The scripture tells us that God created each and everyone of us to know and love. But the scripture also tells us the truth. That you and I made a choice to live as though love had never come. We looked at the life that God offered and we said, "No, we want to be in control, we want to call the...
This Christmas take some time to do some worship from home! Use this helpful guide to lead your home in honoring Jesus.
It was a cold, dreary November evening when the shipment of Christmas trees arrived at the lot in the middle of town. Most of the people were getting ready to celebrate their Thanksgiving meals. All of the trees being unloaded off the trucks were handsome trees of all varieties. Some of them...
The Bible tells us that we are to make disciples of all nations, but how are we to do that when uttering a simple invite to church causes our palms to get sweaty, sends our hearts beating out of our chests, and causes our mouths to feel like the Sahara Desert during dry season? Therefore go...
The church of the living God is called to be a powerful community of eternally inspired people who break the dark by becoming the ever-increasing light of Christ on Earth! In Matthew 5:14, Jesus said, "You are the light of the world…" He didn't say pastors are the light of the world...
When I was nine or ten years old, the most desired item on my Christmas list was a Dr. Dreadful Food Lab. It was a lab kit that you could make all kinds of jello molds shaped like spiders, worms and all kinds of unappetizing things that kids can't get enough of. Now being, by far, the...
The Christmas season is a time for peace on Earth, goodwill to men, and a whole lot of craziness. Between the hustle and bustle of getting to the stores, planning and going to Christmas parties, and making sure that you’ve gotten presents for everyone and their mother, it’s no wonder...
Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NLT) Putting Jesus First...What does it mean? What does it look like? Jesus said that in order to be his follower, we...
1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." It's like Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."To us who believe in Jesus, this...
During the Christmas holidays it is custom that we listen to Christmas and winter themed music. Many of us go out and decorate, purchase greeting cards, and look for ways to see close but distant family members. What we also try to do is make lasting memories with our children and spouse. Many...
Greater love has no one than this:
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
The greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.
Certainly we aren't called to die for our friends...are we?
Well, yes. We are.
If we mean to show the love of Jesus to the world then we must die!
We must die to self.
We must lay down our own lives -- set aside our prejudices, our rights, and our own desires -- for a better way.
A way of love.
There is no other option in Scripture.
If we want to live we must die to the desire to put ourselves first.
We must lay down our busy lives for our friends...
- We can lay down our To Do List and help a friend in need.
- We can turn off Netflix and be with our neighbors to start relationships.
- We can set aside our prejudices and instead show empathy and share God's love.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
Laying down your life and helping someone else pick up theirs is the beginning of a relationship that shows the love of Jesus.
And in case you were wondering, God has equipped you to lay down your life. He has equipped you to share his love. He has even put someone in your life who needs to know about Jesus.
What are you going to do?
Love has called your name and gifted you. Love is sending you and offering you the greatest joy of eternity--leading the lost home. Love asks you to lay down your life.
For whom will you lay it down? Who will you lead home?
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are often reminded of our “first world problems” on days when things just don’t go right. The drive to work is slow, the bus is late, the coffee tastes lousy, the day of work or school is demanding, the refrigerator isn’t stocked with the favored snack of whatever it is we happen to be craving.
We are grumpy, frustrated, irritated until someone finally reminds us these are first world problems - be grateful! Begrudgingly we agree but continue to count our problems.
Throughout the world there are problems to which we can’t relate. Problems we have no experience dealing with on an everyday basis. Daily problems that are found in third world countries. Places where the one water source is contaminated and is available only after a hike of several miles. A place where the average income is less than a $1 a day. Where education is only available to those who can afford it and are not needed to work at home. Homes are largely constructed of mud - the only available and affordable building material. Transportation is a scarce commodity if one would need to traverse rutted mountain roads. The local communities have been decimated by AIDS leaving children to be raised by older siblings, who are children themselves, or by grandparents.
Pastor Drew, in meeting his sponsored child for the first time, thought to himself, “These children are real.” They are real and they have true third world problems.
Imagine if you were able to provide an education and clean water to a specific child who’s name you know and family you know about. Imagine being part of supporting a community that is able to have sustainable businesses and services that once seemed impossible. Imagine being part of releasing a child from poverty in Jesus’ name!
Don’t just imagine, go do it!!
Compassion International is an organization that can and does make this happen with the support of people just like you. According to Compassion International regarding their child sponsorship programs, “All of our child development programs provide opportunities that encourage healthy development in four areas — spiritual, physical, social and economic.”
The Bible speaks specifically to our role in helping the poor. Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” God doesn’t tell us this because it’s a nice thing to do, he tells us this because he created us and in doing so he knows that joy comes when we give our lives to serving and caring for others.
Jesus modeled this compassion throughout his ministry. Ultimately he told his disciples to, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…” (Matt 28:19)
We are to go!!
Will you spend time focusing on third world problems and being grateful for your first world problems? Will you pray and search for guidance on how God is asking you to respond? Will you take the steps of compassion as Jesus modeled?
For more information on child sponsorship, go to https://www.compassion.com/child-development-model.htm. For ways to get involved locally go to severnrun.com/get-involved or call the church office at 410-551-6654.
In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down.
My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working in the preschool wing. Other than teaching Sunday School for the three year olds, which I’d done before I came to Severn Run, I wasn’t really interested in taking up any other leadership positions.
Last summer, I attended a church conference that encouraged those of us still in college to start Bible studies on campus, and to spread the Word particularly on secular campuses, such as UMBC. Initially, I thought about it, but ultimately decided I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t outgoing enough; I didn’t know enough about the Bible. I came up with dozens of excuses.
I went home, and life went on, until, last fall I was asked to co-lead SMASH when some of the original leaders were moving away. My mind went back to the sermon at the church conference, and after good deal of prayer and discussion with my parents, I agreed. It was scary and outside of my comfort zone, but this, I figured, was all God was going to call me to for a while.
My life continued to change, though I didn’t see it at the time. I’d kept in contact with Joe Thompson while he was in Hawaii with YWAM. [Read Joe's story here] One night, after attending a campus Bible study that was focused on missions, I remember telling him that I would never be able to do what he was doing. I couldn’t go so far away from my home and my family. I’ve never even been away from my parents for more than a week. I’m also extremely introverted. So many excuses, all saying that I felt I was not made to go to distant lands to teach or spread the Word.
Meanwhile, I was beginning to feel run down. My education classes, though rewarding, weren’t teaching me what I felt that I needed to know. They told me that I needed to adapt my lessons for students with learning disabilities and linguistic differences, but they weren’t telling me how to do it. I felt that I was inadequately prepared to be a teacher even though I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten. I began to pray about whether this was the career path that God wanted me to follow.
Not long after, I saw a video posted about a Teaching English as a Second Language Program at YWAM. The program would teach the students how to create lessons and units for English Language Learners, and then, because Hawaii has such a diverse language population, it would allow the prospective teachers to actually teach those students.
I was somewhat interested, but knew that there would be too many obstacles. I start student teaching in the fall, and the schedules obviously wouldn’t line up. The funds were also an obstacle. As a child in a family of six where the parents are now trying to put three kids through college at the same time, my family simply doesn’t have the money to fund this type of trip. Nonetheless, I was strangely compelled to look into the program, and the scheduling.
Surprisingly, due to the new law in Maryland that schools cannot start until after Labor day, I wouldn’t have to start student teaching until after the program had finished, and my job, which is directly connected to that of the school system, would only be marginally affected. UMBC’s academic schedule cooperated too. The more I looked into this option, the more it looked like God was giving me a good kick in the pants. It was as if there were a billboard saying, “Cara, this is where I’m sending you. Now, go. Apply.”
I’ve learned I’ve been accepted into the program, and I leave July 11. With some donations from family and a bonus for extra professional development from work, I’ve bought the plane tickets, and I will officially be going to YWAM for a 6-week program over the summer. I don’t know what God has in store or how He will provide the funds for the tuition, but I do know that God has a plan for my life. I can’t wait to see what it is!
Cara Campbell is a senior at UMBC, majoring in Literature and Elementary Education who works in the after school childcare program. She is the oldest of four children and has been a believer for as long as she can remember. If you are interested in learning more about this story or Cara’s mission trip, please contact the church office.
After your child has been dedicated (like we do at our church periodically), you might be thinking about your next steps and guiding them until they meet the age when they are ready to commit their lives to Christ and be baptized.
We’ll talk about what to do, things to look out for and just have fun, enjoy your little one confident in the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is watching over him or her every hour of every day.
Parental Unit Roles
In Proverbs 22:6, the Bible tells us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” As parents who follow Christ, we should ensure that as our children grow, we provide them a great example as we follow Christ. Every day they should see more of God and less of us. Children tend to copy behavior they see and are exposed to the most and that typically starts at home. Let us know as we have been entrusted with their care, that we are leading them in the way God wants us to.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
As a new dad, I did not know what to expect. I am the eldest of 6 and had minor roles in looking after my siblings but was never responsible for someone’s well-being 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My tendency was to worry about everything, what my new daughter would eat, what she would wear, what school she would go to.
In Matthew 6:34, we are told to not worry about tomorrow – so don’t. In Philippians 4:6 we are also told to not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. God’s got this, he took care of you and he will take care of your child. I’m sure some of our guardian angels look pretty shook up after some of the scrapes we came through and we have to give thanks for them – they deserve hazard pay. J
In a recent Luvs commercial, a mom constantly fusses over her first child, breaking out the hand sanitizer at a moment’s notice. When the second child comes along, she is a lot less fussy and even hands off the second child to an auto mechanic while she signs a check.
You may not be handing your young child over to a mechanic anytime soon, but trust God as you go through your daily routine that he will look after your little one.
Breaking all da Rules
Kids break rules, they push boundaries, they try to see how far they can go. This is a natural fact of life. Be aware of it, be ready for it and have a plan to correct it. Every parent goes through the same situation.
When we step off the path that leads to eternal life, God corrects us, because he loves us. As our children grow, they will develop their own personas and identities and challenge your authority, even break the rules that you set. In Proverbs 3:12, we are told that, “…the LORD reproves him whom he loves...” We love our children, so we must correct them. We provide great examples, set boundaries, and have to correct them once rules are broken.
It Can Take a Village
You have chosen godparents for your child, and you want to ensure that you stay on the same page as far as raising your child in a Christian home. Be sure they know what is expected and encourage them to do the following:
- Pray for their godchild regularly
- Set an example of a Christian life
- Help him/her to grow in the faith of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- Encourage them to follow Christ and to encourage others.
Everything’s Gonna be Alright
Somewhere between all the 3 a.m. feedings, nightly changes, nannies, daycare, after school sports, doctor visits and years and years of education, they will turn out ok. God has a plan for you and he has a plan for your child. Seek his will in everything and watch him work.
If you have questions about helping your kids know who Jesus is, or if you want to get them plugged into our children's ministry, please contact us and we will help you!
When Jesus responded to the question regarding the greatest commandment, he states in Matthew 22:39, “And the second is equally important, love your neighbor as yourself.” This verse puzzled me, yet it had a profound impact on my life for years to come.
It was a typical Sunday. My family, all dressed in our Sunday best, piled into our pale green station wagon and headed down the washboard worn dirt road in central Minnesota. Our destination was a small Baptist church in the heart of our small town.
We lived in what was a typical rural Minnesota community. It had a K-12 school, a volunteer fire department, and several churches. The main street held two small grocery stores, a bank, a cafe, and a hardware store.
I was the youngest of four and as a result I was constantly the target of every opportunity the older siblings could find to tease, belittle, and insult my very existence. A favorite tale one of my brothers enjoyed telling me was that I wasn’t really part of the family—Mom and Dad had found me in a trash can. My sister, nine years older than me, came at me from a different angle. She made it clear that my presence, including in the bedroom we shared, was an invasion of her personal space and a situation she tolerated but resented.
My parents were kind and hardworking raised in a time when children were to be seen and not heard, each dealing with their own childhood challenges. Under the guidance of the then popular Dr. Benjamin Spock’s approach to child rearing, they did little to nurture, encourage or guide their offspring. I was well fed, taken care of, and provided a healthy middle class life style for mid-Minnesota. Although I knew I was loved I did not feel valued.
The day I heard Matthew 22:39 now seems so long ago. I was in the basement of the Pillager Baptist Church sitting in a child size pew near the back of the small Children’s Church area. At the tender age of eight, I heard that verse as the leader read, “… love your neighbor as yourself.”
I looked at the Bible I shared with the child sitting next to me. I read it again. Did it really say that? I pulled the Bible closer, leaned in and read the verse yet again. I thought to myself, hmm, that’s easy. Yet it seemed so not Biblical. I read it again. Sure enough that’s what said. My next thought was, if that is what it says, I am to love others as I loved myself, then I don’t have to like anyone. I don’t even need to be nice to anyone. After all, I hated myself.
There’s a popular song played on Christian radio in which the songwriter/singer wonders about having a conversation of with his younger self and if he could, would he? He imagines he could warn himself of all the mistakes he would make that could then be avoided. He could make his life less painful, easier. Then he wonders if that’s such a great idea or not. After all it’s those mistakes that made him the man he is today.
Just a this songwriter ponders this idea, I too think about it. I wonder how my life could have been different if I could have embraced the truth behind Matthew 22:39. Instead, the words of Jesus became twisted and used by Satan to cause my life to be so misdirected.
There was choice after choice I made that were from a place of self hatred. I continued to attend church and Bible camp; read books, including the Bible, from cover to cover; tackled group and individual studies; and I had even attended Christian University.
The message my mind spoke to me daily never changed - “You’re worthless. God loves the world sure, but not you. He can’t forgive you, you have done too many horrible things.” I had heard these messages for years, from the time I was a small child well into my adult life. I appeared to be normal and well adjusted. No one new of my transgression or the battle within my mind. I was afraid to tell anyone any of the pieces. I knew others would be shocked and appalled at my behavior. No one would ever be able to accept me.
A few years into my adult life, the leadership at the church I’d been attending occasionally had a change. At one point they posted a sign at the front door that said, “No Perfect People Allowed”. Finally, I fit in! If anyone was imperfect it was me. Even so, I still couldn’t overcome that internal voice and I continued to make horrible choices. I’d pray for forgiveness vow to stop only to find myself repeating this ritual again and again. The secrets were getting too big for me. I couldn’t handle the anxiety and the pain they created knocking on my heart all day long.
Everyone has heard that confession is good for the soul. The thought of confessing this to someone else scared me. It created it’s own anxiety, putting pit in my stomach every time I thought about it. God then opened a door to someone willing to listen. Knowing the conversation would be confidential, I made arrangements to meet. As I blurted out my history the expression on the recipient’s face never changed. No looks of condemnation, no utterance of “you’ve got to be kidding”, no expulsion from the office. Instead there were kind words of support with a list of Bible verses to read as often as the words from Satan saturated my thoughts. These verses made it clear that I am an adopted member of God’s family. He loves me and forgives me of everything and anything.
I also I found that my sins were no different than many of those around me including the leadership within our church. This lead me to believe that if they were forgiven I could be too. I also discovered my value through God’s eyes. I am loved by a Father who is love. Over time I began to understand this value and God’s view of me. It changed how I saw and accepted myself and others. It gradually affected every aspect of my life.
It’s been a long journey from reading that set of verses 10-20 times a day to today when I have moved to reading other verses. I am traveling closer to Jesus day by day. Is it over? Am I cured? No, the struggle is real and I expect to be at battle until I meet Christ face to face. Until then, I continually remind myself that I am God’s child, I am fully forgiven, I am immensely loved, and I am greatly valued.
If I could have that conversation with my younger self, would I? I think so. What would I say? I would tell myself the truth behind Matthew 22:39. The truth that is laid out clearly throughout the Bible and the message of Jesus. I would tell me to let the truth that you are truly loved sink deeply into you. Finally, I would say to never forget you are God’s child making you more than loved, you are valued.
If you are dealing with issues of low self worth, know that you are valuable beyond measure in Jesus. Here are some verses to help you take those negative thoughts captive and meditate on who God says you are.
Romans 6:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.
Romans 8:14-17 New Living Translation (NLT)
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
John 1:12-13 New Living Translation (NLT)
12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 New Living Translation (NLT)
12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
Galatians 3:26-28 New Living Translation (NLT)
26 For you are all children[a] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[b] 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[c] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 4:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)
6 And because we[a] are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”[b] 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.[c] And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Ephesians 1:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
Ephesians 1:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.