GOING DEEPER

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He’s Not Weird.

He’s Not Weird.
 
Things that ARE weird:

Balloons are so weird… “Happy birthday, here’s a plastic sack of my breath.” –Bill Murray

Eyebrows– “Eyebrows are so weird when you think about it, they’re just lines of hair on your face.” -Anonymous

Clapping– “When you think about it clapping is so weird. ‘Oh, I like what is happening right now let me smash my hands together to express my delight’.” -Anonymous

Those are just a few examples of weird things, and I am sure we can come up with so many more!! Weird means to “induce a sense of disbelief or alienation in someone.”

The Holy Spirit. He’s NOT Weird.

In fact, based on the definition of making something weird, he is the opposite. He does not induce disbelief, instead he brings confidence. He does not alienate, he is close and eliminates feelings of isolation. He is not weird, he is God, and our gift to connect us to a creator that we cannot speak with or see.

The Holy Spirit convicts and comforts, affirms and denies. I see him as my mirror. As decisions are made, or thoughts are considered, he will reflect me to myself saying “How does that decision look to you?”, or “How does that feeling look on you?”. When I am insecure, he will hold up a mirror and say, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (

Psalm 139:14). When I am afraid, he will hold up a mirror and say, “You do not have a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)

He is our reflection of ourselves and of God simultaneously. He can show us what we look like in a moment by convicting us, and at the same time display the will of God to reassure us. He is our conscience, our confirmation, our teacher and most importantly our friend. He will never leave us alone, or ask us to try to decipher this life’s ups and downs without aid.

If we ask him to, he will be by our side through every single moment, forever.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” – John 14:26
 
Zarmena Woods

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Live Like It’s Sunday!

A Holy Nation

When pride in physical culture supersedes our love for all people…we have a problem” –Pastor Dan

 

Ephesians 2:19-22  – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

 

“I am Italian”. This would be my response to the question “What ethnicity are you?”. I have been raised and taught to be proud of this, to exemplify my heritage through the food I cook, flag I show, people I identify with, etc. Honestly, I would answer Italian before American. I hold such pride and status to this identity that it defines me. I NEED people to know I am Italian because for some reason that makes me think they will get me. Just by knowing one little fact about me, people can infer so much. The Truth I know is what I was raised to know by my family.

 

Until Sunday.

 

I wonder what would happen if someone asked us “What is your ethnicity?” and we answered “Christian”. Before identifying with Italian, or American, or Asian, or Russian, could we change our mindset to be identified by our royal family instead? Think about it. So much of who we are aligns with something other than God. How would people distinguish you? For me, people know I am an Eagles Fan, a Mom, Italian, a Personal Trainer, etc. I do not know that every person I encounter knows I represent the living Savior.

 

We are a part of a family, THE family. Being Christian is an identity, not a religion. We are a chosen generation by God. We can choose to be Catholic, Baptist, or any religion, but we are CHOSEN to be Christian, no matter what other identifier we decide to link to. The only choice needed is to decide to be a part of the regeneration (Re-Geneing) by believing in and claiming Christ as our Savior. Will we continue to choose to reject our identity by just showing up to church and being “good people”, or will choose to be “God people” and have our life reflect him.

 

We were chosen to tell the world the solution, the peace that exists, the time is now.

 

Galatians 3:28  – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
 
Zarmena Woods

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Follow Me: Make Disciples

Excerpts from Follow Me study:
 
Jesus transformed everything about the disciples’ lives: their thoughts, their desires, their wills, their relationships, and ultimately their very purpose for living. Not surprisingly, the Book of Matthew ends with Jesus’ command for His disciples to make more disciples – what we know as the Great Commission:
 
Jesus came to them and said, ” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:8-20
 
What are your initial reactions to Jesus’ words in these verses?
 
Do Jesus’ commands in these verses apply to you? Why or why not?
 
Considering Jesus’ call makes me wonder what we’re missing now. When I look at the church today, it seems that we’ve taken the costly command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations and mutated it into a comfortable call for people to come, be baptized, and sit in one location. Many Christians seem to have exempted themselves from any personal responsibility to fish for men, and I’m convinced the majority of Christians wouldn’t identify making disciples of all nations as their primary purpose in life.
 
What’s your reaction to the previous statements?
 
Is making disciples of all nations the primary goal for your life? What evidence supports your answer?
 

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Follow Me: A New Creation

Excerpt from Follow Me daily study:
 
If anyone understood the rigors and pressures of superficial religion, it was Nicodemus. Trained as a teacher of the law and a ruler among God’s people, Nicodemus was like many professing Christians today: he possessed a measure of belief in and respect for Jesus while ordering his life around the commands of Scripture. He prayed and went to worship. He read and taught the Bible. He lived a good, decent, moral life.
 
For Nicodemus, everything was right on the outside, but something was wrong on the inside. Despite all the religious stuff he did, he had no spiritual life; he was empty. Fortunately, he came to Jesus seeking that spiritual life.
 
Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus’s questions was puzzling at first. He said, ” I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). Jesus elaborated a couple verses later , saying, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (v. 5).
 
What images or ideas come to mind when you hear the phrase born again? Why?
 
That phrase “born of water and the Spirit” is key to understanding what Jesus was saying because it points back to an important passage from the Old Testament:
     I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:25-27
 
What images or phrases strike you as most interesting in these verses? Why?
 
How do these verses connect with Jesus’ words to Nicodemus?
 
What Ezekiel wrote about is exactly what Jesus came to do. He came to cleanse us of our sin through His sacrifice on the cross; to wash us with “clean water” (v. 25). And in doing so, He gives us something infinitely more valuable: a new heart. We’re born again! He gives us His Spirit to live in us and change us from the inside out. This is what it means to experience supernatural regeneration. 
 
That’s why Paul wrote these joyful, exuberant words in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
 
That’s also why the Bible teaches that faith alone is the only way to experience salvation from sin. Faith is the antiwork. It’s the realization that we can do nothing to help ourselves except trust in what Jesus has done for us through His life, death, and resurrection.
 
Have you experienced supernatural regeneration? How can you tell?

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Follow Me: Adopted by God

Excerpts from Follow Me study guides:
 
Think about Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John as they walked with Jesus along the Sea of Galilee. Do you think these men knew how their lives were going to change when they left their fishing businesses to follow Jesus?
 
In what ways has your life changed since you began following Jesus?
 
In which areas of your life do you most see the need for on-going change?
 
Are you willing for Jesus to change these areas? If so, tell Him right now.
 
Search the Scriptures:
 
Read Galatians 4:4-5 and Ephesians 1:5. What do these verses tell you about your relationship with God? Throughout Scripture, God uses the picture of adoption to describe His relationship with His people.
 
When did God begin the process of adopting you into His family?
 
Read Psalm 139:13

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Follow Me: Becoming a Follower of Jesus

Excerpts from Follow Me study:
 
Read Matthew 7:21:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.”
 
What did Jesus say about the people who would enter Heaven?
 
What does it mean to do the will of the Father?

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Follow Me: Becoming a Follower of Jesus

Follow Me study excerpts:

Read the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus recorded in John 3:1-21

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a religious ruler of the Jews. He was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling group, who helped people understand the Hebrew Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament).

What did Nicodemus ask Jesus?

How Did Jesus respond?

What Does it mean to be “born again”?

Nicodemus knew the religious world. However, he noticed something different about Jesus. He wanted to know what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.

Why are you interested in becoming a follower of Jesus?


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Come as You Are Because Everyone Belongs!

May He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May He produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” –Hebrews 13:21

Since this blog is dedicated to finding ways to apply Sundays message to our lives Monday through Saturday, it is essential that we are realistic and transparent about who we are when we are not surrounded by other believers, worshipping and learning about God. I often say I would love nothing more than to live in my church bubble AT ALL TIMES because on Sundays I feel the presence of God so strongly, I feel accepted, I feel loved, I feel whole and holy. As appealing as this sounds it is not covering the full spectrum of our duties as believers. Yes, we need to be at church to learn and grow, but if we stop there we miss the true calling which is to love others as we know we are loved, and teach them what we know. My question for all of us is this- Do people feel like they can come as they are into our presence? If we are talking about Monday- Saturday living we are talking about coworkers, family, fellow shoppers, drive through workers, and all people we may cross paths with during the many tasks of the week. Is it possible we have been praying for a coworker, but not showing them kindness, or making them feel judged? Do we exemplify His love by making everyone feel they belong, that we will listen, that we accept them no matter what their baggage, because we have ours and are not afraid to be vulnerable and share? Although we cannot be salvation for anyone, our intimidation can be the thing pushing them further from Jesus. There is so much misconception about church and being a Christian that we must be the change for the world to see in our day to day, mundane, regular moments. We need to prove we really do want people to come as they are because that is what God wants, and yet sometimes we are scaring people off by acting as if we have forgotten who we were before Jesus. We cannot forget what transformation our spirit has gone through and in turn make people feel like we are so far from where they are, because the truth is we aren’t. We need to “keep it real and fight against fake” so that the fear of God isn’t determined by a “readiness to come to Him” factor, instead we want the fear of God to be because of His greatness and that we do not have to achieve readiness at all. We want to fear His almighty power, not His presence. Before people can stop fearing, or measuring up, or working their way to church, they need to witness a source that portrays what church and God really stand for. Can we be the picture of God’s immediate mercy and love by saying “Come as you are” into our offices, homes, checkout lines, etc.? The Word of God says,

“There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy for others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”-James 2:13

. Being obedient to this cause will not only transform others, but will transform us even more into His image. Remember, you are enough to show people Jesus!
 
“Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:10
 
 
Zarmena Woods

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Live Like Its Sunday!

On Sunday at Triad Church we began a series called “CORE” where we learned our church’s Mission, Vision and 1 of 12 Core Values. As a church, we want people to come as they are, live connected, be transformed and CHANGE THE WORLD. Our first Core Value, which will make all other values and vision possible, is having Jesus first in all we do. We will trust his word, follow his lead, and honor him. So how can we do this every day, in every situation and live keeping Jesus first? 

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth…”Ephesians 6:14

The core of anything is the foundation and inner strength of it. Think of the makeup of an apple, a tree, a car, our body.  If the core is weak all other functions revolving around its power will fatigue and eventually give in to the heaviness of the outside force being placed against it. At the very core of our beliefs is Jesus. Ephesians prompts us to wear the belt of truth, which proves the importance of a strong core. A belt gives support to the core and holds the weight of clothing up. Belts are worn by workers who lift large, heavy items, and by weightlifters who carry and move substantial loads as well. We cannot safeguard our everyday living assuming Jesus is first, without aligning with the truth, the Word of God. If we wear the belt of truth and support our core by associating all decisions and actions with His Word, we can live a life where Jesus is in fact first.

A few scenarios where it seems difficult to keep Jesus at the core of our life are our jobs, our home and family, social media, health, etc. At work, do we seek attention, praise, and promotions, or, using His truth, are we thankful and humble that we have a job at all? In our home and with our family do we love one another as Jesus loves us, or do we criticize, ignore, become angry, and constantly seek to meet the world’s standards of our house size, location and status? Do we measure our posts on social media against biblical standards, or do we take our belt of truth off and judge, compare and comment without thought? Are we exercising to be healthy and treat our body as a temple and a blessing to be used to share the truth, or are we truly vain and building our self-esteem by receiving attention based on our appearance, all while knowing our father thinks we are perfect?  

I personally struggle to keep on my belt of truth, supporting my core beliefs in all the areas above and many more. The struggle in inevitable, but the practice of putting that belt on every morning is a reality we can all achieve. 
 
Zarmena Woods

 

 


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Relationships that Reflect God

Loving, patient, kind, faithful, humble, fair, forgiving, dependable, attentive, thoughtful, and discreet; these are characteristics of the relationship we get to share with Jesus, and are all descriptors we work to be known for. I admire Jesus and his ability to maintain these attributes with each and every one of us. If you are like me it is hard enough to have these things going on at once in one relationship, let alone all of them. I do believe that we get very close, if we work at it, to achieving a few relationships on earth that reflect the love of God to the world- Parent/Child, Husband/Wife, and Family of God joined by Faith in Jesus.

As a parent, we get to see what loving something more than yourself is all about. In this truly unconditional, forgiving, sacrificial love we can show God to those around us watching.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”-Psalm 127:3

The decision to get married is a tougher one to settle on in our society. We live in a culture where there always seems to be better options, nicer things, and higher status. It is for this reason marriage is so hard to completely commit to and be all the things Jesus is to us to each other. BUT if we get it right, and we can show the world the true love of a husband and wife through Jesus, we can alter the mentality of those around us.

“A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”-Prov. 31:10&11

We were not meant to go through life alone. One of the most important reflective relationships is the Church made up of those untied by faith in Jesus. There are many skewed views of religion. I pray that we will be a church that will squash those thoughts into tiny pieces of beliefs that could never be put back together and will stop deterring people from the Lord. We have such an opportunity as His body to show the world something they would never see on their own.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”-Romans 8:16-17

I absolutely love relationships and interactions with people, hearing stories, laughing and crying, empathizing with, and getting fired up about what Jesus is doing or can do in their lives. We have a duty as believers to accurately depict what an association with God looks like through our own day to day interactions in the above relationships, and even those less intimate, but equally important connections.

Zarmena Woods

 


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