12.30.18 - The Frames That We Use

An End-of-Year Message from Pastor Chris Barras:

I was talking to a friend who I knew was going through a hard time with his company. I called him up and asked, “How are you doing?” His response was, “Well, it depends on what I choose to think about. There are some great things that I can focus on, and then I feel pretty good. But there are some really awful things are going on, and when I think about them, it feels pretty bad.”

Can you relate to that? I certainly can. I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday that 2018 was a tough year for me, and I know many people in our community who are struggling with some of the most difficult challenges they could possibly imagine. Loneliness. Depression. Divorce. Death. Alzheimer's. The list goes on.

As we turn the page on the calendar this week, it’s good to reflect on all that was good, what was bad, and what lessons we can learn from the year. But as you look forward to 2019, what do you see? Challenges? Opportunities? Reasons to be concerned? Reasons for optimism? What is waiting for you?

I’m honestly not sure what’s waiting in 2019. The Lord never really reveals much of that to us, does He? He doesn’t usually tell us what to expect or let us know what’s coming. I have to think that He does that to spare us. If I knew what was coming, I might freak out and not be able to function.

But as I look at 2019, the one thing I can do is choose what I will focus on. I can choose my attitude towards things every single day. I can decide how I want to respond to adversity. The apostle Paul is one of the most excellent examples of this I can think of in the Bible. Listen to what he says about his circumstances as he is rotting away in a Roman jail, getting hungry, old and tired, and nearing the end of his life. Listen to what he says in Philippians 1:12-14:

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

He is saying, "Guys, me being in jail is really great because now I’m able to tell the imperial guards about Jesus." Wow. Would that be your first reaction to being in jail? It certainly wouldn’t be mine.

But Paul is living with a real sense of purpose. His purpose is primarily to go to heaven when he dies, and take as many people with him that he can while he is still alive. And with that as his purpose, the idea of being in jail is just fine. He sees it as one more place to share the good news about Jesus.

Paul does something here that psychologists would call "cognitive reframing." He is putting a new frame around his circumstances, and he is using that new framework to tell a new story about what is going on his life. I think we can all learn something from that.

We will undoubtedly experience some ups and downs in 2019. And no matter who you are, what you do, how much money you make, or whatever circumstances you are in, you will have very little control over a lot of what happens. (The control freak in us starts to sweat at the very thought of it!) So knowing that is the case, what can you control? You can control the frame you put around the picture. You can control what you think about.

How did Paul do this so well? How can we do it? Honestly, I know of no better way to do this than to read the scripture, quiet your mind, and pray a little bit every day. Slow down, breathe and let your thoughts get reformed and reshaped by God and His words. I’m committing to doing that in 2019. I call it RPM: Read, Pray, Meditate. Just a little bit each day. Maybe that can be your practice too in this coming year.

Challenge: Read through the book of Philippians. It's just four short chapters and it will probably take you about 15-20 minutes total, but there are some real gold nuggets of wisdom at every turn.

See you guys back at the Byrd on Sunday, January 6th to start our new series, The Main Thing!

12.16.18 - Joy

Joy to the world! It's just that simple, right? Sometimes exuding "joy" feels like an expectation during the holidays when it can be the last thing that we are feeling. What does it mean to have Biblical joy despite the ups and downs that life throws at us? In this week's message we looked at what scripture says about how to cultivate joy in our every day lives.

12.09.18 - Peace

"Peace on earth and mercy mild"? Where is this peace on earth that the birth of Jesus was supposed to bring? Nations are still at war. Violence still rages in our streets. There is often not a sense of peace in our own families. In this week's message, Pastor Chris Barras looks at the peace that Jesus brings to us and look at how we can truly access it.

12.02.18 - Ready & Waiting: Hope

At Christmastime, a lot of people make a wish list. It’s a list of things they hope or wish would happen. But for followers of Jesus hope is more than a wish. It’s more like a certainty that hasn’t been fulfilled yet. In this week's message, as we launch the Advent season, we look at the concept of hope and how we can live in the space where our hopes are not yet fulfilled.

11.25.18 - Lay Down Your Life

In theory, we like the concept of sacrifice - where someone gives up something they love for something they love even more. But to be the one who sacrifices? To be the one who gives up something that they love? That’s hard. 

In this message, we look at the hero/anti-hero named Samson from the Old Testament and look at how in spite of all his failures he still give up something he loved for something he loved more.

11.11.18 - Rage Monster

It seems that these days outrage is all the rage. And men in our culture seem to be pretty angry. But why? And what can be done about our anger? Should we stuff it down, or should we fully express it? 

In this week's message, we looked at the ancient man in Israel named Samson and see where his anger got him in trouble and how we can better handle our own.

11.04.18 - Unchecked Desires

When you survey the landscape of our culture you see a few places where men consistently stumble and make a wreck of their lives. There are some desire inside of me that if left unchecked will burn men down. In this message, we will look at the ancient account of Samson and see the places where he fell and see what lessons we can learn about how to handle the temptations that face us now.

10.28.18 - Born for What?

Masculinity in our culture is a hot topic right now. What does it actually mean to be a man in America today? What is expected of men? Where are men getting it right? Where are men dropping the ball?

In this new series, we will look at what God calls men to be and learn how we can live that out in a rapidly changing culture.

10.07.18 - Dealing with Difficult People: Friends

Close friends sometimes drive us crazy. Family members can criticize and make life hard for us. And, if we are honest, sometimes we make ourselves crazy.

In this three-part series, we will look at how we can handle the difficult people of the world by looking back at an ancient leader who was surrounded by difficult people. In this first message, we will look at the challenge of having difficult friends. 

09.16.18 - Game Changer

Throughout history, many people have seen their lives change because of Jesus Christ. But how does that change happen? What shifts take place inside of us to bring about real transformation?

In this message we will look at what it means to be a transformative church that changes lives in the city for the city and we will examine one of the first people who ever had their life changed by Jesus.