Leave us a comment! What comes to mind when you see this picture?
BY LAURA CHRISTIE
My son had just celebrated a birthday and he was waiting on a package to arrive in the mail. We knew that Grandpa had found the perfect gift for him, placed it in a box and sent it off for his delight. However, there was a problem. The package was lost. Each day we checked the porch for the special delivery and each afternoon we were disappointed when it was empty. It seemed so frustrating. Grandpa checked on the package using the tracking information provided by FedEx. It wasn’t lost, but somehow it was given the wrong street name on the box. Traveling a course, the package had made progress on the journey according to the tracking details, but we simply could not make it arrive faster-even though we knew where it was located. Confused and delayed on where it was supposed to be arriving, the package came days after anticipated. It did arrive, just not on the time frame we expected.
Each of us represents a package. There is a plan for our lives. We are on a journey to a final destination. We matter to God. He knows what is in the package and tracks us in every breath of our life’s journey. We might feel off course, delayed, or lost. Maybe we try to address our package to the wrong street address or postpone getting it in the mail. Questions arrive. Will He drop us? What if we don’t matter? Does God really watch over us? We are not sure we want to allow God to be the FedEx driver of our expedition.
At times, though, we feel we are on the right path. It might feel like God picks up the package. Gently, tenderly he places that parcel on the right delivery truck. Life seems to smoothly travel and we rest. We allow God to move us and we arrive eager to see Jesus open the lid of our hearts like a box being torn open to reveal the precious contents. Our hearts burst, like a package full of a beautiful gift and we let others see what has made us worthy of love. The contents are just so valuable and the treasure makes the recipient so pleased. God is pleased with us. He waits for us to come to him. His porch is the throne of heaven. The creator wants us. We are a gift to him!
Every package matters. If you are waiting on a package to arrive, it consumes you and you don’t feel at peace until you see it in front of you delivered. God has timing for each and every one of his packages, people and he is tracking them. God never takes his eyes off of you. We might have someone in our life that we want to arrive at the foot of the cross, because we have already arrived there and realize just how special that relationship can be. We so want that person to see that Jesus has sacrificed it all for them. Often we try to explain to our friend that he is waiting to rip off the packing tape, pull his beloved out of the darkness of the box and into his loving arms. Jesus sees that sometimes the package gets dinted, marked, and torn before delivery. However, he knows that he is there to restore us and he can make all things new. Not everything is lost. Often, the exterior of the box doesn’t always match the contents inside. Once opened, the gift was not actually harmed in the journey; it only seemed like it.
Jesus gave several parables for the lost. He used the lessons to share with his listeners that each person, who has yet to find him, matters. Jesus teaches the lesson of the package with sheep. Knowing that in his day, sheep made sense to explain the value that each person has to God. He explains that a Shepherd will leave his flock to find the one missing sheep. This doesn’t make sense. Why leave the ones following to look for the lone straggler that left the group, wandered away and got lost in the journey? Well, it’s like the package. If you know it is supposed to be in a certain location, otherwise it will be lost; you demand that it be found. You don’t just say, “Oh well. Whatever. I don’t care about what is inside. Who needs it?”
As you go through this holiday season of packages, maybe you can see them with a different perspective, a higher story view. God is watching over you. He cares about your journey. He will protect you and guide you to an everlasting home. You just have to allow him to be your heavenly UPS or FedEx carrier. Jesus came to place his seal of approval, or address on our souls. Rest assured…you are a well loved package. Isn’t that concept a gift worth giving during this holiday season?!
The Tuesday Spiritual Column is entirely the opinion of this week’s writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Northview Church as a whole.
BY DARCY KELLEY
I was raised in a wonderful, loving family with Christian beliefs and strong morals. However, my family did not attend church while I was growing up. I have always believed in God, prayed regularly, and lived a life I think He would be proud of, but recently came to realize this wasn’t enough—I needed my relationship with God to grow on a much deeper level.
My realization began a little over a year ago with the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. As a first grade teacher, the loss of so many innocent children and teachers hit me hard and was too close to home. I needed to find some kind of peace with an event so unthinkable. I went to Sunday service at Northview that weekend. Through the songs, candles lit in honor of the lives lost, and the message and prayers led by Pastor Steve, I found the peace and hope I was looking for. This was the beginning of my journey.
I continued to attend occasional services at Northview and loved the sense of peace that overcame me each time. The Christmas service was especially powerful! It was during this time that Northview announced their upcoming study of The Story. The timing felt so perfect for me! Reading and studying this book would help me attain knowledge and understanding of the Bible—knowledge and understanding that I’d been craving. I decided to make a commitment to not only read The Story, but to also attend weekly services at Northview.
I couldn’t have made a better decision. I love how Pastor Steve delivers the weekly message and relates the events of the past to current time. I so often feel as if he’s speaking directly to me. I prayed with Pastor Steve at the Easter service last spring to invite Christ into my life. I’ve felt my relationship with God growing and developing ever since.
The Journey Home spiritual growth series also came at the perfect time in my life. Joining a Life Group, learning about myself and the relationship God wants to have with me, and participating in The Prayer Experience have impacted my life in so many ways. I, more than ever, wanted to confirm my commitment to God and fill my heart with the Holy Spirit. Pastor Steve confirmed that baptism was the only way for this to be possible. I knew it had to be the next step for me!
My baptism experience has been life changing. I was so fortunate to share my special day with family and some of my closest friends. I’ve felt so at peace since having the water rush over me. I feel Jesus working inside me. My prayers feel more powerful, Bible verses seem to have more meaning, and I feel more connected to God. As I look back on the journey that brought me to this point, I realize that the perfect timing of the events at Northview didn’t happen by coincidence. They were part of God’s perfect timing for my life. I feel so very blessed and am so very grateful for Northview and Pastor Steve. I look forward to all that is yet to come as my journey with the Lord continues.
BY PATRICK BEAM
A Northview junior high student shares his baptism story!
Recently, I was baptized at Northview. I had been talking with my family for a while about getting baptized. I was first interested in it when I went on a retreat with sixth and seventh graders from our church. I realized that it was time for me to accept Jesus as my Savior.
When we were worshiping on the retreat, the music really touched me. On that retreat, it was the first time I had ever raised my hand while I was worshiping. Since then, I had been practically begging my parents to let me get baptized.
The day they finally let me was on an open baptism day. I kept asking them during the service. Then they said yes, and I was so happy. When I first stepped into the water, I began to become a little bit overwhelmed. Pastor Steve asked me if I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, and I said yes. Then, he put me under the water and I felt so good and happy that I didn’t even feel like I was under water. It was the happiest moment of my life and I will never forget that feeling.
BY COOPER KING
I had accepted Christ when I was in High School back in Des Moines, Iowa. I remember I was on fire for the Lord back then. I was walking the walk and talking the talk. I had a very confident swagger about myself. I was a long distance and cross country runner; God blessed me with enough success to land a running scholarship to a division 2 college. But that’s where the start of my backsliding life began. You know the gig…a star athletic—I majored in running and chasing girls. I lost my running scholarship due to an indoor track season knee injury. Back then all they had was very intrusive surgery, not like today. They wouldn’t do it because it wasn’t torn!
So, I started my career in motor sports. I was karting then Skip Barber Racing school, but trying to be a driver didn’t work out; I didn’t come from a wealthy family. Plan A failed. Plan B: I figured if I couldn’t be a driver I would be the guy who worked to make the car faster—a race engineer. 27 years later I was getting to do that occasionally for various types of racing cars. Along the way, I became known in the industry for being a shock specialist. All race engineers have something they’re really good at, mine being shocks/dampers. And, I have been told I have an ability to communicate well with drivers.
Why all this background info? To explain how my life had become all about me and my career. I had been living a self-centered life and no one was going to change that, hence, one of the many reasons I had been going thru women as well. At the end of 2009 it was coming down; God was going to show who was really in control.
I had just spent my fifth year with Brumos Porsche. Five years with one team is considered impressive in racing. I was living with a beautiful nonChristian woman in Geist and had a 1500 square foot shop in Carmel. I also had a subcontract gig with General Motors Racing. I was doing shock consultation with Tony Stewart Racing for General Motors Racing on his World of Outlaw, Sprint Car and Midget teams. My car at Brumos Porsche had just gotten third in the championship for GrandAm Daytona Prototypes. Then, three of us engineers lost our gigs to Brumos cut backs. Then, General Motors tanked. With both gigs gone, I lost my shop as well.
In 2010 I went back to Indy Car racing working on Dryer & Reinbold’s Indy Car team as the damper (shock) engineer. On the way to Japan on the airplane I caught a nasty sinus infection. The intense Indy Car schedule and nonstop work was playing havoc on my health. Luckily, at the next and last race of the year down at Homestead, Fla., we spent a week which seemed to help the sinus infection.
On the way home from that last race of 2010 my phone battery died on the way back to Indy. When I plugged in my phone that night it blew up with messages from my father and sister, LaRay. They said to get home ASAP! The doctors thought my second stepmother, Peggy, didn’t have long to live.
Yes, you read that right—my father was on his third marriage. But God had finally blessed him with a godly woman after he accepted Christ at the same church I had—First Federated Church, which was very similar to Northview.
The next day I didn’t get out-of-town until late because I had to get drugs for my sinus infection. I got within two hours of Des Moines when my father called my cell to tell me that Peggy had passed away. I was devastated. In tears I continued on to Des Moines where my sister and I helped my father bury her. This is where God starts the schooling. Remember, I was still very backslidin’—God wasn’t a big part of my life.
Spending that week burying Peg, I learned what an equally yoked Christian marriage looked like. I learned how Peggy selfishly gave herself to help other women who needed help. Every Thursday night she had a women’s Bible Study group; this is when my Dad would go roller skating. Every month she wrote, printed and mailed newsletters of encouragement to other women, costing my parents roughly $400 a month. Apparently they argued about this a lot, but God always provided.
During her funeral, which actually was a celebration, her favorite song was played and sung by her best friend. Her best friend was an artist from the past who resides in Nashville, Tenn., and had driven all the way to Des Moines to sing and perform MercyMe’s, “I Can Only Imagine”. It brought me and everyone else to tears—except my father. He proudly sang along, not missing a lyric. The words finally had meaning because everyone knew of Peggy’s faith and her relationship with God. Only a year before, my father had played that very song for me while I was visiting for Christmas. My parents had gone to see MercyMe perform with my sister, LaRay, and my brother-in-law. My parents were over-the-moon about this song, but my heart wasn’t right with God, so I just wasn’t feeling it.
When I returned to Indy and reported to work at Dryer & Reinbold’s Indy Car shop, I was greeted with, “We are sorry to hear of the passing of your mother, but we are letting you go.” I was on my knees. I knew I needed God.
I used to drive by Northview when I was living deeply in sin, and think and say out loud to my then girlfriend, “It’s like a Chinese restaurant. Look at all of those cars in the parking lots; the food must be really good there!” Now, I was church shopping, without that girlfriend in my life. Peggy’s death had me wanting to reconnect my faith. I had been to two other churches before I tried Northview. Like so many of us, I made a deal with God…..silly me! I said, “Lord, if I am meant to be here, show me a sign!”
I was hooked the minute I walked thru the doors. A coffee shop and book store…yes! My kind of people! And everyone was smiling and making me feel at home. I walked into the auditorium to take a seat. Cool….they have contemporary Christian music playing. Then, I recited my deal with God to myself. Well…guess what song starts playing? Yeah, you guessed it, “I Can Only Imagine.” Are you kidding me! I’m in tears already and service hasn’t even started. Matt Bays proceeded to have me crying like a spanked two year old when the worship group performed “Our God” by Chris Tomlin. Then, Heather knocked one out of the park. See, God knows I love music—even thou I couldn’t carry a tune if it came with a luggage handle. I knew right then and there God was in the house. I could feel the Holy Spirit in this church. Ever since that day, I can honestly say that every time I have attended I have heard something I needed to hear and be taught.
Through conversations with members of my Life Group and conversations with Pastor Steve, God started to show me that I needed to take the next step. I couldn’t remember if I had been baptized after I received Christ when I was a kid. My favorite conversation was Pastor Steve asking me, “Do you remember it?” Me, “Ahhh errr….no!” He had also pointed out that maybe this was one of the reasons things weren’t going so great in my life anymore. God had forced me to my knees and I wasn’t living for him and through him. It was time to get dunked!
What was it like? Surreal or dreamlike are a couple of words. I haven’t a grasp of the English language to put it to words. I knew it was meant to be though because one of my favorite songs was playing when it was my time for Pastor Steve to dunk me. “Great I Am” by Phillips, Craig & Dean. Afterwards when I was downstairs changing out of my wet clothes a calmness came over me. I actually wanted to set down and bask in it. But at the same time I was so excited that I wanted to get upstairs and give everyone a big hug. So many of my fellow Life Groupies were there to support me and I wanted to love on them for the love they had shown and were giving to me. Now I am living Plan C, which means two things: third iteration and C for Christ.
Walk in Love brothers and sisters.
BY HEATHER GOBLE-SORRELLS
Matching negativity and accusations with kindness is not the natural worldly response. I was tested recently in a texting interaction with a nonbeliever that I had never met face-to-face. In confiding that I trust God and pull my strength from Him, I was verbally backlashed with an allegation that if I believed in God, then why didn’t I give money to help out the sender.
I was floored. Stunned. Speechless. Saddened. My heart rate quickened, my stomach churned.
I thought about reminding the sender of everything I had done for them recently and all the sacrifices I had made to help them. I considered telling them there were a lot of opportunities available, but they chose to not take them. All the negative and spiteful responses came to my head quickly so I didn’t text back right away.
Instead, I read a Psalm and a daily devotion. I polled friends on what my response should be. I sat in disbelief, unable to move on with my day. I was consumed by a type of adversity I wasn’t used to dealing with. Was the sender so lost that she would use a line similar to one Satan used with Jesus when he was being tempted in the desert? If you are the Son of Man, make water. If I was a believer, make a miracle.
Instead of responding at all, I deleted the text message. What better way to avoid the problem altogether, right? It’s not there so it didn’t happen. Crisis averted! Wrong. The sender RESENT THE MESSAGE! What? Baffled by the boldness of the sender and guilt by my initial lack of response, I prayerfully considered my response.
Instead of spouting all accusations of ungratefulness on the sender or even more Biblical trivia (since the sender didn’t seem to care about that either), I said that if I could help, I would and that I hoped to meet the sender someday. Killing her with kindness likely diffused the situation to some extent.
I read over the Psalm again and prayed. Lord, please work in the sender’s life and in all our lives to help us see You and know You more. Help us to not be wrapped up in the ways of this world. Help the sender. I don’t know how to help the sender, but You do. Bring someone into the sender’s life who can change her for Your glory.
The Psalm beat me over the head the second time. How did I miss this? Psalm 7:14 says “Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.” Now I don’t think David was really talking about a pregnant person, but I was texting with a “pregnant” person who I believe is being used by the evil one. The sender is getting into trouble and in turn has disappointment, disenchantment, cynicism, letdown, discouragement – all synonyms of disillusionment. The sender’s life is this way because she doesn’t have Christ in the center of it. None of us have hope without God.
The Psalm goes on to say “Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit they have made. The trouble they cause recoils on them; their violence comes down on their own heads” Psalm 7:15-16. To me, this paints the sender’s picture, who has financial difficulties, feels downtrodden and has dug themselves into a hole emotionally and physically that they can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel. She’s grasping at straws trying to get out of her situation. This is also like the concept that you reap what you sow. If you aren’t doing good with your life and following God’s plan, then you are not going to receive God’s blessings, you’ll be overcome by your own misdeeds.
Sometimes when adversity strikes and ‘killing’ the other person with kindness doesn’t work, pray and keep praying…
The above sentence was supposed to be the last line of this excerpt. But at the end of this writing, the sender reached out to me again. While it wasn’t a positive text per say, it wasn’t her telling me to get lost again. God works in mysterious ways. Perhaps He opened the line of communication between the sender and myself so I could minister to her. Perhaps He opened communication so I could step outside of my comfort zone and face the adversity that those in the mission field in highly combative religious areas of the world face daily. Lord, give me strength and give me Your words.
The Tuesday Spiritual Column is entirely the opinion of this week’s writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Northview Church as a whole.
BY BRIAN SHOTTON
“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” - Martin Luther
Early in 2013, Northview Church began including a miracle service once a month—because God still works miracles and answers prayers every day. In July of 2013, at Northview’s Volunteer Expo, over 45 people joined the prayer ministry. Rick Thompson, Administrative and Prayer Pastor, was amazed. “We typically see around 25 people express interest at the expo. Our Tuesday team of intercessory prayer folks has grown from eight to over 20 people.”
The prayer ministry prays over the requests of church staff and ministry leaders throughout the week. Requests are divided up in various ways. Thompson explained that it is about the timing of the request, “Many times there is an urgency to the request. I will send requests for prayer out to the volunteers once or twice a week via email. In cases where the requests are urgent, they are immediately sent out to the Tuesday Prayer team.”
Excitedly, Thompson continued, “We are on the cusp of really branching out. We have volunteers praying in the chapel after services each weekend, the Tuesday night team focusing on community and global ministries, and our email groups that pray over staff requests and ministry leaders.”
Thompson believes that Northview Church is becoming a true house of prayer as mentioned in Matthew 21:13 (NIV), “…My house will be called a house of prayer.” “Choosing to hold miracle prayer services once a month has really put prayer on people’s radar. God faithfully shows up each week and those that come for prayer are sharing how their lives are being changed through the power of prayer.”
Having led the prayer ministry for close to four years, Thompson has a different perspective than most. “Prayers are always answered. The timing is in God’s hands…I have lost count of how many breakthroughs, healings, reconciliations and changed lives I personally have witnessed. I see the power of prayer produce miraculous outcomes on a weekly basis.”
God honors people willing to step out and seek Him through prayer. Challenges, trials, and heartaches are simply opportunities to grow closer to an incredible, present and loving God.
There are myriad opportunities for people to get involved in prayer at Northview Church. Anyone wanting to experience the power of prayer can come to the chapel on Tuesday nights between 7 and 8:30 p.m. Recently, Northview celebrated the International Day of Prayer by praying for the persecuted church.
Thompson’s call to action was clear, “From the moment a person steps into the chapel on Tuesday nights or comes forward at a miracle prayer weekend, the answer to their prayer is set in motion. And as we know, our responsibility is to stand with one another and, as [Lead Pastor] Steve often teaches us, keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keeping on knocking.”
Prayer requests can be sent to email@example.com or sent through Northview Church’s Facebook page.