Afterthoughts | January 26, 2020

JANUARY 26, 2020

Listen now…

Morning Message: “EXPLORE THE CORE – PART 3”

On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee. 

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

Places of Great Treasure

Healthy homes are central to God’s design. The Bible is anything but silent about home life. Today, I want to share three truths about healthy homes.

1. Healthy homes are built and protected by God.

Who is building and protecting your home?

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” – Psalms 127:1

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 6.44.44 PMPrayer is God’s way of getting us in line with His design. One thing you can’t recycle, return, or get a refund on is wasted time. Time is non-refundable. But, time spent in prayer is never wasted time. He who waits on God wastes no time. Who is praying for your home?

Difficult time will come in every home. In Matthew 6, Jesus said, “do not worry.” Most of us understand worry because we experience it. In the Greek language, worrying means to be divided in your mind. The word “worry” in the Bible has two root words – “divided” and “mind.” This is the exact opposite from being held together.

“The wicked are overthrown and are no more, but the house of the righteous will stand.” – Proverbs 12:7

God knows our needs, and we can trust Him to provide. Are you trusting God to meet your needs today? Healthy homes are built and protected by God.

2. Healthy homes are built with wisdom.

There’s a story about a proud young man who came to Socrates asking for knowledge. He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge.” Socrates recognized a pompous numbskull when he saw one.

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 5.37.35 PMHe led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest-deep into water. Then he asked, “What do you want?” “Knowledge, O wise Socrates,” said the man with a smile. Socrates put his strong hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him underwater.

Thirty seconds later, Socrates let him up. “What do you want?” he asked again. “Wisdom,” the young man sputtered, “O great, wise Socrates.” Socrates crunched him under again. Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five. Forty seconds. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping. “What do you want, young man?” Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Knowledge, O wise and wonderful…” Socrates jammed him under again. Forty seconds passed… fifty… he pulled him up again.

Socrates asked him again, “What do you want?” “Air!” he screeched. “I need air!” “When you want knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge.”

“By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.” – Proverbs 24:3  

Biblical wisdom is seeing life realistically from God’s perspective. There is no better vantage point to see what is happening in our lives than from God’s perspective. He is the ultimate gauge for both physical and spiritual things. God can see the future in the same way that we see the past. He has infinite knowledge of both actual and potential things to come. 

How awesome is it that this all-knowing Being has a plan for you and for me. Have you ever asked God for greater vision? Who is praying for wisdom in your home? Are you searching diligently for wisdom? Healthy homes are built with wisdom.

3. Healthy homes are places of great treasure.

Let me explain what I mean. The Greek word for blessed, makarios, was the name of an island off of Greece—the Makarios Island. It was known as the blessed island because it was self-contained. The residents there didn’t need to leave the island in order to get their needs met. 

Screen Shot 2020-01-22 at 5.37.44 PMThe island offered everything that they needed. The natural resources of the blessed island were so thick, so rich, so fruitful, and so productive that everything they needed to enjoy their lives was already built-in. The inhabitants of the island were self-sustained and self-contained without having to run to another island to get their needs met. The blessed island provided everything they needed.

Is your home like that island? Your home is designed to be blessed by God. All the stuff you get is outside of you. In the biblical world of being blessed, you should be okay being on the island. Just being in the Kingdom with the King ought to put you in a blessed location.

One way to know that you aren’t blessed yet in the biblical sense of the word is that you need to keep leaving the island to have fun. You need more than your relationship with God to have peace. You crave more than your communion with the Father to have joy.  

“In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but trouble befalls the income of the wicked.” – Proverbs 15:6

Healthy homes are places of great treasure. Healthy homes are central to God’s plan. Do you want to be blessed? None of this works without Christ. Find your sufficiency with Him.

 

How Healthy Is Your Home?

Everybody has a home.

A lady working kids at her church once asked, “Where is God’s home?” The class was silent for a moment, and then a little boy raised his hand. When the teacher asked him where God’s home was, he answered confidently, “In the bathroom at my house!” 

“Why do you say that?” the teacher asked. He replied knowingly, “Because every morning my mom bangs on the bathroom door and says, ‘My Lord, are you still in there?'”

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 10.57.45 PM

Everybody has a home. We have hometowns and home teams. Even God has a home in heaven. God invites us to have a healthy home here on earth. But it seems that there is always something that comes up that threatens the health of our homes. What is threatening the health of your home today? Think about that for a minute. What is threatening the health of your home today?

Beyond participating in our democracy, Christians have a high calling to be the change we wish to see. The apostles were so Christlike that their enemies saw their “boldness” and “recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). The light that shines the farthest is always the brightest at home.

As Chuck Colson famously noted, “The Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One.” The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. 

Healthy Homes = Healthy Communities

Healthy Communities = Healthy States

Healthy States = Healthy Countries 

Healthy Countries = Healthy World

WE NEED STRONG HEALTHY CHRISTIAN HOMES

How important is having a healthy home to you? Healthy homes are central to God’s plan. Let’s look together at God’s Word and see what we can pick up and take with us. The Bible is anything but silent about home life. Here are three valuable Biblical lessons about our lives at home. 

1. The first human punishments were a loss of home.

“The Lord God sent him out (Adam) from the garden of Eden” – Genesis 3:23

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 10.57.56 PM

Adam lived 930 years before he died, and he never got back home. But he was just the beginning. Consider Cain and Abel. The narrative focuses our attention on Cain’s angry response to God. This was his decision. It was possible for Cain to recover from sin quickly if he did the right thing. But he pursued si n’s anger, and the result was sin’s mastery over him. This showed the spread of sin from Adam’s family to his descendants. Not only did sin affect everyone, but people became progressively more wicked as time passed.

“You (Cain) shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” – Genesis 4:12

Though the writer of Genesis wants to highlight the parallels between the two stories, he does not regard the murder of Abel simply as a rerun of the fall. There is development: sin is more firmly entrenched, and humanity is further alienated from God. Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod. “Nod” means “wandering,” The very name of the place where he lived also reminded him of his sentence.

2. Healthy homes are a prerequisite for church leadership.

“If someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” -1 Timothy 3:4-5

The home is the proving ground for church leadership. Paul listed 15 characteristics that should mark the life of a man who aspired to serve as an elder. In that list, Paul said that he must manage his own household wellPaul also says the same thing about Deacons managing their homes well.

3. God has an eternal home for you and me.

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 10.58.07 PM

Have you ever wondered about what happens after you die? Many people want to hear about how they can have their best life now. But that is shortsighted and faulty thinking. Your best life now? What a sham! If you are a Christian, I want you to know that you can’t have your best life NOW. Compared to what God has planned in eternity, this world has nothing for you or for me.

There is a payday for believers. We will be rewarded. Christians will all stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment is for reward and not reprimand. The Christian life is about delayed gratification. We have a future home in heaven.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms.” John 14:2

This world is not designed to be the best of all possible worlds. This world is designed to be the best of all possible ways to get to the best of all possible worlds. Heaven is our home. In the meantime, remember that everybody has a home. Healthy homes are central to God’s plan. How important is having a healthy home to you? What is threatening the health of your home today?

Are You a Fraud Like Me?

WRITTEN BY: Wendy Cutchins

Do you ever wonder if you are living up to who everyone else thinks you should be? Do you ever wonder if you are living up to who YOU think you should be? You’re not alone! The truth is, everyone battles with self-confidence, but genuine self-confidence is found in who you are in Christ. 

In a recent sermon, I heard this thought. “No one but God can tell you who you should be.” This statement hit home with me. Despite the things God has orchestrated in me, and through me, I often battle with something called imposter syndrome. I’m a fraud…or at least I believe I am. 

Imposter syndrome is a prevalent issue that many of the most successful people deal with. It is the persistent inability to believe that your success is deserved and legitimately achieved as a result of your God-given talents and skills. Common “symptoms” include negative self-thoughts, dwelling on past mistakes, feeling inadequate, or feelings of not being good enough. Research shows that as much as 70% of people experience it at some point in their lives.

Let me give you an example of how this normally plays out for me. I have twenty years of teaching experience. I am certified in multiple areas and have earned national board certification. My peers have named me Teacher of the Year twice in my career, and I have held several leadership positions that involve mentoring others. You would think that I walk into work every day feeling like an expert. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I question every aspect of my success and whether it is legitimate.Whether it’s imposter syndrome or some other wall that Satan has built to keep you from achieving what God has planned for you, God is greater! Trust that what you have accomplished using the gifts and talents that God has given are legitimate and should be celebrated. Here are a few things to remember…

1. Learn to see yourself as God sees you.

In Psalm 139:13-14, it states that God “knit you together in your mother’s womb” and that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God does not make mistakes. He has made you exactly as you should be to accomplish his purpose for you. 

2. Genuine self-confidence is found in who we are in Christ.

Because you were created with a purpose, God began a good work in you from the beginning that he will finish in His timing. Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 1:6 that, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Paul had no doubt that God would continue the work he started in them. God has the same plan for you.

3. Do your best and trust that the Lord will use it.

You do not have to be the smartest, strongest, most productive, or most efficient person. You don’t have to stress about your weaknesses or compare yourself to others. You just have to trust that God is in control and has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 17:7 says, “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” You can have confidence knowing He is there with you, walking with you step by step through it all. Don’t worry about being who you or others think you should be. Be who God wants you to be.

Be the best YOU!

Afterthoughts | January 19, 2020

JANUARY 19, 2020

Morning Message: “EXPLORE THE CORE – PART 2”

On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee. 

Listen now…

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

God, Can You Bless My Mess?



God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

capture-line-in-the-sandDo God’s priorities take first place in your life? Most of us would say yes while secretly struggling with the idea that God can and would use us. It is humbling to think that the Creator of everything would be interested in using us. Especially when you consider all the flaws we have and the mistakes we have made. Our spiritual resume must not be very impressive to God. Maybe you would say, “I’m completely on empty. I have messed everything up and am too far gone for God to help me.” I want to talk to people who would say that their power tank is on low. God cares for you and wants to give you the power to keep going. No matter how much you messed up, God’s grace can work it out.

I love the imagery of God drawing a straight line with a crooked stick. Would you admit to being that crooked stick? Look, you don’t have to be perfect to receive and realize the gift of eternal life. And, you don’t need to be perfect to be used by God to draw a straight line. It’s called grace.

God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

But, I have found that there are at least two ways to ensure God doesn’t use you.


#1 – FOCUS ON YOUR POWER

Are you operating in your own power? One way to be sure that you are operating in your own power is to have an absence of prayer in your life. For some reason, God loves us enough to talk with us despite our faults and failings. What God is doing takes priority over our power. David marveled that God would even think about man.

“When I look at Your heavens the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4

18-Feature_Where-God-Points-His-Finger_OldSize-0130David spoke of the universe as God’s finger work. It was as easy for God to create the heavens as it is for a human being to make something with their fingers rather than by using the arms and whole body. It required so little effort. Genesis describes God creating the whole material universe with just a few words. What God is doing takes priority over our power.

God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick


#2 – FOCUS ON YOUR PLAN

views_on_my_plan4_0What are you planning? Have you taken the time to ask God for direction? I am serious about this, have you taken the time to ask God for direction? Nothing truly great can take place apart from God. Here is one way to have a great year. Figure out what God wants you to do and do it. There is no better place to be than in the will of God and no worse place to be than outside of the will of God. What God is doing takes priority over our plans.

Now, you may be thinking, “Pastor you sure are making it seem like God is more important than me.” He is. Without Him, I AM nothing. Apart from Him, I can DO nothing. He is the beginning and He is the End. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, and all-wise. Here is my suggestion, let’s go with His plan. Spurgeon said, “There is nothing little about God, and there is nothing great apart from Him.” All God’s powerful acts and His surpassing greatness call for praise. Psalm 150:2 says, “Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!”

Bless_This_Mess_(TV_series)_Title_CardI deal with a lot of people who blame God when things go wrong. But, here’s the deal. Don’t hold God accountable without giving Him authority. In order for God to draw a straight line, you will need let Him hold the stick. Are you architecting your own plans and then asking God to endorse them? Don’t expect the God of the universe to bless your mess without changing the plan to fit His design.

Don’t miss out on His masterpiece by making your own way and working in your own power. Don’t ever question that God is at work. He is at work all around us, and He is at work in your life. What God is doing takes priority over your power and your plans. How can you give God control of your plans today? How can you allow God’s power to sustain you today?

God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.


The Church Is Not Walmart



Pastor Francis Chan tells of a random churchgoer who said to him, “I really didn’t like worship today.” His response was, “That’s ok; we weren’t worshiping you.”

What God is doing takes priority over our personal preferences.

monkimage.phpThink about that for a minute. Do God’s priorities take first place in your life? We push God to the side when we focus on our personal preferences instead of biblical precedents. Now, we all have our personal preferences, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when our preferences start to outpace what God is doing, we become selfish, self-centered, and self-destructive. We are great at finding all kinds of things to disagree about when we don’t get what we want.

On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” In churches of any size, there will be a lot of preferences. We shouldn’t be asking what our Church can do for us, but what we can do through our Church. What God is doing, and what he is calling us to do, takes priority over our preferences. He takes priority simply because of who He is.

bible“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:3-4

Notice the words COMMEND and DECLARE. Spurgeon said, “Let us see to it that we praise God before our children, and never make them think that His service is an unhappy one.” David said parents would declare God’s great acts to their children. Spurgeon said, “Worship should be somewhat like its object—great praise for a great God.” He also said there is “no chorus is too loud, no orchestra too large, no Psalm too lofty for the lauding of the Lord of Hosts.”

90The church is not Walmart. Today, I want to put you on notice. God’s Church is not going to be driven by consumer Christianity! When you go to Wal-Mart, you are a consumer and you can pick and choose what you want. When you engage with the Church, you are a servant of the most high God! What God is doing takes priority over your preferences. Consumer mentality is destroying authentic Christianity in our churches. The Church does not exist to be popular, we exist to be on point with what God is doing. The stakes are too high. Too many marriages are falling apart. Too many people are dying and going to hell. It’s time to get to work!

What God is doing takes priority over our personal preferences. 


God Told Me To Get Divorced



Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

kava1Years ago, I had a gentleman come in and see me in my office at a church where I previously served. The meeting was not scheduled, and he came in with an urgency to ask the office staff if I was available to see him. He came back to my office, I poured two cups of coffee, and we sat down to talk. I appreciate him giving me permission to share this story. He told me that he was leaving his wife. He was a Christian and a man I respected. As he described the details, I was disappointed to hear that his relationship was in such bad condition. He talked for quite a while, and I listened.

Then he said something that really caught my attention. He said, “God told me that I need to divorce my wife.” Although I had been pretty quiet up until that point in the meeting, I could feel the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Truth inside of me welling up. I said, “What exactly did God say?” And his response was, “He told me to divorce my wife so I could pursue a relationship with a woman that I have been seeing on the side.” I said, “That’s exactly what God said to you?” He said, “Yes.” I responded, “How do you know it was God?” He thought for a moment and then said, “I guess I’m not sure it was God.” To which I responded, “Well, don’t you think you should be sure it was God before you leave your wife? That doesn’t sound like something God would say.” I’d love to tell you that this was a singular incident in ministry, but it is not.  

Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

Is-That-You-God-DPHave you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do? God regularly gets blamed for things He didn’t do. He also gets credit for a lot of things he had nothing to do with. How do we really know if God did something or not? If we are going to trust God, we’d better be sure that we know when it is Him and when it is not.

Here is the good news. God is in a category all by Himself. Who He is and what He does is the same thing. He is consistent. He is the I AM. So if we are trying to figure out if God did something or not, we should start with knowing who God is. We can’t be like God unless we know what God is like. We can’t know the true God unless we know the truth about God. We can’t recognize false gods unless we know the true God.

Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

857dac517d6cc58e1022fe4631007879A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Virtually every major doctrine of the Christian faith is based on the doctrine of God. Who God is and what God does is precisely the same thing. His essence is the same as His existence. This is not always the case with us. We are terribly inconsistent beings. The truth is that as Christians, we are new creations. That’s who we are. We are in Christ. But what we do doesn’t always line up with who we are.

Andy Stanley says, “What gets celebrated gets repeated.” Celebrating is just highlighting and bringing to the forefront what is happening. There are a lot of positive things God is doing. We should focus on them because what gets celebrated, gets repeated. But let’s be real, some difficult things happen in life as well. The more we focus on negative things, the more negative things will happen. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote these words to the Philippians.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Trusting God starts with knowing and celebrating who God is.

Afterthoughts | January 12, 2020

JANUARY 12, 2020

Morning Message: “EXPLORE THE CORE”

On Sunday afternoons at the Cutchins’ home, we usually have some early afternoon coffee, and find ourselves discussing the morning message. “AFTERTHOUGHTS is our way of sharing the conversation and discussion with you. In each post, we will ask five questions to spark discussion over a cup of coffee. 

Listen now…

DISCUSSION STARTER QUESTIONS

  • What stood out to you?
  • What did you think needs more discussion?
  • What were your biggest takeaways?
  • What did you find most challenging?
  • Why did you think this message was important?

Stepping Back To Step Forward



We can trust God when we need FOCUS.

Sometimes the biggest threat to fulfilling our purpose is an opportunity. When I left Austin in 2016 to be Discipleship Pastor at First Baptist Church of North Augusta, I was at the height of my career as a Worship Pastor. I had a job that paid me well and allowed me to have a large platform in one of the fastest-growing cities in America. After over 15 years of coming to church every Sunday and standing on a stage to lead people, it became clear that God wanted me to step off the stage and out of the spotlight. Now, for a person like me, who is wired up to be upfront, this made no sense! However, I could sense what God was directing me to do.

FJ83image2-730x430I’ll never forget the feeling of going to church for the first time as a Discipleship Pastor and not going to the stage to do my job. Instead, I found myself sitting in the pew as an observer. It was disorienting and uncomfortable. In my discomfort, I began thinking I had made a mistake and felt discouraged. Three months went by, and I struggled in the pew each week. Here’s the truth that not many people knew at the time. Just when I thought I had settled in, a large church in Charlotte contacted me and invited me to step back on the stage as their Worship Pastor.

Wendy and I prayed about it, and we were confident God did not want us to pursue it. It turned out to be an excellent opportunity for me to build trust in God and recommend someone else for that position! One year later, I was named Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of North Augusta. Wendy and I had prayed for five years that God would prepare me to pastor a church and prepare a church for me to pastor. The biggest threat to me becoming the Senior Pastor of First Baptist of North Augusta was an opportunity to do a job that was comfortable in a city where I had spent most of my adult life. Thank God that I didn’t get derailed from His plan by that opportunity to live in the past.

We can trust God when we need FOCUS.

6195298_0I want to make it hard for you to ignore what God is doing this year. Today, let me invite you to bring closure to the past and begin writing a new story. Not what He’s done in the past, but what He’s doing at this moment. We simply need to listen to Him. Planning is good, but praying is better. Many times, detailed planning becomes a fancy way to procrastinate. We need to keep moving but in the right direction. Check out this Psalm from David.

“Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.”  Psalm 143:8

David wanted guidance from God. This request was based solidly on his trust in the Lord. As God’s servant, David trusted in Him. Even though David dealt with fear and failure, he struggled to get his facts right, and he often lacked focus; he was confident God would guide him to safety. It is so important that we ask God to show us the way we should go. That way, we can say yes to the right things, and also say no to the wrong things. Our biggest threat is being derailed by opportunity. Sometimes we have to step back before stepping forward.

We can trust God when we need FOCUS.