These past couple weeks, we’ve been focusing on values and it has been such an eye opener! Our values matter. They tell the story of what is of most importance in our discipleship journey. So far, we’ve focused on key values we have at UPC such as Compassion & Audacity.
We simply operate in Compassion because to Love God is to love people. Love is nothing unless compassion drives us to be involved in the human experience of life.
We live in a Social Media driven society that puts our compassion or lack of it on display for the world.
SM has many positives and can be used as a platform to encourage, share and reach others for Jesus. However, in light of all that can be good, there’s also a downside…
The downside of it is the deterioration of values, empathy and compassion. It can cause people to focus on self, the overwhelming exposure to suffering can desensitize us to peoples hurt and the lack of interaction can cause us to care less about people.
Jesus’ compassion towards us was life saving. He was moved to the point he went to the cross. Compassion is love in action… To say you love, but not act on it is to not love at all.
We need to let our lives be interrupted and react with God’s love and compassion and most importantly...ACT! When you are moved by compassion, you see the power of God more than you see the need.
Though the word hope is in the definition of faith, sitting around hoping for God to do something is not what God is calling us to do. This is why Audacity is another value of ours. Audacity is our spirit, and this audacity helps us view faith with a drive that places action before the blessing that we trust God for. And we see the result through the expectation that God is going to honor the work that was put into it. That means taking risks at times.
The reason why we must have audacity as our spirit is because there an ambivalence to faith. It’s not clearly defined.
There are very little times in the Bible that a big risk wasn’t met with a big miracle. God did something big and bold for His people. God loves an audacious spirit, because without faith, the Bible says, it is impossible to please God. This is the reason why we want to keep focusing, as a church, to take bold risks. That audacity becomes our spirit... Why? Because people of faith aren’t supposed to play it safe.
Where there are miracles, there is a process. Where there is no risk, there is no reward.
We have to ask ourselves, what kind of risk are we willing to take for Christ?
God will always ask us to give him what we have, in order for him to give us what we need.
He cannot deposit in our life that which we aren’t willing to work (or dig) for.
You want to find God? Dig deeper.
We can’t just come to church. We need to come to church expecting to have an encounter with God.
Spend the week digging ditches. Dig ditches of Fellowship, Worship, prayer, and Word. Come to church with your hands dirty and with a shovel, ready to go deeper.
We look forward to going deeper with you this Sunday so grab your shovel and join us at 10:15 am as we get into the next value. See you soon!
The last two weeks, we’ve been digging into 1 John and learning who God is and how God wants us to live.
Until we know who God is, we will never know who we are. So who is God? God is light!
We are encouraged to step into the light, walk in truth, and live life knowing that once we step into the light, God's grace will meet us right where we are.
1 John 1:5-2:2
Light reveals and darkness conceals.
How many of you have left with two different color socks because you probably got dressed in the dark. You couldn’t discern dark blue with black but the moment the light hits it… You are like… “hold up a second…” Then you spend the rest of the day self conscious because light is revealing what you chose in darkness.
That is the epitome of what light does. Light reveals the blemishes that only light can expose.
We tend to want to hide the things we don't like about ourselves but you can’t change that which you won’t expose.
Christianity is a lifetime of exposure because it’s a lifetime of change.
God loves you and will forgive you, extend mercy, extend grace, but he loves you too much to keep you the same way. He requires change from us. That is what 1 John tells us.
‘This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. but if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. but if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.‘My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins
of all the world. 1 John 1:5-2:2 NLT
Here John is basically speaking to the Jewish Christians and telling them what it looks like to be in fellowship with God.
‘This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. (vs.5)
God is a difference maker. When God arrives everything changes! When you allow God in, your darkness is exposed but not to embarrass you… It’s exposed to fix you. God reveals truth in order to heal and give us a chance at living.
What truth do you need to practice? Not be perfect at but “practice”?
Practice makes better. What Christian practices are you practicing?
Life group (fellowship), Giving (generosity), Serving (Compassion), evangelizing (Hope), praising (trust in God), learning God’s Word (killing temptation) fasting (Building your faith), worshiping (loving on Christ)?
Light doesn’t just reveal what is missing in us, but what is available in Christ Jesus!
REAL life is available now is Jesus! Not this fake whoohoo facade that we
project to the world around us, but this real, meaningful, work-in-progress, deep and honest life that is not always pretty, but it is real. It’s revealed. It’s not hiding behind religion, or yesterday’s experiences. but it’s looking for good, meaningful experiences with Jesus today, and every day!
To live in the fullness of Life that God has for us, we must read on through 1John 2:11-17.
We all face cravings that are not from God and though our appetites cannot be seen, they are powerful. We naturally tend to crave things that end up only being an illusion from the enemy and do not even come close to what God has for us. The Lust of the Flesh (or Desire to do something apart from God's will), the Lust of the Eyes (or deep desire to have something) and the Pride of Life (or the desire to be something apart from God's will) are real temptations
we all face on a continual basis. But do you manage your appetites or do they manage you? We are ruining our appetite for God with lesser things.
Romans 6:12-13 tells us to to deny our flesh...so it is possible! None of these things lead to a good future but with God, there is always a next place. He wants us to Grow in freedom and experience that REAL LIFE he died to give us.
Come join us tomorrow as we continue LIGHT IT UP and celebrate dads!
Hello, church fam!
I want to start out this letter by saying how much I enjoy being your pastor. I am comfortable to say that these last 3-years of church planting, I have poured my heart and soul into this work alongside so many wonderful servant-leaders and I don’t regret it one bit.
We have done our very best and have seen some incredible glimpses of our vision come to fruition. We have enjoyed seeing lives changed by Jesus (in some cases even leaning-in towards Him more) when that was not even an option for them before!
Our model for ministry is one that is very relational and up-close and personal. We believe that our job is more than just preaching and teaching. We believe our job is to do life together with people and to just be present. That is what I consider life-giving and fun in ministry. However, on top of that, I also have the responsibility of meeting financial benchmarks for our denomination, training our leadership, working with the national conference who has supported our ministry over the years, creating processes for ministry, taking seminary classes, leading our vision and mission, maintaining proper documentation for statistical reports, and more. In addition to this, we have moved 4 times in 3 years, though I’m extremely glad that it led us to where we are at now. All of this has led to issues with work/rest balance and with that comes the tiredness and exhaustion.
The reason for this letter is to inform you that Celines and I have decided to take a 2 weeks renewal leave starting in June. In every church planting training that I have been part of, it is recommended that after 3 years of church planting work, that the planting pastor and family, take a renewal leave to give them a chance to replenish their energies, reconnect in their relationships, and reinvent their strategy for the work ahead. We intend to do so and come back with an even greater determination to see our mission and vision come to fruition for the Glory of God.
We will take 2 weeks starting June 4th and be returning June 18th. During these 2 weeks, we will continue our Light it Up series with Laura Santiago and Temo Rios, it would be awesome if you all can support them!
Here are four things that I would like you to do for us in our absence:
(click on the download file below for access to our leadership team contact form)
Love you all and I pray for even greater things in my short leave
In His Grip,
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