The Struggle is Indeed Real

The Struggle is Indeed Real by Pastor John Kitterman

When my children were 5 and 3 years old, the family took a day trip to a nearby softball field where Debbie was playing in a tournament.  We planned to be there all day so we packed several bags, a beach umbrella, and a cooler full drinks and food. Debbie grabbed her things and went out to the field because we were running a few minutes late.  

As I gathered all these items and the children, they announced that they wanted to help.  So, I gave them an assignment to carry a light paper sack that had some blankets and towels.  The sack had those nice twisted handles and each child grabbed a handle. I picked up everything else, checked the parking lot for oncoming cars and started out toward the field.

We made it 3 or 4 steps (into the middle of the driving lane) before they each went slightly different directions and ripped the bag.  Brandi began to cry. I put down the cooler and bent down to console her when the umbrella slipped from my shoulder and bonked her on the head.  Now she was really crying and a car was now headed toward us.

There is a popular phrase to describe these types of situations and it goes, “the struggle is real.”  There is no doubt that at times raising small children make it easy to agree that the struggle is indeed real.  Raising children presents us with an unpredictable set of challenges but “the struggle” is not limited to that arena.  Life has a way of throwing us all sorts of struggles.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you might have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).   Jesus is highlighting a difference between trouble (struggle) outside of us in the world and the peace he causes inside of us.

What we see from Jesus here is that we can internalize heavenly, shalom, peace, while the struggle swirls around us.  Jesus provides a source of peace that transcends our circumstances. There are indeed times when it seems as though God is so silent that His peace leaves us.  It’s in these moments we cling to the promises He has spoken to us personally or through scripture.

To close out my story.  A passing stranger walked by and scooped up the cooler, hoisting it up onto his shoulder.  I grabbed Brandi and we all cleared the roadway. This man carried the cooler all the way to the field.  This story is lighthearted, but many of our struggles are more serious.

In this fallen world, our struggles can range from family relationships, to financial, to dealing with the loss of a loved one.  Jesus had just explained to his disciples that he would be leaving the earth and returning to heaven. The disciples would experience the loss of Jesus’.   He explained that they would experience grief but that it would turn to joy.

What if God asked you to stop the struggle?  To stop being in a constant state of struggle.  To stop struggling against your mind.  To stop struggling against your body. To stop struggling against your family.  To stop struggling against money. To stop struggling to feel normal again.  To stop struggling against the idea that you’ll never live up to expectations.  To stop struggling against the idea that you’re not a good enough parent. To stop struggling against the monsters inside your head that no one understands.  To stop struggling against the words spoken over you.  To stop struggling against a permanent sense of loss. 

We may not be rescued from every struggle because the struggle is indeed real.  But superior to the struggle is the Jesus that has overcome the world and the struggle.  In Him we can have peace in the midst of the struggle.

What is your current struggle?  In Jesus, there is peace. Let’s trade our struggles for an internal peace in Jesus that passes all understanding.

Enter Into the Joy of My Rest

Enter Into the Joy of My Rest by Pastor John Kitterman

I pulled the covers up over my head as I rolled over in bed.  I was painfully aware of the sun streaming in the window attempting to poke my eyes and sear my face.  The sun represented another beautiful day and I wanted nothing to do with it. I dragged my exhausted body out of bed and immediately sought my morning energy drink.  Shortly after I finished the drink, it began to mask the low-grade exhaustion that had become normal for me. Life seemed to be pointing out my bodies fallibility.

We experience life in seasons and in this particular season, I thought my schedule and responsibilities were more manageable than in the previous season, so I was looking forward to less exhaustion.  Instead of feeling better I continued to feel tired. Looking back, it’s all very clear that I was simply overdue for rest.

It is 100% true that we are called to rest, yet I neglected that rest in the name of necessity and kingdom.  But rather than add the burden of guilt to me, God reminded me of a new covenant relationship that He made possible to us.  Jesus did not destroy the old covenant, rather He fulfilled it and made a new covenant. Under the new covenant we are not only forgiven but we become adopted sons and daughters.  The picture of adoption is that our old self is made dead and a new self is born into the family of God.

Jesus said, “All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him. Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

There is such a completeness of Jesus’ declaration that all things are entrusted to Him that it’s so encouraging that the part He passes on to us is an easy yoke and a light burden.  The context of His words are in relation to the dozens and dozens of burdensome rules the religious leaders of the day had placed on the people. Jesus replaced the burden of the law with the invitation of relationship.  

So when I consider my life, its priorities, and rhythms, in light of Jesus’ words, I hear an invitation.  It’s an invitation to spend time with Him. Just like Jesus made His way away from the crowds to seek an audience with God, we are invited to make our way away from the many cares of this world and seek the face of Jesus through praise, pray, and silence. Not as a burden like a heavy yoke but as an invitation to have more relationship with Jesus.

As I honor Jesus by resting and seeking His face, He is faithful to meet me and commune with me.  And the result is that the more I rest, the more vision I have. The more I sit quietly, the more I hear from heaven.  The more I praise the, more alive I feel. The more I honor God in this process, the more I align myself with God’s principles, the more I see His hand released in me and through me.

Accept Jesus’ invitation to rest in Him today!

This Is Just the Beginning

This Is Just the Beginning by Pastor John Kitterman

As we come to the close of the all church fast, we look forward to the rest of the year – a year of positioning.  Regardless of whether you participated or not, whether you feel successful or had a difficult time, whether you started late or stopped early, I want to encourage you that this process, however uncomfortable, is one of positioning.  

In the quiet moments when we intentionally and with humility position ourselves before God, we often hear His still, small voice.  Nothing about the fast should cause you guilt because the apostle Paul wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death,”  (Romans 8: 1-2 ESV).

In the process of positioning ourselves before God we have the opportunity come before Him in the same spirit as King David who wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalms 139:23-24 ESV).

The humility of the request aligns us with the words of Jesus when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the earth,” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

In humility, we drain the negative effects of pride from our lives.  In humility, we acknowledge that every gift we have comes from God. In humility, we become instruments in God’s hands to implement His will.  In humility, we agree that God is the potter and we are the clay. A position of humility sets the stage for God to move in our hearts.

As we step out of the January and into the rest of 2019, we do so with the knowledge that we are not condemned.  Instead, for as Paul wrote, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15 ESV).

Let’s tackle 2019 together knowing that we are sons and daughters of the Most High God for whom nothing is impossible!


Prayer for Marriage

Prayer for Marriage by Pastor John Kitterman

Every few years I find myself re-arranging and sorting out things in my garage.  There is a box of keepsakes that I stumble across that has cards and notes that I sent to Debbie from before we were married.  When I find this box I usually open it and pick out a few notes and give them a quick read. I don’t remember being so sappy but evidence suggests otherwise.

Young love is a great and powerful force that moves us to do things that we would not normally do.  I recall making a two hour drive for just a short visit when Debbie was off to college. It is that force of this kind of love that optimistically drives us to make the lifelong commitment of marriage.

The stresses of life, the weathering of time, the traps of familiarity, and years of unaddressed hurts can make those youthful passions of young love seem like a distant and lost forever past.  

During this time of fasting we should remember the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Prayer for your marriage:

Father God,  I pray that you would soften my heart toward my wife/husband.  Please help me soften my position and need to be right. Would you restore in me and make new my passion and love for my wife/husband?  I repent of my selfish thoughts that have contributed to a waning of my original love for her/him. I forgive them of hurts against me and I will continue to do so as you bring past hurts to mind.  I thank you for changing my heart and I look forward to a new and refreshed marriage that is filled with love and kindness.

That All Would Be Saved

That All Would Be Saved by Pastor John Kitterman

The entire purpose of Jesus’ brief trip to earth was to reconcile man to God.  So, by extension and instruction, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” Matt 28:19.  It is good and appropriate that we intentionally pray for people to come to know Jesus.

Jesus makes it clear that God’s will is that everyone be saved.  In John 6:40 Jesus says, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the day.”

Jesus tells three parables in Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.  Jesus’ word make it abundantly clear that salvation is a priority for God. There is much rejoicing for every person who is reconciled to God.  We must adopt the mind of Jesus on this – if it’s a priority for Jesus, it’s a priority for me.

Pray that Jesus puts on your heart, the names of people for whom he would have you fast and pray.  This is part of the good works that He has set aside for you to do. There are people to whom you have unique access; these are your charges.  Fervently pray that God would soften your heart toward them. Pray that their hearts as you stand in the gap and call them into the kingdom.

Romans 10:14-15 says,How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” 

Wrestling With Scripture

My mother tells me of a time that I don’t remember well.  When I was around 2nd or 3rd grade, I was walking home from the bus stop after school (back in the day when kids were allowed to do such things).  The windows of our house were open and she could hear me singing as approached the house. Suddenly, the sweet melodic sound of my voice was replaced with crying.  Our next-door neighbor boy, Luis, had jumped out from behind the hedgerow and whacked me on the head with a small pipe. You might guess that we weren’t fast friends.  Over the few years that we lived in that house we had a handful of disagreements that resulted in fisticuffs a few times.

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