What is Lent? 


Lent is a 40-day period before Easter that commemorates the time Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan before He began His public ministry. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday. There are more than 40 days because Sundays are not considered days of fasting.

The church has long regarded Lent as a season of soul searching and repentance as believers prepare for the joy and celebration of Easter.  We should reflect on the significance of Christ’s death, examine our hearts, and confess our sins. It is to be an intentional time of spiritual cleansing and renewal.

Fasting is encouraged as a part of Lent in preparing our hearts for Christ.  Fasting includes giving up food or something meaningful to us (alcohol, swearing, criticizing, social media, rage, etc).  Fasting also includes adding a spiritual disciple to our daily schedule where the time is spent in developing our relationship with Christ (solitude, silence, meditation, prayer).

Springcreek will offer daily devotionals from the staff for each day of Lent (February 14 - April 1).
Additionally, we hope you will join us for three special worship services to encourage personal reflection during Lenten season preparing us for Christ’s sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection Easter morning.

For more information, please email Associate Pastor Lee Jarrell.

Join us for these special services on our journey to Easter...


Ash Wednesday Service
Wednesday, February 14 at 7:00pm in Main Auditorium

Maundy Thursday Service
Thursday, March 29 at 7:00pm in Main Auditorium

Good Friday Service
Friday, March 30 at 7:00pm in Main Auditorium
 

Easter Weekend Services: "More Than A Fan"

Saturday, March 31 at 5:00pm in Main Auditorium
Sunday, April 1 at 10:00am and 11:30am in Main Auditorium


Lenten Season Devotionals 2018

Posted daily Ash Wednesday through Easter. Devotionals can also be viewed on Facebook.


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Easter Sunday, April 1

Thank you for joining us on the journey to Easter.
Jesus is alive! Celebrate!

 
 

LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Holy Saturday, March 31

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

Today is Saturday, also known as Holy Saturday. It’s the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Historically, this was the day that the body of Jesus lay in His tomb, dead. The disciples and many others were mourning the death of Jesus.

What do we do the day after a loved one dies? It’s usually a day of deep reflection as we try to come to grips with the reality of the situation. We generally think about the relationship we had with the loved one we lost. We remember things that were said and done, both good and bad, and how those actions and memories still affect us. We draw comfort from sharing our unique remembrances with one another. So today, let’s reflect and remember that our loved One, Jesus, took our punishment and died to save us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to pay the price for my sins. You gave up Your life for me and now I give my life to you daily. I pray that everything I say and do would be for Your glory. Amen.

- Kathy Wellman, Communications Director


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Good Friday, March 30

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8.1

The beauty of the gospel is that your guilt was nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ. The power of that guilt was shattered when He rose from the grave. There is now no condemnation - nothing to feel guilty about - for those who are in Christ Jesus. Nothing you can do, could do, will do, or won't do has any power whatsoever over your standing with God. He loves you unconditionally and accepts you utterly in Christ. At your worst, God loves you most.

Many years ago now, I had just finished a series on guilt and grace when one of my friends who I've known for years, was for the first time in her life really hearing and applying the message of grace. The messages were changing all her categories about God and she was feeling great. But I'll never forget when she pulled me aside and asked, "Are we just making God into what we want Him to be?" What she was really saying was, "Isn't this too good to be true?"

And I told her, "We have made God into what we want Him to be." But you need to understand that the image we made up was not of a God who is full of grace and love. We made up the God who diminishes our personhood when we foul-up. We made up the God though our sins were punished in Jesus, makes sure we get what's coming to us whenever we fail. We made up the God who turns His back on us when we've sinned. When human beings are given a chance to make God, He looks like them.

My friends, God knows everything about you, knows your deepest darkest secrets, knows your complete and utter powerlessness to please Him in yourself, and yet His settled disposition toward you is love. Accept the gift of the no condemnation lifestyle that He provided through His Son Jesus Christ.

- Pastor Keith Stewart


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Maundy Thursday, March 29

Maundy Thursday is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Last Supper. It's important to remember that we're not attending a funeral but a victory supper. Communion has become for many a funeral for poor Jesus rather than the celebration it actually is.

Think about it. The origin of the Lord's Supper has its roots in the Jewish Passover celebration. Jesus took the elements of that Passover meal and redefined them. Here's how Passover is described in the OT… This is a day you are to commemorate for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord. Exodus 12.14

If you walk out of slavery after 400 years, your father was a slave as was his father and the father before him - as far back as you can remember - then God gives you a meal to commemorate the event that finally set you free, would that meal be a downer or a celebration?

Jesus took the Passover meal, a celebration of the emancipation of slavery and taught us that he brought an even more profound freedom for all humanity from the slavery of sin. Communion reminds us that God has already dealt with the worst this life has to offer and has been victorious. What problem in your life is too big for God?

- Pastor Keith Stewart


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Wednesday, March 28

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13

Love is a word that we hear all the time! I love my pets, my car, my friends, my church. But do we truly know what it means? As Jesus was talking with His friends in John 15, He says this in verse 13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Jesus describes sacrificial love in this statement. It's this love that moved Jesus from heaven to earth. It's this love that moved the disciples to leave the upper room to spread the good news of the gospel.

Love is the most important thing.

How can we possibly love sacrificially to the point of laying down our lives? I believe it's only when we keep Christ's sacrifice in view that we can love as He loved us.

- Omar Moore, NextGen Associate Pastor

 


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Tuesday, March 27

We’ve all experienced different types of crisis in our lives. Sometimes it’s prolonged and it seems like it’s never going to end. That’s been the story in our lives lately. My 83-year old mom fell at Christmas and over the past several months there’s been numerous complications. In the midst of that crisis, a few weeks ago, my 25-year old son, had a neurosurgeon remove a staph infection off his spine – an infection that was just hours away from leaving him paralyzed or worse.

We were so frustrated. We wanted to “fix” it. We questioned why the doctors weren’t working on our timeline. We had so many questions – and no answers. Then it happened. In that still, small voice, this verse kept coming to me, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

God was clearly telling me to trust Him and to not lean on what I could understand. So instead of trying to figure it all out in my brain, I needed to let go and trust HIM. After all, He knows what mom needs, He knows what my son needs, and He knows what we need. He is the giver of life. Sometimes trusting Him completely, with everything and everyone we love, is really hard. Daily, let’s remember to surrender to His plans.

- Tammy Dickey, NextGen Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Monday, March 26

“All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into His likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

When I think of a routine, I think of a common activity, an everyday task, or maybe even a habit. It's something I do without much thought. When it comes to routines, we have to make sure that they reflect the outcomes we desire for our lives. Right routines lead to right outcomes. Wrong routines result in wrong outcomes. To help me build right routines, I need to make changes, change my direction in ways to be more organic and true. 

If you are like me, you don’t mind if some things change because change is inevitable. However, change at times can be difficult because it requires something from us. 

The Bible is clear that change is expected in each of us so we can become what God desires. Our very first encounter with our Savior creates change in our eternal destiny-from death to life. The more we walk with Him and learn Who He is, the more we change.

Consider the changes you have encountered in your walk with God. What changes still need to occur? As we are changed into His glorious image, our actions change, our beliefs change, our words change, and our lives change. Allowing the proper change to take place in your life releases the blessings and benefits that are available to you. But it also brings life to those who see and hear you. Let change be a positive thing in your life.

- Yadi Gonzalez, Administrative Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Sunday, March 25

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure." 1 John 3:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

I don't know about you but I enjoy thinking about being lavished with love by my heavenly Father. And on top of that I am called a child of God. Believers truly are God's children. How do we become children of God? By receiving Jesus as Lord and trusting Him as our Savior. As we pursue a relationship with Jesus, we become more like Him. We are not yet what we will be one day, but when Christ returns it will be revealed.

-Kathy Simpson, Administrator/Coordinator


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Saturday, March 24

"This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you're named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls." 1 Peter 2:21-25 (MSG)

A good many things could be written about this passage as there is so much there. But take a few moments to focus on “He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right.” How often does the false self scream out for validation, justification or revenge? Jesus shows us that it is possible to let God set things right and yet we know, in our own strength, we have tried and failed countlessly. The key is continually saying yes to God and letting Him lead us down the healing path, in His time and His way. In this life we’ll fall short, but as we let Him live through us, the healing and growth we can experience is only limited by our ability to truly say yes to Him.

- Scott Harper, Associate Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Friday, March 23

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:22-25

During the Lenten season, we often think about what we might be giving up as a way to encounter God more. This year, instead of what we might give up, could we also think of aspects of Jesus that we can take on? 

Could you exhibit more of His grace and mercy to those people around you? Will you show His love to those whom are hard to love? Can you forgive those you believe are unforgivable?

Challenge: Today, choose to "clothe yourself" in Christ and see how the next 24 hours goes as you put on Christ and not your fleshy desires and wants.

- Omar Moore, NextGen Associate Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Thursday, March 22

"As the deer panteth for the water, So my soul longs after Thee; You alone are my heart's desire, And I long to worship Thee."

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God." Psalm 42:1

"...my soul thirsts for you..." Psalm 63:1

We've all experienced that blistering hot day when nothing satisfies us except that glass of cool water. Without quenching that thirst, we can become dehydrated. The same is with our soul. It can become dehydrated from our prolonged absence from spending time with God in personal communion.

Prayer: God, my soul feels spiritually dehydrated. There is a thirst for more of you that never goes away. I desire more of you each day. Amen.

- Tammy Dickey, NextGen Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Wednesday, March 21

"Now is the judgment of the world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." John 12:31-32

So, we are being drawn TO Jesus' way in the world to Jesus' news, to Jesus people who practice generosity and forgiveness and hospitality and AWAY from the ruler of this world, away from greed, away from fear, away from anxiety, away from brutality. We are all in process. We are being drawn toward. We are being drawn away.

Prayer: Draw us, Lord, toward you, toward your way of self-giving love. Draw us away from all that is not love - from the forces of greed, fear, anxiety, and brutality. In this Lenten experience of so being drawn toward you and away from the powers of the world, may we come to find that new life that is the meaning of Easter. Amen.

- Gerry Owen, Executive Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Tuesday, March 20

"This is the day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it!" Psalm 118:24

Have you ever stopped and considered that God made today for us to enjoy, to be a positive influence? Every day has the potential for great things…working with your hands, playing with your kids, cleaning the house, or sharing the love of Christ with a friend. Don’t let the distractions and frustrations of life keep you from enjoying all that life has to offer.

What sort of influence is guiding your life today? Many people struggle just trying to make it from day to day not knowing how to rejoice or be glad. But God still desires to be the greatest influence in your life. No matter what you are dealing with today, let the Word influence you in every dream, desire, and direction for your life. Jesus promises us in John 15:7, “ ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.’ ”

I want to encourage you to be in His Word every day, even if it's just for ten minutes. You never know what God may reveal to you through His Word, through worship, through a hug from a friend or even from just talking to Him in the car. Rejoice in your serving and enjoy the opportunity to encourage and engage others to do the same.

- Yadi Gonzalez, Administrative Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTION: Monday, March 19

One writer called fasting the italics of the spiritual life because it adds emphasis to other activities that we may be pursuing, like prayer, repentance and discerning God's will. Notice what David wrote…

I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer kept returning to me. Psalm 35.13

It's interesting that David doesn't write that he humbled his body with fasting. He said he humbled his soul. That's because fasting is not so much a physical discipline as a spiritual one. The physical hunger pangs and a growling stomach at first make it difficult to concentrate. But after a while, they become reminders to pray. You get used to the hunger pangs and find yourself praying, "God, I'm so hungry for You. And I want my thoughts to turn to You more often than they turn to food."

Another way of saying it would be fasting is not the way we make our prayer more effective as much as it is a way to make the pray-er more effective.

This is why David said that fasting made his prayer "keep returning" to him. Sometimes, in my busyness, I forget to pray. Or I pray for something once and might neglect praying for it for the rest of the day. But that NEVER happens when I fast and pray. My prayer "keeps returning to you." I am a much more effective pray-er, when I fast I pray.

- Keith Stewart, Senior Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Sunday, March 18

Several years ago I was reminded about the purpose and importance of a totally fit life. This included working on balancing six core areas of accountability: spiritual, physical, nutritional, mental, emotional, and directional. The following prayer, based on Romans 12, was a major part of my journey. It has continued to remind, refresh, and reinforce the reason for my existence: to honor Christ by telling others about Him and following His example of serving others. It's my hope that this daily prayer would bless your life, just as it has mine, and bring us closer to Him.

Prayer of Surrender:

Father, I submit my body to You as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to You, which is my reasonable service of worship. I will not be conformed to this world today, but I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I may know what your good, acceptable, and perfect will is.

Jesus, I coronate You as King of my life today, as Lord of my life today, as Master of my life today, and as Savior of my life today. Thank You for dying on the cross for me. I accept Your sacrifice on the cross for the atonement of my sins. I desire to be more like You today than I was yesterday.

Holy Spirit, I give you my mind, for it is written, the mind controlled by the Spirit is a mind of life and peace. Holy Spirit, direct me, guide me, teach me, empower me, and counsel me with Your eye upon me. Instruct me today in Your Word. I desire to be led by You because those who are led by the Spirit are sons and daughters of God. Amen.

- Kathy Wellman, Communications Director


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Saturday, March 17

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23

I lack nothing because He is my shepherd. Those words are easy to read but much harder to take in. To let go, give up control, be washed in the words…I lack nothing.

Prayer: Oh Lord, hear my cry. Help me to see myself as you see me. Because what I find in my own heart, if I'm being honest, is not someone who lacks nothing. It's someone who feels needy, longing for more. More from myself, more from the people around me and more from this world.

You lead me. You refresh me. You guide me. You are with me. You comfort me. You prepare a table for me. You anoint me with oil. Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.

I lack nothing.

- Kathy Simpson, Administrator/Coordinator


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Friday, March 16

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:28-30

This season of Lent is a time to reflect on what Christ did on the cross and His resurrection. Jesus knew Who He was, why He was here, and when it was completed. But at the end of verse 30, it says He gave up His spirit. Perhaps it’s just a clever way to say He died, but perhaps there is more to it. In John 10:18, Jesus says of His life, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” How amazing that Christ served, suffered, and surrendered all for us. He gave up everything to dwell among us and to save us. The challenge for us is to believe in faith this as fact, not some ancient story or fairy tale. In this light, the cry of the man in Mark:9:24 is ours: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

- Scott Harper, Associate Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Thursday, March 15

"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." - Jesus (Luke 22:42)
 
Every so often, when times get difficult in life, we tend to think about ourselves and the best way to get out of our present circumstances. We cry out, "Why me?" "What did I do to deserve this?"

Jesus didn't ask those questions because He knew His Father's will. Even though He didn't want to go through with the pain, suffering and separation from His Father, He said, "...yet not my will, but yours be done." Jesus knew what was going to happen and thought about you and me in the midst of it. That's true love! That's true sacrifice! That's doing the Father's will above your own.

- Omar Moore, NextGen Associate Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Wednesday, March 14

Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be.
Psalm 46:10

When I read each part of this verse emphasizing the bold in each part, it allows me to really think about what the psalmist is saying. How often in our busy life do we get away for solitude to just "be" with God?

This chapter starts out with times of "trouble", with roaring seas, crumbling mountains and nations in uproar. Yet at the conclusion of the Psalm we hear God speak, "Be still and know that I am God." So, stop. Be still! And in that stillness see Him as the God He truly is.

Prayer: God help me to stop in the midst of the chaos of life and "be still" long enough to see you as the God you are and to hear Your voice.

- Tammy Dickey, NextGen Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTION: Tuesday, March 13

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:5-6

I am not a quiet still person. I am not necessarily a patient person, I want what I want when I want it. I sometimes have to make a conscious effort to stop. Listen. Just be with God and remember who He is, all He is, to us.

Prayer: God, I need your promise of hope to remember Who You are and all You've done. You are my Savior, my foundation. Please guide me so that I may follow You.

- Laura Hernandez, NextGen Associate Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Monday, March 12

"Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus Christ, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross." - Philippians 2:4-8

Paul summons us to make it a common practice of self-emptying that is congruent with Jesus. Paul knew that church people tend to act more concerned for self and our pet ideas even at the expense of hurting others.

Prayer: We are eager for Easter joy and new life, and yet we are haunted by the space between where we are and where You are. Grant us a new mind, a new readiness, a new heart, that we might stand with You in self-emptying obedience. Amen.

- Gerry Owen, Executive Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Sunday, March 11

"I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." John 6:35

What a powerful verse to start off with, “I AM.” He is our everything, He is our all because I cannot be whole without Him. Fasting is to remind us that God is the Bread of Life and when we go without food, we starve our body to submit into authority, to remind ourselves that we long for the true Bread of life above all else. To have self-control over our bodies and to seek after God above all else is good for our soul. It is a way of living that we long for God in our mind, heart and body.

I encourage you to make fasting part of your regular spiritual life because the Body of Christ is the only thing that will sustain you through eternity.

- Yadi Gonzalez, Administrative Pastor


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Friday, March 9

"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6.16-18

Jesus taught us to never make a show of our fasting. Don't do it to "show others they are fasting." Instead, He offers us an alternative. He taught that the best way to neutralize our hungry egos is to practice our fasting in private so that God and God alone will see. When we make fasting private, we get ego out of the way.

Now if someone finds out you are fasting, the value of your fast has not been ruined. If others notice that you skipped lunch or others are aware, that doesn't nullify the fast. There are many times when God's people came together in solidarity to fast. The entire church in Antioch fasted for spiritual direction. So, it's okay that others know you are fasting.

Here's what you have to keep in mind, being seen fasting and fasting to be seen are not the same thing. Being seen fasting is going to happen. I don't know if you can ever prevent that unless you live your life as a hermit. Fasting TO BE SEEN is about pride.

So, let us humbly seek God together during this time of Lent.

- Senior Pastor Keith Stewart


LENTEN DEVOTION: Thursday, March 8

"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!" Exodus 15:2

Strength doesn't always end up being physical but most times requires me to do something. I ask myself if I have what it takes to put the next right foot forward on the really difficult days. Then, I remember that on those difficult days I have a Father that is always with me and will get me through it if I just ask and listen to Him.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in “taking care of business” that I make no time for my Father and his words and teachings. That’s when I find life more difficult. God gave me great ability through my hands and sometimes the hardest task is reaching out for His love and grace.

Prayer: Father, I pray that I always look to You for guidance, help and strength to continue on this path with You and others. As I live a life strengthened by You, I hear my song and know You will have me see victory.

- Tony Gardner, Facilities Manager


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Wednesday, March 7

"In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence." Ephesians 3:12

It's so simple. But do we really do it? Do we really approach God with freedom? And if we're honest, do we approach with confidence? God says we have that right. We can come to Him with total freedom to say whatever we need to say. Whether right, wrong, big or small, if it's important to us, it's important to Him. With confidence, we don't have to slip our needs in with other requests or be ashamed of our neediness. We can be bold in our requests knowing that He already knows exactly what we need.

Prayer: Father, I come to you with my neediness. Needs so great that my knees hit the floor. They're hard to speak about; words fail. And needs that are so small, surely you don't have time to hear them. But because of Your love and Your word, I know I can bring everything to You. You've given me that freedom. You've told me to hold my head up when I approach You. My needs are real and You've promised to hear each and every one of them. Hear me, Lord. Amen.

- Kathy Simpson, Administrator/Coordinator


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Tuesday, March 6

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-22

This passage cuts to the core. It’s often so easy and tempting to look at the other person and wonder about them: why do they have it so seemingly easy or why don’t I have what they have? But Jesus gets straight to the heart of the matter, “You must follow me.” It’s our challenge to believe that Jesus commands this not because He’s a tyrannical dictator, but rather because He’s the lover of our souls and knows that following Him is best for us. The One who knows us best also loves us most and where He’s leading is where we really want to be.

- Associate Pastor Scott Harper


LENTEN DEVOTIONAL: Monday, March 5

A friend of mine's wife was struggling with some major medical issues. His prayer was for God to spare his wife from the path she was on and that God would be glorified in restoring her to great health once again. He goes on to tell us about his wife. She didn't pray for restoration and healing. Her prayers were that God would give her the grace to excel in spite of her medical issues and the path God had placed her. She also prayed that God would be glorified, no matter what, even if that meant death.

Two totally different prayers.

How often do we, too, get caught up in wanting God to spare us and restore us and those that are closest to us -- instead of knowing that God has brought us down this path - the one He chose for us. God never promised it would be easy. John 16:33 tells us, "I have told you these things, so that in me, you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

God promised us peace, not ease, in the midst of trouble, pain and loss.

- NextGen Pastor Tammy Dickey


LENTEN DEVOTION: Sunday, March 4

One of my close friends told me about attending a Christian camp in Oklahoma, where he was the main speaker for the week. During worship one night, he noticed one student not singing the song, "I Surrender All."

Later that evening, he went to the student and asked her why she wasn't singing that particular song. She looked him in his eyes and said, "I can't sing the words to that song if I don't want to truly surrender all to Him".

He told me that this moment touched him greatly and to make sure we are honest with ourselves as we sing, talk or walk out what we believe. Today, take time to read the words of this song and see what they mean to you.

All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live

All to Jesus I surrender
Humbly at His feet I bow
Worldly pleasures all forsaken
Take me, Jesus, take me now

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

All to Jesus I surrender
Make me Savior wholly thine
May Thy Holy Spirit fill me
May I know Thy power divine

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

- NextGen Associate Pastor Omar Moore


LENTEN DEVOTION: Saturday, March 3

"They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him." Titus 1:16

Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. You've got to have some skin in the game. Following God is so much more than words. Of course we will all struggle with sin. We will hold a grudge. We will gossip. We will leave an apology unspoken. But we can't leave it at that. We can't leave those behaviors unchallenged. We must ask God to show them to us and help us live out His words. Through our actions we draw even closer to God. Tuck His words in your heart.

Prayer: God, I ask you show me how my actions do not match my words. I ask for your understanding and forgiveness when I fall short and pray that your words will be my path.

- NextGen Associate Pastor Laura Hernandez


LENTEN DEVOTION: Friday, March 2

"I thank my God every time I remember you." Philippians 1:3

Lent is the perfect time to set aside the busy calendars, to devote ourselves to God’s Word, to focus our hearts on the sacrifice of Jesus, to calm the rushing of our daily lives, and to still our hearts before the Lord.

Lent is a time to ready ourselves and allow Jesus to cleanse our hearts of repentance, impurities and refocus back to our first true love.

Use this time for reflection and prayer that will help you meditate and discipline your heart. It's a wonderful reminder to focus on what Jesus did for us on the cross; He paid the ultimate price for us.

Let’s take time together to be refreshed and submerged in His presence. Let's worship openly without having the restrictions of our daily duties pulling us in all different directions.

Would you take time for your first love?

- Administrative Pastor Yadi Gonzalez


LENTEN DEVOTION: Thursday, March 1

"Be careful of false prophets. They come to you looking gentle like sheep, but they are dangerous like wolves. YOU WILL KNOW THESE PEOPLE BY WHAT THEY DO." - Matthew 7:15-16

If we want to make a difference in our world... 
Live a holy life.
Be faithful to your spouse.
Be the one at the office who refuses to cheat.
Be the neighbor who acts neighborly.
Be the employee who does the work and doesn't complain.
Pay your bills.
Don't speak one message and live another.

Saint Francis of Assisi once invited a young monk to accompany him to town to preach. The novice was honored at the opportunity. The two set out for the city, then walked up and down the main street, then several side streets. They chatted with peddlers and greeted the citizens. After returning home, the younger man reminded Francis of his original intent. "You have forgotten, Father, that we went to town to preach." "My son", he replied, "we have preached. We have been seen by many. Our behavior was closely watched. Our attitudes were closely measured. Our words have been overheard. It was by thus that we preached our morning sermon."

Prayer: May we allow God to shine through our brokenness to speak to a broken world. Amen.

- Executive Pastor Gerry Owen


LENTEN DEVOTION: Wednesday, February 28

In the mean time, the disciples pressed him, "Rabbi, eat. Aren't you going to eat?" He told them, "I have food to eat you know nothing about." The disciples were puzzled. "Who could have brought him food?" Jesus said, "The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started." John 4.31-34 (The Message)

Jesus is making the point that what brings true satisfaction is not a belly full of food, but a heart full of doing God's will. Two things come to mind when I read this verse that are important aspects of fasting.

Fasting is...

o Denying one thing in order to enjoy another.

The Greek verb for "fast" means to abstain from eating. But biblically, it means it's done for a spiritual purpose. How long you fast and what you fast from is up to you and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

The other purpose in fasting is…

o Focusing on the things that are more important than food.

Fasting is going without something physical in order to more fully experience something spiritual. It's a reminder that food doesn't sustain us; God does. Or as David Legee puts it, "Prayer is attaching yourself to God, but fasting is detaching yourself from the earth."

Fasting is our way of telling God that our priority is to be with Him.

- Pastor Keith Stewart


LENTEN DEVOTION: Tuesday, February 27

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God..." Ephesians 2:8

When I was in second grade, I attended a church camp where I was challenged to memorize my first Bible verse, Ephesians 2:8. I didn't fully understand what the verse meant at the time, but I hid it in my heart. Little did I know I would learn to treasure it in that place and it would give me the power to stand against the temptations of sin.

That verse was the catalyst for a burning desire which eventually resulted in me asking Jesus into my life. I finally recognized and understood that Jesus died for me and rescued me from my own sinful nature.

And it's by grace we are saved. Grace is the underserved kindness of God. How amazing is that? God is so good to us, giving us daily blessings to be thankful for even in the midst of trials and tribulation. And, most importantly, He gave us the priceless gift of salvation and eternal life for the asking. He gave us the best gift ever…His son, Jesus. It just doesn't get any better than that.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace and what You have done for us. I pray that during this Lenten season we can remember to be intentional about reflecting on the treasures of Your Word that we have hidden in our hearts and applying them in our daily lives. Help us to love others unconditionally as You have loved us. Amen.

- Kathy Wellman, Communications Director


LENTEN DEVOTION: Monday, February 26

"Who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time." 2 Timothy 1:9

A holy life does not mean a perfect life without sin, it means to be dedicated to the Lord. God wants us to be motivated to faithfully honor and serve Him. During lent, let's go deeper in our connection with Christ and give up more than just food or materialistic things but those “little foxes” that trap us or make us stumble along our path. Here are some examples:

Comparison - You are fearfully and wonderfully made by your creator (Psalm 139), you are unique and special with your own purpose. Enjoy the differences in humanity and the beauty that brings it all together.

Blame - Take responsibility for your actions.

Pride - Blessed are the humble.

Worry - God is in control and worrying will not help.

Bitterness and Resentment - The only person you are hurting is yourself when you hold on to unforgiveness, hurt and shame.

There are so many things that hold us back from walking in the full purpose that He has for us. Remember this is the day that He has made, be glad and rejoice in it. (Psalm 118:24)

- Administrative Pastor Yadi Gonzalez


LENTEN DEVOTION: Sunday, February 25

Giving Thanks to God

O God, You are my God. I will look for You with all my heart and strength. My soul is thirsty for You. My flesh is weak wanting You in a dry and tired land where there is no water. So I have seen You in the holy place. And I have seen Your power and Your shining-greatness. My lips will praise You because Your loving-kindness is better than life. So I will give honor to You as long as I live. I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul will be filled as with rich foods. And my mouth praises You with lips of joy. On my bed I remember You. I think of You through the hours of the night. For You have been my help. And I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings. My soul holds on to You. Your right hand holds me up. - Psalm 63:1-8 New Life Version (NLV)

Focus. Focus can be hard in the world we live in. Focusing on any one task is difficult when we have so much competing for our attention. And focusing on God during the midst of the chaos can feel overwhelming at times. But that's the answer. The answer to the distractions, to our overbooked agendas, to our anxieties and feelings of inadequacies. Turning down the noise, saying no to unnecessary schedules, learning to empty ourselves, that's the key. God can pour into us when we aren't full with our own busyness. He can fill us with what we need, what we are searching for in our desire to stay busy. 

Prayer: God, I will look for you with all my heart. My flesh is weak but I have seen your power. 

- Kathy Simpson, Administrator/Coordinator


LENTEN DEVOTION: Saturday, February 24

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

During this Lenten season, we want to take time to encounter Jesus. In this story, Martha and Mary invite Jesus into their home to eat with him. When Jesus is present, Martha is distracted by all the preparations, while Mary sits at Jesus' feet.

How often do we fall into this same place in our lives? We have invited Jesus into our lives but we become too busy to meet with Him while He is there. Take time today to stop what you are doing and merely meet with Him. Jesus said, "You have chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from you."

- NextGen Associate Pastor Omar Moore


LENTEN DEVOTION: Friday, February 23

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24

Sometimes our time with God may be hindered by our knowledge that a relationship we have is "not right". God is asking us to look at what WE may have done to cause a disturbance, instead of what has been done to US. Looking at our own actions is something that is often harder to do and reconcile than the actions of others done to us. God wants renewal for us in all things, including relationships with those closest to us.

Prayer: God, I ask for reminding and knowledge of the relationships in my life that are in need of restoring. I ask for strength to take the steps to ask for understanding and forgiveness. I ask that my actions can help to renew others as well as myself and that we can come to you without distraction. Amen.

- NextGen Associate Pastor Laura Hernandez


LENTEN DEVOTION: Thursday, February 22

"Then Jesus said, "The light will be with you for a little longer, so walk while you have the light. Then the darkness will not catch you. If you walk in the darkness, you will not know where you are going." John 12:35

My Lord God, 
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me
Nor do I really know myself.
And the fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always,
Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my struggles alone.
Amen.

- Executive Pastor Gerry Owen


LENTEN DEVOTION - Wednesday, February 21

How often do we start off our day, begin a new project, or make decisions without first seeking God's will and direction? For me, sometimes, it's more often than I'd like to admit. But I don't often come to that conclusion until I'm in the midst of chaos and feel like I'm drowning.

When I first heard the song, "Oceans" (Where Feet May Fail), I was moved beyond words. It came at a time when I was in crisis. I didn't know how I was going to survive and how I could "fix" the mess. I was drowning in chaos, hurt and pain. Do you see something wrong with what was happening? I was so focused on how "I" was going to fix it and how "I" didn't want to keep going down the path I was on.

I was in the car and the song "Oceans" came on the radio. I'm sure I'd heard the lyrics many times before, but this time, it hit me. I pulled off onto the side of the road and really meditated on these words:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I had not let go and let God do His work and in His timing. I wasn't giving God total control of every area of my life. I totally took my eyes off of the only One who could lead me through...the only One that wouldn't give me the quick "fix" I thought I wanted, but really lead me where He wanted me to go. In Matthew 14, Jesus calls Peter out of the boat and tells Peter to have courage and not be afraid. Peter got out of the boat, but when he took his eyes off Christ, he was afraid and started to sink. He cried out for the Lord to save him. Immediately, Jesus reached out to him!

The song is a great reminder and inspiration for me to trust God with every area of my life and believe that no matter the storms and waves that come today, my faith will still stand.

- NextGen Pastor Tammy Dickey


LENTEN DEVOTION: Tuesday, February 20

"Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him."  John 13:3-5

One amazing part of this passage is that little word: so. Jesus knew all those things and so He got up and washed the feet of His disciples. Jesus knew Who He was, Whose He was, and where He was going. And while the right hand of the Father was His ultimate destination, His next stop was essentially the cross. And yet, He took the lowliest position to wash the feet of the disciples. As believers, we must know who we are (our real selves) and Whose we are (the Beloved) if we seek to truly deny ourselves and follow Him.

- Associate Pastor Scott Harper


LENTEN DEVOTION: Monday, February 19

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." John 5:24

Yesterday, we learned that God's will is often not done on earth as it is in heaven. Therefore, Jesus taught us to pray that God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. We learned that we have a freedom and power to choose whom we will believe and trust in. Satan would prefer we choose anyone or anything other than God.

Jesus, in this verse, tells us that we can pass from a path of judgment and death to a path of eternal life. It all hinges on our choice of whom we will believe and trust in today. Every day we choose whom we will serve. All of us have chosen poorly in the past and have suffered the painful consequences of our poor choices. All of us have suffered innocently at the hands of someone else's poor choices.

Today, choose eternal life. Choose truth. Truth will set you free. Truth is a person-Jesus Christ. Choose Jesus.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

As often as needed today, tell God that you are choosing to surrender your heart, your life, and your will to His care. Ask Him to reveal His loving presence, blessings, and grace to you in ways that you can recognize. He loves doing that for His children.

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, I surrender my heart, my life, and my will to Your loving and caring hands. Please reveal Yourself to me so that I can recognize Your presence. Please help me to believe and trust in You and Your word every moment of this day. Amen.

- Associate Pastor Lee Jarrell


LENTEN DEVOTION: Sunday, February 18

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  
John 3:16

Yesterday, we saw where God chose to send His Only Son to die a gruesome death as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.  God, in His mercy, did for us what we couldn't do for ourselves.  The path of salvation and redemption through a relationship with Jesus Christ is open to every human being on the planet.  

God's desire is for every person to choose to have a loving and intimate relationship with Him.  That's what we were created for in the first place.  That's our first and most important purpose of being on the earth.  It's always comforting to know our purpose of being alive.  

God gave us the freedom and power of choice (free will) allowing us to choose whom we will love and be in relationship with.  Countless people do not use their power of choice to choose God.  God's will is not done on earth as it is in heaven.  Therefore, Jesus taught us to pray that God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We can choose eternal life with God by believing.  Believing is of utmost importance to God because believing is what Adam and Eve did NOT do in the Garden of Eden. They choose to believe and put their trust in their own decision-making ability and trusted in their own discernment and wisdom.  Their first choice was to straight up disobey the direct command of God.  Not smart.

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for allowing me the privilege and power of choosing whom I will believe.  I've chosen poorly so often in the past and ask for Your forgiveness.  Today, I want to seek your grace and mercy to help me choose to believe and trust only in You and Your word every moment of today.  Amen.

- Associate Pastor Lee Jarrell


LENTEN DEVOTION: Saturday, February 17

"We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." Isaiah 64:6

Would creation ever be restored to God's original intent? Would man ever again feel comfortable in the presence of God? Yesterday, we saw where God provided the hope of redemption and salvation in spite of the results of our sinful choices.

Remember that Lent is the annual 40-day season recognized by the universal church to remember that we too have chosen like Adam and Eve. Lent is the season designed for us to recognize, acknowledge, accept, and confess the many ways we have made idolatrous and sinful choices. We face our fallen nature, our finite status, and our fouled-up decision making. We accept deeply in our hearts that in spite of our best intentions and efforts, we are still plain ole garden-variety sinners in desperate need of a Savior.

Lent is an intentional time of reflection where we are reminded that man's best work and attempts at restoring creation to the glory days of the Garden of Eden, have failed miserably. They are like a polluted garment before God. We desperately need a Savior because we cannot save ourselves.

At the end of our 40-day Lenten journey, we come face to face with Jesus Christ. He is Immanuel, God with us. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is the long awaited "offspring" from Eve, completely human and completely divine. He is the long-awaited Messiah, the Anointed One. He is the son of David, born of a virgin, and the only Savior worthy of, and capable of, providing salvation and forgiveness for our sin.

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for providing a Savior for me, a sinner. Thank you, Jesus, that you chose to love me, in spite of me. You chose to die a vicious death with my sin on Your body, since You had no sin of Your own. Please help me to remember and ponder this infinitely transforming truth. Amen

- Associate Pastor Lee Jarrell


LENTEN DEVOTION: Friday, February 16

"The Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." Genesis 3:14-15

Yesterday, we saw that Adam and Eve were hiding because they had made the idolatrous choice of deciding to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden of Eden.

This was an absolutely horrific choice for disobedience bears consequences. The serpent slithers on its stomach. The woman bears children in pain. The man sweats in order to eat. The earth produces thorns and thistles as well as grain and fruits. Enmity between the woman and the serpent causes the innate aversion to snakes. And death entered the world for every human will now die.

Bad choices always beget bad results. Worse yet, the bad results impact innocent people outside of the circle of guilt. The sin of one person remains a leading cause of pain and suffering in the lives of innocent bystanders.

Hope is found in that the seed of the woman (her offspring) will bruise or crush the head (or consequences) of Eden's disobedience. God shows us here the very path of redemption He will use to destroy the power and influence of the evil one.

Prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us the free gift of redemption and hope for the restoration of our relationship with You. You did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Today, allow me to remember that my choices also have consequences. Help me to choose love, mercy, forgiveness, kind words, and gratitude.

- Associate Pastor Lee Jarrell


LENTEN DEVOTION: Thursday, February 15

...the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

The finest creation of God, for whom He said was “very good,” is hiding from its creator.  The only creation of God given the special privilege of having the power of free will, the capacity to choose who and how we would love, has chosen to love himself first, not his creator. 

Once the serpent connived them into thinking God wasn’t good and didn’t want what was best for them (like the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), we know that Adam and Eve chose to take matters into their own hands.  They put themselves in charge of deciding what was best for them and by doing so, removed Yahweh their creator, from the throne of their lives. 

And their first decision while being in charge was to eat the fruit God had forbidden them to eat.  We chose to distrust an infinite God and instead trust our finite selves. Satan smiled, they hid. How heartbreaking.  How appalling.  How insulting to their loving creator. 

How are we hiding?  How have we pretended to be OK, when inside we’re racked with guilt and riddled with shame for our choices.  Lent is the time to recognize and confess our sinful choices which have driven us to hide.  Lent is the time to come clean, seek forgiveness from our merciful God, and find the hope of redemption through our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Prayer:  Our gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for creating us perfectly. Just like Adam and Eve, I too have chosen self-preoccupation and self-obsession over self-surrender and obedience to You.  Forgive me I pray, and grant to me the knowledge of Your will, and the power to carry it out.  Amen.

- Associate Pastor Lee Jarrell


LENTEN DEVOTION: Ash Wednesday, February 14

For ancient people, ashes were a part of daily life. Every home contained a fireplace for both cooking and warmth. Disposing of cold ashes was a regular chore. If death or sadness entered your house, people would often blacken their faces with ashes and weep. But why ashes? Why would people (as we see often in Scripture) be covered in sackcloth and ashes? Largely because ashes (dust) represent where we came from and to where we will return.

Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. Genesis 3.19

All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Ecclesiastes 3.20

So, ashes represent our frailty as human beings. Apart from God speaking and breathing life into our most basic elements, we are merely dust. The ashes are an external physical reminder of our mortality. We live and we die. No one is getting out of this life alive.

On Ash Wednesday, we receive ashes applied to our forehead to remind us that we are human - weak - limited. The ashes serve as a reminder that our life comes from God (a fact we too easily forget). So, ashes reorient our soul back to true north. God is God and we are not. He is the Potter. We are the clay. He is the Life-giver. We are merely dust. 

- Pastor Keith Stewart