Blog Archive

 

THE SWEETEST BLESSING OF SERVING

This past Sunday, I preached on my favorite subject…serving! With so many perspectives and angles to communicate this life-altering way of living, I landed on the greatest example, Jesus Christ, himself.  

He became our WHY–our mission.

He showed us the HOW–our strategy.

And that left the WHO–our people.

In the time Jesus was on earth, there were no social media platforms or networking events to find your or tribe of people to connect with and serve. Jesus took lots of walks, had face-to-face conversations, and invited twelve unique and imperfect men who said “yes” to following Jesus with their whole life.

He didn’t stop there. He intentionally cultivated relationships of mentorship and fellowship that were centered around God’s will. Jesus knew that serving was an adventure best accomplished in the midst of a variety of personalities and temperaments but that always pointed to God’s incredible plan for their lives.

In the messy moments, He served them.

In the betrayal moments, He served them.

In the miraculous moments, He served them.

His serving had no boundaries and knew no limits because it was His constant act of love for His Father.  And He poured that out onto his disciples and they, in turn, poured it out on others.

Love has a name: It’s Jesus.

Love also has a way: It’s serving.

When people struggle with the act of serving, it’s usually because they wrestle with Jesus’ final act of love accomplished on the cross. But when Jesus becomes our “WHY”, then the world becomes our “WHO”!

John 13:18 – “…I know so well each one of you I chose.”

Jesus said these words to his disciples immediately following the act of washing their feet (illustrative for serving). They were His WHO. These were the people He knew so well and chose to serve.

Isn’t it powerful to know that even in his commands, Jesus still gives us the power to choose? To choose Him, to choose to serve, and choose who you serve?

Who are you serving? Have you chosen your people yet; your tribe, your gang, your group, your team, your community, your church, your home and your spiritual family?

Most Christians who choose a personal relationship with Jesus will often choose to sacrifice time, talent, or their treasure to serve the vision or mission of his people through the local church. The part they often forget is that the sweetest blessing of serving others is that the people you serve become your people.

Yes, you may just stand at a door and greet people. You might even open your home to host a group. But when life gets demanding or the world gets discouraging, what we find is that our choice to serve becomes a powerful blessing in the form of our community.

Jesus understood that God has sent him to serve and He obeyed that call.  In turn, the Father blessed him with a community of disciples who loved him well and followed Him beyond His death on the cross.

You’ve discovered your WHO: Jesus

You’ve said yes to the HOW: serving

Now, it’s time to embrace your WHO: your community.

Welcome home.

Jessica Huffman

Pastor, Servant, Friend

1/25/18

True Fasting is Feasting on God’s Presence

When I was asked to write a blog about fasting, I was excited! Fasting has been such a powerful tool in my walk with the Lord. So many spiritual breakthroughs and revelations have come during, or on the heels of, a fast. It was during a fast that I was able to watch God bring salvation to someone that I believed was unreachable. It has been during fasts that God has revealed plans to send me on mission trips. I could go on and on. Fasting is truly a gift from God!

Side note: As you prepare for a fast, I encourage you to set high expectations for what God will do! Get your hopes up! It is not presumptuous or blasphemous to expect that God will do the things that He promised to do!

As powerful as fasting has been in my life, it is still a challenge every time that I start a new fast. Even though I know that God is going to do incredible things for me spiritually, my flesh still fights to hold on to those things that God has asked me to set aside. If you have ever fasted before, you know what I mean. It never fails that whatever you’ve decided to fast from will tempt you most as you go through the process.

Pastor Jason said something in his recent message about fasting that was so powerful. He said, “True fasting is feasting on God’s presence.” What a powerful paradigm shift when it comes to fasting! It’s amazing how this mindset empowers us to resist temptation while helping us keep the focus on our fast. When we see fasting as an opportunity to feast on the presence of God, we no longer focus on what we are giving up. Instead, we focus on everything we have to gain. Instead of wondering how we are going to overcome the hunger, we can get excited that we will have the opportunity to know what it is like for God to supernaturally satisfy our hunger. Instead of gritting our teeth as we fight not to log on to Facebook, we can excitedly rush into prayer with an expectation that God’s presence is waiting for us.

This concept may sound basic, but if we can fully grasp it, it is life changing. What if every time that God asked us to give something up, we became excited rather than nervous; if our initial response to the Lord was excitement and joy? What if our focus was the feast instead of the fast? It wouldn’t just change our lives for a season of fasting, but permanently.

Some might read that and say, “That sounds good, but it’s not realistic.” Biblically, I would beg to differ. The Bible does not only tell us to obey God’s commands but to love them.

“Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold” (Psalm 119:127 NIV)

“For I delight in your commands because I love them” (Psalm 119: 47)

“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 NIV)

Jesus came to set us free from everything that binds us, and so that we would live the fully abundant life we were created for. That abundant life of freedom is wrapped up in loving God’s commands and obeying them as He speaks them through the Bible and the Holy Spirit in us.

So as we get prepared to begin this fast as a church family, let’s enter it with excitement and expectation. In fact, we are not even fasting. We are just setting aside time to feast on God’s presence. We are going to overindulge in His goodness. We are going to be absolutely stuffed and overflowing with His supernatural gifts. We are not begrudgingly getting ready for a fast. We are excitedly preparing for a feast!

Brian Maisch

1/18/18

Getting Back to the Basics

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”

Psalm 51:7

My family has made a long-standing tradition of deep cleaning as we transition from one year to the next. Not just in the literal sense but also in the figurative one. Based on what I see and hear on social media and in talking to others, I don’t think we’re alone.

We all like fresh starts, don’t we?

New resolutions, new goals, clean spaces to start again; as humans we often crave the opportunity to get back to basics and start over. The same is true spiritually. We have to detox on occasion. It is healthy and good for us to take inventory of what we are consuming and realign ourselves with the heart of God. Life is so busy and the world so noisy that even in Christian circles we can become distracted and even stagnant.

The Psalms tell us that King David used hyssop to purify & detox himself. He understood that taking time to detox (spiritually, physically, emotionally) was a beneficial act and gave him an opportunity to start fresh.

When we catch ourselves just going through the motions of religious behavior, it’s a good idea to stop and clean house–to go through a spiritual detox and get back to the basics. But what are those basics and how do they help us clean out the old and make space for all of the new that God wants to give us?

1. Detox. The word itself is a verb meaning to purge toxins and impurities from the body. It’s active and intentional. Practically, this can mean turning things off or getting rid of influences that take your attention away from your goal. If, as believers, our goal is to have an intimate relationship with God, then detoxing means removing anything that gets in the way. For some, this might be as simple as dietary changes or turning off the T.V., and for others, it might mean putting an end to unhealthy relationships or chemical influences. Start by asking yourself what influences create a barrier between you and God and go from there.

2. Fasting. It is part of the detox process but is also about so much more. It’s easy to think that fasting is strictly about abstaining from food, drink, or other tangible items but it’s really about so much more. It’s about pressing in and relying on God for sustenance. It is a temporary act with eternal benefits.

3. Studying the Word. This seems self-explanatory but is key to setting the foundation for a thriving and abundant life. The Bible tells us that all wisdom and truth comes from the very heart and mouth of God (see Proverbs 2:6-11). From the Word, we learn everything we need to know about God, ourselves, how to live well and love the world the way Jesus did.

4. Prayer. Healthy and lifelong relationships between humans cannot exist without intimate connection and conversation.  The same is true in our relationship with God. We cannot expect to know someone if we never talk to or spend time with them. Prayer is our method of conversation with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

5. Worship. Psalm 29:1-2 instructs us to give honor to God for His goodness, holiness, and glory. Worship isn’t limited to singing praise on Sundays. It’s also about serving others on His behalf, giving of our physical resources, and committing our time to the purpose of reaching others for Him. It is using our lives to show extravagant respect and love for the one who loved us enough to die for us.

These are the basics of the Christian life. They require our time and attention but are not complicated or heavy burdens. All in all, they are really about love; our love for our Creator, Savior, Father, and Friend.

When we participate in the process of spiritual detox and fill ourselves back up with the goodness of His presence, we quickly discover that we are much healthier and more productive and impactful in every area of our lives.

Brandi Cortés-Hickson
1/11/17

Where our treasure is

I love this time of year-not necessarily the insanity of the retail rush, but the quiet moments. There is a unique version of joy that I find when I’m alone with the glow of Christmas lights from my tree after everyone has gone to bed. I can’t even count the number of hours I’ve stood and looked at the handmade ornaments we’ve collected over the years from our four kids. The memories and moments they represent have been carefully collected and tucked away in my heart and mind. They are more valuable than gold to me.

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I can’t help think about that very first Christmas. As a mother, I gravitate to the simplicity of Luke 2:19 and the mindset of Mary. It is a verse that often gets overlooked in all the drama of the immaculate conception, angel visits, spaceless inn,  and exotic visitors and gifts. We pay a lot of attention to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh but sometimes miss the real treasure that Mary saw in all of it.

Love. Grace. Mercy. Hope.

Even the expensive gifts brought by the wise men had a deeper meaning to them. The gold represented the kingship of Jesus. The frankincense, his place as our High Priest. And the myrrh signified the inevitable sacrifice that would set His people free.

Mary knew that there was something more eternally significant than this single moment and she wasn’t about to miss it. So she treasured it all up and thought about it (the words, the promise, the miracle) again and again until they changed the way she saw the world around her.

Much later, Jesus would teach us that our hearts abide where we store our treasure (Luke 12:34). That which we value always guides us. I can’t help but wonder if maybe that was a life lesson he learned from his mother and confirmed as truth through his relationship with God the Father.

As we countdown the days to Christmas, that is my prayer for each of us; that we remember that the real treasure of this season is not in the environment or the visitors or the gifts, but is the love shared between us, the hope set before us and the grace dwelling within us. And that we store it all up and dwell on it the way Mary did so that we can walk out our own divine purpose in this world.

Brandi Cortés-Hickson

12/21/17

 

Abiding in thankfulness

I want you to imagine this scenario: 5000 people have followed you to a remote place to hear you speak simply because they believe that you have the words of eternal life. After you have been speaking to them a while you realize that these people have not eaten for a long time. They must be hungry, and you need to feed them. As your team tries to round up some food for the people, they find a little boy who offers up 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to share. You look out at the crowd of 5000 and then look back at the minuscule portion of food that might feed 10 of them. Now, in that moment, are you feeling thankful? Personally, I would probably be thinking, “Are you kidding me!? 5 loaves and 2 fish for this many people. Thanks, kid, but I hope you have about 4995 more of each or we are in trouble!”

In John 6, Jesus was faced with this exact scenario. While His disciples were responding exactly like I would have responded, Jesus’ first response was thankfulness.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish” (John 6: 11).

You may already know how the story ends. Every one of the 5000 people eats as much as they want, and Jesus’ disciples collect 12 baskets full of leftovers! This awesome miracle started with a heart of thankfulness!

Now, rather than end this with a call for all of us to be more thankful for what we have, I want to offer a new perspective. I am going to assume that we all know that we should be more thankful. However, why was Jesus actually able to be thankful in moments where most of us would have felt like we were completely lacking? I would argue that the answer is His eternal perspective. Jesus is able to model thankfulness in every situation because had complete faith in the following:

  1. God’s Nature (i.e. He knew that God was good always)
    • Jesus wouldn’t even allow the thought to cross His mind that God did not want to provide food for these people. We learn later in this chapter that the people’s motives were not right. In verse 26, Jesus tells the people that they are only following Him because He has filled their stomachs, not because they were sincerely seeking to be His disciples. Yet, Jesus still believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that His Father is good, and wants to feed them.
  1. The Endless Resources of Heaven
    • Jesus saw through supernatural eyes, not natural ones. All the disciples could see were 5 loaves and 2 fish. What Jesus saw was an endless buffet of food that could feed the world and would never run out. It takes a lot of effort to be thankful for 5 loaves and 2 fish. It’s rather effortless to be thankful when you see an endless supply of food just waiting to be distributed.
  1. His Identity as God’s Son
    • He never doubted for a second if God could, or wanted to, use Him in the situation. He didn’t have to question whether or not He was worthy. He knew that He was a conduit for God’s blessings to the world.

Jesus’ heart of thankfulness was not cultivated through a long and strenuous road of learning to be more holy, moral and good. It didn’t come from a bunch of self-help books and blog posts entitled “Ten Ways to be More Thankful”. It came from the hard work of spending intimate time with His Father, learning His Father’s nature, learning how to hear His Father’s voice, and remaining obedient to His Father in every situation. Through that process Jesus showed us that God is good, God is not limited by a lack of resources, and God desperately wants to display His power through His Son. We have to choose whether or not to believe the same truths for ourselves.

With Thanksgiving Day upon us, the last thing I wanted to be was another voice screaming, “Just be more thankful!” We will be inundated with that all week. The real challenge is not to know that we need to be more thankful but to discover the secret of how to actually being thankful, even in situations when it makes no sense. The one and only answer to that mystery is Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection set us free, deposited a thankful heart within us, and gave us a heavenly perspective that can only illicit thankfulness. His life provided us a model for how to remain thankful. He showed us the secret, which is a deep connection and intimacy with our Heavenly Father that He made available to us. That relationship should be the most important focus of our thankfulness this week, and that will enable us to be truly thankful for whatever earthy situation we see in front of us.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Brian Maisch

11.21.17

“The power of worshipping in unity isn’t found in the number of people in attendance, it’s found in the number of people in agreement.” 

Pastor Jason Huffman-Pneuma Life Church

There was a time in my life when I stood in a vast crowd of church-goers and felt utterly isolated. Over the years, as I’ve spoken to one person after another about their own church experiences, I’ve discovered that I was not alone in the experience of feeling loneliness and sadness in the midst of significant numbers of people. Other times though, we can sit next to or across from just one or two people who are encouraging and open and feel surrounded by love, strength, and unity.

Why is that?

I believe that Pastor Jason summed it up in that single statement during this Sunday’s message.

We live in a time where quantity is often valued more than quality, and this includes our relationships. Facebook friends, Instagram followers and Twitter likes are counted and coveted like silver; still, the number of people who battle depression and loneliness are documented to be higher now than ever before.

Could it be that we undervalue the importance and power of standing in agreement with like-minded believers and making God the focus of our attention & intention?

The “church” wasn’t designed to only grow in size and stature as we accept the direction to go into all the earth: we were instructed to grow in strength. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, restoring the broken, and bringing life back to dead things–this is intimate, hands-on work. It is the kind of work that can bring exhaustion & discontentment if we are not willing to be unified with the heart of God through worship and the mindset of the Spirit in agreement with His Word. Our strength to perform Kingdom-sized miracles can only come from the King.

All predators instinctually know that if they can separate the small and weak from the herd, they can defeat their prey. Our enemy also practices this strategy. Divide and conquer. Create distraction and chaos and separate the struggling from the strong.

Oh, but when we stand in agreement with the Word of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit…when God’s people stand as one with those things, strong and unified, they begin to realize that “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6)

Brandi Cortés-Hickson

11/2/17

“As you come to Him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him, you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 2:4-5

This week’s sermon rested upon me like a warm blanket. As Pastor Jason shared this week’s message on “The One Who Worships,” I couldn’t help but remember a time when I experienced the meaning of pure adoration in worship.

My body was present in the sound booth, but my mind and heart transported to a moment over 38 years ago. I vividly recall what I was wearing, the scent of the air, the stage, the outside lights, and the heavy atmosphere. I was singing at a youth camp in front of over 200 teenagers; many encountering Jesus for the very first time and others surrendering to full-time ministry and missions work. During my first solo, singing “Jesus is the Cornerstone/Rock of Ages” I poured my heart out in worship to Jesus and it changed me.

That was the first time I experienced the pneuma (the breath/Spirit of God), and now, as I sit here at Pneuma Life Church, I continue to praise God for the full circle of my life and how these two seasons have collided. That evening, so many years ago, my heart filled with adoration, and my worship was like a sweet fragrance to God. I was never so thankful for my Savior’s love than in that precious time in my life.

Jesus is the chief cornerstone and our firm foundation. In Biblical times, the cornerstone set the foundation, a standard upon which a building was constructed. Once in place, the rest of the building would conform to the angles and size of the cornerstone; but if removed, the entire structure could collapse.

That is why we worship Him.

When we surrender to Jesus, we acknowledge that his ways are like cement that strengthen and stabilize our lives. Without Him, we are bound to collapse. In our everyday life, when we love, serve, or forgive others, we are living an outward display of worship. The steps we take, day after day, evolve into an eternal display of love.  Don’t ever doubt your daily steps of worship.

Worship is an overflow of our hearts and when we worship and grow in our faith, our adoration deepens. As we grow in relationship with Him, his ways overcome our lives, infiltrate our souls, and transforms our hearts!

Rita Stanford

10/27/17

 

Worship. For me, it is all about worship. And I don’t mean just the kind you get when you go to church. Now, don’t get me wrong. I grew up in church. If the doors were open, we were there and half of the time with my dad preaching. We had the green hymnals with “Amazing Grace” and “The Old Rugged Cross” (my personal favorite).My mom was often playing the piano or singing the solo. And if you had asked me when I was younger if that was worship, I would have said yes because I had no idea that there was more. Ask me the same question now, and my response is vastly different.

When I realized that I would get to write this post on worship, I got school girl happy; downright giddy. For me, worship is an all-day event. It’s in the choices we make every day, from how we wake up to how we respond to the car that cut us off on the interstate, to the choices we make in our meals. It all revolves around our relationship with Jesus. Do we give him the first of what we have or do we give him the leftover energy at the end of the day? When people meet us, do they ask what makes us different or do they hope never to have to deal with us again? All of this is worship. It is how we show Jesus to the world around us. It is how we honor Him. Honoring Him in our every day is worship.

To put it in a Biblical perspective, we have Cain and Abel. Unfortunately, Cain learned about honoring God the hard way. In Genesis 4:3-5, we have the story of two brothers – Cain and Abel. In that story, both brothers brought an offering to God. Abel’s offer was from the firsts of his flocks. Cain’s offering was from his leftovers. God did not accept Cain’s offering as there was no honor in it. Cain’s offering was brought from a heart of “I have to.” Abel’s gift was from a heart of “I get to.” Simply put, it is a story that teaches us the difference between thanking God for the opportunities and complaining about the work.

My day starts with a prayer before I even get out of bed. It ends with a worship playlist that I fall asleep to. The middle is so much more than just a prayer and a song. It is bringing Jesus into every situation, thanking Him for the blessings and for those times things don’t work out the way we think they should. It’s choosing to put Him first in our words, actions, intentions, and influences.

Everyone is watching how we act and react, let it be the worship that they see. And may our worship point to Him.

Amy Strong

10/20/17

“Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

John 9:3-5 MSG

Today, I can’t even turn on my TV or scroll my social media feed without hearing or reading about something horrible and heartbreaking that has happened. I’ve found myself countless time sitting and wondering “Why? How did this happen? What would make someone do something so horrific?” Often even if the questions I have are answered, it still doesn’t make sense. I feel like there must be someone or something to blame. The message Sunday gave me a real heart check. I should probably stop wondering who or what is to blame. It won’t change what has already happened. Instead, I should ask, “What can God do in or through this?”

“The perfect one was sent, and He was broken for our salvation so that the imperfect, you and I, can be sent to deliver His message of salvation to a broken world.” -Pastor Jason

Jesus came and died for us so that that we can bring His message of peace, healing, and salvation to a lost and broken world. I am far from perfect but, I carry the perfect one with me wherever I go. It is my prayer that as I’m “energetically at work for the One who sent me,” through me, His light will always shine in the dark places. I’ve been called to make an impact in the areas that God has placed me. Whether it’s serving with my local church, getting involved, in the community or volunteering at the local shelter, it is up to me to do my part and show the love of Jesus by reaching out to those that are lost and hurting.

I think of one of the many stories that came of out of the tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. There was a man that took a truck and started loading up people that were injured making several trips to the hospital. I’m sure he had questions running through his mind as to what and why was this happening but, he also acted and did what he could do to help.

God looked down on this world that he created and saw its broken state. He knew what he could do. He sent part of Himself down in the flesh to die for our sins and brokenness so that everyone would have that chance to know Him (John 3:16). Even as Jesus was betrayed by Judas, spit on, beaten, whipped, pierced and a crown of thorns was placed on his head, He had a “Why?” moment (Matt. 27:46). But Jesus continued on because he knew that is his death would bring light to the dark places and hope to a lost and dying world.

Alicia Reisman

10/13/17

I love the beach. I’ll spend time on the shore all day, marveling at the natural beauty as I look out on the horizon, and walking barefoot as the remnants of waves gently wash over me. But ask me to go in the ocean, and I’ll meet you only as far as I can walk before the water reaches my knees. Any further – with water any deeper – makes me nervous. The great unknown of the ocean terrifies me. Every time I’m in the water, even if it’s shallow, I worry about getting attacked by something that I can’t see coming.

I’m in the first trimester of my third pregnancy right now. I’ve realized that I feel the same way about pregnancy that I do about the ocean. It’s out of my control, and so it terrifies me. Moments of joy are short-lived and overwhelmed by thoughts of what might suddenly attack. Miscarriage. Birth defects. A tragic accident. A medical emergency during labor that takes my life or the baby’s or both. All of the thoughts about what could happen to keep me on the “shore” of doubt when I should be diving into the “ocean” of faith.

I’ve been reflecting this week on the story of the disciples and Jesus when they’re out on a boat in the middle of a big storm. The disciples panic, and ask Jesus for help, because they’re scared of drowning. Jesus calms the storm for them, but not before challenging their faith, asking why they’re so afraid.

Fear is not what Jesus wanted for his followers. It kept them from remembering that He was powerful, capable, in control, and acutely aware of their needs. Fear interrupts faith and steals peace.

Anything could happen in pregnancy, just like anything could happen on the ocean, in a storm. But the threat of what could come doesn’t get the right to steal my peace. This week, I’m laying down the worry over the “what-if’s” about the future of this pregnancy, and picking up what God intended for me: the peace and joy that come from an anchored faith.

Maggie Spadora

10/6/2017

 “A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” 

John 6:18-21

I’m always amazed when I get to church and hear a message that is perfectly timed for my life. God knows that storms have come in abundance lately. The current message series by Pastor Jason has been an incredible reminder of the grace & comfort that Jesus offers to us no matter what we are facing, especially when we truly know who He is.

And I have to ask myself (frequently), whether I believe that Jesus is who he says he is.

Don’t get me wrong, believing that he’s my Savior has never been an issue; but believing that he truly has the best in mind for me and my life? Or that an eternal God would care to get himself messy in my temporary circumstances? Oh, how often I miss the mark there.

What I love most about this story in the book of John is everything it doesn’t say:

  • Jesus walked miles (on water) to get to the disciples. Even as they were rowing and struggling in their own strength and found themselves in the midst of a terrifying storm, Jesus was already on his way to them. He wasn’t going to let some wind & water deter him from getting to those he loved. No matter how far from the Lord we are, there is nothing he won’t do to get to us and rescue us.
  • The disciples didn’t recognize Jesus at first. They thought he was a ghost (see Matthew 14) and were so distracted by their fear and the chaos around them that they couldn’t see him well enough to identify him. It was his voice that made all the difference. Once they realized who was speaking to them, they were willing to let him into the boat. That tells me that they knew his voice! Stop for just a moment and imagine what a comfort it is to hear the reassuring voice of someone who adores you when life gets hard: that pales in comparison to what it is like to hear the voice of our God when our lives are at a deafening roar.
  • Jesus didn’t use any earthly name to identify himself to the disciples. He didn’t say “Relax, it’s just me, Jesus.” He said, “It is I!” The Creator of the universe and Savior of mankind identified himself by his eternal name (I AM) and fear fled the scene! It’s that something?! How often do we casually use the name of Jesus in the midst of our storms without realizing that it’s the presence of His eternal power & person that calls the wind & waves to obey and cease their churning?

Lord, open my heart, God, so that all I can see & hear is You at the center of every circumstance.  I want to hear your voice and know your name! Let it be so fixed in the fiber of my mind and heart that I never settle for calling on anything less when the storms rage around me.

Brandi Cortés-Hickson

9/29/17

I’ve never liked storms.

When I was a child, no sooner had the lightning lit up the sky and thunder rumbled the Earth before I was out of bed and dashing to my parents’ room. Accustomed to my fear, they would sleepily separate to make room for me in the middle. I would squirm up in between them, still shaking from the anxiety that the heavy winds brought. And in that moment, they would both turn towards me, put their arms around me and gently coo, “It’s just thunder, Maeghan. You’re safe. We are right here.

As I’ve gotten older, my fear of physical storms has subsided. I don’t run to my parents’ bedroom or quiver with anxiety at the sign of thunder in the clouds. I can discern that I am sheltered from the winds in the confines of my own bedroom. The other storms though, the ones that we never see coming-be they spiritual, emotional, financial, relational-these storms still send me sprinting, these storms shake me to my core. Shelter seems impossible. In these moments, we feel powerless to the whipping winds and lightning strikes. We feel alone. Isolated. The darkness clouds our hope that anyone is around to save us.

We are like Peter in our rocking boat, watching the clouds descend on the Sea of Galilee. When he sees Jesus walking on the water towards him, he cries out in fear, “A ghost!” Terror has already taken over. He is convinced that an already bad situation is about to take a turn for the worse. But in that moment, Jesus beckons him,

“Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!”

Then, without hesitation, Peter walks out on the water. Immediately, knowing that Jesus is near, his fear is cast out. He has found his shelter in the storm. He knows that Jesus is greater than the rocking waves or powerful winds. Even when he starts sinking from distraction, he finds himself safe in Jesus’ hand.

I want to live my life like Peter. When storms descend-because clouds are inevitable-I want to trust in my Father. So many times, when the wind starts, I have hunkered down rather than outstretching for Jesus’ hand. My anxiety paralyzes me and I look for the nearest shelter, instead of recognizing that Jesus is nearby to carry me through. We aren’t meant to ride out our storms alone, we are meant to weather them with Him. Rather than look ahead at the gray mist that fogs where I thought I was going, I want to look beside and see my Savior smiling with assurance and love, ready to walk with me to the other side.

Hand outstretched. Basked in security and warmth.

“It’s just thunder, Maeghan,” He says. “You’re safe. I am right here.”

-Maeghan DiMaggio

9/22/17

 

Pneuma Life Church Family,

As this storm approaches Florida, we have been watching its path and praying for both all of those who have experienced its devastating effects and those that may be effected over the next few days. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about exactly where the storm will ultimately land. However, we feel, along with the local municipality, that there is significant risk for the St. Johns area. The safety of our community is of the utmost importance. Therefore, we have decided to cancel all weekend activities for Pneuma. We will not have any Sunday services this weekend. Please note that any events/activities after Sunday, we will update you accordingly.

Please be safe, prepared, stay informed, and follow the recommendations of emergency services in your area.
For more information regarding evacuation zones, evacuation centers, and hurricane preparedness, please review the links below:

http://www.sjcemergencymanagement.org

http://www.gis.bocc.co.st-johns.fl.us/MYEZ/

http://www.sjcemergencymanagement.org/pdf/hurrprepguide.pdf

To stay up to date on any changes in Pneuma Life Church’s schedule, follow us on Facebook & Instagram.

Join us as we stay vigilant in prayer for the safety of our church family and communities.

We love you and are praying for you,

Pastors Jason & Jessica Huffman

Last week’s message was relatable & inspiring!

 

Pastor Jason & Jessica Huffman shared their version of a fairy-tale with the story of The Princess and The Prodigal and opened up to us about their marriage and how to navigate difficult times.

It was inspiring to hear a real, yet anointed, couple share how they have successfully navigated 14 years of marriage even when they, at times, felt defeated. Can you relate to that? I know my husband and I can.

Like our pastors, we were opposites who attracted each other. At the beginning, we valued those differences but, as time went on, our appreciation turned into resentment. When we resent each other we are fighting with one another instead of for one another. I know that when things get ugly around here, metaphorical stones are thrown in the heat of battle. We’ve even thrown the “D” word around. Thank God, love wins.

A personal word of advice? Put down your stones.

Can we allow the Lord to do what only He can do?

God can restore our faith, hope & love for each other when we choose to seek Him first and give Him space to change us.

Three points that help us try to be better together:

1. Unified Love 
We marry to lose self, and gain unity with another. So many times we base our decisions on our feelings instead of the purpose of marriage: unity. Feelings are often indicators that we need to change something within ourselves and if we allow the Holy Spirit into our hearts to work on the things that need to be fixed then we can get through anything. His strength is our strength (Philippians 4:13). And whatever we do, we shouldn’t make major life decisions based on temporary emotions.

2. Willingness to Serve
If the goal is unity, then the path is love. And the Bible tells us that the best way to love someone is to serve them. Wow! For me, when my husband takes the kids to school, I feel that he values my time. The best way to love is always to serve each other first in all things: serving, forgiving and even apologizing. Talk about powerful!

3. Being Thankful
Nobody’s perfect and while there are times my husband starts the laundry and doesn’t finish it-I could choose to get upset about this or I could be thankful for the countless other ways he loves our family. When gratitude becomes the focus instead of someone else’s failures, love always wins. What we believe about people is what we see in them and when we believe the good about our spouses, we will find it in them. Fighting for what really matters, like family and love, gets easier.

Another great reminder for us is that sometimes we need to edit the people we allow to speak into our lives. If we are really going to be “better together” in our relationships then we need to be careful not to let anyone give us advice that doesn’t value the Word and heart of God. To be our best, we need people around us that encourage us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

God is in the business of making miracles happen and He can and will restore our relationships if we will let Him.

Nikki-Lyn Holm
8/18/17

As Pastor Jason put it, “Kingdom relationships choose to see the good and always believe the best in people.”

As I was sitting there listening to Pastor Jason, all I could think about were all the relationships that have helped define who I am today; the relationships that have loved me through my messes and given me grace in spite of my many mistakes. These relationships, ones that are deeply rooted in Jesus, are my favorites. They are my community-but like all communities, it took time to build. Over the years I have had to remove myself from relationships that were not life-giving or were conditional in unhealthy ways. I’ve had to be careful and responsible for the relationships I do have so that I don’t create borders because of unforgiveness in my own heart.

Pastor Jason gave us three points about our part in healthy relationships and they really hit hard with me.

  1. Be Merciful– How many times do we have to be right before our being right turns into deep hurt? There’s more to a healthy relationship than being the person who’s always right. When people trust you enough to let you speak into their life, it’s a responsibility that we should not take lightly. Our words and actions should always be covered in mercy and lead by grace.
  2. Be Forgiving– He also said, “Just because you forgive doesn’t mean it will come full circle back to you”- and that has to be ok. Let’s say it together, It’s OK if people don’t forgive me: what matters is that I always forgive others. Forgiveness isn’t always about letting our offender go free, it’s about setting ourselves free! How many times does an old grudge come up in a friendship because we are expecting others to treat us with the same forgiveness we treat them? When we love God first and then love others with his heart, we always find it easier to forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us.
  3. Be Humble- Humility starts in our hearts, but it’s more than that. It’s about being humble in our actions and not just our words. It’s about being teachable. In my experience, the more teachable my heart is and the more humility I have in my relationships with others, the easier it gets to see people as Jesus does.

Many people in my life have chosen to love me through the ugliest parts of my story: those people chose to show me mercy and forgiveness and so also showed me how to have a teachable heart. Because of how they loved me, I’m able to love others the same way. Giving ourselves over to anger, bitterness and unforgiveness in relationships may seem like the easy way to go, but in the end, it’s really more hurtful to us to do that. The question we must ask, in all relationships, is whether or not we will choose the world’s way or the way God gives us for the Kingdom.

As Pastor Jason put it, “Kingdom relationships choose to see the good and always believe the best in people.”

Brian Edgerton
8/12/17

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
– Romans 6:1-4 (NIV)

I’ve been a born-again believer for almost twenty-six years. I have been baptized and seen dozens upon dozens of baptisms take place. It’s always such a beautiful thing to witness—to see a person publicly commit their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For the person in the water, it’s refreshing and invigorating to physically feel the water rush over you and symbolically sweep away all remnants of your sinful past and then to come up and fill your lungs with the first breath of a new season of life.

When we surrender our lives to Jesus and declare Him Lord over our lives, we do so inwardly. Yes, time and growth will demonstrate His presence within us, but it’s not something the world can necessarily see right away. Our choice to be baptized in response to the salvation we’ve received is God’s way of using us to show the world that we are no longer dead, but raised to eternal life because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

With baptism, we are declaring publicly that we are no longer our own and that we have given up our old selves in exchange for a new creation. Galatians 3:26-27 tells us that when we are baptized we clothe ourselves with Christ.

What an amazing image! We take off our old rags and trade them in for the glory of God and in doing so we declare that we are set apart for God’s purposes. It’s a symbol of our covenant with Him (Jeremiah 31:31).

It’s a visible sign of the incredible promise we accept through Jesus at salvation. It’s the first visible step in a shameless journey wherein we respond to the audacious love of God…and what a great love it is!

Brandi Cortes-Hickson
8/5/17


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:1-5 (NIV)

Do I love Jesus so much that nothing else matters? Is His main thing my main thing? Does my life reflect my revelation of Him? These are the questions I am left with after this week’s message by Pastor Jason.

Above my desk at home, I have a notecard with the questions: “Is He first? Is He center? Do I put it under His Word?” I have another that reads, “Step Out & Find Out”.

I am just now realizing that these two notecards are kind of the same thing. When we put Jesus first at the beginning of every day or make Him the first person we seek about the decisions we need to make, it allows us to step out of our comfort zones and see the new beginning He has in store for us. However, sometimes, stepping out means saying goodbye to where we are. Sometimes that’s a job; other times it’s a person or even a plan. And sometimes that means we have to say goodbye before we are ready. The thing that allows us to put the past behind us and look forward to all that God has in store for us is our relationship with Jesus. Pastor Jason said in his message that the only roads that lead to God, intersect with Jesus. Such a profound statement: when we begin each new season with Jesus and always turn to and point toward Him we find ourselves on that road with God and that’s the key to moving forward with confidence.

There are times that looking to Jesus or pointing others to Him is easier said than done. Pastor Jason gave us three things that can help us when we struggle…

1.Use the Bible as our pattern: The Bible should be our guide for everything…yes, everything. Anything we need to know, any example of how to handle a situation, is all in there for us if we just seek to find it. Google can still be your first choice for the best Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, but the Word of God should be our go-to when we need an answer for ourselves or someone else regarding matters of the heart and spirit.

2. Remember that prayer is necessary: Do you talk to Jesus? Do you realize that He wants to talk to you? He longs to commune with us and prayer is our way of having those direct conversations with Him. Without communication with Him, you are leaving out a very important part of the relationship. Imagine coming home to a family member sitting on the couch and you just walk by, not even acknowledging that they are sitting there, mouth open ready to speak to you. That’s what we are doing to Jesus when we don’t talk to Him. He is sitting there, just waiting for us to say something to Him. Talk to Him. He has so much to tell you.

3. Spend time in His presence: Going back to our previous example, we don’t just talk to the people we love, we spend time with them. Spending time with Jesus and allowing Him, through the Holy Spirit, to guide us and change us is how we become more like Him. They say that you become like the people you spend the most time with. I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose who to become like, it would be Jesus. And that’s just it, we get to choose how much time we spend with Him and in doing so, we choose the level of intimacy in our relationship with Him. Are you spending that kind of time with Him? If not, what’s keeping you away?

Knowing Jesus is a process-it begins with meeting and accepting Him and continues into eternity. This life can feel full of endings but when we take the time to follow the pattern shown by Jesus in the Bible, pray, and spend time in the presence of God, it becomes much easier to align our hearts with God’s heart so that His main thing is our main thing and trust each new beginning that comes our way.

Amy Strong
7/28/17

“I’d tell myself that I didn’t need to have a lot of friends. I was fine with the hundreds of friends that I had on Facebook. These counted as real friends, right?”

This week’s message from Pastor Jason was titled “Restoring Relationships”. I seriously considered checking my home for wire-tapping after the message this week. This was the very area that I was struggling all week. Though this topic covers a variety of relationships, for me it hit home in my friendships.

Up until a few months ago, I could count on one hand the people that I would have considered friends. I stayed away from making any meaningful connections because in the past I’d found that sometimes even friendships could get messy. I’d tell myself that I didn’t need to have a lot of friends. I was fine with the hundreds of friends that I had on Facebook. These counted as real friends, right? The status posts, the comments, the likes; I’d traded interacting with real people for these. With security settings the way they are, I was able to let people in as much or as little as I wanted. If your comments offended me, I’d delete them. If I didn’t like how we interacted on Facebook, you were unfriended. Problem solved. There was finally a way to cut out the messy side of relationships. Even though I felt like I was connecting with people through social media, it lacked a very critical component, human interaction.

“Healthy relationships are important to you feeling like you have meaning in your life.” – Jason Huffman

God recently surrounded me with a group of people that have shown me what healthy friendships look like. It was then that I realized what I had been missing out on by not developing meaningful friendships sooner. The smile emoji is not the same as a real smile. “Lol” is not the same as sitting with someone and laughing until you’re both in tears. “XOXO” won’t comfort a friend the same as a warm embrace. Phrases like, “I love you”, “You can do it” and “Don’t give up” are more powerful when they are heard.

There’s going to be friction. When your relationships are covered by the grace of God you realize that friction has purpose and meaning.” -Jason Huffman

Sometimes you’ll rub each other the wrong way. In these moments, we have to search for the meaning in the friction or how we can grow from it. It reminds me of the passage of scripture, “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 MSG. Sometimes the friction that you feel may be wearing you down is actually sharpening you.

I’ve come to realize that real relationships aren’t always about the good and how warm and fuzzy the other person can make you feel. They’re also about the struggles and how you learn and grow from them. So, I’m choosing to surround myself with people that will love, encourage and challenge me to grow.

Alicia Reisman
7/21/17

“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]” – Hebrews 11:1-2

“Preach, Babe”!

Yelling verbal support as my husband preaches his heart out each week is something most are familiar and can hear on our church YouTube videos. This last week, I probably could have waved a banner (if local churches still supported that) and possibly banged a tambourine on my leg (come on now!). Since those things are usually frowned upon in local church services, I contained my extroverted ways to being Faith’s biggest fan.

Where do you begin with this message as Jason begins with closing out a three week home-run series on Love, Hope and now Faith? He talks about the incredible work by our Creator of the physical eyes and how they process images. Again, we are reminded that our living bodies continually tell a story of God’s workmanship. Then he proceeds to our spiritual eyes: the ones that see into another realm and are connected to our heart. Our faith eyes! The message wouldn’t be complete without highlighting some way his and my personalities are so opposite yet complimentary. His example was our unique and different choices in sunglasses, which I might add, his are still ugly and mine quite fabulous (said in my diva voice)!

Underneath the layers of science, theology, and humor, this message is REAL, it’s raw, and we are walking it out with so many wonderful people. There’s not a week that goes by that certain spectacles of tainted faith are removed and I’m reminded of the lens of faith that sees the world, people, experiences, challenges, blessings, opportunities and trials through the clear Word of God.

Faith is not a future oriented emotion declaring a potential promise of God, but believing for the NOW despite not being seen physically (Hebrews 11). The beginning point of Faith is in God’s character: He is who He says He is. The ending point of Faith is in God’s promises: He will do what He said He will do. All the rest in the middle? That’s the messy faith journey we live out in our lives as evidence to His character and promises.

Are you hopeful (a future implied desire) to experience God or are you Faith-filled (to experience God (we just need a mustard seed size for it to happen – Matthew 17:20)?

Hope places expectation in tomorrow, but faith receives God’s promises for TODAY. How many times do we place hope in the driver’s seat of our lives when it is a position that belongs to Faith? . When you woke up today, did you accept EVERY promise God has for you, knowing that He’s a good God who loves you and declares you His favorite? That’s faith talking and walking!

Is your faith being tested, shaken, rocked, messed-with, challenged, or dissipating? GOOD! That means you’re “in the middle” of this faith journey because you have already believed in God’s character and now you are confidently accepting the fulfillment of God’s promises. Are you ready to remove your many shades of unbelief and start siding with faith? Me too, so let’s go!

With all my heart,

J-Huff
7/14/17

“Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

John 9:3-5 MSG

Today, I can’t even turn on my TV or scroll my social media feed without hearing or reading about something horrible and heartbreaking that has happened. I’ve found myself countless time sitting and wondering “Why? How did this happen? What would make someone do something so horrific?” Often even if the questions I have are answered, it still doesn’t make sense. I feel like there must be someone or something to blame. The message Sunday gave me a real heart check. I should probably stop wondering who or what is to blame. It won’t change what has already happened. Instead, I should ask, “What can God do in or through this?”

“The perfect one was sent, and He was broken for our salvation so that the imperfect, you and I, can be sent to deliver His message of salvation to a broken world.” -Pastor Jason

Jesus came and died for us so that that we can bring His message of peace, healing, and salvation to a lost and broken world. I am far from perfect but, I carry the perfect one with me wherever I go. It is my prayer that as I’m “energetically at work for the One who sent me,” through me, His light will always shine in the dark places. I’ve been called to make an impact in the areas that God has placed me. Whether it’s serving with my local church, getting involved, in the community or volunteering at the local shelter, it is up to me to do my part and show the love of Jesus by reaching out to those that are lost and hurting.

I think of one of the many stories that came of out of the tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. There was a man that took a truck and started loading up people that were injured making several trips to the hospital. I’m sure he had questions running through his mind as to what and why was this happening but, he also acted and did what he could do to help.

God looked down on this world that he created and saw its broken state. He knew what he could do. He sent part of Himself down in the flesh to die for our sins and brokenness so that everyone would have that chance to know Him (John 3:16). Even as Jesus was betrayed by Judas, spit on, beaten, whipped, pierced and a crown of thorns was placed on his head, He had a “Why?” moment (Matt. 27:46). But Jesus continued on because he knew that is his death would bring light to the dark places and hope to a lost and dying world.

Alicia Reisman

10/13/17

I love the beach. I’ll spend time on the shore all day, marveling at the natural beauty as I look out on the horizon, and walking barefoot as the remnants of waves gently wash over me. But ask me to go in the ocean, and I’ll meet you only as far as I can walk before the water reaches my knees. Any further – with water any deeper – makes me nervous. The great unknown of the ocean terrifies me. Every time I’m in the water, even if it’s shallow, I worry about getting attacked by something that I can’t see coming.

I’m in the first trimester of my third pregnancy right now. I’ve realized that I feel the same way about pregnancy that I do about the ocean. It’s out of my control, and so it terrifies me. Moments of joy are short-lived and overwhelmed by thoughts of what might suddenly attack. Miscarriage. Birth defects. A tragic accident. A medical emergency during labor that takes my life or the baby’s or both. All of the thoughts about what could happen to keep me on the “shore” of doubt when I should be diving into the “ocean” of faith.

I’ve been reflecting this week on the story of the disciples and Jesus when they’re out on a boat in the middle of a big storm. The disciples panic, and ask Jesus for help, because they’re scared of drowning. Jesus calms the storm for them, but not before challenging their faith, asking why they’re so afraid.

Fear is not what Jesus wanted for his followers. It kept them from remembering that He was powerful, capable, in control, and acutely aware of their needs. Fear interrupts faith and steals peace.

Anything could happen in pregnancy, just like anything could happen on the ocean, in a storm. But the threat of what could come doesn’t get the right to steal my peace. This week, I’m laying down the worry over the “what-if’s” about the future of this pregnancy, and picking up what God intended for me: the peace and joy that come from an anchored faith.

Maggie Spadora

10/6/2017

 “A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” 

John 6:18-21

I’m always amazed when I get to church and hear a message that is perfectly timed for my life. God knows that storms have come in abundance lately. The current message series by Pastor Jason has been an incredible reminder of the grace & comfort that Jesus offers to us no matter what we are facing, especially when we truly know who He is.

And I have to ask myself (frequently), whether I believe that Jesus is who he says he is.

Don’t get me wrong, believing that he’s my Savior has never been an issue; but believing that he truly has the best in mind for me and my life? Or that an eternal God would care to get himself messy in my temporary circumstances? Oh, how often I miss the mark there.

What I love most about this story in the book of John is everything it doesn’t say:

  • Jesus walked miles (on water) to get to the disciples. Even as they were rowing and struggling in their own strength and found themselves in the midst of a terrifying storm, Jesus was already on his way to them. He wasn’t going to let some wind & water deter him from getting to those he loved. No matter how far from the Lord we are, there is nothing he won’t do to get to us and rescue us.
  • The disciples didn’t recognize Jesus at first. They thought he was a ghost (see Matthew 14) and were so distracted by their fear and the chaos around them that they couldn’t see him well enough to identify him. It was his voice that made all the difference. Once they realized who was speaking to them, they were willing to let him into the boat. That tells me that they knew his voice! Stop for just a moment and imagine what a comfort it is to hear the reassuring voice of someone who adores you when life gets hard: that pales in comparison to what it is like to hear the voice of our God when our lives are at a deafening roar.
  • Jesus didn’t use any earthly name to identify himself to the disciples. He didn’t say “Relax, it’s just me, Jesus.” He said, “It is I!” The Creator of the universe and Savior of mankind identified himself by his eternal name (I AM) and fear fled the scene! It’s that something?! How often do we casually use the name of Jesus in the midst of our storms without realizing that it’s the presence of His eternal power & person that calls the wind & waves to obey and cease their churning?

Lord, open my heart, God, so that all I can see & hear is You at the center of every circumstance.  I want to hear your voice and know your name! Let it be so fixed in the fiber of my mind and heart that I never settle for calling on anything less when the storms rage around me.

Brandi Cortés-Hickson

9/29/17

I’ve never liked storms.

When I was a child, no sooner had the lightning lit up the sky and thunder rumbled the Earth before I was out of bed and dashing to my parents’ room. Accustomed to my fear, they would sleepily separate to make room for me in the middle. I would squirm up in between them, still shaking from the anxiety that the heavy winds brought. And in that moment, they would both turn towards me, put their arms around me and gently coo, “It’s just thunder, Maeghan. You’re safe. We are right here.

As I’ve gotten older, my fear of physical storms has subsided. I don’t run to my parents’ bedroom or quiver with anxiety at the sign of thunder in the clouds. I can discern that I am sheltered from the winds in the confines of my own bedroom. The other storms though, the ones that we never see coming-be they spiritual, emotional, financial, relational-these storms still send me sprinting, these storms shake me to my core. Shelter seems impossible. In these moments, we feel powerless to the whipping winds and lightning strikes. We feel alone. Isolated. The darkness clouds our hope that anyone is around to save us.

We are like Peter in our rocking boat, watching the clouds descend on the Sea of Galilee. When he sees Jesus walking on the water towards him, he cries out in fear, “A ghost!” Terror has already taken over. He is convinced that an already bad situation is about to take a turn for the worse. But in that moment, Jesus beckons him,

“Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!”

Then, without hesitation, Peter walks out on the water. Immediately, knowing that Jesus is near, his fear is cast out. He has found his shelter in the storm. He knows that Jesus is greater than the rocking waves or powerful winds. Even when he starts sinking from distraction, he finds himself safe in Jesus’ hand.

I want to live my life like Peter. When storms descend-because clouds are inevitable-I want to trust in my Father. So many times, when the wind starts, I have hunkered down rather than outstretching for Jesus’ hand. My anxiety paralyzes me and I look for the nearest shelter, instead of recognizing that Jesus is nearby to carry me through. We aren’t meant to ride out our storms alone, we are meant to weather them with Him. Rather than look ahead at the gray mist that fogs where I thought I was going, I want to look beside and see my Savior smiling with assurance and love, ready to walk with me to the other side.

Hand outstretched. Basked in security and warmth.

“It’s just thunder, Maeghan,” He says. “You’re safe. I am right here.”

-Maeghan DiMaggio

9/22/17

 

Pneuma Life Church Family,

As this storm approaches Florida, we have been watching its path and praying for both all of those who have experienced its devastating effects and those that may be effected over the next few days. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about exactly where the storm will ultimately land. However, we feel, along with the local municipality, that there is significant risk for the St. Johns area. The safety of our community is of the utmost importance. Therefore, we have decided to cancel all weekend activities for Pneuma. We will not have any Sunday services this weekend. Please note that any events/activities after Sunday, we will update you accordingly.

Please be safe, prepared, stay informed, and follow the recommendations of emergency services in your area.
For more information regarding evacuation zones, evacuation centers, and hurricane preparedness, please review the links below:

http://www.sjcemergencymanagement.org

http://www.gis.bocc.co.st-johns.fl.us/MYEZ/

http://www.sjcemergencymanagement.org/pdf/hurrprepguide.pdf

To stay up to date on any changes in Pneuma Life Church’s schedule, follow us on Facebook & Instagram.

Join us as we stay vigilant in prayer for the safety of our church family and communities.

We love you and are praying for you,

Pastors Jason & Jessica Huffman

Last week’s message was relatable & inspiring!

 

Pastor Jason & Jessica Huffman shared their version of a fairy-tale with the story of The Princess and The Prodigal and opened up to us about their marriage and how to navigate difficult times.

It was inspiring to hear a real, yet anointed, couple share how they have successfully navigated 14 years of marriage even when they, at times, felt defeated. Can you relate to that? I know my husband and I can.

Like our pastors, we were opposites who attracted each other. At the beginning, we valued those differences but, as time went on, our appreciation turned into resentment. When we resent each other we are fighting with one another instead of for one another. I know that when things get ugly around here, metaphorical stones are thrown in the heat of battle. We’ve even thrown the “D” word around. Thank God, love wins.

A personal word of advice? Put down your stones.

Can we allow the Lord to do what only He can do?

God can restore our faith, hope & love for each other when we choose to seek Him first and give Him space to change us.

Three points that help us try to be better together:

1. Unified Love 
We marry to lose self, and gain unity with another. So many times we base our decisions on our feelings instead of the purpose of marriage: unity. Feelings are often indicators that we need to change something within ourselves and if we allow the Holy Spirit into our hearts to work on the things that need to be fixed then we can get through anything. His strength is our strength (Philippians 4:13). And whatever we do, we shouldn’t make major life decisions based on temporary emotions.

2. Willingness to Serve
If the goal is unity, then the path is love. And the Bible tells us that the best way to love someone is to serve them. Wow! For me, when my husband takes the kids to school, I feel that he values my time. The best way to love is always to serve each other first in all things: serving, forgiving and even apologizing. Talk about powerful!

3. Being Thankful
Nobody’s perfect and while there are times my husband starts the laundry and doesn’t finish it-I could choose to get upset about this or I could be thankful for the countless other ways he loves our family. When gratitude becomes the focus instead of someone else’s failures, love always wins. What we believe about people is what we see in them and when we believe the good about our spouses, we will find it in them. Fighting for what really matters, like family and love, gets easier.

Another great reminder for us is that sometimes we need to edit the people we allow to speak into our lives. If we are really going to be “better together” in our relationships then we need to be careful not to let anyone give us advice that doesn’t value the Word and heart of God. To be our best, we need people around us that encourage us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

God is in the business of making miracles happen and He can and will restore our relationships if we will let Him.

Nikki-Lyn Holm
8/18/17

As Pastor Jason put it, “Kingdom relationships choose to see the good and always believe the best in people.”

 

As I was sitting there listening to Pastor Jason, all I could think about were all the relationships that have helped define who I am today; the relationships that have loved me through my messes and given me grace in spite of my many mistakes. These relationships, ones that are deeply rooted in Jesus, are my favorites. They are my community-but like all communities, it took time to build. Over the years I have had to remove myself from relationships that were not life-giving or were conditional in unhealthy ways. I’ve had to be careful and responsible for the relationships I do have so that I don’t create borders because of unforgiveness in my own heart.

Pastor Jason gave us three points about our part in healthy relationships and they really hit hard with me.

  1. Be Merciful– How many times do we have to be right before our being right turns into deep hurt? There’s more to a healthy relationship than being the person who’s always right. When people trust you enough to let you speak into their life, it’s a responsibility that we should not take lightly. Our words and actions should always be covered in mercy and lead by grace.
  2. Be Forgiving– He also said, “Just because you forgive doesn’t mean it will come full circle back to you”- and that has to be ok. Let’s say it together, It’s OK if people don’t forgive me: what matters is that I always forgive others. Forgiveness isn’t always about letting our offender go free, it’s about setting ourselves free! How many times does an old grudge come up in a friendship because we are expecting others to treat us with the same forgiveness we treat them? When we love God first and then love others with his heart, we always find it easier to forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us.
  3. Be Humble- Humility starts in our hearts, but it’s more than that. It’s about being humble in our actions and not just our words. It’s about being teachable. In my experience, the more teachable my heart is and the more humility I have in my relationships with others, the easier it gets to see people as Jesus does.

Many people in my life have chosen to love me through the ugliest parts of my story: those people chose to show me mercy and forgiveness and so also showed me how to have a teachable heart. Because of how they loved me, I’m able to love others the same way. Giving ourselves over to anger, bitterness and unforgiveness in relationships may seem like the easy way to go, but in the end, it’s really more hurtful to us to do that. The question we must ask, in all relationships, is whether or not we will choose the world’s way or the way God gives us for the Kingdom.

As Pastor Jason put it, “Kingdom relationships choose to see the good and always believe the best in people.”

Brian Edgerton
8/12/17

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
– Romans 6:1-4 (NIV)

 

I’ve been a born-again believer for almost twenty-six years. I have been baptized and seen dozens upon dozens of baptisms take place. It’s always such a beautiful thing to witness—to see a person publicly commit their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For the person in the water, it’s refreshing and invigorating to physically feel the water rush over you and symbolically sweep away all remnants of your sinful past and then to come up and fill your lungs with the first breath of a new season of life.

When we surrender our lives to Jesus and declare Him Lord over our lives, we do so inwardly. Yes, time and growth will demonstrate His presence within us, but it’s not something the world can necessarily see right away. Our choice to be baptized in response to the salvation we’ve received is God’s way of using us to show the world that we are no longer dead, but raised to eternal life because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

With baptism, we are declaring publicly that we are no longer our own and that we have given up our old selves in exchange for a new creation. Galatians 3:26-27 tells us that when we are baptized we clothe ourselves with Christ.

What an amazing image! We take off our old rags and trade them in for the glory of God and in doing so we declare that we are set apart for God’s purposes. It’s a symbol of our covenant with Him (Jeremiah 31:31).

It’s a visible sign of the incredible promise we accept through Jesus at salvation. It’s the first visible step in a shameless journey wherein we respond to the audacious love of God…and what a great love it is!

Brandi Cortes-Hickson
8/5/17

 


“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:1-5 (NIV)

 

Do I love Jesus so much that nothing else matters? Is His main thing my main thing? Does my life reflect my revelation of Him? These are the questions I am left with after this week’s message by Pastor Jason.

Above my desk at home, I have a notecard with the questions: “Is He first? Is He center? Do I put it under His Word?” I have another that reads, “Step Out & Find Out”.

I am just now realizing that these two notecards are kind of the same thing. When we put Jesus first at the beginning of every day or make Him the first person we seek about the decisions we need to make, it allows us to step out of our comfort zones and see the new beginning He has in store for us. However, sometimes, stepping out means saying goodbye to where we are. Sometimes that’s a job; other times it’s a person or even a plan. And sometimes that means we have to say goodbye before we are ready. The thing that allows us to put the past behind us and look forward to all that God has in store for us is our relationship with Jesus. Pastor Jason said in his message that the only roads that lead to God, intersect with Jesus. Such a profound statement: when we begin each new season with Jesus and always turn to and point toward Him we find ourselves on that road with God and that’s the key to moving forward with confidence.

There are times that looking to Jesus or pointing others to Him is easier said than done. Pastor Jason gave us three things that can help us when we struggle…

1.Use the Bible as our pattern: The Bible should be our guide for everything…yes, everything. Anything we need to know, any example of how to handle a situation, is all in there for us if we just seek to find it. Google can still be your first choice for the best Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, but the Word of God should be our go-to when we need an answer for ourselves or someone else regarding matters of the heart and spirit.

2. Remember that prayer is necessary: Do you talk to Jesus? Do you realize that He wants to talk to you? He longs to commune with us and prayer is our way of having those direct conversations with Him. Without communication with Him, you are leaving out a very important part of the relationship. Imagine coming home to a family member sitting on the couch and you just walk by, not even acknowledging that they are sitting there, mouth open ready to speak to you. That’s what we are doing to Jesus when we don’t talk to Him. He is sitting there, just waiting for us to say something to Him. Talk to Him. He has so much to tell you.

3. Spend time in His presence: Going back to our previous example, we don’t just talk to the people we love, we spend time with them. Spending time with Jesus and allowing Him, through the Holy Spirit, to guide us and change us is how we become more like Him. They say that you become like the people you spend the most time with. I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose who to become like, it would be Jesus. And that’s just it, we get to choose how much time we spend with Him and in doing so, we choose the level of intimacy in our relationship with Him. Are you spending that kind of time with Him? If not, what’s keeping you away?

Knowing Jesus is a process-it begins with meeting and accepting Him and continues into eternity. This life can feel full of endings but when we take the time to follow the pattern shown by Jesus in the Bible, pray, and spend time in the presence of God, it becomes much easier to align our hearts with God’s heart so that His main thing is our main thing and trust each new beginning that comes our way.

Amy Strong
7/28/17

“I’d tell myself that I didn’t need to have a lot of friends. I was fine with the hundreds of friends that I had on Facebook. These counted as real friends, right?”

 

This week’s message from Pastor Jason was titled “Restoring Relationships”. I seriously considered checking my home for wire-tapping after the message this week. This was the very area that I was struggling all week. Though this topic covers a variety of relationships, for me it hit home in my friendships.

Up until a few months ago, I could count on one hand the people that I would have considered friends. I stayed away from making any meaningful connections because in the past I’d found that sometimes even friendships could get messy. I’d tell myself that I didn’t need to have a lot of friends. I was fine with the hundreds of friends that I had on Facebook. These counted as real friends, right? The status posts, the comments, the likes; I’d traded interacting with real people for these. With security settings the way they are, I was able to let people in as much or as little as I wanted. If your comments offended me, I’d delete them. If I didn’t like how we interacted on Facebook, you were unfriended. Problem solved. There was finally a way to cut out the messy side of relationships. Even though I felt like I was connecting with people through social media, it lacked a very critical component, human interaction.

“Healthy relationships are important to you feeling like you have meaning in your life.” – Jason Huffman

God recently surrounded me with a group of people that have shown me what healthy friendships look like. It was then that I realized what I had been missing out on by not developing meaningful friendships sooner. The smile emoji is not the same as a real smile. “Lol” is not the same as sitting with someone and laughing until you’re both in tears. “XOXO” won’t comfort a friend the same as a warm embrace. Phrases like, “I love you”, “You can do it” and “Don’t give up” are more powerful when they are heard.

There’s going to be friction. When your relationships are covered by the grace of God you realize that friction has purpose and meaning.” -Jason Huffman

Sometimes you’ll rub each other the wrong way. In these moments, we have to search for the meaning in the friction or how we can grow from it. It reminds me of the passage of scripture, “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 MSG. Sometimes the friction that you feel may be wearing you down is actually sharpening you.

I’ve come to realize that real relationships aren’t always about the good and how warm and fuzzy the other person can make you feel. They’re also about the struggles and how you learn and grow from them. So, I’m choosing to surround myself with people that will love, encourage and challenge me to grow.

Alicia Reisman
7/21/17

 

“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality–faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]” – Hebrews 11:1-2

“Preach, Babe”!

Yelling verbal support as my husband preaches his heart out each week is something most are familiar and can hear on our church YouTube videos. This last week, I probably could have waved a banner (if local churches still supported that) and possibly banged a tambourine on my leg (come on now!). Since those things are usually frowned upon in local church services, I contained my extroverted ways to being Faith’s biggest fan.

Where do you begin with this message as Jason begins with closing out a three week home-run series on Love, Hope and now Faith? He talks about the incredible work by our Creator of the physical eyes and how they process images. Again, we are reminded that our living bodies continually tell a story of God’s workmanship. Then he proceeds to our spiritual eyes: the ones that see into another realm and are connected to our heart. Our faith eyes! The message wouldn’t be complete without highlighting some way his and my personalities are so opposite yet complimentary. His example was our unique and different choices in sunglasses, which I might add, his are still ugly and mine quite fabulous (said in my diva voice)!

Underneath the layers of science, theology, and humor, this message is REAL, it’s raw, and we are walking it out with so many wonderful people. There’s not a week that goes by that certain spectacles of tainted faith are removed and I’m reminded of the lens of faith that sees the world, people, experiences, challenges, blessings, opportunities and trials through the clear Word of God.

Faith is not a future oriented emotion declaring a potential promise of God, but believing for the NOW despite not being seen physically (Hebrews 11). The beginning point of Faith is in God’s character: He is who He says He is. The ending point of Faith is in God’s promises: He will do what He said He will do. All the rest in the middle? That’s the messy faith journey we live out in our lives as evidence to His character and promises.

Are you hopeful (a future implied desire) to experience God or are you Faith-filled (to experience God (we just need a mustard seed size for it to happen – Matthew 17:20)?

Hope places expectation in tomorrow, but faith receives God’s promises for TODAY. How many times do we place hope in the driver’s seat of our lives when it is a position that belongs to Faith? . When you woke up today, did you accept EVERY promise God has for you, knowing that He’s a good God who loves you and declares you His favorite? That’s faith talking and walking!

Is your faith being tested, shaken, rocked, messed-with, challenged, or dissipating? GOOD! That means you’re “in the middle” of this faith journey because you have already believed in God’s character and now you are confidently accepting the fulfillment of God’s promises. Are you ready to remove your many shades of unbelief and start siding with faith? Me too, so let’s go!

With all my heart,

J-Huff
7/14/17

 

“Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

John 9:3-5 MSG

Today, I can’t even turn on my TV or scroll my social media feed without hearing or reading about something horrible and heartbreaking that has happened. I’ve found myself countless time sitting and wondering “Why? How did this happen? What would make someone do something so horrific?” Often even if the questions I have are answered, it still doesn’t make sense. I feel like there must be someone or something to blame. The message Sunday gave me a real heart check. I should probably stop wondering who or what is to blame. It won’t change what has already happened. Instead, I should ask, “What can God do in or through this?”

“The perfect one was sent, and He was broken for our salvation so that the imperfect, you and I, can be sent to deliver His message of salvation to a broken world.” -Pastor Jason

Jesus came and died for us so that that we can bring His message of peace, healing, and salvation to a lost and broken world. I am far from perfect but, I carry the perfect one with me wherever I go. It is my prayer that as I’m “energetically at work for the One who sent me,” through me, His light will always shine in the dark places. I’ve been called to make an impact in the areas that God has placed me. Whether it’s serving with my local church, getting involved, in the community or volunteering at the local shelter, it is up to me to do my part and show the love of Jesus by reaching out to those that are lost and hurting.

I think of one of the many stories that came of out of the tragedy that happened in Las Vegas. There was a man that took a truck and started loading up people that were injured making several trips to the hospital. I’m sure he had questions running through his mind as to what and why was this happening but, he also acted and did what he could do to help.

God looked down on this world that he created and saw its broken state. He knew what he could do. He sent part of Himself down in the flesh to die for our sins and brokenness so that everyone would have that chance to know Him (John 3:16). Even as Jesus was betrayed by Judas, spit on, beaten, whipped, pierced and a crown of thorns was placed on his head, He had a “Why?” moment (Matt. 27:46). But Jesus continued on because he knew that is his death would bring light to the dark places and hope to a lost and dying world.

Alicia Reisman

10/13/17

Maggie Spadora
7/7/17

“God can take a life that is ordinary and use it to do extraordinary things.”
Pastor Jason Huffman

 

Such was the case this week as Pastor Jason preached about the life of Amos. He was just an ordinary farmer and shepherd. Suddenly God had called him away from that ordinary life to go and do something completely different, something extraordinary, something he felt unqualified to do. Isn’t that the theme throughout the Bible? It is full of ordinary men and women that God called upon to do great things. What has always been so amazing to me is that God does not wait for us to know how. He chooses us because of our willingness to be used. He sees the condition of our hearts and calls on us to go and step out.

Do you struggle to ever imagine yourself doing extraordinary things for the Kingdom of God? You are not alone, but with God, we should never say never!

It was really clear to me that not only did Amos have a willing heart but he had a very close personal relationship with the Lord. For him to be able to hear clearly from God and know exactly what he was being asked to do, he must have been on a “personal journey,” as Pastor Jason called it, for some time with the Lord. It makes me want to double-check my own relationship and dig a little deeper. I if I would know His voice so clearly? Would I be able to answer that call when He chooses me; when it’s my turn to go? Will I know it’s my turn to step out? Will you know it’s yours?

Ultimately, the message that Amos delivered fell on deaf ears and Israel did not respond. Amos was obedient and delivered it anyway. He believed it and it was not just for that particular generation. It was recorded in the Bible and therefore is applicable for every generation to carry on and live out, including you and me. At the core of his message was the idea of impacting the world around them, doing good for others, seeking to live a life that treats others with love and respect on a daily basis.

We were created to live in right relationship with God and each other. Do we live that out daily or have we become so apathetic to the people of this world that we see them as less valuable than ourselves? Are there hurting people around us that we are ignoring because of our own issues or comfort? Will we say “yes” when God asks us to step out and comfort them? Will you say “yes” when God asks you to address your own heart issues before you point the finger at someone else?

So many things to think about this week but, at the end of the day, we can be confident that stepping out in faith and trust with a YES to God when He calls will result in a life of impact.

Dorothy Edgerton
7/1/17

This past weekend, Pastor Jason gave a powerful message on Fatherhood. It was a Father’s Day message that was not only directed towards the dads in the room. Pastor Jason broke down how every single one of us – male or female, kids or no kids – carry a Spirit of Fatherhood.

 

The scriptures tell us that Jesus is the perfect representation of His Heavenly Father (Hebrews 1:3). He came here and painted us a picture of what God is really like. He gave us insight into God’s nature and personality. Jesus painted the exact picture of this Spirit of Fatherhood. That Spirit, to this day, continues to transform lives and set people free.

The Bible also says that as Jesus is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17). To reiterate Jason’s point, we ALL carry the Spirit of Fatherhood. In fact, we have been stamped with it. Just as people saw the Spirit of the Father in Jesus, they should see that same Spirit in every born-again follower of Jesus.

Pastor Jason went on to explain how the Spirit of Fatherhood is what makes people true heroes in this life. This world is desperately in need of people who carry this Fatherly Spirit. Jason presented three practical ways to be everyday heroes who carry the Spirit of Fatherhood to a lost and hurting world. We can do this by following, influencing and multiplying.

I cannot think of a better man to have delivered this message to us on Father’s Day. I have personally watched Pastor Jason live out this model of fatherhood in my life. When my wife and I first started to follow Jesus, we were a mess, both personally and in our relationship.  We wanted to follow Jesus, but we didn’t even know where to begin. We had so many insecurities and struggles that were holding us back.

Pastor Jason patiently held our hands and walked us through the issues that we were facing. He sat with us and listened. He lovingly offered Godly wisdom and encouragement throughout the entire process. He always pointed us back towards Jesus and modeled for us what it looked like to follow Jesus in all things. He was the representation of our Heavenly Father to us in that season. He was very much a Hero.

Jason’s influence led us towards true transformation. Our marriage is by no means perfect, but I don’t hesitate to call it a thriving marriage. As a result of walking through that process, both my wife and I were then filled with the desire to multiply. We wanted to be heroes to other young men and women who were struggling, the same way that a Jason was for us. We had a burning desire to carry that Spirit of Fatherhood, and the Lord gave us many opportunities to do so. We have seen many young men and women grow and thrive in their walk with Christ, and many of them are now providing a fatherly influence to people around them.

Did you know that YOU carry this same Spirit within you!? That Fatherly Spirit can restore hope in someone’s life. It can heal people emotionally and physically. It can set people free from bondage. It can encourage people to take that next step into their calling. It can make someone feel loved who didn’t think anyone in the world cared about them! Who do you know that needs a father right now? It doesn’t matter in what capacity. You have the Spirit inside of you to be that Father to them!

Brian Maisch
6/23/17

 I am one of those people that take notes in church. The kind of notes that require actual paper. I also bring a leather-bound Bible. Yes, I have 13 different Bible or Bible Study apps on my phone but there is something about the pages of a Bible as you flip through it that you just don’t get from an app.

 

And I take notes in my Bible. Yes, in my Bible. I can hear some of you gasp as the thought of writing in a book, especially THE Bible, is something you would have never considered but stay with me here. Throughout our lifetimes we will hear multiple messages from different people on the same passage of scripture. Taking notes helps us to recall what struck us the first or tenth time we read a particular passage.

For instance, Pastor Jason finished up our current message series today based on Matthew 5:3-12 (commonly known as the Sermon on the Mount or The Beatitudes). When I open my Bible, the notes I read for this list of blessings, highlighted by the word “Blessed”, is referring to the kind of happiness that was reserved for kings, not the common folk. But thank God, through Jesus, we can know this kind of happiness!

When you first look at this list, you might be thinking you have the wrong passage. It does not seem that this is a list of happiness for anyone, much less a king: poor in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry for righteousness, or persecuted. These are not desirable qualities in the natural realm yet Jesus calls these people special, happy, and truly blessed.

One of the points Pastor Jason made in this closing message, is that it’s about perspective. We need to see what is around us with God’s perspective- a Kingdom perspective. By changing our perspectives, we align our heart to His and His values become our values. As we start to align ourselves with what He desires for us, He will make the provision for where He is leading us and give us the grace to do it. When we move in His direction, He rushes in ours. We can begin to see that being “poor in spirit” may really be referring to our willingness to ask for help, “mourning” may actually mean that we are emotionally honest, even if means appearing weak. Are we teachable? Are we proactive? Are our motives pure?

Pastor Jason’s last point, worship, is what it is all about to me. Worship is an outward expression of our love for the Father and we ought to worship Him, not just when we feel blessed, but every day of our lives. As we daily seek His face, our hearts are becoming aligned to His and, as that happens, we gain His perspective on the world around us. We want to serve, give, share, and sacrifice for Him. When troubles come, they don’t cause us to lose control or have a complete meltdown because we know that He is there in the midst of the storm: a small shower or a hurricane, it makes no difference. He sees the sacrifice. He knows the heartache. He is faithful in the hurt and the mundane. He brings hope and healing as we worship.

Change your perspective. Align your heart. Live your life as an act of Worship. These three together bring us to the King’s kind of happiness and blessing.

-Amy Strong
6/16/17

The messages always seem to touch me right where I am in my life. This Sunday was no different as Pastor Jason continued the series of the “Sermon on the Mount”. We recap on how the Beatitudes or the Sermon on the Mount are an invitation to God’s Kingdom. It’s an invitation to transformation.

 

This week he talked about the heart and how “The heart is critical to the transformation that God wants to bring about in your life”. He also asked, “What is it that you need to cut out of your life? What is it that’s keeping you from connecting with the reality of God’s kingdom in your life?”

I began to examine my heart in that moment. What am I holding in my heart that is keeping me from fully accessing God’s Kingdom? He named some of the issues of the heart, a list which included unforgiveness. That was it! That was the issue in my heart that I needed to let go of. If you would have asked me a few weeks ago if I needed to forgive anyone, the answer would have been a resounding “No!”

Recently during a conversation with a friend, I was talking about something that happened to me in the past and even during this conversation I was saying how I had forgiven this person. The more I talked about the incident, the more I found myself getting irritated, my heart was racing and my blood started to boil about what happened. I had seen this person several times since the incident. We laughed, hugged and even said how much we loved each other. How was this not forgiveness? Even though I said with my words that I had forgiven this person and was even able to act like I had forgiven this person, the fact of the matter was I still harbored unforgiveness in my heart. I could not even talk about what happened without getting upset. Almost seven years later, I still was feeling the same emotions as when I first hurt. I hadn’t truly forgiven them.

“Many of us are being hindered from our destiny because we are being held hostage by a leash around our souls called unforgiveness.” -Tony Evans

Maybe you’re not holding on to unforgiveness towards another person. Maybe the person you need to forgive is yourself. You feel like the choices that you have made are too big to overcome and that God can longer use you. I get it, I’ve been there myself. I’ve made choices that I felt like I could never recover from. I would constantly beat myself up saying that I deserved every consequence I was receiving. Then one day, while I was reading my Bible, Romans 8:1 spoke to me in a different way.”So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to
death.”

I’ve read this scripture many times before but, this time that word “condemnation” jumped out at me. Merriam-Webster’s definition of condemnation is censure or blame. It’s easy after we’ve made a mistake to want to condemn or blame ourselves. Though we have to live with the consequences of our choices, we shouldn’t constantly condemn ourselves. Verse 2 reads “And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death”. Now when I read this passage, I remind myself that this includes self-condemnation.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10 NLT

The main purpose of the enemy is to steal, kill and destroy. He wants for us to be so consumed with the issues of our heart no matter how big or small so that we’re not Kingdom focused. If he can keep us distracted, then he’s already won. “The enemy wants you to refuse the invitation.”, Pastor Jason. He doesn’t want us gaining access to the kingdom.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” PROVERBS 4:23 AMP Keep watch over your heart; not only to protect it from allowing the wrong things to enter in but, also to purify it of things that need to be removed.

What is flowing out of your heart? What needs to be cleaned out so that you can accept the invitation to transformation?

Alicia Reisman
6/9/17

“What’s the point in trying harder? She already does it better than I could probably ever do. I don’t know if I’m really going to be adding anything to this team. I think I’ll just take a step back and see what I feel like doing next…maybe I’ll just go back to what I was doing before…”

 

I can’t tell you how many times, for how many years, I’ve struggled through this thought process. If I’m completely honest, I still do.

In hindsight, I’ve gotten in my own way far more times than I’d like to recount.

I always get initially involved in something from a place of great intentions, with the desire to add value to a life, church, or community, but I’ve realized lately that I have an ongoing struggle with perseverance that’s rooted in a desire to BE valuable or to FEEL valuable.

The difference between “adding value” and “feeling valuable” isn’t a nuance. It’s a completely separate matter of the heart.

While many of my heart wounds from past rejections and failures have healed over time, there are seasons when self-doubt still rears it’s ugly head and throws up a roadblock. For example, when I should be excited about an opportunity to grow in an area of ministry, I can get discouraged about not measuring up to someone else who’s already doing it well. When it’s time to stretch, my doubt gets me thinking “I can’t do this,” instead of letting my faith carry me with, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) I focus on what I’m not great at, and then begin to step back, when I should actually be leaning in. I felt this start to happen recently, and thought to myself, “here I go again” and then wondered, “why do I always do this?”

This past Sunday, Pastor Jason reminded us that, when it comes to the trajectory of our lives, “The condition of the heart is the heart of the matter.” Continuing his sermon series on the Beatitudes, he talked about the promise for those who are “pure in heart”: They will be blessed because “they will see God.” (Matthew 5:1-12) He challenged us to ask ourselves questions about how we view ourselves and how we view God, knowing that the answers would help us diagnose our own personal heart conditions.

After doing some soul searching, I’ve realized that the most honest answer to, “How do I view myself?” is, “limited.”

So, having recently committed to serving regularly at Pneuma, the question that I’m forcing myself to wrestle with is, “If I want to get serious about building a church, how can I expect to see the whole heart of God for my community when I’m not even believing His whole heart for me?”

If I’m not careful enough (prayerful enough) to keep doubt and insecurity at bay, I know that different opportunities within the church will turn into something that I do to make myself feel important or “good enough.” If I’m approaching a task just to try to prove something to myself, I’m losing sight of the actual purpose of that role, which is to meet the needs of someone else.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns believers against doing things without true love as their motive. He tells them that, despite their talents or spiritual gifts, they will be no more than “resounding gongs or clanging cymbals” (distractions; useless noise). He reminds them that love, as it should be, is “not self-seeking” and that it “rejoices with the truth.” (1 Cor. 13:1-7)

If I’m going to be more than a proverbial gong or cymbal within any sphere of influence, then I need to rest my heart in the hands of our King. I need to know and believe that I am chosen, beloved, upheld, and appointed for specific impact, because of how I’ve been created and who my Creator is, and that no amount of “doing” or “trying” in my own power will ever make me feel like “enough.” When my heart is anxious with self-doubt, it wants to cling to motives and actions that are self-fulfilling. But, those actions don’t satisfy, as nothing outside of God’s perfect love can. (Isaiah 55).

If this cycle continues, of always trying to do more to feel like I matter more, my heartbeat eventually gets out of rhythm with God’s, and I’ve lost my ability to be salt and light, because I’m too worried about myself. (Matt. 5:13-15)

I’m clinging to the promise for the pure in heart right now: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8) I know that God desires to remove every hindrance, including anxiety, doubt, pride, and selfishness. My prayer and worship time involves a lot of actively surrendering these things to Him so that He can replace them with truth, joy, and peace. When I “see” His love in this way, I can step forward in boldness!

Sometimes God will expect us to do hard things, but we are never without His power to persevere, if we keep our eyes on Him. (Jer. 29:13; Hebrews 12:1-3)

“Now to Him, who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power, that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20)

-Maggie Spadora
6/2/17

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:20 (NIV)

 

There was a time in my life when this particular verse of scripture meant that I was hopeless. The early years of my Christian walk were heavily guided by performance and legalism and I was never quite righteous enough. Even though I didn’t listen to any secular music, watch movies beyond a G-rating, or even raise my hands in church for fear of stealing the glory away from God himself — it was never enough. So how in the world could I possibly surpass the righteousness of the most educated and rooted religious leaders?

The truth is, I can’t.

Praise God that I couldn’t have been more wrong in my understanding of this passage!

One of the most powerful things a believer can learn, at any point in their Christian walk, is that God is not waiting on our perfect performance in order to offer His blessing to us. He desires the posture of our hearts. That we would be willing to seek Him, first in all things, is what matters most to Him.

As I was taking notes during Pastor Jason’s message on Sunday, there was one thing that really stood out to me. I wrote this down…

“When we receive an invitation, we are reminded of our value in the eyes of the one who sent it; but our willingness to accept the invitation reveals the value we give, in our hearts, to the one who extends it to us in the first place.”

Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, offers us an invitation to the Kingdom. Regardless of where we have been or where we may be going, He tells us that even in the most painful moments of our lives, He is there. Our darkest circumstances can be anointed in light and love if we are willing to understand and accept that Jesus values us and His invitation is priceless. That is the righteousness He refers to in Matthew 5:20. It is not defined by our performance or pious behavior but by our relationship with Him.

With each passing day, I am more grateful that our invitation to be part of God’s Kingdom is not a once in a lifetime offer. He is there, every day, inviting us to accept all that He has offered so that we can truly experience a life anointed by the same kingdom power and authority that rules eternity.

-Brandi Cortes – Hickson
5/26/17

Dear Mom,

I have had a long time to think about this letter and exactly what I wanted to say. Mostly, I miss you desperately. Out of all the joy, sadness, and tough moments, the most important thing you did right was show us a love and passion for Jesus. You exemplified how important it was to serve others because you always put others first.

How could you NOT be the world’s best mom when you were the greatest mom you knew how to be? Present when I needed you the most through every tragedy and triumph! We may not have agreed on everything, but we knew our relationship was a priority.

Knowing you’re in heaven, I still miss you and I long to have you here but for a moment. I fight hard not to focus on your absence and I choose to remember the great moments of our time together. Remember our trips to Baton Rouge, Atlanta, Gatlinburg, Asheville, Miami, St. Louis, and our many mom and daughter trips to Orlando and Tampa? We didn’t make it to Hawaii but one day, together, we will walk beautiful sandy beaches in heaven.

I often ask the Lord, why you had to leave so soon.

Oh the values I’ve learned from your sweet presence: love, sacrifice, and perseverance. Then there was those lessons on boldness and how to be a victor instead of a victim. You taught me to pray well and lean into the the challenging seasons of motherhood – thank you! Most importantly, you taught me you weren’t perfect and I won’t be either.

I’m reminded of our Heavenly Father and how He died for us and that He carries our burdens and washes away our sins; what a thing to celebrate! Until we meet again, I’m wishing you a Happy 2nd Mother’s Day in Heaven!

I love and miss you so very much,

-Heather

Mother’s Day 2017

Dear Mom,

I often wonder what went through Mary’s mind as she walked through her pregnancy. Being an expectant, teenage, mother with very little experience, yet knowing she carried the Son of God, definitely took strength and courage. Do you think that is why God chose her out of all the other girls? Motherhood, whether you give birth to your child or not requires strength and courage that we can never truly find all on our own but we know from Philippians 4:13 that there is nothing we cannot do through the strength the Holy Spirit provides.

When I think about the mother you were to me, I see you as a strong and courageous woman who had to make tough choices to do what was best for our family. You were single mom, extraordinaire, keeping us together, making sure that we loved each other even though you had to be both mom & dad. We knew that you loved us with all your heart.

While I’m not a single mom, my own journey in motherhood has had its own ups and downs: Having four kids brings its own kind of craziness and real life struggles. You not only taught me to call on God for courage and strength but do as we are instructed in James 1:5 and seek God’s wisdom and peace.

As a mother, my heart longs for the wisdom and the answers to help my own kids make it through each day. When they come home from school with a problem or they have been bullied, or they are hurt or upset, I need the wisdom and knowledge to help them get through it, and I know now that you only wanted the same thing for us.

I found a poem by an anonymous author that says:

At the age of 4, I thought: My mommy can do anything!
At the age of 8, I thought: My mom is the smartest mom.
At the age of 12, I thought: My mom doesn’t know everything.
At the age of 14, I thought: My mom doesn’t have a clue!
At the age of 16, I thought: Someone needs to fill this woman in!!
At the age of 18, I thought: My mom is completely out of touch.
At the age of 25, I thought: As a last resort, I think I’ll ask Mom.
At the age of 35, I thought: I’ve got to talk to Mom first.
At the age of 45, I thought: My mom is the wisest woman I know.
At the age of 70, I thought: If only I could ask Mom!!

Thank you for guiding me down the path of wisdom and strength found in God, Mom. Thank you for being the kind of mom that didn’t take the easy way out, the one that made the tough choices, the kind of mom that stood her ground and protected us even when we did not like it. Thank you for being strong and courageous. It’s not alway an easy job or a fun job but you did it anyway, and for that, you are my hero. I have not always appreciated you, but everyday I will look back and Thank God for your strength and Courage, your Wisdom and Peace. I wouldn’t be the mother I am today if it weren’t for you.

Love,

-Dorothy

Mother’s Day 2017

Dear Mom,

We’ve celebrated this day in one way or another for forty-one years. Even though, most of those years we have been apart, I can honestly say that you are one of my best friends.

As a mother, with four children of my own, I think back over the years and thank God for every lesson you ever taught me.

Sometimes, they were intentional; like that time you took me back to the convenience store so I could face the manager after I shoplifted several pieces of bubble gum when I was five. You taught me accountability. Or that time, when I was fifteen when you showed me how to fix a bad, home, hair coloring job. You taught me that no mistake lasts forever.  Or that time when I was twenty and holding my own baby and you taught me about gas drops that helped soothe the sleepless nights of colic. You taught me to surround myself with wisdom and experience.

Other lessons were unintentional, and took a little longer to learn. Like that time when I was nine and you left us with Dad so that you could go get healthy and whole. I had no idea at the time that you were teaching me that sometimes the best thing you can do for your children is get out of their way. Or that time when I was fourteen and you took me to church so I could get my life right and introduced me to Jesus and surrounded me with godly people that would inspire me to give my life to ministry in the years to come. You taught me that God is the answer to every broken heart. Or that time, not so long ago, after you said goodbye to your own son, when you showed me that we are made of a strength that even we didn’t know we had inside us. You reminded me that wholeness is what we choose to be, not what we experience in our circumstances.

As I look back, on every lesson, I see one thing in common. You have always loved me and wanted me to be successful. And no matter what has happened over the years, I have always seen in you a mother who would give up everything for the benefit of their child.

This Mother’s Day, more than every other, I want to say THANK YOU.

I wouldn’t be the mother I am today, without you.

Love,

-Brandi Lynn

Mother’s Day 2017

Dear Mom,

Thank you for your prayers!! You taught me from a very young age what it meant to preserve and take everything to God in prayer!!

Because of you, I know how to pray to God in the good times and in the bad!! Thank you for your love!! We knew you loved us. I mean you gave us presents on your birthday.

You also opened your heart and our home to those in need!! Even after you raised the 4 of us, you fostered others!! Because of you, I know unconditional love and how to love unconditionally!!

Thank you for giving!! You’d always quote Luke 6:38, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

You were always giving even when it seemed like there was nothing to give. Because of you, I know that God is always faithful to His promises!!

I am the woman, mom, sister and friend that I am today because of you!! Thank you for always being there!! I love you!!

-Alicia

Mother’s Day 2017

Dear Mom,

When Daddy died that morning, I can’t imagine all the thoughts that went through your mind, all the dreams that shattered, all the hope that was lost. He had surrendered to his battle with depression, but your battle with trying to rebuild was just beginning. I can’t imagine the days, weeks, and months that followed, as your heart broke again every time I called out, “Dada?” or as your soul cried out in anguish every time you saw another woman spending time with her husband, another child able to hug their Daddy. I can’t imagine the ways in which you wrestled for years as you tried to make sense of your loss; as you battled against odds that tried to project failure and limitations on you and your children because of your circumstance.

The road that you’ve walked since that day has been indescribably hard. But through it all, you taught me that hope and love have the ability to carry us when we have nothing else to hold onto.

When I spent time with my Mommy as a little girl, I never knew that your heart was aching. I only knew that your heart was ready each morning to love me even more than you did the day before. It never occured to me that you might be so deeply missing a husband to embrace. I only saw loving arms, open wide, that held me as long as I wanted. I never saw your struggle with PTSD; I never thought that you might be scared or anxious, because to me, you were comfort personified. I never carried the burden of our years-long struggle with poverty, because I was richly loved, with all my deepest needs provided. I never believed that I was rejected, because you loved me for my best, even when I was at my worst. I never felt abandoned, because you were always there. You protected me.

You taught me that God is the one who takes care of our pain and disappointment so that we can be free to dream again, free to hope again, free to love again. You showed me that even though life’s terrain can seem insurmountable at times, there is a peace beyond our understanding. There is a Savior at the ready, who promises a light burden, and who brings us hope for tomorrow.

You believed that the best was yet to come, and you faithfully walked out this beautiful promise: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

Despite your own broken heart, you clung tightly to your Healer, and you delivered a legacy of love.

With immeasurable gratitude,

Maggie

Mother’s Day 2017