Prayer Is The Path To A Life In The Light

Prayer is the path

2017 is like a field of new fallen snow! Imagine yourself standing on the edge of a mountain, down below you is a valley and in this valley is just a beautiful field of snow with no footprints. Nothing has been marred, it’s just a field of pure snow and you get to make your path through that field. Everything in 2017 depends on how you will depend on the light of God or yourself and the darkness of this world. 

When the sun is coming down and the light is hitting us, we’re ok, but when circumstances change and get painful and the clouds come and block the sun, things get dark pretty quick. The trouble is, that too often when circumstances get hard, our hearts get hard as well. When circumstances go dark, too often in my own case at least, my heart gets pretty dark.

I have the unspiritual gift of self pity. Any of you all have that gift? Worry? Fear?

The reality is, that all of these things are like gravity pulling down and we struggle in this dark world with rising up and living in the brilliant light of Christ verses giving up and lying down in the darkness of the world!

When I talk about darkness, it is things like anger, bitterness, sadness. The frustration that you and I feel, it is the pain that is often pouring into life. It is the vision of the future that just appears. Well, have you ever tried to drive at night without your headlights?

The light on the other hand is the joy and the peace and the love of God. It is the glory of God —it is hope! I’m just telling you as a person who is deeply broken and the truth is that we’re all deeply broken in different ways, I struggle with not only living in a dark world, but I struggle with having a dark heart and with living down and depressed and under instead of soaring on eagle's wings! (Isaiah 40:31)

And when we allow the darkness of this broken world into our lives (circumstances happen) but when we let it in, the darkness clings and it depresses and it festers and it makes us angry, it makes us broken, it makes us less!

So the power of this message is going to depend, in part, on you owning your own darkness. Identifying your darkness. What is your darkness? What is your resentment? Your un-forgiveness? What is it that depresses you and discourages you that makes the future look hopeless and the past look dominant?

Isaiah 9:2 says, “But the people walking in darkness…” That’s a description of our lives in this world, and part of the insanity of our life in the world is that we often don’t see the darkness and we call darkness light. In fact, the scriptures in Isaiah 5:20 says, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." 

That’s just the nature of what we do. In fact, all of our sin that we turn to, is us turning to something other than God (which is called idolatry) and we’re calling something other than God good when in fact it is evil because we’ve put it above God.  

“But the people walking in darkness have seen a great light…” That is about Jesus, “…on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2) 

Guys, I just want to say that 2017 can be the most brilliant year of our lives! It can be full of light. Full of hope. Full of joy. Full of peace. The truth is, the way that we get to the light in a dark world and the way that we live overcoming and not dying down is through prayer! 

Prayer is the path to a life in the light!

So you and I don’t have to live dying down. We don’t have to live angry. We don’t have to live dabbling with sin and destruction! We can live in the freedom of the glorious light of God! 

It is amazing when the light comes on, how fearless you can be! When the light comes on, fear begins to evaporate. When the light comes on, anger begins to recede. When the light comes on, forgiveness begins to flow. When the light comes on, we can see the insanity!

Prayer is the path to a life in the light so that no matter how hard circumstances are, no matter how difficult the moment or the day or the year is, we are not in the dark —we are alive in the light of God. Everything depends on how we depend! -Dr. Drew Shofner

Posted by Dr. Drew Shofner with

Why Jesus Matters

 

Be like the Son of Man.
He did not come to be served.
Instead, he came to serve others.
He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.

(Matthew 20:28 NIRV)

 

What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth? That he laid down his heavenly Glory, and stepped into the world as a baby. To grow and live. To follow God with every breath, every step. To show us the way.

The way of love.

The way of peace.

The way of joy.

Do you know the love of Jesus? A love so deep that he calls you brother. The love that put you first when he gave his life for you so you could be with him for all eternity.

Do you know the peace of Jesus? The peace that passes all understanding. The peace that covers you when everything is chaos. The peace that breathes, “Be still, I AM.”

Do you know the joy of Jesus? The joy of knowing you are a child of the King. The joy of knowing that if God is for you nothing can stand against you. The joy of a fellowship with God that gives you purpose and passion.

If you don't know these things, you can when you get to know Jesus. When you decide that your way is inadequate and the only way to really have life is by allowing Jesus to lead your every step.

If you know Jesus, it’s time to act. Time to make it real. Time to share this love, this peace, this joy, with a world that is broken and hurting; a world that needs to know how much Jesus loves them.

How will you share Jesus with the world in 2017?

 


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Operation Christmas Child 2016 - it's a wrap!

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Severn Run had another amazing year serving and collecting for Operation Christmas Child. Each year Severn Run serves as a drop-off location during National Collection Week.

Here’s what happened this year:

  • 650 filled shoeboxes were returned to Severn Run
  • 3,657 shoeboxes were brought from outside the church and processed through the Church at Severn Run relay center
  • 24,940 shoeboxes were processed elsewhere and loaded at the Church at Severn Run filling four semi-trailers (representing a 9.5 % growth over last year's total)
  • Over 200 volunteer hours during collection week
  • The Church at Severn Run also sent 5 teams to the Baltimore processing center, totaling over 30 people

 

Operation Christmas Child offers a great opportunity to experience the spirit of Christmas that can leave lasting impressions. This opportunity also gives children a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus. My wife, who had participated in gifting boxes as a child, recalls the impact that experience had on her in terms of understanding how she could share God's love with a little girl of her same age halfway around the world. She also enjoyed feeling connected to someone who would delight in the same things she did. This is something that she still thinks of now as she continues to support Operation Christmas Child each year.

 

As for me, this was my first year packing a box and I really enjoyed it! I saw a few interviews with children who had received boxes and spoke of the love and importance they felt after receiving their gifts, which lead them to coming to know Jesus as lord of their lives. This was very encouraging for me and I became excited to help out. I had a lot of fun putting myself in the place of a 10-14 year old boy when selecting gifts for my shoebox this year. It had been a while since I got to check out slingshots and toy cars. 

The true spirit of Christmas is exemplified in Operation Christmas Child, where simple gifts in shoeboxes bring pure joy and love to children around the world. Along with the shoebox gifts, each child is invited into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which offers them the greatest gift that one could imagine. Samaritan's Purse estimates that over 150,000 volunteers have collected and distributed the shoebox gifts to 12 million children this year. This is a remarkable example of God's love for us as we share with those who could otherwise miss out on that love.

 

If you are interested in a life-changing experience with Operation Christmas Child, you don’t have to wait until next year. Here are some ways you can serve:

  • Being on the Church at Severn Run's lead team; which includes planning displays and setup fro Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week, serving at Chik-fil-a drop off days, and helping on Sunday's handing out shoeboxes, answering questions and such.
  • Operation Christmas Child has year-round volunteer opportunities available as well, of which both Elaine Stolarek-Houston and Pastor Steve are a part of. These teams include: Church Relations, Community Relations, Prayer team, Collection Network team, Student Relations, Media Relations, Admin Support, Logistics and Leadership.

We would love to have you on either of these teams. Please contact Pastor Steve at , or Elaine at , if you have questions or want to get involved.

 

What is Worship?

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Worship. How many of us have used that term without really knowing what it means? Is it singing songs to God? Is it what I do Sunday mornings at church? Can I do it with my family during the week or on my own in quiet moments? What does it mean to worship?

At a basic level, the word worship comes from the idea of ascribing worth to something or someone. The value that I place on any particular thing in my life shows the level of worth it has to me. Worshiping someone (or something) is a reflection of the value that you have given to that object in your life. When we worship God, we are ascribing worth to him, telling him that he is valuable to us.

So here is the reality about how God has made us: humans are created to worship. God has designed us in such a way that our hearts and our souls are ALWAYS worshiping. There is no ON/Off switch to this worship thing. It is always ON. We are always ascribing worth to things and people in our lives. So if I am always worshiping, the all-important question I have to ask myself is what is the object of my worship? What is it in my life that I place the most value towards?

Here are a couple of question that are helpful to think through when determining what you value most in your life.

  • What makes you the most angry?
  • What do you spend the majority of your free time thinking about?
  • What is your life organized around (work, kids, TV Shows, sports)?
  • What brings you the most happiness?
  • What do you look to for your security?
  • From where do you get your own sense of value or worth?

All of these questions help us evaluate what we value most. What your heart treasures most, you will find yourself worshiping.

God created us to be creatures of worship. He wants to be the center of our lives and the object of our worship. We have the opportunity to show God value and worth in our lives, to worship him, every minute of every day. The Apostle Paul offers a heartfelt encouragement to the church in Rome to worship God with their entire lives.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1).  

Paul offers us an insightful picture. My body is to be presented to God as my worship. That means that everything I do is meant to be worship, meant to be pleasing to God. Everything that I do with my hands, everything I say with my mouth, everything I dwell on in my head, every desire that I kindle in my heart—all of it is meant to be worship toward my creator. It’s overwhelming when I really stop and think about it and the implications for my life. Every moment of my day is worship. Every conversation I have is worship. Every time I interact with my boss, my children, my spouse, other drivers on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, or even that neighbor who really gets on my nerves, I have a chance to honor God, to worship God.

Singing praise and worship songs at church or even on the radio in the car are certainly acts of worship. But hopefully, my worship of God will extend far beyond the 75 minutes I spend in the church building on Sunday or some songs that I sing along to in the car while I’m driving.

Hopefully, as I set my gaze upon the Lord each morning, and open my heart to the Spirit’s leading in each moment, my heart will begin to treasure God more and more. As I preach the amazing grace of the Gospel of Jesus to myself everyday, and I consider how much Jesus loves me, I will treasure him more and more.

Because what I treasure, I will worship.

Posted by Christian Groenendal with

Jesus Came For Me

Jesus came for me

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 shots!"

The scripture says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Now we live in this crazy gap between where God wants us to be, in His love, and on the other side, the scripture says that "The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) 

This death is serious! It's eternal. It separates us, it twists us --it makes us angry! 

It leads us down paths where we hurt people and it leads us to do stupid things sexually. It leads us to try other things to make us feel good in terms of chemicals and drugs and parties and gambling and all kinds of lies because the party always ends but the love of God never does!

And so the scripture says that God loved us so much that He built a bridge! This bridge was the life of Jesus! This was the love of Jesus! (John 3:16) 
 
Jesus died on that cross for you and for me, that we might believe in Him in a whole-hearted way, not in a distance way. Jesus died for us to lead us to die as well! To die to the death in us. To die to the anger in us. To die to the prejudice in us. To die to the hate in us. To die to the self in us! And when we're willing to die, then we get to live!
 
Jesus came and paid our death penalty completely. He died for us and He built a bridge and now we simply just have to choose whether or not we're willing to go across the bridge to the other side. -Dr. Drew Shofner
Posted by Dr. Drew Shofner with

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