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  • What have you given up? (Reflection)

    What have you given up? (Reflection)

    In one of A.W. Tozer’s devotionals, he says: 

    “I’ve been asked more than once, what I gave up when I was converted and became a believing child of God.” 

    He says that as a youth, he was “scared of life and scared of death” … but he gave that up.

    He was “miserable and glum and unfulfilled” … but he gave that up.

    He had “selfish earthly and material ambitions” that he “could never achieve”

    but he gave them up.

    Then he says: “And as I soon discovered that in Jesus Christ, God had given me everything that is worthwhile!”

    So again I ask…

    • What have you given up? 
    • What needs to be given up, and given to Him?

    “By His divine power, God has given useverything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

    “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-11

    In HIS Grip

    Tony

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  • “Go and I will bless you.”

    “Go and I will bless you.”

    “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    Genesis 12:1-3

    Yesterday, I had the first Perspectives Class and we look into the biblical perspective of missions. We started with the first verse in the bible and ended with Paul’s missionary journey. And because we know more about the new testament and Paul’s missionary journey, we spent most of our time in the old testament. I never really thought about global missions in the Old Testament or even thought about God being a missionary God. But when we read the bible in the perspective of mission, we see that God’s purpose is to pursue us. We are formed to participate in His purpose.

    When I slowly read Genesis 12:1-3, I realized God’s desire for missions. In these verses, God is telling Abraham, to go – get up and leave where he is comfortable to go to the place where God is calling him. Just like the Apostles that God has called, God also called Abraham. All of them, including missionaries today, step into the unknown. However, they don’t step into the unknown with no hope, they step into the unknown knowing that they can trust in the goodness of God. With the calling, God also tells Abraham (and tells us) what He will do. He will make Abraham a great nation, He will bless Abraham with a great name, and Abraham will be a blessing. For those who bless Abraham, the Lord will also bless. Those who dishonor Abraham, the Lord will curse. His entire family will be blessed. God lists everything he will do and in this promise, Abraham goes. He has faith in God and what He says and Abraham goes.

    When I read this and realized Abraham’s faith and God’s faithfulness because we know where the story goes, I am so encouraged that even when I step into the unknown, even if its hard, I know that God is with me and I can trust Him. He reminds me of who He is and what He will do. I hope this encourages you also because as followers of Christ we are called to be missionaries. We don’t have to go overseas. God could be calling you to be a missionary is Santa Cruz or in Monterey or in San Jose. He may be calling you to be a missionary in your own home or in your neighborhood. God has blessed us with the Gospel and the invitation to receive the Gospel is extended to everyone. Because we are blessed, lets be a blessing to others.

    with Jesus’ love,
    Jeremae

  • How Long Will You Wait?

    How Long Will You Wait?

    “The most striking illustration of the mercy and loving kindness of God is set forth in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Here we have not only the welcome awaiting the wanderer, but also the longing for his return on the part of the anxious and loving father (God).” – The Great Doctrines of The Bible (Evans).

    Among other things, there is a tragedy in this parable, and it’s the part where the father longingly and anxiously waits for his child’s return. Imagine the day in and the day out pit that has formed in the father’s stomach, wondering if his child is safe, and when (or if) he will finally come home. Can we imagine the longing – the waiting? I’ve been there in my life as I’m sure many of you have too, the wait is weight felt. It is long, and it is hard. At times it is very painful, but the “pain” disappears and the joy returns. It floods our heart and soul when, finally, the wayward child returns home. 

    I believe that our Heavenly Father also longs for those who are His, He waits for those to return to Him, and He KNOWS those who will finally come to Him. He KNOWS when they will come to Him. If we think about the process, our Father in Heaven also KNOWS exactly how long it’ll take for them to actually come. He KNOWS the struggle, the pain and the sorrow that they will go through before they finally come to their senses. Finally surrendering in a battle that they can’t…that they won’t… win. 

    Can I encourage those of you who are in the waiting process right this minute, 

    • God KNOWS exactly who and where they are! 
    • He loves them more than we could even begin to love them, and we love them so much! 
    • And that while they may be out of the home or seemingly out of our lives, trust that He is doing a work in their lives, and for those of them who are His already, but have temporarily stepped off of the path, trust that He is faithful to complete that work in their lives!
    • Trust and KNOW that as you wait, He is also working in your life too! 
    • Lean into His Word of comfort, protection, and strength! 

    Psalm 40:1 says

    “I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.”

    Can I also encourage those of you who are in a constant “battle” of rejecting The One true God? The One Who loves you more than you can ask or think? Those of you who are in a constant battle of trying to be right, trying to win a war that has been waged against you by a real enemy in this life? Those of you who are forgetting that there is eternal life after all of this, forgetting that He is the One who can save you in and from all of this, because He is good … because He is God? Can I encourage you with these truths?

    Let Him show you who you are meant to be in Him… let Him show you what you were created for. Let Him lead you in a life of victory! And while not completely pain free, let him lead you in a life of strength that is only found in Him! Surrender to Him today, He is waiting, Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart!

    20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

    In HIS Grip,
    Tony

  • Praying for you…

    Praying for you…

    Dear God,

    I lift up the person or people reading this prayer. Some may be excited for the New Year, but some may be afraid of what is to come in this new year. Uncertainty can be a scary thing. But you are the God who knows all things. Omniscient right? This means you know everything — including what the future holds. So, God, I pray for the person and even for myself. I pray that you reveal to us that you are present always in our circumstances. Reveal to us that we can trust in You. Remind us, actually, that we can trust in You because of who You are. You are the God of this world and although some may not recognize you as God or King, I pray for their hearts and souls that they see the benefit of trusting in You. Joy comes from trusting in You. Hope comes from trusting in You. Holding on when circumstances are pulling us down comes from You. Your word has never ceased to remind us that even when trouble comes, you help us. When we call upon Your name, You arrive. When we think you are far, you are silently near. You are working.

    Father, the person reading this prayer may feel like they want to give up. Lord, please give them hope that you are working all things together. Father, the person reading this prayer may be angry with you. Lord, embrace them with your unconditional love and never leave their side — reveal to them that you hear them and that you have a plan. Father, the person reading this prayer may be sick. Lord, I pray, in Jesus’ name, that you heal their wounds, their aches, their physical body, and that you renew their strength. Father, the person reading this prayer needs a miracle. Lord, may you provide their needs. Lord, the person reading this prayer may be financially struggling. Lord, we know you are the God who will provide — You are Jehovah Jireh. We ask for your provision in their home. Lord, the person reading this may have lost their way and feel like they can’t return back to You. Lord, please grab their hand and return them to You with arms wide open and an embrace. Remind them of your unconditional love, your grace, and your truth. Lord, the person reading this may be one who does not know what to do. Father, give them Your wisdom.

    Father, there are so many prayers you have put into my own heart and you know them already and are already working ing them. Thank You for being the God that You are — loving, gracious, faithful, holy, giving, forgiving, and so much more. For the one who is reading this prayer and they do not know You, Father, give them a desire to want to know who You are and the Gospel for what it truly is according to Your word. We love You and we praise You.

    In Jesus’ name,
    Amen


    I’m sure a lot of us have our new year’s resolution, whether its to exercise more, read more, be more intentional with cooking at home (these three are some things I want to do more this year — so no judgement if this is you!), but one thing I want to be better in is intentional prayers. Maybe this isn’t the right way to say it? While I’m cleaning or cooking or doing chores and the Lord puts someone in my mind, I pray for them. When I get a prayer request, wherever I am, I will pray for them. But these prayers last a minute or two and what I hope to achieve this year, aside from doing the minute or two prayers, is to carve out time in the morning (oh boy — please prayer for me) to read God’s word and spend more than a minute or two in prayer.

    How about you? What is your New Year’s resolution?

    with Jesus’ love,
    Jeremae

  • And Can It Be?

    And Can It Be?

    Back in the early 1900’s a hymn was written that asks the question: 
    “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?” 

    After all these years later, I still want to ask the same question – Can it be? But how? Can it be that over 2000 years ago “Unto us a Child (The Child) was born?” But how?

    I love this time of year. The lights, the food, family, and fellowship, but more than that, and at the risk of overusing an already overused adage, shouldn’t we consider and not lose sight of the real reason for the season; His Name is “Immanuel” (God with us).

    Can it be that God would come down to us, that He would be “with us” in the flesh, in His Son, that we should (somehow) gain from His birth, from His life, and even in His death and resurrection? But how?

    But how? That is the question, well we know for one thing that God’s Word tells us so! 

    The Gospels tell us so! In Matthew 1 an angel appears to Joseph saying:

    “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

    Can it be that this Child named Jesus, conceived of the Holy Spirit, would one day save them then (and us now) from sin? Can it be that in His eyes He would see me, that He would see us, even when we have trouble sometimes looking at ourselves in the mirror, that He would see us “white as snow?” But how?

    Luke wrote in chapter 2;

    So it was, that while they were there (Mary & Joseph), the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

    And then a little further down in vs.10 Luke continues;

    10 Then the angel said to them (the shepherds tending to their flocks out in the field), “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

    Can it be that 700 years before this night described by Luke & Matthew, before the birth of Jesus, that Isaiah would write: (Isaiah 7:14)

    14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign… Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

    Can it be that it was The Lord God, who is the Creator of All things, the Lover of life and the Lover of our souls, gave us, you and me, typical nobodies in the world’s eyes – give us a sign? 

    Isaiah further prophesied …

    For unto us (unto us?) a Child is born, unto us (unto us?) a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

    Can it be that this Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, would come to and for you & me?

    John 3:16 tells us that this Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace loves us so much, that He GAVE us the Ultimate Gift: His only begotten Son. It doesn’t end there. John continues with: so that if you & I believe in His Son, Jesus, we WILL have eternal life with Him in Heaven when we die!

    In 1 John 4:9-11, John gives us even more detail of the how and the why of this unending love and free gift from God.

    By this … the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. In this … is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath]. Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another.

    That is God’s gift to us this Christmas season. Pastor Matt has said in the past; “A gift is not ours until we receive it, open it, and make it our own!”

    God gave us the Greatest Gift of all when He gave Jesus!

    Merry Christmas!

    In HIS Grip,
    Tony

  • Joy

    Joy

    Joy : Noun- a feeling of great pleasure and happiness “tears of joy”

    Verb- rejoice “he rejoiced in her spontaneity and directness”

    The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday and is meant to remind us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy that the faithful have reached the midpoint of Advent.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…

    – Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

    The word “joy” occurs 218 times in the Bible (NIV). The phrase “the joy of the Lord” suggests that Christ-followers can experience joy because of the Lord, even if circumstances are not joyful.

    Joy is promised by God and something we should strive towards. In Hebrews 12:2 it states, “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We can have joy in the eternal life that awaits us after death.

    As a child, singing Christmas songs brought so much joy to my heart. I was always in some type of Christmas performance in elementary school, Girl Scouts, Ballet class, or Acapella choir in high school, but the meaning behind the songs never registered in my mind until I gave Jesus my heart in 1975 and became a Christ Follower. Now as a Praise and Worship Leader, helping others enter into worship with Christmas Carols brings immense joy to my heart, soul, mind and strength.

    I really enjoy discovering the stories behind the Christmas Carols I sing every year with my church community….

    Joy to the World- Since 1719 it has been the most published hymn in North America. Fun fact: the song wasn’t even intended to be a Christmas carol and it is not about the birth of Christ but about His Second Coming. The song proclaims the ultimate joy that is yet to be revealed!

    Midnight Clear- it also does not mention the birth of the Savior. The author, a pastor in Massachusetts, wrote a poem in 1849 after he suffered a breakdown and experienced great sadness with the revolution in Europe and the war with Mexico in the U.S. He saw everything around him as full of “sin and strife:.

    The third stanza, which we rarely see, shows how worried the author was about the world situation. 

    “But with the woes of sin and strife

    The world has suffered long;

    Beneath the angel-strain have rolled

    Two thousand years of wrong;

    And man, at war with man, hears not

    The love-song, which they bring:

    O hush the noise, ye men of strife,

    And hear the angels sing!”

    Surely the author would be worried about the state of affairs in the world today! This past year of 2022 has brought us so much uncertainty that when November rolled around, (or even before!) many were already decorating their homes for Christmas! People would post on social media pictures of their Christmas trees and lights and say, “Why not!” We need to be reminded of the joyful hope that Christ brings to this world.

    O Holy Night- Every Christmas, when we listen to the lyrics to ‘O Holy Night,’ we can reflect on the night of Jesus’ birth. It was first written as a poem by a French poet who asked a Jewish musician to compose the music. The song made its ways to America through abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight.  Dwight particularly identified with the third verse which spoke about breaking the chains of slavery and seeing every man as our brother. Thanks to Dwight and the covert efforts of the lyrics being sung during Christmas in Europe, the song’s notoriety spread worldwide, rumored to have been even sung on on Christmas Eve during the Franco-Prussian War.

    Come All Ye Faithful-

    “O Come, All Ye Faithful” was written in the middle of the eighteenth century. The first two latin words, mean “come you faithful ones,”. When we sing it we are encouraged to be among the shepherds who rushed to see Christ and be among the great continuation of the “faithful” that have traveled to Bethlehem in a spiritual nature for over 2,000 years. Although today, we cannot actually witness Jesus in the manger, we can come to Bethlehem in our imaginations as we allow the Christmas story to bring immense joy to our hearts.

    During this Christmas season, we will sing these words and allow joy to fill our hearts, soul, mind and strength….

    Hear the joyful sound of our offering as Your Saints bow down and Your people sing. We will rise with You lifted on Your wings and the world will see that our God saves.

    Jesus saves. There is hope in Your name. Mourning turns to songs of praise. Yahweh saves. Jesus saves……

    Joy to the world the Lord is come.

    Let earth receive her King.

    Let every heart prepare Him room………

    ~Donna H

  • My Soul Magnifies the Lord

    My Soul Magnifies the Lord

    As a woman, I love a good strong woman story where the woman is the main character and she shows heart, grit, and purpose. And when you add faith into the mix, it’s just even more admirable. A woman who reflects this is Mary. Mary, the mother of Jesus, as we all know gave birth to Jesus as a virgin. As impossible as this is, we know that with God all things are possible. And even if Mary questioned the angel who appeared to her, she surrendered and she says “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; May it be fine to me according to your word.” 

    However, there is much more before Mary came face to face with the angel. This same angel appeared to Zachariah and because of his doubt of his wife getting pregnant, his voice was taken away from him. Elizabeth, though, was over the top about the news of being pregnant despite her barren age! What a way to rejoice and trust in the word of the Lord. And not only that, when Mary arrived to visit with Jesus in her womb, Elizabeth rejoiced as well! This is when Mary responds to Elizabeth with the Song of Mary or Mary’s Magnificat. 

    “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

    I am not sure how much it took for Mary to have this kind of faith where she can say her soul magnifies Him and rejoices in Him. She looked ahead knowing who God was and knowing the result of her being called for such an opportunity as this. I’m sure Mary would have wanted to be married first before getting pregnant, but to completely surrender to the Lord when given this news is amazing because if that were me in the past, I probably would have responded like Zachariah. As a science teacher, I would say it is just physiologically impossible, but what does Jesus say in Matthew 19:26? “With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” 

    By the grace of God, I can confidently say that I have the same kind of faith as Mary. I am not trying to boast in any way because the struggle to trust in Him can happen and it still does. And when I do struggle, God always asks me the same question, “who do you know me to be?” I reflect on the journey that the Lord has brought me through, I know that my faith is because of God’s grace for me, ultimately due to His work on the cross, but also for not giving up on me. He reminds me of the times He has shown His faithfulness and has proven He is trustworthy. Already, God has called me to places and positions I never thought I would be in. Whether Mary has gone through different and many hardships or not, what fueled her faith to trust what the angel said is because of who she knows God to be. And if he were to place a new purpose in front of me, even if it’s not something I have been praying for for a very long time, my hope and prayer is that I also say “may it be according to Your word” and “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoice in God my Savior.”

    Amen and Amen. There may be some of you that want this kind of faith as well. As much as you try, you feel like its hopeless. You keep getting angry with God or you feel so far away from Him and He just isn’t showing up. I have felt this way as well. But the truth is that He does care, He is close, and He is working (even in silence). A small spark can fuel a fire — meaning, the smallest amount of faith can grow into a larger one. It takes time, but most of all it takes prayer and knowing God. This Christmas, as we await celebrating the birth-day of our Savior, let’s remember why He came — which was to give us salvation only through faith in Him. When we remember this, we will respond in the same way as Mary.

    with Jesus’ love,

    Jeremae

  • “What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about?”

    “What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about?”

    I saw a bumper sticker this morning that asked a profound question – “What if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about?” When I saw it, I chuckled at first, and then I began to think about what it was really saying. As a Christian, have you ever asked yourself that question, “Is this all there is to life?”

    I must confess to you that there have been times when my mind wanders to the dark side, where my flesh lives, thinks, and hangs out way too long to the point that that question has come to me. However, praise God, it’s a short lived thought. When it does come, and my mind wants to entertain the thought, I ask God to take it away. His Holy Spirit kicks in, I pull back, and things get clear again. I can, once again, begin to look around me, and think about where I am now, compared to where I was then, before Jesus, and one day, where I will be. 

    I think of the miracles that happen everyday that I’ve seen in my life and in my family. I then begin to believe again, without doubt, that there is more to this life than just the “hokey pokey”.

    As I think further about those dark times, it dawns on me again, “Where does this thinking come from?” The answer always comes swiftly that it is coming from the one who, in the beginning, said, “Did God really say…?” and the same one who hounded our Lord in the wilderness and said things like, “If You really are the Son of God, then…”. Then, even after all that, the bible says that “he departed from Him, until a more opportune time”.

    This kind of “dark” thinking that we experience as believers from time to time is that “more opportune time” that the bible speaks of! In those “opportune times”, we allow our minds to wonder and wander into places that they shouldn’t. The enemy waits for us there, in the dark, on the fringe. He’s in those dark places where we’re not as strong, tempting us with lies. “I wonder!” your mind says, when in fact you don’t need to wonder because you know the truth!

    So all of that to say, don’t be surprised when these thoughts come from way out in left field, and when they do – because they will – remind yourself, before your mind is “dragged away and enticed” as James says, that they are whispers of deceit and temptation to get you off the path and out of God’s Word and His Will where the real Truth is! These thoughts will lead you away from fellowship with your eternal family till and into a corner, by yourself, in a place where you will no longer grow in Him, but will grow weak and defenseless against the wiles of the enemy.

    These are the kind of thoughts that cause us to sometimes question our faith and cause us to begin looking for answers in books and not THE book. Books on spiritual issues, or on humanism vs. Christianity, evolution vs. creation, all written by really smart men who want to give you their answers, when the truth is, that by faith, as a child of The Living God, already KNOW the answers to the questions of life and you KNOW where to find them.

    And then finally, by faith and with the Spirit of God in you, you can fight against those thoughts, thoughts that throw up walls, thoughts that cause you to ask “Is this as far as life goes?”, “Is this really all there is?”, and even, “Is the Hokey Pokey what it’s all about?” 

    Take heart brothers and sisters, we CAN fight against those thoughts with the truth, the truth that begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth!” found in the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. The truth that ends with “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”  found in the last two verses of the last chapter of last book of the Bible. 

    If you are seeking the truth, you will find that THE TRUTH is in the beginning and in the end of the Bible, and in every word in-between!

    The truth is in there! It’s like the old Raggu Spaghetti Sauce commercial that told us simply: “It’s in there!”

    In HIS Grip,

    Tony

  • Thanksgiving Dinner

    Thanksgiving Dinner

    Thanksgiving as a child was filled with good food and fun times. As a  married woman it became very festive as we went to two Thanksgiving  dinners in one day. Fast forward to three children and now I was making dinner for both sides of the family, sometimes upward to 24 people. 

    I would get up early on Thanksgiving and start cooking , while everyone  else slept. It took me days to prepare and was gobbled in 30 minutes. 

    My life changed when a Bible teacher shared how each year she would stuff her turkey. For each handful of stuffing she would put in, she would  pray for one of her guests. I started stuffing my turkey this way and it  changed my Thanksgiving days. 

    Every Thanksgiving I looked forward to stuffing my turkey and praying for  each one of my guests. Fast forward 30 years, now that it isn’t fashionable  to stuff my turkey, I still pray God’s Word over each one of my guests first  thing in the morning and look forward to the blessing of coming together. 

    Psalm 70:18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who  are to come.

    with Jesus’ love,
    Denise

  • Foster the City

    Foster the City

    I remember when I decided to follow Jesus, I learned that I am an adopted child of God because of His saving work on the cross and underneath this saving work on the cross, His love for me. Ephesians 1:4-5 says “…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…” We were chosen before the foundation of the world. He knew we would be saved through the Holy Spirit giving us an understanding of what it means to be saved and to be adopted into the family of God, Himself. To others, this understanding we have received is to serve those who are grieving, those who are homeless, those with a broken relationship, or those who just feel broken themselves, wanting to share the hope we have in us. To me, it means that there is no greater love than the Father’s and how amazing it is that I have the opportunity to show that love to a family who said yes to being a foster family or a child who, for the first time, realizes that they are so loved and are so valuable. As an Advocate Coach for Foster the City in Santa Cruz County, it brings my heart so much joy to help churches be part of this coalition. Our mission in Foster the City is a church for every child. 

    Did you know that approximately 50 kids enter into the foster care system every year in Santa Cruz County? 46% of foster youth fail to complete high school, 1 in 4 will be involved in the justice system within two years of aging out, 33% will experience homelessness when aged out, and the rates of post traumatic stress disorder are up to twice the rate of US war veterans who have experienced combat. As I read these statistics, I think of Matthew 19 when Jesus finished teaching and shortly after in the chapter, people brought little children to Jesus for Him to pray for them. The disciples corrected the people, but Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”. Wow. People brought the children to Him. As a church, as a family, if we bring the children in our children’s ministry to Jesus every Sunday, we can also bring vulnerable children in the foster care system to Jesus wherever they are. And just as Jesus said, “… for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    The one thing that drew me to Foster the Bay, now called Foster the City, was the opportunity to be a support friend. I knew I couldn’t foster because I didn’t have the space to, yet, but to be a support friend, that I could do! To learn more about the different roles in Foster the City, you can attend an Interest Meeting (www.fosterthecity.org/getinvolved) or you can ask Elizabeth Barrett (ReGeneration Church Advocate) or me!

    So… Santa Cruz, if there are 95 churches in Santa Cruz County and each church raised up one foster family with a team of support friends, then there will be more than enough loving homes to meet the need. With Foster the City, we have the opportunity to stand in the gap for their biological parents and the kids. In this gap, we can love them with the same love and compassion that the Lord has given to us. In this gap, we can pray for the parents of the kids who enter our home or the kids we help serve. In this gap, we can be the light of Jesus Christ to anyone who feels there is no hope.

    With Jesus’ love,

    Jeremae

  • 57.1

    57.1

    The Bible says;

    “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

    Right after Jesus teaches the beatitudes on the mountain, He tells the people and us;

    13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

    14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Mathew 5:13-16

    And then finally, Paul says to the believers is Rome:

    For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:8

    What do each of these verses have in common with each other? Each one shows us that God has a purpose for our lives and He is not done with us yet.

    Ephesians 2 tells us that we are created in Jesus Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand and that for as long as we’re breathing we should walk in them!

    And then Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that we are the salt of the earth that we are the light of the world and that we are here to give light to all who are in the house (and beyond). Jesus commands us to let our light so shine before men, [Why?] that they may see your good works and [What?] glorify your Father in heaven” … it’s all about Him!

    I was recently diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, which is something that many of us guys (and even some women) have been diagnosed with (“dun dun dunnnn”). In fact, over the past several years, I have always been suspicious that I might have it, especially when my wife began to point out how often and how loudly I started to snore. Her complaint turned into a concern, but me being more stubborn than wise and cautious, I didn’t pay it much attention even when it came to ear plugs and each of us taking turns on who got the couch that night, but again the bottom line was, I never really did anything about it. It was a battle for many years, but I do have to say there was great success when in our 30 years of marriage, when I lost 40 pounds, the snoring diminished greatly, but alas, I gained the weight back and here I am today.

    This issue resurfaced recently when myself and five other guys went on a three day motorcycle trip up the coast. We shared three rooms which worked out to two in each room. I was grateful that God put me and my roommate together because this brother in Christ was very gracious. After the first night, he seemed almost amazed at how loud my snoring was and how frequently I stopped breathing! He shared with me the next day that at times throughout the night, he wanted to come over and see if I was still alive. I’m so sorry, brother!

    I have since been tested, and as I feared, have in fact been diagnosed with something I just wanted to ignore, hoping it would somehow get better over time. Most of the time I would think about what the results would be. The thought of wearing an apprentice with a long hose connected to some kind of headgear plugged into a wall with a low hum and the thought of strangling myself with the hose, trying to maneuver through the night and still remain comfortable, was not appealing to me.

    The results came in and they read as follows: The test results show us that you had an AHI of 57.1 events per hour. The Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) describes the number of times breathing ceases (apnea) or is sub-optimal (hypopnea) per hour of sleep time”. In simple terms, I stopped breathing 57.1 times per hour in the hours that I slept during the test. I was never good at math, but I still can’t figure the math on that one. How do you stop breathing 57.1 times in a 60-minute period of time? All that to say, after trusting God in this, and realizing that this is a real thing, I am now a believer, and am ready for the next step. Plus, it helped talking to another brother after because he shared that he had stopped breathing over 100 times an hour, and that he has been on the CPAP machine for about 6 years. When I told him that I have the “privilege” of utilizing one in the near future, rather than him “wallowing” with me in my self-pity and shame, he initially said one thing. “Your life is gonna change!” He was serious! He went on to tell me that he sleeps better, he has more energy, and that he’s glad he did it, and I believe him.

    So why would I share this with you? It is because God has made it very clear to me that He is not finished with me (and you) yet! At any time, God could have made me stop breathing on the 57.9th time in the night. In fact at any time, he could have “shut the whole thing down” after just one episode of a “non-breath”. There could not have been, at any time, another breath protruding from my lungs, but here I am, which is proof that He is not done with me yet. Brother, Sister, if you are reading this, He is not done with you yet either, He wants to use you for His glory and for His purposes. And in the process, He wants to bless you. 

    Can I encourage you that when you wake up in the morning or from an afternoon nap, to realize that God The Father, Creator and Sustainer of all things, wants to use you, teach you, and make your light shine in this dark world?

    So again…

    “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

    Right after Jesus teaches the beatitudes on the mountain, He tells the people and us;

    13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

    14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Mathew 5:13-16

    And then finally, Paul says to the believers is Rome:

    For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:8

    In HIS Grip

    Tony

  • Where does love come from?

    Where does love come from?

    By Tony Dettle

    I had a conversation with a friend just the other night. Her name is Ashley. She is one of the waitresses at a dining spot I like to go to and sadly, Ashley lost Blue, her puppy, a week ago. She was devastated and full of grief. Blue was her everything. He was by her side in the midst of a major breakup with her long-time boyfriend, he was there when she was really sick, and he was there in the happy times and in the sad times. Even though Blue was almost 16 years old, which is pretty old for a dog Blue’s size, he was always right there with her!

    Over the last couple of years, Blue had begun to decline, Ashley had done all she could do to keep him as active as possible. This even meant when he could hardly walk on his own anymore. She went out and bought him a doggy stroller so that he could still get fresh air and go for his walks. The stroller was set up low to the ground, so that Blue could get out of it, do his business and get back in. Now, after all that she has done for him, Blue is gone!

    She tearfully shared with me that evening as she stood beside my booth, what it was like now that Blue was no longer there. He was no longer in his bed, she could no longer see his reflection in the mirror as she got ready for work in the mornings, and he was no longer waiting at the door, when she gets home from work. Ashley was grieving.

    As she continued to describe how she was feeling, I thought to myself, what she was painfully describing was no different than the grief I had experienced at the loss of my wife, Cece. As I listened, I resonated with the same ache and wave of indescribable emotion. I could see on Ashley’s face —– that all too familiar expression of confusion translating without the use of words — “What now?”… I empathized with her and I hugged her. I noticed, interestingly, that I was at a loss for comforting words being in this side of the chasm of loss, and her being on the other side, just beginning in the process. She left the table and went to work, trying to smile and be courteous to her guests to the best of her ability.

    On my way home from the restaurant that evening, a question formulated in my mind, “where does love come from?”. I knew the answer to the question, but it came to mind. Where does this powerful, strong, undeniable, and unexplainable emotion come from? The premise to the question came from knowing that Ashley obviously loved Blue. He was like family to her. I also considered the question knowing, or at least I think knowing, that Ashley was not a believer or a follower of Jesus. In fact not knowing at all where she is spiritually leads to being the base line of my question: where does her love come from?

    My mind toyed briefly with questions of, “if we humans come from a big bang, or if we did in fact start out as an ingredient of a cosmic primordial soup, and if we are some kind of a cataclysmic accident, where does that kind of love come from? What or who was the first creature to love? How could Ashley, who may even be an atheist for all I know, have that much genuine love in her?

    Here’s my point … as God’s children, we believe that man is born inherently evil, while there are others who believe that man is born inherently good, but if we are in fact born inherently good, where does that goodness come from? Where does that emotion of love and act of goodness come from? And on the other hand, if we are born inherently evil does that mean that there is no love in us?

    There is only one answer to the question. If we truly believe that we are created in the image of God, then that kind of love, that kind of goodness, can only come from God Himself. Love originated with God! And because of His love for me, for Ashley, for the entire world, He gave His Son (whom He also loved). If anyone, anywhere, at any time, believes in this God of love and justice and peace, they can spend eternity with Him and with the rest of those who have gone on before them who also love Him.

  • Welcome!

    Thank you for stopping by our church blog. We are ReGeneration Church, located in Scotts Valley. We are part of the Calvary Chapel community of churches. Our desire is to cultivate a community of disciples who respond to the Gospel by growing in relationship with Jesus and intervening for Him. We hope to introduce the true character and nature of Jesus Christ through His word, encourage you to draw closer to Him, and grow in your relationship with Him.

    For more information about our church, please visit our website at theregenerationchurch.com.