ, encouraging us to lift up one another by “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (5:18).”  

Life Application  
Jesus fill my heart with a joy, and fill my mouth with a song.  May my life be an act of worship to you, not only in my words but also in my actions.  Help me to encourage those around me to worship you as well.  Forgive me for the times where I am focused on the material things that will not bring me the satisfaction and fulfillment that you do.  
-Tyler Galloway



James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Observation – What does it say?
In his continuing instruction to believers everywhere, the brother of Jesus and now pastor of the church in Jerusalem, James, wants his audience to understand the marks of true wisdom. He makes a distinction between wisdom that is earthly, unspiritual and has demonic origin and the true wisdom that is from heaven.

Understanding – What does it mean?

True wisdom is displayed through a good life, good deeds and humility. Many people are said to be wise and understanding because of their eloquent speech, good arguments, and ability to win verbal debates. But according to scripture, none of those things are included as characteristics of the wise.

The wisdom that comes from heaven is displayed through a good life! From good deeds done with a humble heart. Consider Jesus, our wise and humble King. His wisdom, which had its origins in heaven, was displayed through a good life (which sounds like an understatement), filled with good deeds that required him to lay down his rights as God and humble himself before others.
One of my favorite quotes is, “One good deed is worth more than a thousand brilliant theories.” – Unknown 
Wisdom isn’t merely cerebral, it has everything to do with action and a humble heart. 

Life Application

Honestly evaluate my wisdom.

Am I living a life centered around being good to God and others?
Am I living a life of good deeds? And are my good deeds done with selfish motives or in humility?

Ask God for wisdom! James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

God, fill us with wisdom and understanding. May our lives be increasingly marked by good deeds and great humility. Help us take our eyes off of ourselves and to take genuine concern in the welfare of others. We need you. We recognize we have so much room to grow and learn. Bless us with your wisdom. Amen.
– Levi Thompson


James‬ ‭2:14‬
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
Observation-What does it say?
James is reminding believers to practice what they are preaching. James is encouraging believers to live consistently with what they have learned in Christ Jesus. James desires that all believers mature in their faith, by living a life that not only tells others about Christ’s love, but mainly shows others Christ’s love.
Understanding-What does it mean?
Actions speak louder than words.
“A person’s body that does not have a spirit is dead. It is the same with faith—faith that does nothing is dead!”-‭‭James‬ ‭2:26‬ ‭
What is the one word that people in this world use to describe Christians? Hypocrites. People think that we like to tell people how to live a more Godly life, but when it comes right down to it…we don’t even do it. We don’t even practice what we preach! And that is what James is imploring for all Christians to do. We have to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. I mean how can I say that God is number one in my life if I’m constantly putting work and recreational things over ministry and going to church? How can I say that I trust God in everything, if I don’t even trust Him enough with my finances to tithe and give back what is all His anyways? How can I call Him Lord of my life when I’m constantly saying no or not right now to the things He asks of me? Or how can I say that I love Jesus if I’m constantly doing things that I know displeases Him? We all have to honestly look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Does the way I live my life reflect Christ living inside of me?”
Life Application
They will know we are Christians by our love.
That chorus of that old school hymn is what I’m thinking of as I am writing this. But it couldn’t be more true. With our church challenging us this month to be “crazy generous”, how about doing something for someone with no strings attached. A simple act of kindness and love to let someone know that someone is thinking about them and that Jesus loves them. Let those around us know we are Christians by the way we act. Let them experience a glimpse of God’s love for them. May it bring them a new sense of hope and faith this Christmas season.
-Moses Gaddi



James 1:2-4-
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Observation-What does it say?

It is through suffering that our character and our faith is developed and strengthened. It is parallel to what Paul says in Romans‬ ‭5:3-4-

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Understanding-What does it mean?

We must thank God for the hard times too.

Without times of suffering, we don’t have an opportunity to exercise our faith. If things went well all the time, where would reliance and dependence on God come in? Why would we ever need to run to Him? The pressure and sufferings that we experience in life gives God an opportunity to teach us perseverance and what it means to not give up and put our hope completely on Jesus Christ.

Life Application

Push through seasons of suffering with the Holy Spirit’s help instead of running away or giving up.

Because suffering plays a huge part in how God molds us into the image of Christ, we should be thankful and push through those seasons with the Lord’s help. It is unwise to run away or throw in the towel doing these times of refining.

Dear Lord, our hope, our help, and our faith come from You alone. I pray that we would rejoice not only in the happy times, but in our sufferings as well. Although it is not fun to go through hardships, I pray that we would rejoice that our faith, character and perseverance in You is being strengthened in the process. Amen.

-Michelle Gaddi