Dale Saylor | Pastor, Spiritual Maturity
One of the greatest things a parent can do for their child is to say, “Let’s do this together.” As a dad, I find myself wanting to take care of things for my kids all too often – when what I really need to do is show them and then offer for us to both do it together. That way, they learn better and I don’t take care of it every time.
It is great when we can do other things together with someone as well. There are many times when we want to do things in our own and at times it is great when we can do things solo. However, there are also times when it’s so much better to work together as a team with someone else or a group of people.
When we work with someone or a group of people, it’s so important that we strive to work hard to accomplish a common goal. If we work with co-workers, we know that we need to collaborate and strive to help each other to do a better job individually and as a whole group. It’s important that helping each other is a priority so that everyone is encouraged.
It is obvious that we are all different and work in many different ways to do our jobs. Even with this challenge, it’s important that we strive to do what we can to ensure that we work together as a team with others, whatever the situation may be. Whether it be at church, a job, with siblings in a certain situation, or volunteering somewhere.
No matter what we are doing, it’s important that we work together to achieve a common goal. We absolutely must apply this to our Kingdom work as we work together in the church to achieve a common goal and that is encouraging each other to grow closer to the Lord and to win people to the Lord.
That last line is vital. We definitely need to strive to work together in the church to exalt His name. Our desire and passion should be ultimately to bring glory to His name and not promote our own agenda. It just really hit me that we need to do a better job here at The Chapel to strive to encourage one another as we seek to exalt His name.
God calls us to seek Him and to tell of His greatness. We need to do this together as the family of God. However, we cannot be stuck in our own selfish ways and desire to promote our own plan or agenda. We must work together and serve together to exalt Him. Instead of “Let me do this,” we need to say, “Let’s do this together!”
Please: get connected!
Emily Dickey | Choir & Orchestra Leader
Scientists used to think that the observable universe had about 200 billion galaxies. Now they believe that estimate is quite low. It’s also estimated that there are between 100-200 billion stars within our galaxy alone. Our sun is a modest star and travels in an orbit at 500,000 miles per hour, taking 250 million years to orbit the Milky Way.
Think of it. Trillions and trillions and trillions of stars. I honestly can’t even think of it. Yet, God “determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name” (Psalm 147:4 NIV, emphasis mine).
I read these stats about the universe the other day and thought, “Wow. God is so completely other than us. He is so beyond our understanding.” As the next verse says, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5).
Isaiah 40:25-26 says it this way:
To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
God is great.
I have a lot of things that seem big to me that I’m needing wisdom for in my life. Many of us do. Whether they are big life decisions, unwanted changes, the weight of a decision you face as a leader which impacts those around you, financial distress, or whatever, they loom large. But to God, they’re just no problem.
This can lead us to think, “My problems are so small to God that He doesn’t care.” But the wonderful other side of the equation is that God is good. He cares about us.
The next part of Isaiah 40:26 says about the stars, “Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.”
And the very next verse: “Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’?” His greatness reminds us of His care.
And God doesn’t simply care about us. He promises to give us strength when we’re weak (v.29) and wisdom when we ask in faith (James 1:5-6). We have access to the vast riches of His understanding and the depths of His strength! Let us go to Him; let us stand in awe of Him!
Oh our Lord, our God, we stand in awe of You, of Your power, of Your understanding. We thank You that You would allow us to tap into the limitless storehouses of resources—understanding, goodness, power, love, grace—that are who You are, Your essence, Your attributes. We need Your guidance and wisdom. We need Your grace and gentleness. And You give it in abundance! And if all this wasn’t enough, You involve us in Your unfathomable plan of redemption! You have chosen Your Church—us!— to be Your kingdom here on earth and to draw those outside of Your kingdom into it. We stand amazed. We worship You. To You be all glory, honor, majesty, and praise, both now and forevermore!
Amy Troyer | Special Needs Ministry Coordinator
Do you have those times in your life when God presents to you a verse that speaks directly to a situation or season you may be in? Sometimes, you get those verses over and over in different ways. Maybe you hear it on the radio, read it in your devotional or book, and then hear someone speak that verse to you. It is meant for you to hear and hold on to. I am so very thankful when the Lord brings these special verses to me.
The verses below are some that have been brought to my attention over last year:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.Hebrews 13:8
This verse is so comforting to me! Things all around me seem to be changing – some good, some not so great, and others just change because that is the nature of life. But Jesus never changes. I can hold on to this promise and know in my crazy, mixed-up, upside-down life that I can anchor myself to this!
Another verse I find being presented to me over and over is:
I will never leave you nor forsake you.Hebrews 13:5
He will never leave me! Never leave me. Not for any reason. Neither my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor even a really bad mood will make Him want to leave me!
Because of past hurts in my life, including betrayal and abandonment, I had trouble holding on to this promise and believing it to be true. I had buried the fear of being abandoned somewhere inside. But if one thing is certain, burying things certainly doesn’t heal them. These fears started to resurface as our oldest daughter has been preparing for marriage, which means she will be leaving our house to start her home, and I need to let go.
I know, deep down, that this is what her father and I have been doing all of these years. Raising her to be able to go out into the world and leave the nest. But, no one prepared me for how hard it would really be. In looking back at her school years, I think I should have seen it coming. I was the momma who cried on the first day of her full day at school, the first day of middle school, the first day of high school, Junior year, Senior year (you get the picture).
Letting go is not easy, and I have not been good at it. But, if I am trusting in His promises, then that means letting go and holding on to Him instead of holding on to someone or something.
As I continue to enter into this new season of life, I will continue to hold on to these promises and remind myself of these verses over and over until my heart accepts what I know in my head to be true.
One last promise to hold on to!
I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:20
Jamie Fuller | Servant Coordinator
Create in me a clean heart, O God.Psalm 51:10
The junk drawer.
Most of us have one, either at work or at home, or both. The handy dandy drawer that collects random items like a vacuum. It’s the drawer you probably need to clean out and definitely don’t want anyone to see.
It’s the spot where you put things that don’t have a real place, don’t want to deal with, part with, or that just might come in useful someday. (i.e., a safety pin, stale stick of gum, an old AAA battery, or a dried-up sharpie marker).
On two recent occasions, I opened the junk drawer at my desk, and both times I exclaimed something. The first time, I said, “Ugh, this is such a picture of my life.” The second time, two friends happened to be standing close enough to my desk to see what a wreck it is, so when I opened it and they had a clear view of this travesty, I said, “Don’t look at my mess!”
I was commenting about this junk drawer phenomenon to another coworker and he said, “Oh I have one at home and at work and I know EXACTLY what is in it. It’s my stuff.”
So, what’s the big deal? Aren’t we all entitled to a space where we allow ourselves to collect clutter? Don’t I deserve a spot that I don’t have to manage? Shouldn’t there be a place where I have the freedom to toss things I don’t want to deal with, get rid of, leave totally unorganized, or maybe even hide things in? Perhaps, if I leave something in the junk drawer abyss long enough, I will forget about it completely.
We can have spiritual junk in our hearts and there is one place to bring it all. This place of freedom that we desire is at the foot of the cross. There are things we can’t manage on our own and at the top of the list is our sin.
Jesus can handle the junk drawer of our hearts. He can help us with all those things we’ve acquired over time that are stuffed in the depths of our souls that we can’t let go of, don’t know what to do with, are never going to throw away or are holding on to, just in case.
He can look straight at our mess and still love us.
He was there when it happened and He’s seen it accumulate.
He offers us a recycle bin of grace and can take our junk and turn it in to something for His purposes and glory.
What’s in the junk drawer of your heart? Are you ashamed to open it up? Do you need to take the mess to the foot of the cross where freedom is found? Ask Him what you need to keep (truth) and what you need to throw away(lies).
He’s not afraid of what’s in your junk drawer. He sees it all and He loves you anyway.
Dale Saylor | Pastor, Spiritual Maturity
In Genesis 22:17, God promises Abraham, “I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.” When we read this as western Christians, we think that it is all about numbers… but it’s actually about community.
Abraham knew two types of sand: the sand of the desert and the sand on the seashore. The desert sand is obviously very dry, so if you pick up a handful, it slips through your fingers. The sand found on the seashore, however, sticks together because it is kept wet [by what the Jews of Jesus’ day would call the ‘living water’ of the ocean]. Listen carefully to God’s promise to Abraham. God designed His followers to be like the sand at the seashore—sticking together and supporting each other through Jesus Christ, who is the Living Water.
We are purposed to stick together and keep track of those on the journey with us. Keep your eye on the goal: to follow Christ’s lead. We get off track when we want it our way or aren’t waiting for others to come along too. It’s easy to forget where our allegiance lies. We are not citizens of this world, but of heaven.
Who are the people sticking to you in community? We are NOT made to go it alone. We are in this together. Get connected!
Stay faithful and finish strong,
Kali Brandon | Director, Local Outreach
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2
As we reflect on the Easter season, we can see how the context of our modern culture allows traditions like egg hunts and dinner plans to take center stage in our minds. Now, I’m not legalistic, and I won’t advise you to forsake those traditions in future years. But, what I will do is encourage you to keep the main thing the main thing, now and always.
Jesus, as Mediator of the New Covenant, is the supreme example of faith. He suffered the ultimate martyrdom to save us from our sins. His struggle and victory are ours. He alone is “the founder and perfecter of our faith,” the champion who brought faith to its complete expression, and, as such, is our ultimate example.
This is it! This is the main thing! We don’t need to fret about whether the Easter pictures turned out perfectly or if the guests liked the food we served. We don’t need to worry about whether the grandkids loved their Easter baskets. Those aren’t “the main thing!”
Instead, we are called to focus on the Lord’s life, death, and resurrection—today and every day—as we run with endurance, keeping the main thing the main thing.
Wendy Nowak | Director, Chapel Kids
All through Scripture, God shows us how He deeply loves and values children. Kids matter greatly to God as His personal, image-bearing masterpieces designed to do good God-work in the world. When Jesus walked this earth, He was adamant with His people that children should not be turned away from Him, but they should be brought to Him for blessing.
In the Bible, God repeatedly charges each generation to teach His commands to the next generations, and to intentionally remember His works. The reality of the 4/14 window tells us that nearly 85% of believers come to Christ between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. This should awaken an urgency to plant and water seeds of truth, tilling the soil of young hearts, developing growing faith as a top priority. This is discipleship of the child saints and saints-to-be. This is reaching the lost and maturing them in faith.
I love how God uses stories to show how He values children and works through them. We see Samuel hear from God and give a message to an adult spiritual leader; we see eight-year-old Josiah, who “did what was right in the eyes of Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2); we see Naaman’s servant girl who was enslaved and trafficked, yet had wisdom and confidence to advise that Naaman see the prophet Elijah for healing; we see the boy with the loaves and fishes who did not hide or consume the food his mama packed him to eat; we see David as a brave shepherd, faithful in the daily serving, looked down upon by brothers, but God’s plan for him was exceedingly, abundantly above what he could ask or imagine.
The church’s role in discipling these precious, loved-by-God kids is to come alongside families to nurture the next generation in faith in Jesus Christ. While our church volunteers work wholeheartedly to help kids know God through Jesus, by processing truth from His word and by lovingly nurturing kids, we must connect these efforts to the home and family as much as is possible. Scripture shows that God designed our faith-life to grow and develop primarily in the context of family life and in the communities of families who follow God (the church).
We believe families have the greatest influence over the course of time, and also have the greatest quantity of time with their children. It is the role of the church body and the family to teach, magnify, and celebrate God’s word and pass down truth to the next generations. This is the Holy Spirit’s work (thankfully!), but we can create spaces, places and groups at church and at home that will help kids hear and respond to God.
In scripture, we see that the heads of families held great responsibility. It is possible to lead our families well as the Holy Spirit enables and fills each broken believer who loves God and trusts Jesus. When a family leader seeks God and has the help of God’s people, there is renewed hope and power in God’s ability to change the trajectory of lives, breaking chains and generational patterns, bringing restoration and newness. (Hebrews 11:6-8, Acts 2:38-40, Acts 10, Joshua 6:23)
In the church setting, our older parents and families need to teach the younger families about home life. (Titus 2:3-5). In the home and community, parents are to teach God’s word to their children as they go about their daily life, in their homes and travels, in their waking up and lying down (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, Isaiah 38:19)
It doesn’t take long for a generation to lose the firm foundation of truth because disciple-making was forgotten or ignored. We see that in our communities and other nations. May it not happen on our watch, Lord. Preserve Your Word through us.The greatest impact we can make on the world is to raise up disciples who experience and understand God’s truth – the truth – in Jesus — which transforms hearts and rescues sinners for eternity. It is a primary priority of God’s people to teach the next generation about Him, loving God first, loving others. The highest way to love them is to share the truth of salvation in Jesus. (Acts 2:38-40, Matthew 28:18-20)
Dale Saylor | Pastor, Spiritual Maturity
Many people like formulas. They like bullet points. There are those who like bright lines. They make life easier. They cut through mystery and doubt. We’d love it if such things could govern our relationships with God. They would make following him easier, too. At least, we think they would. So we try to create them. It starts innocently: Someone seeks God and finds him—through a specific prayer or practice, or through a particular way of studying Scripture or being in community or doing service. But, then, that person decides that’s “the” way to find God. Others are persuaded, of course, because they want to find God too. And a formula is born, a bullet point, a bright line, a rule about how our relationships with God must look.
The thing is, though God never changes (James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8), our relationships with Him do. They’re ever changing, ever challenging (2 Corinthians 3:18). There’s always more with God. There’s always mystery. And there’s always something new. But because we fear change and fear being challenged, we often cling to what’s worked in the past or what’s worked for someone else. We create a rule or repeat a ritual, but we may not grow and mature in our relationships with God or with others.
The disciple-making process is completely relational and reproducible, and is designed to be replicated in the lives of others. As you study and grow, remember that you are not merely learning for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of others. God expects us to live in community with other believers for spiritual growth, encouragement, and accountability. Get connected!
Jeff Martell | Pastor, Spiritual Maturity
I remember one time we were down in Florida on a family vacation. My wife Marcia, son Luke, daughter Natalie, and me. Strangely, my kids don’t love the beach. But we were in Florida, so Marcia and I “made them” come to the beach with us one day. And of course, once we got there, they had a lot of fun. One of the coolest parts was seeing a pod of dolphins right off shore. They were literally swimming 12-15 feet from Luke, Natalie, and me. It was amazing
The dolphins swam around us for about 15 minutes. And that whole time we were watching them, we were facing the ocean—intently focused, with our backs to the shore—looking for where the next dolphin would pop up its head.
Marcia was on the shore sitting with our supplies on the beach. After a while, when I turned around to look for her and head back to shore, I didn’t recognize any of the people on the beach. And I thought, “Where’d she go? Did she leave? Is she messing with us??”
But as I scanned down the shore… I saw her. Down a ways. Actually, quite a ways. In the exact same spot she had been. She hadn’t moved one inch. We were the ones who moved. I wasn’t keeping my eyes on the shore, and the current had caused me to drift. It pulled me down the beach without me even realizing it.
,As I was reflecting on the day later that night, I thought, “Man, if we’re not careful, this is exactly what can happen to us in our spiritual lives.” In pastoral ministry for 18 years now, I’ve seen this happen in many people’s lives. They hear the gospel, come to trust Jesus, have a vibrant relationship with Him, have the right heart, and try hard to do right things for the right reasons. But somewhere along the way, they lose their focus. They start to drift. They start to make compromises. They start to do ministry independently. They take their focus off that spot on the shore. And it’s not just “them;” it happens to me and you too.
But just like the solution in the ocean is to simply keep turning back to the shore to focus on your spot on the beach, the solution for us spiritually is actually very simple too. And yet, if we’re honest, we often feel the temptation to get away from it. Here’s the solution to our spiritual drift: Jesus must be my focus and my anchor. He’s the one who keeps us from drifting. He’s the one who keeps us from making moral and spiritual compromises. He’s our anchor when the storms of life come our way. He’s like our compass who shows us True North. It’s incredible how quickly and easily we can begin to drift when our eyes are off our Savior. And how quickly He lovingly reorients us when we turn our attention and focus back to Him.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.Hebrews 12:1-2a
Where is your focus? What is your anchor? When the storms of life come, or the cultural currents begin to shift the sand under your feet, Who is holding you firm? May Jesus be our focus on the shore and anchor in the storm.
Amy Troyer | Special Needs Ministry Coordinator
I recently read a devotion by Max Lucado that talked about holding on to this great and precious promise:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus has entered on our behalf.HEBREWS 6:19-20
“The anchor has one purpose – to steady the boat. To weather a blast of bad weather, one that can hook securely to an object that is stronger than the storm.” We need a good anchor! When we hear and watch all that is going on in the world, the soul needs a good anchor. “Not one that is set on a boat or a person or possession. No, our anchor is set in the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus has entered on our behalf.”
Imagine our anchor attached to the throne itself. It will never break free. The anchor is set! Why? Because it is beyond the reach of the devil and under the care of Christ. “Since no one can take your Christ, no one can take your hope.”
Read the entire devotion here and be encouraged today!