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Tag Archive | "Cedar Springs Christian Church"

Self love


Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

While it is a great good to seek self-sacrifice and self-denial in our relationship with God and others, we also want to be weary of demeaning ourselves to the point of self-hatred. While we are called to be lowly in Spirit (Proverb 16:19) and to lay down any self-pride, we must also be careful not to demean our own selves. We must recognize and embrace the value given to us by our Father who made us good.

In the Bible, Paul illustrates the idea of not despising ourselves but the flaws and effects of our brokenness. (Romans 7:14,15, 20, 24, 25).  In this way, Paul shows us how to apply to ourselves the saying, “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” He then goes on to share that even with the guilt of doing what we hate, we still preserve great value as children of God. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God…and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:14, 17).

We cannot hate what God loves, whether this refers to others around us or ourselves. We need to hinge on God’s love for us to overcome the temptation of self-hatred. God loves us, and sent his son Jesus on the cross to prove it. The whole gospel message is built on His love for us. This love should remind us of our true value as humans. When we keep in mind our worth, it helps us to love ourselves in the balanced way that we are meant to.

We should not misunderstand this love with the modern day notion of self-esteem, which is simply an artificial “good feeling” about oneself. This balanced love of self is not feeling good about the nice things we can do. This is a love of self in which we seek the true good for ourselves, forgiving ourselves when we fail, and accepting ourselves totally with all of our talents and weaknesses, realizing that we are not perfect, but we are also not hopeless. Remember, God told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. How can we do that if we do not have respect for ourselves? We are created in His image in which we find our identity. That would indicate a whole lot of worth.

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Spring cleaning


Cedar-Christian-Church

Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Do you feel like your soul could use a good renewal or cleanse? Each spring arrives in God’s perfect timing and this year is no different. This stretch of the year tends to lead us into “spring cleaning” mode. The thoughts to restore a crisp, clean feel to all surfaces, purging or refurbishing the old and embracing the new. This unexplainable urgency to scrub and declutter every nook and cranny encourages a new spirit of energy. We actually collect enjoyment in breaking out the mops, brooms and dusters. We get a rush from organizing and cleaning out. Imagine if we applied this ambition and excitement to renewing our spiritual life this spring season.

How are some ways to bring forth this renewal of our spirit? Nothing will restore your soul like time with God. Find a place where you can have quiet and calm. No distractions, no time limits, no pre-planned structure, no agenda—just be with Him.

Another way to help your renewal is while you’re with God you might as well put everything you’re carrying into His hands, including yourself! He already knows about it all. You’re not hiding anything from Him. Nothing you’re feeling or thinking will surprise Him, and He invites you to cast it all upon Him—so go for it! (1 Peter 5:7)

Meditation of biblical principles is an excellent way to bring in renewal. Choose a passage, a promise, or a verse and just rest upon it. Chew on it slowly and let it sink deep. Find a place to jot down some reflections. What you meditate upon has much to do with your attitudes and actions (Psalm 1:2). Meditating on scripture is great, however, you can also try reading an inspiring book constructed with faith-based principles. Make sure it connects to some practical aspect of your life (Proverbs 25:11).

Serving or meeting the needs of another is an exceptional step towards great renewal. This could be your spouse, your kids, your neighbor, a church member, or a local business owner. There’s something really refreshing about choosing to perform an act of kindness “just because.”

A final way to bring forth a renewal in the spirit would be to try spending time with someone you love. This could be your spouse, your family, or a good friend. Right relationships are energizing. They have a restoring and renewing quality. Go ahead and spend yourself for others, but be sure you carve out time to be with those who strengthen you in the Lord as well (Proverbs 17:17).

This spring, let’s spend a little quiet time with God, maybe even while we’re dusting, mopping and decluttering. These are just a few things we can apply to our lives to help us grow and renew our relationship with God. When we engage in biblical, renewing activities then it’s only a matter of time before God breathes new strength into our spiritual life. Patiently enjoy His presence as He renews your strength (Isaiah 40:31).

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New year—new beginnings


Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

The start of a New Year gives us the feeling of a fresh start, a new beginning, and new opportunities. It is a time when people feel that they can begin anew with their lives. Common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more and eat healthier; or to spend more time with family. Still others include managing money better and being more organized.

Although there is nothing in the Bible or notable in Christian tradition about New Year’s resolutions, many good stewards take advantage of this time of year to become closer to the Lord. They may re-commit themselves to pray more, to read the Bible, or to attend Church more regularly. If you are looking for some helps in your New Year’s resolutions, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Practice gratitude. Cultivating a grateful heart is the hallmark of a Christian steward. Every day, express thankfulness to the Lord and to others. Seeing the good in your life will allow you to keep your heart compassionate and loving.

Encounter the Lord each day. Find time to be with the Lord each day, whether it is for an hour or ten minutes. Have a conversation with the Lord. Give your joys and worries to Him as well. Allow God’s love to transform them. Our encounters will keep our eyes and ears open to the presence of Christ in our midst.

Nurture friendships. Our friends are those we choose to be with, those with whom we spend our evenings, with whom we vacation, to whom we go to for advice. Friends are gifts from God who give us a greater appreciation of God’s love for us. Friends need our time and love.

Make a difference in your Church community. Believe it or not, your Church community can use your talents.  Offering your talents to your faith community is one of the most effective ways to feel useful and connected to others.

Consider living more simply. We cannot find fulfillment in possessions. They add nothing to our self-worth. Jesus blessed the “poor in spirit” in his Sermon on the Mount.

Get healthy. Studies show that most people in North America are accelerating their own decline into premature old age, owing to poor diet and lack of physical activity. Be a good steward of your body. Plan a complete overhaul of your diet and exercise habits.

Don’t give up. People give up their New Year’s resolutions because of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Remember, take it slow, be kind to yourself and keep trying. Resist the urge to throw your hands up and quit. You succeed through small, manageable changes over time.

Turn to the Lord. Ask the Lord for guidance, strength and perseverance in achieving your resolutions. In his letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul writes: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). If God is the center of our New Year’s resolutions, they have a better chance for success.

These are a few recommendations that may help get one started in the right direction at the beginning of this new year.

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From the Pulpit: Pastor Ryan Black


Cast your cares on the Lord

Are many of your life activities worrisome? I believe the most obvious answer is yes! God recognizes and understands this hardship, which is why He tells us to “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). Even many in the medical field would agree that “An anxious heart weighs a man down” (Proverbs 12:25).

If we look at the Bible, Christ speaks to us about letting our fears and uncertainties govern our lives. This is captured through a moment in the Gospel of Luke 10:38-42:

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” 

Don’t you think we can easily sympathize with Martha? At one time or another, we are like Martha overwhelmed by all the activities of our lives. We find ourselves trying to do what everyone else expects. We are going in many directions and then we become irritable, resentful and angry.

Christ’s gentle rebuke was for anxiety and distraction. We have no need to be anxious when we can go to the throne room of heaven and simply ask Him. Worrisome issues can lead to a separation from our spiritual life. God encourages us to balance our activities by adding prayer and Scripture with serving others. Surprisingly, when we add balance to our lives foolish anxiety vanishes. We don’t have to worry because we can simply let God know our needs. God does not want us wringing our hands with worry over things in this life.

Next time you find your day driving you crazy, give yourself a break. Take a deep breath and remember Our Lord’s rebuke and meditate on it.

Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

304 Pine St. Cedar Springs, MI

 

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Humility


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

Throughout the history of mankind, pride and boastfulness has attached itself to the brashness of men. Most of us are likely guilty of this to some degree. Consequently, God tells us to turn away from this notion and seek to humble one’s self. Humility is what God desires as it acts as an opposite of pride. Humility does not mean thinking badly of yourself, or trying to hide your accomplishments. If you know a person who boasts and brags about his successes, or acts as if he were better than other people, you already have a view of what you should not do. No one wants to be around a person like this. In contrast, the person who is humble gives credit where it is due.

The Christian who practices humility begins by acknowledging God as the source of all that is good in their life.  If he gains a success, he knows he would not have accomplished it without God. When you experience something positive, be aware that God is the source of the wonderful blessing. Your awareness of God extends to knowing he would not even exist otherwise. A humble person will defer glory and credit to God, not boasting in his own self.

Humility extends to hard events in life, too. When you experience a loss or a difficulty, these are also times to acknowledge God. The strength and courage to continue during hard times come from knowing there is a reason for your faith. Knowing God will not let you down or leave you results in faith based on humility. When pressing on is something you know you cannot do alone, all you need to do is acknowledge God as the source of your strength.

To acknowledge God working all things for our good is one part of humility. Another part is to be thankful. Learning to be thankful is a good place to start in regard to humility. While it may seem easy to thank God for his gifts when you are going through a difficult time or experiencing something very positive, humility requires consistent gratitude. If you start by thanking God for your life and every new day, being humble will become natural for you. Pride will eventually give way to humility. It may not happen overnight. It may have to follow a painful process, because pride can be very, very stubborn. Like an embedded splinter deep in the flesh of your foot, it is hard to remove. You cannot remove it alone, and there is constant throbbing and pain until it is extracted. This is the plight of pride. Pain and suffering are its cohorts. Pride provides a false sense of security.

Humble yourself, and trust God to humble others. It is easy to recognize pride in others while it is still looming in your spirit. Run from spiritual pride. It is the worst kind. It is insidious. It is self-righteousness in nature, and it chokes the Holy Spirit. Humility grows in an environment of honesty, openness, prayer, and change. Be a change agent on behalf of the humble. Humble pride!

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From the Pulpit: Finding Peace


By Pastor Ryan Black

There aren’t enough hours in the day to worry about all that is wrong. Whether it is world events, work, school, family or just life in general, there is always something to cause our fretfulness. Life creates many anxious moments. But when the pressures of life continually increase, you may feel anxious all of the time. The pressure can be so great that you wonder if you will be able to carry the load of anxiety even one step further. Fortunately, we have the anti-worry, anti-anxiety antidote: Jesus!

Anxiety is a mind thing. Jesus understands this issue and is with you when facing it as he can put your mind to rest. Christ himself suffered anxiety to the point of sweating blood. Whether you’re a Christian or non-Christian, stress is something we all face and agonize. For this reason, we need to recognize that Jesus is there for each and every one of us in our times of uneasiness. John 14:1 says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” Why do we go through stressful moments and phases in our lives? Scripture tells us it’s to build up our perseverance, endurance and faith (Romans 5:3-5). Typically, when we go through traumatic times, we come out of it stronger and more well-rounded as a person.

We are all afraid of something. And whether our fear is real or irrational, if we let ourselves get caught up in a sea of worry, we run the risk of drowning in it. While we can never be completely free from worry, Jesus gives us a sense of peace and comfort as we deal with it. John 14:27 reads, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

Cedar Springs Christian Church, 340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

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A Giving Heart


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Christmas is quickly approaching and for many it is a celebration where family and friends spend time together as they recognize the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. This time of year we are reminded of those in need and who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is wonderful that we have concern of those people in need, however, we often times become satisfied with solely having sincere thoughts or sharing kind words. While these are good things, we often fail to fulfill any actual giving or physical assistance to those same individuals. The Bible describes this very concept in James 2:15-16.

When we think of being selfish or greedy, we tend to think of mean spirited people who are engrossed in themselves and their needs and not of the needs of others. While there are people in this world who exhibit this Scrooge-type personality, the truth is, all of us demonstrate some greed and have self-centered tendencies. This tendency can get in the way of our willingness to give or to help those in need. The Bible tells us the importance of helping others throughout the scriptures including Proverbs 21:13, Proverbs 28:27 and in the parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37).

Why is God so concerned about us giving to and helping others? God tells us in Genesis 1:27:So God created man in His own image. This indicates that we are to be like God and to take on His traits. To be like God is to give. Our God is a giver and that’s apparent in the scriptures.  However, the most important thing God gave came around 2,000 years ago. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Bible also tells us to be Christ-like (Philippians 2:1-3). When we read the Gospels, you will see Christ consistently helping those in need. Therefore, God wants us to give in order that we may be like Him. The Bible tells us that a “giving spirit” cannot be forced; it is something that must come from the heart and should be an enjoyable act from within (2 Corinthians 9:7).

This time of year we are reminded to give to those in need. The concept of giving should not just be contemplated around Christmas. It should continue throughout our entire life, in order that a Giving Spirit may take over. When we become focused on being a Giver instead of a Receiver, it will change our life forever. Giving is something God intended for us to do to others just as He does for us when we face adversity. The Bible tells us that if we give like Him, we will be blessed for it (Proverbs 22:9).

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Don’t lose your joy


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church
340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

Does God want us to be happy? There seems to be some good evidence in scripture that God does want us to be happy and have joy in our lives (Romans 15:13). There are a variety of possibilities that one can appear to find joy and delight in the things of this world. We can seek joy in our families, friends, wealth and even our health. We can find joy in our careers, school, and of course, the countless forms of entertainment. These are all wonderful things we can enjoy and we should give God praise for many of these blessings. However, we must always make sure that the blessings do not become the source of where our joy comes from.

Our joy needs to come directly from God for who He is, and not for what He has blessed us with. If the joy in your life comes from the blessings you have received, then your joy can be taken away from you. You may also find yourself chasing the blessings thinking they will give you your happiness. If God is the source of your joy, your joy will never be removed or taken away from you (John 16:22) despite the blessing or blessings that are removed from your life.  This is why someone can lose a job and still be happy. This is why someone can receive a bad health report and still be at peace. This is why someone can be going through a family crisis and still feel comforted. Not that these things won’t sting or hurt for a moment, but God is our source of joy, not the blessings. While it’s great to enjoy the blessings and we need to thank Him for these blessings, we must not forget that we need to give Him the glory because He’s a loving God not just for the way we have been blessed. Unfortunately, many see it that way and will blame God for their lack of blessings and therefore think that they cannot have happiness.

God loves each and every one of us. Many have been blessed in different forms but as long as God is the foundation of our joy and happiness, it can never be taken away.

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Running the race—with a goal 


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

The Bible compares our walk with God to that of a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). It tells us to chase after or set our goal on the prize. This prize is an imperishable crown or the heavenly kingdom of God. This means everyone in the race should have that goal in sight. Without this goal, we can find ourselves running the race in circles without meaning or purpose. It sounds very similar to the story of in the Old Testament of the Israelites wandering the wilderness. They had lost track of their goal, which was the Promised Land, and ended up wandering around in the wilderness.  Finally, after 40years, Joshua and Caleb helped them refocus their goal.

While this race in life may seem easy, it is far from it. In fact, Paul says that this race is a fight and we must discipline ourselves so that we do not become disqualified from the race. When you enter this race, Satan is looking to set snares and traps in your life hoping eventually you’ll give up.  He wants to throw you off course and to see you fail from receiving your prize or achieving your goal. This is why the Bible says the gate to destruction is wide and the narrow gate leads to life. It can be tough. To hear those words actually comforts me. To know that God told us this life was not going to be a cakewalk assures me that it’s not unusual to find myself in a struggle from time to time.  The good news is you are not in this race alone. God wants to help you. He would love to see each and every one of us achieve success. He wants each and every one of us to enter the race and to look to Him for guidance.

Remember, when you are in the race you need to remain focused on the prize. Do not spend your life wandering around in circles with no goal in mind. Don’t run this race alone. Lean on God, trust Him to direct you. We are all in this race together and as Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, we must finish the race. As a Church, we need to encourage each other and pick each other up when we see a brother or sister struggling in their race. We need to understand that this race shows us that we all have purpose and meaning in this life to do God’s will.

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Forgiveness is a wonderful thing


Cedar-Christian-ChurchPastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

 

 

Sometimes one of the hardest things to do in life is forgive. When you have felt some one has intentionally offended you or has purposely done something that negatively affects your life, this can lead us to hold grudges, bitterness and even hate against someone for what they’ve done. Some issues are easier to forgive than others. Some people are easier to forgive than others. However, according to scripture, neither the person, number of times they wronged you, nor the severity of the situation matters.  Forgiveness is a must for every Christian’s life, not only for a healthy spiritual life, but a healthy physical life as well.

This is perfectly laid out for us in Matthew 18:21-35. In this passage, one of Jesus’ disciples named Peter, asked Jesus how many times should we forgive someone who sins against us? Peter answered with the question, “up to seven times”? Jesus response is extraordinary. “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. This is telling us that no matter how many times someone does us wrong; we still need to forgive every time. Release them from their guilt.

The passage continues with Jesus speaking a parable about a king who forgives a servant’s large amount of debt because of compassion. The servant later refuses to forgive a smaller debt of another individual. The king finds out and is furious.  The debts that the king had previously forgiven now were to be paid in full. Jesus explains the point of the parable. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” In other words, if we want forgiveness from God we have to learn to forgive others regardless of what it is. Ephesians 4:32 reminds us of this same thing: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Forgiveness is needed for a healthy spiritual life. But it also plays a vital role in your physical well-being as well. The mayo clinic claims that refusing to forgive can cause anxiety, depression, loss in relationships and numerous other physical hardships.  We need to release any bitterness, grudges or hate towards someone for what they may have done to wrong us.

Forgiveness can be hard thing to do. But it’s something we need for our own soul as well as our physical bodies. It also helps release any guilt from the person that has hurt you. God loves us all so much and He wants to release us of our debts and our sins. When we release others from their debts then God is more than willing to release ours. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing!

 

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