Recently our church in Pflugerville, TX received news that one of our members three year old daughter has AML Leukemia. News like this can be overwhelming and cause a tremendous amount of emotional suffering, let alone the physical suffering which must be battled to beat this nasty disease.
Psalms 118:24 says,
"This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
That sounds like a great verse for the days things are going well but what about the difficult days? How do you rejoice when we are suffering?
Can ask you a question? What struggle has your faith so rattled you have lost the will or ability to rejoice? Maybe your suffering doesn’t compare to Leukemia, but that really doesn’t matter, does it?
Other people’s struggles give us perspective but perspective does not give us joy, Jesus gives joy.
Rejoicing in Suffering
Let's take a quick look in the Bible at the way David, a man after God's own heart, dealt with suffering.
1Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
2Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4Let those who fear the LORD say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Can you say this outloud?
HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER
5Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.
6The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
7The LORD is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
Notice in the above verses David calls out during his distress and then declares God is on his side. In other words, his life wasn’t easy but he did not take that as a sign God had turned against him. David understood God does not always deliver us from our struggles. Sometimes God empowers us to walk through them.
Later in this chapter David makes another declaration. In the midst of his trials and struggles he lifts his head and declares the sovereignty of God and calls everyone to rejoice and be glad in the midst of the struggle.
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Freedom to Rejoice in Suffering
David made the choice to throw himself into the sovereignty and goodness of God which released him and gave him the freedom to rejoice and be glad in the midst of his suffering.
What struggle are you going through today?
What has happened or is happening in your life that keeps you from rejoicing?
Are you able to lift your head declare the sovereignty and goodness of God? Are you able to commit to rejoicing? If you are not able to do this as God for his strength and He will give it to you. Don’t let the world or the devil steal your joy. God is on your side.
You can listen to the full audio sermon on this topic on the Podcast from The Beat Church, in Pflugerville, TX.
Connect for Prayer
If you live in the Pflugerville, Hutto, Round Rock, Manor, Taylor, or surrounding areas in North Austin you can reach our Pastor by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In many ways, Texas is a beautiful state, but under the big skies and glorious sunshine, many people are struggling with depression. Depression numbers have been skyrocketing all over the United States with a 63% increase for teens aged 12-17, 47% increase in adults age 18-34, 26% increase in adults age 35-49, and a 23% increase in adults aged 50-64.
With dramatic increases in the number of people experiencing depression, you would think help is readily available. The reality is many people are too embarrassed or intimidated to seek the help they need. For those who dare to seek help it can be difficult and expensive.
High Cost of Counseling
A professional counselor can cost well over $100 an hour, which puts a weekly visit out of reach for many who struggle with depression.
Faced with the high cost of living in the Austin, North Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Pflugerville, and Hutto areas, the idea of spending hundreds of dollars a month to climb out of depression can lead to more discouragement and yes... even more depression.
The Effects of Prescription Medications
For those who have tried to get depression help from prescription medications, the results are mixed. While depression medication can help keep you from experiencing the deepest lows, it can also numb you to the joys of life. Watching zombies on tv is one thing but living like one is an entirely different story. While depression medications can be an excellent solution for temporary relief in a difficult season, many people grow tired of feeling the numbness that can accompany them.
The Dangers of Substances
Others turn to alcohol for relief. At best, the comfort of alcohol is short term, and at the worst, it can destroy lives and families. A glass of wine or a quick beer to destress at the end of the day can quickly turn into a daily routine with a need more. Mixing depression with the influence of any mind and inhibition-altering substance can be catastrophic.
Major Cause of Depression
One of the leading causes of depression is a lack of real community, loneliness, and an overall feeling of isolation.
“There’s a lack of community. There’s the amount of time that we spend in front of screens and not in front of other people. If you don’t have a community to reach out too, then your hopelessness doesn’t have any place to go.” said Dr. Laurel Williams, chief of psychiatry at Texas Children’s Hospital.
The good news is you do not have to accept isolation. While it is true that we live in an increasingly busy and isolated society, there are alternative lifestyles that emphasize community and connection.
Free Alternative Help for Depression
Our faith-based community at The Beat Church in Pflugerville, Texas, offers an opportunity to experience an alternative connection-based lifestyle with no cost to be involved. In our faith-based community, you will find that every person, including you, has value. In our love-first community, you will be supported, valued, loved, and connected regardless of any internal or external struggles you may be facing - including depression.
We have built our alternative lifestyle on the teachings of Jesus, who said, "They will know you are my disciples if you love one another." Jesus modeled a life of loving others enough to do life with them, carry their burdens, believe the best about them, and to enjoy the journey.
At the Beat Church in Pflugerville, Texas, we are committed to living, loving, and doing community like Jesus. This commitment runs deep in our hearts. Many of us have faced our own struggles with depression, anxiety, addiction, grief, anger, or stress. Since we have been through similar struggles, we do not judge others who are fighting through them. Instead of judging you, we invite you to come and do life with us.
If you want to find lasting relief from depression, it is time for you to live an alternative lifestyle. A radically different lifestyle than popular culture promotes, a lifestyle of real community and real connection.
Take the Next Step for Free Help with Depression
There is no better time to start than now and there are three easy ways you can make the next step. Choose the step that feels right for you and start your journey out of the loneliness of depression and into joy of community.
The Beat Church meets at Highland Park Elementary in Pflugerville, TX and is easily accessible to anyone living in Austin, North Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Georgetown, Hutto, Cedar Park and Manor Texas.
If you are currently looking to find a church in Pflugerville, TX here are three keys to help you find your best fit.
Do you ever wish you had "more time for ministry"? Do you wish you could focus your life on "more important and more spiritual" activities for God? Do you wish your light really mattered?
Unfortunately, our generation has been brought up in a Christian culture that has so heavily glorified being "in the ministry" that it has degraded the most common ministry of being light in a dark world.
God loved the world so much he left the glory of heaven to come and shine his light in the darkness of a world drowning in its own sin.
He left the comfortable place - full of joy, love, affirmation (they sing his praises around the clock up there) and peace and came to a place of sorrow, hate, ridicule, and war.
The closest comparison we have as earth dwellers is to leave the glory of our Sunday church environment and shine our light in the darkness that surrounds us in everyday life. The people you see right here in Pflugerville, Texas are the ones who need to see your light.
I'm an optimist at heart and I am always looking to highlight the good things happening in the world. Someone saved a puppy, the economy is growing, pro-life judges are beginning to fill the supreme court... there are so many positives to focus on.
In spite of all of these, the reality is we live in a world full of darkness in the forms of addiction, abuse, disease, poverty, corruptions and the list goes on.
Our Sunday church services in Pflugerville, Texas are meant to serve four purposes.
First, we create a place where believers can gather together and celebrate the greatness of who God is and bring glory to his son Jesus.
Second, we provide a place for believers to regularly gather and encourage one another to run the race God has for them with joy.
The third reason we meet on Sundays is for the "equipping of the saints". Sunday services are an opportunity for church leadership to equip believers with the tools and confidence to be a light and do their ministry out in the world.
The fourth reason we meet on Sunday is to be lighthouse where lost and broken people in Pflugerville, Texas can find a new life in Jesus Christ. This is my favorite reason but the reality is many of the peole God wants to reach with his love will never walk into a church on Sunday.
Sunday is not the main day of "ministry" and the church building is not the main location for "ministry". Sunday is our spiritual Sabbath, it is the day to rest, rejuvenate, and celebrate the ministry we have been doing all week!
Somewhere along the line this truth was lost.
We began to glorify the "professional Christian" and celebrate safe Sunday morning Christianity over the messy, dirty, and uncomfortable Christianity Jesus modeled.
As a pastor, I love Sunday mornings and I am so excited to experience life in heaven with Jesus! These are amazing but they are only part of God's plan for us.
Jesus said, "As the father sent me into the world so I send you." God's plan is for us to go out into our world and shine our light.
We are called to shine our light as a soccer mom, an entrepreneur, a musician, a construction worker (remember Jesus was a carpenter), an athlete, an actor and any other talent God has given us.
Paul said, "Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as unto the Lord".
The Bible is full of stories where "ordinary" "secular" pursuits brought great deliverance and prosperity to God's people. Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, and Esther to name a few.
God used each of these people in ways that would never fit into a Sunday service.
Their main spiritual contributions were in the world, gained respect in the world, and ultimately influenced the world.
The Bible tells us that "all things are held together in Jesus." In other words, everything in this world and in this life has a Jesus component to it. Everything is spiritual. God calls us all to different places and positions of ministry but he calls us all to minister.
As believers, it is vital we honor how God works in and through every part of his church family.
Yes, we want to honor the pastors and those called to minister in pastoral roles.
At the Beat church, we are committed to creating a culture where we celebrate, honor, and support those who minister outside of the Sunday service by shining their unique light in their everyday calling.
Maybe you've never looked at yourself as "in the ministry" or maybe you have but feel discouraged because nobody recognizes the value of what you do.
Be encouraged! God sees it and your ministry is absolutely vital to God's mission. He came to seek and save the lost and he wants to do that through you.
He loves a seeker-friendly church but his real desire is for us to all be part of a friendly-seeking church. He wants a church full of people who emphasize the value of ministering in the real world. He wants a church full of people who follow Him out of the comforts of our safe Christian environments to minister to those who would never walk in the door of our Sunday services.
If you have been burning with a desire to "do ministry" all it takes is to be aware God has placed you where you are for a reason. He has given you a skill and placed you in the world to gain favor and influence where you are. He loves the people around you and has placed you there to win them over.
Praise God for you, your unique gifting, and your calling! Our churches would be empty without courageous and compassionate people like you living your ministry Monday through Saturday and shining your light where it's needed most!
Yes, in God's great plan YOU and your unique ministry were made to make a difference!
Some things in life seem so far apart.
Sometimes it seems impossible to reach from where you are to where you want to be.
How can someone dealing with broken relationships, drowning finances, enslaving addictions, anxiety, depression, sickness, grief, or any other malady imagine reaching far enough to grasp wholeness and healing?
Over the years I've wrestled with the question of hope for the hopeless on both a personal level and in my pastoring role. Sometimes speaking life to an obviously dead situation seems a lot more like willful ignorance than powerful faith.
I see the situation. I see the great chasm between the hope and the reality. No amount of counseling, coaching, or encouragement will bridge the divide. In our own ability it is truly impassable.
Other times it's not a chasm that swallows the hope, but the length of the journey.
They may know they can get through it but the light at the end of the tunnel is too far away to be seen...
Hope deferred makes the heart sick. A sickness so heavy even the strongest can fall along the way.
What can we really give our Pflugerville, Texas neighbors who are struggling for hope, facing a chasm, or a road too long?
He is the answer. He is always the answer.
Not in the funny Sunday School sort of way but in the real, powerful, dynamic, God of the universe sort of way.
When their world is falling apart, it is Jesus who can truly hold it all together.
"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17
When the tunnel is too dark to travel it is Jesus who lights their way.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
As much as our egos may object, there are hurts and hardships to big for us to carry others across. There are experiences to dark for us to guide them through.
In our efforts to love our Pflugerville, Texas community like Jesus, we must always remember we are called to represent Him not replace Him.
Our strength for helping others is directly connected with our ability to lead them to Jesus.
Which is why we only remain effective when we remember that we are called to be guides not gods.
When we do our part we can rest in faith knowing He loves them enough to take care of the rest.
Over the last couple of years, we have become a dog family. The funny thing about dogs is they only know what they know, and they don't let anything else bother them.
Take this giant bean bag for instance...
Here's what they know - it's a great place to curl up and eat a biscuit.
Here's what they don't know - it cost $250.
Pretty spendy dining area for a dog but that goes to the second thing they don't know - it's not for them.
These dogs live with the belief they can use anything we own as if it was their own. They're never worried about whether they're worthy of it or deserve it. They were adopted into our home and living with us includes all of the benefits.
It all makes me wonder how many of God's blessings we miss out on because we haven't accepted them as part of the adoption package?
What if we did away with everything we know - we don't deserve His blessings, we aren't worthy, we shouldn't, we can't, He won't, and every other "n't" we have come to know and accept.
Would it be too presumptuous of us to live as if everything God has is available to us as if everything came with our adoption into His family?
The Bible is pretty clear that we have permission to do exactly that!
"Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?"
We all come to Jesus with a history of living under the rule of an abusive master. The devil promises is a taker. In fact, the Bible says he is looking to "steal, kill, and destroy".
It's easy to bring the same expectation into our walk with Jesus. Don't do it, He has better plans for us!
His plans are to give us "life and life more abundantly".
If you've been living in the corner of God's house afraid to expect anything good in your life it's time to let go of your past experiences with the devil.
Let God be good in your life. Accept His amazing grace and all the abundance He has for you.
Receive the truth of what He's really done for you. When you received Jesus you received everything else He has because He came to bring you life and life abundantly.
Are you afraid to talk to God?
Is talking to your pastor more comfortable for you than talking directly to God through prayer? Exodus 20:19 tells us that the Israelites had the same hang up.
"the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die."
Moses was touchable and tangible. He looked like them and had weaknesses like them. God.. well He was mysterious and powerful. People often fear what they don't understand. The solution, avoid God and just deal with what you know - the middle man.
Don't let the fear of a what you don't know keep you from the experience of who you could know - who you should know!
You don't have to be afraid to talk directly to God. The Bible tells us to come to God with boldness.
"So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."
Jesus came to earth and experienced life as a human. He fully understands your struggles and your weaknesses. As a pastor, I love to talk with the people God puts in my life but I am definitely not qualified to replace Him. I'm here to help you, encourage you, and show you the way to Him, not to myself.
Don't wander the halls of faith, afraid to knock on God's door and ask for some time alone. God has an open door policy and He's waiting for you to come and see Him.
I met an elderly lady named Terry at a local storage unit.
A small 6 x 10 unit with a half a dozen pieces of mismatched furniture stacked from wall to wall.
An antique table her husband had received from his great, great grandpa.
An antique cabinet they'd had together for decades. All memories of times with her husband. The husband who passed away just over a year ago.
We spent the first 10-15 minutes working out a sales price, each piece worth more to her, for what it was than what it will be to the next buyer. As a follower of Jesus, I felt the prodding in my heart to pray for her.
Of course, I didn't know if she was a praying woman, let alone if she followed Jesus. Still, the prodding continued.
I wrote her a check, loaded her furniture into our truck and prepared to leave. There were a couple of leftover items. I helped her get those into her car. That's when I finally gave in and asked the question - "Are you a praying woman?"
The question caught her off guard so I repeated it while making the universal hand sign for prayer. Placing my hands together I asked if she prays, her answer "Yes".
Next, I asked if I could pray with her for peace since she lost her husband. That's when she burst into tears. It was a short prayer, a prayer for peace which I knew would be answered because He is the Prince of Peace. The short prayer was followed by what seemed like a much longer hug.
I told her Jesus wanted her to know He saw her, loved her and that He was with her. Through the tears, she told me how hard it is to sell "their things" now that her husband is gone and how she had been praying all the way over that Jesus would be with her.
I told her how I'd lost my mom a few years ago and that I know it's hard. Then I told her it sounds like Jesus heard her and wanted her to know that He's with her. That's when we had our second hug. A longer one, a tighter one and thanks to the tears a wetter one too.
Two hugs. A great reminder that He spread out both of His arms, on the cross, to say "I love you" to the whole world; the good, the bad and ugly of us all.
I left the storage unit with half a truck of furniture and an overflowing heart. So filled with thankfulness for the opportunity to pass His love to one of His daughters.
Some people ask "where was God when I needed Him?". The truth is He was likely prodding someone next to you to reach out with His love, comfort, and encouragement. In the hustle and bustle, it's easier to ignore the prodding than to respond to it. Today I made the right choice and now Terry knows Jesus heard her and is with her.
The truth about Terry… there are more hurting people just like her around us every day. If we open our hearts and take action on His prodding they won't ever have to ask "Where was God when I needed him?" - because He'll show up and tangibly love them through each of us.
We look forward to getting to Austin, TX, and wrapping God's arms around those in need of a real life hug from their heavenly Father.
Don't be fooled by things that sound great without checking them against God's Word. This is an interesting quote and it sounds so true. A typical paraphrase of this thought would be, "If I stop living for others I'll feel better. I need to start living for me."
This is where the incomplete advice comes in. Should we live to please others? No, of course, we should not. But if we're not living to please others what should we be living for?
If we live for ourselves we will find ourselves running around the corner only to find the road has led us right back to where we started - social anxiety.
I am a former slave to social anxiety and I can tell you I was far more concerned about myself than others. Yes, I cared what they thought of me. But ultimately I cared because I wanted them to think certain things - in other words, I wanted the world to love me. I wanted the world and others around me to serve my needs for affirmation. On the surface, my thoughts may have been about pleasing others but in reality, it is just another way of being concerned about pleasing me.
I was living for myself and it left me empty and afraid.
Here's a Biblical perspective on how social anxiety can really be overcome.
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear..." 1 John 4:18
Perfect love casts out fear. What is "perfect love"?
The Bible tells us that God IS love. Since He is the love itself than His love by nature would be the perfect love we are talking about. So what does His perfect love look like?
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
His perfect love is a love that gives. In other words, perfect love thinks more about others than it does of itself.
Knowing God's love in a personal way and truly understanding this principle has freed me from the death grip of social anxiety.
Where I used to walk into a room thinking about how others could serve my need for social affirmation. Now I walk into a room thinking of how I can love or serve the other people who are already in the room.
I have no fear of missing out on their affirmations because I'm not there to get them. I'm there to give affirmation, build others up, and to share the love God has already poured into my empty spaces. He has filled my heart and mind and now it overflows to those around me.
If you struggle with social anxiety I invite you, even challenge you, to take a new approach. Give your life to Jesus, accept His perfect love, and start living to give love rather than to receive it from others.
Not only do the people of Austin, TX, need this love but it will change your life and set you free in the process of giving it away.
This morning as I was getting ready for church and thinking about our Austin church plant when I heard the clear voice of the Holy Spirit, "You won't be able to bring that where we're going."
Whether you have made a big move or just taken a short trip you know what it's like to have to leave something behind. I recently went to California to visit my brother and I had to fit everything into one small carry on. After wrestling with the limitations of my suitcase I settled on leaving my tennis shoes behind. As much as I felt the need to take them with me, just in case, the reality was I wouldn't need them in the hot California sun.
As simple as it seems, there are places God wants to take us which will require us to leave some things, we feel we need, behind.
First, there's the obvious baggage that has to be cut, the "sins" we may cling to because of our own selfish desires.
Even once those have been cut there's often still tough choices to make before we can zip our bag shut and follow His leading to our new destination. Things that give us security, comfort, and reassurance, like my tennis shoes, may actually be really good in themselves but ultimately something we have to leave behind before we can follow.
The Bible is full of these examples; Abraham left his heritage, David left his pasture, Ruth left her homeland, and Jesus left heaven. All of these left something good, for something better. Better for themselves and better for others.
By reading their stories we can see the faithfulness of God in action. When He calls us to let go, it is always because He wants to take us somewhere better, somewhere that our past or present can't get us to - our future. A future full of His promise, abundance, and faithfulness.
Every step forward requires a little more letting go. The path narrows and we have to peel more of the unnecessaries off of our packs in order to fit through.
Over the years I've had to peel off addiction, anger, insecurity, and crippling levels of anxiety. You would think I would have stripped them all off with joy...! But even hang-ups can bring comfort when you are used to living with them.
There have even been times He has asked me to let go of income, dream jobs, or other incredible opportunities and trust Him enough to follow.
Slowly, I have learned to just let go and follow. At times I may feel vulnerable, exposed, or unprepared but in the end, I have just what I need. I have Him and all of the incredible, abundance, favor, and joy He brings with Him on the journey.
If God is calling you to move forward, if He is calling you to something new, I encourage you to read His Word, study the stories of other spiritual travelers and then just let go and follow. You will always have what you need because He will be with you.