Pastor’s Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

One of the things that scared me the most about getting married was the fact that Portia would know everything about me. I worked hard at curating an image with her: I wanted her to be impressed by me, to respect me, to think highly of me. I wanted her to see me as always strong, always smart, always ready to take on life, to be the hero, the leader, the man.

But marriage means getting close — really close. And being close meant she’d see my ugly, my failure, my weakness, all of it. How can you curate an image with someone that you share a bathroom with? We slept in the same bed, we saw each other in the morning (my personal worst moment), we were together during our most exhausted and weakest points of the day. 

When we were dating, she would only see me when I had a haircut, a shave, a shower, a fresh coat of Old Spice, my best clothes on, a fresh piece of gum in my mouth, and after hitting up the ATM for cash. I was at my best. 

But close intimacy means that you can no longer keep that up. In fact, intimacy means you invite someone into your weird little world, and you allow them to see everything about you, including your morning breath, your ugly sweat-pants, your bed head, and without a shave in five days. We allow them to see us at our worst. 

It’s kinda scary. 

It reminds me of my relationship with God, except God doesn’t need to be allowed into our worlds in order to know about us: He already knows. Accepting the truth that God knows everything in your life can either be very disturbing or very comforting. It depends on your relationship with him and whether or not you’re trying to fool him.

Have you been acting as if God were totally unaware of your life in any of these five areas?

1- God knows your faults and failures, but He still loves you unconditionally.
2- God knows your feelings and frustrations, and He sees your hurt more than anyone else can.
3- God knows your future, so He can tell you what you need to know.
4- God knows your fears, and He wants you to hand your worries over to Him.
5- God knows your faithfulness, because He sees every good thing you do.

The fact that God knows everything is a tremendous motivator for me to live a godly life. I realize that nothing in my life is done in secret, nothing I face will hinder His ability to help me, nothing that is to come will catch Him by surprise, nothing I fear will be too big for His strength, and nothing I do in His name is ever done in vain.

We get much more than a new roommate with the Lord. We get someone who knows absolutely everything about us — and loves us just the same!

Amen?

 


 

Wasn't Celebration Sunday awesome? 11 people publicly declared their faith through baptism, 5 babies were dedicated to the Lord, we took Communion together as a family, and we enjoyed the best tacos in town. And the weather was about as nice as I can remember in early November. 

Already looking forward our next Celebration Sunday!

 


 UPCOMING IMPORTANT DATES:


Saturday, November 9: Men’s Breakfast

Join the Men of Meadows at this potluck breakfast for a morning of good food and good fellowship. Men of all ages invited. Starts at 8 AM.


Monday, November 18: Prayer Gathering 

Join my dad, Pastor Ron, as he leads us in another power hour of prayer, here at the church sanctuary, from 10-11 AM.


Sunday, November 24: Bring your OCC shoeboxes!

We officially launched Operation: Christmas Child this past Sunday! The last Sunday of November will be the final day to bring all our packed shoeboxes to the church. 


Sunday, December 15: Kid’s Christmas Play

Mark your calendars for our annual Kid’s Christmas play, a Meadows favorite. Here at Meadows at 6 PM. 


This Sunday, we’ll pick back up on our series on the life of David, A Heart for God.

We ended off at the darkest part of David’s life, when he committed the worst sin he'd ever commit, and was confronted by the prophet Nathan. We talked about how God continued to pursue David, even when he was lost in his own mess. What a great God we serve!

This week, we’ll take a close look at David’s response to his sin being outed. Psalm 51 is his personal prayer to God in response to this moment of his life, and it gives us a blueprint for what godly repentance and humility looks like. It’s beautiful.

Join us this Sunday for Part 12 - Good Grief.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the walkway!

Pastor Ronnie

Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

One of the questions I’ve had to wrestle with — not only as a Pastor, but as a dad — and one that I’ve been asked a lot: should we allow our kids to celebrate Halloween? 

It’s a good question, asked by honest Christians who are just trying to do the right thing. And seriously: it’s obviously got pagan origins, it glorifies the demonic and death, and there’s gotta be a better thing to focus on, right?

I think the bigger question — the question behind the question — is this: What parts of culture do we take part in?

This question pre-dates all of us. In fact, many of Paul’s New Testament Epistles were letters written to new churches that were asking exactly questions like that. They were brand new believers, not Jewish, and had their own culture and way of doing things, and they wanted to know how the Gospel should change things, so they asked questions like:

    - What day of the week do we worship?
    - What holidays can we celebrate?
    - What sexual practices can we engage in?
    - What foods can we eat?

Many of Paul’s letters addressed these questions, and they’re great questions! And every culture is different, and how the Gospel brings change might look different to each of them.

When it comes to cultural practices (like celebrating holidays), as believers, we do one of three things: Receive, Reject, or Redeem. We have to decide — for ourselves and for our families — which of these three we should implement. Let’s break them down.


1- RECEIVE

This means we take a cultural practice and embrace it as good and right, even though it’s not explicitly mandated in the Bible. 

An example of this is Mother’s Day. We’re instructed in the Bible to honor our parents, but there’s no specific mention of a holiday set aside for them. But we receive it anyway, and we do it with gladness. Get her a card and take her to church.


2- REJECT

This means we have nothing to do with these practices, no matter how popular or accepted they are in our culture.

We don’t have Christian porn. Or Christian heroin. Or Christian gang drive-by’s. We reject these things. Even if it’s not explicitly forbidden in the Bible, we know that the teachings of Scripture make it clear that we aren’t to engage in these practices. 


3- REDEEM

This means to take something that can be used for good or evil, or something that is morally neutral, and we use it for the glory of God. It all depends on the heart and motivation of the person doing it.

Some examples: social media. We can redeem that. It can be used for awful purposes, but that doesn’t mean Christians have to log off of Facebook. Use it for good purposes, and all is well.

Another example: money. Money is neutral. It’s a tool, and like all tools, can be used for good or harm. Believers redeem it, and use it for generosity, joy, and good.

Another example: holidays. Most of them, in my opinion, can be redeemed. 

And I say that knowing that good, godly people reject many of them! For example, the Puritans rejected Christmas in the 1600’s because of its pagan origins. They specifically worked at their jobs on December 25 in protest. 

It used to be the pagan holiday Saturnalia, and the 1st-century Christians decided, “We already have the day off, let’s not celebrate a false god on this day, let’s celebrate the real God instead.” And the rest of the Christian world followed suit. That’s a solid example of redeeming a holiday for the glory of God.

So what does the Bible say about Halloween? It says just as much about Halloween as it does about Netflix, Instagram, vaccines, and cell phone usage: it’s just not in there.

What IS in the Bible is that we are to stay away from the demonic, that there are spiritual powers beyond what we can see, and that the Devil and demons are real. So I think it’s smart to definitely REJECT anything — like costumes — that has to do with evil, or gore, or murder, or pain.

What’s ALSO in the Bible is a call to modesty and purity, so we can also reject anything that is overly sexualized, like ‘naughty’ costumes. We stay away from that. 

But what is REDEEMABLE about Halloween are things like eating candy, wearing fun costumes, knocking on doors in your neighborhood, meeting neighbors, making friends, spreading the love of Jesus, inviting people to church. Those are good things. And Biblical too. We can wisely engage in holidays and enjoy the good while rejecting the bad. We can redeem it.

All of this is to say: if your conscience doesn’t allow you to engage in Halloween at all, I respect that. Celebrate “Reformation Day” instead, the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, which was also October 31, in 1517. Dress as a monk, maybe shave the top of your head, and give your kids 95 pieces of candy. Enjoy yourself.

And if you DO celebrate Halloween with your family, do it guilt-free! Stay away from gory, ugly, demonic or naughty costumes, and eat candy to your heart’s content. You can do that and still love Jesus, I promise.

Either way, brush your teeth afterward.


What an awesome Prayer Gathering we had this past Monday. It was an hour long, powerful, fun, and uplifting. If you can make it to the next one, tentatively scheduled for Monday, November 18, from 10-11 AM, please be there. You’ll walk out fired up and refreshed!

 

 

Thanks to all who have brought in items for our extra Operation: Christmas Child shoeboxes! Much appreciated.

This Sunday, we’ll be collecting SMALL TOYS. Anything that can fit in a shoebox (without taking up the entire thing).

If you’re at Walmart or Target, grab a few out of the $1 section, and drop them off in the box in the lobby this Sunday. 

Thanks!


Portia and the girls get back home late tonight from their 10-day trip to Israel and Greece. The return trip, when you add up the flight time, the layovers, and the time spent going through Customs, is a 30-hour trip home. Yikes. They’ll be tired, and jet-lagged too.

But I’ve heard some amazing things from Portia about this trip. And they’ll be sharing about it at our next Wednesday Night Connect!


This Sunday might be my favorite Sunday of the year, for 2 reasons:

1- It’s FALL BACK Sunday. We gain an hour of sleep. It’s proof that Jesus loves us.

2- It’s CELEBRATION SUNDAY! Baptisms, baby dedications, Communion, worship, and of course: tacos! The weather looks like it’ll be just right, too.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the walkway!

Pastor Ronnie

Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

We’ve been in the middle of some really cool sermon series on Sundays and Wednesdays recently. Our Sunday series on the life of David has been a joy, and Robyn has led a Wednesday series on Psalm 23 that has been awesome.

Have you ever loved a sermon on a specific book of the Bible, or a specific chapter, or even a verse, and gotten SO much out of the teaching on it, then totally forgotten about it a few days later? I’ve listened to teachings before where I thought “This is everything; I will never forget that”, and then a week later I read the same passage and totally forgot what I learned. It’s frustrating.

It can make us think: “Am I even getting anything out of all this? Why even do it if I can’t remember it a few days later? Why read my Bible, listen to sermons, do devotionals? Does it even do anything?”

Can I encourage you? YES. It DOES matter. It REALLY matters, even if you can’t recall every detail of what you learned a year later. It still built you up, encouraged you, strengthened you, lifted you, connected you with God.

Think of it this way: do you remember what you ate for breakfast 17 days ago? Unless you have the same breakfast everyday, you probably don’t. But did it nourish you? Did it give you strength? Did it give you energy for that moment, that hour, that day?

Of course it did! Just because you can’t recall every detail of it doesn’t mean it didn’t do anything valuable for you.

Jesus tells us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” Yes, He’s referring to our physical needs, but also to our spiritual needs. He wants us to come to Him daily, to connect with Him, pray to Him, read of Him, rest in Him. Every day. Like eating. And just like eating, while we might not be able to recall every flavor and menu item, we still get nourished and strengthened.

Should we strive to memorize Scripture? Of course. Should we study? Absolutely. Should we listen to sermons and worship music and journal? No doubt. But do so knowing that even if you can’t remember what you read or heard, you’re still getting nourished. God’s Word always produces.

Like 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”


 

Thanks to everyone who brought pairs of socks for our Operation: Christmas Child shoe-boxes! We’ll be collecting specific items over the next few weeks, and with your donations, we’ll be able to pack lots of extra boxes for our annual collection.

Wash cloths are really valuable to those living in extreme poverty. If you’re at Target or Walmart this weekend, grab a pack of small wash cloths and bring them this Sunday. We’ll have a box in the lobby.

Thanks! I love this church!


I’m three days into the 10 days that Portia is in Greece and Israel, along with Adrianne and Robyn. A loooooong three days. I got seven more to go. Pray for me. And my kids. 

Seriously, the girls are having an amazing time. I’ve gotten some pictures and updates on where they’ve been and the places they’ve seen, and it sounds just awesome. They need to hurry home, though! 

Pastor Ronnie



Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

The one thing I don’t miss about my old baseball life is the road trips, especially the Triple-A ones. The early morning flights, the hotel check-in process (which would often be long and shoddy), the bad sleep, the fast food, the new environment. There was just something different about playing at home. 

At home, my wife and kids are there with me, I’m in my own bed, I eat food at my own place, and I’m used to the environment and field. On top of all that, we had our home fans cheering us on. Home field advantage is real!

In fact, statistical data shows that across all major sports (football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer), the home team can be expected to win 5-10% more often than on the road or at a neutral site. Home is home! And having a large group of people cheering you on often causes teams to far outplay their actual ability.

Why am I telling you this? Well, the Bible says that YOU have an audience cheering you on, everyday. 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT

Nothing you do is private. You have an audience. Heaven is watching. But that’s not meant to freak you out. It should encourage you, because it means you have a cheering section, all day long! The Bible says that everyone in heaven is cheering you on.

We know that God knows everything. The Bible says, “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2 Chronicles 16:9 KJV). The Lord doesn’t miss a thing. He knows your ups and your downs, every thought you have, every concern, every victory—everything.

But you’re also surrounded by “a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith.” Moses is watching you. Abraham is watching you. Every believer who has ever lived is in the stands watching you live out your faith. 

And they’re cheering you on. When you’re scared, they’re rooting for you to be courageous. When you want to give up, they’re urging you to keep going. When you feel insignificant and forgotten, they’re in your corner.

Everyone at some point feels like no one believes in them, like they can’t seem to get a break or do anything right. When you feel like that, remember you’re never alone. Your heavenly cheering squad believes you can do hard things with God’s help. And I believe knowing that can cause us to “outplay” what our normal abilities are. 


Amen?


Thanks to all for the Pastor’s Appreciation love this past week. Portia and I LOVE this church, and all of you. It really is a joy to serve here. Feeling really appreciated!



Pastor Ronnie 







Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

October is one of the greatest months of the year in Las Vegas — for several reasons:

1 - The weather. Everyone gets to break out their favorite sweater or scarf, but it's also not so cold that you want to run right back inside when the wind chill hits your face.

2 - Sports. All the sports. Baseball playoffs, College AND Pro Football, Hockey is back, even basketball is getting started. A sports lover's dream!

3 - Pumpkin Spice. My wife gives me a hard time about my pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, but I don't even care, they're soooo good.

4 - It’s Pastor’s Appreciation Month. It feels like it’s a gift from God Himself that it happens in October. 

You guys have always gone above and beyond in making sure your pastors are appreciated. Our whole team is so fortunate to have the kind of church that loves us, accepts us, and cares for us. 

You guys really do live out the passage in 1 Timothy 5:17 — “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”

Since you asked, here are three amazing ways you guys show appreciation to the pastors of Meadows (and I’m speaking for our whole staff, not just the Senior Pastors):

     A - Specific thank you’s. 

A pastor isn’t in it for the atta-boys (or girls), but they do go a long way, especially a specific encouragement, like “I loved what you said about _____”, or “Thank you for what you did with the youth last week” or “I see you working hard in the area of ______, it means a lot to me.”  

And we love it when the encouragement is not couched with “I don’t want to puff up your ego, but…” Believe me, a pastor is almost always more under-encouraged then over-inflated. The constant feeling of failure and not being enough seems to be part of the job. And you guys do an awesome job of showing support and specific encouragement. 

     B - Prayer.

I know that we have dozens of people that pray for us every week. You mention us specifically in your prayers to God. I love that we have a team of people who come early on Sundays and cover us in prayer before each service. It’s amazing. 

Pastor Ron calls the prayer warriors the “Cinderellas” of the church: the quiet, unnoticed group that does the hard work without fanfare, and all the while they’re the real beauties of the church. Your prayers carry us!

     C - Making our job easy.

You’re life-givers, not life-suckers. You honor us, follow us, trust us. You roll with the mistakes and fumbles, and you don’t create problems. You lovingly give feedback and insight, while still loving the church unendingly and unconditionally. 

You come early to church. You welcome new-comers. You sit toward the front —and in the middle of the aisle — so there’s room for everyone. You serve in ministries, you worship, and you love people well. I love this church!


The staff will have a box out this Sunday if you’d like to drop a note or a card or an avocado for Pastor’s Appreciation Day. And please know that we appreciate your appreciation!


Pastor Nate

Pastor's Weekly Musing



Hey everyone!

The other day I was driving my son to Jr. High, about a 12-minute drive from our house. Around half-way there, I started to “zone out”. My brain went from thought to thought, from one imaginary scenario to another, over and over. Before I knew it, I had missed the exit to the school, and was on my way to the church office.

My son finally said, “Uh, dad, where are we going?”

Ever done that? No doubt you have. There’s been times while driving that I zone out for so long that I can’t seem to recall the last 5 minutes of driving. It’s kinda scary, actually. 

Thank God for deeply capable brains, that are able to go into “auto-pilot mode” when our thoughts aren’t actively engaged in what we’re doing, when our minds are simply wandering. God knew if He didn’t put that capability in us, we’d all wreck our cars.

Although “auto-pilot mode” thankfully keeps us alive, it can be a horrible way to live your everyday life. Mindlessly wandering through life causes us to “miss the exit”, the same way I did with my son’s school. But the exits we miss in life can be far more costly: in our marriage, our family, our health, even our walk with God.

We can’t focus 100% of our attention all of the time, of course. We need rest, sleep, play, and fun, in order to re-charge our already overloaded and tired brains. But when we can, what SHOULD we focus on, as believers? 

I’m glad you asked. Think about these three things:


1. Think about Jesus.

You’ve likely heard the saying, “You become what you think about most.” If you want to become more like Jesus, fill your thoughts with him.

Hebrews 12:3 says, “Think about Jesus’ example. He held on while wicked people were doing evil things to him. So do not get tired and stop trying.” (NCV)


2. Think about others.

Philippians 2:4 says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (NLT)

Do you realize how counter-cultural that is? Everything in the world teaches you to think about yourself and nobody else. But Jesus was counter-cultural, and when you think about Him, you’ll more easily think of others.


3. Think about eternity.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT

When you start focusing on truths like that, all of your problems are going to seem inferior compared to the glory, the joy, and the pleasure of the things you have to look forward to in eternity.


Your mind is the battleground. Actively fill your mind with these things, especially when you feel yourself drifting into “auto-pilot mode”. A disengaged mind is a vulnerable mind, but an intentionally focused mind can keep Jesus at the center of your life — where He belongs!

Looking forward to seeing you all on the walkway!

Pastor Ronnie

 

Pastor's Weekly Musing




Hey everyone!

Last Sunday we talked at length about the community that God gave David — a distressed, discontented, indebted group — and that this community was of primary importance in the formation of David’s “heart for God”. 

WE’VE been given the same kind of community: the Island of Misfit Toys. It might not be what we expected, but it’s exactly what we need.

And why? Well, for LOTS of reasons. But one of them is this: we won’t be able to get through life without them. Just the presence of our community can get us through the most dire of circumstances.

In Homer’s classic novel, The Odyssey, there’s a part where the hero, Odysseus, is sailing with his crew on their way to their next quest. On the way, he finds out that he has to sail past the Sirens, the shrieking singers that cause anyone that hears their song to go insane and kill themselves.

But Odysseus finds out that he actually needs to hear a message FROM the Sirens in order to compete his quest. Quite the conundrum, right?  How does he deal with this?

He tells his crew to sail right by the Sirens, to put wax in their ears so they can’t hear their song, and to tie him to the mast of the ship so he can’t do anything harmful when he inevitably goes insane. He knows he’s going to thrash about, and scream bloody murder when he hears their song, but he assures the crew to sail on, regardless of what he screams at them, and once they get past the Siren’s song, he’ll snap out of it.

They do exactly that, and as expected, he goes nuts. But the crew, as instructed, sails on. And Odysseus gets his message and completes his quest.

We often go through similar stories, where life takes us through a season where we go a little nuts, and we need our crew to “tie us to the mast” until we come back to our senses. 

That’s our church community! Several hundred of us — just like David’ crew — that are always here, always worshiping together, always growing, always loving, always reliable. 

That’s our church. I love this community!


Will you join me in praying for our Mexico Missions team? They depart today for a 4-day trip and will be connecting with Meadows missionaries Scott and January Wilson. We’re looking forward to hearing great reports of their work!

Pastor Ronnie

Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

I love the fact that the Psalms were written by specific people, often for a specific purpose. Psalm 92 is one where we know it was written specifically for the Sabbath, the day of rest.

Here’s what was sung:

Psalm 92:1-4 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp, and the melody of a lyre. You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done. NLT

Think of it: it’s the day of rest, where everyone was required to unplug and lean into the presence of the Lord, to be reminded that their life is not sustained by their work, but by God. The Sabbath forces us off our self-dependence thrones and puts God securely back into center-stage of our lives.

And the psalmist starts it off by reminding himself “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” He has to intentionally engage his mind into believing that God has my good in mind when He tells me to unplug and focus on Him. It’s not simply another task: it’s the removal of tasks, for my good and His glory.

Then the psalmist gets specific.

He says WHEN he’ll praise God: in the morning and in the evening.
He says WHAT he’ll praise God for: his unfailing love and faithfulness.
He says HOW he’ll praise God: with instruments, music, and melody.
He says WHY he’ll praise God: He’s done great things that bring me joy.

Maybe you don’t have a specific 24-hour period where you unplug and focus on God, like this psalmist did. But whatever time you do have set aside for Jesus, know that there’s plenty of time to do it, plenty of things to praise Him for, plenty of ways to do it, and plenty of great things He’s done to recall. 

AND we know that focusing on Jesus always is for our good! Like the psalmist says: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.”

Amen?

Pastor Ronnie

Pastor's Weekly Musing


Hey everyone!

Jesus always had a way of getting to people’s true heart, motivation, and values. He would ask probing questions — not because He didn’t know the answer — but in order get the person to understand THEMSELVES better, to understand WHY they think and behave the way that they do.

We all need that. If I’m honest, sometimes I have no idea what’s really driving me to do what I do, what my true motives are, or what presupposition I’m living from. I need someone to ask tough questions to make me think.

Jesus does exactly that in an interaction with a crippled man in John 5. This man was laying by the Pool of Bethesda, where many disabled and disenfranchised people lived. 

“One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’”John 5:5-6

Wait. THAT’S your question, Jesus? This guy’s been crippled for almost 40 years, unable to provide for himself, begging for provisions day after day, probably had zero family, no wife, kids, nothing. Alone. For almost FORTY YEARS. 

And your question is “Do you want to get well?” Really??

It’s probably a question the man never even thought of for himself in quite some time. It can be really easy to settle into patterns that we didn’t originally intend for ourselves, but accepted over time, and now we never even think of a life that could look differently. And the question needs to be asked: do I really want things to change?

I remember having shoulder pain during the end of my baseball career, and feeling anxiety about seeing a team doctor about it. I never made an appointment, never complained about the pain, never even wanted to talk about it. I just took ungodly amounts of ibuprofen and grinded every day out.

Portia finally probed with some questions (after I woke her up again with winces from shoulder pain in the middle of the night): 

    - Does it still hurt bad?
    - Yes. But I’m fine.
    - Have you told the doctor?
    - No. I said I’m fine.
    - How long has it hurt?
    - For about 2 years.
    - What? Why haven’t you seen the doctor?
    - I’m fine. I take meds. Everything is fine.
    - You can’t do that forever. Seriously, what are you afraid of?
    - I’m not afraid, it’s fine.
    - Ok, but two years of pain is a long time. And you have team
      doctors ready to give you care, really good doctors that could
      help. Why not see one?
    - Because I’m fine.

This went on for days. Frustrating, I know. I didn’t even know why I wasn’t willing to go. I hadn’t thought of it. I was just used to the way I dealt with pain. It worked for me. 

But after more probing, Portia finally got to the root motivation of my unwillingness to see the doctor: fear. I was afraid they’d tell me really bad news, that something was really wrong, and that I couldn’t pitch anymore. It was fear.

After talking me through it, Portia finally convinced me to see the team doctor. I was fine. I had some inflammation in my shoulder that could be remedied fairly quickly with the right exercises and rest, and it was gone in a few days. What a relief! And it wouldn’t have happened without some uncomfortable questions.

Maybe God needs to get to the bottom of your motives. Maybe He needs to get you to think — why am I doing this? — before He can move forward with bringing healing and change. It starts with probing questions, questions that seem to be the simplest and silliest, like “Do you want to be healed?”

Be willing to answer those uncomfortable questions when they arise. Healing just might be on the other end!



Pastor Ronnie

 

Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

It’s been an awesome week at Meadows this past week. Sunday was a great day, and Wednesday Night Connect was bumping last night. I know I’m an employee and I HAVE to say this, but gathering with you all on Sundays and Wednesdays really does make my Christian life doable.

I know we don’t HAVE to go anywhere at anytime to be a true believer in Christ. We’re not saved by anything we do or don’t do: we’re saved because of what Jesus has done, and we receive God’s free gift of salvation by grace through faith. It’s a done deal, it’s finished, over, secured “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). 

But I also know that the only way I can really grow in my faith is to consistently gather with other believers on a weekly basis. Yes, podcasts are great, video sermons are awesome, and church-on-your-balcony-with-coffee-and-a-Bible can be really restful and refreshing. But for real-life growth, I really do need to be around other believers as often as I can.

The Bible makes it clear. “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Without a church family, you’ll drift when it’s tough to trust Christ. I can look back on my life and see times when, if I had missed a specific worship service, my life would have taken a radically different turn. And I’ve thought, “What if I’d skipped that service? What if I’d just slept in that day?” I would have missed something that changed the direction of the rest of my life. So if the church doors are open, I want to be inside.

A church is kind of like a campfire. In a campfire you’ve got all these red-hot coals. If you remove one single coal and set it far away, it will cool in a matter of minutes. The fire goes out, and the coal goes dark. But if you take a coal that’s lost its fire and put it back into the fire, it gets hot again. That’s the power of fellowship.

Stay connected. Make it a routine. We know God is gracious towards us during times when we can’t make it, or during baseball tournaments, or when you just need to catch up on sleep. We don’t need to feel guilty about things like that, ever. But to keep the fire burning on your life, stay connected to the campfire!


Pastor Ronnie




Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

One of the joys — and frustrations — of raising small children is getting them to sit still long enough for us to clean them. Two-year-olds seem to have a permanent case of the wiggles: they're almost incapable of sitting still.

And, of course, we laugh, play along, tickle them, and find a way to wash them up anyway. They aren’t really ready to understand the concept: “I’m trying to help you, kiddo. You’re dirty, and I’m trying to clean you, so sit still!”

I think God might feel the same way about me sometimes. I have “adult wiggles”: there’s almost always something on my mind that distracts me and causes me to have a non-stop, all-go, constantly-churning brain every day. And as He wants to talk with me, and love me, and wash me with His Word, I can’t really understand the concept: “He’s cleaning me. If I sit still for a bit, this might be really good for me.”

The Bible says in Job 37:14 “Pause a moment, Job, and listen; consider the wonderful things God does.”

What amazing advice: PauseListenConsider what God has done.

As my mind races each morning to the thousand things I need to get done that day, I can almost sense God saying exactly that. And just like you with your two-year-old, God has a way of getting us clean even when we’re oblivious to it, and even when we don’t make it very easy on Him. 

But may we join Him in the joy of the father-child relationship, and sit still long enough — everyday! — to be cleansed and loved by our Heavenly Father and His amazing Word.

Amen?


Wasn’t this past Sunday great? Missionary to Cambodia, Ted Olbrich, brought the house down with his awesome message. Thanks to everyone who donated toward his ministry: he sends his love and thanks to you all!

Also, Gary and Pat were prayed over, and they departed this past Tuesday morning for their 4-month missionary trip. They’ll be missed terribly, but we’re all so excited for what God is doing in their lives. Plus, they’ll be back in January, and they’re going to send some video updates every now and then!

Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

I always find it funny when I tell my kids to do something, and they give me the same confused responses and questions that I gave MY parents when I was their age.

Things like: 

   - 'Why do I have to clean my room? It’s just going to get dirty again.'
   - 'Do I HAVE to eat my vegetables, they’re so gross.'
   - 'Chores are the worst, why do you love torturing us?'

Any parent has heard all of these and more, AND we’ve all said similar things to our parents at some point. 

When we’re young, we just can’t see WHY we’re made to do certain things. At that moment, we can’t see the big picture, how it all fits into the plan, why it matters at all. In the moment, it seems chaotic and meaningless. 

Then the day comes when you finally see: you see how cleaning your room helped you take on responsibility and bring order to your little world. You see how doing chores against your will prepared you for times at work when you had to get things done. You finally see how mom actually really cared for you when she made you eat your broccoli. 

It’s the same with us and God everyday. In the moment, we can’t see WHY ON EARTH God would allow us into a situation, or let us endure a rough season, or allow pain into our worlds. It seems random and chaotic, like God doesn’t care at all. 

But we can be rest assured that God always has a plan, always has our good in mind, always sees the big picture.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV).

We KNOW it. We know it to be true in ALL THINGS. We know it to be true in all things that God works FOR THE GOOD of those who love Him!

Always!

What a profound truth: it is a cosmic impossibility for God to do anything other than what is best for me. I may not see it now, but someday I will. I’ll see how God has been orchestrating things in my life for my good, even the painful and difficult parts. He brings it all together for us, and creates a masterpiece.

It’s like a delicious banana bread. Each of the ingredients on their own are bitter and gross: baking soda, raw eggs, rotten bananas, vanilla extract, salt. Ingest one ingredient on its own, and it’s pretty disgusting. But put those ingredients in the hands of a capable chef, and you got something beautiful.

Trust God, even in the midst of the bitter individual ingredients of your life. He’s the Master Chef that is bringing it all together to make something beautiful out of it!



Pastor Ronnie




Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

The last time I made an appointment to see the dentist (which, admittedly, is far less frequent than I should), I partook in the silly behavior of flossing and brushing my teeth incessantly during the preceding three or four days. It was instinctual and compulsory. I HAD to do it. I HAD to put my best foot forward for the dentist, had to clean it up before I saw the expert.

Have you ever done that? There’s something about knowing you’ll be measured and judged that freaks us out a bit, and causes us to do whatever we can to clean ourselves up in order to be impressive, or to minimize our weakness, or to project strength and together-ness.

Why do I do this? If I’m honest, I do it because I’m terrified of being “outed”. I’m terrified of a dentist — a legit, bona fide, real-deal, educated, this-guy’s-opinion-matters dentist — looking at me and rendering a guilty verdict. So I (we?) brush and floss like crazy in order to mitigate the potential ugly judgement that we know we deserve.

Do you ever do this with church? Or even with God Himself? You ever feel like you have to clean yourself up before you’re allowed to enter God’s house, or even pray? We can treat God like the Ultimate Dentist, the highest, bona fide, real-deal expert, who is bringing measurement and judgement, and with them a guilty verdict. So I brush and I floss (spiritually), and hide weakness and project strength anytime I do anything with the people of God or in the house of God or simply with God. It’s exhausting trying to not be “outed” by God.

Here’s the thing though: if the cross shows us anything, it’s that we’ve already been outed! The cross of Christ declares emphatically that we could not ever “measure up”, could never “get it together” or “be enough”. Christ came and did it for us, on our behalf. The cross is the proof.

Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Did you catch that? Christ died for us “while we were still sinners.” That means: BEFORE you got it together. He died for you before you tried to clean yourself up, before you made it, before you “flossed”. And in so doing, He demonstrated just how much really loves us. 

That’s what real love is, after all: to love and accept someone without any strings attached, without a caveat, without a quid-pro-quo, without an expectation, without a demand of repayment. God’s pure love does that for us day after day, and the cross is the proof.

Let us come to God every day not with a need to brush ourselves up before we see Him. Bring your whole mess to God, all of it. He loved you and died for you long before you got yourself into that mess. And He’s promised to accept you and see you through that mess, today and every day. That’s Good News!


This Sunday, August 11, is Back to School Sunday! It’s a Meadows favorite, where all students, teachers, and administrators entering a school year will get individually prayed for by our pastors and elders. It’s a great Sunday to invite a friend!

ALSO:

This Sunday, we’ll be launching our new TODDLERS classroom! It’s for 2-3 year olds, and it will be in the room right next to the nursery (in the Main Building). 

Our Kid’s Department team has been working hard to make this a reality, and I think it’ll be AWESOME for the kids. It will re-configure our classes a bit, but don’t worry: the check-in process will be easy and streamlined in both buildings.

The breakdown in ages and classrooms will look as follows:

        - Newborn up to 2 — Nursery (Main Building)
        - Ages 2-3 — Toddler Room (Main Building)
        - Ages 4-Kinder — Kids Building
        - 1st-4th grade — Kids Building 
        - 5th-7th grade — Great Room (Kids Building)

The extra classroom will provide a great environment for all ages! We’re so excited!

(And don’t forget: we have a sound-proof Parent’s Room for families with kiddos that aren’t ready for the nursery, so they can enjoy the service without the stress of worrying about trying to keep their baby quiet. It’s accessible through the main lobby, and it’s awesome.)

If you’d like to join the team and volunteer in one of our kids classrooms for only one service a month (which is more helpful than you think!) contact Pastor Adrianne via email here


This Sunday, after our Back to School prayer time, we’ll start a new series entitled, A Heart for God: a Study in the Life and Legacy of David.

We’ll spend the next few months analyzing the life of King David, as told in the books of First and Second Samuel. 

We know more about David’s life than quite possibly any human in all of Scripture. His whole life story is recorded, from his humble beginnings as a shepherd boy to his ascension to king of Israel. We know of his glorious victories, as well as his massive failures. We even have his book of poems! 

All Fall we will study a man that is described by God as “a man after My own heart”. May the Lord say the same of all of us! Amen?

This Sunday we’ll look at the very beginning of the story of David, before he's even born, all the way in the first chapter of 1 Samuel. In this chapter, the story of Israel turns, and the path toward David’s kingdom is begun in the humblest of circumstances, by the humblest of women.

Join us this Sunday for Part 1 - Hannah.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the walkway!

Pastor Ronnie 




Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

I love how the Bible has multiple kinds of literary genre, seemingly one for whatever mood you happen to be in that day.

It’s like… “You want historical narrative? We have Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Nehemiah, Acts, and tons more.”

Or “You want some prophecy? We have lots of that at the end of the Old Testament.”

Or “Poetry? Please. We have plenty, the best the world has ever known.”

Or “Want to see a personal letter written between early Christians? We got you.”

Or “How about the Law? Or Gospel narratives about Jesus? Or Apocalyptic writings? We have it all!”

The Bible really is amazing.

One genre that is timeless and precious is the Wisdom books: Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs. They each come with wisdom of such depth that it often takes years to unpack their full meaning.

Take this verse in Proverbs 27:21 — “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.”

Wow. Think about what this is saying. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live (other than Christ), tells us that precious metals like silver and gold are tested and purified in a specific way: through putting them into a fire. The fire brings any impurities to the surface, which then can be removed by a skilled hand. 

Then he says that people are tested in a specific way too. Boiling it down, he’s basically telling us:

God tests us with success.

Does that sound strange? You might have an easier time believing that God tests us with stress or suffering.

But think about it.

We’ve seen success ruin people. The young rock star gets everything she has ever wanted and then crashes and burns. The athlete signs a big contract and then parties away his future. A business grows bigger than anyone expected, and the owner becomes reckless with expansion plans. When the politician — or the CEO or even the pastor — begins to read their own press clippings too much and think they’re invincible, destruction seems to invariably follow.

Experience tells us that more people have been ruined by success than by suffering. Suffering tends to push people toward God. But when people are successful, they often forget about God. What’s the antidote?

I love how God always reminded the Israelites after every major victory that HE was the one making it happen, not them. In Deuteronomy 8, He reminds them that He was the one who rescued them from slavery, who parted the Red Sea, who fed them manna every day, and so much more.

Moses tells them “He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

When we have it set in our minds that God brings the victory, we can have a healthier way of processing successes and failures in our lives, including what others say about us. Compliments and criticisms are like chewing gum: you can chew on them for awhile, but don’t swallow them!

May we always keep our eyes on the one true Source of our successes every time we enjoy them.

Amen?

Pastor Ronnie

 



Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

Check out this unbelievably insightful verse in the Book of Proverbs:

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”(Proverbs 4:23 GNT)

Long before psychology came around, God had this thing already pegged: your thoughts determine your feelings, your feelings determine your actions, and your actions determine your destiny.

It starts with how we think.

Our minds are really an amazing creation. It would take a computer the size of the Pentagon just to carry out the basic functions of your brain. Your brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells. Each individual cell is connected with 10,000 other neurons.

You are constantly talking to yourself — all the time. You’re talking to yourself right now! Research indicates that most people speak at a rate of 150 to 200 words per minute, but the internal dialogue that you carry on with yourself (self-talk) is more like 1,300 words per minute.

The problem is that in our self-talk, the overwhelming majority is negative! If you’re typical, you are your own worst critic. Right? You’re always putting yourself down. You could walk into a room smiling, but inside you’re saying, “I’m not smart enough. I’m ugly. I’m out of shape. And I’m always late.” Most of this dialogue is unconscious.

Here’s a news flash for you today: God wants you to stop putting yourself down

When you put yourself down, who are you really putting down? You’re really pointing to the Creator who made you. When you say, “God, I’m worthless; I’m no good; I can’t do anything,” you’re actually saying, “God, you blew it with me.” That’s why God says it’s wrong to put yourself down.

How do we eliminate that kind of self-talk? It’s NOT by trying really hard to not think that way. That never works. Negative thoughts can’t be simply removed, they have to be replaced.

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 

Actively think of the good! Think of the goodness of God, the good that He’s placed in you, the good that He’s blessed you with, all the good! Like Paul says, if there’s anything good in your life AT ALL, think about it.

On top of that, if you’re a negative self-talk person, there really is no greater antidote than having a consistent time spent in God’s Word. Study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and apply it in your life. I can’t tell you a better thing to help you raise your confidence level than to get in the Bible and start believing what God says about you.

Pastor Ronnie

Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

I hope your Thursday is going well, and in all honesty, it SHOULD be going well because today is July 11. 7/11. National Free Slurpee Day at any 7-Eleven convenience store.

I never even heard of Slurpee Day until I became a Youth Pastor, and I saw dozens of kids walk into church one night with Slurpees in hand and teeth stained by food coloring, when July 11 fell on a Wednesday. Apparently it’s a thing. Every year, on July 11, from 11 AM to 7 PM, you can walk into any 7-Eleven store and get one small Slurpee for free. You’re welcome.

Several kids in our youth group would tell us how they went to more than one 7-Eleven just to get more Slurpees; some even went to 6 or 7, driving all over town to get as many free frozen drinks as they could. 

As a teenager, finding a way to get free treats is kind of a big deal, right? And theoretically, as long as you never get more than one per store (the 7-Eleven policy), you could essentially get as many Slurpees as you want, as long as you’re willing to drive all over the place. Sure the stores get crowded, and the floors get sticky and gross, and the flavors run out by the end of the day, and the workers can sometimes be suspicious about whether you’ve already been there, but if you’re willing to go, it’s there for you, all for free.

It makes me think of what we as believers have in Christ: an endless supply of love, forgiveness, acceptance, and approval; all for free, for anyone willing to believe. What Christ accomplished for us results in us having the love of God in endless supply. 

Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”

I love that word, “lavished”. It means over the top, too much, excessive, more than is even necessary, like asking for a cup of water and being given an ocean. That’s what the life, death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus has secured for us: an overabundance of the grace and love of God. And it’s all free!

And this gift doesn’t run out at 7 PM, the floor doesn't get sticky, the flavors are endless, no one eyes you suspiciously as though you’ve already been here, and there’s no one-time-only limit. The best part is that you don’t need to drive all over town to find it: you have instant access, through the person and power of the Holy Spirit living in you, and through the work of Jesus Christ, to receive all of this love and more every day, forever and ever. Amazing right?

Enjoy your Slurpee!


Pastor's Weekly Musing

Hey everyone!

We’re back! After a glorious vacation, Portia and I are rested and ready to go. Thanks to everyone for graciously allowing us to step away and find rest and repose. It really was awesome.

Speaking of rest, I hope you have some fun plans for tonight, as we enjoy a long weekend in celebrating the 4th of July. My family typically enjoys a laid-back 4th, with some pool time at my parent's house, barbecue, and some sparklers and mini fireworks that the kids love. 

I’ve been asked before about the 4th of July, our nation’s Independence Day, not only about HOW I celebrate it, but also, as Christians, if we SHOULD celebrate it.

My answer? Yes! 

However you celebrate as a family, I say go for it. And do so with these two things in mind:

1- Our ultimate allegiance and identity lies in Christ.

Christians know that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). If we are in Christ, joined to Him by faith, all other pledges of allegiance have been made secondary and peripheral, whatever our nation of origin or naturalization. At the end of the day — and at the end of our lives — we are sons of God, not sons of Uncle Sam. 

We still have our loyalties — they may even multiply — but none goes this deep. This means that as we Americans sing the anthem together and pledge allegiance side by side, and as we enjoy the parades and fireworks shoulder to shoulder, we create and strengthen ties that only go so far. The blood of Jesus runs deeper than the blood that flows in defining or defending any nation.

2- Our posture is one of humble gratitude.

We should be amazed at the measure of God’s grace upon our nation. We as Americans have SO MUCH to be thankful for: from the beauty and splendor that characterizes our natural landscape, to the brave men and women who laid down their lives to afford us the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.

Americans are blessed, but CHRISTIAN Americans never beat their chest, never gloat, never act superior. Christians are stunned that God would lavish His love upon us in the forgiveness of our sins, and we’re stunned again that He would bless us — on top of all that — with an amazing home country. What a Savior!

So, we celebrate, we enjoy the day, we swim in pools and light fireworks and eat barbecue, and we do so with a heart posture that declares, “I’m humbled to be an American.”

Enjoy your holiday!


Looking forward to seeing you all on the walkway!

Pastor Ronnie



Pastor's Weekly Musing


Hey everyone!

We are gearing up to head up the mountain for a week of Summer Camp with our amazing Youth Group. This marks the 8th year of leading MYG and although we have been many times and we know that we are in for incredible week of worship, God's word and deepened relationship with our youth; I still have to be INTENTIONALLY EXPECTANT that God is going to do something this week in my life and the camper's lives. I can't just go through the motions or think that I know everything that is already going to happen at camp, as I believe that I can miss out on what God wants to speak into my life this week if I approach God that way.

 

It can be the same way with my day-to-day faith, am I expectant of God for anything or am I just going through the motions? Not that God owes me anything, He's already given me everything, but I believe that God wants us to have expectant hearts, approaching Him boldly. We all know that Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has a hope and a future for us, but I think that verses 12-13 is where we find the key to the expectancy needed in pursuing those plans for a future and hope.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 NLT - In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.

Praying with expectation that He will hear us, looking for Him wholeheartedly in everything we do. Pursuing His plans and future with EXPECTANCY is what we are called to.

 

Please pray for all of our Youth Group to be preparing our hearts now and to be expectant of all that God has for us up the mountain. Amen?

 
Thanks to everyone for your support of our Youth Group at our Bingo Night. We raised over $2,400 to get our youth to camp and every kid who needed financial assistance getting to camp is covered. Praise God!

Pastor Nate