Impact Church

Passionately serving God and His people

Sword Play

Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

At a recent bible study, the discussion centered on a believer’s strategy to overcome the ever present temptation to doubt. Defining doubt as, “to be uncertain, be apprehensive, to question or be hesitant to believe something or someone”, doubt was dubbed a major player in Satan’s arsenal to subvert the underpinnings of faith and love.

Not to be outwitted or outdone by Lucifer’s poisoned arrows of doubt, we returned that night to faith as our shield of defense and the Scriptures as our sharpened sword. And what a powerful and proven panoply of weaponry it is! For with such armor, we found every insidious device to dissuade or devise doubt was forthrightly disarmed by the power of God’s word. And for practicality and courage sake, we found that power residing presently in the castle of our own hearts!

So with renewed confidence and warrior mind, we bivouacked that night in the land of God’s eternal promises. Withstanding the usual anxiety and frustration of present circumstances (and some situations, trust me, bordered hopeless and impossible!), we countered our foe by feasting copiously and fearlessly in the Land of indescribable milk and honey!

Was every hurt remedied that night as we meditated on the Word? Did every situation meliorate as the scriptures were expounded? Did every distressing circumstance improve immediately as we prayed and trusted the faithfulness of God? Did the group fall out in a trance, or everyone have an out-of-the-body experience?

Nope. Sure didn’t.

But you know what did happen? Read the rest of this entry »

Poem For the Fathers

Through you we learn about the Heavenly Father’s love. You’re a clear reflection of Him though He’s seated above.

You are His hands and feet on the earth; made in His image, created for purpose from birth.

You lead your family with wisdom and the utmost care. You hold things together on your knees in prayer.

You sacrifice to provide without recognition. You’re devoted and consistent; truly a man on a mission.

You’ve taught your arrows the gospel story- that their lives were created to ultimately bring Him glory.

You protect and defend your family. Your presence and support is our beautiful reality.

You’ve shown your children that in the face of any giant they have the courage to be bold as lions.

They learn so much by watching you. Through your life they see real life rescue.

They see that when you fall and begin to call, God always shows up and His strength isn’t small.

We know you juggle a lot and carry much weight. Please know our respect for you is exceedingly great.

Our heroes are often the strong and silent type with no gold medals or social media hype.

They don’t get a parade or the front page in the paper but make no mistake their reward will be greater.

For our heroes this morning may not wear red, white, or blue. Our heroes this morning are all of you.

From the bottom of our heart, thanks. Impact Church stands to applaud you.

What Amazes the Amazing One?

“When Jesus heard it, He marveled…” (Matthew 8:10)

Ever thought about the wonder-inspiring life of Jesus? We sing about His amazing grace, and rightfully so, but let’s reflect for a bit on His days with dusty feet and sweaty brow as a First Century human.

Time and time again through the gospels, we read that Jesus left people speechless with their jaws dropped open! When He made crippled men walk and dumb men speak and blind men see, the Jewish multitudes marveled. The villagers who watched Him grow up as a carpenter’s son were dumbfounded at this common man’s education and knowledge. “We’ve never seen anything like this in Israel!” they said.

Even those who set themselves against Jesus, the religious leaders of the day and their hired henchmen, were astonished at His authoritative teachings and had no answer for Him. “Nobody has ever spoken like this man speaks!” they said.

While others were amazed with Jesus’ words, Pontius Pilate marveled at His silence and self-control.

And those closest to Jesus, His own hand-picked disciples, repeatedly were left scratching their heads when their Master defied their expectations by talking to an unclean woman at a Samaritan well or by cursing a barren fig tree or by rebuking turbulent winds and waves. “Wow! What kind of man is this?!?”

Needless to say, the Greek word “thaumazo” (meaning to marvel or wonder) was used more than 30 times by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If Jesus were walking in flesh among us today, we might say He “dropped the mic” on a regular basis and left audiences stunned everywhere!

But have you ever wondered what makes the One called Wonderful wonder? What amazes the Author of amazing grace? What makes Jesus say “Whoa!”? Read the rest of this entry »

Well-Watered

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

I prefer to water my flowers early in the morning as the sun is rising to take its prominent position in the sky. I pour from the watering can until water overflows from the bottom and spills across my sidewalk. I fill to the point of excess because I know the afternoon is coming. The temperatures will inevitably rise and before the day ends the sun’s harsh rays will have direct access. There is nowhere to hide from the heat once afternoon arrives, but when the roots are well-watered they endure the heat with remarkable resilience.

As I was reading Isaiah 58 I was struck by the beauty of the promise found in verse 11. It says, “you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  As I studied the scriptures my heart leapt and I thought, “I want to be like a well-watered garden, too!” If I am totally honest though, I haven’t always run to the right source to satisfy my thirsty soul. I’ve ran to Instagram and popular Christian blogs to read good words when my Bible offers me God’s words. I’ve ran to people to receive affirmation when God’s approval of me is settled. Running to anything but God will always leave us spiritually dehydrated.

There is a better way.

There is hope for every dry place in our hearts. There is bread and water to receive from God’s word. Read the rest of this entry »

Yet Not I, But the Grace which was with Me

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain: but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Ah, firsthand stories arrive from the battlefield, and we lean in as decorated soldiers describe in detail the outwitting or demise of their enemies. Describe the dangers and moment to moment decisions required to survive – and our hearts beat faster, our throats gulp, and our eyes moisten.

Stories of human conflict and struggle weave for us precious tapestries, unforgettable and priceless. For the color of their character is highlighted in attributes true soldiers respect – valor, courage and sacrifice!

Yet, even with such earthy heroism rewarded and honored, no warfare is more dramatic than those engaging in Kingdom matters. The conflicts these soldiers enter are of another ilk and nature. Yes, these enemies are far more subtle and challenging, but their victories are sweeter and their rewards far richer!

So how exhilarating are the testimonies of the battle-scarred when their stories began and end with the grace of God! While soldiers of this life are promoted for skill and decorated for bravery, soldiers of the Cross take no personal credit for accomplishments. They know their strength, their ability and their victories are only testaments to the power and presence of another.

Otherworldly are the praises that flow from those who know their Captain has already defeated the enemies they confront.

Whether we’re given advance notice of spiritual skirmishes, or perhaps we’re even presently in the midst of hostile circumstances, or whether we’re relishing, post-war, the sight of Pharaoh’s chariots upside down in the sea – the soldiers of the Kingdom live only to magnify the grace that made them victorious!

Experiential boldness comes when God’s chosen grasp Grace’s full impartation to their communal psyche and assignment. Read the rest of this entry »

To the Mothers

by Stephen Bowden

Yours is a love that knows no end
For in you the Father desired life to begin.
He chose you as the vessel to share His love,
Receiving from Him the gift that was bestowed from above.

The beauty of your strength is displayed at birth,
His Word tells me far more than rubies is your worth
For you are a virtuous woman in actions and in deeds
To your wisdom sons and daughters take heed.

For God has walked with you, and ever been by your side.
Through imperfections, sorrows, and tears you’ve cried;
Yet He still chose you, a mother to nurture His image.
To pass down the faith, to strengthen His lineage.

Often your love and dedication is presented with no reward,
Please know you are appreciated. Your passion is seen by us and the Lord.
He commanded that we give you honor.
Today, and forever that is what we’ll do.

To the Mothers,
Happy Mother’s Day, From Impact to You.

The Way of Escape

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
(1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB)

If you’re human, consider these truths from God’s Word:

  1. You will be tempted to do wrong, and no temptation is unique to you.
  2. Indeed, even Jesus was tempted by Satan.
  3. Temptation is not sin; it cannot be since Jesus came through it unscathed. (Hebrews 4:15)
  4. God will always be faithful to provide a way of escape,…some translations like the one above call it the way of escape.

If we believe that our loving Father will never put us in a situation where failure is inevitable, then we can more easily accept times of temptation and trial as tests allowed by Him so we can prove what we’ve learned! If we take Romans 8:28 to heart, we know that our Master never brings anything into the lives of His children that He cannot redeem for our good and His glory! So God doesn’t want to see us fail; rather, He wants to strengthen our character and be glorified in the process.

Our all-knowing Teacher starts with the end in mind. We may be mired in the middle of the test, but He sees us acing the final exam! “He knows the way that I take: when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10)!

Let’s hear some practical advice on how to overcome temptation:

> Don’t let the devil sneak up on you! If you think you are beyond falling, my friend, you are a target. One verse earlier in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he warns the young believers that if they think they can stand on their own they will surely fall. Proud Christians are easy prey to the enemy.

> Seek help! Obviously we pray and read God’s Word and use Scripture against Satan as Jesus did in the wilderness, but we can also seek counsel and accountability from Godly brothers and sisters. Read the rest of this entry »

Above All, Love

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” – Romans 12:13 (NIV)

Every Tuesday night, once our kids are sound asleep, you can find my husband and I cuddled up on the couch watching the latest episode of HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper. On the show, Chip & Joanna Gaines show buyers three potential homes for purchase; each of which requires varying amounts of renovation. Once the buyers choose their home, Joanna handles preliminary designs while Chip serves as the lead contractor. Each episode ends with the breathtaking reveal of one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen; as a result all of my home interior dreams consist of shiplap walls, farmhouse sinks, white subway tile, “chippy-paint”, wooden beams, and barn doors. The homes revealed are nothing short of absolute perfection. The problem is, for most of us, this level of magazine worthy perfection is simply unattainable. We are tempted to view shows like Fixer Upper and become discouraged, feeling as if our homes are insufficient. If we aren’t careful we’ll begin to think that the Lord’s command to be hospitable has something to do with the condition of our homes when it actually has everything to do with the condition of our hearts. Hospitality isn’t just something to do, it’s someone to be.

The definition of hospitality according to dictionary.com is “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” In this definition there is no mention of throw pillows being straight, an elaborate meal being prepared, or fresh flowers being arranged. In fact, it doesn’t mention the condition of our homes once. I’d like to submit to you this truth- real hospitality has nothing to do with a beautifully decorated home or a meticulously planned gourmet meal. Whether we live in a 5 bedroom home or a 1 bedroom apartment God is asking us each the same question: Are we willing to swing wide open the doors of our homes and hearts and welcome others in? The only requirement is our willingness to say yes and demonstrate God’s love in a practical and tangible way. While love is considered abstract, hospitality puts flesh and bones on it. Hospitality displays God’s love in action.

Our God is the originator of hospitality. He welcomed Adam and Eve home into the Garden of Eden and surrounded them with unparalleled beauty and abundant provisions. Most importantly – He gave them His presence. Genesis records God walking in the garden “in the cool of the day.” Furthermore, while we were still sinners, alienated from God because of our sin, He sent His son Jesus. Jesus died for us so that we could be reconciled to God and invited into His family. Make no mistake – our God is hospitable. It’s who He is. As believers, we are to model God’s heart. When we imitate the hospitality of God we are living out the gospel for the world to see. Matthew 10:8 section b says, “Freely you have received, freely give.” We, who are extravagantly loved, are now commissioned to extravagantly love.

1 Peter 4:8 says, “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Above all, love.  Love has the miraculous ability to cover.

Love covers the dusty baseboards.

Love covers the crayons on the floor.

Love covers the dishes in the sink.

Ultimately God asks that we be selfless, not that our homes be spotless; Read the rest of this entry »

Draw Near

James 4:8a Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…

James’ writing style, straightforward and unequivocal, refreshes the faith of the pure in heart. Free of innuendo and doublespeak, his insights are uncluttered and uncommonly raw. Nothing is left to the imagination, his openness a precise and uncompromising approach to God’s presence. Do this, do that; and God will do this, or that! (To the guys in the shop, having such an analytical and mechanical approach to God is priceless!)

Conversely, many present day contemporaries have God omniscient and omnipotent, while making His knowledge and power inaccessible. Seems His virtues and character are perfectly described, but He’s simply untouchable. To them, He exists as an imagined, mystical or esoteric One. He’s over there, we’re over here – and in their theology, our arms are a bit too short! Their space between disciple and Master is unbridged, their gap too wide; their cause resting solely on the inherent sinfulness of mankind.

Briefly put – Religion exacerbates our human predicaments, while redemption divinely destroys them!

So, what a breath of faith air James provides- here’s a Father as near as we desire Him to be!

With knowledge of the Gospel we approach God, not timidly as outcasts or distant relatives, but confidently as His very own children. Regardless the climate and condition of our own spirituality (likely, the assessment of our own status must occasionally humor God!), access to the throne of His unfathomable Grace is ours. Not an access merited by our own works or goodness, but an access only possible through the Redeemer’s blood! No human valiancy needed or allowed here, only a valiancy to trust His work as amply sufficient!

At times in the journey, His presence will invariably seem distant. Whether He’s outpacing our stride, whether we’ve sit down, or whether we’ve lost sight of Him through our distractions – He patiently awaits our efforts to get closer. The distance and the causes for distance may vary, but His commitment to draw near to those who long for Him will not vary. He’s made the first and impossible step by coming to our planet… the next step will be ours!

Draw near to God; He ever lives to reward our faith!

The Hypocrisy of the “Hosanna!” Crowd

“And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

The stage was finally set. Passion Week, the final few days of Jesus’ life on earth, had arrived. The God-Man who had withdrawn from the spotlight and had preferred to keep His ministry rather quiet until then knew that His time had come.

Sometimes we picture the mob hailing Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as simply sweeping the Master onto a donkey’s colt in a whirlwind of frenzied excitement, spontaneously flinging down palm branches and their garments in front of Him. But the Gospels tell us that the Messiah — who had intentionally avoided such public displays before — orchestrated the event in fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy 400 years earlier.

Rather than mounting a horse as a conquering earthly king would have done in the First Century, Jesus fulfilled Scripture by sitting on a lowly colt, a sign of meekness, humility and peace instead of war.

Few Christians today realize that when the crowds shouted “Hosanna!” they were actually quoting from Psalm 118, where the original Hebrew word meant “Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord!” It was the beginning of Passover Week, and Passover always reminded the Jews of the time God delivered them from Egyptian oppression and slavery. News apparently had spread fast from Bethany, a small village just a couple miles outside the City of David, that Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead and was making quite an entry into Jerusalem when the city streets would have been filled with perhaps 2-3 million feast observers.

“This is the One we’ve been waiting for!” the crowd undoubtedly buzzed. “He will save us,…He will rescue us,…He will deliver us from the Roman oppression! HOSANNA!”

Sadly, the same crowd who cried “Hail Him!” would, just five days later, cry “Nail Him!” The same mob who shouted “Crown Him!” on Sunday would shout “Crucify Him!” on Friday.

Why? Because they wanted God on their own terms. They wanted to make Jesus a political and military leader who would use His power to overthrow the government. They couldn’t understand that the Messiah’s kingdom was a spiritual one where He wanted to reign in their hearts.

Think about it. Every time Jesus heard someone shout “Hosanna!” it must have hurt His heart. Indeed, it was during Passion Week that the Messiah wept over the City of David because of the people’s unbelief. He heard their “Hosannas,” but He saw their hypocrisy and their selfish motives.

The Master reserved some of His strongest rebukes and teachings for the final days of His life as He exposed and confronted the scribes and Pharisees, the Herodians and Sadducees for their blatant hypocrisy:

  • He compared the religious leaders to the barren fig tree He cursed because it bore no fruit.
  • He overturned the tables of the moneychangers who corruptly “fleeced the flock” with unfair exchange rates when converting Roman currency to Temple shekels. He literally lashed out at those with a whip who would take advantage of worshippers and forget the primacy of prayer.
  • He blistered the Pharisees for saying but not doing, repeatedly blasting them as “hypocrites,…blind guides,…fools,…a brood of vipers” (Matthew 23).
  • He rebuked Judas and others who criticized Mary’s extravagant worship when she poured an alabaster box of precious perfume over her Lord’s feet and intimately dried them with her hair. (When was the last time your worship was so lavish, costly and unbridled that it offended people around you?)

Many Christians want to hurriedly get past the hard-to-swallow parts of Passion Week so that we can celebrate Resurrection Day! Won’t you join us this week as we take time to read through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ final days on earth and make it a time of self-examination? Are we willing to surrender to God on His terms, not ours? Can we examine our religious motives and get serious about forsaking all facades and getting real with our faith?

If we can and will allow selfish intent and hypocrisy to be nailed to the cross of Calvary, the joyous celebration of Resurrection Sunday will reach a whole new level for us!