February 2018

God See’s You
By Mike Woolley
We live in a time where everything is being recorded. If you run a red light, your picture will be taken and a ticket will arrive in your mailbox. Whenever you shop at a store chances are a camera is recording your visit. One article I read on this subject said, “We may not realize it, but we are all movie stars, thanks to the roughly 30 million surveillance cameras throughout the United States that capture each of us on film about 200 times daily.” There’s no question about it, you are being watched. You are not going to get away with anything.
It is not a matter of “if” but “when” we are going to say or do something we wish we would have never said or done. But the truth is cameras aren’t even needed when we think about how God sees and knows everything about us. Over and over again the psalmist reminds God, “You know me.” And of course he’s right. And God knows you too.
But God doesn’t know all about you just because He knows everything like a super surveillance genius who knows a ton of both useful and useless information. God knows you because He loves you. God says to the psalmist at one point, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you.” It is his way of saying, “I loved you before you were you.”
Deeper than knowing God is being known by God. What defines us as Christians is not most profoundly that we have come to know Him but that He took note of us and made us his own while we were yet sinners.
Gal.4:9 “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
One of my favorite things about the Gospel is it solves a primal need of human beings. We cannot truly be loved without being truly known. But our fear, and it is well founded, is if someone really knew us they would reject us. So we all put up false fronts and beneath those false fronts we are dying of loneliness. But the Gospel says that God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
So remember God’s surveillance camera is rolling, but He is looking deeper than our actions. He looking at our hearts and wanting us to love Him just as we are. When I was at my very worst, God loved me the very most.
By Taylor Roche
As some of you may have known I got to spend last weekend up in Running Springs with some of our high school and junior highers, not to mention about three hundred other similar students from around southern California. We had a great few days of fellowship and worship. Each year at either winter camp or summer camp there is a new “theme”. Some phrase or concept that the whole retreat is built around. In general I’m a fan of some of the themes and others I don’t relate to as much, this year however, was probably one of my favorites. The theme this last weekend was the word “Kaleidoscope”. This refers to, as you probably know, an old toy where you peer in one side of the tube and depending on where you point it, see a fantastic symmetrical pattern of colors and shapes.
The message of camp was that the gospel should have a similar affect on our vision as a kaleidoscope does. The good news of Jesus should be something that radically changes the way we look at the world. It’s a powerful and convicting reminder. I think of how often Christianity becomes simply something I believe, or something I do on the side, like working out for instance. In contrast to this, Jesus in the gospels provides us with a powerful new way of understanding and viewing the world. I wonder, how different might not just our lives but the inner workings of our mind be, if we really began to use the Gospel not as just one of many things that make up who we are, but the powerful lens through which we see all things. If we constantly prayed, “Lord am I seeing what you’re seeing?” how different might even ordinary mundane things look? Isn’t there a chance that things like washing the dishes, going for a walk, being a spectator at a sporting event, or even driving on the freeway, might begin to be seen in a radically new light? That’s the real power of the gospel. It’s transformative. It changes and reshapes every aspect of our lives. So let’s ask ourselves, do we see what the world sees? Or do we see what God sees?
Do you THINK before you speak?
By Brenda Woolley
I have come to the conclusion that teaching kids about the truths in the Bible has changed my life.  This past week at our Tuesday night kids bible study, I taught a lesson on the damage of Gossip.  I was so convicted about my own life while studying that I came to them and confessed of my own sin in this area.  They were real quiet as I shared but listened intently to every word.  They all had something to share and were so eager to learn. 
We talked about what a gossip is… a gossip is someone who reveals secrets without permission.  One who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. This person likes to make others look bad and likes to exalt themselves.  They speak of the faults and failings of others, or they enjoy revealing embarrassing or shameful details of the lives of others without their knowledge or approval.  The kids had so many examples, without naming names of course!
We then talked how it can so easily move to slander, and that is so hurtful to our friends and family. Slander is malicious and intended to purposefully hurt another person.
Together myself and the kids went through scripture and God is very clear on how He feels about gossip.  Check out these verses:
Psalm 101:5 says, “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy”.
The end of Romans lists what a depraved mind is and in it are gossips and slanderers…and it further says in 1:30,32 “backbiters are worthy of death and so are people who approve of others who practice it.”   Those are some very strong words and that is just a few verses. We talked about so much more, but then I had to give them some practical application for their everyday lives.   We did some role playing, which was priceless, just to get the point across.  We also did a few object lessons with a tube of toothpaste.  I had Ava squeeze out all the toothpaste and then asked her to put it all back in.  Obviously, she could not do it, and we made the point that once you say something it is out there, damage done, and you can’t take it back.  You can apologize, but the damage has already been done. The kids got it!
We all left with a paper in our hands with words to remind us to “Think” before we speak!
“T” – is it true? “H” – is it helpful? “I” – is it inspiring? “N” – is it necessary? And “K” is it kind? 
We all promised to work on this the following week.
Matthew 12:33-37 talks about our hearts.  What the mouth speaks depends on the condition of the heart.  So, to correct our speech, we must correct our hearts. We need to pray like David did in Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

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