Perfect!

The pressure is real. Marketers present images of perfect bodies, perfect homes, and perfect families. Our social media feeds give us a constant stream of our friends' cute kids, picture perfect vacations, and heart-warming moments with loved ones. And just a few quick errands on Saturday afternoon can lead you to compare your car with others in the grocery parking lot; your children's behavior with those of the apparently perfect family in the next aisle; and your day-off, comfy clothes with those of every other person your age. The world seems perfect, and we generally seem so not perfect. But it's OK. God didn't create us to be perfect. He didn't make us to be perfect partners or spouses, parents or friends, moms or dads. We were created in love, for love, and to love by a perfect and loving God. And even on our most imperfect days, that's enough. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZDVFSiYZgU

Fork in the Road

On every great adventure there comes at least one moment of decision… Do we go left or right? Is the trail ahead safe or do we go back? Maybe the treasure will never be found... do we keep looking or give up and save our resources for another day? Discerning next steps can be as treacherous as the adventure itself. Scripture admonishes us to both carefully consider and count the cost before striking out on some new venture (Luke 14:28-30), and to not look back once we have set out (Luke 9:62). When we don’t have certainty about where we are going, we can at least find clarity about where we are. And where we are is with God. When we don’t know what’s next, God does. And we can be abundantly certain that God goes before us, God goes with us, and God will bring us safely into God’s future. Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBEvUBUeMMY

Winning or Learning

On any given adventure, we might have some fun; it’s certainly going to be exciting; and it will likely be scary at moments. But always, we will have the opportunity to explore new things, try something unfamiliar, and discover various ways of doing things. Whether we are exploring a part of town new to us or blazing a new trail through an unexplored part of a jungle, opportunities abound for experimenting and learning when we are on an adventure. True adventurers love this part of the adventure - striking out into the unknown to see what new things await. Some are less enthusiastic about new things and new ways of doing things. But the good news is that when you adventure, explore, and experiment with God as your guide, there’s really no risk - only learning, growing, and blessing! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggkzgUW_MEo

Overcoming

You are not truly on an adventure if you don’t encounter unexpected obstacles and challenges that you didn’t anticipate. Some of us try to compensate for the uncertainty by packing carefully - and generously. Some of us try to train our way to being ready. God has a much easier - lighter - plan. Just stay close to God. God has everything we need to overcome whatever gets in our way as we journey and adventure with God! Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4GXcBfNjW4

Popular advice to someone hesitating about making a big life change is, “If you wait until you’re ready, you’ll never… have children, change careers, move across the country, tackle that larger-than-life dream.” Opportunity doesn’t always allow us time to prepare, but even with time, some of us are slow to move. The future is always unknown, uncertain, and a little scary. But staying right where we are today isn’t an option either. Time moves on and life moves forward, whether we like it or not. And life with God is especially mobile and unpredictable. But that’s how God has it planned. More than feeling prepared and confident about the places God is leading us, God wants us to trust and follow. Rather than taking the time to get set in the blocks and anticipate the starter's call, God invites us to just ‘Go!” and then worry about getting ready and set. And with God, that’s all we need to do. Go! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXhR3PHI2Ic

Easter Sunday:

Easter Sunday It’s been a long year... In addition to a global pandemic that has spanned the entirety of the last 12 months +, we’ve struggled through a long season of social unrest and we’ve endured an especially contentious election cycle. Add to that the personal challenges, which for some of us, have been many - job loss, financial hardship, illness, death, moves, loneliness and isolation, profound uncertainty, and more. We find ourselves at yet another Easter, wanting to celebrate and believe what we say today, but is new life really possible? Does Easter really matter? Can it really make a difference... and make a difference for me? Everything changed on that first Easter morning. Everything changed for the women who discovered the empty tomb, for Jesus’ followers, for the world - - and for you. Can you see it? Will you see it? The women returned to the tomb to continue grieving and to anoint the dead body of Jesus. They found the stone rolled away from the entrance of the tomb and they searched inside for the body. But instead of the dead remains of the previous days, they received encouragement to look elsewhere. They would not find what they needed - and what this day promised - among the dead, in the past. Neither will we find what we need by sifting through yesterday’s remains. It’s a new day, and it’s time for us to seek a new life among the living. Today we choose to look towards a new tomorrow - today we choose the Living Jesus. Happy Easter! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU8j2WyIN2A&t=1s

On Our Knees

TODAY'S WORSHIP EXPERIENCE: Love Like Jesus: On Our Knees Have you noticed, except for the most bitter cold days here in the Midwest, most of us don't wear coats anymore? On any given day in February, we move from our climate-controlled homes to our heated garages to get in our warm cars. We drive to work or school or the store, park close, and dash inside to take care of business in a comfortable setting. On the way home, we pick up dinner or the cleaning at the drive-thru and arrive back in our warm garages without having suffered more than a very few moments of the uncomfortable cold. We highly value our comfort and go to great lengths to maintain it. Jesus, on the other hand, doesn't seem the least bit concerned with his comfort - or ours. Jesus is much more concerned that everyone always knows that they are loved, welcomed, and wanted in the family of God. As we love like Jesus we will find ourselves in uncomfortable situations with uncomfortable people. But be encouraged, Jesus shows us just how to loving there, too! Click the link: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgxwLtGlccpjCRzJlSZfXcscjwxvb?projector=1

With Intention

Our lives are full - and our days and weeks even more so. Most of us are overscheduled, overcommitted, and overly distracted. Jesus led a full life, too. He came to "bring good news to the poor... proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19). That's quite a "to do" list! But Jesus also made time in his day and room in his heart to love whoever happened across his path. Because of the margin Jesus built into his days and weeks, he met, loved, and served people who would otherwise have gone unnoticed and unloved. To Love Like Jesus is to pay attention, and to love with intention... even when we don't think we have the time! Worship link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgQKObsVge4

Don't Count the Cost

As a child or a teen, maybe you received wisdom from adults in your life such as... - “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” - “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you, too?” - “When you hang out in the wrong places with the wrong people, you will soon do the wrong thing.” Thoughtful advice, especially for young people developing friendships and learning how to navigate peer pressure and complex social settings. But as maturing followers of Jesus, Jesus invites us to consider such wisdom and relationships through the lens of love. Jesus often found himself with the marginalized and the outcast. And he often paid the price for such associations. Love always costs us something, but the good news is that we don't have to count the cost. Jesus has it covered. Worship Link: https://youtu.be/yreUZtxKf0c

Enemies Included

'Enemy' is a pretty strong word that many of us have relegated to the "not polite to use" category. We don't like to think that we have enemies. And maybe we don't have enemies in the sense of military opponents, but we are at odds with any number of people who have hurt us. We would love to just write these people off. It seems easier to let the hurt and animosity build a solid wall between us and them. And while carefully considered boundaries in one's life and relationships are healthy, we are still called to love - even and especially our 'enemies.' The good news is that we don't have to do this out of our own resources. Jesus provides the love we need to love even those who hurt us. Worship Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuc9uMfRlJE

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