Getting Over My Offense

For me, these moments come. These moments where my every dream seems shattered and broken on the floor. My thoughts lead to how He never comes how I want Him too. His ways rarely look how I thought they would, or should. His timing does not seem perfect. And as my thoughts lead to disappointment, anger, and despair, I stop believing that His ways are above my ways. I start wondering if maybe my design is better than the Designer’s.

This was my December.

Last month He hit me hard. He challenged me to truly face what I believe. He showed me my control and manipulation. He showed me my plans and my dreams, the ones, that I hadnʼt fully surrender to Him. He asked me time and time again, “Are your boundary lines in pleasant places, are the purposes I have for you good, are my dreams fuller than the ones you created, do I come to give abundant life?”

Throughout Advent I realized that God has never come as we quite expect. Our God let Sarah get past the right age, Noah watched his world be flooded, Joseph lived forgotten in a prison, David started his kingship surrounded by disgruntled men living in a cave, Daniel was an advisor to a pagan king, Mary got pregnant a couple months too early, the King came as baby, and the Savior died on a cross. I doubt any of these circumstances looked how the heroes of our faith expected.

The people of God have always been confused by His ways. And sadly, have tried to control, have gotten offended, and have walked away from him during the process. The Israelites, the Pharisees, and us Christians have all done it. And how my heart is the same. Only by His abundant, fiery grace, have I stayed anchored to His feet.

The question today is not whether you or I will be offended in our journey with God. The question is what we will do with that offense? Will we be like the crowds and even some of Jesusʼ own disciples who turn back? Like in John 6 when hearing that they would have to “eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life” they depart. Missing the greatest story they had chance to be a part of because they could not comprehend. Or will we resolve that our offense is not a worthy reason to turn around compared to the worthiness of God? I am standing with the twelve, echoing Peterʼs words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Those words have become my whispered weapon in the midst of offense, silencing the lies of the enemy and the temporal temptations of this world.

And today, I awake challenged. To once again say, “Lord, not my will, but yours.” Jesus, let me lose my life, to gain. My story for your glory. Not my manicured plans, but your crazy, wild adventure. Not my black and white life, but your abundant one. Come surprise me. Do it your way. Give me the grace to wait and watch this beautiful masterpiece be painted out of the messiness of my soul. And Lord, let my offense not give way to my turning back. Because, really, where else can I go?

By Carrie Bach, Member of the Senior Leadership Team

Hope on a Sleeve

In line in front of me, a commonplace coffee shop event takes place. Customers ahead progress; I stand still- obstructed by an awe inspired four-year-old with hands, nose, and lips glued to the glass covered pastry case. He presses his face harder against the glass, as if increased proximity to the pastries and a harder gaze results in his desire satisfied. Then with a “Sorry” to me, and a “Come on, Aiden” to the little one, his mother pulls him forward, his left hand leaving a fingerprint streak along the pane. The streak draws my eye to surrounding smudge marks on the glass, all toddler height, evidence of the hopes of Aiden’s peers who went before him that day. 

And I think, “Children just have no qualms about leaving traces of their hope wherever they tread.” Then, I wonder, “When did I unlearn that shameless, public declaration of my hope- that clarity of communication about what I desired? Was it when I realized that those older people around me weren’t putting their noses on the pane? Or was it when I learned that the focus of my gaze and relentless requests didn’t necessarily correlate to my hopes being realized? How did I decide that asking sparingly increased my odds of receiving? That  the best way to avoid disappointment in a world of inconsistent supply was to decrease my demand? ”

Somewhere along my childhood development spectrum, these lessons were affirmed.

Unfortunately, these lessons in the economics of hope don’t translate to my Father’s economy. Instead, when I look at the market laws of His kingdom, I see this:
• “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Matt 4
• “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matt 5
• “Pray then like this: Father… Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”
• “The kingdom of Heaven…is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” Romans 14
• “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11
• “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11

So, I see a few economic laws at work here. First, I see that my soul demands (hopes for) the word of God and the righteousness, peace and joy of His Spirit. I see that the supply of these is endless. I find that the transaction involves asking and desiring; and my currency is belief. What is belief? Being sure of what I hope for.

But how am I to be sure of what I hope for when the ask, seek, and believe didn’t lead to fulfilled hopes in the past? When my heart is sick, like Solomom’s, from hope disappointed? First, I remember the second part of that Proverb: a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. And I eat from that tree of life, remembering where God has opened His hand to satisfy my desires. Second, I remember what He has done for my friends. Because what’s been done for them has been done for me- we’re family. And finally, I just hope again. Because, I know this: my hope will never put me to shame! How? Because of His love. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says that the love of God has been poured out in my heart through his Spirit that He gave to me. And this is his answer for how our hope is never put to shame: His love (Romans 5:4).

His love, unchanging, results in my hope unchanged- unadjusted to the norms of those around me or the disappointments of the past. My hope is unaware of those watching me. It keeps no ledger of the disappointments of my past. My hope doesn’t settle for a counterfeit reward. My hope insists on receiving my desire- the Word of God and His steadfast Love: in one word, Jesus.

And so, I’ll press my fingers, nose, and lips against my Father’s pastry case! I’ll leave traces of my hope behind me, leading others to the treasures I’ve been longing for. Unashamed, I’ll wear my hope on my sleeve. And my hope reads: Jesus!

By Renae Arndt, Prayer and Worship Director

Priorities and Motivations

This is part two of a three part series. See part 1 here.

So your time is valuable. How do you maximize it?

The first step is figuring out how you are using your time. What are your priorities? Last year, I made a list of everything that took time in my life (work, church, hobbies, family, friends, health) and tried to order them in terms of what I value. I asked questions like “What activities do I never forget or miss?”; “What do I always forget about?”; “What do I end up putting off until last minute?” to determine the order. And I recorded my time use  for 48 consecutive hours.

Once I made that list, I found that I was doing the top half of my priorities excellently, the next quarter adequately, and the last quarter barely.

We are called to excellence because we are made in the image of God and God does things excellently. If you are not doing something excellently, you should be wondering if it is worth your time.

The problem is, excellence takes time. By taking stock of my priorities and current time management, I was able to evaluate if my current priorities lined up with what I wanted to value, and what needed to be adjusted.

I would argue that, for every Christian, your relationship with God and personal time with him has to be your #1 priority. Above all else, make sure to get personal time with your creator, Father, and best friend every day. It is the absolute best use of your time.

I try and make my time as high-yield as possible, which for me means focusing on one activity and doing it well. That is, when I am spending time with friends, I am fully present and enjoying their company. When I am working on a project, I avoid distractions, even turning off the Internet from my computer and closing the door to my room. Why? Because I know if I try to watch TV or hang out with a friend while studying, I will do both half- heartedly and enjoy neither. And if I come home late and my housemates are halfway through a movie, I will generally choose to go to bed rather than stay up because the amount of genuine connecting that will happen during that time (especially when I’ve missed the premise) isn’t worth being tired and unproductive the next day, when there may be better opportunities to develop friendship.

Let me leave you with a challenge. As Christians, we are called to give at least 10% of our income back to God. When I was in college, I had no income so I felt God ask me to tithe my time instead. What if you gave 10% of your time? I’d argue that the kingdom would come faster. I’ve heard so many stories of financial breakthrough that I am convinced that God can get all money he wants, with or without the Church. But it takes our choice to give Him the time he needs to accomplish His mission.

By Ben Drum, Neighborhood Section Leader

Who Is Jesus?

Jesus is our Advocate

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 ESV)

Jesus made a way for us to have peace with God. Every sin you’ve committed carries a consequence.  Our sin has disrupted our relationship with God.  Sin has left us restless, reckless, and in absolute depravity, unable to make peace with a perfect God; Until Jesus came.  In and through Jesus we find justice and mercy.  He did the very thing we could never do. He personally took the penalty for the sins we committed when he died on the cross, and he restores our relationship with God, as we trust Him.

Jesus is our Victor

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV)

Jesus is our Victor.  Jesus defeated the enemy.  Each of us has different perspectives and experiences with “the enemy.” However, scripture is clear that the enemy exists and that we are in a spiritual battle, not against people, but against this enemy. Whether it came as an injustice, a perversion, a harsh word, an unfair circumstance, a sickness, or the death of a loved one – we have all encountered the enemy.  And yet, there’s hope any and every time we encounter the enemy because we have Jesus as our victor.  He has already won. The end of the story has been written.

Jesus is our Light

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV)

Jesus is our guide into what is True.  We live amidst so much confusion; there are so many conflicting answers and paths.  We are so prone to persuasion, so caught in a world of wilderness, and it’s dark.  If you’re like me, you’re tired of all the easy steps to change your life, sick of feeling incapable of making a good decision on your own, and disgusted with the attempt to keep everyone happy.  The great news is that you don’t have to follow everyone anymore.  You just have to follow the one true light, Jesus.

Jesus is our Refuge

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 ESV)

We are guaranteed trials in this life.  You were born with a tag that said “Hardship Guaranteed.”  You cannot avoid pain and difficulty, but you can find rest in the middle of it.  Jesus is our Refuge.  His promise is that He will never leave us.  His invitation is to come to Him.

Jesus is our Living Water

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38 ESV)

Jesus offers us LIFE!  Everything else is fleeting.  Sadness, emptiness, boredom, those who feel no purpose, hear no compelling point to it all, or see no reason for even living must drink of the fountain of Life:  Jesus, The Christ.  When the fleeting pleasures of this world are exposed, one thing will remain…. the life of Christ.

Do you feel distant from God? Trust Jesus as your advocate.

Do you feel under attack… like you’re losing the battle? Trust Jesus as your victor.

Do you feel confused and don’t know where to turn? Trust Jesus as your light.

Do you feel tired and heavy laden? Trust Jesus as your refuge.

Do you feel low on purpose and in need of refreshment? Trust Jesus as your Living Water.

By Andrew Bach, Lead Pastor

Valuing Time

I live and operate under the conviction that time is the most valuable resource I have to give and offer in my life.

Do you doubt me?

If someone in your family died, would you want your closest friend to 1) spend the night grieving with you or 2) give you $500? What is going to help more?

Your time is valuable. Don’t let yourself ever think otherwise. And in the same way that Jesus says, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt 6:19), I firmly believe that we spend our time according to the posture of our hearts.

In the same way that God created all things and that all things on heaven and earth (including finances) belong to Him (Ps. 24:1), God also made all time and all time belongs to Him. So when we waste time, we are actually wasting a valuable kingdom resource.

Let’s take a quick example. Mosaic has a prayer night for Unbound, our ministry to end human trafficking, once a month on a Sunday night. Many college students say they are passionate about ending sex trafficking, but when that Sunday night comes to pray for Unbound they all have homework due Monday. What a bummer! By not going to Unbound, that college student has missed out on 1) cultivating a personal discipline of an active prayer life by praying for an hour, 2) joining with their church community to pray about a common passion and 3) helping women and children who are in desperate need of breakthrough. And if that college student decides to put off homework and go to the prayernight instead, I would argue that they are not being good stewards of the plans God has for them in college. It’s a lose-lose. Why? Because the time they needed to make both college and prayer work was already squandered earlier that weekend, when the student either woke up at 1pm on Saturday morning, spent three hours playing video games, or had some other fascinating but ultimately time-wasting activity.

You may think that I am being harsh. The truth is, being a medical student at a top university, I have had extremely busy seasons of my life. And I’ve learned that I need to be ruthless about my time management in order to enjoy and partake in everything God has for me.

Time is the great equalizer: everyone has the same amount of it, and no one can gain back lost time. Nor can you really save up time as you can with money. It is a resource that is immediately available and must be used in the best capacity, in the moment. Because our time must be used in the moment, our choices with it reveal our true motives and values.

In every situation where we can control our time, the things that we do are the things that we truly value. So what do you truly value?

By Ben Drum, Neighborhood Section Leader

God is With Me

“God is with me” is a phrase we use often in the Kids Ministry. We desire each of our kids to know that God made them, he loves them, he saved them, and he will always be with them.

On a recent Sunday morning as the kids were coming into their classrooms, the Roots kids (2-4year old class) heard a little girl in the Nest (0-2 year old class) crying. “Who is crying?” a two year old asked. The classroom leader told the kids it was a baby next door. Another young one asked, “Why is she sad?” The classroom leader replied, “Maybe its because she doesn’t want to be away from her mommy and daddy even though they went downstairs for just a little bit. But do you know who is with her right now?” Most of the class piped in, “God is with her!” Then the class gathered in a circle and some of the kids prayed for the little one next door. “God, I pray for her not to be sad,” prayed one child; “God, would she not be afraid,” prayed another. The classroom leader closed the time of prayer and as they finished the little girl next door had stopped crying!

Our kids are living with confidence that God is with each of them forever and always. It’s a testimony that not only do they believe it for themselves, but also they are fighting for each other to have more faith and to be comforted by God’s presence.

God is doing so much in Mosaic Kids and I am so blessed to be part of seeing the next generation live out the simple truths of God’s kingdom. They are constantly encouraging me to believe the simple but profound reality that I am a child of the King. Reminding me that every moment of the day God is with me, forever and always.

Like our kids, we too can have childlike faith. Know, today, that God made you, he loves you, he saved you, and he will always be with you.

By Tina Jackson, Children’s Ministry Director

Interested in serving with Mosaic Kids? Click here

Deep and Wide

A church that is both deep and wide. This concept has been pervading my mind ever since Andrew’s sermon several weeks ago, and I believe each follower of Jesus needs to consider it with me.

Will we be deep? Pursuing intimate friendship with Jesus, studying scripture, intentional to give glory to God in every facet of our lives and living in meaningful Christ-centered community with each other?

OR

Will we be wide? Making a place for anyone and everyone to experience the Gospel, purposefully living to see as many people as possible put their trust in Jesus?

The challenge is obvious. Take preaching for example. The more theologically intricate a sermon is, the less approachable for a person who has no background with Jesus. And yet – if everything we do is geared toward pre-christians, mature followers of Jesus may feel that their river runs dry.

Deep and wide. Is it even possible? I propose that for our church to be both deep and wide, we must leverage two ancient truths:

#1 It’s about Him (God) and them.

As we turn our focus to glorifying Jesus and advancing HIS Kingdom, we will begin to think about ourselves less. As we think about ourselves less, we will think less about having or not having our individual spiritual needs met. In fact, we will become more alive in Christ than ever before as we glorify Jesus and share His love with others.

#2 As we get bigger, we need to get smaller.

When I first joined Mosaic, there were about 20people total. We gathered on Sundays at the Lutheran Student Center in the U-District and even one new visitor on a Sunday was basically synonymous with God having performed a miracle. In contrast, around thirty people sat on the floor at Mosaic the Sunday before last; there simply wasn’t space for them to sit anywhere else. God is bringing people to Mosaic, transforming their lives through His grace, and knitting them into this local expression of His body.

Is there a certain size we will reach when we will say “we’re full–no more room for people here?” Absolutely not!

This is the fundamental reason why we will transition to two Sunday services in January. We need to ensure that we are consistently in a position to welcome new people into the body of Christ.

But as our church gets bigger, we must get smaller in order to pursue the same depth that we see in Acts 2. The essence of getting smaller is to commit to agroup of people who you can endeavor in the values of Acts 2:42-47 together. We think this is best done through Lifegroups. What is a Lifegroup? A Christ-centered community, devoted to connecting with each other and encountering God together. In this definition, the word “devoted” is essential. There is no such thing as being partially devoted. You either are or you aren’t. When a group of people is devoted to the to the vision of Lifegroup, to going small together, the potential for depth in God and in Christ-centered community is seemingly limitless.

I want to be a person who knows Jesus intimately in the midst of meaningful, Christ-centered community. And I want to be a person who sees countless people put their faith in Jesus. Deep and Wide. I am not willing to settle for anything less.

It is possible for our church to be both deep and wide? Will you come with us?

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By Executive Pastor Paul Jackson