Dear Woodside… Reset Your Reading

“But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”” (Matthew 4:4, ESV)

It’s April 21st. Do you know where your 2016 Bible Reading Plan is? You know, the plan you dedicated yourself to on January 1 and that you promised yourself you would get through this year? The plan that was going to be the plan to end all plans and demonstrate your growth and discipline and ability to comprehensively read the Bible in the entirety of the year. The plan that maybe got sideswiped by a week of sickness, busyness, and maybe a day or two of indifference? Yep - that plan… 

Now before the tidal wave of guilt crashes down upon you, let me encourage you; I’m right there with you. Not that I’ve given up or am so far behind in the plan that I’ve abandoned it. But I do know the difficulty of keeping up with the plan, and the frustration of getting behind in it. I will confess, I am behind myself in the plan too. But I haven’t given up. 

A few years ago I was encouraged to just keep working at these kinds of plans. Actually, the encouragement was to daily make some progress. Just read one chapter a day. Even if you only read one chapter a day you will still get through the Bible in the space of three years. How many people do you know who have read through the Bible in the space of 10 years, let alone 3? 

I want to encourage you in this because our hearts can lean a few different ways when our spiritual work lags behind. On one hand we can despair, give up, and fail to make progress because we feel the hole has been dug so incredibly deep that we will never catch up. If this is your present state of mind, you may be in danger of thinking that your acceptance before God is based on your performance. Remember, Christ has completed the work you failed to complete so that in him you are identified as perfectly acceptable because of Christ’s work. Don’t despair, continue to press forward because you are already accepted. 

On the other hand we can see the “law” of the Bible reading plan and believe that if we get back at it, catch up, and complete our Bible reading plan this year then we are really special. We might look with proud sorrow upon our meager friends who haven’t kept up like we have, and who haven’t performed like we have, and feel a tinge of judgment that they aren’t as close to God as we are. The reality is that even our righteous accomplishments are insufficient, and even filthy in the light of God’s holiness. We must repent of our self-righteousness. 

These two perspectives can be applied to any good work; we either despair of not doing the work, or rise up in pride because we did do something good! But our hearts need something greater — we need a righteous one who gifts his good, perfect work to us and we need a superior one who humbles us to see our need and call us to repentance. 

This is why the gospel must be central to all things for us. Christ must be the center. Our Bible reading is a means, a vehicle, by which we get to Christ and know Christ and grow in Christ. But it is by no means a substitute for having Christ. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for keeping up on their Bible reading plans but failing to see him in them (see John 5:39). And Jesus encouraged sinners to be sustained and nourished and grow by every word that comes from the mouth of God (see Matthew 4:4).

Let me encourage you, as I have, to reset your Bible reading plan and more importantly, reset your heart. Why are you reading? Why are you failing to read? What motivations stand behind your pursuit of engaging and embracing the Bible? May it be only because you long to see Jesus and be nourished by His word. May it never be to check off a box of superiority and self-righteousness. Let’s allow the gospel to reset our lives in every way. 

This Sunday

Sunday we will continue our pursuit of wisdom by receiving from the Proverbs instruction in regard to wealth. Our ambition is to allow Christ, who is our wisdom, to shape every area of our heart to be in alignment with him, including our money. To help you be ready to sing on Sunday be sure to check out our setlist that we’ve put together on Spotify to be ready on Sunday.

  • Mighty Warrior
  • Even So Come
  • Place of Freedom
  • O Praise the Name
  • Restore My Soul

India Mission Opportunity

Also, we wanted to be sure to remind you about the India Mission meeting this Sunday at 12:30. Lauren from our Life Impact team will be hosting the informational meeting in the conference room for any who are interested in going on a short-term, overseas mission trip to India with Woodside. The trip will take place in October this year and we are excited to see how God will use us to advance the gospel in India among those in need. 

May the Lord bless you as you head into this weekend. I am eager to see his grace speak into our lives again as we gather. Please let me know if there is any way I can be in prayer for you.

In Christ,
Jeremy

 

Dear Woodside... Don't Be Ashamed!

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16, ESV)

Shame is a powerful motivator and demotivator in our society. Deep embarrassment, regret, and fear can cover us when we come face-to-face with the things that bring shame to our lives. May things can cause or bring us shame in our lives; our sinful behavior, pride, indifference and lack of love. Some things that cause us shame aren’t sinful, they’re just goofy. The YouTube video that’s out there of me singing karaoke is one such example. Shame, however, can cancel out our ambitions and courage to display and declare great things.

Yet, the gospel should never be one of those reasons for shame. Instead, the gospel should be a great catalytic and motivating reality for boldness and courage. The gospel should be a driving force that has captured our hearts and compels us to declare “be reconciled to God!” The gospel is the very fuel and focus of the mission we have been given by God. Why?

Paul declares that the gospel — the good news of that Jesus has lived, died, and been raised to life again so that we would be reconciled to the Father — that good news is power. It is God’s power to save and it is God’s power to save everyone who believes. The gospel word is a powerful message of God’s grace and love and care. The gospel message is a call, a declaration, a broadcast of reconciliation to the world that Jesus is King, come and be reconciled to him! The gospel is power. And its power is the power to save. The gospel takes those who were dead in their trespasses and sins and makes them alive together with Christ. The gospel opens ears and eyes and replaces stone hearts with hearts that beat fresh with life again. The gospel turns the broken into healed, takes the captive and gives liberty, blesses the downtrodden with God’s favor. The gospel is the power of God to bring salvation.

So who is this power for? Everyone who believes. Every person who sees the glorious grace of Jesus and turns from their sin to bank their life on him will receive salvation. The promise is universally available, there are no exclusions.

This is why Paul says he’s not ashamed of the gospel. He knows what that message can do and who it is for. The message is for the world, and the message brings salvation. Which of course begs the question, what do we think of the gospel?

Are we ashamed of it? Does it embarrass you? Is it something you’d rather hide and only bring out from time to time because it’ll make everything awkward? Or does the promise of salvation and and the scope of mission empower and engage you? Does it make you bold?

Easter Sunday is just a few weeks away. It is a prime time for us to trust and believe that the gospel is powerful and that it is available and to not be ashamed of it. I want to challenge you this month to give yourself to investing in some specific people and inviting them to join us on a Sunday morning this month. Have a meal with them. Invite them into your home. Share life with them. But more specifically invite them to Jesus. Declare the gospel to them. Invite them to worship with us on Sunday where they will hear the gospel proclaimed. Demonstrate and declare to them how great Jesus is, so that they might turn and call on the name of the Lord.

Let’s not be ever ashamed of the gospel ever! But specifically this month, let’s be motivated by the gospel of God, which brought us from death to life, and share that with everyone we know! I am eager to see a great harvest of souls this month as many come to faith in Christ. I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!

Sunday at Woodside

This is the last week of our Kadima series as we talk about moving from Bible knowledge to Knowing God. Our text will be Colossians 1:9-11. As we sing together we will be signing the following songs to exalt God and worship him in every way. Here’s the Spotify playlist for Sunday morning that you can listen ahead of time:

  • Found In You
  • Holy Spirit
  • Good Good Father
  • Revelation Song
  • Lord I Need You

We also want to remind you to return the baby bottles this weekend that we distributed for the AAA Pregnancy Center on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday back in January. We want to continue to bless and support this ministry in their effort to help women and men who are experiencing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

I am looking forward to worshipping with you together on Sunday and celebrating the greatness and grace of God. Let’s continue to be faithful in advancing the gospel for the glory of God!

Kadima,
Jeremy

Good Friday - The Exchange of the King

Good Friday - The Exchange of the King

The event of this day in Jesus' life cannot be overstated. Simply put Jesus died in one of the most horrific methods of human torture ever devised. Certainly his death was the culmination of the day, but each step along the way demonstrates the depths and extent of his sacrifice and love for his people. Each action of Christ on this day demonstrates the way he stood in our place to receive what we deserve. It shows us the incredible ways his sacrifice for us is a gift for us in everything we need. Good Friday displays the "Great Exchange" of the King for us.

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