November 2017


By Mike Woolley

The beginning of the month is pay day. I like pay day. As a pastor I’m not sure if I’m supposed to but I do. It’s a time where I have given a piece of my life measured by time in exchange for a deposit in my bank account. If for some reason at the beginning of the month nothing came into my account, I would feel slighted. I would cry, “That’s unfair. I earned that.”
I have found I can never use those words with God. Grace is the opposite of something earned, and I’ve finally figured out that all is grace.

Don’t ever pray, “God, give me justice.” You don’t want God to give you what you deserve, which is judgment. Rather, a better thing to pray would be, “God, extend your grace to me.” When God extends grace, He gives you His unmerited favor and blessing.

The Bible tells us that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph.2:8–9).

We find a classic example of grace in the story of the prodigal son. The son had sinned. He dragged the family name through the mud. If the father had dealt with his prodigal son justly, he would have allowed the boy to be stoned. That would have been justice. But the father dealt with him in grace when he provided his son with luxurious attire and placed a signet ring on his finger. That was grace, not justice.

It struck me the other day that if I were blind and suddenly able to see, it would be a miracle. If I were crippled and could suddenly stand and walk and run, it would be an act of God. If I were in a coma with my family around the bedside and I gained consciousness, we would all praise God for bringing me back.

Every morning I wake from sleep. I open my eyes and I can see. I sit up and push myself off the side of the bed and I find I can walk. After lying in a coma for 8 hours I become conscious.

Every day I experience countless miracles. Because they happen every day, I think of them as something I deserve. Nothing could be further from the truth. You, O God, are full of grace, and it pours out every moment of every day. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear that grace as it fills the life that you have given me… in your grace.

I’m Not Finished
By Taylor Roche

This past week football season wrapped up. Well wrapped up for me. My fourth season as part of Moorpark’s freshman football staff. In our final game we faced Newbury Park and for the second straight year, the game turned out to be a great one. We eventually won but not without some adversity and it was those moments of adversity that prompted me to reflect yet again on the season I’d just completed as well as the ones prior. The fact of the matter is that coaching takes a lot out of you. Even when it’s just at the freshman level. It takes a lot out of you because if coaching is anything, it’s a process. You start out with athletes that are almost always not where you want them to be. You must spend countless hours shaping, instructing, demonstrating, teaching, sometimes for little or no improvement. There are times it can be pretty demoralizing. But when you stand at the end of the season and look back, as I did at the conclusion of this last week’s game, you realize the incredible progress you’ve made. You see how athletes have improved to do things that they had no chance of doing some three months ago. That makes the long hours well worth it. I wasn’t always very good at seeing the progress or trusting the process. I was always pushing and always impatient. But over the years as this has remained true I have learned to exercise a little faith and a little patience and trust that all will turn out alright. I have patience for the journey.

This makes me think of something a professor once shared with me on the eve of my graduation. “Taylor,” he said, “God is not finished with you, but God is also patient with you.” In that moment he gave me the courage to press on. To keep striving forward in my relationship with God, but to also recognize that God was patient with me. That God would be faithful to complete the work he had begun. And so, like Paul you and I can proclaim that we are not complete! We have not already obtained all that God has intended for us. But we press on, to make it our own, just as Christ Jesus made us his own. And so we strive toward the upward call of Christ. Finding strength in the power of the Holy Spirit to keep shaping ourselves into the image of Christ. Never content with our present failures, but trusting in God to see the work he began in us to completion.  

By Brenda Woolley
Do you believe that God can redeem anything?  I do.

This year I will turn 55! Yikes!  That really snuck up on me.  However, one of the benefits of turning 55, besides getting to use my senior citizen discounts, is that I have had the privilege of seeing so many people’s lives redeemed.  I have seen so many hard and horrible situations redeemed by God.  I have kept many journals over my lifetime.  It is so beautiful to look back at them and see how God has taken the worst of situations and completely transformed them.

I can tend to worry over people, and especially family members, and again and again God has been faithful to redeem.  I am currently praying over a family member to fall in love with Jesus.  This person just is in love with the world and all it has to offer.  It breaks my heart each and every day.  Not a day goes by where I have not stopped and cried out to God to redeem and to save.  I have had to go to God to set my heart in the right direction.  I can so easily stray from having trust and peace and just waiting and knowing that He sees all, and knows the situation better than I do.  I am memorizing scripture to be able to pray back to God and to settle my heart when I get worried, and to remind myself of promises and ways that God has come through in the past.  HE IS FAITHFUL. 

Read Luke 15:11-24 to read about the Prodigal that returned back home.  He was wasteful, reckless, lived his life for himself with no regard for the needs of others.  He partied hard and chose to spend money on ungodly habits and activities.  And YET, his life was redeemed!  I love to read this story because it reminds me that a life CAN be redeemed.  We can see a person who we believed could and would never change, be brought out of their pit and be found in Jesus once again.  They find true joy in Jesus, rather than in the things of this world.

The prodigal was proud, self-centered, greedy, wasteful and had a party life.  He then became broke and hungry.  He felt shame and was starving.  He then knew his need.  He made a decision to change and was humble, which caused him to return and ask for forgiveness.  His father completely restored him and he then had true joy.

Do you have a prodigal in your life?  May we never stop praying.


“Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in.” Ephesians1:18

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